First, let me address the obvious question:
Why Cheap and Sleazy?
The short answer: "Why not?"
As for the sleazy part, if you're here looking for pictures of nekkid folks, you'll just have to settle for my friend, Mr. Flash iPod!
A "Flash" iPod
This is about as sleazy as this site will get, thankyouverymuch -- unless you count some of my jokes, of course ...!
Also, Cheap and Sleazy refers to shortcuts, tips, tricks and ways to do things a bit differently for court reporting students and other Students o' Steno -- some of which will (hopefully) save my readers money ... and, as a few people have told me, the name is easy to remember!
Fair warning: Some of the pictures on my site link to other sites. If you don't click them -- or at least, hover over them -- you may miss something ...!
Finally, to paraphrase the words of Dave Barry:
"If anything you read on this website makes you want to sue me, I was joking. Ha! Ha!"
"Who Writes This Stuff?!?"
Why, I do, of course ...!
My name is Glen Warner ('gdw' on a forum or two), and I am -- well, was -- a court reporting student at the (now closed) Seattle branch of the Court Reporting Institute ... and I am
currently enrolled at The College of Court Reporting Simply Steno Plus contemplating following this guy's example where I will soon be working on my 100s, thanks to Plover.
As for how this site came to be, well, there's a sort of history that I wrote to satisfy the curiosity of a magazine editor ... and you can read that here.
I also do some updating every so often ... but first, if this is your first visit to my
humble (cheap and sleazy) abode, you should check out what's here.
I also, on occasion, solicit articles from other writers! If you have a Stenograph Diamante or a Passport Touch or any of the writers I don't have a review of on here already and don't mind sharing your thoughts about the writer with the readers of Cheap and Sleazy, send me an e-mail! I am gdwarner (at) cheapandsleazy (dot) net. I'd like a review that's a bit more substantial than the quick look I provided in my Technolust II piece ... and that can only come from someone that has one, and has used it for a while!
If you find yourself enjoying the content of Cheap and Sleazy and want to contribute to those pesky hosting fees, you can shoot me a few bucks at my PayPal account!
Join me ... on CSR Nation!
Feel free to join me on Facebook as well!
Ready for a Cheap and Sleazy Update?!? Sure hope so because ...
Cheap and Sleazy Updates!!
Yes, it's true ... I *AM* still alive! (No, really!)
And no, I haven't been pulled into an alternate universe --
-- but, as you've probably noticed, I haven't been updating Cheap and Sleazy as much as I used to.
Chances are good you're wondering why that is ... and the reason is ... Google.
Yes, that's right: Google. Let me tell you how that works.
As you know, every once in a while I Google Cheap and Sleazy -- just to make sure there's no shenanigans going on with the site ... you know, like some clown getting into my website's files and adding stuff that isn't supposed to be there?
Anyway, while so engaged a few months back, I saw this:
Cheap and Sleazy: Not Mobile Friendly
Apparently, Cheap and Sleazy is not "mobile friendly."
Alas, browsing the internet on phones was not a thing back when I was learning XHTML, so for those of you who have been reading Cheap and Sleazy on a phone or a tablet, I apologize.
Still, the problem remained: How do I fix that? How do I make Cheap and Sleazy "mobile friendly," or using the appropriate buzz word I see more often, "responsive?"
Apparently, I have to take my decidedly non-responsive XHTML and add some weird stuff, but that's going to require learning a few things (Bootstrap, JQuery, and a few other things I don't know about -- yet) to get that done properly, so I've been doing some research and a few experiments here and there, but I still have a long way to go before I can reveal a New and Improved Cheap and Sleazy.
There was also a weird thing where you have to make the web browser download fonts. That's weird to me because I was taught to just specify which font is to be used for each different type of paragraph, based on the usual bunch of fonts included with the operating system.
I don't know what fonts come on phones, so I guess I will have to start providing font-downloading instructions as well.
... but don't hold your breath waiting for that. I'll get to it ... hopefully before the next update! :o)
That said ....
I Feel the Need to Make Amends ...
A few years back, somebody sent me ten bucks to my PayPal account as a "thank you" for Cheap and Sleazy!
Unfortunately at that time, I wasn't quite as adept with PayPal as I am now, so all I could see was that somebody named Dave had sent me ten bucks.
As for the point of that narrative, while trying to find something in my PayPal account sometime back, I figured out how to see all transactions ... which is why I can now say a big THANK YOU to David Friedman, who was kind enough to send that money all those
months years ago.
Oh, and I just noticed that I have a *HUGE* typo in that PayPal Me address. I can't believe I did that!
Cheap and Sleazy PayPal.Me Error
... and for the curious, I appear to have forgotten the L in "Sleazy."
In other PayPal related news recently one of the contributors to Cheap and Sleazy saw that I was having trouble with the hosting fees a few years back and thought that situation was happening at the present time, so she was kind enough to ask for my PayPal address. I sent it to her, via Facebook Messages, which naturally shared the image above.
I told her there was a big error in the address, and asked her if she could see what it was ... and after a few minutes, she figured it out, then made a donation ... in the amount of $300, which was enough to cover what the big bill was at the time, but these days, I just pay $15 a month, so no more issues like that!
Naturally I thanked her profusely.
I Lost Control of One of my Domain Names
Yes, that's right ... I somehow managed to lose control of cheapandsleazy.com.
I had originally purchased the domain name as a sort of mirror to Cheap and Sleazy, so if anybody tried to go to the "wrong" web address, they wouldn't get an eyeful of ... well, whatever might be there that's not (my) Cheap and Sleazy ... and it actually worked pretty well -- until ... well. You know.
It's been a while, but I believe it was because I had purchased the two domains on two different dates that were actually months apart ... so when the time came to renew one, I *THOUGHT* I was paying for both of them, but surprise, surprise ...
Anyway, I decided to do some Googling to see what was going on with the domain name, and ... well, see for yourself:
Cheap and Sleazy Dot Com For Sale!
Yeah, I don't think so. Good try, though! Ha ha ha!
Looks like there has been a drop in the price somewhere along the way:
Cheap and Sleazy Dot Com Price Drop!
While I can appreciate the efforts of the
company guy that swooped in and snatched my domain name away from me, he should know that I pay roughly $70/year for the existing domain, and make no money off of that. Good luck trying to sell your new acquisition for that price, because I'm not buying.
So, I bought another domain the other day ...
Yes, that's right ... I went on ahead and bought cheapandsleazy.org.
Unfortunately, I was not able to buy it on the same day as my main domain name expires, but it's within a week of that date, so there's that.
So far, I have had exactly ... one visitor, and I think they got there by accident!
Oh, and look what happened shortly after that purchase:
Cheap and Sleazy Price Drop, Take Three
I don't like to be petty, but ... mu-hu-hu-ha-ha-ha!!
I received an interesting e-mail today:
Would you be interested in buying/owning the domain name cheapandsleazy.com so you can redirect it to your website?
Domain Name Broker
A couple days later I received an exact copy of the same e-mail, which, as you might guess, made me curious, so I actually answered him:
Possibly. How much?
Alas, I never received a response to that one, but shortly after that, I received another e-mail from somebody else:
We just wanted to let you know that domain cheapandsleazy(com) is being released back to the market.
Since you own cheapandsleazy(net), we believe that you might have an interest in securing cheapandsleazy(com) as well.
If you are interested, please follow the link below to get more information and confirm your interest:
All the additional information is available on our web site, but feel free to reply back to this email and we will be more than happy to help you.
(Etc., etc., etc., blah, blah, blah)
Naturally, that prompted me to check to see what was going on with the domain, and sure enough, it was about to go public ... as in dropped from the hands of the previous owners that were trying to get thousands of dollars for it! Mu-hu-hu-ha-ha-ha!!
... but while reading, I discovered a company that would let me work with them to try to buy the domain back for me on the day it dropped, for a mere $56 ... which is a lot better than the $2800 that domain name squatter was asking a couple years back ... so long story a bit (quite a bit!) longer than I had planned, I am now the proud owner of Cheap and Sleazy (dot) com! Mu-hu-hu-ha-ha-ha!!
Next I had to let the folks that host Cheap and Sleazy know that I have the domain so they could work their magic and make the appropriate address appear in the address bar when folks are looking at cheapandsleazy (dot) com ...!
It took some doing, but after a couple of false starts, I was able to get cheapandsleazy.com to show the contents of cheapandsleazy.net -- unfortunately, without very much help from my host's tech "support." Apparently, they wanted me to add some funky (technical term) code to all of the pages on Cheap and Sleazy to accomplish that, and suggested that I would have to "talk to your web developer" about adding code to every HTML page I have on Cheap and Sleazy (about 200 at this point) to facilitate the switch.
Naturally I questioned him on that, and in response, he closed the Support case, thinking the "solution" he had came up with was a good one.
All it actually took was to make a small adjustment to the name servers of the host, and I found that by doing a Google search of the host's site, which immediately brought up the appropriate article.
"Add extra code to all of your pages" my A*-SZ!
... but unfortunately, that solution didn't last, but a quick e-mail to the folks at Name Bright pointed me in a similar direction, but on their end ... so now cheapandsleazy.com shows what I have up on cheapandsleazy.net, which is just what I wanted it to do.
But wait --! What's *THIS*?!?
Shortly after the acquisition of cheapandsleazy.com, my phone started ringing off the hook! I didn't answer the first two calls, but the third one I answered just to see what the heck was going on ...!
Seems that the company that I registered the new domain with was kind enough to share my contact info with ... everybody.
The people calling were trying to get me to hire them to design my "new" website.
Fixed that. Mostly.
But Wait! There's More!
I received (yet another) e-mail a few days later from a company in China that wanted to know if they could use the name "Cheap and Sleazy" for something:
Chinese Domain Name Spam E-mail
I was actually all set to answer that one, but before I did, I decided to do a quick Google search for some of the text in the e-mail, and I found this one and then this one.
Don't stop me if you've heard this before, but ...
But Wait! There's More!!
Somewhere along the way, I received yet another e-mail from (you guessed it ...) China. This one read like so:
Attention: Important Notice, DOMAIN SERVICE NOTICE
Domain Name: yourdomain.com
ATT: Your Full Name
Response Requested By 22 - Marc. - 2018
PART I: REVIEW NOTICE
Attn: Your Full Name
As a courtesy to domain name holders, we are sending you this notification for your business Domain name search engine registration.
This letter is to inform you that it's time to send in your registration.
Failure to complete your Domain name search engine registration by the expiration date may result in cancellation of this offer making it difficult for your customers to locate you on the web. Privatization allows the consumer a choice when registering.
Search engine registration includes domain name search engine submission.
Do not discard, this notice is not an invoice it is a courtesy reminder to register your domain name search engine listing so your customers can locate you on the web.
This Notice for: yourdomain.com will expire at 11:59PM EST, 22 - Marc. - 2018 Act now!
I didn't respond. Hopefully these tales of woe will keep others from falling into that trap.
"It's Dead, Jim!"
My mighty 2010 MacBook Pro, that is.
I had been putting off upgrading my trusty MacBook Pro's operating system because there was a program I relied on to feed my "Different Dictation" listening habits, which I fed by recording paranormal internet radio talk shows every once in a while.
Okay, every day (shaddup!).
That program was called "WireTap Pro," which, alas, is no longer supported, thanks to some changes in the way the Mac OS does things (*shakes both fists in the general direction of Cupertino!!*).
Setting up WireTap Pro was easy ... and once you had it set up, all you had to do was start it, start your web browser or whatever playing whatever it is you wanted to record, and hit the Record button ... and it would save the file to the folder you chose in WireTap Pro's Preferences pane to your hard drive.
I'm going to miss that program! But I digress.
I did manage to find something that might be able to replace WireTap Pro by way of "Audio Hijack" -- which, it turns out, is said to have been created by the same team that made WireTap Pro.
It's a bit more, shall we say, "busy" when it comes to setting it up, but I think it will get the job done.
Fortunately, I have one more MacBook Pro that I haven't been able to upgrade that will still run WireTap Pro, so I'm in no hurry.
Audio Hijack In Action
WireTap Pro Preferences
Unfortunately, all of the web browsers I had stopped supporting the OS (say "Operating System") my MacBook Pro was running, which was Mac OS 10.6.8 ... or "Snow Leopard."
What would happen was that some of the websites I visit regularly would either load incorrectly, or just plain not load at all, like Virus Total, which I use from time to time to check a sketchy file or website to ensure my Mac doesn't visit or download anything ... well, sketchy.
In the case of the aforementioned Virus Total, instead of giving me the main page like it does on my 2008 iMac, what I was seeing was an odd color pattern that should have been the logo that appears on the site, but not so much for that MacBook Pro:
Virus Total: Forever Loading
Basically, what was going on was that little set of blue lines kept marching back and forth forever, never loading what I needed to see to use the site.
When it's fully loaded, it's supposed to look like this:
Virus Total: Fully Loaded
Add to that the e-mail I received sometime back informing me that support for DropBox in Snow Leopard would come to an end soon (which I depend on to move TV shows from both of my Snow Leopard-running MacBook Pros to my iMac) when I decided it might be a good idea to update one of my MacBook Pros from the aforementioned Snow Leopard to Yosemite (Mac OS 10.10.5).
Well, that, and that the new version of Plover doesn't work on anything below Mac OS 10.10.5.
Updating: The Good Ol' Days
Before the internet became what it is today, you had to get system updates from your friendly neighborhood
Macintosh Apple Users Group, or "MUGs," and those updates initially came out on floppy disks.
Eventually, the MUGs set up bulletin board systems (say "BBS,"), which were kind of like the internet we have today, but much slower), like First Class. From those, Mac users were able to discover new Mac software, and, of course, download those all-important system updates.
Sometimes you could get system updates from a couple of Mac magazines out there, like MacAddict, the UK's MacFormat, and the (now gone) BMUG Newsletter ... which, by the way, weighed in at more than 200 pages sometimes!
Yes, it was ...! Unfortunately, that's not what happens these days. Instead of just downloading it directly from Apple's website, you have to go through the App Store ... and when I finally remembered what my password was (and no, it wasn't "password"), I discovered that the updater I needed was no longer available from Apple, so I had to resort to downloading one through, shall we say, a rather "sketchy" method: BitTorrents.
With the first one I found, the link failed verification via the aforementioned Virus Total, so (naturally) I didn't download that one.
The next one seemed to be perfect, so I copied the link and fed it to my BitTorrent program of choice, Transmission.
The download went (relatively) quickly, and soon made it all the way up to 98.15 percent complete ...
... where it sat for about two hours before I decided to give up and try a different link.
I finally got it downloaded ... only to find that the updater I had downloaded needed to be loaded on to a flash drive -- no more installing it on blank DVDs!
