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The Tech Wire

Text on Top - Review

By Kimberly Turnage

I love technology! Take me to the Apple store, and I'm in heaven. The packaging is inviting, and the marketing promises the sky. !Que rico! Needless to say, I have a ton of gadgets, computers, cables, and accessories. I don't just like technology, I like it to look good, too: My stenomachine is hot berry pink. If it is lighter and faster than the model before, I'm whipping out the cash!

So imagine my delight when Wim Gerbecks, Sander Pasveer, and Gea Duister invited me in on a little secret during the first European Congress of speech-to-text writers. The 'boys' had developed a new piece of technology that would radically change how we work with presenters in displaying our live communication access services.

"Shhh, Kimberly, come here. Can you keep a secret?" Gea's eyes are asparkle and her grin mischievous.I look over one shoulder and then the next. My voice low, "Yeah, sure. I can keep a secret."

"We're going to unveil something really cool during the ECOS plenary - a first, and we'd like you to help."

"Do tell, Gea, do tell." I can't help it. I giggle."It's called ' Text on Top.' While you write live realtime, we are going to display it on the same screen as the PowerPoint presentation!""Say what?! No way!" If I wasn't in before, I was both feet in it now.

For more than 20 years, CART providers and STTR providers have been trying to find a cost-effective, simple way to display our live text on the same screen as the presenters we are visually echoing. It would be so much easier for our consumers if they didn't have to get whiplash while receiving access to their information. The best most of us have been able to do is the live broadcast setup with an encoder. It isn't cost-effective and requires testing long before the actual event. And time is not a luxury we are often afforded while working large conferences or going from classroom to classroom with too few minutes to spare.

Such was the case during a technology seminar for young, up-and-coming technologists. After two days of being in the same room - a simple one-on-one setup - the organizers decided it would be great if the whole group changed rooms at the last minute. So, I scramble to pack up all my equipment, cables, and bags to go up three flights in Tower A, scramble over to Tower B, and up another three flights. I arrive in the room as the speaker is beginning his presentation and find my client front and center in the first row packed in between his colleagues. No room for my setup or me. I don't exactly panic, but I do stop for a moment. Do I try to squeeze my way in and move people around and disturb the flow of the presentation? Ummm, no, that's not good. Do I allow my client to try to lip read? Ummm, no, not good either. Ooohhh, wait a minute; I have the Text on Top devices with me. I had only received the devices two days before, and the testing had been cursory. Nothing like being under the gun with barely tested technology. I must be crazy or desperate. I quietly ease in behind my client, plug in the TOT USB device into his open computer, waited a moment for the USB to auto-launch, and double-clicked on the TOT software contained on the USB device. I selected 'Presenter' and walked to the back of the room where I had placed my equipment. I popped the second TOT USB device into my computer, repeated the process, and selected 'Speech-to-Text Reporter.' Three minutes later, the client had live realtime displayed on his computer. They thought I could do magic. I was quietly sending many thanks to Wim and Sander for their technological alchemy.

I'm not the only one. STTR providers throughout Europe have ordered and begun to use the TOT in all types of environments. Reporters from all over the globe were calling it revolutionary during an impromptu demonstration Gea and I did over lunch at the IPRS meeting in Prague late September, early October. Gea using her Velotype, wrote in Dutch, then switched to Offline Mode, and I and my Infinity took over seamlessly in English, outputting to the same display Gea was only moments before writing Dutch onto. Lecker!*

You're thinking, “This is great; I'm excited, I think I might even want it. But can I customize the output per my clients' visual preferences?” Yes, you can. Each TOT device can be customized individually in full screen mode.  The font size, type, and color can be set however you wish. Even the font outline color and width can be adjusted, as can the background color. For text displayed on the same screen as a PowerPoint or other presentation/video, you can set the line numbers to 2, 3, or 4. "Captions" can be placed at the Top, Below top, Bottom, and Above bottom. You can justify the text left, right, or center, and when necessary, you can also clear the text from the screen or put the text into Full Screen Mode once the presentation or video has been completed. You can even have multiple display screens, each with their own position/color/font settings. But wait, there’s more.

TOT also has a scripting feature just like our broadcast captioning software. It's perfect for lyrics to songs, pre-scripted presentations, or for videos that may not have been previously closed captioned.

TOT has features similar to MSWord's short forms and auto-correction functions. You can define your own list of auto-correct words and even create text briefs right in the TOT software - quite useful when I didn't want to switch between my TOT screen and my CAT software screen.

One other nice little feature that I discovered by accident is that TOT on the client's screen will immediately start after the computer has been closed and put into sleep mode. If a client closes his or her computer, the communication access provider can start writing even if the laptop is still closed. Whenever the client is ready again, all that is needed is for him or her to open the computer, and the CART is instantly streaming.

