Monday, April 29, 2013

StenoTray, Treal, and Tail

Little by little, Plover is transforming from a one-man band (initiated by Josh, taken over by Hesky) into a truly collaborative project. We've got new coders writing utilities and features for it all the time. The latest is StenoTray, by Brent. It's a Java utility that scans Plover's stroke log and dictionary to remind users how to stroke certain words. Just stroke out a word part or fingerspell at least four letters of the word you want to write, and StenoTray will show you how to do the rest. Here I'm trying to figure out how to write "antidisestablishmentarianism", and it handily reminds me that I've got a single one-stroke brief for it (SMA*IRM).

You can configure it to show you either raw steno or pseudosteno, depending on how comfortable you are with transliterating the letters on the keyboard; in raw steno mode, it would show you SPHAEURPL instead. StenoTray works in Windows, Mac, and Linux, and it's an invaluable utility for both steno newbies and advanced users. Check it out!

A few other exciting updates:

* Hesky has now implemented compatibility with the Treal steno machine, so if you've got one, you're in luck.

* If you want to view your raw steno notes as you write, there are now instructions on the Wiki. Linux and Mac users use the terminal, while Windows users need to download a free program called BareTail.

* John Keyes, the former owner of the @plover Twitter account, has generously signed it over to us, so if you want to receive pure, unadulterated Plover information on your Twitter feed (as opposed to the mixed Plover, CART, steno, day-in-the-life, and accessibility tweets you get on my stenoknight account), feel free to follow @plover.

* Also, just a reminder about The Plover Aviary, our user forum. Its focus is a bit different from that of the Plover Google Group, which is mostly feature requests, bug reports, and conversations about the future of Plover development. The Aviary is more for Plover users to talk about the best ways of learning steno, different steno theories, and record their daily practice log; that sort of thing. It was pretty quiet for a long time after its inception, but it's definitely been heating up in recent weeks, so feel free to give it a try.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Plover Lookup!

An extremely useful new tool has arrived on the Plover scene:

Plover Lookup!

It's a new tool by longtime Plover friend Zerk, brought about by this Aviary thread discussing how to decide which of the many steno outlines matched to a given word in Plover's default dictionary should be used by a novice steno learner. I made a canonical dictionary for Fly, Plover's Linux-only tutorial and drilling tool, but Zerk has upped the ante by including not only the canonical dictionary but also an automatically generated phonetic dictionary as well. It also lists strokes that aren't defined as canonical, alternate, brief, or phonetic, since none of us are patient enough to dig through and categorize the entire 160,000-word dictionary, and it's pretty impossible to write an automatic algorithm that can cover every intricacy of steno. I think this tool will help save a lot of new Plover users a whole lot of frustration. Thanks, Zerk!