Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Once the send button is pressed, it is difficult to impossible to get it back from the receiver. However, you can set up Outlook to not instantly send your emails once you hit the send button. I have mine set to delay sending the email by one minute. It might not seem like a lot, but it is enough time for you to double check your email if you want before it is actually sent out. In an average week, I probably change three of four emails after I have initially hit the send button because of this.
To delay sending emails like this, you need to create a rule. Open Outlook and click on the File tab in the ribbon. Then, choose "Manage Rules & Alerts" in the Info area. In the window that pops up, click on "New Rule" near the top, which will open a new window.
Now, we are going to create a rule that applies to every email sent, so click on "Apply rule on messages I send" and choose next.
In the next window you can narrow down the application of the rule to only certain situations if you like. However, I prefer to have it delay all of my emails, so you can just click next. A pop up will remind you that your new rule will apply to all emails, which is what you want.
In the next window, check the box next to "defer delivery by a number of minutes". Then, in the lower window, click on the link "a number of minutes" and tell it how many minutes you want things delayed by. I chose one, but you can choose however many you like.
In the next window, you can choose situations in which you don't want to delay sending an email. There may be some situations where this makes sense for, but for me, I like having an across the board rule, so I just clicked next. In the last window, give the rule a name and make sure the box next to "Turn on this rule" is checked. Then hit finish.
From now on, when you hit the send button on an email, it will sit in your outbox for the number of minutes you set out in the rule before it is actually sent. Thus, giving you time to either edit the email, add the attachment you forgot, or to decide not to send it after all.
So, even if you have hit the send button, you now have a chance to un-send that ill formed email.
Friday, December 27, 2013
I am left with a few options. I could print out a copy of all of those emails and put with the physical folder. This keeps true to the notion that we should treat email like letters. But, the wanton destruction of trees and the waste of physical space is more than I care for.
Since we have both Adobe Pro XI and Outlook 2010, I've been using the option of converting an entire email folder and its contents into a PDF portfolio. As long as you have Adobe Pro loaded, you should be able to right click on the email folder, and at the bottom of the pop-up menu, you will have an option called Convert "<folder name>" to Adobe PDF.
Click on this and tell it where you want the new PDF portfolio saved. It will then convert all of your emails to PDF documents and store them as a PDF portfolio. This allows you to still easily navigate all of your emails in PDF format. During the conversion process, everything is made word searchable, so you can still search through those emails. Additionally, it brings all of the attachments with it, so you can double click on an attachment and it will open. It still has the look and feel of reading your emails in Outlook, but they are now PDF documents ready for long term storage.
By converting everything in this manner, you will be able to keep an electronic copy of your emails in your now former clients electronic folder and not clogging up your email inbox.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Friday, December 20, 2013
People prefer to access these templates in different ways; they sometimes open the template and other times they add a new document based on the template. I have found that it is sometimes easier to code around people's preferences than to try to get them to change their preferences. As a result, I have the templates set up to run the code regardless of how they access the document.
The up side to this is that the end users have the code run regardless of how they enter the document. The down side is that it could make it harder to edit the template when changes need made. In fact, I thought I had created uneditable templates because no matter how the template was opened, it always created a new document and would not give me a chance to change the template. This, naturally, led to frantic Google searching.
The point of this story is to point out that you can open a template or other document without running any macros or code that are otherwise supposed to run at start. To do so, hold down the shift key while the document opens, and none of those codes will run.
Just hoping to help out others who may have a similar problem.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
One of the missing features of Adobe Pro out of the box, at least from this attorney's perspective, is an exhibit stamp. Something that easily allows you to stamp a document as an exhibit to be attached to a pleading or motion that has the look and feel of a rubber exhibit stamp.
Fortunately, Rick Borstein at Acrolaw blog developed such a stamp. I would encourage everyone to read his post in full as it goes into detail about this stamp and how it works. You can download a copy of the file an installation instructions here.
The short version is that once you install it, it adds a new stamp to your stamp palette called Exhibit Stamp, which will contain two types of exhibit stamps.
