Monday, June 5, 2023

MakingFix Learns a Weird Keyboard (Spoiler: It's Steno)

A deep dive video, over two hours long, introducing the principles of steno via Plover and the EcoSteno! I confess I haven't actually watched this entire video, but from what I have watched, it seems to be a pretty compelling demonstration of steno in action. Pretty fun to follow along with, if you're fairly new to learning steno and need a bit of motivation and/or guidance.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Korean Steno!!

Two Peter videos in a row, because this one is just so cool!!!

Monday, May 22, 2023

Numbers and Symbols Demonstration Video

As Peter of StenoKeyboards says (and demonstrates) in this video, you can write anything with steno! Anything!!

Monday, May 15, 2023

More Ruby Steno Coding: Paul Solves the Bob Problem

Paul says:

This is my attempt at solving the "Bob" problem from Exercism's Ruby track in a test-driven (red-green-refactor) way using Plover stenography.

Monday, May 8, 2023

Steno Pedagogy!

I'm not quite sure how or why, but my 6-year-old's interest in learning steno has recently been reignited! Kind of flying by the seat of my pants in terms of best practices for steno pedagogy, so any advice would be very welcome. So far he's been asking me how to write particular words and I've been writing the steno down for him, plus I gave him a list of easy sentences to write on the be-Javelined Uni that connects to his Chromebook, and he's managed to write pretty much all of them perfectly! It's very exciting.
a child's hand pressing a key on a hobbyist keyboard, surrounded by steno reference materials
a hobbyist keyboard, steno alphabet chart, list of easy steno sentences, and a list of handwritten words with their steno equivalents

Monday, May 1, 2023

Can You Write Short Using Plover Theory?

A bit of a digression this week, if you'll indulge me. Recently on the Discord someone asked if Plover Theory was good enough for professional use. Well, I use it, I replied. And I'm a professional. Some people worried that it might not be a "short enough" theory. I answered that most people tend to "write out" more when they start steno and then find that their writing gradually becomes shorter and more efficient over time, as they make their own briefs for common words used in their own particular field of work. By way of demonstration, I offered a paragraph that I'm able to write using my current personal dictionary (which is several years newer than the dictionary distributed with Plover) in at most one stroke per word:
And between heterochromatin, heterochromatin can spread on DNA. We talked a little bit about that, I think. How H3K9 methylation can modify neighboring histones, neighboring nucleosomes, and allow with the help of HP1 protein to spread heterochromatin. There's something called a barrier sequence, which is in fact related to an insulator, that will block the spread of heterochromatin. That leaves euchromatin, the actively transcribed regions. A key factor that works in these kinds of elements, insulators and barriers, is an 11 zinc finger repressor protein. You know we've talked about zinc fingers, proteins that contain multiple zinc fingers.
I caption a lot of biology material -- biochemistry, molecular biology, computational and microbial genomics, etc -- and have made briefs that allow me to do it quickly and efficiently. My strokes for the paragraph above are as follows:
SKP: and TWAOEPB: between HO*ERPBT: heterochromatin KW-BG: {,} HO*ERPBT: heterochromatin K: can SPRED: spread OPB: on TK*PB: DNA TP-PL: {.} WAOE: we TAUBGD: talked PWHR-BLT: a little bit PW: about THA: that KW-BG: {,} EU: I THEU: think TP-PL: {.} HOU: how HAOEFPB: H3K9 PH*EFGS: methylation K: can PHO*FD: modify TPHA*EUBG: neighboring HO*EFPBTS: histone {^s} KW-BG: {,} TPHA*EUBG: neighboring SKHROEPLS: nucleosome {^s} KW-BG: {,} SKP: and HRO*U: allow W: with -T: the HEP: help -F: of HAO*EFPB: HP1 PRAO*EPB: protein TO: to SPRED: spread HO*ERPBT: heterochromatin TP-PL: {.} THR-S: there's S-G: something KAULD: called AEU: a PWR*ER: barrier SKWEPBS: sequence KW-BG: {,} WEU: which S: is TPH: in TPABGT: fact RAELTD: related TO: to APB: an SHRO*ERT: insulator KW-BG: {,} THA: that HR: will PWHROBG: block -T: the SPRED: spread -F: of HO*ERPBT: heterochromatin TP-PL: {.} THA: that HREFS: leaves KWRO*EPLT: euchromatin KW-BG: {,} -T: the TAEFL: actively TREUBD: transcribed RAOEGSZ: region {^s} TP-PL: {.} AEU: a KAOE: key TPARBGT: factor THA: that WORBGS: works TPH: in THAOES: these KAOEUPBDZ: kinds -F: of HREPLTS: elements KW-BG: {,} SHRO*ERTS: insulator {^s} SKP: and PWR*ERS: barriers KW-BG: {,} S: is APB: an 1-D: 11 STKPWEURPBG: zinc finger RERP: repressor PRAO*EPB: protein TP-PL: {.} U: you TPHOE: know WAOEF: we've TAUBGD: talked PW: about STKPWEURPBGS: zinc fingers KW-BG: {,} PRAO*EPBS: proteins THA: that TAEUPB: contain PH-PL: multiple STKPWEURPBGS: zinc fingers TP-PL: {.}
I hope this example makes it clear that the briefing techniques taught by the various Plover Theory learning materials can be applied to any domain of knowledge, and that when you've got a firm grasp on the jargon that you're writing and on the mnemonic pathways of your own particular brain, Plover Theory can be used to write very short indeed.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Type Type Lesson Generator!

