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

By G.D. Warner

Quick and Easy Plover

Plover for the Left-Brained

 

This is intended to be a version of the Plover instructions for those that are of the "Just the facts, ma'am!" persuasion!

-o0o-

Get Plover:

This is where you can download the current build of Plover:

https://github.com/openstenoproject/plover/releases

When you go to that page, you will see something like this:

Plover Downloads

Plover Downloads: Preliminaries

 

... but to get to where you can actually download anything, click the blue letters there at the top of that image, which should give you this:

Plover Downloads Two

Plover Downloads: The Business Side of Things

 

"Um ... do I have to download all of them?"

Nope!

As you (probably) know, Plover works on Windows, the Mac, and Linux ... so if you're on Windows, the file you want is the one that ends in "win32.zip."

Yes, I know what you're thinking ...

"But what about that "setup.exe," file?!?"

Good question ...!

The "Setup" file is an actual installer which will run you through the usual installation steps with all the questions and whatnot, while the "win32.zip" file is simply the Plover program itself, which, by the way, you can actually run from a flash drive -- after you unzip it, of course -- while the installer just runs on your computer, and installs everything in the appropriate folders.

In other words, when you want to update Plover, you just download that "win32.zip" file, unzip it, and move it to where the original file was -- but you're going to want to compress the old one first, which you should be able to do with a simple right-click (or control-click for my fellow Mac users).

As for why you would want to do that, sometimes those new builds don't work, and having the original version compressed somewhere is a good way to get back to what works should the new version crap out (technical term) on you.

... and just so you know, I do that with pretty much any program I update.

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

My fellow Mac users would download the .dmg ("Disk Image") file.

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.dev8+66.g685bd33 ... which is a far cry from the version I wrote about in the original article (which was version 2.58 for the curious)!

Once downloaded, move the "win32.exe" file to your "Programs" folder. Note that this is not really necessary, because Plover will actually run from anywhere you put it, including a flash drive, but I'm a big fan of APFEAEIIP, so ...

You may have to right-click and select "Run as Administrator" if you're running Windows 7 or above.

My fellow Mac users have a different way to install Plover, as shown here:

Mac Plover Install

Mac Plover Install

Yes, that's right ... just drag Plover to the Applications folder, and that's it.

Well. Mostly.

As for what to do next, I know it goes without saying, but ... "Start It Up."

But First ...

Because of the way the Mac's security system is set up, the first time my fellow Mac users start Plover by double-clicking it, they will be presented with an error message:

Mac Unidentified Developer, Take One

Mac Unidentified Developer Error

They should instead hold the Control key down, click the Plover icon once, which would yield this window:

Mac Plover Control-Click

Mac Plover Control-Click

... where "Open" should be clicked. That will bring up this window:

Mac Unidentified Developer, Take Two

Mac Unidentified Developer, Take Two

... which is the same as before, but with an "Open" button this time, so now Plover can be opened.

Once you've opened Plover, you have to bend it to your will configure it so it knows what kind of writer you have, where to find your writer, and where your dictionary is.

Configure Plover

You will need to know which COM port your USB-Serial adapter is on.

In order to do this, those of you on Windows will need to open the Device Manager ... and there are seven ways to do that. This article shows you four of them.

My favorite method: Right-click an empty spot on the desktop, select "New," then select "Shortcut, " and when asked, type in "devmgmt.msc".

Device Manager

The Device Manager

Here's the Windows 10 Device Manager:

Windows 10 Device Manager

Windows 10 Device Manager

... about which, I know very little! Fortunately, as I have been known to say from time to time, "Google is your Friend," and my "friend" just lead me to this page: http://www.tenuser.com/spec/devmgmt.htm

One quick way to get to the Device Manager in Windows 10 from that article would be to right-click the Start menu, then select the Device Manager there at the top of the list:

Device Manager in Windows 10

Device Manager in Windows 10

Memorize or write down the appropriate COM port number, switch to Plover, and click the Configure button.

Here's my Windows 7 Plover install's list of serial ports:

Windows Plover:  COM Ports

Windows Plover: COM Ports

... and here's how things look for my fellow Mac users:

machine selection

Mac Machine Selection

The number shown in the Port window is actually the model number of my Keyspan TrippLite USB-serial adapter, model number 19HS.

For my fellow Mac users, if you don't see anything like what I have up there, click the "Scan" button, and select whatever looks like the name of your USB-serial adapter, make the appropriate changes in the other controls, then click "Okay."

