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Correcting Poor Typing Technique? 425

Posted by kdawson
from the quick-brown-fix dept.
An anonymous reader writes "When beginning to use keyboards I did not pay much attention to touch typing technique. Instead, I eventually achieved decent rates by simply doing what felt natural to me. These days my qwerty typing speed is in the range of 90-110 WPM, probably more toward the lower end. While this isn't too shabby, I feel some awkwardness in my technique (such as not using my little and ring fingers when I really should). Has anyone been in a similar situation, wanted to fix it, and actually done so? What do you reckon is the best way to fix half-broken typing? Touch training sessions? Should I switch to Dvorak and pretty much learn typing from scratch, but properly this time?"
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Correcting Poor Typing Technique?

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  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anrego (830717) * on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:03PM (#31394168)

    Is this a medical concern, or are you trying to improve speed?

    If you work in a data entry job, I guess it makes sense, but if you're actually spewing out so much code or documentation that typing speed is becoming an issue.. you're either a mad genius or producing some very poor quality code!

    I honestly think when it comes to most non-data entry jobs.. quality is generally better than quantity. A few slowly typed but well thought out lines are always going to be better than a page of garbage.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Slack0ff (590042)
      They also don't mention whether or not they have to look down to find keys? 90-110 using only a few fingers sounds fast. At least to me, as a touch typer who hovers around 85wmp.
      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mrclisdue (1321513) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:29PM (#31394478)

        I'm a touch typist, and I can type 150wpm.

        Bear in mind that *everyone* greatly embellishes their wpm.

        No citation needed, just leave the room and ask a few people...then test them if you really feel it would be necessary.

        cheers,

        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:42PM (#31394606) Homepage Journal

          Yep. I'm a touch typist. In high school, I was tested at 60 wpm, with some number of mistakes that the teacher found acceptable. In real life, I get 35 to 45 wpm, with few mistakes - usually spelling mistakes because I type on the fly. But, then, I've never worked as a typist, and only on rare occasions do I have to produce a document without errors. My skills have been adequate to my needs.

          A hunt and peck typist who gets over 100 wpm sounds, like the guy who submitted the question, sounds like a load of crap to me. I've seen people who can type in the neighborhood of 150 wpm, and they DON'T hunt and peck with two or four fingers. They make full use of their fingers, no matter how large or small their hands are.

          If I typed 100 wpm, I'd be proud of it, and not try to change anything, LMAO

          • by tomhudson (43916)
            I'm a touch typist (took typing in high school - do they still teach that?) - but I also don't use the pinkies at all. I found that to be the stupidest thing they could do. Sure, use the pinkies for playing the guitar or the synthesizer, where you need to have 4 fingers on one hand do something at the same time - but not typing.
            • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by amRadioHed (463061) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:19PM (#31395928)

              So you're saying you use your ring finger for shift, control and enter? How is it stupider using the pinky which is closer and which requires much less wrist movement to reach with?

            • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Rei (128717) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:45PM (#31396642) Homepage

              Back in middle school, we had a typing class on a bunch of apples 2es. I got numbers ranging from 300 to a thousand or so words per minute. Of course, that was because I realized that it counted "words" based on how many spaces you typed, so if you held down the space bar, then backspaced, then held down space again, and so forth, then erased the whole thing and typed in the message you were supposed to type correctly, you'd get a huge score.

          • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by iamhassi (659463) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:59PM (#31394754) Journal
            My corrected speed is 65wpm according to typingtest.com calculating for speed and deducting for errors. Every job I've applied for has been very impressed with just 65, so I'd be very happy with a corrected 90wpm and I wouldn't bother fixing anything. Like the saying goes, ain't broke don't fix it.
          • Hunt and peck is the opposite of touch typing, but touch typing is not synonymous with "proper" typing technique. I never learned to type "properly", and I tend to use four fingers instead of five, but I don't look at the keyboard while typing and I can get over 100wpm (I just tested myself at 95wpm right now) - the fact that I don't look means I'm a touch typist, whether I use the "proper" technique or not. Obviously hunt-and-peck at over 100wpm is bullshit, but you can easily type at moderate to quite fas

        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @06:05PM (#31394792)

          Bear in mind that *everyone* greatly embellishes their wpm.

          I'm old enough to have taken typing in school - on IBM Selectric typewriters, no less - and feel as if I've got a reasonably accurate idea of what 60 wpm looks like. I have heard a lot of computer guys ("self taught" typists) guesstimate they can type 60 or 70 wpm, but when I watch them (not coding, just typing a letter) it's pretty obvious they're lucky if they're touching 30 wpm.

          I take issue with the word "embellish" though - I just think they are crappy at estimating.

          One thing I do find funny... when I was on a typewriter, I was pretty consistent at around 40-45 wpm (my "final" was about 60 wpm, but I'm almost certain the teacher lost track of time). However I have tested myself on a computer, and find I can easily do 50-60 wpm now because I don't have to worry so much about mistakes.

          • When you quote your wpm you are quoting your speed at copying text printed on a page. I can type at about 50 if I think of what I am typing as words and 80 if I don't (just tested it), so I can probably only think around 50 wpm, adding in creating the text while they type, I think 30 wpm is reasonable. BTW, I thought I typed at 30 wpm, and when I was typing, it sounded very slow to me (with many pauses, and backspaces to correct mistakes), so you might want to check what 60 wpm sounds like again.
      • by delphi125 (544730)

        I scrolled down to see if there were any more relevant posts to reply to, but most of them also boasted about 80+ wpm.

