Thursday, October 28, 2010

Create an App Tips From Carolyn Elefant

Create an App in a Snap

Since my previous posts on mobile devices, they've continued to gain traction. Just last week, Forbes Magazine reported that a recent Pew study found that 85 percent of all American adults own a cell phone. Moreover, consumers are using phones for a variety of new purposes. A Pew Report released October 19, 2010, found the following:

  • 7% of cell owners have used their phone to look up health or medical information and 29% of cell owners ages 18-29 have done such searches.
  • 9% of cell owners have software applications or "apps" on their phones that help them track or manage their health. Some 15% of those ages 18-29 have such apps.

Just as consumers are beginning to use phones to organize and locate health or medical information, it is only a matter of time before they eventually turn to their phones for legal information as well. The question is, will your firm be ready?

I previously posted some tips about how lawyers could prepare themselves for a mobile-era, including optimizing websites for viewing on cell phones, adopting video which can be viewed fairly easily on a phone and even developing law firm apps. Well now, there are more options than ever to develop an app for your firm, ranging from do-it-yourself to hiring a developer.

These new advancements mean that apps aren't just for big firms. In fact, Mashable lays out more than a dozen different options for app development targeted specifically at small firms.

On the DIY end, options include Google's recent App Inventor, which creates apps for Android, or Appbreeder.com, a web-based platform for developing iphone apps.

Read, Write, Web offers thirteen more DIY options, coding skills not required. One app that immediately caught my attention is Ebook app which will convert ebooks into phone apps.

For lawyers who lack the patience, or want to commission a more ambitious app, outsourcing is an option. Mashable recommends Odesk or elance as a source for finding app developers, as well as companies like TheyMakeApps.com which is a mobile app development agency.

One option that none of these sites have mentioned is for lawyers to collaborate on an basic app which could be adapted to their specific markets and branded with their firm name. For example, five different bankruptcy firms (presumably non-competitors) could pool their resources to develop a bankruptcy "means test" app and then "brand" the app with their respective logos. This approach would enable firms to share the cost of development and save money.

So maybe it's time to get busy and develop an app for your firm. Even though there isn't necessarily "an app for that," there are plenty of other options.

Please click here for Carolyn's original post.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information of Harding & Associates Family Law

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

PracticeSmarter Blog Review

Judd Kessler is a lawyer. He is an entrepreneur, who owns AbacusLaw, the practice management software company. And he pilots a Cessna Citation, which is really cool (Judd I am always available to do some pro bono passengering for you!). For our purposes today he is the publisher of the PracticeSmarter blog. Sure, the blog is a marketing tool for his AbacusLaw software. But Judd also publishes very useful practice management, software, and lifestyle articles targeted at lawyers.

Check it out by clicking here!

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information of Harding & Associates Family Law

Social Media For Lawyers

Wondering how to implement social media into your law practice? Flustered by facebook? Tweaked by twitter? Lost with LinkedIn? Dennis Kennedy is a lawyer and one the legal world's preeminent technologists. If it is happening for lawyers in the software, hardware, or internet worlds Dennis knows about it, and explains it. On his blog, DennisKennedy.com, he recently shared his thoughts on social media:

I gave a presentation recently on Social Media and Legal Ethics to a great audience at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri. I’ve given a half-dozen presentations on this topic (often with Mike Downey covering the ethics part) over the last year – to Indiana lawyers, to law students, to young lawyers, to corporate counsel, to estate planning lawyers and to the staff at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri.

As I drove home after the presentation, I started thinking about lawyers and social media, the changes I’ve seen as I’ve presented on this topic, and how my approach to talking about this topic differs from much of what I’ve seen about how this topic is presented. I thought it might be fun to share my observations and reflections at this point.

1. Interest Level. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of hands that go up when I ask who in the audience is actually using social media services. My experience largely reflects what I’ve read and surveys show. Most lawyers using social networking or social media tools primarily use LinkedIn. Facebook has always come in second place, but the gap between LinkedIn use and Facebook use is decreasing rapidly. The growth in Facebook users in my informal surveys has been dramatic in the last year. Twitter usage lags well behind, and there seems to be more hesitancy and fear of Twitter usage than of any of the other tools. In part, that’s due to lack of understanding how Twitter works and what the potential benefits might be. Alas, there have usually only been one or two bloggers in my audiences. This might be an unpopular (and definitely unscientific) assessment, but my sense is that most of the individual lawyers who really want to do blogs have already tried it. I think firms are still looking at and trying blogs – that’s a good thing – and there are still opportunities to create new blogs that could be successful, but the energy and growth seems to be in other places. For example, if I were thinking about starting a blog in 2010, I’m not so sure I wouldn’t do something in Facebook rather than write a separate blog.

