Monday, September 13, 2021

Plover and Toki Pona Meet Again!

Back in 2010, very, very early in Plover's development, Sonja Lang, (esteemed linguist and creator of Toki Pona, an extremely simple and elegant constructed language) joined the Plover Google Group. The software wasn't really in a usable state at that point, so only the most hardcore users at the time were able to do anything with it, so she drifted away from the community relatively quickly (which I completely understand), but before she did, she introduced me to Canadian graphic designer Laura Lake, who wound up designing Dolores, our beloved steno-winged mascot!

These were her first preliminary sketches of Dolores. I love them a lot.
sketches of a bird with a steno keyboard pattern in the feathers of her wing
And now, 11 years later, the Toki Pona community has intersected with the Plover community once again. On the Toki Pona Subreddit, there's a lovely little video demonstrating timeopochin's Toki Pona plugin for Plover. It's still in development, but seems very handy for users of the language! I'm delighted to see our respective orbits colliding once again, and hope that both communities will be able to enjoy the intersection.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Plover for Legal Material

Paul Fioravanti has written a really nice blog post about using Plover to transcribe legal material, incorporating principles from Platinum Steno. I'm not very familiar with Platinum Steno personally and have never done any legal work, but it's very cool to see the ingenious way that Paul has adapted Plover (the only steno software NOT primarily designed for court reporters) for legal purposes.

Monday, August 30, 2021

AstroType, a Gorgeous New Steno Learning Game

Shane Jonas on the Plover Discord recently released AstroType on Itch. Shane says:
Astrotype is a pixel art typing game aimed to challenge your speed. See how far you can make it fighting monsters with your keyboard. The goal is to nail down a really solid typing game experience into a playable demo and build out a bigger, more content driven game from there.
The art is so beautiful, and it reminds me of Typestriker, the first typing game I ever used with steno, way back in 2005 when I started steno school. AstroType is also space-themed, but more about planetary exploration than zooming rocketship shenanigans, and I absolutely love it. Of course, you can play it with a qwerty keyboard as well, but since the game is optimized for steno, you'll find it quite a challenge.

Play AstroType in your browser today!

Monday, August 23, 2021

Tokaku's Fantastic Steno Intro Video



Okay, I'm extremely late to the game here, for a number of reasons (zero childcare for a year and a half, Discord no longer notifying users of new posts when servers get above a certain size, turning 40 last March and therefore being old and out of the loop by definition) but back in early June, a famous YouTuber named Tokaku, who goes by SKWROE/HRAOEPB (cue Dolly Parton's classic earworm) on the Plover Discord, made this amazing (and open captioned!) introduction to steno, and it's one of the clearest, most concise, and most engaging explanations I've seen in a long time! In the past two months and change it's already gotten over 300,000 hits, which is incredible, and has brought many people into the Plover community. I'm so thankful to Tokaku for her hard work and enthusiasm in putting this video out there. Absolutely marvelous work.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Steno Pedagogy: Kindergarten Edition

a selection of words made from printed letters and tiles on cardboard mats from the word game Zingo
My kid turned five today! At his birthday party yesterday, a friend of his gave him a board game called Zingo Word Builder. We played with it together a little bit this morning, and he didn't seem to find it too compelling. He's already a strong reader and using random letters to build consonant-vowel-consonant words don't seem to hold much interest for him. But as I was picking tiles from the stack and moving them around on the game boards pictured above, I realized that the game was strongly reminiscent of the words used in the first few chapters of steno books like Learn Plover and The Art of Chording.

Any ideas on how I can turn this game into a non-electronic tool to help my kid learn steno? How can I make it more interesting or challenging for him? How can I use these tiles (already strangely similar in shape to steno keys, even if they're upside down) to help my kid navigate the layout of the steno keyboard and practice constructing words according to not just English rules but steno rules? There's gotta be a way! I'd be grateful for any advice or thoughts the Plover community might have. I feel like there's gotta be a way to do this; I'm just not sure where to start.

