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    boli's experiences

    • Started by boli
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    • From: Switzerland
    • Registered: 21-Aug-2007
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    Hullo everyone

    Background:
    I've been touch-typing for over 15 years (I'm 29), using a swiss german layout (QWERTZ) at first. A couple of years ago, soon after I became a student in computer science, I switched to QWERTY - giving up easy access to umlauts etc. but getting brackets, braces and slashes instead - which was handy for programming and work in the shell.
    In december 2006 I almost switched to DVORAK, but decided against it because I was to start my first job (as a software engineer) a couple days later and didn't want to make a bad impression. ;)

    BTW, I'm using Mac OS X at home (been a Mac-user forever) and got me one of those sleek new Apple keyboards last week. I'm also intrigued by keyboards with non-staggered keys, like the ones by typematrix.
    According to a 3 minute test at typingtest.com ("enchanted typewriter") my net QWERTY speed was 72 wpm at 97% accuracy prior to switching.


    Change/Progress:
    Anyway, I found out about the colemak layout recently and was intrigued. Two days ago I made the switch (cold turkey so far). I did the first six lessons on that sunday (for about 3 hours I think), moving on as soon as I reached 97% accuracy. I was - and still am - very slow, little more than 10 wpm.

    Yesterday I also used colemak at work (Windows XP and Mac OS X) - no programming ATM, but using Photoshop shortcuts and replying to emails was hard enough. Soooo slow. Did lesson 7 to 9 at home, again until at least 97% accuracy or a minimum of two passes per lesson.

    Another slow day at work today, then lesson 10 to 12 at home. And now I'm posting this... :)

    I like it so far and already noticed the potential comfort of using colemak. Though ATM typing anything requires my full concentration - when I just "let go" my fingers want to write QWERTY. ;) Oh well, I guess more time and training will help.

    Cheers, Oliver

    Last edited by boli (21-Aug-2007 22:47:30)
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    • From: Houston, Texas
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    Great!  keep at it!

    probably the first two weeks is toughest ...

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    Thanks, keyboard samurai. :)


    Still learning... doing some more typing at work now. I'm also redoing all the lessons with increased minimal WPM (currently at least 20 wpm for 10 or more minutes) while keeping a low error rate. Not doing games yet, because if I hurry too much I make too many mistakes. ;)

    Progress:
    Using short test at http://labs.jphantom.com/wpm/
    After day 00: 10 wpm  ( 49 cpm)
    After day 02: 18 wpm  ( 78 cpm)
    After day 04: 21 wpm  ( 92 cpm)
    After day 07: 27 wpm  (118 cpm)
    After day 09: 32 wpm  (138 cpm)

    This test uses some weird calculation, if one would assume 5 chars per word the resulting wpm would be quite a bit slower... I'll do another 3 minute test some time, same as I did to measure my QWERTY speed.

    Last edited by boli (28-Aug-2007 23:12:18)
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    Progress:
    Using the same test as above:
    After day 16: 39 wpm (172 cpm)

    Using the 3 min enchanted typewriter test: 26 wpm (net) at 89% accuracy.


    I still hit quite a few QWERTY keys when trying to write (too) fast... So I'm trying to improve my accuracy by redoing all the lessons at 30 or more wpm (for at least 10 minutes) at < 1% error rate. Have done this for lesson 1 to 7 so far... (others at least at 25wpm and < 2% error rate)

    Last edited by boli (04-Sep-2007 20:39:08)
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    Have been using Colemak for 3 weeks now... (and no qwerty since)

    Progress: (Using the same test as above)
    After day 17: 40 wpm (173 cpm)
    After day 18: 40 wpm (172 cpm)
    After day 20: 51 wpm (215 cpm)

    I also did another 3 min enchanted typewriter test to compare to my qwerty typing speed:
    37 wpm (net) at 95% accuracy. That's about half of my qwerty speed in 3 weeks.

    As for the lessons: I completed all of them at at least 30 wpm for 10+ minutes using the Master Key tutor (Mac OS X version), which I bought. I'm now attempting the lessons at 35+ wpm and low error rate.

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    I've been away for the annual mandatory military refresher course for 3 weeks, without typing practice except for weekends. Other than that I've been using the Colemak layout at work and at home for everyday tasks, and not much typing lessons (The last I did was 10 minutes of typing at 35+ wpm for each of the 12 supplied lessons).

