Cold Heartless Evil

Filed under: Podcasts | |

What makes us do bad things? More importantly, what people do the worst things imaginable. Radiolab covers the subject of evil this week in “The Bad Show.”

  • A fresh interpretation of Stanley Milgrim’s electroshock experiment. It’s not just people’s willingness to follow instructions from a person in a position in authority that allows them to intentionally inflict harm on others. Individuals will act, and continue to act, contrary to their own beliefs, and in a way that is abhorrent even to themselves, because of an intellectual buy-in to the greater good.
  • Saint or sinner: Fritz Haber, the man who saved the world from starvation also developed and personally implemented (on the front lines) one of the most terrible weapons in history.
  • And last, interview with a killer.

Give it a listen:

Creative Commons License photo credit: Greencolander

How to flatten a signature in Adobe Acrobat

Filed under: Paperless | Tags: , |

You probably already know how to create and use an electronic signature in Adobe Acrobat (if not, don’t worry it’s the first tip in Ernie Svenson’s video below). However, you may be wondering “how do I ‘flatten’ the signature image, so someone can’t simply lift my signature off a document.”

I figured that Adobe must have a way of doing this. It is the premier app for managing electronic documents in business after all. However, apparently not. Also, I could not find the answer by googling, either. After several dead ends, I was able to find the information. Everything you need is covered in Add a Flatten Document Menu Item to Acrobat on the Acrobat for Legal Professionals blog. WARNING: this has worked fine for me (Adobe Acrobat Pro 9), but I make no warranty.

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Paddy Ashdown: The global power shift

Filed under: Videos | |

Watching the Sunday “talking head” shows is truly an exercise in frustration. Big name politicos repeatedly hit their talking points and the hosts wont ask tough questions for fear that the politico wont come back on. I contrast that with this discussion of the shift of global power from a single pole (the United States) to a multi-polar world in the new century and from nations to transnational groups.

I don’t agree with everything in this discussion. I do not share Ashdown’s faith that transnational treaties can to bring law and curb the power of transnational groups. WIPO being one example where the proposed treaties seem designed to promote large rights-holder interests, exclude critics, and short-circuit democratic involvement via secret discussion. However, compared to the fare on Sunday morning news shows, the piece is still a breath of fresh and frank discussion.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Satoru Kikuchi

Cute Cats and The Arab Spring

Filed under: Podcasts | |

I saw this mentioned on BoingBoing last week: it is a discussion from the 2011 Vancouver Human Rights Lecture series discussion the importance of mainstream internet venues in democratic movements: unlike small networks (whose shutdown may be invisible to the mainstream), use of popular networks like Flickr, Facebook and Youtube means that heavy-handed shut-downs will likely make more people aware that something is going on. A very Freakonomics bit of analysis! | Cute Cats and The Arab Spring. Via BoingBoing

Creative Commons License photo credit: Dr. Hemmert

Using Mac’s Text-to-Speech with Mac Kindle App

Filed under: Mac Tips | Tags: , |

I like having Apple’s text-to-speech read websites to me while I scan other pages, or check email. I was wondering if I could do the same with my Kindle books.

I currently use the $79 Kindle, which doesn’t have a headphone jack (so no text-to-speech possible there). Also, a number of Kindle books do not have text to speech enabled, anyway.

So, I found myself wondering if there was any way to use Apple’s built-in text to speech to read Kindle books?

The answer was a surprisingly simple “Yes!” “Yes, but only for a while — see update below”

  1. Download the Kindle for Mac desktop app.
  2. Load up your favorite book (even if it has Kindle’s own text-to-speech disabled).
  3. Reduce the font to the smallest setting. This lets you select more text in the next step.
  4. Highlight all the text.
  5. Press the text-to-speech hotkey in you selected in System Preferences > Speech > Text to Speech.

Enjoy your favorite Apple text-to-speech voice read your book to you!

UPDATE: This works until you reach the copy limit for the ebook. The process described above acts as “copying.” Then, you get a warning, and then you can’t use the process anymore. Have I mentioned how much DRM sucks?


Inside Foxconn

Filed under: Podcasts | Tags: , , |

Apple infinite Loop

This week’s This American Life showcases Mike Daisey’s amazing journey into the heart of Apple’s (and many other’s) manufacturing at Foxconn. Daisey’s plan started simply enough: going up to the gates of Foxconn and seeing if any workers want to talk. Other journalists with whom Daisey shared his plan with, thought this would be … a very bad idea. Undeterred, Daisey went ahead. Then he saw the armed guards.

Surviving that first encounter, Daisey decided to get bold.

Check out Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory | This American Life.

UPDATE 03/16/12: This American Life has retracted (pdf link) the episode for “numerous fabrications.” Now, of course, any company that installs anti-suicide nets on roofs and whose workers have died after 60 hour shifts, probably has some issues. This American Life is to air a special episode concerning the retraction and corrections tonight at 8pm. Via GawkerBusinessInsiderThis American Life.

UPDATE 03/18/12: The retraction episode of This American Life if available here. Or, listen to it below:

Creative Commons License photo credit: Codexian

Adding different highlight colors for PDF in Adobe Acrobat

Filed under: Mac Tips | Tags: |

Adobe acrobat hightlight 1

One of my favorite tools in Adobe Acrobat is the highlighter. However, when I am commenting and marking up PDF documents , I was frustrated with not being able to select different highlighter colors other than YELLOW!

