StreamText and Zoom

By Teresa Russ

Since the pandemic, Zoom and StreamText are as popular as peanut butter and jelly.

End users to first-time users are asking questions or offering suggestions on how to best use these two platforms. The developers of StreamText have listed on their website many frequently asked questions, such as, “Can screen readers read my realtime text in the player?” to “This is a long event and another realtime writer is going to help me. Can we switch writers without interruption?” And the answer is, “Yes! You can seamlessly change writers during a live event. For events that span long periods of time, you can easily pass control to a new writer. Just click on the event control and select the new writer for the event.”

Here is one discussion that appeared on Facebook. I myself had a question on how to prevent losing captioning while using Zoom. The question was asked on June 7, 2020, and Nicole Terlizzi Kochy, RPR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner in Edison, N.J., said, “Did you try just straight into the box without StreamText? It’s a little more of a pain for the captioner, but it looks nice for the consumer with no delay. I find with StreamText only one line pops on at a time, and then it disappears, or if they are sending the Zoom to Facebook Live, the captions seem to disappear regardless. My personal preference is to give them a separate StreamText link, but I find consumers like it best directly into the box.”

As the discussion continued, more Facebook users chimed in. Mike Rowell, RDR, CRR, CRC, a freelance captioner in Placerville, Calif., shared this when someone asked about paragraphing: “Every time you send through a new paragraph, it wipes the subtitle box for the other viewers. If you’re fairly new to captioning directly to Zoom, I recommend setting up a test session using two devices and two separate Zoom logins. Caption from one and view subtitles from the other. I’ve seen some advice that you should include a new paragraph with every period or question mark in order to avoid accidentally filling up the box, but this is very problematic for a reader relying on subtitles who has a different view of the subtitles than the captioner.”

Rowell is very comfortable with the various platforms. When I contacted him and asked about the various platforms, he said, “There’s also Blackboard Connect, which works a lot like direct to Zoom, and there’s a way to do direct into Zoom with StenoKeys while also sending a separate stream to StreamText in a standalone window. Using multiple outputs in CaseCAT translation settings, you can write StenoKeys to Zoom and ASCII to StreamText at the same time.

“Still another option is to set it up so everything from StreamText flows into Zoom. It involves telling StreamText which Zoom URL to use, using something called an API token that you can pick up in Zoom once the host uses the ‘Assign to Type’ function.”

Denise L., a CART captioner, when asked about using the two platforms said, “The tough part about breakout rooms is you have to be assigned a new API token to embed the captions on the breakout room and do it again when going back to the main room.”

Nicholas Wilkie of StreamText said he gets a variety of questions on Zoom. I asked Wilkie whether there will be any update to the API token, and he said that Zoom has not released anything as of today. He said “Zoom is not really a CART platform.” However, what he likes is its “ease of use.” It’s remarkable that we have this technology available, especially now. Wilkie shared that users can find summary tools on Facebook, YouTube, as well as on their website to learn the different functions of using Zoom and StreamText.  

It’s always nice to have options. Wilkie said that StreamCast is used a lot. StreamCast is an application designed to allow you to overlay captions onto any application that does not have native captioning support. The application is similar to Text On Top but allows a direct feed from StreamText.Net. You don’t need to do anything special to the event when you schedule it. Just start the application and set the event name to the event you want to StreamCast

You can find information on how to use StreamCast on StreamText.Net. One really nice feature about StreamCast is that it stays on top, and you never lose the text, and it “looks great.” He said he does not get a lot of questions because users can learn how to manipulate the features. Another nice feature is that the user can use StreamText along with StreamCast at the same time. This allows the client to pick what they prefer.

(Excerpts taken from StreamText.Net)

Teresa Russ, CRI, is a CART Captioner and freelance reporter in Bellflower, Calif.

Roberts has prize-winning photo for NCRA contest

Maxine Roberts, RDR

Maxine Roberts, RDR, an official in Akron, Ohio, is the winner of the NCRA Marketing Photo Contest. She told the JCR Weekly a little about the photo and how she feels about winning.

