My Journey Through the Captioning and Court Reporting Program – Part 2

My Journey Through the Captioning and Court Reporting Program – Part 2

Last month we introduced you to Mikayla who is a student in the Captioning and Court Reporting Program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, Alberta. In Part 1 of our first article, we learned a bit about the program and what interested Mikayla to enter the program.

Now, in her second month at school, we gain a bit more insight into how she is progressing. Here we go…

1) Learning the steno machine is a big part of becoming a court reporter. How many words per minute are you writing in your second month of the program?

Quite a bit of progress was made by the month of October, I would say. By this point, we were given practice audios at three different speeds: slower, normal or medium, and a faster speed to challenge ourselves and help us work towards building our speed.

At the start of the month, we were venturing into 40wpm territory for the “normal” speed. By the end of the month, I usually opted to use the fast audios, which were 60wpm, or at least push myself to work towards them. Sometimes I was able to write them immediately, other times I had to practice using the 40wpm audio before I got the hang of it. It all came down to the difficulty of that particular lesson.

2) Tell us about the words you are learning?

At this point in the semester, we were well into writing sentences as well as multisyllabic words. One of the lessons we had was about the 150 most commonly spoken words, as well as some briefs, which were wonderfully helpful. The lessons during this time mostly focused on different types of suffixes and prefixes, and we also learned a few sounds (such as X or word endings like the “-ch” sound) that required more complex keystrokes to type.

Court Reporter and Steno Machine

3) Steno is like learning another language. Give us a little introduction to the language and some simple examples of words.

The most notable difference between steno and qwerty is the key layout. The keyboard doesn’t have all 26 letters, so you have to create the missing letters by pressing a combination of keys. For example, the letter D is created by pressing the T and K keys at the same time.

The method of typing is rather neat, too. Rather than writing words letter by letter, you write using syllables. The left side of the keyboard corresponds to the start of the syllable, then you add the vowels, and finish the sound with the right side of the keyboard. All keys are pressed at once.

A decent example would be the word “judge.” Now, because you type using the sound of the word rather than the spelling, this would be written as JUJ. On the screen, however, it would appear as “SKWRUPBLG” because of the key combinations required to create the J keys. Honestly, it is one of my favourite words to show people simply because it looks like, well, a bit of a mess.

Lastly, I feel the most interesting aspect of the language is the usage of briefs. You can write phrases such as “at the time”, “it was” in single keystrokes (TET and T-FS respectively,) and even longer phrases like “after the accident.” This is extremely helpful when writing at faster speeds.

4) What tricks do you use to memorize letter combinations on the steno machine? 

It gradually became muscle memory, for the most part. I did a lot of practice drills to build familiarity and limit the hesitation I had while typing. I also made sure to keep track of common errors so I could work to correct bad habits quicker. Overall, despite the different layout and typing style, I would say it’s similar to learning how to type using a QWERTY keyboard. It’s just a whole lot of memorization and familiarity.

We were also allowed to look at a chart of the key layout in the first few weeks. This was helpful at first, but by October most people had the layout memorized fairly well.

5) Tell us about the workload you are experiencing in the course. How much time do you spend on various classes during the day and tell us about what you have for homework?

The schedule differs depending on the day, but on average there are about six hours of class time per week dedicated to typing. It’s pretty evenly split between live dictation and self-led practice. We then have about an hour of class per day that focuses on getting familiar with the transcription software and learning to use the editing features available to us. The remainder of class time is divided fairly equally between English and law. And of course, there’s always the recommended two hours of typing practice after class. It is a fairly heavy workload, although manageable once you get used to it.

The main focus is mostly on the steno and English classes. Of course, the other classes are still important! Typing just requires more time to learn, and English is really important in this field. I did notice more emphasis was placed on those classes, sometimes.

Did you miss Part 1 of our series? If so, read it here.

NAIT Captioning and Court Reporting LogoWant to learn more? NAIT offers the Discover Steno series of free workshops that will introduce applicants to the captioning and court reporting career as well as assess foundational competencies for success in the program.

Workshops will be held on Monday evenings and will take six weeks (15 to 18 hours) to complete.

