Library of Congress Seeks Volunteer Transcribers

General announcement to anyone with a whole lot of free time and good will. The Library of Congress is seeking volunteer transcribers. I will probably take the time out to do at least one document and my fair share. It is a shame that they won’t or haven’t set aside a transcription budget for something so important, but for those that want to support this, it’s out there today.

Please note that signing up on a mobile phone is possible, but it seems their transcription is suited for a desktop or laptop.

Stenonymous Goes (Mostly) Ad Free!

We are happy to say we’ve upgraded the WordPress plan and you should see a lot less advertisement from random sources going forward. We were particularly annoyed by the ones that advertised stuff, namely all of them. Going forward, you should only see ads at the top or bottom of blog posts, instead of being inserted every five seconds at the whims of some magic algorithm.

The main page now has an e-mail subscription button. And now is a great time to subscribe, because the rate of postings will reduce while we work on site organization and article quality.

That said, if you’d like to support the free flow of information and site improvements, feel free to head over to the fundraising page and donate directly or buy a Sad Iron Stenographer mug!

On a more somber note, we’ve gotten an uptick of anonymous emails. We appreciate anything sent in, just know that on average we try to spin things into a positive message about moving forward. We appreciate all forms of humor, but won’t devolve into using this site to bully people or make accusations without evidence.

Last note: We promise every submission is read. Though we cannot create content for every single e-mail, we encourage the expression. One reader humorously challenged us to give instructions on how to like things on Facebook. We’re going to do it just to show some appreciation for the reader and celebrate fewer ads on the blog.

  1. First thing is first, you must watch this rendition of the Bear That Wasn’t.
  2. Take special note that it’s almost as good as the cartoon rerun that aired on Cartoon Network during the 90s.
  3. Then you get a cellphone or some other device with internet. Note that if you use a desktop computer, a mouse will make the whole ordeal way easier.
  4. Head over to Facebook and find a post you want to like, but probably something from Marc Greenberg or the Scire brothers.
  5. And then just click and/or tap like.

*EDIT 2/21/19

Notably the mobile view still seems to display ads smack in the middle of the page so serious consideration is going into turning them off entirely. You hate ads, I hate ads, we’re going to get them to behave or get the heck out.

Holding Companies Explanation

One of our readers reached out to me recently with a really interesting and important question. I took some time to answer the question personally but I’d really like to make sure everyone can be on the same page. In my experience, if one person has a question, ten people had the same question and didn’t ask it yet.

The reader asked: How can Diamond sponsor a NYSCRA event when they were bought by Veritext? Great question. Basically I would break it down like this: When you create a corporation, the state grants that corporation, or the corporation’s founder(s), stock or some form of ownership. When a company buys another company, it becomes a holding company or parent corporation. The company being bought is generally referred to as a subsidiary corporation.

So the subsidiary company still exists as its own company and is free to make its own choices as to what to support. The holding company technically has power over it, but doesn’t have to interfere with its day-to-day operations. The two companies both exist, at least until the holding company dissolves legally or the subsidiary company dissolves legally.

Notably, I have read that Veritext itself is owned by a private equity firm. That’s more or less a company that invests in companies and tries to flip them for profit or sell them out on an IPO, taking the stock from private to public ownership, and hopefully for them getting a payday on their investment and exiting.

I do not know if Diamond made the decision to sponsor the event independently or if Veritext gave them permission, but regardless, we’re always happy to see corporations put some time or money into stenography. As harsh as our opinions can be here on Stenonymous, we do acknowledge the value that corporations have and their place in industry. Many of them may yet show themselves to be huge allies, and hopefully every time they do readers will come out and say hey, you need to acknowledge XYZ. At the same time, we will not hold back from calling agencies out when they’re working against stenographers.

Thank you readers! You help me write with every question or correspondence. On that note, if you have information or documentation related to steno news, feel free to write me at ChristopherDay227@gmail.com.

NCRA just made a really awesome announcement, so look out for that article Monday!

Computer Coding Fun

Breaking from the traditional unending talk about stenography for a little bit of fun.

If you have Python on a Windows computer, you can download some simple text programs I made. I did not make Python, and you can get it from Python’s site. My programs won’t run without Python unfortunately.

