The Archives (Part Trois)

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

Yup, that's right ...! Here there be (more) old stuff.

I didn't even bother trying to make a .pdf this time; I am, however, fairly sure that it would be massive!!

Enjoy (or at least try to look like you're enjoying ....)!


Update (10OCT07)

This 'n' That

First, as promised, here's the address for Marc "Simply Steno" Greenberg's new website:

http://stenowatchdog.com

This site depends on you (yes, YOU) the reader to add your thoughts and comments about all things steno.

Love your school? Submit a review!

Finding your school is a waste of time? Submit a review!

Find a cool steno-related website out there somewhere? Let everyone know about it ...!

Thus far, there aren't a lot of reviews ... so Marc needs you (yes, YOU!) to register and post your thoughts about this, that, and the other thing.

Good reviewing ...!

And, Speaking of Reviews ....

As you probably know, ol' Cheap and Sleazy does accept and/or solicit reviews from other voices (take a look at the reviews of the Stylus and the Gemini if you didn't know that). To that end, I am looking for reviews (with pictures!!) of both the Fusion and the Cybra (either version) to add to the few reviews I have here.

If you can help me (and your fellow starving students) with a review of these machines, shoot me an e-mail at gdwarner (at) cheapandsleazy.net.

Say ... did I mention the pictures?

The Man ... The Myth ... The Shazz --!

Stephen Shastay, the Man Hisself over at Court Reporting Help.com, has been hard at work lately! First, there's The Shazz:

The Shazz

"The Shazz"

... apparently a new cartoon he's been working on (of which, there only seems to be two) ... and then there's the updated blog entries:

http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.ListAll&friendID=90479913

Looks like I'll have to get back to work on that project of copying all these blog entries and pasting them into a massive Word document ....!

One of these days.

Finally, I noticed a few months back days ago that all the drills I downloaded for the Drill Machine from all the old versions of Court Reporting Help.com have been replaced by ... well, just ... one ... set of drills.

I am in the process of re-downloading those drills, through the arduous task of searching through all the old versions of Court Reporting Help.com over on the Way Back Machine for that long-promised piece on using the Drill Machine, Speed Teacher, and your CAT software (have to feed the Drill Machine something ...) to help the starving student in their quest to improve their speed and accuracy.

I have even added a couple of current ones to the mix!

Well. Best get back to work ....

Update (30SEP07)

"Forgive Me, Oh God of the Carnivorous Ones, for I Have Sinned ...."

Yes, that's right, I have violated one of the main principles of the Carnivorus Ones: I actually ate a 100% vegetarian dish ... and worse, I liked it!

The dish in question: Garden Burger Barbecue Riblets.

Garden Burger Riblets

Garden Burger Riblets: "Gettin' Ribby With It"

While the above link shows a picture of a rather adventurous culinary creation, my sinful meal was ... a sandwich.

Oh, and if you're like me when I initially saw the words "vegetarian" and "BBQ Riblets" together, you're probably thinking, "Wow, that must taste like ... YUCK!!" Am I right?

Well, if you've ever eaten a McRib sandwich, that's exactly what the Garden Burger Riblets taste like. I have to say I got lucky one night and got a box (two per) for $.99 (clearance sale). They're usually about $4.00 ... but definitely worth a try!

And yes, it does taste good with Jasmine rice!

Court Reporter ... turned Standup Comedienne?

Yes, that's right ... court reporter Kathy Long does standup!

Kathy Long:  Stenographer to Standup Comedienne

Kathy Long: Stenographer to Standup Comedienne

Click the picture to play the video.

Good stuff, Kathy.

Update (23SEP07)

Stylus Update

He likes it!  Hey, Mikey!

"She Likes it! Hey, Mikey!"

Yes, that's right ... April Davis, author of the review of the ProCAT Stylus, recently had her original Stylus converted over to the New and Improved Stylus II model ... and she sent me an update, which I have added to the existing review a mere few moments ago.

Some of you sharp-eyed readers might have noticed the caption for the picture just above this note ... and can guess how April feels about the conversion!

As for you young whipper-snappers that don't know what "Mikey" has to do with anything, feel free to click the picture ... and then take a look at this short article.

Also, I note that ProCAT has *finally* gotten around to pushing the Stylus on the main page! And I say "finally" because the original Stylus came out back in ... what, 2005? And now *finally* they have gotten around to pushing it on the main page!

Finally! :o)

One to Watch For

Marc Greenburg, the Head Man In Charge over at Simply Steno, Steno Life, and a host of other court reporting-related websites, has another website coming.

Have you ever read on a forum a question that begins "Has anyone ever used ..." or "Does anyone know anything about ...."? Yes?

Well, it turns out that Marc has read those same messages over and over (and over --!) again ... but he decided to DO something about it ... and that "something" was to put together a website where you (yes, YOU) can register and post your reviews of the steno machine you own, the CAT software you have used, etc. ... so those that come after you won't have to worry about asking questions that begin "Has anyone ever used ..." or "Does anyone know anything about ...." ... but if someone does, you will (come October 1st, anyway) know where to send them!

Yes, that's right: The site is going through some construction right now, so I can't give you the web address ... but if you come back on (or after) the first, I'll have another update to tell you the URL.

Watch for it!

Mighty Toshimba Update

It was an epic battle.

I'm talking about my Mighty Toshimba's recent infection by a "drive-by download" of something called WinAntiVirus 2007.

I tried SpyBot, an old copy of AdAware, an updated copy of AdAare 2007 Free, and a copy of AVG Anti-Virus ... all to no avail. Finally, I stopped by the shop where I purchased the laptop in the first place -- that's right, I'm talking about Seattle Laptop -- and asked for some advice. They said if what I had tried has not worked, it's time to "knife the baby," and format the hard drive and start over. I then asked if they had a Windows 98 boot floppy, so I could use DOS to totally erase the hard drive!

They had one, but it didn't have the FORMAT command available (grrr ....).

Fortunately, I (finally!!) remembered where my restoration disks were ... and now, several days later, my Mighty Toshimba is still virus free!

You could say I won that battle ... and yet, I didn't. Anytime you have to format your hard drive to fix a software problem, that's a loss (well, to me, anyway)!

Fortunately, the restoration process was relatively painless: Stick the CD in and click Restore (or whatever the button said). I will confess a bit of worry when I saw the words "Windows 95" flash by ... but the CD did its job and reformatted my hard drive and re-installed Windows XP.

Recently, I found a blog of a really techy guy, who just wanted a clean install on his Sony Vaio. He had an interesting tale to tell, and you can read about it here.

If you should happen to find yourself in a position where you need to restore your laptop's hard drive and it had a lot of "crapware" on it, you might want to take a look at the PC Decrapifier. What this apparently does is get rid of all the software that some hardware vendors install on your laptop for you, which just take up space, since you're never going to use them (hence the term "crapware").

Sounds like a "Must-Have" tool these days ... especially after you read Steve Frank's sad tale.

Update (05SEP07)

Not Quite Frank Sinatra ....

Remember these guys?

Fred and Barney

Fred and Barney

While digging around for that song "Rice Rice Baby" I used for my big microwave rice cooker update, I found a parody of Frank Sinatra's hit, "New York, New York" with the unlikely title of "Bedrock, Bedrock" ... and naturally (since the song's stuck in my head half the time anyway) I thought I'd inflict -- er, share it with those of you out there in Starving Student land! Just click the above link, and you'll get a chance to hear the song that's stuck in my head these days.

You're welcome (or I'm sorry ... whichever applies!)!

Apple Releases New iPod

I'm feeling a wee bit o' that technolust here ....

New iPod:  I Want One!

I want one!!

Click the picture for a guided tour of this drool-worthy gadget.

Say ... did I mention I want one?

Update (27AUG07)

"Licensed to Ill"

Okay, so I've been a bit remiss in updating ol' Cheap and Sleazy of late ... but I do have some news: One of my spys at the recent NCRA convention, Double-Oh-JMC, is now "Licensed to Ill" after a harrowing mission to get pictures of the Passport. While she did manage to snap off several shots, alas, most of them were a bit on the blurry side (she said something about "Ninjas wearing Eclipse t-shirts," if I recall correctly). Two came out okay, and here they are:

Blue Passport at the NCRA Convention

Blue Passport at the Convention

(Not 100 percent sure, but I think that silvery bit on the right side of the writer might be a Ninja sword! I'm just glad Double-Oh-JMC is okay!)

Blue Passport II at the NCRA Convention

Passport Display (sort of)

If that's not enough to whet your appetite, rumor has it that there's another Passport Update on the Advantage Software site ...! And, speaking of which ....

New Passport Update Posted

Advantage Software has posted a new update on the Passport. You can read it here:

http://accucap.com/?q=node/54

There's a nice picture of a blue Passport on the page, and it looks something like this one:

Screen shot of the new (and blue!) Passport

"The Wait is Almost Over!"

The update begins with the above title ... and then there's this:

While we're still working out some minor details with the manufacturer and can't promise a precise shipping date, we are optimistic that we'll be able to begin delivering the Passport within the next few months.

So those of you waiting (and techno-lusting) for the Passport, there you go.

The rest of the posting goes through the writer's features; you know, Stenovision, Shadow Tracking, Ergonomics and Comfort, Enhanced Keyboard (remember those extra keys I mentioned sometime back?), Ultimate Adjustability, Rapid Navigation, and No More Guesswork (this last about adjustments).

