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← Plover demo, impromptu session by Drew Neil at Vim London

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Showing Revision 4 created 01/05/2014 by Mirabai Knight.

  1. DREW: I actually have a Filco Majestouch keyboard,
  2. so if anyone wants to try it out,
    I've got it set up here.
  3. In fact...
  4. Shall we do a demo on the big screen?
  5. So you can see what it looks like?
  6. EMILE: Yeah, if you want, yeah.
  7. DREW: You won't be able to see what's happening,
  8. like, what keys I'm pressing,
  9. but you'll see how quickly text comes out.
  10. It's mental.
  11. Looks lovely, doesn't it?
  12. >> Do you take that to Starbucks?
  13. DREW: All right, let's see.
  14. All right.
  15. Also, I'm using TextEdit,
  16. because if you're in normal mode in Vim,
  17. with steno, it's just like...
  18. you know, if you put a beginner in front of Vim,
  19. random stuff happens.
  20. But you'll understand when you see this.
  21. Okay, so I'm just going to make this...
  22. Can I make this full screen or something?
  23. Or just make it big?
  24. Make it really big.
  25. Okay, so this is --
  26. I'm running Plover,
  27. and this is one of those keyboards
    that does n-key rollover.
  28. So I'm just going to --
  29. tell you what, I'll just mash the keys.
  30. So everything that comes out in uppercase
  31. is basically a chord
    that doesn't have a designated word.
  32. So, like, there are --
    there's a Plover dictionary,
  33. and anything -- when I mash some keys,
  34. and random all-caps comes out,
  35. it means there's no word defined to that.
  36. So here,
    I'm going to start a new line.
  37. If I use both my index fingers,
    that's like using the return key.
  38. So...
    New line.
  39. And let's see.
  40. The...
  41. Um...
  42. (laughter)
  43. The cat.
  44. Oh, no, that's not cat.
  45. The sat.
  46. The cat sat.
  47. On?
  48. How do I do on?
  49. That's going to be...
  50. On.
  51. The...
  52. Mat, that would be M-A-T.
  53. >> It's so fast.
  54. (laughter)
  55. DREW: Yeah, it's incredible, isn't it?
  56. So that was...
  57. That was one stroke for each word.
  58. But each stroke involved, like,
    three or four keys
  59. being pressed at the same time
  60. but the way that, like, stenographers look on it,
  61. you might be pressing ten keys at once,
    but that's one stroke.
  62. As far as they're concerned.
  63. They can do maybe
    five strokes a second.
  64. Which sounds like nothing,
    if you're typing at 110 words per minute on qwerty.
  65. You're probably doing round about
    10 keystrokes a second.
  66. But five strokes per second
    is actually quite slow,
  67. but text just comes out, like,
    really quickly.
  68. So...
    Let's see.
  69. Does anyone want to try this?
  70. I'm slightly...
    So basically, like, there's loads of single keys
  71. that will output a word.
  72. Like, all of the shortest,
    most common words,
  73. just come out with a single keystroke.
  74. So all of these words --
    that's like one keystroke.
  75. >> So does every word have to have a chord, then?
  76. DREW: Yeah, every word has a chord.
  77. Huh?
  78. >> Single letters for (inaudible) Vim?
  79. DREW: Okay, so single letters.
  80. Right, the way it works --
  81. you've got the left hand.
  82. It can spell the entire alphabet.
  83. And the right hand can spell
    only the parts of the alphabet that it needs to.
  84. And the thumbs deal with the vowels.
  85. And basically,
    you form a word
  86. by putting together a consonant,
    a vowel, and a consonant.
  87. And in the English language,
  88. English words aren't symmetrical.
  89. There are certain patterns that appear a lot
    at the end of a word,
  90. and there are certain patterns that appear a lot
    at the start of a word.
  91. And so the left hand
    has a completely different layout to the right hand,
  92. but both are capable of typing out
    most of the alphabet.
  93. But you can type all of the alphabet
    with the right hand.