2. The Traditional Approach. When I present on this topic, I definitely do not take a traditional approach – more about what I do later. In fact, I tell my audiences that upfront. The traditional approach, and I’ve seen too much of it myself, goes like this: Social media is new, it’s scary, it’s risky, and it raises lots of questions for which we have no answers. In fact, the only thing the audience can possibly do to protect itself from the scary risks and dangers is to have a social media policy prepared by the law firm of the lawyer doing the speaking. If you think I’m joking, you should see how people nod their heads and laugh when I say exactly this during my presentation as I contrast what I’m about to do. By the way, this same approach was taken on the risks of blogging when blogging first started, and on websites before that, and email before that.

3. My Approach. I really think my approach is better, but I’m interested in your feedback, and I’m continuing to evolve what I do. My basic premise is that lawyers can spot issues and balance risks, but they need a solid understanding of how people use social media tools to do so. I spend most of the time in my presentations showing actual screenshots and explaining how and why people use these tools. The fact that I’ve been experimenting with many social media tools for a long time also helps. No matter how knowledgeable you might be, it undermines your credibility with an audience if it seems like you are new to using social media or, worse yet, that you don’t use it at all. I once attended a social media legal presentation where the presenter actually said, “I’m sure you all know more about using social media than I do.” I honestly don’t remember what he said after that because I tuned him out. What I’ve found is that once lawyers understand the basic use of the social media tools, they can spot the issues and risks very easily and will often point out issues and potential solutions that I hadn’t considered. By the way, this approach is comparable to how I presented about electronic discovery years ago.

4. A Framework. As I was writing a standard disclaimer to give at the beginning of one of my presentations, I wrote: “I’m Dennis Kennedy. I’m here today speaking personally and not on behalf of my employer or any other entity. And this presentation is for educational purposes, and should not be considered legal advice.” Hey, it’s a disclaimer. I was thinking about ways to either make it shorter or to jazz it up, when I saw that there were three components to that disclaimer – identity, role, purpose – and that getting those components right were an essential theme in social media. More important, confusion and lack of congruity in those three components causes most problems. The funny thing is that now I give that disclaimer as my opening, and I sometimes get some chuckles because it seems so like what lawyers do. Then I explain the three components and how they work, and it seems like I immediately get everyone’s attention and give them a framework for understanding the rest of the talk.

5. The Social Media Matrix. I don’t think lawyers make enough use of the matrix or quadrant charts most business people use regularly. I had this crazy idea last year that I wanted to create a one page chart that explained all of social media. Well, here’s my latest version and it seems to work for presentation purposes. Again, I want to give an audience a simple framework to help them understand the practical aspects and benefits of social media.

Social Media Matrix

6. Questions. I like using a lot of screenshots and showing what I actually do and telling about what I’ve done right and wrong. As people see and understand how these tools work, they want to ask questions. Often, I can see the light bulbs going on as people realize that they are only using LinkedIn in a small fraction of the ways they could or that Twitter could be extremely valuable even if they never tweet. As a speaker, it’s difficult not to take the questions as they arise and, at the same time, it’s easy to get into an open discussion with the audience. My presentation is structured in a way where I can go with the flow, but I can tell you that presenting on social media in a short time (say 25 minutes) is incredibly difficult and requires major editing work before and during your presentation.

7. Practical tips. It’s easy to get laughs talking about all the dumb things lawyers and others have already done while using social media. However, we’re all starting to hear the same stories over and over. I like to use instead some hands-on practical tips. In the last presentation, I took five minutes and used a series of screenshots to show exactly how to change your Facebook privacy settings, what settings I actually use and why, and some of the considerations to think about when making those decisions. I thought I won the audience over when I explained to them exactly how to block Farmville updates from their Facebook friends. You decide – would you rather hear about social media policies or learn how to block Farmville updates? Exactly.

8. Simplification. I actually take some time to explain Web 2.0 and the read/write web, in a non-technical way, because I think it helps people understand how social media works. But, I keep it simple. I also simplify my examples of social media, but also show people the range of social media tools (which seem to be growing all the time) rather than overload them with details on each. I always end by saying that people need to try a few tools, focus on one or two, and find what best fits you. In general, the social media tools that I like will not be the same ones other people like because I am a writer and a content producer. I agree with most of the lawyers I talk to – I don’t have any idea how they would use Twitter. Giving permission to the audience to try just one or two and that it’s OK if they feel something doesn’t work for them really seems to help them with the topic.

