Hytech Lawyer Recommended Professional Desktop Microphone for use with Dragon Naturally Speaking 12 (Video Demo)

I have used Dragon Dictation in my legal practice for over 10 years.  Dragon converts dictation to type in real time.  Year by year the program has been improved by its developer Nuance to the point that its accuracy is in the high 90% range–if used properly.  Nuance is no casual player in the voice recognition field, and its software powers many of the voice recognition applications we encounter in everyday life.

One thing that has held true over the past ten years is that the quality of the microphone used with Dragon Dictation directly correlates with the transcription accuracy of the program.  For this reason, I have tried all manner of microphones and headsets to find the perfect fit.  Now I have found that microphone – and it’s a stylish one too.

Yeti

 

The Yeti series from Blue brand microphones is big, heavy, and beautiful.  It is styled like those microphones used by professional radio personalities and studio singers.  Not only does the whole series of microphones look really neat, the sound quality is wonderful.  I purchased the Silver Edition of the Yeti microphone which cost me $89 (on sale regularly $149) at Amazon.com.

Seeing and hearing is believing.  So I recorded a short video demo showing the microphone, and demonstrating the sound quality and the accuracy of dictation using it with Dragon Naturally Speaking 12.  Features of the Yeti include:

*     Tri-capsule array – 3 condenser capsules can record almost any situation

*     Multiple sound pattern selection – cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional and stereo

*     Gain control, mute button, zero-latency headphone output

*     Perfect for vocals, musical instruments, podcasting, voiceovers, interviews, field recordings, conference calls and Dragon Dictation

*     USB Plug ‘n play – Mac and PC compatible

This is one of my favorite tech toys of the past year—and that is saying something.  Highly Recommended!

Some of the Best of Hytech Lawyer- Readers’ Choice

Boat-sun.jpgAs Summer winds down we present ten (in no particular order) of the most viewed posts from the last three years of hytech lawyer:

1.     The Lawyer’s Toolbox: How to Make a Wireless Presentation with an iPad using Apple TV (HDMI) with a VGA Projector, Monitor, or Smartboard

 

2.   The Lawyer’s Toolbox:  How to Convert PowerPoint Presentations to Keynote and Transfer to the iPad (Video)

3.   The Hytech Lawyer Recommends Thirty-One Great Apps for Lawyers – SUMMER 2013

4.   The Lawyer’s Tool Box: Video Demo of Dragon Naturally Speaking 12 (with Service Pack 12.5) made with Camtasia Studio 8

5.   Avoid Legal Malpractice— How to Select a Reasonably Secure Password

6.   Lawyer Ethics- Is Your Head in the Cloud?– The Ethical Implications of Using Dropbox and Other Cloud Services

7.   Litigation War Stories– Using the iPad and TrialPad in a High Stakes Class Certification Hearing

8.   Presenting Witnesses via iPad, Skype and Facetime—Video

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

10. iPad Tips and Tricks Useful to Lawyers

Bonus:

REAL WORLD USE OF THE IPAD IN HIGH STAKES LITIGATION

Is there a topic you would like to see us cover?– send your ideas to bill@hytechlawyer.com.

The Hytech Lawyer Review and Video Demo of Leap Motion Controller

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For those of you who read my blog regularly, you know I’ve been anxiously awaiting the Leap Motion Controller (“Leap”). The promise of the Leap is the ability to control your computer by simply moving your hands, without touching a mouse or the screen itself– like Tom Cruise did in 2001 movie “The Minority Report.” I had visions of waving my hands in court during a presentation and making magic occur for the judge and jury– I’m still waiting.

As you will see from my video review, the Leap is in fact quite amazing. However, that does not yet translate into the Leap being a practical tool for use by lawyers in their work. For now, it is simply much more efficient to control your computer using a mouse or touch screen than using the Leap and currently available software. No doubt that will change as clever developers and the Leap Team continue to refine what is now still a beta quality device.

The Lawyer’s Toolbox: One Hand iPad Presenter’s Case (with video)

Grabbit

When using the iPad for presentation purposes, if appropriate, I like to walk around the room presenting my slides and any other media wirelessly using Apple TV or the Reflector App.  The challenge is that the iPad takes two hands to hold and operate. One solution is my favorite presentation case.  It is from  New Trent and called the “Grabbit.” The price is  $34.95 from Amazon, which is about 1/2 the original retail price.

