Many of you have inquired about downloading my new CLE materials called “Microsoft Office 2007 and Windows Vista: A Smart Guide for Solo & Small Firm Lawyers.” This program will be presented on November 30, 2007 in Milwaukee at the Wisconsin Solo & Small Firm Conference. To download the PDF of these materials, click here (the file will be available to the first 999 to download it until December 2nd). I hope you enjoy viewing it and find the information useful in your practice. If you’re interested in having a version of this program presented to your own legal association, or even in-house live or via webcast to your firm, click here to inquire â€“ happy to talk about it.
On the subject of backup, which has reared its head for perhaps the 8000th time on various listserves I’ve been involved with over the years… it appears the subject once again should be addressed. So buckle your belts and hold on – it may be a bumpy ride. Note that this article is specifically directed at solo & small firms but the concepts are applicable to practices of all sizes.
As a veteran of many a late night restoring data from the failed systems of my clients over the years, and as a many-times author and speaker on PRECISELY this topic, I will make the following statements. It’s important to understand my credentials on this subject. Since 1985 when I started consulting with law practices full time, I’ve made backup system/process recommendations to literally thousands of law practices of ALL sizes. I’ve had to sit and restore systems from backup media – more often than I’d like to think pulling all-nighters at client offices to nurse their systems back from the brink. I’ve seen it all. Read the rest of this entry »
I started reading John Dvorak’s columns in PC Magazine in 1985 – about two years after becoming a Jerry Pournelle addict. Those were certainly the wild and wooly frontier days of PC computing – changes always afoot, early-edge technology that took arguably more work to use than the productivity that resulted from its use. It was a heady time to be involved in the PC world – in fact, 1985 was the same year I started MicroLaw from the second bedroom of my apartment at the time.
Fast forward 22 years and John Dvorak is still cranking out spot-on realistic, pragmatically practical and curmudgeonly advice and commentary on the state of the computing world. I think of him as an entertaining mix of Andy Rooney and Bill Proxmire. One of John’s latest columns in PC Mag Online is called “The Vista Death Watch.” In this column, Dvorak takes the position that Vista may not be fixable at all, even with service packs, etc. His theory is that if Microsoft’s Plan A has almost completely failed with Vista, there doesn’t appear to be any Plan B in the works.
He argues that not only did Vista fail to deliver anything new and useful, it’s core functionality seemed to be released before most of its operational issues and compatibility headaches were worked out – resulting in intensely negative market reactions. He also indicated that much of the problem results from the confusion related to so many versions and to exacerbate that issue, the relatively high costs for the version that everyone should really have – Ultimate – the only one with all Vista’s features.
He goes on to speculate about three possible options for Microsoft, stating as follows:
- “It can give up on the stupid variations and lower the price on the one good Vista, Vista Ultimate. Iâ€™d say $99 would be a price everyone can live with.”
- “Microsoft can scuttle the entire product. Why not? Work on a whole new OS starting today with one team and work on SP3 for XP with another team to keep users on Windows.
- “Roll out Vista 2.0. Figure out some way to add some nifty features, perhaps stolen from the next version of the Mac OS. Bring in some outside designers if you have to. Oh, and lower the price on this one, too.”
It would be hard to argue to the contrary. As usual, in his typically curmudgeonly and blunt way, Dvorak states what all of us who have been victimized by the abomination known as Vista have been feeling. But maybe we’ve been too complacent – how many of us should have said what Dvorak just wrote? Could it be that Vista is Windows history repeating itself? Anyone remember that previous abomination called Windows ME? Vista ME anyone?
According to an article on the BBC News website
and a quoted article from New Scientist magazine, researchers at Boston University are seeing some success in reading the thoughts of a paralyzed man via electrodes implanted in a specific area of the brain that is involved with speech. According to the article, the impulses are intended to generate responses in speech recognition software, effectively turning his thoughts into computer-generated speech.
