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Janel's thread

  • Started by Janel5
  • 37 Replies:
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  • Registered: 28-Feb-2008
  • Posts: 25

Hi all!  What a great forum!  It's so neat to see a bunch of enthusiastic fans in one place like this.  I was going to reply to some threads but I guess I'd better make my own first to introduce myself. 

So, about me:  I'm 38.   I always messed around with typewriters when I was little, taught myself typing using a lesson book, and later took a typing class.  At some point I got a book called speed drills or championship typing or something like that, and broke through 100 wpm. 

I took a test just now that someone on here recommended and it says my Qwerty speed's 112.  It's fun to type that fast.  It lets me talk a lot  :-) 

So why switch?  Because Qwerty's ugly!  It just is!  It's awkward and painful.  What horrible movements one has to go through, jumping and leaping all over the place.  It feels like doing a clown dance on a ladder while holding two cats.  Just because I can do the clown dance very well doesn't mean I'm enjoying it. 

It's hard not to hate something that was poorly designed, on principle if nothing else.  Anything so poorly designed should be done away with.  Qwerty might not even have been designed; the way I heard it (years ago) the Qwerty layout was a holdover from the way the letters were arranged in a typesetter's tray. 

I don't remember where I first found out about Dvorak.  It might have been when I got my Dana (http://alphasmart.com/Retail/) and noticed the Dvorak layout option on it, and googled about it.  Dvorak makes SO much more sense than Qwerty. 

When I was little I read Alvin's Secret Code and made up my own ciphers, so I remember what the most frequent letters were.  Dvorak puts the most frequent letters in the home row, well, almost.  At least a lot closer than Qwerty.  I copied the Gigliwood text onto the Dana and learned that layout for fun while I was on vacation somewhere.  What a relief from Qwerty!  On Dvorak it feels like your fingers hardly move at all. 

Problem, the shortcut keys, of course.  And the purist annoyance of having one of the nine most frequently used letters, namely R, in the top row above the right-hand ring finger.  Why get so close to perfection and then miss it?  Not to mention the L.  L's one of my favorite letters and what a stupid place to have it! 

Got back home to my computer and really felt the effects of not being able to copy and paste and file and save with my left hand any more, couldn't handle that annoyance and it was back to Qwerty in a huff. 

But I kept thinking about it.  Dvorak's such poetry in motion.  The sheer beauty and elegance of the movements as compared to Qwerty's were just so seductive.  Having all the vowels on one hand makes it so easy to memorize.  There are hardly any one-handed words that way.  The cleverness of the "ght" movement just took my breath away.  I loved the ch, wh, sh motions.  I've played Chopin's Harp Etude before, with those lovely inward-rolling hand motions, and typing in Dvorak feels like that. 

Recently I noticed my 13 yo was still hunting and pecking, so I installed Mavis Beacon 5 on the kids' computer so she could learn.  That happens to be the last Mavis that has the Dvorak layout.  That prompted me to think about Dvorak again.  I woke up one morning and decided that one of the things about being an adult is that one is capable of making sacrifices for a greater good, and I decided to just adapt to losing the keyboard shortcuts in order that I could type on Dvorak.  The more elegant and ergonomic motions would be worth the loss of the keyboard shortcuts.  So I made myself a username on their Mavis and started learning Dvorak.  And really it's not so bad, because it's not like you lose the keyboard shortcuts, you just have to use two hands for them.  Take a hand off the mouse, right?  Not the end of the world! 

One week ago, on Feb 25, I had just completed re-learning the entire Dvorak layout and had switched my computer to Dvorak as the default and started seriously adapting.  I was just at that point where it was frustrating to be back at 20 wpm and unable to chatter thoughtlessly on the keyboard as I was before, but possible to make do with some patience, and I felt I'd soon be able to push through and get my old typing speed back. 

