What to do with those old steno machines

Steno machines are no different than anything else in life. At some point, they need to be replaced. But what’s a reporter or captioner to do with their old machines? For some, the answer is to donate them to a court reporting program.

Three 1980s models of steno machines grouped together“A donated machine is very much appreciated by a student,” says Mary Beth Johnson, CRI, a professor of court reporting at the Community College of Allegheny County.

“Our school is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We live in an area where court reporters are very generous. Our students have been the beneficiaries of donated steno paper, machines, and thousands of dollars in scholarship monies. As a teacher, I am always appreciative of the largesse of court reporters,” she adds.

State court reporting associations also recognize the importance of donating old steno machines and other items to benefit students. Recently, both the California Court Reporters Association and the Wisconsin Court Reporters Association (WCRA) issued calls to their members to donate old machines to schools and to volunteers who are leading the A to Z Program, a free introductory course of basic steno for those who might be interested in pursuing a court reporting or captioning career.

“In Wisconsin, I know of several reporters who donated their steno machines to the court reporting schools and also to the A to Z Program,” says Sheri Piontek, RMR, CRR, CRC, an official from Green Bay and president of WCRA.

“The A to Z Program is what prompted Wisconsin to request donations of machines as a means of trying to increase the number of students in the court reporting profession. The only way this program is successful is by asking the reporters to donate their older models to the students,” she adds. To date, WCRA members have hosted two A to Z Programs within the state and have a third planned for the fall, Piontek notes.

Donating old machines to court reporting schools can also help offset tuition expenses for students. In some cases, donating a machine can be used as a tax deduction.

“When I decide to recycle or toss my steno machine, I give it to a court reporting student,” says Laura Lynn Murphy, RMR, a freelance court reporter from St. Louis, Mo.

“Many of them are renting a machine. I like to think that if they don’t have the rent to pay, they will be more inclined to join Missouri Court Reporting Association or, perhaps, NCRA as a student because they have to pay dues to join,” says Murphy.

“If there isn’t a need from a student, I donate the steno machine to Ranken Technical College. The students there are learning how machines work and when they tear down, hopefully, learn the machinations. I also give them old Dictaphones or digital equipment, anything that would help their training and not go into landfills,” she adds.

Murphy also suggests offering an old machine to companies that sells new ones in exchange for credit toward a new purchase. Many times, she notes, companies will use the old machines for repair parts.

Donating an old machine to a student is invaluable, according to Kelly Moranz, CRI, program manager and adjunct faculty at Cuyahoga Community College’s captioning and court reporting program in Cuyahoga, Ohio.

These machines are distributed to students in need, and it can sometimes mean a difference as to whether they can begin the program or not,” Moranz says.

“Professionals typically reach out to us if they have a machine to donate. Through the grants we have received in the past, we have machines for campus students that cycle through the program. We are able to supply online students with the same opportunity with the machines donated by professionals. Additionally, for students mentioning they have spoken to a professional, I encourage them to reach out and see if they have an extra machine available,” she adds.

Johnson notes that she and her staff are not at all shy about asking for donations of old machines and other items, especially since working professionals have been consistently very generous with the program.

“Donations are critical to the success of our program. Please know how grateful we are for decades of donations, not limited to machines, but also including guest speakers, mentors, and scholarship donors. In Pittsburgh, professional reporters donate their time, talent, and treasure consistently,” she says.

TechLinks: Protect yourself from ransomware

TechLinks_logoThe NCRA Technology Committee has gathered a few resources on the new WannaCry ransomware attack.

Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, shared an article from Gizmodo that provides basic information on the ransomware attack, including where and how it started. The article will be updated with new developments.

Nodland also shared tips for keeping yourself safe, written by the IT personnel for LNS Court Reporting & Captioning, Portland, Ore.

Lisa Knight, FAPR, RDR, CRR, shared a TechConnect article on patches that Microsoft has published for Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Windows 8.

Finally, Nodland shared PCMag‘s best ransomware protection of 2017.

DEITZ Court Reporting launches updated website

JCR logoIn a press release issued May 9, DEITZ Court Reporting, New York, N.Y., announced it has launched an updated website to better serve clients.

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Veteran court reporter takes Kansas City firm in a technology-focused direction

JCR logoIn a press release issued May 10, The Cooper Group, a litigation services firm headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., announced that it has taken an even more technology-focused direction.

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TechLinks: On the go

TechLinks_logoThe NCRA Technology Committee recently shared several resources about mobile devices and how to stay safe on the go.

Tim Bajarin contemplates where the future is headed with a ubiquitous piece of portable technology in Time’s “Will Smartphones Ever Be Obsolete?”

In Macworld, Susie Ochs makes a case for why the cheaper 2017 iPad may be better than the Pro version.

A recent post on VIPRE Security News shares 8 tips for staying safe while away from home. Tips include using antivirus software, installing a VPN, and monitoring for credit-card skimming.

Speaking of credit cards, NFIB has five facts that small-business owners need to know about chip-and-pin credit card technology.

Cloud service to insulate media and entertainment industry from caption outages

JCR logoIn a press release issued April 25, VITAC Corp announced VTAC Power Connect, a new cloud service that hardwires continuous programming from realtime captioners to live broadcasting encoders.

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Tri-C court reporting professor earns national honor

JCR logoThe Cuyahoga Community College, Cuyahoga, Ohio, issued a press release on April 18 announcing that the JCR recently honored Jen Krueger, RMR, CRI, CPE, an associate professor of captioning, with an award for innovative use of technology.

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TechLinks: Staying connected

TechLinks_logoThe Technology Committee recently shared a number of links for staying connected through email or remote conferencing or even for hooking up to TV.

“I use MS Outlook 365 in the cloud for email. I can access it from anyone’s computer,” says Nancy L. Bistany, RPR. She shared a link to Microsoft Outlook’s updates in early 2017.

Jon Moretti, CLVS, shared the Zoom video and web conferencing service. “We use it internally considering I’m 100 miles away from our main office, and of course we use it for both iPad/PC as well as conventional videoconferencing,” he says.

Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC, recommends using the Xbox to connect to live TV. “You can hook up your cable box to your Xbox and be able to watch all of the streaming apps and your cable box all on the same HDMI input through your Xbox, so you don’t have to fiddle with multiple remotes. You just need the Xbox controller to control everything,” he says.

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.”

Six features legal websites should consider

jcr-publications_high-resA Feb. 28 article on LawyersWeekly.com, based in Australia, mentions that most people will research a firm online before calling to hire a lawyer. The author suggests six features legal websites should consider including as part of their website.

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