The Bill and Phil Show

World Tour Stops at ALA Orlando

Post by Phillip Hampton on May 26, 2011

We were delighted to present the Bill & Phil Show today at the Annual ALA Conference in Orlando.  We had a large enthusiastic crowd.  Thanks, ALA members, for your kind hospitality.  We had more attendees at our session than we had handouts, so here is a link where you can download the handout if you didn’t get one today:  ALA Orlando Handout.

ALA Conference Orlando

Post by Phillip Hampton on May 19, 2011

We are looking forward to speaking at the Association of Legal Administrators Annual Conference in Orlando next week.  We’re packing our bags with some cool gadgets.  If you are going to be there, come by and see us.  Our session, Fasten Your Seatbelts! 60 Technology Tips in 60 Minutes is scheduled for Wednesday, May 25 at 10:15 a.m.  We’ll hand out Bill & Phil World Tour t-shirts until they’re gone.  See you in Orlando.

Beach Toys for Memorial Day

Post by Phillip Hampton on Apr 20, 2011

 

            We don’t know about you folks, but Bill and Phil like to go to the beach.  But when we go to the beach, we still want our gadgets.  We have amassed a small sample of the gadgets we take to the beach (we both carry large beach bags), and we wanted to share them with you.  Here is a list of items for the well-equipped “techno-beach bum.”

            1.         The Solar eCharger (www.wagan.com)

            Have you ever been at the beach drinking a Goombay Smash and enjoying your favorite jams, only to have the battery on your MP3 player die?  Here’s your solution.  You can carry a

Solar eCharger that is about the size of an ipad and use it to recharge your phone.  Then you can keep on jamming without an extension cord back to your beach house.  Very cool and very green!

            2.         The True Type keyboard (www.sealshield.com)

            If you are like us, there are times when you need a full size keyboard at the beach.  The problem is that water and sand don’t play well with computer keyboards.  This keyboard is different though.  You can actually immerse the keyboard under water and keep typing.  It also works well for those who have the bad habit of spilling their coffee on keyboards.  Believe it or not, the True Type keyboard is totally liquid resistant (unless the liquid is hydrochloric acid).  They even make a new waterproof wireless model for the ipad.

            3.         DiCAPac (www.dicapac.com)

            Did you ever watch Sea Hunt?  Did you ever wish you could be Lloyd Bridges and take movies or pictures underwater?  DiCAPac makes waterproof cases for almost any digital camera.  The cases keep your camera totally dry and allow you to take high quality digital photographs under water.  As you know, often times very attractive and photogenic scenery is found at the beach — in and out of water.  These cases allow you to take those pictures and keep your camera dry and safe.

            4.         Bactrack Breathalyzer (www.bactrack.com)

            If you have enjoyed one Goombay Smash too many on the beach, you can check your blood alcohol level using the same breathalyzer that the police use.  If you are over the legal limit, then don’t drive.  If you are under the legal limit and an officer pulls you over, you can tell the officer:  “Don’t worry.  I have already checked my blood alcohol level using the same equipment as you have, and I am under the legal limit, so there is no need to give me a field sobriety test.”  Yet another example of how the appropriate gadget can make your life hassle free.

            5.         Jawbone Jambox (www.jawbone.com)

            We always need our “jams” while we are on the beach.  There is nothing like cool jams, hot sun, cool ocean, and cold beverages to make your Memorial Day vacation “ultra groovy” (or in modern texting slang “1DURFUL”).   The Jawbone Jambox is a small speaker that is amazingly loud.  It does not need AC power.  You can play your songs on it wirelessly using Bluetooth.  It is a bit expensive ($200), but once you hear it you will think it is worth it, especially when you are boogying down at the beach.

