Thursday, December 30, 2010

Skype Adds Video-over-3G Capabilities to Its IPhone App

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was Apple. And Steve saw that it was good. Apple controlled every app installed on its iPhone, sometimes known as the Jesus phone because it was so good. Then, a serpent came into the garden, and its name was Android, and Apple saw that it was time to alter the Word. Not much of an allegory, I know, but it is a holiday week. In fact, Apple and AT&T, at first, barred Skype from its phone; then, it restricted it to WiFi calls. Now, making free Skype calls over 3G networks seems to be a nod to the coming Verizon Wireless iPhone, and it will be a boon for users. Of course, it will still use up wireless minutes for those on a plan, and WiFi will always be better when you have that capability; but, it should be interesting whether Skype can keep up with the increased traffic, given the "software" outages last week.

Please click here for Rick Georges original article.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Make Sure Your Trust Account Is Properly Insured

Thanks to Nerino Petro for posting a great article on his Compujurist blog account FDIC insurance changes for interest on lawyer trust accounts (IOLTA).

Many US attorneys have started receiving letters from their IOLTA providing banks that the IOLTA accounts no longer receive unlimited FDIC insurance as they had since enactment of the FDIC's Transaction Account Guarantee Program. This change and the reason for the notices is a direct result of the new Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act as IOLTA accounts were not included in the enacting provisions for accounts that received this insurance. Many Wisconsin Attorneys have started to receive letters similar to the following:

December 14, 2010
Dear IOLTA Account Customer,
As you know, the IOLTA account that you currently have with State Bank Financial receives unlimited FDIC insurance protection through December 31, 2010, because our institution is a participant in the FDIC’s Transaction Account Guarantee Program (TAGP). However, the TAGP program ends after December 31, 2010, therefore your insurance coverage will be changing.
Under the Dodd-Frank Act provisions recently enacted by Congress, beginning January 1, 2011, the account(s) you have with us will no longer be eligible for unlimited deposit insurance coverage. The following notice describes the change in greater detail.
All funds in a “noninterest-bearing transaction account” are insured in full by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from December 31, 2010, through December 31, 2012. This temporary unlimited coverage is in addition to, and separate from, the coverage of at least $250,000 available to depositors under the FDIC’s general deposit insurance rules.
The term “noninterest-bearing transaction account” includes a traditional checking account or demand deposit account on which the insured depository institution pays no interest. It does not include other accounts, such as traditional checking or demand deposit accounts that may earn interest, NOW accounts, money-market deposit accounts, and Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (“IOLTAs”).
For more information about temporary FDIC insurance coverage of transaction accounts, visit
If you have questions regarding the information provided in this letter, or your insurance coverage generally with any account you have with our institution, please do not hesitate to contact your account officer or myself.
Jane Hostrawser
AVP/Mgr Deposit Operations
State Bank Financial

This question came to light on the State bar of Wisconsin's Practice411 elist last week and today on itsSolo & Small Firm Practice elist. Since I became aware of this action I have undertaken some investigation which has confirmed that this change is due to the recently enacted Dodd-Frank Act.

The original and temporary unlimited increase was put into effect at the beginning of the recent financial crisis under the FDIC’s Transaction Account Guarantee Program (TGAP). However, under the new Dodd-Frank Act, IOLTA accounts are no longer included under the provision that still provides this coverage for certain accounts as had been the case under TGAP. IOLTA accounts are now back to the $250K limit. There is a movement to have this modified, but until it actually happens the FDIC has to use what has actually been enacted into law and not what some members of Congress are trying to do to amend this. (According to the latest information that our Public Affairs Director, Lisa Roys has obtained, the amendment to re-include IOLTA account s has passed the House, but is holding in the Senate.) I contacted the office of the FDIC Supervisory Counsel Joe DiNuzzo (who has worked on this matter for the FDIC and who is listed as a contact on the document I link to in the next section) and received a voice message back confirming this information. While this affects the unlimited coverage for IOLTAs, it doesn't affect the coverage for IOLTAs at the $250,000 level.

