Slop Strokes

I recently rediscovered slop strokes, so I thought I’d post about them. I’ve known about them for a long time, but rarely used them because they’re kind of a pain to enter and are only useful in limited circumstances.

What is a slop stroke? A slop stroke is basically a misstroke, but instead of defining it as a separate entry, you tell Eclipse what you meant to write. So, for example, when you hit the left bank for a Q, you probably don’t hit that perfectly every time. Sometimes you miss a letter or two or three or etc. (*shameface*) Instead of defining such a misstroke as {Q} in your dictionary, you would tell Eclipse the correct steno {=STPHKWR}. This tells Eclipse to refer to the correct steno entry, which is useful for conflicts. (Note: In the original post I said they were also good for entries with lots of misstrokes and that, as it turns out, is incorrect. Whoops.)

It’s useful with conflicts because then you don’t have two sets of conflicts that you have to train; all the misstrokes go under one entry and Eclipse’s AI can learn from your selections even if you misstroke.

How to enter a slop stroke into your dictionary: Go to the special entries drop-down menu in the global box and select the slop stroke option. (It’s at the very bottom.)



From there, Eclipse will bring up the virtual steno keyboard and you can select the steno you meant to hit.  You can type the letters or use the mouse to click on the keys.


And that’s it! Eclipse will then format the dictionary entry for you.

PS: You can also type the entry by hand if you wish. The template is {=X} where X is the correct steno entry. So, for example, the above screenshot would lead to {=PHAEB} and if you really know your steno, you can just type it in instead of going through all those menus. (I’m exceptionally bad at this because I think of PHAEB as MAEB, and I always forget to convert back to real steno.)

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How to Prevent Eclipse from Mocking You

When your computer mocks you for not accurately recording an Indian computer engineer who doesn’t so much talk as just approximate the shapes of phrases by slurring three or four words together at a time:


(The odd indentation is actually a redaction.)

Anyway, Eclipse has never done that to me before, but I quickly realized it was because the previous day they had the witness read some file paths into the record, and file paths on Windows use a backslash, \, instead of a forward slash, /, which is used in URLs and most other things. So I put the backslash into my dictionary. I knew it wasn’t quite right at the time because it was conflict-colored, but I let it slide because it seemed to show up all right. Cut to today and I all of a sudden have Eclipse throwing question marks at me like I’ve gone crazy? Can’t be a coincidence. I clicked on the ??? and checked the steno. Sure enough, it was a typo that looked like my entry for a backslash.  Turns out you have to use the curly brackets and an underscore to tell the dictionary you want it to display that character and it’s not for some other purpose (in this case, it would be starting a conflict entry). So like this: {_\}

This also solved another problem that arose while they were reading the file path names: underscores. I couldn’t get that to show up at all, but if you do the brackets and underscore (twice in this case), you do indeed get an underscore to show up. Looks like this: {__}

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Lock Space

What is a lock space?

A lock space is like a hyphen masquerading as a space. It looks like a regular space, but it keeps the two words it’s separating on the same line. This is useful for Dr./Mr./Ms./St. etc. where it would be odd to see one of those hanging at the end of a line. You won’t be able to see it unless you have print commands turned on under display*, but it’ll be there.

How do you make a lock space in Eclipse?

When editing, press shift + ` (the little key above the tab and left of 1). (I personally don’t like that because what if I need to type out a tilde (~) for whatever reason? It’s really unlikely I’d ever have to unless I were  CARTing some sort of language/linguistics course, maybe? But I changed it to  ctrl + ` anyway.)

For dictionary entries, enter {~}. (Ex: Dr.{~}). You can press ctrl + ` if you are too lazy to type in the brackets like me. (This also works for most punctuation marks! Ex: ctrl + . = {.} in the global box.)

It’s so much easier than spacing/tabbing to force a word to the next line and you won’t have to worry about re-spacing if you need to change something in the previous line while proofreading.


