(Or "Here There Be Old Stuff")
Wow, Has it Been a While, or What ...!?!
Hi, everybody -- and a belated Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hallowe'en, and Merry Christmas to all of my readers located at all points Cheap and Sleazy!
Well. As you might have noticed, it's been two months since I last updated ol' Cheap and Sleazy. Alas, I have been under the weather of late. I'll spare you the details, but if I were to have written "Moby Dick," the first line would have been "Call me Phlegmy."
Rather than write the updates in their actual order of occurrence, I'll just throw them all out there as I remember them! :o) Here we go .....
Case Catalyst Goes Keyless!
Yes, that's right: Case Catalyst will officially become keyless with the release of CC 12 next month! You can take a virtual tour here:
You'll have to surrender your security key before you can go keyless, though.
Not to be outdone, the folks at Advantage Software are also working on a keyless solution. It may be a while before it is implemented, as there are all sorts of things to consider: How do you police how many computers Eclipse is running on at the same time, and therefore which one is active, etc., etc.
I note that ProCAT Winner has a keyless option as well: A simple phone call, type in a code, and blammo, you're keyless.
I'll have to ask for the code myself here shortly; seems the tutorial the software ships with doesn't like my Mac -- that is, some of the tutorials run, while others (like, say, the one I actually need) do not.
I'll make that call tomorrow ... and break out the manual!
Speaking of Learning CATs ....
.... I recently completed the first part of my school's CAT training on Case Catalyst 11. Can't say I did great (I apparently didn't notice a few assignments that I was supposed to do ... so I'll have a chat with my instructor about the need for ONE document that says what is due each week, as opposed to the three or four we had to deal with!), but I did learn a lot of interesting stuff ... including the fact that CC 11 does allow for the importing of .rtf dictionaries.
A Case of
Two Too Many Dictionaries
At one point in my class work, I was supposed to connect my writer to one of the computers in the lab and write against my dictionary. Once I got past the whole "We-don't-have-any-serial-cables-except-for-the-ones-for-the-Stenturas-and-Protege" problem, I did manage to hook my Flash to one of the lab's writerless desktop computers, but there were a *lot* of mistrans ...!
No, not the kind of mistrans you get from sloppy writing; rather, these errors were the result of obvious dictionary issues: "No" for "know, "Yeah" for "I can't," etc.
A wee bit of investigating revealed that somehow, my Phoenix Theory dictionary somehow had a lot of non-Phoenix entries!
The solution: Delete my Phoenix Theory dictionary and start over -- but I knew that Case wouldn't allow me to import an .rtf dictionary in the student version!
My instructor recommended that I give it a try anyway, so I did -- after deleting the original dictionary's entries, that is.
Soon I was left with an empty dictionary:
Now, just to be clear: Importing my Phoenix_Theory.rtf file did create another dictionary with the same name. In order to get all of those entries into my Personal Dictionary, as they call it in Case Catalyst, I simply opened that imported dictionary and did a Select All, did a right-click, and selected the "Move to Dictionary" option, and Eureka!
Oh, I should explain that the computers in the lab are all networked, with multiple users on each one, so I can log on to any one of them and (ideally) find my files intact ... and while I don't use the Update Area feature of Case, I'm sure other users do ... which is the only way I can see how all those funky entries got into my dictionary.
To that end, I opened the Update Area dictionary and deleted everything in it, and made sure that it was never selected when I started a realtime session from then on.
After that bit o' house cleaning, everything was fine!
School Changes (And More CATs!)
After fighting the combination Microsoft/Real.com/Google/Boeing traffic every morning after my class' start time changed from 11:00 AM to (*gulp!!*) 8:00 AM, which made my previously one hour commute stretch to anywhere from one hour and 15 minutes to 90 minutes (grrr!!!!), I have requested to do my speedbuilding online.
In order to do that, I had to test my CAT software (digitalCAT) with my soon-to-be instructor's account on Stenograph University. We tried with the current version of Firefox, but that didn't seem to work ... then she wanted to try it with Internet Explorer, but in trying to get rid of MSN, I somehow deleted IE instead (still not sure how that happened! I *SPECIFICALLY* clicked MSN in the Add/Remove Software window ....).
Anyway ... since IE was gone in that particular virtual machine, I had to press a different VM into service ... yes, that's right: The same VM that I made way back in 2006 under Virtual PC that I had running on my mighty G4 PowerBook, which not only had digitalCAT and IE on it ... but also Eclipse.
Frankly, I had been looking for this disk image for quite a while at that point! I thought I had lost it in my unfortunate hard drive meltdown a few years back! :o)
Anyway, it turned out that IE on there was version 6, while Stenograph U calls for at least IE 7 ... so ... well, let's just say that running digitalCAT and IE 6 resulted in my getting immediately logged out of the Stenograph U session after a couple of key strokes (and no, Command Mode was not on)!
Next we tried it with Eclipse. My instructor-to-be wondered how come I have so many CATs (couldn't use Winner, as I would have had to call in for a code to enable RITE so I could write into other applications; maybe tomorrow when I ask for that whole keyless thing!). I explained the whole virtual machine thing, but I think I may have put her to sleep with the techy stuff, so ....
Anywho, IE6 and Eclipse didn't do much better, so I have downloaded and installed IE8, and we'll try it again in the not-too-distant.
