Eight productivity tools and habits for court reporters

By Lauren N. Lawrence

When it comes to productivity, what is the one thing we all have in common?  Each of us only has 24 hours in a day.

While this is obvious, it makes you wonder: How are some people so much more productive than others?

There is no “magic bullet” to higher productivity. Instead, the world’s most productive people set up systems to manage their time and attention.

Additionally, they use techie tools and/or a series of habits and practices to keep them on track.

There are plenty of distractions in today’s world. Try out these eight tools to boost your productivity, get more done, and grow your income.

Pomodoro timer

Want to focus without distractions?  That has to be a choice, but a Pomodoro timer can be wildly helpful at helping you focus in “sprints” of work.  It’s based on the famed Pomodoro technique. The idea is that you spend 25 minutes working, followed by a five-minute break. After 50 minutes, you take a 10-minute break, then start the cycle over.

If Pomodoro isn’t your style, try the 52-17 technique instead. The 52-17 technique is similar, except you work for 52 minutes and rest for 17 (an oddly specific number; but, hey, whatever works!)

The principle behind these timers is the same. They keep you focused on work while the timer is running and ensure you take sufficient breaks to stay energized throughout the day.

Both iOS and Android have apps, but even a classic kitchen timer would work!

Simple Blocker Chrome Extension

We all need a little help fighting off distractions (especially when scoping)! That’s why the Simple Blocker Chrome Extension is so valuable. Use it to block your biggest time-sucking websites, such as Facebook, Amazon, or your go-to news site.

Simple Blocker lets you set up a site-blocking schedule.  Keep sites blocked during your working hours and unblock them later.

Simple Blocker is only available for the Google Chrome web browser. There are similar tools for Safari, Explorer, Firefox, and other popular browsers.

A time tracker (different than Pomodoro timer)

How do you spend your time? It’s a deceptively simple question. The truth is, most of us don’t know.

Focus Booster is a time-tracking app that will help you figure out exactly where your time goes. People who start using a time tracker are often shocked how long certain tasks take or how much time they waste.

Before I started using Focus Booster, I assumed that I was scoping about 40 pages an hour. Turns out, I was scoping closer to 25 pages an hour.

That’s when I decided to start sending all my work to a scopist.  I couldn’t believe how much time I was spending on the “homework” when I could be taking another depo or spending those hours doing anything else — with my family, gardening, reading, exercising, cooking, you name it!

I like Focus Booster specifically because it comes with a built-in Pomodoro timer!  Two for one!

Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix is not a piece of software, but rather a simple habit framework.

The matrix helps you prioritize your time by differentiating important activities from urgent ones. The idea, according to President Eisenhower himself, is that important tasks are seldom urgent, and “urgent” tasks are seldom important.  (You might have to read that twice and let it soak in.)

With the Eisenhower Matrix, you can split your activities into four categories:

  1. Important and urgent
  2. Important but not urgent
  3. Urgent but not important (at least for you to do)
  4. Not urgent and not important

We spend the majority of our time on urgent tasks (or ones that feel urgent) – even if they aren’t important. The more time we can spend on “important but not urgent” tasks, the more progress we’ll make towards our goals.

You can learn more about the Eisenhower Matrix here

Unroll.me

Email inbox feeling cluttered?  Unroll.me is a nifty tool that helps you clear out unwanted subscriptions. Clean up your inbox — for good! — in just a few clicks.

Before discovering this tool, I was subscribed to 204 email newsletters. 204! I was getting more than 100 emails a day – most of which I deleted immediately.

Signing up for Unroll.me was easy (and free). It took me just five minutes to cut down my subscriptions from 204 to just 27. Now I only get about 15 emails a day. When it comes to emails, less is definitely more.

Any calendar’s “repeat” function for time blocking

As a busy reporter, it’s hard to be productive, especially without a solid plan in place. 