JCR | What gave you the idea to have pictures taken with your steno machine? 

MR | I’ve been a court reporter for more than 30 years and have never captured or seen a photo of myself while on the job. Of course, I’ve seen very brief snippets of myself from coverage of different cases on the local news stations, but I wanted to do something fun with it to create a memory for myself as I near retirement.

JCR | Do you have plans on how you want to use the photos?

MR | I will probably print and frame it for myself.

JCR | Why did you decide to enter this profession?

MR | I knew nothing about the court reporting profession when I decided to embark upon it. At the time I was working at a local hospital on a part-time basis while attending the university. Knowing neither was what I wanted to do, I took to the ads in the local paper and ran across an advertisement for the Academy of Court Reporting and decided to try my hand, or hands should I say. I’ve now been at it 35 years, and here I am today.

JCR | What did you think when you heard you won our contest? 

MR | I was completely surprised. Who knew a last-minute decision would produce a winning photo?

JCR | Anything else you would like to add?  

MR | I want to thank NCRA for choosing my photo and thank my photographer, Lonnie Griffin Photography, for taking care of me at the last minute.

NOTE: Roberts will also be featured as the NCRA member profiled in the October JCR.

Coming soon, fan favorites from NCRA’s Connect Virtual 2020

If you missed NCRA’s Connect Virtual 2020 conference, don’t worry. On Oct. 1 six of the fan favorite sessions that were recorded will be available as e-sessions for purchase. The cost for each session is $55 for members and $79 for nonmembers. Each of the sessions are worth 0.1 CEU.

The e-sessions being offered include the following:

Reporters and Gadgets and Apps — Oh, My!
Presented by Lynette Mueller, RDR, CRR

Learn to be self-sufficient, productive, efficient, and courageous in your everyday professional life! Lynette Mueller will share the gadgets, apps, and other resources that assist her to meet the many challenges that may arise in the deposition or courtroom setting. She will also talk about the workflow she uses after the job — work smarter, not harder! This session will wind up with discussion from the audience and sharing other gadgets that have helped them along their “Yellow Brick Road.”

Ethics Jeopardy
Presented by Andrea Kreutz , CLVS, Mindy Sindiong, CLVS, LaJuana Pruitt, CLVS, Tim Janes, CLVS

Come join an educational game show where contestants will answer everyday videographer scenarios. Categories include Remote Depositions, The Secret World, and It’s Not That Kind of Video.

Just Okay is NOT Okay; Is YOUR Realtime Good Enough?
Presented by Anissa Nierenberger, RPR, CRR, CRC, CRI

While realtime does not mean perfection, how do you know if your realtime measures up as a sellable product? Let’s look beyond the gray and examine concrete, real-world examples of what is great, good, and just okay. Just because you can read through it doesn’t mean that your clients can. Anissa Nierenberger will debunk untranslate rate myths and other misperceptions about quality realtime. She’ll also provide solutions to common stacking and easy brief ideas, as well as explain why you should be editing in a way that school never taught you! If you’ve felt “in the dark” regarding realtime standards, you won’t want to miss this presentation!

Social Media Bootcamp
Presented by Cathy O’Neal

What social media should I use? When should I post? How often? What should I say? Do I have to answer every stupid comment? Can’t someone else just do it for me? Social media can be just one more chore, or it can help you gain visibility, reputation, and clients. Learn the who, what, when, where, and why of social media from a seasoned communications pro who finished 2019 with a 3.2 million Facebook reach! Weed out the stuff you don’t need, focus on the stuff you do need, and walk away from the session with action items you can do that day to start building the social media presence you want.

Work Smarter, Not Harder
Presented by Allison Hall, RMR, CRR

Are you running your transcript load, or is it running you? Are you dreaming about weekends to yourself and vacations where the laptop stays at home? “Work Smarter, Not Harder” will teach you ways to up your efficiency, increase your productivity, and reduce the amount of stress in a high-stress field.

