on the cheap and sleazy side (www.cheapandsleazy.net)

By G.D. Warner

Crimson and Plover Mr. Ploverman

The Quest for Free Steno Software


Have you heard? Yes, that's right ... there's some new steno software in town. Even better, it not only runs on Windows, but also Linux and the Mac ...!

"How much?"

What's that? "How much," did you say? How about free?


Oh, no! You appear to have fainted! Sorry about that!

Well. In this article, I will tell you about the new steno program called Plover, what it is, where to get it, and how to make it do cool stuff for you.

... and did I mention that whole "It's Free!!" thing?!?

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Plover is the brainchild of Cheap and Sleazy contributor and awesome CART provider, Mirabai Knight. Mirabai wanted a way for everybody to be able to learn to steno, without having to pay $5,000 for the software, and a couple billion dollars few thousand dollars for court reporting school ... so when you get a moment or two, take a look at her website, where, among other things, you'll see what's going on in the Plover community, in the way of folks that are coming up with their own steno keyboards, which you can also buy the parts for to make one for yourself, among other interesting things.

Thank you, Mirabai!



This is an updated version of the original article, created mostly because of the improvements to Plover since version 2.5.8. If you are curious about the name and how to pronounce it, check that original article ... but here's a hint: "Plover" rhymes with "lover," which naturally leads one to a rather famous song from back in the day.

And that, of course, leads one to the obvious parody ... but I digress.


"Ch-ch-ch-Changes ..."

I wrote the original version of this article back in 2013, and, as things tend to happen with software, Plover has changed a *LOT* during that time!

The version shown in that article was version 2.5.8, and Plover is now fast approaching a release version of Plover 4.0:

Plover About Box Mac

Plover About Box: Mac

Plover About Box: Windows

Plover About Box: Windows

Alas, the new versions don't work at all on Mac OS 10.6.8, which necessitated a system upgrade to Mac OS 10.10.5 (Yosemite).

The bad news on this end is I can't -- or more correctly, "I am reluctant to" -- upgrade my MacBook Pro past Mac OS 10.6.8 because there's one particular program that I can't replace called WireTap Pro, which is what I use to record all that "Different Dictation" of which I am so fond. Thankfully, I treated myself a couple a few Christmases ago and bought myself a 2008 iMac -- which is what I'm using to write Cheap and Sleazy these days ... not to mention watching a few TV shows that I download from here and there.

12DEC17 Update

I *FINALLY* decided to upgrade my 2010 MacBook Pro from Mac OS X 10.6.8 to Mac OS 10.10.5!

Of course, there were a few problems along the way, but you can read about those here.

That said ...

Plover: What is it?

Essentially, Plover is a small program that runs in the background, with which you can use your steno machine to write anything that you would normally use your computer's keyboard for. In fact, I'm using it right now to (re)write this article!

... and did I mention I'm using a Mac?!?

You don't have to be online to use it -- thank goodness -- but if you are online, it will still work. In fact, I also use Plover to write all of my Facebook posts ... so you know what that means.

Yes, that's right ... when your teacher complains about how often you're posting on Facebook, you can tell him or her that you used your writer to write the posts, so technically, you were practicing!

It could work ...

And speaking of Facebook, this one might be of some use:

A Handy Facebook Outline

A Handy Facebook Outline

... and for the curious, that one gives you Facebook's famous "Like" symbol ... which you could also use as proof positive that you're actually using your writer when you're posting on Facebook! :o)

Facebook Big Like

Facebook Big Like

What You Need

If you are brand new to steno, you just need Plover, the appropriate (realtime) cables, a USB-serial adapter, a steno machine, and because Plover actually comes with a built-in dictionary, this site, from which you will learn about steno, via lessons based on Plover's built-in theory.

If you're coming to Plover via commercial CAT software, you will need an .rtf copy of your dictionary from your CAT software, any drivers you may need to use whatever it is you connect your writer to your laptop with, and, of course, a writer that's on the list of supported writers:

plover supported writers

Plover Supported Writers

... and where you see "TX Bolt," that's basically the old Baron protocol, which actually stands for "Baron On-Line Translation." (And a big *THANK YOU* to court reporter Lisa Balderstone for pointing out what that acronym stood for in the Plover User's Group on Facebook a couple years back!) As for the "keyboard" protocol, I think that's used for the folks that are using Plover with what basically amounts to a gaming laptop's keyboard, but I don't address that in this article.

