That's a very cool system you've made, Proword. I want to ask, do you have to program a new shorthand for every new word you encounter? And how long did it take you to build your dictionary to the point where you can type most normal sentences? (disregarding medical lingo, proper names, etc. - as those always have to be made anew when first encountered)
I ask because, while I like your system and idea of personalized shorthand - using what makes most sense to YOU for your typing, my concern is the length of time one would have to dedicate to make his or her dictionary ready for fast transcription. Like I mentioned, standard steno dictionaries are filled with more vocabulary than one can ever learn word by word. Plover has over 120,000 strokes which I estimate is around 75-100,000 words and phrases in total. The benefit I find to the language, is that you don't actually have to learn each stroke/word individually, and it is based on the logic of the language, so it makes sense to those who learn the general system and practice. And of course, with the base knowledge of the language, people still make their dictionaries their own, with their own shorthand that, like your system makes sense to them personally. The difference I'm trying to emphasize is that there is that important base language, logic and extensive dictionary under which more people can learn and effectively type any word they want without creating as many new shorthands/shortcuts.
The basis of my system works pretty much in reverse to the stenotype language model in that the user starts out being able to type English "normally" ie keying every word in full, and then as one gets a handle on a particular topic, eg law or medicine, one starts creating abbreviations "on the fly". So if for example I come across an expression which occurs a couple of times in a single page, I may look at it and mentally say that looks like it might be worth abbreviating for the future, and quite literally I'll let my fingers key in an abbreviation without further thought. If nothing happens then that abbreviation has not been used for anything else, so then I just create the abbreviation in QuickCorrect (the WordPerfect equivalent of MS Word's AutoCorrect) and that's all I have to do, because next time I come across that expression, I'll hit that abbreviation and bingo! It's done. Whilst it does happen, it's very rare that I will execute an abbreviation and have something different come up. So then I just look at the two expressions, decide which I'm likely to use more often and go with that. If I have to create a different abbreviation because the "old" one is too useful, then so be it. It only takes a couple of goes before the new one is in my fingers.
I've noticed that over the last couple of years, I've grown so used to doing shorthand that I'll run a (non-existent) short form without even thinking about it, and if that happens, then I'll create it, even if I don't think I'm likely to use it often, because, hey, I've generated the linkage, so why not use it?
It's pretty hard to be precise, but I think the best explanation is I'm teaching myself a new way of "spelling" something. When I'm typing (and other people have said the same thing) there's a big difference between keying in the letters "f-o-r-t-u-n-e" and the word "fortune", no matter how quickly and clearly the individual letters may be spoken. I merely have learned how to spell "fortune" with the keystrokes "f-t-u". I spell "fortunate" "f-n-u" and I spell "fortnight" "f-n". And once I get a single abbreviation I can build on it. So "f-n-y" will give "fortnightly", while "f-n-u-y" gives "fortunately", and "u-f-n-u-y" becomes "unfortunately". There can also be a crossover between hot keys and short words. I use Ctrl+L to give me "able" and Ctrl+M to give "ment". So "lamentable" becomes "L-a-[Ctrl+M][Ctrl+L]". But I can also make a short form of "l2" for "able to" and "u-l-2" expands to "unable to". And so it goes.
Unlike MS Word, WordPerfect has a couple of very nice tricks. One is the "keyboard map" which shows in one screen every keystroke combo available, unlike MS Word, which only shows one set of keystrokes at a time. The other lovely one is being able to save each keyboard map, and change it at will. I may be wrong, since I haven't done too much serious experimentation, but the keyboard map in MS Word is attached to the document template and can't be changed without opening a new document with the new map.
Using this function I can have a large number of different keystroke sets for different topics, so in one keyboard the keystroke combo of "Alt+H" may mean "hepatic" but swapping to a different keyboard "Alt+H" may mean "high voltage". I have a "basic" set of hot keys, which are attached to the "Ctrl" functions, while "Alt" functions will vary depending on the topic. So in ALL of my keyboard maps "Ctrl+A" gives me "ation", but "Alt+A" will (or may) be different in each one.
Further, by changing the "language" setting I can have different expansions for the same abbreviations. So in one language file, "fta" might expand as "further talks" but changing to another language "fta" could be expanded to "fixed tangential axis". Whilst I've never needed more than three language files, WP will support roughly 30 different languages, so there's a huge flexibility.
Changing the keyboard (or language) in mid-document is very useful, because, as I mentioned I worked in a forensic pathology practice doing autopsies, and when I left there I returned to working in court, which included Coroner's Court, and this involves the pathologist reading from their post mortem report on a deceased person, so when the doctor gets into the witness box, I simply switch to my medical files while he or she reads aloud,(I had a different set of files for each of the three pathologists) because I've got much of the report already abbreviated. It was a weird feeling, but I actually had to transcribe in court a PM report which I'd done while working for the pathologists the previous year.
When I first got serious about doing shorthand back in 1990, I showed my boss (who was a reporter herself, so knew the value of it) what I'd achieved and I wrote that whilst I currently had upwards of 150 macros, I could see no reason why I couldn't get to 500. But now I'm in the vicinity of 7000 and still generate one or two new ones every day on average.
To answer your question about how much time I dedicate to make my dictionary ready for fast transcription, well, on average I suppose it would take between 5 and 10 seconds to create an abbreviation. If I've already typed the full expression in I simply select the text, open the QuickCorrect function (I've a dedicated clickable button in the tool bar) type in the abbreviation (the full expression will already be in the appropriate column), click on OK, and it's done. So it's not a case of sitting down and having a brain storming session of creating hundreds of abbreviations, but just doing what seems like a good thing at the time. Although there will be times when I'll take on a new topic (say I'm typing a university thesis on engineering, like stress in concrete which I can recall from long ago) I'll read through it, ask the client if there are any particularly difficult, obscure or frequently recurring words or phrases I'm likely to come across, then I WILL create a unique set of abbreviations and hot keys. But this will usually consist of taking an existing word list, copying it and renaming it, then going through and replacing existing (uncommon in this context) abbreviations with useful ones, so I wouldn't make one up from whole cloth. But when I've finished that topic I delete that language's word list and the linked keyboard map so I can re-use them later on.
Proword, your Steno friend must have been a long while back. AFAIK, all real time steno systems are computer interfacable, first with a serial port, and currently with USB.
Yes, Graywolf it WAS some time ago.
Hope that helps you.