The Archives

(Or "Here There Be Old Stuff")

So. Here there be old stuff.

Had to trim away the old stuff on the main page. I saved that page as a .pdf once, and I watched the page count go up ... first to 10 ... then to 20 ... 35 ... 45 .... 50 ... and at that point, my eyes glazed over --!

Hence the trimming.

Enjoy the Old Stuff!


Update (07APR06)

First, an update on my "All Mac, All the Time" experience (running Virtual PC and digitalCAT on my Mac) yesterday:

It went *great*! No problems at all, in fact ... except for the glacially slow startup process of Windows. To counter that, I start Virtual PC before I leave home. During those last second preparations, Windows starts, and I put the PowerBook to sleep (by closing the lid). Open the lid, and it's ready to go. Still, I think my mighty Toshiba will be relegated to work on the home front (that is, I'll use it to do my transcription work at home).

I even have Speed Teacher inistalled! I haven't tried using both DC and Speed Teacher together as yet (no time), but that's next.

An Advertisement for Captioning ... More or Less

While perusing the CR forums this morning, I came across this virtual advertisement for the virtues of captioning:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td-KKmcYtrM

Fortunately, I'm fairly sure that not all lawyers act like that.

I hope.

Let's see ... what's that captioning come-on? Work at home, pink bunny slippers, and ... no lawyers.

There's a rather lively discussion going on about it on the CompuServe CR forum.... but I think I'll post a link and a question over at the Texas-based Depoman forums ....

Update (05APR06)

"Sex ... and Power (Pt. 1)"

Those of you who have read my article The Good Stuff probably already know that that phrase refers to "Apple iCEO for Life" Steve Jobs' phrase on the introduction of the then-new, razor-thin G4 PowerBook (don't believe me? It made the news!).

Yeah, so, you ask? Well, Part One is my announcement that I finally (*FINALLY*) got digitalCAT running on my drool-worthy G4 PowerBook!

I had been trying on and off for about a year or so ... but was unable to do it successfully for various reasons: Not enough RAM in my G4 iBook (remember, you can *never* have enough RAM), then when I upgraded to my current G4 PowerBook with 1GB of RAM, I was able to get it to run ... but it wouldn't talk to my ProCAT Flash ... and indeed, it would crash Virtual PC whenever I hooked up the Keyspan USB adapter.

As luck would have it, the realtime kit for my other (damaged fixed!, and not for sale!) ProCAT Flash included a USB adapter by a company called Tripp Lite. Hunted around the internet for the driver (did I mention that all I had to work with was a model number ... and no company name? Google *is* your friend!), found, downloaded, and installed it, hooked everything up, and (like the man said), "EUREKA!!"

"Sex ... and Power" in Action

"It's Alive ... Alive!!"

What you are looking at there is digitalCAT running inside Virtual PC there on the left, a Mac OS X Finder window (showing, coincidentally (of course), a preview of my new favorite desktop picture!), and on the far right, my Mac's desktop (see where it says "Glenz PowerBook?").

Naturally, I normally run digitalCAT full screen; this image is just to show you that it is, indeed, running on my PowerBook.

I ran DC in class for about two hours yesterday, with no problems at all -- until I began to run out of power (having brilliantly left my power adapter at home). Having learned from that particular blunder, I will be trying it again, for a full day ... and I will let my instructor have at it (she's at 200 wpm; a wee bit faster than my 100 wpm, I would say).


Update:

My instructor, Crystal "Fast Fingers" R. was kind enough to check my setup for lag with those 200 wpm fingers of hers ... and I am most pleased to announce the following: There was no lag at all between strokes on my steno machine and the translation on my PowerBook!!

I think I just might leave my mighty Toshimba -- er, Toshiba -- home today.

Update Numba Two:

After using this setup for a couple weeks, I discovered if I simply quit Virtual PC instead of shutting down Windows and *then* quitting, when I start Virtual PC again, it starts just as if I had rebooted ...! Takes a lot less time, too.


So. That was Part One. You just *know* there's a Part Two, right?

"Sex ... and Power (Pt. 2)"

I got an e-mail from a fellow Mac-user who is getting ready to run Eclipse on her daughter's MacBook Pro. Seems Apple has released something called Boot Camp ... which allows Intel-based Macs to boot into Windows XP! Presumably, they have fixed the fan issue ...

Still ... I like the idea of virtualization (see the 23MAR06 update) instead of the dual-boot option ... but, if I had my choice, I'd rather run my CAT software directly, without going through Windows!

That's what the idea behind the Darwine Project is ... but they have a bit of a long way to go before they have something useable by non-programmers.

Waiting ... waiting .... (*whistles and stenos*)

Update (03APR06)

Jeremy Thorne, the software ninja behind the Passport's operating system, answered my queries about some of the Passport's features. You can read it at the end of the below update.

Update (01APR06)

Okay, so this is a really bad day for a guy with my sense of humor to be making any updates ... but I have found something that will interest those of you lusting after the Passport.

Passport Update (1APR06)

I found this on the CR Net forum, posted by Jeremy Thorne in response to someone whose writer was definitely on its last legs:

> Any word on the Passport writer? I've waited about as long as
> I can for the Passport, and am hoping someone knows when it's likely
> to come out. Any suggestions on writers? I'm thinking of Stenograph's
> Mira, but am worried about its compatability with Eclipse. Any thoughts?

I'll weigh in here:

Don't wait.

A while back, I would have told people to hold out because I didn't want people to spend a lot of money on a writer that was to a large degree incompatible.

However, Stenograph has stepped up to the plate and has made the A3 much more compatible than previous Miras: You can now directly read the notes from a SD memory card reader, and they have an RTF dictionary converter. Even though they didn't release the USB interface specs, they didn't encrypt the protocol, either, so I was able to write a USB interface in the latest version of the Eclipse program (currently the development version, but it will be released as 4.1 in August.)

Combine that with the fact that the A3 uses standard WAV file formats so that if you record audio on the A3 it syncs up perfectly with Eclipse (or any other CAT system) and you have a writer that is very compatible with Eclipse, including the following functions:

-- Realtime through the serial port

-- Read notes through the serial port

-- Realtime through the USB port

-- Read notes through the USB port

-- Wireless realtime

-- Wireless read notes

-- Load your dictionary on the Mira for seeing realtime on the Mira display

-- Record audio on the Mira and copy it to Eclipse and it will sync with the transcript

That should do the trick, eh? So as far as compatibility and functionality are concerned, there's no reason to wait. Incidentally, if you're shopping around, the Stentura Fusion is also just as compatible.

So is the ProCAT Stylus. I've even had the pleasure of working directly with some of the people on the ProCAT development team to work out some extra compatibility functionality, such as importing relative timecodes from the Stylus RTF files, meaning that audio synchronization is always precise without having to play with timecode offsets.

So, what about the Passport? It's coming, but not next month.

You know that Dyson guy on the TV commercials who talks about his revolutionary new vacuum cleaner? Well, he spent 15 years developing it and made 5,000 prototypes. Yes, when it was done, it was truly revolutionary, and it's now selling like hotcakes and making people's lives easier.

If he had settled on an early half-working prototype as "good enough" it would be just another good idea that was never quite realized, but he stuck to it and made it work.

However, anyone who found out about his project and waited around for it to become available would have had a very, very dirty house, and no matter how good the machine was, they would have been really aggravated by the time they finally aquired one.

We just got the most recent prototype of the Passport assembled. This is the first version that I've held in my hands and thought, "Now this looks and feels like an actual writer." If you've seen previous prototypes, you won't recognize this one. The keyboard feels better and the plastic housing is a totally different design. But it's still not a production model, and even though most of the parts have been finalized and will not be changed, there's no telling what else will come up as we work out the rest of the kinks.