  94. So if I hold down the asterisk key,
    I can spell the whole alphabet.
  95. I'll just demonstrate some of it.
  96. So I can go a, b, c.
  97. You know, this is pretty slow.
  98. But basically, you never have to do this.
  99. Oh, that's wrong.
  100. You never have to do this,
  101. because you've always got something --
    you've always got a word.
  102. It's only if you have to add
    a new entry to the dictionary
  103. that you actually have to --
    they call it fingerspelling.
  104. But yeah, so basically --
  105. someone pick a one-syllable word,
    and I'll type it.
  106. >> Dog.
  107. DREW: What was that? Dog.
  108. Okay, so with my left hand,
    it would be --
  109. this finger presses two keys at once,
    and then I use the O key with my left thumb,
  110. and then G.
  111. It sounds crazy.
  112. It really does sound crazy, doesn't it?
  113. Oh, I spelled the word dodge instead.
  114. It's funny,
    because everything turns out being phonetic,
  115. and whereas in qwerty, it's very easy
    to misspell a word,
  116. in steno, instead,
    what happens is a word comes out
  117. that sounds like the word you meant.
  118. It's really funny.
  119. So okay, I'll try again at dog.
  120. I think I did that wrong, actually.
  121. There we go, that's dog.
  122. It's pretty mental.
  123. >> It's like the T9 dictionary
    in old cell phones, isn't it?
  124. DREW: Like which dictionary?
  125. >> Predictive text.
  126. DREW: Yeah, I suppose it is, yeah.
  127. It's a bit like that.
  128. Yeah, but basically the way you would
    make it work with Vim --
  129. you would have to define a custom dictionary
  130. with lots of chords
    representing the Vim commands.
  131. >> So emacs.
  132. DREW: It kind of becomes emacs, yeah.
  133. In fact, you could even create, like,
    an emacs dictionary, and a Vim dictionary,
  134. so that the same chords
    did the same thing in the different editors.
  135. You could create a steno Rosetta Stone-type situation.
  136. >> It's perfect for pairing stations,
    when people use Vim and emacs.
  137. >> Yeah, how about that?
  138. So if anyone wants to try that out,
  139. you're welcome to.
  140. It's pretty mental,
    just mashing the keys
  141. and seeing what comes out.
  142. I wasn't quite expecting so much
    random nonsense to come out there.
  143. But I'll just try that again.
  144. I'm going to press far fewer keys this time.
  145. So you can imagine --
  146. if I actually knew what I was doing,
  147. I would compose text very, very quickly.
  148. >> So when is your next book out?
  149. DREW: Actually, there's a really good community
    around Plover,
  150. and there's a book being written right now.
  151. I learned about this stuff about a month ago,
  152. and there was maybe three chapters of the book,
  153. and now there's about seven chapters,
  154. and I'm dying for the next chapter to come out,
  155. because I'm stuck.
  156. But it's really good stuff.
  157. It's really worth trying out.
  158. So if anyone wants to try it out,
    you're welcome.
  159. Because it won't work with the
    built-in keyboard on your laptop, probably,
  160. which won't be n-key rollover.
  161. >> So next month we get the demonstration with Vim?
  162. DREW: I don't know.
  163. That's a lot to ask.
  164. Maybe, maybe.
  165. One of these days.
  166. I would love to get this working with Vim,
  167. but it's crazy talk now.
  168. So you can see why now
    if each one of these words is a single keystroke,
  169. if you were in normal mode,
  170. all sorts of crazy shit can happen.
  171. So like I say, I think random
    just doesn't even come close
  172. to describing a beginner steno operating Vim.
  173. >> Drew, how long have you been typing with steno?
  174. DREW: How long?
  175. >> Have you been typing with it?
  176. DREW: Oh, I heard about it a month ago.
  177. So occasionally I sit down
    and try and actually do some freeform writing,
  178. and it's quite funny.
