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Guinea Pig: First Tarmac User

  • Started by ezuk
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Hello (or rather, heiio, as I first typed by mistake),

I'm going to be the first user to attempt and learn Colemak according to DreymaR's "Tarmac" learning system.

I've just installed "Tarmac Phase 0", which is only changing the positions of the ILU keys from their QWERTY defaults to their Colemak positions.

I'm going to keep using it until I'm comfortable with it. For now, it is surprisingly slow. So that's all I'm going to write at this point... I will keep you posted on my progress.

[Edit:] Just as a note, on pure QWERTY I clocked in at 84 wpm, 43 finger repeats, 10.45 meters travelled (on Hi-Games.net)

Last edited by ezuk (14-Jul-2008 11:43:56)
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Best of luck! Since it's only three keys for now I think you should pick up speed again in a couple of days' time. I changed the position of ZXCVB one step to the left on my own layout, which is easy to learn because you still use the same fingers (just in a more ergonomic position). I had a bit of trouble for about two days with that, then it flowed smoothly thereafter. But since you move three fairly common letters around to new fingerings I feel you should expect a bit more trouble initially.

It'll be interesting to see whether your learning those three keys will make the next steps easier to learn! I think there is such a thing as layout-learning skill.  :)

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Not sure how much of your original QWERTY speed you should go for before trying the next step. Or whether speed measurements is indeed the way to assess when it's time to change. Maybe you should just feel your way.

*** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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Well, this is my second day, and I must say things are becoming much easier.

At first, it was _really_ frustrating. I use a Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 Keyboard, so I can't switch keycaps (every key is shaped differently). So looking at the board only made things more confusing for me.

But now I'm getting used to it! I did experience a drop in wpm, but it's not even close to the drops peopie have been describing here. Initially I dropped to 24wpm (at my very worst, right at the beginning), but now it feels way faster, maybe 40wpm or more.

One potential problem is getting used to digraphs which will not be there in the future. I can't come up with a good example at the moment, but maybe you understand what I mean.

In short, so far -- so good! I'm forging onwards. Not moving to phase 1 yet -- I'm waiting till I'm fully comfortable and stop making silly (sliiy) typos.

BTW, my gf is going to switch to the full Colemak layout on her Ubuntu pc now, including switching keycaps on the keyboard. I hope it goes well for her!

And BTW 2: For some reason I'm not getting emails for topic changes, even though I subscribed and verified my email address. Anyone?

Last edited by ezuk (15-Jul-2008 09:37:59)
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It's all in the finger position!

I'm coming to know myself better as a typist now. And I've made a discovery today:

My finger position when typing QWERTY is totally off. Not even close to home row, or anything like that. I just kinda spread my hands over the keyboard, and make the best of it. And that is actually key to my QWERTY efficiency, because the keys are all over the place.

But Colemak requires very accurate placement of the hands on the home row to work. That's the whole basis to the distance measurements and other metrics which make Colemak so cool.

And with Tarmac Phase 0 (LUI only), I don't get to acquire much finger-positioning skill. So the "L" key, for example, is very awkwardly positioned for me, and is actually quite difficult to reach.

So, I'm considering maybe moving to Phase 1 before growing fully comfortable with Phase 0, because I'm not even sure it's possible to feel fully comfortable with LUI only. And then Phase 1 would force me to position at least my right hand on home row, while my left hand continues roaming free.

It's just a thought, though. For now, I'm sticking with LUI. Just felt like sharing.

Edit: Current hi-games stats: 53 wpm, 31 finger repeats, 6.78 meters travelled.

Last edited by ezuk (15-Jul-2008 15:18:31)
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Yeah, I think you're right: Don't stick too long with the LUI phase but get a little feel for it and move to the next step. As you learn the whole right hand, the digraph problem will be less too I think?

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

Yeah, I think you're right: Don't stick too long with the LUI phase but get a little feel for it and move to the next step. As you learn the whole right hand, the digraph problem will be less too I think?

Yes. I'm actually getting used to it now. I didn't switch to Phase 1 yet, because I'm working on a new, experimental kind of OSD keyboard script. As soon as I have that working well, I'll probably switch (and post the script in the forums, too).

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Up to 60+ wpm on LUI. I think it's time to switch, I'm starting to get used to some digraphs and using finger rolls which are not gonna be there soon.

Will try switching soon, will update my thread (it's like a mini-blog...) when I do.

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Good luck onwards! I'll go for my vacation for the next 2–3 weeks so I can't follow your progress, but I look forward to checking the blog-thread when I'm back from my yearly week in Roman soldier clothing. The Empire cheers you on!