My Journey Through the Captioning and Court Reporting Program – Part 2

My Journey Through the Captioning and Court Reporting Program – Part 1

Becoming a court reporter is a challenge. Of all the people that start the program, only a small percentage will finish and work in the industry. That, factored with a high number of older court reporters retiring, is why we are starting to see a shortage.

However, with some recent pushes by the National Court Reporters Association and local associations across the country, there is a campaign in place to bring the opportunities that this job offers to the forefront.

Court Reporting Student Mikayla LentzAs part of IR’s commitment to our industry we have connected with a new student, Mikayla Lentz, who is attending at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology – NAIT – and we will follow her journey over the next couple of years. Each month we will speak with her on various levels she is going through and learn more about what it takes to get through this program through the eyes of a student.

Let’s get our conversation with Mikayla started!

Q:        What first interested you in the Captioning and Court Reporting (CACR) program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology – NAIT?

Mikayla:          I heard about the program through my grandmother, and it was due to her that I first got intrigued. It seemed like a job that would be interesting, yet not quite a hobby. I always tried to aim for a job that was enjoyable; however, I felt somewhat hesitant to consider jobs that I enjoyed a lot. Essentially, I wanted a job that I couldn’t drain the life out of, so to speak. The last thing I wanted was to turn something fun into a chore, so I definitely wanted something that was new, unfamiliar, and yet still interesting.

After hearing about the program, I decided it would be a good fit and definitely worth a try. I would get to learn a new, fairly hands-on skill and probably hear some interesting cases on the job, both of which are quite appealing to me.

Q:        What made you decide to enter the captioning and court reporting program at NAIT?

Mikayla:          As I read further into the profession, I decided to pursue it. The main factors that came into play were the pay and the security of the field. The pay, from what I have read, seems to be sufficient enough to provide a fair opportunity for growth in my future. As for the security aspect, I have heard quite frequently that there is a shortage of court reporters. Assuming you make it through the schooling, the job availability is definitely a strong benefit, in my opinion. With regard to the school, I found that the tuition costs at NAIT are relatively fair compared to other schools I have heard about.

Q:        Were there any advance preparation classes that you participated in, and would you recommend these to anyone interested in the program?

Mikayla:          Yes, yes, and yes! I attended NAIT’s Discover Steno workshop, which is a six-week course provided by the university. It is also a requirement for competitive entry into the actual CACR program, and it is completely free of charge.

During the class, you get the chance to become acquainted with the stenotype machine. You will learn the keyboard layout, the manner of writing used, some punctuation, and eventually finish off with basic sentences. All of this material is covered in the first two weeks of the CACR program, so this workshop is definitely an extremely useful asset.

I would recommend taking this course if the program is of interest to you. Not only does it give you a chance to get a head start on the program, but it is a great opportunity to help you figure out if you would enjoy it before committing to a full semester. And of course, you don’t have to pay a penny. Honestly, it couldn’t get any better than that.

Q:        Tell us about your first few weeks in the course and what that was like.

Mikayla:          I expected the CACR program to be difficult compared to high school, of course, but it still caught me off guard.

As mentioned, the first few weeks of classes are centred around the concepts learned in Discover Steno. The difference is, however, you learn a new concept every day, rather than every week. At first, it seemed quite fast-paced, and admittedly it did feel a bit overwhelming. Eventually, though, I got used to the flow of the course, especially with assistance from the instructors. Despite the brisk pace, the course has a pretty good environment, which I would credit to the instructors. They are friendly, supportive, informative, and they are some of the best teachers I have ever had.

I would recommend keeping your steno writer from the workshop over the summer break. Even if you only practice occasionally during summer, I am sure it would make a difference in maintaining your familiarity with writing!

Q:        Did those first weeks change your perception of the course and how you thought it would be?

Mikayla:          I knew it would be a difficult course, but getting used to the quick pace, new software, and the new learning environment was a bit stressful at times. I realized I would have to focus on my studies more than anticipated, too. You need to have a good level of organization, motivation, and a fair bit of work-life balance. Minimizing stress was important for me because whenever I was stressed, I had a tendency to doubt myself or get frustrated with my shorthand progression. Also, I suppose this goes along with being organized, time management skills are very important.

