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Desktop Virtualization Saves Costs

By Michael Morse | February 2, 2012

Sometime ago I made an investment in technology and it has begun to pay off.  Those in the practice of law may know I have been a pioneer in paperless office innovation using an array of desktop and network scanners.  Several years ago I asked my IT Company,  “How can I watch hardware cost while managing my growth spurts?”  While the desktop side of paperless offices seems remedial now, I push forward in all areas of technology.   I now have over 80 employees adding 10 at a time in some cases.

I recall the detailed conversations over which route to choose regarding managed growth, a traditional ‘client server’ network or a post-modern approach using servers to create virtual desktops for my support staff.  I had to educate myself fast. Client server networks are where data is stored on a data server and all applications are ran from desktops and laptops, this can lead to costly labor charges managing desktops and is an old fashion way of computing familiar to most businesses. A virtual desktop approach allowed me to use low-end Netbooks or end-of-life Desktops to connect to a server where user Desktops would be virtually stored. Since everything (data and applications) was on a new fast server the old or low-end machines seem fast as it is merely an image of the data on the screen with all the processing taking place on a server. Many of you may already connect remotely to your desktop(s) using an application called Remote Desktop Connection (by Microsoft). Rather than connecting to just one desktop remotely from abroad to your office Desktop, I connect 20 users to one server on-premise. I have built my own internal “Cloud.” I was doing this in 2006 at the time of my fire which destroyed my building. I was doing this before it became a buzzword, “Cloud Computing,” I didn’t know. We install software versions on this server that once installed are ready for all to use instantly; per user license fee applies.  That is how I managed my growth; I leveraged technology on the desktop side visually with the use of scanners keeping my work flow fast and efficient. I leveraged technology ephemerally with the use of desktop virtualization software by Microsoft.  Just because your current machines are slow does not mean they are dead, they still have a life. Use them to connect to a Microsoft Terminal Server today!  BTW, you will still want desktops for the executive team, power users or lawyers for video deps and other ancillary items under this approach.  Thanks for listening.

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Try Echosign for Electronic Signatures

By Michael Morse | November 11, 2010

Electronic signatures are getting more and more popular. Federal courts now accept electronic signatures, state courts are starting to, and businesses use them to execute contracts.

If you are considering using digital signatures for your practice, try Echosign.

Just upload a digital copy the document to Echosign’s website. Then, the site will send an email to your recipient. The recipient has a variety of signature options. They can sign with an e-signature, or their cursor can turn into a stylus, which allows them to “write” their actual signature in digital form, this option does require a paid plan. Recipients can also print the document and fax back an actual signature page.

The site supports electronic signatures from mobile devices, and has a demo video to watch. Digital signatures from a mobile device looks promising!

With  Echosign you can do up to 5 transactions a month with a free account. After that, there are a variety of pricing options.

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Organize Your Inbox

By Michael Morse | September 14, 2010

Gmail has a brand new feature to help you stay better organized.  It’s called priority inbox. Google has designed formulas that determine whether an email is important or not. They figure this out based on which emails you read and which emails you don’t read.

Gmail then automatically organizes your emails into separate folders. If you don’t like the preset folder options, you can customize it to your liking. If emails end up in the wrong folders, you can essentially train Gmail with two buttons so that it will adapt.

If you are constantly overwhelmed with all of the emails in your inbox, give this a try and let me know what you think!

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Do You Need a Smartphone?

By Michael Morse | September 9, 2010

The decision to use a smartphone as an integral part of your law practice is one that can make you significantly more efficient.  Think about it! Once you have a smartphone your office becomes portable. You can read and answer all of your emails. Many law firms expect attorneys to answer emails 24/7. Having a smartphone makes this much easier than carrying a laptop and can help you provide much better service to your clients.

Smartphones can do lots of other “non-office” functions.. If you have a blog or a social media campaign, you can manage all of that from your phone. No matter where you are you can read other blogs, write your own posts, or even review pleadings that have been sent to you.  If you travel for work, your phone probably has a map or GPS system, which can prevent  you from being late to court or getting lost in an unfamiliar part of town.

Efficiency is so important in our daily busy lives as lawyers.  Smartphones can help!

