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Good Bye Colemak.. Its Been Fun.

  • Started by knightjp
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My journey with Colemak has come to an end. I know I have debated about its merits and flaws on numerous threads here but its time to say "Adios".
Its not been a straight forward enjoyable journey and my fingers are probably going to hate me for this; I think with the number of mistakes I'm making now, they already are. After almost more than a year of trying to get to grips with Colemak and then, when I was finally getting traction with it, I decided to change. O yeah... My fingers hate me alright. :P

So, if not Colemak, what am I going to be using? Well, again with all the posts about choosing the right layout for myself, one would think that I would be heading to Dvorak. No.. HORROR OF ALL HORRORS, its QWERTY.
Yeah... I know.. Shocking. The biggest question is why choose something that is so bad?
Lets get something straight. QWERTY is not the best. I'm not  moving to it because it is. Colemak is far superior to it; so much more comfortable and easier to type on. Right now, even looking at the keyboard, I find my fingers getting confused to and working more harder to type a single sentence. There is a whole lot more same finger movement and it seems more chaotic. 

Now to answer the most important question... Why?
Its been on my mind now. When trying to decide on Dvorak vs Colemak, I came across this article (http://allthingsergo.com/blog/articles/colemak-dvorak/) which actually made some sense. It was about what is the best in the long term for me. Now I had a couple of experiences where I was went was away from my computer and I had to type a long report via email with some attachments. This was something urgent. Since I was at a friend's place, I decided to use his PC. They say that switching from Colemak to QWERTY would not be so bad, but it was for me. I could not type as fast as I wanted to. Then I started thinking. I know its not often that I do have to use another person's PC, but when I have to, I don't like the fact that I'm not comfortable on the layout he/she uses.
This also comes into play when I'm at someone's place assisting in fixing their system. Having someone look at you hunt and peck while trying to type on their system does not install the best of confidence in your abilities to fix the issues.
I'm also going to be moving around a bit, which means in my job, heading to government centers and using their terminals. Now I know they definitely won't be using Colemak and I think I need to get used to something that will make my life easier in the long run.

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Sad to see you go, but best of luck to you.

I have Colemak on a USB stick in my pocket and in a folder in my Dropbox at all times, so I'm never far away from it. But I understand your troubles.

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Good luck with your new job.

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To be honest, I kinda grew fond of Colemk. Its easy shortcuts, comfort is for the moment unmatched. I was beginning to touch-type so well & it felt good.
But the sad truth is that Colemak is not practical for me the more I thought about it. I want to be able to touch-type on any computer that I come across; right from the moment my finger hits the 1st key.
Even Dvorak would not work for work. Its available on all systems, that's true. Although considering all, it would be crazy to spend 2 - 5 mins changing the layout on a system that I may only be using for a max of 30; even more so if it is public terminal.

All that said, if any one is having issues with QWERTY in terms of pain, RSI, etc., I would definitely recommend Colemak. Its Dvorak made better. :P.

Last edited by knightjp (25-Aug-2014 08:12:42)
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Tony_VN said:

Good luck with your new job.

Thank you Tony. Its more or less with the added responsibilities.

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So in short, you like the layout, but you don't find it practical.

I picked up Dvorak with some trepidation over portability, but it looked more portable than Colemak.  It's just a damn shame that layout switching isn't that much easier.  It adds friction.

I'll be interested to know if your Qwerty touch typing shows improvement.

Last edited by pinkyache (25-Aug-2014 10:08:01)

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Well @Davkol, I would like to use both, but my brain isn't designed for touch-typing in both; or rather, my attention span isn't designed to retain two layouts for touch typing.
@Pinkyache - To me its a shame that something better isn't automatically made a standard. I mean it happens with everything else. Disc Brakes wasn't standard sometime ago. Now it is. Why? Because its better and manufacturers of cars got behind it. so why can't manufacturers and devleopers get behind Colemak and make it standard. Why do we have to be stuck with QWERTY?