            6.         nPower PEG (www.npowerpeg.com)

            If you like listening to music while walking or running on the beach, this is the gadget for you.  We have no idea how this gadget works, but it uses the energy you generate while you are walking, running, or biking.  You simply carry your nPower Peg with you in your backpack or even your pocket as you go about your daily activities.  In an emergency, you can simply shake it to generate enough energy to make a phone call.  Like the Jawbone Jambox it is a little pricey ($159), but it is cheaper than 30 gallons of gasoline, and it is green and renewable energy.

            7.         TV Hat (www.buytvhatnow.com)

            According to TV Hat, this is the next revolution in video viewing.  You will have to see it to believe it!  It gives you a personal, private, discreet, home theatre experience for a mere $29.95.  At a minimum you will get plenty of entertainment out of the pictures of it on the website.

            8.         iBottle Opener (www.thinkgeek.com) (ibottleopener.com

            No Bill and Phil gadget list would be complete without an entry from thinkgeek.com.  This is the perfect beach item.  As you know, we would never be caught anywhere, not even on the beach, without a smartphone, an ipod or some other portable electronic device.  The  iBottle Opener is a phone case that doubles as a bottle opener so you can open a bottle of your favorite soft drink (or other herbal beverage) with your phone case.  As thinkgeek puts it “sure, you may have a bottle opener on your keychain, or even one attached to your favorite T-shirt, but why have an extra item in your inventory when you can streamline by attaching your bottle opener to something that is permanently attached to your person?”  Thus, the iBottle Opener.

            See you at the beach.

Tablet Wars

Post by Phillip Hampton on Mar 31, 2011

Is 2011 going to be the year of the tablet PC?  It sure looks like it.  Everywhere you look there is a new tablet coming on the market…all chasing Apple’s wildly popular iPad which debuted last year.  We hate to be techno know-it-alls, but this whole tablet rage is nothing new to us.  We distinctly remember buying and trying out a Toshiba tablet PC back in 2005.  It was a great little device, but the tablet fever never caught on back then like the industry hoped it would.   How things have changed now.  According to Apple’s quarterly reports for 2010, the company sold over 14 million iPads last year.  The industry has taken notice.  So what is shaping up is an all-out tablet PC war between the major electronics firms.  The consumer can sit back, enjoy the show, and choose the product that best fits their needs and price point.

Apple, of course, still leads the pack; and with the release of the iPad2 on March 11, they have the set the bar even higher.  The iPad2 is often referred to as “sleeker” and “thinner” than it’s still barely 1-year-old predecessor.  While the touch screen display is basically the same as the original unit, Apple has added a beefier processor, more memory, and front- and rear-facing cameras (a major oversight for the original).  We loved the iPad and we love the iPad2 even more.  Currently, you can buy a both a WiFi version (no data contract needed) or a 3G version (4G is not yet supported).   Quite honestly, with the hotspot capabilities on most new smartphones today, it seems redundant to us to get the 3G/4G version of any tablet.  Tablet makers who do not have a WiFi version available are missing the boat in our opinion.   Apple’s closed-minded approach to playing with the rest of the computing world is still one of the shortfalls for their products.  For example, the iPad2 still doesn’t support Adobe Flash, nor is a standard USB-port anywhere to be found. 

So if you have an iPad and want to upgrade, or you are just dipping your toe into the tablet waters, the iPad2 is definitely your first stop to shop.  But we wouldn’t decide just yet until you consider the other alternatives.

Google is the other 300-lb gorilla in the tablet wars with their tablet-optimized Android 3.0 operating system, dubbed Honeycomb.  Motorola recently introduced  the Xoom as its flagship Android-based tablet (you may have seen the commercials if you have watched at least 5 minutes of television in the past month).  For starters, you will notice that the Xoom display screen is larger than the iPad at 10.1 inches.  It has a dual-core processor and 1GB of memory (twice the amount found on the iPad) as well as the requisite front- and rear-facing cameras.  While the number of Android-based apps, for now, is less than the number of iPad/iPhone apps, we clearly expect this ratio to reach equilibrium even as Android-based smartphones surge into the lead as the most popular operating system platform on the market.  Motorola has promised that Xoom will support Adobe Flash and will be capable of 4G support in the near future.  Finally the Xoom has both Micro USB and mini HDMI ports to connect the tablet to other peripherals (YES!).  We love the Android OS (as most consumers are beginning to warm to it as well) and think that this Android-based tablet is a worthy competitor to the iPad.  The biggest concern for the Xoom is the price which does not compete well with the lower-end iPad.

