The Archives (Part DUH)

(Or "Here There Be (More) Old Stuff")

So. Here there be (more) old stuff.

This time when I tried making a .pdf of the main page with the Print command, it got to *60* pages ...!

Hence the trimming.

Enjoy (more of) the Old Stuff!


Update (17NOV06)

"Forgive me, Tech Gods, for I Have Sinned ...."

That's right, I have sinned -- or more exactly, I have violated Tech Commandment Numba One:

Tech Commandments

Thou Hast Sinned Most Mightily --!

Yes, that's right ... I failed to "Backup, backup, BACKUP!!!"

You might be able to guess the entire story ... but I'm gonna tell ya anyway!

I was playing a game of chess over the internet, via the FICS -- the Free Internet Chess Server. I had just executed a brilliant move which trapped my opponent's queen -- which would have been that much more brilliant if I had just taken the queen the move before, when he blundered it away -- when suddenly, everything froze: The music quit playing, the clock quit ticking -- everything froze.

I tried to force-quit (that's Mac-speak for a mini-CNTRL-ALT-DELETE, by the way) Fixation, the chess client I was using: No joy.

I then tried a Command-Power Off (that's Mac-speak for "SHUT DOWN AND RESTART right NOW!!!, in case you were wondering) ... again, no joy.

Finally I unplugged it, and took the battery out: That did the trick.

I let it sit for a moment (always a good idea to let the hard drive spin down completely, y'know), then put the battery in and restarted it ... and I got this bright, blue screen ...!

No, not like a BSOD -- the famous Blue Screen o' Death that Windows is famous for; this was more like when you turn a TV on, and there's no signal.

I'll spare you the details of my troubleshooting ... but long story short, my hard drive was toast ... along with a *lot* of paranormal dictation mp3s, some notes for an article or two (well ... several, actually; some for Cheap and Sleazy, others for After Dark), a rather important interview I compiled over a period of several months with -- well, let's not go there. Suffice it to say, the fact that I hadn't done a decent backup was busily punching me in the face --!.

Fortunately, I have some of the article notes (and that interview, thank Ghod) on my flash drive, and I also have some of those .mp3s on my iPod.

I took my laptop to my local Apple Store. They looked up my PowerBook's serial number, and told me I was still under warranty (which was surprising, since I had brought it refurbished from an Apple partner (Small Dog Electronics) instead of Apple directly), and they took my laptop, sent me home ("It should be ready in about five days," the tech said), replaced the defective broken hard drive, upgraded me to the next version of the MacOS (10.4; Tiger) -- for FREE!

Imagine my suprise when the Apple Store called me a few hours later to tell me my silver friend was ready to pick up! ... but you can imagine my dismay when he told me they could recover nothing from the hard drive. :o(

iPod to the Rescue ...!?

Well ... not exactly.

Seems that, since I had a new hard drive *and* a new OS installed, my iPod wouldn't sync with iTunes; in fact, my PowerBook nicely offered to format my iPod's hard drive for me ...!

Naturally, I just said "NO!!" to that.

If you saw the picture in Different Dictation of what was on my iPod, you might recall it said I had about 2 gigabytes worth of stuff on it:

How much stuff is in my iPod, anyway?

How much stuff is in my iPod, anyway?

Since that 2 gigs was more than what I had in my iTunes library after losing everything (pesky hard drive ...!), you can bet I wanted all that stuff back ...!

Unfortunately, my iPod wasn't cooperating ... so, a quick Google search revealed a program called Senuti (Mac-only), which would allow me to copy my playlists from the iPod to my new hard drive!

Here's what Senuti looks like:

Senuti's interface

Senuti's Interface

Those of you who have managed to find yourself in the same boat (or one similar) that I found myself in can find reviews of the top iPod rippers here:

http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,72132-0.html?tw=rss.index

You can see the play list is made up mostly of Coast to Coast AM shows, and a Dreamland. The other two playlists (on the left) are made up of Sting and the Police, with some jazz thrown in. I made that one for my roomie's Christmas present last year (46 songs, 6.9 hours). The one called Sugar Mix is reggae and jazz; (62 songs, 9.8 hours)

The check marks indicate .mp3s that are in the iTunes library already ... so, as you might guess, these have already been copied over from my iPod.

Once the files were moved from the iPod to my laptop, I had to rebuild the playlist in iTunes. Unfortunately, with these paranormal .mp3s, iTunes adjusted my titles, which made it somewhat difficult to find each track! :o(

But I managed.

One last playlist to rebuild, and I can go ahead and let my poor iPod be erased!

So ... don't forget Tech Commandment Numba One! You can believe I sure won't. I have a stack of blank DVDs ready to tackle a future backup.

Update (02NOV06)

New Content

Mary Ann Payonk, CRR, RDR, has Something to Say.

She has something to say to all of us -- be we reporters, or reporters-in-training, or even captioners or CART providers.

I thought that message was so important, I asked her to write something for ol' Cheap and Sleazy ... and she did! It's called Push Back! ... and I think it deserves your attention.

Also, please note that Mary Ann would like to hear from YOU after you've read Push Back!, so if you would, please take the time to e-mail her and tell her your thoughts and feelings. Her e-mail address is at the end of the article.

Things That Make You Go "Hmmmm ....", Part DUH

Using the internet tools available to me, I found the company that hosts ... you know, that website that hosts the content of someone who reacted badly to my polite request to remove my content from her site.

I found some contact information on the hosting company's website, and sent them an e-mail explaining everything, and referred them to the 30OCT06 update on ol' Cheap and Sleazy.

They faxed me a form to fill out, sign, and fax back, which I did ... and today, I got this e-mail:

From: Homestead Abuse Administrator (copyright (at) homesteadsupport.com)

To: Glen Warner (gdwarner (at) mindspring.com)

Subject: Re: A Problem With one of your Clients (KMM8357690I104L0KM)

Dear Mr. Warner,

As a passive conduit, Homestead cannot monitor user websites, but we respond to breaches of our user agreement when we learn of such behavior.

We have received your faxed Notification of Infringement on November 2. We have taken action to remove the infringing content from the Homestead account.

Thank you for your patience.

Regards,

Homestead Abuse Team

Homestead Technologies

[Case #4024221]

cheapandsleazy.net 1, Ms. Cindy G. 0

... and that's the way I prefer it.

Now, just to be clear: You can print my content, you can save my content to your hard drives for later (off-line) use, and you can LINK to my content ... but you cannot represent it as your own, nor can you keep a copy on your website.

... and that's that with that.

Update (30OCT06)

Things That Make You go, "Hmmmm ...."

It was a simple request.

As my regular visitors know, I, on occasion, engage in what a few years ago might have been seen as an obscene activity -- yes, that's right: I'm talking about "Googling Myself (Oh, Oh, Oh-oh)."

Billy Idol

Googling Myself, Oh, Oh -- Uh-oh.

This time, I found the entire contents (less pictures) of my article, The Good Stuff on the site of a vendor ...! Here is the link in question:

http://courtreportingdvds.com/csr_buying_laptops__writers__software.htm

Naturally, I was a bit unhappy about this. Even though the article isn't linked on the main page (not sure about any internal pages), the article was still written by Yours Truly, and, as it plainly says down there at the bottom of this very page, is copyrighted by Yours Truly ... so I sent the owner of the site what I thought was a clear explanation of the situation and a polite request to remove the content.

I got back a one word response:

"Huh?????"

I repeated my request, and added if s/he didn't understand what I was talking about, forward my request to the company webmaster.

Imagine my surprise when I got this (verbatim!) response:

Can you say, ANAL RETENTIVE?

Hmmm.

I answered -- well, let me just copy and paste the e-mail instead of summarizing and paraphrasing:

Sure ... I can also say I can make this entire exchange public, and recommend to all visitors to my site not to buy from you. As I'm not selling anything and you are, who will be hurt more?

So. Here's the deal.

You delete my content off of your website, or I will advertise on EVERY FORUM I CAN FIND the content of these e-mails, and recommend that all students not buy anything from you.

How's that?

--gdw

In answer, I got this:

Can you say SLANDER makes you libel? Mr. Warner, I would be careful for what you wish for.

I then sent this one:

Really.

All I really wish for is for you to take my article off your site. Is that really too much to ask?

The next message I got was from the AOL Mailer Daemon, with the subject line of "Returned Mail, User Unknown." I almost deleted it, but instead, I took a closer look ... and imagine my surprise when I found this line in the mess of mail servers and whatnot:

<<< 550 livedictation IS NOT ACCEPTING MAIL FROM THIS SENDER

I, of course, resent the e-mail, from a different address ... with the same result.

Hmmm.

It would be wrong (though very, very tempting) for me to recommend not buying anything from this particular vendor ... so instead, I am going to include copies of the entire exchange (less headers and etc.). If you see my request as unreasonable, that's fine. If you see otherwise ... well. I'm not going to tell you who to buy from, but personally, if I saw a vendor treat a potential customer like this, I would think twice about buying from that vendor ... but that's just me.


