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    Learning Colemak-DH on a split columnar keyboard

    • Started by ikcelaks
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    • Registered: 06-Dec-2021
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    I just bought a ergonomic columnar keyboard (the ZSA Moonlander, to be specific). Since I knew that I would need to acclimate to the top and (especially) bottom row key locations anyway, I decided to go all-in and learn Colemak-DH at the same time. This will be a journal of that progress.

    History
    I've been touch typing on QWERTY for approximately 25 years using ANSI staggered keyboards. My speed in typing tests is an uninspiring 60-70wpm on normal English text with capitalization and punctuation but no numbers or symbols. My technique is very plain: no alternate fingerings to avoid common single finger bigrams; standard fingerings for every letter except 'C' (left index) and 'Q' (left ring); and exclusive use of the left shift.

    Why Colemak-DH now?
    Switching to a split columnar layout gives me a chance to imprint a new layout on the new board. I've long thought that I was a good candidate to see good results from a Colemak layout, because I have no personalized tricks compensating for its many weaknesses (ie. I'm completely unlike Sean Wrona). However, I've always balked at the risk of compromising my ability to quickly switch back to QWERTY when I need to use another person's machine, which comes up frequently but briefly in my day job. I'm hoping now to teach my fingers that laptop=QWERTY and moonlander=Colemak-DH. The Moonlander also allows me to leave the OS layout at ANSI-US, which cleanly by-passes any remote desktop issues.

    I chose Colemak over Dvorak and Workman, because single finger bigrams are my top priority, and it's popular. I chose the 'DH' variant, because it seems perfect for a columnar keyboard.

    Current Progress
    I began dabbling in keybr about two weeks ago, but I stopped once I got to letter 'D', since I didn't want to mess with the bottom row until I received the Moonlander. When that arrived two days ago, I plowed ahead with the full layout. Current speeds on the default simple settings of Monkeytype have me at around 30wpm and 90-95% accuracy. My "real" speed when composing, however, is dramatically slower.

    I'll add more thoughts latter. This was all typed in Colemak-DH, so I'm pretty exhausted at the moment!

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    Welcome, and congratulations on both your layout and hardware choices!
    Your background is similar to mine, except my technique was probably even more ad hoc, since I never learned to fully touch type properly with Qwerty.
    I don't think your Qwerty ability will fully disappear, and your plan of keeping layouts confined to distinct hardware types should help a lot.
    With your Moonlander, I suspect a lot of fun with custom layers is just around the corner!

    Using Colemak-DH with Seniply.

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    stevep99 said:

    Welcome, and congratulations on both your layout and hardware choices!
    Your background is similar to mine, except my technique was probably even more ad hoc, since I never learned to fully touch type properly with Qwerty.
    I don't think your Qwerty ability will fully disappear, and your plan of keeping layouts confined to distinct hardware types should help a lot.
    With your Moonlander, I suspect a lot of fun with custom layers is just around the corner!

    I'm not worried about my QWERTY ability disappearing. It seems that everyone who has tried has retained most of their QWERTY ability, as long as they allow themselves to warm up. My goal is to maximize my ability to "instantly" switch when moving to a different keyboard, because my bouts on other devices are always brief (if I have to warm up, I'll be done before I'm comfortable). But, really, I'm not too worried about it. I mention it mostly as explanation for why I'm avoiding Tarmak and staggered keyboards.

    Thus far the Moonlander has exceeded my expectations. I was honestly expecting to be somewhat let down. It's easy to get overly excited about flashy features that end up disappointing, but one-shot modifiers and tap dance really are great. I will never buy another keyboard that doesn't support QMK or something similarly powerful. The hardware is also at the top of my expectations. The thumb cluster fits my hands (thought it would from the life-sized print out, but you never know), and I'm very happy with the Kailh Box Brown switches. I've never had the pleasure of using mechanical switches with light actuation force, and it's so nice. I'm a fairly light typist, so these have eliminated the errors caused by failing to bottom-out the old rubber dome keys. My only complaint is that the built in tenting feature dependent on the thumb cluster angle. It's nothing that can't be fixed by a couple small chunks of wood, but still.

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    Today was my second day of using Colemak-DH for work, and it went so much better. I only had to voluntarily drop back to QWERTY a couple times, and all but one of my emails were written in Colemak-DH. That's a huge improvement over yesterday, where 3/4 of my typing was probably QWERTY. The big change is that the gap between my MonkeyType and "real" speed has shrunk considerably. It's still very large, but I think I can now free type at 25+wpm, as long as I know exactly what I want to say. I chose this time to start the transition, partially because I don't have any coding projects going on. That is definitely allowing me to stay in Colemak-DH more consistently.

