In the March JCR, I collaborated with Keith Lemons and Sandy VanderPol on the best apps for court reporters using the iPhone/iPad, Android, and Windows 8 platforms. It was amazing to hear from court reporters across the nation regarding their enthusiasm for the article! One of the questions I received was the following:

Being as I am a freelance reporter, I work with many agencies that each have their own order forms.  I can download them, correct (and fill them out ahead of time if I have standing orders and just want to verify with counsel), and counsel will be able to add to it, if needed, and sign?  If this works the way I think it will, from your description, it would be WONDERFUL!

This is the excerpt from the JCR article regarding the Adobe Reader app:

For court reporters who strive to go paperless and want to have their transcript order forms on a tablet, the Adobe Reader app is the perfect option and it’s free! You may open a PDF document/transcript from an email or any app that supports the “Open in …” option within the Adobe Reader app. Annotations are also available utilizing this app by highlighting, strikethrough, underline, freehand tool, Add Text tool. You may even convert PDFs to a Word doc. When you’re done proofing your transcript on screen, you can email the marked-up doc or save it to Dropbox so you can make the corrections later when you’re back at your laptop.

There are other great app options available to annotate and sign PDF documents, but this article will be focused on Adobe Reader.

Now to answer that reporter’s specific question.

There are many options to open your PDF transcript order form within the Adobe Reader app. My preferred method is to utilize Dropbox — it’s an amazing tool for me.

  1. Navigate to Dropbox on your iPad.
  2. Locate the particular transcript order form you wish to open.
  3. Use the icon at the top for “Open in…”
  4. Select “Open in…”
  5. Swipe through to find the Adobe Reader app and then click on that icon.
  6. Your document will now be visible within the app.
  7. Tap the doc to bring up different editing tools located at the top of your screen.
  8. Select the Pick a Tool icon so you can start editing.
  9. At the bottom of your screen, you will see the editing tools: Add a note, Text to highlight, Text to strikeout, Text to underline, Where you want to add text, Drag to draw, Add your signature.
  10. Once you have added your edits, select Done at the top of the screen to continue.
  11. Do use the Add your signature option for the attorney to sign the transcript order form with either his finger or with an iPad stylus.
  12. After the form is filled out completely and signed, select the icon with the up arrow for saving options: E-mail Document, Open in… and Print Document.
  13. When emailing the doc to the attorney for his records, be sure to choose the Share Flattened Copy.
  14. If you wish to keep a copy for yourself, either include yourself on the email or use the “Open in…” and save it back to your Dropbox.

Additional options:

Create a unique file name for each order form:

  1. If you want to add a specific file name to the transcript order form, go to the Edit screen, select Edit, then highlight the doc you wish to rename.
  2. Next, select the icon to the left of the trash can.
  3. Enter your unique file name for this transcript order and click Rename.

Create folders for better organization:

  1. Go to the Documents screen.
  2. Click on Edit.
  3. Go to the bottom of the screen and click on the folder icon.
  4. Type in the name of a folder you wish to create.
  5. Tap on Create folder.

Move documents to folders:

  1. Select the specific file name you wish to move.
  2. Tap on Edit at the top of the screen.
  3. Go to the bottom of the screen and tap on the icon that looks like two pages.
  4. Select Move.
  5. Choose the location/folder where you want that doc to be moved to.

How to straighten or resize a signature to sit on signature line:

  1. Once the attorney signs his name, the signature will be highlighted with a resizing tool. Simply drag the corners to resize the signature and drag to position the signature on top of the line.
  2. Tap the Save button to effectuate the changes.

To learn more on how to create templates for your specific needs using the Adobe Reader app or to learn about other options for creating and using a Transcript Order Form, leave a comment below or contact me any time.

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It’s Court Reporting & Captioning Week!  Each year the National Court Reporting Association honors the unique professions of court reporting and captioning by showcasing to the public the large impact court reporters have had, and do have, on capturing history for posterity, as well as the wonderful services captioners make available to help better the lives for millions of Americans who are deaf and hard of hearing by providing captioning in realtime for live sporting and theater events, church services, movie houses, and many other venues.

In honor of this special week, I’d like to share with my colleagues and legal professionals my favorite gadget that I utilize in my court reporting business. A “gadget” is generally thought of as perhaps a mechanical device; however, I am broadening the meaning of “gadget” to include a device that is perhaps unique, not necessarily mechanical, and helps me be productive with my court reporting work.

