Please let me know if you have any questions

“Please let me know if you have any questions,” wrote I in an email I was drafting.

It has long been my signature email sign-off, but this time I was feeling a little reflective and reconsidered writing that line.

What did it really mean? 

But try as I might I couldn’t quite put my finger on it; it made no sense. So I deleted it.

Then I re-read the e-mail.

Ugh. No, it didn’t seem right.

So I put it back in.

The thing is though, I couldn’t reconcile this fact: if the recipients had any questions I’m pretty sure they would have not hesitated hitting “Reply” and asking me those questions. Would having left that line out stopped the questions from coming?

Surely not.

Still, I added the line back in because it “sounded better”, and from then on just accepted that I’d never know and simply kept that line in without too much thought.

Then just today I came across this passage from the book Simply Said by Jay Sullivan:

When you write at the end of an email “Let me know if you have any questions,” you are writing that line for a certain tone. Clearly, the reader will let you know if she has any questions, regardless of whether you make that offer. You add that line because it seems like a pleasant, conversational way to end the message. You include it to set the right tone, just the way you start the message with some basic pleasantry like, “I hope all is well” or “Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond.” Because email can seem so abrupt, it’s important to make sure we soften the tone of our messages.

I now feel extremely validated.

Turns out I’m just naturally inclined to be a pleasant, courteous person.

Dvorak Keyboard Layout Sucks

I hoped the header grabbed your attention because it’d sure as hell grab mine. I just read a (really long) article on how the studies/reports behind the Dvorak keyboard layout could just be all part of one hell of a marketing gimmick to help dear old Mr. Dvorak sell his keyboard layout (for the uninitiated, the Dvorak keyboard layout’s an alternative to the Qwerty keyboard layout found on almost all computer keyboards and — for the few that still exist — typewriters today.)

If you’d ever heard about the Dvorak keyboard layout (used often in business case-studies to show the failures of market forces weeding out the lousiest innovations, along with the Betamax/VHS ones — way back in 2003 even I had used it as an example of the failure of market forces), or if you’ve ever been interested in learning it, you probably want to read the article.

The authors, with too much time on their hands, did some research to find out just how true it was that Dvorak was a better keyboard layout (as opposed to Qwerty), and whether or not the success of Qwerty was truly a market failure, in the sense that the better product didn’t manage to become the standard while its supposedly weaker sibling did.

On a more personal note, I once dabbled with Dvorak some time back in my Polytechnic days (erm, that’s almost 10 years ago). I remember reaching speeds of about 40 or 50 words per minute after months of practice, but gave up after realising how impractical it was (back then shared computers were the norm, and it was pretty troublesome to constantly switch back and forth between Dvorak and Qwerty whenever someone needed to use “your” computer).

Besides, my Qwerty skills were already excellent, and achieving an improvement in typing speeds on Dvorak over my then Qwerty speeds was a pretty tough task.

Let me know your Dvorak stories if you have one. If you are, I’d like to ask you one question: you a nerd or what?