Friday, February 19, 2016

Please Take The Third Annual OSP Community Survey!

Click Here To Take The Open Steno Project Community Survey!

It's just 14 questions, and should take you no more than a minute or two. Because we're about to launch the Steno Arcade crowdfunding campaign (stay tuned for that!), I wanted to get some demographic data to show new people who are curious about the makeup of our community. We're particularly interested in how many Plover users have exceeded their regular typing speed and how long it took, since that's always the first question people tend to ask. Just go fill it out real quick, and please feel free to give us any comments you might have about our software, hardware, or community resources. It's always so amazing to hear from all of you. Many, many thanks!

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Zalman ZM-K600S - NKRO at $40?

This $40 keyboard claims to have n-key rollover via USB. Can it be true?! Do we finally have a reliable low-cost successor to the Sidewinder X4?! Man, I hope so. It's been a long time coming. If anyone has tested one of these puppies out and found that it has at least 16-key rollover with Plover over USB, please let us know! I'd love to have a $40 entry point into steno again, after many long years hovering around $100.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Seeking Input on New Plover Icon Art

Over on the Plover Github, Ted's got a conversation going about updating the tired old Plover "P", which was a bit of placeholder art that somehow never got updated when Plover first got going over six years ago. Here are some possible options:

Ted's been rocking the commits lately, and a new version is imminent (I've been working with a development build for the last three months and loving it -- especially the ability to output Greek letters to Aloft for the physics class I'm captioning!). So we've got to hammer down the art issue as soon as possible. If you've got any opinions on what color to paint this particular bike shed, or if you've got art ideas -- or actual art -- of your own to offer, please speak up! The more input we can get, the better.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Plover Parser

Ted, our amazing lead developer, has done it again:

Github Page for The Plover Parser

The Plover Parser will read through your Plover stroke/definition log files (assuming that you've got logging enabled), compare them with a wordlist of the 10,000 most common English words (or, optionally, a wordlist that you provide, such as a medical dictionary, if you want to search for more specific matches), then compile a frequency list of which strokes you used most often for which translation during the span of time covered by the logs.

If you're interested, you can look over the reports for my counts (arranged by commonality of translation in English) and stats (arranged by the number of times each stroke appears in the logs). My log files go from last November to yesterday, and the parser found that I used 6,000 of the 10,000 included in the wordlist over that time.

Why is this useful, beyond just idle curiosity? A lot of steno beginners get confused by the number of misstrokes in the default Plover dictionary, especially when using lookup apps like StenoTray. They're not able to quickly distinguish a "canonical" stroke from a "misstroke", and they worry about learning the wrong one. Now, I'm not sure that's as big a problem as some people think it is; in my opinion, the only thing that distinguishes a misstroke from a brief is how easy it is to memorize. I don't want to take misstrokes out of the default dictionary, because they're very useful to have in there once you get a little speed under your belt. But for people who want to learn how steno works by learning the "canonical" strokes, this is a really easy way of separating the strokes I use deliberately day after day after day from the ones that come from a random, occasional slip of the finger, even though they translate just as correctly. So all we have to do is scrape the most used stroke from that list of 6,000 common words, and we've built ourselves a clean pedagogical dictionary for beginners who are intimidated by the full messy scope of the official Plover dictionary. It'll also be useful for building levels in Steno Arcade.

If you want to scrape your own logs and get a snapshot of your own writing style, feel free to use Ted's script and let us know what you come up with! I think it's a very cool project.