TechLinks: Using Windows 10 and Dropbox

Lisa Knight, FAPR, RDR, CRR, who served on the 2016-2017 NCRA Technology Committee, shared a few links for getting the most out of Windows 10 and Dropbox.

In an April 17 article for Computerworld, Woody Leonhard shares the top 30 free apps for Windows 10 (just to be clear: these are for a computer). “Whether you’re a grizzled Windows victim or a faltering Windows ingénue, these programs should be at the top of your list,” says Leonhard. The apps include an incremental file backup, a tool for bringing back deleted files, an online calling/messaging program (that’s not Skype), a to-do list program, and more.

Still a Windows 10 newbie? For the one-year anniversary of the new update, Brad Chacos rounded up the 10 best new features of Windows 10 for PCWorld. These features, including the Start menu, Cortana, and The Edge browser, are all good to explore first if you’re still making your way into the Microsoft upgrade.

Finally, in a post for Hongkiat, Ashutosh KS shares 15 tips to get more out of Dropbox (plus a bonus). “I often thought Dropbox as a simple cloud storage service that you can use to save and share your files and folders,” he says. “But as I started digging deeper into its functionalities, I found myself nothing but wrong. This cloud service is so full of surprises and has many more features than you already know of.” These features include working on files as a team, accessing files without internet, and sharing screenshots on the fly.

TechLinks: Understanding internet safety

TechLinks_logoThe JCR Weekly recently asked the NCRA Technology Committee: “What are your thoughts, concerns, or sources you turn to when you are looking at your settings – whether your browser, apps or programs you download, or dealing with the upload of transcripts?” Here’s what they had to say:

 

My general privacy settings are set in my virus ware, but I am very careful about downloading any attachment with an .exe extension on it. I make sure I’m confident with the source, whether a new program or the person who has sent it, before I click “OK.”

I have, in the past, gone to Google to check out the source of the program if it’s an app or new software I’m downloading. I read quite a bit about Dashlane, for example, before I decided to use that as my password keeper, including talking to my IT guy, my nephew Dan, and I’m so very glad I did.

Nancy Bistany, RPR
Chicago, Ill.

 

I am very careful as to what I download. If I don’t know the site or the user, I just delete and don’t click on anything that would say, “download” or have an extension on it.

I stick with using Google Chrome because it is more secure. Here at work, though, we are not allowed to open certain things. We’ll get a “caution” before we proceed or it will block us from opening untrusted sites or downloads. I think it goes back to again having a trusted virus ware to help with that as well. Here at work, they send us emails to test us to see how many people will fall for opening these downloads that would cause a virus. So we are constantly being educated from our IT people on what to look for. If we open something here at work, we will be shut down immediately or contacted immediately to let us know our computers are at risk.

On my personal computer, same thing, I just wouldn’t open it. I would email the person back if I know who it is and let them know to resend it in a different format.

But once again, if I don’t know the person sending something or the site, I’d just rather avoid. When in doubt, you click on Google and search. Nowadays there’s so much information on the internet, there’s no reason you can’t Google things and find an answer. It may not always be the right answer — that’s why you look at several searches before deciding which is the right answer.

Jamie R. Lopez, RPR
Roswell, N.M.

 

I use Ghostery for browsing the internet. Sometimes I have to “Pause Blocking” on a particular page I may be viewing because it won’t load pictures, but at least I get to choose. I also use Adguard.

Lisa Knight, FAPR, RDR, CRR
Littleton, Colo.

 

Regarding uploading of transcripts to the Web:

1)         There are programs that incorporate username/password, or just password, that is passed on from the uploader to the uploadee. It does make the receiver feel more secure if you convey a password in a separate email.

2)         There are programs where the uploaded document will expire. This needs to be conveyed to the receiver that they need to download the transcript before the period ends and the link becomes invalid.

3)         For even more security, you could use a program such as 7-Zip that encrypts the actual file, which then requires a password, but I would think this would be overkill for just a regular deposition transcript.

Dana Hayden, RMR, CRR
Fayetteville, Ark.

