Dropbox, Cloud Storage and Encryption by Jeff Krause
My friend and Lawtopia partner, Craig Bayer, has written an extensive post on Dropbox and similar services that store documents in the cloud. Recently, people have questioned the security of such services.
Craig’s post discusses the various options you have to secure your data and concludes that encrypting your files before you upload them is the answer. Interesting read.
Chrometa Helps You Capture Your Time by Jeff Krause
Have you ever had one of those days where you were busy all day? You moved from one item to the next, dealt with interruptions and was able to get a lot of work done. Problem is, you look down at your timesheet and it is almost blank. You try to reconstruct your day but all you can really come up with is about 5 hours when you know you were busy for 8. Where did that time go?
Entering your time immediately after you finish each task is the way to go. We all know that. The problem is that this is not always realistic. Emails are pouring in, you are switching between applications and you get into a rhythm as you do things. Entering your time breaks that rhythm. Many legal billing applications have timers – PCLaw and PracticeMaster have very good ones. These work but you still have to start each time entry and classify it at the beginning when you start timing it. This helps but, at least for me, it does not completely solve the problem.
Enter Chrometa (http://www.chrometa.com). For a small monthly fee, Chrometa monitors my computer. It determines which window is active and automatically records the time I spend in that window. It uses information from the active program to specifically identify that time. For example, if I write an email to my Lawtopia partner Carol Schlein with the subject line “Chrometa Is Really Awesome,” Chrometa will record how much time I spent on that specific email. Same for documents (where it uses the document name) and Internet browsing (where it records the site and time spent on it). Periodically, everything is sent to Chrometa where I can view all of my time. I can even switch computers although I have to remember to pause Chrometa on the computer I am leaving or it will record me as away.
At the end of the day, I log in to my Chrometa account and all of my time is there. From there I can check which items belong to specific clients. If, for example, I worked on an email and reviewed a document for a client, I simply check both entries and assign them to that client. I can annotate the entry before I assign them. Once everything is assigned, I can export a report to Excel that groups all of my time by client. Chrometa also has built in exports to several legal billing systems as well as .csv for exporting to just about anything. I will cover those in another post.
Chrometa is a very useful tool. It does not replace my billing system but it compliments it very nicely. I spend most of my time at my computer and Chrometa helps me keep an accurate record of everything I do. It also allows me get things done without the immediate need to stop and record it. Now I know where my time is going.
Cloud Computing and Metadata Webinar by Jeff Krause
I had the pleasure of doing a webinar yesterday on Cloud Computing and Metadata. The presentation was an introduction to both topics and sponsored by the Wisconsin Association of Legal Administrators and hosted by the State Bar of Wisconsin. Thanks to both.
The materials can be downloaded from the Presentation Downloads page on my website. The session was recorded and State Bar of Wisconsin members may be able to view it via CLE on Demand assuming it is posted there.
How Are You Using PDF Portfolios? by Jeff Krause
One of my favorite Adobe Acrobat featutres is the PDF Portfolio added in Acrobat 9 Professional. PDF Portfolios are a new way to combine files of any type, not just PDFs, into a single PDF file. The single file can be opened by anyone with Acrobat and the individual files retain the ability to be opened within their native application. With Adobe Acrobat Professional 9, PDF Portfolios are really easy to create. Simply, select Create and Assemble PDF Portfolio. Add the files you want in the portfolio and you are ready to go.
It seems like there would be so many legal uses for PDF Portfolios – demand packages for PI Firms, estate plans, incorporation packets, etc. However, I am under the impression that law firms are not using this great new tool. I am inviting comments from lawyers who are using them in order to share some creative uses for them.
Lastly, if you have never seen a PDF Portfolio or would like some training on it, I do offer training on Adobe Acrobat in person or via the web. Contact me via my Krause Practice Management website.
Blawger Survivor Update: Two more posts to go! Take a look at The Connecticut Employment Law Blog for a post on hurricane policies and preparedness. Most of Dan’s post relates to how you deal with the various employment law questions that arise during a hurricane or other natural disaster. Good advice and it should remind you to dust off your own disaster preparations. Have you tested your backup and redundant power supply lately? I hope Danny strays off into the Atlantic and makes some of Dan’s advice unnecessary.
Word 2007 and Vista Updates by Jeff Krause
Another Vista update last night and, once again, Word 2007 is toast.
This started about two months ago and has now happened three times. My computer, which is left on pretty much 24/7 downloads updates over night and restarts itself. When I login the next morning, everything seems to work fine. I open Word 2007, type something and hit Save. The program freezes, then restarts after trying to recover the file. It also freezes when I try such things as creating an envelope, opening a file, etc.
Reinstalling does not help. The only thing that works is renaming the old registry key at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Word\Data to something else and restarting Word. While that fixes the issue, this is really becoming a hassle and, worst of all, I cannot figure out why it is happening with increasing frequency.