*To turn on print commands, alt + U -> Display tab -> check box 4, print commands. The lockspace won’t be in gray like a regular print a command; instead it will look exactly like a tilde (~).

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Blanks (Pt. 2) AKA List Files

Following up on the previous post on blanks, I’m going to explain how to use list files with blanks. I’ll be using attorney contact info as an example.

Let’s start with what a list file is. It’s a separate .ecl file in Eclipse that is just simple text. You type out possibilities to fill in your blanks.  A basic form field with no list file will show up like this when you press Shift + E to fill it in:


You get a blank box to type in. That’s fine for things that change every job, like time/date, but if you do a lot of work with, say, a Polish attorney whose name has more consonants than you can possibly pronounce, let alone spell, you may find it helpful to fill in that information once and have Eclipse offer to fill in that name for you. Like this:


Oooh, now there’s a pop-up box with his name already prefilled, and all you have to do is highlight it and press OK! No more re-re-re-reading it to make sure you got all the Zs in the right place.

In order to get this pop-up box to show up, you have to select a file next to the “Use list file” option in the Add Blank menu. Like so:


You can name the file whatever you like, and you don’t have to make your file beforehand. In fact, you don’t even have to click on Browse. You can simply type in what you want to name the file and Eclipse will create the .ecl file for you in the appropriate folder. But if you do have a pre-made file, you can click on Browse and select that file.

You can see in that screenshot I’ve selected the Attorney blank and selected a list file named “ZATTYNME”. I like to name all my list files beginning with z, just to make the block files folder more manageable when looking through it. In the block files folder, you’ll have three types of files – files you read in (cover pages, cert page, exhibit/exam blurbs) and I name those normally; then there’s files that the index reads in, and I name those beginning with x; and finally you have list files, which we’ve been talking about. It’s a simple way for me quickly identify what kind of file I’m looking at.

So let’s go back to that prefilled pop-up box with the attorney name already listed.


Oh, now there’s actually a list! I’ve got three atty names prefilled, and there’s numbers to the left. The numbers let you quickly select the attorney you want by pressing the corresponding number when the menu pops up, instead of having to scroll through the list and manually select your attorney. You can even go above 9. For example, if you press 1, it will highlight attorney 1 on your list, but if you press 0 after that, it will skip down to attorney 10. Then you press OK, and the attorney name is filled in.

To get the numbers ability, you type in “1@[insert info here]” (minus the quotes!) Don’t forget to create a new line for every item in your list. Here’s what the list files looks like, to give you an example:


There are two ways to edit your list, the Add button and the Edit button. If you type in the blank space at the bottom of your list, then click Add, Eclipse will add it to your list file for you.


You can also click Edit to go straight to the list file itself and edit in there. This is good if you have longer or more complicated information to fill in (see firm info below) or if you want to delete a name or edit an existing name.

Now, let’s get to something a little more complicated, but which should make you ever SO happy once you get it down: Firm information. Firm information generally includes firm name, address, phone number, maybe fax as well. Using what we know so far, we can shorten the amount of time we fill things in by utilizing numbers, BUT what if you could tell Eclipse to fill in multiple lines with one selection? Now we’re talking.

Here’s an example of how to do that:


So we know what the “1@” is for. After that is the firm name, and then the + sign is there to tell Eclipse to skip to the next empty blank. If you remember, I have firm name then attorney name, and attorney name has its own list file, so Eclipse will skip that blank and go down to the next blank with no list file, which would be street address. Here I have another + sign, because I like having the suite number on a separate line. If you prefer to have it on the same line, leave the + out and simply space as normal. After that I have another +, which skips city and state because I have list files for those. (I think it saves more time being able to select cities for every attorney rather than having to manually type in cities for every attorney not in my list, but that’s up to you. I also like to select the state every time, simply because I’m forgetful enough to accidentally fill in Seattle, CA instead of WA. Like I said in the previous post, blanks are pretty handy as reminders.) After that comes zip code and then another + and [phone number]+[fax number]. (I should mention that the numbers don’t always fill in for me, and I haven’t figured out why yet.)

