Finger Drill Generator

ATTENTION WINDOWS USERS: Click and play version here. NO INSTALLATION REQUIRED. Download the .zip, unzip it, and double click the .exe.

After a bit of reflection on the best way to handle this, I’ve written a free computer program to help create finger or word drills for students and educators. The program has about 10 preset lists and allows you to create and load your own custom finger drills.

The video tutorial is here.

If you hate computers, I created about 10 drills using this program and I share them here.

For a quick text tutorial:

  1. Download and install Python 3.
  2. Get the program text at this location or this location. Copy and paste it into a notepad file.
  3. Save the notepad file, preferably in its own folder by itself.
  4. The program should say something like name.txt. If you don’t see the .txt, you need to look up how to show hidden file extensions.
  5. Change that .txt to a .py. Double left click and the program will launch.
  6. The black box will give you a series of 13 numbers and their corresponding “drill list.” You can enter the number of the category you want, or create your own custom list. At this time, custom lists only work properly if you use single words.
  7. Once you’ve chosen a category or created a list, you choose the wpm and number of minutes. The program will then create a text file by multiplying wpm * minutes. AKA, 225 wpm * 10 minutes is like 2,000 words. If you enter a very large number here, it may cause problems, like a computer freeze.  I would not advise entering more than 300 wpm for more than 300 minutes (90,000 words). As a matter of fact, do not do it.
  8. Having a finger drill by itself is useless. You can use my transcript marker or Todd Olivas’s slasher to automatically mark the program for speed dictation.

Educators and students, if you have not already, feel free to check out the transcript marker and written knowledge test randomizer.

 

Written Knowledge Test Randomizer

ATTENTION WINDOWS USERS: Click and play version here. NO installation required. Download the zip, unzip it, and double click the .exe.

If you support projects like this, feel free to show it by buying a Sad Iron Stenographer Mug, donating, sharing this post, or suggesting questions to increase the variation in mock tests.

I’ve created a computer program that chooses preselected questions at random and creates a WKT-style test. It also creates an answer key. It uses .txt format so pretty much every computer since Windows 95 can run it. Note that for all of this stuff you should use a laptop or desktop. Using a mobile phone will make using these materials much harder. The program will change the numeral of each question every time, as well as randomize whether its answer is A, B, C, or D.

Basically, take a practice test or two, see how well you do, and if you see things you don’t know, look them up. You’ll be doing yourself a huge favor for your next written-knowledge style test.

See my previous comments on studying for legal and medical terminology.

If you hate computers, you can get 26 randomized tests here in a .zip folder.

If you want to use the program for yourself but don’t know how it works, check out my video tutorial here.

If you don’t like video tutorials, try the following:

  1. Download and install Python 3. It probably won’t matter if it’s 3.6, or 3.7.
  2. Go to the code for my computer program. Copy and paste it into a notepad file. If you are confused, the computer program is the text labeled 001 WKT Generator v1.py.
  3. Save the notepad file and close it. You can name it anything. I suggest you call it ChrisDayIsAnnoying.
  4. Change the .txt that you just saved to a .py. Read this if you do not know how to show file extensions or do not see .txt.
  5. Now you have a .py file. It’ll look something like ChrisDayIsAnnoying.py. Take that .py file and stick it in a folder by itself. You don’t have to, but it’ll make your life easier.
  6. Double click the .py file, or right click it and run/open it. It’s going to come up with a black box, say some words, and then you’re going to press enter, and the box is going to go away.
  7. When the box goes away, in the folder with your .py file will be two files, Mock Test.txt and Answer Key.txt. You now have a random mock test and its answer key,
  8. Special note, if you intend to run the program again, you must change the name of the Mock Test and Answer Key. The program creates a new Mock Test.txt and Answer Key.txt every time, and it will overwrite any files that have the same exact name as Mock Test..txt and Answer Key.txt.

Associations and Why You Matter

The other day on Facebook I came across some rather honest remarks about the upcoming NYSCRA social. They said hey, Diamond Reporting has been depressing our rates for a while, how are we supposed to feel with their names on this event?

Let’s just say we have touched on the fact that sponsors of events do not control the event. The working reporter controls the NYSCRA leadership, and when you sign up as a member you become a part of the decision-making process.

This blog is all about the working reporter. By the time I’m done with it, I’ll have figured out how to organize the dozens of posts a bit better and the 200 or so monthly readers will have an easier time finding information. That said, it’s time to talk less about Stenonymous and more about you.

You matter. I did the math on it. Think of anything you want to legislate in New York. Stenographers in the courts? Bring back the Workers Comp stenographers? Copy protection since courts often rule our transcripts are not copyright protected? This is all done with funding, representation, and grassroots action. Lobbying is expensive and can cost 5,000 to 50,000 a month. In a six-month New York legislative session that might be 30,000 to 300,000 dollars a year. Seems impossible, right? But let’s use some easy numbers. There are 1,300 reporters on the NYSCRA Facebook page. If 500 of those reporters (38 percent) donated 100 bucks a year, which is less than the $165 annual membership, NYSCRA would have a lobbying war chest of 50,000 a year cash. In only two years, NYSCRA would have the cash for a $100,000 lobbying campaign. What could we do with a biannual lobbying campaign of 100k? Even assuming we fail half of all campaigns for ten years, that’s 2 or 3 successful campaigns. Between playing political Powerball and grassroots action, we have a serious shot at making a difference. For a C-note a year and a letter or two when there’s a campaign on, January to June, you’re looking at bolstering your field, securing your job, and protecting all of your fellow stenographers.

And I’m not saying 100 a year is easy to give up. I’ve given up thousands of dollars in membership fees and donations to organizations over the years. I’ve felt the sting of putting down money I didn’t necessarily have. I felt the pain when the Workers Comp campaigns failed. It cost a lot of good people their job and made those that kept the job miserable. I know a lot of you reading felt what I felt. I know a lot of you reading had to do more than feel it. Some of you had to live it. But there are two options: Suffer through the defeats so that we might see victory, or put our heads in the sand and wait for the next big thing to come around and threaten our jobs.

There’s a lot to say for the human factor. Machines don’t vote. Politicians will side with stenographers when they learn how many stenographers they represent. But the bottom line is we have to put together resources to educate them. To do that, you matter.

A Quick Note About Typos On This Blog

Once upon a time, and still from time to time, I poke fun at typos, errors, or omissions in various forms of media including newspapers, news articles, and blog posts. Having come to a point where I write my own blog, I see how fast the typos can pile up. When I wrote primarily on my PC and made specific time to write, my posts were generally very clean. Now that I’m hooked up on mobile and find myself writing any time I have time, I see that mistakes are quite common. Periods go missing, commas get misplaced, text gets accidentally deleted, header scripts get added to paragraph text.

I need to ask a favor of every reader now that the blog is approaching a good 400 views a month or more: Let me know when I have made a mistake. Laugh about it. Post jokes publicly or privately. Do what you have to do to make yourself feel better, but let me know that there’s an error so that it can be fixed.

In return, I do and will continue to practice what I preach and gently let publications know when there are errors. I will do my best to read all criticisms and correct things I feel warrant correction. The rationale here is simple: We may disagree with each other’s views or philosophy, but it is intellectually dishonest to point at a spelling/grammar mistake and say that makes someone less of a reporter, writer, or truth teller. We protect the collective record, so to speak, when we speak up and let each other know there’s a mistake or a goof.

There’s a time and place for castigation of people who needlessly and carelessly make mistakes. For everyone else, there’s a road to improvement and a way forward, and it reflects positively on every reporter when we encourage others to do better.