Saturday, November 19, 2016

Plover 3.1.0 Released!

Okay, this is a little overdue, but there's a new Plover release available as of ten days ago!

Plover 3.1.0

This is a minor release, meaning that we try to be backwards-compatible with v3.0.0 while introducing new features. The only gray area is the new keyboard shortcut syntax, which will not always work on older versions of Plover.

Highlights:

* New configuration option to start Plover minimized

* Add ProCAT machine protocol

* Stroke and translation logging is now turned off by default

* The "Lookup" and "Suggestions" windows now return more results! We accomplished this by looking for different casing; prefixes and suffixes; and across all dictionaries

* Faster dictionary loading, which means faster Plover start up Fix TX Bolt lag on macOS

Major release with huge UI changes in the works as well, which is very exciting!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Back From Hiatus! Many Updates!

So my last post before my kid was born (the reason for the Plover Blog hiatus; sorry about that) was about Ted's presentation at PyGotham 2016. The video for that talk is now live! Embedding is disabled, but you can view it here! It's really fantastic.

Speaking of Ted, he also wrote an excellent review for a new affordable steno machine that recently hit the market, the StenoMod. I was given a review model StenoMod myself some months ago, and I've been meaning to write a roundup of how it compares to other low-cost steno machines such as the SOFT/HRUF, Stenoboard, and Planck (spoiler: it fares extremely well), but I haven't gotten a chance to sit down and write it yet. Ted says most of what needs to be said, though. It's become my go-to recommendation for new Plover users who want something that's a little less bare-bones than the Zalman.

On the learning front, a great new tool called Steno Jig by Joshua Grams has appeared on the scene. By default, it drills a list of common words, but his GitHub page has instructions on how to customize it. His numbers drill, which generates silly random sentences, is particularly fun. Very simple, but well designed and quite useful.

T-shirts are finally shipping for supporters of the Steno Arcade campaign (I haven't gotten mine yet, but hopefully they're coming soon), and they're working hard on adding new playable tracks and making the game compatible with screen readers.

Our dauntless developers continue to make constant improvements to Plover. There's a new release in the works, so stay tuned for that. I'll do my best to keep on top of Open Steno Project news from now on. My kid is a ridiculously easy baby, so I don't really have the New Parent excuse for my slackitude going forward; expect to hear more soon!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Go See Ted Speak about Plover at PyGotham 2016!

Hacking/Typing/Writing at 200 Words Per Minute, at PyGotham 2016 this Sunday at 04:30 (Room CR6 at the UN) is a talk by our lead developer, Ted Morin, about how he has used Plover for coding, chatting, and other text entry over the last few years. It's gonna be great, and as long as my wife doesn't go into labor before tomorrow (which is fortunately unlikely, fingers crossed), I will probably be captioning it! If you're at PyGotham, be sure to stop by, and if you're not, we will hopefully have a public captioning feed. At the very least, it'll be recorded and posted later. Ted's a fantastic speaker (I captioned him at the Ottawa Python Meetup), so I'm really looking forward to this.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Third Party Song Editor for Steno Hero

The fantastic thing about Open Source is that sometimes people just decide to donate their own time and expertise out of the blue! It's like randomly getting a present from a stranger, and it's the BEST.

When we finished the Steno Arcade campaign, we were just over $2,000 short of the amount we needed to build a level editor for Steno Hero, which would vastly increase its replayability and customizability. It was a pity, but that's the nature of crowdfunding. The main thing is that we raised enough money to make Steno Hero screen reader accessible, to add more default songs, to spruce up the graphics a bit, and to pay the developers back for all the time they spent developing the game on spec.


But then just a few days ago -- pow! Timothy, aka SyntaxBlitz from the Plover Discord Channel, makes WaveLyric, a waveform-based lyric timing tool specifically designed for Steno Hero! It's still pretty new, but I've played around with it a bit and am extremely impressed by the smooth and ingenious UI. Go check it out! I'm hoping this will be the start of a whole new community of homebrew Steno Hero lyrics files. Just add Ogg! Many, many thanks to Timothy for this beautiful bit of software. I'm incredibly excited to see it in action and can't wait to see what grows out of it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Plover Vector Art

I made some diagrams of Plover's steno-to-qwerty keyboard mappings back in 2010, using MS Paint. They have not held up well, to say the least. Have some much-needed replacements, courtesy of Krakob:

And Ted:

Phew, that's better! Go to the Google Group for ai and svg files. Many thanks, Krakob and Ted!

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.