Windows 7 and 8 Updates Include Data Mining Features

Should you install the latest Windows update?  Depends how you feel about data mining.

Similar to Windows 10, the most recent updates for Windows 7 and 8 will collect data on users.  Unfortunately, the features that gather data on users seem to be somewhat unavoidable once installed.
Read more about the privacy concerns of installing these updates on Techlicious.

Getting Your Head into the Cloud

Whether you’re setting up a practice for the first time or upgrading existing technology, odds are you’re taking a long, hard look at the cloud. Here is a checklist to help you through the process.

Getting Started

Moving your data to the cloud is all about vetting the cloud provider – will they or won’t they keep your client information secure?  Here are your marching orders:

Research the Provider

  1. What is their reputation?
  2. How many years have they been in business?
  3. Are bloggers and news outlets critical or supportive?
  4. Can the provider give you a list of other lawyers who use their product?  (If so, check the provider’s references.)
  5. Talk to friends and colleagues: are they familiar with the product or provider?  What are their thoughts?
  6. If you belong to a listserv, poll the members of the listserv.
  7. Use the power of Google to reveal problems.  A general search using the product or provider name is a good start.  To uncover security issues, Google the product or provider name followed by the words “security concerns” or “data breach.”  To reveal if outages are a problem, search the product or provider name followed by the words “downtime statistics.”

Evaluate Speed and Reliability

Uptime, bandwidth, and general reliability of the Internet matter.

  1. Check on provider uptime statistics as part of your general research – see the discussion above.
  2. Make sure your technology is up to the task.  To use the cloud effectively you must have a fast, reliable Internet connection. If you don’t, contact your ISP.  If there is a remedy (and you can afford it), great.  If not, taking your practice into the cloud is likely not a good choice.

Read the Fine Print

  1. Dig into the provider’s website and follow any links that reference Terms of Service, Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, Security, or Service Agreements.
  2. Contact customer service for clarification of terms if needed.

Educate Yourself about Encryption

Every cloud provider encrypts your data.  The devil is in the details:

  1. Is your data encrypted at all times (in transit and at rest)?
  2. Does the provider hold a master encryption key?  (If so the provider can access your data at any time, thus defeating client confidentiality.)
  3. Is third-party encryption an option?  If the answer is yes, you can lock out the cloud provider.  A master key only permits the provider to unlock their encryption, not yours.  With third-party (AKA client-side) encryption, you – the user – apply your own encryption software before uploading any content to the cloud provider’s site.  Here’s the rub:  encrypting your own content isn’t always an option for compatibility reasons, so check with the provider.

Learn about Data Access Policies – “Authorized” and “Unauthorized”

Getting an answer to the master encryption key question will resolve whether the provider’s employees can freely access your information.  Now you need to ask:

  1. Will the provider notify you if authorities seek access to your account information?  (Some providers comply with subpoenas first and tell you about it later.)
  2. What is the provider’s procedure if a data breach occurs?

Know Before You Go: Security, Backups, Redundancy, and Local Copies of Your Data

  1. Find out what the provider has to say about the physical security of its facilities.  Features like fire suppression, redundant electrical systems, temperature controlled environments, video surveillance, and 24/7 monitoring by security personnel are standard.
  2. Learn everything you can about how your data is backed up. Where, when, and how.  A decent cloud provider has multiple servers that are geographically dispersed.
  3. Consider it a deal breaker if you can’t download a local copy of your own data. Keeping a local copy just makes sense.  First, it protects you if the provider goes out of business (some have).  Second, if the provider suffers a catastrophic breach you’ll still have a pristine copy of your information.  [Caveat: ability to download a local copy of your data does not mean you can work with it offline.  This is simply a way to protect yourself in a worst case scenario.]

Nail down the Details: Support, Training, Data Migration, and Data Integration

Cloud products are generally pretty easy to use, but at some point you’ll need help – maybe at the outset when you import your data – or later when you start using more advanced features of the program.  Either way, ask:

  1. Does the provider offer live telephone support?  Live chat?  Email?  What are the hours?  Is it free or is there a support contract?
  2. What resources does the provider have on its website?  Searchable knowledge base?  User forums?  Blog?  Training videos?  Webinars?
  3. Will the provider help you migrate your existing data?  Are you on your own?  If there is a fee for data migration, get an estimate.
  4. What about product compatibility and integration?  Some users need the cloud product to communicate with an existing piece of software, like QuickBooks or Outlook.  [Tip: don’t just take the cloud provider’s word for it.  Run another Google search: Is (cloud product name) compatible with (existing program)? If the blogosphere has spotted issues, you’ll uncover them quickly enough.