Samsung was quick out of the gate with an iPad competitor in late 2010 with its Android-based Galaxy Tab.  The idea was to offer a smaller, lesser expensive alternative to the iPad.  The Galaxy Tab’s 7-inch display (to the iPad’s 9.7-inch display), however, made it a slightly awkward choice for consumers.  Was it a small tablet or a large smartphone?  Samsung gave up on the “smaller is better” approach and is following up with the new, improved, larger Galaxy Tab 10.1 (Galaxy Tab 2), which is slated to be released in the U.S. very soon.  Like the Xoom, the new Galaxy Tab will run the Android 3.0 operating system and will support 4G and Flash out of the gate.  We’re waiting to get our hands on this unit as Samsung absolutely dazzled us with their innovations at CES in January.

Research In Motion (RIM) has long been in the pockets of legal professionals (literally) in the form of their popular Blackberry devices; and it was just a matter of time until they jumped into the tablet war.  We saw a prototype of this tablet, dubbed Blackberry Playbook, at CES and we’re still waiting for the official release date.  The Playbook has a smaller, 7-inch display (more portable?  you decide).  It will run an operating system developed by RIM called Blackberry Tablet OS.  The nice feature is that it will not only run Blackberry apps but Android-based apps as well.  We look for the Playbook to begin showing up in local office supply store chains before the end of April.

Hewlett Packard has introduced its contestant in the tablet wars with a device that has probably the least imaginative name, the HP TouchPad.  Ok, so maybe HP doesn’t win any awards for naming pizzazz and flair, but the company does know how to build computers (and printers).  The 9.7-inch HP TouchPad has the same size as the iPad and runs yet another tablet-optimized operating system, HP’s WebOS.  WebOS, which was developed by Palm, which was bought by HP, is actually a very good operating system if somewhat unheralded.  The scarcity of apps for this platform is bound to be detrimental to the TouchPad’s adoption.  Nonetheless, HP is promoting the heck out of this unit (did you watch the Grammy’s?).  They promise a WiFi-only version this summer and both 3G and 4G-capable devices soon.

So if your head is spinning from all the tablet choices on the market, stick around.  We promise it will only get crazier. Newer and fancier models are coming online soon. Tablet sales are exploding so much in fact that analysts are saying that traditional laptop sales are dropping significantly.  We were way ahead of our time with our little tablet back in aught-five…we knew the industry would catch up to us sooner or later.

Bill & Phil @ TAJ Seminar Today

Post by Phillip Hampton on Mar 10, 2011

The Bill & Phil Show makes a stop in Nashville today at the Tennessee Association for Justice for a half-day CLE seminar.  The show gets under way at 1:00 p.m.  (registration begins at 1 p.m.).  The Location is at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1715 Broadway, Nashville.  Click the TAJ website for more information.  We start off with our trademark Gadgets presentation, followed by seminars on Digital Forensics/E-Discovery in Litation and Social Media: Tips in Litigation and Marketing.  Bart Pickett of Hall, Booth, Smith & Slover, PC will be joining us on the Social Media seminar.