The FDIC and others have made a number of statements (confirmed by different groups including various bar associations) that most IOLTA accounts should be covered up to the maximum allowed of $250K per each client that has funds in an IOLTA account. Here is part of the October 26, 2010 Supplemental Information document from the FDIC website , on the page numbered 13 of that document, which provides:

Importantly, under the FDIC's general deposit insurance rules, IOLTAs may qualify for

"pass-though" deposit insurance coverage, so long as the regulatory requirements are

met. 12 CFR Section 330.7. That means each client for whom a law firm holds funds in

an IOL TA may be insured up to $250,000 for his or her funds. In addition, the accrued

interest to which a legal services entity or program is entitled may be separately insured

for $250,000. For example, if a law firm maintains an IOLTA with $250,000 attributable

to Client A, $150,000 to Client B and $75,000 to Client C, and the accrued interest of

$5,000 is payable to a legal services program, the account likely would be fully insured.

If the clients or the legal services entity have other funds at the same IDI, those funds

would be added to their respective ownership interest in the IOL T A for insurance

coverage purposes. But, coverage is available, generally, on a per-client basis; thus, a

generous amount of deposit insurance coverage is available for IOLTAs, absent the

availability of unlimited coverage for IOLTAs under either the TAGP or Section 343

So the only thing that is changing is the reduction from unlimited coverage for any amounts held in an IOLTA to a max of $250K for each client that has funds in a IOLTA account.

I hope this helps to explain why everyone is getting these notices.

Please click here for the original post.

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Wealthier Prospective Clients Going Online

Wondering if the internet can bring wealthier prospects to your practice? The answer is yes. Here is what Carolyn Elefant observes on her Nolo's Legal Marketing Blawg.

Marketing Statistic of the Week: Wealthier Prospects onLine

Here's the first in what will hopefully lead to a series on interesting lawyer marketing statistics or trends. We'll cull the web to uncover stats and trends from other industries, then tell you what the stat means and most importantly, how to use it in your practice.

The statistic: Ninety five percent of households earning over $75,000 use the Internet and cell phones, compared with 70 % of those living in households earning less than $75,000, and 57% in households with incomes of under $30,000.

The source: Pew Internet Reports (November 2010).

What it means: That potentially 95% of clients in households earning over $75,000 are spending at least some part of their time online. As a result, the Internet offers a powerful tool to attract this desirable demographic.

What to do about it: Well, nothing, if you're not interested in making a play for clients who might actually have the means to pay your bill. But if you're tempted by the potential of attracting a better grade of clients (at least financially speaking), for starters, you ought to at least put up a website, educate yourself about SEO and get up to speed on social media. That's a tall order if you haven't done much in the way of online marketing...but if these measures will enable you to attract better prospects, then they're time and money well spent.

Please click here for the original article.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Speaking Engagements REALLY Work, If You Work At It!

On his Legal Marketing Blog, Tom Kane offers motivational thoughts on public speaking:

Speaking engagements make my top 10 list of best marketing practices. Like writing articles, columns or books, speaking adds the additional advantage of putting you in the same room with potential clients where you can demonstrate your knowledge and expertise AND develop an emotional bond with your audience. Moreover, if the seminar or speech is sponsored by a respected organization, you receive instant credibility because of that association.

The benefits of speaking include:

  • A captive audience to connect with and, if your talk is topical and interesting (heaven help us that is not) to attendees;
  • Personally interact, during your speech, and any networking opportunities, with attendees that can help build relationships. and
  • The opportunity to subtlety provide information about your practice and your law firm.

So, what can you do to put yourself in a position to speak to your target audience(s)? You can start with:

  1. Researching organizations that your clients and desired prospects belong to, and contact their conference planning chair to ask to get on their speaking panel on topics relevant to their members and in your area of expertise;
  2. Prepare a top flight presentation, that does not come across as a sales pitch;
  3. Keep your video presentation, whether PowerPoint or otherwise, short sweet and to the point (few words per slide with engaging pictures) as the slides should be a tool not the presentation.