... but before we continue, I feel I have to let you know about a potential problem you might run into with an .rtf copy of your dictionary:


While your .rtf dictionary might look like something Word can open with Word, you should resist that particular temptation ... because doing so will make your dictionary useless to Plover.

Word Corrupts Plover Dictionaries

My Plover Dictionaries on my Windows 7 Laptop

... but before you can see that list of writers in action, you have to download Plover! To do that, go here:


When you click the link to go to the Download page, you will see something like this:

Plover Downloads

Plover Downloads

"Do I have to download all of them?"

Um, no.

If you're using Windows, download the "win32.zip" file. If you're using a Mac, download the .dmg (for "Disk Image") file.

"Why the .zip file and not the .exe File?"

Because one of the awesome things about Plover is that you can actually run it from a flash drive -- which is good, because then you could have Plover and your dictionaries on that flash drive, and not have to install anything on somebody else's computer -- ideally -- so why not just grab that zip file, put it in your Programs folder, and not have to install anything at all?

Linux folks would download the one that says, "AppImage," though others in that list may work just as well; let's just say my Linux class was a long time ago.

Not sure what the others are for ... but if you want to read through the source code, looks like you have two options there at the bottom! :o)

As I write this, the current version is a "Dev" version, listed as 4.0.0.dev6.5.ga564116 ... which is a far cry from the version I wrote about in the original article (which was version 2.58 for the curious)!

Interface Notes

If you remember the original Plover icon --

Mac Plover Install

Original Mac Plover Install Window

-- you might have noticed that the new version looks a bit ... different:

Mac Plover Install

Mac Plover Install

... and to be honest, I liked the original icon, but that's neither here nor there.

I wanted to grab a few screenshots of Plover in action on my PC laptop (yes, it's true ... I *DO* do Windows every once in a while, but don't tell anybody!), under Windows 7.

I wasn't sure if Windows 7 was supported from my reading on the Plover Google Group, but I didn't see anything that specifically said that Windows 7 wouldn't work, so I downloaded the new version, zipped the older copy I had on there (version 2.58), and started Plover ...

... and nothing happened.

The solution? Allow that laptop to connect to my WiFi and download a few updates ... and after an hour or so ...

 Plover Configuration Window: Interface

Plover Configuration Window: Interface

... and for those of you wondering what I wrote up there, it says, "Dictionary search, Plover 4.0 Dev."


For my fellow Mac users, you might run into another problem when you start Plover for the first time:

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

"I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."

What's going on there is that your Mac doesn't recognize Plover as having come from an identified developer, which is basically a developer that released his or her program through the App Store. Thankfully the fix is pretty easy, and you should only have to do it once:

First, click that "Okay" button to dismiss the error message.

Next, click and hold the Control key, then click Plover's icon. You should then see a contextual menu. Click "Open." That should give you this window:

 Are you sure you want to do that?

Are you sure you want to do that?

Well, duh ...!

Um ... in other words, click "Open."

That should take care of that issue -- until the next time you download a new version of Plover, that is.

Accessibility Settings (Mac)

"Okay, so now what?"

Ooh, good question! Now you tell Plover about your writer ... as in, which one it is, and where to "listen" for it, COM port-wise.

Writer Setup

To do that, you'll need to get to the Configuration window, and you do that by clicking the "Configure" button on Plover's main window ...

 Plover's Main Window

Plover's Main Window

-- then click the "Machine" tab -- which gives you this window:

machine selection

Machine Selection

About That Port ...

Chances are good you're trying to figure out which COM port that funky number up there corresponds to, and are drawing a blank.

I'm (fairly) sure that I have mentioned somewhere here on Cheap and Sleazy that I am using a Keyspan TrippLite USB-serial adapter, model number 19HS.

If you look at what's listed as my COM port in the above picture, instead of seeing, say, "COM 4" or something like that, what you actually see is the model number of the adapter and a couple other numbers, about which, I know nothing. Could be the version of the driver software, the programmer's (fairly) significant other's birthday, or it could be something else entirely.

Thankfully, all I need to know is to select the appropriate item in the list when the time comes to do so, and that's just what I did.

