Saturday, June 27, 2020

Video of Plover-assisted Art Installation: Assembly

Wow, remember when I blogged about Assembly, an art project featuring MIDI steno at the 2019 Venice Biennale? Our amazing Italian stenographer friend Sillabix posted actual footage of it in the Plover Discord recently! He says:
I had to study the more palatable chords to steno the poem "In another tongue" of the Australian poet David Malouf. Then they took the Midi datas outputted from the Michela and created a musical score for several instruments. Was a bit difficult because steno chords sound really close to dodecaphonic music. The coolest thing was the great versatility of Plover: without it this project wouldn't have been possible. Eclipse translation was too slow and out of sync with the midi notes recorded by the notation software. Several aspects involved and several twists to let steno and music meet together so that the notes played by all the instruments and the chorists could be an arrangement from the original steno chords.

So freaking cool!!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Read Punz's Steno Diary!

From the Discord, there's a new Steno Diary to enjoy, by new Plover learner Punz. I love this genre of journal. It's always really fun to witness the trajectory of progress, the frustrations, the pushing past the plateaus... Can't wait to read more!

Saturday, June 13, 2020

He Completed Typey Type!

Check out this fantastic blog post by someone who got 100% progress on Typey Type! It's a great read, and made me so dang happy.
And so, after five months of practice, I finally reached 100% completion, meaning I have been able to type 10,000 words without mis-strokes. I was initially worried that I was not hitting goals fast enough since I read of people who were, say, getting up to 50 words-per-minute (WPM) after just a month or two of steno practice. Maybe they had the luxury to dedicate their entire full-time schedule to stenography, or maybe they were super-geniuses, or maybe a bit of both…. Regardless, I needed to consciously ignore all this, not compare myself to anyone else (real or imagined), and just keep up the routine. It may have taken a while, but I do not mind; the journey has been beneficial and being able to hit a goal feels great!

Saturday, June 6, 2020

New Typey-Type Lessons: Proverbial Phrases!

Check out these fantastic exercises on Typey-Type using commonly known proverbs to drill your steno skills!

Unrelatedly, in the shower today I thought of the sentence "PAUL STRAPD TRUFLD WAFLS TO TWO TRUBLD RED RATS", which is not what you'd call a common proverb yet, but just give it time. I might use it in a future talk on steno for beginners, anyway. It made me giggle.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Tips on Quieting Your Georgi

When I was using my Georgi full time in classrooms last fall, I would occasionally get dirty looks at the loud clicking sound it made. I was a little hesitant to try to make it quieter, because I had added silencer clips to one of my TinyMods a while before then and had inadvertently screwed up the key recognition, so I just stared right back at all the dirty lookers, but if you're feeling awkward, you might want to try Germ's o-ring solution:

“I swear by Tape Mod + GPL103 + O-rings. The O-Rings soften the bottom out, tape softens the upstroke. Tape Mod is loops of tape around the upper housing where the stem makes contact with on return. Gets rid of the loud 'thock' on the way up. GPL103 helps dampen any remaining sound. Just try and find some thin packing tape. You'll cut it into thin strips and loop in around the two points between the tabs. Cut off the excess once you're done. Just try and find some thin packing tape. You'll cut it into thin strips and loop in around the two points between the tabs. Cut off the excess once you're done Tbh any old light oil should work. If you have a sewing machine kicking around go raid it.

Feel free to comment if you have alternative suggestions or what you think if you choose to give this technique a try!

Saturday, May 23, 2020

New Open Hardware NKRO Laptop

Check out the MNT Reform, a new open hardware Linux laptop with n-key rollover currently being funded on Crowd Supply.

Instead of following the trend of making ever thinner and smaller devices and sacrificing the typing experience, we decided to put a mechanical keyboard into Reform. Our open-hardware keyboard uses Kailh Choc Brown switches with 3 mm travel and 50 g operating force with n-key rollover and fully customizable firmware

This is quite heavy for steno, but you might be able to swap out the 50g springs for lighter ones. I can't use it myself, since I need a Windows-only app called Streamtext Connect for a lot of my work (booo), but otherwise it seems like a pretty cool machine! Support the crowdfunding campaign now, and get yourself a nice new steno deck!

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Kids and Steno


Someone recently posted this video on the Plover Discord. I'd seen it before, but I watched it again, because the subject's been on my mind lately. My own kid has really been getting into writing lately, both with markers and crayons and on my computer. Just about every day he asks me if he can "play Vim", and his favorite thing to do is to make little guys going \o/ and /o\, and also mashing random alt codes to see what special characters he can dredge up. But yesterday he asked me how to write "catlike tread" and "Rude Buster". (Two of his favorite songs these days, from The Pirates of Penzance and the Deltarune Soundtrack, respectively) He already knew how to spell "cat". I walked him through figuring out "like", told him that "tread" had an E in it for no discernible reason, and helped him sound out "Rude Buster", which he typed letter by letter as he matched the sounds to the word.

