ABA Techshow Podcast

While I was at ABA Techshow, I had the opportunity to be on a podcast from Legal Talk Network. I had the pleasure of sharing the podcast with Nancy Duhon and Ernie Svenson, both of whom had great thoughts that they shared Legal Talk Networkon the podcast.

You can listen to the podcast here. While there, you should check out the other podcasts recorded at Techshow.

Computer Skills Everyone Should Know

At I Heart Tech, Adriana Linares is blogging about 10 Critical Computer Skills Every Attorney Should Know. In her first post of the series, she talks about operating system and file management essentials. Some of the skills that she covers are things such as creating a new folder and using the Shift and Ctrl keys to select files and folders.

She also provides links to tutorials on things such as moving windows, hiding windows, and switching between windows. I am constantly amazed as the number of people that I run across who do not realize the value of their computer’s ability to multi-task.

I have encountered people before who thought they had to close Outlook to use a different program. Some people have no idea what it means to minimize a window. Similarly, some have no idea how to move a window (or even that you could move or resize a window).

Sometimes it is easy to forget that people don’t have these basic skills. Most of the time, that is not their fault. Many people had a computer put in front of them, told how to operate a particular program essential to their job and then left to their own devices. Stated simply, this is what happens without proper training.

Look around your workplace, are there employees who do not know these basic skills. If so, send them to training. These are essential skills to have so people can operate their computers more effectively. The more effectively and efficiently they can operate their computers, the more efficient they can be when working for you.

A Great Tip for Camera Owners

One of the issues associated with having so many electronic devices (many of which keep getting smaller) is the fact that it is fairly easy to lose or misplace your devices. I recently saw this post from Andrew McDonald, in which he explains the steps he took to help recover his camera in the event that he loses it. He explains:

All you have to do is take some photos – which you never delete from your camera – so when someone finds your camera at the bottom of the gorilla pit they are able to locate you and return the lost property to its rightful owner.

You must go to his post to see his pictures.

There is no question that he had some fun putting together his pictures, but we can all do something similar very easily. Obviously this will not help you if your camera is stolen. But, if it is found by a reasonable person, this increases the likelihood of getting your camera back.

In the same vein, think of similar types of things you can do with your other devices, whether it is to keep pictures on it (almost all phones and mp3 players have the ability to display pictures). If you have a mp3 player that does not display pictures, you can easily record a sound file with your contact information on it.

If you have a smartphone or other similar device, they almost always have a feature that allows you to store owner information. Have you completed that? If you lock your smartphone (certainly a good idea if it contains confidential information) does the lock screen provide your contact information?

There is always a danger that someone will steal our electronics. Just as likely, at least for some of us, is the possibility that we may lose one or more of our devices. Taking a simple step such as this gives you a chance to get your device back.

A GMail Tip

The ABA Techshow Blog had a great GMail tip a couple of weeks ago. The post explains how you can tell if someone is accessing your GMail account from another location:

Once you’re signed in, at the bottom of the page you’ll find a lot of fine print.  Beneath where it indicates how much of your allotted storage space you’re currently using, you’ll see a line that gives the time and IP address of your last account activity.  Click on the “Details” link, and you’ll be taken to a window showing the last several times anyone signed in to your account, how (Browser, mobile, POP3, etc.), the IP address, and the time.  It will also tell you whether there is concurrent activity.  There’s also a button to allow you to close any concurrent sessions and link to allow you to change your password immediately.

I know that most people have a GMail account that they use for some purpose. Doesn’t it make sense to check this every once in a while to make sure someone else isn’t accessing your account?

Protecting Your Bates Numbers

One of my favorite features in Adobe Acrobat is its ability to add Bates numbers to hundreds of pages in less than a minute. Another great feature built into the Bates numbering feature is that, because Acrobat stores the Bates numbering information as metadata, it allows you to remove the Bates number from the documents. This is particularly convenient if you find that you want to reorder your documents before you produce your documents to the other side.

The downside of this flexibility, of course, is the fact that if you send these documents to someone else, then they can also modify your Bates numbers. Fortunately, this issue is one that is easy to solve and Rick Borstein explains how in a post on his Acrobat for Legal Professionals Blog. As Rick explains:

The ability to remove Bates Numbers is valuable in case you make a mistake during the numbering process. However, due to the adversarial nature of the legal business, attorneys may desire to limit what the other side can do with documents.

* * *

In this article, I’ll discuss how to “lock down” Bates Numbers so that they cannot be removed by Acrobat’s “Remove Bates” option.

In his post, Rick explains to how protect your Bates numbers in both a single documents and in multiple documents. Check out the entire post for his easy to follow instructions.

What to do if you Have Been Defamed Online

The big news story, at least in social media circles, has been the lawsuit filed by Horizon Group Management LLC against Amanda Bonnen for her tweet about her apartment. Several comments that I have read relating to this matter have taken Horizon to task for filing suit over a tweet by a person who had only 20 (or so followers).

That, however, is not what I want to address. I presume that Horizon is doing what it wants to do and that it has both a legal and business reason for pursuing the course of action that it has taken. Thus, I am not here to criticize Horizon’s actions, but instead to address the question of what people or businesses should do if they believe that they have been defamed online (especially in a social media situation).

