I’ve had countless computer bags over the years, varying in size and style from roller bags, messenger bags and backpacks to one called the “Sherpa.” But it was always problematic finding a carrying bag that didn’t feel too cumbersome or—literally—like a pain in the back. At last, someone has designed the ultimate bag for the road warrior.
BBP designs bags with the modern traveler in mind. While the company’s “urbanomic” (urban + ergonomic) backpacks look like messenger bags, you can actually switch back and forth between the two styles, depending on your carrying needs. You can do this quickly, with just a few easy steps, owing to BBP’s “Bak2Pak” carrying system of convertible straps. How easy? Check out the instructional video on the company’s home page.
BBP (which humorously stands for “bum back pack”) offers its product in multiple colors and in three lines—the Hampton, Street Flow and Biz Collections. I’ve been using a Hampton model (in Abyss Blue Tango) for more than 14 months now and I’m still as happy with it as the day I bought it. These bags have a number of well-thought-out features that make a professional’s life on the road easier.
The bags have a separate padded laptop compartment as well as a large main compartment for papers and a separate zippered section with pockets for computer accessories such as your power supply, mouse, USB hub and so forth. The interior includes additional zippered and mesh pockets for small items, and there are straps to hold an umbrella inside the main cover. The exterior has two water bottle pockets and a number of small zippered pockets for a cell phone, MP3 player and the like, as well as a luggage-handle pass-through system.
Plus, the main cover closes with plastic buckles attached to adjustable straps—an especially nice feature considering that other bags use hook-and-loop closures, which can make a lot of noise every time you need to open the bag in a meeting or elsewhere (like a courtroom) where “quiet” should be the rule.
One caveat: If you’re looking for a really lightweight bag, then a BBP bag is probably not for you. Empty, the small bags weigh 3.5 pounds and the large bags top out at 5 pounds. All that weight, though, is due to good materials and great padding for your notebook and your body. Still, I do have a couple of nits to pick with the bag’s design. One is that the carrying handle is made of nylon filled with padding and I would like to see it replaced with a rubber-grip that uses safety wire for more comfort and strength when toting the bag by the handle. Also, the bag lacks a convenient way to store the straps when you’re not using them.
That’s it when it comes to my nits—overall, the bag’s design, quality and value are terrific for the price. However, I feel I should disclose that I’m on my second Hampton bag because a plastic swivel attached to one of the bag’s shoulder straps broke. But I don’t completely fault the bag—I’d given it seven months of very hard use and, in the bag’s defense, I was carrying a lot of stuff, including my full-size Dell notebook and its accessories, a very large number of folders and my Fujitsu U810 UMPC and its power supply. In my defense, it all fit. In BBP’s defense, they shipped me a new bag ASAP and only charged me $10 for the shipping.
Texting All Rainmakers
If you struggle with those awkward business card swap sessions, you’ll appreciate the simplicity and face-saving potential of DropCard, a handy new service that sends your electronic business card to those you meet. Best of all, it’s free. Here’s how it works. Go to the DropCard site, enter the information you want to appear on your card, and DropCard will create an electronic simulation of your card. (You can add your logo for a small fee). To send your card, simply text your prospect’s e-mail address to DropCard. Then you’ll get a confirming e-mail telling you when the card was sent. So the next time someone hands you their card while you’re juggling a cocktail and a crab puff, you can tell them you’ll send your DropCard-. And it’s especially handy when your last card has been swimming at the bottom of your bag collecting mystery stains. (Yes, we know who you are.)
If you aren’t a texter, you can send your card from the DropCard Web site—which is also handy for the times you return from an event with a stack of cards or a long list of new contacts. Rather than pile the cards onto that “to-do” stack sitting on your desk until you have time to send your marketing information, use the DropCard site to send off a batch of messages while people’s memory of meeting you is fresh. The cards include live links to your Web site and social networks, so contacts can learn about you there as well.
The nifty service can be a conversation starter, or help you exchange e-mail addresses in impromptu situations (the gym, the beach, the coffee queue). Meet someone who seems reluctant to dig out their card? Reach for your phone, ask for their e-mail address, and send along your DropCard. It’s sure to make a better impression than if you scrawl your e-mail address on the back of a Starbucks receipt.
Tapping LinkedIn Connections on Martindale.com
LexisNexis has announced an agreement with LinkedIn, the largest online professional network, to feature LinkedIn contacts on martindale.com . With LinkedIn connections displayed on martindale.com, users can tap into their online network to get more information and feedback about the lawyers and firms they are researching. Users will have instant visibility between lawyers they are searching and their personal LinkedIn relationships, which can serve as referral sources. When searching martindale.com for a lawyer, users will see LinkedIn icons within the profiles of lawyers who are LinkedIn members. Within the site’s law firm profiles, the LinkedIn icon will appear when the firm’s lawyers are LinkedIn members. In future updates to LinkedIn, abstracts and links to Martindale-Hubbell articles and other content will be distributed through the LinkedIn network.
Knowledge Management and Social Media
Inmagic has announced the upcoming release of Social Presto, a new, socialized version of its popular knowledge repository. Social Presto will blend social media features with an enterprise knowledge repository, including search, access and discovery tools, to give users a 360-degree view of their information assets. Presto’s unique approach yields an ideal application platform for integrating “top-down” vetted information with “bottom-up” social knowledge to address an organization’s most critical initiatives that span functional groups. This version of Presto will provide both managed and searchable interfaces to internal and external data, and will unify structured and unstructured content—including documents, images, audio, video, Web sites, blogs, RSS feeds and more.
Time, Billing and Tracking Software
Timeslips by Sage 2009 offers several new and improved processes and more flexibility and customizable features. Streamlined Billing enables you to complete routine tasks in fewer steps with customizable buttons activating user-defined billing procedures. User-defined reporting capabilities have been strengthened with new report fields, allowing you to include billing rates, overdue balances and last payment details. The new Timekeeper Contributions and Collections Report tracks work in process, billed time, paid bills and write-offs for each timekeeper. A simpler client and payment entry process offers the option of auto-filling transactions with a client’s current balance, and running conflict-of-interest checks automatically during the client entry process. Timeslips 2009 also offers several Help and Support improvements, making it easier for new users to get started and for longtime users to learn about new features.
The Next Generation of MacPac
The Sackett Group, Inc. has released MacPac 10 , a new document production and automation software program. MacPac includes the signature features of its macro and template predecessor, Legal MacPac, combining content management and document assembly functionality to create and manage complex documents. The new software includes an SQL server database with full offline functionality. MacPac 10 sites can manage user, practice group and firmwide content creation using a single interface and feature set. Users can create traditional templates for letters, memos, faxes and pleadings, as well as documents traditionally associated with standalone document assembly programs, including leases, wills, fill-in forms, clause libraries, and complex multi-document packages with question-and-answer storage.
Revolutionary Computer Forensic Software
Vere Software has announced the release of its online investigative forensic software WebCase. Used primarily by the legal community, government agencies and law enforcement, this investigative tool gathers data on cybercrimes involving identity theft, child exploitation, cyber stalking, credit card fraud and patent infringement. It enables you to effectively collect, preserve and present evidentiary data such as Web captures, video recordings, TCP/IP collections, image captures, keystroke logging and chat collections. WebCase is also used in the corporate sector for human resources related investigations, intellectual property investigations, industrial espionage and other instances where the collection of information online needs to be verified.