9. Action Steps. Social media policies are a good thing, and the speaker’s firm might even do a great job of preparing them, but a presentation that ends with a call to action to hire the speaker’s firm to prepare a policy is an infomercial rather than an educational presentation. All lawyers get this part of it. It doesn’t take any convincing, but they want to know the hows and not the whys. I actually don’t even talk about social media policies because it seems so obvious, but I do point people, in my handout, to useful resources on social media issues. That’s what I would want – guide me to where I can learn what I need to learn. I end with four practical action steps for people to try when they leave the presentation:

  • Pick one social media to try or to delve more deeply into (and gradually experiment until you find one that “fits”).
  • Create clean lines between personal and professional identities.
  • The learning process is always consume first (listen, learn, understand the community and the medium), then produce.
  • Monitor Twitter Search to get a sense of how people use Twitter.

10. What Can I Learn? I’ve learned new things every time I’ve presented on social media. There’s a lot that I don’t know, and there’s so much growth and change in social media that I’m not sure anyone can stay on top of it. By sharing what I know, I feel like I’m helping others explore and learn new things that maybe they’ll share with me. More than any other topic I’ve presented on, social media presentations really seem to lead to an exchange of ideas and opportunities for continued conversation.

11. The Secret of Social Media. I hope this doesn’t get me kicked out of the blogger guild, but I do reveal the true secret of blogging and social media in each of my presentations. It’s not about ROI and stuff like that, The secret is that it’s really fun and you meet the greatest people. And that’s enough – everything else is gravy.

In a way, I’m just thinking out loud and trying to capture some of these reflections. Hope you find them useful. Let me know.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the companion website for the book at LawyersGuidetoCollaboration.com. Twitter: @collabtools

Presumptuous Computing – Podcast

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Tom Mighell and I have recorded another episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast and it’s now available on the Legal Talk Network and on iTunes, with an RSS feed here. The episode is called “Presumptuous Computing: But I Didn’t Ask for That” (show notes here), and it’s sponsored by Clio. A special thank you to readers of this blog who listen to the podcast – consider trying out an episode or becoming a regular subscriber through iTunes or our RSS feed.

Here’s the episode (#39) description:

You go to Google and find the new “instant search” feature has been turned on for you. You upgrade a program and find that all of your personalized settings have been reset to the program defaults. Facebook changes privacy settings. Twitter surprises you with a new interface. Why do technology companies seem to think that they can make these changes for us? In this episode, co-hosts Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss the idea of “presumptuous computing,” the rise and implications of this phenomenon, and what you can do to keep pace and protect yourself.

Three years ago, I wrote a blog post called “Presumptuous Computing – A Trend to Reverse,” in which I argued that too many software vendors were acting like they knew best about what we wanted and generally not acting like good guests on our computers. I had a whole laundy list of irritating examples, from Windows updates to iTunes.

Fast forward three years. While some things have gotten somewhat better (like Windows updates), there’s a whole new generation of programs and web-based services that annoyingly make changes to the user interface, default settings and other features without telling us, let alone giving us any choice.

Tom and I revisit the topic and our general annoyance with the practice and the attitude that “vendor knows best” that too often seems to underlie it. We cover a long list of examples – Google Instant, Google Buzz, Facebook privacy settings, iTunes. The trend simply hasn’t reversed.

We also talk about some practical ways to protect yourself and take better control of your our computer. As Tom says, “Read. Be Smart. Don’t Assume.”

In our Q&A segment, Tom and I answer a couple of questions about the the results from a couple of questions on the use of collaboration tools from the 2010 Inside Legal / ILTA Member Technology Purchasing Survey and specualte on trends in collaboration tools in law firms.

We end the podcast with our Parting Shots – practical tips you can use right away. Tom likes two iPhone/iPad apps for marking up PDFsSignit! and iAnnotate. I recommend Olivia Mitchell’s blog post The Seven Types fo Presentations to Avoid.

Give our new episode a listen and let me know what you think. Show notes for the podcast are here. And try some of the back episodes as well. You can also now follow the podcast on Twitter at @tkmreport.

Please click here for Dennis' article.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information of Harding & Associates Family Law

Walgreen’s now selling a $99 Android tablet

From The Digital Reader:

One of my searches turned up the product page for the Maylong M-150, a 7″ (800×480) Android tablet. It runs v1.6 on a 400MHz CPU and 256MB RAM. It has Wifi, a resistive touchscreen, speakers, microSD card slot, and it even ships with a dongle that provides 10/100 and USB ports. The product page lists that the M-150 ships with a full browser, reading app, Youtube, and a video player.

The interesting thing about the CPU is that it was designed by Via, so it’s probably more powerful than the clock cycles suggest. We won’t know until someone puts their hands on it.



Please click here for the original article.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information of Harding & Associates Family Law

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Product Warning: West's Premise Does Not Work With Windows 7

99% of the library in our firm is now computer based, either by online services or CD-ROM products. On of the products we use the most is The Rutter Group California Practice Guides published by West Thomson. In our case we use the CD-ROM product. The CDs are copied to our server. They are accessed through West's proprietary Premise search engine software.