Monday, August 9, 2021

New Plugin: Plover Number Format

Plover Number Format is a new plugin (pull request forthcoming) that allows you to format a series of numbers retroactively into times, phone numbers, social security numbers, Roman numerals, and currency using specific command strokes. Very useful especially if you're taking down testimony or doing a lot of data entry. Many thanks to Volensia for implementing it!

Monday, August 2, 2021

Guide to Upgrading Your Dictionary

The marvelous Aerick has written a comprehensive guide to upgrading your Plover dictionaries from ones that work with Plover v3 to ones that work with Plover v4. If you're still on v3, please do consider upgrading to one of the recent releases of v4. It's vastly more stable, has far more features, and is recommended for virtually all purposes. (The one time I ever use v3 these days is when I want to have two steno machines running simultaneously on one computer. If they use different ports and different versions of Plover, it actually works really well. But that's very much an edge case!) Many thanks to Aerick for helping to smooth the way.

Monday, July 26, 2021

New Steno Dictionary for Emacs

Lorem Ipsum writes on the Plover Google Group:

I just pushed a version 1.0 of a dictionary for use with Emacs. It provides only modifiers for the English alphabet right now. In order to get a release out, I didn't create definitions for Super or for left-hand patterns. It plain language, you can do M-x, C-f, etc. but not M-: or Super-a. Theoretically, everything is explained in the accompaying website.

The "features" are:

Explanation of the dictionary design and design process
Control modifiers
Alt/Meta modifiers
Shift modifiers
C-S, M-S, C-M-S combinations
Escape
Function keys
Please feel free to kick the tires.

The roadmap for v2.0 is to incorporate the (brilliant) ideas of EPLHREU so that the dictionary works for symbols as well as English letters. Seeing as it took nearly 8 months to get this far, expect v2.0 some time around the next United States presidential election ;).

Dictionary: https://github.com/excalamus/plover-emacs/blob/main/plover-emacs.json
Explanation: https://excalamus.github.io/plover-emacs/
Github: https://github.com/excalamus/plover-emacs


I'm a Vim fan myself, but this looks very cool! Nice work, all.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Lovely Plover Tutorial for Mechanical Keyboard Fans

Wow, check out this detailed write-up of reasons mechanical keyboard enthusiasts should try steno, plus how to get ZSA keyboards configured to use Plover using Oryx: The ZSA Keyboard Configurator, by Paul of the Plover Discord. What a thoughtful and well-written post. Great photos, too! I hope it hooks us a few new users. Thanks, Paul!

Monday, July 12, 2021

Typey-Type Keeps Adding New Stuff

The amazing DiDoesDigital just keeps making Typey-Type better and better. From her most recent newsletter:

In the last few months, I’ve made a bunch of new Typey Type lessons:

Top verbs

Two Hanged Women by Henry Handel Richardson: Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson was an Australian author who wrote Two Hanged Women under her pen name, Henry Handel Richardson. She most famously wrote The Fortunes of Richard Mahony, but it’s far too long for a good Typey Type lesson, so you get a short story instead!

The Man from Snowy River by Banjo Paterson: Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson was a bush poet, famous in Australia, even appearing on our $10 note. He also wrote “Waltzing Matilda”, our unofficial national anthem. For this lesson you’ll either want to download the latest Aussie vocab dictionary or treat it as fingerspelling practice when you reach “Kosciuszko”!

Virginia Woolf’s Monday or Tuesday short stories: “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction”

Orthography rules to match the Learn Plover lesson on orthography rules

Stenotypos: This list of tricky words that are easy to slip up on using steno come from a combination of suggestions from Jenny and another community lessons contributor, Jeremy. It is meant to be hard, so you can get fast feedback on the finicky parts of stenography and kick any bad habits you might have with words that are frequently mixed up.

Cardinal Number Words: contains material like “one thousand”, “one hundred”, and “ninety”.