From: gdwarner@cheapandsleazy.net

To: livedictation@aol.com

Subject: "Googling Myself (Oh, Oh, Oh-oh)"

Greetings.

Every once in a while, I do a Google search on the phrase "on the cheap and sleazy side" or "cheapandsleazy.net."

While doing such a search today, I found this link:

http://courtreportingdvds.com/csr_buying_laptops__writers__software.htm

While I appreciate folks that LINK to my content, it is not good to just grab my content and post it on their site like that, as you have done here. Please remove it.

Finally, if you look at the bottom of the main page, it says in BIG LETTERS the following:

Also, just in case ... The entire contents of this website are copyright � 2003 - 2006 by Glen Dwayne Warner and assorted Guest Writers

So.

Once again, please remove my content ... but feel free to substitute a link.

Thank you.

--gdw


From: livedictation@aol.com

To: gdwarner@cheapandsleazy.net

Subject: Re: "Googling Myself (Oh, Oh, Oh-oh)"

Huh?????


From: gdwarner@cheapandsleazy.net

To: livedictation@aol.com

Subject: Re: "Googling Myself (Oh, Oh, Oh-oh)"

Livedictation@aol.com wrote:

> Huh?????

In simple terms: My content -- http://www.cheapandsleazy.net/goodstuff.html -- is on your website at this URL: http://courtreportingdvds.com/csr_buying_laptops__writers__software.htm.

A quick search through the Way Back Machine (http://www.waybackmachine.org) reveals my article has been on your site since at least September of 2004.

This content, while not linked from your main page (at least, not that I can find) is copyrighted material, as indicated on the bottom of my main page and quoted to you in the message I sent.

Please remove my content from your site.

Thank you.

--gdw

P.S.:

If you, as the owner of this site, truly have no idea what I'm talking about, please forward this note to the person that put your website together for you. S/he will (hopefully) understand.

--gdw


From: livedictation@aol.com

To: gdwarner@cheapandsleazy.net

Subject: Re: "Googling Myself (Oh, Oh, Oh-oh)"

Can you say, ANAL RETENTIVE?


From: gdwarner@cheapandsleazy.net

To: livedictation@aol.com

Subject: Re: "Googling Myself (Oh, Oh, Oh-oh)"

Livedictation@aol.com wrote:

> Can you say, ANAL RETENTIVE?

Sure ... I can also say I can make this entire exchange public, and recommend to all visitors to my site not to buy from you. As I'm not selling anything and you are, who will be hurt more?

So. Here's the deal.

You delete my content off of your website, or I will advertise on EVERY FORUM I CAN FIND the content of these e-mails, and recommend that all students not buy anything from you.

How's that?

--gdw


From: livedictation@aol.com

To: gdwarner@cheapandsleazy.net

Subject: Re: "Googling Myself (Oh, Oh, Oh-oh)"

Can you say SLANDER makes you libel? Mr. Warner, I would be careful for what you wish for.


From: gdwarner@cheapandsleazy.net

To: livedictation@aol.com

Subject: Re: "Googling Myself (Oh, Oh, Oh-oh)"

Livedictation@aol.com wrote:

> Can you say SLANDER makes you libel? Mr. Warner, I would be careful for what you wish for.

Really.

All I really wish for is for you to take my article off your site. Is that really too much to ask?

--gdw


From: MAILER-DAEMON@aol.com

To: gdwarner@cheapandsleazy.net

Subject: Returned mail: User unknown

The original message was received at Mon, 30 Oct 2006 02:17:03 -0500 (EST) from sendmail3.brinkster.com [65.182.99.40]

*** ATTENTION ***

Your e-mail is being returned to you because there was a problem with its delivery. The address which was undeliverable is listed in the section labeled: "----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----".

The reason your mail is being returned to you is listed in the section labeled: "----- Transcript of Session Follows -----".

The line beginning with "<<<" describes the specific reason your e-mail could not be delivered. The next line contains a second error message which is a general translation for other e-mail servers.

Please direct further questions regarding this message to your e-mail administrator.

--AOL Postmaster


----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----

----- Transcript of session follows -----
... while talking to air-yj04.mail.aol.com.:
>>> >>> RCPT To:
<<< 550 livedictation IS NOT ACCEPTING MAIL FROM THIS SENDER


If you've ever read one of these Returned Mail messages, you know they go on and on and on ... so I've left off the rest of this message ... but the important part is the part where it says this vendor is not accepting e-mail from me.

I don't know about this vendor, but for me, high school was a long time ago.

I guess this is yet another person that hides behind the anonymity of the internet ... and that's all I have to say about this situation ... and this particular vendor. However, if you feel the need to send this ... person an e-mail in my defense, I certainly won't be unhappy about it.

Update (11OCT06)

Site Update (sort of)

Updated Steno Stuff. Just added a link to a page that shows you how to lubricate your steno machine!

If your classmates move away from you before a test, perhaps ... just perhaps ... your machine is making a bit more noise than it should be making. This update will show you how to eliminate about 90% of that noise.

Trust me ... your classmates will thank you.


Captioning and digitalCAT, Part II

New digitalCAT logo

The new digitalCAT logo

(See the 13NOV05 update in the Archives for Part I).

After some lengthy negotiations (well, okay ... so the e-mail I sent last year from my cheapandsleazy.net account got caught by a spam filter), I have managed to convince Stenovations President Sandra Jackson to modify the company's policy for students doing unpaid captioning internships ...!

For those interested, I present the e-mail exchange -- first mine:

Hi, Sandra.

First, a hearty "Happy 15th Anniversary" for you, your hubby, and all of the staff there at Stenovations (and my thanks for some easy-to-use CAT software as well).

That said, I have a whine.

Some time last year, one of my fellow students got an unpaid captioning internship. The night before she was to go on-air, she discovered that all the captioning options were grayed out ...!

She called your offices the next day, and was told it would cost $300 to enable the captioning suite.

Nearly in tears, she found me, asked me to help her export her dictionaries, which I did ... then she loaded Case Catalyst (which is what my school used before they closed), borrowed a hardware key, and went ahead with her two week internship.

Fast forward a few months ... I see this student (she was a day student, I a night student) getting some extra practice one evening, and I asked her how the internship went.

She told me that she had to quit using digitalCAT, and switched completely to Case ...!

In fact, nearly all of our high speed students switched to CC; they all got the chance to do an on-air captioning internship, and (being starving students and all) could not justify the $300 cost to activate digitalCAT's captioning suite for said unpaid internship.

I wrote to you about this once before, but I suspect it got eaten by a spam filter (happens a lot when I use my cheapandsleazy.net e-mail address, for some reason ...).

I am hoping that this sad tale will influence you in adjusting the policy on enabling the captioning suite. While I do understand the need for income, that need should not cost you customers, as it did with my (now former) fellow students.

Perhaps a month-to-month strategy would work, where the student pays, say, $20, your techs enter an appropriate code, and the captioning suite is enabled ... and that expires in 30 days.

When the student calls in again, if s/he still needs the captioning suite enabled, the tech should find out how long this internship will be, charge them another $20, and enable the captioning suite for that long (plus another five days -- just in case).

It's not a perfect solution, but it beats losing that near-graduating speed high speed student to a competitor, I would guess.

Thank you ... and take care.

--gdw

Here's Sandra's:

Dear Glen:

Thank you so much for your letter today. I know how busy you must be and therefore I appreciate you taking the time to inform me of some things I obviously need to be aware of.

I apologize if I did not respond to your first letter, but after running a scan of my inbox email for the last year, your name did not appear. You are correct about the spam filters. I know that our filters here as well as our virus protection will often block a ligitimate transmittal and I will never see it. That's the downside to virus protection.

Your "sad tale" interests me very much. I am sorry to learn about the young lady who experineced such frustration and ultimately went to my competitor as well as other students who leave us for this reason. I could bore you with all the reasons behind charging extra for captioning suite, but that is really beside the point. I feel I must deal with what is at hand and I absolutely love your suggestion. As a matter of fact, I have already called a meeting with support management and we will be discussing this today. I want you to know that I do plan to implement your suggestions. I will keep you infomred of our progress on this, which should only take a day or two.

You also referred to a .pdf on improvements in DC-3. I'm assuming you mean the new features list. I will ask tech support to forward you a new file today. I am happy you are pleased with the new training videos. We have much more to come. And thank you for mentioning the new update on your site. You are, indeed, a value to Stenovations.

My warmest regards to you.

Sandra M. Jackson

CEO Stenovations, Inc.

And now, Sandra's Big Announcement:

Hello, Glen.

