Typing Instructor Deluxe v12

Reviewed by: Craig Bull, send e-mail
Published by: Individual Software, go to the web site
Requires: Pentium® 133 PC or higher, Microsoft Windows XP, ME, 2000 or 98, 32MB RAM, 15MB free had disk space when run from CD, 435MB hard disk space for full installation, 4x CD-ROM Drive, 800 x 600 16-bit or higher display, 16-bit sound card, speakers or headphones,

MSRP: $29.95

Typing Instructor Deluxe (TID) is the latest release in a series of typing programs from Individual Software. With features such as multimedia presentations, a Magazine Rack, and various games, users can practice and improve their typing skills. Whether your typing skills are rusty or nonexistent, this program is definitely worth looking into.

TID utilizes a travel theme to guide you through your typing lessons, starting at the Main Terminal where you can select from activities, lessons and tests, define your word per minute (WPM) goal on your passport and view your progress. As you progress through various tests, your passport is stamped for one of the twelve countries you will travel through.

The How To Type section provides a brief multimedia introduction to typing and describes the best environment for typing. This includes monitor placement, chair height, posture and hand placement. It also presents several exercises that you can perform during your day to relieve stress and avoid muscle fatigue.

You can start at any point you wish. Lessons flow very much the way I remember them from my high school typing class. At the beginning of each lesson, you are shown which fingers are used for the keys being introduced. A visual representation of a keyboard is displayed, showing proper hand placement. You can select a standard keyboard or an ergonomic one such as the Microsoft Natural keyboard. You can select from a wide variety of musical styles to listen to while you are practicing, or you can select your own music. Upon completion of a lesson, you are presented with a Next-Step. You can take a break at any time, skip ahead or repeat a lesson. After completing several lessons, there are tests and games, apparently based on the WPM goal you define at the beginning. The games, or Virtual Adventures, mostly involve typing faster than your computer opponent. For example, in Cliffhanger, your goal is to scale the cliff faster than the computer opponent. If you miss a keystroke, your character slips (though try as I might, he never fell off the cliff).

The tests monitor your progress and present a specific amount of text to complete, reinforcing the keys you've learned to that point. Once a test is completed, you are presented with your calculated WPM, peak WPM, and accuracy percentage.

If you just want to practice, a Magazine Rack is available with over 300 books, short stories and articles. These articles are geared to all ages and interests. In addition, new lessons, tests, exercises, articles and practice material are available for download from Individual Software. These can be downloaded through the program.

I only have two complaints. When you type capital letters (or other shifted characters) with your left hand, you are supposed to use the right shift key and vice versa. That's an area in which I have difficulty. Typing Instructor Deluxe does not catch those mistakes. More significantly, I had difficulty installing the program on my Windows98SE system. After some troubleshooting, I determined that the Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC) supplied with Typing Instructor Deluxe did not install correctly. I fixed the problem by downloading MDAC from Microsoft and installing it separately. My concern is that it took several e-mails to Individual Software's tech support before they finally acknowledged that this was a known issue. Unfortunately, they are not certain what's causing the problem. They indicated to me that in some cases, replacing the CD seems to solve it, while in other cases, changing the Operating System user name resolves the issue.

If you are interested in learning to type, or just want to increase typing speed and accuracy, Typing Instructor Deluxe will definitely help. The lessons progress logically and the tests help reinforce the concepts taught. The travel theme and music selections help make the software more enjoyable overall. I highly recommend this program.

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