We recently did a complete computer system upgrade, including converting our entire office to Windows 7 workstations. The upgrade has met or exceeded all performance expectations. Unfortunately there have also been glitches. Most glaring is the fact that Premise is apparently not yet compatible with Windows 7. Now we continue to pay West $150 per month for the Rutter Group CDs, but we cannot access them!

This brings to light a bigger issue. West Thomson is a paper publisher. The company is slow to transition to electronic products, and this is demonstrated by the fact that at least one of their products, i.e., Premise, has not yet been upgraded to be compatible with the now prevailing operating system.

We have repeatedly called West technical support only to be met with stunned silence from the woefully inadequate technical support personnel as they struggle to even know what software products West sells, and struggle even more with a complete lack of technical familiarity with the products. The common remedy from West technical support is to send out a new CD. Unfortunately that does not solve the problem. The error is in the outdated, under engineered software -- not the quality of the CD-ROM pressing.

Is anyone at West Thomson listening? Join us in the 21st Century. Hire some engineers who can write code, and serve your customers!

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information of Harding & Associates Family Law

Monday, October 18, 2010

Acrobat 10 On The Way

Adobe Acrobat is one of my favorite programs. Version 10 is about to hit the street. Attorney Ernie Svenson, publisher of PDF For Lawyers offers his review of the new version.

I've had a chance to preview the new Adobe Acrobat, which is version 10, and there are some very interesting changes in this update. Adobe has significantly revamped the menu bar, simplifying it so that there are only 5 main menus: File, Edit, View, Window, and Help. Acrobat 9, by contrast had 10 menu choices. Gone from the main menu are the following commands: Document, Comments, Forms, Tools, and Advanced.

At first this was unsettling, but once I grasped what Adobe was doing I realized that the user-interface change will be helpful to people who are new to Acrobat. The advanced choices were not removed from the program, but simply moved to the toolbar on the right side (see below).

Screen shot 2010-10-17 at 4.46.34 PM


Putting the more advanced choices over in their own separate area actually makes sense. Below are the Tools and Comment sub-menus expanded to list some of the things that you can view here (the view is editable to exclude things you don't generally use).

Dual view of Acrobat menu

Bottom line: rest assured you'll be able to work with all of your favorite tools, but now the process will become a lot easier to visualize. And key actions that people use most frequently have been placed at the top of the sub-menus. So, for example ,the Rotate command is now at the top of the Pages sub-menu as shown below.

Screen shot 2010-10-17 at 5.01.56 PM

And you'll note that Rotate is grouped with other actions that belong together as 'page actions.' The main toolbar (depicted in topmost image) is much more configurable now, so that you can put exactly the commands you use most; you are no longer forced to have a set of commands in the toolbar if you only want one command out of that set.

I should point out that Adobe Reader (the free viewing program) is also getting an update, and it will now allow users to create and save highlights and sticky notes. Adobe keeps adding great features like this to Reader (and yet it also is careful to keep out key features that are in Acrobat, such as being able to rotate a page and save that view). Adobe Reader now is set to accept automatic updates, which will increase its stability and security as improvements are developed by Adobe. But, back to Acrobat...

Other improvements to Acrobat 10 are better OCR capabilities, better compression of color documents, more options for Portfolios, and significantly improved export of PDFs to Word or Excel formats. Another important development is the inclusion of a feature called 'Actions' which are basically macros that allow a sequence of actions to be set up by a user. Granted, we've had the ability to to 'batch processing' but Actions are more user-friendly. And they can be exported and shared with other users, so it's likely that Actions that become popular in the legal field will be easily distributed to other interested users.

The Redaction tool has improved a bit, allowing a user to set the default appearance more easily. But it's pretty much the same tool that we've seen in the last version of Acrobat. Same with Bates-stamping.

So is this a must-have upgrade for legal users? It's probably not, unless you're a heavy user of the OCR function and the export to Word function. The export to Excel is also nicely implemented in this version. There are some improvements to collaboration that take advantage of Microsoft Sharepoint, but it's hard to say how popular this feature will be in the legal world.

The most interesting update is the one to Reader, the free viewing application. Being able to highlight text-based PDFs and add sticky notes is a nice touch. And one that will perhaps drive more average users to crave the additional document manipulation features in Acrobat.

I'm not sure what the official release date for Acrobat 10 and Reader 10 will be, but I'll update this post as soon as I find out.

Please click here for Ernie's original article.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information of Harding & Associates Family Law

More Lorenzo On Marketing

Marketing your practice is essential. Even if all of your new work is from referrals, you still need to stay in touch with your referral sources. If there is any attorney out there that has more work than she handle with no marketing effort, I have not met her.