Socially, it was more comfortable than I expected, honestly. I’m not entirely sure what I expected, but it was nice.

Q:        What were the initial challenges you faced with the program and how did you overcome these?

Mikayla:          It certainly forced me to figure out my study habits. Deciding how to balance leisure, work, and shorthand practice was hard to get used to, at first. The instructors recommended about two hours of typing practice per day, ideally uninterrupted. This was difficult for someone like myself, who usually never studied more than ten minutes before a test in high school.

I had to cut back on the amount of shifts I worked and make a more solid routine for myself. The structure helped, especially when I found the times of day that allowed me to focus best. I set aside that time for practice, but I also made sure to give myself enough time for leisure as well. Practice is good, but I certainly didn’t want to burn myself out.

If you have good study habits and experience with higher workloads, you’re already off to a good start!

Q:        You’re taking this course online due to the current COVID protocols. What benefits or challenges you are facing with the remote atmosphere of the course?

Mikayla:          Well, being able to sleep in is a nice perk!

On a more serious note, really, the extra time is a huge benefit. No more waking up at 6:00, no more freezing bus stops or unpredictable winter driving. I can finish my class and immediately begin practicing, rather than having to drive home for 30 minutes or bus for longer. I’m sure many of my classmates would agree with me on this, too.

Although I know a lot of people deeply despise online school these days, I feel this course is able to be delivered very easily and clearly in an online format. I haven’t had any issues with it so far. The material is explained well, and the teachers are always available to provide assistance.

In terms of socializing, it is definitely lacking a bit, but we make do with what we have! A few of the students get together weekly after class to hang out, grab a few snacks and chat for an hour or so. The lack of in-person interaction does give a surprising benefit to class, however. Being able to text questions, rather than verbally asking them, is an interesting plus side to online learning. It’s less disruptive, almost, as you don’t have to wait for a break in the teacher’s monologue to get your question in. You can ask more questions without disturbing the class, and you don’t have to worry about missing the answers when the lessons are recorded.

It has been rather odd to adjust to, but not too terrible overall!

Join us again next month where we discuss how Mikayla has progressed.

Want to learn more about becoming a court reporter? If you are in Alberta, NAIT offers one of the best programs in North America. You can learn more with NAIT and introduce yourself with the Discover Steno program.
To sign up for the March/April introduction, click here.
Or sign up for the May/June introduction by clicking here.

If you are in other parts of Canada or the United States, look further at the National Court Reporters Association website for other options.

Court Reporters – Alberta Stage 2 Relaunch

Court Reporters – Alberta Stage 2 Relaunch

Alberta Relaunch – Stage 2 – Court Reporter Services

With offices slowly opening and some people going back to work at their offices with the Alberta Stage 2 guidelines, here’s what we are seeing with the scheduling of court reporters into late summer and the fall of 2020.

Remote Video Discovery

This remains the primary choice for people who are scheduling court reporters for the questioning of witnesses.

Using remote video connections continues to provide clients with the comfort and safety of minimizing interaction with others, even if they are at their own office. Litigators have become comfortable with using a remote connection to conduct their questioning. With the ability to see the witness, present exhibits and speak with other parties comfortably and reduce travel, using video connections have allowed lawyers to continue litigating.

Independent Reporters will continue to provide our remote video connections at no charge as we continue to move forward through the pandemic.

As well, coordination with all counsel and witnesses will be arranged in advance by our office. This process helps to ensure that all attendees are well versed in using the remote video and minimizes any delays at the start of your discovery.

In-Office Questionings

Independent Reporters has begun to take requests to have court reporters attend law offices to take the evidence of witnesses.

In most of these bookings, we are noticing some counsel or other parties still wish to be connected and attend remotely. No problem! Let us know who the remote parties will be and we can work with your office to facilitate the remote video connection.

For an in-office job, and when most of the attendees will be present, Independent Reporters will have our court reporter also attend and be socially distanced. This gives the court reporter a better understanding of who is speaking in the discovery. In some larger boardrooms, it may be difficult to have all the attendees on the video screen. In these instances, the court reporter will likely attend in person.

