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Tag: solved

Introducing TranscribeSharp

I've previously recounted how I was (am) unsatisfied with ExpressScribe for controlling audio playback for transcribing interviews. Because the basic functionality of the program is so straightforward (using global hotkeys to control audio playback), I was disappointed that there was no free, open-source alternative to ExpressScribe. So I'm making one.

The TranscribeSharp UI
The TranscribeSharp UI is essentially identical to the PracticeSharp UI in this preview release. Transcription-focused changes to the UI are planned.

TranscribeSharp is a program that will let you control the playback for audio files using hotkeys while you transcribe the file in another program (e.g. Microsoft Word or LibreOffice Writer). You can slow down, speed up, fast forward, rewind, pause, etc. the audio using you keyboard without ever leaving the program you are transcribing with.

The Hotkey Settings menu
The Hotkey Settings menu can be used to change between two predefined sets of hotkeys.

TranscribeSharp is in large part based on PracticeSharp by Yuval Naveh with addition of the LowLevelHooks library by Curtis Rutland. I do not consider myself a skilled programmer, and TranscribeSharp is in some sense just these two pieces of software smashed together. Without PracticeSharp and LowLevelHooks, TranscribeSharp would not be possible.

Right now, this is just a preview release. There are a few bugs, but it is a functional software solution. I wrote this to use for transcribing interviews for my dissertation, but I figured that other people may be interested in using it as well. This is a very low priority project for me, though, so please understand that. I do have a list of features that I would like to eventually add (e.g. the ability to customize the hotkeys, video playpack, an installer, and a different UI), but I have no timeline for implementing these.

TranscribeSharp is written in C# using Visual Studio 2013 and licensed under the LGPL. The full source code is available at BitBucket. If anyone is interested in helping out with bug fixes or implementing new features, just get in contact with me - I am very interested in not working on this project alone. (This was also my first time really using Git, so in future releases I intend on re-structuring the way I use the dependencies.)

To use the program, just unzip the file below and run TranscribeSharp.exe. You'll need the .NET Framework (at least version 4) installed to use it. The program should work on Windows 7 and 8 (maybe more). I hope you find this program useful.

Download TranscribeSharp (Preview) version (zip, 2.6 MB) here


Null (baseline) model RMSEA in Mplus

Familiarity with statistical computing software - particularly programs as flexible and feature-filled as R and the packages on CRAN - has been a tremendous boon. However, this familiarity has sent me searching the web for a way ask for particular output that is not printed by default. This expectation that the output I want from software is available with the right option or command has led me (more than once) to forget the possibility of simply computing the required output manually.

In particular, I recently needed to compute the RMSEA of the null model for confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). A few months ago, I chose to use Mplus for the CFA because I was familiar with it (moreso than the lavaan R package at least) and it had some estimation methods I needed that other software does not always have implemented (e.g. the WLSMV estimator is not available in JMP 10 with SAS PROC CALIS).

Mplus does not print the RMSEA for the null model (or baseline model, in Mplus parlance) in the standard output, nor does there seem to be an command to request it. Fortunately, this is not an insurmountable problem because the formula for RMSEA is straightforward:

RMSEA = \frac{\sqrt{X^2 - df}}{\sqrt{df(N-1)}}

where X^2 is the observed Chi-Square test statistic, df is the associated degrees of freedom, and N is the sample size. In the Mplus output, look for "Chi-Square Test of Model Fit for the Baseline Model" for the X^2 and df values.

The reason for needing to check the null RMSEA is that incremental fit indices such as CFI and TLI may not be informative if the null RMSEA is less than 0.158 (Kenny, 2014). If you are using the lavaan package, it appears this can be calculated using the nullRMSEA function in the semTools package.

(As an aside, don't let the vintage '90s design fool you: David Kenny's website is a great resource for structural equation modeling. He has the credentials to back up the site, too: Kenny is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Connecticut.)


Kenny, D. A. (2014). Measuring Model Fit. Retrieved from

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PDF Reader for Windows with Highlighting

Previously, I had been annotating PDFs on my Nexus 7 (2012) using ezPDF Reader Pro (by Unidocs) with good results. The most useful feature was the ability to highlight text in different colors. (This allowed me to color code parts of articles, e.g. yellow for general claims, blue for details about the study/article, green for things germane to my work, etc.)