I have no question that the Passport will eventually be a revolutionary machine, which is partly why it's taken so long. We could have finished it sooner if we had settled for old-school on/off switces for keys, limited adjustability, lousy battery life, or any of a dozen other cop-outs and shortcuts. But that's not how we do things. EclipseNT was the LAST Windows CAT system because I didn't want to rush a poorly designed product out the door. We lost some software sales to people who couldn't wait; some of them eventually came back, and others are perfectly happy with the system they bought, but I don't regret the delay one bit because it was and is the product it needed to be.

What I don't want is to have our customers or prospective customers get angry at us because they can't wait. And I don't want people who buy the very first Passports off the assembly line to go ballistic over tiny things that need tweaking because they had been waiting so long. The ideal customer for the first version of the Passport will be a faithful and enthusiastic Eclipse user who has a reliable backup writer and who can be a little bit patient with us if there are production issues that remain to be worked out. Even the first Miras needed tweaking. Fortunately, there are a number of Howard Levines out there who fit that description nicely. What worries me are users with nearly-dead writers buying a Passport out of desperation and who are wound up tight, ready to explode at the first sign of trouble.

The Passport is not my project. Eclipse is my project. That's partly why I can be objective and realistic about it. I don't want to alienate our own customers or tarnish the name of our company over an accessory. If you desperately need a new writer, buy one of the ones available now and use it with Eclipse without the slightest doubt about its efficacy. If you don't desperately need a new writer, but you are interested in pushing the envelope of new technology, hold out for a Passport, because it's going to be an exciting ride.

Jeremy

In short, "Good things come to those who wait."

I, of course, responded to this thread with a couple questions ... like, "Are there any pictures of the new prototype?", and "What is meant by the term "Wireless read notes?"

With any luck, I'll get an answer to these and any other questions posted in this particular thread and update the Technolust and the Good Stuff articles to reflect the new information.

Passport Update, Part Duh

Pardon my French ... but Jeremy answered my questions ...! Instead of putting them above this update (which would look weird, in my opinion), I have affixed it to the end of this one.

Posted by Jeremy Thorne on Monday, 3 April 2006, at 5:14 p.m., in response to Re: Passport, posted by G.D. Warner on Saturday, 1 April 2006, at 3:30 p.m.

> First, will this update appear under the "Pasport Updates"
> link on the main page?

No. It's not an official word. It's just my personal opinion. Actually, nothing about Greg's official letter has changed.

> Next, are there any pictures of the new prototype that can be
> posted (same page)?

I wish I could. I think it looks really good, but there's still some question about the color, the texture, the extra keys, and a couple of other small items, and we don't want to post more pictures that might not end up being exactly what it finally looks like.

Besides, the prototype shell is made using a digital 3-D printing process that makes the whole thing kind of look like it was made from microscopic lego blocks, so it's not representative of the final product.

> Finally, what did you mean by "wireless read notes"?

You can set up Eclipse to read from cable instead of from the diskette or SD card. If you have your wireless device hooked up, you can read notes using that connection just as easily as you can do realtime through it.

Jeremy

And there you have it, folks ...!

Update (31MAR06)

Recently, while perusing the Macintosh news site, MacCNN, I found a set of instuctions which showed me how to modify my Apple G4 PowerBook's DVD player to allow me to take a screenshot.

"So what?" you ask?

Well, since you asked ...

Way, way back in the day, while stationed onboard the USS MISSOURI (BB 63), I got a chance to be an extra in the movie The Hunt for Red October, along with a few other people from other ships stationed at the Naval Station in Long Beach, CA.

We were there primarily to ensure that the movie was technically correct -- that is, the Operations Specialists (those are the guys that look at the radar screens on surface ships) were there to ensure the radar display went the right direction (among other things, I'm sure), the Sonar Technicians (those are the guys that work on some surface ships and submarines that use sound to locate objects under water) were there to ensure that the various pings heard by the sonar operators were correct (among other things, I'm sure), and Radiomen (that's what I was at the time; I basically typed Naval messages and spoke on various secure telephone circuits -- so basically, I got to talk on the phone and send e-mail!) were there to make sure that the mockups of the radiotelephones and other equipment used on the set were working properly ... and therin (well, for me, anyway) lies the problem.

As I mentioned, we were in the movie to act as technical specialists/consultants, and to let the assistant director know if things weren't working right.

One of the scenes I was to be in had me walk to a radiotelephone, pick it up, key it, and look like I was talking.

Alas, when I picked up the radiotelephone, the wrong color button was lit ... and when I pushed the button, the other button lit -- also with the wrong color!

I, of course, told the assistant director about the problem. Instead of having the wires switched in the phone, they shot the scene anyway ... and cut out part of my big movie debut --!

So here, for all to see, is part of my big movie debut. The fellow in the foreground is -- well, was; he's probably retired by now -- the XO of a real live submarine -- the name of which I forget. The fellow in the background with the big, red arrow pointing at his head, is me!

Alas, due to my honesty, if you were to watch the movie, my Big Scene would last long enough such that if you blinked at the wrong time, you would miss me.

Like the man said: "Honesty: Don't believe the hype!"

My Movie Debut (don't blink!)

My Movie Debut! Don't Blink, or You'll Miss me!

Also, see those hands up there on the right hand side of the screen, in the foreground? Those belong to James Earl Jones. I was too nervous to talk to him -- but I notice I was not alone in that feeling; nobody went up to talk to the man behind the voice of Darth Vader.

Still kicking myself for that boneheaded move.

On the other hand, I did talk to Jeffrey Jones, the principal from Ferris Bueller's Day Off ... I even met Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi, from Star Trek: The Next Generation) while wandering around the studio lot during a lunch break. She's a lot shorter in person, if anyone's curious.

Update (23MAR06)

Got digitalCAT? Live in Washington, Oregon, or Idaho? Want Some Training?

Carmen Santone, the Director of Sales over at Stenovations wants to know ...! He is planning on being in the Seattle area on the weekend of the 22nd and 23rd of April, and wants to gauge interest on providing training in the area. The best way to let him know is to send him an e-mail! You can reach him at csantone@stenovations.com. Tell him I sent you!

Hope to see you there ...!

More XP on Mac Stuff ...

As I mentioned a couple days back, two guys figured out how to get Windows XP to boot on the new Apple systems running on Intel chips.

There is one major problem with this method: Windows doesn't know how to turn on the internal fans of the MacBook ... so there is a danger of overheating. I'm sure the prize winners (and soon, other programmers as the code goes open source) will find a fix for that sooner or later.

There is another contest underway to fix this issue -- sort of.

The goal of this contest is not to boot into Windows, but to run Windows like an application, in its own window, and it's own protected memory space, and take advantage of what Apple calls Fast User Switching ... which is weird to look at the first time, but basically you make a selection from a menu, and the information you're looking at on your screen sort of detatches itself, rotates as if it's on a cube, and the other user's environment becomes what you are looking at.

Well, so my descriptive skills need work ... but Apple has a picture (and a movie! Click the picture) that explains it better:

Apple's Fast User Switching in action ... sort of.

Apple's Fast User Switicing in Action ... Sort of.

So, that's the goal of this particular contest. As I write this, the prize is $593, and the deadline is 17JUN06. We'll see how that one goes ....

Update (22MAR06)

A Cheap and Sleazy Mocha Warning

The Date: Saturday, March 18, 2006.

The time: About 5:00 AM

The Music: The Twilight Zone theme

Picture, if you will: One court reporting student, and proprietor of Cheap and Sleazy Dot Net. Our hero is busy updating ol' Cheap and Sleazy ... and watching a few video taped TV shows (being careful to do the updates only during the commercials, of course ...). Suddenly, there is this ... sound!

"Whazzat?!" our hero wonders? Then, with a sinking feeling, he realizes what it was ... that's right, a yawn.

Fortunately, our hero knows how to fix a yawn ...! Yes, that's right ... make a Cheap and Sleazy Mocha --! Since it's late at night, gotta have that coffee fudge chunk ice cream as well!

