If your holidays favored you with the gift of a new computer you may be bursting with excitement and eager to get started, just as soon as you get that last job on your “old” system done. However, you can’t just dive into a relationship with new hardware; you need to know whether the system you were gifted is equipment you can actually use. While the old saying about not looking a gift horse in the mouth is certainly good advice and of course, you should be polite and thank the person for their generosity, you can’t depend on this particular horse for your work until you check it out!
When someone buys a computer for you, they may not realize that it’s similar to buying you a new suit. They may have chosen your gift because it was attractive on the rack or a fantastic sale item or look like something they might wear, but is it right for you? Unless you gave them your specs ahead of time or they’re a court reporter themselves, a computer they pick out based on what looked good to them isn’t necessarily going to be good for you. Just as a good suit needs to be the right size, length, cut and shape to work for you, a computer also has to “fit” you – it needs the right operating system and have the right components to meet the needs of a court reporter, and your personal job requirements which are going to be different than other computer users and may be different even from your fellow reporters.
You will have to determine whether a gift computer will work for you, and if it doesn’t fit, whether it can be tailored to fit, or whether you are better off returning it and getting something more appropriate.
Step one, before you even open the box, is to check the specs. Compare them with CATalyst’s minimum requirements, which are listed at stenographsolutions.com.
The most common error our generous and well-meaning but not court-reporter-business-savvy friends and relatives make is purchasing a computer with an operating system we can’t use. People who aren’t in the industry may not know that if you’re going to use it for realtime or transcript production, you cannot use a tablet with Android or Chrome OS or “Windows 10 ARM” or “Windows 10 S” which are limited operating systems designed specifically for apps from those manufacturers’ app stores. A Chromebook or a Galaxy tablet or a Windows Surface Pro X won’t cut it for you: and they can’t be updated to the Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Home OS that you need; the hardware was specifically designed for a different processor and operating system. So if it has the wrong OS, you’ll need to return it or exchange it for another system.
Also, while most PC laptops installed with Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Home will probably have sufficient processing speed and memory for your CAT software, there are a number of other considerations such as the size of the screen, the weight of the system, the audio recording capabilities, ports for your peripherals, the type and layout of the keyboard: none of these are “standard” on every system and what you need to do your work may not be on a system that was gifted to you! In some cases you may be able to add a peripheral (such as an external keyboard or an external sound card and microphone) to make the system work; in other cases, it may be better to return it and get something else.
TIP: If you find that your gift computer will meet your needs, or once you’ve exchanged it for one that will work for you, your next step will be to get it set up. When you do, take advantage of the free Case CATalyst Setup Guide: it will walk you through getting your new computer ready to use.