Friday, July 12, 2019

Two TinyMods and a Georgi



I've got two lightspringed TinyMods and a newly reinforced Georgi to try out! Reviews coming shortly.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Quick Tip to Stenofy Popular Typing Game

Epistory header image: a fantasy figure on a horse

Jessica on the Plover Google Group writes:
Hey, just wanted to let anybody who's trying to practice while playing games that Epistory Typing Chronicles will work with Plover if you change the input setting from "enter" to "space" in Epistory and also have your space follow your stroke in Plover.

I also found out today that you can mod the Epistory dictionary, which would be a nice way to get some practice in of specific briefs, but the included dictionary is also a nice run for your money, with fingerspelling required for a lot of it.

People have been vexed in the past that Epistory wasn't Plover-compatible, so it's very cool to see that it's possible to make it work! I relied on typing games like Typestriker to get through steno school, so I'm really happy to see that the well-regarded Epistory can finally be used as a tool for steno learning.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Where's That Georgi Review?

I know I've kept y'all waiting for it for quite some time, but the truth is, the initial design of the Georgi featured connectors that were a bit fragile and unstable, and that's been a bit of a barrier to use for both me and several other Georgi customers. Germ is fixing them as they're returned to him, and all new units are being shipped out with reinforced connectors so that the problem doesn't recur, but I'm waiting to test the new model before I give my full review. Spoiler alert: The design in general is pretty dang fantastic, and if the solution he's come up with to stabilize the connectors actually works, this is gonna be a world class little machine.

ETA: Check out this video Georgi made of the newly redesigned connectors:

(Content note: Video contains some exultant F-bombs; those of delicate sensibilities might prefer to watch without sound.)

Friday, June 21, 2019

New Online Steno Diagram Generator

animated steno diagramstatic steno diagram

Di is on fire lately. Not only does she have a new interaction design book available for preorder, but she also made this online steno diagram generator that takes both mouse and qwerty input and can be great both for generating great-looking steno stroke diagrams (downloadable as SVGs) and for demonstrating how steno works in a quick and easy way to curious newbies. Check it out!

Friday, June 14, 2019

New Typey Type Features

Di's ever-improving steno tutorial and drilling site, Typey Type for Stenographers, now has flashcards, plus three new lessons: a new introduction, Roman numerals, and top 200 words spoken on TV. Fantastic work as always, Di!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Free Dictation

Longtime Plover ally and professional stenographer Christopher Day has been recording and uploading dictation suitable for steno practice, at speeds ranging from 60 to 220 words per minute. If you've been looking to supplement text practice with audio practice, give his YouTube playlist a shot!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Steno Vimitation



Check out this video of Codepoke's steno workflow using his new Vimitation dictionary! Codepoke says:

Combining steno with Windows shortcuts creates a "best of both worlds" situation, for those willing to take the time. Deleting chars, words, and lines, moving within a document, and switching between programs can all be done with a single stroke, and without straining for hard-to-reach function keys. Commands can even be made to repeat from 2-10 times by adding just one stroke. Deleting 3 words in vim is a 3-stroker. Doing so with the vimitation dictionary is a 2-stroker.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Finger Drill Generator by Stenonymous

Hey, check out this finger drill generator, if you're a steno student or educator who wants some automatically generated drills to practice on. Thanks, Stenonymous!

Friday, May 17, 2019

New SOFT/HRUF in the Works

I got my Georgi last week and have been really enjoying it, but I want to give myself a little more time to put it through its paces before posting a full review. Hot on the heels of the newcomer, though, was a tantalizing preview of Ecca's latest SOFT/HRUF posted on the Plover Discord:

image of new softhruf

* currently micro USB but final one will be type-c
* micro SD slot for plover files + dictionary
* fully wired or wireless
* smaller interconnect cable between the halves if you want to use wired, but it is also wireless between the halves
* uses standard 18650 cells in a carrier that lets you pop out batteries and replace them at any time without tools

The SOFT/HRUF has always taken the cake in terms of keyfeel due to its custom steno-shaped keytoppers, but it looks like it's also going to be the first in the steno hobbyist market to work as a self-contained machine without necessitating a laptop. The wireless features and battery are also unique among non-proprietary machines, and I'm really excited to see it in action. I'm so impressed by all three major manufacturers of sub-$500 steno machines, and I can't wait to see what the future will bring for all three of them.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Steno at the Venice Biennale

From our amazing Italian steno friend Sillabix, a report about a video art project featuring an Italian stenographer on a Michela keyboard, displayed at this year's Venice Biennale:

hands on a Michela keyboard

Angelica Mesiti's exhibition ASSEMBLY opens with the Michela machine, a 19th century stenographic machine, modeled on a piano keyboard, which is used in the Italian Senate for official parliamentary reporting to ensure transparency within the democratic process. The machine's inventor, Antonio Michela Zucco, was originally inspired by musical notation as a universal language. Mesiti uses this device to code "To Be Written in Another Tongue", a poem by David Malouf, which is then arranged into a musical score by composer Max Lyandvert, and played by an ensemble of musicians, whilst performers, representing the multitude of ancestries that make up cosmopolitan Australia, gather, disassemble, and re-unite.


