Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Announcing Plover's New Lead Developer!

Many of you may know Ted Morin for his metakey dictionary, his number inversion dictionary, his Plover speed progress diary, his always helpful and patient advice to new users in the Plover Google Group, and of course his fantastic new redesign for the Plover Blog.

You might have noticed that Plover's development has been laying fallow for a while, since Hesky's been too busy at his day job to code new features or review pull requests. He's decided to ease back into the role of Developer Emeritus, and we owe him an impossibly huge debt of thanks for all he's done for Plover over the last many years. But just a few days ago, Ted decided to step up to the challenge. He's currently getting his degree in software engineering at the University of Ottawa, but as he tweeted yesterday:

It's funny when your full-time job as well as your hobby is developing software. Can't wait 'til 5 to finish coding and start coding.

Since taking on the project, he's been plowing through Plover's issues and knocking 'em down with breathtaking precision. We're gearing up for a big new release, and Ted's got all the feature coding, dictionary diffing, and bugthwacking duties well in hand. Ted's also the first lead Plover developer who's also a user. Neither Hesky nor Josh (as generous and amazing and unspeakably brilliant as they both are) have managed to learn any steno yet, but Ted's been using Plover to write code for quite a while now, and has promised a video of the process that I'm absolutely freaking dying to see.

A hundred thousand thanks to Ted! His diligence, perseverance, skill, and enthusiasm are unmatched, and I can't wait to see what kind of shape Plover will take under his leadership.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Open Steno on a Thoughtbot Podcast!

I had the great good fortune to be interviewed about steno on the Thoughtbot podcast Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots!

Transcript of the interview is here.

Many thanks to Drew Neil (of the fantastic Vim London Plover Demo back in January) for giving Thoughtbot my name after conducting his own very cool interview! I had a blast.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Holding Pattern

A little low-key Plover news while we're waiting for the next big bombshell.

Count down to Stenosaurus is getting closer. Josh got some parts yesterday, will be getting more tomorrow, and the first fully functional Stenosaurus will hopefully be built shortly thereafter! I cannot WAIT to get my hands on it.

Meanwhile, check out this sweet tripod-mounted Stenoboard setup by Achim! It uses a photo tripod rather than a steno tripod, which is cheaper and much more easily available.

Also in the Aviary, Charlie has been learning steno for just over a week, and has already written two blog posts in it!. He also recommends a cross-platform typing tutor called Amphetype. I tried Key Hero, a similar application linked from Amphetype's website, but was frustrated that it marked Plover's automatic buffer rewriting as errors, even when the final product was 100% accurate. Dunno if that's true of Amphetype as well.

Finally, it's a terrible pity that the Sidewinder X4 is no longer manufactured. It doubled the entry price for steno from $45 to $100, which is a real shame. But their online n-key rollover testing app is still functional, and it's useful if you want to test whether a mechanical keyboard that purports to have true n-key rollover can actually deliver the goods. We've posted this before, but not for a while, so I thought it should get a bump. Thanks to Ethan for reminding me about it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tuesday Miscellany

First, the most exciting thing, from Stenosaurus inventor Josh Lifton, about four days ago:

I just last night sent the printed circuit board designs for fabrication. I will have them in-hand around Labor Day. I will build the first assembled board within a day or two of receiving them and will then start testing. Kurt and I met earlier this week and nailed down a plan for what I hope is the final case design. It's slightly different than what you've seen, but I think it's actually better and nicer looking.

I'm hoping this means a Crowd Supply Campaign Launch is imminent!

Two other cool items collected from the Plover Google Group:

A discussion of how best to carry around a Stenoboard, complete with pictures of people's homemade cases. Feel free to submit your own!

And a slick little typing game that involves coming up with as many words as you can that begin with three specified letters. Especially steno friendly, since you can just keep your left hand steady and only shift around your right hand and thumbs while you're trying to think of all the words.

From Twitter, an open source database of word frequencies. I could see this being very useful when building steno exercises and drills.

Finally, I'm thinking of doing National Novel Writing Month again this November (which, if I succeed, will be my third time overall, and my second time using steno.) Anyone wanna join me? If so, maybe we could make a Steno Novelists Cabal on the NaNoWriMo forums. I know it's still a few months away, but let me know if you're interested!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Help Crowdfund Captioning and Interpreting for Polyglot Conference NYC!

Crossposting from the StenoKnight CART Blog, because I know there are a lot of linguists and polyglots in the Plover community:

Polyglot Conference NYC 2015 is looking for funding so that they can pay for captioning of two simultaneous tracks plus full interpreting teams for deaf attendees. Ellen Jovin, the organizer of the conference, writes:
Polyglot Conference NYC 2015 will bring hundreds of polyglots and language enthusiasts from around the world to New York this October for two days of wide-ranging language talks. Speakers include the inventor of the language Dothraki for the HBO hit Game of Thrones, multiple polyglots who speak 6+ languages, New York’s own celebrity teen polyglot Tim Doner, linguist-writer John McWhorter, representatives of major language-learning publishers, and many others. We will have exhibitors, book-signings, goodie bags for participants, and the sharing of absolute mountains of inspiring and useful information.

As part of our event, we are crowdfunding to pay for interpreter and live captioning services. The plan is to record the conference talks, then convert the live captioning later so that it can be used on videos available online to the deaf and hard of hearing, as well as polyglots and language enthusiasts around the world who do not speak English natively and might appreciate having a written transcript to supplement the audio/video. People who will benefit include many enthusiasts who wish to attend the New York conference but can’t afford it, or who have disabilities making travel impossible or difficult, or who are unable to obtain visas. If you know anyone who would be willing to contribute, we would be most grateful, as we want to spread information globally about the joys and value of language-learning to as many people as we can. Richard Simcott, who appears in the video, is a co-organizer and speaks 16+ languages. He is unbelievably gifted and a real leader in the polyglot community.
Please spread the word as far and wide as you can, and know that if you chip in a few dollars, you'll be able to see all the captioned conference videos online afterwards! I'd really love to be able to be one of the captioners at this conference. It looks absolutely amazing.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

New Look for the Aviary!

In keeping with Ted's splendid redesign for this blog, I've updated the PHPBB version of The Aviary (which will hopefully help with the recent spam problem), and since the previous theme wasn't compatible with the new version, I've updated the theme as well. We've lost the cute bird motif, but overall I think it looks a lot cleaner, less dated and more usable. What do you think?

Check out the new rethemed Aviary here.

Oh, and one other bit of news -- the long-delayed Hover Plover game suite project seems to be getting off the ground at last, and we hope to be launching a crowdfunding campaign for it in the near future. We've got a game development studio on board, and they've got several ideas on what sorts of arcade-style drilling games would be best for learning steno, but if you've got any ideas of your own, please feel free to tell us in the comments! Nothing is set in stone yet, so now is definitely the time to give us input.