It is the holiday season, which means it is time for the annual Tech Toys for the Holidays edition of the Digital Edge podcast. Sharon Nelson and I have searched far and wide for some fun and interesting technology toys for the lawyer or lawyer's spouse. We hope you enjoy the 2012 edition.
Our friend and colleague Reid Trautz has also just posted his 8th Annual Holiday Gift Guide for Lawyers on his blog. He does not limit himself to tech items and this year he has interesting features like rock star wannabe shirts and chocolate covered bacon candy. MMMMMM!
For those who are looking for a more traditional gift for the lawyer in their life, maybe the kind of gift that doesn't plug in and has pages that turn, ABA Publishing has a very interesting collection of books that would make fine gifts for lawyers. Included among these is The Little Book of Cowboy Law.
So saddle up and round up some of these gift ideas, folks.
My Sites for Sore Eyes column in the just-released GPSOLO eReport is Beyond the Basics of Google. Long time readers of my blog may have seen a lot of this information before. But if you have some colleagues who would benefit from this information, be sure and send them the link. I am always surprised by the number of people who have never heard of Google Advanced Search or think it is some advanced function that they are not qualified to operate.
Here's an additional related site that wasn't in the article. If you have grown tired of people asking you questions that they could answer themselves if they would just use Google, check out the site Let Me Google That for You. (http://lmgtfy.com) The site's motto is "For all those people that find it more convenient to bother you with their question rather than google it for themselves." Go do a quick search there and click Preview to see the short animation you can send someone the next time they ask. It will bring a smile to your face. (But do not try this with your supervisor!)
Kudos to OCU's Legal Research Certificate program for its innovative first Cool Tools Café program. I was familiar with many, but not all, of their cool tools. Descriptions of some of the cool tools are available at the link above. You may want to review these. These young law students will soon be young lawyers, using these cool tools in their practices.
Your ABA, the American Bar Association's e-newsletter summarized an article that Catherine Sanders Reach and I co-authored for GPSolo magazine and titled it Time management tips for social media. I do like their heading a lot -- Technology Translators. If you are not aware of social media management tools, this should be worth your time. Our original GPSolo magazine article can be found here.
Earlier this year Google removed the "advanced search" link from its home page. The answer to the question "why did Google hide Google Advanced Search?" remains a bit of a mystery. Google home page simplicity taken one infuriating step too far remains my best answer. Where you can find Advanced Search is pretty easy. But understanding why this little change is significant is very important to lawyers and others who want to be Internet users who are, well ..... ADVANCED!
First of all, even though the link is gone, you can still access this service by clicking on the gear in the upper right hand corner of Google next to "Sign in." Advanced search is on the drop down menu. So really the only change is two clicks instead of one. And, if you do a Google search and the results you see displayed are not to your liking, you can still click on advanced search and have your initial search terms automatically pulled in. If you use advanced search frequently, you can even bookmark this page: http://www.google.com/advanced_search instead of www.google.com, if you do wish. (This link is not new. I referred to it in a blog post in December, 2008.) I assume most readers knew this.
But if this is all news to you, then I might respectfully suggest you are not finding the information you are looking for as fast or accurately as you might be. In a discussion about this topic in the Google Web search forum, one poster said, "[l]imiting [searches] by file type, domain name, etc is absolutely essential for students to know." Lawyers, too! As I noted in that 2008 blog post, using the "site:" search filter is great to search a single domain.
The advanced search feature I use most often is the date filter. If I am searching for information about a product, I generally start by limiting the search to pages posted or updated within the last year.
If you are searching on a fairly obscure topic and find one good resource, then using the advanced search to find other pages that are similar to that page or link to that page can lead to other great resources.
In years past, a lawyer might respond to me initiating this type of discussion by saying, "I'm not really an advanced Internet researcher, more of a basic one." My response now would be the same as it was then: Look at your billing rate, you are an advanced Internet researcher!
Well, to celebrate the holiday weekend a little early, I have prepared a “Great Reading” list that wanders a bit from my usual fare. Thanks to all of the people who sent these my way, largely through Twitter.
