WestLawNext On Your Phone

Image from West

Back at the WestLawNext breakfast in March, one of the features promoted by the speakers was the impending introduction of mobile versions of WestLawNext. Right in line with their proposed timeline (they had said by the end of May), West’s LegalCurrents blog (link here) is reporting the improved availability of the new search interface on mobile devices (link here). West is touting the new interface as a unique “ecosystem” in which to interact with the WLN search tools. From the announcement:

WestlawNext Mobile mirrors the clean, modern interface of WestlawNext, with a primary focus on helping legal professionals resume their research while on-the-go. Through the mobile site, you can quickly and easily access research folders and read documents or notes, as well as perform new searches.

The site automatically detects whether you are accessing via mobile interface and directs you to the mobile version accordingly. Hit the link above for the mobile site, or click the link here for the iPad version.


The NEW Facebook Privacy

Image from All Facebook

Public Service Announcement:  Facebook has finally responded to the loads of privacy-related backlash leveled against it over the past few weeks after rolling out its new “instant personalization” andll  athe privacy “tweaks” that came with it. If you spend time on the giant social network, it behooves you to at least read the changes, attempt to understand where your information is going and consider addressing your settings.

There is a great post over at All Facebook (link here) that breaks down the newest Facebook changes (announced yesterday). The short list is that you can now opt out of applications, hide your friends list and interests (I really didn’t NEED everyone to know how much I love Cadbury Mini Eggs), hide information from the past (about TIME!), and use a one-click privacy setting button if you would rather not go through the numerous manual settings heretofore necessary to ensure the same level of privacy across your data categories. There is now a single directory settings page. This is also great – you previously needed to go to several different locations to control who can see your information via Google or Facebook search.

Much of your information is still public by default and instant personalization (the broadcasting of your public information to participating websites) is still opt-out.

You may not be seeing these changes yet – Facebook will be rolling them out over the next few weeks. But consider hitting the jump above to read the details on the changes. It just makes good web-sense to take control of your own information and actively monitor how it is used by others.

THIS Close – To My Own iPhone App (AppMakr)

Yes, you heard that right. My own iPhone app. I have chatted about AppMakr here in the Studio before (link here). I even threatened to make an app myself, but I didn’t do it at that time. But I really did think about it.

Yesterday, I read that Appmakr (link here) was offering basic iPhone app creation for free. Well, since that is my favorite number, I thought it was as good a time (if not better) than any to actually put my money (exactly 0) where my mouth was and, like Nike,  just do it.

The site and the process are simple and easy to navigate. You are greeted on the Home screen with the factoid that Appmakr has helped publish 1.2 million + downloads, from tiny players to great big names in publishing and blogging. Without even so much as giving Appmakr an email address, it will start the process of app creation with the simple entry of a URL or keyword. To edit and fine-tune the app, you will need to create a free account with an email address and password.

Once you do, you can access your Dashboard. This is where you create and edit your app and view build history and publishing status. The interface is very nicely laid out and simple to follow.

From here, you tweak your feeds and add your artwork, either from the Web, your hard drive, or via search.  

AppMakr lets you add multiple feeds – the feeds and related icons show in a list. Each feed gets its own tab and icon and you can pull feeds from search or add your own RSS / Atom feed. Appmakr also supports iTunes, podcasts, Blogger, Twitter, and YouTube feeds. Once you build in your feeds, you can customize the app with your own header image and text colors using an RGB editor and / or hex numbers.

A very VERY cool feature of the dashboard is the App Simulator. It’s the giant iPhone to the right in the image above. As you make changes in the dashboard, the App Simulator updates in real time. As you enter feeds, your content is pulled and immediately shown in the iPhone’s screen as if it were an actual, working app. This allows you to test the validity of your feeds and make sure that your app looks right before publishing.

You can even monetize from within the dashboard. Charge for your app in the iTunes App Store, place ads from providers like Google, DoubleClick and AdMob, or put your own custom javascript ad tag in. Select an option or skip this step entirely.