Product Cost and Licensing

Most cloud products are sold on a monthly subscription basis.  Do a bit of research:

  1. What is the current fee per user?  Any price breaks for multiple licenses?
  2. Research historic costs.  If monthly fees have jumped significantly in the recent past, factor this into your choice.
  3. Are product upgrades or new features included in existing subscriptions or is there an additional fee?
  4. What does a single license or a single user account include? Some providers are strict: one user/one license/one device.  Others are more flexible: one user/one license/multiple downloads: desktop, laptop, tablet.

Choose the Right Version

If your cloud provider offers multiple packages or products, proceed cautiously.

  1. Look for a Web page on the provider’s site that will compare the features of each version side by side.
  2. Call customer service when in doubt.
  3. Take advantage of free trials, which are almost universally available. A trial run is the best way to know whether you’re really going to like something.

Cyber Liability and Data Breach – What if the Worst Happens?

If you’ve decided to store your data in the cloud, it might be a good idea to have cyber liability and data breach coverage.

The Professional Liability Fund Excess Claims Made Plan automatically includes a cyber liability and data breach response endorsement with these features:

  • Forensic and legal assistance to determine compliance with applicable law
  • Notifications to individuals as required by law
  • 12 months credit monitoring to each notified client
  • Loss mitigation resources for law firms

If you aren’t eligible or don’t wish to purchase excess coverage through the PLF, contact a commercial carrier.

This is Too Much Work – Can’t You Just Tell Me What to Do or Give Me a List of Recommended Products?

No.  I can’t make this decision for you.  You and I have different likes, dislikes, needs, skill levels, and preferences.  (Think: Windows vs. Mac, Word vs. WordPerfect, or Mayonnaise vs. Miracle Whip.)

If you want to be happy with your choice, you have to make it.  We can talk, I can point you toward resources, or send you comparison charts.  But in the end you are the decider.

[All Rights Reserved 2015 Beverly Michaelis]

 

Windows 10 – Cool New Features

This is the last of three posts on Windows 10.  Previously I examined specifications, compatibility issues, and default settings for Microsoft’s new OS.  Today I review all the cool new features Windows 10 has to offer.

Print to PDF

At long last, Windows has native, built-in, Print to PDF.  Any Windows application that supports printing to paper will now support printing to PDF.

A New Browser

Tired of Internet Explorer?  Meet Edge:

Biometric Security

Windows 10 uses face, iris, and fingerprint recognition – not user names and passwords – to unlock your computer.  Check out this video posted on Techlicious.

Meet Your Virtual Assistant(s)

Cortana is Siri’s new competition.  Touted as Microsoft’s virtual assistant, Cortana responds to voice commands to set reminders, track your schedule, or find documents.  To get the most out of Cortana, check out PC World’s comprehensive how-to guide.  To search popular cloud services and all devices connected to your PC, get the add-on REACHit.  Learn more here.

The Clutter Folder

If you have a love/hate relationship with your spam filter (blocks too much/doesn’t block enough), you may feel the same way about the Clutter folder in Windows Mail.  Email you probably don’t care about (ads? listserv messages? broadcast email?) can find its way to the Clutter folder.  Check this folder often, and if you find that legitimate, important messages are being diverted to “Clutter,” move them back to your inbox.  Windows Mail uses predictive filing to guess which emails are less important, and thus subject to filing in “Clutter.”  Over time, the Clutter tool will learn your preferences.  Find the Clutter folder under the “More” button in Mail.

Better Support for Multiple Monitors

Windows 10 now lets you scale each display separately, for example: set one display ratio for your tablet, use another setting for your desktop monitor(s).

Sync OneDrive Files

Gain full access to your OneDrive files by enabling the “fetch” feature.  PC World tells you how.

Laptop Battery Saver

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could optimize the battery life of your laptop?  Windows 10 makes it easy as pie.  Click on the Start menu, select: Settings > System > Battery Saver.

A Better File Explorer

If you use File Explorer to find files, you’ll appreciate the improvements made in Windows 10. The new “quick access” view now displays the most used/most recent files and folders.

Load Windows Apps from Anywhere

Before Windows 10, users could only load Windows Apps from the Windows store.  Now you can “sideload” an app from any source – just be aware that using an unofficial source may pose a security risk.  PC World describes how to enable sideloading.

