Management Assistance Program
What Tech Tool Should I Use to Do That?
By Jim Calloway
How do I do that? It is one of the challenges we all live with in today’s times. We need to do something with our technology, and we are aware that there are technology tools to do it. We just aren’t sure which of the many available tools is appropriate and how much training, installation and setup will be required to make it happen. After all, the point is to do it more quickly and efficiently, not to spend hours researching software or apps and customizing them. So this month let’s cover a few ways to do some common technology tasks quickly. Hopefully, many readers will be aware of several of these methods already.
HOW DO I FIND THE ANSWER TO ALMOST ANY FACTUAL QUESTION?
We all know the answer to this one, right? You can quickly find an amazing number of facts by using Internet search engines, with Google being the most popular. But what you may not know is that Google has been changing the algorithm it uses to provide answers to our queries. Now Google does a much better job of returning an initial search result that attempts to provide the answer to the question that you are really asking.
To see this in action, just type in one of my favorite search terms — Oklahoma City Thunder. No longer is the team’s official website the very first result, although you can easily scroll down to find that result. Instead, you find the score of the most recent game or the time of the upcoming game along with some facts about the team from Wikipedia, the team roster, graphics associated with the team and recent news items associated with the team. This is a very good example of how Google search works differently today.
If Google doesn’t return the search results you want, remember that the Internet is so massive today you may need to use many words in your Google search query to find what you want. So do a short search first, and if that doesn’t return what you’re seeking, try using a lot of words for your Google search.
HOW CAN I FIND INFORMATION ABOUT A PERSON INEXPENSIVELY?
Lawyers often find themselves in a situation where they would like to be able to do a quick and easy background check on an individual or try to do a “skip trace” on someone who has vanished, whether they are opposing party, witness or lost heir. A good first starting point is TLOxp® for Legal Professionals. The service has a 15-day free trial and offers searches for $1 and more comprehensive reports for $5. You can see the various types of searches available here.
I NEED TO SCHEDULE A CONFERENCE CALL OR OTHER EVENT WITH OTHERS IN DIFFERENT TIME ZONES. HOW CAN I DO THAT EASILY?
TimeandDate.com has been online for a long time. This nice website provides a time zone map, a free meeting planner, the current time to the second, a printable PDF calendar, a future date calculator and about any other resource you can imagine related to times and dates.
Scheduling a meeting with one other person is fine to do by email, but if there are three or more people involved, you always want to use a free meeting scheduling app like Doodle, Meeting Wizard or WhenIsGood.
I HAVE A DOCUMENT IN MY HAND THAT I NEED TO EMAIL TO SOMEONE, BUT I DON’T HAVE A SCANNER. WHAT DO I DO?
At this point every law office should have a scanner. But there will still be many times that you will find yourself away from the office in a situation where you do not have access to a scanner. This is one of the best reasons to have a smart phone. Today’s smart phones have very high resolution cameras that can take a picture of an entire 8 1/2” by 11” document. Sometimes just sending a picture will accomplish your purpose. But there are a number of apps that will convert a picture on your phone to a PDF file before emailing it. For iOS, check out Scanner Pro for iPhone from Readdle ($6.99) or JotNot Scanner Pro ($1.99). For the Android platform there are a number of applications available in the Google Play store. The free Cam Scanner app receives a lot of great reviews (All lawyers with Android phones should certainly check out Jeffrey Taylor’s blog post “2013’s Best Android Apps for Lawyers,”.
I KNOW I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO USE THE SAME PASSWORD FOR ALL OF MY WEB SERVICES, BUT THERE IS NO WAY TO REMEMBER SO MANY DIFFERENT PASSWORDS. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Not only should you not use the same password for multiple different logins, but passwords should not be words that can be found in the dictionary. They should be long, at least 10 or 12 characters, and include letters or symbols. But you only need to memorize a few passwords. You need to memorize the password to login to your computer. You need to memorize the passwords to log into your online banking accounts. And you need to memorize the password for your password manager that remembers all the other passwords for you. Today it is simply impossible to manage all of your passwords without using a password manager. Some popular ones include LastPass, 1Password, Dashlane, Roboform and KeePass.
WHILE DOING LEGAL RESEARCH, I’M ENCOUNTERING PROBLEMS. HOW CAN I GET TECH SUPPORT OR IMPROVE MY ONLINE LEGAL RESEARCH SKILLS?
If you are using your free Fastcase legal research service supplied by the OBA and encounter problems, great free tech support is available. Telephone customer support is available Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. central time at 866-773-2782. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org for support during those hours or use the live chat feature on the website. Video tutorials and other resources to improve your skills in using Fastcase can be found at here.
And, if you are not using your free Fastcase account, why not?
WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE TECHNOLOGY TIPS LIKE THESE?
Let me immodestly remind you of my blog, Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips. But we all seem to be too busy to remember to go visit websites. If you are not yet set up with an RSS newsreader to get the feed from the blog, then visit it today and enter your email address in the subscription box. You will receive each of the blog posts, in its entirety, via email the day after the post hits the Internet. This makes certain you will be notified of my podcasts and my column in the ABA’s Law Practice magazine as well. We hope to expand content on the blog this year and encourage those of you who haven’t yet subscribed to receive it by email to do so.
Mr. Calloway is OBA Management Assistance Program director. Need a quick answer to a tech problem or help solving a management dilemma? Contact him at 405-416-7008, 800-522-8060, email@example.com. It’s a free member benefit!
Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal — February., 2014 — Vol. 85, No. 5