Sitting in my dashboard right now is a shiny, spanking new AdvantageAdvocates iPhone app, with custom artwork, feeds and images. It took me about 20 minutes to complete.

Sounds simple, right? It really is and there is no catch. Well, almost no catch. The testing and publishing step is where I got hung up. You see, Appmakr is in fact free if you wish to test and publish your own app under your own Apple Developers’ certificate. Huh, what’s that? I’m not a developer, you say. The certificate is a necessary credential if you wish to be able to submit an app to Apple for publication in the App Store. If you don’t have an Apple Developer’s certificate, there is always the $999 option of having Appmakr handle all testing and publishing under Appmakr’s own brand name.

Are you thinking bait and switch? Well, not really. You see, if you own an a Mac computer, you already have a Developers’ Certificate, – it’s built right into your Mac’s OS. There is a fairly complicated process outlined in an instructional video showing the steps you need to take to get your Certificate, a Private Key and Distribution Provisioning profiles, all of which are necessary for self-publishing your application. So yes, in fact, if you own a Mac, you can create, test and publish your app to the App store for free. Of course, if you get hung up in the fairly complicated process, you can get a walk-through over the phone with an Appmakr rep for $250.

For the rest of us shmo’s on Windows or other operating systems, AppMakr offers to go through an even more complicated process of getting a Developer’s certificate for you for the price of $250. You can also get general, phone-based support at any point during the development process for $120 per hour.

I am starting to see where AppMakr makes its money.

I am also started to think even more seriously about getting a Mac.

So, long and short. If you own a Mac, then by all means get thee to AppMakr and create an iPhone application for free that includes all your favorite content (self published or generally available on the Web) in a very slick package. If you don’t, then AppMakr might still be a decent bargain if you adopt the do-it-yourself attitude and spend $250 for your Apple Developer’s certificate. Get thee quickly, though, because the “free” part is apparently for a limited time only.

And, if you see an AdvantageAdvocates iPhone app in the App Store’s New or Featured Releases, then you know that I bit the bullet and sprang for that Mac I have been trying to justify for years. My app is all ready to go.

How To Get Your Content Noticed On Facebook

It’s time to talk content publication! You put your time, brainpower and typing skills to their highest purpose when you draft pleadings, briefs, memoranda, and professional articles. You want more than just opposing counsel and the presiding judge to bask in your brilliance.

JD Supra is the very best, legally-minded content publication tool out there.  It takes hardly any effort at all to avail yourself of their vast, distribution machinery and built-in network. And your basic participation is free!

Posting to JD Supra itself is nice, but why not take your publication a step further? Did you know that you could install a mini version of JD Supra right on your Facebook profile or business page? You do now. By installing the application on Facebook, your uploads to JD Supra are automatically streamed into Facebook without you lifting a finger. What’s that  –  you don’t know how to do it? Well, read on, while I explain just how easy it is to plant your content in fertile soil.

1.     Mini Feed or Full Feed

There are two formatting options for the application, mini feed and full feed. Full feed creates a tabbed option along with your info, notes, photos, etc. When you click on the “Documents” tab, your full JD Supra feed will show, along with your JD Supra profile information. Mini feed shows a short list of the latest three documents. You can install it in your tabs or in your info “boxes” along the left side of your profile / page. Certainly consider both feeds if you want to maximize the impact of your content.

So, how to begin.

2.     Create a JD Supra Profile

First, you need a JD Supra profile. Head over to their web page and sign up (link here)– it’s free! Upload a few choice documents.

3. Install the Facebook Application on Your Profile

Then, head on over to the JD Supra application page in Facebook (link here). At the top left, you will see a navigation button that takes you to the application.

Give the application permission to access your Facebook profile and interact with your JD Supra profile and enter any necessary log-in information. Then select the Mini Feed, Full Feed or both.