Following your presentation you MUST follow up. Do this by promising to send additional information or respond to questions, if the attendees will provide their email address, business card, or other contact information. And if you obtained contact information from them, send them a handwritten note (preferably), letter, email (last choice), or telephone them about your in-person discussion with them.

Bottom line: speaking engagements are still very effective business development techniques. But you must prepare, present well, and most importantly, follow up.

Please click here for the original article.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

20 Entrepreneurs Share How They Get Referrals

Dan Janal has a great post on his PR LEADS blog for referral generation:

For my new book on how to get more leads and referrals, I asked my followers for tips. Here are the answers. If you’d like to suggest your ideas, please click this link and I’ll send you a copy of the electronic version of the book — plus you get great publicity!

1. Referrals By Writing Answers To Questions

I answer questions at and get at least four new contacts for my contact list every day.
I can show off my expertise and people who would never do a search learn about me and what I offer.
During the seven years that I have been writing for the site I have earned at least two new corporate
contracts a year that I would never have had otherwise.

Thanks to Cynthia Lett of The Lett Group

2. The Power Of Social Networking, Or, How Bad Sinuses Helped Me Land A Board Position

Earlier this year I decided to follow some marketing advice that I read a while back. The article said that our service providers like doctors, dentists, and others don’t know what kind of work we do unless we tell them.

I followed up diligently and looked for my doctors on Facebook, with the intent of connecting with them to request referrals. Much to my surprise, I found the doctor who performed my sinus surgery in 2008.

This person had exactly four friends on Facebook at that time and I actually knew one of them! The man I recognized worked at GE when I was an engineer there in 1984. I contacted this former co-worker via Facebook and received a very enthusiastic response. In fact, he was so enthusiastic that he invited me to join the board of directors for a local nonprofit technology group.

I never thought in all these forty-plus years of having lousy sinuses that my condition would lead to a board position. That is the power of social networking.

Thanks to Monica Johns of Clarity Management Consulting

3. Don’t Spam. Look, Listen, And Read Before You Send.

Journalists and bloggers are overwhelmed with p.r. spam and inappropriate pitches. Alienate one of them, and they can do something worse than ignoring you: they can publish a denunciation that may live forever as one of the first things people find when they search for your name. Before you call, e-mail, or send a message on Twitter to a journalist or blogger, familiarize yourself with what they write about, and how, to make sure your pitch is appropriate. Different journalists and bloggers have different preferences. Look for a “How To Pitch me Page” or the like on their Web site, or instructions on their contact page about how they prefer to be contacted. If there’s nothing explicit, look at their home page and read the last few entries and the category labels in their blog. Beware of purchased or rented media lists or media directories — even the “reputable” ones include inaccurate, unverified information scraped from the Web.

Thanks to Edward Hasbrouck of

4. Consistent Quality Content

Consistently Tweet and post high quality content that your target market needs and values and leads and referrals will follow.

Thanks to Martin Soorjoo of Investor Pitch Clinic LLC

5. Less Is More

Way too many people have very short attention spans. If content does not grab within a short time period (ranging from a few seconds to 2 minutes), the reader exits. So this tip is to make the message meaningful in as few words as possible WITH the opportunity for the reader to ask for more. In addition, make sure images do not dominate the page and hide the content of your message.

Thanks to Richard Oppenheim of

6. Stop Wasting Valuable Networking Time

I use to automate my relationship marketing. They keep in touch with all the contacts I make that don’t have an obvious direct path to the sale. These are the people I meet at networking events and parties but that don’t really fit on my email newsletter list because they aren’t interested in my products. Once or twice a month, Happy Grasshopper sends them a message from “me”. (My contacts will never know!)