I've started using a Windows 8 tablet (an Asus Transformer T100TA) and wanted a similar program. Many PDF readers support highlighting in Windows, but many (such as the free Adobe Reader) only allow yellow highlighting. Changing the color of the highlighting should be trivial, and I don't think this feature is worth the $119 for Adobe XI Pro.

Fortunately, this post on superuser led me to Okular. Part of the KDE suite, Okular is popular on Linux, but it does run on Windows. The installation is a little larger than some other programs because KDE provides a platform for many different programs, but one doesn't need to install all of them to use Okular. The tools for reviewing are accessed via F6 or the Tools menu, but the default set includes several useless (for me) tools and only a yellow highlighter. The aforementioned post, however, describes editing a tools.xml file to customize the offerings.

Okular showing customized reviewing tools and several highlighting colors in a document.
Okular showing customized reviewing tools and several highlighting colors in a document.

On Windows 8, tools.xml file is located in C:\ProgramData\KDE\share\apps\okular along with a folder named pics that holds the icons used. (The folder is probably in a different location on other versions of Windows, but searching for tools.xml should turn up the location.) I've uploaded my tools.xml file and some quick icons I made in Paint that match the highlighting colors I use below; changing the colors/tools shouldn't be difficult if my exact setup doesn't work for you. (The color/properties of individual annotations can be changed by right-clicking.)

When annotating PDFs in Okular, all of the changes are automatically saved but not in the PDF file itself. It can be a little confusing to open a file, see the highlighting, and then to email it a colleague where the highlighting has disappeared. The original PDF file that was opened does not seem to be changed by Okular. To save the highlighting in the PDF file itself, choose File -> Save As... The new file will display the highlighting on in other PDF readers on other computers.

In short, with a tiny bit of work Okular is a great, free tool for reading and annotating PDFs on Windows 8 and is comfortable to use on a tablet.

Customized tools.xml and icons (70 KB; .zip) - unzip into the above folder to use

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Working with PDF files efficiently: WatchOCR

Optical Character Recognition: Why?

Graduate school is marked by a tremendous amount of reading. The vast majority of this reading seems to be in the form journal articles or book chapters which - thankfully - are often available electronically. (If they aren't, I often take the time to scan them myself.) I end up reading most of these on my tablet where I want to highlight text and otherwise annotate them. Sometimes, however, one comes across a PDF whose text cannot be selected - and therefore cannot have its text highlighted. The solution for this is to run optical character recognition (OCR) software on the file. While many modern scanners automatically perform OCR as part of the scanning process, I still come across enough scanned documents without select-able text to warrant this post (see Figure 1).

An example of selection in a document without OCR.
Figure 1. Come on, Adobe. You know that's not what I wanted.

There is considerable variety among the OCR solutions available. MakeUseOf gives its recommendations for three free OCR solutions, but all of them result in a the PDF's text being stored in a separate text document. This is useful if getting access to the raw text is the goal, but it is not sufficient for my purposes: I want the OCR'd text to be stored in the original PDF file in such a way as the text in the original file can be selected and highlighted. There are no doubt commercially available tools to accomplish this task, but I prefer free (and open source) tools whenever possible. Enter WatchOCR.


Supplementary CD for "Thinking Mathematically"

I need to use Carpenter, Franke, and Levi's Thinking Mathematically: Integrating Arithmetic and Algebra in Elementary School for a course. This textbook includes a supplementary CD with video examples of children displaying the mathematical thinking described in the text, and the authors emphasize that watching these videos is an integral part of reading the book. Unfortunately, the videos are references in the text by the section number with which they correspond, but are not labeled thusly on the CD. The CD contains a program for Windows that acts as a wrapper to display the appropriate videos. This program requires Apple's Quicktime software to display the videos within the program. Therefore, if someone does not have both Microsoft Windows and Apple Quicktime installed, there is no clear way to check the correspondence between the video files and sections in the textbook. I obtained access to an appropriate computer and made the following mapping of lessons to video files:

Section File (.mov)
2.1 Kevin
2.2 David
2.3 Lillian
3.1 Emma
3.2 Thad
3.3 Kenzie
4.1 KF111400
4.2 Megan
5.1 Allison16
5.2 Cody
7.1 Allison
7.2 Susie
8.1 Mike

The .mov files themselves can be played by many media players (not just Quicktime), so with the above table the supplementary CD should work irrespective of the computer software one uses.

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