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Squirt.io – Readability Meets Spritz Speed Reading (squirt.io)
443 points by pkghost on Mar 12, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 209 comments

What I noticed using this to read a couple Ars Technica articles was it worked really well for short words. But, if a longer complicated word appeared, at say 600 wpm, I would miss it. It seems like an adaptive algorithm based on word length would improve the speed even more allowing it to go faster on short common words and slow down on longer unusual words.

Also, there is bug that sometimes causes two words to appear at once. Sometimes they are overlapping vertically which is basically impossible to read. Try reading http://pragdave.me/blog/2014/03/04/time-to-kill-agile/ to see what I mean.

Hey timtadh! Spritz Inc's blog (http://www.spritzinc.com/blog/) has some interesting things to say about word recognition, primarily that it's related to a word's unique shape more than length. Words that are less than 4 characters long are actually harder to recognize due to their having more visual analogues than longer words, and words over 7 characters are start looking "long" more than any other shape characteristic. I've got some ideas about how to incorporate this into my app without doing a bunch of image processing, so, until then, keep your eyes peeled ;) Thanks for the feedback!

That may be true for familiar words, but a long, uncommon word is unavoidably going to take more processing. Flashing "unforgettable" is probably fine, but I'd want a split second pause on "periodontia" or "imbroglie".

This is a great observation. After reading Spritz' blog post, I've been thinking about using word shape uniqueness as the main signal for how long to pause--i.e., "soliloquy" would be quite unique thanks to its ascenders and descenders, whereas "excessive" is less unique, owing to its relatively featureless outline. Combining shape with word frequency (across language) seems even more promising.

I'm not sure ascenders and descenders are the only things factoring in here. I guess doing a visual blur on an image of a word could help to spot characteristics of words. Admittedly, the ascenders and descenders would have a probably primary role in aiding classifying. So maybe it's an 80%/20% thing.

At a guess words with unique clusters of vowels would also stand out say 'Hawaiian'. Or other words like 'cameraman', 'minimum', 'consciousness', 'neuroscience', that all probably have a certain shape or density, even if they are flat.

This regex dictionary may be useful: http://www.visca.com/regexdict/ /^[aeiuocmnrsvwxz]*$/

I agree, If the app could maintain a frequency table containing how common words are in normal usage and slow down more for the most uncommon words that would be awesome.

Until then slowing down for longer words at least would definitely help. This could at least be an option if the authors aren't convinced its a good idea yet, then A/B test the amount of usage for people who use the option compared with those that don't.

Slow down on long words would be very helpful, I just tried it with some german news text[1] at 600wpm: Worked great except for words that occured like

[1] http://www.deutschlandfunk.de/nachrichten.353.de.html

LOL. This is on the todo list :) Thanks for the feedback!

Also doesn't work for Japanese text. It shows pretty much a whole paragraph at a time.

Do you think german words like this would benefit from automatic syllable colorization -- slightly changing the shade of grey to make the syllable boundaries more obvious?

Not sure. E.g. 'Kinderbetreuungsmöglichkeiten' means 'child care possibilities', that's three words in one. I suppose the brain just needs more time to parse that. But just counting characters to determine delay won't cut it, since 'Mississippi' is quite quick to parse.

What 'bout making it simpler and instead of colorizing nouns you colorize a horizontal gradient like http://www.beelinereader.com/

Couldn't you split compound words so the components appear in sequence? e.g.

Kinder- -betreuungs- -möglichkeiten

One could, but most likely one would need a proper morphological analysis[2] to make it work correctly for the endless possibilities to combine words in German. Pretty hard to implement in the browser, but maybe an 80:20 like approach using a good dictionary could help for common terms in combination with slowdown on terms it doesn't know how to split.

[1] for example, one could use wiktionary data and try to extract how to properly separate common terms: https://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/Schifffahrt

Edit: [2] German demo of how that usually looks http://www.tagh.de/demo.php (not affiliated)

Then maybe colorize nouns in a compound noun word instead of syllables ?

For German (and maybe English too?), I think splitting up compound words into their constituent noun stems could work.

Syllable recognition is still an unsolved problem, no? Is anybody familiar with the state of the art?

It's also doesn't work well for hyphenated words: 'step-by-step' and 'hastily-implemented' are flashed up all at once.

(Regardless of whether or not those are properly hyphenated.)

Edit: But this is still very cool.

That's what I did with Spree [1] (also posted below). Just a simple word.length*8 seemed to have quite a nice effect on readability.

1. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/spree/aehoaolhojlm...

