How to Use the iPad Untethered (wireless) with VGA Projector or Smart Board

In a previous post, we extolled the virtues of using Apple TV ($99 The Hytech Lawyer Store) to enable wireless presentations with the iPad. http://hytechlawyer.com/?p=584  Imagine, a teacher being able to wander the room with a wireless iPad to check the progress of individual students while at the same time simultaneously mirroring the content of their iPad to a projector, TV or Smart Board.  For Lawyers  (who are also teachers), the ability to use an untethered iPad for presentations (which if properly prepared can be tailored on the fly) has numerous applications—hearings, presentations, mediations, etc.

There is, however,  one small technical problem with this vision of iPad presentation paradise for many users.  Most smart board systems and LCD projectors have VGA inputs and do not have the HDMI input used by Apple TV (note: HD TVs and some high end projectors do come equipped with HDMI).  The first attempt that many make to overcome this obstacle is to try a VGA-HDMI adapter cable.   Unfortunately, just using an adapter will not work because HDMI is digital, while VGA is analog.  You need a HDMI to VGA converter to convert the digital signal to analog.

On the recommendation of others, we purchased the LinkStyle HD Video Converter ($ 44.98 The Hytech Lawyer Store).  After extensive testing, we are pleased to report that it works well.  Admittedly, the picture quality is not as crisp as a digital signal using HDMI, but it compares well to the typical LCD projector image quality.  Note that VGA does not support audio.  However, there is a miniplug audio jack that takes the audio from the HDMI input and allows you to connect speakers or input to a sound system.

It may just be me, but I think that the ability to make a presentation using a wireless iPad has a serious cool factor.  Plus, you don’t have to worry about a VGA adapter falling out during your presentation.  You can also connect to power during the presentation if you are running low.  Most of all, I like the ability to change my presentation on the fly because the iPad is in my hands.  This allows the tailoring of the presentation to the audience; e.g., a judge asking questions.  Questions anyone?

How to create Your Own Law Blog (Blawg) in an Hour or Less

In December of 2010, I decided to enter the Blawg world.  At the time I had no idea how to even begin.  After some research, I found the web hosting service iPage which has great step-by-step instructional material.

affiliate_link

With no prior experience, I was able to create a domain name and set up my account in less than an hour.  It is incredibly cheap to maintain a blog site.  I pay iPage about $4 per month for hosting my site—which includes everything basic plus some bells and whistles.  The service has been great and I highly recommend it. [Disclosure— The good news is that if you purchase iPage services by clicking on a link from my site, I receive a referral fee.  The better news is that you get a special promotional discount on the service for the first year].

Before you start the actual process you need to give some thought to the focus of your blog and what your domain name will be—e.g., hytechlawyer.com.  Your domain name is like your phone number and you will be required to choose a unique one.  iPage walks you thorough the process step by step.

Then you install Word Press which allows you to build a website without knowing how to code or use HTML  (although as you blog for a while you will pick up some HTML knowledge)—just drag and drop. You basically use prepared templates and “widgets” that you customize.

Using iPage I can update my blog or even completely change the site design at will.  You will also get unlimited emails with your domain name (e.g., Bill@hytechlawyer.com).

The steps in setting up a Blog using iPage:

  1. Click on this link:  http://www.ipage.com/join/index.bml?AffID=646895
  2. Choose a domain name (e.g., myuniquedomainame.com) This is a process where you keep trying out potential names until you find one that is available.
  3. Install Word Press
  4. Build your Website using templates and “widgets”—no coding knowledge required
  5. Start blawgging.  Remember that lawyer blogs are considered lawyer advertising by most states, so be sure you review the rules.  I will be doing a blog entry on lawyer blog ethical issues in the near future.

If you have questions about the process, then comment below and I, or one of the readers will attempt to answer them, or direct you to a resource.

Send me a link to your blawg when you set it up and I will mention it on my site so all can see.

Bill Latham a/k/a The Hytechlawyer

Why Some Lawyers Blog– the need for audience affirmation

I am often asked why I spend so much time blogging- given that it seems to have done very little to advance my law practice other than to make it widely known that I am a consumer tech geek.  I think it goes back to my childhood. My Dad was in the radio and TV news business for 15 years before he became a Professor of Journalism at the University of South Carolina. In fact, he began working “on air” in commercial radio as a teenager.  He later anchored two nationally syndicated news shows in the 1970’s, before entering academia. The point is– broadcasting is in my blood– ok, at least in my Dad’s blood.