    My MonkeyType speed is up to 34wpm at 97% accuracy for the last 10 tests (basic English; 30s).

    I've completed 'M' on Keybr.

    My current trouble letter is 'B'. 'J' is so much easier. I have a few theories. One, 'J' is always followed by 'U' in the basic word set, which makes a very easy bigram. Two, 'B' moved two rows. Three, the columnar layout makes the 'B' position harder than on staggered, and the 'J' position is made easier. I think it's a combo of all three.

    My other issue is that my left middle finger wants to steel back both 'D' and 'E'. This is especially true with the 'EC' bigram. My left middle finger anticipates the 'C' and decides on its own that it can still do the 'E' too. :p

    My current plan is to complete the training series of Keybr, but I definitely have mixed feelings about the system. The way that it gives extreme bias towards a single letter causes me to subconsciously cheat it. This is especially an issue for keys off the home, which is why I notice the issue so much more now. Letters that are frequently doubled are also disproportionately easy, so I got insufficient practice on 'O' and 'S', two letters that are actually very tough.

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    • From: Viken, Norway
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    Welcome to the wonderful world of Colemak typing! Your hands will thank you, as we say here.

    In my experience, it's the rarer keys that give you the most trouble in the long run. B isn't that common, and as you say it gets a bit of a rough treatment in DH. Keep in mind that it's for the improvement of worthier keys. Your analysis of its plight seems on the mark to me.

    Lots of people use keybr, but I never liked it myself. I use Monkeytype quite a bit but that may be for when you're a little more confident? Basically, what I do most is I just type.

    If you want to learn more about fun options, study my BigBag a little. You can probably program lots of stuff into your board, but if you're on Windows at least, give EPKL a look. It has lots of quite powerful features if I may say so. And also look at how to design an Extend layer properly (or use mine – it's very well tested by now!).

    Last edited by DreymaR (16-Dec-2021 09:51:20)

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    I've completed all the letters on Keybr.At this point I probably won't use that site anymore, but I very much appreciate what it did for me during my preparation for using Colemak-DH in earnest. I feel like it allowed me to replicate the "learn a few letters at a time" aspect of Tarmak without using Tarmack, and without ever mixing QWERTY and Colemak. This is not at all an indictment on using Tarmak, but maintaining nearly full speed on QWERTY with near zero adjustment time was a top priority for me, and the results have been very good so far. I typed half of this paragraph in Colemak on the moonlander and the other half in QWERTY on the laptop keyboard, and transitioning between the two was very nearly seamless. Yay! In fact, the hardest part was remembering that the shift isn't sticky on the laptop! (Love that feature)

    I also switched from the 200 word-list to the 5k word-list on MonkeyType. I also switched to 2min tests at the same time. I slowed down to maintain 98+% accuracy, which dropped my speed from 35-37wpm to ~30wpm, but I really expected it to be worse than that. 30wpm felt very comfortable.

    DreymaR, I have already studied your Extend layer and stole many of the ideas for my own navigation layer on the moonlander. Thanks!

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    I tried some quotes today, and I made the amusing observation that capitalization and punctuation were initially more troublesome when encountering them in MonkeyType than when using them during free compositional writing. That's an amusing reversal.

    I also noticed that it was extremely difficult for me to keep my accuracy over 95% with the presence of punctuation and capitalization, despite the keys not moving from QWERTY. This tells me two things.

    1. My mind has no free capacity to process caps and punctuation in the input text while directing my fingers to hit the Colemak-DH keys

    2. The 98% accuracy that I have been achieving on wordlists is actually not great. I've refocused on maintaining 99+%, with an aim of 99.5+%. I know that I'm still making too many wrong key mistakes, and I need to lock down the instinctual finger movements. Once those are dialed, I'll be happy to push the speed and make more errors, with the expectation that most will be "speed" errors like miss-ordered key strikes and missed caps and punctuation. Besides, slowing down to increase accuracy only cost me 1-2 wpm.

    I did most of the training on English 5k, but I also tried English 10k. 10k added too many proper names that don't necessarily reflect normal English super well, so I'll stick with 5k for the time being.

