TechLinks: Travel apps

By Jennifer Late and Susie Simmons

TechLinks_logoThe Technology Committee recently shared a number of travel apps designed to make your travel easier whether your journey takes you across the state or around the globe.

Lisa Knight, FAPR, RDR, CRR, says there are several travel apps that she can’t live without.

  • Google Maps: This app works without being on WiFi. You can still see where you are on the map.
  • Uber: This is a great way to get a ride anywhere.
  • Converter: I love this app. It converts the currency. I use this daily when traveling abroad.
  • Expensify: This helps manage my expenses, and it creates and sends an expense report.

Nancy Bistany, RPR, uses WorldMate to store all her airfare items and hotel, and it’s even a currency converter.

Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, has several favorites:

  • Outlook: When traveling, I copy and paste my itinerary into the calendar and save all confirming emails to the travel folder for airlines, hotels, rental cars, etc. The paperless boarding pass can be saved to the travel folder, too.
  • Dropbox: I scan my passport, driver’s license, health insurance card, and credit cards, and I keep in a secure folder in Dropbox in case of emergency.
  • Splashtop: This gives me access my office desktop computer from my Android.
  • MyTSA: This gives real-time conditions of TSA lines at any airport in the country.

For a full list of travel apps that our technology committee members use and love, click here.

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.”

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.

Read more.

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.”

TechLinks: Sharing information

TechLinks_logoThe Technology Committee shared a few links about WiFi systems, storage solutions, and a video-streaming service.

An article from How-To Geek explains what a mesh WiFi system is and how it’s different from an extender. “If your home’s WiFi network has dead spots, or doesn’t reach across your entire house, then you might have recently considered getting a mesh WiFi system,” the article explains.

PCWorld reviews the Netgear Orbi WiFi router. The Orbi has been marketed as a mesh network system, so even though it’s technically a hub-and-spoke system, the review compares its performance against other mesh systems on the market. “The bottom line is that this is an outstanding WiFi route,” reviewer Michael Brown writes.

On PCMag, Michael Muchmore and Jill Duffy compare the best cloud storage and file-sharing services of 2017. The article also discusses cloud storage in a bit more detail, including how it can work for you and using a free vs. paid service.

Finally, vMix is a live production and streaming software. According to the site, vMix “runs on Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10 platforms,” and its features include “live mixing, switching, recording and live streaming of SD, full HD, and 4K video sources, including cameras, video files, DVDs, images, Powerpoint” and more.

Tools of the Trade

Here are the answers to the questions court reporters and captioners most want to ask about the steno machines on the market.

Passport Touch Manufactured by Advantage Eclipsecat.com / 800-800-1759 Specifi cations: Width: 9.75 inches Depth: 10.5 inches Height: 4 inches Weight: 5.2 pounds, including battery

Is your system wired or wireless, or can it be either?

Both wired and wireless.

What CAT systems work with your writer?

The Passport Touch is compatible with all CAT software.

What dictionary types can be imported?

Eclipse and RTF.

What translate function does it o­ffer?

The Passport Touch includes a patented automatic rewriter that allows you to adjust your keys after the job, and apply those adjustments to jobs that have already been written for improved translation.

What is the size of the display?

7-inch capacitive HD touch screen.

What is the range of key adjustability?

Measuring from the home row (SKWR-RBGS), the minimum depth of stroke is 0.5 mm ( 2⁄100 in.), and the maximum depth of stroke is 13 mm ( 1⁄2 in.). Depth of stroke and tension are finely geared and continuously adjustable for ease of operation and fine-tuning.

The Passport Touch features patented, user-adjustable vowel and StenoMagic keys.

The anti-stacking, anti-splitting, shadow-tracking, and key-position scanning on the Passport Touch are patented. Anti-stacking is adjustable from 0 to 100. Shadow-tracking can be turned on or off.

Can the display be changed?

