Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Learn To Type Week!

(posts for the week:

As I've traveled around and programmed with a lot of different people, I've noticed a really frightening thing: in general, programmers don't type correctly. I'm not sure why this is, but it makes me sad. Most of the people I meet that don't touch type still can bang away a lot of words a minute, but if you watch their heads, it is like a bobbing robin, constantly looking down to see where their hands are. What a waste of motion and context switching.

Typing is a fundamental skill for programmers. We spend our days manipulating text, so it makes sense that you should have it mastered. In a way, it would be like hiring a carpenter and seeing them flailing around with the screwdriver, missing the screw sometimes, maybe poking their finger. What would you think? That's how it looks when you are hunt-and-pecking. Embarrassing!

So, I thought I would put a challenge out there: Learn To Touch Type! For the most part, you know where the keys are, it is just a matter of quieting your hands down and learning the home row position. I wager that, for most people, it would take about a week of daily 30-minute practices. A Pomodoro! That's all.

In fact, why not do it next week, July 12th - July 18th. I declare next week to be "Learn To Type Correctly" week (hashtag: #learn2typewk)! If we do it as a community, supporting each other, then it is more likely that we'll shed the baggage of bad typing skills. Come on, you can do it! Blog about it, twitter about it, get the word out. Everyone will feel better, and imagine your pride when you sit down at a keyboard and don't ever have to look at your hands.

But, Corey, you say, I thought typing wasn't the bottleneck. No, it isn't, but ineffective typing can be. Having to look down at your hands disrupts your flow. When you can just let the words come out without thinking, you will be much more effective.

There are plenty of online typing courses that you can use. Here's a couple I checked out:

This one is very structured, using extreme repetition to push the positions into your head. Try it out.

This is one of my favorites. I'm not sure about the actual lessons, but the games are a lot of fun (I like Keyboard Revolution).

This is a step-by-step lesson plan. You have to register, but it keeps rankings and lets you print out certificates.

This is a fantastic site where you get into 'car races' against other online opponents. Think of the old horse-racing games at the carnival with the balls that you throw into holes to make your horse go. Now, instead of horses, think cars, instead of balls, think your keystrokes. (BTW: I'm Corey Haines or coreyhaines or on, if you want to friend me)

This is just a short list. If you don't like them, feel free to use another.