        I am by no means a touch typer, but I don't watch my keyboard either. So I correct a lot, and am about half your speed at best (say 50 wpm).

        Still probably around 12 cps, but hitting Delete 3 times lowers the average, hehehe.

        I still type faster than I can think, whether I am programming, translating, or writing for fun and pleasure. As the GP post said, any more is overkill for anything but d

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      100wpm isn't fast enough? What exactly are you typing?

      "Proper technique" positions the hands much more rigidly and is more likely to lead to sore hands.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Funny)

      by oztiks (921504) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:32PM (#31394514)

      I wonder what the avg typing rate is with this ...

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BnLbv6QYcA [youtube.com]

    • >>Is this a medical concern, or are you trying to improve speed?

      I hope its not a medical concern. Touch typing causes carpal tunnel, it doesn't cure it.

      I am like the OP - I used to be a hunt and pecker (now I type by touch) and get around 90WPM on a couple online tests (give or take, the online tests vary a bit). I only use my index and ring fingers to type (thumb for the space bar) and so I end up using bigger muscles to type and don't overextend any of my small tendons to type. I once tried to teach

      • Re:Biomechanics (Score:5, Informative)

        by xaxa (988988) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @07:41PM (#31395552)

        I am not a doctor.

        I recommend Dvorak for the comfort. When people say it's more comfortable they (among other things) mean they don't have to "reach for an O" as often as they would need to with Qwerty.

        For your whole post, typed with Qwerty, you reached for something on the top row 342 times. You reached for the bottom row 138 times.
        If you'd typed it with Dvorak you'd have used the top row just 159 times and the bottom row just 61 times.

        (There are other awkward moves that are reduced by Dvorak. For instance, CR, BE, EX, UN, MY -- top-to-bottom combinations on the same hand -- hardly exist. Something like grep -i '[zxcvb][qwert]' /usr/share/dict/words --only-matching | tr '[a-z]' '[A-Z]' | sort | uniq -c | sort -n will help make good comparisons.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Simon80 (874052)
      The why is irrelevant - if there's some obvious improvement to make, the question is why not? As for the OP, I suggest typing "improvement" repeatedly, until the habit is broken and your pinky types the p when you're not paying attention. Whenever you catch your ring finger typing e.g. a p or q, just type that word in a few times using the right technique, to reinforce the habit. I wouldn't know though, my ring fingers are still out in force - they're an inch longer than my pinkies, so it's hard to quit usi
    • Due knot worry about yore typing skills. Soon wheel awl use voice input and jesters!
      Throughput will bee increased and spelling airs will disappear.
  • Switch to dvorak, then go back to qwerty. If its still not fast enough, go to azerty and then back to qwerty.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      "Honey, could you come figure out why my wireless isn't connecting?"
      "Sure, let me just try re-entering the WPA key and OH MY GOD WHY CAN I NOT TYPE QUERTY ANYMORE?!"

      Have fun with that.
      • by langelgjm (860756)
        That's what the letters on the keyboard are for. Seriously, this is a compelling reason for me not to rearrange keycaps for Dvorak. I touch type anyway, why would I need the keycaps to match what I'm typing? And then, for whatever reason, if I am forced to type in QWERTY (VNC and RDP sometimes do funny things with key mappings), I can just look down and see QWERTY letters.
      • Re:Dvorak (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewk.gmail@com> on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:16PM (#31394346)

        Speaking from experience, typing qwerty is like riding a bike. No matter how many other vehicles you learn to drive, you never really lose the hang of it.

        • by Al Dimond (792444)

          I think that varies person to person. My QWERTY skills have been getting progressively weaker since I've been using Dvorak, to the point that I am considering using QWERTY one day a week or something to make sure I don't lose my qwertability completely.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Synchis (191050)

        Actually, this is not normally an issue. Once you train yourself to type in a certain way, your muscles remember how to do it, even if you, consciously, do not.

        At the other end of this, is the fact that because of muscle memory, switching to dvorak to fix a querty typing issue often does not solve the problem. (I'm speaking from experience here, because this is what I did.) Most people don't actively think about how they are typing, they type from muscle memory.

        Instead, I found the best way to train myself

    • by xaxa (988988)

      I changed to Dvorak for comfort rather than speed, although I think it's faster anyway.

      There are several problems with how you type on a Qwerty layout that are corrected with Dvorak:
      - Dvorak has the most common keys on the middle row (AOEUI DHTNS), and the least common keys on the bottom row (;QJKX BMWVZ). (Top row: ',.PY FGCRL)
      - Dvorak has common English key letter combinations leading towards the centre of the keyboard. E.g. TH, RD, AE, OU, SN, ST, SH, NT. Try drumming your fingers on the table: little to

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Eventually you'll hit a wall with your non-standard typing, and have to switch. Or start with proper typing, and work your way back up to speed that way.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Kell Bengal (711123)
      This is why I found. As my skill with hunt-and-peck typing increased, my fingers would naturally linger over the middle of the keyboard and I could just hit the right key without looking. One day I just realised that I could touch-type without ever actually explicitly training myself to. It was simply an evolution of the muscle memory I'd developed.

