Only six months ago, I wrote a post encouraging steno students to go on eBay and buy old machines instead of being suckered into buying “professional machines”.

It’s with some embarrassment then that I now remove my shirt, put it over my head and make the following announcement.

*I got a LightSpeed, bitches!
And a six-pack! (causal link yet to be established)

Really the embarrassment is only about 2% of the overall feeling.  The other 98% is relief that soon, I’m not going to have to haul all this crap on minibuses and trains, up and down flights of stairs, leaving a trail of innocent Hong Kong senior citizenry in my wake like a bloated late-empire administrator.

And anyway, I still stand by my thoughts.  I don’t think students should have to pay US$4,000 for bits of plastic named after a fake jewel.  And I do think my current 17-year-old Stentura 8000LX is a workhorse which has survived being kicked over, dropped down the stairs, doused in tea, and bashed in attorney-induced rage.  It also has heaps of room to stick brief-filled Post-it notes on, once I decided even Phoenix writers can brief.

Post-it note proliferation; deposition, 2011

My new LightSpeed won’t have to worry about being kicked over, since it doesn’t have a tripod.  But there’s still a reasonable probability I’ll drop it down the stairs and douse it in tea, and bash it in attorney-induced rages.  And, familiarly, it has room for hundreds of Post-its!

Streamlined machine, streamlined Post-its.

Pound for pound, it stacks up pretty evenly.  (Actual poundage comparison unknown since my old machine is so…old, I can’t even find detailed specs for it online.)  But it can’t be denied the traditional shape of the steno machine is a little anachronistic compared to the rest of the devices we use today.  I bought an Elan Mira about five years ago and sold it within a month because it was an even stupider size than earlier Stenturas.  I bought this LightSpeed sight unseen, without ever laying a hand on one…but the flat profile beats all other considerations.  If I lived in a country where I didn’t provide realtime every day, or got to drive to work, maybe I wouldn’t care so much, but living here, doing this sort of work, I am GOING FLAT.  And I am prepared to put in whatever time is necessary to adjust to the flat styles.

I’ve had it out on the couch for the past two nights, just casually tracking along with some Tour de France.  This was actually not a bad thing to pick for my first ever go at writing on this thing – there are so many long foreign words, if you don’t look too closely, you can convince yourself the tran rate is reasonably high.  Actually last night I felt equally demoralised and encouraged.  From what I’ve been reading on forums, I half-expected to not be able to get a line out at more than 100wpm.  That definitely wasn’t the case.  But it’s a long way from feeling natural.

I felt the gap between the main upper and lower banks was really noticeable but one of my colleagues told me today that it’s actually just an illusion resulting from not having to depress the keys.

I love the split number bar.

Tonight I’ve been writing along with YouTube clips, things like Mariah and Whitney performing soaring duets about having hopes we barely understand, and who knows what miracles you can achieve, and though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill, and whoa.

I think I’ve convinced myself I can do this.

I don’t really have a plan about implementing this on the job – or a lot of choice.  I only have two weeks off for the rest of the year and that’s not enough to complete the transition.  I don’t have the luxury of adjusting at work over a period of time (see above re daily realtime).  I am going to have to write on the Stentura in the day at work, and the LightSpeed and night, see what happens, and then just swap one day.  Hopefully without writing rubbish on either machine in process.

I’m not going to get too far into individual key adjustments or anything at this stage.  Even if I maximally shallow-out all the keys on the LS, it’s still so massively different from anything I’ve ever written on as to be a bit of a pointless exercise.  I’ve never really adjusted key depths on my previous machines.  I do carry around a tiny screwdriver in my kit but that’s mainly to flout international aviation security.  It’s also come in handy as an emergency thigh-stabber in really boring cases.

I’m used to writing on a variety of machines.  In fact when I was captioning back in Australia, we swapped machines around every shift depending on what was available.  I’m used to my Stentura, but not to the point of exclusivity.  My current back-up machine is an old Mira with rubber keypads stuck on sideways!  So I’m going to give the LightSpeed a go on factory settings for some time and see how I go.  There’s enough to get used to without worrying about power percentages and other energy algorithms.  Like learning how to write with something in my lap.

Place your bets in the comments as to the first date I’ll write on the LightSpeed at work.  The winner gets my Stentura screwdriver.


18 Comments Add yours

  1. Jenny says:

    I had a good practice session today, forgetting about settings adjustments and just writing. I think the stacking WILL get better with practice. Some people have said it takes 6 months to be as good as they were on the old machine, but frankly a few more errors in the next few months is worth it to carry less crap! I live on the 4th storey of a building with no lift and use public transport also (furthermore I do mostly one or two-day jobs so am always carrying my SH*EUT everywhere), and if friends see me they always ask me which country I am flying to!
    I started off practising to TDF – how on earth did you ever transcribe that? One of the commentators had a heavy Irish accent, I could only get half of what he said. My tran rate was quite good but I was only writing half of what he said! I switched to BBC Parliament channel and that was great. UK TV is fab. There are also some good radio channels for practice that are available anywhere via internet. I will send links later if you like. But is it just me or do you find it easier to transcribe people when you can see them? I know I’m a visual learner so maybe it just takes me a split second longer to process if it’s just auditory.

    1. jadeluxe says:

      I am way quicker when I can see people too. Nothing to do with lipreading, I don’t think – just some sort of mental thing. Oh yeah and everyone in our village always asks where I’m flying to when I head off to work in the morning too.
      I am so ready to just be good at my LS already! Taking my machine to work in my handbag today was a beautiful thing!

