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Weak Typing — the Lost Art of the Keyboard

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the i-dint-knwo-hwat-oyure-tlakig-aoutb dept.

Input Devices 362

mikejuk writes "How do you type? Hunt and peck? Two thumbs? Touch type? Two thumbs touch type? For the first time since the computer was invented, the standard QWERTY keyboard is challenged by new ways of inputing text. And yet even the iPad virtual keyboard has two useless dimples on the F and J keys. Perhaps it isn't time to give up on the home keys just yet."

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362 comments

first post (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299234)

that's how I fucking type, BITCH

Whole lot of nothing? (5, Informative)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299250)

Is it just me, or is there nothing to the posted article?

A summary seems to be, "Over a hundred years ago, people learned to touch type. This is the best method! Or is it? Yes, it is, you should learn it. Oh, but it doesn't work on phone keyboards. The two thumb method is better for that. You should learn that one too. Yeah, it sucks that you need to learn two ways to type, but whatcha gonna do? Go get some training software and learn to touch type!"

Thanks for letting us know that typing is a useful skill, I guess.

Re:Whole lot of nothing? (2, Funny)

Spigot the Bear (2318678) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299272)

Thanks for letting us know that typing is a useful skill, I guess.

i wash soneo,e haf yold me thus yeard aho@@@

Re:Whole lot of nothing? (1)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299334)

Speaking of two thumbs method, I really hope that I can buy a decent smartphone that has a slide out keyboard in the future. Having run one thumb through a table saw it doesn't function very well on touchscreens, I'll be very annoyed if all phones go with touch keyboards.

Re:Whole lot of nothing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299734)

Try a BlackBerry Curve or Bold smartphone for a QWERTY keyboard that is second to known for two-thumb typists. Touchscreen is great on a tablet but not on a smartphone for most use cases.

Re:Whole lot of nothing? (1)

narcc (412956) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299766)

If you want a slide-out keyboard, you can't go wrong with the new Blackberry Torch 2 (9810). Though if you plan on typing a good bit, the Bold 9900 has the best smartphone keyboard on the market today.

The future is here now, no need to wait :)

Re:Whole lot of nothing? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299896)

You might want to look into a SawStop.

As for phones, when I borrow my wife's iPhone and use the on-screen keyboard, I never use my thumbs to type on it; I always use my index finger. Efficient? No, but no touchscreen keyboard on a phone is ever going to be efficient; there's no tactile response and no space for full-size keys (or key images rather). I have all my fingers and thumbs BTW.

On a regular QWERTY or Dvorak keyboard, I'm quite fast however.

Re:Whole lot of nothing? (4, Insightful)

kayumi (763841) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299386)

> Is it just me, or is there nothing to the posted article?

How can you say that. This is a concise and insightful analysis
of the history of
the art and practice of the grandest of all
skills from its birth to its current sad state. It is also a great example of another greatly admired skill of using many words to
hide lack of content. The author lays bare
is deepest feeling and
the innermost workings of his brain (image used without permission from the
makers of Hannibal). We should
applaud the author for his efforts and the powers that be at /. for selecting this article as one being worthy for the attention of
not just a few of us but everyone.

Re:Whole lot of nothing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299624)

I see what you did there.

WARNING: BULLSHIT AHEAD (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299252)

This article is worthless drivel.

There is a change in the way we interact with computers and it is mostly due to the use of touch screens. You simply cannot touch type on a mobile phone's virtual keyboard. When presented with such a thing your only option is to use one or at most two fingers. Given the way that the unit is held you also can't use the full keyboard style for a two finger peck. It seems that the best you can do is use two thumbs. This is perhaps the biggest change to typing since the introduction of touch typing. There are even apps and websites that will teach you how to two-thumb touch type. This is a big change because before the touch screen smartphone we only had one major text input device - the full size keyboard - now we also have the virtual keyboard to deal with.

They basically argue that we should teach kids how to thumb type faster than how to touch type. I guess they are supposed to start texting their research papers to their teachers in school to? Oh, and it still somehow manages to avoid a conclusion.

Re:WARNING: BULLSHIT AHEAD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299344)

Sent to prof: R3surch iz hard. Can I haz 3xtnshun?

