Thursday, October 29, 2015

Movement/Editing Dictionaries

Okay, so the exciting announcement got put on hold one more time, but I promise it's in the works. More very soon.

In the mean time, I've got some excellent little mini-dictionaries to tide you over!

You remember, of course, Ted's Modifier Dictionary, which lets you hit any combination of metakeys using a simple, consistent formula.

But now we also have Achim's mini-editing dictionary:
"P*RB": "{^}{#Up}{^}",
"W*RB": "{^}{#Down}{^}",
"K*RB": "{^}{#Left}{^}",
"R*RB": "{^}{#Right}{^}",
"P*RBLG": "{^}{#Shift_L(Up)}{^}",
"W*RBLG": "{^}{#Shift_L(Down)}{^}",
"K*RBLG": "{^}{#Shift_L(Left)}{^}",
"R*RBLG": "{^}{#Shift_L(Right)}{^}",
"P*RBLGS": "{^}{#Shift_L(Alt_L(Up))}{^}",
"W*RBLGS": "{^}{#Shift_L(Alt_L(Down))}{^}",
"K*RBLGS": "{^}{#Shift_L(Alt_L(Left))}{^}",
"R*RBLGS": "{^}{#Shift_L(Alt_L(Right))}{^}",
"P*RPB": "{^}{#Super_L(Up)}{^}",
"W*RPB": "{^}{#Super_L(Down)}{^}",
"K*RPB": "{^}{#Super_L(Left)}{^}",
"R*RPB": "{^}{#Super_L(Right)}{^}",
"P*RBLT": "{^}{#Alt_L(Up)}{^}",
"W*RBLT": "{^}{#Alt_L(Down)}{^}",
"K*RBLT": "{^}{#Alt_L(Left)}{^}",
"R*RBLT": "{^}{#Alt_L(Right)}{^}",
"P*RLGTS": "{^}{#Control_L(Alt_L(Up))}{^}",
"W*RLGTS": "{^}{#Control_L(Alt_L(Down))}{^}",
"K*RLGTS": "{^}{#Control_L(Alt_L(Left))}{^}",
"R*RLGTS": "{^}{#Control_L(Alt_L(Right))}{^}",
Plus he mentions his command for Spotlight on Mac:
"SKWR": "{^}{#Control_L(space)}{^}",
Ted counters with his own command for Spotlight:
"SP-LT": "{#Super_L(space)}{^}",
while I, as a Windows user, have my own stroke for a similar app called Launchy:
"KHRAUFRPB": "{#Alt_L(l)}{^}",
And Di offers up another ingenious method for navigating through documents and deleting characters, words, and lines in every direction:
- STPH- and P,R,B,G for arrows
- STPH- and RB,BG for left/right a whole word
- KPH- and P,R,B,G for Super/Command (KM) and arrows for a whole line or to top/bottom
- STP- and P,R,B,G for Shift (SF) and arrows
- STP- and RB,BG for Shift (S) left/right a whole word
- SHR- and P,R,B,G for Shift (S), Option/Alt (L) and arrows (an extra way to get the last 2 shortcuts too)
- PW* and F, FP, FPL for backspacing a character, word or line
- PW* and R, RB, RBG for forward deleting a character, word or line
I think my own steno navigation muscle memory is too ingrained to train myself into something new like that, and I'm almost always in Vim, where I can use w and b to navigate by word and dd to delete a line, but that's a seriously cool use of the steno layout to manipulate text. I'm impressed.

More on the Google Groups thread in question.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Mini-Stenosaurus Update

Exciting announcement is still under wraps (hopefully coming very soon!), but in the mean time, have some pictures of the Stenosaurus assembled PCB:
Josh came into NYC last weekend for a whirlwind trip, and I was able to spend about an hour with him in a Brooklyn cafe playing with the PCB and talking about the current timeline for the project. He's said previously that he'll eat his hat if the campaign doesn't launch in 2015, and he confirmed that he'll be sticking to that promise. (He had his hat with him in the cafe. I must say it didn't look very appetizing.) The designer he's collaborating with is still finalizing the plan for the bamboo-aluminum case and keytoppers, and Josh hasn't yet had a chance to test the PCB and make sure that it's working as it should, but he says both of those things should be happening quite soon. Even without the keytoppers, I was able to get a good feel for the action of the switches. Their actuation point is nice and light, and they're deep enough to give satisfying haptic feedback with each press (unlike the very shallow Stenoboard keys, which sometimes require you to pound a bit to make sure you've actuated them). I found them very comfortable; much more so than any NKRO qwerty keyboard I've tried, though still of course not at the level of the ridiculously expensive lever-based optical professional steno systems. But considering that the price is still expected to be around $300, that's pretty dang impressive. I'm very excited. We've just gotta wait for the testing on Josh's end (fingers crossed everything works and nothing needs to be redesigned!), the finalization of the case design, and the pricing out of manufacturing and assembly costs. Stay tuned for more as it develops!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Miscellany Before The Storm

