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A better keyboard than QWERTY

How one person swapped his traditional keyboard for a completely custom one, plus AI at Microsoft and with Netflix ratings, on this episode of The Vergecast.



A better keyboard than QWERTY
A better keyboard than QWERTY

There are fewer things more ubiquitous in technology than QWERTY keyboards. If you type anywhere, you almost certainly type the QWERTY way. But why? It turns out that by almost any objective measure, the keyboards we use are decidedly unoptimized. Commonly used keys are too hard to reach; your fingers have to move side to side too much; it requires way too much movement overall. There are a million theories about why QWERTY was invented — the most common one holds that its creator wanted to make sure old typewriter mechanisms didn’t crash into each other as you whacked the keys — but almost everyone agrees, it’s not the best way. And yet, after decades of using it, hardly anybody wants to switch.

On this episode of The Vergecast, we have the story of one man’s two-year journey to build a keyboard — and a new layout — from scratch and what his journey can teach us about how we interact with all our tech.

After that, we chat with The Verge’s Tom Warren about the recent shake-ups at Microsoft and whether the company’s approach to AI is really working. We also try to figure out what in the world an “AI PC” is, but I’m not sure we ever actually crack the case. And we try to suss out what’s coming for the Surface line and just how important those devices are to Microsoft going forward.

Finally, we help a listener figure out how to rate a World War II documentary they didn’t really love — but they still want to see more of. We get some help from a Netflix exec and offer some tips on how to tell the algorithm what you do and don’t like.

For more on everything in this episode, here are some links to get you started, beginning with Jonas Hietala’s keyboard journey:

Jonas’ blog series: The T-34 keyboard layoutThe Ferris keyboardThe BEAKL layoutThe Deskthority Wiki (an extremely good and deep resource on all things keyboards)I’ve used Dvorak for 10 years, and I’m here to tell you it’s not all that

And on Microsoft:

Microsoft has a new Windows and Surface chiefMicrosoft’s first AI PCs are the Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 for businessesHow a Windows shake-up could position Microsoft to capitalize on AI PCsMicrosoft reuses its OpenAI playbook with Inflection takeoverRewind’s new feature brings ChatGPT to your personal information

And on Netflix thumbs:

Netflix is ditching five-star ratings in favor of a thumbs-upNetflix’s Pat Flemming on The Vergecast