Any such discussion must first begin with an acknowledgment that businesses have been able to turn customer service problems into positive experiences by monitoring social media and responding to complaints. One of the best stories I have seen on this was one in which a Kabuki manger saw a tweet an apologized to the person while she was still in the restaurant.

On the other hand, there have also been situations in which companies have fired off a cease & desist letter that has been ridiculed. In fact, the EFF along with a variety of universities has compiled a database of cease & desist letters.

The qustion thus becomes, what do you do if someone online has said something about you or your business that you don’t like.

One option, of course, is you can try to correct the problem by contacting the person directly. As can be seen from the above stories, not only can that work out well for you, it can also lead to some good PR. Keep in mind, however, that not all feel-good stories make it to the mainstream press.

If you can’t satisfy the person’s problem or (for whatever reason) do not want to satisfy the person’s problem you can, of course, start your own PR campagn to dispute the posted info, you can ignore the posted information, or you can take action against the poster.

If you decide to take action against the poster, I urge you to search for an attorney who understands how social media works and what the service is. Sometimes, a lawsuit is a legitimate option to take. However, you should find an attorney who understands the pitfalls that arise at the intersection of litigation and social media.

Sometimes, to achieve the result that the client is looking for, a lawsuit is the only available option. Other times, however, familiarity with online sites and their working may allow a problem to be resolved, short of litigation. I once represented a client who was concerned about some critical comments that had been made about his business on a online forum. After reviewing the posts and the applicable terms of service, I realized that the posts violated the forum’s terms of service. I contacted the forum operator, pointed out the terms of service violation, and the forum operator removed the postings.

Of course not all problems can be solved this easily. However, the key thing to remember is that if you decide that you are considering taking action with respect to a defamatory comment posted on a social networking site, weigh the consequences of taking action against not taking action, and look for an attorney familiar with social media and its potential affects on your litigation.

Making Google Docs More Useful

Notwithstanding the confidentiality concerns found with Google Docs, I know that there are plenty of people who use and love Google Docs. Don’t get me wrong. I think it is a very neat application and I have used it before for personal, nonconfidential stuff.

Anyway, for those who use Google Docs, Dumb Little Man has a post that provides 10 Google Docs hacks. From the list, my favorites are the bulk uploader, as well as the bulk download options.

Although I don’t know that I would keep my finances on Google Docs, the tip describing how you can easily keep track of your finances is pretty neat.

Also, I didn’t know this, but you can easily create polls using Google Docs. Now that is a cool application.

Check out the post for all 10 tips.

ScanSnap Tips & Tricks

For many years, most people I know in the legal technology field have been suggesting the Fujitsu ScanSnap as a great scanner at a reasonable price. I too do not hesitate to recommend the ScanSnap to anyone who is looking for a scanner.

If you are someone who uses a ScanSnap, you should check out the ScanSnap Tips & Tricks forum. The site has several tips to help you use your ScanSnap more efficiently.

Hat tip to Ernie at PDF for Lawyers for pointing this site out.

Using Checkmarks in Excel

Carol’s Corner Office Blog recently had a great trip on how to add checkmarks to an Excel spreadsheet. Carol explains:

I receive lots of e-mail from subscribers asking me if they can put checkmarks into the cells in their MS Excel spreadsheets. The short answer is yes!

There are several ways to place checkmarks in the cells of your MS Excel spreadsheets. Follow the steps below to learn how:

Note – Depending upon your version of MS Excel and Windows, you may not have some of the fonts below.

  1. Type a lower case a and change the font to Marlette or Webdings.
  2. Type an upper case P and change the font to Wingdings2.
  3. Hold down the ALT key and type 251.
  4. Click on Insert | Insert Symbol and scroll down and click on the checkmark. Click on Insert | Close | Enter.
  5. Hold down the ALT key and type 0252 and change the font to Wingdings.

I know that this is probably not something you need to do often, however, if you need a checkmark, you now know several ways to accomplish this. Check out Carol’s complete post. It contains 6 different ways for you to add checkmarks to your spreadsheet.

Making a Useful Signature Stamp

At PDF for Lawyers, Ernie the Attorney provides a great tutorital on creating a digital signature in Adobe Acrobat. The problem with using a digital signature in Acrobat is that most people don’t understand them. In addtion to your name, the digital signature contains other information that verifies that you signed the document and that it has not been changed since.

Ernie explains:

A signature, digital or not, has to satisfy two elements: (1) non-repudiability, and (2) acceptance by the receiving party.  In other words, the point of signing a document is so the recipient knows it’s from you, and that you can’t deny it’s from you (i.e. you can’t repudiate authorship of the document).  Digital signatures are far superior to regular signatures in this arena.  Where they fail miserably is in the ‘acceptance’ part.
Because digital signatures are not familiar to most people they freak out if they see a bunch of numbers where they’re used to seeing indecipherable human scrawl.  So, how to remedy this problem?
The quick and dirty fix is to do what I outline in that blurb I mentioned a few sentences ago. Just create a stamp and slap that on the document you want to ‘sign.’  It won’t be secure like a real digital signature (and if you want to repudiate it you can say your secretary exceeded her authority and stamped it without your knowledge).  But, let’s say you’re a fair-minded, by-the-rules kind of guy (or gal).  Is there another option?

Fortunately Ernie has solved this problem. Simply go to his post and follow his few simple steps to create a digital signature with an appearance that won’t freak people out.