Rest in Peace, Finis Price

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of ahighly-regarded and respected fellow Trial Consultant and Blogger, Finis Price.I would always enjoy reading his reviews of various software and iPad apps forthe legal professional. At only 37 years old, he was already soaring among eagles.

Though our nation may be large, our community is small andtight. Here is the email which was sent to me by Don Gibson (The Trial Division, LLC), another fellowTrial Consultant:

FYI – Ted.

Subject: Finis Price

Those of you active at LinkedIn have probably heard of Finisor read some of his posts. He was an attorney from Louisville, Kentucky who,with his wife, a paralegal, had a trial support and presentation company calledTechnoEsq.

A marketing email I received today from ExhibitView containsthis sad news.

“We are saddened to learn of the passing of Finis Price,Esq. this past weekend. Finis was an incredible person, always willing to helpand was a consultant for us on our iPad app. He came to Georgia for our CLE inJanuary and everyone just loved him. He was the author of www.technoesq.comand he was a major authority on iPad apps and legal technology. Finis was fromLouisville, Kentucky and we, Bob Finnell, Esq. and I, Bill Roach will miss him,his laugh and his advice a immensely for a long time into the future. –Bill”

From what I’ve gathered it was an accident of some kind lastThursday. He was only 37. Those of you who know Ted Brooks might want to passthis along should he wish to post the news at the Trial Technology group.

Keep on soaring, Finis - we will miss you and your unique perspectives. 

iKeyboard for iPad, Touch Typing, and How Mavis Beacon Changed My Life

You may recall my first reviewsof the iKeyboard, which were both written prior to release of the finalversion. Even working with the prototypes, I was sold on the concept of havingthe ability to touch-type on my iPad, without requiring me to lug around aclunky external keyboard. I know, some will say that they're small, and caneasily fit into a briefcase or purse. Well, to that I respond - so can alaptop. The main attraction of the iPad is that it is a compact andself-contained device, capable of doing much of what a computer can do. Startadding external accessories and you're losing out on the real benefit of thedevice.

So, when I first learned of this project on Kickstarter, I was very interested.Kickstarter is a program in which you may invest in the development of someundeveloped product or idea. Some are better than others, and this is the onlyone I've actually been personally involved in. When I learned that thedeveloper was an attorney, I was even more interested. Cliff Thier, aConnecticut transactional and litigation attorney had a dream, and thanks toKickstarter, had some funding.

The Kickstarter program allowed one to invest at a fewdifferent levels, one of them which would include a first-generation iKeyboard, and also the second, oncereleased. Since I review a good number of apps and software, I was also sent anearly prototype.

This version worked well, but was a little bit on the clunkyside, due to its method of attachment to the iPad, using small side clips,making it difficult to use with most iPad cases. Even so, touch-typing on theiPad was now a reality. Having the tactile “feel” of typing, along with the “F”and “J” home key reference bumps means you can actually type without looking atthe keyboard.

The current version utilizes a series of sticky “magnets,”which hold it securely to the iPad’s screen.

If you have to ask me why touch typing is so important, Iprobably won't have an answer that will satisfy you. If you're convinced thatlooking at your on-screen keyboard is good enough for you get things done on youriPad, I'd guess that you fall into the category of the majority of users, whosee their iPad as a great way to do a lot of things, but probably aren't doinga lot of typing.

Backing up a few years - quite a few, actually, I reallylearned how to type by using a DOS program, called Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. Sadly, itappears that dear Ms. Bacon hasn't introduced a typing app for the iPad yet,but there are a few others available. In any event, back in 5 or 10 B.C.(before computers), I never had the need to learn how to do it correctly, sincefor the limited amount of typing I was doing at the time, I was able to get bywith the hunt and peck method. I can still recall playing a game which hadwords falling downward on the screen that you had to type before they crashedto the ground. Seems like a sorry excuse for a game, but here I am many yearslater, cranking out a good number of legal technology articles each year, inaddition to making a living using computers in trial presentation, which alsorequires a mastery of the skill. Mavis Beacon, I owe you one.

Back to the future, and my review of the iKeyboard. I willsay that other than a very brief test, writing this article is the first timeI've used the commercially available version, and although I'm a little slowerthan I might be on my laptop, I'm still a heck of a lot faster than typing onthe iPad's display, which is really little more than a modern version of huntand peck typing. 

According to Cliff Thier, the key tension and response aredesigned to emulate the Apple keyboard. While I can't personally say whetherthey've nailed it, I will say that it does take a little time to get the feelof it, but once you do, your typing speed increases a great deal.

In order to be comfortable while typing, I'd recommendgetting something like the CandyConvertible case, which I'm using now and have reviewed, or the Apple Smart Cover. Either ofthese (and there are others) will allow you to add a slight angle to your iPad,making it much easier to read what you're typing - because you're not lookingat those keys any more now, are you?