    My last ten average results on "50 words" with the English 5k list:
    31 wpm
    99% accuracy
    58% consistency (this takes the biggest hit when I focus on accuracy; should probably cycle in some runs with an additional focus on smoothness instead of spamming rolls all the time, which makes it harder to flow outside of the rolls; both are important)

    Last edited by ikcelaks (18-Dec-2021 04:32:18)
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    Impressive feat of accuracy maintenance. That was certainly something I struggled with for a while during my transition.

    Last edited by stevep99 (18-Dec-2021 14:18:32)

    Using Colemak-DH with Seniply.

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    When making your nav layer, did you understand the necessity of home row modifiers on it? That's what sets a true Extend layer apart from "yet another arrow layer".

    *** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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    stevep99 said:

    Impressive feat of accuracy maintenance. That was certainly something I struggled with for a while during my transition.

    At the time I wrote that, I was in a weird spot where (on the English 5k word list) I could type at around 29-31 wpm at anywhere from 96 to 99% accuracy. That is, I could type at a raw speed around 30wpm with almost no errors, which involved long pauses for sections I felt uncomfortable on and spamming common rolls really fast (consistency scores in the low 50s). And, whenever I tried to let my fingers loose, all raw speed gains were consumed by the complete loss of flow that happened whenever I made an error. At this time I was capable of over 40wpm on the 200 word list, so I would classify my performance more as an inability to push speed at any accuracy more than a miraculous feat of maintaining accuracy.

    The core issue was that I simply couldn't avoid QWERTY-based errors when letting my fingers go on morphemes I wasn't well practiced on. 'H' was a particular trouble letter. There would be no issue with "th" or "wh", but other occurrences would very often result in an erroneous 'm'. I also had (and somewhat continue to have) trouble with confusing 'a' and 'o'. I'm really shocked at how often I accidentally type 'o' when I mean to type 'a'. When I first started this journey, 'a' was my rock -- the one letter that I could rely on typing quickly and accurately without extra thought, but that accuracy has eroded as my comfort with 'o' has improved. Combined, I'm definitely in a much better spot with those two than before, but a lot of work is still left.

    Just today, I feel that I've made a real breakthrough with surrendering conscious control and letting my fingers go. I've sacrificed a touch of accuracy (about 1%) for an extra 5wpm and a significant improvement in smootheness. I'm happy with that progress:
    Averages for the last 10 test (all test done with 50 words and the English 5k word list):
    36 wpm
    98% accuracy
    62% consistency

    DreymaR said:

    When making your nav layer, did you understand the necessity of home row modifiers on it? That's what sets a true Extend layer apart from "yet another arrow layer".

    Yes, I have absolutely kept the home row modifiers from your Extend layout. Easy access to Ctrl, Shift, and Ctrl+Shift while using the arrows, home/end, and page up/down is absolutely vital.

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    Latest average for my last 10 tests (50 words from the English 5k word list):
    38 wpm
    98% accuracy
    64% consistency

    I had two consecutive tests over 41 wpm in the late morning that felt really good. When I came back in the evening for my final batch of tests, I was back down to 37, 39, and 39 for the set, with lower "consistency" scores. Still, I'm really happy to still be seeing clear day-to-day improvement at this point.

    I've restrained myself from setting solid goals and expectations up to this point. I just wanted to have fun with the learning process, treat it more as a hobby, and take the results as they came. But at this point it's hard not to look ahead.

    My two big goals must be 50+ wpm and 60+ wpm.

    50 wpm is the level that I was at when I was in college, and a level that I think will seal my commitment to sticking with Colemak long-term. I really love the feel of typing in Colemak even now, but I certainly need to reach 50 wpm within a few months, or continuing is madness. Right now, I have zero doubt that I can accomplish that performance standard. In fact, I expect that it will come within the next three weeks, which would be my one month anniversary of using full Colemak-DH. I see the possibility of it happening even sooner, because I have already done 46 wpm for a single 30s sprint on the 200 word list, but only time will tell.

    60 wpm is approximately what I am capable with QWERTY, and its still at least a few months off, almost certainly, but that's okay. Currently, I only type a few individual words per test at a rate over 60 wpm, so matching that speed for an entire test is going to require me to speed up everything. Minimizing pauses won't be enough. I'll also need to improve my performance on easy rolls and alternations that already feel fast. I think it will come, but I know it will take patience.

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    Nice progress, sounds like you're just about reaching that crucial point, which usually happens around 40wpm mark, where the muscle memory is becoming established, and everything starts to fall into place and feel more natural.

