I went to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books last Sunday just to wander around the UCLA campus, people watch, mingle with the crowds surrounding any famous author who might turn up and generally enjoy the weather, and arrived in time for the last two hours of the event. After a while I ambled into Powell library and stopped by the CLICC (Something Something Something Computing Commons) lab on a whim to see if my old login would work, and surprisingly it did (after having graduated six years ago). So I checked my email, saw I had a couple items to respond to, and went to switch the computer’s keyboard to Dvorak mode so I could actually type in a ninja-like manner. Most random Windows machines you’ll find anywhere are easily configurable with a panoply of language options and keyboard layouts, accessible through an icon on the taskbar or on each window’s title bar, and there used to be “U.S. English – Dvorak” listed as such in this lab (because I’d requested it, years and years ago), but the option was sadly now gone. So I navigated to the library’s Suggestion Box web page, where I saw that one other person had subsequently requested Dvorak support (in 2002), saying that it had been there in the past, but had disappeared. The library manager’s response was that she would look into that and fix it right away. So support had been there (when I requested it back in 1998 or so), then had gone away, then had been added again, and now had at some point gone away again. So I typed this suggestion into the suggestion box, with the title “Dvorak keyboard layout support”:
It comes and goes… I was the one who originally requested it years ago, and y’all added it, and all was right with the world. And although I’ve long since graduated, the cool thing is that my account still works, as I was pretty surprised to find out after trying to log in just now on a whim. Anyway, just in case you might think it’s just me (and some other guy/girl), there are a surprising (there’s that word again) number of us Dvorak typists out there, at least from observations made among the ranks at your favorite search engine, where I find myself working nowadays. So for the sake of future generations of speedy typists (and all that), I humbly request permanent Dvorak support in CLICC. Thanks!
I pressed “Send” and got an “ASP Server Configuration Error”. I looked closer at the suggestions posted in the suggestion box and saw that the latest one was from 2004. I checked the URL: yep, nice and simple, clearly I was in the right place, not some old unwatched page still on the Web for old time’s sake. So I’m assuming ASP has been misconfigured and the page broken for the last four years, which is a little sad. Think of all the people who had some kind of brilliant suggestion, typed it into the suggestion box form, pressed Send, got that ASP error (and probably lost their carefully typed prose), and then figured “oh well, I guess it’s broken” and never pursued the matter any further? My eyes almost grew watery at the thought.
I went to the help desk to ask if they knew the suggestion box was broken, and they said “yeah, we know, someone’s working on that now, he’s over there, you could talk to him if you want”. I didn’t point out that it had been (and still probably is as of this writing; I doubt this sort of thing gets fixed in a matter of a week) broken for the last four years, I just wanted them to know that it was, which they did, so I meandered out after they’d suggested that I email my suggestion (whatever it is) to some sort of suggestion box email address.
As I made my way back to my car, I packed myself into the parking lot’s elevator with a number of people and saw that my floor (4) had been pressed, but as the elevator began to move, we all noticed that we were going down, not up, and the standard grumbling and light hearted dismissal occured among my elevator patrons. The door opened on a lower-level floor and a woman with one of those insulated containers typically used for pizza delivery got in. I asked her, “hmm, did you just deliver a pizza?” or something like that, and she said “no, I just got off of work”. I replied (referring to her emply box) along the lines of, “oh, okay, it looks like you just delivered a pizza to someone in the basement of the garage” and everyone in the elevator laughed. I guess you had to have been there.
So I don’t know how many Dvorak users there are out there, but I’d thought it was quite a few, and a greater number than back in the good old days– I often run into people who type using that layout, now. My old roommate at UCLA did, for example, and what are the chances of that? The team lead over here on my team at YouTube does. People don’t have nervous breakdowns anymore when they try to type something into my computer and end up with gibberish. But apparently nobody on the entire UCLA campus (of those who regularly visit the CLICC lab, at least) do, or at least think they have any pull in requesting the feature. (Maybe it was the ASP error.) I thought that was sort of unfortunate.