That was probably long and complicated, so feel free to ask if you have any questions!

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First post in a very long time. Sorry about that. Been working, plus no one’s asked me any good questions… until now!

Today I’m writing about blanks.  Blanks are forms that you can fill in quickly and easily, and they make cover pages so much easier. These usually take a while to set up at first, but once you do, you save time on every job. Also, because they’re pretty noticeable, I find them to be pretty useful for reminding me to put in info that I won’t have until I’m done with the transcript, i.e., final page number.

Here’s a sample of what a caption page looks like with blanks.  With my color scheme, it kind of looks like an inverted redaction, doesn’t it?


As I write this, I realize I should really put a form field in front of “DEPOSITION OF” so I don’t forget to put in EXPERT or VIDEOTAPED when necessary. So why don’t I show you how to do that?

To insert a form field, press Shift + A. (Bonus points: If you have an existing form field you would like to change, you can bring up this menu by putting your cursor on the field and pressing Shift +A.) You will see a menu pop up. It will look like this.


Field Label: This is the name of your blank. It will show up so you can read it — see the blank underneath that says “Witness.”  This is to remind you of what you need to fill in and serve as a placeholder.

Field size: This is some weird sort of voodoo magic I still haven’t entirely figured out, but it had something to do with how many characters you can put into the field and how long the blank will look. From what I’ve seen it’s not quite as straightforward as that sounds. I usually leave it checked adjustable, but I guess if you’re really bad at filling in phone numbers or something, you can unclick the adjustable box and set a character limit on it.

Variable: You can link two or more blanks with this box. If you give two fields the same variable, the second one will automagically fill in with the same information as the first box. It’s a huge time saver! So, imagine I needed to put the same information, EXPERT/VIDEOTAPE DEPOSITION OF, on the first page of the transcript. What I would do is fill in the “Variable” box with something like “deptype” and then on the first page do another form field and fill in the “Variable” box with the exact same thing, “deptype”. Then when you’re filling in your caption page, you won’t have to fill in the second field. Eclipse will do it automatically, saving you precious SECONDS.

Another cool thing for this box is if you fill in the variable with “NUM” (no quotes when entering it in the box) then it will prefill the next blank with the next number in sequence. This is great for exhibits. If you fill in the first box with “10,” then the next time you hit an exhibit field, it will automatically fill with 11.

Prompt for Contents: Check this box if you don’t want it to be completely automatic. If you check this box, you’ll get a pop-up from the second box with the information prefilled, asking you to okay it.

Delete line if empty: This is good when filling in addresses. If you like to put the street address and the suite on separate lines, you can check this box for the suite blank, and it will delete the line if there’s no suite.

Last field: The cool thing about blanks is they will automatically jump to the next blank when you’re done filling in the first one. So as soon as I finished filling in COURT, it would jump to COUNTY, then NAME, etc., all the way down until it hits one that’s checked as “Last Field.” Then it stops. (You can, of course, push Escape if you ever want to abort filling out a blank for whatever reason.)

Capitalize contents: Pretty much what it says. If you want what you fill into be in all caps, check this.

Right flush contents: This is only useful if you have a specific field size. So, let’s say you set a field size of 20. That’s how long your blank will be. (The white blank space won’t always show up that long, but imagine it’s there.) If you fill in the blank with something short, it will usually fill in starting on the left side, and there will be a lot of space on the right. If you check this box, your info will fill in start on the right, and all the empty space will be on the left.

Use list file: These are the most useful, especially if you often work with law firms with ridiculously long names. I will explains these more in-depth later on.

Mathematical: I haven’t needed to do anything with this box yet, but let me know if you would like me to post on it. The help file seemed to suggest it could do some cool things, and I think it may actually be useful if you need to keep track of time. (In California they’re now limited most depos to 7 hours, so sometimes they attorneys will ask.)

