WHICH CAT SYSTEM SHOULD I GET?
Yeah, there have been a lot of changes in the
past five or six years. What system to get is always a tough question.
Reporters (thus, the potential work you'll find) run the gamut of all
systems - some are still on their original CAT software from years ago,
some have updated and/or changed systems as technology has changed. rtf
(rich text format) is a means to convert files with which all current
CAT vendors are *attempting* to be compatible. It's not a 100%
successful conversion yet; for example, when I import an Eclipse
file via RTF into my TurboCat, it loses the flags that make centered
things centered, but it's easy enough for the reporter to fix that when
they get the job back.
Whether or not you want a true Windows-based system might affect your
choice. Eclipse and CaseCat are two that are, but again, running a DOS
system can be just fine (TurboCat is DOS). The old-faithful Xscribe
2001 product (Model 2001, not year 2001) can't seem to run on anything
faster than the original pentium I PC, but there has been a lot of work on
2001. (Update 5/04: Just last month I finally retired my XEC-2001 key... )
If you want to buy a new system and keep current on the technical
support payments, you will be able to get all the updates to your
system. Or, to save some startup money, you might want to buy a used
system w/o tech support and just be able to hang your shingle out there
and get started, maybe buying a new system later on.
So try to determine if you have a potential source of work, what systems
reporters you know are on (who might give you work), what system(s)
is/are popular in your local area, and check the scopist-wanted ads and
see what people need out there. In our list's Links section (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/scopistssupportgroup/links) is a folder called
Scopist & CR Sites where you can post an ad for free and also read the
help-wanted ads. This might give you a starting point.
Whichever system you start with, odds are you'll be able to find some
work and then decide if you'll stay with that one for a while or add a
second one. I'd say most busy scopists do have more than one system.
I used to work in an agency that had 38 reporters. Most of them used either
Premier Power or Catalyst. There were a few on Eclipse, a few on Aristocat,
and a couple on TurboCat/Cheetah, and one on Xscribe (for whom I now
I had to use all of them daily, on a limited basis. I already knew
Aristocat quite well, but I would say otherwise Case is the easiest. But I
would also say that they are all basically interchangeable.
I think the suggestion of calling a few agencies is good.
If price is an issue, definitely check them all out. I really like
and it's $1,000 less than a full version of Case. I also found it easy to
learn and troubleshoot.
...get on the phone and start calling agencies to find out what the reporters
While that may work with *some* agencies, I did that back in my early
days and of the agencies here in Houston I called, they didn't know what
the reporters used.
I agree this is one of *the* hardest decisions to make. Asking the CAT
vendors a question like, How many new users have you had in the past
year? might also help in making the decision. Eclipse and CaseCat are
the two hottest kids on the block right now (RTF features, Windows
based), but work can generally be found no matter what system a scopist
starts out on.
IMHO, CaseCatalyst is the best. :) (See, you're going to get varying
degrees of info on this question.)
Case's commands make sense, like using Ctrl-D for dictionary additions,
Ctrl-J for job dictionary additions, Ctrl-R for replace, etc. They make
sense (unlike Eclipse - remember, this is just MY opinion - whose commands
are a jumble with no rhyme nor reason to my ordered mind).
Case is extremely fast to use, manipulate, and quick to learn the
So, let's hear it for other CAT programs that are easy to use. :)
Well, then Xscribe 2001 is it! (Too bad it's obsolete - but then
took its place)
In the defense of Eclipse and their "commands are a jumble with no rhyme nor
reason," if I understand correctly, you can configure the commands to your
liking. So someone like me who has used 2001 forever, I can make it
what I am already used to.
Someone please correct me if I'm wrong.
Which is the best (translation: most used by reporters, so that
scopists can get a lot of work) software out there?
Oh, boy. That is the No. 1 question most people ask, but I'd say the
question should be: "Where/who do I plan on getting my work from?"
If she is in an area where she may begin drawing from reporters in her
she needs to get on the phone and start calling agencies to find out what
reporters are using. That would be my best suggestion. This answer will
vary greatly on region. I know when I lived out West, they favored
(now changed to CaseCatalyst) or StenoCat. I moved East and find the
reporters are stenomaskers out here. "What's a CAT?" With the
implementation of RTF/CRE, though not perfect, does make it easier for
scopists to be able to draw work from most anyone (if they are willing to
She, too, may inquire of the CAT companies and obtain literature (and
demo, if possible in her area) so she can see how they function, the look,
the feel, the price . . . These pups are expensive, and she best darn
it and want to work with it for many, many hours of scoping fun.
For the best extensive list of CAT vendors, I would suggest going to
www.scopists.com. They have a vendors section with links to their
web sites. From there she can get info on each one and also their 800
numbers to obtain their literature.
I hope this helps a little. I'll be interested to see what others say.
DigitalCAT, CaseCatalyst, Eclipse, TurboCat, any of these programs, works
best when scopist and reporter are working on the same system.
The RTF/CRE feature is something they began programming into any of these
systems so that reporters on one system could work with a scopist on another
(after much whining in the industry of why have 5 different CAT systems.)
RTF will import and export any other system that supports RTF, but . . . .it
is not perfect. Some reporters won't mind the little glitches, such as all
colloquy ending up being left justified or not holding other formatting
features. Some do mind and won't work RTF at all.
It is completely up to you what you would like to do. DigitalCAT is a free
software for a scopist working with a reporter on DigitalCAT. (You other
gals were lucky not to be asked . . . I was, and luckily I did have a
reporter to name who was a current user.)
Why not get it. It is free. But I would highly suggest looking
into one of the other popular systems to work with, as I believe you will
find more work to support it. Stenovations is relatively new. And although
there are reporters on it, and it seems to be growing, if you have
CaseCatalyst or Eclipse or TurboCat, you will always find a reporter.
I suggest getting literature from all of the systems. You'll find an
extensive list of vendor links on scopists.com. Visit their website, call
and ask for their brochure and pricing information. Be sure to ask about
"specials,'' and if possible, a demonstration. Know what their support is,
and cost to keep it up and penalty for not keeping it up. I also suggest
that since you will be spending many hours . . . let me say, rather, many
years using the software, get what you are most comfortable using. You will
find that features that one person may really like a lot and not like in one
system is just the thing you treasure. All personal preference. Any of the
popular systems, though, you will find someone to work for. If you are
interested in working locally, you might try and find out what people in
area are using. But, I tell ya, I have not worked for anyone in my own
for many moons. It really doesn't matter, with this wonderful Internet. :-)
I hope I have been of some help and not confused you further. I'm sure
someone else will step in with something I may have missed.
Just my 2 1/2 cents.
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