First, let me inform you that Stenovations is happy to offer captioning free to students who are involved in an unpaid captioning internship. This, of course, will require proof of unpaid internship in the form of a letter from the captioning entity for whom the reporter is interning with. The captioning license will be issued for 30 days only. The captioning license may be extended as needed upon proof of continuing intership. The same policy will apply in the event of a paid internship and a $20 montly fee will be applied by Stenovations to the student account.

I hope this helps. Let me know.

I'm glad to know that you solved the new features list problem. Just let me know if there is anything that you need.

Have a great day.

Sandra M. Jackson

CEO Stenovations, Inc.

Long story short, those of you in a non-paying captioning internship or in a captioning class can fax proof of the internship or class to Stenovations, give them a call, and have your license adjusted to turn on digitalCAT's captioning suite!

Pretty cool, huh?


STENO-QWIK: First Steps

Those of you who have been reading ol' Cheap and Sleazy for at least the last couple of months might recall that I mentioned a typing course, in which you learn to touch type within two hours -- without having a keyboard in front of you.

If you remember that (and even if you don't) have I got a story for you ...!

About a year ago, I was doing a Google search for the terms "muscle memory" and "typing," and I found something called QWERTY-QWIK.

Needless to say, I was fascinated ... so I fired off an e-mail to Ms. Frances More, and basically talked about the steno keyboard, sent her a link showing what a steno keyboard looked like, and asked if she thought she could develop a similar system for the steno keyboard as she did for the regular (QWERTY) keyboard. She said she thought she could.

At the time, she was living in New Zealand, but she later moved over to Philadelphia, PA for some consulting work with the public schools out there. I put her in touch with someone in the area to see if she could borrow a steno machine and a theory book, to help write ... um ... STKPWHR-QWIK (STENO-QWIK?).

Alas, no luck; people kept referring her to court reporting schools, who wanted her to enroll.

I also put her in touch with the NCRA's Education Committe (I think that was the body); they are still thinking about it.

I finally contacted someone who was thinking of starting her own school. She was going to send a steno machine and some theory books to Frances. A month went by, and my e-mails to this person were ignored.

About this time, I came into possession of some extra theory books (Phoenix Theory, if you're wondering), and an old StenoRam writer (pretty much dead).

I asked if she would like the old machine, letting her know it was dead, and the books; she said she'd take them, and get the writer serviced, see if she could develop ... um ... STENO-QWIK, and send everything back to me when she was done.

I am pleased to announce that I just mailed the steno machine and the theory books to Ms. More. Hopefully she will be able to figure out how to make the steno keyboard as easy to memorize as she did the QWERTY keyboard.

Good luck, Frances!

Update (03OCT06)

Back Online ...!

Longest buncha weeks I've ever spent, let me tell ya ... missed all of the summer season of Stargate: SG1 and Stargate Atlantis ... missed all the episodes of Eureka ... and the last season of Dark Angel, the show that brought Jessica Alba to the attention of the world (well, most of it, anyway).

Jessica Alba in "Dark Angel"

Jessica Alba, star of the Fox Network's 2003 series "Dark Angel," oversees Seattle from a different perspective

Best of all, the internet is working again, so I can *finally* start participating in the two online classes I enrolled in unknowingly (see what happens when you miss orientation?) for my Instructional Design course; buncha chapters to read, buncha tests to take ... a busy two weeks coming up.

Think I'll start next week.

It's That Time of Year Again ...

Yes, that's right ... it's October, and you know what *that* means.

No, not the month before the dentist makes the most money; rather, it's that time of year where I update Different Dictation ... this time, early enough for you to actually get ready to record about four hours worth of ghost stories from your radio to your VCR!

Honey, I think it's for you!

"Honey, I think this guy wants to talk to you!"

This time, the update includes instructions on getting the audio off of the VCR, into your laptop, and onto your iPod.

Enjoy!

TeLiTor Redux

I added an update to my TeLiTor experience; scroll down for "Temptation ... Frustration (Part DUH)."

Eventually, I'll roll all this into the Good Stuff ... but for now, all continuations will be stuck under the most recent "Temptation ..." update.

Update (01OCT06)

digitalCAT Training Videos

Have you seen them?

That's right ... I'm talking about the new digitalCAT training videos.

With Stenovation's recent site makeover also came a change in the format of their training videos: Gone now is the TechSmith video format, yielding the way to ... well, something I can actually see on my Mac (couldn't see a thing before).

Not only has the format changed, but there are a lot more of them ...! If you haven't taken a look yet, stop by and take a look. I think you'll be impressed.

"Life's a Peach" Update

Those few of you who were actually brave enough to try my Cheap and Sleazy Peach Iced Tea recipe might find this of (some) interest ....

I recently found a plain-Jane Lipton teabag stashed away in one of my backpacks (no, not the Rolling Backpack being sold by Stenograph these days ... I'm talking about my Kensingon Saddlebag that I use to carry my laptop(s) around in) ... and, finding myself one teabag short the other day while making my usual peach iced tea, I took that Lipton teabag and combined it with one of those Mango Ceylon teabags ... and what a tasty combination that was ...!

If you've given up on Lipton tea after reading about the Cheap and Sleazy Peach Iced Tea, don't throw those teabags out just yet ...!

"Temptation ... Frustration ... So Bad it Makes Him Cry ...."

Well, okay ... so I'm not really crying, though I am a bit on the frustrated side ... but that's because I have been playing with the TeLiTor demo of late.

Some time back, one of my (now former) classmates gave me a TeLiTor demo disk; seems she used to work with a relative of the man behind TeLiTor (and AdvoCAT; long gone), and he found out that she was going to court reporting school, and ... well, one thing lead to another, and he gave her a demo CD.

Unfortunately (?), she didn't have a realtime capable writer, so she gave the disk to me.

I had problems importing my dictionary, so it sat on my hard drive for quite a while ... then (a year or so later) I sent them an e-mail, asking how one would go about importing an .rtf dictionary into the program.

It took them a while, but I finally got them to send me a "backup" copy of the Phoenix Theory dictionary ... and, after much fumbling around and consulting the manual, I was able to get it to recognize my ProCAT Flash -- sort of; I have to set the Flash to run in Baron emulation mode -- and to accept that backup dictionary as my main dictionary.

Alas, that dictionary was a heavily modified dictionary ... so my translation rate was maybe about 10 percent of the 100 or so strokes I tried.

True, I am a bit out of practice ... but not that much ... so I searched the dictionary for one of those phrases from the Magic Drill: "I can't" -- which, in my theory (Phoenix), is stroked /KWRA*.

This dictionary had /KWR-PBT.

Searched for a few more ... and they were all wrong ....!

As the demo (version 4.3.1, by the way) limits me to the number of dictionaries I can use, I used digitalCAT's Dictionary Maintenance program to create a sort of uber-dictionary -- which, naturally, I named Uber -- and I merged all of my little dictionaries into it: The new Contractions dictionary (a recent update to the Phoenix Theory dictionary), Glenz, Lindsey, and QAFast (those of you that read "Dictionaries 'r' Us" might remember what these dictionaries were for).

I then exported Uber to .rtf format ... and there, I'm stuck, because of the primitive state of TeLiTor's dictionary tools (which, as I said, is why TeLiTor has sat unused on my hard drive all this time: I could not get it to import an .rtf dictionary!).

Because I'm a glutton for punishment a stubborn and determined kinda guy, I'm going to take my PC laptop with me to a local bookstore that has (ta-da!) free wireless internet ... and I'm going to see if that "Update" menu item will do anything.

If not, it turns out that the offices of TeLiTor are not too far from me ... so some time next week, it may be time for a road trip ... PC laptop and steno machine in hand ... and we'll see what happens from there.

Stay tuned!

"Temptation ... Frustration ... " (Part DUH)

Took the ol' PC laptop to my local bookstore with free wireless internet (which, by the way, wouldnt allow me to send all the e-mails I had typed through my cheapandsleazy.net mail server ... grrr!!), stuck the wireless card I normally use for my Apple Newton into my Mighty Toshimba's PCMICA slot, and was online within seconds ... then I fired up TeLiTor, logged in (another whine for another time, by the way), and clicked the Update Software menu item.

TeLiTor kindly informed me that the software had been updated ... but I noticed that the version number in the bottom of the screen never changed, nor did anything download that I could see ... so I highly doubted it.

Next I clicked the "Go to TeLiTor Homepage" button on the toolbar, and manually downloaded an update (version 6.0.4).

I quit TeLiTor, started the new version, and noted the version number reflected the new version number (better than that silly alert that told me "Software Update Successful!" before, that's for sure).

I then checked to see if I could import an .rtf dictionary, with, alas, no joy.

Next, I checked to see if I could select the ProCAT Flash as my writer from the list.

Again, no joy.

I noticed, however, that I could select the Treal and the Mira, two relatively new writers ... but no Flash, which has been around since, what, 1994?! Why is that ...?

Ah, well.