Nice, I've been trying a bunch of these things recently (my bookmarks bar now has OpenSpritz, RSVP and squirt along with 2 chrome extensions) and your extensions the nicest implementatiion I've found so far. (partly due to https errors with the other bookmarklet approaches and partly due to nicer design). Thanks.

Agreed. They need to slow down the speed for longer words. Otherwise, it would be perfect.

It seems that Spritz splits long words into multiple parts, using - on the ends of the components. That seems easy enough to implement.

HN always likes the faster is better, I am a genius absorbing this much information quicker than you. Its been proven over and over that comprehension is way more important than speed of consumption. You guys fool yourselves into believing you can comprehend while reading at breakneck speeds, its way more fun & time saving to be able to imagine, driftaway in thought and understand what you are reading.

Not to mention that 1 word at a time makes it hard to:

    Repeat that word
    Scan back a few words
    Quickly see your position in the article
    Look at any sidenotes, footnotes, or relevant pictures
    Read with flow and not drum like rhythm
    Skip large sections of non-relevant material
    Back reference

There isn't that much substance in most blog posts / articles I read online. Of course, I wouldn't use this to read "Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach".

Agreed. The signal density in many news articles is lower than what you would expect in a journal article or even a novel. This could be a very useful tool there.

Honestly I don't have time to read, so I'm going to use this heavily. Long as I get the gist. If I miss a few things, I'll go back and quickly scan those few things I missed. I can finish like 10 articles on my commute no problem with this, versus just a few.

meh, I think you generalize a lot here. There are people who are very comfortably reading at 1000wpm and beyond and keep all of the story in the mind. Some people can even accurately repeat the sped read texts. There are more people who can do that, than you may think.

Personally I would NOT YET read a real book this way, for one reason: I cannot keep a person's name in memory well enough and would mix up roles and who said what. Even though I very rarely read romans (mostly publications) you can imagine how often you hear names in a text. But that's maybe just me, idk.

I guess you would feel embarrassed, if you couldn't like me keep persons names in association with their faces well enough. Example: 100-200 persons you meet every day and you remember 50names at most and that's only because you know them very well. You have to say 'hi' to all the others you just can't remember the name of. Luckily I don't mix up faces that much up anymore. Recently I met a girl whose name I simply couldn't recall although I've seen her 100s of times. Anyway she reminded me that I already have her in my phone-book, so yeah I'll try to keep it memorized.

Also, in novels there is metadata in positioning of the text (eg scene change, speaker change etc) which i believe would be lost in such readers. So it's not a good way to read a novel, but pretty cool for reading blog posts and articles

OP here. Totally agree. I would not use this to read a novel, but rather in the way that we already read articles on the web--skimming them.

I think there is a huge value to giving the reader a tradeoff between speed and comprehension, so long as the reader is conscious that they're making a choice and does so appropriately.

Spritz is supposed to improve comprehension too. That's how it was pitched in the original article I read.

How is it going to that, serious question?

You practice, thats how. You practice eliminating subvocalization and regression. You practice focusing on multiple words at a time rather than a single word. And - once you get a hang of those skills- you practice moving your eyes across a page at a faster pace.

I have been practicing for a little under a year with the help of a speed reading app (not Spritz). It was frustrating at first; I won't pretend that I internalized even 50% of what I was reading when I started learning how to speed read. But as my eyes assimilated to reading larger chunks of words at faster speeds, I incrementally increased the speed of the text. Eventually, I was able to increase my reading speed AND understand what I was reading.

I can't attest to the effectiveness of this specific app, since I have never used it. But when you write "its way more fun & time saving to be able to imagine, drift-away in thought and understand what you are reading...", you suggest that one can only understand (and enjoy) what he is reading by reading the way you do.

I'm pretty sure this is just a big middle finger to Spritz. In the most hilarious way possible. Or am I misinterpreting the acknowledgments? ;)

Yes. Squirt.io is engaging in the best kind of cultural warfare: Creating something valuable and sharing it with the world, undermining the profiteers who want to lock (other people's ideas) behind a paywall, who (attempt to) justify their claim with slick marketing brochures

Uhm, what's the difference between Spritz an Squirt.io? I've looked at both demos and I can't see much difference in the concept. Though the Spritz website is more ... ehm ... bullshit bingo compliant it seems.

Am I assuming right that the joke lies in Spritz being a VC funded startup and squirt.io just a weekend hack?

The difference is that I can actually use Squirt.io, today. I like Spritz, but it's useless to me if I can't use it on anything but their site or the email app of the next Samsung phone.

>Am I assuming right that the joke lies in Spritz being a VC funded startup and squirt.io just a weekend hack?

Squirt.io was in stealth mode for 6 years!! </snide>

Also, Spreeder(http://www.spreeder.com/) has been doing this for quite some time.

