OS X Mountain Lion – Is It For You?

 

OS X Mountain Lion is now out and available to Mac users everywhere. For $19.99, you can tap into Apple’s latest OS for its more traditional computers. But the new OS brings Apple’s traditional computers as close to their popular iPhone and iPad products as Apple has ventured yet. Some really smart people I know predicted this move a couple of years ago  – Apple’s migration to a single OS that favors its mobile and spreads iOS functionality to all Apple computers. So, if you are wondering whether to upgrade, you should first ask yourself: how much do I like the iPad and iPhone interface?

 

Another question you should ask yourself is: how much do I use or want to use iCloud? Last year’s Lion knocked on the door of the then-newly introduced iCloud integration, but Mountain Lion just barges right through with a fanfare.

 

Finally, you should take a look at your set-up and ask: do I use a Mac, an iPad and/or iPhone? Because with all the great integration across devices, you will want to make sure you are actually using the devices this new operating system favors – Apple’s own products.

 

There are more than 200 new features, and I won’t list them all in this post, but you can see them all here.  I will highlight some. First, there are the iOS features that you can now find on your Mac with Mountain Lion: Notifications, iMessage (in which you can easily switch to Facetime Video Chat), the iOS Share button now available in Safari, iPhoto, Preview and offering one-click sharing to your favorite social networks after you log into them once. Another feature, which some might find troublesome, is the same gatekeeper mentality found in the iOS app store now protecting your Mac from downloads – the Gatekeeper application pushes you to download  from the Mac App Store or a registered Apple Developer (I used to be one!). The idea is to protect you from malicious or undesirable downloads, but the obvious downside is limiting access or making access to other fine applications that don’t necessarily fit these narrow parameters more difficult.

 

As noted above, iCloud is far more able in the new OS – you can now get synced access across devices for Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Messages, FaceTime, Game Center, Safari, Reminders, iTunes, the Mac App Store, and Notes. With iCloud documents from the Pages app, you get a new document library with views, sharing and foldering.

 

Safari has a unified search box / url box, a la Chrome and iCloud tabs to be shared across devices. Like previous integration of Twitter in Lion, Apple has now married Facebook with single sign on and Facebook sharing features throughout. You can also match your contacts with their Facebook photos, so they look prettier (or not as the case may be). Game Center is now incorporated on your Mac. Dictation is now available in any app via a keyboard shortcut. There is AirPlay mirroring from your computer to your TV as well.

 

These are the high points. My sense is that you will get a lot of value for your buck with Mountain Lion is you are sold already on Apple’s mobile OS. Even more bang for your buck if you are sold on iCloud. Nonetheless, even if you are not so sure on these, there are improved security and system features that fill out the $19.99 price tag without making you feel like you bought a bag of air. All in all, Mountain Lion offers some very nice features for a very nice price, many that will make managing your business and personal life easier.

 

 

The Advocate's Vacation

 

Yes, even Advocates need to take a break once in a while. I will be tuning out for a couple of weeks. Be back soon with lots of great content.

 

 

Blekko's new Social News Curation Tool ROCKZi

 

I love Blekko, the search engine. I have reviewed it here before and it is one of my go-to search resources because of  the intelligent way it offers access to web information.

 

Now Blekko is dipping its toes into news curation. ROCKZi, with the tagline “read, vote, rock,” is designed to offer a solution to reading, discovering and curating interesting news along vertical categories. Add to and upvote stories on the site, gain “karma” points that increase your standing within the community, share stories and start discussions over shared interests.

 

If you know anything about Blekko, you likely know about “slashtags”, the tags that users can employ to limit search to certain pre-described categories. Boards on ROCKZi are much like slashtags – they give you access to a particular news vertical, so you can be assured of relevant stories within the category. Like slashtags over at Blekko, the number of boards is growing. Right now, you can peruse the following:

 

 

For bonus points, see if you can figure out the category from the title.

 

There is a bookmarklet that you can use to add stories while surfing. The board pages are laid out nicely, with a certain homage to Flipboard, and you can easily see from the thumbnail how many votes the stories have garnered. Hover over the thumbnails to add a “this rocks” or “comment” to the story. When you comment, you might note the similarity to a Facebook share – the comments employ a Facebook social plug-in and you can obviously log into ROCKZi with your Facebook profile. Fortunately, you can turn on and off posting your comments and likes to Facebook if you wish. When you just generally search the site without employing a board limiter, you will get all stories that contain your keyword, with filtering for top or recent.