    Progress: (Using the same test as above)
    After day 20: 51 wpm (215 cpm)
    After day 50: 67 wpm 289 cpm)

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    great improvement :)

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    Today (64th day), I did the jphantom test exactly as fast and accurate as last time (previous post).

    BTW, on the 54th day I did the enchanted typewriter test again, this time at 47 WPM at 94% accuracy. Still making progress, but much more slowly now - then again I haven't done any training for weeks. I'm confident that I'll reach my qwerty speed at some point though.

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    Today is day 116 of my switch. I'm still slowly making progress. Occasionally I redo the lessons supplied by this website, I can do every one at 45 wpm, for at least 10 minutes each.
    On day 84 I scored 74 wpm in the jphantom test (previous score from last post was 67 wpm).
    On day 108 I scored 51 wpm in the enchanted typewriter test (which I use as a reference - compared to 72 wpm in QWERTY before the switch, or 47 wpm before the previous post).
    Today I was lucky and scored 59 wpm in Ryan Heise's test (see signature).

    Also I noticed that I never thanked Shai for creating the Colemak layout, so: Shai, thank you very much for this awesome layout!

    Last edited by boli (14-Dec-2007 00:21:42)
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    In the last two months a few things happened:

    In december I got a TypeMatrix 2030 keyboard and tried it for over a week. Unfortunately, it wasn't for me. While I liked the grid-like layout of the keys as well as the center enter and backspace keys, I couldn't handle the placement of the modifier keys. Being a Mac user I do need all three of them (Command, Option and Control) regularly, and  - as I found out - on both sides of the space bar. It might have worked out if the key immediately to the left of the space bar could have been mapped to Command, but as it's one of the Shift keys, it couldn't be done without remapping the regular two shift keys.

    Having liked the grid layout of the TypeMatrix I got a Plum Keyboard and remapped it to Colemak. Unfortunately, it was just too cheap and finicky (the keys have to be hit exactly in the middle, otherwise they won't move), so I dismissed it after a few hours.

    At that time I bit the bullet and ordered next-best thing to "the real thing": a Kinesis Ergo Contoured Keyboard. I admit I've also been thinking about the real real thing, which would reportedly be a Maltron Keyboard. But it's twice as expensive as the Kinesis, and not re-mappable in Firmware, so I'm not so sure... I'd love to hear from anyone who's tried both.
    I've been using the Kinesis keyboard for two weeks now and think it's a keeper. I'll probably order another one soon, since I'm taking the one I have from home to work and back home on weekends... I love the ability to remap keys in firmware and am still experimenting...

    With all these new keyboards my Colemak speed has hardly improved. I did manage 62 wpm in Ryan Heise's typing test (link in signature) with the aluminum Apple keyboard recently, a speed which I'm only now approaching again with the Kinesis (60 wpm being the closest IIRC)

    I did the enchanted typewriter test again on the Kinesis just now: 56 wpm at 98%.
    (Remember that before the switch to Colemak I had 72 wpm at 97%)
    I guess it will take at least a couple months till I reach the speed I had before, for now I'm happy with much more comfortable typing, thanks to the improved logical and now also physical keyboard layout. :)

    And for the record today is day 196 after I switched to Colemak.

    Last edited by boli (02-Mar-2008 21:44:05)
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    • From: Oslo, Norway
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    Wow, some dedicated keyboard trying there. Glad you ended up with a good one: I've heard the same thing about the Plum and off-center presses, and also that the Kinesis is good.

    Maybe you should write up a proper review of the boards you've tried, seeing how you've been through the most interesting models for people who dislike staggered rows? Could've been a nice read.

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

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    I'm not doing reviews, but I posted some more comments at https://forum.colemak.com/viewtopic.php?id=371

    Also, as of today I'm just as fast with the Kinesis as I was with the Apple keyboard a week ago.

    Last edited by boli (04-Mar-2008 21:40:02)
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    In the time since my last post I have further adjusted to the Kinesis Advantage keyboard. I now have two of them, one at work and one at home. This lead to my new high score of 68 WPM in Ryan Heise's typing test (see signature), though I have to admit that was a one-time event so far. Usually I'm in the 55-60 WPM range.

