22 June, 2020

Listening to Experiences Not Our Own

Those who know history are freed to repeat the good parts.

We all have our little parts to add in trying to understand the Black community's reaction to the killing of George Floyd. My little part might be to give a contrarian view of the history that brought us to his moment. I'm not qualified to speak to the experience of living as a Black person in America, but I can add a bit to what we learned in US History class. I look forward to hearing your part. We need each other if we're going to make things better.

We start far away and long ago, because slavery was not invented in America. Russians, as we know them today, are the descendants of Vikings who got rich selling Irish slaves to Muslims. Vikings raided England and Ireland, took captives, sold them in Iraq, and settled down in what we now call Russia to enjoy the money they made. Modern Russia is what it is today because Vikings got rich off slavery. Look throughout the modern Middle East and modern Russia both, and you'll find no hated class of Irish descendants of slaves. A massive nation was built on slavery, but there's no lasting hatred. What was different there, or in practically all historical slavery?

The Vikings were not capitalists.

No, really. That's what's different. Capitalism changed everything, but not always for the better.

In the age of the explorers, the Dutch were making tons of money trading with China, but every now and again a ship would sink causing some poor Dutch merchant to end up in the poor house. These merchants put their heads together and came up with a creative plan whereby a group of investors would pool their investments across many trading missions then share the profits and losses equally. Everybody got rich and nobody had to go to the poor house. It was a win, so they made it bigger. Thousands of investors would give lumps of money (capital investment) to a stock exchange where smart dealers would set up flotillas of missions to trade in the Far East. 

People got very rich this way. It worked so well that to this day no one has found a better way to turn large lumps of money into larger lumps of money. 

They say to err is human, but to really mess up you need a computer. Capitalism is like a computer for money. Capitalism has not escaped all the evils of the empires before it, and its mistakes were made at record speed. Europe became as wealthy as the Great Khan himself, and a whole community of the rich began looking for new ways to turn their newly embigified lumps of money into bigger lumps. 

They found sugar. 

Again, really. The rich Brits went nuts for sugar, of all things. There was not just a market for sugar, but a burning demand. Investors were earning back 8% on everything they could give. The well just would not run dry. At 8% over 20 years, an investor could quintuple his money. No one asked why or how sugar was winning so hugely; they just sunk more money into sugar. We know the "how and why" they didn't want to know. 

The how of sugar's amazing success was importing slaves at a daunting rate and replacing them frequently, since they tended to die after just a handful of years. It was better for the stockholders to replace these waylaid children of God than to care for them in any way, because those stockholders made money at both ends; selling people and working them to death were both profitable. T'was stockholders killed millions of Africans. 

The world had never seen so many millions of people treated so evilly, nor so many people grow so rich so quickly, nor so many people enjoy so many delectable baked goods with sweetened tea.

In the American colonies, it was different. In America the work was a little less deadly and the slaves tended to live longer. This created a different culture from that which the Carribean plantation holders had on the sugar islands. In America, the slaves tended to have children and grow families. That demanded a different mentality than was required to work people to death. Only two mentalities could possibly long endure. Had a mentality of respect triumphed, slave-owning whites could have loved their slaves as equals and raised them up to full stature. The mentality of proud greed prevailed in America, though, and it allowed masters to demean their slaves and treat them as intrinsically less than human. 

1 out of every 3 people alive in the American South in 1850 was a Black human being, and that created an intolerable reality. Humans tend to connect to each other in very human ways, but mass slavery was an utterly inhuman arrangement. The 2/3 of people in the South who were white could not look themselves in the face if they imagined they were abusing people equal to themselves before God. They relieved that mental tension, that guilt, by believing and teaching their children Black people were created by God to be ideally suited to slavery. They were intrisically undisciplined. They were naturally strong. They were insensible to pain. They were in need of the Christian gospel. They both needed and loved to be treated just as masters chose to treat them. 

It was not enough. That belief was enough to make the money flow from cotton, but there was still one more human tension to relieve. Many white people sexually preyed on the vulnerable Black people they immorally called their private property. Rape, abuse, forbidden love, and every other form of human bonding, oppression, and reproduction mushroomed. This was domestically unacceptable, so one more divine lie needed to be cooked up and swallowed by the whole of American culture, North and South together. Whites taught their children most Black people were dangerous, unclean, pestilent, filthy. They taught their maturing sons that to be sexually joined to a Black American was to degrade, to foul, one's self. Union between whites and Blacks became an imagined offense to God, purity, and Christian morals everywhere. 

