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You still out there? How goes the Steno Life?
Whichever way you decided, I hope it's working out for you!!
It's been a while since I've been on the site. I need to update my profile. I am now in speeds - - made 80's a couple of weeks ago. I learned Phoenix Theory, and I love it. But then again, it's the only theory I know. My machine is a Stentura 400 SRT. Bought it on Ebay and I've never had a problem with it. One year later I'm still using the same ribbon it came with.
Hope this helps.
My apologies for not getting back to you sooner.
In answer to your questions, I like the idea of online schooling. If I could, I would've signed up for Simply Steno years ago ...!
The only school I know of in Florida is StenoMax, up in Jacksonville, I believe. I've heard some good things ... but the person I heard those good things from recently switched schools!
Did you get your equipment yet?
"For a Good (steno) Time ...."
I think you asked something about a canned dictionary -- one that was put together by a theory developer or something like that. Well, I am old school. My dictionary is MINE. I built it from scratch. I've been working for over 20 yrs, using CAT systems the whole time. My dictionary has fewer than 40,000 entries. It's tight, and it's mine. I don't have to write to someone else's idea of what my writing should be.
I know students now all start with a canned dictionary and then tweak from there -- or SHOULD tweak. There are some purists out there who wouldn't dream of straying from what their theory commands them to do (you can guess my opinion about that). Personally, I think a 150,000-entry dictionary for a student is just overwhelming! -- and unnecessary.
Don't feel chained to Phoenix theory or its dictionary -- or any theory, for that matter! Writing is individual.
Anyhoo, my unsolicited two bits' worth. :)
I'm not sure if the Phoenix Theory books have been reprinted since 1997. Carol Jochim, the author of the theory, used to contribute quite regularly on the Phoenix Theory forum, but had some sort of health issue with her husband a couple years ago, and I haven't seen any more posts from her since then (~2006).
On the other hand, the site does have some updates to the theory ... and a rather interesting .pdf on something called "Advanced Realtime Applications" which isn't taught in schools (and chances are good your instructors won't know about it, either; mine sure didn't).
As for which books you'll need, you will definitely need the Theory books (there's only two, 16 chapters in each). You'll also need the Fast Track to Machine Shorthand book (can't seem to find that anywhere!). You might need the Phoenix Theory Reading Exercises book, which has a bunch of exercises written in Phoenix Theory that you're supposed to read aloud to your instructor (nobody liked doing that ...!).
You can see what else is included in the Phoenix Theory package on this NCRA page.
I have my original digitalCAT CD here, but I don't see a "Merit theory," unfortunately. Are you sure that's what it was called?
Finally, if you check the Stenovations.com home page, there's a link for *everyone* to download the new version of digitalCAT, if you want to see what it looks like without spending an arm and a leg (well ... $35, for a disk).
Download it, open the Dictionary Maintenance program, create a new dictionary (call it "Theres's," if you like) and recreate anything you can remember from your old theory ... and you can use that to practice with!
You'll have to use the Translator --> Dictionaries menu in the Transcript Editor to actually use the dictionary, though ... but it should get those fingers going -- and give you realtime feedback as well!
You might also want to download a copy of the Speed Teacher:
That version is for Windows XP.
You can read the instructions on how to use it here:
The way I drill with this is I have digitalCAT on the bottom half of the screen, and the Speed Teacher on the top half of the screen. DigitalCAT has an area called "the buffer," where your strokes sit until you hit a key combo (or the buffer fills up) and then the words are sent to the transcript.
This buffer is what you would be looking at while Speed Teacher is at the top of the screen. Ideally, you would just use it to ensure your strokes are translating correctly, while you stroke what you see in the Speed Teacher's window.
Well. Enough chatter from me for today!
Have fun .....
"For a Good (steno) Time ...."
Good luck ...!
The digitalCAT link in my first message should be this one:
Frankly I don't see the difference (beyond the capitalization, of course) but that's not supposed to matter, I hear ...(?).
I am also a returning student. Started with Phoenix Theory back in 2003 or so, and made it to 120 before my school imploded a few years back.
Found myself missing doing the steno thing, so I bought myself a cheap laptop ($110!), and installed digitalCAT, and am going through the theory books again -- without the audio dictation that we had in school (20 wpm ...!). Instead, I'm using a metronome, at about 40 wpm.
The Phoenix Theory books have you write the outlines you plan to use for words that can be stroked in several different ways ... and each chapter they want you to review those words.
What I've been doing is putting those words into an .rtf file, and opening them in the Drill Machine, where I can select whichever speed I wish to drill on those words.
While you will hear a lot (and I do mean a LOT) of disparaging words about Phoenix Theory, you'll have to admit (after looking through the materials) that when Ms. Jaochim wrote the books, she took great pains to anticipate questions a new user would have ... and answers them in the books.
Sure, Mark Kislingbury's Stenomaster theory is great -- but I didn't have the $250 lying around to buy the book when I decided I wanted to get back into steno ... but I did have all of the Phoenix Theory books (but no tapes!).
Finally, should you decide to stick with your own theory but don't have a (CAT software) dictionary already, you could use Dictionary Jump Start to build your dictionary from scratch; I think that will run you about $200.
You can also use the student version of the now-dead GlobalCAT software (there's a link on my site); apparently, it comes with a dictionary builder ... and once your dictionary is built, you can transfer it to digitalCAT for work.
Well ... I've prattled on long enough! Good luck in your endeavors.
"For a Good (steno) Time ...."