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Starting Colemak (USA QWERTY -> Colemak, touch typist for 25 years)

  • Started by unfy
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Am a few years away from 40 years old, looking for a new layout.

Don't have RSI / CTS / or any other injury related whatever. Can type for hours at a keyboard with no pain etc; but I'd like to make sure that as I approach and past 40 years old that I can continue to type without pain etc.  Looked at a few other alternatives, decided to go with Colemak due to the usual hype concerning statistics about heatmaps etc - but primarily for ZXCV being in the same places.

I grew up typing on an old NEC PC8001, then around age 10 or so I took a proper typing class and have been a touch typist since. 

Have been a C coder professionally for the last 15 years as well - this weighs on wanting ZXCV being in the same place for shortcuts (heavy computer use etc).

----------------------

Am using the Portable Colemak v0.3 Windows program (Vista 64bit at work, Win7 64bit at home) - with the onscreen keyboard enabled.  I have the Colemak layout printed and hanging on cubical wall, but I don't use the picture as of right now.

Am using the typing tutor at sense-lang dot org.  If links are allowed: https://www.sense-lang.org/typing/tutor … EN_colemak.  I am doing the lessons in 300 character 'sizes'.

For typing speed tests, am using speedtypingonline dot com.  If links are allowed: http://www.speedtypingonline.com/typing-test

My keyboards are generic rubber dome membrane QWERTY's. I'll be picking up a cherry mx blue keyboard soon enough (i miss clickies).

----------------------

I've opted for a mixture of Qwerty & Colemak while learning it (seeing as how I type for a living).  I guess this is similar to 'Qwerty by day, Colemak by night' - but not quite as delineated.  I'll be forcing myself to work on the typing lessons in Colemak at least a few times throughout the day at work.  Preferably at least once or twice an hour.  And also practicing at home.  I won't be running lessons back to back - but rather giving a few minutes break in between lessons.

edit: I'm also doing full Colemak, not one of the progressive / intermediate layouts that have been mentioned.  While they seemed interesting, I figured I'd just go whole hog.

While learning the layout from a 'newb' position, I'll be running through the lessons throughout the day while at work.  Re-doing any test I fail to get >= 97% accuracy on.  As I progress, I'm not sure how I'll go about mixing the lessons in.

Once I hit full Colemak in the typing tutors with a speed of 25WPM in the generic online tests, I will probably switch to Colemak all the time.

For clarification, my day will go something like this:
* get to work, Qwerty for a bit
* run a Colemak lesson
* 5 minute break (either continue Colemak typing normally or switch back to Qwerty)
* (re-)run a Colemak lesson
* 5 minute break
* (re-)run a Colemak lesson
* do some work for a while
* either during next break in work activity or an hour later (alarms for the win) start the 3 Colemak session thing again

It'll be similar once I get home from work.

----------------------

Inital WPM scores, having NEVER typed Colemak before:
* Qwerty: 99 WPM
* Colemak: 6 WPM

----------------------

So far, I've completed the first four lessons of sense-lang - giving me the 8 keys under the home row resting position.  I've had to repeat a couple of the lessons a couple times due to accuracy failings heh.

Of the home row resting position keys, the "S" key has been the most difficult.  Probably due to it's proximity of where it was under Qwerty. The "R" and "I" keys have been slightly difficult as well, but I think that's just because they're ring finger keys.

Something that I've not seen other folks mention about learning a new keyboard layout - I have noted that after several typing lessons in the new layout, the knuckles closest / part of   my palms tend to be red like they were when first starting to learn how to touch type.  I suppose from the serious concentration of positioning and stuff :D.

In doing some normal typing with Colemak enabled and fumbling with the on screen keyboard (instead of lessons), I've noted quite a few of the common words and such requiring mostly home row key hits - which is neat.

And like anyone that layout switch - standard story of 'brain INSISTS on hitting Qwerty key during lesson' as well as 'after lesson and switch back to Qwerty, hit the Colemak key sometimes'.

----------------------

PS: don't see a way to do a horizontal rule on this board ._.