The necessary lies of African subhumanity and uncleanness grew and spread in America unchecked for 250 years. In 1859 American culture, even much of abolitionist culture, held African American slaves to be fitted only for the lowest of living. After 1865 slavery was illegal, but culture still held African Americans to be fitted only to be hidden away and left to disappear. The laws changed, but the culture didn't budge. We know that, because in 1963 it was still legally mandated in America to treat Black people as subhuman and unclean. The new laws of 1865 did not erase 200 years of disdain and disgust from the heart of a young Christian man. No, he passed that cultural lie on undiluted to his children.

In 1964 finally it became illegal to treat Black people as subhuman and unclean, but a young Christian man in 1964 did not suddenly have 300 years of disdain wiped from his heart, any more than his great granddaddy did. We know that from the many, many laws we've needed to pass since that banner year of 1964 to close loopholes no loving person would find.

In 2020, the law of this land makes people of every race equal in almost every way, but 350 years of disdain continue to work their poison. The law is better and maybe almost good, but there's more to human love than law. The law is, at the very least, doing better than we are. It's now time to work on hearts.

The culture of our land is mixed. Almost every American heart displays toward Black Americans some of that respect to which they are entitled, but almost every American heart also carries some of that disdain which our history wires into us. We do not feel this disdain. We are insensitive to it. Disdain persists unfelt within us, even though we do not sense our insensivity. Neither did that young white man of 1859 sense his insensitivy. He prided himself on his large-heartedness toward his slaves. Neither did that young white man of 1963. He prided himself on his large-heartedness toward coloreds every bit as much as his forefathers. In 2020 we pride ourselves on our "color-blindness", and it is a step on the path toward decency, but it's a step taken without any mirror. We cannot see ourselves as we are seen by the Black Americans around us. 

Guess who can see us as we are seen by the Black Americans around us.

Whites are surrounded by 40 million people who have been hated, belittled, and disdained for 400 years, and who continue to try to carve out an equal opportunity among us. They see us clearly. They have proven themselves faithful by any standard we could hope to claim for ourselves, and yet many of us do not trust their complaints. We are blind to their pain, but they cannot help but see us. They must see us, because our failings are their history, their present, and (unless someone does something smart) their future.

My heritage is American, but when I look back a little further I see Scotland. I feel a little warm and fuzzy when I see St. Andrew's Cross on a blue field. Need I tell you how the Scots reacted to British rule? We've all seen Braveheart. That brutality is the standard against which I must evaluate the patience and longsuffering of African American people, because they've been treated far worse than my people were treated by the English. I am thankful for the kindness they've exhibited over the years, decades, and centuries. We have not earned their grace. I cannot look at the anger in American streets today without remembering the decades of cultural injustice I've witnessed with my own eyes. What's more, as a white man raised to insensitivity toward this injustice, I know I've only witnessed a fraction of what was there to be seen.

So, in light of my history lesson, what do I recommend to myself? What do I think I should do?

I should open my ears to the story only Black Americans can tell. I must quit telling people they're wrong to be angry without hearing them tell me the reasons they are angry. I must quit making my hearing contingent upon every protester being a saint. Most protesters are no greedier than I would be after walking 4 centuries in their shoes. I need to seek out the voices of the angry and give them a fair listen. I need to be shaken, and not to try to shout down faithful, angry brothers and sisters.

It's past time we quit making our Black American neighbors shout into a void. We need to hear them with all the heart we put into silencing them these 6 decades past. 

Let's hear the bad and work to find a good path forward. I suspect ... I cannot promise, but I suspect ... somewhere in our 400 years there've been some good parts. Someone, somewhere did something good and right. If we can silence our hate-memes against protesters and open our hearts to the whole story, I believe we could find something of which to repent, something worthy to be changed, and maybe even something worth doing again. Those who keep fighting anger with hate and mockery have forgotten history. It's never worked before and if they carry this day, we'll all be doomed to forever repeat the divisions of our history. 

Let's apply our history lessons, and do something beautiful instead.

25 December, 2019

Le Poignard

We all know I'm obsessed with not using the mouse, right?

Maybe...

Or maybe I'm obsessed with not switching between keyboard and mouse!

I'd like to introduce my newest dictionary, the Poniard. The poniard is the left-handed dagger of Steno. It was used in place of a shield during polite European swordplay, and was quite the discovery. A poniard was easier to carry when shopping for the Mrs. than even the smallest shield, allowed the user to be offensive, and generally looked cool on a gentleman's hip. Now, just like a dashing Renaissance swordmaster, anyone will be able to sally forth in style while fending off rude emails.

