Stenonymous Suite: Early Version

I wrote some time ago about how I wanted to combine all my steno-related computer coding into one thing so that I could troubleshoot one thing instead of keeping track of multiple projects. This early version of the  Stenonymous Suite contains the WKT test generator, the finger drill generator, something I call a streamer, that streams the text you tell it to stream at the rate you tell it to stream, and it also automatically marks .txt files for dictation. As those of you who have manually marked dictation know, it can take upwards of 10 minutes per marking. This program will mark it in about one second, and has saved me over 15 hours of manually marking dictations.

If you are a stenographic educator or dictation enthusiast, this program is totally free and has no strings attached, but I am also willing to put it through the marker program for you at a rate of 25 cents per marking, $5 minimum.

Windows users, easy download exe here. Unzip the folder, click the StenonymousSuite.exe.

The code for the program is slapped up on here.

 

How To Create Timed Dictation

There are various types of learners. Some like to see things in print. Some like to watch videos. I’m a one-man shop, and can’t tailor everything to every learning type, but I do make it a point to try to be accessible and offer multiple solutions to a thing. I’ve got a video on this topic, but it makes good sense to have written instructions.

It’s easy. Take the WPM you want to mark. Let’s say 40 WPM. Divide that by 4. That gives you how many words you need to say every 15 seconds to hit 40 WPM. Often we indicate the 15-second markers with some kind of indicator, like slash marks ( // ), either manually or automatically. Then we read back the dictation, and every 15 seconds, make sure we hit the slash mark. Just keep in mind that this is for word count only. Standard dictation has an average syllabic density of 1.5 syllables. So a marked dictation for word count, for a 40 WPM should look something like the example below:

“There are several things that we must remind ourselves //from time to time.
Succinctly, we must remember that in //a great state like New York the right of the //jury trial is not absolute. In New York City a //person charged with a B misdemeanor can be forced to //trial by judge as opposed to trial by jury. This //trial by a judge is also called a bench trial.
//This can be confusing for a layperson like myself because //we are taught that in America a person must be //found guilty by a jury of his or her peers //before he or she may be convicted of a crime. //There’s no shame in holding this belief, as Article III //of the American constitution and the Sixth Amendment suggest that //one must be tried by a jury.
The Supreme Court //of the United States decided that the right to a //jury trial only pertains to serious crimes. Serious crimes are //defined in terms of jail exposure. If the potential jail //time is six months or less, a crime is not //serious and so does not need to be tried by //jury.

Even more fascinating is that the jail time is //looked at per offense. So if someone is charged with //and convicted of 21 B misdemeanors and sentenced consecutively as //opposed to concurrently, that person could theoretically go to jail //for 10 years without a trial by jury.

I think //that the best way to find out what the American //public think of this concept is to publicize it. Obviously, //all of this information is available publicly and can be //found easily in an internet age. The problem with nearly //infinite knowledge is that we take it for granted and //don’t challenge our beliefs to see how accurate or inaccurate //they may be.

As I said before, from time to //time, you should remind yourself that there are things that //you may believe or take for granted that are not //true, or not completely true. Ignorance certainly has its place //in life, and we cannot always search for every answer //all the time, but it is worthwhile, from an academic //and philosophical perspective, to question.

Question yourself. Question what you //believe. When you’re finished questioning all of that, question it //again. Great things can come from an inquiring, honest mind. //One does not need to be a genius in order //to innovate. One need only be reliable, persistent, and considerate //to become an agent of change in the local, state, //national, or even international communities.”

It’s really that simple. With a little time and effort, anyone can do it.

Steno Speed and the Youtube Angle

Going back a couple of years ago, if you YouTube’d stenography, you’d get pen shorthand reporting from India. Happy to report that that paradigm is taking a hard shift. Today, at the top of the list is Stan Sakai’s Quick and Dirty Steno, with over a quarter of a million views. You’ve got way more than that, though. Today you’ve got Ken Wick’s court reporting videos, Katiana Walton’s podcasts, and content from tons of other creators new and old. Bottom line is American stenography and stenotype machine shorthand reporting is expanding its online presence in a big way. There’s also always been a healthy presence for stenography off of YouTube, including favorites like Mark Kislingbury, Mirabai Knight, or Marc Greenberg.

So many of these content creators are on my resource page, and I encourage professionals and students to write and comment if there’s a resource, blog, or content that you think should get added there. If you’re a content creator who’s like, “damn, why am I not mentioned anywhere on Stenonymous?” All I can say is the chance of that being intentional is pretty low. That all said, we’re pushing further along on the YouTube-Steno front. As some know, I have been working on my own YouTube channel in my spare time. There’s a multi-pronged goal of creating free resources for students so that they can have dictation available even when they cannot afford the amazing premium services out there and also introducing the idea of stenography to anybody who happens to stumble across a video of mine. Thanks to the generosity of Linda Fisher from StenoSpeed.com, down as of writing, I’m able to add over a hundred dictations to my YouTube. These dictations helped me very much as a student, they were free prior to StenoSpeed.com going down, and I am happy to put it in writing: They will be available and free once again. Simply go over to my playlists and look for the playlists marked STENO SPEED.

As of posting, these videos are still being worked on. Expect all Steno Speed audio to be posted by August 4, 2019. A great deal is already up, so don’t hesitate to spread the news and keep sharing resources together.

To anybody thinking of jumping into the mix of content creation, I recommend it. This is a vibrant field with a very loyal audience and a lot of people out there who just might need to read what you write, hear what you have to say, or watch how you do it!