Legal Apps in the Cloud

Post by Phillip Hampton on Mar 1, 2011

We have written previously about the phenomenon known as “cloud computing”; and while we’re still not ready to ditch our servers and PCs entirely and ride the clouds to computing nirvana, recently we have seen some interesting law office cloud applications. The exhibition hall last month at LegalTech New York 2011 was abuzz with new cloud applications as well as cloud extensions of some of our favorite traditional applications that have been around for a while.  Our view is that one should use aspects of the cloud when it makes sense to do so and when the benefits outweigh the cost.  Here are some cloud applications that we saw at LegalTech that we think are interesting and promising:

Worldox iPad App

Worldox is a traditional document management system that has been around for some time.  There has also been a Web/Mobile module (sold separately) that allows Worldox users to access the firm’s documents via the web.  Now, Worldox has taken remote access one step further with the introduction of the Worldox iPad App.  This is a free app that can be downloaded via the Apple iTunes store.  With the new iPad app, a user that already has Worldox GX2 (the company’s latest version) and the Web/Mobile module add­-on, can now access any of the firm’s documents via a very intuitive iPad application.  We saw a demo at LegalTech and can’t wait for the final version to be released very soon.  Obviously, this app resolves one of the major complaints of users who want to review documents on their iPad computers:  not having a convenient way of migrating those documents to the iPad.  With the Worldox iPad app, any document in the system is as accessible as it is from your desktop in the office.  For more information, visit www.worldox.com/ipad

TextFlow

TextFlow is basically document comparison software on steroids in the cloud.  We all have used various programs to create legal blacklines to see the changes made between two documents.  TextFlow takes this process to the cloud, allowing users to do document comparisons without having to purchase any software.  In addition, TextFlow boasts of providing more than just a legal blackline, but an actual step-by-step change history of the document with colorful, user-friendly reports.  It will allow comparisons between Word and PDF documents as well. Instead of purchasing software, you subscribe to the service for a monthly fee.  For more information visit www.nordicriver.com

TrialTouch

TrialTouch is another iPad application that allows a user to display and annotate electronic exhibits in court.  With this system, the application resides on the iPad, but all of the data resides in a cloud repository (sold by DK Global).  So with TrialTouch, one can upload all of their trial exhibits, videos, photographs, animations, etc. to the cloud and then be able to present them from their iPad in the courtroom.  A caveat to this approach is that a consistent, fast internet connection in the courtroom is required (something that makes us a little bit nervous).  Nonetheless, being able to walk into the courtroom with nothing more than an iPad tucked under our arm is very appealing.  For more information, visit www.trialtouch.com.

ContractExpress

ContractExpress is a cloud-based document assembly program.  With this service, you can create your document templates using Microsoft Word and then upload to your account on ContractExpress.  You can then use the system to create web-based answer templates where you collect user data from your clients via the web and then use this data to automate document creation.  Document assembly software has existed for a long time in law firms.  The jump to the cloud is intriguing in that no upfront software purchase is required.  In addition, the ability to interact with clients via the web to facilitate document creation automation is a real plus.  For more information on this service, visit www.contractexpress.com.

Windows Live

Yes, Microsoft has been moving more and more toward a cloud model for some of their most popular applications; but, make no mistake about it, their flagship productivity software, Microsoft Office, is still sold on a software license basis and Microsoft’s cloud services are meant to extend and amplify the use of their traditional products.  Windows Live is an example.  Anyone can sign up for a free Windows Live account at www.windowslive.com.  With this free account, you get your own Hotmail e-mail account (for what it’s worth); an instant messenger application and account; as well as a 25GB “SkyDrive”.  The “SkyDrive” is the interesting giveaway on Windows Live.  With MS Office 2010 not only can you create and manage documents on your workstation using Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.; but you can also upload those documents to your personal “SkyDrive” (without leaving the application) and provide access to other users who can read and/or edit those documents via the cloud.  For example, you could create a contract in Word, upload it to your SkyDrive, e-mail a link to a colleague, and then both could work on the document simultaneously either with the traditional Word application or via Microsoft’s Web Word application.

