Yet Again, Here There Be Some (Relatively) Old Stuff!
Looks Like We Made It ....!
Yes, that's right ... if you're reading this after 21DEC12, that means that the world did not end, as (for whatever reason), many people were worried about owing to "the end" of the Mayan calendar.
I spent quite a few moments explaining on Facebook that it wasn't the "end of the world," but simply the "end of an age ... but I think Mike Bara, author of The Choice, explained it best in his video blog (scroll down a bit ...!).
I wanted to take this moment to wish all of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, or whatever you happen to be celebrating at this time of year, and hope that you all have a great 2013!
Still Working On Those Articles ....
Yes, that's right ... things have been a bit on the topsy-turvy side here in the Cheap and Sleazy Labs ... so those promised ariticles I've been working on are still in progress.
On the plus side, I have been working on an update for my Cheap and Sleazy Chili recipe ... and this "update" requires me to make a batch every 30 days or so, testing various cuts of meat, spices, seasoning methods, etc. ... but I think I've got it down!
Unfortunately, there's a strange problem with the chili powder I've been using that I have to nail down before I post that update ... but, like everything else, "I'm working on it!"
This Just In ....
My Li'l Sis posted the picture below on my Facebook page recently:
.... and you know me ... I just *HAD* to put my Naval administrivia training to use to write an appropriate memo:
FROM: G.D. Warner, HMFIC at Cheap and Sleazy (dot) Net
TO: Complaint Department, North Pole
CC: Head Elf In Charge, North Pole
BCC: The Divine Ms. Cecy Garza
Mr. and/or Mrs. Claus:
Please forgive my whining, but as per the instructions, I left my stocking by the chimney with care ... but it appears there has been a mistake in the delivery.
Instead of the usual chocolates, cookies, and other such standard Christmas fare, imagine my dismay at discovering in my Christmas stocking ... a baby.
As a person of the bachelor persuasion, I must confess to a certain lack of knowledge on the care and feeding of these ... babies ... or, in short, "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies!"
While I do realize that the actual birthin' part has been done already, please retrieve said baby forthwith, lest I find myself wanting to hug him and squeeze him and call him "George," when everybody can see that he's more of a "Henry" type.
Cheap and Sleazy (dot) Net
Yes, that's right -- Hallowe'en has come and gone ... and you know what that means, right? YES ...! Christmas candy is now on sale!
... which, as you can see, isn't setting well with everybody.
In the "Frelling Hurricanes" Department ....
As I'm fairly sure you are all aware, folks on the East Coast have been having a terrible time of late during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
On the plus side, I don't think we lost any court reporters (thankfully), but the lack of fuel, the flood waters, etc., etc. has really put a damper on their work life ... and, therefore, their finances.
I'll spare you the details on how folks on the "Different Dictation" side of things are wondering if this storm was engineered and deliberately aimed at NYC ... but I did want to post this one:
Freelance Staten Island reporter Nicole Coladonato-Lebovic posted this on a few of the Facebook groups I'm in:
I have found this page very helpful for many court reporting situations, but now I need all your help for a catastrophe very near and dear to my heart.
As many of you know, Hurricane Sandy hit New York, New Jersey and Queens very bad and many people lost their homes. I am raising money to assist in the clean up of Staten Island. We have had an outpouring of many generous donations for food and clothing, but other things are needed.
Please donate whatever you can to help these poor people who have nothing. No amount is too small.
If you can, please donate.
Stenovations Talks Windows 8
In September, Trevor Sacks posted the following on the Stenovations DigitalCAT Lightspeed Users Group about digitalCAT and Windows 8:
"We have not yet done extensive testing with Windows 8, however based on our knowledge at the moment, digitalCAT 3 & 4 should run just fine on Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, and Windows 8 Enterprise. digitalCAT 3 & 4 will NOT run on Windows 8 RT, which will come on cheaper hardware, and won't have a correct type of processor."
Earlier today (04NOV12), Trevor posted the following:
"First and foremost: We are not recommending Windows 8 at this time. Also, be sure NOT to get a device that comes with something called "Windows RT." It will not work with DigitalCAT!
"Technically, it will work with Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro the same as any other legacy application. It will run on your desktop, just like always. I've done some small testing with DC4 on Windows 8, some other techs are trying to get some testing in this week.
"That being said, we are expecting some issues with the way the desktop works in Windows 8. Windows 8 will treat your desktop as a separate application. It may be a bit confusing to start out with, but will work just fine."
"Confusing" sounds about right ... at least, according to this article.
What's this?!? Wireless CART ...?!
That's right, folks: Wireless CART. It is accomplished via this device:
... and you can find it here.
Not So Fast There, North Americans!
Thus far, this is only available in European markets ... but there should be a US release sometime this month!
• Works with Macs and PCs
• Available ONLY in Europe in view of the frequencies used (US version in development).
• plugs into a USB port -- and provides a USB connection as well(!)
• Plug-'n'-play ... no drivers to download • Wireless connection: NOT WiFi, NOT Bluetooth ... range: 150 meters (~3 feet to a meter, folks!)
• System requirements: Windows XP and up; Mac OS X and up; one free USB slot.
• ~53MB software download required -- extract to the Text On Top stick(s).
• This device REQUIRES the user to eject it properly ... so if you've been snatching your USB devices out of your USB ports, follow Bob Newhart's advice ... and "Stop it!"
These things are NOT cheap, and there's just no sense in screwing them up by not ejecting them properly ... but that's a lecture for another time!
This Just In ....
three four months ago:
"Good news. My blog, Margie Holds Court, goes live on Saturday. I will post several times a week on all things English. This is my chance to give back to this community that has been so good to me. Please tune in. Respond. Post things you want to discuss. I look forward to seeing you all on there: margieholdscourt.com. I am also putting out a newsletter. If you want to be on my mailing list, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy punctuating."
.... and you can find that blog here:
ProCAT has a new student writer -- The Tempo:
The price? $495 ... but there's an asterisk next to that price, so ....