Yes. The Passport Touch includes a full-featured capacitive touch screen with a myriad of display options. The patent-pending hideaway display disappears into the writer when you don’t need it. A built-in tablet stand is available when the display is open.

Does it o­ffer any audio features? If so, what are they?

Yes. The Passport Touch has a built-in microphone, a microphone port, a headphone port, and a monitoring mode. A large number of context-sensitive tutorial videos with sound are also integrated into the machine.

What is the battery life?

Battery life is dependent primarily upon screen brightness. At medium brightness, you can expect about 12 hours per charge.

Does the keyboard allow modifications?

Yes. The height of the vowel keys and StenoMagic keys in relation to the other keys is user-adjustable. There is no need to send the machine in to change those. The vowel keys have three positions: traditional, mid-height, and the same plane as the other keys. Mid-height is the most popular setting. The StenoMagic keys have two positions: low when you want them out of the way, and in the same plane as the other keys for easy bridging.

The machine can be ordered with traditional asterisk and initial S keys, or with split asterisk and initial S keys for additional flexibility. All the standard wide-key options are available, plus a wide initial S key (recommended) to allow easy bridging with the StenoMagic keys.

What backups are provided?

The writer has 32 GB of internal memory. It has an external micro-SD slot, plus two USB ports. The internal memory, external micro-SD card, and one USB port are written to in realtime for backup purposes.

In addition to the standard data (steno, English, and audio), raw steno fi les are also backed up. (Raw steno fi les are much larger than standard steno fi les and are what make it possible for users to adjust their keys after jobs have ended, apply the readjusted values to jobs they have already written, and retranslate the jobs using the new adjustments.)

Additional comments: The Passport is customizable with more than 100 different skins available.

Lightspeed Zenith Manufactured by Stenovations Stenovations.com / 800-626-7228 Specifications: Width: 12.5 inches Depth: 7.5 inches Height: 0.5 inches Weight: 2.0 pounds, including aluminum case

Is your system wired or wireless, or can it be either?

Either. It can be connected via USB cable, which transmits data as well as provides power. It may also simultaneously be connected to a second computer or smartphone via Bluetooth.

What CAT systems work with your writer?

All CAT systems running the Windows operating system.

What dictionary types can be imported?

None.

What translate function does it o­ffer?

None.

What is the size of display?

No display.

What is the range of key adjustability (stacking and side-to-side)?

The range of pressure on each of the 121 sensors for threshold settings is 0 to 1023. Pressure is read on each of 121 sensors 60 times a second. The Zenith application software on the computer uses that information to address any reporter-induced stacking.

Can the display be changed?

No display.

Does it o­ffer any audio features? If so, what are they?

No audio features.

What is the battery life?

Seven hours.

Does the keyboard allow modifications?

Yes, in multiple ways. The Zenith software allows redefining a key to be a steno letter, a combination of letters, or a macro that generates up to four strokes. The writer has additional keys below the vowels. For example, one of those could be defined as a question or answer bank.

Again, the writer has 121 sensors, and each is fully definable. Multiple sensors are under all the keys as well as under the cracks. Crack sensors can be redefined or disabled. For example, redefining the sensors under the crack between the E and U as an E virtually widens the E, moving the sweet spot to actuate both keys to the right. Also, either of the initial S keys or the crack sensor between them can be redefined as a combination of keys or a macro containing up to four strokes.

These are just a few of the possibilities.

What is the storage capacity built into the writer, as well as for backup files?

32 GB on the SD card in the writer itself.

On a connected computer, data is stored on the hard drive by default. Simultaneously, additional backup may be sent to any removable storage media inserted into the computer.

Additional backup may be had by simultaneously connecting via Bluetooth to an Android app, StenAudio, on a smartphone or tablet. Said app creates a time-stamped steno file, plus records an audio file with time stamps. Said files may thereafter be transferred to a CAT system and translated into a text file with the audio synchronized.

Also, if you have your CAT system installed on two computers, you can write to both simultaneously, that is, one computer connected via USB cable and the other Bluetooth.

