California Official Court Reporters Association

Realtime Tips : Hookup Tips

Real-time Writing in the Courtroom: The Nuts and Bolts of Hooking Up

by Paige Moser, RMR, CRR, CSR

This article is here to provide assistance to the court reporter who for the first time has decided to use real-time in the courtroom. While each software system procedure may differ, the hardware requirements and equipment are the same.

Some of the information may seem overwhelming at first, but take it slow, a step a time, ask others for assistance, and soon you’ll find yourself writing real-time for yourself and others.

This article is broken down into sections. The first section discusses how to set up real-time for yourself only. The next section discusses how to set up for interactive real-time, where you will connect up your computer to another in order to send your real-time file to another computer.

Real-time Writing for Yourself

  • You must have a notebook with software supporting real-time and one serial port.
  • Turn off power management settings.
  • Before attempting real-time, review your power management options. These settings will automatically suspend or power down your computer after a certain amount of time if the computer keyboard or mouse has not been used. It is essential that you turn off all power management settings in your notebook.

    You can access your power management settings through your desktop power management settings or through your bios (depending on your computer and the Windows version you are using).

    If you need to enter your BIOS, consult the help section of Windows or your notebook manual or manufacturer on how to enter your bios. After entering your bios or power management settings from the desktop, turn off all power management functions.

  • Turn off your screen saver function.
  • Turn off the virus detector.
  • For some software programs and some notebooks, you will need to turn off your virus detector in order to avoid having your computer “crash” during real-time.

    You can turn off your virus detector each time you boot up or you can go into the startup section (click on “start,” go to “run,” type in “msconfig,” then go to the “startup” tab and uncheck the virus detector options.

  • Set up real-time features.
  • Every software is a little different, but they all will have a menu or setup somewhere in the program to set up your real-time features. The setup will usually ask for the make of your writer and additional information.

  • Attach communication cable to the back of your stenowriting machine and to the serial port on your computer.
  • Start real-time session.
  • After doing this setup, when you are ready to begin your session of writing, you will choose your real-time writing option and/or tab. Your software ask that you name your software and will usually require that you write a few strokes on your machine so the software senses the communication from your writer.

  • Edit in real-time.
  • When in real-time, your software will allow you to edit the actual session you are writing or any other file you may choose to work on at a break. Adding dictionary defines during the day will make your real-time translation improve as the day goes on.

Starting Interactive Real-time

  • Attach the second communication cable to your notebook second serial port and to the computer serial port to which you are outputting data.
  • Start your real-time/output session.
  • With some software, once you set up your software to do interactive real-time, it will automatically send the data to a second computer every time. Other software programs require that you start your real-time and enable the output each time.

    Some reporter software requires that the browser program file be opened before starting the real-time file in your software. With other reporter software programs, the real-time file can be opened at any time as long as you are hooked up and your output feature is enabled, and then anytime thereafter that the bench officer opens her/his browser real-time file, the real-time feed will start from that point forward. You will know how your software interfaces with browser programs only by trial and error.

    Multiple Hookups for Interactive Real-time

  • Multiple output device. Output options and setups do not change. Again, most reporter software vendors carry these devices.

Beyond Nuts and Bolts

Becoming proficient with reporter technology is one of the most important avenues we as reporters have to show to the public, lawyers, and the courts how indispensable we are to the judicial process. It is important to understand basic functions of your computer and your reporter software. Use your manual and do the tutorials sent with your software program. The more knowledgeable you are about your software, the more comfortable you will be doing real-time for yourself and others.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email Paige Moser at