Making Presentations to Groups of iPad Users

A colleague recently indicated that she wanted to make a marketing presentation to a group of bank executives who were all equipped with iPads supplied by their employer. The concept was to use a traditional PowerPoint presentation, but instead of having a large screen displaying the presentation, broadcasting the presentation to each individual executive’s iPad as they sat around a large conference room table. The question was how to do it.

My suggestion was to use the GoToMeeting (GTM) conference service.  GTM offers a free iPad application available at the Apple App Store.  The actual GTM service costs about $40.00 per month, but you can try it free for 30 days to see how well it works for you. The basic service plan allows for 16 users to access the program with both audio and video.  For audio, GTM provides for a call in number, as well as a VOIP capability.   For video, GTM allows the presenter to selectively broadcast whatever is being displayed on their computer screen  (PC or Mac– not iPad), e.g., a PowerPoint presentation.

I find that the GTM iPad App works well for basic PowerPoint and screen shots. However, the video clip and host webcam features that work well for PC attendees, do not display on the iPad.    I suppose that this may have to do with the iPad’s lack of flash capability.   It should also be noted that the GTM iPad app does not have all the functionality that is available to PC attendees of a GTM presentation.   For example, control of the presentation can be transferred from the host to a PC user to make a second presentation and then transferred back to the host, but this control transfer function is not yet available for the iPad.  Also, while an iPad user can view a GMT presentation, they cannot host one. Hopefully, GTM will continue to refine the iPad application to allow it to function more like a PC using the service.

I am a big fan of video-teleconferencing.  The cost savings available from using a service like GTM can be considerable, even if you can replace just one meeting per month that would involve travel for even one person. The monthly fee gives you unlimited meetings, which can be either scheduled in advance or set up on the spur of the moment.

In summary, for presentations to groups of 16 or fewer iPad users, GoToMeeting is a good method for sharing real time what is on your PC or Mac screen, in particular PowerPoint or Keynote presentations.

The Use of Skype for Presentation of Live Witness Hearing Testimony

As most tech savvy persons are aware, Skype provides an internet communications service allowing both video teleconferencing and telephone services via the Internet. http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/welcomeback/  The video teleconference service is generally free.  You can also use the service for VOIP calls for a nominal charge.

I first learned of Skype a couple of years ago when my family and I were invited to a traditional Italian first communion reception.  I was amazed as the Grandmother in Italy was present at the reception via Skype on a laptop with a built-in camera.  Using a WIFI setup, our hosts walked Grandmother around the reception.  It was almost like she was there.  Since then, my own children have used Skype to keep in touch with their grandparents who live in another state.   I have also used Skype to allow one of my partners to make an impromptu “live” pitch for a practice specialty that came up as a need during a marketing meeting with a client.

Last week, I represented a client in an arbitration hearing in which a number of witnesses were outside the jurisdiction and unable to travel.  Early in the case, I had negotiated an agreement with opposing counsel and the arbitrator that witness testimony for the hearing could be presented by video teleconference. At the hearing, we used Skype to present two key witnesses who were located thousands of miles away from the venue. The equipment setup included a PC Laptop and a separate HD USB Camera (Microsoft Lifecam 3000), a high quality computer projector, and a desktop speakerphone (to ensure good sound communications).  We used a hardwired high speed internet connection.

The separate camera was used to allow the camera to be focused on the person doing the questioning without physically moving the computer.  The arbitrator, who had some eyesight issues, had the laptop computer screen placed directly in from of him. Everyone else viewed the projected image of the witness on a screen in the room.  If you try this setup make sure that you turn off the Skype sound from the computer to avoid feedback.  If you want to try and use the Skype audio as well, you will need a couple of amplified computer speakers, as the volume from the PC speakers alone is inadequate.  This does not ensure the witness can hear everything in the room, although the lifecam we used does have a built-in microphone and would probably work fine.  Because this setup was experimental, I elected to use a speakerphone for the sound, both to ensure that everyone could hear, and also as a back-up in the event that we had any technical issues with Skype.