I use each gadget for a specific purpose — and that is for productivity! Productivity is defined as: “the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services.”

I know there are many of you out there that feel like there is too much to do and not enough time! As busy professionals, we all are constantly juggling family, work, and other commitments. I understand each of you has multiple roles — spouse, parent, cook, breadwinner, whatever. You need extra hands!

I am constantly striving to find new ways to aid me in my quest to complete a job more efficiently. After all, who doesn’t want more time to spend with family and friends; right?

My iPhone and iPad are my top go-to products to help me with my court reporting business and are a tremendous asset for productivity. As I’ve written in a previous blog post: “The smartphone has become an essential tool for every court reporter and ultimately eliminates the need for other gadgets one used to traditionally rely on in completing certain functions/tasks to get your transcript out the door. My smartphone of choice has revolutionized the way I do business and increases my efficiency and productivity immeasurably. Utilizing one intuitive device is the preferable and superior choice over multiple devices. In addition, the size of a mobile device conveniently and effortlessly fits into a pocket or a handbag.”

The smartphone is, indeed, very powerful; but there are a few gadgets that I rely on when I’m in the deposition setting and/or the courtroom. The JCR asked me to write an article last year about my top gadgets. When I first received the request, I was, like, “How am I going to come up with 10 gadgets? I don’t think I really use that many.” Well, when I sat down to compose the article, it made me realize how many gadgets I really do have in my little arsenal. Oh, my gosh, I was a monster with the gadgets!  That being said, I am going to concentrate on my number-one gadget in this article — the iPhone/iPad.

Many of you may already utilize a tablet or iPad in your day-to-day worklife. There are many ways to use the iPad/iPhone in the deposition and/or courtroom setting as well. I recently upgraded to the iPad Air. For Father’s Day last year, I gave my husband the iPad Mini. I swear, sometimes I should stealthily “borrow” it from him. I definitely love the smaller footprint and feel it would have some benefits over the full-size iPad.

  • I created an iPhone/iPad app for my business called Omega OnTheGo. Within the app, there is a Transcript Order Form where attorneys may fill out the form and either use their finger or a stylus to sign the form. That way, there’s never a question whether the attorney ordered the transcript. The form is automatically emailed to them after the Submit button is clicked. Currently, the app is no longer available for download for iPhone, but you may still download the Android version.
  • If one doesn’t want to go to the expense of app creation, there are other ways to accomplish the same goal. Simply create a form within a PDF signing application and an email can be sent from the app. If you have a website, add a Transcript Order Form to your site and access the form from your iPad at the end of the job. I utilize all of these methods because I want to ensure I get paid for the work I do for attorneys and legal professionals. Having the attorney take specific action regarding the transcript order and having a copy forwarded to him reminds him he ordered and, then, there’s no confusion later about whether the transcript was indeed ordered or not. Leave the guesswork out of it and be certain.

Recently, I was working with some out-of-town attorneys. As sometimes is the case, after the deposition, they were in a rush to get to the airport. I thought, “No problem. I’ll just email the attorneys and ask them to fill out the TOF.”  It works perfectly and there is never a question about what the client ordered!

  • I am a Case CATalyst user.  Stenograph has a great app called ICVNet that I can utilize for realtime.  I do own netbooks that I utilize for clients to get the realtime feed.  The iPad is even more lightweight than the netbook.  I’m always a little hesitant to touch an attorney’s laptop to make adjustments to their settings if they are having difficulty hooking up. Having the extra netbooks and/or iPads alleviates all the guesswork, troubleshooting, and hassle.  Just hook up with your equipment that you’re familiar with and you’ll have a happy client as well.
  • Exhibit marking and retention of exhibits is an essential part of our role as a court reporter. As you all know, sometimes there are physical exhibits that the attorneys want to retain but it would be nice to have some indication of what it actually was so it could be reflected in the transcript. This happens quite frequently in some of the biomedical patent cases I work on from time to time. I take a pic of the physical exhibit and then utilize another app; such as, ScanLife, to turn the pic into a PDF to be attached to the transcript.  Best practice, of course, is to make a note in the index that the physical exhibit was retained by counsel.