    Using Colemak-DH with Seniply.

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    stevep99 said:

    Nice progress, sounds like you're just about reaching that crucial point, which usually happens around 40wpm mark, where the muscle memory is becoming established, and everything starts to fall into place and feel more natural.

    Yep, and it's kind of a wild ride.

    On the 22nd, I completely lost control of my accuracy. No matter how hard I concentrated on relaxing and typing in a controlled and precise manner, my fingers just went off the rails and did whatever they pleased. My accuracy dropped to around 96%, and I also lost 3-4 wpm, because of so much time and flow lost which each error. The crazy thing was that I couldn't improve my accuracy much at all, even if I dropped my wpm down to 30.

    The errors themselves were different as well. The obvious QWERTY swaps, were mostly a thing of the past. Most errors were either hand transpositions (E <-> S, A <-> O, etc), over/under reaches (M <-> N, T <-> G, especially), and mis-orderings. The last especially plagued me. When I would have a long pause or make an error, the opposite hand would just type its next letter anyways. So a word like "belong" might come out as "elbong" (actually, I would probably catch the error after the "el", but you get the point).

    I wasn't too worried, because it seemed obvious that this was symptomatic of my brain offloading this work to the subconscious, but it was a bit annoying!

    So I spent both of my sessions yesterday focusing on maximizing control and staying as relaxed as possible. I again didn't set any PRs, but at least my accuracy creeped back up to 97%.

    Then, today (English 5k, 50 words, average of last ten);
    41 wpm
    98% accuracy
    67% consistency

    41.98    41.98    99.20%    67.05%    372/0/0/0    words 50   
    41.61    41.61    98.10%    68.77%    360/0/0/0    words 50
    41.59    41.59    99.19%    65.87%    369/0/0/0    words 50   
    41.75    41.75    99.29%    73.92%    417/0/0/0    words 50   
    42.09    42.09    98.76%    68.07%    396/0/0/0    words 50   
    41.49    41.49    98.32%    66.51%    406/0/0/0    words 50   
    38.72    38.72    96.15%    65.51%    371/0/0/0    words 50   
    39.17    39.17    97.47%    68.61%    424/0/0/0    words 50   
    37.09    37.09    95.38%    63.15%    386/0/0/0    words 50   
    39.59    39.59    97.88%    67.36%    412/0/0/0    words 50

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    I've still been practicing over the holidays, though not nearly as much everyday usage. Right after Christmas, I went through an annoying stretch where my accuracy absolutely plummeted. My subconscious muscle memory was automatically taking over, but it simply wasn't ready for the prime time. As before, I had tremendous problems with hand transpositions (A <-> O, R <-> I, and E <-> S) and misordering or simply skipping letters when alternating hands. However, I was more troubled by the number of mis-reach errors I was seeing (far more than I had seen before). My accuracy on B was dreadful, and T <-> G / N <-> M misses were really excessive.

    I resolved to fix the issue by forcing myself to drill accuracy more intentionally. I did this by alternating between two drills:

    1. Very slow (< 30 wpm) metronome typing, with a focus on making each stroke on the beat with a quick and confident finger motion. This was to gain confidence on letters like B that I was almost never able to type confidently at full speed.

    2. Word (or word chunk) bursts, with long pauses to plan the bursts. This was to make sure that I was developing proper movement sequences for common letter sequences.

    I did these drills exclusively for a couple days, and it really helped. I plan to continue to incorporate both of those drill styles in my future training.

    When I went back to letting my fingers go again yesterday, I was amazed at many fewer errors I was making. B is still a pain (though better), but the over / under reaching errors (T <-> G, N <-> M, etc) errors are basically gone. I still have issues with transposing hands, especially A <-> O, but I think its improving. The same goes for skipping / misordering letters. I think the latter two classes of errors simply require more experience with full speed typing, since they're mostly occurring when a pause in my typing causes my fingers to lag behind my natural read-ahead.

    At any rate, I'm pretty happy with the progress in total over the past week, even though the journey was far from linear.