This steno poniard is a left-handed dictionary. Using it, I'm able to type 99% of anything I'd ever type with both hands, but without releasing the mouse at any point. It's perfect for all flavors of editing. With the right hand firmly wielding the mouse I slash the cursor madly wherever I have text to expunge, cut it with the left, click again where it needs pasting, drop it in with the left, and fly bravely into the next grammatical disaster to begin again.

Using nothing but my trusty poniard, I am able to type this paragraph entire (to include arrowing around and adding random punctuation - like! and? 4 no good "reason", or 'cause' if you'd rather. And, yes, the lowly ` and * can be found.) Things like [], {}, and <> are present, of course, as are =, +, ^, and /. I tweaked the number system so 1234567890,10,11,12 are all available through the Nimble Number System and added the traditional punctuation marks with them. Shift-8 gives you a *. I've also built in F 1-12 with any one of shift, control, and alt.

Yes, that paragraph entire was typed using the poniard. My right hand was lazily draped across the back of the couch the entire time. I achieved a stunning 3 words per minute doing so. Needless to say, that's with no muscle memory, since I just finished building it, but I'm beginning to feel the love. A year from now, I'd love to be up to 20 words per minute with it. That's okay, because I intend to use it mostly as an editing enabler.

Things like arrowing around, pasting, deleting, and typing individual letters to make a plural of a lonely word work great with this system. Things like alt-F4 and ctrl-W are breathtakingly easy. It was actually made to ctrl-A, ctrl-C, ctrl-V and does so with STKPWRO/KRO*/SRO*.

You'll recognize the C and the V, and gather adding an O adds the control key to the stroke. The A is the new stroke there, being STKPWR (best read as Z+R). It's always been the vowels that killed any singlehanded system, and not just E and U. Every consonant can be made using the 7 keys of the left fingers. It's the vowels that stubbornly refuse to fit. I've treated the left-hand keyboard as 7 keys plus 4 modifiers (being the #, *, A, and O). Using those 11 keys, I've generated something like 250 strokes. It's a bit tight, but I've tried to impose some order.

The consonants are unchanged. The vowels are all Z-based. Z+R=A, Z+R*=O, Z+H=E, Z+H*=U, Z+HR*=I. Yes, I is a full mash of all finger keys. Adding the traditional steno A-key adds "shift" to the letter. That's how you make a capital letter. Adding O adds "control". Adding AO does not add "shift-control" to the letter, as you might expect, but adds "alt". So, you can add the 3 main modifiers to the keys, but not in combinations like shift-control or alt-control. So far, that's not hurt me. If I deem it necessary, I've got an idea for that, but it will be complex and I'm going to let the stuff I have sink in a bit before I try to go that far.

The action keys, like return, backspace, delete, page up and down, tab, et cetera are all available and use the patterns already proven in the Nimble Single Stroke Commands dictionary. Again, adding shift, control, and alt is done the same way as the letters.

The function keys were a little tricky, but I've gone with the Nimble Number System again, and this time added *. So, hitting a nimble 8+* will give you F8. Add an O to that, and you have control-F8.

And then things get even stickier. Sorry. It's the best I was able to do, and I'm getting quite comfortable with it. The next 16 patterns are all just shape-based.
SKWH: ,.!?
STPR :;/\
SKPH ([{<
STWR  "'`*

Make the shape to get the first character in the list. Add A for the second, add O for the third, add AO for the fourth. And then, if you add * to any shape, you get a variation of the plain character. You might get a close bracket or a space-less version of the same punctuation.

Just one more note to make here. I lost two left-hand-only briefs that I cared about. Other's mileage may vary. I lost KPA* to force upper case without a space. At the same time, I needed a way to force lowercase as well, so I put all that on STK. STK forces lower, STK* forces upper case, and STKA* forces a blank space then upper. If you feel more need to keep using KPA than to have X, though, you can just add a KPA* at the end of the dictionary to override the dictionary's default.

# Give the left hand ability to force to "lower", "upper", and "upper with space" commands
values['STK'] = '{^^}'
values['STK*'] = '{^}{-|}'
values['STKA*'] = '{}{-|}'

And then I needed to replace WR for were. I used WE*R. Again, if you don't expect to need the right arrow, you can create an override and get it back.
# Add-ons to make up for briefs we've overwritten
# Replace WR (were)
values['W*ER'] = 'were'

Okay. That about does it for a first introduction. If enough people think this has potential and want documentation I'm sure I can be persuaded. Here's hoping someone else thinks it's a useful idea.