Before reading any further, look at the corner of your desk. Is there a pile of business cards there? No? Check your drawers, pockets or glove box. Those cards belong to the hundreds of people you have smiled for, chatted with, listened to, and vowed to follow up with – BUT DIDN’T – because you don’t have time to stay in touch with people who aren’t likely to buy. Happy Grasshopper does a good job of keeping in touch for me and it’s really inexpensive too – just $19 a month. Hope this helps…


Dan Stewart

Thanks to Dan Stewart of Happy Grasshopper

7. Use A Service Like Reporter Connection To Get Leads On Fresh Content

I use Reporter Connection as an expert looking for publicity, and also as a journalist looking for experts. I learned a long time ago that the only way to acquire loyal customers on the Internet was to establish trust by consistently publishing quality content. Anyone that has ever kept a blog knows that creating good content for a long period of time can be hard.

I have had great success generating good content by interviewing struggling business owners who have vowed never to quit. And how do I find all those struggling business owners you might ask? I posted a journalist query on Reporter Connection, in which I asked for feedback from people that have succeeded in life and business by vowing to never quit. The query generated over 60 good leads.

Doing the interviews has not only gotten me good and original content, but it has helped me to establish a great relationship with the people I interviewed. I firmly believe that we can only succeed by first helping others.

Thanks to Sara Morgan of Custom Solutions

8. Landing Page Link Love

Instead of having your single Twitter link go to your website home page, or blog home page, send it to a unique landing page. Use a similar approach for FB and LI. Because each site will attract a different potential customer, you can customize your landing page to their unique characteristics and needs. Even better, start split testing to see which landing page for each social media channel gets the best results.

Thanks to Nicole Fende of Small Business Finance Forum

9. Business Networking Program At Church In Sacramento

A friend and I started a Business Networking Program at our church, Spiritual Life Center in Sacramento CA. We meet monthly with each guest sharing information about their business. We are also in the process of developing an on-line directory of all of the business people. We then plan to put together a printed directory so the members of our church look first at the directory when they need services. Marie Wilson, Wellness Coach. Website: www.MarieWilson.Info.

Thanks to Marie Wilson of Wilson Enterprises, Inc.

10. Getting Leads By Participating In Forums

Only respond when you can add something new to the conversation. When you leave a comment, lead with your strength. For example, if you have new research findings, use those in your answer. If you’re good at diagnosing a problem, start there. Result: you’ll be known for something specific, instead of just being smart. Folks there will then know how to refer (or work with you.) There’s a difference between being helpful and showing your brand.

Thanks to Vickie Sullivan of Sullivan Speaker Services Inc.

11. Anchor Your Keywords For More Traffic To Your Website.

The best tip I learned from Barbara Rozgonyi was to use your main keyword phrase within the headline and body of a press release. If you create an anchor link for that phrase that links back to your website, it increases the traffic to your site for that keyword phrase.

Gail Doby, ASID, is a Business Shortcut. She helps busy Interior Designers build a more profit and passion-filled business. Gail is an NCIDQ certified designer with more than 20 years of experience in estate home construction and renovation.

Thanks to Gail Doby of Design Success University

12. Find The Pain; Create Customer Gain!

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter provide search capabilities that let you zero in on the topic(s) in which you are an expert. Use these tools to narrow the field, then review the results returned. Look for conversations where you can help a person with a question or who may have a problem creating pain for them/their business. Then, give your best help without selling.

When you respond in ways that acknowledge their pain and provide viable solutions [without selling], your professional expertise and generosity speak for you. Louder than any marketing message you might send.

The more you do this, the more your reputation for being a go-to person on that subject will spread. For every person who asks a question on LinkedIn for example, hundreds have the same question and just haven’t asked it yet. You can answer those questions. Similarly, you can reply to others’ questions on Twitter and Facebook in a helpful way. Answer once and post it on all 3 sites for even more coverage!

Thanks to Linda Lopeke of SMARTSTART

13. Join A Cause And Help Others

Think about how good you feel when you’re able to help another person or be part of something bigger than yourself. Get referrals by inviting people into a mission of service. You can ask members of your “tribe” to help you help others by identifying those who could benefit from your content. For example, my new Pain Stompers system helps people make a positive difference when someone they care about is in pain–whether physical, emotional or financial pain. At the end of the blog posts, press releases or newsletter articles– with social media links– I say, “Do you know anyone trying to figure out the best way to help? Please forward this post to them and invite them to my site for more.”

