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September 24, 2009


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I was way wrong, but I am oriented elsewise this evening and have something entirely different on the brain.

In other notes, I need a participant information form from you, as you as you can, bitte. We have a third - Mike Cramer has got one that will loosely fit. Someone else is taking this from me next year.

It was obvious to me... unless my answer is wrong, of course.

Lbh zrnag gb glcr obfgba havirefvgl, ohg lbhe evtug unaq unq vgf fgneg cbfvgvba bar xrl gb gur evtug (zrnavat lbhe svefg gjb svatref jrer ba xy vafgrnq bs wx: V glcrq gung vafgrnq bs gur shyy sbhe-svatrerq fgneg cbfvgvba cnegyl orpnhfr chapghngvba qbrfa'g punatr jvgu gur ebg guvat naq cnegyl orpnhfr lbh fnvq lbh qba'g hfr nyy sbhe svatref naljnl).

Bu, bayl bar unaq'f jebat. V jnf gelvat gb fuvsg obgu unaqf bar jnl be gur bgure naq trggvat abjurer. Fb V purngrq ol purpxvat Tbbtyr.

obfgba havirefvgl -- lbhe yrsg unaq vf bxnl, ohg lbhe evtug unaq vf bar gb gur evtug.

Lbh bssfrg lbhe evtug unaq ol bar cbfvgvba

I was tempted to reply:

Hcv cssfrg hcve ebtwg wnzq oh czr [cfbgbcz/

I'm guessing you meant to type "obfgba havirefvgl" and now I have to go rot13 all these long answers to see what everyone else is saying.

I also type with only a few fingers and get lots of comments about how fast I type, and occasional complaints about how loud :P This used to be a quiet touch keyboard, but five years of being abused by me has left it loud, with the E and I keys permanently gouged by my nails.

Yes to everyone (and gaaaaaah to David!) I think I gave away the game by including my typing technique, though I suspect no one actually realizes which three fingers and thumb I use. Trying to pay attention to my typing, I've realized that I occasionally use others to hit the shift, enter, and delete keys. But I cover all the letters and numbers with the three-plus-thumb set.

I'm still enormously impressed that someone at Google thought to program that particular sort of ongoing typo into their error-fixing algorithms. I'm not quite willing to turn my electronic life over to Google, but they really are quite good at covering the bases.

This might be an interesting second layer to use with rot13 or some other simple substitution code in the unlikely event that I need to send coded messages. Maybe I'll try to do an entire post that way.

I learned to type at that speed on a manual typewriter. I still hit keys with vastly more force than needed. I've found that I can't answer email while proctoring an exam; the students complain about the noise of my typing.

'obfgba havirefvgl'


You didn't give it away. Someone on Facebook asked about my favorite typo, and I responded 'dovisl nrhsbiot,' so I was already familiar with the principle.

I used to type away with a couple of fingers, but they offered typing in 9th grade, and I went over to the touch system. I'd been keeping up a fierce correspondence with my cousin up to (and after) then, filling a couple of pages each time, writing as soon as a letter arrived. I still have his old letters. Fortunately for me, he lost the ones I wrote in a move.

I devised an unbreakable cipher once, where you add one letter to 'y' and two to 'x' and three to 'w' and so on. It seems to put the readers to sleep, though.

ps: I came up with another stunning* keyboard-based encoding scheme in one of my letters to my cousin, which I was sure he'd never get. The decoded message taunted him for not getting it. Of course he got it and shoved my face in it for my arrogance. He didn't even need the fat clue I gave him, I'm pretty sure.

*-ly obvious

I'm glad someone else figured this out because I've never been good at riddles. Not even a little.

Yeah, once I bothered to check, it was pretty obvious what it was (it was, in fact, exactly the kind of error, and I, with my perfectly normal touch typing techniques, make that kind of mistake all the time).

I'm not surprised that Google (actually, not surprised is an understatement; I know they've caught that in my own typing) catches these in their misspelling detector; pretty much every touch typing technique is prone to this kind of mistake.

So maybe I should be more surprised that Bing and Yahoo don't autocorrect for this kind of error?

I've always thought of "touch typing" as simply meaning typing without looking at the keyboard, which is what I generally do. Does it automatically imply the official eight-finger method that I did for exactly one semester in seventh grade (long enough to ace the class) before deciding it slowed me down too much and reverting to me mostly-three-fingers method?