I have an extremely exciting announcement waiting in the wings, but before then, a few assorted items:

There's a new ergonomic NKRO keyboard campaign on Crowd Supply (the company that will be offering the Stenosaurus in the near future; Plover's original co-founder Josh Lifton is one of its founders). Like the Keyboardio and Ergodox, it combines a split design with mechanical keyswitches, but is much cheaper than the former and comes fully assembled, unlike the latter. It also has a nice compact design that can be compressed and expanded at will. If you're comfortable using a staggered-column qwerty layout for both steno and qwerty without laser-cut keytoppers, this could be an excellent choice.

Achim has been awesome over on the Aviary lately, releasing a new version of his dictionary lookup utility and recording some steno dictation from an old public domain stenotypy book. Great stuff!

Also, yesterday clickclack123 on the Google Group asked the perennial question:

I know this must have been asked a million times before, but how long would I expect it to take to learn steno??

ATM I'm almost a total beginner, I've done the first lesson in Learn Plover! but I keep redoing it as I still haven't memorized where the keys are.

I type at about 70wpm using the Dvorak layout, and I'm just trying to get an idea of how long I could expect it to take me to get to that level assuming about 4 days a week of 30 minutes at a time learning and practicing using Plover.

And Ted gave what I think is a pretty dang satisfying answer:

It changes so much, person to person! I'd say at either end you could be a quick learner and have it down in a month, or slowly 70WPM would be near guaranteed in 6 months (with that amount of practice time.)

I'm attaching a screenshot of my first year on TypeRacer using Plover. It took me 3 months to average 70, and I hovered there for about another 3 months. Definitely didn't do 30 minutes a day for 4 days a week during that time, though. So it could very well go faster for you.

There is more fun to it than speed, too :) comfort is HUGE

Along with the following chart:

I'd like to get some more data on the average time to 70 WPM, but I feel like that's a pretty good thumbnail to start with.

Finally, some inspiring comments from the Aviary and the Plover Blog comments.

From twaltzing:

just wanted to write and say how much I am enjoying learning to steno. Today is my third day. Of course I am just using diff rent words if I can not sound out the one I want, but the lessons are very good and it is not too hard as long as I pick short words. I am looking for ward to getting faster and figuring out more and longer words. But I was able to write this with steno, though some of the words, like steno, had to be finger spelled. That is a hard 1 to figure out. Now I need some emojis... Okay that took like ten minutes...

and on the following day...

well, it is just so fun, and the more you do it, the easier it gets.

I have never been a person to follow long courses, so today I threw caution to the wind, read the rest of your awesome lesson, and had every good intention to practice like a good girl, but you know, I did have that hour history lecture staring me in the face, calling me. Hey, you... I bet there are tons of cool pre- fixes to play with in me... So two hours later, I finished nearly five minutes of it. Ha ha. At this rate there will be two or three more presidents before I finish it, since it's 63 minutes long, but it is getting easier and easier to spell, I am getting much faster, and heck, an unsuss... unspeck tinge... A come pan y company omg that was a wrong stroke for a space but it was the brief for company... Well a company that has no clue is paying me to learn sten no...and I feel a big raise in my future, although it's probably the some what distant future.

I am guessing about 15 words per minute at this point. But very satisifying when you guess something right.

The above was written without looking stuff up, in about 15 minutes, counting letting the dog out. But to be fair, he is quite a fast dog,

From Anonymous:

To everyone working/who has worked on Plover, I owe you a huge thanks. You've given me the opportunity to work, practice, and do things three years ago I would have never dreamed possible. I credit Plover with providing me THE crucial tool I needed to increase my income substantially. Plover has allowed me to wake up every morning excited to do something I love. (Offline broadcast captioning) This would have been out of my reach without all the hard work all of you have put into Plover. You, all of you, have changed my life, and because of your hard work, you are helping me change some of my friends' lives. There aren't enough thanks in the world, but thank you so very much. You are my heroes!

Not gonna lie, I kinda choked up for a second when I read that one. Plover users are the BEST!!!