CLOSE
Original image

How Did You Learn to Type?

Original image

When I was in elementary school, I attended a twice-weekly "computer class" which primarily consisted of repeated runs through some now-forgotten typing software on Apple ][e computers. While running this program, we had to put cardboard boxes over the keyboard (with cut-outs so our little wrists could get in), and let me tell you, cheating was rampant. When a student got to the end of a level in the typing program and reached the timed test, a teacher would stand there with one hand on the box to prevent the "lift and peek," the most popular form of performance enhancement. (I was guilty of that one, though I never graduated to the heinous "oops, where'd my box go?" which could only be perpetrated with a confederate who maintained a distraction for the duration of the test.)

Typewriter keysDespite years of continuous typing education, I didn't pick up touch typing until late in the sixth grade. What happened then? Well, I got a job as a typist and simply had to figure it out. I had a job for an online service typing in hardcopy articles (with permission) into their library of ASCII text downloads (the payment was free access to the service). I had to key in something like five articles a week. The first week, typing five articles took me hours...but very quickly I was doing it in just minutes. During this period of rapidly learning touch-typing, I found myself daydreaming about the keyboard, visualizing the keypresses as I thought words. For example, if I thought the word "wombat," I'd see it as a series of keypresses on the keyboard, w-o-m-b-a-t. It got to the point where I wouldn't let myself think faster than I could mentally hit the keys -- that's when I really learned it.

I think everyone's journey to typing is a little different. My typing is pretty standard home-position touch typing. I'm pretty fast, but I make a lot of mistakes. I have several very computer literate friends who have evolved a surprisingly fast variant of hunt-and-peck which relies heavily on index fingers and thumbs. And they seem to get along with it just fine. So here's the question: how did you learn to type? And the bonus question: what typing method do you use? (Do you perform true touch-typing or some personal variant?)

Original image
Carol Munro // Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0
arrow
technology
The End Is Near for Microsoft Paint
Original image
Carol Munro // Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

Microsoft Paint is one of the few programs that has come standard in every Windows operating system since the tech company was founded. Now, after a 32-year run, The Telegraph reports that MS Paint is set to be discontinued.

When the program was introduced as part of Windows 1.0 in 1985, MS Paint allowed users to sketch doodles with their cursor on a blank canvas. The low-tech concept hasn’t evolved much since then, but MS Paint still maintains a loyal fan base, attracting 100 million users a month in 2016. Now, those artists will have to go elsewhere to create their digital masterpieces: In its recent announcement of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Microsoft listed Paint as a “deprecated” app, which means the company will no longer support it and it will probably disappear from future Windows versions.

In place of Paint, Microsoft is launching a more advanced art-making app called Paint 3D. Like the original program, Paint 3D allows users to create quick drawings using digital pens and paintbrushes. But the new feature is geared more toward creating 3D art, something that was never offered in MS Paint.

When the Fall Creators update comes out in September, it may mark the end of an era for Windows users. But don’t count on MS Paint being out of the game for good—Microsoft has been known to revive classic features, as was the case with Clip Art in 2016.

[h/t The Telegraph]

Original image
Internet Archive // Sketch the Cow
arrow
fun
Play the Sneakers Computer Press Kit from 1992
Original image
Internet Archive // Sketch the Cow

In September 1992, the computer hacking movie Sneakers hit theaters. To correspond with its launch, members of the press received a floppy disk containing a mysterious DOS program that, when launched, asked for a password. Once the reporters "hacked" their way in, they found the Sneakers Computer Press Kit. Thanks to the Internet Archive, you can play at being the film press of 1992.

It's hard to characterize exactly what this electronic press kit is. Is it a game? Sort of. It's essentially a very gentle computer hacking simulator, in which the "hacking" consists entirely of guessing passwords (complete with helpful prompts from the program itself), and the payload you discover is silly stuff like mini-biographies of Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, and Sidney Poitier. Still, it's a good match for the film itself, which helped set the template for Hollywood depictions of computer hacking.

A paper folder lies open on a wooden floor, with a black floppy disk on top. The folder is labeled SNEAKERS in giant red letters, as is the floppy. Inside the folder is printed material. On the right flap of the folder are instructions on how to load it.
Inside the Sneakers Computer Press Kit's paper folder. (The right flap contains installation instructions, along with a note that the studio will FedEx printed material if the user doesn't have access to a printer.)
Internet Archive // Sketch the Cow

Always remember: "My voice is my passport. Verify me." Now, get cracking on this press kit and don't be flummoxed—if you can't figure out a password right away, just wait a moment.

(Incidentally, Sneakers did also include printed materials for the press, in case they lacked a computer and/or the patience to deal with this approach. But who in the world would look at that, when they could play with this? There's also a method in the Computer Press Kit that allows the user to print out more detailed materials—provided they have a printer, and it's attached to a particular printer port on the computer.)

SECTIONS

arrow
BIG QUESTIONS
More from mental floss studios