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Coding with one arm,can it be done effectively


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#1 timetopat   Members   -  Reputation: 136

Posted 05 June 2012 - 06:49 AM

I like to program and I am in the google summer of code. On the day of its start i got into a car accident and broke my collar bone. My left arm (my dominant one) cannot be used for at least a month while i heal. Coding with my right hand is lengthy and error prone. Is there any way I can write code with one hand in a way that would be effective? I read about voice recognition programs but some people on the ubuntu board said not to do that for programming in python. I am using ubuntu for the project i am working on.

thanks

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#2 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 05 June 2012 - 06:59 AM

I like to program and I am in the google summer of code. On the day of its start i got into a car accident and broke my collar bone. My left arm (my dominant one) cannot be used for at least a month while i heal. Coding with my right hand is lengthy and error prone. Is there any way I can write code with one hand in a way that would be effective? I read about voice recognition programs but some people on the ubuntu board said not to do that for programming in python. I am using ubuntu for the project i am working on.

thanks


The majority of coding should be thinking, not typing.

It's more than possible to type with one hand. Just practice some and you'll get used to it in no time.

#3 EnigmaticProgrammer   Banned   -  Reputation: 141

Posted 05 June 2012 - 07:02 AM

Perhaps a visual programming language where you link inputs and outputs from various functions with just a mouse. Other than that I see no way to make your programming more effective.

#4 Madhed   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2994

Posted 05 June 2012 - 07:03 AM

First: Sorry to hear that, hope you get well soon.

Second: I guess churning out lines of code is the least part of programming. For the most time it's thinking and planing. So you shouldn't be *that* handicapped.

I guess you should just name your functions and variables using only letters from the right side of your keyboard.

j/k. I think it can be done. Actually I often find myself typing while eating and while it is a tedious task you get accustomed to it.

#5 kseh   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2088

Posted 05 June 2012 - 09:33 AM

The only advice I can think of is (if you haven't already) is to try and decrease your dependance on the mouse and learn as many keyboard shortcuts as you can.

#6 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 21488

Posted 05 June 2012 - 09:51 AM

There are also one-handed keyboards, if your injury is bad enough in the long term.

I doubt it would be a long-term disabling injury but the keyboards are certainly an option if that happens.
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#7 tstrimple   Prime Members   -  Reputation: 1718

Posted 05 June 2012 - 09:54 AM

The majority of coding should be thinking, not typing.


Sounds waterfall-ish to me :D

To those who think typing isn't important, try switching to an unfamiliar keyboard layout and seeing if it doesn't have an impact on your ability to program. I firmly believe that it's important to get rid of as many brain - code barriers as possible, and being able to effectively type without thinking about it is a huge part of that. If you're having to stop every few seconds to find a key, you are not going to be as effective as someone who's use of the keyboard is almost unconscious.

That being said, it's definitely possible to program with one hand it will just take some practice. I've gotten proficient in both typing with one hand and playing Diablo 3 with one hand due to having to hold my 8 month old daughter with the other arm! It's almost fortunate that it was your left arm. Even though that is your dominate arm, the most difficult characters to type will be the brackets and punctuation necessary for programming which are on the right side of the keyboard and would be that much more difficult if you're reaching across.

#8 YodamanJer   Members   -  Reputation: 446

Posted 05 June 2012 - 10:13 AM

Ouch. Sorry to hear that!

It'll be tedious but you'll get used to typing with one hand pretty quick if you practice a couple of times. The hardest part'll be when you need to use capital letters for naming variables or calling certain functions from classes. In that event I'd say hits the caps lock key rather than try to reach your hand across multiple inches of keyboard.

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#9 jwezorek   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1869

Posted 05 June 2012 - 10:13 AM

I suffer from pretty severe carpal tunnel syndrome that comes in bouts at unpredictable times. When it's bad I basically lose fine motor control in my right hand for a while which is a problem given that programming is my job. But, anyway, I agree with Kseh above. The thing to do is learn how to program without using a mouse. I find typing with your non-dominant hand is not as difficult as using a mouse with your non-dominant hand. Obviously you can't type as fast but you can get things done.

Edited by jwezorek, 05 June 2012 - 10:43 AM.


#10 fruki   Members   -  Reputation: 269

Posted 05 June 2012 - 11:02 AM

I suffer from pretty severe carpal tunnel syndrome that comes in bouts at unpredictable times. When it's bad I basically lose fine motor control in my right hand for a while which is a problem given that programming is my job. But, anyway, I agree with Kseh above. The thing to do is learn how to program without using a mouse. I find typing with your non-dominant hand is not as difficult as using a mouse with your non-dominant hand. Obviously you can't type as fast but you can get things done.


I hope you use wrist pads for that or it will just get worse until you lose the hand completely. Also DON'T lay the fore arm on the edge of the table! This is what will get you into the carpal syndrome in the first place!

