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

TechLinks: Staying safe online

Nancy Bistany, RPR, found a list of five steps to take to make sure that you are protecting your privacy online. The how-to piece by VIPRE security reminds that it is always a good idea to review your setup once in a while. [Want to learn more about how the Tech Committee members protect themselves? Read the June 29 TechLinks “Understanding internet safety,” in which several of them shared their typical practices.]

Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, found a good list for security issues for lawyers in the SmallLaw blog, part of Technolawyer, which can easily be adapted for court reporters and court reporting firms. The article shares that security for a law firm should be a layered affair, covering physical, digital, and human factors. “I love the question at the end: What happens if you get hit by a bus?” Nodland says. ”I ask this of every one of our court reporters, whether they’re an employee with us or an independent contractor.” [Note that the article is free but requires a TechnoLawyer profile to access.]

Jonathan Moretti, CLVS, shared the July 2017 issue of Malwarebytes’ newsletter, which included an article on how to stay cyber safe. Tips included how to monitor your children’s internet habits, watching out for public WiFi, and avoiding credit card skimmers at ATMs and gas pumps.

TechLinks: Helpful products

Recently, the NCRA Technology Committee shared a few products that can help with work tasks. The products include a password management system, an education technology tool, a messaging app, and an audio solution.

Nancy Bistany, RPR, shared a blog post by Dashlane on the worldwide password problem: Internet users’ tendency toward “using the same, easy-to-remember password on all of their accounts over the security of using strong, unique passwords” on each different account. Dashlane is a password manager that can also manage other security-sensitive information, such as IDs and credit card numbers. “I use Dashlane for my Level 1 Password user,” says Bistany. “Its reminders are great.”

Bistany also shared an article from Forbes reviewing Learning Tools for OneNote. Microsoft OneNote is a now well-known note-keeping program, and Learning Tools is an ancillary product. According to the article, “Learning Tools for OneNote was originally created for dyslexics … [that leverages] a variety of already existing Microsoft technologies like Bing’s speech recognition, simultaneous audio text playback, and natural language processing … to make reading and writing more accessible to all students.” One of its features is fluent fonts, which allows “readers to adjust both the letter spacing and the number of words on the line.”

Teresa Russ, CRI, shared a link on the messaging app Slack. According to the company, it’s “oriented toward small-team collaboration” and has both a free and premium version. Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC, explained, “I use Slack to talk to a captioning team that we do a lot of events together with. All or most of the tech companies use Slack to communicate. It has awesome searching capabilities, and you can tag someone in the conversation to bring it to their attention.” Frazier added that he has his own name set as a tag so he gets an alert when the conversation involves him.

Finally, Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, shared a review of Trint, an audio and transcription app. Nodland pointed out a quote from the article that explains that Trint makes “it easy to compare the audio clips to the transcript as you’re verifying and editing it.”

TechLinks: Making the office more efficient

TechLinks_logoAn Oct. 10 article on The Wirecutter reviews Bluetooth keyboards. Their reviews are based on several characteristics, including price, size, and comfort.

An Oct. 6 post on PaperlessChase.com has a video tutorial on how to set up a paperless office scanner. It includes a recommendation of a specific scanner to use as well as a link to a paper on creating a paperless law office.

On Divorce Discourse, Lee Rosen talks about how his law office uses Slack for communication, including how they made the decision to use that particular application and what a day in the life looks like.

In an Oct. 4 post on Above the Law, Jeff Bennion makes four recommendations of simple tech upgrades for any firm. “Legal technology is not about sweeping changes to your practice as much as it is about small things that can be big time savers or help you work more efficiently,” says Bennion.

TechLinks: The relationship between humans and computers

TechLinks_logoFrom the NCRA Technology Committee comes a series of articles that explore the relationship between humans and computers, including a device that literally puts your keyboard and mouse into your hands, how social engineers create security breaches, and an adjustable laptop stand that changes the way you work.

A 2012 post on Mashable looks at The Leap – a proprietary technology that replaces a mouse and keyboard with the human hand. As Leap Motion CEO Michael Buckwald and CTO David Holz explain, The Leap is a “tightly-packed cluster of sensors” that “can see even subtle gestures in all five fingers on each hand at any given time.” The article was part of Mashable’s Tech Innovators Series. Read more.

