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Learning Colemak-DH on a split columnar keyboard

  • Started by ikcelaks
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I updated my first post with an update on my progress and thoughts about the layout:

Update (2022-02-22): It took me approximately 2 to 2.5 months to gain speed in Colemak more or less equal to my best QWERTY speeds.

I have stuck with my initial plan to use Colemak-DH exclusively on the Moonlander and use QWERTY exclusively on all row staggered keyboards. I have been surprised by how little I've used a row stagger keyboard. Basically, I have only been forced to use QWERTY when interacting with other people's computers (which is fairly frequent but always extremely brief). As a result, my ability to do my normal work on QWERTY is probably extremely hampered at this point, but I'm not worried about it. The Moonlander has proven portable enough that I just take it home with me on the weekends and to off-site locations if I plan to spend anytime working on my laptop.

I have been very happy with Colemak-DH and made only one set of changes that are fairly small in practice (replacing Z with ' and ; with -). The motivator for those changes was to move the ' off of the right pinky, because I really dislike how it interacts with the other punctuation (particularly the comma and both slashes) when it's on the right pinky. As an added bonus, having the ' on the bottom row of the left pinky has transformed all of the common contractions and the possessive 's into really comfortable rolls or hand alternations.

If I could go back in time and remake the decision to learn an alt-layout, I would do so without hesitation. I would probably stick with Colemak-DH (with my minor alteration), but I know longer really care about maintaining the ctrl-Z, X, C, and V shortcuts nearly as much, so I would be tempted to try something more exotic like Semimak or Engram. But, I can't see any super compelling reason to choose against Colemak-DH, unless you hate alt-fingering NK / KN.

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  • From: Viken, Norway
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Yes, the center column is quite ambidextrous for me. I settled for "only" a single-Wide config because that feels like the best balance and allows center column flexibility.

When typing out a BBCode tag, I'll use left-right-left for, say, the

[/b]

tag which feels very handy. But sometimes if I'm too fast I may get transposition errors.

*** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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Yes, the center column is quite ambidextrous for me. I settled for "only" a single-Wide config because that feels like the best balance and allows center column flexibility.

The double-wide layouts with the number row below the letters is interesting to me, because I like having an extra row between my fingers and my thumb, but I think I would hate having the top row offset by a full half-u. I still don't have any plans to use Colemak on any row-stagger boards, so it's all academic.

-----

This is amusing. After watching Oats's latest YouTube video, I just did a set of ten 60s test with English 10k and Punctuation. I'm almost as fast as my English 5k list without punctuation. I think that adding periods and commas probably speeds me up by balancing the fingers more. The only thing really slowing me down is the extra tap of the shift key.

Ten test average (English 10k with Punctuation; 60s):
55 wpm average
98% accuracy average
70% consistency

53.99    53.99    99.26%    74.07%    270/0/0/0    time 60    !?        23 Feb 2022 17:37
56.60    56.60    98.61%    76.44%    283/0/0/0    time 60    !?        23 Feb 2022 17:35
50.58    50.58    95.47%    69.27%    253/0/0/0    time 60    !?        23 Feb 2022 17:34
56.58    56.58    97.59%    73.43%    283/0/0/0    time 60    !?        23 Feb 2022 17:33
55.38    55.38    98.23%    75.65%    277/0/0/0    time 60    !?        23 Feb 2022 17:32
53.58    53.58    97.11%    69.35%    268/0/0/0    time 60    !?        23 Feb 2022 17:30
55.77    55.77    98.24%    68.94%    279/0/0/0    time 60    !?        23 Feb 2022 17:28
56.60    56.60    97.92%    69.80%    283/0/0/0    time 60    !?        23 Feb 2022 17:27
53.20    53.20    97.10%    71.88%    266/0/0/0    time 60    !?        23 Feb 2022 17:26
54.59    54.59    97.85%    74.61%    273/0/0/0    time 60    !?        23 Feb 2022 17:25

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  • From: Viken, Norway
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I'm so very much in love with the CoDeKey I'm using now, which saves me both the curl down to the punctuation keys and the Shift after a period and space. As you say, not having to hit that Shift key all the time is a boon. It works very well in tests at least, although I'm a bit slower with it for now I have to confess. It's a bigger mental load, but very very comfy!

*** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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I'm still improving and have now achieved a 60 wpm average for a set of 10 consecutive 60s English 5k tests. It is extremely heartening that I am able to continue my slow but steady progress even now that I've matched my old QWERTY capabilities. I see no reason to believe I'll be unable to eventually reach 70wpm average on the English 5k list, although that is likely to take a year or more.

