The Mobile Enterprise

I just got a new work smartphone – its Android-powered, but more on that later. With a quick download of a Nitro app, I have sufficient security to access my Outlook mail, contacts, calendar and tasks. I understand my IT department is deploying tools to further integrate the mobile and desktop experience – first, iOS and Blackberry, with Android-friendly tools coming soon. When I come into work these days, a new wireless network pops up on my phone’s screen: iPad Test. Yes, Virginia, businesses are definitely going MOBILE.

Zendesk has published a cool infographic detailing the marriage between the enterprise and their smartphones. It’s tight, and only getting tighter. Check it out below, hat tip to WebWorkerDaily:

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Zerply Offers Another Virtual "About" Page For Your Profiles

I have discussed social splash pages or online business cards here in the studio on prior occasions, discussing Flavors.me and DooID, and setting up a page over at About.me as well. My sense of it is “Why not?”, particularly if you are online for networking purposes – these sites offer free hubs to your other social hangouts and help others get to you.

Another relatively recent player in this genre of online apps is Zerply. I was tipped off to it by this recent post by Louis Gray. Where Flavors.me, DooID and About.me are all about the personalized backgrounds and catchy visuals, Zerply looks to be more business-like in its approach, offering templated backgrounds against which you can flash your experience and social connects. Another nice feature is the ability to pull your professional information straight out of Facebook or LinkedIn so there is no need to recreate the wheel here. People visiting your site can learn about you, download your vCard or travel on to your other social haunts – Zerply includes all the major soc net players.

Zerply clearly isn’t the only player in this field, as I note above. Furthermore, Google and LinkedIn and even Facebook offer the ability to create a professional landing page with your background and social links and it would take a lot for a small startup to dislodge these big players. However, my take on these pages is that it never hurts to add your profile wherever you can find a home for it and Zerply certainly offers an easy to build, smart-looking page and another hub for your on-line empire.

Beta now, invite only, but you can request an invite at their URL above.

Docracy: Legal Docs As Fungible Goods

TechCrunch is wrapping (has wrapped) up its 2011 TechCrunch Disrupt conference and, for sure, some cool apps and tools have come out of the mix. One of these is Docracy, a crowd-sourced legal document database, with e-signing. The idea is that users will add the documents to the site in an open-source, crowd-sourced kind of relationship. Documents may include wills, contracts, trusts, non-competes, etc. I am not certain if it will be possible to download docs – it looks like the founders Matt Hall and John Watkinson appear to be intending users to compare their own documents against the Docracy docs to make sure their own docs are not rife with unusual, out of the ordinary terms. Hall and Watkinson see the need to be filled as those small legal matters that don’t necessarily warrant the cost of a lawyer but still could use a touch of due diligence.

Of course, there is the necessary caution that should be exercised when considering using a form document and the sense that “one size fits all” doesn’t necessarily work with legal documents across the fifty states. Nonetheless, you have to give the guys some credit for seeing a hole and attempting to fill it.

Docracy is not quite up yet – put your name on their mailing list to get the good word when the site goes live.

LinkedIn Connection Timeline – Just For Fun

LinkedIn Labs, probably all jovial and such from the success of LinkedIn’s recent IPO, has a new fun tool you can use to visualize your career timeline in a very Memolane sort of way: LinkedIn Connection Timeline. Using semantic information contained with your Profile connections, this little hack creates a visual representation of your connections, your career points and the strength of those connections at a given point in time. Why do it? LinkedIn developer Gordon Koo explains the why of it:

A few months ago, I found myself thinking about my connections and the nature of my LinkedIn network. There was an “aha!” moment where I realized that LinkedIn has a unique characteristic which others lack — it is three-dimensional. The first dimension is the actual connection. The second is the implicit grouping of connections which tie the social graph together. Many social networks have these first two dimensions, but what makes LinkedIn’s network special is its third dimension: time.

Curious as to what your professional life in 3D looks? Check out the tool – it’s live on LinkedIn right now.

