Ask the Techie: CART captioning brief forms

Dear Techie,

I will be transitioning into CART captioning and need some great briefs. I’m hopeful someone on your Tech Committee can provide a few brief forms to get me started that I can add to my dictionary.

Captivated with Captioning

Dear Captivated,

Writing short is the way to go for every court reporter! We think you’ll love the following brief forms from some of the CART captioners on our Tech Committee. Good luck with your transition!

CART captioner and freelance court reporter Amy Yarbrough, Atlantic Beach, Fla., has the following brief forms she recommends and uses daily:

Briefs for words ending in -ly:

basically = B*L

exactly = KP*L

completely = KPH*L or KPH*T

previously: PRAO*EL

ultimately: U*LT

constantly: KA*UNL

really: R*EL

not really: N*EL

obviously: O*BL

absolutely: SLAOULT

Classroom parentheticals:

Phone/phone: <Parenthetical>(Cell phone interruption)

Span/Span: <Parenthetical>(Speaking Spanish)

Lang/Lang: <Parenthetical>(Speaking another language)

Check/check: (^^Captioner will verify spelling later^^)

PO*U/PO*U: <Parenthetical>(Reading from PowerPoint)

In small classes or club meetings, if you can learn names, use the first letter of the name plus the answer bank to define a person’s name. It is helpful to have an ID for yourself in case you need to write a message or respond to the professor. Additionally, have a generic stroke for guest speakers. 

A + Answer Bank: <Colloquy>>>AMY:

C + Answer Bank: <Colloquy>>>CAPTIONER:

G + Answer Bank: <Colloquy>>>GUEST SPEAKER:

Teresa Russ, CRI, Bellflower, Calif., another CART captioner and freelance court reporter on the Technology Committee, offered a few of her favorites to add to your list: 

finish – TPOEURB

homework – HOERBG

admonition – TPNEURB

coefficient – TPOERB

classroom –  KHRAOPL

Bringing captions to Coachella

Stan Sakai and Isaiah Roberts

By Heidi Renner

When Isaiah Roberts, RPR, Magnolia, Ill., thought he wrote the word lemon while captioning Ariana Grande’s performance at Coachella, he was a little concerned. Did she really say lemon? It turns out he was captioning the moment when someone in the crowd threw a lemon and hit Grande, which became a well-known moment at the music festival.

“I remembered writing lemon during Ariana’s performance and definitely thinking I misheard something,” he posted on Facebook. “Then my cab driver in LA today asked if I saw her get hit by the lemon, and instantly I felt a relief knowing why I did, in fact, write lemon followed by a bunch of expletives.”

Roberts and Stan Sakai, CRC, New York, N.Y., had the unique experience of captioning Coachella, an annual music festival in Indio, Calif. It is one of the biggest music festivals in the world. Then the next weekend they captioned Stagecoach, another music festival held in the same location. Roberts posted a video from Coachella that has been widely shared.

Roberts had looked at the ADA section of Coachella’s website and noticed it told people to reach out if they needed ASL or closed captioning. He sent an email asking if they offered captioning and who provided it? Coachella responded on a Monday saying they wanted to have a meeting to talk about it on Friday. Roberts called his friend Sakai, and they prepared for the meeting. Sakai had already built a website that allowed captioning to be accessed through an app. Sakai worked on making changes to his program to make it work with Coachella. Roberts said the two worked late into the night every night that week. They gave a demonstration Friday to the Coachella representatives over a video call.

“They were blown away,” Roberts said. The representatives recorded what they were seeing on the screen and then showed it to the festival directors. “We were on cloud nine,” Roberts said.

Sakai described it this way on Facebook: “After hundreds of hours of work, the Coachella and Stagecoach captioning systems are online and (nearly) ready to go! A five-server monstrosity spread across New York and California able to serve at peak 29,000 connections per minute, averaging 2,000 connections served per minute at saturation. This will be woven into their existing web and mobile platforms available to their 130,000 attendees, who will all be able to access the live captioning of mainstage performances right from their phones. As a team, Isaiah and I will be tag-teaming, between feeding out pre-scripted lyrics and live stenoing, handing off the baton depending on what’s thrown at us. And when people ask if technology will replace us, my answer to that is: no, we harness technology to keep us going!”

