iPad Keyboard Shortcuts

One of the things that I do is serve on the Illinois State Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Technology. One of the things we do as a committee is to try and help attorneys use technology in their legal practice. To that end, the committee has created a series of short videos that detail some technology tips for attorneys. I recently shot one of these videos on the use of iPad keyboard shortcuts. This is one of the most used features on my iPad and I am constantly amazed at the number of people who do not even know that it exists. One key thing to remember is that this tip works only if you are using iPad keyboard.

Other Tech Tips can be found on the ISBA Lawyer’s You Tube Page. I urge you to watch them all.

Gizmos, Gadgets & Widgets

Recently I had the honor of  presenting with Nerino Petro at the ISBA Solo and Small Firm Conference. One of the sessions that we did was a Gizmos, Gadets & Widgets session at 8:30 on Saturday morning. I was pleasantly surprised with the number of people who turned out early Saturday morning for the presentation.

KeynoteAs usual, we had great fun with this presentation. At the session, we mentioned that we would make our presentation available on my site. Thus, you can now download a PDF of our presentation Gizmos, Gadgets & Widgets. You can also find this and many other files on my Files page.

If you have any questions on any of the items, feel free to contact either Nerino or myself.

The Droid Bionic: My New Favorite Phone

My philosophy is that every new cell phone that I get should be the best cell phone that I have ever owned. Unfortunately, that has not always been the case. However, it is certainly the case with my new phone the Motorola Droid Bionic.

Droid BionicI have the Bionic through Verizon Wireless. Verizon is not perfect, however, I have used them for several years now and, for the most part, I am pleased with the service that I receive from them.

I have had the Bionic now for a little over 2 months and I thought I would jot down my thoughts about the phone, both good and bad. On the whole, I am quite pleased with my purchase and, if I had it do to over again, I would buy the same phone.

Below are some of the things I like about my Bionic:

  • It’s fast. This may have more to do with my old phone, which at the end seemed to be painfully slow. Regardless, the Droid is much faster and responsive than any previous phone I have used.
  • 4G. Yes, it is not available everywhere yet. However, when it is available, it is great.
  • Hotspot. I love being able to use my phone to create a wireless hot spot. It is much more convenient than my MiFi ever was, simply because I always have my phone on me. I use this feature at least twice a month.
  • The screen. The screen is big, beautiful, and bright.
  • Operating System. I still like the Android operating system. This is my second Android phone and I have no real complaints about the operating system nor have I had any problems with it.

Some of the things I don’t like about my Bionic are:

  • It is big. The weight is actually too bad, especially considering the size of the phone. However, this is a large phone.
  • The data connection. The 4G is great. The 3G is pretty good. However, if I have lost a data connection while traveling, sometimes, I have to restart the phone to get it to obtain a data connection again.
  • Contact Pictures. I still don’t understand the issue here. In Outlook I have pictures for a large percentage of my contacts. With my original Droid, all of those pictures synched to my phone (through Exchange Server). With the Bionic, these pictures do not sync. I know that this seems like a small thing, however, I have used these pictures in the past to identify other attorneys in court that I had not yet met.
  • Battery life. In general, the battery life on the phone is about what I expected. Which is not great, but I can usually make it through the day (please note, however, that I have desk chargers both at the office and at home along with a car charger, just to make sure). However, when I use the phone as a hotspot, I can practically watch the battery level drain.

I recognize that, for the most part, the battery life issue is one that most smartphones have and it is something we have to live with while we wait for battery technology to improve. I would love to see either Motorola or Verizon, or the two together do something to fix the data connectivity problems. The disconnection happens often enough that it annoys me.

Regardless, if you are looking for a new Android based smartphone, I will tell you that I am quite happy with my Droid Bionic.

Why Newspapers Are Going Out of Business

I am not one of the people who ran out to buy an iPad when it was released. However, given how much I like my Kindle2, I believe that there is a market for a device like this. One of the useful features of a device such as the iPad is the ability to read news and magazine stories. There was a time when I read 3 newspapers a day (actual paper newspapers) as well as a handful of magazines a month. Those days are long gone. Although some magazines show up in our mailbox every once in a while (why I don’t know), I haven’t read one in ages. Similarly, I check out the headlines on 3 or 4 newspaper websites regularly, but I couldn’t tell you when I actually read a physical newspaper last.

Obviously, if these organizations are to succeed in the future, they will have to embrace, at a least to some extent, the new media available. Ernie the Attorney, who did get an iPad, decided to try out the Wall St. Journal app. Ernie explains:

I downloaded the free Wall St. Journal app for the iPad, just to see if there was something worthwhile. I used to subscribe to the print version of the Journal and liked it a lot. I got the iPad app to work, after chopping through the thicket of registration screens and admonishments.

I figured I’d get about 2 weeks of hassle free time to check out the app and see what kind of content they are putting out for the iPad. No dice. I kept getting a registration screen. So I deleted the application.

This is not an uncommon phenomenon. A company decides to try to move its product to a digital version and makes it too difficult or cumbersome to use. When it is not  adopted, then the provider declares that attempt a failure, blaming the media, not their poor design. Ernie laments that many companies spend millions of dollars trying to build a following. Newspapers, however, (at least right now) already have that following:

Newspapers have large audiences in the print world and can’t seem to figure out how to tease a substantial portion of that audience into the online world. The production and delivery costs of online media are much lower, and so you’d think that the newspapers would be desperate to transport their paper readers to online media.

And then comes the iPad, a device perfectly suited to making that transition possible. And what do newspapers like the Wall St. Journal do? They want to charge almost the same amount of money for the online version as the print version. And they can’t figure out how to let early adopters on the iPad consume their content free to get them hooked.

