Affinity Consulting Blog

With the release of cheap but decent Windows 8.1 laptops like the well-reviewed HP Stream or the Asus X205 I am using, is there any reason for a lawyer to consider a Chromebook? As a Chromebook user (we have three in the family including my wonderful Acer C720p with touch screen), I would say yes.

Performace is zippier on my Chromebook than on the Asus X205, and the Chromebook is more secure and easier to maintain. However, the Asus arguably meshes better with my regular Windows-based workflow.

Which to choose for a lawyers cheap portable device?

You've heard that your iPhone or iPad will run faster and longer if you close apps you are not currently using. Wrong! Doing so can actually be counter-productive by slowing your use of the device and by hurting battery life when iOS has to restart that app the next time you use it.

Lawyers have an enhanced need for data security. Ethical obligations and common sense tell us that we can't allow client data to be compromised. Lawyers who carry portable computers stuffed full of confidential client and law firm data have used full-disk encryption for protection. For years, TrueCrypt was a top choice for full-disk encryption software on Windows laptops.

Then in May of 2014, TrueCrypt suddenly shut down and further development was halted. The question was why? Did the developers find an unfixable vulnerability? Or was TrueCrypt too secure and the government forced a shutdown? There is much speculation, but no answer.

Consumer advocates advise buyers to skip extended warranties. These extra-cost items tend to be good deals for the merchant, but not for the buyer. However, buying a tech device on a credit card can give you a free extended warranty - if you use the right card.

The ABA's Law Technology Today (LTT) blog recently provided tips on how to search for case law on Google Scholar, a great free legal research option. The full post with many basic and advanced tips can be found here.

Although they are great devices for lawyers, iPads (and other iDevices) have one notable shortcoming. They do not have expandable storage. Many Android and Windows devices have micro-SD card slots to expand storage by as much as 128 GB. With an iPad, whatever came on your device when you bought it is what you are stuck with - until now.

Many lawyers are "dead in the water" if their primary office or home Internet connection goes down. Fortunately, most Internet Service Providers (ISP's) take their customer service obligations seriously and restore service quickly. But that is not always true. Some providers, Comcast comes to mind, are notorious for poor customer service. When your office or home connection goes down what can you do to stay online?

There are many ways to get on-line today. Our homes and offices all have Wi-Fi. And most of us carry smart phones with the ability to function as Wi-Fi hotspots. However, phone tethering comes with considerable battery drain while eating through our precious and expensive monthly data allowance. Finding a Wi-Fi hotspot is a more economical option.

This may be categorized under TMI (too much information), but my story may stop you from being sanctioned in court. First, some background. I have a virtual appellate practice. I work in various place, including at home. I am currently using an iPhone (a hand-me-down from my grandson) because my beloved Galaxy Note II took a coffee bath and did not survive. I have a new Android phone ordered (Moto X), but for now I am an iPhone user. I also have and love my iPad (4th Gen with Verizon 4G).

Last Friday, early in the morning while my iPhone was still connected to its charger on my nightstand, I was in the "library" reading blog posts and catching up on email when I heard my iPhone ring. Then, to my complete shock, my iPad started to ring. I could see that it was my daughter calling from graduate school with a tech question (she is a Mac user and needed to find a program that let her read IBM statistics files). I was able to answer the call on my iPad and communicate with her using the iPad's mic and speaker. A headset (wired or Bluetooth) would also have worked.

This was amazing! I'd already upgraded both the iPhone and iPad to iOS 8 and this capability is a feature of the new operating system. However, as pointed out by Jeff Richardson of the wonderful iPhone J.D. blog, this feature can get you in trouble in court. We are used to silencing our phones before entering a courtroom. But many of us also use our iPad's in court. We don't think to silence our iPads because, before iOS 8, they didn't ring. Now they do.

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