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Keyboarding 101 by TheInformationator

post #1 of 65
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So, you met your girlfriend in Starcraft and you've got a level 100 Charizard. You're the uberpoop, right? WRONG. You're a noob. Your girlfriend can type faster than you. Heck, your girlfriend's grandmother can type faster than you. With her feet. And she lost both legs in the war.

Your typing is slower than slow-motion video of a sloth on vicodin playing in slow motion. If you don't get your act together then GosuChick92 is going to dump you right on your Pokémaster derrière.

Let me guess, you noobed your way through typing class? Yeah, yeah, CTRL+C, CTRL+V. We know the drill. You were probably looking up stats in your pokédex instead of leveling up your words per minute. If it hasn't sunk in yet, let me make it simple for you.

If you...

...look at your fingers when you type...
...don't use all of your fingers when you type...
...type slower than 60wpm...
...met your girlfriend in Starcraft?! (seriously, what the heck?!)...

...then you are in dire need of an intervention. That time is now. Push your mountain dew aside. Stop refreshing Digg. Take a break from YouTube.

Lets just stop and think about this. You'll be setting aside a little time now for more speed later. Most people I've talked to about this say it's too much trouble. It's not much trouble compared to the culmination of wasted time and inconvenience you'll have for the rest of your life from being a sluggish typist!

I type over 100 words per minute (WPM). I used to think that was ridiculously fast... Unreachable, in fact. And yes, there are plenty of people out there that can top me, but the point is this: I was able to achieve that speed despite being miserably slow in the past, and being able to touch type rapidly has proven invaluable in so many circumstances. The same is true for you. With a little work on the front end, you could be typing very fast later.

In college, there were times when I had 20 minutes to type a full page of text and because of my typing speed I was able to complete my assignment and print it in time for class. There have also been times when my little sis was exhausted and she had to transcribe handwritten notes onto the computer. What would've taken her an hour took me 5 minutes during a TV commercial break. In Unreal Tournament 2004, between the time I jump off a ledge and land on the ground I'm able to type messages to my teammates. And, best of all, when my deaf roommate needed an interpreter, I was able to touch-type closed captions in real time for him. There are so many other circumstances when my typing speed has come in handy and I'm sure it'd be the same for you.

Instead of feeling like you have to summarize what you want to say, or using abbreviations you can simply type entire words and sentences, no more, no less. Being inhibited by your typing speed will be a thing of the past. Speaking of the past, lets talk a little about the history of the ever present QWERTY layout. (OOH, AWESOME SEGWAY)



The odds are you type on a QWERTY keyboard. If you don't know what that means, then just look at the top row of letters on your keyboard starting from the left. The first six keys spell QWERTY, and (I know, I know) AMAZINGLY enough, that also happens to be the name of that particular keyboard layout. While this is the most prevalent keyboard layout, it is not the most efficient. In fact, it's terrible. It's DESIGNED to make you type slowly. Why have the powers that be sabotaged your typing speed? First, take a look at this:



That's a mechanical Remington Typewriter from the 1940s. THE NINETEEN FORTIES PEOPLE. The layout has been around a lot longer than the 1940s, however. We have to go back almost a century and a half to see where this all started. In the late 1860s Christopher Latham Sholes invented the first typewriter with an ABCDEFG layout. Typists quickly learned the format and became so fast that they started jamming the keys. This was when the evil spawn-child of typing was born. Sholes, with the help of his brother in law, created and implemented QWERTY. The goal was to place the most-used keys far from one another in order to slow typists down. The effect was immediate: Typists typed slower and it took them far longer to learn the format, if ever. That's the real problem with most typists today as well. The format is so convoluted that most people don't even bother to learn it by memory. Why is it still here decades later? Well, why do cars still run on gasoline? Why isn't America using the metric system? I don't know, I guess people in power want it that way...



Frankly I hate QWERTY and wish it were done away with. If you despise the inefficiency of QWERTY like I do, then I have good news for you! ...Sort of... There's another, much more efficient keyboard layout called the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, or simply "Dvorak". Check it out:



The name Dvorak stems not from the arrangement of the letters, but rather, carries its creator's namesake, August Dvorak, who patented the layout in 1936. Unlike QWERTY which was apparently designed by having a baboon throw excrement at an alphabet board, Dvorak has a lot of science behind it. Wikipedia says it better than I can, so here you go:
  • Letters should be typed by alternating between hands.
  • For maximum speed and efficiency, the most common letters and digraphs should be the easiest to type. This means that they should be on the home row, which is where the fingers rest, and under the strongest fingers.
  • The least common letters should be on the bottom row, which is the hardest row to reach.
  • The right hand should do more of the typing, because most people are right-handed.
  • Digraphs (EX: th, gh, qu) should not be typed with adjacent fingers.
  • Stroking should generally move from the edges of the board to the middle. An observation of this principle is that, for many people, when tapping fingers on a table, it is easier going from little finger to index than vice versa. This motion on a keyboard is called inboard stroke flow.
Thankfully, you don't have to actually own a keyboard with a hardwired Dvorak layout to use it. Any computer with a modern-day operating system can change the keyboard layout within its software. On Windows XP you can change the format by going here: Control Panel->Regional and Language Options>Languages Tab>Details... Button. If you use a Mac, well, figure it out yourself you hippie.

