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From the mind to the keyboard: touch typing part 1

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From the mind to the keyboard: touch typing part 1

On your marks, fingers on the keyboard, Go. So begins the race of getting our ideas & thoughts from your mind to the computer as fast as you can. Why race you might ask? The short answer to that question would be efficiency. Well, most of us speak as fast we can think. Most of us write slower than we can think, because we have to take time to shape our letters in our handwriting. Typing however, is an interesting one because you can type much faster than you can write – with the proper training and practice. If you are still poking the keyboard with predominantly 2 fingers while looking at the keyboard instead of the screen in this day and age, you need to stop it… and go learn touch typing and become more efficient.

I remember how my journey of learning how to touch type started, looking back it was almost God sent. I had failed my ‘A’ levels and was certain of it even though the results hadn’t come out yet. All I did in those 2 years of my senior high school life was play as hard as we had during our ‘O’ levels holiday, but that’s a story for another day. One day, my older brother Ngoni in the UK had sent us a CD with some software you could install on a computer and it would teach you touch typing. I just want to say thank you Ngoni if you get to read this. That turned out to be the best gift you have ever given me, all things considered including some of the pretty generous, temporal stuff that you gave, however this one is the best.

This software was the meanest piece of technology I had ever used and would occasionally pass comments like ‘are you sure you are not wearing gloves’ in between learning exercises on your score results screen.

What followed was somewhere along that time when I decided to turn my life around and not be a failure. Most of my friends in my age group had already flown off to study in University, but I had this one hurdle that was my qualifications stopping me. I had faith that my turn would come again, to go study in university so I made sure I would do everything to be prepared and hit the ground running when my time came.

I would spend something like 20 – 30 mins a day with this software, music plugged in, learning how to use more than two fingers and not look at my keyboard while I was typing. Sometimes it would be longer than that and sometimes shorter despite my passion for our new home computer, which we had also recently acquired around that time to replace our now battery dead, IBM laptop. At first all my fingers wanted to move together and struggled reaching other keys altogether, but then I got better at where I was meant to place my fingers as they learnt to become more independent of each other. The only musical instrument I had played in my life, by the way, was a flute called the ‘recorder’, that is if you don’t count the triangle in grade 1-2, so this was a completely new skill for me.

Other days I didn’t feel like being insulted by that piece of software, I’ll be honest. Imagining the glorious sound I would one day make with my keyboard as I dance my fingers across it, in a programmer or hacker kind of way as seen in my favourite CSI episodes, managed to motivate me into gear most times. Fast forward to the time I got to university, I had drastically improved also considering I had been working as web developer for a while at this point. I felt ready for the assignments, and lecture note taking on my computer. I even hoped to be that much more efficient that I would do assignments faster so I can do some freelance work, on the side.

“I had been robbed of my super man privileges, some of the people who could touch type weren’t even going to study Information Technology (I.T.)”

When I did arrive in Australia and started taking classes plus doing assignments, I felt like an Olympic athlete in a high school race. It was gloriously easy, right up to the point when the slow pace started to drive me crazy. I endured with it thankfully, and instead focused more of my attention on knowledge retention and laying the foundation I had come all the way across the world for – that was simply too hard to lay on the job.

The world is becoming more and more digital, and yes like the annoying Treehouse.com advertisement that streams from time to time before your YouTube videos play, understanding how to manipulate a computer effectively is becoming as essential as reading and writing. For those of you that already can touch type, more power to you but you can always improve. This article is for those of you that can’t touch type, YET. It was to my surprise that when I did come to the a ‘worldly’ university, that I wasn’t the fastest typer around. I expected to be in a league of my own, however all the other people that came from all corners of the world, Asia, Europe, America, wherever, all seemed to have this touch typing super power too. In fact it was the normal thing to be able to do and no one gave it a second thought, except me.

I had been robbed of my super man privileges, some of the people who could touch type weren’t even going to study Information Technology (I.T.) Some where doing accounting and some were, then, iMessenger & Skype chat specialists. My natural instinct is to direct this touch typing advice to everyone in Africa that doesn’t have regular exposure to electricity let alone a personal computer, but I would be wrong to stop there. I have worked here in Australia where some people still do the two finger keyboard dance, some managers even, so I am sure there are still plenty all over the world who need this skill. Stop being your worst enemy and learn how to use a computer correctly, seeing as it will be used in every profession soon, if not already.

In part 2 of this touch typing series, I will look at a more detailed, assignment like approach to this topic, with statistics pulled randomly from Google searches so some people can be convinced that this is in fact a truth or, to put it more bluntly, show them I know what I am talking about.

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