When you click on your preferred stamp and place it in your document, a window will pop up that asks you what number, or letter, or text you want to place in the stamp.
Once you hit OK, you will now have a movable stamp with your own text in it that can be re-sized or re-positioned as you see fit.
So if you are regularly handling documents electronically, this offers a much cleaner and quicker solution than printing out the documents that need stamped, stamping them, and re-scanning them.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Whether you are new to what Google offers or already know a lot about Google, it is worth checking out Google Tips. Here, both new and old users are likely to learn tips and tricks for how to get the most out of what Google offers.
h/t The Droid Lawyer
Monday, December 16, 2013
To do this, go to the File tab on the ribbon and choose option. From in the options, click on the "Customize Ribbon" option in the left column. Then, near the bottom, click on the "Customize" button after the words "Keyboard shortcuts:"
This will bring up the Customize Keyboard window.
Under the Categories list, scroll to the bottom and choose Macros. Then, under the Macros: list (it will pop up after choosing Macros in Categories) choose the macro you want to assign a shortcut key to. Click in the "Press new shortcut key:" box and type in the key combination you want to assign to run your chosen macro. Lastly, click the "Assign" button in the lower left of the window.
Now, whenever you are in Word and type in your shortcut combination you assigned, it will automatically run your macro. Some people will find this easier to use than either opening the macro window or clicking on a button in the Quick Access Toolbar.
Friday, December 13, 2013
The quick access toolbar is designed to always have displayed commands you frequently use. This way, you don't have to click through the tabs in the ribbon to find the command you want to use. I find the default settings for what is displayed to be fairly unhelpful. But, you can customize it to include the things you actually want up there. For me, include buttons to run macros I frequently use.
To do this, you need to pull up the customize Quick Access Toolbar window. Click on the drop down arrow at the far right of the Quick Access Toolbar and choose "More Commands".
Then, simply highlight the macro you want to have added to the Quick Access Toolbar, click the "Add > >" button and choose OK at the bottom of the window.
Now, Word 2010 will have your selected macro in the Quick Access Toolbar. When you want to run your macro, you only have to click on it at the top of your screen.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
I've been a big fan of Spotify for well over a year now, and I actually prefer it over other streaming services like Pandora because I get to choose the songs I want to hear when I want to hear them. But I never could justify spending the money to get it on my phone.
As of yesterday, Spotify is now free on your mobile device. When you log in, you can listen to your music, ad supported, as well as listen to radio stations built around songs you like. It even has your playlists from the desktop version. The only catch is that you can't choose when to play your songs in your playlist. Instead, it is always on shuffle mode. A small price, as far as I'm concerned, to be able to listen to my music on the go.
All-in-all, if you're already a Spotify user, you've probably been waiting for this day for a while. If you're not using Spotify, what are you waiting for?
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
One of my recent projects was to actually create a website that calculates the amount of food stamps a person is entitled to. The easiest part of this project was reading the Ohio Revised Code and Administrative Code and learning the rules for counting income, deductions, and the various tests. It was breaking those rules down into manageable chunks that could be understood by a web browser, which is not so different from explaining it to a lay person.
In doing this project, I learned all of the ins and outs of the food stamp program, and I now have a much better grasp of the rules surrounding it. In addition, our program now has a useful tool in the form of a website that will help us determine whether our clients' food stamps are being properly determined.
I would encourage everyone to look for areas of the law that lend themselves to being coded and to give it a try, particularly if it is your area of specialty. Doing so will give you a deeper appreciation for the law's nuances and help you see the law at both the micro and macro level.
As I regularly use Word 2010, Chrome, and Windows Explorer. They are always pinned to my task bar.
Once you've pinned a program to the task bar, you can right click on it, and it will show a list of the recent files you've opened within that program. So, by right clicking on my Word 2010 icon, I get a list of the last ten files I've opened.
