TechLinks: Best gadgets of 2017

Who doesn’t love finding that perfect gadget that makes things so much easier? Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a freelancer from Portland, Ore., and a member of the NCRA Technology Committee, has a few suggestions from around the Web for monitor mounts, audio recording, webcams, surge protectors, and apps.

“I love my dual monitors,” says Nodland. “I have one landscape orientation and one portrait. I can edit and have exhibits up at the same time.” A monitor mount will help keep screens organized and at an ergonomic eye level. This guide by How-To Geek will help you figure out how to pick the right monitor mount for your setup.

“Every now and then, we need a solution for rerecording audio for a number of reasons,” says Nodland. She recommends another article by How-To Geek about recording sound coming from your PC. The article has three solutions, two of which use software solutions and one “relies on an old trick that connects your computer’s audio output to its audio input with an audio cable.”

“We’ve noticed a pattern after years of notebook testing: Built-in webcams generally stink,” says Andrew E. Freedman in an article for Laptop Mag reviewing the best webcams. Use a webcam for an upcoming NCRA Skills Test, a webconferenced deposition, or as a way to talk to remote clients.

“I am very protective of my surge protector,” says Nodland, and anyone who has suddenly lost power just before saving a file can relate. This article by Wirecutter reviews a surge protector with a fail-proof method of letting you know when it’s time to replace it.

And finally, to cover all your bases, Wirecutter has the best tech and apps for your home office. “You don’t need the thinnest, lightest, or most elegantly designed items for your home office,” says the Wirecutter team. “In the space you make your living, you want reliable, comfortable, efficient tools — though it doesn’t hurt if they look nice, too.” The review includes storage and backup solutions, laptops and phone docks, routers and modems, productivity and finance apps, and more.

TechLinks: The 21st century reporter, part 2

TechLinks_logoOn behalf of the NCRA Technology Committee, Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, recently shared a series of links with information to help the 21st-century reporter or captioner. This second installment covers cloud backup, password management, and efficient internet searches.

In a July 21 article on How-To Geek, Cameron Summerson talks about how to use Google’s Backup and Sync tool to automatically backup information — including documents, photos, and videos — onto Google Drive. Summerson talks a bit about what this tool is and how it works, and then goes step by step through the process of setting it up. The Backup and Sync tool works on both PCs and Macs, and it allows the user to sync either an entire computer drive or only specific folders.

In a July 21 article for PC Mag, Michael Ansaldo presents the best password managers of 2017. Ansaldo talks about what a password manager does, why it’s important, and how PC Mag chose the best overall and the runner up. The article includes links to reviews for all of the password managers that PC Mag considered.

In a July 18 reprint on SlawTips (the original ran on the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library’s Legal Sourcery Blog), Alan Kilpatrick offers some tips on using Google Search for efficiently. Kilpatrick focuses on using specific search terms and then using the different search operators and filters — including combining them — to “craft powerful queries and locate good results.” The article ends with a few reminders about evaluating search results for authenticity, etc.

Read “TechLinks: The 21st century reporter, part 1.”

TechLinks: The 21st century reporter, part 1

TechLinks_logoOn behalf of the NCRA Technology Committee, Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, recently shared a series of links with information to help the 21st-century reporter or captioner. This first installment covers ethics and cybersecurity, a tech gadget, and a data-storage solution.

In the July 2017 GPSolo eReport for the American Bar Association (ABA), lawyers Al Harrison and Joseph Jacobson talk about what ransomware is, how it can affect your computer, and how to deal with it ethically. “Often portrayed as attacking an operating system such as Windows or Mac OS, ransomware is, unfortunately, more sophisticated and more destructive than you may perceive from a cursory review of reported invasive malware events,” Harrison and Jacobson say. This is the first in a series on cloud computing and ethics. GPSolo is the solo, small firm, and general practice division of the ABA.

In a July 20 post for PCMag, William Harrel reviews the Xerox Duplex Travel Scanner. “There are some other much more sophisticated portable document scanners out there, such as the $300 Epson WorkForce ES-300W Portable Wireless Duplex Document Scanner, but if all you need is to scan relatively short documents to your laptop on the road, the Duplex Travel Scanner is a terrific alternative to the RoadWarrior X3—especially if those documents are two-sided,” says Harrel.

A July 17 post on How-To Geek by Jason Fitzpatrick discusses how to set up a Synology Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. “A NAS, simply put, is a computer optimized for data storage, often with additional functionality layered on top,” explains Fitzpatrick. In the post, Fitzpatrick goes through the physical setup – including hard-drive selection, how to add the drives, and where to put a NAS – how to configure the NAS, and how to use the DiskStation Manager (with screenshots!).