I was unable to find anything about Plover in particular in the press materials for the event, but Sillabix said "The Venice Biennale Art exhibition started today: thank you Australia for promoting steno (& Plover)," so I'm wondering if the exhibition might have been partially Plover-powered? Extremely cool if so, but even if not, I love seeing what happens whenever steno and art combine.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Plover at PyCon 2019!

me demonstrating Plover at a table in a big conference room
Photo by Francesca Guiducci

Hey, remember when I gave a talk on Plover at PyCon Santa Clara back in 2013? Well, at long last I'm back at PyCon, this time in Cleveland, and not talking but captioning, along with four of my colleagues at White Coat Captioning, including fellow Plover user Stan Sakai! We've already met up with at least one Ploverite friend from the Discord, which was delightful, and we've been giving demos of the wonders of steno during breaks to anyone who wanders by our tables. If you're at PyCon too, please feel free to stop by! I love talking about our glorious little Python-powered steno app and showing off an array of steno hardware both proprietary (Infinity, Luminex, Alienware keyboard) and open (TinyMod and StenoMod; sadly my Georgi didn't arrive in time for me to bring it.) I'm having a blast, and I'd love to meet anyone else who might be interested in steno, whether they've already dipped a toe into the hobby or it's totally new to them. Open Steno's come a heck of a long way since 2013, and I'm so grateful to Python community and our amazing developers (Josh, Hesky, Ted, Benoit Pierre, and so many others) who've helped to make it what it is today.

Friday, April 26, 2019

TinyMod 3 Is Out!

There's a new TinyMod available!

The ever-magnificent Charley says:
Another change to the TinyMod. I've moved the thumb keys 5.5mm further from the row of keys above. I think it's more comfortable this way.

Since I was laying out a new board anyway, I also redid the wiring. Now every key is wired separately, including the S- keys and the asterisk keys. I'm still using TX Bolt as the serial protocol, so you can't tell there. But using the NKRO keyboard protocol you could make use of them in Plover. Of course, hacking your own firmware you can do whatever you like!

The boards are just a little bit longer and wider, but not much. The microcontroller has moved from the right side to the left, but is still covered by the top PCB. The slider switch for choosing the protocol is also now on the left side.

It's different firmware because of the change in wiring, but the functions are the same. You shouldn't notice any difference there.

The price is the same, $160USD for the keyboard, $7.90 shipping in the US, about $24 for most of the rest of the world. Sales tax $11.60 if you're in California like I am.

If you're in the mood for some new steno hardware, this seems like an extremely promising contender. I love my TinyMod 2, and this looks even better. Bravo, Charley!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Rose's Adorable Georgi Mounts

Georgi on a wooden platform on a tiny tripodGeorgi on a wooden platform on a tiny tripod

Check out these two adorable tiny tripod mounts that Rose from the Plover Discord rigged up for her Georgi! (Speaking of which... Mine is coming soon, and I'm SO EXCITED to play with it and give it a thorough review!) This is just a proof of concept; she's ordered a two suction-cup camera tripods that will replace the little leggy tripods, but either version seems like it would work in a pinch. I just find individual tripods and platforms for each side of a tiny machine like a Georgi irresistibly adorable, and the fact that it's also ergonomic and practical is just a bonus. Nice work, Rose!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Steno-Compatible (?) Torturous Typing Game

As a video game nerd married to a Classicist, I'm duty bound to pass along this link that was posted in the Plover Discord to Let's Play: Ancient Greek Punishment Teaches Typing, a new free browser-based typing game that puts you through all sorts of pixelated unpleasantries in the name of mythology and manual dexterity. I tried my hand at the first level with Plover on my Alienware and ran into some difficulties, but I wasn't sure whether that was an issue with the game not being fully steno-compatible (since of course it wasn't designed with steno in mind) or whether it was just operating as intended, given its doom-laden premise. Feel free to give it a try and report back with your own conclusions!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Take the Steno Hardware Survey

Varun from the Plover Discord writes:

We're a group of engineering undergraduate students from National University of Singapore. This survey was created to better understand the needs of the persons who use a stenotype (Professional stenographers/live captioners/hobbyists/students). We would really appreciate it if you could spare some of your time to help us. Thanks :)

Take the Steno Survey to tell them what you look for in steno hardware!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Three Phonemes, One Syllable, One Lesson

Just a real quickie this week: A custom lesson for Typey Type by UnderSampled of the Plover Discord that contains single-syllable words with three phonemes apiece, a particularly satisfying subset of steno strokes to write out one after the other, particularly if you're a fairly new steno learner. UnderSampled has also been compiling automated lists of steno strokes that map perfectly to English output without requiring any knowledge reading multi-key steno letters (such as WOBLD for wobbled, PREFRBL for preferable, and THRETS for threats), which might be useful for even the most novice users, and which will probably appear as Typey Type lessons in the near future after a bit of manual review. I could definitely see myself teaching a handful of these in a beginning workshop, so I'm really grateful to have gotten a nicely exhaustive list to pick from. Many thanks to UnderSampled for the work!