Since I (still) can't import my .rtf dictionaries, nor can I select the ProCAT Flash as my writer, it looks like I'll be making a trip to the TeLiTor home offices, laptop and steno machine in hand ...! I'm sure I won't be able to do anything about the writer ... but hopefully, I can get the dictionaries working, at least ... perhaps, though, they need a Flash to get a sample of the protocol ...? Hmmmm ....

Stay tuned for Part Troi ... Toi ... uh, Three!

Update (29SEP06)

Dictionaries 'r' Us

Way back when I started Theory, I picked up a copy of the book The Real-Time Writer's Manual: A Common-Sense Guide for Court Reporters, by Ed Varallo, RPR (at the time of publication (1992); today he's an RMR, CRR, and FAPR ("Fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporting) ... and the winner of the 2006 national speed championship (win number 6, ten years after win number 5!)).

As I was still in theory, when I looked through the book at that time nothing (well ... not much) made sense to me ... but looking at it a few years later (after having dug it out of a box of books after my Big Move of a couple years back), a lot of it makes sense ... plus, I found more of those Q&A extensions I wrote about in Dictionaries 'r' Us.

I included an update about some of the extensions Mr. Varallo mentions in his book. If you are using those Q&A extensions, that update is a must for you ...! You can find the update at the end of Dictionaries 'r' Us.

I have also updated the Links page to reflect the new and improved (and spammer-free!) digitalCAT forum.

Also note that Stenovations has updated their website's look and feel; looks nice!

Look and Feel

If you're reading ol' Cheap and Sleazy on a Mac, you might notice a difference in the font; seems I left out a font definition in my .css file! Silly me ....

Fixed that.

Let me know if it's too small ....

Projections

Coming up Real Soon Now™ is an article on using your CAT software, the Drill Machine, Speed Teacher, and Ace Reader Pro (a speed reading program), to build speed.

Why a speed reading program, you ask?

Well, why not? Here's a screenshot of Ace Reader Pro in action on my Mac (and yes, there is a Windows version):

Ace Reader Pro, with the Top 100 loaded.

Ace Reader Pro, with the Top 100 Loaded

Basically, Ace Reader Pro is kinda like a combination of the Drill Machine and Speed Teacher: You get the words in the middle of the screen like in Speed Teacher ... but you can load your own drills, like in the Drill Machine! How cool is that?!?

Did I mention the top speed of Ace Reader Pro is 3500 wpm?

While I don't think I'll be able to steno that fast anytime soon (I think that speed would probably cause smoke in the mechanics of my steno machine!!), it is nice to know that I can set Ace Reader Pro to, say, 400 wpm if I wanted to take on Mark Kislingbury someday ... but, I think I'd best work on getting out of my 100s first.

Just a thought.

Anyway ... that one is in the hopper, and about 33 percent complete. I think (I hope) that one will be done by November.

Watch for it ...!

Update (14SEP06)

Big (Cheap and Sleazy) Congrats ...!

A big (Cheap and Sleazy) CONGRATS and a virtual high-five to my cyber-friend, Binita Shrestha. Binita recently passed her final Q&A test, and is officially no longer a starving student (unless you count the "BILLIONS OF DOLLARS" she recently spent on that new A3 Mira ...). Hopefully, she will continue to update her blog; she is quite the writer.

Way to go, Bini ...!

Induced Arachnaphobia

Last week, I went to a book signing by Whitley Strieber (see Different Dictation), my just-delivered copy of "The Grays" in hand.

Alas, I arrived late (frelling traffic ...), but during the lecture, Whitley told a story about how he woke up in the middle of the night, and saw two very large spiders hanging from his ceiling.

big-a*s spider

Big-A*s Spider (yes, that's a technical term!)

If, when you read "very large" above, you immediately pictured a couple of spiders the size of your average tarantula, get that picture out of your head ... and replace those wimpy tarantula-sized spiders with a pair of spiders ... the size of sheep.

Did I mention these spiders were apparently experiencing some difficulty in hanging onto the ceiling?

Whitley says he did what any normal human would do: He got out of that bed as quick as he could, and made for the door ...!

Unfortunately, he realized he left his wife sound asleep in the bed under that dangling pair of spiders ...!

Hmmm ... what to do, what to do ....

:o)

I was tempted to just leave this one hanging right there ... but I will take pity on you and fill in some blanks.

It seems that, during the nightly meditation sessions Whitley was having with the Grays back then, the Grays discovered an image in Whitley's mind of a woman not his wife, that he found physically attractive (though odious of personality). They kept bringing this image up to him night after night ... and in an effort to make him choose (a morals thing), they created the giant spiders as an object lesson for him.

So. What did Whitley do?

He went back to that bed, stooping over to avoid hitting the (now lower) hanging spiders with his hair, and lay protectively over his wife for the rest of the night.

(Hmmm ... I don't recall him saying if he got any sleep that night ....)

Update (06SEP06)

ATTENTION CRI STUDENTS (Seattle, Tacoma, Boise, San Diego):

Marc Greenberg, over at Simply Steno.com has some information for you ...!

Do. Not. Miss. This.

Update (29AUG06)

Well. Seems my former CR school has closed ...! Yes, all four campuses. You can read about it here.

Some time in the not-too-distant, I plan on writing an article about what I'd like to see in a brick-and-mortar CR school ... but here's how my dream court reporting school would work:

First day, six months before the RPR or CSR exams are given, you walk in, sign a few papers, and take your luggage to your assigned room (yes, that's right: You live on the campus. Those that can't live on campus (i.e., they have responsibilities) signed up three months earlier ... but will still graduate with you).

That day, you join your state's court reporting association and the NCRA (because you have to be a member of the NCRA for six months before you can take the RPR or CSR), are issued a laptop, a copy of CAT software, and a realtime-capable steno machine ... and you sit down in class that evening, where you are first taught to memorize the steno keyboard -- without looking at the keyboard while learning to do so (kinda like this typing course I found (and pointed out to the NCRA) a few years ago).

Six months later, you walk out of the CSR or RPR exam center, and your schooling is 99 percent done ... but you don't remember the preceding six months, thanks to some rather advanced hypnotic, neurolinguistic programming and accelerated learning tricks ... but you have the skill, you have the speed, and you are employable -- because (while you don't know it yet) you aced that test ...!

One final day in school, where (while fully conscious this time) you demonstrate your new skills, both to your instructors and (more importantly) to yourself ... at which point you are set up with several internships (have to kill time while you're waiting for those test results, y'know), and sent on your way out into the world.

A few weeks later, the test results are posted on the NCRA's website, you get a call from one of your instructors, telling you that you are now an official graduate, and your certificate is in the mail ... and you can (finally!) go to work.

You received glowing reviews from the companies you interned with ... and you can work for any one (or two) you wish.

All in six months ...!

(Hey ... a guy can dream, can't he?)

Update (22AUG06)

Got digitalCAT woes?

Moe Ponders digitalCAT

Click the picture for the cure.

Update (21AUG06)

Birthday Greets

First, a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my older sister, Linda Jean! She will be turning (*mumble mumble*) years old of age ... and, as usual, she will get the obligatory "Happy Birthday" e-mail from me, her (much) younger brother, to which there are no attachments, gifts, strings, or anything so crass as all of that (me being a starving student and all) ... just my wishes to her for a happy birthday.

Don't say I never gave you nothin', Sis ...!

If I may make a suggestion to aid in the celebration ... perhaps a Cheap and Sleazy Mocha would hit the spot ....

And now, some Rumor Control ....

Yes, the Rumors Are True ....

Yes, that's right ... I have left my school ... and this past weekend, I began my training in a new field entirely ....

Trade-offs are Us

Would You Give Me Your ProCAT Stylus for a Pair of These ...?

Yes, that's right ... I have traded in my steno machine for a pair of big, floppy shoes, and am heading off to Clown College ...!

"We All Float Down Here ..."

"We All Float Down Here ..."

What, you don't believe me?

Good ... 'cause I'm pulling your (collective) legs -- at least about the Clown College bit.

The truth is I *have* left Seattle's Court Reporting Institute, and am now in an accelerated program in Instructional Design at a local satellite of Southern Illinois University at Charbondale.

I'm sure some of you are scratching your heads and wondering, "What the frell is an Instructional Designer, and what do they do?"

Basically I am learning to create courses for adult learners. This goes well with my other two certificates in Technical Writing and Web Design and Development ... and this site is put together using skills from both of these disciplines -- more or less.

Class meets every other weekend at McChord Air Force base, about 50 miles south of home. I show up on Saturdays at 8:00 in the morning, leave at 4:00 in the afternoon, and come back the next day for a repeat performance.

Thus far, I have gone through two days of this school ... and on the fourth day (say "The Sunday of our next session"), we have our first midterm!

The course will last a year, at the end of which I should have (or be very close to having) a BS degree in Instructional Design.

"Dude -- What about your (cheap and sleazy) Website?"