Poniard

09 November, 2019

Nimble Numbers - Update

Stenography is full of exciting discoveries. In this case, my discovery was how hard it was to change 3 years of learning the original steno numbering system. Sigh. I've taken the Nimble Number System and converted it for use with the original 4 numbers. Nimble's system was more efficient, but I've had to take the less painful route because I'm a wimp. So be it.

The Nimble Number system v2 is now available to any Plover user on any Plover-compatible keyboard of the classic Ireland 23- key layout.

The classic stenography numbering system uses: STPH- for 1, 2, 3, and 4; -FPLT for 6, 7, 8, and 9; and AO- for 5 and 0. You can create a number of arbitrary length, as long as that number is in steno order. At some point, someone introduced the idea of adding -EU to any pair of numbers to reverse them. So, using classic steno, you can write any 2-digit number and several longer numbers if you're lucky. It was always a fun game to see how few strokes you could use to type a long number. With some cleverness, you could often find a 3-digit or even 4-digit single stroke.

Nimble's system is superior. He uses STPH-in combinations to create every digit from 0-9. That's the best thing about his system. The counting numbers to 9 are all on the left hand. Beyond that, though, he then replicates the pattern on -FPLT to make a 2-digit number, on -RBGS to make a 3rd digit, and on SKWR- to make a fourth digit. That's sweet. And for one more great piece of goodness, he uses AOEU to add marks like the $ and %. I don't actually know what the combinations are he uses, but I didn't let a little thing like complete ignorance slow me down. I've created my own.

AOEU can create 16 combinations, so I've created the ability to add 16 decorations: $, ., :, -, (), and / in several different forms. You can now single-stroke $12.34, (1234), 18:00, and 12.34%. Granted, they're all finger-twisters, but you don't have to start to that way. I'm certainly not.

I'm getting used to the idea by working mostly with 1 and 2 digit numbers. They're pretty easy. I'm also getting up to speed pretty quickly on IP addresses, which use some 3-digit numbers. 3 is not too hard. I do have to say, the 4-digit numbers are very hard because I had to compromise the S- key. The original system relied on the S- being split into two keys. I could not do that. Instead, wherever you would hit the lower S-, you have to hit the *. It's a sad accommodation, but it still leaves those numbers available to me if I ever find one I need to use a lot.

So, the dictionary comes with 3 Help Strokes. Hit #-F, #-P, and #-L to see the following 3 bits of detailed help:

I need to improve this, but I'll put it out here now as a full disclosure thing.

#-F
....Writing Nimble Numbers
....How to stroke the numbers 0-14
...H
..P.
.T..
S...
..PH
.TP.
ST..
.TPH
STP.
STPH
S..H 10 
.T.H 12 
S.P. 11 
S.PH 14 
ST.H 13


#-P
....Nimble Numbers Table of Possibility
....Single stroke 1, 2, 3, and 4 digit numbers with all modifiers
---
- Bare number
.... 3 32 321 3217 
- Leading decimal
.O.. .3 .32 .321 .3217 
- Central decimal
.OE. .3 3.2 3.21 32.17 
- $ alone
A... $3 $32 $321 $3217 
- $ with central decimal
AOE. $.30 $3.20 $3.21 $32.17 
- Trailing colon
..E. 3: 32: 321: 3217: 
- O'clock
AO.U 3:00 32:00 321:00 3217:00 
- Trailing hyphen
A..U 3- 32- 321- 3217- 
- Negative as -
AO.. -3 -32 -321 -3217 
- Leading (
A.E. (3 (32 (321 (3217 
- Negative as()
A.EU (3) (32) (321) (3217) 
- Trailing )
..EU 3) 32) 321) 3217) 
- Percent symbol
...U 3% 32% 321% 3217% 
- Percent with central decimal
.OEU .3% 3.2% 3.21% 32.17% 
- Trailing /
AOEU 3/ 32/ 321/ 3217/

#-L
....Writing Several Nimble Numbers
....How to stroke 2, 3, and 4 digit numbers
The first digit of any number is typed on the STPH- keys
The second digit of any number is typed on the -FPLT keys
The third digit of any number is typed on the -RBGS keys
The fourth digit of any number is typed on the -*KWR keys
The fourth digit is a mess. Sorry. The S- could not be reused
so substitute the * for the S-, so it's out of sequence

so substitute the * for the S-, so it's out of sequence

To download and play with the dictionary, click here:
Nimble Numbers 2
To download and use the Nimble Numbers system with the single command dictionary, click here:
Nimble Single Stroke Commands 2

11 October, 2019

Nimble Numbers

Stenography is full of exciting discoveries.

