LearnToCaption.com offers Translation Tune-Up for court reporters

LearnToCaption.com is now offering Translation Tune-Up, a webinar and a half hour of one-on-one training to help court reporters learn to cut editing time in half.

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Top reasons why you need to hire a court reporter

On April 16, Vents Magazine posted the top 10 reasons to hire a court reporter.

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Reminder: Registration for INTERSTENO Internet Keyboarding Competition closes April 22

Registration for Intersteno’s 2018 Internet Keyboarding Competition being held April 23 through May 9 via its website closes April 22. The online competition allows steno machine writers and other keyboarders to test their skills and find out how they rate worldwide. NCRA members who place in the contest will be listed in upcoming issues of the JCR and JCR Weekly.

Competitors will use the Taki software, which is a free download on the Intersteno website, and can participate on a day of their own choosing between April 23 and May 9. It’s up to the individual to decide how they want to enter the competition.

Court reporting programs can register groups of students and host a competition for a class or entire school in conjunction with the event. Court reporting students who are interested in participating should contact their instructor about registering.

For more information about the competition or to register as an individual contestant, contact NCRA at intersteno@ncra.org.

More information on the contest is available at Intersteno.org.

Interested in the Intersteno Internet Contest? Check out these stories:

Get a taste of international competition without leaving your office

NCRA’s Intersteno Task Force interviews the winners of the Intersteno Internet Keyboarding Contest

Expedite introduces new scheduling app

Expedite, based in Tampa, Fla., announced in a press release issued April 2, that it has launched a new app that lets attorneys, paralegals, and firm owners schedule support providers and service providers from their cell phones.

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TechLinks: The 2018 guide to Windows 10

Microsoft unveiled Windows 10 to the public almost four years ago, in September 2014. For people who are not early adopters and take a wait-and-see approach, now is the time to safely upgrade, especially if you’re purchasing a new computer. Here are a few good things to know.

Getting set up

Windows 10 Home users can’t defer updates like Pro users, but no one can put them off forever, and nor should they. Many of the updates contain important security patches and bug fixes.

Committee member Myrina Kleinschmidt, RMR, CRR, CRC, shares an article from SearchMaster titled, “Windows 10 and the Court Reporting Profession.” The article advises not upgrading to Windows 10 but instead suggests using what you are on until you need another computer and then setting up 10 on a new computer.

“My recommendation on upgrading to Windows 10 is to not do it,” says author Scott Friend. “Stick with whatever operating system you have right now because that is what your computer was designed to work with.”  Later in the article, he adds: “Purchasing a new computer with Windows 10 already installed on it is perfectly safe, and I would encourage you to do this.”

Kleinschmidt also recommended PC Magazine’s “10 reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10.”

“The five reasons I felt pertained most to reporting:  Startup speed and speed overall; ability to access and download from the App Store; touch screen; browser, Edge, started to drain your battery less than Chrome; and 10 is generally a more secure system,” says Kleinschmidt.

“As court reporters, we certainly don’t need our operating system to be updating right before we start our jobs,” says NCRA Technology and Realtime Resources Committee Chair, Lynette Mueller, FAPR, RDR, CRR. “Be sure to schedule the updates on your schedule. I love the metered connection option!”

Mueller recommended an article from TechAdvisor, a British website, that explains how to schedule Windows 10 to update when it works for you.

“The No. 1 complaint about Windows 10 is, of course, the continual updates,” says committee member Cheri Sullivan, RPR. She recommended a March 2, 2017, Register article that provides some background on the debate around the update procedures that are imposed by Windows.

The latest bug to come up with Microsoft is connected to the USB and onboard device. A March 6 ZDNet article includes a link that identifies the problem. The Feb. 21 HighDesertDiva offers an alternative fix.

