Going Commando - Put Down The Mouse

“Further, productivity is not measured in speed of “coding”. Unless you’re a monkey implementing pre-designed features without any creativity, speed of entering lines of code is the least factor for your productivity.”

I’m sorry, I have to disagree here. Everyone is different. I think in words, not in images or sounds. The most efficient mediums to express my particular creative thoughts are an IDE, notepad, email, chat etc. I can be extremely productive and do great things if I can get those thoughts down and out. Pausing to use a mouse or pick up a pen disrupts my thought process. It’s too easy to be distracted at that point, I’ve lost my focus. While I’m mousing towards a button, I’ll notice I’ve got new email or I’ll hear a side conversation, and that genius idea fighting to get out has just disappeared into the ether. To me at least, using the mouse is like an artist stopping a masterpiece to go to the back and find the right shade of green. Forget productivity, what if the whole vision is lost in that time?

My favourite shortcut by far is alt+tab to quickly switch between windows. You can navigate to any open window by holding alt and pressing tab the required amount of times but the nicest thing about it is that alt plus tab once will bring you back to the last window in focus.

For example I’m working in editplus on a website and I have the page open in my browser to view the changes. Press alt+tab I’m at the webpage, alt+tab again I’m back in editplus.

I just wish there was someway to set it so that it either worked for all open windows or tabs within a single window, like firefox or editplus.

I know in firefox I can ctrl+tab through my open tabs and in editplus I can use F12 to toggle back and forward through the last tab in focus, but I am so used to hitting alt+tab that I do it constantly when I mean to switch application tabs not active windows.

When it comes to web surfing I’ll go the opposite route. Try to use your mouse only, but use it effectively. Use FireFox and download the All-In-One-Gestures add-on and start using mouse gestures instead of pressing those navigation buttons.

Ever fat finger your copy/paste and wind up copying nothing? One of the best “mouse” things I did was get the Microsoft Trackball (gasp/ people still use those?!) and configure the small outer buttons to copy and paste, skip this navigation stuff. It’s made working with code insanely easier.

That said, I’m all for more keyboarding between the virtual desktop hot keys, Qliner hotkeys and Launchy to fire off applications, and the hotkeys within applications themselves, I think I give people eye twitches when they watch me work. 8^D

In our C++ class, one student suggested No-Mouse-Fridays (the teacher is cool like that). We were about to do it, except changing files in VC++ 6.0 doesn’t work.

Also, I found it helpful to create a quick “run” program with custom commands, much like the new one in the start bar of Vista. I tap scroll lock (because I can’t tell that it does anything anyway) and up pops the dialog. I type it in and move probably 30% faster on a long session.

Perhaps Linux can help eliminate the “Windows syndrome” and lead to a better GUI system… One can only hope.

Jeff, your assertion that filling in a form on a website with the keyboard is usually correct. Of course, there are far too many websites where the tab ordering is screwed up.

Enter First name
Enter last name
Enter email
notice the email has gone into the password tab and your last name is now the first line of your address,
Shift-tab, shift-tab
Re-enter everything slowly to make sure that you’re entering the right stuff. Or, just use the mouse for that too.

Generally though, everybody who uses a computer should be learning the shortcuts for the most common commands in their most common applications. Developers in VS shouldn’t be using the mouse to step through the debugger. Although, it is faster in VS to double-click the variable you’re interested in and then drag it into the watch window, rather than highlighting the watch window and carefully typing it in making sure the case and everything’s the same. And then, if you expand the watch and find a member 10 levels in, just drag and drop it to a new cell in the window to get VS to enter all of the dereferencing and brackets.

Basically, learn shortcuts and use them whether they’re keyboard or mouse shortcuts.

I don’t agree that learning “a shortcut every day” will help increase productivity. I think one should learn the most important shortcuts, like CTRL+C and CTRL+V etc.

My brain can’t handle CTRL+P+F, F12+D, or any other shortcuts that are specific to a product etc. and are not universal.

My only other point here is that if you are designing an application that takes in data from 1 or more set or forms, there should be keyboard shortcuts to move from screen to screen and to make filling up the forms possible without a mouse. Data driven applications are fastest when no mouse involved.

The superiority of the Dvorak keyboard is a myth that was debunked long ago. QWERTY was never designed to slow people down. There’s never been any demonstrable evidence (i.e. by an RCT) that Dvorak is a better layout. Most of the so-called field success of Dvorak - and there is precious little - tends to be because the testees never learned properly how to type on a QWERTY.

Off-topic, I just saw this…

Steve Riley: “If a programmer is creating several hundred new lines of code each day this is generally way too much.”

This is a joke, right?

“The debunking of Dvorak consists of bean-counters asserting that the cost of re-training people will never be recouped by a marginal (about 2%) speed gain. It ignores the undeniable fact that QWERTY requires a lot more finger travel, thus probably more hand strain, thus quite possibly more injury. (Note that I explicitly went from what is proven to what seems probable there – I have no hard evidence that QWERTY causes more injuries than Dvorak; Dvorak haytuhs don’t have any hard evidence that it doesn’t.)”

That’s patently absurd. I don’t even know where to begin - perhaps with your ad-hominem referring to respected economists as “bean counters”, or by people who haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid as “haytuhs”. If you want your profession to be respected then perhaps you should start by respecting others’.

You even admit that you don’t have evidence of these injury rates, so how can you say in the same paragraph that it’s “undeniable”? It’s completely deniable! My fingers and hands don’t “travel” at all on my QWERTY keyboard (except using the home/end/pgup/pgdown/arrow keys but a Dvorak won’t help me there). I think one would have to use the hunt-and-peck method in order for that to be true.

All we have to go by is your personal testimonial. It’s your word against mine, and your word against the market’s. If QWERTY really is so much more uncomfortable and injury-prone than Dvorak, why does almost nobody use it? I really hope your reason isn’t “because everyone else is ignorant”. Whether it’s Dvorak keyboards, Mac OS, Beta or LaserDisc video, it’s always the same thing: a lot of posturing and subjective statements without any evidence.

What was your typing speed on QWERTY? Were you ever really trained on it? Did you ever injure yourself on it? Do you know anybody else who was injured, who then switched to Dvorak and reported being fine? Is it not remotely possible that the improvement in “comfort” is psychological?

This seems like the right place to ask a question that’s been on my mind for a while: How do I switch between remote desktop (mstsc) windows when they’re in full screen mode using the keyboard?

I happily browse the web most of the time without touching a mouse, using Hit-A-Hint and SurfKeys. The only thing SurfKeys lacks is the ability to change focus between frames for scrolling, but you can fake that with Hit-A-Hint. Highly recommended!

Unfortunately, navigating through websites is nearly impossible without a mouse, due to the highly mouse-centric nature of HTML.

You should try Vimium plugin for Chrome! Scroll page with jk. Press f to see keyboard shortcuts for every link on the webpage! (I’ve tried similar plugin for Firefox but the page scrolling experience was lacklustre)

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Going mouseless is a good idea in principle, but how do I find all the OS and desktop-environment keyboard shortcuts I need to turn off because of conflicts? For example, on Xubuntu, IntelliJ IDEA can’t receive Shift-F6 for rename. And I’ve looked in both Settings > Keyboard > Application Shortcuts and Settings > Window Manager > Keyboard for the conflicting keybind, but there’s no sign of it. Even if someone tells me where it is, what do I do about other hard-to-trace keybinding conflicts as they inevitably arise?

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