Better Skills,Better Life- Blog

"The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be"
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Typing to relax helps to produce one of the best typists in the world, as well as an excellent wordsmith – Anna Elizabeth Gant

Posted By Tony Rust

In late October 2020 we recorded the registration of a new competitor with the Username ‘AnnaE’.  This new competitor, who we later learnt was Anna Elizabeth Gant performed brilliantly in Weekly £10 Prize Fastest Typist Competition No.31.  In this competition she did very well, coming second to a regular competitor and a current BSL Typing Champion, TheFleshFailures, who’s real name, coincidentally, is also Anna (see our blog about Anna de Bruijin ).  AnnaE achieved a very creditable 92WPM with 100% accuracy in 216 attempts in that first competition.   Those three numbers to do with WPM, accuracy and attempts brought her to our attention!  It was immediately apparent that our new competitor  had speed, accuracy and determination by the barrowload and was clearly made of the stuff of a future Winner/Champion/Hall of Famer!

Our expectations were borne out soon after.  Between Weekly £10 Prize Fastest Typist Competitions Nos.32 and 35, AnnaE scored four straight wins to become our quickest ever competitor to go from a first competition entry to becoming a Champion.   Impressive!

We approached Anna for information about herself so that we could include her in our Blog section about our Winners.  Anna demonstrated in her response what all fast typist know, and that is that when you can type easily and quickly you can be very full in your response to any question that is posed.

I’ve read and re-read Anna’s amazing response to our questions about her and, frankly, I can’t write her story better than the response that she sent to us.  In her own words she tells of her initial interest in typing and the lifelong enjoyment and the freedom of being able to express herself in writing without hesitation that the skill of touch typing has given her. We always ask our featured Winners for information about their interests, hobbies and lifestyle and in Anna’s response we treated to a wonderfully well written account.

This is Anna’s story, in her own words:

 “My full name is Anna Elizabeth Gant. I became fascinated with typing when I was about four years old by watching my grandmother's fingers fly across the keyboard of an office typewriter. I used to love to stand beside her desk and try to type like she did. I loved the sound the keys made when I pressed them and enjoyed watching the letters pop up on the paper. Though some of that ambience is lost with a laptop keyboard and a screen, I still so enjoy the process of making words. My speed has increased over the years because I so often type just to relax (which is one of the reasons I enjoy the BSBL Typing contests so much!) Often, when I'm trying to wind down after a long day of work or school, I'll pull out a favorite story (usually a Sherlock Holmes story), and just start typing away. I find it quite soothing.

 And yes, I do play a musical instrument! I have been playing the banjo for about five years now. I'm from the state of Mississippi originally, but I started playing the banjo a couple of years after I moved to this area of East Tennessee near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The bluegrass music of the Appalachian Mountains captured my heart, and I am thrilled to get to be part of carrying on its time-honored traditions! The banjo is such a fun instrument! It certainly requires a great amount of both concentration and speed. I play in the Earl Scruggs three-finger picking style, and, to do that, you have to keep both hands moving in such different ways, at the right speed, at the right time, or the banjo just won't do what you're asking it to do.

 Yes, actually, I do compete in other things with the same determination you've seen in these weekly competitions. I love to compete in photography and art contests. A couple of weeks ago, I won a photography contest with a self-portrait of me dressed as the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland—a costume I made myself (including the hat!) That same photo won a photography competition in the School of English at Nottingham not long ago, and it won the "Spirit of Cosplay" award in an international competition this past summer. I also compete locally each Fall at the county fairs held in these beautiful mountains; often, my car is loaded down with entries for the arts and crafts divisions. It always proves to be such a delightful time!

 I also volunteer at a community theatre near me. I played Mrs. Darling in their production of the Peter Pan musical, and I was a singer/dancer in the ensemble for their production of Meet Me in St. Louis. In between that, I've worked behind the scenes, serving as props master and designing set dressings for 9 to 5Blithe SpiritAll My Sons, and Alabama Story. Helping to create an atmosphere of beauty at the theatre for others to enjoy is a task so dear to my heart that it doesn't matter if I am onstage or working behind the scenes. I am just thrilled to be involved.

 Yes, I am an online student, working toward my Master of Arts in English Studies (with coursework in the Old English Language) at the University of Nottingham in the UK. I'm currently writing my dissertation and am actually just weeks away from finishing my degree! In 2017, I graduated summa cum laude (4.0 GPA) with my Bachelor of Arts in English and a cognate in Professional Writing from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I have done all of my higher education studies entirely online. While distance learning is not the most common practice, I believe the world of education is opening its doors more and more to the idea of including students who, for various reasons, choose to maintain their lives away from classroom walls yet pursue the best educations possible. Online classes have been the perfect path for me. Being accepted into the distance learning master's program at Nottingham was such a tremendous thing. I will be honored to get to say soon that I am a graduate of that distinguished university.

 I work as an academic editor, editing academic journal articles, dissertations, books, résumés, fiction—anything that needs English language editing. This position also requires me to be incredibly detail-oriented and a fast typist to keep up with client deadlines. After I graduate from Nottingham, I hope to teach college-level English online, in addition to my editing position.

