PERSONAL MARKETING: Getting the most out of LinkedIn

By Sara L. Wood

LinkedIn has become the premier place for people to improve their careers. No matter what part of the profession you are in, you can use LinkedIn as a tool to get ahead. However, some LinkedIn profiles are more successful than others. As you position yourself for success, here are six tips for optimizing your personal profile.

1) Showcase your certifications. You can do this two ways. First, make sure your certifications are listed after your name in your title. Even if your potential clients don’t understand what your credentials mean at first glance, certifications can add credibility to your profile. Next, explain what those certifications mean in the body of your resume. Other members of NCRA will know what they mean, but those outside of the profession may not. You worked hard to earn your certifications, so make sure you do everything you can help your clients understand the value you bring as a certified professional.

2) Set up your profile to get better endorsements. While you’ve been browsing LinkedIn, you may have seen the option to endorse others. Other people may have even endorsed you. If you have not yet used this tool, here’s how it works. The LinkedIn algorithm will automatically start suggesting endorsements on your behalf to your network based upon the skills you have listed in your profile. This means that you should begin by listing all of the skills you want others to see when they get suggested endorsement options. Here are some skills to get you started: speed, public speaking, management, videography, realtime, and CART captioning, to name a few. If you are stumped for what to list, take a look at some of your colleague’s profiles for ideas.

3) Increase your number of endorsements. The principle of reciprocity can often apply to endorsements. If you endorse others, they will be more likely to endorse you. To start building up your endorsements and make them count, take some time and endorse those who deserve your accolades. These endorsements should be sincere. Remember that when you are saying that someone else has a skill, you are publicly laying your reputation on this assessment. That said, giving honest endorsements may not only encourage others to endorse you, but it can also help build your social capital with other people on LinkedIn.

4) Assess the quality of your endorsements. As people begin to endorse you, they will have the option of writing in skills that you didn’t necessarily include in your profile. This can be both a positive and a negative. On the plus side, someone might acknowledge you for a skill you never considered. However, conversely, someone in your network may endorse you for a skill you don’t have. If you start to see skills rising to the top of your list that you don’t want to see, reach out to people you know and ask them to endorse you for the skills you would prefer to see at the top.

5) Update your resume, and connect with new contacts. It’s tempting to let your LinkedIn profile languish, but you never know which connections will get you more work. It’s critical to keep your resume fresh, and stay in touch with new connections. When you are out on a job, and if it’s appropriate and ethical to do so, collect business cards. (You may want to check with the firms you work for to be sure you understand the firm’s policy before approaching attorney clients.) If you have a connection, you can follow up with those people after the job on LinkedIn.  Also, don’t just send the standard template connection request. Use a personalized, genuine message when you reach out, and the person will be more likely to remember you.

6) Use a professional headshot. Or at least use one that looks professional. This is the first image that people will see when they come to your profile, and it will set the tone of your personal brand for the rest of their experience on your page. If you have that great photo of you in a bikini on the beach, you will want to think about the message that image communicates to your audience.  While it may be a fantastic picture, it may not convey your professionalism as a court reporter. Personal photos are best left for places like Facebook; again, unless that is the brand you intend to convey. If you have it in your budget, invest in headshots. Depending upon your area, they can range from the low- to mid-hundreds. Larger cities can be higher, so shop around. If you can’t afford the expenditure, put on your nicest business outfit, stand in front of a neutral background, and have someone take your photo. If you want to get a bit more in-depth, Google “how to take your own headshot,” and there are many professional photographers who can give you tips.

Sara L. Wood is NCRA’s Director of Membership & Marketing. She can be reached at swood@ncra.org.

 

TechLinks: 99 sites for professionals, instant gratification, and Audacity

TechLinks_logoThe NCRA’s Technology Committee’s email list recently pointed out a couple online articles that consider how technology can help you and how technology has changed what people expect.

The Muse posted a list of 99 sites that can help you organize your time, manage your money, learn new skills, and – well – provide a little well-timed distraction. Read more.

Re/code put together a series of articles on the new instant gratification economy. The last installation considered same-day delivery services. Read more.

Additionally, on the Court Reporter Technology Facebook group, Robin Nodland posted a how-to YouTube video for using Audacity to fix a corrupted Eclipse audio file that would not work outside of Eclipse. Watch the video.

