Touch typing does not come naturally – you have got to learn how to do it. But are there easy and interesting ways of doing it? Paul Tyrell finds out and lets his fingers do the walking...
TOUCH TYPIST DOES NOT have the maternal persona that the Mavis Beacon program has, instead it is a functional package. What it lacks in presentation, however, it makes up for in content. For a start, it is dedicated to the Amiga. When you load up, a picture of the Amiga keyboard appears and your mistakes are easily highlighted by red flashes, while green highlights are used to hint where you should put your fingers next. This is a far easier system to read than Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing 2 which has a ghostly pair of hands which shadily follow your own across the keys. However, Touch Typist is dull to use – every lesson of the course is a text exercise in which you have to copy text at a certain speed and with a degree of accuracy. This quickly becomes boring, and because you have to enter your own parameters – the standards that you need to exceed in order to progress – it is difficult to tell if you are actually improving.
Touch Typist also becomes infuriating if you have failed to reach your goal during one lesson. Where Mavis Beacon would interject this point to mention that you seemed a little annoyed about something, this program tells you to do the same lesson all over again... and again... and again...
Statistical analysis is also a focal part of Touch Typist, you can call up a graph to display your accuracy, speed and so on. And it has much more emphasis on self analysis than Mavis, leaving you to organise a lot of study and not offering much encouragement or incentive to get better.
However, there are many features that make this program a rich course of study. There is a sentence spacing system that superimposes the characters you type over the text of a lesson once you have finished it, proportionally spacing the letters according to the time it takes you to find them. This allows you to identify which area of the keyboard you are finding hard to reach (though of course, Mavis Beacon does this automatically).
Touch Typist is a good program that would be excellent if it had an alternative, more interesting, method of learning.
Amiga Format, Issue 49, August 1993, p.96