The Dvorak Keyboard Controversy

The Dvorak Keyboard Controversy

When I was first learning to type, many years ago, I asked the same question everyone else asks: why are the keys arranged so stupidly? Why aren’t they laid out in a more logical order, as in, just to take one random example, alphabetically? The answer I’ve heard countless times is that the first typewriter keyboards were arranged alphabetically, but that caused mechanical problems—once typists became reasonably proficient, the keys jammed frequently because the hammers corresponding to certain frequently used letter sequences were too close together. As a result, so…

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Palais Idéal

Palais Idéal

The topic of weird, elaborate structures built by wealthy eccentrics has come up repeatedly here at Interesting Thing of the Day—think of the Winchester Mystery House, Neuschwanstein Castle, and Hearst Castle, for instance. Today we add to that list a palace constructed in its entirety by an eccentric of modest means: a postman named Ferdinand Cheval. The story begins in 1879. Cheval, then 43 years old, had been working as a rural mail carrier in the southeast of France for 12 years. Because his daily routine involved walking about 20…

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