Random weirdness: despite being right-handed, I type primarily with my left hand, though I suppose my right hand travels more overall. I mostly drive left-handed too, but for that I have the excuse of having at one point learned to use a manual transmission and generally saving my right hand for the (usually nonexistent, nowadays) gearshift.

The idea was that if you weren't taught to use all eight fingers and two thumbs, you'd have to look to use the keyboard.

Well, that's just silly.

Susan... that's just silly

I couldn't agree more.

I mean... I too use the self-taught 3-finger method and I don't look at the keyboard. Not much, anyway.

Whereas I use the approved two-full-hands method, and I have to look at the keyboard at least part of the time.* In my typewriter days I used a four-finger method, which was slightly slower but more accurate (partly because easy error correction has made me sloppy).

*the rest of the time I'm looking at the screen. When I'm transribing something, I can't just look at that like you're supposed to, I have to keep looking back and forth.

Well, Mary Aileen, if it works well enough for you, who gives a tin whistle what the 'proper' method is?

I expect the system I was taught was pretty standard. Four fingers of each hand rest at the home row. They also stressed evenness -- we typed groups of letters, then short words, then paragraphs, along with rhythmic recordings made for the purpose.

We weren't supposed to look at our fingers. I suppose a lot of us were expected to end up typing for a living. They said looking at your fingers while typing would mess us up, and maybe they were right. Then again, they said piano players found it harder to learn typing, because the activities were similar but not identical. Hey, maybe that's why I'm not a better piano player! My typing's okay, though. When I got 100 wpm on a test for a temp agency, I never had to take another -- I just referred employers back to that one.

There's an online typing speed test, though, and I have taken that. After a couple of warmup rounds, I can do pretty well.

Serge: if it works well enough for you, who gives a tin whistle what the 'proper' method is?

Not me. :)

Looking back and forth does slow down transcription, though.

Mary Aileen... Sometimes it's good to slow down, especially when computer programming is involved.

Serge: Very true.

Mary Aileen... Especially when one misspelled word may correspond to an instruction that could have unfortunate results. ("What do you mean, the database is empty?")

When I took a programming class in college (1983? around then), we had to schedule time in the lab to input programs that we had pre-written. There was no way to delete anything, so if I made a typo, I had to erase it all and start over. That'll teach you to slow down and do it right the first time! And, of course, if the program wasn't right, it took time to get the results, figure out where the problem was, and schedule time to re-enter the corrected version.

At least it wasn't punch cards. (That was high school.)

When I mentionned having to use a card puncher in the early days of my programming career, one co-worker said she had seen one of them once... in a museum.

Darn kids.
No respect for their elders.

I used punch tape for my first programs.

Marilee... Paper tapes? I saw them in a couple of places, circa 1977. Thankfully I never had to use them myself.

Yep, paper tape. This was 1963.

And for those of you who like steampunk (I emailed AJ since she's at a beading retreat), Tor.com is doing Steampunk Month for October -- free stories and pictures and all.

Marilee... 1963? I'll have to ask my father-in-law if he ever had to deal with them. The idea of a paper tape, as opposed to the discrete units of code found on punched cards, sounds like a ghastly thing.

Speaking of steampunk... I'll be having a steampunk-movie night at my place on November 21. I don't know which movie we'll watch. I'll let my guests choose from my extensive colllection. Oh, and the week before, I'll be giving my steampunk-movie talk at the local SF club. I'll post the whole thing on my blog, with all the pretty photos.

Yes, plus if you push any wrong buttons on the keyboard, you have to start from scratch!

I am too tired to work this out.

Also, for a variety of reasons a national newspaper is visiting the school next week to see how we get success under adverse circumstances (their words). For once I've NOT been told to say nothing to the press. I expect that's because, compared to the kids, anything I might say is the least of their worries.

Could it be an oversight on their part, Neil? Or could they be assuming that they told you often enough that it'll be understood that loose lips sink ships?

I've just been told I've been included in a press release, and a friend's mother just pointed me at the latest issue of New Jersey Monthly. Read that article carefully to see why!

Social dance historian!

Well, that's what I am!

Hip hip hurrah for Susan!

How neat! And did you see the next performer is a psychic?

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