Because the captions were available through the festival app, they were available to everyone. All audience members were required to download the app to activate their wrist bands.

Isaiah Roberts

Roberts saw it as an opportunity to spread the word about court reporting and captioning.

“This is the thing I’m most excited about,” he said. “In trying to grow the profession, I speak to students, but does it really make the profession look appealing? Being at the major music festival really meant something.”

Rachel Meireis from Placentia, Calif., appreciated the captions. She had requested captioning at Stagecoach.

“I am late deafened,” Meireis said. “I lost my hearing in my 20s and wear bilateral cochlear implants to help me hear. But it can be iffy and makes it quite hard to know what’s going on at times. That situation gets complicated because I can sign but I am not fluent in ASL at all. Having access at the concert was amazing. I could keep up with what the performer said between songs and understand lyrics I have been hearing wrong on the radio. Having the captions stream to my phone was great too. It made me able to leave the ADA riser freely and move about the concert but still follow along. Stanley and Isaiah were so helpful and friendly though the whole process. I am very grateful they were able to make this work.”

Roberts said he had wondered who would be benefiting, and he was happy to meet Meireis. During Coachella there were 500 unique visitors viewing the captions. At Stagecoach, there were 400 on the first day. By the end of the weekend they had reached about 1,000 people.

“Hands down the best part was meeting Rachel and getting to meet a consumer of [the captioning],” Roberts said.

For the actual captioning, Roberts and Sakai would usually get a set list so they would look up lyrics ahead of time when possible. They had headphones directly hooked to the singer’s microphone. Sometimes the performer would start talking about other performers or the other people on stage with them, so Roberts and Sakai tried to prepare ahead of time for those things as much as they could. They worked together, captioning on both of their machines at the same time. Sometimes one person would write and the other would look up lyrics.

“It was as cool as I wanted it to be,” Roberts said. “I don’t know what could have gone better.”

Roberts urges other court reporters and captioners to make more of these opportunities happen. Coachella didn’t offer captioning until Roberts reached out to them.

“My takeaway is whatever event you are into, realize that under the ADA they need to offer this service,” Roberts said. “Advocate for yourself.”

Sakai and Roberts are hoping this is a beginning, and there will be more music festival work for them.

Sakai summarized the experience on Facebook: “COACHELLA RECAP: Between shoddy internet connections, knocked-over equipment from dudes getting tackled backstage, my laptop getting nailed by a flying rogue water bottle, or minor software issues, providing live captioning at Coachella was a resounding SUCCESS. Isaiah and I powered through and got the app online on all the monitors at the ADA platforms and on the official Coachella mobile app, captioned Spanish-language performers, and even spared a few moments to visit our friends. I’m still gobsmacked and star-struck by the weekend but can’t help to think that this is the beginning of something huge. We all worked hard but we’re both forever grateful for having had the opportunity to pioneer live-event captioning on this scale. A HUGE thank you to Isaiah for making this all possible, and as I’ve said before, I remain humbled and excited for what’s to come.”

Ask a Techie: Using Tablets for Proofing

Dear Techie:

I’d like to explore editing/proofreading on a tablet-style device with a stylus. Questions on forums and to friends have given me a mishmash of information, mostly related to iPads that they no longer use. People are all over the place. 

I want to open a transcript, edit with a stylus, search if I need to within the doc, but not specifically edit as one would in CAT software. I want to hold it as if it is a piece of paper and mark on it with the stylus as if a red pen.  

Prepped for Proofing

Dear Prepped,

First, some definitions of “edit” and “redlining” from our Technology Committee member Kevin Hunt, Buffalo, N. Y. 

“Edit” is making a change directly in the original file, with the original text/format changed to something new. The “edit” can be done in a tablet running Windows as described above, just not very efficiently.