Attempting to follow in my father’s footsteps, about the time I was 12 or 13, I set up an intercom system between mine  and my younger sisters’ room– much to their dismay  I then began broadcasting to them over my imaginary radio station “WBGB” (“Where better gets better”) during most of their summer waking hours.  I played an eclectic mix of rock, jazz, country and classical records (yes– vinyl), basically the free promotional stuff that my Dad brought home from the radio station, interspersed with news and weather reports.  My Dad thought it cute, and in an act of overt encouragement had a clock made up for me emblazoned with the WBGB call sign.   Nevertheless, my “cable radio” broadcasting obsession drove my sisters nuts– although I was willfully blind to this fact.

My illusion of a receptive audience was destroyed when one day I happened to be passing by my sisters’ room and found that my radio station speaker had been covered with a large  stack of pillows and blankets to muffle the sound– it appeared to have been that way for quite some time– judging from the cobwebs. There was no more denying the audience hated my programming. Rejection is tough pill, but a good teacher.  I vowed in the future to try harder to appeal to my audience.

As time went by, I went to college, served in the Marine Corps (as a communications officer no less), and then went to Law School. Being a military officer and a litigation lawyer are protected environments for aspiring broadcasters because much of your audience is compelled (or feel compelled by your hourly rate) to listen to you– even if you bore them to tears.

With all that in mind, when I began blogging just over a year ago, my goal was to focus on technology issues of real interest to lawyers– an area of interest of mine for some time.  It seems that I have succeeded on a modest scale, as on average over 200 “unique” persons visit my website on a daily basis (See below). That may seem pathetic, but think about it, that is over 6000 “unique” visitors per month (pity the poor non-unique visitors). The dilemma is that my blog has little to do with directly marketing my practice area, (which at the risk of incurring a big yawn, I will share with you is class action defense and complex business litigation– actually fun stuff).  I suspect my partners think I’m crazy and would appreciate the conversion of blogging hours to billable hours, but they are kind enough to humor me– although they do tend to crack a smile when they mention my blogging obsession.  The truth is– I have a passion for adopting technology to make the practice of law more efficient and yes– more fun.  I also like to share my discoveries and love the occasional “ah ha” reactions of my colleagues when they discover how a particular technology can enhance their law practice.

OK, I also admit that another thing I like about blogging is the ability to broadcast to the world and see if I can attract an audience.  Admittedly, blogging is somewhat of a sport for me– it’s like fishing– without all the nature, messy bait and exposure to fresh air. It’s like running your own international newspaper– without an editor, advertising revenue, and most obviously, a proofreader.  My philosophy is to only blog on topics that I would read myself. If you do that, somebody will read your stuff.  What interests people can be a big surprise.  For example, my entry that has gotten the most hits over the past year was a piece on a $15 rubber iPad compatible key board being sold at Bed Bath and Beyond.   See http://hytechlawyer.com/?p=228   (I should get a big run up in visitors just by mentioning the rubber keyboard again :) ).

In a future entry (or two), I will lay out how to set up a lawyer blog– why?– because you can never have too many lawyer blogs (the estimate is that there are over 10,000 already). You too can join the party.

Does any other blogger care to reply share why they do it? Can any blog reader explain why they wasted the time to read this blog? Does anybody have anything profound to say about technology and the practice of law– or anything else? (I love replies!– they are a bigger catch than unique visitors).

I have an idea– I will donate $1 dollar to charity for each “unique” reply posted to this blog by midnight EST January 30, 2012– up to $500.  Follow-up replies (up to 5) will get credit as unique replies. In your reply, share your thoughts and vote for the charity you want to get the money. The charity with the most votes gets the pot. Obviously, I am quite desperate for attention and am willing to pay for it.

Until Next time–

This is Bill Latham, a/ka The Hytech Lawyer, signing off.

