Dictionary Jumpstart launches new website

jcr-publications_high-resDictionary Jumpstart, a dictionary-building software company for court reporters and broadcast captioners, announced in a press release issued Jan. 16 that the firm has launched LearnToCaption.com, a new website that offers training, software, and resources to court reporters seeking to make the jump to captioning.

Read more.

Realtime resource guide

By Merilee Johnson and Lisa Knight

Congratulations! You have worked hard at improving your writing. Your translation rate gets better with every job you take. You are finally ready to make the next step and start offering your realtime feed for others to view and use. Time to celebrate!

No! Wait! Panic sets in!

Does my CAT vendor offer realtime software for me to use? How much does that cost? Can I write to other realtime software with my current CAT system? Do I want to write to other realtime software? Do I want to use cables or StenoCast or do it all wirelessly with a router? Do I need a tablet, or should I use a laptop?

NCRA’s TRAIN Subcommittee has you covered. We have been working with CAT vendors to gather this valuable information to help you make a decision, and we have compiled it into a handy guide for reporters to quickly and easily determine their options and take their next steps.

An investment into a realtime future can add up fast, but it doesn’t have to. This is not about taking out a second mortgage to purchase all the realtime accoutrements at one time. Many realtime reporters don’t run out and purchase six iPads at their nearest Apple store. Most are methodical (that’s why we are so good at what we do). They may choose to purchase one refurbished tablet or computer and discover what works best for them. One by one, they add to their realtime stock.

Many people have an old computer (or two or three). Reporters can easily turn that into a realtime computer for counsel without paying anything to make that happen. Providing realtime (and getting paid for it) does not have to cost reporters an arm and a leg. Often, one realtime job will typically pay for that new or refurbished tablet the first time it’s used. By the second realtime job, reporters are increasing their margin of profit. Many reporters are losing money by not writing realtime, plain and simple.

Ready to get started? Use this guide to help determine the next realtime step. Is your current software and hardware compatible with cables or StenoCast using your old computer? Can you write to your computer wirelessly using a router without purchasing a license from your CAT vendor? Is your equipment and software license set up to provide a wireless stream out of the conference room to the other side of the world? The answers to these questions and more are here in this realtime guide.

Merilee Johnson, RMR, CRR, CRC, and Lisa Knight, RDR, CRR, are co-chairs of NCRA’s TRAIN Subcommittee.

The TRAIN subcommittee wishes to thank the vendors who participated in gathering this information. Their time devoted to this guide was extremely valuable.

  • Advantage Software
  • ProCAT
  • AristoCAT
  • Stenograph
  • Gigatron
  • Stenovations

TechLinks: Windows 10 tips and tricks

TechLinks_logoNCRA’s Technology Committee offered several resources for people who are considering switching to Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 10. While the JCR Weekly is checking in with vendors about compatibility issues, you can get a sense of what Windows 10 is all about  in tech-press articles. Here are a few that may be of interest to court reporters, captioners, and other NCRA members.

Wired offers information on security settings for those planning to use Windows 10.

PCWorld offers tips, tricks, and tweaks to consider in a slideshow on its website.

On LinkedIn, Micheal Bazzoni offers thoughts on how Windows 10 will interact with WiFi.

Through school and back again: A new CART provider’s journey

Back before the stress, frustration, and soul crushing — ahem, challenging — days of court reporting school, I did something much easier: I went to a four-year university.

And I loved it. So much so, in fact, that I just wouldn’t leave. I blissfully flitted from Greek mythology to earthquake science to Italian and racked up almost 30 more credits than I needed to graduate. I like to be thorough. And I do find the vast majority of subjects (sorry, economics) quite interesting.

At the time, I justified this binge of academia with a dreamy “I love learning!” The older, wiser, and bitterly indebted me, who is still paying for it all, thinks I might as well have just said, “I hate money!” But I digress.

The point is that as soon as I heard about CART in theory class, I knew it was the career for me. Being able to directly help others access their education while working in an intellectually stimulating and ever-changing environment, actually using that knowledge of Greek mythology in everyday life? Sign me up!

Going through court reporting school with the goal of becoming a CART provider was not as straightforward as preparing to become a reporter. For reporting, the dictation is legal in nature, the class requirements are determined by the court reporter’s board, and realtime is something you’re only encouraged to do after a couple of years in the field. CART is somewhat of an afterthought or even seen as something you can resort to if you get stuck at 180.

My teachers gave me some great suggestions on how to prepare myself for CART, but without the formal instruction and guidance provided in my court reporting classes, I was often left to my own devices and made some mistakes along the way. Fortunately, I did find a fantastic CART class at a different school late in my education, and I highly recommend taking one if you can, but I think classes like these are all too rare.

