Better faster better more ::clickclickclickclick::

I type fast…but I type a LOT, and anymore I feel like my typing is too slow; especially that having to use both a keyboard and a mouse, and typing in longhand, is costing me too much time.

Does anybody else feel this way, or have ideas for solutions? I'm already haunting the frogpad2 — here's hoping I find two benjamins laying on the street when it comes out! — but am also really interested in software that lets me increase my speed via typing shortcuts / macros. (I used similar software a zillion years ago and learned that in order to actually work / save time, it has to be REALLY well-designed.) I also use all three major operating systems pretty regularly, and would like any solution I use to work with at least two of them.

*sigh* The tribulations of being a high-performance nerd! This 90wpm isn't doing it for me anymore — someone bring me ROCKET FUEL! :D

Have a great day, everyone. Mad exciting polyphasic stuff going on; update very very soon I hope!

About puredoxyk

Word addict, kungfu/taiji nut and lifelong autohacker ... successful Ubersleeper, shoeless winters, medication-free anti-depressants, and as many hobbies as the world will let me pry into its piddly fourth dimension ... give me vitality or give me death!
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9 Responses to Better faster better more ::clickclickclickclick::

  1. Jair says:

    Chad points you in the right direction suggesting you stop typing in QWERTY. Letter placement is just random and uneffective. Actually, being the lifehacker you are I’m surprised you haven’t done it yet! :)
    I’d recommend the Colemak layout (http://colemak.com/) over Dvorak because it’s designed to be easier to switch from QWERTY, among other things. Both have in common your fingers travel much less space through your keyboard, which is quicker, comfortable and probably healthier.

    If you’re interested in more effective keyboards, I recommend checking http://www.typematrix.com/ for an ergonomic keyboard that you can actually buy now, instead of waiting years like with Frogpad. I like this one too: http://www.trulyergonomic.com, but I have never tried it as opposed to the Typematrix, which I have used for years.

    One useful hack I’ve done is sticking a touchpad (http://www.ergonomictouchpad.com/) just under the space bar of the (Typematrix) keyboard. No keypad to the right already means it’s quicker to reach to the mouse back and forth, but I find having an extra touchpad right beneath your thumbs really boosts productivity for small switches.

    Hope my two cents can be useful, especially considering how useful your polysleep writing has been to me! Looking forward to reading more about Everyman Cake.

    • puredoxyk says:

      Wow, what excellent suggestions — thank you everyone!  This has been a ton to look into, but I feel like I have good options again, and I’m definitely pursuing some of them (you’re right, Jair, I kinda have no excuse :)  Once you’ve hacked sleep, claiming to be a slave to other stuff doesn’t hold as much water, heh!).

      I love vi(m) and wish my skills were better, so I got Vi Simulator on notepad++ which I use at work, and I’ll look into the mac / windows ones for home; thank you!  I think vi is a really underutilized power tool for writers; the amount of time we spend scrolling, searching, copying / pasting etc. is huge.  

      Colemak looks great — I love that it’s software, and free, and will totally check that out further!  I’m also COMPLETELY IN LOVE with the typematrix and have starred it on my Xmas list.  :)  The touchpad looks like it could be a hidden win, too.

      Thanks again!  Sometimes we all get stuck, and it’s nice to have a pool of random giants whose shoulders I can stand on when I need to.  :D

  2. logan says:

    I somewhat don’t really believe in the long term use of a frogpad. I can only imagine one sided wrist pain and not that much speed increase when i watch demo videos. It might let you dedicate your other hand to using a mouse but I don’t think the added benefit would be significant.

    I personally use a laptop. I can only type well on a reduced width laptop keyboard these days. It also allows me to navigate with the touchpad using my thumbs without moving my hands too much. I no longer use a mouse, except for a fps game that I recently purchased in anticipation of “staying awake a lot”. There are usb/bluetooth keyboards that include a pointing device. Lenovo makes one, it’s laptop sized (can be frustrating at first if you are used to full size), and it has a trackpoint in the middle of the keys.

    If what you are looking for is ways to navigate through raw text files to edit, you might want to consider using vim.
    vim lets you teleport to anywhere in files without ever moving your hands away from your keyboard home row.
    It also allows you to record macros so that repetitive operations are only one shortcut away.
    Learning curve is über steep though. I sort of have an idea of how dedicated and persistent you can be so learning how to use it shouldn’t be an issue for you, haha.
    They say you can “edit text at the speed of thought”. I think it’s the title of a book.
    Anyway it’s free, it’s made for command line so it’s linux/OS X compatible. There is a standalone version for mac (macvim), and a cross platform one that uses GTK (gVim) that should work with Windows.

    Last thing you can do to avoid using a mouse is to use a tiling window manager. I use i3 on linux (i3wm.org) and Phoenix on OS X with a config that mimics i3’s (https://github.com/sdegutis/phoenix).

    Avoiding using a mouse and keeping your hands on your keyboard will only increase your speed and comfort navigating through text – your editing productivity. If your bottleneck is raw wpm, you need something else.

    You could learn a new keyboard layout (dvorak, colemak, or whatever) but you will not gain that much in speed as you already touch type, maybe a little. You will gain in comfort for sure. That’s the path I chose and i’m happy with it.

    Last thing you could check out is steno with Plover like “ze” mentioned : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wpv-Qb-dB6g
    In short, it allows you to type a word with a combination of keys pressed together in one stroke – any word you type no matter how long it is becomes one stroke. I can’t wrap my mind around how to use it to code so i never tried

    • puredoxyk says:

      I thanked you in another comment, but forgot to mention how useful the suggestion for window-management is:  I got used to only having this on my Linux computers, and that’s a mistake; there’s now plenty of software and configuration options to have it on most OS’s now, and I need to get on that because you’re right, it’s a huge time-sink to switch programs, windows/tabs etc.  Good call!