Of course, changing the layout within the software won't change the keys on your keyboard, so whether or not you opt to pop the keys off of your keyboard and rearrange them is up to you. There are a lot of benefits to Dvorak. Firstly, you get mad geek points for even knowing it exists, let alone typing on it. Secondly, it's a lot easier on your fingers and typically allows you to type faster than if you were typing on a QWERTY layout. Plus, if you leave your keyboard in the QWERTY layout and swap the software layout to Dvorak it keeps people from using your computer. The letters on the keys don't match what they type, and even if they happened to know your password, they'll be incapable of typing it in unless they know you use Dvorak.

Dvorak is like a piece of gold dropped in a juicy turd, though; even if you do learn it, there will inevitably be a time in your life when you need to use a QWERTY keyboard, and then you're jacked because you've forgotten the QWERTY layout. Furthermore, common shortcuts like CTRL+(Z, X, C, V, etc.) aren't easy "left-handers" because those keys are in different positions. I'm sure you can change this somehow as well, but that just makes things even more confusing.

Despite its drawbacks, Dvorak is pretty awesome. There was a time when I was determined to be er... "bilingual" in the world of keyboarding. I maintained my memorization of QWERTY while slowly building my abilities in Dvorak. At my best, I could type 102WPM in a QWERTY typing test, then immediately swap to Dvorak and score 21. I know, kind of a lame Dvorak score, but it is crazy how messed up your head can get swapping between formats. Dvorak is comfortable to type on, and its efficiency was well demonstrated by Barbara Blackburn, who peaked at 212WPM, and managed to maintain an average of 150WPM for 50 minutes. She achieved these world records with the Dvorak layout.



I'm not going to mislead you, its taken me years of practice to get this fast, but this isn't piano, guys. It's not like I practice for 8 hours on a typing program every day. Once you fix your form, you're set. So, it'll take some extra work on the front end, but once you can type without looking at your fingers, then you're only going to get faster and faster. Around 7 years ago I got fed up with my pathetic typing abilities, downloaded a free typing program called "TypingMaster", and could soon touch type. At first I was stuck at 50WPM. A year later I was at 76WPM. A year later I was at 91WPM. A year later I hit 102WPM. I just tested myself again and I got 103WPM on a 2-minute test of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" on www.typingtest.com using the QWERTY layout. How have I maintained these speeds? ...nothing special. I haven't done anything but use my computer like normal. (Granted, "normal" usage for me is many hours a day)

This article isn't so much about teaching you how to type as much as it is informing you of your options and motivating you. It's not a matter of whether or not you have a teacher as much as it is an issue of whether or not you simply get started. I encourage you all to fix your form, avoid abbreviating things unnecessarily, and enjoy the benefits of touch typing. Unless you've got functional polydactyly or were in some kind of industrial accident, you've got 10 fingers, so I suggest you use them all rather than poke around like some kind of modern-day technological neanderthal.

The same program I used 7 years ago is still available in its upgraded form here. Download it and get to work! Trust me, you can do it.

This has been another FAQ by:


Credits:
Typewriter Photo: http://sharepointmagazine.net/wp-con...typewriter.jpg
History of QWERTY Info: http://abckeyboard.co.uk/qwerty.htm
World's Fastest Typist: http://web.syr.edu/~rcranger/blackburn.htm
Dvorak Design Info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dvorak_Simplified_Keyboard
Dvorak Keyboard Layout: http://www.microsoft.com/enable/imag...s/kbdvorak.gif
Edited by TheInformationator - 8/12/09 at 9:07am
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post #2 of 65
Did you type this guide in dvorak or qwerty?
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post #3 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by McStuff View Post
Did you type this guide in dvorak or qwerty?
ROFL

post #4 of 65
I want to see Info's hands typing.

Also, is there a noticeable difference in speed when using a keyboard with a rubber membrane v. spring devices?
post #5 of 65
Nice guide except it would be rather difficult for me to remember 2 different keyboard layouts for the ones at school are... School computers.

Does anyone know of an onscreen program that tells you which key you pressed? It would be helpful for learning dvorak. l
    
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post #6 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by dskina View Post
I want to see Info's hands typing.

Also, is there a noticeable difference in speed when using a keyboard with a rubber membrane v. spring devices?
Are you talking about flexible keyboards? If so, there is a HUGE difference. It takes time to get accustomed to one. Plus, you don't get quite the tactile feedback you're used to. I guess I'll keep trying at that program. I got 58wpm at 96% accuracy. Higher than I expected. In elementary school, I was limping along at 25wpm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danylu View Post
Does anyone know of an onscreen program that tells you which key you pressed? It would be helpful for learning dvorak. l
Yes, and it comes pre-installed with your copy of windows. It's called notepad.
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post #7 of 65
or you can use voice recognition and be done with all typing
post #8 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by RSXHiTMAN View Post
or you can use voice recognition and be done with all typing
Typing is an incredibly useful skill. Especially when you're using a computer that doesn't have voice recognition software/a microphone.
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post #9 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by RSXHiTMAN View Post
or you can use voice recognition and be done with all typing
yes, but with the mistakes that speech recognition often makes i can type faster.
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post #10 of 65
Did it and I'm proud, would have never thought that I write at 69 WPM and 92%... kinda proud.

The laptop keyboard gave me carpal tunnel syndrome... so it's only fair that I got something good out of it.
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