Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dictionary Converter!

I just got back from a trip to Missoula and Seattle yesterday, so I've got to apologize for not being on top of Plover stuff for the past few weeks, but I had to check in to let you guys know about something pretty exciting. I know a few professional stenographers and steno students have been following Plover for a while, but they haven't had the chance to get their feet wet with it, because until now there hasn't been a way to easily convert their own dictionaries from rtf/cre format (which is the universal format exported by commercial steno software) into json format (which is the format used by Plover). Thanks to Hesky, our amazing lead developer, the wait is over! Introducing...

The Plover Dictionary Converter!

I haven't even gotten a chance to test it yet (though that's at the top of my list of things to do now that I'm home again), but I wanted to let everyone know about it. It's currently accessed via the command line, though I hope that we'll be able to get a more user-friendly GUI version of it eventually, and hopefully even integrate it into Plover itself. If you try it and it gives you any hassle, feel free to lodge a bug report at the github; it'll help Hesky refine it and improve it for the future. This is really going to help in bringing Plover to the court reporting, captioning, CART, and student communities, and I'm pleased as punch.

Oh, and just one more thing. The Aviary (Plover's user forum) has been pretty quiet lately, both from regular users (which isn't too unusual, since it's a pretty small community at the moment) and from spammers (which is, since until recently we were getting nearly 100 spam messages and user sign-ups per day). Happily, the latest spam-trapping tools I've put in place have proven wonderfully effective, so I've been able to remove moderation from first-time posts. If that's been holding you back from signing up for the forum, it's your lucky day. Now you can join and post unmoderated to your heart's content. I reserve the right to reinstate first-post moderation if the spam gets bad again, but here's hoping we've got those spammers licked for good. If forum-style discussion isn't your thing, there's also always the Google Group, which tends to have more technically oriented discussions about the development of Plover and the future of steno learning, rather than the day-to-day, boots-on-the-ground conversation you tend to find at the Aviary. Feel free to join either or both!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Steno Typer - New Online Steno Trainer

Many people enjoy Thomas Thurman's steno practice page, which consist of 21 sentences using the 100 most common English words, but if you've like some more practice with single words (and you don't have Linux, so you can't use Pragma Nolint's fantastic Plover trainer Fly), give Steno Typer a try:

It was written by Kitlei RĂ³bert, a computer science professor in Budapest. It draws on Plover's admittedly patchy dictionary for words, so if you see a steno translation that you don't like, feel free to skip it, or, if you prefer, download the source here and modify it to your heart's content. Eventually, I think I'll probably swap it out with the "canonical" list of words I made for Fly, which contain only steno strokes that make logical sense to people who know the theory, and don't include potentially confusing definitions like misstrokes and briefs that popped randomly out of my head without any mnemonic justification.

Oh, and I've posted about it to Twitter, but I haven't yet mentioned on this blog: Plover's going to PyCon!

My talk, Thought To Text at 240 WPM (an expansion of the one I originally gave at PyGotham in 2011) has been accepted at PyCon 2013, in Santa Clara, CA, this March. I'm really excited. So that I don't sound like a total poser, I've started going through the Python lessons at Codecademy. I'm right at the beginning, and still covering stuff I'm pretty familiar with (I've been sporadically trying to learn Python for over five years now, and each new false start leaves me with a little more knowledge than the last), but I'm hoping that by the time I reach the end of the course I'll be confident to move up to the next level, either by getting a Python tutor or by working through another self-study course. (I had fairly good luck with CodeLesson a while back, but had to quit partway through Python II due to time constraints). My brain doesn't seem to absorb this sort of thing very readily, but I'm not giving up, even if it takes another five years to figure out how to use @#&% classes.