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Learning Curve

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 4 months ago


Home > Learning Curve


It takes about 40 – 60 hours of use to achieve an average typing speed of 40 – 60 wpm. While this is a much shorter learning curve than that of a standard computer keyboard, it is, nevertheless, a hurdle to becoming an AlphaGripper.

Muscle Memory Develops While You’re Sleeping


To become proficient at touch typing on an AlphaGrip you must develop “muscle memory” in your fingers (which also applies to a keyboard). The development of muscle memory happens over time, much of it in your subconscious while you are not actually typing. Thus, while using your Grip several hours a day may shorten your learning curve slightly (as compared to using it 30 minutes to an hour per day), you will still probably need at least a month or two to reach an average typing speed of 40-60 wpm.


The importance of sleep in the development of “muscle memory” is explained by Simon McCallum, who has a PhD in an area related to learning and memory. He posits, “Sleep has been shown to be a critical part of procedural learning. Practice and training within a single day has only limited improvement for tasks that are very similar to learning a new keyboard layout. For example the motor task used by Walker et.al. [cited below] is pressing number sequences on a standard keyboard. His results show that sleep improves performance more than additional training through the day.”


See Matthew P. Walker, Practice with Sleep Makes Perfect: Sleep-Dependent Motor Skill Learning, Neuron, Vol. 35, 205-211, July 3, 2002: Walker Study


Initial Impressions and Plan of Attack

From: ivanwfr Date: Mon, Apr 17 2006 11:20 am

UP on original subject from oggie rob:***




First Contact

I had my first real contact with the AlphaGrip only yesterday evening (April 16). I have it on my desk since one week now but I had a demanding job to get on with and I have been frustrated from not being able to play with my new toy since then.


Until now, my impressions were only based on all I've read around here and from the two available reviews.


It was all made of what I could get from people who had a chance to experiment what it means to type with the AG.


Here is what came early from real experience, as a contradiction to what I expected from second hand knowledge.


Getting used at using thumbs to type letters is something weird

I do that only with the space bar of a standard keyboard because there is nothing more available. And I still have a second thumb quite fresh as a spare part! Maltron and some other are relying on thumbs too, and my guitar as well!


When you think about it for a second, what is really weird is what pinkies are required to do on a standard keyboard. This is why I can tell that I am ready to have my thumbs do more than push the space bar.


Here is the recipe I will try to stick to:

  • An open-minded approach -- forgetting as much as I can forget from typing on a standard keyboard
  • Use the force -- no more plain hard exercise as soon as the layout gets memorized
  • Training, training and training...


Since about one year, I don't read anymore, I write everything instead... I cut any lengthy enough portion of text I should read, I paste it into a txt file and I launch Stamina tutor to stream that file to the screen. This is how I can train for a significant amount of time everyday since one year.


Until the beginning of last year, I have been a hunt & peck typist for more than 20 years. Now I can touch-type on the smooth surface of a Fingerworks TouchStream. It looks like using the force alright: no keys to feel and not even looking to the symbols, the little bumps on the home rows and muscle memory do the trick.


I am far from mistake-free but I chose to let my fingers do their drumming bursts rather than discipline them in some kind of boring correctness endeavor.


QWERTY, Dvorak and muscle memory?

Could the layout take benefits from a one's touch typing experience on a standard keyboard? I am going to wait a little while before I make an opinion on that. All I can say for the moment is that I prefer not to look for any relation between AG and QWERTY layout to ease learning!


My touch typing experience is very recent and vivid. It is only a one-year-old ability that I train everyday. I intend to persist as long as I can get satisfaction from improvement. This means that I am currently in a deep and sustained brain storming about learning and muscle memory mechanisms.


This said, I am inclined to think that any compromising would be a mistake. I prefer having my finger take their own marks with the AG rather than trying to make them feel at ease with any similarity. This is mainly motivated by the best conclusions I can think of about how to acquire a muscle memory. And that conclusion can be said in three words: training, training and training.


The conscious part of your brain is not required here! More than that, it is not even welcome! You can come to the same conclusion when you consider how the fingers of a touch typist are able to find keys by themselves. If the fingers of a hunt and peck typist rely on guidance to reach keys it is because they did not have the chance to learn to do without it...


The best way to switch from typing on a standard keyboard to typing on the AG or another layout is for your muscle memory to kick in the appropriate memory bank. And any attempts to put logic in this mysterious process are doomed...


At least this is where I sand with my current knowledge of the process...


Yet another layout? Still, some keys are more difficult to use than others?

So, the notion of home row still applies here? ...meaning that fingers have to do with reaches, just like they do with a standard keyboard. In other words, keys that are under fingers default position are easier to activate and you still have to move your fingers to reach other keys. Then it definitely has something to do with a keyboard! The keys layout is different, that's all...


Well, some keys are located under your fingertips and some are not, like on a standard keyboard. But there is more to me than just a proximity matter. Like oggie rob said in his first message on this subject, you can use more than your fingertips; quite unlike on a keyboards, knuckles are also able to activate a key! You can even activate two different keys with your thumbs this way.


We can take advantage from using the AlphaGrip in a way totally unrelated to how we use a keyboard. I am going to try using knuckles instead of fingertips as much as possible. If I can push this to its limit, there will be no shrinkage required anymore other than for the thumbs with their nine keys... More speed? ...maybe.. More comfort? ...sure!

Lateral force needed to hold Grip

nathan.middleton Date: Wed, Apr 19 2006 3:10 am

… I received the alpha grip today and am already typing reasonably well with it. My only complaints are getting used to the lateral forces needed to keep my fingers free.