No, really, it is.

Okay, well stenography is full of things that excite me, and when the community user Nimble mentioned he had a new way to write numbers, I was completely stoked. His system relied upon a custom keyboard, though, and therefore was not usable by me.

Enter determination.

The Nimble Number system is now available to any Plover user on any Plover-compatible keyboard of the classic Ireland 23- key layout.

The classic stenography numbering system uses: STPH- for 1, 2, 3, and 4; -FPLT for 6, 7, 8, and 9; and AO- for 5 and 0. You can create a number of arbitrary length, as long as that number is in steno order. At some point, someone introduced the idea of adding -EU to any pair of numbers to reverse them. So, using classic steno, you can write any 2-digit number and several longer numbers if you're lucky. It was always a fun game to see how few strokes you could use to type a long number. With some cleverness, you could often find a 3-digit or even 4-digit single stroke.

Nimble's system is superior. He uses STPH-in combinations to create every digit from 0-9. That's the best thing about his system. The counting numbers to 9 are all on the left hand. Beyond that, though, he then replicates the pattern on -FPLT to make a 2-digit number, on -RBGS to make a 3rd digit, and on SKWR- to make a fourth digit. That's sweet. And for one more great piece of goodness, he uses AOEU to add marks like the $ and %. I don't actually know what the combinations are he uses, but I didn't let a little thing like complete ignorance slow me down. I've created my own.

AOEU can create 16 combinations, so I've created the ability to add 16 decorations: $, ., :, -, (), and / in several different forms. You can now single-stroke $12.34, (1234), 18:00, and 12.34%. Granted, they're all finger-twisters, but you don't have to start to that way. I'm certainly not.

I'm getting used to the idea by working mostly with 1 and 2 digit numbers. They're pretty easy. I'm also getting up to speed pretty quickly on IP addresses, which use some 3-digit numbers. 3 is not too hard. I do have to say, the 4-digit numbers are very hard because I had to compromise the S- key. The original system relied on the S- being split into two keys. I could not do that. Instead, wherever you would hit the lower S-, you have to hit the *. It's a sad accommodation, but it still leaves those numbers available to me if I ever find one I need to use a lot.

So, the dictionary comes with 3 Help Strokes. Hit #-F, #-P, and #-L to see the following 3 bits of detailed help:

#-F
....Writing Nimble Numbers
....How to stroke the numbers 0-14
...H
..P.
.T..
S...
..PH
.TP.
ST..
.TPH
STP.
STPH
S..H 10 
.T.H 11 
S.P. 12 
S.PH 13 
ST.H 14


#-P
....Nimble Numbers Table of Possibility
....Single stroke 1, 2, 3, and 4 digit numbers with all modifiers
---
- Bare number
....  1 12 123 1234 
- Leading decimal
.O..  .1 .12 .123 .1234 
- Central decimal
.OE.  .1 1.2 1.23 12.34 
- $ alone
A...  $1 $12 $123 $1234 
- $ with central decimal
AOE.  $.10 $1.20 $1.23 $12.34 
- Trailing colon
..E.  1: 12: 123: 1234: 
- O'clock
AO.U  1:00 12:00 123:00 1234:00 
- Trailing hyphen
A..U  1- 12- 123- 1234- 
- Negative as -
AO..  -1 -12 -123 -1234 
- Leading (
A.E.  (1 (12 (123 (1234 
- Negative as()
A.EU  (1) (12) (123) (1234) 
- Trailing )
..EU  1) 12) 123) 1234) 
- Percent symbol
...U  1% 12% 123% 1234% 
- Percent with central decimal
.OEU  .1% 1.2% 1.23% 12.34% 
- Trailing /

AOEU  1/ 12/ 123/ 1234/

#-L
....Writing Several Nimble Numbers
....How to stroke 2, 3, and 4 digit numbers
The first digit of any number is typed on the STPH- keys
The second digit of any number is typed on the -FPLT keys
The third digit of any number is typed on the -RBGS keys
The fourth digit of any number is typed on the -*KWR keys
The fourth digit is a mess. Sorry. The S- could not be reused

so substitute the * for the S-, so it's out of sequence

To download and play with the dictionary, click here:
Nimble Numbers
To download and use the Nimble Numbers system with the single command dictionary, click here:
Nimble Single Stroke Commands

21 June, 2019

Single Stroke Commands

Most people control their computer like a first-person shooter computer game. With one hand on the keyboard and the other flipping back and forth between computer and mouse. It's a point-and-click game for them, played for a living wage, and frankly most people are happy to let their time slowly drain away in just this way. They type a bit,  let the computer catch its breath whilst switching to the mouse, drift the pointer over to the next target, click it, give the computer another nap while swinging their hand back to keyboard, type again at long last, and repeat 1,500 times per day.

