Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing Deluxe v.15
Typing tutor tested by CIARA O'BRIEN
Tech4Biz | 01 Apr 2005 :
Confession time: I can't type. Well, not in the touch-typing sense of the word. I'll admit it — I look at the keys while I type, and my fingers rarely stay on the 'asdf jkl;' keys. So when Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing Deluxe came into the office, I thought I'd seize the chance to finally break my bad habits and learn to type like a pro.
The last time I used a Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing program, the graphics were a lot less sophisticated (read: antiquated) and the program itself was much more basic. However, Mavis has moved on quite a bit since then. Mavis herself is exactly how I remember her — she's aging well — but the program has a much more up-to-date and contemporary look.
The basic premise is still the same — Mavis Beacon will teach you how to type like a pro. Take an initial assessment that will determine your current level of skill, and highlight your weak areas. The program will then give you lessons customised to your ability. Users can also input their age, choose the type of keyboard they have and limit the lessons to keyboard or 10-key numeric. You can even choose between two languages for the lessons — English and Spanish. The box also includes a bonus CD, Learn to Speak Spanish for Beginners.
As with the other versions of this software, a keyboard and a pair of hands show you which fingers should be used to hit each key. The program tracks your progress, keeping you informed of your typing speed for each lesson and how many errors you've made. As the lessons progress and your skill improves, things get a bit more challenging, with dictation and transcription thrown in for good measure.
Different games are interspersed with the lessons, so you can learn and have a bit of fun at the same time. Road race was the only familiar game for me; other games include Chameleon Picnic, Shark Attack and Penguin Crossing.
When you install the software, an icon is installed in the system tray that allows you to open the Personal Coach section of the program. This tracks stuff like your typing speed and shows you the correct finger positions while you type in Microsoft Word or another text editor. It also allows you to schedule tasks for regular recurrence, such as planning your next typing lesson. It also sets reminders for you to take breaks from typing after a certain amount of time, which can be set by the user.
If you need a bit of a break, the 'Fun stuff' option shows you the emoticons that are in general use in Internet chatrooms, message boards and email, and even a few that you might not have heard of.
But the final test is: Did it work? Am I a 70wpm girl or am I still floundering around at the shallow end of the typing pool? At the last count, I was up to 45wpm — not exactly what I'd hoped for, but with a bit more practice, who knows?
An updated version of an old favourite