While that link will still take you to "A" Passport Update, it may not take you to THIS Passport Update if you wait too long ... so (like The Man said), "Make like a sorority girl and clique here" and start reading before a new update comes along!

"Greta's Got a Gun" -- er, a New LightSpeed ...

That's right ... Greta Duckett, the moderator of the digitalCAT Support Forums has received her new LightSpeed writer ... and best of all, she's started a blog:

http://www.angelfire.com/cantina/lashermanas/LightSpeed.htm

Check it out!!

Oh, and speaking of the LightSpeed, here's Johnny "Stenovations" Jackson and Mark "The Fastest Man Alive" Kislingbury at the recent NCRA convention going over the finer points of Johnny's Pride and Joy(™), the LightSpeed (thanks to Lillian's work with the camera).

Johnny Jackson, Mark Kislingbury, and a LightSpeed

Johnny "Stenovations" Jackson and Mark "The Fastest Man Alive" Kislingbury talk LightSpeed

Case Catalyst "Master Class"

Over at the Depoman forum, Hapster (a.k.a. "Spoo's Kid," a.k.a. Harry Palter) is (as those hippity-hoppers used to say back in the day) "droppin' some knowledge" about Case Catalyst in "Hap's Catalyst Corner."

If you're a CC user and you find Hap's articles to be of help to you, do him a favor and let him know ...! Otherwise, he'll assume no one cares, and the posts will soon stop (kind of like the "Tragedy of the Commons") ... and trust me, you don't want that!!

Update (06AUG07)

Anyone Want a FREE iPod Shuffle?

That's right ... there's a convention coming up ... this time in Texas (and no, I can't go!).

As is usual for conventions, the vendors have things they want to sell ... and the Dallas convention is no exception.

Nick Ridge, Stenograph's Education Specialist, sent me an e-mail, which -- well, I'll just let Nick speak for himself:

It's cheap, it's definitely not sleazy and it involves iPods.

During the NCRA convention, any student that applies in person or off of the website at stenolease.com will be eligible for the single most lucrative sales event that I have ever seen for students.

Seriously, the savings we announced surprised even me.

If approved, a student will receive a Protege/CATalyst bundle at 0% with no money down and an iPod shuffle. It is a credit-based application. 24 months, $88.00 a month if approved.

Zero percent, zero down, and an iPod.

Students must apply off of stenolease.com or in person at the convention between August 9-12 to be eligible for the offer. This is a one-time offer and will not be repeated again this year. So come Monday August 13, its officially over.

There you have it: Get Case Catalyst, a Stentura Protege, and a free iPod Shuffle ... just by getting your equipment through stenolease.com!

Remember: This offer expires at midnight on the 12th. Good luck!

Passport News

Not to be outdone, Advantage Software, is rumored to be planning on delivering the first run of the Passport at the convention.

Of course, those first Passports will go to those who signed up on The List  when the writer was first announced. Should you want to find out where you are on The List, send an e-mail to writerinfo (at) eclipsecat.com.

ProCAT News

Deby Owens, ProCAT Sales Ninja, didn't have any Big Sales(™) planned for the convention ... but the new Stylus II will put in an appearance, along with the new version of ProCAT Winner -- which, by the way, she says is "awesome and powerful," and "so very cool."

Stenovations News

As you might guess, Stenovations will be selling the LightSpeed at the convention.

Johnny Jackson had this to say:

Two reporters will be using it in the speed contest. They will have been using it for about two weeks.

(No, not Mark Kislingbury ....! It takes a while to set the machine up, and Mark didn't get his in time, so ... maybe next year.)

We only have three colors available at present -- iPod Black and White, and Ferrari Red.

Everyone that sees the LightSpeed falls in love with it. Beautiful and sexy are the most commonly used adjectives.

(That's called "Technolust," I believe ....!)

We will be coming out with LightSpeed II in the spring. Anyone buying the LightSpeed prior to the introduction of the LightSpeed II will be permitted to trade in the LS on the LS II and receive full value ($2000).

(This, of course, leads to The Question: Will the LightSpeed II sell for the same price as the original?)

No way. Cost of parts alone for the screen, more powerful processor, DSP for audio recording, et cetera, hundred thousand plus for new mold to hold screen and other features, hundreds of thousands in additional engineering costs, extra costs for fast-track development (more engineering costs), costs for writing a translator for the writer, cost of writing dictionary structure and file management software, GUI software. Get the idea. The cost of the development and cost of manufacture of the current unit requires selling several hundred units just to break even.

I don't know what the cost of all these components will be. The market price changes for some of the most integegral components. I wanted to do carbon fiber cases, but the price has tripled in the last year.

The writers we receive as result of the trade-in we will make available to students or others at a more favorable price. Since there are no parts to wear out except batteries, or maybe scratches on the enclosure, which we will replace both, they will be quite desirable.

Did you get that? The original LightSpeeds will be sold at a reduced price to students!

(Pssst ...! Maybe you should encourage any reporters that you're working with to buy a LightSpeed ... it will pay off for you in the Spring!)

Harry Potter News

Potter Potter Potter Potter ...

"Warner Warner Warner Warner Warner Warner Warner Warner Warner Warner Warner -- Cheap and Sleazy ....!"

Decided to put off starting Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows until I saw the movie (Order of the Phoenix), which I saw yesterday (well done!).

Ms. Dolores Umbridge was played most excellently by Ms. Imelda Staunton ....

Dolores Umbridge

Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge

Could you imagine Dolores Umbridge as a court reporting instructor? If not, try clicking here ... and read Anna T's disturbing narrative.

Finally, if you're worried about going through withdrawal after finishing Deathly Hallows, fear not ... for J.K. Rowling is rumored to be working on a Harry Potter Encyclopedia!

My CRI (Court Reporting Institute, Seattle) Student Loans Have Been Forgiven ...!

Yes, that's right: I got official word yesterday that my student loans for attending my (now closed) CR school have been forgiven -- all $23,000 of it. It took about six months to get it done ... first the link I needed to use to download the .pdf gave me a "404 File Not Found" error ... then when I finally got it, filled it out and mailed it in, I got a form to give to my new school to ensure none of the classes I took would transfer to the new school (they didn't). Signed that, gave it to the school ... and heard nothing ... for four months ...!

Finally got tired of waiting and grabbed my copy of the form I'd given to my school, looking for a phone number (couldn't find one!). Called the Department of Education in Washington D.C. and got shuffled around a few times, and finally reached someone local to me, who told me my loans were canceled as of July 7th of this year! She's going to snail-mail the actual letter to confirm things ... so maybe I'm announcing too soon!?

As for why the loans were forgiven, it was because the school closed (all four branches: Seattle, Tacoma, Boise, and San Diego) ... and as for the reasons why the school was closed, check out the CRI Saga page.

Update (21JUL07)

Many Updates ...

As it (kinda-sorta) says above, I have a few updates for your edification and delight, so ... let's get to 'em!

Stylus Stuff, Part II

As I may have mentioned a few days ago, April Davis, author of the Stylus review here on ol' Cheap and Sleazy, is anxiously waiting to have her original Stylus converted to the new Stylus II ... and she got final pricing information from her local ProCAT rep:

"If you are on support with Stylus, it is $295 plus shipping of $108. If you are not on support, it is $395 plus support of $299 plus shipping."

April is also quite happy to say that her conversion is scheduled and her loaner is enroute ... so look for either an update to the original article or a completely new article on the Stylus II in the not-too-distant future.

Vista Updates

I got an e-mail from reader Tim Spencer last night. Tim had a few questions, and wanted to pick my brain (such as it is these days). One of his questions was whether or not Eclipse was Vista compatible.

Since the last time I checked the status of Vista compatibility with Eclipse was way back in February (see the 09FEB07 update, if you've forgotten what was said there), I headed over to the Eclipse home page to see what, if anything, was new ... and in the same space as the space linked in the afore-mentioned 09FEB07 update was a completely new message which reads (in part) as follows:

"Advantage Software has been working with Windows Vista since long before its official release, so there are no compatibility issues between Total Eclipse and Vista."

Of course, you will have to disable the extremely annoying Windows UAC (User Account Control) to run the macros and other keyboard functions.

Vista Security Feature

Microsoft Wants you to Upgrade to Vista. Cancel or Allow?

You will also have to get used to the new UI (that's User Interface -- or "look and feel"), because a lot of things are different.

And, while it probably goes without saying, before buying a computer running Vista, ensure that your USB-Serial adapter has Vista-compatible drivers that work!

StenoCAT and Vista

Since I looked at StenoCAT 32 and Vista last time out, I took a quick look to see how things were progressing in their Battle of Vista, and I found an updated article there as well. It basically says the same thing the afore-mentioned Eclipse page mentioned: Disable the UAC. It also says to use Windows XP Compatibility Mode for the SCExplorer and the SCEditor.

The pop-up (see the "Details" link on the afore-mentioned page) has this interesting quote about Vista Software Compatibility:

"NOTE: Vista Software compatibility means that a program *can* work in the Vista environment. Official Vista compliance requires -- among other things -- that no settings (the UAC included) need to be adjusted for it to work."

