The Archives

(Or "Here There Be Old Stuff")

26JUN10 Update

Acculaw Back on Cheap and Sleazy

It's been six months, so I thought I would check to see how Acculaw was doing with the Better Business Bureau ... and they have managed to improve their raiting from an F- to an A-. That's good enough for me, so I have placed them once again on Cheap and Sleazy.

Way to go, Acculaw! Keep that rating up. I cannot send my readers to a company that does not treat their customers (especially my readers) fairly.

Acculaw's New and Improved BBB Rating

Acculaw's New and Improved BBB Rating

I checked the other vendors, and one of them also has an F rating ...! I'm sure they know who they are. Looks like it's just a couple of complaints, too. Get those taken care of, please.

Thanks!

Diamante and The Wave: The Differences

Stenograph has put out a .pdf showing the differences between the two writers. You can view it here or here on Stenograph's site.

19JUN10 Update

New Writer Alert ...?

Over on Facebook, Mike Miller, the HMFIC (yes, that's still short for "Head Man Frelling In Charge," for those of you that are wondering) over at Depoman.com posted this image:

Le Diamante Continental

Le Diamante Continental

Naturally, I got curious: The missing vowel keys sort of *screamed* Photoshop job to me ... but I went over to Stenograph's site and did some looking around, and I found this page.

For those of you who are reading ol' Cheap and Sleazy offline, that page points you to a page dedicated to the Continental Diamante, meant for our friends across the pond who use the Grand Jean theory.

As for the verbiage above the picture in French, Google Translate says it reads as follows:

The stenotype Diamante Continental is the best performing stenotypes ever designed and the first to get surprising results from the outset.

Say ... is it just me, or does that keyboard look weird?!


28JAN14 Update

28JAN14 Update: Continental Diamante Page -- Updated

Somewhere along the way, Stenograph updated the Continental Diamante's page ... and the translation now reads as follows:

Diamante Continental ... elegant, avant-garde, incredibly simple. The stenotype Diamante is the most efficient of stenotype machines ever built and the first to get results

The stenotype Diamante is the most efficient of stenotype machines ever built and the first to get results

A brilliant display provides high visibility color display A bright active matrix displays text, shorthand notes, or both together. The display mechanism tilts smoothly from 0 to 65 degrees to accommodate the variations in brightness . The screen is to protect flap when not used. Five font sizes with color choices are easy to select and customize.

Triple protection for your precious work

Shorthand notes, timestamps and sounds are stored on the SD card and SD card data backup. Backup last 36,000 pages of notes and timestamps are stored in a memory of 64 MB in the rare case where SD cards are lost or damaged. It supports SD cards from 1 to 32 GB SD card data and 4GB SD card backup are provided with stenotype.

Data transfer

In real time via USB to Case CATalyst and other CAT systems Windows XP / Vista. SD cards easily transfer the work of the stenotype machine to the computer. Updated dictionary is via USB from Case CATalyst and other systems of computer-aided transcription via RTF-CRE. Use a USB key to transfer the work of the stenotype machine to your computer and let the SD cards in stenotype

AudioSync™ OTG - on the move!

Let the tape recorder at home. Record sound and even monitor sound quality. Start, pause and stop. Listen again synchronized sound on your headphones or a speaker if you decide to share with the participants. Microphone, headphone and speaker sold separately.

TrueStroke™ technology

The TrueStroke technology (patent pending ) uses software to accurately track the movement of each shorthand typing. It replaces the contact setting with traditional keys, and provides a more careful when writing the start . There is no setting to "under the hood."

Tripod EasyLock® Z12

Weighing only 600 g and 30 cm folding, the Z12 still right in front of you for a perfect writing position. The tilt mechanism, which is down the bottom of the stenotype, adjusts the angle of + / - degrees for comfort and variety in the position. The central steel column manual elevation facilitates the adjustment of the height of the tripod.


01JUN10 Update

The Wave: The Manual

Nick has been kind enough to send along the (.pdf format) manual for the new Stenograph Wave. You can read it here.

Shipping begins somewhere near the 15th of this month.

31MAY10 Update

New Steno iPhone App

Marc "Simply Steno" Greenberg has been hard at work.

In addition to grading tests for people all over the world that are enrolled in his Simply Steno online school and maintaining several websites (Steno Life.com, RPR Prep.com, and SpeedBuilders.com, to name a few), Marc has managed to write design iSteno.

iSteno

iSteno: The Brief Machine Gets Briefed

If you've ever been stuck for a brief and not had internet access at the time so you could check The Brief Machine over at StenoLife.com, Marc has squeezed the Brief Machine into an iPhone app! You can get it here, at the low, low price of $6.99.

Blast From the Past

In light of the Princess Leia tribute here on ol' Cheap and Sleazy, I wanted to update (sort of) a story I wrote back in 2005 or so, where I talked about a laughing duck outside my bedroom window.

The original story had a picture of a certain duck which, when clicked, was supposed to play ... well, let's just say, a rather amusing song.

Alas, I never could get that to work right; it kept insisting that I download the song!

So thanks to the miracle of copy-and-paste, I copied the appropriate bits of code from the afore-mentioned Leia piece, made the appropriate changes, and Eureka!! Duck City!

You can read the excerpt by clicking the picture below:

Angry Daffy Duck

Laughing Ducks, or ... This Guy? Hmmm ...

Fair warning: Clicking that pictue will play a song!

21MAY10 Update

New Writer Alert

While trying to properly word an answer to a question about the Elan Cybra, I began looking around on Stenograph's website the other day, and I found something interesting:

Not Quite the Cybra

Not Quite the Cybra

"So what?!, " you say? Well, take a closer look at the picture ... and remember, the link I clicked on was for the student version of the CYBRA.

(Okay, so I know it's a bit hard to read ... so I saved it as a .pdf so you could read it better. Go ahead and click on that link (if the .pdf opens in a new browser window, don't forget to hit CTRL-+ to make it more readable!). I'll wait.)

Did you notice? No? Well, the more sharp-eyed folk might have noticed that the pictured writer might be a Cybra, but the name sure isn't: It says "Wave Student Writer."

As you might guess, that got the ol' Cheap and Sleazy antennas standing up --

My Favorite Martian

My Favorite Martian

-- and soon enough, I had confirmation from Jill Driscoll via a thread on Depoman, where she mentioned a new "captioning model" of the Diamante that would sell for about $1900.

A quick e-mail to Nick Ridge, Stenograph's Education Specialist, and things began to become clearer:

Its a student version of Diamante. Displays steno notes only, no translation on screen. Adjustable brightness, font w/ 50 page (12000 stroke) memory capacity. I've been on road all week showing instructors in CA - very enthusiastic response across board. We'll begin shipping in 3-4 weeks. $1975.

There followed a few more e-mails, during one of which I asked the question, "How many fonts?"

Nick is a guy who believes in the old adage, "A picture is worth a thousand words," so ....

Font Options on The Wave

Font Options on The Wave

Wave:  Rear

Wave: Rear

Wave:  Display

Wave: Display

As you can see in the above picture, Nick is showing us that he can write his last name in one stroke ...! Sneaky guy.

I asked Nick if there were any other writers in the pipeline. He said -- well, let me put this whole copy-and-paste thing to work, here ....

Correct. The Wave is the new writer. The Protege will continue to be made. Once we exhaust our current supply of processor boards for the Cybra, that writer will no longer be made new.

The Wave will replace the student cybra and also serve as the niche model for captioners - wheras the cybra had a professional version with larger memory capacity. Students will now have opportunity to start with the same light touch that they'll have on their professional machine.

So we'll have new Waves and Proteges. Used Protege and Cybras.

I asked if there would be any way to upgrade the memory to a level required to do (non-CART/captioning) work, but it's Friday, so I probably won't hear back on that until Monday.

Or Tuesday.

16MAY10 Update

Let's Go Wireless!

Hate wires? Wanna go completely wireless?

BlueSoliel Available Devices

BlueSoliel Available Devices

Well, me too ...! Fortunately for both -- er, all of us, Dotchie Blankenship wrote an article that shows you (yes, you) how to put together a completely wireless system ... as in, wireless from your laptop to your writer, AND wireless to any attorneys that may be nearby!

Dotchie lays it all out in her article, Create Your Own Bluetooth Realtime System.

Yes, it will co$t you ... but it should be cheaper than any of the competing products available right now.

Passport Skins

Some time back, I was talking with Greg Seely, over at Advantage Software (you know ... the folks that make Eclipse and the Passport) about possibly adding different colors to the Passport color scheme. He said at the time that something was in the works ... and that "something" is Passport Skins!

They're selling for $25.00 each. A bit less expensive than the Steno Styles metallic paint jobs from AJ Steno (I think!), but it will do in a pinch.

Met one of my Readers ...!

Yes, that's right ... I met one of the readers of ol' Cheap nad Sleazy.

I had been corresponding off and on with this particular reader for a few years now (she was a student at the Tacoma branch of CRI back in the day).

Some time last week, she sent me an e-mail and asked if I was going to attend the joint NCRA/WCRA educational seminar this past weekend. I told her I was, and she wrote back, "See you there!"

As I was driving to the seminar, I realized I had no idea what she looked like ... and since pictures of me are scarce (on here, anyway), she also had no idea what/who to look for.

All the students got ushered into a different room than the reporters (I did mention it was a joint event, right?), and I found a seat in the rear of the class, next to a woman I hadn't seen before.

About half an hour later, she turned to me and said, "Say, are you Glen Warner?" I admitted my guilt, and she introduced herself as the very same woman I had been talking to all these years -- who I somehow managed to sit next to quite by chance!

Most interesting ... and a big Cheap and Sleazy HELLO to you, Ms. Linda Lee!

And, Speaking of that Seminar ....

It was pretty interesting despite my having to miss the presentation on social media networks that was going on for the working reporters.

On the plus side, I finally got to lay my li'l piddies -- er, hands -- on an actual, real-live Passport!

The touch was light, light, light ... though not quite as "sneeze-light" as the Gemini was.

Alas, as I was driving home, I realized I didn't notice that the vowel keys were on the same level as the rest of the keys, which is a key ergonomic feature of the writer.

On the other hand, the mere fact that I didn't notice a difference says something!

Alas, Stenovations was a big NO SHOW despite promises from Carmen Santone to one of my classmates that he would stop by the school and do a presentation. Hopefully he'll be able to make arrangements for such a demo with our department head in the not-too-distant!

14MAY10 Update

New Site: ReadBack.org

Todd Olivias is a busy guy.

He's a firm owner, runs the firm's website, has his own blog, and has a (relatively speaking) new kid ... so what does this busy guy go and do? Why, he goes out and starts up a site for court reporters and court reporting students, called Readback.org!

Readback.org logo

Readback.org Logo

The site is a place where you can ask (and answer!) questions from other reporters and soon-to-be reporters. Sure, you get points, but at the end of the day, you will also have the satisfaction of knowing that your answer helped someone out there ... so what's not to like?

So stop on by, register, and start reading (and answering, if the spirit moves you) some of those questions!

09MAY10 Update

I don't know if you've noticed, but ol' Cheap and Sleazy was off the air for a few days.

For those of you who missed the announcement on my twitter page, I tried to avoid being Mr. Wait-Until-The-Last-Minute-to-do-my-Taxes this year, and filed early.

Even better, I got my refund early! This made one of my young nieces very happy, because I bought her a G4 PowerBook ($300), but I digress.

Unfortunately, the early refund meant that when it came time to pay the hosting fees on May 5th, well, the refund was long gone ... so first my e-mail stopped working, then I noticed my site seemed to have been replaced with a placeholder:

Fee Blunder:  Oops!

Fee Blunder: Oops!

It took a couple of days, but I finally got a moment to write up a quick announcement and post it to the Court Reporting Students group, the Phoenix Theory Forum, the StenoLife forum. and the CRF ... and then I posted something on my Facebook page:

Cheap and Sleazy: Down for the Count! I owe $144 in hosting fees, and don't have it ... but once I do, the site will be back up! Sorry about that. Next year, none of that "get-the-taxes-done-early" crap!