Last edited by unfy (29-Apr-2014 10:22:38)
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Welcome! Hope you'll find the new layout as pleasing and fun as I did. :)

Did you check out the Tarmak transitional layouts (for instance in my sig topics)? Might be something for you. Also, I like using PKL which is a very powerful AHK script that lets me do much more. I love the Extend mappings as much as Colemak itself.

Last edited by DreymaR (29-Apr-2014 12:38:09)

*** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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DreymaR said:

Welcome! Hope you'll find the new layout as pleasing and fun as I did. :)

Did you check out the Tarmak transitional layouts (for instance in my sig topics)? Might be something for you. Also, I like using PKL which is a very powerful AHK script that lets me do much more. I love the Extend mappings as much as Colemak itself.

I forgot how I came about Colemak.

Actually, no. I do remember now.

There have been a couple posts on arsTechnica lately about one of the contributors / editors / journalists making the transition to Dovorak.  Her (iirc) experiences weren't all that great (not that it had anything to do with my decision).  Anyway, one of the commentors had mentioned Colemak. 

Upon looking it up initially I couldn't decide if being so similar to Qwerty was just a crutch or a gimmick or something - but after giving it some thought and reviewing heat maps and the other proponent stuff listed on the Colemak site that it seemed viable to give it a go.

After a few days of casual research, came across some blog posts that discussed your transitional layouts.  I was intrigued by the L-U-I loop so did a bunch of reading of the forum posts and such.  Continuing along this approach, the granularity of the loops was abusive :(.  From 3 letter loop swap to 219508 character loop swap to 197509128501928 swap just isn't friendly IMHO.  The "one hand at a time" thoughts also seemed interesting.

Something that seemed extremely counter productive IMHO was the temporary movements of keys.  There's great arguments made for it in the threads here, but it always seemed... counter productive IMHO.

I will note that I am an EX-smoker, and that I did successfully quit cold turkey my first time for ~6months before stress kicked my booty.  Cold turkey seems to make a lot more sense for training the subconscious.  Although I'm not Qwerty -> Colemak cold turkey, I do think whole hog is the correct approach IMHO.  Could also be my 'stuck in my ways' and the jarring of learning something new seems 'worse' if ya gotta learn something 'new' more than once heh. I'm old, not a layout junkie, etc.  Many 'layout' sites and their authors do seem to make assumptions about folks that aren't true heh.  I suppose it's akin to "experts set the bar higher than it really is for the common man" or something.

---------

If there was a Tarmak system that had smaller granularity on the loop swaps it seems like it'd be more viable.  I dunno if that's possible or not.  I dunno if you folks have tried writing some brute force stuff to attempt to find other short (2-5 character) replacements or not, etc.

For what it's worth, reading a lot of your (you specifically heh) conversations here did help make me decide to make the switch to Colemak, and I did seriously contemplate Tarmak or even the L-U-I layout.  If doing things cold turkey, L-U-I seems like it'd be a great first step without a shadow of a doubt.

Been home for a bit.. time to install software and hit the tutors for first time at home :D

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LUI isn't actually a very good swap until the O has been moved - otherwise, you'd get significant I/O same-finger (0.92%, counting letters only).

unfy said:

From 3 letter loop swap to 219508 character loop swap to 197509128501928 swap just isn't friendly IMHO... If there was a Tarmak system that had smaller granularity on the loop swaps it seems like it'd be more viable.  I dunno if that's possible or not.  I dunno if you folks have tried writing some brute force stuff to attempt to find other short (2-5 character) replacements or not, etc.

I suspect those blog posts are outdated; Tarmak transitions of 3-5 characters per stage have since been formulated.  For more background, see Dreymar's post (currently, you'll have to scroll down to get to the new ETSOI aka J-Hopper version).

In J-Hopper, as the name suggests, only the very rare J (0.16%, counting letters only) is moved to temporary positions.  The other letters are moved straight to their Colemak positions.

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Great to read your very detailed posts. The first three weeks are the hardest, so stay strong.

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Woke up and my hands felt like I had been playing video games / holding a controller the entire 'night' before heh.  Middle knuckles kinda 'groggy', hands a little stiff, etc heh.

