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Sites or Software for a Budding Typist? 109

Posted by Cliff
from the hunt-and-peck-has-gotten-boring dept.
less touch, more typing asks: "Over the years I have worked with a number of IT professionals and software developers. Many of them have had excellent typing skills. Others, like me, have not. While I type passably with my own roguish style of finding the right keys, I would like to teach myself to type correctly. Too many syntax errors over the years are do to my lack of this basic skill. What software or web site would you recommend to learn to type? Is there something free or inexpensive that can turn someone with a lot of bad typing habits into a typing guru?"
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Sites or Software for a Budding Typist?

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  • Mavis Beacon (Score:4, Informative)

    by bluethundr (562578) * on Monday May 16, 2005 @12:31PM (#12544419) Homepage Journal
    • I used this software to correct my inefficient typing into standard touch typing several years ago. This was probably one of the best things I ever did. You can buy this software for practically nothing (>$20USD).
    • by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Monday May 16, 2005 @12:40PM (#12544509) Homepage Journal
      I secund thees. Mavis cabt each youy to tipe veryu fast adn acuraterly!
      • Ever since I took, the, Evelyn... Woodhead... sped, redin'... course... my redin has improvd 100, percent, and.. also, my comprensn has improvd, won..der..full..y
    • by crath (80215)
      Mavis Beacon will only run if it has Admin rights to your PC; as such, it doesn't make my list of possible candidates for use on the home PC. I don't grant Admin rights to my kids (the ones who need to use a typing tutor).
      • You've already been marked as a torll, but I'll point out the facts anyways, since as an IT professional, I have installed Mavis Beacon on a few locked down computers in my time.

        Installation requires Administrator rights. Running does not. That's it. It won't win the "Designed for Microsoft Windows __" logo because of this, but you can run it as non admin users no problem.
        • Sorry, but you're wrong: on a Windows XP Pro machine M-B won't run in Restricted User mode. I made the mistake of purchasing the package and installing it on my home computer. I then interacted with M-B support and they could offer no solution.

          Maybe you have mistaken "the program boots" for "the program functions as intended by the manufacturer." M-B will boot in restricted user mode, but it doesn't work as advertised.
    • If you can stand her. I personally can't but my typing isn't that bad, Its mostly my spelling.
  • TTOTD (Score:5, Informative)

    by Miffe (592354) on Monday May 16, 2005 @12:33PM (#12544429)
    Get The Typing of The Dead. It's like The House of The Dead. But instead of a lightgun, you have to write words to kill zombies...
    • Best typing tutorial ever. If you like killing zombies, that is.

      later...
      Rob
    • Good luck finding a copy. It's pretty old. Amazon [amazon.com] has one used copy, $68. Yikes.
    • This is an excellent game which does wonders for your typing speed. It doesn't help much with accuracy though because it ignores spaces and you don't have to delete your errors. Still recommended. Dammit, I don't have a Win box handy.
    • Good suggestion. The problem with learning touch typing is it's boring. Some companies like Mavis Beacon go the wrong edutainment approach and make a "game" where just turns your wpm in to a variable on an otherwise boring simulation. TTOTD takes good game and says "why don't we use a keyboard"? And actually becomes fun.
    • Back in the day there was a game called TypeTrek that I think was the same idea. Text based graphics, though (I played it on an 8088 with an amber monitor).

      Googling for it turns up nothing useful, though.

  • by metallicagoaltender (187235) on Monday May 16, 2005 @12:35PM (#12544457) Homepage
    In my experience, the best way to improve your typing skills is to just practice everday typing. Whether it's posting on a messageboard, IMing (except using abbreviations and shortcuts defeats the purpose), or keeping a diary/journal on your computer just for the sake of practicing typing, the act of typing becomes more and more natural as time goes on.

    Programs like Mavis Beacon can be helpful, but once you've spent enough time in front of a keyboard, it becomes second nature to know where the keys are, regardless of whether you use proper style or not. It's a cliche, but in this case, practice makes perfect.
    • I agree. Software can't teach you how to master the technique of touch typing. Software can only show you which fingers are supposed to hit which keys.

      I'm 24 and can type 70wpm, I've only ever had practice, never used software.

      I'd recommend typing of the dead too as someone said, challenges you to find the keys quickly.

      • by hankwang (413283) * on Monday May 16, 2005 @12:53PM (#12544629) Homepage
        I'm 24 and can type 70wpm, I've only ever had practice, never used software.