Fear plays a role in sales. Marketing professionals exploit your fear to sell you marketing services you may not need. When considering marketing options for your practice, operate with insight rather than being driven by fear. To elaborate we turn once again to marketing/rainmaking guru Dave Lorenzo

We should not have to convince small law firm owners about the opportunity to dominate their area of practice by using legal marketing, but we do. There are a few reasons solo and small practice law firms do not spend time and money on marketing. They are:

  • No understanding of legal marketing.
  • They have received bad information about legal marketing.
  • Fear of the investment in legal marketing.

Let’s take a look at each of these reasons and help them work through them.

No Understanding of Legal Marketing

Most lawyers have no concept of what legal marketing is or how legal marketing should be attempted. They do not teach anything about legal marketing in law school. So when an attorney does some research on legal marketing, he finds a great deal of diverse information.

Some of the information is useful but most of it is crap. The Internet is full of false profits in every industry but when it comes to legal marketing these false profits are particularly sneaky. Most of the people who will take a lawyers money or offer a lawyer advice on legal marketing are, in fact, lawyers themselves. This makes them very appealing to the lawyer who needs marketing help.

The danger of hiring a part time lawyer for help with marketing or even worse, hiring a former lawyer for help with marketing, is that you will get wrong information. Most of the lawyer-turned-marketing-gurus do not intentionally give out bad information but they do not have the experience and knowledge to apply an appropriate solution for every practice.

The part time lawyer, part time marketing guru knows what you want to hear and they sell that to you. If they knew about building a law firm they would be doing that full time. If you want to fully understand legal marketing and if you want to pick a set of strategies that will work for you do your research. You can start here at Rainmaker Lawyer and continue at our other legal marketing website Legal Marketing For Lawyers.

Bad Information

There is no shortage of bad information out there about legal marketing. Everywhere you turn there is some guru trying to sell you their Facebook solution for attracting more clients or their Social Media Success System.

Ultimately, you must thoroughly vet the people you listen to. You must review their track record and get a feeling for their ability to build a business. A law firm is a business. If you build it properly it should be an asset that appreciates in value. Your law firm marketing guru should be able to help you build and grow this asset into something you can sell when the time comes.

Look for a legal marketing expert who has a track record of building businesses. If they have done it they can help you do it.

Fear of the Investment in Legal Marketing

The Yellow Pages salesman ruined legal marketing for everyone. Back in the old days the Yellow Pages guy would walk into a law office and walk out with a $12,000 check. Each year several people would call as a result of seeing the ad in the Yellow Pages and the lawyer would attract a couple of clients. This would be enough to keep his interest albeit at a significant expense.

Today the SEO guy is the Yellow Pages equivalent. There are people out there who are promising they will get your website on the first page of Google in three weeks. Lawyers invest in these solutions and they invest heavily. Sometimes they work and the lawyer becomes completely dependent upon them. Most times they are a big waste of money.
This has made the lawyer scared of legitimate legal marketing solutions.

There is no need to fear the expense of legal marketing. You can invest as little money as you’d like and still get great results. Keep in mind that reducing the investment in dollars will most likely mean increasing the investment of your time.

The bottom line on all of this it that you should not feel apprehensive about working with a legal marketing expert. Do your homework and you will make a good decision.
Please click here for Dave's original article.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information of Harding & Associates Family Law

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

More Thoughts On Cloud Computing.

Software as a service (SaaS), off-site software hosting, cloud computing, pay for use software. Whatever you call it, the idea of cloud computing is catching on. William A. Perrone, Mark W. Heaphy and Sarvesh D. Mahajan offer their thoughts. Originally published by The Connecticut Law Tribune, the article is also available at law.com.
On hearing the thunder of "cloud computing," one might expect to look to the sky and see a computer (about to fall). Yet the meaning and significance of "cloud computing" remain nebulous (pun intended).

"Cloud" is a metaphor for the amorphous internet. In cloud computing, the internet serves as the computer, combining software with infrastructure, a development platform, and databases. Cloud computing involves a shared pool of computing resources used in a multi-tenancy model. We all experience cloud computing when we use Google search or when we use web-based e-mail services such as Hotmail.

Cloud computing is viewed as a "greener" approach than current models. In particular, by running multiple applications on the same server (server virtualization), cloud computing provides dramatic gains in utilization of information technology resources, thus reducing the massive energy consumption of traditional computing devices.

Though the model is still in its infancy, most commentators anticipate cloud computing will be transformative. By moving the processing and storage of information to the cloud (rather than locally), the current models of computing may soon find their histories being written in the annals of computing alongside mainframe computing.

Such transformative events are often accompanied by uncertainty, and sometimes disruption. Cloud computing raises myriad technological, business, and legal issues. This article summarizes just some of the critical issues to consider while we wait for the cloud to bring "rain."