Well, it's not going anywhere ... but there may be some pages for class projects and such in the not-too-distant (though you may or may not see them ....).

Steno-wise, since the ID program meets every other weekend, I plan on signing up for Simply Steno sometime next month. Rumor has it that Marc is ecstatic pleased not as unhappy as I'd thought he'd be with my pending "arrival."

As for my final day at CR school, ace theory instructor (how many theory instructors do you know that have memorized the entire theory book?) Erin McCartney threw a small party for me.

Yes, she went all out (with the help of some of my classmates, of course ... and a big thanks to them as well!). She had most of my favorites: Chocolate ... coffee ... turkey ... there was even a cute li'l card.

The *Real* Story Behind the "Going Away" Turkey

Some of my fellow students were wondering why there was turkey (no, not a whole one) at my going away party. Well, there's a story behind that particular dish ....!

During Erin's first week at CRI, I played an accidental practical joke on her. Seems she was trying to figure out what to bring to a potluck we were going to have sometime next week to commemorate our Thanksgiving break, and I (being the helpful sort that I am and all) naturally suggested turkey.

I told her she could buy the turkey on the way home, take it out of the freezer the following Monday, put it in the oven Wednesday, come to work, and by the time she got home from work, it would be done!

Of course, I was kidding ... but she said, "I couldn't do that --! Could I?"

I said, "Sure --! If you time it right, it'll be great!"

The next day, she came up to me, and said excitedly, "Glen! I did it! I bought the turkey!", and I said, "You know I was just kidding, right?"

The expression on her face was classic, as she said, "Glen! Don't do that to me!"

And that, ladies and germs, is why there was turkey at my going away party.

Thank you, Erin!

As for the turkey, it did not go to waste; rather, it went to feed Erin's family, who (despite not knowing about it -- until now) got to benefit from my (accidental -- I swear!) practical joke.

You're Welcome, McCartney Clan!

Update (17AUG06)

Yes, another day, another article ...! This time, an article that talks about the differences between the ProCAT Flash and the Stenograph 400 SRT.

Darth Vader

"You Don't Know the Power ...."

Specifically, this article will tell you why you should seriously consider spending the extra $$$ and buying a refurbished Flash instead of a new 400 SRT.

Crazy?

Maybe ... or maybe not. Read for yourself, and decide.

"What does Darth Vader have to do with the Flash or the 400?", you ask?

An excellent question ...!

What, that answer wasn't good enough for you?

Okay ... how's this one: "It's all about power, baby."

Update (15AUG06)

It wasn't my fault.

If you read my recent piece on keeping your laptop cool, you might have noticed that I referred to some major computer company recalling its laptops because the batteries caused a bit of a heating problem.

Imagine my surprise when my local paper had -- above the fold, mind you -- the news that Dell Computer was recalling thousands of laptops because of some battery problem ...!

Talk about timing ....!

Did I mention it wasn't my fault?

Update (13AUG06)

"No Phone, no Cable, no Internet ... Missing all my Luxuries ..."

Well, okay, so there's no future for me in the jingle writing field ... but, thanks to a surprise bill this month (and a slow-paying attorney ... grrr!!!), I am off the air, internet-wise.

Fortunately, I was exaggerating about the cable being off (thank God --! I'd go nuts!) ... but the internet is down, and my phone (being a Vonage customer and all) is down.

Worse, my friendly neighbor with the unsecured wireless connection has apparently moved ...! This means I have to get my internet fix at my local Apple store, at work, or at some local eatery with free wireless (note to self: Look for local eatery with free wireless ...!!).

For you, this means that I have more time to write (since I can't play chess on the internet like I normally would be doing) ... so expect two more articles next week ...!

And, speaking of new articles, I just added two new (sort of) ones: One is a page to hold all the Drill Machine files (make sure you download that batch of drills to go with it!), and another to address something all laptop owners should know about: The heat issue ... which laptops seem to suffer from more and more these days ...!

To be sure, there are numerous solutions to that heating problem ... but in this article, I show you a (cheap and sleazy) way to keep your laptop cool, thanks to a question posted by Heidi on the Phoenix Theory Forum, and a relatively cheap (and sleazy) solution by Gemini Girl Charity Chainus. Best of all, it will cost you about $5.00 ...!

Did I mention "cheap?"

Lastly, I (finally!!!) finished updating the Links page ... and have activated all the links that point to it (you weren't supposed to see any at all ... but I got sloppy).

Update (03AUG06)

CSS Fix ... Sort of.

Recently, I sent an e-mail to the Ask the Experts editors at Practical Web Design magazine asking about my IE woes (see the update for 31JUL06). It took a while, but they sent me a rather detailed answer which fixed one of the problems (the "Off With Their Heads!" one). They were pretty much stumped on the resizing issue, but they did promise to publish my e-mail (and any answers they come up with) in the next issue (number 33). Looks like I may have to forego that trip to Sizzlers (did I mention the magazine costs about $15.00 an issue?).

Hopefully, the other experts on their staff will have a good work-around for me for those other IE-related issues ... but I still recommend that you all download and install Firefox.

Up for Some Fast Q&A?

Heh. I've had this file sitting on my hard drive for quite some time that I have been meaning to upload for your edification and delight (sure hope you all remember that "edification" has nothing to do with the process of becomming Edward ...!).

Alas, I don't know how fast this is, but turn on your writer, fire up your CAT software, and click here.

For those of you who would rather read it (yes, I'm talking about those folks that sneak downstairs at Christmas time and shake the packages to guess what's inside), you can read the text here.

Update (01AUG06)

"Life's a Peach ...!"

I don't know if you've noticed, but it's been a bit warm up her in the Pacific North Wet (and Elsewhere) of late ...!

This (and the fact that I promised to have this done in the summer) has prompted me to get on the stick and finish that article on the Cheap and Sleazy Peach Iced Tea that I mentioned in the Cheap and Sleazy Mocha piece sometime back.

As you might guess, it's done!

Jones Organic Red Peach Tea

Thirsty?

Alas, you'll have to make a few trips to the store to get a lot of the ingredients (what, you didn't think this would be a matter of dropping a tea bag into a cup and adding ice, did you? Sheesh ....). Trust me when I tell you: On a hot day, this will definitely hit the spot ...!

And apparently we're in for a lot of hot days in various parts of the world. For those of you going through a heatwave, this one's for you.

Update (31JUL06)

Oops (Frelling Internet Explorer ...)

It has been brought to my attention that some of you are having difficulties viewing the pages on ol' Cheap and Sleazy ... you know, issues where the print is too small, and increasing the size has no effect, or the first line is chopped in half, etc.

I was aware of the chopped off first line in the articles, but learning about the size issue was a bit of a shock ...!

Here's an example of the one I knew about (if you click the image, you can see the full size view):

IE Screws Up Cheap and Sleazy

"Off With Their Heads --!"

I've been trying to find a way to fix the "Off With Their Heads" thing, but thus far, no joy -- except this one solution:

Get Firefox

Get Firefox NOW!!!

"Dude -- Why Don't You Just, Like, You Know, Fix It, or Some Junk?"

A fair question (is that you, Babs Bunny?).

Babs Bunny

Babs Bunny

Unfortunately, the answer is I don't know how.

My website is coded in XHTML and CSS, which is supposed to be a universal standard so that everything works in all browsers ... but Microsoft, being Microsoft, apparently decided that they knew better than the World Wide Web Consortium -- you know, the international body that decides what goes into markup languages and such -- which results in pages that don't display properly in IE, and therefore requires work-arounds.

Alas, I don't know the work-arounds ... but the "Get Firefox" work-around will do the trick, because Firefox was written to conform to those afore-mentioned standards.

Fear Not

If you're worried about installing another browser and losing the "functionality" of IE, don't worry ... you're not replacing IE when you install Firefox. You're just installing another program.

During the installation, Firefox's installer will offer to import all of your bookmarks from IE. If you have a lot, select the "Yeah, Sure--!" (or whatever it says) option.

It will also ask if you want to set it as your default browser. This choice is up to you, but if you say yes and later change your mind, running Internet Explorer again (you know: Start --> Run, and type iexplore.exe) and agreeing to allow it to be your default browser will change things back.

That said, two features I like in Firefox: Tabbed browsing, and Begin Finding When Typing.

Tabbed browsing is where you have one window open, with multiple pages on tabs (CNTRL-T creates a new tab, by the way) ... like so:

Tabs 'r' Us

Firfox Tabs in Action

You can use the keyboard to navigate between tabs by using CNTRL-#, where # means any number from 1 to 9. In the above picture, pressing CNTRL-3 will make the third tab (here, the Phoenix Theory Forum) active.

The "Begin Finding While Typing" option is a quick way to search a page. For instance, somewhere on the main page (and the archive page), I mention "The Duck Story." If you wanted to find it in IE, you would use the Find command (you remember -- CTRL-F), and type the word "duck."

