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Janel's thread

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Remember the two big posts at the beginning were typed in Qwerty at 112 wpm  :-)

I just don't have anything new to say for a while.  Things are progressing and developing in a satisfactory way.  I'm still making major booboos in Colemak so I'm trying to just be careful and think about every key.  Cortez Peters said even at 200 wpm he still thought about every single key. 

I went to hi-games and went as "slowly" as I needed to to not make mistakes and scored 82 wpm.  I'm getting up there!  Creeping up on Ryan Heise  :-) 

Haven't any free time right now so I'm not practicing per se, but of course everything I type is practice  :-)

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Great Janel5!

So I reread you first post from 4 months ago and I note you have not reached your previous Qwerty speed.  I was curious if you still feel as enthusiastic as you were in that first post ?  In this 4 months did you go through any periods of frustration ?   Having this experience, in retrospect do you think there were some good things about Qwerty allowed by the tricks you used before ?   Do you feel any inertia when reaching for special characters and numbers from having your fingers spend so much time on the home row as some have suggested ?

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Enthusiasm:  well yes, not at the same infatuation level of course.  But I'm very comfortable :-) 
I have gratitude too.  I've been hammering away in Qwerty for like, 20 years now.  And there was starting to be some PAIN. 
Since I don't work for a corporation nobody's going to pay for my carpal tunnel operation if I go on and get to that point.  I switched my mouse hand from right to left to relieve my overworked right hand... now switching keyboards I think removed the rest of the problem. 
Colemak just doesn't hurt  :-) 

There's nothing good about Qwerty.  Learning tricks to deal with it is like learning tricks to keep one's abusive drunk spouse calm... yes tricks can be learned that make the situation easier, but it's better to just switch to something different  :-) 

Inertia?  No, I'm not aware of it.  I don't know what they're talking about.  I type numbers just as easily as ever.  A couple years ago I did some serious number drills to learn to type numbers with the right fingers easily and those drills still apply. 
Occasionally, very rarely, with unusual words, I come across a "hurdle" in Colemak and feel a Qwerty-flashback  :-)  Most usually involving words with L and K next to each other. 
With Qwerty it was all hurdles and how very, very good it feels to leave them behind! 

If someone feels "inertia" I bet they're putting their entire weight on a wrist rest right up next to the keyboard, which makes reaching very difficult.  I move the wrist rest away from the keyboard and put my arms on it, so I can be a little bit lazy but still have plenty of wrist motion. 

I didn't learn Qwerty all at once.  I got up to 70ish and then used it for a year or more before I made another push for speed.  I am very finger-dextrous because I've been playing piano since I was born, or maybe I was playing piano since I was born because I'm finger-dextrous... but you don't go from Chopsticks to the Waldstein in a couple months.  It takes longer than that. 

I'm very happy to be where I'm at right now.  It's NICE to type again instead of a painful chore.

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Well, it's good to hear somebody is happy with their progress after four months!

I fully agree with you Janel5; I feel gratitude too. I can honestly say that so far, I have not found anything about Colemak that I don't like. Yes, there is the odd finger repeat. And yes, sometimes my fingers want to do their own thing and make mistakes. I don't blame Colemak for that. That's my fingers at fault. I found this fascinating:

"Cortez Peters said even at 200 wpm he still thought about every single key."

Can you elaborate on this? I've found my speed is faster when I pause to make sure I'm hitting the right key. I always attempt one hundred percent accuacy now. I've found this the surest way of achieving a consistent and accurate speed.

"It is an undoubted truth, that the less one has to do, the less time one finds to do it in." - Earl of Chesterfield

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Thanks for your reply!

It's very interesting the comment on playing piano as I also play, though jazz and cocktail style and I learned as an adult.  I seem to recall Dreymar plays also. Maybe there is some appeal there for the rolls in Colemak. Though I certainly do not have the dexterity of a classical pianist. I wonder if there is any connection in hand position training for the piano and keep the wrists in a more straight position while typing.