Most digital calendars have a “repeat” function that allows us to schedule recurring events. It’s proven that people who follow a routine are far more productive because their good habits are like clockwork.  Wake up early, exercise, eat breakfast, get ready, etc.

“Time-blocking” is a method of scheduling your entire day, in advance, and sticking to that plan! It helps you ensure you have time for your most important tasks — including personal activities like relaxing and spending time with family.

Trust me, it’s not as difficult as it sounds. The key is to start with a time blocking template, which Stenovate explains in their free eCourse: Time Management for Court Reporters.

Court reporter productivity calculator

The ultimate productivity “tool” for court reporters is not a tool at all.  If you really want to be more productive, outsource your scoping and proofing work.  I can’t emphasize this enough, especially because we always want a NCRA certified stenographer in the reporter chair. 

Scopists and proofreaders can save you hours, which has a direct impact on your annual income. Just ask Cassandra Caldarella, productivity queen and CEO of Cover Crow, Inc.

“The day I started using a freelance scopist … is the day I started to double my income,” she said.

But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself with the court reporter productivity calculator.

This calculator will show you just how much more you could be earning by working with freelancers — even after paying them market rates.

Stenovate

Last, but certainly not least, there’s a new tech platform on the block designed specifically for reporter productivity with scopist and proofreaders.

Stenovate replaces a lot of current tools you might be using to track job details and transfer files and communicate with your scopist and proofreaders.  (Adios, Dropbox, Facebook Messenger, Excel, email and texting!)

It’s a simple one-stop shop for transcript collaboration, which includes optional email notifications when your teammates add files, request spellings, update progress, and more.


Making delegation easy, it can free up time most reporters spend scoping and proofing, making reporters — (ahem, certified stenographers!) — available to cover more jobs which translates to saved time and increased income.

The platform even includes scoping and proofing job boards if you need to find new teammates (who already know how to and enjoy using Stenovate).  Stenovate also offers team plans if you want to bring the scopoist and proofreaders you already love working with. 

My scopist and proofreader are big fans because I add new jobs as soon as I accept the work from an agency, so they always know what’s coming down the pipeline in advance, helping them plan their work week.  It keeps us in sync, and we’re loving it!

Stenovate offers plenty of time to explore and see if it’s a good fit with their 30-day free trial.

Get more out of each day

Whether your goal is to earn more money or spend more time with family, boosting your productivity can have a huge impact on your life. With these tools and practices, you can build a system that helps you get more out of each day!

Lauren Lawrence, RPR, is a freelance reporter in Kansas City, Mo., and a member of the NCRA Technology Committee. Her email is laurenlawrence@outlook.com.

Tips for avoiding awkward videoconferencing malfunctions

An article posted by Law.com on Nov. 20 offers five tips for avoiding awkward video conferencing malfunctions in courts and depositions.

Read more.

Ask the techie: Deals, deals, deals!

The NCRA Technology Committee scoured the ads to find some great Black Friday deals on tech for court reporters, captioners, scopists, and legal videographers. Check them out and see if there’s a deal that you just can’t pass by.

Five deals you will want to check out

  1. Alan Peacock, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, of Mobile, Ala., said his deal is the Casper Pillow. “The Casper Pillow is my favorite pillow,” says Peacock. “Nothing helps you more with a good night’s sleep than a real soft pillow. My favorite is on sale… Normally $69 and for Black Friday only $59. I sleep on Caspar pillows every night, and I love their products.”
  2. Check out the Amazon.com sale on Apple Airpods Pro for less than $200. This came highly recommended by three separate committee members: Peacock, Lynette Mueller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a freelancer from Memphis, Tenn., and Kelli Ann Willis, RPR, CRR, CCR, an official court reporter in Texas
  3. The Varidesk Pro is being offered for $395, Debbie Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CLVS, CRC, an official in Dallas, Texas.
  4. If you don’t want a new desk, you can try the FEZIBO 37 inches Standing Desk Converter, which you can set on your desktop and holds two monitors. Kriegshauser said that her son has this model and “loves it!”
  5. Kreigshauser’s son also recommends the ComfiLife Anti Fatigue Floor Mat.