Thanks to Vicki Rackner of

14. Dive In!

You won’t get results from LinkedIn by sitting on the edge of the pool. Join as many LinkedIn groups that fit your target audience. Then become an active participant in discussions. Start discussions that will be of interest to your audience, and give you a chance to share your expertise. Always give value. People will get to know your face, and you will be perceived as a valuable resource. Wouldn’t you rather do business with someone you know? Dive in and put LinkedIn to work for you!

Thanks to Pam Alexandra of Positive Action Coaching

15. Include More Than The Simple Facts For Your Twitter Profile

Want to have lots of Twitter followers? I have almost 24,000. Make sure your profile includes your photo to show you are a real person. Also what do you want the reader steps to take with you and your business? Tell them. My profile includes my name, location (important) and website and I say, “Communications Expert, Author, Information Marketer, Publisher. I love to help writers. Let me know how I can help YOU!” I’m inviting direct interaction. Plus I use TweetAdder as an affordable twitter-building tool: It is easy to use and automates much of the drudgery of it.

Thanks to Terry Whalin of

16. Gain Topic Mastery Through A Targeted LinkedIn Group

Creating a LinkedIn Group on your specific area of expertise can work dramatically to bring attention to your business — whether on a local or global level. Start discussions on a variety of related topics and be sure to recognize and acknowledge new members and respondents. I encourage them to add their expertise or ask questions to the group to generate interaction. The more targeted your group name, the more likely you’ll attract serious hot prospects or JV partners for future ventures. Be sure to respond to the discussions and actively contribute your insights to the group. Through my Child-Centered Divorce LinkedIn group I’ve made many new business connections, new partners to collaborate with and sold new trainings as well as products — around the world. This is easy 24-hour marketing that works to the degree that YOU work it!

Thanks to Rosalind Sedacca of Child-Centered Divorce

17. Catching Your Clients Comments Before They Leave!

I think the best way to use the internet is by making your blog accessible for your clients. I will be starting a blog available right in my office for clients to comment on after their massage. They will more likely refer people to the site as well as visit themselves when they have writtten something personal.

Thanks to Ethelyn Hinrichs of AhhSpaMassage

18. Getting More From Each Of Your Leads

While most businesses focus on getting more leads, and let’s face it that’s a major way to grow your business, most overlook a simple strategy that can increase your profits without increasing the size of your customer-base.

The more focused your niche, and the more closely-tailored your products are to that niche, the more money you can charge. Let me give you a highly simplified example:

Marketing Guide: $9.00
Marketing Guide for Realtors: $29.00
Marketing Guide for Vacation Residence Realtors: $129.00
Marketing Guide for Beach Front Vacation Residence Realtors: $329.00
Marketing Guide for Miami Beach Front Vacation Residence Realtors: $929.00

You get the idea. This concept can be applied to any marketing niche you care to name and it is the secret to attracting more customers who are looking for exactly what you’re selling, and who are prepared to pay a high price fro what you have on offer.

Thanks to Patricia Skinner of ISpeakSEO

19. Listen To Your Audience

One of the best ways to use social media is to LISTEN to your audience. Instead of telling others to check out your latest blog post or visit your website, it’s more effective to build a relationship first. Compliment someone on their article or ask them a question about their website.

I did this and it led to my Exit Planning column on Feel free to take a look at my articles in the Exit Planning section or visit my website on for timely information on how to grow and exit your business.

-Gary T Brooks

GROW your business while PLANNING your exit.

Thanks to Gary Brooks of Exit Plan Pros

20. Using The Facebook Notes Feature To Generate Unexpected Referrals

One specific strategy we use to generate referrals is by taking advantage of facebook’s notes feature. Using notes allows us to automatically feature actionable content on our wall (speaking opportunities). This kind of content encourages our “fans” to check back often to see if an opportunity is right for them. If they decide to dig deeper they will find that a membership is required to submit an application. What we’ve discovered is that even if the speaker is not a good fit for a job opportunity we’re announcing, our fans will often refer a colleague who may be a better fit to check out the details. These referrals have led to new customers we might not have had otherwise. How to: On your fan page go to the “notes” section (located at the top and sometimes hidden from plain view). You will then see an option to “edit import settings.” All you have to do is enter in your rss feed and click save. You can see this in action at

Thanks to Paul Ellul of SpeakerMatch

Please click here to read the original article.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Using Acrobat instead of Powerpoint?