Additional comments: The Lightspeed Zenith does not require the use of a tripod. It can be operated while placed on your lap or on a table or anywhere that’s comfortable for you. In addition, though it does not have a screen, since it is thin and flat, it can be used while placed on the keyboard of a laptop computer.

Also, with the Zenith writer you can define a key or key combination as a “shift,” “Alt,” or “Ctrl” key. You can keep it depressed while you stroke other steno outlines. When these keys are depressed, you can access a different keyboard layout. For instance, the keys can be defined as numbers or number combinations. A single key can be one letter or multiple letter or a single stroke or multiple strokes, up to four strokes, and that stroke can be sent to the CAT software for translation.

Luminex Manufactured by Stenograph Stenograph.com / 800-323-4247 Specifications: Width: 9.125 inches Depth: 10.3 inches Height: 2.5 inches Weight: 3.5 pounds

Is your system wired or wireless, or can it be either?

The Luminex can be both wired to the computer with a USB cable or wireless, using Bluetooth.

What CAT systems work with your writer?

The Luminex supports both USB and Virtual serial port. Any software that can output to Stentura protocol over serial port can connect to the Luminex. The entire USB protocol description along with sample code is available for download from Stenograph.com to enable any developer to add Stenograph’s writers to their software.

What dictionary types can be imported?

Case CATalyst personal and job dictionaries are downloaded to the writer via a USB cable. Other dictionaries can be converted by using the Stenograph RTF/CRE Dictionary Conversion Utility. Once converted, dictionaries can be downloaded to the writer using USB.

What translate function does it offer?

Once a dictionary is loaded on the writer, the Luminex will display fully translated text, as well as a range of other built-in features like J-defines and Brief it. You can set job dictionary priorities so that when a stroke appears in more than one dictionary with a different definition, the job dictionary with the highest priority is used to translate the stroke. All selected job dictionaries have a higher priority than the main dictionary and the J-defines dictionary within the Luminex memory.

What is the size of display?

The display screen is a capacitive touch, 7-inch diagonal, 800×480 Wide VGA screen.

What is the range of key adjustability (stacking and side-to-side)?

Easily reachable adjustment wheels on the left and right of the machine control keyboard depth of stroke and tension. Also, there are software keyboard adjustment settings: general keyboard sensitivity, split/stack adjustments, as well as fine-tune adjustments of individual keys.

Can the display be changed?

Users have the option of loading any image of their choice for the writer’s splash screen as well as changing the font size and the color of text.

Does it o­ffer any audio features? If so, what are they?

The writer can record high-quality audio in ADPCM or PCM codecs. There are also options for monitoring live audio with a headset and auto pausing of the audio during lulls in testimony.

What is the battery life?

A fully charged battery will last approximately 17 to 19 hours.

Does the keyboard allow modifications?

Any keyboard modifications, such as keytop changes, are done in a controlled factory environment to assure precision and reliability.

What is the storage capacity built into the writer, as well as for backup files?

The Luminex has Triple-Protection Storage. The main SD card saves steno with timestamps and audio to a high-capacity SD card up to 32 GB. The backup SD card also saves steno with timestamps and audio to an SD card up to 32 GB. The backup card never runs out of space and replaces the oldest files with the newest. The Internal RAM will save steno with timestamps up to 6 GB and will replace the oldest files with the newest files.Xpression, Impression, and Blaze Manufactured by ProCAT ProCAT.com / 818.222.6600 Specifications for Xpression: Width: 9.25 inches Depth: 8.25 inches Height: 2.75 inches Specifications for Impression and Blaze: Width: 8.75 inches Depth: 9.25 inches Height: 3.75 inches

Is your system wired or wireless, or can it be either?

ProCAT Xpression o­ffers Bluetooth and WiFi wireless connections. These are standard features in the ProCAT Xpression.

ProCAT Impression comes standard with Bluetooth.

