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Author Topic: Learning CW on PC - I don't do windows.  (Read 1817 times)
K7KBN
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Posts: 2782




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« Reply #30 on: June 10, 2008, 01:24:20 PM »

How did anyone ever manage to learn code (not CW) back in the '60s and earlier?  We didn't know about "Koch" or "Farnsworth"; we just learned the code and got our ham licenses.

Why is it so difficult to do that today?  

73
Pat K7KBN
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
LB3KB
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« Reply #31 on: June 10, 2008, 01:57:34 PM »

K7KBN,
>How did anyone ever manage to learn code (not CW)
>back in the '60s and earlier?

Slowly.  Very slowly.


>We didn't know about "Koch" or "Farnsworth"; we
>just learned the code and got our ham licenses.

The fact that you don't know who invented the methods you used to learn it doesn't mean that those methods didn't have names.


>Why is it so difficult to do that today?

It isn't.  On the contrary, it's much, much easier to learn now.  What may make it SEEM more difficult is our modern society's free and simple mass distribution of half way thought through and (mostly) useless opinions.


73
LB3KB Sigurd
http://justlearnmorsecode.com
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LB3KB
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« Reply #32 on: June 10, 2008, 02:32:54 PM »

KB1OOO,

Once again you're missing the big picture.

I can assure you that I know enough mathematics, but more importantly I know how to *apply* this knowledge.

The "Paris" standard is simply a convention for measuring speed.  This convention is based on the English language, and whenever you use a different language - e.g. other languages, random "word" generation or even the typical ham exchange - it's not going to be accurate.  That means that the number of "words" per minute will not "match" in those cases, and so what ?  The standard only tells you something about the length of the unit used when generating a dit or a dah or a space.

If you generate code at 20 WPM according to this standard, and then count 16 or 5 or 50 "words" per minute in what is actually sent - it's still 20 WPM according to the standard.

Most people don't have problems with the characters that are used the most.  I have never heard of anybody who was unable to copy an E.  The typical trouble spots are the characters that are used the least.  As Morse code was designed to make the most used characters shorter, this means that most of us need more practice on the ones with the longest durations.  This is where random code is an unbeatable aid.


You set said software to generate random code for ten minutes and then count up the number of words afterwards - without having interacted with the program.  This gives you a true random distribution of characters, but you fail to realize that if you had actually participated the program would have noticed your trouble spots and given you more of what you missed the most.  So if you were right that the shorter characters are a problem, you would have seen many more of them and thus the number of "words" would have increased.


Those of us who struggled with the outdated methods when we first learned code and came back to the hobby and discovered the ease of Koch's method while relearning it know what we're talking about.  Koch is unsurpassed for somebody learning the code, as well as for anybody returning to it after several years of inactivity.

Koch is also to some extent useful for increasing speed, but there are other options out there that are efficient too.  The contest trainers are very good for increasing speed and dealing with interference - for those who are capable at copying at a useful speed.  To recommend a contest trainer for someone who can barely cope at 5 WPM is simply ridiculous.


LB3KB Sigurd
http://justlearnmorsecode.com
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KB1OOO
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« Reply #33 on: June 10, 2008, 04:55:38 PM »

Sigurd,

When listening to letters occurring at the freq of plain english text, more letters go by per unit time which makes back copy harder.  It may not be the e that's difficult to copy but the previous letter(s) are more difficult to copy when text is peppered with many e, i, a, t etc letters.  Your adaptive algorithm doesn't help here.  Also, many of the difficult letters *are* the fastest ones.  For example i, s, h.  I agree that your adaptive algorithm partially compensates for this and I have said so in the past (I read your messages and have used your program).  Regardless, you're still practicing K and M for many more months than the other letters.

I agree that if you are fairly proficient at plain text, then the infrequent letters may be your trouble spots and a Koch trainer is good for drilling those letters.   However,  *learning* from random letters may make you less proficient at copying plain text for the reasons I mentioned above.  If everything you say is true about your adaptive algorithm and random code groups being harder than plain text, then shouldn't it be true that if I've followed your Koch trainer and I'm at x% for random code groups, then I should be > x % for plain text?  Do you find that this is true?  
Even if it were true, there may still be benefit to learn freq. letters first so that you can practice on real words ASAP.   This might help to learn to recognize word segments, and go beyond individual letters early on.

I'm done with this discussion now as I'm sure others were tired of it long ago.

