I have previously written about free computer programs I’ve created, like the transcript marker, finger drill generator, and written knowledge test randomizer. Please be aware they are all now programmed to be download and double click programs with no installation required on Windows. These are simple creations with an eye towards making the work that educators have to do to create material go down. As quick examples, the transcript marker, like Todd Olivas’s marker, can automatically mark very large dictations instantly for any speed. The finger drill generator can give you instant randomized text files of words, as well as create and load your own custom finger drill lists. The written knowledge test randomizer creates random written knowledge tests with a focus on helping people with the New York court test, which has portions dedicated to spelling, grammar, medical, legal, and technical terms.
So I had come to a very somber realization. I can continue to create these programs and leave them piecemeal on the blog, but that can make for a very confusing experience, and any time that I update them, I have to manually go in and fix all of the links that link back to them. So then it occurred to me, perhaps the best thing to do is to combine all of these simple programs into one master program that a person can run and use at will, and when I update, it can be seamlessly through that one program.
Truth be told, that’s the direction I’m headed with that, and there’s very little that’ll dissuade me there. That said, before I release such a thing, I am planning to add a new program to the mix. I want to design a Q&A Generator. One major issue we come into when designing dictation is that often stenographers are unwilling or obligated not to give up their transcripts. Another issue is that edited or otherwise fictionalized transcripts are protected by copyright as expressive matter, even though original verbatim transcripts are often without any protection. For example, if you create an awesome Q&A, I technically don’t have the rights to take that and republish it — and if I do, I am risking you taking action against me. Most of us aren’t that litigious, but the reality I find is that there’s always “that person.”
That’s where this new program can come in. I think I can create a computer program that will randomly choose traits of different people involved in the case, or descriptions of items or witnesses, and then create a narrative around that. Think about your average 5-minute take. Let’s assume that’s in the ballpark of 10 pages or 125 questions, 125 answers. Now imagine if every time you run the program, it might say something different. Is it a car accident? Maybe the vehicle was a Honda, a Toyota, A Buick? Maybe the light was red, or yellow, or green. Maybe the witness was hit in the front or the back of the vehicle. You may be able to picture it in your mind: If there are 250 random lines, and every line has a few different things it could be every time, you’re looking at potentially millions of variations of Q&A. How many dictations, realistically, does a student need to become a stenographer? Is it 10,000? 20,000? 30,000? This is the opportunity to create random dictation at every educator and student’s fingertips, and enough of it that one would never run out of material. The only work that’ll be left to do is the marking and voicing of the dictation.
Succinctly, I always look for feedback from my stenographer, educator, and anonymous friends. I am interested in hearing what you have to say, things that you’ve done in the past to challenge students, or things that you would insert into a good Q&A or think is useful in this endeavor. So as I quietly continue this work behind the scenes, I encourage you to reach out with your thoughts to me at ChristopherDay227@gmail.com.
Thank you, as always, to the hundreds of readers that come through every month. Your participation in the field, awareness, and willingness to be in the picture makes all the difference. So many around the country are taking part in serious initiatives, educating the legal field and its leaders about stenography, seizing moments to come together and educate students and fellow reporters, reinforcing the field through projects like NCRA STRONG, and generally standing up for your fellow professionals. It’s the combined efforts of everyone, from dedicated blogs like Cheap & Sleazy to Steno Stars like Rich Germosen or Matt Moss that’ll make sure that stenography remains the preferred modality for taking the record, and that stenographers continue to be the premier choice for the legal community in taking down proceedings. Between the leaders leading and the workers making this skill shine every day, we have all but guaranteed a bright future for steno, and can make steps to recover lost ground in the industry. It is impossible to properly thank everyone at work in preserving this field, but know that its continued vibrancy is because of you.