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Google Reader Adds a Search Feature 7 September 2007

Posted by lawvol in blogging, RSS readers, technology, Web 2.0.
1 comment so far

Somewhat to my surprise, and without any fanfare from the folks at Google have added a search feature to Google Reader. For those of us that use Google Reader for their RSS feeds, this is a wonderful addition. GTD Wannabe (See
GTD Wannabe, “Getting More out of Google Reader Search”) has a wonderful review of the new features posted. I must say that I have been hoping for search capability for a while and this is most welcome.

If you are a Google Reader user, go check out GTD Wannabe’s article, or give it a try for yourself.

 

                                    maf

Speed Filer 2.0 – A Great Tool Just Got Better… 14 August 2007

Posted by lawvol in Blawg, GTD, legal technology, Plug-ins and Tools, Productivity, Uncategorized.
8 comments

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Claritude Software‘s Speed Filer, which at the time was in version 1.1.2. See Mere Dictum, 26 July 2007. Since then, the folks at Claritude have released Speed Filer version 2.0 Professional, and it has some great added features that make this wonderful tool even better.

First, while version 1.1.2 was a huge timesaver, each time Outlook was opened, there was a slight delay as Speed Filer loaded up and scanned all the existing mail folders. Version 2.0 now loads in seconds, and without a delay for the Speed Filer splash screen. While a momentary delay is rarely a huge issue, it does make it much easier and quicker to simply start Outlook and send a quick email (especially if you are like me and often remember that ONE email I need to send at the end of the day – after I’ve shut Outlook down). The new version, according to the software documentation now scans the folders in the background as you work, rather than at Outlook startup. As a result, the program is less obtrusive in that it isn’t in the “foreground” at startup.

Next, Speed Filer 2.0 now allows you to file reply emails directly into a folder with the email to which they reply. Thus, there is no need to go back and file the original email after you have sent a reply. The interface for this is the same remarkably simple one used in the previous version, plus the added bonus of a new series of check boxes in the menu bar (in my case the Ribbon in Outlook 2007), which allows you to check whether you want to file the original with the reply or not. This is a wonderful timesaving feature in that it allows you to read an email, respond to it, and file them both away in one easy step.

Speed Filer2.0 Menu Check Boxes

Most importantly (and impressively) Speed Filer 2.0 now has “intelligent folders” which allows it to analyze your email habits and figure out where you want to file a message before you tell it. I must be honest, I was a little skeptical about how well this feature would work before I tried it out, but it really works. I have absolutely no idea exactly how it can conclude that an email with a cryptic subject to an attorney with whom I have multiple cases should be placed in precisely the right folder, before I have even finished writing the message. It is uncanny, but it is an absolutely fabulous feature which is a huge timesaver. You will see, most of the time Speed Filer 2.0 knows where I want to file a message before I do. Of course, if for some reason I want to file the message elsewhere, I still have the option to select a different folder by simply typing a few letters of the folder name (and it’s a fuzzy search, so it need not be the start of the name) and Speed Filer will automatically sort to that folder.

Speed Filer 2.0 adds tabs to the “File Message in” pop-up window, which makes it easier to drill down to your desired folder in a variety of ways, especially if you are a mouse devotee. Still, the strength of the interface lies with the keyboard and the ability to simply tap out a few letters and have Speed Filer automatically take you to the folder you want (assuming it didn’t already figure out where you wanted it). The “File Message in” window now also allows you to “Send and Delete” messages which you have no need to file. This is great in preventing your Sent Items folder from filling up with miscellaneous “throw-away” emails which we all send.

Speed Filer 2.0 “File Message In” Menu

These are just a few of the features of Speed Filer 2.0, and everything that was available in 1.1.2 is still there. As I said when I reviewed the prior version, I have tried numerous email filing applets and utilities, and none of them are as easy to use, lightweight, efficient, and effective as Speed Filer 2.0 Professional.

The cost for Speed Filer Professional 2.0 is $39.95 while the Personal version is $24.95. The Personal version is remarkably similar to version 1.1.2, and would be fine for most home users. The Professional version, on the other hand, is powerful and simple—in my opinion it is an excellent value for your software dollar.