Ways to hook up

NCRA’s Taking Realtime Awareness and Innovation Nationwide committee offers court reporters advice and inspiration on taking the next step in providing realtime, whether it is rebuilding a dictionary or providing guidance on the options for wireless display.

 

One of the hardest decisions court reporters who are planning to provide realtime face is deciding what equipment to use. Here is a guide on what the op­tions are. I’ve attempted to answer the questions that come up most often to help make the decision easier.

40-41-42-43Cables

What do I need to write realtime with serial cables?

Check with your specific CAT vendor for detailed information, if possible.

For one realtime hookup, a typical setup would look like the photo above. You will need two USB-to-serial adapters, which change a USB port to a serial port – most computers no longer have serial ports. You will need one for your CAT com­puter and one for the realtime computer. You also need a SEND adapter (which is blue in the photo above) and a RECEIVE adapter (goldenrod) and a realtime ca­ble. Depending on the vendor you buy your adapters from, the colors will vary.

If you already have purchased adapt­ers and cables that are not color-coded, here’s a great tip: Take a silver-colored Sharpie and label your adapters; write on the cable as well (if it’s black). Label the cables that go with those specific adapt­ers because you cannot mix and match adapters and cables from different ven­dors, i.e., Stenograph cables with Eclipse adapters or Steno Doctor cables.

*Note: Your USB-to-serial adapter will come with a “driver.” On some comput­ers, you will need to load that driver onto that computer so the USB-to-se­rial adapter will function properly. In the photograph, there are two different kinds of USB-to-serial adapters (one is silver with a blue adapter and one is silver with a blackish adapter). Again, check directly with your CAT vendor for their specific recommendations. I know I keep saying “check with your specific CAT vendor,” but it can make a differ­ence, and it is a step worth taking. They have tested and vetted the cables on their equipment and software, and they know what works best.

Need more information? Contact your  specific state TRAIN rep through NCRA.org.

For detailed troubleshooting information on USB-to-Serial adapters and installing drivers, go to the NCRA Store and purchase the Realtime Troubleshooting Pocket Guide, Version 2.

40-41-42-43_2What do I need to write realtime with serial cables to more than one computer?

You only need one SEND adapter (blue in the photo at left) to send your realtime feed to other computers. If you are sending your realtime feed to more than one computer, you need that number of RECEIVE adapters (goldenrod) and realtime cables as the number of computers you are hooking up. (Again, the colors may vary depending on the company, but the colors reflect what is in the photo.)

You also need a Multi-Line Block (pictured at left). How this all plugs in takes a little prac­tice, but once you understand how things work, it becomes clearer. It also becomes easier the more you do it.

You can purchase a Multi-Line block in the section of Target or Wal-Mart in the phone de­partment for around $5. The Multi-Line block piece of hardware is literally a simple phone splitter.

As you can see, from the CAT computer comes the USB-to-Serial adapter that plugs di­rectly into the SEND adapter (blue). The Multi-Line Block cable plugs directly into the SEND adapter (blue). Any and all computers you want to receive realtime feed will plug directly into that Multi-Line Block with their realtime cables.

At the end of the realtime cable will be the RECEIVE adapter (goldenrod), which then plugs into a USB-to-serial adapter, which then plugs directly into the USB port of a realtime computer.

40-41-42-43_3Stenocast

What is Stenocast?

Stenocast is a way to write realtime using a wireless Bluetooth serial con­nection.

You still have some hardware components to connect to your CAT computer and all realtime receive computers (the transmitter and the dongles/receivers), and you will have to load drivers onto every new real­time computer for the dongle to work. You don’t have all the messy cables to worry about with Stenocast, but it’s also not as easy as just joining a Local Area Network and starting to write (as you would if you were using a router). Some might say Stenocast is somewhere between using serial cables and using a LAN.

What do I need to write realtime with Stenocast?

Check with Stenocast for more specific information – they have a num­ber of different choices and prices with their various setups. Also, the Realtime Troubleshooting Pocket Guide has step-by-step instructions on how to send your realtime feed via Stenocast.