A few minutes after I posted that, I got an e-mail from Alleece Jones DePuey, whom I soon will be pressing into service to review Dictionary JumpStart. Aleece asked me if I had a PayPal account. I told her I did, and gave her the associated e-mail address. Three minutes later, I got another e-mail from her. It simply said, "Check your e-mail?" ... so I did ... and there in my In box was a message from PayPal, the subject of which was "Mary Aleece DePuey sent you $175.00 USD" ...?!?

Long story short, if you're reading this on Monday, May 10th, you have Mary Aleece DePuey to thank for that ... and I do as well.

And so, without further ado .....

Thank You Very Much, Mary Aleece Jones DePuey!

Yes ... I owe you BIG TIME.

In Other News ....

As my regular readers probably know, I have been whining expressing some dismay about my MacBook Pro's crappy behavior of late: The dead keyboard and trackpad, and the Apple-provided firmware update that made my Superdrive way, way less than super -- that is, the drive is supposed to read and write both CDs and DVDs, and after applying an Apple firmware update a few years back, anytime I put a blank DVD or CD in, the drive just spits it out -- which, as you might guess, makes it hard to do backups!

Now, before anyone says I'm hallucinating this Superdrive problem, there are three different Mac laptops in this house. ALL OF THEM are afflicted with this same problem!

Did I mention that the only cure was to replace the drive with a new one?

As for the keyboard problem, it just stopped working completely (again) the other day. Usually taking the battery out is enough to get it going -- at least, until I put the battery back in. Of late, unfortunately, nothing seems to work ...! You never notice how much you rely on your trackpad when you don't have access to it anymore.

You also don't know how much you miss the self-illuminating keyboard until you're using an all black keyboard in low light conditions ... so if you see any typos, I blame this old (original!) iMac keyboard and hockey puck mouse.

On the plus (??) side, Apple sells a bluetooth keyboard and (seperately) the "Super Mouse" which allows you to stroke it with two fingers, which makes the page you're on scroll up or down. If your system doesn't do that, you're probably saying, "So what?!"

If so, you just have to try using the a system with a trackpad that allows you to scroll, or writing on a illuminated keyboard in the dark when you switch back to your old system, I'm pretty sure you will miss those new features!

Coming Up Real Soon Now ....

I'm still working on the Plateau update ... but it's really hard to do the copying and pasting properly with just a mouse, and sans keyboard and trackpad, so I'll "'Git 'er Done" Soonest.

I have in hand a review of the LightSpeed ...!

All it needs is some editing ... and the all-important pictures! I'll get back to this one Soonest.

I also have in-hand an article on how to make your own Bluetooth Realtime System, by Dorothy "Dotchie" Blankenship -- complete with pictures!

I am also in the process of putting together an article for new reporters written by Lisa Migliore Andriot Black that explains why it is important to research any firm you're thinking about working for ... complete with a few horror stories of what might happen if you don't follow Lisa's advice.

Say ... did I mention the videos?

04MAY10 Update

"No Retreat, No Surrender"

That seems to be the slogan of CA reporter Susan T. DeMichelle.

Seems that Ms. DeMichelle did a deposition for a Florida attorney, sent the transcript to him in a timely fashion, and did not get paid.

She sued (and won) in a CA court, but still, no monies from this ... outstanding member of the Florida Bar ... and now, after some legal tussling that has been going on for about four years, this attorney is suing Ms. DeMichelle for $5,000!

Say, did I mention the original bill was only $480?

Somewhere during this three years, Ms. DeMichell got on the phone and called a few court reporting firms in Florida and asked about this particular attorney. Turns out he does this sort of thing all the time: Engages a CR's services, doesn't pay, gets sued, loses, and counter-sues for a much larger amount, in hopes that the reporter will just go away.

Well, Ms. DeMichelle is not going to go away. In fact, were I in her shoes, I would be gathering names, addresses, and phone numbers of any other reporters around the country that have been similarly treated by this particular attorney ... and putting together a class action suit!

I don't know what Ms. DeMichelle is actually going to do, but you can find out by reading her blog:

http://demichelledepositionreporters.blogspot.com

"No Retreat, No Surrender!" Go get 'em, Susan.

15JAN16 Update

Alas, Ms. DeMichelle's blog (and business) is now long gone ... so if you want to read what was there at the time, go here:

http://web.archive.org/web/20111010131706/http://demichelledepositionreporters.blogspot.com

15MAR10 Update

Diamante for a Cause

Pink Ribbon

Ye Olde Pink Ribbon

In case you haven't heard, Stenograph has released a limited edition pink Diamante:

Pink Ribbon Diamante

Pink Ribbon Diamante

Here's the accompanying blurb:

It's fresh. It's new. It's our most requested color. It's a color with a cause.

Introducing the Pink Ribbon Diamante.

As a company that serves a clientele primarily of women and a company whose many employees have been directly or indirectly affected by breast cancer, research for a breast cancer cure is a cause that has been meaningful to us for a long time. The idea to tie this cause to the launch of the pink color choice was largely due to Vickie Main, who has been spearheading our company-wide breast cancel awareness campaign for years.

A portion of the purchase price of each Pink Ribbon Diamante will go to support the National Breast Cancer Foundation1 (NBCF). Stenograph has guaranteed a minimum donation of $10,000 to the NBCF but it could easily more.

Buyers of the Pink Ribbon Diamante can show their support for those who are fighting in a special way. In addition to a guaranteed minimum gift from Stenograph, buyers can donate up to $50. Stenograph will match.

This year will undoubtedly be an exceptional year for donations from the annual employee campaign and the culmination of the Pink Ribbon Diamante program in October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Here's another shot:

Another Shot of the Pink Diamante

Another Shot of the Pink Diamante

Alas, I cancelled my request of one of my classmates to take a picture of this new writer at the conventon, as I had already received one via e-mail ... but from a complaint or two I read on Facebook, it's not as pink as that second shot.

This student is looking for a new writer, so she's probably going to take pictures anyway, so I'll ask her Tuesday.

Of course, if you attended the convention and have a confirming shot, don't hesitate to shoot me an e-mail!

Oh, and a Big Thanks to Adam Woznicki at Stenograph who posted these on his Facebook page ... and another Big Thanks to my secret source at Stenograph who sent me a heads up that this writer was coming ... but, since s/he is a "secret source," I can't be any more specific!

An Interesting Upgrade for the Stentura 8000/8000LX

If you've read my article, "The Good Stuff," then you already know that I am not wild about writers with floppy drives.

Add to that fact that Stenograph has announced that December of this year will represent the end of the line for support from them for these writers, and you might appreciate this one!

The guys at Top Cat Steno have come up with a USB-based repacement for the floppy drive, which they have named The "Flippy:"

Top Cat Steno's Flippy Drive

Top Cat Steno's "Flippy" Drive

Naturally, I had to call and ask a few questions ...! Alas, the owner wasn't in that day, so I spoke to one of their technicians. Here's the skinny:

This upgrade has only been offered for a few months, it sells for $290. It was created to offset the lack of floppy drives (yes, you can blame Apple for that!), and unfortunately, no matter how large of a drive you plug into the Flippy, the writer will ONLY see it as a 1.4MB floppy.

Fortunately, improvements are planned. Alas, the tech wasn't able to say exactly what improvements they had in mind, but hopefully they'll be able to figure out a way for the writer to see the entire USB drive you plug in. If that's the case, it will definitely make importing dictionaries easier!

I asked the tech if they had worked out a method to upgrade the RAM on the writers, but he said no. Might definitely be something to look into, though ....

Stephen Shastay's Blogs

Yeah, yeah, I know, I know ... I promised to get those blogs consolidated into one large Word document about a gazillion years ago ...!

The good news: I reached the final blog entry yesterday!

The bad news: Three of the blog entries has all 1000 words from Brief Man 1000! In the interest of saving space, I've been trying to shoehorn them into three rather large tables, of which I'll take a screenshot of, and paste that into the compilation.

Don't know how long it will take to get all that done, but it looks like my upcoming spring break just got a bit busier ...!

Possible Update to "The Plateau"

While doing a Google search for ... well, something, I found an older version of Stephen Shastay's abandoned book-in-progress, "The Plateau" --! I have sent him an e-mail asking if it would be okay to host it on ol' Cheap and Sleazy. Haven't heard back yet, but I will be doing some more copying and pasting while I wait.

Say, did I mention this one has 18 chapters?!

28FEB10 Update

Passport Review Update

Cheri Mays has a small update to her Passport review, after she had sent her writer in for some upgrades. Check out the 28FEB10 update in the review.

And, Speaking of the Passport ....

I contacted my local Eclipse rep recently and set up a demo (and photo-op) of the Passport this past weekend. Got up, got ready to go, and ... no camera!?

Had to re-schedule, unfortunately (grrrr!!) ... but on the plus side, I did find my camera, and no, it wasn't where I left it.

Hate when that happens!

Well. Look for (my local Eclipse rep's schedule permitting) some news on that front in the next week or so.

Good Deal on Indexing/Condensing Software

Go here:

http://www.protext.com

"So Where's This Good Deal!?"

Why, the good deal is that this software used to cost $400 ... and now you can get it for F R E E --!

Well, it's free until April; after that, you have to pay a monthly subscription of a whopping .....

.... $8.00 a month.

Yes, you read that right: EIGHT DOLLARS A MONTH!

Even better (well, okay, maybe *slightly* better), ProTEXT is working on improving their software so it will do everything the competition does, without that hefty monthly fee. One company made a sudden switch to this particular payment model and totally irked long-time customers no end when they discovered that the software they PURCHASED has suddenly switched to a subscription-based pay model!! "How could that be!??" you ask? Good question ... for which I have no answer (well, nothing I can attribute to anybody at the company in question, anyway).

When you download ProTEXT, make sure you follow the instructions in Question 88 on their Support page to unlock your software.

A big Cheap and Sleazy "Thanks!" to Jennie M. for posting this on courtreporterssite.com!

The CSR Nation Situation Update

Thanks to some expert detective work by Marc "Simply Steno" Greenberg, Kelli found the name and e-mail address of Ning.com's legal counsel, and asked that we send messages to him on her behalf, explaining how no one has ever heard of Jimmy Boy Diaz, and how the loss of the website has impacted many people financially, etc.

I (of course!) sent one, along with a few other folks on Kelli's placeholder site (at http://courtreporterssite.ning.com). It worked, apparently ... because Kelli asked us on behalf of Ning's legal counsel to stop sending the e-mails! :o)

Alas, the only thing that came out of that meeting was something Kelli already knew: She has to sue Jimmy Boy and provide proof of a judgment in her favor before they can do anything.

By the way, here's what my e-mail said:

Greetings, Mr. Ghoorah.

Rumor has it that you are the In-house Counsel for Ning.com.

I am writing on behalf of the owner of a recently hacked Ning site, Kelli Combs, of CSR Nation (that stands for "Certified Shorthand Reporters," by the way).

In case you are not aware, ownership and control of Ms. Combs' 6000 member Ning site, csrnation.com, was recently illegally transferred to a Mr. James Diaz, of Washington, DC.

Ms. Combs has been paying for this account since 2008, and then one day the site was gone, replaced by something called Customer Service Representatives.com, and all of the content of these 6000 members suddenly deleted, and the domain itself transferred from GoDaddy.com to Moniker.com.

Ms. Combs was asked by Ning to provide proof that she was the original owner and she has done so. Said proof includes numerous copies of credit card statements, an e-mail from her former partner, Muntaser (Monti) Majthoub, which basically says that he started the network in late 2007, and transferred ownership to Ms. Combs sometime in November of 2009, and pretty much anything she was asked by Ning to provide -- all to no avail: They still believe that Mr. Diaz is the rightful owner.

While Ms. Combs has been able to provide proof of ownership, her questions as to what Mr. Diaz (whom no one has ever heard of, by the way) provided have gone unanswered.

Despite all of the evidence of Ms. Combs' ownership of this social network, Ning says that the only way for her to get control of her network back is to sue Mr. Diaz -- who, quite frankly, is notorious for not answering his phone calls or e-mails.

I'm pretty sure that all 6000 members of the original CSR Nation would appreciate it if Ning would ignore the claim of Mr. Diaz (again, whom no one has ever heard of) and restore CSR Nation from their backups.