I'm not quite sure when this one will be out, though, and their website hasn't been updated to reflect this new writer's existence, so keep an eye out for it!
"The Force is Strong With This One ..."
As I predicted, Stenograph has come out with their own iPad app -- iCVNet:
... and here's an accompanying video:
Here's the blurb:
"iCVNet is here! Our Apple iPad app based on CaseViewNet realtime transcript viewer is now available for free download at the Apple App Store. This extremely intuitive app provides attorneys and judges instant viewing of realtime deposition and trial transcripts on an iPad. Attorneys and legal professionals can connect to a Case CATalyst court reporter's secure WiFi network to receive, view, mark, search and email transcripts."
Does this mean that a Mac version of Case is coming?
Not so fast there, Keemoslobby.
Q. I just downloaded it, BUT HOW DOES IT WORK?
A. First, you need a CaseViewNet license. Before you begin realtime, you connect to your access point (virtual or hardware router). When you open the Translate function, you select output to CaseView and set your output options, including passwords. Your receivers can open the iCVNet app on the iPad, click Connect, select your network, enter the password and voila, they're receiving the realtime text.
Alas, I can't recall where that small set of Q&A came from ... but if necessary, I can probably throw one together by trolling through the various Stenograph trainer pages on Facebook ....
Yes, I Did See That Announcement!
Yes, that's right ... I'm talking about the announcement that Disney bought LucasFilm.
I dunno ... but I'm pretty sure Darth could take Mickey in a fight.
I'm sure I'm not alone when I whisper to myself, "Please, GHOD, don't let these guys screw this up!"
Case in point:
Fortunately, while doing a search for "Star Wars" on Google (and yes, I was looking for news on Disney's latest acquisition), I found this discussion between George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy, the Co-Chariman of LucasFilm:
The most hopeful thing I heard in this interview was that George Lucas has written treatments of Episodes Seven, Eight, and Nine.
For the click-shy among you, a "treatment" is "a prose version of your screenplay ... your screenplay, in a way, told as a short story."
So Ms. Kennedy has something to work with.
Still ... there are numerous ways this can go wrong, but it's best not to dwell on such things.
And, Speaking of a Certain Movie Franchise ....
A few months back, my niece, Marlo, brought her autistic son, Paul over.
Paul came to my room, opened the bedroom door, pointed at me, and said, "Luke! I am your father!"
Then he closed the door and went about his business, leaving me laughing hysterically.
I hadn't seen Paul in a few years, but I know he wasn't too big on talking ... so his quoting one of the original Star Wars movies was extremely unexpected!
But Wait --! There's More!
Fast forward a few months ... and this time, I'm visiting Paul's aunt's place, and Paul has made himself at home in her bedroom, with the TV on and remote control in hand ... and yes, he was searching for a Star Wars movie ... but I digress.
After exchanging a few pleasantries with my niece, I decided to test him ... so I poked my head into the bedroom, pointed at Paul, and said, "Aniken!" ... and before I could finish the quote, Paul joined in and said, "Aniken! Noooooooo!!!"
For the one or two of you that have no idea what I'm talking about, watch this short (~about a minute) video.
Hmmm ... I'm going to have to come up with an approrpriate quote for the next time I see him and see if he can finish it! :o)
And Let's Not Forget ...
... my promise to "deal with Cindi Hartman" later (search for "Tami" to find that promise ...)!
It's later! :o)
A few months back, Cindi made the error of writing "I'm not an engineer" in a place where I could see it ... and if you've ever seen any of the original "Star Trek" episodes, you're probably familiar with Dr. McCoy's various catchphrases, including one that goes something like this:
"Dammit, Jim! I'm a doctor, not a _____!"
Still with me?
So Cindi (Hartman) wrote those immortal words, and I did not hesitate to spring into action ... and the result looked something like this:
Say ... did you know that Cindi speaks Klingon? If you run into her at a convention, tell her I said "QuaPla!"
Another NCRA Test Down ... With Lotsa Issues.
Lots and *LOTS* of complaints about yesterday's test, and I'm reading through them all now ...! I think that Breck Record has another open letter to the NCRA, and, I'm sure, President-Elect Tami Smith will respond ... but before I can post that, I'll be wading through the litany of bad experiences ... and when I've made it through, I'll post an update.
Watch for it ...!
It took a while, but I found Breck Record's open letter to the NCRA on the testing situation (well, okay, so I found it earlier, and forgot to post it ... AND didn't save the link, so that made it that much more difficult to find!).
Anyway ... here it is:
After the events of the day, I just can't sit quietly any longer. The current testing model is NOT working and my students and reporters deserve a lot better.
Now, I realize that there were glitches today in RTC's site, but this test is just too important for that to happen, regardless of why it happened.
I have a few suggestions that I think should be put back into place immediately:
1. Return to using the CDs for all tests....period.
2. Have the tests be uploaded, if possible, AFTER the test is over to RTC.
3. If the test can't be uploaded, then print them out and send them in normally.
4. If the test can't be uploaded to RTC after the fact, that's okay. At that point, the worrying part is over because the test is over.
My stress level is very low and that probably makes me an exception to the rule. My experience with RTC has not been that bad and it has worked for me, even when those around me have been in panic mode trying to get their stuff to work. That doesn't bother me as much. But when you have a room full of people who don't handle the stress as well as I do, then that only compounds the problem.
I know that you are trying to update the technology, but it is just NOT working right now and I am now asking you, on behalf of several hundred students, to go back to what worked until this can get fixed.
I know that you're very aware of the events today because you quickly sent out an e-mail regarding same, but, as I said, I just can't let this go on without standing up and fighting on behalf of my group. We're here to encourage them and get them into the profession and that is exactly what I am going to do and I will NOT let anything deter me from that objective, nor will I let stuff like this go by without stepping in on their behalf and ask kindly, on their behalf, to sit down and take care of this immediately.
This time, I am asking that you-all step in here and assure my students that you're going to fix this and do what is necessary to make the next exam work.
