Learning the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard

This is a brief instructional blog post on how to switch to the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, an alternative to the standard QWERTY keyboard layout used by most English speakers. The advantages are that it is much faster than QWERTY, and it involves far fewer hand movements, making its users less susceptible to RSIs like carpel tunnel syndrome.

First thing I would recommend: DO NOT buy stickers for your keyboard, or a keyboard with the keys in a different layout. These will help you short-term, but will be a serious hindrance in the long-run. By not having the keyboard layout visually correct, you will be unable to look down, and will be forced to learn to touch type. I know that myself, even though I could mostly touch-type QWERTY before, I still looked at the keyboard a lot. Now, I don’t need to do it at all. This allows me to type a lot faster than I could before, even ignoring the advantage inherent in the Dvorak keyboard.

A good idea would be to print out a copy of the Dvorak keyboard (linked directly below this paragraph), and place it under your monitor, where it can be easily seen. Draw lines under the U and H, just like on the F and J on a QWERTY keyboard, to help give you a visual reference.
http://www.theworldofstuff.com/dvorak/dvorak.png

Then, go to the keyboard preferences, and install the Dvorak keyboard. Let me know your Operating System and I can provide more detailed instructions on how to do that, but it’s quite easy. No CDs or downloads required.

Next, you should find somewhere you can take lessons online. I’ve posted two of the sites that I used when I made the switch.
http://www.powertyping.com/dvorak/typing.html
http://www.typingweb.com/tutor/

Now comes the key point: type in Dvorak as much as you can. Let your friends know what you’re doing, and tell them to expect slow responses on Instant Messengers and Facebook, etc. Only go back to using the QWERTY keyboard in times where you really need to type fast.

Two extra pages that can be really useful, are
http://www.theworldofstuff.com/dvorak/
http://www.theworldofstuff.com/dvorak/compare.html

I hope you can keep in touch and let me know how it goes! Comments on this blog are appreciated, and if you Reddit, then consider joining /r/dvorak
Good luck!

YouTube Easter Egg: Let Google Rick Roll you!

I just discovered a cool little Easter Egg that YouTube has included in its HTML5 version.

By going to http://youtube.com/html5 and joining the experiment, the right click menu on a video will give you the option to ‘Save Video As…’ If you click that option, it takes you to a video of Rick Astley’s song ‘Never Gonna Give You Up, better known as the Rick Roll video.

Why not use this as a clever way to Rick Roll your friends?

Picture instructions on how to join the HTML5 experimentA picture showing the context menu when you right click on a YouTube video

A quick side note, this will only work with videos that do not display ads. The HTML5 player can’t display ads, so YouTube reverts to the normal Flash player, even if you’re in HTML5 mode.

To switch back to the normal Flash mode permanently, just go to the same page, and click ‘Leave the HTML5 Trial’

If you liked this post, please consider sharing it with friends and leaving a comment.

How to update Facebook from Twitter

This post looks at how you can easily update Facebook and Twitter at the same time, while only visiting Twitter, or your favourite Twitter client.

  1. Go to Facebook, and search for “Selective Tweets”

    Select the App with that name.
  2. Type in your Twitter handle in the box next to the “@”, and click “save”
  3. Then just append “#fb” to the end of any tweet, and it will automatically be sent to Facebook as your status. Read past the break for a few little extras

  4. One final thing you can do is choose to be able to put the #fb anywhere in the tweet. The developer mentions that there can be some complications to this, however. If you want to do this, go to the settings, and put a tick in the box next to “Allow the #fb tag anywhere in the tweet?” You should then be able to put #fb anywhere within the tweet to send it to Facebook.

Please leave a comment, was this useful or not? Do you know any good alternatives? What did you think of the post? Or just any general comments.

Creating Panoramas in Photoshop CS5

How to create a panorama in Adobe Photoshop CS5 using photo-merge and content-aware fill.

  1. Open Photoshop
  2. Open the photos you want to use to create the panorama (this is not essential at this point, but makes it easier)
  3. Go to File -> Automate -> Photomerge
  4. If you have opened the files already, click “Add Open Files”; if not, locate them now by clicking “Browse”
  5. Usually “Auto” is best, however you may want to experiment with others, especially spherical, if you have taken a 360° panorama.
  6. Allow Photoshop to chew through that and create a rough panorama
At this point you have two options to fix the panorama to a perfect rectangle
  • Crop it
  • Use “Content-aware fill”
    1. Merge all the layers into a single layer
    2. Use Magic wand tool to select transparent background
    3. On Mac, press “Shift F5” (or fn Shift F5, if your function keys are set to the Apple functions, such as altering brightness); on Windows, press delete.
    4. Make sure it is 100% transparency, with Content-aware fill: these should be the default option. Press OK
    5. Repeat steps 2-4 as necessary for other sections of the background.
Be aware that content aware fill may take a long time to complete, and will slow your computer down as you do it. If the blank area is large enough you may need to break it into smaller sections — Photoshop will tell you that you do not have sufficient RAM to complete the task. I had this occur with 4GB of RAM on the larger of my two panoramas.
Comments are greatly appreciated. If you have any suggestions, queries or just a general comment on the post please leave a comment.