        When I was 23, I had taught myself to type at around 400 cpm (I think that's 80 wpm), indeed, just by practicing. (OK, I confess, at some point I played with a DOS-based typing tutor to practice the independent movement of the fingers). Then I made the step to Slackware Linux with kernel 1.2 and discovered that I could edit my undergrad thesis in LaTeX, do calculations, and create plots, thanks to multitasking.

        Three weeks later the thesis was finished and I was suffering from an unpleasant RSI because I had taught myself a few bad habits regarding hand posture. I basically had pain in my hands during any keyboard activity during the next 6 months. (I think I couldn't type at all during the first month). That was when I taught myself about Dvorak keyboards, chairs with armrests, and wrist supports. The RSI (or whatever you call it) still haunts me every now and then when I type too much LaTeX or Perl (why is the damn backslash not in the middle of the keyboard?), but I know how to recognize the signals these days.

    • I learned to type by playing MUDs. I was taking a very poor typing class at school but found it wasn't enough to secure the skill, so, my solution was

      diamondgate.com:4000

      I admit, though, that I spent HOURS each day playing.
    • You're right about practice, but some things that typing tutor programs can help with are:

      - improving typing of less-frequently used letter combinations
      - forcing you to slow down and type correctly, by not letting you speed up until your accuracy improves
      - prohibiting the use of cut and paste for corrections (forces you to type more accurately)

      But as you say, practice is key.
  • it varies... (Score:5, Informative)

    by dmayle (200765) * on Monday May 16, 2005 @12:36PM (#12544459) Homepage Journal

    LOL - I must have a touch of dyslexia, because I thought at first you were a typing Buddhist... :-)

    Actually, the typing tutors that are available are hit and miss. One that I find works for the non-typist is Popcap Games's [popcap.com] Typing Shark [popcap.com] You'll keep at it because it's actually fun to practice.

  • Find a game that requires typing. I learned how to type by plaing a game that was kind of like Space Invaders but where letters came down instead of aliens. You had to type the letter. They had easy (only home row), medium (all letters), hard (all keys) and expert (all keys with shift too). After you can beat expert, you're a great typist.

    Sadly, I can't remember the name of the game, as it was about 2 decades ago that I played it.
    • The really old MS-DOS Typing Tutor [selectsoft.com] had a game like that in it (Letter Invaders). Such a wonderful generic name makes it really difficult to find on the internet.
    • We had a DOS-based commercial program for learning to type that had a game in it where a red ASCII lobster would chase you across the screen. If you typed the line quickly enough to stay ahead of the lobster, you'd keep going and it'd get a bit harder. It was a lot of fun! I wish I could remember the name of it...it may have come with the IBM PCjr.
  • by medgooroo (884060) on Monday May 16, 2005 @12:39PM (#12544498)
    Im convinced that kids can type now due almost entirely to AIM and MSN. If you ever need someone to type "LOL!1" at 3000wpm, get a 13 year old.
  • Correctly != Best (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shazow (263582) <<andrey.petrov> <at> <shazow.net>> on Monday May 16, 2005 @12:44PM (#12544540) Homepage
    I've been typing away at a keyboard since I was 7 years old and, as I discovered in Highschool, I type extremely fast. In grade 9, we had to take "typing class," and I finished the entire semester's work in two periods. People would literally crowd around me to watch me type.

    Thing is, I don't type "correctly" and I'm sure many fast typists would agree that typing correctly isn't necessarily the best way to type.

    I don't make many typo's (unless I've spent 12 hours straight coding and start doubting the correct spelling of words) and found that I can out-type any "correct" typist. :D

    Here's what I suggest to improve your typing speed and accuracy: Find out what your problem is.

    Do your fingers not align properly?
    That means you have to rework your typing style. "Correct" typing is a good solution for this, as it presents which fingers "should" be hitting which keys. But you should eventually work out your own style to suit the shape of your hands and fingers.

    Do you find yourself looking for specific keys?
    That means you need to get more familiar with the keyboard, which means more practice. My hands are so comfortable with the keyboard, that I can recite the keys with my eyes closed just by imagining where my fingers would go for a particular letter.

    Are you just slow?
    This could mean lack of confidence, which implies practice. Or it could mean that you have poor coordination or reflex. Musical instruments are great for improving your finger coordination and strength (piano did it for me, but most instruments that involve your fingers would be fine).

    Good luck!
    - shazow
    • On the contrary, I think that if you learn typing "correctly," or if you learn it yourself without tutoring, the end-result is the exact same. The reason typing classes teach you to keep your fingers near the homerow is, whether you taught yourself or not, that's where your fingers will end up anyway when you try to go fast. The only reason variation, really, is what fingers you use to hit what letters... for instance, I always use my right thumb to hit space and my left pinky to hit shift, and I tend to

    • For me the opposite is true. Correctly == Best. By that I mean that my typing speed is directly proportional to my typing accuracy. When I'm fumbling around and hitting the backspace all the time, my speed plummets. I've found that concentrating on typing accurately without smashing the backspace all the time is the singlemost predictor of my typing speed.