There followed lots of back-and-forth between students, reporters, test administrators and an instructor or two, but nothing from the NCRA itself ... so I searched for "Tami" in ECRS using the Search feature on Facebook, and I found this one from (relatively) new president, Tami Smith:
As I posted on my FB wall yesterday NCRA realizes there's been problems with the Realtime Coach System. Our fall board meeting is this coming weekend, November 10-11, and we will be re-evaluating online testing. We take this issue very seriously and are well aware of everyone's frustration.
I also found this one:
The NCRA Board of Directors met this past weekend, and certification and testing was one of top topics of discussion. The Board members discussed how NCRA tests are administered, and of course, online testing was discussed at length. This is a very important subject, and is one that is not being taken lightly by the Board. NCRA is committed to positioning our test candidates for success, so please rest assured that there will be more discussions in the near future, and NCRA will send updates as appropriate. In the meantime, if you have specific questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact NCRA directly at 800-272-6272 or email@example.com.
As for the outcome of that meeting, basically the NCRA is offering a special test date in January and half-price registration.
Much better than that sudden price increase last time ....
"Free and Single, She Likes to Mingle, Livin' the StenoLife ..."
Well, okay, so that's not how the song really goes ... but that's okay, because in this instance, it's true: Marc Greenberg is "Livin' the StenoLife ..." and to prove it, he is making lotsa plans!
What's that? Did someone say, "Like what?" ..? Well, let's just let Marc tell you himself:
Where did StenoLife go?!?! Where's my Brief Machine?!?!
Don't worry - it's coming back...better than ever! StenoLife will be re-launching on October 22nd with some awesome new features!
Will it still have the Brief Machine? No - it will have a NEW Brief Machine that puts the old one to shame! The new Brief Machine will have close to 700,000 steno outlines. We've added about 100,000 phrase briefs. And you'll now be able to add your own briefs to the system as well.
Other new StenoLife features? It's top secret stuff, but I'll just say...flash cards...eBay...dictations...4-voice...steno games...I've already said too much!
Just make sure to come back on October 22nd. Are you living the Steno Life?
So. There you have it: Some news that forces an update before all those articles I've been meaning to get to have even been touched ...!
Now, wait a minute ...! Before you pick up that batch of tar and feathers you've probably already got made up, let's just say the TV article has hit a bit of a snag, in that a rather necessary add-on I needed to put to use to make it work has suddenly ... stopped working.
I'm workin' on it ...!
About That Last RPR Exam ....
As many of you might have heard, there were a few, shall we say, "difficulties" during the last RPR exam. The difficulties stemmed from two things: First, the test beginning without the usual "Ready? Begin!" blurb, which were specifically mentioned in the instructions. Next, there was the need to press "Play" on their laptops to start RealTime Coach. As you might guess, this one left many test takers with their hands on their laptops instead of their writers.
Then there was the problem of not hearing the results of the test until it was nearly time to take the next test ... and there were a few other unpleasant surprises, I hear.
But Wait -- There's More!
As you might guess, letters requesting an appeal of the results of that last exam were sent by many, but answers were slow in arriving ... and then one day, this message arrived in the Inbox of one unhappy test taker:
NCRA and the Council of the Academy of Professional Reporters (CAPR), which oversees all aspects of NCRA certifications, have reviewed the impact of not having "Ready? Begin" at the outset of the recording on candidates' performance. It has been determined that the absence of this phrase does not warrant any additional action.
Well, if that wasn't enough, they also raised the price of the test by ten bucks ... so test takers not only got what essentially amounts to a "Screw you!" e-mail from the NCRA; they also got a price increase!
Ha ha ha! Funny!
Um, no ... and that's not helping mollify the masses either.
I had a lengthy post in mind about how I read Guy Kawasaki's book, "The Macintosh Way" and how it taught me how a business should be run ... but I've decided to spare you.
Well actually, I forgot the salient points of that nascent idea, but they basically would amount to this:
I'm no expert on running a business (just count all the ads on Cheap and Sleazy!), but I'm fairly sure that this is an example of how not to do it. If your customer is unhappy because of changes your company made without telling them, then yes, you screwed -- er, messed up, and the right thing to do would have been to admit the error and administer those participants who had difficulties another chance at the test ... at no charge.
Well ... that's the way I would handle that situation ... but organizations don't depend on just one person to make decisions.
I am writing this post here because I know that many of you are watching this group. I'm not going to tag anyone yet because I feel that I will be able to get the point across that I need to and that those that need to see this will see it.
Here goes. Regarding the current testing procedures, and especially the last round of testing, I am to understand that for many of those that took the last test and did not get the "Ready. Begin" phrasing, that you're not going to let many of them, if not all of them, have a re-test?
I feel that that is not right. If there was a change like that in the testing procedure, then those that were testing at least should have been notified of been prepared for that. We've had the "Ready. Begin" for years in the tests. It's okay to make a change in the procedure, but let us know about it.
Secondly, as far as the ability to get the results back quicker has been anything but that. I've been testing since 2008 and I have yet to see anything close to resembling a faster return on the results of any test that I have taken. It seems that I am having to pay for the next exam before I get the results from the last one, just in case. Realtime Coach has not been any quicker at this point and I feel that something really needs to be done about this, respectfully.
I can proofread up to 300 pages or more if I have to in one day. If we are to be known that we can get stuff out quicker because of technology and what we have available to us, don't you think that we could surely get the tests back a lot sooner than four to six weeks? I feel that this really needs to be looked into.
Sometimes, I'm sure, that a student might be waiting for a job to fill and all they need are the results. Having to tell the employer to wait until the results are in just isn't always an option. For that matter, even a reporter that may need a certain test result back isn't always an option.
Now, all of this being said, if I have to run for Director or even go for an officer position, I may consider that because the membership deserves just a little bit better than what is currently taking place in regards to testing. Admittedly, I do not know all of the ins and outs of the whole process, but I will sure make it part of my agenda if I do get elected because we really can do better in this regard.
