backup ~ : a copy of computer data (as a file or the contents of a hard drive); also : the act or an instance of making a backup

In today’s technologically savvy environment, there is no excuse not to have a great backup plan for court reporters’ data.  After all, those transcripts are our bread and butter; right? Court reporters should have a firm solution in place for the storage and protection of their data in order to retrieve it, if needed, at a moment’s notice. Clients and litigants rely on us, as the guardians of the record, to preserve that important testimony.

I utilize multiple backup methods in my business:  my laptops, external hard drive, Drobo, Min-u-script, and CrashPlan.  My career has spanned 30 years, and I’ve purchased several new laptops during that time, so my backup storage plan has evolved.

Late this afternoon I received a request for a 2011 transcript that was not transcribed at the end of the job. My initial panicked reaction, upon reading the email, was: “Oh, my gosh! What computer is that file on?” Of course, that’s always every reporter’s worst nightmare, right, not being able to locate an old file!

Once I took a breath, I knew I wouldn’t have a problem, because I had all my files backed up going back to 2003.  With confidence, I hit the Reply button to my client and advised him, “Why, yes, I can have that transcript to you.  When do you need it?”

While I may go a “bit” overboard with my backup options, I would recommend that every court reporter start the new year right by devising specific backup options that will work for you and be confident you will always locate those old files at a moment’s notice. Your clients will thank you for it!

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On behalf of myself and Omega Reporting, I am sending everyone warm wishes of gratitude this holiday season for your ongoing business, support, and referrals. One of the real joys this holiday season is the opportunity to say thank you to our clients, our colleagues, and the legal community.

As 2014 comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on all there is to be thankful for. I want to extend warmest wishes for a holiday season filled with family, friends, peace, and good cheer.

From my family to yours, may songs of joy fill your home with warmth and your heart with happiness this holiday season!

Holiday Greetings from Lynette Mueller of Omega Reporting (video)

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~ tradition: a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time

The holiday season is upon us!  We all have our special family traditions and activities during this special time of year. Here are just a few of my family’s Christmas traditions:

  • Christmas trees (7 of them) go up around my sister’s birthday, December 7th, while listening to Amy Grant’s Christmas tunes
  • Red and green are the colors of choice for decorations
  • We choose a coordinated and themed gift packaging each year
  • Our Christmas Eve meal consists of appetizers, church service, followed by unwrapping of gifts
  • Early to rise on Christmas morning for family breakfast in our PJs and Santa gifts in our stockings

Another long-time tradition, harkening back to my childhood, is watching Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer on television.  Last night, I have to admit, I watched that movie once again!  It is the Golden Anniversary for this classic movie.

There was one particular quote from Rudolph that spoke to me more so as an adult than when I was a child.  It was from King Moonracer, the ruler of the Island for Misfit Toys:

“A toy is never truly happy until it is loved by a child.”

Maybe this quote resonated with me even more this year because of my recent annual trip to the Memphis Child Advocacy Center when dropping off a monetary donation and some teddy bears for their “Teddy Bear Wall.”

Each child who walks through the doors of the CAC receives a teddy bear to help comfort them while talking about their abuse experience.  These special stuffed “friends” help children through their life stresses. The teddy bear, one of the world’s most beloved toys, has been around since 1903 and has been a valuable resource for children by giving them a sense of peace, security, and comfort.  My two children always had a very loved friend they snuggled with at bedtime to help them fall asleep.  Great friends, indeed!

Please learn more about the Memphis Child Advocacy Center and their fabulous programs and how you can get involved and help support the special needs of our local children.

Wishing everyone Happy Holidays!

Lynette Mueller

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Keeping abreast of technology is top of my to-do list! I constantly am on the lookout for new, improved, and enhanced products and software to help me be more productive.

upgrade {noun}

~ an occurrence in which one thing is replaced by something better, newer, more valuable, etc.

There are innumerable reasons why court reporters should take the plunge, get on the bandwagon, and be early adopters of new technology and upgrade existing software and equipment.

First, here are some questions to ask yourself before you make the plunge to upgrade:

  1. Will there be a significant benefit?
  2. What are the downsides to upgrading?
  3. What are the costs of purchase and training?
  4. What time will be needed to upgrade and train?
  5. Is my current equipment compatible with new software?
  6. Is my current software compatible with new equipment?
  7. What new features are available and are they worth the upgrade?

Technology is improving at rapid rates and, of course, all decisions must be made thoughtfully and strategically when weighing the pros and cons of upgrades.


  • take advantage of new features
  • be more productive, save time, effort, and expense
  • ensure compatibility with other technologies
  • stay ahead of the competition
  • good technical support
  • ease of use
  • maximize uptime and efficiency with supportability


  • early adopters may experience hiccups and bugs
  • existing equipment may be too slow, sluggish, and not enough memory to upgrade to latest software
  • older software versions may not work efficiently with new equipment
  • initial cost of upgrade may be high
  • high cost of training to become proficient on latest software

Several months ago, after much research, I upgraded my laptop and elected to purchase Windows 8. I needed to assure myself that my CAT software would be compatible and that I would not experience the frustration of the initial bugs and hiccups. There were some twists and turns along the way, but I worked through them and became proficient with the new operating system. It is so important to keep your computer operating efficiently, so installing the Automatic Updates is a must, especially the security updates.

Sometimes, though, things can go awry for a variety of reasons: changing a setting, malware infection, not enough storage, not enough RAM, and others. If the problem is a recent change, Windows 8 has a tool called System Restore that can literally rescue your laptop and restore to a previous date that you know your laptop was working well. System Restore does not change your personal files. Below are the steps on how to utilize this function. Remember to always back up your CAT files and other important information before proceeding to restore.

