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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Transcribing Tim Cook nearly in real time

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

Yesterday Tim Cook spoke on a conference call with analysts and, as I have for the last few years, I typed what he said and posted it somewhere.

I find the transcript valuable. Not everyone has the time or inclination to listen to a conference call, and yet amid the boredom of analysts asking for more color about foreign exchange headwinds, there are often some very interesting tidbits about how Apple’s business is working and what Apple’s priorities are. People seem to like reading them, and they’re a convenient reference for writing follow-up stories.

In any event, although I am now “fast-typing Jason Snell” according to John Gruber1, I can’t type as fast as Tim Cook can read the prepared remarks that open the analyst call2.

To keep the turnaround between the analyst call and the posting of my transcript as short as possible, I use Rogue Amoeba’s excellent Audio Hijack, which I reviewed here in January. For past calls, I’ve taken notes during the call and then played back a recording in iTunes later, filling in the gaps. This time, I just started transcribing when the call started. A few minutes after the call was complete, I had a full transcript.

In order to make this work, I use Audio Hijack’s Time Shift block, which lets me pause and rewind the audio I’m capturing—TiVo style!—as I listen. During Cook’s prepared remarks, I ended up several minutes behind the live stream, but by skipping over Apple CFO Luca Maestri’s remarks and the questions of analysts, I managed to catch up to nearly live before the end of the call.

I’d love it if Rogue Amoeba could add some keyboard shortcuts to Time Shift, so I didn’t have to keep clicking the back button manually every time I failed to keep up with Tim Cook. But even with all the clicking, Audio Hijack made my job a lot easier—and got the transcript out much faster.

  1. I type 120 words per minute, which I’ve mentioned a lot lately because I’ve been writing about the new MacBook keyboard. Someone tweeted at me that they felt it came across as a boast, which I find bizarre. My typing speed is what it is, more a personal trait than some sort of accomplishment. I mention it because my perspective of what’s good and bad about a keyboard might be very different from someone who is not fast-typing me. 
  2. When Tim’s speaking a bit more extemporaneously, answering analyst questions, I can usually keep up with him. He speaks more slowly then, and pauses a lot to consider how he wants to phrase his statements. My fingers thank you, Tim. 

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