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Typing tips from the fastest typist, Sean Wrona

  • Started by Tony_VN
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  • From: Viken, Norway
  • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
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Not sure whether I completely avoid bottoming out or just don't bottom out forcefully, but it does feel as if I stop pressing the key just before it hits the bottom when I'm doing it right. However, it's easy to drop out of the good way and as mentioned in another thread same-key digraphs make me hit the keys too hard and bottom out forcefully. Same with long/awkward stretches I think (such as the Colemak 'j').

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Re "floating":

I made a similar point in another thread a while ago but perhaps this may be of interest here.

In this video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYJtF1I3PRs

I'm using the Maltron keyboard with the Malt layout and you'll see that my hands are scarcely moving (I'm actually resting them on some black foam pads which you can just see when I lift my hand at the very end of the video)

whereas in this video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4H931A … re=related

the operator is also using a Maltron keyboard but with the QWERTY layout.  Her hands barely rest at any time.

Is that what you mean by "floating"?

Joe

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Hello to all, I've just joined the forum.
I'm not a great typist, maybe <50wpm, though I probably should be; I've been in IT for almost 20 years and learnt to touch type at school.
Anyway, stumbling on Colemak has piqued my interest in alternate layouts again; last time Dvorak was the alternative to qwerty, and it didn't look ideal for computing, especially I need to keep some qwerty skill as I often have to use other machines.

This thread is particularly interesting because what Sean Wrona describes is very much how I type, only, um, a little slower obviously.  I 'wander' my hands across the keyboard so that I can use the most natural fingering in the context of the word.  In particular I find 'rolls' very fast and comfortable, especially outward index-middle finger rolls, eg f,d or h,j in qwerty.

I think there are some, uh, individualities with the way I type too.

For a start, I am wider than the keyboard, or rather my elbows are, and therefore my hands come in at an angle to the board, rather than right angles.
The keyboard is also asymmetrical, and therefore my right hand is slightly more angled than left.
Of course fingers are also different lengths.
This all means that my natural home row is more like a,s,r,v - n,j,k,l, or q,w,e,f - j,i,o,p, roughly as described here:
http://dossy.org/2006/01/is-the-dvorak- … an-qwerty/


Looking into the various layouts, I'm not sure they take any of this into account.  The analysis metrics seem to focus on letter frequency more than letter sequences.  The home row is always treated as the best, and the bottom row as pariahs, whereas I find v and n on qwerty actually much more reachable than g,h.  And I find i,o and e, if maybe not w, to be quite tolerable too, perhaps preferable to l and s. c and m are easier than t,y.

I do find g,h a strech, as described here:
http://viralintrospection.wordpress.com … d-layouts/

So, I'm trying Colemak, but one worry is it doesn't seem to be designed for my peculiarities, and also some common 'words' for me are less fluid than on qwerty, for example 'cd', 'ls -ltr', 'pwd', 'you' even, and a couple of others have hit me; common vi commands like 'dw' for example.

Actually how I stumbled on Colemak was by seeing a post about 'minimak' (minimak.org) on hackernews. This layout takes an even more extreme approach to being easy for qwerty users to learn, only changing 12 keys (or only 4 in the minimal case).  Unfortunately I find this is tuned in the same way, for example it leaves h in place.  IMHO, h should move to qwerty j, so that the extremely common 'he' digram is a nice two finger roll. So, currently I'm experimenting with my own take on a minimal-change layout, as follows:

 
`1234567890-=
#qwdfkjuio;[]\
#asrtgyhelp'*N
*Lzxcvbnm,./*R

The stats aren't that good, and there are some problems. The Colemak a,r,s,t works really well, whereas my a,s,r,t suffers with 'rd', 'dr' and so on.  But 'the', 'there' and anything similar are really nice.  I may give Colemak some more time after experimenting a bit with this custom layout.

Last edited by jackpipe (05-Nov-2012 13:46:24)
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  • From: Berkeley
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Digraphs and trigraphs are crucial aspects to any good layout, and as such are well integrated into a lot of the alternative layouts, including Dvorak and Colemak. In fact, looking merely at the home row of Dvorak, you can tell how smooth it is with subsets of 'nth'.

Hand rolling, on the other hand, is more individualistic; do you prefer to pull off outward rolls, inward rolls, or alternate hands as often as possible? Since you seem new at this stuff and are very interested in the statistics and "good" parameters, I suggest checking out "carpalx", which is a plethora of material if you haven't seen it already.

