Total Attorneys Has It's Own App Store

 

Total Attorneys is a web-based (read: cloud-based) law practice management program. Essentially, TA provides the means for clients to retain your services, make payments, upload documents and complete forms online, while you and your colleagues can access complete case files at any time from any location with a secure Internet connection. Manage your practice, track time, send bills, manage documents and communicate with clients, all from a centralized Web location. They even offer virtual receptionist services from their Chicago location. Sounds pretty cool, right?

 

It gets cooler. TA has now implemented an App store for its platform, called Total Apps, unveiling the wonder at the ABA Tech show going on in Chicago as we speak. The first apps out of the box include:

 

• Fastcase, for legal research

• Capital Payments, for payment processing

• LegalEase, for attorney and paralegal contract support services

• Legal Web Experts, for website creation and marketing

• Virtual Receptionist, for fielding calls

• LawQA, to showcase expertise

• Google Sync, to keep Contacts, Calendars and Tasks in line

• IfByPhone, to reach out to leads that have contacted you

• LegalLeads, TA’s own lead generation service

 

Plus, TA has an iPhone and iPad app to enable access to the platform while on the go. The timetracking feature on the mobile apps is ultra simple to use, making it quite easy to accurately keep time. Plus you can easily access the various tasks within the platform and, I presume in the near future, the apps via the mobile interface as well.

 

 

TA is making its API available to developers in the hopes that third parties will pick up and run with the store and integrate more functionality into the platform. I think this is a forward-thinking means of managing legal practice in a way  our rapidly mobilized society can understand – with app-based, tool-oriented deployable solutions. Nice work, guys.

 

 

 

Advertisements

The State of Wikipedia – In Graphic Form

Cartoon By Martha Sperry

Studio reader Jen Rhee pointed me to this infographic after reading my article on my old blog site called the State of Wikipedia. It is quite timely, as it follows the recent news about Encyclopedia Britannica abandoning its print volumes. The infographic offers some sobering statistics on Wikipedia’s wild popularity as a research tool, still growing while interest in libraries and book research is on the decline. There is good and bad in that – perhaps the most troubling stat for me is that more than 50% of students will halt their research if there is little to be found on the subject in Wikipedia. And, as always, I am troubled by heavy and sole reliance on a resource that is edited by the masses, although Wikipedia has fought hard to keep their content on the up and up.

 

Check out the infographic below for some interesting data on the Great Wiki’s impact on traditional research modes.

Wikipedia
Via: Open-Site.org

Now For Something A Bit Different – MOBiLE CLOTH

 

I wear glasses and shoot photos with a camera. Both have lenses that are prone to smudging. I also have lots of shiny gadgets. And I prefer glossy screen for the color saturation. That means fingerprints and lots of them. Especially on my touch screen devices. I am not a fan of the oily build up so I try to keep cleaning cloths scattered around my various work spaces and in my car for those times when enough is enough. The cloths I have been using generally are quite thin, even silky, and do a passable job of getting the smudges off, usually with some degree of elbow grease.

 

A few weeks back, John Hartigan of MOBiLE CLOTH contact me and asked if I would like to try his company’s cleaning cloth product. “Sure,” I replied, so he sent me a few examples of his wares, free of charge. I gave one to my attorney – smartphone-toting husband and kept a couple for myself. They come in two sizes, the Nano (a 4″ by 4″ cloth) and the Classic (a 9″ by 9″ cloth). The cloths have a thicker, almost chenille-like feel from the nubby texture, and an approximate 1/4″ binding. They are quite soft as well. Apparently, the nub design comes from weaving  extremely thin fibers. The pitch is that the nubs pull or suction away the grime, oils and germs more effectively than a flat cloth. I can attest to that. I could pull most of the prints off my iPhone with a single swipe, although the perfectionist in me added a few more passes to ensure cleanliness. No water or cleaning solution is necessary, which is a good thing since most manufacturers recommend against using solutions on these delicate screens.

 

I have been using the wipes for a few weeks and they have been holding up well. I haven’t yet had to wash them but apparently they are washable, as long as you don’t use an iron, bleach or a fabric softener. Instead, use warm water in your machine or via hand washing and don’t wash them with cotton or your cloth will become a lint magnet. My only question on this product is the choice of white background, which invariably will require more frequent cleanings. Hopefully the cloth can stand the test of more frequent washings.

 

 

I find their prices quite reasonable. If you are interested in purchasing for yourself, they offer several gift pack options, starting with two packs of either the classic or nano for $6.99. The price per cloth goes down from there, depending on the number you purchase. Shipping is free over $17 so buy a couple of packs – starting with the four pack sizes you get a free cloth. Strew them around your work spaces, store in your car or briefcase and you are all set for smudges. MOBiLE CLOTH also stands behind their product with a 100% money back guaranty within 30 days for any reason.