It seems we often open the same files and templates regularly. With Windows 7, you can also "pin" a file you use regularly (or any file) to the list of recent files so that they always show up at the top of the list.
To do this, just open the file you want to have pinned to the top of the list. Right click on the Word icon in the task bar, and it will probably appear at the top of the recent files list. To the right of the file name will be a picture of a pin. Click on this pin, and the file will now always appear at the top of your list.
By pinning frequently opened programs to the task bar and frequently used files to the program list, you can save a lot of time. It is much simpler to right click on the task bar and select the regularly used file than to go through the start button or windows explorer every time.
Monday, October 7, 2013
Today's tip deals with how to turn your Windows 7 computer into a dictation machine without buying extra software. When I first started practicing in a medium sized law firm, I regularly dictated into a micro-cassette recorder and a secretary would transcribe everything for me. Where I'm at now, such a system is impractical. And while I can type quickly, I have found that my best work is still done through dictation.
Windows 7 comes with a program called "Windows Speech Recognition" already installed. It can be found in the "Ease of Access" folder, which is located in the "Accessories" folder. Go purchase a decent headset microphone, hook up to your computer, and open this program.
There will be a simple setup wizard you need to complete. And there are additional training options you can go through to both learn how to use the program and to help it to better understand what you say.
Then, you will be able to talk to your computer and let it transcribe what you say. Is it perfect? No, but that's what proofreading is for. I've found that it does a decent job, and while not as refined as commercial programs like Dragon Dictate, it can still be effective.
I do have a couple of tips for using it. First, get a decent microphone. The better quality microphone, the more clearly the program will hear and understand what you're saying, which will increase its accuracy. Second, if you are like me, you will need to talk a little bit slower and enunciate clearly. Lastly, I'd recommend doing the extra training. The more the computer hears you talk, the better able it is to understand what you are saying and not make the same mistakes in the future.
Monday, September 16, 2013
Ideally, everyone in the office should pull their letterhead from the same template. Otherwise, in order to change the letterhead to add or delete a name you would have to change multiple files. In our office, we designed our letterhead in Word. Then we saved it as a .dotm file instead of a .docx file by going to file, choosing save as, and changing the type to .dotm. A .dotm file is a macro-enabled template, while a .docx file is simply an ordinary Word file. That template file was then stored on the central server accessible to everyone in the office.
Ordinarily, when you open a .dotm file, it opens the file as an untitled .docx file but will have the appearance of the template. Thus, it will have all of your letterhead information and just be awaiting the letter be typed. In this way, the template is used to generate the new untitled .docx file, but the template itself is never altered. More importantly, it keeps others from accidentally altering the template or saving over it by accident. Moreover, many people can access the template file at the same time without problem. And when it comes time to update your letterhead, the template is the only file that needs changed and everyone will receive that change.
Instead of opening old letters to use the letterhead or having a letterhead file on your own computer, take the time to create a letterhead template file everyone in your office will use.
Friday, September 13, 2013
For this reason, I prefer Password Keeper, which stores the files locally with the option of cloud synchronization through Google Drive. I know I had previously said that I was ok giving up a good deal of my privacy to Google, but there are some things I'm not ready to hand over so easily to a third party. The password to my bank accounts is one of them.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
From inside Adobe Pro, open click on the stamp tool and choose "Create Custom Stamp":
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Monday, September 9, 2013
Occasionally, odd text from other parts of your document might show up in your table of contents. Sometimes, it is whole paragraphs that are simply part of the body and not part of any heading. If this happens, go to that part of your document that is showing up in your table of contents and highlight it. Then, right click on it and choose paragraph. From here, check the outline level. It is probably set at a heading number as opposed to body text. Simply change it to body text. When you next update your table of contents, that errant text should disappear.
Speaking of updating your table of contents, don't forget to do that at the very end or your editing immediately prior to printing or sending your work out. Remember, one of the advantages of using the built in table of contents feature is that it will update your page numbers and even your heading texts when they change. But it doesn't do this automatically; you have to tell it to update.
