I learned to touch-type in the 80’s, as I got into computing, with help from a lunchtime class that our commerce teacher ran. Not so easy to touch-type on a ZX81 – we used typewriters. I’m fairly fast, but I’ve drifted from doing it properly, and tend to keep looking down at what I’m typing.

As I expect to be programming and using computers until I can’t physically do it any more, I need to look after my ability to type effectively. Qwerty isn’t optimal.

A couple of times in the last few years, I’ve tried to remedy this by learning the Dvorak layout. I’ve gone through lessons with a tutor program twice, but then as soon as I started using it for the day job, the difficulty of adjusting my muscle memory’s knowledge of Vim and Eclipse rears up, and I stop using it. Having to enter the usual panoply of symbols whilst programming is also more difficult.

If I were only writing straight English, this wouldn’t be so much of a problem. So, write more English… like this blog, which has become woefully neglected. There’s also the possibility of resurrecting writing short stories. (Thomas Pynchon need not start getting worried.) I also like the idea of 750words.com, where a writer puts down 750 words of any stuff that comes into your head, first thing, every day.

The Colemak layout is supposed to be better for programming with than Dvorak, so for my third and final attempt at speeding up, I’m using aTypeTrainer4Mac with this layout. It’s going well so far; I’m just moving off the home row.

So the plan is to train up, then when I’ve got all the keys in muscle memory, write English daily with it. Then and only then start looking at adapting it to use for programming.

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