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    Three-layout maintenance - progress!

    • Started by Nikk
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    • Registered: 18-Feb-2017
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    Hey everybody! I posted a while ago about my Colemak progress, after having come from being proficient in both Dvorak and QWERTY for several years.  I have the insane goal of trying to maintain typing speeds on all three layouts, with the ability to switch between them with ease.

    The last time that I posted, I was only a month into using Colemak, cold turkey.  That was going pretty well - I was at nearly 60wpm, but things felt pretty clunky, and my accuracy was pretty low.  At that point, I was totally unable to use Dvorak or QWERTY at all.

    Shortly afterwards, I started doing tests with QWERTY, and was able to pick it back up quickly (with averages around 60wpm after a day or so of forcing myself to start using it again).

    Another two months later, I started trying to reincorporate Dvorak. This has been significantly harder to do, and it's not a part of my normal workflow yet.  Colemak is my current default at work.  With QWERTY, I have my smartphone on-screen keyboard, and I often set my laptop to use it when I'm not set up at my desk with an external keyboard.  With Dvorak, I just have a Chromebook at home that I use when I leave my normal laptop at work.

    Colemak has felt very fluid recently, so I did a few tests to evaluate where I am just today.  I did the same with QWERTY (after having to spend almost an entire minute switching my brain into QWERTY mode to do it at my desk!), and right now I'm writing this post in Dvorak because it's absolutely my weakest of the three.

    Here's where I am!  I'm really excited to be at this point, because I can switch between the three and type well enough that it's not too painful to practice and start doing switching drills (and get my Dvorak fluency back!).

    All of these tests are done on 10 Fast Fingers' basic English test.

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    I plan to keep using Dvorak for the remainder of today and focusing on that accuracy.  I still am finding myself slipping into Colemak for certain words and letter combinations that feel similar between the two.

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    • From: Oslo, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
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    It's quite interesting that you maintain both Dvorak and Colemak simultaneously. Most of us just let Dvorak fall by the wayside. You're in a rare position to compare the two with actual simultaneous fluency in both!

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

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    • Registered: 18-Feb-2017
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    That's exactly what I want to do!  It's freaking hard, but I'm determined to get this.

    I'm up to 50 WPM with Dvorak this morning on that test.  I think I'm typing a lot faster than that when I'm just writing free-form, rather than having to drill random words, though.

    It's probably gonna be pretty awkward when I go back into Colemak... but I'm not sure what technique is best for when to use which, and how much I should get my bearings before switching to another layout again.

    I will say that Colemak and Dvorak feel very similar.  QWERTY is such a mess that, until I make the mental switch into typing at 100+ WPM, it feels awful and clumsy.  Dvorak, though I had fallen out of practice, feels so different even when I'm going slow.

    Last edited by Nikk (08-Aug-2017 19:21:44)
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    • Registered: 20-Jun-2017
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    Any reason to keep fluency in both Colemak and Dvorak? Keeping QWERTY in mind along with Colemak seems like more than enough work to me. I can't imagine being able to type Dvorak proficiently would come in handy as often as being proficient with QWERTY (assuming Colemak is your dominant layout). Good luck though, being able to type well in 3 different layouts seems like an outstanding achievement to me!

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    Not really any reason except that it's a challenge and that I would love to be able to compare the two layouts somewhat fairly. 

    I can switch between Dvorak and QWERTY or Colemak and QWERTY, but I'm definitely struggling with switching quickly between Colemak and Dvorak, at this point.  They feel pretty similar.

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    • Registered: 20-Jun-2017
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    That's interesting! I would've expected QWERTY and Colemak to feel more similar, seeing as they share quite a few keys and both have low hand alteration. When I briefly tried Dvorak the complete change in philosophy of high hand alteration really took me for a spin, felt very different to QWERTY. I didn't really get that feeling learning Colemak. Perhaps the fact that both are heavy on the home row has a larger affect than that.

