Google? Whatsa Google?

This brilliantly funny video displays a person quite rare these days: someone who has never interacted with Google. DMX, the rapper, explains to Power 105.1 radio that he has never been with a Google and doesn’t even know what the word means. The video is just great and a welcome reminder that not all of us are tech-sotted Internetizens.

Did I say I love this video?

Legal Tech Thoughts From A Relative Luddite (Guest Post)

Christopher G. Hill is lawyer, Virginia Supreme Court certified General District Court mediator and owner of the Richmond, VA firm, The Law Office of Christopher G. Hill, PC, a LEED AP. Chris authors the Construction Law Musings blog where he discusses legal and policy issues relevant to construction professionals. Additionally, Chris is active in the Associated General Contractors of Virginia and a member of the Board of Governors for the Construction Law and Public Contracts Section of the Virginia State Bar.


First of all, thanks again to my pal Martha Sperry for the great opportunity to post here at The Advocates Studio yet again (this is my fifth guest post and the fourth cross posting between the Studio and Construction Law Musings). Please check out my other posts relating to my solo startup, social media and my use of the cloud once you’re done with this article.

Also, be sure to check out Martha’s great post on the iPhone 5 and productivity at Musings. Martha also adds some great thoughts, practical advice, and a bit of humor to the Guest Post Friday lineup.

Now, on with the show. . .

You are probably wondering about the title of this post. If you’ve read through Musings, or any of my other posts relating to the use of the cloud or tech here and elsewhere, you know that the “cloud” and other computer and web-based practice tools are a big part of my solo construction practice. So, why the “luddite” comment?

Despite the fact that a wise lady once told me that “there’s always someone who knows less than you,” I am constantly surprised by those who come to me for advice on social media, blogging or even tech related stuff. I have never seen myself as a computer or tech whiz by any means. While computers have never been scary to me, I remember when a great home computer was an Apple //e and the mouse was an innovation. In short, like many of us lawyers (particularly those over 40) I’m muddling through just like you are. That said, necessity has been the mother of invention.

You are reading the thoughts of the owner and only employee of my law firm. As such, when I’m not at my desk, no one is. When I went solo over 2 years ago now (who knew time could fly so fast), I needed to simplify, lower overhead and make myself portable. I also didn’t have time to learn a lot of new stuff.

On the marketing side, I sent out announcements by actual snail mail (who knew that the post office could still help out a lawyer?), but to do this I pulled my Outlook and Gmail contacts to send to the mailing service. I was able to “take” my construction blog with me, continued with the blog and social media efforts, and started meeting with folks in real-time (partly because contractors don’t really take to “virtual” meetings).

While my marketing is a seriously blended web/on the ground mix, my practice management is as paperless and cloud based as I can make it. For me, this is where the tech rubber meets the road. When I started my new firm I grabbed a Clio account, imported my contacts and started to store .pdfs of my documents on Clio’s cloud based system. Since then, Clio (among other cloud based systems) has gotten more feature-rich and easy to use, adding online credit card processing and easy one click billing.

The reason I like the cloud for this sort of thing has little to do with my love of gadgets (though that does have something to do with it) but with the need to assure client service by having access to my files from anywhere with a safe internet connection (read, not Starbucks). I can pull up my Blackberry Playbook tablet, hook to Clio through my bridged Blackberry Curve (really, I’m not kidding, I don’t own an iPhone or an iPad) or laptop and review a document while out of the office. I also don’t like to have any more paper than I can help because of the clutter and space issues with my one office setup.

Other tools I use? A ScanSnap S1500 scanner that allows me to scan to both my docked laptop and to Clio directly, Backblaze for offsite backup and, as a second failsafe a GoFlex hard drive that constantly backs all of this stuff up all help keep my practice running. I also use Google Apps for e-mail and occasional collaboration.

In short (yes, I know it’s too late for that), I see no reason to jump into the cloud full force unless it makes your practice easier and makes it easier to keep your clients happy. The telephone (not “smartphone”) is a great tool for actually talking to clients and potential targets. E-mail, Twitter, text messages and other uses for cell phones are great, just don’t forget that all of our clients are real people and that tech for techs sake is not necessarily the best way to serve yourself or your clients.

There are a ton of great tech tools and gadgets out there, just be sure to use the ones that help and jettison those that don’t.

Thanks again to my pal Martha and I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Printer Ink More Expensive Than Dom Perignon? Seriously?

