A little while ago I watched a television programme about the Hubble Space Telescope, going through the history of its design, construction and launch, but the most memorable part of the programme was the discovery of the fault with the primary mirror. I saw the looks of puzzlement on the faces of those gathered around the monitor, way back in 1990, who were waiting for a wonderfully* crisp view of the stars, when the picture showed up fuzzy and indistinct, and then the incredulity and realisation that something somewhere was very wrong. The press conferences were polite but strained, and the voices of those explaining were thin and subdued, attempting to speak in unemotional flat tones to cover their dismay, which had completely replaced the former bubbly enthusiasm. After the blame finding and blame shifting had died down somewhat, ideas for correcting the distortion were invited, discussed and decided upon. Three years later, correcting mirrors and other optical instruments were installed and the scientists finally had their long-awaited sharp focus pictures of deep space in all its glorious detail.
* "wonderfully" The short form covers both "wonderful" and "wonderfully" but as both make sense here, the L stroke needs to be added. When an adjective comes after the "wonderfully" then it is always going to need clarifying in this way.
What reminded me of this was an article I found today about the new telescope that will replace the 25-year-old Hubble, showing lots of pictures of engineers hard at work, assembling parts and running their tests. I am quite certain that at the top of their list are the tests and checking, this time with more than just one instrument and with absolutely no assumptions being made about the accuracy of the results. This will be the most checked and tested piece of space equipment there ever was and there will be no repeat of the previous blunders and embarrassment. The new telescope is called the James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST as the scientists themselves are calling it, at least in print, like they do with all the other instruments. I have a suspicion that the names of some of the instruments are tweaked slightly to make them into pronounceable acronyms.
You may not have any interest in science or astronomy, but all shorthand writers*, whether experienced or just starting, will empathise with the unpleasant results that failing to check properly* can have. The amount of checking that a person does seems to be* related to the severity of the results that might ensue. Checking you have enough bread or milk in the kitchen is fairly minor, but checking you have shut the windows and locked the door before going on your way is higher up the priority list, and done even more diligently when going away on holiday.
* Omission phrase "short(hand) writers" "seems (to) be"
* "properly" Always insert the vowel, and the diphone in "appropriate", to prevent misreading
In our school exams we were allowed to leave the room if we finished before the allotted time was up, but I never did this. I checked for the general sense of my answers, I checked for spelling and grammar, and then checked again for any bits of handwriting that were not crystal clear for the examiner to read, with all the I’s dotted and all the T’s crossed. Some subjects gave me a reasonable amount of time in hand, others were barely finished in time, but a quick read through in the last few minutes was always attempted, with extra facts that had come to mind at the last moment squeezed in between the lines of handwriting, which might give me one more point and bump up my final score into the next higher grading.
Making a transcription* has one extra danger that ordinary exams do not have. It is so easy to skip a line of shorthand as your eyes go back and forth* between the notepad and the screen or paper. The ideal would be to type on screen from the notes without taking your eyes off them. I generally have a marker on the pad, usually just a flat sided pencil, and I place it just above where I am reading, so that I do not need to move it for every line. I have to do the reverse of transcription* when making the blogs, moving my pencil down the printed text and looking back and forth* to the paper to write the shorthand. The method is the same, although the consequences for me (wasted time) are minor compared to an error going unnoticed and uncorrected in an exam or job assignment. This seemingly trivial little precaution can prevent major errors and damage to your shorthand reputation or your exam pass.
* "transcription" Transcribe and derivatives omit the second R, to prevent a misreading with describe and derivatives
* Omission phrase "back (and) forth"
Of equal importance is the checking of my own outlines and so dictionary delving is top priority for the blogs. Checking your own outlines is essential and you will get the best results if you write down all your lookups in a notebook dedicated* to that purpose, so you can review and practise regularly until they are totally familiar. As your vocabulary of outlines increases, your speed will increase as well. It’s all down to checking, testing, inspecting, examining, assessing and investigating*, so that your shorthand speed and accuracy can shoot off into gravity-defying orbit, without the need for major correction of errors, and requiring only regular adjustments and maintenance to keep it on track and performing well. (855 words)
* "dedicated" Best insert vowels, otherwise similar to "deducted" and "educated"
* "investigating" omits the first T
|Optical correction equipment|