Michael Wolf
Projects and thoughts from Cincinnati San Jose Oakland an undisclosed location in Grass Valley
Home Projects Photos Github Mastodon Nullbrook RSS
Reflections On Two Seasons With Colemak
Last edited - 23/10/17
The stickers are off and the typing tests are over. My coworkers have stopped teasing me. I feel like I have defeated the level of typing speed I surrendered when I decided to switch from QWERTY to Colemak three months ago. Plus, I've achieved a competency in touch typing and another special snowflake badge. I'll use this post to catalog some takeaways, anecdotes, and ponder my next steps in the quest for efficiency. -Me, 3 months ago

I have a history of bad habits and stubbornness about them. I have held my pen incorrectly since the age of six and I can't read the journals I've kept by hand for ten years. No teacher's compassion could save me from the benign doom that is sloppy handwriting. I am inexplicably slow at tying my shoes. I bite my nails on occaision to the point of an inability to use my fingers. However nothing has cut into my efficiency as a denizen of the 21st century and a developer as my slowness at typing. It was probably a combination of early access to computers and no formal typing classes, but all the way up to my early adulthood I had been effectively a four finger typer. I simply could not break out of the habit. It simply worked well enough. Yet as I dove deep into efficiency hacks and keyboard shortcuts, I realized I should do something stupid and drastic. I switched off QWERTY.

What would be the logical conclusion? DVORAK? Nay, that is far too well supported in modern operating systems. Colemak was my choice. I can't quite remember why, but I thought the layout made good sense so I went for it. And I really tried this time. I tried much harder than I did in elementary school, when the bad habits of my early computer experiences had made any correction from fun online flash games completely moot. This time I obeyed the finger patterns and even mapped my Caps Lock to Backspace (more on this later.) However, despite my progress, I seemed to be slower overall than when I was pecking QWERTY. Even as I made progress, I thought to myself that I would switch back to QWERTY as soon as I completely forgot it so I could properly retrain myself.

I would like to thank my patient coworkers at Kroger Digital who watched me, grimacing, as I put label-made stickers over my keys and went through hourly keyboard exercises from the wonderful Learn Colemak website I had to switch back to QWERTY for emergencies, but I stuck to the new mapping. It's now been about half a year since I first switched over and I am marginally faster on Colemak and absolutely sluggish on QWERTY keyboards. My girlfriend sighs as I hunt and poke on her fancy mechanical keyboard. But I think I'm going to stick with Colemak. I feel that despite the social detractions of being on a different keyboard layout, remapping a million keys on every new non-Linux system, and some occaisional strain, I have achieved a respectable level of typing proficiency and I can totally focus entirely on whatever needs to consume my attention.



My quest to become a mature typist has landed me into a bit of an awkward situation that while being a bit of a hassle, has benefited me tremendously. I'm certainly not alone in my conclusio. I haven't completely ruled out returning to QWERTY, but I would have to remap so many keys I've gotten used to that it might as well be a whole new system.

For anyone interested in trying out a new keyboard layout I would highly suggest these resources. It's easier than learning a new language and may just boost your productivity.

The preparation
Moments before doing the same to my precious laptops