 

iPad Tips and Tricks Useful to Lawyers

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of teaching my fourth CLE class on using the iPad for legal work. At the end of each class, I share a few tips and tricks with the group. I find that many experienced users are unaware of these helpful hints. This is the first of a series detailing some of these “tips and tricks” that might be useful to lawyers.   We will start off basic and will get more advanced as the series progresses.

First, make sure you have the latest version of IOS. To do this, go to the “Settings” icon and select. Next, push the “General” icon .  Then select “About”.  Then look for the “Version” under “About.”  As of the date of this entry, the version should be 5.0.1.  Version 5.0 and 5.0.1 were major upgrades and you’re missing out on significant iPad functionality if you are not up to date.  In fact, once these upgrades are installed, future upgrades are wireless.  I have been amazed at how many lawyers I encounter are still running iPad software versions 3 or more upgrades old.

Second–have you updated all your apps? If your App Store indictor has a number on it then the answer is no.  Select the App Store icon and then select update all.  You will be asked for your Apple password, however, application upgrades are free. This is the beauty of the App Store.  You can always have the latest version of the application. It is also important to install these upgrades because this is how bugs are fixed by the developers.

Screenshots – – did you know that you can take a screenshot of whatever is on your screen?  Briefly push the home button and power button at the same time and a picture will be taken of your current screen. You can find the picture in your camera roll with your other photos.  You can then export the picture by email, insert it in other documents, Etc.  That is how I was able to insert the photo of my blog below.

Shortcuts – – do you find yourself typing out lengthy e-mail addresses, conference call instructions, addresses, or other repetitive information?  Did you know that one of the improvements of IOS 5.0 is a shortcut feature that allows you to type a few letters for a long phrase?  To activate, select the “Settings” icon.  Go to the right side toward the bottom and select “Keyboard.” At the bottom you will see “add a new shortcut.”  Select it, and then add the shortcut, (e.g., “em”  for your “longwindedemail address.com”). Now, when ever you type “em” the long email address will pop up as choice that you can select by simply pressing the space key.

Resetting Malfunctioning Applications—No need to reset your whole iPad when an App hangs up or malfunctions.  Simple double click the home button.  Locate the offending App among the icons presented at the bottom. Push and hold the icon of the App you want to close, until the icon starts jiggling- then push the – to the left of the icon.  This closes (but does not delete) the App.

Sending multiple pictures in an e-mail:  It is simple to send multiple pictures in an e-mail from your camera roll. First, press the “Photos” icon.  If you have your photographs in albums, select the album containing the pictures you want to send.  Select the “Send” icon in the top right corner—it will turn blue.  Then tap each photo you want to send.  A check mark will appear on each selected photo. Tap share and you will be presented a menu to Email, print or message.

Do you want your iPad to read to you on occasion (for example while driving)?  Select “Settings”.  In the left hand column select “General” and then in the right hand column toward the bottom select “Accessibility.”  Then select “Speak Selection” and turn it on.  You can select the pace of speech.  Now, when you select any text (for example word documents, emails or books) you can have it read to you by tapping “Speak.”   Note, that for those that are visually impaired, the iPad can be set to read everything displayed  (Settings–>General–> Accessibility –>VoiceOver).  Be sure to read the instructions on the screen because selecting this VoiceOver option changes the iPad commands (of course you can reset them).

That’s all for now–

If you would like to share your favorite iPad Tricks and Tips, we would welcome your reply.

Use Your iPad as PC or Mac Second (Dual) Monitor

In my office, I have a dual monitor set-up that I find to be very useful.  When on the road, I carry my laptop PC and an iPad2.  Air Display ($9.99 The App Store) allows me to use my iPad as a dual monitor over a common wifi network or via an ad hoc network.

Simply install the iPad app and the companion PC/Mac software and you are ready to go.  The App allows touch screen control on the Pad when paired in dual display mode.  I have found the App to work well and recommend it for those who need a mobile dual monitor solution.

The Hytech Lawyer’s Top 25 Productivity Apps Winter 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

It’s time again for another update to the Hytech Lawyer’s favorite lawyer productivity applications:

1.    Goodreader  ($4.99 App Store)

One of the best selling non-Apple apps for iPad in 2011.  This App allows you read and in most cases mark-up PDF and many other varieties of documents.  Also has a well designed document management system which permits multi-level document files (i.e., organizing documents by case/matter).  Aggressive development team constantly refines and updates programs.  A must have for the serious iPad lawyer.

