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Colemak via Tarmak

  • Started by bph
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I started learning colemak via the tarmak transitions at the start of June.

I have not reverted back to qwerty since I started

I would say I have spent about 3 full days a week for 3 weeks on it so far (thats the sum total of my typing for June)

My approach has been to stick with a stage until I exceed 30 wpm then move to the next. Predominantly I have just forced myself to use tarmak at work for everything (mainly emacs) but with a bit of typeracer thrown in for fun

each stage has taken about 3 days - I am currently on stage 3

My observations so far are:

1. It gets really tiring and toward the end of the day after 8-9 hours I tend to lose it - only to feel much better the next morning
2. I think these stages are a really good way of breaking down a very tough task, there is no way i could do this cold turkey direct to colemak
3. being an emacs user i resisted using caps as backspace until today - that was a mistake for sure
4. I learnt to touch type in jan this year and that was much harder again than this is proving to be. It took me 6 months to go from 0wpm to an average of 53wpm and a max of 65wpm (typeracer)
5. I can tell that this will destroy my ability to touch type qwerty - its already going - i'm not a 'multi-mapper'

I feel I will hit > 30wpm by end of july on full colemak, possibly another month to hit my old qwerty speed. So all in, I think going qwerty to colemak via tarmak will take half the effort as learning to touch type qwerty from scratch

Although I am currently rubbish at tarmak/colemak I am already getting glimpses of how much nicer it will be than qwerty

I didn't really appreciate how nasty qwerty was until i learned to touch type at a reasonable speed

Last edited by bph (01-Jul-2013 22:49:44)
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Nice breakdown.  Results are very encouraging.


bph said:

3. being an emacs user i resisted using caps as backspace until today - that was a mistake for sure

I think it'd still be a good idea to retain Ctrl at Caps.  Ctrl is convenient not only for emacs, but for shortcuts in general.

What I ended up doing was to map AltGr+f to Backspace and Caps to Ctrl; that way, you not only get an easy Backspace, but an easy Ctrl+Backspace as well:

BOPkhel.png

The layout's "wideness" (shifted right side) is for easier reaching of AltGr.  I think it also helps with keeping my wrists straighter, though I'm no ergonomics expert.

For a sample of how to edit the /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/us to achieve this, see my github.  Unfortunately, I don't yet have layouts for tarmak, only colemak.

Last edited by lalop (02-Jul-2013 00:08:53)
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Good to see that it's working for someone else. I don't think I could have switched in work hours without Tarmak. I managed full Colemak in less than a month, however I was typing 8 hours a day 5 days a week. July sounds pretty reasonable.

The hardest step for me was the last! At that point, you've moved all the keys and the last step moves the most keys, and moving the s key really messed me up.

Last edited by ghaz (02-Jul-2013 09:21:27)
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I may well switch back caps to ctrl rather than backspace when (if) I become proficient. until then I think its fair to say I need backspace *way* more than ctrl

I will prob have a look at these extended layouts some point down the line - i can see how it makes the altgr key usable

I also have suffered the 'makes you stupid' syndrome mentioned in another post. I swear i'm using so much cognitive capacity just on typing i haven't got too much left to play with...

I feel 'locked in' now though and can't see myself quitting

I think that tarmak is an exceptionally good bit of design, making the benefits of colemak much more accessible

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"makes you stupid" essentially passes once you start relying on muscle memory rather than cognition (this causes a large burst in speed, starting at say, around 40-50wpm).  Unfortunately, it now occurs to me that your 30wpm switches may have contributed to slowing down the muscle memory.  That is, there seem to be two ways to use tarmak:

  1. Slow-and-steady: get fully comfortable with each tarmak stage before switching to the next, thus incrementally changing your muscle memory.  Thanks to the only 4-5 key difference, this should be quicker than normal layouts, but may still take a week or two.

  2. Fast-and-furious: use tarmak mainly as a practice memorization tool, transitioning to the next stage almost as soon as you gain basic proficiency.

Slow-and-steady is probably more what I'd recommend, while your 30wpm switches are closer to fast-and-furious.  The main problem with fast-and-furious is that, once you've hit colemak, you'd then have to get used to 17-odd muscle memory changes rather than just 5.

If you're still on tarmak, I would recommend slowing down and getting fully comfortable with the current stage before transitioning to the next.  If you're already on colemak, it's no big deal; you'd just have to get the muscle memory in the usual chunk.