Alas, he was a little short on the ice cream (his roomie likes the ice cream as well), so he mixed the chocolate, milk, and the coffee (three spoonfuls this time), nuked it, and put it in the freezer while he made a "midnight" run to the local Safeway.

He bought more stuff than he planned, but no matter. He rushed home, made the mocha, and went back to a few hours of videos and web slinging (and no, not in the Spiderman way), all the while sipping on that mocha and nibbling on ... well, whatever that was he was nibbling on.

"So what?" you ask? Well, let us move forward in time.

11:00 am ... and we find our hero wide awake, and unable to sleep.

6:00 pm ... and we find our hero still wide awake, and still unable to sleep.

Sunday, 6:00 pm ... and we find our hero still wide awake, and still unable to sleep ...!

Sunday, 11:30 pm ... and we find our hero still wide awake, and still unable to sleep ...!

Monday, 4:00 pm ... and we finally find our hero fast asleep. Unfortunately, his alarm is going off, and he can't hear it.

So, I'm guessing you're starting to see a pattern, right? If not, let me spell it out for you.

Three tablespoons of coffee in your Cheap and Sleazy Mocha is TOO MUCH!!!!

As you can see from what happened to our furry friend there, there are possible side effects ...

Kelly Freas' cover for Conscience Interplanetary

Too much caffine --!

R.I.P., Frank Kelly Freas! You will be missed.

Update (22MAR06)

So I was Googling myself -- more or less -- the other day to see if my Cheap and Sleazy Mocha page made it into the search engines (it did, thankyouverymuch) ... and I came across something called the Cheap and Sleazy Chocolate Mousse! As my culinary skillz are best left to microwave popcorn and frozen pizzas (my roomie loves 'em!), I need a culinary whiz to make this and tell me if it's worthwhile.

Any volunteers?

Billy Idol

Googling Myself, Oh, Oh, Oh-Oh ...

Update (17MAR06)

First, a hearty Happy Saint Patrick's Day to my (Irish-Catholic) roomie and all of you out there wearing the green because you are actually Irish or ... just in case!

Next, the contest is over! If you have a MacBook Pro or one of the Intel-based iMacs (and you're braver than me) you can download the bootloader here.

I will be haunting my local Mac stores to see if anyone has gone ahead an installed Windows on one of the demo systems ... and if so, I'll be loading a few things on that Windows partition myself -- namely, digitalCAT, my dictionary, Speed Teacher, and a driver for my Keyspan USB adapter ... and see how well this system runs!

Don't hold your breath waiting for a report ... but I'll do what I can as soon as I can.

For those brave souls who want to try this on your own, make sure you read the How To and the FAQ before you make the attempt! I don't know if Apple stores have a "You Break it, you Bought it" policy, but assume they do ... and bring along your first born -- just in case you need something to bargain with.

(As usual, should you or any of your fellow cheap and sleazy agents get caught while attempting this, my secretary will disavow any knowledge of ... well, anything!)

Update (14MAR06)

Did a little trimming of old material (copied and pasted the text of this page into a Word document; 51 pages!!) and moved the HAL 9000 Apple Computer commercial to another page ... because when I looked at it on my roommate's computer, it just started playing! Very annoying.

Also updated the Technolust and The Good Stuff to reflect the Passport update (below), and a few other bits and pieces that should have been rolled into those respective articles a long, long (really long) time ago! :o)

Update (13MAR06)

While updating the Links page (among others), I was checking out the Eclipse home page, and I found a link named "Passport Update." Naturally, I had to click it. It's rather old, but ... well, here's the update:

Passport Writer Update
November 16, 2005

Please accept my personal apology for the lengthy delay in delivering the Passport writer.

As our name implies, Advantage Software is a software-development company. Until we began working on the Passport, we had no experience with hardware design. In our naiveté, we believed the Passport would be ready for delivery long ago -- but progressing from a rough prototype to a finely-tuned, mass-producible machine proved to be far more complicated than we ever imagined.

After spending an enormous sum of money and throwing out more prototype parts than I care to remember, it became apparent that we didn’t have sufficient talent in-house to develop a top-quality writer -- so we hired a team of experts to assist us. As a result, the last several months have been extremely fruitful, and I'm happy to report that the Passport is well on its way to completion.

Our latest design bears little resemblance to the renderings we originally posted on our website. The list of features is growing -- but you’ll have to wait awhile to see them. Watching our competitors incorporate our innovations before the Passport made it to market taught us a hard lesson about tripping our hand. Suffice it to say that the Passport will include some pleasant surprises.

As you would expect, the Passport will boast state-of-the-art software, but no number of bells and whistles can make the writer a success without superb ergonomics. Because the success of the Passport will depend upon its "feel," it has been designed to accommodate a wider range of writing styles than any other writer in history. No matter how light or how heavy your touch, no matter which stroke depth you prefer, you can easily adjust the Passport to be perfect for you.

So, when is the Passport going to be ready for delivery? I still can’t tell you. There have already been too many missed deadlines, and I don’t want to make promises I may not be able to keep. But I CAN promise you that this writer IS going to happen, and that it will be well worth the wait. We are sparing no expense to build a world-class machine -- and we think you’re going to like it.

Cordially,

Greg Seely
President/CEO

Hmmm ... November 16 of last year ... convention's coming up fairly quickly ... time to send another query --!

Update (12MAR06)

Well, I did it.

That's right: I finally got rid of that fancy-schmancy navigation thingee I stole borrowed from Google. It's gone because when I looked at ol' Cheap and Sleazy on my friend's PC with a (gasp!!) dialup connection and monitor settings different than mine, well, the fancy-schmancy navigation thingee didn't work like it was supposed to -- that is, it just kiinda sat there. Words can just "sit there" as well ... so now, we have words in a (dare I say it) frame.

Well, it's not really a frame; it just looks like one. A (cheap and sleazy) CSS trick I appropriated from the nice folks at Real Mac Software and their program RapidWeaver.

RapidWeaver is pretty cool; it allows me to change the look and feel of my entire website just by clicking a few buttons. As it is shareware which I haven't paid for yet, it only will allow me to build a site with four pages ... so I will adjust a few copies of the Index page appropriately -- eventually.

Alas, doing that "one-click change" bit changes not only the index page (which is all I want to change) but also every page on the site ...! So for me, using these themes requires some extensive handcoding ... good thing I spent a year in school learning web design and development .....

On another matter, my older ("I hate computers!!") sister just spent about $200 to have her new iMac fixed by an "authorized Apple technician." After spending all that money, her computer still did not work properly --!

Long story short, after a 200 mile drive by Yours Truly, about an hour's worth of actual work, a steak dinner and some gas money, her computer is working like it was before (better in some ways!).

Hopefully she'll be able to get her money back ...!

Update (10MAR06)

It appears as though I may have neglected to let you know the skinny on the recently introduced Intel-based Apple MacBook Pro and its ability to do Windows.

I've been monitoring the blog and the forum off and on for a while, and ... well, it's not quite there yet.

I could give you a rather lengthy technical explanation for that, but I'll spare you (all right; which one of you just said "Whew!!"?) ... but when someone comes up with it, I will definitely update you!

Update (06MAR06)

For those of you who have been reading ol' Cheap and Sleazy for the past few days, you may have noticed that update where I mentioned that I got an e-mail from Nick Ridge, the Stenograph Educational rep. Seems that Stenograph wishes to get more students on the paperless bandwagon ... and to that end, they have lowered the price on the elan Cybra. If you click on that link, you will see the price listed as $1935 ... and you're probably saying, "Hey, where's that frelling discount?!"

Well, if you look above that price, you should see some red text, which reads as follows:

A perfect machine for students who want a paperless machine. Call us for our generous student discount and upgrade guarantee!

Wondering what the big offer is?

Well, howzabout a $500 discount off that $1935 price? That's right ... FOR STUDENTS ONLY, the elan Cybra is now selling for $1435!