“Redlining” is highlighting in some manner a change to be made but the original text is currently unchanged. The “redlining” can be done by converting the text to a PDF and then use an annotation app to redline the PDF text.  That is then used as a reference to correct the actual transcript in the CAT software.

Kevin provides these suggested options to consider for editing on a tablet:

  1. I have a MS Surface Pro with the detachable screen that can serve as a tablet. I can run Case CATalyst on that “tablet” when detached because it is still a PC running Windows, which is what is required to run Case CATalyst (as well as just about any other CAT software I’m aware of).
    1. In tablet mode with the MS Surface Stylus, I can do just about anything the software allows, since key combination commands are also mimicked via menu options. However, having to use menus for everything, such as even the most basic commands of Replacing or Defining something, etc., is not an efficient process.
    2. I created macros that allowed me to (after highlighting the text) tap a button that brought up the Replace or Define dialog, but I then have to bring up the virtual keyboard overlay on the screen to complete the process — again not very efficient.

Kevin also offers this advice: At the current state of technology, I’d stick with the universally readable PDF file format and programs such as iAnnotate and PDFExpert to “redline” an image of the page of transcript that can then be easily sent back to the reporter for corrections.

Kimberly Greiner, RDR, CRR, CRC, Lenexa, Kan., another member of the Technology Committee, recommends an annotation app called Readdle. She says it works great with the Apple devices and stylus and is user-friendly. Kim mentions that if court reporters wish to use a Windows application for proofreading a transcript, Xodo has a great product and is user-friendly.

Here are links for annotation apps to consider proofreading your transcripts:

Apple Devices

Android Devices

Windows

Then, for stylus options, check out these links:

Best Stylus for Android

Best Stylus for Apple

Ask the techie: Quotation marks

Dear Techie:

I keep struggling with finding an easy way to brief those darn quotation marks, especially when following says or said. Do you have any great suggestions that can lighten my load?

Questioning the quotation mark

Dear Questioning:

Technology Committee member Merilee S. Johnson, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, suggests the following brief forms when dealing with quotes:

I have most of the following strokes defined as:  , “<Cap next>

SA*EUD               defined as           said, “<Cap Next>

SA*EUS                defined as           says, “<Cap Next>

SA*EUG               defined as           saying, “<Cap Next>

RA*EDZ              defined as           reads, “<Cap Next>

TAO*EULGTS     defined as           titled, “<Cap Next>

WR*EU                 defined as           write, “<Cap Next>

WR*EUS              defined as           writes, “<Cap Next>

WRO*ET              defined as           wrote, “<Cap Next>

KWOERBGS        defined as           ,”

KWOEFPLT          defined as           .”

Hope this helps lighten your load and cuts down your transcript editing time!

News from STARtech 19

By Lynette Mueller

Certified trainers Rosalynn DiBartolo and Merilee Johnson, RDR, CRR, CRC

As I reflect on my professional educational journey, it seems I have a habit of attending the same conferences and seminars each year. I wanted to do something new and different. I heard some buzz about computer software user groups and decided I should take a deeper dive by attending STARtech 19 in Nashville, Tenn. I definitely had high hopes for an amazing experience, and I was not disappointed. The in-depth CAT software training was topnotch, and there were free 30-minute one-on-one sessions with certified trainers! I totally took advantage of that huge perk. In the interest of keeping everyone up to date on the latest tech news, I also took the opportunity to interview Cindi Lynch, Stenograph’s trainer extraordinaire; James Kuta from Stenograph; and Lauren Lawrence from Stenovate.

Case CATalyst – RealTeam


The Stenograph team

Cindi Lynch from Stenograph gave me the rundown on this new feature for Case CATalyst.

LM | Give us an overview of the new feature of Case CATalyst — RealTeam.

