Monday, October 18, 2010

New experimental version with improved GUI

Good news from Joshua, Plover's programmer. The newest update from the experimental series of Plover has been released. He says:

"The latest experimental release of Plover (version includes a graphical user interface for viewing and editing all Plover configuration parameters. This will hopefully make Plover configuration much easier and less error prone. Aside from the known-to-be-buggy support for the Gemini TX stenotype, everything in this experimental release should work as advertised. If it doesn't, please let me know or, better yet, file a bug report directly in Launchpad."

Download it here.

New logo!

The logo I commissioned for Plover is done! Steno mavens will please note the eponymous feather pattern on the left wing. Logo design by Laura Lake, freelance illustrator. Font is ButterBrotPapier by Anke Art.

Now, I know it's generally traditional to name little animal logos that represent FLOSS projects. I'm not sure what, though. I was thinking of holding a competition for the longest (in terms of letters and/or syllables) common name that can be reasonably represented in one stroke on the steno keyboard. So something like KHREUFRD for Clifford or KHRAEURPBS for Clarence will do, but your invented SKWRO*EPBT brief for Jonathan doesn't count. Or we could leave the little guy nameless; I'm not particular. The main thing is we've got a logo. Now to print up some business cards for the next hacker/steno/accessibility conference I go to...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Qwerty to Steno Key Map

File this one under painfully obvious. In all the excitement of the Plover release, I had forgotten that the actual description of the qwerty-to-steno layout that Plover uses was buried way back in the archives, and that new people trying to figure out how to position their fingers would most likely be totally lost. Sorry about that! By way of apology, I whipped up a new image that should be a little more helpful, and after I finish posting this I'm going to put it on the Plover FAQ Page as well.

The dark blue letters correspond to the letters of the qwerty keyboard. The light blue letters correspond to the letters on the steno keyboard that they produce when Plover is connected. Basically you move your hands half an inch up so that your left thumb is resting between the C and V keys and your right thumb is resting between the N and M keys. The rest should fall into place. a good test sentence to write when you first start up Plover (not least because even keyboards without n-key rollover often type it correctly) is:


in qwerty, which corresponds to


in steno, which translates to

So is this working?

in English. Now that you know where to put your fingers, try it out and let me know how it goes!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Blog Interview and TX Support

Two exciting things today. First of all, over at Plover's Launchpad Site there's now a User Guide and experimental support for the Gemini TX Protocol. We're still looking for testing with that one, so if you have a TX machine, give it a shot.

Also, there's an interview on Plover at the Geek Feminism Blog, where I talk about some of my reasons for kicking off the project and some things I hope for Plover's future.

There's been a huge amount of excitement since the Plover 2.0 release, and there's also a hackathon scheduled this Saturday, both onsite in Toronto at HackLabTO and online via IRC on the #plover freenode channel. Thanks to everyone (especially to Josh, Plover's tireless coder, for writing the manual and releasing new code daily and to Leigh Honeywell, who's behind both the Geek Feminism interview and the hackathon) for your enthusiasm, linkage, and donations. Plover is picking up steam, and it can only get better from here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Plover 2.0 Is Released!

Yes, kids, the moment you've all been waiting for...

Download Plover 2.0 Here!

You might also want to visit the new Plover landing page:

It answers some common questions about the project and the new release, and also features this video showing me using Plover to demolish the competition in an online typing game called TypeRacer.

This video was made using the Gemini PR option. I'll probably make another one with the SideWinder later, showing all the other amazing things Plover can do. You can blog with it, chat with it, write a novel -- you name it! In future releases, we'll also implement the ability to control every aspect of your computer using steno, plus superior dictionary management and support for additional steno protocols. But for now, bask in the glory that is a fully functional and completely free high speed stenographic text entry system. Remember, if you have Windows but not Linux, you can give yourself a stress-free dual boot option in less than 20 minutes using Wubi. Then just extract the .gz file to your chosen directory and follow the two-line installation instructions in the README. Feel free to email me at if you need any guidance or if you have comments, bugs, or feature requests. A million thanks to Joshua Harlan Lifton, Plover's programmer, for devoting so much time and passion to the project in the past month. And please spread the word. I think Plover has the potential to transform the way people input text and interact with their computers, but the first priority is to make everyone aware of its existence. Now go, play around with it, and see what happens when you triple your speed and quarter your effort.