MTComments on Using Abbreviation Programs

More comments on Smartype / Back to Speed Typing

5/96, from Mike Stephenson:
I used to use PRD and now I have used ShortCut (SC) for a couple of months. Here is some specific information on SC: It costs $150. It's currently for DOS only, but a windows version is coming out soon. It is most similar to PRD in function rather than FF or ExplodeIt! which are both very limited. SC has a couple of advantages over PRD though: It has an unlimited number of macros (limited only by available expanded memory). It uses about half the exapanded memory PRD does for the same number of macros. It allows you to search your long forms for occurrences of specified text (very helpful for finding macros and for editing groups of macros). It allows user to configure toggle key, skip key, and hot key.

The only thing really missing from SC that PRD has is the {Accept} command, so if you use this extensively, you'll have to shift these more complicated macros that use {Accept} over to the macro language of your word processor and use its {PAUSE} command or whatever. The phone number for Hawk Technologies is: 800-648-0665 (orders only) or 770-565-7752 (tech support). Again, SC is most similar to PRD. It doesn't contain any extra features such as statistical frequency word lists like Smartype and InstantText, but if you like to create your own macros, SC is the way to go.

One more feature that's really important: You can get a program with SC called SCMERGE which will allow you to import any text file into the program. For example, if you use PRD, you could print your file to disk and then import it into SC and start using SC immediately with no down time. The SCMERGE program will also merge files similar to the merge feature in PRD. If you order SC, you need to tell them that you want SCMERGE too (it's free as far as I know). If anyone needs help using SCMERGE, I'll be glad to help via e-mail.

4/96, from Mary Morken:
Have heard of "Shorthand for Windows" but need information on this program.
4/96, from Mary Morken:
Kim Fenton is selling a training program for steno, Writing Edge Systems, 800, 659-4693. For former court reporters who already know steno, it is possible to use it quickly for MT with some new vocabulary. However, while this system can eventually get one up to fast speeds, it takes months to learn. Am getting more information on just how fast it is possible to go with this system.
From:, Cathie Duzyk
I pretty much let my PRD+ be my memory aid, and I'd assume that any of the other productivity software programs could be used similarly. In addition to expanding all those abbreviated forms, I built in words that I often type incorrectly (i.e., teh, adn, pateint). When I make the typo, PRD+ automatically makes the correction for me, saving me a little time when I run through spell check. I've also used PRD+ to build in hard hyphens for sutures and other hyphenated words that I'd prefer not to be separated between lines; hard spaces for certain words; automatic subscripting for pO2, pCO2, etc. (for those accounts whose mainframes permit); automatically capitalize certain drugs that I can't remember are trade or generic; and yes, those words that I can never remember to spell, like dysdiadochokinesia (had to look it up!).

For those who don't use some form of productivity software, perhaps making a handy little "cheat sheet" would help as opposed to lugging out the books every time. Another thing I found helpful, although it still requires looking in a book, is to write words in where they SOUND like they should be. For example, until I finally remembered that "Eulexin" and "Eucerin cream" started with an "E," I wrote them in the "U" section of my drug book. Two others were Novocain (I always went to Nova) and nimodipine. No matter who the dictator, I never seemed to hear the "N" and went to the "I" section of the book.

From: (Mary Morken)
I read some books on memorizing once. They explained the principles of association and order; and how it is easier to associate vivid, colorful, active, dramatic, emotional and ridiculous images with things you want to remember. Of course, that works only as long as you don't confuse the image with the true meaning.

Even with a constant "cheat sheet" with the list of 10 abbvs and words constantly appearing at the bottom of the screen, I still find I need memory aids to remember the abbreviations. So I use "hac" for headache (just sounds like the pain of a headache to me), Klonopin (I knew a person taking it), etc. I still don't trust my memory sometimes, and that's where ST has saved me much time, especially with double checking the drug book. The word is right there quickly, and I don't have to trust my memory, so I feel safer. It's encouraging to know that the best way to improve your memory is to use it.

From Hilda Bakke, 9/95
I have read with great interest your information on the Internet, especially as it pertains to abbreviation software. First, I'd like to give you a little background: After 20 years in the medical field as an OR tech with "burn out," I decided to pursue the court reporting field. Steno or machine shorthand is the language of court reporters, and it is just that, like learning another language. It involves though, learning a new alphabet, since it takes combinations of letters on the steno keyboard to create some of the English letter sounds. Not all letters are represented on the steno keyboard. (I had a few problems with the language, such as why TP = F, when there was PH(=M) which seemed to my logic a much better choice to remember...I got over those and learned it the way it was.)

