Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Plover Parser

Ted, our amazing lead developer, has done it again:

Github Page for The Plover Parser

The Plover Parser will read through your Plover stroke/definition log files (assuming that you've got logging enabled), compare them with a wordlist of the 10,000 most common English words (or, optionally, a wordlist that you provide, such as a medical dictionary, if you want to search for more specific matches), then compile a frequency list of which strokes you used most often for which translation during the span of time covered by the logs.

If you're interested, you can look over the reports for my counts (arranged by commonality of translation in English) and stats (arranged by the number of times each stroke appears in the logs). My log files go from last November to yesterday, and the parser found that I used 6,000 of the 10,000 included in the wordlist over that time.

Why is this useful, beyond just idle curiosity? A lot of steno beginners get confused by the number of misstrokes in the default Plover dictionary, especially when using lookup apps like StenoTray. They're not able to quickly distinguish a "canonical" stroke from a "misstroke", and they worry about learning the wrong one. Now, I'm not sure that's as big a problem as some people think it is; in my opinion, the only thing that distinguishes a misstroke from a brief is how easy it is to memorize. I don't want to take misstrokes out of the default dictionary, because they're very useful to have in there once you get a little speed under your belt. But for people who want to learn how steno works by learning the "canonical" strokes, this is a really easy way of separating the strokes I use deliberately day after day after day from the ones that come from a random, occasional slip of the finger, even though they translate just as correctly. So all we have to do is scrape the most used stroke from that list of 6,000 common words, and we've built ourselves a clean pedagogical dictionary for beginners who are intimidated by the full messy scope of the official Plover dictionary. It'll also be useful for building levels in Steno Arcade.

If you want to scrape your own logs and get a snapshot of your own writing style, feel free to use Ted's script and let us know what you come up with! I think it's a very cool project.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

New Cross-Platform Steno Hero Demo!

There's a new version of the Steno Hero demo, with flashier gameplay, and it now runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux! Go download it from its Steam Greenlight page, and if you have a Steam account but haven't already, please give us a vote! The crowdfunding campaign site is extremely close to launching, so stay tuned for that!

As you can see from the video above, I only managed to get 77% accuracy on Jonathan Coulton's I Feel Fantastic. Can you beat my score? If so, send me a screencast, and I'll post it! It's a doozy.

Also, The Open Steno Project now has a Discord server (a Slack-style alternative to IRC), which you can access for free via browser or mobile app. There have been some great discussions on there (I try to pop in at least once a day), and there's some talk about forming a beginning steno learner's group, so sign on if you're interested in that sort of thing.

Also also, the HTML5 version of Plover Learn is now hosted on the stenoknight server, for easier access to all potential Plover learners! Thanks again, tthurman!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Steno Bricks and HTML5 Plover Learn

Hey, check out Drew's very cool Steno Bricks site:
StenoBricks is a project by Drew Neil that aims to visualize how Plover Steno theory works. A Steno Brick is one or more keystrokes that stand for a sound.

Also, our old friend tthurman has rendered the interactive Plover Learn exercises into HTML5. Find the source here.

Fantastic work!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Stenosaurus Updates!

If you follow the Stenosaurus Blog, you already got these updates several days ago, but just in case you don't, have some beautiful pictures of the first fully assembled test unit!

Josh writes:

Obviously, I missed my stated goal of launching in 2015. I'm trying to find the right sauce with which to eat my hat. I'm also carving out more time to work on Stenosaurus. My new goal is to launch this month, which I think is realistic so long as we don't run into any unexpected hiccups. If we do, I'll detail them on the blog (hiccups are at least as interesting as good news) and I'll provide an updated estimated timeline right away.

Pretty exciting! Can't wait to see more!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Help the Steno Arcade Demo Get on Steam!

Vote to Greenlight Steno Arcade on Steam Here!

Anyone who's played video games on their PC no doubt knows about Steam, the comprehensive platform that supports a dizzying array of both commercial and indie games. Since I'm currently on winter break, I've spent a ton of time this week with my Steam Link and Steam Controller, playing Undertale and Botanicula on my six-foot-wide projector screen, and I love the idea of being able to have Steno Arcade parties on it someday as well. Just add steno machine!

For All To Play, the studio that's been developing Steno Arcade, were able to get , Grail To The Thief, their previous screen reader accessible game, up on Steam, and now we're trying again with the Steno Hero demo, via the Steam Greenlight system. If you have a Steam account or know anyone who does, please vote for us! It would be amazing to have such a massive platform to help get the word out about gamified steno.

Vote Here!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Steno Arcade Demo Is Here!

First: If you want to be notified about the launch of the Steno Arcade crowdfunding campaign, enter your email address here!

Second: The demo is complete! We currently offer four Jonathan Coulton songs, with permission:

I'm Your Moon
Mandelbrot Set
That Spells DNA
I Feel Fantastic

In the full game we'll offer many more Creative Commons-licensed songs, as well as a song editor to allow you to make levels out of your own music library! We'll also make the graphics a little bit splashier (and screen reader accessible!), and of course, the more money we raise, the more games we're going to be able to develop. We're hoping to launch the campaign in early January, so stay tuned!

Download the Demo Here!

(Demo link is Windows only, but I believe it will be cross-platform via Steam very soon.)

And one more time: If you want to be notified about the launch of the Steno Arcade crowdfunding campaign, enter your email address here!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Learn Plover in Paperback

Learn Plover, Zachary Brown's online steno textbook, will always be available on the website for free. But several people requested a print version, so it's now available for purchase!

Buy Learn Plover in paperback from Amazon here. It will also be available as a Kindle ebook in the near future.

He's also been working on a new Velotype-style orthographic chording system, called Kinglet, which he thinks might have an easier learning curve than Plover. It's not yet compatible with any software, so he doesn't have videos of it in action, but it should be pretty simple to implement. If this sounds like your kind of text entry system, go check it out!