Using IR’s Boardroom

Our boardrooms in Calgary and Edmonton remain available for clients to use.

Should you want to schedule at our offices, we will need to know how many people will be attending so that we can limit and ensure proper spacing for all parties that will attend.

We also ask that for anyone attending our office that only parties required to be in the room be present. Our internal policy is that no person can be seated in our waiting room to maintain the proper number of people in our office space.

Scheduling court reporting services for upcoming files

Need to book a court reporter? You can call and provide the information or you may use our online scheduling form.

Benefits of Realtime Court Reporting Services

Benefits of Realtime Court Reporting Services

Using Realtime in Complex Litigation – Trials – Hearings – Arbitrations

While realtime court reporting services is not a new technology – Independent Reporters has been providing this service for 25+ years – many lawyers are not familiar with the benefits of using a realtime court reporter in a large or complex discovery, trial, hearing or arbitration.

We all have come to realize that today’s technology has given rise to a culture of immediate access to information through a search or news feed. Realtime transcript services are provided with similar intent, instant access to read and review live testimony, cross-examination or argument during a proceeding.

When using realtime transcription in legal settings, every person in that session can benefit by having the text accessible, searchable and available to review, live. It has been shown that lawyers using realtime services have a greater comprehension of evidence as listening to, AND reading, the live testimony gives the user a deeper memory of what was said in the proceedings. There is less chance of missing key testimony while you are writing manual notes while trying to retain ongoing evidence. By having a realtime screen in front of you, marking a section of testimony is as simple as hitting the space bar to come back and reference later. Your focus remains on what is occurring in the room and what other counsel may be referencing that you may need to note for later preparation.

In a nutshell, realtime translation requires a live connection to the court reporter’s computer and a program on your device. Unlike the past where we would run wires to connect computers through a network or serial ports, today this is all done with wireless access. For larger proceedings, we can provide remote access to other parties that may not be in the room where the live proceedings are taking place. This is useful for your research team to monitor certain issues and provide essential information back to the team at the proceedings. More about these benefits later.

While not all proceedings may warrant the use of realtime transcription, it is especially crucial in ongoing cases with lots of information, witnesses and extended sitting days where keeping on top of all transpiring information is important. Using realtime court reporting services can greatly improve the speed a proceeding moves along.

It is also important to note that not all reporters can provide realtime. At Independent Reporters, we work closely in providing training to develop a strong team or realtime writers. Experience and time spent by our court reporters in developing their skills, understanding how to make the most of their software and dictionary are key factors. Also, IR has a technical support team that works with clients to understand their exact needs and provide the necessary solutions to ensure all a client’s needs are met. From a simple setup of two recipients to having 25 or more users in various locations across the country, we can do it all with a complete understanding of the technology and support the platforms.

What are the benefits of realtime reporting? Let’s have a look.

Instant Access to the Transcript

During the discovery, trial, hearing or arbitration, counsel can view the transcript instantly on a laptop or tablet and follow along during the deposition/trial. This allows for efficient questioning of the witness and the ability to review any previous questions/answers/testimony given if needed.
While viewing the live transcript immediately as it is being taken down, counsel, board members, or the presiding judge can better know if they need to ask follow-up questions or further questions on earlier testimony.

Add a Quick Mark – Search – Make Notes – Create Reports of Live Testimony

Using our realtime software you can easily mark the current testimony by hitting the space bar and add in a quick mark to easily find text later for review at a break.
Do you need to search for keywords of earlier testimony? No problem. You can enter text, search and find all instances of that word in the testimony. Another useful feature is the ability to create Boolean or proximity searches.
You can make notes and attach that to areas of the testimony for your use in cross-examination or re-examination.
And finally, create reports based on any of the above functions and export those out at a break or the end of the day to help you further prepare for the next day.

Remote Attendance and Access

Sometimes having a large team on-site is impractical. With internet access from the main proceeding room, IR can provide remote access to co-counsel, paralegals, support staff or expert witnesses to participate from their own office. The remote text stream can be text-only or we can also add streaming video and audio.