2.    Documents To Go Premium  ($ 16.99  App Store)

Another must have application for the serious iPad lawyer.  Allows you to open, edit, save, email and create documents in the most popular word processing and spreadsheet applications to include MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and WordPerfect.  Allows you to see redlines in documents with tracked changes although there is not capability to redline documents on the iPad (we are not aware of any Application that provides this functionality).

3.    Pages ($9.99 App Store)

Apple’s proprietary word processing program.  Most robust word processing program I am aware of on the iPad.  Converts Word documents for editing.  Documents created in Pages can be converted to Word and shared by various means. If you are going to draft documents on the iPad, you will want this App.

4.    SpiderOak  (Free upto 2 GB App Store)

SpiderOak does everything that Dropbox does and more  (allows cloud storage and the sharing of files between computers, smart phones, iPads, etc.), but is much more secure.  Your files are encrypted and SpiderOak does not have a key. SO DON’T FORGET YOUR PASSWORD.  To start out, you install the desktop app and select folders you want to backup. Once backed up, you can choose to sync them to other computers/devices or create “Share Rooms” to share files with other users.   I use SpiderOak in my practice for cloud storage (after 2 GB charges based on storage size), file transfers and collaboration with other. In my opinion a “must have” App.

5.    Dropbox (Free up to 2 GB  APP Store)—NON-CONFIDENTIAL FILE USE ONLY

In some respects, Dropbox is a wonderful App.   It allows cloud storage and the sharing of files between computers, smart phones, iPads, you name it.  With this App you can make a file available to all your devices by moving to the Dropbox on any of your other computers/devices.  Incredibly easy to use.   The problem—there are serious questions about the security of files stored in Dropbox and access to them   (see my prior posts).  Further, the terms of service are such that Dropbox can pretty much do what it wants to with your files.  Thus, in my opinion Dropbox is not suitable for storing or transferring confidential and/or privileged materials.  However, it is probably true that using Dropbox to simply transfer files, and then deleting the files from Dropbox post transfer presents minimal risk.  I use it frequently for transferring nonconfidential files because many applications are designed with Dropbox capability.

6.     UPAD (4.99 App Store)

UPAD allows you to use you iPad as a notepad for handwritten notes.  I use it everyday (with stylus) in place of my yellow legal pad (although UPAD does have yellow page templates).  I have tested almost every popular handwriting Application  (Penultimate (old #1 choice), Note Taker HD, Noteability, PaperDesk, PhatPad 7Notes HD Premium) and have found UPAD to be the easiest to use with the best file storage functionality and most natural writing feel.

7.    Penultimate  ($ .99  The App Store)

Penultimate is my old handwriting application favorite.  A very nice looking interface and simple to use.  Given the bargain basement price, I still highly recommend it.

8.    Notability  ($ .99  The App Store)

This all in one App allows you to handwrite, type and or record audio notes.  Because the handwriting feature is not as good as that in Upad, I use this application when I need audio backup for my notes, or plan to type and write notes.

9.     AudioMemos 2 ($ .99 The App Store)

Audio Memos is a professionally made audio recorder that provides great sound quality. It has an intuitive interface, which is easy to use and full of powerful features.  You can email recordings.  Caution—keep in mind the ethical issues related to recording others without their knowledge.

10.   Keynote  ($ 9.99.  The App Store)

Apple’s answer to PowerPoint for the iPad.  You can create presentations on the iPad, but I have found it more practical to prepare presentations in PowerPoint and then email them to my iPad.  Keynote will convert PowerPoint presentations to Keynote.  As you might expect from Apple, Keynote has some wonderful effects for transitions, etc.

11.    Trialpad  ($89.00 The App Store)

In my opinion, Trialpad is one of the two best trial presentation applications available for the iPad  (the others being ExhibitView). It is also the most expensive (although cheap compared to the cost of preparing even one foam board exhibit). Trialpad allows you to organize documents and display them via projector or monitor system. You can highlight, redact, mark, and enlarge documents on the fly.  It also has the capability to organize and share video and has a whiteboard feature.  Documents are transferred to the iPad via Dropbox, e-mail, or iTunes sync.  Trialpad is intuitively designed and easy to use.

