The typing before i'm dead

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JayCowle

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Hello humans,
I must start with a confession: that despite many years of pouring terrible ideas into keyboards I have never learned to type. I am here now as I believe, despite the the apocalyptic vibes of 2020 it is not too late*.

I say 'I can't type' but perhaps that is an over simplification as over my lifetime I have developed a sudo-ASDF typing style. This 'style' enables me to pound the keys at a reasonable rate but the process is ungainly relying heavily on my right hand and sight of the keyboard. My typing is lopsided, as if my right hand were at a rave whilst my left enjoys the village toddler's morris dance.

The problem is: My style works well enough. I once passed a temping agencies typing test but it was not pretty, for me to read and type at speed is an ungraceful affair. My dream is to type as Mozart would have done: with one ear to the desk (ideally wearing something frilly) whilst my fingers are ablaze in a symphony of overly long forum posts.

I am aware of the old matriarch Mavis and her methods. I have typed at the dead but I wanted to ask The Children of The Bomb: How did you learn? From whom? Do you have any tips? Any preferred games? Tell me your tails of typing for I thirst for inspiration.

*Based on my last doctors appointment.

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Ulfhedinn

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Well you don't lack the flair and style of writing :D
I had loooong session of practice in MMOs. Since they're social games and you're actively communicating with dozens of people at once with topics bouncing back and forth.

Dunno how long it took me but I can write at a reasonable fast rate without looking at my keyboard thos my left hand is dominant and doing 80% of the work xD

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Justin258

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#3  Edited By Justin258

My teachers in school put plastic covers over the keyboard so I couldn't see the keys and had to learn them. Also I'm a southpaw and the more common letters are on the left side of the basic American keyboard, for whatever reason.

For you it seems like it's just going to be breaking some bad habits. Put your fingers on the homerow keys and don't let them travel to the wrong side of the keyboard.

Also, if you've got the spare change, get a good mechanical keyboard. Those aren't a magic ticket to good typing skills but they make typing feel a hell of a lot better.

Edit: Also I just noticed how you spelled sudo. Bad habit from using Linux?

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cikame

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#4  Edited By cikame

MSN.
In school me and my friends were on MSN Messenger typing all the time, now i'm the fastest most accurate typer i know.
I still have one friend on Skype, a sort of pen pal, we could voice chat but it's more cathartic to type out our streams of consciousness, that and these forums mean i'm still typing quite a lot every day, keeping my skills up, but i think i am slowly getting worse with age.
The first time my typing was challenged was playing Hugo III, Jungle of Doom!, there's a scene in that game where as soon as the screen loads i think a mouse is walking towards an elephant or something, and you have to type quite a long command really fast, i was probably 7/8 at the time so my older sister had to do it for me, now i breeze through typing games.

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Edit: Just saw the comment recommending a mechanical keyboard, no, no no no, at least not for me, i require membranes or i cannot function.
Edit 2: Remembered another fun early typing moment, cheating in Age of Empires taught me to type "pepperoni pizza" quickly.
pepperoni pizza pepperoni pizza

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Sweep

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#5 Sweep  Moderator

I was taught to touchtype at school but that never stuck. I only realised a couple of years ago that my fingers already knew what they should be doing purely by muscle memory, a result of the decades spent typing to people on MSN, the IRC, forums, blogs and MMO's. I don't even need to keep them glued to the keyboard - my hands hover and the fingers drop on autopilot, and it's only when I really start to concentrate on what I'm doing and look down at my hands that things start to goasa biasdmnfmasdfohgodit'shappeningagainnNNNNNN

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Ravelle

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#6  Edited By Ravelle

I believe everyone has their own style of typing, the style that's most comfortable for you.

I never had any typing lessons at all but I grew up with computers typing stuff in MS-DOS to start up my games, copying games over, renaming files and applying no-cd cracks in MS-DOS and such.

Fast forward 25 years and posting on many forums and chatting online and I can type super fast and can even type without looking at my keyboard.