Thank you for your time.

Best,

Glen Warner

Member, CSR Nation.com

Kelli recently sent me an e-mail asking about how to find someone who hides behind a P.O. Box, like Jimmy Boy is doing. I sent her a couple links she could try, and she discovered what I was pretty sure she would find: The P.O. Box was bogus.

What's Next ...?

Jimmy Boy ponied up some money to "buy" the domain name through Moniker.com ... and I'm pretty sure these guys don't take cash. That might be a way to track him down.

Another method might be -- well, let's not give Jimmy Boy too much info! I'll pass that idea on to Kelli, and will update you at the appropriate time.

14FEB10 Update

The Latest on CSR Nation

For those of you who have not been following this whole saga, here's a few updates:

•  I found some contact info for the legal department of Moniker.com, the company that now "owns" the stolen domain name and passed that info to Kelli. Kelli says they told her that the transfer was approved by her via e-mail, from one of her e-mail accounts (AOL) -- over which, she discovered to her dismay, she has also lost control(!)

•  She has provided the folks at Ning with ample proof that she is the righful owner, but for quite some time, she received no response from Ning -- despite a couple trips to their offices

•  It has been suggested that Kelli get the press involved, and she has been exchanging e-mails with a local news station, so hopefully something will happen with that.

•  Today, she got a rather disquieting response from someone at Ning:

Okay. Ning got back to me stating a person named James Diaz is claiming he is the owner of CSRnation.com the website. I have never heard of this person before. The only way I am going to get this website back is to sue him, whoever he is. Here is their response:

Dear Kelli,

The current Network Creator, James Diaz, has also asserted that he is the rightful Network Creator of http://csrnation.ning.com. As previously mentioned, Ning is an online service provider that provides a set of technology applications that enable individuals to build their own social networks. Ning isn't involved in the management of the social networks on the platform. As such, we're not in a position to determine who is the rightful Network Creator of http://csrnation.ning.com.

We will not be taking any action unless we receive legal process, so we suggest that you resolve this matter with James Diaz directly. Otherwise, we're more than happy to transfer control of this account and/or any social networks upon receipt of a judicial determination that you have the right to control the account and/or social networks. We sincerely hope that this matter can be resolved soon.

Thank you,
The Ning Team

So it looks like it's back to Kelli trying to get Jimmy Boy to actually answer his e-mail or phone! I don't think this is going to work, frankly.

In the meantime, she has filed a complaint against Ning with the Better Business Bureau. Also, they (Ning) did pretty much recommend that Kelli initiate some sort of legal process. There's an old saying: "Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it."

I'm thinking that Ning is going to get what they wished for, and they're not going to like it.

Reminds me of that old Laurel and Hardy sketch (which YouTube doesn't seem to have, unfortunately), "Pay the Two Dollars!" ... which is an updated version of the same sketch from the 80s movie, "Better Off Dead."

Basically, in the original sketch, one of the comedic duo had a bill for two dollars, and the pair spent most of the sketch trying to avoid paying that two dollars ... and each time they did, they got deeper and deeper into trouble, until finally they ended up owing way more than just two dollars ... so the moral of that story was "Pay the Two Dollars!"

Want Some Fast Practice Material ...?

Howzabout some Oral Arguments from the Supreme Court ...?

Alas, I can't really do much with these myself as yet ... but it's good to know they're available! Those of you that are in a speed way, way above 60 will probably find this to be more of more use than it would be to me at this point.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your steno machines ...!

"Once More, Into the Bleach er, Breech ..."

Once More, Into the Bleach cover

"Once More, Into Bleach" -- and no, I am not Dying my hair!!

Yes, that's right ... I'm back in CR school -- this time in my state's one remaining school, at Green River Community College. I'm in the 60 wpm class ... where, unlike my old school's "pass three tests and move up" policy of speed building, I have to pass twelve tests to move to the next speed ...!

I think I have about 8 more to go -- and those have to be at 98 percent or better!

My class has six people in it, of which, only one has ever heard of ol' Cheap and Sleazy! (Don't worry ... I'm fixing that!)

I have helped four of the six get going with digitalCAT (one of those remaining two is on Eclipse, and the other is in the process of waiting for her tax refund so she can buy another laptop), and they seem pretty happy with DC thus far.

Good thing Stenovations provides a StenEd dictionary to download ....

As for those students outside of my class, two of the women in the high speed class recognized me from (I think) the last WCRA Educational Seminar.

One said, "So you finally made it down here!", and the other said, "Yes, we finally have you here!", and then she laughed in a rather sinister fashion (*shudder!*).

Still, it's good to be back in the Steno School life!

Coming Up Real Soon Now™ ....

I have an article in hand that talks about the value of doing proper research before accepting a position with an agency ... and, as an example of what happens when you don't follow that advice, I have the opening statement from an attorney who defended a court reporter in a lawsuit because the agency ... well, let's just say the agency Did Bad Things™ and let it go at that.

As an object lesson, those opening remarks speak volumes ...! Those of you who are doing your internships will DEFINITELY need to read that article when it comes out ...!

06FEB10 Update

CSR Nation: Update

I got an e-mail from Keill Combs today that I think those of you following the CSR Nation situation might find of Interest:

Hey, All

I just started a new website in like literally minutes just for a place for us all to talk about what is going on with CSRnation. It is super plain but at least people can come here to ask questions till I get the other website back.

courtreporterssite.com is the name of the website. Please tell people you know because I cannot get ahold of everyone.

Kelli Combs

I signed up for an account; stop on by!

Also, I have been remiss in mentioning that Kelli's former partner in the development of CSRNation, Monti (Muntassen) Majthoub, also has a website similar to the now missing in action CSR Nation. If you had an account on CSR Nation at the time they went their separate ways, use your CSR Nation login credentials to log into Court Reporter Connect. Things are a bit diferent there, but (mostly) the same. Stop on by!

"Just the Stats, Ma'am."

While I was working on the above update, I (for some reason) started looking at the Stats page for ol' Cheap and Sleazy.

For those of you that don't do web development, the Stats page is how I can see what people are reading on the website, what site they came from to get here, and what Google search they used that landed them here.

I saw one search for "csrnation back," and I just had to take a peak ... and, among other things, I found that Kelli Combs started a Twitter page for CSR Nation!

The tweets (there's only about 20) are pretty informative; for those of you new to tweeting and Twittering, go to the above link, scroll all the way down to the end, and read backwards.

Update (25JAN10)

CSR Nation: What Happened ...?!

If you've been having trouble logging on to the CSR Nation site this past weekend, you're not alone.

After a while, though, the site came back up ... sort of. All the CSR Nation content was gone, and it was replaced by something called "Customer Services Representatives Nationwide:"

What the ...?!

What the ....?!

I sent James an e-mail a few hours ago (no, not to the address listed in the picture -- though that's next -- but the one that was on the page earlier today) and I have yet to hear anything back.

Thanks to my CSR Nation Friend Quyen Do, I was able to send an e-mail to Kelli Combs, the Head Cook and Bottle Washer over at the original CSR Nation. Amazingly, she got back to me pretty quickly. Here's what she wrote:

Someone hacked my Godaddy account and stole my domain name CSRnation.com, CSRnation.us. CSRnation.net and others.

They then went to the website and deleted the entire website. It is gone. I am trying to get it back but it will take some time.

Some guy named James Diaz is claiming he owns it and has owned it from 2007. Funny, why is the charge on my American Express account? I am sooooo stressed out over this. I have been working to get it back all weekend.

I will send out an email blast when I get the site back online. Please tell as many people as you can as I don't have everyone's email address to contact everyone.

Kelli Combs

I advised Kelli to find herself a good lawyer that is familiar with this sort of thing, and sue him until he pukes!!

Oh, and interested folk might want to take a look at this link:

http://www.networksolutions.com/whois-search/csrnation.com

What that is is the domain name registration info for CSR Nation.

I'd like to point out a couple of interesting features on this page!

If you scroll all the way down to the bottom, you will see a box, in which there is a button that says "Make Offer," above which it says "Make an instant, anonymous offer to the current domain registrant."

I don't know about you, but it looks like SOMEBODY is in this for the money!

Oh, and in addition to an e-mail address, Mr. Diaz was kind enough to leave ... wait for it ... a PHONE NUMBER!!

Far be it from me to tell anybody reading ol' Cheap and Sleazy to give ol' Jimmy Boy a call ... but I wouldn't be disappointed in you if you did!

Come to think of it, ol' Jimmy Boy might appreciate reading your thoughts in his In box too!

... but you didn't hear it from me.

CSR Nation Update (26JAN10)

I got an e-mail from Kelli a moment ago. She wants you all to -- well, I'll let her explain it:

Can you do me a favor and put on your website if people want to help csrnation to have people email godaddy at undo@godaddy.com and ask them to retrieve my domain name CSRnation.com from James Dias who stole it and it resides on Moniker.com.

Godaddy is giving me the runaround and there are strength in numbers. That may get their attention.

I need help. Thanks, Glen.

You might also CC this address:

transferdisputes@godaddy.com

Also, if you have attempted to visit csrnation.com in the last few hours, you might have found yourself at ... aol.com?!

Chances are good that Jimmy Boy is unhappy with all this extra attention he's getting after doing his dastardly deed ... but don't let that stop you from sending those e-mails and making those phone calls! :o)

CSRNation Update (27JAN10)

Got an e-mail from Laurie Anderson, the Disputes manager over at GoDaddy.com:

Dear Mr. Warner,

It would be incredibly helpful if you would remove the post on your blog that instructs members to email us regarding this issue as it is getting in the way of actually resolving the issue.

Kindest regards,

Laurie Anderson

Disputes Manager

Domain Services

Alas, I never take anything off of ol' Cheap and Sleazy ... BUT I will add this update:

GODADDY HAS GOT THE MESSAGE AND IS ON THE JOB!

So stop sending e-mails to the transferdisputes@godaddy.com and the undo@godaddy.com addresses.

Thanks!

Update (02JAN10)

What --?! Another Year Gone, Already ...?

Yes, that's right ... another year gone! Had I managed to write those updates in a more timely fashion, I'm sure somewhere in there I would've said, "Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Ramadan," and any other holidays of which I am blissfully unaware, and (of course) "Happy New Year!!"

Oh, and in case you missed it, here's a link to a rather ... interesting video:

Some say Christmas is Beginning to Start a LOT Earlier Each Year!

Some say Christmas is Beginning to Start a LOT Earlier Each Year!

Since it's that time of year where you're supposed to make those nifty new years resolutions, I'll make one right here, right now, for all to see ...!

I resolve to go back to CR school ... starting this coming Monday!

Yes, that's right ... I'm going back to CR school, this time at Green River Community College.

Yeah, that's not much of a resolution ... but then again, I *never* make New Years resolutions, so this is big! :o)

No, really!

I'll be starting at 60 wpm, which is half what my speed was when I left CRI back in the day ... and hopefully, it won't take the full quarter to get to the next speed!

That said, I have been a bit remiss in updating ol' Cheap and Sleazy ... so this may be a bit on the lengthy side ...!

But first ....

Would You Buy a Diamante ... for $20?

Of course you would ...! Go here for the details! Winning this raffle will (temporarily, of course) satisfy your Technolust ... and you can also replace that noisy, ancient writer soon-to-be-known as "your old Precious!"

Me Wants it, Me Needs it, My ... NEW Precious!

Technolust. It Affects Everybody, Eventually ...!

The drawing is February 21, 2010.

I know a certain young CR student and seamstress in Florida that is, as the saying goes, "In it to win it!"

Good luck, Ritz!

Shadowing a CART Provider

In other (personal) steno news, I recently shadowed Lisa Hutchinson, one of our local CART providers, on a presentation for the local deaf and HOH community on Holiday Depression.

Lisa gave me the names of some of the people that would be speaking, and I added them to (yes, that's right) an actual JOB dictionary -- which I named "Blues."

Since I'm not as fast as I used to be, I only got bits and pieces ... but it was interesting!

Lisa was kind enough to send her rough of the proceedings, and here's the first few lines for your reading pleasure:

STEVE: Good morning, everybody. I would like to, how do I say this, welcome to being here Lisa and Glen. We have a student here and he looks like he's practicing and --

AUDIENCE: Wow.