So I sacrificed my eight gig flash drive/laser pointer/pen (which was the perfect time to replace that 8-gig laser pen with the 16 gig model, located some instructions on how to format that flash drive, backed up the information on the drive to another MacBook Pro (from 2008, which needs to be updated as well, but can't be) and ran the appropriate terminal commands to load the updater on that flash drive.
And then finally, it was done ... so I slipped the flash drive into one of the USB ports, restarted my MacBook Pro, holding the appropriate keys down so I could select which drive to start up from, and ran the installer.
... and then it was done!
The first thing I did was to use Firefox to download the new update for Plover, and Firefox was nice enough to offer to download an updated version of itself, since my Mac had this fancy-schmancy (TPA*-PBGS /SKPHA*-PBGS) new OS and all.
While Firefox was updating, I wanted to check out what's what with the new version of Plover, and ... nothing. It kept putting up an error when I tried to start it.
Turns out all I had to do -- thanks to some quick work by Ted Morin, lead developer on the Plover Project -- was rename the "Plover.cfg" file to "Plover.old.cfg," which forced Plover to create a new one ... and soon I was back in business!
I gave the MacBook Pro a rest and installed the new version of Plover on my Windows 7-running PC, tested it to make sure everything was working, and then back to work on the Mac, where I quickly busied myself by
goofing off on a few websites making sure that the new version of Firefox was working properly (it was!), and, while so engaged, my screen went black, and was soon replaced by a gray screen, telling me that I had to restart my Mac.
Kernel Panic (Translation: "Sucks to be you!")
Many a Mac user has seen this screen, and none of them enjoyed the experience ... because that's the screen a Mac puts up when it has a kernel panic.
Feeling a bit (okay, so quite a bit) less than pleased, I restarted, and went back to making sure Firefox was working properly ... and then I decided to update Chrome.
Did I mention I usually have six web browsers on my iMac? When one gives me fits, I switch to the next one, download the appropriate update, and get back to what I was doing with the updated version.
... and for the curious, those browsers are Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Vivaldi, and Brave.
Yes, I know what you're thinking:
"Dude! That's a lot of browsers! How do you keep up with them?!?"
Well, allow me to let you in on a little secret.
As you probably know, Firefox and Chrome are the top two web browsers these days, and their code is freely available to any developer to use as they see fit ... which explains why there are so many web browsers -- they all are based on the top two -- but Safari is all Apple, while Internet Explorer/Microsoft Edge is all Microsoft.
Now, if I could *JUST* get Safari to stop "helping me" by "fixing" my steno strokes while I use it with Plover that would be great! Grrrr ...
... but I'm supposed to be telling you what happened to my MacBook Pro.
While testing one of the web browsers, once again my screen went black -- even after I had installed all of the appropriate updates available for my system. Instead of pushing the power button, I just shut the lid and unplugged it, letting it run out of power ... but when I tried to start it again a few minutes later, the little light on the front flashed a bit, and I could hear a strange gurgling sound coming from the hard drive, so once again, I unplugged it, got on the iMac ... and started Googling for assistance, to no avail.
So now my once mighty MacBook Pro sits in a drawer, waiting for the time I can take it down to my favorite Mac-pusher at Re:PC for a check-up ... or exorcism. Whichever.
But Wait ...! What's *THIS*?!?!
So. It's been a week with my poor dead MacBook Pro lying in a drawer, and for some odd reason, I decided to see if I could start it up again ... and it worked!
"It's Alive! Alive! Mu-hu-hu-ha-ha-ha!!"
I used it for a couple hours, and then (you guessed it ...) another kernel panic. I dutifully rebooted and used it without any issues for another couple of hours, and then it had another kernel panic.
I rebooted and shut it down, then started looking around -- via the iMac -- for a solution on a few of the Mac forums ... and eventually I found a thread that linked to this discussion:
... where I found out, among other things, that the problem I was having was because of an issue between the new fancy-shmancy OS and the MacBook Pro's graphics card, and that link up there had the solution -- in the form of a small program that would adjust my MacBook Pro's graphic card's preferences somehow.
I downloaded the file to my DropBox folder, checked it against the aforementioned VirusTotal (no issues), then opened that new file on my MacBook Pro.
I followed the instructions in the link up there, and configured the program to match the settings shown in the article, thusly:
GFX Card Preferences
It's been a day so far, and so far, no kernel panics!
... that is, until I decided to check to see if there was an update for that program (there was), and after downloading and installing said update, I decided I wanted to read something in my newly-upgraded Kindle program, which resulted in a message that said that the GFX card had automatically switched to another setting (which it wasn't supposed to be able to do), because the Kindle program required that particular setting to work.
... and that's when I got another kernel panic.
Thankfully, rebooting seemed to have taken care of that problem, so that's something.
Next up: a new battery -- which is actually on it's way. Good thing, too ... because apparently, Coconut Battery says my battery's condition is "poor."
Silly me ... so I headed off to eBay and I ordered what I thought was the battery I needed for my MacBook Pro, but it turns out there are three different types of batteries, and apparently, what I ordered was the wrong one -- but I'm pretty sure that the picture of the battery I based my order on does *NOT* look like the one that arrived in the mail ....
And if that's not enough, the battery I needed to replace decided that it was time to go to that big battery cemetery in the sky ... so when I tried to start my MacBook Pro, the fans ran very fast (in all the years I've had Mac laptops, I've never heard the fans run that hard!), and the system reported that I don't have a battery installed.
As for the battery, turns out Amazon sells them -- and there's
no way a smaller possibility of my buying the wrong one this time, so I'm going to buy one of those in the not-too-distant ... and then my once mighty MacBook Pro will become mighty once again.
Fifteen Inch MacBook Pro (from EveryMac.com)
(Yet Another) Update (11FEB18)
I'm not sure exactly how this happened, but I was using a backpack I had purchased somewhere a few years back and never really used to carry my other MacBook Pro (yes, I have
two three -- my 2010 one with all the issues, a 2008 one I can't upgrade at all, and another 2008 one that doesn't power up, despite the new battery I bought for it a few weeks back ... and no, they're two different batteries, so no swapping them out) with me to the library, because my internet is down (my ISP was all like, "Dude, you'd *BETTER* have mah money!!").
At one point or another, I reached into the rear compartment of that backpack and felt something ... odd. I pulled it out, and it was, amazingly enough, a battery.
Or more specifically, it was the exact same battery I needed for my ailing 2010 MacBook Pro.
I thought I had simply not put that battery back into the computer and was just going to let it go, but while watching one of those "QAnon" videos my curiosity got the better of me, so I took the ailing laptop into the dining room -- such as it is; it's more like a breakfast nook -- and opened it up, where (naturally) I found that there was already a battery in it.
Since that battery wasn't doing me any good at the time, I removed it and replaced it with that "mystery battery" ... and this time, I got all of the screws in the right places (pats self on the back)!
Well, okay ... so I had one screw left over ... but in my defense, it wouldn't fit into the one remaining hole. But I digress.
So. Plugged it in, powered it up, replaced that "updated" graphics card program with the original one ... and had a kernel panic when I quit that program -- which was to be expected, seeing as how it had to be running when the Mac boots up for it to work.
Rebooted, got everything working, checked the battery's status with the aforementioned Coconut Battery, and it was in much better shape than the one I had in there before!
Coconut Battery Status
Still, though ... I don't know where that battery came from, because I'm pretty sure it wasn't in that backpack when I used it a couple days before, but I don't think I'm going to complain about it.
As a bit of an aside, when I find myself needing another battery for a laptop, that means that the one I have currently is on death's door ... as in, when the new one arrives, the old one is out the door, "quick, fast, and in a hurry," as my mom was fond of saying.
Yet I found a laptop battery in the part of a backpack where the straps normally go -- which is *NOT* somewhere I would normally put anything other than maybe a really thin folder with a few pieces of paper in it.
Hence, all the fuss on this end.
Hmm ...! I wonder ...
(*Dashes off to the second bedroom to check that backpack one more time!!*)
Well, crap! I didn't find any winning lottery tickets or anything like that in that particular backpack ... but it certainly couldn't have hurt to take a look!
Oddly enough, that incident reminds me of a "Different Dictation"-style story I heard a few years ago.
If I recall correctly, there was a woman who was living in a house by herself with no visible means of support. That is, she had no relatives, no job, no pension, etc.
As the weather began getting on the
cool cold side, she discovered that her furnace wasn't working, so she called her local furnace repair company for an estimate on the cost of the repairs.
The technician told her that it would cost $800 or so, which, naturally, she didn't have.
I don't know exactly what it was she did before she went to bed that night, but when she woke up the next day, there was about $900 sitting on her kitchen table.
Yeah, yeah, I know: "Glen! You listen to some weird A*-SZ /SH-EUZ /TPH-EUT!!"
I get that a lot.
I wonder if that woman lived in Ireland ...?
Summer With the Leprechauns
Maybe I should finish reading that book ... I *KNOW* it's around here *SOMEWHERE* ...
(Yet Another) Update (15APR18)
In the Stax Exchange article I linked to that had the fix for the kernel panics, there was a link to a small program that would pretty much do the same thing, so I downloaded and installed it -- without uninstalling the other fix ... and so far, in the past couple of months, I think I've had exactly one kernel panic.
I can live with that.
And (Yet Another) Update (17NOV20)
As many of you probably already know, I listen to a lot of what I call "Different Dictation" (Note to self: update that article!!)
While that article up there is very much out of date these days (Art Bell died and handed the reins over to his producer, Heather Wade, who
is was doing a great job on her new show, "The Kingdom of Nye,") she recently had a guest on that was talking about some of the weird things he's experienced over the years, and at one point the subject of apports came up -- and for the click-shy, that's when something pretty much appears out of nowhere ... like, say, that battery I mentioned.
Subscribers can send Heather a short message while she's on the air ... and when that subject came up, I naturally sent her one about my battery experience, which you can listen to here (it's just shy of two minutes).
Just so you know, after she read my message, she spent another half hour talking about her experiences with apports, seeing as how she's living in Art Bell's studio these days (she bought it).
I actually have a copy of that entire segment ... around here somewhere. Hopefully I'll remember to upload it so you can hear the entire thing.
Art Bell Phun
A few days ago I was out and about, engaged in a bit of shopping while listening to the Paranormal Radio app as I usually do ... and suddenly I heard Art Bell telling a familiar story ... and when I realized what it was, I started grinning like a loon (do loons actually grin?) as Art went on to tell his audience about how one of his cats had chewed a button off of his new laptop ... and at the time that one originally aired, I had sent Art a "Fast Blast," which is what Art called the (non e-mail) messages his audience would send him while he was on the air.
I'm pretty sure I've already put this one on Cheap and Sleazy, but here it is for those of you who missed it.
Still miss that guy ... but not as much as Heather does.
(And now, we return you to the
crap stuff I was yakking about previously.)
A few weeks back, I was checking out my (fairly) friendly neighborhood Value Village in an effort to replace my old iMac's mouse which I loaned to an ex-girlfriend from days gone by, to replace her Bluetooth mouse that her brother had given to her ... which, unfortunately, sat unused in a box for several months with a pair of dead (and leaking) batteries installed, which fouled the mouse's electronics, so nothing I did would make it work.
... which is why I suddenly found myself a mouse short.
Alas, the folks at the store didn't want me in there with my Trader Joe's grocery bag (hey! I was out grocery shopping!), but I told them what I was looking for and why, so they let me check to see if there was a Mac mouse available (there wasn't).
As I was getting ready to leave, I stopped to check one more spot in the store, where I found an iPhone 3GS, with the original box.
iPhone 3gs Box
I thought it might make a good replacement for my original iPod Touch I got for free when I bought that aforementioned 2010 MacBook Pro a few years back ... which, while it still works, also only had eight gigs of storage versus the (roughly) 32 gigs on the iPhone.
Since it was selling for a mere $25, I bought it, took it home, hooked it up to my MacBook Pro, started iTunes, and attempted to load a few of the playlists I had made over the years. It took some doing, but I managed to get a few of them loaded ... and then I decided to give it a password. Right after I did that, a little message popped up that said there was an iOS update available, and would I like to download and install it?
Having used Apple products for lo, these many years, I thought, "Sure, why not?"
Apparently, there was a bug in that particular update, which made the phone pretty much ignore any password you had created before -- which I found out after the update had been installed, and I had been instructed to restart the phone.
It restarted just fine ... and that's when I discovered that bit about the password not working.
I had to completely wipe the phone and start over -- after a couple days. Seems the iPhone didn't want to let me start it up, because I didn't have the password -- or more correctly, it wouldn't accept the password I punched in.
One would think I could just reinstall the OS, skip the update, and be on my way, right? Well, not so much. Seems that after I wiped it, it demanded a SIM card before I could do anything with it.
"What the frell?!? There wasn't one in there before and you weren't complaining!" I said to the phone, but to no avail (I guess they don't start listening unless they have one of those pesky SIM cards installed!).
After going through far too many steps to discuss here, I finally got a SIM card the iPhone appeared to like from [FreedomPop] (about which, more later ... ggggrrrrr --!!!), which, of course, required me to install their software to use their service ... which, also of course, wouldn't run under iOS 6.1.6.
... so I was left with a phone I couldn't use as a phone.
On the plus side, that was exactly why I bought it, so I don't feel too bad about that, so that's good.
Now, then ... one of these days I'm going to have to see if I can get that 19 hour playlist on there ...
Update: I have managed to get several of my playlists on there, as well as Nanosaur II ... and I have discovered that it's much easier to play that game with a computer keyboard as opposed to rocking a phone back and forth.
Here's the iPhone version:
Nanosaur II on an iPhone
... and here's how it looks on the iMac:
Nanosaur on an iMac
*Aaarrgghhh ...!* Frelling [FreedomPop]!!!
It may surprise folks that read that heading up there to know that I have been a FreedomPop customer for the past couple of years, mostly without incident.
As of seven days ago as I write this, I am no longer a customer ... and FreedomPop is now one of those "Never-too-Sufficiently-Dammed" companies I would *NEVER* recommend to *ANYBODY* ...!!
In other words, I am less than pleased with them ... hence the "kill box" (the brackets around "FreedomPop" up there).
"A Particular Set of Skills"
I don't talk on the phone all that much -- though a couple of weeks ago I did take the time to call my "Favorite Ex-Wife" on what would have been our (*mumble-mumble*)th anniversary, and played for her the "Happy Anniversary" song from "The Flintstones" for a few seconds, as I do every year -- so I opted for the free service (200 minutes per month, 500 megs of data), which ended up costing me a mere $1.98/month, for text messaging.
Not a problem.