 When I'm not editing or doing schoolwork, I am a writer and illustrator. Several years ago, I wrote and illustrated two children's picture books Mississippi Monday and A Tennessee Christmas. Recently, I have completed two new manuscripts (one children's novel and another children's picture book), and my literary agent recently submitted the novel to a publishing house in the UK. I'm working on completing my second children's novel now.

 No, I've never travelled to the UK. However, I do have family there, and I love staying in touch with them. I've always wanted to see the Lake District, so maybe one day I'll get to. In the United States, I have traveled mostly throughout the Southern states. I can almost always be found at museums and cultural centers, sleuthing out the history of the area I am visiting. While traveling, I always try to purchase local cookbooks. I think the history of food tells so much about the way people of a region have lived.

 I actually don't have a lot of time to cook right now, but, when I am in the kitchen, I love to bake. For Thanksgiving, I combined elements of different recipes and baked a pumpkin cobbler. It was flavored with orange and sweetened with dark molasses. The buttery crust on top and the bright pumpkin flavor inside really made a great combination.

 Being an English major, I love classic British literature—especially the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, Kenneth Grahame, and Sir James Barrie. Hugh Lofting's Dr. Dolittle books were staples of my childhood, as were the Mary Poppins books by P. L. Travers. As for movies, anything with a happy ending is always a hit with me. I love everything starring Fred Astaire (one of my favorites being The Belle of New York). I also love mysteries (Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes), and the comedy of Mr. Bean, Open All Hours, Still Open All Hours, and Keeping Up Appearances are constants in my world. I love Star Trek, too, especially The Original Series and The Next Generation. My favorite music (in addition to my bluegrass) is 1940s swing and jazz—Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Glenn Miller, Nat King Cole—and I've spent almost every Saturday night, from my childhood to now, watching Lawrence Welk on PBS.

 So, that's me! “

What a lovely, well composed and well laid out story from the keyboard of a first class wordsmith, and one of the best typists in the world.  Here at Better Skills, Better Life Ltd we’re really blessed to have such talented people take part in our competitions and we thank Anna for her compellingly written response.  For our part, we sum up in one line: one of the best typists in the world and an excellent wordsmith.

About the author

Tony Rust is the Managing Director and Chief Product Designer of the Better Skills Better Life Ltd.’s range of Typing Testers, Typing Tutors and Typing and Language Tutors.  Tony’s expertise in typing skills and training goes back over 30 years to 1988 when he designed a typing tutorial for the then ground-breaking hand held computer, the Psion Organiser II.  The product was called ‘The Finger Organiser’ sold worldwide and a proficient user of the typing method could achieve over 50 words per minute using just a thumb and three fingers.  Tony then went on to design the Fingers for Windows range of typing and typing and language products which he exhibited and sold in many language variants in many countries throughout the 1990’s.  These were designed from the outset to make the process of learning to touch type easy and quick, using a ‘3 Level System’ of practice.  He has designed and overseen the development of a wide range of software products including software for the Japanese company, Sharp, and has spent many years training people in the use of productivity software.  With all of these products he says that the key to real productivity is the ability to use the computer keyboard well.  Never one to settle for the status quo, Tony recently spent ‘three and a half happy years’ in China honing his martial arts skills at a Kungfu Academy and then a year and half on a Chinese Language course at Ludong University.  During this period, he also managed to find time to qualify – with Distinction - as a TEFL Teacher (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) with the Dublin based TEFL Academy.

 More about the author on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/tonyrust/

All of the keypress data in all of the fourteen languages that the products currently support are saved in The BSBL Infinite Keystroke Database which is analysed in many different ways in the 130+ pages of the Analytics Section of their website.  It’s worth a look if you like lists and tables and trivia or if you’re a blogger or writer looking for inspiration on a wet Wednesday afternoon.

Better Skills, Better Life Ltd’s website www.bsblytyping.com was originally conceived to provide a world class method of teaching people to touch type using a combination of detailed analysis of a persons typing performance linked to a first class online typing tutor interface with algorithms that provided personalised exercises to correct identified weaknesses in the users typing.

The website expanded to include an authoritative Analytics Section based on the contents of The BSBL Infinite Keystroke Database which analyses every keystroke made by users of the Typing and LanguageTutors and  Typing Testers products.   This section is full of the fascinating results of the this analysis with over 130 pages of tables and lists of which show the slicing and dicing of the data by key, keyboard row, finger, hand, time between two keystrokes and just about any possible analysis of keystroke data you can imagine.  Perhaps one day someone clever will figure out how to build a cleverer keyboard; one that doesn’t let you make an incorrect keystroke.  Now, that would be something really special!

You might  like to enter our free Cash Prize Fastest Typist Competitions. It's a bit of fun and the analysis of your typing performance that you receive can provide you with an insight into weaknesses in your typing and ways to fix them. And you might win the cash prize.  www.bsbltyping.com

Also visit The BSBL Infinite Keystroke Database contains every keystroke made by users in all of our competitions and products is analysed in detail and displayed in the Analytics Section of our website  https://www.bsbltyping.com/analytic   This is useful information for academic researchers or the simply curious who are, like myself, fascinated by lists!

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