Officials Push For Action In ‘Online Privacy War’

American Civil Liberties Union

Image via Wikipedia

Found on Huffington Post:

By Bianca Boster (3/6/11)

Top senators and members of the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday criticized the current state of Internet privacy regulations and pushed for legislation that would give consumers more control over their personal information online.

“We can’t let the status quo stand,” said Commerce Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.), who plans to introduce a privacy bill of his own.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, noted in a statement that self-regulation by the private sector has been a “failed experiment,” allowing users to become increasingly exposed as new, more advanced tools collect ever-more-personal details over the web.

During a Senate hearing on online privacy, Rockefeller described consumers as being at “war” with companies over control of their information and stressed that Congress must intervene to protect their privacy.

“There is an online privacy war going on, and without help, consumers will lose,” he said in a statement. “We must act to give Americans the basic online privacy protections they deserve.”

The most concrete mechanism for improving privacy safeguards discussed during the hearing was a “do not track” system that would allow users to opt out of receiving targeted advertising based on their browsing history. The FTC previously endorsed such a plan in a privacy report issued in December of last year.

Though Rockefeller and other lawmakers have deemed self-regulation inadequate, FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz noted that companies such as Microsoft and Mozilla stepped up their efforts to introduce privacy tools following the committee’s hearings last summer.

“We are encouraged by what we are seeing,” said Leibowitz. “The pace of moving forward has become far more rapid … It is promising.”

Some are less optimistic. Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, outlined a privacy doomsday scenario that he warned could come to pass if existing online tracking practices are allowed to proceed without regulation.

“If this collection of data is allowed to continue unchecked, then capitalism will build what the government never could — a complete surveillance state online,” Calabrase said in a statement. “Without government intervention, we may soon find the Internet has been transformed from a library and playground to a fishbowl, and that we have unwittingly ceded core values of privacy and autonomy.”

Kerry pressed Calabrase on his testimony and suggested that although current practices pose real risks to users’ personal information, the outcome presented by Calabrese may overstate the potential danger of Internet tracking.

“That’s a far reach,” Kerry said. “That’s a big statement obviously about potential downsides.”

Leibowitz also highlighted that there can be benefits to targeted advertising that uses online tracking to present users with ads that are more relevant to their interests.

“We think most consumers won’t mind getting tracked, we just think consumers should have the ability to opt out of that kind of tracking,” he said.

MILO Celebrates 4th Anniversary & 2850 Members

This is an article from TheMacLawyer, Ben Stevens:

“The Macs In Law Offices (MILO) forum recently (and quietly) celebrated its fourth anniversary.  Since its inception on February 17, 2007, it has grown to become the premier online forum for attorneys who want to maximize the use of Macs in their law practices.  Today, I am proud to say that MILO has over 2,850 members, with more joining every day.  If you are not yet a member, you can take advantage of this free resource by clicking HERE.”

You can see his great blog post on Mac use in the law office at:

http://www.themaclawyer.com/articles/mac-vs-pc/

His site is definitely one of the better sites dedicated to how technology affects the legal environment.  As always, he provides useful and timely information.

Apple iPad 2 hands-on: Predictable, awesome (CNet.com)

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

From Donald Bell at CNet.com :

What does the world’s most successful tablet computer
do for an encore? More of the same.

The second-generation iPad from Apple is thinner, faster, lighter, and
whiter, but not a radical departure from the original. Pricing is also holding
steady, starting at $499 for a 16GB Wi-Fi-only model, up to 64GB with 3G
(provided by AT&T or Verizon without contract) priced at $829.

You can’t blame Apple for going easy on new features. Apple’s original recipe
for the iPad single-handedly created and captured the demand for tablets last
year. By any measure, it is not a product in need of fixing. It has the market
share, it has the developers, and it has the momentum.

Apple also just makes damn fine products. Having had a few minutes with the
iPad 2, I can say that it is every bit as stunning as the original. The first
thing that struck me was the iPad’s weight loss. It’s still not Kindle thin, but
the lighter design should make the e-book crowd happier and prove to be a
distinct advantage over bulkier competitors, including the recent Motorola
Xoom
.

