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    Need motivation to keep learning!

    • Started by noswedishrolls
    • 10 Replies:
    • Reputation: 0
    • Registered: 29-Nov-2018
    • Posts: 3

    Hi guys!

    Roughly two weeks ago I suddenly developed an almost fanatical interest in optimizing my keyboard layout. I first switched to programmer dvorak, training several hours a day to gain speed as quickly as possible (unemployed atm, lol). After 5 days or so, I realized more and more that the placement of 'f' and the loss of the useful shortcuts ctrl+z/x/c/v meant a lot to me, and it didn't make a whole lot of sense to learn a sub-optimal layout if I'm investing a butt-load of time and effort into it.

    Therefore, I swapped to colemak, which fixes the shortcomings mentioned above. I once again found an almost worrisome devotion (like, feeling giddy while riding public transport because I know that I'll be able to practice once I get home) to master this layout, mostly because it might make me type faster in the future and I'd like to stay away from RSI, being a programmer.

    Now, I'm 9 days into colemak and I average ~50 on typeracer, coming from ~65 with qwerty, but I am losing discipline when it comes to training and starting to doubt this whole project more and more. Basically, what am I really doing this for? These are my thoughts:

    • It seems to me that those who switch to colemak/dvorak and who previously were able to touch type on qwerty don't actually end up being faster (and if the increase is negligible, I'm willing to chalk it up to the hours of practice going into typeracer).

    • I have not seen any actual research that supports the claim that the risk of developing RSI decreases.

    • I use linux at home which makes it easy to switch to colemak, but I will probably start working at a job with windows. This means that I would have to download the new layout and install it. And whenever I need to use someone else's computer, I will be lost. Sure, I might retain most of my full qwerty speed while developing colemak (not currently the case, though), but having to switch between the two often is a drawback.

    • And the case that colemak is supposed to be so much more comfortable, I'm not so sure that I agree with that. Going back and forth between the two layouts give me the feeling that qwerty ain't all that bad, compared to a near-optimal layout.

    • I'm gonna start using vim more and more in my work, and the placement of hjkl is just better in qwerty.

    • Maybe I just want to be a hipster and do something differently? Which is definitely the case in many other aspects of my life.

    All in all, why am I actually learning this new keyboard layout? I don't know how to justify the transition to myself anymore, now that my initial hype is over. I don't find the usual arguments convincing and I realize more and more that the rest of the world is built around qwerty which makes switching that much more inconvenient.

    I guess I am looking for some outside motivation :) I mean, it still is a superior layout imo, but I don't know if it's good enough to warrant the switch.

    Thanks in advance

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    • From: UK
    • Registered: 14-Apr-2014
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    Congratulations of starting your Colemak journey. Sounds like you have experienced wild oscillations in your thinking in quite a short space of time. The decision to switch is a significant one, and you are bound to have some impatience in wanting to see rapid results. But it's critical to think long term - learning a new layout is more like a marathon than a sprint.

    You have to plan for the switch knowing it will take time, and acknowledge that will be sometimes frustrating and painful. Keep your eye on the prize: you are learning a new life skill - something that will benefit you for the rest of your life. Nine days is certainly not long enough to make a good decision. If you're still not happy after a couple of months, then rethink. But I am confident if you persist for that long, your new muscle memory will click in, and your typing will start to feel natural and comfortable, and you'll be so glad you stuck with it.

    noswedishrolls said:

    It seems to me that those who switch to colemak/dvorak and who previously were able to touch type on qwerty don't actually end up being faster

    I don't think this is true: most people get a little faster, I certainly did, but mainly because my Qwerty technique was pretty poor. But in any case - and I can't stress this enough - the main benefit is comfort, not speed.

    noswedishrolls said:

    I have not seen any actual research that supports the claim that the risk of developing RSI decreases.

    There's a lack of research in this area in general. But common sense should tell you if your hands are more comfortable and less strained, the risk of RSI will be reduced. Other factors are also in play also, such as your typing technique. Use a good quality keyboard and/or angle-mod style typing for maximum benefit.

    noswedishrolls said:

    This means that I would have to download the new layout and install it.

    Not necessarily, you could carry it around on a USB stick or keep it on a cloud service. There are PKL and AHK implementation that don't require installation. And there are also programmable keyboards and USB remappers. There are plenty of solutions available.

    noswedishrolls said:

    And the case that colemak is supposed to be so much more comfortable, I'm not so sure that I agree with that.

    Keep going for a couple of months, if you are still saying that, then I'll eat my hat, and then I'll go an buy and new hat and eat that one as well.

    noswedishrolls said:

    I'm gonna start using vim more and more in my work, and the placement of hjkl is just better in qwerty.