Use AG-5 occasionally

From: Doug Sims Date: Wed, Apr 26 2006 4:06 pm

… As far as my time on the AG goes, I put one hour in the first two days I had it, and have used it at least two hours for the past two days. I am not up to my QWERTY speed yet (35-40 wpm), but I am approaching 20 for some tasks. Personally, I made a commitment to only post to this group using my AG. So I will at least get some practice in. You and some others may want to try this as well, if you're having trouble finding time for the AG.

Need suggestions for these keystrokes

From: Anne Pruitt Date: Mon, Mar 26 2007 2:48pm

… This the first time I've seen a Wiki used as a user group or forum, so please bear with me as I try to communicate here. I'm sure the AG community can help get me started!


I'm impatiently waiting for my Alphagrip. In the meantime, I have made a list of the special keystrokes I use 1,000 times a day. I am a database app programmer and an avid Everquest player, and use Windows XP on 3 computers.


At first I thought I would want to use the Yaarg keymap mod, but on second thought have decided to give the default layout a workout for a least a few days.


I need suggestions for how to create the following keystrokes. After looking at the pics on the Alphagrip site, some of these seem difficult. One (calculator) looks impossible, but fortunately it's not absolutely necessary.


Some may have alternative Windows native keystrokes that I am not aware of. For example, here's one I AM aware of. I always use the keyboard CONTROL C and CONTROL V to copy and paste. But I know that an equivalent keystroke series in many cases is Alt-E, C and Alt-E, P to access an application's Edit menu.



  • Select words at a time in text: SHIFT CONTROL LEFT ARROW or SHIFT CONTROL RIGHT ARROW (word in this context means contiguous characters with no delimiters (space, period, etc))


  • Select lines at a time in text: SHIFT CONTROL DOWN ARROW or SHIFT CONTROL UP ARROW


  • Select part of a word: LEFT CLICK HOLD DRAG


  • Run macros in my text editor: CONTROL 4 (or any number)


  • Move to end or beginning: CONTROL END or CONTROL HOME


  • Move to end or beginning while selecting: SHIFT CONTROL END or SHIFT CONTROL HOME


  • Move between applications ALT TAB and (not strictly necessary) SHIFT ALT TAB.


  • Move between windows in an application: CONTROL TAB and (not strictly necessary) SHIFT CONTROL TAB.


  • In several applications, the app menu keys: Alt-F, O, Alt-F, S, and so forth.


  • my keyboard has a "calculator" key, that has the same effect as clicking start - run - typing "calc" and pressing enter.


  • Windows File dialogs (The dialog boxes you get with File Save As and File Open): I work with a lot of files, comparing and updating. Very frequently I need to save in a directory that is not the current directory. Since I find navigating through folder with the mouse annoying, I use the keyboard.


For instance, to get to c:\myfolder\myfiles, in the "Save As" dialog I would type "C:\my" + Down Arrow + Enter (does not save, but changes the current folder to "c:\myfolder"). Then I would type "my" + DOWN ARROW + Enter. Then I would paste in the name of the file (previously copied to clipboard), add the extension and press "Enter" to finally save. It sounds time consuming but is very much more comfortable than using the mouse.


  • In EQ, the arrows are the movement keys, and they move you as long as they are pressed down. In other words, if the AG fires on key up, vs key down, this won't work. I can remap these keys in EQ, but need to be able to "hold down" the movement keys.


  • In EQ, I frequently need to use PGUP and PGDN while holding down the movement keys. I can remap these keys, but I need the functionality.


If you have read this far, you have my heartfelt thanks! I hope these are not dumb questions with obvious answers, and hope I have not wasted your time. I'm very excited about the AG and can't wait to get it.






Positioning/picking up generates keystrokes

I've had my AG for 6 days now. One of my problems is that as I pick up the AG and position my hands I generate lots of keystrokes. Everything I do begins with long lines of 'a's and 'q's and 'n's and 't's. I have slowed down my keyboard repeat rate, but it still happens.


I have seen lots of posts about fixing the AG for bigger hands, but I think I have smaller hands. I find it hard to reach the a key. Are there recommendations for smaller hands?


I am enjoying the practice (but I am typing this on the normal keyboard. It took too long to get the first line or so in.) Without the AG I use the keyboard as much as possible - including lots of the key-combos mentioned above. I find that as I practice with the AG I am using trackball more.





Re: Positioning/picking up generates keystrokes


I think the more you use your Grip, the less you'll accidentally generate characters because you will develop a "feel" for where you can apply pressure with your palms on either side of the Grip while keeping your fingers from applying too much pressure on the keys. I have average-sized hands though, so I'm not sure if my prediction applies to you. You may also try pressing the Pause button before putting your Grip down so you won't generate any characters when you pick it up.


Two suggestions with regard to having smaller hands:


1. You could use Autohotkey to remap the more frequently used characters to keys that are easier for you to reach, and move less frequently used characters to keys that are harder to reach. For example, you may want to swap the letter "K" (located on a thumb key which is probably easier for you to reach) with the letter "A" (which you say is on a key that is not easy to reach. For more information, please visit the Remapping section of this Wiki.




2. You can try to glue some foam add-ons to the keys to make it easier to reach the "inside" portion of the rocker keys (the portion of the keys closest to the middle of the Grip). Please see the Modifications Page on our website and the images of foam add-ons glued to the "inside" portion of the keys at the bottom of the Willner Modifications section of the wiki.



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