“Although the data is still being analysed, researchers at Boston University believe they can correctly identify the sound Mr Ramsay’s brain is imagining some 80% of the time. In the next few weeks, a computer will start the task of translating his thoughts into sounds,” said the article.
OK, how utterly, completely creepy is this? Is this not the stuff of just about every science fiction film made in the last couple of decades? It’s not hard to leap ahead past the potential positive applications into tremendous possibilities for abuse. Inevitable? Yes. Dangerous? Yes. Needs as much thought on eventual controls and limitations to avoid abuse as research into the mechanics of the process? Yes.
Just imagine the implications, when about 15 years from now, when we’re all using Mac OS X 25.4 Bobcat edition with full Bluetooth thought processing built in. You’re taking a deposition and thinking, “OMG, this doctor is the consummate quack of all time” and you forget to uncheck the “speak my thoughts aloud” button onscreen . . . Oops!
Microsoft’s website has some really thorough planning resources to help any business migrate to Office 2007. Info is here. Topics covered including assessing your firm’s environment for Office 2007 readiness, addressing compatibility with prior Office versions, and more. For Word 2007 specifically, there’s really detailed information. This gets down to the nitty gritty of migrating things like AutoText and AutoCorrect settings, Add-Ins and customizations. No one should make the Office 2007 without first reading through these handy pre-planning references.
Just got an invitation to participate in the beta testing for the next release of the Corel WordPerfect Suite. Guessing it will be called version 14, or maybe X4? Still spectacular, WordPerfect X3 still has the technical/functional edge in legal document education over Word 2007. Word 2007 gets the nod with the revolutionary “ribbon” approach to accessing program functions. Will WordPerfect Next include its own ribbon . . . should know soon.
I’m surprised I missed the release of this product . . . but can’t be everywhere, all the time. Or . . . maybe you can? At least be connected all the time, anywhere. Eye-Fi has just received FCC approval for the first WiFi-enabled SD card. Yes, you read that right. Crammed into the sub-quarter-sized SD card format is not only 2 Gb of memory but also complete Wi-Fi circuitry. Ok, even the most jaded among us, that’s pretty much stark naked magic. Apparently, the way it works is that you configure it while attached to your PC â€“ setting all the WiFi bits and such. Then when you start snapping pics, it will transmit them in real-time to the designated folder on your nearby WiFi-connected desktop or laptop computer.
No first hand experience yet since they just started shipping (and yes, I couldn’t resist ordering one of these $100 little wonders). And yes, it’s truly lazy since my laptop has an SD card slot . . . but think of all the energy I’m saving by not having to pull it out of my camera (which these days, in case you’re curious is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX12 7 mp model â€“ a tiny little compact point-and-shoot bought for its Leica lens), then forget to put it back in, etc. etc.
Info on the Eye-Fi Wireless SD Card is at the company’s site and also in a Gizmodo review (they said it worked flawlessly â€“ good enough for me!).
Who would have ever guessed I’d be presenting a CLE program on using Microsoft Word in the law office. But yes, it’s true. And the reason is simple â€“ because Word 2007 doesn’t suck. For me, that’s saying a lot. Those of you who have followed by presentations and articles over the years know that’s quite an admission. Am I abandoning WordPerfect? Of course not. I still believe that, objectively speaking, WordPerfect X3 is a superior legal word processor. What I am saying is that Word 2007 is a 180 degree about face from the torturous agony of generating documents with Word 2003. Gone is the byzantine labyrinth of seemingly randomly assigned functions scattered across pull-down menus. In fact, gone are ALL the pull down menus â€“ and good riddance. The replacement â€“ a series of tabbed “ribbons” presents one-click access to the most commonly used functions â€“ and Microsoft was uncannily accurate in deciding which features we really need quick access to and which should be relegated to a two-clicks-away second fiddle access approach.