DATA SECURITY

The paramount concern raised in most discussions of cloud computing is the security of data in the cloud. Physical security of the data centers is a basic question, though not unique to cloud computing. The multi-tenancy model of cloud computing creates multiple access points to applications. "Public" clouds (versus "private" clouds) may also create greater security risks.

Thus, operational security -- the controls governing access to the applications, data, and the facility -- requires close scrutiny. Additionally, the software-based controls, such as firewalls, encryption, and access rights, used by providers are essential component of provide a safe computing environment.

COSTS AND PRICING MODELS

The promise of cloud computing is a high level of efficiency and scalability, and consequently, dramatic cost savings for customers. Even a large organization can now operate its entire business without investing in software, servers, and storage. Pricing for services delivered via the cloud have generally focused on subscription-type models. Pricing is tied to usage, for example, numbers of users or transactions. These pricing models, combined with the cloud architecture, allow for significant variability in volume and a rapid scalability during times of high demand. Customers must remain vigilant to the other issues presented by the cloud computing model and not focus only on the dramatic cost savings.

MAINTENANCE AND SUPPORT

Whereas the on-premise model of software typically requires customer to purchase separate maintenance contracts, maintenance for software in the cloud can be included in the subscription fees. By shedding fixed instances of software installed on servers, customers can have the benefits of fixes and upgrades instantaneously and continuously. On the other hand, customers will also want to understand how they will receive support for information technology resources they do not control.

AVAILABILITY AND RELIABILITY

The speed and power of networks has allowed localized computing to spread across the network. Nonetheless, ensuring the same levels of reliability will be important for making the transition to cloud computing. Reliability and other measures of quality can be measured (and enforced) through a robust service level methodology and other performance metrics where customers can "keep vendors feet to the fire."

DISASTER RECOVERY

Of course, applications and data must be available when needed. So backups and redundancy are essential. By delegating responsibility of backup and redundancy to the cloud provider, customers can eliminate the need for complex infrastructure as part of their business continuity planning.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, LICENSING

Traditional software licenses are not compatible with cloud computing. Copies of software are not distributed locally. Rather cloud computing is service that is provided or made available to the customer. Moreover, much of the development of the cloud is based on "open source" material, creating additional challenges, not the least of which is ownership of data and intellectual property. Providers may be unwilling to provide broad indemnification protection as when they control and can neatly define the intellectual property they provide.

JURISDICTIONAL ISSUES

The dispersed infrastructure used by cloud provider creates a legal minefield for jurisdictional issues. The location and movement of data may lead various jurisdictions to assert regulatory authority and create conflicting obligations for customers and providers alike. By processing and storing in the cloud, customers must consider what new regulatory obligations they may be taking on. Some commentators consider the current legal landscape too risky to undertake cloud computing.

DATA PROTECTION LAWS

Many customers, and by extension providers, are subject to requirements under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, and other applicable data protection and privacy laws. The numerous data protection regimes of various U.S. and international jurisdictions can pose significant hurdles when applied to the dynamic cloud architecture. Cross-border data flows are highly regulated, particularly in the international arena.

CONCLUSION

While the business and legal world catch up to the cloud, parties interested in taking advantage of the "next big thing" will need to rely on strong contracting to allocate responsibility for the various risks presented by cloud computing. Currently, cloud computing is concentrated among a small group of powerful technology players, who may have sufficient to clout to dictate the terms of contract and design the rules of the emerging industry. Accordingly, customers should carefully understand exactly what they are buying and from whom in order to navigate this current trend which is growing at an incredible rate and is dramatically changing the information technology landscape.

William A. Perrone is a Stamford, Conn.-based partner in Wiggin and Dana's technology and outsourcing practice group. Mark W. Heaphy, who practices in New Haven, is chairman of the firm's technology and outsourcing group. Sarvesh D. Mahajan is an associate in the technology and outsourcing group, practicing in the firm's New York office.

Please click here to read the original article.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information of Harding & Associates Family Law

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mindmapping

I just wrapped up a week of trial in a divorce case that has been pending for 6 years! The volume of facts, records, and documents was overwhelming. We had child custody and visitation issues, child support and spousal support issues, and support arrearages in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. We had attorney's fees issues. We had stock option, RSUs, ESPPs. We had expert testimony. We had the parties testify. We had it all.

Organization was essential. As was the ability to maintain flow in the presentation of my case. how to do it all?

I turned to a tool that I have long been a big believer in: Mind mapping. My preferred mind mapping software? Mind Jet.

For a comprehensive explanation I turn to the good folks at Wikipedia:

Mind map

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
A hand-drawn mind map

A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid to studying and organizing information, solving problems, making decisions, and writing.