  179. I don't know if I have an example here.
  180. No, I can't pull one out.
  181. But yeah.
  182. >> Would you second the claim
    that we heard,
  183. that in six months, you'll be typing 160 words a minute?
  184. DREW: I think you would have to be studying
    pretty hard to get there.
  185. I'm doing...
  186. So okay, comparing with, like, the learning curve
  187. for qwerty or Dvorak, or any of those sorts of things,
  188. with those, you learn the alphabet,
    and then you can type any word,
  189. just as long as you can spell that word.
  190. Right?
  191. But learning steno feels to me
    a lot more like learning a foreign language.
  192. In that you actually have to learn vocabulary.
  193. But that said, the basic rules,
    this idea of the left hand
  194. deals with the first part of the syllable,
  195. the right hand deals with the closing consonant,
    and the thumbs do the middle bit --
  196. oh, and by the way, multi-syllabic words
    just end up being one stroke per syllable --
  197. once you've kind of internalized those rules,
    and you can find the keys,
  198. it's amazing.
  199. It's amazing how much of the English language
    you can just guess,
  200. and often words --
    if there are different ways that you can pronounce it,
  201. there are different chords
    that would produce the same word.
  202. So -- but then the thing is
    that all of the most commonly used words --
  203. and again, this is a little bit like learning a language.
  204. You learn all of the rules of French grammar,
  205. and then you spend the rest of the time
    learning all the exceptions,
  206. and it kind of feels like that with Plover.
  207. It's like...
  208. Well, this book that I'm reading
    isn't finished yet.
  209. So I've learned all of the rules
    that have been written about so far.
  210. And there's gaps in my knowledge,
    and I'm looking forward to filling those gaps,
  211. but I've still got a lot of exceptions to learn,
  212. and of course I've still got to get my fingers
    actually finding the right words.
  213. So...
  214. >> And how good is it for writing code?
  215. DREW: Apparently it's brilliant.
  216. Shall I put up some videos of Mirabai Knight?
  217. She's, like, the creator of...
  218. >> If you type def in Python,
    then I'm thinking the English dictionary
  219. is going to write deaf, D-E-A-F, not def.
  220. So you type def...
  221. >> (inaudible) for C or Ruby or...
  222. (inaudible)
  223. DREW: Can you see that?
  224. You won't be able to hear it.
  225. That's too small, isn't it?
  226. You can just about see where it's...
  227. Okay, so this is nice,
    because they're actually showing the chords
  228. that are being typed.
  229. This is slowed down.
  230. So that's the chord for demonstration.
  231. One key for of, because it's such a common word.
  232. Plover is six keystrokes.
  233. Or six keys, but it's one stroke.
  234. This is massively slowed down.
  235. Look at this.
  236. It's like...
  237. Mirabai Knight, who's demonstrating here,
    she founded The Plover Project,
  238. and she can type at 240 words per minute.
  239. And that's what she does professionally.
  240. She does realtime transcription for, like,
    accessibility things.
  241. Pretty amazing.
  242. >> Are there fewer times
    when you're reaching with your little fingers
  243. around the keyboard?
  244. Because that's generally considered
    the emacs RSI thing.
  245. So is it just that your fingers are more compact?
  246. And you're just...
    Rather than just lots of stretching
  247. to shift, control...
  248. DREW: Yeah, I think one of the reasons
    emacs -- you know, they talk about emacs pinky.
  249. Most of the time, when you're doing a chord,
    on all modern software,
  250. you're holding down some combination of
    command, control, alt, shift,
  251. which are all operated with the pinkies.
  252. Maybe the thumbs.
  253. Combination of pinky and thumbs,
  254. and then maybe one finger pressing a letter,
  255. whereas this chordal input method
    puts equal weight on all the fingers.
  256. Yeah, it maybe even puts more weight
    on the stronger fingers.
  257. It's very ergonomically designed.
  258. There is an example of Mirabai
    typing Python code.
  259. So I'm just going to see if I can find that.
  260. And it's really fast.
  261. (inaudible)
  262. Sorry?
  263. (inaudible)
  264. This was the presentation that I first watched,
    which is worth checking out.