To add the Mini, simply click the button on the app page to place the feed on your “Wall and Info Tab” pages or your “Boxes Tab”, then give permission to JD Supra to publish to the wall or stream. For the Full, go to your profile page and click the   sign that appears on the right hand side of your profile tabs. Select from the drop-down menu the “Documents” option. If it isn’t showing, type in “JD Supra” in the “search available tabs” box.

4. Create a Business Page and Install the App There Too

Do you have a business page? If not, click here and make one now! Do you want to add the application to your business page? Remember the graphic above that shows the navigation button to the application? Right below that button is a clickable link “add to my page.” When you click on that link, you will get a pop-up box asking you to identify the page you to install the application on (if you have more than one page, it will show all of your pages).

Select your page, and then navigate over there to make the proper settings. Just below you page profile picture is a clickable link to edit your settings:

Click on Edit Page. Then scroll down to your applications list and find the JD Supra application.

There, you can authorize JD Supra to stream your documents into Facebook. You also can edit settings, such as adding a box or tab or both to your business page and publishing one-line stories to your Wall. Once you are finished, navigate back to your wall and follow the same instructions noted above for making your full feed tab and mini feed box visible to the public. And you are good to go!

One of the aspects I really love about JD Supra is that they do all the leg-work for you – all you have to do is upload content you have already created! I like to think of it as repurposing and recycling, with JD Supra manning the recycling center. And Facebook isn’t the only way to move your JD Supra content around the web: check out their voluminous list (link here) of feeds, pages, widgets and email digests tailored to topical categories for presentation to an interested audience. And, of course, their iPhone application (link here).

What’s not to love?

Thoughts On Guest Blogging

[365 Toy Project: 032/365] Duelling Banjos
Image by nhussein via Flickr

Anyone who is anyone (o.k., anyone who follows @advocatesstudio or @constructionlaw on Twitter or subscribes to Advocate’s Studio and Construction Law Musings) probably saw our dueling guest posts this past Friday. Chris and I had a lot of fun doing it, from planning and sharing posts over Google Wave, to hyping the big event on Twitter and then following the feedback, RTs and comments throughout the day on Friday.

Chris’ My Journey Into Social Media post was the very first guest post in the Studio’s two-year history. I am asking myself “why did I wait so long?” Readers LOVED Chris’ post – what is not to love about a heartfelt, personal accounting of  the trials and tribulations over the same tools we webizens are all struggling to master every day. I feel honored that Chris chose the Studio to share this story and hope that readers enjoyed it as much as I did.

Guest blogging feels like a breath of fresh air. Sure, you make your cozy little WordPress (or Blogger or Typepad) home and deck it all out the way you like it. You get to know your neighbors, maybe share a pie and some coffee. But sometimes, it is good to get out on the town, visit someone else’s house, play with someone else’s friends and, maybe, learn something new. Or gain some new friends of your own. Share your song with a different audience, as it were. Strike up a duet.

I am now motivated to seek out and share some more social media stories from other friends and peers. With some luck, maybe I can persuade a few other social connections to open their book for Studio readers to view. Maybe it can become the start of a Social Media Mentors series, or some other less daunting title.

In any event, thanks for everyone who read, commented, shared, participated, and pushed our posts like paper boats in a current on Friday! Looking forward to more sharing and collaboration in the future.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Guest Post: My Journey Into Social Media

When Martha asked me to do this blog switch, and to describe my social media experience, I was flattered and excited.  To have such a tech maven ask me, a relative luddite, to post here at the Studio was quite an invitation!  I hope the readers of the Studio find this informative and hopefully at least a little bit entertaining.

I basically got into social media a couple of years ago on a whim.  I heard about LinkedIn and various other tools to get my name out there.  I posted profiles at JDSupra, and other business “networking” sites and didn’t see much return, or even communication. I had a Twitter account (@constructionlaw) and was occasionally posting but found no followers until, at the urging of @copelandcasati (aka @greenmodernkits) I just started talking. I quickly found several folks to follow and things just took off.