CL | RealTeam is Stenograph’s simultaneous editing feature. It enables sharing of text, audio, and globals in real time. All of the RealTeam participants have access to all text, audio, and globals. For example, a reporter can be writing and translating in realtime while one or more scopists edit and/or proofreaders proof the same file; or, outside of realtime, two or more scopists and/or proofreaders can work simultaneously on the same file. This feature can significantly speed up the process of transcript production by enabling multiple parties to edit the same file during realtime or post-translation. Also, if the realtime is being output to CaseViewNet or a CARTView display, any party receiving a realtime text display also gets the benefit of more accurate translation.

LM | How is this a game-changer for aspiring realtime court reporters?

CL | This is a game-changing feature for everyone involved in transcript production — reporters, scopists, and proofers — as it enables editing and proofing to be done far more quickly. A reporter with a reliable partner, or multiple partners, can count on those partners to assist in the accurate editing of the file. This means more accurate realtime translation display and the ability to deliver the finished product more quickly than ever before. For a reporter who is not yet providing realtime, having a trusted partner who can correct on the fly could mean the difference in quality of output that could mean being confident enough to be able to provide realtime translation services to the other participants in the proceedings (vs. not providing those services). They can compete with their colleagues and out-deliver competitors.

LM | What are the main requirements for a court reporter and a scopist as far as software to utilize this new feature?

CL | All members of the team must be using Case CATalyst Version 20 and have an internet connection.

LM | What do you feel are the top three benefits of this new feature?

CL | These are my top picks:

1. Speed of delivery. A good team can provide more accurate translation during realtime and a final transcript very quickly after the conclusion of the proceedings. Instead of taking weeks or days, the transcript can realistically be completed same day or next day. That makes the clients happy and impressed with the service provided (which is also good for the profession as a whole).

2. Better schedule coverage/opportunities to earn more. Instead of dedicating one or two days a week to write and the rest of the week to edit, a reporter and scoping/proofing team has time to take more jobs. Realistically, a reporter could write 4-5 days per week, earning the income from those additional jobs.

3. Quality of life. Reporters working alone typically devote 3-4 hours of editing for every hour that they write. With teamwork, the job can be completed in far less time. That means a significant increase in the amount of time available to each person who works on a job. A reporter no longer must assume his or her job may eat up the weekend as well as the week. A scopist no longer has to miss his or her kid’s soccer game or forgo dinner plans with the significant other because he or she has hundreds of pages to edit and return. Firm owners and office managers from firms will have less stress because the jobs they are responsible for getting to the client are available to them faster than ever before. Getting the job of transcripts edited and delivered faster means more time to enjoy life beyond work. Less stress means greater satisfaction with life and work, which in turn has positive effects on one’s health and happiness. RealTeam can be the ticket to all this!

LM | Do the changes appear on a client’s realtime screen immediately?

CL | To a client viewing a CARTView window – yes. To a client viewing via CaseViewNet Browser or iCVNet or CaseViewNet PC – yes, ifthe reporter has a CaseViewNet license and thus has access to the Rapid Refresh feature that ensures that editing changes display immediately. A client viewing output via some other viewer or the product of a reporter without a CaseViewNet license would not have the same capabilities.

CaseViewNet

James Kuta from Stenograph offered more details on CaseViewNet.

LM | What is CaseViewNet and who should use it?

JK | CaseViewNet is a software platform for the realtime delivery of text to clients. CaseViewNet is used by court reporters and captioners to provide the delivery of text to attorneys, judges, and CART customers in realtime. CaseViewNet is useful in any situation where a client wants to receive a realtime text feed from a court reporter or broadcast or CART captioner.

CaseViewNet is a software platform that allows for both local and remote delivery of text through a local area network or the internet. There are three CaseViewNet viewing software platforms available:

  • CaseViewNet for Windows is a fully featured viewing software that allows for both local and remote viewing. It has tools clients can use to mark, annotate, search, and create text reports.
  • CaseViewNet for iPad is a lighter-weight viewer that is available for the Apple iPad devices. It has tools clients can use to mark and search text.
  • CaseViewNet Browser Edition is a browser-based text viewer that is compatible with most any device that has internet capabilities. Text can be marked and searched.

LM | What are the three most important features of CaseViewNet?