The problem arose when I found myself offline (again ...) and saw their ad for a hotspot -- which is basically a gadget that provides the user with a WiFi connection to the internet -- selling for about ten bucks (they are -- er, were -- normally $50).
Sounded good to me, so I ordered one. The ad I saw said that I would get free service for two weeks, but before the two weeks was up, I was supposed to go to my account page on FreedomPop's website and make the appropriate adjustments to ensure I was getting the free service ... which is also where one would monitor their data.
Trouble is, the hotspot never appeared on my account page.
The ad also said that the hotspot could support "up to seven devices."
After I ordered the hotspot, I got an e-mail with a tracking number -- a FedEx tracking number, mind you -- so naturally I thought it would get here within a couple days.
Turns out, not so much.
Not only did it take nearly a week before it got here -- delaying my phone's monthly, um ... let's say "refill" until it arrived, which it did, some three days later ... by snail-mail(!) -- I was only able to use it for three hours before I started getting e-mails from PayPal telling me that FreedomPop was trying to charge me $15.00 for a "data top-off."
Not just once ... not twice ... but *THREE* times!
... and refill? What happened to my two-week free trial? What about being able to handle "up to seven devices" ...?
I complained to PayPal that I didn't authorize any of the payments, but whoever it was I was dealing with at PayPal told me, "You should have read the contract you signed more closely," or words to that effect.
I have to say, I think there was steam coming out of my ears at that point.
And the e-mail I (later) received from FreedomPop's Tech "Support" mentioned charges of $9.99 for something called "FreedomPop Premier" and another one for $24.99 for something called "Premium 2GB," but I think by that time, PayPal probably started to believe what I had told them before, because I never saw those charges anywhere -- neither from PayPal or from the bank.
As I was pretty much offline unless I walked ("*FIFTEEN MILES,* UP HILL, IN THE SNOW ...") over to the library, I decided to try calling the tech support line ... and boy, was that ever a waste of time.
After listening to a rather lengthy message about how I could probably fix my issue by simply going to the website -- you know, the very same website I couldn't get to because the hotspot I bought to get me back online wasn't working? -- I was then offered the chance to log in with my FreedomPop phone number ... yes, that's right ... the very same number that suddenly stopped working a couple days before.
Eventually, I got to speak to a real live human ... and said human put me back in the same frustrating queue I had already been in -- but this time, I didn't bother entering my phone number.
I will spare you the details here, but suffice to say I spent 48 minutes talking to three different "support" techs, to no avail.
A couple days later I went to the library, went online, and saw that I had received a few e-mails from PayPal, and one from FreedomPop.
PayPal had apparently deleted that comment about how I should have read the contract more closely, and had decided (rightfully so, in my opinion!!) to deny the charges.
Too late, though ... my bank sent me a letter in the mail letting me know that I now owe them $75 in overdraft fees (I am disputing the charges, of course).
As for the e-mail from FreedomPop, it basically said that after three hours of use, I had used up all of my data (???) ... and as for that "free two week trial" I was expecting ... well. Turns out that the shipping time is part of the two week trial.
As you might guess, I was less than pleased with FreedomPop, and right after reading that e-mail, I went home, grabbed my FreedomPop phone, and removed/uninstalled everything that said "FreedomPop" I could find.
Definitely a bunch of BS going on over there, so I will be looking around for another cheap phone company ... preferably one that doesn't count shipping time as part of your "free trial," or charge you for the equipment you're using during what was supposed to be a "free trial."
Whatever happened to the idea of a business doing what it says it's going to do?
I get it. You have to make a profit ... but if you make your profit by pissing off your customers, well, posts like this one are the result.
"This is Not the Award You're Looking For."
Now you have one less customer ... not to mention all of the potential customers that will read this in the future when they type "FreedomPop" into a search engine field.
Decisions, decisions ... but clearly, they're doing a bang-up job on their own.
Thanks for asking, though!
(Yet Another) iPhone Update
A couple months back, I got a Facebook message from my favorite daughter -- and for the curious, I only have the one daughter, so there's no competition!
Anyway, she said she wanted me to pick out a refurbished iPhone on Amazon so she could add me to her "Friends and Family" plan.
After I got over the shock, I did as she asked, and picked out one -- an iPhone 6SE.
Needless to say, the iPhone 3GS was quickly replaced by the iPhone 6!
I still keep the iPhone 3 handy, though ... sometimes I just want to listen to one of the lengthy playlists I have on there and not have to worry about the phone ringing -- or chirping ... -- or -- well. You know what I mean.
Even better, for those of you who read my Cheap and Sleazy TV article, I am now one of the lucky folks that are testing the new version of the TV Forecast app!
TV Forecast App
So far, just one complaint/bug report from me (the app thinks I'm on the east coast), but all good otherwise.
At one point during the testing period, the app suddenly appeared to require payment to continue accessing the website where the data that fed the app was coming from.
Fortunately the payment was "virtual" ... that is, all we had to do was select the appropriate option and amount, no money came out of my account, nor was I requested to provide that information, so that's something.
... and then, the testing period was over, at which point I was informed by the app that if I wanted to continue using the app for free, I had to cut the number of shows I had listed down to five.
Just FIVE shows?!? For those of you who have not made it over to my TV article, here's a look at the shows I watch over a one month period:
Share TV's Full Calendar
... so five shows isn't going to do very much for me.
After I wrote the above, I received a notification letting me know that there was a new version of the app to test, so I'm good to go for another fifty days.
Of course, that means I had to re-add all of the TV shows I had to get rid of before. Fortunately, I have time ... at least another fifty days, so there's that.
Now, then ... to let the programmer know about the incorrect time issue, which manifests in that the app seems to think I'm on the east coast, so all of the shows display start times three hours earlier than they should.
Looks like I found my first bug ... again!
As for the cost, it looks like I can use the actual app for either $.99/a month, $14 a year, or about $26 for a lifetime subscription, so we'll see.
Now, then ... if I could *JUST* convince him to turn that app into another Dashboard Widget ...
I don't know about you, but I think I've had enough politics to last me for at least another 20 years -- though I have to admit some fascination with the whole "QAnon" thing (a *REALLY* deep rabbit hole) -- but sometime before I got really tired of it all, I was watching an episode of "Last Week Tonight" and I saw the host, John Oliver, also known as ... well. See for yourself:
John "Hostus Mostus" Oliver
At one point, John was freely giving out endorsements, like so:
... so naturally, I thought I would just help myself to one of those endorsements for Cheap and Sleazy:
... and if I hear someone whining about "But ... but ... the Russians!!" just ONE MORE TIME ...
Boris and Natasha at the DNC Convention
... but I hear the government has their best agents on the job:
Bullwinkle and Rocky
I'm (fairly) sure very few of my readers recognize these two top agents ... so you can read about them here.
Hmm ...! Looks like these two are going to be making a comeback
Let's hope the network doesn't screw it up.
They managed to screw it up.
Bullwinkle looks ... okay, I guess, but Rocky, not so much:
The new Bullwinkle and Rocky
And why are they wearing underwear?
I only watched one episode, and that was more than enough for me. I'm not sure if the show has been renewed or not.
Another "Bad Reboot"
A few years back, CBS put out a "new and improved" version of "Star Trek," and they made one too many changes -- the main one being giving the audience a main character that somehow turned out to be the "sister" of one of the original series' main characters, when everybody knows there was no such person.
... and don't get me started on those frelling "new" Klingons ...!
A Couple of Klingons
As a bit of an aside, Michael Dorn, the actor behind "Star Trek: The Next Generation" character "Worf" came up with an idea for another series: "Captain Worf." Unfortunately, that one never got off the ground, but "Star Trek Discovery" did.
... which is why many of the older "Star Trek" fans aren't really keen on this new show.
Wait a minute ....
So I just did a search for "Star Trek" "Captain Worf," and this came up:
Apparently, there's some interest from CBS, but nothing can happen until they get out of that nasty contract with both Secret Hideout and Bad Robot that ex-CBS head, Les Moonves, who cancelled "Enterprise" stuck the new CEO with.
She got her revenge though, when Moonves demanded $120 million in severance pay after being accused of some less-than-awesome behavior while still at CBS.
... and don't get me started on those new "Star Wars" movies!
Of course, if you have an hour, this video talks about the original script, before ... well. Let's not get into that. Thankfully, the new TV series, "The Mandalorian" and its companion show, "Disney Gallery: Star Wars: The Mandalorian" kind of make up for those crappy movies.
Baby Yoda says hi
Thankfully, the right folks -- as in, people that actually understand "Star Wars" -- are running things now, so look for a lot of Star Wars-related TV shows and movies soon.
... along with one "other" female-led show that probably won't last very long, and one that probably will:
Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka
But enough about that.
But wait ...! What's this?!?
"A Sad Realization"
A few months back, I made a rather odd discovery and shared it on Facebook:
"Law school:" HRA*O-UL
"Medical school:" PHA*O-UL
"Court reporting school:"
... well. You can probably see where this is going.
... but you're probably wondering what's the deal with that screenshot from one of Apple's old commercials.
In that shot, the "security specialist" behind the aforementioned John Oliver look-alike(ish) comedian by the name of John Hodgman is talking about how, after having "upgraded" to Windows Vista and running into their new "UAC" -- User Access Control -- feature, he pretty much has to okay everything he's trying to do before Vista would allow him to do it ... and at the end of the ad, Mr. Security says to PC, "You are coming to a sad realization. Cancel or allow?"
... hence the screenshot.
Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking:
"Glen! I think you really need to get out more!"
I'm workin' on it, I'm workin' on it ...!
Somebody posted a request for a one-stroke outline for "spider" on Facebook.
Naturally, being the helpful sort that I am, I ... well. See for yourself:
WHA*-P /WHA*-P WHA*-P!!
Hmm. I think perhaps just one whap might do the job ... but with a spider, it's always good to be sure! Because otherwise ...
Uh-oh! Oh, SH*-EUT!!!
Today, however, with the clarity of thought (sometimes) brought on by the passage of time, I probably would actually have gone with SPAO*-EURD.
Of course, that wouldn't have been as funny.
"It was an epic battle ..."
Somehow, a rather large spider managed to get into my apartment a few weeks back. As I wasn't quite thrilled with the prospect of waking up with that spider draping a leg or two over me and pulling me closer (*shudder!*), it was time to go to *WAR!!*
I armed myself with my vacuum cleaner, and chased the spider around my bedroom ... and then finally came that moment of truth, where I had him dead to rights! I lowered the business end of the vacuum cleaner towards him ... and just as it was about to suck him up (technical term), a small piece of a paper towel fell off my bed, landing between the business end of the vacuum cleaner and the spider.
Needless to say, he got away.
But Wait! There's More!
I am in a few Facebook groups on (you guessed it ...) Facebook.
Every once in a while I share a few of my outlines in these groups, like so:
Yet Another Helpful Steno Outline
17MAR17: An ... Interesting Anniversary
Do you know what that anniversary was?
It was the 20th anniversary of the publication of "Harry Potter!" Long time readers of Cheap and Sleazy know what *THAT* means ... yes, that's right ...
"Warner Warner Warner Warner Warner Warner Warner Warner Warner Warner Warner Warner -- Cheap and Sleazy ...!"
Did you click the picture? :o)
Sadly, clicking that picture takes you to a now-dead Flash site, which, unfortunately, no longer works, but I linked to the archived version so you could (almost) see what it was I was trying to show you.
That, of course, required me to do some searching, which brought me to this YouTube video instead.
Unfortunately, that also means that I started court reporting school some (*mumble-mumble*) years earlier ...! And what that means is ...
(Yet Another) Sad Realization
I'm pretty sure everybody's aware of how crappy these last few years have been for our celebrities:
... and so is she.
Unfortunately, the court reporting community wasn't spared. We lost realtime trainer extraordinaire Anita Paul, Ohio court reporter Judy Gage, and the brilliant mind behind Phoenix Theory, Carol Jochim.
Jeff Justice delivered the news of the passing of Ms. Paul in one of the Facebook groups I'm in:
It is with great sadness that I tell you that Anita Paul Johnston, one of the greats in the world of Court Reporting and a CSP with the National Speakers Association, passed away last night in Hospice. Jim, her husband, said she was comfortable when she passed. I've been working with her for the past three years and we became very close. I can tell you she was one of the good people.
Anita truly cared about others before herself and always thought the best of everyone. Typical of her, one of her last actions in life was to send my wife and me a present for our mutual birthday which is tomorrow.
We always laughed a lot when we talked and always enjoyed each other's company.
Hopefully I've misspelled something here or made a grammatical error because I know how much she loved to correct me.
She continued to do our live presentations right up to three weeks ago when she was too weak to travel because she wanted to get her information online and out to her beloved court reporters after she passed.
I'll miss you Anita!
Sarah Nageotte, past president of the NCRA posted a few words about Judy Gage:
Overnight Monday, November 14th, into Tuesday, November 15th, the court reporting and captioning world lost another great one.
Judy Gage, a federal official with the Northern District of Ohio and part-time independent broadcast captioner, passed away unexpectedly.
Please keep Judy's husband, family, and friends in your thoughts and prayers during this time.
There will be a memorial service and celebration of life for Judy held Saturday, December 10th. As soon as the final arrangements are announced, I will be sure to share.
"You don't get to choose how you are going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you are going to live. Now." -- Joan Baez
Judy, I miss our daily talks already. May you know that you have left this world a better place!
A big loss to all for this Phoenix Theory writer comes with the passing of Phoenix Theory's author, Carol Jochim. Kathryn Dittmeier, her longtime friend and the new
Phoenix Theory mom caretaker of both Phoenix Theory and the Phoenix Theory website -- which, because of the antics of some low-life scum-sucking slime (technical term) hacker who managed to infect the original Phoenix Theory website with spammy code is now best read here:
Kathryn Dittmeier and Carol Jochim 2004
One Gone from the Depoman Fam
Unfortunately, we appear to have lost another (Judy Gage was the first) member of the Depoman Fam, with the death of John Squires.
John Squires is Gone
Somebody wrote a really good eulogy for him:
Some of my friends already know that my friend John Squires, the husband of my dear friend Vicki Squires, has been missing for some time now and is presumed gone. I still can’t even say or write the D word.
John was one of those people you meet in life that draws you in immediately. You want to hang out with him and go where he goes to see what fantastical story he will tell next – and you'd always need a tissue for the tears of laughter.
I remember one occasion we were having a few drinks up in the hotel room and he told a story about a little person he had gone to CR school with. We got a phone call inviting all 7 or 8 of us to go to the steakhouse at the corner, about a 5 minute walk. They had reservations for 12 and only 3 people. We walked into the restaurant, and a woman runs up and says, "John, I just heard the story about the midget!" I guess that must have been the story of the day!
