Here is what the keyboard of a steno machine looks like. Of course, the keys aren't marked with letters or numbers. They are just blank. If they put the letters and numbers on them it wouldn't help anyway. It's not like you can "hunt and peck" like on a QWERTY board.
To write a word or phrase in steno you first have to learn your steno theory. There are several theories out there and you have to decide which one is the best fit for you. I'm not here to put down anyone's theory. They all have their own merits.
I made my decision to learn the Magnum Steno theory. The Magnum Steno Theory is the brainchild of the National Speed Champion Mark Kislingbury. Mark's theory teaches you to write short which means it can be stroked (typed) faster with less key strokes. Someone who has won the speed championship as many times as he has, has to have something on the ball right? You bet! I began learning my theory on October 6th, 2008 and at this point I'm on chapter 8 of 33 chapters. I've learned a lot so far and still have a long way to go but I'm getting there with a lot of hard work and study time.
If you are considering going into the field of court reporting than I would highly recommend the Magnum Steno Theory. Here is the link to the website for more info: http://www.magnumsteno.com/
My ultimate goal is to go into closed captioning and work from home. In order to be a captioner you have to be able to type very fast. 300+ wpm is the average. In order to do that you have to either be a very fast steno writer or learn a theory with short strokes, or write short. Magnum Steno fills that order for me. ;D