Anyways, my moving to QWERTY is to make my brain and my fingers rest easy that no matter what keyboard is in front of me and whatever system it is, I will be able to touch-type on it without any issues. :)

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Disc brakes were marketable. Keyboard manufacturers don't think they'll make more money from promoting Colemak so they don't. Mental inertia being what it is, I fear they're spot on there.

Another problem is the plethora of alternatives available. Dvorak products do exist, but how should a vendor know whether to support Colemak or Workman or something else? Sure, I believe that Colemak is a stayer and it's quite big but I can imagine that the vendors aren't quite as convinced.

Last edited by DreymaR (25-Aug-2014 10:31:05)

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davkol said:

I actually doubt "not being capable of something" applies to anyone anymore. It's a matter of finding the right tools, triggers… and practice. The real question is, whether it's worth the effort, or not… That being said, QWERTY *is* the best. The best in case of format/device compatibility¹, not ergonomics or anything like that though.

¹ Kay 2013

I don't know if QWERTY is all as bad as people say it is anymore. After all the fastest typist in the world uses it. Took the title away from a Dvorak user. I've still yet too see a Colemak user take that title. To be honest, Colemak will definitely get more traction once that happens and more famous people start using it. Perhaps then we'll be able to see it as a standard install on Windows.

But that is something that will be long way away. None of us are that geeky enough to devote so much time to being able to type at the speed of sound. :P
Anyways, my main point is being able to touch-type from the get go on any system. That is what QWERTY will give me. Sad but true.

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I do notice that I'm not using the usual touch-typing techniques for the moment. I switched over to QWERTY cold-turkey over night. But I will be using typingweb.com to help me gain the right techniques and in time speed. Maybe I'll learn to develop some techniques of my own to alleviate the strain.

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Barbara Blackburn is a good example, because she typed in Qwerty and Dvorak. Her Dvorak speed was faster. It isn't good to use Sean Wrona as an example for Qwerty being good. For all anyone knows, he'd be twice as fast in Colemak. But he doesn't type in Colemak.

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From what I gather, Sean has more or less matched Barbara with respect to long-term speeds. Like her, he can keep a blazing speed for an hour if he wants to, not just some short-distance run trick.

What this proves is that QWERTY *can* be used for really really fast typing, and that the superiority of other layouts based purely on speed is hard to prove, if existent (which I still believe it is, logically speaking). It also proves that to be that fast on QWERTY you have to develop your entirely own style, but that's really true for any layout I think. For the highest speeds you need to transcend the layout and make it part of you, not just on a letter-by-letter basis but for all the common words or at least word components.

Sean would probably struggle quite a bit with Colemak because of this, so he hasn't been willing to give it a try. He'd have to relearn not just the layout but all the special tricks that make him so fast. I do believe he'd make, say, 120+ WPM with Colemak in no time (likely 140+ WPM too!), but for it to settle enough to make him a competitor for the world records again would likely take a while. But oh, how I'd like that to happen! ;)

Last edited by DreymaR (31-Aug-2014 14:58:50)

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That certainly is true DreymaR.

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The speed question is hard to judge given that almost all typists in the world use Qwerty. Dvorak and Colemak users are unfortunately statistically insignificant!

Someone should do a research project. Take a couple of hundred people with no typing experience (might be hard to find; best bet would probably be children and/or from developing countries). Divide them into 3 groups and give them a different layout each, Qwerty, Dvorak, and Colemak. It would be interesting know, given an initial level playing field, (i) how quickly their typing ability would develop and (ii) how fast they would eventually become.

If the world population used the three layouts in roughly equal quantities, I feel certain that even the best of the Qwerty group would not be anywhere near the record-holders.

Last edited by stevep99 (31-Aug-2014 14:07:45)

Using Colemak Mod-DH with some additional ergonomic keyboard mods.

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Whenever anyone makes that suggestion, I think "You may say I'm a DreymaR – but I'm not the only one!". ;)

I think that Sean's speeds prove that the best of the QWERTY group would likely be quite near the record holders? But my feeling is that the improved layouts would do a lot better overall! I seem to remember that in the heyday of Dvorak his "disciples" would do very well in typing contests overall. They were well motivated and trained, for sure, but I think the better layout helped them too. So even if the top speeds might be relatively close, the distributions would be very interesting.

