Thursday, January 23, 2020

2020 OSP Community Survey is Live!

Please take the survey here. Many many thanks to Ty for getting this all together, and to community members for adding their questions. I can't wait to see what we come up with!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Input Wanted for 2020 OSP Community Survey

I massively dropped the ball on the annual Community Survey in 2019 due to toddler parent brain and a host of other boring non-excuses, but the excellent Ty is helping me revive it for this year and is soliciting new questions on the Plover Discord. It'll probably be going live in the relatively near future, so if you've got a burning question you really want to see on there, now's your chance to submit it!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Jumping Into Steno

I just wanted to link to two really nice blog posts by OSP community member Jladd: Jumping Into Steno Part One and Part Two. I always love personal accounts of how people discover steno and what they're finding as they explore the system, and I really like the way Jladd puts things:

I got back to my hotel room with the nagging feeling that there must be a better way of capturing information in real-time. Away I went to the trusty internet to find the answer I knew had to be out there.

This is exactly how I found out about steno too! I was doing freelance transcription and I knew there had to be a better way. A quick trip to Wikipedia's article on stenotype, and the rest was history.

I had seen this before; I remembered watching Matlock, the detective, on television, presenting his case in the courtroom, and seeing the court reporter sitting up by the judge, quietly doing the impossible…capturing every single word in real-time. I remember puzzling about this when I was young and earnestly concluding that it must be impossible. (After all, they were hardly typing, and the machine they were using seemed to be missing an awful lot of keys.)

I was lucky enough to get to meet Jladd at PyCon 2019, as he notes in the second post, and I'm so happy that those few minutes of us chatting together have led him to give steno a try; he's been a valued contributor to the Plover Discord for just a few months shy of a year now, and we're very lucky to have him. I hope he continues this series! If you'd like to write down your own narrative of how you found out about steno or Plover and how you're finding the experience of learning it, please let me know! I'd like to link to as many of them as possible.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Typey Type Is Now Open Source!!!

How amazing is this?! Di, the inventor of the invaluable steno learning resource Typey Type for Stenographers, has released her source on Github! I already admired the everloving heck out of her, but now I admire her even more. Three cheers for her commitment to fantastic design, excellent pedagogy, and truly open source steno learning tools!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Semi-DIY TinyMod Stand

art board instruction sheet
underside of art board with DIY mounting hardware
art board without TinyMod inserted, showing recessed space
TinyMod in tripod-mounted art board stand

Check out jladd's new TinyMod stand, which started life as an art frame, but with some clever hardware is now a rock solid and beautifully minimalistic tripod-mounted steno surface. Nice work!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Spectra Lexer + New Typey Type Lessons

diagrams of a steno keyboard showing keys corresponding to sounds

Spectra Lexer a tool to visualize steno strokes by chord and phonetic correspondence by longtime OSP community member incognition, is back online after a brief hiatus. Useful for memorizing the keyboard layout and understanding why strokes are defined the way they are!

Also, there are some new lessons up on Typey Type: The Velveteen Rabbit, a notorious tearjerker that haunts my childhood to this day, and some new community lessons that can be copied and pasted into Typey Type's custom lesson engine.

Have fun!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

TinyMod Review

TinyMod in red and green pencil case with USB cable

Last week I did my Georgi review, focusing on its utility as my daily driver for the past several months as I waited for my new Infinity to be built. I've switched back to the Infinity full time since it arrived and I'm definitely appreciating the silent key action after so many months of clacking, though I've had some growing pains adjusting to its idiosyncrasies. Unlike the old model Infinity Ergonomic that I had before, this one won't let me tilt the two halves of the machine up as far as I like, which means I have to tilt the tripod itself, and that often involves me keeping my arms too close to my body, which has resulted in some elbow pain. Plus I seem to have a different stray keystroke issue each time I take the machine out of my backpack. I can configure multiple sensitivities of each key, but if the machine is gonna demonstrate different behavior each session even if I haven't adjusted anything in between, I'm not sure where to start. I'm sure I'll find my way into loving it at some point, but I must admit that the past week and change has made me wistful not for the Georgi, my trusty workhorse for all these many months, but the TinyMod, whose utter simplicity is its greatest strength.

Several times in my Infinity-free period I'd look at my Georgi case and grumble. I didn't feel like taking it out and setting it up and tenting it and taping it and readjusting it until it was just right. I wanted to take a machine out of my case, plug it in, and start writing. When that sort of mood struck me, I'd reach for my TinyMod. Its extreme elegance and portability were invaluable one night when I went out to sushi with two friends, one deaf and one hearing. I was able to put my Surface Pro 4 on the table in between the platters and soup bowls and caption the conversation with a minimum of fuss and disruption. I admit it took me a while to get used to using the middle key for numbers, but between the Georgi and the TinyMod I eventually got so used to it that even after 11 years of standard steno number bar usage I find that thumb drifting centerwards on my new Infinity. It's a really elegant little workaround that only requires a bit of practice to master.

In many ways, the feel of writing on the TinyMod is more comfortable -- or possibly the word I'm looking for is "luxurious" -- than on the Georgi. The key action is more pillowy. The keytoppers themselves are rounded and pleasantly textured, compared to the crisp, shallow angles on the Georgi's keytoppers. Even the sound is less clacky, though oddly the one time I was actually called out for making too much typing noise in a class (it only happened once this semester!) I was on my TinyMod rather than my Georgi, which surprised me. It's such a discreet and unpretentious little machine. It doesn't require any fiddling or adjustment to make it work; it just works. The only flaw I can see in it is probably more of a flaw in me than in the machine: I can't write on it for more than an hour or two without getting wrist pain. I'm not sure exactly why; probably a combination of things, such as the lack of tenting, the short distance between the hands, possibly even the fact that it rests easier on a lap than below the level of the knees on a dedicated tripod. Everything simple and unfiddly about it, sadly. So even though I wanted so many times to avoid the five-minute setup time of the Georgi when I got to a class with little time to spare, I usually bit the bullet and went through with it rather than using the TinyMod because I was afraid of hurting my moneymakers. Sigh. But see above: Even a $2,000 proprietary ergonomic machine is not immune to this sort of complaint from me. Even on the Georgi I was getting a weird pain in one of my wrists until I realized that I could put it on the diagonal of my laptop tripod's platform instead of aligning it with the edges. For whatever reason, that made the difference, and the pain went away. Perhaps if I keep experimenting, I can find a way to make the TinyMod work for me without pain as well.

If this isn't a problem you have, I can recommend the TinyMod wholeheartedly. I'm able to write on it at high speeds with a minimum of effort, enjoying the feel of every stroke, and I still keep it in my bag every day. It's sturdy, reliable, aesthetically attractive, and flexible in a huge variety of circumstances. Fantastic as a starter machine and delicate enough for professionals, plus Charley, its inventor, uses one every day for all his coding and general computer work. If a split/tented machine is not an absolute must have for you, the TinyMod is highly recommended!