Finding the right scopist is key to live editing of realtime

Finding the right scopist can mean the difference between providing quality draft realtime transcripts within minutes rather than hours, according to a panel presentation held at NCRA’s 2015 TechCon event held April 10-12 in Denver, Colo. Participants included Lisa Knight, RMR, CRR; Christine Phipps, RPR; and Sue Terry, RPR, CRR.

To help ensure a high-quality product and a quick turnaround of draft transcripts, freelancers should consider having at least two scopists they work with on a regular basis, as well as a good proofreader, however finding the right people to fill those roles many times is not easy. As part of their presentation, guest panelists shared with attendees the following tips to help find the right scopist and proofreader for them.

Find people who understand that having mistakes pointed out to them is not pointing fingers but rather an effort to help increase the quality of the final product. A good scopist and proofreader will also, over time, begin to recognize what words the court reporter has a tendency to miss a lot and be able to make those corrections quickly.

Most court reporters are reluctant to share information about their own scopists and proofreaders if they are good, so getting a recommendation can sometimes be difficult. However, forums for various software provide a good resource for finding high-quality professionals, and often times participants on these forums are actual software trainers as well.

Questions that should be asked when interviewing a potential scopist or proofreader should include:

  • What software and version of it do they use, and are they current on its functions and do they have tech support?
  • What kind of computer do they use and what operating system?
  • Is there a viable Internet connection in the area where they live?
  • Ask them about their error rates, as well as their dictionary entries and how many they make a day.
  • Find out if they have used dropbox before, if they have it on their computer, and if they have used it in scoping or court reporting jobs before.
  • How long have they been working as a scopist or proofreader and have they worked producing daily transcripts?
  • Finally, ask for at least three to five references and check them all.

Once you find a good scopist, the panelists suggested setting guidelines up front in regards to what you expect from them. For example, tell them if you expect a 24-48 hour turnaround on assignments all the time, and make sure they understand that you expect to be in constant contact with them to keep them current about upcoming jobs.

TechCon attendees learn tips to overcome writing realtime fears

Overcoming the fear of writing realtime can become easier if you follow the tips and suggestions shared with attendees of a session led by Marybeth Everhart, RPR, CRI, CPE, during NCRA’s 2015 TechCon event held in Denver, Colo., April 10-12.

Everhart told attendees that to help overcome their fears of writing realtime, they need to understand the three parts of the process: writing, connectivity as it relates to hooking up other people to be able to see the realtime being produced, and self confidence.

“If any one of these parts is troubling for you then you will have problems with producing quality realtime,” she said

Everhart said a good way to improve the quality of realtime writing is to make a commitment to practice writing for 15 minutes each day, followed by an analysis to see what mistakes were made.

“Don’t just do it; check it to see what mistakes you are making. Fixing something will improve your skills,” she said and added that keeping a diary of mistakes or focusing on writing the mistakes correctly will help increase quality by helping to create positive muscle memory and teach the brain to stroke the right keys and avoid the same mistakes.

Other tips Everhart shared included:

  • Consider what your translation rate is. Stop and take a look at it right way. If you don’t remember hearing a word that you have written, proofread your practice with the audio.
  • Keep current with technology and learn everything about the software you are using and the all of the features it offers.
  • Ask other reporters who are already writing realtime to help you with learning how to connect your realtime system.
  • View webinars and attend seminars that offer realtime information and training.
  • TRAIN groups are free. Join one or start one.

Everhart also said that it is important to teach clients about realtime and its benefits: “Show it to them and create a market for yourself. Go to someone you really like. Tell them the benefits. Provide them with realtime on a regular basis for free and follow up with a bill that you credit out to establish the value of the service for them.”

By doing so, realtime writers can better educate their clients on how realtime works as well as show them that while it is also not always perfect and that some terms might not come up correctly, the end product will be accurate, Everhart explained.  Set your clients’ expectations, she noted.

New look and navigation for NCRA’s TRAIN Web pages

By Michelle Kirkpatrick

NCRA’s grassroots project, Taking Realtime Awareness and Innovation Nationwide, has been ever-evolving over the last few years but with the same goals from its inception:  To create an influx of realtime reporters to meet marketplace demand and to allow court reporters to differentiate themselves from other methods of making the record.

The TRAIN program was designed for delivery in small group settings at the local level, and that continues to be the case. The TRAIN program relies on state associations and individual members to carry the message to reporters, which is the ideal way for court reporters to make the transition to realtime.