The enumerated list above is just a snippet of the ways I use this amazing product, and there are many more. My top recommended apps for the iPhone/iPad can be found on my website.  There is also an article on apps that was published in a previous issue of the JCR for more app recommendations.  If you are an Android user, I know there are lots of options for you as well in the Google Play store. If you do just a little bit of research, I know you will find a compatible app to the ones I have listed.

Technology is great!

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Backup audio media (BAM) is the term used for any audio recording and can include the audio synchronization tool built into a court reporter’s computer-aided transcription (CAT) software.

Below are three best practices related to audio backup:

  • It is the obligation of a professional court reporter to stop the proceedings when the speed of testimony presents an issue, if you didn’t hear a word, or when speakers are talking at the same time.
  • One must never rely on the audio backup to create an official record. Readbacks occur often during the proceedings, and you don’t want to play back the audio for your client when a readback is requested.
  • If audio backup is requested by a client, check with your specific state rules in regard to your obligation to do so. If you do, however, provide a copy of the BAM, be sure to offer the same service to opposing counsel. Ensure that no off-the-record discussions are included in the recording.

The National Court Reporters Association has additional guidelines to help court reporters regarding best practices related to audio recordings.

There are several options in the marketplace for good and reliable microphones with great sound quality. Each reporter will definitely have an opinion on their preferred product of choice. Below are the steps to follow when you wish to enable your default microphone using Windows 8.

  • From the Start screen, type in “Control Panel” to open the Search charm.

  • The Control Panel window will open.

  • Select Hardware and Sound.

  • Click on the Manage Audio Devices under the Sound tab. The Sound window opens.
  • Next, click on the Recording tab.

  • Select the microphone you wish to utilize as your default microphone., right-click and select Set as Default Device, and then click OK to apply your selection.

  • If the device you want to use contains a small circle with an arrow pointing down, the device is disabled. To enable the device, right-click the device name and select Set as Default Device and a checkmark will appear in a circle. Click OK to apply your selections.
  • If you do not see your preferred device in the Sound window, place your cursor anywhere in the blank area of the window and right-click.  Select Show Disabled Devices.  Then proceed as above to select it as your default microphone.

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Dr. Seuss’ last book, Oh, The Places You’ll Go, a book intended to serve as a guide to help children face life with a positive attitude, is most definitely an inspiration for court reporters as well.  The protagonist in the book travels far and wide and faces many different experiences — both exciting and depressing.  The little guy in the yellow jumpsuit faces each new life experience with aplomb.  How many of us haven’t ourselves encountered successes and roadblocks on our journey of life and our work of court reporting?  The answer is that we all have definitely been challenged greatly at one point or another during our reporting career.

As a child growing up in rural North Dakota, my siblings and I led a sheltered life really.  Our community was largely made up of farmers where all family members, young and old, took an active role in the business of farming on a daily basis.  My dad was a difficult taskmaster, and my siblings and I worked hard during our teenage and college years with him.  My mom and dad taught us about having a strong work ethic, for sure.  Another important instruction from my mom and dad was to listen carefully to adults, process their words, and then learn from them.  Listening fit my personality perfectly, since I was an extremely introverted person during my teenage and young adult years.  Their words resonated with me deeply and reinforced my resolve to become a court reporter a/k/a the “silent person in the courtroom.”  Little did I realize during my court reporting training and college years that I would face many challenges during my professional career.  Court reporters are, clearly, more than just the “silent person,” as I have stated in a previous blog post.

You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting,  So … get on your way!

I have been blessed to have been married for nearly 30 years to the love of my life.  Wow — what a journey we’ve had!  Dean’s career opportunities have landed me and my family in six states.  Many friendships — social and work — were formed and exist to this day.

It’s opener, out there, in the wide, open air. And when you’re alone there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

The single most major challenge I faced during my career to date is the fact that I have moved to six different states and had to start anew each time.  Did I mention I am an introverted person?  Yes, a difficult process indeed.  With each successive move, of course, I gained insight concerning how to seamlessly transition to my new environment.  Other challenges that court reporters may face include a spouse losing a job due to corporate downsizing, illness, empty nest syndrome, divorce, starting a family, and work life/family balance considerations.