Re:WARNING: BULLSHIT AHEAD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299398)

Dumber things have happened.

Re:WARNING: BULLSHIT AHEAD (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299508)

I suggest we force the world to go Dvorak, and to hell with QWERTY..

Re:WARNING: BULLSHIT AHEAD (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299788)

I can't believe Dvorak isn't an option as a virtual keyboard on iOS (but not on OSX), it annoys me Apple omitted this from day 1, yet with a decent effort, supports something like Cherokee or Catalan.

depends on the device. (1)

ittybad (896498) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299254)

I can type between 70 and 80 wpm on a standard keyboard. But on this here HTC thunderbolt, I feel that my two thumb hunt and peck is getting me little more than thirty wpm at best. particularly painful is Tue autocorrect when the word or acronym that I want is jot in its database.

typing class in school (5, Insightful)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299262)

When I was in high school I learned to type on big manual Underwood typewriters in typing class. I also learned some other skills in that class that seem to be going the way of a lost art, such as how to properly fold a letter to fit into an envelope.

In my opinion, typing class was the most useful class that I took in high school. I learned skills that I use literally every day.

Re:typing class in school (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299300)

Increasingly, it is no longer taught. I learned similar to you, and could do 72 rpm on those clunky mechanical typewriters, and can now do 110 on computers with easier/shorter key travel.

I'm sure there are exceptions, but it just *pains* me to watch anyone under about 30 try to type. They're terrible, terrible typists. Very slow, lots of mistakes, and they can't touch type so they basically have to watch their hands while they input something.

Then, the new trend to pad computing is hurting too, because on those devices the keyboard has *zero* travel (you need some) and takes up a bunch of the display that you wanted to be using for looking at stuff. Stupid.

Re:typing class in school (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299554)

It's pretty pathetic. I learned on manuals and IBM Selectrics (now there was a kick-ass keyboard), and got my speeds up to 90wpm, a perfectly respectable typing speed for a secretary 20 years ago. It just galls me to look at kids nowadays fumble around on keyboards, getting pathetic speeds with horrific accuracy. The first thing my high school typing teacher did was to break the will of hunt-and-peck typists of their spirit, like some sort of office ed. drill sergeant. It paid off, no one in the class was below 50wpm at the end of the term.

Up until the advent of cheap OCR, I was still being handed stuff to type from copy, and could get into that weird tstate where you no longer see words or sentences, but simply characters. Now, of course, I watch people scanning in a few pages and then spending 20 minutes fixing all the spelling mistakes, and thinking "Ah, my, 15 years ago I could have typed that two or three times over."

Re:typing class in school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299592)

I didn't realise how badly my typing sucked. I'm young and probably could achieve 75-100wpm. I got about 60 on my second test that i just took. I tested on a shitty laptop keyboard. Give me something better and put me in a decent position (not on a bed) and I probably could do half decent.

Re:typing class in school (1)

Aliotroph (1297659) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299564)

I'm under 30, but I had the benefit of being taught to type starting when I was 6. Somebody (probably dad) realized my visual impairment was going to lead me to using computers for everything and therefore I should spend a lot of time at school learning to type. It amazes half my friends how fast I can touch type and I'm not really very fast (between 60 and 80 wpm in most cases). My speed was terrible until I took the optional typing course in high school. Perhaps half the course was typing and the rest was about using things like Paint and Word.

At no point in school did they ever really force anyone to learn touch typing. There was a half-hearted effort in grade 4 and that was about it. It amounted to "do this exercise today and you can play Oregon Trail." I was completely appalled at this by the time I was in high school. They were having us do all sorts of assignments with computers, but there was no effort anywhere in education to even try and have a basic standard for computer knowledge.

I learned to type using the same sort of materials my mom used in the 70s. For her it means she can type really fast and uses all kinds of manual tabbing tricks to format documents in MS Word. For me it means I can type faster when looking at something else to copy than I can when looking at the screen.

Re:typing class in school (1)

hldn (1085833) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299716)

i'm 27 and we were required to take keyboarding in high school and touch typing was stressed. anyone that was having trouble got a cardboard blind that fit over your hands/keyboard so you couldn't even look at the keyboard if you tried.

i'd been using computers for nearly a decade at that point and i was terrible at touch typing, but that class forced me to learn quickly ;D

Re:typing class in school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299642)

I'm 17 it was taught in elementary school to me. Maybe my school was just different?

