How Did You Learn to Type?

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?)

Arthur Shi, iFixit // CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
The New MacBook Has a Crumb-Resistant Keyboard
Arthur Shi, iFixit // CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
Arthur Shi, iFixit // CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Soon, you won’t have to worry about ruining your Macbook’s keyboard with muffin crumbs. The 2018 MacBook Pro will feature keys specifically designed to withstand the dust and debris that are bound to get underneath them, according to Digital Trends. The keyboard will also be quieter than previous versions, the company promises.

The latter feature is actually the reasoning Apple gives for the new design, which features a thin piece of silicon stretching across where the keycaps attach to the laptop, but internal documents initially obtained by MacRumors show that the membrane is designed to keep debris from getting into the butterfly switch design that secures the keycaps.

Introduced in 2015, Apple’s butterfly keys—a change from the traditional scissor-style mechanism that the company’s previous keyboards used—allow the MacBook keyboards to be much thinner, but are notoriously delicate. They can easily become inoperable if they’re exposed to dirt and debris, as any laptop is bound to be, and are known for becoming permanently jammed. In fact, the company has been hit with multiple lawsuits alleging that it has known about the persistent problem for years but continued using the design. As a result, Apple now offers free keyboard replacements and repairs for those laptop models.

This new keyboard design (you can see how it works in iFixit's very thorough teardown), however, doesn’t appear to be the liquid-proof keyboard Apple patented in early 2018. So while your new laptop might be safe to eat around, you still have to worry about the inevitable coffee spills.

[h/t Digital Trends]

Finally! Windows Notepad Is Getting an Update for the First Time in Years

While some of Window's core programs have evolved dramatically over the years, or disappeared all together, Notepad has remained pretty basic. But as The Verge reports, the text-editing app is about to get a little fancier: Microsoft is updating it for the first time in years.

Since it debuted in 1985, Notepad has become a popular platform for writing out code. One common complaint from programmers working in non-Windows coding language is that Notepad doesn't format line breaks properly, resulting in jumbled, messy text. Now, both Unix/Linux line endings (LF) and Macintosh line endings (CR) are supported in Notepad, making it even more accessible to developers.

For the first time, users can zoom text by holding ctrl and scrolling the mouse wheel. They can also delete the last word in their document by pressing ctrl+backspace. On top of all that, the new update comes with a wrap-around find-and-replace feature, a default status bar with line and column numbers, and improved performance when handling large files.

The arrow keys will be easier to navigate as well. You can now use the arrow keys to deselect text before moving the cursor. And if you ever want to look up a word online, Microsoft will allow you to connect directly to Bing through the app.

The new Notepad update will be made available first to Windows Insiders through Windows 10 Insider Preview, then to everyone on the forthcoming update, codenamed Redstone 5, likely later this year.

[h/t The Verge]


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