A bunch of years ago I also put my actual writing to the test and started writing reviews for comics and a bit later doing Game of the year top 10 lists which was very fun to do!

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stalefishies

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#7  Edited By stalefishies

You don't need to learn to home-row type. You really don't.

Touch typing - typing without needing to look at the keyboard all the time - is very useful, but that's different to strict "these keys are for my left hand, and these keys are for my right hand, and never the twain shall meet" home-row typing. If home-row works for you, then great, but it's not necessary at all.

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Shindig

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I can't tell you when I learned to touch type. I just know one day a work colleague mentioned I was doing it.

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RalphMoustaccio

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I took a typing class as a sophomore in high school (1995). Despite the school having a dedicated computer lab, the class required us to learn on an IMB Selectric II typewriter, like the one pictured below. I've used a typewriter maybe twice since that time. Once was to type my application to college. I did learn to type pretty well, though, so I guess it worked out.

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ShaggE

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I hear ya, I've been a one hand typist my whole life, and while I'm weirdly fast, I can't hold a candle to traditional styles. Still, it works for me.

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OurSin_360

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School and Mario teaches typing (or whatever it was called). Like just play that and you'll learn in a few days.

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snaketelegraph

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I also had those weird plastic covers at school, with a lot of Mavis Beacon. I can switch to one handed if need be (so I can eat ice cream) so it's not like if you learn traditional you can't go back to the way you know at times.

It definitely gave me the edge over people when playing Typing of the Dead, which is probably the best typing game. There's one out there called Epistory that looks cool too. TypeRacer also has the kind of "just one more try" competitive thing that online games like Geoguessr excel in.

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Shindig

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Boring data entry jobs probably are probably how it came together for me. Although I think the keyboard as a controller is something I've grown right out of.

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Onemanarmyy

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#14  Edited By Onemanarmyy

We had one of those desks where the keyboard was on it's own platform and needed to be slided outwards, but that would also kind of force you to sit further away from the screen. But i was just a little kiddo with little eyes so i wanted to be close to the screen. So it kinda trained me to use the keyboard without sliding the platform out to actually be able to see the keyboard. Pair that with MSN and the wonders of early internet & battle net chatrooms and you have pretty fertile ground for a kid to get used to typing.

Nowadays i don't need to look at the keys anymore, but at the same time i'd get nervous if i couldn't see my hand placement in the periphery or quickly check on the screen if i'm still on the right row of keys.

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Gundato

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#15  Edited By Gundato

Grew up in a house where we had a computer for as far back as I can remember and being able to navigate dos and launch aladdin or doom or mortal kombat meant I could play those when my parents were too busy to deal with me. Suddenly realizing that may be how I learned to read...

Similarly, middle school had a mandatory typing course where the teacher would let me read if I finished the daily lessons quickly enough.

So rewards are a good motivation. But mostly I think it is just decades of chatting with people online and having a job that involves a lot of typing. Like all things it takes practice and repetition.

For what it is worth: I tend to always start on the home row and very much prefer keyboards with markers on what are apparently F and J. But I tend to not stay on the home row and my hands travel a decent amount as I type. I tend to return to the home row but depending on what I am writing my hands will definitely center around different keys. Which is probably actually bad from an ergonomics standpoint...

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imhungry

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Entirely too much time spent on MSN and random touch typing games that are probably lost to time were probably the two biggest teachers for me. I use home row but the weird quirk I've never managed to get rid of is sometimes using my index finger to hit the spacebar.

As far as typing games go, since you already mentioned Typing of the Dead I'll shout out Epistory as a great typing game. It's generally less intense so can be great for learning and consciously thinking about how you're typing while still being a pretty enjoyable game.

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JayCowle

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@ulfhedinn: Oh i've not heard of this will have a look as that sounds more interesting then my Mavis-mobile running out of gas. Thanks!

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JayCowle

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@justin258: covers over the keys? My goodness! Saying that I'd happily try a blindfold and pretend i'm karate kid. Maybe have a text to speak type thing on to announce my nonsense.

