Volume 18, Number 8
Holiday Grab Bag
By Alan Pearlman
In a few short weeks we will all be gathered with our families, sitting close by and opening several nicely trimmed boxes, hoping we've received something we truly wanted. In an effort to forestall the usual complement of bathrobes and/or ties, here is a wish list of the latest in both legal-specific and just plain nifty technology.
The folks at C Technologies US Inc. (877/ASK-CPEN) have come up with a useful and just plain fun idea. It's the C-Pen, a handheld scanner about the size of a marker pen, that scans lines of text. You can use it for newspaper articles, case law, or relevant portions of any contract, letter, business plan, etc. Model 600c uses two AAA batteries and has a four-row LCD display; it can hold nearly 2,000 standard pages of text in 6 MB of flash memory. Model 800c holds 3,000 pages in an 8 MB flash memory, uses a rechargeable NiMH battery, and has a seven-row LCD display. Both carry a great set of software features, including a dictionary.
By the end of any workday, I generally end up with a number of new business cards in my pockets. No matter how hard I try, I never seem to get the cards off my desk and into my computer. But now my desk is completely card-free, thanks to the Corex Technologies Corp. (800/942-6739) and the latest iteration of its flagship product-CardScan 600c. The 600c is USB only; scans in full color; and is smaller, faster, and sleeker then earlier product versions-in fact, it's only half the size of earlier versions. This makes it travel-friendly for card scanning on the road!
The CardScan Executive 600c also has the ability to sync with PDAs such as the Palm, Visor, Sony CLIE, IBM WordPad, Psion, Pocket PC, and Windows CE devices. With one mouse click you can sync to any of these and transfer into other contact areas. It also works with all of the major contact managers, including Outlook, ACT, Daytimer, Goldmine, and Lotus Notes and Organizer.
I have always found storage and backup a problem as well as a large expense. Iomega's (www.iomega.com) Peerless Storage device provides fast, high-capacity storage (10 or 20 gigs), allowing you to back up your entire hard drive on one disk. It has the ability to store up to 20 hours of streaming video, your entire CD collection, thousands of MP3s, and complete video graphic libraries.
It is super fast, with transfer rates up to 15 MB/sec, and is the first high-capacity removable storage medium with cartridges available in 10 or 20 gigabyte configurations. (That's right: gigabytes.) The drive supports modular connectivity, so you can link it to FireWire and USB computer interfaces. Additional interfaces soon may also be available that will link the Peerless to your satellite TV, home entertainment center, or even your car.
Another Iomega hit is the HipZip digital audio player, a portable device that gives you skip-free, CD-quality sound in a cool, compact design. The HipZip also doubles as a PocketZip storage device, so you can download and transport spreadsheets and images to collect and organize your music. The HipZip offers solid protection from accidents or spills, and the full metal housing on each PocketZip disk is equally durable. One 40 MB PocketZip disk ($10) stores more than 80 minutes of your favorite music. At that price, anyone can build an affordable portable music collection. PocketZip disks are uniquely serialized, so your player can tell one disk from another, and reformatting is unnecessary. Use your serial number to lock content onto your disk.
Another very cool item is the Iomega FotoShow. Imagine going on vacation for the week with your digital camera and taking only one flash memory card. Now imagine taking thousands of pictures without worrying about the expense. Make this a reality with the Iomega FotoShow. Simply transfer your digital photos directly from more costly CompactFlash, SmartMedia, or Microdrive onto affordable Zip disks and keep on shooting. With the car power adapter (sold separately), you can even transfer photos in your car without a computer.
FotoShow also lets you impress your clients. Save your PowerPoint slides as JPEGs and make your presentation on a TV screen-no need for a computer or expensive projector. It's a great way to show real estate, demonstrate products, welcome customers at a tradeshow, or display items in the courtroom! You can organize, edit, crop, and enhance photos, even by remote, or quickly copy digital camera memory cards onto Zip disks without interruption.
The FotoShow Digital Image Center is a full-featured Zip 250 drive for your computer. Simply connect it to your USB-enabled computer and use it to store and back up all types of files and applications instantly. You can transfer photos from the hard drive as well as those that have been scanned, sent via e-mail attachment, or downloaded from the Internet.