Text on Top is a simple USB radio device. One needs less than five minutes to set it up and begin writing. There is no software to load on the reporter's computer, no software on the user's computer, as it is all contained and executed from the USB device - a definite advantage when working with government, corporate, and private presenters' computers. And at prices starting at 199 euros a set - very affordable; an anomaly within our industry. I think Text on Top would make a great stocking stuffer this holiday season!

*Lecker is Deutsche for delicious ;-)

Kimberly Turnage is a communication access provider located in Hamburg, Germany.

Notes:  Text on Top works on both Windows and Mac computers. The five-minute setup rule mostly applies to Windows machines.  Apple devices accept the USB almost instantly.

Text on Top is in the final stage of development. It becomes available in October 2012 for the European market only. This limitation is due to the radio frequency that is being used. Devices for the U.S. market is still under development but is expected to be available in November 2012.

For more information on Text on Top, visit

Tips for using Bridge and CaseViewNet

logo for CaseViewNetby Sue Terry

There’s a very helpful feature built into Bridge you may not have discovered.  You can bypass a step of finding the Device Manager when setting up your realtime for a Bridge feed.  If you just open Bridge, then click on Settings, then go to "Devices," which is the place you set your COM port, by clicking on the word “Devices,” it will automatically open up the Device Manger so you can check your port number from within the Bridge program.  It saves you a step when you’re in a rush and makes it easy to find.

While Bridge is a great free viewer, I've also started to use the free  There are several features it includes that are not available in Bridge.  One is the ability to open the word wheel, which is the alphabetical listing of every word in the realtime transcript hyperlinked to the testimony.  For some reason, that feature isn't turned on in some of the older versions of, but it is easy to turn it on by going to View - Show Windows and checking the Dynamic Index.  It makes it easier for attorneys to find anything they want alphabetically that way.   That feature is not available in Bridge.  Also, the printable report feature for the quick marks in is a terrific feature.  However, many attorneys and judges don't even know it's there or know how to use it. That feature is not available in Bridge.  Caseview also offers the ability to open multiple days of testimony and the ability to tab back and forth between them.  Bridge does not offer that option.

Another advantage of is that you can do a Google search from within if you're connected to the Internet without opening a separate browser.
In, you can Save the file as a LiveNote file.  In Bridge, you can Export the file as a LiveNote file.

Bridge is great for demonstrations to law firms or courts.  You can actually customize their realtime demo and make the scrolling text say anything you want.  You don't need to even have a writer there to show them scrolling text to demo the program’s features.

Livenote, of course, is the Cadillac of these options because it offers all of the above plus many other features, like video synchronization, exhibit linking, etc. Without their efforts, we probably wouldn't have the competing programs offered.

Sue Terry, RPR, CRR, a reporter from Springfield, Ohio, is the co-chair of NCRA’s Technology Evaluation Committee.

6 great headphone tips

Earlier this month, the Tech Wire received a question over Twitter feed asking for recommendations on a set of great headphones that don’t break the budget. The answer, as always, usually depends upon what you want to do. Are they just for a deposition? Are they for the courtroom? Do you travel with them? No matter what your headphone needs, here some suggestions that will be easy on the purse strings.

Sony MDR-XD100 Headphones1.) Basic headphones on a budget – Sony MDR-XD100
Price: $20 - $25

Benefits: These are your basic headphones if you are on a lean budget. They get the job done, but don’t have too many frills. 

Koss UR-40 Headphones2.) Sturdy but affordable - Koss UR-40
Price: $25 - $35

Benefits: These are the same headphones that the CLVS Council uses in hands-on demonstrations at the CLVS Seminar. They have an over-the-ear design, and they provide an excellent audio quality for the price. They are also a little more durable and may last longer than a basic model; however, they do not have inline volume control.

Sony MDR-NC7 Headphones3.) For the travelling reporter - Sony MDR-NC7
Price: $40 - $55

Benefits: These headphones also have an over-the-ear design as well as the ability to collapse into a convenient travel pouch. Also of note, this model has a noise-canceling function, so if you spend time on planes or in crowded areas where you want to turn the outside world off, these headphones are a good bet.

TV Ears - RadioShack4.) To improve your hearing - TV Ears from RadioShack
Price: $90 - $100
Benefits: These headphones have built-in volume control and have the ability to plug into your courtroom sound system (if needed). Giving you heightened hearing ability, this headset can allow you to hear things that others in the courtroom/deposition can’t. They do not, however, offer the over-ear comfort of other models.

Able Planet Headphones5.) If you want to splurge -  Able Planet NC1100B
Price: $150 - $170
Benefits: If you want to combine all of the bells and whistles, these headphones are a great place to start. This model is over-the-ear, offers a padded headband, inline volume control, noise-canceling ability, and a travel pouch. They provide superior audio quality, however, unlike the TV ears, they do not provide heightened listening ability.