Then I asked him if he would like me to write them in steno, and he said yes! So I wrote the outlines, broke them up into pieces, and told him what each chord sounded like. He grasped the concept pretty quickly, which thrilled me to my toes. The moment was fleeting, and he soon moved on to banging out random special characters again, but I'm excited about moving forward with him, bit by bit. Lately he's seemed frustrated whenever he's gotten to play on my steno machine, preferring the simple transparency of the qwerty keyboard to the mysterious seemingly random output he gets from hitting steno keys, but I'm hopeful that I'll be able to bring him into the steno fold sooner rather than later.

Has anyone ever taught their kid how to read or write steno? I was thinking about breaking out one of my old manual machines from storage and using it to write secret messages to him on paper steno rolls, if I can locate any in these strange times. What do you think?

a vim window reading catlike tread and rudebuster in English and steno, plus some random special characters

Thursday, May 7, 2020

The Satisfaction of a Practice Graph

Check out this beautiful post on r/Plover by user gmat800live. I remember when I was in steno school I plotted all my thrice weekly speed tests obsessively, which helped me tremendously to see my progress over the long haul and to keep from getting frustrated when I was stuck in a plateau. If you're worried that you're not progressing, graph your practice sessions! It can be fantastically motivating.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Spectra Lexer: Still Freaking Cool

I've blogged about this before, but people on the Discord have been newly enthusing about Spectra Lexer, and I believe it's gotten some new documentation since the last time I posted about it, so I thought it might be worth posting again as a reminder. Lead Dev Ted said recently "Spectra Lexer is probably the most amazing Plover plugin. Really solid software and an amazing tool that I don't think exists quite anywhere else." If you haven't availed yourself of this resource, give it a try!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Plover Dictionary Transformer

A new tool for making batch changes in the Plover dictionary, posted on the Discord: Plover Dictionary Transformer. I remember doing this by hand like 14 years ago, when I swapped all the entries containing the word "a" in the StenEd dictionary to define it as AEU rather than A, and all the entries using the "a" prefix to use A instead of AEU. Save yourself some time and effort wrangling similar transformations via regular expressions and give it a try!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

New Steno Cheat Sheet

graphical depiction of the steno keyboard layout

Check out this beautiful new Steno Keyboard Cheat Sheet by Graf on the Plover Discord! I love the whole aesthetic.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

A New Step Forward for Plover in the Middle!

Go to the Discord and check out this series of pictures and descriptions of Charley's latest attempt to turn a Raspberry Pi and a TinyMod into a self-contained PloverBox!! Great stuff. Apparently there's still a bit more to be worked out, but I'll be first in line once he comes out with a finished model. Can't wait!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Video Hangout Time

Josh on the Discord says:

OK, I'm just going to go ahead and do something simple. Sunday, April 5th, 8-9PM UTC, I'll fire up a Google Hangout and post the link here. Those are limited to 10 people, but even 10 is a bit awkward for a group video chat anyway, so if we get more people, someone else can click the "start new video call" button and post another hangout link here, and we'll encourage people to mix it up. In other time zones, that's 1PM Pacific, 4PM Eastern, 9PM UK ("British Summer Time"), 10PM CEST.

I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it due to the unpredictability of 3-year-olds, but it sounds really fun! If you're wanting some steno-related video geekery, hop on and say hi this Sunday!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Steno Community Virtual Meetup?

If you're potentially interested in such a thing, join the Discord. They might be making one happen at some point!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Join the Plover Discord!

Stuff is rough right now, as I don't need to tell anyone. So if you're looking for a kind and friendly community, please consider joining The Plover Discord. They talk about all sorts of stuff on there, but it's always with a mind to make people feel welcome and included, no matter their experience or interests. Please join us! I promise it helps a lot to find kindred spirits from all over the world to talk about cool nerdy stuff with. We'd love to have you.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

GergoPlex Heavy: A Beautiful Chonk of a Hybrid Split Keyboard

The new GergoPlex Heavy from the man who brought us the Georgi can be used with steno (using NKRO) or qwerty or any other layout, since it runs QMK firmware. It's not as affordable as a stock Georgi, but it sure is beautiful, and I bet it's a fantastic feeling to heft it in your hand.

Germ says:

We're living up to our name with the GergoPlex: Heavy, a industrial styled ergo made from lasered steel. No flex, this is a heavy and rigid case that will make a great addition to any desk or shop. It's not perfect either, there's slight texturing to the surface, exposed remnants of the cutting process. But that's half the charm, topped off with acorn nuts and clocking in at 800grams this is one weighty solid ergo.


Check out the Gergoplex Heavy on Germ's site if you're interested in getting one for yourself!

