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Keyboard Layout thread – Introducing Colemak
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PanzerTape Offline
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Post: #1
Keyboard Layout thread – Introducing Colemak
This is a post about ergonomic keyboard layouts.
It's geeky, but this forum is a priceless source of information on various topics, and this is something I can contribute.

WHY?

Originally, the by-now well-known QWERTY and AZERTY layouts were devised with failible typewriters in mind. The most useful keys for Indo-European languages such as English, German and French are spaced far apart so as to not jam the plungers on typewriters when adjacent keys are depressed.

In the modern age, this is not useful and a hindrance to efficient typing. There's no need for maintaining this layout other than the momentum built up over the years.

Another good reason for retiring the good ol' QWERTY layout from your computer habits is to learn proper touch-typing skills anew.
In short, typing becomes easier, with less finger movement and more importantly, less key misses (the need to use the backspace).

HOW?

I recommend the Colemak layout. This layout offers the advantage of being similar to QWERTY, preserving the most important shortcuts and reorganizing what matters, the "home row", which is where your fingers should rest when idle, the go-to position.

There's also another popular one, Dvorak, but I haven't any experience with it, so I won't talk about it here.

Compare:

[Image: qwerty.gif]
[Image: Colemak_layout_2.png]

As you can see, the middle of the keyboard is populated with mostly useless keys, and this is improved upon.

SWITCHING

Head over to colemak.com.
On Mac OS X, the layout is already installed by default. On Linux too. Windows, you need to install it, quite simple.
Print the layout of Colemak, and just go cold-turkey. The first few days will be quite hellish, but after a week it is likely that you will be proficient enough to work and such. I made the switch at work on a whim and it wasn't really a problem at all.

It will take a long time to reach your previous typing speed, but once you get there, there's good reasons to believe you will exceed it, at greater accuracy.

No matter what you do, DO NOT peck, i.e., look at the keyboard or the printed sheet. That's for the first few days only. I can't stress this enough. I have no clue where the keys are, it's all muscle memory.
With proper typing, you have 4 fingers hovering on ARST and NEIO respectively. They move up and down to reach the proper key. The left pinky has Q and Z, then the ring finger has W and X, and so on. the indexes have PVGDBJHKLNM only. That's it for technique.

I have been using this layout for 4 years now and don't even think about it anymore. I use QWERTY daily on the cell phone to keep that skill up to date too, but I still can't touch-type QWERTY so I dislike it.

Well, that's it. Hopefully it will be useful to someone.
(This post was last modified: 10-10-2013 05:00 PM by PanzerTape.)
10-10-2013 04:52 PM
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presidentcarter Offline
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Post: #2
RE: Keyboard Layout thread – Introducing Colemak
That's interesting. I've always taken pride in my ability to type rather fast. I'm learning to type in Russian right now but I may mess around with this later on.
10-10-2013 05:00 PM
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PanzerTape Offline
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Post: #3
RE: Keyboard Layout thread – Introducing Colemak
That's a good point, I forgot to mention that the layout supports all the latin-characters languages around, like French or German with simple modifiers. äåãøöüúłóíéñá`ß and so on available with the ALT key. Check the main page for the Multilingual section.

No Russian unfortunately. I am learning Russian so that's a problem for me also, I'll be looking into that myself, some sort of transliteration system seems to be the way to go with that.
10-10-2013 05:07 PM
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Ridge Black Offline
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Post: #4
RE: Keyboard Layout thread – Introducing Colemak
But this means re-learning how to type. That took YEARS the first time, not so sure the benefit outweighs the cost...
10-10-2013 07:58 PM
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WestIndianArchie Offline
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Post: #5
RE: Keyboard Layout thread – Introducing Colemak
Kaufman talks about this in his 20 Hours book.

WIA
10-10-2013 09:50 PM
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CaliforniaSupreme Offline
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Post: #6
RE: Keyboard Layout thread – Introducing Colemak
Interesting but I can't do this.
I use an Thinkpad, and I'm used to the IBM keyboard. I type VERY fast, because all my notes are taken by computer. This would take ages to get used to.
10-10-2013 09:52 PM
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PanzerTape Offline
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Post: #7
RE: Keyboard Layout thread – Introducing Colemak
some "pro" typers have made the switch and benefitted from it, mostly they switch because of RSI showing up, or afraid of it in the long run.

I would argue however that it's rare that people learn proper QWERTY at all, they just use two fingers combine with looking or improvise something that leads to RSI later on
10-10-2013 10:10 PM
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CaliforniaSupreme Offline
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Post: #8
RE: Keyboard Layout thread – Introducing Colemak
(10-10-2013 10:10 PM)PanzerTape Wrote:  some "pro" typers have made the switch and benefitted from it, mostly they switch because of RSI showing up, or afraid of it in the long run.

I would argue however that it's rare that people learn proper QWERTY at all, they just use two fingers combine with looking or improvise something that leads to RSI later on

I use all fingers when typing, the Colemak is pretty weird to me. I can use Dvorak decently, but nothing beats QWERTY for me. Personal preference I guess. I take breaks between typing and I use voice-to-text to take lecture notes.
10-10-2013 10:46 PM
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