Tag Archives: tutor

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I haven’t found a home page for dvorak7min; it is in Debian and AUR, but the AUR PKGBUILD is outdated and will build a zero-kb file.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. 😉

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. 🙄