More ways to save on Black Friday

Denee Vadell, an official in Edison, N.J., and a member of the Technology Committee, noted that Steno Works has a Black Friday Sale. 

Vadell also pointed out that Target offers a price match guarantee from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24. As part of that program, Target will match select competitors’ prices within 14 days of the purchase, and get a price adjustment for any item advertised as a “Black Friday deal” at Target or Target.com, if it is offered for a lower price at the store or online. Target also will match its own prices on other purchases if they are found for a lower price within 14 days of a purchase.

A word about computers

When it comes to computers, everyone has preferences about the make, the size, and so on, so it was hard for the committee to offer suggestions. Peacock, for instance, recommended checking Best Buy for your favorite laptops. The big-box retailer is offering a number of different models at great prices; it’s good to check out the sales to find what works for you.

Agency owner Andrea Kreutz, CLVS, of Des Moines, Iowa, recommended doing the same with the Dell outlet online. Kreutz says her company looks through the refurbished computers, and she recently picked two Latitude 3410 laptops, a Dell Multi-Device Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Combo, and Dell Dock WD19 130W, saving about 30% on each. Kreutz noted the offer also includes no interest for 90 days.

Freelancer and agency owner Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, from Portland, Ore., said: “We love Dell, too. Those are the only computers we have in our office. Our IT guy also likes to shop the refurbished bins. We have found some great deals over the years. A quick search shows Dell has Black Friday deals on their refurbished units. My preference is the XPS models.”

The Dell outlet website lets you plug in your preferences for condition, model, touch screen. 

Finally, remember that NCRA offers year-round savings through partnerships with companies like Office Depot and Lenovo. (In fact, Peacock saved an additional $5 on a Lenovo deal by purchasing through NCRA’s partnership.) Visit the NCRA website for more information; you must be an NCRA member and log in to receive these deals.

(As an Amazon Associate, NCRA earns from qualifying purchases.)

How to make the most of your Black Friday shopping

By Lynette Mueller

With Black Friday happening this month, it’s a good time to think about what is on your wish list. Some deals have already begun!

This article from PCMag, one of my favorites tech resources, has some extremely useful tips for your holiday shopping game.

The ones that stand out to me from this article:

  1. Make a plan and a budget.
  2. Set deal alerts on Slickdeals and Amazon.
  3. Sign up for email newsletters from stores you are interested in.
  4. Try to find free shipping.

Speaking of free shipping, PCMag advises: “Don’t expect that this year, given the increase in online shipping as everyone remains stuck at home. Instead, anticipate a mix of free shipping incentives plus curbside pick-up for purchases made at major retailers (as applicable). We recommend signing up for newsletters now, so that you’ll get notified of any free shipping promotions between now and the end of December. You can unsubscribe after you’re done with your shopping.”

ShopRunner is an option for free two-day shipping that I’ve been using for several years. Shop at more than 100 stores in the ShopRunner network and look for their logo. Be sure to log into your ShopRunner account to take advantage of the free two-day shipping! Once you are signed in, you can choose ShopRunner as the shipping method of your order. Check this list for participating stores. Their membership price is typically $79/year; however, they do run free promotions with some of their partners. Here is a list of their membership options.

Membership Types

American Express

Eligible American Express account holders are entitled to a free lifetime membership courtesy of American Express! By enrolling with this benefit, you will not be charged at any time.

MasterCard

Eligible MasterCard account holders are entitled to a free one-year membership. At the end of the free one-year term, the account will simply expire, and you will not be charged or auto-enrolled.

PayPal

PayPal account holders are eligible for free one-year memberships. At the end of the free one-year term, the account will simply expire, and you will not be charged or auto-enrolled.