From one of our fan favorites, Ernie Svenson and his PDF for Lawyers blog, comes another winner. Using Acrobat for presentations rather than Powerpoint. Here is what Ernie writes:

Most people would never imagine that they could use Acrobat to do presentations like the ones created in Powerpoint. And many of the few who could imagine such a thing might ask "Why would I want to?" Let me address both questions, starting with the second one first.

Obviously, those of you who are adept at creating elaborate Powerpoint presentations with internal builds and clever transitions aren't going to switch to Acrobat to do a presentation. But if all you want to do is show a series of slides in sequence, with simple transitions, then listen up.

The first step is to create a PDF document with the things you want to display in order, page-by-page. Once you have your display pages sequenced inside of one PDF, the next part is easy. If you want to set transitions between the pages, select the following menu choices ADVANCED > DOCUMENT PROCESSING > PAGE TRANSITIONS (depicted in the screenshot below).

SnagIT 1

You have choices for how quickly each transition will take (slow, medium, or fast). You can also set it up so that the pages transition automatically after a set number of seconds, and that the slideshow will only apply to a certain range of pages (see the dialogue box below).

Set Transitions

Once you've got the transitions set to your liking, you just open the PDF and then select VIEW > FULL SCREEN MODE (or choose the shortcut: CONTROL + L on a PC, or COMMAND + L on a Mac). That's it. Dead simple to set up and use.

So, now other than simplicity why would you do this? First of all, there are less compatibility problems if you're going to be showing the slides on a computer that's not yours. Many seminar organizers will require attendees to send in their slides beforehand, and then load them into the computer being used to project so that the speakers can just walk up and do their thing. More than once I've seen speakers aghast that their carefully crafted Powerpoint slides were somehow mangled, and the fonts changed into garish text. This wouldn't happen if you used a PDF file.

Ah, but you say "What if the seminar presenters don't have Acrobat on their computer?" Well, that would be a problem. But if they have Adobe Reader then you could use that. Since the Reader program is free to download, just make it a point to tell them to load that on the computer and you'll be good to go.
And, lastly, I should point out that while you can't do builds within a slide, you can embed a movie file if you want (see example below).

Long Boring Contract - TEST.pdf

You have to use the "multimedia" tool in Acrobat which will take the movie file, convert to Flash, and then embed it. When you get to that slide you just have to click on the "Play" icon and the movie will play. You can then proceed on to the next slide.

I've even been able to use wireless remotes to advance slides on my Mac computer; but I can't vouch for how this works on Windows computers so test it before your talk and see if that works for you.

Please click here for the original article.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

AT&T Is The Worst Carrier In The U.S. According To Consumer Reports

I have an iPhone, that I love! My Carrier is AT&T, which I hate! AT&T's coverage stinks. The community that I live and work in used to have two AT&T cell towers. Two years ago one crashed down during a severe winter storm. AT&T never bothered to replace it. Now half of our city suffers with 1 bar or less of AT&T coverage.

I am not alone in my frustration (and yes I am also befuddled at why a quality conscious company like Apple would ever partner with a service provider as crappy as AT&T -- Steve Jobs what were you thinking, despite the money they paid you?) Consumer Reports as placed AT&T dead last in just about every rating category.