While it may seem easy to sit back and continue doing the same things you’ve always done in the same manner, day in and day out, you should persevere and take an active role in your career and professional development.  The following are a few ideas to keep in mind for court reporters — whether you’ve moved to a new geography, if you want to take that next step in your professional career, or to conquer your personal challenges:

  1. Be an early adopter of technology to help be more productive in daily work
  2. Get involved in your state and national associations
  3. Volunteer for association committees and/or board work (After my board service ended with TCRA, I continue to be involved with the Convention Committee and absolutely love it!)
  4. Form bonds and personal/work relationships with local court reporters
  5. Become an associate member of the local bar association
  6. Mentor a student
  7. Sign up and take the next advanced certification
  8. Continue learning and earning CEUs beyond the minimum requirement needed to retain your certifications
  9. Attend state and national conventions to learn and network with leaders in our profession and advance your skills and professional development
  10. Be active on social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)

I can honestly say that the best advice I received from my good friend, Jane Doby, was to keep pursuing my advanced NCRA certifications, as those three little letters would be the hallmark sign of a professional and dedicated court reporter and would ensure that my resume would speak for itself in future interviews with court reporting firms. Her wise counsel served me well, and I have passed those advanced certifications!

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

Career and professional development should be the top priority for an individual at any stage of their career.  After 30-plus years in the reporting profession, I continue to upgrade my knowledge base by reading daily on all kinds of topics.  To remain competitive in today’s marketplace, one must update their technological and writing skill to be successful as well.

Kaplan University and LinkedIn recently conducted a Career Journey survey, and the results revealed “that individuals across age groups see critical value in systematic career planning, and that most are already actively engaged in online reputation management and networking.” The survey consisted of over 1,000 respondents from different backgrounds on the LinkedIn network. The findings, in part, revealed the majority of respondents agreed with the following:

  • they need to obtain new skills to advance their careers
  • continuing their education will play an important role in their career advancement
  • they need a more systematic process for planning and tracking their career journey.
  • set aside time on a regular basis to enhance their online presence and reputation—key components in the creation and protection of a personal and professional brand.
  • they would like a better method for finding opportunities to be mentored or to serve as mentors for others.

Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

Just like Dr. Seuss’ message in his last book, one must remember that life can be extremely tough at times and a balancing act, but we will be just fine if we keep on the road we’ve chosen and face up to each challenge as it presents itself.  What are your personal challenges?  Strive to attain the following goals and be amazed at what you can do, too!

  • Be prepared and never stop learning!
  • With a little bit of work and willpower, you can do anything!
  • Do not sit around waiting for things to happen to you — take action and Make a Difference!
  • Nothing is gained if you risk nothing!

Oh the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all.

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Keeping abreast of technology can be daunting and intimidating at times. Just when you think you have your “groove” and your workflow is flawless, everything can change in the blink of an eye. It happens to everyone sooner or later!

Recently, my primary Windows machine had a Wi-Fi connection failure.  While it was a mere two and a half years young, it is, after all, just a machine and I needed it to perform at 100 percent.  Luckily, that particular laptop had an Ethernet port, so all I had to do to stay productive and get my transcripts out the door timely was to connect my Ethernet cable into the port.  Few newer computers have that capability of hardwiring anymore — everything is going wireless.

Needless to say, I had some time to chart my next steps on the decision whether to upgrade my computer or turn to my backup computer.  It should be a MUST for every court reporter to have a backup computer waiting in the wings for those occasions when the primary one fails, because it is an absolute that it will fail at some point.

Anyway, realizing my computer hardware was two and a half years old, the search was on for me to find the perfect new computer.  I settled on an Ultrabook.  According to an article from PCWorld, Intel has tightened its definition of an Ultrabook.

An Ultrabook must now be outfitted with a touchscreen, and Intel is encouraging manufacturers to build two-in-one convertible designs (notebooks with touchscreens that detach from their keyboards to become tablets). Also, no laptop can be thicker than 23mm (0.9 inches) if it’s to be marketed as an Ultrabook, and it must now be hardware-ready for voice command and control.

Okay, first step complete — yay!

Next step?  Where in the world to start configuring my new Ultrabook so it has all of my data, software programs, and those valuable settings from the older computer. I always limit the number of software programs loaded onto my primary computer. My Mac is my go-to choice for everything in my business, excluding my CAT software and other related court reporting software, such as Min-u-Script.

