First, let me address the obvious question:

Why Cheap and Sleazy?

The short answer: "Why not?"

The long answer: Once upon a time I spent a year in a web design and development program, where we learned HTML, all about tables, frames and JavaScript ... and this site uses no frames, just a few tables, and very little JavaScript (unless you count that little bit of code that keeps my site from being framed in someone else's site) ... so, that's the cheap part.

As for the sleazy part, if you're here looking for pictures of nekkid folks, you'll just have to settle for my friend, Mr. Flash iPod!

A "Flash" iPod

This is about as sleazy as this site will get, thankyouverymuch -- unless you count some of my jokes, of course ...!

Also, Cheap and Sleazy refers to shortcuts, tips, tricks and ways to do things a bit differently for court reporting students and other Students o' Steno ... and, as a few people have told me, the name is easy to remember!

Fair warning: Some of the pictures on my site link to other sites. If you don't click them, you may miss something ...!

Finally, to paraphrase the words of Dave Barry:

"If anything you read on this website makes you want to sue me, I was joking. Ha! Ha!"

Thanks, Dave!


"Who Writes This Stuff?!?"

Why, I do, of course ...!

My name is Glen Warner ('gdw' on a forum or two), and I am -- well, was -- a court reporting student at the (now closed) Seattle branch of the Court Reporting Institute ... and I am currently enrolled at The College of Court Reporting Simply Steno Plus, where I am working on my 100s.

As for how this site came to be, well, there's a sort of history that I wrote to satisfy the curiosity of a magazine editor ... and you can read that here.

I also do some updating every so often ... but first, if this is your first visit to my (cheap and sleazy) abode, you should check out what's here.

I also, on occasion, solicit articles from other writers! If you have a Stenograph Diamante and don't mind sharing your thoughts with the readers of ol' cheap and sleazy, send me an e-mail! I am gdwarner (at) cheapandsleazy (dot) net. I'd like a review that's a bit more substantial than the quick look I provided in my Technolust II piece ... and that can only come from someone that has one, and has used it for a while!

CSR Nation badge

Join me ... on CSR Nation!

Mein Facebook Page

Feel free to join me on Facebook as well!


30MAR13 Update

This Just In ....

The Real Reason Why The Munchkins Suffered

The Real Reason Why The Munchkins Suffered

Dee Boenau Does it Again!

Well, pretty much!

By now, I'm sure you have all seen the video of captioner Dee Boenau, Mark Kislingbury and Marc "Simply Steno" Greenberg on the Daytime show ....

Mark Kislingbury, Dee Boenau, and Marc Greenberg on Daytime

Mark Kislingbury, Dee Boenau, and Marc Greenberg on Daytime

For those of you who did not, feel free to click the picture.

For those of you that already saw the video, you might want to click that picture as well ... and while you are watching the video, pay close attention to Dee's writer.

Did you notice it? Could you tell what it was?

If you recall Dee's last on-screen appearance on "Daytime" (see the 19SEP10 update ... and scroll down a bit), she was using a Passport -- or more specifically, a "Fire-Breathing" Passport:

Dee Boneau's "Fire-Breathing Passport"'

Dee Boneau's "Fire-Breathing" Passport

In that new video, gone is that "Fire-Breathing Passport" of yesteryear ... but that begs the question: What is it?

Dee Boenau's New Writer

Dee Boenau's New Writer

Turns out it's a new writer from Advantage Software, as shown in this link:

http://www.eclipsecat.com/forum-topic/new-writer-debut

For the click-shy, here's the blurb and the pictures from that link:

GREG SEELY: We didn't intend to let the cat out of the bag this early, but Dee really wanted to use the new writer, and opportunities for that kind of free publicity don't come along every day.

We aren't releasing any details at this point, except to say that it contains some amazing new technology that you're going to love -- and, since Nancy already asked about it, that it has an internal microphone. Here are a couple of pictures to tide you over:

Generation II Closed

Generation II Closed

Generation II Opened

Generation II Opened

I'll post more details (and update Technolust II) when I get them!

And Speaking of Advantage ....

... they're already talking Eclipse 6.0 ... and you can see those tidbits here:

http://www.eclipsecat.com/content/whats-new-eclipse-6

It's a video ... and if you read the copy of the transcript in the video, you might notices some interesting stuff ... like so:

• Eclipse 6.0 will be keyless

• An internet-connectible version of Bridge is coming

• Multiple editors can work on the same document at the same time

There was also talk about a dictionary builder which will take a pair (possibly more) of documents, analyze them, and tell you which words in those documents you will need in your job dictionary!

I'm fairly sure I'm saying that incorrectly, but that's essentially what it does.

Looks pretty good!

Coming up in the Not-Too-Distant ....

By the way ... if you watched Dee's latest video, you might have noticed that she intends to compete with Mark Kislingbury in his April attempt to break his world record speed of 360 wpm.

Well, what you might not know is that two other writers for Cheap and Sleazy may be joining Mark and Dee in that attempt!

That's right ... I'm talking about Kathryn "Do-It-Yourself-Shim" Thomas and Stan "Young Man With a Gemini" Sakai!

Wish them good luck -- er, skill!

Ann Record Wants You (yes, *YOU*!) to Get Outta CR School!

... and she offers advice on how to do that here.

The Speed Teacher and Windows 7

About a month ago, I got an e-mail from a gal who was looking for the Windows 7 versions of The Drill Machine. I pointed her here, and asked her if she had seen my (still unfinished) article, "A Match Made in Heaven," and she hadn't ... so I gave her the link.

She thanked me ... and a few days later, she asked about a Windows 7 version of The Speed Teacher.

I gave her the above link, but the files were missing ...!

Undaunted, I sent Steve an e-mail and asked if he could send me the files ... and, after a couple weeks or so, I heard back from him (yay!). He set up a page for me to download the files for the Windows 7 version of the Speed Teacher for that reader, and I zipped the three files and uploaded them to the Cheap and Sleazy servers ... and now that she's already downloaded it, the rest of the world can get it here.

Don't forget to read the Read Me ...!

14MAR13 Update

Small update this time out.

I can hear those sighs of relief out there now: "(*Whew!*) I was scared that Glen was going to write another book and call it an 'update!'"