Did some typing after arriving at work, then did a single pass at the last Colemak lesson I was working on. edit: then did a couple typing tests:

Typing test results on every day text:

Qwerty: 81wpm / 97%
Colemak: 14wpm / 89%

lalop said:

I suspect those blog posts are outdated; Tarmak transitions of 3-5 characters per stage have since been formulated.  For more background, see Dreymar's post (currently, you'll have to scroll down to get to the new ETSOI aka J-Hopper version).
In J-Hopper, as the name suggests, only the very rare J (0.16%, counting letters only) is moved to temporary positions.  The other letters are moved straight to their Colemak positions.

Trying to congeal the posts in the thread is a tad difficult heh.  Not as difficult as some of the threads in relation to osx hackintosh's... but... still :).

If J-hopper doesn't put any key other than J into a temporary position, then it's quite possible that J-hopper would indeed be a viable option that still includes a temporary movement.  Outside of Java folks, the letter ain't used much (unless it's in your name/username heh).

I'm quite content with my whole hog mixed learning approach.  It lets me treat Colemak as a fun game to learn or like learning a new musical instrument.  Okay, maybe the latter is a bad example - I SUCK at playing any instrument (even piano heh).

Tony_VN said:

Great to read your very detailed posts. The first three weeks are the hardest, so stay strong.

Your mostly daily posts have given me the desire to do daily updates here as well :D

-------------------

Last night after getting home, went ahead and moved on to Lesson 5 which adds D & H to the key list.  As expected, things started to get complicated at that point.  Accuracy tanked for a few rounds.  I think there's more to it than just 'oh I have to move a finger' thing that new-to-typing-folks have to deal with, but rather the whole re-wiring of brain stuff.  D is my current hated letter.  S I can deal with now, but D is by far my worst character.  Seems like 2 out of 3 attempts I'll press the Qwerty D instead of the Colemak D :(.

Reading through other posts here, folks have had issues with R's.  R was a bit weird to get used to at first, much like I .. but it wasn't a sticking point for me.  Granted, I'm not at the point of using Colemak all the time yet.

I've noted while typing this post, that I've already started to hesitate or even hit Colemak keys by mistake.

---------------------

Something of an aside. Back when learning to touch type, particularly when doing 'Copy', I found that I end up typing much faster and with far fewer errors if I simply turn my brain off and it just kind of 'flows'.  I've noted that after I repeat a lesson in Colemak a few times, I can actually do similar :).  Not quite all the way (gotta catch them Qwerty tenancies), but pretty close.  I suppose it's like typing your thoughts as you go - just take your conscious brain out of it heh.

---------------------

I suppose a couple quick notes: in Qwerty, I backspace with my ring finger, not my pinky. I know that using ring finger causes a speed decrease and makes ya adjust your hand off home row, but it's always felt so much nicer than attempting to use the pinky. Perhaps due to the rotation of the wrist that occurs when using pinky.

Secondly - mouse usage: my wrist barely moves when using the mouse. My thumb and ring/pinky fingers are resting on the mouse pad and i more or less 'squeeze' / 'pushy' the mouse with them.  Basically the mouse will 'bump' against the thumb portion of my palm versus the pinky portion of palm.  My wrist is nigh-completely-stationary while mousing. If I run out of traveling space, I'll tilt the mouse ever so slightly onto it's edge and drag it back in the opposite direction. It's a 'minimal effort' kind of thing.

edit: or perhaps that my mouse is pivoting around the point that the wire comes into it ? so movement can be mostly horizontal or mostly vertical, but there is a *slight* curve to it?

---------------------

Posted on local LUG about adventuring into Colemak, turns out one of the members has been using Colemak since 2008 \o/

Last edited by unfy (30-Apr-2014 08:03:58)
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Sorry if the Tarmak posts seem chaotic. I only recommend that you read my sig topic about each subject at first, and if that's badly written in any part please let me know. In the sig topics I link to the particular post that's of interest – but soon I'll try to get an updated one written as there have been a recent update of the Tarmak progress.

I really wouldn't try to break the loops into smaller chunks than the current 3–4 keys! As you too mentioned, having a key jump about the keyboard into wrong positions doesn't make you happier so it's a necessary evil to get the loop thing working. Currently you can choose to have the J wrongly placed somewhere between once and three times depending on which steps you skip, and that's a good range I feel.