Others are not so easily amused.

These people, the lazy and hard to please folk who demand their computer take no pointless breaks, control their computers like a guitar, performing several actions at once. They never take their hands off the keyboard, and issue complex commands with a stroke or two. They compose a new message, switch from email to browser, create a new tab, log on to a remote computer, switch to an ssh prompt, issue commands, copy configuration lines to a text editor, and get hacking without "lifting" at any point, at full throttle throughout.

This is the magic of "keyboard shortcuts", and they're almost enough to run a computer at full throttle, but even the mighty shortcut keys have a problem. Mere mortals cannot use them without lengthening their fingers another inch or so and learning to twist them with precision across two rows of keys to find distant Alt, Super, and Function keys in all their critical combinations and sequences.

Only stenographers can truly run at full throttle. Only stenographers have every keyboard shortcut at their fingertips.

Download the Single Stroke Commands Dictionary

Using the Single Stroke Commands dictionary within Plover, every keyboard shortcut is under your fingers in the home position. Install the dictionary per usual procedures, then hit the following key combinations to activate each keyboard shortcut.


To hit the 4 arrow keys:
KPR-FRLG is [Up] as {#Up}{^}{>}
TWH-FRLG is [Down] as {#Down}{^}{>}
SK-FRLG is [Left] as {#Left}{^}{>}

WR-FRLG is [Right] as {#Right}{^}{>}








To hit page up and page down with home and end keys
PHR-FRLG is [Page_Up] as {#Page_Up}{^}{>}
WHR-FRLG is [Page_Down] as {#Page_Down}{^}{>}
KPWR-FRLG is [Home] as {#Home}{^}{>}
TPWH-FRLG is [End] as {#End}{^}{>}







To hit named action keys
TKP-FRLG is [Escape] as {#Escape}{^}{>}
TKW-FRLG is [Tab] as {#Tab}{^}{-|}



SP-FRLG is [Space] as {#Space}{^}{>}
SHR-FRLG is [Return] as {#Return}{^}{-|}







Any of the keys above can be combined with modifiers, along with any fingerspelled letter key. So, you can hit "[Shift]-[End]" or "[Super]-[T]" or "[Control]-[Shift]-[Alt]-[Tab]". The following diagrams show how to use the right hand to add modifiers to any key hit with the left hand, be it a shortcut key or a simple letter.
?-FRLG is [?] as {#?}{^}{-|}

?*FRLG is [Control]+[?] as {#Control_L(?)}{^}{-|}
?-FRBLG is [Shift]+[?] as {#Shift_L(?)}{^}{-|}
?-FRLGTS is [Alt]+[?] as {#Alt_L(?)}{^}{-|}
?-TSDZ is [Super]+[?] as {#Super_L(?)}{^}{-|}
?*FRBLG is [Control]+[Shift]+[?] as {#Control_L(Shift_L(?))}{^}{-|}
?*FRLGTS is [Control]+[Alt]+[?] as {#Control_L(Alt_L(?))}{^}{-|}
?*FRBLGTS is [Control]+[Shift]+[Alt]+[?] as {#Control_L(Shift_L(Alt_L(?)))}{^}{-|}
?-FRBLGTS is [Shift]+[Alt]+[?] as {#Shift_L(Alt_L(?))}{^}{-|}
?-BTSDZ is [Shift]+[Super]+[?] as {#Shift_L(Super_L(?))}{^}{-|}
?-PTSDZ is [Alt]+[Super]+[?] as {#Alt_L(Super_L(?))}{^}{-|}
?-PBTSDZ is [Shift]+[Alt]+[Super]+[?] as {#Shift_L(Alt_L(Super_L(?)))}{^}{-|}






Hitting the F1, F2, etc. function keys, you hit the simple navigation pattern of -FRLG with the appropriate left-handed number key. You can also add Control, Shift, and Alt to these function key presses. To hit the function keys from 6-9, you use the left hand simple navigation pattern of TKHR-, along with any desired modifier.

