Posted on June 3, 2017

Why fix something that isn’t broken? or in this case why break something?

Well as a tinkerer I was curious to try another layout besides the default one “qwfpgj” “qwerty”. Another reason being I wanted to see if typing speed would increase once I have a good handle of the layout.

How I chose Colemak?

I didn’t do too much research, I read a little bit on the internet and decided to go with colemak because the learning curve on colemak seemed the minimalist (or so you would think).

Colemak changes only 17 keys compared to the other layouts. Also most of the shortcut keys are unchanged (one less muscle to retrain).

My approach

I went cold turkey right from the word go on my laptop and my Android phone, and as you might have guessed it turned out to be an horrible idea. I wasn’t too productive and was typing really really slow and a high error rate. On android the swipe word prediction wasn’t great for colemak.

Within few days I went back to using qwerty for office and any important work. While in my free time or non critical keyboard work I switched to colemak.

One week later once I got the layout somewhat nailed down I tried the cold turkey approach again. This time I used glueprint to keep the colemak layout on the corner of my screen so that I can refer to it if I needed to.

Another thing I noticed was that my right pinky finer was aching from using the ‘O’ key. A realization that all my fingers needed some exercise and that I had to increase the strength. I started using GripMaster HandExerciser and within couple of days the pain disappeared.

It is about a month and I am still switching between layouts as I haven’t had time to improve my typing speed/lower my error rate with colemak. Also in between I gave up and said why fix something that isn’t broken and went back to using qwerty as my qwerty and colemak both were taking a serious hit and I was feeling frustrated about how slowly I was typing.

One thing that I really am enjoying about my swtiching to colemak is remapping the capslock to function as backspace. That alone has justified my attempt to try new layout. I would highly recommend remapping capslock to backspace even if you dont want to try a new layout.

The annoyances

  • Remapping the capslock wasn’t super easy. I had to install Karabiner Elements
  • I had to create a new profile in Karabiner Elements for it to work well with my POK3R keyboard.
  • Because I have the capslock mapped to function on my POK3R keyboard I have to stretch my pinky to reach to for the backspace. Have to see if I can get backspace working in another layer on POK3R.

Last couple of days I have been forcing myself to stick to colemak and it has been good. I still don’t have the fluidity that I had/have on qwerty. But hopefully in time I should get that. Recent typing test I scored 30WPM. Not great but atleast a decent start.