lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Friday, February 10, 2006

Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs!

No, I am not going on a binge. :D

Like 'the quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog', it is a pangram, which uses all the letters of the alphabet. These sentences were used to practice correct keystrokes when typing.

When I learnt typing way back when the world was young, it was a skill taught in typing schools; fast and accurate typists were still prized. One was taught to type using all fingers and both thumbs.

asdfgf space ;lkjhj was the first thing you learned, and the teachers would watch hawk-eyed to make sure your fingering was correct. This was torture for me, as I had already taught myself a six-finger shuffle method of typing, and I was reasonably fast with it too. But I was made to unlearn it, and the right fingering was drummed into me by unending hours of practice at the typing school.

It didn't stick, though.

I used to have long nails on my right hand, as I played veena those days and needed the nails for plucking the strings. (My guru used to quote Marilyn Monroe, saying plectra were like falsies, needed by those whom the nature didn't endow sufficiently. Needless to say, I wouldn't be caught dead playing with plectra after that remark!) And, my left index and middle fingers used to be so heavily calloused, that it used to be uncomfortable hitting the keys with them. I needed my own patented six-finger shuffle. And I had trouble using my pinkies. After a couple of months, I gave up on the lessons as a waste of time. I had learned all I needed, anyway.

Nowadays, nobody is actually taught fingering methods or punctuation in typing, I think. Children peck away at keyboards, and everybody evolves their own hunt and peck techniques. I don't know if any youngsters of nowadays can type without an occasional peek at the keyboard, though. (If there are touch-typing wizards out there in the young world, my apologies for maligning you. :D)

But people seem to ignore simple punctuation rules, such as a space after a comma, two spaces after a period, etc. These are not just conventional niceties, though. They give visual aid, help make a document look neater and make reading easier.

I am not even going go into the texting argot. I just accept that language evolves, and mores change. If it saves time, energy and a few rupees to type gr8, and other such hybrid words and people do so, well, it is a free world. I'll do it my way, and they can do it theirs. :)

It doesn't stop me from wondering, though. Why develop lazy habits? If you don't bother with the shift key in casual writing, you might forget it when you are writing something serious. And how many people bother to check their spelling, grammar and punctuation before hitting the send button? Emails and Instant Messages may have shrunk the world, but they have also made bad writing practices acceptable.

The one nice thing about the computer keyboards is that you don't have to pound them. The old typewriters were like Model T Fords compared to the Ferraris of the latest keyboards . :D

That reminds me of Oscar Wilde, who said "The typewriting machine, when played with expression, is no more annoying than the piano played by a sister or a near relation." :)



Blogger complexvanilla said...

I used to pretend to type as instructed, but somehow, could never shake off my two-finger hack-a-hack until I came across a friend whose fingers just danced across the keyboard. Fascinated, I downloaded a typing-tutor and tried to learn. It gave me an option to learn typing in Dvorak. Intrigued, I started with it and found it really nice. Initially, I was using my two-finger hop-hack whenever I was not using my typing tutor, but started using it gradually and now, I touch-type pretty well, though it's in Dvorak and not the conventional querty. In case you did not know, the reason why keys are arranged on our keyboards the way they are now, is that the keys of the ancient typewriters would get stuck into each other when a person typed fast, so the keys were arranged in as difficult a fashion as possible, to slow the typist down, thereby avoiding stuck keys! And though technology has evolved so much, we still are using the same old crap layout without any questions. Dvorak on the other hand is designed for best possible ergonomy and speed.

7:55 pm  
Anonymous ottawa storage said...

I miss my typing class where our teacher terrorized us. What we do is every time she is not looking we will pound the typewriter with our pointing finger. Which is the most easiest thing to do to finish it. I am very thankful that we are using computers with soft keyboards now.

8:12 am  

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