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Ask the techie: What’s in your steno bag?

If you’ve ever wondered what members of the NCRA Technology Committee carry with them on their jobs, here’s your chance. A few of them have opened up their steno bags to share with you what they’ve chosen to go to work with every day – photos included!

Here’s the list of what’s in the bag of Sheri Smargon, RDR, CRR, CRC, a broadcast captioner and freelance court reporter from Riverview, Fla.

  1. Luminex and tripod.
  2. Microphone for Luminex.
  3. Luminex charger.
  4. Extension cord.
  5. Cool Table and tripod.
  6. Laptop with charger.
  7. USB cord for Luminex.
  8. USB cord for iPhone.
  9. Charging cable for Android phone (attorneys are grateful when you have the stuff they forgot at home).
  10. Mini stapler.
  11. Tons of pens, Sharpies, and highlighters.
  12. Earbuds (I may get to proof while I wait for a job and have to check the audio).
  13. SD cards.
  14. Flash drives (varying sizes and shapes).
  15. USB Hub.
  16. Extra keypads (never know when one needs to be replaced on the fly).
  17. Business cards.
  18. Exhibits stamp and stickers.
  19. At times, Dymo machine to make exhibits with an extra roll of stickers. Now, I do carry this in its own little bag, but it rests on top of my main carrying case. If it’s going to be an all-day depo, I usually bring this little machine. I can then print off a bunch of stickers at one time.
  20. Calendar for the year-at-a-glance.
  21. Depo book and notice (if I have one).
  22. Post-its in various sizes.
  23. Wite-out (oops happen).
  24. A small USB fan (I’m always warm).
  25. Snacks (I always have Kind bars and crackers of some type in my bag.  You never know if you’re going to get lunch…or for how long).
  26. Rubber bands (for wrangling exhibits and cords after a long day).
  27. Velcro straps (sometimes, I lose one and carry extras to wrangle my cords).
  28. Umbrella (I don’t want to get caught in a Florida thunderstorm with an armful of exhibits).
  29. Gaffer’s tape to tape down my cords and cables if it’s going to be an all-day or multi-day job. I don’t want anyone to trip.

If I’m doing an on-site CART or captioning job, I will also add things like cables and cords, HDMIs and splitters, headphones, and gender-bender connections. I pack my bag to fit the job, and I do it the night before a job. I then place my bag right in front of my door. (I know I’m not the only one who has had the dream of going to a job and realizing your machine is at home.)  

If I have a realtime job that requires iPads, I charge those the night before on a multi-USB charging station; then I bring the charging station, cords, cables, and charging blocks with me.  I also bring my router in case I can’t get internet access for ICVnet.   

If I’m doing a trial, I will also carry an amplifier to attach to the bench, cords, cables, and headphones so I can stay seated while bench conferences are going on. I also toss extra batteries in my bag for the amplifier.

So, pack your bag and eat your Wheaties. Your bag will be heavy, but you’ve got this!

Kimberly R. Greiner, RDR, CRR, CRC, an official court reporter based in Lenexa, Kan., keeps the following handy as she works:

  1. Diamante/tripod.
  2. Laptop/charger.
  3. Foot pedal — I occasionally need one for recorded hearings.
  4. iPads (two standard — one flip case, one hard stand) (one mini in flip case).
  5. Two Diamante chargers — Redundancy pays off.
  6. Two USB cables for realtime (I carry one that is 3 feet and another that is 7 feet.
  7. Three iPad charging cables.
  8. Three USB charging blocks — for outlets without USB port.
  9. External Mouse — I get track pad frustrated.
  10. Earbuds.
  11. Four SD cards —  Always carry a back-up to the back-up.
  12. Flash drives — three of these.
  13. External Hard Drive.
  14. USB Hub — just in case.
  15. iPens X1 — for proofreading on the iPad (it’s my favorite item!)
  16. 3.5 mm male to female (audio feed) 10 feet.
  17. 3.5 mm male to male (audio feed) 3 feet.
  18. Attenuator line male to female with volume dial (audio feed) — I get Nos. 16-18, because I never know how far I’ll be from the audio feed. When I freelanced, conference tables could be 20 feet long.
  19. Small stapler.
  20. Pop-up — small half-oval stand to place paper in (captioner conference tidbit!)
  21. Business cards.
  22. Pens (three or more) — Yes, one is red!
  23. Microfiber cloths.
  24. Spare glasses.
  25. Lotion/chapstick.
  26. Sometimes a small fan.