      Ironically, the real catalyst for increasing my typing speed was arguing with people online. As you need to type both quickly and correctly, you soon devel
      • Getting the technique is important to prevent hitting a wall. Get a tutor program with games, then pick up speed in chat. Worked for me. I took typing in the 70's. I got my speed up on teletype, then BBS chat. First I out typed 75 baud tty, then 110, then 150. I
          went to 300 baud BBS chat and out typed that easly. 1200 was hard to catch. I never out typed a 2400 baud modem.

        In ham radio, 75 baud TTY is really slow now.

      • Nothing ruins your argument like posting on YouTube.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Peter Cooper (660482)

      "Hitting a wall" at 90-100WPM is like driving a car that "only" does 100MPH. Hardly anyone benefits from typing or driving faster than that.

  • Dvorak (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sys.stdout.write (1551563) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:05PM (#31394194)

    Should I switch to Dvorak

    No. Even if you gain speed on your keyboard, the ability not to suck on other people's laptops is totally worth the 20 WPM decrement or whatever.

    • On the other hand... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Junta (36770) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:07PM (#31394224)

      As someone who uses dvorak, it's a great deterrent to people who frequently need to borrow other keyboards for a moment...

      Not to mention the amusement of watching them type something, look confused, repeat a few times before they say something.

      In terms of speed, I don't know about that, but dvorak does leave me a bit more comfy as I leave the home row less.

      • by xaxa (988988)

        I have this in my .zshrc:
        alias 'aoeu=setxkbmap gb'
        alias 'asdf=setxkbmap gb dvorak 2> /dev/null || setxkbmap dvorak gb 2> /dev/null || setxkbmap dvorak'

        (The three alternatives are in case there's an old version of X. "gb dvorak" gets me the £ sign etc.)

        If someone wants to borrow my computer I type aoeu in a shell before I hand it to them.

        On my Windows PC at work I have the keyboard layout switcher set up, but sometimes I hit the combination (Ctrl+Shift) accidentally, which is annoying. I don't of

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sam0737 (648914)

        I do Dvorak too, for 7+ years.

        As someone who uses dvorak, it's a great deterrent to people who frequently need to borrow other keyboards for a moment...

        Not to mention the amusement of watching them type something, look confused, repeat a few times before they say something.

        So do I. In addition, I also have CTRL and CAPS LOCK swapped (which makes a lot of sense when you copy and paste code a lot, ctrl is way lot more useful. Oh, don't tell my boss I just do copy and paste). Plus, I also do Chinese typing but again not using the mainstream IME, 3 things together creates lot of confusion to the others and that's really fun to watch.

        In terms of speed, I don't know about that, but dvorak does leave me a bit more comfy as I leave the home row less.

        Agree. Especially you know the fingers are really home-sick.

        Though, I don't think I have lost any QWERTY speed. I could

    • by dingen (958134)
      Why? How often do you actually use someone else's computer?
      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        If you work anywhere where hot-desking is standard practice, then "lots".

        Also, when I visit my parents or any of my friends, I don't usually take a laptop with me. If I need a computer, I borrow one of theirs. I doubt that that is particularly unusual.

        • by xaxa (988988)

          If you work anywhere where hot-desking is standard practice, then "lots".

          It's not a problem. On every OS I'm familiar with the keyboard layout setting is a property of the username, not the machine. (If you need to look at Dvorak-labelled keys you're doing it wrong.)

          Also, when I visit my parents or any of my friends, I don't usually take a laptop with me. If I need a computer, I borrow one of theirs. I doubt that that is particularly unusual.

          *shrug* I'm happy with over 99% of my typing being comfortable and Dvorak. The longest thing I type on other people's computers tends to be my email address.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by saisuman (1041662)
      If you switch to Dvorak, another thing to consider is using VIM/Emacs keyboard shortcuts. Granted, these are customizable, but apparently my brain thinks of shortcuts as "this sequence to save and quit", and not ":wq". So when you move to Dvorak, you start hitting the QWERTY locations of ":wq", and not the Dvorak locations of ":", "w", and "q". Oh, and I'm yet to see someone in the 110wpm range get a speed increase from moving to Dvorak.
      • by jo_ham (604554)

        Apple solved this (I'm sure not uniquely, but very simply for the user) with those who want to type using Dvorak, but who have major muscle memory for the command shortcuts, which are less about "command+q" or "command+s" and more about a particular way your hand moves without looking down, so you can set the keyboard layout to Dvorak Qwerty Command, which does as it suggests and resets the layout to qwerty when the command key is held down.

      • :x = :wq
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zsau (266209)

      No. Even if you gain speed on your keyboard, the ability not to suck on other people's laptops is totally worth the 20 WPM decrement or whatever.

      Never ever switch to Dvorak because you think it'll make you faster. If it does, it's only because you have poor technique; as another reader comments, your typing speed is more determined by the time it takes you to create the content, than how long it takes you to output it.

      Switch to Dvorak to get a much more comfortable typing experience. Trust me on this: Switc

  • I went the Dvorak route. I never bothered switching keyboards or keycaps, so I learnt to touchtype blind. It took me about two weeks of casual use to get up to the speed of my QWERTY keyboarding skills and I improved much beyond that. I do about 80 WPM now. I also didn't forget QWERTY. I can still type QWERTY as well as I ever did, at a sufficient but painful 30 wpm.
    • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:34PM (#31394534)

      I switched after High School. I learned about Dvorak in wandering the Internet (pre Wiki days) and thought it made sense. Even if the "X much faster" claims were biased, leaving the home row and less finger movement sounded good.

