Switching to Colemak

Posted on Mar 13, 2015

2 weeks ago, I finally said good-bye to QWERTY and switched to Colemak.

In case you ask why: Trust me, any alternative keyboard layout is better than QWERTY. Just google it if you don’t already know the reasons.

Anyways, am I typing any faster now? Absolutely not. It’s only been 2 weeks!

My QWERTY typing speed averages to about 75 wpm (words per minute) on Typer Racer. After 2 weeks fighting with Colemak, I’m still turtling at 30 wpm on average. I’m not going to lie. Being a slow typist is excruciatingly depressing. On the first day of Colemak, I spent 2 hours on keybr.com, practicing with only the letters: “E-A-I-N-T-O”, until my eyes felt like they were no longer staring at the screen, even though they were physically. I gave up on the lesson after 2 hours, and decided to just roll with it - practicing by using Colemak at work every day. I am biased, but the keyboard lessons are useless for me. If you think it works for you, good luck with that. I mean it.

Certainly I know at some point I’ll be able to type much faster and be more efficient on Colemak, and I totally expected the handicapped period. What I did not expect is being a slow typist reminds me of how lousy a programmer I am.

I’m still writing codes without any unit test (not TDD though. After reading Davi H. Hansson’s essay, I persuaded myself to turn my back on TDD even before ever trying it). I’m still writing functions that are 2-3 A4 pages long, with 3,4, sometimes 5 function variables. I repeat myself all the time. I surely deserve a dead sentence if coding standard is a legal law.

Back to the “QWERTY day”, I was still the same lousy programmer, but I sugar-coated it with the fact that my fingers were able to jump like athletes on the keyboard (based on my standard of course. I know 75 wpm is not that fast, but it feels much faster when you’re in the zone. You get what I mean)

Sometimes, we get caught in illusions - especially in things we do repeatedly every day - programming is one example. My illusion was the fact that I felt productive typing fast, even though my code is still the same pile of crap. Being typed at 30 wpm or 200 wpm, it’s still a pile of crap. At 500 wpm, it’s probably the fastest pile of crap ever produced by a programmer. By the way, there is nothing wrong with doing things repeatedly. I’m still in deep love with what I do, and I believe I will still be in love with programming 10 years from now.

At the end of the day, the code I wrote is all that matters. There will be no video of me typing them. Even if there was, no one would care enough to watch it. Shame on me. I am criticising myself in front of you - so hopefully I’ll try to become a better programmer tomorrow, or right after writing this post.