As you see in the photograph, there is the Stenocast transmitter that plugs into the reporter’s CAT computer (it’s not plugged into anything in the picture, however). You also have a red or blue dongle (a device that is connected to a computer to allow access to wireless broadband or use of protected software) that plugs into every realtime receive computer.

40-41-42-43_4

Router options

Why do you use a router?

To write realtime without using serial cables or Stenocast dongles.

What kind of router should I buy?

40-41-42-43_5

Wireless N-router with 4-port switch

Although any router will work to create a Local Area Net­work, check with your specific CAT vendor. They have good recommendations.

Can my software write realtime wirelessly?

Check with your specific CAT vendor. You may have to purchase a license from your CAT vendor or upgrade your software to allow you the ability to write wirelessly.

Does every router have internet access automatically?

40-41-42-43_6

Portable router

Unless it’s a specific Internet-ready router (like a Cradle­Point) and you are paying a monthly fee for the Internet usage, usually through your cellular provider, the simple answer is no. Although every router can have Internet ac­cess without the added expense of the cellular aircard (if you plug in an Ethernet cable that is wired for Internet service), when you plug in the power cord to the entry-level router, you will be able to create a LAN to output your realtime feed to (no Internet access). You obviously need to have Internet access if you are trying to stream your realtime over the Internet to another location offsite.

What’s the difference between the routers?

There are a number of different routers on the market to­day that allow you to do a number of different things. The routers in these photographs are entry-level routers (no bells and whistles). Once these routers are plugged into a power source, they create a Local Area Network, which all computers and/or iPads can “join” to be able to receive the realtime feed from your CAT computer.

Is a router easy to set up?

Yes. It takes less than five minutes. Every router is a little bit different, but the set­up is pretty generic and very easy.

You can always push the “reset” but­ton on the back of the router and start from the beginning if it’s just not work­ing. You can’t break it – really! And I ac­tually recommend people resetting their routers two or three times and setting it up again, just to become familiar with the process. It’s simple and quick, once you get the hang of it! You know what they always say: Practice makes perfect!

If you think you just cannot set the router up or it keeps you awake at night, take it to the Geek Squad (or someone you trust) and tell them that you want a secure router (with WPA2 security). Choose the password you want (one you will remember) and the name of the network (such as “Realtime”).

How do you use a router to write realtime to other computers/iPads?

When you plug the router in, you create a Local Area Network that all computers join (including your CAT computer). Through this LAN, your realtime feed is sent to all computers and iPads.

What happens if an attorney’s computer can’t join my network?

It’s always something! (I had that hap­pen to me, too!) Sometimes attorneys’ computers can be “locked down,” which means their IT department has added Fort Knox security to their computer and won’t allow them to load drivers or even have access to the Device Manager. Fear not! There is still a way!

Here’s the quick-and-easy fix to that! As you see in the two lower pho­tos at left, you can use an Ethernet cable (the same cables you use to plug your computer into an Internet source) and directly plug into the computer to re­ceive your realtime feed. That computer automatically joins your LAN by the fact that it is plugged directly into the router.

If I am using the smaller portable router (as seen in the photograph), I can “manually” cable in only one com­puter (because there is only one port in the back). But when I use my nor­mal router (Linksys E2500), I have four ports in back (and I always carry four extra-short Ethernet cables), so I can plug up to four computers directly into my router so the will automatically join my LAN.

Note: This “fix” is only for computers. It will not work with iPads or mini iPads because they don’t have that specific Ethernet port.

Want more details? Contact your TRAIN representative!

There is also a comprehensive troubleshooting grid for router issues in the Realtime Trouble­shooting Pocket Guide, Version 2 and step-by-step instructions on setting up a virtual router using Connectify.

40-41-42-43_7Write realtime to a tablet

How do I write realtime to an iPad or other tablet device?

Again, check with your specific vendor. Some CAT software have specific iPad apps and others work through a web browser and no apps are needed.

To write realtime to an iPad using iCVN (Stenograph) (a free realtime viewing app downloaded from the App Store), you do not need Internet capa­bility, only a Local Area Network. All you do it plug your router into a power source, which then creates your real­time LAN. When your CAT computer and all iPads are on the same network, you start your realtime file, open your app on the iPad, and connect. No ca­bles, no dongles, no hassle!

