on the cheap and sleazy side (www.cheapandsleazy.net)
Thar's Gold in Them Thar Boxes
Finding Gold Nuggets of Information in those old JCRs and State CRA Newletters
Once while I was in Theory, a reporter stopped by our school and dropped off a box of JCRs. I was the first to look through the box and, after pulling out back issues of Entertainment Weekly and Playboy (which, by the way, I left on my instructors desk, cleverly hidden inside an advertising brochure for the Mira), I selected an issue from 2002 that the CR firm where I work did not have.
Later, the rest of the class filed in, and my instructor encouraged them to look through those back issues, which they did -- but few took any home.
This was an error, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.
At Rough and Associates, my boss has JCRs going back to 1994. I have had an occasion or two (or three ... or four ....) to look through these and, thanks to a rather nice copy machine in the back room, have collected a lot of great information.
There are briefs, tips on passing the RPR, practice methods, old speed tests, complete with the first page of the winner's steno tape (260 Lit, anyone?) ... and that's just the tip of a rather large iceberg.
The Note Buddy
For those of you in speed building, I found a great article on how to transcribe your tests ("A Technique for Transcribing," by Cynthia J. Overland (JCR APR98)). It included a description of an easy to make gadget that you slide over your steno tape, which allows you to view one line at a time, which is great if you have been known to miss a few lines here and there when you're transcribing.
She calls this gadget a "note buddy."
She described the note buddy thusly:
"A note buddy is simply a 3 by 5 index card cut at each end to the width of steno paper. The notes are threaded through so that a narrow "TV screen" highlights the steno in a small area. This eliminates the problem of leaving words out of the transcript that were contained in the notes since it is easier to visually track from steno to the document."
Here's one of my ("Oh-my-God, keep-Glen-away-from-the-scissors!") efforts:
Your viewing area should probably be smaller than that, of course ....
If you want to put one of those Note Buddy things together yourself, you can get the book stand here.
The cost? $1.50! Buy two: One for at home, the other for when you're at school!
BIG THANKS to Cecy Garza (a.k.a. "My Favorite Brownsvillian") for asking about note stands and prompting me to find that link!
Prompted by my aforementioned "Favorite Brownsvillian," I put together this article that goes into a bit more detail on the Note Buddy
This rather lengthy piece goes on to discuss a method for proofreading which eliminates any errors you made while typing (read it backwards, one word at a time).
How cool is that?!?
Have you ever wondered what would happen if your witness suffered from multiple personality disorder ... and changed personalities while on the witness stand? It happened to one Seattle reporter, and she wrote a piece on how to handle that situation (JCR, April '97, WSR, March '92).
Have you ever thought about what it would be like for a blind person to go through CR school? I certainly didn't ... until I saw "Blind Ambition" in the February 2002 issue of the JCR.
Ever wonder how a student who works full time could finish court reporting school in a year? Jayne McGinley tells you how she did it in the March '95 issue of the JCR.
Did you ever think about captioning a chess match? Mark (360 wpm) Kislingbury not only thought about it, he both did it, and wrote an article about the experience (JCR, November '97).
Ever wonder what the person behind "Morson's English Guide for Court Reporter" looked like? She used to have a column in the JCR ... and there was a picture there as well.
Those back issues had poetry as well. Howzabout "'Twas the Night Before Court" (JCR DEC96)? and who could forget (now former) student Marilyn Simpson's saga of Josephine Bob (and her first day on the job; JCR MAR98), which included these imortal lines:
... but her mind started racing:
Would her paper tray work?
Would she seem the "professional"?
Make friends with the clerk?
For you see, her name was Josephine
And this was her very first day on the job.
And don't forget the cartoons ... like the one where a demonic figure is giving a tour of ... er, his demonic domain to a guy in a dress shirt, and points to a section of said domain and says, "... and this section is for people who wrote computer manuals." ... and there sits one of my fellow technical writers ... or the one where the lawyer is explaining to the defendant that the reason he feels like he's being treated like he's on trial is because he's on trial, or ... well, pictures are better, and the scanner's on the blink, so I'll spare you.
In addition to the cartoons, there is humor -- both in the form of "transquips" (you know, those snippets of Q&A, like this one: "Q. So were you there when they took your picture?") and humorous articles ... like then-reporting student Todd Stenihilber's short series, "The Mad Letters of Ricki Hopscotch," (JCR, January '95), wherein hapless CR Ricki Hopscotch, in a period of eight hours, goes from being Ricki Hopschotch, professional court reporter, to Ace Stentura, international fugitive, and demonstrates why it's not good form to be arrested during a deposition you're reporting.
Talk about having a bad day ....!
And you can't ignore the ads.
Did you know that back in 1994, there was not one, but TWO Apple Macintosh-based CAT systems? Neither did I; wish they were still around.
Did you know that there was a vendor who sold a combination steno machine and laptop and included software which used Word and WordPerfect as the CAT system?
Did you know this same vendor sold just the software to students for $9.95? (Where is this guy now that I need him ...? Actually, I know exactly where he is ... but he's out of the steno business; sorry!)
In the early days of digitalCAT's life, their ads in the JCR touted something called CATnip. While it is still available in digitalCAT today, the manual is a bit lacking on what it is used for ... but those old ads in the JCR spell it out quite nicely: CATnip allows you to steno into other applications.
As you might guess, the ad had a bit more detail than that ... and here from the March 1999 issue is the skinny on CATnip:
Use your steno machine to perform any Windows 95 or NT operation, everything from opening applications to word-processing. Do medical transcription, captioning, classroom realtime, building writing speed and accuracy, office dictation, etc. Words appear in a buffer window which allows you to do corrections, resolve conflicts or add dictionary entries before passing into selected application or realtime receive programs .... Create macros in CATnip and/or in any application. Compatible with standard realtime receive software. Perform any function from steno keyboard. RTF/CRE Dictionary swapping ....
So, now you know! :o)
And don't forget to look at the ads in the back of those old back issues of the JCR. There was a company that does transcription work over the internet, and they prefer to have students (180 and up for steno, 70 and up for regular keyboard) work for them ... you can find them here:
There are a lot of ads for books that may be of use in your career, if you could find them today. For instance, one ad offers a book for $20 that shows how the author went from 225 to 260 in a few months, using her practice method.
One of my Facebook friends asked me about this ad today, and wanted to know if I had a copy of the book. I didn't -- and still don't -- but I still have that copy of the JCR, so I dug it out and snapped this picture:
Of course, I don't know how successful her customers were, but that ad ran for years!
I could go on, but I'll spare you.
Suffice it to say that if you find yourself working in a CR firm, or even if someone drops off a box of back issues at your school, do not hesitate to grab a few of these and look through them. You're bound to learn something useful.
As for our state's CR Association's newsletter, alas, no one has stopped by our school and dropped off a box of these as yet ... but we did have a guest speaker who came by our school with a rather thick handout. One of the sheets in this rather thick packet was a listing of how to abbreviate the various legal citations ... you know, like when they say "Rosetta versus Stone, 92 Washington Second, 1038 1979".
Instead of writing it out like I have above, it should be written "Rosetta v. Stone, 92 Wn. 2nd., 1038 (1979)."
I took a copy of this sheet to my office and left it on my boss' desk, along with a note asking her if it was correct (did I mention I work at night?). She called me the next day and asked me where I got it. I told her, and she thanked me, and told me she was going to give a copy of it to all of her reporters!
There is Gold in Them Thar boxes ...!