Live Steno 4U Review by Joshua Edwards

Below is a mostly unedited review of Live Steno 4 U by Joshua Edwards. I will say that I’m glad to have this firsthand review on Stenonymous and would love to see more people write in about things they use or experience.

Joshua has posting privileges here at Stenonymous and we welcome people to engage, but for now, I’m simply posting it on his behalf:

“Hello fellow reporters, I am pleased to recommend this live steno dictation website:  livesteno4u.com.  The owners host a three-hour session live every Tuesday evening.  (They’re in California and it starts at 6pm their time/9pm ET, so I stayed on for the first two hours.)  I figured let me sign up and give it a try.  I was impressed with the whole experience, beginning with the message on their website which says, “Two ingredients are vital to success:  long hours of consistent, quality practice, and the guidance and support to keep you moving toward the finish line.”  That is so simple and cannot be overstated.

The session takes place on Zoom which is easy to use.  The material was well-prepared, structured, and sounded just like something you might hear in a deposition.  They started with lower-speed 2-voice dictation (170s), then pushed the speed up (200s), then brought it back down again.  The second hour, they read 4-voice courtroom dictation, going up to 225.  Even though I’m certified at 260, taking down a 225 still isn’t easy.  That reminded me that I have to focus intently and listen to each and every word and be able to write them automatically.

They had four live people on video playing the usual roles.  Everyone was easy to hear and understand.  I am impressed that they manage to bring four people together for three hours on a weekly basis, and also have fresh material timed and distributed.  And yes, they do readbacks, simulating the real world where you could be asked at any moment to repeat what was just said.  There are other features to the service, but these are just some highlights.

The pricing is extremely reasonable, but the value is tremendous.  I would recommend this for high-speed (at least 180-200) students who want extra practice, and also working reporters who want to brush up on their skills.   You can buy a single session or a package.  If it has been a long time since you’ve done an old-school dictation, you will be surprised how good it feels to put yourself back in that mindset.

Again, here is the website:  livesteno4u.com.

Warm regards,

— Joshua B. Edwards, RDR, CRR

Court Reporting Instructor/CART Provider

NYSCRA President-elect

NCRA mentor

USCRA associate member

“Committed to providing excellent realtime translation of the spoken word””

Typey Type Introduction

Hello readers. It’s come to my attention that someone in the Open Steno world created Typey Type. This is an interesting tool where users can do text-to-text practice similar to a typing game. If you use a traditional steno software (CaseCAT) then you should output your text so that you can type in the web box. If you use Plover, Plover pretty much automatically types in the web box. For professionals that are watching, you can also upload a spreadsheet of words and the corresponding stenographic notes, and they can be included as a lesson on Typey Type.

The program/website also has an option for the words to be spoken. I cannot seem to get that to work, but that may be an upcoming feature or a problem with my web settings as of writing.

I am a traditionally-trained stenographer and I believe in the power of formal schools and practice dictation to help people learn stenography, but I do support alternatives and I believe that this is an alternative that is worth a glance, particularly if you are a visual learner.

Do remember, though, that if you are training to be a court reporter, in the end it is paramount that you hear and take down the words, so any use of text-to-text training materials is probably best coupled with some kind of audio or dictation training.

Dictation Marking Program

Previously I wrote about my dictation-marking program. I had written it after listening to a friend and mentor talking about how many hours he’d spent marking dictations for reading. Fortunately, I am not the first to have this idea. Todd Olivas has a free and more intuitive program for use over here.

It is important for us to broadcast all of these options for steno educators and volunteers to help bring more dictation to more students. In my view, as of writing, we have some serious problems. There’s a resurgence of stenography in India. That’s not inherently bad, but what’s happened is that there are many more Indian stenographic resources popping up than there are English or American resources; this is probably making it harder for our students to find material, and any barrier to practice is unacceptable. Hopefully now that dictation can be marked quickly and freely we can see an uptick in the amount of content.

Transcript Marker

ATTENTION WINDOWS USERS: Click and play version here. Download and double click, NO installation required. Download the .zip, unzip it, and double click the .exe file inside.

With stenographic educators in mind I’ve created a program to mark .txt transcripts for speed dictation. It’s free. All that’s required is the user downloads Python 3 and keeps the .py file with the .txt they plan to mark. This is the link to the computer code.

A brief YouTube tutorial will be put up to assist users.

I later discovered that Todd Olivas has this exact same thing. It’s a little easier to use and embedded into his site. They do roughly the same thing.

A quick text tutorial for anyone that doesn’t want the hassle of the video:

  1. Download Python 3. Install it.
  2. Go to my computer code and copy and paste it into a notepad file. Save it as whatever name you want.
  3. Change the file extension from .txt to .py. Some operating systems hide file extensions. You’d have to uncheck hide known file extensions in your folder options.
  4. Stick the .py file in a folder by itself with the txt transcript you intend to mark just to make life easy.
  5. Run the .py file by double clicking it.
  6. Then it basically asks you the speed, the marker text you want to use, and the name of the file you want to mark. You have to be precise when typing these things in.
  7. It’ll mark the program instantly and I believe the program terminates itself. You’ll have a new marked .txt.

Please note, if you are good with computers, a modified version of this program exists that will let you create 23 marked transcripts instantly, 20 WPM to 240 WPM in 10 WPM steps or increments. You must name the transcript you want to mark r.txt.