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.