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    Tarmak progress

    • Started by colemux
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    I've been learning for 2 weeks and 2 days, and I've just I switched to stage 3 of Tarmak.  I'm coming from 20+ years of QWERTY, I've got over 100 wpm on typeracer in the past.

    I tried Colemak years ago; I got to R and S in the Colemak lessons I was following, got too frustrated, and gave up.  Before, learning Colemak was a slog.  Now it's a game.  I got to level 3 today!

    Edit: here's some more about my situation for anybody reading this trying to assess what commitment it might be for them.

    I'm sure you can approach direct-to-Colemak in the same way, but approaches that way don't give you the reward of letting you type real text fluently every few days, with a nicer layout every time.

    So I think I've learned two things since then:

    1. 30 minutes a day is plenty to make rapid progress and in fact is very efficient -- no need to knock myself out with longer than that per day or force myself to do real work with it until I'm quite familiar with the layout already.

    2. Incremental reward is important.  Everybody knows that, but I think it's hard to take sufficiently seriously.  I think that leads people to concentrate on the problem Tarmak introduces of relearning key sequences, and not about the reward Tarmak provides of being able to type real text fluently every few days, with a better layout each time, both of which are not to be sneezed at.  Learning Colemak in one step before, I *was* getting the "incremental" part by restricting myself to a few keys at a time, but not the same "reward" part as being able to type any text I feel like, nor of regularly getting a new better layout.

    I think there's a survivorship bias in the Colemak community.  If you're here and you're not learning still, that's because you were sufficiently highly motivated or skilled to make it to the end.  People who were not are by and large not here posting, and I expect there are many more of those than there are here.  If those people had more incremental reward, I suspect more would make it to the end.  In fact the 30 minutes/day thing is more of the same, I think: it makes progress fairly painless and incremental.

    Of course there *is* another barrier there that Tarmak adds (apart from re-learning key sequences -- bigrams etc.), which is getting the Tarmak layouts working.  The reason I found that part easy was just that I was already very familiar with flashing my keyboard's firmware, because I started using an ergodox.  Of course there are software routes, but they're a bit of a pain, I find: room for improvement there (I wonder if debian/ubuntu are open to contributions to package them up...).

    Anyway, of course I still have a long way to go and have not really conquered even R and S yet (but E and G etc. are solid), so it's a bit soon to be proclaiming my success and great wisdom ;-)

    Last edited by colemux (09-Dec-2019 22:44:39)
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    R and S are going amazingly well!  I'm still slow, but it feels natural and I'm relatively rarely getting them mixed up (I get S wrong more than R -- I type an R instead of an S -- I guess everybody finds that?).

    I probably shouldn't be, but I'm surprised how painless it is to "code switch" between the two layouts.  Ironically I was typing this fine with QWERTY until I typed that last sentence, and then I suddenly got a whole string of Ks instead of Es because I started thinking about it.

    Now that I've got through my sticking point from last time, I feel it's inevitable that I'll make it to the end this time :-))

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    Hooray!  ♪~╰(*°▽°*)╯~♪

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

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    Tarmak4 here we come!  Just did my first stage 4 practice session.  Funnily enough Amphetype was at the time still prompting me to practice "below" from my last Tarmak3 practice session -- on Tarmak4 that actually became instantly much easier to type.

    "RSD" from Tarmak3 is still not really solid, but it's a lot better than it was.  I've been on that stage 10 days, and I think that's enough.  I can't give a proper speed count because I've not really been testing myself properly, preferring to spend the time concentrating on learning.  I tend to still be making a few mistakes on every new little text snippet that Amphetype gives me -- once I've practiced on a particular text (on Tarmak3) I can get to around 50 wpm if I'm doing well by the time I get through it at 99% accuracy.

    Since this is the last intermediate step and I'm through the worst of what I suspect is the most painful part for me (R and S), I'm tempted to just jump straight to Colemak proper at this point by moving L, U and I also.  I think I'll stick with Tarmak4 for a few days at least though, on the theory that good learning of physical tasks (and others) does seem to involve learning one thing before moving on to the next.  I think after I'm on Colemak proper there'll be another, extended, phase of the same thing at a higher level: going back to concentrating on particular letters / sequences / words and doing some deliberate practice there, before going on to the next set of problematic letters / sequences / words.

