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.