Among the top carriers in the U.S., AT&T is the worst by a healthy margin. The news comes from this year’s Consumer Reports reader survey, which ranks Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile along with some regional carriers. Verizon Wireless was ranked as the nation’s top major carrier, though its score of 74 positions it in the No. 2 spot overall behind U.S. Cellular. Readers were asked to grade each carrier on several criteria including value, voice service quality, data service quality and customer support. The ratings were on a scale of “Worse” to “Better,” with three increments in between. AT&T received the lowest possible rating of “Worse” in eight out of nine categories, managing too eke out a next-to-lowest rating for SMS service quality. In response to the survey, AT&T had this to say:

We take this seriously and we continually look for new ways to improve the customer experience. The fact is wireless customers have choices and a record number of them chose AT&T in the third quarter, significantly more than our competitors. Hard data from independent drive tests confirms AT&T has the nation’s fastest mobile broadband network with our nearest competitor 20 percent slower on average nationwide and our largest competitor 60 percent slower on average nationwide. And, our dropped call rate is within 1/10 of a percent – the equivalent of just one call in a thousand – of the industry leader.

Smartphones were also ranked in the same issue of Consumer Reports, and all but one of the top devices in the country are powered by Android. In fact each of the four variants of Samsung’s Galaxy S smartphone received top honors, either solely (Sprint’s Epic 4G, T-Mobile’s Vibrant) or as part of a tie — the Fascinate tied the Motorola DROID X for the No. 1 spot on Verizon Wireless, and Captivate tied the Apple iPhone 4 on AT&T.

Please click here for Zach Epstein's original article at Boy Genius Report.

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Dialer One (Android) - Lawyer Time Saver

From Rick Georges at the FutureLawyer blog we learn about a time saving contact finder/dialer for Android users.

Dialer One (Android). Dialerone We lawyers spend a lot of time on the phone. We also spend a lot of time mobile. Put those together, and the actual phone functions of the smart phone become the most important part of our mobile computing experience. So, if you use the mobile phone app that comes with your Android phone, you are constantly annoyed by the hoops you have to go through to find a particular contact. First, you have to click the phone icon. Then, you have to click or say Search. Then, you have to start typing the characters that begin the first or last name. Or, you have to start scrolling with A, and, sometime later, much later, you will get to Joe Zanzibar. Ugh. Well, another Russian programmer has come to the rescue, with a T9 clone called Dialer One. It puts your most common contacts on screen, and includes a phone style keyboard, with letters on the keys. Just start tapping keys with the letters you need. You know the drill. 3 taps on the 1 key for a C, and so forth. Now, you will spend a lot less time looking for that contact number.

Please click here for the original article.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

More iPad Apps for Lawyers

Here is Part 2 of Josh Barrett's Table Legal blog article on iPad apps for lawyers (by the way, if you have an iPad you should be a regular reader of Josh's blog. Great Stuff!)

This is the second installment in my multi-part series about basic apps to turn your iPad into a serviceable work machine. We aren’t tackling special needs here, just the basics. Last time we considered file storage and access. This time we’re looking at apps to help with the stock in trade for many lawyers: writing.

Writing. Lets get one thing out of the way right now: Microsoft Word isn’t a writing tool, it is a formatting tool. When you need to write – and I mean seriously get words out of your head and down on paper (or into electrons) – any “features” not having solely to do with the act of writing are just distractions. The tools in today’s post are just about writing. Everything captured with these apps can be pasted into a Word doc when the time comes for formatting. Until then, use these apps to crank out the words.

Since you are writing on your iPad, it probably means you are from behind your desktop: coffee shop, park, hotel, conference room, whatever. In all likelihood, what you draft on the iPad isn’t the version being sent to the client or filed in court.

There are lots of great apps coming out in is area, but four top my recommended list. Right now the app getting the most use on my iPad is PlainText (iTunes link). In fact, I’m drafting is post in PlainText right now. PlainText is a basic text editor that works with Dropbox (I told you to get Dropbox). The interface is clean and straightforward: files on the left third and drafting window on the right two-thirds. The drafting window can be expanded fill the screen eliminating everything but your text. The interface has an appealing ivory color – like high quality linen paper – which is easier on the eyes than a white background. All your files are stored in your Dropbox for later use. Plaintext also works with TextExpander (iTunes link) (which I’ve talked about before). Best of all, PlainText is absolutely free.