1. Get to your Windows Start screen by tapping on the Windows key.

2. Start typing Control Panel and, then, open the Control Panel.

3. Click on System and Security.

4. Click on System.

5. Next, click on System protection.

6. Click on System Restore.

7. Click on Next >

8. Select the restore point you wish to utilize, then click Next >

9. Confirm the restore point you wish to utilize on the next screen window, then tap the Finish button.

Technology is great!

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GCCRA 2014 Fall Conference

Peachtree City, Georgia

This past weekend, I was privileged to have been a seminar speaker at the GCCRA 2014 Fall Conference!

As a guest speaker for court reporters, I am always filled with a sense of excitement and anticipation leading to my presentation and, also, of course, during it.  The focus during this particular seminar was on my top gadgets for productivity for court reporters.  For a list of gadgets presented at this seminar, click here.

The attendees come to these type of learning events for multiple reasons:

  • Adding to existing knowledge base
  • Seeing and connecting with colleagues and friends
  • Learning new information and ideas from seminar speakers
  • Earning CEU points

Having attended several seminars as a participant, I have to say that attending as a presenter is even more rewarding for me personally.  I love to see eager and smiling faces, raised hands, lots of questions and sharing of information and, most importantly, forming new bonds and relationships with court reporters across the country.

Thank you so much, GCCRA, for including me this year at your convention.  Cheers!

Lynette L. Mueller, LCR, CRR, RDR, FAPR

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As licensed and certified court reporters, it is mandatory to obtain continuing education points.  Of course, there are many benefits, other than licensure retention, for attending learning events.

  1. Adding to existing knowledge base aids in our everyday work and transcript preparation
  2. Seeing and connecting with colleagues and friends
  3. Meeting and networking with new court reporters can lead to future opportunities
  4. Learning from others on how to handle difficult requests we may face from time to time
  5. Learning from leaders in our industry is total inspiration and offers insight to how each of us can strive to be the best we can be

There are multiple CEU providers and opportunities today that make it easy for court reporters to meet our CEU obligations.  Education can be obtained via in-person mini seminars, state conventions, national conventions, software training, and webinars, just to name a few.

To make the most of your next seminar, you only need a few tools to aid in your notetaking and learning experience.  Here’s what I take with me so I can be productive the entire day:

1. iPhone, of course.  When I’m on the go, it is essential to have my phone with me to monitor email and voicemail.  Court reporters need to stay on top of taking care of our number-one priority, our clients!

2. iPad: I strive to go paperless.  During seminars, it’s an easy thing to take notes during the seminar on my iPad.  My favorite app is Pear Note.

  • The most recent seminar I attended, I was having a few issues with concentration because I was suffering with a horrible cold.  Pear Note saved me in this situation.
  • Their app allows you to navigate through your notes you did take (even if there are large gaps) so you can listen to what was going on when you zoned out.
  • Pear Note records audio and synchronizes it to the notes you type, placing them both on a timeline. Since keystrokes are kept on this timeline, you can easily find what was being said during typing.
  • Not only can you jump to anywhere in your recording by using the timeline slider, but you can also use your text notes. Just tap anywhere in the text and playback will jump to the moment you typed that character. Gone are the days of scrubbing through a recording to find what you’re looking for. Just tap on your notes and you’re instantly there. Once you’re there, Pear Note will show you what you typed as you typed it, so you never lose your place in your notes.

3.  Jackery: My husband gifted me this iPhone charger for Mother’s Day, and it’s the best new gadget I own!  It fits easily in any handbag and offers one full charge and instant power of the iPhone for those long seminar days.  Sometimes an electrical outlet just isn’t conveniently located to plug in, so this device is amazing!

4. Bolse 4 Port USB AC Rapid Charger: This is a great alternative if you want to rely on an electrical outlet to charge your smartphone or other USB devices you carry with you.  I love using this gadget to keep my iPad and Fitbit charged up, too.

  • Compatible with iPhone, iPad, HTC phones, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Samsung Galaxy Phone, Samsung Galaxy Note, Blackberry, MP3 players, Digital Camera, & other USB devices.
  • Use your existing USB charging cables to charge most USB powered devices. Easy-to-see LED confirms whether USB charger is properly connected.
  • Highest Power rating at 20W / 4 Amps output, at least twice the power of any other four port charger.
  • Compact Design and Flip Down AC Prongs make it easy to carry on travel.
  • Sophisticated circuit design with over-heated, over-current, over-charging protection. Charging will automatically stop when battery is full.

Happy learning!

Technology is great!

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As court reporters, we have the occasion to upgrade our computers from time to time for various reasons.

  • Perhaps your current computer is slow and sluggish
  • New CAT software demands the upgrade
  • New operating system is available
  • Larger capacity hard drive is needed
  • Newer, faster, and more efficient processor available
  • Desire to keep up with latest technology
  • Need extra laptops for realtime clients

If you are in the market for a new computer, The Washington Post has a great article to guide you through the process of purchasing your new laptop.

Then the fun begins — getting your new computer set up and running smoothly and efficiently!  For some, this can be a daunting task.  PCWorld has some great pointers to help get you started.

Another question for some is, How do I access my Dropbox from this new computer? Not to worry — below are the step-by-step instructions on how to set up Dropbox on your new system and get you going quickly!

  1. Go to
  2. Download the Dropbox application file
  3. Open the application file
  4. Click on Install
  5. Choose “I already have Dropbox”
  6. Log in with your email address and password
  7. Choose the typical install
  8. Skip the tour and then select Finish

According to Dropbox’s website, “Depending on the amount of stuff you have and the speed of your internet connection, it might take a while for the download to finish. But if you want to make the process as simple and effortless as possible, this is the way to go.”

I have used this method on multiple computers and is my preferred method of choice.

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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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