 

Our IT company, who is a Google house, handles our privacy as well as any updates and/or settings. It’s worth it to us to have our IT experts assess our requirements, and then build privacy and security around those requirements as a court reporting firm. We’ve also asked all of our contractors (reporters and videographers) to use Gmail/Google so we all use the same tunnel through the internet. That way we can share knowing, via email or Drive, we are protected. Or as protected as we can be since occasionally people click on links or download items that infect their systems but, knock on wood, none of those threats have made its way back to us, but it slows those infected down for days and/or weeks.

Jon Moretti, CLVS
Kalamazoo, Mich.

W3C issues uniform standard for creators and distributors of online video content

On May 27, Bloomberg BNA posted a story about new guidelines issues by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that address language translation, content description, and captions for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Read more.

Realtime and WiFi: Some things you really need to know

TechLinks_logoBy Christine Phipps

When being asked to provide realtime, it is the reporter’s responsibility to make sure that happens. Clients pay hundreds of dollars for this service and expect it to work. They don’t have an understanding of all the challenges that may come in providing this service, nor do they care. So, let’s discuss a few things that may help reporters ensure delivery of their realtime product.

Here are a few things I highly recommend not to do.

  • Do not connect to county or city or hotel WiFis, or anything of the sort. These entities do things like limit the bandwidth, particularly to people who are streaming, and while it’s more to stop video streams, realtime could be recognized as a stream since it’s continuous.
  • Public WiFi oftentimes cuts connections off after a couple of hours. Have you ever been in a hotel where just searching Google feels like you’re on dial-up? Well, that’s because sometimes the company makes it drag and will try to get you to buy the higher speed package. This is not a reliable choice.
  • Cell phones should not be used either as a hotspot or to create a local area network (LAN) to provide realtime. Have you ever used a cell phone and dropped a call? Exactly! This is not a reliable choice.

Should reporters need to provide realtime over the Internet and a hard-wire connection is not possible, I highly recommend hotspots (note that while the hardware for hotspots are mobile devices, this should be a separate device from a mobile phone). I have used the Verizon MiFi for about seven years, and it has proven quite reliable. Verizon has the broadest band of coverage in the nation; however, AT&T may work better in some areas of the country. Please do the research as to which provider may work best in that particular area. For example, I’ve heard that reporters in areas like Chicago and New York, which are crammed with high-rises, sometimes carry two and three hotspots.

Part of the key to delivering realtime every time is controlling all the things that are within the reporter’s control. If reporters use a router to provide a LAN for realtime or if they use a hotspot to provide realtime, those are their solid solutions, and they can use them in a variety of situations. I recommend hooking up a realtime feed for every job and carrying an iPad mini to connect to daily. Not only do reporters familiarity with the system by setting up every day, but, by controlling this one system, they then are in control of their process of elimination.

When requested to provide realtime, not only are reporters representing themselves and their firms, they are representing a nation of court reporters. Show up armed and ready for battle!

 

Christine Phipps, RPR, of North Palm Beach, Fla., is co-chair of NCRA’s Technology Committee. She can be reached at christine@phippsreporting.com.

EEG launches Web-streaming caption encoder

A press release posted on Oct. 19 by TVTechnology announced that EEG has launched the Falcon Web-Streaming Caption Encoder, a virtual caption encoder that offers captioning capabilities for live online content. The service connects live content producers with transcriptionists.

Read more.

Online video captioning law celebrates five years

Oct. 8 marked the five-year anniversary of the Communications and Video Accessibility Act being signed into law. The CVAA mandated that any program that was captioned on air would also need to be captioned when it was placed online. The Act also required that smartphones have accessibility technology built in that would allow for captions. NCRA was a key part of the coalition, which was made up of dozens of organizations, that helped push the CVAA into law.

“The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act has been instrumental in making captions an expected part of the Internet experience,” says NCRA President Steve Zinone, RPR of Canandaigua, N.Y. “There are still steps to be done to ensure that all online programming is accessible, but the CVAA has laid the framework for captioning more content that is both broadcast via traditional means and only made available online.  Thanks to our members who make this access available to those that require this important service, which is their fundamental right.”

Read more.

Expand with YouTube captioning

Photo by: Jil Wright

Photo by: Jil Wright

By Sue Terry

Are there markets for us outside of the legal industry? You bet! You need look no further than YouTube to get started.

Think of groups in your local community that have media content in either audio or video format. The search engines can’t access that content because it isn’t digital. In other words, it’s just not searchable.