Volume control cable image6.) Use a volume control cable.
Regardless of what headphones you choose, the Tech Eval Committee recommends using a volume control cable. Some of these models come with built-in or inline volume control, while others may require you to purchase a volume control cable separately.

One last tip: Shop around.
We listed the above prices as a range for a reason. Prices can vary from store to store, so if you are looking to save a few extra bucks, do your homework and compare a few stores to find the best deal.

Do you have a headphone tip to share? Post your suggestions in the comments section below!

8 New Features of Windows 8

Did you know ?
• Windows XP will be supported for only two more years.
• Windows 7 will be supported until 2020.
• Windows 9 is about 2-3 years out.

Earlier this month, GoToAssist sponsored a webinar which gave attendees a preview of what is to come with the new Windows 8 platform. Technology Evaluation Committee member Sandy VanderPol was on hand to get the scoop on the much anticipated release scheduled for sometime this fall (or whenever Microsoft is ready). Here’s what you need to know:

New Features

1. Windows 8 will be offering a faster and more stable system. The new system will be less hardware intensive that Windows 7, meaning your boot-up time will be faster, and less disk and memory space will be necessary. 

2. The infamous “Start” button and will not be coming back! However for those who are not ready to change, third-party developers such as Start Doc have a utility to install it on your machine. 

Screen shot of a windows 8 interface3. The new desktop will debut a new look. As seen on the right, the new interface will be similar to an app screen on a tablet. The new “Metro Style” look will use “tiles” instead of the start menu, which will allow users to access all of their favorite programs directly from the main screen.

4. As for new programs, the “Metro App Store” is currently accepting apps. Evernote is available as well as 100 other apps.  By this summer, the number is expected to be much larger.

5. Users will be able to use “Snapped apps” to get updates from multiple programs in realtime. In other words, users will be able to run side-by-side apps, which may prove helpful to realtime reporters.

6. Windows search box pane will slide in automatically when you start to type on the desktop.  Your search results will then appear in list form automatically. No more complicated searches for files or programs.

7. A new Office suite will be available. Code named “Office 15,” the release is anticipated by the end of this year and will compliment the new system.

8. For those who might miss the Windows 7 desktop look, it will still be available.  However you will also be able to pin programs to the Task Bar as well as all other functionalities you like.

Stay tuned to the Tech Wire for more Windows 8 updates as the release date approaches!


How to pass the RSA exam

James Woitalla of NCRA's Realtime Systems Administrator task force offers his advice for success to RSA Exam candidates. For more, read his upcoming article in the May JCR, and watch his video here:

Jim Woitalla Screen Shot

CCRA Launches Technology Impact Series

Earlier this April, the California Court Reporters Association launched their Technology Impact video series designed to help reporters learn about new technologies, improve their existing technological skills, and provide tips on how to make a reporter’s life easier through tech tools. In the first video of the series, NCRA TechEval member and CCRA member Sandy Bunch VanderPol discusses upcoming topics and what viewers can expect in the coming months. 

The series then moves to “Backing It Up or Else..." a look at  online back-up systems and how to protect your data. After watching the videos, CCRA welcomes your input at

Tech Impact Video 1

Technology Impact Part 1: Series Introduction

Tech Impact Video 2

Technology Impact Part 2: "Backing it up or else..." 

For other video tech resources, please visit NCRA’s YouTube channel for more tutorials and instructional videos. 

Sandy Bunch VanderPol (FAPR, RMR, CRR, Realtime Systems Administrator credentialed) is a member of NCRA’s Technology Evaluation Committee, Realtime Systems Committee and the Ethics First Committee.  She is a freelance reporter in California and specializes in “Realtime and Beyond” in providing services to her clients.   She can be reached at

Dear Burglar: What I learned when you stole my tech toys

BurglarBehind every iCloud is a silver lining

Robin Nodland

Good lessons can come in the least expected ways.  My latest tech lesson involved the value of backup to the cloud.  My home  was recently burglarized .   A burglar – aka, “dirtbag” -- broke in, while we were upstairs sleeping, taking not only my beloved iPad, my Kindle, a myriad of other items, but also our sense of security.

After calling the police, who was the next person I called?  My insurance agent?  My mother?  My best friend?  Nope.  It was Mike, my IT genius.   I realized, with a “V-8 slap to the forehead,” that with a simple swipe on the iPad, my email was accessible. 

Mike was up early at home, so he was immediately on task.  First he changed my email password, which also secured the remote access program I use to log in to the office server, LogMeIn.  Then Mike asked me if I wanted him to send a “wipe” command to the iPad, which would make it unusable to Dirtbag. 