One might ask: “Well, what about running CAT software on Windows 8 and its perceived and/or reported problems?” I am proud to report that I experienced no issues with updating the new machine whatsoever. All my software and settings are now successfully loaded on the new computer and it operates virtually identical to my old laptop with Windows 7.

All right, I know you’re wondering how I have such good news to report and what did I do to minimize the upgrade frustration and anxiety. The answer is: My good friend, Dropbox.  Dropbox is a file hosting service that offers cloud storage and file synchronization and allows users to access files and information across multiple computers.

Of course, my first step was to install my CAT software. My software of choice is Case CATalyst. Since I’ve been keyless for a while and the company allows multiple computers to run the software with an up-to-date support agreement, it was simply a matter of using the link on their website to download onto the new machine. Remember to download the writer drivers, too.

Next, I backed up my entire CATalyst user directory, including settings. When prompted what destination folder to back up to, I browsed through until I found my desired Dropbox folder and selected it. The backup could take several minutes to upload to Dropbox, depending on the size of your directory and your Internet connection speed. Once that file is uploaded, follow these steps:

  1. On the new PC, navigate to the Dropbox folder that holds your backup file.
  2. Highlight the backup file and drag to your CAT folder.  You may have to hover over some of your files in order to find the correct directory to which you want your files copied to.
  3. Once that file is copied, open your software and locate the backup file. Unzip the folder and the files from your old machine are now accessible.

The above process was essentially used to transfer my Min-u-Script data to the new PC as well. Click here for the complete instructions provided to me when transferring registration from one PC to another. One additional point to keep in mind for this program is that you will need your product code to complete the registration on the new machine. Just email the company if you don’t know what it is.

I’ve been working with my new Ultrabook for depositions and court for the past two weeks and have had no complaints regarding performance with my CAT software and related programs.  The computer boots up more quickly, and that’s always a plus. There is a slight learning curve when starting with Windows 8. For my purposes, I feel the benefits of the new machine far outweigh the learning curve and I am pleased with my new Ultrabook.

My next blog post will delve into some tips and hints to help court reporters through the process of using Windows 8 on a daily basis for transcript production.

Technology is great!

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Covering court proceedings in Tennessee falls to the freelance court reporter at times. Occasionally, I am also called upon to cover preliminary hearings at 201 Poplar in Memphis, a/k/a criminal court.

Apprehension: anxiety or fear that something bad or unpleasant will happen

Some freelance court reporters are apprehensive of 201 Poplar — but not the certified court reporters of Omega Reporting! Our goal is to always help each of our attorney clients with any type of proceeding or assignment they request of us.

Below are some easy guidelines for my Memphis colleagues to consider the next time one of your clients calls and requests to book a hearing at 201 Poplar.

  1. Arrive early (at least 30 minutes) to ensure you get through security and to locate your designated courtroom.
  2. Travel light — your writer and a small microphone (for your writer if you have that option) and/or tape recorder is the only equipment to bring, as the courtrooms are small and, also, congested.
  3. Locate your courtroom and alert the deputy at the entrance that you are a court reporter and tell them your attorney client’s name and the case you are there to cover.
  4. The deputy will direct you to the front of the courtroom.
  5. Go ahead and set up your equipment where you are seated and wait for your attorney client to arrive.
  6. Listen carefully for your case to be called.  There can be a long wait, as the judge has several different matters to handle throughout the day.
  7. Your attorney client, when the case is ready, will alert the judge that he/she has a court reporter.  Don’t panic — you will have plenty of time to approach the bench before the proceedings begin.
  8. Your client and/or the deputy will secure a chair for you at the bench.  Take your chair, let the parties know you are ready, and that’s it.

The Administrative Office of the Courts is searching for court reporters to provide court reporting services on a continual contract basis in Shelby County.  If you are interested, please contact me and I can provide additional contact information.

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The National Court Reporters Association, the country’s leading organization representing stenographic court reporters and broadcast captioners, has announced that February 17-23 has been deemed National Court Reporting and Captioning Week. The awareness week pulls together a nationwide effort to highlight the contributions of stenographic court reporters and captioners to society and to showcase the career opportunities that exist in the court reporting and captioning fields.

Omega Reporting, your Memphis court reporting firm, is planning to get involved with National Court Reporting and Captioning Week by joining grassroots efforts to promote the profession and educate local communities about the value stenographic skills bring to today’s marketplace.

