Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Steno Progress Graph

Now, this is a pretty sight, posted on r/Plover: graph showing upward progress of WPM over time for six Plover users
MagneticDuck writes:
How fast do self-learners learn to use Plover? TypeRacer might be a good source of data to answer this question.

Via automatic scanning of TypeRacer activity, I found 23 Plover users who had recently used the site. Of the 23, many had just a few races completed, didn't evidence progress or regular usage, or had not logged races before they were proficient. Only six fit the profile of users who had used the site frequently over a period of 25 weeks, starting at a point when they were still getting average speeds of less than 60 WPM.

The graph above shows the median speeds of these six users over their first 25 weeks on TypeRacer in week-by-week windows. Weeks during which a user completed less than 10 races are not graphed.

Of these six users, only four have been on TypeRacer long enough to represent data points for long-term improvement. The following graph shows the median speeds of these four over 2-week windows for longer time periods, up to 125 weeks (a little over 2 years). Highlighted areas designate interquartile intervals.
graph of users up to 125 weeks
While limited, I hope this data helps to paint a better picture of how quickly new learners can expect to get "up to speed." I think the conclusions are favorable; maybe someone will be emboldened to give Plover a try. If you want to conduct your own analysis, you may download the data I collected in the form of an SQLite database from https://mat.uc.pt/~mat1617/steno.db .

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Meanwhile, in Wearable Land

Not directly steno-related, but I was tipped off by @brewsternorth that BillieRubenMake has been prototyping cloth-mounted membrane keyboards. I know membrane keyboards are anathema to the mechanical crowd that intersects most closely with Plover hardware people, but it seems to me like this sort of design has a lot of promise. I'd certainly like to see where it goes!

cloth-mounted membrane keyboard

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Mini Georgi Preview!

Mini-Georgi with partial keycap coverage

Germ is innovating faster than I can keep up! Kailh, the keyswitch manufacturer, is prototyping some new tiny narrow low profile switches, and Germ got to try a batch. They're not yet commercially available, and the date on when they'll come to market (if at all) is unknown, but look at this sleek little customer! Members of the Plover Discord are already clamoring for an even tighter layout with an even smaller footprint than the original Georgi, which on the one hand might be a case of diminishing returns, but which on the other hand might be a great solution for wearable steno, especially for someone with small hands like mine. I'm definitely intrigued and will follow this development as it unfolds! Mainly it's just so cool to see steno hardware flourishing in so many different directions at once, so different from when this project started over a decade ago and the Sidewinder X4 was the only sub-$1,000 steno game in town.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Steno Hardware Picture Post

I really do plan to get that Georgi review post out to y'all, but I've been too busy spending 9 hours a day using my Georgi to caption an intensive medical review course. Spoiler: It's doing a damn good job of it! I put in an order for a new Infinity Ergonomic after my old one kicked the bucket, but there's a 10-week wait time until it's shipped, so this little thing (and my backup machine, the new featherlight TinyMod that Charley sent me) has seriously saved my bacon. I've used it to caption conferences, huge public outdoor events, an assortment of challenging classes and webinars, and it's been up to the task every time. I've even gotten the hang of the thumb-driven number bar, which is a wonder. More details about specific pros and cons in the actual review, but I just wanted to give y'all an update.

Now that that's out of the way, a picture post! Just some very pretty steno hardware posted recently in the Plover Discord that I thought people might enjoy looking at.

laptop with illuminated keys in a steno pattern

idiahaus's Alienware laptop from 2015, with steno keys stuck onto the illuminated keys of its keyboard. My own Alienware laptop got stolen in Newark last month (I'm in the market for a new laptop with NKRO if anyone's got recommendations), so this picture is bittersweet to me. Awfully pretty, though.

Georgi mounted on a tripod with a big trackball in the middle

mknr's Georgi + trackball tripod mounting system. I'm so impressed with this! Functional, elegant, and ergonomic. Definitely inspiring me to try to up my current Georgi tripod game.

Georgi in molded plastic ergonomic case

Speaking of the Georgi, here's a prototype by Germ himself, the Georgi's inventor, with a contoured ergonomic case designed by pseudoku. It's wacky-looking, but I confess I'm intrigued. Definitely want to see more of this sort of thing.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

New Dotterel Release!

Nimble has released Dotterel v0.2.0-dev, a new Android steno keyboard app that's compatible both with NKRO devices (using a USB-OTG adapter) and with your phone or tablet's on-screen keyboard.
  • Add support for custom systems defined in JSON. This allows for customising keys, prefix and suffix strokes, orthography rules and command aliases among other things.
  • Add new orthography model based on finding longest matching end of word followed by longest start of suffix (for use in addition to regex orthography model).
  • Add improved English orthography rules.
  • Add commands for performing Android IME actions.
  • {IME:EDITOR_ACTION} Perform editor action, usually submit or search.
  • {IME:SWITCH_PREVIOUS} Switch to previous IME.
  • {IME:SWITCH_NEXT} Switch to next IME.
  • {IME:SWITCH:ime} Switch directly to IME ime.
  • {IME:SHOW_PICKER} Show IME picker dialog.
  • Add dialog to go to keyboard settings screen when Dotterel is currently disabled.
  • Improve dictionary load performance.
  • Change behaviour of {>} to match Plover's (only change first character to lowercase). This was causing issues with uppercase fingerspelling
  • translations following lowercase fingerspelling translations.
  • Fix Dotterel ignoring back button instead of closing the soft keyboard.
  • Fix version string in about page showing as undefined on some devices.

Download the new Dotterel apk here! Thanks, Nimble!

Friday, August 9, 2019

Di's Misstroke Dictionary

A lot of steno beginners find themselves perplexed and somewhat intimidated by the many misttrokes included in the Plover default dictionary. While I'd argue that misstrokes are at worst harmless and at best quite useful, for a learner who's using the dictionary as a tool to grasp the finer points of stenographic theory, they can be a bit confusing. If that's you, and you feel like misstrokes have been holding you back, check out this misstroke-free dictionary (along with several other interesting dictionaries) by the ever wonderful Di. She says:

The aim is to remove all the misstrokes from dict.json to give new stenographers greater confidence in learning new briefs. The first step is to remove all the misstrokes for the shortest available brief for every word. If there’s a misstroke in a longer word, it is less likely to be suggested by Typey Type or dictionary look up tools.

It follows Plover's default main.json dictionary with misstrokes removed from the top 10,000 words. You can use this dictionary instead of Plover’s.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Kenneth Whups Typeracer on Video

I've been skeptical of Kenneth's ROPE system in the past as a too arbitrary and memory-intensive briefing method that might be hard for other people to use, but it's clearly working for him! Check out this  impressive video of him plowing through 15 short Typeracer texts at 200+ WPM!