If you haven’t tried Speed Filer, you really should. I will all but guarantee that you will definitely want to purchase the program at the end of the 30 day free trial. For more information, visit the Claritude Software site, or Speed Filer creator Itzy Sabo’s blog Email Overloaded.

maf

*** The author did not receive any compensation for this review. ***

Techno Lawyer BlawgWorld 2007: A Great Resource for all in the Legal World 31 July 2007

Posted by lawvol in Blawg, Law, law 2.0, law practice, legal productivity, legal tech, legal technology, technology.
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Once again, the folks at TechnoLawyer and the TechnoLawyer Blog have released their yearly Blawg and legal technology round-up and information storehouse: BlawgWorld 2007. This year, however, there is even more good information than in years past, and a totally new format which is as easy to use as it is impressive.


BlawgWorld 2007

This year the editors at TechnoLawyer have put together two separate eBooks in one single file. The first part of this year’s offering includes a collection of 77 of the best articles from around the legal blawgsphere on a wide array of subjects impacting lawyers, law firms, and those involved in legal technology. There is a bevy of information in these articles, and they are truly an invaluable tool to a practitioner, a law firm manager, or legal IT consultant.

Second, BlawgWorld 2007 includes the “TechnoLawyer Problem & Solution Guide” which includes information on a wide variety of solution providers. Now admittedly, a great deal of the information in the Problem & Solution guide is advertising by various third-party providers, but the information contained in these offerings is really useful—especially for legal professionals who need information on help and solutions and don’t have the time to look all over the web or phone book. While I know that some have criticized this as little more than a lengthy collection of ads, (See
Robert J. Ambrogi’s: BlawgWorld 2007: I Still Don’t Get It) I must respectfully disagree, and mirror the words of Ross Kodner in praising TechnoLawyer for putting together a fabulous resource which can serve as an excellent resource for every lawyer who uses a computer. (See
Ross Ipsa Loquitur: Responding to Legal Blog Watch’s Critique of BlawgWorld 2007 E-Book)

BlawgWord 2007 is available in PDF format, includes a series linked indexes, and—joy of joys—is completely text searchable. For those who typically eschew eBooks, don’t be discouraged, Blawg World 2007 is remarkably readable and easy to navigate.

On top of all of that, it is absolutely free!

It is truly worth the time to download and give BlawgWorld 2007 a look. It is a really wonderful offering.

                                    maf

Click to Download BlawgWorld 2007

Ammunition for Battling your Inbox: Speed Filer by Claritude Software 26 July 2007

Posted by lawvol in Blawg, GTD, legal productivity, legal technology, Plug-ins and Tools, Uncategorized.
2 comments

Like many attorneys, I am constantly dealing with large volumes of email. For more than a year now, I have been trying to keep my emails organized by using a series of folders for each of my active and archived case files. I put these folders into a personal file folder in Outlook, mainly to reduce the space they occupy on my firm’s email server. Still, this sort of sorting takes time when you have more than a handful of active matters. When you add to that a variety of other folders for personal and topical emails, the fix can become as bad as the problem.

Enter my new favorite plug-in: Claritude Software’s Speed Filer. This wonderful little add-on allows you to automatically organize your email as you go with just a few keystrokes or mouse clicks. It integrates directly into both Outlook 2003 and 2007, and adds buttons to aid in navigation, and overrides the Outlook keystrokes for filing emails. It is readily configurable to your own email filing style, and is effortless to use. I have tried other trial versions of email sorting software, but never liked them enough to actually buy them. I consider Speed Filer to be the best $24.95 I have spent on software in recent memory. What’s more, there is a free trial to see if you like it.  You can also learn more about it at the Speed Filer Blog.

The genius of this program lies in the interface which automatically pops up when you click send.

As soon as the Speed Filer window pops up, all you have to do is type a few letters of the name of the folder (or in my case the name of the case) which the email needs to be associated with, and it hones in on the correct folder and filters out all the others. A simple tap on the return key, and the email is both sent and filed in the correct folder.

