How to get very fast

Posted by HF , 04/04/2000, 03:45:53 Reply   Forum

How to get very fast with FitalyStamp 1.0 and Fitaly 2.0?

This is, as most of the FAQs, a compilation of what has been discussed earlier in the Palm Fitaly forum.

The learning curve

Every new user of Fitaly and FitalyStamp experiences a learning curve and once you climbed this you will probably be able to write as fast as handwriting and even faster. Actually Fitaly is the fastest pen input method available on a handheld device - see also the Dom Perignon contest.

Visual practice

There are several approaches to increase the speed. Jean Ichbiah, the creator of Fitaly points out that Fitaly is a VISUAL keyboard. You can become very fast if you can "see" what you type before you type it, just like someone playing the piano sees notes ahead of playing them.

So the recommendation is to train first VISUALLY before typing.

Take a simple sentence and try to see the word patterns one by one without typing them. For that matter, the two sentences of the Dom Perignon contest are a good start since they contain words that you use all the time such as "what" "the" ... "to do to"... "one" "more":

"What you need to do to have a chance to win the contest is to tap this sentence as fast as you can without any error. One more thing you need to have for a valid entry is a witness."

Two tips regarding the visibility provided by Juergen Schaefer:

"If you're stuck not knowing where the next letter is, do NOT move the pen (keep it above the last tapped letter). Chances are great that the letter you're looking for is just in the vicinity / neighbourhood of the current pen position. A requirement for this is that you can hold the pen without covering too much of the keyboard."

"Of course it helps if you are aware that the most common letters are around the center - by design. Maybe it's even better always to start searching in the center."

"This should be a tip for the beginning stages only, until you memorized the layout. Using a regular sized pen (Rotring Tripen) the pen itself covers some of the letters. I found myself putting the pen out of the way to get a undisturbed view of the keyboard -- which is bad in terms of additional hand and pen movement."

Practice by repetition

Marcus Macrae, the winner of the Dom Perignon contest, gave the following advice:

"Practice - I would easily spend spend an hour in bed, bathed in an eerie glow, tapping away. My wife would occasionally blink, look grumpily at me, and ask me to be quieter. This led to a modified pen action."

"Ultra-light tapping / "dancing" over the keys - I found that as I kept it quieter, so my score improved!"

"PDA Panache pen - this arrived from PalmPilot Gear and was an instant help: better balance and better accuracy (orange tip vs grey)."

"Hack disablement - I had too many hacks which were slowing things down and I was getting ahead of the visual feedback. Turning off most of these was a big help."

"Oh, a final thought. Quite early on, I broke the (quite long) phrase down into several shorter ones and practiced those separately. That gave me an idea of the time which should be achievable if I managed to put it all together properly."

Monitoring the individual progress is easy with WPM, a freeware application. You can practice about one sentence at a time.

The key to repetition training is that once you gained speed with a known sentence by typing it again and again this will also increase you overall typing speed on new text.

Typical patterns

Another suggestion is to learn typical patterns. Each of the following is easy to see on the Fitaly. And the effect of trying to see them is to develop a familiarity with the layout:
what walk talky walky
the that chat chance
vital differ different ziff
ing ion region ation
final finally belly by
bye count harem charm

The idea is to do these VISUALLY and get to know where they are. Once you see the patterns the advantage of being able to "tap" them without moving the hand - just the fingers holding the pen - will become obvious.

Again, pause to see the word before you start tapping it. This little pause will end up saving time.

You can find more patterns in the forum articles by Robert Hill and Robert Carnegie.

The Giraffe game

Some users also have used the Giraffe game as a training alternative for the FitalyStamp. One advantage of this in comparison to WPM is firstly that letters are completely random and secondly that the speed is given and increased very slowly. The drawback is that you are training single letters and not words. Also the eye has to be very quick.

An advice could be to play each level of the Giraffe game at least once a day. The following graph shows a typical learning curve.

For comparision: My personal Giraffe HighScores achieved with FitalyStamp after four months of use are

  • Beginner: 4130
  • Intermediate: 1809
  • Expert: 565

I doubt this is possible with Graffiti.

It should be taken into account that Graffiti and FitalyStamp values can not be compared 1:1 within Giraffe because Giraffe halts as long as letters are drawn in Graffiti. This means e.g. if you reach 285 points with FitalyStamp in the expert mode of Giraffe you are as quick as 350 with Graffiti.

Also, there are practice modes within Graffiti for punctuation, extended and accented characters which are of big use.

There has been a discussion about a special FitalyStamp game - see FitalyLetris.




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