Wise guys ...!

This time you're in luck ... because this (short! I swear!) update is to announce a new article ... so stretch yourself out, fire up your laptop and writer, and work your way through "Da Dreaded Dueling Digit Duo Drills" ...

As an added bonus, it looks like you might be able to get away with doing these drills while you're watching TV -- especially since the idea is to get these finger patterns into muscle memory ... and if you have one of those practice keyboards from yesteryear --

Steno Diva Deluxe Practice Keyboard

Steno Diva Deluxe Practice Keyboard

-- you'll be all set! Here's mine:

My MacBook Pro and Steno Diva Deluxe Practice Keyboard

My MacBook Pro and Steno Diva Deluxe Practice Keyboard

Alas, I have stuff to do right now (like, say, upload this update), so I'll have to work my way through those drills ... later!

Enjoy!

Coming Up Real Soon Now

I will FINALLY FINISH that article on Facebook for your reading pleasure.

Hopefully it will be enough to get those of you who are on the fence about Facebook to join -- at least to check out the numerous court reporting-related groups.

I will also finish that article on watching TV -- without actually *having* a TV.

Or cable, for that matter.

The big holdup with that one was my planned dependence on a Firefox Add-on that has been blacklisted by the guys and gals at Mozilla ... so the method I use (sans said add-on) will be what I tell you about ... but fair warning in advance: Owing to my experience with the Ask.com toolbar that Internet Explorer installed for me -- *WITHOUT* asking my permission first (grrrr!!!!) -- using this method can lead to viruses infecting your system if you use IE while doing so ... so don't do that, okay?

Okay!

Well. Gotta go! Have fun with Da Dreaded Dueling Digit Duo Drills ...!

24FEB13 Update

Well.

I don't want to point any fingers, but SOMEBODY really screwed up a couple months ago.

Seems that certain somebody promised an article by Jill Driscoll, Captioner on how a captioner uses Twitter on the job ... and ... well ... that certain SOMEBODY then neglected to provide a link to said article -- which has been on the Cheap and Sleazy Servers since (gulp!) December 11th ... of 2011!

Captioner Work Shoes

Jill Driscoll Demonstrates "Bunny Slipper Nirvana"

Oops.

In my defense, I *DID* need Jill to make a few corrections, which she did, eventually ... but I still neglected to make the article public.

Oops. Sorry, Jill!

On the plus side, Jill is hard at work on a review of her new writer for you ...! Can't say when it will get here, but when it does, you won't have to wait nearly a year before I -- er, a certain SOMEBODY -- publishes it!

Anyway, Jill's article is here:

http://www.cheapandsleazy.net/jill_tweets.html

(*Hangs head in shame*)

Cheap and Sleazy Takes Argentina by Storm ...!

Well, sort of.

A few months back, I got an e-mail from Nicolas Marino, the editor of a magazine called "Revista Taquigr."

Nick was wondering if I would write an article on Cheap and Sleazy for his magazine, and I said, "Sure!"

That was in June, I think.

So I dashed off a few pages, explaining how Cheap and Sleazy came to be, and sent it off ... and promptly forgot about it ... until a few days ago, when I sent an e-mail asking if it had been published ... and it had!

You can read the article (as printed) here.

... and if you don't happen to sprechen sie Espanol, you can read the English translation here.

In the "Couldn't Resist!" Department ....

In honor of National Court Reporting and Captioning Week, the NCRA put up a few badges for use on social networks (say Facebook). Here's one:

NCRA's Captioner Cover Badge

NCRA's Captioner Cover Badge

There was some grumbling about how there wasn't one for students, but one magically appeared shortly thereafter, thanks to Kansas reporter Ksenija Zeltkalns, who mentioned the grumbling on the NCRA's Facebook page:

NCRA's Student Cover Badge

NCRA's Student Cover Badge

I, of course, grabbed that one ... but before I made it my profile picture, I ... um ... modified it a bit:

The Cheap and Sleazy version of NCRA's Student Cover Badge

The Cheap and Sleazy version of NCRA's Student Cover Badge

Well. You had to have been there!

18FEB13 Update

Have you Heard? It's NATIONAL COURT REPORTING AND CAPTIONING WEEK ...!

http://miglioreassociates.com/2013/02/15/blog-page/court-reporters-make-congressional-record-in-more-ways-than-one

That's right -- February 17-23, 2013. Grab those tripods, and hold them high with pride --!

11FEB13 Update

The Semi-Annual Trimming of the Main Page ...!

Yes, that's right ... Cheap and Sleazy was getting a wee bit "long in the page," as it were ...! I did a "Print to .pdf" exercise on it the other day, and the main page hit a whopping ninety-four pages(!) ... and, since I try to keep the main page to about 50 pages, that necessitated a couple of new Archive pages: Archive VIII and Archive IX.

I've also done some tweaking under the hood on many of the pages ... seems I had a few HTML errors that were repeated throughout the site, mostly through sloppy copying-and-pasting or changes that were made in the XHTML spec that I wasn't aware of ... but no matter; fixed them all (I think!).

Before I get to the new stuff, here's a wee bit o' leftover Christmas stuff for my fellow Mac users:

Twas the day before Christmas and here on the 'Net

And I, in my sweatpants, and beat up old sweater

I was staring at Facebook and starting to sweat.

I wanted to post to my friends, with great care,

The Holiday wishes I wanted to share.

 

Had just settled down and was writing a letter.

When suddenly my computer started making a noise --

A grinding and whirring -- the kind that destroys.

 

I tore off the keyboard and poked 'round inside

I jiggled and wiggled and picked and I pried

And what to my wound'rous eyes did I see?

But a small bearded fellow just staring at me.

 

He said, "There's no chimney, so I started to worry --

There's so much to do and I'm in such a hurry.

I looked for your Windows, but alas and alack ...

I just couldn't find them... You're using a MAC!"

 

I told him the HP I used to be using

Had virus control that was always found snoozing.

I had tired of crashes and the Microsoft rabble

And had finally switched to the products of Apple.

 

He smiled and he winked cuz he knew it was true.

He also had dumped all those things from Big Blue.

He boarded his sleigh which was pulled by some deer

And he shouted, "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!"