Marc
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LB3KB
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« Reply #34 on: June 10, 2008, 05:09:43 PM »

If you think that real words is the way to go, why don't you simply use that option in the software ?

The point is that for the rest of us, we need to learn at least most of the characters before we can benefit from practicing words.

It is evident that you have found yourself in trouble when trying to make the transition from knowing your random characters to recognising real words, or trying to recognise words and sentences without taking notes.  Do you really not understand that that's different from the initial process of learning the characters ?
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K7PEH
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« Reply #35 on: June 11, 2008, 08:53:44 AM »

>>>>
How did anyone ever manage to learn code (not CW) back in the '60s and earlier? We didn't know about "Koch" or "Farnsworth"; we just learned the code and got our ham licenses.

Why is it so difficult to do that today?
<<<<

It may not be more difficult today but there may be the notion of "instant gratification" hampering the process.

Today, especially of those who are younger, people seem to expect results quicker.  This is such a dominant thing that this younger generation is being called the generation of instant gratification.  This possibly results from instant everything in today's culture of high-tech reporting and real-time information gathering via the internet.  It was not too long ago that a person had to spend a considerable amount of time at the library or with other resources to research a question and obtain an answer.  Now, you just google a few words and you have your answer (and, maybe it is correct) in a few seconds.

And, since we are laden with so many "tools" at our disposal to help us obtain this "instant gratification" that we expect these tools to work miracles.  Instead of hours of patient study listening to CW we hope to use a tool, whether Koch or whatever, to speed that process and eliminate the time factor.

Some things do take time and learning CW is one of those things.  Some can do it faster then others but all can learn given that time is put into the process.  As for me, once you get a reasonable amount of speed, maybe even 5 to 7 wpm, the best thing is to listen to on-air CW and build your speed that way.

My two-bits.
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AK7V
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« Reply #36 on: June 11, 2008, 04:53:24 PM »

Too bad you can't Google-search your way to CW proficiency. Smiley
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K7KBN
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Posts: 2782




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« Reply #37 on: June 11, 2008, 05:04:24 PM »

Three weeks from zero to 18 WPM, including all numbers and punctuation.  Maybe one or two hours, three sessions a week.

"Slowly.  Very slowly." ??
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
K5END
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« Reply #38 on: June 12, 2008, 08:52:51 AM »

Thanks to all for their "kind" words and "lively" discussions.

The most helpful post was the analogy to musical performance. I can relate, after having studied the hyper-disciplined classical guitar method for years (it ain't "blues licks," I can tell you that.) Not many pursuits require the same amount of tenacity and discipline as that for such an effort.
 

re: quote, "if you had followed some of the other advice..."

The diversity (or ADversity) of statements and opinions expressed here in this very topic make a rather obvious case for one not jumping on the first piece advice posted in this Wild-West of an internet.

The orginal post asked for EXPERIENCE with software, but even predicted that a lot of OPINIONS would surface, which would also be welcomed by this poster.  

Thanks again, and 73's to all.
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LB3KB
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« Reply #39 on: June 12, 2008, 12:33:04 PM »

I'm going to limit myself and not answer everything my instincts want me to.  In fact I'm thinking about bailing out of here completely, as I based on the feedback I get in this forum am not getting through to anybody - on the contrary, the opinions of others with very limited experience seem to attract more support.  I'm not saying that's a bad thing, or that there is anything wrong with that, I just feel like I'm wasting my time here.


Either way, I have a few final comments on parts of what's been said in this thread and possibly in other threads.

I have a lot of experience with learning CW, teaching CW and helping others learn CW.  That does not mean that I don't have opinions, just that my opinions are based on my experience.

I have created software that allows people to learn CW using pretty much any method they want.  The software can be set up to work with just about any learning method you can think of, including the outdated methods lots and lots of us struggled with a decade or longer ago.

It is, based on my personal experience and the feedback I have gotten from thousands of users, my opinion that the Koch method is unsurpassed for learning Morse code.  However, for the Koch method to be effective it's important that the student starts at a useful speed and for whatever reason a quite a few people don't understand this.


A lot of people expect immediate results these days.  I'm not sure that only applies to teenagers, although it certainly applies to a lot of teenagers.  The teenagers, however, are not stupid.  They expect to find the tools they need, and they do.  Then most of them quickly find the way to utilize these tools to get their outcome.  Other people, typically older, expects instant results without paying any attention to how they use the tools.  Or they get their result, but only look for things to complain about, i.e. "I can do random copy at 20 WPM after just a few months but why am I not able to do head copy ?"