... but for those of you who just want to see what it looks like in Windows, here you go:

Plover Machine Configuration -- Windows

Plover Machine Configuration -- Windows

Unfortunately, Windows doesn't show which adapter I'm using; but if I recall correctly, it was a TrippLite U209 adapter ... which, at the time I bought it, had no Mac drivers.

I took a look at the file listing of that mini CD, and (you guessed it ...) no Mac drivers.

Still looking for those "Mac drivers," by the way ... just to see if it will actually work on my iMac (it should).

Say ... did I mention that I have two of those KeySpan TrippLite adapters? Interesting story ...

The long and short of it is the one that I've had all these years suddenly appeared to stop working -- that is, the little light on the adapter quit lighting up when it was connected to my Mac -- so I ordered another one.

When the new one arrived, I noticed after opening the package that the USB cable that connects the adapter to the computer looked like one I had stashed away in my Big Bag o' cables, which was buried somewhere in the second bedroom.

So after a quick (ha!) search through the rather cluttered bedroom, I finally hit paydirt ... and when I connected that cable to my original KeySpan adapter and connected everything to my Mac, that light started blinking like it was supposed to ... so now I have two of 'em! ... and I am using the old one still, leaving the new one safely placed somewhere I can get to it should I need to. Did I mention I bought that adapter back in 2003 or so?!? It's always good when the stuff you buy lasts longer than you expect!

Stenograph's USB Protocol

For those of you who are using one of the newer writers from Stenograph, I have a bit of bad news.

Support for Stenograph's new-ish USB protocol is not quite ready for prime time yet in Plover, so if you are thinking about using, say, a Luminex with Plover, you might be out of luck.

"But wait -- what's *THIS?!?*

Sometime back, I found this interesting tip in the Plover Google Group:

I actually have the Luminex set to Elan Mira, and then select Stentura protocol in Plover. I've just been using it to play around with Plover a bit. Recognized my machine right away. And I'm using a Bluetooth connection for the machine instead of the RT Cable.

(Note to Self: Get one of those Bluetooth gadgets!)

She then posted some instructions on how to make that work:


Install the drivers from the CD that came with the writer. When you load the CD, it should autorun and install.

Hook your steno machine up to your computer.

Go to the Stenograph website to update your writer.

You'll see a build file. Go ahead and download that and double click on it to run it. That will update your machine.

On your steno machine:

Select More/Setup/More/Options

You will see a screen that starts with "Language"

Scroll down to USB Communication and select Change. It will say that changing will require the writer to reset. Select Okay. The writer will reset and change to Mira Emulation.

In Eclipse, you'll want to select Elan Mira as your writer on the input for realtime.

... and after that, she tells you how to load your dictionaries on to the writer and into Eclipse, so I'll spare you those details.

... and about that ProCAT protocol ...

It actually works!

The bad news is, it's a bit buggy.

But before that happened, Plover's new lead developer, Ted Morin, tried to reach out to Bob B. (sorry, I can't remember the correct spelling of his last name), the head man frelling in charge at ProCAT once, and the conversation want something like this:

TED: Hi, Bob. My name is Ted Morin, lead developer on the Plover project, and --

BOB: (*click*)

TED: Hello? Hello?

ProCAT vs Plover

ProCAT vs Plover

Unfortunately, it seems that Bob feels that Plover will cut into his business of selling ProCAT's CAT program, ProCAT Winner.

Actually, I don't think that is correct.

One should think of Plover as a sort of "gateway" drug -- er, path for folks that are new to steno, and need something to learn on without having to attend court reporting school ... and that necessitates (eventually) having a writer to work with.

I'm sure everybody at ProCAT -- well. Maybe one or two folks at ProCAT -- knows that I'm a big fan of the ProCAT Flash ... and, it turns out that ProCAT sells refurbished Flashes from time to time.

Sometimes folks see me incessantly squawking -- er, extolling the virtues of my ProCAT Flash on Facebook every once in a while, and they actually want to buy one ... and since ProCAT still sells them from time to time, those Plover users could be buying those refurbished Flashes directly from ProCAT.

... which is why it would be good for ProCAT to provide the information to make the ProCAT communications protocol work.

Update (06DEC17)

A couple days back, I got a Facebook message from the aforementioned Ted Morin. He wanted me to test a new build of Plover ... in ProCAT mode.

In the interest of science -- er, progress, I agreed, and he sent me a link to a "Dev" (as in "Developer") version to test.

