Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ Category

OneNote in the practice of law

November 16, 2009

OneNote is a powerful tool all professionals should use, especially lawyers.

For those unfamiliar, OneNote is a Microsoft office program for note-taking, outlines, and so much more.  Today’s savvy student uses the program instead of Word or the conventional pen and pad.  However, I find that few lawyers use the program.  This is a shame, and I’ll tell you why.

Just take a look at one trial lawyer’s experience with the program:

My opposing counsel kept looking at me with obvious envy as I made my argument to the judge why certain key evidence should be excluded from the trial we were involved in. I could tell from the look on the attorney’s face that he was puzzled how I could refer to portions of the record, prior witness testimony, exhibits, case law, and a brief that I had previously submitted, all without a single piece of paper in front of me. The only thing I used was my laptop and a mouse. He sat at a table with loose papers piled haphazardly, manila folders strewn about, and a Bankers Box on the floor, stuffed to overflowing.

When my opponent was speaking, he spent as much time shuffling through his papers and folders as he did addressing the court. Eventually, his disorganization began to annoy the judge. At one point he simply could not find the case he was looking for. He begged the court’s indulgence and promised he would provide the case reference later, after he’d had an opportunity to reorganize his file during a break. The judge was not amused, was not willing to wait, and ruled against him.

from an article by Bruce Olson.

By using OneNote, this trial lawyer was able to stay more organized than his opponent, and it had a direct effect on the outcome of his case.  I use the program almost everyday, and I have found the most siginificant benefits to include:

  • Search feature – you can search an individual page, notebook section, or entire notebook.  The search feature is more powerful than Word’s “ctrl+f.”  OneNote’s search is more analogous to Google’s search power.  The search will display hits for your search in chronological order, and can be cycled through with ease.
  • Import print feature – any document you can print on your computer can be sent to OneNote.  The document will be shown as it would had it been printed on paper, but will be on a new OneNote page ready to be added to your notebook.  *What is more, you can search printed documents.  That’s right, OneNote will comb through the document making the document subject to searches.
  • Clip art feature – You can clip any section from your screen and quickly add it into OneNote.  It works just as well as a way to capture selected portions of a document when you do not want to print the whole thing.
  • Simple and adaptable – Above all, OneNote is so simple to use, anyone should be able to use these techniques with a minimum of time invested in learning how to use the program.  After you have the basics down, you can adapt the ways you use the program to fit your style. Keep in mind that it’s just as useful at depositions or motion hearings as it is at trial. In a sense, wherever you use a legal pad, you should consider using OneNote.

I firmly believe OneNote is a great tool that would benefit any lawyer.  Whether in trial or in the office, OneNote is a fantastic way to keep everything organized and ready to be used.  I’m glad to hear it was at an ABA TechShow.  Perhaps the rage will catch on soon enough.

5 Free Apps for Windows 7

November 9, 2009

Windows 7 is here, and so are many useful applications to enhance your computing experience.  Here are 5 apps that look particularly useful for Windows 7:

  1. Desktop Media – This app will automatically adds drive icons to your desktop. It will detect USB drives, fixed drives (ie. your hard drives), CD/DVD drives, network drives, and even RAM disk drives.
  2. Standalonestack 2 – This app allows you to move one step beyond the new Windows 7 features and create program “stacks,” or graphical lists, based off of a single icon on your desktop. When you click on this icon, you can use the ensuing menu of items to launch new programs, folders, or settings options. It’s like having a number of different Start buttons that you can customize as much as you’d like.
  3. 7 Taskbar Tweaker – This app is a simple utility for adding additional functionality into your default Windows 7 taskbar.  There are not a weighty list of items to play around with, but 7 Taskbar Tweaker’s modifications aren’t normally customizable options in the Windows 7 OS.
  4. Menu App – This app allows you to configure menus and use them to launch your favorite programs, music files, documents, websites, etc., all from the start menu.
  5. Rainmeter – This app provides desktop skinning without a ton of crazy configuration files to sort through.

These apps are reviewed at MaximumPC.  Enjoy.

Microsoft granted stay on Word ban

September 4, 2009

The U.S. District Court, Eastern Division of Texas has become a hotbed for patent infringement suits thanks to a judge with a history of siding with patent holders in disputes. The latest and highest profile case heard in the court was a patent infringement suit brought against Microsoft by Canadian firm I4i LP.  You can read more about it here.

Microsoft has won an decision to stay the inunction set to go into effect on October 10 that would have forced Microsoft to stop selling Word without removing some features. The Federal Circuit in Washington said it acted “without prejudicing the ultimate determination of this case.”

Oral arguments in the appeal are set to be heard in Washington on September 23 and the order for an injunction originally granted in Texas won’t go into effect until the appeal is resolved. The court said that Microsoft met the  conditions needed to be granted a stay.

