MILOfest 2010: Ben Stevens on Taking Notebooks to Go

Filed under: Conferences, Mac Tips, Software | Tags: , , , |


Circus Ponies Notebook is a terrific way of keeping track of your cases. I create a “notebook” using the Circus Ponies application for each case in my disability practice.

The only downside of the Notebook is that it is not a cloud application and you have to have a computer (a Mac, actually) to use it. You cannot read Notebook files on on portable devices likes iPads or iPhones.

Ben Stevens (The Mac Lawyer) has a great tip about taking your Notebooks on the go on the iPhone or iPad.

Step 1: export your Notebook. Click File –> Export as Website –> To Disk

Step 2: move the html file to your iPhone or iPad using Airsharing.

Step 3: there is no step 3.

Now you can view your Notebook file on your iPhone or iPad including all of your attachments! That means all of the PDFs, the audio files, the video files (!) you put into a Notebook are THERE in your portable Notebook file!

IMPORTANT: make sure to have “copy the file into the Notebook” selected for the attachments to be included with the exported html file.

Here are some considerations:

  • Manual process. You have to manually export each notebook.
  • Read only. The exported html can only be viewed. You cannot add, change or remove things from the exported notebook file.
  • Notebooks are not updated. One of the gems of the Notebook, is that it is so easy to update what is going on with your case. It may be obvious that once you export the file as an HTML is that the exported file is a snapshot of the Notebook file at a particular time. The exported notebook file will not update with any additional information you may put into the Notebook file on the computer.

MILOfest is an annual conference for Mac based law firms.

Image credit (top image): CC photo credit: Simon Blackley

Legal Mac Tip 3: Find The Hard Drive Hogs

Filed under: Mac Tips, Software | Tags: , , , |

Prize Pig

More and more lawyers are using laptops as their primary computer. However, music, apps and of course, client files can quickly fill up a laptop hard drive.

Sooner or later, you will start to run out of space on your laptop. One of the best tools for finding the largest files on your drive was Disk Inventory X.

Why is this such a great app?

  • Disk Inventory X visually shows your hard drive letting you quickly find the largest files.
  • Files are grouped together based on folder structure and color coded by type (so you can see just how large your iTunes library is getting).
  • Click on a file to see what it is.
  • Command-click (right click) and choose to view the file in the finder.
  • You can even delete files directly from the application. Of course, you still have to be careful with what you delete. You can seriously and permanently mess up your computer if you start deleting files willy-nilly. However, you will also likely find old files that you forgot about and could easily live without.

The problem is Disk Inventory X has not been updated to run on Intel Macs on Apple OSX 10.6 Snow Leopard, Disk Inventory X won’t work unless you install Rosetta – which just takes up more space on your harddrive. And, well, you don’t get style points for running “classic” power pc software on your new Mac. It’s not like having a collection of vinyl (at least not yet).

Fortunately, there is another app with the functionality of Disk Inventory X that is also a universal OSX application that runs on 10.6 without Rosetta: Grand Perspective.

Grand Perspective gives you all the functionality of Disk Inventory X without forcing you to give over precious hard drive space for Rosetta.

If there is one downside to Grand Perspective it is that it does not open any kind of window when you run it. To initiate a scan, select File -> Scan Folder (shortcut key: Command-S) and then select a folder or just select your hard drive. Grand Perspective will run for  a minute or two (depending on the size of your drive) and the produce a visual chart to let you start pruning unnecessary files!

photo credit: The Pug Father

How To Create And Read QR Codes!

Filed under: Software | Tags: , , |

Qr code flock
QR codes or “Quick Response” codes, these squiggly boxy bar codes with an inflated sense of self worth are a great way of storing information. They are also a great way of letting customers find out more about your business, find your website, and add your contact information directly to their smart phone.


I love business cards. There is a art to creating a beautiful card. Your cards can make people happy!

The only problem is that people lose them, or get so many that they can’t find your card! If your customer does not enter your contact information into their phone, blackberry, iphone or put your card into their day planner, it is likely that they won’t be able to find your information when they need it!

Quick Tip: I’ll let you in on a secret. Read the rest of this entry »

Tech Story Roundup

Filed under: Cloud, Marketing, Software | Tags: |

Headline News

Here are some of the best tech stories from around the web.

What were the best articles you read this week? CC photo credit: christopher.woo

Dragon Dictate For Mac 2.0 Review

Filed under: Software | Tags: , , |

Dragon Head

I previously wrote a (non) review of Dragon Dictate for Mac 2.0 discussing the history of voice recognition and why I probably would not be getting the newest version of Dragon Dictate.

I have been a fan of speech recognition since just before natural language models. I remember when discrete language ruled the day and you, had, to, talk, like, this, to have any chance of the computer being able to understand your speech. In the last few years, I got tired of paying $150 every 12 to 18 months to try a new version, just to be disapponted with it. The recognition was quite good, but the overall package (how easy it was to correct and train words) dragged it down. I dropped out of the game of regular updates and decided not to update for a while. Well, after a glowing review from Ernie the Attorney, I decided to give it a shot.