And One More ....

Yeah, You Probably Shouldn't Do That.

Yeah, You Probably Shouldn't Do That.

I'm sure my readers know better than to emulate poor Harvey ....

In the "Sitting on the Pitty-Pot" Department ....

I'm sure I'm not alone in this, so I'll just come on out and say it.

Over the last few months, some of those pesky "life issues" have reared their ugly heads. You know the usual suspects: Rent, work, etc., etc. ...!

On this end, it appears that my tech writing skills have not been growing with the field (What? An entry level tech writing position's requirement includes being a Linux system admin? Are you frelling serious?!?), which means that my finding work is difficult at best ... and my electronic tech skills have atrophied enough such that I can't find work in that field either.

Of course, it doesn't help that when I got out of the Navy, I was so p*ssed off that I vowed never to work on electronics again ... but on the plus side, I did keep my word for quite a few years! :o)

Little Ugly A*SZ Jeff

Little Ugly A*SZ Jeff: "I suck!"

(Did you click Little Ugly A*SZ Jeff's picture?)

Anyway, for me that means re-training ... so in April, thanks to the VA's VRAP program, I will be attending one of the local community colleges to get myself trained up as a Biomedical Electronics Technician ... which basically means I'd be doing preventive and corrective maintenance on all the equipment in hospitals they use to deliver medicine, jump-start a heart, etc., etc. ...!

Oddly enough, technically this job violates one of the principles I went by when I was looking for another career after my tech writing career got eaten by the "Dot Bomb" and, after a quick stint as an aviation techcnical writer, 9/11 killed that off, so the hunt began for a new career in a field not affected by the vicissitudes of a certain market sector (ha!) ... so I narrowed my search down to the medical and the legal fields.

The medical field was a big "no-go" because of my "No Sick People" rule, which essentially meant no medical work ... and now I'm going to violate that principle by becoming a Biomedical Electronic Technician.

Oops.

At least I won't be wiping anyone's, ah, tushy, so that's a plus.

Anyway, it's a two-year degree program, but the program manager says I can finish the core courses in one year -- which is good, considering that the VRAP program only lasts for a year. Besides ... everyone knows you can CLEP a lot of the lower-division courses (um, you all DID know that, right? *AND* that veterans get reimbursed for every CLEP test they pass?), so that will take a year off the degree.

"Dude --! What About Steno?!?"

Good question!

I'm still in Marc Greenberg's Simply Steno program, so I'll be continuing with my steno studies as best I can.

On the plus side, I remember enough of the electronics math to coast through the first couple of courses, so that's something ... but we'll see.

On the housing front, I recently moved into my own place (no roomies, just me -- and this would be the first time I've lived on my own, ever (stop laughing!)), also thanks to the VA.

My place is bigger!

My place is bigger! And There's Nothing Pink In The Place, Either! (Kinda liking that couch, though ....)

It's a nice two bedroom, one bath place, not too far from school. No internet access yet, though (which is why this update is two days late) ... but Soon.

As for why this would be my first time living on my own, I began living with my girlfriend after high school, joined the Navy, got married to said girlfriend, separated from my wife, got out of the Navy, stayed with my grandmother (and got an amicable divorce from the aforementioned wife), then moved in with a gal I found on Craig's List --

Former Roomie

My Former Roomie

-- then after that, another girlfriend or two (and no, not at the same time), and now, my own place.

Where was I? Ah, yes ... life issues.

Recently on Facebook, I found an interesting narrative that I wish to share with you. Those of you going through "life issues" of your own might re-think after reading this one, as I did ... but first, meet Teresa Russ:

Teresa Russ

Teresa Russ

Teresa recently passed her California CSR (details in the narrative), but she has been working as a CART provider in the meantime.

This is her steno story:

I started theory in 1984.

I had to quit day school. Found a full-time job and went to night school for 10 years. I made no progress. I had some nasty bosses who made my life miserable.

I had four surgeries, which means I had to take time off from school.

My grandmother became very ill, and I was very close to her (more time off from school).

I had numerous car problems and was involved in several hit-and-run accidents.

My mom and brother were both dying of cancer. After my mom died, my husband helped me go to day school full-time. Just before I was eligible for qualifiers my husband suffered a stroke and later a total hip replacement (more time out of school; my husband has recuperated but still has some stressful challenges).

I did very well in day school. I took my first CSR in 2008. I was excited. After 13 attempts, I finally passed it (13 is a good number).

I had to omit some challenges, but I think you get the point: Never, never give up on your dreams. If you want it bad enough, stick with it.

I'm a praying person. That's my secret. #PersevereAgainstAllOdds

Thank you for allowing me to share that one, Teresa! As for me and my comparitively mild life issues, the message is clear:

Suck it up, Buttercup

Message Received!

It might be a while before I can get back on my writer though ... but we'll see!

Small Update ....

Teresa reports that -- well, let me do some copying-and-pasting:

The day of the CSR my husband had a terrible virus. He was regurgitating the whole trip to Sacramento. I couldn't believe it. I thought, "What is going on?"

The next day I caught whatever he had. You can laugh at this part: He said, "I don't care. We have to get you on this plane."

You had to be there. #smile

Thanks, Teresa!

"I'm Getting It, I'm Getting It ...!"

(*blink*)

"... Aaaaannnddd it's gone!"

I'm sure all students o' steno are famililar with (or will be, for those of you in Theory) the above ... and yes, I've been there and done that (far more times than I care to admit!), and will be back doing it again soon!

In the "Mildly Interesting" department, I found the same thing happening in another area ... this one inspired by one of my "Different Dictation-" related guests ... in this case, Russell Targ, one of the founders of the government's "remote viewing" program.

Specifically, I was playing with Dr. Targ's app on my iPod Touch called "The ESP Trainer:"

ESP Trainer:  Good Beginning

ESP Trainer: Good Beginning

Basically what you're supposed to do is guess which color you think the computer will select, then click that color. If you're not sure, you can guess and hit the Pass button, which will tell you whether or not your guess was correct. You only have 24 chances per session. When you're right, your score increments, a nice sound plays, and you get a nice picture ... like this one:

ESP Trainer:  Image and ESP Ability Present Score

ESP Trainer: Image and "ESP Ability Present" Score

So at one point I was doing rather well ... and I said to myself (yes, you guessed it ...) "I'm getting it, I'm getting it!"