They are working on a completely Vista-compliant version of StenoCAT 32 at present, and will release it after it undergoes a bout of heavy testing by working reporters (which is the way it should be).

digitalCAT and Vista

Since Stenovation's website got an overhaul a few months back, the messages about Vista I mentioned in the afore-mentioned 09FEB07 update is gone.

On the Support page, however, is a video on how to install digitalCAT on Vista. Click the picture below to watch the video.

digitalCAT's Vista Installation Video

digitalCAT's Vista Installation Video

Again, you have to disable the UAC, but this time there's no mention of running anything in compatibility mode -- or if there is, I missed it. But that can be cleared up with a simple e-mail.

ArisotCAT and Vista

While the AristoCAT homepage says "Support for Windows Me/2000/XP/Vista. Check out newest additions to Support.", when I go to the Support page, there's no mention of Vista. There is, however, an explanation of how to import an .rtf dictionary into AristoCAT; seems they've had a few requests to implement this basic functionality into their software! Wonder how that happened ....

Maybe I should press my on-again, off-again boss to upgrade!

ProCAT Winner and Vista

ProCAT is not exactly famous for updating their website ... but the News scroller on the main page does mention that Winner 10 has a "new Vista look" ... but on the FAQ page, I did find some interesting bits ... including this note about StylusSync:

StylusSync has been tested on Windows Vista. You may use StylusSync to upload/download files from/to a Stylus. However, due to the new security features, you must adjust Vista to allow your PC to communicate freely with Stylus."

Then, there's this little tidbit:

"Furthermore, updated Bluetooth drivers are NOT available for Vista."

Fortunately, I think this is a universal thing, as the Bluetooth drivers for both the Stylus and the Mira are written by the same company ... and they have been a bit on the slow side in updating the drivers, last I heard ... so that particular tidbit might no longer be true (the problem when the website isn't updated from time to time).

They finish up with this comment:

"In conclusion, we strongly urge our clients to remain with the Windows XP platform for the foreseeable future to ensure their trouble-free working environment."

... but, as I said, not all of the website has been updated, so this may be in error. Another thing that can be cleared up by a quick e-mail or two ....

Also, I found this page:

http://procat.com/Winner/tips/winnerxpspecsonvista.htm

It has the requirements to run Winner XP on Vista:

CPU Types (aka processor)

• 2.3 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo -- High performance

• 1.8-2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo -- Very good performance

• Intel Core Duo - may offer an acceptable performance. Please check with your hardware manufacturer to determine if it meets Vista's minimum performance requirements.

RAM (aka system memory)

• 2Gb is the minimum recommended memory for Vista. This is more than adequate for WinnerXP.

HDD (aka hard drive)

• With room recording: 60Gb minimum capacity

• Without room recording: 20Gb minimum capacity

There's more, but that's what the link was for! :o)

Update (25JUL07)

On Stenograph's website there is mention that their Bluetooth drivers have been updated ... so I suspect that the item about Bluetooth on ProCAT's site is just a tad bit out of date.

Also, ProCAT Sales Ninja Deby Owens wrote in and confirmed the prices listed for the Stylus upgrade. She also said the problem with Stylus Sync is being worked on, and offered a work-around to sync your CAT dictionaries with your Stylus dictionaries:

"You can transfer your dictionary via the CF Card or SD card with the reader. So it's not an issue as far as updating your dictionaries."

She also had an interesting comment about Vista:

"We have suggested our clients not purchase Vista at this time, but mainly because there seem to be a lot of problems still with Vista itself....and most people who have it cannot stand it, or at least that has been my experience."

Interestingly, I saw a news snipped over on Mac CNN that said that "Vista has increased sales of XP by 15 to 22 percent." This is both good and bad for Microsoft: Bad that sales of the previous version of the OS are stealing sales from the new version, and good because users aren't just jumping ship and going to the Mac.

Of course, if that news snippet came from a Windows magazine, they're probably not going to mention the 'M' word to their readers.

Wonder why that is ....?

Oh, and don't even get me started on the Zune ....

-o0o-

Case Catalyst and Vista

No change since the 09FEB07 update.

SmartCAT and Vista

No mention except on the Software Updates page -- and even then, there's only one mention.

TeLiTor and Vista

Can't find a single mention of Vista (or Office 2007, for that matter) on the site!

Vista: The Bottom Line

No matter which CAT software you use, you want to ensure that your USB-Serial adapter works with Vista before upgradinig ... and even then, I'm still partial to the idea of waiting for that first Vista update to be released before I think about upgrading (though in truth, my mighty Toshimba isn't powerful enough to run Vista). If your writer (AND CAT software) supports direct USB connection to your laptop, you don't have to worry about that particular problem ... but you want to ensure that any other perpheral -- which includes printers, external drives of any sort, etc. -- will be supported in Vista. If these peripherals are easily replaced, then ... maybe. Let the cost of the replacement be your guide, here!

Hands-on With Stenovation's LightSpeed Writer

On the Stenovations Forum, Greta Duckett has posted her impressions of the LightSpeed Writer. Here's a bit:

"I wrote on a Lightspeed today at our state's convention. Carmen Santone brought a pre-production model. There is a picture of it on the stenovations home page. This writer is AMAZING!!"

I'm no expert in human psychology or anything, but something tells me that Greta liked the LightSpeed.

Eclipse Training ... for $20?!?

Yes, that's right, $20.

I got an e-mail from Julie Samford, over at Realtime Ready, touting an upcoming Eclipse "webinar." You can read the specifics here.

Epic Battles

Silly me ... I loaned my PC laptop to my girlfriend's kids ... and sure enough, they managed to infect my formerly mighty Toshimba with all manner of trojans, malware, and etc. ... one of which has managed to kill off the sound completely (device manager says there's no audio hardware installed)!

After a mighty battle involving SpyBot, an old copy of AdAware, an updated copy of AdAare 2007 Free, and a copy of AVG Anti-Virus, I managed to remove 265 cookies from IE (which I had instructed the kids NOT to use), about 140 miscellaneous bits of junk via SpyBot, and 39 trojans via AVG. Still, my mighty Toshimba runs slow as death. I am seriously contemplating wiping the drive completely and starting over from scratch.

Fortunately, the mighty Toshimba is not my main computer (the kids get to use my PowerBook very (very--!) rarely.

As for how it happened, Joshua (the oldest) says he went to some page and got a pop-up advising him that he was downloading and installing something called WinAntiVirus 2007. Worse, there was no cancel button (I hear this is called a "drive-by download") ... so he did what I would've done and pulled the wireless card out and rebooted the computer.

It worked -- sort of. The software didn't install, but it did leave some worthless crap behind -- hence my suddenly not-so-mighty Toshimba.

As for what a "drive-by download" is, here's a definition:

"A drive-by download is a program that is automatically downloaded to your computer without your consent or even your knowledge. Unlike a pop-up download, which asks for assent (albeit in a calculated manner likely to lead to a "yes"), a drive-by download can be initiated by simply visiting a Web site or viewing an HTML e-mail message."

Those of you who saw "Big Trouble in Little China" know that the Chinese have a lot of hells ... and the guy (or gal!) that came up with this "drive-by download" crap should spend an eternity (or two) in "The Hell of Drive-By Downloads," wherein each resident gets to read each and every pop-up their downloaded software generates, and feels a very sharp poke in the eye each time someone is infected by the product of their "intellect."

And don't get me started on those frelling programmers that actually write viruses ....! We all know that they (like spammers) have their own respective hells ... and if not, they should ...!

(*grumble*)

"Rice Rice Baby"

A quick trip to my local WalMart the other day found me leaving the store with a small bag of Jasmine Rice and a $6.00 microwave rice cooker.

Microwave Rice Cooker

Microwave Rice Cooker

I read in (I think) Eric van Lustbader's book "The Ninja" (or one of the sequels, all of which I read back in my high school days) that Jasmine rice smelled like popcorn when it was cooked. It was many years before I actually found any Jasmine rice to test this with (well, okay, so my ex-wife did the actual cooking), but I did -- and sure enough, it did smell like popcorn!

So, when my girlfriend was debating with herself whether to buy the $20 16-cup rice cooker or wait until she got her stuff (including a rice cooker just like the one she wanted to buy) out of storage, I suggested getting the little $6.00 one. It was another epic struggle, but I won -- er, managed to get her to see things my way, so home we went with the MiracleWare 6-cup rice cooker ... and (of course!) a small (~$1.50) bag of Jasmine rice.

As a test, I made about two cups of the rice, and it came out perfect -- which for me, a guy whose cooking expertise runs to microwave popcorn and the occasional frozen pizza -- was amazing in itself.

Long story short, the kids were upset because I only made two cups, so I had to make another six cups (they really liked that Jasmine rice).

Oh, I (needless to say) had to go back to WalMart the next day and buy a bigger bag of Jasmine rice ($3.50, vice $5.50 at my local Safeway). As long as I don't lose the directions, I think I'll be okay (note to self: Type the cooking instructions on your laptop some time!!).

If you get a chance, give that Jasmine rice a try! You will not be sorry!

And finally ....

Distractions

I'm going to be quiet for a while, due in part to a rather serious distraction I have to deal with:

Deathly Hollows

"Distraction, Thine Name is Harry"

Now then ... what did I do with my Harry Potter job dictionary ...?

