New Collaboration & Presentation Tools = New Way of Thinking

The web is about a lot of things, not the least of which is collecting information and getting your message out and how best to go about doing that. I talk a lot about collecting and presenting in the Studio mostly because there are always great new tools cropping up to leverage technology to make the process cooler, more efficient and more fun. Lawyers are all about researching, collaborating and presenting. Why not use some slick tricks to give you an edge in that game?

I have two tools to talk about. The first is Prezi, a web app that combines the best of white boards and slide decks. Prezi is cloud-based, with a zoomable canvas. This allows you to take a large image, and move from concept to concept across the image, offering a “moving” experience that gives a different feel to your message. It uses a single canvas rather than the slides you normally find in a slide deck. You can add text, images, PowerPoint slides, videos, PDFs, etc.  on that canvas. As you create your presentation, you use the “zoomable user interface” to pan to part of the canvas, stop and then zoom in. This offers a far more “cinematic” look than a traditional deck. The resulting process is called the presentation “path” as it more closely simulates a journey through the media than a static stack of slides. There is a desktop editor available for offline construction as well. The Meeting feature allows for social, on-line collaboration on the canvas and path. And, of course, there is Prezi for iPad which is essentially a viewing rather than editing tool. How mainstream is this tool? Check out some of the recent TED presentations to see Prezi at work, making smart people look smarter.

And check out a sample Prezi here:

Cool Tech Alert: Evernote Smart Notebook by Moleskin

This hits all the right points: it’s techy and geeky and it involves a Moleskin. If you love to journal the old fashioned way, but want to keep track of your life digitally, this is your toy. The Evernote Smart Notebook is a paper notebook made by Moleskin, purveyors of some of the finest paper notebooks out there. After filling your page with scribbles, take a photo of it with Evernote’s new Page Camera feature, and the page is digitized and searchable. Use the included Page Stickers to give Evernote further clues about how you want the information treated within the app. These smart Stickers are essentially tagging tools – when  you capture a page with Evernote, the  Sticker icons become searchable, digital tags to help keep ideas organized and  digital and analog workspaces synced. Page Camera has automatic edge detection and image optimization to give you the best result.  The book contains specially formatted paper, designed specifically for use with Evernote. The paper lines are made up of dots for better image recovery within the app.

Using the Evernote app for iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, you can customize what tags and notebooks you want to have automatically associated with your Smart Stickers when they are captured using the Page Camera feature.

 

Each Smart Sticker may have one notebook and up to six tags associated with it. You can see the image, make changes if necessary and then “accept” if you want to save into your Evernote account.

You can get a larger or small version, sized at 5 by 8.25″ or 3.5  by 5.5″ , 240 or 192 pages respectively, in traditional lined or graph paper styles. $24.95 and $29.95. The Page Camera feature currently works in iOS apps, but it is promised to be coming to Android.

If you don’t know what Evernote is, it is one of the best note taking and archiving applications out there, with web-based and local applications, as well as native mobile applications for most devices. There are applications that work with Evernote to make it cooler, like dictation services, and great OCR and audio tools so that you can really save and search most anything.

Check out the video below for an introduction. This is really so cool and a great bridge for people looking to get more digitally organized but not quite willing to give up pen and paper. As a bonus, each book comes with a free 3 month subscription to Evernote Premium. Nice!

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.

Cue, Formerly Greplin, Gets Smarter

Readers here may recall me extolling the virtues of Greplin, the app that lets you search across social networks and emails in your cloud to find that needle in the haystack you thought you remember seeing sometime long ago. Well, Greplin has morphed into Cue and has gotten a bit smarter and more agile. The basic premise remains the same – you can organize your information across accounts so you can pull that information and actually use it. But now Cue will actually index your information and combine snippets that appear to be connected, resulting in an almost semantic collection of related data that makes sense. So, if you are searching for a meeting you know you scheduled for a month from now, Cue will not just give you the meeting information in your calendar, it will give you contact information for attendees and emails pertaining to the meeting. Pretty cool.

Cue also has added support for your iOS calendars, and allows you to set which calendars will show up in your Cue. Cue indexes information from Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, iPhone Calendars, Yahoo Mail, AOL Mail, iCloud Mail, Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for free. Premium, costing $50 a year or $5 monthly, adds Evernote, Salesforce, Yammer, Basecamp, Reddit, Pinboard, Delicious, Tumblr and Google Reader accounts. That is a whole lot of information.

If you haven’t tried Cue, I suggest you do – more than once it has been able to find a lost email or post whose location  I couldn’t quite remember. It’s nice to have the mental backup. Works on your iDevice or the web. Check it out.

WiseStamp and Outlook.com – So Cool

Do you like the new Outlook.com? Do you love your WiseStamp plug-in? Very soon, you will be able to use the WiseStamp Chrome extension for Outlook.com email! WiseStamp is one of my favorite extensions – it allows me to create interactive, constantly updating app-centric email signatures for my various Gmail accounts. I have a business email signature with my logo, latest blog post and twitter updates, as well as a personal email signature with corresponding personal, art-based content. Add QR cards, Pinterest boards, your blog, your Facebook Page, even charities you believe in. It is a fantastic application. And, with the addition of Outlook.com as a supported provider, you will be able to get that same awesome signature block on your Outlook.com email. Check out how here.

 

WiseStamp is free for the basic service, and offers three other tiers of service offering more signatures, less WiseStamp branding, and more / better support.  It’s a great app, made better with Outlook! Sign up at the link above to be notified when Outlook integration becomes available.