Ordinal Number Words: contains material like “thousandth”, “hundredth”, and “ninetieth”.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Fantastic Splitography Video Review

Watch Aerick's wonderful video review of the Splitography! It's four months old, so I'm pretty late to the party here, but it's really thorough and well thought out, with detailed comparisons to the Georgi, a demonstration of switch swapping, and quality human captions. Well worth watching, and as someone who owns both a Georgi and a Splitography myself (they're both great machines), I find all of his points extremely fair.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Hobbyist Steno Machine Spreadsheet

Wow, look at this cool spreadsheet laying out all the specs of various hobbyist steno machines! I guess this has been around since May, but I only spotted it when it was recently linked to on the Plover Discord. EDIT: Credit for this excellent spreadsheet goes to Discord user Julia, though it was first brought to my attention when linked by Discord user Biscuits. In mentioning the spreadsheet, they also pointed me to a linktree by SKWREPB (of OSP Community Survey Fame -- see previous post), which is a useful list gathering links to many of the most important steno resources in one place.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Take the 2021 Open Steno Project Community Survey!

The 2021 OSP Community Survey has been open for a few days already and already has 78 responses as of this post, but I wanted to make sure to post it here as well, to make sure its reach is as wide as possible! Please take it and let us know about your experiences, aspirations, and helpful thoughts about open source steno and the community as a whole! Many many thanks to Jennifer Chan (AKA SKWREPB) for putting it all together!!

Monday, June 14, 2021

3D Printed Flat Keycaps at the StenoKeyboards Store

The marvelous Uni keyboard (as mentioned many times previously) is currently sold out, but Peter's StenoKeyboards.com Store is currently selling both white and black 3D printed keytoppers that are flat and MX compatible. A great option for both DIY keyboard projects and for reconfiguring NKRO mechanical keyboards for use with Plover!

Monday, June 7, 2021

First Impressions of the Steno-Flex

a computer with the words 'a little trickier. What about if I do the -er
thing again? So I say longer, faster, harder, stronger. But I'm starting to learn how to use it. I think the more I do it, the better it gets. That is interesting. So now that I've got the hang of it, should I try to do that again? Let's try one more time. I push down a little deeper than I expect to, I keep close attention on the middle line, and I write pretty cleanly, all things considered. I think I'm figuring it out' next to a StenoFlex with a blue light in it

The Steno-Flex is soon to be live on Crowd Supply, a crowdfunding platform that's very dear to my heart, because it was founded by Josh Lifton, Plover's first developer! The Steno-Flex's inventor is named Seth Garlock, and Steno-Flex.com has recently gone live. It's a little sparse at the moment, but I'm sure it will be built out more extensively as time goes on. I finally got the chance to put it through its paces, and it definitely has a learning curve, but overall I'm quite impressed with the feel and uniqueness of this beautiful little machine. At first I tried to use my typical very light, very shallow darting motion -- the one I use with my professional $3,000 lever machine (an Infinity Ergonomic). The output wasn't very accurate, so I slowed down and tried again. I discovered that a slightly deeper "pushing" motion worked better, and I began to get more accurate results, though at a slightly lower speed than the one I use in my daily professional life. The touch is very light, so going deeper doesn't actually require much in the way of muscle power. It's a very delicate machine -- hopefully strong enough to withstand repeated oressing and releasing, given all its moving parts, but that's something that can only be determined over the long haul. The look of it is absolutely gorgeous, though, and the components all seemed to be well seated and solidly constructed.

One peculiarity I noticed was that only the top part of the asterisk key appeared to work as an asterisk; the bottom part appears to output "#*" instead. That's probably easily dealt with in a firmware update, but it took a little getting used to. Resting my fingers on the middle groove was pretty intuitive and I got the hang of it relatively quickly. The columns move as a single piece, but a push of the whole hand actuates the device, which appears to register the position of your fingers via capacitive touch. It's an ingenious mechanism, and I think with a little practice it could start to feel quite seamless. For someone who dislikes spring-powered indie steno machines but doesn't have the budget for a professional lever machine, I think the Steno-Flex could be a lovely solution. If you're interested, be sure to enter your email address in the Steno-Flex's Crowd Supply page to be notified of when the campaign goes live. I'm so happy to see this new entry in the indie steno hardware field!