I wish I could see their faces right now

in rapid succession. like a flip book.

great idea.

I thought the same thing. Kinda irks me.

I've never thought much about my reading speed before, but after trying this and finding the deafault setting a bit slow, I decided to compare my natural reading speed.

I was able to read the article I chose in about 85% of the time of the default 400WPM of the bookmarklet (I read the article first with a timer, and then reread with the bookmarklet), which would put me at 470WPM. With Squirt, I was only able to get up to 650WPM before it felt too uncomfortable.

I wonder if people really read one word at a time, especially when they're short words. If people do read more than one word at a time, I think a more intelligent approach might be necessary to really make the experience both comfortable and fast.

> I wonder if people really read one word at a time

They don't. I always thought the whole point of speed reading was to ingest multiple words simultaneously.

These speed reading tools should be extended so that they can show multiple words at once rather than one word at a time. A really ambitious improvement would be to automatically recognize very common phrases and constructions and to make an effort to always show those as single groups.

> These speed reading tools should be extended so that they can show multiple words at once rather than one word at a time.

http://spreeder.com/ allows you to put in multiple words.

However, if the code for this is available for anyone to edit/modify, perhaps anyone wanting that feature could add it.

For me it depends on the content and my mood. With my app [0] I read at about 5-600wpm, whether it's 1, 2 or 3 words at a time. If I'm having trouble with a particular article, changing the number of words often fixes it. Though of course, for some content, I need to drop the WPM (esp when there's a lot of technical and/or unfamiliar terms).


Good point! The tool should create a reading difficulty score and only offer selecting wpm, if it's beneficial.

Readability tests:

    * Accelerated Reader ATOS
    * Automated Readability Index (ARI)
    * Coleman-Liau Index
    * Dale-Chall Readability Formula
    * Flesch-Kincaid readability tests:
        * Flesch Reading Ease
        * Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level
    * Fry Readability Formula
    * Gunning-Fog Index
    * Lexile Framework for Reading
    * Linsear Write
    * LIX
    * Raygor Estimate Graph
    * SMOG (Simple Measure Of Gobbledygook)
    * Spache Readability Formula
Tool: https://readability-score.com/ Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Readability_test#Readability_te...

Totally right!! I trained myself to read two lines at once, but a tool that takes the burden of putting the pieces of the sentences together in the mind would be very very welcome! It could display two words ontop of each other that would otherwise be next to each other.

UX shows that this is the most digestable way to consume information. Going vertical should be preferred over going horizontal.

Please please somebody, would you give nilkn's idea an ear?

Word by word is feels unnatural, phrase by phrase may be better - I don't know.

However, I have dyslexia and I often struggle to follow the line, sometimes I drop out and I have to read a sentence or two again to get in flow state.

I found this method to really improve my reading speed but I am still not sure if want it as my default reading method.

When I was playing around with something like this before (Can't remember what, it was linked on HN recently), I found the optimium was 2 words at a time.

Great idea! I would love to experiment with different presentation modes. There's a discussion in here somewhere about using n-grams to choose the right phrase boundaries, which sounds like a much harder problem than I'm equipped to solve in a weekend :)

I tried using it on a github wiki page, and it broke because github wouldn't load the external javascript. So I copied the text and made a local html file. That didn't work because of these errors:

Failed to load resource: net::ERR_FILE_NOT_FOUND file://www.squirt.io/bm/font-awesome.css Failed to load resource: net::ERR_FILE_NOT_FOUND file://www.squirt.io/bm/squirt.css 62 Uncaught TypeError: Cannot read property 'style' of null squirt.js:10 48 Uncaught TypeError: Cannot read property 'style' of null

Yeah, it's hosted on github pages right now, and they don't do SSL. It's one many, many, many things I'd like to fix about Squirt.

I'll also shamelessly plug my open source implementation, OpenSpritz, which now has a healthy and vibrant community!


as well as the Android / Google Glass companion:


U should change your name. You are giving free advertising to something that doesn't need it.


Your bookmarklet never worked right for me. It wouldn't start. I'd select WPM and.. nothing. On latest chrome. Just FYI.

same here, with Firefox.

This project may consider a name-change, as googling for this after it's gone from the HN homepage will trigger ... interesting results. Especially if you're trying to show this to a co-worker in the office.

Note to my boss: I'm sorry!

I believe that is part of the whole knock against spritz. In German, where some of the founding members of Spritz are from, spritz means a similar thing that squirt does in American culture.

Welcome to humanity. Every verb is a euphemism for a sexual act.

> on('squirt.again', startSquirt);



Tweeted about it with hashtagging the name. Checked the hashtag. Deleted the Tweet.