The second thing that registered with me is the feel of the device. Apple
still uses anodized aluminum on the back, which is cool to the touch and
generally resists smudges. The back now flattens out at the middle, allowing it
to better stay put when placed on a table. In spite of the iPad’s thickness
decreasing by a third, it seemed no more fragile than the original design. In
fact, with its lighter weight, it feels less susceptible to being dropped.

I also tried out Apple’s new magnetic Smart Cover. It’s cute and it works as
advertised. From a case perspective, though, it’s a G-string in a world of
coveralls. The tough part of selling these will be convincing customers that the
back of the iPad is resilient enough to resist normal wear and tear.

Of course, the banner feature for the iPad 2 is the addition of two cameras,
which can be used for recording video or stills. The camera on the back is
located in the upper-right corner, recessed onto the tapered edge to avoid
scratching. It looks just like the lens on the iPhone 4
and is similarly blessed with 720p video capture. There’s no camera flash,
and the sensor is not identical to the iPhone’s, since its still-shot
capabilities are essentially video stills (similar to the fourth-gen iPod
Touch). That said, having tested the cameras on more than a few competing
tablets over the past year, I can’t stress how ridiculous you feel shooting
pictures with a tablet in public. Talk about overkill.

[ Continued . . . ].

Read more: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-31747_7-20038436-243.html#ixzz1FW6xD900

Time Master: A Fantastic Billing App for Ipad and Iphone (Version 3.8)

Time Master ( Version 3.8)

Time Master by On-Core

This is absolutely one of my favorite apps as a lawyer.  It is relatively easy to use, creates usable reports, allows for backup and synchronization, and is a whole heck of a lot cheaper than Timeslips or other similar apps/programs.  The best part is that it allows you to do quick billing while you are out and about.  Recently, they improved the user interface, avatar, and general appearance.  The only criticism that I have is that you cannot really just input a .1 or whatever.  It keeps track of your time in session format, which is not always convenient for entry.

I give this new version a 9.8 out of 10. I strongly recommend that you check this app out, especially if you are a solo practitioner.

Here is what the developer’s site says about the app:

“On-Core Time Master is the ultimate time tracking app for your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

The best, most powerful, comprehensive, easy to use time keeping app on the Apple Store is now even better. Time Master has the highest average rating of all the time management apps. And the other apps don’t come close to our new optional billing module. Our invoices are totally professional.

Our biggest fans are consultants, attorneys and contractors. Time Master is used by individuals working independently, to attorneys from some of the biggest law firms in the USA. If you need to keep track of time and expenses, you can’t find a better app than Time Master. We at On-Core are IT professionals, so we have firsthand experience with billing and keeping track of time. We know from personal experience what is needed and have made this app so flexible, it works for virtually anyone in any industry in which time needs to be kept.

Are you losing money due to poor record keeping?  Did you forget to log the time you spent on a small task and not bill for it last month? On-Core Time Master simplifies the process by having an app handy on your iPhone or iPod Touch, ready at all times, for you to track your time. You can quickly start tracking time with a few taps on the screen. Those little minutes add up every month and this application will easily pay for itself in one month! We think that you will find Time Master the ultimate time tracking application, with its superior ease of use, for your iPhone or iPod Touch.

We looked at all the other time keeping applications out there for the iPhone and iPod Touch, but did not find anything that quite fit what we needed, or had the flexibility we wanted. We also reviewed what people were saying they needed in a time keeping application. We’ve worked very hard to make Time Master the most flexible and powerful time tracking application in the App Store.

Features:

  • Track time by start time, stop time and/or by duration.
  • Session option can track “punch-in & out” for a single time entry.
  • Single or multiple running timers.
  • Support for daily Overtime / Doubletime.
  • Timers keep running even if you are not running the app.
  • Time Entries are by Client and can be sub-categorized by Project and even Tasks for a project. Note: sub-categories are optional and not required.
  • Powerful billing rates that can be defined in the following priority: Global, by Client, by Project, by Task or Custom for a single entry.
  • Powerful time Rounding by hour, minutes and/or seconds. Time can be rounded by: None (no rounding), Round Up, Round Nearest or Round Down. Can be Global or per Client.
  • Multiple Filters to sort by: Day, Week or Month. By Client, Project, Task, Expenditure, Reported and Invoice Status (with optional Invoice module).
  • Define the day of the week that your work week starts.
  • Track Expenses – from Mileage to Meals to Burning CD’s and anything else you want to define.
  • Track Cost vs. Price in expenses.
  • Display Reports right on your device that you can view and email in HTML and/or CSV format. By Client or Timesheet.
  • Is Time Zone aware.
  • Copy Client information from your Contacts list.
  • Currency symbol is automatically set by your Country locale.
  • Dual taxes for countries such as Canada. Second tax may be applied as Separate or Cumulative.
  • Import Clients, Projects, Tasks and Expenditure lists from CSV files using our templates. Works on the iPad now and iPhone/iPod’s when updated to OS 4 when it becomes available (due out this summer according to Apple). See Importing data from a CSV file
  • Save PDF invoices to your iTunes “Documents” folder.
  • Backup and Restore option using our free Time Master Central app via Wi-Fi.
  • Backup and Restore option using the iTunes Documents folder via USB cable.
  • Backup and Restore option using the secure online Dropbox service via the internet.
  • Currency support for the Invoice module. Set the currency in an invoice to other than your current setting and get the exchange rate from Yahoo.
  • TextExpander integration (see below).
  • Option to set audible reminder notifications for devices running iOS 4.0 or greater for running timers.
  • AirPrint enabled. Print reports or invoiced to an AirPrint supported printer.

Download our free Time Master Central app for your Mac or PC to:

  • Backup and Restore your database from local Wi-Fi connection.

OPTIONAL MODULES (one-time additional fee required as an “In App Purchase”):

  • Invoicing: If you want to do billing directly from your iPhone or iPod Touch then look no further. The most powerful invoicing module built directly into Time Master. Professional PDF invoices can be emailed to the client, including your own logo. Click here for more information.
  • Quickbooks Export: With the Quickbooks Export module you can export Time Entries to the Windows version of Quickbooks via IIF files. Click here for more information.
  • Synchronization: Wirelessly synchronize two or more devices. If you have an iPad and an iPhone and want to keep the data synchronized between the two devices, this is for you! Click here for more information.

The two main things that you will want to track and bill for are time and expenses. You can track time using start and stop times, start and duration, and/or timers. All time entries are tracked for a single day, so time entries cannot be greater than 24 hours. It will allow you to time across days, for example if you start a job at 8 p.m. and finish at 2 a.m., it will have a duration of 6 hours.

Expenses can be setup for recurring fixed cost items, such as burning a CD, reimbursement of hardware items, or fluid things such as toll expenses, automobile mileage, etc. Expenses can be tied to a Project so it can be reported with a specific Project.

Quick reporting can be done on the iPhone / iPod Touch with the Reports function. See your totals per client for a given date range and even drill down to see details. The report can also be emailed in an HTML table format and/or CSV format. The CSV files can be ZIP’d and even encrypted with a password. Use our free Time Master Central application to backup your database (and restore if necessary) on a Mac or PC. The data from the backup can be exported, in CSV format, on your Mac or PC to be used in other programs.

Adding new Clients, Projects, Tasks and Expenditures is super easy.  You can create them on the fly without having to navigate to a separate maintenance screen. To edit them you can tap on Setup, do you edit and then return to where you left off in Time Entries or Expenses. By selecting a Project or Task first will automatically fill in the Client field for quick entry.

We’ve made every thing that you can do as seamless as possible. For example if you are in a Time Entry, then hit the Setup tab and then delete the Client (and all it’s associated entries), and then you touch on the Time Entries tab again, it will exit the entry you were in and go to the main Time Entry screen.

To see all the details of what the application can do, please download the “Instructions” PDF manual […].”

Tablet Buying Guide from CNet.com

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

As manufacturers rush to capitalize on the attention given to the Apple iPad, there seems to be a new tablet announced every week. And though we can’t keep track of every slate thrown into the wild, if you’re curious to know what your options are, we’ve compiled a general overview of the tablet landscape.

iPad

In the world of tablets, the iPad reigns as king. The product has its detractors, sure, but you can’t dispute the millions of iPads consumers have purchased and the startling rate of adoption–selling more than a million within the first month of release.

The iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch all run a common operating system called iOS, lending a degree of familiarity across Apple‘s most popular products. The iPad’s ease of use, along with its impressive selection of apps, games, and media, are generally considered its most prized attributes. [ . . . ]

Click Here for the Whole CNet.com Buying Guide

Read CNET‘s full review of the Apple iPad.

