Stenonymous Suite and Q&A Generator (Concept)

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.

Written Knowledge Test Randomizer

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

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 hate computers, you can get 26 randomized tests here in a .zip folder.

If you want to use the program for yourself but don’t know how it works, check out my video tutorial here.

If you don’t like video tutorials, try the following:

  1. Download and install Python 3. It probably won’t matter if it’s 3.6, or 3.7.
  2. 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.
  3. Save the notepad file and close it. You can name it anything. I suggest you call it ChrisDayIsAnnoying.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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,
  8. 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.

Legal Terms Refresher For Test Takers

As I said in the medical refresher, there are times we as reporters must take written knowledge tests to show that we know a little about what we are reporting. This differentiates us from zombies!

Anyway, I was looking for something helpful for the June 29 test and the legal terminology likely to be on there. I learned that New York State’s Unified Court System publishes a very expansive legal glossary. You do not need to memorize this whole glossary, but it might be worthwhile to familiarize yourself with some terms that may very well appear on an employment test or RPR. Save up these links and make sure you take a glance at some of these before your test in June! Just note that because it’s a New York resource some things may be specific to New York.

Again, veterans may laugh, but there are certainly new reporters out there who won’t know at least one of the things on that glossary. Today isn’t about the veterans, it’s about people getting their dream job or cert!

From my past experiences in testing in this country, some things that may come up:

Voir dire – Means to speak the truth. Think jury selection. Sometimes voir dire examination is also used to question the authenticity of a document.

Venue – where a case can be heard.

Vacate – to cancel or end a court order.

Pro se – someone representing themselves

Quid pro quo – Latin, something for something.

Subpoena duces tecum – court order for someone to bring documents or evidence to court. Think of duces as documents. They’re takin’ ’em documents.

Subpoena ad testificandum – court order for someone to testify.

Trustee – Person who controls a trust or money, usually they’re doing this for a beneficiary, someone receiving that money or the benefits of the trust.

Direct examination is the questioning of a witness by the party that’s putting on the witness. This type of examination is typically always first.

Cross examination is the questioning of a witness by the party or parties not putting on the witness. This type of examination typically always comes after direct examination. Cross is not necessarily limited to the scope of direct. Scope generally means what the questioning was about.

Redirect examination is questioning of a witness by the party putting on the witness after cross examination. Redirect is often limited to the scope of cross. Meaning if the cross examination is one question about the witness’s shoes, the redirect probably can’t have any questions not somewhat related to the shoes.

Recross examination is questioning of a witness by the party or parties not putting on the witness after redirect examination. The recross is often limited to the scope of the redirect.

Third party – a party that is not the plaintiff or defendant in the original action.

Testimony is statements made by witnesses under oath.

Testate is having a will. Intestate is not having a will.

Surety bond – think bail bond.

Suppress – preventing something from being seen or heard. Think suppression hearing to get evidence thrown out.

Summons – notice to come to court. Often lawsuits start with a summons and complaint. The complaint is the document that initiated the lawsuit and presents the allegations.

Summation – closing arguments by lawyers at the end of a trial.

Sua sponte – of one’s own accord. Sometimes when something must be lawfully done the court will act sua sponte, meaning neither party made a motion for an action but the court is taking the action anyway.

Stipulation – agreement between or among parties.

Statute of limitations – time period by which a case must be started. For example, in most personal injury cases the statute of limitations in New York is three years. The statute of limitations for defamation is one year. Succinctly, people that wish to bring a case for those actions have to bring them within that time frame. The clock starts ticking from when the event occurs.

That’s all for now! I may add to this when I have more time to go through the glossary.

Silence is Deafening

There was a great deal of mirth when we started this blog in the summer of 2017. Perhaps we suffered from pain or fear, but we knew that there was a need to begin preserving and sharing knowledge. We did not expect an audience. We were told, perhaps rightly, that there was no reason for readers to find us credible. There were no delusions of grandiosity. There was only a single belief and overriding directive: It was the right thing to do. We had inspiration and experience in the field. We saw the many questions our contemporaries had. We could begin to document these questions, issues, and answers or simply continue the impossible game of answering each one individually on Facebook.

Imagine ourselves in a plain white room with no windows or doors. There is only a voice every 12 hours that tells us the time. It is now 6 a.m., says the voice. We do not know if it is really 6 a.m. Nor do we know if the last time was really 6 p.m. We do know that the time in between, we are left to our thoughts, as dark or optimistic as they may be.

We saw this in the interactions across the field. One often only gets to talk about the field when one is brave enough to put their face on a question or statement. Is the time 6 a.m.? Groups dedicated to answering questions could also devolve into mocking questions and creating an environment that even the most zealous stenographers did not wish to take part in. Of course it is not 6 a.m., mocks the voice, never bothering to say what we really want to know.

Without input, our newbies and students may stumble blindly into the same pitfalls we did. Without guiding voices, they may lose the ability to tell the time. We have grown in readership not because the things we say are particularly profound, but because we say them. We do not back down from hard truths. We try to give credit when it is due. We are always open to changing our minds when a situation warrants it. We inform whenever we can, and do not assume everyone knows what we know. We feel the field would benefit from these principles, and so we share them freely, hoping to see more discussion and camaraderie grow in New York and across the country for stenographers.

We encourage more voices to join us in guiding those who need guidance. One need not any special qualification to lead. One need only disregard the voice that tells them not to speak out. Continue blogging, talking, encouraging, and answering questions. Our greatest achievement will not be the hours spent dictating the time, but the day we have built a foundation of knowledge so strong that our learners can escape the room and teach others to see the morning.