STEVE: So that's great.

You're welcome and thank you for coming.

Among other things, I learned that I have to work a bit more on those new Phoenix Theory one-stroke contractions! They're pretty similar to some of the two-stroke contractions I learned originally, so I will have to feed them to the Drill Machine and get them into my muscle memory.

Oh, and I have to be much faster!

Project Camelot/Divine Cosmos Transcription Team

A few weeks ago, I answered a call to transcribe a one-hour audio interview with economist Benjamin Fulford over on the Project Camelot site:

Note: We would appreciate a written transcription of this audio from any of our transcription team as soon as possible due to the difficult audio quality.

I downloaded the audio file, whipped out my trusty ProCAT Flash, and got to work ... and you can read it here.

Since that emergency transcript, I found myself drafted onto the Project Camelot- Divine CosmosTranscription Team.

True, there's no pay ... but more time on my writer means (hopefully) less time in school! :o)

Don't believe me, huh? Well, howzabout if you heard it from someone who finished school in a year and a half? Go here:

http://stenoknight.com/StenoSchool.html

While I am just barely a wee bit faster than the cat next door (I'm not sure, but I think that cat has a Mira!), and have my dictionary open and am constantly searching for shorter ways to write stuff (today I found /TKWEP for "develop!"), I am learning (well ... re-learning) a lot of stuff!

Anyway, the Project Camelot-Divine Cosmos team could use more assistance. If you're interested, send an e-mail to Seth, at mozartarzan (at) gmail (dot) com, or Fran, at ffwindyart (at) aol (dot) com.

Tell them I sent you!

Fair warning: It does get a bit technical at times; thus far, I've run into words like HAARP, EISCAT, stargate, wormholes, hyperdimensional physics, torsion physics (same thing, in case you're wondering), time lines, etc. ... so these could be considered as Lits, in colloquy (or Q&A; your choice) format.

That Certain "Captain DUH Moment"

Yeah, I'll admit it ... I had one of those recently (well, okay, so I had one of those recently that I will admit to!).

As you might recall, I may have mentioned that I picked up a refurbished Dell:

Cheap and Sleazy Dell

The "Cheap and Sleazy Dell"

Like that price tag ...?

As you can (kinda-sorta) see, it's a Dell Lattitude, with a Pentium 3 running at a blistering 550 MHz, with 250 MB of RAM, and a 12 GB hard drive, with a CD-ROM. It's sole job is to run digitalCAT and my various bits of speed training software ... so no trips to the internet for Mr. Internet Explorer! :o)

Anyway, to continue my nifty narrative, I was trying to explain the process of how to connect a writer to a computer to a reporter returning to the field after a rather lengthy absence. At that time, I had owned the laptop for about five months.

At one point, she asked about the connectors on the back of her computer, and mentioned a pin-count of one of the connectors.

While trying to explain what was what, I took a look at the back of my laptop, which I had been connecting to my writer via a USB-Serial adapter.

The Rear of my (Cheap and Sleazy) Dell

The Rear of my (Cheap and Sleazy) Dell

So, you see that connector on the left of that image? That, ladies and germs, is a serial port --!

And I didn't even know it was there.

On the plus side, connecting to that serial port is a *lot* easier than connecting to that skinny little USB port. Do you see it? It's to the left of that blue connector.

You cannot imagine how difficult it was to put the adapter into that thing -- without physically turning the laptop so I could see properly! Nine times out of ten, I'd have it turned the wrong way, or it would be too high, or too low, or ... well, you get the idea.

Serial port? I get it right, every time!

The MacBook Pro "Dead-Keyboard-and-Trackpad" Blues, Part DUH

NOT What Mirabai Meant About a CART Uniform

Death Takes a Holiday ...?

For those of you who have been waiting with bated breath to find out what's what with my keyboard and trackpad, there is news ...!

A few days ago, I was playing chess with the fine folks on the FICS server using the Mac-only Fixation client, where sometime back, I discovered it was far easier for me to type my moves in than to click the piece and dra-a-a-a-aa-aaaaagggg it over to the appropriate square ... and on that afore-mentioned day, while in the midst of dragging one of my pieces to a square designed to deal my opponent's position a soul-crushing blow, my keyboard stopped registering my moves for a few seconds.

Since we were playing lightning, where each player starts out with JUST ONE SECOND on the clock, and gets an additional two seconds each move, as you might guess, I did not find this to be a Good Thing™.

Eventually, I managed to lose about five games thanks to my keyboard freezing at inopportune times. At that point, I decided it might not be such a bad idea to pack up my MacBook Pro, hop into my car and drive down to the Apple Store.

Unfortunately, by the time I actually reached the Apple Store (parking at the University Village on a Saturday is not an easy task!), they were going to close in 15 minutes, so I made an appointment for the next day.

I then headed back to the same bookstore I was in, with the intent to do some serious web serfing ... and that's when I discovered my keyboard and trackpad were completely dead.

No, not just "completely dead;" my keyboard was morally, ethically, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably and reliably dead!

Yeah, she was evil, but she did have a wicked pair of shoes!

"Yeah, She Was Evil, But She Did Have a Wicked Pair of Shoes!" (or "Brenda, is That You?!?")

Fortuntely, I was able to get around the deadness by plugging in an external keyboard, so my online TV watching habits were not too terribly disturbed!

When I got to the Apple Store the next day, I told the tech what had been happening, and how the keyboard was now morally, ethically, spiritually -- aww, you know the rest -- dead.

He tried a few things I'd already done ... you know, reboot, reset the PRAM, reset the SMC chip, booted off of a drive running Snow Leopard, etc., etc., to no avail ... then he took my Silicon Baby to the back room for a few minutes for a parts search.

He came back a few minutes later, and said I could send it off to Apple, for a flat rate of roughly $300 (say ... did I mention my warranty expired a couple years back?) ... then he asked me about the splotches on my screen, which came from using a laptop screen cleaner a bit too enthusiastically a few years back, resulting in some of the wet stuff getting caught on the wrong side of the screen(!).

He reminded me that Apple had a new policy, where if they can prove water/liquid damage, things get more expensive ... and my $300 repair might become a $1200 repair(!!!).

I told him I'd give it some thought, and got the frell out of Dodge, laptop in hand.

A Visit to my Mac Pusher

I already had a keyboard from my rarely-used iMac, but I needed another mouse (nobody liked that "hockey-puck" mouse that came with the original iMac) ... so I headed down to Re PC, and explained my DUH-lemma to my Mac Pusher, Chris Mitchell.

He told me that I could save a buncha money  save a hundred bucks by buying the parts from the folks at iFixit.com and installing it myself.

While I was still in no hurry to part with $300 $200, I dutifully visited the site ... and then did a search for "MacBook Pro dead keyboard and trackpad," which bought me to this page, which had THE solution to my problem!

MacBook Pro Dead Keyboard and Trackpad Solution

MacBook Pro Dead Keyboard and Trackpad: THE Solution

That big red orange arrow in the picture up there is pointing to a high-tech device which everyone has lying around the house, somewhere ... or at least, has a friendly neighbor that might be persuaded to let you have one ... yes, that's right: I'm talking about a Sticky Note ...!

As you might have read in the last discussion of this issue, I had heard of this solution ... but where, exactly, is that sticky note supposed to go? Jason Robb's picture has shed some light on my gloom ... and helped me save $300 bucks!

Thanks, Jason.

digitalCAT Leasing Info

I thought I had posted this already (like, three months ago!), but it looks like I've been remiss!

I ran into a woman on CSR Nation who had to stop reporting due to hearing loss after using digitalCAT for about four years.

For that four years, she paid the $79/month fee.

Some time after she stopped reporting, she needed access to digitalCAT to access one of her old transcripts to handle a copy order, and -- well, I'll just do some copying-and-pasting:

I still needed to have access to my transcripts for additional copy orders that came along or for appeal records and such. When I contacted Stenovations with my dilemma of no longer working as a reporter but still needing access, they were insistent on continuing to charge me $79 a month to have this "access"...even though I was no longer using it to create new transcripts.

If that wasn't enough, I questioned them as to whether or not I could own the software (have a permanent/lifetime software code) after paying $79 a month rent for four years. I mean, why couldn't we now own the software after that length of time? You can do the math. But after four years, it adds up to what other sofware programs cost, if not more, to purchase and own for a lifetime.

Okay, so let's do some math (whips out calculator) let's see ... four years, that's 48 months, times $79 ... that comes to $3,792.

If I recall correctly, it costs about $3400 in total for digitalCAT ... so I sent an e-mail off to Carmen Santone, Stenovations' Director of Sales, and he did some clarifying for me:

There is a bit of confusion on both the price and the payoff. The price of the software is 3,495 to purchase it. The monthly payments of 79 a month do begin immediately following the 90-day trial. However, we take the first 12 payments and apply it to the purchase price. So it is at that 13th month of payments where the user decides whether they are going to purchase the software outright or "roll into" our leasing plan wherein no future payments of 79 dollars a month goes toward the purchase price. If you choose to lease at 79 a month, there is no tech support or update contract necessary as that is included within the lease.

That said, if the client knows they want to purchase the software, they are not relegated to paying only 79 a month. They can pay 200 a month or whatever they choose. By so doing, they can have all or most of the software paid off in the first year at no interest.

So, here's what you're supposed to do when you are transitioning from student to reporter, and are using digitalCAT:

•   At graduation, let Stenovations know you are working, and they will upgrade digitalCAT's code so that you can use it for free, for six months

•   At the end of that six month period, your $79 monthly payments begin (um, you did remember to put that $79 a month into a bank account, right ...?). At the end of the six months, this will bring the cost of the software down to $2,547.

•   One year later, up those monthly payments to $200 -- and TELL STENOVATIONS that you intend to purchase the software.

Making these $200 monthly payments will get you that permanent code in a little over 12 months ... so, a little tweaking of the numbers, with monthly payments of $212.25, you will have your permanent code in twelve months.

As you might guess, that is going into The Good Stuff ASAP!

Update (09NOV09)

Belated "Good Skill" Wishes

Forgot to take the time to wish all of you out there who took that big test this past weekend "Good Skill" (though some good luck couldn't hurt)!

Since I'm a few days late, here's hoping you did better than you think you did!

(Oh, and pay no attention to that picture below, here ....)

The MacBook Pro "Dead-Keyboard-and-Trackpad" Blues

NOT What Mirabai Meant About a CART Uniform

NOT What Mirabai Meant When She Described a CART Uniform

Of late, I have been dealing with a strange malady, where, for no apparent reason as far as I can see, my MacBook Pro's keyboard and trackpad will spontaneously stop responding.

After losing a lot of work due to one or two reboots (not to mention losing numerous won chess games on FICS, the Free Internet Chess Server), I finally learned how to bring the keyboard back to life: Place a book on the keyboard, and slide it back and forth while repeatedly pressing the trackpad button.

As you might guess, this is not an ideal solution ... so I expressed my dismay about my dilemma on what I thought was an Apple support forum. Turns out it wasn't, exactly ... but after one guy chewed me out for posting in someone else's thread that had a similar problem, someone else pointed me to an article that talks about the exact problem I've been experiencing, AND even has a simple (and cheap! Don't forget cheap!) solution.

In the "Mildly Interesting" department, I had seen this page a few years back ... but at the time, my system wasn't having this problem, so I had forgotten about it!

If I ever get around to updating and finishing "Sex and Power III" (you know ... the one where I tell you about running CAT software on your Mac), I will definitely include a link to this article. I don't think it affects the new MacBook Pro line ... but since I'm big on offering cheap (and sleazy) solutions to my readers (like, say, posting a link to where you can buy a refurbished MacBook Pro for about half the price of a new one), knowing how to fix this problem will help you in the long run ... not to mention saving you from pulling out any hairs or shedding unnecessary tears!

Now, then ... if I could just get this Superdrive problem fixed .....

Coming Up Real Soon Now ....

