So, I live in a household with two guys.  As you can imagine, our moviegoing outings tend to be action films, science fiction, and comedies.  Don’t get me wrong — I am not complaining in the least.  I love all of those genres!

This summer’s movie season has been great! The last two movies we’ve seen — Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. — are flicks about secret agents and packed with continuous action!

As is the case with most action films featuring secret agents like Ethan Hunt, James Bond, and others, common elements can be found throughout the movies:  mysterious plot, superhuman skills and maneuvers, amazing chase scenes, continuous action, and the gadgets that help them achieve their mission or goals. The heroes generally have the same character traits: dependable, in peak physical condition, and prepared for any situation. They exercise continuously and consistently because they know it can mean the difference between life and death out in the field.  They don’t cut their workouts short when they’re tired or miss a day because they’re not up to the challenge.  They train hard, train with purpose, and train as if their lives depended on it. Even though I’m a working reporter, I feel it is imperative to practice my writing on a daily basis. There are several resources to find practice material.

So, in our effort to channel our inner “secret agent,” we can learn from these fictional characters in our quest to become the best professional court reporter ever!

The definition of “professionalism”:
the skill, good judgment, and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well

Just like Ethan Hunt in the Mission: Impossible series, court reporters should use technology tools and gadgets to solve everyday tasks and real-world problems in order to help make the job easier.  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. This past June, I co-presented with my good friend, Keith Lemons, at a seminar about realtime tips and fears and also the gadgets we use to help us be more productive.  Some of the favorite gadgets:

  • smartphones
  • iPads/tablets (realtime reading devices)
  • Apple Airport Express (output for realtime)
  • MXL AC404 USB Conference Microphone (great for AudioSync)
  • DYMO LabelWriter (create exhibit stickers and mailing labels on demand)
  • Bolse 4 Port USB AC Rapid Charger (charge multiple devices at once)

Find a full list of my gadgets here.

In the opening minutes of Mission: Impossible, Ethan Hunt dangles precariously from a mammoth four-engine turboprop plane that pushes triple-digit speeds during a steep vertical takeoff — superhuman skills for sure and in peak physical condition!  While we court reporters may not be superhuman, we should strive to be the best we can be and keep up with our writing skills.  Being realtime-proficient is the key to achieving super agent status for our clients and meeting their needs so they have the tools necessary to prepare their case. The benefits of realtime are huge:

  • improved writing skills
  • less editing time
  • improved translation delivery
  • quicker transcript turnaround
  • job satisfaction
  • name recognition; people ask for you
  • increased income
  • readback is phenomenal

In The Man from U.N.C.L.E., the two main characters, Solo and Illya, realized they were going to have to work together and they discussed what they knew about each other. Both of these men had clearly done research about their respective rivals and gathered information that would help them down the road to achieve their joint mission. Just like Solo and Illya, court reporters need to be sure to be prepared for each assignment and know where to search for answers to different scenarios we may be faced with on a daily basis.

In order to make our realtime feed topnotch and prepare for the job, we should reach out to our clients and/or their assistants to request as much information about the case that is available.  Some things to request:

  • full caption/style of case
  • list of attorneys/participants
  • proper names and case-specific jargon, if available
  • previously marked exhibits
  • research online for case-specific terminology and technical terms
  • create and enter briefs into job dictionary
  • practice newly created briefs
  • create a cheat sheet with new briefs

Finally, everyone knows all secret agents are dependable and can get the job done speedy quick!  Dependability means that court reporters should arrive to the job at least 20 minutes early, be prepared for each assignment, willing to comply with expedited transcript requests whenever possible, and meet transcript delivery schedules.

Court reporters, our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to be even more awesome every day!

The opinions expressed are my own and I receive no compensation for any of the products or services mentioned in this blog post.

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Dropbox is an amazing productivity tool for court reporters! I’ve written about some of the best features in previous blog posts: How to install Dropbox on your new computer, transcript order forms utilizing Dropbox, upgrading a new PC and using Dropbox, top productivity gadgets, and more . . .

  • Do you ever feel you receive too many attachments in one email and realize you forgot to save one?
  • Sometimes a colleague is trying to email an attachment and the file size is too large.
  • Need that audio file from your videographer?
  • That out-of-state client wants to send multiple exhibits and is sending them in email batches.
  • Want to gather photos from a convention or seminar from your friends and colleagues?
  • Working on a project or newsletter for your state court reporter association?

Dropbox has added a new feature called File Requests. With File Requests, gathering photos, docs, and more from several colleagues is simpler than ever. Just send out a link to let others upload files directly into your Dropbox folder. There’s no need to rely on a collaborator to have Dropbox installed on their computer. With File Requests, people who upload files to your personal Dropbox will never have access to your account and only you can view uploaded files by others, unless you decide to share with them.

I’ve been using this feature for a few weeks now with a fellow reporter in my firm and find it’s an absolutely easy way to be more productive and save time for both of us.  It’s easy to start collecting documents now with File Request. Click here for more information on how you can get started today.

Of course, as always, the beauty of Dropbox is that you can access all your files across multiple devices!

Technology is Great!

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As Court Reporting & Captioning Week is winding down and I am reflecting on my assignments for the week, I am ever grateful and thankful to be a court reporter! I’m sure my family and high school friends wouldn’t believe the person I have become today — gone are the days of the introverted girl who could barely speak during class. Thank you to my social studies teacher for pushing me to pursue court reporting and encouraging me to learn more about it.

I have grown and evolved because of this profession and the amazing people I’ve met during my career. It has pushed me to soar and reach that next certification. It has helped me conquer my fear of putting myself out there when meeting new people. My colleagues make it fun to learn together and grow together by finding new and better ways to write short, sharing realtime tips, technology and gadget advice, and much more.

Mayor Wharton, Mayor Luttrell, and District Attorney Amy Weirich

During this special week, my assignments included CART; depositions; and public hearings, with more than 30 people in attendance, to celebrate the Blueprint for Safety program in our city.

What a glorious ride! I wouldn’t trade this profession for anything.

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My new favorite scanning app for court reporters is Scannable by Evernote! The ease and intuitiveness of this app is amazing. I already use Evernote to keep track of my digitized world. With this new app, scanning is even faster and easier.

My smartphone is my number-one gadget that I take with me to every job. With so many app options available, it essentially means that I can leave the bulkier gadgets back at the office for the more heavy-duty production tasks.

Here is a list of some of the uses for scanning during a deposition or hearing:

  • The attorneys are retaining the exhibits and you need to check a quote on one of the docs.
  • A physical exhibit may be marked that cannot be attached to the transcript. Simply take a pic of the object, print the PDF scan, and slap an exhibit sticker on it.
  • A witness may be reading and quoting from a text and not marked as an exhibit. So during a break, ask to take a quick snap of the quoted text.
  • One of the participants in the deposition ran out of cards. Simply scan their contact information from a pleading.
  • Oftentimes an attorney might have only one business card left and doesn’t want to let it go. Ask him if you can scan his card and return it to him within seconds.
  • Business cards should always be scanned. I scan the cards at the time of the job. This one little step ensures that their contact information will never be lost in a drawer or at the bottom of your handbag.

The advantages of Scannable:

  1. Faster to scan. Simply place the doc on a contrasting background and point the app at the document and it will auto-capture it. No more tweaking the edges or color.
  2. Within the app, you may sign in to your Evernote and LinkedIn accounts. This means that once a business card is scanned, it takes that information and adds in details from that person’s LinkedIn profile, including a picture. If you’re like me, having a face attached to a name is an excellent memory tool.
  3. Once the business card is scanned, you may also save it directly to your Contacts. My Contacts are synched across all my devices. What that means is that once it’s saved to my smartphone, I can go to my computer or iPad and have access to email addresses there, too. The information is entered once automatically, so I don’t ever have to type in the information on multiple devices.
  4. You can also send or save documents and meeting notes from within the app: email, Evernote, Photos, text message, and more.
  5. The app does give each scanned image the name Scannable Document. Edit the scanned document within the app and give it a name that you will remember later.

Technology is great!

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Skype is a software application that allows users to make voice and video calls and chat over the Internet with the click of a mouse.  With the advancement of this technology, sharing information has never been easier.

I’ve been reporting depositions via Skype for several years now. It seems that attorneys are getting more comfortable with Skype recently, and Omega Reporting, your Memphis court reporters, are receiving more requests for this service. With the high costs of airline travel and the expenses associated with it comes the need to find affordable solutions to take depositions critical to a litigator’s case.

The benefits of using Skype rather than the traditional videoconference and/or telephone deposition are many.

  1. Skype is free — there is also an upgraded account available at an affordable price.
  2. Eliminates long-distance telephone charges one would incur in a traditional telephone deposition.
  3. Eliminates costly airline travel and extra expenses associated with air travel.
  4. Cost-effective method to use when your client may be budget conscious.
  5. Viable option when you cannot conveniently meet in person.
  6. Allows legal professionals more time on deposition preparation and the discovery process.
  7. Gives legal professionals a face-to-face experience with potential witnesses.
  8. Skype gives you the ability to gauge reactions and facial expressions of all participants.
  9. Share exhibits and documents easily utilizing Skype. You can send files online to multiple contacts during a voice, video or group call, and in an instant message.
  10. All Skype-to-Skype voice, video, file transfers, and instant messages are encrypted. This protects you from potential eavesdropping by malicious users.

What you’ll need to get started:

  • The latest version of Skype for your device
  • A high-speed broadband connection
  • A high-quality or HD webcam
  • A microphone and speakers (built-in or external headset with microphone)
  • If using Windows, a DirectX 9.0c compatible video card.

Your computer will also need to meet the following hardware requirements:

CPU:     1 GHz (minimum);  at least 1.8 GHz (recommended)
Graphics card:   32 MB (minimum); at least 64 MB (recommended)
Memory:    256 MB (minimum);  at least 512 MB (recommended)

Skype works on computers (Windows and Mac), tablets, and many mobile devices. There are apps for the following mobile devices: Android, iPhone/iPad, BlackBerry, Windows phone, Nokia X, Amazon Fire Phone. I’ve successfully used an iPad and my Mac computer on Skype depositions. The iPad, of course, is such a great portable and lightweight option. Just set it on the stand in front of the witness and we’re ready to go!

Tips for making your next group video call/Skype deposition:

  1. With Skype you can enjoy group video calls with up to 10 people (including yourself), anywhere in the world.
  2. Although mobile device users cannot initiate a group video call, they can join it.
  3. All callers must meet the minimum specifications for Skype video calls.
  4. Audio transmission problems may be a concern when using Skype. If testing reveals problems with the audio, setting up a conference call is an easy solution. If a conference call is your method of choice for audio, remember that everyone needs to mute their speakers on their device of choice.
  5. Everyone should set up a Skype account and provide you with their Skype name.
  6. Check your call quality settings. If you or the person you’re talking to have a lot of programs open, try closing some (or all of them). If you’re using Skype on a laptop and you’re in power-saving mode, try plugging your computer into AC power or switching it to maximum performance mode. More hardware settings troubleshooting tips.
  7. Turn off any and all notifications on the device you are utilizing for the Skype deposition. You don’t want any distractions during the testimony.
  8. Practice a mock Skype deposition with your friends to ensure that you are comfortable with the features of the service and, also, that you’re comfortable with the proper settings for your hardware.
  9. Be sure to schedule a test call with your booking attorney or legal professional. Sometimes it’s their first time for a Skype deposition and you want them to feel comfortable with the service as well. The test call will provide the time necessary to address any potential problems that may arise.
  10. All participants should call 15 minutes prior to the start time of the deposition to make sure everything is set up correctly.

“Technology is great!”

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If you are a court reporter who uses Case CATalyst software for your realtime output and have experienced issues with your feed suddenly stopping, you can follow the below steps to correct that problem like I did.

I currently have a Diamante writer, have the current version of Case CATalyst, and a laptop with Windows 8 operating system.

1. Go to Control Panel.

2. Next, go to Hardware and Sound.

3. Click on Power Options.4. Choose Power Plan.

5. Select High Performance.

6. Go to Change Plan Settings.

7. Next, select Change Advanced Power Settings.

8. Click on USB Settings.

9. Next, USB Selective Suspension.

10. Select Disable for both “on battery” and “plugged in”.

11.  Click on Apply and that’s it!

Technology is great!

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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.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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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