When I initially made this post, I had 3 programs linked. What I decided to do was make a master program called Blade 2018. Blade is our little computer program buddy, and inside Blade 2018 is a calculator, two guessing games, a magic 8-ball, three lucky number generators, a dice roller, and a machine that says 100 nice things about you. From time to time, I may update Blade so that he can do more stuff, or to fix errors in his code.

Because of the way Dropbox works, you can see the coding of the files when you click these links. If you want to be surprised, it’s much better to just quietly download it and see what happens.

Honestly, I had written to Joshua Edwards some weeks ago when I was first reading about the bare basics of computer code. It can reteach us a valuable lesson. Garbage in, garbage out. If you do bad work, you get bad results. That reminder was worthwhile for me, and hopefully is for all reading.

Passive Learning versus Instant Gratification

Some weeks ago I had a conversation with a former educator turned Spanish interpreter. He had something quite remarkable to say. On my own failure to complete my Spanish language education years ago and really master the language, I said it sure would be nice to finish that now. He said, “well, couldn’t you?” Of course I had something boring to say like I couldn’t find the time. 

He told me that adults we often expect ourselves to get things right away. He said we get discouraged and stop learning. We resist learning because it’s difficult. And then he enlightened me: Children don’t learn that way. Children are passive learners. They listen and they ask questions. They learn little by little with no expectation that they’re going to know it all any time soon. So, for example, as opposed to taking classes or buying into a program, I could just turn on Spanish radio and listen, see what kinds of words and sounds I heard most often, how sentences were structured, and learn slowly.

I can’t promise I’ll complete my Spanish language education, but I can promise I was reminded of a simple topic I’ve touched on in Cultural Literacy. We must be willing to learn and adapt to meet our goals. If unwilling to look at things from different angles and make progress in whatever form, all we’re left with are lame excuses and unfinished projects.

(But really, I just can’t find the time!)

Hardware Ideas 2017

Get What You Pay For.

Nine times out of ten, I don’t believe that cost has anything to do with quality. That one time out of ten, I’m shopping for computer parts. We court report, which means we do word processing really fast, which means that we generally don’t need the fastest computers available. That said, many a reporter has lost a file or two to a poorly-made computer. I figure it’s worth having a brief rundown on the bare basics of technology and computer specifications, and what all the numbers mean. First thing first, a co-conspirator and friend of mine says that the Dell XPS 13 is good, so I guess I will recommend that.

My personal preferences? Much too much money for a laptop, especially if I’m not going to be gaming on that laptop, so you’d probably catch me buying something similar to this HP laptop with the pretty big screen.

Now that all that’s out of the way, let’s get down to some easy basics so every court reporter can have an idea of what to look for. If you’re feeling lucky, read about how to speed up your computer with MSCONFIG. If you already know the basics of computer parts, stop reading, you’ll be bored. Check out the specifications page of just about any reputable laptop seller, and it’ll have:

BRAND – That’s the manufacturer. I find this generally unimportant. Do a Google search and see if there’s any glaring reviews that might steer you away from a brand.

SERIES/MODEL/PART NUMBER – Again, run a Google search and make sure there’s no large scale recalls/refunds/problems.

OPERATING SYSTEM – You must ensure that the operating system you are getting is compatible with your CAT or transcription software. Check with the CAT or transcription software creator.

SCREEN – Size of your screen. This comes down to personal preference. Balance your need to see the words against the weight of the laptop you feel comfortable carrying.

CPU – The processor in the computer. Most processors these days are going to do just fine at processing words on a screen.

CPU SPEED – Usually a number like 2.00 GHz. Look up the CPU, see how many “cores” it has. Generally, the 2.00 GHz is multiplied by the number of cores it has. Computing evolved in the early 2000s. Originally, processor speeds were getting faster and faster and the GHz were getting to be more and more. Nowadays, there are usually more cores running at a lower speed. At least, this is my layman’s understanding. Again, generally, modern processors will always be fast enough for words on a screen.

MEMORY / RAM – This number is usually expressed in sets like 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB. Bottom line is the more RAM, the more your computer can run at one time. 4GB or 8GB generally means less chance of your computer freezing. In my opinion, you should be able to get along just fine with a 2GB laptop, but there is more potential for freezing if you open webpages or have other things running on the computer at the same time your CAT software is running.