... is an article I am working on for my fellow Phoenix Theory users on how to configure digitalCAT to work with the instructions in Carol Jochim's "Advanced Realtime Applications: Expanding Vocabulary" article, where she talks about how to use "increments of spelling" and the "Phonetic Table" so that you can stroke words that aren't in your dictionary ... like, say, Tajikistan (TA/SKWREU/STKEU /STAPB), or Diamante (TKEU/ARBGS/PHAPB /TEPG).

If some of the items in that steno make no sense to you, then I'm pretty sure you will enjoy reading that forthcoming article!

Watch for "Phonetic Tables and the digitalCAT Logic Editor" in the not-too-distant.

Update (24FEB13)

Alas, the above-mentioned Phonetics article is dead.

While I was writing it all those years ago, I noticed that most of the phonetics I was finding in Carol Jochim's "Advanced Realtime Applications: Expanding Vocabulary" article were already in my theory dictionary ... so there was no need for me to create a logic file for digitalCAT.

Sorry about that!

"Here There Be Older Stuff"

While digging around in an old laptop bag I had in my ex-girlfriend's garage, I found one of the CDs I used to hand out to my classmates at CRI that expressed interest in using CAT software. That CD included an old version of digitalCAT, a few updaters, the Speed Teacher, the Drill Machine, and a copy of what was to become this website.

Heck, there's even an entry there that announces that I had purchased the "Cheap and Sleazy.net" domain name!

It looked a bit like this:

Auuuggghh! My Eyes!  My Eyes! Make it Stop!

"Auuuggghh! My Eyes! My Eyes! Make it Stop!"

Like that color? :o)

For a while, I used to have a little hack I stole borrowed from Google that included thumbnails of the first page of each article, arranged in a little table, with some fancy-schmancy JavaScript that would make the thumbnail jump up and down when you moused over it -- kinda like the Dock on Mac OS X:

MacOS Application Switching II: The Dock

"MacOS X's Dock"

It looked great on my Mac, but looked like crap on my ex-girlfriend's PC, so it had to go!

Anyway, the page goes from 20FEB05 to 03AUG05 (there's some overlap with Archive Numba 1.0) ... and you can see it (minus the ghastly color) in this .pdf.

If I find one of the older versions with that Google hack on it, I'll upload a .pdf of that, too ... but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that to happen!

Update (01NOV09)

"Crock-tober" Madness: Ye Olde Cheap and Sleazy Chili

Yes, that's right ... I forgot to finish my Cheap and Sleazy Chili article last month, in time for "Crock-tober!"

For those of you that don't know, "Crock-tober" is when you dust off your crockpot --

The Rival Crockpot

Your New Best Friend: The Rival Crockpot

-- and make something warm and filling.

Fortunately, it's still cold outside (at least, it is up here in the Pacific North Wet!), so the weather is perfect for a nice mug of my Cheap and Sleazy Chili!

Coffee mug?  No ... Chili Mug!

Coffee mug? No ... Chili Mug!

If I, a guy whose cooking skills consists mostly of microwave buritos, microwave TV dinners and microwave popcorn can make this, then so can you!

Even better, it will cost you about $10.00 to make it ... and it will serve four.

I think you'll like it!

Don't forget to make some rice ahead of time ....

As for what's next, recipe-wise, I am going to do some research on barbecue chicken wings! This may take a while .....

"Her Name Was Leia ... She was a Princess ...."

Carrie Fisher, known the world over as Princess Leia from the original Star Wars movies, has a new book out, entitled "Wishful Drinking," and this is a portion of the cover (less the caption, of course):

Cover of Carrie Fisher's book, "Wishful Drinking"

A Bad Night at the Cantina

When I saw that cover, I just knew I had to do something with it here on ol' Cheap and Sleazy ... so if you haven't already (and if your browser can play .mp3s, or if you have WinAmp or iTunes/QuickTime installed), click the picture!

May the Geek  Force be with you!

"Ghost-to-Ghost AM"

Ian Punnet was running the show during last night's "Ghost-to-Ghost AM" episode of Coast to Coast AM. It was his first time, and he was understanably nervous ... so nervous that he asked George Noory for some advice during the previous night's show, on the air!

George told him to call Art Bell.

I would have told him that he should have been taking submissions and phone numbers ever since he found out he was going to be doing the show ... then he could read them, and select the best stories, and call the person that submitted the story so they could tell it on the air. That's what Art Bell did a few times, after his fax machine blew up from accepting faxed ghost stories (among other things) a few years back.

Instead, Ian opted to take any and all calls ... and the results were ... well, not as bad as I feared, actually ... except for the part where the show went off the air.

Of the three stations I have programmed into my radio that carry the show, two of them put on a standby tape from last week, and the other (yes, KVI, I'm talking about YOU) just ran about an hour of static.

Way to go, KVI. Sorry to have expected you to interrupt your nightly snooze by expecting you to DO YOUR JOB and monitor the feed!

Maybe that sleeper should try a Cheap and Sleazy Mocha next time ....!

Update (22OCT09)

"Different Dictation" Update: Complete!

Finally got the update to Different Dictation done!

New Choir Member?

"Father, There's Something a bit ... odd About That New Choir Member of Yours ...."

Most of the updates are links and descriptions ... and my personal favorite is the "What Does George Lucas Know, and When Did He Know It?" section -- which includes a picture similar to this one:

Aggressive Negotiations II:  Obi Wan Gets Ready to do Battle -- er, Negotiate

Aggressive Negotiations II: Obi Wan Gets Ready to do Battle -- er, Negotiate

What does Obi Wan Kenobi have to do with "Different Dictation," you ask?

According to an interview I heard on "Eye to the Sky," it seems a team of archeologists and linguists have found some ancient texts in Cambodia ... and those texts describe strangers who came "From Above," and they carried these things in their hands that emitted a blue ray, and they used it to cut whatever needed cutting.

Sounds like a light saber to me!

I've also updated the bit I had in there on the Ark of the Covenant, including a link to the transcript I made of a discussion about John Hutchinson's attempt to replicate it and the ... interesting results he obtained ... and I have included a link to the audio!

Replica of the Ark of the Covenant

Replica of the Ark of the Covenant

I've even included a link to a show that will give you three months access to their archives, in exchange for you (yes, YOU) transcribing one of their shows!

There's other stuff in there, of course ... but I'll let you find those things for yourself (don't want to ruin the surprise!).

Oh, and just so you know, that ghostly choir member up there does not appear in the article! Something else is in there, thanks to Joshua P Warren, from whom I "borowed" both images -- the creepy choir member above, and ... the surprise in the article!

Oh, drats ... I forgot to mention Raymon Grace in that update!

Guess I'll add him in next year.

In the meantime, click that link, and *listen* to what that man says about how he uses a chain, a bullet, and a big dose of intent to, among other things, find missing items, clear polluted water, and even stop a serial killer from killing again!

He also tells about one of his students, who uses his dowsing skills and intent to energize a cup of water, filling it with all the nutrients he will need for the day.

This man hasn't eaten since 1998, if I recall correctly.

(Note to self: Learn to dowse!)

Then there's that pair of students who moved to a rather rough section of town, who decided they wanted to decrease the crime rate. They did their thing ... and the murder rate shot UP!

It took them a while to understand what happened, but basically, the ciminials were killing each other off ... and once that happened, the crime rate for Raymon's student's new home town was the lowest it had been in years!

Too bad I didn't get to put that in ... but in the meantime, enjoy!

Say ... it's "Hasta la Vista Thursday!"

Yes, that's right ... it's time for Windows 7 to make it's debut -- or, as many frustrated Windows Vista users will probably call this day, "Hasta la Vista Thursday!"

I haven't done any serious research on this as yet, but I've heard one tech at Stenovations say there are no problems with Windows 7, but another tech says there are problems with Windows 7 and the LightSpeed's GUI -- which, as I'm sure you all know by now, stands for "Graphical User Interface" ... which is easily remembered by the phrase, "If it's GUI enough for you, it's GUI enough for me" -- and you can blame Guy Kawasaki, the original Mac Evangelist and author of the book, "The Macintosh Way" for that quote.

If you're thinking of upgrading, I will offer you the same advice displayed prominently in the Tech Commandments:

Tech Commandments

See Tech Commadment Numba Three up there?

Feast your squinties -- er, take a look at Tech Commandment Numba Three:

"Thou Shalt Not Adopt Early, or Install Version 1.0."

Of course, if you are forced to upgrade --

The Tax Man Cometh, and the Tax Man Taketh Away

-- ensure that all of your peripherals have upgraded drivers ... because otherwise, you're pretty much stuck with no realtime ... and if you're a working reporter, captioner or CART provider, that means no income!

This is a Bad Thing.™

I've heard that Microsoft was giving away free copies of Windows 7 to people who said they would demonstrate it to a gathering of 7 or more people ... but the guy I heard this from was having trouble installing it on his Mac!

I'm thinking this will be a rather short party.

Apple Celebrates "Hasta la Vista Thursday"

Of course, you just HAD to know that Apple was going to have some fun at Microsoft's expense with the Windows 7 launch:

Apple Has Fun With the Windows 7 Launch

Apple Has Fun With the Windows 7 Launch

In this new ad, PC, played by Johnathan Hodge, is a news anchor, presenting a remote from the Windows 7 launch, where the on-scene reporter interviews one of the people in the crowd ... who, in response to the question, "How excited are you?" answers, "Really excited. We're finally switching to a Mac."

Naturally, PC is a bit upset at this ... and therein lies the humor!

If that's not enough, Apple aired this one recently:

Apple Has More Fun With the Windows 7 Launch

Apple Has More Fun With the Windows 7 Launch

In this one, PC tells Mac (played by Justin Long) that Windows 7 is out, and "it's not going to have any of the problems that my last operating system had! Trust me!" Mac says, "I feel like I've heard this before, PC."

Then there's a series of flashbacks, wherein PC assures Mac that each new version of Windows "isn't going to have any of the problems the last version had." ... and it goes all the way back to Windows 2.0 (I saw that version once; ghastly!).

Click the pictures to see the ads.

Trust me!

Not to be outdone, Microsoft had a little fun as well, poking some self-deprecating fun at their own App Store:

Microsoft App Store

Update (17OCT09)

"Oops (There it is!)" Pt. Two

In correcting a blunder I made some time back (and detailed in the last update, below), I re-read Louise's CART article again, and I realized it needed ... more.

I dashed off an e-mail to Mirabai Knight, who first came to my attention thanks to a link on the now-dormant Fancy Pants Loves Binita blog ... and, a mere 24 hours later, I had a new article that provides a walk through a day in the life of Mirabai Knight.

She even takes you to lunch! Can't beat that ...! (It's a "BYOF"-type of thing, though ....)

You can read about that Day in the Life here:

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

Different Dictation Blunder

As I mentioned sometime back, I was planning on getting Different Dictation updated before the month was out ...!

The good news is I did get some of the update done, and tried really hard not to screw up and upload it before it was completely done!

Note that I said "try."

I accidentally uploaded the updated version a couple days ago ... BUT, since I was in the middle of adding stuff while the upload was in progress, I didn't save ... so the only difference in the article is a few word fixes, mildly updated links, and that initial picture.

Actually, this picture:

The Gentlemen (From Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

"Sorry guys; we left our hearts in San Francisco!"

Alas, since I screwed up and uploaded that one too early, I can't use that picture in the article!

Look for something different (and *not* from a TV show; the one above is from the Hush episode of Buffy ... but you knew that if you clicked the lnk in the caption) when the update to the article is actually finished!

Look for it on or about the 20th.

Yes, of October ...! Sheesh ....

Update (10OCT09)

"Oops (There it Is)!"

I got an e-mail from Chuck "Tutto Bag" Motter the other day.

Chuck was kind enough to point out that the picture I had labled as being of the author of Got Cart? ... well, actually wasn't the author of the article!

NOT Louise Becker

NOT Louise Becker

After a frantic search of my hard drive for the original, uncropped version of the picture, I had to admit defeat and sent Louise an e-mail, explaining the situation (in her defense, she went on vacation after she wrote the article). She sent me the picture again -- this time, with an explanation of who's who!

Post_NCRA 2008 Speed Contest

Post_NCRA 2008 Speed Contest

Clockwise from left: "'Dee Boenau, me (Louise Becker), Darlene Pickard, Barb Griffith, Jennifer Schuck."