A close second to PlainText is Simplenote (iTunes link). Rather than syncing files with Dropbox, Simplenote syncs with a web service giving you to access your files from from any browser. Simplenote contains a number of other features including the ability to send text directly out of the app in an email, tagging, versioning, and search. Have cases or statutesnyou use frequently? Paste each into a separate text files so you can search across them easily. The really distinguishing feature of Simplenote is the ability to share files with others for simultaneous collaboration via the web. Simple note also works with TextExpander. The Simplenote app and web service are both free.


Two other Dropbox based sync options worth considering. Many people like Second Gear Software’s Elements (iTunes link). Elements has more features than PlainText (including search) but does not have the collaboration tools like Simplenote. One distinguishing feature of Elements is the ability to preview Markdown text and HTML (which is probably meaningless except for those few lawyers that need to write for the web). Elements is $4.99.



A new app in this area for me is Information Architects Writer (iTunes link). Writer is another Dropbox sync text editor with a few unique features. Writer probably does the best job of all the apps I’ve listed here in terms of creating the best environment for writing. What you notice immediately when using the app is a beautiful monospaced font that was custom created and optimized for use on the iPad. While most everything printed in the legal world is in some variant of Times Roman, such fonts do not perform well on screen (after a few hours in front of a screen with a well designed font, you will see what a difference it can make). Writer also offers a focus mode that blurs out all but the last few lines of text so you are not distracted and drawn backwards into your previous work. The final notable feature about Writer is an extra row of buttons added to the iPad’s virtual keyboard. These extra keys facilitate navigation and certain frequently used punctuation marks. Writer is $4.99.

I currently have all of these apps on my iPad. The app getting the most use for drafting (first versions of correspondence, contracts) is Writer. The interface, font and focus mode are all helpful to my writing process. When I write for this blog, I like the ability to preview my HTML or markdown, so Elements is great for its ability to preview that type of formatting. I’ve used a 37Signals Writeboard for my other collaborative drafting projects, but I plan to try this feature in Simplenote next time I have an opportunity. I use PlainText for note taking in client meetings. In these situations, I’m more in transcription mode than drafting mode, rarely even looking at the screen. So, the minimal feature set of PlainText is appropriate in this case.

Those are my writing recommendations for a lawyer on the iPad. Next time I’ll be looking at calculators. Fascinating stuff, I know, but Apple didn’t include a calculator with the iPad and there are times where even lawyers need to add things up.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Samsung Galaxy Tab sales top 1 million units

Less than two months after the Galaxy Tab first became available, Samsung announced that global sales of its Android tablet have surpassed the 1 million mark. The South Korea-based company has increased its 2010 sales projections to 1.5 million units as a result. Just over two weeks ago, reports emerged that Samsung had sold 600,000 Galaxy Tab units, which means sales have picked up ahead of the holidays. The Android-powered Galaxy Tab features a 7-inch touchscreen display, a 1GHz Hummingbird processor and dual cameras; and it is currently sold by 120 carriers in 64 countries.

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Try Out Android Before You Buy - For Tinkerers Only

Android or iPhone? How about you give Android a test drive to find out? Thanks to Richard M. "Rick" Georges, at his FutureLawyer blog, for this post. This is an interesting idea. Suppose you want to know what all the Android fuss is about; but, you don't want to buy a new smart phone and find that you don't like it. What to do? This company has created a downloadable virtual Android machine that you can load on your Windows desktop. The version isn't Froyo, (it runs as Android 2.1.1), and you can't download stuff from the Android Market, but there are plenty of sites available to download and try the Android versions of many apps. If you like it, you are now familiar with the OS, and can focus your buying decision on the phone's form factor, or manufacturer, or wireless provider. For example, I am a Verizon Wireless Droid and Droid X user. I also have an HTC Incredible on Big Red. However, there are dozens of Android choices out there, and the Android tablets are finally here. This is Alpha software, so don't expect a finished product. However, it will give you a real look and feel at what Android is about.

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Solo nets Supreme Court win!

I know this has nothing to do with technology, but I think it is pretty cool. Andrew Simpson is a sole practitioner in the U.S. Virgin Is...