TechLinks: Improving your dual-monitor setup

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.

Last spring, the Tech Committee answered Tuckered from Texas’s question about the benefits of using multiple monitors for court reporters.

As a follow-up to that question, the committee wanted to share another topic related to the dual-monitor question of:  What are some ways to improve your dual-monitor setup?

Lynette Mueller, the Tech Committee Chair, loves following PC Mag as her go-to resource for technology-related tips and tricks. She found this article from PC Mag regarding how to improve your dual-monitor setup.

Some of the key points in the article are:

  1. Make the displays match
  2. Tweak your taskbar
  3. Seek out super-wide wallpapers
  4. Study your shortcuts
  5. The wandering cursor
  6. Do even more with Display Fusion

Of course, court reporters love their macros and shortcuts; right? The best key shortcuts from this article:

  •             Win+Left and Win+Right: Snap the active window to the left or right side of the current monitor. You can press the keys again to move it between monitors or snap it back to its original location.
  •             Win+Up and Win+Down: Maximize or minimize the current window. If the window is currently snapped, this will also resize the window from its snapped position.
  •             Shift+Win+Left and Shift+Win+Right: Move the active window to the next monitor, without snapping it to the edge.
  •             Shift+Win+Up: Maximize the window vertically—particularly useful if you don’t have a taskbar on your secondary display.
  •             Win+Home: Minimize all windows except the one you’re working on, to banish distractions. You can press it again to bring all the windows back.

Stay productive, court reporters!

Corporate deposition — multiple witnesses at the same time?

A blog posted by JD Supra on Sept. 30 offers tips on taking a corporate deposition that includes multiple witnesses at the same time.

Read more.

Caution for court reporters – the danger of frayed cords

A blog posted by Kramm Court Reporting on Sept. 13 outlines the fire dangers from frayed cords.

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Ask the Techie: Transcript Formatting

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’m always trying to learn new, faster, and shorter ways to get my transcripts out the door. Embracing realtime is a priority for me, as I know that will be one of the biggest timesavers, and I’m doing great with utilizing lots of brief forms. Writing short!

Anyway, the next hurdle to conquer is getting as much formatting incorporated into my writing at the time of the job; for example, the setup of the examinations and so forth.

Can you give me a boost to get my dictionary jump-started with those type of brief forms?

Jumping Into Realtime

Dear Jumping,

Congratulations on your journey with realtime!

Kevin Hunt, a member of the Tech Committee, has the following advice and brief forms to get you jump-started to a more perfect transcript at the time of your job.

Single Strokes for designations:

/STPHAO-BGS for EXAMINATION blurb and the Q., similarly:

/SKWRAO-BGS

/KP-EUFPLT

KP-EURBGS

Also for Court/Hearing/Arbitrations:

/TKREBGT (Direct)

/TKR*EBGT(Redirect)

/TPR*EBGT (FurtherRedirect)

/KROS (Cross)

/KRO*S (Recross)

/TPRO*S (FurtherRecross)

And then paired with a speaker designation:

/TKREBGT/STPHAO generates the DIRECT EXAMINATION BY SPEAKER 01: AND the following Q.

Finally, when more than four speakers, the base designation plus alliteration of speaker’s name.

Mr. McCarthy = /STPHAO-PL

Mr. Peterson = SKWRAO-P, etc., on both sides …

TechLinks: Standing desks – Are they right for court reporters?

By Lynette Mueller

Court reporters are always looking for ways to be more productive on the job and at the desk when completing their transcripts. Recently, I shared a link of the best standing desks of 2019 on my Facebook business page and received some great feedback and sharing from it! As the chair of the Technology Committee, I thought our members would love to learn more about the benefits of using a standing desk, as well as some top picks to choose from. 

According to healthline.com: “A standing desk, also called a stand-up desk, is basically a desk that allows you to stand up comfortably while working. Many modern versions are adjustable, so that you can change the height of the desk and alternate between sitting and standing.”

Several peer-reviewed studies suggest that sitting for prolonged periods of time may reduce life expectancy. There is much speculation and not much good data at this time to suggest that using a standing desk will combat the ill effects of sitting. While there is nothing to prove a good outcome from using a standing desk, there may be some benefits for court reporters.

Healthline.com also mentions these benefits when using a standing desk:

  • Lowers your risk of weight gain and obesity
  • May lower blood sugar levels
  • May lower your risk of heart disease
  • Appears to reduce back pain
  • Helps improve mood and energy levels
  • May even boost productivity
  • May help you live longer

If court reporters do decide to make the plunge and purchase a standing desk, they should keep in mind that standing desks may also have some “side effects.” Some of the reporters’ comments on my Facebook post had a few suggestions to help with the transition.

  • Purchase an anti-fatigue mat for your desk
  • Purchase a drafting chair so that you can move freely from standing to sitting

Wirecutter.com writes about these suggestions for the best anti-fatigue mats. The posters on my shared Facebook link specifically mentioned the FlexiSpot and Varidesk as their personal favorites. According to the Wirecutter article: “The Varidesk ProDesk 60 Electric is more stable in each direction than the Uplift or Jarvis, and a little bit quieter than those desks in raising and lowering (minus an occasional thudding sound when starting). It also comes with built-in cable management and was the easiest desk we’ve ever built. But it has no wood or bamboo desktop options, just five colors of laminate, which our testers disliked.”

Ready to consider getting a standing desk? Wirecutter.com also offered their picks for the best standing desks of 2019. Forbes.com also published an article with their best standing desk picks. Those are two great places to start your research.

Lynette Mueller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, is chair of NCRA’s Technology Committee. She can be reached at lynette@omegareporting.com.

Ask the Techie: iPads and realtime setup

Dear Techie:

I’m taking the plunge and am going to offer realtime to some select clients — not just for myself. My realtime setup will include iPads for the attorneys to view the transcript. I will be using an iPad that I use for personal use as well. What tips can the Tech Committee provide to ensure that my data on my personal device won’t be accessed by a client?

Thanks!

Realtime Adventurer

Dear Adventurer:

Alan Peacock, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, of Mobile, Ala., and a member of NCRA’s Technology Committee, has the following settings recommendations to use when setting up a new iPad that will be used for a court reporter’s realtime setup.

  • Bluetooth: Off
  • Do Not Disturb: On
  • Display & Brightness: Auto Lock = Never; Auto Brightness = Off
  • Sounds: None for All
  • Messages: Off
  • Passcode: Off
  • iCloud (Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, etc.): Off
  • iTunes and App Store: Auto Download for Apps and Updates
  • Mail/Accounts/Fetch New Data: Off

Lynette Mueller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, of Memphis, Tenn., and chair of NCRA’s Technology Committee, has a few more recommendations for the iPad when writing realtime for attorneys.

  • Turn off keyboard clicks
  • Turn off Siri
  • Turn off Automatic Updates and Software Updates
  • Disable Auto Lock
  • Use Guided Access: Guided Access limits your device to a single app and lets you control which features are available.

Set Up Guided Access

  1. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access.
  2. Turn on Guided Access.
  3. Tap Passcode Settings, then tap Set Guided Access Passcode.
  4. Enter a passcode, then reenter it. From here, you can also turn on Face ID or Touch ID as a way to end a Guided Access session.

Court stenographers: Are they on their way out?

The Claremont Port Side posted an editorial on June 22 that examines whether improving technology will replace live court reporters. The article concludes: “Technology at present, while useful, is still widely unreliable, and inaccuracies can be detrimental to any court proceeding.”

Read more.

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