      On a similar topic, when I used to code a ton in vi I got carpal tunnel syndrome in my left hand from smashing the escape key all the time. My hand
    • I don't make many typo's

      Ha.

    • I attribute my lack of any wrist problems to never having learned to type "correctly" .. I can manage a very respectable speed, even with my poison of choice {} mixed in.

      Interestingly enough I honestly have no idea where or what keys are where. I don't even think about it anymore. Do you think about how you speak? I've been using a keyboard since I was 9, maybe even sooner than that - it's almost an extension of my arms. Fingers go to the keyboard and words appear. What's interesting is that I seem to rel
  • Give Dvorak a chance (Score:5, Informative)

    by dreamer-of-rules (794070) on Monday May 16, 2005 @12:46PM (#12544556)
    "Ten Thumbs Typing Tutor" worked well for me for learning Dvorak (they do Querty too). Honesty, give Dvorak a chance if you do a lot of typing. It's a lot easier on your hands, and reduces the risk of RSI. Also, learning Dvorak on a Querty keyboard really encourages touch (no peeking) typing. The Mac makes Dvorak easier with a Querty-when-the -Command-is-pressed keyboard, so all of the copy, paste shortcuts are in their original one-handed spots. I have to use a lot of other keyboards at work (sys/net admin) that are Querty, but it's an easy enough trade off to have to watch my fingers for fast Querty typing when I need to. (15% of my typing time).
    • I 2nd the reccomendation for 10 thumbs; they also make a really cool RAD IDE. :) My girlfriend loved learning Dvorak with it.
    • you just misspelled qwerty... sad because that is probably the easiest word to type on a keyboard
    • Absolutely!

      I used to (more or less) hunt-and-peck my letters earlier and decided to learn to touch-type; games and tutors did not really motivate me so I decided to try a different keyboard layout. I just printed out a little reference card for the keys that I tacked on the top side of my monitor (so I could not cheat) and switched over cold turkey. The first two weeks were pretty bad, but after that I was at my previous level.

      Currently I type around 50-60wpm (I have slow fingers), which is about twice as
  • You can buy all the software you want but it will all boil down to practice, practice, and practice. I would just get a good, cheap book on typing from your local library, memorize the skills, and then practice it often.

    It's sad but today's education de-emphasizes practice and memorization and over-emphasizes deduction and reasoning. There is a place for both. Once you deduce some information, it's time to memorize or practice it until it is second nature.
    • It's sad but today's education de-emphasizes practice and memorization and over-emphasizes deduction and reasoning. There is a place for both. Once you deduce some information, it's time to memorize or practice it until it is second nature.

      At least here in germany it is the absolute opposite. Most things are memorized, even the things you can look up or deduce easily are often taught on mere "it is this way because it is" basis. Naturally most students forget most of the knowledge they don't use shortly

  • by mindaktiviti (630001) on Monday May 16, 2005 @12:54PM (#12544644)
    Make it a point to write out proper full sentences. For example, say you're IMing someone, instead of typing: "wassup" or "hi" type: "What's up?" or "Hi." so that you're always used to using proper sentence structure and then whenever you're typing away at a report or an email, your writing is a lot more pleasant to read. To stick to the question, I suggest that if it's too difficult to change your habits, you should at least put your fingers on these keys: asdf;lkj where the f and the j are your index fingers, your thumbs are on your space bar, and L-ctrl is sort of with the palm of your hand right below the pinky (for quick access).
  • by Hell O'World (88678) on Monday May 16, 2005 @01:13PM (#12544854)
    I'm afraid that to fix my typing, I need some aversion therapy. *looks down at keyboard* ZZZZZT!! Augh!
  • text based MUDs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by spoonyfork (23307) <spoonyfork@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Monday May 16, 2005 @01:18PM (#12544900) Journal
    For a cheap and enjoyable solution, find yourself a text based MUD [mudconnector.com] and play an hour a day. Forego programming function keys and scripts. That will get your typing and reading skills up to speed. What is a MUD? It's like EverCrack except you read, write, and use your imagination. Oh, and generally they are free. After a couple years of moderate MUDding at university I could type "recite recall" faster than any of my friends and family.

    Give Midgaard my best.

    • I bet a few of us can type http://slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org] faster than we realize what we are typing.
    • A *real* MUDder would type "rec rec" and not the wasteful "recite recall."

