17 December 2010

Seasons Greetings!

My office is now closed for the holiday season and will reopen on 4 January 2011. I would like to wish all my clients and colleagues a very Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!

14 December 2010

Copy typing solution

I no longer offer a copy typing service as there is not a lot of call for it now. However, I recently had an enquiry for some copy typing. When I said I no longer provide this service, the innovative client dictated the work onto a digital dictation machine and was able to send the sound file to me via the internet. Problem solved!

One of the reasons I no longer take on copy typing is because a few years ago I agreed to do some copy typing for a student who sent me reams of paper and the print was so small I would have needed a magnifying glass if my eyes weren't so good. Needless to say, not a pleasant job.

Therefore, if you have need of copy typing and cannot find someone who provides that service, perhaps you might consider dictating the material onto a digital recorder. You can then send the sound file via the internet for transcription.

Image attribution: By Lin Kristensen from New Jersey, USA (Books of the Past) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

04 November 2010

100% Accuracy in Transcription: Realistic or ‘Pie in the Sky’?

So if a transcription services provider guarantees 100% accuracy, does this also mean the transcript will be 100% ‘complete’ with no inaudible words? Personally I think not and other transcription services providers agree.

Now I’m going to be realistic here and say that I cannot guarantee 100% accurate transcriptions with no inaudible words. This is by no means a reflection on my abilities as a transcription services provider or my quality control procedures as you will see from the example below.

What I am confident to guarantee however, is that I will work extremely hard on your behalf to ensure that your transcripts are as complete and accurate as possible.

There are too many factors to list here that could contribute to inaudible words in a transcript, the obvious one being background noise, and even with really clear recordings it is still possible and even likely that there may be the odd inaudible.

As an example, I have transcribed four interviews for one of my clients. The sound quality was very close to broadcast standard. The first three interview transcripts were 100% complete and accurate after a full proofread against the audio.

However, the fourth interview transcript had two or three inaudible words even after the proofread. This was due to the fact that the recording device was so sensitive it was picking up on background noise when the interviewee moved in his seat, which although very slight, was enough to obscure the word spoken at that precise moment.

So you see, even with fantastically clear audio there is still no guarantee that your transcription services provider will be able to catch every word. Therefore the transcript will not be 100% accurate and ‘complete’.

So if a transcription services provider guarantees 100% accuracy, do not assume that this means 100% complete.

25 October 2010

Organic feedback: interview transcription

"Hi Sarah

Just wanted to say thank you, super fast turn-around, much appreciated!"

This is my client's organic feedback in relation to HR interview transcription. By 'organic' I mean it is feedback that the client has given with no prompt from me.

If you have a LinkedIn account you can see some recommendations for KATTS' transcription services here.

19 October 2010

Deal with a real person! Dedicated professional transcription services

If you are looking for a dedicated professional transcription services provider where you can deal with a real person, then look no further. I work on all transcriptions personally and you can speak to me by phone or via email. 

When you choose KATTS to work on your transcription project you wont get passed from pillar to post, you will deal with me and I will keep you informed every step of the way.

And of course I will provide the best service possible as ultimately I am responsible; the buck stops with me so rest assured you'll be in good hands.

To find out more visit the KATTS website

01 October 2010

Busy October-Book Early

Well October has arrived and its been a typical October day with blustery winds and rain.

The beginning of September is a traditionally quiet period for transcription services although towards the middle to end of September things have been gearing up again and it looks like October is going to be a busy month.

I'm already booked for the week commencing 4 October with an international conference transcription and another prospective conference transcription later in the month.

So my advice would be to book your transcription projects in early because remember, its first-come, first-served and projects are only firmly booked once the Project Booking Form is returned.

Happy October!

24 September 2010

Convert vob to mp3 and split audio files

I seem to be on a roll this week of converting file formats. I received a vob file from a client, which I needed to convert to mp3 for transcription. It proved really easy using Audacity which you can download free here http://audacity.sourceforge.net/.

Like everything, unless I use a program regularly I do forget how it works and I usually need to do conversions quickly so haven't got time to learn how to use new programs etc. However I find Audacity really easy to use.

So here's how to do it:

Open Audacity

File > open your vob

File > 'export as mp3'

Then give Audacity a few minutes to do its thing.

Of course Audacity can be used for much more than just converting formats. I also used it to split the converted mp3 into separate files using the Trim facility. I just highlighted the part in the audio that I needed as a separate file and clicked Edit > Trim and saved the file under a new name.

What do you use to convert file formats? If you know of any programs that are really easy to use I would be very interested to hear about them.