12.   ExhibitView ($29.00 App Store)

ExhibitView (formal review coming in January) has been in the trial presentation business for several years offering a $499.00 PC based trial presentation program that is designed to be easier to use than some of the more complex programs such as Sanction and Trial Director.  They have finally released an iPad application that has carried over this ease of use philosophy to the iPad.  The application has all of the basic trial presentation tools highlighting, blow-ups, marking and redactions that are needed by the typical trial attorney.  You can also create slides using the mark up tools and save them as separate documents.  The loading of files is limited at this time to DropBox, as compared to TrialPad that allows inputs from multiple sources.  A plus for ExhibitView is that presentations  created in its rich PC version can be transferred to the iPad application.  While TrialPad has a few more features, ExhibitView’s much lower price and outstanding functionality will probably make it the best choice for most trial lawyers.

13.   Dragon  (Free. The App Store)

Wonderful free Application (I use the paid version on my PC at work).  Dragon is the leader in voice type dictation, i.e., it types what you say to it with amazing accuracy.  You can then cut and paste or email the text.  Caveat—your dictation is processed in the cloud—I would be hesitant to use it for confidential information.

14.  Explain Everything  ($ 2.99 The App Store)

Originally designed for educators, “Explain Everything” is an easy-to-use design tool that lets you annotate, animate, and narrate explanations and presentations. You can also use Explain Everything as an interactive whiteboard using the iPad2 video display.

Explain Everything records on-screen drawing, annotation, object movement and captures audio via the iPad microphone. Import Photos, PDF, PPT, and Keynote from Dropbox, Evernote, Email, iPad photo roll and iPad2 camera. Export MP4 movie files, PNG image files, and share the .XPL project file with others for collaboration.

The potential uses for this app are only limited by your imagination. For example, you can create an animation showing the direction of travel of automobile involved in an accident. You can import and crop photographs, add graphics such as arrows, shapes, etc. You can also introduce typewritten text or handwriting. In a nutshell, with the app, you can put most anything on the screen and manipulate it in real-time, while the same time recording it for later presentation in movie format. The animations can be displayed from the app, or uploaded into Keynote or PowerPoint

15. Fastcase HD  (Free.  The App Store)

Fastcase HD is a free legal research application, putting the American law library in the palm of your hand. Fastcase contains cases and statutes from all 50 states and from the federal government. You can search by citation, keyword (in Boolean or natural language), or browse statute collections.  You cannot print or copy in this free version, but great for on the fly research.

16. LawStack  (Free. The App Store)

LawStack is a portable rules library.  It comes preloaded with the following:

  • US Constitution
  • Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
  • Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure
  • Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure
  • Federal Rules of Evidence
  • Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure

You can buy additional references for a fee, e.g., USC Code.

17. FedCtRecords (Free-temporarily)

Finally– an application that allows you to easily navigate the Federal Court Pacer system on your iPad.   The application allows you to select the court you are interested in from a menu.  All you need is your Pacer ID and either the case name or civil action number.  You can pull up all general Pacer information and filed documents.  Documents can be viewed and emailed from the Application.  This App is easy to use and well designed.

18. Nolo Plain English Law dictionary (Free. The App Store)

Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary defines basic legal terms and Latin phrases.  Excellent resource.

19.  WestlawNext  (Free, but need a WestlawNext account. The App Store)

Access WestlawNext features including, WestSearch™, KeyCite™, Folders, History, document notes and highlighting, browse database content and more — all redesigned for the iPad multi-touch screen.

20.  Feeddler RSS Reader Pro ($4.99 The App Store)

Feeddler is the most popular RSS reader for the iPad.  Feeddler is Google Reader client that stays perfect sync with Google and presents RSS stories in a clean and organized interface.  Great for following your favorite blogs and web sites.

21. DocScanner 5.0  ($4.99.  The App. Store)

With DocScanner, you can turn any document into a PDF by simply snapping a photo. The App can also accurately convert typed documents to text. I have found this “portable copier/scanner” to be very useful.

22.   Skype for iPad (Free. The App Store)

The new iPad App for use with the popular video calling service Skype.  Call, video call, or instant message anyone on Skype for free. Plus, you can purchase Skype Credit enabling you to call landlines and mobiles at really low rates.

