“Tough Love Part 2” session confirmed for NCRA’s 2019 Business Summit

Mike Miller

NCRA member and past NCRA Director Mike Miller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Houston, Texas, has been confirmed as a presenter at NCRA’s 2019 Business Summit being held Feb. 1-3 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in beautiful San Diego, Calif.

Miller is known for his popular Depoman.com forum, which provided court reporters with a medium to share insights and address common issues from 1997 to 2015, as well as his Tough Love session. As a Business Summit presenter, he will lead a seminar called “Tough Love Part 2.” According to Miller, this session will challenge most sacred beliefs about the business of court reporting with a focus on why being stuck in 1985 isn’t going to alleviate any of the issues faced by agencies and reporters in the 21st century.

“Everyone in the court reporting and captioning professions is a business, from the largest international agencies to officials to freelancers to CART providers,” said Miller, who is known for his candor. “Do yourself a favor and learn from the experts on how to run your business.”

Eunice Carpitella, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, will serve as keynote speaker. She will address the practical idea that simple shifts in our routine patterns of interaction and mindset make it possible for business leaders to include, engage, and unleash everyone in solving problems, driving innovation, and achieving extraordinary outcomes.

Early registration rates end Dec. 11, for NCRA’s 2019 Business Summit. To save even more money, attendees are encouraged to book their hotel now before the guaranteed room block ends Jan. 8, 2019. Online registration for the 2019 Business Summit closes Jan. 20, 2019, and onsite registration and pricing starts Jan. 21, 2019.

Don’t forget, February is the perfect time to book early and stay late to enjoy the beauty, sunshine, and numerous attractions San Diego has to offer.

Stenograph announces new president

Stenograph, LLC, based in Elmhurst, Ill., announced in a press release issued Nov. 12, that Anir Dutta has been named as its next president. Dutta is a business and sales leader with extensive experience in P&L management, the leadership of global sales and marketing teams, domestic and international product launches and programs, and the development of sales and marketing functions.

Read more.

Ask the techie: How to use a foot pedal to listen to a videographer’s audio while you edit

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:

Videotaped depositions are being scheduled more frequently for me lately. I’m one of those reporters who likes to listen to the videographer’s audio when proofing my transcripts — it’s so much clearer because of the witnesses and attorneys being mic’d up! I’d like to know how I can easily listen to the videographer’s audio with my foot pedal. I know I can convert the .mp3 file to a .wav file and, then, associate the audio with my transcript; but I want a simple and easy way to just listen to the .mp3 file. Help!

Playing footsie


Dear Playing:

It’s great to hear that you are getting more work! Congrats! Here are a few ideas on what to look for when you are considering a foot pedal.

Lynette Mueller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a freelancer based in Memphis, Tenn., and Chair of NCRA’s Technology Committee, offered the following. 
Backup audio media (BAM) is the term used for any audio recording and can include the audio synchronization tool built into a court reporter’s computer-aided transcription (CAT) software. Here are three best practices related to audio backup:

  1. It is the obligation of a professional court reporter to stop the proceedings when the speed of testimony presents an issue, if you didn’t hear a word, or when speakers are talking at the same time.
  2. One must never rely on the audio backup to create an official record. Readbacks occur often during the proceedings, and you don’t want to play back the audio for your client when a readback is requested.
  3. If audio backup is requested by a client, check with your specific state rules in regard to your obligation to do so. If you do, however, provide a copy of the BAM, be sure to offer the same service to opposing counsel. Ensure that no off-the-record discussions are included in the recording.

NCRA has additional guidelines to help court reporters regarding best practices related to audio recordings. Look on the NCRA website for Section IV: Backup Audio Media in the COPE – Guidelines for Professional Practice.

Vpedal USB Transcription Foot Pedal, 3 Function

There are several options for good foot pedals for court reporters to aid in transcript production for playback of audio. I have used the vPedal for several years and love it! It works with my CAT software for those times I need it and it works seamlessly in conjunction with AudioSync. Look to your CAT software vendor if help is needed to set up the foot pedal for use during edit. Amazon is every court reporter’s friend and you can purchase the vPedal on Amazon.

For videotaped depositions, it’s always great when the videographer provides the audio backup. It’s a great resource for us, for sure! The witness and attorneys are mic’d up, and the audio is clear and crisp. Most of the CAT software requires a .wav file as the backup media. While there are plenty of options to convert the .mp3 from the videographer to a .wav file, sometimes there are occasions where it’s faster and easier to just upload the file to Windows Media Player and you’re good to go! Another added benefit of using the foot pedal is that it saves time because of not having to take your hands off the keyboard during edit. WMP is included in clean installs of Windows 10 as well as upgrades to Windows 10 from Windows 8.1 or Windows 7.