I clicked the link, quit Plover and compressed it, just in case this new version didn't work, installed the new version, started it up, and ... immediately got an error.

I took a screenshot of the error and sent it to him, and about five minutes later, he had another build for me to test ... and that one worked perfectly ... and still does, some seven months later!

Next stop:

Load That Dictionary

Once you have told Plover where to listen for your writer and which writer it is, now you have to load your dictionary -- unless you're just starting out, in which case Plover comes with a built-in dictionary that's basically what Mirabai Knight uses for her CART work and, therefore, is the basis for the lessons in Learn Plover -- which is good if you're attempting to learn steno on your own, and you don't have a dictionary to work with.

On the other hand, you might get lucky and find one of these ...

translating dictionaries disk

Translating Dictionaries CD

... which is a CD containing a few .rtf theory dictionaries, including Phoenix Theory, RealWrite Theory, StenEd Theory, and Stenograph Theory dictionaries.

I'm not sure if Stenograph still sells these, so chances are if you find one for sale by one of the resellers, chances are the theories will be out of date, so you'll probably need to check for updates with the appropriate theory's website.

Once you have that .rtf dictionary, make a copy of it and store it somewhere ... like, say, in your DropBox folder, your Google Drive, your iCloud Drive or even a flash drive.

Once you've got that copy safely stored away, make another copy of it, and compress it. Think of it as yet another backup copy of your dictionary.

You're welcome.

Dictionary Management

I don't know about you, but I tend to avoid adding anything to my theory dictionary other than official updates -- and before I add *THOSE* I check to see if there's already something in one of my other dictionaries with which the potential new entry conflicts -- or in other words, has already been defined as something else -- which means I have to have another dictionary to handle all of those non-Phoenix entries I want to add from time to time ... so I made one called "Glenz_Fast.rtf"-- which you can read more about here.

In addition to those non-Phoenix outlines, that dictionary also gets all of my Q&A extensions -- about which, more later -- and if that's not enough dictionaries, I also create a new job dictionary for each client for whom I am doing transcription work. That's where all of the speaker I.D.s and any terminology I'm pretty sure I will never need for anything else goes.

... but all that stuff's not going to do you very much good if you don't know how to add new entries to your dictionary from your writer, so I should probably show you how to do that.

Dictionary Manipulation

The ability to add stuff to Plover's dictionary without having to take your hands off of your writer is a godsend ... and let me tell you, I've been adding stuff to my Plover dictionary from my writer like a ... like a ... like a mad scientist! (*strikes mad scientist pose*) Mu-hu-hu-ha-ha-ha!!

You, as a Mad Scientist

Me You, as a Mad Scientist

In order to add stuff to your dictionary from your writer, you first have to add three strokes to your dictionary (the old fashioned way -- manually):

(1) A stroke you would use in your CAT software to add stuff to your dictionary;

(2) A stroke that emulates the tab keystroke;

(3) Another stroke that emulates a "Return" stroke.

For step one, I'm using a modified stroke from digitalCAT's Command Editor for "Quick Dictionary Entry," PHA*EU-BGD ("Make Dictionary;" get it?):

digitalCAT's Quick Dictionary Entry Command

digitalCAT's Quick Dictionary Entry Command

My Case Catalyst-using classmates were taught to use TKE-F /TKE-F ("Def Def"), but I like my one-stroke outline, thankyouvery much ... but I digress.

For the tab stroke, I'm using the stroke from the StenoKeys dictionary: TAE-B.

And finally, for the return stroke, I'm using yet another stroke from the StenoKeys dictionary: R-RPB.

... and speaking of StenoKeys, these might come in handy from time to time:

Phoenix Theory StenoKeys

Phoenix Theory StenoKeys

Of course, feel free to use whatever works best for you, which is, of course, the way it should be; after all, this is your dictionary, here.

"Wait a minute. What's with the Tab stroke?"

Ah, a good question!

The idea of doing all of this is to make a dictionary entry from your writer -- that is, you stroke the Add Dictionary entry, which will open the Add Translation window with the cursor landing in the field where you can stroke your desired outline.

So. You stroke that outline ... then stroke that Tab outline, which will move you from one field to the next, which will allow you to add stuff to your dictionary without taking your hands off your writer.