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Corrected Survey Responses Link

Hey, somehow I managed to accidentally link to the results of last year's survey instead of the one for this year in the preliminary results post! I've fixed the link in the original post, but here are the actual most recent results (good catch, Ty!), with all my apologies. Also it looks like we're only around half the number of responses that we got last year, so I'd love to see more people take the survey. It's still open! Sorry for the mixup.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Steno Proverbs

On the Discord recently, Jladd (who has been compiling some fantastic steno Anki decks lately) proposed some proverbs, inspired by Go Proverbs and Programming Pearls.
Here was his list:

  • Treat steno as a hobby (try not to pin expectations on steno becoming a certain thing by a certain time)
  • Regardless of which theory you pick, you'll likely need to put in a fair amount of practice to become proficient
  • Don't go it alone! Plover has a rich community of creative tinkers, makers, and hobbyists (along with pros!) that can offer encouragement, guidance along the way.
  • Steno generally takes ~3 mo. to become comfortable with basics, 3-6 months to start gaining speed and ~2 years to really get comfortable. But it definitely varies from person to person.
  • Don't forget fingerspelling! Fingerspelling is your fallback, so be sure to practice this as well!
  • Dictionaries are flexible; tailor them to fit the way your brain works. Everyone has their own spin on steno theory.
  • When optimizing speed, it can be helpful to think about your average number of strokes per word.


Then Sooty (a self-taught stenographer who has been working professionally for quite some time now) chipped in with these:

  • Always add to your dictionary, at every opportunity
  • Brief on frequency, not difficulty
  • There's no point moving quickly if you don't move correctly
  • Practice with a metronome
  • Walk, don't sprint.
  • Find patterns in your dictionary, make new patterns
  • There is no such thing as "verbatim"


What do you think? Do these ring true to you? I really like this idea and would love to hear more from other people! Please feel free to submit them in the comments or on the Discord or Google Group.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Georgi Songvid and Preliminary Survey Results



Check out Jladd demonstrating some cool steno skills on his Georgi (and beautiful custom tripod mount) along to a soothing Cat Power song!

ETA: Link fixed! Also, the initial results of the Open Steno Project Community Survey are live, but it's still open, so if you want to contribute your own response, please feel free!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Homebrew Firmware for StenoMod

Hey, if you've ever wanted multichord repeat for your StenoMod, check out Paper Steno, Josh's custom firmware, now up on GitHub. I haven't used it myself, but I know several people who find it helpful (especially when using the steno machine to send arrow keystrokes and other often repeated actions), so if you think it'd come in handy, flash it to your StenoMod and give it a try!

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Steno Zine!

Gotta type fast in steno and English on a printed zine

A lot of it is about the technical details of how to get started with open-source steno, but I also get a bit into the history and culture around it, which is pretty interesting if you're into that kind of thing.

Ewen, a member of the Plover Discord, has made a lovely little 24-page zine, available for $2.50 (or anything above that if you'd like to kick in some additional cash) on Itch and Etsy. I find the whole phenomenon of zines incredibly charming, and I'm so tickled that there's now one on the subject of hobbyist stenography!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Beautiful Custom Tented Georgi Stand

Check out this amazing handmade tented Georgi stand from jladd! What an incredible piece of work!

half a Georgi on balsawood
underside of balsawood platform
Georgi-shaped cutout on balsawood platform
full tented tripod mechanism

Thursday, January 23, 2020

2020 OSP Community Survey is Live!

Please take the survey here. Many many thanks to Ty for getting this all together, and to community members for adding their questions. I can't wait to see what we come up with!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Input Wanted for 2020 OSP Community Survey

I massively dropped the ball on the annual Community Survey in 2019 due to toddler parent brain and a host of other boring non-excuses, but the excellent Ty is helping me revive it for this year and is soliciting new questions on the Plover Discord. It'll probably be going live in the relatively near future, so if you've got a burning question you really want to see on there, now's your chance to submit it!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Jumping Into Steno

I just wanted to link to two really nice blog posts by OSP community member Jladd: Jumping Into Steno Part One and Part Two. I always love personal accounts of how people discover steno and what they're finding as they explore the system, and I really like the way Jladd puts things:

I got back to my hotel room with the nagging feeling that there must be a better way of capturing information in real-time. Away I went to the trusty internet to find the answer I knew had to be out there.

This is exactly how I found out about steno too! I was doing freelance transcription and I knew there had to be a better way. A quick trip to Wikipedia's article on stenotype, and the rest was history.

I had seen this before; I remembered watching Matlock, the detective, on television, presenting his case in the courtroom, and seeing the court reporter sitting up by the judge, quietly doing the impossible…capturing every single word in real-time. I remember puzzling about this when I was young and earnestly concluding that it must be impossible. (After all, they were hardly typing, and the machine they were using seemed to be missing an awful lot of keys.)

I was lucky enough to get to meet Jladd at PyCon 2019, as he notes in the second post, and I'm so happy that those few minutes of us chatting together have led him to give steno a try; he's been a valued contributor to the Plover Discord for just a few months shy of a year now, and we're very lucky to have him. I hope he continues this series! If you'd like to write down your own narrative of how you found out about steno or Plover and how you're finding the experience of learning it, please let me know! I'd like to link to as many of them as possible.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Typey Type Is Now Open Source!!!

How amazing is this?! Di, the inventor of the invaluable steno learning resource Typey Type for Stenographers, has released her source on Github! I already admired the everloving heck out of her, but now I admire her even more. Three cheers for her commitment to fantastic design, excellent pedagogy, and truly open source steno learning tools!