Things you’ll need to get started

  1. Foot pedal of choice. Mine is vPedal, as mentioned above.
  2. Foot pedal installation CD or get the Hot Keys application
  3. Windows Media Player software
  4. vPedal Windows Media Player Plug-in

Steps for Installation of Windows Media Player and Foot Pedal

  1. Connect the foot pedal following the instructions on your installation CD or from the Hot Keys application downloaded from the website. The installation CD will configure the foot pedal to the computer and install a control application from which you may set up shortcuts and commands. Again, if you wish to use the foot pedal within your CAT software, check with your vendor for assistance, if needed. I pinned my Hot Keys application to my taskbar for easy access!
  2. Install the vPedal WMP plug-in from their website. This plug-in has been tested on Windows XP thru to Windows 10.
  3. Here is a detailed list of steps to take once your plug-in has been installed.

Steps for uploading audio files to Windows Media Player

  1. Know the location of your audio file you wish to utilize.
  2. Open the WMP application. (I have it pinned to my taskbar.)
  3. Locate the videographer’s audio, select it, then highlight the file to drag it into the WMP application.
  4. Next, open up your vPedal Hot Keys application. My settings on the application: Back seconds step: 5; Forward seconds step: 5; Release seconds step: 2; Tap Enabled.
  5. Highlight the file you wish to listen to and double-click. The file will start to play.
  6. I strike the middle of the foot pedal to stop playback of the file.
  7. I strike the middle of the foot pedal to resume the audio.

Tip: If you have your audio file associated with your text file, you may want to consider using a text-only file when using the videographer’s audio within WMP. You could get two audio files playing at the same time when using the foot pedal.

WMP supports many different file types.  Learn more about Windows Media Player, troubleshooting problems, and how to customize Windows Media Player with easily installed skins, visualizations, and plug-ins for a new look and extra features.

Myrina Kleinschmidt, RMR, CRR, CRC, a freelancer and agency owner based in Wayzata, Minn., and a member of the Technology Committee, shared the following suggestions. 
We’ve used GearPlayer by TranscriptionGear for three years. The transcription software we were using before GearPlayer did not allow us to play back audio and view video files — only audio. We specifically switched to this software so that we could have the option of listening to audio alone or listen to audio and view the video — all accomplished with the ease of foot pedal control. With some witnesses it helps to be able to see their mouth while preparing a transcript (slurred speech, mumblers, low talkers, accents). Sometimes I like to verify if the witness nodded or indicated, so the video is also nice for that. If the videographer can give you the full video file(s) versus just the audio, then you have the full advantages of having mic’d audio and video viewing when needed in preparing the transcript.

Infinity USB Digital Foot Control with Computer plug (IN-USB2)

This link is you all you need to know about the GearPlayer software. It’s $119 for each computer; so if you want it on two computers, you will need two licenses. You can download a full-feature free trial and test it for five days. I purchased the USB foot pedal from them ($49 at the time – IN-USB-2 Foot Pedal by Infinity). With this program you have the option of using a foot pedal or the keyboard and mouse, so you could try out the trial program without a foot pedal to see if you like it before purchasing.

It’s simple to use. I drag and drop the file into the work space. It figures out the format and will play it back. Some of the audio format files I’ve played on this recently are .mp3, .m4a, and a .wav file. For video format files, I recently have played back an .mp4 and .mov — all drag, drop, and play. The program has a built-in converter so if it doesn’t recognize the format, it will give you an option of trying to convert the file to something it can play. You can play back from the videographer’s video CD or DVD as well, no converting needed. A nice feature is you get audio feedback when rewinding and fast forwarding, sounding similar to the old tape dictation machines. Sometimes when I need to play a file and am not at a computer that has GearPlayer, I realize how much I like the feedback feature. It makes it easier for me to know when to stop rewinding.

Sound quality can be adjusted for soft voices and noise reduction, as well as playback speed. There are other features which I have not used that are all explained in this GearPlayer link.

Sandra Mierop, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, a freelancer and agency owner based in Anchorage, Alaska, uses Express Scribe and offers the following.

Express Scribe Pro Transcription Software with USB Foot Pedal

I’ve used Express Scribe Pro for many years. A free version is available, but after I used it a couple of times, I made the purchase on Amazon. The Pro version accepts virtually any audio format, including videos.

ExpressScribe has many features that help you work faster, including shortcuts for starting/stopping the audio, rewinding, forwarding, playing fast speed, and playing slow speed. I like the “auto backstep on stop” feature when scoping a video, allowing you to automatically rewind a word or two from where you left off. I up the speed to about 150 percent when proofreading with the foot pedal, and the audio is still surprisingly clear.