Yeah, the name just sounds dirty. I changed the name of the bookmark...

Oh good lord. That is not a safe image search.

It's fun to see these ideas multiply and combine, but experts on reading comprehension seem to think RSVP didn't work even back in the 70s when it was being first tested:


Comprehension was worse than skimming, apparently. I can see this as a thing to flash headlines/latest news to you but anything longer than a sentence or two... not so sure.

I’m the creator of Acceleread, which is a reading trainer app for iOS. http://www.acceleread.com

Your point about comprehension is super important and often gets overlooked, so I wanted to add my 2 cents.

While the RSVP method seems to being used as a proxy for all things speed reading, it’s really only one part of the picture. RSVP is definitely faster (because eye movements take time) and particularly good for people with learning disabilities like dyslexia (because the tool isolate words), but there are trade-offs.

For one, saccades (the normal eye movements you make while reading) give your mind time to process the information. You need that. Secondly, RSVP tends to lead to repetition blindness, so you can miss repeated words, which changes your understanding. Also, people tend to zone out after a while of staring at one point. All of these aspects underpin overall comprehension and show where RSVP falls short. Where RSVP shines is for short bursts of text (as the article states) and also for learning to read words in groups rather than individually, which is really really useful.

But back to my original point, speed reading isn’t just RSVP. It’s a collection of techniques that together help you read more effectively. Honestly, it probably shouldn’t be called “speed reading” at all - it’s what naturally strong readers already do. You solve for speed, comprehension and retention.

You start with the mechanics (learning to read words in groups, strengthening eye muscles, improving concentration etc) so that you aren’t getting hung up on bad habits, and then assess how well you understand and remember content. In fact, when you learn to read in this way, you don’t even need the tools like RSVP and moving highlighters. Yes, they are useful training wheels, but you’ll already read that way anyway. You also won’t be tied to one service or medium.

Believe me, I find the hyped-up, late-night infomercial, eat-cake-get-thin approach really off-putting too, in fact it’s one of the reasons I made Acceleread in the first place, but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Using a "let me google that for you" link on the problem with software patents seems unnecessary. Why imply your users are lazy? At first I thought the contrast between "whose patents are pending" and that link was a great bit of commentary, but that link was an unexpected slap. I was expecting an EFF link.

Oops—did not wake up wanting to slap you :) My thought was more along the lines of "if you're not aware that this is a problem, here's a list of big/obvious headlines to pick from, or just walk away with the sense that there is an active conversation about the issue"

I clicked the first link and wasn't convinced. Surely you would want to find the most convincing article that you could find and link to that?

I would. Do you have one top of mind?

I need something that Yogi Bear would understand :)

Really like it. The only downside is that you have no idea how far along in the article you are. Would be nice if there was a % complete shown somewhere.

You're not the only one ;) In the works!

Also an option to bookmark your position would be great. Some articles are difficult to read in one go!

i'm also using Foxit pdf-to-text feature to upload my pdf ebooks on pastebin and use this to read them.

If you even open this up on github i'll be glad to contribute some features :D

You would have to move your eyes to check it.

It should be possible to change the color of the selected letter to indicate where you are on the page. Alternate option could be to position the word on the (current) vertical line to indicate where you are on the whole page. I'd like to believe that if the text is reasonable amount- the transition for either would be gradual.

Hoping the open source fairy sprinkles some dust on this one.

True, but you can pause before checking. And still is better than having no idea whether it will take one minute or one hour to read the article.

Maybe a progress bar along the bottom. Easy to pick up with your peripheral

I'd really like to see this model with an adaptive speed. Same speed for all the words isn't always the best.

Maybe using an n-gram model to predict how probable the next word is, could pass high probability phrases at a faster rate, while slowing down for "harder" words

There's a good Google Books dataset for doing exactly that, and you can doing something in Hive to get you the lowest-entropy n-grams (with something like https://github.com/lsb/text-entropy/blob/master/passphrase-s... ), and then you can the low-entropy n-grams into a Bloom filter (like http://www.leebutterman.com/passphrase-safety/how-it-works.h... ) and your enormous corpus gets fitted into a few dozen megs of memory.

(That sounds like a cool idea, hit me up if you're game for hacking on something like that)

I've been using n-grams heavily in my PhD. I like a lot what you are describing. Also a simple extension is to use "cache" n-gram models, that can naively simulate longer-term "memory".

What's fascinating is that in the entropy/information-theoretic sense, instead of using wpm, one could aim for "constant" information rate of reading (as in bits/token). That's really cool as a concept. I don't know if it would work, obviously.

I'd definitely be up to for hacking this up, but currently a bit too busy. Will ping you at some point though!

