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The Colemak impressions of a new user

  • Started by pafkata90
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  • From: Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Registered: 05-Mar-2011
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Hi there :)
I'm Pavel and I decided to share my impressions of the layout and make a little comparison to the other layout I've tried - Dvorak. I hope it helps people who are wondering whether to make the switch or which layout to choose.
I'd used Qwerty for about 7 or 8 years, but actually learnt proper touch typing the last half a year I was using Qwerty. I believe I was typing at around 55-60 wpm. Then I read about Dvorak and made a switch. Went for the cold turkey approach and after two months I was typing with about 50+ wpm.
Then I found out about Colemak and after a bit of wondering I made the switch. It's been a month since and I'm typing with 45+ wpm, reaching 55 at short texts. And here are some of my impressions.

I got Colemak almost twice as fast as Dvorak, even though my muscle memory was all messed up from the previous switch, so that's a great thing about Colemak. Also I was very serious with my Dvorak learning, and I'm not as much now with Colemak.

To be frank though I have to say that I prefer Dvorak for pure text typing (long texts, not IM). It's just that the hand alternation for me is much superior and makes a big difference for me.

I also liked how I used the bottom row less than with Colemak but that's probably balanced, since Colemak has better home row usage and I have to stretch for the upper row a bit more rarely :)

I have to say I didn't like the load on my left pinky on the L and S.

The reason I changed to Colemak and I'm gonna stick to it is that I'm a shortcut guy. I don't like moving my mouse to click here and there if I can do it with the keyboard. Dvorak is no good for shortcuts because it keeps the punctuation on the left side, as well as the vocal letters, which are not that often used in shortcuts.
Colemak on the other hand even keeps some of the qwerty shortcuts on their places.
I use a lot of shortcuts in the programs I work with and this is very important for me. So I decided that switching between Dvorak and Qwerty doesn't worth the effort and I read all the lovely things you guys have written here about the layout :)

All in all I'm sticking with Colemak and if I have to advice a Qwerty typist on which to choose - Dvorak or Colemak, I would have to say Colemak, for the exact same reasons I mentioned already. Quick to learn and keeps the shortcuts-friendly keys on the left.

Another thing to mention is also that I feel more comfortable with Colemak (compared to Dv) when I have to type just a few letters on the keyboard. With Dvorak I had to first put my fingers on the home row in order to find the key I need. It's not like that with Colemak. Probably because it's closer to Qwerty.

There you go guys. I hope this helps somebody. And as for the question to switch or not - definitely go for it. It's so comfortable that you're gonna feel sorry for the people typing on qwerty around you haha. That of course is a bit exaggerated, so no offence ;)

Have a nice day!

Pavel

PS: Big thanks to Tony_VN, who helped me to start with some advices and recommended me good software to use. Thanks :)

PS2: Hey, I forgot! No matter which layout you use, definitely remap your CapsLock key to backspace ;)

Last edited by pafkata90 (08-Apr-2011 20:08:23)
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You are welcome, Pavel. Great to hear that you like Colemak and find it useful just like we do.

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  • From: Sofia, Bulgaria
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After a long while I just want to update:
My 5-min average speed is 70wpm according to Hi-games tests
My TypeRacer speed is usually around 75, going up to 80 and down to 70 depending on the day...

I also played around with remapping the BackSpace, Ctrl, Alt, and CapsLock, and after all the testing I figured that what best works for me is this: BackSpace next to the A, and R.Ctrl on BackSpace's original position (above the Enter). This way I can use Ctrl+Backspace quite easily as well as many other Ctrl+... shortcuts. I'm just sharing as an idea for other enthusiasts like me :)

Last edited by pafkata90 (13-Jun-2011 18:49:48)
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  • From: Viken, Norway
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Hello, and it's nice to welcome another Scandinavian to Colemak!  :)

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  • From: Sofia, Bulgaria
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I am really just studying here, but I've seen quite a few Scandinavians out there in the forum :D I guess Colemak is good for all kinds of languages, or at least better than Qwerty :)

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  • From: Aalborg, Denmark
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Hi pafkata90,

I didn't notice your location until now.. Are you studying at the university? I'm at the computer science dept.

I think Colemak is okay for Danish, but not nearly as good as for English. I might be influenced because I did many more English Colemak lessons than Danish ones during the initial learning, but Danish still has some unlucky digrams. Still better than qwerty though, I think.

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I study at UCN, Construction Architect, or as it is in danish Byggningskonstruktør. Bachelor, 2nd year. Maybe we can meet for a beer sometime?

