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Hi and thank you for your work. on this podcast, always a pleasure to listen !

About [AltGr], I was taught in school (it was more than 30 years ago) It stood for Alt-Graphic, and brought out some graphic variation of some characters. The explanation only works for a few keys and I don't believe it's actually true. I can attest that when the Euro symbol was introduced, it was mapped to [AltGr]+[E], but it's the only letter key where the [AltGr] variant is engraved onto the keyboard. On a French AZERTY keyboard, the only keyboard keys engraved with the [AltGr] variant are the number row above the letters (from 2 to 0), ), =, $. (in blue here)


(Source : WikiMedia)

100% of the people I know have no idea about the combinations that are not engraved on the keyboards.

DVORAK is targeted at people typing a lot (and those whose typing is most of their work), but the same people have their original keyboard layout in their muscle memory, which renders it less desirable. DVORAK is also much more difficult to find to buy, so companies tend to avoid DVORAK. I myself don't want to learn a layout which I have no chance of encountering in the wild.

On the alphabetical keyboard, there is a much much worse one I encountered : the numeric keypads with the number reversed row order. I burned a credit card (chip+and pin here) because of this !


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I use Dvorak programmer (dvp).


(note that you have to press shift to get the number keys. The default output for the number row is all symbols.)

I taught myself vanilla Dvorak in high school, and when I was 17 I decided to switch to Linux cold turkey. I switched to programmer Dvorak simultaneously. Then I went to college for computer science (later math) and learned how to use all the emacs shortcuts using dvp. I also learned LaTeX after I started using dvp, and that's how I do all of my word processing, and how I take class notes now that I'm in grad school.

I completely understand people not making the switch to Dvorak, but I have no idea how people "live-TeX" (take math notes in LaTeX during a lecture) without programmer Dvorak, it seems like it would be the most insane finger workout with all of the parentheses and brackets flying around. But no, it's not faster typing when you're not programming. I had to do a ton of practice with dvp to see any improvement, and I would have gotten the same improvement practicing qwerty the same amount.

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I understand the phonetic reasoning behind saying q x and c aren’t necessary for the English language. But then I would have to change my name from Callie to Kallie and I’m not okay with that. Ask anyone who has a slightly uncommon name or a name with multiple spellings people getting your name wrong is frustrating and so I now have a strange dislike for the letter K it’s too sharp I like my rounded c.

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HEY! You happened to wander by one of my passions again! ? (which means another long, thorough post. ? )

In this episode you talked a lot about the Dvorak keyboard layout and how there's a few benefits but not really enough for most people to justify learning it. There's a newer alternate layout that I have learned and get excited about sharing! This new layout is called Colemak. (https://colemak.com/) Checkout their website to learn more, most of the info below came from their site. There are quite a few advantages to Colemak over both Qwerty and Dvorak.

First, and probably the most practical reason to consider learning a new keyboard layout, Colemak reduces hand strain. I have noticed this myself after learning Colemak and switching back and forth between it and Qwerty. After long periods of typing while writing college papers, I noticed my wrists and hands hurt more when using Qwerty. Colemak was designed with the aid of modern computers to optimize hand and finger movement which reduces strain. Colemak reduces finger travel, reduces the number of times the same finger presses subsequent keys, moves more frequent letters under stronger fingers, and is optimized for "handroll combos" where outside keys are pressed before inner keys creating a rolling motion (for example "first" or "stars"),

Second, and probably the biggest obstacle to learning a new keyboard layout, it is designed to be easy to learn and transition from Qwerty. Only 2 keys move between hands, so it's easy to remember the general location of a key. The keys Z, X, C, and V don't move, which means the shortcuts for Ctrl+Z/X/C/V don't move either. Most punctuation also stays in the same place as well. They also have lots of options for typing tutors and programs to teach you Colemak. 

Third, there's actually fairly broad support for Colemak. It comes as a built-in optional layout on Mac, all flavors of Linux, and Android. Windows only requires a small download that adds it as an option. Then you can switch between them as needed. Alternatively, there are scripts that can re-map the keys as you type for computers you can't install programs on (i.e. at school, work, etc.)

I taught myself Colemak about 7 years ago and for about 2 years I used it exclusively. I actually forgot Qwerty for a while and had to relearn it at one point. Because of that, Colemak has become my "native" layout and when I'm tired I'll default to Colemak, even if I'm on a Qwerty computer. Since relearning Qwerty, I type in Qwerty during the day at work, and Colemak at night. My brain can actually keep them straight and I don't have trouble switching between them, though sometimes on days off I start typing in Qwerty at home because it's daytime. 

As noted in the episode, most people who are proficient typists in Qwerty probably won't notice a large increase in speed as thinking speed is usually the limiting factor. But, for people who type quickly, or for long periods, they will definitely notice reduced hand strain. Most people don't really need, or want, to spend the time and effort to learning a new layout, but I think Colemak offers some good benefits for those who are interested.

Thanks for another fascinating topic and digging up stuff for me to learn, even though I'm familiar with the topic.

