Jumped the Synapse: Thoughts without sponsors!

These are my thoughts that don't fit in my other blogs. They'll eventually cover a large range of topics.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Colemak Keyboard and Microsoft. Colemak, a new alternative to Dvorak keyboard.

I have just read about another keyboard setup, called the Colemak, which I think I'm going to try and teach myself. It's similar to a Dvorak setup in that finger distance is intended to be minimized, but it also retains the Qwerty layout for the lessor-used keys, so the learning time is minimized whilst speed is dramatically increased ... I tried to teach myself Dvorak, but eventually gave up, as I just couldn't get up to a reasonable speed and had pressing matters to type ... so the shorter learning curve is definitely appealing to me ...

I just tested myself, here, http://www.powertyping.com/typing_test/typing_test.shtml to see what my speed is. Going flat out in Qwerty, it's reported at 43 wpm, but with total errors of 14, or 7.7 per minute. The program informs me that, no matter the typing speed, an error rate of 1 error per minute is considered acceptable. My wrists also hurt after doing this speed.

Using the most commonly-used test recommended at the Colemak site (typing test.com), and using the two minute "Zebra" test, I achieve a gross speed of 38WPM, a net speed of 33WPM and an accuracy rate of 88%.

I also saw a great tip there one the Colemak forum, that a person uses the words typing game to quickly improve their speed. This seems like a great way to get better at this, quickly. Words, at 2addicted.com.

The clear downside I can see to this whole regime (aside from the learning curve), is that my work environment is CITRIX, which doesn't allow any programs (such as the free program need to change the keyboard from qwerty to Colemak) to be downloaded onto individual computers. So I'm not sure how I'll be able to take full advantage of this program, since only the Qwerty and Dvorak layouts are supported by Microsoft's OS's.

The other thing that might prove interesting, is that I'm going to try to convince the dark lords of Redmond (ha,ha), i.e. Microsoft, to support this layout in XP and Vista. I've already made sent one email to them, and they redirected me to a Microsoft Canadian call centre, where a very helpful fellow, Roy Nehme, assisted me. However, I have the feeling that this will be an extremely long process, and am going to continue to report it out to you here, both the time spent, and number of emails, calls, letters and whatever expense is associated with this.

To date:

  • 1 email, est 5 minutes total
  • 1 toll-free call, est. 25 minutes total

That's about all for now ...

N.B. July 1 2007. The other thing is the datahand ... a weird-looing item if I ever saw one, but one which reportedly reduces RSI and also improves typing speed. It's located at datahand.com. A less advanced version of an improved keyboard layout is the SmartBoard, located at datadesktech.com.

One more additional thing: I've found a program that allows keyboards to be re-mapped, see this link for the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator. This may solve my problem at work regarding a CITRIX layout.


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