In conclusion, for $35, you can add touch-typing to youriPad, and you won't have to carry around chargers, batteries, or other externalaccessories in order to do so. Not a bad investment, available in black orwhite.

Popular Cloud File Storage Apps Compared

It is estimated that nearly 300 Billion emails are sentworldwide daily, according to a 2010study by the Radicati Group, Inc. The massive amount of data and webtraffic is mind-boggling, with some highlights shared in Internet 2010 in Numbers,an interesting compilation of facts and figures. While email was onceone of most efficient methods of moving relatively small amounts of data fromone point to another, nowadays, with plenty of convenient alternatives, you don’thave to choke both sender’s and recipient’s email servers with ten pound email attachments.Here a few services you can use, each offering a free level of storage andservice, along with full-featured paid upgrades. I've also included a handy comparison chart at the end of this article.

I’ll list Dropbox first, since it’s the one I personally usemost often. This is a referral link which gives you an extra 250MB on your freeaccount. Dropbox is primarily a cloud-based storage service, but now alsofeatures a decent method of file-sharing at the folder level, and also happensto be perhaps the most popular method of moving files to and from iPad apps.There is a version for the desktop of your PC as well, which automaticallyremains synced to the cloud. So, you can actually use this as an offsite backup.The file-sharing occurs when you select others to share a work folder with, andthen you can add or remove files for all to have access. Bear in mind, if youdelete the files from your desktop version, they will also be deleted from the sharedfolder. You can also share individual files an unsecured “Public” folder via alink, such as I’ve done here with mybio. Just be aware that there are no password requirements for anyone todownload from your Public folder, so anyone choosing to download and distributemy bio is free to do so. Go ahead, try it.

YouSendIt started off as more an email replacement forsending large attachments, but now they also offer free storage. You are ableto send files to their server, which then generates an email sent to yourrecipients with a link to download the file, or files may be saved in the cloudon their server. With upgraded versions, you can select multiple files, or evenentire folders. The zip feature is actually much faster than locally zippingyour files in my experience, and you have options as to how long the file willremain on the server, and how many downloads are permitted. This is probablythe easiest method of sharing files with others, since the recipient doesn’thave to have an account.

This service is similar to YouSendIt, although their initialfocus was more storage-based, with the option to send a link for sharing. Thisservice started as, and has been around quite a while, as one of the firstservices of its kind available to the public. One advantage of Box is that itfeatures 5GB of free storage, more than doubling the YouSendIt free accountlimit. There are lots of great features in both free and upgraded options. Sendinga file link via Box does not require the recipient to have an account. I hadn’tused this service in a few years, and am impressed with all of the updates andfunctionality.

This was designed primarily as a cloud-based workingdocument collaboration tool, where someone can post a document, and others canreview and update it. The key here is that the documents do not require you tohave any other office software. In other words, you could use you phone, iPador Android tablet for full editing ability. They have also recently rolled outa new Presentationsapp. Upon checking, I just noticed there is a new feature currently beingBeta-tested, which will allow you to save a local read-only copy of thedocument. It appears that although each of these cloud storage sites began withsome unique features, they are all becoming more alike. Overall, Google’soptions are becoming very attractive, with the ability to automatically uploadphotos from your phone, a calendar, Gmail, and a full suite of features.

Surprisingly late to the table, and also lacking in some ofthe best features noted in the above apps is Apple’s own iCloud. In any event,you’ll find the familiar suite of email, contacts, and your calendar, plus anoption to “find my phone” (or iPad), and an iWork icon, which is a cloud-baseddocument storage area for Keynote, Pages, and Numbers, while also serving as abackup for your iPad data with 5GB of free storage available. Upgrade optionsare available. Although this service is pretty much a no-brainer for iPhone andiPad users, the interface with the computer doesn’t seem to be quite there yet.After logging into my account, I would have expected to have access to the sameset of contacts, calendar, and email that I have on my iPad. Instead, they wereempty, and I could not locate a method of getting it all to sync up. Not sureif that feature is available yet, but it’s not practical to assume that anyoneis going to manually update their contacts again. Remember doing that each timeyou got a new cell phone? That is so 1980’s.

I would suggest getting at least a free account for one ormore of these.  You will likely findyourself naturally gravitating towards one or more to the point you’ll want topay for an upgraded version. This may be a result of discovering which worksbest for you, or because a client is using it, requiring you to upgrade to morestorage or functionality. Each brand offers several upgrade level options and someinclude personalized branding, although the comparison chart below shows onlythe least-expensive upgrade option for each. There are many other optionsavailable, which a quick search on “CloudStorage” will demonstrate. All of them include a login and web-basedinterface.

Click on chart to enlarge

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