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Re: How to type when using Emacs?

From: Evans Winner
Subject: Re: How to type when using Emacs?
Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2008 12:57:24 -0600
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.0.60 (gnu/linux)

Miles Bader <address@hidden> writes:

    One thing you'll learn on this group though, take
    _everything_ Xahlee says with a huge grain of salt.  He
    has his own wacky theories about almost everything, many
    of which are just plain daft...
I found his page about the ``Emacs-Pinky Problem'' very
interesting.  I was never properly trained on touch-typing,
so my technique is an ad hoc evolution of hunt-and-peck to
about sixty wpm if I am really trying.  I had never
seriously thought about the possibility of using (gasp)
/both/ the shift keys, or /both/ the alt or control keys.
So that already is useful.

I am also considering buying one of those Microsoft
keyboards that splits into a distinct right-hand and
left-hand portion.  From a brief examination at a store it
seems as if it might help me train myself out of some of my
pianist's ``hand-over'' techniques that I use (and that are,
I am sure, quite inefficient).

I have a few of questions and comments inspired by Mr. Lee's

1.  I have not tried the Dvorak layout but might like to.
Have you ever tried the ``Programmer's Dvorak[1]''?  Any
thoughts?  I know that coding in lisp and in xml-like
languages, not having (, ), <, and > on shifted keys and
having them in convenient and left/right balanced positions
would be nice.

2.  Also regarding Dvorak, is there a good way to re-label
keys that you know of?  Something for a shared PC would be
nice if it, for example, had QWERTY labels in one color, and
Dvorak in another.  Maybe just print out letters on envelope
label paper...?

3.  I notice that you recommend swapping ctrl and alt at
least under some circumstances.  I have been a pretty happy
user of the caps-lock/ctrl swap for some time.  For me it
feels more awkward to tuck my thumb under my hand to hit alt
than it is to move my pinky slightly left to hit ctrl.  Am I
unusual in this?

4.  I have noticed some advice here and there to swap the
escape key with the key left of the `1' key, making it much
closer.  Since Emacs uses alt and Escape nearly
interchangeably, maybe that would be the smart thing to do,
and then use escape instead of alt -- and then you get the
benefit of not having to hold down the key while hitting
whatever other key.  In any case, actually maybe swapping
escape with alt would be something to try....

5.  And speaking of holding down keys, I have noticed that
people seem to say that, for instance, hitting C-x C-f would
mean hitting ctrl, then hitting x, then hitting ctrl and
hitting f.  But I (and I imagine most people) actually hit
ctrl only once and hold it down for the whole operation in
many cases.


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