The elements of a given mind map are arranged intuitively according to the importance of the concepts, and are classified into groupings, branches, or areas, with the goal of representing semantic or other connections between portions of information. Mind maps may also aid recall of existing memories.

By presenting ideas in a radial, graphical, non-linear manner, mind maps encourage a brainstorming approach to planning and organizational tasks. Though the branches of a mindmap represent hierarchical tree structures, their radial arrangement disrupts the prioritizing of concepts typically associated with hierarchies presented with more linear visual cues. This orientation towards brainstorming encourages users to enumerate and connect concepts without a tendency to begin within a particular conceptual framework.

The mind map can be contrasted with the similar idea of concept mapping. The former is based on radial hierarchies and tree structures denoting relationships with a central governing concept, whereas concept maps are based on connections between concepts in more diverse patterns.

Contents

Characteristics

Mind maps are, by definition, a graphical method of taking notes. Their visual basis helps one to distinguish words or ideas, often with colors and symbols. They generally take a hierarchical or tree branch format, with ideas branching into their subsections. Mind maps allow for greater creativity when recording ideas and information, as well as allowing the note-taker to associate words with visual representations. Mind maps differ from concept maps in that mind maps focus on only one word or idea, whereas concept maps connect multiple words or ideas.

A key distinction between mind maps and modelling graphs is that there is no rigorous right or wrong with mind maps, relying on the arbitrariness of mnemonic systems. A UML Diagram or a Semantic network has structured elements modelling relationships, with lines connecting objects to indicate relationship. This is generally done in black and white with a clear and agreed iconography. Mind maps serve a different purpose: they help with memory and organisation. Mind maps are collections of words structured by the mental context of the author with visual mnemonics,and, through the use of colour, icons and visual links are informal and necessary to the proper functioning of the mind map.

Mind map guidelines

Mind map of mind map guidelines

In his books on Mind Maps author Tony Buzan suggests using the following guidelines for creating Mind Maps:

  1. Start in the center with an image of the topic, using at least 3 colors.
  2. Use images, symbols, codes, and dimensions throughout your Mind Map.
  3. Select key words and print using upper or lower case letters.
  4. Each word/image is best alone and sitting on its own line.
  5. The lines should be connected, starting from the central image. The central lines are thicker, organic and flowing, becoming thinner as they radiate out from the centre.
  6. Make the lines the same length as the word/image they support.
  7. Use multiple colors throughout the Mind Map, for visual stimulation and also to encode or group.
  8. Develop your own personal style of Mind Mapping.
  9. Use emphasis and show associations in your Mind Map.
  10. Keep the Mind Map clear by using radial hierarchy, numerical order or outlines to embrace your branches.

This list is itself more concise than a prose version of the same information and the Mind Map of these guidelines is itself intended to be more memorable and quicker to scan than either the prose or the list.

History

Pictorial methods for recording knowledge and modelling systems have been used for centuries in learning, brainstorming, memory, visual thinking, and problem solving by educators, engineers, psychologists, and others. Some of the earliest examples of such graphical records were developed by Porphyry of Tyros, a noted thinker of the 3rd century, as he graphically visualized the concept categories of Aristotle. Philosopher Ramon Llull (1235–1315) also used such techniques.

The semantic network was developed in the late 1950s as a theory to understand human learning and developed further by Allan M. Collins and M. Ross Quillian during the early 1960s.

British popular psychology author Tony Buzan claims to have invented modern mind mapping.[1] He claimed the idea was inspired by Alfred Korzybski's general semantics as popularized in science fiction novels, such as those of Robert A. Heinlein and A.E. van Vogt. Buzan argues that while "traditional" outlines force readers to scan left to right and top to bottom, readers actually tend to scan the entire page in a non-linear fashion. Buzan also uses popular assumptions about the cerebral hemispheres in order to promote the exclusive use of mind mapping over other forms of note making.

The mind map continues to be used in various forms, and for various applications including learning and education (where it is often taught as "webs", "mind webs", or "webbing"), planning, and in engineering diagramming.

When compared with the concept map (which was developed by learning experts in the 1970s) the structure of a mind map is a similar radial, but is simplified by having one central key word.

Uses

Rough mindmap notes taken during a course session

A mind map is often created around a single word or text, placed in the center, to which associated ideas, words and concepts are added.

Mind maps have many applications in personal, family, educational, and business situations, including notetaking, brainstorming (wherein ideas are inserted into the map radially around the center node, without the implicit prioritization that comes from hierarchy or sequential arrangements, and wherein grouping and organizing is reserved for later stages), summarizing, revising, and general clarifying of thoughts. One could listen to a lecture, for example, and take down notes using mind maps for the most important points or keywords. One can also use mind maps as a mnemonic technique or to sort out a complicated idea. Mind maps are also promoted as a way to collaborate in color pen creativity sessions.