EDIT: Also, it would have perhaps been more beneficial if you made a new topic as opposed to posting an on old one.

Last edited by nil (05-Nov-2012 14:03:12)

Colemak (start 11.5.12): ~80 WPM.
QWERTY: ~90 WPM.

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Sorry, actually this thread would have been better:
» An evolved layout that takes into account alternate-finger digraphs?
https://forum.colemak.com/viewtopic.php?id=1537

Thanks for suggesting carpalx, I had looked, and found that the finger position weights in the analyses don't match what I find comfortable, and although digrams, trigrams etc are of course accounted for, they don't seem to measure sequences where you 'wander' your hand to use custom 'rolls', or use the 'wrong' finger because it feels more natural in the context of what you're typing, as Sean Wrona describes.  Custom patterns if you will.

Last edited by jackpipe (05-Nov-2012 15:03:25)
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  • From: Viken, Norway
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I agree, this is topic hijacking - but I guess the damage's done and done...

Colemak is considered a decent "rolling" layout, where Dvorak focuses on hand alternation. That's in general and of course there will be plenty of individual counterpoints.

I've heard other newbies complain about 'you' as well. For me it's absolutely delightful so I think you'll get used to it quickly enough unless you have a real problem with the ring finger vs the pinky.

You're absolutely right about CarpalX and other models failing to account for flexible fingering. For instance, I always type the 'nk' digraph starting with the middle finger as opposed to the "proper" same-finger digraph which is awful. Doing that makes any layout better, and without such tricks QWERTY would've been in a lot more trouble obviously. This means two things: It's really hard to model effort well enough, and it's also hard to assess a layout after a short while of using it. Too bad, huh. ;)

If you want a gradual approach to layout goodness, also check out the Tarmak "partial Colemak" layouts (see my sig). They're mostly meant as stepping stones to a full Colemak experience but some users might want to use, say, Tarmak#2 for quite (7 keys moved) a while before they feel like moving on. It fixes the most obnoxious shortcomings of QWERTY at least.

Last edited by DreymaR (05-Nov-2012 15:18:21)

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Colemak/Dvorak put the most used keys into the home row, so naturally the Colemak/Dvorak users always put their fingers in the standard touch typing positions.

Qwerty put E and T on the third row, so naturally any Qwerty user will tend to put their left hand onto these keys, since they are the most often used keys. Before learning how to touch type, I also frequently did so.

For individual fingering specific key combinations, it is hard to learn them and it is peculiar. So typing class would go for the standard way of touch typing, in order to mass-train. The individual touch typing way could be faster than the standard sometimes, like Sean Wrona did.

Last edited by Tony_VN (05-Nov-2012 17:14:37)
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Of course you can choose home row positions, but that's not what I mean.
If I lay my hands on the keyboard and totally relax, the natural home keys are something like a,w,e,f - j,i,o,p or some variation.  This is a combination of my hands being at an angle to the board (my hands stay roughly in line with my arms rather than bending at the wrist in an attempt to iine up horizontally with the board), and my finger positions forming a slight arc, rather than all forming a straight horizontal line.
Of course I keep to the actual home keys, but one result of my 'natural reach' if you like, is I find v and n keys to be very reachable, whereas most layouts treat these positions as undesirable, and g,h and t,u are more of a stretch where most layouts treat these as desirable.

I agree with teaching the standard.  I acknowledge my typing is quirky, but the point is that I think the models are incomplete in the way many people actually type.

Thanks for the tarmak thread, lots of interesting stuff there.

Last edited by jackpipe (06-Nov-2012 03:38:51)
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@jackpipe, I get what you mean. You are laying your hands more flat, which some seem to frown upon, perhaps it's not so much an issue on keyboards as opposed to type writers.  I think the arc strengthens the fingers. 

Rest your hands by your sides, and relax, your fingers will naturally curl, they won't lay flat.  The interesting bit is when you look at the ends of the fingers, they'll almost line up when like this.  So the more relaxed position is probably the arc, and if you do arc your fingers rather than laying them flat, it's more likely they'll fall into line on the home row.

If you watch Sean Wrona though, he pretty much types with his hands flat!

Those that prefer the flatter approach will probably be better off with a different home position.  Qwerty kind of encourages it, with ERT and UIO.

Last edited by pinkyache (06-Nov-2012 12:53:29)

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