22 September 2010

m3u playlist - mp3 extraction fail

I was sent an m3u playlist. The client wanted an 11 minute transcription of an mp3 within the playlist, which was sourced from a website. I had to figure out how to extract the mp3 from the m3u and looked at various websites giving instructions on how to 'save as' or 'save target as'. Unfortunately I wasn't getting this option. Basically I couldn't find a quick and easy way of extracting the mp3 for transcription without downloading additional software.

So as the mp3 sound file was really clear and I only needed to transcribe 11 minutes I played it from the website and used my mobile phone Record Sound function to record the mp3. I then transferred the amr sound file from my mobile phone to my PC and used Switch to convert it from amr to mp3, which allowed me to load the mp3 into my transcription software... simple.

14 September 2010

Put feeds on Your Web Page

Off the subject of transcription services, I thought this may be useful if you are looking to put feeds on your website. I certainly found it very useful.

I wanted to put a blog feed on my website. Searches on the internet were coming up with software one could purchase and complicated (to me anyway) javascript coding.

I knew there must be an easier way of incorporating a feed into an HTML website and hey presto I found it in the form of Google AJAX Feed API. (Link removed as broken).

This enables you to 'Embed a Dynamic Feed Control on your web page and let your users see customised views of the feeds. Customise how the dynamic feed control should be displayed, and this wizard will write the code for you.'

This was perfect for what I wanted and was easy to use.

08 September 2010

Convert M4V Video File to MP3

Today I had to download an MPEG-4 video file from iTunes for transcription for a client. I was unable to load the video file into my transcription software so I had to find a conversion tool. My wonderful tech support, Jon (who is also my husband), searched and found a tool at http://www.cucusoft.com/.

I downloaded the Cucusoft iPod Movie & Video Converter. It was really easy to use and took approximately 30 minutes to convert a 60 minute MPEG-4 to MP3. Problem solved!

08 August 2010

Transcription and Editing

I was recently asked to transcribe a long and rambling interview and edit out the 'unimportant bits'. I think the client was under the impression that I would be able to edit the audio as I typed it. Unfortunately this was not the case; it would have been impossible to edit the transcript from the audio. Instead I had to transcribe the audio in its entirety and then go through it on screen to edit out what I deemed to be the 'unimportant bits' (tricky).

As I offer transcription services and editing is not something that I am normally asked for, I was unsure of what I should charge for this service. However, I came across this page at the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP), which sets out suggested minimum rates for freelancers. I found this page useful as a guide so I am sharing it with you.

29 July 2010

Convert cassette tapes to digital format for transcription

I came across a really useful article on converting cassette tapes to digital media, which I thought I would share with you: http://www.andybrain.com/archive/convert-cassette-to-cd-digital.htm

As you will see from this article it is quite easy to convert cassette tapes to digital media. This principle also works with mini cassettes, micro cassettes and minidiscs providing the respective players have a headphone jack.

Converting your own analogue-to-digital could save you money if you’re sending it to a transcription services company for transcription as you may be charged more for the conversion.

An important point in the article: ‘You should record a ten-second clip at first, so you can play it back immediately in Audacity (green triangle button) and make sure your volume levels are right. If the recorded audio is too loud or has too much static, decrease the volume on your cassette player.’

If you’re sending your digital audio to a transcription services company the transcriptionist will listen to the audio through headphones which can sound different to listening on loud speaker. So if you have some headphones, have a listen through them to make sure it sounds clear.

On occasion I’ve received audio for transcription where at full volume quietly spoken words were inaudible so try to ensure that the recorded volume is adjustable for the transcriptionist, i.e. the volume can be turned up to an audible level and higher if necessary for quietly spoken words.

In the UK a male-male stereo audio cable can be purchased at electrical stores or at Amazon. Gold plated plugs give better sound quality.

15 July 2010

What are transcription services?

I am sometimes asked what I do and what transcription services are. The simple answer to this question is I convert the spoken word from audio recordings to text.

Say for example Bob has a digital audio recording of an interview he has carried out for research purposes and he needs a typed transcript of what was said in the interview.

Bob will send the digital audio recording to me via the internet and I will load the audio recording into my transcription software (I use Express Scribe).

I will then listen to the digital audio recording through headphones using a foot pedal to control playback and type what I hear into a Word document, thus producing a typed transcript of everything that was said in the interview.

I will then send the completed transcript of the interview back to Bob as an email attachment.

To find out more about transcription services visit the website.

11 April 2010

Transcription Services: first-come, first-served

Here at KATTS I work on a first-come, first-served basis as workload can change from minute-to-minute. Therefore projects are accepted in order of when the transcription Project Booking Form is returned.

