Monday, May 28, 2012

Warning: Lasers Are Awesome



The laser cut keys are here!



I spent Saturday peeling the sticky paper off of them and watching Downton Abbey. Last night I watched more Downton Abbey while sticking the keys onto one of my 10 SideWinders. Doesn't it look great? It works really well, too. In honor of the occasion, I entered a bunch of html formatting strokes into my dictionary, and I've written 100% of this blog post using it. I've got enough keys for 20 sets, though five of those are already spoken for, and 10 will be set aside for my PyGotham Plover workshop on June 8th. I'm really excited about that.

So the next week or so will involve lots of opening SideWinder boxes, peeling foam backing, and sticking on keys. I'm wondering whether I should commission some sticker sheets for the keys from InAFlashLaser, but I'm not sure. On the one hand, I feel like sticking on colored labels for each letter on the keyboard would give beginners a leg up in trying to figure out steno in three hours. On the other hand, I worry that it would make combining those letters into chords more confusing. I know that my steno teachers at school were adamant about never labeling steno machine keys, but they were wrong about so many things, it's hard to tell how much credibility to give them in this case. It might be overkill, because I've hired a freelance graphic designer to remake my functional but butt-ugly steno alphabet chart into a more elegant and aesthetically consistent form, and I'm hoping to have at least one poster to put up in the front of the room while I give the workshop. But maybe stickers plus poster are the killer combination? It's really hard to say.

After the workshop, I'm going to try to put some sort of Plover store up. We'll sell the key sets, SideWinders with keytoppers already stuck on, the steno alphabet poster, the alphabet stickers if I wind up deciding to make them, and possibly some other random merch-type swag such as coffee cups or hats or T-shirts or something. Not sure about those. Is there demand for such a thing? Any ideas you guys might have in that department is very welcome. All proceeds, of course, will go to funding store inventory and paying programmers for Plover development. This is really slick. The keys offer a huge improvement in haptic feedback, and increase my comfort, accuracy, and speed on the SideWinder by a huge extent. I think you guys are going to love 'em.

Oh, in case you're interested, here are my new entries for easy html formatting in steno:

"A/HREF": "<a href=\"{^}",
"HAOEPT": "http://{^}",
"PWRABG": "<{^}",
"PWRA*BG": "{^}>",
"EUPBG/SR-S": "<img src=\"{^}",
"PWR": "<br>",
"KHR-BG": "{#Control_L(c)}",
"KHR*F": "{#Control_L(v)}",

20 comments:

AWiseGal said...

That is slick! I totally want one!

Sara said...

I need a sticker like that. :)

Mirabai Knight said...

Sara: I was totally gonna send you one, but I thought that you already had one! Now I'm definitely gonna send you one.

Mirabai Knight said...

Sara: Sent!

Sara said...

Woot :)

Soo Doe Nimh said...

Definitely interested in the keytoppers. I don't own a Sidewinder, but they would likely fit my Filco Majestouch; if not, I'd spring for a Sidewinder anyway. I'd bet that the pads help on words like TKPWHRAPBS, TKPWAEUPBLG, and URPBLG. EFPB is particularly vicious on a standard keyboard.

I'll e-mail you.

Thanks for the work on this. I'm through lesson 10 in the StenEd theory book, and still hesitating before each word, but it gets easier each day. Even though my fingers are not smooth to the mark - I can keep things relaxed and even only deliberately slowing - this seems easier than expected. The briefs stick in my head for some reason.

Much faster progress than learning Qwerty or Dvorak; not sure why. Mostly it's like learning all your major and minor scales on the piano: relax, go ... slow, and relax some more.

Mirabai Knight said...

Yes, the keytoppers help enormously with G-, Z-, and -J. And they fit beautifully on my Majestouch. So glad to hear you're enjoying steno! It really is like learning a musical instrument, isn't it? :'D

Arthaey Angosii said...

I have a Sidewinder. I would love a set of these! Where can I get them? Are they soft foam or hard plastic?

Mirabai Knight said...

Hard plastic. I'll be ordering another batch and setting up an online Plover store hopefully in the next few weeks. (':

antechno777 said...

Looking forward to a professional chart, this is what I've been using: http://db.tt/slrDJrr6

Anonymous said...

If a beginner were to learn steno with these keytoppers on the gaming keyboard, would it be easy later on to switch over to a steno machine? And would this type of keyboard just plug into my Mac? What a great idea.

Mirabai Knight said...

Personally, I find it pretty easy to switch from the Sidewinder-with-keytoppers rig to my proprietary steno machine and back again, but I've heard that some people who've started on traditional steno machines find the Sidewinder version kind of stilted. I think it would probably be easier to start on the Sidewinder and go to the professional machine, but I don't have any hard data on that.

Anonymous said...

I would like to order a set of keytoppers, but I would like a set of 30 (instead of 24), for the correct price, of course. Is this possible?
Also, how difficult is to stick the keytoppers on Microsoft's Sidewinter?

Mirabai Knight said...

Anonymous: I'm sure that InAFlash laser would be happy to help you out! Just email them: info@inaflashlaser.com

It's really easy sticking the keys on the keyboard; they come with little foam squares. You just peel off the backing, stick the foam on the keyboard, and then stick the keys on the foam. Easy as anything.

Susanne Wheeler said...

Your laser cut keys are awesome, what sticker did you use?

Sara at Inaflashlaser.com said...

This is the best place we've found to get the stickers:

http://www.createforless.com/3l-scrapbook-adhesives-3d-foam-squares-126-pc.-1/2-in.-black/pid146263.aspx

Robert Fontaine said...

These PBT flat keys might also be good for cherry mx switches and being able to use the keyboard for qwerty interchangeably.

http://keyshop.pimpmykeyboard.com/products/specialty-custom-keys/flat-keys

Mirabai Knight said...

Ah, nice! Definitely posting that in my next link roundup! Thank you!

jd sanc said...

Just stumbled on your site. I'm a 50yr old court reporter looking to get back into the field and I'm totally blown away by what you have achieved!! You and your team are absolutely amazing!! I can only imagine the doors this will open for people!! Off to watch your video and learn some more about your venture!

Mirabai Knight said...

Aw, thanks so much for the kind words!

This video is probably the best demonstration of how I use Plover with a free text editor called Vim to provide captioning every day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuVUGKBOp9Q