The new layout of the TRAIN pages on NCRA’s website offers several advantages:

  • Explanations and visual cues help users find specific content; e.g., information in the TurboTRAIN section helps individuals fast-track their personal learning experience regarding realtime, still divided into the original four strategic categories of Hardware Tips, Software Tips, Writing Tips, and Fighting Fears Tips, but with more structure and embedded hyperlinks for easier navigation.

Two of our newer sections lay out references and guidance for State Association Leaders interested in starting their own state realtime committees, and information and PowerPoint presentations for TRAINers and those creating small local TRAIN groups.

Clicking on either of these two folders will lead the user to step-by-step suggestions on how to start small TRAIN groups, including the original TRAIN videos, as well as a few other added gems for our state leaders.

The original TRAIN Dropbox folder has been phased out. Instead, all TRAIN materials are now accessible from the TRAIN home page through these folders mentioned above.

  • All content beyond the home page is now laid out in PDF documents, which makes it possible to save, share, and/or print those pages with ease.
  • The PDF pages have active hyperlinks embedded within them, making access to references still available to users even after downloading to their own computer.
  • All of the inner pages now have a “revised” date in the lower right-hand corner. This will aid users in being able to compare a document they may have printed or saved to their hard drive with the most current one on the NCRA website.

The TRAIN app for phones and tablets is still available for download from the NCRA TRAIN page with the credit going where credit is definitely due for that incredible piece of work. Thank you, Sue Terry!

And finally, in addition to hyperlinked lists of other useful outside realtime resources, there is a link to NCRA’s Realtime TRAIN Facebook page. If you are not a current member of the group, the TRAIN Task Force encourages you to join for some very worthwhile realtime-related discussions!

The TRAIN Task Force is currently hard at work revamping the content of the TurboTRAIN pages. It is a labor-intensive project, and we appreciate your patience! Realtime awareness is alive and well at Come check it out!

Michelle Kirkpatrick, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, is a member of the NCRA TRAIN Task Force and an independent realtime reporter based out of Denver, Colo.


Four tips for creating strong passwords

By Christine Phipps

In April 2014, researchers announced Heartbleed, a serious Internet security vulnerability that went undetected for two years, possibly affecting an estimated 500,000 websites through which hackers could conceivably pilfer login information, credit card numbers, and other data. And, every few months, another news report alerts people to more stolen passwords or hacked sites. As a result, security experts have widely recommended changing all your passwords for sites that have upgraded their security certificates.

But creating strong passwords is trickier than it used to be.

According to security expert Bruce Scheier, hackers are becoming increasingly adept at figuring out login credentials, thanks to fast and powerful computers running software that can crack encrypted passwords by guessing millions of variations per second.

Password crackers try common passwords like “letmein” with prefixes or suffixes such as “1” or “!” and run various dictionaries of English and foreign words and names along with appendages such as dates and replacing letters with symbols (such as “@” for “a”). These tactics are remarkably effective at breaking passwords and crack even those you’d think look pretty unguessable — passwords such as “k1araj0hns0n” and “Sh1a-labe0uf.”

So what’s the best way to create a strong password you can remember? Follow these tips to the best password practices.

1. Use a meaningful sentence

Scheier suggests turning a meaningful sentence into a password. For example, “This little piggy went to market” turns into “tlpWENT2m.” Notice that not only does this password use the letters from the sentence, but it uses both uppercase and lowercase characters and replaces “to” with “2.”

2. Never reuse a password

It’s imperative that you never use the same password on more than one website.

“Even if you choose a secure password, the site it’s for could leak it because of its own incompetence,” Scheier writes. “You don’t want someone who gets your password for one application or site to be able to use it for another.”

3. Use a password vault

My favorite password vault is LastPass because it will generate unique passwords such as “R4fpo9)mswH” and saves them in an online vault. Even better, the LastPass browser extension automatically fills in login credentials on every site for which you’ve saved a username and password, so you don’t have to try to recall difficult-to-remember passwords.

For $12 a year, get LastPass on your mobile device so you can access your passwords when you’re not sitting at your computer. LastPass is available on iTunes, Google Play, and the Windows Phone store..

LastPass’s Security Check feature was recently updated to alert users to which of their accounts may have been compromised by Heartbleed, as well as the last time a site’s password was updated and if the site has updated its certificates to make it safe from Heartbleed. Since LastPass is free to download to your computer, it’s a tool worth using. After downloading and installing LastPass, click the LastPass icon in your browser toolbar, then Tools menu, then Security Check.

