First, let me address the obvious question:

Why Cheap and Sleazy?

The short answer: "Why not?"

The long answer: Once upon a time I spent a year in a web design and development program, where we learned HTML, all about tables, frames and JavaScript ... and this site uses no frames, just a few tables, and very little JavaScript (unless you count that little bit of code that keeps my site from being framed in someone else's site) ... so, that's the cheap part.

As for the sleazy part, if you're here looking for pictures of nekkid folks, you'll just have to settle for my friend, Mr. Flash iPod!

A "Flash" iPod

This is about as sleazy as this site will get, thankyouverymuch -- unless you count some of my jokes, of course ...!

Also, Cheap and Sleazy refers to shortcuts, tips, tricks and ways to do things a bit differently for court reporting students and other Students o' Steno -- some of which will (hopefully) save my readers money ... and, as a few people have told me, the name is easy to remember!

Fair warning: Some of the pictures on my site link to other sites. If you don't click them, you may miss something ...!

Finally, to paraphrase the words of Dave Barry:

"If anything you read on this website makes you want to sue me, I was joking. Ha! Ha!"

Thanks, Dave!

"Who Writes This Stuff?!?"

Why, I do, of course ...!

My name is Glen Warner ('gdw' on a forum or two), and I am -- well, was -- a court reporting student at the (now closed) Seattle branch of the Court Reporting Institute ... and I am currently enrolled at The College of Court Reporting Simply Steno Plus, where I am working on my 100s.

As for how this site came to be, well, there's a sort of history that I wrote to satisfy the curiosity of a magazine editor ... and you can read that here.

I also do some updating every so often ... but first, if this is your first visit to my (cheap and sleazy) abode, you should check out what's here.

I also, on occasion, solicit articles from other writers! If you have a Stenograph Diamante and don't mind sharing your thoughts about the writer with the readers of ol' cheap and sleazy, send me an e-mail! I am gdwarner (at) cheapandsleazy (dot) net. I'd like a review that's a bit more substantial than the quick look I provided in my Technolust II piece ... and that can only come from someone that has one, and has used it for a while!

If you have found Cheap and Sleazy to be of some use to you, feel free to help defray the costs of keeping the site up with a quick donation! If all of the folks that visit Cheap and Sleazy each day were to donate five bucks, I think that would pay the hosting fees for another year ... so, if you are so inclined, click here!

... and thanks!

CSR Nation badge

Join me ... on CSR Nation!

Mein Facebook Page

Feel free to join me on Facebook as well!

Cheap and Sleazy Logo via Google Logo Maker

16NOV15 Update

Court Reporting Help: the Resurrection, Part III

So I was chatting with Steve "Da Man Hisself" Shastay through Facebook the other day ... and out of that conversation came two things that you need to know:

First, Court Reporting Help is back ... and second, Steve has written a book!

He said that he's going to be writing, and I quote, "faster than three mo fros as they say on the block."... which means you can expect more content on the website fairly quickly.

"Hey, hey, hey --! You said something about a book! Spill it! Spill it! Spiiiiiiillllllll iiiiitttttt!!!"

Okay, okay, already ...! Sheesh!

The book is called, "Steno Test Strategy for Court Reporting Students: Part of the The Shastay Way Instructional Series for Steno Success"

You can read about it here ...

... and you can get it here.

For the click-shy, here's a screenshot of the back of the book:

Rear of the Book

Rear of the Book

Happy reading!

26JUN15 Update

Wait a minute. Really?

Wait a minute. Really?!?

"Wow! Has it been a while, or what?!?"

Sorry about that!

On the plus side, I have been doing mini updates all along ... just not uploading them until everything that needed to be done was done.

Unfortunately, I had an encounter with a few sophisticated spammers, and, in the process of clearing out all of their crap (that's a technical term, by the way), I accidently overwrote my in-progress copy of this file with something in Japanese ... but that's a story for a bit later.

Before I get to that horrible tale, I have to thank a few of my Facebook friends who were nice enough to answer my call for help and come to my financial assistance when the hosting fees for Cheap and Sleazy came due, and the actions -- or lack thereof -- of a certain former client prevented me from taking care of them myself.

Here they are, in no particular order:

Diane Cuttino Salters, Terri Carter, Rachel Swan, Lorna Halbert, Lisa White, Deiedre Thies, Leah Cooney, and Eugenia Viramonntes.

No, wait a minute. That's not good enough for what these women did for Cheap and Sleazy, so let's try that again:

Big Thanks, Ladies!

Big Thanks, Ladies!

Without these women, Cheap and Sleazy would look like this right now:

Cheap and Sleazy of the air

Cheap and Sleazy: Off the Air

-- so, once again, thank you all!

And, since this mini pledge drive took place on Facebook, let's spiff this up a bit and give them a "Big Facebook Like:"

Big Like

Big Like

Thank you again, ladies!!

... but first, let me tell you about something free.

Yes, that's right ... I said free -- as in free software.

Free *STENO* software.

The very same free software I'm using to write this update, on my Mac, *WITHOUT* having to run Windows -- and yes, there's a Windows version, as well as a version for Linux.

What's that you say? Did you say you want to know what it is?

Why, it's Plover, thanks to Cheap and Sleazy contributor Mirabai Knight and a few Python programmers.

"Dude. You had me at free. Where can I get it?!?"

Not so fast, there, friend! There's a few things you have to know before you can use it.

Basically, your writer has to be able to "speak" the Baron Transscriptor X communications protocol (that's the "TX Bolt" shown in the list below) at the very least, or the Passport's communication protocol, or -- well, just take a look at this one:

Windows Plover Steno Machine Select List

Windows Plover Steno Machine Select List

If your writer can be adjusted to use either of those communication protocols, then you're good (sorry, Diamante users!).

As for how do you use it, what you're going to want to do is export your existing dictionary from your CAT software of choice as an .rtf file, save that file somewhere where you can easily find it (perhaps a "Plover_Dictionaries" folder inside your Documents folder), remove the built-in dictionary from the list, and add that .rtf copy I had you make.

That should enable you to write with your writer using Plover, so that part's done.

... but you're probably going to want to add stuff to your dictionary, without having to take your fingers off of the keyboard, right? Sure hope so ... and you can find out exactly how to do that by clicking here.

That said, I remember reading -- well, somewhere -- that the more often you're on your writer, the more familiar your fingers will be with that keyboard.

With Plover, anything I write on my computer  Mac these days is most likely written with my writer ... and if you've been watching my posts on Facebook, then you know that's a lot of time I'm spending on my writer! :o)

What? You're still here? Go get it!

Cheap and Sleazy Needs Your Help!

Yes, that's right ... Cheap and Sleazy could use your help.

It's been a while since I've mentioned this one, but for quite some time now, I have been planning a series of articles about the various CAT programs out there, where a user of one particular CAT tells my readers a few things a potential new user might like to know about their favorite CAT software.

The series is called, "CAT Wars" ... and if you click the link there, you will see what information I need for those articles.

CAT Wars Header

CAT Wars Header

Thus far, I have articles on digitalCAT, ProCAT Winner, and Advantage Software's captioning program, AccuCap.

As you can probably see, I'm missing a few ... so that's where you (yes, YOU!) come in!


I can also use a review of the Diamante, the Passport Touch, the ProCAT Blaze, and; of course, the new ones from Infinity Traditional.

Thanks in advance! :o)

Here There Be New Stuff

Yes, that's right ... while I haven't posted any updates to Cheap and Sleazy, I have been busy working on new stuff behind the scenes, as it were ... and since I've kept you waiting all this time, let's get right to those, shall we?

First up, we have one from a previous Cheap and Sleazy contributor by the name of Stanley "Young Man with a Gemini" Sakai ... and in this one, he tells you how he got into stanography.

Um ... stenography.

I would be remiss if I were to not mention Stan's video on how stenography works, so you can find that one here ... which is a good match for the next article:

Have you ever had to endure ... " The Question ...?

You know the one ... it goes something like this:

WELL-MEANING(?) RELATIVE: Have you finished court reporting school yet?

Yes, *THAT* question.

Don't Ask

Don't Ask

Not to worry, we here at the Cheap and Sleazy Labs have you covered, thanks to "on-again, off-again" CR student,Meridith Knepper Carsella.

