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Re: How to type when using Emacs?

From: Xah
Subject: Re: How to type when using Emacs?
Date: Tue, 12 Aug 2008 01:02:06 -0700 (PDT)
User-agent: G2/1.0

On Aug 11, 10:18 pm, YSK <address@hidden> wrote:
> On Jul 10, 3:40 pm, address@hidden (Joel J. Adamson) wrote:
> > not use two fingers on the same
> > hand at the same time, except in emergencies.
> Seriously? I do this all the time. Some of my favorite (non-emacs)
> shortcuts include stuff like C-M-S-e, all done with my left hand. Is
> that bad?

yes and no. In general, if you just have one modifier key and one
letter key, the proper touch typing guidline is to use one hand on the
modifier and the other on the letter. Choose the modifier on the other
side of the letter key.

You can test this out.

Try to type this whole sentence in captical letters (but without using
Caps Lock).

First, try it using just the left Shift key. Then try it using the
touch type guidline as above. You'll see how using single hand creates
pain. Similarly, you can try the above with the Control key as

When you have multiple modifier, it gets a bit more complex and the
rule applies less. Ultimately, there are several factors involved. For
example, the keyboard hardware is not well designed due to historical
reasons. Secondly, many keyboards such as Apple's that has the right
hand side's modifier far to the right, making them less usable for
touch type. Lastly, the principles of ergonomics presumes you are
doing the task repeatitively for a prolonged time. Else it doesn't
apply. For example, for vast majority of computer users (say 95%),
they only type maybe for 1 hour per day, and there's not much activity
of continued typing more than 5 min. Lots of professional programers
don't even touch type; partly because heavy duty data-entry is not
really part of programing.

And when it comes to Control key, or multiple modifiers, they are not
used that much often, so whichever works for you is ok. However, this
does not mean it's completely a personal issue without any scicentific
or ergonomic principle. For example, of all the styles and anecdotes
you hear about how you should press modifier, you can easily test them
out and find the better one, by say, force yourself to continuously
operate it for 10 min using one way, vs another way. You'll quickly
see which one is more ergonomically sound, or more efficient (faster
and less effort).


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