Sunday, December 19, 2010
I finally uploaded a video of what Plover looks like when plugged into a text-to-speech engine. If you remember, the first part of my What Is Steno Good For series was called How to Speak with Your Fingers, and was about how steno can be used as a conversational tool for people who don't use their voices to speak. Plover's now at a point where that's not only possible, but ludicrously easy. All I did was to launch Plover, open a terminal window in Ubuntu, type eSpeak, press enter, and start writing. Whenever I wanted to send a line, I pressed R-R on my steno machine, which my steno dictionary has defined as "press return". That's all there was to it.
Recently, I was quite moved by Roger Ebert's blog post Trying to Get a Word in Edgewise, about the frustration he's experienced since he lost the use of his voice, and by my friend (and early Plover supporter) Mel's response to it. I was already in the middle of planning this video before the blog post went up, but after it was posted, one of Mr. Ebert's fans randomly came upon Plover and recommended it to him. The next morning I was thrilled to discover that Mr. Ebert had actually commented on the relevant article. I panicked a bit, because I didn't yet have anything to show him and no time to make the video until the weekend. Now it's finally up, though, and I can prove that Plover isn't just a pipe dream; it actually works. I know that Mr. Ebert uses a Mac, and that Plover is currently only working on Linux, but cross-platform support is high on our to-do list. I think this video speaks for me better than any blog post ever could, so I'll just leave it there.
(One more minor thing: YouTube lists the running time at 5 minutes, but the actual video is only about 2 minutes long. No idea why those extra three minutes of frozen screen were tacked on there, but just ignore them.)