My practice time is much reduced from my previous excessive levels. I no longer practice at all on the weekends, and each week I see that the two days of off-time actually helps me to manifest the improvements that my previous week's practice earned. I've seen that phenomenon in learning other physical skills. Taking a few days off can really cement the recent practice.

Last 10 averages (English 5k; 60s):

60 wpm average
98% average accuracy
75% average consistency

59.98    59.98    98.04%    77.16%    300/0/0/0    time 60            07 Mar 2022 13:33
59.18    59.18    97.70%    76.68%    296/0/0/0    time 60            07 Mar 2022 12:52
61.98    61.98    98.41%    79.24%    310/0/0/0    time 60            07 Mar 2022 12:46
58.79    58.79    97.69%    74.84%    294/0/0/0    time 60            07 Mar 2022 12:45
58.38    58.38    97.99%    74.81%    292/0/0/0    time 60            07 Mar 2022 12:43
59.00    59.00    98.33%    73.67%    295/0/0/0    time 60            07 Mar 2022 12:38
59.59    59.59    98.36%    74.81%    298/0/0/0    time 60            07 Mar 2022 12:36
56.39    56.39    96.91%    70.89%    282/0/0/0    time 60            07 Mar 2022 12:34
62.19    62.19    97.50%    75.88%    311/0/0/0    time 60            07 Mar 2022 12:26
59.78    59.78    98.68%    75.10%    299/0/0/0    time 60            07 Mar 2022 12:17

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ikcelaks said:

I think I have some nice ideas for a good numeric input layer for things like spreadsheets and CASes.

I would be very interested in that.

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The one in the BigBag should be good, especially for an ortho board. The double zero keys are actually important for rolling multiple zeros and avoiding 10 and 20 SFBs.

*** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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It's been two months since I posted any updates here. I'm still using exactly the same slightly modified Colemak-DH layout; I'm still using using this exclusively on my ZSA Moonlander, which I use for 95+% of all typing (reverting to QWERTY on my laptop keyboard and other devices); I'm still improving, but very slowly.

I don't use the Monkeytype as much as I did perviously, but I still type on it most days for a few minutes several times throughout the day. I use it as form of mental relaxation and mostly use the Quote mode to type real language, although I do test my speed on English 5k and English 200 from time to time. My speed on English 5k has crept up over the 65wpm average, giving me real hope that I will eventually reach the 70+ wpm zone. My speed on "real language" quotes is consistently over 70wpm already, as long as it doesn't have excessive punctuation or odd proper nouns. I've also accomplished single 60s test of >70wpm on English 5k and >80wpm on English 200, although I don't especially care about those.

All of that is pretty much what was too be expected. Large speed increases are not to be expected at this point, unless I eliminate some kind of mental barrier. Since I'm at about 110% - 115% of my old QWERTY speed, progress is not going to be fast.

The one interesting thing to note is that my QWERTY speed has improved dramatically in the past two months. A small part of that probably comes from me having used my laptop keyboard more frequently during this time, but I think the biggest change is just that the muscle memory for the two layouts has become more severed. My Colemak muscle memory is no longer a layer over my old QWERTY muscle memory; it's more of it's own independent thing. So, now when I type QWERTY on my laptop, it's more about accessing the rusty QWERTY memory than actively undoing the Colemak layer. That said, I still need to look at the Keyboard to really access the QWERTY memory. I'm not really reading the legends on the keys. I just need that constant reminder to stay in QWERTY mode.

Last 10 averages (English 5k; 60s):

66 wpm average
98% average accuracy
76% average consistency

68.38    68.38    98.28%    80.90%    342/0/0/0    time 60            23 May 2022 14:24
66.99    66.99    97.67%    76.20%    335/0/0/0    time 60            23 May 2022 14:18
65.60    65.60    98.20%    79.42%    328/0/0/0    time 60            23 May 2022 14:17
65.20    65.20    97.90%    73.48%    326/0/0/0    time 60            23 May 2022 13:57
67.38    67.38    97.69%    79.64%    337/0/0/0    time 60            23 May 2022 13:56
63.60    63.60    96.37%    72.81%    318/0/0/0    time 60            23 May 2022 13:54
64.60    64.60    97.88%    75.49%    323/0/0/0    time 60            23 May 2022 13:47
65.99    65.99    97.64%    71.68%    330/0/0/0    time 60            23 May 2022 10:26
61.40    61.40    96.85%    71.70%    307/0/0/0    time 60            23 May 2022 10:22
65.98    65.98    98.51%    74.61%    330/0/0/0    time 60            23 May 2022 10:20

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