Author Archives: jlawson

New Book on PowerPoint for Lawyers

Paul Unger’s book PowerPoint in One Hour for Lawyers is now available. Here’s one section that’s right on:

Don’t Misuse PowerPoint

PowerPoint’s misuse is a nationwide epidemic. Critics of PowerPoint, like Edward R. Tufte, say that the program itself facilitates the making of bad presentations. Moreover, Tufte claims that PowerPoint “stupefies” our culture by encouraging fragmented thinking through bullet points and linear slides, further diminishing our attention span, and feeding us heaping spoonfuls of graphic sugar. While I see Tufte’s point, I think PowerPoint is just a tool that humans use or misuse. When a tailor sews a crooked seam, should we blame the sewing machine? If a presenter has poor content and bad graphics or does not communicate clearly, should we blame PowerPoint? The bottom line is that if used properly, PowerPoint is an extremely effective tool to deliver information to our fast-paced world.

via Tips for Effective Use of PowerPoint – Law Technology Today.

One App To Rule Them All Doesn’t Work (But Eleven Might)

Interesting article at Quartz by writer who has decided it’s folly to try to get by with only a couple of productivity apps. He gives his top 11 apps and concludes:

I’ve realized that the more I give each app a clear role, and I stick to that role, my work flows stay smooth and unambiguous. With discipline, the sheer number of apps stops becoming a factor. Information appears manageable, and I use my limited mental capacity to tick off tasks one after the other.

Some pointers when choosing apps:

  • Store one thing in one place. Besides backups of course.Multi-platform is nice to have.
  • Apps that remind you of stuff can be more useful than apps that store things nicely.
  • The more frequently you use an app, the lighter, more user-friendly, and clutter-free it should be.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with new apps.
  • Apps that can be activated via email are nice.
  • It must be easy to tell apart things with deadlines and things without.
  • What is the most important activity in your work flow? Invest the most in apps that help in that activity.
  • Remember only what you have to. Dump the rest in an app. Of course.

via These 11 apps are the key to productivity – Quartz.

Apps for Mobile Lawyers

Tom Mighell suggests some great apps for lawyers on the go in the most recent edition of Law Practice. This looks one looks particularly useful:

eFlightBoard. iOS, Android  Here’s a secret: Airlines are being less than honest with you when they post departure and arrival times on boards throughout the airport. That’s why I use FlightBoard, which provides accurate departure and arrival times for most flights. I usually switch the app to show arriving flights, so I can tell when my plane is going to get to the gate.

Plagiarizing From an Email?

Adam Grant, Wharton professor, writes a thoughtful essay on plagiarism (worth reading in its entirety) and concludes with a suggested rule:

If you use a full sentence or more from an email that someone else wrote, quote it and attribute it to that person. Otherwise, take the high road and rewrite it from scratch in your own words.

via Is It Wrong to Plagiarize From an Email? – Promising Practices – Management –

E-mail: Tool of Professional Self Destruction

A front page New York Times story indicates even prestigious law firms are not immune to clueless behavior:

Four men, who were charged by New York prosecutors on Thursday with orchestrating a nearly four-year scheme to manipulate the firm’s books to keep it afloat during the financial crisis, talked openly in emails about “fake income,” “accounting tricks” and their ability to fool the firm’s “clueless auditor,” the prosecutors said.

Dumb, dumb, dumb. Don’t engage in conduct like this, and if you must, show some common sense.

“Unreliable” Social Media Not So Unreliable?

Kevin O’Keefe makes a great point about the powerful self-corrective nature of social media:

Traditional legal publishers are quick to question the reliability of information from blogs and Twitter.

How do you know if the blog post is correct? Is the blogger authoritative? Anyone can jump on Twitter and start to Tweet. Look at all the false information that’s tweeted during breaking news.

There’s almost a smugness I get when I discuss the value of social media with traditional publishers. They’re just blogs. It’s just Twitter. It can be be just a lot of noise coming at you.

As Bailey points out, many overlook the fact that the aggregate data can often give the most accurate lens by which information can be confirmed.

What’s more reliable? One legal reporter calling a source or two and getting out a story the next day or five or ten lawyers blogging on the legal development that day with comments and Tweets commenting on the blog posts.

via Legal social media trumps traditional reporting and peer review.

Jim Calloway’s Advice on Win XP

The ever-sensible Jim Calloway doesn’t want us to wind up with a big April Fool’s cap on our heads:

So for those of you who have used XP all these years, avoiding the pain of the Vista and the first release of Windows 8, why would I call you a fool for keeping on keeping on? Because the end of support means no security upgrades and many of us, including Microsoft, are predicting a huge malware spike in the days following April 8. It really makes sense, doesn’t it? A malware designer who has developed some atrocious thing to steal credit card numbers, hijack your computer or just make it inoperable who releases it now would likely be stymied by a patch or fix released by Microsoft the very next  “Patch Tuesday.” But after April 8, it will be clear sailing.

via Lawyers, Don’t be an April Fool for Windows XP – Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips Blog.

Best Smartphone for Lawyers? Nerino Petro Tells All

There are multiple smartphone contenders in the market, including:

  • BlackBerry 10 from Blackberry (fka Research in Motion)
  • Windows Phone8 from Microsoft
  • iOS 7 from Apple
  • Android 4.x from Google

Who better than Nerino Petro to guide us through the pros and cons? One key insight:

Ultimately, the decision may come down to who your current cell phone provider is and which phones fit your budget. Apple has introduced a lower-cost model of its iPhone 5, the iPhone 5C, to reach a broader audience. Google introduced its own smart phones that are designed to its specifications and run stock Android with the guarantee of getting the latest Android updates, such as the Nexus 5, as soon as they’re available.

The Folly of “Secret Questions”

Many websites, including banks, have gone to the practice of allowing users who have lost passwords to obtain access to their accounts through the use of “secret questions.” For years the classic secret question was “Mother’s Maiden Name.” Though there is now more variety in secret questions, they still represent a giant security flaw. Security guru Bruce Schneier has written many times about this issue.

Serious attackers will often be able to figure out the answers by researching the subject–especially subjects who are indiscreet users of social media. Close friends or relatives inclined to access your accounts may not even have to do all that much research. They may already know the brand of your first car, or the name of your favorite elementary school teacher.  At a minimum, protect yourself by never giving a real answer when you set up a “secret question.”

Why do banks like to use such insecure techniques? From their point of view, it’s better than having to deal with an angry customer who has lost his password. Any losses the practice may cause are an “externality,” a cost not born by the bank.

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