Increased Efficiency and Process

At the end of each day, your court reporter will provide you with a rough draft of the transcript. We do a quick review of the file, then typically about one-hour later you will have a cleaned-up draft. This gives you time well before the next day to prepare. Cost-effective and convenient, the rough drafts are available to you before the final certified official transcript is completed.
Many of our clients will rely solely on using the daily draft transcript during the entire process and order certified transcripts on a normal delivery timeline. This avoids the cost of daily certified transcript production and reduces costs to your client.

Get In Touch

Do you have a large discovery case, trial, hearing or arbitration where you would like to review the options for how these services may be beneficial? Give us a call and we can review your needs, discuss options and provide solutions in any situation you may have.

Calgary and Edmonton Court Reporting Offices Open

Calgary and Edmonton Court Reporting Offices Open

Well, we haven’t really been closed as our services were essential to the legal community, but since things are reopening, we want to let you know about the standards and protocols we will have in place at our Calgary and Edmonton offices. Independent Reporters will continue to provide remote court reporting services to our legal clients anywhere they may be working from in the province. Our services include providing court reporters for remote questioning, remote realtime court reporting services for trials, arbitrations and tribunals and also hosting mediations.

Independent Reporters is following the Alberta Biz Connect Workplace Guidance in our offices. Please note the following guidelines our team is adhering to during the prescribed requirements as required by the government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services.

  • IR Team Members are required to wear face masks unless the employee is working alone in an enclosed or personal area without others in the same location.
  • Visitors to our building are to follow the entrance and exit markings when entering our main floor lobby. There will also be postings on where to wait for elevators and the number of people in elevators. Please follow these guidelines.
    Our building is also taking extra cleaning measures with increased disinfecting on frequent contact points and using a solution that meets the standards of ASH (EP50).
  • Upon entering our building please use the hand sanitizer located in all elevator banks before entering the elevators.
  • Visitors are highly encouraged to wear face masks unless the visitor is working alone in an enclosed area within our office. (Face masks are NOT provided by IR)
  • Social Distancing within our office space is to be practiced by maintaining a two-metre or six-foot distance from others while in IR offices. Extra chairs in boardrooms will be removed to allow for defining acceptable social distancing while conducting discoveries.
  • Frequent cleaning and sanitizing of all high touch areas in our office will be performed by our staff.
  • Court reporters and staff are to wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizer that is provided throughout the office.
  • All court reporters and staff will avoid sharing office equipment such as pens, phones, and keyboards.
  • All commonly used spaces & conference rooms will be stocked with disinfectant cleaner and hand sanitizer, which should be used frequently.
  • Avoid any handshaking or touching during introductions.
  • Witnesses will primarily be affirmed, however, if taking an oath on the Bible is preferred, this will be covered in plastic.

Please remember if you are not feeling well, you should stay home. If you are sick or appear to be sick, we may ask you to return home. We all must do our part in protecting ourselves and minimizing the risk of infection.

CMOH Order 05-2020 legally obligates individuals who have a cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose, or sore throat (that is not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition) to be in isolation for 10 days from the start of symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, whichever takes longer.

Local Edmonton Court Reporting Company Supporting Local Businesses

Local Edmonton Court Reporting Company Supporting Local Businesses

Our Court Reporters Support Other Local Businesses!

Edmonton Independent Reporters is an Alberta-owned court reporting company. We’re not owned by a corporation from the United States, nor are we managed by people who are not from Alberta. We are local and, by being Albertans, we know our strength comes from working with other Alberta companies

Like other businesses in this province we believe that it is important to support businesses in Edmonton and area so that we can continue to prosper once things start to return to the new normal after the COVID-19 pandemic passes. This will only help to ensure we continue to provide the necessary services in our community to keep our local economy moving and strong.

Why Support Local Business?

When any of us buys or uses services from a company in Alberta, we all benefit. Yes, it is sometimes hard because the larger corporations make it more convenient or advertise they have a wider selection, we tend to believe many items cannot be found from a local business. However, in many instances and with a little research, you can likely what you need from a local company. The people that run these businesses are our neighbours, friends, coaches or family members. Why would we not support these people instead of sending your money to an unknown corporate behemoth?