If we can get a dialogue started here, it would be much appreciated. And I will assure you that my members in here will be respectful or I will instantly delete their posts if they are not. We need some transparency here and some open discussion regarding this so that we do get a better idea of what can happen to make it better.
Well said, Breck! Let's hope your letter/post gets things moving in a positive direction!
Breck posted this one after some discussion about the situation:
As usual, I have been informed that NCRA IS watching this and that they are concerned about the whole process.
Now, as I have started this thread requesting action from NCRA, I will now defend the board and NCRA and tell you that they are going to figure this out. I've said at the beginning of this thread that I didn't want to tag any of the board because I didn't feel that was necessary. They are watching this group and fully aware of what's going on.
I'm sure that if they want to respond, they will. One thing we are going to continue to do here is keep it professional and work towards a solution as opposed to stirring up a hornet's nest and inflaming the situation. That's one thing I truly appreciate about all of you. We have every right to vent and voice our concerns here and I encourage that and I know that NCRA wants to know if there are issues or problems so that they can try to address them.
Some issues will not be addressed overnight. In fact, there is a process to addressing many issues and sometimes it takes time. In this day of technology, everyone has come to expect instant results and sometimes that can't happen. Better to get the right result than to get a knee-jerk result that is only a bandage and not a complete fix. Right?
Remember this, too, that the members of the Board of NCRA are reporters.....and.....were once students, just like many of you in this group. Don't think for a minute that they don't remember what it's like to be in your shoes. Well, one exception is our Executive Director, but he's been with NCRA for a few years and understands what's going on and wants the best for everyone too.
They have been right where you are and had to take these same tests....just like all of you. They WILL fix the problem. Why? Because NCRA/we need you in the field and want you in the field.
Rest assured, that I'm in your corner here and when I feel a need to fight for all of you, I will put on my boots and pull up the britches and put the hat on and go to battle for you. But I am going to do it in a respectful manner and this group is going to hopefully continue to be respectful as we get our thoughts and concerns out there. That's how we roll in here.
I am expecting that we will have some response soon that will address our concerns. Y'all hang in there and keep pressing down on those keys and I will keep doing what I can to make sure that we can continue to make this group the best it can be, to make sure NCRA is doing what they need to do and that we can all work together to keep this profession at the top where it belongs.
Let's rock this day!
.... and she posted the following:
Please be confident that we take this issue seriously and are not ignoring you. Social media is a great place to air your concerns, but it isn't always a place where you can get a quick response.
There is a vendor that partners with us to provide the online tests, but ultimately the responsibility for any issues with testing rests with NCRA. There are many things that go on in the background before the tests and during testing day. Staffing changes can mean different tones in emails or phone calls. Do we get it right every time: absolutely not. Do we try to get it right every time; absolutely. Online testing is a new thing and it's going to take sometime to work all the bugs out of the system. Some test sites have the best technology available and can provide topnotch internet connectivity. Others do not and use the CDs or try to provide online testing. The authority on testing is CAPR (Council of the Academy of Professional Reporters) and they did review the effect of the missing “ready, begin” and determined there was not a discernable impact on candidates' performance at the beginning of the test. The larger number of mistakes occurred at the end of the tests. That is why there is no refund being offered. We are going to discuss the issue of testing grading timelines and the true feasibility of offering online testing at our November board meeting.
That being said, I want to reiterate your concerns and posts are not ignored. I appreciate and applaud your passion for the profession and hope that you all continue to test and improve so we can have professional successful court reporters, our future.
Well ...! Breck is probably right: These things will get fixed eventually ... but I'm sure that's not setting well with those test takers who asked for a refund because of the various problems they experienced ... but with any luck, their next attempt at the test (03NOV12) will be better!
Good luck -- er, SKILL, everybody!
Oh, and you can read Breck's initial post (and the comments) here:
"Summer Time, Summer Time, Sum-Sum Summer Time ...."
Just wanted to let all ~25 of my readers know that I haven't forgotten you ... but as is usual, life sometimes intrudes ...! Hence the lack of (published) updates of late ... though rest assured, I am working on them ...!
Clearly Summer is over -- at least, it is here in the Pacific North Wet!
However, sometime when it actually was summer, I put together this page to evoke that Summer feeling ... and considering the fact that it's 70 degrees and day 47 of no rain outside as I write this, I think this is still appropriate! Enjoy!
That Time of Year Again ...
Yes, that's right: I'm talking about my annual bill for Cheap and Sleazy.
My school gave me living expenses, enough to last the four months between semesters ... but I have this niece.
She "borrowed" a little here, "borrowed" a little bit more there, and soon she was digging into my bill money, which was to be used to take care of my internet bill (ClearWire ROCKS, by the way), my car insurance, and my hosting fees for Cheap and Sleazy.
So, after all that "borrowing" and empty promises of a money order made out to me that I have yet to see, followed closely by a couple of surprise bank fees, Cheap and Sleazy went offline for a day or so.
After I posted on Facebook that the site was down, I got an IM (say "Instant Message") from Marc "Steno Watchdog"Greenberg. It said simply, "How much do you need?"
I told him, he asked for my site's login info, and paid the fees.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MARC GREENBERG!!
Will I ever get my money back? Good question! Lesson learned ....
"I'm Gonna Make You a STAR!!"
No, I'm not going to make anybody a star, but Marc "Simply Steno" Greenberg is working on that very thing! Here's the info:
"Have an interesting story related to stenography? I want them! For the next 18 months, we'll be filming For the Record, a documentary about court reporting. We already have some great stories, but can always use more. For details, check out http://www.courtreportingmovie.com/index.html
"For updates, you can also Like our Facebook page -- http://www.facebook.com/pages/For-the-Record-Court-Reporting-Documentary/215663378536748
"And please -- SHARE!!! More sharing means more exposure for court reporting, and that's the goal."
Consider that shared, Marc!
And, speaking of Marc ....
Need a Mentor?