Pretty cool, huh? :o)

... but first, here's how you add stuff to the dictionary by hand -- which you have to add before you can make Plover do it with a key stroke:

First, copy this one:


Next, switch over to Plover and click "Configure." This should give you this (by now) rather familiar window:

Plover's Main Window: Dictionaries

Plover's Main Window: Dictionaries

Hopefully you noticed that my dictionaries are loaded already in the above picture, so (naturally) your window will look different.

Next --

"Wait a minute, Bub. What's that extra dictionary up there?"

Oh, saw that one, huh? Well, that's a fix for what I hope will be a temporary problem with .rtf dictionaries.

As most of you know, I use Plover to write Cheap and Sleazy ... which means I have a few outlines designed to work with my .css files, so I can have the appropriate font appear in the exact way I want it to ... and most of those outlines include something that's supposed to keep out any extra spaces, and that consists of something like this:


So in action, a couple of the translations would look something like this:

Cheap and Sleazy Paragraph Outlines -- English

Cheap and Sleazy Paragraph Outlines -- English

Note that the "</p>" there is automatically generated by the program I use to write Cheap and Sleazy, skEdit ... you should also note the lack of a space between those two arrows.

So. The correct dictionary entries look like these:

C&S Dictionary Outlines -- Dictionary View

Cheap and Sleazy Paragraph Outlines -- Dictionary View

... and for the curious, the "PHRA-S" outline is for the "P class" bit, the "PWO-D" and the "SKWR-EPB" are for "body" and "generic," respectively.

Let's just say I wasn't being very creative when I came up with those, but they stuck! Still kind of fond of that PHRA-S outline, though ...

Anyway, do you see those "{^}" in both of those outlines? Those little "^" symbols are there to tell Plover that there should be no spaces following that symbol. As for what the problem is, this is what those same outlines look like in my "Glenz_Fast" .rtf Plover dictionary:

Cheap and Sleazy Broken Dictionary

Cheap and Sleazy Broken .rtf Dictionary

As for what the big deal is, that little "{^}" there is how I keep the lines of the HTML code flush with the page margin ... though in other places, it's used to keep out any extra spaces.

Here's a couple screenshots of the dictionaries as well as the aforementioned outlines. First the broken one:

broken rtf dictionary and outlines

Broken rtf Dictionary and Outlines

working rtf dictionary and outlines

Working rtf Dictionary and Outlines

And if you're wondering, yes, I did try fixing the outlines as soon as I saw they were not working, but they would always go back to the "broken" state when I quit Plover and/or rebooted my Mac, as you can probably see in the first image up there ... which prompted me to reach out to Ted about what was going on.

Unfortunately, I don't think there's a fix coming; apparently it's something inherent in the .rtf design, or something like that (SHRA*O-EUBGT).

Ted recommended that I create a .json dictionary for those outlines, but I didn't have any tools to do that -- or more correctly, I didn't think I had any tools for that. He told me how to make one ("Just create a new .txt file, type a pair of curly braces in it, then save it as a .json file.") which is what that "extra" dictionary is in the list ... and you can grab a copy of an empty .json dictionary here.

... but in the new version, you can simply have Plover create one for you:

New Dictionary Step One

New Dictionary Step One

New Dictionary Step Two

New Dictionary Step Two

... and, of course, you would make the appropriate selection from the dropdown menu there, and, of course, give your new dictionary an appropriate name.

But again, I digress.

Next, click that "Add Translation" icon ... you know, the little thing that looks like a piece of paper with a green plus sign on it. When you do, you should see this window:

 Mac Add Translation Window

Mac Add Translation Window

Stroke your Add Dictionary entry, then fill in the rest so that it looks like this -- using your steno outline that you selected to bring up the "Add Translation" window, of course:

Adding the Make Dictionary entry

Adding the Make Dictionary Entry

Next, click the "Translation" field, and paste in what I had you copy earlier:


... and click the "OK" button.

This should be more readable:

Steno Outline (PHA*EU-BGD) goes in the first window ... and this goes in the second: {PLOVER:ADD_TRANSLATION}

Okay, now go ahead and add the rest of the three I wrote about earlier:

Steno Outline (TAE-B) goes in the first window ... and this goes in the second: {#Tab}

Steno Outline (R-RPB) goes in the first window ... and this goes in the second: {#Return}

Now for the fun part -- testing your "Make Dictionary" entry!