John was a self-avowed wine snob. He would often drink beer at the bar when we were at court reporting conventions. Why? Because the wines were sub-standard. I met John and Vicki at their favorite winery in Napa with some friends a few years ago. They have the best taste in wine and were wonderful hosts. Always let Vicki pick your wine.
John, try not to haunt Vicki too much and freak her out. Don’t move things in the house. Give her a ghostly hug every day. She will know it's you when she gets a hot flash.
I knew he was an amazing court reporter with high standards. I'll post the DRA link that talks about his career in the comments. I am proud to have known him.
Godspeed, John. Even though we didn’t see each other often, I am going to miss you so much.
I think those words were from Cheap and Sleazy contributor Mary Ann Payonk ... and unfortunately, I didn't notice there was some mention about something in the comments about John's obit in the DRA newsletter until just now,
almost a year a couple years after the fact.
Fortunately, Google was kind enough to provide a link to the appropriate newsletter, but I don't know how long that will be up, so here's a relevant screenshot:
DRA Newsletter John Squires Obit
Elsa Jorgenson found a really well-written article about that last trip, and you can read that one here.
... and I may or may not have
stolen borrowed that picture from the article.
We also appear to have lost famous mystery writer, Sue Grafton to cancer a few days back as I write this (31DEC17).
I first discovered Ms. Grafton shortly before I finished Radioman A school, probably while riding around San Diego on my trusty motorcycle, a Honda CB400F:
This was shortly after my mom, a *HUGE* reader in life, passed (also cancer ... and, interestingly enough, born in the same year). It took a few years before I stopped, but for a while there, every time I read or saw a book that I thought she would like, I would say to myself, "Oh, I have to buy another copy for mom!"
... which is exactly what happened when I saw Sue Grafton's "A is for Alibi."
I'm pretty sure she would have loved the series.
... and for the curious, I made it all the way up to "R is for Ricochet," but I decided to go back to "P is for Peril" because it had been a while between the books, so I thought it would be good to "refresh my recollection" of the events leading to that book.
Sadly, her "Alphabet Crime Series" now ends with "Y is for Yesterday."
For those of you who were wondering what "Z" was going to be for, you can find that answer here.
... and no, there will not be any movies or TV shows made based on her books, per her wishes.
Alas, one more passing to report: Art Bell is gone.
Art Bell Off the Air
For those of you who don't know/haven't had the pleasure of hearing Art Bell's show back in the day, he was a late-night radio talk show host, specializing in the paranormal ... which is why there's an article here on Cheap and Sleazy called "Different Dictation."
The first time I heard Art, I was driving from Indiana to California, where I was heading off to my new ship -- after attending one of the last MacWorlds, which were basically huge trade shows put on by Apple.
Anyway, I was driving along at night (less traffic) and the tape I was listening to died (Hey! It was the 90s! Shaddup!), so I started going through the radio stations, when I heard someone say the phrase "Area 51."
Turns out the voice belonged to a guy by the name of Bob Lazar who claimed to be a former employee there, and he was talking about how his job was to attempt to reverse engineer an engine from a crashed UFO.
... and then, an hour or so later, it was over.
I didn't know it at the time, but the show repeated right after, which is how I managed to find a replay maybe an hour later on another radio station (usually the first hour was when Art would either read any paranormal news or take calls from the audience -- though I didn't know that at the time, as I may have mentioned).
It was another five months before I found Art Bell again -- and that was thanks to a guy on the quarterdeck of my new ship (about which, the less said the better) who took a look at the books I had with me in my backpack at the time, and told me I should check out artbell.com. I did, seeing as how I had that fancy-shmancy new Apple PowerBook and a Ricochet modem, but I didn't know the website was for a radio show for another couple of
days weeks months, but when I finally put two and two together, I was hooked ... and I've pretty much been listening since about September of 1995 -- though I have (pretty much) stopped listening to Art's original show and followed him to his then-new network, Dark Matter, but his health declined, and his producer, Heather Wade, took over for him, and she took his death very hard, and just couldn't go on ... and after a few weeks, she was fired.
Heather Wade of The Kingdom of Nye
She's still, shall we say,
not happy somewhat less than pleased about things, including being fired, the inordinate amount of criticism from many in the paranormal radio field, and even outright harassment, including DOS ("Denial of Service") attacks that would actually knock her off the air at times, but she's living in Art's old studio and has been doing her own show from there for the past couple years, called "The Kingdom of Nye," keeping the same format Art used for years, a lot of the same music, many of the same guests ... and she even does her version of "Ghost to Ghost AM" every Halloween -- including one five hour marathon interview with a guy that goes by the name of Dark Waters.
Well, that wasn't exactly an interview. It was more like five hours in which the guest recalled story after story, each one more intense than the last. If you're curious, I have one of his stories here on Cheap and Sleazy, and you can find that one here. That one's about 25 minutes long ... and would make a great Lit during this time of year. Mu-hu-hu-ha-ha-ha!!
A couple months back, I sent Heather a message and shared that story about my MacBook Pro's battery.
She read what I sent her over the air, and then spent the next half hour talking about "apports," which is basically where stuff appears out of nowhere ... kind of like that battery of mine I mentioned earlier.
That was a good show. Hopefully I'll remember where I filed the longer version of that excerpt. After that first minute, she went on for another 44 minutes, during which she talked about apports the entire time, which included some odd happenings in her home studio. Between my two main Macs, hopefully it will turn up in the not-too-distant future.
Another Big Loss
There's No App For That!
I am tempted to
wax eloquent squawk incessantly share with you my past with Apple and Macs, but I have decided to spare you.
Suffice to say, it has been a good and long relationship, and I'll leave it at that.
Three More Gone
Paranormal investigator Brad Steiger is also gone.
Brad Steiger, who has written 143 books, of which 15 million are still in print, practically grew up with the paranormal. I remember him saying in one interview that one of his earliest memories was of himself as a five-year-old kid, waking up in the middle of the night and looking out of his bedroom window, which faced the living room window ... and seeing what he later recognized as a gnome, peering into that other window.
The gnome's head turned slowly towards young Brad, and their eyes met ... and that's the last thing he remembered about that night.
In another interview, the host was talking about a strange story in which a family was being terrorized by something -- the description of which I don't remember exactly -- and Brad says, "Oh, yeah, that's the Goblin King!"
No, not *THAT* Goblin King!
Let's just say that the host was surprised.
I think this was one of the first Brad Steiger books I ever saw:
Cover of "Sex and the Supernatural"
Pretty sure I didn't show that one to my mom.
Might be time to give this one a quick re-read, though:
Brad Steiger's "Gods of Aquarius"
Jim Marrs, another big voice from the paranormal side of things, author of several books, including "Crossfire," one of the books used for the JFK mini series a few years back is also gone.
Good-bye, Jim Marrs
He was a popular speaker, not to mention a popular guest on the paranormal talk show circuit. He is probably best known for his 1997 book, "Alien Agenda: Investigating the Extraterrestrial Presence Among Us," as well as one of the first books available on the government's remote viewing program, "Psi Spies" -- of which I have an autographed copy ... somewhere around here.
Another loss is that of writer Harlan Ellison, most famous for the "Star Trek" episode, "City on the Edge of Forever." He was also famous for a series of newspaper articles about TV, which were collected in the books "The Glass Teat" and "The Other Glass Teat."
I met him once, when I was in high school.
He had come up to Seattle for a science fiction convention (I don't recall what it was called) taking place at one of the local community colleges. During a break I found a room with a piano in it, so I sat down and played Scott Joplin's "Bethena" ... and eventually, I noticed I had an audience.
I kept playing, then I noticed that my audience was ... Harlan!
After a few minutes they were calling everybody back to the conference room, and somebody had come to get him. Before he left, he gave me a thumbs up ... and soon it was time for a little Q&A at the conference.
I had a question at one point, so I raised my hand. Harlan pointed at me, then said, "This young man plays some fine piano!"
I'd like to say that I still have those autographed books, but unfortunately, between the death of my mom and my heading off to Boot Camp, I had to leave my sister with my soon-to-be wife -- now known as my "Favorite Ex-Wife" -- to clear out my mom's apartment ... and unfortunately, they didn't know that some of the books and magazines I had were autographed.
Stephen King. Robert Heinlein. Kelly Freas. Michael Whelan. David Gerrold. I'm pretty sure there were more, but those are the ones that immediately come to mind.
Harlan Ellison Christmas F&SF cover
My favorite artist and one of my favorite writers, both represented in that one cover. Hard to beat that.
Big loss to the court reporting community: Alan Dyer:
Allan Dyer, of Seattle's OTEC
Allan was my -- er,*OUR* -- local steno repair ninja -- as well as that of many court reporters around the country.
I wrote this on his Facebook page as soon as I heard what happened:
I am sad to report that my friendly neighborhood steno repair ninja, Allan Dyer ... has passed on (heart attack).
Big loss to the community. Allan was the only tech I've heard of that knew how to repair "the stuttering Mira" problem a few years back, where you would hit the A key once, and it would repeat three or four times.
Stenograph called it "operator error," but Allan knew better, and has repaired many similarly afflicted Miras over the years.
He will be missed.
I lost an ex-girlfriend a few years back.
We had broken up a couple years prior, but her apartment suddenly developed black mold ... which the crack maintenance team told her was just plain mold, and that a couple sprays of whatever chemical he had in that bottle would do the trick.
Turns out, not so much.
I suggested that she check to see if there were any vacancies at the apartment complex I was in, and there was ... so she moved in, along with her daughter, her cat, and the daughter's boyfriend, and his dog.
After a year or so, she noticed a leak in the bathroom.
She called Maintenance, and they came out to "fix" the leak, to no avail, because they couldn't figure out where the leak was coming from.
I'm pretty sure if they had the blueprints they would have helped, but instead of asking the city for them, they went on an exploratory search for that pesky leak, at one point drilling into her kitchen floor (no luck) ... and then one morning, she woke up to find one of the maintenance guys busily tearing up the floor of the bathroom in her bedroom, still looking for that leak.
As you might guess, my ex-girlfriend was a bit upset that the guy had just let himself into her apartment like that and started drilling, and, in fact, she made him leave.
After giving the apartment manager an earful, she called the company that handled her renter's insurance and was able to move to a hotel until her apartment was back to normal, so she, her cat, her daughter, her daughter's boyfriend and his dog all moved to the hotel.
A couple days after the move to the hotel, we had that big snowstorm up here in the Pacific North Wet -- or as I like to call it, "The Snowpocalypse" -- and my ex-girlfriend complained to her daughter that she was not feeling well. Symptoms included pain and numbness on her left side.
As an aside, while I was showing her and the kids some of the sights here in the Pacific North Wet their first month here, we ended up at the arboretum, which is a rather large ... well, park, with ponds full of Koi, others with tadpoles, and lots of other wildlife ... which is where we saw our first -- and last, so far -- barn owl ... which was being chased by several angry crows.
The crows weren't doing so well, because that big ol' owl would lazily reach out with one foot or another and grab one at random, snap its neck, and drop it.
Being from Hawaii they had never seen an owl, and despite the snapped necks, they seemed to be enjoying the place ... but by that time, it was getting close to the time the park closed up, so it was time to go.
That's when she told me about her heart condition -- a mitral valve prolapse -- which basically meant no heavy physical exertion or anything like that -- including running for any prolonged period of time.
So. They're at the hotel, and my ex-girlfriend tells her daughter to call 911, as she wasn't feeling very well. She does ... and not just one ... not two, but *THREE* sets of EMTs came out, and after a while, they said it was "just stress," and left.
My ex-girlfriend insisted that was not the case, but they stuck to their story, and sure enough, she died that night. Her daughter discovered that she was gone when she saw her mom's cat sitting at the bottom of the stairs, practically crying.
I'm pretty sure those lazy mother -- um, "mofos" just wanted to avoid driving to the hospital in the snow.
There was talk of a lawsuit at one point or another, but I haven't heard from her kids in several months now.
I hope they take those clowns to court. I have no medical training, but even I know that "pain and numbness on the left side" is never a good thing, nor is it a symptom of "stress."
It's been almost
six months two years now, and I am still irritated!
One candle for those who are now gone:
A final (?) good-bye.
And Speaking of Gone ...
Those of you who read the tale of my last journey into the kitchen most likely have noticed that one of the main ingredients in that journey is now missing in action.
Yes that's right ... I'm talking about Tillamook's Espresso Mocha Ice Cream ... and yes, that is an archived page -- which, unfortunately, appears to be missing that all-important picture (grrrr!!!).
Tillamook Espresso Mocha Ice Cream
It was a dark day when I found out about this ... this ... egregious occurrence ... and the way I found out was a small sign on the shelf where that particular flavor of ice cream sat -- or would have sat, if there had been any in stock -- which read "Closeout Sale! Half Off!!!" ... so naturally, I contacted Tillamook Customer Relations to find out what the story was ... and here's what I was told:
Thanks for your email! Unfortunately, yes, we are discontinuing our Espresso Mocha Ice Cream. I'm sorry! It is always sad to discontinue a flavor, but it was not selling very well and our team wanted to make room for some new flavors. I'll be sure to let them know you would like to see it make a comeback though!
All the best,
Since Sierra was so nice, I decided to answer her e-mail:
Thank you for getting back to me.
I was lucky enough to find two quarts of Espresso Mocha ice cream that same day at another store -- and on sale -- so that's something. Unfortunately, I was not able to find it anywhere else, so I'm going to just have to make these last two last as long as I can (which will probably amount to about thirty days).
I think if you were to bring it back, say, next quarter for a limited run, you would see it sell out very quickly! You might also try offering it to coffee shops, like our local favorite, Tully's, or even that one coffee company trying to take over the world, Starbucks.
On a (slightly) less depressing note, I came up with a recipe using the Espresso Mocha flavor called "The Cheap and Sleazy Slow Mocha," and you can see it here:
It's "bachelor simple."
I've also come up with a variant for that recipe: buy some of that Talenti Caribbean Coconut gelato, eat half of it (over a period of several days, of course), refill it with the Espresso Mocha ice cream, and treat it like a Slow Mocha.
Sorry about the length ... and thanks for reading!
Sierra was nice enough to answer my lengthy missive:
Glad to hear you found a couple cartons! I'll definitely tell our team they should bring it back for the sake of the bachelor simple Slow Mocha. Your recipe was good, but I usually add chocolate syrup as well. But then again, I am known for my extremely complicated ice cream recipes, so that may be considered the advanced level. I don't use Talenti for loyalty reasons, but I may try your extended version with our Toasted Coconut Fudge Gelato just to see what the hype is all about. Thanks for the recipes!
All the best,
Hmm ... chocolate syrup, huh? And Toasted Coconut Fudge Gelato?