David Pogue: We Have To Fix E-mail http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/30/we-have-to-fix-e-mail/?ref=personaltechemail&nl=technology&emc=cta1
Trying to figure out how to improve your website content? Read the Ultimate 8-Point Checklist for Remarkable Content http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/18476/The-Ultimate-8-Point-Checklist-for-Remarkable-Content.aspx
I’m sure many lawyers already assist their clients with organizing their personal information, but this is a great article and the Master Information Kit Template, a shared public Google Document linked in the article, is very nice. How to Create an In-Case-of-Emergency Everything Document to Keep Your Loved Ones Informed if Worst Comes to Worst http://lifehacker.com/5817021/in-case-of-emergency-how-to-organize-your-important-records-in-a-master-information-kit
Google+ was launched this week to a lucky few beta testers. It will soon by coming to everyone. It looks to have a lot of potential. Here’s a pretty good outline of Google+ and a link to the announcement video from Google. http://techcrunch.com/2011/06/28/google-plus/ Watching the group chat video on this next post may convince you that it is time to buy a webcam: Google+ Hangouts Is the Best Free Group Video Chat We’ve Seen http://lifehacker.com/5816722/google%252B-hangout-is-the-best-free-group-video-chat-weve-seen
Here’s information on another tool from Google: Me On The Web: Google's Tool For Online Reputation Management http://www.lawmarketingmonitor.com/professional-reputation/me-on-the-web-googles-tool-for-online-reputation-management/
I think I will invest $3.99 in the Great Backyard Grilling iPad App. The legal technology consultant who reviewed it seems to like it. http://trial-technology.blogspot.com/2011/06/great-backyard-grilling-ipad-app.html
101 Gadgets That Changed The World http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/reviews/101-gadgets-that-changed-the-world
There are some really nice law firm web pages on this feature 25 of the Best Law Firm Website Designs http://www.visualswirl.com/inspiration/best-law-firm-website-designs/ However, the design firm that selected the sites having a large Google AdWord placement saying Advertise Here that you must scroll past on their site to get to the nice designs is a bit ironic.
A Manager’s Primer on Asking Better Questions http://creativitycentral.squarespace.com/creativity-central/2011/6/22/a-managers-primer-on-asking-better-questions.html
GoDropBox Gives Google Docs a Drop Box Where Anyone Can Upload http://lifehacker.com/5816864/godropbox-gives-google-docs-a-drop-box-where-anyone-can-upload No relation to Dropbox.com, but an interesting idea if you need many people to share documents with you.
And let’s end with a real “downer” from my podcast partner Sharon Nelson: Your Chance of Being Hacked in Twelve Months Now a "Statistical Certainty" http://ridethelightning.senseient.com/2011/06/your-chance-of-being-hacked-in-twelve-months-now-a-statistical-certainty.html
Happy Independence Day!
ABA TECHSHOW 2011 closed with a large crowd in attendance for 60 Sites in 60 Minutes. Jim Calloway and Sharon Nelson joined colleagues ABA TECHSHOW 2010 chair Paul Unger and TECHSHOW planning board member Erik Mazzone for this lively presentation. Jim and Sharon just couldn’t get enough of talking about interesting and fun websites for lawyers so we decided to discuss some of the websites here, beginning with a “missing site” that was mysteriously omitted from the original 60 Sites presentation.
Listen to the 24 Favorite Sites Digital Edge podcast here with links to sites. We started with the missing site, which someone who provides too much tech support for their family and friends will really enjoy!
And by the way, Mark Unger over at the State Bar of Texas Computer and Technology Section blog, gave 60 sites in 60 Minutes a truly great review here. So thanks, Mark.
WARNING: If you read this blog post you may find that you have to buy a VuPoint Magic Wand™ Portable Scanner. I mean, first of all, what lawyer hasn't wished for a magic wand before, particularly in certain courtrooms and depositions?
But seriously, the VuPoint Magic Wand™ Portable Scanner is a great tool for many, many lawyers. It is very affordable at around $80 street price. Portable scanners are very nice tools, but a cordless battery-operated portable scanner that works independently of the computer for under $100 is a great tool. Watch the demonstration video here. How handy is it to be anywhere (court clerk's counter, taking a statement in the home of a witness, looking at a magazine) and think "oh, I'd like a copy of that" and be able to do it almost instantly without booting up a computer.
I mentioned it to a few colleagues and one of them, a Legal Aid lawyer, bought one and has already scanned about 200 pages of police reports in just the last six weeks or so. He loves the Magic Wand. Of course, there is a cord to plug into your computer to transfer the scanned images there. It comes with OCR software included, but I have to confess that I just transferred the PDF files to my computer and OCR'd them with Adobe Acrobat. A microSD card is required, along with two AA batteries. It will scan in color or black & white, at 600 dpi or 300 dpi. But truly, this is a stunningly simple gadget that does just what it is supposed to do at a price every lawyer can afford. It should be a great addition to your laptop bag or briefcase.
Here's the fact sheet with all of the details. Best Buy and Walmart supposedly carry them, although I know of no one who has actually seen one in stock. FTC Blogger disclosure: They are going to have to physically come and pry my review copy out of my hands to get it back. :-)
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