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

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Heh, get to the lesson that has the G and J keys ... and the results are:

Key misses:
d = 5
n = 1
i = 1

No G or J misses :).

Also, typed this slowly in Colemak :D

-------

addenum:

Yup, am really tired today for some reason. Prolly the weather.

But... I've noted a few times that I'll go to hit D, my index finger moves over, and then my ring finger does it's Qwerty thing despite my index finger READY TO PUSH THE KEY.

2427735-jackie_chan_meme.jpg

Last edited by unfy (30-Apr-2014 10:41:27)
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Woke up, came to work.

Fiddled around a bit trying to warm fingers up, including going through a dozen waves of typing game:

http://phoboslab.org/ztype/

Forgot to do a warmup Colemak lesson where I had left off last night (lesson 8) and went ahead and did typing speed tests:

Qwerty: 93wpm / 96%
Colemak: 21wpm / 89%

I probably have the keyboard memorized.  Technically still have four 'new' keys to learn in the typing tutor: FUY; (along with a bunch of standard Qwerty keys).

Will continue with the typing tutor for at least today. It has ya type gibberish, which I think is beneficial to thinking about key position.  Sure, ya don't pick up common di/tri-graphs, but I seem to like it honestly.

The D key isn't the bane of my existence anymore.  Sleep apparently did some good :)  The N and L keys are prolly the worst offenders of Qwerty-isms so far this morning.

Am feeling more comfortable with Colemak today.  While I had fully planned on going through The Change (TM) come hell or high water, I'm now beginning to feel confident about it \o/

My hands are still a little stiff, but do feel better than they did yesterday 'morning' (note, I'm in the USA but by whim I've got a night schedule for the last couple days).

-------------------------

As an aside, I have plans on getting a mechanical keyboard, right ? I almost wonder if some of the faceless keycaps would make more sense now.  Before I always considered them just a very stupid egotistical statement - but having more than one layout active on a keyboard... makes it a bit more attractive.

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When I started out learning an alternative layout, as I was used to glancing at the key caps, it could get a bit confusing.  It would have been better to have had blank caps.  Later on though they are a bit of a saving grace if I even need to type in Qwerty.  At the same time, if I'm lazy typing with one finger, it's still confusing having to decode the layout.  So perhaps I'd be better off with blank caps and actually bother to learn Qwerty's layout.

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

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I've looked down only a few times during the typing lessons and learned very quickly to never do that again hehehe.

Have switched over to all Colemak all the time for casual typing with the thought that have to use it to get better.

Typing tests put me at 18wpm or so. Actual typing not from "copy" is far slower :(

At least it feels far slower.  Possibly due to the inability to keep up with thoughts is infuriating heh.

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Today's morning test:

3min Qwerty: 98wpm / 98%
3min Colemak: 20wpm / 91%

I hit flowing strides in the Colemak test that were neat. And then a subconscious switch back into Qwerty - wrecking the rest of the line hehehe.

I've had coworkers ask why I am going through The Change.  I did some quick explanation, but really need to get a copy / paste reason ready.

------------------

Current hated characters would be D and G -- they are Qwerty prone.

Yes, this message was typed in Colemak.

Speaking of which. "Colemak" is a pain in the ass to type in the Colemak layout :D

-------------------

Is there a 'safe' background key logger like program to analyze a day's worth of typing? So that can get an over all feel for what need's work? Backspace tracking ? etc?

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unfy said:

Is there a 'safe' background key logger like program to analyze a day's worth of typing? So that can get an over all feel for what need's work? Backspace tracking ? etc?

Check this
http://skwire.dcmembers.com/fp/?page=keycounter

main.png

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Tony:

Interesting, but in the forum for the software, someone posted an AHK script that does similar:

myKeys := "abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz1234567890"

; Iterate through myKeys variable and create a hotkey for each letter and number.
Loop, Parse, myKeys
{
    Hotkey, ~*%A_LoopField% up, CountKeys, On
}

Return ; End of auto-execute section.


