You don’t need me to tell you how marvellous an iPad is. Apple’s marketing department are doing a pretty good job at that already! But I have found it very useful from a professional point of view, and hopefully by sharing that we can all work more efficiently. And you can certainly claim it as a business expense! I am describing features of the iPad because that’s what I have, but any tablet with a camera and document reading software should do just as well.
The newest model, iPad 3, has a camera, which takes excellent large photos of documents, that are very clear even when enlarged. You can take a picture of an A4 page and easily read every word. It effectively acts as a scanner and also a viewer of scans. If you want to view documents while writing, you will need to turn off the auto lock, and you may need to turn down the brightness.
I have a Logitech Bluetooth keyboard, which acts as a stand to hold it vertical, and (as a touch typist) makes the email function properly useful.
Here are some real examples of different kinds of use:
On a cultural STT job, the speaker came over 10 minutes before the job was due to start and explained that she was going to read two extra poems that we hadn’t been given. She had the book there. I took iPad photos of the poems, then left the photo open during the job. When the time came to read the photos, I used the picture to write from (listening of course just in case!) which helped with punctuation and spelling. If I had had a bit more time I could have typed in the poem and outputted it line by line using F12 in Eclipse.
On a court job, I realised that the case name information on the bundles was much longer than we had been given, more parties and more case numbers. Knowing that I didn’t have a front page template on me but back at the agency office, I took an iPad picture of the front page information in the bundles, so I could work on the front page later.
On an arbitration, I had been given a full hearing bundle electronically. It was available on the computer but I wanted the flexibility of viewing it on a separate screen without having to print out what might not be needed. Using the Dropbox app, I could view the files if I had an internet connection via wifi. However, knowing I might not have an internet connection, I downloaded the Documents app and synced with just the Dropbox folder with the hearing bundle in it. I could access the witness statements and submissions without needing to be online all the time.
You can also use the internal camera function, which takes a picture of the screen (power and home button together), which is useful if you want to have access to a web page or map when offline.
There are loads of other useful apps especially when travelling, like newspapers and Skype, which has a very well-designed interface. Also the download feature on BBC iPlayer is very nice when you’re far from home and want a BBC4 fix!
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Claire started her steno training at Smith Bernal (now DTI Global) in 1994, started working in court in 1995 and attained Accredited LiveNote Reporter status in 1996.
Since becoming freelance in 2004, she has broadened her competences to include all the areas where verbatim realtime reporting can be used.