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decided to use Colemak

  • Started by blmak
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  • From: Wisconsin, USA
  • Registered: 11-Nov-2013
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Hi guys. Here's my rather interesting Colemak story. I've tried both Dvorak and Colemak over the last couple years and reached about 40 to 50WPM on Dvorak and Colemak, using a stopwatch and word count. I average 80WPM on QWERTY,. Here are my thoughts on Dvorak and Colemak. At times I prefered Dvorak's hand alternation. I liked Colemak's roles. Coming from QWERTY Colemak feels much more natural. I noticed some of the same Dvorak shortcomings as listed on this forum and other sites. Dvorak's shortcut placement really didn't bother me too much. The LS really got to my pinky. Dvorak felt awkward at times from a QWERTY standpoint. After typing for over a decade on QWERTY I had a lot of shortcuts in muscle memory. Over time I realized that Colemak felt better to my hands. I felt more natural on Colemak than on Dvorak. Colemak's shortcut placement feels much better. Another thing that won me over is Colemak's international characters. They might not be optimal, but for me and the languages I type it's a great combination. I find myself typing Spanish and Swedish most often, followed by Italian. Now I am using Colemak exclusively. For me the easiest way to learn Colemak was to play with the layout. I didn't use any sort of typing lessons. To keep my QWERTY typing up to speed I would always type for part of the day in QWERTY. It feels nice to be able to keep fluency in both layouts, in case I have to type on someone's computer. One thing that might interest you guys is that I am a blind Colemak typist. I've always been a touch typer. I know of a couple other blind people who have tried Colemak in the past. I'm not sure if they've stuck with it or not though.

Cheers,
blmak

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Wow. Another great successful conversion story.

Fluency on both layouts will slow down speed of both layout though.

Last edited by Tony_VN (14-Oct-2014 12:16:24)
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Forgive me, but when you say blind as in can't 'see', rather than being a touch typer (as in blind typing)?

Last edited by pinkyache (15-Nov-2013 13:18:13)

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That's fascinating, thanks for sharing.  You may be interested in the don't use the mouse thread, whose goal is to allow you to do everything using the keyboard. 

If you use a touchscreen device, may I ask which keyboard ends up being best?  Is messagease still a preferred choice, as some of us discussed in this thread?

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he's blind as in he can't see light

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Well that's how I read it, but because there's the expression 'blind typing', I was hoping for clarification.  I was further puzzled to then read lalop's question of which touch screen do you use.  But perhaps it is possible to use a touch screen given enough feedback to help train you.

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Android and iOS (and probably others) have "accessibility modes" that read your touch feedback back to you.  It's not all that dissimilar from reading pointer feedback on a computer.

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My experience of Android is that it's frustrating enough as a sighted user.  The most accessible tool I bumped into was Knoppix/ADRIANE.  I watched a blind user demonstrate using his Mac, reading web pages didn't appear that friendly.

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Physicians deafen our ears with the Honorificabilitudinitatibus of their heavenly Panacaea, their sovereign Guiacum.

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Yes, you can't really call it friendly.  There isn't really an alternative, though, since people don't design programs or webpages so that the content can be communicated via text alone.

In the future, hopefully there'll be an AI that can understand the semantic content of a screen and be able to communicate it and carry out the user's instructions, like a personal butler.

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  • From: Wisconsin, USA
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sorry for not posting here in a long time. I now intend to post here a little more often, so stay tuned. Seems like this thread had some more activity than I expected. I did try to post a response earlier, but never had the time to finish it. Here is an update and answers to the questions posted so far. If anyone has any more questions after reading this, ask here or write me privately. Note, I am not an expert with formatting forums yet. Sorry if I totally mess this up.
First of all, yes, I am blind, as in can't see anything. I have light perception, but that's all.
Slowly but surely I'm moving away from qwerty. I hope to keep a fluency in qwerty at least in case I need it. Nowadays I am typing Spanish and French, which Colemak does quite good with. my typing speed on colemak is about 60 WPM, with a few errors here and there. As time goes on, and I get more practice, the error rate should go down. I'm not so focused on typing speed as I am on comfort. Colemak is quite comfortable for me and my needs. I'm curious, any UNIX users out there? Is Colemak comforatble for things like Bash?
Tony_VN
I don't know if fluency in both layouts slows me down, but I notice mistakes in both layouts when moving between the two, that I've never made before. With time I think the error rate should go down.
pinkyache
It's definitely possible to use a touch screen being blind. Android uses TalkBack, and iOS uses VoiceOver. They both provide audible feedback to the user, as long as the application is written accessibly. Some are better than others. Reading webpages on the mac can be frustrating sometimes. It depends on the page and Safari. I did try Knoppix once, but found it rather strange. Most blind Linux users I know of use Ubuntu, Arch, or some other distro.
lalop.
Agreed. Although, With screen reading technology advancing, as long as developers are made aware of these technologies, hopefully things can be made a little more accessible. It seems to get better every year.