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JayCowle

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@cikame: as a dyslexic individual typing pepperoni is a challenge on multiple levels... but so rewarding!

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JayCowle

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JayCowle

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@ravelle: I've been writing a story during lock down as a way to escape to magical places and ive been trying to improve my typing at the same time but... when a good idea/what appears to be a good idea/bad idea in a good idea hat comes along it all goes out the window.

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JayCowle

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@ralphmoustaccio: It doesn't have the bar thing to swing back so this seems barbaric. I spoke to my dad about this last night and it turns out that for his whole career he dictated to a secretary which may now be my new life goal... if only so i can pace and hold a glass of scotch whilst reciting my shopping list.

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JayCowle

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@oursin_360: Oh i will have to seek out this Mario game. Was it ever on a Nintendo console with a keyboard? as that would be a curio to behold. I seem to remember the mouse (for mario paint?).

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Justin258

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@jaycowle said:

@justin258: covers over the keys? My goodness! Saying that I'd happily try a blindfold and pretend i'm karate kid. Maybe have a text to speak type thing on to announce my nonsense.

You can make multiple replies in one comment, dude, even on mobile.

Anyway, yes, covers over the keys. They felt awful to type on and they were probably disgusting but I don't care to remember that. What I do remember is that I hated them with a passion, they made every computer class I was ever in hellish and they pissed me off. Still, one of my coworkers hunts and pecks with his index finger while staring down at the keyboard. Meanwhile, I can type every part of this post without looking down at the keyboard almost as naturally as I can play a video game without looking at my Xbox controller. For that, I am thankful, and I would say that forcing yourself to use such a plastic cover is a pretty good starting point.

As has been said multiple times in this post, "proper" typing - with the home row keys and each finger having a specific range of characters it's supposed to cover - those should be used as guidelines. If you find it more comfortable to reach for Y with your left index finger, as I do, then do that! But start with the home row keys, don't look down at your keyboard, and keep practicing.

Unrelated comment - you remind me of a certain other Jay that used to frequent these forums.

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RalphMoustaccio

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@jaycowle: Alas, it was far too advanced to use the carriage return, as those fun little bars are called. My mother told me an amusing story involving a typewriter that did, when she worked as a secretary in the '60s. She was typing diligently way, hit the carriage return (perhaps a little more firmly than usual), and the whole top portion of the typewriter flew off, crashing into the side of the desk next to hers. Whoops! Unfortunately, with an electronic typewriter with a return key, that kind of thing just didn't happen.

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xanadu

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So it sounds like most people in this thread did not learn how to type in school? Or what you learned was not efficient to stick with you?

We had alot of typing programs to learn from at school that helped me a lot. But I guess now that I'm thinking about it they were never required.

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NTM

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When I was in school, there was no such thing as typing class or whatever you'd call it (well, as far as I remember). There were definitely computer classes, but not classes that strictly taught how to type. It was just a thing that had to be done to get work done. I think I learned how to type without looking at the keyboard in high school. I remember having a conversation about it with another student and teacher. Sadly, now that I think about it, it wasn't that long ago. I mean, it was in 9th or 10th grade, which is 2003/05. It could have been in middle school, but for some reason, I don't think so. I wasn't on the computer as much then when it comes to typing words. I played games, but not so much typing paragraphs or anything like that. I did go on GameSpot in the early 2000s (around 2002), but I didn't type much then either.

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Cloudleet

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I don't know how it happened, but one day I realized that I was writing something and hadn't looked down on the keyboard for a good while. I think a lot of it stemmed, not from Typing of the Dead, but from Typer Shark, a game made by Popcap way before all they did was Peggle and Plants vs Zombies.

Also, I used to write a lot of short stories back in the day, purely for my own reasons, and I think I just learnt that it went faster if I tweaked my writingstyle here and there. But hey, if it works, it doesn't need an added layer of grace.