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    • From: Oslo, Norway
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    Yeah, there are many strange myths about Colemak. I think part of it is Dvorak and other full-tilt-layout users wanting to defend their probably excessive investment. ;-)

    Rare letters staying in place from QWERTY will not noticeably affect the feeling of a keyboard layout, as they are just that – rare. It's the common letters that really make the feeling. And more importantly, the common n-grams – but they will almost invariably consist of common letters. I guess that some letters like W are frequent enough in n-grams, but since there's also at least one other letter in an n-gram the whole feeling won't usually be the same nevertheless. :-)

    But I guess the intense hand alteration of Dvorak is a special experience; I remember it vaguely. The rolls of Colemak may have a more subtle feeling to them.

    Last edited by DreymaR (21-Aug-2017 10:32:43)

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

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    • Registered: 24-Sep-2014
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    I switch between Colemak and Qwerty daily ('can switch instantly) and I touch type on both of them at the same level of proficiency (greater than 100 WPM). I've found that the difference in comfort is not that noticeable. I think even though Colemak is proven to be "better", a large part of the problem is that typing tests don't model real life well for most people; I'm never typing at top speed for a long duration of time without breaks. Nobody even talks about the impact of how spelling ability effects typing speed/accuracy or the benefits of auto type correction. A goal of the computer often is to even create shortcuts to reduce typing. Even by writing this post, I have many pauses in between bottlenecked by my thought. I do agree that a lot of bias exists coming from those that are unable to type well in qwerty anymore, or never typed as well in qwerty to begin with. YMMV.

    Last edited by Zorg (27-Aug-2017 05:15:18)
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    I think the difference in comfort is noticeable, and is the biggest benefit from switching. Perhaps if you have learned good typing technique, and develop strategies to deal with Qwerty's inefficiencies, you can in the end, make Qwerty comfortable enough. But most people aren't great typists, and I'd venture to say, most people can't even touch-type. For these people, Qwerty is more like a millstone around their neck that they are so used to being present, they don't even notice it's there.

    The scattered positions of the most frequent keys causes the user to end up looking down at the keyboard more often than would be ideal, and also make more mistakes. Qwerty seems to actively discourage you from touch-typing properly, and it takes discipline to overcome it. Then, when you add in the other terrible designs features of standard keyboards, like the backspace and shift positions, it all adds up to making typing an unduly awkward an inefficient experience.

    Colemak has the effect of removing these irritations, and streamlines everything. The awkwardness disappears. The millstone is suddenly lifted, leaving the task of typing suddenly becoming less burdensome. The layout design itself seems to encourage touch-typing. If you are not a particularly great typist on Qwerty to begin with, the benefits seem all the greater, as a good technique will start to evolve naturally. Other innovations, like Extend, take these gains and build on them further still.

    I agree for a large number of keyboard users, a large part of the time may be spent do other things - e.g. thinking - but what you really want from your keyboard is, when you are ready to type something, it becomes simply a useful tool, helping you do your job, and doesn't get in the way.

    Last edited by stevep99 (28-Aug-2017 11:29:31)

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

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    • Registered: 24-Sep-2014
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    I don't disagree with what you've written. A large comfort difference may indeed exist between a qwerty typist that doesn't touch type properly and a good colemak typist.

    Qwerty may have more "inefficiencies" but in the grand scheme of things, Qwerty and Colemak have more similarities than differences when it comes to typing ability. That's why learning how to type for the first time is pretty difficult regardless of layout, and why a Qwerty expert can learn Colemak at a significantly faster pace (nobody talks about this too).

    Learning a new layout is still hard though. People choose to learn a new layout rather than improve typing ability on qwerty, but I suspect the latter is easier/more practical for many... I think a big factor not mentioned is simply that most keyboards are qwerty ones, and so typists learning colemak can't easily "cheat" their way when learning.

    (Btw, I don't consider the backspace position to be a "core" part of Colemak, and that could be applied to other layouts too).

    Last edited by Zorg (28-Aug-2017 02:02:20)
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    • From: Oslo, Norway
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    It's not all that hard with Tarmak? ;-)

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

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