Services That Excel

Since this pandemic has hit, court reporters started to offer services remotely. But did you know that Independent Reporters has been providing lawyers with the capability to take the testimony of witnesses by video connection for over 15 years?

In fact, Independent Reporters may well be the most experienced company in Canada that offers remote questioning. We know how to do this and we’ve been doing it longer than many of the corporate companies have been in business. That experience over the years has helped us to smoothly transition lawyers to quickly allow our clients to move to a remote option of questioning witnesses by video without any issues. Our staff and team have provided video connections to every continent on the planet, except Antarctica. Doing this is nothing new for us. We well understand how these services work and provide support.

Let’s All Support Other Local Edmonton Companies

We asked our court reporters for other local companies that they are buying from at this time and who they will continue to support in the future. IR would like you to consider the same and when you are looking for any products or services, please do think about spending your money with these local businesses.

Local Business Name Type of Business Address Website
Eldor-Wal Court Runners 1200, 10123 99 ST NW
Contemporary Office Interiors Office Furnishings 10406 124 Street NW
Milk & Cookies Bake Shop Bakery 5532 Calgary Trail NW
The Colombian Coffee Shop #1, 10340-134 Street NW
Italian Centre Shop Groceries/Food Products 3 locations in Edmonton
Polish Food Centre Groceries/Food Products 10131 Princess Elizabeth Ave NW No website
Polonia Sausage & Deli Groceries/Food Products 10135 Princess Elizabeth Ave NW No website
H & W Produce Groceries/Food Products 5 locations in Edmonton
The Growlery Local Craft Bbeer 40 Airport Road
Sowing Seeds Naturally Natural Facial Products and All-Purpose Spray Cleaner Facebook Only
Rig Hand Distillery Nisku-Based Distillery 2104 8 St, Bay B, Nisku
Evoolution Olive Oil, Vinegar and Salts 10130 104 Street NW

And of course, when you are looking to schedule any upcoming services where you need a court reporter, we ask that you also support Independent Reporters and book a court reporter with us online or by calling us to book court reporting services in Edmonton.


Remote Discovery Proceedings Security

Remote Discovery Proceedings Security

What steps does Independent Reporters take to maximize security for remote discovery?

Remote discovery and questioning witnesses that are not present in rooms with counsel and a court reporter are now the current norms during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has raised questions on how Independent Reporters (IR) is providing remote services to clients and reducing concerns for clients using remote video connections? Here’s how!

  • Independent Reporters will have a set login and password protection on all remote discoveries and mediations. Each discovery has it’s own unique ID and password and none of these are recycled.
  • We will always ensure that we provide the session ID and password only to individuals that are needed to attend the remote video discovery. This ensures minimal chance of a party outside of the session having access.
  • All parties are tested in advance with the same session they will use for the upcoming remote questioning.
  • IR uses the “Waiting Room” feature and monitors this so that only participants on the list can join. Participants are held in the waiting room until our administrator confirms attendees, then opens the room.
  • The Chat feature is disabled. This avoids any situation where a malicious link could be shared or comments are sent to parties that they were not intended to receive.
  • We will always have an administrative technician on hand who monitors the platform. This allows us to ensure no one else can gain access.
  • With Chat disabled there is no way to share documents through the Chat functions. Instead, if any exhibits need to be shared, this is done through the Screen Share function. (Ask us how to use this in the training)
  • IR will ALWAYS provide training before and support during the meetings to ensure all parties are comfortable in using the platform.
  • Independent Reporters is always reviewing new security enhancements available with the online platforms we use and ensuring our systems are always up to date.

We currently utilize two platforms for the backbone for IR Connect – Zoom and WebEx. This provides clients with options. While our preference is Zoom as it is more robust, provides better video and audio and is easier to use, WebEx is also available. We recently did a review of traffic and server usage that may be of interest to those that want to better understand how these platforms send data. You can click here to learn more about this report.

And to schedule a court reporter for remote services you can find our online booking pages here. As always the traditional method of giving us a call is also available. Here is how to contact our Calgary and Edmonton offices.

IR Connect Remote Technical Review

IR Connect Remote Technical Review

Zoom vs WebEx Technical Comparison Traffic Test

With all the current media coverage surrounding the security of the Zoom platform, IR has conducted internal technical tests to determine which platform we are supporting going forward.