Oops.

At that moment, two things happened:

(1): The nice sounds stopped playing for me, and

(2): Every choice I made from that point on was wrong ...!

You'll be pleased to know that as soon as I thought the first iteration of "that phrase," I knew I had screwed up ... but I couldn't stop myself from uttering those unfortunate words!

Well. Since I was on a roll (before uttering that ... unmentionable phrase, that is!), I decided to try again ... only this time, I tried something different.

It took a couple of tries, but I finally got a really good score:

ESP Trainer:  Psychic, Medium, Oracle!

ESP Trainer: Psychic, Medium, Oracle!

I only got 12 out of the 24, though (and no, that's not my score up there) ... and apparently this is the highest praise the app gives ... but it was still ... satisfying! :o)

As for what I did differently, I covered the top of the screen where the score is displayed, partially covered the lower portion of the screen where the number of trials are displayed, and I turned down the sound somewhat ... and that's how I got that 50 percent score.

As for how it felt, it was like I could suddently see a pattern in my mind: Blue, green, green, yellow, red. When I listened to that intuition and hit the colors in that sequence, it (usually) worked!

Usually.

Just like in steno, you have that "internal editor" that likes to "fix" stuff for you ... and that is something else to learn to ignore.

As for what was happening, I suspect that when I was doing well, I was engaged in a right-brain (artistic, musical, psi) activity ... but when I looked up to see what my score was, I was engaging in a left-brain (logic, reading, etc.) activity ... and that's how I killed off the good run I was having.

The trick, of course, is to definitively relate this to steno ...! I'm sure there's a link between the two; just have to figure out how to make it work for me.

And you as well, of course (though some things should go without saying) ...!

Until then, there's always the Red Dot Secret ....

The Cost of Schooling

Dollar Woes

Snap out of it, George!

Of late, there have been many reports from CR students who have maxed out their financial aid, and are being kicked out of their schools(!), with ginormous student loan debts to pay back!

A lot of these students would have been better off if they had been able to find a school and pay a flat rate -- say, $5,000 -- for their entire training.

Marc "Simply Steno" Greenberg and I talked about this a few years ago, and at that time, he said he wished he could teach theory as well as speed in his program, but it just wasn't feasible.

Like I said ... that was a few years ago!

If you know anyone that is thinking about getting into CR school, send them here:

http://www.startran.com

Some of you might recognize that address as the website of the Star Tran theory. If so, you're right, because that's exactly what it is.

If you've been there before, then you know that the look of the site is a bit ... different ... and that's where Marc's announcement comes in!

Seems that he and Star Tran founder, Marlene Struss, are entering into a partnership: She teaches the theory, then the theory students get access to the Simply Steno Plus program for the speedbuilding portion of their steno adventures ... all for $5,000 ($1,300 for the theory portion).

And you don't have to pay for it all at once.

"She's putting all the daily schedules together -- including teaching videos and testing and such -- and she's grading the weekly tests -- meeting with students online if they need it," Marc said.

"She's doing everything related to the teaching parts. I'm providing the teaching platform and promotion and such."

All at a price point close to Court Reporting At Home's program.

So if you know someone thinking about getting into this field, it just got that much less expensive cheaper!

"And Here There Be New Stuff ...!"

Yes, that's right ... I have acquired a new article or two for your reading pleasure!

First, for those of you struggling with medical terminology, I have not one, but TWO articles for you ...!

First, there's Briefly Medical, which tells the story of a helpful guy who offered to turn a .pdf into a Word document, and ... well, had trouble.

The above-linked article is the result.

And, speaking of medical, every once in a while, someone will ask a question about steno for one medical term or another, and I would send them to Greg Adelson's rather lengthy post on Readback.org.

Since that web address is a bit hard to remember, I decided I'd ask Greg for permission to post his article here on Cheap and Sleazy ... and he said yes!

You can find that article here:

Got Medical?

Next, there's an article that explains how CR school isn't like ... well, a typing class!

This one is a reprint of an article I found sometime back that explained how speedbuilding classes worked by a guy who fought his way through CR school ... and is now captioning for the President of the United States: Joe Strickland.

You can find Joe's article here:

Congratulations, You've Succeeded ... Now, FAIL!

Next up: The practice regimen of Mark Kislingbury's star student, Melody Among, who finished Mark's school in a mere seventeen months ... and she tells you how she did it in her article, "My Practice Regimen:"

My Practice Regimen

And lastly (for now ...!), CRAH student Stacy Metz has answered the challenge and posted a review of her Stentura Fusion ... and you can read that here:

http://www.cheapandsleazy.net/fusion.html

CRs on TV Redux

Sometime back (if you clicked the link, scroll up a bit; look for "Court Reporters on TV"), I mentioned that I had a screenshot of a working reporter doing a cameo on USA Network's "Suits."

To that end, meet Cynthia Yan:

Cynthia Yan

Cynthia Yan

Cynthia had the pleasure of appearing in the episode "Dirty Little Secrets" in the first season (air date: July 14, 2011) of the aforementioned "Suits." Here she is in action:

Cynthia Yang Hard at Work

Cynthia Yan Hard at Work (and yes, that's her on the left; actress Sharon Leal is stealing the scene from Cynthia on the right)

She described her experience in a blog entry which is now gone, but I did manage to find this cached version ... and for the click-shy, here's what it said:

A Star is Born!!

An article written by our very own Cynthia Yan

Friday, May 20th, 2011.

The Canadian Centre for Verbatim Studies (CCVS) is Canada's only college specializing in the training of court reporters and broadcast captioners. Students can go onto careers as independent reporters or many apply to work exclusively with ASAP Reporting Services. ASAP has offices in Ottawa and in downtown Toronto and has been "exceeding expectations since 1995." When CCVS was approached by the producers of NBC's new show "Suits" early in May 2011, they were looking to showcase real court reporters in the series. The owner, Kimberly Stewart, instantly thought of Cynthia Yan and fellow ASAP reporter, Amy Harkness. Cynthia works exclusively for ASAP Reporting Services and was thrilled for the opportunity to show the world what court reporters really do. Read the following for an in-depth look at her experience on the set of "Suits."

