Fundamentals of Connection Magic

PPTB and NOLA!

So THIS happened:

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Left to Right: Deborah Smolinske, Beverly Thomas, Brenda Rogers-Fiscus

After almost four years of working together remotely and never meeting in person at the same time, we finally did it!  

The NCRA Convention & Expo in New Orleans, Louisiana, was the perfect opportunity for the five of us to finally get together.  In fact, for the first time ever, we locked the PPTB doors and all took a vacation for a week.

Debi set off on seven-day road trip on the Friday before the convention, leaving from her home northwest of Chicago, heading up to the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, and winding her way down the Great River Road to Port Eads, Louisiana, and the Gulf of Mexico.  

Brenda began her own road trip on Saturday with her husband and son, stopping for sightseeing in Springfield, Illinois; St. Louis, Missouri; Vicksburg, Mississippi; and other cities along the way.

Bev and her husband drove from their home in north Mississippi on Wednesday morning and arrived in New Orleans late that afternoon.

Needless to say, there was MUCH hugging and squeeing Wednesday night as Bev greeted Brenda and then Debi on their arrival in New Orleans just minutes apart from each other.

Molly flew in from Gainesville, Florida, late Wednesday night, and Jane flew in from Sarasota, Florida, early Thursday morning.  

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Left to Right: Molly O’Brien, Beverly Thomas, Deborah Smolinske, Brenda Rogers-Fiscus, Jane Molaro

There was, again, much hugging and squeeing at breakfast Thursday morning!  We were FINALLY able to put voices, faces, and mannerisms with written words in Google Hangouts.

Since PPTB stayed at a different hotel than the convention hotel, we all wandered over to the Hyatt to check out things.  Then we had a planned meet and greet with some of our clients, where there was much laughter, storytelling, and general merriment.

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Front, left to right: Jane Molaro, Deanna Dean, Deborah Smolinske, Rebekah Lockwood. Back, left to right: Alan Peacock, Theresa Reese, Brenda Rogers-Fiscus, Beverly Thomas, Molly O’Brien, Kelly Shainline, Lori Stokes

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Left to right: Theresa Reese, Jane Molaro, Molly O’Brien, Alan Peacock, Brenda Rogers-Fiscus, Deborah Smolinske, Holly Thuman, Beverly Thomas, Tana Adams

On Friday, Brenda presented a mini seminar called “Building Reporter-Scopist Relationships,” with her hecklers entourage in tow.  With a roomful of court reporters and scopists present, there was lively discussion about how reporters and scopists can connect and how to form and maintain a good working relationship.

Afterwards, PPTB had our own Eclipse training session.  We found a nice spot in the hotel and settled in with our laptops to dig into the nitty-gritty of some Eclipse features, play around a bit with the latest Version 9 Release Candidate, and discuss some punctuation conundrums and PPTB procedures.

It wasn’t all work-related, of course.  We all explored NOLA, together or in smaller groups.  We rode the trolleys and pedicabs, found new favorite restaurants, experienced the French Quarter, heard some great music, renewed old friendships, and met new people we’ve known online for many years.

Bev and Molly headed home on Saturday, leaving with a few tears but plenty of smiles too. Brenda, Debi, and Jane all attended the Masquerade Ball Saturday night and had a blast.  Debi left early Sunday morning, Jane departed in the early afternoon, then Brenda and her family left in the early evening after additional sightseeing.

We’re all agreed this won’t be the last time we get together.  There’s always the Eclipse Winter Retreat in Florida, the Eclipse Users Group conference in Las Vegas, NCRA in Colorado next year, and many more future events!

All in all, a most excellent adventure!

What price talent, skill, education, and experience?

Ran across this story today while reading the daily Quora digest. We think it applies to each and every one of us in this profession:

QUESTION: What is the coolest line in history?

ANSWER: I recall a story where Picasso was sketching at a park.
A woman walks by, recognizes him, and begs for her portrait. A few minutes later, he hands her the sketch. She is elated, excited about how wonderfully it captures the very essence of her character, what beautiful work it is, and asks how much she owes him.
“5000 francs, madam,” says Picasso. The woman is incredulous, outraged, and asks how that’s even possible given it only took him 5 minutes.
Picasso looks up and, without missing a beat, says:

“No, madam, it took me my whole life.”