CountKeys:
{
    ; Get the third character from the left of the hotkey name.
    StringMid, myKey, A_ThisHotkey, 3, 1
    
    ; Increase character counter and total counter.
    %myKey%_Count++
    Total_Count++
}
Return

F1::
{
    ; Null out report variable.
    myReport := ""
    
    ; Iterate over myKeys variable and build out report, key by key.
    Loop, Parse, myKeys
    {
        myReport .= A_LoopField . ":`t" . %A_LoopField%_Count . "`n"
    }
    
    ; Display report with total at the bottom.
    MsgBox, % myReport . "`nTotal:`t" . Total_Count
}
Return

I'll look into modifying this later to keep track of which keys get backspaced the most.

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Modified.  I dunno how much it really helps, but:

myKeys := "abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz1234567890"

; Iterate through myKeys variable and create a hotkey for each letter and number.
Loop, Parse, myKeys
{
    Hotkey, ~*%A_LoopField% up, CountKeys, On
}

Stack := Object() ; creates stack object

Return ; End of auto-execute section.


CountKeys:
{
    ; Get the third character from the left of the hotkey name.
    StringMid, myKey, A_ThisHotkey, 3, 1    
    
    Stack.Insert(myKey)

    if Stack.MaxIndex() > 10 
    {
       Stack.Remove(Stack.MinIndex())  ; remove the top bottom the stack
    }


}
Return

~BS::
{
    ; we're counting stuff...
    if Stack.MaxIndex() > 0
    {
        LastKey := Stack.Remove(Stack.MaxIndex())

        %LastKey%_Count++    
        Total_Count++
    }
}
Return

F1::
{
    ; display

    ; Null out report variable.
    myReport := ""
    
    ; Iterate over myKeys variable and build out report, key by key.
    Loop, Parse, myKeys
    {
        myReport .= A_LoopField . ":`t" . %A_LoopField%_Count . "`n"
    }
    
    ; Display report with total at the bottom.
    MsgBox, % myReport . "`nTotal:`t" . Total_Count
}
Return

F2::
{
    ; display and zero

    ; Null out report variable.
    myReport := ""
    
    ; Iterate over myKeys variable and build out report, key by key.
    Loop, Parse, myKeys
    {
        myReport .= A_LoopField . ":`t" . %A_LoopField%_Count . "`n"
    %A_LoopField%_Count := ""
    }
    
    ; Display report with total at the bottom.
    MsgBox, % myReport . "`nTotal:`t" . Total_Count

    Total_Count = 0
}
Return

It's not truly a stack. It also has issues as to not truly knowing what was being deleted via backspace, etc.  But for generic typing ... such as:

The quaick broewn fox jumps over the lazy dog.

It should see the 'a' and 'e' deletions correctly.

Some fun comes where you:

The quaiick brown...

Cause it will tag both A and I as deleted, which may or may not be conceptually correct ?

Known bugs:
* If you switch to a different window and start deleting ...
* Or if you move the keyboard carat position and start deleting ...
* Doesn't see punctuation key strokes as deletions
* only 10 character buffer for keeping track of strings of deletion stuff (could be larger I suppose, but do you often type more than 10 characters and then delete the entire line and go back ?)

Ideas:
* specific macros for punctuation - i think these have to be specific at least given how the script works
* output to the clipboard instead of the screen (or, rather, both?)
* directional arrows clears the 'stack' so that deletes don't get applied
** maybe mouse clicks too ?
** alt-tab'ing too ?
** or is there a focus event in ahk, too ?
* don't apply a "delete" count until a key is pressed and the last key was the delete.
** ie: back space a bunch
** hit a letter
** it treats the last letter deleted as the faulty one, not the entire set of deletions


--------------

addenum: i dunno if the AHK discussion belongs in this thread ? heh.

cursing: using the v0.3 tool from Colemak, this AHK script still sees all of the key presses as Qwerty instead of Colemak heheheh

Last edited by unfy (02-May-2014 15:24:32)
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Picked up a mechanical keyboard last night. Black Widow Ultimate.  Over priced gimmicky trash, but a local store had it and I like to support local places. God I forgot how much mechanicals rock <3

Morning 3min typing tests (on new keyboard):

Qwerty: 94wpm / 96% accuracy
Colemak: 23wpm / 90% accuracy

So far hated characters: D, G, L, and ; (semicolon).  Unlearning the semicolon habit as a coder is going to be difficult.

