Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 5 NO. 6 / FEBRUARY/MARCH 1991


Practice Makes Perfect


If you are like a lot of users, the numeric keypad on your ST probably doesn't get much use. It likely gets touched only when you use a spreadsheet or database program to enter a lot of numeric data. When you do need it, however, the keypad proves its worth. But unless you are experienced with data entry, you probably need some practice to improve your accuracy and speed. Numeric Keypad Drill is a program that can help. It was written in GFA BASIC 2.0 (the SOURCE code is NUMERIC.LST) and can be used in color or monochrome.

You will find the program NUMERIC.PRG in the arcfile KEYARC.PRG. Follow the disk instructions to unARC it. When you start the program, you will be presented with a menu bar with the following headings: Desk, Options, Test, Upper-Limit and Lower-Limit. Click on Desk to read the usual copyright information.

This is a drill in progress. As you can tell from the error marks
START's technical editor needs practice.

The Options menu lets you change the colors of the screen to either white letters on a black background or black-on-white. The default is white-on-black. To set the colors, simply highlight the appropriate choice and click the left mouse button. A checkmark appears next to your current choice. The other option is Include Enter; this lets you select whether or not [Enter] must be pressed after typing each entry. To toggle this option, just click on it. A checkmark beside Include Enter means it's active.

The next menu item is Test. There are only two choices here, Test and Quit. Selecting Test starts the keypad drill, while Quit takes you hack to the Desktop.

Setting Limits
The menu items Low-Limit and High-Limit allow you to choose the low and high bounds, respectively, of the number of digits in the quiz entries. The minimum number of digits is four, the maximum is 10. The defaults are six and 10, meaning that the numbers generated are between six and 10 digits, inclusive. A checkmark is placed beside the current low and high boundaries, so you can always check the status of the limits.

Speed Drill
When you test yourself, the screen displays three columns of 10 entries each. A pair of arrows points to the first digit of the first number, indicating your next entry. When you are ready to begin, type that digit to start the clock (to avoid distracting you, the time does not appear on the screen). As you type each digit, it is erased and the arrows advance to the next digit. If you press the wrong key, an error mark replaces that digit and the arrows advance. This process repeats until you reach the end of the entry, then the arrows move to the next entry.

All the entries have two decimal places, but you don't need to type the decimal point. If the Include Enter option in the Options menu is disabled, you don't have to press [Enter]. Otherwise, a CR (Carriage Return) symbol will appear as a final digit in the entry, indicating that you must press [Enter]. If you want to quit in the middle of a drill, press [Esc].

Numeric Keypad Drill
Typing tutor
512K, medium or high rez

When you reach the end of the third column, the clock stops and your score appears. Your accuracy is calculated by dividing the number of digits you typed correctly by the total number of digits in the quiz. The formula for keystrokes-per-hour uses your total number of keystrokes, right or wrong. divided by your time. Your total time, number of correct keystrokes, accuracy and keystrokes-per-hour are displayed in an alert box to let you know how well you perform 10-key data entry.

Last Entry
Note that this program is for practicing 10-key data entry and is not an official evaluation program. It estimates keystrokes-per-hour, without taking into account real-world situations such as juggling papers.

Nonetheless, I am sure you will find that Numeric Keypad Drill is an excellent way to sharpen your 10-key skills.

Robert Berry has published several 8-bit Atari programs and articles in Analog and Compute! This is his first program for START.