In the meantime, I had to become a bit more conversant with Eclipse (version 4.x, by the way), so I have taken to watching the Eclipse tutorials over on CourtReps' site:
The nice thing about these tutorials is they run on my Mac ... and they don't require me to use Internet Explorer -- which, in case you didn't know, Microsoft stopped making for the Mac (and yes, that link points to IE5) when Apple came out with Safari.
I also had to do a few searches over on the Phoenix Theory forum to find out how to get Eclipse to react appropriately when it came to formatting commands and such, but I think I have everything working.
All that's left to do now is test IE8 and both digitalCAT and Eclipse, then we'll see what's what.
Like the man said, "It's dead, Jim."
Yes, that's right ... I'm talking about the main ingredient in my Cheap and Sleazy Mocha: Coffee Fudge Chunk Ice Cream!
One hot day in June or July, I offered to make my ex-girlfriend/housemate/roomie/boss my World Famous(™) Cheap and Sleazy Mocha. Alas, I was out of Coffee Fudge Chunk ice cream, so off to the local Safeway I went ... but apparently I wasn't the only one that had that idea on that particular hot day: They were out of Coffee Fudge Chunk ice cream.
Not a problem! There's another Safeway about a mile down the road, so off I went ... and they were out as well.
I had to settle for a new flavor: Java Chip. It was ... okay; just not as good as my former beloved Coffee Fudge Chunk! (*sigh*).
As you might guess, I have been searching various Safeway stores for my ice cream of choice since that day, but still, no luck. I have asked a few employees if they knew what was going on with it, but they all promise to check into it, and by the time I get back to that particular store, I forget who it was I asked! The search continues ....
I'll get around to modifying the recipe in the not-too-distant (*sniff!*) but for now, a moment of silence for my missing beloved!
Speedbuilding Trick #1: The Stereogram
Recently on Facebook, court reporter Tori Pittman made an interesting suggestion one might try to get into the zone: Look at a stereogram while you're testing.
If the word "stereogram" is unfamiliar, howzabout a Magic Eye image?
For those of you *still* in the dark, stereograms, or Magic Eye images are pictures that appear rather ... well, you know ... repetitive. But if you look them ... well, properly, a three dimensional picture will appear before your eyes! Here's a couple examples:
Fair warning: That text one is difficult --! It might be easier if you right-click it and open it in another window. Takes away the distraction.
So. Tori's idea is to take your test, and while doing so, look at one of these images on your computer, and focus on the 3D image buried within!
Alas, I haven't tried this -- no, check that: I did try this, but it was during my final three Q&A tests, and I was on top of the dictation, zone or no zone!
Would have passed all three of them too, if I hadn't screwed up *every single contraction* I wrote! (*sigh* ....)
Next quarter, however, will be a different story when I kick some Q&A butt!! Mu-hu-hu-ha-ha-ha!!!
(*ahem!*) Excuse me.
Speedbuilding Trick #2: 140 to 200 in Three Months?!
A few years ago, a woman posted on the NCRA Forum that she went from 140 to 200 in three months.
Naturally, I had to find out how she did that, so I sent her an e-mail ... and she answered.
I had forgotten about the e-mail until a couple weeks back when someone asked a question about CRAH -- or Court Reporting At Home -- on Facebook, at which point I dug the .pdf I made of her original e-mail out, removed her contact info (privacy issues), and uploaded it to the Cheap and Sleazy servers. You can read what she sent me here:
If you read that, you might have noticed that Stephanie mentioned she didn't have CAT software.
I couldn't understand how that could be at the time (~2006), but it turns out that CRAH students aren't allowed to have CAT software until they get to their 180s -- and the only thing they are tested on up to that point is Q&A.
The other thing is, this method flys in the face of Steve "Da Man Hisself" Shastay's teachings as laid out in The Plateau.
On the other hand, this is pretty much what Mark Kislingbury recommends ... so in that case, do as Bruce Lee did when he came up with Jeet Kune Do, his multi-disciplne fighting art: Take techniques from all of the fighting arts.
In other words, use both methods! Just remember to come back down to a control speed at the end of your practice session.
Also, don't be afraid to adjust the time you spend on this particular drill. Six hours a day is, while admirable, a *lot* of time ... but then again, Stephanie did go from 140 to 200 in three months .....
CSR Nation: An Update
I got an e-mail from Kelli Combs, the force behind the missing-in-action CSR Nation the other day. She told me some good news: CSR Nation should be back online shortly after the first of the year!
Alas, in trying to get the site back, she has incurred roughly $30,000 in legal fees ... but she has a plan in place to fix that -- hopefully.
Everyone else will still get to use the site for free ... and as Starving Students(™), I'm sure most of my readers will appreciate that ...!
As for what will happen with the placeholder site, Kelli is looking at either keeping it active or possibly merging it with CSR Nation ... but she'll have to check with the Powers That Be at Ning first in order to ascertain whether or not the two sites can be merged.
In short, we'll see!
Those of you who have been reading ol' Cheap and Sleazy probably already know that I am a BIG fan of the metal paper tray.
In fact, a couple of my classmates took my advice (though I'm fairly sure at least one of them didn't realize she was taking my advice) and purchased their own metal paper trays (yay!).
