Help me get my Evelyn Wood 2.0 on
August 29, 2006 11:45 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a NON-web based program to run text at a fast clip to improve my speed reading.

There's this neat little web program, Zap Reader, that takes copied text and makes it zip by, one word at a time, at speeds of up to 900 words a minute.

Well it goes faster but I think that's my upper limit. Any faster and I feel seizures coming on.

But I'd like something for the gym. A way to read while I run. I'd love something OFF-line for my laptop or, even better, for my ipod. Does any such program exist?
posted by rileyray3000 to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
Ace Reader ... not so much a fan of it.

I've been looking for a well done app of this sort for years. Doesn't exist. (someone. please. prove me wrong. thanks.)
posted by mmdei at 12:14 AM on August 30, 2006

(for the record, a better app would:

a. Scroll the text keeping the 'current word' larger, bolder and more opaque than the two words before and after.

b. On pause (space bar), it should display the current word's definition below, and to the left, it should show the previous 100, and next 100 words.

c. Using the arrow keys should move back/forward a word.

d. an auto-notation/bookmark should be created if you start to type. Reading should then resume with cmd-space.

e. take into account word length and punctuation when determining how long to keep a word current. ie. 'the' should display for much less time than 'determining'

Thanks. Someone start coding.)
posted by mmdei at 12:23 AM on August 30, 2006

Might be able to get someone at iPodLinux to write an iPod app for you. They can be a pita, though.

As for a desktop app, it would be a relatively simple thing to write, except maybe for the notation/bookmark feature.. is there really a demand for this?

mmdei's & rileyray's versions seem to be a bit different. what's with the definition/annotation stuff?
posted by devilsbrigade at 1:43 AM on August 30, 2006

I dislike going past an unknown word. If one stops a stream of 800wpm text, it's likely that they don't know the word. Not having to copy/paste to a dictionary speeds things up. Which is the point. Of 800wpm. I could live w/o the annotation stuff now.... but it was worthy of dreams while in school.

Perhaps I'll break out RealBasic. Shouldn't take more than a few hours.
posted by mmdei at 2:40 AM on August 30, 2006

BuddyBuzz is a speed-reading (technically, RSVP) application for Java-compatible mobile phones.

As devilsbrigade pointed out, the only way you'll get third-party applications onto your iPod is via something like iPodLinux.
posted by blag at 4:38 AM on August 30, 2006

Well, if you could create a Quicktime video, 30 FPS would give you 1800 WPM. Obviously that's way too fast, but it seems like it would be somewhat easy to write a program that exported the words as JPGs, then combined them into a video file. With automator/applescript, it might be do-able. Of course, that assumes that you have a Mac handy. Control wouldn't be fantastic, but you could use it on your iPod.
posted by cebailey at 7:13 AM on August 30, 2006

Personally, I don't know that I do need the words before and after to show up, but that might be because I've been doing it the other way. I'm open to it either way.

BUT If anyone DOES create such a program, there's a case of the beverage of your choice (within reason) for the effort.
posted by rileyray3000 at 5:31 PM on August 30, 2006

Yeah so I'll bite :P

Here's a first attempt at it. Its, uh, unpolished. But it works, I think. If I understand you right.

Linky link.
posted by devilsbrigade at 9:48 PM on August 30, 2006

I should note that this doesn't really do everything mmdei wanted. Hell, it doesn't even have hotkeys. But hotkeys are easy things to add. If someone makes a definitive list of specific changes to the existing app, I'll probably get to it some night at 2 AM when I'm bored & don't want to go to sleep :)
posted by devilsbrigade at 9:58 PM on August 30, 2006

Awesome, you clever chap. One thing strikes me immediately: normally these tools insert a brief pause after a comma, a longer one after a period and an even longer one after a paragraph break. Once you get used to it, it's pretty helpful indicator of context. I've even seen an implementation somewhere where the last word in a paragraph is coloured differently.

Also, controlling the speed via scroll-wheel would be awesome. And your kerning on the main font could be reduced slightly. But still, great work. Thanks.
posted by blag at 2:16 PM on August 31, 2006

This is a great first start. The things I would ask for are

1) The ability to speed up the words to up to 1000 words per minute. Sounds crazy but I on zap reader, after a while, I got up to 850 wpm with no strain today.

2) An unlimited text entry. I'd like to slap a 100 page book in there at a shot if possible

3) A font change to times new roman if that's something you can do. Serif fonts are easier to read at top speeds.

4) What kind of beverage you want mailed to you.
posted by rileyray3000 at 10:17 PM on August 31, 2006

blag: Changing the kerning in .NET is a strange procedure that I'm not terribly clear on. I also have NFI how to access the scroll wheel in .NET (I usually use C++, and only use .NET for web & RAD). I added scaling for the length of the word (normalized around 5 letters/word) & added various length pauses after various punctuation. Adding pauses after paragraph breaks introduced some slightly odd behavior, but I'm going to let it slide for now.

1) The WPM counter will go up to 1200.... I'm not sure why that didn't work for you.

2) I just boosted the limit as high as it'll go, which was the max value of a signed 32 bit integer (or 2147483647 characters). Still, that's a 61,600 time increase over what it used to be, so maybe its enough. The Illiad fit, anyway ;)

3) Font changed to Times New Roman.

4) Rogue Shakespeare Stout. Either that, or Blackberry Clearly Canadian ;)

Also helpfully included are a bunch of little bug fixes and behavior edits. I think the source actually got worse, but what can you expect from 2:30 in the AM.

The above linky link is updated.
posted by devilsbrigade at 2:33 AM on September 1, 2006

Updated link. No use in having hosting when I have perfectly good webspace.
posted by devilsbrigade at 9:20 PM on May 7, 2007

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