Switch to another application, then go ahead and hit the stroke you entered to add a new stroke to your dictionary; it may take a couple seconds, but you should see the "Add Dictionary" window appear, at which point you can add some of these:

Steno Translation What it Does
KP*-PB {^ ^}{-|} KP*-PB is cap next with a space.
KP-PB {^}{-|} KP-PB is cap next without a space.
FPLT {.}{-|} A period, a space, and a Cap Next.
FPLT {.} {^ ^}{-|} A period, two spaces, and a Cap Next.
*E-FBG {#Escape} This is the Escape key.
PRA-EF {#Return} {#Return}{^}{-|} PRA-EF is a new double-spaced paragraph.


"Hey, What about --"

Now, I'm pretty sure that my fellow court reporting students are really interested in just one thing ... how to make Plover work with their Q&A.


Well, thanks to the efforts of a reporter I found on the Plover Google Group who was kind enough to share her outlines with me, I think I may have found a solution to that particular problem ... so fire up your copy of Plover, then copy one of these:

{#Return}{#Tab}Q.{^ ^}{-|}

{#Return}{#Tab}A.{^ ^}{-|}

Once you've done that, hit your "Make Dictionary" stroke, hit the appropriate steno stroke, then tab over to the other field, and paste what I had you copy into it.

"Dagnab it! The window closed when I tried to add the steno!"

Yes, that's one thing I forgot to mention! If that happens to you, the fix is (relatively) easy: either add or leave off a key or two in your steno outline.

That should keep the window from vanishing on you.

At this point, you should go ahead and replace any missing notes from your steno outline, then tab over to the other field, and paste that stuff I had you copy into it, then stroke your "enter" stroke ... and test it.

Did it work? If so, here's a few more Plover commands that you might find to be of some use:

Steno Translation What it Does
STKPWHR {#Return}{#Tab}Q.{^ ^}{-|} The Q. symbol, for a document that's already set up as double-spaced.
FRPBLGTS {#Return}{#Tab}A.{^ ^}{-|} The A. symbol, for a document that's already set up as double-spaced.
STKPWHR-FRPBLGTS {#Return}{#Tab}THE COURT{:}{^ ^}{-|} One for the Court.
PBA*EU-FL {^}{#Return}THE BALIFF{:}{^ ^}{-|} One for the Baliff, flush-left.
TKPW-FRPBLGTS {#Return}{#Tab} MR. GONE{:}{^ ^}{-|} A generic speaker ID from my last transcription job.


Note: These definitions were made assuming that you are writing into a document that's double-spaced. If you're writing into a single-spaced document, you should create another dictionary and adjust your Q&A outlines like so:

{#Return} {#Return}{#Tab}Q.{^ ^}{-|}

{#Return} {#Return}{#Tab}A.{^ ^}{-|}

... or you could simply write your transcript as-is, and switch it to single-space when you finish. Whichever one is easiest for you is the way to go ... so I would most likely opt for the second solution.

It should go without saying that you should do the same thing with the other definition, so I won't tell you to go ahead and copy that second definition and repeat the above instructions so you can have the Answer bank working as well.

You're welcome.

"What About Interruptions?"

Wow, it's like you're reading my mind, here!

For those of you who are now Dazed and Confused, sometimes during a deposition or court proceeding, a witness or an attorney will interrupt the flow of questioning with a question or an answer ... you know, like so:

Q. And how long have you been --

A. About three years.

Q. -- pregnant?

... which is why it's good to wait for the attorney to finish his or her question before starting your answer, Ms. Witness ...!

Anyway, a few months back, I ran across an outline somewhere on Facebook designed *JUST* for that kind of situation.

For an interrupted answer, I stroke the Q bank, along with the final side -GS ... which in my theory (Phoenix) is the ending -SH sound ... which, of course, leaves the A bank, proceeded by SH.

I'm pretty sure I don't have to tell you that that "SH" sound fills in for the last two letters in "Dash," right?

As for how that looks in Plover, here we go:

{#Return} {#Tab} A. {^ ^} --

... and here's one for the interrupted question:

{#Return} {#Tab} Q. {^ ^} --

... and you've already seen what it looks like in action, in the form of that three year-long pregnancy question up there. The hardest part about using that outline is to remember it's available!

"Hey, what about --"

Speaker IDs?

"Yeah! And bylines!"