With Firefox's Find While Typing enabled, all you would have to do would be to type the word "duck," and -- well, take a look:

Firefox's Find While Typing in Action

Firefox's Find While Typing in Action

If the first word found is the wrong instance of the word, a simple CNTRL-G will find you the next instance of the word you're searching for.

I could go on, but (as I have been known to say from time to time) I'll spare you.

So ... if any of you are having issues with ol' Cheap and Sleazy displaying incorrectly, or are just plain scared about installing Firefox, the solution is simple:

Get Firefox!!

Update (22JUL06)

Anybody Want a Free Rolling Backpack?

Rolling Backpack

Stenograph's Rolling Backpack

Yes, that's right ... you can get one of Stenograph's Rolling Backpacks absolutely free ... with the purchase of a new steno machine.

No, I'm not talking about just any new steno machine. Rather, I'm talking about the soon-to-be-introduced Stenograph Protege:

The Protege

Stenograph's Protege: The Student Version of the Fusion

Nick Ridge, Stenograph's Educational Advantage rep, called me the other day and (*cough*) leaked a few details about this writer, and the student version of the elan Cybra (which, by the way, can be thought of as a "Mini Mira," while the Protege can be thought of as a "Mini Fusion).

The release of these two writers, to be announced at next month's NCRA convention, marks the end of the Stentura 200 (already dead) and the Stentura 400 (on the Endangered list; ETD: August).

"Dude. How Much?"

The student version of the Cybra will set you back $1535 ... but you should be aware that instead of the 200 page memory of the current Cybra, this one only has a 50 page memory.

The Protege? $1440 -- only if your school is part of the Investment Certificate Program; otherwise, it's also $1535 (alas, Simply Steno students are not part of this program -- at least, not yet ...).

Did I mention that free backpack?

The Protege has the afore-mentioned backpack ("Any color you want, as long as it's black," by the way), USB and serial connectors (USB only with Case Catalyst), bluetooth (say "wireless") capability, and a small LCD ("that's Liquid Crystal Display, in case you were wondering).

The LCD does not display your notes in English ... nor does it display your steno notes ... but it does show the status of the battery, the memory, and provides a visual indication that your strokes are actually ... um ... doing something.

Alas, the .pdf doesn't show much in the way of detail on the display, but here's what it looks like:

Protege's LCD

The Protege's LCD

And, speaking of batteries ... howzabout 12 hours on a charge? And these writers are also eligible for the $1,000 trade-in credit, like the 400s ... also, since the 400s are effectively discontinued when this writer is released, expect to see a lot of them for sale within the next couple months!

Oh, and here's the new Cybra:

The New Student Cybra

The New Student Cybra

In comparing the two writers, did you happen to notice the colorful bit there in the middle of each writer? That is a removeable piece of plastic. Rumor has it that there will be a cottage industry built around customizing these with your own pictures, your school's logo, or a picture of that less-than-significant-other you entered CR school to get away from (talk about "real motivation!"), or ... well, whatever you want!

Oh, if you wish to see the .pdf for the Cybra, click here.

As I mentioned, these won't be announced until next month's NCRA convention ... but when they are announced, expect a delay from 20 to 25 days when ordering.

Did I mention that free rolling backpack?

Update (16JUL06)

What do the names Bruce Lee, William Shakespeare, and Commander William Riker have in common?

They all appear in my new piece, Dictionaries 'r' Us!

The Bride

Did I mention The Bride has a cameo?

Sure hope you did as I suggested and studied that Magic Drill I mentioned a few days ago ...

Update (12JUL06)

You've seen it ... and it caused you to wonder.

What's that? I'm talking about Gemini Revisited: Is the Gemini a writer to stay away from ... or is it just the PDA? ... or was it just bad luck?

Thanks to the poking and prodding of one of my fellow starving students on the Yahoo group CourtReportingStudents, Gemini Girl Charity Chainus has written an update to her look at the PDA that came with her Gemini Writer.

I think it will answer a few of those questions.

Update (11JUL06)

So. How's your command of "technobabble?"

Up here in the Pacific North Wet, home of Microsoft, Real Networks, and a whole bunch of other high-tech companies, working reporters in this area need to be up on their technobabble -- er, tech-speak.

But what happens if the assigned reporter is not up to the task? Why, they end up getting talked about on court reporting sites ...! My cyberfriend Binita Shrestha has a story for you.

And, while I'm at it, I found a link over on the Depoman forum that tells the sad tale of the attorney who had the unfortunate habit of saying "Okay" before every question (which, believe me, gets old *quick*).

The problem? The judge found it annoying as well!

Like the blogger wrote above this bit, "This court session was brought to you by the letters O and K."

The story is here ... just search for the phrase, "O and K" and you'll find it.

Update (09JUL06)

Well, it finally happened.

That's right ... I have yielded to the pressure foisted upon me by my now former HTML editor, Tag. Seems that every time I type <p class= "body"> to begin a paragraph, Tag will helpfully insert the word "body" for me ... but I type rather fast, and the insertion is rather slow, so instead of "body," I get "bdoy."

As you might guess, that is extremely annoying ...!

What that means for you is ... well, not much ... but instead of using the bought-and-paid-for Tag, I am now using skEdit to do the work.

I liked Tag, but in truth, during the evaluation period, it kept on nagging me to buy the application ... so I yielded to pressure and paid the shareware fee ... only to find later that the nifty new updates were for MacOS 10.4, which is a $130 upgrade for me ...!

So those two factors have made me switch back to skEdit ... which is being pressed into service as we speak (well ... you know what I mean) to update The Good Stuff piece (fixing dead links, etc.)

Once that's done, I have a couple links to add to the Different Dictation piece; seems there's a couple more shows out there that need to be added!

Once I'm done with that update, it's back to the Dictionaries piece (you *have* been working with The Magic Drill, haven't you? Sure hope so ...!). While I did mention that it was about 75 percent done, I may have over-guestimated ... so we're talking, maybe 55 percent.

Interestingly, the developer of skEdit is rumored to be about 18 ... looks like I'm going to have to send the young man some DUH-neiro ("DUH" because I allowed myself to be bullied into buying Tag in the first place ...!).

Ah, well ... live and learn ....

Heh. Just noticed skEdit kept my Preferences from when I was testing it before ... and all font selections, browser preview selections, etc. are as they used to be! Very cool ....

Update (07JUL06)

Did some "consulting" over the weekend for my on-again, off-again boss (see the 10JUN06 update) who asked me to come in over the weekend to finish a transcript that HAD to be done and delivered by 9:00 AM the following Monday ...!

Got 'er done!

Also did a smaller consulting job for her a few days before; seems one of the office computers wouldn't start after I had worked on it the night before ... so I got a frantic phone call and an e-mail for help. Didn't get the e-mail until two hours later (hey, no work means up all night, sleep (mostly) all day!). Called in, and the office manager said she just gets a blank screen on startup.

Told her to disconnect the USB floppy drive attached to the computer and restart. She did, just as the tech walked in. The computer rebooted, and worked fine!

Still had to pay the tech for coming out though ($75!!).

Oops.

I explained to the office manager the basics of the boot process ... and simplified it by telling her if that happened again, make sure there aren't any floppies in the drive.

Something to add to Got Fear? one of these days -- and I do mean, "one of these days." If you only knew some of the things I have planned for ol' Cheap and Sleazy ...! I'd tell you now, but -- well, what the heck. I can at least give you a hint.

Howzabout a review of each CAT program out there, by *working reporters*? I'm still hammering out the structure on those ... not to mention nailing down the writers (I have two thus far: One for Eclipse, the other for digitalCAT).

The other? Howzabout an article on speedbuilding by an instructor with ... well, let's just say, more than a couple years of experience?

This instructor will also talk about doing a thorough theory review before getting into the mechanics of speed building ... so it should help everybody, I'd guess.

Well, students, anyway.

As for the when of it all, the first project requires, as I said, a bit of a common structure to be put together ... then I have to scare up some working reporters that want to take the time to write for my (cheap and sleazy) website. As this site is financed solely by Yours Truly, there's no pay -- unless I can convince someone to accept a cheapandsleazy.net e-mail address ... but somehow, I don't think that will work!

I am sure that I will get more writers, though ... so hopefully, they'll be mostly done by October.

As for the speedbuilding piece, that will be (hopefully) ready in about two months ... health of my secret author permitting, of course.

Stay tuned ....!

Update (01JUL06)

"Our writers are available in any color you want, as long as its black."

Anyone ever hear that from a vendor? Did it make you, shall we say, less than pleased?

If so, never fear, because AJ Steno has a way around it ... and it's (kinda-sorta) illustrated below:

Pimp my steno

Representing Missouri-land, Jah!

A big THANK YOU to Elsa J. for sending me those pictures of her friend Stacy's "steno styled" machine! As you can see, I have put them to some use ....