Re:typing class in school (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299360)

The quick brown fox humped the lazy dog

Re:typing class in school (1)

nerdonamotorcycle (710980) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299382)

Yeah, most long-term-useful class I took in high school as well, in the early 1980s. Although we were a rich school district and had the luxury of IBM Selectrics. (Which probably accounts for my love of the IBM Model M buckling-spring keyboard.)

Re:typing class in school (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299390)

Totally agree. Thought it sucked at the time that I had to learn, but now I can punch out this comment so fast, and accurate, it was totally worth it. And I also learnt other skills such as document formating, document naming conventions, and oh, how to not bash the crap out of keyboard...

Amazes me the things that are clearly important for life that are no longer taught - perhaps it should be a requirement of any degree or certification.

Re:typing class in school (1)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299566)

Glad to see that I'm not alone in that regard. I learned in 7th grade with a personal typing class. I took off and got right up to 60 wpm. I've typed medical transcription for years and years and I'm fast, probably more 85-90 wpm.

Re:typing class in school (1)

hawk (1151) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299656)

Summer school between seventh & eighth grades.

Boy were my teachers happy about not having to read my handwriting any more . . .

I used to be abled to do 100wpm on a manual. I can't hit those speeds any more, but I'm still fast enough that some people haven't believed I w actually typing until they looked at the screen.

Ive only had one secretary who could type faster than I do (and she used to compete [seriously!])

Anyway, everyone is missing the most important thing here: how would we play nethack without qwerty keyboards? Movement just wouldn't make sense!

hawk, who has only ascended four times, anyway

Re:typing class in school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299702)

Same here. As I recall, the last thing on earth I wanted to be was a secretary, but typing was the only elective I hadn't yet taken so I took it. LOL! I'm thankful now that I begrudgingly learned to type on that old manual machine with the blank keys 40 years ago. I could have never foreseen that the balance of my adulthood would be spent with my fingers permanently fastened to a keyboard.

Touch Typing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299280)

Easily the most useful manual skill I chose to learn. So much faster, fewer typos, less stressful. How anyone who types professionally can forfeit the advantages of touch typing is beyond me.

Re:Touch Typing (1)

DarkVader (121278) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299648)

It's easy how they could forfeit the "advantages" since they aren't really there.

I've seen programmers who could do 120 wpm using five fingers, three on the right hand and two on the left hand.

I used to be able to do about 90 wpm, then somebody got the damn fool idea that I should take a typing class in high school. It took over five years before my speed was close to what it was as a good hunt-and-peckist, and that was a real problem when I was in college at the same time. I'd have gone back to my old technique, but once I'd started with touch typing it didn't work any more, I couldn't get it back. I've finally gotten the speed back many years later, but it was completely unnecessary that I had to go through those years of slow typing.

We need to get over this outdated notion that there's a "right" way to use a keyboard. There isn't.

Re:Touch Typing (1)

orangesquid (79734) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299808)

"We need to get over this outdated notion that there's a "right" way to use a keyboard. There isn't."

That's probably true. There isn't necessarily one best way to use the keyboard, I don't think, especialy since finger propertions and keyboards themselves vary a little bit. But, there are definitely wrong ways to use a keyboard that can lead to repetitive strain injury.

Btw, I never took a touch typing class, and my standard "home" position gradually evolved to be *close* to that of a touch typist, but isn't quite (A-W-E-F on left hand, J-I-O-L on right hand). My speed is probably over 90wpm usually (been a while since I've taken a test). No typos while typing this post, no looking at keyboard. Being forced into touch-typing (arg, just made a typo as soon as I said it, but in my defense my cell phone was sitting on the monitor and it just went haywire for a second), I probably would've been slowed down like you were. I'd hate to see someone who was a self-taught typist end up with some sort of RSI, though!

Keyboard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299306)

http://www.theonion.com/video/apple-introduces-revolutionary-new-laptop-with-no,14299/

I'm an outlier (1)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299314)

I touch-type with one hand, just because I can. It's not particularly fast or accurate compared to the other styles, but I can lay down or hold a drink while typing that way.

