Sunday, June 5, 2016

Cool Little Plover Trick

A cool Plover trick invented by my longtime friend and recent Plover learner Martin:
Someone else may find this useful; I created a new version of my dictionary update stroke. What this does is copy the word immediately before the cursor to the clipboard, then pop up the Add Translation window, paste the copied word into the "Translation" field, then puts focus back in the "Strokes" field:

{#Control_L(Shift_L(Left) Control_L(c) Control_L(Right)}{PLOVER:ADD_TRANSLATION}{#Tab Control_L(v) Shift_L(Tab)}

In other words, hit control-shift-left to highlight the word immediately preceding, then hit control-C to copy to clipboard, then control-right to return to the starting position. Open the "Add Translation" window. Hit tab once to get to the "Translation" field, control-V to paste the word, and then shift-tab to return to the "Strokes" field.

For example, you're typing the following text: "First you must arrange the broongle in alphabetical order." Since you expect "broongle" to be a common term you'll need a lot, you decide you want to brief it. After fingerspelling "broongle", you can use this new dictionary update stroke. The Add Translation window will appear with "broongle" already in the "Translation" box. Now you just need to stroke PWRAOPBG/*L and hit R-R; the definition is saved. No need to fingerspell "broongle" more than once.

Three caveats:

  • Obviously this stroke will overwrite whatever else you had in your clipboard.

  • This stroke is dependent on the exact layout of the "Add Translation" form, and thus it may well stop working properly in future Plover versions.

  • This stroke doesn't work when you're dealing with multiple words separated by a space or a hyphen - if you try it with "foongle-broongle", only "broongle" will wind up in the translation box. In that case, you'll need to either fingerspell it again or select the text and copy it yourself. (Unfortunately, there is no control-shift-left or control-shift-right defined in the standard Plover dictionary, and while it is in the modifiers.json dictionary, it requires three strokes for each word you want to move backwards.)
  • Nice, dude. Very nice. Definitely gonna try that one out.

    Sunday, May 29, 2016

    Lead Dev Ted in NYC!

    Yesterday our amazing lead dev Ted Morin came down from Ottawa to visit NYC, and we had a grand time wandering the city, drinking coffee, and talking steno. In the video above, he demonstrates that my Infinity Ergonomic's actuation force is so low that it's possible to depress a key by blowing on it, which is a pretty neat party trick. I got to try his Treal, which has a nice soft touch, though I have to say the Palantype-style slanted keyboard configuration felt more wrist-pinching than ergonomic to me. When it comes to spring-mounted machines, I definitely prefer the Planck.

    By way of expressing my immense gratitude for all that he's done for the Open Steno Project, I bought Ted a little plush Blastoise at the Nintendo Store:

    Then we met up with Stan for lunch, though sadly I failed to get any pictures of the three of us. It was great, though.

    In the six years since Plover got started, I've met so many brilliant people through open steno. Ted's just the latest in a long line of free software badasses who have donated time, money, expertise, hard work, and good will to make our community what it is. I'm so damn grateful for it.

    Monday, May 16, 2016

    Steno Arcade Campaign Is Over, 112% Funded!

    Just a quick note to thank everyone again for funding the Steno Arcade campaign! We raised a total of $8,440, well above our baseline goal to finish development of Steno Hero, though sadly we didn't reach any of our stretch goals. However, we'll definitely be conducting additional campaigns in the future to fund the other three games in the Steno Arcade series, so please stay tuned! I'll also post here with updates about when rewards will ship as soon as I get all that information. For all the money and playtesting and signal boosting and support, I can only say THANK YOU SO FREAKING MUCH!!! The amateur/hobbyist steno community is amazing, and I can't wait to see how it'll grow and expand into the future. You guys are the best.

    Thursday, May 12, 2016

    Steno Arcade is Funded!

    We are funded!!!

    With three days left of the campaign to go, we're aiming for the stretch goal that will allow us to let players use any song in their music library. It's ambitious, but we've got a fighting chance! Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your help and support in making Steno Arcade a reality!!!

    Friday, May 6, 2016

    Steno Arcade: 67% Funded! New Songs Released!

    There's a new release of Steno Arcade on Steam, featuring two new slow songs, with hopefully two more to come before the end of the campaign. We've got eight days left and 33% to go, so please spread the word and contribute if you can!

    I've also recorded a video attempting to play the hardest level, I Feel Fantastic, on my new Planck. I only got 77%, but I still think that's a pretty decent showing for such a ridiculously speedy song. Anyone who'd like to beat my score is welcome to try! :'D

    Saturday, April 30, 2016

    Plover 3.0 Released!

    From our amazing lead developer Ted Morin:
    Plover has its first stable release in over 2 years today.