 

I have prepared a video demonstrating the case and its functionality.  The case works with iPad generations 2, 3 and 4.  RECOMMENDED.

The Lawyer’s Toolbox: How to Make a Wireless Presentation with an iPad using Apple TV (HDMI) with a VGA Projector, Monitor, or Smartboard

I am frequently asked how to make a wireless presentation over Wi-Fi using the iPad and the Apple TV (HDMI output), when the projector, monitor, or SmartBoard display to be used has only an “old” style VGA input:

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To do this, an HDMI digital to VGA analog converter is required [just using adapters without an electronic converter will not work]. There are a number of converters available on the market. The Linksys system that I use has been discontinued.

 

The alternative I now recommend is the Kanex ATVPRO  ($43.00 Amazon).  A third-party video review and demonstration of the Kanex converter can be found at This Link.

HDMI VGA CONVERTER

This converter has received good reviews and is sold by Apple in  its own stores for $16.00 more.

 

 

 

 

Set-Up Steps:

1.  Plug VGA cable into projector and turn projector on.

2. Plug other end of VGA cable into Converter box.  If you are going to be using audio, plug mini plug audio cable into converter and the other end into speaker input.

3. Plug HDMI Cable from converter into Apple TV. Turn on Apple TV.  Connect Apple TV to Wi-Fi Network

4.  Turn on iPad.  Select the same Wi-Fi network as you set for Apple TV

5.  Push the iPad Home button twice– slide over to volume control where you should see the “Mirror” symbol. Turn Mirror “on” and your iPad should be Mirrored on the Projector.

 

photoHelpful Hints:

  • Test the setup on your home Wi-Fi system before relying upon it in public.
  • Many computer monitors still have VGA inputs and you can use one to simulate a VGA projector for test purposes.
  • Keep in mind, that for the wireless system to work, the Apple TV and the iPad must be on the same Wi-Fi network .
  • Many networks have security features that will block the Airplay functionality of the Apple TV. To work around this, I always bring my own Wi-Fi to presentations- either using the hotspot on my iPhone or my MiFi card as the Wi-Fi source for the iPad and Apple TV.  This way, I know the setup works and there are no surprises.

If you have questions regarding using the iPad for presentations, please comment publicly below , or send me an email at bill@hytechlawyer.com.   If your question is of general interest I may answer in a post, or if not will try to respond individually .

The Hytech Lawyer and Kids Have Fun with Green Screen Effects on iPad

IMG_1475 Lest you think that being the Hytech Lawyer means all work and no play, here is a little window into the recreational part of my world.  In this video, my “hytech” kids and I play around with the green screen functionality of a neat iPad app named VideoFX Live.  Green screen technology also known as Chromakey, is how your local TV weather person appears to stand in front of a moving weather map, when in actuality, he or she is standing in front of a solid green screen. The green (and just the green) is replaced electronically with another image, such as a weather map or anything else you can imagine.  When used with a good quality green screen, the VideoFX Live green screen app on the iPad gives results close to professional grade. The creative possibilities are endless and can make the production of a family video an entertaining and interactive family activity.

The green screen effects are just a few of the many available for this app. The basic App is free, but the really cool effects require an in app purchase.  We spent about $12 to buy all the effects that looked interesting.

We also purchased a large green screen (10 x 7) with stands for about $ 90.00.  The assembled unit is huge, but packs away nicely.  Other green colored material can work, but having a good screen makes a big difference.

We would love to hear about your favorite fun apps—leave a comment below if you are so inclined.

Technology Blunders by Lawyers in Zimmerman Trial Limit Effectiveness of Prosecution

If you have followed the second degree murder trial of George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin, you may have seen the two major technological blunders made by the prosecution.  These two incidents involving Twitter and Skype, are prime examples of why the ABA was correct in revising the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to require that attorneys keep current on new technology.