    Some Colemak users use alternative mappings for vim, there are good solutions for this too. But by far the best solution is to use an Extend layer instead. Even if you (foolishly) revert to Qwerty, you should still use Extend or something like it.

    noswedishrolls said:

    Maybe I just want to be a hipster and do something differently? Which is definitely the case in many other aspects of my life.

    Only you can answer that one. My advice is to forget whether or not it's being a hipster, and think about whether you want to gain a worthwhile new skill that will benefit you for years to come.

    Last edited by stevep99 (02-Dec-2018 15:32:59)

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

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    stevep99 said:

    The decision to switch is a significant one, and you are bound to have some impatience in wanting to see rapid results. But it's critical to think long term - learning a new layout is more like a marathon than a sprint.

    Yeah, this is very true. I tend to be super impatient, in general hehe. When I started realizing more and more that it will be a convenience in some areas - typing on my own computer - and a non-negligible inconvenience in others - colemak not existing on windows machines, aiways typing slowly on public keyboards - I got cold feet.
    But I am taking your words to heart! Especially the parts about giving it more time and the solution of using a USB stick to carry the "keyboard" around with me. I'm a bit afraid of standing out as "that guy who insists on being so anal about his keyboard", but then again, I'm doing this for me and not anyone else. Also, if it's something that I enjoy, then I should do it regardless of it being a slight inconvenience :)

    I've had two days off from practicing colemak, but now I feel a bit more optimistic again. Will try the pkl on a windows machine tomorrow and see if it feels like a quick and easy solution :)

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    • From: Oslo, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
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    Try PKL_eD. If you aren't ready to switch layout yet, just try Extend. It's great, and a life hack with a much lower investment barrier than a layout switch. Read about it in the Big Bag.

    Consider whether Tarmak might be an idea. Breaking the investment up into smaller bits makes it easier to go through with, and can become like a sort of minigame. But the biggest return will still be the final Colemak layout, so in terms of bang-for-buck that's where the pot of gold lies.

    Last edited by DreymaR (03-Dec-2018 16:03:28)

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

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    • From: Chicago
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    I'm not sure about your motivations, but I'm using Colemak to satisfy my inner perfectionist. Qwerty is not optimal, I knew that for quite long time, but at that time I did not know how to get rid of qwerty. Colemak is probably not the best of the bests layout either, but qwerty sucks in each and every aspect compared to optimized layouts (except one - prevalence :) ).

    There are not much research in the area because, again, this is a qwerty world, if some researches exist, they are based on qwerty.

    For how long you use your own keyboard or laptop and for how long you use somebody's else or public one? For me the percentage is truly 99% to 1%. Should I learn and use something that I use 1% of my time behind the keyboard?

    To leave all the problems with downloading and installing layout, as well as get freedom to experiment with your own keys placement that better works for you personally, I would recommend to use programmable keyboard. USB remapper essentially gives the same result. You will never need to worry about installing your layout at that guy computer.

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    ckofy said:

    Colemak is probably not the best of the bests layout either

    Which layout is "the best of the best" will be a matter of definitions. At some point of perfection I guess the best for every typist will be an individual layout, cleverly designed to match your typing needs. But then again, what if they change over time...?

    Above a certain level of goodness, it seems to me that the possibility for large improvement dwindles. But there are still differences between the optimized layouts, and you should find one that has a sound design philosophy and performs well at things you care about. Dvorak doesn't do quite as well as Colemak in many tests and at a much higher price for those who care about keys moved from QWERTY positions (which some don't and some do – I do!). Workman fixes a problem but creates others and I wouldn't use a layout with a high same-finger bigram rate when I can choose Colemak-DH instead and fix the problem but keep the goodness!

    Then there is the matter of support and implementation. Some are perfectly happy to hack up a solution for themselves with QMK or AHK or XKB or whatnot. Others not so much; the majority probably wants a premade solution that needs as little tweaking as possible to just start working for them. Colemak comes with several such solutions that also have other benefits like locale variants for many languages, extensive dead key tables, Extend layers, powerstring tables etc...

    For some, learning tools are important too. PKL/PKL_eD has help images and Colemak has Tarmak transitional layouts and some lessons that may tip the balances for some.

    For some, a community is important. I feel like Colemak has the most vibrant user community, but I may be wrong since that's what I encounter and I notice that Dvorak is still bigger in volume. Obviously, a fun and helpful community can't be everything but there's something to be said for not walking alone. Someone to encourage you and cheer you on, to answer questions and share tips is valuable to many, including myself.

    There are many things to consider and many different needs and preferences. In my view, Colemak may very well be the best of the best for my preference set. ;-)

    Last edited by DreymaR (04-Dec-2018 09:26:30)

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

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    ckofy said:

    I'm not sure about your motivations, but I'm using Colemak to satisfy my inner perfectionist. Qwerty is not optimal, I knew that for quite long time, but at that time I did not know how to get rid of qwerty. Colemak is probably not the best of the bests layout either, but qwerty sucks in each and every aspect compared to optimized layouts (except one - prevalence :) ).

