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    Recent switcher and experiences

    • Started by tobiasbuckell
    • 7 Replies:
    • Reputation: 0
    • Registered: 26-Nov-2017
    • Posts: 4

    Hello fellow typing enthusiasts. My name is Tobias Buckell and I just switched over cold turkey to Colemak on 11/15/2017 after reading way too many threads here and doing some research. Prior to this I was a QWERTY typist. I learned how to touch type my sophomore year in college (Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing), which now means I have been using QWERTY for almost exactly 20 years.

    I make most of my living as an author, so this has been a huge hit to my productivity this last couple of weeks.

    I use a MacBook Pro but what triggered this journey was buying a Kinesis Advantage keyboard last month. I spend enough time at the keyboard every day that I was starting to get some gnarly wrist and hand pain over the last few years. I did have an MSFT ergo keyboard (the sculpt) but it wasn't enough, I was icing my hands after productive days. I broke down and got myself a Kinesis.

    Prior to that, I tested my typing speed on KeyHero and got a 75-80 range, with a peak of 83. Still using QWERTY I got the Kinesis and my speed dropped to 40 wpm. It took about a week to adjust and get my speed back up into the 70s. To my shock, in the second week, my speed rose into the high 80s and then crossed 100wpm as I started the third week. I was also doing this with a strong reduction in wrist pain.

    That's when I wondered if I might be able to find other ways to reduce wrist and hand pain further and started to research alternate keyboard layouts, and settled on Colemak mainly because it kept punctuation in place and  many shortcut keys in place.

    I switched cold turkey on the 15th and have been drilling with KeyHero and KeyBR, and I initially used typing cat to train up. Here is Keyhero's image:

    DPkRxwnX4AEJrvo.jpg

    The first few days were exciting because I was learning something new. I went from 10 wpm at the start to 20 wpm by day three in short order and felt quite shiny and clever. But it then took me four days to get from 20 to over 25. I underestimated how much typing was memorized combos and not just the letters. I kept trying to force the speed and would drop back and make a ton of mistakes. When tired or distracted my fingers would resort to QWERTY patterns.

    I also slowed down on day three because that is when I learned how to install the Colemak-DH variant. I began on Colemak standard. Hearing about DH is what gave me the confidence to go Colemak. But I was going to wait to make that switch for way down the road as DH wasn't in the OS-X key layout menu. I realized if I was going to make a switch I needed to just make it. I was also really hating the 'HE' bigram every time I hit it, and that alone had made me almost go Dvorak when doing my initial considering.

    At 24 wpm I had a moment of crisis because I could barely type out an email after a week of hard training every day and I had a lot of work ahead of me for December. I tried to type in QWERTY that day, couldn't. It was like an alien board. Then couldn't type in Colemak either. I felt panic, and for a few hours it felt like I'd broken my ability to use a keyboard at all! That was pretty terrifying.

    I decided to slow down and focus on accuracy and not on speed. Build the foundation and let the speed come later. In fact, what I realized I wanted wasn't speed, but the ability to think a word and let my fingers unthinkingly find the pattern. So that's what I have been focusing on since and the speed has kept inching up. Today started with a few KeyHero drills showing me at 34 wpm and last night while drilling I spiked over 40 a couple times. Here is a day by day speed chart:

    Picture1.png

    Things I am really enjoying: fast rolls for 'the' 'and' and anytime there is a 'tion' in a word.

    Things tripping me up: damn, that S key though. Typingcat or any tutor on moving to this layout should just spend the first day working on beating that out of you. The moment I speed up I hit R instead of S. Curiously, thanks to pattern memory, anything ST I hit fine. F is a bit dodgy as well. Because I am on the DH variant KN words do stand out a bit.

    Mostly I am trying to slow down and focus on accuracy, though, and then seeing where I go from there.

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    • Registered: 08-Oct-2017
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    Wow, you seem to get to grips with it rather fast. I've been going a lot slower myself. The kinesis always sounds so good, but I guess I'll never get around to getting it for myself :p switching to colemak CAW har really made my hands a lot happier. it's just so much more comfortable than contorting my hands the way that qwerty wants me to. And another good thing is that it makes my laptop keyboard feel less cramped :)

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    • From: UK
    • Registered: 14-Apr-2014
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    Thanks for posting your experience. It's good to get reports from authors who have switched, as alternative layout users seem to be disproportionately techies and programmers! The benefits of switching are probably greatest for people who spend most of their time writing text, especially if they use Colemak, thanks to its infrequent same-finger bigrams.

    Funny how learning the S depends on the circumstance: I also found ST became comfortable quickly, even though S generally took a lot longer. As you say, it shows just how much we learn to type in bigrams/trigrams rather than single letters. I'm also glad the improved HE bigram saved you from the potential extra pain of learning Dvorak!

    You seem to be making rapid progress for someone who only switched a few days ago. Keep up the good work :)

    Last edited by stevep99 (27-Nov-2017 14:42:19)

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

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    • From: Oslo, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
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    If you need productivity while switching, why didn't you try Tarmak instead? ;-)

    But congratulations on your speedy progress! And welcome to the wonderful world of Colemak!

    *** 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: 26-Nov-2017
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    It's a little late for that route :)

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    stevep99 said:

    I'm also glad the improved HE bigram saved you from the potential extra pain of learning Dvorak!

    Just thinking about dvorak makes my right pinky hurt :/

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    • Registered: 26-Nov-2017
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    Yeah, that's one of the reasons I shied away away from Dvorak.

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    • Registered: 26-Nov-2017
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    I am still struggling with the R and S keys. But I am slowly getting my speed up. I am finding that practice on keybr seems to give me the best gains. I can transcribe what I see on the screen at 45 words a minute now.

    I am however finding that I slow down a lot when I turn to typing thoughts straight from my head. My brain still associates this with QWERTY and gets tripped up, so I slow way down.

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