JK | There are many, but if I had to choose, these are the three I’d pick:

  • CaseViewNet has a Rapid Refresh feature that updates the text on the CaseViewNet viewing software with all editing changes made by the court reporter or scoping team during the realtime connection.
  • CaseViewNet allows court reporters to wirelessly send realtime text to clients, both locally and remotely, either through a local area network or through an internet connection.
  • CaseViewNet allows attorneys and CART clients to search for text, connect late and still receive a full feed of all text from before they connected, and save a copy of the transcript (if court reporter allows) in common litigation software formats.

LM | Does a court reporter need additional equipment besides a writer and laptop to get started?

JK | It is possible a court reporter will need a WiFi router. It depends on their work environment. If the reporter works where there is already a WiFi router available for use or other means of internet connection, no addition equipment is needed.

LM | Is your product user-friendly from a client perspective?

JK | We believe it is. The CaseViewNet for Windows and CaseViewNet for iPad viewing software are free to download and use. The CaseViewNet Browser Edition software does not even require download or installation. The client simply goes to caseviewnet.com. Connecting to a realtime feed is as simple as clicking connect and then selecting the court reporter in the connect dialog, in the case of a local area connection. For a remote internet connection, a client will be provided with a “session code” by the court reporter.

LM | What if a client wants access to realtime but they’re in a different location? Will CaseViewNet be a viable option?

JK | Absolutely. CaseViewNet has remote connection capabilities through an internet connection.

LM | Can a court reporter using different CAT software utilize CaseViewNet?

JK | Yes. Court reporters using CAT software other than Case CATalyst can still use CaseViewNet. There are two connection types available to reporters on other CAT software: a wired connection using serial cables or a wireless connection using the internet.

Stenovate

I spoke to Lauren Lawrence about Stenovate, a work management tool featured at STARtech19.

LM | What is Stenovate, and who should use it?

LL | Stenovate is a business admin and collaborative work management tool designed for the transcript community, a/k/a court reporters, scopists, transcriptionists, and proofreaders. Currently, we all have our own business “system.” We’re savvy enough to piece everything together and produce accurate verbatim records, but it’s so much more work than it has to be.

I’ve talked to countless transcript gurus and asked how they organize their work, find help, communicate with their team, transfer files, invoice, pay, and get paid. I listen to their “system,” and then I repeat it back to them to make sure I understand. “So you’re telling me you…” xyz, xyz, xyz. When I’m done repeating it back, they proudly say, “You’ve got it! That’s what I do!” as if I’ve cracked their code. It shouldn’t be that difficult.

We’re building Stenovate to give everyone a better system — one system. By doing this, we remove inefficiencies that have been slowing us down. Getting everyone on the same page (pun intended) will be a game-changer for this community.

LM | What problem does your product solve for court reporters and scopists?

LL | There’s plenty of fancy tools for when we’re on the record. Stenovate is for everything off the record. It’s for when you go home and need to prioritize, communicate who’s covering what, transfer files around, track invoices, etc. I’ve always said attorneys don’t realize that time on the record is only half the job. There’s a whole backlog of things to do from home, and that’s where Stenovate solves problems.

LM | If productivity is the ultimate goal, how much time will I save?

LL | Since we’re a brand-new technology solution in a space that’s never had a platform like this before, it’s hard to give you statistics without a history, but we can give you some really solid data from “Driving Strategic and Operational Agility with Modern Work Management” featuring research from Forrester, one of the most influential research and advisory firms in the world.

The article explains that Collaborative Work Management (CWM) is a new way to organize, track, and manage work. It’s built to “encourage agility and clarity so everyone, regardless of their role, can successfully plan, manage, and deliver business-critical work.” The report claims that “companies that adopt a CWM solution” like Stenovate “realize significant positive impacts,” especially with increased productivity and improved cross-functional execution.

Even if you don’t have a bunch of employees and hold weekly meetings, you are running a business. Stenovate recognizes and respects your hustle. We’re really excited to be serving this incredible community, and we’re looking forward to saving you time, providing the opportunity to earn more, and helping grow your business.