23.  Teleprompt+ ($14.99.  The App Store)

Teleprompt+ is a simple yet powerful professional teleprompter for the iPad.  Perfect for use in speeches and presentations where you have a fixed script.  You control the speed of the scrolling.  I love this App but have only had occasion to use it three times in the year I have owned it.

24.    Calvetica  ($  2.99      The App Store)

An alternative calendar program that allows you to easily flip through weeks and months of appointments much more quickly than the default calendar.  Syncs with the built in Calendar.  I use both.

25.  TripIt  (Free,   The App Store)

Allows you to manage and share your travel itineraries.  Upgrade available by subscription that will provide real time flight change, travel advisory and gate information.  However, the free version is very useful.

BONUS

26.  AppShopper  (Free,  The App Store)

Allows you to track the hottest apps and receive alerts regarding price changes on Apps you want to purchase.

_____________

As always, I would like to hear about any lawyer productivity Apps that you find particularly useful.

Enjoy and Be Productive!

Bill Latham, a/k/a The Hytech Lawyer

OneNote Application for iPad Falls Short of Expectations

I have been using the PC version of Microsoft’s OneNote in my law practice for the past five years.  OneNote is a versatile virtual notebook that has allowed me to organize my case files and to minimize the amount of paper that I need to carry as a travel the country in my national litigation practice. See http://hytechlawyer.com/?p=95.   Since I began using the iPad, I have been using the Application MobileNoter to sync my PC OneNote notebooks to the iPad.  MobileNoter will accept embedded files (PDFs, Word documents,  Spreadsheets, video files, etc.) and allow some minimal editing on existing notes, but will not allow the creation of new notes or notebooks.  MobileNoter also allows you to take handwritten notes on existing notebook pages, but you cannot add new pages.

Given the limitations of MobileNoter, I have eagerly awaited the release of the Microsoft OneNote Application.   Now that it is out, I am sorry to say that the application is a disappointment.  I have tested the free version which is limited to 500 notes.  My first issue is that the embedded files do not sync over to the iPad—this drastically limits the usefulness of the App for me.  Also, you cannot create new notebooks but can only add pages to existing notebooks.  Finally, there is no ability to take handwritten notes.

On the positive side, the ability to add new pages is one advantage the OneNote App has over MobileNoter.  Also, the Windows Live sync function seems to work well, although the test was not very strenuous since my extensive embedded files did not sync.  You can also add pictures from your iPad camera roll to existing iPad notebook pages—and they sync over.  This demonstrates that Microsoft could add the embedded file functionality to this application.

When they update this version, Microsoft needs to add at a minimum (1) the ability to add new notebooks, (2) the ability to sync embedded files, and (3) the ability to take handwritten notes on the iPad and sync the notes back to the PC.  Come on Microsoft—you can do better.

 

Advice for Lawyers New to the iPad

Millions of new iPads were given as gifts this holiday season and no doubt a bunch of them went to lawyers who have never used an Apple product before.  This is the one year anniversary of “Hytechlawyer.com.”  Over the past 12 months, we have dispensed much advice and ventured many opinions related to the iPad, some of which may actually be useful to a newly armed iPad lawyer.  Here are a few to get you started:

As always, your questions and comments are welcomed.  Have fun!

Bill Latham a/k/a The Hytech Lawyer

 

New Pacer App Highly Recommended for Lawyers

Finally– an application that allows you to easily navigate the Federal Court Pacer system on your iPad.   The App is FedCtRecords and is available for free (Reg. 19.99) for a limited time at the App store.   The application allows you to select the court you are interested in from a menu.  All you need is your Pacer ID and either the case name or civil action number.  You can pull up all general Pacer information and filed documents.  Documents can be viewed and emailed from the Application.  This App is easy to use and well designed.

This Application is highly recommended and will be added to our Top Applications list.

Ethical Considerations for Lawyers Using Wireless Devices

This Article from Forbes.com examines a California ethics opinion on the efforts that lawyers should take to ensure the security of confidential information when using wireless devices.  Nothing particularly new in the article, but good for basic review.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/benkerschberg/2011/12/12/your-ethical-and-legal-duties-when-using-wireless-networks/