Monday, May 31, 2021

Mysterious New Steno Hardware Teaser

I recently received a free prototype of an amazingly innovative new piece of steno hardware that will soon be the focus of a crowdfunding campaign. Unfortunately I've been swamped with captioning work and have also been moving to a new apartment, so I haven't yet gotten a chance to put it through its paces. Expect a full report soon, but in the mean time, enjoy the pictures!

Monday, May 24, 2021

Sensel Morph + Steno?

an interesting thread on GitHub about Ted's attempts to make the Sensel Morph (a touch-sensitive digital pad that's intended to be customizable for a multitude of purposes) into a working steno machine. He's not there yet, but possibly he's getting closer? Definitely worth following, at least, if you're interested in that sort of thing!

Monday, May 17, 2021

Ted's StenoFest Talk



Today on Ted's Patreon Page, he posted a link to his StenoFest 2019 talk on YouTube, along with the following:

I recently posted my StenoFest talk from February 2019. It was a talk aimed at professional stenographers to introduce the idea of using their steno machines outside of work, as well as present the Open Steno Project mission. Feel free to check it out, and view the index in the description to jump to sections that interest you.

As for Art of Chording, I'm currently balancing between being busy at work and lots of Plover development happening in preparation for v4. I look forward to resuming on the textbook, but it won't be until a new Plover release (which I am so totally pumped about!!!) See you soon!

Monday, May 10, 2021

Two Vietnamese Steno Systems!

I discussed two Spanish systems for Plover last week, and this week, I've got two Vietnamese systems for you:

Plover_Vi by user202729, and Plover_Viet by illustrious steno vidder Aerick. I don't know Vietnamese, so I can't speak to the pros and cons of these two systems, but there's a discussion about them on GitHub that might prove illuminating if you're interested. I love seeing new languages come to Plover, especially in multiple flavors. Great stuff.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Plover + Melani + Spanish

I last posted about a Spanish system for Plover back in March, but here's an alternate one, this time using the MIDI keyboard-based Melani system, originally developed for Italian. Co-author Noelia Ruiz Martínez has apparently recently recorded a podcast episode describing her career as a realtime Spanish captioner and describing her system, so I'll definitely be posting the link to that as well, when it's available. I love learning about new multilingual Plover systems!!

Monday, April 26, 2021

The Steno Grind

There's a new web app called The Steno Grind, designed to help users drill lessons from Ted's marvelous steno textbook The Art of Chording. It's slick, simple, and fun. Many thanks to Noah for this lovely resource!

Monday, April 19, 2021

Emily's Steno Symbol System

Check out this great Python dictionary for typing symbols in steno in a systematic way!

Emily says it allows for "consistent symbol input with specification of attachment and capitalisation in one stroke."
This dictionary was created with the following goals in mind:

* Have a consistent method to type (pretty much) every symbol
* Specify spacing and capitalisation of that symbol in 1 stroke
* Hackable and understandable to anyone who finds it useful :)

It's absolutely ingenious and beautifully documented. Fantastic work! Check it out!

Monday, April 12, 2021

A Whirlwind of Plover Activity!

After a well-earned hiatus, our dauntless developers Ted and Benoit-Pierre have immersed themselves once more in the Plover codebase, resolving issues, fixing bugs, thwarting security vulnerabilities, and implementing a new continuous release schedule! As of this blog post, the most recent continuous release was delivered to the Plover Github only four hours ago, but you should click back through their recent updates to get a sense of the tremendous quantity of work they've been doing lately. It's incredible! More to come, I'm sure, but I'm so impressed and grateful to see the amount of care and attention they've been giving our beloved software. All accolades to Ted and Benoit-Pierre, and the many other contributors who have submitted bug reports and code contributions over the years!