In my most productive summer ever, I finished school in June 2013, passed the July CSR, and started working in August. Since I know not all students have access to CART training, I would like to share my top 10 tips — both the things I did and wish I had done — to prepare for CART work straight out of school.

1. Clean up your realtime. Get used to punctuating while you write, resolving your conflicts, and practicing your numbers for those math classes. Do not neglect accuracy; remember, you shouldn’t be doing much editing when doing CART. Push for speed as well, but keep it balanced. While I think low- and mid-speed students should be working on fixing fingering problems, I see no problem with high-speed students defining misstrokes if they don’t conflict with anything. I have 30 entries just for INSTRUCTOR, and my eternally dragging right ring finger would destroy my realtime if I didn’t define, for example, “SAPBLD” as “sand.”

2. Become a fingerspelling champ. This is the number one thing I wish I had worked on more, and I still have not achieved champ status. I used to sit in trial-speed classes and fingerspell random words.

CART JCR Weekly photo13. Sit out. This is invaluable. I actually still sit out with experienced CART providers and always pick up new and brilliant tips. Just figuring out where to sit can be challenging in this job, not to mention what you should do if, for example, the professor turns on an uncaptioned video or speaks in another language. I jot down questions during class, and the CART provider is always happy to talk afterward.

4. Get comfortable with other people looking at your screen. I know it’s scary at first! I was the student who would find an isolated corner and tilt my screen away from of any other human’s possible line of sight until my teacher forced me to get over that by standing behind me and staring at my realtime. Because you know what your clients will do? To practice, grab a bored family member, be the weirdo at Starbucks with all your equipment, or set up smack-dab in the middle of your lab — no small text or screen tilting allowed.

5. Keep your legal briefs and software settings separate. You don’t want 25 lines per page, you don’t want “Q BY MR. ATTORNEY” randomly popping up, and you don’t want the word “pathos” translating as “page objection sustained.” In addition to having a legal dictionary, I have two separate user IDs in my software so I can switch from CART to court reporting without adjusting my layout settings.

6. Know your software. You’ve heard it a million times, but there’s a reason for that. Setting up phonetic translation and being able to manipulate your display, for example, are crucial. Two minutes before class started one day, my client asked me to change my text color, background color, and text size. It should have been simple, but there were unexpected problems, such as the black background causing my include files to be invisible since they were programmed with black text. Then my headers turned on unexpectedly, causing huge jumps in my display.

It was just a mess. That day still haunts my dreams.

7. Get a mentor. Or get two, as I did. I’ve bothered these wonderfully patient women with panicky questions on such topics as wardrobe, taxes, salary negotiation, and even wedding reception locations. (Obviously, we became friends. I would not suggest beginning your relationship with wedding-related questions, but consider yourself lucky if it ever does go there.)

8. Read up on CART ethics and guidelines. You know all those lovely codes you’re responsible for knowing as a certified court reporter? There’s a whole different set of rules for CART, and issues such as confidentiality and client sensitivity are a big deal. NCRA’s website is a good place to start.

9. Get certified. No, it’s not necessary, and I know some phenomenal writers who aren’t. But it helps to get your foot in the door, gives you more options, especially during school breaks when jobs are scarce, and covers you if employers ever decide to start requiring it. As a bonus, someone usually wants to throw you a party.

10. Build your dictionary like crazy and know it well. I know reporters who started taking depositions with fewer than 20,000 entries, but I don’t think that would work in CART. That being said, prefixes and suffixes are imperative and allow you to create significantly more words than entries, so it’s not as hard as it may seem to have a functional dictionary. I practice to anything I can get my hands on: newspapers, books, magazines, podcasts, my little sister’s textbooks, and lists of names. This will help you get used to writing unfamiliar words. You know what I’ve never written on the job? “Beyond a reasonable doubt.” You know what I have written? “Ethylenediaminetetraacetate.”


Christine Ahn is a court reporting student in Santa Monica, Calif. She can be reached at christineahn1@gmail.com.

DepoSolutions introduces Quick Glance Log

Quick Glance Log is a 100 percent Web-based time and money management software created for court reporters, scopists, and proofreaders. The software allows users to:

  • Invoice your accounts receivable (agencies or reporters)
  • Track monies received using the realtime balance due feature (ensure payment)
  • Keep track of monies paid to your subcontractors (1099s have never been easier)
  • Keep track of the hours per job (save time)
  • Keep track of non-reimbursed expenses (only minutes for tax preparation!)

More information is available at www.deposolutions.com.

  • DepoSolutions offers agency owners several reasons to use their its product. They say:
  • Reporters will love the easy online worksheet and schedule.
  • Clients will love the easy online integrated calendar and repository.
  • Staff will love the ease of working with DepoSolutions.
  • Agency owners will love the benefits of time and money savings.

More information is available at www.deposolutions.com.