You're welcome to fork it! http://www.github.com/cameron/squirt. Would love to see such an implementation

Might also help to get feedback from the user and to know what n-grams the user has already encountered in their life.

I always plug the same site on these threads. www.zapreader.com/reader I use that several times a week to get through lengthy articles. What I really want is something that shows all the text in the background kind of blurred out. The words should still flash on screen but with a keyboard shortcut I can make that disappear and have the word I was on hi lighted. I would like the text in the background to scroll while it is blurred out and I'm speed reading. That way if there is an image or diagram I can quickly shift back to normal reading. Or if I just need to re-read a section. Then using only keystrokes have it resume blasting the words on screen.

Similar to what I did with the chrome extension Spree [1]. Though I find your pauses on periods to be a bit much. Code for Spree available on github [2]. The IIFE in spree.js can also function as a bookmarklet.

Also, Spree doesn't walk to an element's parent, which usually keeps it from getting into JS and ads, while still reading all of, say, a news article.

On another tack, quite a lovely site.

1. https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/spree/aehoaolhojlm...

2. https://github.com/wpears/spree

I really like the way this works - much less disruptive to jump in and out.

Any reason you cap WPM at 666, and always default to 400wpm? I want to go fasterrrr :)

edit: I made my branch do this, are you interested in contributions?

Great stuff - thanks for sharing.

One note: when I drag the bookmarklet from the Install page to my toolbar, then try to use it on a page on my http://localhost/ (a dev site, for ex.), it (a) does what I expected it to do, but then (b) forwards me to http://localhost/install.html when it is finished. When I browse an actual domain-based site, it gives me the nice "You just read..." message at the end. It would be nice if both local and remote sites had the same experience.

Welcome to my smelly code! It's supposed to go to /install on squirt.io--and also localhost for my own dev purposes. It's a bit of a hack, but saves me from maintaining two bookmarklets. Are you a publisher? Trying to embed it on your blog/site?

Thanks for the reply. Not a publisher - I just happened to be coding on my own local site in another tab. That was the first place I tried it.

I feel like it ruins the cadence, in my head anything I read with this sounds like it's coming from a robot.

Yeah, I tried reading an excerpt from http://deadspin.com/when-englands-greatest-genius-took-over-... and not only did it sound odd in my head, I felt like I wasn't really reading any quicker than I normally would.

I think that perhaps a line-by-line reader would be appropriate, rather than word per word.

You're quite correct that cadence is diminished, though that can be mitigated by adding a delay to each word based on its length.

There is, in fact, a delay based on word characteristics, but it's not just length that matters, it's the uniqueness of a word's shape. Spritz has a nice blog post on the topic: http://www.spritzinc.com/blog/.

I'd be much more interested in a solution that effectively minimizes the text or uses another technique about speed reading (like diagonals, etc).

The reason why I won't be using this service is simply because it makes the eye lazier. My eyes are already lazy enough because I am in front of the computer 12+ hours a day, so my eyes muscles need movement. Staring at one point for long time can also cause side effects like losing the sense of space and time. Staring at one point is often used as hypnotizing during different kind of therapies.

I am not sure that I get the point of this. When I read a long piece, I try to enjoy it. Imagine the same approach being used to "fix" food or sex in the name of efficiency.

I think the use case for this is the reading we do because we need to consume the information as quickly as possible rather than the reading we're doing for pleasure. Not that the two are mutually exclusive by any means.

I love reading but, particularly online, I'll often need to read something which contains a lot of information I need but isn't written in a style I particularly enjoy reading. For these, I can see the benefit of tools like this.

Just because you are reading quicker does not mean you are not still enjoying what you are reading..

Have you heard of Soylent?

There's a bug that I can't really fathom:

when reading this paragraph:

"The WEIRD mind also appears to be unique in terms of how it comes to understand and interact with the natural world. Studies show that Western urban children grow up so closed off in man-made environments that their brains never form a deep or complex connection to the natural world. While studying children from the U.S., researchers have suggested a developmental timeline for what is called “folkbiological reasoning.” These studies posit that it is not until children are around 7 years old that they stop projecting human qualities onto animals and begin to understand that humans are one animal among many. Compared to Yucatec Maya communities in Mexico, however, Western urban children appear to be developmentally delayed in this regard. Children who grow up constantly interacting with the natural world are much less likely to anthropomorphize other living things into late childhood."

it seems to stop displaying words directly after the U.S., string. I had to restart it after that.

Another note: words that contain hyphens or em dashes are not tokenized so you get huge words that are impossible to read at speed.

While the idea is nice, I'd rather not use a bookmarklet that tracks me through a unique ID across websites and not only keeps a list of pages that I used it on, but also of pages that I came from: https://github.com/cameron/squirt/blob/gh-pages/bm/squirt.js...