    Edit: Great, I just did the test again and reached 70 WPM just to contradict myself. ;)

    Last edited by boli (22-Mar-2008 12:40:15)
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    Day 308: It's been 3 months since my last progress report, so here goes...

    I've not been doing any practice other than normal use of the computer (lots of it, as I'm a software engineer).

    Today's score at Hi-Games is still 70 wpm. I did improve a tiny bit in the test I use as reference: The 3 minute "Enchanted typewriter" test at typingtest.com. I'm very close to my previous QWERTY speed now. I finally made a graph for the data I gathered. The left part is from normalized scores of the jphantom test, the right part is the reference test.

    The x-axis is time since the switch in days, the y-axis is WPM.

    progress_graph.png

    Just to clarify, I'm no longer using QWERTY if I can avoid it (except on the iPhone), and for the few times I cannot avoid it I just hunt and peck.

    Summary:
    While I reached half of my QWERTY speed in 3 weeks, I haven't reached full QWERTY speed after 10 months.

    Edit 2008-08-10: Updated graph.

    Edit 2013-10-29: Fixed link to image.

    Last edited by boli (29-Oct-2013 13:15:00)
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    Day 329:

    - Hi-Games.net: new top speed of 73 wpm

    - 3 minute "enchanted typewriter" at typingtest.com: Still 69 wpm net speed, but increased accuracy from 97% to 98%.

    - keybr.com: Average speed of 68 wpm, top speed of 84 wpm (total of 88 exercises)


    I reached my top speeds by focusing on accuracy and rhythm, rather than typing as fast as possible.

    I noticed that when I try to type as fast as possible I sort of just let "my hands type on their own", and to my surprise they sometimes still tried to reach a letter in its QWERTY position. By giving just a little thought to what I'm about to type this could be helped. So while trying to type as fast as possible enables faster burst speeds, the increased error rate coming with it results in a lower average speed. I'm wondering if there is a point where focusing more to further reduce errors might result in a lower average speed, and where it is. For now I think that I should try to make less errors - even though I'm already at 97+% accuracy.

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    Nice work there, Boli.

    It just occurred to me that the keys that Colemak doesn't bother with changing are around the 1% frequency mark. So if you were to consider mistyping a "key" it's now at 3% with your very typical error rate. This means around 3% hitting the backspace key (luckily it's in a better position at least!) and in addition the lapse in concentration and the time your brain takes to decide on what to do before actually correcting the mistake and moving on. It adds up. I wish we had a good measure of how much time errors take compared to the rest - maybe Ryan Heise or someone else could make something? Let's say the time between a mistyping and the next correctly typed char was measured and at the end compared with the time a correct press took on average.

    At any rate (pun intended!) I think that getting the error rate down from the usual 3%ish to around 1% would be very beneficial for most.

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

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    Day 343:

    - 3 minute "enchanted typewriter" at typingtest.com: 71 wpm net speed, at accuracy of 98%. Almost there! (QWERTY speed was 72 wpm)

    - keybr.com: Average speed still 68 wpm, new top speed of 87 wpm (total of 184 exercises).

    Edit 2008.08.10: Removed graph (up-to-date graph in this earlier post).

    Last edited by boli (10-Aug-2008 12:21:38)
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    AWESOME RESULTS Boli!!

    I broke the 70wpm plateau after drilling myself on that keybr.com test a few times per day for 5-10min sessions over a period of 5 days... It cut my error rate down to less than 1 mistake per minute! Going back and forth between accuracy and speed works wonders.

    And I swear this other "method/trick" worked for me as well:

    As you know, I was stuck at 60-65wpm for close to a month. One night, I finally got frustrated and just had to blow off some steam, so I decided to do some squats - 3 sets, REALLY heavy. My legs felt like noodles after the set, so I sat down at my desk, and decided to do a quick test, and I kid you not, I bested my highest score at the time (68wpm) by 6wpm. Not only that, my average tests after that point stayed in the low 70s. Crazy huh?

    Too bad it doesn't work that way after every workout...:)

    Actually, I think it was a combination of both the keybr practise and the "de-stressing" workout.