Last edited by lalop (03-Jul-2013 21:28:15)
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lalop said:

If you're still on tarmak, I would recommend slowing down and getting fully comfortable with the current stage before transitioning to the next.  If you're already on colemak, it's no big deal; you'd just have to get the muscle memory in the usual chunk.

well i'm in no rush so may well try and achieve higher wpm before moving on to ease the pain

i am living in fear of the last step after ghaz's comments ;-)

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That fearful feeing is normal, that's why you need our encouragement.

All of us had come to the point of peaked confusion, where you seemed can't type well in both Colemak and Qwerty. You're terrified and want to come back to the bad but familiar, rather than go on with the new and unknown.

That's where you should put caution to the wind and go for Colemak all the way, knowing that a lot of other people have done so, somehow get through it and still alive.

The Colemak skills will continue to improve when you start to use it full time.

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How are you going now? I didn't mean to scare you ;).

I was quite keen to push it as quickly as I could while still feeling efficient. The changes just build up and the bloody r and s keys did take me a while to get used to. You do have to do it at some point though, and to me the benefit of Tarmak is the ability to be effective the whole way through, and I feel like I did that :). Hopefully you have the same experience so we can get some more data.

There's one small thing that makes you realise how well designed it is.... How do you like how the j key moves around and you really never mind? I really don't feel like Tarmak slowed down my transition at all compared to cold turkey. In fact, I actually feel like it sped it up because I could concentrate on the differences at each point along the way.

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I think I will revise my expectations downwards

each subsequent tarmak stage is becoming more difficult than the last - i'm experiencing difficulty equal to the sum of all changes rather than the no. of changes in the most recent step

finding step-3 really hard

currently mid 20's wpm on typeracer and 85% accuracy

r and s still currently unswapped...

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Is this after first getting fully used to tarmak 2 (as per my recommendation above)?  If not, then it's probably all the previous changes at once catching up with you.  If so, I don't know.

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lalop said:

Is this after first getting fully used to tarmak 2 (as per my recommendation above)?  If not, then it's probably all the previous changes at once catching up with you.  If so, I don't know.

yes, i think you're right lalop - i'm slowing things down now so i don't get overwhelmed

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I think Dreymar (whenever he gets back) would want to add advice to his tarmak post concerning this.  Though there's no one "right" way to use tarmak, transitioning too quickly seems like an easy pitfall as people get overexcited.

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I think the way to go is to only move up when you're somewhere around 97% accuracy at a decent speed (which means that you're not thinking too much). That's what I did.

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I think most people go wrong by going too fast, then complain vehemently when facing tough adversaries they're not ready to handle.

97% accuracy and speed of at least 15wpm is the standard I set when I started to learn Colemak. I practise and practise until I reached that goal before learning new keys.

Last edited by Tony_VN (11-Jul-2013 08:05:56)
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Yeah, I was only moving up each step at 30 WPM and about 97%. However, I was pretty lucky to be able to get there in about 3-4 days at each step.

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have just hit the LUI loop - ouch! got impatient and moved onto tarmak-4

wush me ilck...

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going to treat myself to one of these when i hit 60 wpm average on full colemak

http://www.keyboardco.com/keyboard/uk-m … -image.asp

have just passed the 'agony' bump for tarmak-4 and am back up to approx 30wpm

its the 'big-one' next

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Mate, if you want to save space get the tenkeyless. This one is so crammed that it's going to be mighty uncomfortable. You won't regret the bigger boys.

Posted without the aid of a rodent.

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hmm, i may have to try both out and see which is best

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just migrated to full colemak

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congrats!

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its painful - 24 wpm and 88% - lets see where i get to by the 1st august...

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24wpm and 88% is a fine start. You need only focus on accuracy, and the speed will steadily increase.

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well its the 1st August and I am persevering (I am now 2 months into my tarmak/colemak adventure)

at about 33wpm and 94% now

I had an experience where I had to type under pressure in front of people and my colemak disintegrated - had to quickly revert to qwerty and hunt and peck - other than that I think I am making steady progress, haven't switched back at any other time...

having the classic r/s and e/i problems

will report back in a weeks time...

Last edited by bph (01-Aug-2013 21:44:50)
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Best of luck! :)

*** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
*** Check out my Big Bag of Keyboard Tricks for Win/Linux/TMK... ***

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