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MIT student blogger Sam M. '07

Symphony 9, Op. 95 “From the New Blog” by Sam M. '07

I'll to pay you to hang out with me and watch me type.

Reading a seven-month-old issue of People, I discovered this week that Gwen Stefani, in addition to designing a bizarre new line of clothing, has now taken to paying an entourage of four Japanese girls to follow her around as a living fashion accessory. Her inspiration in this endeavor was apparently the girls who hang out in the Harajuku shopping district of Japan and wear funky punk-rocker clothing. It occurred to me that when I am wealthy and powerful (no doubt as a result of my MIT education), rather than buying a huge house or a penthouse apartment or taking lavish and exotic vacations, I’m just going to use my fortune to pay people to follow me around and make me look cooler.

I’d like to dedicate this entry to the 44 people who checked out my blog yesterday even though I haven’t updated in 6 days; you guys are my American Idols.

I also discovered while reading Guns, Germs, and Steel that the QWERTY keyboard that Western Civilization knows and loves so well was actually designed to reduce typing speed. It turns out that on the first typewriters ever invented had a tendency to jam up if adjacent keys were struck rapidly in succession. So, the QWERTY keyboard was created with two goals in mind: a) minimize the number of adjacent keys struck while typing, therefore requiring as much separation of the hands as possible b) slow typing speed to prevent and key breakage at all. To accomplish the latter, designers placed the most common letters on the left of the keyboard, ensuring that right-handed typists would be forced to rely on their weaker hand as much as possible.

In the 1930’s, when typewriter were more durable, making these initial design specifications obsolete, the typewriter/secretary industry (“Big Typewriter”) was already powerful enough to resist any change in keyboard layout, even though studies with improved layouts, such as the Dvorak keyboard, showed that the QWERTY keyboard was 95 percent less efficient. So, I decided that it’d be a good idea to learn how to use the Dvorak keyboard and thereby increase my efficency 20 times. Plus, I thought I could put it on my resume and then have an amusing anecdote to tell when asked about it at interview.

Unfortunately, according to Froogle, Dvorak keyboards normally run in the range of $60, and even a set of overlaying stickers, to convert a normal keyboard to Dvorak, would set me back about $20. That’s just stupid. So, I’m hoping that I’ll either be able to find one abandoned in a basement when I get back to MIT or that Ben will buy me one to advance the cause of my blogging. Wish me luck!

I’ll be back at MIT tomorrow night to organize my train-wreck-war-zone-hit-by-a-tornado mess of a room.

Oh, and I shudder to think at how fast Mitra would type on a Dvorak.

3 responses to “Symphony 9, Op. 95 “From the New Blog””

  1. Phil says:

    Guns, Germs, and Steel is an awesome book.

    If you want a Dvorak keyboard, you can try to pop the keys out of your current keyboard and back in in a different layout. It works great on laptop keyboards and is probably a little harder on real keyboards.

    Those evil typewriter cartels…

  2. Terri Riter says:

    Yay! Sam’s back!

  3. Mollie says:

    1. Gwen Stefani is weird. Her clothing line and new album apparently have the same name. (I learned this while getting my hair colored yesterday. Woot for old issues of celebrity gossip rags.)

    2. Jared Diamond is awesome. Have you read Collapse?