Do You Log Your Practice?

Steno students, do you keep track of how much you’re really practicing? Some of the most successful stenographers out there practiced at least 2 to 4 hours in addition to school to reach their goals. It is a whopping time commitment, and there are simple things you can do to increase your monitoring of practice and progress.

One easy, old-fashioned way to do it is a practice log. The one I have here will take all the hours you input into column B and add them together to give your entire month total of practice. A really solid month of practice and good goal to have for speed students is 100 hours a month. So take this log, or design your own, and take the next step in holding yourself accountable and living up to your potential. (DROPBOX)

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!

Finger Drill Generator

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.

The video tutorial is here.

If you hate computers, I created about 10 drills using this program and I share them here.

For a quick text tutorial:

  1. Download and install Python 3.
  2. Get the program text at this location or this location. Copy and paste it into a notepad file.
  3. Save the notepad file, preferably in its own folder by itself.
  4. The program should say something like name.txt. If you don’t see the .txt, you need to look up how to show hidden file extensions.
  5. Change that .txt to a .py. Double left click and the program will launch.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Educators and students, if you have not already, feel free to check out the transcript marker and written knowledge test randomizer.

 

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.

NYSCRA Test Prep Opens To All

As many know, NYSCRA is conducting prep classes for the upcoming court exam. It has reaffirmed its commitment to stenographers in and around New York State by opening up the classes to nonmembers for a nominal fee of $50.00. Even further, according to President-Elect Joshua Edwards, the classes will not be canceled regardless of the registrant numbers.

There are lots of ways to show gratitude for such a move. Shoot them an email saying thanks, sign up for the class, sign up for a membership — do whatever you’ve got the time to do. But don’t let this kind of thing go unnoticed. For a long time, many of us have felt a need for associations to reach out, to show they care about nonmember reporters too before the nonmember reporters make that leap to become members. Here’s our sign.

We’ve had a lot to say about engagement here. But one thing holds true throughout: The engagement starts with us, as professionals, reaching out, giving feedback, and pushing for our associations and fellow stenographers to continue to thrive. It is never too late to start that process, express approval, or suggest how things might be better. So for today, great job NYSCRA, its ED, and all the board! Continue to be a force for every reporter to turn to.

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.