Before I started learning programming two years ago I was a horrible typist. I would type with one hand one finger, circling each key like a blind hawk looking for food. I’ve slowly worked up my typing speed to 65 words per minute with a low error rate (1-2words), but my eyes are still half glued to the keyboard and a hand operation that went wrong a few years ago has given me a rather strange way of typing. One of my personal goals is to be able to type without looking at the keyboard and keeping a good speed and low error rate. Why? Because:
1. It would help me navigate better with commands without having to interrupt my focus from what is happening on the screen to where my fingers are on the keyboard.
2. I will detect writing-errors faster, hopefully have less typos and less pain editing my Pluralsight videos.
3. It would make me more efficient, not just programming, but also presenting as I can communicate and have eye contact and not stare down in my keyboard.
But in short, and this is most important to me, it will make me feel more confident in what I do. And its pretty cool.
My mission is not to be super fast, but to free my eyes and mind from the keyboard.
I decided that the best way to go about it is to get a decent keyboard with no prints on it and just suffer through the first few painful days (or weeks) before I get the habit in.
Here are the rules:
- Type at 8h on it a day, emails, code and blog posts. I’m currently preparing several conference sessions and have a lot of code and scripts to write.
- I can use the laptop keyboard for passwords and as a reference when I’m in despair.
- Do 3x1min typing tests each day with only using the same text twice.
- I’ll blog the progress, and how it feels, each day.
The Black Widow blue switch keyboard was replaced with a Das Keyboard Ultimate keyboard with brown switches (silent and more sensitive).
Lets start with day one, Monday. Baseline testing is done on my keyboard, I think the result is fairly accurate in regards to speed and error rate, I’m probably a bit more faster and less errors since I used the laptop keyboard which I haven’t done in a while. I don’t try to push the speed, but write as I always do.
Here is the Das Keyboard score taken first thing in the morning. I go back and redo the words that are errored (you cant use the mouse or the arrows, you delete the characters) and struggle to locate u and I in particular, again and again.
The day with Das
I almost cry when I hear the lack of click on the keyboard, I miss my old keyboard but I’m sure my coworkers are happier. Frustration builds very quickly as the first thing I need to do is write a long email in Swedish. I almost never write in Swedish. And we have strange characters such as äöå. My friends laugh at my spelling mistakes on Skype and I write less on twitter and Skype, and get better at using intellisense. CTRL + space and tab becomes my best friend.
At the end of the day
I still did better than I thought I would. If I relaxed and just trusted my hands it went better. Handling the frustration and not giving up was by far the hardest thing, but it paid off as it felt like it went better at the end of the day and I was eager to see the result the next day.