Alan Peacock, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner and freelancer court reporter based in Mobile, Ala., said: “I do not have a short answer for this wonderful question. For me, I have a closet that is chock-full of bags, cables, cords, adapters, antiquated and new devices. I will pack my bag differently depending on the assignment. For example, an onsite CART assignment would require an entirely different setup than a realtime deposition. But for today’s purposes, I’m going to answer the question assuming that I’m going to a realtime deposition.” 

Here is his basic list:

  1. My steno writer and computer — that’s a given. If I’m traveling out of town, I also carry a backup writer and computer. My backup writer is the Lightspeed. It’s light and doesn’t require much room. I carry several SD cards with me as backup as well.
  2. Steno machine charger (and a backup in my car).
  3. Steno machine realtime cable (and an extra in my bag).
  4. iPads and iPad stands and Charger Unity with Charging Cords. Generally, I will carry a couple of extra setups just in case I get the chance to upsell realtime services to a client who did not order. I also keep one extra tablet running at all times by my side so I can easily swap out with someone who runs into trouble and loses a connection or has a technical issue.
  5. MiFi Device — for streaming or for my own private network. If I’m using realtime editors as well, I like to have one internet device dedicated to sending my audio stream to the remote scopist and proofreader and then a separate internet connection for my streaming to clients.
  6. Portable Router — As a backup in case internet fails. I can still stream locally.
  7. A 12- or 24-hour kitchen timer alarm clock — For depositions where the reporter has to track the time, these are cheap, portable and allows everyone to see how much time they have used.
  8. Office-sized stapler — The smaller ones do not do it for me. I like the comfort of having a good sturdy office-sized stapler.
  9. Wall power adapter — for plugging a grounded device into an ungrounded outlet.
  10. Two 6-foot extension cords and one small power outlet.
  11. Velcro carpet cord covers — I have two that are 6 feet each that I can lay on over my wires to prevent anyone from tripping over my cords. You can buy these in a variety of colors and sizes. They fold up nicely and can be stored in a side zipper of a ZUCA bag.
  12. USB thumb drives.
  13. Apple iPad (lightning to USB) thumb drive for saving attorneys’ annotated realtime files.
  14. Apple AirPods (for scoping quietly on breaks or in the hotel).
  15. USB card reader (for reading backup machine card in emergencies)
  16. USB microphone and stand for audiosync.
  17. XLR to 1/8-inch audio adapter for receiving audio from the videographer’s mixer. You may want to carry a male/female XLR adapter just in case.
  18. Machine microphone — I have two for daisy-chaining on long conference tables.
  19. Exhibit stickers.
  20. Ethernet cord.
  21. Computer adapters for VGA, HDMI, and USB C.
  22. Audio/mic splitter cable.
  23. Extra charging station for iPhone and Android devices for the attorney who comes in and needs a charge. It’s not required, but clients remember small courtesies like this.
  24. Pens, paper and highlighters. Always have extra pens. It does not look professional for the reporter to walk in and have to borrow a pen from the attorneys to write down names. Although they are not hiring us to write with a pen, it just seems more professional if you can always remember to stock extras, so you do not have that problem.
  25. Personal grooming bag: As a male reporter, I have found over the years that it’s helpful to carry a BIC razor with me, just in case a spot is missed. In this bag, I also carry mints, aspirin, and small bottle of unscented hand lotion. I also have an extra pair of readers/glasses in case I need them.

Sandra M. Mierop, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, an agency owner and freelance court reporter from Anchorage, Alaska, keeps the following on hand for jobs:

  1. Lenovo and backup Dell for Eclipse/Connection Magic.
  2. Luminex, charger, tripod.
  3. Three hot spots each with different carriers (AT&T, Verizon, local Alaska company GCI).
  4. Six Samsung tablets with charging cables.
  5. Marantz recorder.
  6. Three extra SD/micro SD cards for Luminex and Marantz recorder.
  7. Three USB external sound cards to receive court’s audio for syncing with Eclipse; earbuds for sound check.
  8. External hub with USB and SD ports.
  9. Three Luminex writer-to-computer cables (Samsung tablet cables can work, too).
  10. Exhibit stickers, pens, notepad, business cards, and microfiber wipe.
  11. First-aid kit (Band-aids, Neosporin, ibuprofen, Purell).
  12. Thermos.
  13. Reel-up extension cord with four outlets; small electrical outlet hub adding three extra outlets; gaffer tape.