I broke my wrist (on a not-so-manly manner when attempting ice-skating for the first time) less than 2 months ago and I totally agree with the people that say that its more thinking than writing. I finally was able to finish my FYP on time, had surgery, go through physical therapy (which I still do) and actually got my first job in the game industry WHILE coding with one hand.

My approach was: more planning less writing. It worked marvels. Sure you are going to see a huge impact on the productivity, but that just means you will have to compensate with more design. I would usually "draw" (yeah horrible drawings but its not for art class) everything out before, and make sure not to code anything I wasn't sure of. Start with the no-brainers and escalate from there. The ideas is to avoid re-writing code as much as possible.

I was in your place and started thinking in special keyboards, or learning to write with one hand, but at the end, its just a matter of writing it as fast as possible, so all of this is just going to add up to your learning (buying?) time to an already short time frame. So do like I did and just write it, if you have to use just one finger, look at the keyboard, whatever just do it. At the end I got pretty fast.

#11 way2lazy2care   Members   -  Reputation: 782

Posted 05 June 2012 - 11:27 AM


The majority of coding should be thinking, not typing.


Sounds waterfall-ish to me :D

To those who think typing isn't important, try switching to an unfamiliar keyboard layout and seeing if it doesn't have an impact on your ability to program. I firmly believe that it's important to get rid of as many brain - code barriers as possible, and being able to effectively type without thinking about it is a huge part of that. If you're having to stop every few seconds to find a key, you are not going to be as effective as someone who's use of the keyboard is almost unconscious.

I actually do a fair amount of typing one handed when I'm at home. It's not quite the same as using a completely different keyboard, but even after a month of using a non-typical keyboard you could probably get used to it as well. It's a little more difficult, but you should know what you want to write code-wise well before your fingers even touch the keyboard.

It will take more time, but I can still type quickly with one hand (maybe 60-70% as quickly as I can with two. With two I find I get close to my limit because I start having to wait to think of the next thing I need to type, so that's why it's not 40-50%.) and I'm only typing 20-30% of the time, so that's really only a 12-21% slowdown, which isn't that big when compared to say, failblog.

#12 Ravyne   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 7498

Posted 05 June 2012 - 12:17 PM

I agree that removing brain-to-code barriers is a good thing for productivity, but that's what practice does -- before the first week is finished, I expect you'd be past the "hunt-and-peck" stage. Sure you won't be typing as quickly as you can two-handed, but you won't need to do much context-switching to find keys anymore.

You could also buy a one-handed chorded keyboard, or find a software implementation of one. Basically, this is a type of keying in which pressing multiple keys at the same time (or by holding/activating modifier keys first) corresponds to a certain keystroke. Many systems use a few as 5 keys, though those aren't going to give you the full 103+ keys you're probably used to.

Here's an example that's running on a tablet: http://labs.teague.com/?p=1451

#13 dave j   Members   -  Reputation: 592

Posted 05 June 2012 - 03:04 PM

I had this about 18 months ago after a hand operation.

As others have said - it's perfectly doable and it doesn't take long to get used to typing with one hand. Don't forget to look at sticky keys and other accessibility aids built into your OS.

#14 ddn3   Members   -  Reputation: 1289

Posted 06 June 2012 - 02:44 PM

Maybe you can get yourself a small USB trackpad about the size of a laptops trackpad and place it under your keyboard. This won't be as good as having both hands free but should allow you to have nearly the same flexibility of both keyboard/mouse without constantly having to move your keyboard hand off the keyboard, which would get tiring and also probably lead to repetitive stress injuries..

Good Luck!

-ddn

#15 Washu   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 5245

Posted 06 June 2012 - 02:50 PM

The 1950's say: You only need one arm to smack your secretary. Dictate as needed.

In all seriousness, there are keyboards and similar utilities you can use. You might also try out a speech to text utility.

As pointed out already though, the majority of development is thinking.

Edited by Washu, 06 June 2012 - 02:54 PM.

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#16 Krohm   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3129

Posted 06 June 2012 - 10:50 PM

I like to program and I am in the google summer of code. On the day of its start i got into a car accident and broke my collar bone. My left arm (my dominant one) cannot be used for at least a month while i heal.

I am not familar with the duties involved in those kind of initiatives. My best advice would be to just wait till healing. Who knows what you might do to your nerves. I'm not a medic, I don't know.

I had extensive damages to my hands/wrists/arms. If you happen to have problems, my advice is to try a DVORAK layout. I'm not a medic but I think that won't be your case.

#17 szecs   Members   -  Reputation: 2149

Posted 06 June 2012 - 11:59 PM

I don't agree with the insignificance of typing as implied by many posts.
Sure, there is much more thinking involved, than typing, But it doesn't mean there aren't hour-long or longer continuous typing sessions.
In total, typing may be much less than thinking, nevertheless, when you do need to just type for hours, then slow typing can be really annoying, even if the slowdown doesn't significantly affect the total development time.




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