Cold Mackin’

June 27, 2013

… or rather, Colemak-ing…  WTH?

So a while back, I wrote up a blogpost (Improvement Through Unlearning) about how I was pushing QWERTY aside in favor of Dvorak.  I just reread it and was impressed that it was decently written (just kidding!), but even more impressed that I would even take on such a thing.

That was three years ago… (hell, I haven’t even written a blog post in a year!) So here I am again.  Ready to take on a new challenge, with the Colemak layout.  Behold!






So why take this on?  Because I am experimenting with rapid skill acquisition, an idea I picked up in a book called The First 20 Hours  by Josh Kaufman.  In it, he explains that to gain relatively expert level skills in a chosen topic, it takes about 20 hours of intelligent, focused, and deliberate practice.  I won’t get into the hairy details.  You can pick up the book yourself.  It’s interesting.

But to test out his theory, I’m trying to undo 25 years of typing in the QWERTY style (I actually learned how to type on mechanical typewriters for which QWERTY was developed)… remapping my brain to take on a new layout.  And achieve hopefully faster typing speeds, but at least my normal speed…  And I’ve come down a since my typing tests of three years ago.  I type pretty much in the 70 WPM range if I want to be 100% accurate.

More importantly, though, if you watch some videos of people typing using Colemak, you’ll be amazed at how calm the hand appears.  It rarely moves much less frequently off the home row.  And this can dramatically reduce hand fatigue for me since I spend a lot of hours on the keyboard.  Go to and read up on it.  The improvements in efficiency are pretty impressive which you can geek out on here and here.

So the obvious question is… what happend to Dvorak?  Simply put… I gave up.  It was a fine layout, but it was not developed during the heyday of computers… and thus, most of the common keyboard shortcuts in use in Microsoft Office and many softwares were no longer easy to use because the keys were mapped elsewhere.  Colemak preserves much of the lefthand layout of QWERTY for precisely this reason.  And this makes it a TON more useful for me.

In the end, I’ll never be rid of QWERTY… nor will I forget how to use it.  In fact, I hope to be “keyboard bilingual”, effortlessly going between workstations if needed.  But my main goal is just to test the theory of rapid skill acquisition.  Once I log 20 hours of training, I’ll come back with the details to share… then maybe you’ll give it a try, too!  And I’ll, of course, move on to the next skill I wish to acquire and excel at…






2 Responses to “Cold Mackin’”

  1. Mark Sessoms Says:

    Wow. It’s been 9 months since I wrote that. I totally stopped Colemak. But as I reread my post, I realize that I ought to begin again.

    I suppose I will at some point. For now I’m just content to have a decent workstation. =]

  2. Mark Sessoms Says:

    Here I am again. Five years after the fact. I haven’t had the need for Colemak, of course. And so I never worked on it. But my post is intriguing. So I’m ready to give it another shot.

    They say the third time is the charm!!!

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