    So much work and love went into this, and we're looking forward to much more frequent releases in the future. Read on below for changes, fun facts, install instructions, and download links.

    The community has been testing Ted and Benoit's weeklies for months now with excellent results, and the current state of Plover is finally stable and feature-rich enough to be deemed officially release-worthy!!

    To start with, we've gotten a badly needed refresh of the Plover homepage.

    The new release is pretty close to the latest weekly, but if you've been stuck on Plover 2.5.8 and waiting for an official release to switch over, you've got a wondrous store of features waiting for you, such as:

    • Suggestions Window
    • Lookup Window
    • Dictionary Editor
    • Finer Grained Translation Control
    • Title/Lower/Camel/Snake Output Modes
    • Media Key Support

    Dictionary improvements, bugfixes, a new icon, and much, much more. I've been using the weeklies for ages now, and I can hardly remember what life was like before all these new features. Plover is SO MUCH BETTER now.

    The previous release, Plover v2.5.8:
    • Was released over 840 days ago.
    • Was downloaded over 23,000 times.

    This release, Plover v3.0:
    • Adds 578 commits.
    • Has received help from over 20 contributors.

    Infinite thanks go to:
    • @morinted, for tirelessly spearheading this entire project
    • Our developer emeritus, @balshetzer
    • @mighele for the dictionary editor, retrospective strokes, spaces-after output
    • @balthamos for the suggestions window
    • @rbrewer123 for fixes
    • @jeremy-w for translation transparency, documentation,, PR and issue templates
    • @avalai for the new Plover icon and help with the homepage layout
    • @Benoit-Pierre for doing so much work to make Plover better at its core, countless bug fixes, internal refactoring, new features, and great code reviews, literally hundreds of commits!
    • ...and all the other developers and users who submitted PRs and took part in issue discussion.

    Go get Plover 3.0 now!

    Wednesday, April 27, 2016

    60% Funded! Plus Plover on a Planck

    Okay, it took a lot less time to get from 0% to 50% than it did to get from 50% to 60%, but that's the nature of the crowdfunding beast. The important thing is that we're still edging upward. The For All To Play team is working hard on getting out an update of Steno Arcade featuring three slower songs that will be easier for qwerty typists and steno beginners. Speaking of which, I can't condone any of the language in this 20-video playlist of people playing Steno Arcade on YouTube; much of it is NSFW, in languages ranging from Thai to Italian to Russian, and it's all uncaptioned, so watch at your own risk. But I have to admit it's pretty hilarious to watch people ragequitting over the difficulty of our game, especially since they all seemed to be having a pretty good time with it. Why don't you all just learn steno already? (';

    The other exciting thing I've been up to lately is playing with the gorgeous new Planck keyboard that Scott Urueta of SOFT/HRUF fame built and graciously sent to me.

    This thing is by far the best steno input device I've ever tried, apart from my Infinity Ergonomic. Smooth, lightweight, extremely compact and portable, with lovely flat keytoppers and a very low actuation force. I absolutely adore it. Some people on Reddit asked if I'd make a video writing steno on 10FastFingers, so I gave it a shot:

    That video turned into a 90-comment discussion on r/mechanicalkeyboards about the virtues of steno, and that led to the creator of the Planck adding Plover as a layout in the default Planck firmware, which is really exciting! I had to go through a whole process of downloading a custom firmware remapper to get Plover working on my Planck, but the new batch of Plancks will ship out with Plover already baked in. I seriously cannot emphasize enough how great a machine this is for the amateur or hobbyist Plover user. There are only two major downsides:

    1) The Planck is sold unassembled, requiring some soldering skills and a fair amount of time and patience to put together, which is pretty intimidating for most users.

    2) The manufacturer doesn't keep a steady inventory of Planck kits; he waits for orders to accumulate on Massdrop and then sends them out in batches.

    The good news is that Scott is considering selling assembled Plancks alongside his SOFT/HRUFs. Even with a markup for his labor, they'd still be pretty affordable, and if he was able to keep a fair number in stock at a time, people wouldn't have to wait on Massdrop releases to get theirs. Fingers crossed it works out! I think this could be a huge help in filling the gap between the $40 Zalman solution and the >$500 lever-based proprietary machine option.

    Next time I post, we'll hopefully have a new release of Steno Arcade up and running, and with any luck we'll have edged closer to our goal. I'm still really hoping we'll hit that $10,500 stretch goal so that anyone who wants to make a Steno Hero level with a song from their own music library will be able to do it. Fingers crossed! Even if you don't have the means to contribute financially, signal boosting the campaign in our last few weeks would be massively appreciated. Many thanks for all your help so far!