    Yeah, that was a major motivation for me, to have a feeling of having optimised some part of my life hehe. The thing is though, that I'm Swedish and thus write about 50/50 English and Swedish. Colemak may be optimised for English but it isn't for other languages. Also, having to reach for altgr whenever I need to type åäö which are three frequent letters in my language is not optimal.

    My plan was to learn a new keyboard layout to type English with and stick with the Swedish qwerty layout for Swedish texts. But I'd like to be able to use the same layout for everything of course... So my new plan is to maybe create an optimal bilingual layout that is at least better than qwerty for both of these two languages. I see that this has been done very rigorously for German+English at adnw.de, but I can't find it for my two languages :)

    So, for now I've left colemak behind and I'm looking forward to make something better for me. Will be sure to update with results if and when I have some results.

    Thanks for all input, guys :)

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    Du får ta och läsa mitt Locale topic, då. I have a good suggestion for Swedish; i know this since I use its Norwegian sibling. I type so much English that I have the ÆØÅ on AltGr but you can have the brackets there instead as suggested.

    Unless you really type a lot of Swedish, I wouldn't bother making a new layout. I'm quite happy to type Norwegian with Colemak and it saves a lot of hassle. If you do type a whole lot of Swedish then go ahead I guess.

    We've done a lot of analysis and Colemak is quite decent for most European languages. There are a few minor quirks, but it works well enough for me as mentioned.

    Last edited by DreymaR (06-Dec-2018 14:32:43)

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

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    noswedishrolls said:

    Colemak may be optimised for English but it isn't for other languages. Also, having to reach for altgr whenever I need to type åäö which are three frequent letters in my language is not optimal.

    Although Colemak is optimized for English, my understanding is it's still a lot better than Qwerty for pretty much all latin-script languages. Most European languages have similar sets of most frequent letters after all. The main issue is there are certain problematic bigrams that crop up in some languages. My knowledge of Swedish is limited to watching subtitled episodes of The Bridge, but I would still expect you should be better with Colemak, and make any minor adjustments/workarounds as necessary.

    AltGr is very comfortable as a thumb key - especially if you use a "Wide" layout or nice keyboard - so I there wouldn't expect that to be a problem. I use AltGr as an extra shift key, and use it all the time for capital letters. It's very comfortable.

    Last edited by stevep99 (06-Dec-2018 15:04:26)

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

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    I find AltGr comfy enough and as mentioned I use it for the æøå letters, but it's still better to use my Locale variant for Swedish with a (Curl)AngleWide setup. Then the äöå letters will be immediately accessible, albeit in not in prime positions – but quite in line with their frequencies.

    Last edited by DreymaR (06-Dec-2018 16:05:33)

    *** 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 used to jump between machines, worked in an office that used Apple's OS and another with Windows.  At home Linux.  So ended up choosing Dvorak as it has wider support.  But back then Colemak wasn't an option in OSX and is now.  There are small annoyances on Windows when switching layout.   And it can be a bit of an inconvenience.  I don't bother telling people unless I have to program at their workstation, at which point I'll switch layout.  And switch back after I'm done.

    But in terms of optimising my programming, my keyboard layout is a small part of it.  Touch typing certainly helps.  But if you are after optimisations, there's probably better areas to focus.  Keyboard layers take my fancy, but anything non-standard is a pain for me.  A programmable keyboard with some degree of autonomy could help.

    It did slip out down the pub, and a well respected programmer laughed all the alternative layouts off as junk.  Which appears to be the mindset for many.  Only those that have switched are likely to be supportive.  My partner said I wasted months learning a new layout.  But actually at the time I was crippled with RSI and I was hoping touch typing would be a way out for me.  And I'd read it easier to switch straight to Dvorak for a beginner (I'd been using Qwerty for years, so much of it was still baked in my brain somewhere).  However frustrating it felt at the time it's nice years after not really worrying about it.  I never did totally polish practice on the number row.  I found touch typing very uncomfortable to begin with compared with hunt and peck, which felt far more open.  But some RSI lifted from the shoulder and neck to strain in the hands.  And the latter evaporated in time as I got more and more used to the layout.  I still find I get pain from heavy key presses.  And chording - like shifting.  Sticky keys could help me there.

    I picked up a cheap google assistant speaker.  And have been pretty wowed by the voice recognition.  I'm still hopeful the keyboard will fade away into complete obscurity.  I thought it would be well and truly gone by now when I started to learn to touch type.  But it's still hanging on in there, like Qwerty.

    Or rather, in short, I certainly had doubts!  Go down the rabbit hole so far, and there's no escape.

    Last edited by pinkyache (06-Dec-2018 16:40:58)

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