These touch typing tests (keyhero) are a little annoying because at speed and length, they start to test focused fast reading as much as they test typing. On a long piece, I estimate about half of my mistakes to be of the kind where I insert or skip a word (“that they” vs just “they”), change a word where it makes sense in the given context (“my” vs “the”), or even entirely confuse a word (“confused” vs “focused”). Maybe insert a comma where I would’ve placed one if I had written the text.
The faster I go, the more expensive such a mistakes become; I might’ve typed the entire word or two thirds of it by the time I realize the mistake, and then I have to backspace over some arbitrary number of characters to fix it… it does not help that at speed, I have to focus my eyes almost fully on the text I’m reading and not on what I’m typing, so I don’t see my mistakes as they happen. And that makes them so much slower to correct. Annoyingly enough, sometimes I’m so far ahead when the mistake registers that the application gives me penalty even if I go back and correct the word.
Give me a short piece and I can reach 130 wpm with ~100% accuracy. On longer pieces, these expensive mistakes can easily take my speed to 90 wpm, sometimes even less.
It would be interesting to see how I’d do on a similar test in my native language. Quite a few English words slow me down dramatically, and indeed I might not even know the correct spelling.
There are other touch typing trainers / tests where the program only displays one word (or a few) at a time. On these it’s definitely easier to reach higher speeds.
Thank you for a detailed comment. All these tests are just synthetic tests. Of course, it is very different from how do we type in real life. Most of us type our thoughts in prose and code, thinking and editing as we type. I use those tests just to track my progress from time to time.
Your 130 wpm is very impressive. Could you share your learning story, please? When did you learn to type that fast? Do you practice deliberately on a regular basis? Thanks again.
I don’t practice deliberately, I just type a lot. In a context where it is often useful to type fast. In realtime chats, especially IRC. So I don’t really know what brought me here, apart from typing a lot.
I got started on touch typing when I read about the Dvorak keyboard layout and decided to give it a try. I found a file for xmodmap that remaps my keyboard to a custom variant of Dvorak, and I put up a little cheatsheet on the screen. I didn’t know how to restore the original keyboard layout without restarting X (and especially back then, I always had tons of stuff running that I didn’t want to stop and restart) so I just had to force myself to learn it, which I did, rather quick. I started with a TUI touch typing trainer and practiced long enough to have a decent idea about where all the letters are, then continued on organically by chatting on IRC, posting on forums, etc.
I still use Dvorak, and I type on a Kinesis Advantage Pro. I’d like to try another layout though (and another keyboard; I’m not super happy about the Kinesis' bugs).
EDIT: after a couple dozen snippets, I seem to average about 105 wpm and 97% accuracy on keyhero.
I’m also very annoyed with the Kinesis Advantage Pro stuck-modifier issues. Seems like they recently released the Advantage2, so maybe those issues have been addressed.
That’s what I thought as well. But I am not compelled to give them any money; they’ve been aware of the problem since forever, and IMHO the right thing to do would’ve been to acknowledge it, fix it for free or at least give us the option to buy a fixed chip if it’s really a hard-wired bug. And they really shouldn’t have kept selling the broken keyboard. In fact, when I purchased my kinesis, I kinda figured that it would’ve been fixed by then; the reviews I read before making the purchase were old from days when PS/2 was still popular, and I was getting the USB version. Instead they kept selling a product that was known to be broken. I’ll look for another maker or (preferrably) make my own, when I get around to it.
Thanks. Why would you like to switch to another layout? What are those Kinesis’s bugs?
I’ve explored the research into layouts and I think there are ones that are better optimized than Dvorak. So they could hold a promise of more comfort or faster speed or both. Maybe fewer typos?
As for the kinesis.. the problem is that modifier keys occassionally get stuck. Not very often, but often enough to be annoying, and especially for a device at this price point it is inexcusable.
Admittedly I’m also unhappy with the mushy rubbery function keys. And I’d prefer to have a real numpad in the middle, as on a maltron 3d keyboard. Maybe, maybe I’d like the trackball option too. I’m not going to buy a maltron though; I’ve heard it’s got similar bugs.
The kinesis is a little slow as well. You’ll notice if you try to play a rhythm game (like stepmania) with it. There’s slight delay between each key press, and it can get unbearable on fast sections.
Noted with thanks. What do you think about steno?
Check out a quick coding with steno demo by Ted Morin.
It’s cool for live transcribing speech, but I’m not convinced it has much use beyond that, unless your day to day work involves typing tons of text in a given natural language. It works because it can be optimized for the syllables and vocabulary of that language. Once you need to step out of that confine, you run into trouble.
The coding demo is awkward. Frankly it looks like he had to pre-program his steno for the program he’s going to type, and then he’s struggling to remember his new chords. It’s not fast, and it’s especially not fast in the general case where identifiers can be anything and you can’t optimize it for the specific constructs of the language or framework you’re using. If saving strokes or typing things fast is a concern, code editors already do a great job with macros, templates and completion (the last of which requires no programming to be useful).
I have to say that character input speed isn’t really a concern for me when I’m coding. I feel like I type fast enough as is, so I don’t really even need the fancy editor features (I use vi). Much more time is spent on the thought process anyway.
Thanks, good points.
For an app that teaches you techniques and provides lessons, I can highly recommend http://getkeysapp.com/
(Mac only, sadly)