      Mudding isn't bad advice, but it's also not really a good example of the type of typing you'll need to do in real life. Most MUDs consist mostly of typing commands for attacking a MOB, and very little of actually talking to other players.

      What you want to find is a MUD based around RP, in which you're typing to other players much more than you're giving commands to the environment. (Plug: The Eternal Struggle http://esmud.com/ [esmud.com] is
    • A good one would be Crimson II: telnet to mud.crimson2.com, port 4000. If you can make Avatar without writing macros, you will be a good typist. Then try beating Novius in PK without using triggers.
    • This is probably the biggest reason my typing speed improved from 25-~60wpm my freshman year of college (might have had something to do with my grades dropping some too...)

      I suggest tsunami.thebigwave.net:23 - the wars and pvp action mean you either type very fast or suck
    • Yeah, I used to be addicted to MUME [pvv.org] based in Middle Earth. However, I found that I became very fast at typing certain commands but the rest of my typing wasn't as hot. I still find the same as I can type certain unix-based things/paths very quickly as I use them every day at work, but normal typing is still OK.

      Personally, I learnt typing at school partly out of being a computer geek at that time and it was one of the best things I did as it means I have a fairly decent typing speed and I'm reasonably ac

    • Myself, I did much the same in IRC rooms.

      I particularly recommend trivia games.
  • ... but you could try typera.tk [typera.tk]. It is not a typing tutor, rather a typing tester, but I found it very exciting. And the texts are very, very, very funny. I sometimes cannot type because I can't stop laughing.
  • If you're typing out full words while coding then you're doing something wrong. Any modern IDE has the ability to do code completion. Its just like using tab-complete in a bash shell. Type a letter, then ctrl+space or whatever your IDE uses and it will either provide a list of options or autocomplete your word if there is only one option. Additionally, most IDE's will close braces, paranthesis and do other nice things for you. You can make code templates so a ctrl+j inserts a for loop for you. Once these th
    • If you have to stop thinking to wait for your hands typing you are using the wrong programming language. An IDE does not change that.
      • Coding is simply the implementation of design. There really isn't a lot of thinking going on. Which is why the coding portion of software development can be outsourced so easily. The success of the coding is highly dependent on the thinking/design part. The thinking part happens in design and analysis before any coding begins.

        You would use an IDE to implement code. You don't use and IDE to do a design. Very different activities. If you develop software professionally these lines a clearly drawn. Most pro
  • Just log in to 35 active IRC channels simultaneously and start chatting on each one... after a week of that, if you can't type, give up.
  • Go to Wal-Mart and grab the $9.99 knockoff of Mavis. That will teach you which fingers type which keys. After that, download any instant messaging program and talk to (at minimum) 3 people at a time. Once you can keep up with these conversations, you'll get a lot faster. Someone suggested somewhere up there that it's also important to always type correctly. I tend to do this, even in IM windows. Also, focus on frequently used words. It's rare that I type "teh" in anything anymore because I've develo
  • by Cthefuture (665326) on Monday May 16, 2005 @01:43PM (#12545159)
    I have been typing for some 22 years, nearly every day since I was 10 years old. Usually 10-16 hours every day, 7 days a week (yes, even as a teenager). I use the "rogue" style. I have no idea how fast I type, but it's pretty fast.

    I have never, ever, not once had any inkling of a repetitive stress injury. Now that's a crapload of typing to never have any problems. I chalk it up to using the rogue typing style which causes my hands and fingers to move around into different and sometimes bizarre positions (eg. I often don't hit the same keys with the same fingers).

    and I don't think it's due to superior genes or somesuch because I also do 3D work and if I use the mouse for more than a couple hours at a time over the course of a couple of days then my tendons and hand will start to hurt like a sonuvabitch (I switch hands, don't use the mouse so much, and wait for it to heal when this happens).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm trying to achieve enlightenment, but I can't seem to get my WPMs up there. Is there any software or bodhisattvas that I can get that will help me out with this?
  • How about getting a book and re-typing it, then punishing yourself for mistakes.

    Perhaps a hot ember on the back of your hand if you have more then a .5 % error rate.