In preparation for the hearing each internet witness loaded Skype on their computer.  This setup was tested from the hearing room. The parties agreed in advance upon the exhibits to be used with each witness and these were sent to the witness in advance of the hearing. A copy of the deposition of the one witness who had been previously deposed was also provided (to allow an impeachment reference).

A robust internet connection is definitely desirable.   Remember that you need a good internet connection on both ends for Skype to work satisfactorily.  The set-up worked almost flawlessly at the hearing, with the exception that there was a buzz on phone line for one witness.  This was rectified by the witness going off speakerphone and using the phone receiver.

Lesson learned– remember to turn off your online notifications.  During one of the witnesses’ testimony, a small notification appeared in the corner of the screen indicating my son was on line. In this case, it was hardly noticed.   Fortunately, my son did not attempt to Skype me during the hearing.

In this particular application, I used a laptop PC.  However, this same setup should work with a Skype equipped iPad2 with an LCD or HDPT adapter.  The main difference would be that, to my knowledge, there is no ability to use a remote camera with the iPad2.  Thus, you would need to move the iPad in front of each questioner– cumbersome, but probably workable.  My goal was to make the technology as invisible as possible, so I went with the laptop.

The Arbitrator, Court Reporter and opposing counsel all remarked that, while they had been skeptical, they were pleasantly surprised how well the setup worked.  Everyone agreed the video/phone combination was preferable to phone alone.

I would be glad to answer any questions you might have regarding the use of Skype in formal hearings.  I would also encourage the sharing of any law technology solutions you think might be of interest to our readers.

iPad for Lawyers is Most Useful as Media Consumption Device

Michael Payne has written an informative article that succinctly answers the question I am most frequently asked by those considering an iPad or other tablet device– “I have a laptop– how will an iPad improve my practice?”

http://www.law.com/jsp/nylj/nylawyer/PubArticleNYL.jsp?id=1202498747191&rss=nylawyer&slreturn=1&hbxlogin=1

Review of DocScanner App for iPad2/iPhone as Lawyer Tool

I have been using the DocScanner App for iPad for several weeks now.  The App allows you to photograph business cards, receipts, and documents and forward them as photographs, PDF copies, or to convert them to text via OCR.   Today, during a meeting that I was hosting via GoToMeeting with five attendees, another attendee in the room with me started discussing a document that he had brought to the meeting.  Within less than 30 seconds, I was able to scan the document and display it to those in the room and those online.   Image quality after scanning  for OCR text conversion is equivalent to a black-and-white copy on a medium grade copier.

In summary, DocScanner is a good choice for scanning on the fly.

More DropBox Security Issues- Lawyers Beware

We have previous cautioned lawyers regarding the dangers of the use of DropBox for the storage of confidential information. http://hytechlawyer.com/?p=345#comment-198′

Now DropBox has reported another security glitch in which in password used would allow access to any file. http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20072755-281/dropbox-confirms-security-glitch-no-password-required/

We reiterate our recommendation of SpiderOak as a more secure alternative to DropBox for lawyers.

SpiderOak Appears to be More Secure Alternative to DropBox for Lawyers

[DISCLOSURE-- I was so impressed with SpiderOak that I have agreed to feature a SpiderOak banner on my blog site.  If you open an account through a link on my site for a free or paid account, I will receive some nominal compensation to help defray the costs of software testing.]

In earlier articles, I have discussed the utility of DropBox to allow shared file access between traditional desktop/laptop computers, Smartphones, iPads and other tablets.  In fact, it was on my top ten apps list. http://hytechlawyer.com/?p=49   However, recent revelations of previously undisclosed security issues with DropBox have caused us to reevaluate its appropriateness for the transmission of confidential information by lawyers. See http://hytechlawyer.com/?p=345

One concern is the revelation that the data transferred and/or stored in DropBox is accessible to DropBox employees despite earlier representations by the company that it was not.  This breach of trust was compounded by modifications to the DropBox Terms of Service to the point that they provide little if any assurance that the confidentiality of the documents transmitted by or stored in DropBox will be maintained sufficient to preserve the attorney client privilege.