Note: You must purchase a specif­ic license from Stenograph to enable your software to write wirelessly.

Bridge is a free software program from Advantage Software that attor­neys use on their laptop computers to receive the realtime feed from the reporter via serial cables or Stenocast.

It also works wirelessly using Eclipse’s Shared Document option or Bluetooth network. Stenograph also has a free software program called CaseViewNet that attorneys can down­load and install on their laptop computer to receive a realtime feed via serial cables or Stenocast.

To write realtime to an iPad using Brid­geMobile, open your browser and enter the address: http://connect.eclipsecat.com:8880/, which will load the app from the server. Click the lightning bolt to connect, pick your session name, and enter the password, and you’re all set. You can turn the word index on or off, de­pending on your device’s viewing area.

Note: You will need to purchase a spe­cific license from Advantage Software (Eclipse) to enable your software to write into BridgeMobile. It’s currently free in its prerelease version. If you need more help, step-by-step instruc­tions on setting up your connection to an iPad using iCVN and for Bridge-Mobile are in the Realtime Trouble­shooting Pocket Guide, Version 2.

MyView for the reporter is not free. There is a license fee. MyView for attorneys is free. MyView will refresh if the CAT system has instituted the Bridge protocol that allows “refresh.” The Android version of MyView is available directly from Advantage Soft­ware: http://www.eclipsecat.com/con­tent/myview. Take note that Advantage Software is preparing to replace My­View with their BridgeMobile products.

Note: There is a local router server available from Advantage Software, so no Internet needed for local connec­tions with Connection Magic. No app needed, because it runs in the device’s browser, so any tablet, Android or iPad will work, as well as any computer with wireless and a browser.

 

Lisa A. Knight, RMR, CRR, is a freelancer in Littleton, Colo., and co-chair of the TRAIN Task Force. She can be reached at lisa@kicr.net.

Social media: Facebook is an “open” book

graphic_pantsdownA few months ago, I saw something on tv about medical students being warned not to post things on Facebook. They were talking about posting pictures of actual medical procedures. That in itself sounds bad enough to me, but the problem came in when, as the report stated, “Say you’re posting the picture of an operation on someone’s arm. And say in the picture you can clearly see a unique tattoo, a tattoo that could certainly identify that particular person. Well, guess what? You’ve just violated HIPAA regulations. Unless that patient gave you permission to post that, it’s like opening up that patient’s medical file to everyone who sees that post.”

We’ve all heard the reports about the teachers who have lost their jobs because they started ranting on Facebook about their students. We’ve heard about it in other businesses, too, where people divulged a bit too much information. We’ve heard that the police are now picking up violators of all types because they are stupid enough to post things on Facebook.

About six months ago, I was ready to drop my Facebook account. Things that I really thought should have remained private were somehow getting posted by other people, and it really got me to thinking. As someone said recently: “What you ‘like’ on Facebook really says a lot about who you really are.”

EVEN ONLINE, BE PROFESSIONAL

Say you did a depo, and you really impressed this attorney. Somehow or another, he lost your card, but he remembered your name. So he thinks to himself, “Hmmm, I wonder if I can find her (him) on Facebook?”

So he does a quick search, and he finds you. And I know, I know, people who are not your “friends” are not supposed to be able to see your page, but we keep hearing reports of it all the time. And there, splashed all over your home page, is your message: “Going out clubbing with my girls tonight!” — complete with a picture of you in a dress slit up to your navel and a margarita in your hand.

Look, I am not telling anybody how to live; that’s not what this article is about. What I’m saying is this: First impressions may be misleading, but they are lasting. If that did happen, is that the type of impression you would want to leave with a prospective client? So consider: What does your profile picture look like? What types of things do you regularly post? What kind of language do you use when you post things? Is profanity really appropriate?

Your life is an open book on Facebook, and you need to remember that at all times.

And speaking of what we post, one quick note that I think bears mentioning is content.

Back to the example of the medical students: Be very, very careful about your content and even about getting too specific about work. “Man, you should have seen the depo I just did! This stupid doctor works in Tampa and he’s” — Stop! Stop right there. You really don’t need to be saying anything more about that deposition. (I caught myself doing it just the other day; I thought to myself, what am I doing? I deleted the post quickly and tried to keep my comments very general for the rest of the conversation.)