  2. Geraldine says:

    Please, keep us up to date on your progress. I’m really interested and wholeheartedly agree with your comments re expensive heavy equipment but not ready to change yet from my Stentura either. I even have trouble with laptop/notebook keyboards so don’t know how I’d go without the “depression effect”.

    1. jadeluxe says:

      You might be OK with the LS then because it’s not just a small depression, like a laptop – it’s no depression at all! So, being so totally different might actually not be a problem for you. Will definitely keep you updated.

  3. I’ve been ergo with the Gemini2, Revolution Grand and now Infinity. Just another option, and as a student, you get your WORK writer w/out the bells and whistles for a LOT cheaper price, then just add the bells when you want them. 😉 LOVE that Stenograph doesn’t have the ‘market’ anymore and there are OPTIONS!!!

    1. jadeluxe says:

      I love it too! Even though I love my 8000LX to death, and loved my SmartWriter for many years before that – including in court! Thanks for linking up to the Infinity writers – in case students passing through need more ideas… 🙂

  4. Holly Baine says:

    Jade, I’m sure you will get used to the Lightspeed. Looks interesting writing flat.
    I’d like to try it sometime.
    But I do have to tell you I love my little jewel!!

    1. jadeluxe says:

      I’m pleased for you, Holly. I’m actually not against the Diamante (and I have written on Stenograph machines for the previous 13 years of my career). I just resent that they have set the price bar so prohibitively for students. And to be honest I do hate that it’s called a Diamante. But I have lots of friends who love it.

  5. Dee says:

    Hey, I love your blog!!! It’s because of your blog and talking with other students that I realized I should get a professional writer to practice on. The school I was interested in tried to suggest other stenograph student writers to use, but I did my homework and found out that the newest student writer by stenograph is more expensive than a refurbished Lightspeed LSS! And I did not like having to my a new writer when I am done. Not to mention that transition from a traditional writer to a lightspeed takes time. Time I don’t wish to spend if I don’t have to. So I ordered my Lightspeed today, and I am patiently waiting for it to arrive in Canada! Also, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that you taught yourself Phoenix! After talking to other experienced court reporters I have since learned I can do this on my own. If not, it was worth a try! I am a mom of three, and anyway I can save money is great! Thanks for being a part of my inspiration! Good luck with the new light speed!

  6. jadeluxe says:

    Hi Dee! What a nice comment! I’m a little confused that you say it’s because of my blog (partly) that you realised you should get a professional writer to practice on, because I totally think you can get away with using any old machine off eBay for student purposes, and save your money for other stuff! But on the other hand, I’m so excited you got a LightSpeed! I’m loving getting used to mine. Although it is SO very different to other steno machines out there. Wishing you the best of luck with your studies! You can definitely do it on your own. Though I must admit I taught myself before I had kids, and I reckon I would struggle to be as disciplined now 😉 Just an extra challenge for you I guess! 🙂 Let me know how you go.

    1. Dee says:

      Your welcome Jade! What I mean is I read your blog about having to purchase a student machine which is then followed by the purchase of a professional machine. I was one of the students under the belief that the student machine is a must and you can’t practice on any machine you like. After reading your blog it got me thinking and I started asking questions because I was so concerned with getting everything right in preparation for this new journey I was about to embark on. Reading your blog demystified all the hype about student machines. When i discussed this with Karen (the same Karen you had met up with) and other students I just became aware that a lot of the “stuff” you are told by steno machine makers and school is more of the “bells and whistles” that you talk about. I don’t NEED all that “stuff”. I’m just saying between your blog and the other students, my eyes were opened. Also, reading your blog about self-teaching Phoenix, just sealed the deal. I knew I could do it and had planned to learn theory on my own and do speedbuiliding in school, they (the school) had warned me about how my inexperience could cause me to develop bad habits and I’d suffer in the long run. But you did it. So it’s not impossible. Thanks for sharing your journey because it has given me so much confidence to know it can be done and it is possible to do it on your own. Thanks! How is the lightspeed? Can’t wait to read your next steno blog!

  7. denise hess says:

    really interested to hear how the lightspeed worked for you. if it didn’t, sure would like to hear about it before i take the plunge myself. do tell. 🙂

    1. Amy Katz says:

      Hoping to hear a review, too.
      And since I gather that you’re not in the States, have you had any problems with reliability, or needing repairs?

      1. jadeluxe says:

        Hi Amy,
        Well, this will be a quick review – I only used the LightSpeed for a very short time. The good news is, I found it pretty easy to adjust to, and the convenience was great. The bad news is, I had a number of tech problems with it that made me not trust its reliability. And yes, it was a problem being in a different time zone – every time I needed it “fixed”, someone had to log in and recalibrate it from the US. Since all my jobs are realtime, it was just too unsettling to have to worry about whether it was going to work or not.

        I now use a Wave 🙂

      2. Amy Katz says:

        And how’s the Wave? I’m curious about the student-writer aspect of it. And are you not concerned about it needing tune-ups, etc.? Or do you go to the US regularly or some such?

  8. jadeluxe says:

    I love the Wave. It’s a fantastic machine. No, I don’t go regularly to the States, or at all – I’m an Australian actually. If I ever do get it serviced, I will have to ship it.

    If you like, you could join my steno group on Facebook – Jade King’s Stenoquery. There’s plenty more info about my experiences there 🙂

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