 

I know what you’re thinking – I need another site for reading news like I need a hole in the head. If that new site is offering you stories you aren’t otherwise finding in your RSS feeds or social networks, then that site is worthwhile in my opinion. Better the story you know, than the story you don’t, to coin a phrase. And, with Blekko’s quality, it is hard for me to imagine ROCKZi being a dog. If you have some free time, head on over to ROCKZi and get some great curated news. Perhaps ROCKZi will pick up where the shattered remains of Digg have left off.

Finding Public Google Docs

If you take my Everything Google course at Solo Practice University, you may recall from the Google Docs class that you can set your visibility on your Google Docs from the share button to private, anyone with the link, or public on the web. Public docs are accessible and viewable by anyone on the web. But how, exactly, do you find such public Google Docs?

 

Google Operating System blog has some tips for you on searching for these elusive public documents. You can’t find them within Docs or Google Drive. But you can via Google search. The post offers these handy queries:

 

Here are some useful queries that let you find public Google Drive/Docs files (you can append some keywords to the queries):

* [site:docs.google.com/document/d] – find text documents

* [site:docs.google.com/presentation/d] – find presentations

* [site:docs.google.com/drawings/d] – find drawings

* [site:docs.google.com/file/d] – find files: images, videos, PDF files, Microsoft Office documents and more (you should click “repeat the search with the omitted results included” since there are many files with similar titles)

* [site:docs.google.com/folder/d] – find folders (collections of files and other folders)

* [site:docs.google.com/open] – find other documents, folders and files (the links redirect to other URLs)

Public spreadsheets and forms can’t be indexed by search engines.

 

There you have it. Happy searching!

Do A Google Search Only In Government Websites

 

Yes, I am taking the Power Searching with Google Course. Yes, I am learning lots of cool stuff. No, this is not one of the things I learned from the course. But it is a helpful tip nonetheless.

 

I did something similar with all of the State Insurance Department Websites, the NAIC, and a couple of other good insurance specific sites with reliable information. If you want to do it yourself, you can create your own custom Google search engine and plug in the sites you want to troll when you want to get right to the point.

 

According to ResearchBuzz, there used to be something called Uncle Sam Google Search, which was shut down last year. This allowed you to search all the government websites. You can always insert the [site: _____.gov] search qualifier, but if you have a lot of government sites to view, this would be very unwieldy.

 

So, the nice author / editor at ResearchBuzz created a custom Google Search for all .gov state, county and city sites imaginable. You can find it here. Here is the post describing why and how it was created. It is a very useful site – I recommend you bookmark it.

 

Thanks to ResearchBuzz for the tool! And, a tip I did learn from the Power Searching course – you may notice that when you search for a larger, more well-known site, or government site, the Google results page may show the hit with a small search box under the abstract – if you type your search in there, you will search that particular site! Pretty cool indeed.

 

UPDATE: how timely! Today’s Power Searching course talked about various Google operators. The [site:] operator was discussed. Little did I know, you can use this operator with just the higher level domain and not the site identifier. In other words [site:.gov] will search in every site that has .gov as a domain. Similarly, [site:edu] will search all sites with an .edu domain. Very helpful to know.

Remember Ning? Your Own Soc Net Has Some New Features

 

I had almost forgotten about Ning, the roll your own custom social network platform. I am actually a member on a couple of Ning sites, but haven’t been back in quite a long time. No criticism of Ning implied – I simply haven’t had enough time to visit all the fun web properties I have staked a claim in.

 

To recap, Ning-ites can create their own community website. They can customize appearance and feel with photos, videos, forums and blogs. You can “Like” and integrate with Facebook, Twitter, Google and Yahoo!. Community managers can charge for membership directly within their Ning Network and  can monetize by using services provided through Ning’s partnerships. There are in the vicinity of 100,000 communities. There are various features and price points now, gone are the days of free Ning.

 

Ning was bought last year by Glam Media, an advertising company. Previously, if you wanted to advertise your site or on Ning, you had to use tools like Google AdSense. Until now.

 

Glam Media is rolling out its own Ning advertising platform, that leverages social data and new models, such as branded discussions around a topic connected to the particular advertiser. Ning communities can use premium ads to advertise to other Ning communities, and will be able to advertise outside of Ning using Glam’s own Glam Social, and use the advertising on websites across the internet wilds.

 

 

Glam has also improved Ning’s look and function. It is now optimized for mobile viewing (about time!). Glam is also outing a new paid product – Ning VIP – intended to offer more scalability, customization, and tech support. Pricing starting at $1,000 per month.