Neer

Finally Neer is a GPS-based app for smartphones that we were introduced to at CES 2011.  With this really cool cloud application, you can set up a list of pre-defined locations as well as a pre-defined list of “friends” that you want to track.  With the Neer app installed on the smart phones of your “friends”, you can track when they arrive or depart any of the pre-defined locations that you have set up.  The most obvious application of this system is for parents to keep track of their kids by defining locations such as “School”, “Home”, “Library”, “Friend’s House”, etc.  However, there are other interesting applications that we could think of.  Maybe we’ll try it out and report back.  In any event, to learn more visit www.neerlife.com

The Bill & Phil Show 2011 Tour Kicks Off at TBA Tech Conference – Feb. 17

Post by admin on Feb 17, 2011

Bill & Phil

Going Whole Hog

Join us today at the Tennessee Bar Association’s annual Tech Conference. We’ll present the debut presentation of the Bill & Phil Show 2011. This year’s theme is “Going Whole Hog”. After recent trips to the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas and Legal Tech in New York, we have so many tech gadgets and tips that we have had a hard time paring it down to a one-hour presentation. Catch us today at 9 a.m. at the Tennessee Bar Center on 4th Avenue in Nashville. See you there!

TECH ETIQUETTE FOR LAWYERS

Post by Phillip Hampton on Jan 27, 2011

In this age of technology, it is easy to forget about something as old-fashioned as manners.  We believe, however, that good manners and etiquette are just as important (perhaps even more important) in this age of fast-paced high tech communications.  In this article, we have attempted to list the keys to etiquette in this technological age.

Remember What Your Mama Said

            When we were all growing up (at least baby boomers like Bill) our parents, especially our mothers, would continuously remind us to “mind our manners.”  We were taught to say “yes sir” and “no ma’am” and “please” and “thank you.”  There is no reason to abandon these rules in this modern age just because we can send “tweets,” emails and Facebook postings to one another.  Please remember to mind your manners in all your communications with others: 

  • Be polite
  • Be considerate
  • Be responsible
  • Say please and thank you
  • Follow the rules of common courtesy to one another

            When using electronic communications like email, Twitter and Facebook, there is a tendency to abandon proper rules of etiquette.  Because these communications are casual and less formal, one can quickly fall into the trap of becoming too familiar and informal.  Remember, however, that communications in the practice of law are business communications.  These are not informal discussions with family and friends.  Legal communications should not be casual and flippant.  Remember the following rule:  When you send an email regarding legal matters in which you are involved, you should treat that communication like a business letter.  When you send an email inside your firm, you should treat that communication as a memorandum.

            The above rules apply to all electronic communications – email, cell phone calls, instant messages, chats and texts and social networking communications as well.  For the purposes of etiquette in this article we will focus solely on email etiquette.

Generally Recognized Email Rules

            Over time, certain rules of etiquette have developed for communicating via email, especially in the business context.  Those rules are as follows:

            1.         Be concise and to the point.  Business emails do not need to “ramble on” like Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant.

            2.         Do not overuse “reply to all.”  Obviously “reply to all” is a useful tool, especially in emails relating to group projects.  However, when you have an email message that is really intended for only one person on a group email, it is inappropriate to use “reply to all.”

            3.         Avoid sending an email you did not mean to send.  Before you hit the “send” button, reread the entire email and make sure it has the right tone and is going to the proper recipients.

            4.         Avoid sending emails to the wrong addressee.  We have all done it.  Just after you hit the send button, you realize that you sent an email to someone other than the intended recipient.  Consider preparing the text of the email first and adding the addressee last – after  you have finished typing the email contents.

            5.         Beware of the “auto complete” feature.  Modern email programs “remember” the email addresses you have used previously.  They may “auto complete” an email address once you begin typing the first few letters.  As a result, you may be preparing an email to go to “John Doe” but once it recognizes the first “Jo,” the email program will auto complete the address to “Joe Blow.”  Make sure auto complete doesn’t cause you to send an email to the wrong person.

            6.         Use the “re” line.  Recipients like to know what the message is about at a glance.

            7.         Do not send chain letters or spam.  This rule is self-evident.  Chain letters and spam are annoying.

            8.         Do not send hoaxes or urban legends.  Before you forward that email about some miracle or tragedy, check to make sure it’s not a hoax or an urban legend using websites such as www.snopes.com, better yet, don’t send these types of emails at all.

