Tag Archives: practice

regexProgram: Add to your education

I don’t want this program to be bracketed as a “game” really, but it will probably look like one after a weekend of games. This is regexProgram, and I see this more as a practice or an exercise than a game, per se.


If you’re like me, and you only need or use regular expressions about two or three times a month, it’s not a skill that is particularly well developed. I know enough to search the vast wealth of the Internet to get something done, but not enough to muddle through things on my own.

regexProgram is a series of drills to think your way through, with each exercise becoming more and more complex. The first two or so were accessible to me, but beyond that, and I had to start looking for help elsewhere.

So in that sense, I can tell you that this isn’t a tool for solving regular expressions, like txt2regex was. And it’s not really a game, unless you find this sort of thing amusing and you’re willing to keep score on your own. 😕

But it will challenge you to think of specific cases, along with specific exclusions, and put them into expressions. It’s good practice.

As far as I can tell (because of course, after the second exercise I was completely over my head), regexProgram runs through the same 10 exercises each time, in a specific order. The README file describes a way to add your own exercises, which is a nice touch.

My only suggestion would be to add line numbers to the exercise array. The “hint” line guides you as you build your expression, but uses line numbers to draw your attention to specific cases. But there are no line numbers shown, which means you have to mentally count down line by line to see what the hint is … hinting at. 🙄

Beyond that, regexProgram is quite straightforward. On-screen prompts and color highlighting make it very quick to learn and read. The version you see above was built with Arch, the only dependency being ncurses (of course) and boost. Debian users can probably build it with the same libraries installed.

And while I wouldn’t call it a game, it’s definitely one worth keeping around, even just for educational purposes. I’m willing to give it a gold star for doing most everything right, incorporating a splash of color, and adding to my education. ⭐ Cheers! 😉

tlf: I’m so superficial sometimes

I’m going to list tlf here today, just because it’s Friday and because I’m feeling frisky.


It’s in both AUR and Debian, if you’re keeping score. Borrowing from the home page, tlf is “a curses-based console mode general logging and contest program for amateur radio.”

Having said that, I still haven’t got a clue what to do with tlf. It’s very pretty though, and we all know how I get all wobbly-kneed when I see a text-based program that uses color.

I suppose a long time ago I should have started filtering out all the software that I have no frame of reference for. It would have saved me the embarrassment of holding out programs like tlf (or a lot of other ham radio applications) and not knowing a single soul-loving thing about it. 😳

I haven’t been this lost since dxcc.

But I suppose arbitrarily lopping off titles from The List would have left me without the experience of learning a lot of new things. So perhaps it’s for the better.

And like the man said, knowing that we know what we know, and knowing that we don’t know what we don’t know, that is true knowledge.

Now if only I knew what that meant. …

For now I’m going to go back and look at how pretty tlf is, and watch the numbers spin past as I type. I’m so superficial sometimes. … 😐

dvorak7min: The path to enlightenment

I’ve been hearing the litany of Dvorak enthusiasts for at least as long as I’ve been using Linux, and I can tell you with all honesty that I … have not converted.

I’ve checked it out and tried it once or twice, but I don’t see the benefits of changing over to a different keyboard unless there are actual physical alterations that must be accommodated. Adding to that, I switch between two and three machines at home, plus two or three machines in my place of work, and mentally switching keyboards at the same time is not appealing.

If you subscribe to the church of Dvorak, or one of the other lesser factions, I leave it to you to find your way to enlightenment. I’m comfortable with my standard qwerty arrangement, plus or minus a few.

When I mentioned speedpad a week or two ago, dvorak7min came to light.


If you’re looking for a coach to push you toward the unbearable lightness of Dvorak, this might be your ticket. Or at least it’s a console tool for that purpose. 🙄

Starting dvorak7min yields a keypress menu of lessons based on keystrokes and finger placements. Enter a lesson and you see the multicolor keyboard above, and the lesson begins at your first keystroke.

A couple of notes: First, the program itself doesn’t switch your keyboard arrangement for you (or at least it didn’t in Arch). In other words, if you haven’t told the computer itself that you want a Dvorak layout, you’ll still be pressing the same keys with the same fingers, to complete the lesson.

That might sound anticlimactic, but it just means that dvorak7min isn’t intended as a hardware interpretation tool, only as a software title. You control the hardware, it watches and tabulates your performance. But it can’t tell what you have configured.

Second, it seems that after a period of inactivity, dvorak7min enters some kind of attract mode, and starts typing on its own. It may be that is intended as a pacing tool, but I thought it strange to leave dvorak7min for a moment or two, come back, and see that it was entertaining itself by finishing out my lesson.

Of course I don’t know all the ins and outs of the program, so perhaps I had stumbled upon some sort of ghost in the machine. No matter.

I haven’t found a home page for dvorak7min; it is in Debian and AUR, but the AUR PKGBUILD is outdated and will build a zero-kb file. You can edit the PKGBUILD to keep up with changes in Arch, or just download the source file (it points at the Debian repo) and decompress it. It will work acceptably from there.

Good luck in your transition. 😉

cwcp: Learn to walk before you run

I found qrq a week or two ago, and while qrq is probably a very useful program for people who need to improve their skills with Morse telegraphy, it might be geared more towards those who have already mastered the basics.

If you’re a newbie, cwcp might be more to your liking. Here’s the Linux Mint version.


Much is the same between qrq and cwcp, but it’s also clear that their target audiences are different. cwcp has speed and volume controls, but also has controls for adjusting tone and other audio cues.

qrq seemed to focus on recognizing call signs and building proficiency and speed, while cwcp starts with letter and number groups, and works up through English words and into other categories. cwcp also lets you type in your own text, and will replay it as tones.