    Last ten averages;
    44 wpm
    98% accuracy
    65% consistency

    46.52    46.52    99.06%    66.33%    421/0/0/0    words 50            02 Jan 2022
    43.47    43.47    98.75%    65.37%    393/0/0/0    words 50            02 Jan 2022
    42.46    42.46    98.28%    62.25%    398/0/0/0    words 50            02 Jan 2022
    44.41    44.41    98.10%    67.76%    411/0/0/0    words 50            02 Jan 2022
    43.84    43.84    98.76%    65.61%    396/0/0/0    words 50            02 Jan 2022
    43.05    43.05    98.23%    64.20%    388/0/0/0    words 50            02 Jan 2022
    44.61    44.61    98.70%    69.96%    380/0/0/0    words 50            02 Jan 2022
    46.33    46.33    98.84%    69.63%    423/0/0/0    words 50            02 Jan 2022
    42.52    42.52    97.69%    63.51%    380/0/0/0    words 50            02 Jan 2022
    41.80    41.80    96.91%    59.72%    405/0/0/0    words 50            02 Jan 2022

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    Good things are happening!

    50wpm is happening just as soon as I can stop getting excited about it during the middle of my trial (and thereby tanking the performance).

    Morning sessions (English 5k; 50 words):
    46 wpm
    98% accuracy
    68% consistency

    47.40    47.40    98.53%    71.72%    398/0/0/0    words 50            03 Jan 2022 10:50
    42.99    42.99    97.52%    61.58%    428/0/0/0    words 50            03 Jan 2022 10:49
    49.08    49.08    99.22%    70.84%    382/0/0/0    words 50            03 Jan 2022 10:09
    45.01    45.01    98.95%    68.02%    376/0/0/0    words 50            03 Jan 2022 10:07
    46.52    46.52    98.67%    69.20%    372/0/0/0    words 50            03 Jan 2022 10:05
    45.91    45.91    98.41%    67.61%    371/0/0/0    words 50            03 Jan 2022 10:03
    47.61    47.61    98.56%    70.59%    409/0/0/0    words 50            03 Jan 2022 09:21
    43.39    43.39    98.31%    66.83%    404/0/0/0    words 50            03 Jan 2022 09:13
    45.32    45.32    97.43%    67.56%    416/0/0/0    words 50            03 Jan 2022 08:31
    47.70    47.70    98.94%    70.79%    375/0/0/0    words 50            03 Jan 2022 08:27

    Last edited by ikcelaks (03-Jan-2022 17:16:28)
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    I was planning on waiting until I had a 50+ wpm average of ten on the English 5k 50 word test. It seemed like that achievement was imminent four days ago, but then I went through a major slump where I was pretty much incapable of reading ahead without generating really high error rates.

    Hand swaps continue to be a major issue for me, especially swapping A and O. I'm also seeing a lot of errors caused by mental pauses during hand alternation sequences. The hand opposite the paused letter will either type its letter ahead of schedule or "help" by trying to type the letter causing the pause (usually by typing the key in the mirrored position).

    Fortunately, the last two days have seen me my previous performances. Also, I notice that I'm doing much better than I ever was at navigating words with a lot of up / down movement. Words like "develop", "psychology", etc. are all much smoother.

    And finally I had a really good single test that felt amazing: 53.42 wpm and 99.49% accuracy

    Here is my last ten average from today's lunch session (English 5k; 50 words):
    48 wpm
    98% accuracy
    69% consistency
    53.42    53.42    99.49%    75.67%    391/0/0/0    words 50            09 Jan 2022 14:00
    47.33    47.33    97.58%    72.75%    403/0/0/0    words 50            09 Jan 2022 13:58
    48.44    48.44    99.76%    66.74%    416/0/0/0    words 50            09 Jan 2022 13:56
    47.74    47.74    98.46%    65.94%    384/0/0/0    words 50            09 Jan 2022 13:53
    49.50    49.50    98.38%    69.86%    364/0/0/0    words 50            09 Jan 2022 13:51
    47.50    47.50    98.33%    66.20%    410/0/0/0    words 50            09 Jan 2022 13:50
    47.84    47.84    98.19%    68.71%    379/0/0/0    words 50            09 Jan 2022 13:47
    44.49    44.49    97.60%    65.93%    402/0/0/0    words 50            09 Jan 2022 13:46
    47.16    47.16    97.90%    72.57%    371/0/0/0    words 50            09 Jan 2022 13:44
    43.90    43.90    96.96%    63.43%    412/0/0/0    words 50            09 Jan 2022 13:37

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    Good consistency. And broken the 50 barrier!

    Using Colemak-DH with Seniply.