Want the student version of Case Catalyst with that Cybra? Case is also discounted ... it's now going for $360 ... so if you buy both the Cybra and CC, it will set you back $1795. Normally, the pair would cost you $2430.

This is a good deal for online students and future captioners ....

Remember -- if your school requires you to turn in your notes, you're going to have to rely on your software to print those notes (the Cybra is paperless, after all). It goes without saying (or it should ...!) that if you buy one of these, you're going to need a laptop as well.

Please tell me you knew that already ...! :o)

Of course you did.

Update (04MAR06)

Finally (finally!!) finished updating the Stylus and the Gemini Revisited articles ...! The Stylus piece has some additions at the end, in a section I cleverly called "Updates" (ain't I clever?). The Gemini Revisited piece is as Charity intended it to be when she sent it to me originally -- well, actually, she sent me a first draft, then she sent me one with changes. I unfortunately put the original up (duh!).

Fortunately, that's fixed now.

In other news, I got an e-mail from Stenograph Educational rep Nick Ridge. He says there's some new pricing on the Cybra aimed at students! He left a number; I'll call him Monday and see what's what.

Nick also had a few nice things to say about ol' Cheap and Sleazy here ...! Apparently some of his fellow employees take a look at it from time to time. If enough of them read that article on the Cheap and Sleazy Mocha, I suspect Stenograph will have a very productive day ...!

We'll see.

Update (02MAR06)

It probably goes without saying, but the new interface is up! There will be (sooner or later) links to all the pages here on ol' Cheap and Sleazy up there in the upper left-hand corner ... which right now, leads you to *this* page (hey, I'm working on it).

Eventually, I plan on trimming this main page down considerably, and (maybe) archiving it for your viewing pleasure.

Maybe.

I have also done a bit of editing on the Cheap and Sleazy Mocha piece to correct some of those "fires of creation" stylistic errors that crept in.

Also, a word of advice.

Don't drink one of these things just before you're supposed to go to sleep! My sleep cycle has been frelled for two days now ... but I think I may have a handle on it (Note to self: Don't try to make up for that imperfect mocha shake in the article!).

Well. Back to that Gemini2 fix ....

Update (01MAR06)

The Mocha piece is done! I will update the nifty navigational thingee later ... but I wanted you all to try this. It not only will help keep you awake ... it's also a good motivational tool! A friend of mine used one she made to bribe her boss into driving her someplace he really didn't want to go -- just by waving it under his nose!

Sure, it took three passes, but in exchange for just a sip, she got him to agree to drive her!

Hmmmm .... anyone need a raise?

Oh, yeah --! My cheap and sleazy dot net e-mail address is working again! It only took four days and three live chats with support, but it's working! For those of you who were trying to reach me via that address, feel free to e-mail me one ... more ... time.

Update (27FEB06)

If you were up at around 2:00 this morning, you might have gotten a peek at what the new index page of ol' Cheap and Sleazy will look like ...! If not, perhaps ... Wednesday.

I was having a chat with one of my future contributors (whose identity is being kept under wraps, thankyouverymuch), and she mentioned trying to learn to use Dreamweaver, without much success, and pointed me to some software she felt would help revamp ol' Cheap and Sleaazy's look and feel.

Alas, I don't do my website on my PC ... so WebDesign won't be gracing my arsenal of webdev tools any time soon!

Fortunately, her comments made me investigate RapidWeaver, a much cheaper version of DreamWeaver.

So ... I downloaded a copy, and started playing with it -- and, having learned my lesson from my big error with the never-too-sufficiently-damned NVU -- I was careful to work on a COPY of my index page ...!

Good thing too ... RapidWeaver managed to screw up my nifty navigational aid by putting extra spaces and returns in my HTML code ... not to mention totally ignoring my header stuff ... but I digress.

Fortunately, with a little bit (actually, a *lot*) of judicious editing effort on my part of the RapidWeaver-generated html page, I was able to get it to look right, *and* get the navigational aid working properly again (thanks to a little bit of copying and pasting from a copy of the index page I copied before starting ... which I learned from my brief encounter with the never-too-sufficiently-damned NVU.

Long story short, it looks good ...!

As for when it will be live ... well, we'll see.

Want to see what it looks like? Okay ...

Cheap and Sleazy, version 2.6

Cheap and Sleazy, Version 2.6

Of course, there is the chance that I might change the background color a bit before I upload it ... but we'll see.

Update (24FEB06)

Just a buncha stuff ....

First, Brinkster, the folks that are hosting this (cheap and sleazy) website and I are having Difficulties with my e-mail account (I actually have 400 e-mail addresses available to me, but only two are active). From my point of view, the e-mails in my In box went from 170, down to 0, then up to 3 in a matter of two hours.

Support told me that I must have deleted them(!!)

I'll spare you the details of that particular conversation ("Oh, yeah? Then how did I manage to put them back, huh? Huh?"), but the gist of it was the tech support guy promised to "escalate" the issue.

From my point of view, the results of that "escalation" was simply that for the next couple days, my Cheap and Sleazy Inbox message total remained at 3 ... so I decided to put one of my four other e-mail accounts (mindspring (dot) com, comcast (dot) net, yahoo (dot) com, and cablespeed (dot) com if you're curious) to use and send myself a test message ... and cc'd another account as a control of sorts.

The message arrived at the cc'd addresses, but at the Cheap and Sleazy address? Nope! I logged on to Brinkster (dot) com and engaged in a live chat with another support technician, who offered to move my e-mail account to another server (wow, why didn't the first guy do that?).

It's been a day or so ... and still, my inbox says I have three messages.

So the point here (and yes, I do have one) is if you have been trying to reach me via my gdwarner (at) cheapandsleazy (dot) net address and you're wondering why I haven't answered, welll ... now you have your answer (thanks a LOT, Brinkster ...! "Escalated" my butt ...!).

So. Trying to reach me? I am gdwarner (at) either of those first three addresses I gave above. The fourth address (cablespeed (dot) com) should have been dead in April of last year; Frankly, I don't know why it still works! Sloppy techs, I guess ....

You should also know that the Yahoo account gets checked maybe once a month.

Maybe.

In other, more useless news, you'll be pleased to know (or not ...) that the Battle of the HTML Editors continues here at ol' Cheap and Sleazy.

HTML Creator is out (my e-mail yielded a "College senior! Exams!! Busy, busy!!!" response), and skEdit and Tag are the top two contenders.

I'll spare you the details on what I like about both of these programs, but so far, they are both winners. It's going to be a tough decision ... but I have about 20 days to make that decision, so ....

I am currently using skEdit to edit this page, and Tag to write up the piece designed to wean you off of your Starbucks habit ... and, once I finish this update, it's back to work on the Gemini II piece (had to start over; don't ask!).

As I have a guest stopping by this weekend, homework that should have been done yesterday, and actual *work* that should be done by Monday (where is that Monday guy, anyway?!?), I'm thinking ... Wednesday.

Update (18FEB06)

Just a couple things ...

First, I have begun using a different HTML editor to produce ol' Cheap and Sleazy. It's called HTML Creator.

It's getting the job done to be sure, but CreaText did some things for me automatically, which HTML Creator doesn't do ... so, a quick e-mail to the developer might help with that, I hope.

Also, I managed to fix whatever was wrong with my nifty stolen borrowed navigational aid!

Wish I could tell you how I did it ... let's just say I found a slightly older version of this page and copied some JavaScript code, and viola! It works again!

Next, now that I have this nifty new editor that can actually keep up with my typing (unlike CreaText), and one that doesn't change my code without my say so (unlike the never-too-sufficiently-damned NVU -- and I hope you noticed I am not) linking to that program's home page -- I'll be able to correct Charity's revised look at the Gemini. Seems she sent me the revised copy, and ... well ... let's just say I kinda screwed up somewhere.

