Communicating to Computers - Pascal programming

Typing

Typewriting is a skill that is very useful for communicating to computers, to bosses, to colleagues, to professors, etc. Without this skill, the computer user is likely to be quite handicapped. It is possible to “hunt and peck” with two fingers, but that method is very tedious, slow, tiring, and inefficient. If you intend to use computers a lot, it would be a good investment to spend some time and effort on attaining proper skills, and possibly overcoming some bad habits which may be deeply ingrained. Touch typing is actually very easy to learn, especially with computers.

It just takes practice which can be done while writing necessary material such as: programs, term papers, letters, etc. In the past, with mechanical typewriters, it was difficult to correct typing errors, so speed had to be sacrificed for accuracy. With computers it is very easy to correct errors, either instantly when they are made or at a later time.

QWERTY keyboard layout

QWERTY keyboard layout

The most common keyboard is called QWERTY, named after the first row of keys, as shown in Figure. Another layout of keys, called Dvorak, is more efficient but not common. It is shown in Figure The normal “home row” position on the QWERTY layout has fingers on the keys “asdf” and “jkl;”. Often the keys D and K have slight bumps for the middle fingers to find, without looking. On other computers F and J have bumps. You may wish to stick tape on the “home position” of two keys.

Dvorak keyboard layout

Dvorak keyboard layout

The traditional approach to teaching typing begins by emphasizing the proper posture: back slightly forward, feet on the floor, and hands curved over the home-row. The secret to learning touch typing is not to look at the keys! Each letter or key is to be hit by the specific finger assigned to it, as shown in Figure

Finger assignments

Finger assignments

Train yourself so that the sight of any letter automatically causes movement in the corresponding finger. Keep your eye on the paper you are copying from or on the screen that you are copying to; do not look at the keyboard. You may wish to correct errors immediately, or wait until you finish; try both ways. A good way to start is by doing some small finger drills for exercise, to improve speed and gain confidence. Some sequences you could try are:

Finger assignments

Finger assignments

You could also create your own sequences that have whatever structure you like. You might choose, for example, your name, address, phone number and other things that you have to write often. However, the best practice is always to type everything properly, without looking at the keys. You will be surprised how quickly you can improve. Evaluation of your progress is helpful because it reinforces good performance. You should keep track of your improvement in speed (words per minute) and accuracy (errors per 100 characters) but remember that there is a tradeoff here—the faster you go, the more errors you are likely to make.

Your learning curve is likely to have plateaus, where there will be no progress for days, followed by large jumps of considerable improvement. Software programs for teaching typing are available. They often include speed tests, accuracy reports, and games. We have created two simple typing applications, but you might wish to extend them later, in order to add to their functions and statistics reporting. There is an example of such an application, a typing application, in the next.

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