    Last edited by makdaddyrak (27-Jul-2008 20:24:13)
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    Leszek said:

    Hello boli, I wonder what is your tehnique of using the keyboard. Do you touch it like it is depicted here?
    https://colemak.com/wiki/images/e/ef/Co … ingers.png

    I think that for software developing the right pinkie is the sore point using Colemak (thought querty is much the same in this area).

    Hi Leszek

    I'm using a Kinesis Ergo Contoured board, as you've read/seen in this thread, and use standard fingering, with Colemak layout (with the top row moved to the left, and some arrow and miscellaneous keys relocated).

    Developing software works quite well for me, I'm not feeling any fatigue in the right pinkie. I'm using the ring finger for left brackets and braces ([ and {), the matching right bracket or brace is usually auto-completed anyway. The backspace and enter key are worked by the thumbs.

    80329_kinesis_colemak_small.png

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    Progress as of day 357:

    - 3 minute "enchanted typewriter" at typingtest.com: 72 wpm net speed, at accuracy of 98%. Finally, I reached my QWERTY speed – after almost a year. Yesterday I tested at 71 wpm five times, with varying accuracies - the worst was 94%, when I tried typing as fast as possible in a less focused/controlled manner (at 76 gross wpm, but still only 71 net wpm).
    By now I can type the "Enchanted typewriter" almost by heart. ;)

    I updated the graph in this earlier post.

    - keybr.com: Average speed is 69 wpm, new top speed is 100 wpm (total of 320 exercises). The new top speed was reached only by using the digg.com web feed as input text. The default random texts contain strange words which are not quite English, which require a lot of focus/attention.

    Last edited by boli (10-Aug-2008 12:20:12)
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    Day 366:
    One year of typing Colemak! :D

    I reached my previous QWERTY speed only a couple of days ago, but typing has been more comfortable (thanks to Colemak) for a lot longer. I hope to become more speedy and accurate in time, but so far I can't complain.

    Newest progress:
    - Just finished the 3 minute "Enchanted Typewriter" at typingtest.com at 73 (net) wpm, unfortunately at only 96% accuracy (76 gross wpm) - I really shouldn't hurry so much. ;)

    - New 75 wpm top speed at hi-games.net/typing-test (link to profile in signature)

    - keybr.com: Stats were reset recently, and I'm back to using the pseudo-English "Level 3" random texts. 51 exercises so far with 78 wpm average (92 wpm top speed; top score 2024; average score 1603).


    Day 368:

    After playing/practicing Guitar Hero III for about an hour and failing Metallica's "One" at the 99% mark on Hard (which is the best I ever did, before I usually failed one of the last solos at 93%) I was pretty psyched, so I decided to do some typing tests:

    - 3 minute "Enchanted Typewriter" at 75 net wpm (still only 96% accuracy; 78 gross wpm).

    - New 99 wpm top speed at keybr.com

    Last edited by boli (21-Aug-2008 22:00:53)
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    Wow, the total Colemak experience. Very inspiring.

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    boli said:

    According to a 3 minute test at typingtest.com ("enchanted typewriter") my net QWERTY speed was 72 wpm at 97% accuracy prior to switching.

    Just for fun I did this very test roughly 4.5 years after switching to Colemak, and I got 83 net wpm at 98% accuracy (84 gross wpm).

    I'm glad my speed and accuracy improved, but who's to say I couldn't have achieved that using QWERTY with similar amount of training? I'm still happy to have switched, because typing Colemak feels much more comfortable. :)

    Last edited by boli (20-Feb-2012 09:08:06)
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    Just did the same test again: 79 wpm (net/gross) at 99% accuracy.

    boli said:
    boli said:

    According to a 3 minute test at typingtest.com ("enchanted typewriter") my net QWERTY speed was 72 wpm at 97% accuracy prior to switching.

    Just for fun I did this very test roughly 4.5 years after switching to Colemak, and I got 83 net wpm at 98% accuracy (84 gross wpm).

    I'm glad my speed and accuracy improved, but who's to say I couldn't have achieved that using QWERTY with similar amount of training? I'm still happy to have switched, because typing Colemak feels much more comfortable. :)

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    Nice! I usually only manage 97–98% accuracy which slows me down. 99% would be a "perfect storm" for me.

    Last edited by DreymaR (24-Sep-2018 10:34:07)

    *** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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