Unfortunately, their metal paper tray is not like my metal paper tray:
Rather, their metal paper tray looks like this:
(And yes, Brandi did insist on having her leg in the shot! Why do you ask?)
"Okay, I'm not Seeing the Difference."
The difference is not easy to see ... but the above paper tray is a single pice of metal -- that is, it does not open like your regular paper tray. Instead, you put the paper in the bottom half there, thread it through the slot on the back and under your writer's platen, then back into that top (virtually sideless!) tray.
Brandi said it is pretty hard to load the paper in it without being able to open it.
Here's a view from the other side (again, Brandi's leg included at no extra charge):
Just to be clear: I am not telling anyone not to buy this particular metal paper tray ... but if you are more comfortable with a paper tray that actually opens, then ... well, there are other options ... like this one ... or even this one.
So, in your search for a metal paper tray, ask the seller: "Can you physically open the paper tray?" If the seller says no, then you're buying the wrong metal paper tray.
And that's all I'm going to say about that.
The WSCRA Fall Seminar
Back in September, we had our state's fall seminar. I was there, manning the ProCAT booth -- a training day for me -- and where I picked up my ProCAT Stylus.
While there, I met Jason "Infinity Traditional" Pardikes:
Alas, that was a non-functioning prototype ... but he did demonstrate the (patent pending) IT Writer Stress Test:
Yes, that's right: He's standing on the writer!
Alas, as it was a non-functioning model, it's hard to tell if any damage was done ... but I didn't see anything physically wrong afterwards, so .....
Jason also showed me a rejected design for the IT Writer's case:
Jason said this case design didn't get the nod because the writer had too much wiggle-room, so they'll shave a few centimeters off here and there, and whip that case into shape before the launch (next month).
I also met my local Steno Repair Ninja. Here he is showing what a disassembled Elan Cybra looks like:
I wanted to have the caption say, "Something wrong with your writer?" "No, no problem. Why do you ask?", but I didn't think anybody would get the joke!
See what I mean? (Hint: It's a Star Wars reference!)
I also managed to run into NCRA Immediate Past President, Melanie Sontag a few times.
The first time was at the talk she gave, wherein she took questions from the floor; the second time was the last day of the convention, when everyone was leaving. We chatted for a bit, and she thanked me for being a student and attending the convention, and told me she hoped to see me again at another convention.
I told her that she would see me in a couple days, because she was scheduled to speak at my school ... and then I told her I would have some tough questions for her, so be ready! :o)
Alas, my "tough question" wasn't too tough for her. I basically asked about ethics and gift giving and agencies that didn't belong to the NCRA and used as an example "the Kentucky situation," and she gave me a very good answer, pointing out that one of my Depoman friends, namely Lisa Migliore Black, had volunteered to lead the NCRA's Ethics First program and the Anti-Contracting Committee, so things should start getting better in Kentucky, among other places.
Ms. Sontag is one of the nicest reporters I've met in a while now!
Well. Let's see what's in the hopper .... I have an article by a young man here in the Pacific North Wet who epitomizes the Cheap and Sleazy ideal ... yes, that's right: He bought himself an early Gemini for a really low price, and rebuilt that writer to include rechargeable batteries.
I have another article (which is actually ready to go) by a young woman who tells you how to re-ink your Stentura ribbon cartridge ... and (since it's ready to go and all), you can read it here. I'll add it to the menus (and update What's Here) Soonest.
I also have a set of links to some free and/or low-cost dictation that I will need to convert to a semi-article (that means it will be a link on the Links page that opens an article you can't get to without going through the Links page).
I also have plans to update several articles behind the scenes, like the Cheap and Sleazy Chili article. I've actually updated this one a few times as I have refined the reicipe, so it has changed quite a bit since I originally uploaded it. I am contemplating adding an update wherein I have you apply a dry rub to the meat before you cook it, made from smoked sea salt, oregano, paprika and brown sugar ... but that one needs more field testing ... not to mention sourcing for this smoked sea salt. Thus far, I've only found it at one store here in the Pacific North Wet, so that may be a problem!
I am also planning on doing more work on the still unfinished article on running your CAT on Macs (Sex and Power III), which for CC-folk should have just gotten easier thanks to the whole keyless thing in CC 12.
Also in the planning stages is finishing the the fairly nearly finished Heaven, wherein I teach the reader how to use the Speed Teacher, the Drill Machine, and Ace Reader Pro (which is sort of a cross between the Speed Teacher and the Drill Machine). I'll be able to add screenshots from a couple more CATs to the mix now! :o)
I will also be updating the Darwine article (which, by the way, is THE most read article on Cheap and Sleazy, with over 1,000 hits this month, with the main page coming in second at 698 hits), though I won't be able to do it until a new version of Wine Bottler and Darwine comes out. Still waiting on that improved (say "actually working") USB support ... though I hear the next update *should* let me run the Speed Teacher -- without running Windows.
Cheap and Sleazy Top 20 for December
Speaking of the two articles here on ol' Cheap and Sleazy, below is what my stats show as the top 20 most read articles this month. I had to laugh when I saw what was number three ....! :o)
Well, that's it for this rather lengthy update! Sorry about the delay ... and the length.
Until the next update .....
Their Day In Court
Yesterday, there were two important court cases: One in California, and another in Florida.