Louise also had a message for Chuck (and anyone else who noticed the error): Who sent that email? Tell him/her we were just checking to see if they were paying attention.

Works for me! :o)

Thanks, Chuck.

You, too, Louise!

Little Words Machine

Reporter Priscilla Trillo posted a message on the NCRA Forum, telling how she beat a problem she was having with little words: She wrote a program that drills her on little words.

Little Words Machine splash window

Little Words Machine Startup Screen

Naturally, I asked her if I could put her program on ol' Cheap and Sleazy, and she said I could!

Note that Little Words Machine has been here for quite a while now (see the 05JUL08 update), and frankly, I had forgotten about it -- until I saw a post from Priscilla on Depoman recently ... then I did a search of my In boxes for "Priscilla," and what do ya know, I found that not only did she write this little program, but apparently I wrote the manual that accompanies it -- and I ... well, forgot it was here!

Sorry about that.

So, I'm fixing that by changing that manual into an article for ol' Cheap and Sleazy so it can be more easily found. You can read the article here:

Little Words Machine

.... and you can download it here:

little_word_machine.zip

For my adventurous Mac-using friends wishing to run the Little Words Machine under Darwine Wine, you will need to install the VB6 Runtime through WineTricks.

Coming Up, Real Soon Now ....

If you've been reading ol' Cheap and Sleazy for a while, you might know that I am a big fan of Cynthia Berry's book, "Practice With a Purpose."

For a few years now, I have been trying to convince Ms. Berry to sell off those remainig copies of her book, via an announcement here on ol' Cheap and Sleazy.

Alas, she wasn't quite able to do that (no PayPal account), so she instead told me to have anyone that wants a copy to send her an e-mail, and she would make arrangements from there.

While digging through my In box for ... well, whatever it was I was looking for, I found an old e-mail from Cynthia, and I sent another inquiry about her book. She answered, and ... well, let me do some more copying and pasting:

Yes, hubby has gotten paypal! Yes, we can sell my book that way. But.....I need to get a reprint started as I've sold most of the books!

Coming up (real soon now), I will have a link where you can go to to order a copy of Ms. Berry's book!

Watch for it!

Update (05OCT09)

Digital Flashcards Redux

As you probably know, Keith Rowan was nice enough to write up his method for learning steno outlines using digital flashcards (see the 19AUG09 update on this page).

I recently came up with a brilliant idea: Howzabout adding some screenshots so I can make it a full article?

Keth's Flashcards

Keith's Flashcards

Keith agreed, and you can read it (and see the pictures!) here:

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

Frelling FINALLY!!

Recently, my ex-girlfriend's daughter decided she needed to format her Mac's hard drive and start all over due to some strange problems that neither she nor I could resolve ... so she asked for some blank DVDs to back everything up.

We bought the DVDs, and when she tried to put one in, her computer immediately ejected it ...!

She tried another, then another, both with the same result.

My Mac also does the same thing ... with the added twist of automatically erasing any CD-RW music disk I put into the drive (not going to try it with one of my DVD-RW-based backups, thankyouverymuch!).

This is why I am not using my Mac's installation of VMWare Fusion running Windows XP for my steno efforts: I was running low on disk space, and had to dump the Windows installation.

My ex-girlfriend's daughter rarely uses her drive for anything beyond burning an occasional CD with iTunes or watching a DVD, so that's probably why she never noticed her Mac had the problem until a couple days ago.

When I found that my Mac did have this problem, I did some Googling, and found out that I was not alone in my misery ....!

Seems that Apple came out with a system update which included a firmware update for the Superdrive -- the name of the DVD-RW/CD-RW drive most Macs ship with -- which caused this problem for many users!

While Apple was nice enough to pull the update (2006), they have not admitted any fault ... and the only "fix" is a new ($300!!) Superdrive.

In frustration, I talked to my "Mac Pusher," Chris Mitchell, down at the Seattle Re PC store. He recommended downloading a Windows version of the firmware updater, and running that. Unfortunately, my Windows install is gone, and Mike Kronenberg, the HMFIC (yes, that's STILL "Head Man Frelling In Charge) of the Darwine/Mac OSX Wine builds I mention heavily in my Darwine/WineBottler "how-to" article says that running such a utility under Wine/Darwine is not a good idea, so I tried a few other things instead, with no joy.

Recently on the MacWeb, there was news that Apple Customer Relations had contacted a third party devleoper and asked him about this problem. Hopefully this means that Apple will come out with an update that will fix the problem ... and thousands of Mac users can get back to performing proper backups!

Wonder if I still have that letter I got back in the 90s from Apple Customer Relations ...? If I find it, I'll be calling Apple Customer Relations and getting the skinny -- or at least, as much as Apple Legal will let them tell me!

Update (27SEP09)

Viva la Revolution!

After some gentle prodding by Mirabai Knight over on the Depoman forum recently, I finally managed to finish the Gemini Revolution Grand article!

Gemini Revolution Grand

The Gemini Revolution Grand

This article is actually three in one ... that is, it contains three different views of the Revolution Grand by three different authors, of varying degrees of experience: Victoria Kubat (25 years), Rhoda Collins (5 years), and Mirabai Knight (about 26 months).

At the risk of ruining the surpise, all three women love their writers!

You can read the article here.

TV Steno

While spelunking through the early episodes of the TV show, "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles," I found a scene with a court reporter:

TV Steno:  Terminator:  Sarah Connor Chronicles

TV Steno: Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles

I think this was from Season 2, Episode 1 ... but in the scene, the FBI agent next to the reporter is asking series regular Agent Ellis all sorts of uncomfortable questions.

If you could actually see him, Agent Ellis is probaby more familiar from his role on "Judging Amy" as Judge (Amy) Grey's assistant. In this scene, he is represented by that black blob in the foreground (his arm), while the "court reporter" uses her writer (looks like a 400 SRT) like it was a typewriter.

"What About an NCRA-Hollywood Relations Office ....?"

Have you ever noticed how there are a lot of Macintosh computers on TV? Ever wonder how they got there?

They got there thanks to Apple's Hollywood Relations Office. The function of that office is simply to have Apple products placed in movies and TV shows. Seinfeld fans might have noticed that Jerry always had a Mac in his apartment ... Buffy fans might have noticed that Willow always had a Macintosh laptop ... and 24 fans might have noticed that all the bad guys use PCs, while all the good guys use Macs (well ... except for maybe that one bad guy ....).

Anyway, the purpose of these product placements is merely to make the audience aware of the Macintosh as a brand ... and, while subtle, it seems to have had some effect!

Hmmm ... I wonder if it would be possible for the NCRA to set up a sort of virtual office that Hollywood producers and casting directors could call when they need a court reporter for a scene. They would call the NCRA, the NCRA would call a local school, and a student would be dispatched with his/her writer, and (hopefully) they will be able to actually write what is being said, and look like it!

Think of it: No more paper falling all over the floor, no more actresses writing on their steno machines like they're playing ragtime piano, no more ancient manual writers ... and no more stenographers just staring at the keyboard all the time!

Of course, if the actor or actress ("actroid?") simply must be in the scene, the court reporting student can act as a technical advisor or consultant, giving the actroid some quick training and demonstrating how the writer works ... and if they can set up a wireless connection from their writer to their laptop, so much the better!

This would be a win-win: The NCRA would have someone in place that knows what they're doing, stenography will be shown as a "high tech" field, and the audience might pick up on that, which would hopefully translate into more students entering the field ... and the student would get paid for being an extra or technical advisor!

See? Win-win!

Think I'd better start a thread on the NCRA Forum!

Different Dictation Update

Girl Ghost

"No, my feet aren't cold. Why does everyone keep asking me that?!"

In an effort to update Different Dictation, I am currently in the process of transcribing a two-part interview with a fast talking, French-speaking astrologer.

I gotta say, that first part went pretty slowly ... but the second part is going much better: One day, and it's half finished (had to charge the battery in my ProCAT Flash).

Watch for an upcomig update to "Different Dictation" -- hopefully BEFORE Hallowe'en!

Update (24SEP09)

Jill Sez ....

I'm sure you all remember Jill Driscoll.

Captioner Work Shoes

Bunny Slipper Nirvana

For those of you that don't recognize those legs -- er, shoes up there, Jill Driscoll is the author of the popular Jill Driscoll, Captioner article here on ol' Cheap and Sleazy ... and she needs your help.

She needs you to -- well, let me let her explain it:

The 21st Century Communication and Video Accessibility Act did NOT pass in Congress in 2008. The bill is back and we need your support in signing the petition and helping to spread the word. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) reintroduced legislation on June 26, 2009 for individuals with disabilities to have access for the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009 (H.R. 3101). This bill is referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. We support the legislative and regulatory proposals of the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) to ensure full access by people with disabilities to evolving high speed broadband, wireless, and Internet communication and electronic technologies. We support COAT's efforts to enact the Twenty-first Century Telecommunications and Video Accessibility Act and other laws and policies that will ensure our equality to telecommunications, the Internet, and television programming!

Please go to http://www.coataccess.org/node/add/petition and show your support.

You can also visit http://www.coataccess.org/node/4011 to find out more on this bill and to contact your local representatives and senators.

"Okay ... so What's In It For Me?"

Ah, yes ... the eternal question!

Basically, if -- no, when -- this bill passes, there will be more jobs for captioners and CART providers ... which means more jobs for you students once you finish your CART or captioning training!

I've signed ... what about you?

Update (20SEP09)

LightSpeed 2

As I may have mentioned somewhere or other, the LightSpeed 2 is coming ... and Greta Ducket has a prototype!

Hers was a bit ... well, sideways ... so I fixed that. Here's a low-res version:

LightSpeed 2 Pre-Production Model With Keyboard Cover

LightSpeed 2 Pre-Production Model With Keyboard Cover

Please note -- this is NOT the StarLight! This is the LightSpeed 2.

If you want to see a high-rez version of the picture, it's here:

http://www.cheapandsleazy.net/images/lightspeed2.jpg

Also, Greta says that if you buy this now, you can return it later and get FULL PRICE for tradein on the new StarLight!

Something to think about .....

Also, I hear there's a bit of a delay for people ordering the LightSpeed ... but Johnny Jackson explained what was going on in an e-mail to me, which you can read about in the 04AUG09 update in the Archives.

"I Tweet, Therefore I .... " Hmmm.

Twitteriffic Icon

Twitteriffic Icon

Yes, that's right ... I have yielded to the pressures of social networking (and yes, I even have a Facebook page) and signed up for a Twitter account.

What that means for you is that anytime I update ol' Cheap and Sleazy, I'll send out an announcement -- er, a tweet -- through my Twitter application, Twitterific, and you'll be notified shortly thereafter.

Unlike a few other folks out there, I WILL NOT be tweeting every time I eat dinner, change the channel on the ol' boob tube, or take a ... bath ... so you don't have to worry about being spammed with TFMI (that's "Too Frelling Much Information," in case you were wondering).

I also won't yield to Twitter conventions and refer to those of you following me as "my Tweeps," or anything like that.

If you'd like to follow me, as they say in Twitter parlance, go here:

http://www.twitter.com/gdwarner

... and click the link on the page to sign up for a Twitter account, then click that link above one more time, and click the "Follow" link.

If you'd rather not, no problem ... you can still follow me without following me, as it were, simply by visiting the above-mentioned link periodically.

Alas, you won't know when I update ol' Cheap and Sleazy until you check that page ... but if you are following me, I update, you know -- instantly!

Well, you won't know "instantly" if you're sleeping or don't check your Twitter app, but you know what I mean.

CSR Membership Drive: Success!

As you might recall (or might learn, simply by scrolling down a bit!), I asked for some assistance in helping Mary Ann Payonk's efforts in pushing the membership of CSR Nation over the 5,000 mark.

I am pleased to announce that CSR Nation's membership has surpassed 5,000 members!

Of course, I can't say whether or not my readers were responsible for that, but if you did join from reading that request, thank you very much.

Alas, Monti checked into the site while he was on vacation(!!) and found the thread that suggested trying to boost the numbers up over 5k, so the three week surprise thing is now gone ... but he was still happy to find that thread ... AND that the membership moved up over 5,000!

