March 13, 2006
If you don’t generate your program entirely from your UML model or if you love extreme programming and don’t have any UML model, then you need to type your program.
I’ve learned blind typing of text at a weekend course about 10 years ago. The main idea is not the increasing of the typing speed, but reducing the effort. Every key is…
…operated by one particular finger, there is a main position asdf for the left hand, jkl for the right hand and the hands remain there all the time. I would recommend such a course to everyone. Afterwards you’ll be able to type without looking at the keyboard and thinking and desiding, by which finger you are going to hit a particular key. So you have your head free for thinking about what you are going to write and you have your eyes free for looking at the display and checking whether you are type everything correctly. After some weeks practicing I was able to type about as fast as I was able to type before. So you get the old speed with much less typing effort and without exhausting.
Unfortunatly I didn’t have enough time for the advanced course ;-) where typing the digits and special characters was tought. The correct way is to use the row above letters field, not the special area on the right. So you don’t need to move your hands away from the main position.
Secretary vs. Coder
But all this is optimized for secretaries and not for coders. I think even an american layout is bad, but german layout is awful. Angle brackets (less-then, greater-then) are both on the same key, one operated with and other without the shift key. Curly and squared brackets are moved to the third keyboard level, not normal, not with shift, but one with AltGr, the right Alt key, to the right from the space bar. You need to rotate your hand, to hold down the AltGr with your thumb and to hit the “7” for example for the left curly bracket. This interrupts the flow of thougts. But I think that thougts are interrupted by curly brackets anyway, not only during the typing.
If you would like to tweak your keyboard layout
you can use my mapping of CapsLock to AltGr:
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Keyboard Layout] "Scancode Map"=hex:00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,02,00,00,00,38,e0,3a,00,00,00,00,00
or you can make your own driver based on a gadget from SysInternals
Beyond Java 
So the best solution I can think about is not to use this kind of ugly programming languages with the curly brackets. Instead use something as cool as ruby or python. You increase your productivity by easier typing but you boost your productivity by modern software development concepts. The compromise between productivity and main stream technology is Visual Basic .NET which is a high-level programming language that is much better then Java and is supported by a Big One. Other little known but great tool for high-performance database-oriented enterprise applications is Microsoft FoxPro. The language itself is text-oriented, basic-like, that way best suited for easy typing.
But if you have to deal with curly brackets, you can still avoid twisting your hand on a german keyboard and you can improve things on your american keyboard. Use senseless CapsLock key as AltGr for the third keyboard level. It is easy to operate by the left small finger.
Besides the approach, the hardware is also important. My whole live I was looking for better keyboard. Unfortanatly the market is dominated by all the kinds of ugly keyboards with herds of senseless “multimedia” and “internet” keys and buttons. Even my otherwise great IBM notebook has browser- forward and backward keys as if Alt+Arrow would not work, so it’s hard to find the arrow block.
At the big electronic store there were only two(!) keyboards among about 30, which use the standard key layout. All the others have keys in different sizes or a big delete key instead of delete and insert. Or PgDn/PgUp block moved down to the arrows block or 32 function keys placed all over the keyboard and filling the gaps. One of two standard keyboards costed EUR 6 (about $8) and was ok, but had only PS2 connector - unusable with the notebook. The other was “saitek eclipse”.
But the real dream of any hacker is DasKeyboard. It’s very expensive in Germany - EUR 93, about $115. First I wanted to make it by myself. But after reading this instructions and experience description I was very glad, that my wife ordered it for my birthday. Well:
- it looks funny: black, with unlabled keys; but I’am not sure if your colleagues adore you, as promised on the manifacturer’s site, or laugh at you. I’ll try it out.
- it makes funny click noises, not just when you type the key, but also when you are about to touch them
- diffent keys have a different resistance which is generally smaller than with other keyboards. You can type with less force, and this way quicker. Especially the keys on the left side, like Shift and CapsLock (I use it as AltGr) are easy to press with the small finger.
I think it’s a pretty good keyboard. Of course you have to deside yourself, wheather it’s worth the price.
You definitly don’t need this to learn the typing. Instead you should make an evening typing course and print out the keyboard layout to stick it to your display edge. That way you can look at your cheat sheet each time you forget which key is hit by which finger.
Posted by VladimirDobriakov at 11:06 PM