If so, Marc "Simply Steno" has something you need to hear:
"Just wanted to announce that CourtReportingMentor.com is launching today. It does exactly what the name implies: Finds mentors for court reporting students that intend to go into court reporting, CART and captioning. This is the first website to ONLY focus on mentoring. If you are currently a student or a working professional, I hope you see the value and sign up today. It's 100% free!"
I'm sure you've heard me say this before (and you know that's never stopped me from repeating myself), but: "Free is Good!
Love the new logo!
"You Don't Know the Power ...."
I'm sure by now you have heard the news. No? Well, apparently, Stenograph is no longer making batteries for their older writers!
"FYI - For those who did not get the Stenograph e-mail, they are discontinuing batteries for Stentura 6000 and LX, 8000 and LX, 400 and 400 SRT. Looks like they are selling their quantities on hand for about $80 each."
As you might guess, some panicking ensued --
-- and then someone posted this note from The Steno Doctor:
ATTENTION STENTURA USERS:
Don't worry about your Stentura batteries. Stenograph only makes the battery shell, not the battery. We can rebuild the old shell with new battery packs. These batteries are made by several different manufacturers.
I hope this information relieves your Stentura battery anxiety.
"To Err is Human; to Forgive, Divine ..."
Thanks in a large part to the efforts of Judy McKinney and the situation described at CRI Saga.info comes this: http://signon.org/sign/support-the-student-loan?source=s.tw&r_by=3808083
.... "this" being an attempt to get student loans forgiven.
Yes, I have heard the arguments against this: "They signed a contact! Why can't they pay back what they borrowed as agreed?"
Why, that's easy! I don't know if you've noticed, but the economy is not doing well. There are newly minted lawyers that can't find work, because the lawfirms aren't hiring; new programmers that can't find work because they're not THE numba one student in their classes, etc., etc., etc. ... and, as a result, many new grads are living at their parents, and some of them are working at their friendly neighborhood Starbucks to make ends meet.
That's not quite what they paid for, folks.
Will the economy get better? I sure hope so! Unfortunately, the wait may be lengthy ... which is why that Student Loan Forgiveness Act might be helpful.
Jeff "BriefCatcher" Eaton recently announced his device has a warranty:
"The BriefCatcher now has a warranty. Did you wear it out, or break it? Simply return it within two years at your expense and receive a new one for $5.00, with free shipping."
WOW! Shame on you, Belkin!
Back in the earlier days of my dealings with Macs, there were two ways to get Macs to talk to Mac printers via the Mac's new USB connection ... and only two companies made USB-Mac serial connectors: Keyspan and Belkin.
Before making my decision as to which way to go, I did some reading of the various Mac news sites, like Mac CNN, Mac Surfer, etc. ... and judging from the comments and complaints on these (and other) sites at the time, it appeared that Belkin devices were best to be avoided, so I went with the Keyspan devices.
And now, I read this.
For the click-shy, this page talks about Belkin's F5U409 USB-Serial adaptor ... and how it doesn't support Vista 64 bit.
The owner of the above site did some investigating, and found that the company that makes the controller chip used in Belkin's device has a set of drivers that will work with Belkin's adaptor ... and points out that Belkin could have written a driver to support their device, but chose not to instead ... and came out with another USB-Serial adapter ...!
Shame on you, Belkin!
This article comes to me courtesy of Connie Granadas Perks via Anthony Frisolone's Facebook page. Thank you, Connie! (*Shakes fist in the general direction of Belkin's offices*)
StenoCast presents "Me to Me:"
... and you can read about it here.
Alas, it seems to work only for the Passport and the Diamante ....
Andrea Murphy is Famous!
That's right, folks ... Depoman-fam member (and "Famous Reporter") Andrea Murphy is famous!
Phoenix Theory.com Version 2.0
Back in April of this year (2012, for those of you reading this in another year), I stopped by the Phoenix Theory forum and found this:
Shortly after that, I got this e-mail:
The Phoenix Theory website is being moved to a new server using a new forum. All the messages are being archived and will be filtered and reposted in the new forum or on the site so that the information will not be lost, but it will take time to accomplish this. The site and forum will be shutdown by the time you receive this email (or shortly after that). Sorry if anyones questions haven't been answered yet, but the new forum will be up as soon as possible. You will have to re-register in the new forum once it is up and running. Again, sorry for the inconvienence, but the site needs to be moved to the new server.
Chris Dittmeier Admin for Phoenix Theory site.
On the plus side, the forum is now back!
On the minus side, you will have to re-join the forum, as all login info was lost in the move from the original forum software to the new one.
Also gone is the main site, http://www.phoenixtheory.com, where all of the Phoenix Theory updates were, along with the series on speedbuilding that Carol Jochim wrote, along with the Phoenix Theory StenoKeys dicitonary and .pdf ... both of which I linked to in my big Case Catalyst Knowledgebase project that shows you how to write TV and movie scripts using your writer, a Microsoft Word template, a specialized dictionary just for scriptwriting, and the aforementioned StenoKeys dictionary!
Hopefully things will be restored, but apparently Chris Dittmeier is a busy WebDev, so the job is about half done, which is too bad. Every once in a while, I will run across a student on one of the forums who is discouraged about his or her personal circumstances ... and I usually would point that student to a post on the Phoenix Theory forum from a woman named Terry Brock, who faced some MAJOR difficulties ... and still managed to finish school and is now a working reporter ... and those difficulties were dire indeed.
Hopefully all those posts will show up soon!
Stenograph April Foolisness
This just in (three months ago, but who's counting): Stenograph has developed a much-needed add-on to their flagship writer, the Diamante. They call it the "Zap-O-Laser:"
Here's the accompanying blurb:
Stenograph is proud to announce a new feature for the Diamante that will greatly increase your efficiency on the job! No longer will you have to endure fast-talking attorneys. The Zap-O-Laser feature on the Diamante will instantly laser the offender, delivering a quick shock of elcectricity that will temporarily slow down the speech rate!
The red Zap-O-Laser button is conveniently located on top of the Diamante for easy access!
That one generated a *lot* of comments on Stenograph's Facebook page -- mostly of the "Technolust" variety!