Express Scribe is very easy to use. Once you have it installed, it is just a matter of dragging and dropping an audio file into it, and you can begin listening immediately. A challenge with Express Scribe is that some of its shortcuts interfere with my CAT shortcuts, and those shortcuts cannot be changed in Express Scribe.

Tip: Save your codes when you purchase Express Scribe so that you don’t have to purchase it again when you change computers.

Earn Professional Development Credits by offering pro bono CART services

NCRA members have the opportunity to earn Professional Development Credits (PDCs) by providing pro bono CART services under a collaborative program agreement with the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) that began in February. The program is intended to help HLAA chapters across the country provide quality CART for their monthly meetings in a more affordable way. The agreement will also help increase the awareness of CART captioning and its benefit for people with hearing loss.

Under the agreement, NCRA-certified captioners can earn 1.0 PDC as part of the 3.0 Continuing Education Credits required every three years. NCRA members who participate in the collaborative agreement program will be reimbursed the fee assessment by the HLAA chapter to register the PDCs.

“This partnership is another step that NCRA is taking to help people with hearing disabilities have their accessibility needs met. Captioning services provided by a certified captioner are the best and only product for people with hearing loss to be able to fully participate in HLAA chapter meetings,” said Matthew R. Barusch, NCRA’s State Government Relations Manager.

“By partnering with HLAA and offering NCRA-certified captioners this additional member benefit, we not only continue our support of our captioner membership, we can help provide this amazing community with a service they need and help one of our long-standing organizational allies grow and prosper,” Barusch added. “I would encourage all of our certified captioner members to reach out to HLAA and find a local chapter near you.”

Under the agreement, the HLAA national chapter coordinator will connect NCRA captioners to local chapters.

For more information about the collaborative agreement program or to sign up, contact Mathew Barusch at mbarusch@ncra.org.

 

Showcase your support of NCRF this giving season with an #unselfie

You may be familiar with Giving Tuesday, the movement that has taken over the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 27 this year), following consumer “holidays” Black Friday and Cyber Monday, to kick off the charitable season. Started in 2012, the movement encourages people to “help others through the gift of your time, donations, goods, or voice.”

There are many ways you can get involved, and showcase your support for NCRF — and it doesn’t have to be contained to just #GivingTuesday either. One way to use your voice to participate is by sharing an #unselfie. An #unselfie takes the selfie, a picture of one’s self, and combines it with the selfless component of using the picture to showcase a cause close to your heart.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Download and print the #unselfie template.

Step 2: Write why you support NCRF.

Step 3: Snap a picture. (Tip: you may need help from a friend, instead of the traditional selfie route of snapping a picture of yourself with the front-facing camera.)

Step 4: Share!

  • Be sure to tag NCRA (use @NCRAfb) in your #unselfie, so we can see and share them too!
  • Make your #unselfie your profile picture on social media channels on #GivingTuesday (Tues., Nov. 27), and beyond!

Visit NCRA.org/NCRF to learn more about NCRF and to download your #unselfie template.

 

Pengad gift card winner says NCRA membership lets her connect

Nicole Bresnick

Nicole Bresnick, a captioner with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program, is the winner of a $100 Pengad gift card for renewing her NCRA membership early.

Bresnick, a longtime member, was entered into the special drawing along with others who renewed their NCRA memberships in September and October.

“I became a member of NCRA as a student to get connected with my fellow students and the industry, and I have stayed a member, really, for the same reasons; but also, because it’s the right thing to do for my court reporting and captioning community,” said Bresnick, who resides in Madison, Wis.

“What I love most about being a CART captioner is that, working in an academic setting, I’m able to support the amazing students I work with to achieve great things in their education and then beyond. It’s also been great to learn how to be a better ally for deaf and hard of hearing people and to help pass that information on to other people in the hearing world,” she added.

Member benefits continue to include:

  • A listing* in both the print and online versions of the NCRA Sourcebook
  • A subscription to the JCR Magazine and the JCR Weekly
  • Multiple certification programs with online skills tests designed to make you more money
  • Access to discounted group insurance programs through Mercer for personal liability and errors and omissions
  • Member pricing to can’t-miss networking and educational events at the NCRA Convention & Expo (Aug. 15-18, 2019) and NCRA Business Summit (Feb. 1-3, 2019), formerly known as the Firm Owners Executive Conference
  • First-class online educational opportunities

Renewing is easy and available online at NCRA.org/renew or by calling 800-272-6272. Members can expect to receive their membership card via email within approximately two weeks of renewing if they have a valid email address and have not previously opted out of Constant Contact email messaging.

For more information, contact Brenda Gill, NCRA’s Membership Manager, at bgill@ncra.org.