Re:I'm an outlier (4, Funny)

garcia (6573) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299468)

You're not holding a drink. You're not kidding most of the people on this website dude. ;-)

Re:I'm an outlier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299828)

Why wouldn't he be drinking a bottle of the strawberry milk that his mom stocks up for him in the basement fridge? I'd be guzzlin' that down too!

Re:I'm an outlier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299558)

I touch-type with one hand, just because I can

Left / right handed Dvorak, or bastardized usage of qwerty?

Re:I'm an outlier (1)

YojimboJango (978350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299662)

I actually learned how to do this when I broke my right hand years ago. At my best I was able to hit about 25 words/minute, so no speed records were broken, but to this day it helps me drink coffee and code at the same time, or use a mouse. Once you master how to do it you can seamlessly move between typing styles depending on what you need.

It's also been a horrible habit as it caused me to put my coffee down next to my mouse numerous times. Learn to single hand type with your right hand or get a track ball.

Touch typing and two thumbs. (1)

NullSolaris (1068138) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299316)

I can type without looking on both a normal keyboard, and on my Blackberry. Honestly, I always thought this was pretty common, especially since I picked it up simply by virtue of how much time I spend on the computer. I had typing classes in school, yes, but I looked right at the keyboard during them. :P Also, a bit of a slow news day here, huh?

Sensationalist crap (2, Funny)

Nimey (114278) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299326)

This sort of sensationalism never would have been allowed back when Taco was running things.

Weak typing? (5, Informative)

Mensa Babe (675349) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299336)

The term weak typing [wikipedia.org] means something very specific in computer science, namely a property attributed to the type systems of some programming languages that have either implicit type conversion, ad-hoc polymorphism or both. Using it as the title of this story that has absolutely nothing to do with type systems [wikipedia.org] whatsoever, together with putting it in the "developers" section and tagging it with "programming", is highly misleading as it make us all anticipate a story worth reading which it certainly is not. I can only sympathise with all of the fellow Slashdotters expressing their disappointment. It would be nice if the stories where better titled next time. Thank you.

Re:Weak typing? (1)

Courageous (228506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299578)

On the plus side, perhaps I have found someone who will finally I understand me. I've had to explain with frustration to many a C "programmer" that python is dynamically, but strongly typed. It seems the entire school of programmers descending from "C" thing static typing = strong typing. Which is amusing, because C is weakly typed.

I use something other than touch/home keys (2)

Harald Paulsen (621759) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299376)

I never learned touch correctly, but I do type pretty fast without looking by using a weird combination of fingers. I rest my hands in a sort of home-position, but then I use fewer fingers to type. It's what have worked best for me. To describe how I use my fingers would be very weird, but one could say for most of my typing I use 3 fingers on each hand, in addition to right thumb for space and right pinky for enter/return.

When I write code I usually spend more time thinking than typing, so speed haven't really been an issue. I score 60+ WPM and allthough that is a far cry from the 120WPM mentioned in the article it really is fast enough for me.

It's not that hard! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299406)

I actually paid attention in keyboarding class, so I type like a normal person.

Umm. No. (5, Interesting)

nashv (1479253) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299410)

I RTFA. Besides the fact that the author seems capable of writing a 1000 page essay in an attempt to convince the reader that 'grass is green', the article also does not take into account that typewriters have staggered heights rows of keys.

Staggered keys are more suitable for touch typing - the P key is at a higher row than the L key, and this is good, because your little finger can be lifted up high easily to reach the P key. On many modern keyboards though, keys are flat - especially on the chiclet style keyboards most laptops have. This means you have to stretch your fingers far in order to reach some keys while adhering to the touch type system. No matter much you stretch, your pinkie is not going to reach the Backspace key for example, without some odd contortions of your hand. This is just inefficient and awkward.

Of course, the hunt and peck method is slow. The obvious easiest system to work with is what we do intuitively after some time on computers - use all your fingers and whichever finger is closest to hit the required key.

Re:Umm. No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299576)

Not stretch to hit the backspace?

Wow, you must have the smallest hands ever, try buying a mini-keyboard or something. I can hit backspace, and even the keys above backspace with minimal effort while keeping the touch-type position, by just slightly rotating my wrist.