The court reporters of Omega Reporting are stenographic reporters, are members of the National Court Reporters Association, and have earned nationally recognized credentials, including: Registered Professional Reporter, Registered Merit Reporter, Registered Diplomat Reporter, and Certified Realtime Reporter.

I invite you to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and my blog this week as we celebrate and highlight the invaluable contributions court reporters make in our communities.

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This article was written for the Journal of Court Reporting, January 2013 Issue.

Productivity is defined as: “the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services.” As a busy professional, I am always striving to find new ways to aid me in my quest to complete a job more efficiently. After all, who doesn’t want more time to spend with family and friends; right?

My iPhone and iPad are my top go-to products to help me with my court reporting business and are a tremendous asset for productivity. As I’ve written in a previous blog post: “The smartphone has become an essential tool for every court reporter and ultimately eliminates the need for other gadgets one used to traditionally rely on in completing certain functions/tasks to get your transcript out the door. My smartphone of choice has revolutionized the way I do business and increases my efficiency and productivity immeasurably. Utilizing one intuitive device is the preferable and superior choice over multiple devices. In addition, the size of a mobile device conveniently and effortlessly fits into a pocket or a handbag.” The smartphone is, indeed, very powerful; but there are a few gadgets that I rely on when I’m in the deposition setting and/or the courtroom.

1. Outlets To Go Power Strip with USB: This compact affordable power strip will serve any court reporter well in those situations when you need to plug in your computer, if you forgot to charge your writer battery, or if you need USB power. Just the other day, I had an attorney ask me if she could charge her smartphone in my computer because she had forgotten her charger. What a perfect option for her when I simply pulled out this power outlet!

This Outlets To Go Power Strip with USB boasts the following features:

  • Provides 3 AC outlets to power laptops, PDAs, MP3 players, digital cameras, and other accessories when traveling.
  • 3 AC outlets for convenient power and charging.
  • Recharges electronics that use USB with integrated USB port.
  • Ultra compact design to fit into luggage and briefcases.
  • Dual side design maximizes outlets space, minimizes bulk

2. MXL AC404 USB Conference Microphone: I discovered this microphone when searching for an upgraded option for my audio backup. Not only was I looking for high-quality sound, but I wanted something that would sit flat on a table. In Tennessee, we do not have official court reporters in our civil judicial system, so the attorneys and litigants hire an independent court reporter to transcribe the proceedings. Some court reporters, I noticed, used tape to secure their mics to the judge’s bench which, ultimately, will ruin the finish of the wood. So this microphone fits the bill completely and the sound quality far exceeds my previous one!

3. Logitech M305 Wireless Mouse: I have to say that I’m not a fan of the trackpad. Don’t ask me why; I just don’t like them. When it comes time for read-back of important testimony, this travel-size mouse gives me more control when searching my netbook for that question that was asked 30 minutes ago. I own three of these, and each one is color-coded for the three computers I utilize in my business. I love them because they are so compact and there’s even storage for the receiver inside the mouse.

4. Belkin USB 2.0 4-Port Ultra-Mini Hub: My netbook that I carry to the job does have three USB ports, but there occasionally comes a time when one may need additional ports, as I mentioned above in the situation where my attorney wanted to charge her smartphone.

5. Apple Airport Express: My realtime cables are a thing of the past, and I love being wireless! There are a variety of methods to provide realtime to legal professionals, and I choose to use this router. I find that it is always reliable and a connection is made every time. Using this router allows me the flexibility to have several connections with a computer, a netbook, and an iPad.

6. Square: Start accepting credit card payments today! A free credit card reader will be sent to you when you sign up with Square for use on iPhones, iPads, and Android. The account setup process is quick and easy. As mentioned above, as an independent court reporter, I do work in the courtroom. There are occasions when an attorney has forgotten to hire a court reporter and then approaches me to ask if I can cover his matter as well. In the instance where an attorney is not known to you and you are unsure of the payment history, Square comes to the rescue. You have the ability to swipe their credit card on the spot for the attendance fee and never have to worry if you will be paid later.