Update (13JUL07)

Sale of the Century Results

... were, I'm sad to say, dismal! :o(

Not to worry; the writer is still here with me, and will show up again on eBay sometime in August ... so mark your calendars ...!!

Stylus Stuff

Deby Owens, HSNIC (that's "Head Sales Ninja In Charge") over at ProCAT was nice enough to clarify for me the policy covering upgrades from the original Stylus to the New and Improved version:

Glen, anyone who wants the new case for the Stylus will be able get it switched on their machine. We will be sending out letters to our customers with the original Stylus machines letting them know the availability, as well as the price options. They will then be able to schedule a time to have theirs updated.

She provided a preliminary price in her e-mail, but I don't want to get too many folks excited ... so let's just say it's in the neighborhood between the houses of $200 and $400.

BUT ....

In order to get that low price, your support contract MUST BE UP TO DATE!!! If your contract has lapsed, now might be a good time to fix that.

And, Speaking of the Stylus ...

April Davis, the author of the review of the Stylus here on ol' Cheap and Sleazy, is in full Technolust Mode in anticipation of getting her machine converted.

She also said that she has learned a lot since she wrote that review ... and has agreed to either update the current article or write another article on her new high-tech steno toy -- er, tool -- after she has had it for a while.

She also shared her "standard response" to those who are debating the choice between the Mira and the Stylus:

"If you are still using AOL then you should definitely buy the Mira. If you have worked out the whole Internet Explorer thing, then you can handle the Stylus."

Heh.

Update (12JUN07)

Have you Heard?

No, I'm not talking about my recent (mumble-mumble)-th birthday ... I'm talking about the Sale of the Century!

That's right ... I am auctioning off my spare ProCAT Flash writer, starting TONIGHT (Tuesday, 12JUN07), 7:00 PM Pacific, 10:00 PM Eastern, on eBay!

For those of you who don't know what's so good about a ProCAT Flash, you should take a look at my article on why I picked the Flash over the Stenograph 400 SRT.

Naturally, no (cheap and sleazy) auction would be complete without my throwing in a few ... extras ... so rest assured, the winner of this auction will get their choice of two of three surprise extras!

If that's not enough pressure (choice-wise), the winner of this auction will also get his or her choice of two (count 'em, TWO!!) different cases!

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

More?! You bet there's more.

The winner of this auction, as I mentioned above, will receive my spare ProCAT Flash ... a BRAND NEW USB-serial adapter ... a BRAND NEW (and a SPARE) realtime cable (yes ... that's right: That means there's two: The new cable, as well as the original one), TWO ribbons (one new(ish), the other slightly used), an EasyLock Tripod, a 256 MB memory card (holds about 700 pages!!), an UNOPENED package of removeable keytop covers from the folks at Stenovations, a (plastic; sorry!) paper tray ... with TWO pads of paper, and (of course!) an instruction manual.

If you're curious how those keytop covers look in action, as it were, here's what my writer looks like with them on:

My ProCAT Flash With Removeable Keytops

My ProCAT Flash With Removeable Keytops

Want a Preview ...?

Check out this page:

flash_ebay.html

Happy bidding ...!

Say ... did I mention those ... extras ....?

Update (05JUN07)

"STENO-QWIK" Update

Those of you who have been reading ol' Cheap and Sleazy for a while probably know what I mean when I write "STENO-QWIK" ... but for those of you who don't, here's the skinny.

Some time ago, while doing a Google search for the terms "muscle memory" and "typing," I found a website called QWERTY-QWIK, which was primarily about a book written by a woman named Frances More, with which you learn to touch type within two hours -- without having a keyboard in front of you.

Needless to say, my mind went into overdrive ... and I sent her an e-mail, chatting up steno keyboards, sent her a link so she could see what one looks like, and (duh!!) asked her if she thought she could do for the steno keyboard what she did for the QWERTY keyboard.

She said that she thought she could.

When funding permitted, I snail-mailed a copy of my Phoenix Theory books to her, along with an old (and dead) Xscribe writer I had lying around from when I purchased a (slightly damaged) ProCAT Flash (yes, that's right: I got two writers for $800! How cool is that?!?).

Alas, life got in the way: Big contract here, car accident there, another big contract over there, and soon Frances became too busy to take on the STENO-QWIK project.

Fast forward to a few days ago, when I noticed my copy of her book sitting on my bookshelf ... and decided I should send her a quick e-mail to see how things were going.

She told me that her back was causing her problems (thanks to the afore-mentioned accident), and she had to paint a room in her house so that she could be interviewed by the folks at 60 Minutes, and she's going to see about getting that Xscribe working well enough so that she can do realtime with it (yes, I sent her a copy of digitalCAT and my copy of the Phoenix Theory dictionary) ... but she did mention the project on her website, as you can see here:

Steno-QWIK Pre-announced

STENO-QWIK Pre-announced!

Alas, the Xscribe is still seriously under the weather ... but she plans on checking with her husband there in New Zealand to see if there's anyone local that knows how to bring that ol' Xscribe back to life.

Anyone know of a steno repair ninja in New Zealand? If so, shoot me an e-mail at gdwarner (at) cheapandsleazy (dot) net (frelling spammers ....).

Things That Make You Go, "Hmmmm ...." (or "$499, Are You Out of Your Mind?!?")

While driving around in circles in Everett the other day (long, silly story), I saw a computer store that specialized in used computers.

Naturally, you know I just HAD to stop ....!

So, my girlfriend, the kids and I go in, and I see an older iMac in the corner, and we check it out. It's got a DVD drive, 256MB of RAM, and is running Mac OS 8.6 (current version is 10.4.9).

My girlfriend says to the salesman, "How much is this one?"

The salesman puffs himself up proudly and says, "Well, this one's all prepped and ready to run Mac OS X, what with the Firewire and the USB and DVD and all that, so, I could let that one go for $499."

$499?!?

I thought for sure he had meant $49. The computer was about seven years old. It came with built-in Firewire and USB, so this shop didn't have to do any "prep" work for that. It also had 256 MB of RAM, and Mac OS X won't run well with less than half a gigabyte of RAM ... and this clown is trying to sell it for $499?!?

I know for a fact that I can pick up that very same model at Re: PC for $50 or so. Better than that, I know that that Mac would have been worked on by a QUALIFIED Macintosh technician, not some guy who would try to push a four-year-old system on someone who knows more than he does (and ESPEICALLY someone that does not) for nearly $500.

Needless to say, we won't be going back to that store.

Ever.

If that wasn't enough, my girlfriend's son put the system next to it to sleep, and another salesman told him they didn't do that, because "it's bad for the operating system."

Really? Because my laptop has been up for about 20 days now (53 being the longest) ... and when I am not using it, I put it to sleep ... but okay, that's a new laptop, running Mac OS 10. What about an older OS?

My old iMac, running Mac OS 9.2.2, was, for a time, my juke box: It would play music for me all night long, and when I left for the day, I would put the system to sleep ... and repeat the process again, sometimes leaving it on for a couple months at a time between reboots.

"Bad for the operating system"! If that was true, why does it say Sleep under the Special menu?

Sheesh. Another big tipoff to just walk out the door.

I guess it just goes to show you that there are some bad computer sales-folk out there, just waiting to take advantage of the unwary.

Should you be one of the "unwary" and in need of a laptop, take someone with you that knows what's what. For best results, go in separately; this way, when the salesdroid spins his/her line of ... bovine scatology within earshot of your knowledgable friend, s/he can signal you when it's time to walk out the door.

Don't ask questions when you see that signal. Get out.

Now.

Update (22MAY07)

"Viva la Revolution!"

Yes, that's right ... since that tip from "Annie" (as in "Ann Ony Mus") on the new Gemini Revolution appeared on ol' Cheap and Sleazy a few weeks back, Jason Pardikes got busy and posted a couple pictures of the new Gemini on the Gemini's web site ... and yes, I snagged one for your viewing pleasure:

Gemini Revolution and UMPC

The New Gemini With the UMPC (card not included)

Alas, not much to see in the way of differences ... but as Jason said, the differences are mostly internal ... but you CAN see the replacement for "Gemini Girls" Charity Chainus' arch nemisis, the Palm-based PDA.

I think -- no, check that; I know -- that Chairity really would be pleased (what's not to like? It will run real CAT software!) with the UMPC.

Update (11MAY07)

"Whoa, Binnie!" Update

On the Links page is an update about Binita Shrestha's blog. I'll spare you the gory details, but ultimately, you'll want to look here: http://binitashrestha.com/blog/archives

Well, okay, maybe a wee bit of a gory detail: The above link leads to a chronological index of Binnie's blog! The other details are how that happened.

Also, if you haven't looked at the Links page in a while, there is a rather important message about the CompuServe CR Forum ... which, should you follow the advice in that important message, will save you a lot of reading when you're searching for THE answer to a burning question some day.

Fortunately, you'll only have to do this (cheap and sleazy) trick once.

What, you're still here?

Update (30APR07)

Deby Comes Through!

That's right, folks ... as promised, ProCAT Sales Ninja Extraordinare Deby Owens has delivered not one, but TWO shots of the new version of the Stylus for your perusal, edification, and delight!

She also wanted me to remind you how cool the writer looks ... but I'll leave that determination up to you! Here ya go ....