 

 

For an even cooler idea for your business, you can get them imprinted with your logo. The samples John sent me are imprinted and they do look quite nice even on the nubby surface. Promo orders start at 200 units for $399, which isn’t a bad price when you consider the various options. Plus, who doesn’t need a screen cleaner these days? I haven’t had the opportunity to see how the imprint holds up to multiple washings, so I can’t comment on that.

 

 

All in all, MOBiLE CLOTH seems a great product for its purpose and something a bit different if you are looking for a custom promotional product. My husband is enjoying his too. Thanks John for the nice cleaning cloths!

Sidengo: Another Free Platform Builder

Joining the ranks of Flavors.me, Dooid, Zerply and About.me is Sidengo – a free website builder that requires no coding skills and about ten minutes of your time. I love these great “do it yourself” tools for those of use who don’t necessarily have the full-on skills of a web developer but want to get the word out about their business or self-promotional efforts.

If you have used any of these before, the dashboard and sitebuilder will look quite familiar. Simply follow the instructions in the builder by adding in the relevant information when asked, linking up your media, uploading your images and logos, and filling in your contact information and Voila! you have a site.

 

I like the fact that you can have multiple pages with this particular tool. It also integrates nicely with your existing hangouts on the web, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. The contact page is pretty feature rich as well, with integrated Google maps information. You can use a custom domain, upload a favicon, download a QR code pointing to your site and generate embeddable widgets which you can share anywhere on the web. Check how your site is doing on the dashboard tab. And, for the mobile-inclined, the sites are iPhone compatible, and you can create a custom icon to appear on the iPhone home screen, giving the site the look of a mobile web app with a professional appearance.

 

 

As I have often said, it is worth taking advantage of as many of these tools as possible when building a web presence, as it offers you another outpost for your information and message. It is particularly attractive when the price is free (for now). Check it out and check back here with your URL – would love to see what you built.

ResumUP Your Resume

More on the visual front. I am a big fan of the new wave of visually-inspired resume builders. ResumUP is a new player in this field with a very easy, detailed resume creation tool built on Facebook and LinkedIn. The tool is in beta, but from my view point, works just fine. The resume piece offers great depth in editing professional and educational experience, achievements and career focus, as well as boxes for pycho-social elements to fill out your character profile. The result is quite gorgeous, full of charts, detail and color.

 

But ResumUP doesn’t stop at your background. You can also make your job searching intentions known on the site, and employers can search and post “visual vacancies.”  The job postings mirror the visual style of the resumes, with corresponding charts and graphics for job description, experience levels, necessary skills, benefits and compensation. Check out some of the sample postings here.

 

Of course, there is a social piece. You can take advantage of a dashboard when you connect with friends on the site. Plus there are plenty of sharing tools for spreading your resume, with buttons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. There is a message center within the app. And, you can download your resume in PDF form via the export feature.

 

I think the idea is quite brilliant – the Web is an experiential place. Offering a visually-appealing means to promote yourself and peruse jobs seems a natural fit for how we interact with information. If you would like a peek at how ResumUP works and looks, check out the video below. And take a few minutes to create your own graphic resume at their site.

 

Visual.ly Outs Its Easy Infographic Creation Tool

I love a good infographic. Now I, and you, can make your own with Visual.ly’s infographic tool. I wrote about Visual.ly a while back when the site was new and the tool was in development – simple, infographic creation without a graphic design background.

If you want to check out the tool and create your own masterpiece, head over to Visual.ly, click on the “create” button, connect to Twitter and pick a hashtag of interest. Visual.ly will then fill in the blanks about your choice, adding data and design elements to bring the hashtag to life in graphic form, in about a minute or so.

Visual.ly has already served as a collecting point for homegrown infographics, with a social forum for browsing and liking contributors’ material. Now Visual.ly offers built-in tools for creating your own. Share it on Facebook or Twitter or on Visual.ly, download it, email it or embed it. Nice tool for the visually-inclined.

In honor of the new iPad fervor on launch day, check out my iPad 3 infographic below:

infographic created with visual.ly

New in Google Scholar: Significant Citing Cases

20120313-163340.jpg

Use Google Scholar for your legal research? Then you may be happy to hear that the Scholar team has further refined the service to highlight significant cases that cite to a particular legal opinion. “Significant” means it discusses the cited case to a greater degree, maybe distinguishing or even rejecting or overturning it.