“Let’s face it: Sometimes the Windows updates are not always great for court reporters. Just when you know you have all your settings streamlined and perfected, an update can ruin it all,” says Mueller. The instructions on the Microsoft website offer some information on how the “restore” function can restore your system to when a point when everything was working as expected. This option takes your PC back to an earlier point in time, called a system restore point. Restore points are generated when you install a new app, driver, or Windows update and when you create a restore point manually. Restoring won’t affect your personal files, but it will remove apps, drivers, and updates installed after the restore point was made.

Mueller says: “I know this link is a little bit older, but it is still relevant.” She also suggested an article on how to reset Windows 10 with Refresh Tool.

Don’t forget to activate an antivirus program. TechAdvisor notes that Windows Defender, which Mueller says is her chosen antivirus program and is built into the Windows suite, “now uses the power of the cloud to more quickly detect threats, and you can also perform offline scans. It’s on by default (if no other antivirus software was pre-loaded on your computer) and it does a great job, scoring highly in our roundup of the best free antivirus software.

Optimize your setup

TechAdvisor also offers information on how to keep your computer running at top-notch speed by controlling your startup programs.

DriverEasy.com gave advice on troubleshooting your microphone setup, which can be useful for audio sync users, especially those who have new computers.

Kleinschmidt suggested a TechAdvisor article that explains Virtual Desktops, which is now very easy through Windows 10, and which reporters may find useful.

If you want a magnifier tool, this New York Times article has you covered. And if you want to tweak your start menu, try this one, also from the New York Times.

TechRepublic offers some suggestions on new features that are available for 2018.

ITPro Newsletter identifies “17 Windows 10 problems – and how to fix them.” Sullivan pointed to several that are pertinent to court reporters:

  • 2, Can’t upgrade to latest Windows 10
  • 4, Windows update isn’t working
  • 5, Turn off forced updates in Windows Pro
  • 8, Enable system restore
  • 11, Fix slow boot times
  • 14, Stop Windows 10 using 4G data

Why closed captioning matters

The Delta Statement posted an editorial on April 1 that addresses the importance of providing captioning in movie theaters.

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NCRA member shows off realtime skills during high school courthouse visit

A story posted by the Tacoma [Wash.] Weekly on March 27 noted that NCRA member Kim O’Neill, an official court reporter from Tacoma, demonstrated her realtime skills to local high school students visiting the courthouse.

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CLVS certification process now more accessible and less expensive

NCRA members and others interested in earning the Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS) certification can now take the CLVS Mandatory Workshop online, making the certification process more accessible and reducing travel time and expenses incurred to certify as a CLVS. Registration fees for achieving the CLVS are also reduced with further savings for NCRA members.

In addition, the Introduction to CLVS education portion of the certification requirement will move to an online format after the NCRA 2018 Convention & Expo, which is scheduled for Aug. 2-5 in New Orleans, La.

Hands-on training and the Production Exam components are scheduled for June 8-9 at NCRA’s headquarters in Reston, Va. Following the hands-on training component of the certification process that will be offered at the NCRA 2018 Convention & Expo, all future hands-on training will be held at the Association’s headquarters in Reston, Va., and will be offered twice a year.

Jason Levin, CLVS, Washington, D.C., who chairs the NCRA CLVS Council will host a live webinar on April 16 for experienced individuals who have completed the new CLVS Mandatory Workshop online that will provide participants with the opportunity to ask questions about earning the CLVS certification and working as a professional legal videographer.

For more information about earning the CLVS certification, visit NCRA.org.

Realtime: It’s worth it

By Keith Lemons

THE STRUGGLE IS REAL. That’s a saying for just about everything nowadays. As court reporters, we know that it is real every day, all day long. When I was a puppy reporter, I had a judge who used to tell me, “Don’t interrupt anymore. Just throw up your hands when they’re talking too fast or on top of each other.” The problem with that is that whenever she said that in a transcript, the appellate court would naturally wonder what I left out. So I decided that I had to get better. I concentrated on learning how to brief on the fly, get longer phrases in one stroke, and write for the computer instead of myself.