Then, while looking at Dvorak pages, I noticed an actual link to Colemak instead of just a reference to it...
I clicked the link.  Read the FAQ.  Looked at the pictures.  Keyboard shortcuts in their proper places and ETAONRISH all on the home row??  That's it, clouds have parted, light breaks through, choirs of angels singing, this is the one, it's perfect, it's love at first sight. 

I felt a little silly to switch again right after telling everybody "I'm staying with Dvorak this time" but oh well...  I know a lady who took a trip back home to sell her house before she got married, and met Mr. Right one week before her wedding.  Timing!  Dvorak is out of here. 

I'm back to Qwerty right now (obviously) but this is the plan: 
I got Typefaster, which isn't as cool as Mavis but almost.  It'll be cooler once I write my own Colemak lesson texts which I'm going to do. 

The way I learned Dvorak was to do the lessons until I was totally confident of the new key locations before trying to switch over.  There's two levels to this, intellectual level and finger level.  The "learning" has to take place in the mind first.  Later the fingers take over.  In Qwerty I certainly don't think about where keys are, I just think about what I want to say and my amazing human body does the rest. 

The fingers need those mindless jujjuj kikkik lollol drills.  "Mindless" is the point.  The fingers have to learn what they're supposed to do independent of the mind.  Writing them some is my next step. 

Then I'll do the Typefaster lessons for a while.  I really think doing typing drills is just a fun thing, like learning a craft or a sport.  It's harmless, amusing fun, all by itself. 

Once I've intellectually "learned" the keys, then I'll switch over to Colemak by default to get my fingers into the habit and start building up the speed.  It shouldn't be a problem.  It was working with Dvorak.  20+ years of muscle memory is a powerful thing... but I had gotten as far in Dvorak as it already becoming habit, so that I'd sit down at a Qwerty keyboard and do it all wrong. 

More to come  :-)

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  • Registered: 28-Feb-2008
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Hey, look, they still sell it! 

http://www.amazon.com/Cortez-Peters-Cha … 0070496374

*nostalgia*

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  • From: Bærum, Norway
  • Registered: 13-Dec-2006
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Welcome! You sound almost like me... except for the fact that you can actually type fast.  :p

You probably realize that with that good QWERTY skills you'll feel awful for a while with Colemak. Maybe quite a while. But it's worth hanging in there, I think. Best of luck!

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It's great so see such enthusiasm for Colemak! I was considering Dvorak myself before I started. If you thought Dvorak is poetry in keyboard form, you're going to think Colemak is more so (I certainly found this key arrangment to be very pleasing :P). The only thing is that it'll be a more familiar kind of poetry instead of something completely alien.

One week isn't too long and with your deep roots in QWERTY, you should become proficient in Colemak in no time. Like DreymaR said, though, you'll feel "awful" for a while. Keep at it, though; it's worth it.

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  • From: Switzerland
  • Registered: 21-Aug-2007
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What a post, well said! :D

Welcome and good luck. I have no hints for you, you seem to have it figured out. ;) After a week or two there will be no going back...

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Thanks guys!! 

I'll tell you what I'm doing right now.  I can't sacrifice my Qwerty skills this week.  I went that cold turkey way with Dvorak, and it's a painful shock to one's typing schedule.  At least it has to be done when one has no pressing need to type, which doesn't describe me just now. 

Otherwise it's hard to justify the switch to yourself when the going gets difficult, because, "If I had something that was working, isn't it very foolish to give it up?" 

But at least it can be done gradually!  So I'm trying it the "don't give up the Qwerty yet" way that someone talked about.  I'm practicing Colemak as a game in the evenings when I get a few minutes free.  As a game, it's great fun.  That way, I'm memorizing the key locations only intellectually. 

The cold turkey way teaches the brain and fingers at the same time, and I believe that's the best way.  But if that's not possible, there's no reason the brains can't learn alone.  It is definitely slower.  I'm getting it.  Very slowly! 

Now I can tell you where all the keys are without looking, although I might have to take a second to think about it...

The taking a second to think about it will go away and I will have them all MEMORIZED.  At that point, only once the key locations have been completely memorized, I'll change the default keyboard and see how it goes then. 

