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Touch Typing in a Day?


August 1, 2002
By Pulp & Paper Canada

The ability to type is essential for the effective use of computers, despite the promotion of voice recognition. We will have keyboards for many years to come, although we will probably be able to con…

The ability to type is essential for the effective use of computers, despite the promotion of voice recognition. We will have keyboards for many years to come, although we will probably be able to control the beasts by voice eventually.

As we have stated in this column before, anyone can learn in a couple of hours to “two-finger” a keyboard faster than they can write. However, being able to touch type, without a glance at the keyboard is even more useful, and is probably essential to keep up with the younger generation that grew up with keyboards. Once the full use of the keyboard is mastered, speed comes easily.

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I can type about 70 words per minute, but make many mistakes. Thanks to the wonders of Microsoft Word, about 75% of the typos are corrected automatically on the fly. However, I look at the keyboard quite a lot, which means that I am not looking at what I type so do not see errors immediately. Nikasoft sent me their Touch Typing teacher to try, so I am now working on improving my skills.

The program uses a novel approach to developing keyboard skills, and is easy to use. It starts from the basics, and shows the keyboard on the screen, while training your fingers to work up from typing only the “f” and “g” keys to the full keyboard. As you can imagine, it is no great fun, but is effective and you can practice any time.

The program takes about 250 Mb of hard disc space, which seems excessive to me. Probably because it is overloaded with cute graphics and music effects. You have to keep the speaker volume down if practising when other people are around. The first time used is the most frustrating, since it takes a short while to learn what each control button on the screen does. Prompts pop up about five seconds after resting the mouse curser on each button, but they could have been labeled in plain English to avoid the nuisance.

DOES IT WORK?

Yes, I find this an effective way to learn to touch type.

One nuisance is that the program takes over the whole screen, so it is not simple to switch to another program, say to send an e-mail. The only solution I found is that you can switch to any program already running with the “Alt-Tab” key combination. If you have Explorer running, then you can start Word or most other programs by double clicking on any file. A bit clumsy, but workable.

CAN YOU DO IT IN A DAY?

Probably not. Nikasoft claims that 10 hours will suffice to make a touch typist. This could be a long day’s work. It is difficult to check the claim directly, since the only complete beginners easily found in Canada nowadays are either young children or older folks who hate keyboards.

Noting the improvement in my typing after a couple of hours, it’s possible to believe that a dedicated beginner could be a competent, but not fast, touch typist with 10 hours of practice. Results will vary according to individual effort and aptitude. Those with good hand-eye coordination will have an advantage, since they will learn rapidly how to correct, then to avoid, errors. I suspect that the kids with lots of video game experience will have an edge.

INSTALLATION

The program self-installs, in normal Windows fashion. You can either run it off the CD, and use only 5Mb of disc space, or install on your hard disc, when 250 Mb are required. This avoids pauses while your computer reads the CD, but the original CD disc must still be in the drive for the software to work. A nuisance, but presumably the authors are scared of pirating.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Refer to www.nikasoft.com


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