Monday, July 19, 2010

Learn To Type Week - Recap

(interested in what all the fuss is about? Read the original post)

Wow! It has been a great week of typing practices. Lots of people took up the challenge and began practicing home-row touch-typing. There were people who were starting from scratch, unlearning years of existing techniques, and some who took the opportunity for further refinement, perhaps getting those pesky numbers and symbols under control (something most people have trouble with). A bunch of people frequented for incredibly fun car-racing action. At Eden Labs, they even did a video of two employees racing (Aimee Daniells and Tom Crayford). Watch and see what it looks like when someone types 100+ wpm.

Rather than write a teary-eyed, looking-back account of the journey through the week, I'll end with a challenge: Keep It Up! This week was an intense series of 30-minute sessions every day, but it was just a start. If you continue to practice frequently, either while writing blog posts, coding or just doing focused transcription practices, you'll find your speed increasing and your errors decreasing. Transcription is an important way to learn and practice the techniques, but the real stuff comes when you are producing content. Write a blog post with a paper over your hands. How did it feel? When you get back to coding, are you looking at your hands when you hit the funky symbols, like ( or { or [? If so, why not do some practices to get those under control.

And remember, typing is a fundamental skill, not just in coding, but these days, in life. Is it the only skill you need as a developer? Not by a long shot. However, chipping away at impediments to getting your ideas out there is an important step towards improving your competency. Having a strong and fluid command of your keyboard is a valuable first step towards the goal of mastering your toolset.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Learn To Type Week - Day 4

(interested in what all the fuss is about? Read the original post)

So, Day 4! How quickly time flies when you are typing, eh?

This week has been amazing. I've talked to people who are taking the time to unlearning years-learned techniques in the effort to improve their typing skills. Others already type from home row, but they realized they don't have a good feel for the number/symbol row. More people are discovering "Learn To Type Week" and starting at the beginning. And, of course, there is the racing. It is a blast to sit and let my fingers fly around the keyboard, totally balls-out.

Speaking of, Eden Development realized a video of two of their people, Tom Crayford and Aimee Daniells racing. (@t_crayford and @sermoa) Hilarious! Go watch what 90-100+ wpm fingers look like.

So, my advice for today is about the same: continue the path you've started. Watch the #learn2typewk search on twitter, so you can keep up with the others who are doing it. As a community, we can keep ourselves motivated in our practice. A great way you could practice what you've learned so far is to write a halfway-mark blog post about your experiences. In our day-to-day lives, we rarely do transcription, instead we are typing while producing. Writing a blog post will allow you the opportunity to apply what you've done these past days to a more real-world situation. And, as a bonus, it will spread the word.

See you on the #learn2typewk racetrack! If you want to send the racetrack link to others, you can use the shortened url:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Learn To Type Week - Day 3

(interested in what all the fuss is about? Read the original post)

Wow! Another day has gone by in "Learn To Type" week. I've had a great time watching people mark their progress on twitter (hashtag: #learn2typewk): everything from home row stats to switching to dvorak. I'd highly recommend putting a persistent search into your twitter client for #learn2typewk, so you can see all the people who are working with you. Tomorrow is Day 3! Almost halfway done, so don't despair, we're almost there!

There are a lot of people putting their speeds and accuracy counts up; it is really neat to see the improvement. Now that 2 days have gone by, try to set a realistic goal for the end of the week. Speed isn't what it is about, though, perhaps you want to consistently type effectively for all the rows without looking.

What to do today?

As always, I recommend starting with a baseline:'s 1-, 3- or 5-minute tests. Then, continue the practicing you started.

I've noticed that when I'm doing practices, I find it easy to stay on a single one until I've 'mastered' it. So, I might be practicing the home row keys and find that I have them down, but maybe I could do them faster. Don't worry about the speed, just move on to the next exercise. Remember, speed comes once the techniques are in place.

As always, don't forget to intersperse your practice with fun! is a great way to reap the benefits of all that practice. I'm keeping the racetrack open at, so feel free to post a challenge on twitter with the hashtag #learn2typewk. If you are registered on the site, you can create your own track too and put out a private challenge.

Just think, no matter what, if you participate, you will win! Huzzah! That's more than can be said for a lot of things.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Learn To Type Week - Day 2

(interested in what all the fuss is about? Read the original post)

Good morning, everyone! I meant to have this up last night, but I misjudged my timing. Sorry to the people in Europe, already being long into the afternoon and all.

Day 2! I've been excited to see how much the response and participation from people for "Learn To Type" week. There are people who are trying to learn to touch-type for the first time, people working hard to overcome years of bad technique, people who are moving from QWERTY to Dvorak, and loads and loads of racing on But remember it isn't about your speed, it is about your technique. Speed will come, but technique and form is what we are practicing. Of course, everyone needs fun, so we meet on typeracer for some balls-out typing competition.

What to do today?

I would recommend starting with a baseline on's 1-, 3- or 5-minute tests. Then, continue with the lessons you started yesterday.

If you have started some lessons, continue them. How are you feeling on the home row? Move on to the lessons that include other parts of the keyboard. I would recommend you keep on the path you started yesterday, as those lessons are built for incremental learning.

If you already touch-type, but are working on your form, then I highly recommend doing a few 5-minute tests on; I like the fairy tales. My goal this week is to make it all the way through #26: the cobbler and the elves (not to be confused with the keebler elves).

Don't forget to intersperse it with some fun. If you want to take a break, then head on over to I'll be keeping the coreyhaines track open, so you should be able to use that as a primary meeting point if you want to race other "Learn To Type Week" participants. If you want to call some people into a game, you can post the shortened url on twitter with the hashtag #learn2typewk; people might be up for a race. Otherwise, go on the open tracks and race away.

And remember, it isn't about where you are today (no cries of 'I Suck!'), but about where you will be soon (only cries of 'I'm getting better!').

Keep it up today!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Learn To Type Week - Day 1

As I wrote in my last blog post, tomorrow starts "Learn To Type Week." What does this mean? I encourage you to read that post to understand the motivation. For now, though, let's talk about this week. We had a lot of fun over the past couple days with, and I hope to keep having fun with it, but now starts the work for the week.

I will be writing a blog post every night with some ideas and encouragement to keep you going through this week, spending 30 minutes a day working on your touch-typing. Are you already touch-typing? Maybe you want to spend the time improving your speed. Or, work on the top row (numbers/symbols).

On Day 1, first thing, here's my recommendation: go here and do either a 1-, 3- or 5-minute test. If you are just starting to touch-type, then do the 1-minute test; if you are an experienced touch-typist, do the 5-miute. But here's the catch: do it with a piece of paper over your hands: no peeking! The key for this is not to do it quickly, but to do it with 0 mistakes. This is your real touch-typing speed. So, do it a couple times, if you want, until you are satisfied. This is what you are going to measure yourself against over the course of the week. After you do that, mark it down. Why not put it on twitter or your blog? Let's do this together, and we will be more likely to keep it up and encourage each other.

Now, choose your typing lessons (I have some links on the original blog post, and you can always google for them) and start. Are you just learning to touch-type with home row? Then start going through the step-by-step tutorials. Are you an experienced home-row touch-typist wanting to get better? Maybe do the 5-minute typing test a couple times, interspersing a few trips to Go to this site and play some games: what's your best score at Keyboard Revolution? Gotta Love The Duck!

Tomorrow, we'll reconvene and do some more.

And remember, this isn't about where you are now (no cries of 'I Suck!' only cries of 'I'm Getting Better!'), but where you are going to be, where you'll be in a week. So, try to make positive comments about your status. Believe me, it will help.

Hashtag: #learn2typewk

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.