I have been using Dragon Dictate 2.0 for Mac for the last few weeks. I have dictated a several articles using it and I have been quite impressed with where Nuance and MacSpeech have made significant improvements. However, some problems remain. Read the rest of this entry »

Dragon Dictate 2.0 For Mac Non-Review

Filed under: Software | Tags: , , |

dragon bits

CC photo credit: debaird™

I’m telling you from the start that this is not a review of Dragon Dictate 2.0 for Mac. Since I am including a disclaimer, there really should be no complaint that no review follows. :)

So, it’s LINK BAIT!

I prefer to call it a topical musing on the history of voice recognition and my hopes for the new Dragon Mac offering, and leave it at that.

analogue modem

CC photo credit: secretlondon123

I have been using voice recognition products since 2000; first on the PC and more recently on Apple computers. Back in the olden days, there was a real issue with (sub-gigahertz, single core) processor speeds. Now, my cell phone has more power and memory that my 2000 era computer; and can do a better job with voice recognition. To be fair, today’s cell phones use a client / server model for voice recognition. The iPhone or iPad does not do the voice recognition itself. The Dragon Dictate app beams the voice file to a server farm to churn out what it thinks you said and beam it back to your device.  It’s pretty amazing that our networks are fast enough for this to be practical. I still remember visiting the computer lab at my brother’s grad school where you had to plug the handset of a telephone into a suction cup. That was the era of Net Trek and MUDs, and beer bashes and dancing to “Rock Lobster.” Yeah, um, don’t tell my parents.

Back to voice recognition: over the years, I have bought the new version of the voice recognition software du jour, try it for about a month and then leaving the scene for a year or two. Then I am lured back with the siren call of improved accuracy, speed and functionality, and the promise of finally being able to quickly and naturally enter text into the computer proves irresistible and I open my wallet again. And so it has been through Dragon Naturally Speaking, Nuance Naturally Speaking, MacSpeach Dictate, and now Dragon Dictate 2.0 for Mac.

Then as now venders have touted:

  • Accuracy over 97%. The current version of Dragon Dictate 2.0 for Mac touts a 99% accuracy out of the box. Frankly I don’t see the improvement over the years. It’s not that voice recognition is not that good. It is just that it has been around 97% for a number of years now. No one was touting 75% accuracy back in 2000. Even then, venders advertised better than 95% accuracy and it was well in the realm of possibility to achieve it. Certainly, the amount of training required has decreased. I recall reading excerpts from Arthur C Clark’s 3001, or Dave Berry in Cyberspace, that lasted well past the point of any entertainment value. Yes, there is an enormous value to getting a high degree of accuracy right from the start, but engine accuracy has been good for a number of years now. There is still a high degree of training involved: users must stop slurring words, and the program needs to learn the names of organizations so that “Peak Vista Community Health Center” does not come out as, “peak vista Community Health Center.”
  • Improved speed. From a getting-words-to-the-page perspective, I do not see a significant speed increase. For the last 10 years, I have had an accuracy slider letting me choose between accuracy and speed. And the words got to the screen about as fast then as now. I have no doubt that there are orders of magnitude more processing and comparisons against ever larger dictionaries taking place behind the scenes nowadays. However, that is just the point: despite the the activity inside the black box, I do not see that much change with what happens on the screen.

I suspect most users who have been using voice recognition for more than a few years realize that it is as fully baked as it is gonna get. As much as the advertising focuses on accuracy and speed, I think it is other features that win over users. I think Dragon (Nuance) has been smart in adding functionality to Naturally Speaking (and now Dictate 2.0 for Mac) Read the rest of this entry »

Voice Recognition Review: MacSpeech Dictate and RevoLabs xTag Wireless Microphone

Filed under: Software | Tags: , , , |

(Originally published on Colorado Social Security Law)

I recently added MacSpeech Dictate, a voice recognition software package for Macs to my technology arsenal. Many readers may be familiar with NaturallySpeaking, a robust voice recognition software package for PCs. I was previously a NaturallySpeaking user, before switching to the Mac. If you are a PC user, NaturallySpeaking Preferred, is a great program for dictating and controlling your computer.

Unfortunately, if you were a Mac user, the voice recognition software options were not as good.

Many users continued to use NaturallySpeaking on a Mac through various workarounds; either through Boot Camp (which allows you to run Windows directly on Apple hardware), or by virtualizing a Windows machine via a program such as Parallels or VMWare Fusion. The advantage to virtualization is that you could run both operating systems, Mac OS X. and Windows (XP or Vista) side-by-side.  But, the dictation was limited to the Windows side: you could not select a Macintosh window, and dictate into it when you were virtualizing NaturallySpeaking.

My, how times have changed! MacSpeech has recently released Dictate, a voice recognition software package utilizing the NaturallySpeaking voice recognition engine. This is a native OSX program that finally lets Mac users easily experience what Windows users have had for years. Read the rest of this entry »