      After my last project my senior year I figured this was the last time I would ever be able to 'switch' because from here on out it'd be College then Work nonstop.

      Printed out a keymap and kept it next to the monitor. Kept up my IRC/AIM chatting. It took 2 weeks to get back to my 'old speed'. And within a month I was up +30 WPM where I eventually settled.

      DV Assist [clabs.org] is a great tool for Windows users who don't have admin access, I keep it on a thumb drive at all times, plug it in and run and switch. And it's not like you 'forget' QWERTY, it's always printed in front of you.

      The worst is passwords.... I really don't "remember" my passwords. So a password: 1234',.paoeu is just the first 3 lines of the keyboard on the left... but when I go to a QWERTY keyboard I have to think it through...

  • Don't bother. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Speare (84249) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:06PM (#31394210) Homepage Journal
    My opinion: if you can achieve over 80 wpm with your version of hunt and peck, you're not making many errors, and you don't need to look at the keyboard to keep up with live (typed) chat conversations, then that's really all you need. Higher speeds is just going to stress the tendons. If you are truly held back in pouring your ideas into the computer at this speed, then you should have employees.
    • Re:Don't bother. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:30PM (#31394494) Journal

      Higher speeds is just going to stress the tendons.

      In most cases this is not true. The worst tendon stress come from eccentric contractions opposing the main movement of the finger. If you try to type faster by 'pushing' your fingers harder, you are going to increase the muscle contractions and the eccentric contractions, which will be felt as stress in your fingers.

      Getting to speeds of 90 or 110 wpm is almost impossible by 'pushing' your fingers harder, though. Your muscles just can't adapt fast enough when they are also fighting against themselves, so what you need to do is reduce the eccentric muscle braking. You need to only use the smallest number of muscles possible when moving your fingers to the proper place. This will feel like you are 'relaxing.' If you are moving faster by relaxing, this is what you are doing, reducing the eccentric muscle opposition in your body. Baseball pitchers have to learn to do the same thing to get the ball moving faster.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      yeah well I can do mush faster thanb that but I think tiot snds to make my accurewacy a bit less than oprimakl.

      Hey! That reads like someone off a gaming forum. Kewl, so *now* I know what those boys are on.

  • by TheReaperD (937405) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:07PM (#31394214)

    I'm personally fine with my awkward typing technique. I say if you've reached speeds that you're happy with and your typing method is not causing you any issues such as tendinitis, why change? I've never understood the obsession with you must do it "the right way."

    But, this is my advice and it's worth what you paid for it.

  • by vlm (69642) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:08PM (#31394236)

    If you believe the marketing folks, touch typing has never been less important now, than in the entire history of computing.

    Everything is going to touch screen non-tactile smartphones, tablets, etc. Touch typing doesn't help much on ipods/iphones.

    The idea of typing anything other than "english prose" using a keyboard is dead. All "commands" are given via mice and menus/ribbons. The concept of a "command line" is dead to 99% of the population.

    Even worse, "leet txt sms speak" is the wave of the future. If it doesn't fit in 160 characters or whatever it is, then it is literally unthinkable.

    Also the tools are dying. I can type pretty well on a clicky Model-M keyboard. Not so well on a mushboard.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MikeFM (12491)
      I can type almost as fast on my iPod as I do on a full size keyboard - much faster than most people type on a full size keyboard. It's all muscle memory. My hunt and peck method doesn't impede me at all.
  • 90-110 WPM is fast (Score:5, Informative)

    by xerent_sweden (1010825) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:08PM (#31394238)
    90-110 words per minute is typing really fast. The standard length of a word is five letters and if you measured with that word length you really have nothing to worry about. I couldn't imagine anyone writing faster than that.
  • by mcrbids (148650) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:09PM (#31394250) Journal

    I type perfect touch type style. At my best, I do about 90-120 WPM, same as you. I know I'm quite a rapid typist, almost able to keep up with natural-rate speech. If you are matching me, what are you really trying to achieve?

    It's pretty obvious that whatever the metric, you are well within the realm of where other factors are far more likely to make a difference than typing speed. Of course, if you want to "touch type" like other "trained" folks, do like anybody else, and force yourself to actually do it.

    I recommend any of the many touch-typing software packages out there. You don't even have to pay much, 30 seconds of GIS brought this up [sense-lang.org] and it seems quite serviceable!

    • by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:17PM (#31394358)

      Probably the only real difference between a touch typist and someone whose "natural" technique gets them the same speed (and accuracy) as a touch typist is physical comfort.

      I use at most two fingers of my right hand which is at a very sharp angle coming into the keyboard because it's centered with WESD pretty much directly in front of my straight left wrist. I type just as fast as any touchtypist, the difference is that this is far less painful to my post-break right hand.

      The key part of "Repetitive Strain Injury" is "Repetitive". I'm pretty sure spending hours learning to touch type by typing ZCA CZA KLM LPN KPL over and over again from the traditional centered-keyboard home-row position is going to give you carpel tunnel a LOT faster than "normal" typing.

      • by value_added (719364) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @06:59PM (#31395216)

        The key part of "Repetitive Strain Injury" is "Repetitive". I'm pretty sure spending hours learning to touch type by typing ZCA CZA KLM LPN KPL over and over again from the traditional centered-keyboard home-row position is going to give you carpel tunnel a LOT faster than "normal" typing.