My Camera Debut

The behind the scenes of a TV show production have always been a mystery to me. You hear about makeup artists and hair dressers fussing with actors, sound people holding boom microphones, and of course the director telling the actors on set their vision of the perfect scene. Never in my life did I think I would see it first hand. I was asked if I wanted to be the court reporter on an upcoming television taping for an NBC show called Suits. I jumped at the once and a life time chance!

Sure, I was excited to sit in the makeup chair and have hair and makeup people fuss over me, but I was more excited to have the chance to represent real court reporters. I'm the deal deal. I'm not a paid actor pretending for TV. For once, a legal show was actually going to portray court reporters in the right light.

I have to admit, it is a real pet peeve of mine when some legal show shows a court reporter in the background writing on a steno machine on top of a table. It's either that or they are typing on the machine as if it were a keyboard. I know a lot of people think court reporters are just the invisible person in the room, so it was my opportunity to show people what we really do.

As soon as I signed in, the word spread like fire that the real stenographer had arrived on location. A number of extras on set asked me about real life court proceedings. I used that as my opportunity to educate anybody and everybody that would listen.

I ended up explaining court processes. I also gave demonstrations on my steno machine to extras, makeup staff, production crew, and the assistant director. They were all fascinated with the fact that I could write everything they were saying and that it would appearing on my Diamante screen and laptop screen.

When it came time to shoot my three scenes, I played my role true to form. I wrote like I normally would on the job, and followed the proceedings. The director asked me to look down at my screen in a couple of scenes (something I never do), but I did it for the sake of the camera. Aside from that, everything was true to what I do every day on the job.

I was so thankful to have the privilege of the once and a life time experience, but one of the production staff said to me that they were the ones who were thankful, because they had a real court reporter on set.

--Cynthia Yan

Well done, Cynthia! Hopefully, they'll let you talk on-screen next time!

And for those of you that don't know, if you speak on screen (in the US, anyway), that makes you an actor, and, therefore, subject to the rules and regulations of the Screen Actor's Guild, which means she would make more money -- even if she only says ONE WORD! That's why myself and my fellow "tech experts" on the set during the shooting of "The Hunt for Red October" didn't get any lines! :o)

"Not so Fast There, Buddy! What About That TV Article?!?"

Ooh, good question!

It's on hold; seems that a rather crucial add-on for Firefox to make that work has been disallowed by Firefox! Hopefully it will be re-authorized soon.

And Speaking of TV ....

Recently, one of my favorite TV shows ended: "Fringe:"

Fringe, from sharetv.org

Fringe, from sharetv.org

During that final episode, Walter, the resident mad scientist, handed his son a box of bullets he had made, saying something along the lines of, "These are antigravitic bullets. When you shoot an Observer with one, he'll float away with the wind."

Naturally, his son asked him why would he want to invent something like that?

Walter said exactly what I would've said in that situation -- and I actually DID say it at the same time Walter answered: "Because it's cool!"

And sure enough ....

Dead Floating Observer

Dead Floating Observer

Well, okay ... so you had to have been there.

But it was pretty cool when we both said the line at the same time! :o)

"And Speaking of TV," Part Duh

I was watching an episode of the French Canadian series, "XIII -- The Series" the other day, and as the end credits were rolling, I was about to switch to my Mac's Desktop to delete the file, when something interesting caught my eye.

I switched back to the video and backed it up a bit ....

Screen Shot From XII The Series S02Ep02

Screen Shot From XII The Series S02Ep02

... and I was promptly rewarded!

Do you see it? The last item on the list?

Apparently someone with (pretty much) my name is a big wheel in French-Canadian TV! :o) That was a bit of a surprise!

The Art of the Plug

Shortly after that discovery, I was re-watching the second season of "Babylon 5," which most people these days only know of because Sheldon "Big Bang Theory" Cooper isn't a big fan --

Babylon-5 Big Bang Bazinga

Babylon-5 Big Bang Bazinga

-- when I came across this interesting sequence:

Babylon-5 Harlan Ellison

"Babylon-5" Conceptual Consultant Credit

Babylon-5 Harlan Ellison:  The Plug

Babylon-5 Harlan Ellison: The Plug

Do you see it? Right after Harlan Ellison's on-screen credit, there's a plug for his new book -- which I'm going to have to find, now that I know it's out there ...!

That said, I met Harlan Ellison once.

He was appearing at one of our local community colleges for a talk on -- well, I forget what -- and during a break, I wandered off and found an empty room with a piano in it, and started playing some Scott Joplin tunes.

Eventually, I noticed someone watching me play -- Harlan himself.

When I finished, he said that he enjoyed my playing, and said it was really nice to hear Scott Joplin's music played at the proper tempo, because it just isn't the same when Joplin's music is played fast (it even says that in the sheet music, come to think of it ...).

I thanked him for the compliment while blushing furiously (though thanks to my permanent tan, he didn't notice that part of the exchange), and headed back to my seat.

A few minutes later, there was a Question and Answer segment and I raised my hand. Harlan called on me, saying, "This young man is a really good piano player!"

Made my day!

Harlan was famous for writing several TV scripts, including Star Trek's "City on the Edge of Forever," where we first caught a glimpse of Joan Collins -- who was recently mentioned on "The Big Bang Theory," come to think of it, as was this episode!

He's also famous (or perhaps "infamous" is more correct) for his temper ... which is easily raised when a producer (like, say, the guy that created "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea") makes a suggestion to change one of his scripts for a stupid reason (which he did!) ... which caused Harlan to jump up onto the lengthy conference room table, run most of the length of it, slide the last few feet, and punch this producer in the chest ... which sent him flying back, knocking the six-foot model of the Seaview loose, which then fell across the hapless producer's pelvis, breaking it (and yes, I mean both the producer's pelvis AND the Seaview) ...!

The moral to that story: Don't mess with Harlan's scripts, unless you have a really good reason or idea!

"Blah, blah, blah ...! And What About That Facebook Article You've Been Teasing us With ... for MONTHS!?!?"

Ooh, another good question!