Yahoo

Yahoo account holders are eligible for free one-year memberships. At the end of the free one-year term, the account will simply expire, and you will not be charged or auto-enrolled.

Chase

Eligible Chase account holders are entitled to a free one-year membership. At the end of the free one-year term, the account will simply expire, and you will not be charged or auto-enrolled.

Promo

It is free to enroll in a promotional account on shoprunner.com. You will not be charged or auto-enrolled once your free promotional period has ended.

Spend-And-Get

Many retailers offer the option to enroll in a free membership at checkout, based on your spending amount. With Spend-and-Get accounts, you can meet the listed spending threshold simply by shopping at any of your favorite stores across the ShopRunner network. If the spending threshold is met within the first month, you will automatically receive a free one-year membership. Otherwise, the account will simply expire, and you won’t be charged or auto-enrolled.

*Trial memberships

A number of retailers in our network also offer free one-month trial memberships to ShopRunner. It is free to enroll; however at the end of the free one-month term, your account will automatically convert to a paid membership, and the credit card on file will be charged $79 annually.

Lynette L. Mueller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, is a freelance court reporter based in Memphis, Tenn., and a member of NCRA’s Technology Committee. She can be reached at lynette@omegareporting.com.

If you have a question for the Technology Committee, please send it to jcrfeedback@ncra.org.

Tips for more productive internet research

By Suzanne I. Trimble

Research on the internet can uncover a treasure trove of information that can save you time, which is money, and make your transcripts fantastically accurate. I’ve put together a few tips, many free of charge, that may be a refresher to some and a time saver to others to make research time more productive. Nothing is more frustrating to me than doing two hours of research on a 30-page transcript and still being unable to find that one spelling I’ve been looking for.