So that's why ..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299650)

On many modern keyboards though, keys are flat - especially on the chiclet style keyboards most laptops have.

No wonder I hate those fucking things!

Chiclet keyboards ... like the Apple ones? God I hate those! Now, I know why.

Re:So that's why ..... (1)

PNutts (199112) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299746)

The only reference to Apple in the 20 or so computers listed having chiclet keyboards is the Apple II. FYI: They've changed.

I hate to tell you this... (1)

SwedishChef (69313) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299670)

But the backspace key on a typewriter is (was) also unreachable by pinkie. And if you closely examine your keyboard you may notice that the keys on that are also slightly elevated. Not to the same level as a typewriter but still enough to make touch typing on a kb more efficient than whatever system you're advocating.

Re:I hate to tell you this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299704)

Could that have something to do with if you hit backspace, you had probably made an error?

Re:I hate to tell you this... (1)

nashv (1479253) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299724)

It maybe a local effect, but I mostly see ultra-slim chiclet style keyboards these days , and personally use a Macbook Pro. So no, these keyboards do not have any elevation on upper rows. Everything is flat.

Depends on finger strength and coordination (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299422)

I suspect that whether typing the "right way" is faster depends on the individual more than is normally acknowledged. If one's little fingers are too weak or too poorly coordinated, one might well do better to type with, say two or three fingers of each hand plus thumbs.

I can type at around 84-100wpm on QWERTY. I did 100wpm a couple of years ago on an online test; I just got 84wpm on an online test with no mistakes (other than ones I corrected as part of the 84wpm), but I thought it was kind of a vicious test since it was a passage from Shakespeare, and I had to make more corrections than I normally would. But I don't use my little fingers for anything but shift keys and enter--I just don't have the dexterity for hitting letter keys with the little fingers. I think I also rarely use my right ring finger--it's not well-coordinated. (To be honest, I don't know exactly what exactly my fingers are doing. My index fingers are centered on F and J and the other fingers do weird stuff that does the job fast--I don't usually pay attention to the fingers.)

For a couple of years, the computer I used at home had a Dvorak keyboard (I even spent the time to write a driver for it, then stuck key labels on and used a typing tutor program to learn it properly). I typed properly, by-the-book, with all ten fingers on the Dvorak keyboard, while typing in my usual messy five or six finger plus thumbs way on QWERTY on other computers. I didn't benchmark it, but it was my impression that (a) I wasn't any faster at typing "correctly" on Dvorak with ten fingers than typing "incorrectly" on QWERTY, and (b) I found the effort of typing with ten fingers unpleasant. So I abandoned the Dvorak keyboard. I suspect that if I typed on QWERTY with all ten fingers, it would be even worse than typing ten-fingered on Dvorak.

Re:Depends on finger strength and coordination (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299580)

The first thing we were taught in my typing class was to stop reading what we were typing. To a well-trained and experienced touch typist it should be irrelevant whether what they're typing is ""Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him", or "Mr. Stevens agreed to meet with the principals at 4:00PM on Friday to work out the details for the transfer" or "sadjlkj aoirwtoiqj34t nas904845$$42jgf".

If you're making mistakes because the text is hard, you're reading the text, and that not only means higher error rates, it also means you're not typing as fast as you could.

Re:Depends on finger strength and coordination (1)

pruss (246395) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299822)

(That was my comment you're responding to--sorry, I wasn't logged in.) Surely you need to put the text that you're typing into short-term memory in order to type it, and the more familiarly the text is organized, the easier it's to do that. I would be surprised if you found a study that shows that touch typists type as quickly in an unfamiliar foreign language as in their native language.

Besides, in real life just about the only texts I type are texts that I am composing while I'm typing them. (The exception is when I am typing in a quotation from a source where I can't copy and paste.) Hence they're rather familiar. :-) So the skill of typing things without awareness of content is pretty useless to me (and I expect to the majority of keyboard users in our day--gone are the days when most people using keyboards were secretaries transcribing texts written by others).