LM | What tools that users currently use will be replaced with Stenovate?

LL | The right tool can give you the rocket fuel you need; however, a bundle of disconnected tools can hinder momentum. Here’s a list of what we’ve seen the community using to organize, communicate, transfer files, or create/track invoices:

Excel, Word, Google Calendar (or any calendar), Depobook, Trello, WhatsApp, Facebook (Messenger or Groups), LinkedIn, Scoof, Slack, Viber, We Transfer, Dropbox, Gmail (or any mail), Share File, PayPal, Freshbooks, Wave, Quickbooks, Reporter Suite, and/or Stenaura.

I’ll stop at 20. There are others, but I’m sure you can see why the current “system” can be a headache, especially if you’re collaborating with multiple people who use different tools.

LM | What’s the learning curve to use this software?

LL | We’ve worked with some amazing user-interface and user-experience designers to be sure that Stenovate is user-friendly for anyone, even those who are not “techie.” If you can use Facebook, you can use Stenovate.


Use social media to stay informed about NCRA

There are many ways to stay in touch with NCRA and our members.

First, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Stay on top of the latest NCRA news at theJCR.com. News is also sent out every Wednesday through the JCR Weekly email.

To make sure you see NCRA Facebook posts, check your notification settings. Click on the arrow in the top right-hand corner to bring down the drop-down menu. Choose News Feed Preferences. Next click on Prioritize who to see first. Click on NCRA to make sure our posts show up in your news feed.

Another option for interacting with others in court reporting, captioning, and legal videography is our Facebook groups. Members of the groups can post useful information or ask questions of their peers.

“There are so many avenues to gain our tech knowledge and advice these days,” said Lynette Mueller, RDR, CRR, of Germantown, Tenn., chair of NCRA’s Technology Committee. “Facebook is definitely one of the forums some court reporters go to as their first source. When choosing to utilize Facebook groups or pages, my go-to is Court Reporter Technology!”

NCRA offers these Facebook groups:

Legal Videographers – CLVS

Court Reporter Technology

NCRA’s Realtime Program

Scopists & Proofreaders – NCRA

Official Reporters – NCRA

CART Captioners – NCRA

Freelance Court Reporters – NCRA

Captioners – NCRA

“I would encourage and urge all our members and court reporter colleagues to make NCRA’s Court Reporter Technology Facebook group your first and ultimate resource to solve your technology questions,” Mueller said. 

It’s also possible to set your notifications for Facebook groups.

On the left-hand side of the Facebook page, click on Groups. To change the notification settings for a group, click on the asterisk next to the group name. That will bring up a menu of choices about how often you want to be notified about posts in the group.

“I can attest to the vast wealth of knowledge and technical expertise our Technology Committee members possess,” Mueller said. “Currently, the committee has several ongoing feature articles that are published periodically on all things technology and realtime: Ask the techie, TechLinks, and articles in TheJCR.com and the Journal of Court Reporting.

“Our Ask the Techie articles are generated from our member questions. The latest articles have concentrated on brief forms to help court reporters write short and have flawless realtime output. The Committee will tackle any of your questions and provide expert solutions and results for any technology or realtime situation! You may send the questions you want the Technology Committee members to tackle to jcrfeedback@ncra.org.”

Ask the techie: What are the benefits of using multiple monitors for court reporters?

The NCRA Technology Committee is taking your questions on topics surrounding realtime and technology. Send the questions you want the Technology Committee members to tackle to jcrfeedback@ncra.org.

Dear Techie:

I am always searching for new ideas and trying to be productive in my court reporting work so I can get my work out the door as quickly and efficiently as I can, so that I can go about my day and tend to my family and personal life. I’ve been contemplating the idea of using a second monitor, but I’m not sure the cost is worth the possible benefit. Some insight on whether I should move forward with my purchase would be helpful. Thanks! 

Tuckered from Texas

G. ALLEN SONNTAG, FAPR, RDR, CRR

Do you two screen? Should you?