That article has a sub-article atached to it, and the links in that sub-article aren't working; I am checking with the person who owns those links to see what's what ... but other than that, almost done!

And in the "Captain Grumpy Pants Department" ...

This is a new "department," in which I complain about this, that, and (you guessed it ...) the other! :o)

This time out, I'm going to whine complain about a rather significant difference in behavior between Firefox and Internet Explorer.

As you know, I reeeeaaalllyyy don't like to do *anything* in IE, but a few months back, I had to ... so I left Firefox open while I did whatever I needed to do in IE ... and shortly after that, I discovered the need to install a PDF printer ... so I used Firefox to download Cute PDF.

At one point during the install, Firefox spat out a dialog box asking if I wanted to install the Ask.com tool bar.

If you've been reading Cheap and Sleazy for a while, you *KNOW* the answer to that question ... but for those of you who are new, the answer is "NO!!! I DON'T DO FRELLING TOOLBARS IN MY BROWSER!!!!"

So I clicked the "NO!!!" button ... and then I noticed a flash in the background.

I didn't think anything of it at the time ... until I switched over to IE. That's when I noticed ... a TOOLBAR.

My Ask Installed Without Permission!!!

My Ask Toolbar Installed Without Permission!!!

So did you catch that? Firefox ASKED if it was okay to install this unwanted toolbar, and did not when I clicked the appropriate (say "FRELL NO!!!") button ... but IE? IE not only didn't give me the chance to say "FRELL NO!!!!" to the installation of this toolbar ... it installed it without any prompting from me!

And that, ladies and gents, is how viruses get spread.

It's also the reason I eschew IE for nearly *ANYTHING* else ... and bonus points if you automatically said (or thought) "Gesundheit" when you saw the word "eschew."

I uninstalled the offending toolbar of course ... but that's not the point.

The point is no program should do ANYTHING like that without your permission ... and that might explain this cartoon:

Internet Explorer Is Always a Little Slow

Internet Explorer Is Always a Little Slow

As you might guess, web developers aren't exactly fans of IE either ... but that's another story for another time.

"Captain Grumpy Pants Department," Part II: Hanging With the General

Once a month or so, I like to do what I call "Hanging with the General" ... which means I stop by my local Safeway store and order some General Tso's Chicken and fried rice.

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, General Tso's Chicken is basically fried chicken parts that are then refried in a rather sweet and spicy sauce ... like so:

General Tso's Chicken

General Tso's Chicken

I've been "hanging with the General" for a few years now, even eating the same dish at a popular Chinese restaurant in Chinatown the International District ... and I always find myself comparing the new version I'm testing to the version I'm used to from my local Safeway ... and frankly, the Big Restaurants aren't beating Safeway's version.

Since this is in the "Captain Grumpy Pants Department," you might guess that I have a Whine.

A few months ago, I bought some General Tso's Chicken from a new Safeway store ... and it didn't look like the above picture.

Notice how dark that chicken is? That's the sweet and spicy glaze that makes this dish famous.

When I bought that batch of General Tso's from the new store and took it home (it was wrapped in plastic, so I couldn't see the contents clearly at the store), I noticed that the color was wrong ... and shortly after that, I noticed the flavor was missing --! Imagine an unseasoned Chicken McNugget and rice ... and that's what I was tasting.

I thought (briefly) about sucking it up (buttercup) and eating it as-is, but ... no. I paid for General Tso's Chicken, and what I got definitely wasn't General Tso's Chicken ... so I re-wrapped it and took it back to the store I bought it from.

The woman behind the counter tried to convince me that the way it was was the way it was supposed to be. I asked to talk to the chef, but s/he was conveniently absent ... so I took it to another Safeway about a mile up the road.

I explained the problem to the woman behind this store's counter and showed her what I was talking about. Her manager was standing at the counter doing the "Undercover Boss" routine, and he looked at the chicken as I was showing it to her.

"Make him a new one," he said.

No quibbling; no attempts to get me to believe that a dish I have been eating for *YEARS* had been made correctly when it obviously had not -- just "Make him a new one."

Unnamed Safeway Assistant Manager guy, I salute you! :o)

"By the Twitching of my Thumbs ...."

Something Wicked This Way Comes T-shirt

"Something Wicked This Way Comes"

No, nothing wicked this way comes -- er, is coming your way (more bonus points if you can cite the source of that quote up there!); rather, there's a new version of Case Catalyst coming ... and, as you might guess, there were a few, shall we say, "excited utterances" on Facebook ...

One user wrote: "The release notes contain 46 pages of new features. They are HUGE! There's some new Brief It options, export to ptx/ptf, easier options to sync an audio file by just putting your cursor where the audio should be, spell check options (like turning it off during realtime defines), updated Merriam Webster."

Someone else chimed in with "You can have Brief It quit nagging you about briefs you don't want to use."

"You can EZ Sync the audio (not the realtime file's audio) at the place of your cursor by a key combination and then the EZ Sync will sync all the audio to that file."

"More colors to use for job state."

"A 'print watermark' option."

"There is a corrected issue when attempting to open a CC exported RTF file in Word 2010."

Someone else wrote: "You can assign infrequent macros right on the Macro Tool bar. You can also modify or change them right there, too."

"You also have the ability to print your own command sheets."

"The Mistranslation Minder ... I thinks that's what it's called, I'm still learning how to use it but I think you can keep track of your common mistranslates within a user or job or case. Something like Cat Scratch."

Oh, and you can load CC14 on up to four computers -- just don't run it on all four at the same time!

"Not So Fast There, Pahdna!"

If you're wondering how come your updater isn't downloading CC 14 right frelling now, that's because CC 14 is in limited release (not sure how they decide who gets the new release early ... so telling Stenograph that you read about it on Cheap and Sleazy won't help! Sorry!), but you can expect the general release later on this month on or about February 27th or in early March -- assuming, of course, no ginormous bugs are discovered between the initial release date and the planned general release ....

Local Case Catalyst training ninja (and one of our officials up here in the Pacific North Wet) Sonya Wilcox has a more complete list of what's new in CC 14, and you can read that here:

http://www.casecatalysthelp.com/index.php?news&nid=3

I think you E-Tran users will like the second-to-last item ...!