    If you surpass 1%, you might as well just off yourself, as you are too stupid to stay here with the rest of us and simply wasting MY air.
  • Golly, is that how they reproduce?
  • Software for a Tyding Buddist [dislexia.org]

  • Dvorak (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tdmg (881818) on Monday May 16, 2005 @02:40PM (#12545862)
    I personally use Dvorak, and my typing speed has increased a lot in a very short amount of time. A good typing tutorial for Dvorak is: http://www.gigliwood.com/abcd/abcd.html [gigliwood.com] it is very simple but effective. I have a friend who can type 165 wpm, and he just did Mavis Beacon for 3 years straight as a kid for 2 hours a day. I switched to Dvorak so that I wouldn't get some stress disorder when I got older, and if you have the time I'd recommend the switch. While it may or may not improve speed (mine improved) it does prevent injury when typing.
  • No substitute for practice. The typing tutor softwares just present novel forms of practice. If you really want to get better, just hop on #debian or #gentoo on FreeNode and start answering questions. At 800+ users, the flow of text within the channel tends to be about a screen's full of independent conversations. Or you could just bittorrent mario teaches typing, but it throws so much useless punctuation that you'll never use in real conversations ;).
  • ``Too many syntax errors over the years are do to my lack of this basic skill.''

    "Do to"? Are you sure the issue isn't spelling skills?

    8^)

    [I can spell, but can't type worth beans; the twi are not always distinguishable.]
  • Print a small picture of the keyboard layout of your choice and tape it above your monitor. Never look down at the key board.

    I learned to type with the Dvorak layout this way but not looking at the keyboard was what took me the farthest.
  • I need more sleep, I thought that the thread was about Buddhist typists ...
  • This is what I've installed for my mother for her to work on her typing and it has help a bunch. It's ncurses based and there are also binaries available for different OSs.

    http://www.gnu.org/software/gtypist/gtypist.html [gnu.org]
  • it was highschool when I first started getting into computers, having never been at a keyboard before, I took a typing class. I remember that, when I started the class, I was typing about 2wpm. We used some sort of typing software, I can't remember the name of it at the moment. Anyway, at the end of the semester, I could type about 12wpm. Sure it was an improvement, but it was still horribly slow.
    The semester after that, I started a programming class, I also got a computer at home. At the time, since
  • My kids learned from Disney's Adventures in Typing with Timon & Pumbaa. Taught the correct hand positions and all, but made it fun too.

    Looks like it's out of print now, but available at Amazon from their used & new section.
  • get a 'typing 101 drills' course book. yeah, its low-tech. yes, it still works. it'll be the one thats filled with lines and lines of words like this:

    look like free word wood bring
    same save share state wear &etc.

    i type 120wpm. i wouldn't be this way if i hadn't drilled, drilled, drilled. all i can say is: drill, drill, drill.

  • by sootman (158191) on Monday May 16, 2005 @06:45PM (#12548658) Homepage Journal
    I love this program. http://typefaster.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

    Simple, clean, big, clear, and easy to use.
  • "Correct" typing style will give you carpal tunnel and slow you down if you try to do any coding. I have absolutely no evidence or sources to back this up though. Typing speed is such a small part of the software development process.
    • by Aldric (642394)
      I always get confused when people say their typing is slowing down their programming. I spend about 95% of my programming time thinking. Typing is just the final part of the job.
  • Are your grammar mistakes also do to your lack of typing skills? Otherwise, an easy solution is to unplug the mouse for a week, and use only keyboard shortcuts, or play games (with the mouse) where there are many combinations to be had. FPS will only teach you a few around the left side of your keyboard, so read through the manuals for keyboard shortcuts to the most common functions, and even the not so common. It'll make you aware of the key layout. Or also try to type in the dark, so you have to guess whe
  • My Mum learned to type for her first job as a secretary on a typewriter with blank keys. Sure helped her with touch-typing. She soon got used to not looking at the keyboard and remembering where the keys are.
  • by swansmt (884791)
    Too many syntax errors over the years are do to my lack of this basic skill

    Umm, sintax shure isent youre ownley problam bud.
  • Start playing online interactive MUDs or some such. Play those for about 3 hours aday and soon you will be typing faster then you could have dreamed.. (Its all about familiarity)

    Kingdom Of Loathing (not an advert) even has a literacy test before you are allowed in to the chat.
  • by McBeer (714119)
    Start playing on a MUD. It's how I learned. Sure it doesn't give feedback like a typing program, but I think it works just as well. It is more the neural network approach: you know your character dying is bad, and you know typing faster can help save him. After many hours of mudding and letting your real life fall by the wayside you will emerge an excellent typist.
  • Learn2Type [learn2type.org] offers free typing tutorials in both Dvorak and QWERTY format. It also has typing speed tests that adjust for accuracy.

    I haven't gone through the learn2type.org tutorials in their entirety, but I have taken a look at them to get an idea of the correct hand positions. I picked up touch typing through frequent computer use. My speed isn't all that impressive -- it ranges from 60 to 80 wpm depending on the day and the exercise. I find that I type faster when I'm typing something I've composed myse

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