Also pending are some additions to April Davis' look at the ProCAT Stylus that she discovered after she sent me her article (thanks again, April!). They're short, so that will most likely be up first.

Finally, coming up Real Soon Now™ is a (cheap and sleazy) alternative to going to your local coffee shop and spending $5.00 a day so you don't fall asleep during your speed drills. I have told one of my classmates about this, and ... well, let's just say she's addicted.

Interestingly enough, she's also passed two of her 80s tests ...! I wonder ....

I think I'd better get that one up quick ...! Consider it ... a late Valentine's Day gift from me to you ...!

Update (11FEB06)

Grrr .... my HTML editor (CreaText) was running a bit slower than I liked (I type 100 wpm on a regular keyboard, and CreaText was zipping along at about half that speed). It was time for a Change!!

I went to Versiontracker.com and searched for another HTML editor. Based on Word o' Mouth, I downloaded something called NVU (no, there's no link ... you'll see why in a bit!).

I then proceeded to edit this page for one of my (many) updates. As usual, I saved the file, and uploaded it to the server. I then refreshed the "live" copy of the page I usually keep open ... and I noticed something ... odd. My background color was wrong ... and all my links had (ugh!!) funny highlights --!

A quick look through the HTML code revealed an unwanted Body tag, which changed the background color and the behavior of all the links ...!

I deleted the offending Body tag (and the never-too-sufficiently-damned NVU from my hard drive) and uploaded the fresh copy to the server ... and my colors and links were back to normal.

On another page (and before I screwed up this one), the never-too-sufficiently-damned NVU replaced all of my > and < symbols with &GT; and &LT;.

Now, I'm sure the majority of you don't understand much about HTML coding. Suffice it to say that each paragraph you see on the internet, as well as each image you see, requires those symbols to be seen.

Good thing I was working on a COPY of the file (Charity's Gemini Update) ... you'd think I would have learned my lesson before starting on this page, huh? In my defense, I thought I had selected the appropriate options to keep weird things like that from happening anymore ... but I guess I missed one.

Or two.

Or three.

Anyway, somewhere in that frenzy of updating ol' Cheap and Sleazy, I managed to screw up my nifty stolen borrowed navigation scheme. I've looked, poked and prodded, to no avail: the little icons refuse to wiggle around like they're supposed to.

Ah, well. Tomorrow is another day (so they tell me).

I'm working on it.

Update (08FEB06)

It's time ...!

I'm talking about the removed post from two days ago that was removed in yesterday's update. Just scroll down a bit ... there you go ...!

Update (07FEB06)

For those of you looking for yesterday's (now hidden) announcement, well, it's been removed! Seems she was overloaded with requests, so yesterday's announcement is ... um ... hidden. When it's time, I'll put it back up!

Sorry about that.

Update (06FEB06)

Want Work?

No, I'm not talking about the kind of work where you get to say "Do you want fries with that?" NoooOOOOoooo, I'm talking about actual Work -- that you (yes, YOU) can do with your steno machine!

All you will need is a realtime capable writer, the NON-STUDENT version of Case Catalyst or Eclipse (if you've ever seen any of my postings on this, that, or another forum about why I'm using digitalCAT, you'll understand why the student versions are ... well, not welcome), and a fast (say DSL or cable modem) internet connection.

You will also need a copy of FTR Gold, a copy of Express Scribe, and one of those nifty foot-controlled pedals that work with both FTR Gold and Express Scribe. You can find one of those at Martel Electronics.

If you have all that and are at or near 100 wpm, have I got an e-mail address for you! That would be stenoreporter's address.

Oh, if you want to know more about what you'll be doing, you can read about it here.

Good luck ...! Tell her I sent you.

Not So Fast, Buddy --! What about digitalCAT?!

Well ... there's a couple issues, but they should be worked out in a couple days or so.

Update (29JAN06)

One down, one to go ...! The update to the Gemini piece is up. Read it here.

Update (28JAN06)

I am currently working on two updates. One (actually, three) updates on the Stylus article, thanks to April Davis. Her updates will be woven into the existing article. The other update is a completely new article by "Gemini Girl" Charity Chainus.

Charity's article is very important for any of my fellow starving students who are thinking about buying a Gemini ... so don't order anything until you've read Charity's new article!

I anticpate getting it converted and uploaded by Monday, at the latest.

Update (24JAN06)

As promised (more or less), Apple Computer introduced two Intel-based systems at Macworld: a new iMac, and the new laptop, the MacBook Pro.

Apple's MacBook Pro

The Apple MacBook Pro

Unfortunately, the new name is not popular with current Mac users ("PowerBook" does sound better, but that name harks back to the PowerPC chip, so ...), but technolust rules, so ....

Anyway, the big question: will these systems be able to run Windows?

Well, yes and no.

Apparently, Windows XP does not work because the Intel-based Macs use some sort of funky architecture that only Windows Vista uses ... so if any version of Windows will work, it will (should be) that next version of Windows ... which won't be out until December of this year(!)

Fortunately, the Mac programming community is on the case ... sort of. It seems there's a contest to get Windows XP running on a newly-ordered MacBook Pro, because a fellow named Colin told his boss he could use it instead of his IBM desktop, and that it would run Windows XP.

He has until the 15th of February ... which is the date his new laptop ships -- to get the instructions. Not sure what happens to Colin if he can't get it to work, but I'm guessing it might not be pleasant ...!

If you're curious about the technical issues involved in Colin's plan, LowEndMac has a pretty good piece on it, if you're interested ....

Update (8JAN06)

As I mentioned in yesterday's, update, April Davis, RPR, was nice enough to write about her experiences with her ProCAT Stylus.

The process she went through to select the Stylus over the new Mira and the Fusion is somewhat instructive, and well worth checking out if you are in the market for a new writer.

Also, April has found a bug in the writer. I will spare you the details; she explains it much better than I would, but if you're thinking about getting a Stylus, you should be aware of this bug!

April says ProCAT is working on the problem, and she will update her article when it's fixed.

Thanks again, April!

Update (7JAN06)

Happy New Year ...!

Well, okay, so I'm a few days late ....

Normally towards the end of the year, people are looking forward to holidays -- you know, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanuka, Kwanza, Ramidan, and New Years Eve (to name the few that I know of).

For those folks, New Years was it!

For us Macintosh users, there is "One more thing" to look forward to ... and that's Macworld.

Macworld is a big Macintosh trade show, where vendors gather to hawk their new products to Macintosh users from all over the world ... and where Steve Jobs, Apple Computer's "iCEO for Life," introduces the latest innovations from Apple.

"So what? I can't run my CAT software on a Macintosh."

Well, one of the reasons I'm looking forward to this year's Macworld is because of the announcement a few months back that Apple was moving away from Motorola's PowerPC chips over to Intel's chips.

"So what? I still can't run my CAT software ..."

Dude. Please.

The point is that for quite some time now, the Mac OS HAS BEEN ABLE TO RUN ON WINDOWS. It's been that way for quite a while now, ever since Appple bought Steve Jobs' old company, NeXT Step.

Not to wander too far afield here, but the point is that at this coming Macworld conference, iCEO Steve Jobs is expected to introduce new Intel-based iBooks and Mac minis.

And, since these should be able to run Windows as if it were another application, there should be (and that's a key phrase here) no problem installing your copy of Windows and your CAT software on one of these new iBooks!

If this is true, I will be dragging my steno machine, my Windows XP Pro installation CD, and my Keyspan USB adapter software down to my local Apple Store to do some testing ... and I will whip up something for you all to read (and see).

Hopefully. I suspect the hard part will be getting the Apple Store folks to let me do this without too much squawking ... but I suspect a well placed Mocha shake from the neighborhood Tullys will be a big help there ....

One More Thing ....

After some stringent negotiations (which consisted of me doing some serious begging and pleading), I have found someone who purchased a ProCAT Stylus ... and I've convinced her to share an article she wrote for the firm she works for on her experiences with it ... complete with pictures!