1-6R8G is [F1] as {#F1}{^}{>}
2-6R8G is [F2] as {#F2}{^}{>}
3-6R8G is [F3] as {#F3}{^}{>}
4-6R8G is [F4] as {#F4}{^}{>}
56R8G is [F5] as {#F5}{^}{>}
106R8G is [F10] as {#F10}{^}{>}
14R-6R8G is [F11] as {#F11}{^}{>}
12-6R8G is [F12] as {#F12}{^}{>}


2K4R-6 is [F6] as {#F6}{^}{>}
2K4R-7 is [F7] as {#F7}{^}{>}
2K4R-8 is [F8] as {#F8}{^}{>}
2K4R-9 is [F9] as {#F9}{^}{>}





The "[Super]" key is known to Windows users as the "Windows Key" or "Win Key". The "[Super]+" combination is powerful. Hitting -TSDZ with any number 1-5 immediately switches focus to the numbered application as pinned to the Windows Taskbar. You can add Shift or Alt to the Super+number combination. To hit the numbers from 6-9, use the combination STK-.
1-9SDZ is [Super]+[1] as {#Super_L(1)}
2-9SDZ is [Super]+[2] as {#Super_L(2)}
3-9SDZ is [Super]+[3] as {#Super_L(3)}
4-9SDZ is [Super]+[4] as {#Super_L(4)}
59SDZ is [Super]+[5] as {#Super_L(5)}


12K-6 is [Super]+[6] as {#Super_L(6)}
12K-7 is [Super]+[7] as {#Super_L(7)}
12K-8 is [Super]+[8] as {#Super_L(8)}
12K-9 is [Super]+[9] as {#Super_L(9)}





There are only 2 more goodies at this point: repeat commands and strokable help.

Repeat Commands
Stroke any number from 2 to 20, 30, 40, or 50 plus the asterisk and then a command stroke, and that stroke will be submitted that number of times. #H*/KPR-FRLG (which is seen by Plover as 4*/KPR-FRLG), for example, will send "[Up]" 4 times, and you will go up 4 lines.

Strokable Help
Stroking 0* and then a command stroke will print out what that stroke does, like:
    [Up]
Stroking 1* and then a command stroke will print out exactly the definitions you see above, like:
    KPR-FRLG is [Up] as {#Up}{^}{>}

I expect this will prove most useful for those who want to create a phonetic brief for an otherwise hard to remember stroke. Of course, I'd rather give the user a way to type the command they want and have the dictionary print out how to stroke it, but the world doesn't always give us our druthers. To make up that lack, I've written this document, and hope it proves helpful to you.

There are weaknesses in this system. Some are intrinsic and others can be repaired. It's intrinsic to the shortcut key system itself that many are hard to find, to learn, and to remember. I recommend learning them one program at a time and only at a speed at which you can add them to your regular, daily usage without causing excessive stress. A repairable weakness is how the key combinations can be daunting. Anyone with the motivation could come up with a more easily memorable, phonetic name for each combination they use frequently.

If I can help, drop me a line.

Kevin

Links:
Download the Single Stroke Commands Dictionary

Mouse vs keyboard: http://facweb.cs.depaul.edu/sjost/csc423/examples/anova/efficiency.pdf
This study compares the tedious alt+letter+letter method of keyboard navigation. The single stroke commands dictionary allows you to go faster than this document understands. Still, it's a good bit of work.

Links to loads of keyboard shortcuts: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/12445/windows-keyboard-shortcuts

Create your own shortcuts:  https://www.laptopmag.com/articles/create-keyboard-shortcuts-windows-10

23 December, 2017

Type Different

You can drive a keyboard. If you're average, you can pilot it somewhere between 30 and 70 words per minute, which isn't bad at all. After 40 years behind a keyboard I could cruise near the high end of that range, but I left it all behind. Stenography called out to me with the promise of 200+ words per minute, and I jumped. The Open Steno Project makes the secret tools of court reporting available to anyone with the desire and time to Type Different.

Picture in your mind typing out the word, "and ". In the quiet of your mind, you can feel those three fingers snapping down on the A N and D keys, and then your thumb smacking out a space. You know the shape and timing of the word, "and ". You can type it in under a second without thinking and without error, even though it's four separate actions that must happen in a precise order.

Stenography converts those four actions into one, allowing the stenographer to type faster than lawyers talk.

Imagine that world for a second. Imagine you could hit all four keys for the word "and " at once then smoothly move on in the same way to word after word, spraying 4 or 10 or 6 perfectly spelled characters on the page with each motion. Why stroke 4 keys, when you could lay down 2 or 3 or 4 words in the same amount of time? Who could walk away from a deal so sweet? In fact, why don't our computers already do this?