To update your table of contents, you can either right click in the middle of the table itself and choose "Update field" or go to the reference tab. You will then have the choice of either updating the entire table of contents or just the page numbers. I almost always choose to update the entire table to capture any changes in the text of the headings I may have made.
Lastly, when you are using the built in table of contents function alongside the table of authorities function, odd things can happen. If you have symbols turned on (you clicked on the pilcrow as I previously recommended), then you will notice a long string of text after every one of your cases or statutes that you have marked to be included in your table of authorities. This long text will actually mess with the page layouts, placing your headings later in the document and potentially on a different page on your screen than it will when printed because that extra stuff after the case isn't printed. The table of contents will use the page number that appears on the screen and not the one that prints. So, prior to updating your table of contents, I recommend turning symbols off.
Hopefully these posts have helped demystify how to create and use tables of contents.
Friday, September 6, 2013
This opens up a new form that allows you to design a custom table of contents.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
If you're not familiar, the home tab of Word 2010 and 2007 has a section labeled styles:
By selecting a style, you will automatically apply the formatting and paragraph setting associated with that style to the text you have either highlighted or are typing. Moreover, the style labeled "Heading 1" has the outline level set to 1 by default, "Heading 2" is level 2, etc. By modifying the "Heading 1" style to match your personal style for your headings, you can simply type in your heading, select it, and apply the "Heading 1" style. It will then automatically format your heading as well as adjust the style to your preference.
This way, you have all the benefits of uniformity that come from styles, the benefit of making easy global changes in a heading's style, and the construction of a table of contents.
If you're going to be building a document from scratch, I highly recommend using the heading styles to create your table of contents.
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
In this first, let's look at creating a table of contents without using styles as it has been my experience that a lot of people don't use styles. Additionally, if you are tasked with adding a table of contents to another person's document, it might be overly difficult to use styles.
The wife got a Fitbit Flex a while back, but she hasn't been wearing it since she has been sidelined. So, I thought I would wear it for a week and see if it added anything to my life.
If you aren't familiar, the Fitbit is a band you wear on your wrist that acts as a pedometer, sleep tracker, and silent alarm. The Android App and the website allow you to track your caloric and liquid intake and explain your sleep patterns. In short, it is designed to help you get into shape by allowing you to keep track of what you do.
On the plus side, the silent alarm feature was nice as it woke me up without waking the wife by vibrating the bracelet. The Android App was fairly user friendly, and the Bluetooth syncing with the phone made syncing a snap. It held a charge for several days before needing plugged in, and even then, charging didn't take very long. Plus, you could tap on it twice during the day and see how far you had progressed towards your walking goal for the day.
However, those were the only real positives as far as I was concerned. First, you're supposed to wear it on your non-dominant hand, which is where I usually wear my watch. Unless I wanted to wear two things on my left wrist - and I very much did not - then the watch had to stay at home. So, for a week, I kept looking at the Fitbit to figure out the time and date.
Staying on the topic of style, the Fitbit isn't garish. In fact, it looks like one of those wrist bracelets that are supposed to signify your support of cancer awareness or ecology or whatever other cause you might imagine. I suppose if you don't mind those types of things, you wouldn't find the Fitbit a problem; however, those things simply don't do anything for me. Clearly a minor, and probably personal issue, but I point it out for others who are indifferent or turned off by the cause bracelets.
As far as functionality, I do question its accuracy as a pedometer. It said I had walked nearly half a mile over the hour and a half it took to mow the lawn, which I could understand had I used a push mower. However, that entire time was spent on a riding mower. It also registered quite a few steps while I was talking during meetings (full disclosure, I talk a lot with my hands). I didn't find it to be as accurate as belt loop pedometers that I have worn in the past.
Additionally, I found it cumbersome to keep track of my food intake and water using the app. My prior experience with MyFitness Pal was more positive. Don't get me wrong, it did an ok job, I just preferred the other app for doing intake tracking.