The piece should be up by Tuesday at the latest.

Update (22DEC05, Part DUH)

Well. Somewhere in the next update I provided a link that one could paste into the QuickTime player. Worked fine when I tested it, but doesn't work anymore!

Sorry about that.

Update (22DEC05)

Just added a link for the Cosbee video for you to copy and paste into QuickTIme, so you can see it in a bit of a larger window. See the Addendum below.

Oh, yeah.

While it goes without saying (well, in my mind, anyway), I thought I should say it anyway.

There are a lot of holidays going on at this time of year: Hanuka, Christmas, Kwanza, plus a few others with which I am less familiar.

No matter which of these particular holidays you celebrate, I hope you all have a good time while you're doing so!

And remember: Don't drink and steno -- er, drive!

Three Stooges Xmas

Nyuck nyuck nyuck --!

Also, please be aware that this time of year brings out the blues in a lot of people, for an assortment of reasons: away from home, bad home life, no family, crappy friends, insensitive Significant Others that choose this particular month to break things off -- which happened to a couple people I know this year.

Should you know someone suffering from the blues this holiday season, send them an e-mail. Give them a call. Whatever it takes, make sure they're okay.

Did I mention the suicide rate spikes at this time of year?

Contact your depressed friends and loved ones. Don't let them become a statistic.

Update (11DEC05)

My cyberfriend Binita Shrestha said some nice things about my (cheap and sleazy) website. You can read them here.

Thanks, Binita!

TechToys

In other "news," ... Got broadband (DSL, Cable)?

If so, I found something interesting on the internet recently. It's called DTV.

It's Macintosh- and Linux-only right now, but there is a Windows version under development.

So what, you say?

DTV brings you all sorts of interesting video content from all over the world, and lets you view them from within one application! In fact, playing with DTV that first time is how I found the video which tells the tale of how Bill Cosbee was able to beat back Sauron (yes, from Lord of the Rings fame).

If you have QuickTIme installed, click the picture below. Waahh! :oP

Addendum

If you'd rather see the video in a larger format, copy and paste the link below and feed it to the QuickTime Player:

http://64.237.40.71/media/mov/c/cosbeemd.mov?media=565588a0880e74438f655aace8ec3bfd

Cosbee vs. Sauron

Cosbee vs. Sauron

Update (23NOV05)

Updated the navigation scheme to include The Plateau, Different Dictation, and my latest -- speaking of which ...

Old School Tech and the Art of Organization

Have you ever been embarrassed because you forgot someone's birthday, anniversary, or some other significant milestone in their life?

Have you ever been traveling, and forgot your alarm clock?

Have you ever taken a class, taken great notes -- and could not find your notes when you needed to put what you learned into practice?

Well, if any of this has happened to you (or even if it hasn't), I have found a piece of Old School Tech that will handle all of these issues -- and a whole lot more. I wrote a rather basic overview of this particular piece of Old School Tech for you edification and delight! Just click on that picture of Buffy, and it will take you right to it.

Got Newt?

Rumors 'r' Us

Rumor has it that speed champ Mark Kislingbury, who reached an awe-inspring (and record-breaking) speed of 360 wpm at the NCRA convention in Phoenix, Arizona in July of this year, is planning on breaking that record at the next NCRA convention next year. He's shooting for 400 wpm!

Ever wonder how he reaches those speeds?

Well, thanks to my cyber-friend Binita Shrestha, I have gotten my hands on a picture of Mark practicing. I think if you look closely, you might be able to glean one of the secrets of the masters --!

Secrets of the Speed Masters

Ah-HA! I KNEW it --!

Thanks, Binita!

Update (20NOV05)

It's Done --!

That's right: I'm talking about the update to the Technolust page, with the pictures of the Fusion and the A3 Mira. You can get there by clicking that secret message below:

For a good time ...

For a good time ...

Okay, so it's not such a secret message. But who cares? It's still clickable ...

Update (15NOV05)

Instead of sleeping, I was trying to get that Daffy Duck mp3 to play without the browser asking which program to use (works fine on my computer, of course ....). After a lot of trial and many errors, I got frustrated and decided instead to relocate the navigational scheme to the top section where it can actually be seen!

And, to add insult to injury, that stupid duck was laughing outside my window again ...! (Shouldn't these guys be flying south already?!? Sheesh ....)

Update (13NOV05)

Captioning and digitalCAT

Updated The Good Stuff, to reflect some rather important information about captioning with digitalCAT. If you are about to start a captioning internship with DC, you simply *must* read this update! Simply search for "captioning" and you will find the update.

As for the Mira and Fusion updates, I'm working on it ...! Sheesh.

Update (08NOV05)

Duck City

So it's 4:30 in the morning as I type this, interrupted from my task of updating my Technolust piece. Today, just like yesterday, and the day before that, I heard something outside my bedroom window which sounded suspiciously like laughter.

No, I wasn't doing anything even remotely funny -- unless typing on a laptop while sitting in bed is considered funny (no basketball jokes, please --!).

What is so funny?

Even more important, who's out there at 4:30 a.m. laughing in my general direction?

It took a while, but I finally (FINALLY!!) found out where the laughter was coming from: The gaggle -- er, flock -- um, buncha ducks swimming in the pond outside my window.

While the apartment mangement-folk call it a lake, anyone who's been through Legal Terminology class knows that a lake is bigger than a pond, and this "lake" is only about 50 feet or so wide ... but I guess "Pondside Apartments" doesn't sound as good as "Lakeside Apartments," right?

Anyhoo, it was the ducks, and they were behaving in a fashion familiar to all who do not have children, but have been forced to spend some "quality time" with someone else's little monst -- um, bundle of joy and his or her lone, frantic parent.

If you ever saw Bill Cosby's excellent HBO (Showtime?) special from a few years back with the rather wordy title of "For Those of you With and Without Children, You'll Understand," you probably remember the story about Jeffrey, a little bundle of energy who was running around the plane Bill Cosby was on, making himself a PITA to all the passengers. Bill Cosby said the reason he knew Jeffrey's name was because his mother was saying it constantly: "Jeffrey, don't do that. Jeffrey! Get down from there! Jeffrey, don't make me come over there! Jeffrey, Jeffrey, Jeffrey-Jeffrey-JeffreyJeffrey-Jeffrey--!"

Well, you get the idea.

Anyway, that laughing duck sounded just like Jeffrey's harried mother, calling after his gaggle -- flock -- er, buncha ducklings..

For a moment, I almost (almost, I say) felt sorry for Papa Duck ... but then that 4:30 a.m. memory came back.

Also, I realized it could've been worse ...

Angry Daffy Duck

Laughing Ducks, or ... This Guy? Hmmm ...

If your computer can play mp3s, click that angry duck to see how it could be worse!

Hey, the last name is Warner; what did you expect, really?

Update (29OCT05)

First, a wee bit o' news on the Cheap and Sleazy front: My article on cleaning your steno machine (Steno Stuff) is (more or less) in the current JCR! Alas, they couldn't use the pictures, but the words are there at least (though some of my jokes were edited to death ...).

Second, look for a big update to the Technolust piece. Michael Kerns, our local Stenograph rep stopped by our school, with both the A3 Mira and the Stentura Fusion in hand ... and I have pictures!

Finally, something new (that I should have started on last week) in time (more or less) for Halloween.

This piece will do a couple things for you: First, it will remind you of where to listen to approximately 10 hours of ghost stories on the radio this coming Sunday and Monday nights! It wil also teach you a (cheap and sleazy) way to use your radio, your VCR, and a cable from RadioShack to record all of that audio (well, up to 9 hours of it, anyway) on a blank video tape. It will also point you to several sources for radio shows and internet-only shows where you can apply these same recording techniques to relieve yourself from the bordeom known as Q&A, Lit, and Jury Charge. No, there won't be any of that "Beyond a reasonable doubt" stuff here ... nor will there be any of that "perponderance of the evidence" crap, either --!

