TYPING WITH NINE DIGITS
by Steven Steinbock
Let’s get the preliminaries out of the way. I broke my hand.
It happened a week ago, a result of a slippery shower floor, a clumsy reach for a fallen bar of soap, and a hard marble ledge. I cursed myself, and after I’d dried off and dressed, I took some Motrin and put the hand on ice. It couldn’t be broken, I told myself. I could still move all my fingers—albeit not fully, and not without considerable pain.
For the next several days, I nursed it, took regular doses of Motrin, and used my weak (right) hand as much as possible. Over the weekend, a change in weather brought the first mosquito of the season. The little bloodsucking pest was hovering over the table where I was working. I reached my hands out and timed the kill. I brought my hands together with a striking force, and . . .
The family came rushing to see what had happened. My face by this time was nearly as purple as my hand. Spouse looked at me, looked at the hand, and said, “I think you broke it.”
After the X-rays Monday morning, my doctor told me it was a boxer’s fracture. I like that. It gives me an excuse to say, “You should see the other guy.”
But it still hurts. And typing is especially difficult. I can’t hit the (left) shift key or the A key without consciously shifting my hand to the left, or suffering paroxysms of pain if I forget. The safest—but still awkward and inaccurate—method of typing is to use only the forefinger and middle finger of my left hand (and continue touch-typing using all five digits on the right half of the keyboard)
I’m finfing that thw most common mistatw is hitting thw wrong kwys.
By the time you read this, my hand will most likely be in a cast. (Thursday was the soonest I could get in to see the Hand specialist). I don’t know how that will affect my typing.
This provides an interesting segue back to last week’s topic of scannos. First, my editing has yielded a couple interesting errors resulting from incorrect character recognition:
danger came out as clanger
hoping yielded the pessimistic noping
The second scannos-related item is the effect of software choice on the editing process. When I reported to you last week, I’d been using a free Optical Character Recognition program called SimpleOCR. Occasional errors notwithstanding, the program truly is an engineering marvel, and at that price, it’s well worth checking out if for no other reason than to see clever software in action. But I decided to try a demo version of one of the better OCR programs (ABBYY Finereader). The program works great and provides output with far fewer errors than SimpleOCR. The problem is that the errors it misses are more difficult to find.
With SimpleOCR, I had to take a much more active role in the character-recognition and editing process. Each story I scanned required me to go through it twice: once to approve (or alter) the ambiguous suggestions, and a second time to go through the formatting, comparing it to the physical original. ABBYY Finereader did most of that for me. It made the process a dozen times faster (I could finish in five minutes what had taken more than an hour before), but it left me with far less confidence in the accuracy of what I’d done.