By the way, if the article looks familiar, it appeared in the April issue of the JCR. You'll want to take a look at page 54.

Next up is another one from the ever-popular author of "The Red Dot Secret", Krista Burgeson. This one's called, "A Week in the Life of a Federal Court Reporter," in which Krista leads the reader through a week on her job, and explains all the prep work she does for a big multiple day case.

For those of you who have read veteran court reporter Donna Kanabay's "Speed Building With Accuracy" and don't have a tape player as described in the article, this one is for you! It's called, "Liebe's Player" ... and in that article, court reporter Liebe Stevenson shows you how to take your digital dictation and adjust the speed, up or down, as you see fit, using a small program written for her by one of her computer programing friends.

... and speaking of speed, you probably already know about that .pdf I have on Cheap and Sleazy about the young woman that posted on the NCRA forum a few years back about how she went from 140 to 200 in four months.

 Three Weeks to 225. Really?

Three Weeks to 225 ...? Really?

What? You didn't know about that one? Well, good thing you stopped by today, huh? I made an article about that so that the file would show up in a Google search, and you can read that one here.

It's no secret that some schools fail to adequately prepare their students for the real world of court reporting.

Fortunately for those students, we here at the Cheap and Sleazy Labs have you covered, thanks to California reporter Kyung Lee-Green's article, in which she shares with you some things that should be obvious, in her article, "The Art of the Obvious."

This one will be updated often, so check back every few weeks.

Not content to have just one article here on Cheap and Sleazy, Kyung was also kind enough to allow me to massage the details of her search for a new writer originally posted on CSR Nation into a review for those of you who are looking at the ProCAT Impression as your next writer.

"But Wait ... There's More!

Yes, that's right ... I have another article about the business side of court reporting -- this one dealing with taxes.

The Tax Man, by Kelly Freas

"The Tax Man Cometh, and the Tax Man Taketh Away."

... and you can read that one here.

Every so often, someone on Facebook will ask a question about how to make money while they're in school -- preferably using some of the skills they have learned in CR school.

One of my friends asked me that question, so I wrote her this "Mile-High View" of three jobs one can do while still in school: transcription work, proofreading, or scoping ... and you can read that one here.

Please note that the User Agreement that you signed when you got your CAT software specifically says you're not allowed to use the software to earn money ... but there's a way around that.

Next up, we have an interesting tale about a CART provider who, just before she was to provide CART services for her client, had her CAT software kindly inform her that her job dictionary was corrupt.

Karl Malden

"What will you do? What will you do?"

Why, that's easy -- you would do just like she did, and call your CAT software's Support number.

The tech took control of her computer .. and then sadly informed my friend that he couldn't do anything to help, and ended the call.

It's Dead, Jim!

"It's Dead, Jim!"

When she complained on Facebook about what happened, I asked her if she could send me a copy of her corrupt dictionary, and I'd see if I could do anything with it.

Long story short, I was able to repair her damaged dictionary in a rather round-about fashion, at the end of which, I realized I could have done it a lot quicker ... and I detailed both methods in this article.

... and yes, I made her promise me that she would back up her dictionary immediately when I sent it back to her.

In the "Oh, my GOD, Glen's in the kitchen again!!" department, I have two entries -- one in which I finally figured out how to replicate McDonald's sweet iced tea ... and the other, in which I found myself in a group for court reporters who cook, where I felt a bit of peer pressure, so I came up with a recipe that's "bachelor-simple," which I called, "The Cheap and Sleazy Slow Mocha."

Okay ... so I may have had a bit of fun with this one, as you can see here:

Self-Control Contest

Self-Control Contest

Thanks to California court reporter Josiane Goldman for that demonstration of "self-control."

In one of the Facebook groups I help run, a potential student asked a question. She wanted to know -- among other things -- how she could tell whether or not court reporting was right for her.

I answered her questions as best I could, and she was so pleased with those answers that she insisted that I make that answer a file in the group, so that everybody could read it. I, of course, did as she asked ... and also uploaded it to Cheap and Sleazy for my readers. You can find that article here.

I also have one article in which I attempted to answer a question from veteran court reporter and another past contributor Mary Ann Payonk on how to post an audio link in a post on the now gone Depoman forum.

I basically showed her how to use Audacity to edit an audio file ... and you can read that one here.

And finally, for the ladies past a certain age, there's "The Art and Science of the Hot Flash" that might be worth a look.

... and I think that's pretty much it for the new stuff.

So ... Anybody Thirsty?

Share a Coke With Cheap and Sleazy!

Share a Coke With Cheap and Sleazy!

When I saw those Coke bottles and cans with everybody's names on them but mine (let alone Cheap and Sleazy), I did some Googling. The results: I found the font they use in the ads, and several examples to use ... so naturally, I whipped up the above pair, and made a few people smile with their personal Coke bottles/cans.

Check these out:

Share a Coke With the Family

Share a Coke With the Family

... and those family members would be my favorite granddaughter, Katiana, my "Favorite Ex-Wife," Leola, and my favorite daughter, Kenya!

As you might guess, neither of those names are very common, so they're not likely to be showing up on any cans or bottles of Coke any time soon, so, for my favorite granddaughter, I just made these:

Katiana Cokes

Katiana Cokes

Yes, yes, I know: "Dude. Seriously. You need to get out more!"

If I had a dollar for every time someone has said (or even thought!) that, I could buy my own island!

What do you think ...?

So I've been thinking about changing my introduction at the top of the page ... tell me what you think of this one:

(With apologies to Eric Sim) (*ahem!*)

"Cheap and Sleazy style!"

"Sleazy style!"

"Welcome to my site called Cheap and Sleazy

"I put this site together to help make your steno life mo' easy ...

"We do steno every day that'll affect your daily life

"Throw 'em up for the Steno Life!"

Cheap and Sleazy Style

Cheap and Sleazy Style!

No ...?

Oppa Cheap and Sleazy Style

"Oppa Cheap and -- oof!"

Okay, okay! It was just a thought! (*Sheesh ... everyone's a critic!*)

Gangnam Style

Gangnam Style

Father's Day

I had intended to have all of this up and running by Father's Day -- mostly because I wanted to share with you all a tale about my father.

Alas, I missed that particular deadline (frelling spammers!), but that's not going to stop me from sharing this with you all! :o)

"Dad's in the Movies!"

About ten years back, my father told my sister and myself some interesting news: "I'm going to be in a movie!"

When he said that, I thought for sure he was going to be an extra as I had been in my big movie debut back in the day, when I was an extra in "The Hunt for Red October."

He didn't say much beyond that he was going to be "in a movie" (though I do remember he said he was going to be a bus driver) and we didn't hear anything after that.

Fast forward a bit later -- well, okay, so make it ten years later -- to the day when my sister called me and asked for my address (I had moved, remember?) --

I moved, remember?

Not my Apartment ... and yes, my Place is Bigger -- and Less Not Pink (not to mention a serious lack of genies -- er, Jeannies)!

Um, where was I? Oh, yeah! -- saying that dad had sent her a copy of his movie for each of us. I gave her my address, and a few days later, I got the DVD in the mail.

As an aside, the first year in my new place went well, for the most part, but I discovered on the first day a good reason to believe that my dishwasher doesn't like me very much:

My Dishwasher Hates Me

My Dishwasher Hates Me

We're getting along much better now, though!

Anyway, the movie was called, "Pledge or Die;" I'm not sure who made it (the case was from Costco, and there wasn't very much information on the case or the DVD itself) so -- oh, wait a minute -- just found a trailer ... alas, my dad isn't in it.

Unfortunately I couldn't get it to play in my DVD player that I had hooked up to my TV, so I put it into my iMac. The DVD Player program opened and started to play it ... and imagine my surprise when I saw this -- "this" being the last line in the credits shown below:

Dad in Credits

Dad in Credits

"I didn't have my name in the credits when I was in "The Hunt for Red October," I thought when I saw that ... and shortly after I said that, I saw this:

Dad as Bus Driver

Dad as Bus Driver

Practically the first scene in the movie! Way to go, Dad!

Notice that hat?

That's the hat that I sent my dad from my last ship, the "Never Too Sufficiently Damned" USS CARL VINSON ... and I have one like it around here somewhere ...