Mind maps can be used for:

  • problem solving
  • outline/framework design
  • anonymous collaboration
  • marriage of words and visuals
  • individual expression of creativity
  • condensing material into a concise and memorable format
  • team building or synergy creating activity
  • enhancing work morale

Despite these direct use cases, data retrieved from mind maps can be used to enhance several other applications, for instance expert search systems, search engines and search and tag query recommender[2]. To do so, mind maps can be analysed with classic methods of information retrieval to classify a mind map's author or documents that are linked from within the mind map[2].

Mindmaps can be drawn by hand, either as "rough notes" during a lecture or meeting, for example, or can be more sophisticated in quality. An example of a rough mind map is illustrated. There are also a number of software packages available for producing mind maps.

Effectiveness in learning

Buzan[3] claims that the mind map is a vastly superior note taking method because it does not lead to a "semi-hypnotic trance" state induced by other note forms. Buzan also argues that the mind map uses the full range of left and right human cortical skills, balances the brain, taps into the alleged "99% of your unused mental potential", as well as intuition (which he calls "superlogic"). However, scholarly research suggests that such claims may actually be marketing hype based on misconceptions about the brain and the cerebral hemispheres. Critics argue that hemispheric specialization theory has been identified as pseudoscientific when applied to mind mapping.[4]

Farrand, Hussain, and Hennessy (2002) found that spider diagrams (similar to concept maps) had a limited but significant impact on memory recall in undergraduate students (a 10% increase over baseline for a 600-word text only) as compared to preferred study methods (a 6% increase over baseline). This improvement was only robust after a week for those in the diagram group and there was a significant decrease in motivation compared to the subjects' preferred methods of note taking. Farrand et al. suggested that learners preferred to use other methods because using a mind map was an unfamiliar technique, and its status as a "memory enhancing" technique engendered reluctance to apply it. Nevertheless the conclusion of the study was "Mind maps provide an effective study technique when applied to written material. However before mind maps are generally adopted as a study technique, consideration has to be given towards ways of improving motivation amongst users."[5]

Pressley, VanEtten, Yokoi, Freebern, and VanMeter (1998) found that learners tended to learn far better by focusing on the content of learning material rather than worrying over any one particular form of note taking.[6]

Tools

Mind mapping software can be used effectively to organize large amounts of information, combining spatial organization, dynamic hierarchical structuring and node folding. Software packages can extend the concept of mind mapping by allowing individuals to map more than thoughts and ideas with information on their computers and the internet, like spreadsheets, documents, internet sites and images.

Trademarks

Psychologist Edward Tolman is credited with the creation of cognitive mapping.[7] The use of the term "Mind Maps" is claimed as a trademark by The Buzan Organisation, Ltd. in the United Kingdom[8] and the United States.[9] The trademark does not appear in the records of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.[10] In the US "Mind Maps" is trademarked as a "service mark" expressly for "EDUCATIONAL SERVICES, NAMELY, CONDUCTING COURSES IN SELF-IMPROVEMENT" — other products and services are not covered by the trademark.

See also

References

  1. ^ Buzan claims mind mapping his invention in interview. KnowledgeBoard retrieved Jan. 2010.
  2. ^ a b Beel, J├Âran; Gipp, Bela; Stiller, Jan-Olaf (2009). "Information Retrieval On Mind Maps - What Could It Be Good For?". Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Collaborative Computing: Networking, Applications and Worksharing (CollaborateCom'09). Washington: IEEE. http://www.sciplore.org/publications_en.php
  3. ^ Buzan, Tony. (2000). The Mind Map Book, Penguin Books, 1996. ISBN 978-0452273221
  4. ^ Williams (2000) Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience. Facts on file. ISBN 978-0816033515
  5. ^ Farrand, P.; Hussain, F.; Hennessy, E. (2002). "The efficacy of the mind map study technique". Medical Education 36 (5): 426–431. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2923.2002.01205.x. PMID 12028392. http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/118952400/abstract. Retrieved 2009-02-16.
  6. ^ Pressley, M., VanEtten, S., Yokoi, L., Freebern, G., & VanMeter, P. (1998). "The metacognition of college studentship: A grounded theory approach". In: D.J. Hacker, J. Dunlosky, & A.C. Graesser (Eds.), Metacognition in Theory and Practice (pp. 347-367). Mahwah NJ: Erlbaum ISBN 9780805824810
  7. ^ Tolman E.C. (July 1948). "Cognitive maps in rats and men". Psychological Review 55 (4): 189–208. doi:10.1037/h0061626. PMID 18870876.
  8. ^ Trade Mark 1424476, UK Intellectual Property Office, filed Nov. 1990
  9. ^ US Trademark, USPTO Trademark Application and Registration Retrieval system
  10. ^ Canadian Intellectual Property Office
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