In California, Kelli Combs went back to court on the matter of the hijacked CSR Nation. She has to put an ad in the paper to let "James Diaz" know that he has 30 days to put up or shut up on the issue of ownership of CSR Nation. Failure to "put up" will result in CSR Nation reverting back to Kelli's control ... which means that the site should be back up sometime near the end of the year!
Good deal, Kelli!
For those that didn't migrate over earlier, you can find Kelli's "placeholder" site here.
No Retreat, No Surrender, Act III
Meanwhile, in Florida, Susan DeMichelle of DeMichelle Deposition Reporters of Northern CA finally had her day in court, and yes, she won! You can read about that victory here.
Oh, and you might also want to check out this article by a reporter in Tampa, FL. The article appeared on October 3, 2010, and naturally has garnered a comment or two that might be worth perusing!
"The Cheap and Sleazy Sale"
That's right ... there's a Cheap and Sleazy Sale going on right now at ProCAT!
Grandpa Pickles rant notwithstanding, the Cheap and Sleazy Sale will get you $100 off on any refurbished/reconditioned ProCAT Flash or ProCAT Stylus in stock ... and right now, there are about 26 Flashes and 4 Styluses available.
That discounted price of $1495 (yes, regularly $1595) gets you a refurbished ProCAT Flash with a one-year warranty on parts and labor.
For the Stylus, that discounted price of $3395 (yes, regularly priced at $3495) gets you a reconditioned ProCAT Stylus. "Reconditioned" basically means that all the parts have been replaced with new ones ... and yes, they have the same warranty.
To take advantage of this Cheap and Sleazy Sale, all you have to do is call either the Eastern or Western Regional Sales numbers -- 1-800-255-8801 and 1-800-769-6841, respectively -- and tell them you want a refurbished ProCAT Flash or a refurbished -- er, reconditioned ProCAT Stylus with the Cheap and Sleazy discount, they will knock that afore-mentioned $100 off the price!
What, are you still here?
I.T. Writer Questionnaire Update
Replacing the QuickTime Videos ...!
Yes, it's true ... after a quick exchange with the fellows that wrote the code that enables me to show flash video here on ol' Cheap and Sleazy (during which he pointed out a few spaces in my file name; duh!), I FINALLY was able to get Dee Boenau's two videos viewable as a .flv (say "Flash Video", ala YouTube)!
A BIG THANKS to the folks that wrote the JW Player for writing the code, and more importantly, pointing out the error of my ways with the file names! :o) Yeah, I'll be creating my own file names from now on, thankyouverymuch.
New Colors for the ProCAT Stylus
You've probably seen this by now, but a few days ago, I got the new color chart for the ProCAT Stylus in an e-mail, and had so much trouble getting the Dee Boneau interview videos to work that I forgot to add it in the last update!
Sorry about that, Deby!
Anyway, here's that color chart:
Feel free to click the picture for the full-sized view.
Hmmmm ... think I'll go for the Henry Ford color style; you know: "You can have it in any color you want, as long as it's black."
Don't forget those wide keys! :o)
Court Reporting Help: The Update
As you've probably already noticed, His Steveness has updated Court Reporting Help.com. Even better, for those of you who took "Hasta la Vista Thursday" to heart and immediately upgraded to Windows 7 (in violation of Tech Commandment Numba Three), only to discover that the Speed Teacher quit working, then this update will make you smile: The Speed Teacher has been updated to work with Windows 7!
If you've been reading the lengthier version of The Plateau and run across a mention or two of the Speed Teacher and started swearing because it just didn't work when you installed it under Windows 7, then you should be jumping for joy right now.
.... but it might be good to point you to that new version directly:
This (Literally!) Just In ...
I just got quoted on Coast to Coast AM by Art Bell!! :o)
Art was doing a guest host stint on Coast last night and told a rather disturbing cat story, and I sent him a "Fast Blast" (say "Instant Message"), which he read on the air! Here's the snippet:
Finally (and Without Comment) ...
Thanks to Julie Samford for that one.
The Answers Are In --!
Yes, that's right -- I'm talking about the answers to the questions posed by the Depoman.com community about the I.T. Writer:
For those of you who just can't wait, here's a couple questions and answers -- but first, you should know that the website will no longer require a login and password effective 22SEP10. And now, to a couple of questions and answers:
Q. When will the writer be officially released?
A. The I.T.'s anticipated shipment will occur in January of 2011, as this marks the seven-year anniversary of The Neutrino Group's manufacturing of court reporting equipment.
Q. How much is it? (and all the iterations -- with screen and without, captioning model, student model, etc.)?
A. Court with LCD = $4,995.00 retail
Court without LCD = $4,795.00 retail
Captioner = $2,395.00 retail
Student = $1,745 retail
Court with LCD = $3,995.00 (which is a $1,000.00 savings)
Court without LCD = $3,795.00 (which is a $1,000.00 savings)
You can read all those questions and and answers here.
What, you're still here?
TV Interview With a Captioner
Don't know if you've heard, but captioner Dee Boenau (say "Bay-no") recently won the NCRA's Realtime Contest, using her trusty fire-breathing Passport ... and the hosts of a show she captions daily called "Daytime" were nice enough to mention her accomplishment on the air:
In this short (~3 minute) video, they talk about captioning, and how Dee won the NCRA's Realtime contest ... and they promised to do a longer interview with her later in the week. Speaking of which:
This video is about 10 minutes long. Even better, you can see her "Firebreathing Passport" in action -- sort of.
