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Speed spreads its wings in the microworld

aj+ column

I don't know how fast you type. Some of you, of course, don't. But the number of people who are too scared or selfimportant to contemplate using a keyboard is dwindling. I always claim that my typing speed is perfectly appropriate to the speed of thought.

But I do get irritated by that smug blur of sound produced by speed typists in the office. Maybe not any more.

The old one-handed Microwriter keypad is being revived. It was developed 30 years ago by Chris Rainey and the late Cy Endfield, director of the movie classic Zulu. At that time, friends of mine who had seen the light of the new secretary-less corporate dawn got hooked. Learning the chord system of keying words apparently comes easily.

You press combinations of half a dozen or so keys to produce a character. Once you've got the hang of it you can type as fast as conventional touch typists. At least that's what everyone claimed who bought an Agenda, a forerunner to palmtops that incorporated a Microwriter chord keypad.

When Agenda production ceased, a lot of people with specialist keypad skills were left stranded. But last month, Bellaire Electronics decided to relaunch the pad as (groan) the CyKey. There are three packages, which you can use with PCs and Palm palmtops, left and right handedly, possibly on your knee and mostly via infra-red connections. It seems like a very good idea for anybody intimidated by the qwerty keyboard.

Further and better particulars are at www. bellaire. demon. co. uk/index. html.

When a colleague pointed me to the Mail on Sunday national homebuilder design awards site, I couldn't believe the address: www. newhomesuk. info.You can, of course, read this as 'new homes uk'. You might, however, read it as a crude description of what the average housebuilder's product does. So, too, the rudimentary navigation of the site, which makes you go back to the home page all the time. Surely, show home mentality.

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