Re:Depends on finger strength and coordination (1)

Sam Douglas (1106539) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299606)

I was never formally taught how to touch type, and I sort of developed an ad-hoc style on QWERTY. It was fast enough for me, but after a few years I was getting quite bad strain in the back of my hands if I typed too much. I don't really type faster on Dvorak, but it has fixed bad habits I developed with Qwerty and I don't get hand strain when typing. (It has probably made me a better touch-typist because I never rearranged the keys on my keyboard)

Re:Depends on finger strength and coordination (1)

pruss (246395) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299864)

I had some strain in grad school but haven't had any strain in the 12 years since (and it's not like I've been writing significantly less than in grad school--I've written two books and a lot of articles since grad school). I wonder if my ad hoc style has evolved in a way that avoids strain by including a randomization that makes for less repetitiveness of motion (or maybe some other feature of the ergonomics has improved--I do a lot of writing on a laptop while lying down nowadays).

My Own Layout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299426)

Personally I've altered my own keyboard layout after reading about the subject. There are a lot of 'alternatives' out there, but I've settled upon moving UIO to the centre row, putting Q where Y used to be (the hardest letter key to reach I find) and rearranging some of the punctuation so that it better suits my needs when PHPing and HTMLing.

JWERTQKYLP
ASDFGHUIO
ZXCVBNM

Touch typing strains the hands a lot more (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299456)

I've never been a touch typer, but using my computer extensively i gave it a shot and started practicing. After a week i had to give up because of the intense strain it puts on the hand and its tendons. I wouldn't be surprised if this style of typing is a considerable contributor to the typing-related diseases office workers deal with.

I went back to the novice way of 1-2 finger pointing style typing. It employs larger joints and muscle groups that seem to be able to handle the necessary movement much easier. I realized this is not an option for certain jobs, but my experiences helped me make up my mind.

My 2 c.

MMOs Ruined me (1)

McGuirk (1189283) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299484)

I use a very mouse-oriented keyboard style that helps much in games with text-chat and mouse control.

I use my left hand like normal touch typing. But for me right hand, everything is done with the index finger. I have no idea what my WPM is. My buddy is a very proficient touch-typist, and I'm not as fast as him, but I am faster than most people I know. I'm never wanting for more speed. I can type about as fast as I can think of what to type.

The purpose here being that I can quickly take my hand off the mouse and not have to worry about repositioning my right hand, I just fling it over and get going.

However, as nice as that is for games and message boards, it limits my effectiveness when using word processors or coding. I can type using the traditional home rows, but I have to explicitly restrain my index finger, and as a result type very slowly =\

repetitive stress injury (1)

karthikg (322896) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299490)

Typing fast may not be the concern; programmers need to spend more time thinking than producing typed output. Using all fingers helps reduce the risk of muscle damage compared to using only two or three fingers (like carpal tunnel syndrome). Also keeping head straight looking at the screen rather than looking down and up can reduce stress on the neck muscles. I would say the benefit to our physical health outweighs more than any other efficiency in support of touch typing.

Whatever works best for you (1)

KalvinB (205500) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299540)

I primarily use the middle finger and pointer finger of both hands and the right thumb (space) and left pinky (shift). I can also very accurately type about 75 wpm without looking at my fingers or screen and recognize and correct errors without looking at the screen. I've been programming, writing papers, etc for 20 years now. There's a lot of muscle sense built up.

I only do short texts so speed doesn't matter. Most of the time typing is spent thinking about what you're writing. The only time I hit 75 wpm is when I'm doing a typing test. So the only thing that really matters is comfort, not speed. I use the fingers I use because I don't have to contort my hand in uncomfortable positions to type. So type however is comfortable for you. That's going to be the fastest way for you.

Dvorak (1)

jonahbron (2278074) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299550)

Qwerty is just like the English measurement system. It's horrible, but too deeply set (at least in the US) into society to change easily. I learned the Dvorak layout a while back, and like it waaayyy better than Qwerty. There's not nearly as much strain, and practically everything you type is on the home row. Because most computers are still configured to use Qwerty, I do maintain that layout; it's pretty easy to go from one to the other after some practice. Rarely have I encountered compatibility problems: even Ctrl+Z and Ctrl+S are a habbit now.

Dvorak FTW! [dvzine.org]

P.S. vim is better on non-qwerty layouts than emacs ;)

Re:Dvorak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299622)

Personally I find DVORAK quite horrid for computer use.