It's interesting you comments on experiencing pain and how you feel using Colemak has relieved that.  I gather from the picture that you are using fairly standard staggered keyboards.  It's been claimed that alternative layouts like Colemak that put all the frequent keys on the home row actually force the hands to remain in an unnatural position too much of the time and this can cause pain especially on notebook computers.  It's also been claimed that a major advantages of QWERTY is that typing with it can be done effectively using only 6 or 7 fingers (pinkies not needed).  As some one that had previously topped 110 wpm in Qwerty and now able to hit 80 wpm in Colemak after a few months of training and use, it would be interesting to hear you response.  Were you a strictly correct touch typist on Qwerty?  Could that have been some of the source of the pain and perhaps less conventional, no pinkies style of Qwerty touch typing might have been enough to alleviate the pain?

You don't seem to feel any loss from the loss of your Qwerty tricks that I assume took advantage of the staggered nature of the keyboard and you don't seem to find Colemak limiting in that there aren't alternate fingering tricks like that?   It's claimed that these tricks or secrets are a major advantage of Qwerty and that this advantage of Qwerty is unfairly downplayed. A layout like Colemak or Dvorak is seen as bad because it shuts out these “shortcuts” due to the lower same-finger key presses. What's your experience?

Another claimed major advantage of QWERTY is that a lot of the most common digraphs/trigraphs/suffixes/prefixes found in the most common english words are near to, or next to each other in superblocks - “ASDWERT”, “YIOUL”.   As someone that  touch typed at a high level in Qwerty for many years, does that seem a fair claim from your experience.  And if you consider that an upside for Qwerty, what upsides in Colemak have you felt that compensate for that besides comfort and relief from pain (admittedly, as important as they are)  ?   

thanks for taking the time to respond to these questions in advance.  I think's a good opportunity to fulfill the purpose of the section on Experiences and since Shai's design of Colemak took into consideration ease of adoption by Qwerty typists, your experience is highly relevant.

Personally, not having been a touch typist and gotten by on hunting and pecking for 30 plus years, I could have chosen any layout a year ago and actually start on Dvorak for few weeks before stumbling across Colemak, but what got me willing to commit to Colemak was the large amount of work Shai obviously did to develop it, his rational willingness to apply a threshold as to diminishing returns and say enough and finalize a standard, and then work to make it freely available on all platforms.  I really don't have anyway to relate to why one of the super elite Qwerty typists falls in love with Colemak and then falls out of love with Colemak over a period of time and another doesn't, though I suspect pain is the main factor.

Last edited by keyboard samurai (28-Jun-2008 22:15:48)
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Thanks guys, that's so nice  :-) 

Hm, okay, quotes from simonh and keyboard samurai...

"Cortez Peters said even at 200 wpm he still thought about every single key."
Can you elaborate on this?

It's from that book I mentioned in my second post.  I got it from the library recently and thumbed through it.  That guy could type 200 wpm without errors on a MANUAL typewriter (ouch).  He was strongly against any pushing for speed.  He wanted 100% accuracy, that was most important.  He didn't want any of this "just thinking about the word and let your fingers do the rest" he wanted you to actually think about  the location of every single key. 

I've found my speed is faster when I pause to make sure I'm hitting the right key. I always attempt one hundred percent accuacy now. I've found this the surest way of achieving a consistent and accurate speed.

Yep, I think that's the best way.  It's a bad idea to just fumble through and rely on the backspace all the time. 

I seem to recall Dreymar plays also. Maybe there is some appeal there for the rolls in Colemak. Though I certainly do not have the dexterity of a classical pianist. I wonder if there is any connection in hand position training for the piano and keep the wrists in a more straight position while typing.