        I'm afraid you don't understand the concept of technique. The idea is to be able to type ZCA CZA KLM LPN KPL over and over again without effort, strain, or injury, while developing the desired speed. If you can't do that, then, as any music instructor will tell you, you're not doing it right.

        Musicians, incidentally, typically practise more hours in a day than anyone spends typing, and more hours than most of us spend at work (unless your a sysadmin). None of them require "ergonomic" fretboards or keyboards, and would balk at the idea of gel-filled rests for their arms, writs, or hands. What they do require is ideal technique and the dedication to endless hours of careful (and possibly boring) practice.

        Then again, most people are lazy. Why exercise the weakest fingers? Why play scales? Why hold your wrists up? Why learn to sit with your back straight, when it takes more effort? Why indeed. Better to sit back in that bean-bag chair with a drink nearby and call it a day.

        As for the article submitter, I'd suggest that if he wants to improve his technique, he'll have to "unlearn" his current one. That means learning (or re-learning) the rules so that he can break them, and then onnly if needed or desired. Stopping and going backwards so that he can move forward again, if you will. Musicians that deviate or otherwise use their own uniquely-inspired variations of standard techniques typically do so after years of pedagogic instruction and careful supervision. The ones that don't are one in a million. Everyone else is forever stuck at some level of mediocre proficiency (impressing friends and family, no doubt) and is talking out their ass.

        If you can type anywhere near 100wpm with "non-standard" technique AND your typing is accurate AND your typing is effortless, then you're a one in a million. Changing your technique may offer improvements, but I suspect those improvements will be subtle, and the gains relatively minor. Me, I can probably learn to do a consistent 120wpm. Practically spekaing, though, it's not worth the dedication or the effort, so I generally coast along at 80-90. Laziness and comfort is not something to aspire to (or advocate), but in measured doses, can be a good thing.

    • by Patch86 (1465427)

      Does anyone else remember "Typing of the Dead"? Best typing tutor ever.

      I wonder idly if it's still in print, in any of the mega-budget software ranges. I'd pay a fiver for it, no question.

  • Running firefox under gnome there are many key combinations which do bizarre things like minimising the window, opening bookmarks, etc. If I don't get every keystroke right typing a comment on /. is nearly impossible.

    There is one which I get sometimes at work where I run FVWM. It maximises firefox so it fills the screen, removes window decorations and raises it above all other applications. It happens at least once a weak from wild typing. As a result I am slowly improving my typing.

  • by jjohnson (62583) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:11PM (#31394270) Homepage

    Don't bother with Dvorak. The studies that showed Dvorak to be superior were methodologically suspect [straightdope.com], and the reams of anecdotal evidence that Dvorak is superior is largely due to confirmation bias--the people who consciously switched improved largely because they were switching consciously (and trying to improve), and the people who don't see an improvement rarely brag about that.

    Instead, a touch-typing program or other class will probably benefit you. A lot of the myths about qwerty keyboards are bogus, and you should see an improvement in your speed because you're spreading the typing load across more fingers and having to move your hands and forearms less than a fast, blind hunt and peck. A little practice on activating your pinkies will probably dovetail nicely with your existing skills, so the improvement will be quick.

    • by jjohnson (62583) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:14PM (#31394306) Homepage

      Here's the original reference [utdallas.edu] mentioned in my link above. The high points of it are these:

      (1) the research demonstrating the superiority of the Dvorak keyboard is sparse and methodologically suspect;

      (2) a sizable body of work suggests that in fact the Dvorak offers little practical advantage over the QWERTY;

      (3) at least one study indicates that placing commonly used keys far apart, as with the QWERTY, actually speeds typing, since you frequently alternate hands; and

      (4) the QWERTY keyboard did not become a standard overnight but beat out several competing keyboards over a period of years.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by nadaou (535365)

        (1) the research demonstrating the superiority of the Dvorak keyboard is sparse and methodologically suspect;

        which has no effect on the truth of the matter, just that it isn't as solidly proven as previously thought. "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" and all that.

        (2) a sizable body of work suggests that in fact the Dvorak offers little practical advantage over the QWERTY;

        aka many studies show that it is better in a statistically significant way, but not by a great deal. but that's sti

      • I think it's interesting how we use standards developed so very long ago, when the negative ramifications of various design decisions on modern technology could never have been predicted during the design process. QWERTY might stand up against Dvorak with a physical keyboard, but it has some significant problems on compact QWERTY (IE the Blackberry Pearl) and touch screen devices.

        One of the biggest issues with QWERTY is that the vowels U, I and O are all consecutive in a row. Consider typing the word "HIT

      • by xaxa (988988) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @06:35PM (#31395008)

        That study is bad, and had an ulterior motive.

        The Fable of the Keys is an article by some economists (who don't claim to know anything about typing) who are trying to disprove something called "Excessive Inertia Theory". Basically, "Excessive Inertia Theory" uses the Dvorak vs Qwerty history as anecdotal evidence for what the theory is describing: Dvorak is better, but people still use Qwerty because they don't want to go to the trouble of changing (nevermind that almost no one has heard of Dvorak...) The writers attack the theory by claiming that Dvorak isn't actually any better than Qwerty, and that's why it never became popular.

        The holes are rampant in their argument, but the most telling is that the study they used was poorly conducted, probably biased, and the original data from it was destroyed. No other study has ever corroborated the results.