What you will find with these sources is -- well, it's in the article. You might want to take a look at it -- preferably before the 30th of this month! Just click on the picture of the girl that Payless Shoesource probably hates the most, and you'll get to it ...

Girl Ghost

"No, my feet aren't cold. Why do you ask?"

Update (20OCT05)

Small update to The Good Stuff: The instructions on how to determine how much memory a Stentura 8000/8000LX has (with pictures; thanks to my former classmate Rosabelle who let me snap some shots of her 8000)!

This way, if you're contemplating buying a used 8000 or an 8000LX, you can check to see if it has the right amount of memory for your needs ... or explain to the seller how to do it.

Also, if you have already purchased a machine that was advertised as having 4MB but you suspect it does not, well, now you can prove it (not that it will make the seller refund your money or anything ...).

Update (11OCT05)

I don't get it.

Hopefully one of you really (*really*) big Harry Potter fans can enlighten me, here. What is the big deal with this?

It occurs to me that if you substitute 'Warner' for 'Potter,' and 'Cheap and Sleazy' for 'Weasly Weasly' ... naah. Probably best not to think along those lines!

Um, forget I mentioned it, okay?

Update (07OCT05)

If you've had a chance to read my (cheap and sleazy) article about computers (Got Fear?), then you may remember the principal known as apfeaeiip: "A place for everything and everything in it's place," and how that principle applies to desktop organization.

Well, recently I downloaded a freeware version of Object Dock on my roomie's computer. Object Dock is a Windows version of the dock in Mac OS X. Before I showed her how to use it, her desktop looked very similar to that bad example screenshot in Got Fear. Soon it looked like the after version.

One day she had a day off, and concentrated on degunking her desktop. If you thought my good example was good, you'll love this one:

Extreme apfeaeiip

Extreme apfeaeiip

Object Dock is the bunch of icons there at the top of the screen. They are set to autohide, so once one of those icons are selected, Object Dock (and all those icons) disappear until you need them again.

So if you were to see the desktop without the icons at the top, all you would see would be the recycle bin, the folder of tunes left there by her significant other, and the local weather report (thanks to the Weather widget included with the now FREE Konfabulator).

As you might guess, this little tidbit will be going in my Got Fear? article Soonest.

Update (04OCT05)

One of my fellow CRI students recently had a close encounter with some spyware -- or rather, a *lot* of spyware. Alas, she did not read my recommendations about avoiding viruses on the last page of the Got Fear? piece -- you know, the one that basically says "Get a Mac!!". If Spybot and AdAware can't fix it, well, there's always the good tech support rep's last resort: Format the drive and start over from scratch.

In the meantime, here's some "Tech Commandments" from my good friends in the Great White North (eh!) for your edification and delight:

Tech Commandments

I should confess here that I am in violation of Tech Commandment Numba One, and have recently stopped violating Tech Commandment Numba Five -- well, at least the first part. Also, during my "basketball-related injury" days, I tried mightily to comply with Tech Commandment Numba Eight, but like I said, it hurt to sit, stand, walk, lie down, and, alas, surf. :o(

Finally, when it comes to nanotechnology, violating Tech Commandment Numba Three may potentially be a life-threatening activity, so don't do it!

Ever!

(Note to self: Buy some blank DVDs, and comply with Tech Commandment Numba One!)

Update (02OCT05)

Picture this:

You're taking your state exam. You're pumped. You're ready. Your fingers know what they need to do in that subconscious state all court reporting students need to develop in order to graduate.

In short, you're ready to kick steno butt.

The test begins. You're keeping up with the dictation with ease. You dismiss those distracting "I'm getting it!!" thoughts that pop up into your mind during a test at school, causing you to drop immediately ... then the audio on the taped drill you're being tested on ... has a problem.

You grit your teeth and keep going, but while typing up your notes, you know that "drop" is going to cost you big points.

You complain to the proctor who appears sympathetic ... but the only "solution" she offers is, "See you next time!"

Thanks a lot!

You strangle the urge to ... well, strangle the somewhat less-than-helpful proctor (I'm sure such an action violates at least one of those CR ethics we all must adhere to) and contemplate another course of action.

Sound farfetched? Not to some of my fellow students, who lived through this very scenario. Their complaints about the audio quality fell on less than sympathetic ears, so they wrote a letter:

August 15, 2005

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is in regard to the Court reporting Certification examination that was administered on August 13, 2005. We experienced technical difficulties during test one of the examination. These difficulties occurred during the 9:00 a.m. examination as well as the 12:00 p.m. examination. One of the employees proctoring the 12:00 p.m. test did try to correct this during the break and into the beginning of test two.

In order to ensure the validity of the exam, the test needs to be administered in a more controlled environment. In order to make restitution to the test taking candidates that were affected by the technical difficulties, we are asking for another test to be administered or a waiver of the fee at the next scheduled examination.

If you need any information regarding this request, you may contact us at the Court Reporting Institute, 206.363.8300.

Respectfully ...

... and here all of the students involved signed this letter. Their names are deleted to protect their privacy.

To date, there has been no response to this letter. Stay tuned ....

Update (16SEP05)

Ugh. It's been a lousy couple of weeks for me.

About two weeks ago, I violated the rule for folks that own their own writers: Never, Never, EVER drop your own writer!!

I thought I had written that somewhere in my guide to buying writers, laptops, and software, but apparently not ... so here's the rule, in fool -- er, full:

When you are renting a writer from your school, that's the time for you to drop that writer as often as you want. The school (hopefully) has a contract with some company that will fix whatever happens to those writers they rent.

When you own your own writer, chances are good you don't have such a contract .... and to fix any damage you do to your steno machine will probably cost big bucks!

So. While setting up my steno machine and talking to one of my classmates about this, that, and the other, I forgot to lock down one of the legs on my tripod completely ... and, while getting my laptop together, I noticed my writer start to slump over ...!

It landed on the writer's achilles heel -- more commonly known as the (plastic -- and $90 to replace) paper tray.

I quickly picked up my writer ... and sure enough, the paper tray was cracked.

My classmate (and author of the Gemini review), Charity Chainus had a paper tray she no longer needed (being a "Gemini" girl and all) and she let me borrow it.

Jackpot -- it was a metal tray!

Sure, Stenograph would most likely tell you that a metal tray is too heavy and may damage your writer (blah, blah blah), but I'm sure their tune would change if they actually sold metal paper trays ...!

Naturally, I offered to buy the paper tray, and we agreed on $50 (new ones go for about $90 to $125).

Thanks, Charity!

I'm sure I could glue the plastic one back together -- and I may one of these days -- but in the meantime, I'll keep using the metal one Charity gave -- er, sold -- me.

You have (or will shortly) most likely already read my tale of woe about my unfortunate basketball-related injury (I'm much better now, thanks ...!), which happened shortly after this paper tray incident

Fast forward a couple weeks ... I'm feeling better, so I headed out to the store to get a pizza. Got it nice and sizzling hot in the oven (*not* the microwave, thankyouverymuch), with that hint of crispiness on top .... ah, perfection, thine name is ... er, pizza! While taking my masterpiece out of the oven, the (non-heavy duty; what was I thinking when I bought that?) foil it was on tilted ... and sure enough, my nice, crisp pizza ended up face down on the floor ...!

Good thing I bought two of 'em ...

I'm sure, had I bothered to check the skyline before heading off to school that day when I performed my unfortunate rule violation act, I would have seen this telltale warning:

Maybe I should've stayed home

Maybe I would've stayed home.

No, I'm sure I would've stayed at home ...!

Update (13SEP05)

Some minor tweaking under the hood for all the pages on ol' Cheap and Sleazy; mostly to conform to some HTML standards I kind of glossed over in the heat of the creative moment.

I also changed the desktop picture in the Good Stuff article.

Basketball-Related Injury

I managed to hurt my back sometime this weekend. I guess technically you could call it a basketball-related injury.