There’s got to be a way to highlight PDF documents in red, green, blue or any different color, doesn’t there?

There is a way!  With the Highlight tool selected, click CMD+E. A new tool bar pops up letting you select a different highlight color.

Adobe acrobat hightlight 2 small

Now, go have fun highlighting your PDFs in ANY color!

Adobe acrobat hightlight 3 final

And here’s how to add highlight colors in Adobe Acrobat on PC (Windows).

Legal Job Search: cover letter and resume tips

Filed under: Editorials | Tags: , , |

Personally, I feel that a cover letter is more important that resume. First of all, you can change a cover letter. There is not much you can do to a resume except make cosmetic changes. You can’t go back and work an extra summer or add an internship that did not happen.

However, you can make substantive changes to your cover letter.

One common mistake and one tip about resumes:

Most people stop after a recitation of the duties of the job performed. Yes, that gives me some idea about your skills. However, it also screams, “I did the job I was given!” Well, I certainly hope so. That just says, “I wasn’t fired for being incompetent.” Again, I certainly hope not.

What I am getting at is a recitation of duties is setting the bar at about,  oh,  shin level.

I recommend splitting up the description into for every job in the “Experience” section into “Duties” (this is where your recitation goes) and “Noteworthy.” Here is where you add how you reorganized the office categorization process to reduce processing by 20%. Think 6 Million Dollar Man (is that too dated a reference?): how did you make things better, stronger, faster? Yes, I know you did the job. What did you accomplish that is noteworthy? Did you exceed expectations? Did you go beyond your duties?

Ok, cover letters. How do you pick out a cake? Imagine going into Whole Foods and going to bakery section. They have fruit topped cases, ones with multi-colored chocolate shavings. It’s like an amazing party right-there-on-the-cake! What kind of cake it is, is a consideration, but come-on, you’re picking the pretty one.

Your cover letter is the decoration on the cake. It’s that important in getting selected.

The resume, that’s the cake underneath. Now I’m going to mix up the metaphors. I am asked to review a quite a few resumes. Well, a resume is a tool like a screwdriver. You’re asking to me to tell you is it a good enough screwdriver? Well, I don’t know! What do you want to use it for? That’s where the cover letter comes in! A cover letter says what you to do with your screwdriver.

  • What kind of job do you want?
  • What do you like about the firm your are contacting?
  • Why you feel you could do for the firm?
  • What sets you apart?
  • What are your passions and goals and how those fit in with working at the firm.
Then you end with a “let’s meet!” Not literally, but I am sure you already know how to request either a call or a meeting with the office so you can shine in person.
Passions? Goals? I just want to be the perfect drone!

Yeah… that’s how a lot of interviews come across. Let me tell you, if you want a job. You have to be someone. You have to want things, you have to be interested in and passionate about things. Everyone is the hero of their own narrative. Yes, I know you are. But what you miss is that the person interviewing you for the firm is also the hero of his/her story too. Part of their story is are the heroic things their firm is going to do (while hopefully make a nice amount of money).

Pitfall: what they don’t want is someone who tells them, “personal injury is my passion, even when I was little I went up to the parks office after my brother scraped his knee on the playground and shouted ‘I’ll sue!’ ” Actually, that’s pretty good. Usually, though, sucking up is pretty transparent because it is inauthentic.

The person you are interviewing with is looking for heroes. Not necessarily another Superman. But you may be able to show them that they really need an Aquaman on their team. That takes passion and believing in things. You can’t just be the person who scrubs tanks at the aquarium.

So, cakes, screwdrivers and superheroes: stand out using your cover letter, tell the employer why you choose them and what you can do, and show them why you are a hero!

Creative Commons License photo credit: Waponi

Backup strategies for solo or small firm lawyers

Filed under: Cloud, Mac Tips, Practice Tips | Tags: , , , , , , |

It’s a new year and it is time to make good on that resolution to strengthen your law firm’s backup strategy (or to get one started)!

How to get your back-up plan in order, in case of a hard drive failure, theft or fire, is one of the most important things a solo attorney and small law firm can do — especially once you go paperless. Then it is all just bits. And you do not want them to go away. Fortunately, it is much easier to copy bits than it is paper documents, allowing you to have multiple up to date and versioned copies in multiple locations.

Goals of a successful backup strategy:

  • Automatic. You already know that if something is a hassle, it is not going to get done. You want something that works in the background whether you remember to use it or not.
  • Multiple locations. One of the worst backup strategies is to have your backup sitting next to your computer. You want to make sure you have offsite back-up. And having a backup in a completely different regions is even better.
  • Multiple copies. One backup is good, but several are better. You never know when a perfect storm will hit and take out your one backup.or
  • Multiple services. If something happens with your backup provider, even a temporary problem with connectivity, you could be left out in the cold. It is a good idea to put your eggs in several different baskets just in case.

Great, you say. You could read pabulum like this on any number of law blogs. So let me give you a quick and dirty guide to backing up. Some of this is Mac specific, but I am including PC alternatives for the Morlocks among you ;)

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