The "Real" Diamante Upgrade
Turns out there is an upgrade out for the Diamante ... but some folks thought that "Diamante 2.0" referred to a new version of the writer.
Not exactly. Over on the Depoman forum, Cindi Hartman explained what was what:
Not a new writer.
The Diamante 2.0 software release advertised in the March JCR will be a free download for all Diamante writers covered by an annual maintenance plan or the initial one-year warranty, and will include a Brief It feature for the Diamante and a Power Define/J-define exchange feature for Diamante and Case CATalyst. It is not available yet; as soon as it is, we'll post a message on our web site, at the Stenograph Facebook page and of course, a message will get posted here (as well as a number of other court reporting related sites).
Separate and apart from that, I believe that whatever rumors you are hearing (and that this is being presented to the public for the first time at the STAR meeting this week) are regarding two additional factory retrofits that will be available for Diamante writers if someone needs an even-shorter stroke than currently available and/or raised vowel keys. I do not have pricing info or details at this time. There will be more information available after the STAR convention; I believe marketing is working on the package now.
Mike "Depoman" Miller says:
We've got an early release 2.0 retrofit in the office. Depowife has been missing the shortness of her LightSpeed stroke for a while, so she's got the 2.0 retrofit almost all the way shortened, and to me it's like writing on a tabletop. So, Alan, to answer your question: It'll go as low as you want it to go.
I'm a pounder, so I don't even have the original Diamante all the way lowered, so it's definitely not for me.
Richard Wyble says:
Yes. Retrofitted and new Diamantes have a wider range of adjustment for depth of stroke, from a shallower depth up to its current deepest setting, and you can set it wherever within that range you choose. It's as simple as moving the adjustment wheel a couple of clicks.
Friend Acquaintance, the Piano" (with a nod to the late, great, Dave McKenna)
A surprising number of Students o' Steno play or have played the piano, including Yours Truly!
Alas, I had to let that go when I joined the Navy, but before I did, I was a self-taught student of Scott Joplin, and was slowly but surely embracing stride piano ... which is why I found this picture most intriguing:
And yes, ladies and germs, it is a real steno keyboard design!
I would *LOVE* to see what such a keyboard feels like .....
SEA STORY ALERT!!!
On a (slightly) related note, back in my Navy days -- or more specifically, my last day of duty before making the big move down to Homestead Florida (~1991 or so), I visited the local music store in search of some good sheet music ... and to tickle the ivories on one of the store's pianos.
Shortly after I walked into the store, I was accosted by a girl about five years of age, who asked me if I knew "this song," and she whipped out the first few notes of "Heart and Soul," which I discovered in my (much) younger days, that all little blonde girls apparently knew how to play. :o)
I told her that I did, and she asked me if I would play the song with her. I agreed, and we began to play.
While we were playing, I asked her if she could play the left-hand part. She laughed and said, "No!" I told her she should learn both parts, because one day, she might meet someone that only knows the right-hand part.
I then told her that I could play both parts ... by myself!
She said, "Really?" I said, "Sure!" and that's when her mother called her.
She looked unhappy, then ran to her mom, who then told her in a harsh whisper, "How many times have I told you not to talk to strangers?!" ... and she dragged her towards the door.
At that point, I started playing "Heart and Soul" ... both parts, by myself!
The little girl grabbed the side of the door on her way out, shouted, "Mom!", and pointed at me, but her mom ignored her and dragged her out of the store.
I sure hope that little girl grew up and became an awesome jazz pianist, despite her mom!
"Here's to the Crazy Ones ...."
You, sitting at home, working away on a transcript (or better yet, reading Cheap and Sleazy) ... when the phone rings.
You pick up the phone, and on the other end is a guy from Microsoft. He's telling you that your computer has been compromised, and he wishes you to give him access to your computer so he can "fix it."
What do you do?
If you said, "Give him access to my computer," please go out and buy yourself a dunce cap! You have just compromised your previously UN-compromised computer ... to some guy you're talking to on the phone.
On the plus(?) side, you're not alone. Check this one out!
Thanks to Joyce Davis over on CSR Nation!
Court Reporting Help: Gone, but Not Forgotten
As many of my readers know, I am a BIG FAN of the writing of Steve Shastay, the Head Cook and Bottle Washer over at Court Reporting Help.com.
Many of you are also aware that Steve's site has been down for a few weeks ... when I couldn't get it to load, I tried doing a Who Is search on the site's address, then tried pinging the servers, and everything appeared to be normal, but the site just would not load! That's when I
gave up put things on hold to regroup .... and then one day, one of his students sent me an IM on Facebook about something or other, and I (naturally!) took the opportunity to bombard her with ask her a few questions.
But before I get to that, a little background info.
For the past few years, His Steveness has been suffering from hypothyroidism, which my iPod's Merriam-Webster dictionary app describes as follows:
deficient activity of the thyriod gland; also: a resultant bodily condition characterized by lowered metabolid rate and general loss of vigor.
Long story short, Steve is tired.
All of the time.
He sent me a few e-mails over the years describing his symptoms:
07JAN09: After having a hypo-active thyroid for several years now, I have come to some conclusions. Ginseng is good, if your thyroid is fluctuating up and down and if you know it won't get better. Black Cohosh should be recommended by every doctor for the thyroid. It has proved valuable. Herbs used for men's vitality can really help: yohimbe, horny goat, maca.
But most days, I still need a nap. A two-minute nap is enough for me.
And the work that I do suffers. I was appalled at what I saw on CourtReportingHelp.com. The whole site is being overhauled. At least until I crash. I was on vacation for half of December. With a light schedule, I was able to open two new sites. They're not done, but they are usable. Now I'm back at work, and once again, I am exhausted. It's only been four days. In two weeks, my head could be totally fogged up.
25JAN10: My thyroid has been flaring up lately - which is good news. If it dies, I can get on a stable medication plan. It may be happening right now. I have had to increase my medication, and I finally have energy. I have actually done work in the last two days. I don't want to have too much medication though. Too much means that I feel like I have had too much coffee or too many diet pills. I feel restless, the heart pounds, etc. Very uncomfortable.
