It’s been a year now since I switched to the Dvorak keyboard layout and learned to touch-type, so it seemed like a good time to assess progress so far.
I now consistently type between 60 and 70 WPM, depending on the day and the text I need to type. I’m reasonably happy with this, but when I originally switched, I was hoping that I would get up to 80-90WPM within a year. Also, I can’t really touch-type numbers, and I usually need to look at the keyboard to type some of the non alpha-numerical numbers that get used often when developing (e.g. ‘[', ']‘, ‘$’, ‘^’ etc.). Finally, typing still hasn’t really become as automatic as I’d hoped it would; to achieve high speeds, I still need to concentrate on typing, whereas I was hoping that I would have interned the typing to an extent that I didn’t really need to think about it anymore.
So, I think I’m going to start practicing again (in fact, I already started a little over Xmas). I’m kind of hoping to have resolved all of the above by June this year, so that I can finally stop thinking about typing
For my own reference, a couple of ways of setting up the Dvorak keyboard in Ubuntu Linux.
System > Preferences > Keyboard > Layouts tab > Add button > Dvorak
For a single terminal session:
Adding this line to your
.bashrc should result in it applying to all your terminal sessions.
All X sessions (including the GDM logon screen and Gnome):
For all X sessions (including the GDM logon screen and Gnome), add
Option "XbdLayout" "dvorak" to
/etc/X11/xorg.conf as such:
Identifier "Generic Keyboard"
Option "XkbRules" "xorg"
Option "XkbModel" "pc105"
Option "XkbLayout" "dvorak,gb" #use the dvorak keyboard layout
This allows switching between the Dvorak and GB layouts by pressing both shift keys at once.
Simply make sure that
/etc/default/console-setup contains the following lines (replacing any options with the same names that might already exist):
The change will take place after the next reboot. This is equivalent to choosing Dvorak as the default keyboard layout during installation, or running
sudo dpkg-reconfigure console-setup from the command line.
Well, I broke the 55WPM mark on the home row this week, but things go downhill pretty rapidly from there. On other exercises I hover between 35 and 45WPM, and on a general typing test I fare much worse (around 33-35WPM on this typing test). So, I’m still pretty far off the mark from my ambitious ‘60WPW in a month’ aim, but I guess the idea was to aim loftily, and then reassess after a month…
I’ll definitely need a lot more practice to reach 60WPM. My overall speed is still slower than my quick hunt-and-peck QWERTY skills, which was probably to be expected but is still disappointing. I also still have to think about where letters are on the keyboard when I type most of the time, and in the real world (i.e. not typing tests) I still make a lot of mistakes even on the keys I’ve practiced the most on. On the positive side, I can actually type mostly without looking at the keyboard, and I’ve more or less assimilated using the basic copy-cut-paste keyboard shortcuts with the DVORAK layout.
The key to faster speeds will obviously be more practice (which I’d let up on a little in the past couple of weeks) - with regular practice, I’m hoping to make 60WPM overall in the next month or so.
Well, better but still far from perfect. I broke the 50WPM barrier on the home row this week, at 98% accuracy too, but I also let up on the regular practise a little (I must have practised two or three times this week for an hour or so at a time, down from 6 the two first weeks at an hour and a half or so each). I’m still nowhere near as good at any of the other exercises though, and I still catch myself looking at the keyboard quite regularly.
Interestingly, I noticed myself being rather verbose in some of by emails this week, presumably as a subconscious reaction to the joy of finally being able to type at something approaching reasonable speeds. I’m also starting to get a feel for the positions of the keys other than the home row without having to look at them too, although I’m noticing that I frequently get the ‘e’ and the ‘o’ mixed up. Another interesting thing is that I seem to be in a different mindset when typing freely and doing the exercises; for some reason, some of the keys I remember well typing freely don’t seem to make it over to the exercises - I guess the different visuals (the terminal for dvorakng and Windows for daytime work) disassociate the two in my mind, which is a shame…
Well, there has been progress, but it has been slow. I’m on around 40-45WPM on the home row (which accounts for 70% of keys in English), but my error rate is still high at round 95-96%. The WPM drops dramatically once I leave the home row though, at around 30-35WPM for anything involving the top row (I haven’t even tried any exercises involving the bottom row). At least the frustration of typing letters at what seemed like 2WPM has abated, so I can stop resorting to using the mouse as much as possible and actually write emails without crying…
So I’m going to try to learn how to touch-type again; this will be my second attempt, the first being about three months ago. The difference is that this time I’m switching to Dvorak cold-turkey; the last time I had also tried to learn Dvorak, but I think that the constant swiching between Dvorak and Qwerty was what ended being discouraging, as progress was very slow.
It’s been just over a week now, and the first few days were among the most frustrating I remember having in a long time. The double-switch of Dvorak and touch-typing proved very difficult. On the first day, it took me almost 20 mins to write a 5-line email sheerly due to my typing speed; it got to the stage that I was not emailing people back because the frustration at not being able to type was so great. It’s not so bad now; I can type at a reasonable speed, I’m guessing around 10-20 WPM, which is still horrendously slow but at least workable. I had set myself an ambitious goal of 80 WPM in a month, which right now doesn’t seem achievable, especially given my still very high error rate - still worth trying though…