Captioned content ranks higher with search engines than content that is not captioned. Use that fact to promote your service. Whether your community’s content includes council meetings, important radio programs, podcasts, training videos, or church broadcasts, you can make a difference for accessibility.

To help you market this service, the guidelines for captions and the benefits of captioned video and audio content can be found at the following link: dcmp.org/ciy/. (Ed. Note: This material is put together by the Described and Captioned Media Program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by the National Association of the Deaf.)

While there are many methods available to caption YouTube videos, you will find a couple of very simple methods at the following links:

youtube.com/watch?v=9K4WJs94FfY

youtube.com/watch?v=XJGiS83eQLk

Some simple YouTube control keys also make it easy to stop, start, pause, rewind, and fast-forward your videos. A video to the keyboard commands can be found here:

youtube.com/watch?v=WHCEBpA-x-Y

Keep in mind that these links are only scratching the surface of instructional content that is available. There are also software products on the market that make Web captioning even easier. Just do your homework, Google the how-to of captioning, and explore the possibilities. The services we are capable of providing to our communities are limited only by our own imaginations.

Sue Terry, RPR, CRR, a freelancer based in Springfield, Ohio, is a member of NCRA’s Board of Directors.

How do you sign new words?

A recent post on the website HopesandFears.com features an article that examines how new Internet-based turns of phrase are entering the sign language community. The article includes an interview with and signing demonstrations by Bill Vicars, the president and owner of Lifeprint, a company that educates through “technology-enhanced delivery of American Sign Language instruction, excursion-based instruction, and extended-immersion-based program coordination.”

Read and watch more.

NCRA Convention & Expo: Conference Sessions

Seminar_AttendeesEDUCATION OF GREAT IMPORTANCE TO COURT REPORTERS

For many reporters, NCRA’s Convention & Expo is not only a great way to catch up with colleagues but the premier opportunity to learn new skills and track emerging trends in the profession. Attendees at this year’s event experienced a jam-packed educational schedule that not only covered a wide range of topics but also delivered the information in various styles and with best-in-class presenters. In addition to the sessions highlighted below, convention attendees also had the opportunity to learn about Cloud storage, wireless set-ups, punctuation, stadium captioning, and much more.

THE INTERNET IS A CAPTIONER’S BEST FRIEND

Attendees explored the value of the Internet and how best to leverage its unlimited resources at this interactive session led by seasoned court reporter, captioner, and CART provider Alan Peacock from Mobile, Ala. Participants were encouraged to join the conversation and tweet their ideas before, during, and after the session, as they explored the endless search sites available online, including YouTube, news sites, and specialized sites that can accurately identify an unfamiliar term, song lyrics, and even the correct pronunciation of the name of a public figure such as a politician or an athlete. Attendees also learned how to setup a wireless hotspot to ensure quick access to the Internet no matter where they’re working.

A FUTURIST LOOKS AT THE FREELANCER

Changes in economic conditions, the advancement of technology, and evolving trends that are often viewed as threats just as often lead to opportunities, according to Adam D. Miller, RPR, CRI, CLVS, a freelance court reporter who has worked for a decade in Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del. In his presentation, “A Futurist Looks at the Freelancer,” Miller provided several examples of changing times once perceived as threats, such as the launch of the Internet, that have ultimately created opportunities for the court reporting profession. Once feared, the Internet is now relied on instead of a telephone book, a dictionary, and other once-popular resources. In addition, the Internet has led to court reporters being able to stream live video and audio and conduct deposition work where parties are no longer required to be in the same location. A current threat to the court reporting profession is the declining number of public sector jobs, warned Miller. But he advised attendees to seize the opportunity in the threat and work to identify new areas to which they can bring their unique skills as freelance reporters.

SEARCH DOGS

SearchDogs

What does a court reporter have in common with a search dog? “A nose for truth, acute hearing, and swift paws. No bones about it,” said Chris Bergquist of the Sacramento Fire Department. The Search Dog Foundation, based in southern California, takes in difficult-to-place stray dogs and trains them to find live human survivors of catastrophic events. During their presentation, search dogs Elvis and Kari demonstrated some of their techniques by finding a child hidden in a tube and climbing along difficult surfaces. “They know it’s real life; they know it’s serious. The dog will not quit,” said Elvis’ handler, Chet Clark of the Oklahoma Task Force 1 team. The search dogs provided the demonstration at NCRA’s convention in honor of Atlanta court reporter Julie Brandau, who was shot and killed in her own courtroom. In her memory, the Julie Brandau Community Service Memorial Project partnered with the Search Dog Foundation because of Julie’s life-long love of dogs. To date, the project has raised more than $80,000 for the Search Dog Foundation.