Please, if you feel you need to vent about a job, or if you have questions, do it by message or by email. Again, you don’t know who could be looking at that post. It could be the attorney, or worse, the deponent. With every picture, with every post, ask yourself: “Would I want my mother looking at this?” That does it for me.

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.

Protect your computer

Protect Your Computer

Antivirus programs can protect your computer,
but which one is best for you?

While it is important to protect your computer from viruses, malware, and spyware, the wrong antivirus software can slow down your computer or interfere with your ability to realtime or caption. How can you balance protecting your computer with great computer performance?

First things first

Members of the Technology Evaluation Committee took up this question. All of them agreed that your first source for information should be your software vendor. To assist you in figuring out what antivirus software to put on your system, we asked the major CAT software companies what works best with their programs (see chart below).

Several of the vendors also noted that the settings for the program make a difference. So, if the antivirus program is slowing down your computer, one of the first things you should do is check the settings to see if it can make your CAT program an exception. Further information may be available through your software vendor.

Free antivirus software

Most of the Technology Evaluation Committee members use one of the major free programs, with several people mentioning AVG, Microsoft Security Essentials, and ESET NOD32 (see chart for additional notes). However, a few of the committee members take a belt-and-suspenders approach to antivirus protection and run more than one program. For instance, G. Allen Sonntag, RDR, CRR, of Oro Valley, Ariz., runs both Microsoft Security Essentials and AVG on his system. “I let Win 7 run Microsoft Security Essentials, which is free and part of the OS. I use AVG Free version, and I’ve never had a virus problem in the past few years, certainly since working on Win 7,” says Sonntag.

Pay for protection

“I use the less intrusive Microsoft Security Essentials software and augmented it with a program called malwarebytes, which is an anti-malware program. I chose to augment with the malwarebytes after lots of research and reading recommendations from some leading computer magazines. The great thing about using this combination is that once you purchase the Pro version of malwarebytes, it gives you a lifetime license for all future updates for it, no yearly fee, and currently that’s $24.95. That means you have the free protection from Microsoft, augmented by a one-time cost for the malware program,” says Sue Terry, RPR, CRR, of Springfield, Ohio.

And while some antivirus programs are just a free download away, Terry isn’t the only one to put money in to keep her computer clean.

Kim Neeson, RPR, CRR, CBC, CCP, of Toronto, Ontario, and Christine Phipps, RPR, of West Palm Beach, Fla., chose Norton 360 Premier 2013. Phipps says that Norton has a few additional advantages, such as storing passwords for browsers and offering 25 gigs of free online storage.

Nancy Bistany, RPR, of Chicago, Ill., uses prevx.com. “I purchased it several years ago at the recommendation of one of the executives at Stenograph, and I have never had an issue with it interfering with my hardware/software interface, especially in a realtime writing environment,” she says.

Robin Nodland, RDR, CRR, of Portland, Ore., says that her company uses Trend Micro Worry Free Business Services, an outside service that provides a hosted antivirus solution for smalland medium-sized business. While this option isn’t for everyone, Nodland notes that it comes with a lot of extras:

  • Web-based administration
  • Centralized control and settings
  • Keyword filtering
  • Attachment filtering blocking
  • Alerts via email
  • Outbreak defense
  • Proactive Web filtering to block known (triple verified) bad websites
  • Minimal impact on the local system

Choose your browser

A few people mention that choosing browsers carefully plays a role in protecting computers from viruses. Sonntag also mentions, “I use Chrome for my browser, and I find its sandboxing technology to be great in protecting me from bad stuff.”

Others find using a less well-known browser, such as Safari or Firefox, protects them from attack, because viruses are usually built to attack the most well-known program.

Christine Phipps, RPR, of West Palm Beach, Fla., who uses Firefox as her browser, says, “Downloads from the Internet go into a ‘Downloads’ folder first. All downloads are then checked by [my antivirus program] Norton, which will give me a ‘Safe to proceed’ message before continuing on with the installation process.”

One final note about antivirus software from the group is to remember to run updates for the program — whichever one you choose. Most of the companies update the list frequently as new viruses are developed or old viruses try new tactics. As Sandy VanderPol, RMR, CRR, of Lotus, Calif., says, “I’ve never had a virus, but I’m careful to have [the program] on auto update and run it.