Please join me in giving Dee Boneau a hearty (and cheap and sleazy) "Way To Go!!"
She represented the profession well.
(Say ... anybody have a stroke for "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?" I can see where it might come in handy some day ....)
Quick Note About Those Videos ....
I have a question in to the developer, so (hopefully) I'll be able to convert all of these videos to .flv format, and then you can resize them to full screen!
In the meantime, you'll have to download the QuickTime installer, quit all your browsers, run the installer, and restart your browser(s). Once you do that, the videos should automagically start working!
Update: Got it working! (Well, two of them, anyway.)
This Just In ....
I have been asked to be the Sysop of the Student section over on the Court Reporter's Forum!
If you haven't been there in a while, you might want to stop by. A lot of interesting questions are being asked (and answered!) over there ... like the often-asked, "Do You Really Need a Degree to be a Court Reporter?" And for those of you losing points on your tests because of errors, well, did I mention the English classes over there?
And If That's Not Enough ....
I have also been asked (and yes, I accepted!) to be the (Seattle) area sales rep for ProCAT!
If you are ready to buy your first professional writer -- new *or* refurbished -- and you're thinking about a Flash or a Stylus, howzabout a refurbished ProCAT Flash, with a one year manufacturer's warranty, for $1595? Or perhaps a reconditioned (as in, all parts are new!) ProCAT Stylus for $3495?
Shoot me an e-mail, and we'll get you set up.
Yes, that's right ... it's *finally* done!
I'm talking about the older version of Stephen Shastay's book-in-progress, "The Plateau" ... but this time, instead of a mere six chapters, this one weighs in at a hefty 19 chapters ... and a whopping 77 pages!
Steve has, as you might guess, a few exercises that require you to use the Speed Teacher. If you're on Windows 7, you should follow these instructions for installing digitalCAT to install the Speed Teacher; otherwise, it won't work ... and for those of you who missed "Hasta la Vista Thursday" (as discussed way down there in the 01NOV09 Update), these instructions will show you how to install digitalCAT in Vista ... though I'm sure I don't have to tell you that you'll be installing the Speed Teaher, right? Good!
What? You want a link? Sure ...!
(I knew I had forgotten something ...!)
Tech Support Blues
So, how many of you have ever felt like doing (or actually did!) something like this while on the phone with Tech Support?
Well, I hate to admit it, but I have often felt that way as well ... despite having done a stint as a telephone tech support guy in support of Windows 95, Net Meeting 1.0, Internet Explorer versions 3 through 5, and PageMaker 4 through 6.0 (same company, different projects, thanks to my "bilingual" skills (Mac and Windows, that is).
That clip is dedicated to those of you who spent far too much time this weekend talking to tech support, like, say, a certain young woman in Alabama (she knows who she is -- I hope!)!
The clip comes to us courtesy of my favorite (and canceled!) sitcom, "Better Off Ted." While ABC did postpone the final two episodes because of a football game, at least they didn't screw the audience over like they did with "Eastwick," where they not only canceled the series and didn't air the two of the final episodes (episodes 11 and 13), they aired the last few episodes in the wrong order! One week, four of the show's characters were in dire straits: Two were paralyzed in the basement of a rather crazy woman, while another was being chased by an ax-wielding maniac, and the other discovered that her healing ability was aging her prematurely ... and then, the next episode, all four were walking around like nothing ever happened!
I guess Better Off Ted got some good closure, considering.
And don't get me started on the "Sarah Connor Chronicles!"
"Big Oops" Department
A few days back when I was a bit under the weather, I got another e-mail from "Deep Blue," with a few answers to some of my other questions. I have placed those questions and answers within Deep Blue's comments under the 18JUL10 update.
The Art of the Deal: IT Writer Update
I got an interesting e-mail from the ContactUs address over at Infinitytraditional.com the other day. Seems they want -- well, let me do some copyin' and pastin':
Dear Mr. Warner,
Not too long ago, and much to our surprise, it came to our attention that pictures of our writer and the release of some key information about our product had somehow made it to your site. We spent some time internally discussing the pros and cons of the early viewing of this product and have come to the conclusion that while early, it is not the end of our release plans.
We know about you, your history, your schooling, and at least one of our people knows you personally. Based on those facts we thought you might be interested in a proposal we have for you.
We would like to grant you the first and exclusive interview (e-mail based only) for the I.T. product. We would like you to put together a list of up to 25 questions and submit them to us for our team to answer. We only ask that you gather those questions from the court reporting community (i.e., your members, Depoman.com members, Facebook, etc.).
We would like you to act as the liaison by answering questions about the writer and providing them to the court reporting community. We feel that it would provide additional visibility for you and your site, in addition to the increase in credibility you would have for breaking the news story about the reporting industry. For us it provides an opportunity to put out very accurate and technically specific information to the public to clarify a few mistakes contained in your story. We will even go a step further and offer up an exclusive phone interview with the president of our company at a future time and place.
The only other requirement that we have is that you publish the story in conjunction with our public announcement of who we are and the details of when the writer will be released into the market. Of course, you will need to tell people that they are welcomed and encouraged to submit questions to you. These would need to be compiled and submitted to us by August 31st. You are free to ask any question you like, but we will tell you upfront that you do not need to ask who we are; we will tell you that with our public release announcement, along with what the writers will cost. We felt that this was a better route than closing off access to the site until we were ready to go public.