Adobe (www.adobe.com) has been working on making business publishing much simpler and easier for novice users, and its newest PageMaker 7.0 illustrates how to get the job done. It's the ideal page layout program for business, education, and small- and home-office professionals who want to create high-quality brochures or newsletters, for example. It lets you get started quickly, with templates, graphics, and intuitive design tools; work productively across Adobe applications; and easily leverage existing content to create customized communications.
Adobe PageMaker 7.0 includes a number of new features that help you easily produce professional-quality business communications for print, press, and electronic distribution. Specifically, you can:
- Merge text and graphics stored originally in spreadsheets or databases to create custom publications, including form letters, mailing labels, and envelopes.
- Create and view Adobe Portable Document Format (pdf) files. Add document information, change security and compatibility options, embed tags for accessibility, and modify advanced Acrobat Distiller settings-all with PageMaker.
- Easily place Adobe PDF files created with Adobe Photoshop 5.0-6.0 or Adobe Illustrator 9.0 directly into PageMaker publications.
- Save time by importing native Photoshop and Illustrator files. You can drag and drop the native file or use the Place dialog box.
- Use a converter utility to open Quark XPress 3.3-4.1 publications directly in PageMaker. Use the same utility to open Microsoft Publisher 95-2000 in PageMaker (Windows only). Import and export text and graphics to and from Microsoft Office or Word applications.
Sony, a familiar name in electronics, has joined forces with Dragon Naturally Speaking Mobile voice-to-print software to create Sony's slim ICD-BP100VTP Digital Voice Recorder. The recorder fits in a pocket for easy access and converts your recorded files to text. Up to two and a half hours of recording time are available on the integrated circuit chip, which can be recorded over and used again. A total of 297 separate messages can be recorded, and the recorder is USB compatible for fast transfer to a PC.
If you prefer, Sony also offers the Sony Memory Stick, ICD-MS1VTP, which is a slick, full-function dictating machine. Featuring Dragon Naturally Speaking Preferred V5.0 software, advanced digital voice-operated recording, removable Memory Stick media, and Memory Stick Voice Editor software for downloading files to a PC, this recorder takes the notes for you.
If you have a Visor, Palm, or Pocket PC, but are still not using a portable keyboard, then now is the time to put one on your list. Targus now makes keyboards for the Visor, HP Jornada, Sony CLIE, and Compaq IPAQ. The Stowaway Portable Keyboard for the Handspring Visor lets you to easily enter text into your handheld without having to carry around a full-size keyboard. Pocket-sized, it folds out into a full-size keyboard and is an essential add-on. HP's PA820 model is designed to work specifically with the HP Jornada 520 and 540 series color pocket PCs and offers the same features detailed above. All of the Targus Stowaway keyboard models are easy to use and make working with your PDA an easy task!
If mobility is part of your daily routine, ask for a new piece of luggage that will let you do your work or lunch at a portable table. Flightable (www.azpac.com) has just the thing for your travel needs-a convertible carry-on (see figure 8) within the 22-inch boarding size regulations of most U.S. airlines. It's made of high-impact polystyrene and polyester.
If you are not wireless by now, it's time for you to treat yourself to Motient's RIM 857 or 957 handheld (see figure 9) (www. motient.com). This all-in-one organizer and wireless e-mail service is just the thing to keep you going on your travels. The following services are available:
- eLink wireless e-mail service-the power of e-mail, the portability of a pager, and the functionality of an organizer, all in the palm of your hand.
- eLink service fortified with Yahoo!-access Yahoo! content and services.
- eLink Enterprise-the same features as eLink wireless e-mail, designed to run behind a corporate firewall.
- BlackBerry-a unique hardware, software, and service solution.
- Wireless data services-enables communication, sales transactions, data monitoring, and transmission instantly and from virtually anywhere.
- Motient satellite communications services-telephone, dispatch, data, and fax connectivity throughout North America.
- MobileMAX2 and mobile messaging service on the Motient network are now available from Aether Systems (www. aethersystems.com).
Well, there you have it, ten of what I believe to be the best gadgets and gizmos of this past year. With any luck and a little prodding, you soon will be playing with the latest, greatest legal/technical toys. From all of us at GPSolo-Happy Holidays!
Alan Pearlman is a practicing attorney in Chicago and surrounding suburbs. In addition to his 28 years of active trial practice, he is the author of the nationally syndicated column "The Electronic Lawyer" and a frequent speaker at national legal technology seminars. He is on the editorial board of GPSolo's Technology & Practice Guide issues.