Scholar always provided citing documents, showing them in order of prominence. Now, in Scholar, those citing cases will be shown in order of significance. So, not unlike services like say Westlaw, citations are shown with the greatest discussion and treatment at the top, and the least at the bottom of the list. Scholar also marks the amount of discussion visually in three tiers. Citing cases that only cite the original case show no marking at all. The tiers are shown with horizontal hashes to the left of the case name.

To say this makes Scholar more useful would be an understatement – as Scholar adds more and more features, the dream of useful free legal research edges closer to reality.

Some Minor, But Welcome, Changes in iOS 5.1

 

Along with the shiny new iPad hardware, Apple has released the newest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 5.1, which is compatible with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch 3rd Generation, iPod touch 4th gen, iPad, iPad 2, and “new iPad.” I got prompted to update the software last night. If you haven’t seen this yet, go into Settings > General > Software Update and get it for yourself (back up your device first). While the only major benefit to 5.1 discussed in the keynote was Siri in Japan, there are a few additional touches in the system that improve the iDevice experience.

 

So what do you get? First, you can now delete photos from the Photo Stream on any iOS 5.1. device. The deletions will only appear effective on devices running iOS 5.1. Additionally, you will only be able to delete photos uploaded to the photo stream on a 5.1 equipped device, so those older photos will remain for 30 more days. You can clear out the entire Photo Stream on icloud.com.

 

Next, Apple’s has improved the quick camera access via the home screen – no longer will you have to double tap the home button to bring up the camera button. Now the camera button will appear on the bottom right corner of the home screen: simply slide the camera button up to access the camera and slide it back down when done.

 

Next, iTunes Match has been improved. You can get Genius Playlists and Mixes now. Settings now includes a “use cellular data” option so that you can shut off streaming when away from wifi. Along with the  iTunes 10.6 update that came this week, users are reporting smoother, less bumpy playback so it appears the new OS fixes some bugs.

 

The new OS also adds greater granularity to the location notifications – check Settings > Location Services, where the new notifications are described. The notifications will show which apps are using what types of services.

 

iOS 5.1 comes with improvements to the iPad camera and facial recognition as well. Playback speed and skip back controls are now available in iPad podcast player. And, a curious “4G” indicator is now showing up on iPhone 4S – no, this doesn’t mean that your iPhone is now 4G capable. It appears to now detect when you are in a HSPA+ network. The new iPad will show an LTE indicator when it is actually in an LTE network.

 

That’s about the size of it. While not earth shattering, certainly better than the old version so its worth updating.

How To Cite To A Tweet

Let’s face it: sooner or later you might need to cite to a tweet, as a news source or an attributed quote, or for some other purpose entirely. But the Blue Book or the Maroon Book or whatever book law students use these days probably doesn’t have proper citation style for tweets. So what do you do?
You can head over to the Modern Language Association for their take on how to use proper tweet citation form. There, you will find the following instruction:

 

Begin the entry in the works-cited list with the author’s real name and, in parentheses, user name, if both are known and they differ. If only the user name is known, give it alone.

Next provide the entire text of the tweet in quotation marks, without changing the capitalization. Conclude the entry with the date and time of the message and the medium of publication (Tweet). For example:

Athar, Sohaib (ReallyVirtual). “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).” 1 May 2011, 3:58 p.m. Tweet.

The date and time of a message on Twitter reflect the reader’s time zone. Readers in different time zones see different times and, possibly, dates on the same tweet. The date and time that were in effect for the writer of the tweet when it was transmitted are normally not known. Thus, the date and time displayed on Twitter are only approximate guides to the timing of a tweet. However, they allow a researcher to precisely compare the timing of tweets as long as the tweets are all read in a single time zone.

In the main text of the paper, a tweet is cited in its entirety (7.4.1):

Sohaib Athar noted that the presence of a helicopter at that hour was “a rare event.”

or

The presence of a helicopter at that hour was “a rare event” (Athar).

 

One of my tweets might look like this:

 

Sperry, Martha ‏ @advocatesstudio “Research Suggests Technology Distracts 2Ls Most During Lectures feedly.com/k/A19xpk hmm. Really?” 8 Mar 2012 10:50 a.m. Tweet.

 

Simple enough. And now you know.

 

iPad 3, iPad HD, New iPad – Take Your Pick

20120308-082658.jpg

Yesterday came and went and the rumors have moved into the recycle bin as the reality sets in: the new iPad is here! With all the fanfare and hoopla that accompanies any Apple product launch, there necessarily comes the excited cheers of approval mixed with the bitter tears of disappointment. I marvel at the range of emotions an Apple launch invariably brings. But that is not what I really want to talk about here. I would rather talk about specs.