I really had no idea what I was doing and, frankly, decided that a blog would be fun so I experimented with Tumblr and Posterous (the Posterous account is still active), and finally landed at Blogger.  After about 6 months there, I decided to join the WordPress brigade and thus was born the present incarnation of Construction Law Musings.  Too many people have helped (and continue to help) me along the way for me to thank here, but you know who you are.  Once I got Musings up and running, the rest, as they say, is history.

For some reason, there are people out there who like to read about construction law and, despite some initial frustration, I kept plugging along and posting what I hoped was good content.  The real breakthrough came when I read about guest posts.  The idea sounded great, so I started Guest Post Fridays.  For one, I didn’t have to write something (always good for the readers!) and secondly, and most importantly, I get other perspectives on construction, social media, and business that I feel both help the readers connect with Musings and gain some insight into construction marketing and other non-legal issues.

I can’t thank those who contribute every week enough and hope that they got a marketing boost and had as much fun posting at Musings as I do.

The advantages of all of this Web 2.0 stuff?  I have met some great folks that I never would have known without it and formed some real life relationships that I never would have had (including with Martha).  Also, the viral nature of the internet allows me to get information out to numerous sources using Musings, Posterous and other tools (such as Twitterfeed and Friendfeed) to get my message and thoughts across in an efficient manner.  Coupled with real life, handshake, non-web marketing, I have grown my practice a lot in the last year or two and attribute much of this success to my social media efforts.

Most of all though, I found that this is fun!  For this reason alone, I recommend social media as an add on to any legal practice (or other professional practice).  Just dive in.  I had no clue how to do this “properly,” but have learned that no one way works for everyone.  Do what feels right and your personality will come through.  Blogging and other social media allow a less formal style and a way to show your true colors in a way that your static web bio (or a court pleading for that matter) does not.

Try out different tools.  I have no idea how many I’ve tried, bookmarked, installed and uninstalled, or just plain forgotten about.  Use whatever you feel lets others know who you are in a professional manner.  For instance, Martha and I occasionally get on a binge of last.fm music sharing.  On the other hand, you will not likely find out what I’m having for dinner tonight from my twitter stream while others I follow regularly make such tweets interesting.  Figure out what works for you, whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Reader sharing, or a desktop tool like Tweetdeck or IPhone app (check with the Advocate for some great ones) that allows you to connect on the go.

Most of all, start.  Fumble around.  Make mistakes (lord knows I did!), don’t quit and have fun.  Don’t get frustrated or worry about SEO and all of the other things that you’ll hear out there about the “right” way to do this.  Frankly, you’ll learn more from the errors than from any blogger out there (though there are many that have helpful tips).  The best advice I can give you (and take it for what it’s worth) is to write what you care about, engage others (whether through guest posts, comments, Twitter or even, yes, the telephone), and show your personality.  If you do all of this the frustration will ebb and the interest level of your audience will grow.

Do I have a metric of time to dollars?  Not that I could figure out.  I do know that I have gotten more out of state inquiries after the dawn of Musings than before.  Between this and the relationships, I can say this has been more than worth it.

So jump right in and join all of us tweeps, bloggers and other professionals in the social media pool, we’d love to hear from you and promise not to bite.

Christopher G. Hill, LEED AP, is a construction lawyer in Richmond, VA and has been elected to the Virginia Legal Elite in Construction Law in each of the last three years. You can reach him on Twitter (@constructionlaw) or contact him through his Construction Law Musings blog.

Twitter Developers Making Lemonade

What do you do when you are a plate-maker and the bread and butter start making their own plates? Become a cup-maker, of course!

Possibly the two biggest Twitter developers out there, Seesmic and Tweetdeck, saw the writing on the cupboard wall a few weeks back when Twitter bought out premier iPhone Twitter client, Tweetie. And, with yesterday’s roll-out of the newly branded Twitter for iPhone, and release of the Google Buzz API, S and T have shifted their focus a bit by now offering the controversial soc net upstart Buzz, from Google, within their applications. Plancast and Boxee have done the same, with the Meebo Bar and Socialwork to follow suit.