4. Use two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by asking for something else in addition to a password before allowing you into a website. Google and Facebook, for example, offer to text you a code that you have to enter on a login page. Google has a page explaining how to sign up for their two-factor authentication service. For Facebook, enable ‘Login Approvals’ from the ‘Account Security’ section of your account settings page.


Christine Phipps, RPR, is an agency owner and freelancer in West Palm Beach, Fla., and a member of NCRA’s Technology Committee. She can be reached at


Reporting: Save yourself time and avoid errors

By Denyce Sanders

In the February 2013 issue of the JCR, I wrote an article on saving time using Case CATalyst. This year I would like to follow up on that and ask: Have you looked for ways to save yourself time and avoid errors? If you have, fantastic! If not, no worries. You can always start. If time is an issue, do one thing at a time or “schedule” yourself an hour of Case CATalyst time. You can make these changes anywhere – kid’s soccer game, coffee shop, watching TV.

Syncing with Dropbox

I use two computers. I have one that is strictly my depo computer with Windows and a home desktop that is a Mac and runs Parallels so I can access Windows on the Mac. For years, I would have to back up and go home and put the job on my home computer.

In 2014, I crashed two Windows 8 computers. I lost everything. Fortunately, I had my notebook so I could keep working, but I also had my system files and personal dictionary backed up to Dropbox. Dropbox is much more reliable than a flash drive, a CD, or Livebook. I thought I was protected but guess what? My Livebook wasn’t backing up properly. I also write units of every job to Dropbox. That way, I have a third copy of my job. For those of you with just one computer, writing units to Dropbox is an extra protection and safe, from, a theft, car accident, coffee.

Using Dropbox, whatever I write on my notebook automatically shows up on my desktop. Advantages? My rush job didn’t sign properly, my notebook crashed, I forgot to turn in my paperwork on my job but I scanned it and it’s sitting on my home computer. As of 2014, situations like these are no longer a problem for me. I still back up my job to a flash drive (old habits die hard), but I can now go home and work on that job just by sitting at my desk in my office. Didn’t finish my app page? No problem. Anything I might need at a job, I have synced with Dropbox. It has saved my bacon more than once! If I have an Internet connection, I can be anywhere and my computers will sync.

New field additions

I have since added a videographer field and time fields. I used to have a time caret. Now I no longer have to go the beginning and end of a file to find the start and end time and manually type it in. I replaced my time caret with the new field, and I modified a stroke that came with a new version of the Case CATalyst realtime commands dictionary and made it my own. Copy and paste is a wonderful thing!

Before every job, I create my job dictionary. I enter in everything from the caption, including witness name and lawyer names and whatever else I have. If the witness is an expert, I try and Google him and job define the usual things – schooling, type of work, etc.

I have a naming system for my apps and job dictionaries so that I can find them later on. For example, if the case name is Smith v. Jones, my app will be appsmith v jones and my job dictionary will be jdsmith v. jones. I do this for a few reasons. It saves time trying to figure out who the witness I took six months ago was; or, if the case sounds familiar, a couple key strokes will tell me. It is then very easy to find my previous witness and copy and paste those job dictionary entries into my job dictionary. The less I have to define, the more time I save and the cleaner my transcript – especially if they tell me that they want a rough draft … at the end of the day.

My app pages are separate because it saves time on filling fields. Using F8, I can just scan and fill them in versus having to clear them from the page. If a location changes, I have a caret in my master app file next to my Firm1 and Firm2 just in case I wind up at the courthouse instead of a law firm. The caret is an easy reminder and can be deleted quickly, saving a location error.

To save more time and to build on my personal system, I will do cert pages for continuing cases. For example, if I am working for both sides in a case, I create a cert page for each attorney with all the important parts filled out – who gets the original, bar number (field), etc. – and I name each cert file with the name of the taking attorney. So when I am putting the job together, all I have to do is choose that cert file and voila, done! Everything auto fills in –the date, the witness name, the attorneys. The only thing that I should be filling in on a cert page is the caption and that should be copy and paste! Everything else should be a field or a placeholder.

However, I rarely fill in my witness_name field anymore. I have discovered the Define Fields tab on the translation screen. Here I hit “w” for witness name, and I predefine it. I also predefine my exhibit placeholder, too, so when I write realtime, Smith Exhibit 1 comes out Smith instead of my wit_name exhibit field.