        On the other hand, August Dvorak himself wrote an entire book called "Typewriting Behavior" about typing, Dvorak's area of expertise. (Instead of a book on Economics for example!) With the knowledge gained and research conducted in the writing of that book, he designed a keyboard layout. People who have used that keyboard layout almost unanimously attest to its improved comfort, efficiency, and ease.

        A number of more in-depth responses have been written to "The Fable of the Keys" and its offspring, and I won't embarrass myself by trying to out-write these gentleman: Marcus Brooks: The Fable of the Fable and Randy Cassingham: Letter to REASON Magazine.

        (Quoted from here [dvzine.org]

    • by langelgjm (860756) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:22PM (#31394414) Journal

      Whether Dvorak is superior in terms of speed or number of errors may be a toss-up, but as someone who first did hunt-and-peck, then learned to touch-type QWERTY, then relearned to touch-type Dvorak, my experience is that Dvorak is definitely more comfortable than QWERTY.

      Besides, feelings of smug superiority can't be properly quantified in those studies.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SLi (132609)

        I agree. The comfort is the reason why I use dvorak, and I hate it when I need to use qwerty. OTOH I still prefer the physical keys in qwerty layout for the occasional case when I need to use qwerty (I don't need to look at the keyboard when typing with dvorak). The only case where this is not optimal is where I'd like to type with only one hand, so I'm considering getting some stickers to show also the dvorak layout.

        As to speed, I haven't done any measurements, but my general feeling is that I type perhaps

    • Another thing to consider is that if you're a software developer, the mapping of the alphabet keys is almost irrelevant. I hardly ever type whole words; I type a couple of characters then the autocomplete key. Other than that, it's mostly punctuation.

      Since almost all the symbol keys are awkward to reach, I've done lots of modifications to my vim profile to accelerate the coding symbols and sequences I use most, and I've mapped them to the most easily typed key sequences. That's far more significant to me th

  • Don't do it. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MikeFM (12491) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:11PM (#31394272) Homepage Journal
    I type fast and am accurate. I look crazy when I type in my strange pecking way but it works and it takes the stress off my wrists that 'correct' typing would cause. Stick to what you're doing and screw what other people think.
  • by noidentity (188756) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:13PM (#31394300)
    Go voice, you won't regret it. Dear aunt, let's set so double the killer delete select all.
  • I was in this situation many many years ago in that I hadn't learnt to type properly and just did what came natural even though it was fast.

    I decided I wanted to type properly anyway though, and just spent a few hours on Mavis Beacon's typing tutor app to get an idea of what the right keys are. After that I just made a concious effort each type I sat down at the keyboard to put my fingers on the correct initial keys. It really just came naturally after that- it wasn't a big deal, again, just a few hours wit

  • Switching to Dvorak worked for me. As a life-long Qwerty hunter and pecker, teaching myself to touch-type on Qwerty was too difficult.

    Of course, by doing so you will freak-out other people who try to use your keyboard, but I actually enjoy that. Plus, it's easy to switch back and forth.

    Whatever you do, avoid discussing whether or not Dvorak or Qwerty is superior to the other. Dead-end conversation. http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/01/18/210216 [slashdot.org]

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:16PM (#31394344) Journal
    Some years ago, I read a study by a woman who looked at the technique of several great pianists (eh, one keyboard's the same as another). She found there were some few things that they all played the exact same way. Her conclusion was that for these few things, they played the same way because there was only one way for the human hand to possibly do it. For the other things, their technique varied drastically. There was no uniformity at all in styles. Her conclusion was that if it works, it is correct.

    Thus in your case I suggest that if you feel your fingering method for typing is slowing you down, then try to figure out what exactly is slowing you down and see if you can speed it up. That will be easier than trying to use some arbitrary rules that may or may not make a difference.

    This is especially true when we are talking about arbitrary rules taught to beginners, where the teachers are often not experts, and the rules are often formulated to make it easier for beginners to learn, not to make you as fast as possible. Going back to the piano example, beginners are often taught to play with their wrists held high, fingers curved, playing on the finger tips. This is decent advice, but sometimes it's faster and more precise to play with your fingers straight and flat (Horowitz did this on fast black-note passages sometimes).

    Actually I can give a ton of examples where the 'rules' weren't necessarily the best, and the people became the greatest in their field by breaking those rules (appropriately), but I'll leave it at, "if it works for you, use it."
  • Use Dvorak, and take typing lessons.

    If that doesn't work, try voice recognition.

     

  • how were you rated? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'm always amazed by people around here that claim to type in the 80-120 wpm range and I have to wonder, how were you all tested? Have any of you actually taken professionally administered typing tests? Or are these guesses or scores from those crappy online typing tests (which are very much like online IQ tests -- "Your IQ is 185!!!!!"). I ask because I've worked with people who claim to type ~90-100 wpm before, but in reality it's usually closer to 50-60.
    • by vlm (69642)

      I ask because I've worked with people who claim to type ~90-100 wpm before, but in reality it's usually closer to 50-60.

      They can only type as fast as they can think / author / read / BS / debug. Some folks are surprisingly slow.

      Given a fairly stereotypical, low content, yet long, business letter in a typing test, folks might be able to squirt out 100 wpm. In the pre-xerox, pre-wordprocessor era, that was even a marketable skill. Not so much now.

      Relatively few people can productively concentrate faster than they can type, at certainly on average, and probably also at peak.

