Passover – Rabbinical Mandated Spring Cleaning – For the Law Office

Passover-Spring-Cleaning

Every year, I engage in a little ritual I like to call “rabbincally mandated spring cleaning” – in other words, turning my kitchen over for Passover.  One of the most interesting things about pulling out my Passover dishes and pots each year is that I get to read year old newspapers.  It is always rather comforting to read about some horrific event that was happening in the world a year ago and realize we survived it.  This year, as I was taking out my Passover stuff and glancing over the year-old newspapers, I was struck with a thought.  Everything has a history, even news stories.  And sometimes, things that seem extremely important at one time turn out to be not so important later on.

Software has history.  Especially the software that we use in our daily business life.  And sometimes, in the urge to immediately solve a present issue with fascinating new software, we skip over history.  Let’s say, two years ago, your office installed a up to the minute Practice Management System, such as Time Matters or TABS/Practice Master.  After the pain and agony of initial setup, it was wonderful – a real step forward.  But, fast forward two years and that wonderful practice management software system begins to look as antiquated as last year’s newspaper stories.  You’re ready to move to The Cloud – chuck out the old, in with the new.

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Getting an Early Start on the Garden – Moving Indoors

Moving indoors

These days, Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate.  After a mild winter, spring seemed to arrive early.  I was out on my hammock soaking in the sunlight only a few weeks ago.  I got ambitious and turned over the soil in the raised beds for my vegetable and herb garden.  Last year I started the garden too late, only to have many plants dry out in the heat before hitting full fruit.  I wasn’t going to make that mistake again.  But then, Mother Nature played a joke on me (and all of us in the Northern part of the U.S.).  We had 3 successive days of below freezing temperatures, including actual snow on the ground in April.  Egads!!!!  Add so I pulled out my Jung Seed catalog.  Instead of just getting seeds, I loaded up on starter soil, biodegradeable seed kits, and deck planters.

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Guest Feature: The Ultimate Paralegal

Android Headshot

As we all know, paralegals are an essential component of the legal profession today.  But, there is a drawback – aren’t they just a little bit too “human”.

Still in R&D but very exciting – The Paralegal of the 21st Century from Japan Industries.  21Para, as the prototype is called is more than a robot – it is a completely actualized and optimized Paralegal.  Using a simple in-office procedure, a computer chip is inserted into your Paralegal’s brain.  The chip will allow your Paralegals to bypass the necessity for physical computer and keyboard by becoming computers themselves.

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Gadget Watch – Meet the Squirrel Buster

SquirrelBuster and Bird Hook

I am lucky that my office looks out on a wooded area with a lake.  We often see ducks and other waterfowl cavorting in the lake and hunting for food.  The occasional neighbor’s dog, white tailed deer, or even a coyote strolls into the yard for our diversion.  We see birds, woodpeckers and others, but they are often camouflaged in the trees.  I had thought about bird feeders, but had been worried that I would spend more time feeding the grey squirrels, rather than feeding actual birds.

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Women and Computers by Rose Rowland

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
Many years ago, there was a book called “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” which became wildly popular.  Since it was so popular, Basha ripped it off for a lovely little article called “If Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus – how do you sell computers  (really software) on Venus?”.  The basic gist of the article was that men and women view and use computers and software differently.  Men were more excited by the gee whiz  aspect of new software while women looked at computers as a necessary work tool.

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Life is not a struggle. It’s a wiggle

Words of Wisdom from the Waffle House

Wisdom can come from anywhere if you are open to it.  For me, wisdom came from a trip to the Waffle House on Airline Drive in New Orleans.  We have just returned from a mini-vacation in New Orleans, with the family.  Yes, we took the “family” to New Orleans … probably should have left them behind (Bourbon Street isn’t exactly kid-friendly).  And so we found ourselves driving to the airport on Easter Sunday … and nothing was open but the Waffle House.  And so, we found ourselves drinking french roast and downing a double hash-browns with cheese and tops, with grits and chocolate pecan waffles.

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Time Matters Tip – Integration Broken After Windows Upgrade

This issue has been popping up from time to time. It affects those who are diligent with their windows updates. If you have found that Word or Outlook integration just doesn’t work and gives a cryptic error, try the tips below. The issue is when the TM Plugins for Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) give the following error: “Unable to Load Time Matters Integration.”

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Windows 10 – Same Machine, Increased Speed

windows-10 On Basha WorkstationI recently took the plunge on my primary workstation and clicked the Upgrade to Windows 10. I have been using Windows 10 on a Surface Pro 3 for over a year, but had delayed switching throughout the office. I had been using Windows 8.1 with Classic Start Menu enabled.

Apart from the hour it took for the PC to process the upgrade, there was very little I had to do. Of course, my Classic Start Menu was disabled, but then again Windows 10 essentially restored the Classic Start Menu found in Windows 7, and then threw some tiles on as an option. But what was surprising was that the computer seems to be “zippier”.  I believe it is ultimately a programming trick, but programs load and start faster.

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Practice Management in the Cloud and on the Desktop

Man-shouting-at-computerIt has been five years since I first started exploring cloud options for lawyers. In that time there has been much progress, but actually less than I expected. I have seen a proliferation of new products for lawyers, but found that most of them lack the maturity of the client/server desktop solutions. At the same time, I have seen a stagnation in the desktop solutions, a failure to embrace change, a failure to innovate.

Selected by Technolawyer BlawgWorld Pick of the Week

I don’t intend to identify specific products, but rather to address the trends that I am seeing. The desktop solutions have mostly shifted to maintenance mode. This is reflected in their pricing models which emphasize annual maintenance and support plans. There is less emphasis on new marketing initiatives, and more on “insurance”. If you want support on your current system, keep current on your payments. This shift to annualized revenue, in my mind, is very healthy. It shifts the incentives to making sure the product is stable and dependable. It rewards incremental improvements, over splashy remakes. It keeps the company in regular contact with its client base.

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HotDocs Tip – Parse City, State, Zip from Address

HotDocsTip_ConvertCSZ_SnipIn our work in HotDocs, we often need to bring in defective and malformed data from databases.  Often the data source contains an address field or fields.  Ideally, it will be formatted with Street, City, State and Zip as separate fields.  However, more often, the data is not properly structured for analysis and usage.  We may get address line 1 and address line 2 or even address line 3.  To put this data into a usable format requires an understanding of text parsing.

With the use of the Custom Functions properties of HotDocs Computations, we have defined a way to parse the Address Line text which is in the [CityName], [StateAbbrev] [ZipCode] format in a line into the 3 separate constituent fields, respectively tmpCity, tmpState, and tmpZip.  We pass a parameter, prmCSZ which contains the address string.  The output sets the tmp fields which can then be used in a dialog script or other computation to set the actual fields you wish to use.

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