I started out my career with the wonderful world of court reporting computers. All of them were written in dedicated computer systems that did not cross over for any other CAT program. As a matter of fact, you couldn’t even search the Internet or type a Word document or run an Excel spreadsheet because none of that had even been thought of yet. But we, the court reporters, had a marvelous new toy that made our work both harder and more meaningful. Imagine, if you will, being able to type two pages a minute when you used to only get one page per five minutes.

The struggle was real to try to figure out how to load a dictionary, how to write a dictionary, how to use a dictionary, how to edit a dictionary — all on a 2-megabyte disk — how to remember to plug in the machine, how to figure out if the cassette reader was really writing or reading that 300-page medical malpractice trial day you just had. But we learned. We adapted. We had to if we wanted to help our agency pay for that $50,000 Baron Data Center.

Later, when I became an official, I wrote for my newest piece of technology, the Baron Solo. It had 5-½-inch, dual floppy drives. The struggle was real to remember how to use this new technology and never, ever, ever use your magnet in the same room as your computer. (We had an electronic magnet system that bulk-erased our cassette tapes for the machines. If you used it near the computer, you risked either wiping out your floppies or causing damage to the electronics in the computer itself.) Then came the Microsoft revolution. We had yet one more machine to buy and one more operating system to learn. This one came with WordPerfect and learning the wonderful works of macros. No more Cardex! The struggle was so real that I accidentally wiped out my entire operating system trying to clear a message that popped up on my welcome screen.

Now we had to buy a new machine with a floppy disk drive in it. The struggle was real. In the early days of these marvelous inventions, we spent tens of thousands of dollars upgrading, upgrading, upgrading, all with no such thing as a legacy fallback.

The 24-pin dot matrix printer revolutionized multiple copy printing — that is, unless you figured in the hours spent trying to separate those carbon pages without destroying your clothing in the process. That struggle was real. So was ink in the machine. Try changing a ribbon without making everything around you purple.

Then the struggle became really, really interesting. In the latter half of the 1990s, a CAT program made real-time court reporting a reality. I got to watch a reporter write from her machine and have real words show up within seconds on a computer screen. I have no idea if her writing was pristine or 1 percent or even 5 percent untranslates. All I knew is it was beautiful. Music filled the skies; my heart was full. For the first time in a long time, I really wanted to be a part of something. It wasn’t just about the money anymore. It was something so new and so grand that I couldn’t even envision the possibilities of the future with it.

So I learned it. I bought more equipment, and I learned wiring and splitting and sending and receiving. It was a real struggle. I showed it to my boss, the judge. She didn’t want to have anything to do with it. But I was enthusiastic about it, so I kept asking her if I could just put a computer on the bench to see if my wiring was correct. She relented, but she made me turn the monitor to where she wouldn’t have to look at it. But she didn’t ever tell me to take it down. Pretty soon, she wanted me to angle the monitor so it would be more visible when she wanted to see the attorneys’ objections. Then she wanted to learn how to scroll backwards, then to search, then to write notes. Eureka!

Realtime (without the hyphen) had come of age. Next struggle was to get other court reporters to accept that our future was in realtime reporting. I felt like the most hated court reporter in the state at times because I provided something that 16 other judges in Wyoming weren’t getting. But when they saw it, they wanted it. (Without extra compensation, of course.)

Little did I know that this struggle would become the thrust of my presentations and seminars for the next 16-plus years. Of course, I’m talking about realtime for the average reporter.

Now the struggle is real because in order to become a realtime writer, we need to put away the things that we learned as a new reporter, that we thought as a new reporter, that we expected as a new reporter. We need to remember that the struggle is not with the machine, it is with our own expectations. We need to struggle to get to the next level of court reporting to make a difference, either in writing realtime or captioning.

The struggle is real; the rewards are great. Two months ago, I was taking a medical malpractice jury trial with several prominent attorneys, one of whom was intensely hard of hearing. I’ve been gently suggesting to him that realtime could help him. Finally, I just did what I did with my judge those many years ago. I put the realtime on his table and told him that it was free; but if he liked it, I would start charging the next day.