Nothing like a good infographic to sober you up. And quite a timely one at that for me – I just placed another order for the very expensive ink that must be installed in my Canon InkJet printer. This infgraphic compares the high cost of printer ink to the relatively lower costs of Dom Perignon and Chanel No. 5, Absolute Vodka, Petrol (this one was made Down Under), Maple Syrup, Milk and a lowly liter of water. Really now. It’s just printer ink. I’ll take my Cyan shaken, not stirred, with an olive. Hat tip to MakeUseOf.

Everpurse: Wireless Charging Bag for your Mobile Device

Time to stump for another great Kickstarter project. This one is called the Everpurse. I know and you know that we smartphone users are likely going to run the battery out on that iDevice or Android or Blackberry or whatever smartphone of choice you carry.  What with all the reading, emailing, calling, texting, GPS’ing, Instagraming, Facebooking, tweeting, and gaming you have to fit in, invariably the battery will fade. I know mine does.

Have you ever used one of those battery cases? You may not mind the extra bulk but I finally had to give up – most smartphones are designed to fit well in your hand and the powered cases invariably throws that all out of whack. Are you one of those people that prefer to keep your device naked? After using a ton of different cases on my iPhone and Android phone, I finally gave up and have gone “naked”, risking scratches and drops for a better grip and feel. Do you carry your device in a bag at times? Do you have a small purse, large purse, briefcase or backpack that you dump the phone into?

Well, the Everpurse can address all of these “first world issues” in a very stylish, very clever way. The smallish bag, only slightly larger than the phone itself, can charge your phone on the go, without wires, bulky batteries, or special cases. It is essentially a wristlet-style purse with a built-in battery pack for wireless, magnetic charging capabilities. Drop your phone in the Everpurse and the phone will charge from the pack nestled inside an insert in the bag. The battery is 2500 milliamps and apparently can fully charge  an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S twice before needing a recharge. Not sure what it will do with an iPhone 5, but the Kickstarter page confirms that it will, in fact work with the 5. Other devices, like various Android phones, may also be supported, but Everpurse says it will announce compatibility closer to production.

The battery-pack must be charged itself through an AC adapter, but it can do that wirelessly as well. Recharging the purse takes about six hours. Right now, all that is being offered is the small clutch;  while the black one is fairly androgynous, the founders are talking about making a more obviously masculine option. Leather currently sets at a $159 Kickstarter donation, and fabric is available for $129. With less than a month left to fund, the Everpurse project is well on its way to becoming fully funded as currently there is almost $80,000 pledged. Plus, of course, my $100+ bucks.

So, I assume you know how Kickstarter works, but in case you don’t, it is a crowd-funded site for inventions, projects, tech gadgets, music, art and other creative endeavors where creators can advertise what they would like to do, how much money it will cost to do it and offer up shares or merchandise in return for successfully reaching the funding goal by the deadline. I have participated in two Kickstarter projects and they did fund and I did receive some cool stuff. So I am hopeful that the project will fund and everything will go according to Hoyle (whoever he is) and in about six months, I will get me a very cool Everpurse and forget about dying phones for the rest of my life.

Sure, I can buy a battery pack from $50 to upwards of $150 and drop it in my purse. But then I would have to fiddle with wires, return it to the house to recharge and invariably forget it. With the Everpurse, I will take the purse and phone into the house, and drop the little back on its wireless charging mat where I am unlikely to forget it as it may also hold my money, keys, etc.

Kudos to Liz Salcedo for coming up with the great idea and her handy husband for figuring out a way to make it work. I just love technology that incorporates great design and solves every day problems. Make mine orange.

Welcome New iPhone 5 (and other assorted items)

Yes, months of waiting are over. Yes, it’s called the iPhone 5. Like its predecessor, it’s all glass and aluminum, but only 7.6 mm thick, 18% thinner and 20% lighter than the 4S.  Same retina display density as the 4s, but a bigger, 4″ screen, which bumps it up to 1136 x 640 res and 44% more color saturation. That means an additional row of icons per page. Apple has updated all of the Apple apps to accomodate the new phone. Bigger screen means more data on each screen. And it promises to be fast. HSPA+ and DC-HSPDA and  LTE – fast. The antennas will switch seamlessly and you should be able to secure 4G speed wherever available worldwide.