Using a briefcase

I use the little black/yellow briefcase at the top of my tool bar for continuing cases, which has a number of advantages. All my witnesses are in one location. My dictionary now becomes a “case” dictionary and that means that any define using k-define will go into that specific dictionary. I do, however, use j-define per witness for things like home addresses and children’s names, etc., that are not part of the case and really only specific to that one witness.

Core lists

I create a core list for my scopist/proofer on large cases or depos with lots of spellings. A core list is useful because it allows me to have all my spellings in one file that I can save and edit. A core list can be used on any job, is easily uploaded to Dropbox, and can be named anything I wish.

To create a core list simply be in the job I would like to create the core list for, go to tools and create core list. It is that easy. Once created, it’s a .txt file so I can modify it and save it/rename it, whatever I need.

There are various ways to do things, and this is my system. I know some reporters do every job as a case. I know some reporters who cut and paste from a previous witness (shudder) to do their beginning and ending pages. This is a tremendous time suck. Some reporters rely on their scopist to do their front and back pages.

Give yourself a time-saving gift certificate this year! I promise you, it will pay off.


Denyce Sanders, RMR, CRR, is a freelancer in Houston, Texas. She can be reached at




TIP OF THE MONTH: Realtime USB tips and tricks

By Keith Lemons

Are you realtiming for yourself or for others? How do you know what USB port is which? Windows boxes are all fairly standard in that if you install a USB peripheral in a particular USB port, it will always use that physical port’s settings.

Let’s say you have a laptop with four USB ports. You set up your writer on the one closest to you and the setup program assigns a COM Port 3, in my example. If you plug your writer into that physical port, it will always be COM Port 3. You have just configured that physical port, but only that physical port. The other 3 have not been configured for your writer. So always plug into that port. I’m going to make the intuitive leap that you will then go into your CAT system and note what port your writer is sending from. If not, here is the two-minute warning. Know your CAT system well enough that you know how to label which port goes in and which one goes out.

Next, take a look at what you may have to plug into your other USB physical ports, such as a software key, a wireless mouse, a Bluetooth dongle, a realtime cable, or something else. You have to know which port you plug them into because you are configuring only that port for that particular peripheral.

Here’s a good thing for you to do if your realtime is infrequent and you are scared you’ll forget what the numbers are. Make a little sticker to put in your case or on your machine or on your computer, or in your courtroom desk drawer, if you have one. On that card or sticker, put the following information:

  1. The name of your wireless network, and your password, or if you are scared to put down the password, what a memory question would be to ensure that you remember it.
  2. The COM port numbers and location on your computer of the USB peripherals; e.g., front left – machine – COM 8; front right – USB mouse; back right – Bluetooth – COM 6; back left – CAT dongle.
  3. The password to your Caseview Net or Bridge or Bridge Mobile or other realtime receive software that you have to issue to the clients so they can receive your realtime.
  4. Get the Realtime Troubleshooting Pocket Guide at the NCRA store. This was written by the Realtime Systems Administrator committee (specifically Sandy VanderPol, RMR, CRR), and I will tell you, it’s worth the $52. This will help you troubleshoot connections to different software problems.

Keith Lemons, RPR, CRR, is a freelance court reporter in Brentwood, Texas, and a JCR Contributing Editor. He can be reached at

Cross-border court reporting: A brave new world

By Kim Neeson

To set the scene: a case tried in two courtrooms – one in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and one in Wilmington, Del.; videoconferencing  required so that Toronto can see Delaware, and Delaware can see Toronto, including the two judges, the witness, the questioning attorney and the exhibits; two sets of court reporting teams – one in Toronto and one in Wilmington – with two sets of realtime streaming – one emanating from Toronto and one from Wilmington; and only one certified transcript of the entire proceedings delivered by 10 p.m. every night.

The quick facts:

  • 23 days of joint trial evidence
  • Over 5,500 pages, with many days with experts being over 300 pages in length
  • Thousands of exhibits logged
  • More than 20 fact witnesses and more than 20 expert witnesses called

This is the stuff that technical nightmares are made of, yet despite some occasional glitches, the reporting teams, consisting of Lorraine Marino, RDR, CRR, and Gail Verbano, RDR, CRR, of Wilcox & Fetzer in Delaware; Deana Santedicola, RPR, CRR, and myself, Kim Neeson, RPR, CRR, CBC, CCP, of Neeson in Toronto, rose to the occasion and delivered the best technical and transcript services our profession has to offer.