For my readers following the Windows instructions, select the number you wrote down earlier. If you don't see your COM port listed, click the "Scan" button and look again.

Still nothing? Time for some troubleshooting.

Make the appropriate selection and click Okay.

Writer Selection

Click the "Machine" tab in Plover.

Do you see the "extra" configure button to the right of the window? Click the button to the left of it. That's where you should see a list of the writers supported in Plover:

Windows Plover Steno Machine Select List

Windows Plover Steno Machine Select List

Make your selection and click "Save."

Note the check box there on the left, near "Automatically Start."

You're going to want that checked. Otherwise, Plover will just sit there and do nothing after you double-click it, but you won't notice until you start writing, and nothing appears.

Dictionaries

Click the "Dictionary" tab. You should see something like this:

Win Plover: Default Dictionary

Windows Default Dictionary

If you have an .rtf version of your theory dictionary on your computer, click the "Add Dictionary" button, and use the file navigation window that appears to find your .rtf dictionary.

If you don't have one, now's the time to fix that ... and you should be able to do that either through your existing CAT software or have one of your classmates from your court reporting school export their theory dictionary for you.

Next, you should have an empty RTF dictionary so you can add your own outlines to it, and not have them go into your main dictionary. You can get one of those empty .rtf dictionaries here.

RTF Dictionary Update

I had a rather nasty problem with one of my RTF dictionaries a few months back, so I had to create a JSON dictionary for those outlines that had characters like " ^ "would lose their surrounding brackets, thereby breaking the entire outline.

That is, this --

Good RTF Outlines

Good RTF Outlines

-- suddenly started looking like this:

Bad RTF Outlines

Broken RTF Outlines

Note the selected line. And the lines below it.

For those of you wondering something along the lines of "So what? What's the big deal?" the problem is that without those missing brackets, the formatting doesn't appear correctly when rendered by a web browser.

I complained about that -- twice, actually -- but apparently it is a problem inherent with RTF dictionaries.

Unfortunately, the only solution was to create a .JSON dictionary and re-create all of the outlines I use for Cheap and Sleazy ... which I did.

Oh, and somewhere along the way, all of my punctuation quit working, for the very same reason.

Fixed that.

-o0o-

Anyway, once you have your personal dictionary in there, feel free to delete the default dictionary -- unless, of course, that's the theory you actually use (StenEd for the curious).

Note that if you were to try to delete that dictionary without adding another one, that default dictionary would reappear, along with a few others ... which, as you might guess, makes it hard to use Plover for finger exercises when you just want to see raw steno. It took a while, but I discovered that using a dictionary that just had the basic Plover commands (#Return and #Tab) allowed me to just see that raw steno I wanted to see, so that's something.

Once you've got your dictionaries where they're supposed to be, click "Save."

Now you can test Plover to make sure everything's working the way it's supposed to be ... and you can do that by opening either NotePad, WordPad, or one of my favorite Windows programs, Jarte and writing something.

Did it work? Hope so! If not, go back and look over the instructions and make sure you didn't miss anything, then try it again. Once you have written your first few words and you can see that they are translating correctly, tear yourself away, because there's more work to be done!

Making Dictionary Entries From Your Writer

Switch to Plover and click the "Configure" button, then click the "Add Translation" button. You should see something like this:

Add Translation Window

Add Translation Window

Next, you're going to add three entries into that empty .rtf dictionary I had you add:

(1) A stroke you 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

If you don't have strokes for either of these, come up with something, and write them down somewhere. For now, I'll share the ones I use ... so where you see the steno outlines in the next couple of pictures, imagine your own steno outlines in there.

My "Add Dictionary" stroke is this one:

PHA*-BGD

That one came from digitalCAT, less the asterisk, but I think those of you on Case Catalyst might use "TK-EF/TK-EF" or something similar.

Whatever stroke you've decided on, place your cursor in that left field (where it says, "Strokes:") and stroke your preferred outline.

In the "Translation" field, either type or copy and paste this in:

{PLOVER:ADD_TRANSLATION}

Once you've done so, click the "Add to Dictionary" button. This will close the Add Translation window.

For the tab entry (I'm using TA-EB, by the way), go ahead and stroke the "Add Dictionary" stroke. This should open the Add Dictionary window.

Stroke your desired tab entry, and either type or copy and paste this in the Translation field:

{#Tab}

Again, click the Add Dictionary button to add that to your dictionary.