It's also started - I've started making Colemak typos in Qwerty (hitting the Colemak key).

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Took Sunday off for the most part.

Get to work today, at more regular hours, and things are a bit pressing and I've discovered a problem with the autohotkey based implementation of Colemak remapping. Basically, arrow keys seem to stop working an I can't ctrl-c in putty etc.

Actually, I just tested it out (restarted the exe) and I appear able to use all those keys again.

*Scratches head*

Ok, back into Colemak!

Morning 3min speed tests:

Qwerty: 87 wpm / 96% accuracy
Colemak: 26 wpm / 92% accuracy

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The confusion will grow gradually until you can't type well in Qwerty as well as Colemak. The two speeds will eventually meet (Qwerty speed decrease while Colemak one increase).

You should go Colemak all the way at that critical point :-)

Last edited by Tony_VN (06-May-2014 15:28:58)
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Morning 3 min speed tests results:

Qwerty: 87wpm, 96% accuracy.
Colemak: 31wpm, 90% accuracy.

I did note during the Qwerty test that I made many more Colemak errors than in the last few days.

---------

edit: currently hated keys: F, G and L.

Last edited by unfy (06-May-2014 19:06:00)
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Nice. I think you're improving faster than me :)

I'm still around 25WPM, and 98%.

Last edited by jfmcbrayer (07-May-2014 12:44:16)
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I got to work today and could not type at all.

Was trying to type Qwerty just to warm up hands... and whatever I was typing was Klingon half Qwerty / half Colemak.  Completely befuddled.

Took 5min to get settled so could type LOL.

As far as improving better than you, JF, I doubt it.  25WPM / 98% trumps 30/90 or even 40/90 IMHO.

Gonna continue to wake up and stuff.  Will edit this post in a bit to add the morning typing speeds after take the tests.

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I don't know about that. I've had to go back to QWERTY during the day now, because trying to go colemak-turkey was impacting my productivity too much. I'm switching to Colemak for lunch, typing tests, and the little bit of computing I do in the evening.

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Was entirely too busy yesterday to get back and take a Colemak typing test.  Did manage a Qwerty test though.

Qwerty 3 min: 81wpm / 97% accuracy.

I do use Colemak nearly exclusively at home now.

-----------------------

Got to work today and immediately did a Qwerty typing test.  Am typing this post out in Colemak as a way to warm up for Colemak typing test coming up.

Qwerty 3 min: 90wpm / 96% accuracy
Colemak 3 min: 30wpm / 90% accuracy.

Felt weird today. Last night typing was going great in Colemak, today I'm stumbling all over myself :(

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Great progress. Your speed is very good, though accuracy can be improved.

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Woke up, did some typing at home ar in Colemak and then headed to work and immediately took a Qwerty speed test.  It was some lyrics of some song I didn't know - but it was pretty repetitive so my score is a bit inflated.  Am now typing this message out as my warm up for Colemak.

As a cute aside, I appear to type better in Colemak if I close my eyes as I type.  Fewer errors and stuff.  I wonder if I'm visualizing each key stroke or something.

Morning 3min speed tests.

Qwerty: 102wpm / 97% accuracy.
Colemak: 31 wpm / 89% acccuracy.

Although the Colemak score isn't that great, it felt pretty good while typing it.

Due to the mix of layouts I sometimes get into ruts of having to correct every other keypress due to Qwerty-isms. This test I didn't really have that problem.

I've noted that any long string of characters that does't require leaving the home row, I tend type pretty fast and nearly always flawlessly. So having to move fingers off home row is a stumbling block for me.  I should prolly run some more typing tutor lessons that focus on particular keys.

Annnnnnddd - it's fucking awesome to say "string of characters that doesn't leave home row".  It becomes more and more obvious each day the amount of non-home row typing qwerty requires.

One last thing that prolly isn't helping me is that I've been noticing some chatter in this mechanical keyboard.  Qwerty E and L keys in particular.

Last edited by unfy (09-May-2014 21:53:40)
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