Some will remember that in 2019 I put together a list of associations that offer mentoring. I now took the time to create a list of New York court reporting agencies and their office locations. Generally I erred on the side of inclusivity and pulled names and numbers mindlessly off Google. Please feel free to let me know about more firms that have New York coverage. I envision this as a resource for students and working reporters. Back when I was in school, we tended to gravitate towards a very limited selection of agencies, and it was probably to the detriment of some of us. Here’s the list. It’s available to share or download. You cannot edit my master copy, but you can edit any copy you create.
I put aside my personal feelings and included anything that came up as advertising court reporting services. Some entries on there are not stenographic-reporter friendly. Hope springs eternal that they’ll change their tune and embrace the unmatchable efficiency of stenographic reporting. Great example, stenographic reporting could probably bring up Cutting Edge Deposition’s rating from 1 star to 5. Our stenographic reporters across the state are going to be competing directly with the businesses that don’t use steno, and this is really a golden chance for those businesses to turn things around. Regardless of how that goes, let this stand as a reminder to students how valuable your skills really are. There would not be over 200 offices for over 150 businesses across the state if there was not money there. The vast majority of these are stenographic reporting agencies or utilize primarily stenographic reporters. Hone your skills and get ready for a bright future not only in the courts, but in freelance and the private sector.
Also a tip for students, if someone says they can’t afford XYZ but they have 9 different offices, they might be pulling your leg.
Interesting trivia, Southern District Reporters is actually a corporation for the officials of the United States District Court, Southern District of New York. Last I checked, you need Eclipse to work there. I’ve heard great things.
If you want to learn about parts for a new system, read the beginning. If you want to troubleshoot your current system, scroll down to “But I want to troubleshoot on my current system.”
TLDR: RAM is extremely important for our work.
Windows users, in today’s world of remote reporting and computing confusion it can help a little bit to have a simple guide on what you’re looking at when you’re buying a computer. If you’ve got a system you’re comfortable with, this one is NOT FOR YOU. For everybody else, let’s break things down into simple. If you’ve got a friend who has trouble with computers, this might help them with their shopping choices.
When you go to buy a computer, you’ll probably end up on a screen like this:
And then you’re probably going to end up clicking one of these and ending up on a screen like this. Remember, when buying a computer, the specifications tab is YOUR FRIEND.
In this particular listing, we luck out, because a lot of the specifications are also posted right at the top. Sometimes this is not the case. In this particular listing, we are also allowed to customize our specifications (specs) a little bit. Please note, this is being given as an example and not an endorsement of any site, product, or company. One of the first things you want to answer: Does the operating system fit the programs I want on the computer? This can include things like your printer. As an example, if a printer has been made to work specifically with Windows and has no Chrome driver, it might be extremely difficult or impossible to make it work with Chrome. In computers, a driver is computer code or software that helps the computer know what to do with hardware. Software is the code, apps, and programs on your computer. Hardware is the physical equipment. This is why you need to install the driver for your steno machine every time you get a new system. The driver is software teaching the computer what to do with the steno machine’s stuff. Some examples: Your steno machine is hardware. Your mouse is hardware. Your keyboard is hardware. Your operating system is software.
For figuring out whether a computer is going to work with the program you want, you should always pull up the program’s minimum specifications. Let’s pull up the minimum specifications for CaseCAT in this example. In this image are a bunch of red arrows and red text. I’m going to repeat everything below the image for easier reading.
Operating System. Also called OS. This is the foundation of the computer and what everything else is running from or on. Some common operating systems are Windows, Linux, Mac, and Chrome. Most stenographic tech is made to run off of Windows. It is possible to partition computers and run two operating systems, but we’re here to keep it simple.
Processor. Also called CPU. How fast your computer figures out stuff. We’re taking down words and that doesn’t require very fast processing speeds normally. If you’re concerned about processing speeds, get a “dual core.” This allows the computer to process multiple things at once. Note that Zoom’s minimum requirement is a dual core 2 GHZ requirement. If you want to run Zoom and stenographic tech on the same system, you probably want a dual core processor with more than 2 GHZ or a quad core processor.
RAM, also referred to as memory. Random Access Memory. This is where the computer stores information about programs you have open. This should not be confused with hard drive “memory.” It is always a smaller number like 2GB, 4GB, 8 GB, or 16 GB. If your computer is freezing, it’s probably because it’s out of RAM! Note that the minimum for Zoom is 4 GB, so if you want to run stenographic tech and Zoom on the same system, you probably want 8GB or 16 GB of RAM.
Hard Drive, sometimes referred to as memory. Almost always a big number like 256 GB, 512 GB, or 1 TB (~1000GB). This is how much stuff your computer can save. Many people believe that having too much stuff saved on the computer slows it down. This is usually not true. People get confused between hard drive memory and RAM memory. Most of the time your computer is slow because it’s having RAM issues. If the hard drive is almost completely full and you continue trying to save things, you might lose data. Try not to let your hard drive get completely full. Please note that despite all I just wrote, hard drives inside the computer (connected by something called SATA, SSD, etc.) are always faster than hard drives that are plugged in by USB. Programs you run often or files you open often should be installed on the hard drive inside your computer and not a USB hard drive or flash drive.