On Law Technology Today, Rick Lutkus, an information security attorney, explains how social engineers’ skills and human knowledge can lead to serious security breaches. Using an example, Lutkus explains how people who are just trying to help out another human being are actually helping a social engineer have access to private personal and business files. This is the second article of a four-part series on information security and the law. Read more.

On the American Bar Association website, Nicole Black reviews the Pwr+ adjustable laptop stand. The laptop stand allows the user to alternate between sitting and standing while working, and Black shares some pros and cons to this particular product. Read more.

TechLinks: Nifty everyday gadgets

TechLinks_logoThe best new technology seamlessly integrates into your life. These gadgets recently shared on the Technology Committee email list may be the next thing you can’t live without.

The iFusion is a desktop phone that doubles as a deck for an iPod. Coroflot shared photos of the gadget here.

It looks like a Swiss Army knife, but this utility charging cable kit on gadgetsin.com charges your mobile devices through your laptop, no matter what USB connector they have.

A post on Cool Mom Tech showcases three stylish bags that can charge your devices, including a laptop tote.

End cord terror

The JCR provides newsworthy information on reporter-related products and technologies. This column is for readers to use in their research; neither NCRA nor the JCR endorse or critically review these products and services in any way. Statements of fact or opinion are the author’s unless they are specifically identified as NCRA policy.

 

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Christine Phipps, RPR, is an agency owner in West Palm Beach, Fla., and a member of NCRA’s Technology Review Committee.

Reminder: Check steno writer time and date

Daylight saving time ends on November 3. While people who live in one of the many areas that observe DST will be setting their clocks back one hour over the weekend, court reporters should also check the date and time settings in their writers to prevent any files from being lost due to repeating an hour.

Tech Wire: Speedtest.net review

Have you ever wondered if your computer upload/download speed was slow? I found this website, speedtest.net, a sophisticated broadband testing and analysis tool, and it showed me just how connected I actually was.

For example, I was transferring about 150 small files to a new computer via Dropbox, a cloud-based sharing site, and it just slowed everything down, including incoming email attachments. The speed in my SysTray was indicating 2kbps; however, since I was at home on my wireless, it shouldn’t be this slow. I ran speedtest.net and it showed me that my speeds were 2.10/1.99mbps respectively, not what my normal rates are. The problem was that the large number of files placed in Dropbox was maxing out my bandwidth, which was greatly decreasing my Internet speeds. The thing is that I was still able to deduce that I indeed was connected and these are the rates. I thought it was amazing that it even told me who the Internet Service Provider (ISP) was and the IP address, which can come in handy when streaming. This site even comparatively analyzes, via a grading system, your connection with others around the world.

This tool should actually be used on a fairly consistent basis and it will keep track of each time you test your computer, this is so you will know what your norm is, and then when things have slowed down, you can go to the next steps to diagnose your problem. Another reason to do this is because you can go to your ISP and see if you are actually getting the promised rates, and if you’re not, you can report your test results and the ISP will then have to analyze and improve your connection. Also, with many ISPs, you can purchase faster connections by opting to pay more.

Tech Wire: Data plans for iPads

Quick tips from the techies…

I was recently asked, “Do I need a data plan with an iPad if I want to write real time feed to it?”

All iPads models come with built-in Wi- Fi. That means every iPad can join networks (whether at a deposition for realtime or at Starbucks to surf the Web). If you want to access the Internet in more places, choose a model that supports mobile data and sign up for service from your carrier.

Believe it or not, having a data plan has nothing whatsoever to do with your realtime feed! The quick-and-easy answer: No, you do not need Internet access to use iCVN for realtime purposes. When using your iPad for realtime purposes, your CAT computer and your iPad must be on the same LAN (Local Area Network) to properly work. Yep, it’s just that simple! It’s as easy as jumping onto your local Starbucks’ Wi-Fi!

So the choice is all yours! Black or white? 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB? Wi- Fi or Wi-FI+Cellular?