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Friday, 09 February 2024


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"writer, photographer, or forester. Two out of three ain't bad, eh?" Have you looked out your windows recently? I think you're closer to the last one than you want to realize. (That actually sounds like a peaceful life to me, ignoring the idea of the sound of chainsaws.)

Just cut back some shrubbery now and then, your life will be complete. :)

A few years ago we successfully converted a co-worker from a hunt and peck typist to a touch typist using the Mavis Beacon typing program.

I assume it, or something like it, still exists.

IIRC it has a number of tests that identify problems and then games and drills that focus on fixing those. Slightly more entertaining than just sitting there trying to type.

If you learn visually, I wonder if it would help to stick a small photo of your actual keyboard to the bottom of your monitor. Technically, you wouldn't be looking at your keyboard. Yes, it would interfere with the goal of keeping your eyes on the text, but I wonder if you'd soon not need to focus on the picture because just having it in your field of view would be enough. (Enough of what, you might ask? Well, I think insecurity and panic has a lot to do with this hurdle, so call it "confidence" or "reassurance".) Just a wild theory from someone far from expert in these things. Is it cheating? If it works, who cares? Plus, it brings photography into the project!

That leads me to a weird thought: I "hear" in my mind the words I type as I type them, as I do when I read or write. Is everyone like that, or am I a weirdo? And if I'm not a weirdo but a type (no pun intended), is this related to my preference for quieter (though not silent) keyboards?

That, in turn, reminds me of a tip from typing class: the key to speed is not raw velocity but maintaining a steady tempo and rhythm. Perhaps something to consider when choosing your background music.

I wasn't prescient about computers, but nonetheless took a high school typing class back in the late 1960s. Got up to around 45 words per minute without mistakes, if memory serves. It's been very helpful. I still look down for numbers and top-row special characters though. Never programmed my brain-finger servo loops for them. :-)

So you are making progress, but you are not out of the woods yet.
: )

visualize the keyboard.

My high school gave an aptitude test to everyone back in the 70s. Six of my top 10 career suggestions were along the lines of HVAC engineer, HVAC repair, HVAC designer, etc. My teenage self decided the school knew there were a lot of HVAC workers needed and they were pushing everyone that way. Two of the other top 10 career suggestions were forest ranger and photographer; interestingly, I've been into landscape photography for most of my life and have actually been paid to photograph parks a few times.

If the class is any good it should be one of the old original ones that should about 6 weeks in length, 1 hour a day 5 days a week. Continuous drill. By the end they will give you a manual typewriter with no markings on the keys - and you will be able to do about 45WPM error free including numbers and symbols. Hard to believe? Check it out. Like learning to ride a bicycle (little more difficult). Once you get it, you will never lose it (maybe the numbers and symbols).

Hi Mike, I learned to type with the Tap'Touche software. Now it's done online. It was like a game, I started from nothing and now I write 40 words a minute. That's good enough for me, but it's possible to do better.

I should change the title of this blog, this is not about photography anymore, but only about you, and only your person, dear Mike. It becomes irritating.

[I'm sorry! You're right, I have not been doing a good job these past few days. I'm desperately behind on comments again, for one thing, something I was trying not to let happen, and am struggling to catch up. --Mike]

When I started off as a newspaper reporter I taught myself to touch type by battering out "the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog" over and over, gradually shutting my eyes for longer periods as I progressed. Back in those days, we had to have 100 wpm shorthand and my typing got very close to my shorthand speed. Mind you, I was always crap at shorthand...

Keep at it, Mike. Some success will come. In high school, I decided that taking personal typing would be a good idea. At one point the class's teacher, not known to be a particularly kind person, stood above me at the typewriter that lacked any markings on the keys. After a short time watching me, she flatly stated, "You will do better hunting and pecking." I am still not clear how that would have worked with those blank keys. I later was given a portable typewriter and kept at it, eventually my fingers learned where the keys were. Then later, I became a reasonably successful consulting environmental scientist/aquatic ecologist until retiring, needing to continually touch-type technical reports on computer keyboards. This was made somewhat harder by my inherited mild dyslexia and, I assume, a related generally poor spelling ability (still thanking daily the computer spell checker). I am still a slow typist, but I can get'er done. Keep at it and I will keep reading your posts!

Mike said

"Why do something for which you have little aptitude?

For the sheer enjoyment of it? Dancing is a prime example; singing is another. I’ve only ever had fun playing tennis, but I'm rubbish, and I'm ok with that.

If you’re serious about learning to touch-type, get a computer program like Mavis Bacon. It has the advantage of giving you visuals w/o looking “down” at the keyboard.

Touch-typing is a skill that Uncle Sam taught me. 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, for a month - in “crypto school.” Came out of there at 100 wpm, pretty much error free. Never used it in the military (standard joke there), but has served me well all my life. It’s worth pursuing. Being fast at touch-typing allows you to keep pace with what I call cranial vomit onto the screen. I reorganize later.


Back in the day, there was a great typing program called "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing" that really got me back in the game when I got a computer and started typing again.

Not sure what's available now, if anything.

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