Also a tip o' the hat to the guys and gals at Volkswagen for making those weird commercials (which is where I got the idea ... but if you have no clue what I'm talking about, check out these on You Tube ... but be careful! This site can be addicting ....).

Update (30JUN06)

"All Good Things ..."

Yes, it's true: I am no longer part of the Allegis team.

Fired One

Don't Let the Doorknob Hitcha

On the plus side, that means there is one more opening at Allegis!

Fired Two

Ah, well ....

Just kidding, Karla! (Uh ... you *did* see that Dave Barry quote at the top of the page, right? Ha! Ha!)

Lessons Learned

While my time at Allegis did come to an untimely end (yes, the above pictures are a bit of an exaggeration ... but I found this old Three Stooges cartoon somewhere and I saw that sequence and I knew it just *had* to use them to puntuate my demise at Allegis), I did learn something.

One thing I learned is that after six years of having my on again, off again boss stand over me and complain whenever I put in an Um, Uh, or false start, and as a result of that, learning to *not* hear those Ums, Uhs, and false starts, well, it's hard to change.

The other thing I learned is that if you can't hear a word on the tape, take the tape out, and put it back. Amazingly, that word you couldn't hear will become much clearer --!

Alas, I didn't learn that until the day before my last day. Hopefully this little tidbit will do some good for those who come after me -- or works as a transcriptionist anywhere else.

Another thing I learned was several outlines for Q&A. In fact, after a lot of trying, I came very close to passing my 100 Q&A a couple weeks back ...! Missed by about four points ... and I lost those four points because I had my writer cleaned and adjusted ... and when it came back, it was cutting off the top of the letters --! Got it fixed, but still, that test was over and done with.

I'll have a bit more to say about this Q&A bit in my forthcoming piece on dictionaries.

Drill Machine Update

I received an e-mail from Stephen Shastay the other day (the answer to which, I'm still working on). He was ecstatic happy okay with my having the Drill Machine on my site, even though he has fixed his links ... so the Drill Machine will have a permanent home here at ol' Cheap and Sleazy. Eventually I will put together a page with the links for the various versions of the Drill Machine and put it in the navigation bar.

Alas, Stephen Shastay is still feeling a bit on the run-down side of things, but he's working on it.

Dictionary Article

If you've been reading ol' Cheap and Sleazy for a while, you may remember that I recommended that you read and practice the phrases presented in Stephen Shastay's Magic Drill article. I sure hope you have been doing that ...! The Dictionary piece is about 70 percent complete ... and (as a sneak preview), thus far, I have managed to quote (more or less) Shakespeare, Commander Riker from "Star Trek: The Next Generation," and Bruce Lee.

If that doesn't scare you off, you may enjoy the article!

Update (14JUN06)

Please, Please, Puh-LEASE

Nope, that's not James Brown singing one of his classics from back in the day.

Instead, those mournful cries are what I heard from my boss today.

It seems that some of my fellow folks from Washington (FFFW, in case you were wondering) that wish to join the Allegis team have sent the questionnaire ... but failed to send the all important resume!

While she wasn't exactly beating her head bloody against the wall (which, by the way, would probably impact the damage deposit in a rather negative fashion), she wasn't exactly her usual happy-go-lucky self.

So, please, Please, Puh-LEASE include that resume with that questionnaire (those of you that have saved it), or your initial query (for those of you who missed the questionnaire).

Thanks, FFFW members!

Update (13JUN06)

Wither Drill Machine?

Well. If you've been reading my posts in the various forums, when pressed for (cheap and sleazy) speed building practice, one of the things I recommend is using Court Reporting Help.com's excellent program, the Drill Machine.

Unfortunately, the program is no longer there.

Now, I am sure it's a simple housekeeping issue, as Stephen Shastay has moved his site from ... well, wherever it was to servers owned by Yahoo ... and somewhere, some things got left behind.

Fortunately, I have a copy of the installation files on a CD ... so I have taken the liberty of uploading them for your use ...!

Of course, once I find that the files are again available over at courtreportinghelp.com, the files will disappear from ol' cheap and sleazy, out of respect for The Man Hisself(™).

And now, without further adieu ... er, igloo ... no, wait -- abu -- crap. Here they are:

Win98 version

If you get an error when you try to run the installer (WIN98 ONLY), you'll need to run this li'l file.

WinME version

Win 2000 version

WinXP version

Need some drills? Here's a few ....

Update (11JUN06)

Lots of Stuff ....

First, I've decided it would be a good idea to chop off a lot of stuff on the o'l main page here. Seems that when I made a .pdf out of the page, the page count hit 50 pages (!!) I took all that old stuff I chopped off and moved it here for those of you who might need to look back on some of the old stuff .... like, say, that nifty Duck story ... or that Cosbee vs. Sauron video ... or ... well, you know.

Warning!!

I am currently working on an article explaining the ins and outs of dictionaries (at least the basics; I don't know *everything* there is to know ...).

While I'm sure all you realtimin', Speed Teacher usin' speed demons already know all you need to know about dictionaries, rest assured that not everyone shares your knowledge (just look at the faces of theory students or new speed building students that hear the phrase, "That stroke isn't in your dictionary, so you'll have to put it in yourself.").

As part of this article, I will talk about a dictionary created especially for Q&A ... but before you read it, it would be Real Good if you were to take a look at Stephen Shastay's Magic Drill. For best effect, you should take those drills (in phrase-word-word format), translate them into your theory, and (duh --!) practice them.

Trust me -- when you read this dictionary article (especially that bit about the Q&A dictionary) you will be happy you did that bit of translation!

Steno Sighting

While celebrating my birthday a day later than I should have, I used a Blockbuster gift card that I got about three Christmasses ...Christmases ... three years ago and purchased a copy of Hoodwinked (very funny movie, by the way!). Even in the forest of Little Red Riding Hood, stenographers can find work, as illustrated below!

Hoodwinked The Movie Stenographer

Steno is Everywhere ...!

Alas, I can't quite get a shot without that pesky frog's legs stepping into the shot ... but I'll try again .... one of these days.

Googling Mysefl, Part DUH

Billy Idol

Googling Myself, Oh, Oh, Oh-Oh ... (Part DUH)

As you might know, I, on occassion, do a check of all the search engines for links to ol' Cheap and Sleazy. While doing a Google search for the phrase, "On the Cheap and Sleazy Side," I came across a page full of links to articles on my site, and a bunch of other places that had links to my site, mostly because of badly written spiders.

At the risk of putting you to sleep with techno-babble, a spider is a small program designed to search the web for certain terms, copy the web addresses, and build a web page based on that search -- more or less.

In Google's defense, their results page is (now) completely restricted to my site ... but the Yahoo results page needs some work!

I'll spare you the details, but my main page is linked on a page about "Cheap rushed term papers," a site that seems to be devoted to architectural CAD site (something about Case Catalyst tripped that bot), and a link on an Adaware Resource site.

I even saw a link to a page on passports ... because I mentioned Advantage Software's Passport.

I'm not whining -- much -- but I sure wish I could kill off those badly written spiders (oh, oh oh-oh ....)

Caught Up Wit' da Triple Six

As you probably heard on the news, a few days ago, the mildly significant date of 6-6-06 came and went, and everyone worried about bad omens and etc.

My personal brush with the Mark of the Beast came in the form of a bill from my crack apartment management team. Seems my roomie and I paid our (recently increased) rent and water bill ... but we were exactly $6.66 short!

So. Wrote that check for $6.66 and took it in to one of our crack apartment managment team's minions (she's new, so I guess -- technically -- I should go easy on her here ... ). I said, "I hear we owe you $6.66!", and she said, "Oh, yeah, I remember writing that note! Weirdest thing ... I wrote it on the 6th."

I politely suggested that next time, if the bill is for $6.66, feel free to add or subtract (HA! Fat chance ...) a penny. The minion laughed in my general direction, pulled a big lever on her desk, and I was whisked away through the ejection chute back to the walkway by the lake ... one step away from a rather large pile of goose droppings that have become so prevalent around here of late.

On the plus side, I now know where the term "Goose step" came from.

Lease expires in October. Hope to be leaving the geese, the "crack managment team," and their minions behind!

Update (10JUN06)

Big (one day after the fact) birthday celebration ...! My roomie went all out for me ... funny card, dinner (turkey, mashed potatoes, and corn), and a cake.

Thanks, roomie! :oP

Also, my on-again, off-again boss had a birthday today as well. If you're wondering how I ended up in court reporting school (and putting this site together), feel free to blame this woman:

The Boss

Ms. Linda Rough

What's that? You want to know how old she is today?

Why, 29, of course!

Update (08JUN06)

Ya Just Gotta Love Marketeers ...