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    Yeah, something really clicked over the past two days. 50+ wpm is now easy to bang out on the English 5k list, and I'm also seeing huge improvements on the basic 200 word list, recording 63.59 wpm over a 60s test. That is nearing what I was capable of on QWERTY! My biggest struggle right now is making myself stop running tests, so that I don't over-extend myself, because it's so much fun to type free and easy.

    This is basically the end of my first month (I have had my Moonlander for 31 days) of using the full Colemak-DH layout. I did have a slight head start from doing the first 8 letters in Keybr while waiting, but it's close enough to a month.  Overall, I really couldn't be more pleased with how this has gone. I guess that I'm at around 75% of my previous QWERTY speed. I'm at about 80% for the English 5k random word test, but my QWERTY wasn't trained on that and was relatively faster at real world typing. Considering that I'm 40 years old, that really isn't bad. I did spend a LOT of time training, because it became my main "time-waster" hobby, but I don't regret that. It's been fun.

    I'm guessing that 75-80% of QWERTY wpm after a month is better than most can expect for two reasons:

    1. My typing style was already very well suited to Colemak and very ill-suited for QWERTY. I already used all of my fingers in traditional home-row touch typing style with essentially no alt-fingering (One exception was that I angle-cheat the C on QWERTY, which I think is a clear win on that layout).

    2. I'm pretty slow on QWERTY, which meant that I didn't have to actually get very fast to reach a decent percentage of my old speed.

    The funny thing is that I started learning Colemak-DH mostly because I switched to a fancy split columnar keyboard, but I've become so focused on learning Colemak that I've barely even played around with the other capabilities of the keyboard that made me want it in the first place. I just discovered SteveP's Seniply, so now I'm taking some ideas from that to extend beyond the basic Extend inspired navigation layer. I might make another post on that, because I think I have some nice ideas for a good numeric input layer for things like spreadsheets and CASes.

    Last 10 results (5k, 60s; no longer 50 words):
    50 wpm
    97% accuracy
    74% consistency

    53.19    53.19    98.52%    78.05%    266/0/0/0    time 60            10 Jan 2022 16:06
    50.79    50.79    97.70%    71.28%    254/0/0/0    time 60            10 Jan 2022 15:26
    51.59    51.59    98.47%    72.28%    258/0/0/0    time 60            10 Jan 2022 14:22
    47.59    47.59    96.36%    72.63%    238/0/0/0    time 60            10 Jan 2022 14:21
    48.60    48.60    97.21%    69.93%    243/0/0/0    time 60            10 Jan 2022 14:17
    46.98    47.58    96.36%    78.23%    235/1/0/0    time 60            10 Jan 2022 14:16
    48.59    48.59    97.59%    71.89%    243/0/0/0    time 60            10 Jan 2022 14:14
    50.60    50.60    97.69%    71.84%    253/0/0/0    time 60            10 Jan 2022 14:12
    49.98    49.98    96.53%    73.09%    250/0/0/0    time 60            10 Jan 2022 14:11
    51.19    51.19    98.46%    76.29%    256/0/0/0    time 60            10 Jan 2022 14:10

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    The biggest noticeable progress lately is that I can now type while listening and paying attention to an unrelated conversation.

    Otherwise, there's not a lot new to say. I've reached the point where the speed gains are going to be slow. I still think that I'll eventually reach a faster speed with Colemak than I previously had with QWERTY, but even though I'm within 15-20% of that already, it's going to take a while.

    In the past week, 50+wpm on the one minute test with the English 5k word list has become extremely routine. I think that my best rolling average of ten tests is 52 wpm. My current rolling average is 51 wpm. Shockingly, I still have only broken 55 wpm on that list a small handful of times. Similarly, I now regularly break 60 wpm on the 200 word list, but the 63.59 from last week is still my PB.

    I'm trying to become more "intentional" with my practice, but I find it very difficult to practice individual words or ngrams on a site like ngram-type. Repeating the same key sequences in close succession is a real mind / finger bender for me. What I've tried to do to work around that is simply work out the optimal finger movements and groupings for words on the 200 word list that still give me a hitch. That has proven very beneficial for "public" and "develop" in particular. Also, I'm now spending a chunk of my time on the English 450k list, which I think is helping my consistency on difficult words, but it's tough to say if it's that or simply the extra week of typing that has made the difference.