Monday, April 5, 2021

EcoSteno Prototype Review!

black EcoSteno keyboard on a backdrop of Mario pajamas

The lovely people at Nolltronics just sent me a prototype of their new EcoSteno, and it's a gorgeous machine!! Full disclosure: I'm extremely biased in favor of tented machines, and like the TinyMod (though with a somewhat bigger footprint and wider spacing between the hands), the EcoSteno is built on a flat platform, but aside from that personal idiosyncracy, it's hard to find any flaw at all with this beauty. It connects via USB-C and can switch between steno, qwerty, symbol, and NKRO steno layouts, which makes me hopeful that I might be able to get it working on my kid's Chromebook (which I've had a little trouble booting into dev mode so that I can install Dotterel on it, but I'll keep working on it). If so, this might be an ideal first machine for him! The EcoSteno uses featherlight (20gf) Kailh gChocs, which are low travel and extremely comfortable. I'm extremely impressed with this little number so far. It's still a prototype, of course, and probably won't be released until it undergoes a few more iterations in firmware and/or hardware, but it sure is close to being perfect, as far as I can tell. I expect great things!
Ecosteno being held by a four-year-old in an ice cream shirt

Monday, March 29, 2021

Aerick's Complete Steno Learning Video Series

If you haven't yet checked out Aerick's Plover and Steno YouTube Playlist, you really should! It's a beautiful series of videos breaking down steno principles, with accurately edited English closed captions (woo!) and an engaging, polished production style. A fantastic introduction to the nuts and bolts of steno from a really talented new presence in the open steno community. Bravo, Aerick!!

Monday, March 22, 2021

Tool for Building Spanish Steno Dictionaries!



Eliseo writes:

Libero este repositorio que contiene un conjunto de scripts que ayudan a generar un diccionario para Plover, que se puede usar con el plugin plover-spanish-system-eo-variant. Una vez que lo refine, lo utilizaré para actualizar el diccionario principal del plugin, pero por el momento, lo libero para que quien quiera/necesite generar su propio diccionario especializado (por ejemplo uno con términos médicos), lo genere por cuenta propia. :D

Or, in English:

I worked on a series of tools/scripts that will eventually help me to generate the main dictionary for plover-spanish-system-eo-variant. The repository is Silabareo. There you can find a set of scripts and steps to create a dictionary that can be used within Plover with the Spanish System plugin. I hope this will be useful for those who have a large set of words that would like to add as a specialized dictionary (say, medical terms for example). If you like to know more, drop me a message here or Discord.

This is fantastic!! Thanks, Eliseo!

Monday, March 15, 2021

Nolltronics Has a Website!


protype of the EcoSteno
Nolltronics, makers of the EcoSteno -- currently in the final stages of pre-production -- now has a website where you can subscribe for updates and follow their progress as they roll out the EcoSteno to the world. The design is gorgeous and I'm so excited to try it out when it finally makes its way into my hands!

Monday, March 8, 2021

Woolf on Typey Type

Di tweets:

Practice typing Virginia Woolf's Monday or Tuesday in Typey Type's new lesson!

That's timely!

Monday, March 1, 2021

Qwertysteno is BACK!!

We heard back from Mike, creator of the wonderful Qwertysteno, and he's been able to put the site back online! We're paying the hosting fees out of Plover funds, so it should be up for a good long while. Hurray for the return of Qwertysteno and many thanks to Mike!

Monday, February 22, 2021

New Typey Type Lessons

There are two great new lessons up on Typey Type: Orthography Rules and Stenotypos! Great stuff.

I'm also waiting on a prototype of the Eco (one of the new small batch steno hardware options coming out soon) to test, and our devs have been working on getting a new release of Plover out, after a bit of a hiatus. We're looking for new devs to come join the project, so if you're interested, please come on the Discord and get together with the other volunteers! It's an exciting time in the world of open source steno.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Uni Trailer



Pre-orders for the Uni are live, and Peter made this slick trailer for it!