  • I call bullshit (Score:3, Informative)

    by pongo000 (97357) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:27PM (#31394458)

    These days my qwerty typing speed is in the range of 90-110 WPM

    Hunt and peck maxes out at about 40WPM, with burst speeds of up to 70WPM [wikipedia.org]. I doubt this is a sustained typing speed. And there is no indication of error rates.

    Yet another fluff piece by kdawson without a shred of credibility. For all we know, he made this up to fill in for a slow news day.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mdielmann (514750)

      Comprehension fail. He didn't say he uses hunt-and-peck. He said he doesn't use formal touch-typing technique. Now try to imagine, just for a moment, all the vast possibilities in between those two styles.
      For instance, I commonly use my index fingers on neighboring keys where they shouldn't go, I rarely use my pinkies for anything but home row, shift, and enter, and I often shift my hand one key left or right, depending on what I'm typing. It's not hunt-and-peck, but it isn't formal touch-typing, either

  • by The Archon V2.0 (782634) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:28PM (#31394472)
    ... does technique really matter? I've had three kinds of experiences as far as typing.

    School
    Teacher: Here's a typing test.
    Me: OK. (Types.)
    Teacher: Your technique is absolutely horrible, you'll never be able to progress like that. If you're going to take typing you'll have to start in the beginner class and relearn from scratch.
    Me: No, thanks.

    Clerical job interview
    Interviewer: Here's a typing test.
    Me: OK. (Types.)
    Interviewer: 90 WPM, only one error. You pass.

    Technical job interview
    Interviewer: You've been using computers since the Commodore 64 days and remember DOS. Yeah, we're not going to bother with a typing test. I'm sure you're fine.

    My uncle was a journalist who typed with two fingers his entire career. His editor didn't care if he typed them by slamming his face on the keys, as long as the reports were on time and well-written.

    So, unless you need to do something for ergonomic reasons or just a mad fit of self-improvement, probably not worth it. Your ring finger will get over the neglect.:)

  • If so, don't bother. That's what makes the huge difference between touch typing and hunt-n-peck typists. With touch typing all your fingers tend to be on the keyboard and you get a feel for where you are while I see most others do write/look/write/look/write/look, it's quite easy to see if you pay attention to their eyes. By keeping your eyes on the paragraph or block of code/query/whatever, you get a lot more mental focus on what you're doing than the mechanics of typing it. I do know the feel of what you'

  • The "correct" techniques were developed for keyboards which were basically like this:
    Old manual typewriter [patricktaylor.com]

    Note the huge vertical spacing between the rows. Note the long travel of the keys, and consider the need to strike them consistently (or typing quality suffered). Consider the amount of force it took to strike a key. Is your computer keyboard much like that? I suspect not. So while there may be good techniques for computer keyboards, they're unlikely to be similar to the tried and true "correct" te

  • xletters (Score:5, Informative)

    by knewter (62953) <josh.rubyist@gmai l . c om> on Sunday March 07, 2010 @05:58PM (#31394742) Homepage

    I had the same problem, and I needed to fix it. I was a transcriptionist and got paid per page, so my typing speed directly impacted my pay. Typing properly will make you type faster, so I learned. You should use xletters. It's what I did. Just play the game for 15 minutes a day and do not allow yourself to use the wrong fingers to type. Done.

  • talking is faster then typeing.

  • I recommend the Saw film franchise. I'm sure many of Jigsaw's games could, with a little creativity, be adapted to typing skills!

  • by DoninIN (115418) <don.middendorf@gmail.com> on Sunday March 07, 2010 @06:31PM (#31394980) Homepage
    WTF? Guys, I can probably type as fast as anyone I know. I used to do 25WPM on an IBM selectric and if it's an online typing test I can probably get in the 60s or low 70s if I've been typing a lot lately. If you can properly type 100WPM you're awesome and need no improvement. Now... If as I suspect you've not been paying terribly close attention to the results of these tests, or you're including some kind of raw speed without factoring in the mistakes.... Or You've found a test that doesn't use the whole keyboard?
    Sure maybe you can jam 100WPM if you're picking the content, but really? I mean on one of the reputable typing tutors that does things like make you use the whole keyboard, all the punctuation and type things like "The forge of the marigolds: Lo! Eleven, thirty-comes early| 35# of sheeps-head costs $87 despite your 11% discount."

    Probably I'm just old, despite being a long time geek I learned to type simply because it was an easy class to take in high school. (I already knew how, because my handwriting is awful, so I took lessons young) On the one most of you didn't have to learn to hammer hard enough for a big old Royal manual, on the other hand most of you never knew the pure joy that was the action on the IBM selectric. Seriously, we need those for computers, I'll pay a couple of hundred dollars I don't care, that would be amazing.

  • Frist Post! (Score:4, Funny)

    by BeardedChimp (1416531) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @06:44PM (#31395094)
    I don't see any reason to touch type, I hunt and peck fast enough.
  • Mavis Beacon (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RevWaldo (1186281) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @07:08PM (#31395274)
    Way back in the day hustling for temp work, typing speed counted. I used Mavis Beacon for DOS which drills you on touch typing - even using your pinky. Got up to about 70 WPM touch-typing - which means NOT looking at your fingers. (Which is why I'm taking your 90-110 WPM estimate with a grain of salt - MB will tell you what your typing speed is!)