Wow, check out Typey Type's new custom lesson generator! So many options to configure your lesson! The magnificent Di says:
You can select all the options you want, hit "Build lesson", and check out the preview of that material below. If you're happy with it, you can go to "Start generated lesson" right away, or you can scroll down to "Edit generated lesson" to make changes in the usual custom lesson setup page.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Intro to Stenography Coding

Check out this fantastic presentation by Paul at Ruby Australia! I always love Paul's demos, and this one is particularly good!

Monday, April 10, 2023

Steno Etudes for Developers

Steno Etudes for Developers is the ever-marvelous jladdjr's new project for helping developers acquire and practice steno skills that are intended to be useful in their work.

He says:
Just got a Polyglot and am starting to use it at work! I tried to think of a way to create bite-sized lessons for writing Steno at work. I remembered how, when I was practicing trombone, I had a book of small practice pieces called "etudes". Tried channeling that idea to come up with some practice sessions for using steno in a dev. job. I'm thinking that as I actually do practice I could refine these mini lessons so that (hopefully) they'd create a helpful path for anyone else trying to do the same thing.

There are 10 small etudes available already, and I believe more are planned. Right now they're just focused on development terminology, but I imagine some more symbol-rich etudes would fit in perfectly with the project as well. If you're feeling intimidated by your practice regimen and looking for something that allows for quick, incremental improvement, give it a try!

Monday, April 3, 2023

LaTeX with Steno!!

LaTeX (pronounced lay-tek because the X is a Greek chi, as in τέχνη) is a legendary markup language/software system for typesetting, often used for scientific or mathematical documents requiring fine-grained manipulation of symbols and other special characters. It's something I've been hearing about for most of my life, but I confess I've always been too intimidated by its complexity to investigate it in any detail. People have asked me several times over the years if steno can be used to typeset a complex document using LaTeX, and the ever-amazing Aerick has just made a fantastic demonstration video answering the question with his usual panache. So cool! I'm so happy to finally have a video I can point to when people ask me how steno could possibly handle such a complex task. Splendid work as always, Aerick!

Monday, March 27, 2023

Peridot, a New DIY Machine

a green hobbyist steno machine
The Peridot is a simple QMK-powered mechanical keyboard for using the Plover open source software for steno. Its creator, Neko Ewen, says:

There are a number of hobbyist steno keyboard designs out there, and my goal with the Peridot is to make one that’s easy to build (hence I used basic through-hole components throughout) and open source. How much it will cost will depend a lot on the specifics of the components you choose, but it’ll be vastly cheaper than a professional stenotype. Feel free to make, sell, remix, etc.; this is my attempt to give something back to the Plover community.

What a cool project for a hobbyist keyboard builder! If you make one, feel free to share it on the Hardware Showcase channel of our Discord!

Monday, March 20, 2023

Thumbs Up Machines!

two white and blue DIY steno machines with keys at several levels of height
Look at these beautiful machines I just received as free review models from SashaK! They're available in Sasha's Thumbs Up Shop. The design is quite striking! I'm gonna give my fingers a little time to get used to them, and then I'll post here with a full report! Many thanks to Sasha for these innovative new designs. I can't wait to try them out!

Monday, March 13, 2023

Practice Plover Updated

Practice Plover, according to its creator, plants, has just received ome updates!

Practice Plover has been updated with new sections on common prefixes/suffixes and even more practice text, and some more brief additions from yannc.

Always great to see more practice resources out there!

Monday, March 6, 2023

No News Today

Heya! No particular Open Steno news today, partly because I spent some time this evening talking up Open Steno to a group of a dozen or so student and professional stenographers online. It's gotten kind of late and I still need to do the dishes. But least I spent some time trying to get the word out! I don't have a huge amount of faith that the professional steno establishment (specifically the one embodied by the National Court Reporters Association) will ever choose to be much of a friend to Open Steno, but you never know, right? It's always worth a try.