Ah, here we go:

My "Chuckie V" Ballcap

My "Chuckie V" Ballcap

He wore that hat throughout the movie ... and I gotta tell ya ... I got a little misty! :o)

In the scene shown in the previous picture, he's yelling at some kids on the bus he's driving -- including his own (movie) son (shhh! That's a secret!).

As for the plot, it concerns a group of young men pledging a frat and the drama that ensues therefrom. One of the kids gets killed (my dad's movie son), and ... well ...

Dad's Final Scene

Dad's Final Scene

Here's a better shot of my former Civil Engineer dad playing a bus driver:

Better Shot

Better Shot of Dad as Bus Driver

Now we'll have to figure out how to get my sister in a movie ...

The Chemistry Conundrum

For those of you playing the home game following along at home, you might remember that in my last update I was planning on going to school to become a Biomedical Electronics Technician ... and now, two quarters later, let's just say I'm not moving in that direction these days.

Seems that one of the prerequisites in the program was a little thing called "Chemistry 121."

"Dude --! What does chemistry have to do with electronics?"

Yes, that's what I said, when I found myself sinking without a trace the first time through!

Sadly, the second time through was, while a bit better, not good enough ... so I may be looking into something else in the not-too-distant -- merely enough to keep the werewolves away from the door, as it were.

On the plus side, I got a chance to hang out with a few working BMETs (that's "BioMedical Electronic Technicians) at a Fluke Biomedical Test Equipment training session a few weeks back as I write this ... and when I mentioned the chemistry dilemma I was facing, one of them said, "Chemistry? Why do you need that?"

Exactamundo! :o)

... but that's enough about that.

On the plus side, having gone through the class did give me a bit more appreciation for chemistry-related humor, like so:

The Element of Surprise



Bazinga! (Thanks, Sheldon Cooper!)

Not to mention the more sophisticated ones, like this one:

Chem Funnies!

Chem Funnies!

Did you read those comments? :o)

... and let's not forget the less sophisicated ones, like this one:

Beavis and Butthead Chem Funny

Beavis and Butthead Chem Funny

... and let's not forget this one, inspired by a popular TV show, of which I've only seen the first two episodes (sorry, Roomie! I'm workin' on it ....):

Breaking Glen -- wait, what?

"Breaking Glen" (Wait, what?!)

Accidental Spam Host

Yesterday (17JUL14) I was talking with one of my Facebook friends, and she mentioned that she Googled herself and found that a CD she had released years ago was very popular in Japan and Romania, which lead to a discussion about what happened when I Googled myself a few years back ("Oh, oh, uh-oh!").

So I read the "blast from the past" link up there, and decided I should probably Google myself -- well, Cheap and Sleazy -- like I used to, and ...

Billy Idol

"Oh, oh, uh-oh -- OMIGOD!!!!"

... imagine my surprise when I kept finding all these pages with what appeared to be links to pages on Cheap and Sleazy that did not exist ... or at least, they were nothing I had written.

This Cant be Good

This Can't be Good ...

One particular link kept showing up in my Google results -- that "Victoria" one up there -- so I copied the link from the results, opened another browser window, and pasted it in.

I got an empty page, and an offer to translate it from Japanese. I clicked the "Translate" button ... and nothing happened for a few minutes. I went away to do something or other, and when I came back, that page looked like this:



I'm sure you can imagine my surprise to see this crap on my website!

I then got online with Brinkster Support and asked the tech what was going on with my site, and described what was going on with Google.

He did some digging around in the files that make up Cheap and Sleazy, and found a necessary(?) .asp file that had been modified with a command starting with, "#include."

As a bit of an aside, a few years back, I took a class called, "C++ for Technical Writers" (this was back in my tech writing days, as you might guess). In that class was a young woman who was whipping a pen between her fingers in a most fascinating fashion.

pen spinning

Pen Spinning

Okay, so she wasn't THAT good ...

I don't remember much about programming in C++, but I do remember that gal with that pen -- well, I remember there was a gal that was doing some fascinating things with a pen -- and that most C and C++ programs start with "#include."

That command is how a program calls a file in another part of the program to do ... well, whatever it's supposed to do.

I downloaded the file, removed the offending line, and re-uploaded it (I have since removed that file, since I didn't create it nor need it).

That's when I noticed something ... odd. Several of the files on the site were showing that they had been modified two days before ... but I didn't log in two days ago (take a look at the far right column in the picture below).

FTP Program Date Issue

FTP Program Date Issue

What you're seeing in the above picture is my FTP (say "File Transfer Protocol") program, which is what I use to move my files from my hard drive to the servers (the "webroot" stuff there).

If you look at the dates on the right, you can see they were modified two days ago, on the 15th.

But the only problem there is I didn't upload anything two days ago.

I downloaded one of the modified files to see what was different, and found this:

Compromised File

Compromised File

What you're looking at in the above picture is one of the files that were modified. If you look closely, you should see a bunch of links for stuff that would never be on Cheap and Sleazy. Nikes? Jordans? Pfft.

Right about here I would normally post a picture of myself wearing my usual sandals and socks, but I'm going to spare you -- this time.

As an aside, I just Googled that first line (you know, the one where it says "div style= "position:absolute; filter:alpha(opacity=0);opacity: 0.001;"), and the results were ... interesting.

Anyway, all of the files that were uploaded to the web sever had this in them. The only way -- well, the quickest way -- to fix this particular problem was to upload the copies of these files that I had on my hard drive -- all of which were *NOT* modified on the 15th.

With the exception of this file I'm working on right now -- about which, more later -- this was an easy fix.

Taking another look at that picture of the Google results, you can see several different addresses pointing to different places on Cheap and Sleazy ... so I had to look through all of those various places and remove the offending files, including this one:

Who's Kate?

Who's Kate?

As for how to read this, start from the bottom and work your way up.

What you see here is directory structure of a foreign folder which has been placed on the Cheap and Sleazy severs. I don't think I know anyone named Kate, so it's unlikely that I would name a folder after her and upload it like that.

On my hard drive, all of Cheap and Sleazy is located in a folder named -- you guessed it -- "gdwarner. " Inside of that are two more folders: "images," which is where I keep all of the pictures you see here on Cheap and Sleazy, and the other folder is called "Filez," which is where I keep .pdf files, the occasional .mp3 file, etc.

There are a couple others, but they're strictly single-purpose folders, like that Speed Plus folder -- which was empty when I uploaded it.

Of course, that didn't stop someone from using that "empty" folder for their own purposes ... Grrr!!

Aggressive Negotiations 1:  Mace and Jango Fett (strike)  Some Pesky Spammer

Aggressive Negotiations 1: Mace and Jango Fett  Some Pesky Spammer

(*Ahem!*) Excuse me.

Well. I went through the directories hinted at in that Google search I posted earlier and found the offending files and removed them -- including a file which had some code which would allow the person that placed it on the Cheap and Sleazy servers to bypass the need for a password -- then I made a serious error.

As you've probably noticed -- and I may have mentioned once or twice -- I haven't done any updates for quite a while.

Actually, I have been doing updates -- just not uploading them to the Cheap and Sleazy severs. Some of those "updates" were simply notes to myself in the index.html file, with links and a few comments for when I had time to expand on ... well, whatever it was that I had written there.

"The Big Oopsie"

At one point during this big eradication exercise, I found a folder buried in a bunch of folders, and grabbed the "index.html" file ... which, if you take a look at the top of your screen, you should see is the very same name of *THIS* file.

I was trying to drag that file from the folder it was in by way of the FTP program and drop it into the Filez folder on the left side of the screen.

Somehow, that folder moved as I was trying to drop that file into it, and it fell in the "gdwarner" folder -- which is where my index.html file was -- and immediately overwrote it.

Yes, that's right ... all the notes I had been taking all this time, gone. Just like that.




As oopsies go, that one was a doosie!

What was I left with, you ask? Check it out:

The Big Oopsie

The Big Oopsie

That's right ... oops.

Fortunately, I have a few screenshots in a folder that are related to some of the notes I lost, so I should be able to put it together okay.

I hope.

We'll see!

17AUG14 Update

I got a bit of a reprieve the other day, when I looked at the combination pen, laser pointer, and flash drive I picked up a few months back, and discovered I had a copy of my website on there ... including an un-frelled copy of my index.html file!

Unfortunately, it didn't have all of the stuff I had in the original, having been made a few months ago, but there were more in there than I had before, so that's something.

