One of the best tips for improving one’s reading I’ve come across is to use a pencil as you scroll through an article; it helps to place one’s eyes in the optimal position, and helps to maintain a high speed. This isn’t practical when reading on a screen, even if you’re using a tablet. There are a few software packages about for speed reading, but many work by feeding words into a reader program which then flashes each word quickly in sequence. They tend to be inflexible, and non-convenient to use. The optimal solution, I think, would be a software package which formatted the document into a reasonable size font, and then highlighted the area around the mouse pointer, with a particular focus on the words immediately above the pointer. Ideally, such a solution would dim the entire screen save for the article being read. I’d imagine this solution is a way off, especially given the unflexible nature of the PDF document format. However, as a stop-gap I was able to came up with this 10-liner, which produces a bar that sits slightly above the mouse. The bar is wide enough for about 6 or 7 words, and I find it provides just the right kind of focus. Here is a screenshot:
It literatlly is a 10-line hack, I didn’t even both coding in any exit functionality. I have it bound to a hotkey (using AutohotKey), and I use
Alt-F4 (with focus on the bar application) to quit.
The code is in C#, and is available in this zip file, which also includes the executable. It needs the .NET framework 3.5.
I’d love to hear from anybody who has a more advanced solution.