I don't think Colemak has much in the way of rolls.  Dvorak sure does.  The moves you make in Dvorak are really beautiful and elegant.  There's a constant sense of inward rolling just like in Chopin's Harp Etude.  The keys just naturally come in clumps that are very easy to remember and I think that contributes to the speeds some people can attain.  I really like Dvorak's having all the vowels and Y on the left and the consonants on the right.  It's just that much easier to remember. 
Dvorak is a more... dare I say natural... layout.  It seems designed with such art behind it.  It's like a masterpiece by Van Gogh
Colemak on the other hand is a 'perfect' layout in a way that human creations are seldom perfect.  It's more like a design produced with CAD.  A bit colder, if you know what I mean. 
I would use Dvorak, I think, despite the loss of the shortcut keys, if it were not for that one huge fault of the overworked right pinky.  R and L are in stupid positions and when I tried Dvorak I was just starting to become aware of some complaints coming from my right 4th and 5th fingers.  That would have gotten worse.  That's a big fault, a big downside that can't be ignored. 
Colemak has NO significant fault, has the keyboard shortcuts and doesn't overwork any finger, so I'm sold...
I can do 80 already and I'm just typing away happily, so maybe next time I'm bored I'll start doing drills again and go snag the top spot for Colemak on the typing test.  I keep that little fantasy in the back of my mind  :-) 

I feel I'm repeating myself, sorry  :-)

I gather from the picture that you are using fairly standard staggered keyboards.

Yep, it's already inconvenient enough to have to install something on a computer before I can type, I wouldn't want to get used to a different /shape/ of keyboard than the standard one. 

It's also been claimed that a major advantages of QWERTY is that typing with it can be done effectively using only 6 or 7 fingers (pinkies not needed).  As some one that had previously topped 110 wpm in Qwerty and now able to hit 80 wpm in Colemak after a few months of training and use, it would be interesting to hear you response.  Were you a strictly correct touch typist on Qwerty?  Could that have been some of the source of the pain and perhaps less conventional, no pinkies style of Qwerty touch typing might have been enough to alleviate the pain?
You don't seem to feel any loss from the loss of your Qwerty tricks...

Okay, some light's dawning for me.  These tricks must be what people use when they don't type with the right fingers.  But I learned to type with the right fingers.  So maybe it's possible to teach onesself to touch-type in Qwerty without using the pinkies at all?  Well I don't know anything about it so I can't comment. 

It's claimed that these tricks or secrets are a major advantage of Qwerty and that this advantage of Qwerty is unfairly downplayed. A layout like Colemak or Dvorak is seen as bad because it shuts out these “shortcuts” due to the lower same-finger key presses. What's your experience?

None  :-) 
Must be pretty well downplayed, I've never even heard of it before.  Is it people who can type really fast in Qwerty who are saying this? 

Another claimed major advantage of QWERTY is that a lot of the most common digraphs/trigraphs/suffixes/prefixes found in the most common english words are near to, or next to each other in superblocks - “ASDWERT”, “YIOUL”.   As someone that  touch typed at a high level in Qwerty for many years, does that seem a fair claim from your experience.

I never heard of that either.  Maybe I was missing out on something in Qwerty all these years? 
Anyway all I get from Qwerty =  yuk yuk gag heave *throw keyboard through window*. 
Qwerty = fingers jumping around over the home row, back and forth, missing the home row since there's nothing important on it, like Olympic athletes going over hurdles again and again.  Qwerty = BAD!!!! 

...I could have chosen any layout a year ago and actually start on Dvorak for few weeks before stumbling across Colemak, but what got me willing to commit to Colemak was the large amount of work Shai obviously did to develop it, his rational willingness to apply a threshold as to diminishing returns and say enough and finalize a standard, and then work to make it freely available on all platforms.

Yep I'm with you there.  Colemak is a wonder and I'm intensely grateful to Shai for it. 

I really don't have anyway to relate to why one of the super elite Qwerty typists falls in love with Colemak and then falls out of love with Colemak over a period of time and another doesn't, though I suspect pain is the main factor.

I know why they do.  I encountered it just the other day at the house of a relative I'd just met.  I had to sit down in front of his girlfriend's computer and look up something on the internet, and of course it's Qwerty which means I'm looking at the keyboard... I said something self-conscious about not being able to type because I switched layouts, and it didn't even register with him, like most people he assumes the keyboard is just the keyboard, a reality to be accepted, and he started crowing about his girlfriend's wonderfulness in the typing department.  He said, "She types so fast you can't see her fingers moving!  She types faster than I can think!  She was a housewife for years and never had a job, but she got hired at the courthouse and she's been promoted and promoted, and it's all because she can type so fast!" 