It's interesting to feel the progress of this "relaxed" learning of Colemak which gradually insinuates itself into my reality.  My brain IS in control of my body after all, so I've noticed that as my brain memorizes the new key locations, my fingers gradually begin to want to go there for them.  Cool. 

My Colemak WPM right now, lousy!  If I play Typer Shark I get eaten every time  :-) 

I found one that doesn't get me killed over and over: 

http://www.squiglysplayhouse.com/Games/ … rtyper.swf

I can keep up with that, just barely.

Last edited by Janel5 (06-Mar-2008 15:06:33)
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  • From: Bærum, Norway
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Haha, I used Air Typer in my first week of Colemak too! The memories...  :)

I remember that I ran into some trouble with that game because it didn't recognize the Colemak O (presumably because it sits in a symbol position from QWERTY). Hope it works for you.

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  • From: NYC
  • Registered: 02-Feb-2007
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I had a similar route to how I got to Colemak. I was trying to learn dvorak and then bam...I found out about Colemak. Good luck to you with learning Colemak, I think it'll be worth it in the long run.

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Okay, I made the switch!  I've just set the computer to Colemak as the default.  I couldn't stand Qwerty another second  :-) 

My Colemak speed's 20 wpm. There'll be a bit less chatter from me for a while as I go behind the dark side of the moon.   

I've been using TypingMaster for the last few days.  I like the programmed instruction, which keeps me from obsessing for perfection and getting frustrated.  The program decides when to go on to the next lesson.  It records progress along the way which is nice. TypingMaster doesn't have a Colemak setting, just Qwerty and Dvorak, but that doesn't matter, you can just drill the letters it tells you... type the SDFJKL in the new locations and ignore the graphic.  The graphic is easy to ignore because it only displays hints after a delay.  If you hesitate for a second, it highlights the Qwerty key you should press.  That's actually better than TypeFaster with its big red squares which are so much input it's almost counter-memorization. 

I was just reading about a memory competition,
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080309/lf_ … _memory_dc
I've heard that you have to learn new things to keep the brain healthy!  This is an enjoyable challenge, and also produces an improved condition.  There's my justification, if I need any  :-)

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My typing speed was 28 this morning.  Whoo, the internet's difficult when you're stumbling along looking for the right keys.  I've resorted to copying and pasting my passwords.  Is this what it's like for everybody else? 

No going back, yesterday I ripped my keyboard apart and rearranged the keys.  It was the kind with F and J that didn't want to change so I scraped the letters off FOUR keys with a screwdriver and painted on new ones with my daughter's fingernail paint pens.  Result:  the keyboard is uniquely mine  :-) 

janel_keyboard_colemak.jpg

And I was glad I did it, only two hours later I was holding a phone with one hand and entering alphanumeric order #s with the other, and it was handy to have keys that were correctly labeled!

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  • From: Houston, Texas
  • Registered: 03-Jan-2007
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Now that's commitment!

I initially had to switch back to Qwerty for passwords (easy to do on a Mac),  but I stopped doing that some time ago.  My keys are still qwerty but I never look at them and when I do I know what letter it should be.  I have become totally comfortable with that.

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  • From: Bærum, Norway
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A curse upon those recalcitrant F and J keys!  ;)

I make passwords that are layout invariant. I did that already back in my Dvorak days, and with Colemak it's a lot easier since more keys are the same. Use the numbers and symbols, and you can make good strong passwords that don't mind whether you're typing them with QWERTY or Colemak.

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  • From: NYC
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Very good typing progress, Janel...

Two of my laptops are physically and virtually remapped to Colemak.

Last edited by AGK (14-Mar-2008 05:39:03)
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Thank you, guys!  What great moral support! 

My typing speed this morning, 40 wpm, by the http://hi-games.net/typing-test/ 
I'm getting gradually more comfortable. 

The more I use this layout the more I appreciate what a work of genius it is.  Having one's fingers stay on the home row most of the time, the almost total lack of key repeats, and no hurdles, is just so relaxing! 