Also, thanks for incorporating feedback and discussing listeners reviews and comments on the show, it really feels like we get to be part of the conversation. I hope you can continue to do that even as your number of listeners continue to grow.

Colemak Layout:


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Love you guys loved this one especially, because i love keyboards and computers and history.


So I was pretty sure it was called alt grave, but ...

 It seems that it is called the Alternate Graphic Key from IBM's website glossary of terms:

The key to the right of the space bar on a keyboard. Alt-Gr keys provide access to characters engraved on the front face of a key. Alt-Gr keys are usually combined with other keys to generate different graphic characters.

also sun keyboards label the key the alt-graph key (see attached image)

it being called alt-grave may be because it provides access to alternative accents and this one: À is an A with a grave accent as opposed to, this one: Á  which is an a with an acute, i learned this from working in typesetting and having to make sure all my fonts have all the proper characters etc. and i double checked the unicode standard (so as not to make a fool of myself).


OK. so facts out of the way an anecdote: I was working as a barista and a free lance web developer for a time, and as such was doing a lot, a lot, of repetitive stress injury to my wrists, with the typing and although you may not think it operating an espresso machines is one of the highest jobs for risk of carpal tunnel syndrome. I switched to dvorak in a last ditch attempt to maintain my productivity and be able to stop wearing wrist braces. Long story short it worked. I have never reached my peak qwerty typing speed although I am still a very proficient touch typist, and I have not had any serious problems with my wrists and no more numbness etc. since switching. Maybe its placebo, who knows.


Any way thanks for the podcast hope you dont mind the fact blast back at you, always enjoy your work and also cant leave reviews on google podcasts.


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Funny observation about AltGr, Simon. US standard keyboard is probably one of the world's few that do not have AltGr key as there are no "funny characters" in English.

Since I'm Polish, I see this every day.  And probably, since Simon lives in Czech, it's also necessary to get some hidden characters, should he decide to type in Czech

AltGr also has this "magic function" that it can be used to type "secret" characters when used with numeric keyboard (doesn't work otherwise) :

[AltGr]+ Num 1

[AltGr]+ Num 2

♥  [AltGr]+ Num 3 (longer list below)

Also I speak more than PL & EN and I this is what you get with AltGr in Windows

French (Canadian)






English international



or Czech :) but funnily all the czech letters are where the the digits should be



"secret characters"

☺         Alt 1

☻           Alt 2

♥         Alt 3

♦          Alt 4

♣         Alt 5

♠         Alt 6

•             Alt 7

◘             Alt 8

○           Alt 9

◙             Alt 10

♂           Alt 11

♀           Alt 12

♪           Alt 13

♫            Alt 14

☼            Alt 15

►           Alt 16

◄           Alt 17

↕            Alt 18

‼             Alt 19

¶             Alt 20

§             Alt 21

▬           Alt 22

↨              Alt 23

↑           Alt 24

↓           Alt 25

→           Alt 26

←           Alt 27

∟           Alt 28

↔          Alt 29

▲           Alt 30

▼           Alt 31

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Yeah, the Czech keyboard with the characters instead of digits can be frustrating. Mostly happens when I'm typing in a password and getting constantly denied.. then I realise that instead of entering a 3 Ive been typing š over and over again...

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I just listened to Part three of your tech series. Some notes:


- MUD = multi user dungeons = first online dungeon and dragons type sites. Also includes role playing and chat sites. 

- There were also 8 inch floppies available in the 70s which were soft like the 5 1/4 inch ones. They didn’t hold much. 

- As far as disk drive naming conventions go, D came next in the lettering scheme, but CDs predated DVDs.

- If you buy SPAM, fry it before you eat it. 

- The people who did computations were called computers. They did more than data entry. When IBM started building machines to do this faster, they became the computers. This is mentioned in the movie “Hidden Figures”.

- Yes, they were called worms in the 80s. 

- I’d gladly do your Brain Food intro! Seriously. I’ll send you a demo. 

Thanks for all the hard work!


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I came on here to mention the frying spam thing!

VERY VERY Important to fry it till it gets nice and caramelized before you eat it.

Oh and Daven,

regarding computer Worms: I was always under the impression that worms were in reference to a subset of virus meant to duplicate and spread out while remaining undetected in the background either doing some small unobtrusive task or waiting for a command, the ones i remember were all controlled on secret irc channels and I think they have essentially evolved into today's botnets.

Also I have been reading a lot about the history of LISP and am really curious / would love to hear an episode on the artificial intelligence winter. It was something that i was going to school during in the US ( I am 34 ) and I was completely unaware at the time of the past of AI and even really of the field itself, deep blue felt like ancient history to a kid and there was nothing on the horizon. 

Just food for thought, thanks again for all the pod casts and the great research and entertainment.


-long term fan, recently engaging.

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I'm surprised that neither of you knew about MUDs. They're called dungeons because they're really primitive MMOs. See


MUDs still exist, and some of them are super old.


Regarding SCSilk's message. My wife and I are both mathematicians, and Hidden Figures was the least cringy movie with math in it that we'd ever seen.

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