I think I know what I'm going to be testing next month ... purely in the interest of science, of course. The sacrifices I make for you ...
This Just In ...
I managed to find some of that toasted coconut fudge gelato a few weeks back:
Tillamook Toasted Coconut Fudge
... and each container has a special message, just for you:
Keep Me To Yourself (well, *DUH!!*)
No One Has To Know (*Shhhhh!*)
As for the taste, I can honestly say it's very, very good!
... and I may or may not have eaten a whole one at least once.
"No one has to know," remember?
But Wait ...! There's More!
Alas, the now-gone main ingredient to my Cheap and Sleazy Slow Mocha still needed to be replaced ... and fortunately, on the shelf right next to where the now-gone Espresso Mocha ice cream used to sit was something called "Espresso Madness:"
Espresso Mocha Ice Cream
With a name like that, you just *KNOW* it's going to be good, which is a good thing, because I bought two of these on the spot ... and even better, it tasted pretty good!
I don't recall off the top of my head where I read this tidbit, but apparently, Umpqua is a subsidiary of Tillamook!
I think we'll be in good hands with this one.
This just In ...
A few weeks back, my sister and I went down to Oregon to visit my -- er, *OUR* -- dad.
He was staying at a timeshare in an effort to get away from that Arizona heat ("When you get used to days with 110 degree heat, 80 degrees is no big deal," says my dad), so my sister and I went down to see him and his lady, Jo.
My Dad's Big Movie Debut (Google is your Friend if you missed that one)
At one point I found out that we were going to the Tillamook store in the area -- which was good, because I was hoping to meet one of the higher-ups there and give him or her a piece of my mind (hey! No Swiss cheese jokes!) about them no longer making Espresso Mocha ice cream, and maybe have a milkshake
or two .
Unfortunately, there were two things wrong with my plan.
Thing One was the fact that the admin folks were in another building somewhere over the hills and far away from where I was, so no giving anybody a piece of my mind!
As for Thing Two ... well. Let's just say that while there was a rather nice eating facility there, they didn't make milkshakes!
I know! I couldn't believe it either!
Not to worry, though ... I just got a cup from the gal selling burgers and etc., then stood in another line and got three scoops of ... well. I forget what, but whatever it was melted just fine, thank you very much ... so I was able to put that Slow Mocha recipe to use with a couple of big scoops of whatever it was in that cup, but in the absence of Espresso Mocha and Espresso Madness, I had to improvise, adapt, and overcome!
I think Clint Eastwood would have been proud!
Of course, it wasn't "Espresso Madness" great, but it got the job done on a rather warm Pacific North Wet afternoon.
How's about some "Hand Therapy Putty"...?
Hand Therapy Putty
In one of the Facebook groups I'm in, Dawn Roscioli, the (now former) group admin of a group for court reporting students that are engaged in self-study of court reporting called ICRS mentioned this in her group sometime back. I don't remember very much about what she wrote in that post back then, but I do remember that she said to avoid the ones that are "soft." Note that these are color-coded:
Tan = X-soft
Yellow = soft
Red = medium-soft
Green = medium
Light blue = firm
Purple = X-firm
Blue = 2X-firm
Gray = ultimate
Unfortunately, I don't know exactly what the colors mean, but I was told that I should not go past the medium one (green), so that's what I have.
As for how to use these, here's a good set of instructions for you.
I keep mine in the fridge, because it tends to get soft when it's warm ... so leaving it out on a hot summer day might not be the best idea.
Neither is falling asleep while playing -- er, exercising with it ... especially if you have, oh, I don't know ... say, an Afro.
Not that I know that from experience, of course ... but there may or may not have been a close call or two.
Or three. But let's not quibble about stuff like that. (*ahem!*)
In this week's episode of "Stan is Making Everybody Look Like a Bunch Of Slackers" ...
We have Aloft:
The "TL;DR" -- or "Too Long, Didn't Read" (or "summary," for those of us of the Baby Boomers age group that don't be knowin' all those newfangled expressions) for the article reads as follows:
"I was captioning a web development course when I realized how unsatisfied I was with every commercial realtime system currently available. I consulted the instructors and used what I had learned to build a custom solution designed to overcome all the things I hate about what's already out there and called it Aloft because it maintains the avian theme of the Open Steno Project."
Here's a list of the features:
Fast AF™ text delivery that is as close to realtime as possible given your connection speed.
OS agnostic! Runs on Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, Linux, anything you can run a modern internet browser on.
User login which allows captioner to create new events as well as visualize all past events by author and event title.
Captioner can delete, modify, reopen previous sessions, and view raw text with a click of a link or button.
Option to make a session collaborative or not if you want to let your viewers directly edit your transcription.
Ability for the viewer to easily change font face, font size, invert colors, increase line spacing, save the transcription as .txt, and hide menu options.
Easy toggle button to let viewers turn on/off autoscrolling so they can review past text but be quickly able to snap down to what is currently being written.
Ability to run Aloft both over the internet or as a local instance during cases in which a reliable internet connection is not available (daemonize using pm2 and access via your machine's IP addy).
Um ... I'm fairly sure I don't have to tell you what the "AF" stands for up there, right?
... and you can find the (archived) Github page for Aloft here:
... and you can see Aloft! in action in this video.
... but "Aloft" has kind of been retired ...
Alas, it appears that "Aloft" is no more, having been replaced by "Upwardly," which is kind of on that page ... somewhere.
Fortunately, they say a video is worth a thousand words, so here you go.
But WAIT! There's More!
Not one to rest on his laurels, Stan (see what I did there?), who is a linguist by the way, somehow managed to whip up a Spanish dictionary ... and you can read about that one here, and in this thread is a link where you can download Stan's dictionary ... but unfortunately, there is no .rtf version, and one of the Plover developers explains why that is the case.
For the click-shy, Spanish has a lot of accent marks and etc., which just can't be stored in an .rtf dictionary.
Sorry, regular CAT folks!
... but did I mention that Plover is free?
Oh, and here's a picture of Stan's writing in Spanish via Plover. Note the presence of the "Suggestions" and "Notes" windows in the screenshot:
Stan Stenos in Spanish! Ole'!
Stan on Computer-aided Captions
Chances are good you've heard about a Google Voice demo, where a computer was providing translations of what was being said by the "talking head" on the screen.
Trouble is, while Google said their device was one hundred percent accurate, working captioners and CART providers say it was considerably less than that ... which, naturally enough, got a few folks arguing about the matter.
Stan weighed in with with his thoughts on the matter.
Plover ... with a Chinese steno machine?!?
Sure, why not?
Chinese Steno Machine
... and you can read about that one here.
A few years back, I ran across this one:
Italian Ergonomic Steno Machine Top View
Like that? I'm sure you do!
Unfortunately, the original page is in Italian, but if you've been reading Cheap and Sleazy for a while, you know what to do when that happens ... yes, that's right ... you use Google Translate ... and after doing a Google image search for one of the pictures I downloaded from that translated page, I found this description:
EVA is a smart and ergonomic keyboard for stenotyping result of a research project, commissioned by a company providing transcription services by stenotyping, the Soc. Coop. OFT Phonic Operators and Transcribers at the DICDEA Department.
Compared to traditional keyboards for stenotipia has the following advantages: The keyboard EVA is the forefather of a new generation of keyboards "touch" for stenotipia with an innovative and ergonomic design that uses the latest electronic and computer technology that, unlike the old mechanical keyboards, are a guarantee of greater reliability (control and correction) that make it easily usable in today's multimedia world.
Compared to traditional keyboards for traditional stenotypes, EVA has been studied according to ergonomics principles and with a human-centered approach that improves the work conditions of the operators, greatly reducing the risk of contracting certain postural pathologies such as carpal tunnel syndrome, De Quervain's syndrome, extensor tendinitis and epicondylitis currently very common in the stenotypist operators.
Particular attention has been paid to the world of people with disabilities. The keyboard accompanied by appropriate company software allows you to work from home for people who have mobility difficulties or who, being engaged with family members who need assistance, need to work from home and at different times than standard.
Moreover, the keyboard can be easily used by blind people or it can be a valid aid to the deaf who can more widely use transcripts in real time of various activities that require listening, such as university lessons or participation in meetings of different kinds.
Lightness, transportability and strength are revolutionary in the world of stenotyping, making the work less tiring and suitable to be carried out easily even outside of one's office.
EVA for ease of use and reduced costs makes a profession more accessible, offering a wide range of employment opportunities. The profession of the "stenotypist" is a profession that, although it has its roots in the almost millenarian tradition of shorthand, is not obsolete and is still very popular in various sectors of activity ranging from the reporting of administrative meetings, to legislative ones or legal, up to the world of entertainment (subtitling films and television broadcasts); verbalization activity for large companies or public bodies, judicial verbalization in criminal courts; subtitling of video broadcasts even live or in films; transcription of acts (telephone interceptions, interrogations, hearings, etc.).
To facilitate entry into the world of work, online training courses are provided for learning the stenotypical method."
EVA Operator's View
NCRA Issues ...?
(*Cue "The Twilight Zone" introduction sequence*)
Rod Serling, Host of "The Twilight Zone"
Imagine, if you will ... a national organization, with thousands of members across the country.
The members of this organization are counting on the folks running it to do what the members want, and, for the most part, the leaders were doing just that.
And then one day, something ... odd happened.
The organization, without discussing it with the members, sold the building they had bought some time ago, for a cool $5 million ... and now they have to rent space somewhere else.
"Wait a minute," said a few of the members. "Isn't it better to own the place where you live/work than rent from somebody else?"
Alas, there was no answer to that question from the management.
... and did I mention the whole "without discussing it with the membership" business?
No, check that ... apparently there was a meeting among the folks running the organization, and the minutes say there was discussion ... but none of that discussion was made available to the membership.
Isn't that ... odd?
I mean, the organization is full of court reporters. One would think that one of them should have been able to take some notes during that meeting, right?
... in the form of a peculiar practice called "contracting."
Have you ever heard of that? Probably not -- but there is an article here on Cheap and Sleazy that talks about it -- so reading that first might be a good idea.
You can find another more detailed explanation on Christopher Day's blog.
A couple of quick outtakes from the above:
To understand anticontracting, let's understand a few basic things about how money flows into reporting from the deposition/freelance side of things. Typically, people have lawsuits, those lawsuits start with a complaint, and if the lawsuit doesn't die on a motion to dismiss, then the lawsuit continues to discovery. At discovery stage, documents are exchanged, and depositions are held. At those depositions, typically an attorney is questioning a witness, and having the answers recorded/reported/taken down by a court reporter/stenographer/fabulous individual. That's where we come in, and typically how we get paid, via lawyer.
But there is a crucial piece missing. In many lawsuits, on one or both sides, behind the scenes, is an insurer. The insurer (insurance company) is a massive funder of litigation. In many cases, the lawyers are making some or all of their money from the insurer, so they are at least arguably a little beholden to them.
What has happened in many jurisdictions and states is that the insurer makes a deal with a court reporting company to have its lawyers use only that court reporting company. On the side of the stenographer, this really messes with our whole setup, because our entire self-employment model and being able to negotiate for higher rates is dependent on not handing over large swathes of business on the top end to one company. The firm that has all the work can force the stenographer to work for less pay than they might otherwise get if that work was spread out over multiple agencies or companies. So simply put, the idea that this shouldn't be is anticontracting.
All done? Good! And thanks, Chris!
My take on the matter:
What happens with contracting is just like Christopher said in his blog: A Big Court Reporting Agency will move into a state, rent a large office somewhere, talk to all the insurance companies in the largest cities, and get those insurance companies to use "their" court reporters instead of the "local" court reporters.
They charge the local insurance companies *BIG BUCKS* to use their court reporters' services, even though many of those reporters are local -- but more often than not, those court reporters are new, and don't know that working for that company is not a good idea (which is why it's a good idea to find a mentor when you're in your high speeds ... and why it helps to get a reference check on any firm you're thinking about working for before you start).
Well. At least, not at first. Sooner or later, they also come to a "sad realization" ... and that "sad realization" could come from, say, somebody that receives an e-mail by mistake that lays out who gets paid what, and notices that the money that's supposed to be paid to the court reporter is way, *WAY* more than the court reporter actually receives!
... and yes, that actually happened!
Hopefully, that will be enough to keep a few newly-minted court reporters from working for one of these "agencies" ... but there's also this issue to deal with:
"But what about the state court reporting associations? Can't they do something to stop this practice?"
Ooh, good question!
My state (Washington) tried to get rid of contracting a few years back, by getting a law passed to basically outlaw the practice.
I don't know how, but somehow, that effort failed. On the other hand, the effort garnered enough attention such that of the three big agencies that moved into town, two left entirely, while the other reduced the size of their office spaces considerably.
"Why did they leave," you ask?
Because the local reporters were aware of them, and would not take any work from them.
In other words, they were being starved out of existence ... and that's a Good Thing(tm).
The NCRA Weighs In
Back in 1995, in response to a lot of complaints from the membership, the NCRA came up with a "Contracting Disclosure Policy," followed by the 1997 "Policy in Support of Enactment of Anti-contracting Laws or Regulations," which would make one believe that the NCRA is against contracting ... which is why when the membership of Virginia's court reporters association asked the NCRA to support them in their bid to add legislation to get rid of contracting in Virginia, they were troubled when the NCRA said, and I quote, "NCRA would not, would not be present in any way in Virginia," that NCRA represented "all reporters including those that work for the contracting companies."
"Would you, Could you ..."
Even the local attorneys were supporting their efforts:
Virginia Lawyers Weekly Supports Anticontracting Legislation in Virginia
Amazingly, the Virginia Court Reporters Association's proposal won in both the House and the Senate, without any assistance from the NCRA:
... and ordinarily, this would be where the story ends.
Enter past NCRA president Laurel Eiler.
Seems Laurel's comments in one of the petitions that were going around at the time were -- and are -- pretty pertinent, so here we go:
My first board meeting as a director in 1996 was punctuated by a motion acting on the overwhelming desire of NCRA's membership to address the ethical ramifications contracting with parties at interest had brought into our profession.
During my entire time on the board, every time I had the pleasure of interacting with members, the issue of contracting was one of the biggest and most important problems facing freelance reporters, and one they desperately wanted NCRA to be a leader in combating.
Government relations support of legislative efforts to curtail contracts with parties at interest has always been a number-one priority for our members, and I do not believe that's changed.
Having been on a social media vacation for almost a year for personal reasons, learning of this shift in NCRA's official position on contracting to one of neutrality almost two years after it was taken was a shock, to say the least.
Even with my less active role in association matters, I find it almost impossible for me to have missed such an important change in direction, and one taken without, as near as I can tell, any justification to or input from membership.