Video Card. Often referred to as GPU or graphics processing unit. Stenographic tech works on very old video cards. This is probably low on your priority list. Same for audio and your monitor. If you intend to use a computer for gaming or rendering graphics, you want a good video card.
When you’re looking at getting a new system, your biggest considerations are the operating system, the RAM, and the hard drive space. If you are going to be using the computer to run Zoom, you also want to check those minimum requirements. If you are going to be running Zoom and your stenographic software on the same computer, you want to be better than minimum requirements.
To wrap things up, this $399 desktop computer in this example appears to be a great work computer. Correct operating system, 8 GB RAM, good processor, lots of hard drive space. When you buy a laptop it’s often more expensive because you’re paying for the convenience of mobility. If you are looking for value and do most of your work from one location a desktop is usually superior value; you will often get better computer parts for a lower price as compared to a laptop. Be cautious with regard to netbooks. Some of them have very low RAM or processing power, and may or may not be suitable for our work.
My personal feelings? Brand hardly matters. It’s all about those numbers. You want lots of RAM and a dual or quad core processor.
“But I want to troubleshoot problems on my current system.“
I’ve got something for you. In Windows there are a few ways to check what’s going on in your computer. You can pull your system information by using your search bar. Using everything we just talked about, let’s see if we can identify the important parts.
Remember, Operating System, Processor, RAM. By knowing what system you’re running on today, you can figure out where your problem is. This computer has 32 GB of RAM. That means I can have a lot of stuff open before it freezes on me. If you’re having freezing problems, what can you do?
First, open your task manager. You can do this by using CTRL + ALT + DELETE and opening the task manager, or going to “run” and opening taskmgr.
CTRL ALT DELETE:
Whatever you do, you end up at a screen that looks kind of like this:
This screen is very important because it can tell you what is taking up all your RAM or Memory. Remember, this computer is running 32 GB RAM and 20 percent of it is in use while I’m working on Microsoft Teams without CaseCAT open. That’s almost 7 GB of RAM. If I had an 8 GB RAM computer, it would be incredibly close to freezing!
What can we learn from this? If you are working and you have Chrome or an internet browser open, you might be using RAM that your computer needs to run CaseCAT, Zoom, etc.
Facebooking taking up your RAM? Right click and end task!Don’t let online shopping bust your zepo/depo/court/CART/comp!
Final note. Computers, printers, and other devices generally work by running electricity through the parts on and off to produce the result we want. If you are having a problem with your computer or another device and cannot figure out the reason, power it down completely. Unplug it if you have to. Sometimes these electrical charges get caught in a “bad loop” and cause glitches or errors that simply cannot be troubleshooted. When you power down your device, you stop the electricity running through it, and break the “bad loop.” This is why the first line of tech support is always “did you try turning it off and then on again?”
Nobody is born knowing about computers, so if you don’t know something, ask. It’s a lot better than buying something that doesn’t work for you.
PS. Stenonymous runs ad free to keep your reading experience pleasurable. If you find the articles here helpful or informational, please consider donating. With over 8,000 visitors and 13,000 views a year, this site could run ad free for over a decade if everyone contributed just one dollar. I could also afford more ad campaigns for articles and/or hire guest writers and investigators for better article quality. If you don’t want to donate to my blog, then at least shoot over some suggestions for my Resource Page. You can contact me at Chris@Stenonymous.com, assuming I didn’t break that again. If you haven’t been to my resource page, check it out. It’s one of the few ways I have of platforming others’ work.
ATTENTION WINDOWS USERS: Click and play version here. NO INSTALLATION REQUIRED. Download the .zip, unzip it, and double click the .exe.
After a bit of reflection on the best way to handle this, I’ve written a free computer program to help create finger or word drills for students and educators. The program has about 10 preset lists and allows you to create and load your own custom finger drills.
Change that .txt to a .py. Double left click and the program will launch.
The black box will give you a series of 13 numbers and their corresponding “drill list.” You can enter the number of the category you want, or create your own custom list. At this time, custom lists only work properly if you use single words.
Once you’ve chosen a category or created a list, you choose the wpm and number of minutes. The program will then create a text file by multiplying wpm * minutes. AKA, 225 wpm * 10 minutes is like 2,000 words. If you enter a very large number here, it may cause problems, like a computer freeze. I would not advise entering more than 300 wpm for more than 300 minutes (90,000 words). As a matter of fact, do not do it.
Having a finger drill by itself is useless. You can use my transcript marker or Todd Olivas’s slasher to automatically mark the program for speed dictation.
If you support projects like this, feel free to show it by buying a Sad Iron Stenographer Mug, donating, sharing this post, or suggesting questions to increase the variation in mock tests.
I’ve created a computer program that chooses preselected questions at random and creates a WKT-style test. It also creates an answer key. It uses .txt format so pretty much every computer since Windows 95 can run it. Note that for all of this stuff you should use a laptop or desktop. Using a mobile phone will make using these materials much harder. The program will change the numeral of each question every time, as well as randomize whether its answer is A, B, C, or D.