In the first incident, the prosecution attempted to show that it’s own witness Jenna Lauer was biased in favor of Zimmerman by trying to get Lauer to admit on the stand that she “followed”  Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman, Jr., on Twitter.    [For those not familiar with Twitter, if you follow someone, you  receive their messages posted on Twitter].  Lauer placed the 911 call on which screams for help could be heard.  In response to the prosecutor’s questioning, Lauer claimed she did not understand how Twitter works and denied following Zimmerman–  which it appears now was not true. See http://blog.x1discovery.com/2013/06/28/zimmerman-trial-counsel-botches-social-media-evidence-on-national-tv/

Viewing the prosecutor’s examination, the one thing that was abundantly clear was neither witness, nor the prosecutor had a good understanding of how Twitter works.   Perhaps the witness can be excused for this ignorance, however, the prosecutor cannot.   The result was this line of questioning, which had the potential to show real bias and call into question witness credibility, had to be abandoned by the prosecutor because he had not done his homework and could not conduct an effective cross-examination on a social media technology he did not understand.

The second prosecution technological fiasco was the attempt to present a witness via Skype. Skype is a video teleconference service.  As reported by Vishal Persaud with Washington NBC affiliate channel 4:

“Scott Pleasants, a criminal justice professor at Seminole State College had been called to testify about Zimmerman taking an online criminal justice course in 2011. About one minute into Pleasants’ testimony, delivered from Colorado, an onslaught of incoming Skype calls began to pop-up on the television screen in the courtroom, which interfered with the testimony.

Apparently, Pleasants’ Skype username was visible on the television screen in the Sanford, Fla., courtroom, as well as to everyone watching the trial across the country, prompting the slew of prank Skype phone calls accompanied by the service’s trademark “ping” sounds.

Towards the end of the prosecutor’s examination, the calls had become so numerous that the judge had to intervene and order Pleasants to end the Skype call.”  http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/national-international/Skype-George-Zimmerman-Murder-Trial-Trayvon-Martin-Juror-Jury-214187041.html

I have written about Skype for the presentation of witnesses and the problem of pop-ups. Had someone in the courtroom been familiar with Skype, the program settings could have been adjusted to prevent access by the pranksters.

See Below [limit IM messages to contacts]:

Skype Popup options

 

Because the prosecutor and/or his staff did not know how to properly use Skype in this situation, the impact of this witness’ testimony was diminished.  The lesson— know your presentation technology and try it out before using it in a nationally televised murder trial.

Recognizing the importance of attorneys staying technologically current, in August of 2012, the ABA’s House of Delegates voted to amend the comment to Model Rule of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.1.   The Rule itself remains unchanged and states: “A lawyer shall provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.”

The revised comments to the rule, which are to be used to interpret and provide guidance for construction of the Rule, add the following italicized language: “To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.”  While the ABA Model Rules are not themselves binding on lawyers, they serve as a model for ethics rules in most jurisdictions.

So the lesson here for lawyers young and not so young–  take the time to familiarize yourself with the lastest technology– especially before attempting to use it at a nationally televised trial.

 

The Lawyer’s Toolbox: How to Convert PowerPoint Presentations to Keynote and Transfer to the iPad (Video)

Keynote imageKeynote  ($9.99 The App Store) for the iPad is a powerful presentation App created by Apple and similar to Microsoft’s PowerPoint.  I use both Keynote and PowerPoint frequently for meetings and general presentations and prefer Keynote becasue of its graphic look and effects.  However, many iPad Lawyer’s do not have a sufficient comfort level with Keynote to use it to create presentations and/or have extensive libraries of PowerPoint presentations that need conversion to Keynote for the iPad.  In the attached video, I demonstrate how to convert a PC PowerPoint presentation to Keynote for use on the iPad, as well as how to transfer the presentation to the iPad via email, SpiderOak Hive and Dropbox.   I also demonstrate the creation of basic slides, graphs and effects:  VIDEO

If you have questions, please leave them as comments and we (myself and my network of experts) will do our best to answer them.

Responding to a Data Breach— Best to Have Your Plan in the Can

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAReports that there has been yet another data breach or malicious hacking attack targeting the personal and financial information of thousands or even millions of consumers have become so common they barely constitute news.  For most companies and yes, law firms, the question is not if a significant data breach or hacking attack is in their future, but instead when.   Is your company or law firm ready?

In an informative article in Law Technology News entitled, What to do about high data breach costs, Judy Selby writes about the importance of being proactive to minimize the risk of a serious security breach in the first place, and to mitigate the damages if a breach should occur.  Among her suggestions are an annual review by a data security and policy compliance consultant (If a recommendation is needed let me know), developing a comprehensive incident response plan, employee education and working with vendors to ensure they are complying with company data security policies and the law.  This is the best practice and what we recommend to our clients; however, a recent study indicates that many companies are woefully unprepared or underprepared to respond to a significant data breach.   See Is Your Company Ready for a Big Data Breach?

