Typing – two fingers, four fingers, etc.

They always say ex-smokers are the worst people at badgering smokers. Fortunately, I’ve avoided that path.

However, one I am going to have a little rant about is typing. And yes, I’m a reformed two/four finger typist.

I’d been in the industry since the 70’s but only learned to type around 1990. I so wish someone had convinced me to do it earlier.

If you work in this industry and you can’t use a keyboard effectively, now’s the time to change that.

I used TypeQuick and loved it. I have no idea how good their current versions are/aren’t but back then, it worked a treat for me. It was a frustrating program in that no matter how good you got, it just kept timing your keystrokes and pushing you that little bit harder.

The biggest problem I see with learning to type was that the programs assume you can spend an hour a day for about two weeks doing it. But they also assume you aren’t going to do the wrong thing in the meantime. I knew there was no way I could stop typing while I learned to type so I started early one Sunday morning and did the whole course. By nightfall, I could barely move.

But the worst part was the next few weeks where I had work to do with tight deadlines, knew I could do it faster the “wrong” way and had to force myself to do it the “right” way. Once a few weeks had passed, I was back up to my “old” typing speed and then over time, just left the old speed for dead. The other big difference was the improvement in accuracy and complete concentration on the screen, never the keyboard. Now I don’t even know how I type. I just think words and they appear on the screen.

The funny part is how much faster I can type code than something like a letter. Somehow, all the keywords, etc. of a language get burned into your brain; you think them and your brain somehow associates some finger movements with them and they appear. I suppose it’s a bit like autopilot when you are driving to work.

So, anyway, my Easter message is that I hope you have a great Easter but if you haven’t learned to type yet and you’re serious about working in this industry, this could be the right moment for you 🙂

When I worked at a university, I suggested that was an ideal thing for students to learn to do in the first two weeks or so, when they haven’t learned enough of anything else to do any serious practical work yet.

The university staff seem to think somehow it’s “below” the organisation to have people learning to type. But then they spend the next 3 to 6 years trying to work out how to provide more computing labs, etc. for people pecking away at a keyboard 🙁

4 thoughts on “Typing – two fingers, four fingers, etc.

  1. Hi, my name is Rob, and I’m a two fingered typist…

    When I was working in Philips one of the local universities came in to talk to a group of graduates who had recently started working in industry. They asked what they should teach in their classes that would make working in industry easier. I had mentioned typing and everyone just laughed – as if it were a joke.

    I now think typing should be taught in primary schools. My kids are doing more and more assignments in Word; it’s excruciating seeing them type with two fingers.

    Maybe I’ll give TypeQuick a go this weekend…

  2. Hey Greg,

    I absolutely agree with you re: learning to type.

    i’m a VERY fast typist (around 125 w/m) and a true touch-type phanatic. Strange to hear that here in Australia there isn’t any formal education that includes typing, considering that nearly 99.9% of all technical/office/service etc jobs involves typing at some stage.

    Before coming to Australia i live in Denmark (no, not the one down south) and when i went to Business college it was actually a requirement that you had 3 lessons a week for the first half year on how to type and use regular office applications.

    Also, you’re absolutely right in that code somehow becomes the stuff that you can type faster than letters, emails (blog entries?).

    only problem i have is in reaching the ~/` character/key..broken my pinkie a couple of times in the army so it can’t straighten quite enough. But hey, how often do i actually need that particular key-combination?!?!?

    Now, hope your easter was fantastic and that you at least got a bit of rest..

    see you in April!



  3. Hi,

    I have just read Greg’s entry on typing….I found it amusing knowing him as well as I do (I am his daughter), and I must admit that the one thing I am grateful for is growing up watching Greg type and being inspired to learn to touchtype and not plod away with my two fingers like many others. I have worked in secretarial roles which have increased my abiliity and currently type at around 75 – 80 words per minute…..far behind Greg’s ability, but not too bad considering some of the people I have worked with and get so frustrated with them that I find myself offering to type things for them.

    Thanks Dad.

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