            9.         Please no viruses.  Keep your virus checking software up-to-date.

            10.       When you send web pages to others, do not send the page itself, send a link to the page.  This practice will cut down on the size of your email, and will normally ensure that the recipient views an accurate version of the page.

            11.       Do not use all caps.  This is the email equivalent of shouting.

            12.       Do not send large attachments to others without their permission.  Better yet, do not send large attachments at all if you can avoid them.  Use www.box.net or some other secured site to post the attachment and then send link to recipient.

            13.       No irony!  No sarcasm!  It is often difficult to detect by simply reading an email that you are using irony or sarcasm.  The use of irony or sarcasm may create a serious misunderstanding.

            14.       Use spell check.  Enough said.

            15.       Set your system clock.  If your system clock is accurate, the recipient can tell when your email was sent.  Of course, if you want to convey the impression that you are sending emails at 4 a.m., then adjust your system clock to deceive the recipient.  If you want to be honest, however, set your system clock to the accurate time.

            16.       Avoid a “me too” reply to a mass email.  Most of the time such replies are meaningless.

            17.       Use a signature.  Prepare a very short, but informative, signature, using your name, address and phone number and put it at the end of the text you write.  A signature is always handy if someone wants to call or send snail mail to you.

Pet Peeves

 

            We have several pet peeves regarding certain email practices.  These are not generally accepted rules, these are just practices we do not like.

            1.         Overuse of “high priority.”  Don’t send an email and mark it high priority when it’s really something that can wait.  Otherwise, you will end up like the little boy that cried wolf.

            2.         Return receipts.  Why request a return receipt?  The recipient can just click no when asked if he or she wants to send a return receipt.  The practice just clogs up everyone’s email box.

            3.         Automated replies.  Use these sparingly and please use the “reply only once” option and send the automated reply only to the sender, and not to everyone in a multiple recipient email.

            4.         Do not forward personal emails.  When someone sends you a private and personal email, he or she intends it to be just that – personal.  Avoid the urge to share.

            5.         Don’t send multiple email exchanges when one telephone call will do.  Sometimes it is just better to pick up the phone than exchange a series of emails.  We know email is quick and easy, but sometimes using a phone call is more efficient.

            6.         Don’t use “cutesy signatures and emotions.”  Why use these?  They are unprofessional.

            7.         Don’t send religious emails.  We know it is hard to believe but not everyone has the same religious beliefs as you do.

            8.         Don’t send politically charged emails.  We know it’s hard to believe but not everyone has the same political views as you do. 

            9.         Please reply to an email when you are asked to do so.  It is simple courtesy to respond to an email when someone requests a response.

            10.       Last minute cancellation emails.  Our pet peeve of all time is the use of a cancellation email at ten minutes to twelve, informing someone that a twelve o’clock meeting is cancelled.  If you do have to cancel at the last minute, have the guts to call.

            11.       Don’t be an email “flamer.”  This is especially true when there are multiple recipients to an email.  Don’t “flame” people through the use of an email.  If at all possible, when you have concerns or criticisms with another person, meet with them and discuss them behind closed doors.

            12.       Pattern backgrounds.  Why use these?  They only increase the size of emails and they serve no purpose.

            13.       Don’t use old “re:” lines.  Don’t continue to use a “re:” line about something that occurred in 2010, when you are talking about a 2011 problem.  Keep your “re:” lines up-to-date.

            We have other pet peeves that we could share with you, but we do not want to enhance our reputation as a pair of whiners and complainers.  We would love to hear your email pet peeves however.  Please share your email pet peeves with us by emailing us at bramsey@nealharwell.com or phampton@logicforce.com.  We want to accumulate a list of these pet peeves and publish them “with attribution” if you wish in a subsequent article.