   Hjemsted01-02.jpg

*** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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Wow man! Way to go for the authentic garb! Post some pics on your site when you're back.

And of course, I will update the thread. :)

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OK, I now switched to Tarmac Phase Two - QWERTY Hybrid. Wow, the E and O and N letters are all in strange places!

Now let's see how this goes. I put physical labels on the keys. (This message is short because it's taking forever to write.)

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No no, the N E and O keys are in great places. It's just that you are used to the strange places that QWERTY has them in.

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Korivak -- of course. :) It's just a big change.

----

And a short general update: I'm starting to get used to it. I feel the LUI phase was _really_ helpful. The LUI keys now feel familiar, and I just need to get used to a handful of new keys.

So, if anyone else decides to go Tarmac, I highly recommend sticking with LUI for a week or so, until it becomes familiar.

I'm going to try working with TypeFaster a bit, later on. That will be the first time I really train.

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Just  a small note to let you know I'm still on this. I'm still at Tarmac 2, getting used to the new positions on the right hand. My productivity was not really affected so far, which is great. :)

Hi games: 39wpm, 24 finger repeats, 5.72 meters.

I'm also in the process of gradually sanding the letters off my keyboard, to end up with blank keys.

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Still on Tarmac2. Getting comfortable. I suspect my hi-games scores are affected by pressure while taking the test.

Currently, 40wpm, 26 finger repeats.

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I'm back from my service in the legions again, and still rooting for you. Notwithstanding test results, how does it feel now?

Bzerk has a really cheap blank keyboard, and you can also get stickers – see my keyboard modding thread for instance. If you really want something awesome maybe you should look into the painted board towards the end of that thread?

*** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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Hey man! Welcome back! :)

I'm not giving up on my Ergo 4000. Nothing beats it! :)

Re the feeling -- it feels really nice. I did not experience the "out of control" feeling that comes with cold-turkey switching. It's really becoming natural now.

Thanks for your support! I'm very happy with the path I've chosen. Honestly, if it wasn't for Tarmac, I don't think I would have kept up with Colemak.

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Just did 50wpm with 36 finger-repeats at hi-games. I can't help but feel I'm usually faster -- I wish there was some sort of a "free typing" test, where I can make up my own text (but only words recognized in the dictionary would be counted).

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Heya,

Just to let you know I'm still around. I'm doing well with Tarmac... I'm not sure I feel like moving on. ;) I've grown to like this layout.

Still have some typos, but nothing to irritating.

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I must say I didn't expect it to be as likeable as you say. Interesting. When would you guess you'll be doing the final step?

*** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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To be honest, I don't know. :) I still have typos with Tarmac, but I'm quite comfortable with it. I guess I'll be giving it a few more months - I don't feel like rushing it. :)

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OK, this is it.

I feel it is time to graduate from Tarmac!

I am now moving to Colemak.

Tarmac has been a _great_ way to get a feel for the layout. I don't have any impressive typing speed number, because my personal focus is on comfort rather than speed.

I'm now going to try and install Colemak... Wish me luck. If it's too hard, I always have Tarmac to fall back on. :)

I'd like to thank DreymaR again for opening the door to Colemak for me.

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I'm very happy it worked out for you, and that you feel it's been a helpful idea. Thanks for the detailed updates.

And welcome to Colemak proper! I feel confident you'll love it and feel it's complete in a way the Tarmac isn't, now that both hands will be optimized.

Since your experiment has been a success, maybe the Tarmac should've been advocated in some way. I don't know what Shai thinks about it, but since he has said that he's too busy to maintain multiple versions of the layout I guess someone else should do it and maybe Shai would link to it then. Feel like making a page somewhere? If I'm to do it, I'm afraid it'll be very primitive since I haven't made a web page (worth looking at) in my life. On the other hand, I ought to make a page on all things Colemak (including national layouts, Vim, Tarmac, layout images and frequency diagrams) eventually.

*** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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Maybe the Colemak learning page (https://colemak.com/Learn) could mention this approach? Just a link to this thread or the original one would do, and then people could decide for themselves and ask questions if they felt like it.

*** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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... And it's back to Tarmac!

Yes, the Colemak curve was still too steep for me, especially with a crucial deadline coming up at work. So I went back to Tarmac phase 2. Ahhh, what a sigh of relief!

I'll have to re-try Colemak when I'm less busy.

(As for the Tarmac webpage -- I think it'd have to wait for a less busy time in my life...)

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