IR believes both platforms work and are secure for our usage. We offer WebEx as an alternative to Zoom if for any reason a client does not want to use it. However, IR prefers the quality of the video, audio and simplicity of use in Zoom over WebEx.  As a small business ourselves, we like to support them. Although Zoom is no longer in this category, we have been supporting them since they were once a small business.

Zoom and WebEx both operate in similar ways, both establish a connection to one of their servers and then data is transmitted to the other computer in the connection.


Zoom establishes a connection with a single server, hosted with AWS (Amazon Web Services), based in the USA. A small amount of data is transmitted over this connection, it is a standard secured TCP port 443, similar to most current web traffic. The bulk of the data (video + audio) is then sent directly to the other computer participating in the call, which has also established a connection to the AWS server. We only have access to basic statistical software for web tracking purposes as we are not a software engineering firm. The assumptions on data patterns point towards a connection to the AWS server to ensure both parties are on the same call, and then to transmit data directly between the parties.

This will bring us to the first publicized concern about Zoom claiming end-to-end encryption. As the data is sent via UDP, encryption isn’t possible as it is only supported on a TCP connection. However, current IP based video conference software, supplied mostly by Cisco and Polycom, and used by courthouses and governments across the country is also UDP based, which isn’t encrypted. All VPN servers where someone can remote connect to an office computer is also UDP based. It is a direct tunnel, which doesn’t confirm where data is going, it just assumes it is going to the right location since a secure connection was established previously telling it where to go.

The second common Zoom complaint is “Zoom-Bombing.” This addressed people trying to gain access to Zoom meetings by randomly generating the Meeting ID codes to show up to unrestricted meetings causing havoc. IR has addressed this issue by requiring passwords in place for all Zoom meetings, as well as restricting guest access. Our usage of Zoom is similar to being in a small boardroom where it is obvious if someone enters who isn’t supposed to be present. The Zoom-Bombing issue leans towards a company that may be hosting large meetings with hundreds of attendees, similar to being in a conference hall where controlling access can be more difficult.

The third issue which sparked initial debate involved someone generating a link in the chat. When someone clicked this link, it would automatically send that person windows login credentials. This isn’t new, and technically is a Windows security flaw, of which Windows and other operating systems have had and been around for years without being addressed. The general good practice that most people follow is not to click on unknown email links. The same applies to any online chatroom, including WebEx.


When a WebEx meeting is started, a connection is established with a Cisco Server, on the same TCP 443 secure port. The difference is the mass bulk of the data is transferred through that connection to multiple US, and in our test case, Netherlands-based Cisco Servers. Multiple servers are required to send the video and audio data because a secure TCP connection is much slower than a direct UDP connection to the other party. In our test case, we could see up to 15 different servers in use, 14 in the USA and 1 in the Netherlands. Again, we cannot see individual packet data, but all the video data was transmitted in this manner. The assumption here is that to maintain the speed required to transmit video, several servers are needed. This is a similar way in which the older free Skype platform functioned, except Skype didn’t use secure ports. We cannot tell if this connection is encrypted, and it is important to note a very large difference in a secure vs encrypted transmission of data. Very few items can be properly encrypted, and it is a very difficult approach for a video feed due to the size of the data. Typically, the initial request to establish a connection between 2 parties can be encrypted, but the video data itself would be difficult if sent on a real-time basis.

This type of connection to several servers to transmit data does delay transmissions slightly, but mostly shows a reduction in AV quality in the connection. Cisco has a lot of servers, it shouldn’t show a big reduction, but theoretically, the more people using it the slower the connection would need to be as servers reach capacity. In the current landscape Internet traffic is becoming an issue with how much data is being sent around everywhere, so we’d likely see connection issues on both Cisco and Zoom platforms deteriorating from home and office-based internet overload before a server slowdown.

Our Conclusion

This analysis was done in house, by people who have been technology focused since before Windows existed. The rapid expansion of the digital age brings tons of questions about many things, security included, and unfortunately, a lot of the answers provided by these companies can raise more questions than they answer. The best we can do its try to form an educated opinion about choosing a way we are comfortable doing something given all the information available.