NextGen ProCAT Stylus

NextGen ProCAT Stylus II (Profile View)

NextGen ProCAT Stylus II

NextGen ProCAT Stylus II (Front View)

Thanks, Deby!

Update (26APR07)

Lotsa stuff here ...! You might want to grab a snack or something before you start reading this next update .... and feel free to wash it down with some of my World Famous(tm) Peach Iced Tea!

Want More Passport Pictures?

Advantage Software has (finally!!) updated their Passport Update page ... and there's a few more pictures. You can see them here.

New Version of the Stylus ...?

I got an e-mail from a starving CR student in Oklahoma by the name of R. Cameron Brewer. Cameron was asking about the new version of the ProCAT Stylus, which was shown at the Midyear.

Coincidentally, I got a postcard from ProCAT in the mail just before reading his e-mail! Here's the text from the postcard:

"When clients speak, we listen! They've asked for an adjustable screen, and we have designed a new case with an adjustable screen. We've also added several more features to the writer. Of course, it is un-ProCAT not to offer an upgrade path to our existing clients who have made Stylus an overnight success story -- try asking the competition for an upgrade path."

"Now, with all these features in a portable writer, why would you want to take a PC to a job?"

• Tangle-free wireless connection to your PC and attorneys

• Automatic Number Processing and Conflict Resolution

• Export draft copy, on the job, from Stylus

• Dual-processor for reliability

• Automatic audio recording and playback

• 3 storage devices for ultimate dependability

• Flexible USB and serial connections

• Windows CE based from the world leader

• Paper/paperless modes

Naturally, the ProCAT website hasn't been updated to reflect these new developments as yet ... so I sent an e-mail to Deby Owens, THE ProCAT sales rep, and asked if there were any pictures available.

She says she'll have a couple for me by this coming Monday.

Stenovations: LightSpeed Update

While searching for a page with EXACT support info on the Stenovations website to assist an unhappy customer of ... well, let's just say another vendor (one which doesn't make steno machines), I found this image:

New Stenovations LightSpeed Page

New Stenovations LightSpeed Page

Looks like a preview for a new ad! Looks good. Bet it will show up in the next JCR.

By the way ... had a good chat with the Stenovations tech -- who turned out to be one of Johnny and Sandra Jackson's sons! It used to say on their website that telephone support is available for students from (I think) 9:00 A.M. to 8:00 PM, and that reporter telephone support is available 24 hours a day by calling and leaving a message. Couldn't find that anymore, but Mike did confirm that that was the policy.

He also said that it said on the website (somewhere) that you should expect a call back from a technician within an hour after leaving your message.

Mike called me back TEN MINUTES after I left my message!

Very nice.

Gemini: "They Say You Want a Revolution ..."

As I mentioned a couple updates back, I received an anonymous e-mail from a person I'll identify only as Ann -- as in, "Ann Ony Mus."

Ann's e-mail included some interesting tidbits about the forthcoming Gemini writer, called the Revolution.

Those interesting tidbits include the following:

  • Patent-pending "Dual Assisted Stroke Technology" feels like a regular writer, but totally optical
  • Light -- 2.8 pounds, including batteries
  • 40 hours on a single charge
  • Writer includes an LCD to display battery life and other essentials
  • Massively adjustable -- adjust the keystrokes for both halves independently
  • Both serial and USB connections installed
  • Court model includes an "Ultra-moblie PC (check out this video)
  • The UMPC (512MB - 1GB, 30 - 160GB hard drive) will run your CAT software (OS might be Vista, though)
  • "Class One" bluetooth

"Ann" had this to say about the capabilities of this new Bluetooth system:

"I took the machine and walked no less than 200 feet away from my computer, out of the building down the hall and across the parking lot. When I came back everything I wrote was right there; absolutely amazing stuff."

"Another neat feature is that's it's a dual bluetooth system -- which means it will output to more than one computer at a time if you want ... both at full Class 1."

When I sent "Ann" an e-mail to say thanks for the tip, I got back this message:

"I don't know what your talking about. I might not even know you."

Riiiight --! I gotcha, "Ann!" :o)

Official Confirmation

I sent an e-mail to Jason Pardikes to see what was what ... and he confirmed what "Ann" said:

All right Glen, so we have a leak. I guess it took long enough for the word to get out and after looking at your site I am guessing that someone who knows what we are doing felt compelled to defend our machine or some such thing. Or more likely they couldn't keep their mouth shut for about 20 or so days.

NOTE: "Ann" said it's option two!

So I mentioned that we are building a New Machine: The Gemini Revolution.

The Revolution is almost a complete departure from the older Gemini but we did keep few key features. I will start with those.

The GR (Gemini Revolution) maintains the ergonomic design of the traditional Geminis with the ability to twist, turn, and rotate to fit a person body type. Second it maintains the upgradeability of all previous Gemini models and true to the Gemini form our current users will be able to upgrade the Gemini2 and Piper to this machine. And lastly we have maintained our component-based product. Meaning that we still use an outside of the box computer to supply the backup and Court Functions. We have all maintaining the optical switch design of previous Gemini so that we can limit wear and tear and make the machine's go and go.

But different from the traditional Geminis we have created a new stroking system based around a new technology that we call Dual Assisted Stroke (DAS) this stroke technology allows us to give the end user the feel of a traditional machine, the adjustment of a traditional machine, the articulated stroke of a traditional machine, but it doesn't sacrifice the ergonomics like traditional machines. Also using this DAS technology we were able to give the user a virtual cornucopia of adjustability.

The adjustments the user can make are as follows:

  1. Each bank can be adjusted independently (this is a Gemini exclusive feature)
  2. The force of the stroke may be adjusted
  3. The depth of the stoke may be adjusted 3-10mm (when measured at the longest point of the vowel keys)
  4. The overall sensitivity of the left and right halves may be adjusted independently (because of our optical design we can let the user adjust each half in one quick turn to change every keys registration from less to more)
  5. Each key can be adjusted for its own sensitivity as well.

Class 1 Dual Bluetooth system. (The first of its kind ever used, I mean ever in any industry)

We have integrated a full Class 1 Bluetooth device into the Gemini that first will increase the range of our steno machine up to 328 FEET, in other words a long way. No other Steno machine does that. Stenograph claims they are Class one but only half of the wireless is class one and you need both devices to be class one to be class one.

Next we have integrated a dual system that allows us to out put to multiple masters at the same time. In a traditional Steno Machine world you can only output to a single master and that machine may only talk to a single other Bluetooth device. In our design we can output to two computers simultaneously. A very powerful tool especially for our court reporters.

Our Captioner's machine will run approximately 45hours on a single charge which takes 6 hours to complete.

Our Court Reporter Machine has progressed even further than the Captioner's product. We have switched form a IPAQ to an Ultra Mobile PC. Currently I am in the process of deciding which model to go with but at the very worst it will have 512megs of RAM, and 40gigs of hard drive space, running XP. This gives our users the ability to have their CAT software version running on our Court Reporter machine, as long as it's windows based. That alone separates our product it's quite amazing to see.

We have re-written our StenoSync software which will ship with our writers to and it now allows for Translation and will run audio sync before we release the machine early part of June.

Wow, that sounds impressive ...! And I think even "Gemini Girl" Charity Chainus would be most pleased with the UMPC vice the Ipaq ... and if you've read my article on the Apple Newton, you know why I'm not too wild about Palm OS-based PDAs.

-o0o-

Update (15APR07)

"The Tax Man Cometh, and the Tax Man Taketh Away"

The Tax Man, by Kelly Freas

Yes, it's That Time of Year Again ....

Yes, that's right ... "The Tax Man Cometh, and the Tax Man Taketh Away."

At least, that's how it went for this particular Starving Student™ yesterday.

This year, I did my taxes early -- or rather, I had one of the nice ladies from AARP at the local library do my taxes for me yesterday. Took all of 20 minutes -- and three different forms (hence my desire for professional help).

At the end of it all, the nice lady said, "Congratulations! You're getting a refund of $412!" (Hey ...! "Starving Student," here!!)

Unfortunately, I filed late last year, because the professional tax ninjas at the Federal Building downtown wouldn't let me take any of the deductions I wanted to take; seems I had no documentation for the time I used the internet for research, being one of the deductions I wanted to take, for an article I wrote for Coast to Coast AM's monthly newsletter, After Dark ... but I did have receipts to cover the cost of the books purchased for additional research ... alas, the amount earned (roughly $400) wasn't enough to merit a 1099 (or whatever form I was supposed to get) to file ... so no deductions for that one (note to self: Sell more articles this year!!).

Long story short, when I (finally) did file, I owed the IRS $300 ... and since I filed late (they never answered my e-mail about extensions!! Grrr ...), that was an extra $100.

So, my big refund this year will be a whopping .... twelve bucks.

Hence, "The Tax Man Cometh ... and the Tax Man Taketh Away."

(*sigh* ...)

Well ... I can (almost) fill up the ol' gas tank ..... :o\

As for the nifty illustration, that came from the February 1975 issue of Analog Science Fiction & Fact magazine by The Man Hisself, Frank Kelly Freas (R.I.P.), accompanying a story by Stephen Robinett entitled (as you might guess) "The Tax Man" ... which, should you have the time, is in his book Projections. An interesting story ... and the illustration fits it perfectly!!