07DEC14 Update

About a month ago, I logged into the Cheap and Sleazy servers for the first time in ... let's see ... two days.

During that two days, some wise guy managed to upload a file. Naturally, I downloaded the file, and opened it in my browser:

Funky Google

Funky Google

Shortly after downloading that file, I found an entire folder that had also been uploaded. It was called, "Litter" ... which was actually very fitting, considering that it was all spam!

I looked into one of the folders that were inside the "Litter" folder, and found this:

Spammers do Golf on Cheap and Sleazy

Spammers do Golf on Cheap and Sleazy

As you might guess, I was far from happy when I saw that. In fact, I was so unhappy that after I downloaded that page, I immediately deleted the entire folder ... without looking to see what else was in it.

Interestingly, I noticed that it took about ten minutes to delete that folder!

Naturally, I thought it might be a good idea to see what was on Google (remember that "funky Google page" that I deleted?), so I did a Google search for the following: "littered" -with

I added the "-with" to avoid results with the words, "littered with" appearing.

You can see some of the results in this screenshot:

Cheap and Sleazy: Littered With Spammers

Cheap and Sleazy: Littered With Spammers

On the off-chance that the results will vanish one day, I made a pdf of what I found today, and you can look at that one here.

Just FYI ... that .pdf is 7 pages of spammy addresses pointing at Cheap and Sleazy.

I called Brinkster Support. I started by showing the tech that Google search up there, and asked him how all of this was on the supposedly "secure" web server they had moved my site to after the last time Cheap and Sleazy got hacked.

He took a look around and found a couple of files that shouldn't have been there, including one that was invisible.

I had him open the files and see what was in them; more code to allow access to my "secure" server.

There were a couple others, and I had him delete all of them.

I log into the FTP server for Cheap and Sleazy at least every other day now to ensure nothing hinky is going on.

Well. That's enough about that crap. (Grrr!!)

A Wedding, a Few Funerals ... and a Resurrection:

The Wedding

I'm sure you all remember Cindi Hartman.

No? Perhaps this will help:

Dammit, Jim!

"Dammit, Jim!"

Did that help? :o)

Well. Turns out Ms. Cindi Hartman is now Mrs. Cindi Lynch. Rumor has it that the couple got married with "The Throne Room" music from "Star Wars: A New Hope" playing as they made their exit, and somewhere in there, "Roxanne" made an appearance ... and yes, that was one of the casualties from losing my notes).

Anyway, check out the blushing bride -- easily recognizable by the white dress and flowers:

Cindi Got Married

Cindi Got Married

I don't remember if I told her directly on either Facebook or on Depoman, so I'll do it here:

Congratulations, Cindi!

Of course, when I heard about the music, I was expecting to see something like this:

*NOT* Cindi's Wedding

*NOT* Cindi's Wedding

Well, in a few years, when Cindi and her new hubby renew their wedding vows, they've got something to meet or beat now!

May the (wedding) Force be with you, Mr. and Mrs. Lynch!

... and now ...

The Funerals

I recently lost one of my Facebook friends.

Her name was Bethany Faubel, and she was a student at a court reporting school in Sacramento, where she would make up humorous dictation for her classmates, which were said to be quite funny; with any luck, I'll try and get one or two to share with you all on Cheap and Sleazy.

I didn't know her really well; we only interacted in one of the groups we were in together, along with the occasional birthday greeting.

Unfortunately, Bethany appears to have drowned in her bathtub a few weeks ago, not too long after her birthday -- which was the last time we chatted together:

One Last Chat With Bethany

One Last Chat With Bethany

It was nice chatting with you, Bethany. See you next time around.

A Candle For Bethany

A Candle For Bethany

Jim Barker is Gone

Yes, unfortunately, Jim Barker is also gone.

Apparently it was a heart attack. Margie Wakeman Wells posted announcement in Jim's Facebook group, Jim Barker's Court Reporters Forum:

My dear friends, it is with a heavy heart and profound sadness that I let you know that our dear Jim Barker passed away today, Thursday, April 2. His wife, Lynda, called a little while ago. He went upstairs to work after breakfast, and when she went up a while later to tell him that she was going to run errands, he was gone. She surmises that it was a heart attack.

Lynda expressed many times tonight that this forum was Jim's pride and joy. He was proud of the work we do here and the way we all conduct the business of learning together. He knew exactly how he wanted it to be, and he worked hard to keep it going in that vein. He loved court reporting and court reporters and spent much of his 68-year life dedicated to making this field better.

Right now the news is too fresh and too sad for me to know how we will go forward with this forum, but I think we must. I will do what I can in the coming weeks to keep us going. I don't have admin privileges; so we will have to muddle through together.

If you are a praying person, keep Lynda and Jim's children in your prayers. This is certainly a time to be grateful for each day for, as this day has shown us, tomorrow is never guaranteed.


Good-bye, Jim. See you next time as well!

And Another Candle For Jim

And Another Candle For Jim Barker

A (Very!) Belated Note

A few weeks back, I was chatting with someone at Stenovations Support, and I finally remembered to ask about Sandra Jackson, the Head Woman in Charge there.

Officially, we last spoke about a problem with the pricing of the captioning suite in digitalCAT back in 2005. You can read about that here.

For the click-shy, the link tells the tale of how I was able to convince Stenovations to lower the price on the captioning suite, thanks to a loss of at least five students who were planning on using it for a non-paying captioning internship ... but to do so would have cost them $300 each(!), so, being starving students and all, they all switched over to Case.


Unfortunately, it turns out Sandra had passed away a couple years back.

Sandra Jackson: R.I.P.

Sandra Jackson: R.I.P.

My condolences to the folks at Stenovations for their loss. She shared with me some funny stories (the "unofficial" communications we had back then), and will be missed.

And another Candle For Sandra

And Another Candle For Sandra

... is gone.

I was following a link on a Google search that went to a link on the other day ... but instead of the link I was looking for, I got this:'s Epitaph's Epitaph

Thank you, Todd Olivias! Your site will be missed.

Depoman is Gone, Too!

Yes, that's right ... Depoman is also gone.

A few weeks ago as I write this (12JUN15), I was trying to bring up the page which shows all of the threads that had been created or added to since my last visit ... but instead of seeing a list of threads, I got a "404 error."

I sent Mike "Depoman" Miller an e-mail to let him know, and he answered, saying that the site had exceeded the monthly band width allotment again, and would be back when he was home again to take care of the problem (he was in Korea at the time).

A couple days later, this appeared.

Thank you, Mike "Depoman" Miller -- and you as well, Susan "Depowife" Miller -- for the site. I, and many others, learned a lot from reading it, and I will miss it terribly.

Tripod Ninja

The Depoman Tripod Ninja

... and a Resurrection

Yes, that's right ... a resurrection.

Court Reporting Help is Back!

Court Reporting Help's About page

Court Reporting Help's About page

"Dude. You said Court Reporting Help was dead! What's up?!"

Well, to paraphrase a Monthy Python movie, "Um ... it got better!"

Actually, what happened was I got an e-mail from Steve "Da Man Hisself" Shastay:

"Since it's now easy to offer instant downloads, I'll be putting my drills on Payloadz and using various blogs to create a customer base.

"I really got tired of the constant work of selling, mailing and customer service. At most, if I get any affiliates, I will have to send out payments once per week."

" will be a WordPress blog. StenoSpeedDrills is on Tumblr and Blogger. Then I have Twitter and Facebook accounts that are being synched."

"I'll be more active, but I don't intend to blog, except for microblogging on Tumblr.

"CourtReportingHelp will contain long articles, but it really won't be a blog.

"I anticipate a few more actual blogs thrown into the mix from different authors such as Anna Mae Tedley, Bab DeWitt and Joe Kinaim."

Good things coming soon!

Update (20MAY15): "Not So Fast Thar, Pahdnah!"

(That was my Texas accent, by the way!)

Looks like the domain name for Court Reporting Help has expired!

Even worse, when you go to the WordPress site, you'll see this:

Hey, What the --

" Hey, What the --?!?"

Not to worry ... the fix is simple. She that red circle up there? Click the X right at the 9:00 position of that circle, and you'll be able to access the site.

On Bullying

Sadly, you're probably hearing something on the news about bullying every day.

