In the beginning, there was hardware. With early computers, operating systems were not really conceived separately from the hardware. Software was hard-coded into computing systems. Soon after, however, hardware became the means to run an operating system. All hardware was made to run with an operating system–usually Windows, after Microsoft became dominant. And the operating system, a type of software itself, ran software that made the computer useful. Hardware became secondary.
With time, the operating system has become secondary. We are moving into an age of standards, where only the file–the content–does not change. The hardware and software are irrelevant, because all will be able to access a file equally well. The Open Document Format is a huge step in this direction. But HTML, the backbone of every web page, began the move to standards. With the Internet, all computers needed to see the same things on the screen, whether Windows, Mac, or *nix. Then XML completed the form-content divorce. Content is all-important. Form–including the operating system presenting the content–is irrelevant.
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Vista has not been the roaring success Microsoft intended. This is common knowledge. Why? It is a system hog, requiring nearly anyone who wants Vista to upgrade their computer. So upgrading to Vista requires upgrading hardware. This is not 1998 any more. Hardware stays relevant longer and users do not want to have to upgrade hardware with every software upgrade.
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Lifehacker pointed out CDBurnerXP, a great-looking CD and DVD burning utility. It looks easier to handle than the typically bundled Windows tools like RecordNow, so I plan to give it a try. Check it out.
This seems like an astoundingly good idea that would turn any operating system that implemented system-wide tagging into the ultimate lawyers’ platform:
One of the greatest features introduced by Gmail was the move from folders to tags as a way to organize e-mails. Then Thunderbird added and expanded on the same feature, and blogging software has jumped on the tagging bandwagon, as well.
As an organizational tool, tagging is incredibly useful. It does away with the need to store everything in a hierarchy or database and gives the user the ability to instantly find all relevant information.
So why not allow system-wide tagging? In other words, I would love to be able to tag everything related to a subject. Say I am working on a project–the Smith project, a blog post related to Exaile–and want to find everything related to it. What if I could search by the “Smith” or “Exaile” tag and pull up every e-mail, contact, task, appointment, and–this is the key–document, image, mp3 file, etc. on my computer or network?
In other words, take one of the best features of Web 2.0, the ability to organize with tags, and integrate it into the operating system.
[via Ubuntu Forums]
Edit: Looks like there are already a few tools like this out there. For Linux, MetaTracker will be incorporated into the next Ubuntu release, 7.10. For Windows, Tag2Find offers similar features. I haven’t tried either out, yet, so I’m not sure they are a full solution, but I’m eager to give them a shot.
My wife commented yesterday that it has been a long time since she heard me complaining about my timekeeping and accounting software. It’s true. I hadn’t realized how much less frustration I have since I ditched Time Matters and Billing Matters Plus for good. Instead, I am using a combination of spreadsheets and simple but powerful accounting software.
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All federal court transcripts will not be available to the public online through PACER (at $.08/page) within 90 days of delivery to the court clerk. That’s pretty darn affordable. That is pretty cheap compared to what I am used to paying for transcripts, so this is great news, both for lawyers and for the public.
Here’s the announcement.
[via MSBA Computer and Technology Law Section blog]
Here is the description of the seminar from MCLE:
Tech Tuesday: Computer and Network Security for Lawyers
Presented by Sam Glover; moderated by Peter Berge and Todd Scott
Tuesday, September 18, 2007, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. CDT
1.0 ethics credit
Part of the ongoing “Tech Tuesday” webcast series, streaming the first and third Tuesday of every month.
In this Tech Tuesday installment we will cover the risks to client confidences inherent in the use of computers, databases, and the Internet by lawyers. It will explore the ethical duties to keep client confidences under Rule 1.6 and best practices for securing the digital data which has become central to running a law office.
Presented by Samuel J. Glover, Samuel J. Glover & Assoc., Minneapolis; moderated by Peter H. Berge, Minnesota CLE, St. Paul, and Todd C. Scott, Minnesota Lawyers Mutual, Minneapolis.
Follow this link to register.
The Minnesota State Bar Associate today started offering free access to FastCase. FastCase got a mention here earlier this year. I gave it a test run yesterday for a brief I was writing, and really enjoyed using it. It is more simple than using Westlaw or Lexis, but returns good results in a fast and very easy-to-use interface.
FastCase doesn’t support the extensive terms and connectors that Westlaw does, but it does support basic boolean searching along with some advanced search terms and connectors. Very useful.
All in all, I’m thrilled with this new service from the MSBA. Even if this increases my dues a bit, I don’t mind. Compared to the increasingly exorbitant fees charged by Thompson-West and Lexis Nexis, FastCase is a bargain even at full price ($95/month).
The two main models of organizing information, cataloging/databases and searching, each have their advantages and disadvantages. Alone, neither seems to satisfy the needs of an efficient, streamlined law office. Together, they start to look like a solution, but where is the software to tie them together in a package perfect for the solo or small practice?
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No matter what you use to manage your practice, whether a case management product like Time Matters or simply Outlook (or Evolution, or whatever) and the file manager, the efficacy of the system depends on good procedures. No software eliminates the need for good procedures. However, modern technology, especially in a paperless law office, means adhering to procedures may be far less onerous than it used to be.
The most important procedures revolve around making sure it is easy to find all contacts, appointments, tasks, e-mails, and documents associated with a case.
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