Like qrq, cwcp will need a little nudge with the alsa-oss package. I don’t see where that’s listed as a dependency in Debian, but I don’t know that oss is necessarily out of fashion, particularly among Debian fans.

In any case, if you’re not hearing anything, that might be the reason. cwcp is part of the unixcw package, so it might be that you get more “modern” sounds support by bringing in the qt rendition. Try it and tell me.

cwcp alone is not in Arch, but the unixcw suite is in AUR. If you only want the one program, it may be possible to carve it out. And if you’re an Arch user you probably can handle that. 😎

cwcp has color, as you can see, and I should note that cwcp seems comfortable arranging its layout to just about any terminal size, but only on startup. If you change dimensions after you begin your tutorial, cwcp might not notice it.

I think that’s about all I can think of to say about cwcp. It’s definitely every bit as fucntional as qrq, but intended more as a learning activity than as a speed and proficiency drill. Enjoy. 😉

qrq: How little I really know

I found qrq by way of a brute search through the Debian archives for anything text-related, and even though I haven’t a clue what to do with qrq, I’ll show it here out of fairness.

2014-12-11-6m47421-qrq-01 2014-12-11-6m47421-qrq-02

That’s only partly true — I do have a small idea what to do with qrq. The home page is very helpful, and the program itself has more than enough help just in its startup screen to keep me from shrugging with complete bewilderment. And I imagine if you’re learning or use Morse telegraphy at all, it will be very interesting.

It’s also worth highlighting that qrq involves some sound support. Very few console applications take the time to incorporate an audio element, unless they’re specifically intended for audio playback.

At this point I should mention that I have no training whatsoever with Morse code aside from learning about it in primary school. Or maybe tinkering with morse. So properly using qrq is well beyond my ability.

On the other hand, I do like the interface, even if it is pinned to 80×24. qrq has no flags that I could find, and the man page gives only a little more information than you’ll get from starting the program.

I noticed that qrq is in both Debian and Arch, and the Arch version will pull in alsa-oss when you install it. That might suggest that qrq is a little beyond the most recent developments in Linux audio, but I had no problems with qrq’s sound playback.

Other than the fact that I have no clue what those beeps and boops mean. :\

Between this and yfklog, I’m beginning to expect more from text-only applications intended for the amateur radio demographic. … 😐

speedpad: The advanced typing tutor

Some typing tutors I’ve seen were oriented toward specific letter combinations, or as touch-typing coaches with the ability to swap out dictionary sets. Quasi-gamelike programs such as banihstypos aside, software like gtypist or typespeed primarily work on a word-by-word basis, ostensibly as a way of building fundamental proficiency.

So what should you be using if you’re beyond single-word exercises? What if ryryryry is getting a little boring?

Perhaps it’s time to step up to more practical typing exercises.

2014-11-10-jsgqk71-speedpad-01 2014-11-10-jsgqk71-speedpad-02

That’s speedpad, which works as a python tutor for advanced typists, and leans more toward speed and accuracy than building basic skills.

speedpad is not a game, and I had to remind myself of that and not throw it in with the last round of game-y titles. speedpad is deadly serious, offering a pacing bot, accuracy and word-per-minute counts, and accepting input from external files or things like fortune.

What that means is, speedpad is angled more toward practical typing practice, as opposed to just pulling in special and unique words or dictionaries, for single-word practice. And if you’re an advanced typist, you’ll either relish the practice, or brood hatefully over its unforgiving nature.

speedpad is not in Arch/AUR or Debian, which is a shame because I happen to like this interface much more than the gamelike approach of either typespeed or banihstypos, and the staid presentation of gtypist. speedpad knows its audience, and intends to keep it happy.

speedpad is a python program though, so chances are it will run on your system, provided it can access version 2.7. I tried it with the current python version in Arch, and got a few errors. Your system may behave better.

And don’t forget that speedpad alone usually doesn’t do much; you have to feed it a text file to get some serious typing action out of it. Find some problematic texts for you to practice, or grab fortune and let it pick for you.

speedpad stands above the other typing tutors I know of, if only for its interface and real-text approach to practicing typing. And considering it has an overabundance of color and a serious feel about it, I’m going to give this one a gold star: ⭐ 🙂 Enjoy!

gtypist: Yes, I know I’m a failure

I didn’t know there was a GNU Typist program that would do me the service of teaching me how to type properly.

And I sure didn’t know it was so lavish and ornate. Compared to some other GNU projects, this is a jewel to look at.


Wow, menu-driven, multicolor, long and descriptive instructions. … Is this really the same organization that lists ed, the least communicative program in existence, in its repertoire?

The times they are a-changing. I haven’t seen any typing challenge of this magnitude since … since … typespeed, I guess. 😐

GNU Typist, or just gtypist for short, has a huge array of lessons for you to kick through, and you’re free to jump in at any point and start swimming around.

And once you’ve mastered the basics of traditional touch-typing, you can start in with dvorak, colemak and keypad lessons.

Then you can move to the multilingual lessons, speed drills and typing challenges.

Good grief. It’s definitely the surprise of the week. How come nobody told me this was out there?! 😈

As with everything, there must be a downside, and the downside for me, as you can see in the gif above, is that I pretty much suck at classical touch-typing. My secondary school typing teacher will be disappointed.

I learned a little when I was young, but outside the letter keys and maybe the spacebar, I’m pretty much a hack.

So it might take me a while to get past the first lesson. At least I have time to spare. 🙄