Good question! Just copy the appropriate outline below:

{#Return}{#Tab}Q.{#Tab}BY MR. MARTIN{:}{^ ^}{-|}

{#Return}{#Tab}MR.MARTIN{:}{^ ^}{-|}

... and repeat the previous instructions.

A quick trick for you ...

I have a transcript template that I use with one of my on-again, off-again clients, where there are several potential speakers ... so in that template are outlines like those up there, for those times when a new speaker appears on the scene.

So essentially, all I have to do is replace "Mr. Martin's" name with the appropriate name from the new audio file, come up with an appropriate outline, and add that outline that that client's dictionary.

Another quick trick for you ...

For a byline, I simply add an asterisk to the speaker I.D. outline ... that is, if my outline for MR. MARTIN was STKPWHR-PL, then the byline for Mr. Martin would be STKPWHR*-PL.

Definitely comes in handy when it comes to keeping the two outlines straight.

Of course, it goes without saying that you should modify those definitions for your own speakers, so I won't say it.

... and again, you're welcome!

"Gettin' Modal With It ..."

A few months back, after some complaining whining -- er, a request from me, the Plover Development Team gave us something called "modes."

What I was looking for was a way to emulate the way I was taught to spell out a name that was spelled by a witness, plaintiff or defendant ... that is, all caps, each letter separated by a hyphen, like so:


Instead, somebody got to thinkin' and a-tinkerin' and *BANG!* Modes!

What those are are different ways to write words so that they are formated in a certain way. For instance, if I stroke TA*O-EULT (say "title"), I can now type a name, the title of a book or a movie, without having to worry about hitting the capitalization stroke, like so:

Harry Potter

There's also "Snake Mode," which will produce this when combined with the title mode:


There's also "Caps Mode," which, as you might guess, puts everything in capital letters:


There's also one which will place a hyphen between each word -- or whatever you want to appear between each word -- like so:


... and, of course, you can kill all of the modes you have set with the "Clear" stroke.

Below is what I copied from the Plover Github page which will (hopefully) better explain modes.

Add output modes (manage case and space character)

Introduce a new breed of meta command, "MODE". Now Plover has persistent "modes" that affect the output of the text. The core of the functionality comes from controlling just:

The text case

The space character

For the text case, users can use "CAPS", "TITLE", "LOWER". This lets the text come out IN ALL CAPS, In Title Case, and, in all lowercase.

For the space character, using "SET_STRING", users can effectively replace Plover's built in "space" character with any of their choosing. For example, youcouldsetthecharacter to nothing, or-to-the-dash, or-ow-to-ow-any-ow-arbitrary-ow-string.

Then, to disable the functionality, users can use "MODE:RESET_SPACE" to reset to the default space, "MODE:RESET_CASE" to reset to the default case, and "MODE:RESET" to clear the space character and the case.

Finally, Plover ships with some special mode names to help out programmers: "SNAKE" and "CAMEL". Snake just sets the space character to underscores,_like_this_if_you_will, and Camel sets the next character to lowercase (using "{>}"), sets the case to Title case, and sets the space character to none, thus resulting inThisOutputStyle.

Example dictionary for most of the strokes (reset space and case aren't useful to me personally):


Alas, I never exactly got my hyphenated alphabet, but Phoenix Theory has a way which allows me to use the Caps Mode command and one of the built-in alphabets, so that should work just fine.

... but for the curious, what I would do to stitch the name "Warner" would be to stroke W*-RBGS -- which is the Phoenix Theory stroke for a capital W -- and everything after that would be just the appropriate letter and the asterisk ... you know, like A* /R* /TPH* /*E /R* which would give me this:


Pretty exciting, huh?

No? (Tough room!)

... but on the plus side, it looks like stitching will be part of a future build.

Speaking Of Commands ...

Every once in a while, I will come up with an idea I want to add to an article on Cheap and Sleazy, and so I don't forget, I open the HTML file for the article and write a comment, which is enclosed with a couple of characters that tell a web browser not to display what's between those symbols when opened via the web browser. It looks something like this:

<!-- Comment Goes *HERE* -->

Unfortunately, the stroke I use to make that empty comment would leave the cursor at the end of the line, forcing me to move it five spaces to the left before I could start writing my comment -- which sometimes is just long enough for me to forget whatever the heck it was I was going to write!