State – A Roll-Your-Own Streaming App

There is a new kid on the block in the game of stream-management and that kid is State. Similar tools  have come before, with Friendfeed the most notable – apps that allow you to take your content from other applications and combine it into a single application much like braiding strands of hair into a single coil. The benefit to the user is a one-stop location at which the user’s own content can be managed and viewed, as well as a single vantage point for that user to view and interact with the streams of his or her follows. This was the point behind the popular Friendfeed, which has lost its luster in the wake of a talent sale to Facebook, and appears to be the driving force behind State.

It is not a clone, however. For example, your content isn’t just passively pushed into the service. You connect your services (five at the moment for bringing in content – Twitter, App.net, Instagram and, very interestingly, Dropbox, as well as Instapaper for sending out content), and build out your stream manually. When you add content using the icons on a “workspace” page, which you can rename with a better description of your page, you can select the incoming stream, then the resource – in other words the filter of content by filters that are meaningful to the service, including home timeline, mentions, user, place, tag, search, list, location, favorite, etc. Then fiddle with the content box dimensions containing the stream content and create a boxy-magazine like look. You can have several workspaces accessible by dropdown arrow.

You will also be able to follow others streams if users choose to make them public, and you can choose to make yours public or keep them private. Thus, when State really gets going (and hopefully hooks up more services), you will be able to use it as a content discovery tool and a personal content curation tool. The interface is unique and interesting. I can see the benefit as more services are added – and can definitely see the utility from both sides (managing your own and viewing others content) of the content coin.

You can ask for access to the private beta at the link above, and check out a demo of how State works. Can’t wait to see how this tool develops.

Twenty-First Century Blue Book

 

Might sound a bit like an oxymoron, but it's not. Thanks to Bob Ambrogi's LawSites, I learned the the Uniform System of Citation, a/k/a the Blue Book, which has been haunting law students (mostly) since 1926, is going mobile-digital. Instead of carrying that dogeared, spiral bound little monster in your briefcase, you can now tote it on your iPad. You can get your “copy” via the rulebook application for iPhone and iPad. Rulebook allows you to purchase and download federal and state rules and now the Blue Book. Like its web subscription form that has been around since 2008, you can do some trick you can't with the paper version, like click on hyperlinks, do full text searches and such.

 

Such convenience does not come cheap. In fact, purchasing the Blue Book through rulebook costs more than purchasing the paper or subscribing to the web version. But, for $39.99, you can have your trusty citation companion with you wherever you go and you won't suffer torn pages.

 

According to Bob, rulebook is running a special on Wednesday, August 22 for existing users of the Rulebook app – you can download the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, Bankruptcy Procedure, Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure and Evidence at no charge. This will save you $10 off the normal price, which is nice. Thanks Bob for the tip

 

Slices: A Great Twitter Management Tool

 

Yes, Twitter needs management, unless you follow fifty or fewer people. Yes, there are tons of Twitter management tools out there. But, like there are many different learning and processing styles, there are many different ways to consume information and one may work better for you personally than another.

 

Slices is another option for this purpose. Right now, it is a live app on iOS and Android, and a Web version is promised but is still in invite-only beta. I tried it out on iOS and it works beautifully. While the layout is pretty standard, it offers a Twitter directory for finding the best follows on Twitter, a “Live Events” filter which shows the live stream for the top news stories of the day, and Trending filters for your city, country or worldwide. What really is interesting is the “slices” themselves – you can group your timeline into slices to view segments at a time. To show you how, the app will set up some slices for you. It created for me a Tech and Science slice with 34 people, a Business & Money slice with 31 people and a News slice with 9 people. You can filter, right off the bat, people who are not in a slice, so you can “slot” them into a category. Once you organize it, you will be able to easily “slice” through your full feed and see exactly what you want to see when you want to see it. Reminds me a bit of the old Twitter lists concept. Within the slices you can see all types of tweets or just photos and videos, with thumbnail and player right in the tweet. Drill down into follows and add them to a slice from their profile. You can share slices by email, SMS, Tweet and Facebook. Set up your various favorite sharing services within the app for images, video, URL shortening, read later and text expanding. Your saved searches are in there as well and you can start a new search. And, of course, you can tweet yourself from the app.

 

 

 

 


  

 

When the web version drops, it will sync with the mobile version, so you need not miss a beat. You also can upgrade to Pro and lose the ads for $4.99, but I am not sure it is worth that cost to do so.

 

OneLouder is the developer and they aren’t new to the mobile app game – they are the able team behind such great social apps as Friendcaster – my favorite Android Facebook app and Tweetcaster, as well as several other specialized applications.

 

I like Slices a lot – with nearly 1,000 follows, I can use a tool that helps me break out information into categories so I can find what is right now, right now. Nice app – OneLouder!

Vizify Makes Your Web Information POP!

 

 

To keep pace with the theme from the last post, one way to improve your visibility and hopefully positive message on the Web is by creating profiles on various social sites. Some of those sites, which I tend to highlight here in the Studio, are known as “nameplate” sites – places where you can create a page or two about yourself, often by pulling in content you create on other more popular social sites. You can collect your Web efforts and show them off in one place. Some tend more to the visual web site style, while others feel more like online resume sites. Nameplate sites mentioned here in the past include Flavors.me, Do.id, Zerply, About.me, and a few others I can’t remember off the top of my head right now.

 

Is there room for one more? Of course there is! The more, the merrier. Vizify is the new kid on the block and it manages to differentiate itself from the others by employing a very visually appealing style – culling the key information and presenting it in a bubble-based timeline. Vizify is nice because you don’t need to manually load up information – you simply connect Vizify to your existing sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, and it smartly pulls all the key date into the application for you. Once connected, you can then tailor the page by culling information you don’t want and keeping what you do.

 

Vizify is accessible now in public beta form and I think it is worth the five minutes to play around with it and create a profile. Check out mine below, which you can see on the web here.