Okay, so I can hear my classmates laughing now ...! They've seen my attempts to make baskets with crumpled-up steno paper ... but in my defense, I was on my high school chess team and in the band (I played the piano) ... so my classmates know I'm not exactly likely to be out playing basketball ....

What actually happened was I was sitting up in bed, catching up on some e-mail, with a basketball acting as support for my back.

Woke up the next day and discovered it hurt to get up, sit down, walk, and bend over to pick stuff up ...!

As you might guess, this kind of kills school for me for the next few days ... and practicing? Fagedaboudit ...

On the plus side, I think I'm getting better ...!

I think.

I hope ... (*ouch*)! Well, perhaps not quite up to 80 percent just yet ....

Coming up Real Soon Now™ in the not-too-distant: A (cheap and sleazy) look at different types of software you may find useful in your steno travels, a look at some Old School technology that will remind you of important dates, wake you in the morning, *and* (among other things) act as an emergency flashlight in the dark ... and a surprise for October.

My back willing, of course ...!

Update (08SEP05)

A few of you might have giggled when first coming to this page and seeing that "Flash iPod" at the top of the page. Well, turns out Apple has come out with the real deal:

THE Flash iPod

True, the iPod Shuffle also featured flash memory, but there was no display and you got to hear your songs at random (though the price was right). This new unit does indeed inspire Technolust ... !

And for you Harry Potter fans, there's also a special Hogwarts iPod, with the Hogwarts crest engraved on the back. For an extra $250, you can get the complete collection of HP audio books as well (we're talking 99 hours of audio for you Harry Potter steno magicians to transcribe, here!).

Ah, Technolust. Can't leave home without it ...!

Update (4SEP05)

It's come to my attention that just dropping the descriptions of the articles here was probably not a good thing for new visitors ...! With that in mind, I have placed a description of what's here in a separate page, cleverly entitled What's Here. So, if you're a new visitor to ol' Cheap and Sleazy here, or even if you're not, this page is for you!

Update (17AUG05)

Finally (!!) finished the article on the value of those old JCRs reporters will on occasion drop off at your school, or (if you're working for a CR firm) your boss has stacked up in a back room somewhere. It's called "Thar's Gold in Them Thar Boxes."

Hopefully, this piece will cause you to look at that box of JCRs just a bit differently ....

Update (15AUG05)

Two things ... first, I added a QuickTime movie under the Passport impressions ... which hopefully will better illustrate the movie quote that appears just above it ...!

Next, I have received a certain bit of information from an anonymous source about -- you guessed it -- the Passport!

The document is too long to reproduce here, so I will summarize the salient points:

A Summary of Jeremy Thorne's article, The Future of the Passport

Eclipse sales reps are discouraged from casting aspersions on Stenograph's new writers ... and he then talks up the competition's efforts as they relate to Eclipse:

The writer's built-in audio recording and audiosync works with Eclipse.

The new SD RAM cards the new writers are using are compatible with all CAT software, and stores data on the memory cards in the same format used by Stentura writers with diskette drives.

The wireless Bluetooth functionality works with Eclipse and all other CAT systems. Apparently, Bluetooth creates a virtual COM port which acts just like a standard (say "cable") COM port connection.

The new writers will accept dictionaries from any CAT system that can export their dictionaries in RTF/CRE format (you all did see Dr. Smith's white paper on this, right? If not, the link is in my Fear Computers no More document (look for "Missing Web Pages" and you'll find it ...). Alas, it's not a direct conversion; you'll still have to use the RTF to Mira Conversion Utility, but it's a start.

The USB realtime interface does not work with Eclipse (no mention of other software, however ....).

This next comment merits a direct quote instead of my (cheap and sleazy) summarizing:

"So it appears that even though the Passport is way behind schedule, merely the threat of a competitive writer has caused Stenograph to change their tune and play fair rather than attempting to force people to buy their software in order to take full advantage of the functionality of their writers."

"For the love of God, Monstressor --! When will there be an end?"

"The Passport will be ready when it's ready," writes Jeremy Thorne. "I wish I had better news, but it's better to be realistic than to make promises we can't keep."

Thanks to my Anonymous Source for sending me the July issue of the ESPN (that's Eclipse Software Professionals Network), from which these quotes came ... and a hearty "Sorry about that --!" to Edgar Allen Poe, any decendants or any lawyers in their employ for misusing and abusing that snippet from "The Fall of the House of Usher."

Update (14AUG05)

You'll be pleased to know that the info on the new Gemini is up ... along with a complete site redesign (looks nice, Jason!). Check it out: How It Works

Expect new pictures by Tuesday at the latest ...

Update (08AUG05)

Adjusted the file navigation a wee bit, thanks to some ... um ... shall we say, "borrowed" code ...! Unfortunately, all the summarizing info had to go ....! Looks like you'll just have to click on the articles at random (all located at the bottom of the page) and see where you end up ...! :o)

Update (7AUG05)

Passport Update: Hands-on Impressions

One of the residents of Phoenix, AZ attended the recent NCRA convention, and got to play with the mythical Passport (the preproduction mechanical prototype, anyway). She sent me an e-mail detailing her impressions, along with her okay to post them for all to see. My correspondent expressed some apprehension about her ability to express herself well in writing, but I think she did just fine, thankyouverymuch. She even finishes up with a million dollar idea!

"Papa," by the way, refers to the designer of the writer, Dave Siebert (or possibly Jeremy Thorne):

It looked pretty much like your typical non-Gemini writer. Papa said he's still working on the body/shell, screen design, etc., but the keys are the piano-type ones that we're all used to.

The touch is what's different and soooo cool, IMO. I am not an author, so bear with me. If I am remembering right, Papa said that there's data suggesting that piano players and old-style typewriter users do not get carpal tunnel syndrome like keyboarders and electric steno users do, and that is because the keystrokes for the former groups do not come to an abrupt stop at the bottom as they do for the latter. I guess the idea is that the abrupt stop transfers all of the energy of the downstroke back into the fingers and hand.

I don't know how they have done it, but on the Passport, your keystrokes end "softly," absorbing some of that energy. As I was writing, my head kept showing me pole vaulters and stunt people landing on those big, cushy, mattress-y pads. That's what it felt like. Wayyyy different from everything else (I wrote the Mira, the Stylus, the Gemini), although the keys are the lever kind, not the optical Gemini kind. I totally dug it, man, and didn't want to give it up to the next guy in line, even if she was my friend.

Now, if only we could get the Gemini ergonomics and the soft landing together....I'm a dreamer (sigh).

As the HAL 9000 computer once said, "Dave? Can you hear me, Dave?"

HAL 9000 -- Apple style

The HAL 9000 ... sort of

Thanks, Leah!

Update (3AUG05)

Have you seen it yet?

I'm talking about Marc Greenberg's digitalCAT User's Guide ...!

Feast your squinties -- er, take a look at this screen shot from the Dictionary Setup chapter:

digitalCAT Dictionary Setup Sample

Naturally, if you click on the image you'll get a slightly bigger version ... and that closer look may reveal a Cheap and Sleazy influence ...!

Maybe.

Get your copy here.

In other news, thanks to the guys at courtreportinghelp.com, I have for those of you (or perhaps I should say "us") who are stuck at a certain speed ... or have reached what those who have been doing steno for a while have come to call a plateau, the first six chapters of courtreportinghelp.com's The Plateau. When the next chapters are released, I will add them to the document and upload them here.

Update (29JUL05)

Do you feel the need -- the "Need for speed," as Tom Cruise once said? Well, so does Mark Kisslingbury!

If you don't know the name, Mark K. is the CR who recently broke the world record in steno: 360 wpm!

Mark indeed feels the need.

So what, you ask? Well, Mark was in a recent chat over at Steno Life.com. If you also "feel the need," you can read a transcript of the chat here.


Also, just in case ...

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