Right to an Attorney…or an Attorney with an iPad?

iPad con dock y teclado inalámbrico

Image via Wikipedia

From the American Bar Association Tech Site {Author Unknown}:

Whenever I think about new technology in the courtroom, I always wonder what that technology would have been like in a famous trial.  When I think of famous trials, I always think of the Clarence Gideon trial (Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) 372, which expanded our Constitutional right to an attorney in a criminal matter.  What if Mr. Gideon’s attorney, Fred Turner, had an iPad?!  It’s a bit odd to think about, especially since most of the TV world was still black and white in 1963, but in the year 2011, it is a reality.

I just finished reviewing some of the latest and greatest trial presentation tools, and I have to admit that after a few years of things being a bit stagnant, I am excited about what is hitting the legal market this year.

The first thing that I am impressed with is Sanction and Trial Director, the two competing giants in the trial presentation world.  For a decade now, these two have gone toe to toe in this market.  You have to love competition!  If it weren’t for these two products, technology in the courtroom would be years behind what it is.  The new interface and presentation effects are fantastic.

The second area that I am impressed with is the rapid emergence of tablet computing, which is a very hot topic at ABA TECHSHOW this year.

Somewhat to my surprise, tablet/mobile computing has surfaced in the trial presentation world.  That’s right, … there is an App for nearly everything, including one for trial presentation.  It is called TrialPad.  Being a bit of a trial presentation snob, I admittedly was skeptical about this.  However, after trying it out, I found it to be pretty good.  TrialPad imports PDFs from a folder structure stored in Dropbox.  This allows you to organize exhibits on your computer and import multiple files into TrialPad, keeping the folder structure intact.  Files can also be imported from email, GoodReader, and obviously iTunes. Using a VGA adapter that I bought at the local Apple store, I was able to hook up my iPad to a projector and display documents.  I did experience a little quirkiness with the video from time to time, but nothing I couldn’t navigate through.  Cons:  (1) no video support yet and (2) knowing there are many flavors of PDFs (not all PDFs are created equal), I would be sure to give it a good test with exhibits ahead of time.

In conclusion, while the iPad wasn’t really designed for this type of application, that can be said about many technologies and developments.  The reality is that the iPad can be used for small hearings and cases, and at a minimum, TrialPad and the iPad could be used as a “paperless file” for the countless pre-trial and motion hearings that we have day in and day out … unlike all the trials that settle or get continued.

ABA Releases Results of Legal Technology Survey

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

By Jason Beahm (Findlaw.com)  on October  6, 2010  5:57 AM|

A new report demonstrates that attorneys are increasingly making use of technology. According to the 2010 American Bar Association Legal Technology Survey Report, attorneys are increasingly using Web 2.0 and other technologies in their practice. Attorney’s use of social networking and smart phones both grew by double-digit percentages.

The ABA survey is a project of the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center, which provides the legal community with news and information on technology and its use by attorneys. The Legal Technology Resource Center writes about technology and provides continuing legal education on practice management through the use of improved technology. The survey provides over 500 pages of detailed statistics and trend analysis on the use of technology in the practice of law. Over 5,000 ABA members were surveyed as part of the project. The Legal Technology Survey Report comes in six volumes, Technology Basics, Law Office Technology, Litigation and Courtroom Technology, Web and Communication Technology, Online Research, and Mobile Lawyers.

The report is worth taking the time to read at your leisure. In the meantime, here are a few highlights:

  • 71 percent of attorneys are using smart phones in the courtroom, up from 60 percent in the 2009 survey. 64 percent of respondents use smart phones in court to check for new e-mail, 60 percent send e-mail and 46 percent perform calendaring functions.
  • 56 percent of those surveyed maintain an online presence on a site like Facebook or LinkedIn, up from 43 percent in 2009 and 15 percent in 2008.
  • 10 percent of those surveyed have landed a client through the use of online communities or social networks.
  • 76 percent of respondents use smart phones, up from 64 percent in 2009.
  • The most popular brands of smart phones among attorneys were BlackBerry (66%), iPhone (20%) and Palm (9%).
  • 14 percent of respondents have a virtual law practice.