Marking Exhibits Electronically for Remote Proceedings
Presented by Rene White Moarefi, RPR, CRR

This session will cover the steps for marking exhibits electronically during remote proceedings, including download and setup of electronic exhibit stamps.

For more information or to purchase any of these sessions beginning Oct. 1, click here.

Court reporting student earns scholarship

The Surprise Independent posted a press release on Sept. 16 issued by NCRA announcing that Lisa Johnson, a court reporting student at Gateway Community College in Phoenix, Ariz., has been awarded a $1,500 scholarship by the Association’s Council on Approved Student Education.

Read more.

The ups and downs of parenting and virtual schooling

Court reporters and captioners with school-age children at home are among the many parents dealing with virtual schooling because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Myra Ponce, RDR, CRR, an official court reporter in Los Angeles, Calif., has two children in eighth and tenth grades who she is supervising with their online schooling.

“I am teleworking and conduct court hearings via video teleconferencing,” Ponce said. “The kids understand when I’m in court, no interruptions whatsoever.”

She said her work has only been affected by occasional slow internet connections. Her children have sometimes experienced technical difficulties with being kicked off Zoom.

“I commend the teachers and staff/administration for their efforts in this new style of teaching,” Ponce said. “They, too, had to adjust a great deal — having to learn the platform Zoom, adjusting their teaching styles to accommodate for the distance learning, and, for some, having to teach from home, where I’m sure there are many distractions and obstacles they need to put aside. I commend our IT/AV staff as well, as they were able to implement the video conferencing expeditiously since the closing of our courts back in March and as they continue to keep us running through this pandemic.”

Amy Patricia Rostad, RPR, is a freelance reporter in Kirkland, Wash., who has a seventh-grade son. She said she and her husband share the supervising as their work schedules allow, but they are “pretty hands-off parents when it comes to remote learning.” 

Rostad said the first couple of weeks of school have gone well.

“He’s developing excellent time management skills,” Rostad said. “He manages his synchronous learning time by using his Outlook calendar and setting alarms for himself to ensure that he is punctual. He manages his asynchronous learning time by planning it out to ensure that he completes and submits his assignments on time.”

While eating lunch as a family and getting hugs during breaks are positive things Rostad has experienced, her family has learned to deal with tighter quarters than usual.

“It hasn’t really affected my job, except the three of us have to work as quietly as possible,” Rostad said. “At the end of June, a city water main broke and flooded our basement, so we’ve been living on the top floor of our home ever since. Thankfully, our lovely neighbors offered us the use of their home until the end of September. When we’ve needed a quiet space to work, it’s been such a blessing to have the use of their home to spread out in. My fingers are crossed that the reconstruction is complete before our neighbors return home.”

Heidi Belton, RMR, CRR, CRC, is a freelance reporter in Walnut Creek, Calif., who has a daughter in ninth grade. She said the only downside right now is her daughter getting headaches from too much computer time.

Workwise for her it has been positive.

“I don’t have to schlep her around,” Belton said. “So, I can actually work more. It makes work easier. We all have more time in our day because we are not commuting and packing lunches.”

Belton added another positive thing about her new schedule. “I love my Zoom depos. My dog is right at my feet!”

Rostad found another upside to virtual learning.

“I have a confession to make,” she said. “Unbeknownst to my son’s teacher, I joined in on part of his gym class last week, which was a fun and much-needed break from proofreading. His teacher was playing music and demonstrating proper stretching techniques for the kiddos to do, so I jumped right in and joined my son.”

Court reporter earns national certification

The San Diego Union-Tribune posted a press release on Sept. 10 issued by NCRA announcing that Erica Varquez of Carlsbad has earned her Registered Professional Reporter certification.

Read more.

Uncertified Zoom court recordings in Illinois

A blog posted Sept. 7 on Legal Video Forum discusses a recent ruling in Illinois about video recording in court.

Read more.

A to Z Scholarship recipient announced

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Sept. 3 that NCRA recently awarded Deneatha McGeachy of Decatur, Ga., a $500 NCRA A to Z® Scholarship.

Read more.

