Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How fast do you type?

According to, I can type at 58 words per minute with 97% accuracy, which is probably about average among my roommates. But that is words per minute; I am a programmer, I spend as much time typing code filled with hyphens and tildes and ampersands as typing "words". And I must admit, I never learned to touch-type type numbers or symbols, so typing code involves a lot of glancing down at the keyboard to find out exactly where a symbol is. Try it yourself – here is a string I find myself typing fairly often during a day at work (and no, it isn't confidential!):

dbisql.exe –c "UID=dba;PWD=123;ENG=myEngine;DBF=..\testdb.db"

How quick can you type that? And I will point out that this string doesn't even have any really difficult characters, just lots of punctuation.

Steve Yegge wrote a really good rant recently on the subject of typing (or as he calls it, Programming's Dirtiest Little Secret), and it got me thinking. As good as I am at typing normal text, I fall apart when I run into anything else. Before reading his rant, I would never have thought of putting practicing typing on my professional development list, despite the fact that it will serve me better than any of the books I'd read or languages I'd learn. But right now I am going to put learning python on hold (again) and spend some quality time with my old friend Mavis Beacon.