Monday, February 27, 2023

The Picosteno, New From Nolltronics!

Introducing the Picosteno, a new low cost steno DIY kit from Nolltronics!
a small barebones steno machine on a green printed circuit board

Nathan from Nolltronics says:

We’ve heard people ask for an even cheaper entry-level stenography keyboard, so we went ahead and made the Picosteno! We were able to cut costs by avoiding paying for PCB assembly, and replacing the aluminum backplate with a PCB backplate. The keyswitches and keycaps are still the best you can buy for hobbyist stenography at 20g actuation force, though if you want us to stock 15g springs (or have other suggestions), let us know! This is a DIY kit, meaning you will have to assemble the keyboard yourself! This includes soldering keyswitches and microcontroller, mounting the backplate, and flashing the firmware. All kits include two PCBs since one is used for the backplate.

Monday, February 20, 2023

TinyMod Saved My Bacon Again

I bought an Infinity Ergonomic in 2019, but it became more and more unreliable over time and finally became unusable last spring. A court reporter friend of mine had decided to become a software engineer and no longer wanted her steno machine (I tried to convince her to use it for coding, but she politely demurred), so she very generously gave her Infinity Ergonomic to me. Unfortunately that one failed yesterday. The company that makes them appears, unfortunately, to be defunct. I managed to find someone with a used one to sell and sent them the money for it today; it should be arriving by Wednesday if all goes well. But in the mean time, I've got a full week of captioning work to do. Before Plover, I would have panicked, screamed, freaked out, called all the steno colleagues I knew in the city to see if I could borrow one of their backup machines. But now I just threw my TinyMod, my Uni, and my Alienware n-key rollover laptop in my work bag and had three steno machines on hand for the day. I wound up doing all of today on the TinyMod, and it served me excellently well. It was a little clackier than my Infinity, and not as ergonomic, but I got through the day with no issues, and I can't express how grateful I am to have these backup machines on hand when I need them. It provides tremendous peace of mind and flexibility. Inexpressible thanks to Charley and Peter for making such excellent portable and affordable machines!

Monday, February 13, 2023

Erland's Beautiful Uni

uni v2 with multicolored printed keycaps. text reads: uni v2 gat ks3 yellow springswapped. 3d printed keycaps and frame.
Look at this lovely customized Uni v2, taken from the StenoKeyboards Discord. Striking and whimsical. A work of art!

Monday, February 6, 2023

New Plover2CAT version released

plants from the Plover Discord says:
plover2CAT has a new version 1.4.2. It can do rtf export (thanks, Elizabeth), translating from tape, and ability to set custom shortcuts for menu items.

Download the new version from GitHub!

Monday, January 30, 2023

Big Javelin Firmware Update

screenshot of new features included in Javelin firmware
From the Discord:
Javelin's online tools have been revamped over the last week. Newly added tools include add translation, writing speed, layout display, and console access, and most existing tools have been upgraded in some way. The full range of tools requires new firmware, but even older builds should have access to most of what's there.

You can find these all at:

Monday, January 23, 2023

Paul's Steno Elixir Demo!

Paul Fioravanti, a longtime friend of The Open Steno Project, gave a presentation at the Sydney Elixir Meetup last week, demonstrating his steno workflow when coding in Elixir. He even realtime captions himself for some of it! Great stuff.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Cool Stuff Brewing

I haven't yet been given permission to post photos or videos of the very promising prototype under development in the #HobbyistLeverMachine thread in the #hardware-dev channel in the Plover Discord, but let me just say it's super impressive, and progressing at astounding speed. If that sounds like your cup of tea, you should totally go check it out!!

Monday, January 9, 2023

Aerick and His Multipurpose Multisteno

Aerick describes in this lovely video how he's replaced the bulky standard default keyboard with just a Multisteno for everything but gaming, using movement modifiers, symbol and command dictionaries, and the Multisteno's qwerty layer. So cool to see!

Monday, January 2, 2023

Embedded Steno on My Uni!

The amazing Peter of StenoKeyboards gave me a free Uni v4 after I mentioned wanting one to teach my kid on! I flashed Javelin firmware on it really easily. The hardest part was cleaning up my dictionary file, which had some malformed entries in it that Plover doesn't seem to notice but which Javelin doesn't approve of. A few rounds of regular expressions were sufficient to zap them, though, and then the firmware builder gave me a file that I was able to flash to the Uni with zero problems. Totally smooth and simple. The Uni now writes English into any text field without having to install Plover, including on my kid's Chromebook! We spent some time going over the basics of the layout and drilling a few easy lessons on Typey Type today, and he's really excited to learn more. Thanks so much to Peter for the free Uni and to Jeffrey for the Javelin firmware!
A six year old doing Typey Type on a Uni