August 04, 2003
Lemonodor Secretssss (#1)

I can't touch type.

Posted by jjwiseman at August 04, 2003 08:00 PM

that can't be true.

no way you can program for 1+ years and not be able to touch type.

say it isn't so.

Posted by: b on August 4, 2003 09:00 PM

Just like the adults, I've now remapped Caps Lock to Control. To force myself into making the transition, I have left the Control key unmapped.

It's funny to play with something that is so hardwired into the fingers, but on the other hand, it's quite annoying to have to think before pressing Ctrl-Space.

Posted by: Christian NybÝ on August 5, 2003 05:59 AM

I started programming in the early 1970s. I still don't touch type. I know where all the keys are, but I use the wrong fingers.

Posted by: Reilly Hayes on August 5, 2003 06:17 AM

I learned to type when I was a young, on a TRS-80 Model I, and then an Atari 800, neither of which had a keyboard that was amenable to 'touch typing' for pre-teen hands. That, coupled with a temporary injury to my left index finger, gifted me with a definitely non-touch style of typing. I type fast enough to code and send emails, though, which is all that matters. I'm not transcribing the MS trial.

Posted by: Art Taylor on August 5, 2003 06:48 AM

I couldn't touch type until I switched to Dvorak about 5 years ago, when I switched, it took about 2 weeks. Maybe it's because I can't rely on looking at the keys now, but QWERTY never made sense to me anyway. For some reason, I can remember the Dvorak layout.

Posted by: Gordon Weakliem on August 5, 2003 09:04 AM

I've often thought I should switch to Dvorak, but I've been too lazy to actually put in the effort. That's mostly because "the effort" would have to include going back to the bad old days of on-line games, where the ability to fire off rapid bursts of sufficiently accurate text was important. I'm not sure I could retrain those twitch reflexes anymore.

Posted by: Michael Hannemann on August 5, 2003 09:34 AM

Well, I've pushed non-touch typing about to its limit, which is pretty fast; certainly faster than I need for coding. Sometimes I think it'd be nice to to be able to go faster for non-coding purposes, but I'm just not willing to take the hit in speed that would accompany learning real touch typing.

Posted by: John Wiseman on August 5, 2003 09:46 AM

A permalink to the Dvorak course above:

Posted by: Allan on August 5, 2003 01:11 PM

I mean, of course, that for weeks I'd have to live with a much lower typing speed as I went through the learning process.

Posted by: John Wiseman on August 5, 2003 03:17 PM

I learnt to touch-type Dvorak a few years ago after many years of touch-typing QWERTY; I did it in part to slow down my typing and head off early OOS symptoms (which it seemed to do). Plus, learning new stuff is good.

I've found that I can still TT-QWERTY well, and recite the layout, but although I can TT-Dvorak as well, I can't picture the keyboard the same way. Also, I still get my vowels confused. Messaging in Counter-Strike (in QWERTY) is still doable, but it is annoying that it doesn't respect my keyboard settings.

My father, a programmer for thirty years or so, never learned to touch-type, but that hasn't slowed him down.

Funny how this article has generated so many responses... ;)

Posted by: John Pallister on August 5, 2003 07:22 PM

a large portion of Pixar's animation system was programmed by bill reeves, who types with his two index fingers.

i watched him do it for years in amazement.

Posted by: flip on August 8, 2003 08:45 PM

"no way you can program for 1+ years and not be able to touch type."

Ha! Like Reilly Hayes I learnt to program in the 70's and I only learnt to touch type last year when I decided to become a writer. I still code, use CLIs and login to websites and stuff using the old two finger method though; probably because I've only learnt to touch type the letter, punctuation, shift and delete keys (there seemed little point in learning to touch type the number and special character keys--let alone the fscking ctrl key--as there's not much call for them in writing).

Posted by: Dshan on October 22, 2003 04:23 AM

Re: keypad keys in XEmacs for Windows

was the first reference I found to remapping the CTRL key. I've done this before, but I can't find the other link, anyway create a reg file and inport it:


[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layout]

"Scancode Map"=hex:00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,03,00,00,00,1d,00,3a,00,3a,00,1d,00,\


It doesn't become active until a reboot.

Posted by: on October 28, 2003 07:29 AM

I think it's very rare to find programmers whose productivity is typing-bound, even if they are not touch-typists. Most of us have to, um, pause for thought pretty frequently (and a good thing too).

If there are six "words" per line, a 60 wpm coder would write 14,400 lines of code, or about 218 pages of 66-line printout, in an 8 hour day (with no copy and paste)...

Just speculation, but I bet that the very slowest typers have learned to do more thinkahead as they type. I bet if you recorded them the rate of typing would sound fairly steady, where with fast typists you would hear bursts of typing interrupted by silent thoughtful pauses.

One of the most productive coders I know has the use of only one arm. All he needs is a keyboard layout that does not require key chords wider than the span of his hand.

Posted by: Timboy on October 28, 2003 08:52 AM
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