  • Google Scholar. Google Scholar can be particularly useful if you do any in-court reporting. Use Google Scholar when looking for case law, citations, quotes from a case, spellings of judges or attorneys, etc.
    • TIP: To narrow to the proper jurisdiction on the Google Scholar home page, select “Case law” underneath the Google Scholar search bar. Then underneath that select “Select courts.” This will bring you to a page to narrow the search to the proper jurisdiction. You can select any state or federal court on this page, so you are not searching through all the cases in America for the proverbial needle in a haystack. For example, if you’re looking for a case in Florida Federal Court, 11th Circuit, Middle District, scroll down on this page, look under the “Federal courts” column for “11th Circuit,” and check the box to the left of “MD Florida,” then on the bottom of the screen or top, click “Done,” which will take you to a Google Scholar search screen for the narrow search of that jurisdiction.
    • TIP: If you know the year or a range of years of the particular item you’re searching for, once you’ve typed in what you’re searching for on the search bar and hit enter or click on the search button, in the left column on the search results page, choose any of the “Since” options, or you can create a “Custom range.” Underneath that, if you select “Sort by relevance,” it will bring up the top searches by relevance. If you select “sort by date” it will bring up the newest case by date first.
    • TIP: All the Google search tips below work in Google Scholar.
  • Google search tips to customize searches
    • Use quotation marks for exact phrases. If you search for Dog Sweaters, the search engine will search for content that contains those two words in any order. However, if you search “Dog Sweaters,” it will search for that phrase exactly as you typed it. This can help locate specific information. (I love this tip for Google Scholar!)
    • Narrow the search. If you are searching for a word with an ambiguous meaning, for example caterpillar. If you’re searching for the insect caterpillar, references to the company Caterpillar, Inc., will also be returned. Use Caterpillar -Inc to exclude references to the company.
    • Fill in the blank. If you only know certain words in the phrase, place an asterisk in place of the words you don’t know. For example, Speedy trial * tolled. Google search will search for that phrase knowing that the asterisks can be any word or words.
    • Synonyms. To search for a word and its synonyms, type ~ and your word, no space – for example, ~phone will get results with phone and other closely related words
    • Glossaries. If you type the subject and then the word glossary on the search bar, such as FAA glossary, several glossaries can pop up — depending on the subject matter, of course. These are so helpful and can put meaning and context to a search of terms in uncharted territory.
  • LinkedIn. When looking for the spelling of someone’s name and you know the company they work for, LinkedIn is an awesome research tool.
    • TIP: In the search tool bar, type in the company you are looking for, for example Microsoft, then choose “Microsoft people” on the drop-down menu to find the employees that are on LinkedIn.
    • TIP: Looking for the name of a company? Type in the employee name in the search bar and the company will be linked to the employee in the drop-down menu.
  • Online court files. Many jurisdictions now have entire court files online with no cost to peruse the documents. This is a great source to find names, case citations, etc. Many of the documents in the court file will be searchable PDFs. I use this daily to research the cases I report. My realtime looks particularly fantastic when I know what’s going to be coming at me. Simply search for the county clerk’s office of the jurisdiction you are looking for. For example, a search for “Orange County Clerk” brings up “My Orange Clerk Home”; click on that and then scroll down to the “Court Record Search” link to access the online files. Some jurisdictions do still charge a fee to look at the documents in the electronic court file so this may not always be an option if you don’t want to pay a fee.
  • Phrontistery. The Phrontistery is an online dictionary for searching for spellings of obscure, weird, and unusual words in the English language. This is a great site to check out and explore.
  • Google Sheets. Don’t do research again on the same type of case you’ve done research on before looking for the same terms and benefit from colleagues working on the same or similar type of case. How? A few years ago, the court reporters in the courthouse I work in started creating Google Sheets for terms/names in specific cases, types of cases, agents, and officers. We share these Google Sheets with each other and sometimes scopists and proofreaders. This way each of us are contributing terms/names we’ve searched for as well as benefitting from the research that others do, and Google Sheets update realtime in the cloud as each person edits. For example, it is sometimes very difficult to find the spellings of the names of agents and officers, so we’ve created a page with the verified spellings of many of these names, or for a particular case more than one reporter is working on, we share a created case Google Sheet and each contribute to it.
    • Create a Google Sheet. To create a Google Sheet from the Gmail page, in the upper right-hand corner click the icon that looks like a square bunch of dots. Scroll down to “Sheets.” Click “Blank.”
    • Add others to Google Sheet. To add others to the Google Sheet, in the upper right-hand corner click “Share.” It will prompt you to name the sheet before sharing, and then you can either add the name of someone in your contacts or add the email of the person you want to add. This will send an email to the individual inviting them to the Google Sheet you’ve created, and then they are able to join you in editing the Google Sheet.
    • Google Sheets is also available via apps on other devices such as a smartphone; just go to your app store to download. The benefit to being able to access Google Sheets on another device is if you are in a situation where internet is not accessible on your laptop, your smartphone may be able to pull it up.

Suzanne I. Trimble, RPR, CRR, is an official court reporter based in Sanford, Fla., and a member of NCRA’s Technology Committee. If you have a question for the Tech Committee, please send it to jcrfeedback@ncra.org.

Ask the Techie: Can webcams be hacked?

By Teresa Russ

If you were around in 1984, you probably remember a song entitled, Somebody’s Watching You by Rockwell featuring Michael Jackson. Back then I felt that song to be a little creepy even though it was fun to dance to.

The answer is yes, according to Norton, the antivirus software company, and an article published by USA Today, Feb. 15, 2020. In Nine Simple Webcam Security Tips to Deter Hackers, written by Kyle Chivers, a NortonLifeLock employee, Norton offered the following suggestions:

  1. Keep your software up to date. I know that it might seem like a nuisance, but it’s important because this helps patch vulnerabilities in your software.
  2. Use a firewall to lock down your network.
  3. Secure your WiFi, and do not use easy passwords. It’s a good idea to enable WiFi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) as an added layer of protection.
  4. Avoid all suspicious links.
  5. Don’t chat with strangers online. Remember when you were little and your mother told you not to talk to strangers? That applies to online activities as well.
  6. Cover or unplug your webcam. If your indicator light is on and you did not turn it on, there is a chance your webcam has been hacked. Hackers can sometimes disable the light, still allowing them to spy on you. Webcam covers can be purchased on Amazon from $2 to $9, depending on the type you choose. You can decide which is best for you by going to https://spy.com/articles/gadgets/video-media/best-webcam-covers-238966/.