STORAGE / HARD DRIVE – This is how much stuff you can have on the computer, plain and simple. This number is usually expressed in numbers like 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB. If you are working only with text files, you can get away with a really tiny hard drive. If you store audio, you are going to need a very large hard drive, or a large external hard drive to store audio files on. As an example, I think that the SD Card in my Diamante writer is 4GB or 8GB. If I store audio files on it, it’s full within weeks. If I store text files on it, it takes about a year to fill, and that’s only because the Steno X-Ray files are huge. If I didn’t store Steno X-Ray files on it, I could probably store my entire career on an SD card. My recommendation for a hard drive? Make it huge. 512GB or 1TB if you can afford it. It’s much easier to never run out of space than to run out of space and have to decide what to delete, especially if you are not currently computer literate.

GRAPHICS – Again, because we are working primarily with words on a screen, your graphics card should never be an issue. What you can do is check the minimum specifications of your CAT software, see if there is a graphics card recommendation or requirement, and check the graphics card you plan to buy against that recommendation.

Remember, if your CAT software uses a CD to install itself, you will need a CD drive or an external CD drive. Also, if some terrible fate should befall your computer, as long as it is not the click of death, remember that you can usually open up your system, retrieve the hard drive, and connect it to a new system so that you can save all your files. Keep magnets and liquids away from your work space and equipment. That’s all, folks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cultural Literacy

The Philosopher King.

Plato once surmised that evils would never cease until either philosophers became kings, or kings became philosophers. Aristotle disagreed, and in sum and substance countered that it was not merely unnecessary for a king to be a philosopher, but even a disadvantage. A king should listen to the advice of true philosophers. In doing so, he would fill his reign with good deeds, not merely good words.

We may apply such ideas to today’s world, and consider the various specializations that people have when we weigh their words against what we know or believe. I had the good fortune of having a discussion with a reporting educator months ago, and today I am reminded of the wise words that educator gave me. I came to that educator with a simple question: Would reporting students graduate faster if not required to complete prerequisites such as math or English? I was countered profoundly with the following answer: The educator felt that students were not deficient in math or English to a troublesome extent. Rather, the educator felt there was deficiency in civics, current events, and cultural literacy. The educator saw students as not only being deficient in those areas, but resistant to learning in those categories.

I was quite surprised. Though my actual question went unanswered, I was given a nugget of insight that no one else in seven years of reporting had ever given me. The education and subsequent career of a reporter can be hampered not by the layout or style of the education, but by the student’s resistance to learning. By closing our minds, we close doors on ourselves.

What can we do about this? Perhaps the answer is to explore and practice to a wider variety of dictation. Personally, I have always believed that the magic of our job is mastering the material we hear the most, and to that end, mindless repetition of the same words and phrases can be important. But then I am reminded of a recent RPR webinar and prep class with dictation by Joshua B. Edwards, where he read from a monologue wherein the speaker spoke about describing America in one word. Much to my surprise, at only maybe 150 to 180 words per minute, there was some difficulty in keeping up, because the verbiage was so wildly different from what I hear on a daily basis.

Needless to say, but I will say, I am inspired. I am strongly considering finding insightful and varied material in my spare time and dictating it at random and/or variable speeds. If it helps one person open their mind to a new concept or idea, that’s important. If it helps many, that’s even better. Keep an eye out at my Youtube channel for future updates.

Write Stenonymously

Contributions and Community.

One big need in reporting is a strong community. A forum where we might all be able to voice opinions and share ideas that might help the next person and be organized in such a way that people can find the information they need. There are tons of reporters, reporting students, and even non-reporters out there with so much to share. To that end, if you wish to contribute an article, it’s my understanding of this platform that we can do that. Write me over at ChristopherDay227@gmail.com, and I can hook you up with access to post or propose posts that I may then post under your name, whatever you choose your name to be for this site.

I do receive a lot of e-mails a day, so if for some reason I do not respond to you within a reasonable time, please do e-mail me again. Your time, your talent, and your attention is so important to me and every reader here, so don’t be too shy.