Keyboard skills - touch typing

If you find typing on the computer to be a pain, perhaps learning to type properly (touch typing), rather than playing hunt and peck, might be worth your while.  It's not very hard to learn, and you can type faster if you use all your fingers, rather than just a few of them.

The basic premise is that you split the keyboard down the middle, the left hand does the left side, the right hand does the right side.  Your fingers start above the home keys (ASDF on the left, and JKL; on the right, for a QWERTY keyboard layout—many keyboards have raised bumps on the F and J keys, so you can easily find the home position without looking), lightly touching the home keys, but not depressing them, until you mean to type one of those letters.  And to type other characters, you reach out with the nearest finger to the key you want to type, and strike it (think of a spider stretching out a leg, and dropping it down into place).

You use both hands together for keyboard combinations, such as the left little finger depressing its nearby shift key, and the right little finger striking its nearby p key to type a capital P.  You don't try to do keyboard combinations all in one hand, that's akward, and sometimes painful.  That step, alone, can make typing a lot easier on you.

Other issues to avoid pain and injury are:  Don't rest your wrists on something while you type, hold your hands above the keyboard.  And don't try to do your typing as tiny movements, flex your fingers out and strike the keys—holding your appendages rigidly fixed, and making tiny precise movements, is more of a strain.  That's one reason why RSI seems to have only come about since the advent of computer keyboards, the old typewriter keyboards had more movement to them.

You can borrow touch typing books, or download training software to practice typing the right letters with the right fingers until you become accustomed to typing without having to look at what you're doing.  Putting it simply, you start typing things like sssssss repeatedly, learning the letters for each finger one at a time, then you do combinations like jkjkjkjkjkjk, and so on.  Eventually it just becomes automatic.

How long it takes to learn depends on you, and your time.  I learnt at high school, where we probably spent about ninety minutes a week on it, with lessons on a couple of days, for a year.  Though, we knew what we're doing long before the year was over, after a certain point it just becomes a case of becoming faster and more accurate.  You'd learn much quicker, than that, if you didn't spread the practice as far apart as we did.

Buying a decent keyboard is well worth it, too.  Some are just nasty to work with, with keys that don't always seem to notice that you've typed them (you find letters missing from what you're typing), keys that sometimes misfire (you get the wrong letters appearing in places), keys that press too easily, or take too much effort, keys that don't travel very far when depressed, and keys that jam unless you depress them in a precise manner.  You really want to try out a keyboard before you buy it.  Find a shop that has demo units you can have a play with, and be fussy about it.

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