Things are going well in the Plover world for me, even though it has been about 6 months since my last update in November. My speed has improved drastically, after a long stall. What had happened was that, as I was typing in TypeRacer, I got too much into the habit of simply drilling a single quote to gain speed, and as such, I really sucked when I came across the word that I didn’t know, and I’d get stuck on it.
The problem with getting stuck on a word is that in any real case where I actually need to type, I probably don’t have thirty seconds to try out different strokes for a word and then give up and finger spell it. What ended up happening was the fault of my co-workers: they wanted to play TypeRacer with me. And so we did, and so I lost my ability to drill quotes over and over. I got much better at just “dealing” with the more difficult quotes. And, consequently, it made it seem like my speed had stagnated, at around sixty or eighty words per minute. It wasn’t great, but I still had faith in Plover and stenography, simply because that pie in the sky of 200 words per minute is still there.
When I came back to school this summer and no longer had co-workers, I started to drill again. I also took the time to practice on qwertysteno.com, a site that affords the user many different types of drills. Using that site, I was able to learn many multi-word combinations, such as “such as”, “you should”, “all of a sudden”, “as far as”, and many more. These common phrases are very usable in everyday typing, and they take away one of the (“one of the” is a single stroke) slowest parts of typing: having to make multiple strokes. So I went back to TypeRacer to drill out quotes. This time, because I was so used to dealing with all these random quotes, my speed vastly improved. I was now typing some quotes at 120 words per minute, and I was doing so consistently, which a big deal to me.
Now, it was becoming the case where typing in steno was actually preferable to just typing in Norman. I was working on an assignment, and I got tired of stenoing because I found that moving around a document with Plover to be a difficult task. However, after about ten minutes of typing in Norman, my fingers hurt, and they hurt significantly! I went back to stenography, and while the speed for me is not particularly faster than normal typing, its comfort is unmatched. At my speed, my fingers are only going down about one or two times a second, and I don’t make silly typo’s nearly as much, and I don’t need to think about spelling. It’s a sublime way to type, very surreal after typing a normal keyboard for my entire life. I understand why Mirabai Knight decided to bring this technology to the open-source community, and I’m ever thankful.
The next real challenge for me is figuring out how to code with steno. I am better now at navigating documents, mainly by remapping the arrow keys in Plover from a “WADS” layout to a “WASD” layout like I’m used to, and adding shortcuts for “page up”, “page down”, “home”, and “end”. I also added briefs to handle Markdown syntax, such as opening and closing emphasis asterisks.
The main problem I’m facing now is that stenoing is so addictive that I’m running out of things and places to type! I have been overwhelming my friends in IM, writing rants on Facebook, and talking way too long in all my emails. I guess this is the life of a stenographer, being able to type so fast means that you don’t leave anything out!