Edirol R-09 Recorder
Reviewed by Jeffrey Allen
Over the years Roland has built a solid reputation for fine quality audio products. One of its most successful recording units, the R-1, has been a standard “portable” recorder for some time. Recently, Roland released a new and much more portable recorder that it calls the Edirol R-09. The R-09 provides many of the features of the R-1 in a smaller (pocket-sized), less expensive, and much nicer looking package.
The R-09 comes in your choice of any color (as long as it is black, red, or white). It lists for $450, but you can purchase it online for substantially less. Although Roland designed the R-09 for music (and it does a great job recording music), you can also use it to record speech. While you may want to use it for music in connection with your personal life, no doubt the ability to record speech will come in handier in your practice.
The R-09 does an excellent job recording such things as meetings, hearings, depositions, presentations, lectures, and the like. Therein lies its utility to attorneys. The recorder does an excellent job picking up voices in different parts of the room and at different levels and tones. Use the AGC (automatic gain control) feature to get the most out of the R-09 in such situations. The Low Cut switch will cut out (or at least substantially reduce) ambient or background noises, such as HVAC units, fans, and motor noises. Do not get the R-09 thinking you will use it for dictation. While you actually could do that, you will not like it for that purpose, as it does not have dictation-friendly controls.
The R-09 uses a white on black display. The high contrast makes it fairly easy to read. The controls appear relatively straightforward and should not take you long to master. One of the nicer features of the unit, a level meter, makes it easy to see when the recorder requires adjustment to keep the subject in range. It also makes it possible to use the recorder effectively in a wide variety of environments ranging from very noisy to quiet.
The R-09 measures approximately 2.5 x 4.06 x 1.25 inches and weighs in at less than six ounces with batteries. You can easily fit it into a briefcase, a purse or even a jacket pocket. The R-09 can save in .wav and MP3 formats. The R-09 uses SD cards for memory. Using standard MP3 bit rates you can store more than 16 hours of recording on a 1 GB SD card. For more information, go to www.edirol.net. The ability to record directly to MP3 has the added advantage of allowing you to transfer files not only to your computer, but also to an iPod or other MP3 player for later review.
While it certainly costs more than some of the inexpensive digital recorders you can find, once you record a board meeting or a homeowners’ association meeting with it and compare what you get with the quality of a recording on one of the inexpensive general purpose recorders, you will likely conclude that the R-09’s performance justifies the difference in cost. If you want a digital recorder to make a few notes on or for dictation, you have better choices available to you. If you need a recorder to handle a wide variety of functions including meetings, depositions, hearings, lectures, and so forth, and want good quality recordings, the R-09 makes an excellent choice.
LaCie Rugged Hard Disk
Reviewed by Jeffrey Allen
In these days of changing security requirements for air travel, having tougher equipment and cases becomes a significant advantage. If you travel out of the United States, you cannot assume that you will get to keep your computer equipment with you on the plane. It may end up in the checked baggage, where, if and when you get it back, it will have had a much rougher trip than you did.
Even if you don’t have that problem, small hard disk drives tend to get banged around a lot. They generally do not have the peaceful luxury of resting on a desk day in and day out. They get carried from home to office to home or on trips to here, there and everywhere. They get shoved into cases that often get thrown around or dropped onto the floor. They get put on airplane trays and in other precarious places where they can get knocked to the ground. We all know that hard disk manufacturers don’t design them for dropping onto the ground. Well, mostly they don’t. La Cie, however, has recognized that, by design or not, the owners of its small portable hard disk drives may drop them on the ground.
In anticipation of this eventuality, La Cie has built the Hummer of hard disks; a ruggedized hard disk that, while not intended for dropping, can take a few knocks and keep on working. La Cie sent me one of their 100GB rugged hard disks to try out in connection with this review. When I unpacked the drive, the first thing that caught my attention was its bright orange rubber bumper. The bumper functions to provide some protection to the drive if dropped on its edge. Its bright orange color also makes it stand out in your computer bag or briefcase so that you can easily find it. The hard drive case has a scratch-resistant aluminum shell to help protect it, so it went into my case without a bag or any other protection.
The drive works with both Mac and Windows computers. The 100 GB drive connected with both FireWire 400 and 800 and with USB 2.0 ports. It worked as well and more quickly than most of the other portable drives that I have used because it ran at 7,200 RPM instead of the far more common 5,400 RPM usually seen in portable drives. LaCie says that the drive will withstand a drop of some 35 inches while the drive is not operating (strong recommendation against dropping it while it is operating). While I did not drop mine off of a table, I did put it in a computer bag that I dropped off my shoulder to the floor and from my hand to the floor on several occasions. It did not seem to phase the drive at all. It just kept on working.
The rugged hard drive also comes in 80 GB, 120GB, and 160GB versions in both USB 2.0 and the triple interface. The 100GB drive does not come in a USB-only configuration. You can also save a few dollars by choosing a USB-only model over the triple interface that I had on mine. The drive is bus-powered in both USB and FireWire configurations, so you do not need to worry about packing a power brick, only a connection cable. The drives weigh in at just under nine ounces.
