Feeds

Of colour schemes and cognitive dissonance

Grey matter

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Comment My mother trained as a shorthand-typist back in the early 1940s. As a lad, I was always impressed by her typing. With one of those old fashioned Imperial typewriters, she could bash out around 60 or 70 words a minute, which wasn't bad considering the mechanical inertia built into something that weighed as much as a Chieftain tank.

Becoming a proficient shorthand-typist included the ability to type rapidly without looking at the keyboard - in those days, the rather barbaric training programme included the use of a metal shield that was bolted to the typewriter above the keyboard, meaning you had to learn to type without looking at the keys.

Over the years, I've gradually learned to touch type, though thankfully without the use of a shield. What's especially fascinating is that, on a conscious level, I don't actually know where those keys are located.

Occasionally, you hear a Who wants to be a Millionaire question such as "are the X and C keys adjacent to each other on a computer keyboard?" My fingers know the answer, but my brain doesn't. Or, to be more precise (there's not much grey matter in fingers!), I don't consciously know the answer, but subconsciously I do.

I got to thinking about this the other day when using TextMate on my Mac. TextMate is a programmer's editor that's capable of devouring very large files such as operating system disassemblies and the like. It's similar (though arguably not as polished) as Visual SlickEdit which I use on the PC. I’ve been using both for quite some time, particularly SlickEdit, which I’ve configured to use the same keystrokes as Underware’s Brief editor, of fond memory.

A couple of weeks ago, I changed TextMate's colour scheme. Although I liked the new decor, (a subtle melange of understated greens and yellows) my fingers didn't. I suddenly found that they'd developed a mind of their own. Every time I went to save or open a file, highlight a row, delete a selection, or whatever, something odd happened. Eventually, I realised that I was subconsciously using the old Brief keystrokes I'm used to with SlickEdit on Windows.

Why had my fingers suddenly switched into Brief/SlickEdit mode? Yes, you've guessed, the colour scheme I was now using on TextMate looked suspiciously similar to the colours I was using with SlickEdit. Even though – consciously – I knew I was using TextMate, I was getting visual cues from the screen which convinced part of my brain I was using SlickEdit. At least, that's my theory!

Wikipedia describes cognitive dissonance (here) as "the uncomfortable tension that comes from holding two conflicting thoughts at the same time, or from engaging in behaviour that conflicts with one's beliefs". I guess typing SlickEdit commands into TextMate pretty much covers it.

Naturally, after reverting to the previous colour scheme (or at least, one much different from SlickEdit) normal service was restored. Have others had similar experiences, or am I crazy? Answers on a postcard to the usual address... ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
IRS boss on XP migration: 'Classic fix the airplane while you're flying it attempt'
Plus: Condoleezza Rice at Dropbox 'maybe she can find ... weapons of mass destruction'
Ditch the sync, paddle in the Streem: Upstart offers syncless sharing
Upload, delete and carry on sharing afterwards?
New Facebook phone app allows you to stalk your mates
Nearby Friends feature goes live in a few weeks
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.