Hopefully I was able to answer all the questions.

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  • From: Viken, Norway
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Welcome back mate!

There are several Linux users here and at least one OpenBSD one I think. I'm mostly on Ubuntu or Debian myself, with some OpenSUSE and others in the mix for work. I usually install my xkb changes to any Linux machine I use; that way I can get everything the way I like to type and navigate.

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

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DreymaR
Excellent. I'll be using Ubuntu. It seems that Colemak is pretty good for programming from what I've read.

I find I'm getting used to Caps Lock to backspace. I know that some screen readers can use the Caps Lock as a key to perform various screen reader related functions, however I feel backspace is more useful at the Caps Lock position. The numpad seems more efficient for screen reader commands anyway.

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depends a bit on whether you intend to use emacs for your programming exploits..

if so - general consensus seems to be to use caps as ctrl rather than backspace to avoid the dreaded emacs pinky

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bph said:

depends a bit on whether you intend to use emacs for your programming exploits..

if so - general consensus seems to be to use caps as ctrl rather than backspace to avoid the dreaded emacs pinky

I'm using caps as backspace, but I've also moved to using space as control. It seems to me that this is a bigger emacs optimization than the traditional caps as ctrl.

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interesting - what key do you have to use with space to give you a ctrl?

i'm assuming you haven't moved space somewhere else (that would be insane;-)

does it not get a bit cumbersome?

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bph, the way it works is that holding SPC doesn't generate a space, but instead the Ctrl modifier. Tapping Spc generates a space. On windows, I am using AutoHotKey with the BigCtrl script to accomplish this. On Linux, I am using a program called xcape.

Usually this works very well. Occasionally when I am typing quickly I will type an unwanted control character, but this happens very rarely. It's really a hackish substitute for what I really want, which is a keyboard with thumb modifier keys.

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maybe a bit like this on that i've got?

https://www.diatec.co.jp/en/MINILAUK/

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That would certainly be an improvement, but what I had in mind was something like an ergodox or keyboard.io.

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yeh why not go the whole hog? i wouldn't mind one of those bad-boys..

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  • From: Wisconsin, USA
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I did make a post saying I was leaving colemak, but decided against it. I've been trying Dvorak recently but still feel Colemak is more comfortable on my hands and better for some aspects as mentioned on this thread. Lately I've been having some wrist pains especially in the right wrist with Colemak on some keyboards. The Microsoft ergonomic Natural 4000 is great with Colemak, however due to size restraints on my desk I have to use a normal laptop keyboard. The AltGr key is way too far to the right, which seems to be causing the wrist pain. Any ideas on what to do? On a side note I am debating on making a post about alternative keyboard layouts and screen readers, which definitely needs some thought if Colemak is to be used by more people in the blindness community.

Last edited by blmak (02-Nov-2014 15:12:37)
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Switching back and forth between layouts certainly puts more stresses on your wrists. You should stick to one layout for at least 3 months for the wrists to rest a while and your fingers to get used to the current layout.

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Update. To help with the switch, I'm going to move away from qwerty for a while. I'll report as time goes by. So far I'm using colemak on Windows, OS X and Arch Linux. Even though it's built into OS X, I installed the version from the website so I can have the same international characters available everywhere. The placement of the international characters, while not always optimal, works for what I type. I have been typing in Russian lately so I'm using Rulemak. Does anyone know if implementations exist for OS X/Linux?

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For Linux, you'll find Rulemak in my Big Bag Of Tricks. For OSX, no idea.

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

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Thanks. DreymaR. I'll have to work at designing an OSX one. When I finish it it will be posted. In the future I plan to make a small post on screen readers and alternative layouts like Colemak. Some screen readers handle the layout better than others, and performance can vary between installed and PKL variants.

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Nice! Please post a link in the Rulemak topic when you're done:
https://forum.colemak.com/viewtopic.php?id=519

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

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