  3. Forgot to mention–this too is in the realm of “focus” rather than “typing speed”–I use a “Pomodoro” approach to generating new fiction. Without the ability to stop and look at text (via either the Neo or dictation), I leave myself with no option other than to keep going. If I get stuck I punt (type or say “blah” and give a short explanation)–then I keep going. The goal is to keep talking or typing continuously.

    It leaves my brain sore. But I love the results. Had some success with it this morning–first time I’ve tried it on my new Uberman schedule. I ran into a plotting issue, though, and had to discard about half of my content.

    Now, will polyphasic sleeping help me do this multiple times per day? Maybe! My brain’s still a bit fuzzy, though. We’ll see.

    • puredoxyk says:

      Thanks, David!  Sadly, I can’t abide text-to-speech programs — I’ll use my phone to dictate texts if my hands are full, but it’s a univerally miserable experience pretty much no matter what software I’m using.  

      In my search for a macro-type program, I came across AutoHotKey for Windows, which is pretty great, but has no functioning Linux port, which means I’ll keep looking since I’m determined not to have to script everything twice.  >,<  I could probably do it in Linux with *just* scripts, but not in Windows...*sigh*.  Need 'Doze for work, so it's gotta be both.

      Thanks for the advice!  Also, funny; I use Pomodoros for editing, when I have a much harder time staying interested / focused, but I write without them.  :)

  4. Dragon NaturallySpeaking? There’s a learning curve for both the software and the user. It’s not very good at punctuation, and nothing is a “paragraph” to the software unless it’s separated by two carriage returns from everything else. This matters, because there are lots of commands using the word “paragraph.” There are other flaws. The customer service folks have no interest in anything other than closing tickets, and they will deliberately misunderstand you to achieve their goal.

    But the software can get really good at recognizing words for a given voice. I see it strictly as a plain-text generator–kind of like my AlphaSmart Neo. Since I also write code, I created a little utility that I use to clean up the text. Then I use a keyboard simulator to “type” the text into Scrivener, which does a nice job with curly quotes and the like. For email and blog posts, that step’s not really necessary. But there are strange issues with copy/paste between apps, and the Dragon voice commands don’t really work well in any app I’ve tried other than their “DragonPad.” OTOH, since I treat the output as plain text & don’t worry about it, it does what I need it to do.

    Um, one more thing–I’m a Linux guy and don’t like using Windows at all. Typically I’ll run it in a virtual machine for specific purposes (like watching Netflix or using Adobe InDesign). But Dragon NaturallySpeaking is a resource hog and I’ve given up on using it in anything other than a bare-metal setup. Bright side? Dictation using my Android tablet, or my laptop, work fine. I just bring the files over to the Windoze box when I get around to it.

    Dictation works very well when I’m out of the office. Walking down trails, and suchlike. I’m working to get better at this, because I’d just as soon spend most of my time out of the office anyway. {8′>

    I’m not an especially fast typist (probably around 60wpm). When I’m composing new fiction without an outline, if I do it for a couple of hours first thing in the day (here’s a clue about one of my Uberman motivations), I can write at about 30wpm with few errors. An outline doesn’t help much and clearly isn’t worth the time–but, with an outline and dictation? I can “write” new fiction at about 150wpm. So I’m also trying to get better at quick & dirty outlines for fiction.

    Let me just plug my AlphaSmart Neo here too–it’s primitive as hell. No internet access. But hundreds of hours of battery life are nice. And I have some custom fonts set up on it, including “Klingon”…which I cannot read at all. Which is very helpful, because if editing is impossible? I can keep going. Of course in coffee shops and libraries come odd looks. It’s not a proper laptop, after all. So…is whoever’s using that thing just insane? How come he never looks at the screen? Wherefore all the giggles? And so forth.

    Dunno whether any of this will help you. My own primary issue is that generating new fiction is the slow/hard part. Editing is something I can do in the living room while semi-watching a movie. Do you need a system that improves your typing speed in ALL circumstances, or a tool that helps you focus on producing new content quickly?

    -D

  5. Chad K. Park says:

    Dvorak, emacs, ratpoison. I switched to a dvorak keyboard on my home and work computers. With the exception of the ‘L’ key, every other key is easier and, once learned, faster as well. For some reason the L key moves my hand around and took a long time to get “OK”. Switching back and forth isn’t much of a problem either. When I borrow a computer, I find I can switch back to qwerty pretty fast.

    Ratpoison as a windowing system takes a while to get used to. I started because it’s very minimal and I tend to use low end computers. Tragically, it’s only for linux afaik. I found it easier to memorize a few keystrokes instead of using the mouse.

    Emacs for word processing. I even use it to type up long emails for editing. Org-mode is also awesome with emacs. I end up using that a lot for personal and work logs. Finally, I found that remapping my alt key to ctrl made emacs much more friendly.

    Until they make a neural shunt that’s the best I’ve come up with. Good luck and I hope others post better stuff so I can copy them ;)

  6. ze says:

    I gather it has a good bit of both learning and personal-shortcut-development, and requires a suitable keyboard, but there’s always stenography…
    Not long ago, i stumbled upon the free/opensource and crossplatform Plover, which can also support gaming or custom keyboards much cheaper and more available than the normal steno boards:
    http://stenoknight.com/wiki/Main_Page
    http://plover.stenoknight.com/

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