TEACHING AND MENTORING: THE KEYS TO THE FUTURE OF THE PROFESSION

A panel of educators and NCRA board members led a lively discussion of how individual court reporters can do their part to help attract, retain, and train court reporting students to ensure the profession remains healthy and viable. Nativa P. Wood, RDR, CMRS, an NCRA board member and official court reporter with the Dauphin County Court of Common Please, Harrisburg, Pa., provided an overview of the work of NCRA’s Vision for Educational Excellence Task Force. Its goal is to help invigorate and promote the court reporting profession. In addition, NCRA Vice President Glyn Poage, RDR, CRR, a court reporter from Helotes, Texas, noted that court reporting students view working court reporters as walking success stories and offered a number of suggestions on how NCRA members can better support court reporting schools and students. Also on the panel were Kay Moody, CRI, MCRI, CPE, director of education for the College of Court Reporting, who offered insights into recruiting and training tomorrow’s court reporting professionals, and Jeff Moody, CRI, president of the College of Court Reporting, who explained the certification process at the state and national levels, as well as NCRA certifications.

BRINGING CART TO YOUR COMMUNITY

With the help of local closed captioner and CART provider Karyn D. Menck, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, the Hearing Loss Association of America Nashville Chapter has successfully brought CART and captioning technology to a variety of community sites including live theater, leisure and recreational activities, educational events, and religious venues. Menck, owner of Nashville-based Tennessee Captioning, and Kate Driskill Kanies, president of the HLAA Nashville Chapter and state coordinator for Tennessee, shared their experiences with an ongoing promotion of captioning services, as well as tips on how to launch a similar effort at the local level. The speakers also explored with attendees how to obtain grant funding for equipment and software to provide the services, and how to create a successful blueprint that will lead local venues to collaborate with captioners and CART providers on a onetime, free trial basis, to help determine if such services are needed.

SECURING THE COURT: SAFETY TIPS FOR OFFICIAL COURT REPORTERS

In recent years, the U.S. Marshals Service has seen an increase in violence in courthouses. In a presentation designed to educate court reporters and members of the court family about safety and security, John Shell, senior inspector for the U.S. Marshals Service, provided attendees with valuable tips and best security practices, such as coping in an active shooter situation, recognizing an active shooter in the vicinity, and following evacuation plans. In addition, Shell gave his insights into best practices for responding to law officials when they arrive at a the scene of a shooting, training tips for keeping staff safe in violent situations, and precautions to take to help to prevent violent crime from happening in a courthouse.

BEST PRACTICES FOR CAPTIONING QUALITY

An interactive panel that included Carol Studenmund, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, Amy Bowlen, RDR, CRR, CBC, Darlene Parker, RPR, and NCRA’s Assistant Director of Government Relations Adam Finkel led a discussion on the issues behind providing the captioning services that allow all individuals to have access to news broadcasts, sporting events, entertainment, and other television programming. Frequently cited was “Captioning Matters: Best Practices,” a working document that outlines NCRA proposals to ensure that broadcast captioners, captioning companies, and video programming distributors are providing the most accurate, understandable, and timely captions for the end user. The best practices project specifi cally covers live, realtime captions rather than captions created in the post-production phase of video production. Currently, postproduction captions are expected to be 100 percent accurate with no exceptions. However, for live realtime or near-realtime captions, 100 percent accuracy is not a reasonable expectation. According to the panel, in October 2010, the Federal Communications Commission found that 70 percent of all complaints regarding captioning involved transmission errors. Despite the need to address these errors and how they unfairly affect accuracy rates, the panel encouraged captioners to hold themselves accountable to provide the most complete, factual, and accurate captions possible.