I just shut up and didn't say any more, it wasn't the place, there were people talking all around us and he just went away, I finished what I was doing and went back to the party... but I was SO absolutely humiliated because, you know, that used to be me and I bet I could beat her...

I would always hear people say, "Oh my God, how do you type that fast??"  People would say it on the phone if they'd hear the keys clicking in the background.  If I was typing at the library people would stop to stare in amazement.  But not any more! 

One time a while back when I visited my sister's office and was sitting there chatting with her, her boss stopped in and said she'd been interviewing people all afternoon and nobody could actually pass the typing test, and my sister said, "Janel can type 100 wpm," and the boss said, "Can I hire you?  Please?  Please?" 

That is why they switch back to Qwerty...

Last edited by Janel5 (29-Jun-2008 15:53:00)
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Janel5 quote:

"It's from that book I mentioned in my second post.  I got it from the library recently and thumbed through it.  That guy could type 200 wpm without errors on a MANUAL typewriter (ouch).  He was strongly against any pushing for speed.  He wanted 100% accuracy, that was most important.  He didn't want any of this "just thinking about the word and let your fingers do the rest" he wanted you to actually think about  the location of every single key. "

Do you know how long and how much practice it took him to get that fast? The only mention of him that I can find on the web is links to his book. Wikipedia has no article on him either...

Edit: Found a couple of brief mentions of both he and his father in obiturary posts. Quite incredible really that they were both so fast. Nature or nurture I wonder. Here is a brief biog of both

http://wikibin.org/articles/cortez-peters-sr.html

Last edited by simonh (29-Jun-2008 21:48:01)

"It is an undoubted truth, that the less one has to do, the less time one finds to do it in." - Earl of Chesterfield

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Interesting insights, Janel5 -- keep them coming.  I am likely one of the folks deemed not sufficiently appreciative of Colemak, so as your closest resident evil counterpoint now that jammycakes is history, here's my take.   I am fairly certain, at this 1-year-mark, that I will stick with Colemak -- and not just from necessity because I have quite crippled my Qwerty skills.

I do find Colemak more comfortable if less speedy, which matches many people's experience.  Sometimes this leads me to think that the comfort may be directly related to the lower speed -- that if I had forced myself to type Qwerty at a lower speed, I would have felt just as comfortable without having to suffer the social consequences of using a non-mainstream layout.  But that's probably just my brain playing advocatus diaboli.  When I look at the movement patterns on Ryan's doodad, I can't believe that the comfort is  merely a function of slowing down.  It is quite obvious that the "virtual" home row in Qwerty is not quite the actual home row, but a ragged line somewhat north of it, but even so, the fluctuations from that home row are higher than in Colemak, and must hurt.

There are other things that make me wonder that the comparison between my Qwerty and Colemak experiences is not as straight-cut as it could have been.  I used to type the bottom row in Qwerty wrong (didn't know any better), and only learned the correct way after switching to Colemak and seeing the suggested fingering.  Maybe I should have tried correct fingering with Qwerty before abandoning it.  But as the Amish say, we grow too soon oldt, und too late schmardt.

Importantly, I don't feel the wrist pain I used to have with Qwerty, but perhaps to satisfy some implacable conservation law, I now feel pain in my right ring-finger and pinky tips.  Not often, but it is unmistakable.  I make myself slow down until I feel better.  I don't know why these fingers should act up -- it may not be typing-related after all.   Maybe the weakness was always there (I remember falling off a bike some years ago and landing heavily on my right hand -- there may be some dead tissue there).  The relatively more importance that Colemak gives to these fingers may be causing them to complain.   (Dvorak would have been worse on these fingers, of course.)

Still, if I had to choose between a pain-free wrist and pain-free fingertips, I think I'll always choose the former.

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Bloody hell. Is that you on hi-games with 99wpm?

Edit: Is that with QWERTY?

Last edited by simonh (03-Jul-2008 18:36:37)

"It is an undoubted truth, that the less one has to do, the less time one finds to do it in." - Earl of Chesterfield

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simonh said:

Bloody hell. Is that you on hi-games with 99wpm?