Lastly, as a sleep tracking device, I found it lacking. It didn't provide much detailed information regarding my sleep patterns. Plus, the way I slept, the bracelet kept getting caught on my other arm or the pillow. It also didn't adjust the alarm to go off during the part of your sleep cycle where you would be least disturbed by an alarm. Prior experience with apps like Sleep as Android provided better sleep cycle analysis and functionality without the intrusion of a bracelet and they would adjust the alarm time to go off during the most restless part of your sleep cycle.
Overall, I think there is promise in the idea of the Fitbit. But I'm not sure there aren't better free apps out there to help you monitor your fitness. I'll be curious to see how the next generation of these devices function.
Friday, August 30, 2013
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
This folder puts all of your settings in one folder right on your desktop so that you don't have to wade through the various parts of the control panel. Sure, maybe it's not as all powerful as the name suggests, but I find myself using it often.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Monday, August 26, 2013
Fortunately, it is relatively easy to create an electronic copy of your signature. If you have a scanner, it can be done without paying for any expensive software.
First, sign your name on a blank piece of paper. I suggest using a black pen that is not fine point. A bolder line will make things easier in the long run and ensure a clearer scan. I chose to have mine scanned as a pdf file.
Then, open the file in Adobe Reader, and draw a selection box around your signature. Right click on it, and choose copy.
Next, open Paint.net. Paint.net is another great open source program you can get for free here. Then, paste in your signature.
In Paint.net, choose the magic wand tool and set the flood mode to contiguous.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
When you think of AutoCorrect, you probably think about how Word automatically changes "abuot" to "about". AutoCorrect though, can do even more than that. You can set it up to turn a couple of letters into whole sentences if you wanted.
For example, I often close my letters with "As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us." Instead of retyping that whole sentence every time, I have AutoCorrect set up to replace "asal" with my sentence. Thus, whenever I want to insert that whole sentence, I just type "asal".
Let's see how to do this using Word 2010 (2007 is the same way. AutoCorrect in 2003 and before is under tools, options, spelling and grammar). Go to the File Tab, click on Options, and choose Proofing. From there, click on the AutoCorrect Options button.
This will open a new dialog box. In the replace box, type in the letter combination you want to use to trigger the AutoCorrect function. In my example above, this was "asal". In the with box, type in the phrase or words you want to be automatically inserted. Then, click on the add button, and you are finished.
Friday, August 23, 2013
As usual, XKCD hits the nail on the head. This is something we should all keep in mind. If you're on Twitter, facebook, Google+, have a google phone number, at least two other phone numbers (work, personal cell phone, maybe even a personal land line), three email addresses (one work, one personal for signing up for spam, and one that you want only friends to use), a fax number, and a LinkedIn account, it can be easy to fall prey to communications overload. Things can go unresponded to, and people can feel like they've been forgotten. All the while, you spend most of your day sorting through people trying to reach you.
If you are going to sign up for every form of communication available in an effort to reach your clients where they are, then you need to come up with a system for ensuring that you can keep tabs on every account. Otherwise, you end up sending the message that you don't care about them. Sometimes, less is better.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
One way to do it would be to just use the same username and password for everything I do and never change it. Of course, that would be about the least secure thing to do. If someone got your password for your email account, they would then also have access to your bank accounts and who knows what else.
Instead, I try to have a different username and password for everything. To keep track of them all, I use a free, open source program called Password Safe.
One of the great things about Password Safe is that it stores all of your files locally in an encrypted file. To open the file, you only have to remember one master password. It will automatically generate new passwords for you, alert you if your passwords are too weak, and even remind you to change your passwords on a regular schedule if you like. It even remembers prior passwords so that you don't accidentally reuse one.
They also have Android and iPhone versions so that you will always have your passwords with you wherever you go. You also have the option of storing your encrypted password file in the cloud for Android with another app.
So, if you're still using the same password you have been using for the past 15 years, update your passwords and use Password Safe to keep it all organized.