Sorry that I don't answer. I have troubles getting any work done. By the time I leave work, I am exhausted. Courtreportinghelp.com has been basically abandoned while I wait for the energy to continue. Too bad.
15MAR10: As you can tell, my work production is slipping over the years. I had a severe attack of something about 6 weeks ago. I blame the thyroid. I went to another doctor. Again, I am told that I am in perfect health. They have no recommendations, no advice. They just tell me that I am doing fine and send me home.
I checked the Internet after the last attack. There is a body of information that says that anemia could be working in tandem with the low thyroid. The symptoms are surprisingly accurate with what happens to me. I lose all energy and pant if I do anything more than sit. I think the doctors think I am nuts, but I did find a double-blind study of people who pant for no reason. They treated them for anemia and gave half of them thyroid medicine. The ones with the thyroid medicine showed great improvement. Doctors just don't have a reliable method of gauging whether a patient has a low thyroid.
Massive amounts of Vitamin B, Folic acid, Vitamin C and CoQ10 seem to help a lot.
.... all of which brings us back to that
hapless heroic student.
She valiantly withstood the ordeal of me literally pelting her with questions ... and those questions went something like this:
Q. What's going on with his website? People are asking me what's what ....
A. Not sure ... when I finish class I can go ask him. Do you mean CourtReportingHelp.com? I think that in addition to working here physically he is also doing some things online as well ... maybe busy???
Q. Yep, CourtReportingHelp.com ... yes, probably busy!
Then a few days went by, and my hapless victim was again online while I was ... so I sent another query:
Q. Did you reach Steve Shastay?
A. Yeah, caught him right after school. It was as I said: busy, tired, at the school, online, etc. He said he just doesn't have the energy.
Q. Yeah, he has a hypothyroid condition! Check this page:
Look for "Hypothyroidism."
Eureka! Cure. His e-mail is down, so I can't tell him that!
A. When I see him tomorrow I'll show him this. He looks and sounds just extremely beat.
Q. Tell him I said hello!
A. Will do!
Q. Great! Send him here for the MMS:
Protocols are here:
A few days passed, then once again I found that hapless student online again and once again, she was pelted with more questions:
Q. Hi! Did you ever pass that info on to Steve Shastay?
A. Hey, Glen. I'm sorry, I thought I got back with you. I did pass on the info. He said thanks and that he'd look into it, but he was definitely not doing the website anymore.
Q. Oh, no! Well, at least he'll look into it. Thank you! Did he say why on the website? Please pass on my thanks for all he has shared over the years!
A. He just said he was tired and that Breck (Record) has a great forum going for students and he's glad of that. He wants to pass (the) torch and rest.
Q. That's too bad! He had a *lot* to offer ....
A. No problem. I'll be sure to let him know what you've said.
I'm about to graduate and our school is closing. I may never see one of my favorite teachers again. He once quoted to me: "A prophet is not without honor save for his own country." That was after I had discovered all of his learning material he had, his website, etc. I had told him how great it all was ... that's what he responded with. We had a strange bunch at our school. He was not one of the favorite teachers!!! Can you believe that????? Reallllllly strange school of students, Glen. SMH.
Anywho, I'll let you know what he says.
So, there you have it, folks! Hopefully Steve will take my (Different Dictation-derived) advice on a cure for his hypothyroidism.
Interestingly enough, the site has a treatment for both asthma and allergies ... and I will be trying that treatment ASAP.
Respect is Due ....
... so I offer two items I hope you all will find of use:
First, this partial interview I did with Steve back when I was transitioning from theory to speedbuilding. It's not finished for two reasons:
(1) I started it when I was in Theory, and
(2) My school closed before I could get back to it (and yes, I am kicking myself for not finishing that one!!!).
Next, after all this time, I finally managed to collect "All the Incarnations of Steve Shastay's Blogs" into one hefty (126 pages!!!) .pdf ... and you can read that (AFTER you've read the aforementioned 13-page interview) here.
Fair warning: The blog is FULL OF GOOD STUFF ... and will keep you engrossed for quite some time! Therefore I feel that I simply must reiterate my usual "grab-a-snack-and-a-beverage" warning that I give to all new visitors to Cheap and Sleazy ... lest they sit there and read through Steve's blogs and neglect to feed themselves over the next fiew days!
"Say! What About Those Articles you Promised in the Last Update?!?"
Ooh, good question!
I'm still working on both the TV article and the Facebook article, though I hope to have them finished in the not-too-distant; seems there was a new graduate of a certain CR school that had a cameo in one of the TV shows I featured on Cheap and Sleazy recently ... and I have a picture that needs to be posted, along with a story that needs to be told!!
I still need to download the appropriate episode of the show in question to get that all-important screenshot, but rest assured, I will do so!
In the meantime, here's the new ones I have up and ready: Learning Briefs teaches you how to use a spreadsheet to keep track of your briefs.
As an aside, I mentioned this article once in one of the groups I'm in on Facebook ... and, with no further mention from me, Mikey's article zoomed from 100 to number 7 on my Stats page ...! Still kicking myself for not grabbing a screenshot of that one ....
Reporter Marla Sharp (RPR, CLR, CCRR, CSR (CA)) likes a few punctuation and grammar links, and she shares those with you here.
Did you all read "Thar's Gold in Them Thar Boxes" yet? For those of you that have read it, you might recall that I briefly mentioned something in that article called a "Note Buddy," which is a tool to help you transcribe your notes.
One of my
friends sisters on Facebook asked me about it sometime back. Seems that when you get higher and higher in speed, that results in a larger stack of notes you have to transcribe ... and the way she was doing it often resulted in her losing her place, which (of course!) cost her time ... so I wrote The Note Buddy especially for her. She tells me she uses it daily in her battle for steno supremacy over that dreaded 180 Q&A (though she is getting closer on every attempt!).
As you might be aware, we had some snow up here a few weeks back ...