Rumor-in-Waiting

I hear that the folks The Neutrino Group are working on a new writer! I'll post more info when I have it. Alas, I just finished a final exam (another A, thankyouverymuch), so I'm probably not going to get to it until Monday-ish.

Update (12APR07)

More LightSpeed Info

Carmen Santone, Stenovations' Head Trainer In Charge™, had a bit more to add to what I learned from Johnny Jackson. This comes from a post on the Depoman.com forum by Steve Stogel (thanks, Steve!):

Stenovations created a great deal of excitement at the mid-year convention in Vancouver by previewing its new steno writer. It was the talk of the convention, both during seminars and at social events.

The name says it all -- LightSpeed.

"Light" refers to the weight of the unit, plus the fact that keys can be actuated by the most gentle touch.

"Speed" refers to faster and more accurate writing by virtue of the elimination of wasted motion due to unnecessary up and down key travel.

Those features are complemented by the unique ability to adjust each individual key's sensitivity by means of a simple graphical user interface in a computer program.

Once key sensitivity adjustments are completed, the changes are saved to firmware (software) embedded in the LightSpeed's circuit board.

Multiple user profiles containing settings for the key adjustments can be stored and applied when desired.

LightSpeed can be operated while connected to a computer or standing alone.

A USB cable connection can be used for serial communication, power, or battery charging.

When connected to a computer with a USB cable, the unit is powered by said cable; however, when connected by BlueTooth or operating independently the unit is powered by rechargeable batteries.

LightSpeed provides data storage by means of a removable digital media card. Steno keystrokes and corresponding time stamps will be stored on these cards. The cards can then be inserted into a computer's card reader to transfer data.

Though the LightSpeed is beautiful, thin and light, it is extremely durable. The case is made of the strongest polycarbonate material.

LightSpeed will be available in a variety colors, i.e., black, white, ice blue, red, aqua, and lavender.

The LightSpeed can be used with a tripod equipped with a plate that supports the unit but that also allows the unit to be instantly lifted and placed on one's lap. Nonskid material on the base of the unit keeps it in place.

Stenovations is accepting trade-ins of digiTouch writers. The total amont paid will be applied toward the price of a LightSpeed.

Also, anyone buying the first version of the LightSpeed will be afforded the opportunity to trade in the unit and, likewise, receive full credit toward later models containing translation and audio recording.

For those that enjoy trivia, Apple, Inc. bought all rights to the Fingerworks keyboard technology used in the digiTouch and has incorporated it into its new iPhone.

Physical specifications: Weight, 1.6 pounds; Length, 12 inches; Thickness, .9 inches.

Price: $1995.

Update (11APR07)

Stenovations New Writer: LightSpeed

You've heard the rumors ... and some of you even saw it at the Midyear ... but for those of us that couldn't get to the Midyear, here's what's what with Stenovations' new writer, to be called "LightSpeed:"

  • Weight: between slightly less than one pound without battery, and 1.5 pounds with
  • Same enclosure as the digiTouch
  • Each key adjustable -- via software
  • Adjustments saved to the writer's firmware
  • Non-digitalCAT users will use a small program for these adjustments
  • Non-digitalCAT users will have to use the Baron protocol
  • Connectivity will be either USB or Bluetooth
  • Note storage will be accomplished via a flash device
  • Availability: Beginning in August
  • Cost: $1995
  • Owners of the original digiTouch writer will be given 100% credit of the original amount paid towards the purchase of the new writer
  • Different versions are planned
  • Purchasers of the first versions will be given 100% trade-in value when the newer versions arrive for a month or so

As for what happened with the original technology used in the digiTouch, check here.

What? You want to see what it looks like? Okay ....

Stenovations' LightSpeed Writer

Stenovations' LightSpeed Writer

Here's another shot:

Stenovations' LightSpeed Writer, with silver bezel

Stenovations' LightSpeed Writer, with silver bezel

Big THANKS to Johnny Jackson, over at Stenovations for answering all of my questions (and (duh!) for providing the pictures)!

Update (05APR07)

Virtual Cheap and Sleazy "High-Five"

A Virtual Cheap and Sleazy High-Five goes to (now former) Starving Student™ Mirabai Knight, who, after spending merely a year and a half in court reporting school, has completed her schooling. Better than that, she has written an article explaining how she did it, entitled " How I Got Out of Steno School," which you can find on her website. It is a most interesting read.

High-five to you, Mirabai ... and congrats!

Down ... but not Dead

On my Links page is a link to a Canadian court reporting site, WordGoddess.com.

While checking the links on the Links page (and avoiding doing my homework), I clicked on the link to wordgoddess.com ... and all I got was a blank page!

I tracked down the webmaster of the site, Rachel Rosenberg, and sent her an e-mail. Alas, she said the site would be down for a while.

Of course, if you've been reading ol' Cheap and Sleazy for a while and managed to read Got Fear?, you might know how to compensate for a missing-in-action website.

Anyone remember? Bueller? Bueller?

Ferris Bueller

Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

If you said "The Way Back Machine," that's right! So, if you missed the page, check this page.

If you read the blurb about the Word Goddess page on my Links page, you might recall that I mentioned the two movies that you can only see if you look at the Practice page in Internet Explorer (which, by the way, is no longer made for the Mac).

You might also recall that I said that I would try to download the movies, and convert them to something I can see in Firefox.

Well, I did it ...! I managed to find a program that would convert .wmv files to .mp4/.mpg files.

Alas, while I did ask Ms. Rosenberg if it would be okay to post her movies on my site, I didn't get an answer (she is really busy) ... but I will ask again.

Update (06APR07)

Rachel gave me the okay, so here is her borrowed text, and (hopefully) the movies:

IF YOU CAN'T WRITE IT SLOWLY, YOU CAN'T WRITE IT FAST!

TECHNIQUE: How is it supposed to look?

ADVICE:

Just bash away at steno to get it down; use superior editing techniques to produce accurate real-time; finger-faulting will naturally reduce as time goes by.

Reporter 1 (5 years experience; photo taken at regular working speed)

ADVICE:

Move hands and fingers very little, with only slight key depression; get on and off keys fast even when speech is slow to keep alert for sudden increase in speech; use careful editing of text and care in making dictionary entries; stay right on top of the word.

Reporter 2 (20 years experience; photo taken is of 200 wpm dictation)

So, now you see how it's supposed to look! This kind of lends credence to the practicing technique where your instructor will put a penny on the back of both of your hands, I would think ....

Passport Update

As you are probably aware, the Passport put in an appearance at the recent NCRA Midyear convention up in Vancouver, BC -- which is a mere two hour drive away from my home here in the Pacific North Wet!

Alas, circumstances conspired against me so I was unable to attend the convention to see the demo that was presented there ... but I did find the impressions of the pre-production version of the writer by Keith Vincent over on the CompuServe forum (read post no. 7).

In the "DUH" department, someone pointed out to me that the picture of the Passport on Advantage Software's website is a picture of the writer in what will be its final form.

Unfortunately, that picture is a bit on the small side.

Fortunately, I have a better one:

Passport -- Final Version

Passport -- Final Version (??)

Take a real close look at the left side of the keyboard! Notice the extra keys?

One of my spies at the recent Eclipse Training Seminar in Las Vegas (who, alas, wasn't able to get close enough to the writer for a real "hands-on" session, due to the tightness of the training schedule) had this to say:

"Something unique is that it has another 'extra' key on the left side for use internationally. We here in the States can use that as a 'Z' key, he (Greg Seely) said."

Stenovations

Rumor also has it that Stenovations' new writer also put in an appearance at the Midyear. Alas, no pictures of this one ... but I just sent Johnny Jackson an e-mail; hopefully, that will yield a picture or two.

Hopefully.

Update (29MAR07)

Different Dictation News

A week ago, one of the paranormal radio shows I mentioned in my article Different Dictation had author Paul Stonehill on as a guest.

Mr. Stonehill's area of expertise is UFOs and Russia.

A few years ago, I heard an interesting story about how Russian cosmonauts were reporting hearing "whispers in their minds" from ... well, somewhere. Since I knew Mr. Stonehill was going to be on, I sent an e-mail to both of the hosts of the internet radio show Darkness on the Edge of Town, asking them if they would ask Mr. Stonehill about these incidents.

I never got an answer ... but they did read my e-mail (more or less; there was some paraphrasing) over the air ... and it resulted in about 10 minutes worth of discussion. You can download the episode here.

Remember, my e-mail is read in the last 10 minutes or so.

Did I mention Mr. Stonehill, in addition to having a Russian accent, starts off rather slowly ... then speeds up? This interview will definitely give you a Q&A AND Lit workout!

Cheap and Sleazy: Banned in China?!?

Speaking of Different Dictation, I got an e-mail from the folks at Unknown Country.com. They were talking about how their website, unlike Coast to Coast AM.com, Rense.com, and Drudge Report.com, was banned in China, and provided a link to verify their claim: http://greatfirewallofchina.org/test.

Naturally I had to test ol' Cheap and Sleazy!

Banned in China!

Cheap and Sleazy: Banned in China?!

I am shocked ... shocked, I say ...!

Naturally, I had to test a couple other sites ... and I am pleased to report that NCRA Online.org is accessible ... but Court Reporting Help.com is blocked as well:

Court Reporting Help:  Also Banned in China

Court Reporting Help: Also Banned in China

Definitely one of those "Things That Make you go, 'Hmmmm ....!'"