    Here's the latest rolling average of 10 tests (60s, English 5k):
    52.17    52.17    98.49%    72.18%    261/0/0/0    time 60            18 Jan 2022 16:31
    51.97    51.97    98.48%    73.69%    260/0/0/0    time 60            18 Jan 2022 16:30
    49.39    50.19    98.05%    73.32%    247/1/0/0    time 60            18 Jan 2022 16:22
    50.39    50.39    98.45%    68.72%    252/0/0/0    time 60            18 Jan 2022 14:31
    48.99    48.99    97.61%    72.58%    245/0/0/0    time 60            18 Jan 2022 14:30
    51.58    51.58    97.37%    74.49%    258/0/0/0    time 60            18 Jan 2022 14:18
    51.99    51.99    98.11%    72.80%    260/0/0/0    time 60            18 Jan 2022 14:16
    49.18    49.18    97.65%    70.67%    246/0/0/0    time 60            18 Jan 2022 14:14
    49.19    49.19    96.85%    69.09%    246/0/0/0    time 60            18 Jan 2022 14:13
    51.00    51.00    98.84%    72.43%    255/0/0/0    time 60            18 Jan 2022 14:11

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    ikcelaks said:

    I just bought a ergonomic columnar keyboard (the ZSA Moonlander, to be specific). Since I knew that I would need to acclimate to the top and (especially) bottom row key locations anyway, I decided to go all-in and learn Colemak-DH at the same time. This will be a journal of that progress.

    History
    I've been touch typing on QWERTY for approximately 25 years using ANSI staggered keyboards. My speed in typing tests is an uninspiring 60-70wpm on normal English text with capitalization and punctuation but no numbers or symbols. My technique is very plain: no alternate fingerings to avoid common single finger bigrams; standard fingerings for every letter except 'C' (left index) and 'Q' (left ring); and exclusive use of the left shift.

    Why Colemak-DH now?
    Switching to a split columnar layout gives me a chance to imprint a new layout on the new board. I've long thought that I was a good candidate to see good results from a Colemak layout, because I have no personalized tricks compensating for its many weaknesses (ie. I'm completely unlike Sean Wrona). However, I've always balked at the risk of compromising my ability to quickly switch back to QWERTY when I need to use another person's machine, which comes up frequently but briefly in my day job. I'm hoping now to teach my fingers that laptop=QWERTY and moonlander=Colemak-DH. The Moonlander also allows me to leave the OS layout at ANSI-US, which cleanly by-passes any remote desktop issues.

    I chose Colemak over Dvorak and Workman, because single finger bigrams are my top priority, and it's popular. I chose the 'DH' variant, because it seems perfect for a columnar keyboard.

    Current Progress
    I began dabbling in keybr about two weeks ago, but I stopped once I got to letter 'D', since I didn't want to mess with the bottom row until I received the Moonlander. When that arrived two days ago, I plowed ahead with the full layout. Current speeds on the default simple settings of Monkeytype have me at around 30wpm and 90-95% accuracy. My "real" speed when composing, however, is dramatically slower.

    I'll add more thoughts latter. This was all typed in Colemak-DH, so I'm pretty exhausted at the moment!

    Thank you Ikcelaks for sharing your experience!

    I have a very similar one although I think my current wpm rate is slower. I guess in my case it took me many years to finally decide and make the jump from QWERTY.... it had been in my mind for a long time but I never quite made my mind. These days I've been using these tips to improve my speed and so far it's been working. For me, my biggest challenge is that I use too much movement still, as I understand it, it's a inertia from using QWERTY but nothing tons of practice can fix.

    I hope you improve your speed soon!

    Thanks,
    HF

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    Heidi Frank said:
    ikcelaks said:

    ...

    Thank you Ikcelaks for sharing your experience!

    I have a very similar one although I think my current wpm rate is slower. I guess in my case it took me many years to finally decide and make the jump from QWERTY.... it had been in my mind for a long time but I never quite made my mind. These days I've been using these tips to improve my speed and so far it's been working. For me, my biggest challenge is that I use too much movement still, as I understand it, it's a inertia from using QWERTY but nothing tons of practice can fix.

    I hope you improve your speed soon!

    Thanks,
    HF

    Thanks, and good luck to you also.

    I definitely went through a period with a lot of overreaches, particularly with T and N. My subconscious still wasn't used to them being right on the home row. However, I was very fortunate to come from a QWERTY typing style that already had almost no hand movemement. That strict style was absolutely a hinderance on QWERTY, where alt-fingerings and whole hand shifts are must for maximizing efficiency, but it was exactly the style Colemak is designed for. Yay for me!