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    I think it's natural get impatient to complete the transition. I spent quite a while on Tarmak2, then struggled with R/S in Tarmak3. Even though it wasn't fully trained in, I couldn't resist skipping Tarmak4 and going direct to full Colemak. and consequently was quite slow for a few weeks even. So at least you're maintaining more discipline than I did!

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

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    New slogan: It's a lot better to struggle with RSD than with RSI!  (b ̄◇ ̄)b

    Last edited by DreymaR (20-Sep-2019 13:24:12)

    *** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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    I've been practicing before in Amphetype on common words, and I realized this morning that for that part, when you get to Tarmak4, it's very easy to stick to "pure Colemak" (which of course is what you'd be doing if you were going the "pure Colemak" route).  That's nice, because I feel like I've arrived at Colemak, even though I kind of haven't yet, so I don't feel the need to skip ahead.  I like to mix word practice in with "real text" (with arbitrary letters) -- I found that very motivating, which is why I've been going the Tarmak route.  For that reason I'm not sure even if I'd thought more about this earlier that I'd personally have stuck to "Tarmak-staged pure Colemak" even when practicing on common words: that likely would have slowed my typing on real text, which wouldn't maximise motivation.

    However, even for those happy to stick to pure Colemak, I think Tarmak is a nice route for that too -- just take each Tarmak level in turn and pick only words that are "pure Colemak" to practice with (pure Colemak in the sense that they don't include any keys that are not in their Colemak positions in TarmakN -- e.g. for Tarmak4, no L, U or I).  Even Tarmak1 and Tarmak2, which are marginal for this purpose on common words (only 55 and 154 words respectively in the top 10000 english word file I downloaded; 114 for Tarmak2 if you want "pure Tarmak2" -- i.e. only words with letters introduced exactly at that level -- i.e. no N, E, or K) are fine if you expand it to all English words, and Tarmak3 and Tarmak4 have plenty common words (914 "pure Tarmak3" and 1516 "pure Tarmak4" from same same top 10000).

    Here are 105 common pure-Colemak pure-Tarmak4 words, presented in random order (note "pure" is used in two slightly different senses there):

    who on keep past part other paragraph of every day work do move year hot show power from before very open map james deep down japanese drop one copy carry over john no java project space shape appear ready they come happy jan projects joy now kept way two job some does press try speak japan many pattern port major go paper for object stop know to or jobs represent form type why perhaps say hope boy my person off present page pass home happen step word eye body jack more too top enjoy story most how good so pose by prove may any jersey

    Last edited by colemux (21-Sep-2019 12:12:06)
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    Tip: To post lists I often use code [] tags, or maybe spoiler tags. That way it's easy to see what the list is and copy it. :-)

    This is a list of words in tags okay so it's a short and really sucky list but at least it's in tags isn't it so shut up and get the hell outta here why are you critizing me stop that at once
    Spoiler:

    This is a list of words in tags okay so it's a short and really sucky list but at least it's in tags isn't it so shut up and get the hell outta here why are you critizing me stop that at once

    It's nice and good fun that you're doing this!

    Last edited by DreymaR (21-Sep-2019 20:38:54)

    *** 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 switched to Tarmak5, i.e. Colemak practice today.  First day so still at the massive speed hit and huge number of mistakes stage.  I'm not sure how long it will take me to get to my target of 65 wpm, or whether I'll stick with Colemak when I get there, but still, today is a big milestone towards getting there -- thanks DreymaR, without your efforts I would very likely have not got this far.

    Favourite word today: "would" :)

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    65 WPM is a nice target. That's what I went for back then. But now I type closer to 75 WPM on Colemak-ⲔⲰ[eD] and it's sooo smooth and nice. Best of luck with the last leg of your Colemak journey! And thanks for the praise, much appreciated.

    Would, could, should... did!  ♪♫ (*ノ・◡・)ノ ♫♩ ┏(・o・*)┛ ♫♪

    Last edited by DreymaR (28-Sep-2019 11:50:13)

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

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    Today I felt for the first time that I can really type in Colemak.  I'm still *very* slow on my 100% accuracy runs (20 or 30 wpm), mostly because I hit words that still make me *think* rather than just type if I want to get good accuracy -- but today it just felt like something clicked, and I'm suddenly actually typing rather than hunting and pecking.  This attempt with Tarmak has been 40 sessions over about 2 months to this point -- which includes a week's break last week -- mostly around 30 minutes per session (I didn't time them though).
    Feeling very positive about carrying on with the practice until I get a decent speed going!