NCRF renews agreement with Library of Congress

NCRF has announced that it has renewed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project.

“We are proud to announce that NCRF just renewed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project,” said NCRF Chair Cathy Phillips, FAPR, RMR, CMRS, an official court reporter from Collierville, Tenn. “Collecting and preserving the firsthand accounts of our nation’s wartime heroes is an honor and a privilege. Our court reporters can select veterans from the library’s website or interview and transcribe a local veteran’s story,” she added.

Understanding the realities of war based on accounts by our wartime heroes is so appreciated that Congress passed legislation in 2000 creating the VHP. Since then, NCRA members have transcribed more than 4,000 veterans’ histories.

As part of the Veterans History Project, videos, transcriptions, original letters, diaries, photos, memoirs, and historic documents related to a veteran’s wartime service are preserved and catalogued at the Library of Congress. NCRA members who submit the requested documentation, keep backups of submitted work, and email and mail final documents to NCRF can earn 0.25 PDCs credit for each transcription.

To learn more about the VHP effort and how you can participate through NCRF, visit NCRF’s Oral Histories page or contact Jill Parker Landsman, NCRF manager, at jlandsman@ncra.org.

The perfect prescription

By Jennifer Wielage

Jennifer Wielage, RPR, CRR

As a high-achieving, success-driven court reporter, I am certainly no stranger to stress and its effects on one’s mental and physical well-being.  

Many years ago, as a result of my harried lifestyle, I spent much time in the doctor’s office. Panic gripped me often in the middle of the night. My heart raced. I was short of breath. I remember many times being rushed to the ER with a crippling fear I was dying.

When test after test came back negative, my doctor wrote me a prescription. I looked down at the blue paper he pulled from his pad. On it, he wrote: Your Erroneous Zones by Dr. Wayne Dyer.  “You are prescribing a sex book?” I exclaimed.  He laughed and said, “No, ‘erroneous’ means error.” He explained that I had errors in my thinking. He promised that this book would help me look at my life differently, and if I heeded Dr. Dyer’s advice, my health issues would resolve. I left the office, head held low, feeling discouraged. I contemplated changing physicians.

The prescription sat on my desk for over a year; eventually getting buried and forgotten under a pile of papers.  My life had not changed nor gotten better. In fact, now I was suffering with even more health ailments, random body aches, horrible seasonal allergies, ovarian cysts, asthma, and an autoimmune thyroid disease called Grave’s disease.  

Deep down, I knew my workload was intense, my commute was exhausting, and I was flat-out beat from reading transcripts into the night, but I never imagined work could be the cause of my ailments.  

My story is a pretty common one. In America stress is the leading cause of premature deaths. Approximately 120,000 people die annually of work-related stress.  Chronic stress can affect your brain, suppress your thyroid, cause blood sugar imbalances, decrease bone density and muscle tissue, raise blood pressure, reduce your immunity and ability to heal, increase fat deposits around your abdomen that are associated with heart attacks, strokes, and elevated bad cholesterol.  

Thirty-three percent of Americans feel they live in extremely stressful conditions.

At that time, however, I believed that I was a victim of overworking and stress. I did not take any personal responsibility for any of it because I believed that life was happening to me.  Thus I felt powerless. It was as if I was in the third row of a minivan, being driven by fear, doubt, and insecurity; and I had no clue that I could actually decide to climb into the driver’s seat of my life and take the wheel.

There’s an old adage: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”  Many years later, I finally read the book.

My mind was blown. I knew immediately it was just what the doctor ordered. It was such an integral part of my healing journey because it taught me that I could choose the life I wanted instead of playing the victim to my circumstances. The book was my first step on my journey toward feeling more empowered in my life, taking charge, and understanding that I did have the ability to feel amazing.

Because of my experience overcoming fear, letting go of my limiting beliefs, and getting out of my own way, I was propelled to become a life-balance coach so that I could help others, particularly my fellow court reporters, who also struggled with stress, overwhelmed with a hefty workload, to find more peace and contentment in their lives. For me, living a life of balance was my key to calm and it became my passion to share my experience.