Apparently out of the privacy limelight these days, affiliation with Buzz is not such a bad thing. Seesmic (link here) already has its new tool available, with a dedicated Buzz column in which you can read, write, search and like. The Tweetdeck version is on its way. Buzz will share window-space with Twitter and Facebook in these applications, shifting focus away from Twitter and spreading it out over the three networks.

Whether or not you like Buzz (I am still unsure about it), it still represents a sizeable forum for engagement. By offering all three networks in one space, Seesmic and Tweetdeck reaffirm their validity in a changing Twitter-governed world and permit us users to streamline networking across platforms.

Hat tip to Jennifer Van Grove over at Mashable! for the story.

The "Green" Coats Are Coming!

Around these north-of-Boston parts, we usually cry about Red Coats. Nonetheless, this Friday, a different color will be invading Advocate’s Studio, the normally peaceful little virtual hamlet dedicated to law and technology. My very good friend, lawyer, and fellow blogger Christopher Hill (@constructionlaw on Twitter), who maintains a fine blog on construction law over at Construction Law Musings (link here) with a decidedly green bent, will be breaking down the doors this Friday to take over blogging duties from me! I am very excited about this. Not because I will be getting a blogging break, mind you, as I agreed to invade his blog with my own post!

So, what will the two intrepid law bloggers do with each other’s blogs? Will they invite all their friends over, play loud music and trash the place? Maybe. What will they write about? Who knows?

I do know this – you will get a double dose of excellent writing to entertain and inform if you visit both Advocate’s Studio and Construction Law Musings this Friday! I hope readers enjoy it as much as Chris and I have enjoyed pulling it off. Want to know something cool? Chris and I used Google Wave to discuss, plan and collaborate!

Can’t wait for the fun!

Lazyfeed Now Exercising BOTH Sides of Your Brain

Lazyfeed is a wonderful blog aggregator that effortlessly collects blog entries from across the Web on topics that you choose in a mesmerizing, scrolling, real-time display. No need to subscribe to individual feeds, just enter your topics of interest and get relevant content.I previously have extolled its virtues here in the Studio (link here).

Until recently, Lazyfeed was all about passive information consumption – you could sit back and watch the news filter in and, in the process, pick up a few cool new blogs to follow more closely. Or, for me, when I had exhausted my usual news sources, I would turn to Lazyfeed as my last resort for finding something new.

But all of that changed today with the arrival of a new email message in my inbox from the fine folk at Lazyfeed titled, curiously enough, “Follow Me On Lazyfeed.” Lazyfeed CEO Ethan Gahng piqued my curiosity with his cryptic message:

There’s a huge announcement for Lazyfeed today. Lazyfeed has transformed from a “Read” tool into a “Write” tool. Sounds like a drastic change, huh?
I don’t want to bore you by explaining all the details in this email, so you can visit our blog and check out the post where I talk about the update: http://blog.lazyfeed.com/2010/05/follow-me-on-lazyfeed.html
Or if you want to take a look right away, you can directly come check out Lazyfeed now: http://www.lazyfeed.com
This update is so big that the update itself is larger than the original Lazyfeed product. It took us quite a while to build this, so I hope you would like it. I would love your feedback!

Well, with an invitation like that, I could hardly say no. So, what is Lazyfeed up to?

Passive content consumption tool no more, Lazyfeed has now been equipped to bring out the curator in you, as explained in this simple graphic from their blog:

Through two new tools, “Channel” and “Post”, you can sub-aggregate your content from your topics of interest stream within Lazyfeed. These are called Channels. Populate your channel stream and then publish it to your Lazyfeed followers (that’s right, Lazyfeeds gone all social on us), your Twitter followers and your Facebook profile. You can create as many channels as you have interests and populate those channels with relevant blog content. Posting is super-simple: just click on a blog post of interest, add a comment if you wish and hit “post”. The blog entry will show in the left-hand column of your screen, which shows your Channel.

