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    A Tarmak Colemak Story

    • Started by bolidely
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    • Registered: 07-Feb-2018
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    First, I want to heap praises and gratitude on DreyMar for the Tarmak progression and all the others who have contributed here. It's great!

    I came to Colemak by way of randomness. I discovered alternative keyboard layouts when I started googling "best keyboard" to find a good, ergonomic mechanical keyboard. A few clicks later, I'm finding out the QWERTY layout is a bad hangover that won't go away because the world is lazy. How exciting! I had to try it for no other reason than it's better and faster than the old way.

    1. What layout you've been using beforehand, and how long you've been typing with it.
    I've been a QWERTY user for 15 years since learning to touch type in grade school. Granted, my touch typing was never incredibly solid despite all the Mavis Beacon games I played. Probably broached an average typing speed of 60-70wpm.

    2. How long you've been using Colemak for, and how many estimated hours per week you've typed with it.
    I've been typing vanilla Colemak for about four months now. I type 40hrs/week for my day job and write at home quite a bit, 7-10hrs/week at a minimum. 

    3. Mention the methods you used to learn the layout.
    I decided to learn Colemak through Tarmak due to the benefits of gradual progression with minimalized loss of productivity. I needed to maintain a reasonable typing speed for my day job. Tarmak was perfect for this. I spent about four weeks on each level to maintain productivity at work. This was a surreptitious switch that my boss certainly didn't know about. Probably would not have viewed it in the best light, but they never found out, so hah.

    4. What operating system you're using.
    I use Mac at work and Windows at home.

    5. Typing speed.
    I'd switch to another level shortly after I regained a 30-40wpm typing speed. My job is particularly suited for this because it involves repetitive typing of common single words. Conversely, it has made broaching >50wpm a much slower crawl because of the limited vocabulary involved. So, I hovered at 50-55wpm for a few months on full Colemak with very slow progress in speed. Currently, I finally tested at 61wpm on http://patorjk.com/typing-speed-test/.

    6. Share any tips about learning the layout.
    The only difficult level was the final one before full Colemak. I actually spent a couple of months typing in this one because it was a much more difficult switch. Most likely because I'd decided to only spend one week on the level before it, so my mind was still committing that map to memory while also applying the new keys. I confused L and P pretty often for awhile. Tarmak worked really well for my situation. I had to be able to type quickly at work, so it was an easy choice. A couple keys at a time was just fine. Tips? It can be a bit of an annoyance to a SO if you share a computer and they're not exactly computer savvy. There were some frustrated growls when gibberish appeared instead of the expected keys. Plus a "Why are you doing this?" moment that was a bit exasperating. Too bad! Ctrl+Shft or Shft+Shft is quickly learnt!

    I also get delightfully incredulous looks when keyboard layouts come up in casual conversation. Not that they do, really, but it's a nice, obscure conversation topic, that's for sure. 


    Edits for format & additional info.

    Last edited by bolidely (07-Feb-2018 23:28:13)
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    That's a cool story, and it's one of the first ones that I have read that has used tarmak, I just did a cold turkey switch, and it was a couple of really hard days at work :) The next and last step for you now would be to change over to the curl mod, it's even more comfortable than the standard colemak, and I also really enjoy the wide modification, it's rivalling the curling as the best feature of my current layout (colemak-ed-caw) So if you aren't completely burned out in doing changes in your typing patterns that would be a nice next step :)

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    I do want to try the curl or wide mods soon, not sure which to start with, though. And it's that little bit of finagling for the mods on two different systems that I've been too sluggish to do yet :)

    I considered the cold turkey approach over a weekend, but I played it safe. I'm a fairly disposable pawn in the office machine.  How quickly did your typing speed get over 60wpm? I'm curious about the progress up toward super-fast speeds.

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    bolidely said:

    I do want to try the curl or wide mods soon, not sure which to start with, though. And it's that little bit of finagling for the mods on two different systems that I've been too sluggish to do yet :)

    I'd jump right to Dreymar's Colemak-ED-CAW<br> which gives you quite a lot, you get a wide and curl and angle mod (Is really nice on my ISO keyboards at least), and in edition you get the Extended extra level to your keyboard, with practical things, such as arrows on the home row, and some other nifty things, that I haven't really explored too much, it's pretty painless to use on Linux and windows at least, I haven't tried it on a mac, since I don't have the money for the machines.


    bolidely said:

    I considered the cold turkey approach over a weekend, but I played it safe. I'm a fairly disposable pawn in the office machine.  How quickly did your typing speed get over 60wpm? I'm curious about the progress up toward super-fast speeds.

    I used about two weeks to get from 27 WPM up to a more usable 50, then another couple of weeks to get it from there up to 60, there I've been Plateuing for a while, and I'm now after a month at 60 WPM I'm finally starting to move up closer to the 70s. But now the speed isn't that much of a block anymore, I'm mostly just enjoying that it's so comfortable to type, and then I'm building speed mostly for fun.

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    Thanks for the praise, and grats on your progress(ion)! ^_^

    Sotolf: There are some more transition stories in the Tarmak topic (or at least excerpts from them).

    I do suppose that the final levels of Tarmak are the hardest for many. The next-to-last one moves "the rest of the keys", which means that several rare keys move. My experience is that the most common keys are the easiest when transitioning, because they get trained a lot and they move to better positions. Some rare keys move to worse positions, and they're not encountered all that often, and these factors may cause trouble when learning them. But eventually it's smooth sailing again.

    As sotolf said, Colemak-CAW[eD]+Extend is the potion of choice. I like it a lot. Extend in particular, and you can learn it at your own pace from the first arrow keys to the more advanced combos as described in my "Extolling Extend" topic.

    I learnt [eD], Angle, Wide, Extend and Curl(DH) one at a time as they were invented (and then again as they were improved...!). But I suppose it shouldn't be too hard to do them all in one go. As I said, Extend (and [eD) can be learnt piecewise whenever you feel like it. And Wide is sort of transparent, not hard at all to get used to. But if you like, you could learn CurlAngle and Wide separately from each other. That'd be more in the Tarmak spirit. Of course, there's a Tarmak progression for learning Colemak Curl(DH) directly from QWERTY but it's too late for that now. :-)

    As for super-fast speeds, there are usually experienced only by people who were super-fast on other layouts as well. I think that most of your typing speed is a general skill/trait and not all that layout dependent, although of course it doesn't hurt to have a good layout. ;-) As for myself, I've typed Colemak for ten years now after trying out Dvorak for a couple of years. My old QWERTY speed was 50 WPM and my Dvorak speed around 60 WPM at its best iirc. With Colemak I'm now finally at a pretty consistent 65-70 WPM on difficult texts, but it's been a very slow progression. I'm hoping I'll hit 80 WPM consistently one day, but I don't think my head's able to get around higher speeds than that. I've only hit around 90 WPM max in one-minute tests.

    Your comment about laziness reminded me of my old Board Wars graphic:
    BoardWarsCrawl.jpg?dl=1

    Last edited by DreymaR (09-Feb-2018 11:53:52)

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

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