What you probably don't know is I have a philosophy about snow. It's really simple:
"Snow is best experienced either by viewing it on a mountain top some distance away, or by watching it on TV."
I shared my philosophy with my (ex) Hawaii-born girlfriend and her daughter (~17) a couple years back, but they were apparently unimpressed, as they decided that it would be a great idea to hop on a bus and go to one of the smaller malls in the vicinity for (yes, you guessed it ...) a shoe sale.
As you might guess, things did not go well.
First, while they were "Oooohing and Ahhhing" over the shoes, it began to snow again ... which, of course, killed the busses for the day ... so they started walking from bus stop to bus stop to get a little closer to home.
Next, mom then discovered that those great looking moccasin-like boots she had worn to the mall weren't exactly good for snow -- as in, they soaked right through ... and that is when I got that frantic phone call.
Without actually saying "I told you so" (though I will admit to thinking it during the drive to get them), I hopped into my Cheap and Sleazy Ford Aspire and drove out to go get them.
Two things arose from the events of that day:
(1) They both now understand why I have my philosophy on snow, and
(2) I was right when I told them not to go.
Did you see that, guys? "I was right!!"
What? That's a HUGE win for us guys!!
Alas, this time I got caught flat-footed, as it were, when we got that whopping seven inches up here in the Pacific North Wet, which I understand is some kind of record ... and since I was house- and cat-sitting at the time, all of my regular shoes were in my car, with my go-to pair of sandals (yes, that's right: Sandals! And yes, I wear them with socks! This particular pair I actually replaced a couple of years ago with another pair, but that pair lasted for one year(!) ... and that's when I began wearing the old ones again!) ... and eventually, I needed to venture out to the local (two blocks away) 7-Eleven (I was out of chocolate!) ... but since my regular shoes were in my (snowed in) car, I had two choices:
(1) walk through the un-disturbed 7 inches of snow to my snow-covered car and dig around for those safety boots, or
(2) suck it up and walk the two blocks to the 7-Eleven in my sandals (and socks! Don't forget the socks!).
I chose what was behind door number two.
To my credit, I got there and back with but one "casualty:" My right big toe got wet.
Not bad, not bad ...! It was a good time for some of my world famous Cheap and Sleazy Chili!
Sure wish I had some Oberto Hot Links to go with that chili though ... but I can only get them in the south end of Seattle, and I was far, far from there during the Blizard of '12.
I suppose I could have bought some hot dogs .....
Okay, So I Got a Bit Carried Away.
Yes, that's right ...! I had planned on getting this update up ... well, earlier.
Way, WAY earlier! Like, October earlier!
The news portion is pretty much done, but the promised articles are not ... so when you run across links to those articles, while they will open a page, it will say "Under Construction" instead of whatever thrilling narrative I meant to put in there!
Not to worry though ... the articles are still being written, and will be posted Soonest!
"Dude --! What articles?"
Well, there's the one I promised an update or two ago on using your CAT software and steno machine to write TV and movie scripts ... which is a real nice way to get paid for using your writer -- assuming, of course, you can get someone to read your script and give you a project or two ... then there's a submission from Jill Driscoll, on how a captioner uses Twitter ... then there's another by a rather fast-rising student at Sage College, in which he teaches the reader how to use a spreadsheet to learn new briefs ... and then there's one article sparked by the request of one high speed student who was getting frustrated because she would lose her place while transcribing her notes ... and then there's the one where I show you how to take the audio from a video file and break it into various increments so you can emulate that CRAH graduate's method she talks about in StephPractice ... and then there's that one on why CR students should be on Facebook ...
And, speaking of which, meet Karen Kaufman Carollo:
Karen started the Pho*enix Theory Briefs and Phrases Facebook group a few months ago ... and she is also a very talented writer.
She recently posted the below poem for court reporting students everywhere ... and, apparently, only CRs and CR students can appreciate it.
It took some begging and pleading, but Karen was nice enough to allow me to share her poem with my readers.
"A message of court reporting school, frustration, encouragement, holiday cheer & all that jazz:"
T'was a week before Christmas
At the Stenograph school
And that last test I took
Was syllabically cruel
My fingers weren't nimble
My mind wasn't quick
By the time it was over
My stomach felt sick
The quarter flew by
It went way too fast
And there are still two more tests
That I needed to pass
I hear the word, "Test"
And my heartbeat, it races
And my fingers won't go
To the right G-d damn places
Those words that I knew
Fifteen minutes before?
Now my brain
doesn't seem to work anymore
I need two measly tests
To provide some relief
But I just couldn't remember
That last f*!@king brief
I did PEV,
but I can't stand that guy
Or the girl for that matter
And you wanna know why?
To begin with, those VOICES
I hate to complain
But after 20 or so minutes
I wanna blow out my brains.
I've tried to relax
It's a battle of wills
I'm this close to resorting
To perhaps pot or some pills
Girls 30 years younger than me
fly through these speeds
Conquer 20-word increments
With the greatest of ease
It's like when I was 30
And gave skiing a try
And watched kids in their diapers
Smoothly passing me by
Another quarter ended
A new one ahead
And that letter of doom
I continually dread
I can do this you see,
It's a matter of time
But financial aid's schedule
Is different than mine
I'd ask Santa to help me
But I'd feel kind of foolish,
I have nothing against him
But the fact is, I'm Jewish.
But I know somewhere in me
I have what it takes
To overcome all those words
to correct those mistakes
to beat hesitation
fight through every word said
to conquer this skill
to get out of my head
so on Jury Charge!
and on Q & A
I'm not fast enough now
But I will be someday
As for Lit week? No, strike that ...
For sadly I fear
my comments on Lit week
cannot be shared here
So from me here at Prince
To my classmates and friends
I wish you the best
As this current year ends
May your feelings be warm
May your holidays be blessed
May you be surrounded by those
Who love you the best
The best I can do is steno-up,
And try once again
In the coming new year!
Thanks Karen! And hang in there.
A Belated Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, and a Happy Whatever-You-Celebrate!