Dictionaries in Connection Magic: A Fresh Approach

© BrenDeBev (all publication rights reserved)

One of the more important aspects of working with editing teams in Connection Magic is ensuring that the globals made by team members go into the proper dictionary so that the realtime translation consistently improves.  One of the more tedious aspects of working with multiple dictionaries is analyzing and combining them for the next day’s session.

25023767 - 3d man thinking with red question marks over white backgroundCommon wisdom and recommendation would suggest putting the carefully built case-specific dictionary into Slot 1, leaving the Job slot open for the Eclipse-generated filename dictionary, where conflicts and Auto-Briefs are stored – conflicts for use by scopists and ABs to be reviewed later by the reporter.

While working in Connection Magic jobs, however, dictionaries are shared.  As the reporter uses Auto-Briefs and team members make globals and choose conflicts, all of that data is updated and combined in realtime and can be pointed to one case dictionary, negating the need for the reporter to comb through and combine dictionaries at the end of a long day or use multiple job dictionaries with possible redundant entries.

Here are a few steps to easily streamline this process for greatest efficiency:

Reporters:

  • Send both main and case dictionaries to all editing team members.
  • Load the case dictionary in the Job slot in Dictionaries (F9).  For day-to-day matters, do this in the master user settings (Alt+U, Dictionaries) so it loads automatically when a new file is opened.

Editing team:

  • Direct all globals to the Job dictionary in the Edit tab of user settings.
  • Put both dictionaries in the reporter-specific user. Load the main dictionary in the Main slot.  The job dictionary will load with the Connection Magic file.   

With the case dictionary in the Job slot and globals and conflict info pointing to that dictionary and flowing to all team members, the reporter’s translation will steadily improve from day to day, making the realtime feed cleaner and impressing the end user – your client.

Perfect Partners Transcript Brigade understands the importance of dictionary building during Connection Magic jobs. Let us help you make your realtime sparkle!

Wifi and Mifi and Hotspots, Oh, My

© BrenDeBev (all publication rights reserved)

At 10:30 p.m. on the night of 29 October 1969, a student programmer successfully transmitted a message from a computer at UCLA networked to another computer at Stanford University. This seemingly inauspicious event marked the beginning of the internet age. In the less than 50 years since, the internet has grown to include an incalculable number of PCs, servers, tablets, phones, smartwatches, televisions, and other devices peppered all across every conceivable corner of the globe. That original network still exists today in an updated form. Virtually all of our data exchanges still access that backbone for some or all of the data journey.

In our work utilizing Eclipse’s Connection Magic server, we connect using one of four primary methods: hardwired Ethernet, wifi, dedicated mifi, and cellphone hotspot.

Hardwired Ethernet is usually the most reliable of the four. In this scenario, an Ethernet cable runs from your computer to a modem/router which is hardwired to a switching station nearby, which in turn is hardwired to a central switching station, which in turn is connected to the backbone, and then the signal moves on through more cables and switching stations until it reaches the person or persons at the other end. While IT managers and ISPs can throttle or otherwise manipulate bandwidth access, access is permitted to as much as is available.

Wifi can be nearly as reliable as hardwired access; however, there is more room for outside factors to affect the ability to establish and maintain a reliable connection. Distance from the router is an important factor (best results occur within 30 feet of most routers). Because more devices can access a wifi signal, it is possible to have too many people sharing a connection or a few people using a disproportionate amount of the available bandwidth.

There is much less bandwidth available overall to cellular traffic. While traditional internet users are allocated bandwidth based on their need (someone streaming a movie will be allocated more bandwidth than someone simply checking email), cellular internet users are each allocated an equal portion of the bandwidth pie. It’s possible to start out with half the pie, but, as more users join, your share can go down to a mere sliver of the pie. There is no method in place to allocate according to need; everybody gets the same equal share.