Hmmm ... that's a bit hard to read, owing to the JavaScript used ... let me do some copying, pasting, and editing .....

Case Catalyst 14 Features (Reformatted)

Personal Command Summary Cards: You know those wonderful basic, intermediate and advanced command summary cards for the Default and CAT4 kbd keyboard maps? Always wanted one that would reflect your custom keyboard map? Done! You can instantly generate basic, intermediate and advanced command summary cards for any keyboard map! (Those users with the BCS option will see two additional command summary cards.)

Current keyboard map assignments displayed in menus: Ever wished you could change the shortcut keys shown next to the functions in the menus in Edit and Manage Dictionary to reflect your custom keyboardmap instead of just showing the shortcuts from the Default keyboard map? Done! As soon as you change keyboard assignments or keyboard maps, you change the shortcuts displayed in the menus!

E-mail capability in Finish 'em: With Finish 'em you can print a hard copy, print notes, text, or compressed to PDF, create an ASCII, export to RTF, CaseViewNet, create a job report -- even back up files. That's been great -- but there's one more step for me: I always need to email a finished job to my client. No problem -- now I can email direct from Finish 'em!

More colors for Job States: Six colors just wasn't enough for nine standard job states, and definitely not enough if you create custom job states and want to visually organize by color. Now you have ten more vibrant colors to choose for your Job States!

Brief It No Nag List: Realtime reporters tell us they adore the reminders, personal briefs and suggestions provided by Brief It during realtime; except for "this" one or "that" one ... in other words, there are certain briefs that pop up from time to time for which you just didn't want or need to get a reminder or suggestion, and it feels like Brief It is nagging you to do something you're just never going to do! Well, now you can teach Brief It to stop nagging you about those specific items, by adding those items to a Brief It No Nag file.

Mistran Minder: You've always been able to very easily find and navigate to your untranslates, conflicts, fields, scanstops; just about everything you need to find and fix in the job. The one thing that hasn't been as easy to find is your known mistranslates. Now it's much easier. As you encounter mistranslates, you'll teach Case CATalyst what words and phrases come up as mistranslates and in future jobs, you can have Case CATalyst display all occurrences of known mistranslates in a dialog pane, making identification and navigation to those items much faster and easier!

QuickFix View and Reset the View -- How many times has a trainee called or emailed you to tell you that "all of a sudden" the screen is "wrong" and you have to walk them through switching from Normal View to PageView or putting a dialog pane back in the proper place? We get that question a lot in Support and I see it all the time at various online forums and social networking sites. In Version 14, it'll be easier to help someone "fix" their view or re-set it back to how it looked when they first installed Case CATalyst (without affecting any color choices or toolbar customization).

Always track changes in Edit: You love Track Changes, but it was a little inconvenient to have to turn it on separately for each job? No problem -- you can set it to always be on in Edit. (Note -- it won't automatically be on for Translate & Edit or affect realtime.)

Customizable Macros Toolbar: It's really easy to remember the keys assigned to macros you use all the time, but what about the ones that you only need once in a while? A lot of reporters and scopists forget they have a shortcut and do things the long way if they can't easily remember the assigned keystroke. Well, now you can assign those (or any) macros to a toolbar button! Having a single-click shortcut that you can easily find and use can mean a huge savings of time and effort!

Suggestions for stitched phrases: How many keystrokes is it to define or replace a phrase that contains steno that translates as separate nouns that need to be hyphenated and turned into adjectives? A lot less in Version 14, because now, when you mark a phrase like "next generation device," you can click S-t-i-t-c-h and get suggestions for hyphenation for that phrase, and with a single keystroke pick "next-generation device."

Suggestions for defining with commas or quotes: Stitching phrases is neat, but hey, you also need to be able to do that with commas and quotes, right? No problem. Mark a phrase, select the preferred global or Replace, press Alt + , (comma) or Alt + " (quote) to get a drop-down list of comma or quote placement options!

EZ Sync at Cursor: Want to be able to adjust synchronization from an associated audio file a little faster and with a little less math (figuring out how many minutes or seconds to adjust backward or forward)? You got it! Just play audio, position the cursor, and when the audio matches your cursor position, use this function and synchronization is achieved.

Easier automatic indexing with multiple page numbers in a table cell: The reporter you're training requests help with setting up an automatic index, and says she needs to list the page numbers for every examination in one table cell separated by commas. In previous versions of CATalyst, the only way to do this was either to convince the reporter to format it differently, or to insert a separate format symbol with each subsequent examination, and to put all of the (up to 20) index cells in the Index Template, along with all the commas. Then, after building the index, delete all the unused commas. Yes, that's way too much work! In Version 14, you'll be able to use just one format symbol for each examination type, and automatically generate the commas between page numbers.

Improvements to Build Master Index: Ever make a mistake in a Master Index and then need to rebuild it? In Versions 13 and earlier, that can be a little time consuming because it takes a bit of effort to delete the master index, and then re-select all of the jobs and put them in the correct order. In Version 14, you can just use the same Delete Index command that you'd use with an index built by Build Index, and Case CATalyst will remember the selected transcripts and the order in which they were indexed!

Auto connect last WiFi writer -- If you connect your Diamante or Mira A3 via WiFi and you use Quick Tran,you've encountered having to wait for Case CATalyst to recognize and connect your writer and having to click OK or press Enter to confirm that you're connected. In Version 14, you won't get that prompt anymore if you select this option in the Realtime tab in Translate Options. One less keystroke or mouse click means QuickTran just got a little quicker for those using WiFi connection.

Spell Check While Defining in Realtime option -- If you define from the writer during realtime using AccelerWriters, you probably don't want a Spell Check dialog popping up to alert you to possible misspellings. To prevent this, a lot of reporters just turn off Spell Check While Defining, but then they don't have the benefit of Spell Check While Defining during Edit, unless they remembered to turn it back on. Now you can have the best of both worlds: Separate options for Spell Check While Defining, one when in Edit, one when in Realtime.