    Mavis Beacon's like Tetris - it's been around since 1987 and ported to every platform that counts. And it can teach Dvorak too.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mavis_Beacon_Teaches_Typing [wikipedia.org]
  • by DontScotty (978874) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @07:18PM (#31395344) Homepage Journal

    80 WPM means 6.5 characters per second - bull sh!t.

    http://imlocation.wordpress.com/2007/12/05/how-fast-do-people-type/ [wordpress.com]

    "Notice that that out of the three thousand four hundred and seventy five applicants, not a single one could manage 120 WPM. And only the top 5% of applicants could manage 70 WPM or higher."

    So - this OP is claiming to be in the top 5% of people who work in professional typing jobs?

    Someone needs a re-test.

    http://tinyurl.com/yb8zf95 [tinyurl.com]

  • Anonymous reader (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fuego451 (958976) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @07:44PM (#31395580) Journal

    If you can really type 90-110 wpm using improper technique, you are already typing faster than 99.99% of professional typists. I'd call out just about anyone who claims they can type more than 65 wpm or so.

    Oh, and there are plenty of places on the web where you can learn proper technique. After that, it's just practice.

    Damn, it took me five minutes to type this and I don't care.

  • Don't switch unless you feel interested in learning different and want to try to keep you brain fresh. There is no other reason to go though the aggravation.

    Now personally, I find my biggest pet peeve is how the bumps on a PC keyboards are not on the D and K keys like they were on my Mac. When I am typing in a dark room, I want to search for the home row with my longest fingers. It causes horrible wrist strain trying to search with your pointer fingers for F and J. It boggles my mind who come up with that. It definitely wasn't a touch typist.

    And then of course there is the minor problem with how laptop keyboards have absolutely no spacing for sections of the keyboard... Oh the woe of being a midnight typist!

  • Dvorak (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fusiongyro (55524) <faxfreemosquito@yah o o . com> on Monday March 08, 2010 @10:45AM (#31401154) Homepage

    At the end of my college career, I noticed my hands and wrists were getting strained, so I spent my last semester switching to Dvorak, Emacs and the Kinesis Ergo Contoured [kinesis-ergo.com] keyboard from qwerty, vi and the Microsoft Natural keyboard.

    There's endless debate about these things, and apparently some questions about Dvorak's research methods. There's also new keyboard layouts that are supposedly about as good as Dvorak without sacrificing usability and faster to learn (I'm talking about the Colemak [colemak.com] specifically). Ultimately it is very hard to make a strong recommendation for any of these switches based on a solid, unarguably scientific basis.

    However, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that most people who switch to Dvorak and the Kinesis keyboard experience some combination of reduced hand strain and faster typing. My personal impression is that the Kinesis does more for strain and Dvorak does more for speed and comfort. I personally had reached a plateau in the 75-90 WPM range with qwerty and now I think I'm in the 110-125 WPM range. I don't think Emacs had anything to do with the changes. The control/alt/etc. keys are hit with the thumbs on the Kinesis, and the escape key is still in Siberia, but in practice I don't think either one has any tangible ergonomic charm once you're using Dvorak.

    Lately I have noticed that there are some keys which I type strangely. But I was taught on a typewriter and I learned the classical method--I even continue to find use for the caps lock key, a victim of a lot of unnecessary derision in the programming community. I sometimes hit keys that should be hit with the pinky with my ring fingers. I don't think it's worth worrying about too much if you're not looking at the keyboard, it doesn't feel uncomfortable, and it's not slowing you down. The greatest danger, IMO, is discomfort, followed by speed and accuracy problems. Accuracy is the least of my concerns, really. I can usually feel when I've typed something wrong and I correct it often without looking at it.

    If you're looking at the keyboard, you would probably benefit from starting over from scratch, and if you're going to do that, it would probably help to switch keyboard layouts at the same time. It'll prevent you from getting more frustrated at the relearning process.

  • by Walles (99143) <johan.walles@NOsPaM.gmail.com> on Monday March 08, 2010 @11:13AM (#31401444)

    1. Get a Kinesis Countoured keyboard: http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/contoured.htm [kinesis-ergo.com]
    2. Suffer for a couple of weeks since it feels like starting all over again.
    3. Enjoy typing a lot faster than before.

    I did it. It works, provided you don't give up during step 2.

  • Do it right... (Score:3, Informative)

    by TemporalBeing (803363) <bm_witness&yahoo,com> on Monday March 08, 2010 @01:27PM (#31403158) Homepage Journal
    ...and get a split-key keyboard. it'll force you to use the right hands/fingers for typing, and you'll be fully touch-typing before you know it. Personally I recommend either of these (despite their maker):
  • by dwiget001 (1073738) on Monday March 08, 2010 @02:38PM (#31404096)

    I attempted and actually succeeded at this some years ago.

    I was a fast 100+ WPM typist on QWERTY keyboards and, after typing on QWERTY boards for 22 years (started in 7th grade, 1974), I learned to type on a Dvorak board. It was difficult, but finally learned it, could touch type almost as fast as I could on a QWERTY board.

    However, that experiment pretty much ended there. Sure, I could use my Dvorak board on my own computer, but refused to lug it to work (or anywhere) where I might need to use a computer that, of course, only had QWERTY boards.

    Unfortunately, it's a QWERTY world, and trying to maintain knowing two keyboard layouts by touch, was difficult. Not un-doable, but hard to keep separate when burning up the keyboard typing stuff.

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