    My recommendations from my first month of experience:

    1. Do Keybr through all of the letters and don't skip ahead. I simultaneously did some practice on MonkeyType before I had made it through the whole alphabet, and it was very obvious to me that training letters in Keybr translated exceptionally well to my MonkeyType performance.

    2. MonkeyType is great. Be sure to mix it up between English (200), English 5k, and eventually add in some English 450k. Also mix in punctuation and Quotes mode.

    3. Mix up your typing style so that sometimes you're going slow and super steady (to work on look ahead and individual key confidence) and sometimes you're typing with short bursts and generous pauses (to work on finger movement efficiency and breaking words down into ngrams that are quick to type). In both cases you shouldn't worry about your overall wpm. Those drills helped me break through plateaus twice.

    4. Do NOT continually blast through MonkeyType tests while you're fatigued (mentally or physically). This was the big mistake that I made repeatedly, because I would get into a horrible loop where I would want to end on a good performance and each good performance would make me want to match it. Avoid both urges! You'll waste less time, and your hands won't build up so much fatigue.

    5. Ngram-type doesn't work well for me, because my brain and hands completely freak out when I try to type anything repeatedly. I've much prefered just using Keybr (still good once you've unlocked all the letters) and just doing the bursty typing in MonkeyType that I described earlier.

    As for my own progress, I have reasonable expectations about how slow my future progress is going to be. I'm already nearing my QWERTY speeds and most improvement now comes from speeding up the slow parts, which will become harder and harder. Hopefully I'll have some kind of breakthrough and suddenly be able to burst out easy words and ngrams, but for now I rarely crack 90wpm on any single word. So I'm creeping up on that ceiling.

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    I'm starting a study of the Top 200 English Word List (as used by MonkeyType). Typing Study (comments are enabled and welcomed if anyone is interested)

    The initial goal is to go through each word and categorize the movements required to type it (Rolls, Hand Alternation, Turns, etc.) and also add a few comments on interesting words. I will also expand out into some of the most common prefixes, suffixes, and important ngrams.

    Eventually I will repeat the process for QWERTY and possibly Dvorak. I'm looking forward to looking at QWERTY, because I'm going to look at the layout from both a traditional home-row style and also a Wronian style (as best I can using the descriptions he put in his book).

    Last edited by ikcelaks (21-Jan-2022 23:49:08)
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    Progress is still being made.

    Here is the rolling average of the from the end of my morning session (English 5k; 60s):

    53 wpm average
    98% accuracy average
    74% consistency average

    54.00    54.00    98.54%    74.29%    270/0/0/0    time 60            23 Jan 2022 12:15
    51.19    51.19    96.98%    72.49%    256/0/0/0    time 60            23 Jan 2022 12:13
    48.79    48.79    95.00%    67.73%    244/0/0/0    time 60            23 Jan 2022 12:12
    56.99    56.99    98.28%    77.92%    285/0/0/0    time 60            23 Jan 2022 12:11
    54.99    54.99    98.92%    72.15%    275/0/0/0    time 60            23 Jan 2022 12:10
    52.19    52.19    97.03%    73.77%    261/0/0/0    time 60            23 Jan 2022 12:08
    55.60    55.60    99.29%    75.36%    278/0/0/0    time 60            23 Jan 2022 12:07
    56.80    56.80    98.61%    76.00%    284/0/0/0    time 60            23 Jan 2022 12:05
    51.20    51.20    97.00%    72.66%    256/0/0/0    time 60            23 Jan 2022 12:04
    51.99    51.99    98.11%    74.42%    260/0/0/0    time 60            23 Jan 2022 12:03

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    I realize that I haven't been tracking my speed on "real quotes" at all on this thread.

    At this time, my typical speed on normal prose quotes is in the 52-55 wpm range, about the same as my English 5k (no punctuation) speeds, and a bit less than 10% below my English 200 speeds. I spend most of my practice time on random word / ngrams (including Keybr) without punctuation, so almost all of my experience with capitalization and punctuation just comes from normal productive typing. This seems to be enough, however, my right hand cries in agony when I get a quote with a bunch of quoted dialog and "you' words. "You" is actually a really fast word for me when used sparingly, but I lose my ability to type the chord* if it comes up a million times.

    * By this I mean that I type "you" and "ion", etc. in basically a single downward movement. I simply shape my hand such that the ring finger strikes before the pinky and then so an inward roll onto the middle (or index, for "ion") finger to complete the trigram.  With this, "you" and "nation" are consistently two of my fastest words in the top 200.

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