Managing a large undertaking such as the Nortel Networks bankruptcy trial is no easy feat. Neeson took the lead with regard to the management of the trial from the court reporting perspective. That undertaking involved hours and hours of management time that allowed us to ensure:

  • The reporters in both locations had screens for viewing both the videoconferencing and the exhibits.
  • The reporters had an audio feed from the audio-visual company that was of high quality and could be used both for recording and listening purposes.
  • The hard-wired Internet connections in both locations were secure and that the reporters would solely have it for their own use.
  • LiveDeposition, our stream provider, coordinated protocols for each stream location to ensure easy connectivity and an “once only” type of setup for the reporters and the users of the system; in addition all parties who were allowed to view the stream were set up in proper groups (hundreds of invitations were involved).
  • A dedicated staff member was trained for trial technical support, transcript production of both the rough draft and the late night certified, and management of the repository and exhibit hyperlinking.

As the reporters on the joint trial, we had to work through many issues before we walked through the courtroom door, such as:

  • How would we jointly indicate the swearing of witnesses, the various examination types, the court designations, recesses, start and end times, exhibits, and indexing, just to name a few issues. The list is long when you start to go through a standard transcript!
  • Develop the protocol for who would be the “cert” reporter and who would be the “check” reporter
  • Develop the protocol for merging of transcripts and the responsibility of each reporter in their jurisdiction
  • Agreeing on how to split billings and actual court days
  • Spellings – Canadian or American or both?

Remember, we were dealing with two completely separate jurisdictions in distinct countries. A small example: while the U.S. identifies the clerk of the court as “The Clerk,” in our jurisdiction we call that person “The Registrar.” We had two judges – they were identified as “The U.S. Court” and “The Canadian Court.” Nomenclature became an interesting point of debate. Canadian courts use the term “Direct Examination” when American courts use “Examination in-Chief,” and since we didn’t want to be biased toward any one court, we agreed we would insert “Examination in-Chief/Direct Examination by” in order to capture both jurisdictions’ parlance.

We also needed to ensure as little editing on our merged files as possible. Lorraine and Gail are on Eclipse; Deana and I are on Case CATalyst. We used RTF file conversions in order to import files into our respective systems. One interesting tidbit: When creating an RTF from either version of software, do not open that RTF file before sending to the other reporter. It took several telephone calls with our respective software support providers to find this out. If the RTF is opened before sending, weird formatting gremlins seem to get implanted. For example, one night the RTF from Delaware had some steno in it – but yet when looking at the RTF in Word, it was perfect! So if you learn nothing else from this article, use this piece of information as a take-away when dealing with your fellow reporters on a job share!

As you would expect, our first week was a fairly stressful, intense one, with technology glitches – such as no audio feed, no Internet access at times and therefore no streaming or uploading to our scopists, and the odd loss of videoconference feed. We decided ahead of time that if the witness was called in Delaware, then the Delaware team would be the cert reporter and prepare both the rough draft and final transcript; if the witness was called in Toronto, we would reverse. We had days when each team performed both duties when multiple witnesses were called. Whichever team started the day as the cert reporter, however, would provide the entire day’s rough draft; there was no time to piece together bits of a rough draft; we saved our energy in that regard for the final certified transcript.

We were very grateful to see that all questioning attorneys were present in the venue where the witness was called; that made life a little easier for the cert reporter. The check reporter would be available to provide any areas that couldn’t be heard, or where there was a technical difficulty, to assist the cert reporter. Lorraine had experienced tremendous audio difficulties when reporting at the pretrials when all audio was by teleconference. We didn’t know what to expect going in whether these issues would continue or would be resolved.

Due to the combination of high concerns about the ability to hear all parties in both courtrooms from one location and the fact that both courts wished to have their own reporters present, all parties agreed that each jurisdiction would have their own reporter, but only one transcript would be ultimately produced.

For the Canadian team, I can tell you it was a bit of an adjustment to see counsel addressing our court ungowned. Our attorneys are fully gowned (but no wigs, which I’m sure everyone is grateful for). I also found some accents difficult to get a handle on, particularly one lawyer from Boston, although I think the London and Scotland experts gave all of us the most run for our money.

Court reporting on the Nortel trial was one of the most challenging jobs of our collective careers. But above all, it was a pleasure to work with such a talented, dedicated group of reporters who made our profession proud. No digital recording system could ever perform this work, and it is yet another reason why steno reporting combined with technology is a winning combination.


Kim Neeson, RPR, CRR, CCP, CBC, is a firm owner and freelance court reporter based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Neeson has earned NCRA’s Realtime Systems Administrator certificate. She can be reached at



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


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.


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

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.


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.


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?


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?


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:, 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:­tent/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