 

Have you been over to Ning or a Ning community lately? Seems more than 50 million people a month have. With more than 2,000 new networks created monthly, it seems the do it yourself mentality is alive and well in the social networking space. Heck, even Linkin Park has its’ own Ning community. Maybe your trade group or law firm should consider one too.

 

 

 

 

I'm Gonna Be A Google Power-Searcher!

Summertime – the best time to go back to school! I just enrolled in Google Search Education’s upcoming free Power Searching with Google Course. So, what is it about? Here’s the description:

 

Google Search makes it amazingly easy to find information. Come learn about the powerful advanced tools we provide to help you find just the right information when the stakes are high.

 

The stakes are ALWAYS high, whether I am looking for a very recent agency alert or the best Chinese food in Northern Maine. So, naturally, I enrolled.  Here’s the Schedule:

 

Schedule

  • Pre-class assessment
  • Class 1 – Introduction [ available July 10 ]
  • Class 2 – Interpreting results [ available July 11 ]
  • Class 3 – Advanced techniques [ available July 12 ]
  • Mid-class assessment
  • Class 4 – Find facts faster [ available July 17 ]
  • Class 5 – Checking your facts [ available July 18 ]
  • Class 6 – Putting it all together [ available July 19 ]
  • Post-class assessment

 

The class starts July 10th. If you care to join me, sign up with your Google account at the registration page here. It is six 50 minute classes – take them over a two week window. There will be traditional exercises, interactive searching, Google+ Hangouts, and Google Groups in which you can talk to other students from around the world and Google Search team members. How freaking cool is that? Bring your own search and they can give you hints and tips.

 

Signups are open until July 16th. Course starts on the 10th, so run, don’t walk. And, you’ll get a nifty Certificate when you are done. Professional “High Stakes” Searcher or something like that. I’m all in on this one.

Shop For a New Lawyer By Video Chat, via LawZam

 

Back when online video chat was just starting to break, with apps like Seesmic and 6Rounds, and later with Google+ Hangouts and even mobile Facetime on iOS (and now on OSX), I recall discussion in the legal community about the utility of such applications for legal professionals, and questioning whether video chat could be useful at all. As someone who is always looking for a way to find the fit for new tech, I firmly believed that such applications could serve a useful professional purpose.

Enter, LawZam. I heard about it over at Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites blog and, frankly, I am intrigued. Bob quotes founder Claudio Dunkelman who describes his site as “speed dating for the legal world.” As long as we are not talking about “Chatroulette for the Legal Profession”, this is an eyebrow-raising, but not altogether inappropriate mash-up of concepts, LawZam offers a platform for video consultations and two-way chat between lawyer and potential client. If a match is not made, then the client can initiate chats with other attorneys until he or she achieves the right fit. All this with no cost to attorneys or clients – revenues will come from advertising and an as yet undisclosed premium service.

 

The site allows the consumer to “ask a lawyer”, “post a job” or submit a query to “review my case” and promises that the consumer will receive a response from an attorney within minutes. You can also search for lawyers by area of law, location or name. Right now, the front page shows available lawyers from California and Florida, with a bit of detail about the lawyer and/or firm. I dug a bit deeper and found some lawyers from Texas and New York as well.

 

From LawZam’s about page:

LawZam is committed to increasing access to legal assistance by providing a platform for the public to receive free legal consultations by videoconference. Finding a lawyer can be a frustrating process for many people. LawZam seeks to address that problem by enabling people to find lawyers quickly, and conduct face-to-face video consultations with lawyers online.

Attorneys registered with our service do not charge fees for initial consultations, and users of our website have no obligation to hire the lawyers they meet. LawZam does not get involved or receive any fees from agreements between lawyers and clients. Simply put, LawZam is a venue for communication–not a law firm.

We hope to facilitate the communication of helpful information to people seeking legal assistance, so people can make informed decisions and protect their legal rights. If you have any questions or suggestions to improve our service, please feel free to contact us at support@lawzam.com.

 

There is also an extensive terms of use and privacy policy, along with repeated assurances that this is not a referral service and that no attorney client relationship is created via the video chatting interface. For those interested – attorneys and consumers – there is a registration link on the front page.

 

I have not actually tried the service out, so I cannot speak to the fit and feel of the experience, but I do very much like the idea. In keeping with our brave new economic world, in which consumers take it upon themselves to go online and “do the research” and are savvy enough not to commit without some understanding of the potential value, services like LawZam may be very beneficial to attorneys. Video chat offers a means for lawyers to get out in front of that process with an actual personal, moving presence — far more compelling than a static website, or even a tweet stream or Facebook page.  For those attorneys that speak better than they write – and I know you are out there – then LawZam might be the modern advertising answer for you.