My biggest setback to obtaining speed (I think) in retrospect was that I couldn't just listen and let the text come out through my fingers. I was listening to context, following the gist of dictation. This is a plus in medical transcription. I know what they're talking about and like to follow along. In CR school I would end up dropping a lot or writing unintelligible stuff, and when transcribing my steno notes, I could fill in and make sense of it if I had enough clues from my memory of the dictation. I quit CR school at 140 wpm (you have to get to 225 wpm to graduate, and they recommend 240), because I decided to use CR methods to do MT, which with my background seemed a more logical pursuit. In order to pay for the steno machine and software, I went back to work as an OR tech. CAT (computer aided transcription) software which reads and translates steno was very expensive. With the advent of PCs and competition (Stenograph once owned the market), it has come down in price but is still a major expense for a beginning CR.

After another year working as an OR tech, I quit and just stayed at home. My steno speed (without practice) had disappeared, and my equipment was gathering dust. When I was ready to sell my CR equipment, someone called me and asked if I could do some temporary MT work. Since it was only going to be temporary, I decided to just do it on the keyboard. Well, a year later, temporary has become almost full time from home, and we are getting ready to pitch our service to the local hospital. I use Flash Forward software, and thought it wonderful from the start. My partner, who had put herself through CR school with MT, uses FF and finds it much easier than the CAT software. She tried to convert her MT work to CAT, but found it too labor-intensive while still trying to put out the same.

Reading what you wrote inspired me to clean up my FF lists and incorporate some of your ideas. I really like the one using "x" at the end of the abbv to mean expand. (Have changed my entries for UTI, URI, etc.) I decided one of the things I really missed from CAT software was the prefix feature and have now devised my own with FF and WP macros.

As far as being able to change software without having to redo your lists, that would be great. CAT software companies now offer to convert dictionaries for court reporters to their particular software (I'm sure for a fee). Sten-Ed, which is the CR theory I learned, has a basic dictionary. It is much easier to adapt a basic dictionary to your particular writing style than to start from scratch. I think it would be great to start MT with abbv software from the beginning, and perhaps some of same techniques used in CR could be applied to MT training. The one thing that I couldn't take in CR was the constant push for speed. SPEED is the name of the game. It wouldn't be the emphasis with MT training, where accuracy is paramount.

8/14/95 Michele Chavez 71301,437
(From Cserve Forum)
Hi Kelly,
Since you're using WP for Windows 6.0a, I'd suggest upgrading to 6.1. It's faster and more stable and has more features. However, if you like the button bar in 6.0a, stay with it. 6.0a's button bar becomes the toolbar in 6.1 and the icons are much smaller, making them a little more difficult to read.

I have Stedman's catalog here and they say their electronic medical dictionary is available in DOS, Windows, and Mac versions. I haven't used it myself, only seen ads for it. From what the catalog says, it pops up within the program you are working in: "...helps you find a medical word or phrase, word-part, or definition instantly from within any application." The catalog says it has a feature where you can do a "reverse" search, "letting you look up a word from its definition." Now, that sounds like a great feature. It also says it has a wildcard search where you can look up all the words that "incorporate the word-part you're working with."

The requirements for running it are listed as:
DOS: 386 or higher, 640K RAM, 6.5 MB hard drive space free, MS-DOS 3.1 or higher.
Windows: 386 or higher, 4 MB RAM, 6.5 MB hard drive space free, MS-DOS 3.1 or higher, and a mouse.
MAC: SE or higher, 6.2 MB free hard drive space, 1.5 MB available RAM, and System 6.0.7 or higher.
Regarding shorthand programs, I've used FlashForward for DOS and Windows, PRD for DOS and Windows, QuickCorrect in WPWIN, PRD for Windows, Global Abbreviations for Windows, and Smartype for WP5.1. In the work I am doing currently, I am using a combination of Smartype and PRD in WP5.1.

My personal opinions are if I'm in WP for Windows, I like using either the QuickCorrect feature or FlashForward. The PRD version for Windows is too slow and doesn't expand properly. If I type "tp" for "the patient" and then "coms" for "complains," it expands out as "tcomplains he patient" or "the complains patient" because it does expand as fast as I type or something like that. It drives me crazy.

Global Abbreviations is okay used in addition to FlashForward or QuickCorrect, but its only real advantage is that it is very cheap and available as shareware here on CIS in one of the Windows forums. It does not have some of the more advanced features of FlashForward or PRD. You have to make separate abbreviations for different endings.

Using DOS, I've always preferred PRD over FlashForward mainly because I don't have to use the shift key to add an ending. I hate using the shift key if I don't have to. However, now I am really beginning to love using Smartype. It works on a completely different principle. You don't have to worry about memorizing abbreviations at all. You just start typing. There is a line right under where you are typing that gives you a word and also a section below that gives a list of words. You either press the space bar if the word on the line is correct, or keep typing until the proper word come up, or select one of the words in the section below. You don't have to worry about endings because all the endings come up; you just choose the word with the correct ending. You can make changes, e.g., add new words, change word order or spelling, etc., from within WordPerfect.

Speed Typing