So, what is the iPad 3 – HD – New all about? Mostly processing muscle and display resolution. A lot of both. The new tablet does indeed support a retina display like its little brother iPhone 4S, with a whopping 2048 x 1536 pixels, 264 pixels per inch, for a grand total of 3.1 million tiny points of light. That’s a whole lot for a 9 inch screen. Four times the pixels of the iPad 2, and about a million more than your standard HDTV. The new screen should appear mostly pixel free with a great deal more color saturation. And, to run this visual marvel, the tablet is powered by dual core processor with quad core graphics capabilities – for you geeks, its an A5X chip. So, its going to run fast, and look great doing it.

What else is new? An iSight camera on the front and a better rear camera, along the design lines of the iPhone 4S’ camera (backside illumination, 5-element lens, hybrid IR filter), albeit with a lower resolution sensor at 5 MP. It will shoot 1080p video, though, which should look great in playback on that awesome screen.

With similar battery life and slightly thicker and heavier body, it is virtually indistinguishable to the eye from the iPad 2.

And that’s it for hardware.

UPDATE: I just learned the new iPad also employs the new Bluetooth 4.0 technology, which means it is Bluetooth Smart Ready – the first tablet to have this. What this means is crazy-long battery life for accessories like keyboards and headsets, and better functionality with the new health monitoring gadgets that are looking to bond with iPad apps.

Of course, Apple has to give a bit on the software too – iOS 5.1 is available right now for all your iDevices and will come preloaded on the iPad 3. While Siri is not built into this iPad (sadly enough), it does come with the ability to take dictation via a mic button on the keyboard. It will also be able to access the data net at quad core LTE 4G speeds – as soon as the carrier nets catch up. The tech does actually offer greater download and upload speeds, as the demos showed during the keynote yesterday. So, the new iPad will be faster on the Web as well. And, it can even act as a 4G hotspot, to serve as liaison between your other devices and the Web.

Of course, Apple’s proprietary apps are being updated to take advantage of the new speeds and resolution. Look for updates to iWork, iMovie and Garageband. With the feature set in these apps and the specs of the tablet, you have to take very seriously the iPad as content creation tool now. Take, for example, the new iPhoto app for the new iPad – you will be able to leverage that awesome touch interface to work some serious editing magic on your pics – up to 19 megapixels in size, as well as share and combine photos into metadata-laden journals. iTunes in the Cloud will now allow seamless streaming of purchased movies to all iDevices, which again should look wholly awesome on the new iPad.

The new iPad will hit the same price points as the iPad 2, which will be dropped $100. That’s good news – you can now get a very VERY nice tablet from Apple for $399 starting, and the new features at the same old price.

Of course, Web pundits are all over the map on the release, some bemoaning the label “New iPad”, others left wishing for more. Complaints and praise abound. But the bottom line is that Apple is still the tablet maker of choice and the iPad continues to set the standard that everyone else is trying to approach.

What do the new features mean for business users? Obviously, faster speeds and connectivity mean more efficient computing. For those who are not so fond of the on-screen keyboard, dictation mode will be a nice add. Improvements to iWork should also assist on the work front. If your biz is more artistically oriented, the new iMovie and Garageband, as well as new third party apps from developers such as Autodesk with their awesome Sketchbook app, will move the iPad further away from toy and further towards serious tool for creating music, movies and art.

Should you buy it? Well, I have developed a new philosophy with Apple’s mobile devices – skip a generation and get at least a couple of years use out of each one. Apple is not wildly innovating between models, offering only modest rather than life-changing improvements with each new release. Not that these improvements aren’t great and desirable, but they do not necessarily compel me to plunk down hundreds every time a new Apple device is unveiled. So, if you already have an iPad 2, maybe the new iPad isn’t so attractive, unless you can’t live without that fantastic display.

I currently use the original iPad. I still love it – it is a solid device that performs great and offers me tons of use. I take it with me instead of my laptop on business trips as I have enabled enough work arounds on it to meet pretty much every need I have. But, I will be buying a new iPad, having skipped the iPad 2’s cameras and software improvements, as the leap in functionality is much bigger between the original and the new, justifying the expense. I already know I will use the device, something I wasn’t sure of when I purchased the original iPad. And my son can’t wait until I hand down the original to him, so it is win-win-win all around for me.

For the record, I am going with the 32 GB, 4G model, which mirrors my original iPad’s specs. And, for the record, I had zero problem pre-ordering on Apple’s site, which apparently hasn’t been a universal experience. After I get my hands on it, I will check back here with my actual usage impressions and let you know whether it was worth the hype and the change. I am guessing, though, that I won’t be disappointed.