Cimkiz covers

BLOCKED (A total of 57 reusable webcam stickers)

Dcreate

Animal Camera Dots

SpiShutter Slim

Funsylab Pacman

Bungajungle Wood

C-Slide (Pack of 6)

Eye Webcam Cover Slider

Anti-Spy

Imluckies

12. Get a virtual private network (VPN)

13. Use trusted tech support

14. Install and run security software on your devices

If the camera covers are too much, you can always go low-tech and, on your next trip to the Dollar Tree or 99 Cents Only Store, pick up some tape. Yes, that same USA Today article noted that both former FBI Director James Comey and Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg use tape to cover their webcams.

 Teresa Russ, CRI, is a freelance CART captioner and court reporter based in Bellflower, Calif., and a member of NCRA’s Technology Committee.

If you have a question for the Technology Committee, please send it to jcrfeedback@ncra.org.

(As an Amazon Associate, NCRA earns from qualifying purchases.)

Zoom depositions and court reporters: Seven lessons we’ve learned since March

By Lynette Mueller

Your NCRA Board of Directors and Technology Committee were hard at work at the beginning of this 2020 COVID-19 pandemic by creating and presenting webinars and content for our members regarding remote depositions and best practices. Speaking as a member of the Tech Committee, we felt strongly that information, resources, and tools needed to be dispensed quickly to the membership to get court reporters up to speed with our changing environment and our “new normal.”

Here’s a list of some of the articles written about remote depositions that are still relevant today:

Streamtext and Zoom

Basic Zoom Tips, Tricks and Advice

Five tips for looking great in remote depositions

How to optimize internet connections for remote depositions

Handling of exhibits for remote depositions

What states allow remote and/or online notarization?

Conducting meetings and depositions by remote means

Office setups and remote preparation part of downtime

Ask the Techie: Do you need a new chair?

COVID-19: Looking back through the lens

Learning is knowledge, and knowledge is power! To that end, I use several different tools to keep abreast of changes in technology so that I may know how to troubleshoot different scenarios I’m faced with as I report each new Zoom proceeding.

  1. Set up Google Alerts: This is such an easy thing to do! Google Alerts is a content change detection and notification service. The service sends emails to the user when it finds new results that match the user’s search term. Start your first Google Alert now. (Find instructions here.)
  2. Follow industry leader blogs: There’s so much great content put out by some great court reporters! Do a Google search to find the reporting blogs of your choice and sign up to receive new content sent directly to your inbox. In the alternative, you can use a handy app I recommend called Feedly to have all the information in one central location. It compiles news feeds from a variety of online sources for the user to customize and share with others. There’s an iOS, Android, and web-based application. Learn more about Feedly now.
  3. Sign up for Facebook and Twitter: Yes, social media, believe it or not, is a great resource to gain valuable information and knowledge to keep up on best practices for Zoom proceedings. As for Twitter, again, follow the industry leaders to gain their insights. With Facebook, some people may have a love/hate relationship. If you choose to use it for business and court reporting knowledge, some of the Facebook groups can be so helpful! My top Facebook groups that are welcoming, positive, and supportive are: Court Reporter Helpline, Court Reporters and Zoom learn and share, and Court Reporter Technology (NCRA). When you see a Facebook post that may be useful and you wish to read it later, use the save function. To save a post: Click in the top right of the post. Select Save Post, Save Event, Save Link, or Save Video. You may create your own category/folder of your choice. My folder is named Zooming! This is an easy way to go back later if you encounter a similar issue as a fellow colleague.
  4. Finally, become a member of NCRA and take advantage of all the technology articles posted on TheJCR.com by the Tech Committee! You may add TheJCR.com to the Feedly app as well to find everything at a glance and at your fingertips. Remember that the JCR is a premier resource as well. I’ve been a continuous member of NCRA for many years and can’t imagine not having the support and resources the Association provides daily.