Me:  “Yeah, let’s do that.”

Now, if Mike could wipe my iPad remotely, could Amazon do the same for my Kindle?  After all, “Dirt” was now the proud new owner of my Kindle library.

If you’ve ever dealt with Amazon – and who hasn’t?! – then you know what great customer service they have.  I called the 800 number, talked to a very friendly rep, and told him I had two requests:  (1) could he explode my Kindle, preferable with indelible ink, but a light/harsh electrical shock would also suffice; and (2) could I download my Kindle’s content to my laptop?  Although amused, he said no explosion/shock option was available, but he could send a code to “wipe” it and render it useless.  And, yes, I could download a program to my laptop and have access to my entire library.

Me:  “Yeah, let’s do that.”

It is very empowering to hit back.  Dirt now had two interesting paperweights instead of my tech toys. 

Now for the happy ending.  All booty was recovered!   And because IT genius Mike had recently updated my iPad’s iOS and backed it up on my office desktop, he had it restored and functioning in minutes.  Mike added a passcode, which stops Dirt at the front door.   He also turned on the iCloud feature, which backs up my most treasured apps, photos, and documents daily, without me having to remember a thing.   I also added the app Locate my iPhone, which works on all “i” deivices,  and has been very instrumental in helping the police nab the bad guys nationwide.  (And Amazon emailed me the next day, offering condolences on the loss of said Kindle and also including a hyperlink to restore everything if it was recovered.  I will be reading that novel comfortably in bed tonight.)

Postscript:  Genius Mikes love company.  After returning from NCRA’s  Realtime System Administrator workshop in 2010, I asked Mike to implement a tip I received from the other Genius Mike, Mike Miller.   He wrote a simple command for my laptop that would, while shutting down, back up any new files in my CAT software directory to an 8G memory card (like in a camera)…automatically.  As in I don’t have to remember to do this either. 

For me, the smartest tools are the ones that just happen, that are on a schedule, and that I don’t have to think about.  I am thanking my lucky clouds these days.   And guys named Mike.

About the Author
Robin Nodland is co-owner of LNS Court Reporting and LNS Captioning in Portland, Oregon.  She has been a court reporter since 1980, firm owner since 1987, and a captioner since 1992.  Robin is an Oregon CSR, Washington CCR, and is an RPR, RMR, RDR, CRR, and Realtime Systems Administrator.  Robin has competed in NCRA’s realtime contest, placing fourth overall in 2005 and winning a third place QA medal in 2008.

Internet Bookmarks – Quick Resources for Reporters

Photo of the webWelcome to NCRA’s new legal technology blog! Sponsored by the NCRA Technology Evaluation Committee, this blog is designed to become a go-to resource for technology-related tools, tips, and trends that affect NCRA members.

Our first post comes to us from committee member Sue Terry, who compiled a list of her favorite bookmarks in her Internet browser. Below you will find some great resources to help reporters find medical terminology, acronyms, translations, and more.

Have a resource that you think should be on the list? Add your thoughts to the “comments” section, and we will post a part 2 next month with your feedback.

Sue Terry’s Bookmarks

@Driving Directions
@Drug Search - Case Sensitive
@Glossaries by Encyberpedia
@Hospital Directory by State - Great
@Lawyers Martindale
@Library Spot - Multiple Online References
@Medical Encyclopedia - Dictionary Medline
@Medscape Medical and Drugs - Also By Specialty
@Objection Game Free - Try to be a Lawyer and See How We Do
@RefDesk - Just Like Being at the Library
Abbreviations and Acronyms by Category
Acronum Finder
Acronym Finder
All 50 States Info - Schools - Governors - Awsome
Citations - U.S. Code
Citations Shepard's
Congressional Members
Convert Anything to Anything Else
Court Rules Forms and Dockets
Drugs - New - FDA
English to Pig Latin - I'm not kidding
Federal Rules of Evidence
Find Schools by State
Glossaries & Dictionaries on all subjects from
House of Representatives
Internet Society (ISOC) All About The Internet Legal Guide
Kelley Blue Book - Cars Trucks
Latin Dictionary and Grammar Aid
Lawyers Find A Lawyer, Law Firm, Attorney & Legal Services martindale
Legal Dictionary
Library Spot - Multiple Online Refereces
Medical Terms Dictionary
Merck Manuals Online
Oxford University Press Business and finance words
Oxford University Press Science words
Oxford University Press The Oxford 3000 wordlist
Psychological Glossary A-Z
RX-List for Drugs
Slang Online A-Z
Special Dictionaries and Glossaries
Strange & Unusual References
Street Terms Drugs and the Drug Trade
Thomas' Register Products
Tobacco - Cigarettes
U.S. Senate

US Senate and Senators
Words - Just Plain Fun Site for Reporters
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