Blawger Survivor Update
From the Blawger Survivor contest, Laurie at Halo Secretarial writes on some of the advantages of outsourcing and about the different positions that can be outsourced. As someone who functioned for over a year as a true “one man shop,” I have become a big fan of outsourcing. In fact, I have recently outsourced bookkeeping, billing, a good chunk of my marketing, my call answering (starting today I hope) and my web design (but not content updates). Which reminds me, I need to write a post on my new phone system and my new site. That’s enough content to get me through the first week of this contest!
Backup 101 For Law Firms by Jeff Krause
Thanks to Jane Pribek for quoting me quite extensively in a recent column for the Wisconsin Law Journal entitled Seven Things Every Lawyer Needs to Know About Backup. Also quoted was my friend Sarit Singhal from Superior Support Resources.
For the record, Krause Practice Management is located in Waterford, Wisconsin not Watertown. Jane is not the first person to confuse the two.
Update: Looks like the article pointed to is subscription only. I think the Wisconsin Law Journal only does that with the most recent content. So, my guess is that this article will be updated shortly. I will update with a new link as soon as I can.
Bates Numbering in Adobe Acrobat Pro 9 by Jeff Krause
For several versions, Adobe Acrobat Professional has included the ability to Bates number legal documents. When combined with the PDF Portfolio feature, this makes Acrobat a powerful tool for law firms producing documents for submission to the courts.
The Bates numbering feature is found under the Advanced Menu, Document Processing, Bates Numbering selection. After selecting Add, a dialog appears allowing you to add files for Bates numbering. Add the necessary files.
Output Options allow you to specify a save location and add a Prefix or Suffix to the file names. This will create a new file that includes the Bates number rather than overwriting the original. In my example, I used the suffix “Bates.”
After you have selected your Output Options, you can define the placement of the Bates numbering on the documents as well as the format. This dialog also gives you the ability to define the document margins. The somewhat nodescript “Appearance Options” link gives you the option to shrink the document to fit within the margins, insuring that the Bates number does not cover important parts of the document.
You cannot edit Bates numbering once applied but you can remove it and apply a different Bates number.
Redaction in Adobe 9 Professional by Jeff Krause
I just received a reviewers copy of Acrobat 9 Pro Extended and am going to post some comments as I have a chance to use the program and look through the features.
The first feature I wanted to look at was redaction. Legal professionals should know by now that Adobe Acrobat can redact sensitive information from documents. Acrobat Professional 8 provided the ability to readact individual words and to search for words and redact selected instances of the word. Acrobat 9 extends this ability in several ways. All of these functions can be accessed through the Advanced Menu, Redaction group.
Mark for Readaction and Search and Redact were available in Acrobat 8. However, Search and Redact has been expanded to include several new search choices. First, you can now search for multiple words and phrases. This is a big time saver when you have more than one word that has to be redacted throughout a document. Second, you can now search for patterns including social security numbers, phone numbers, credit cards and email addresses.
The redaction tools in Acrobat Professional are something that every legal professional (or anyone else needing to protect sensitive information) should look at. Adobe Acrobat is much more than a PDF writer.
If You Comment, Don’t Use the Word Insurance! by Jeff Krause
For the last three months, I have been battling comment spam. Comment spam is incredibly irritating. In most cases, it takes the form of a stupid meaningless comment like “Great site!” followed by a list of links to sites all over the Internet. The spammer is hoping that his comment will get through the blog’s moderation process and get posted. Once it is, the links get read by search engine bots and causes the linked sites to have higher ranks at Google and other search sites. Comment spam is automated. Once a spammer finds your blog they will continue to send comment spam to you forever. Whoever, thought of it is pretty ingenious but I would really like to kick him you know where.
WordPress allows me to flag words or IP addresses as sources of spam. This works great for the majority of comment spam. Most often it is pornography or gambling related. Putting a few key words in my list took care of those. However, the one that is driving me crazy now is insurance. Last week I had 47 comments come in trying to link to insurance related sites. The prior week there were perhaps 35. I just don’t have time update my exclusion list for all of them.
Obviously, I can turn commenting off entirely but I do enjoy reading your comments and posting them. One of the purposes of this blog is to be a place where people can exchange ideas and comment on legal technology. However, from now on, if you comment on this post or any other, don’t use the word “insurance.” WordPress will see it as spam and not allow it through. Thanks a lot comment spammers!
UPS Virus Making the Rounds by Jeff Krause
It seems that a new virus is going around. This one masquerades as an email from UPS claiming that a UPS shipment could not be delivered. Readers are asked to click on the attached waybill. Of course, the attachment contains a virus.
This one must have some unusual characteristics as the signatures of many anti-virus programs missed it. I received calls from two of my clients who forgot to renew Trend Micro last month. The month old signatures did not catch the virus, although a manual update to the new signatures did the trick.
Lessons to be learned. Suspicious emails look suspicious for a reason and update your anti-virus. There are a lot of bad guys out there.