VENDOR RECOMMENDATIONS AND SETTINGS

What the CAT software companies recommend

Software (company) Recommended antivirus program Additional comments Cost
Case CATalyst
(Stenograph)
Any antivirus software If errors occur, check your computer settings per “Avoid ‘CAT’astrophe
with your antivirus.”
Varies
digitalCAT
(Stenovations)
Microsoft Security Essentials (microsoft.com) and Avast (avast.com) According to the company, the antivirus programs that seem to conflict with digitalCAT are Norton,
McAfee, and Trend.
Both recommended programs are free.
Eclipse
(Advantage Software)
Almost all antivirus software works with Eclipse, but the company recommends Microsoft Security Essentials (microsoft.com). New viruses mean that antivirus software companies are always updating their programs, so updating their programs, so conflicts between antivirus software and CAT software can occur unexpectedly. For that reason, what works today may not work tomorrow. Advantage recommends Security Essentials because “no one is more motivated than Microsoft to quickly identify and resolve potential threats.” Free
Winner
(ProCAT)
AVG (avg.com) The company suggests users to make Winner an exception within AVG. Free


ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE CHOICES

Antivirus Program Website User comments Cost
AVG Antivirus FREE 2013 avg.com Lisa Knight, RMR, CRR, says, “I have never had an issue with it interfering with my realtime or other important aspects of my job.” Free
ESET NOD32 eset.com Jim Woitalla, RDR, CRI, says, “I like that it’s not a resource hog, doesn’t interfere with realtime, and provides excellent protection while surfing the net and filtering email.” Free
Microsoft Security Essentials Go to Microsoft.com, type in ‘Security Essentials,’ and find the download page for the free download. G. Allen Sonntag, RDR, CRR, says, “It’s easy on the CPU and usage cycles.” Free
Norton 360
Premier 2013
Norton.com Kim Neeson, RPR, CRR, CBC, CCP, says, “Norton was recommended by my computer technician, and I have not had any issues with it interfering with any of my court reporting work.” One year of protection for up to three personal computers is $59.99.
Prevx prevx.com Nancy Bistany, RPR, “I have never had an issue with it interfering with my hardware/software interface, especially in a realtime writing environment.” The cost varies, but it runs approximately $30 for a year.
Trend Micro Worry Business Services trendmicro.com Robin Nodland, RDR, CRR, says, “As a company, we no longer have to update software or definitions; it’s all handled  automatically and unnoticed by the user. “ About $28 per computer per year, according to Nodland.

 

Avoid “cat”astrophe with your antivirus

By James Kuta

For the vast majority of us, the antivirus software we use was already installed on the computer we purchased. Fortunately, Case CATalyst is compatible with all major antivirus software you might be aware of and a few you may not. Unfortunately, every antivirus, on occasion, interferes with the normal operation of software you want to use. The good news is a few simple setting changes can keep Case CATalyst from falling victim to well-intentioned yet overly protective antivirus software.

Adding an exception

Virtually all antivirus software gives you the option of excluding a program from its realtime scanning. This is commonly called “adding an exception.” The goal of the realtime scanner is to monitor the creation and modification of files and then block any perceived threats. By excluding Case CATalyst from realtime scanning, you lessen the likelihood of the antivirus interfering with the normal creation and modification of your jobs.

Each antivirus has its own steps for adding an exception and an Internet search or visiting your antivirus’ website will give you the steps needed. If your antivirus allows you to exclude a folder from realtime scanning, exclude the C:\CAT4 folder. CAT4 is the default Case CATalyst installation folder. If you installed to a different directory, exclude that directory instead. If your antivirus only allows for files to be excluded, exclude the CaseCATalyst.exe; it will be located inside of the Case CATalyst installation folder.

Scheduling an automatic full scan

In addition to realtime scanning, antivirus software performs what is commonly called a full scan. A full scan can take a long time to complete and uses significant computer resources, the same resources Case CATalyst needs. The goal of a full scan is to identify a threat anywhere on your computer. Typically, a full scan will start automatically at a scheduled time daily or weekly. You don’t want this scheduled time to be when you need those computer resources for Case CATalyst.