 Through my research for a DropBox alternative, I discovered SpiderOak.  SpiderOak combines a suite of services into one consolidated tool – not only does it allow free sharing of files between devices and file storage like DropBox, but it also supports online backup, file synchronization and remote access.   However, most important for my purposes is SpiderOak’s  “zero-knowledge privacy policy” which it represents involves encryption of the data uploaded  with a password that is not accessible to SpiderOak personnel.  In other words, SpiderOak personnel cannot access your data.

 I have found SpiderOak to be easy to install and use, although its greater functionality makes it slightly more complex than DropBox to set-up.  There is a good video on the Web site that walks you through the process.

Like Dropbox, a user can store/transfer up to 2GB of data free, and has the option of purchasing additional storage capacity. The SpiderOak application is free at the App Store and is available for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.  The following link will take you to the SpiderOak web site where more information and down load files for PC and Mac are available: https://spideroak.com/download/promo/hytech

If you give SpiderOak a try, let me know what you think about it. Bottom-line: In my opinion, it provides more functionality and more security than DropBox, and therefore is a better choice of lawyers.

Hytech Lawyer Updates Recommendation as to Best Application for Taking Handwritten Notes on iPad

As will be discussed in my next blog post, my goal is to move toward an always accessible electronic litigation file and a virtually paperless office.   However, the reality is that I still find the need to take old fashioned handwritten notes in depositions, meetings, interviews and fact finding situations.  While in theory I could take notes on my laptop, I find that taking handwritten notes is less distracting than typing and creates less of a barrier between myself and the person(s) with whom I am interacting.  Unfortunately, use of the traditional yellow legal pad tends to result in banker’s boxes full of half used pads that are relatively inaccessible, unorganized, unsearchable, and therefore relatively useless. 

For iPad users, an alternative to the yellow lgal pad is the use one of the many note taking applications on the market that allow the creation and storage of electronic notes.    I have spent much time hands on time with the top selling programs to determine which of the hand note-taking applications fit best in my practice.  I have used the following note-taking applications:  Note Taker HD, Notes Plus, UPAD, PaperDesk, PhatPad and of course, Penultimate, the previous Hytech Lawyer recommended application.

Penultimate is now our clear # 2 choice.  Our new top choice is  UPAD (App Store $4.99).  Having used the application regularly for the past two months, I have found UPAD to be the most user friendly and intuitive of the tablet handwriting note taking programs.  It has many paper choices, allows creation of multiple folders, the addition of typewritten text (to allow searching) and permits sharing of files via printing or email as a PDF.  There is currently no direct Dropbox integration (I am sure this must be in the works), but you can use Dropbox indirectly by opening PDF notes with Goodreader and then accessing Dropbox.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I refer you to the attached application review by Julia Altermann that does a great job discussing UPAD’s many features and why it is the best of the field:

http://ipad.appstorm.net/reviews/productivity/the-future-of-handwriting-upad-34/

Use of Dropbox by Lawyers is Risky Business—Ethical Issue

Over the past month, there has been much discussion regarding possible vulnerablities in Dropbox security that might make the service unsuitable for use by attorneys and others required to protect the confidentiality of data.  Reportedly, these issues have been addressed by a software fix.  See  http://hytechlawyer.com/?p=339   However, for lawyers a more fundamental inquiry is required.  Daily, we use the internet, email, telephone, cloud document repositories, copy services, etc., to process, repackage, transfer and/or store data and client files.  We do this confident in the fact that the third parties to whom we have entrusted this data have, by legal agreement, bound themselves to maintain the confidentiality of the data entrusted to them in a manner sufficient to meet our ethical obligations to protect client confidences.    Those of us in large firms have traditionally relied upon our IT professionals, technology committee members, ethics committee, and/or the firm general counsel to ensure that the agreements with our vendors contained adequate provisions for the protection of confidential data.