Now that I’ve gone through the menu, here’s what my EXPERT/VIDEOGRAPHER field will look like:


NOTE: When you push enter and create the blank, remember that it doesn’t automatically insert a space between the blank and the next word. So if I filled in the menu and pushed okay and filled in the blank, it would show up as EXPERTDEPOSITION. Always remember to add that space after it.

Slightly less important note: Sometimes the blanks will show up abnormally long for what you need and that will sometimes make your line go over to the next one. You can just ignore it. As long as you’ve got the “Variable” box selected, the blank will shrink when you fill in the information and it will go back to one line. Or you could make the extra effort to set the field size and select right/left flush.

It’s getting a bit late, and this turned out to be a little longer than I expected, so I will get into the “use list file” bit in another post, hopefully in the not-too-far-future. As always, feel free to leave a comment if you have questions/comments.

Here’s a reward for making it all the way to the end!


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Decompression Error

Sorry I haven’t updated in forever. Been busy WITH DOING DEPOS. It is still amazing this is real.

Anyway, I just wanted to post a quick warning about this “decompression error” that I received from Eclipse after a BSOD crashed my computer. If you ever see this error, DON’T PANIC. Calm down, eat a cookie, and just rename the file. It took me longer than it should have to figure that out, and then I ended up losing like 10 minutes of work because I had tried to revert from one of the backup files and didn’t have a backup of the fully-scoped file. OOPS. (On the bright side, this whole mess taught me that I can, indeed, tell Mozy to automatically backup .ecl files without having to manually check them. Yay!)

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Line Numbers

A quick one today on changing the number of lines per page. In California depos are 25 lines per page, but some courts require 28 lines per page, so one of the things you may need to learn is how to change the number of lines per page.

1) Alt+U for user settings.
2) Click on the Document tab.
3) Change the number beside the the “Numbered lines” box.

Easy as sliced bread.

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Keyboard Macro

Here is a video showing you how to get Eclipse to write into other programs such as Microsoft Word, an IM program, or your web browser. If you’re tired of regular keyboard slowing you down or you just want more practice on the machine, this could be the answer to your troubles!

Important notes before you watch the video:

  • You should create a new user before you start.
  • If you use this method, Eclipse will still create its own transcript of what you write, but it will also write into whatever program is open on top of Eclipse. If Eclipse is on top, it will only write into Eclipse.
  • You must be very careful what programs are on top! If your cursor is not in a text box when you are writing, crazy things might happen due to shortcut keys being activated.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask. Gifts of pies, cakes, and/or brownies are accepted.

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Page Numbers

My apologies for not having posted in a while, but I’m back now and, thanks to the Cool Tech Tips seminar at the NCRA 2011 convention, fancier than ever! Check out this video I made on how to move your page numbers around. (You may want to go fullscreen to see the menus better. Just click the icon on the lower right that looks like four arrows pointing outward.)

Feel free to leave me a comment and let me know if you prefer videos, text + screenshots, or both.

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Here’s question that came up recently: Where’s the Eclipse manual? They don’t send a paper copy with your disk, but they do give you a .pdf of it. You just gotta know where to find it.

C:\Program Files\Advantage Software\EclipseNT\Documentation

There’s more than just the manual in here though. There’s a couple of other useful things in here. I highly recommend you check out the following files if you’re still getting acquainted with hyperkeys or if you just want to expand your current repertoire. They cover more or less the same info – all your macro commands – but they are arranged differently.

  • Total Eclipse Hyperkeys: chart of macros arranged according to keyboard layout.
  • Total Eclipse Quick Guide – Alphabetically (by function, not key)
  • Total Eclipse Commands – By topic (production, search, global, etc.)

There’s also a prefix & suffix kit, which is nice if you’re dictionary building and would like a giant list of affixes to enter. It also explains how to add prefixes and suffixes in your dictionary if you don’t already know how.

If you’re doing CART or captioning, there’s the Eclipse Realtime Kit, which focuses on explaining macros used specifically for editing in realtime. I can’t wait to try some of these out — gotta get out of school first, though.

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