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DreymaR said:

Whenever anyone makes that suggestion, I think "You may say I'm a DreymaR – but I'm not the only one!". ;)

Ah... Imagine!  ;)

Using Colemak Mod-DH with some additional ergonomic keyboard mods.

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I didn't read all the posts here, but I will say that I worked for a year and a half at an employer who would not allow me to use Colemak on my keyboard. So all day, every day, I typed QWERTY at work, and all evening, every evening I typed Colemak at home. In time I could switch between them quite easily.

All this to say that learning Colemak takes time. And learning to type in QWERTY once you've typed in Colemak takes time. And learning to switch back and forth between them takes time. But they're all possible!

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Props to you.  I have never been able to maintain multiple layouts at any respectable speed, despite having tried many times.  If course I was trying to maintain Dvorak and Colemak, which is probably more difficult than Qwerty and Colemak.

If I had been in your shoes, I would have purchased a hardware programmable keyboard so my boss wouldn't know I was using Colemak.

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My adventure with QWERTY is somewhat slow going. I'm amazed at how easy it is for my fingers to adjust to the placement of the letters. I guess the similarities of Colemak and QWERTY are a factor to that. Actually I'm making less mistakes than I did on my 1st year with Colemak; which doesn't make QWERTY all that bad as I believed.
Or Maybe its because I'm left-handed and QWERTY is kinda made is a way that the left hand does a bit more work. I use the SPACE with my left thumb as well.
I cannot type completely without looking at the keyboard. I'm sort of using my own hunt and peck method at the moment. Maybe I need a cheat sheet like what I did with Colemak.
The main factor is that I'm able to use the computer with pretty much almost the same proficiency that I got to when I finally got to grips with Colemak. In time I hope to get better with it and probably be able to touch type without actually looking at the keyboard once. :)

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In the early typing contests I hear the dvorak typists got banned outright for a few years, until they petitioned to get their ability to compete back.

I think the difference between top typists using qwerty, dvorak, colemak, is simply a numbers game on user share. 99% of the world users something qwerty based
1% of those become competing typists, 1% world uses dvorak or colemak and maybe 1% of those become competing typists etc.
Not a very high ratio to produce a truly amazing world record breaking typist.

Its been over a decade since I touch typed qwerty, honestly no amount of it taking a minute to switch keyboard layouts to use a PC I'm working on at my work could ever make me switch back to qwerty, I'd just do
it, especially if I knew that all the computers at my work would be running something that has layout support, if I was working on something that wouldn't have layout support I'd throw down
and get a hardware usb keyboard (not a option at your work since they probable want to keep the terminals secure).

Last edited by Dreyeth (18-Dec-2014 10:48:23)

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My thoughts too. At the top level there will be a real difference between layouts just as there is a difference for top bicyclists if they manage to trim a few more grams off their bike or round a corner just a little bit more – but the main force will still be the actual typist (or biker) most of the time. Fortunately for competitions, for sure.

Still, the "arms race" for sports equipment is so ridiculous that it disgusts me. No knowing exactly how much actual effect it has, I feel. And similarly for layouts, some try to squeeze out a WPM by optimizing whatever they feel is important. Typing isn't a sponsored sport though, so I guess the potential for actual improvement might be bigger there...? But there's no way to find out what works without expensive research.

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Just an update. My journey back to QWERTY has not been as great as I hoped. I knew that getting back is going to be painful. Fortunately I can hunt and peck for the time being.
As predicted, it does not seem natural. I don't think any ergonomics was ever considered in developing the layout. It is not extremely painful but it is extremely slow. Almost as slow as my progress with Colemak.

Perhaps it is because I haven't been doing the typing practises as much as I should.

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Come back to Colemak! Now we even have the Curl mod! :-)

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It's very tempting DreymaR. I would certainly consider it.

But I haven't given up on QWERTY on yet. :)

I guess I need to take more time to train myself on it.

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“As you think, so shall you become.”
~Bruce Lee

;-)

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