Read “TechLinks: The 21st century reporter, part 2.”

TechLinks: Helpful products

TechLinks_logoRecently, the NCRA Technology Committee has shared a few products that can help with work tasks. The products include a password management system, an education technology tool, a messaging app, and an audio solution.

Nancy Bistany, RPR, shared a blog post by Dashlane on the worldwide password problem: internet users’ tendency toward “using the same, easy-to-remember password on all of their accounts over the security of using strong, unique passwords on all of their accounts.” Dashlane is a password manager that can also manage other security-sensitive information, like IDs and credit card numbers. “I use Dashlane for my Level 1 Password user,” says Bistany. “Their reminders are great.”

Bistany also shared an article from Forbes reviewing Learning Tools for OneNote. Microsoft OneNote is a now well-known note-keeping program, and Learning Tools is an ancillary product. According to the article, “Learning Tools for OneNote was originally created for dyslexics … [that leverages] a variety of already existing Microsoft technologies like Bing’s speech recognition, simultaneous audio text playback, and natural language processing … to make reading and writing more accessible to all students.” One of its features is fluent fonts, which allows “readers to adjust both the letter spacing and the number of words on the line.”

Teresa Russ, CRI, shared a link on the messaging app Slack. According to the company, it’s “oriented toward small-team collaboration” and has both a free and premium version. Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC, explained, “I use Slack to talk to a captioning team that we do a lot of events together with. All or most of the tech companies use Slack to communicate. It has awesome searching capabilities, and you can tag someone in the conversation to bring it to their attention.” Frazier added that he has his own name set as a tag so he gets an alert when the conversation involves him.

Finally, Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, shared a review of Trint, an audio and transcription app. Nodland pointed out a quote from the article that explains that Trint makes “it easy to compare the audio clips to the transcript as you’re verifying and editing it.”

TechLinks: Laptop recommendations

TechLinks_logoThe Technology Committee recently shared a March 10 article from Redmond Magazine entitled “3 Roadworthy Windows 10 Laptops.” The article included the Dell XPS 15, the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga X1, and the HP EliteBook 1040 G3.

This post prompted a discussion by the committee when one member, who uses Eclipse, asked for personal recommendations for a replacement laptop. Two committee members chimed in that they use the Surface Pro – Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, who is on Eclipse, uses the Pro 3, and Dianne Cromwell, RPR, who is on Case Catalyst, uses Pro 4 because she “missed the larger screen during trials and dailies.”


TechLinks_logoBy Christine Phipps

iRecord is one of my favorite apps. I use it to record audio in short proceedings. In the past few months, I have become very fond of using my phone to make a .wav file of short proceedings where I don’t set up my realtime.

In Florida, court reporters are frequently asked to do motion calendar. These are hearing calendars where there can be 15 cases called within a 45-minute calendar, so imagine lawyers trying to present their motion and supporting case law within five minutes, it’s not a pretty picture.

I have an iPhone, so I use the app called iRecord. When the hearing starts, I press Record, and the sound file it creates all on its own is amazing — better than my CAT software and better than my writer. Emails and texts coming in do not interfere with the recording. When I am done, I stop recording. I then press the blue arrow to the right and tell it to email me the file. When I get the file, I save it to match my CAT file name, but add on an underscore _iPhone so I know where it came from and what it goes to. If I need to transcribe the file, I place the .wav file in ExpressScribe and transcribe away.

Christine Phipps, RPR, of West Palm Beach, Fla., is co-chair of NCRA’s Technology Committee. She can be reached at

TechLinks: ABA’s take on e-signatures, best USB hubs, and what to do if you’ve been hacked

TechLinks_logoThe NCRA’s Technology Committee’s email list noted a few online articles that offered advice on e-signatures, USB Hubs, and what to do if you’ve been hacked.

On the American Bar Association site, Peggy Gruenke from LegalBizSuccess reassures readers that apart from being faster and more environmentally friendly, e-signatures are legally binding as per the U.S. Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (and state laws have often followed suit) and there are built-in securities to ensure user, document, and process authentication. Gruenke also suggests a few e-signature programs. Read more.

A post on The Wirecutter reviews USB 3.0 hubs, claiming the HooToo HT-UH010 seven-port hub as the best. The thorough post also covers the best users for the hub, the team’s metrics for choosing a hub, how they tested it, and why they didn’t choose some of the competitors. Read more.

