Thursday, July 20, 2017

I Now Own an NKRO Laptop!

My old Lenovo Helix is getting alarmingly long in the tooth, so I bought an Alienware 13 for about $1,000 on Amazon two days ago. It arrived last night, and this morning I tried it with Plover for the first time. Sure enough, its keyboard has proven to be fully NKRO! Woohoo! Obviously it requires quite a bit more force than my Infinity or even my StenoMod (which is about the size and weight of the Alienware's ridiculously massive power brick!) but the keys are nicely flat, and I find that I don't actually notice the staggering all that much. I used it to converse a bit with friends on the Plover Discord during my break and found it surprisingly comfortable! It'll be a real asset when transcribing on the subway, at the very least, and while it'll never replace a professional machine, it'll let me use Plover more often for casual computer use, which is excellent. All in all, I'm quite pleased that truly NKRO laptops are actually a thing now, even if they tend to be a little on the pricey side. These are all just first impressions, but so far I must say I recommend it!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Playing Catchup

I haven't been good at keeping up with the amazing things that have been happening in the open steno world! So here's a quick rundown!
  • Excitingly, the For All To Play team has released a new version of Steno Arcade on Steam! It includes new songs, new animated audience members, and a first pass at screen reader support! There's still a bit more to go before they deliver everything promised in the crowdfunding campaign, but this is a significant advance from the previous version.
  • The Hackathon resulted in a basic sketch for what I think could be a fantastic beginner-level steno tutorial game. It's a sort of combination top-down RPG, adventure game, and quickfire typing game. We're calling it Stenomancer, and you can read all about it on our lead developer Yianna's GitHub page. We've also got a channel for it on the Plover Discord, so feel free to drop by there if you want to help brainstorm ideas for it.
  • Speaking of resources for beginners, our multitalented lead dev Ted has been working on a new entry level steno theory book. It's still in progress, but I love what he's got so far.
  • Gaming laptops are finally, finally coming out with enough rollover to use steno. The ROG Zephyrus GX501 from Asus costs a pretty penny, but if you want portable steno without wrangling an external keyboard, it's probably your best bet.
  • And one more bit of steno gaming news: The popular competitive typing site Typeracer has opened up its monthly championship to people using steno! We get a separate leaderboard and everything. Two months ago I narrowly squeaked by dark horse self-taught steno whiz John, and last month he beat me, 98.91% to 97.88%! Gonna do my damnedest to reclaim the title this month if I can, but John is a force of nature, so there are no guarantees. If you want to join, make sure you include "plover" or "steno" in your user and/or display name, and install a Tampermonkey script to get around Typeracer's frustrating steno-unfriendly input length limit (which they've promised to fix in future updates).