Last edited by pafkata90 (14-Jun-2011 14:31:44)
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Sure thing... Are you in the campus area? You could come visit our Friday bar on.... well... Friday! I'll be having a beer or two after my semester project exam is over, at least :-)

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Dude, my typing speed in TypeRacer for the past week or so has been around 80 wpm and above. Several times I went above 90. That's just amazing! I mean I didn't actually expect speed improvement when I started with Colemak or Dvorak before, but 20 wpm more? That's more than I've asked for :D
90 is quite hard to maintain, but 80-85 shouldn't be a problem for long typing, as long as there is very good accuracy and rhythm. I think that would be my ultimate goal and I don't expect to go beyond that.

It is quite satisfactory to see such results from the switch, don't you think? I'm so happy with Colemak :)

capturedb.png

PS: To all the beginners who might read this: Accuracy is the most important. I don't think it would ever be enough to repeat that.
PPS: I guess I am now a megaracer haha.

Last edited by pafkata90 (28-Jun-2011 21:00:40)
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Damn... Just broke the 100 wpm barrier. And I DIDN'T pass the test :D So it didn't save the score... Next time I'll stop the music and concentrate more haha
34569343.png

PS: Hah. Never mind. I just did it again and this time I passed the test. I guess today is my day ;).

Last edited by pafkata90 (11-Sep-2011 21:26:35)
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Sweet.

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Hey Pavel,

Can I ask you how many words you look ahead? I think it is impossible to type 100+ wpm without looking at least 3-5 words ahead.

I can't seem to go beyond 70 wpm and I can only look head 1 word... :(

Also, do you use normal or more "advanced" keyboard (mechanical, ergonomic, etc.)?

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I think I'm looking at about 2, maybe 3 words ahead. But I don't know if you should try to force yourself to look farther ahead than what you feel comfortable. At least I haven't.

I'm typing on a Dell laptop. Here it is:
dell-vostro-1700.jpg

I think around 70 was my biggest plateau as well. Just don't give up on the training. Train very hard your accuracy. That's what always brings me out of a plateau. Even though it's hard to tell now when my progress is so slow.

Last edited by pafkata90 (17-Oct-2011 10:11:29)
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An update: I haven't been typing a whole lot the last few months, and only been practising every 2nd or 3rd day for the last couple of weeks, I think. When I remain calm and keep my accuracy high, there's no problem to keep the speed relatively high. In typeracer now I stay above 90 wpm. On longer texts I usually keep around ~85. Boosts above 100 are more often now.
Here's an image of my last typeracer session – not particularly good one cause I'm lazy but still:
capturenng.png

Last edited by pafkata90 (24-Jan-2012 00:01:50)
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Really you have improved better than most of the users that were using Colemak before you. I think you have the necessary hand dexterity to type in 100+ if you improved your accuracy because I noticed you made a lot of mistakes in your replay on hi games. This inaccuracy is understandable and it is mostly because of the layout. I had very bad accuracy on Colemak, but on Dvorak, Dvomak, and Imak my accuracy improved by around 5 folds. BTW, what was your best speed ever?

Myself, I have reached 78 WPM on dvomak, but then I swapped the "u","g","," and "y" and started again. In words I returned Dvomak to its original design

        'yg,k     pfcrl
shift oieau    dhtns  shift
        ;/j.x     bmwvq    z

I was afraid first of trying it in this configuration because I thought it would increase the pressure on the small and ring finger, but after a week of practice the stress went away and the layout became very fluid and I reached 81WPM for 5 minutes just after a week  of the switch, and when I get used to the new placement I think 90WPM would be easy for me :). The surprising point here is that theoretically  the 'e' key is faster than 'g' key on QWERTY but that does not always mean that is best for bigrams and combos and the way dovamk is design proved this to me!! interesting.

Finally I also tried the script of xx -> X, and I was really surprised how I got used to it very quickly. the first time I typed I had a drop of around 7WPM in my speed, but after few trials this reduced to around 4 WPM, so I plan to use it for programming when typing the symbols.

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Yes, I found that xx → X definitely shines when it comes to typing the symbols on the number row, but when you're coding you probably have switched the numbers and the symbols.

I know what you're saying about the accuracy. I get good results only when I focus on it and not on speed but after a little while of flawless very quick typing I get into the trap of pushing it a bit too carelessly and errors come again. At the moment almost all my 5min tests end on 85-86 wpm. If I do it without all the errors I assume I could finish at 88-90 wpm. If I want more rapid improvement I'll have to do some drills I feel. To get my fingers move a bit more independently. Right now I feel like I'm typing only with memorised di- and trigraphs and when it comes to type some really uncommon combination of letters I have to slow down a lot. Funny enough I also sometimes mistake D and G, which I've got no clue why is happening. A couple of accuracy drills will fix me, I think.

