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Why Geeks Love Plain Text (And Why You Should Too)

Why Geeks Love Plain Text (And Why You Should Too)

    Plain text files are all the rage these days. Whether you are an iOS user that has one of the largest selection of plain text writing apps around, or a cross-platform guru that needs portability with her data and files; plain, good-ol’-fashion text files are the way to go.

    There is something about writing or logging your day in text files that is quite different from writing in a Microsoft Word Document, Apple Pages Document, Google Document, or even an OpenOffice ODT format. Below we will show you why geeks love plain text files and why you should too.

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    Portability

    One of the best things about plain text is that it is a portable format between almost any operating system that I have seen. You can use plain text files on Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Linux, etc. All of these operating systems have ways of natively showing you the contents of a text file as well and also allowing you to edit its contents.

    It’s safe to say that 20 years from now most operating systems (at their core) will be able to open a plain text file making your data safe and

    Easy To use

    Plain text files are at the zenith of ease of use. There isn’t really anything to learn; you just start typing text into a blank file. That’s it. No keyboard shortcuts to learn, or complicated menu structures, or ways to format etc. It’s all about putting data in a file and that is it.

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    You can create a new plain text file simply in any operating system with built in apps (ie. TextEdit.app or Notepad.exe), or if you are a real *nix geek just be typing something as simple as:

    touch my_new_text_file.txt

    Then open that sucker up in vim and type away (Don’t forgot to shift-z-z every once in a while to save, you nerd!). It couldn’t be simpler to get your thoughts down with a plain text file as the tool.

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    The best part about ease of use is that text files allow you to write, not fiddle with your tools. There are of course apps out there that allow you too mess around with your setup, but if you want to get some writing done a plain, no-frills text editor allows you to start writing right away.

    No lock-in

    Another great reason that geeks love plain text is that there is no vendor lock-in. This goes hand-in-hand with the portability reason mentioned above. There is no “special app” that only supports text files. There is no “compatibility issues” that you need to deal with (I’m looking at you, Microsoft Word). For all purposes, text files are just text files and can be opened by pretty much any document or text creation software.

    This is a great thing when you want your data sticking around for the long term. When the .doc format dies in the next 80 years, it would be hard for me to believe that some system that exists in the world won’t be able to open the simplest of data forms (even if you have to load it up in your heads-up-display that is embedded in your eyes).

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    Good for almost anything

    I use the word almost with care. I haven’t found too many things in my writing and developer journeys that plain text files aren’t good for, except one thing. Non-linear thinking (ie. mindmapping).

    Text files aren’t very good at connecting non-linear ideas together in an easy way. I’m sure that it is possible, but I haven’t found a good way to do it when I need to brainstorm. This is one of the only things when it comes to writing that I don’t use plain text for.

    The good thing about mindmapping, at least with any mindmapping applications that are worth a damn, is that you can export your data to an OPML format which is pretty portable as it is XML markup. You can open XML in any text editor as plain text.

    Awesome apps for text creation and editing

    Here are some of the best apps that I have found for creating, manipulating, and using your plain text files:

    Plain text files are easy, portable, searchable, and aren’t locked to a specific technology. Not to mention you will be nerdy and cool when you use plain text (just ask Mike). So, if you are looking to keep your words and data around for a long time, look to us geeks for some advice. Use plain text.

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

    How to Beat Procrastination: 29 Simple Tweaks to Make Design Is Important: How To Fail At Blogging 7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively 6 Unexpected Ways Journaling Every Day Will Make Your Life Better Why Getting Things Done is the Best Productivity System For You To Automate or not to Automate Your Personal Productivity System

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    Last Updated on September 11, 2019

    8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

    8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

    Computers and cell phones have become an integrated tool in our professional and personal lives that the original methods of using pen and paper may not be so common anymore.

    Although our old-school methods of note taking may not have entirely left us, technology is advancing with no intention of slowing down; iPads are moving into service industries, video calls are taking the place of in-person interviews, and store receipts are making its way into our email inbox – all of which requires the skill of typing.

    Learning a new skill doesn’t have to be boring and never had to be. Thankfully, there are effective games and apps that can help you learn to type fast with swift precision and accuracy.

    Why Typing Fast Matters?

    Learning how to type fast is a game changer. In fact, you can save 21 days per year by typing fast!

    Although shaving several minutes from curating a long email or texting paragraphs in a text message may not seem to be of great significance, the minutes soon do eventually add up and the long list of tasks then evolve into frustration. By the end of the day, time is being wasted, and the work pile is stacked high over your head.

    Why not alleviate some of those frustrations through practice and dedicating your spare time to build muscle memory?

    Learning a simple skillset like speed typing can drastically improve other essential areas in life including time-management and prioritization. Not only does it help you efficiently complete tasks at work and in your personal life, but it also boosts your productivity.

    8 Most Effective Typing Games and Apps

    Everyone learns at different speeds and uses various methods. While some work better under pressure and tight deadlines, others thrive when given ample amounts of time to learn and soak in the knowledge that is being provided. Despite the number of resources that are available in the hollow corners of the internet, it’s all about finding one source that helps you learn at your fullest potential.

