Thursday, June 15, 2017

Steno Learnathon at Flatiron School NYC, June 25

The Flatiron School is hosting a Learnathon/Hackathon on June 25, and one of the hacking challenges will be to make a simple, addictive tutorial game for steno beginners. I'll be giving a 45-minute crash course in how steno works and then letting people loose to devise games that teach the steno keyboard layout, simple common words that can be written with one to three keys, and possibly simple chords as well. All participants in the Learnathon/Hackathon will be entered in a raffle where they'll have the chance to win a Planck and/or Steno Hero/Steno Arcade T-shirts. There are still tickets available, so if you're gonna be in NYC that Sunday, come by and give it a try!

Thursday, June 1, 2017 Makeover! has received a major makeover, with updated content and styling by the ever-versatile Ted. The old wiki has been replaced with a new one that's far better organized and contains current information about the state of the project, including the Beginner's Guide and a rundown of affordable steno machines. We've needed a major content overhaul for ages now, so I'm really grateful that Ted put in the hard work to make it happen.

Monday, May 8, 2017

New Plover Weekly: Plover 4.0!

I have a substantial backlog of cool Open Steno stuff to share with you, but all of that's been superseded by an incredibly exciting development: There's a new version of Plover available to download! I'm just gonna link you to the Github page detailing the new weekly Plover 4.0 release!! As with all weeklies, this is an experimental release, so proceed with caution, but if you have the time to play around and tinker with it, please be sure to give our mindblowingly amazing developers Ted and Benoit your feedback so that they can incorporate it into the next stable release. The quick rundown of features, from the release page:
  • New UI (PyQT instead of wx)
  • Plover closes to tray, so you don't need to have a window in your taskbar.
  • Dictionary Revamp
  • Enable / disable dictionaries
  • Dictionary display order is now higher priority first (configurable)
  • External dictionary changes trigger a reload on configuration change (e.g. reconnecting the machine)
  • Windows now has an installer version available.
  • Older Mac versions should be supported again. (The lower bound is untested)
  • We now create a Linux AppImage.
  • Plugin support (not yet documented).
  • Will allow for custom machines, layouts, utilities, commands, and more, in time.

Go check out the new release at the Github page! Woohooo!

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Adorable Gherkin Keyboard

Someone in the Plover Discord Group posted a picture of a tiny ortholinear keyboard that I now want desperately, even though I already own an Infinity Ergonomic, StenoMod, SOFT/HRUF, Planck, and Sidewinder, not to mention a manual steno machine that ostensibly was once owned by Margaret Mead's stenographer. Look at this thing!

It's called a Gherkin, and it's an extremely stripped down 30-key qwerty keyboard that could actually work pretty well as an ultra-portable steno machine. There aren't enough rows for a number bar, but Charley of StenoMod fame pointed out that you could map the keys to either side of the vowels to the number bar and get numbers that way. People with large hands might struggle with the crammed-in key placement, but people with small fingers like me would probably love it. It supports NKRO firmware and mechanical keyswitches, so there shouldn't be any problem using it with Plover.

Like most mechanical keyboards aimed at hobbyists, this one requires assembly, including soldering, and requires you to flash the firmware manually to the board, both of which are a step or two outside my own personal wheelhouse. Plus you have to get someone to make you the PCBs. But if you're looking for a fun DIY project, this could be a really fun convertible steno/qwerty machine that almost fits in your pocket. If you wind up making one, let us know what you think. And if you wind up making two... Uh... Can I buy one off of you? Seriously, that thing is cute as heck.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Take the 4th Annual Community Survey!

Yep, it's that time of year again! And given how much our community has grown in the past year, I'm really excited to see what happens. Really hoping we'll be able to beat our former record of 72 responses! (We collected a few more after I posted last year's results.) It'll only take a minute, and it'll help us tremendously!

Please take the Open Steno Project Community Survey 4.0!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Stenotoppers: 3D Printed Keys for Your Mechanical Keyboard!

The most exciting recent news in the Open Steno sphere is Jason's new Stenotoppers models, which you can print on any 3D printer (or have printed for you by a 3D printing shop, though that can get pricey), to turn your staggered-layout mechanical keyboard with steno-unfriendly beveled keytoppers into an ortholinear steno-style layout with smooth interfaces between rows.

It works with any Cherry or Gateron switches (I recommend clears/whites if you're in the market, since they have the lowest actuation force) and is entirely free to download and modify. If you have a mechanical keyboard and a 3D printer or access to one via your local makerspace, this is a great robust alternative to our laser-cut acrylic keytoppers, which are sometimes a little fiddly to align. Please note that these are unfortunately not compatible with the Zalman NKRO keyboard, which at $45 is the cheapest solution for entry level steno. Most mechanical keyboards with compatible switches are in the $100 to $150 range, so budget accordingly.

Speaking of which, if you'd rather just buy an ortholinear keyboard at the outset, the Planck is currently available on Massdrop for another 5 days. I have one, built and donated to me by the fantastic Scott of SOFT/HRUF fame, and it's quite a nice little machine. A little clickier than my beloved StenoMod, and somewhat bulkier than the sleek and compact SOFT/HRUF, but a very strong contender in the dual qwerty/steno keyboard bracket. Even better, the firmware comes with a Plover layer built right in. You'll have to assemble it yourself, but I've been told it's not terribly difficult, even for beginners.

The Plover README file has been updated to include recent developments in the Open Steno community.

Finally, there's a new expanded StenoJig landing page that allows you to customize your drills in a more flexible way without editing the URLs as you had to do previously. Extremely convenient!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Plover 3.1.1 Released

This is a minor bug fix release affecting Linux and Mac users.
  • Fix a certain type of NKRO on Linux (#644)
  • Fix control key on macOS Sierra not working with global shortcuts
  • Fix an edge case of output for Mac, where certain keys wouldn't be shifted
Check out the release on GitHub.