Re:Dvorak (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299654)

yep learning and maintaining speed and accuracy on 2 systems is a very good way to drive yourself nuts

I used Dvorak back when, I never found it better, never worse. I also never bothered putting much effort into it cause there are like what? now 8 people in the world that would actually admit to using it?

Re:Dvorak (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299708)

I've learned to type on AZERTY but have for most of my professional life used QWERTY. I had a stint with DVORAK but we techies type code and e-mails, not prose (although it would be much easier if either looked more like prose). The people that should benefit from DVORAK (are there any actual scientific tests that prove it is better?) have probably never heard there are different keyboard layouts in the world or how you can change them.

In the mean time, for most intents and purposes I want a keyboard I can smash someone in the head with. The Apple Keyboards are fine if you don't have much space and the one on my MacBook Pro is large enough too especially with the adaptive backlight. But all other manufacturers should follow the above 3 examples. Make it big enough for me not to feel cramped, make it small enough to fit in a tight space, make it beneficial in any circumstance you use a laptop in or DON'T MAKE IT.

Microsoft & Logitech, I'm talking to you. What are those little rubber buttons on the top of my keyboard - couldn't integrate them with the Function Keys - I have to lift my hand on top of a ridge to play music? Dell, why does the keyboard keep falling off it's little feet? HP, what the f* where you thinking with your dinky mess - it drops off someone's desk and the keys pop off? Toshiba, why are the multimedia/system controls lit up with a bright red or blue LED that has a reflection on the screen but there is no backlight especially since you have a totally awkward layout for the dead keys?

slashdot poll? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299582)

How about a slashdot poll?

About Touch Typing:

A Never head of it.
B Heard of it, but don't care.
C Heard of it and want to learn.
D I am learning.
E I have learned.

ipad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299634)

>> even the iPad virtual keyboard has two useless dimples on the F and J keys

As if ipad is torchbearer in keyboards - it does not even have a real keyboard.

Fanboi fail.

Blank keyboard == speed (1)

ripdajacker (1167101) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299658)

The thing that really allowed me to get some typing speed was a blank keyboard. A few years back I painted my keyboard black and got used to not having any labels to look at.

Later I bought the Das Keyboard ultimate, which improved my speed even more.

My typing is not 100% correct, but is quite fast. To answer the question in TFA, should you learn it? Probably yes, since everything is done on a computer these days, and you might as well do it efficiently.

I'm gonna summarize this one for everyone (1)

YojimboJango (978350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299680)

I RTFA. I still don't know what it was that I saw. Maybe if the author knew how to type he'd be able to get a coherent thought down before rambling on like a vagrant on amphetamines.

Woah (1)

atomicbutterfly (1979388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299732)

I didn't even notice those dimples on the F/J keys until reading the summary. I've gone through life without noticing them on keyboards for some reason (or I either noticed them once but forgot about them). I'd still argue I'm a pretty good typing though. Shows how useless they are I guess.

Re:Woah (1)

atomicbutterfly (1979388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299748)

Oh, and before anyone points out the obvious, the missing "at" between good and typing is more about a lack of proof-reading than typing skill. :)

Get Off My Keyboard! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299750)

In my day, we typed up-hill both ways in the snow! And our little fingers froze to the keys! And we liked it, by-gum!

To answer the question (1)

Cloud K (125581) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299752)

Sort of like QWERTY touch typing, but without any sort of structure

It's more like my fingers learned it over 25 years.

Computers did not start with typewriter keyboards (1)

Gim Tom (716904) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299806)

I am an old geezer geek so I have had to type on everything from a Model 33 TTY and an 026 keypuch machine on up (that was after I was able to give up using the toggle switches to communicate my wishes in Octal. Even the Hex Keypad was an improvement there. It was not uncommon for many of us OLD TIMERS to be using half a dozen or more different keyboard layouts as recently as the early 1980's! Not only were a LOT of the keys in different places they all had a very different "feel" and with a TTY (which was usually punching paper tape -- NOT directly connected to a computer) or the two different model keypunch machines I often used it was much more important NOT to make a typo than it is now! Ever try to backspace over or erase a hole?