To see the debut of this new CLE program, if you happen to be within reasonable distance of downtown Chicago, the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Technology, is offering an all-day seminar on Tuesday, November 13th at University Center. The lead-off session, among six programs in the seminar entitled “Taming Technology in Your Practice” is my new “Word for Lawyers” segment. Full info on the seminar is here. As a side-benefit, the program has been pre-approved for six Professional Responsibility credits (doesn’t it say a lot when CLE accreditation boards have finally recognized that practicing law “competently” and responsibly involves capable use of technology in practice?). Oh, and by the way, this post was created using the new blogging function in Word 2007 â€“ very cool.
So Ross Kodner and Word 2007 â€“ friends? Let’s just say that with this version of Word (and the judicious application of several helpers including indispensable “Assistant” series tools from Payne Group) we’re finally getting along. With a tip of the hat to one of my favorite movie scenes of all time, “Word 2007, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Or at least an end to more than a decade of pain.
First, hats off to Jessica Justice and her team from West Virginia CLE. The first annual West Virginia Solo & Small Firm Conference, held at the Glade Springs Resort in Daniel, West Virginia was a huge success. As I previously indicated, nearly 200 attendees represented almost 5% of the entire state bar’s membership – amazing work and an incredibly good “feeling” conference – the energy and enthusiasm was palpable.
Second, Pat Yevics and her Maryland State Bar Association crew pulled off yet another – the ninth – successful Solo & Small Firm Conference. I had the pleasure of speaking at the pre-conference last Friday – three solid hours of the Paper LESS Office. Then a plenary program on Saturday morning predicting the future of legal technology. Thanks to a great crowd who really made me feel at home after nearly 11 solid days on the road.
The highlight for me was getting to have dinner with techno.pal Ellen Freedman, a fellow faculty member and well-know law practice management advisor to the Pennsylvania Bar. Courtesy of Ellen’s new Cadillac SRX and trusty GPS named Morris, we navigated our way to Baltimore hotpot, Pazo, located in trendy Fell’s Point for dinner.Â We shared multiple Tapas in this old warehouse-turned-loft-turned Iberian dining spot. A nearby pair of diners steered us in the right direction and we lavished with everything from white anchovies to grilled scallops to a butternut squash soup with chorizo that was indescribably good. Thanks Ellen for a very enjoyable evening and a chance to get to you know better.
If anyone is interested in downloading the CLE materials from the Maryland Bar program, they’ll be online at MicroLaw.com the evening of Tuesday, November 6th. Free as always and you’re encouraged to share the knowledge with colleagues.
Many Word 2003 users discovered how handy the feature called AutoCorrect was for inserting blocks of text anywhere in a document. The attraction of AutoCorrect was how fast it was to insert as much as several paragraphs into a document with a couple of keystrokes. While AutoCorrect still exists and is just as useful in Word 2007, there is a new, more advanced way to pop pieces of text and formatting into you documents. It’s called “Quick Parts” – and involved creating “Building Blocks” which can be rapidly inserted anywhere in a document. Every time I see the feature and the “building blocks” tagline, I can’t help but think of Lego.
Quick Parts is new to Microsoft Word 2007. It allows you to add preformatted portions of text and also formatting such as a caption for a pleading, clauses, correspondence closings, affidavit language, entire motions and more. Quick Parts can save a ton of time compared to having to locate a donor document, find the desired text, copying it and pasting it into your document.
To use Word 2007′s Quick Parts, follow these steps:
- Open the Insert ribbon by clicking on its “tab”
- In the “Text” section of the ribbon, click “Quick Parts”
- To insert a document property, hold your mouse over Document Property and select the one you’d like to insert
- For more options, click “Building Blocks Organizer”
- You can browse the list of building blocks that already exist
- To preview any Building Block, click it; it appears in the pane to the right in a preview mode (a big plus over AutoCorrect where you can’t really see what you’re about to insert)
- When you find a Building Block you’d like to insert, select it and click Insert
One thought that crossed my mind was the ability to create libraries of clauses to insert paragraph-based document provisions – in a sense, to build a clause-assembly system for contract or agreement creation. Lots of possibilities here – give Quick Parts a try.