In addition, there are many more environmental factors at play, such as stone walls, heavy user traffic, and distance from cell towers. Even with a strong signal and good bandwidth, the traffic is much more variable with cellular internet connections. Just like vehicular traffic, cellular traffic experiences peaks in usage that roughly correlate to vehicular rush hour times. Even during nonpeak times, traffic can vary widely from moment to moment, causing great fluctuations and variability in the reliability of the connection.

Of the two, a mifi-type connection is more reliable than a phone being used as a hotspot. When using mifi, users are not sharing limited resources with every single other user out there; they are only sharing with other mifi users.

We have come a long way in the less than 50 years since the start of internet communications, but we still have a long way to go. Data sharing is increasing at a rate far faster than most providers can cope with. Connection Magic Shared Editing is an amazing method we are fortunate to be able to use; however, it is limited by the infrastructure to which we have access.

At Perfect Partners Transcript Brigade, we understand these technological issues and have a number of means and methods at our disposal to help us make the most of what’s available. We can quickly diagnose and recognize common shortcomings and offer options and solutions to help deal with them. We make it our business to try to stay abreast of the latest technological advances and changes in the technology so that we can help our clients have the most trouble-free shared editing session possible.

A Little List of Lingo

© BrenDeBev (all publication rights reserved)

ASI » Advantage Software, Inc., the company that develops, maintains, and sells Eclipse CAT software.

Bridge (not the same as “Bridge Mobile”) » A standalone program bundled with Eclipse that allows a reporter to send a realtime feed to other computers over a LAN. Each computer must have the program installed. Bridge does not work with tablets or other mobile devices and predates Bridge Mobile.

Bridge Mobile (not the same as “Bridge”) » The umbrella name for the two ASI components, Bridge Broadcaster and Bridge Mobile Viewer, that facilitate realtime output and viewing.

Bridge Broadcaster » The reporter software that allows the broadcast of a transcript in real time to other computers and/or mobile devices. Reporters must purchase a yearly license to use this functionality.

Bridge Mobile Viewer » Software that allows attorneys and others to view realtime transcript files on computers and/or mobile devices.

CM-Link » A free CAT software add-on that allows users of CAT programs other than Eclipse and/or users of older versions of Eclipse to utilize Bridge Mobile.

Connection Magic (CM) » A proprietary server that handles the streaming of data for realtime sessions using Bridge Mobile (feed viewed by attorneys, paralegals, et cetera) and for editing sessions using CMSE (feed viewed by scopists and/or proofreaders working in the file in real time). Keyless license verification is also accomplished via CM.

Connection Magic Shared Editing (CMSE) » A method of sharing a live file with scopist(s) and/or proofreader(s) for realtime editing purposes.

Keyless License » A method of ensuring that a user’s copy of Eclipse software is valid that does not require the presence of a physical software key.



Browser Cache » Temporary storage space on a computer where a web browser stores files needed to display a website. This space is limited and must be cleared from time to time.

Codec (compression/decompression) » A computer programming algorithm used to compress files (usually audio) for faster transmission and then decompress them on the receiving end. Popular codecs include GSM, PCM, and Speex.

Ethernet Cable » A specialized cable used to connect a computing device to a modem, router, or another computing device in order to send and receive data.

Hard Drive » A physical component of a computer where all files and programs are stored, whether in current use or not. Hard drives are sometimes referred to as “storage space” and is not the same thing as RAM.

LAN » Local Area Network. A closed network broadcast via a router that allows nearby connected devices to send and receive data.

MiFi » A proprietary brand of mobile hotspot, often used in a generic sense to mean any mobile hotspot.

Mobile Hotspot » A wireless router that allows access to the Internet via the cellular data network. Most mobile phones can be set up to act as a mobile hotspot.

Modem » A wired device that allows access to the Internet.

RAM » Random Access Memory. An area of storage space on a computer used by open programs to temporarily store files and other data. RAM is not the same as a hard drive.

Router » A device attached to (or sometimes incorporated within) a modem that broadcasts an Internet signal to multiple devices simultaneously.

The Cloud » Online storage where files reside in a remote location instead of the physical hard drive of a computer. Popular cloud services include Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud.

Wi-Fi » A wireless Internet signal, as distinguished from a signal fed directly from modem to computer via an Ethernet cable.

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