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December 2007 Issue | Volume 33 Number 8 | Page 28
Technology

Product Watch

Product Watch

To capitalize or not to capitalize? That is the question-well, at least when you're trying to get somewhere on the Internet. Here's advice about using the shifty Shift key.

With the end of the year upon us, it’s time for everyone to be thinking about their New Year’s resolutions. I suggest you make a resolution to try new technology that can improve the efficiency of your communications. My recommendations include Jott for e-mail and text communications; Skype Recorder to easily record and capture conversations using the Skype VoIP phone service; and Jing Project to capture desktop actions and share them as video with others.

Jott is a service that, when you first hear about it, may cause you to wonder, “How useful can it be?” I know that was my first reaction when I heard about this product. It was initially described to me as a way to send yourself voice-mail messages, which I can easily do with my digital recorder. However, while Jott is in fact a recorder, it is also a speech-recognition program, meaning it translates your spoken words into text.

You can send e-mail or text messages to individuals and groups that you set up through Jott’s Internet site. Once you’ve created a Jott account, you merely call in from your cell phone, tell Jott who you want to send a message to, and then record your message of up to 30 seconds. Jott transcribes your voice message and, depending on how you set up the recipient, it will either send an e-mail or text message to that person or group. It also includes a link to the audio file, so recipients can listen to the file in the event a transcription is unclear or the program was unable to transcribe every word. From my discussion with other Jott users, probably the greatest advantage of Jott is the ability to send yourself to-do items, billing items or brief memos, which you can then copy and paste into other programs. You can also send Jott messages into folders, such as those for expenses, to-do lists or particular work matters, and a copy of your message will not only be sent to your inbox or phone but will also be placed in your designated folder. Even though Jott is still in beta and free at the time I write this, it is definitely already a stable and useful product. Although no one knows what the final product will look like or what the cost will be, in its current iteration Jott is definitely worth trying.

For those of you who use the Skype VoIP phone service (and if you haven’t tried it, why haven’t you?), there may be times that you would like to capture the conversation. Skype Recorder from Extra Labs allows you to record Skype phone calls—whether they are to one person or a conference call with a group—in a number of formats, including MP3, WMA and WAV. Skype Recorder costs less than $15 for a single-user license. Before recording any conversations, though, you need to verify your state requirements for recording others. A handy place to start is The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press “Can We Tape” Web site.

Jing Project is an undertaking of the TechSmith Corporation, which makes software including Camtasia Studio for capturing video and SnagIt for image capture (think screen capture on steroids). Jing Project allows you to capture not only images from your computer, but also video of your desktop and then share it with others on the Internet. Potential uses include creating videos of how to use features of a program and then sharing it with others in your office, or pointing out issues in a document or image and then sharing that with others. According to the maker’s Web site: “The concept of Jing is the always-ready program that instantly captures and shares images and video … from your computer to anywhere.” While TechSmith points out that eventually this project will turn into something else, this software and online media hosting is currently available for free. If you have colleagues or family members who are always asking you how to do something on the computer, you can now capture the right way to do it and let them watch and learn through an Internet video. Neat.

About the Author

Nerino J. Petro, Jr. is a legal technologist and the Practice Management Advisor for the State Bar of Wisconsin. A former practicing attorney, he blogs on legal technology and practice management issues at compujurist.com.

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