Enhancement to AutoRecover -- Some Case CATalyst users have just never gotten the hang of how to use an AutoRecover file. Instead of renaming the recovered version, they'd double click the original version and wonder what happened to their changes and why they weren't saved; or they'd edit the recovered version without renaming it and then wonder why audio wasn't linked, or why they suddenly had new, separate global tables or job dictionaries. In Version 14, it'll be easier to work with AutoRecover files. If a user double clicks the original version instead of the recovered file, Case CATalyst will take care of renaming the recovered file to link it with all of the original subfiles and will save the original file to a new name.

Print Watermark -- Want a watermark (such as DRAFT or REALTIME UNEDITED) but don't want to have to create or obtain an image file and then import that image into a layout? No problem -- in Version 14, you have a Print Watermark option that lets you type text, manipulate the size, orientation on the page andselect a shade.

Export to PTX -- Have clients requesting PTX format files? Now you can export from Case CATalyst to PTX!

Export to PTF -- Have clients requesting PTF format files? Now you can export from Case CATalyst to PTF!

Small Update ...

Apparently E-Tran has a new format: .ptz. This allows the E-Tran user to sync their transcripts with video and exhibits ... so I guess that explains why RealLegal "gave away" the family jewels, as it were ....

Need a Case Catalyst Trainer?

Stenograph has a list of them ... and you can see that list here:

http://www.stenograph.com/providersearch.aspx?Type=TA&id=3920001

Eclipse 5.1 Released (back in August of last year!)

Not to be outdone, Advantage Software, makers of Eclipse, released version 5.1 back in August of last year ... and somebody (I'm not going to mention any names) neglected to include the new features in the last massive update ... so, here's a slightly edited version of the e-mail I got back in August from Greg Seely, the Head Man in Charge over at Advantage:

Glen, I just returned from the NCRA convention in Philadelphia, and realized that I forgot to answer your email about what's new at ASI. Version 5.1 is, however, being released soon, and was introduced at the convention.

We hired some new programmers, so there are some major myView updates. An Android version has been written from scratch, and includes instant refresh. Several bugs have been fixed in the iOS version, but that one isn't refreshing yet. I'm considering having that version rewritten too.

The biggest news, I suppose, is that Eclipse is going keyless. You can install it on an unlimited number of computers, and security is completely automated as long as you connect to the Internet occasionally while Eclipse is running. We'll be implementing this slowly at first to make sure there aren't any kinks in it.

Per Jeremy (Thorne, lead programmer at Advantage), here are some additional highlights from Version 5.1:

- Split key system added for Passport, including automated dictionary adaptation

- Shadow display for Passport notes

- Auto-brief now records reminder statistics: Tell at a glance which briefs you really need to work on remembering most.

- Auto-brief can now offer suggestions directly from Mark Kislingbury's StenoMaster theory

- Allow users to add custom contractions (customizes the Automagic feature)

- Job summary report shows all comment lines (and other print commands) in a list with page/line numbers. Click on an item to jump to it.

- Dictionary entry viewer shows definitions for all applicable words.

- Job-specific common words list for concordance indexing

- Typeover tracking should memorize several replacements (Automagic will show last three typeovers instead of just one)

- Dictionary analysis tool added. This is a spiffy one: It was inspired by the "analyze documents" feature used by voicewriters, and also by some wish list requests from users. You optionally select several dictionaries in addition to your main dictionary, and optionally select a list of jobs and/or ASCII files. It will go through every entry in the dictionary and every word in the documents and produce two reports: 1. A report of all of the entries in all of the dictionaries that conflict with each other (that use the same steno) so that you can double-check potentially unexpected overrides, and 2. A text file containing a list (one per line) of all of the words from the documents that do not appear in any of the dictionaries that you selected. The list can be edited, since it's just a plain text file, and then you can use it to run the Dictionary Build function to quickly and easily build the missing vocabulary.

--Greg

"But Wait! There's More!"

... and you can read that "more" here.

Frelling Spammers ....

I'm fairly sure that long time readers of Cheap and Sleazy already know how I feel about spammers ...!

Well ... turns out there's a new scam going on these days!

In this instance, the spammer will actually *CALL* you directly, claiming to be from Microsoft! The spammer will claim that your computer has been infected with something-or-other, and ask you to do a few things, which eventually will lead to them being able to access your computer remotely.

As you might guess, that's *NOT* something you want to have happen!

Watch your caller ID for this number:

999-910-0122

... then go here:

https://www.google.com/search?q=%22999-910-0122%22&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls

Reading some of the stories in one of the first links was ... disturbing. One woman told "Susan" (the spammer) to quit calling her, and was told, "Shut up! I'll call you anytime I want to!"

I added "Microsoft.com" to the original search string to get this: "999-910-0122" "Microsoft.com"

... and that's when I found this interesting post:

"I just had a call like this myself. Knowing it's a scam and I have time to kill, I had some fun with him, asking how do i check this under windows 95, then 2 min later saying I was running linix, then Mac then 98, finally they asked me go to http.service.me, when I asked why they couldn't afford a real web site like a .com or .org, they hung up on me. But I figured the 40 mins i kept this guy on the phone he was not scamming someone who didn't know better."

I'm (fairly) sure Microsoft is hot to get these people, whoever they are ... but in the meantime, tell your elderly relatives about calls from this number. It will save them some $$ and aggravation.

"But Wait ...! There's More!"

Microsoft is aware of this issue, and posted this article sometime back:

http://www.microsoft.com/security/online-privacy/avoid-phone-scams.aspx

This one is well worth a read. Hopefully someone will catch these guys and escort them to the Chinese Hell for Annoying Spammers, or whatever the place is actually called these days ....

For those of you wondering about that whole "Chinese Hell" thing, feel free to use the Cheap and Sleazy Search Engine to find out what that means!

Another Scam ...!

I found this one on Facebook the other day.

Kentucky Scam

Kentucky Scam

If you click it, the picture will open in another window or tab at a larger size.

While it does say that this particular scam is happening in Kentucky (and Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, New York, Tennessee, Texas, AND Washington), that doesn't mean that some enterprising young thief can't pull the same trick where you live, so I am posting this picture here. You can read the original post here:

http://www.sos.ky.gov/secdesk/mediacenter/pressreleases/sos020613a.htm

The picture is here in case the above link should happen to disappear one day.

30OCT Update

It's gone now! Good thing I grabbed that screenshot ....


Also, just in case ...

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