Blaze professional and student models do not support wireless features.

What CAT systems work with your writer?

ProCAT writers are compatible with all current CAT systems. The protocol for our realtime writers is available to everyone free.

What dictionary types can be imported?

RTF dictionaries are preferred; however, ProCAT can convert native dictionary formats from all popular CAT systems.

What translate functions does it o­ffer?

ProCAT Xpression and Impression o­ffer a full range of realtime translation capabilities, such as those found in popular desktop CAT systems. The features include: AutoBrief using Mark Kislingbury’s theory; intelligent prefixing and suffixing; automatic number conversion; conflict resolution; a/an resolution; stack detection; drag-n-drop resolution; wireless feed to iPad app; dictionary global; and automatic punctuation placement. Also, when using Bluetooth, the writer will reconnect automatically when you go out of range, such as in chambers, and the Xpression and Impression have realtime hold for o­ff-the-record proceedings. ProCAT’s writers allow users to export realtime transcript to RTF (Microsoft Word), PTF (LiveNote portable transcript format), and text (ASCII), as well as allowing users to export transcript and audio to other popular CAT systems.

What is the size of display?

ProCAT writers o­ffer a 7-inch color LCD panel with LED backlighting and true touch sensitivity. All features are accessible by simply swiping or touching the screen or icons.

What is the range of key adjustability (stacking and side-to-side)?

ProCAT writers allow the user to set the depth of travel ranging from nearly 1.5 mm to 19 mm. ProCAT writers have two independent processors to capture and translate keystrokes. This feature reduces the risk of stacking and o­ffers additional reliability.

Can the display be changed?

Users can define fonts size; choose from English, steno, or mixed display options; use colors and font emphasis for Q and A; show AutoBrief window; and adjust the English/steno window size by tapping and dragging.

Does it offer any audio features? If so, what are they?

ProCAT Xpression and Impression o­ffer automatic high-definition audio recording. The recorded audio is compatible with all CAT systems and synchronized with its RTF-formatted transcript. The writers also have audio recording boost and volume control, as well as an audio loopback that enables the user to wear a headset or earbud for amplified audio in situations where the acoustics are poor. The audio is recorded only when it is on-the-record. It will not record o­ff-the-record discussions, and they will remain confidential.

What is the battery life?

The battery life is as follows: ProCAT Xpression: 12-14 hours; ProCAT Impression: 18-22 hours; and ProCAT Blaze: 10-12 hours.

Does the keyboard allow modifications?

In addition to the standard key options such as wide keys, ProCAT o­ffers raised vowel keys.

What is the storage capacity built into the writer, as well as for backup files?

The Blaze has a 128 MB storage in internal file backup, and 5 m strokes in revolving backup on a secondary computer. The Impression has 2 GB primary storage (steno, transcript, audio, and backup steno); 2 GB secondary storage (steno, steno in Stentura format), and 1 GB on the internal flash drive, as well as 5 m strokes revolving backup on the secondary computer. The Xpression has 8 GB primary storage (steno, transcript, audio, and backup steno); 8 GB secondary storage (steno, steno in Stentura format), and 4 GB on the internal flash drive, as well as 5 m strokes revolving backup on the secondary computer.

Additional Comments: ProCAT writers use the Windows operating system, which will enable our clients to easily integrate their writer into the PC environment. The Windows environment makes it easier for us to deliver updates to our clients. Additionally, ProCAT technicians can view a client’s screen remotely and o­ffer technical assistance and training. The ProCAT WriterSync offers seamless synchronization between the writer and PC. WriterSync can convert a personal dictionary and upload it into the writer as often as required, or download jobs from the writer into a PC.

Finally, ProCAT Xpression uses a 1.4 GHz Quad-core processor.

TechLinks: Taking care of your smartphone

TechLinks_logoThe NCRA Technology Committee recently shared several resources on smartphones, including a screen cleaner, tips for extending battery life, and top 10 list of accessories.