Edit: Is that with QWERTY?

No, it's not me.  Is there someone with a similar name? 
I got 112 on Qwerty, haven't gone above 80 with Colemak... YET  :-)

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Here's what I've been up to...  www.janelwashere.com 

I haven't given Colemak much thought since my last post, just been using it.  I've been busy with other stuff and only think about Colemak whenever I have to type on someone else's antiquated, awkward Qwerty messed-up worthless offensive arrangement beladen keyboard.  Yuck, how do people stand it? 

I've lost my Qwerty speed and don't care, but then I'm also not employed outside the home :-) 
I use my own computer 99.9% of the time so it doesn't matter.  My Colemak keyboard also keeps ppl's fingers off my computer, a built-in line of defense! 

Whenever I have to type on someone else's comp or at the library for instance, I can make decent speed in Qwerty just by looking at the keyboard.  It's a little awkward to kind of keep the fingers out of the way so I can see what's printed on the keys, you know, but it can be done, so it's not like some nightmare where I suddenly can't type. 

If anybody sees me having to look at the keyboard I just explain with happiness about Colemak and people are usually interested and impressed. 

And my Colemak speed's up to 90 wpm now according to the test. 

I can identify some bumps that I'm feeling, D and G give me trouble, for instance.  If I'd spend a little time with drills I could overcome those bumps and really push my speed up there.  I'll do that next time I've got a little time, maybe in the summer.  This winter's been busy with Christmas and snow.  I still have a fantasy in the back of my mind of capturing the #1 typing spot for Colemak  :-) 
Maybe I will if somebody else doesn't do it first! 

Anyway it's great to have a keyboard that doesn't cause pain and awkwardness, I can just forget it's there, it's such a comfortable tool.  Continued gratitude to Shay for creating it!

Last edited by Janel5 (31-Dec-2008 02:51:52)
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Good to hear from you again. And best of luck with your push for #1!  :)

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

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Congrats to you Janel for switching over. I actually used to type in QWERTY (For the last 10-11 years) and hit about 102 WPM peak, 90+ average I would say. I didn't touch type, but I did jedi type with 4-6 fingers (not looking at keyboard 99% of the time but still typing fast). My friend was talking to me about how he switched to Dvorak while I we were on our way to a business presentation. After what he told me about a more optimized layout, I looked into it and fell in love with Dvorak. I kept thinking about the art and benefits of the layout, and the geek in me just had to do something about that.

Anyways, while I researched more into Dvorak, I found Colemak. I read more into Colemak and the improvements it has over Dvorak and I was sold. The first 2-3 days I mentally memorized the layout, in 2-3 weeks I was at 40-50 wpm, then after that I became lazy and hopeless because of the world standard and stopped using it as my primary layout. About 6 months later, I looked back into Colemak and decided to start typing in it, and I've stuck to it so far. I'm at 70-80 words per minute with letters. Symbols and numbers are still a problem for me.

It's also been claimed that a major advantages of QWERTY is that typing with it can be done effectively using only 6 or 7 fingers (pinkies not needed).  As some one that had previously topped 110 wpm in Qwerty and now able to hit 80 wpm in Colemak after a few months of training and use, it would be interesting to hear you response.  Were you a strictly correct touch typist on Qwerty?  Could that have been some of the source of the pain and perhaps less conventional, no pinkies style of Qwerty touch typing might have been enough to alleviate the pain?
You don't seem to feel any loss from the loss of your Qwerty tricks...

I can reply to this by saying that it is true, you can type very well on QWERTY without touch typing and I actually have a theory that it might be better to not touch type in QWERTY because that layout wasn't even made when touch typing existed officially. Dvorak and Colemak did, and were made with touch typing in mind.

EDIT: Researched Cortez Peters (both) and ended up buying the championship keyboarding drill in hope that it will apply to improve my already 80 wpm Colemak speeds.

ISBN-10: 0072936258
ISBN-13: 978-0072936254

Championship Keyboarding Drills on Half.com
Championship Keyboarding Drills on Amazon.com

Last edited by FearedBliss (01-Nov-2010 07:08:40)
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