Transcription Project Booking Forms are accepted via email attachment in Word .doc format, as PDF or by post. Obviously email attachment is the quickest method of returning the form.

For more information visit the website.

28 March 2010

Confidential transcription services

If you are looking for confidentiality and continuity for your transcription project then KATTS can help you.

All transcription is carried out in house by Sarah King. You can therefore be assured that your transcription project will be processed in a completely confidential way and continuity will be maintained throughout.

KATTS do not outsource your transcription projects to outside agencies.

If you would like a quotation for a transcription project you can visit the website at http://www.kingaudio.co.uk/.

10 March 2010

Hey! What did you say?

Certain transcriptions take longer to transcribe than others, this is because I have to recognise words and voices. The stronger the accent, the harder it is for me to understand.

This isn’t usually a problem because I am an experienced transcriber (30 years) and can understand people more clearly. If there is a word I can’t understand I look up what it sounds like and distinguish what it is.

It also depends on the speed the person speaks at. Sometimes faster speakers are harder to understand if they don’t speak clearly. But it’s not only that, if the audio recording isn’t very good quality or you get a lot of background noise in the recording the transcription process can be more difficult.

These are things to bear in mind if you are recording say interviews for transcription. Digital recorders are pretty good these days, but it's always wise to do a sound check with your audio equipment and listen back with headphones.

If you would like to find out more about my transcription services please visit my website at http://www.kingaudio.co.uk/


18 February 2010

Transcribers: what keyboard do you use?

I recently replaced my keyboard with a bog standard keyboard to use when providing transcription services. The keyboard is okay but I’m finding that it’s not ideal for the high volume transcription that I do.

So I’m interested in what keyboards other transcribers use. I know I could read product reviews on the internet, but I’m specifically interested in what other transcribers use as they will be using their keyboards for high volume transcription too.

I asked this question on Facebook and my friend, Linda Christie, who is also a freelance transcriber, recommended the Microsoft Wireless media centres, i.e. keyboard and mouse 1000 version, which I will be looking into, and James P King suggested a gaming keyboard for responsiveness.

So if any transcribers out there have other suggestions for a good keyboard or keyboards to avoid I’d love to hear from you.

UPDATE 28.2.10: Since posting this I have now purchased a new keyboard. I decided to go for a Cherry eVolution stream corded multimedia keyboard. It is an ‘ultra-flat design keyboard with plug & play performance. It has ultra-flat keys pleasing to the touch and whisper keystrokes for extremely low-noise use’.

The keyboard is ultra-flat, a bit like a laptop keyboard and certainly is low noise and very responsive. It is a pleasure to use as it has a really nice feel to it and exactly as described on the box. It is perfect for my transcription services.

This keyboard was recommended to me by web designer Max Glenister. Thanks Max.

08 February 2010

How long does transcription take?

I'm going to talk about factors that can influence transcription turnaround times and primarily the factors that can increase the time it takes to transcribe an audio file.

The quality of a recording can have a big influence on how long a transcription will take. A noisy environment with lots of background noises can play havoc with the transcription process.

For instance I had an interview transcription that had been recorded in a fairly busy cafĂ© or restaurant. The microphone picked up all the other customers, their children and the coffee machine that hissed and popped every few minutes. At first this was amusing to listen to in a ‘fly on the wall’ sort of way but it almost completely obscured the voices of the participants and soon had me losing my sanity. This added to the transcription time and to the amount of inaudible words in the final transcript.

The speed of transcription can also depend on the speakers themselves and whether they speak clearly and at an audible rate. Some people are fast speakers and this coupled with say stumbling over words can make a transcription more difficult.

A good rate of volume on a recording is important. A good quality recording with a low volume that cannot be increased can be as troublesome to a transcriber as a poor quality recording.

Bear in mind that your transcription services provider may not be familiar with the subject matter of your recording and it would therefore be very useful to give them as much information as you can about the contents of the recording, i.e. names of speakers and URLs of websites that relate to the subject matter.

If your recording contains more than two speakers who do not introduce themselves then give your transcriber the order in which they first speak so the transcriber can try to recognise the voices of the individuals.

Here’s a quick checklist to save your transcriber’s sanity and get you the best transcription turnaround:

Avoid noisy environments
Encourage your participants to speak clearly and at an audible level
Check out the quality and volume of your recording by recording a 2 minute test file and listening back through headphones
Provide ancillary information to your transcription service provider

Check out King Audio Transcription & Typing Services for more information.