Primadesk Offers Another Cloud Management Option

I talked about Joukuu, a local cloud management tool, and how to get a pile of free cloud file storage in a previous post. Another option for the management task is Primadesk. Primadesk is a web-based tool that  operates like a file management system, albeit composed entirely of the contents of various popular cloud file storage sites. In a single window, you can easily drag and drop files between services or from web to desktop and search your entire cloud storage. Access a document by clicking on it, and the appropriate service will open in a new tab, with the document showing. Because it is web-based, it works across platforms and mobile devices. Store all types of files, images, videos and hook up your emails for a single monitoring vantage point. Offers a password manager, with single log-in. And can back up your data to another storage site. There is a Primadesk photo manager app for iPhone, too. Free and beta right now, so why not get in on the action?

The New WordPress iOS App!

Back a couple of weeks ago, I posted about blogging on the iPad, using two great apps Blogsy and Superstash. I mentioned in that post that I originally tried using the proprietary WordPress app on the iPhone but was very unsatisfied with the results. There have been a couple of updates since I first tried using the app for actual blogging, but I hadn’t been tempted to return to it. Until now.

Today, the WordPress app has been revamped and been rendered a lot more useful for me. Behind the scenes, the developer worked hard to make the app less buggy. But that is not what has me so excited. The app has added some very nice new features, including a Quick Photo feature which allows you to snap an image and immediately post around it within the app. Even better is the new Stats integration – no more using mobile Safari just to check who is hitting what on the Studio on a daily basis. You either have to be using WordPress.com, or have the Jetpack plug-in installed on your self-hosted WordPress blog to get the stats, but that is no problem – the Jetpack plug-in is an awesome add to your blog in any event. You can access comments and pages in the new WP app as well.

It is a great improvement, but there is still room for more. Like a WYSIWYG editor – typing out the HTML is a total drag. That is a feature that Blogsy has all over the WordPress app. Nonetheless, WordPress still offers stats, which is alone a reason for me to open this app regularly.

Mobile blogging just got better! Well done, Automaticc, and here is hoping for even more slick features in the near future.

HomePipe Hooks You Up, Sans Cloud Storage

Still not sure about moving all your key documents to the cloud, but still needing to be able to access them from anywhere? Want to collaborate but need to maintain a decent security level?

Enter HomePipe. This very cool, free-for-entry-level application allows instant remote access and file sharing from your main storage computer via any Web browser and pretty much any mobile device. Looking much like a cross between Pogoplug (but no hardware) and Dropbox (but no online storage requirement), HomePipe allows secure access between your Mac, Windows or Linux desktop and your iOS-powered, Android-powered or Windows Phone 7-powered device (apparently a Blackberry app is coming). It feels like Dropbox from the end-user perspective, but it is anything but. The files are still stored on your home or company computer and you can access and share from any other computer or mobile device. The resulting connection acts much like a Virtual Private Network, with the ability to cross firewalls. You can edit documents in-app, but be careful – there are no automatic backups or version control. Audio streaming is also supported, in the event you use HomePipe to make your audio video library available on the go.

Why HomePipe? There are no file size restrictions and you can purchase unlimited connections. Keep your data in-house while you access and share documents, presentations, photos and media. No need to spend money on storage or spend multiple hours uploading, organizing or syncing in the cloud.

HomePipe is free with a 10 use per month limit.  The next tier costs $23 per year with unlimited remote uses and no advertising. The mobile applications are all free. HomePipe is looking to woo enterprise users, with new added security features – you can specify access to shared files, require that users access via secure login and enjoy authenticated and encrypted content access via TLS/SSL.

Nice to see intermediate sharing options for the cloud-phobic.

Post Anything To Twitter With Twi.tt

Twitter is a great resource for sharing – be it blog posts, news items, images or videos. But what if you want to share more than that? Twi.tt has you covered. Twi.tt lets you share pictures, video, documents, audio and even polls on Twitter. Using your existing Twitter account, simply fill out the simple form on Twi.tt’s home page, add your own intro text and hit send. Images and video can be uploaded, shared from URL or captured via webcam. Upload or share documents by URL. Polls are created onsite, within the dialogue box that opens when you select the polls option. The result is a link posted in your Twitter stream that leads back to the poll box. While music sharing is not yet activated, it apparently is on its way, as there is an audio sharing button on the home page. In the meantime, there are plenty of other music sharing services that link to Twitter to hold you over until Twi.tt finishes building its site.  A simple tool with a simple, but very useful purpose!