The tales you hear probably go from elementary kids pushing other kids around, all the way up to high school kids threatening other kids in ways too numerous to mention (and don't even get me started on that "Slenderman" crap!).

... but I'll bet you've never heard of such behavior in a court reporting school, have you?

Sadly, I have.

No, not the usual "high-speed-students-not-talking-to-the-lower-speed-students" thing, or "the-low-speed-students-not-talking-to-the-theory-students" thing.

No, I'm talking about something much worse.

How about male students -- which are fairly rare these days -- calling some of their female counterparts bit*hes and other less savory names?

I don't know about you, but for me, high school was over a long time ago. If you're in CR school, you're in college now, and are presumably an adult. Maybe you -- and you know who you are -- should act like it.

Makes me want to do a face palm ...

Star Trek Face Palm

Star Trek Face Palm

No, wait a minute. For this, that's just not enough. This might just suffice:

Epic Face Palm

Epic Face Palm

Yes. Much better.

Goofus and Gallant

Remember these guys?

Goofus and Gallant

Goofus and Gallant

When I was a kid, I would check out these guys in the new issue of "Highlights" every chance I got. I think it was the first (and probably the only) thing I read in those magazines.

I can hear it now ...

"Dude. What does this crap have to do with court reporting?"

Ooh, good question! Let me tell you a story ...

"Oh, Geez ...."

Hey, you asked!! :o)

Seems there were once two businesses -- let's call them "Business A" and "Business B."

Business A received an order from a customer who was ordering something for their writer collection. Unfortunately, Business A decided that item X was a better deal than what the customer had ordered ... so, without asking, they made a substitution.

As you might guess, the customer was less than pleased, and asked for a refund.

Business A refused, and accused the customer of having ordered what was sent. The customer vehemently disagreed, but the person running Business A believed his customer service rep.

That resulted in a post on detailing what happened with the transaction. Business A then threatened to sue if the customer didn't remove the post, with which the customer complied ... but then got the Better Business Bureau involved. The negative review on the Better Business Bureau's site somehow got hidden, which prompted the unhappy customer to post about what happened in a few court reporting groups on Facebook. Those posts garnered many views, and probably cost Business A a lot of potential customers. Case in point:

 Bad For Business

Bad For Business

Now, let me tell you about Business B.

There was no report to the Better Business Bureau in this case; there was just one post in one Facebook group from a happy customer.

The post didn't garner the same amount of attention as the post about Business A, and probably went unnoticed by many.

The post basically said that the student had a problem with her writer, and had stopped by the shop run by Business B. The owner stopped what he was doing, and fixed what was wrong with her writer.

At no charge.

Sometimes, kindness *IS* good for business, as Ms. Fisher said in this magazine's cover article:

mindful cover, December 13, 2013

Mindful Cover, December 13, 2013

Might not be such a bad idea for Business A to read the cover aticle and find out exactly "Why Kindness is Good for Business."

Just sayin'.

"Ah, Readback ..."

Do you know what this is?

Ah, Readback ... How do I Loath Thee, Let me Count the Ways ...

"Ah, Readback ... How do I Loathe Thee, Let me Count the Ways ..."


That's the face of a court reporter who has been asked to read back the question of a rather difficult-to-understand southern attorney ... and you can hear just how difficult this particular attorney was to take by clicking here (sorry about the ad!).

If you're up for a challenge, get your writer ready before you click that link! :o)

Take a Certification Exam ... at Home?

Sure ...! Starting in 2015!

On the off-chance that the link no longer works, here's what it said just now:

Important Change to NCRA Skills Tests

Beginning in 2015, NCRA will move away from the traditional brick and mortar testing sites and shift the RPR, RMR, CRR, CBC and CCP skills tests to an online proctoring model using the advanced technologies of myRealtimeCoach and ProctorU. Information will be posted on this site, as well as in the JCR Weekly, JCR and For more information, please click here and check this page for updates.

"This page" being the link under the "Sure!", of course.

Just found a video:

Illinois State Testing Issues

Picture this:

You, having completed your steno school journey, finally getting the chance to sit for your state's CSR exam.

You're pumped. You're ready. You've read and put into practice what you read in Concentration. You've even got a few Reese's Peanut Butter Cups handy, because you're ready.

... but wait a minute. You got there early, but the doors are closed and locked!

"No problem," you think. "Someone will be along soon."

The good news: you were right -- somebody *DID* come along shortly -- unfortunately, it was more people waiting to take the same test you are waiting for.

Test time comes, and still, there's nobody there but you and the other folks that are there for that same test. Thinking quickly, you whip out your (fairly) smart phone, and post a message in the Encouraging Court Reporting Students Facebook group. Marc "Simply Steno" Greenburg gets back to you and lets you know that he saw a message about the test:

"The owner of Continental Testing was called at home. She has been unable to reach her staff and said the CSR will be rescheduled very soon and offered her sincere apologies."

Marc also says to stay there for a bit ... and sure enough, the proctors arrive. Yay!

But wait ... what's this --?!?

"They showed up but talked during the whole dictation part of the test. I am so mad right now!"

Say what, now?

Soon a few more posts were made by the other participants in that "test:"

"It makes me so mad because we need the CSR to work here!!! Why is this not administered by court reporters????"

Another participant wrote: "We get three chances a year here in Illinois, and that is all. I can't believe those administering the test would be so inconsiderate (talking)."

Yet another Illinois resident wrote: " I complained about the last CSR in Chicago. The testing service sucks! More people need to complain so they can get a new one or change something at least!"

Another participant: "The talking was definitely a distraction. There was also talking during our written exam."

Yet another unhappy participant: "The exam in Illinois is a complete joke. Every time it's something else. The first time I took it, we had to switch rooms three times and two buildings between tests. No outlets. Can't print to check your work. No matter how hard you work they do a HORRIBLE job at administering the exam. It's diagusting dishing out so much money for something that they are horribly organized for and obviously don't care. In fact, the people that administer the tests are the ones that do the initial grading (also a joke!). We can't work without this test and yet it is such an awful experience. I wish the people administering the exam actually had something to do with court reporting and actually understood what we were going through!"

She continued: "Who do we complain to? The test is given by Department of Regulations. They don't care! I'd rather go to a different state and have it count for Illinois!"

And yet another unhappy participant: "I especially hate the switching rooms! Also they do not check to see if the test is deleted from your computer and machine."

I bet you're wondering how much this mess cost the participants ...

"$223 to take the IL CSR, too. They want the $$ but do not give the service."

"I hope people see this post and anyone who has ever had a poor experience based on an exam being given unprofessionally, not just this weekend, complains. Maybe they will actually have court reporters administer the exam. They really need to re-evaluate the entire test. When you see only 2 to 5 percent of people pass and people take the exam multiple times and don't pass then maybe they need to look into why this is and make a change."

Later on in the conversation these comments were lifted from, someone posted this screenshot:

Illinois Testing Blues

Illinois Testing Blues

Someone posted a link to a complaint form that might be of some use to the testers:

Update (25NOV15)

Alas, that link no longer works!Sorry about that. Lets hope it's because of all the complaints!

I hope this form was used often by those (rightfully so) unhappy participants .....

Update (20MAY15):

I had a chance to chat with one of the participants of that unfortunate "test" recently, and found that after trying to take the test two more times, she has completely given up on the field of court reporting.

Just before the last test, there was a death in the family. They were nice enough to push her test date back ... but by that time, she had already decided that enough was enough, and had found something else to do, careerwise, and asked for a refund.

They said no.

Let's just say my Facebook friend now has an attorney.

I don't think I'm alone in thinking that Illinois should really re-think how they're administering their CSR exam. How many more students will just give up because of the ineptness of the folks giving the exam?

Even one is too many.

Cheap and Sleazy Advice:

I HIGHLY RECOMEND that any and all court reporting students in Illinois should COMPLETELY IGNORE the Illinois state exam, and instead just take the RPR.

Update (15JUN15)

I was intormed that things are a bit better in Illinois these days ... as in, there was only one person running the CSR test, which cut down considerably on the conversations in the room, so that's something. Still, I think this is a "Watch-and-See" thing. Sometimes, it's all too easy for a company to fall back on to old habits ...

If you go that route, the only dealings you'll have with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation would be when you pay a fee for your license.

... and if you need to study for the RPR, you should definitely buy Monette's study guide.