Next, let’s talk about seven lessons we’ve learned and/or tips for your next Zoom proceeding. While I haven’t personally experienced each of the following issues in Zoom, these questions and the answers are quite timely and may assist you with perfecting your remote deposition setup.

Scenario #1:

Q. When using a cellphone as primary output for Zoom because the laptop connection is not solid and the court reporter has external speakers, what should the court reporter do when reporting a long proceeding and the cellphone needs to be charging?

A. Use your cellphone cable and plug into your laptop or use a wireless charger.

Scenario #2:

Q. How does one mute a microphone using keyboard shortcuts?

A. Try following these instructions from bouncegeek.

Scenario #3:

Q. Does Zoom have a noise-cancellation feature?

A. Yes! This link through Zoom will provide information to get started.

Scenario #4:

Q. What can a court reporter do to prevent a situation when the power goes off and Zoom kicks you off the deposition?

A. Purchase a Battery Backup & Surge Protector for your router and your laptop. There are lots of great options available at an affordable price. Lifewire has a list of their nine best picks for 2020.

Scenario #5:

Q. What can a court reporter do to add an extra layer of security to prevent Zoom bombing?

A. When you are the host and all participants are admitted, announce that you are locking the Zoom meeting to prevent anyone else entering the meeting. Remember to lock the meeting! In the event a participant gets kicked out of the meeting, stop the proceedings, alert the attorneys, and unlock the meeting so that that person may be readmitted by you. Once that errant participant is readmitted to the meeting, lock it down again.

Here’s additional information from the Zoom Help Center: “The Security icon in the meeting controls allows the host or co-host of a meeting to enable or disable options during a meeting to secure the meeting and minimize disruption during the meeting. Most of the settings can be controlled from Account, Group, and User settings prior to the meeting. If applied at the Account, Group, or User level, these settings will be applied in meeting by default. The Security icon combines them all in one place for easy access during the meeting.”

When you’re in the meeting, click Participants at the bottom of your Zoom window. In the participants pop-up box, you will see a button that says Lock Meeting. Click on Lock Meeting, and you’re ready to go!

Scenario #6:

Q. May I use a dual-monitor setup during a Zoom deposition, so that the participants are on one screen and the exhibits are on the other screen?

A. Yes. The dual-monitor display feature allows the video layout and screen share content to be placed on two separate monitors/screens. Gallery or speaker view can be displayed on one monitor while the other monitor displays a content share. Click this link for specific instructions on dual-monitor setup for a Mac and a PC.

Scenario #7:

Q. How does one set up a “hybrid” deposition when a remote attorney client asks the court reporter (as the host) to ensure all counsel, the witness, and the court reporter have a device in the conference room and on camera so as not to encounter audio feedback and/or echoing?

A. This is my personal setup for the above “hybrid” deposition scenario.

* Create and email the Zoom invitation to all participants

* Arrive 45 minutes early to the deposition location to allow enough time to effectuate all steps to ensure no audio feedback during the proceedings.

* Set up Zoom laptop for the witness and log in as the host.

* Rename the Zoom box reflecting the witness name and add the word “witness” behind the proper name.

* Mute the witness’s Zoom laptop. Additionally, click the audio tab at the bottom of the Zoom window and select leave computer audio.

* Set up an iPad, iPhone, or other tablet device as the court reporter Zoom screen.

* Click on the Zoom link to join the meeting on the court reporter Zoom screen.

* Mute the court reporter device. Additionally, click the audio tab and select leave computer audio.