Friday, March 22, 2019

NYC Plover Meetup this Monday

If you're in New York City and want to join a handful of Open Steno fans in Upper Manhattan this Monday evening at 7pm, drop me a line for location information. We're gonna be showing off our machines, maybe doing some TypeRacing, and generally enthusing about all things steno, so if that sounds fun to you, please join us!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Japanese Layout Plover Lessons on Typey Type!

From the ever-amazing Di of Typey Type for Stenographers:
Japanese steno layout
For the Japanese speaking stenographers out there, there’s a Japanese steno layout available on Typey Type using Dawson Harvey's Japanese steno theory. You can try out the Japanese steno theory using a custom lesson on Typey Type like one from the community’s lessons.


Seriously cool stuff! Apparently Dawson is still tweaking the theory, so tune in to the Discord for latest developments, but if you're interested in a homebrew Japanese steno theory, this should be enough to get you started!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Plover on the Sensel Morph

The Sensel Morph with a theraband steno overlay



Check out this beautiful video from ElephantEars on the Plover Discord of the Sensel Morph writing sentences from StenoJig with a custom theraband overlay, a homegrown app, and Plover's MIDI protocol. Truly magnificent stuff! ElephantEars has promised to write a guest post for this blog with all the fascinating details, but I couldn't resist sharing the video as a teaser for what's to come. The Sensel Morph is about $300, so it's not the cheapest amateur steno hardware option out there, but it sure is an elegant piece of gear.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Guest Post from Di: Typey Type Recommendations!

Typey Type Recommendations

I'm so excited to share Typey Type's new recommendations! This aims to help steno students focus their efforts: you'll know exactly which lesson to do next and how much time to spend on learning new words versus practicing previous words.

Screenshot of Typey Type's recommended practice lesson “The Wolf and the Kid”. “Practice  a longer lesson and mimic real usage as closely as possible. Write as fast as you can without causing misstrokes. Explore classic stories that use simple sentences and common words.”

Study session recommendations

Some people ask questions about how much to revise a lesson before moving onto the next and which stories to do after which lessons. These recommendations were made to help answer those questions and guide people through.

The recommendations include suggestions for stories to practice, memorised words to drill, words to revise, new lessons to discover, and games to try. After each study session, it's recommended that you take a break before continuing on, with a little bit of randomness injected to keep you interested.

The course

The course steps you quickly through the fundamental lessons so you can practice a few words of each as you learn the theory. It then concentrates on top words and briefs to give you more bang for buck. As your vocabulary grows, you'll start to see more suggestions for stories and sentences to practice your skills.

Practice

Practice a longer lesson and mimic real usage as closely as possible. Write as fast as you can without causing misstrokes. Explore classic stories that use simple sentences and common words.

Typey Type suggests stories and lessons containing real sentences to practice, as well as tailored practice for you using all the words you've seen so far.

Drill

Regularly drill common words to build up your muscle memory and test your skills. Write as fast and furiously as you can, aiming for a high speed score. Pick specific drills that focus on a certain kind of brief or many similar words so you can associate them together.

Typey Type suggests top words and "Your memorised words" for you to drill.

Revise

Revise 50 briefs a day from a lesson with loads of words you want to memorise, like the top 10000 English words. Try to recall the briefs before revealing their strokes. Avoid fingerspelling or writing out the long forms of words, so you can memorise the best brief for every word.

Typey Type suggests top words and "Your revision words" for you to revise.

Discover

Discover 5–15 new briefs a day from various lessons, revealing their strokes as you learn to write them. Write them slowly, concentrating on accuracy and forming good habits around how you stroke word parts.

Typey Type suggests the first 15 words or so of each fundamental lesson to follow along as you learn the theory. It then suggests the top 100 most frequent words to help get you operational with stenography as quickly as possible. After that it makes smart recommendations based on what you've learned.

Play a game

You’ve been so diligent! You might take a break from drilling and try a game.

So far, Typey Type recommends two possible games to build your speed: TypeRacer to increase your speed while racing against others, and Cargo Crisis to increase your speed while breaking cargo.

Take a break

Well done! You’ve typed a lot of words today. You might rest your hands and your mind for now. Save your progress and take 5 minutes or come back in 4+ hours.

