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Re: how to change C-x prefix to C-k in a clean way?

From: B. T. Raven
Subject: Re: how to change C-x prefix to C-k in a clean way?
Date: Sun, 15 Mar 2009 23:18:51 -0600
User-agent: Thunderbird (Windows/20081209)

Rustom Mody wrote:
<Xah wrote>
i learned dvorak in 1992 or 1993. More or less due to my
nerdiness towards better design. I don't have typing speed
problem nor RSI in anyway.

I guess anyone using/working with/working on emacs has to be almost by
definition a productivity-junkie starting with rms, going on to the
fancy modes for programming and sysad support of the last couple of
decades and today's hot stuff like org, icicles etc.

I toyed with the idea of trying dvorak for a while but then somehow
came to the conclusion that it does not go far enough.  You see dvorak
was invented in the age of mechanical typewriters which had two
fundamental assumptions (or invariants in programmerese)
1. The typist can type only 1 key at a time
2. One (key)stroke generates exactly 1 letter

Obviously neither of these is a necessary assumption today though both
are universally assumed.

Well 1. has the exceptions like Ctrl/Alt/Shift but these are very
minor exceptions if you compare them with the possibilities of
full-scale chording which you may appreciate as a pianist! A
simplistic estimate of this being: 10 fingers -> 26 letters means
(partial) functions from a 10 element set to a 26 element set, which
is 27 raised to 10 (thats a number in trillions!)  This is way more
chords than any reasonable sized dictionary and hence every word could
be in principle 1 single chord, ie keystroke.  Even if this set is
pruned many billions of times for eliminating inconvenient/impossible
chords.  Nevertheless the hundred most frequent words of English ( ) could
easily be assigned one unique chord and that would mean 1-stroke
1-word (strangely comes back to Chinese by a back door).

Ive not gone into this more because even simple keyboard hackery like
flipping Ctrl and CapsLock causes so many problems in practice that
full scale converting of a qwerty keyboard into a 'piano' is a little
technically daunting.

So let me go on to point 2 which (I hope!) is more feasible and
productive -- in a word abbrevs. Evidently even adding a few dozen
abrevs for the most commonly used words that we use in some context
would significantly reduce typing.

But trying to explore this further Ive started studying the alphabetic
shorthand called keyscript [ ]
It has a whole system of shorthanding English into ASCII with some
fair amount of 'logic'.
Here is a taste (though not the logic) :

One letter abbrevs for the most common words
b = but
c = with
d = had
e = this
f = of
g = that
h = the
j = which
n = and
...etc etc upto
z = was

then common phrases
able to  = cb
had been = dn
do not   = dx
did not  = ex
does not = dsx

and a few dozen other abbrevs like

become = bc
better = bee
before = bf
being  = bg
below  = bl
consequences = csqa
unfortunately = nxf
same = sa
said = sd
such = sc
statement = ztx
sufficient = sfj

The significantly noticeable thing is the comfort. I didn't realize
it until in late 1990s, when sometimes i had to go back to qwerty
as a sys admin, and the first thing to note is that the fingers
jump wildly.

I am sure you can see that the 'wild jumping' you describe as reducing
from QWERTY to dvorak would reduce very significantly with such a
system -- dont you think?

The only problem is that -- as a confirmed productivity junkie -- I
realise that working very hard to become more productive is a surefire
way of doing no real work!! Ive spent about 3 weeks on this and I am
really sweating!

Your modest proposal is brilliant in some as yet to be specified way. The only problem I see with it is if it has to be read aloud. For example, nxf e dsx bc bee if read out loud should probably be spelled out in full. So, since so much time and space is saved by abbreviating words, there will be a concomitant opportunity to actually expand the individual letters, as in areeeayeellellwye essdoubleyoueeayeteeeyeengee! The only thing I am not sure of is whether that 26^10 (~141 trillion)is even close to being equal to c(26,1) + C(26,2)+ .... C(26,10). But it doesn't matter. The few hundred key combos in the repertoir of even the most accomplished power user is a tiny fraction of those potentially available by combining modifiers (Shift, Control, Meta, Alt, Super, Hyper) with the other fifty-some keys within easy reach. For instance, I just queried the binding of C-H-M-s-^ and found that it was undefined. Surprise, surprise.

Still Xah is right about Dvorak. It's about 10% faster and 30% less taxing. (Numbers grabbed out of the air that seem about right.)

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