Google Chrome: One Step Closer to Paperless ?

Chrome OS Login

I just applied to be one of the test pilots for the Google Chrome OS. I am very interested in the prospect of having something that is connected to the Internet on a constant. Naturally, as a lawyer, I do have questions about security, confidentiality, practical use in the courtroom, and collaboration with staff. Hopefully, I will be one of the lucky one’s who gets to test this system in earnest.  I have tried, at various times, the Linux-Ubuntu OS, Windows (since its introduction), and Mac options since the 1980’s.  The prospect of a challenger to the old guard provides a clarion call for innovation.  I honestly hope that Chrome can drive innovation in this area — it’s been a while.

From what I can see, the upcoming Chrome OS is extremely user friendly and should be familiar to most of us vis a vis the use of “apps.” I certainly support anything that is quicker and which provides some level of long-term data integrity in terms of storage and accessibility. I am looking forward to becoming familiar with this particular OS and sharing the news as it comes in terms of strengths and weaknesses.
My guess is that the existing Google Apps will go a long way toward basic functionality. I already use Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Picasa for my photos. Each of these programs or services have improved over time and the fact that Google is way ahead with its research and development, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did not start to give Apple a real run for their money in the tablet OS arena and number of apps ultimately available. Much like in the 1980s, I think that Apple will have led the way, but may ultimately be overrun by its own innovation. Anyway, without further opining, you can check out the video showing Google Chrome in action on one of their demo units.
Just click on the video window below for a preview of the Chrome OS in action:
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Trial Technology on the IPad – Readdle Docs Handler

After being in trial for several weeks on end, I have had the opportunity to review a number of apps through a ‘trial by fire.’  This review is just one of several upcoming looks at apps used in trial by my office.  One of the outstanding apps to have survived the ordeal was Readdle.  Readdle is a documents editor, organizer and reviewer.  What was particularly good about the app is the ability to easily organize exhibits, put them in a folder, and quickly review them during trial.  In one particular matter, I had about 1500 pages of exhibits and was able to easily flip through them, label them, and coordinate them with the hard copy exhibits in the parties’ binders.  The app is compatible with Rich Text,  Word (.doc) and Acrobat (.pdf) formats.  Truth be known, however, that it does not do well with pleadings done in Word and the highlighting function in .pdf is not the easiest or best out there.  If Readdle could easily convert .pdf files to an image file, like Noterize (which makes highlighting easy on such files), this would be a nearly perfect trial lawyers’ app.  The app works with Dropbox, e-mailing, MobileMe, GoogleDocs, and Safari.  Overall, this is a very good app with lots of potential.  I would recommend this to any lawyer who needs to review txt, doc, pdf files during trials, depos, or just in an everyday context.

Microsoft Office 11 for Mac — Looks Good

Office Mac 2011 is definitely an upgrade from the 2008 version.  Among other things, the user interface has improved dramatically.  The various tools and tabs on the ribbon are useful and intuitive.  In fact, I would claim that the Mac version is better than the Windows version.  I still have to figure out the ribbon UI in Windows and gave up long ago.  One of my favorite additions to the Office Suite is the “Notebook” template, which is very much like the Notebook offering made by CircusPonies.com, without any significant cost differential.  Most of the templates are more on the consumer side and I am looking forward to seeing if my Windows-based pleadings templates will be compatible with the Mac version.  Another key issue will be looking at the ease of being able to insert tables for exhibit lists, witness lists, or for demonstrative courtroom exhibits.  The Powerpoint program seems equally intuitive and the interface is clean and understandable.  Again, the templates are are little simplistic, but easily tailored to meet the needs of a trial lawyer preparing a presentation with use of video clips from a deposition, pdf exhibits, images, and interactive elements. The spreadsheet element of Office is what one would expect and offers a number of good templates, including invoicing, timesheets, and other useful tools for the legal profession.  Finally, I really like the smooth interface between SkyDrive and the Suite.  I have been using SkyDrive or its predecessors for some time and have enjoyed the remote accessibility to my files, especially during trials and travelling.  SkyDrive also makes it easy to share files with clients, which is becoming more important as cloud-based technology develops.  All in all, the suite is just one more reason to justify the transition to Mac as an office tool.  While many of us in the legal world are stuck on Wordperfect, this offering may just be the reason to finally break the chains so that lawyers can more easily interact with clients (most of whom use Word).  I give this new version of Office a 9.5 out of 10.  If there were templates for pleading, I’d give it a 10.  For additional reviews see, TechRadar.com and ZDNet.com.  For an article on whether it’s worth your time, money and effort to upgrade your present office suite, you can see this MacWorld article which does a good job of speaking to this issue.


Microsoft Office 2011 Looks Promising for Mac Users

Computer Microsoft is releasing Office 2011 for Mac users on October 26, 2010.  If you already have purchased Office 2008 in the last couple of months, you get a free upgrade to 2011.  The office suite looks very promising.  Among other improvements to the suite, Office 2011 is including Outlook for Mac.  Up until now, they have offered Entourage, which is an ostensible version of Outlook with considerably less features and a less polished user interface.  With Outlook, calendar integration, task integration, and collaboration ought to be quite a bit easier.  As to the new version of Word, one can expect to see the “ribbon” user interface that is present in the PC version of the suite.  According to MS, Office for Mac 2011 gives you an enhanced user experience overall, as performance and launch times have been improved in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. Your documents feel “lighter,” since they load fast, and respond quickly to your commands. And searching text within documents has never been faster.” Overall, this sounds like a worthy update to a program that needs to come up to speed for Mac users, especially those of us in the law. Try finding a usable pleading template for Mac Office 2008 some time !!!

Windows 7 Phones Appear on Smartphone Scene

http://www.cnet.com/windows-phone-7/?tag=txt;luke_topic

Microsoft has just unveiled the details on its Windows-based phones.  This should add another dimension to the smart phone industry and will likely stiffen competition.  One would expect good integration between the phone and one’s PC with the addition of this tool.  Another addition to the Microsoft lineup is Office 2011 for Mac, expected on October 26, 2010. (See Microsoft Press Kit).

With all of the excitement, the one thing that Microsoft has not been clear on is whether there will be anywhere near a comparable amount of apps for their new smartphones.  For any smartphone to be functional beyond phone calls, a variety of useful apps is necessary.  In this MSNBC article, this issue is discussed at some length.  My guess is that Apple will continue to lead the way in terms of functionality for a couple more years and then the market will be a little more wide open and innovation by competition will drive functionality.  Unfortunately, at this time, it looks like most of the MS apps (first look) are focused on gaming, communication, and entertainment.  This is fine if the court is in recess, but doesn’t do much good for file management, exhibit review, and note taking.

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