Sunday, October 6, 2013


This might be a slightly shorter post than normal because I am typing it properly. It may also be a bit fragmented because I'm focused more on moving my hand correctly than on what I'm actually writing. I never bothered to learn how to touch type and was never taught, so like many people I just muddled along and can type at a fair clip. Nevertheless there's the semi-regular need to look down at the keys and the deep shame that I've spent my entire professional life needing to type and doing it wrong. The problem has always been that there's no time to learn, especially not on the job. "Bice, why isn't that new feature finished?" "Oh, because I've been typing really slowly" is not a conversation I imagine ending well.

Things I have noticed so far:

  • There's a whole lot of programming keys that are in inconvenient places. This makes sense considering that the alphabet takes pride of place on a keyboard, but I imagine if I was going to be doing any serious programming while going through this process I'd probably rage quit an awful lot.
  • I feel that the thumbs are under utilised. Maybe it's that with game controllers and phones I'm more comfortable using my thumbs than people were when keyboards were invented, but just using them to thump the biggest key on the keyboard seems a waste. I'm not sure about the ergonomics of it, but I think a narrower spacebar with maybe enter and backspace to the left and right would save me having to flail my pinky about to get a new line or correct mistake.
  • Getting used to hitting keys with my little finger is going to take some time. My pinkies are by far my least dextrous digits (unless toes count as digits, and even then it's a close run thing) and they're working over time. 
  • I seem to adopt a far better posture touchtyping. It's probably because my hands need to be in a constant position, but it is, so far, a lot more difficult to type while sitting at a roguish angle.
  • Muscle usage is quite different in that extensive typing seems to put much more load through my forearms. I guess it's probably as much to do with the new posture as anything else.
  • I'm getting more typos, as would be expected, but I'm getting fewer extraneous keystrokes because my fingers are travelling less to keys. So that's nice.
  • Soooo slow.

While I'm bothering to learn I suppose it would make sense to learn Dvorak at the same time but I find it unsettling for the symbols on the keyboard not to match the symbols that appear on the screen when I type. Also I always roll my eyes when I ask to use someone's computer and they have to change the layout.

Overall I imagine if I keep this up I might get back to speed parity with my previous, more organic style within a few months. Or I'll give up.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see you doing this.

    Typing is an important, and much-neglected, professional skill for writers and programmers.

    As a very proficient typist myself, it annoys the *heck* out of me when I sit down to pair program with someone who can't do so properly and has to stop their flow of work for seconds at a time to hunt around for some key, or look at their keyboard.

    I realize that it's probably painful to give yourself the necessary remedial training, but I just want to let you know that on behalf of fast typist pair programmers everywhere, I appreciate the sacrifice.

    (Also, checkout play, to give yourself a fun incentive to speed up...)


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