You can also buy the complete set of her books here:

Yes, I know that the NCRA has recently updated their study guide, but I have also heard from at least one unhappy student that as soon as she looked through her $124 copy of the book, she noticed that a lot of the questions in the new book were the same as those that were in the old book ... so she immediately sent it back.

Here's her review in a nutshell:

"The cover is beautiful and the first 200 pages have great tips. After that, it's all of the questions from the original book."

"Oh, and they added two more practice tests. That was it."

Caveat Emptor.

15SEP15 Update

"Briefpedia? There's an app for that!"

As long as you're using an Android phone, that is ... and you can find it here:

 Briefpedia App

Briefpedia App

Note that if the Briefpedia website goes down for maintenance or any other reason, the app quits working.

Macs, Emulation and Stenovations

During a (mostly) pleasant conversation with Eric Jackson over at Stenovations the other day, he said he was unhappy with me, because apparently I have been telling people that they can use digitalCAT on their Macs.

Well, that's still true ... but the problem is, if you do, and they (Stenovations) find out during a troubleshooting session because the problem was with whatever it is you're using to run Windows on your Mac, you will lose all support from Stenovations ... as in, no more updates, and when your registration ends, you will not be allowed to re-register.

As for the reason behind this, apparently all of their support folks use Windows, and don't know Macs.

To me, this is an easy fix -- buy a Mac, have your techs learn to use it, then install any one of the four Windows emulators available out there, and see how things work.

I told Eric that I would write something for the next update to Cheap and Sleazy to spread the word ... but you know me, I got curious about the other vendors and their policy on Mac support, so I sent all of the vendors I could reach an e-mail:


"My name is Glen Warner, and as some of you may know, I run a court reporting student support site with the unlikely name of Cheap and Sleazy (

"I am in the process of writing a massive update of the site, and I was curious as to whether or not your company supports customers using your software on a Mac, running under one of the numerous Windows emulators available.

"I'm asking because one of the vendors -- who shall remain nameless -- took me to task recently for telling people that they could run their CAT software on a Mac, but this particular company's policy is if you do that, they don't support that, and will not keep you as a customer if you do and they find out that's what you're doing.

"In an effort to avoid having someone lose support over something I wrote, I thought it would be a good idea to ask each CAT vendor I could reach so I could see just what each company's policy is.

"Please be as specific as possible so I don't misrepresent your policy to my readers.

"Thank you for your time."



"For a Good (steno) Time ...."


I sent that on a Friday evening (18JUL14 to be exact), and it didn't take long before the replies began coming in ... and yes, each vendor was BCC'd (say "Blind Carbon Copied") the same message.

The first resonse: AristoCAT's Larry Hunt:




We have a number of customers running the AristoCAT software on a Mac. Some are using Boot Camp to boot to Windows and running it just as if it were a Windows computer and others are using Parallels under the Mac operating system. We have not had any reported problems that would cause us not to support the AristoCAT software under a Mac.

Larry Hunt


AristoCAT Development Corp.

Next up: Lisa, from ProCAT Support:


Greetings Glen,

While we don't encourage clients to use Winner on a virtual platform for numerous reasons, we do try to help as much as possible. I would encourage them if they've not already purchased the Mac to get one with an Intel processor so that they could partition the drive and install Windows straight to the partition as opposed to installing on a virtual machine. If you need more detail, let me know.

I hope this helps.


Next up: Jason Pardikes, (now) owner of Cheetah International:

Cheetah Apeiron:

Jason Pardikes

We do support Mac but not natively and we do it for both the software and writers. We will even go so far as to setup your mac or buy a Mac and set it up for you.

Next up: Greg Seely of Advantage Software:


As far as support goes, yes, we support people on Macs. I am aware of no significant problems running Windows software under Bootcamp. Until very recently when he upgraded to a more powerful computer, Jeremy did all his development on a MacBook Pro running under Bootcamp.



We will support Case CATalyst if it is on a Mac where Boot Camp is installed and running Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8. We will not support Case CATalyst if they are using Parallels or VMWare.

Here is a link to a document on our Help Desk that explains what we recommend:

Thank you,


Stenograph I Technical Support

596 W. Lamont Rd. I Elmhurst, IL 60126

P: 630.532.5100 I 1.800.323.4247

Cindi Hartman   Lynch elaborates on Stenograph's policy:

"Note that Procat, Stenograph and Advantage all recommend running CAT software via Boot Camp. The reason that CAT software companies shy away from virtual machine environments is that troubleshooting specific issues can be exceedingly difficult, time-consuming and/or impossible; whereas running via Boot Camp means that your CAT software is running EXACTLY the same way it would on a Windows PC.

"However, let me make this clear: users with a Stenograph support contract who have elected to run under Parallels or VMWare or other virtual platforms shouldn't shy away from contacting Tech Support for CATalyst questions. There are many situations where operating environment has no bearing on the question. If we are able to help, we *absolutely* will!

"But it's important to understand that if you've made the choice to use Parallels or Fusion or some other virtual environment, the possibility exists that we may not be able to assist with troubleshooting. We don't like to *ever* end a call without a solution; that's why our recommendation has been and remains to run in an environment that we *know* we can assist you."

Reader Reaction

I posted the initial message up there on the two Mac-related Facebook pages and got a few ... interesting reactions. I'll spare you and only share a couple ... but as you might guess, the reaction was anything but positive:

"That pisses me off, too. I e-mailed them about getting info on a LightSpeed and casually mentioned about running Windows on a Mac.

"Their response was pretty much 'We don't want your business.'"

"Being that they make a machine that the majority of reporters are not interested in using, I think they should be a bit more accommodating. Moreover, the type of CR who's going to consider a LS is exactly the type who is not afraid of taking the plunge and working with a Mac."

Another response:

"I'm following this as I have a Lightspeed and a Macbook Air -- I just haven't dared make the switch yet out there in the real world. I have tested it at home and it seems to be fine, but the lack of support from Stenovations is definitely a concern.

"I think Stenovations is very short-sighted with this since Apple is so enormous and so many people are making the switch -- even reporters who have until recently generally stuck with Windows on the whole. I think they need to think about how many potential customers they are losing by refusing to support Apple."

"I don't want to discredit them (Stenovations) in any way, but I would like to ask a genuine question. Is it really that different working on Windows via Boot Camp than it is on a standard Windows machine?

"Are there any Eclipse staff on the page that could answer the question? I know Eclipse support Mac users using boot camp."

And yet another response:

"I queried with Stenovations about using my LightSpeed on a Mac as I was having freezing issues and wanted to check about LightSpeed updates.

"I was told they don't support it on a Mac! I said it wasn't stated anywhere on their media or on their website and they were quite stroppy about it!"

While I also didn't recall seeing anything that said the equivalent of "No Macs!!" on the site, I decided to do a Google search of the site for the term "Mac" and see what comes up:

Search for Macs on Stenovations' website

Search for Macs on Stenovations' Website

Of course, it goes without saying that you should ignore the ad at the top of that screenshot for makeup ....

Well. That's enough about that.

Interestingly, I've always thought that digitalCAT was the most Mac-like of all the CATs I've looked at/used. Too bad there will probably never be a true Mac version ...

"Say Hello to my Li'l Friend!"

Ace reporter, speed contest participant (and past president of the NCRA) Melanie Sontag acquired a new friend at the 2013 NCRA convention:

Limited Edition Diamante

Limited Edition Diamante

Anyone want to guess her new friend's name?

The five thousand or so of you that yelled out the name, "Crystal" win the prize!

For those of you experiencing technolust over Melanie's baby, I'm afraid the news is not good ... Crystal was a limited edition ... and Melanie won her in a raffle put on by the NCRF.

Pretty, huh? :o)

For those of you wondering what "The Prize" is that I mentioned, well, you won the satisfaction of knowing that you guessed the right name!

Yay, you! :o)

Did Someone Say, "Convention?!?"

Yes, I know, I know ... I have been a bit lax in updating Cheap and Sleazy, so I didn't write anything up during the last convention.

Fortunately, even if I'm not writing and uploading stuff, I *AM* making notes, downloading pictures, etc.... which is how it is that I just so happen to have that picture of Melanie Sontag's new toy -- er, work tool.