In October, the Grommet featured SmartKlear, a screen cleaner that uses carbon-cleaning technology to wipe the screen clear. A representative for SmartKlear answers questions about the product in the comments section.

A New York Times article from February shares eight tips and dismantles seven myths about extending battery life.

Both dated from 2014, Men’s Journal and MainStreet published their top 10 smartphone accessories. The accessories include chargers, holders, cases, and photo lenses.

TechLinks: Apps we can’t live without

TechLinks_logoThe Technology Committee members recently shared their “must have” apps. These apps are all either free or operate under a freemium system (meaning a free baseline service with premium options for a fee).

  • LastPass is a password manager. Available on iOS and Android.
  • Dropbox provides storage and file sharing. Available on iOS and Android.
  • Dashlane is a password manager and digital wallet. Available on iOS and Android.
  • Speedtest by Ookla tests Internet connectivity speeds. Available on iOS and Android.
  • Flightaware is a live flight tracker and provides flight status updates. Available on iOS and Android.
  • Evernote keeps and organizes notes. Available on iOS and Android.
  • F.lux adjusts the device’s display to match time of day. Limited availability on iOS and Android; download directly from the website.
  • TurboScan scans documents, photos, etc., and saves them as either PDF or JPEG files. Free on iOS; available for a fee on Android.

NCRA’s 2016 Convention & Expo: Something for everyone

Convention-JCRcom-BoxAdOnline registration for NCRA 2016 Convention & Expo happening at the Hilton Chicago, Chicago, Ill., Aug. 4-7, closes July 29, so hurry and register now to participate in the vast array of continuing education sessions, networking opportunities, certification preparation workshops for the Certified Realtime Reporter and the Realtime Systems Administrator, and, of course, all that’s new on the Expo floor.

Whether you are an official, freelancer, broadcast or CART captioner, legal videographer, educator, student, or legal services provider, this year’s schedule has something to help you be the architect of your future. Plus attendees who need CEUs can earn up to 2.45 of them with a full registration and optional workshops.

Among the educational session highlights are:

Freelancer business 101. Presenters: Lisa DiMonte, RMR, CMRS; Jan Ballman, RPR, CMRS; Marjorie Peters, RMR, CRR; and Dave Tackla, CLVS

Compassion fatigue and job stress. Presenter: April Kopp, LCSW, MFA

Your cloud-based office. Presenters: Nancy Bistany, RPR and Kim Neeson, RPR, CRR, CRC

The secret business of court reporting. Presenter: Debbie Bridges Duffy, RPR

Beyond the captions:  Captioner roundtable. Presenters: Merilee Johnson, RMR, CRR, CRC; Bill Graham; and Deanna Baker, FAPR, RMR

90 apps in 90 minutes. Presenter: Sara Wood, CAE

Tax tips for court reporters. Presenter: Charlotte Ogorek

Best practices for realtime reporting. Presenters: Jason Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC; Christine Phipps, RPR; and Sandy VanderPol, FAPR, RMR, CRR

Anywhere, anytime:  Online testing. Presenter: Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE

Are you an independent contractor or an employee? Presenter: Chris Wojcicki

Video equipment configuration:  Real world equipment setups. Presenters: Richard Hayden, CLVS, and Jason Levin, CLVS

In addition, students, educators, and school administrators will enjoy a selection of sessions tailored specifically to their interests and needs.

Other highlights for the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo include professional speaker and humorist John Wagner, who will address the topic of “Pride in the Profession” when he takes the stage as the keynote presenter during the Premier Session; the national Speed and Realtime Contests; the installation of NCRA’s 2016-2017 Officers and Board of Directors; and the presentation of the Distinguished Service Award, the highest award bestowed by NCRA. Networking opportunities will include receptions, the annual awards and NCRF Angels luncheons, and the President’s Party.

Remember, the deadline for online registration is July 29. For more information and to register for the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo, visit NCRA.org/Convention.