    Last edited by colemux (15-Oct-2019 00:33:18)
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    I've been trying typeracer.com recently, and I got 50 wpm there today (after maybe 10 attempts today!).  In Amphetype after a bunch of attempts at a sample of text I'll usually get it to 99% accuracy, and I'll be on between 40 and 70wpm for the sample by then.  Fairly often I can now hit 99% on a text sample after 1 or 2 attempts, if I take it slowly (but without falling back to consciously thinking much about key positions).  Slow but steady progress.

    I'm still training only in about 30 minute sessions rather than "real" use, roughly 2 days out of three at the moment.  Mostly training on a top 300 words file and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (came with Amphetype I think!).

    R and S are still by far my most common error. I mix up I and E a fair amount also.

    It's fascinating how particular phrases will 100% reliably trip me up the first time they pop up in Amphetype.  Today for example, I found myself entirely unable to fluently type:

    of a slim

    Either I had to type it very slowly, or I'd get the same set of errors -- of a tlim, of a sulm, of a tulm, of a shum -- every single time.  Whereas "of" by itself is no problem at all, and I could reliably type this until the cows come home:

    a slim

    WHY?  Either there's an explanation out there already, or there's a neuroscience research paper in it for somebody.

    Edit: PS. it's the "f" in "of" that does it: "f a slim" was just as hard for me!

    Last edited by colemux (05-Nov-2019 22:16:00)
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    There are some interesting trip-ups. I've had my share I think, although I can't think of any right now.

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

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    Thinking about it, I suspect the explanation for my typing error puzzle, as far as the "u"s go anyway, is that your brain naturally mirrors actions between left and right -- for example typing a "u" and an "f" both involve the same finger (If anybody here hasn't tried a one-handed mirrored layout -- you owe it to yourself to try it, just for the weird sensation it induces that you've learned something "by magic").  So just after typing an "f", there needs to be an active suppression of the other hand to *prevent* it from hitting the corresponding key on that side, which I haven't properly learned yet.
    Perhaps the "t" errors there are also explained by the need for suppression of actions: maybe having just typed an "f" I need to actively get that finger out of the way to stop it typing the same key again.  If that sometimes ends up not getting that finger back down to the home row, but preventing it from hitting any key at all, I might get a "t" instead of an "s"?  Doesn't seem quite as convincing as the previous explanation, but maybe there's something in it anyway.
    Regardless, I think a clear lesson here is that when you make a mistake, one valuable thing you can do is to repeat not just the last thing you typed, but the last few words.  When I do that I'll often find myself making the same mistake over and over again, which I think means I'm learning something!

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    Mirroring is a very interesting topic! Have you read about my Mirrored Colemak in the BigBag? It's amazing how efficient it is with hardly any need for relearning.

    Finger codependence is real too. The worst example is the ring fingers. There's not much you can do with your ring fingers without moving at least the pinkies.

    Last edited by DreymaR (12-Nov-2019 12:14:39)

    *** 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 guess I should master ordinary Colemak first before trying to learn mirrored Colemak!

    Very frustrated recently at two things:

    1. Stubborn errors.  The usual suspects: R and S, I and E, but many other mistakes also.  Takes huge concentration to avoid these.
    2. Despite clearly improving slowly on Amphetype, realising just how very slow I am on unseen text still!  If I try on typeracer for example, I usually get around 30 wpm.  20 if I'm doing really badly, 35 if I'm doing well.  Top speed ever there is 50.  Plus, no speed increase there whatsoever in 10 days.

    :-((

    Somebody give me some encouragement, please!  Have other people had similar experiences?

    I can feel myself speed up and slow down on familiar words, so I suppose I need to do a lot more hard practice on high frequency words.

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    Actually I think it's not only that my speed on arbitrary text is slow, it's also that there's something about typeracer that really puts me off my stride if I'm not on top form.  I'm not sure what it is exactly -- maybe in part just the extra stress of racing, maybe also the way it displays what you've typed?

    I just tried switching back to QWERTY (I spend most of my time typing in QWERTY still) and on typeracer I was thoroughly confused because of the interference of columak with QWERTY, and unable to go any faster than colemak on average.  Immediately on switching back to a plain old text editor, I regained most of my old speed.  Back to typeracer, immediate confusion again.  I feel something of the same thing is happening with my colemak sessions on typeracer.

    What other tools do people use for measuring typing speed?