If you feel it is helpful, your users may register on our site, and as soon as we go live, we will send all of them an e-mail saying hello and directing them to cheapandsleazy.net for an exclusive interview conducted by users and moderated by you, Mr. Warner.
If you are interested, please respond to the e-mail. If not, we appreciate your time reviewing our proposal.
The I.T. Team
As you might guess, I thought this was a great idea -- but I made a counter-offer: I would do as requested, if they arranged a demo at my school once the writer has been officially announced/released ... and I specified that I wanted my fellow students to be able to connect their laptops to the writer, and use their own CAT software with it, because testing a writer with someone else's laptop and someone else's dictionary is ... well, I might have made allusions to kissing one's sister, but that's neither here nor there. The important thing is, they agreed to my terms!
I will be collecting those 25 questions -- less those of the "Who are those guys, anyway?!" variety -- over in the "New Writer Alert ...! thread I started over on Depoman.com (for the impatient-types, click the link for page 5). If you're not a member there and you have a question you want answered, sign up for an account, and ask away!
"No Retreat, No Surrender," Act II
As you might remember in what I can now call Act I of No Retreat, No Surrender (see the 04MAY10 update), court reporter Susan DeMichelle was fighting a battle against a Florida attorney, to recover the $480 he not only stiffed her for, but counter-sued her (to the tune of $5,000) to avoid paying!
Well, Susan has been busy of late, and she finally has some good news: She has a court date, where she will physically appear in a Tampa, FL court ... and that date is October 25th.
If you have been remiss in keeping up with Susan's recovery efforts, you really need to check out her blog.
At last count, Susan's $480 had ballooned up to $13,000 to cover her various expenses.
Go get 'em, Susan!
You've probably noticed by now that this page on ol' Cheap and Sleazy has become ... smaller!
If so, that's because it was way, *way* past time for the annual Trimming of the Main Page frestival!
For those of you who are new to ol' Cheap and Sleazy, that's when I take most of the main page's content and move it to an archive page ... so if you're looking for something that was here the last time you visited (assuming, of course, that that was within the last week or so), try this page.
Now, for today's update:
If you have been reading ol' Cheap and Sleazy for a while, you might recall my Tale o' Woe about my MacBook Pro's dead-keyboard-and-trackpad issue ... and if you've been reading some of my posts on the various forums I frequent, you might have read somewhere that I had begun swearing at my Mac almost daily thanks to that issue (not to mention the "Apple's Firmware Update Killed My Superdrive" issue, which means that when I put a blank CD or DVD into the drive, my Mac would just ... spit it back out! Made it hard to do any backups, that's for sure).
Well, I have a fix for those issues now. It's called a new MacBook Pro!
Even better, I took advantage of Apple's educational discount (being a starving student and all) and got $100 off the price of the 15" model, *and* a $200 rebate on a $200 iPod Touch ... and yes, I have a copy of iSteno on it!
I even bit the bullet and purchased the iPhone version of Nanosaur 2:
In this game, you control a pterodactyl (that flying dinosaur there). On my Mac, you use keys to control the movement. On the iPod (and the iPhone and the iPad), you move the iDevice this way and that to control the movement of your nanosaur.
It's definitely different, that's for sure ...!
As for my old Mac, it is going to be taking over the duties of my old (and I do mean "OLD") Dell laptop: That's right: I have removed a lot of the crap from the hard drive and put VMWare Fusion on my old Mac, and am now running digitalCAT on it!
Even better, I plan on using this to help me finish my article on running CATs on Macs, which has been pretty quiet since ... well, since I stopped attending CRI! I can now use the old Mac as a test bed to test other methods of Windows emulation ... and I plan on upgrading my new Mac's hard drive from it's 320 GB hard drive to, say, 750GB (or, if I'm lucky, 1TB!!), and will move VMWare Fusion to the new Mac, and send the old to my ex-wife (shhh! It's a surprise!!).
I call that "Glenimony," by the way.
Drinkin' and Drivin'
Yes, that's right ... I nearly killed myself the other day doing a bit of Drinkin' and Drivin'.
No, I wasn't drunk ... in fact, I was drinking from a bottle of water I filled up before I left school.
The problem is, while taking a gulp of water from that nice, cool bottle on a rather warm day, I hit a pothole. That caused water to go down the wrong pipe, which caused a coughing fit!
I couldn't stop coughing. It came to me that I should put the bottle down and park to clear my airway ... and the next thing I know, the bottle is no longer in my hands, having fallen to the floor of the car -- after first depositing its contents in my lap along the way ... and worse, I was in the wrong lane, heading straight for a truck!!
Somehow, I had stopped coughing, so I pulled over into my lane, and parked the car for a bit to assess my situation: Wet car seat, wet pants, and worse, my bottle of water was empty!
Then I replayed the last few moments of what just happened in my mind, and I think I must've blacked out for a second -- just long enough to let myself relax and clear my airway so I could breathe again.
I've either got my own personal guardian angel ...
... or *SOMEBODY* knew what was waiting for me in my In box when I got home ... which was a message from somebody "In the Know" about the new IT writer!