NCRA is still an individual membership organization.
As such, it is designed to serve the individual members and their needs, using precious resources to address the issues of greatest concern to them -- not the firm owners, not the vendors, not the national corporate entities involved in our industry.
We do not have a history of "running from a fight," and when we stand our ground on issues that our membership needs us to, we have been successful.
NCRA's board, with excellent counsel from Jeff Altman, navigated the waters of the Engate situation during my presidency and beyond in an issue where outside interests were threatening any reporter or firm that failed to acquiesce to their claimed ownership of realtime technology and demand of payment for the right to utilize it.
I am proud of that strong and unified position, which ultimately resulted in victory for NCRA's members and protected our use of realtime for the future.
As a past president of NCRA, I've tried to step back and let our elected board and officers do their job unimpeded by "back when I was on the board" micromanagement.
However, despite a deep respect for my colleagues currently serving and the process as a whole, I feel compelled to step in and ask the board to reconsider this decision.
Remember the COPE obligation your membership is charged with in our daily activities -- to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
Changing a core objective of the association in the fashion that it appears to have been handled I would respectfully suggest fails that standard, regardless of your intent or motivations.
So again, I would urge you, my esteemed colleagues, to reverse this policy decision.
Laurel Eiler, RDR-FAPR,
NCRA Past President
Another Letter to the NCRA Leadership, which happened before the Virginia issue arose:
NCRA Board of Directors,
Following up on the March 9, 2018 NCRA Board meeting and the March 11, 2018 meeting between Marcia Ferranto and numerous state/past leaders, we submit the following questions and requests:
1. What is the status of both the 1995 Contracting Disclosure Policy and the 1997 Policy in Support of Enactment of Anti-contracting Laws or Regulations?
2. What is the number of the motion that resulted in the statement President Chris Willette read aloud at the March 9, 2018 NCRA Board meeting:
"a. After hearing from a professional cross section of our membership, including firm owners, freelancers, state association leaders, attorneys, and leaders from larger multi-service companies, the Board announced NCRA's official position on the topic:
I. NCRA's government relations department will continue to support and assist our affiliated state associations and members in accomplishing their industry-related legislative objectives.
II. NCRA will continue to offer resources and information to affiliated state associations and members regarding contracting legislation.
III. NCRA will refrain from providing public testimony."
3. Provide to the signers of this letter all motions that have been made and passed concerning changing, modifying, rescinding, or superseding the language of either the Contracting Disclosure Policy of 1995 (Motion 95-07-08) or the Policy in Support of Enactment of Anti-Contracting Laws or Regulations of 1997 (Motion 97-11-08).
4. Why haven't the state associations received a follow up pertaining to their specific issues addressed during the March 11, 2018 meeting with Marcia Ferranto (i.e. Virginia Court Reporters Association's legislative success, Ohio Court Reporters Association A to Z Task Force conflict of interest, etc.)
5. Where is the new NCRA long-range strategic plan that has been touted as the saving grace to NCRA and our profession?
The signers of this letter and members of NCRA intend to file a motion to rescind on the, or any, motion changing, modifying, rescinding, or superseding either the 1995 Contracting Disclosure Policy (Motion 95-07-08) or the 1997 Policy in Support of Enactment of Anti-contracting Laws or Regulations (Motion 97-11-08) to be heard at the NCRA National Convention in New Orleans in August of 2018. The NCRA Executive Director at the March 11 meeting indicated we would receive an update to these above matters within a matter of weeks. Members cannot fulfill their obligations under NCRA's Constitution & Bylaws without the information requested.
Laurel Eiler, FAPR, RDR, NCRA Member, NCRA Past President, and Task Force on Contracting Member
Bruce Matthews, FAPR, RDR, CRR (Ret.), NCRA Member, NCRA Past President, and Task Force on Contracting Member
Lisa Migliore Black, NCRA Member and Task Force on Contracting Member
Sarah Nageotte, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, NCRA Member and NCRA Past President
But Wait ...! What's *THIS?!?*
On the same note -- more or less -- I recently discovered a rather interesting website that is, shall we say, somewhat less than pleased with the NCRA of late.
When you have a few
minutes hours, go here --
-- and go back to about March of 2017, and start reading.
You'll get quite the education, I'm sure.
Thank you, Frank N. Sense.
So ... this happened:
The NCRA Has Some New Corporate Partners
A few hours later saw the release of this one:
A Bit More About Those New Business Partners
As an instructive exercise, Google the court reporting agencies in that list -- in quotes, of course -- and follow that with "contracting" and see what comes up.
You should find lots on the first two, but nothing on the third.
As for the question of who paid what, I saw somewhere that Stenograph paid $100,000, and everybody else paid $10,000.
Chances are what you see will help you to understand why it is that Frank N. Sense and friends are so ... less than pleased with the NCRA right now, and why some of the bigger state court reporting associations are considering joining together to form something new, where the voices of their members actually mean something.
Potential New Name for the NCRA
Cheap and Sleazy vs. Spammers
A few weeks back, one of my readers -- who shall remain nameless out of respect for her privacy -- cc'd me on an e-mail she had received, that was apparently meant for me.
Naturally, she was curious as to what was going on ... and I'm sure you'll understand why she was confused when you read the following e-mail:
This is Roy Br**e working as a webmaster of "***g***n**tea.com." I got your site "http://www.cheapandsleazy.net" while doing some stuff, through the internet. I am glad after knowing that you post content on your page.
Wait a minute. "While doing some stuff, through the internet " ...? Really?
Le Sigh ...
... and don't get me started on the rest of that sentence! And let's not mention the rest of the message ...
Hence I would like to request you to post an article for me. I think it would be more benefits to your visitors. So kindly let me know your views on the same. After that I will send you the article.
Awaiting your Response.
Have a nice Day,
Regards, R. Bruce
As you might guess, my friend was a bit confused as to why she was receiving this e-mail that was clearly meant for me ...!
Naturally, I told her I would "take care of it," and here's how that went:
I am very picky about what goes on Cheap and Sleazy. Does the article that you want me to post have anything to do with court reporting, CART or captioning?
As you might guess, I never heard back from him, nor do I expect to ... but wait! There's more!
I received another e-mail from the same woman that sent me the above e-mail:
Glen, I received this --- (huh?). Do you know about this?
... and then she pasted this one in:
Re: Expand Your Business cheapandsleazy.net
Date: Sun, 5 Mar 2017 21:46:11 -0500
From: Kr*uzig*r J
(Um ... seriously?)
As we all know, a website is the first impression that a customer perceives about an organization.
Well we offer tailor made services to counteract all your web problems! We have been successful in increasing the website visibility of our clients in major search engine.
Below are the factors we keep in mind while promoting your website:
-- Keeping your website error free allows search engine crawlers to index your website right away.
-- A well searched and analyzed keyword palette for maximum optimization.
-- Regular updates on various social media networks for brand promotion.
-- Excellent content places direct impression on the users for better information.
Apart from the above mentioned activities, we offer many other additional improvements for your website. There's been a lot to discuss and work out for better results on your site!
Please feel free to reply me back for more information on our services and pricing.
Thanks & Regards
Digital Marketing Analyst
Ps: You may ask us to "Remove" to stop further correspondence.
So naturally, I just *HAD* to respond:
I am the webmaster for cheapandsleazy.net.
I recently received a message from one of my Facebook friends from you apparently meant for me which read as follows:
(quoted message *snipped*)
Just so you know, I don't need your assistance at all. Also, I don't think it's a good business move to send an e-mail meant for one business to another, because the message I, as a potential customer would take from that would be, "Wow, this company doesn't know how to address an e-mail. Why would I want to do business with such a company?"
Please stop sending e-mails to my friends and business associates.
As you might guess, I never heard back from Joseph, but I did notice something in the e-mail account I sent that e-mail from. Yes, that's right ... a marked increase in spam! Take a look:
The Never Ending Battle With Spammers
Not to worry ... I can spot a spam e-mail a mile away, which is why all of those are checked, and were deleted right after I grabbed that screenshot.
"You Down With GCP?" "Yeah, You Know Me!"
... but for those of you who have no idea what "GCP" is, that stands for the "Global Consciousness Project" ... which is one of those things I found during one of my Different Dictation moments a few years back.
Alas, it's difficult to explain exactly what the GCP is, but essentially, it appears to measure the world's consciousness field, and assigns that field a color.
A few hours before the events of 9/11, that dot turned a deep red, as if many of us knew something was going to happen, and it wouldn't be a good thing.
That said, I had an idea to track how things were going with that field during an RPR exam a few years back so I made this page.
Unfortunately, that was about the time the NCRA switched to the new online testing, so that was a dead end ... but for the click-shy among you, this is what the dot looks like right now:
... and if you want to know what the colors mean, you're going to have to click that last link up there! :o)
That said, on the Mac -- at least, up to Mac OS 10.13.6 -- is a sort of web browser called "Dashboard."
Mine includes a dictionary, a couple of different stock market trackers, a calculator, a package tracker, a sort of clone of NotePad called Notefile and, at one point, a GCP dot widget.
Here's what mine looks like:
At the time I grabbed that screenshot, I wasn't expecting any packages, so that's why Delivery Status is not visible.
That, of course, was before I ordered that aforementioned battery for my ailing MacBook Pro, and you can see that particular widget in action below:
June Cloud's Delivery Status
Alas, that GCP widget stopped working a few years back -- and you can see it right there in the Dashboard picture at the top left (the little white ball) -- and so far, I have been unable to find a replacement.
That is, until I started messing around with Apple's Safari web browser.
Seems that Safari has a feature where you can save a piece of a web page ... as a Dashboard widget ...!
You can see the result beneath that aforementioned dead GCP widget ... and yes, I do mean that big green ball.
I actually wanted it to be smaller, like the one I had originally -- and yes, again, I'm talking about that small gray ball -- but I couldn't get Safari to do that for me when I changed the size of the page.
Hmm ... maybe I should put that ball at the bottom of the index page from now on ...!
I also used to have a widget that would keep track of the TV shows I like to watch, called "TV Forecast."
Alas, that one stopped working years ago. Seems that the website it was getting its data from died (yes, I know there's something at the link, but it's old data), and the developers moved to another source, but left all of the folks using the Dashboard widget behind in favor of the customers of the App Store. Unfortunately for me, my first-year iPod Touch won't run that particular app, but that's another whine for another time ... but you can see what it looked like when it was working here:
The TV Forecast Widget
Alas, as I said before ...
"It's Dead, Jim!"
Too bad ... because that widget would certainly come in handy when it comes to managing my TV watching habits (did I mention I don't have cable?), which I feed through the use of a few add-ons to my web browsers, a few websites, and a multiplatform program called VLC, which allows me to watch almost any video on my 2008 iMac (24 inch screen, vice my MacBook Pro's 15 inch screen) in full-screen mode ... all thanks to my Internet connection!
... and you can read about how I do that in this article.
This one looks promising:
The Stenokey Keyboard
... and you can read about that one here.
Wrong Place, Wrong Time
A few months back, I saw a post in one of the student-focused groups on Facebook from a new CRAH student, who had just paid for and received her equipment and course materials.
She wanted to know about the money situation for new court reporters ... and, for some odd reason, she ended up asking that question in another group, which, had I seen her original post, I would have advised her not to ask that question in.
Alas, that wasn't the case, so she went into that group and asked her question ... and was promptly savaged.
... and by that, I mean instead of either answering her question, asking to talk about it via Facebook messenger, or simply scrolling past the question, many of those "professional" court reporters took it upon themselves to insult her for asking the question.
By the time I saw what was going on (I don't go into that group very often), she had left the group, put her equipment up for sale, and gave up completely.
I did, however, see Stan Sakai's response to the members of that group ... and it was a doozie, as you will soon see.
When I saw a Facebook notification about Stan's post, I immediately went to the group and read it and a few of the responses, and shortly after that I sent the young woman a message through Facebook:
I just had a notification appear on my screen from someone you've probably heard of before, so I clicked the notification message to see what was going on ... and since you're probably not going to be able to see it yourself, I copied and pasted it here for you to see -- because I think you need to see that not everybody in this field acts like they're still in high school, or are part of the of cast of "Mean Girls."
Don't you give up on a potentially lucrative career because of those folks that have no social filters ... but in the meantime, grab yourself a snack and a beverage before reading that post, because it's a bit lengthy.
And here we go, in three ...
Here's a vent for y'all:
While I agree it is important to represent our profession accurately, the good and bad to a prospective reporter, the amount of sass and backhanded hostility some of you decided to employ in your responses disappoints me and is sad, quite frankly.
Patronizing her, questioning her ability to make her own professional decision because she hasn't "gotten through school first and passed speed tests" is uncalled for. She didn't ask whether school is hard; she wanted to make a decision based on a few of our responses. You're not answering the question, nor are you being at all helpful.
While it may be a touchy subject to some to be asked of their income, there is the option of private messaging her to discuss things less publicly -- not to mention, she wasn't ordering YOU specifically (those who think it's too personal and brazen of a question) to answer, so if you don't have something helpful to say, then please keep it to yourself. There is absolutely no reason to be a brat to someone when she said nothing too actually mean-spirited to offend anyone.
I've said this before and I'll say it again: WE are going to kill ourselves off far before any technology will. I get that it's a hard job, I get there's a lot of shit that comes with it, bills to pay, whatnot and echoing others, it is something you have to truly want because of the effort required to master this skill. These are also all important for any reporter prospective to see and hear. But I think a lot of you assumed that because she was asking for salaries only, that her intention was to find something that's high pay + low effort. You all became convinced that she was trying to reduce what we've shed blood, sweat, and tears to acquire into a numbers game, and instantly got offended.
Well, you don't know that and now that I see that she'd already gone and bought materials, it suggests to me she had done her research and now just wanted to get an idea of pay range.
Who knows, maybe I could be wrong. Maybe she wasn't the right fit for steno. But really, this guarded turf-war mentality has got to stop. Especially the younger generation, we value transparency and honesty and this is one surefire way to alienate us and advance the future of reporting in the wrong direction. I am just so sick of tired, crotchety reporters giving students and newer people the go-around, withholding information, being overly pedantic, and getting offended by everything FOR NO REASON using their experience and the student's lack of it as justification for their "tough love."
If you think a question as innocuous as being asked how much you make is offensive, it signals to me you're not ready to give any newcomer, student or otherwise your advice and you should probably just keep quiet and kindly resume scrolling past.
I appreciate all those who responded truthfully and honestly to this person but the cantankerous ones -- you know who you are -- can go take a look in the mirror and ask yourselves if you really think you're the best representatives for our profession by leaving comments like the pile of unsolicited sass you all did above. Honestly, it makes you look jealous and petty and it's not a cute look. And while this XXXX person could've decided not to join us for any number of reasons, being a salty bitch in response to her honest question probably sure as hell didn't help.