Update (06MAR07)

Housekeeping Issues

Every once in a while, I get the urge to clean house.

Hey, roomie, stop laughing!

My Favorite Roomie

My Laughing Roomie (more or less) and Recent Birthday Girl

I know my room's a bit on the, shall we say, cluttered side ... but that's not the kind of "housekeeping" I'm talking about. Instead, I'm talking about internal, Cheap and Sleazy housekeeping!

Yes, that's right ... I'm talking about the annual Trimming of the Main Page!

I've removed all the extra stuff and put it in the Archives II page. Hopefully, this change will cut down the length of this page and make it load easier!

Vista: Updates

Vista, Please

Dilemma, Dilemma ...!

After my last update, a few things happened.

First, I found an e-mail from the folks at ProCAT telling me what's what with their Vista efforts in getting it to work with ProCAT's various software offerings. Alas, that is a customer e-mail ... but the subject is addressed here ... and there's more info here.

Next, I got an e-mail from Stenograph's Education Specialist, Nick Ridge. Nick had a few things to say about that (cheap and sleazy) update from a few days back, that he wanted all the (starving) students out there to know about Case Catalyst and Vista.

Specifically, Nick wanted to remind me that Case Catalyst is fully compatible with Vista. The only thing that doesn't work is a feature called EZ Keys.

"The functions performed by EZ Keys can be replicated using about 4 different editing tools within Case Catalyst," Nick says.

Nick also wanted the students to know ... well, here's what he wanted my fellow starving students to know:

"CR students that need to buy laptops are going to be forced into getting Vista in most cases. Whereas, professionals can obviously take a wait and see approach to upgrading. Students shouldn't hesitate from buying a Vista operating system."

I also got another e-mail or two from our local Stenograph rep, Michael Kerns (who, incidentally, has a couple articles in my local court reporting association's current newsletter; one on digital signatures and the other on selecting a computer).

As you might recall from that last update, I used the phrase "half way there" when referring to Case Catalyst.

Unfortunately, Mike was a bit unhappy with my "halfway there" comment about CC and Vista compatibility, believing I said CC was "halfway compatible" with Vista ... which is not exactly what I meant.

What I meant was that Case Catalyst, being nearly completely compatible with Vista, got a half point (as opposed to a full point) in the scoring for vendors that support Tech Commandment Numba Three -- you know, "Thou shalt not not adopt early, or install Version 1.0."

Since Case Catalyst's only problem is with the above-mentioned (and no-longer-supported) EZ Keys feature, they are considered fully compatible; hence, the half point.

See?

Mike also included some interesting questions (and answers) about the ProCAT Stylus and its operating system (Windows CE, or, as we Newton users say, "Wince"). I had hoped to discuss these with one of the Big Wheels at ProCAT, but alas, I did not get that promised phone call.

Perhaps one day.

He also mentioned that if you are running Windows XP, the new version of Case Catalyst is backward-compatible ... so, if you decide to follow Tech Commandment Numba Three and install Case Catalyst 8.x on your XP-running laptop, it will work just fine.

Both Mike and Nick would also like you to know that Stenograph is "the only one not recommending that our customers use outdated operating systems."

My Advice:

If you're using Case Catalyst and a Mira, Fusion, or Cybra with one of those nifty USB cables, that's great! You don't have to worry about slow updates to your serial adapter's drivers ... but if you're using Case Catalyst and an older writer, that USB connection won't work, so you should check to see if the folks that manufactured your serial adapter updated the drivers to work with Vista. If they didn't, either find another adapter, or ... wait for the update.

On the digitalCAT front, Stenovations recently announced a stop-gap measure for getting DC to work with Vista. You can read about that here.

The Man ... The Myth ... The Blog

Finally, if you've been reading ol' Cheap and Sleazy for any length of time, you might know that I think Stephen Shastay, head cook and bottle washer over at Court Reporting Help.com, is THE MAN!

What you might not know is that his blog has gone through three different incarnations (and you can find links to each of them in the recently updated Links page).

Another thing you might not know is that I have been copying-and-pasting those blog entries into one rather lengthy (64 pages thus far!)Word document.

I haven't quite gotten to the current blog, unfortunately ... but as soon as I'm completely caught up with the new blog, I'll save it as an .rtf file, and (once I get THE MAN's okay) I'll place a copy on the Cheap and Sleazy servers for you downloading (and reading) pleasure.

Update (09FEB07)

Vista: Arriving

As you've probably heard, Microsoft has released their new operating system, Vista.

On all the forums I've been to (well ... okay, so maybe a couple), several threads seem to be concerned with the Big Question: Should I upgrade to Vista?

Hello, my Minions!

(With Thanks to my Friends from the Great White North!)

Those of you who have been to ol' Cheap and Sleazy before already know the cardinal rule concerning upgrades (also, oddly enough, courtesy of my good friends from the Great White North).

For those of you who haven't been here before, that cardinal rule is reflected in Tech Commandment Numba Three, which goes like so:

"Thou shalt not not adopt early, or install Version 1.0."

I'm sure some of you might be thinking, "Why should I listen to this bozo?!"

Good question!

You don't have to listen to me. You should, however, listen to the company that makes your CAT software for starters.

On the Stenovations home page there's this message:

"Stenovations is still in the process of testing our software with the new Windows Vista environment. Until the needed patches are written to make digital CAT compatible with Vista, we recommend our users continue to use Windows XP as their operating system. Please check this page regularly for updated information."

On the Eclipse home page, there's a link to a rather lengthy statement which includes this interesting bit:

"Another few years have gone by, and another shiny new Microsoft OS is set for release. New versions of operating systems invariably contain bugs. Most are ants, but you can also expect a few cockroaches -- and it's better to wait a while, and let someone else exterminate them. Bottom line: We advise caution when upgrading to the first release of a new operating system."

On the StenoCAT site, there's this notice, which reads (in part) as follows:

"StenoCAT 32 version 5.8 has not been verified as compatible with Microsoft Vista. Customers who are already using StenoCAT 32 with Windows Vista may be taking risks with unknown problems and potential down time, and should weigh their decision to do so carefully."

Over at Stenograph, they don't say much ... but I did find this statement (in the system requirements for the latest version of Case Catalyst) interesting:

"Windows Vista, XP and 2000 compatible for use on a variety of popular computers, including the Apple MacBook with Boot Camp™!"

Wait a minute ... did they say ... Boot Camp?! Hmmmm ... think I'll come back to this in a moment or two.

While that little bit about Case Catalyst being Vista ready does tend to disprove my previous statement about adopting early, a post in this thread says Case Catalyst is not 100 percent compatible.

I've checked all the vendors, and these three are the only ones I could find that have any warnings (well, warnings I could find without digging through the entire site) about adopting early.

Still Not Convinced ...?

Let's suppose that you, despite the warnings of 3.5 vendors (have to count Stenograph as a half, here, seeing as how they're half way there ... sort of) and Yours Truly, go ahead and upgrade to Vista. What's the worst that could happen?

Well, let's take a look at how your writer talks to your laptop.

If you're like most folks, you're using a USB-serial adapter. Did the people that made that adapter upgrade their drivers to work with Vista?

What, you didn't check?

Another Option

If you're thinking about getting another laptop, and you have a copy of XP lying around, it might not hurt to avoid Vista's nifty new security feature and follow Stenograph's (more or less) suggestion and get a Mac.

Vista Security Feature

Microsoft Wants you to Upgrade to Vista. Cancel or Allow?

Eventually I will write up a little something to aid you in your search for a suitable Mac, based, in part, with an e-mail conversation with a young lady in Tampa, Florida. She has lots of questions ... and I can actually answer a good portion of them ... and from those questions and answers will come the information in the article.

Think I'll call it Sex and Power (and if you've been reading this site for a while, you know why ...).

Watch for it!

Update (03FEB07)

The Tutto Bag Reviewed

As you might recall, I was waiting on just ... one ... more picture of Chuck's Brand New Bag(™) before I posted his review of the Tutto Slim Design "Steno On Wheels" bag.

You might also recall that taking that picture was going to require some gymnastics on Chuck's part ....

Gymnastics

"Gymnastics 'r' Chuck"

... but alas, he was still recovering from an wee bit of back surgery.

Good news! Chuck is now feeling better, and has sent not one, but TWO more pictures of his "garage on wheels ...." and you can read his review (and see the pictures; duh!) here.

Enjoy! ... and, thanks, Chuck.

Update (02FEB07)

Waiting for Passport? The Wait is (Almost) Over ...!

Yes, that's right, Passport fans ... if you're waiting for Advantage Software to release the Passport, your wait is almost over ...!

If you have a copy of the current (January 2007) JCR, on page 34's facing page, you will find the Dare to Explore catalog for the NCRA Midyear Conference, which is being held up in Vancouver, BC (a mere two hour drive up I-5 for Yours Truly, by the way ....).

If you turn to page 7 of that catalog, you might want to take a look at item 20 ... titled "Vendor Seminar: Passport Writer -- Have it Your Way!"

Yes, that's right: The Passport will put in an appearance at the NCRA Midyear!

What, you don't have a JCR handy? Well, okay, I think I can't quite fix that ... but I can type pretty goOod ....