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    I've realised I just need to start paying attention to my Amphetype first-run scores on "Heart of Darkness" on a given text.  Going on today's 20 minute practice, that's probably somewhere around 40 wpm on average, not 30 (maybe 45 in fact?).  So that makes me feel better.

    The other day I got 99wpm (on QWERTY!) on typeracer.com after letting my frustration and Colemak-induced confusion seep away, as compared with 20 or 30 the previous day (also on QWERTY!).  So:

    1. I'm glad I'm definitely not losing any of my QWERTY mojo despite fairly steady Colemak improvement

    2. I think a lot of it really is that both my Colemak skills -- and some days, my post-Colemak practice QWERTY skills -- aren't yet up to the stress of competition, no matter that it's totally consequence-free!  So I'll just stick to Amphetype for now.

    I wonder if there's a way to see stats on your first attempts on texts in Amphetype?

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    To smooth out your R/S and E/I troubles, my suggestions would be: Mileage, for instance typing texts with Amphetype. And make sure you don't speed when typing them. Keep your pace to a level where you don't make a lot of mistakes most of the time, because they may mess with your learning. To make sure I do it right I sometimes Ctrl+Back (or rather, Ext+T+O) and retype the whole word. That way I believe I'll counteract the negative effect of the error I made.

    In Amphetype, have you checked the setting "Show last results..."? I see results after every lesson.

    Last edited by DreymaR (18-Nov-2019 09:26:46)

    *** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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    In Amphetype I can always see the speed for the last run, so I pay attention to that when that last run wpm was for my first attempt at a given text, but I don't see statistics over multiple first runs?  For example, I don't see a mean or variance of first run speeds, nor a moving average chart of first run speeds.

    I've noticed the past week that my R/S E/I confusions are definitely reducing.  As you suggest, I've been mostly doing book extracts rather than common word practice, to be honest mostly to reassure myself that yes I really have learned how to type arbitrary text and get reasonable speeds on my first run on that piece of text (around 40wpm -- big range though, up to 60s and down to 20s -- though the 20s tend to be when I decide hell no, even though this is an Amphetype "text" not an Amphetype "lesson", I'm going to type that word until it flows).

    I think I usually don't retype just part of a word, for just the reason you mention: I most often delete at least that word, often multiple words.  I try to do practice both where I try to get a particular sticky word to flow nicely, and also slow and steady runs where I go for accuracy.  The things I try when practicing for flow on a particular word are -- not all at the same time, I alternate when trying to learn a word, often in roughly this order, but I go back and forth:

    * Push the speed to the max on the word, in order to get the whole word out without my conscious mind having to intervene, or in order to get over sticky points
    * Type just the first few letters of a word (and repeat a lot), then a few more letters (and keep repeating), until they get smoother
    * Try the same but starting near the end of the word, or in the middle, or both
    * Once I can type a small part of the word fluently, practice with a few more letters of the word -- or type the middle flowing on to the end of the word all together -- keep going until the whole word is smoother
    * Once I can successfully type it without thinking, type the same word again and again a lot
    * Type a pair of words or a phrase again and again (e.g. if I have two words I'm sticky on, I'll practice typing them alternating -- foo bar foo bar foo bar -- and that'll often trip me up usefully -- or Amphetype will turn up a pair of words that I find hard to type despite the individual words being easy on their own)

    Interested to hear of similar things other people do.

    Last edited by colemux (09-Dec-2019 22:34:22)
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    I'm now using this in Amphetype: Performance -> Show "9999" items from "<ALL Texts>" and group by "sitting".  That's not first runs on unseen text so it's optimistic, but it's better than just looking at the last run number every time.  Actually maybe not optimistic by much compared with "real world", because I do somewhat often repeat whole words, or multiple words, multiple times even on "texts", when I hit a sticky word.  On the other hand, I have to concentrate much more than I do in real world QWERTY typing.

    According to that (and averaging by eye), I'm currently at 45 wpm.

    I don't see a time scale on the chart, but guessing dates, I think I'm progressing not much faster than 1/4 of a wpm per day (again, still with essentially 100% practice sessions of between 15 to 30 mins per day around 5 days out of 7, no "real" typing).  At that rate, that's another 80 days to reach my 65wpm target.  It's 3.5 months since I started, so by that yardstick more than half way -- but I think I now see that the real measure for when I'm likely to start using it for work is going to be not speed but rather when it starts to require less concentration to maintain good accuracy.  I guess the two are causally related though!

    Last edited by colemux (09-Dec-2019 22:39:26)
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