Wireless is improved as well – the 5 will support 802.11 a/b/g/n at up to 150Mbps. New processor too – the A6 is 2x faster on processing and graphics, and smaller than its predecessor. Hopefully for a bigger battery. But all things considered, the numbers aren’t bad for all this new, faster, shinier hardware: Apple is indicating 8 hours of 3G talk, 225 hour of standby, 40 hours of music, 10 hours of wi-fi browsing, and 8 hours of LTE  browsing. The camera appears to be pretty much the same as 4S, with 8MP, faster capture and a smart filter for better color matching. Oh, and Panorama mode!  iOS6, which will come on this phone, includes a new Shared Photo Streams feature which allows you to share photos with friends, who can then comment on them or like them.

Video is updating too – it will still be 1080p but will have better stabilization and facial recognition features. The front camera is getting bumped to  720p.  You will be able to take pictures while recording video. Three mics on the device to improve audio capture.

Now, about that connector. The new one is called Lightning. Lightning is an all digital design, with 8 pins instead of 30. Needless to say, much smaller and incompatible without an adaptor with any of your existing iPhone peripherals. Of course, Apple is making the adaptor. Oh well. Wonder what that will run cost-wise?

iOS6 had its debut back in June, but the finer details as applied to the iPhone 5 are now cast. New Maps, with 100 million! points of interest and related info including Yelp reviews and photos and turn by turn directions. Not quite up to Google standards without walking and public transportation directions, but slick nonetheless. Access 3D satellite imagery by pressing the bottom corner of the screen.

Improvements to Notifications – access and update your applications, like Twitter, right from Notifications. Full screen mode in Safari. iCloud tabs to keep track of your browser sessions across devices. Mail has VIP filtering which allows you to set priorities for certain email senders. Passport which keeps important data close and integrates with your lock screen so you can flash your digital boarding pass at the airport.  Siri knows more about things like sports and movies,  can launch apps or post to Facebook for you if you ask her and even make a reservation for you through Open Table. Definitely getting more like Alfred here.

Same color scheme too – black or white. There is no room for grey area with this one.

All in all, improvements but no innovations. Positives but no “OMG!” But, the price remains the same – $199, $299 and $399 for 16G, 32G and 64G models, respectively. Gotta give Apple some credit for that. And the 4S and 4 get big price drops. I am using a 4 now and scoring a 4 for free on contract is pretty amazing – it is still a great phone.

You can preorder on September 14 and it will ship on September 21 – the day after my birthday (how appropriate).  For those not upgrading, phones from the 3GS forward will get iOS 6.

There were a few other announcements during the press conference as well – new iTunes and new iPods, the latter being far overdue for an overhaul. New iTunes incorporates more social features and integration with Twitter and Facebook, so might as well kiss Ping goodbye. New look too. More visually appealing with thumbnails of album covers instead of a text list. Access more functions in iTunes from a single screen, which is also a welcome change. Another cool add is a mini player that looks like a little bar and will allow you to play, pause, skip, and adjust volume. Very nice if you don’t want the whole of iTunes taking up your real estate. New iTunes in late October. Some updates to the iPods, but nothing earth shattering. Oh, and new earbuds, er EarPods. Like iPods, but for your ears.

Gotta love a company that closes its product launch with the Foo Fighters.  Didn’t even know they played “private” parties.

Oh, and yes, I will be getting one. In White.

Prismatic for iPhone – My New Fav News Reader

I wrote about Prismatic’s web application here in the Studio several months ago. I am pleased to report that Prismatic has now rolled out an iPhone version of its very capable relevance-based reader – it is now my go-to app for news. Using stories from my own Twitter feed as well as content from other relevant sources, Prismatic for iPhone provides me with a continuously updated stream of material on the topics I choose.

When you set up your Prismatic app, the app will give you suggestions for interests and publishers related to your location. Select more general topics if you like – as you can imagine I am very tech-heavy in my topic choices. The results are beautifully displayed on the phone with images and a blurb in the feed, the ability to swipe right for more information and even click through links within the app with a very fast-loading, content specific browser. Swipe the other way to return to the feed. Press and hold on a news blurb or the full article to add, or share the content via email, or Twitter. The gesture-based functions, animations and smoothness of the app are topnotch.

Swipe right on the Home Screen and you can search for content, review your activity including favorites, shared and read items, tweak your Home publishers and topics, access global news and peruse a list of suggestions that improve the more you interact with the app. Click on the blue labels under the title of the news story to visit other interesting feeds. It is a work of design brilliance and performs very solidly.

I also find news on Prismatic that I don’t find on my other relevance-based readers, so kudos to their algorithm and source breadth and depth.

One of my favorite uses of the iPhone is to access news for quick reads will I am waiting somewhere. Prismatic more than fills that need and I find myself turning to it more than once daily to get caught up on what is happening right now. If you are like me, you will love Prismatic’s iPhone app.