If you are concerned about letting Google in on everything you do, just go ahead and skip this post. If, however, you want to have a lot of useful information right at your fingertips right when you need it, then this post is for you.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Friday, August 16, 2013
Growing up, I was a huge fan of the X Files. So I can't tell you how excited I was today when I heard on the BBC News Hour that the United States acknowledged the existence of Area 51. Sure, there might not be any mention of aliens or UFO's, but I don't care. After all, the truth is, well, you remember.
One of the hopes I have for this blog is to check out as many of these plastic boxes as I can and tell you which ones are useless, which are cool to play with, and which ones can actually make your job easier. The practice of law is time consuming enough without wasting time trying out pointless technology. As I constantly preach in our office, if it doesn't make your job easier, it's not worth messing with.
If you're using Microsoft Word 2007 or later, then on the home tab, you've probably seen the button that is the paragraph symbol or pilcrow. When you click on it, it adds a bunch of symbols into your word document like pilcrows, dots, arrows, and anchors. If you're not used to seeing them, they can get distracting and you probably just turn them off.
I'd actually encourage you to do the opposite and edit your document with those symbols turned on. Those symbols tell you a lot about your document, and they will make it easier to for you to edit the layout.
For example, the dots indicate where the space bar was used to insert a space. By having the symbols on, you can easily see where you have may have inadvertently inserted an extra space between a word. The ¶ symbol lets you know when the enter key was pressed. It can show you where paragraph breaks were intended. And the → tells you that the tab key was used to adjust where the text was started as opposed to using the tab stops.
By knowing what the symbols mean, you can see what you need to do to change the format. For example, if the text is indented but you don't see the symbol for the tab key, you'll know that the way to fix the layout is by using the tab stop - the backspace key won't work.
We'll discuss in greater detail how to properly layout a word document in future posts, and we'll explore how you can instantly tell by turning the symbols on just how familiar someone is with Microsoft Word.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
So why isn't your phone locked? It probably has all of the above information on it. If you would lock that information up if it was in paper form, why not when it is in digital form on your phone.
Android phones make locking your phone easy and even give you several lock options. To access them, open up your phones setting's and find the screen lock menu. From there, you will have the option of enabling several different locks, including a dot pattern (my lock of choice), a pin number, and a password. And on at least the Galaxy S4, there is the option of using the camera to allow your face to serve as the unlocking method.
So, what are you going to do if it gets lost or stolen? How are you going to protect both your client's confidences and your own personal information?
If you're using an Android operating system, the answer is easy: the Android Device Manager. To enable it, open up the Google Settings on your phone, choose "Android Device Manager", and check the "remotely locate this device" and "allow remote factory reset".
Then, from any computer, you can go to https://www.google.com/android/devicemanager and log in with your Google account. You'll be able to see in Google maps where your phone is. You can make your phone ring at full volume - useful when you've lost it under your couch cushions and can't find it. And, perhaps most importantly, you can essentially tell your phone to forget everything it knows about you and your client by clicking the erase device button.
So protect yourself and your clients. Turn on the device manager settings and hope you only have to use it when your two year old has hidden it in his pile of stuffed animals.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
If you're using GMail, or Google products in general, you should simply assume that Google knows a lot about you. Probably more than you might be comfortable with. But let's face it, Google's products like GMail, Google Earth, and of course the search engine, are absolutely fantastic. The Android operating system, another Google project, is simply dominating the market share for smartphones. And I'm using Chrome, Google's internet browser.
Put simply, many of us, myself included, are constantly giving our personal information to Google in one way or another. Google then uses that information to personalize the ads that I see everywhere, which just constantly reinforces my desire for this grill. In return, I get free email and other services that I really like and want. Free services and privacy don't usually go hand in hand.
Is it scary? Sure, maybe a little. But, what we used to think of as privacy is gone. As for me, I'm just going to keep using my Google stuff and gaze longingly at the grill of my dreams in ads around the internet.
The snipping tool can be found in the accessories folder of the start menu. Now, when your computer is acting up, you can easily make a copy of what you're seeing and let your nerd friends tell you what's wrong.