October 2013

S.P.A.M.D.: a turn-analytical mnemonic

While trawling through the many piles of conversational data being thrown at me while I’m happily ensconced as a CLIC visiting graduate student at UCLA, I’ve made a little mnemonic device for myself to help me tackle a transcript turn by turn:

Turn # (lines)
– seq:
– pos:
– act:
– mrk:
– des:

For each turn of talk, I’m asking myself:

  1. Which turn number is it?
  2. Which lines does it occupy?
  3. What is it in its local sequence? (an FPP, an SPP etc.)
  4. Which position in the sequence does it occupy?
  5. What action does it implement? (If any.)
  6. What is it marked by? (If at all.)
  7. How is it designed/shaped?

Although there’s always lots more to ask of any turn, especially in terms of its use of conventional formulations, detailed lexical/syntactic/prosodic features and how the turns in or across sequences interrelate, this seems like a reasonable set of initial questions to ask when looking at a turn for the first time.

I’m OK with the acronym S.P.A.M.D. but would welcome any suggestions for other turn-analytic question labels beginning with M or even better – with E so I can complete the set.

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Getting a footpedal working with Linux

UPDATE: I have subsequently found that transcribe works beautifully well and comes with some great pedal drivers. It’s a great piece of software and well worth the modest price. UPDATE 2: Please do not follow the instructions on this blog and expect them to work. It was written in 2013 so the software is *very* out of date and I doubt I’ll able to help you if it goes wrong.

John Heritage told me to go buy a foot pedal. I picked this Infinity USB-2 pedal up from ebay for $30.


It does make a tremendous difference not to have to constantly move one’s fingers from keyboard to mouse and back, although I had mitigated this considerably by using a thinkpad external keyboard with a trackpoint. However, this set-up did have some Rachmaninoff problems – requiring hand contortion to control audio, with attendant RSI/CTS-baiting effects that often resulted in sore wrists during transcription binges.

Getting the foot pedal working in Linux (Mint 14) was a minor mission, so I thought I’d document it for anyone else doing the same:

  1. First, I installed the lovely Footpedal GNOME integration control, which sadly seems a bit dormant.
  2. After installation, the script didn’t work immediately. I edited the script following Phillip Goodfellow’s instructions.

This involved:

a finding the script: # which footpedal —> /usr/bin/footpedal
b editing that script to comment out lines 119-126:

119 # Check whether your notification agent support
120 # icon-summary-body layout.
125 # self.reusable_notification.set_timeout(1000)
126 # Doesn't do anything

  1. Finally, after I got permissions issues (the error message suggested I run sudo chmod a+r /dev/usb/hiddev0 footpedal, which didn’t seem to work) I followed Jason Barnett’s and Richard Steffan’s advice and set up a udev rule:

# /etc/udev/rules.d/footpedal.rules
# Set permissions for USB footpedal Infinity IN-USB-1
# sudo lsusb -v reports
# Bus 002 Device 002: ID 05f3:00ff PI Engineering, Inc.
# Device Descriptor:
# <...>
# idVendor 0x05f3 PI Engineering, Inc.
# idProduct 0x00ff
# bcdDevice 1.20
# iManufacturer 1 VEC
# iProduct 2 VEC USB Footpedal
# Rules recommended by PLUG mailing list member, Jason Barnett on
September 20, 2011
# After changing rules issue this command: sudo service udev restart
SUBSYSTEM=="usb", SYSFS{idVendor}=="05f3", MODE="0666"
SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ATTRS{idVendor}=="05f3", MODE="0666"

One sudo service udev restart later, and the footpedal is up and running! Now to get it working with CLAN under windows emulation…

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