Tech Tock

Time is of the essence.

RSVP = Really Fast Reading


A colleague at Lab49 just informed me of the existence of Rapid Serial Visual Presentation/RSVP speed reading apps. They’re amazing. Basically, the words of your reading selection are displayed in place one after another. With this interface, 300 words per minute seems slow to me and I can easily read news articles at 600 wpm.

imageThese apps are available on web and mobile.  On the web I’m using spreeder which has a website and chrome extension.  Just highlight web page text, right click and choose so spreed it. Using the spreeder bookmarklet may be the best choice here since it has keyboard control for increasing and decreasing the speed while reading.  Using the Shortcut Manager extension, you can make a shortcut for the bookmarklet and just highlight and hotkey.

For my Android phone there are a few apps: Rapid Read, fast reader, Speed Reader, Speed Reader Lite, Speed Reading HD. I haven’t decided which one I like best. They use copy/paste and open file to get text. Luckily on my phone, there is a select all button when copying. Unfortunately none of these can handle PDFs yet. So I’m converting all my PDFs to text with Free PDF to Text Converter in Windows and PDF Image & Text Extractor on my phone. The phone app actually fixed some errors the Windows app had with one file.

Fast reader is the best app for reading text files since it save your place and has a history of files read and shows the full text when you pause, the only app with this featur. imageUnfortunately, it tends to crash when switching imageback and forth and pasting text from web pages. No matter, the Rapid Read is quite capable with pasted text and its on screen controls are pleasing.  Its scroller is decent for navigating shorter text.

These Android and Web apps are good, but not as great as they could be. The best features I’ve used so far are in the Spreed Web Reader which has keyboard controls for increasing and decreasing speed while you read and an option to slow down for big words. I’ve used Spreed a lot and its so much better than regular reading though the layout, options and hotkey choices could be improved. There’s an option to change speed while reading with +/- but it only works if your keyboard has a number pad. Also, the play/pause hotkey is p, but spacebar would be easier and more intuitive. A speed reading app should really consider hotkey speed and use keys that are close enough to work with one hand without moving.

The original app Rob pointed out is Spritz. It looks like it could be the best judging from the demo on their website. I feel like such a vaporware victim since its not available yet. Its coming on the Samsung Gear2 and S5, and I can’t wait for general release Android apps using their technology. Spritz has one thing none of the others have: “Optimal Recognition Point” or ORP. That explains the red letter in the middle and the vertical lines. Its pleasing and functional. And so far unavailable.

March 8, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hooray, Asynchronous Code Debug Support

In VS2013, Only for Windows 8.1 Sad smile

I could download the VS2013 at right now, but I don’t know when my client will get me Windows 8.1.  Since so many financial companies just made it to Windows 7 in the last couple years it could be a while…

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

A Few Short Words

As a fan of word games, and dabbling a little with Html and JavaScript, I made this little app (a few months ago), to drill on 2 letter words.  Sometime I’ll add the 3 letter words and more.

I played around with augment, es5 shim sham, and require.js, and of course jQuery and jQueryUI.  I probably made a bit of a mess, but its just for fun.

Of course it comes with unit tests in qUnit. If its good enough for jQuery, its good enough for my toys.

Play it here.

As usual, also available on GitHub.

Now back to WPF till enough people ask me for 3 letters.


July 23, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

Thank you Jon Skeet

Q: Can Jon Skeet ask a question that even Jon Skeet can’t answer?
A: Yes. And he can answer it, too.

March 16, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Weird VS Bug 99

Still a bug in VS 2012.

It happened frequently to me on my current work machine in VS2010 that the VS Global Search stops working with this annoying message:

“No files were found to look in. Find was stopped in progress.”

This is the answer: Ctrl + Scroll Lock

March 15, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Git disHarmony

If only my various git interfaces would play together nicely.

This is too regular an occurrence.

image (2)

March 8, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Function Declarations vs. Function Expressions

Great post on the subtleties of Javascript functions with examples and quiz.

March 6, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

VS 2012 – Not as bad as 2010

Recently started using VS 2012. It’s growing on me.  Here’s my first impressions from my current focus as a C#/.Net WPF developer.

The bad

The bad parts are similar to bugs in VS 2010

  • MS Test "Now even more unusable than ever":  can’t run tests in current context and all the tests in a project are lumped together so you can’t just look for tests in one class.  Workaround: use ReSharper as your test runner.
  • Similarly slow worthless XAML designer.  Workaround: switch to XML view and move on.
  • Similarly slow to startup, load/reload projects.  Particularly awful when switching between git branches.  Workaround: close the solution, switch, reopen.
  • Similarly freezing on reloading projects in large solutions.  Workaround: go for coffee.
  • Breaks compatibility with old TFS versions.  Workaround: git tfs and wait for your tfs server to be upgraded.
  • It still has this error with the find function, which is by now just a quirk since I’ve seen it so often
  • the status bar says "Ready" well before a build completes
    • Error list doesn’t reliably clear when building
  • switches from output window to the error list when starting a build
  • copying text from the dark theme doesn’t include the background, so its invisible when you paste it somewhere (white text on white background)
  • Frequent freezing caused by the XAML editor can be fixed by this PowerShell script (if you must use the XAML editor and for some reason don’t want to switch to XML editor) 

      kill -processname XDesProc.exe*
      Start-Sleep -s 1

  • XAML Designer crashes even though I don’t use it.  That’s a powerful bug:image

The Good

After 2 years, you would think they could impress right out of the box, but not really, but after you use it for a while, you won’t want to go back.

  • Highlighting all instances of a searched word on a page
  • Included dark theme is nice
  • When changing XAML/XML tags editor changes both tags at once – open and close
  • Better intellisense in XAML
  • Ignore specific exceptions directly from the dialog.  A big time saver:


  • Intellisense is working better in XAML for Static Resources even though I’m in the XML editor (not sure if this comes from VS or R#)

February 28, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 2 Comments


The Gregg Shorthand Manual Simplified

I take most of my notes in Gregg Shorthand.  Its helped me a lot.  Now I’m teaching my son to write the script with this 1955 edition.  You can get it on Amazon for next to nothing.  Its wonderfully anachronistic with its advertisements for coal heating tune-ups and hotel rooms for 4 dollars.

I find shorthand very easy to write and harder to read. I have very little reading practice. I write 10 times more than I read and only use notes for a few detail confirmations.

The hardest part of learning shorthand is the few words in the writing/reading practice that just don’t make sense no matter how hard you try (and are so obvious once you find out – like most bugs).  I’ve made some recordings so that won’t be a problem.  Here’s a link to the lesson 8 and 9 readings.  I’ll post the earlier lessons on request.


Here’s the request for 300 copies of a mailing piece in reading 63 below:



February 8, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Back to (Code) School


I’m refreshing my Internet skills with the excellent Code School online course jQuery Air.  They make it interesting and productive with good production values and coding challenges. The course dates from 2011 at least, just before a batch of goodies in jQuery 1.7.

It gives a great overview.  You’re on your own to stay current though.

The intro jQuery course is free.  Highly recommended.

February 6, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment