Okay, everybody. I've been reporting for 16 years and I've got to start doing realtime sooner or later. I'm a big, fat chicken and so I need some advice. Where do I start? What equipment should I get that will be foolproof to start off with? I'm usually pretty good with techy stuff but if I go to my first realtime job and something doesn't work, I'm going to assume it's because I don't know what I'm doing.
Should I go to a realtime job with another reporter and see how it's all set up, see how they fix problems, etc. or is it not that difficult? I've seen how it works in seminars, but that's different than being the one doing it all.
I keep getting passed up on good work because I won't take the plunge, and I've just got to do it. I thought about hooking up to my attorneys that don't care if I'm making mistakes just to get the practice and the feel for it, but . . .
Help me out. all you realtime pros!

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Hi, Christy. Congrats to you for starting this journey. Once you get going you will wonder why you didn't start sooner!
There are lots of great ways to start learning realtime. One is to go to Anita Paul realtime seminar. They are great and you will learn a lot. Also, look into Realtime Coach, available on the Stenograph website. I am assuming you already have software. If you don't, look into Eclipse or Catalyst. They both are very easy to connect. You will want to start out writing only for yourself. Believe me, the first time I wrote realtime I wanted to crawl under a table, but now I have my CRR. If you're in freelance, I always got great jobs because I could write realtime. If you're in Court, some courts give pay bonuses for realtime. It's a win-win situation. Good luck!
I think after 16 years, your realtime writing skills should be good. It sounds like you're nervous about hooking up to the attorney. The only way to conquer that fear is to just do it. But practice beforehand.

If you have an extra laptop, I would suggest that you load some viewing software on that laptop and try to hook up to that laptop and get a realtime feed going to the laptop. Bridge through Eclipse is a realtime viewer that you can download and put on the extra latop so you don't have to put out any money getting a realtime viewer.

If you were local to me, I would offer to have you come by and hook up to me so that you can do it once. There might be trainers in your area who can help you. If your main agency has an extra laptop, they might do a class. Bring it up to them. Ask them to have one their reporters who hooks up to teach you. I think most reporters are willing to help out a fellow reporter.
I've written realtime for myself for over ten years now so I know what mistakes I make over and over again and I'm making a concerted effort to fix all those now. It's amazing how much cleaner I've been writing just this week when I'm prentending that it's a realtime job. I wrote 99 percent on a doctor depo - but it wasn't fast by any means.
I've loaded Bridge onto a second laptop and I've got the wireless Stenocast with 3 USB receivers set up. I also ordered a set of realtime cables from Pengad that I just need to hook up and see how that works. I think I just need another USB to serial adapter and I'm good to go.
I've got a group of reporters getting together this Sat, the 15th, so that an experience realtime reporter can show us how to hook up, how to diagnose problems with the attys' computers, etc., so I should be ready to go as of next week.
I have been on StenoCat for over ten years, too, so I'm very comfortable with the realtime for myself. You're absolutely right, I'm scared some atty will be sitting at the end of the table on one of my "off" days thinking this girl sucks!
Thanks for the advice, everybody! Ready or not, here I go.
Honestly, I don't think they're going to think you suck. This is sad to say, but I think attorneys who order realtime sometimes expect problems to happen.

The problem is the attorney is sent out with a laptop with no training either. So then it falls upon us to fix all the problems which, I think is a little unreasonable. Here's my take on the matter. If they attorney shows up with a laptop that is working and has all the ports I need and the laptop works and their ports work, I will more than likely be able to get them set up so they are receiving a realtime feed.

I've tested everything on my end, and I know it all works. I"ve output to attorneys who have Caseview and Bridge. If they don't have the tokens for their Livenote, then I will do my best to get them a token through the agency that I work for. But if the agency doesn't supply the token, then you can offer them alternative methods of viewing; for example, there's Bridge.

But the only time I really have a problem is when the attorney's laptop is locked down by their administrator and you can't add any software to their laptop. And I'm not talking just about viewing software, I'm talking about drivers for the usb adapters and things like that. It can be quite a hassle.

There are attorneys who can barely turn on their laptops. And I'm not being mean. I"ve had attorneys say, "Oh, my agency wants me to use the laptop. I can barely turn it on."

So as you can see, there are a lot of things you can't control. But you say you're tech-savvy, so I'm sure you'll be able to get all the bugs worked out on your side of the cable. The other option is to go to the depo with an extra laptop.

I've also, in worst case scenarious, offered them my laptop to read off of. Good luck.
Okay, I've got a question to the reporters (Kyung??) who are hooking up to attorneys (okay, maybe two):

Do you have your CRR or I think they call it the CLR? (If not, do you have your RMR? How about RPR?)
What's your untran rate?
How often do you hook up?
What type of cases are you hooking up to attorneys? PI? Bus lit? Medical? Experts?
Of the percentage of the times that you do hook up, what's your failure rate for being unable to hook up to the attorney because of "issues"?
Has an attorney (or the CR firm for that matter) ever criticized your realtime writing? If so, how ugly was the situation and how did you handle it?
Do you ever have drops in your realtime? If so, does anybody notice and/or say anything?

That's it for now. I might have other questions later, though.

And the reason I ask, I haven't hooked up to an attorney in probably three years and, like Christy, have questions. My clients just aren't interested in realtime. The one that I was consistently hooking up to moved to another state. So I'm a little rusty at the hooking-up process and, yes, somewhat apprehensive. So help alleviate some fears here, please.

I don't have my CRR. I don't have an RMR. I don't have an RPR. I am working on getting my RPR. CLR - Certified Livenote Reporter is one of those things that I don't think I need. The CLR does not certify you for any speed. It basically means that you paid Livenote money to teach you how to hook up to attorneys and get the initals CLR after your name. This is something I kind of know. And I really don't like giving my money to Livenote. Just me personally.

My untran rate varies with the difficulty of the job, with the amount of foreign names, with the speed of the talking attorney or witness. It's up or down. If they're on Bridge, they will get a cleaner end product bec. as the day goes, I will be cleaning up spellings and adding globals.

I don't hook up that often. I'd say once in a while, every couple of months or so. My last realtime job was just a little over two weeks ago. There were two rt jobs going that day. The other attorney did not want to hook up. My attorney did. I would have still charged for ordering the rt hookup though.

Rt is a specialty. It costs the attorneys extra. I don't find that attorneys want to hook for a simply PI case or car accident case. The stuff I hook up for is patent law, expert, technical stuff.

I don't know about failure rate. I can count them on one hand, I think. One time, the attorney did not have a Livenote token and he couldn't get ahold of his tech support to get one, so no feed.

Another time, the attorney's laptop did not have the right kind of port. I let him use my laptop, and I bought a usb-to-serial adapter after that. So they got their realtime.

One time, it was a government attorney, and their laptops was locked down tight so I was not able to load my usb-to-serial drivers., no feed.

One time, my cable was going bad but I had a backup so I was able to use that.

There was one time, just recently, the attorney only wanted it if the other attorney was getting it. When the other attorney got, he wanted it, but there were his issues w/his laptop. In this case, we had full tech support on site. This was at the attorney's office. And my agency sent tech support in plus we provided a laptop to the attorney who was ordering the depo and wanted the rt. In that case, I think there might have been issues getting the Livenote to recognize the serial port that the feed was coming through. But since others were on the case, I didn't get too much involved in that one.
So as you can see, even w/full tech support, there can be glitches. But you do the best you can. And don't take blame. Sometimes there are things beyond your control.

I think the majority of the time I've been able to hook up and things have gone smoothly. What happens to me a lot of times is that attorneys order rt writers thinking they're getting a better reporter and don't even want to hook up at the depo. So all I get is the per diem.

I've never once had anyone criticize my writing to my face. I assume they did not complain to the agency either bec. I'm assuming that the agency would have told me if I did a bad job. So that would be a never. A realtime job is just like a regular job except the attorney's can see your writing. You're subject to the same stress and a little more. But if they're talking 300 miles a minute about a very technical complicated case, sure you're going to drop and have gobbled-gook on the screen. I ask them to slow down. Hopefully, that's what we're all doing when it's that fast, unless you're Mark. It's never gotten ugly.

Honestly, I have had drops. I don't know if they've noticed. They've never said anything to me about it. Were they huge drops? No. Once again, if you're blowing chunks, as I call it, then you need to say something. More so than you would in a non-rt depo.

I hope that answers some of your questions. I was also thinking that it would be nice if some reporters got together for an informal training session on how to hook up. If you want to do that, I'm more than willing to meet with you. You'll be able to look at my setup, and hopefully by the end of the day, you'll have hooked up yourself. If you or anybody else is interested in doing that, feel free to e-mail me or call me.

Some food for thought for reporters who do rt? Do you know how to set up to multiple attorneys who have different realtime viewing software?

Oh, I forgot that I work for the federal court and I hook up to the judge all the time for that. I've never gotten a complaint from a judge. And this is in situations where I have lots of different calendar matters a day, different attorneys, different defendants. No complaints. But like I said, judges are used to reading realtime.
So just out of curiosity, since you're the first to respond, what IS your untran rate?

Oops, sorry, edited to add another ?

How many times TOTAL do you think you've hooked up? Ten? 25? 1,000?

Honestly, Judy, I don't know. It's not something I really look at. Most of the time, I've got my head down and am trying to write clean.

But does it really matter what my untran rate is? What matters is if you've got the confidence in your ability to put out a quality product.

If I said my untran rate was 89%, I'm sure most reporters would be going, OMG, she's a reporter w/that crappy untran rate.

What if I said my tran rate was 100%? Everyone would think, oh my goodness, she's great. But what if I'm only writing every fourth word but it's translating perfectly.

I'll say this. I've never been 100%. I would love to be a hundred percent. I could probably be a 100 percent if, as I said, I wrote every 5th word and dropped all words that I knew were not going to translate correctly like people's names or countries or business entities.. I'm pretty sure I would be getting complaints then. But I'm tranning at a 100%.

I've never been below 97%. Sometimes I'm 99.3%, sometimes I'm 98.5%. So somewhere between those numbers, 97 and 100, depending, as I said, on the complexity of the case, the speed the attorneys and witnesses are talking over each other, whether I'm having an off day, whether I'm having a good day, whether the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter is aligning with Mars. I'm just kidding about that last one.

That rate also varies with the speedometer. Have you ever looked at the "speedometer" on your screen and it says you're writing 300 wpm. Holy cow!! That's awesome. But then there are times when it says 180 or something and you know they're talking way faster then that. Does that mean you're dropping 120 wpm? Maybe. I've also had my speedometer say 600 wpm per minute bec. there was a lag while my writer saved my notes to the floppy, and then the feed from writer to laptop continued. Then there's a bit of lag there and it all gets dumped in at once. That's always fun.

That brings me to another point. Words. Yes, words are our stock in trade, so to speak. My untran rate goes up markedly when I have a word list. Do I ever get a word list? Rarely.

Do I do research? Yes. Google is a modern marvel that we should all use diligently. When I know I have a realtime job coming up, I try to prepare. What does that mean? Well, besides making sure that your cables are good, that you've got all the adapters that you need, your equipment is working, I try to do research. I ask for the case caption. I then go on the Internet and look it up. I have access to court website and I can download info off of it.

So I have a case that's coming up that's in the federal court system in CA. I can go to the website, download pleadings and other court documents that will have spellings and terminology. Well, what about reporters who don't have that access? Google. My last realtime case, I was able to download a 30-page article about what the patent infringement was about. I was able to load those words into my dictionary and come up with briefs ahead of time. Voila!! Cleaner translation, less writing for me, and better end product to client.

So sorry for the long rambling post. I obviously am very wordy.

Judy, you're a seasoned reporter, probably a great reporter with a much better translation rate than mine. I think you would provide great realtime.
Hmm. My last job tranned at .18. Do you think that's good enough?
Judy, you're awesome. With a translation rate like that, you do not have to worry. Unless this was a man bites dog case and the vocabulary was very simple, your job was probably medium to difficult in complexity and you're getting that kind of rate. What are you worried about? Get out there and do it.
See, now I feel like crap, but I'll get over it. Your tran rate is so much better than mine.

And really, I don't know how many times I've hooked up. I've been in the courtroom at least ten times. I've hooked up all ten times. One time, while in court, I was using Stenocast to broadcast to the attorneys and to the judge. Do you count that as one or two?

Then there's the freelance stuff. I've hooked up several times this year. I hooked up two weeks ago. I'm sure I hooked up earlier in the year a couple of times. You know, it all starts to jumble together. I might be thinking of last year, for all I know. Certainly not in the hundreds, but definitely in the double digits.. As they say in the depo, that's my best estimate.
See, another hmmmm. Before my three-year hiatus, I've probably hooked up in the triple digits (using your terminolgy). Gee, what am I worried about?
Thanks for the generous offer, Kyung, on My Page, but there are much better reporters than I. May I suggest Lisa O'Sullivan or Tami? They're both located in the So Cal area. Maybe you can get some tips and tricks from one of those seasoned reporters.


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