BRIEFING ON THE FLY FOR FASTER WRITING

Kimi George, RMR, a freelance reporter specializing in medical malpractice depositions, and author of the book Flip Over Briefs, encouraged audience participation in a session that examined the differences between left brain and right brain and asked whether court reporters are more right or left brain dominated. George told attendees that she believes reporters use both sides of their brain because they use their critical thinking (left side of the brain) to determine that they need a brief, followed by their creative thinking (right side of the brain) to create a shorter outline or a brief. Some reporters are better at briefi ng than others, according to George, because they have successfully trained their brains to create new outlines quickly. Because the brain is a muscle, George told the audience that they too could enhance their skills by training their brains and offered tips and strategies for creating new outlines faster, including practicing consistency in briefs, making main briefs the same every time before adding endings, and keeping things simple. She also suggested leaving out vowels and provided additional tips for writing medial briefs.

Featured seminars from the NCRA 2013 Convention & Expo in Nashville are available at NCRA.org/eseminars. Search in the “2013 Convention Nashville” category for more information.

Personal computing: VPNs: When sniffing your data is rude

As with much in life, much about security on the Internet depends on how much risk you’re willing to take, if you know. If you don’t know, much depends on how lucky you are.

Should you sit back and take your chances? “Sniffers” can make this risky, but a “virtual private network,” or VPN, service can put the odds back in your favor.

With Internet security in general, the

idea is to prevent hackers from finding ways into your computer, where they can capture your data, access your bank account or credit card, or take over your computer and use it to send out spam or take over the computers of others.

Many procedures are set up to protect you by default. Today’s computer operating systems come protected with their own firewall and antivirus software, though as usual better software can be had elsewhere through third-party vendors such as Symantec and Trend Micro.

Today’s best websites are protected through “Secure Sockets Layer,” or SSL, which encrypts information to or from the site and your computer or other device. Sites protected this way have Internet addresses beginning with “https” instead of “http.”

Passwords are required for many sites, and you can further your own protection by picking difficult-to-crack passwords that consist of a combination of at least eight letters, numbers, and special characters, with 10 or 12 being even better.

Banking and other websites holding sensitive data of yours typically require or give you the choice of two-factor authentication, such as asking you for the answers to selected questions you’ve previously given or texting to your cell phone a second temporary code or password when you try to log in.

Making sure you keep your operating system and software updated is also important in preventing hackers from finding cracks that let them find their way into your system.

In the office or at home, if you’re using a router, make sure it’s secured. You should have had to type in a security key, a type of password, to access it initially. The security key is often written on the outside of the router.

When you’re on the road, you should take special precautions. The free or lowcost Wi-Fi provided by many hotels, airports, libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops can be a great convenience. But not all such Wi-Fi providers provide a secure connection.

Secure connections require you to type in a security key or password provided to you by the facility. The best Wi-Fi security today is WPA2, with the earlier WPA a step behind. WEP is even less secure. And many facilities providing free Wi-Fi provide only unsecured connections.

The problem is packet analyzers or sniffers. This software serves legitimate purposes such as letting a company analyze its network traffic to best use its bandwidth or to monitor intrusion attempts. But the same software can be used by a would-be intruder sitting two seats down from you in the coffee shop. Such programs include Firesheep and Reaver.

At a Barnes & Noble bookstore once, I thought the connection was secure. But someone had captured my email address, password, and the email addresses of people I emailed. The next day my email recipients got an email impersonating me and making me sound foolish, a sophomoric joke probably by someone around the age of a college sophomore. It could have been worse.

Now I use a VPN service. Three highly recommended VPN services, getting good reviews in the computer press and anecdotally from fellow users, are Hotspot Shield (www.anchorfree.com), WiTopia (www. witopia.net), and Private WiFi (www. privatewifi.com).

In some cases a free, limited VPN version exists. When you’re protecting yourself in this way, it probably makes sense if possible to spring for the beefed-up pay version. You simply download and install the software before you use a public Wi-Fi hotspot. You can keep the software running all the time, or you can disable it temporarily when you’re back to using a secure business or home connection.

Other benefits of VPNs are anonymous browsing and access to content in foreign countries that may be be restricted to U.S. users.

VPNs use authentication and encryption to provide virtual private tunnels for your data through the public Internet. In some cases, with VPN vendors that have lots of servers, your Internet speeds actually increase. In other cases speeds can slow down slightly or remain about the same.

What it comes down to is: How sensitive is your data? How much risk are you willing to take with it?