As you know, a couple of the folks that contributed articles to or were mentioned on Cheap and Sleazy over the years were participating in the speed contest. Some of those participants included Kathryn "Do-It-Yourself Shim" Thomas, Stan "Young Man With a Gemini" Sakai, Mark "Mark Sez" Kislingbury, and the amazing Dee "Flaming Passport" Boenau.

For the one or two folks out there that didn't hear the results of the contest, there was no winner.

Apparently, they futzed with the times a bit, so the contestants had less time to edit their transcripts than when Mark broke the record a couple of years back.

Stan gave me a pretty good explanation of all of the times (writing, editing, etc.), but I appear to have lost track of those notes (frelling spammers!).

Sorry about that!

Dee's Passport Touch

I'm sure you're probably aware that Dee Boenau was one of the early testers of the new Passport Touch.

The Passport Touch in Black

The Passport Touch in Black

What you're probably not aware of is that she didn't use it during the contest! Apparently she had to send the test unit she had at the time back to Advantage for some tweaking.

As you might guess, she was unhappy ... but she soldiered on anyway!

She gave a good explanation of what is entailed in testing a new writer on her Facebook page:

I want to clear up any confusion about me using the Passport Touch.

I have NOT been using the Touch since approximately the middle of July. I did beta test the machine since about the beginning of the year and used the machine on television in March.

I commented rarely on the beta unit because it's expected that a beta tester will find issues, and I didn't want to scare people away. Beta testing is a time-consuming and stressful process. I had to send the machine back to Advantage Technology in July because it was a beta version of the Touch, and the next version had different hardware, software, and keyboard.

I then received two machines at different times, and both were not usable for different reasons and had to be returned. That's why I don't have the Touch right now and why I did not use the Touch in this year's contests or the Guinness attempt.

I was hoping by this time I would be using a version of the Touch with the hardware and software that others are receiving and would be shouting its praises. Instead I find myself waiting to hear what others think. Strange turn of events.

When I was beta testing, I really focused on the accuracy of the keyboard. I'm very interested in hearing how the adjustments and anti-stacking features are working for those who have purchased the machine.

You may see videos on YouTube, and some yet to be posted, where I am using the Touch, but those videos were taken earlier in the year. Hopefully I'll get back on the Touch.

If a sales rep or anyone says I am using the Touch, please correct them because I am NOT using the machine; I do not have the machine and have not tested the version of hardware or version of software that buyers are receiving.

Court Reporters on TV

On my last outing, you might recall I had a bit of a discussion of Canadian reporter Cynthia Yan's TV appearance on "Suits."

... and speaking of which, I found another shot of Ms. Yan in action:

cynthia yan in suits

Cynthia Yan in "Suits"

Anyway, this time out, we have a couple reporters in news segments on their local TV stations ... plus another soon-to-be-working reporter, who has been spending some quality time appearing as an extra in a few different TV shows lately! :o)

First up: Rhoda Collins:

Rhoda Collins on the News

Rhoda Collins on the News

Rhoda says they were doing a story about a mall in her area where the owner apparently "forgot" to pay his taxes. He didn't appear, but his lawyers did. The Court fined him $100,000.


Erica Shueler's News Debut

Erica Shueler's News Debut

Here in center stage we have reporter Erica Shueler, writing about the case of a fellow who claims to have been told by God to kill the husband of a woman he says he was destined to be with. Says Erica:

"That's me before I chopped my hair off!"

Another reporter made her TV debut on the season premier of The Bachelorette this past season. Alas, I'm not sure of the name of this reporter, but you can see her in action below:

CR TV: The Bachelorette

CR TV: The Bachelorette

CRs as Extras

Long-time readers of Cheap and Sleazy are probably tired of me talking about my adventure as a movie extra in the aforementioned movie, "The Hunt for Red October," so I won't post a link here.

Besides, I think I mentioned it in that bit about my dad's movie debut! :o)

Recent CCR graduate Shelley Duhon has been making a few waves doing work as an extra.

If I recall correctly, she has appeared in "Drop Dead Diva," "Devious Maids," and "The Originals."

Here's a few shots of her in action:

shelley duhon extra duty drop dead diva

Shelley Duhon Extra Duty: Drop Dead Diva

Here she is again in another episode of the same show:

Shelley Duhon Extra Duty: Drop Dead Diva II

Shelley Duhon Extra Duty: Drop Dead Diva II

... and here she is in an episode of "The Originals:"

 Shelley Duhon Extra Duty: "The Originals"

Shelley Duhon Extra Duty: "The Originals"

As you can see, in this scene, Shelley is having a drink, and is outlined in that purple circle there, so you can actually see her!

Naturally, I asked her how she got the roles, and ... well. Let me do some copying and pasting:

Q. How did you get that gig?

A. Glen, there was a casting call on the news. I submitted and was chosen. I get called to work as a court reporter about twice weekly.

Q. Very nice! Do you know how long they'll keep using you?

A. They are just about finished filming. I expect to get called at least one more time. I'm on about five other episodes.

Q. Is it for the same case?

A. Glen, it's different cases.

Q. That's good! Maybe they'll give you a few lines ...

At one point I asked Shelley How she managed to get those other roles, and she said that one day she was having lunch on the lot where she was doing her first gig as an extra, and started chatting with a couple of other women who were also doing extra duty.

These women introduced her to the casting director of the shows they were working on, and that's how she went from being in just the one show, to being in the others as well.

The last I heard from Shelley, she was doing some work for Tyler Perry.

Good luck, Shelley!

Oh, and did I mention that she passed her final 225 test? Congratulations, once again, Shelley!


Of late, there have be a few T-shirts aimed at court reporters ... and, while I didn't actually buy any, I did manage to get a few pictures.

And so, without further ado ...

First up, we have the "Never Under Estimate the Power of a Court Reporter:"

Never Underestimate the Power of a Court Reporter

Never Underestimate the Power of a Court Reporter

... and you can find that one here:

Here's one that's pretty much guaranteeed to make your favorite female court reporter smile:

Only the Finest Women Become Court Reporters

Only the Finest Women Become Court Reporters

You can get that one here:

Of course, this one is a "must-have:"

Keep Calm, I'm a Court Reporter

Keep Calm, I'm a Court Reporter

Of course, it goes without saying that you probably shouldn't wear this one to a dep.

... at least, not where anyone can see.

Want one? Go here:

One more for the ladies:

All Women are Created Equal Except Court Reporters

All Women are Created Equal Except Court Reporters

... and you can find that one here:

Update (25NOV15)

Alas, that one also doesn't work anymore ... but at least you have the picture!

Here's one for the typical court reporting student:

Court Reporting Student: Stressed Out, Tired, and Broke

Court Reporting Student: Stressed Out, Tired, and Broke

That about sums it up ... and you can find that one here:

One for the Transcriptionists out there:

keep calm and let the transcriptionist handle it

Get that one here:

Writer Repairs

Every once in a while, I'll find someone on Facebook who bought themselves a used writer, only to discover that the company they bought it from are not actually trained on how to repair them -- and those unhappy users are folks that bought either a LightSpeed, a Passport, a Diamante, or an Impression, without doing a wee bit of due diligence first.

For those folks -- and those who were about to join them in their misery -- here's a good rule of thumb:

Nobody can repair a Diamante, a LightSpeed, a Passport, or an Impression except for the company that made the writer to begin with.

Of course, this may change, but until it does, I highly recommend that you call the company that makes the object of your technolust desire, and ask them who can repair their writer.

If they say something like, "Nobody but us," then you should ask how would you go about getting your desired writer serviced if anything should happen to it.

At that point, you will have to weigh the options -- buying that refurb from somebody who can't actually fix it, or buying a used one from the company directly, or just biting the bullet and buying one new.

Stenograph sells used writers, and you can find them here:

As you might guess, they only sell Waves and Diamantes.

If your wallet or purse has spiderwebs in it like mine does, you can try contacting the manufacturer of the object of your Technolust directly and asking them if they have taken any used writers in trade that they want to get rid of.

Chances are good, though, that you will need to send that writer somewhere to get it serviced, because most of the time, they're too busy to do anything beyond turning it on and making sure it passes the "Smoke Test" -- that is, when they plugged it in and turned it on, it didn't catch fire.

That is a Good Thing.

... but it may still need some work, even if it's just a basic cleaning.