My fastest ever? Hm... Probably the type racer 109 wpm, which you can actually see at the bottom of the shot. But I actually saw 117 wpm after the first two lines a couple of times but I guess I got too excited and couldn't keep it up.

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I think that to type faster we need to practice common words more to be familiar of most words we have to type.

You automatically type faster when you see a sentence with all the common words you have typed for thousand times before. You don't have to try to type faster, your fingers do that for you.

Last edited by Tony_VN (25-Jan-2012 16:32:14)
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pafkata90 said:

Funny enough I also sometimes mistake D and G, which I've got no clue why is happening.

I do that as well. Remnants from qwerty?

I also make what I term reverse qwerty errors. For example, a qwerty error is hitting colemak D instead of colemak G because colemak D is qwerty G. The reverse qwerty error would then be hitting colemak G instead of colemak D because _qwerty_ G is colemak D. Another example is typing colemak I instead of colemak E because qwerty I is on the colemak E finger.

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Interesting. You might be right about this, but it's still strange. I've used Colemak twice as much as I've ever touch typed Qwerty, but it was my first touch typing layout, so that might be of importance.

Has anyone had that problem which feels like lazy fingers – When you need to type a few letters with the same hand, and your fingers are kind of lazy and rather than hitting the keys you need, hit the more natural/easy roll (for ex. when you need AS to type ARS) or the one fixed in your muscle memory, like when you need to end a word on IN you end up with an extra G, cause you've typed ING so many times...

That's what I had in mind when I mentioned earlier something about finger independence.

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I think that most of my errors these days are transposition (swapping two adjacent letters in a word happens fairly often, and sometimes I "jump the gun" and write a letter that I'm planning to write later in the word).

In other words, not layout related.

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Most of my errors are swaps as well, last time I studied it in the typeracer accuracy universe. But when an error is both a swap and a qwerty related error, which one is it? :-)

It would be interesting to study this some more...

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pafkata90 said:

but when you're coding you probably have switched the numbers and the symbols.

Yes I have done so, I made the capsLock key as a switch between symbols and numbers, but the problem is that I placed the caps lock at the Left CTRL key on QWERTY and I do not like to hit it every time I want to switch( my left hand is lazy :) ), and I happen to make use of numbers more in my every day activities such as logging into my accounts. If I have to switch between numbers and symbols very often it would be annoying to hit the capslock at that position, and I only plan to use it for programming where i do not have to press it that much.




DreymaR said:

In other words, not layout related.

I would strongly argue against this. Take the lesson below for example, when I started dvorak and  was 10WPM below my Colemak speed I was typing the lesson by around 10WPM faster than Colemak!!! The reason is that it takes more time and practice for your hand to get acquainted to narrow backward rolls and jumping between rows like when you type "iou" on Colemak for example. I must admit though if you practiced enough you would improve on this aspect which I have noticed at the end days of using Colemak, where my accuracy started to improve. But of course, this consumes more time and I want to do it with less time and more efficiency as I am do it now on Dvomak (81 WPM 5-minutes).

Lesson
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nimbostratue said:

Yes I have done so, I made the capsLock key as a switch between symbols and numbers, but the problem is that I placed the caps lock at the Left CTRL key on QWERTY and I do not like to hit it every time I want to switch( my left hand is lazy :) ), and I happen to make use of numbers more in my every day activities such as logging into my accounts. If I have to switch between numbers and symbols very often it would be annoying to hit the capslock at that position, and I only plan to use it for programming where i do not have to press it that much.

Have you considered using Autohotkey to change the layout depending on the program you're currently using, so you almost won't have to change it manually?

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pafkata90 said:
nimbostratue said:

Yes I have done so, I made the capsLock key as a switch between symbols and numbers, but the problem is that I placed the caps lock at the Left CTRL key on QWERTY and I do not like to hit it every time I want to switch( my left hand is lazy :) ), and I happen to make use of numbers more in my every day activities such as logging into my accounts. If I have to switch between numbers and symbols very often it would be annoying to hit the capslock at that position, and I only plan to use it for programming where i do not have to press it that much.

Have you considered using Autohotkey to change the layout depending on the program you're currently using, so you almost won't have to change it manually?

yes I thought of this but have not researched how to do it :). I plan to use Ubuntu more often now, so I want something more universal.

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I have tried Autohotkey but when you type fast (50+wpm) sometimes Autohotkey cannot respond and Qwerty keys kick in.

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