SlideShark Lets You Reliably View PowerPoint On Your iPhone

Speaking of presentations,  SlideShark, formerly an iPad only app  coming from online education purveyor BrainShark, hopes to make the experience of viewing, sharing and projecting PowerPoint files fit in your pocket. It has just released an iPhone app and, like its iPad counterpart, works some behind the scenes magic to make the presentation show as it should on your iDevice screen.  The iPhone app permits viewing and zooming of PowerPoint presentations, sharing and tracking of presentations, and connecting to projectors or TVs to blow those tiny presentations back up to audience size. With a SlideShark account, you can also store and access the presentations in the cloud at SlideShark’s site. You can also set auto-play functions to loop your presentation and can utilize a laser-pointer effect during presentations.

All in all, Slideshark is a handy tool if you are on the road and needing to work with presentations.

No More Boring Presentations with Haiku Deck

We have all had to sit through one. Or more. Boring, boring BORING presentations. If you want to do something a bit less soporific with your next slide deck, something more creative than, say, loading your screen up with tiny text, maybe you should try out Haiku Deck. From the mouths of the founders:

Presentation software hasn’t changed very much over the years. It’s been business as usual since the invention of the Internet and mass adoption of mobile devices. We set out that day to change the game. With our product, anyone can create a stunning deck and share it.

Haiku Deck is rooted in a few simple principles. We know everyone has great stories and ideas ready to be set free. We believe crafting a compelling story should be a joyful creative exercise. We yearn for the fabled day when the words, “Let me just fire up this presentation,” …fills an audience with eager anticipation instead of all-consuming dread.

This very sweet iOS app is heavy on graphics and images and ease of use and quite light on boring. For free, you get a bunch of cool themes to get you started. Or, for $2, you can access additional themes to set your presentation apart. Within those themes, you can search and use millions of Creative Commons licensed images or upload your own images for slide backgrounds. For the finishing touch, choose from lots of fonts, image filters and layouts. The results are quite stunning. Share presentations on Facebook or Twitter, view them in the browser at http://haikudeck.com, or, if you really have to, export to PowerPoint or PDF. Lots of great options here and, best of all, say goodbye to snooze-worthy decks!

Here is one I made in, oh, about 5 minutes. I easily shared it via email to myself, uploaded onto Scribd via Google Docs and then embedded here. So easy.


Get a another taste of the results in Haiku Deck’s promo video below. Or visit their gallery for some gorgeous samples here. Or, if you are really taken with them, why not apply for a job? They’re hiring.

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The Intersection of Art & Law

This is so brilliant, it made my Friday. If a picture is worth a thousand words and you are limited to only 5 pages to get your complicated point across to the U.S. District Court, why not set your argument in the context of a “graphic novelette”? That is exactly what amicus Bob Kohn did when filing his brief U.S. v. Apple, Inc., et al. The font is even the correct 12 point size. Next time my company asks me to comment on whether we should file an Amicus Brief, I am so going to make a mock up! As my friend who pointed this out to me said, “if this starts a trend, you may be extremely well-positioned …” I may have to see about teaching an art course to law students. Hat tip to Eric Diamond, via the abajournal.com.

Multi-Screening It in the New Millenium

Back in the day (and I mean WAY back), most households limited their “screen” time to the traditional TV box. Around the time that Video Killed the Radio Star. Not so in the new Millenium. A recent study by Google reveals that our modern screen habits encompass a variety of screens, from smartphone, to tablet, to computer to television and daily consumption usually  involves all four. And this usage is not necessarily serial – for example, most TV watchers are also using their smartphone or tablet at the same time. Multi-screen, multi-task. Interestingly, the report shows that as the screen gets larger, the amount of time spent on average on that screen is greater, with smartphones averaging 17 minutes at a time and TVs averaging 43 minutes at a time. But smartphones tend to be where activity starts, if not ends – with many users starting a task on a smartphone and then finishing it on a larger-screen device. That task can be anything from searching, to shopping, to arranging travel, to social networking to watching a video.

Companies like Google will need to take heed of these trends – in order to capture the full attention of modern screen-gazers, online services will need to further integrate their services across these properties, encouraging seamless switching from mobile app to computer to television and back again. The easier it is to manage tasks across properties, the more likely users will stay within the ecosystem. It is fascinating, to say the least. What’s going to happen when we can also access the ‘net via Google Glass or other conduits? The mind boggles.

If you are interested in the full report, check out the Scribd embed below.