A post by Bonnie Cha on Re/code discusses tips to prevent getting hacked, including using unique passwords for each account and using two-factor authentication whenever possible. The post suggests a few apps that can help generate and track passwords. Cha offers more specific tips for email and social accounts, cloud accounts, online transactions, and Web browsing. She then discusses signs of being hacked and what to do next, starting with resetting passwords and reporting the hack to your contacts and the sites in question. Read more.

A secure connection for court reporters

The JCR provides newsworthy information on reporter-related products and technologies. This column is for readers to use in their research; neither NCRA nor the JCR endorse or critically review these products and services in any way. Statements of fact or opinion are the author’s unless they are specifically identified as NCRA policy.


Product:  MediaShair Wireless Media Hub w/SD card slot & USB port plus built-in power station

Manufacturer:  MediaShair Hub

Compatibility:  iPads, iPhones, Androids (via apps), and Windows 7, 8 (Windows Surface Pro).  Compatible with all CAT software.  Your CAT computer must have wireless or Ethernet capability.

Price:  $53 – $99.  Amazon has reduced pricing at $53 (as of Dec. 18, 2013)

Court and deposition functionality:  Share your exhibits and transcripts via your thumb drive or flash card with your clients.  The MediaShair Hub creates an off-line access point for your clients in court or depositions to access the relevant documents in the case, including videos.

Additional functionality:  If you are sending your realtime feed via a network, such as CaseViewNet and iCVN, the MediaShair Hub functions as your realtime router.  (Note: I have only tested this with Stenograph products, iCVN.)

Comments:  In an environment where Internet is not reliable or security is an issue, this product creates an off-line (non-cloud) environment for the litigator to access their relevant material during trial and deposition.  This product provides the technology necessary for the firm owner and the official court reporter to manage exhibits and transcripts for their client in a local environment.

Marketing Opportunities:  Scanning exhibits and uploading those exhibits transcripts to the MediaShair Hub via a thumb drive allows counsel and the Court to access documents in a paperless environment.  Witnesses also have access to exhibits during deposition and trial via their computer, iPad, or other media, supplied by you, the firm, and/or reporter.  Security in litigation is an issue.  This off-line network provides security for those cases where online access to documents may be mandated.

Rating:  Highly recommended is my personal rating when your reporting environment mandates a LAN or a secure environment off-line to access to relevant case documents.

For details about this product, visit here.


Sandy Bunch VanderPol, RMR, CRR, is a freelance reporter in Lotus, Calif., and a member of NCRA’s Technology Review Committee.

Product review: connection magic

As I was working as a reporter for a new trial recently, I had a scopist reviewing my realtime through Connection Magic. After I gave her the file name and password for the day, she connected in through the Eclipse CM and edited as I wrote for the morning session–170 pages from 9:40 a.m. until 1 p.m.. As I wrote, my scopist made dictionary entries that went right into my job dictionary locally.  Throughout the day, I could see where she was in the document, and we were able to chat via text from within Eclipse.

When I closed out at 1 p.m., she was 40 pages behind me, and those 40 pages were completed by the time my afternoon began. When I was finished with the morning session, I waited not even two minutes before closing out of Eclipse, which then booted her out of my local document. I called her on the phone to see where she was and what happened on her end. She scrolled to the end and had the full document and the full audio file on her computer locally. At the time I called her, my local document was edited to the 12:15 p.m. spot.

The scopist and I shared a simultaneous stream. Not once did we lose connection, and I was on the 11th floor of a courthouse, working off my Mifi that wasn’t plugged in, and streaming to Bridge Mobile realtime. After nearly seven hours, we are both amazed at what we were able to do. With the help of my scopist, the realtime output was flawless; it was truly an instant, clean rough draft. I can envision CM helping reporters increase the quality of their realtime so that reporters who want to give out realtime but don’t write under 1 percent untranslate rate can offer that same quality.

In the past when I tried systems that connected me to a scopist, I felt a drag on the keyboard or the cursor, which made me just want to get out of the shared link. I couldn’t stand the delay of waiting for the change to occur. With CM, my scopist was editing at a high rate with no drag at all because she is really editing on a document local to her that’s affecting me simultaneously. When I watched her on my break, I could tell she was going at a good clip.

Another factor I like is its simplicity. The only thing I’m doing in addition to starting a file, which I do every day anyway, is clicking one box on the translate screen. There, I give the file a different name for my scopist. When prompted, I create the password for the day. That’s it: I’m done.

Another distinction of Connection Magic is I still have control of my own document and can go and make changes while my scopist is also working on the same document. I can also have one person scoping and another proofreading or two people scoping and one proofreading and I can make corrections still–all simultaneous.