The IT world has changed.  We are now in a new age of mobile devices such as the tablet computer (iPad, Xoom, Tab, Playbook, etc.) and the smartphone, which promise not only  significant advantages in efficiency and mobility, but also massive security headaches.   The reality is that many lawyers are using these devices for both work and personal use, with little thought being given to security issues.  Applications abound to make these mobile devices more functional for legal work and more fun for personal use.   Typically, these applications are downloaded and used by the individual lawyer, with no oversight or due diligence by those responsible for the firm’s IT security.  New applications are introduced every day, making it impossible for overworked IT departments to vet applications, much less create an approved list.  The popular file transfer and storage program/site Dropbox (over 25 million users) is just one of many examples of useful applications that pose fundamental security concerns for lawyers. 

Previously, I recommended Dropbox as a “must have” application for the iPad lawyer, because it provided a means of easy data transfer from a desktop to the iPad or other mobile device.   In my first post on the subject, I examined Dropbox’s representations as to its security policy.  http://hytechlawyer.com/?p=49  Dropbox formerly represented that data uploaded to its site was encrypted in such a manner that even Dropbox personnel could not decrypt the data.  In other words, nobody had access to the uploaded data.  In April, however,  Dropbox “dropped” the bombshell that their staff did maintain keys and could decrypt the data transmitted to Dropbox.  Further, Dropbox’s newly modified Terms of Service now allow for the disclosure of this decrypted data to third-parties for a variety of reasons beyond the traditional compulsion by legal process—for example, to protect Dropbox’s “property rights.”  Further, Dropbox disclaims all responsibility for maintaining the confidentiality of user data and urges those concerned about security to separately encrypt any data uploaded.

Pertinent parts of the Dropbox Terms of Service, Privacy Policy and Security Policy are set forth below with links and comments:

 

FROM THE DROP BOX TERMS OF SERVICE

https://www.dropbox.com/terms

“Your Responsibilities

You acknowledge and agree that you should not rely on the Site, Content, Files and Services for any reason. You further acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for maintaining and protecting all data and information that is stored, retrieved or otherwise processed by the Site, Content, Files or Services. Without limiting the foregoing, you will be responsible for all costs and expenses that you or others may incur with respect to backing up, and restoring and/or recreating any data and information that is lost or corrupted as a result of your use of the Site, Content, Files and/or Services.”

[Comment—If you cannot rely upon Dropbox to protect the confidentiality of your client's data is it reasonable to entrust this data to Dropbox]

Account Security 

You are responsible for safeguarding the password that you use to access the Site, Content, Files and Services. You agree not to disclose your password to any third party. You agree to take sole responsibility for any activities or actions under your password, whether or not you have authorized such activities or actions. You will immediately notify Dropbox of any unauthorized use of your password. You acknowledge that if you wish to protect your transmission of data and/or files to Dropbox, it is your responsibility to use a secure encrypted connection to communicate with and/or utilize the Site, Files and Services.”

 [Comment:  The takeaway here is that unless the lawyer encrypts his or her data before placing it in Dropbox, the company provides no assurance that the date will be maintained as confidential] 

Use of the Site at Your Own Risk

Your access to and use of the Site, Content, Files and Services and is at your own risk. Dropbox will have no responsibility for any harm to your computer system, loss or corruption of data, or other harm that results from your access to or use of the Site, Content, Files or Services. ”

[Comment—  not much comfort here]

Limitation of Liability

IN NO EVENT WILL DROPBOX BE LIABLE TO YOU OR TO ANY THIRD PARTY FOR DAMAGES OF ANY KIND, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, DIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING LOSS OF USE, DATA, BUSINESS OR PROFITS) ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THIS AGREEMENT, OR FROM YOUR ACCESS TO OR USE OF, OR INABILITY TO ACCESS OR USE, THE SITE, CONTENT, FILES AND/OR SERVICES, OR FOR ANY ERROR OR DEFECT IN THE SITE, CONTENT, FILES OR SERVICES, WHETHER SUCH LIABILITY ARISES FROM ANY CLAIM BASED UPON CONTRACT, WARRANTY, TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE), STRICT LIABILITY OR OTHERWISE, OR ANY OTHER LEGAL THEORY, WHETHER OR NOT DROPBOX HAS BEEN INFORMED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE, EVEN IF A REMEDY SET FORTH HEREIN IS FOUND TO HAVE FAILED OF ITS ESSENTIAL PURPOSE. YOU SPECIFICALLY ACKNOWLEDGE THAT DROPBOX IS NOT LIABLE FOR THE DEFAMATORY, OFFENSIVE OR ILLEGAL CONDUCT OF OTHER USERS OR THIRD PARTIES AND THAT THE RISK OF INJURY FROM THE FOREGOING RESTS ENTIRELY WITH YOU. FURTHER, DROPBOX WILL HAVE NO LIABILITY TO YOU OR TO ANY THIRD PARTY FOR ANY THIRD PARTY CONTENT UPLOADED ONTO OR DOWNLOADED FROM THE SITE OR THROUGH THE SERVICES AND/OR THE FILES, OR IF YOUR DATA IS LOST, CORRUPTED OR EXPOSED TO UNINTENDED THIRD PARTIES.”