Follow other Lazyfeeders to get their updates. Find follows by plugging in your Facebook, Twitter and email accounts and matching your contacts with existing Lazyfeed profiles. It’s nice to have the option of getting the content curated by other users you know and trust.

I can’t say enough about the new interface. While the old scrolling page was mesmerizing, the new tools and accompanying tweaks are downright space-age! Hover over your own stream and see your comments pop up in little comment bubbles. And, with the addition of social features, Lazyfeed moves beyond simple news aggregation – it really distills content search, commenting, posting and sharing process down to its essential and efficient core. Sounds just like a blog, but lazier.

Check out my page (link here). Right now, I have one channel dedicated to law, technology, legal tech, and a lot of the subjects I already blog on, but I am hoping to expand to a broader topic set. I encourage you to come on over, build a profile and follow along – maybe we can discover some hot new content and share it!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Time to Re-Wave?

Been a while since I talked about Google Wave in the Studio. Seems much of the initial excitement (zealotry?) has worn off. I was a fan of Wave back at the very beginning, from the moment I was able to successfully beg and plead my way to an invite. I am still a fan, although for me personally, the service still suffers a bit from lack of public participation.

As you may or may not know, Wave is a communication and collaboration tool that walks the fine line between email, chat and Google Docs. Participants in a Wave can edit in real-time and watch while others do the same. Wave’s are highly extensible – meaning that you can add “gadgets” to a Wave to make it perform tasks not normally associated with email or chat, such a mapping, gaming, polling, and video-conferencing. Lots of tools and flexibility, but, at least initially, not a lot of friends on it and not so easy to navigate.  

Despite a brief foray off the path with the introduction of Google Buzz, the brainy developers at Google have returned some of their attention to the Wave platform and recently trotted out a few new features aimed at making the tool more user-friendly. From templates for starting a Wave based on your intended purpose, to email notifications, from anonymous viewing of Waves (by those without a Wave account) to easier extension embedding, Wave has smoothed over some of its rough spots.

First, the templates. Wave now suggests six templates that you can click to start your new Wave. They include “blank wave”, “discussion”, “task tracking”, “meeting”, “document”, and “brainstorm.” Obviously, these are the most popular uses distilled over the past seven or so months since Wave’s introduction. Not only will your Wave be formatted correctly from the get-go, but it will be pre-loaded with the gadgets that are most useful for the task at hand. Nice.

Next, email notifications. Probably the last thing we need is another inbox – that’s why services like Threadsy that aggregate communications centers and inboxes are so popular. Wave initially was only accessible via its own little closed system, requiring that you frequently open and view your inbox in order to stay on top of developments. On the other side of it, if you don’t have a lot of Wavers to wave with, you might, like myself, forget to check your Wave-box for weeks at a time. New email notifications may be set to provide news of Wave developments at set intervals. This enables the user to put the business of checking Waves on auto-pilot.

Next up, Wave access for non-Wavers. People without a Wave account or those who weren’t logged into Wave couldn’t view a Wave. This was a big stumbling block for encouraging Wave use. With the addition of a little bit of code into a website, users can now “drop” a Wave anywhere and others can actually see the Wave update live without a log-in. You can adjust what casual observers can see and do with these more public versions of Wave, including limiting editing permissions to a smaller group while the larger group may view those updates as they happen. Cool way to present an interview or live-blog an event.


Finally, extensions. Fun as they may be, they haven’t been easy to find or easy to install on a Wave. I never was able to locate and add the wizard extension that provided instant translation. Now, your Wave inbox shows a menu in the left sidebar for “extensions”. You can view just the featured extensions or browse through all of them. Simply click and add. Much better.

So, what do you think? Would these changes prompt you to either return to Wave or renew your attempts to secure a Wave invite? I, for one, am glad they are still developing for Wave. I still believe Wave is an awesome tool for communication and collaboration that still hasn’t seen its best form or use or realized its full promise.

UPDATE: It works! I just got an email in my Gmail inbox advising of one new Wave in my inbox! Thanks Chris – I’ll get back to you on that this evening! Woohoooo!