She said, "Wow, I'm speechless ... I got off the group and didn't see the rest of the responses. When I got two snarky ones I unfollowed. Glad I did. Sounds like major negativity over there. Thank you for your support."
I then told her that Stan's post received a few reactions:
When I sent that one, she said, "I'm sorry I ever posted my question! Seems I started a war!"
I told her that she wasn't responsible. She had asked a question about money, and some folks didn't answer the question asked, or got offended somehow.
She later told me she was getting messages to take down her post because it created a lot of infighting, but having left the group she couldn't remove the post, and "at this point, I don't want to be near that toxicity."
I can't say I blame her for that.
"We Have Achieved ...."
As for how that happened, I ordered one of these on eBay:
As you can probably guess from the caption, what you're looking at there is a serial-Bluetooth adapter ... and naturally, I decided to buy one -- purely in the interest of science, of course -- to see if I could get it to talk to my ProCAT Flash through my Mac's Bluetooth antenna and, of course, Plover.
Naturally, I was a bit on the anxious side waiting for it to arrive, tracking the package via Junecloud's Deliveries Dashboard widget ... including that one day when Deliveries said it was going to be delivered that day, but the mailman had already come and gone, which leads us to today!
My iMac helpfully sounded a chime when the package was delivered, and I then walked the
FIFTEEN MILES half a block or so to the mailbox, tossed the usual weekly batch of spam into the recycle bin, and headed back to my apartment and opened my prize.
... and then I was faced with this:
Bluetoothiness Included Instructions
Yes, you're right ... the instructions are in Chinese (where's Jade King when you need her?!?)!
I went to eBay and grabbed a screenshot of one of the images of the device and went to Google's Image Search page, uploaded the screenshot for it to search for, which then gave me a page that had a link to the instruction manual ... in English this time.
I didn't really need to read all of the instructions; I just needed to know what the lights were for, and, of course, how to turn it on.
Armed with that knowledge, I connected my Flash's realtime cable to the Bluetooth gadget, moved the switch over to "Battery," clicked the Configure button in Plover, and selected the one Bluetooth item I saw in the (hard to read) list, and tested it.
... and nothing happened.
I checked my Bluetooth menu, and didn't see the device listed at all ... so after a quick trip to the Bluetooth Preferences pane, I got my iMac to realize my new toy was there, hit the Refresh button on the Plover window, and ... EUREKA! I was live via Bluetooth! Mu-hu-hu-ha-ha-ha!!
(Not quite) me, in Mad Scientist mode!
I'm not sure how long the battery's going to last on this one, so I'm going to use it until it dies, then charge it ... and use my
Keyspan Tripp Lite adapter while I wait.
... and did I mention that whole "Mu-hu-hu-ha-ha-ha!!" thing?!?
I left it running overnight, and woke to find that the battery had died (which is what I wanted to happen). A quick look at the instructions told me which position the switch had to be in when I connected the power adapter to it to properly put it into charging mode, and I set it as described (as in "I moved the switch over to the battery icon") and left it to charge.
When it was finished charging, I attempted once again to connect my writer through it ... but the saved (and re-named, to "Glenz_Bluetooth_Gadget") would not connect to Plover.
I then checked to see if I could find the device in my laptop's Bluetooth window, and there it was -- only it was there twice, and was identified by two different numbers, which I thought was one for yesterday, and the other for today.
I switched back to my iMac, deleted the named setting, and soon saw another setting appear. Selected that, and was back to Bluetooth nirvana.
My Bluetooth Menu
... but only for a moment, as I was just testing to see if it would work again, and now I know what to do to get it working next time.
To be sure, what I have jiggered together isn't exactly a completely wireless connection, because I had to connect my writer's realtime cable and adapter to the Bluetooth gadget, instead of connecting something to the writer that would pair with that new Bluetoothiness gadget, with no wires in sight ... so now I am on the hunt for an RJ45-Bluetooth connector!
Wish me luck!
Birds on the Wireless
Those of you who have been reading Cheap and Sleazy for a while probably remember that I used to have a roommate:
I'm (fairly) sure I mentioned that we now live in different parts of the state, so we don't see each other very much, but the last time I saw her, this happened:
Kid of the Roomie
Yes, that's right ... she had a baby.
Before I continue, there are three things that you should know about that picture.
One, I took the picture!
Two, yes, she's smiling at *ME* ...!
And three, no, SHE DOES NOT HAVE GAS ...!!!
Okay, now that we've got that out of the way, I wanted to share something my Roomie shared on Facebook a few months back:
My Roomie's Kid Has a Big Heart
I haven't seen my roomie or her new kid on the
block planet since I took that picture of her, but I can't help but say how proud I am of what she did for that homeless man traveler.
Roomie, you done good!
Dump Truck Full of Likes For My Roomie's Awesome Daughter, Airabella
The Big Move
So I moved a couple weeks ago as I write this.
Well. More correctly, I was moved. Seems that my old apartment complex was going to be torn down and rebuilt, so everybody had to go!!
Unfortunately there was a bit of a snag with my looking for another apartment, in that I lost my license a few years back (illegal U-turn on an empty street, which made it difficult at best to look for another apartment).
I thought for sure that the VA would be open by that time so I could ask them for some help with that situation, but turns out, not so much ... so my apartment manager found me a new place, grabbed a few volunteers, and put them to work in getting me moved.
On the plus side, it's actually a pretty good apartment! Two bedrooms, a dishwasher, and even a washer and dryer! No more buying rolls of quarters and walking *FIFTEEN MILES* to the apartment complex's one laundromat, only to find that its closed, or all of the machines are either broken or in use!
I think the only potential "issue" might be the fact that there's a teriyaki restaurant just a couple blocks away! Mu-hu-hu-ha-ha-ha!!
Um ... excuse me.
There's also one of those big Walmarts within walking distance, but getting to the store I usually shop at is a bit difficult, but I'll figure it out -- though it would help if I had both of my Trader Joe's bags with me,
as I appear to have somehow managed to arrive here with just one of the pair.
Picture one of these in blue:
Not my bag, but close!
Good news! I found my second bag!
I was looking for the transmitter for my wireless speakers -- not to mention the working pair of those speakers -- in one of the boxes I had not got to yet ... in which I also found my "special vessel" --
The Special Vessel
-- which I use for making my version of McDonalds Sweet Iced Tea, along with a bag of ribbon cartridges somebody sent me a few years back, that had been sitting in my freezer wrapped in a plastic bag for about six years now.
Needless to say, something happened to those ribbon cartridges, because they appear to have leaked into my ice bucket, which was also in that box (apparently the ice on the ribbon cartridges melted, and took some of the ink out of the cartridges).
As for the "Special Vessel," despite my soaking it in hot, soapy water for a few
hours days, it now has a stain in the neck area that I can't reach, which has resisted all of my attempts to remove!
I thought it might be worth a try to use some baking soda and vinegar, but (you guessed it ...) I can't find the vinegar!
I wrote up my moving experience on Facebook, but for those of you who somehow managed to miss that thrilling narrative, here's how that went:
The Big Move
Moved to a new apartment a few days ago -- or more correctly, I was moved to a new apartment. Nice place! Two bedrooms, and a washer and drier! No more lugging the laundry to the property laundromat that closes at 9:00 PM, no more digging for quarters ... mu-hu-hu-ha-ha-ha!
Um ... excuse me.
Anyway, as I said, I was moved. Had a bunch of guys show up with a truck and a bunch of boxes, they threw everything into the boxes, then into the truck, and off we went.
They then dragged everything into the new place, plopped all the boxes down in the living room, and left me to it.
... everything, that is, except for the contents of my freezer and fridge. Good thing there's a teriyaki joint about a block away!
Fun fact: It is really difficult to operate an iMac with no mouse or trackpad. After a while, I found a mouse, then a small Bluetooth keyboard, but still no sign of the trackpad ... so I bought another one from eBay, which arrived a couple days ago.
Talk about night and day!
As you might guess, before the move, I placed my main laptop (the 2009 17 inch MacBook Pro I bought for my birthday a few years back) into one of those Kensington Saddlebags and carried it myself during the drive to the new place.
At one point during the packing spree, a gal (one of the movers) chided me on the amount of tea I had (I like iced tea better than soda), and said something about a box of tea on top of one of the kitchen cabinets I had forgotten about at the time (I keep the ones I'm going to use soon in a small tin in a cabinet, which I refill as necessary).
I later discovered that she had taken that box of tea and dumped the contents into my crock pot ... and when I saw them, I remembered what she was talking about.
Crockpot full of Teabags
Every four months or so, I order 100 bags of Stash Acai Berry Tea from Amazon (can't find it in the local stores anymore), which, naturally, ships in a box, loose. I grab enough to fill one of the old Tazo tea sachet tins (remember those?) --
Sure miss those ...
-- and place that into a cabinet for use as needed, leaving the box on top of the cabinet.
Oh wait a minute. I just remembered that I have one more tin of that tea! I have been saving it for a special occasion. Pretty sure moving into a new apartment should count, huh?
Okay, back to this thrilling narrative ....
While I have been able to find the crockpot full of tea, I have yet to run across the lid to my crock pot ... nor the lid to my sauce pan, where I make the occasional batch of Rice-a-Roni (goes great with my Cheap and Sleazy Chili!).
Fortunately, all of the lids showed up recently, so that's good ... but ....
Did I mention how much I hate moving?
As a bit of an aside, when I was in the Navy, family moves were handled very well. They sent a few guys over with a big truck, they packed everything by room, labeled the boxes as to which room they were in originally, loaded everything into the truck, and drove off to our new home, where they unloaded the truck, placing everything into the appropriate room, and left.
If you ever have to move across country, *THAT* is the way to do it!
Well. I have to make a store run. Seems
I don't have any ice cube trays three of my cups are missing (you know, the plastic ones with the lid and a straw?), and one of my Trader Joe's insulated shopping bags is also missing (pretty sure it's in one of the boxes I haven't got to yet, like my (still missing!!) trackpad).
Did I mention how much I hate moving?
Oh, and did I mention the missing rechargeable batteries I had in a plastic container with a lid? Sure hope that turns up soon (they power the Bluetooth gadgets).
So I had a couple of maintenance guys stop by to check on a couple of things I complained about.
As they were coming in, I said, "As you can see, I have recently taken up boxing!"
They were amused.
Well. Maybe a little.
Just noticed my previous apartment manger was kind enough to pack the apartment number that had been stuck to my door all these years! Awwww .....!
Thank you, Renee!
Old Apartment Number
So far, my biggest whine is there is a fan in the bathroom that comes on when you walk in ... and even when you just walk past the open door!
Did I mention there's no "On" or "Off" switch?
It took a few days, but I finally decided to just keep the door closed.
Definitely not an awesome solution, but I'll go ahead and take that L.
... and no, Management is not inclined to install a proper on/off switch (I've asked ... more than once).
Missing items so far include
the working pair of my wireless speakers (I had two pair), the transmitter for the wireless headphones that work very well with those speakers (ordinarily a great way to listen to the Paranormal Radio Network while soaking in the tub! (*shakes fist at that stupid fan!*)), the aforementioned headphones, those ribbon cartridges I had in my freezer and, of course, that still missing Trackpad.
"Have you seen my trackpad?"
Good news (08DEC21)!
I found my missing trackpad! As you might guess, it was in one of the (billions and billions of) boxes in the living room ... and in the same box, I found three of those "Harry Potter" books I thought I had thrown out!
Still among the missing:
those two speakers and that transmitter. Hopefully they will show up soon.
Good news! I (finally!) found my ribbons. Since they had been in the freezer for the past six or so years (recommended to me by a retired court reporter a few years back, to keep them from drying out), they were not in the best of shape when I found them. The ice had melted, the ink had started to run, the ice container they were in had ink all over it -- yuck!
Leaving the ribbons in the plastic bag they were already in, I put them on a box that needs to be broken down and taken out to the shredder -- one of these days -- (and no, I'm not throwing them out!) then I put the ice tray into the kitchen sink, grabbed the bleach, squirted some liquid dish washing soap into the sink and into the ice tray, added a few capfuls of the bleach, and as an afterthought, I added a little laundry soap (Surf, for the curious), ran the water, and let everything sit for a couple days.
You will be pleased to know that all of the ink is gone -- but only from the ice tray. I still have to do something with the ribbons. Maybe tomorrow.
Or the next day. We'll see.
Okay, so maybe the next day. Sheesh.
I acquired (yet another) laptop yesterday
As I was returning from my (kinda-sorta) weekly check of the mailbox, I saw a box with some writing on it. Looking closer, I saw that it said, "Free!"
So I opened the box, where I found a printer and a computer ... or more specifically, an Epson printer and an HP laptop.
Seeing as how I already had four printers -- of which I only use two -- I left that behind, and took the laptop and its little case.
I brought it back to my apartment, opened the case, plugged everything into where it needed to be plugged into, started it up, and quickly ran into a password field ... which, of course, I couldn't get past.
The previous owner left a password hint: "The old standard." ... which, as you might guess, meant absolutely nothing to me. Searching through a few of the search engines I have in Firefox's search field looked promising, but ultimately, I found nothing useful.
I dug around in one of the many boxes I have here for a DVD drive I had bought sometime back, connected it to the HP, located a CD with Elementary OS on it from a few years ago, figured out -- or so I thought -- how to change the boot device through the BIOS, and ... nothing. Maybe it just can't read the DVD drive ...?
I think I have an old CD drive I can connect to it around here somewhere ... so we'll see. I can't say I'm very optimistic about finding it soon, though.
As for the printer I do actually use, it's an old Samsung laser printer ... but as I said, I don't print very often, so I keep it in another room (now it's in the second bedroom, but before it was in the breakfast nook -- which I sorely miss) ... and to avoid bringing my laptop to the printer to print, I bought one of these a few years back:
Apple Airport Extreme
What that is used to be Apple's wireless internet router, in this case, the Apple Airport Extreme. Cute, huh?
Turns out, that little beastie has a USB port on the other side, so all I had to do was connect the Airport to the printer via that USB port, figure out how to set up wireless printing, but I have to switch to the Airport's signal in order to connect to the printer, so I can't be online and print at the same time.
On the plus side, I don't have to print documents very often, so there's that.
The Plover Development Team has been burning the midnight oil, and have produced a lot of new builds!
New Build of Plover!
Unfortunately, I did have a bit of an issue with one of the new builds, in that it changed many of the outlines in my RTF dictionary in such a fashion that they no longer worked properly ... but before that happened -- or probably more correctly, just after that happened -- I saw this via my Mac's Notifications Center:
"This Can't Be Good ..."
