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Re: xkb options

On Thu, 17 May 2007 22:24:56 -0400
cga2000 <cga2000@optonline.net> wrote:

> 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.

That's what I mean; when gtypist starts using new letters without
telling me where they are, I briefly bring up an image of the keymap to
see what I need to do, just like the wall chart that Russell suggested.
I don't keep it out very long.

> 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. 

I think I get the idea; I'm not quite there yet. I can do all the
letters and major punctuation by touch, but I still require a fair
amount of conscious thought to do it.

> 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
>    /usr/share/gtypist/gtypist.typ

Excellent points.
> 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 agree that gtypist has rough edges; I just couldn't find anything
better. dvorak7m has its points, too, but I've switched over now to
gtypist. I haven't tried dvorak-ng since it's not in Debian. I'm sure
it's easy enough to bfs, though. 
> > > 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.

Thanks again, I'll consider your advice about hiring a professional.
> Thanks,
> cga

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