Fitaly important for Palm users

Palm's text application, Graffiti, may have finally had its comeuppance as the de facto Palm Pilot writing tool, according to US technology designer Jean Ichbiah.

Ichbiah, known by computing academics and historians as the inventor of ADA, one of the first ever computing languages, has re-emerged some 20 years later, this time as the inventor of a Palm Pilot touch-typing tool called the Fitaly.

Currently at version 1.0, the Fitaly package comprises a software program for Palm III or V and physical screen attachment roughly the same size as a postage stamp, called the FitalyStamp.

The Fitaly package is assembled and shipped directly from Ichbiah's Boston-based company, Textware Solutions.

The layout of the FitalyStamp is based on the opposite premise of the standard "Qwerty" keyboard layout; letters on the FitalyStamp are positioned to appear as close to their most likely neighbours as possible.

The Qwerty, on the other hand, was designed to prolong the life of the keyboard by placing the letters in as inconvenient an order as possible, thus slowing down typing speeds.

According to Ichbiah, the Fitaly package has seen Palm Pilot users pipping the 80 words per minute mark -- almost double the existing speed record using Graffiti, at 49.44 wpm.

The average typing speed using the Fitaly is closer to 50 wpm, Ichbiah also claims -- still outpacing the fastest Graffiti user.

And that is typing with one finger.

Ichbiah recently staged a typing speed contest to demonstrate the performance of the Fitaly. The first and second placegetters were both from Adelaide. The winner, Faith Perez, clocked 81.74 wpm and the runner up, Ken Chan, clocked 76.94. Strangely, there were six Australians in the top 10.

The Fitaly package costs $US35 plus shipping costs. Due to its small size -- the largest component is a single floppy disk -- the product can be shipped to Australia relatively cheaply.

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