Not good.

Turns out the fix was easy: I just had to add five instances of these:


And once I added those, the cursor ended up right where I wanted it to begin with. Here's what the outline looks like in my dictionary:

HTML Comment

HTML Comment

... and no, I'm not going to tell you how long I've been using that stroke without that fix!

A Couple Of Dictionary Tricks

Have you ever found yourself writing on your writer, only to realize you forgot to capitalize the last word?

If so, you're not alone --   er, you can actually fix that with the "Cap Last Word" stroke. Again, to borrow a stroke from the aforementioned StenoKeys dictionary, I use KP-UPB (you know ... "Cap One").

... and you would define that stroke with this:


Of course, there's really nothing to see when I do that without video, so you'll just have to take my word for it -- for now.

Let's Talk Money

Stan Sakai was kind enough to post his list of "Top Essential Plover Commands" a few months back, and chances are good he's got something in there that will be of use to you -- including, of course, outlines for money.

The New Interface

On the Mac, Plover now has both an updated menu and a separate menu icon:

The New Mac Menu

The New Mac Menu

... and in case you're wondering, there's nothing under the Help menu.

Chances are good you can figure out what the first three and the last items do in that list ... but you're probably wondering about the fourth one -- the "Plugins Manager."

"Yeah! So What's the Deal With Those Plugins ...?"

First, if you were to click on that menu item while you're offline, chances are good you won't see anything, so if that's the case with you, don't worry, that's normal.

... but if you were to click that menu item while you're online, an interesting window should appear:

Plover Plugins Manager Loading

Plover Plugins Manager Loading Updating

Sadly, I didn't understand what I was seeing when I clicked that Plugins menu item, so I didn't grab a screenshot at the time. Fortunately, I was a bit quicker on the uptake when the Plugins Manager decided to update itself a few weeks later, which is actually what's depicted in the last picture.

That said ...

What's going on there is the new Plugins Manager is downloading and installing itself to your computer. It should ask you to restart Plover ... and when it does, you should see something new in Plover's main window:

Plover's Plugin Manager Icon

Plover's Plugin Manager Icon

When you click that one, you should see something similar to this window:

About the Plugins Manager

About the Plugins Manager

If you look at the first item in that window there, you should see something about how the Plugins Manager is outdated.

Easy fix! Click that "Install/Update" button there on the right, and that will start the process of downloading the new version and upgrading it.

Originally I had planned on describing all of the plugins (PHR*-EUPBZ, for the curious), complete with screenshots, but ... well. Let's just say I had a change of heart!

And you can probably understand when you look at this screenshot:

Plover Plugins

Plover Plugins

Yes, that's right ... there were far too many plugins for that, so I decided to just focus on the three I have listed.

I will, however, share two three of them here. First, for those of you who want to use your USB Stenograph writers with Plover without using a USB-serial adapter, take a look at this one:

Plover Stenograph Plugin Mac Install

Plover Stenograph Plugin Mac Install

Note that I didn't have to do all that typing in the terminal there below the install window; that was done completely by the plugin!

Unfortunately, I don't have any Stenograph writers handy to check to see if it works ... but one day ...

Ever wonder how fast you're writing on your writer? Well, wonder no more, because now you've got the "Plover WPM Meter" I requested a few months back ... which, as you might guess, tells you how fast you were writing.

Here's the Plover Speed Meter in action:

Plover Speed Meter

Plover Speed Meter

Unfortunately, when you stop writing to look at the meter, the numbers start declining, so you have to look fast!

If you've been hanging out in the various court reporting forums or in any of the court reporting-related Facebook groups, chances are you've heard -- er, seen somebody talking about how they put together a dictionary for a case they're working on chock full of unfamiliar terminology, and they used a feature of their CAT software to go through a list and add those words and phrases to the dictionary of their choosing.

You've seen that before, right?

Well, either way, Plover's got your back! Check it out:

Plover Dictionary Builder

Plover Dictionary Builder

Pretty Cool, Huh?

As you might imagine, there are a lot of interesting plugins, including one for the Treal, which is a rather ... well. Less talkie, more showie! Here you go:

The Treal Keyboard

The ($795) Treal keyboard

In other words, there's a plugin that will allow you to use Plover with that particular writer ... and you can see the plugin window here:

Plover-Treal Plugin

Plover-Treal Plugin