* Rename your court reporter window to reflect your name and then the word “Court Reporter” or “Stenographer” behind your name.

* Use a Polycom or speakerphone and dial in using one of the telephone  numbers provided in the Zoom invitation.

* Then, go to the witness zoom laptop where you initiated the meeting. Go to the participant box for the telephone number and rename it to something like Conference Room Audio. That way, all counsel know who is in the meeting.

* When other counsel arrive, instruct them to log into the Zoom meeting,  mute their device, click the audio tab, and select leave computer audio.

So, there you have seven lessons we’ve learned about Zoom depositions since the pandemic hit early this spring. Attorneys look to us sometimes to be their personal resource for these remote depositions — and that’s okay. This is our opportunity to shine and show the extra value we provide to them with our technological savviness! As the guardians of the record, we court reporters provide an extremely valuable service to the legal community not only with our stenographic skills but also by paving the way for our clients so that they can keep on fighting and working for their clients. The wheels of justice can keep turning because of how resilient court reporters are, rising to each challenge the legal community has faced, and searching and finding truly great solutions these past several months.

Look for another series of lessons learned coming soon. The Tech Committee is working hard and has so much more to share with you!

Lynette L. Mueller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, is a freelance court reporter based in Memphis, Tenn., and a member of NCRA’s Technology Committee.

If you have a question for the Technology Committee, please send it to jcrfeedback@ncra.org.

Be cybersmart during Cybersecurity Awareness Month – and always

By John York

Everyone is a target in today’s adversarial paradise: the internet. I do mean literally everyone. Threat actors do not discriminate when choosing targets today. The proverb “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” which dates as far back as the 17th century, couldn’t be closer to the truth in the cyber realm.

October is a busy month for practitioners in information security to share and emphasize best practices in being safer and more secure online. In its 17th year, the National Cybersecurity Awareness Month continues with this year’s theme as “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.” I encourage everyone to take a little time to review the Tip Sheets on that link.

We must realize and understand that we are the biggest weakness in security: It is the human element that is easiest to manipulate. The tools, tactics, and technology have evolved to social-engineer even the best of us! Threat adversaries will go to great lengths to apply social engineering techniques to exploit information in support of malicious activity. Social engineering can take on many forms. Although we most commonly associate this with email, it can also be a combination of text messages, phone calls, social media posts, or hyperlinks within emails or on a compromised website.

I often encounter people who question whether they offer any real tangible value to a cyber threat actor. Put simply, why should they care? Despite whether you’re an organization or reflecting on your own personal footprint, there are people who can profit from you. Not all risks are tied to a physical asset or monetary value, as we often lose sight of the repercussions that this has to our identity, our reputation, and our trust. Rebuilding from a cyberattack is a daunting task that can inadvertently affect those around us.

Ask yourself, what are some things that hold value to you, your family, or your career? You owe it to yourself to understand what your risks are and how you can protect yourself.

This month’s tips from the National Cybersecurity Awareness Month campaign can help you at work and at home to improve your security footprint in today’s connected world!

John York, SSCP, is a cybersecurity professional, who is active in the infosec community. Last year for Cybersecurity Awareness Month, he spoke and held a training event at a conference in Washington, D.C. He also held an all-day training event in Iowa at the SecureIowa Conference. York is also a member of the local InfraGard chapter, a private alliance between the private sector and the FBI. He is also a member of the local Information Systems Security Association (ISSA).

U.S. Legal Support explores remote deposition best practices with top litigators

In a press release issued Oct. 1, U.S. Legal Support, based in Houston, Texas, announced that the firm recently hosted a live panel webinar featuring top litigators, who shared how they have been able to successfully prepare for and conduct remote depositions, addressed common questions and provided strategic tips and insight to the audience filled with hundreds of litigators nationwide.

Read more.

Best practices for presenting exhibits in a remote deposition

Law360 posted an article on Oct. 1 offering best practice tips for presenting exhibit in a remote deposition.

Read more.