I can survive in Typer Shark now  :-)

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March 28 speed, 55 wpm.  That's by the hi-games test for consistency, which I think scores quite generously.  Anyway at least I can get my stuff done at a tolerable speed instead of feeling so handicapped. 

I didn't follow the tip about typing Qwerty every morning, and my Qwerty skill is totally gone.  I've forgotten all those illogical key locations and can only input something into someone else's computer by looking at the keys.  It's caused me embarrassment twice already...

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  • From: Bærum, Norway
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That embarrassment will subside. I still need to look at the keyboard for QWERTY typing, but it goes quite fast and effortlessly now. I feel as if I'm typing QWERTY with as much ease as before, even looking at the board. I feel dirty afterwards, of course...  ;)

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Hi from me!  This morning's test was 61 wpm.  I'm quite comfortable now, although I still have to think about where the keys are.  I often reverse R and S, D and G, I and E, N and K. 
I've spent enough time with typing lessons for now, and I'm going to let it be a non-issue for a while and concentrate on other stuff, and it can gradually become habit in the background.  Once it's habit I'll work on it again and hope to get to my 100 wpm speed again. 

It is definitely a HUGE improvement as far as typing comfort.  It's very, very relaxing and easy to type with only occasional movements of the fingers.  Can't believe what a difference from Qwerty's torturing hurdly evilness. 

I do have a question though, about the right alt key.  I didn't know that was going to change.  For a while it threw me off in Photoshop.  PS was yelling at me to alt-click to select a clone source and I WAS alt-clicking but nothing was happening!  Now I realize Colemak changed my right alt key.  The left one still works the way I expect.  So can someone tell me what happened, what's that key become, and can I easily change it back to alt?  Thanks!

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  • From: Bærum, Norway
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Right. The Colemak uses AltGr functionality for international characters like accented and special letters, as well as a few useful symbols. Users like me who live in Norway already have an AltGr key to the right rather than another Alt key, so we're used to that. But I can imagine it could be a hurdle for people who have never become accustomed to that solution before.

Either learn to always use the left-hand Alt key, or you (or someone else of like mind) will have to remove all the AltGr mappings from the layout file with MSKLC (v. 1.4) and recompile the install files I'm afraid. You'd then lose all the accents but maybe keep your sanity...  ;)

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I've gotten kudos for correctly using accents even though I'm a "stupid American" and it's been thanks to the AltGr mappings.  It's harder not to spell names like Ramírez correctly accented when you have the AltGr mapping so conveniently waiting for you...

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It only seems to make the accent í é ú which isn't any use to me... is there a handy way to make umlauts using it?

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  • From: Belgium
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There are some AltGr "dead keys" for example for umlaut: AltGr+[d], then [letter].

Check https://colemak.com/Multilingual for the complete list.

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ü   ä 

Hahaha it works!  How cool and nifty!  That's got to be a lot better than going to Word to make the symbol and then pasting it, like I usually have to do because I didn't know any other way.  I was just going to list some German books on Ebay, that'll help me!! 

Thanks!

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Just checking in.  I haven't been practicing, just using Colemak every day.  My speed on the hi-games test this morning was 70 wpm, but on the next try I got only 66.  The biggest frustration right now is the reversed letters.  I'm still switching R and S, typing S instead of D sometimes, and getting E and I backwards.  If I ever need to type three vowels in a row for a word like "adieu" I have to really stop and think.  Anyway, I'm still here, happy I switched, it's much more comfortable than I was before.  No problem on the wrists.  My lazy habit of resting on the wrist-rest pays off and doesn't hurt me now... it's possible to type Colemak that way because there's so little movement  :-)

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Did two tests this morning, got 79 wpm if I pushed it, 75 if I didn't  :-)

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Looks like as your speed steadily increases, the length of your posts equally steadily decreases.  Rather counterintuitive, that!  :-)

Or is it some kind of Eastern martial arts thing -- where the more proficient you become, the less you fight...?

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