Procrastinatory Undertakings: Touch Typing

Written by Ari von Nordenskjöld on March 20, 2019.

There are many things that you can do when, really, you should be doing something else entirely. One such things is generating a new Hakyll website and tinkering with the styling the entire day. Another one is writing blog posts like this one. Yet another one is trying to learn how to touch type.

I’ve been doing so over at The Typing Cat. It’s great, but not perfect – annoyingly, there is a bit of input lag. I’ve tried command line tools previously, but none were as good as The Typing Cat – perhaps I should do some more looking, or build my own tool. What I really like about The Typing Cat, though is the gamification/progression – it motivates me to come back and repeat all the exercises all over again. Hopefully I can make it into a daily habit.

It’s a bit embarrassing to not be able to touch type – but I am far from alone among my peers. Almost everyone runs with the old two-finger-cowboy routine of using primarily the index fingers to hit the keys, and occasionally hitting nearby keys with another finger and hitting modifiers with the thumb or pinky. It can be surprisingly fast, and I haven’t yet managed to get my ten-fingered speeds up to my old benchmarks – there’s quite a bit to go.

I’ve realised that the main thing that slows me down is typos - having to reach over for the backspace really disrupts the flow. I haven’t found a good key to rebind it to on my current keyboard, but I have ordered another (complimentary) keyboard (which will be the subject of another post) on which I think it might be easier to reach backspace by default, or otherwise rebind it to one of the two parts of its spacebar, which is split in twain.

(After writing the above paragraph I just realized that the button to the right of my spacebar could actually be re-programmed to backspace, so I have done so now. It will take a bit of getting used to, and it remains to see what the impact will be.)

There are some habits that need to be killed in order to type properly with ten fingers. They are really all caused by hitting keys with the wrong fingers - for example, I keep hitting ‘Y’ with my left hand, even though it belongs to the right hand. Another tricky one is ‘P’ - hitting it with the pinky always feels very awkward, even though it is the right thing to do. It takes a concious effort to do it right. I have also realized that keyboards have a left shift for a reason - though making sure to actually use it takes discipline.

One problem I’ve had with my current keyboard, which is equipped with Cherry MX Clear switches, is that the activation point is quite near the top, which leads to a lot of typos when simply feeling around for keys. The activation point might make life easier for a more proficient touch typist, though – we’ll see, if I ever get there. It’ll also be interesting to sea if the blue switches on the keyboard which I have ordered make life easier or not.

Tagged: procrastination, typing