About a year ago I was at a STAR seminar in which Mike Miller (Depoman.com) presented. He talked about wireless realtime. This is realtime in which the reporter doesn’t have to use cables to connect to attorneys’ serial ports or USB-to-serial connections. The reporter would just use a router box to send a feed “wirelessly” to a USB port on an attorney’s computer. It sounded intriguing.
I contacted the company who sells the technology, Stenocast (stenocast.com). They were in beta mode with a new product and had nothing available. I couldn’t wait to do a realtime depo with no wires on the table. I trusted that if Mike Miller was touting it, it was going to be something great.
Then in March of 2008 the package finally came. Chris Jordan is a stickler for trying out new technology before you even think you might need it out on a job. (It is a good trait even though it is sometimes irritating.) So we set up five laptops all around our conference room table one Saturday morning. I am an Eclipse writer. I sent out the usual Caseview 2400 feed. We installed the Stenocast driver on all of the “client” laptops. We had two Sonys, two Fujitsus, and a Dell laptop. Some had a serial port and some did not.
We put the little blue flickering-light USB thumb drives in each client computer. Chris went through and found the serial comport and assigned it to the software on the client computers. We were running both Bridge and LiveNote on the different client computers.
I am not kidding. It worked the first time with each laptop. We were high-fiving and feeling really good about everything.
Since then four of our reporters have gone wireless. There are some lessons we have learned in the field:
1. Get to depositions early or the day before to install the Stenocast driver on the attorney’s computer. If the attorney has an older version of LiveNote, you might not be able to use the Stenocast because you are going to be using comports that can range from 7 – 16. The older versions of LiveNote don’t give the option for the higher port numbers. This is never a problem with Bridge. Bridge can handle any comport number.
2. Buy the Stenocast product that allows for a serial port with a cable. Many times one person in the depo room doesn’t (a) want wireless; or (b) can’t use it because of the issues I discussed in Item 1 above.
3. Have the attorneys who want to be online wirelessly during the deposition (to check their email or surf the Internet) get on the web before you start the realtime feed. If they decide to go onto the web with a wireless connection during the deposition, it will knock out your feed, and they will have to reboot. It is not a big deal to reboot, but it can freak out attorneys.
4. Sometimes if an attorney uses an air card to be on the Internet, it will block the serial port. You will need to ask the attorney not to have the air card physically in the PCM slot if he/she wants realtime.
Be ready for anything. One of the “hassles” of the wireless realtime is your CAT software settings. If you transmit the realtime feed through a PCM card or USB port, the comport number is going to change. You will have to be ready to change your realtime settings back and forth. It’s not hard. It just takes a couple of extra steps before a job – another reason to be at a realtime deposition 30 minutes before the stated time (hopefully with the client’s laptop already available).
Kramm Court Reporting is embracing wireless technology. Our clients have been impressed. If an attorney shows up with no Keyspan or Belkin USB-to-serial adaptor or doesn’t have the drivers, this is a perfect solution. The technology works. If you have any questions, please contact me at email@example.com.