What you're looking at there happened after I installed a new version of Plover, which apparently had changed the way it handled RTF dictionaries ... so all of those dictionary entries pretty much quit working, and those non-working outlines included the ones I use to write Cheap and Sleazy, so that they looked like this:
Broken Plover Dictionary (From a Different Incident)
Fortunately, I had this screenshot in my Plover article:
Good Plover dictionary image for my Cheap and Sleazy outlines
... which I used as a guide to fix the broken dictionary entries ... this time, in a .json dictionary.
Another ... interesting development from Mirabai's blog, which will lead you to a new steno game called "Typesy." Here are the results of one of my first efforts:
In the Plover Facebook group Mirabai and I run together, one of the members pointed out that sometimes during the game, a word might appear over the word you were writing, leaving you with part of the word gone, but now you have to stroke those individual letters out one by one. Very annoying!
I wrote up a bug report and submitted it (and forgot to copy it first, of course. Sorry!), so hopefully they'll fix that issue soon ... or tell me to pound sand. One of the two.
Earlier in the same month (I think), Mirabai posted this interesting blog entry, in which she briefly talks about a guy that learned to use Plover without attending court reporting school, and he shares how he learned to do Q&A ... and you can read how he did that here ... and there's a link in that article where he talks about how he built speed using "Platinum Steno's" (now free!!!!) lessons on YouTube.
Pretty cool, huh?
Okay now ... everybody say "Thanks, Mirabai!"
Oh, and speaking of Plover, give this one a look when you have a few hours to spare.
What that is is a three hour video of a massive Zoom meeting, talking about Plover!
Unfortunately I got the start time wrong (pesky time zones!) so I think I was there for the last hour or so.
A Little Steno News
Somewhere along the way, Stenoworks started making their own versions of the older Stentura batteries, but with better cells inside the case.
I bought two of them over a period of time (~six months or so), and thanks to that battery charger I picked up a few years back, I can't remember the last time I had my writer plugged in!
... but somewhere along the way, there was a nasty fire at Stenoworks. I never found out exactly how bad the damage was, but I heard it was extensive.
Fortunately, they appear to be back in operation, so there's that.
Things Parents Say
So. How many of you have ever said to your daughter, son, niece, nephew, neighbor's kid, etc. something similar to the following:
"I hope when *YOU* grow up and have a kid, s/he acts Just Like YOU!!!"
Show of hands?
Ooh, that many, huh? Consider me among the many! Let me tell you how that worked out for me.
I met the woman that became "My Favorite Ex-Wife" -- and yes, I only have the one; I call her that because it makes her laugh -- when I was 14, and she was 19.
Somewhere during the years we had together, I said to my -- er, our -- daughter one of those things I'm (fairly) sure every parent says at one point or another:
"I hope when you grow up and have a kid, it acts just like YOU!"
So. Time goes by, we go our separate ways, my daughter -- er, OUR daughter -- has a child of her own, and when our daughter was 35, I called and asked my "Favorite Ex-Wife" how they were getting along. Here's how that went:
She said, "Oh they're getting along great! They're more like sisters than mother and daughter! They're lying on the couch together, watching "Buffy the Vampire Slayer!"
cried whined said in a manly fashion, "But that's not what I meant!"
I can't say for sure, but I'm pretty sure "My Favorite Ex-Wife" laughed at me!
... and for those of you who have no idea who that guy is, here he is in action.
If you're eating something, you should probably hold off until the video is over. I don't want you to mess up your computer!
Whoa! Look What I Found!
Cover of the illustrated version of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"
That is the cover of an illustrated version of the first "Harry Potter" book -- in hard cover!
I found one of those at my local Value Village, which I visit from time to time to see if I can find some of those books I lost when my mom died and I had to leave for Navy Boot Camp, leaving my sister and my "Favorite Ex-Wife" to clear out her apartment ... which I'm (fairly) sure I have already mentioned here at least once.
Or twice. Whatever.
As you might imagine, I was pretty stoked when I found that one, and so was the gal that rang up the purchase that day! Hopefully she's found her own copy by now.
It didn't take long before I attempted to buy a couple more copies of the subsequent books, also from Amazon -- one of which had a missing cover, about which I complained. The seller pointed out where I had missed the part where his description said that the cover was not included.
Needless to say, I had to replace that copy with another -- this time taking a few minutes to ensure that the book actually had a cover! (*pats self on the back*)
So at that point, I had two copies of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" -- one with a cover, the other without ... and another that had some moldy pages (*Arrgghhh!!!*).
I tried again -- this time buying a copy of "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" (book three), mostly because they were out of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" (book two).
And then came "The Big Move(tm)."
I had a couple of the books in a bag that was supposed to go to the local Value Village (yes, the ones with the mold), but never had a chance drop them off, so they came along with me and my stuff -- all in the same bag with the other books I didn't want to get rid of.
Guess who donated that bag of books to the local Goodwill?
Now guess who found just one of those illustrated "Harry Potter" books in one of those boxes at the new apartment?
Note that I said, "Just one."
I think it's about time I took a trip to the (fairly) local Half Price Books!
Fun fact: it's not as "local" as it used to be, thanks to that recent move!
That reminds me ... it might be a good time to figure out where those boxes are supposed to go around here. Somewhere on the property is a shredder. The hard part will be finding it, without carrying a bunch of boxes -- even if they're flattened.
Fortunately some folks bring their shopping carts from the local Walmart and just leave them, so if I wait for the right time, I can maybe grab one of those, load it up with the broken down boxes, and get rid of said boxes.
Of course, I'll take the shopping cart back, just because.
Oh, and speaking of "Harry Potter" ....
20 Years Of Harry Potter
And you can read that Twitter thread here.
Somewhere in that thread I was chatting with another "Harry Potter" fan when I mentioned my intent to reread each book -- the illustrated versions, that is -- then watch the movies.
He told me that the last book wouldn't be done until 2023.
Well, so much for that idea!
Looks like I forgot this one:
I Almost Lost Cheap and Sleazy
... or more correctly, I almost lost the files that make up Cheap and Sleazy.
I don't recall if I mentioned it, but sometime back, I had taken to writing Cheap and Sleazy on the 2008 27 inch iMac I bought for myself one Christmas some (*mumble-mumble*) years ago.
I also had a backup copy on a flash drive, but since I had been updating the copy on the iMac, I may or may not have failed to update the copy on the flash drive.
You know what that means ... yes, that's right ... that means it's time for the Law of Perversity to rear its ugly head (scroll down to number 26 in that link up there)!
Bonewits' Laws of Magic
So one day my iMac decided not to work anymore ... and it let me know by shutting itself down.
Of course, I dutifully restarted it, and about half way through the boot process, it again shut down.
Thinking (fairly) quickly, I grabbed my MacBook Pro and located a computer repair shop that was a bit closer to me than the one I took my 2010 MacBook Pro to get fixed a few months before, called a cab, grabbed the iMac, and off we went.
After a rather tedious and lengthy sequence of events, I ended up buying a gadget that would allow me to connect my old hard drive to the new-to-me 2010 21.5 inch iMac that I bought for $300 or so the day I bought my ailing iMac to the shop.
During that "lengthy sequence of events" I mentioned, I called the shop again and asked if the 27 inch 2007 iMac I saw there was available, and it was ... so I traded that 21.5 inch iMac back for that one instead ... only to find that I couldn't upgrade the operating system to what the new version of Plover required ... which meant I was not able to do the transcription job I was supposed to be working on at the time.
So. I call and ask if that original iMac was still available (the 21.5 inch one), and he said it was, so I asked if he could take the 1TB hard drive out of the 2007 27 inch iMac and put it into the 2010 21.5 iMac for me and I would pay the difference.
He was okay with that, so again I called the (fairly) local cab company, and off we went ... which, unfortunately, left me with just my MacBook Pro for the weekend.
Monday comes, as it has been known to do -- most of the time -- and I call to see if the 21.5 inch iMac is ready, and he said it was, so I call the same cab company, and they tell me it's going to be about half an hour.
Half an hour later I get a text from the taxi driver, letting me know he's outside.
I grab my jacket and look outside ... and I don't see him.
So I called the cab company back, and the gal says that the driver grabbed another fare, and left.
I can't say I was very happy with that clown, and I let her know it! She apologized and sent out another cab. That one actually showed up, got me to where I needed to go, waited until I was done, and brought me back home.
Gave him a $5.00 tip.
I got the upgraded iMac up and running, sacrificed one of my big flash drives to create a bootable drive to install High Sierra (Mac OS 10.13.6):
Downloading Mac OS High Sierra
The download was slow going, and unfortunately my MacBook Pro went into Sleep Mode just ten minutes before the download was complete ... which, of course, meant that I had to re-download it ... and I may or may not have done that more than once.
Finally got it done, loaded it onto the flash drive, managed to insert the flash drive into the appropriate USB port (I think there are three of them), held down the appropriate keys to make it boot from the flash drive, and after a few minutes, it was ready.
I quickly busied myself with downloading my usual suite of web browsers (Firefox, Brave, Vivaldi, Opera, and Google Chrome), installing the appropriate browser extensions to support my TV watching habits, downloaded and installed DropBox, which, among other things, I use to schlep those downloaded TV shows over to the iMac from my laptop, and, of course, a copy of VLC to watch the shows I download.
Oh, and DropBox also contains all of my Plover dictionaries.
After that, I downloaded and installed a brand spankin' new copy of Plover, a newer version of Nisus Writer Pro, and finally, a newer copy of Express Scribe.
Unfortunately, the audio on that file I was supposed to be transcribing had ... issues, so I had to clean it up a bit (okay, so quite a bit), which necessitated downloading a new version of Audacity, and somewhere in there, I was able to find the folder where Cheap and Sleazy lives, grab a copy of it and loaded it on to my laptop, since the e-mail address I used for the program I used to write Cheap and Sleazy had to be re-downloaded, which necessitated verifying my license ... which was attached to an e-mail address from a company that went away back in 2000 or so.
So I had to switch to another program. Right now, I'm using a demo version of Coda.
I also have an education copy of Pinegrow, but that one has a steep learning curve, so we'll see.
(Yet Another) Sad Realization
I had to submit some financial information to the folks at HUD-VASH -- which is basically Section 8 Housing for vets -- and while processing everything I discovered that my attempt to get my iMac fixed, including the cost of the cabs, ended up costing me about $1,000.
On the plus side, I think I can count that as a business deduction. We'll see, I guess!
Ever Have That Feeling You Forgot Something ...?
A few years ago (~2013 or so), I received an e-mail from a guy in Texas who had written a book in which he talked about how he managed to pass the Texas court reporting exam -- which has been described as *THE* most difficult exam in the country -- and attached to that e-mail was a copy of the book, as well as an address to the (now gone) website where my readers -- that's you folks -- could order it.
Unfortunately, I found myself rather busy at the time (court reporting school, asthma attacks, a trip to the hospital, etc.), so I completely forgot about it (sorry about that, Cale!).
Fast forward a few years, and out of the blue I remember the name of that book and the website, so I went exploring the various incarnations of the website and eventually I found one where Cale was simply making it available for free. I then tried to find an e-mail address for him to no avail, and sent Mike "Depoman" Miller an e-mail. He pointed me in the right direction, and I quickly sent Cale McCabe an e-mail, in which I asked him if it would be okay if I uploaded his book to Cheap and Sleazy, and he was okay with it ... so you can download that one here.
"Pass the Court Reporting Exam" cover
... but before you dive into that book, take a look at this archived version of the website's blog entries.
Thanks, Cale. This one should help a lot of students out there!
Seems like I got to yakking about this, that, and the other and completely forgot to tell you about the new articles I have in here!
Sorry about that.
I have been working on fixing "A Match Made in Heaven", in which I share a few practice ideas, and finally got to a state which I am pleased with.
A Match Made in Heaven Snippet
Hope that one helps the students that need it.
Veering a bit more close to legal stuff (technical term), I have "Defamation, Hitler, and Artemus Jones," which came about when I found the wife of the author of that article on a page of a website set up as a memorial/remembrance for her (now gone) hubby. I had told her about the article and asked her if she had read it before, and she said she hadn't, so I let her know I was trying to find the issue of the Science Fiction Writers of America Bulletin it appeared in, and when I found it, I would let her know, and publish it for all to see.
Here's a snippet of the article:
Unfortunately the webmaster has closed the comments down, so I can't let her know her (now gone) hubby's article is up on Cheap and Sleazy.
Too bad ... I'm pretty sure she would enjoy it (yes, she's a lawyer, as was her (now gone) hubby.).
Somewhere along the way, she answered one of the participants in that thread I discovered her in talking about "Stargate," and how she would read the story every year. I believe I have all three issues of Analog with the main story, along with a couple of stories that came out before.
I think I'll try doing the same thing.
am still in the process have finally finished updating my article on MMS, as I found a copy of the original blog post that brought MMS to the attention of the FDA in an article in "Medium," which was quickly deleted ... but apparently I copied the article and saved it, so that will be something to look forward to.
A few years back, a court reporter on Facebook offered a box of old speed tapes from the NCRA and the predecessor of the NCRA known as the NSRA ("National Shorthand Reporter's Association"), as well as a company called "Dicto Speed" for the low, low price of (you guessed it ...) free, and naturally I volunteered to take them off her hands.
When they arrived, I used the "boom box" my "Favorite Ex-Wife" bought me a few years back and recorded most of the tapes into my computer (though a couple of them didn't work), and you can see -- and download -- those in the article Feed the Need.
"Feed the Need" snippet
I don't mention this one very often, (mostly because it could have been written better) but time has gone by, and after a couple of rewrites and updates, give this one a look or two.
Affirmations: The Broad Strokes Snippet
I have rewritten and updated an article to show interested readers how to use their CAT software on their Macs, which I cleverly named "Macs and CATs," which should be read instead of the partially finished "Sex and Power" articles you might find here if you look hard enough ... but I highly recommend that you don't! Ha ha ha!
Macs and CATs Snippet
"The One Ring," Cheap and Sleazy Style!
Oops! That's not "Cheap and Sleazy Style!"
For quite a while now, I have been contemplating about how to make a "Lord of the Rings" style ring with "Cheap and Sleazy" on it, in glowing, fiery letters.
I did a few searches for an appropriate ring, but had no luck, so I (kind of) forgot about it ...
... until today. Check it out:
The One (Cheap and Sleazy) Ring
I downloaded the ring from here, and the font came from here.
Not to be all "braggy" or anything, but I'm pretty proud of that one!
Well. That's about it for now. I will try to update this one in a more timely fashion from here on out! Ciao for now!
Also, just in case ...
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