Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Community Input on Spending OSP Funds

Last night the Open Steno Project received an extremely generous donation of $500 from a longtime community member who wishes to remain anonymous. This brings our total funds (Donations + Store Sales to over $2,500. Not too shabby! We've got some of that earmarked for future projects -- domain names, a software cert, etc -- but there will probably be some left over. Community feedback on how best to spend the funds would be helpful. What do you think? A bulk buy of ultralight key switches or other hardware to sell in the store? Seed money for another crowdfunded steno game campaign? Or should we sit on it for a while longer until the right opportunity comes along? All ideas welcome.

A thousand thanks again to our magnanimous benefactor!! This community is amazing.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Volksboard

Check out this incredible DIY steno machine with step-by-step instructions on how to build it, by the amazing Carl. It's called the Volksboard, and I love it. Scrabble tiles for steno keys! Ingenious! It's also wireless and uses WiFi with a Raspberry Pi Zero built into the board to connect to Plover.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Toss Ted Some Cash For More Red Hot Steno Theory

Ted, our amazing lead dev, has been developing Plover for FREE over the last several years -- not to mention the hundreds and hundreds of hours of unpaid web design, tech support, hardware hacking, community leadership, and all-around steno ambassadorship that he's contributed to the cause. He's got a day job and a personal life, so he recently decided that his eagerly awaited new steno theory book would need to be prioritized on a gratuity system. Toss him some cash to get more pages! I just threw some in. Lord knows he deserves it!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Responses to the 2017 OSP Community Survey!

It took me a while to get to these, but I finally made a digest of selected responses from the 2017 Open Steno Project Community Survey. Here are the complete responses, if you're interested in all the details. I figured I'd just touch on a few highlights.

First off, we got a total of 91 responses, quite a bit higher than last year's 72!

We can also see signs of the Plover community maturing, with almost 40% of respondents in the 60 to 260 WPM range, compared to last year's 30%.

Most respondents are still working on exceeding their regular typing speed, which isn't too surprising, considering that many of our new recruits this year came from ultrafast speed typing circles.

But of those who have exceeded their regular typing speed, 75% did it in under a year.

Most of our users are not interested in formal stenography programs.

Which isn't too surprising, since most of them want to use steno to write prose or code.

We've got a strong cross-platform community, with 55 out of 88 respondents using Plover on operating systems other than Windows. No other steno software runs natively on non-Windows operating systems, so we've pretty much got that end of the market sewn up, haha!

Finally, a small selection of comments from respondents:

"Documentation is getting better all the time! Good work! Discord has been the best thing to happen to Plover lately."

"I'm not fast yet but am usually able to guess new words, and steno intrudes into my mind sometimes and there I am mentally stenoing stuff. Weird but fun."

"Finding it too hard as a self teach option."

"Plover allows me to use my writer with my Mac without having to use Windows! What's not to love?!?"

"Would love to see absolute beginner training exercises in Steno Arcade."

"Learn Plover is very good, but I'd like to see the theory spelled out more explicitly; there's a lot that's not covered, and you have to learn inductively, more or less."

"Plover got my career off the ground. Thanks."

I definitely agree that we need more entry-level training and drilling tools. Ted's new textbook should help, as will Stenomancer. But clearly learning steno theory and building speed is possible with the currently available tools, which thrills me to bits. Let's keep it up! I hope next year's survey response count will be even bigger!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Gherkin!

I got a Gherkin! Isn't it adorable? The delightful Kyzak on the Plover Discord built it for me, and I love it. Sadly, the key mapping was messed up, so I'll have to send it back before I can use it, but the size and shape are extremely endearing, and the touch seems quite nice as well. If you want one but don't have the skills to build and solder it yourself, you might still be able to nab one if you head over to the Discord. Especially great if you have small hands and value portability.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thursday, July 20, 2017

I Now Own an NKRO Laptop!

My old Lenovo Helix is getting alarmingly long in the tooth, so I bought an Alienware 13 for about $1,000 on Amazon two days ago. It arrived last night, and this morning I tried it with Plover for the first time. Sure enough, its keyboard has proven to be fully NKRO! Woohoo! Obviously it requires quite a bit more force than my Infinity or even my StenoMod (which is about the size and weight of the Alienware's ridiculously massive power brick!) but the keys are nicely flat, and I find that I don't actually notice the staggering all that much. I used it to converse a bit with friends on the Plover Discord during my break and found it surprisingly comfortable! It'll be a real asset when transcribing on the subway, at the very least, and while it'll never replace a professional machine, it'll let me use Plover more often for casual computer use, which is excellent. All in all, I'm quite pleased that truly NKRO laptops are actually a thing now, even if they tend to be a little on the pricey side. These are all just first impressions, but so far I must say I recommend it!