Again, each antivirus has its own steps for enabling, disabling, and scheduling an automatic full scan. What’s important is that you configure your antivirus to run the full scan on a day or at a time when you do not expect to be using Case CATalyst.

James Kuta is Stenograph’s product manager.

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?

My “secret” for better realtime

When I am preparing for a trial, I do a number of things to make my realtime better.

  1. I go to the law firms’ websites and copy and paste photos of the litigators, along with their bios. This helps me build my speaker ID in advance. The judge always appreciates it when I provide that information to him, together with a seating chart I create for both of us before he enters the courtroom.
  2. Next, I input into my job dictionary spellings from the witness lists, CVs and reports of experts, exhibits lists, citations found in motions, briefs, rulings, etc.
  3. I create a core list from those spellings, which, of course, alphabetizes the entries.
  4. I adjust the font size to a nice large size, and then print out the list.
  5. I keep that alphabetized “cheat sheet” on my work station in front of me during the proceedings. I cannot tell you how much it enhances my realtime output when I have inputted multisyllabic words as one- or two-stroke briefs and have the core list in front of me as experts are testifying in rapid-fire Q&A.

Using these preparation techniques together with Brief-It, I can provide amazing realtime, at least by my own reckoning.

What happened @ TECHCON 2013?

NCRA’s second technology conference offered ample chances for attendees to network and learn more about the profession and the continuing influx of technology in the field.

Ignite speaker Maureen Walsh (left) compared making mistakes to the explosion of the Hindenburg, but said education truly helps people work to their highest potential.

Ignite speaker Maureen Walsh (left) compared making mistakes to the explosion of the Hindenburg, but said education truly helps people work to their highest potential.

Providing ample opportunities for attendees to share information, exchange ideas, and expand their professional networks , TechCon 2013 attracted hundreds of legal professionals from different corners of the industry. The event, held April 19-21, combined the best of NCRA’s technology workshops with unique approaches to conference learning, tailored specifically for court reporters, legal videographers, and trial presenters.

In her welcome letter, NCRA’s president Tami Smith Keenan, RPR, CPE, encouraged attendees to not only enjoy the opportunities to network with their peers but to be excited to learn from a dynamic group of expert speakers.

“Get ready to be inspired to envision your future, discover new trends and technology, and advance your skills,” said Smith Keenan.

The program included nearly 30 legal tech labs over the course of the event, and the topics ranged from emerging trends and gadgets, taking your profession mobile, and international depositions, to focus groups and panel discussions that covered various aspects of legal technology.

SHIFTING LEGAL MARKETPLACE

One of the focus groups discussed selling and delivering tech-based services to attorneys. Panelists Mark E. Lassiter, J.D.; Geoffrey Thomas, J.D.; and Steve Crandall, J.D., CLVS; with moderator Christina Lewellen, MBA, NCRA senior director of marketing and communications, led the conversation on the ever-changing legal industry, including the changes in structural make-up of several law firms and how to communicate the value of services to clients.

Lassiter explained that in the current marketplace lawyers are struggling to find work, which is causing many law firm partners to look into restructuring their organizations and how they conduct business. Clients are pressuring attorneys to abandon the long-standing hourly approach to legal services in favor of flat-fee project management, he said, adding that this approach would provide clients with clearer expectations for what pursuing a lawsuit or defending a lawsuit might cost.

He suggested that court reporters and court reporting firms might be asked to consider restructuring their fee arrangement as well, in order to better align with and compete in this shifting environment. Some attendees in the room mentioned that some law firm clients have asked for quotes based on the number of depositions rather than the traditional per-page structure. Lassiter confirmed that this request is likely to increase in frequency for court reporters and court reporting firms. “Everybody, including the lawyers, has to give more and better service at a lower cost,” he said.

Thomas and Crandall weighed in on the importance of court reporters making the extra effort to sell the value of their service in order to ensure business. Crandall suggested offering transcript-synchronized video and maintaining active connections on social media outlets, as well as attaining referrals, as possible ways to increase business. “Explain the other options that are available and be sure to follow up, ask how you did, and encourage feedback from your clients,” he advised.