As we all know, in March of 2020, the world changed drastically due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In such a short period of time, work came to a screeching halt and food and supplies were harder to obtain. We were instructed to remain in our homes to prevent the spread. Many experienced the effects of the virus and/or mourned the loss of a loved one.

Many of us have found ourselves in fight-or-flight mode. The term “fight-or-flight” is a term that stems from our ancient ancestors’ choice when faced with danger. They could either fight the tiger or run away from it. In the 1920s American physiologist Walter Cannon was the first to describe this syndrome. He realized that a chain of rapidly occurring reactions inside the body helped to mobilize the body’s resources to deal with threatening circumstances.  

What often happens in today’s fast-paced world is our minds create situations where the fight-or-flight button is triggered from a perceived danger, even if we are not in actual danger, things such as traffic jams, work pressures, or family difficulties. Our bodies go through the same immobilization/fight-or-flight process. Chemicals course through our bodies, wreaking havoc on the state of our health.

This is what I was experiencing in the doctor’s office all those years ago, and this is what many of us are experiencing these days with the global pandemic.

There’s good news. We can learn to manage our minds around anything, even Covid-19.

I am going to offer three erroneous beliefs that are common today in the climate we are facing as court reporters.

Error #1: I have no control.

The truth is you actually do. Even though circumstances arise over which we have no control, we always have control over one very important thing: our thoughts about our circumstances.  

Our circumstances are completely neutral. Circumstances are events that occur in the world or in our life. A circumstance is not opinion. It is a fact that can be proven in a court of law. A circumstance is something that everyone in the world would agree on.

Our thoughts about our circumstance are what make all the difference.  The good news is: We are completely in control of our thoughts.  They’re ours to think and no one can change them without our permission.

Why do our thoughts matter? Because thoughts create our feelings. When we think negative thoughts, we experience negative feelings. When we think uplifting, positive, and empowering thoughts, we feel uplifted, positive and empowered. Our feelings drive our actions and our actions create our results. This is why our thoughts really matter. Our thoughts are the mainframes that keep everything functioning or not functioning. We can shift our thoughts from those that do not serve us to ones that will empower us.  

One thought that has helped me during the pandemic is: Life is happening for me. There are always blessings that come from hard times. Look for them, embrace them, and trust your ability to overcome whatever comes your way. This is empowering.

Error #2: Life is so uncertain now.  

If we are honest, life has always been uncertain. Each day is a gift. We have no idea what circumstances will come our way, nor should we worry about what may potentially happen.  Worry is one of those useless emotions. There is absolutely no upside to worrying.  It keeps us stuck, prevents us living our purpose and steals our present joy.  

Instead of worrying, we need to try to focus on things that will create positive results in our life.  We can use our energy instead to propel us in the direction of wellness, i.e., eating well, exercising, and taking time out to breathe. These actions will put us in the driver’s seat and will make us more resilient against whatever comes our way.

Error #3: I can’t make money because there is a global pandemic.

I lovingly want to assure you that, while there are those who will come up with reasons why they cannot work during the pandemic, many people are busy, making money, not just in spite of the pandemic, in many cases because of the pandemic.  We, as court reporters, have such an amazing skill, one that blows people’s minds. While it’s true we have to learn a new method of reporting for the time being, working from home has many benefits, e.g., the ability to be barefoot, wearing yoga pants to work, having our dog or cat lying next to us while we work, not to mention an extremely stress-free commute!

Just recently, I was lying on the beach, relaxing, when I spotted my doctor playing ball with his son on the sand. I smiled thinking about his prescription for me all those years ago and what a huge impact it had on my life.  In his wisdom, he knew I needed to journey inward in order to be healed and to become who I am today.  I believe it was all part of God’s divine plan for my life.

My friends, let us use our challenges as the fuel that ignites a fire within so that we can, ultimately, evolve and grow, not just as court reporters, but as the people we were created to be!  

Jennifer Wielage, RPR, CRR, is a freelance reporter in Edison, N.J. Her website is Rainbowbalance.org.