7. Hotspot/iPhone for tethering: There are many hotspot options available in the marketplace, but I currently use my iPhone for this function. There are a myriad reasons for tethering, or connecting, with another computer.No WiFi available at your location

  • Value-add service for your attorney clients to give them Internet access during the proceedings
  • Use as a connection for providing realtime
  • Internet connection for your own computer to upload files to Dropbox
  • Highlights your techno-savviness to your clients and/or potential clients

8. Jawbone ERA Bluetooth Headset: For those of us who do not have a hands-free option for using cell phones in the automobile, this is an excellent gadget to try. When court reporters are in between assignments, we do take advantage of the time in the car for scheduling our next deposition, reaching out to other reporters for coverage, checking in with the office and our family members. Safety first!

9. DYMO LabelWriter: This labeler is my all-time favorite gadget. Just upload your company logo, add your contact information, and print a professional-looking label for every transcript that heads out the door. My labeler is connected to a dedicated computer. But I have no worries about keeping my contacts up to date, because I utilize Apple’s iCloud. When I effect a change or update in my address book on one computer, it then syncs on all computers, so my contacts are always up to date and available no matter which computer or device I happen to be using. The product features of the DYMO labeler are many:

  • Create and print address, shipping, file, folder and barcode labels
  • Print USPS approved DYMO Stamps postage directly from your desktop – no monthly fee, contracts, or commitments required
  • Uses thermal printing technology — no expensive ink or toner needed

10. Fitbit Ultra Wireless Activity Plus Sleep Tracker: As everyone knows, a court reporter’s job is a sedentary one. Use the Fitbit to help you stay active and healthy every day. According to the product description: “The Fitbit Ultra monitors your all-day activity to provide you with real-time feedback on steps, distance, calories burned, and stairs climbed to encourage you to walk more and be more active. It wirelessly uploads your data to Fitbit.com so you can gain deeper insight into your daily or monthly fitness and sleep levels with free online graphs and charts.”

There are other gadget options available in order to help you be productive in your daily tasks from what I enumerated above. I would love to hear about your personal experiences with the use of your favorite gadget.

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Image from New Yorker Article

This past weekend, I discovered the popular PBS series, Downton Abbey. My daughter said, “Mom, we are having a Downton Abbey marathon so you can catch up before Season 3 starts.” After viewing 15 hours of this show, I have to say that I absolutely love it and am addicted!   According to a recent article from the New Yorker, the creators of the series “chose 1912 as the start date for the series because it was the beginning of the modern technological era. And indeed, every season has inserted some piece of technology into the plot, and into the house, modernizing Downton despite itself.”

Downton Abbey is set in the early 1900s — a period when inventions and communications technology were making huge leaps. Throughout the first two seasons of the series and into Season 3, Downton has introduced electricity, the typewriter, the telephone, and, most recently, the toaster into the home. The portrayal of these modern conveniences that we take for granted today is interesting. As each of the new inventions have been introduced into the household, the characters are skeptical and are slow to adopt this new and “strange” technology.

As I viewed the reaction of the household of Downton toward new technology, it brought to mind how the field of court reporting has changed from when I was a student 30 years ago. While some may argue that the technological advances in most recent years does not compare to the inventions in the early 1900s, it should be noted that there are some fantastic tools available to assist court reporters to be more productive, efficient, and valuable to attorney clients and legal professionals. Court reporters should keep in mind that in order to be effective and stay relevant, we must keep abreast of technology, embrace it, and never be skeptical of the newest innovations.

Below are just a few of the tools utilized by Omega Reporting, your Memphis court reporters:

As I’ve said many times before,

Technology is great!

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Have you noticed a change in your Facebook News Feed recently?

Facebook is constantly making changes and updating its app. It seems hard to keep up at times!

I manage TCRA’s Facebook Page, and it seems that some of our posts may not be reaching as many people as we once had. According to Simply Zesty’s blog:

“What is happening now – with the introduction of promoted posts – is that Facebook is trying to get brands to pay to be seen by all the people who already like their page. They are saying ‘only 5% of people who like your page are going to see your updates so if you want to get the other 95%, you will have to pay again.’”

Read full blog post here.

You may use the following tutorial to ensure you receive the updates from your favorite brand pages.

  • Go to your favorite Facebook Page brand

  • Next, hover your mouse over the “Liked” menu in the right-hand side of the page until you see the drop-down menu

  • Click on “Show in News Feed”

That’s it! You will now be able to see all the updates from your favorite brand.  If you haven’t already “Liked” our Omega Reporting Facebook page, please click on the Facebook icon in the right-hand module to connect with us.  We’d love to have you!

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