We operate a more hands-on mentality when it comes to security and control of our equipment, and still hold house in-house servers in place of cloud-based options. IR does not use any third party ISP-provided routers due to our own internal security concerns and we only use commercial level equipment that can be properly monitored. Most people we talk to think this is overkill, but we don’t feel the ISP needs to be aware of the computers on our network.

This summary is in no way intended to endorse one company over another, and IR will continue to offer clients a choice of service through this time frame in order for everyone to try to be able to continue to work as efficiently as possible through the current landscape.

Contact us to learn more or book online to arrange remote court reporting services for your upcoming discoveries.


How To Still Depose A Witness During COVID-19 Outbreak

How To Still Depose A Witness During COVID-19 Outbreak

 During this unprecedented time of dealing with COVID-19, we are receiving questions from clients about what they can do to question a witness. Many people do not want to meet and remain in the safety of their trusted office space or remaining at home.

The solution is something that Independent Reporters can assist you with – Remote Questioning. For the time during the COVID-19 outbreak, Independent Reporters will waive our normal video connection fees for these services.

What do you need to do?
First, discuss with the parties that you will arrange a remote questioning using the IR Connect service. Then call us, let us know the dates you need and the parties that will need to be in attendance. This will include other counsel and the witness(es) if they will also be remote.

What equipment do you need?
If you have videoconferencing services at your office, we will work with your IT department to ensure connectivity is not a problem.

If you don’t have any systems in place at your office, no problem. We can provide an encrypted link that will allow you to use your computer, laptop or tablet. You will just need to make sure you have a webcam and speakers. Other parties will need the same.

What platforms will this work with?
We can work with operating systems that include Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebooks and Android. Our systems also allow for connecting other parties and witnesses with their own devices. This includes desktop PCs, laptops, tablets or smartphones.

What are the costs of these additional services?
There will be no fees billed during the time of the outbreak. We will also waive any fees related to bridging services to connect older proprietary systems.

Why use IR Connect over something I have on my personal computer? 
IR Connect uses broadcast-grade services and encryption. These systems are designed for business and are typically point-to-point versus sharing resources on consumer platforms.

Where will the court reporter be?
Our court reporters can still attend at one of the locations if that is preferred. However, we understand the desire for everyone to minimize contact and, if preferred, the court reporting services will also be provided remotely. Your court reporter will also be on video and take down the testimony as they normally would.

Contact us to learn more or book online to arrange court reporting services for your upcoming discoveries.


Schedule Court Reporting Services in Edmonton or Calgary in 4 Easy Steps

Schedule Court Reporting Services in Edmonton or Calgary in 4 Easy Steps

Setting Up Court Reporting Services in Calgary and Edmonton Just Got Easier!

You’re busy. You’ve just finished setting up all the parties and agreed upon dates, times and everything else that goes along with scheduling the deposition of a witness.

Now, the next step, scheduling the court reporter in Calgary or Edmonton. Do you call Independent Reporters or go online and use their traditional scheduling page? Doing the latter will mean you now need to re-type all the details you already laid out in the appointment form.

What if there was an easier way? What if you could book court reporting services for this questioning in 4 easy steps and be finished that task in about 30 seconds? Not possible, right?

Is It Possible To Speed Up The Time It Takes To Schedule A Court Reporter?

Well, yes, now it is possible! How? Simply use our new Quick Book by IR form and you will be on to all the rest of the things you have to deal with in your day. Using this form could not be easier. Enter your name, email, phone number, then click the icon to attach the appoint form or deposition notice, then submit. Just like that, it is on the way to us. Once we receive your scheduling request we will use that information, input the details and provide you with confirmation back by email, usually within an hour.

And remember, all online bookings received by Independent Reporters means that we will send $1 to the Humane Society in either Calgary of Edmonton. We’re always looking to donate more than we did in the previous year so help us to help the animals. Schedule your upcoming court reporting services online and help us to add to the amount of donation at the end of the year.

Of course, you can still schedule services by phone – Contact Us – or by using our traditional Online Booking Form. But to save more time, why not try Quick Book by IR? Click here to try it today. We think you will like it!