During the trial, this attorney would bring the iPad to bench conferences so he could see what was being whispered — something he hasn’t been able to do for years. Both attorneys used their iPads during the instruction conference to see what the construction of their sentences would look like on their jury charge. That reluctant attorney? He now has set two jury trials with me for the beginning of the year — with realtime. Two weeks ago, I did a realtime feed for a woman who was profoundly deaf, deaf from birth, who read lips but never learned American Sign Language. She read lips, but watched my screen like a hawk. She even got a kick out of a mistran or two that I made.

I know the struggle is real. This job can be the most difficult struggle day in and day out. But with our own self-improvement, learning realtime and becoming accomplished at it makes that struggle turn into satisfied accomplishment. I’m loving that struggle. You will too.

JCR Contributing Editor Keith Lemons, RPR, CRR, can be reached at k.lemons@comcast.net. This article was written on behalf of NCRA’s Realtime and Technology Resource Committee, of which Lemons is a member.

TechLinks: Improve your odds of getting paid with these apps

One of the concerns that weighs heavily on the minds of independent reporters and small- and medium-sized firm owners is getting paid in a timely manner. NCRA’s Realtime and Technology Resource Committee did the research into some online options to help you stay solvent.

Square

Square is a free credit card reader that can attach to your cell phone. The credit card reader, which can work with iPhones, iPads, and Android devices, will be sent to you when you sign up with Square.

As an independent court reporter, I do work in the courtroom,” said Committee Chair Lynette Mueller, RDR, CRR, of Germantown, Tenn. “There are occasions when an attorney has forgotten to hire a court reporter and then approaches me to ask if I can cover his matter as well. In the instance where an attorney is not known to you and you are unsure of the payment history, Square comes to the rescue. You have the ability to swipe their credit card on the spot for the attendance fee and never have to worry if you will be paid later.”

If you’re not already accepting credit cards, it may be time to reconsider. Among the benefits, according to Square, is that accepting credit cards can help you instill a sense of trust with your customers, showing that you are an established business. In addition, credit cards can help you bring in more customers and eliminate the possibility of bounced checks. If you are worried about security, the embedded chips in the most current crop of credit cards include sophisticated encryption to further protect you.

“Credit card payments can level the playing field with competition and bigger firms,” continued Mueller. She adds that Square is “great for online payments and makes it easy for your customer to pay you, convenient for the customer and clients, and legitimizes your business.”

PayPal

PayPal is a way to send money or make and receive online payments, although it can also be connected through a smartphone.

“I also use PayPal for my online credit card payments,” said Mueller. “I can direct clients to my website and a button is displayed where they can click the link and take them directly to my PayPal account. Some clients like the convenience and security of entering their sensitive information themselves online rather than telling me their numbers over the telephone.”

An article on The Balance considers some of the pros and cons of using PayPal for a small business.

Committee member Myrina Kleinschmidt, RMR, CRR, CRC, a freelancer and agency owner from Wayzata, Minn., mentioned that she loves Freshbooks billing software. “It is integrated with PayPal. There is a button where [my clients] can click and pay via PayPal, and then it is automatically marked as ‘Paid’ in my billing software,” she said.

Other options

PayPal and Square may be the most used, but they are not the only online options for accepting credit cards. A November 1, 2017, article on Small Business Trends offered 20 different suggestions. If neither PayPal nor Square meets your requirements, don’t give up; keep looking.

“There are two iOS apps (there may be an Android app as well) that I like for when you are with a colleague or friend and out for lunch, for instance,” said Mueller. “Perhaps the restaurant doesn’t like to split the bill for each guest. With either the Cash or Venmo apps, you can send cash for your portion instantly to the person who paid for lunch! You can use these apps for tipping your hair stylist or any other service provider. I rarely carry cash with me anymore. It’s so much more convenient to just use one of these apps!”