Sunday, May 9, 2010

Qwerty is to Steno as Tetris is to This Guy

Quick post, because I'm in the middle of a marathon transcription session -- three hours of audio due before tomorrow morning. I keep from going out of my mind with boredom by running playthroughs of video games on my other monitor, so I can watch them out of the corner of my eye during pauses between words, changes in speakers, ums and uhs -- that sort of thing. In putting together my video playlist, I stumbled across this video.

As most of you are probably aware, beginners play Tetris by thinking each move, then doing it: Left, left, up, up, right, down, et cetera. More advanced players hold down the keys until they repeat and then learn to release them at just the right moment. But look at this guy's hands. He's playing chords. Instead of thinking of each discrete move he wants the block to take, he's memorized the chords that deliver a certain block in a certain orientation to a certain section of the screen. He's essentially taken the same step that stenographers take when they go from 60 WPM on the qwerty keyboard to 260 WPM on the steno keyboard. He couples that with complete mastery of his reflexes, perfect recall of the playing field, and an absolute lack of hesitation. Yes, my friends, we have found the Ed Varallo of Tetris.


Tony said...

Mirabai, I think I broke Plover. I'm sorry to bother you with this, but I decided to download the latest stuff from the github. I deleted the old files first, then downloaded and extracted all the new files. But now, when I click on tktest, nothing happens. I wonder if my anti-virus software is blocking its execution. I'll keep checking, and if you have any advice, comment when you can. I know you have a life outside of the free programming you do for us :) Thanks!

Mirabai Knight said...

Hey, Tony! I should probably post more explicit instructions on the Github, but ever since the most recent update, you have to select a program launcher based on which dictionary you're using. I'm pretty sure you're using the Eclipse dictionary, so rename to (case sensitive), and then just click on Let me know if it works! I'm having a marathon two-hour session with my Python tutor tomorrow, so hopefully new updates should be coming very soon.

Tony said...

Thanks, Mirabai, now it works fine. I notice some improvements over the last version. For example, I can hit the asterisk key much faster now without crashing.

I have been experimenting with cutting and forming aluminum, and this thing called JB Weld (a kind of liquid-cast, extremely hard plastic). I'm actually casting steno keys with a silicone mold I made (of my manual writer's keys) and JB Weld.

So I'm thinking I'll soon have a physical steno keyboard to lay down on top of the SideWinder that will be exactly like the ones on typical writers (just without a number row). More details soon!

Mirabai Knight said...

That sounds freaking amazing, Tony! I can't wait to see pictures, and if this is really a cost/time-effective way of making steno keys, that could be a fantastic help to the Plover project.

Can you tell me about the asterisk crashing bug? I don't think I've encountered this before. What happened before? And in the new version, does it still happen if you hit the keys too fast?

Tony said...

Well, in the older version of Plover, I did notice that if I hit the asterisk key very fast, several times in succession, Plover would just stop doing anything. It wouldn't take new keystrokes, and it just sort of acted hung. Then I'd close it out, start it back up, and it would be fine.

I tried doing the fast, repetitive asterisk keystrokes just now with the new version, and no problem at all. It erases all my previous keystrokes up to the very first one with no crashing.

Mirabai Knight said...

Hm. Yeah, I think I might know what was going on there. Anyway, I'm glad it seems to be fixed. If it shows up again, please do let me know! I'm always hungry for bug reports.