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- Registered: 20-Jun-2017
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A bit of a story.
I learned qwerty in primary school and have used it my entire life, now in my final year of my bachelor's. I was fairly good; I could usually type at about 110 wpm without a problem on basic online tests such as 10fastfingers. The idea of any other way of typing never even crossed my mind.
I first learned about alternative keyboard layouts when I stumbled upon some blog or article describing the Dvorak keyboard layout about 4 years ago. Now I’ll let you know that I absolutely love maximizing efficiency and all things related – so obviously it was love at first sight. Many times, I rushed into trying to learn Dvorak cold turkey but eventually I would hang my head in shame and revert back to qwerty due to the sheer effort and pain required to switch.
On perhaps the 7th or 8th time I attempted the switch (over the course of 4 years) I actually stuck with it for a while – about a week. I was up to 40 or so words per minute, and it really was feeling pretty great. Unfortunately, something about the layout became more and more blindingly obvious. Most might say the position of the L, but for me the positions of U and I were just so nonsensical I couldn't believe it. Every time I had to move my hand from the useless U and click I it infuriated me more and more. I had to find something better.
By this point I had heard about Colemak, but brushed it off for whatever reason. I finally took a proper look at it, and decided to do some proper research this time. I discovered some irritation about the positions of H and D, similar to my disdain of Dvorak’s misplaced I. I gave it a go nonetheless, got up to about 20 words per minute and it was already clear I had the same problem. I found Colemak Mod DH on May 14th and immediately fell in love – for real this time.
Quickly my proficiency sky rocketed, I hit 50 words per minute in about a week, 70 after 2 and 90 after 3. Now about 5 or 6 weeks later I’m quite happily hitting 100 wpm, though I do not practice even one tenth as much as I did in the last 3 weeks than the first 3 weeks. Importantly, I’m using 10 Fast Fingers to measure it, on Key Hero with more realistic writing I usually get anywhere between 80 and 100 wpm for a quote.
I love Colemak and I’m very happy I switched, and have recommended it to everyone that I think is nerdy enough to be interested! Also thank you stevep99 for creating Mod DH, I don’t think I would have without your contributions to the community. DreymaR's enthusiasm and contributions have also come in handy and been an inspiration :) I have since recommended it to my best friend, brother, and even my father, who are all interested in making the switch. I believe my brother is at about 30 wpm on Colemak-DH!
Stage 1: Layout Memorization
WPM: 0 - 15
Time in stage: 1-2 hours (Day 1)
I used this website http://first20hours.github.io/keyzen-colemak/ and simply worked through from the beginning until I could consistently do the entire alphabet. I had the layout open in a separate window that allowed me to check when I wasn’t sure of a letter. Once I had completed all of the letters I minimized the layout and continued for a while, not allowing myself to check.
Stage 2: Common N-grams and Words
WPM: 15 - 30
Time in stage: 2-3 hours (Week 1)
After memorizing the layout I completely eliminated the picture to allow me to check for letters. I used websites https://zentyping.mrap.me/#/ and https://10fastfingers.com/top1000 to let me train on the most common words and bigrams. Particularly 10 fast fingers top 1000 was helpful as it contained extremely common words.
Other notable things were occasionally using Colemak-DH for instant messaging.
Stage 3: General Practice
WPM: 30 - 50
Time in stage: 5 - 6 hours (Week 1)
By this point I was starting to work up a flow and getting used to the layout, I exclusively switched to Colemak-DH for any non-time constrained things such as commenting on reddit, emails, and instant messaging friends. I started using https://10fastfingers.com/typing-test/english and https://www.keyhero.com/free-typing-test/ as my go-to for improving and tracking wpm. This stage was primarily just practice.
Other notable things were very often when I would read a word or sentence away from my computer I would envision how to type it (I know it sounds weird but it felt like really good practice).
Stage 4: Time Constraints, Specific Letters, and Amphetype
WPM: 50 – 70
Time in stage: Week 2 (about 2 hours a day of focused practice)
I switched entirely to Colemak-DH, taking a hefty hit to my daily WPM. This was a huge deal, as I had a large assignment due and decided to write it entirely using Colemak-DH. I think this was critical to my experience, and really pushed me over the edge from just learning Colemak-DH to using Colemak-DH. I wrote the assignment over the course of a two days or so and my wpm went from 48-52 to 58-62 after completion, I think the fact that I really needed to type quickly to get the assignment done on time helped.
At this point I was decent at typing all of the common letters, but lacked the ability to quickly type less common letters such as j, b, q etc. J in particular really hit me. At this stage I used http://www.keybr.com/practice as it allowed me to work on particular letters, I did this until the program said I had no letters to train on. I also found DreymaR’s post about Amphetype at this point. Downloaded it and particularly used the Focused Lessons part of his guide, which was a great help to my accuracy.
Stage 5: Flow
WPM: 70 - 90
Time in Stage: Week 3 (about 2 hours a day of focused practice)
Continuing to use Colemak-DH in everyday use, I still trained a couple hours everyday. I continued primarily to use Amphetype, https://10fastfingers.com/typing-test/english, and https://www.keyhero.com/free-typing-test/. At this point it was all about getting faster without losing accuracy. I focused strictly on typing like my keyboard was a piano, with fixed times between presses. This kept accuracy high and sped me up on less common words. Getting up to the 90s involved thinking about words I could type quickly and smashing them out, while slowing down on less frequent or harder words.
I also typed the majority of my thesis progress report during this stage, which helped immensely.
Stage 6: Everyday Usage
At 90, I felt happy with my speed. At this point I stopped focused training and now simply use Colemak-DH all the time.
Words I like:
start, question, -ould, nine, nearest, sentence
Words I dislike:
nonstanionaries and entertainers are also quite novelty :)
I hope someone gets inspiration, interest, or just happy to see another colemak convert from this post! Thanks for reading.