29 January 2010

Positive steps when choosing transcription services

Since my last blog I thought it would be useful to list some positive steps in choosing the right transcription services.

Like anything these days one has to be careful when choosing the right transcription services provider for your project. Searching randomly on the internet is a gamble. You could be lucky enough to find a good transcription services provider, in which case treat their details like gold dust and keep them safe OR you could end up with a sub-standard transcription.

Here are some positive steps which may help in your selection process:

Check who will be transcribing your audio
Will it go to more than one transcriber
Is the transcriber a native English speaker
Is there a sample transcript to show an example of work
Check what's included in the price – e.g. some companies charge more for verbatim transcription
Will the completed transcript be proof read against the audio for accuracy

If you find a good transcription services provider, keep the details so you can use them in the future and recommend them to your friends and colleagues.

If you work in a company share details of trusted service providers with your colleagues. Perhaps a database, resource page or a Linked in account could be used for this purpose. My Linked in account is here.

Encourage colleagues to check there first before searching randomly on the internet.

So those are just a few steps. If I can think of anything else I'll add it later. However, if you would like to discuss your transcription project with me please feel free to contact me at King Audio Transcription & Typing Services.

25 January 2010

Choose the right transcription services and save money

I was approached by a new client this month who had used a random transcription services provider for interview transcription. He had two interviews to transcribe one of which he had already had transcribed by the provider. Fortunately for the client, the transcription service provider was unable to transcribe his second interview so he came to me at King Audio Transcription & Typing Services.

When I had completed the interview transcription and returned the transcript, the client telephoned me to say he was really pleased with the quality and speed of my transcription. He said he had only just had a chance to look at the transcript provided by the other service provider and there were whole sentences omitted from the transcript with no markers indicating this. He said overall it was of very poor quality and of little use to him with so many omissions so he asked me to transcribe that interview as well.

Unfortunately for for the client he ended up paying twice for one of his interview transcriptions, which obviously is not a good situation for anyone to be in. He could have saved money if he had come across King Audio Transcription & Typing Services in the first instance.

In my opinion the audio was clear and audible and there were no strong accents so it is difficult to understand how the other transcription company missed out so much in their transcript.

At King Audio Transcription & Typing Services the following is standard practice:

I always try to ensure that my transcriptions are as complete as possible and generally, providing the audio and speakers are clear, this can be achieved. However, I don’t want to be unrealistic here, sometimes words can be obscured by background noises for instance a cough or a laugh, so sometimes it is not possible to get every word spoken in which case a marker will be placed in the transcript at that point to indicate this.

I always research names and technical terms on the internet to ensure correct spellings where information is available online.

Quality control is ensured by carefully proof reading transcripts against the original audio.

King Audio Transcription & Typing Services offer competitive rates and all transcription is carried out by me in the UK.

You are welcome to visit the King Audio Transcription & Typing Services website and email or call me for a no obligation quotation. You can also follow me on Twitter at KATTS03.

13 January 2010

Interview transcription example

Today I have transcribed an interview that I saw on a CNBC video at The New York Times to give an example of my interview transcription. If you click the link you will be given the option to open or save the transcript, which is in Word 2000 format.

I hope this goes some way to demonstrate the quality of KATTS’ interview transcription. I chose an interview in the public domain as an example as all interview transcription carried out by KATTS is treated with confidentiality.

KATTS offers a range of interview transcription services including:

One-to-one interviews
Multi-speaker interviews
Telephone interviews
Oral history interviews
Research interviews
Television and radio interviews
Recorded conversations

All interview transcription is carried out by me, Sarah King, in the United Kingdom. I ensure that each interview transcript is proof read carefully against the original audio. This is included in the quoted price and not added on as an extra charge.

KATTS offers flexible interview transcription. Speakers can be identified by name or initials or simply I = interviewer and P = participant. An interview template can be supplied by KATTS or alternatively the client can supply their own template for use in the interview transcription.

Interviews can be transcribed verbatim including every utterance like ‘umm’ and ‘err’ at no extra charge. Alternatively these utterances can be omitted from the interview transcript.

For more information about interview transcription visit KATTS’ interview transcription page.

08 January 2010

New transcription services website

Towards the end of last year I was busily working on my website at King Audio Transcription & Typing Services and spent hours and hours coding. I’m really pleased with the results. I prefer sites with a clean interface and that’s what I’ve gone for with the KATTS website.

There are now several new pages on the website covering:

Interview transcription
Conference transcription
University transcription
Legal transcription
Focus group transcription

There are also pages covering:

Verbatim transcription
Minutes transcription
Dictation transcription
What’s included in the price
How to procure transcription services