Basically, take a practice test or two, see how well you do, and if you see things you don’t know, look them up. You’ll be doing yourself a huge favor for your next written-knowledge style test.
See my previous comments on studying for legal and medical terminology.
If you don’t like video tutorials, try the following:
Download and install Python 3. It probably won’t matter if it’s 3.6, or 3.7.
Go to the code for my computer program. Copy and paste it into a notepad file. If you are confused, the computer program is the text labeled 001 WKT Generator v1.py.
Save the notepad file and close it. You can name it anything. I suggest you call it ChrisDayIsAnnoying.
Change the .txt that you just saved to a .py. Read this if you do not know how to show file extensions or do not see .txt.
Now you have a .py file. It’ll look something like ChrisDayIsAnnoying.py. Take that .py file and stick it in a folder by itself. You don’t have to, but it’ll make your life easier.
Double click the .py file, or right click it and run/open it. It’s going to come up with a black box, say some words, and then you’re going to press enter, and the box is going to go away.
When the box goes away, in the folder with your .py file will be two files, Mock Test.txt and Answer Key.txt. You now have a random mock test and its answer key,
Special note, if you intend to run the program again, you must change the name of the Mock Test and Answer Key. The program creates a new Mock Test.txt and Answer Key.txt every time, and it will overwrite any files that have the same exact name as Mock Test..txt and Answer Key.txt.
The other day on Facebook I came across some rather honest remarks about the upcoming NYSCRA social. They said hey, Diamond Reporting has been depressing our rates for a while, how are we supposed to feel with their names on this event?
Let’s just say we have touched on the fact that sponsors of events do not control the event. The working reporter controls the NYSCRA leadership, and when you sign up as a member you become a part of the decision-making process.
This blog is all about the working reporter. By the time I’m done with it, I’ll have figured out how to organize the dozens of posts a bit better and the 200 or so monthly readers will have an easier time finding information. That said, it’s time to talk less about Stenonymous and more about you.
You matter. I did the math on it. Think of anything you want to legislate in New York. Stenographers in the courts? Bring back the Workers Comp stenographers? Copy protection since courts often rule our transcripts are not copyright protected? This is all done with funding, representation, and grassroots action. Lobbying is expensive and can cost 5,000 to 50,000 a month. In a six-month New York legislative session that might be 30,000 to 300,000 dollars a year. Seems impossible, right? But let’s use some easy numbers. There are 1,300 reporters on the NYSCRA Facebook page. If 500 of those reporters (38 percent) donated 100 bucks a year, which is less than the $165 annual membership, NYSCRA would have a lobbying war chest of 50,000 a year cash. In only two years, NYSCRA would have the cash for a $100,000 lobbying campaign. What could we do with a biannual lobbying campaign of 100k? Even assuming we fail half of all campaigns for ten years, that’s 2 or 3 successful campaigns. Between playing political Powerball and grassroots action, we have a serious shot at making a difference. For a C-note a year and a letter or two when there’s a campaign on, January to June, you’re looking at bolstering your field, securing your job, and protecting all of your fellow stenographers.
And I’m not saying 100 a year is easy to give up. I’ve given up thousands of dollars in membership fees and donations to organizations over the years. I’ve felt the sting of putting down money I didn’t necessarily have. I felt the pain when the Workers Comp campaigns failed. It cost a lot of good people their job and made those that kept the job miserable. I know a lot of you reading felt what I felt. I know a lot of you reading had to do more than feel it. Some of you had to live it. But there are two options: Suffer through the defeats so that we might see victory, or put our heads in the sand and wait for the next big thing to come around and threaten our jobs.
There’s a lot to say for the human factor. Machines don’t vote. Politicians will side with stenographers when they learn how many stenographers they represent. But the bottom line is we have to put together resources to educate them. To do that, you matter.
Once upon a time, and still from time to time, I poke fun at typos, errors, or omissions in various forms of media including newspapers, news articles, and blog posts. Having come to a point where I write my own blog, I see how fast the typos can pile up. When I wrote primarily on my PC and made specific time to write, my posts were generally very clean. Now that I’m hooked up on mobile and find myself writing any time I have time, I see that mistakes are quite common. Periods go missing, commas get misplaced, text gets accidentally deleted, header scripts get added to paragraph text.
I need to ask a favor of every reader now that the blog is approaching a good 400 views a month or more: Let me know when I have made a mistake. Laugh about it. Post jokes publicly or privately. Do what you have to do to make yourself feel better, but let me know that there’s an error so that it can be fixed.
In return, I do and will continue to practice what I preach and gently let publications know when there are errors. I will do my best to read all criticisms and correct things I feel warrant correction. The rationale here is simple: We may disagree with each other’s views or philosophy, but it is intellectually dishonest to point at a spelling/grammar mistake and say that makes someone less of a reporter, writer, or truth teller. We protect the collective record, so to speak, when we speak up and let each other know there’s a mistake or a goof.
There’s a time and place for castigation of people who needlessly and carelessly make mistakes. For everyone else, there’s a road to improvement and a way forward, and it reflects positively on every reporter when we encourage others to do better.