I've tried several of these, and I really think jetzt https://github.com/ds300/jetzt is the best one. It has a progress bar, keyboard shortcuts, and I particularly like the way it wraps words in enclosing elements - like quotations and parentheses - when the word being displayed is within the enclosure.

This is lovely, but how do I adjust the default WPM? I want to use more than 400, and having to adjust it each time is very annoying.

Have you tried editing the bookmark and see if there is a parameter in the javascript for that?

This feature is coming! Glad you're using it :)

Just tap the WPM and it'll give you options

I think the parent wants to be able to set a default instead of having to select it each time.

Edit dispatch('squirt.wpm', {value: 400, notForKeen: true});

Eh... I was one of the many developers that had the same idea to write a bookmarklet/extension implementation of Spritz. I completed something functional (a few hours of coding for any JS dev) and then discovered that there were at least a dozen repos in Github for the exact same purpose. Plus I realized I just couldn't get used to reading this way, so I gave up to focus on my job + other side projects.

Quite frankly this is a pretty lazy implementation. It doesn't even slow down for long words, and the highlighted letter is too far to the left most of the time. But the snazzy .io page and sleek interface probably will do way more for the tool's popularity than actually improving features, so kudos to the Author for the smart marketing.

I'm rooting for the open source versions.

I prefer the UI of OpenSpritz, and it's open-source and MIT licensed, as opposed to this project which has no license. https://github.com/Miserlou/OpenSpritz

What does it mean when a project publishes it's source but doesn't list a license? Does that mean that it is essentially copy-write of the owner completely? Is there an implied license by sharing the source on GitHub?

I installed this on my browser bar and hasn't worked for cnn.com, highlighting specific text on cnn.com, medium.com. It worked on techcrunch...what about the HTML of the previous sites renders Squirt unusable?

Good question! I'll be investigating that shortly...

I checked the console and it has to do with HTTPS. When I try to use Squirt on a HTTPS site I get this error in the console: "[blocked] The page at 'https://medium.com/p/cad4a8df73cf' was loaded over HTTPS, but ran insecure content from 'http://www.squirt.io/bm/squirt.js': this content should also be loaded over HTTPS."

Fixed as of tonight, though you'll have to reinstall your bookmarklet :)

Nice layout for this one, a tad better than OpenSpritz.

One issue: numbers with points get split up, which is very confusing. E.g. 16.4 becomes 16. and then 4.

Another issue: It sometimes starts reading out script code, e.g. here. http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamtanner/2014/03/05/amazons-wa...

One feature request: Keyboard shortcuts to pause and maybe to step back or "zoom" out to see the whole last/current sentence before continuing.

I found that while I could read and gather individual meaning from sentences that I couldn't grasp the meaning of an entire article from this. They all seemed disjoined somehow. My mind wasn't able to pause to digest what a sentence meant and how it linked back to the paragraph I was reading and the article as a whole. By seeing the entire article my mind starts to make connections between paragraphs and then to the entire article. With seeing a single word at a time this was lost.

Also I found it hard to follow sentences between brackets for some reason.

Love it, I can't wait for an ePub reader though, got so many books I'd love to fly through, though novels for pleasure I think I'd read normally as I enjoy stopping and rereading passages.

This one has basic ePub support https://github.com/OnlyInAmerica/OpenSpritz-Android

Awesome thanks for that! Brilliant simple app, does just what I wanted.

Why does each user need to be given an ID? How private is this?

It uses keen.io for analytics, and it might even store the URL you're visiting. You'd better not use this if you're concerned about your privacy: https://github.com/cameron/squirt/blob/gh-pages/js/io.js#L65...

In fact, it tracks whenever you use it and sends the URL along with all GET parameters of the page that you are browsing, including the referrer(!), your user agent and your IP to Keen.io: https://github.com/cameron/squirt/blob/gh-pages/bm/squirt.js...

I've been using the Spreed Chrome extension (http://goo.gl/ki49wl) for about a week. They've recently added an orange focal letter (much like Spritz's red one) in that time.

Squirt has a cool UI and works across browsers, but I like Spreed's ability to see progress as I read and the keyboard shortcuts. Looking forward to seeing this tech pop up more and more and evolve!

I find that i'm not visualizing what I'm reading nearly as effectively. I think contextual clues of seeing words "in place" may be underrated.

Looks pretty cool. Personally prefer the Read [1] chrome extension approach, as it has a minimal UI and sits on top of the page. Also, think the red color is slightly distracting, when north of 700 WPM.

[1] https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/read/aiijjeoekhpdp...

