I’m Back

September 13, 2006

Yes, I’m finally back. After weeks of illness, back troubles, and juggling work, interspersed with trying to bring a renovated vacation rental cabin to market, getting married, and then dealing with my husband’s knee injury, I’m finally able to think about posting to this blog.

Thanks to the friends and loyal readers who dropped me a note of concern. It was much appreciated and made the days brighter.

Onward and upward!

Rick Borstein’s blog, Acrobat for Legal Professionals, is worth a visit.  Rick is a Business Development Manager specializing in the Acrobat-Legal Market for Adobe Systems Incorporated. He’s also an Adobe Certified Expert in Acrobat and a member of the American Bar Association and the International Legal Technology Association.

His June 16th post, Commenting on Image-only PDFs,  explores tools in Adobe Acrobat to help you comment and mark-up PDFs that are images only (not OCR’ed text.)  His example was medical records containing signatures and handwritten notes.  I can imagine IP and Real Estate being interested in his recommendations, since they often encounter image-only PDFs.

Adobe Acrobat is a rich program – you or someone in your office should learn as much about it as possible to get the most efficiency from it.

Do’s and Don’ts

July 18, 2006

Allison C. Shields is the President of Legal Ease Consulting, Inc. and maintains a blog here.  Her article “Too Much To Do, Too Little Time” appears in July 2006 Law Practice TODAY.  The article’s aimed at attorneys but most of us could read it and learn from it. It reinforced for me the idea that it’s OK to say “No”, and to turn down clients who are more trouble than they’re worth.  Both notions were strange to me when I started on my own a year or so ago … but these are valuable lessons.

Give her blog a visit … and stop by Law Practice TODAY to catch her article and others in this Solo and Small Firm Issue.

Word? Normal?

July 18, 2006

I often read Word tips which recommend changing margins, or the “default” font, affecting the Normal template. The tips sound handy … until you wind up with a corrupted Normal template. How do you fix a corrupt Normal template? You blow it away! Delete the thing! Start over! And all your settings and tweaks to the Normal template are down the drain.  I’ve learned the hard way, don’t make changes to the Normal template.
How sad. What to do?

First, let’s define Normal template. As Word is installed “out of the box”, when it opens, it looks for a file named Normal.dot in a certain path. Normal.dot is the Normal template. In end-user speak, Word makes a copy of the Normal template and serves that up as a “fresh blank sheet of paper”.

If you close Word, then hunt down the Normal template and blow it away, then open Word again, Word regenerates a new Normal template. A vanilla outta the box Normal template, not the tweaked fudge ripple template (it’s hot here and I want ice cream!)

So tips to “permanently” change default margins from 1.25″ to 1″ by making a change in the File, Page Setup dialog box, then clicking Default [see screen cap below] are OK – BUT – they don’t really provide a sturdy solution to your need.  Why? Because they make a change to the Normal template.
word-chg-mgn.png

I’ve thrived on Word since Word 1.1, supported it, used it, cursed it, taught it, always at the end-user level because that’s what I am and that’s who I love. So I want you to have sturdy solutions that stand up to a day in your life with Word.

What to do if you know you always want to start a new blank document with margins 1″ all around, a Normal style of Georgia 12 points, first page headers/footers different ? You create a template with these settings [we’ll do that in my next post].

Before you create the template, think about how you want to use it – for letters, all Word documents, memos, faxes, outlines, etc.? As you think, try to tease out any default or boilerplate text [such as for a fax coversheet] because we can create several templates with different boilerplate text, if need be.

The next post is going to cover creating that simple all purpose template and provide you with a few ideas for making the template very accessible.  We’ll also look at using the template as a “base” for cleaning up a messy, badly formatted, possibly corrupted document.

Meanwhile, pineapple sherbet sounds good.

Quick Excel Tips

July 17, 2006

A few Excel tips on a hot summer afternoon …

  • Press Alt + Enter to force a new line in a cell.
  • To quickly select all the cells in a spreadsheet, click the “cell” above the Row 1 cell, to the left of the Col A cell [see the fat plus sign in the screen cap below?]
    xl_sl_all.png
    Or, use Ctrl + A , the universal Windows keyboard shortcut for Select All.
  • Quickly set column widths as wide as they need to be – place the mouse pointer between the column headings [see screen cap below] – and double-click.
    xl-best-width.png
    Select contiguous multiple columns by pressing and dragging the mouse across column headings – watch the pointer – it should take on the appearance of a downward pointing arrow.
    xl-sel-mul-cols.png
    Select non-contiguous columns by holding down Ctrl key while using the mouse to select various columns.  Once the above selections have been made, you can set column widths as mentioned in the 1st part of this tip.

Spyware Weekly is back!

July 17, 2006

My favorite newsletter, Spyware Weekly, is back.  Yayy!

Read or subscribe to Spyware Weekly at SpywareInfo.  SpywareInfo are hijackware and spyware removal specialists.  I’ve found the information shared on this site to be reliably top notch and timely.  There’s lots of background information for those who want to learn, and only excellent products are recommended.  Mike Healan’s opinions, rants and raves about privacy, security, and the state of computing are thought provoking, as well.

Welcome back Mike!

Andy Seldon’s Do’s and Don’ts of High-Tech Trial Presentations in Law Technology News (July 6) is especially useful because it doesn’t just concentrate on presenting technlogy … it focuses on common mistakes and suggests best practices so you can comfortably and professionally work with tech available to you in the courtroom.

Andy makes 10 well founded points. It would behoove you to read this article and absorb these points.

The 10 points are:

– Failing to learn and exploit technology.

– Incompatibility.

– Objectionable evidence.

– Going solo.

– Unprepared witnesses.

– Muddy waters.

– Overusing technology.

– No backup plan.

– Failing to make the necessary arrangements with court staff and checking the local rules.

– Not matching the technology to the case.

Andy Seldon is an attorney and is the director of information services for the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, based in Minneapolis.