Good deal.

And, speaking of CSR Nation ....

A Forthcoming Update to The Good Stuff

For the past week or so, I've been corresponding with a young lady I met through CSR Nation. She bought herself a Stentura Protege, which she wanted to use with digitalCAT.

Stenograph was nice enough to include the USB realtime cable when they sent the writer, which, of course, won't work with any CAT software except Case Catalyst (and, thanks to some clever reverse-engineering, Eclipse).

She asked for my assistance, and I told her what she needed: a USB-Serial adapter, and some realtime (serial) cables (~$40).

She called around, got too much techno-speak from a couple of vendors, and finally got a helpful tech support person at Stenograph who sold her a USB-Serial adapter, and their elan Mira and Stentura Fusion Realtime Serial Cables:

Stenograph's Serial  Realtime cables

Stenograph's Serial Realtime Cables

She got the stuff quickly, and figured out what went where ... but could not get digitalCAT to see the writer!

I took a look at the page where I nicked the above image, and I knew exactly what the problem was. Do you see that USB Serial Adapter on the right, under "Related Products?" That looks just like my Keyspan adapter (take a look at The Good Stuff when you get a chance, and search for the phrase, "If, after" ... which is where the warning is that needs to be updated).

So I called Stenovations' tech support, and told them what was going on: Stentura Protege, Keyspan adapter, blah, blah, blah, and asked which USB-Serial adapters they recommended. The tech (whose name I forgot; sorry about that, Tech Support Dude!) told me they only recommended three: Dynex (available at your local Best Buy), IO Gear, and Deluo.

I dutifully noted the brands he mentioned and thanked him, and asked if the Keyspan adapter worked at all with digitalCAT. He told me it did not. When I told him that I used a Keyspan adapter with my ProCAT Flash and my G4 PowerBook running VirtualPC, he said, "Wow, that's surprising!" I said, "Yeah, that's what the last guy I mentioned that to said!" I then asked him if it was that way for all the Stenograph writers, and he told me yes, that was the case.

So here's the forthcoming update to The Good Stuff:

Warning!

If you are using digitalCAT with ANY Stenograph writer, you CANNOT USE THE KEYSPAN ADAPTER! IT DOES NOT WORK!

There's more, but you can read that in The Good Stuff!

Sneaky Spammers ....

I got one of those e-mails today ... seems I may have neglected to report some of my taxable income to the IRS!

Yeah, right. The IRS does not have my CheapAndSleazy.net e-mail address.

Looking closer at the web address they wanted me to click on in the message revealed a .eu-based address.

Unreported income?!??  Yeah, right!

Unreported income?!?? Yeah, right!

.eu? Isn't that ... Europe?

While outsourcing may have gotten a bit out of hand, I don't think the IRS is outsourcing their collection efforts!

I'll have to update Got Fear? one of these days so people won't get taken by these fraudulent e-mails ... but I do talk about it a bit in Doing it eBay, so if you don't want to wait for that update (a good policy, to be sure!), you can read about spotting bogus e-mails there; just search for "Phisher" and you'll find it.

Update (15SEP09)

Trust Your Technolust

Yes, that's right ... I Finally updated my Technolust article!

Trust Your Technolust

Trust Your Technolust (thanks to Kyung, over on CSR Nation for the pic!)

Yes, I know ... it's been five years since I originally wrote it, and a lot has changed in that time!

Alas, in the middle of the update, I decided instead to just move all the updated stuff to a new article: Technolust II.

As for what's in it, I give a brief rundown of every new writer made since 2004: The LightSpeed, the Protege, the Cybra (Student Version), the Gemini Revolution Grand, the Stylus II, the Passport, the Diamante, and a brief look at the soon-to-be delivered StarLight.

I also "borrowed" the writer comparison table from the Gemini Revolution Grand catalog and updated it (less the Diamante entries ... but one day). It makes for interesting reading!

CSR Nation Membership Drive ...!

CSR Nation badge

Join Me ... on CSR Nation!

CSR Nation is very close to having 5000 members. Currently, its somewhere around 4800 or so.

During the next two weeks, Monti Majthoub , the man who (with Kelli Combs) started CSR Nation, is on vacation. Mary Ann Payonk, author of Push Back!, came up with the idea of a membership drive to suprise Monti when he gets back from his well deserved vacation!

If you're not already a member, sign up! If you are already a member, convince a few of your friends to sign up!

If you're worried that it will cut into your practice time, don't worry ... you can use your steno machine to write stuff on CSR Nation ... or any of the other forums, for that matter ... so if you post often, technically, you won't be missing out on any practice!

See? Win-win!

Coming Up Real Soon, Now ...

... will be updates to "The Good Stuff" (you can thank Windows 7 and the Netbooks for that ...), "Different Dictation," (which will mostly remain the same, but will have some new links to new shows, and a few interesting quotes from some of the shows I've heard); a review of the Gemini Revolution Grand, and (hopefully!!) that article on affirmations I've been feverishly working on (read: Researching; can't find my copy of "Be Careful What You Pray For," either!). I did hear a good quote on something called "Chaos Magic" yesterday that might be of use ... but we'll see.

Stay tuned!

"Diamante Diamond Life"

According to my cyber brother, A.K. Warner's Sade fan site, we can expect a new release from Sade in the not-too-distant.

Sade

Sade

Yeah, I know this has nothing to do with steno ... but I enjoy her music! in fact, I recently used a Sade playlist to put my youngest (18 months) niece to sleep!

True, I did add in some suggestive yawning and stretching (she echoed the yawning, at least) ... but who cares? She went to sleep!

Besides ... didn't you notice how I mentioned the Diamante up there? Diamond Life, Sade's first album ... Diamante = Diamond ... get it? Huh? Huh?

Boy, tough room .....

Update (27AUG09)

"Shim It Up, Baby! (Shim It Up, Baby) Twist and Shout! (Twist and Shout) .... "

Okay, okay, I know the fifties are over ... but I couldn't think of a good reggae tune for that heading (well, at least nothing anybody would recognize), so ....

Anyway, as promised in yesterday's incorrectly-dated update (no need to look; I fixed it!), the "Do It Yourself Shim" article is up.

Alas, I haven't done this myself; I'm in the midst of Friday disease ... you know, the one where -- well, let me paste in the appropriate quote:

"Y'all ain't never got two things that match. Either y'all got Kool-aid, no sugar. Peanut butter, no jelly. Ham, no burger. Daaamn!"

In my case, I have ... no superglue -- despite having bought about three tubes over the last couple of years, neither of which has been opened!

I also am facing a lack of decent donor cards! A quick look through my coat pockets turned up this one:

Non-Donor Card

Non-Donor Harry Potter Card

Can't chop that one up ... (did I mention that it's a 3-D card?)! Besides ... I'm fairly sure that were I to attempt to cut this card, I would hear a clap of thunder from behind me, and a squeaky voice would say, "You will NOT hurt Harry Potter!" ... and then I'd wake up in the middle of last week!

When Dobby Strikes --!

When Dobby Strikes --!

Update (26AUG09)

"Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Puffs Pop" (or "Got Shims?")

As you might know, "shimming" is a mechanical modification to your writer which makes the distance the keys need to travel a lot shorter than usual ... which, in theory, should make you write a bit faster.

Unfortunately, getting one's writer shimmed usually requires a trip to the local steno repair ninja ... and if your "local" steno repair ninja is in another state, the costs for getting this procedure done begins rising dramatically!

Fortunately, reporter Kathryn A. Thomas, "R frickin' MR" has a solution that you can do yourself, at home, in your spare time ...!!

You'll need a credit card, some super glue, and (??) a squirrel.

Watch for some detailed instructions (with pictures!) in the not-too-distant. In the meantime, I'm heading off to buy myself a squirrel!

Squirrel Massage

Squirrel Massage (thanks, Janice!)

(Okay ... so I was kidding about the squirrel.)

Total Immersion Update (Part Duh)

With an e-mail or two (or three, since I accidentally deleted the answer and had to ask for a re-send), I now have the skinny on Total Immersion.

As I mentioned, the original instructor was replaced.

Apparently, he was replaced because ... well, here's the quote:

"... because his teaching style wasn't meshing well with this batch of students. It just wasn't a good fit. They seem thrilled with what Assistant Director of Education Lynette Eggers is doing with them, so that's working out very well."

As for what happens when the program's year is completed, it is as I suspected: Assessment, tweaking, and moving ahead from there:

"... once it's concluded, the task force will assess the pilot, and we'll then decide how best to utilize what we've learned. That's as far as we've gotten in determining next steps."

Big Thanks! to B.J. Shorak, Deputy Executive Director, NCRF, and Karen Ruud, Director, Education & School Development for the NCRA for putting up with answering my questions.

Update (23AUG09)

"Is Everybody Shorter in Here, or is it Just Me?"

Yes, that's right ... the main page has gotten a bit shorter.

If you saw something last month that you wanted to take a look at again, try the newest archive page.

Oops ...!

As you might have noticed, I provided exact instructions on how to get that free week on the Magnum Steno club.

Alas, that password I have listed only lasts a week -- which means if you're reading this, that password is no more!

Mark sent me an e-mail telling me that ... so, if you tried following my instructions on logging in for that free week and nothing happened, that's why!

In the meantime, if you want that free week, you have to send Mark or his assistant an e-mail ... but Mark is most likely busy, what with his captioning, depositions, and making videos for his Magnum Steno Club and all ... so it's best to pester his assistant instead. Shoot him an e-mail at sammysteno (at) aol (dot) com.

Update (20AUG09)

Correcting an Error of Omission

As I may have mentioned a couple months back, Kathie Brodie, a Seattle court reporter (and firm owner), did a presentation at the Washington Court Reporters Association's educational seminar on internships ....

Kathie Brodie's 2009 WCRA Educational Seminar lecture

Kathie Brodie's 2009 WCRA Educational Seminar lecture

.... and I convinced her to write a couple articles for ol' Cheap and Sleazy: One on CR business practices, another on hypnosis (did I mention she is a certified hypnotherapist?), and another on internships.

I uploaded her first article yesterday, entitled "The Internship Process," then sent her an e-mail to let her know it was up.

Unfortunately, I neglected to update the links on that left side index, nor the What's Here page! Worse, I neglected to tell anybody it was here ...!

Sorry about that, Kathie.

In the meantime, feel free to peruse Kathie's article -- especially you high speed students who are in the midst of an internship!

Also, I have to send out a big THANK YOU to Green River Community College CR student and the WCRA's cracker-jack Administrative Assistant, Ashley Thierolf for the picture!

Rice, Rice Baby (Part Tres)

Some of you may recall my recent rice cooker blunder, and the subsequent acquistion of a (not quite as good) replacement.

While looking for something (I forget what), I found some instructions I had copied from the book, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Slow Cooking" which shows you how to cook rice in a crock pot!

Since I'm constantly moving around, there's no telling where that little piece of paper will be next time I need it ... so I reproduced that page here -- and no, it's not going to appear on the index section. If you need it after this page is archived, that's what the Cheap and Sleazy search engine is for!

True, it does take a wee bit more than five minutes to cook rice in a crock pot (one cup takes 90 minutes!) ... but it comes out way better than I've been able to get rice to cook in the new rice cooker I had to buy to replace that little (and way better!) $6.00 one that was the victim of ... well, smoke and fire!

The Fine Art of BBQ Chicken Resuscitation

That table came in handy the other day, when I was attempting to resuscitate some barbecue chicken I bought in error at my local Safeway (I swear, I thought I was buying fried chicken!).

The sauce on the chicken just had no taste at all ... and it needed help, quick!

Sometime back, I made a batch of Peach Chipotle BBQ sauce, from a recipe I found on Recipe Zarr.com, and I had some left over, deep inside the bowels of the fridge.

Lacking any proper cooking tools (like a BBQ brush), I had to improvise, adapt, and overcome that lack and used a spoon to spread the remains of my peach chipotle BBQ sauce on that lackluster "BBQ" chicken ... and I gotta say, that sauce did an excellent job in resuscitating that chicken!

I think I'd better make some more of that stuff ....

