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Re: xkb options

On Mon, May 14, 2007 at 08:46:16PM EDT, Celejar wrote:
> On Mon, 14 May 2007 18:44:12 -0400
> cga2000 <cga2000@optonline.net> wrote:
> > On Mon, Apr 30, 2007 at 07:49:15PM EDT, Celejar wrote:
> > > On Fri, 27 Apr 2007 16:51:35 -0500
> > > "Russell L. Harris" <rlharris@oplink.net> wrote:
> > > 
> > > [some helpful, very detailed typing instructions]
> > > 
> > > Thank you very much.
> > 
> > So how's your typing coming along?
> I've been using gtypist to learn dvorak, and I'm making progress. I've
> got the home and upper rows pretty much under control, and I'm working
> on the lower row. gtypist doesn't always give complete instructions, so
> I'm benefiting (I hope) from Russel's advice, and I have a PNG image of
> the keyboard (taken from wikikpedia, before I saw the 'xkbprint'
> command explained on the list recently ...) to show me where the keys
> are. 

I'm not sure this is a good idea .. except maybe at the very beginning.
Objective #1 is to get your _fingers_ .. so to speak .. to "know" where
each character is.  Pavlovian .. a given character results in a given
finger action .. But even this .. at least that's my personal experience
.. is only true at the very beginning.  Pretty soon your fingers will
travel the keyboard faster than your eyes could take in individual
characters.  At that point you will need to be able to visually parse
the text you're reading into predefined letter groups .. let's call them
"syllables" .. and develop the ability to translate automatically these
larger elements into memorized successions of keystrokes.  Unfortunately
..  the English language especially as it is written has an extremely
large number of "syllables" ..  something like seven thousand, I
believe.  True, some are more common than others .. But all the same, to
master the keyboard .. or in other words make the interface as
transparent as your mouth ..  lips ..  and vocal chords .. when you
speak .. you eventually want your fingers to remember them all.

> > As a f/up to Russell's excellent "minute tutorial" .. 

I'll second that.  There is actually more useful advice in Russell's
post than in the entire "help" provided by gtypist.

But where I am impressed most of all is that I cannot imagine Russell
spending a couple of hours writing this mini-tutorial of his.  He will
in/con-firm this .. but I have a feeling that since he appears to be  a
proficient typist it was just as easy for him to come up with his
mini-tutorial "in writing" as it would have been for him to explain the
same things viva voce. 

I have known a couple of folks whose typing had become second nature and
what I found amazing was that they were able to come up in a few minutes
with some form of rough howto text on any technical subject that they
were familiar with where with rougly the same technical knowledge, it
would have taken over an hour to do the same thing.

Retrospectively, I realize that it was not just a matter of their being
capable of typing at least five times faster than myself.  No, it was
mostly because to them typing had become so ingrained in their persona
that there was absolutely no overhead involved.  They could type with
just as much ease as I speak and nothing related to the typing itself
interfered with their thinking process while they were writing. 

Speaking of tutorials .. my personal impression is that gtypist provides
an invaluable collection of typing drills but falls short of providing a
full-fledged tutorial.  

Among other, things that I feel are missing:

1. Does not keep track of your progress via some form of stat file

2. Does not let you move back/forward within a drill to let you practice
   a difficult sequence over and over. If the difficult sequence is in
   line 7 of the drill ..  you have to start from line 1 .. By the time
   you get to line 7 again, you've pretty much lost your concentration
   and end up making the exact same mistakes .. What to do .. Go back to
   the beginnning .. etc.  Personally, what I do is fire up a vim
   session (or even an xterm) and practice whatever is causing me grief
   outside gtypist and go back to the drill when I feel I am ready to
   ascertain my progress.  I don't think I should have to leave gtypist
   to practice something and come back when I feel I am ready for more. 

3. Concentrates on typing the way it was done 40 years ago rather than
   computer users.  OK for email & irc but there's nothing much in
   standard gtypist drills that directly helps improve your typing when
   it comes to typing C/C++, java, other programming languages, shell
   commands, or anything else that falls outside the obsolete typewriter
   keyboard ..  including such very common things as Alt/Ctrl combos ..
   On the other hand it is extremely easy to add your own custom drills
   .. just copy some linux kernel code fragment, eg. under vim .. add a
   few simple gtypist markups and you're ready to roll. I think it's all
   explained in the gtypist man page or possibly the comments in

Another thing that is not too wonderful about gtypist is the keyboard
navigation commands .. such as "N" meaning "Next" in some cases and "No"
.. as in do you want to continue? .. in others .. What happens quite
often is you type "N" out of habit and get kicked out of the series and
have to go through the entire series again when you thought your "N" was
going to take you to the "next" drill ..  Quite infuriating .. There are
other examples of poor gtypist ergonomics that used to  -- and still do
at times ..  drive me nuts.

[Note: The above criticism is NOT meant to disparage gtypist.  It's a
very useful application and I for one owe it and therefore its author
and awful lot.]

> > I would add that you may want to find yourself a nice little old
> > retired typist who enjoys and understands teaching and needs to
> > supplement her income. Take a few lessons .. She probably won't
> > charge you all that much and it may as much as halve the time before
> > you can type proficiently.  

> Thanks.

I'm totally conviced you could become a much better typist (faster ..
more accurate .. less overhead involved ..) if you found someone to show
you how one types .. someone to correct your mistakes & evaluate and
encourage you as you go along.  I believe I would have been where I am
now at least a year ago if I had initially made that sensible choice.

> > Teaching yourself any skill takes a lot longer because you have to be
> > the student and the teacher at the same time.  Besides .. things like
> > posture and hand/wrist/forearm position are fundamental.  You'll find
> > that it's almost impossible to practice your drills and watch yourself
> > doing it at the same time.
> > 
> > Just a thought.
> I'll have to consider this, thanks for being interested!

You are more than welcome.


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