Read the full story here:  Dailytech.

Apple is Losing the College Crowd

August 23, 2009

Looks like Microsoft’s ads, combined with the recent success of the Netbook, have taken a big bite out of the Apple.

As the back to school shopping season kicks into high gear, look for OEMs to push PCs with product bundles and all kinds of enticing offers. For Apple, that might mean once again bundling an iPod with the purchase of a new Mac or MacBook, but that might not be enough. According to a new study by consumer electronics site Retrovo, college-bound students are less willing than ever to pay the so-called “Apple Tax” by purchasing a pricier Mac.

“While Apple has done well historically in the education market, 2009 marks the dawn of the netbook,” says Vipin Jain, Retrevo CEO. “Students told us they wanted longer battery life, smaller size, and a lighter laptop. 58 percent of them plan on spending less than $750. Only 18 percent have a budget over $1,000.”

It also isn’t helping Apple’s cause that “retailers are working overtime to attract students,” such as Wal-Mart expanding its laptop selection by 40 percent and partnering with HP to make a sub-$300 Compaq Presario.

But take the survey with a grain of salt. While respondents were selected from a random sampling of Retrevo’s 4 million monthly visitors, the sample size was only 300.

For the full article, click here.

Texas Judge Bans Microsoft From Selling Word in U.S.

August 12, 2009

US District Court of Eastern Texas judge, Judge Leonard Davis, has ordered sales of Microsoft Word in the U.S. banned until a final judgement is reached.  The injunction also came with an order for Microsoft to pay an additional $40M USD for willful infringement, $37M USD in prejudgement interest, and $21,102 per day in additional fines.  The court also is asking that Microsoft hand over $144,060 a day, until the final judgement and damages are paid (though it may get some of this money back).

How did Microsoft get into this mess?

Microsoft’s Office 2003 and 2007 wove XML into Word, with the introduction of .docx, otherwise known as Office Open XML, as the format of choice.  The new format brought an open standard and better storage to the application.  Unfortunately, it also turned into one of the company’s biggest legal headaches.

In making Office, Microsoft implemented technology seemingly covered under a 1998 patent (No. 5,787,449) by a developer of collaborative-based content solutions, Toronto-based i4i.  The patent covered “manipulating a document’s content and architecture separately.”

A Texas federal court ruled in May that Microsoft had infringed on the i4i’s patents and ordered Microsoft to pay $200M USD in unpaid royalties.  Microsoft was reportedly hurt in the proceedings by a published trail of emails that indicated that the company knew that it was infringing on i4i’s work.  Microsoft disagreed strongly with the verdict and promised to fight it in appeals court.

Until the final decision is reached, Microsoft is banned from selling any version of Microsoft Office containing copies of Word that can open .XML, .DOCX, or DOCM files containing custom XML.  Microsoft has a mere 60 days to comply with the injunction.

With Office being one of Microsoft’s staple products, and with the .docx format being the current default format, an appeal seems inevitable.  Microsoft has not issued a formal response yet to ban on Word sales.

Content courtesy of Daily Tech.

Microsoft Backs Down, Edits Ads in Response to Apple’s Demands

July 29, 2009

Chalk up another one for Apple’s legal team.  I’m sure you’ve seen the ads on TV, where John or Jane Doe are shopping for computers and chose PCs over expensive Macs.  The ads worked so well in fact, Apple’s legal team has been begging Microsoft to pull the ads.

Microsoft COO Kevin Turner glibly remarked at a recent conference:

. . . two weeks ago we got a call from the Apple legal department saying, hey — this is a true story — saying, “Hey, you need to stop running those ads, we lowered our prices.” They took like $100 off or something. It was the greatest single phone call in the history that I’ve ever taken in business. (Applause.)

I did cartwheels down the hallway. At first I said, “Is this a joke? Who are you?” Not understanding what an opportunity. And so we’re just going to keep running them and running them and running them.

Most amazingly, just days after that bold proclamation, Microsoft has caved to Apple’s demands.  Microsoft’s legal team must have prevailed over Kevin Turner as Microsoft has made extensive edits to its latest online ad, removing select portions of it that referenced Apple’s prices.

Microsoft had just posted a new ad that featured a college student, Lauren, shopping with her mom for a new computer.  In the original ad, Lauren’s mom had bemoaned “This Mac is $2,000, and that’s before adding anything.”

Microsoft not only removed that scene, which mentioned the previous price of the 15″ MacBook Pro (before Apple’s latest price cuts), but also removed nearly all other references to the Macs’ prices being high.  In the new ad, the only mention of price is an ambiguous comment by Lauren that “It seems like you’re paying a lot for the brand.”

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that the edits were in response to Apple’s complaints.  They add, though, “This does not change the focus of the campaign, which is to showcase the value and choice of the PC.”

For a full expose, check out the report in the Daily Tech.