It should not come as a surprise that you pay a premium for the ruggedization of the drives. The triple interface drives list for $170 (80 GB), $299 (100 GB), $229 (120 GB), and $249 (160GB). The 100GB drive costs more as it is faster than the other drives (7,200 RPM vs. 5,400 RPM). USB only drives list for $119 (80GB), $149 (120GB), and $169 (160GB). The USB drives all work at 5,400 RPM; the 100 GB 7,200 RPM drive only comes with the triple interface.
If you carry a portable hard disk around and use it regularly, this one belongs in your bag.
The Lawyer’s Guide to Fact Finding on the Internet
Reviewed by Jeffrey Allen
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the amount of information on the Internet? Have you ever thought that the Internet contained so much information that nobody could possibly know where or how to find it all? If you have not felt this way, you likely do not understand the breadth and depth of the Internet. If you have never felt this way, you need to read the third edition of The Lawyer’s Guide to Fact Finding on the Internet (2006). If you have felt this way, then you probably already know how useful a good guide would prove. In 755 pages of explanation, authors Carole Levitt and Mark Rosch present enough information on what you can find on the Internet that might help your practice and how you can locate it to overwhelm even those who thought they had some reasonable familiarity with researching facts on the Internet.
The Internet contains more information than any of us will ever have reason to access during our entire lifetime. It also contains significant amounts of information that will prove useful to us professionally, as well as in our personal lives. The authors have provided you with a very useful tool: a guide that takes you through the process of locating information on the Internet by telling you where to look and how to look to find what you need.
The book presents and discusses numerous sites, explaining what they offer, advising if it costs anything to obtain information from the site, and giving you the URL, allowing you to navigate directly to the site to obtain the required or desired information. A fairly comprehensive table of contents helps guide you to the part of the book that will help you find the facts you seek.
To help you with the search process, an enclosed CD includes several checklists for specific types of searches. The CD also includes an extremely useful searchable PDF file containing some 78 pages of URL information about sites and references to the pages in the book where the site is discussed. As each of the URLs functions as a link, copying the PDF file to your computer for future use makes it a valuable tool by itself because it allows you to quickly locate sites and navigate to them without having to keyboard the URL.
The authors also publish a bimonthly newsletter, which supplements the book. If you buy the book, they include a one-year subscription at no additional cost.
Despite the fact that the authors wrote the book in a style comfortable to read, you will not likely want to take the book with you for light reading on vacation. It will, however, serve you as a useful and timesaving resource and teach you a considerable amount about researching on the Internet. This book should be in almost every lawyer’s library,
The Lawyer’s Guide to Fact Finding on the Internet (3rd ed.), copyright 2006 by Carole Levitt and Mark Rosch and published by the LPM Section of the American Bar Association, lists for $99.95 (but you can get discounts as a member or, often, by attending the ABA TECHSHOW held every spring in Chicago).
The Electronic Evidence and Discovery Handbook
Reviewed by Jeffrey Allen
Sharon D. Nelson, Bruce A. Olson, and John W. Simek have done a masterful job in assembling useful information including forms, checklists, and guidelines to assist you in handling electronic evidence and ediscovery. Published in 2006 by the ABA Law Practice Management Section, you can have The Electronic Evidence and Discovery Handbook in your own library for $129.95 (often discounted for Section members and attendees of the ABA TECHSHOW).
If you do litigation, you will likely find yourself using electronic evidence and dealing with ediscovery in short order. If you are already an expert in this area, you probably don’t need this book, but may still find it useful. For those who do not already qualify as experts, Sharon, Bruce, and John have given you a handbook on dealing with ediscovery, the forms to use as your master set and a CD to make your life even easier. I won’t tell you that it reads like a novel—it doesn’t (isn’t that a novel comment?). I will tell you that I think you will find the first half of the book, the handbook and forms, useful and helpful.
The last half of the book consists of a case digest of 249 electronic evidence cases from all over the country. I thought the case digest in printed form was significantly less useful than the rest of the book. Each case in the digest is numbered, and the authors provide information as to the case name and court, but do not include the case citation. You can find that information in the table of cases at the end of the book, however. The cases each include keywords to assist in finding or following up with supplemental investigation or research. They do not, however, use the keywords (or at least all of them) in the index (nor does the index include references to the cases digested), thereby leaving you with no effective way to use the printed digest except to thumb through it.
I qualified my criticism in the last paragraph to the case digest in printed form for a very specific reason. The authors include in the enclosed CD many forms from the book in Word format so that you can easily adapt them to your needs. They also include a searchable PDF of the entire case digest and table of cases. The searchable PDF allows you to find what you need in the case digest and makes it a much more usable tool. I think that the PDF version would have sufficed and that they could have saved some trees; but I tend to prefer lots of things electronically these days and freely admit to that bias.
All told, the book is well done, and even though I know quite a bit about electronic evidence and ediscovery, I am glad I added it to my library.
Neither the ABA nor ABA Sections endorse non-ABA products or services, and the product reviews in the Technology eReport should not be so construed.