I never was formally taught touch typing, but a very smart grandmother of mine bought me the touch typing book that was in use in high schools at the time and I did follow the lessons and pretty much taught myself to use the home keys and not look at the keyboard. The one thing I NEVER learned to do well was TRANSCRIBE from another document. That was not the reason I wanted to learn to type. I needed to type in order to be able to WRITE papers for my college classes. I can compose just fine, and that is the skill I needed.

When my employer bought their first PC for use as a word processor back in 1984, I spent each afternoon (and a good bit of the evening) learning both the PC itself and Word Star and then holding a class each morning with the executive secretaries to teach them both the use of the PC and Word Star. However, it was not long before they were not transcribing from hand written pages either. In a very few short years their bosses were doing the writing on their PC's and the secretaries were functioning more as editors to clean up and format what their bosses had written.

Being able to compose and type reasonably fast and accurately without looking at the keyboard is an important skill now. Being able to transcribe text from one document to another at a high rate of speed may be useful in some occupations (court reporter?) but it is not necessary for programming or other more technical trades.

Slashdot is dead (with link) (1)

PNutts (199112) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299836)

When the conversation does turn to technology, Microsoft and Apple are bashed with information that is often years old and often not relevant to the topic. It seems there's been a flood items posted recently (coincidence with Taco gone?) and I'm struggling to find "News for Nerds and Stuff that Matters". But I am still bitter from a post I recently made with an excerpt from a published article with the citation requested by the authors that was yanked and the misinformation/guessing continued unabated. Apparently number of posts is more important than accuracy. As an old fart I come hear to hear and learn about the technologies I don't use and look at the folks with high IDs to be the fresh youngsters doing cutting edge stuff. Instead there are mostly foks defending criminal technological behavior and a generally emotional lack of respect for the issues surrounding the responsibilities of IT.

Oh,well. To get back on topic: I type with my hands (more specifically, my fingers and thumbs). No. No. Yes. No.

Fascinating.

Anyway, here's the link to a list of sites that are dead or dying, Slashdot included.
http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/08/24/gawker-7-other-formerly-popular-sites-dead-or-dying/ [foxnews.com]

Some people just can't learn (2)

MpVpRb (1423381) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299852)

I have been programming since 1972. Wrote a lot of useful code. Have a solid reputation as a master programmer. Made employers happy enough to pay me well.

But, I can't touch type. I tried to learn, but there is something about my brain that just can't get it. (I also tried and failed to learn how to play the piano.)

I don't view this as a handicap. I spend more time thinking than typing, so my overall productivity isn't affected. Besides..I can type fairly fast with 2-4 fingers.

Key to your dreams (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37299872)

Can we pretend that airplanes are like shooting stars? 'cause I could really use a wish right now.. wish right now..

make a wish: http://www.real-wishes.com

  [real-wishes.com]
  wish

Back on the Linotype... (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299882)

It was a lot harder with 6 rows of keys.

Damned keyboard had 90 keys and prepared hot metal type to then do the printing.

In the days of old, when type was hot
And papers indeed were pressed
Slugs were laid in a metal slot
And papers came out of press

I think SWYPE will overcome typing (1)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299888)

When I started doing SWYPE on my Android device, I realized the keyboards days where numbered.

Can I type on my phone faster than my computer? No. But what about an enhanced system based on SWYPE on a keypad that is the size of a standard keyboard? Oh, and if you hit a button in the corner, the 100 most common English letter words appear (which are one fourth the words you type). And instead of laying it out like a QWERTY, you lay it out with the five vowels large, and the constants surrounding them. You would barely ever type three letters without the correct word guess appearing for you to tap.

I learned to type in a Compuserve chat room (2)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#37299900)

The typing classes I took in high school really didn't help that much, considering we were using typewriters that were so old the ink was faded out even when we changed in a fresh ribbon - the actual keys had been worn down over time and just didn't strike as crisply as they did 50 years previously when they were installed! It wasn't until around 1996 when my parents signed up for Compuserve and I started hanging around in the Teen Spirit chat room that I learned to touch type and to type fast. Very fast. I also have the valuable skill of being able to read something from paper and type it blindly onto the screen without making too many mistakes, which is true touch typing and definitely a dying art. Unfortunately, chat rooms have been replaced with Facebook, where replying fast and furious is no longer necessary. Kids today are missing out.
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