So first, a BIG THANKS to whoever or whatever it was that allowed me to survive my Drinkin' and Drivin' blunder ... and another BIG THANKS to my new anonymous source (whom I will call "Deep Blue") for his/her input.
And, speaking of which, scroll down to the bottom of the 18JUL10 Update ... or better yet, click here.
New Writer Alert ....?!
I recently received an e-mail from a (relatively) new reporter and long time reader of ol' Cheap and Sleazy whom I will call "Harold;" (and he knows why!). Harold told me a fascinating tale about how he was attending his first CR convention in Texas, and was ready to pull the trigger and buy himself a new writer:
I spent time at every vendor's booth: Stenograph, Eclipse, Gemini, and Lightspeed. And I tried every machine I could touch. I adjusted and fiddled and tweaked and pondered what machine would fit my personal "lust," but I couldn't decide. I felt I should sleep on it and come back Saturday and make the biggest purchase of my new career.
I was in the exhibit hall Saturday afternoon ready to make my purchase, and I happened to be standing near Stenograph's booth, when somebody mentioned something new was about to come out. They mentioned a website called "Infinitytraditional.com" which I had never heard about, hadn't read about, and hadn't seen on your site, but what they were talking about sounded like a new writer to me.
As you might guess, that got the ol' antennas standing up again --
-- so I stopped reading right there and went to the site, and was faced with a login page! :o(
I tried a couple things half-heartedly, but no joy, so I went back to "Harold's" letter.
At this point what is a guy supposed to do? Now I had a major decision to make: buy now or figure out what they were talking about. Being a curious fellow, I decided I'd go home and check it out before I spent that much money. I didn't want to spend thousands of dollars and have a newer, better writer come out right after such an important purchase.
When I first went to the Infinitytraditional.com site, it just had an "under construction" logo on it, so I thought I would just keep checking back. And, then, about a month ago, it changed, and now there was a password when you go to the site, just like you will see it now. And while I am not a computer dunce, by any means, I am not a computer genius, so I had no idea how to break a password. I tried basic stuff: Admin, administrator, webmaster, et cetera, with and without basic passwords. I had no idea how to access the site, so I was stuck again.
Yes, that's pretty much what I did, with the same results! But "Harold" had another brainstorm:
Just last Monday I had to buy a new wireless router for my house, and the setup user password for that was ?admin? and ?1234? which I hadn't tried that combination yet. I thought I'd give the Infinitytraditional.com site one last try. And lo and behold, IT WORKED!
Anyway this thing looks absolutely incredible. It is, by far, smaller, lighter, and the site says it's more adjustable than anything else on the market. If you look at the gallery, you can see it compared to other writers: Diamante, Passport, and 8000LX. So unless this is some big hoax, I am super excited and want one badly, anybody willing to step outside of the box has my business.
Wow, thanks for that e-mail, "Harold!"
My first impressions are it looks a lot like that Continental Diamante (see the 19JUN10 Update), which suggested a French or Canadian company is behind Infinity Traditional ... so I put Geek Tools' WhoIs tool to use, and sure enough, all the street addresses point to Toronto.
I sent a quick e-mail to Rachel Rosenberg, web meistress of the now missing-in-action Word Goddess.com website to see if she has heard anything, but have yet to hear back (though in Rachel's defense, I literally *just* sent that e-mail about a minute ago as I write this).
I also asked about the status of her website! Hope she's just doing a site redesign or something.
So. Back to that new writer. Here are the specs:
• Weight: 3.5 pounds
• 8 GB of onboard storage
• Four electronic backups: Three internal memory cards at 4GB each, expandable to 32GB, plus one non-upgradeable internal memory module (presumably 8GB; page is not clear)
• 7-inch touch screen (LCD)
• Tiltable and twistable LCD screen: Folds completely forward to cover the keys, and completely backwards if necessary to place the writer under a desk, and can twist up to 15 degrees in either direction; great to elminate glare.
• Includes Auto Dim - Auto Brighten technology
• Stroke depth goes from 2.5mm to over 20mm with 15 unique positions. "This range is far larger than any other writer."
• Tension adjustment goes from the ultra-light touch to the heaviest touch.
• Ten unique colors
• "All I.T. writers have our patent pending baseline tool and automatic key adjustment algorithms, giving the I.T. the most advanced and accurate writing possible, eliminating stacking, dragging, and dropping to the greatest degree ever realized.
• Completely upgradeable: Start with the student version (no LCD, less memory, etc.) and upgrade piece by pice to the fully professional model.
If all student writers were upgradeable to professional levels like the I.T. writer appears to be, I would recommend that students buy student writers in a nanosecond.
"How Small Is It?"
It's so small, that even the mice are hunchbacked!
(Boy, tough room!)
Here ya go:
Here's the IT in a small sachel bag for size comparison:
Here's the sachel bag again, this time with an 8000LX in it:
Alas, there is no price listed, just a dollar sign with a few X's -- like so: $XXX.xx
If the number of X's are accurate, we're talking about $999.99 at the most -- BUT that price would most likely be for the bare-bones model.
This one will be worth keeping an eye on!
Were You one of the IT Beta Testers?
If you're not under a non-disclosure agreement or something, do not hesitate to shoot me an e-mail! Your impressions would be a valuable addition to this update!
