Do you find that your pair prefers to drive, even though he’s happy to navigate with others?
Do you wish that you could concentrate on the words on the screen, instead of the disjointed letters under your hands?
Do your fingers fly over the keys, or do you stumble, two-fingered, in a desperate attempt to put your thoughts down before you lose them?
I find it hard to think of anything which has increased my productivity more than the ability to type quickly and with a reasonable accuracy. I’m lucky; my dad bought me a typing tutor as a child, and the many years spent chatting over IM or on MUDS honed it to a top recorded speed of 78 wpm. That’s faster than I can actually assemble a lucid sentence!
Most secretaries need to type at about 50 wpm. I think a coder, whose typing is less about words than combinations of odd symbols and the occasional keyboard shortcut, should be able to manage at least 40wpm. If you can’t, please – for the sanity of your pair – think about learning. There are a number of things that you can do which should help.
- Get a cheap keyboard, and put stickers or tippex over the keys. Start with the home keys – they’re the ones on which your fingers rest when you’re not typing: ‘asdf’ and ‘jkl;’ on a qwerty keyboard – then expand up, down and out till you know all the keys by heart.
- Be brave! Be strong! Get a Das Keyboard, which comes boxed ready-tippexed (well, they don’t bother putting the symbols on in the first place).
- Google “typing tutor”. You want to find one which concentrates on the home keys first, as this will help prevent you from getting into bad habits. Don’t be put off by having to type fff jjj ffjj jjff fjf jfj for the first five minutes. It really is important to get the home keys in place.
- Practice! Talk on IM; play MMORPGs and find a bunch of friends to chat to; write letters home; copy out your favourite stories or poems.
- Write code for fun! and use the command line whenever possible.
- Your mouse is a tool too. Minesweeper is really good for developing mouse coordination.
- Don’t let your pair talk you out of driving. Tell them that you’re learning, and ask them to have patience. It may take longer to start with to find the keys by touch, but you should start seeing your speed increase within a week or two.
- Don’t look down!