Small complaint. The following URL doesn't work:


You should modify your apache/iis config to account for this. I'd much rather type "squirt.io" in my browser address bar than "www.squirt.io".

But kudos to you for a wonderful product. This will replace the JS I've been using for the same purpose.

amazing. My feature request is PDF functionality. thanks for making this.

Upvote. Please give me a way to use this to read academic papers!

I'm working on it — https://github.com/j6k4m8/squirt-academic

But I won't really be able to dig in until after this weekend. Feel free to contribute, PR, list requests, etc.

it's on the list! thanks for the feedback :)

Yeah PDF or at least a field to paste text in!

To read PDFs with this would be amazing

lots of neat (and hopefully useful) things that can be added! i guess that's what OSS is for hehe.

-blink detection (using a webcam or forward facing camera?) to pause while your eyes are closed?

-hold-to-pause or hold-to-spritz button, and show context (+- a few lines) when not spritz-ing?

-point of focus slides slowly across the screen, to exercise those extraocular muscles

I like the idea however it could do with filtering out HTML and Javascript.

Most pages I've tried it on so far without manually selecting text it goes through a bunch of javascript before getting to the content. That may be my bad the way I'm using it but as the site mentions readability I figured it'd chuck it through that first

It uses readability if you don't make a selection. The selection logic is pretty dumb, and could use some help. Thanks for pointing this out!

Awesome, I've looking for something like this for ages! Needs a bit of tuning, though. Fails when reading this article on Chrome 33 for Linux: http://aphyr.com/posts/311-clojure-from-the-ground-up-logist...

Thank you--added to the "problem URL" list.

Awesome idea, thanks for making & sharing!

I tried it on http://blog.eventjoy.com/post/79387694078/how-we-restarted-o... but it choked/stopped once it came across the first linked.

Thanks for the bug report! Will look into it :)

I'm not able to get the bookmarklet running in Chrome http://i.imgur.com/4osL2Bp.png -- albeit I do have a number of extensions running that mainly block lots of stuff, so I suspect one of them is the culprit.

How about making the entire text a single line, that scrolls right to left, like a marquee.

With a red marker, like here to mark a single fixed position on screen that the marquee text slides through to guide the eye.

This method would allow processing of local words for context rather than flashing single words.

Feedback: The reading stops in the middle of the following link: http://lifehacker.com/the-truth-about-speed-reading-15425083...

This is a terrific idea. I was blown away the first time I saw it. I have been able to consistently get high comprehension at 650WPM for general subject matter (ie non-technical articles), and plan on working my way up to 1000. Love it!

I love this concept - I hope you can find a way to integrate with Instapaper on iOS!

It doesn't work well. Reads out Javascript and side text/ads on websites.

highlight the text you want to read and then click the bookmarklet.

That doesn't work for me; latest Firefox. I tried a couple of random popular sites,including HN, and it didn't work on all of them.

This is a nice demo, but not a finished product.

Just a heads up -- the naked version of your domain (ie squirt.io) does not resolve. Adding the www subdomain does work. Might want to tweak your configuration. I had to double check that I had the right domain...

I didn't feel that comfortable about having a bookmark called 'Squirt' in my bookmark bar, so I've renamed it. I was hoping someone would release this though since I saw the app version.

I put together a guide to use it with any text on your computer, not just web articles: https://medium.com/p/cb5aee8b75e3

According to this, my current reading speed is about 750 words a minute - but I have a tendency to be able to skim or "bulk comprehend" sections of non-technical text so that might explain it.

small increases in wpm can be easily achieved by beeline[1] it without the drawbacks rsvp has.


Really? It just makes me feel sea-sick. As my eyes scan the words, I can't help the feeling that the colours are changing and staying the same at the same time, it's a most disconcerting optical illusion.

anecdotal [1] evidence suggests it works for me, plus it works for me, plus it makes reading long tests more enjoyable and appealing, but I get where you are coming from, it could be a distraction in your case. I guess no size fits all once again.

[1] http://www.beelinereader.com/challenge

Thank you for this! I intend to drop the script on my blog, it might actually improve real reading rates (rather than thousands coming in from a reddit link and jumping ship after <9s ).

>> rather than thousands coming in from a reddit link and jumping ship after <9s

I think this probably has more to do with Reddit than you or your blog.

Services like this could benefit from eye-tracking. It would be ideal if it would pause whenever you look away from the red focus point. Samsung phones already have eye-tracking API.

Can you please add 1000-2000wpm? 950 is too slow. Honestly, please.

Cool. Is the idea based on any existing studies on the subject?

I like this a lot, my only request would be a slightly longer pause at the end of sentences. Right now it pauses on long words so I mentally chunk all that together.