"Deep Blue" expressed some surprise at seeing the pictures of the writer on ol' Cheap and Sleazy. My anonymous source identified themselves as one of the early testers of the writer, and said they all had to sign strict NDAs (that's "Non-Disclosure Agreement" for those of you who don't live in states with lots of high tech companies, where the term is heard often in depositions). S/he assumed everyone had signed a similar NDA; hence the surprise.
That said, Deep Blue wanted to clear up a few points about the I.T. writer:
I have seen, touched, adjusted, and used the I.T. writer. It is indescribable. The touch is just right. I don't feel like I am pounding on the keys or that it is too light that I am going to float away. But of course that is totally customizable.
The size is really as pictured. It is small enough to fit into the Coach purse that is shown. However, even though it is small, the keys are the same size that they have always been! The machine has lost that clunky size that is apparently unnecessary. And it is LIGHT and works with my regular tripod!!
Even though all of that seems to be great, that is not even the best part of this writer. It's the intelligence and adjustability part.
When you first get the writer you put it though a configuration tool that allows you to set a baseline (a kind of standard of how you as an individual write). This gives the writer the ability to then adapt to your writing style as part of its programming. So if you are weak on, say, your final G, the writer adapts to that without you needing to lift the lid and try and figure out where to make the adjustment and how much to adjust and then do it all over again until you get it right. And if the writer misses something small, then you can go manually adjust it via the electronic key interface tools, on the outside of the writer or on the screen, and make very slight adjustments. There are no physical tools required, no Allen wrenches or screwdrivers or whatever other stupid things I have had to carry in my bag and constantly lose amongst the exhibit stickers. It cleans up writing so well that I am confident I will pass the CRR with it.
You are going to love the screen that is on this writer. The quality and contrast and the way you see things is better than any writer I have seen in over 15 years, and it?s just controlled with your finger or back of you pen. You don't even need to have a stylus or anything like that -- which I always lose anyway.
In terms of pricing, I have not been told a specific price, but I was told it would be highly competitive with the other writers on the market.
And I assure you, this is not a Canadian company with this writer.
As you might guess, I sent an answer to Deep Blue pretty quickly. I asked about noise level, the configuration tool, the display, connectivity methods, communications protocols (you know, how the writer talks to your CAT software) and the all-important, will the writer be at the convention in Chicago next month!
The I.T. is really a very quiet writer. I think it is quieter than my current or past writers. It's really nice to have something so quiet.
Excellent! Any idea what sort of mechanics are under the hood? -- that is, have you seen the mechanics/electronics? ... and how does that compare with other writers you've owned/used?
Mechanics: It has arms and keys but as far as what is under the hood, it doesn't open so I can't speak to that.
I was told at one point that is has four or five processors in it, but I can't tell you too much more sorry.
The configuration tool that I mentioned that "learns" your writing style to adjust your writer settings can be done either on the writer, if you get the one with the screen, or done on a PC. I guess it would depend on your needs, but they seem to have thought that through already.
About how long does the software take to learn one's style?
In terms of learning a style, once you go through the config tool, about one to two hours plus the initial writing session. I would say it is pretty well set. I don't think it takes long at all. Very fast.
As you might guess, I was curious about the display, and, after chatting with Chris Mitchell, my Mac Pusher at the Seattle branch of RePC about how he finally broke down and bought himself an iPhone and couldn't see the display in direct sunlight, I asked Deep Blue if the I.T. writer had similar problems:
And as far as the writer's screen, I noticed that the screen does auto dim or get brighter depending on the room's conditions.
I have been in some conference rooms with poor lighting and the screen was just fine. I have yet to use it in direct sunlight for an outdoor dep but I would imagine the screen would be fine and adjust accordingly.
I asked, Do you still have the writer? The whole sunlight thing should be an easy test!
The screen is comparable to my laptop in direct sunlight. It?s readable, but with the way the screen tilts and twists. They have given you the ability to move it to the optimum angle, unlike my laptop which I have to physically shift. I don't think they ever intended the machine to be used on a beach. The mini LCD looks great, however.
The writer does connect with serial, USB, or BT and all were included. I liked having all those options available to me. And when I tried it, I used it with both CASE and Eclipse and did not have any problems. I was told that it will work on every CAT software.
Sounds good! What about that price?!
As far as the price goes, I have not been told what the price will be when they release it. (I wish I knew!)
I asked, Did you test all of the connection options? Deep Blue answered:
Yes, all of the options worked.
I did test the serial with a usb to serial converter however since I don't have any serial ports.
I had speculated that the company was based in Canada, since that's where the WhoIs info pointed me to, but s/he dispelled that idea in the first message. This time out, s/he wrote:
I don't think they were trying to misdirect people with their site. I think it's just simply in the Alpha and Beta testing stages so it is still very private. I haven't told them that I saw it on your site. I am sure they will figure it out though. I'm still kind of surprised someone told you about it given our NDAs.
As for Chicago, well .....
I don't know if they are going to unveil it at the annual convention. Based on what I last heard, it didn't sound like it, but then again, I wasn't told anything directly.
Not entirely bad news: They might be at the convention, but it's iffy. So, if you happen to be going to Chicago next month and you have a camera or two, look for the I.T. Writer! More pictures are always Good!
Oh, and if you can get the impressions of others testing the writer as well (not to mention your thoughts about your own hands-on time with the writer), so much the better!