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    experiences with colemak-mod-dh

    • Started by buco
    • 6 Replies:
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    • Registered: 13-Jun-2021
    • Posts: 4

    So here I am. For more than 20 years I've been using azerty properly touch typing which I learned when I was a kid. The past five years I switched to qwerty because my work (I'm a SysAdmin) gave me a qwerty laptop. I don't remember exactly why but I got interested in ortholinear keyboards a few weeks ago and found a second hand Drop Planck v6 - which is my first mechanical keyboard. I didn't really have an issue with qwerty. I think I liked it better than azerty because the numbers in azerty need shift.

    In my first few moments with the Planck, I noticed the ortholinear layout fixed a problem I had: reliably hitting numbers. That was good. Reading more about the subject online, I also stumbled upon Colemak. Because of my OLKB, I decided to settle on Colemak-dhm. Lucky for me in the default layout, there is a colemak layer preprogrammed on my keyboard. I modded that layer according to mod-dh.

    So basically I went from: "there is no problem with staggered qwerty", to "I informed myself multiple problems and I'm not sure if I want to fix them" (ignorance is bliss :lol: ).

    But anyway, here are my experiences with colemak:

    To be frank, the first week on colemak was mostly miserable. On day one I created an account on typing.com and I learned the location of all the letters. I kept qwerty on the keycaps so cheating/looking at the keyboard is useless. I didn't do that anyway with qwerty but with a new layout, ... I didn't want to start out with bad habits.

    My speed dropped from ~80wpm/ ~97%accuracy, to a mere 10wpm at best when typing text displayed on the screen. For some weird reason it slowed down even further when I want to write text myself. When I need to type something quickly, raise-lower-j takes me back to qwerty and raise-lower-k brings me back to Colemak-dhm when I can slow down again.

    But that in itself also creates problems. On day 3 or so I was on a conf call with VMware to fix something in our infrastructure. I had to log in to an ESXi host and managed to lock myself out of it for 15 minutes because the password that is engraved in my muscle memory, did no longer come out (correctly). Even switching back to qwerty during the call didn't go very well. I guess for obvious reasons and perhaps because I was also stressed out a bit not being able to gain access.

    Now I'm on day 6 and my speed has improved from 10wpm to max 20-24wpm. If I look at my account at typing.com, I see that I spent almost 500 minutes typing colemak with an average accuracy at 97%. I think that's a lot of effort only to get at 24wpm coming from 80wpm in qwerty. I sort of expected that but at times it is hard to hang in there. I hope that by keeping at it the coming weeks, my speed will become to a level which is acceptable to work with or at the very least not constantly frustratingly slow. Apart from the speed, I'm still mixing up mostly R, S, I, P, L and O. From now on, I'm trying to switch back to qwerty as little as possible. Only perhaps on chat and certainly for typing passwords, which is still very difficult.

    To end this post on a positive note, I do notice the benefits of Colemak, even at this slow speeds. I can mostly keep my arms, wrists in one place. There's much less movement needed. I now notice that my fingers used to be all over the place. No longer so.  That is encouraging!

    So let's hope I can come back shortly with some progress.

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    • From: Viken, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
    • Posts: 5,125

    Welcome to the wonderful world of Colemak!  ∩(◕‿◕。)∩~♪

    Passwords can be tricky, that's true. I tend to choose passwords that are mostly compatible with both QWERTY and Colemak-CAWS. I hope any potential hackers don't read this, lol.  (ʘ言ʘ╬)

    If you're interested in delving deeper and learning more useful tricks, check out my BigBag. In particular, consider learning Extend as that's the most useful addition I know of.

    https://dreymar.colemak.org

    *** 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: 13-Jun-2021
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    Hi Dreymar, thanks, for the warm welcome. I'll be checking your suggestions out when I'm a bit more comfortable with Colemak. It's a LOT to take in already.


    This week I decided it was time to take the plunge, no more qwerty unless maybe passwords. Monday and Tuesday were really bad days for typing. I did not sleep very well and that I could notice on my typing speed. It even fell back and my accuracy also dropped. On Wednesday, it got better again. Even without doing a test, I noticed I really sped up. I got even a new record of 36wpm So apparently I'm still evolving (I dearly hope so :) )

    Thursday again was a bit better. I practiced for more than one and an half hour and typed all day in colemak. I've also more put the focus on accuracy. Just slow down and type as much correctly as possible and you know what? A new personal colemak best: 39wpm! :). I'm now at a total 12 hours and 46 minutes of dedicated training time. This is work hours not included.
    One thing I still notice is that when I chat with my colleagues, I'm much much slower and accuracy plummets as well. I think it's because my brain processes copying text differently than producing it. Also switching back to qwerty is getting more and more difficult. I'm clearly building colemak muscle memory.

    I've got to say, it's really exhausting and taking a lot of brain power still. I hope and expect that to get better and better as I practice more.

    Yesterday I didn't type a single character for the first time since starting to learn colemak, but today I'm back in business.

    For the first time (day 13) and 14 hours of practice (excluding everything I typed outside typing.com) I start to get a feeling that it could work out after all. Maybe I reached the tipping point where I just don't want to go back anymore. Typing text in a chat is noticably faster and showing some flashes of feeling natural. Sometimes, typing does no longer require a ton of brainpower. I'm still nowhere near where I was but at least the frustrating feeling is slowly fading away. I'm now hovering around 35-40wpm on tests ranging from 5 minutes to typing three pages. Accuracy is down a bit to ~95% but it'll get back up when I'm more comfortable typing at this speed. I also switched fifty-fifty to colemak for typing passwords. Luckily I still have my laptop keyboard to help me out in times of trouble.

    Today also a colleague of mine was looking on my screen while I was typing and boy, typing got so bad again :)

    So this marks the last day of the second week. Tomorrow I'll enter week no 3.

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    • From: Viken, Norway
    • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
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    (b ̄◇ ̄)b

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

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    So week 3.

    Finally it's starting to become a bit more comfortable now. I still have a lot of typos when I write text myself but it's becoming more and more natural. I can also slowly type passwords which most of the time are first time right. My speed is still increasing on the online tests I take. My new personal best is 57wpm but that was just a spike of 1 minute of typing. Yesterday I averaged out on 49wpm on 1-5 minute typing tests.

    So, I'm still going to try to increase my speed and keep accuracy high. I did a few tests before I took the plunge and did 80wpm on QWERTY. So I'm closing in on that figure and feel like I'm not maxed out yet. I'm silently hoping to even surpass 100wpm, but that will take a lot of extra practice.

    To be continued...

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    • From: UK
    • Registered: 14-Apr-2014
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    Passwords can be quite tricky when you're learning a new layout - but a nice solution for avoiding that particular problem is to use a password manager app.

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

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    • Registered: 25-Jul-2021
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    Your 20+wpm after 6days is a rather fast progress. In my case I'm still struggling at 14wmp after 6 days with Colemak Academy. I've been typing QWERTY for 27 years with a current top speed of 150wpm. Perhaps keybr.com has better learning structure or can anybody recommend a better tutorial site?

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