Assume for the sake of argument your company has not been proactive and does not have a comprehensive data breach response plan in place. Further suppose an employee [or perish the thought an attorney] leaves a laptop containing personal identifying (names, birth dates, social security numbers) and credit card information of thousands of company customers on an airplane.  The computer cannot be located, and the presumption is the confidential data is in jeopardy.  You are the General Counsel for the company. What now?

Upon learning of a potential breach, inside counsel in this situation should stop kicking themselves for not being proactive, take a deep breath—and then promptly make a call to retain outside counsel knowledgeable in responding to data breach emergencies.  It is important the counsel (“breach counsel”) retained be able to drop everything and respond to the emergency promptly. Ideally the breach investigation will be conducted by breach counsel and subject to the attorney-client privilege.  Under these circumstances, breach counsel should come into the engagement with an outline of an action plan ready to be implemented by the company, subject to adjustments based upon the actual reality on the ground.  The first order of business is to close the leak and to secure any data that has not yet been compromised.   Breach counsel will need to be able to “talk the talk” with IT personnel.   An immediate investigation should be commenced to determine the cause and extent of the breach, the nature of the data compromised, and whether there are indications the data is likely to be used in a criminal or unauthorized manner in the short term.   In many cases, computer forensics specialists should be retained to assess the damage.  The complete investigation should be thoroughly documented in writing, noting the details of the breach including when it occurred, when it was discovered, etc..   Again, in our view this investigation should be conducted by breach counsel to maintain the privilege.

There are a myriad of complex legal issues that arise when a data breach has occurred.   Besides the requirements of federal law if applicable,  e.g., those pertaining to medical information under HIPPA and the HITECH Act, forty-six states have enacted their own data breach notification laws requiring consumer notification when there is a data breach involving personal information such as names coupled with social security numbers, birth dates, financial information, etc..   The terms of these laws vary, and are often inconsistent or even contradictory.  See Interactive Map of State Data Breach Data Breach Notification Statutes, resources and related information.  In many states, safeguards such as encryption and/or the partial redaction of the exposed data may limit state law statutory exposure and avoid notification requirements.  Not so in other states.  Since customer notification requirements vary significantly between states, most clients with a national customer base will need experienced legal assistance if they are to adequately assess and meet their compliance requirements.  Failure to meet the state reporting requirements and deadlines can result not only in civil liability, but in some cases significant per record fines and assessments.

As one of the first orders of business. breach counsel is likely to advise the client to put together an emergency response team including key executive decision-makers, in-house counsel, IT/security managers, customer relations executives and potentially public relations personnel, among others.  The point is to have all the key players and decisions makers involved and informed.  Depending upon circumstances, law enforcement personnel may also need to be brought in, and regulators may need to be notified.  All of this activity should be pursued with a sense of urgency, as many states require consumer notification in the most “expedient time possible without unreasonable delay.”  See e.g.,  S.C. Code Ann. § 39-1-90 (“The disclosure must be made in the most expedient time possible without unreasonable delay….”).

If counsel determines that a significant data breach requiring reporting has occurred, he or she may also recommend the engagement of one of the major credit reporting services that has extensive experience in credit report monitoring in data breach situations.   Offering customers credit monitoring services is expensive, but often eliminates or significantly mitigates significantly greater liability exposure going forward.  See e.g., Hammond v. The Bank of New York Mellon Corp., No. 08-Civ-6060, 2010 WL 2643307, at *7 (S.D.N.Y. June 25, 2010) (claims stemming from accidental loss of back-up computer tapes containing personal information, no allegations of loss or actual damages—two years of credit monitoring service provided by bank precluded a claim for monitoring services).  These companies also typically offer notification administrative, call center and related services.

In summary, there is much to do in responding to a data breach event.  The response requires quick and decisive action under pressure– not the ideal time to be learning the rules of the road or setting up a response team.   As in most things in life, the more thought given to a response plan in advance the fewer mistakes will be made when the storm hits.  Don’t wait until a breach occurs—prepare today!

Bill Latham  a/k/a the  hytech lawyer ( bill@hytechlawyer.com )