[Comment:  Dropbox users waive all liability related to access of data by unitneded third-parties.]

FROM THE DROPBOX PRIVACY POLICY 

https://www.dropbox.com/terms#privacy

Compliance with Laws and Law Enforcement Requests; Protection of Dropbox’s Rights.

We may disclose to parties outside Dropbox  files stored in your Dropbox and information about you that we collect when we have a good faith belief that disclosure is reasonably necessary to (a) comply with a law, regulation or compulsory legal request; (b) protect the safety of any person from death or serious bodily injury; (c) prevent fraud or abuse of Dropbox or its users; or (d) to protect Dropbox’s property rights. If we provide your Dropbox files to a law enforcement agency as set forth above, we will remove Dropbox’s encryption from the files before providing them to law enforcement. However, Dropbox will not be able to decrypt any files that you encrypted prior to storing them on Dropbox.”

[Comment:  "To protect Dropbox's property rights."   What does that mean?  In my opinion this is a loophole big enough to drive a truck through, i.e., Dropbox reserves the right to disclose confidential data to third-parties pretty much whenever it determines that it is in Dropbox's best interest to do so.].

FROM THE DROPBOX SECURITY POLICY: 

https://www.dropbox.com/terms#security

“Privacy

A copy of our full privacy policy can be found at: https://www.dropbox.com/privacy

We understand and guard your privacy to the best of our ability. We do our utmost to protect your information from unauthorized access.

Dropbox employees are prohibited from viewing the content of files you store in your Dropbox account, and are only permitted to view file metadata (file names and locations). Like most online services, we have a small number of employees who must be able to access user data for the reasons stated in our privacy policy (e.g., when legally required to do so). But that’s the rare exception, not the rule. We have strict policy and technical access controls that prohibit employee access except in these rare circumstances. In addition, we employ a number of physical and electronic security measures to protect user information from unauthorized access.”

[Comment:  This is more like the language I want to see in a third-party agreement.  However, when read in conjunction with the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, it provides cold comfort that confidential client data will be adequately protected.]

Compliance with Laws and Law Enforcement

As set forth in our privacy policy, and in compliance with United States law, Dropbox cooperates with United States law enforcement when it receives valid legal process, which may require Dropbox to provide the contents of your private Dropbox. In these cases, Dropbox will remove Dropbox’s encryption from the files before providing them to law enforcement.”

[Comment:  Dropbox has indicated that while it will remove its own encryption when producing data for law enforcement, it will not remove encryption installed by the user.  Lesson—If you are going to use Dropbox, encrypt your data]

How to Add Your Own Layer of Encryption to Dropbox

Dropbox does not discriminate between the types of files stored in your Dropbox nor the applications used to open those files. This means you can use your own software encryption methods, such as third-party encryption software, to keep your files secure on your terms.”

[Comment:  Dropbox encourages the use of additional encryption. 

CONCLUSIONS

Dropbox has two main functions: (1) the transfer of data/files between device and computers and (2) the storage of data.  If Dropbox is used only to transfer files between devices, and the file once transferred is promptly deleted from Dropbox, the risk to client confidentiality would appear to be small, but nonetheless present.  However, if Dropbox is used as a storage location for client files, then unless the files are separately encrypted, the Terms of Service and related policies of Dropbox do not provide adequate assurances of confidentially to give this lawyer confidence that they pass ethical muster.