* Registered, Participating, and Associate members are eligible for this benefit.

 

Captioning word of the month: Double-double

 

Steve Clark

Below is the sixth in a series of monthly featured words to help captioners build their dictionaries and knowledge. The words for this series are being provided by Steve Clark, CRC, a captioner from Washington, D.C. and NCRA Board member. Clark captions for Home Team Captions and covers the Baltimore Ravens NFL team  and the Washington Nationals baseball team.

Our terms this month, double-double, triple-double, quadruple-double, and quintuple-double, come from basketball. Of the four, the quintuple-double is the most difficult to achieve.


quadruple-double

Double-double
Triple-double
Quadruple-double
Quintuple-double
(basketball)

Definition

In every basketball game, an individual player is scored in five statistical categories: points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocked shots. When a player scores 10 or more points (this is where the “double” suffix comes from) in any two of these categories, this is known as a double-double.

When a player scores 10 or more points in any three of these categories, this is known as a triple-double.

When a player scores 10 or more points in any four of these categories, this is known as a quadruple-double. This feat has only been accomplished a handful of times at the professional and college level.

When a player scores 10 or more points in all five of these categories, this is known as a quintuple-double. This feat has never been accomplished at the professional or college level.

Bonus definition: Five-by-five

When a player scores five or more points in all five of these statistical categories.

Usage     

“And with that basket, Jones has another double-double.”

“Lebron James joins the list of triple-double NBA players destined for the hall of fame.”

 

NCRF accepting nominations for Frank Sarli Memorial and Student Intern scholarships

2017 Sarli and Intern recipients

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) is now accepting nominations for the Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship and the Student Intern Scholarship. The deadline for both these scholarships is Dec. 10. Beginning this year, both scholarship opportunities are open to NCRA student members enrolled in any court reporting program, not just NCRA approved programs.

Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship

NCRF’s Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship of $2,000 has benefited court reporting students nearing graduation for 20 years. The award honors the late Frank Sarli, a court reporter who was committed to supporting students at the highest level of their education. Sarli, who was studying to become a professional pianist, turned to court reporting when he could no longer afford the tuition to music school. During his career, he opened Accurate Court Reporters in Orlando, Fla., Orange County’s first independent court reporting firm, and was a founding member of the Florida Shorthand Reporters Association. Sarli also served in numerous roles at the national level, including as a director for NCRA. He was the first Floridian to earn NCRA’s Distinguished Service Award.

“I chose to be a court reporter because I wanted a job that has a relatively flexible schedule to permit me to do volunteer work and dedicate time to being a minister,” said Jared Orozco, a student from Sheridan Technical College in Hollywood, Fla., and recipient of the 2017 Frank Sarli Scholarship.

“After I finish school, my ultimate goal would be to work in transcribing sermons to expedite their translation so it can be of benefit to people all over the world,” he added.

Court reporting students must be nominated by an instructor or advisor and meet a number of specific criteria to be eligible, including:

  • enrollment in a court reporting program
  • passing at least one of the court reporting program’s Q&A tests at a minimum of 200 words per minute
  • having a GPA of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale,
  • demonstrating the need for financial assistance
  • possessing the qualities exemplified by a professional court reporter, including attitude, demeanor, dress, and motivation

Submit a nomination for the Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship.

Student Intern Scholarship

Each year, NCRF awards two $1,000 scholarships to students who have completed or are currently performing the required internship portion of their court reporting program. They must also meet other specific criteria, including:

  • enrollment in a court reporting program
  • current membership in NCRA
  • having a grade point average of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale

A generous annual donation from the Reis Family Foundation helps fund these scholarships.

“Court reporting has always been the one job that has stuck out in my mind as my ‘dream job.’ I was always discouraged from going into this career because people are very misinformed about the opportunities available for a court reporter,” said Summer Vaughan, a student from College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind., one of two recipients of the 2017 Student Intern Scholarships. “Once I began my court reporting internship, I knew I was right where I had always wanted to be,” she added.

Submit a nomination for the Student Intern Scholarship.

NCRF’s scholarships and grant are supported by donations to the NCRF Angels Drive and other fundraisers. To learn more about these scholarships, and to find the nomination forms, please visit NCRA.org/NCRF.

Veterans History Project, stenographers work to collect stories

Radio station WTOP in Washington, D.C., posted an article about NCRA’s and NCRF’s involvement with the Veterans History Project program.

Read more.

Listen to radio story.

Former NCRA member Robert James Frolik passes

The Corvallis Gazette-Times reported on Nov. 7 that former NCRA member Robert Frolik, 94, died on Wed., Oct. 31, in Albany, N.Y. Frokil was a past president of the Oregon Court Reporters Association.

Read more.