In addition, Lassiter expressed the importance of leveraging time spent in front of a captive audience. For example, rather than trying to set up a separate appointment in a packed schedule, catching a lawyer during the cleanup of a deposition may be the perfect time to express the value you bring to the table and how it plays an integral role in today’s market. “Know your market, know your customer,” he said.

TECHNOLOGY TRENDS

Another highlight of the conference included a cross-functional panel discussion about what emerging trends mean for the future of the legal technology industry, led by NCRA Executive Director and CEO Jim Cudahy. Referencing more than 6,300 survey responses, the panelists Brian Clune, CLVS, Tim Piganelli, NCRA Trial Presentation Professional, and Robin Nodland, RDR, CRR, discussed what the data indicates about court reporters, legal videographers, and trial presenters.

Other survey results reviewed in significant detail during the session included the popularity of Windows in the legal industry and constructive uses for social media. The importance of how social media is being utilized by the profession was especially brought to light by the fact that more than 40 percent of those surveyed said they access Facebook on a daily basis.

“You have to be the master of your social media,” said Clune. “Know what you are putting up.”

According to several of the speakers over the course of this year’s TechCon event, cloud-based computing, syncing programs, and Web security are crucial to the mobile court reporter, and many noted that as the profession transitions, it is important to keep an eye on these technologies and the changes that are still to come.

Daniel Bistany of Breeze IT, Inc., reminded attendees of the importance of securing your network and devices especially while on-the-go. After demonstrating a Google search of the word “password,” one search result displayed a list of more than 2,150,000 common passwords. This reinforced the need for careful selection of passwords, being sure to use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols, while avoiding common selections. Bistany also suggested that wireless Internet passwords be changed on a quarterly basis.

CERTIFIED LEGAL VIDEO SPECIALIST

CLVS Council members offered several hands-on sessions that provided small group instruction and gave attendees the opportunity to get up close and personal with common video deposition equipment. Session attendees also had the chance to ask questions about video depositions and CLVS Production Exam preparation. Gilley Delorimier, CLVS, presented the basics of legal videography. From basic professionalism to set-up and test runs, Delorimier made sure to walk attendees through a typical day on the job. He reminded the audience to “earn the business by consistently doing everything right.”

INNOVATIVE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

The Vendor Speed Dating and the Ignite session and reception were other highlights at this year’s TechCon. Vendors were each given five minutes during the speed dating session to share their company’s latest products and why they matter to the court reporting business. (For more information, be sure to read the full recap on this year’s TechCon vendors on the NCRA website at www.ncra.org/tcvendors.)

The Ignite session and reception, where learning is merged with entertainment, was back by popular demand after its debut at last year’s TechCon event. Ignite engaged the audience with six, fast-paced, fun, and thought-provoking presentations that engaged and entertained the audience. Visit NCRA’s YouTube Channel to see the footage of this year’s presenters, or visit NCRA.org/ignite. Check NCRA.org for updates about the event.

Captioning corner: From court reporter to captioner, Part II

Have you been practicing your local news, talk shows, and sports? I hope so and that you are still interested in becoming a captioner.

COST

Let’s talk about the costs associated with becoming a captioner. If you think you’d like to become an independent contractor, as opposed to an employee, you will likely incur the expenses of upgrading to captioning software, installing two land lines, and being sure you have reliable Internet. Some employers provide all of the equipment. Some provide everything except steno machines. Employees who work at home must also have reliable Internet.

TRAINING

Your next step should be to seek training. If you are going to be an independent contractor, I recommend attending a boot camp or working with a personal trainer. Some companies provide training, and you can find boot camps and personal trainers online. If you work with a personal trainer, she or he will review your files and help you attain 98.5 percent accuracy. You may be thinking 98.5 percent means a 1.5 percent untran rate, and that you’re already there. This is not related to your untran rate. Your untran rate thinks that the word humanity translated as “hue man tee” is perfectly acceptable because they are real words. In captioning, it is three errors. Use NCRA’s “What is an Error?” as a guide for grading your files. A general guideline is if you write 3,000 words in a half-hour with 30 errors, it is 99 percent accuracy; 60 errors would be 98 percent accuracy.

I hope that you will join the many that have gone before you to find a new, exciting, and rewarding avenue to utilize your skills.