  265. Ah, where is it now?
  266. Let's try again.
  267. Plover...
  268. Let's try that.
  269. Ah, here we go.
  270. I can Google.
  271. Here we go.
  272. So that's realtime, basically.
  273. It's pretty much one stroke per idea.
  274. >> These are all regular words.
  275. DREW: So it's a really quick demo.
  276. >> How about snake case or camel case?
  277. DREW: There's a rule for that.
  278. So you know I was saying you can fingerspell.
  279. The left hand can do the whole alphabet,
    and then you hold down one modifier key,
  280. with the right hand, and you get letters.
  281. And if you hold down a different key,
    you get capital letters,
  282. and then there's a particular chord that says --
  283. make the next word camel case.
  284. So start with an uppercase,
    and then don't insert a space afterwards.
  285. Oh, another thing about steno
    is you don't have to worry about spaces.
  286. It, like, automatically detects word boundaries,
  287. which is one area --
    it's the kind of thing I'm stuck with, at the moment,
  288. because I often end up having words
    joined together, or not joined together,
  289. that shouldn't happen like that.
  290. Yeah.
  291. Can I show you one more thing?
  292. I think this is quite cool.
  293. When you're using something like this.
  294. So I'm going to type the word silent,
  295. which is two syllables.
  296. But the first syllable is sigh,
  297. and sigh is itself a word.
  298. So watch this.
  299. If I say -- forgive me,
  300. while I take a moment to compose this.
  301. So that was one stroke for sigh,
  302. and then if I do a stroke for lent,
  303. lent is also a word,
  304. but silent is a word.
  305. So I'm going to say...
  306. L-E-N-T.
  307. That should be good.
  308. See what happened there?
  309. It swallowed up the word sigh,
  310. and changed it,
  311. changed it into silent.
  312. So that is something you'll often see,
  313. if you watch somebody typing with steno.
  314. You see words appearing,
  315. and then being swallowed up,
  316. and sort of consumed by the subsequent characters.
  317. It's really cool when you see it happen.
  318. It sort of looks like an artifact,
  319. but then somehow I think it's kind of cool.
  320. >> What happens if you want to say sigh
    and lent in the same...
  321. DREW: Um, so you could force a space
    between them.
  322. I think if I just said...
  323. I think it's S-P will do a space.
  324. Generally a space will be inserted.
  325. But if I said...
  326. Sigh space...
    I've got to think about this...
  327. Lent, I can get the two words.
  328. But generally it's like --
    you would look at
  329. when the individual syllables
    can form individual words,
  330. you would look at the English language, and think --
  331. can I form a sentence
    where the word sigh is followed by the word lent?
  332. And if you can't think of a sentence
    that doesn't sound like nonsense,
  333. then it's safe to add that to the dictionary
    as a definition for the word silent.
  334. >> Is it the same for deletion?
  335. Does it delete word by word?
  336. DREW: Yeah, good question.
  337. So the asterisk key,
    the one in the middle,
  338. is like the backspace.
  339. It's kind of like undo in Vim, actually.
  340. So if I press it once, it deletes
    basically the last stroke.
  341. Press it again and again,
  342. and watch this.
  343. We get back to sigh.
  344. So that's -- you know,
    there's quite a lot of clever stuff
  345. going on inside of Plover,
    to track all of that stuff.
  346. So anyway, I've been talking long enough.
  347. Does anyone want to try this out?
  348. I'll put it down here,
    and you don't have to all do it
  349. on the big screen.
  350. But I've been so excited since I learned this.
  351. I sort of feel like there was a stage with Vim
  352. where I knew enough about what Vim was capable of,
  353. but didn't know how to operate it.
  354. And I sort of felt unsatisfied
    with the text editors I was using.
  355. I sort of feel like that about steno at the moment.
  356. It's like --
    it's made me really unhappy with qwerty,
  357. but I can't use it yet.
  358. So it's something I'm working on.