Lastly -- for these three, anyway -- you will be adding the "return" entry.

Stroke your "Add Dictionary" stroke to open the "Add Translation" window.

Stroke the outline you selected for your "return" stroke.

Either type or paste this into the Translation field:

{#Return}

Click the Add Translation button.

Now you should be able to do all of those steps from your writer. And as for what to enter, you can start with 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.
PRAEF {#Return}{#Return}{#Tab}{-|} Two returns, a tab, and a Cap Next.
STPH-FPLT {^!}{-|} An exclamation mark and a Cap Next.
*E-FBG {#Escape} This is the Escape key.
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.
PWA*EU-FL {^}{#Return}THE BALIFF{:} One for the Baliff.
TKPW-FRPBLGTS {#Return}{#Tab}MR. GONE: {^^}{-|} A generic speaker ID from my last transcription job.
STKPWHR {#Return}{^ ^}Q.{^ ^}{-|} A Q bank for Realtime Coach.
FRPBLGTS {#Return}{^ ^}A.{^ ^}{-|} An A bank for Realtime Coach.

 

A Quick Q&A Tip

Chances are good that when you tried to enter those Q&A entries up there in the Strokes window, you noticed that the Add Translation window closed before you could actually add anything, right?

Yes, when that first happened to me, I didn't find that to be the most pleasant surprise. Fortunately, there's a workaround.

When the Add Translation window appears, stroke your desired stroke -- but this time, either add or leave out one key from your desired stroke. Now you can either delete or add the appropriate key into the Strokes window, and then you can add in your desired translation and not worry about the Add Translation window going away on you.

You're welcome!

A Quick Note: Plover and Realtime Coach

A couple months back as I write this, the folks at Realtime Coach were having a contest, to see who could get in the most practice hours during a free demo of RTC, and the winner would win a free month (I think that's what it was) on RTC.

Sounded good to me, so I created an account, logged in, started my first Q&A practice session, and as soon as I stroked my Q bank, I was kicked out of the window I was trying to write into, and taken back to what was pretty much a blank screen.

After a couple more attempts, I gave up and contacted Support. Long story (relatively) short, the support tech said that it was because of the tabs in my Q&A outlines.

I don't know if that's case, but feel free to adjust a few of your Q&A outlines so that they match the outlines in those last two rows.

Also, since RTC apparently is going to be the preferred platform for NCRA testing, it certainly can't hurt to create another dictionary just for Q&A on Realtime Coach.

... and I'm pretty sure I don't have to tell you to not forget your Q&A extensions, so I won't.

"Testing ... testing ... one, two, three --!"

Go ahead and test those and make sure that they work.

Did they work? If so, you know what to do ...

Yes, that's right -- throw your head back and laugh like a mad scientist!! Mu-hu-hu-ha-ha-ha!!

 

You, as a Mad Scientist

You, as a Mad Scientist

-o0o-

Oh, wait! Almost forgot!

One of the new features of Plover 4.X is the inclusion of plugins, which are a way to add features to Plover, thanks to the Plugins Manager, which you can see under the Tools menu:

Windows Plover Plugins

Windows Plover Plugins

Here's how it looks for my fellow Mac users:

Mac Plover Plugins

Mac Plover Plugins

Now, then ... here's how you activate the Plugin Manager. I bet you'll be surprised with the ease here!

Click it.

Yes, that's right ... I said click it.

When you do so, you should see something like this:

Plugins Manager Outdated

Plugins Manager Outdated

As you can see in the picture up there at the top left, the Plugins Manager needs to be updated. To do that, click that button that says "Install/Update." It will update itself --

Plugins Manager Updating

Plugins Manager Updating

-- and then it will tell you to restart Plover. Do so.

When it's ready, take a look at your brand-spankin' new Plugins Manager:

New Plugins Manager

New Plugins Manager

As you can see, there are several new plugins you can put to use! For those of you with one of the new Stenograph writers that connect via USB, you will need to locate the "Plover-Stenograph-USB" plugin:

Plover Stenograph USB Plugin

Plover Stenograph USB Plugin

... and yes, it works on Macs.


13JAN21 Update

Chances are good you might have noticed that the Plugins Manager has stopped working.

If so, you can find the solution here.

Plugins Manager Fix

Plugins Manager Fix


Well. That's it! Hope this is enough to get you started. Good luck!

-o0o-