At the end of December, the Administrative Office sent out its proposed revision of the Guide to Judiciary Policy, Vol. 6 (Court Reporting). Each USCRA officer and Circuit Representative was assigned a section of the revised manual to compare with the present manual. Significant differences were to be listed with suggestions and explanations for further revision or reasons to retain the current wording. Those lists were gathered and are currently being reviewed by our Committee on Legislation and Regulations. They will be formulating a response which will go the Board for review, be shared with our members through an eBlast, and then be forwarded to the AO to meet their February 22, 2014, deadline for comments.
The other big factor in our common lives has been the weather. No matter where you live in the United States, January has been one for the record books. I've read reports of snow where adults had never seen snow before. Places like Minnesota had to shut down interstates for the safety of its drivers. Federal courthouses in New York and Pittsburgh closed for days because of wind chill factors in the range of thirty below zero.
We have listened to newscasters tells us to dress in layers, keep skin surfaces covered while exposed to the elements, and to keep that exposure to a minimum. We know to keep our animals inside and to check on the frail, elderly, and our friends, neighbors, and relatives who may be in ill health.
Something we may forget about checking, though, is our precious and expensive equipment that we rely upon day in and day out. Please indulge me as I remind you of a few items from Electronics 101 to help get you through to springtime.
First, electronics like extreme temperatures even less than we do and function best in a range of 50 to 95 degrees, though they can withstand temperatures as low as zero. As they near the outer limits of their capacity, however, their performance begins to lag and data errors can occur. In extreme conditions they will cease to function at all. So lesson number one is to never leave your writer, laptop, or smartphone in your car.
Second, when moving your equipment from place to place, be sure to use the protective cases they came with or that you bought for that very purpose. Some reporters move solely from courtroom to chambers and back again; others move from courthouse to courthouse. Protective carriers will lengthen the life of your equipment both inside the courthouse and out; but when traveling between courthouses, it is especially important to keep your equipment protected from the heat or cold.
Third, in all probability you will find yourself one day in a situation where your writer, laptop, or smartphone has been traumatized by the weather. Cars break down, emergencies occur, and forgetfulness finds us. If your equipment has been exposed, check to see if there are any signs of condensation or water. If there are, do not turn your equipment on. Take your memory cards out and wait for the condensation to evaporate. And I can tell you from experience that placing your damp smartphone in a bowl filled with rice may actually help to draw the water away from the equipment so it becomes usable once more!
Finally, if you do rescue your equipment from an extreme environment, do not rush inside and plug it in or turn it on! Allow it sufficient time to either cool off or warm up to a normal temperature before attempting to use it again. Restarting your equipment too quickly could cause additional harm to it and could also shorten battery life.
Groundhog Day is coming up on February 2nd, which will be after this article is due to Lisa. I'll go out on my own here and guess that Punxsutawney Phil is going to predict another six weeks of winter. Please stay bundled, safe, warm, and dry (and your equipment as well) and let's look forward to a warm springtime in April in Chicago at our mid-year convention.