Ernie then concludes with one of the best lines I have seen in a long time:

Maybe they should fire all the executives at the newspapers and replace them with drug dealers. At least the drug dealers understand how to get new customers hooked on a product before exploiting them.

JukeFly and Bubbles, A Great Combination

Let me admit now, this post has nothing to do with the practice of law. However, somedays I am still amazed at the things that technology allows us to solve our problems. In this instance, I have approximately 40GB of music sitting on my computer at home. While at home, I can easily serve this music to the other computers in the house. Recently, however, I was thinking that it sure would be nice to be able to do listen to all of that music while I was at work as well.

After a few minutes of research (also known as Googling), I found a solution that I like quite a lot. The first component of the solution is a program called JukeFly. JukeFly describes itself as:

a social music player designed to play your music collection anywhere.

As long as your “anywhere” includes high speed internet access. I think this is an accurate description. After you create an account (which is free). JukeFly installs a small server app on your computer with the music that allows you to access it when you are away. The server applet is quite similar in concept to those found in programs such as LogMeIn.

Once you install the applet, you simply tell the program where to find your music. The program then indexes your music in a short period of time. My 40GB of music took only a couple of minutes to index. Once indexed, the music is available for you to listen to anywhere that you have high speed internet access. You simply log in to your JukeFly account and listen to your music through your browser.

JukeFly could not be easier to use and by allowing me to listen to my music collection regardless of my location, it provides me with an invaluable benefit.

The only issue I have ran into with JukeFly is that I would like to see a shuffle feature of some sort to shake things up a little.

JukeFly also includes some social media aspects to it as well. However, I have not yet explored any of those.

I quickly fell in love with JukeFly, but  I had a problem where I was repeatedly closing my web browser, and thus closing JukeFly. I found a great solution for this problem in a program called Bubbles. Bubbles describes itself as:

an application platform, based on Browser technologies. It detaches Web Applications from the classic Browser and offers them with the familiar accessibility, capabilities and always-on nature of Desktop applications.

In plain English, Bubbles detaches certain web applications (in my case JukeFly) from the web browser an lets you run them as a stand alone application, just as though the web app was a regular desktop app. With JukeFly, I can listen to my music and not worry about whether I am closing my web browser. Instead, when minimized, JukeFly sits as an applet in my notification area, taking up no space on my task bar, but giving me ours of music pleasure.

Bubbles works with many web apps, including GMail and Facebook.

For more information about JukeFly, click here. For more information about Bubbles, click here.

A Great USB Drive

Of course, there is no substitution for encryption to ensure that your information remains secure. However, you can add additional layers of protection by making your data difficult to find or recognize. To this end, ThinkGeek has a great product that they call the Hacked And Frayed Spy Flash Drive. The device is described as a “2GB flash drive cleverly disguised as a frayed and broken USB cable.”

Bruce Schneier notes:

This is a 2 Gig USB drive disguised as a piece of frayed cable. You’ll still want to encrypt it, of course, but it is likely to be missed if your bags are searched at customs, the police raid your house, or you lose it.

The comments on Schneier’s post raise a question I had, namely whether it would be better to have a complete cable rather than a frayed cable.

If you want to make your own cable, check out this post from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.

Gadgets Killed by the Cellphone

I recently ran across a couple of posts dealing with the effects of the cellphone: Five Gadgets That Were Killed by the Cellphone and Seven (More) Gadgets Killed by the Cellphone.

The first five:

  • The PDA
  • The Camera
  • The UMPC (ultra mobile PC)
  • The Phone
  • The MP3 Player

The next seven:

  • The Pager
  • The Wristwatch
  • Pocket Calculator
  • Alarm Clocks
  • SatNav (stand alone GPD)
  • Books
  • Handheld Consoles

Some of these I definately agree with. I think we can all agree that with very minor exceptions the pager is dead. I personally quit wearing a wristwatch several years ago when I determined that it was not worth my time to get the battery replaced. Since then, I have encountered many others who reached the same conclusion.

Similarly, I know many people who use only a cellphone and no longer have a landline.

I supposed it depends on the type of phone that you have, however, I know that the calculation on my Treo can do more than any pocket calculator that I ever owned.

On the other hand, I think that, although the UMPC is dead, the concept is not. Netbooks are becoming more popular. In fact, Ross Kodner has declared that a netbook is now part of his perfect laptop equation.

A New E-Reader

I am a big fan of ebooks. They are certianly more portable than regular books. Although I read my ebooks on my Treo, I am always happy to see advancements in e-reader technology. engadget has a post about a new e-reader from Plastic Logic.  This device is thinner than the Kindle, plus it is flexible. Additionally, it’s display is 8 1/2 x 11. This means that it likely won’t fit in your pocket. However, it should fit just fine in a briefcase. This decision seems to make sense in that Plastic Logic is marketing this to the business market.

Of course, the downside is that it does not connect direclty to Amazon to download books over a cellular network. Instead, you connect to your computer via a USB cable, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth.

Although the video below is a sales presentation, it does give a nice overview of the product.

Also, you can find some pictures of it here.

A Great Hard Drive Solution

HDD Dock

If you have ever complained about having to swap a hard drive out of an external hard drive enclosure, I have found the perfect solution for you: The SATA HDD Multi-Function Dock.

According to the website,

This SATA HDD Dock allows you to plug any 2.5″ or 3.5″ SATA Harddisk to your computer via USB or ESATA port, a powerful tool for data transfer, backup and cloning. It functions as a 2-port USB hub and card reader as well. The device is compatible with both PCs and Macs.

Hat tip to Wired for bringing this to my attention.