The rub is, "Dan"

If your poor computer sees you stroke A, D, N, and the spacebar all at once (assuming your computer reads what you typed from left to right), it would have no way to know whether you meant, "and" or "Dan". Even the shift key would offer no clue, because you might want, "And" and not "and". Therein is the awkward difficulty in word-based typing, and why us computer users still slog along with letter-based typing.

Stenography is the science of making word-based typing possible. It's complex, but within the grasp of most people. It works by settling on some soft rules.
1) The keys stroked on a stenographic keyboard are always read from left to right and top to bottom
2) The keyboard is rearranged with consonants clustered at the left and right and vowels in the middle so as to make the largest number of the most frequently used words typable with one stroke. Every remaining word, special character, and control character can be typed, albeit with 2 or more strokes
3) One finger often hits more than one key at a time, making more patterns possible
4) The total number of keys on a stenographic keyboard is actually smaller than the number letters in the alphabet. What is more, some of the keys appear on the keyboard twice -- yes, it works. The combining of keys makes up the difference
5) Stenographic words are typed by sound more often than by spelling, and those sounds become memory helpers pointing toward the shape of each word
6) Why have a spacebar at all? When you're striking a word at a time, it's obvious where the spaces should be, so a stenographer seldom types a space

Steno knows the difference between "and" and "Dan" because the steno keyboard actually has one D on the left side and another on the right. The stenographer can choose to stroke DAN or AND, making it clear to the computer just which he or she meant, and the principle extends to every word there is. Assigning a unique stroke to each and every word is a heady science, but one that's proven its validity over years of the most rigorous use.

Nothing about learning to type at 200+ words per minute comes cheap. 
Remembering back to learning to type, there were many days of frustration when you knew what to type and your fingers just wouldn't do it. Stenography uses half as many keys, but does so in hundreds more ways, so achieving competency takes time. 2 years is the usual minimum time it takes a dedicated student to test at 225 words per minute. Learning to type different is a commitment, not a whim.

Everything about learning to type at 200+ words per minute is rich. 
The exercise of absorbing new rules, the challenge of creating new muscle memories, and the new thinking patterns word-based typing allows are all addictive. The drudgery of typing is elevated for me into a rewarding experience full of wins, level-ups, and discoveries, except the skill I build will be available to me for years to come. This game makes a difference.

I'm not a dedicated student, so 2 years is not in the cards for me. I played at steno for just over a year before I was good enough to start using it daily for everything. After 4 months of daily use, I've almost made it back to my daily typing speed pre-stenography. I've watched others progress faster, and some much faster, but that's okay. I've enjoyed my journey so far, and it's clear I've still got plenty of room to grow. I may never hit 200, but 120 seems sure to happen someday. The quest is fun, and the future looks rosy. I was maxed out typing the same as everyone else, but I'm nowhere near my limits with stenography.

The people at the Open Steno Project are as friendly as I've ever met, and questions are always welcome. If I've piqued your interest, drop on by.
https://github.com/openstenoproject/plover/wiki
https://github.com/openstenoproject/plover/wiki/Links-to-the-Steno-Community

06 October, 2015

The Two Martians

I've read The Martian and seen The Martian, and I have some thoughts about which is better. No, the book is not better. They're both better.

The book is an 8+ hour investment, and by and large it gives good return on that investment the whole way through. The movie is a 3 hour investment, and it does the same. Both mediums gave me the experience of laughing my way through a deadly experience, and I highly recommend either one.

I recommend the book to everyone who:
  • Wants to get the feel of the science behind the decisions the character makes
  • Wants the feeling of an alien disaster to fully permeate their imaginations 
  • Wants to enter into Mark Watney's psyche

I recommend the movie to everyone who:
  • Wants to share the laughter and fears with others as part of the experience
  • Thrills to see human emotion as opposed to visualizing it
  • Would rather block off 3 hours for the experience than catch as catch can with a book for 8 hours spread over however many days

Both gave me the same laughter, fear, and tears, but they did it in different ways and on different levels. To be sure, the movie added some preachy moralizing at the end that wasn't in the book, but I can live with that. The book is probably the better personal experience, if you have the time to invest, but there's something special about the shared experience of the movie.

As for books allowing you to really get into the character's head, I'm not so sure that's correct. The movie simply had to cut 6 hours of the experience. Many actions and events didn't make it into the movie, but virtually all the feelings did. Over and over again, I saw Mark Watney react emotionally to some event, and felt as much a part of it as when I was reading. A thing explained deeply in the book was a fleeting glance in the movie, but I found both powerfully fun.

Both are good for 4.5 out of 5.