    Whether you’re a keyboard ninja or not, here are some effective typing games and apps that allow you to test your speed, accuracy, and maybe shoot some spaceships along the way.

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    For Beginners

    1. Speed Typing Online

      What’s more fun than to type to the story of Alice in Wonderland or the lyrics to “Hey Jude”? Speed Typing Online is an online typing game that allows you to dive into the creative and familiar world of famous books, fables, songs, and even hone your skills in data entry.

      The bright blue frame holds the text, which then turns green after punching in the accurate keystrokes. After the end of the personal timer, a statistics page appears to show you your typed words per minute, accuracy, correct and incorrect entries, and error rate.

      2. Typing Trainer

        Typing Trainer

        is another online platform suited for beginner typists looking for step-by-step lessons. Learning the keys on a keyboard can confusing especially for those who aren’t as familiar or getting adjusted to typing on a computer keyboard.

        Typing Trainer has a collection of step-by-step tutorials that covers everything from sentence drills, introduction to new keys as the lessons progress, and skills test. The Typing Trainer specifically highlights unique features in each lesson including a warm-up section where the user begin to build muscle memory and learn to type without looking at the keyboard.

        The website is also programed to identify difficulties the user is facing when typing specific words or sentences.

        3. TapTyping – Typing Trainer

          There is the feeling of physically typing on a keyboard and then there’s the feeling of typing on a touch screen mobile device.

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          Since the use of cell phones has become closely integrated into our everyday lives, learning to type on a mobile is much of a skillset as it is to type on a computer. The mobile typing app, TapTyping – Typing Trainer, allows users to practice while on-the-go making it perfect for commuters who want to practice typing during their down time.

          The app allows you to challenge other typists around the world with TapTyping’s global leaderboard and test your skills by taking advanced lessons. There’s always room for improvement and with the app, you’ll be able to find your mistakes by watching a heat map of your finger strokes.

          For professional writers and programmers

          4. The Most Dangerous Writing App

            Suitable for writers facing a creative block or on a tight-deadline, the Most Dangerous Writing App is a website that forces your fingers to type as quickly as your ideas.

            If you stop longer than 5 seconds, everything you had written will slowly disappear from the screen.

            Sessions are timed from 3 minutes to 20 minutes, or can go from 75 to 1667 words. This online app is perfect to brain dump ideas, write a chapter of a manuscript you’ve been stuck on, or help with procrastination.

            If you’re up to the challenge, try the hardcore mode – an alternative option where a single letter appears on the screen at a time. This level prevents you from seeing the entire word, sentences, or even correct any spelling or grammatical mistakes until the timer is complete.

            If you’re wondering, copying and pasting is not an option until each the end of each session.

            5. The Typing Cat

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              Looking to upgrade your typing skills? Also working as a personal tutor, the Typing Cat has a list of regular typing courses with the option to try other lessons with more complexity such as HTML. Learning to type code is a another valulable skillset worth adding.

              Even with disregarded interest in the coding world, using the code course enhances your typing skills and allows your fingers to familiarize itself with uncommon word combinations and placement of punctuations on a keyboard.

              The coding course can be difficult even for typing whizzes, but it’s all a part of muscle memory. According Psychology Today,[1] only a handful of people actually learn how to type by looking at an actual keyboard, while a majority of the population locate specific keys intuitively through muscle memory.

              Available courses include EcmaScript 6, HTML 5, and CSS 3.

              Fun typing games

              6. ZType — Space Invaders Meet Webster

                Remember playing the iconic 70’s game that allowed you to shoot tiny purple and green aliens from one end of the screen to the other with a two-bullet laser? It’s hard to believe that Space Invaders just turned 40 , but you can still get the same adrenaline rush with ZType, a typing game with the same shooting concept.

                Ztype works in waves – stages that must be cleared but instead of aliens, you must type out the words before the missiles destroy your ship at the bottom of the screen. Every so often, longer and mor complex words would appear and if the words are not typed in the allotted time, a series of letters will disperse like missles.

                The game is quick on the fingers and will still have your heart pumping until the very end.

                7. Epistory – Typing Chronicles

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                  Although this game does cost money to purchase, it is worth the investment if you’re looking for a refreshing and alternative mode to learning how to type fast.

                  Epistory – Typing Chronicles is a role-playing action and adventure game of a young girl riding a fox in a magical and fictional realm; together they combat enemies in the shapes and forms of words.

                  Once you’re starterted, you almost forget you’re playing a typing game. The paper craft art aesthetics of the game has you captivated by the vibrant colors and character’s storyline, while having you build your typing skills.

                  8. Daily Quote Typing

                    Need some inspiration? Say no more.

                    Daily Quote Typing is one of many gammes available on Wordgames.com – a website that offers a variety of typing games ranging from different levels based on your experience.

                    With Daily Quote Typing, users are able to type out inspirational quotes by famous leaders, inventors, and innovators such as Mark Twain and Albert Einstein.

                    Bottom Line

                    At the end of the day, discipline and patience is what teaches to type faster. It comes down to making that commitment to improving not only your typing abilities, but in a lifelong skill that benefits other areas in life.

                    By practicing daily and using effective games and apps, it’s only a matter of time before keystrokes will become second nature and your brain will adapt to learning other skills faster.

                    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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