I use two screens: One screen is for my CAT and what I’m working on, editing, and so on. The second screen, I keep e-mail, newspaper, Facebook, and bank account open. So it’s just click to do what I need to do.

Some people prefer Dell screens with a device that holds two of their screens on a single pedestal. There are cheaper brands on Amazon; for example, VIVO Dual LED LCD Monitor Free-standing Desk Stand. Others of us like two independent screens, as I do. I have two screens, each of them is 24 inches. You need desk space to do this, which I hope everybody has.

If you’re an overachiever, try three screens. Yeah, it’s possible. The limit on what you can do is the number of ports your computer can use to support screens. Check the screen resolution for your system. A quick Google will bring up the answers: 800 x 600 or 1600 X 1200, or even bigger. The difference is the size of the number of pixels on your screen. The bigger the numbers, the smaller the pixel, therefore, the smaller the text on your screen.

As we all get older, we need bigger letters… at least, I do. There is a function in Win 10 to allow you to increase the size of the resolution, i.e. the pixels, which makes the letters in text and menus larger. No, you don’t have to continue to squint to see the small letters!

So now that you’ve fixed the two screens and the text size, let’s move on. Most of us grew up with the full-size box, sitting on the floor. Now most use a notebook, where the screen gets smaller: It’s great that it’s lighter to carry around, but the text is smaller and the keyboard is puny, to say the least.

There are small units available with a lot of power; for example: Intel’s NUC, Next Unit of Computing. These have been available for quite a long time and do the job quite well, with more than enough ports for what you need. Try 5.5 inches by 8 or so inches, which will probably end up being approximately an inch thick. It contains multiple SSDs, hard drives, 16 or 32 megabytes of RAM, a fast processor, etc. 

Now put it all together, get that new, super-small computer, two or three screens, a mechanical keyboard, and you’ve got editing glory! Enjoy shopping!

Kelli Ann Willis, RPR, CRR:

Multitasking is a way of life for many of us. Your desktop can multitask, too. Multiple monitors enable the user to have two completely separate programs running, making it easy to glance back and forth between, say, your CAT software and your .pdf exhibit, which was read at lightning speed into the record.

It’s easy to set up! Here are instructions from WikiHow:

ProCAT launches new program to support A to Z students

Trade in your old writer for a new ProCAT Xpression, and the company will supply a writer to an NCRA A to ZTM Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program participant.

According to Deby Sebastian, national sales manager for ProCAT, which is based in Calabasas, Calif., the program was prompted by the number of phone calls the firm has been getting from interested participants in the A to Z program looking for machines to use. ProCAT has been a partner and providing machines to the A to Z program since it began.

“We have a waiting list for machines at all times it seems. This prompted our decision to do a push for people to trade their old writers in and upgrade to a newer model. When they do, we will donate the machines to NCRA for them to use for A to Z programs. We are hoping this will help with the shortage of machines and allow many more to embark on this exciting field of court reporting,” Sebastian says.

The program, which just launched, has already generated several responses, so the firm is hopeful the offer will prompt trade-ins.

“We literally just put this out but have had several responses, so hopefully it will start bringing in the writers. We will literally take any old writer. I had a brand-new student today who wanted to trade in a four-month-old student Blaze writer to help the program. I told her to wait a bit but thanked her for her heart that wanted to help,” Sebastian says.

“We attend so many conventions and see many reporters still using old writers. We really hope that everyone will reach out, help a student, and help themselves. The newer writers are so much easier on their hands, arms, and necks,” Sebastian added.

“NCRA appreciates ProCAT’s generosity in supporting students in the A to Z program by providing them access to machines,” says Cynthia Bruce Andrews, NCRA’s Senior Director of Education and Certification. “Learning on real steno machines gives students an even better experience when exploring the basics of steno to see if court reporting and captioning would be a good career choice for them.”

ProCAT is offering reporters a $1,300 trade-in value towards a new Xpression writer.

Setting the record straight on women in court reporting

On March 26, Law360 posted an article in honor of Women’s History Month authored by NCRA member Karen Santucci, CRI, chair of the court reporting program at Plaza College, Queens, N.Y., and vice president of the New York State Court Reporters Association, about the important roles women court reporters play in the American judicial system.

