Until they start teaching students how to touch type, architects will have to stick to scribbling notes in their inevitable A4 black books at a speed of maybe 30 words a minute.But wait. Let me introduce Dasher ver.3. You can download it from www. inference. phy.cam. ac. uk/dasher, which is a site at Cambridge University.
Dasher is the work of David Mackay and David Ward, and is released under the GNU General Public Licence (ie, it is freely distributed) for a small number of hand-helds and for desktop computers running Windows or Linux. And, this being an academic site, Dasher is also available in Dutch, French and Brazilian Portugese.
Yes, but what is it? Dasher is a text entry application. Oh no, I hear you say, not another handwriting recognition application. Well no, it's not.But it is quite difficult to explain because it involves lots of seemingly random characters clustering untidily on the right-hand side of the window, which you somehow pick using a stylus, eyetracking device or even a mouse. Each selected character slides over to the left and, after enough have butted up behind each other, become complete words. There is apparently an element of precognition not unlike text messaging phones. The idea has caught on, particularly with disabled people, because so little movement is called for, and because it is not voice recognition.
Following a bit of practice, you could be entering those variation orders straight off your hand-held's printer in the car park. The text entry duo, Mackay and Ward, claim a speed of nearly 40 words a minute for that kind of thing, and 25 wpm for people using eyetracking devices. I must say friends of mine and I have had few problems learning Graffiti, the stylus-based script used on Palm/Handspring hand-helds, but if the enthusiastic endorsements to be read on the site are anything to go by, we will all be converted to Dasher by Christmas.