Saturday, November 26, 2011

Captioned: Mary Gardiner's Keynote at PyConAu

So in August of this year, programmer and open source advocate Mary Gardiner gave a keynote address at PyConAu in Sydney, Australia, called "Changing the World With Python". In the talk, she mentioned several world-changing open source projects that people could contribute to, including Sugar (which longtime Plover ally Mel Chua is heavily involved with), Calibre, an ebook management tool, Software Carpentry, a series of programming tutorials for scientists, and most unlikely of all... Plover!

I didn't know about this until a month or so later, when I was checking Plover's referral logs, and noticed that I'd gotten a few hits from the Ada Initiative website. Ms. Gardiner's posted several times on the Plover Google Group, but I hadn't put her name together with The Ada Initiative, even though my friend Sumana is on the advisory board, as is Lukas Blakk, who was at my PyGotham presentation on Plover, and who asked a number of fantastic questions. That Ms. Gardiner was interested enough in Plover to devote a decent amount of her keynote speech at a major conference was incredibly exciting, and as soon as I discovered the video I started captioning it, so that I could post it here for my Deaf and hard of hearing friends and colleagues to watch. Unfortunately I got about three quarters through the captioning process (using Plover with UniversalSubtitles, which was unbelievably smooth and pleasant, especially compared with the proprietary steno software I tried to use during NatCapVidMo last year.), and then my work schedule got ridiculously busy, so I haven't had any time to finish the job 'til now. Still, better late than never, right? It's a great video. Anyone who's interested in open source contribution should watch it -- not just Plover enthusiasts.

A few notes:

* Ms. Gardiner says that entry level steno machines cost about $3,000. That's not quite true. Professional steno machines range in price from about $3,000 to about $5,000, but entry level machines go for around $1,000 for a used student writer to $2,000 for a new one.

* The Microsoft Sidewinder X4 keyboard isn't exactly 10 cents here in the US, but it's currently going for $38.20 including shipping, which is a pretty decent deal.

* Steno courses at technical schools are rarely only two years long. Some people graduate (i.e., pass three tests at 225 words per minute at 95% non-realtime accuracy) in less than that time (I took a year and a half, and I've known some people who did it in nine months), but many people take between three and seven years to get up to graduating speed. It all depends on your talent, dedication, and practice time.

* The stenographic world record is 360 words per minute.

* She wasn't speaking at 300 words per minute, I'm happy to say, or this would have taken even longer to caption. Probably more like 160, which is why I chose to caption it in single lines, as opposed to the double-line captions that I sometimes use for faster speakers.

* Josh wasn't living downstairs from me. He was actually renting coworking space two floors above the co-op office where I was working.

* I don't make anywhere near $150,000. Some court reporters in NYC might make that, but CART providers make significantly less than that, though I have managed to squeak into the six figure range for the past three years running.

* Since this speech was given, the Experimental Windows Port was released. It should be finalized pretty soon, and Josh tells me that support for OSX is imminent as well. Seriously exciting.

* In the TypeRacer video, I was actually using my Revolution Grand, not the SideWinder X4. But I'd love to see new Plover users racing on TypeRacer with their n-key rollover keyboards. Maybe we'll even have a batch competing in next year's Championships! (I'm currently tied for third place, competing as ploversteno. Yes, I was beaten in two matches by a qwerty typist. I need to get better about not getting flustered so that my hands freeze up when I make a mistake.)

* Some of my YouTube videos feature Plover, and I want to record several more, but two of them -- the StenoKnight CART Demo and Steno Versus Qwerty -- were made with Eclipse, my proprietary steno software.


Anonymous said...

Just for clarity: I am on the Advisory Board of the Ada Initiative.

Oooh, about what timecode does she start talking about Plover?

-Sumana Harihareswara

Mirabai Knight said...

She first mentions Plover at 4:44. (All videos captioned with Universal Subtitles offer a timecoded transcript, which is really convenient, especially for deaf-blind users or people who don't have time to watch the whole video.)

Mirabai Knight said...

(Oh, and I made the edit about the advisory board. Thanks for pointing that out.)

Lukas Blakk said...

Glad there's some excitement building about Plover - I haven't forgotten your amazing presentation and I just met the fabulous Mel at the Grace Hopper conference in Portland. I was sharing some of your presentation just this past weekend at a Women 2.0 Startup Weekend in SF. Everyone on my team (we were working on a company that would use the Kinect for language learning) loved the stats on learning steno typing (with regards to being able to type as fast as you think). Learning this and being able to help with Plover is still on my bucket list. Perhaps you'd be available/interested in coming to PyCon US this March in Santa Clara and doing a development sprint on it? I'd be happy to help make that happen!

Mirabai Knight said...

Oh, man. I wish I could. That's seriously tempting. Unfortunately, two of the three schools I work at have their spring break that week, but the other one has theirs the week before, so I'm almost certainly working, and there's not much chance I'll be able to get a sub. Fooey. But maybe Josh will be able to come; he lives in Oregon and he's more knowledgeable about the actual nuts and bolts dev stuff anyway. Could that be a possibility?