A good analogy is that of model airplanes.  If you have ever been interested in this, you may have found out that it requires an instructor, and after many hours you need to practice practice and practice.  After all that, you will still find that you're only able to do left turns at an altitude where you can barely see the plane, and you'll crap your pants whenever you have to land.

I learned flying model airplanes myself.  I started out without an instructor, and for every 1-5 minutes of flight I had to spend 5-10 hours gluing the darn thing back together.

After a while and several planes, I realized that I HAD to find help.  I found somebody that helped me, he'd take the plane off the ground, let me fly and then land it for me.  After a few hours I was able to take off and land without assistance.

I didn't want to settle for just taking off, doing a few left turns and then land, so I got brave.  I tried out all sorts of stunts, and while this gave me experience and skills, it cost me a lot of planes and a lot of time repairing those planes that could be repaired.

-

Today, there are model airplane simulators available in the form of computer programs.  They cost less than one model airplane, and run well on just about any computer.

What we see now is that (mostly) young people show up at the airfield with a brand new plane and no prior experience.  They usually need a bit of initial assistance adjusting the engine and setting up the radio, but a lot of them take off and land themselves during the second flight.  They quickly get into 3D aerobatics like there's nothing to it, it's second nature to them before they even try it for real.  And it doesn't cost them anything, because they have been practicing in a safe environment where there is no stress and no consequences of making a mistake.  The only hitch is that a few of them have trouble realizing that they can't fly through themselves...  ;o)

Every now and then we'll hear the comments from one of the good-old-boys that does nothing but left turns at a safe altitude with the plane he's had for the whole twenty-year period since he learned how to fly, about how these youngsters lack respect and don't have the dicipline to learn it properly.  So what ?



Whatever


I have experience and opinions based on those experiences.  If you experts don't want to hear about it, that's fine with me.


73
LB3KB Sigurd
http://justlearnmorsecode.com
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K5END
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Posts: 1309




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« Reply #40 on: June 12, 2008, 12:58:28 PM »

quote,
"bailing out of here completely, as I based on the feedback I get in this forum am not getting through to anybody ...I just feel like I'm wasting my time here...A lot of people expect immediate results these days."

Not sure why you interpret it that way.

You "got through" to me. But because I considered it carefully from all viewpoints before forming my opinion, it means all the more that your method is worthwhile.

I've heard only good things about your method and your comments seem very valid.

Even if you are 100 percent correct, and it sounds like you've got a great system, you can't expect people to jump on the bandwagon without careful evaluation.

The irony of this discussion is that the people who weigh advice and opinions patiently and carefully are NOT the same people who expect instant gratification.

In other words, in some cases your argument is with the people inclined to agree with you.

Thanks for all your input and I am "sold" that your method is very good.
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KG4TKC
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Posts: 72




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« Reply #41 on: July 05, 2008, 04:00:57 PM »

     I use some of the programs mentioned here. I sometimes use different ones to drill as it seems to help to move around to different things,keeping the learning/drilling new. I try to practice/listen/drill everyday. I also get on air and have some qso's. I feel I can 'solid copy' at between 12 to 15 wpm on the w1aw online files and on air. I have found it helpful to move to the next faster W1AW file as soon as I start getting fair copy at one speed,then drop back down and copy. At night just before bed I will sometimes log on ARRL and start listening to the W1AW files at 20 wpm,then 18,then 15 etc. Sometimes I will start at 5 wpm,and work up till I get tired of listening,or get to 20wpm. I tried to do different things to change the drills around to keep them new and different. Some of what I do may not agree with everyone.I have worked at cw a long time. I passed the 5wpm element 1 before they dropped it,and began practicing code again not long after the test.

     I use Debian linux and the Debian software group has a cw learning tool called The Fully Automatic Morse Code Teaching Machine. I have found it makes a really nice keyboard drill program. If you use the Synaptic Package Manager it should be easy to add to your PC. It is open source and free,which makes it fit right into the Debian philosophy. There is a website and download section for it but I don't have it handy right now,sorry.

     Good luck and keep at it and try to keep the drills and listening fun. I plan to keep up the drills for a long time to come. I do the drills like a golfer goes to the driving range,its all fun,,:) GL es 73 KG4TKC
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