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Electronic Signatures On Adobe

By Michael Morse | August 25, 2010

Legal documents travel through cyberspace and fax machines. As many of you know, Federal Courts have also moved to e-filing. Adobe has a program now that allows parties to electronically sign documents.

The program works by uploading a document to the Adobe site, and then choosing your recipient. You can decide whether you want to sign first, or have the other party sign first. Once you have submitted the document, the recipient will be notified the document is ready for their signature.

Once the document has been signed by all parties, all parties receive notification that a fully executed document is available on the Adobe server. The fully executed document has a signature page, which includes the digital signatures of all parties, as well as the date they signed the document. The document is time and date stamped, to make sure it is valid.

Remember though, just because you are willing to digitally sign something, your recipients may not be! Also, whatever document you are signing sits temporarily on Adobe’s servers. If you are worried about security and/or confidentiality, this could be an issue.

For attorneys who are comfortable working digitally, this is a great option to have.

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Line2 iPhone App

By Michael Morse | August 2, 2010

Line2 is an iPhone app launched in March with lots of cool features. My favorite is that Line2 turns the iPhone into a dual-mode phone. This means you can place and receive calls using either the AT&T airwaves like always, or over the internet. Any time you’re in a wireless hot spot, Line2 places its calls over Wi-Fi instead of AT&T’s network.

Think about that. Cell phone reception is usually worse whenever you’re indoors and inside is where you have W-Fi.  Line2 in Wi-Fi means rock-solid reception indoors. Wow.

Line2 also runs on the iPod Touch. When you’re in a Wi-Fi hot spot, the iPod Touch becomes a full-blown cell phone, and you don’t owe AT&T a dime. Wi-Fi calls don’t use up any AT&T minutes. You can talk all day long, without worrying about going over your monthly minutes. Wi-Fi calls are free forever. Check it out and let me know what you think!

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Check Out Google Docs!

By Michael Morse | July 12, 2010

Google Docs can now scan PDFs and image files with Optical Text Recognition (OCR). Most lawyers use Adobe Professional to run the recognition. If you do not have that program, or you are mobile, Google Docs is very helpful. Say opposing counsel sends a settlement agreement, and you need to revise it. Google Docs can convert the document and you can edit away.

Google Docs allows you to quickly and easily create an exhibit, or need to insert a picture into a document. You may rarely need to do this but it’s good to know you can do it online, from any computer.

The major downside to Google Docs is privacy issues. There are three settings, private, anyone with the link, and public. Private allows only you to access the document and is the default setting for all documents. The second option allows anyone with the web address of the document to see it and make revisions. For a law firm, this is problematic. Of course, having unsecured documents on the web can be a disaster. The third option, public, would have little use for a law firm.

Let me know how you like it once you get started with Google Docs.

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Michigan Bans Texting While Driving

By Michael Morse | July 1, 2010

I previously wrote a blog post about Michigan’s new law banning texting while driving. The new law goes into effect today, and should make our Michigan roads safer. We get calls every day from Michigan auto accident victims who were hit and injured by someone who was texting and driving. Check this link for more details including information on fines and using your cell while driving.

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Try Skype!

By Michael Morse | June 17, 2010

Skype is a great service because you can use it on your computer and on your mobile phone. Changes are pending that will make it awesome to use on an iPhone. First, the new operating system will allow multitasking, so you can talk over Skype and run other applications simultaneously. Secondly, you can make Skype calls over the 3G network. That is a huge upgrade, and an awesome feature to have. Plus, your office phone goes where you go. Of course it features videoconferencing and also allows you to use your computer as a phone. With all of these features and flexibility, it’s time to give it a try.

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Social Media Management

By Michael Morse | June 1, 2010

Successful social media campaigns use multiple platforms—Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, blogs, etc. Each platform by itself, does not necessarily take a huge time investment. If you’re trying to manage multiple platforms one at a time, you can spend hours per day updating posts, etc. Outsourcing these tasks is something to consider, or you can try the do-it-yourself approach with a program like Sendible. Sendible can manage several accounts and also allows you to send status updates, emails, blogs and RSS feeds. You might like the flexibility you get with this type of program.

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