Speed Filer “File Message In Folder” Menu

As for emails in your inbox, you can simply use the standard keystrokes for moving emails to another folder (ctrl-shift-v) which gives you the same interface used for sending emails, or click on the menu bar added into Outlook and select the folder where the email should be filed.

Speed Filer Toolbar for Outlook 2007

If you are looking for a particular folder, once again, the Speed Filer toolbar allows you to effortlessly navigate without having to scroll through Outlook’s folder menu until you find it.

I really have nothing bad to say about Speed Filer, and at $24.95 per license it is a steal. If you deal with constant emails, you really should do yourself a favor and give the free trial a shot. A wonderful little tool to help make your inbox much more orderly, and save you a little time in the process.

maf

Google Reader Theme and Customization 19 July 2007

Posted by lawvol in blogging, Plug-ins and Tools, RSS readers, technology.
3 comments

If you are a Google Reader devotee, you may want to take a look at a really remarkable theme that is available. Designed by Jon Hicks of Hicks Design and available for free download, this theme gives you more reading real estate, as well as cleaning up the interface. Mac users will especially like this theme since it is modeled after Mac OS X.

It is not a plug-and-play extension for Firefox, but it is worth the trouble. You must first install the Stylish extension for Firefox and then copy the code provided in the theme download into the style window. There are easy to follow installation instruction on Hicks Design’s website.

If you use Google Reader, you should give it a look.

maf

Moleskine Alternative: C.R. Gibson Markings Notebooks 18 July 2007

Posted by lawvol in Blawg, GTD, lifehacks, Moleskine, observations, Productivity.
28 comments

Like many people who are faced with the need to write things down constantly, I always have at least one (sometimes more) notebooks with me. As a result, I too have discovered the joys of Moleskine notebooks. There are a variety of blogs around which extol the virtues of these wonderful little notebooks (See
Flipping Heck Blog and Anabubula Blog). I agree completely with all the chatter out there about Moleskines, and love them. There is, however, one downside—they are expensive as notebooks go.

Thus, I was thrilled the other day when I was walking through my local Target and noticed a small notebook in the journals section which looked remarkably similar to the Moleskine, but was about $5.00 or $6.00 cheaper. These journals are made by C.R. Gibson Co., and are marketed under the “Markings” label. I decided to take a leap of faith and bought one ($8.99) to give it a try. Somewhat to my surprise, the paper quality is excellent, and writes as smoothly as the Moleskine. They have the elastic band and a pocket in the back—just like the Moleskine.

These notebooks are available in a variety of sizes and come in both black and brown. For their price, they are an outstanding alternative to the traditional Moleskine, if you just can’t justify spending upwards of $15.00 on a notebook.

While I was not able to find any place to order these on the web, I did find a few threads talking about them also being available at Staples and Barnes and Noble, as well as Target.

If you love Moleskines, and happen to see these Markings Notebooks, you should give them a try. Needless to say, I will be going back to Target to pick up a few more.

maf

Well, here goes nothing… 20 June 2007

Posted by lawvol in Blawg, Law, observations.
3 comments

 

For some time now I have been trolling the blogsphere for information and insights relevant to my life and my practice as an administrative health care lawyer. At first, I assumed that you had to be well placed in some position of distinction or some technical guru to meaningfully contribute to the “conversation” occurring across the web. I figured that anything I might have to say—as an attorney in a niche practice with a boutique firm in Raleigh, North Carolina—had either already been said, or would be of such little consequence as to render it an act in futility to post it publicly.

 

Now, however, I have come to believe—rightly or wrongly—that piping up and being heard is not about being an expert, but rather adding to the discussion—offering up thoughts and perspectives which no one else has offered. Thus, here I sit embarking on adding my two cents to the global exchange. While I doubt seriously that anything posted on here will amount to anything resembling significance, I suppose I have as much right to participate as anyone else. As a result, I have given this blog a name which exemplifies its “place” in the world—“Mere Dictum” (lawyer-talk for something that may sound good, but really lacks the ability to impact anything at all).

 

Still, it does look like fun…