Most writing has rhythm, a flow and a beat that is completely obliterated by this tool. If this appeals, why not listen to music via MIDI and speed that up too?

This is very well executed. But it doesn’t work on HTTPS :\

Yes, this (Chrome not allowing the script to be run) is a good thing. The bookmarklet javascript needs to be served over HTTPS and any communication it makes also need to be over SSL. Seriously if you aren't defaulting to HTTPS for your website and or service in 2014 you're doing it wrong. Plain text HTTP needs to go the way of telnet.

er.. sorry what? Squirt is using plain text HTTP. This is definitely a bad thing.

From Chrome Dev Tools:

"..was loaded over HTTPS, but ran insecure content from 'http://www.squirt.io/bm/squirt.js': this content should also be loaded over HTTPS."

I would have thought that if you read my entire post that I meant that Chrome blocking it is a good thing. I will edit the comment to make that more clear.

Why not just replace "http://" with "//" in your Bookmarklet code?

I would use this for reading technical documentation (e.g. drupal.org), but a number of such sites force https.

I usually find it hard to digest dense information at a pace of 200 wpm or more. Just because you can read fast, doesn't mean you'll think fast.

Please make it work with Google Docs (maybe make one of those recently announced Docs add-ons?). I want to read PDFs like that, that I upload to Docs.

Funny because when spritz was announced the other day I thought to myself how i would have paid $1-3 for this as a browser plugin.

This is the "danger," I suppose, with a simple execution even when backed by substantial science. Easy to copy a UI.

Why the fuck are there so many Readability apps coming out now. Why everything on internet is exploding without giving the problem much thought. It's becoming more and more of copycheetahs. Game of 2048 goes multiplier, speed-reading articles are more than 4 suddenly.

Please be of more thoughtful in your creative endeavors. If you are able to produce something like this, you might as well be capable of creating better original ideas.

How often is it repeated on HN that ideas are great and important, but implementation is the key? Why is it a problem if there is more than one version of the same concept? What if some people just aren't creative but are great when it comes to execution?

More important, who are you to complain about what other people are making?

Evolution of ideas doesnt follow your notion of "thoughtfulness". And remixing content, apps and ideas is great way to add value with relative small investment of time/money.

Maybe a new easy text scraper came out that makes these a lot easier to do now. lols.

This is great. To the Developers: please send any DMCA notices to /dev/null so I can use this forever.

This is nice but reading speed really isn't my bottleneck when it comes to do things.

I'm sorry but I just can't get past the name. Who names any product squirt?

Someone who wants to be remembered.

I think this is really fantastic

There's also Jetzt, which is a fully-fledged open-source Chrome plugin. It has much better text-selection support and I've found it a better experience to use than both OpenSpritz and Squirt. https://github.com/ds300/jetzt

I don't think squirt is the best name, it brings bad thoughts to my mind.

What's the hurry? Take your time and think what you read, people! :)

My feature request would be that it work with the Kindle Cloud Reader.

Tried this on several articles, and it was displaying a lot of markup.

Ick. URLs?

+1 starting from the name

I don't know how Spritz can patent the <blink> HTML tag.

Aw, I made a chrome extension, but this is better :(


Don't be sad! Be glad that you're not only seeing opportunity that others find valuable, but you're capable of executing on it :) I've installed your ext, going to give it a whirl and see what I can learn from it. Keep building!

Thanks for the kind words :)

Sometimes it displays two words at a time. Otherwise, very cool!

Does anyone know of a speed-reading API another than Spritz?

OP here. I'm using readability's old code (arc90) to extract text, and you can use squirt on any page you like--just embed a link with the same JS as the bookmarklet. If you want a real API, add a github issue (http://www.github.com/cameron/squirt) to remind me--it's on my project bucket list :)

Thanks for the reply! I thought Squirt used Spritz technology?

I'm not sure what "Spritz technology" is. RSVP has been around for a long time—it may be that they genuinely added to it with the centering and the red letter and the nice pauses, or it may be that they're trying to patent the equivalent of a one-click purchase.

This is awesome and it works great on iOS's Safari!

Dope! Glad you figured that out. I axed the mobile install instructions because bookmarklet installation on mobile is such a mess. I designed it for mobile initially, so the layout should usable, at least.

I have to admit I was very surprised it worked so well. I was very skeptical and hopeful when trying it but I'm very glad it does. Thanks for the great work!

Am I really the only one that LOL'd at the name?

This is great, but not able to read play books.

you are essentially trolling spritz and it's uncool

Dude, the name

does it work with sites on https?

They could not have picked a worse name...

On purpose, it is tongue in cheek.

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