It's important to take breaks while practicing stenography. If you don't break, after a while your performance starts dropping anyway and you might reinforce bad habits. Mentally, taking a break helps the new stuff settle in. Meanwhile, taking a break can also help for ergonomic reasons, avoiding injury.

Try it out and share your thoughts

Review your progress and take a recommendation. If you want to help make Typey Type better, you can fill out this survey about Typey Type recommendations.

And remember to take a break!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Georgis Are Almost Here

I'm so excited about the Georgi, a fully assembled split steno/qwerty keyboard that will sell for $75 with ultra-ultralight springs. I posted about it a while back, but the boards are actually here and working, which is tremendously exciting:

georgi keyboard
georgi keyboard

Check out those beautiful birds!

Germ at gboards.ca is just waiting for the 6-gram springs to arrive, plus he's gonna do some custom firmware tweaks to make the boards accessible to people who aren't comfortable with using QMK out of the box. But soon after those things happen, I'll have mine, and I can't freaking WAIT to try it out.
I'll probably use it for steno only, but for people who like it both ways, Germ says:

Georgi does hotswapping between normal operation and steno. Or pure of either if you configure it. In QWERTY mode any unrecognized chords are whacked out as steno to the host so you can hook plover for weird sh*t and augment your workflow. There’s just a toggle key for that and a momentary symbol key in an additional left hand column. It’s rad.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Small StenoFest Plug

If you're interested in various steno topics from a primarily professional perspective, you might find it worthwhile to pay $65 for rewatch-on-demand sessions from StenoFest, the virtual steno conference Ted and I participated in last weekend. Ted and I will be releasing our talks for free after the view-on-demand period is over, so if all you're interested in is open source steno (him) or the future of stenocaptioning in the face of automated speech recognition (me), cool your britches; they'll be up on YouTube soon. If you're interested in Dom Tursi's talk on the Evolution of Machine Shorthand, Jade King's talk on International Reporting, Tori Pittman's talk on Intersteno, or any of the other 15-odd hours of content, feel free to give it a go. The talks will be available on demand until February 17th and then lord knows what will happen to most of them (from what I understand, most speakers are not intending to release their video for free), so get while the getting's good.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Michela English Theory

diagram of Michela MIDI keyboard If you've ever wanted to do realtime on a MIDI keyboard, check out Sillabix's documentation of his newly devised Michela theory for English! I think I'm already too deep into traditional steno to be able to commit to learning something like this, but at a glance it certainly seems to have merit! He's also accepting feedback via the Plover Discord, so feel free to drop him a line if you've got any questions, comments, or suggestions. Very cool stuff.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Exploring Custom Steno Machines



A fantastic followup to last week's article about professional steno machines, Thomas's article on Custom/DIY/Hobbyist steno machines was just released yesterday on his blog, including a write-up on the fantastic new Georgi a fully assembled split-layout machine with 20g ultralight springs, now available for preorder at a stunning $75! I can't wait to receive mine, and will definitely give it a full report on this blog after putting it through its paces. It's been so amazing to watch the low-cost custom steno hardware field exploding in the past few years, and I'm so grateful to Thomas for putting together such a concise and beautifully written profile on everything that's currently available. Thanks, Thomas!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Exploring Professional Steno Machines

I wanted to point you to an article by new Plover user Thomas, where he explores various steno machines intended for professionals. It's the first in a series, and next he intends to do a survey of the amateur hardware sector, mostly made by members of the open steno community. Great stuff from a novel perspective, and I'm looking forward to reading more!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Some Cool Little Dictionaries

There's been a ton of stuff happening on the Plover Discord lately, involving MIDI-based English shorthand theories, ultralight key switches, wearable Ergodox harnesses -- almost too much to keep up with sometimes! But today I just wanted to highlight a few cool dictionaries, posted by their creators in the course of conversation over the past few days.

First up, Elzed's punctuation chart, a devilishly clever way to construct many common types of punctuation in a systematic way.

Then Jeremy's machine generated phrase dictionary, which is as exhaustive as it is impressive.

And finally, SyntaxBlitz's short but sweet dictionary of definitions with symmetrical strokes, extracted from the Plover default dictionary. Might be fun to use for finger drills sometime!

That's it for now. Stay tuned for an extremely exciting blog post coming soon from lead dev Ted!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Call for Contributors

Many of us are on the quite stable and feature-rich but officially pre-release Version 4 of Plover. In order to turn it into an official release, though, we need to resolve some issues (labeled with '4.0.0' on our Github repo), and our current devs are a bit overstretched at the moment. If you have some Python experience (it doesn't have to be a ton!) and feel like wading in to tackle one or two of those issues, they'd be extremely obliged! Being able to ship Version 4 as an official release would be amazing.