Monday, February 8, 2021

StenoKeyboards.com

Follow up to last week's post on the Uni: The creator now has a website, StenoKeyboards.com! Currently he's selling pre-orders for the Uni's circuitboard and 3D printed flat steno keycaps, but I expect there'll be more there soon.

Here's a video of Peter demonstrating the caps on a staggered layout qwerty board:


So many exciting things happening in the small manufacturer steno keyboard space! I can't wait to see them all as they continue to roll out.

Monday, February 1, 2021

The Uni, An Affordable Unibody Split Machine

render of the uni circuit board


Peter says on r/Plover:

Hello stenographers, I am currently in the process of making and prototyping a cheaper unibody split ortholinear keyboard for stenography.

I have the project up on Github for anyone curious. I plan on selling a fully assembled version for under a hundred dollars and just the pcb for even less. The pcbs will come with diodes presoldered so all you need are switches and a pro micro.

I'm still waiting for my protoypes to arrive in the mail along with the pro micro and switches.
I will be posting more updates.


I always love it when creators open source their hardware for the DIY set and also manufacture them for people who want an all-in-one option. Best of both worlds, in my opinion! This looks great, and I can't wait to see more.

Monday, January 25, 2021

New Option for TinyMod!

The amazing Charley, inventor and craftsman behind the StenoMod and TinyMod, has done it again. He's now offering a new quiet model TinyMod:

The new option is the quiet version of TinyMod4. The only difference is that it has Durock "silent" switches and the springs have been changed to 20cN. Though they're called "silent" switches I would say rather that they're very quiet. They have a solid feel to them and a pretty light touch. It took me a long time to like the feel of 20cN, but now I'm very happy with them. You might find that you press a lot of keys by accident for awhile because of the light touch. Because the switches and replacement springs cost more and it's extra work swapping springs, I'll be charging $200 plus shipping for the quiet model.

The original TinyMod is still available for $160 plus shipping, and Charley's confided in me that there are even more surprises in the works, so stay tuned! Charley is an absolute paragon of the small batch steno hardware world, and I recommend his machines unreservedly!

Monday, January 18, 2021

The Most Metal DIY Stenoboard Ever

a steno machine with a skull pattern printed on it and colorful underlighting


Sillyworld from the Plover Discord just posted pics of this incredible DIY steno board, with a custom printed circuit board and rad underlighting. I've recently been enjoying the Gideon the Ninth series, and let me just tell you, the steno pool AU fanfiction practically writes itself. I LOVE IT.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Better RTF Handling

If you've ever been frustrated by the less than perfect way that Plover handles RTF/CRE files (the court reporting dictionary format that's never quite been implemented as smoothly as Plover's native JSON format, but which is pretty useful if you're using Plover alongside commercial steno software), try this new plugin from sammdot: Plover-Better-RTF, a Plover plugin for better RTF dictionary handling that's powered by rtfcre.
rtfcre is a Python library for reading and writing steno dictionaries in the RTF/CRE (Rich Text Format with Court Reporting Extensions) format. The library provides an API similar to that of the json module for reading and writing dictionaries.

rtfcre also comes with a little command-line utility that you can use to convert your dictionaries between Plover's native JSON format and RTF.

Features:

Speed: The parsing logic is written in Rust using parser combinators, making it much faster than practically any pure-Python implementation.

Comments: Rather than just exposing translations, rtfcre also reads the comments embedded in each entry ({\*\cxcomment like this}).

Unicode: Full Unicode support -- while the dictionary files are not encoded in UTF-8, Unicode characters in translations are still fully supported. Translations can be in any language and they will seamlessly be converted to escapes when writing.

Plover support: Translations are converted automatically to Plover's native syntax (e.g. fingerspelling is represented with {&a} rather than {\cxfing a}) and converted back when writing.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Sneak Peak at EcoSteno

An official site is pending, but if you're interested in a new steno machine in the works that's focused on affordability, you might want to look through the EcoSteno's Github page. It's a cool and promising new project, and I can't wait to see more!