Cheap and Sleazy Financing Trick

Okay, so let's say you have saved your money and are about to buy yourself a new writer (because you know that money is just burning a hole in your pocket/wallet/purse/piggy-bank, right?).

Before you go out and plunk down all that money on that new toy -- er, tool, check with your local credit union or bank, and see if they offer what's known as a "secured loan."

Please note that I have no affiliation with the bank in that link up there; it's just the one that had the best explanation of what a secured loan was.

For the click-shy, you would take that money you were going to plunk down on your new toy -- er, tool, put it into a savings account, and borrow against that money -- which, of course, while it's in your savings account, you will have no access to it, so you can't spend it.

So you buy your new toy -- er, tool, make your payments on that secured loan for whatever period of time you specify during the loan discussion, and at the end of the loan period, you get your money back, AND you still have your new toy -- er, tool!

... not to mention the plus points on your credit report.

Now, it's probably tempting to take that money and go out and buy something really nice, but hold off on that thought. I mean, you've done without that money just fine for the past year or so, right?

In that case, leave it in your savings account. Let that interest accumulate.

When the time comes for another car, writer, or whatever, you can do the same thing again, with the same money.

You want to make your money work for you ... not against you.

Well. I do, anyway.

CAT Updates

While I was busy fighting off the advances of those frelling hackers, both Case Catalyst and Eclipse came out with an update or two.

Here's newlywed Cindi Hartman Lynch explaining what's new in Case Catalyst 16:

GLEN WARNER: Hi, Cindi. Can you tell the readers of Cheap and Sleazy what's coming up in Case Catalyst 16?

CINDI LYNCH: Glen Warner, There's a link on the to What's New in Version 16 that lists the top six "OMG" new feature, but there are several dozen new features and enhancements in this version. I don't see a "list" on the web site and of course, those who are updating will get this information in the Release Notes and Readme, but just FYI, the new features and enhancements include:

Case Prep, CARTView, new Audio Compression codecs, Themes, start work units from the writer, Define EZ Speakers from the writer during realtime, Power Define Suspend, Enhanced Scan Define capabilities, a Remove Suffix command, Xtrtra Global Table for scopists (to be able to more easily apply steno and text defines to jobs when their reporter-clients don't do dictionary maintenance/updating); flagging of Live Suggestions and Briefs to use with dictionary filtering or searches, Overwritten files go to the Recycle Bin, enhancements to Mistran Minder, Redaction Display and page numbering options for included, merged, appended or multi-file appended files; updated Exceptional Extras (with new macros and keyboard map shortcus) and updated Self-Study Guides, and dozens of minor enahncement requests for options or feature behavior have been addressed.

GLEN WARNER: Thank you, Cindi!

I like the recycle bin idea! That should keep folks from pulllng their hair out, I would imagine.

CINDI LYNCH: Yes, Glen - both users *and* support reps who previously had to deliver the bad news when someone overwrote something that wasn't backed up!

BTW - the existence of that wonderful new enhancement will not stop me from advocating strict and fanatically-adhered-to back up habits!!!

Advantage Software, the company behind the Passport Touch and Eclipse are feverishly working on Eclipse 7. In fact, they're so excited over there, they made a video ... but Texas court reporter and longtime Eclipse user Breck Record posted a few of the depails:

BRECK RECORD: Here is what's coming:

Auto-block feature for in-court boilerplate text

If you work in any situation where speakers of any kind will occasionally pepper their remarks with the use of prepared texts, this feature is for you.

It's intended primarily for reporters who work in court where judges may use dozens of prepared statements such as jury charges, etc.

The way it works is that Eclipse can now detect that you are writing something that matches one of these prepared texts and will allow you to pick one off the list so that Eclipse can complete it for you.

For example, you might write "As the jury in this" and the software will show a pop-up window containing numbered lines "1: (Criminal Jury Charge.ecl), you will be the judges of the facts..." "2: (Civil Jury Charge.ecl), you will be..." etc.

You can then pick one, and the rest of the text will be filled in. Note that you can write as much as you want before this happens, or simply continue writing. Eclipse will always pick up from where you stopped writing the text.

Here's how it works:

Create a folder for these prepared texts. Create "descriptive file name.ecl" files in that folder.

Under User settings/Programming/File locations, add an AUTOBLOCK line such as --

AUTOBLOCK={JOB}Blocks/Auto or AUTOBLOCK={JOB}Prepared texts or AUTOBLOCK={MAIN}Shared auto-blocks or whatever.

Put the following line in your Metadictionary (this will become part of the defaults for new users)


Add lines to your main dictionary for selecting auto-blocks. You probably only need a few numbers, since the list will be narrowed down depending on how many different blocks match the text that you have written so far:




etc. (the actual steno is entirely up to you.)

Once you have made these preparations, any time you are writing realtime and you see the auto-block pop-up window, you can hit one of the {AUTOBLOCKx} dictionary entries with the number of the block you want to use, and that will be filled in automatically.

AccuCap News

(or, "But Wait -- There's More!")

Not to be out done, Advantage Software also made a few updates to their captioning suite, AccuCap:

AccuCap users, with Version 6.0, you can do now do live YouTube captioning. Here's the scoop:

- YouTube captioning added to output list

Working in collaboration with developers at Google, We have added a captioning output specifically for YouTube live streaming events.

Under User settings/Realtime/Output, there is now an output type that reads "YouTube Captioning." It has its own communications method, so the COM/File/etc. setting is ignored.

Since the size, position, etc., are all controlled by the YouTube side, the caption formatting settings normally intended for broadcast are entirely ignored.

The only setting that is used is the URL/Header setting. When captioning a YouTube live event, you will need to get the URL for the event, which includes the event id and special keys, and copy/paste it into this text box.

This is a technology that requires extra coordination with the event organizers. YouTube live events are actually 30 seconds or so behind real-time in order to handle all of the data buffering, so it is necessary to have a live feed of the audio that is real-time in order to provide captioning.

The YouTube output from AccuCap timecodes each word, and Google's captioning data servers take that data and, using those timecodes, interleave it with the video in the background to synchronize the captions before sending the data to the viewers.

The User settings/Document/Timecode/Offset setting can be used to adjust how early or late the captions appear for the viewers. Note that because of the time delay, it is actually possible to have captions appear slightly before the words are spoken. Many hearing-impaired viewers prefer this.

Don't Stop me if you've Heard This One, but ...

"But wait -- There's More!

Yes, that's right -- Advantage isn't done yet! Seems there's a serious update to their Bridge Mobile program, which is basically a realtime viewer that used to be free, but has been improved quite a bit, so now it's no longer free.

Here's the skinny, from ace reporter Mike Friedman, by way of Facebook:

Now hear this! I have some answers from Eclipse regarding BridgeMobile.

I spoke to one of the techs, who appeared way more knowledgeable than the sales folks I've tried to pry answers from.

As of 2/24, reporters will have to pay $279 for the ability to write RT via BridgeMobile.

The website is STAYING. is not going anywhere, and can still be used. The website is "view only". Attorneys can scroll, maybe mark a portion or two, but cannot write notes or save the file (which is good, I think, because that's what upselling a rough is for).

As of 2/24, there will be an IOS app available, but the android app is still in development.

If attorney or reporter chooses to install an app, there is both a free and a paid version. The free version has the same limited features as the website. Within the app, there is an option to pay for the premium version that will allow the user to mark, annotate and save the feed to a PDF or other file. Attorney's choice if they want to pay.

I hope this helps. Oh, and you need a current support contract.

If anyone else has anything to add, please go ahead. That, at least, covered my questions on the matter. The big disconnect was that the sales folks were saying the website was shutting down and the whole operation was going to be app based, but that is obviously not true.

There you have it ... and you can find a .pdf which explains the differences between the the standard and professional versions of BridgeMobile here.

Did you say, "Technolust?!?"

Well, probably not ... but that's an easy fix! Feast your squinties -- er, take a look at this one from Stenovations.

I've been informed that that is just a mockup of something that's under development, so that's something to look forward to ...!

And then there's this one:

Digitext Edge

Digitext Edge

Like that?

What you're looking at in that picture is a writer designed for tablets running, in this case, Windows 8, and Case Catalyst.

If you're feeling that feeling of Technolust, then you're probably going to want to go here.

Oh, and if you're thinking about learning to steno, Digitext has a deal for you ...!

Also, just in case ...

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