I got an e-mail today from one of the ProCAT Sales reps. Don't know which one, but after reading it, I felt that I just had to share it with you:

It has never failed; ProCAT develops a technologically advanced product and the market follows its lead. Is it because ProCAT invents solutions that make sense? While others offer you a passport to nowhere and annual trade-in incentives, we create the solutions that are designed to last.

Did you see it? They managed to skewer both of their competitors in one sentence ...! Ya gotta admire that (but you don't necessarily have to emulate that in your dealings with other folks) ... and that's all I have to say about that.

Update (31MAY06)

Price Increase for digitalCAT coming?!

While perusing the NCRA Forum last night, I saw a post which basically said that digitalCAT was going up in price ... not to $40 ... not to $60 ... but a whopping $100!!!

Being a big supporter of DC, I had to find out the 411 ... so I fired off an e-mail.

The good news: There's a new build coming out (don't know when).

The bad(??) news: There is no solid news on the yay or nay of a price increase ... so if you are sitting on the fence about digitalCAT, perhaps (just perhaps ...) you should order that CD and manual NOW ... just in case.

Still thinking?

Picture this:

You decided to use Some Other CAT program (you know ... one with a hardware key). Through no fault of your own, your key breaks ... a mere 30 minutes before your BIG TEST!!!!

As the late Karl Malden used to say ....

Karl Malden

"What will you do? What will you do?"

Update (31MAR08) An alert reader sent me an e-mail to let me know that Karl Malden is still "alive and kicking," as pointed out here. Sorry about that, Karl!

Well, I don't know about you, but if I were in those hypothetical shoes, I would be most pleased that I was smart enough to buy that manual and CD ... and was even smart enough to export all my dictionaries from my old CAT program to RTF format, so I could take my test in peace.

But that's just me.

And now, some housekeeping issues.

Sometime last month, I consigned one of my fellow students to a wee bit o' flogging (you remember: (Fssss ... *CRACK!!!*).

Yes, that's right: Erin O. has finally done right by Yours Truly, and repaid my "donation" of two DVDs worth of paranormal talk radio (see Different Dictation for an idea of what I mean by "paranormal talk radio").

So for you, Erin O. ... LET THE FLOGGING BE ENDED!!!

Oh, and Erin O.'s status as one of the Flogged Ones™ prevented me from announcing that she (and another Erin from Green River Community College, Erin Whelan) managed to win a scholarship -- or more specifically, the Gary Hamilton Memorial Scholarship -- last month.

A big (cheap and sleazy) Congrats to you both ...!

Update (20MAY06)

digitalCAT by the Numbas

As you might have heard, for my fellow starving students, I recommend digitalCAT for their CAT software needs ... and, in some cases, I have even installed the software for some of my fellow students at my school.

Unfortunately, I am often rushed doing these installations ("Back to class, everybody! GLEN!!! Step AWAY from the computer!!"), so I sometimes forget to tell them about how to make their strokes for telephone numbers, social security numbers, etc. come out properly.

Recently, one of my (now former) fellow students sent me an e-mail asking how to make the numbers work properly in DC. I had set mine up so long ago that I had forgotten what I did ...! So, after much research and fretting about (translation: After putting things off for a day or so and looking at my setup in DC), I wrote Numbas especially for this student ... but I thought it might not hurt to let everyone else see it ... and I did.

Enjoy!

Finally, for those of you over at Stenovations whose hearts may have skipped a beat when you read that bit about my "unauthorized" installations, not to worry. They are told that they have to call you to be in the system ... and to get a copy of the manual and the software (and there's only been about six).

Update (12MAY06)

Apparently, response has been pretty good to my last "Want Work?" post. My boss says she got an e-mail from someone in Florida --!

Alas, Allegis isn't quite up to dealing with transcriptionists on that level ... which means you have to be in the state of Washington to be considered!

BUT ... if you are looking for work and you don't live here in the Pacific North Wet, scroll down to the 6FEB06 update.

In the meantime (for those of us who are in the Pacific North Wet), the blurb below has been changed slightly ...

Update (06MAY06)

Want Work? (Washington State ONLY!!)

Thanks to a friend of mine (who first got me started in this business of transcription work several years ago), I find myself working for a company called Allegis, where I use my steno machine to transcribe audio tapes (and the occasional digital audio CD) files into a Word template.

So, yes ... I am basically getting paid to practice with my steno machine!

For those of you in the state of Washington, my new boss would like you (yes, YOU --!) to join Allegis Communications -- IF you have a realtime ready writer and your own CAT software, and are fairly proficient with it, she wants to talk to YOU!

Yes, you CAN work at home ... but you'll need a fast internet connection (DSL, cable, etc.). You will also need some training, so plan on spending the day.

Anyway, here's a bit about the job:

At this time, we are seeking full-time, part-time, and overflow transcriptionists to transcribe recorded statements. All of our full-time transcriptionists are based out of our Seattle offices in Georgetown; however, we do provide flexibility to work at home two to three days per week after a probationary period. Part-time and overflow transcriptionists are given the opportunity to work at home after the completion of a brief training period.

At this time, all transcriptionists employed by Allegis Communications must be residents of Washington State.

Wages are hourly for full-time and part-time transcriptionists and range from $10.00 per hour to $15.00 per hour to start, depending on skills and experience. All wages are based on a production scale and are reviewed regularly. Some overtime may be offered at times and, if needed, is paid at one and one-half times the regular hourly wage. Overflow transcriptionists are paid by the page of the completed transcript.

Allegis employs both keyboard transcriptionists and court reporter-trained transcriptionists. We complete all of our transcripts in Microsoft Word; however, some of our court reporters work in specialized software and then transfer the text into Word when the transcription is complete.

Oh, did I mention there's benefits?

If you're interested, here's a more complete job description. If it sounds good to you, send an e-mail to Karla Ellison at the e-mail address provided in the job description.

Tell her I sent you -- and don't forget the bit about Washington state ONLY!

Update (27APR06)

And, Speaking of Stephen Shastay ...

The Man is back, and apparently operating at 120 percent -- not to mention firing on all 12 cylinders.

That's right ... he's back, and has not one, not two ... but four five (yes, that's right ... I said FOUR FIVE) steno-related programs for you to try! First, there's Brief Man 100 ... then there's Brief Man 1000 ... next, there's Phrase Boy 100 ... next, there's General Phrases ... and finally, for those of you who need help with your Case Catalyst commands, there's a soon-to-be-released quiz on the commands used in Case CATalyst. Read all about 'em on the Court Reporting Help.com home page!

But wait -- there's more --!

Publication appears to have resumed on "The Plateau" ... so I have replaced my superflous Chapter Six in my archived copy and left the current one. Hopefully we'll see the rest of this book Real Soon Now ...!

What's that? You say you missed the first five chapters, and don't want to start a book in the middle!? Well, I can't say I blame you there ... so, after having undergone a slight Cheap and Sleazy makeover, you can now download all six chapters here!

Guess that whip did some good after all, huh? (Fssss ... *CRACK!!!*)

(Oh, that one was for YOU, Ms. Erin O. --! And you know why!)

Let's just hope this whip thing works (at least) one ... more ... time!

(Fssss ... *CRACK!!!*) Y'know, somehow I find that oddly ... relaxing!

(Fssss ... *CRACK!!!*) Ahhh ....

Update (15APR06)

I got an e-mail from Stephen Shastay, the Head Cook and Bottle Washer over at Court Reporting Help.com the other day. I dont't know if you've noticed, but Mr. Shastay hasn't been updating his book, The Shastay Way of late. Being a bit of a writer, I thought that nearly five months with writer's block was a bit too much ... so I sent him an e-mail.

He sent me a reply. Turns out it wasn't writers block ... nor did he win the lottery and take off for the Paradise DUH-jour, either. No, instead Mr. Shastay was laid up with a low thyroid condition.

Basically, his energy just dwindled away, reaching it's worst in January. On the plus side, he's doing much better now ... and has come up with another steno-related computer program! It's not ready yet, but soon.

Glad you're doing better, Stephen! Now then ... back to work on that book ...! (Fssss ... *CRACK!!!*)

(That was the sound of a whip cracking, in case you were wondering ...)

:o)

In other "news," I received an e-mail from the VP of Operations over at Cheetah International, the makers of SmartCAT, letting me know that my list of specs in The Good Stuff for SmartCAT were a bit behind the times.

Naturally I fixed it ... then I checked the specs of everything else I had listed in that table (I made that table about two years ago; computers get faster in six month's time!) ... and fixed the ones that needed fixing.

Hardest to find were the specs for Eclipse ... but with the help of one of Advantage's tech support ninjas, I was able to update the table. As for the specs, you can find them inside the resources section; look for Hardware Requirements.

I'd link to it directly, but for some reason, that doesn't work ... so you'll have to take the route I provided above.

Finally, there's a pending update on student rates for AristoCAT, but I'll need to confirm it before I say what they are, exactly ... as well as a few other questions I have.

Stay tuned!

Also, just in case ...

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