In Praise of the Crock Pot

The Rival Crockpot

Your New Best Friend: The Rival Crockpot

For those of you who snickered when they read "crock pot," I have to say that a crock pot can be a student's (and even a working reporter's!) best friend ...!

I may have mentioned that my cooking skills are used to be limited to microwave popcorn, TV dinners, and (of course!) the Cheap and Sleazy Mocha.

With a crock pot, a few books, and my good friend Google, I can actually cook stuff that other people might enjoy!

The beauty of the crock pot is you prepare your ingredients the night before, toss them in the crock pot on your way out, set the timer, and when you get home, dinner's done!

For instance, I modified a couple chili recipies I found in one of my slow cooker cookbooks, and came up with a pretty good pot o' chili! If you're on CSR Nation, you might be able to find it in one of the threads.

One of the biggest modifications I made to those two recipies (did I mention that one recipe was for a vegetarian chili? Can't do that!!) was adding 2 pounds of chuck steak to the mix (you have to brown it first, of course, then you have to cut it into bite-sized chunks ... and that takes time!).

Another modification was adding a bit of baking powder to the mix to cut down on any noxious nocturnal gaseous emissions, if you know what I mean. (*cough!*)

I think I'm going to write that one up, and put it on ol' Cheap and Sleazy! That will probably be in the winter months, when it's a bit colder and chili is more commonly eaten.

So watch for the Cheap and Sleazy Chili recipe in the not-too-distant.

Update (19AUG09)

digitalCAT Update

digitalCAT Logo

digitalCAT Logo

As promised, I called Stenovations today, and spoke to Carmen Santone, the Director of Sales. I asked about the new features in digitalCAT.

There's a new Auto-complete feature available when you're editing, where if you are typing a word, the rest of the word appears and you simply hit the tab key to accept that word (well, that's how it works in my HTML editor! We didn't get into specifics on that, so my explanation is a bit speculative).

The dictionary now has a speaker box (when using J-defines).

The suggestion box -- which is not like the AI-driven model in Eclipse; instead, it simply scans your existing dictionaries and tells you -- well, reminds you -- that you have a brief for that particular word ... so no, it's not exactly Briefpedia rolled into DC.

On the student version, Carmen said that the new version is now freely downloadable to discourage piracy. If you're illegally using the software, 90 days will go by, and you'll have to wrestle with the licensing manager to get it working again.

The watermarks (both header and footer) are simply to prevent students from representing a transcript as an official transcript, apparently ... so when you finish school, you will have to let Stenovations know, so they can adjust the code in the License Manager to kill off those watermarks.

Alas, the export options are gone -- including ASCII. Most likely the new Save As .pdf feature is also disabled, but again, I'm not sure (pesky licensing manager ....!).

I'm also not sure if the old Save As MS-Word Document is even in the new version ... but that also is most likely disabled.

On the LightSpeed front, Carmen told me that when the new StarLight is released, the LightSpeed WILL REMAIN IN PRODUCTION -- mostly because the StarLight "is not for everybody."

On a more humorous note, when I mentioned Cheap and Sleazy, Carmen said, "Oh, I didn't know you were with them!"

I told him there's no "them;" it's just "me!" :o)

Greta Duckett, DC Trainer Extraordinaire, recently posted on the Depoman forum that Johnny Jackson announced at the NCRA convention that when you graduate, you can use digitalCAT's professional version for free ... for SIX MONTHS, vice the three months stated in the sales literature.

This will allow those slow-paying lawyers to finally pay you before Stenovations sends you that first bill!

The Next Election

As I write this, I have a message open from the Yahoo Court Reporting Students group open ... and one of the denizens of that list has this as her .sig:

Potter/Granger in 2012!

If only ....

Speaking of Harry Potter, you know what I'd like to see?

How about another series of books, detailing life at Hogwarts -- for James and Lily Potter?

You could see James as a young man, meeting Lily, interacting with Snape, hanging out with Sirius Black, the rise of Voldemort -- all that stuff!

Of course, we all know that it ends with the death of the two main characters ... but I'd still like to read those books!

C'mon, Ms. Rowling ...! You can make another generation of kids WANT to read! And if you satisfy my desire for another series (and a whole new batch of movies!), so much the better!

A New, Cool Tool

On both CSR Nation and the Depoman forum, (now former) student Keith Rowan posted a thread about how he uses digital flashcards to study steno.

I thought the idea was a good one, and asked if I could share it here on ol' Cheap and Sleazy, and Keith said sure ...!

And so, without any further ado ....

Digital Flashcards:   The Best Way to Learn Briefs, Ever!

Many of us have used flashcards to practice or learn material. You may even have done it in your theory or bridge class. I recently discovered the most helpful tool in learning briefs -- sites where you can make your own digital flashcards!

Basically, you make cards with the English word or phrase on the front, and steno on the back (or any other way you want; more on making them later, it's easy!). Next, you start a session and try to write each card as it pops up! Apparently there are a few, but the one I have tried, which is amazing and has all the features (as well as a very responsive tech team who added a ?Court Reporting? category when I requested it!) is

http://www.flashcardmachine.com

What is so much better about this site than good old-fashioned flashcards or just writing lists of briefs, you ask?

1) You can share your cards with everyone and look at other cards people have made. We can all pool our collective resources. Oh, and it's free (and easy).

2) They have a plethora of options. The most helpful are the "random" and "auto-flip" options that are perfect for CR briefs practice. With random, you don't know what word or phrase will pop at you next, and you have to react and write it. With auto-flip, you do nothing once it starts ? you just keep your hands on your machine and write! You can even choose how fast the cards flip! If you are just starting, you might put it to four or five second intervals. Then as you get better at a group of cards, three then two, maybe even one second! It is good to write the word or phrase as many times as you possibly can before the next one comes up ? more muscle memory.

3) You can leave the flashcards window over your realtime and you can see your realtime and the flashcards at the same time.

4) It is very, very easy to create the cards. You can either do it from scratch, which isn't bad for small lists, or you can simply upload a text file as long as it is tabbed. I will explain this at bottom.

5) The flashcards are always available as long as you have internet. No carrying cards around or wasted effort. You get to keep your hands on your machine and write!

One more thing before I explain how to upload your files. I have been using this site for only a few days, but I have over 50 sets of cards uploaded (it's that easy). Most sets have between 20-40 cards. Here is a link to my page. Feel free to study them to see what in the heck I am talking about and if you like the program. If you like any of my cards, feel free to study them and use the briefs! Otherwise, create your own and you have the perfect study aid to learn new strokes! Here's the link --

http://www.flashcardmachine.com/p/2ox51u

Now, to upload. If you have any lists in Excel, as I do, it's very easy. I have lists of briefs in Excel that have the English in the first column, and the steno in the second column. You have to highlight these then copy and paste them into a text file (notepad) to be able to upload to the site. Simply copy and paste into a text file. When you do this, the steno part will be tabbed over from the English because Excel has tabs already. Your text file you upload has to have tabs so that the site will know where the front of the card ends, and where the back of the card begins.

If you don't have Excel, but you have a word list in Word or somewhere else, simply paste the English word into a text file, then hit the TAB key, then paste the steno. That's how you manually create tabs -- you just hit the TAB key. If you don't want to upload lists or don't have any, just use the editor on the site. You'll just type on the front of the card and on the back, then save. Pretty simple, but it is faster to upload lists if you have them, rather than typing them again.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to respond here or email me at keithrowan1978 (at) yahoo.com

Good luck!

-- Keith


Update (18AUG09)

Mark Kislingbury Wins Again ...!

Yes, that's right ... Mark "Magnum Steno" Kislingbury did it again at the DC convention, winning the 2009 Annual Speed contest with a score of 99.354. You can read about the contest here:

http://ncraonline.org/NCRA/awardsandcontests/Speed/2009_speed_contest.htm

I hear he used his LightSpeed this time ....

And, Speaking of Mark ....

... have you heard about the Magnum Steno Club ...?

Basically what it is is an online class in speed building. Mark will give you some briefs, then fire some dictation at you where you can use those briefs.

The class is $30/month ... BUT you can try it out for a week ... FOR FREE!

"OhMyGodOhMyGodOhMyGod How,How,How, HOW?!"

Settle down thar, pahdner!

It's easy: First, go to the Magnum Steno site, and scroll down until you see the login section.

Type (or copy and paste) this in:

free@magnumsteno.com

... and then type (or copy and paste) this for the password:

youcandoit

Now you have access to the archived videos on the site, as well as the new stuff uploaded every day!

In the Magnum Steno Fan Club over on CSR Nation, it was suggested that you start with the Briefs 101 series.

Good luck ... and enjoy!

digitalCAT: Good News ... and Bad News

First, the Good news: The latest version of digitalCAT has been released ... and it seems to have a new feature, which -- well, let me have a rather happy user explain:

LOL...I had updated a couple days ago, and was practicing, and the "suggest briefs" came up.

I immediately ran downstairs where my husband was and started *handflapping* and SQUEEEEEing and bouncing and "OMGitpoppedupwithabriefIforgotIhadthisissoexciting" and he nodded and smiled ....

In short, it appears as if digitalCAT now has something like AutoBrief rolled in ...! Can't test it myself, due to the pesky licence manager issue (it doesn't like being run under Wine), so I can't test it ... but either way, looks like the coding needed to put Briefpedia together didn't go to waste!

Another new feature is the ability to Save As .pdf.

I have a program called ... well, I forget what it's called right now (no, not CutePDF), but what it does is install a printer driver that I can select when I print, and instead of spitting out a copy to a printer, it simply creates a .pdf ... so for me, this update wouldn't see much use ... but I guess it's nice for those that need it.

To use it, you will need the .pdf Support file from the Downloads page. Otherwise, the Transcript Editor will lock up ...!

That is a Bad Thing(™).

Now, the Bad News ....

I've been hearing the new build has a few restrictions (in the student version, anyway): Watermarks on the bottom of each page ... inability to export to the various formats (including text!!), etc.

Think I'll have to call in tomorrow and see exactly what's different about the new student version!

Truly a sad day.

Update (13AUG09)

Total Immersion Update

The first quarter report on the Total Immersion pilot program is up on the NCRA's website. You can see it here:

http://ncraonline.org/NCRA/archivednews/archives_2009/090706/totalimmersion.htm

BUT ... you can find more info in this thread on the NCRA Forum:

http://ncraforum.org/showthread.php?t=960

The basics: ~198 applicants, 15 students selected for the program. All made it through to the time of the first report ... BUT after the report, one had to drop out (personal reasons), and the instructor has been replaced.

All of that is covered in the thread linked above ... but from the report, it looks like the program has promise!

The students next goal: 120 wpm by September 4th.

Update (07AUG09)

Stenovations' StarLight

Try to curb your Technolust and grab your bibs ... here's the drool-worthy new writer from Stenovations, the StarLight!

Stenovations' StarLight:  Drool-worthy!

Stenovations' New StarLight: Drool-Worthy

Of course, this is an artist's rendering, courtesy of Greta's LightSpeed blog (and, I'm sure, a lot of begging and pleading on Greta's part to get that image)!

Thanks, Greta.

Oh, in case you're wondering, that is a touch-screen you're looking at on the top right ... AND it has a regular keyboard as well ...!

Coolness.

I think I see a lot of people using their steno keyboards for their e-mails, chats, twitters, foruming, etc. ...!

Might be time to avoid buying any extra shoes, tools, or anything -- especially for those of you who already own LightSpeeds! (Did I mention the full credit for trade-ins?)

Update (05AUG09)

Got CART?

As I metioned in some recent "Other News," I finally have an article on CART available here on ol' Cheap and Sleazy ...!

Since the temperature has dropped down to a more "Seattle Norm" of late, I finally got a chance to actually sit down and go through the article properly ... and I found that all that was needed was the addition of a couple of hyperlinks, and Eureka! Instant CART article for my readers!

Add to that the fact that the article appeared in its original form in the Washington Court Reporters Association's summer 2009 newsletter, and ... well, there you go.

The author, Louise Becker, is a long time CART provider, and is, in fact, working on legislation here in Washington to regulate CART providers, most likely spurred on by the events described in this blog at one of my state's colleges (and color me embarrassed for that! Holy crap ....).

Enjoy!

Also, just in case ...

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