Read more.

Ask the techie: How to incorporate briefs for parentheticals

Dear Techie:

I am an aspiring realtimer and love to learn from more experienced and awesome realtime court reporters. My focus is on how to use briefs for parentheticals that explain to the attorneys what’s happening. I would love to have specific and easy-to-learn examples that I can incorporate into my dictionary.

Realtime Briefer

Dear Briefer:

Myrina A. Kleinschmidt, RMR, CRR, CRC, has some tips and briefs that you can start using today! She writes:

I like the briefs for parentheticals that explain to the attorneys what’s happening. It always distracts me when I see an attorney staring quizzically at my realtime feed. So writing a quick note releases my concern, and I can get back to focusing on the job. 

VAIR/VAIR – (Reporter Note: All quotes will be verified later.) I use this when I know I didn’t get quoted material accurately.

CLEAR/CLEAR – (<<<<Momentary transmission lapse. Stand by.<<<) I use similar wording to this when I really mess something up and I don’t want them to see it on my screen. The < are paragraphs so add as many as you need to clear the screen.

SPEL/SPEL – (Reporter Note: All spellings will be confirmed after the depo.)

SLOE/SLOE – (Reporter Note: Slow down, please, especially when reading from documents.)

BREAK/BREAK – (Reporter Note: Reporter would like a bathroom break when convenient.) Write this when you see an attorney is viewing the screen; usually then that attorney will interject and ask for a break for our reporter.

CLAIR/CLAIR – (Reporter clarification.) I use this when telling attorneys to speak one at a time, or whatever I am asking them for, because I cannot write myself talking. I may leave the parenthetical in for the final, or put in my actual words if I have the audio and feel it’s better to change the wording.

DRAFT/DRAFT – (Realtime Draft Transcript – Not for Official Use.) I add this throughout the day whenever I remember to do so. Good reminder to them that it’s just a draft. You can also use this when you know something didn’t translate correctly just as a reminder to them that it’s simply a draft.

Lisa Knight, FAPR, RDR, CRR, has some great options as well. Check them out!

Here are a couple of parentheticals I use almost every day when writing realtime.

SMAOT – <New Page><Parenthetical>ERROR CODE: ERROR #224, MAX SPEED INPUT EXCEEDED!! TEXT/STENO DROPPED TO COMMENT LINE – CHECK<New Line Paragraph><Colloquy>(Simultaneous crosstalk interrupted by the reporter.)<Colloquy>THE REPORTER: One at a time, counsel.

This automatically dashes the last speaker, clears the realtime screen (it helps get their attention), and then puts in the steno error code. Counsel don’t know that I’m the one that put the “error code” in the transcript, and I can stop them and blame the software for not being able to keep up with how fast I’m writing because of how fast they are talking. It’s great, and it works every time!

KLAOIF – <Parenthetical>(Reporter <Scanstop Begin>requested<Scanstop End> clarification.)<Answer>

I use this one when I am having to interrupt either the witness or the attorney to clarify what they are saying. I never stop to ask for a spelling, but if they are reading too fast (or mumbling) and I can’t understand what they are saying, I can’t write it down. I do not dig out of the audio for anything I may say on the record; I just use this parenthetical. And I have it surrounded by “scanstops” to alert me to this part of the transcript to review.

B*AM – <New Line Paragraph><New Line Paragraph><Colloquy> (***REMINDER <Scanstop Begin>FROM<Scanstop End> REPORTER: You are viewing a DRAFT transcript. Mistakes will be corrected in the FINAL certified transcript.)

I use this one when I know/feel like the words tranned funny (like Al Gore rhythm instead of algorithm) and I don’t have a chance to fix it quickly. All I have to do is write one quick word (B*AM) and this note populates into the transcript. That way, counsel know that I know of this issue – and to remind them it is not supposed to be a PERFECT transcript. It’s a DRAFT transcript.

Good luck on your journey and happy realtiming!