Mimedia With 7GB of Free Cloud Backup/Storage

As we look ever skyward, instead of downward at our desktops, for apps and storage, newcomers will have to offer more to compete for attention. Enter Mimedia: an online storage site that offers 7GB free storage (or $9.99 per mo / $99 per year for 250GB or more) within a more interactive environment than the average online storage site. In addition to the usual, secure online storage locker, you can get instant, on demand access to your files from anywhere. This becomes extra useful when you are storing music or video, but still works nicely with files and photo galleries. To avoid the upload hassles, you can use Mimedia’s physical “shuttle drive” – they will send you the drive, you load the media as encrypted files and send it back, and they will upload it for you. New files and changes are backed up automatically in real-time.  Once in the cloud, you can access the information from anywhere with an internet connection. There is a local Mimedia application that is required for interacting with your acccount. The interface on the Web has more visual appeal than some, ahem, more well-known competitors.

All in all, Mimedia offers an affordable package with enough bells and whistles to make you want to take a second look. And, if free is what you are after, 7GB is a whole lot more than 2GB, last time I consulted my math skills.

Reflections of a Year Old Solo

Christopher G. Hill is lawyer and owner of the Richmond, VA firm, The Law Office of Christopher G. Hill, PC, a LEED AP.  Chris has been nominated and elected by his peers to Virginia’s Legal Elite in the Construction Law category on multiple occasions. He specializes in mechanic’s liens, contract review and consulting, occupational safety issues (VOSH and OSHA), and risk management for construction professionals.  Chris authors the Construction Law Musings blog where he discusses legal and policy issues relevant to construction professionals. You can follow him on Twitter at @constructionlaw.

The Advocate has also once again joined the Musings Guest Post Friday Brigade here.

[Ed. Note: It is always a treat when Chris visits the Studio! Thanks for the insightful post, my friend (and the tech props 🙂 ) and the opportunity to post at Musings. Making friends with people like you is really the “gold” to be found in on-line networking]

I’m baaaack! (OK, I couldn’t resist).  Seriously though, I’m thrilled to be back “cross posting” with Martha Sperry and getting to talk for a bit here at the Studio.

When Martha and I were talking about what to do on our next co-blogging adventure, I thought that I’d share my thoughts on solo practice now that I am almost a year into this grand adventure.  First of all, without folks like Martha (among others) this would not be half so fun or rewarding.  Second, I was asked to talk about tech in my practice (this is a tech/law blog after all!).

Let me start out by saying that many of the tools that I’ve found helpful were first introduced to me through the Advocate’s Studio.  Without many of these tools, my solo practice (and when I say solo, I mean that I’m the entire staff of my law firm) would not be half as productive or rewarding.  Many of them allow me some of the flexibility to set certain hours and hand with my family while still being productive and as stress free as law practice will allow (especially in the construction field these days!). 

Use of Web 2.0 (or is it 3.0 these days) for both marketing (whether through my construction blog, firm website, LinkedIn or other tools) and for practice management (through Clio) and backup (I use Backblaze, but there are several other options) helps me to breathe easy knowing that if I can find a web connection, I can find my documents or continue my marketing plans.  Frankly, I wonder how solos did it in the past.

While I have yet to join the IPhone or IPad craze, I take full advantage of my trusty blackberry to make sure I can stay in contact with clients (though I have had to train myself that not all e-mails need immediate response).  Google Apps keeps me in touch and up on the latest news, syncing relatively seamlessly with my Blackberry.  Whether I respond immediately or not, the ability to stay in touch is a great security blanket for one who does not have someone “back at the office” to field calls or find documents.

As far as filing, I am as paperless as possible.  My trusty Brother 7840W scanner/copier/fax coupled with the drop box functionality of Clio (the e-mail docs to matters function makes filing a snap) and Adobe Acrobat X keeps my desk at least relatively clean. 

In short (yes, I know, it’s too late for that), technology, particularly web based technology helps my solo practice run smoothly.  A strong mix of online tech and offline interaction can and does keep my practice growing and fun.

Thanks again to Martha for yet another opportunity to guest post here at the Studio and I welcome your comments.