"Have it your way! No matter how light or how heavy your touch, no matter which stroke depth you prefer, in this seminar, you will learn about the exciting new Passport writer by Advantage Software. Join us to learn about the features of this cutting-edge technolgy that is light years ahead of the competition, and how the Passport virtually eliminates stacking problems. And that's only the beginning ...."

Alas, the Midyear is a bit far away for those of you whose sense of technolust (and, at the same time, dismay) were aroused by that picture of one of the more hairy denizens of the Pacific North Wet making off with the Passport (sorry about that ... but when I saw that picture over on the Depoman.com forum, I knew it just had to appear on ol' Cheap and Sleazy!) ... so, for you, both the technolustful and the dismayed, here's the one shot I have been given the green light to publish:

Passport Writer:  Top View

The Passport Writer (Top View)

Note that this is a PRE-PRODUCTION MODEL!!

What that means is the released version will not look exactly like the model shown here ... but this is essentially how the writer will look.

Update (26JAN07)

Chuck's Got a Brand New Bag

A Tutto Slim Design "Steno On Wheels" bag, that is.

Charles ("Chuck") Motter was nice enough to write a review of his "garage on wheels" for me ... complete with pictures! It will be up in a few days, as I need one more picture, and Chuck is recovering from back surgery ... and this particular picture requires Chuck to perform some rather strenuous gymnastics to take ... so, we wait a few days!

Passport Sighting

Yes, it's true ... the elusive Passport has been sighted! Thanks to an unnamed source over at Earthfiles.com, I am now very proud to present this photo of the elusive Passport:

Bigfoot Stuff

The Elusive Passport ... at Last!

Well, okay ... so that's not it ... but I do have some shots of the preliminary, pre-production model. Unfortunately, I can't release them just yet ... but soon! Stay tuned.

Update (16JAN07)

Birthday Greets ...!

Yes, that's right ... time for me to indulge in one of the rights and privileges afforded to me as a grandfather and webmaster and put ol' Cheap and Sleazy to (a different) use and wish my favorite granddaughter a happy 11th birthday!

Grampaw Glen's Favorite Granddaughter!

Grampaw Glen's Favorite Granddaughter!

Ah, yes ... the perks of the position ...!

And, in case you're wondering, yes, that is a Newton in her lap!

Update (03JAN07)

Is Your Wireless Network Really "Secure" ....?

Mike Miller, over at Depoman.com posted a quick message about how easy it is to break into someone's wireless network ... and the info was accompanied by a video.

After watching these guys sit outside this one guy's house and actually watch (and print, in living color, no less) several of the web pages he visited ... well, let's just say that before the video was over, I had opened my Airport Admin Utility software and updated my Airport Express' security to ... well, something stronger than 128 WEP.

If you have a wireless network, watch that video ... and adjust your security settings accordingly!

Update (31DEC06)

Happy New Year ...!

Just finished updating the Links page (added a few links -- nothing new -- and cleaned up a few messes here and there).

Also modified the copyright info at the bottom of a few of the pages on ol' Cheap and Sleazy (because of that whole "Happy New Year!" thing).

That said, I could use a bit of assistance.

A Little Help ...?

As my regular readers might recall, I recently suffered a rather serious hard drive crash!

Among the lost items were a bunch of .mp3s of the Different Dictation persuasion ... and a few screenshots of Case Catalyst alongside The Drill Machine and Ace Reader Pro.

Your mission -- should you decide to accept it -- is to fire up your copy of Case Catalyst and the Drill Machine (or Ace Reader Pro) ... feed them a drill, arrange them so you can see your steno translations and either the Drill Machine or Ace Reader Pro at the same time, do some drilling ... and hit your Print Screen button.

Next, open WordPad (you know ... Start --> Run ... and type "wordpad.exe" ... then do Edit --> Paste).

After that, save the WordPad document ... and send it to me in an e-mail! (I need the pictures to finish my article on using your CAT software, the Drill Machine, Speed Teacher, and Ace Reader Pro to build speed!)

Thanks ...! Your assistance will yield you (yes, YOU) a virtual HIGH-FIVE, right here on ol' Cheap and Sleazy --! (And, just so you know, that and $5.00 will get you a Frappuccino at Starbucks).

Thanks!

Update (21DEC06)

It's That Time of Year Again ....

Yes, that's right ... it's that holiday season!

Charlie Brown

"Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!" (and R.I.P., Charles Schultz!)

Wishing You and Yours a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanuka, Happy Kwanza, Happy Ramidan (is that right?), or whatever you may celebrate at this time of year!

If you click the picture of Good ol' Charlie Brown up there, you will (eventually) hear an interesting version of "Silent Night" by my cyber-friend Andrew Sega that he put together when he was with the cyber group, Five Musicians. I took the IT (that's "Impulse Tracker," in case you were wondering) module and converted it to .mp3 with the (now dormant) PlayerPro ... and I have uploaded it for your listening pleasure.

And, since I'm feeling all nostalgic for .mod music from the 90s, I've also uploaded U4IA's Xmas Pudding Mix by another cyber friend, Jim "U4IA" Young for your listening pleasure.

And Speaking of Nostalgia ....

Back in the early 90s, I discovered what can now be considered the predecessor to the .mp3s we're all so familiar with today ... they were called ".mods."

Found a lot of interesting music on various ftp sites, and began listening to the biggies: U4IA, Necros, Basehead, etc.

Every once in a while, I would run into an interview with some of these musicians -- musicians who, using a comparatively low-powered computer with software that could only accommodate four voices, were able to produce very listenable music!

Then one day, it happened.

I read an interview with -- well, I forget who -- and the interviewer asked the following question:

Q. If you could be a doughnut, what kind would you be?

Arrrggghhh!!!!

As you might guess, I wasn't too happy to read that question ... and that's when I decided that I could do better ... which is how the U4IA interview and the Necros interview came about.

(Talk about a blast from the past ... took quite a while to find these ...!)

Oh, I also began an interview with Darkhalo, but alas, between the pressures of work and school, he stopped answering my e-mailed questions ... so that's a still-born interview. :o( I told the editor what happened, and sent him what I had. I think he's still waiting for me to finish the interview, some two years later ...! Maybe I should give him the bad news ....

In the meantime (since I'm being all nostalgic and all), you may as well listen to one of Darkhalo's tunes. It's definitely not Christmas music ... but if you find yourself snowed in somewhere, Eastern Shore will definitely evoke thoughts of warmer climates .....

Alas, I haven't found a reliable way to stream these ... but I'm still looking. Eastern Shore weighs in at a rather hefty 7 megs! Sorry about that ....

Well. Happy Holidays, everyone!

Update (10DEC06)

Mac News

Over on the Compuserve Court Reporters Forum, a Case Catalyst user asked about using a MacBook with Case Catalyst.

The answer was a bit surprising ...!

A tip o' the hat to Stenograph for supporting THE best hardware out there!

Well ... maybe second best. Have I ever told you about the $18,500 laptop?

Talk about drool-worthy hardware: No hard drive; just 1TB (yes, that's Terabyte ... or 1,000,000,000,000 bytes of storage! ... you do remember that whole "Kiss My Grits Texas" thing from The Good Stuff, right?) solid-state optoelectronic non-volatile RAM ... along with a 6.8 GHz CPU, another 2 TB of additional storage, wireless internet, Bluetooth, DVD-RW drive, etc., etc. ... so, if any of you happen to win the lottery between now and Christmas (or my birthday in June, even! I'm not picky ...) and are feeling generous, I certainly would love to have one of these ...!

Update (29NOV06)

Minor updates to the Technolust piece to accomodate the below update (and the shifting of some URLS for the soon-to-be-released(?) Passport and the overhaul of the CRNet forum).

New Writer Coming ...?

While researching the answer to a question from a new user of ProCAT Winner, I went to the Stenovations home page for the first time in a while ... and I found this:

Attention Digitouch Owners

If you purchased a digiTouch, Stenovations will extend a 100% credit of the original amount paid towards the purchase of the new writer we will be releasing early next summer. Details coming soon! Please check our website often for more information.

For those of you who are new to ol' Cheap and Sleazy, here's what the digiTouch looked like:

Stenovations' new digiTouch keyboard

Stenovations' digiTouch Keyboard (Discontinued)

I'll see if I can scare up some more details on this new toy Soonest.

Interesting Two-Voice

Want some interesting two-voice dictation? Get your writer and laptop ready, and click here!

Update (18NOV06)

Want Some Really Fast Q&A?

Well, fire up your radios and VCRs (or just use your radio) and tune in to Coast to Coast AM this Monday for a three hour interview with Dr. Bruce Goldberg.

Dr. Goldberg is a dentist and hypnotherapist. His topic will be psychic attacks.

Did I mention his normal speaking speed is about 260 wpm?

And did I mention that when he gets excited (as he usually is when he's on the radio), that speed moves up to about 300 wpm?

So, since it's a two-person interview, that's Q&A ... but because of the, shall we say, rather exotic topic being discussed, I suppose this could count as a Lit as well!

What's that saying ... oh, yeah! "Want to take a ride?"

-o0o-

Also, just in case ...

The entire contents of this website are
copyright © 2003 - 2013 by Glen Dwayne Warner and assorted Guest Writers