Save Videos from any App or Program

This trick requires using Windows 10’s “Gaming DVR Tool.”  If you want to save actual video – not just a screenshot – read more about this feature here.

Many thanks to PC World and Techlicious for their excellent posts!

Final Thoughts

Let the buyer beware.  Remember our old Latin friend?  It applies here.  These features ARE cool, but many permit Microsoft or third parties to collect or access data about you.  If you didn’t read last week’s post on default settings, please do!

 All Rights Reserved [2015] Beverly Michaelis

 

Windows 10 – Must-Change Default Settings

In my last post I discussed specifications and compatibility issues relating to Windows 10.  This week the focus is default settings.  Before you click away, consider the following:

  • During installation, “express settings” permits Microsoft to collect data about you
  • By default, Windows 10 shares private Wi-Fi passwords with your Outlook, Skype, and Facebook contacts
  • Microsoft Edge and Cortana collect data on you and your relationships with others
  • Apps can access your name, photo, and other account information unless this setting is toggled off
  • Windows Updates are on a “share to download” basis, which could cause some users to exceed data usage limits

To change these default settings, check out this excellent post on Techlicious.  Want to stop Microsoft from looking over your shoulder?  Consider the DoNotSpy10 app or switch from Microsoft Edge to Firefox.  Did your computer stop working after Windows 10 automatically updated your device drivers?  Maybe you want to turn that setting off.

Worried about what else Windows 10 might have in store?

Keep your eye on Your IT Consultant Information Technology Blog.  If there is a security issue – or solution – John Simek will find it.

All Rights Reserved [2015] Beverly Michaelis

 

Windows 10 – Specs and Compatibility Issues

Eager to upgrade to Windows 10?  Take five and learn about specifications and compatibility before upgrading your OS.  In future posts I’ll cover default settings you may want to change and cool new features.

Specifications

Not sure whether you can upgrade?  System requirements and additional requirements to use certain features can be found here.

Compatibility

Verify with your software provider that key programs are compatible or check the Microsoft Compatibility Center.  Consider these issues:

  • The DC version of Acrobat is Windows 10 compatible.  Acrobat XI hasn’t been tested on Windows 10 yet.  Will Adobe release an update?  Maybe.
  • Kaspersky is recommending users download the new version of their product before downloading Windows 10.  If you use another antivirus program, check with your provider!
  • SnagIt and Jing, the popular screen and video capture programs, are not fully compatible.
  • Quicken 2015 users report no issues with Windows 10; Intuit promises compatibility when the 2016 version is released.  Using an earlier version?  All you can do is try – but back up your data file(s) first.
  • QuickBooks seems to (mostly) work on Windows 10 if you have versions 2012-2015.  A notable exception is the 2014 Enterprise Edition, which crashes.

If you decide you don’t like Windows 10, you have 30 days to revert back.

All Rights Reserved [2015] Beverly Michaelis

 

Track changes: Display for review options (Word 2010 and 2013)

beverlym:

Track changes can be incredibly useful or drive you batty if you don’t understand option settings. Get smart by following CompuSavvy’s helpful hints.

Originally posted on CompuSavvy's Word & WordPerfect Tips:

People who use Track Changes sometimes find the Display for Review options confusing.  For one thing, some users don’t realize that changing the Display for Review option to “Final” (or, in Word 2013, “No Markup”) doesn’t actually remove the revision marks – for insertions, deletions, formatting changes, moves, etc. – from the document.  Rather, it merely lets you preview the document as it would look if you accepted all of the changes.[1]

For another thing, the wording of the options isn’t particularly easy to understand.  And the wording has changed between Word 2010 and Word 2013, but remains somewhat obscure.

This post is intended to help clarify the various Display for Review options available in Word 2010 and Word 2013.

Display for Review Options in Word 2010

In Word 2010, the Display for Review options are as follows:

Original

This option shows the document as it appeared before any insertions, deletions, moves…

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Not Wired to go Paperless?

Is it possible we’re not wired to run a paperless law office?

There is no doubt that digital archiving is the way to go.  Done right, scanning closed client files is both convenient and cost effective.  But does it automatically follow that lawyers should adopt a completely paperless work flow for active files?

Goldy has a longer attention span than you

We already know that the lowly goldfish has a longer attention span than humans thanks to our increasingly digital lifestyle.  What about processing data?  Is our ability to absorb and retain information equivalent in the digital and paper worlds?  What does the science say?

This is your brain on paper [and it works better]

Evidence suggests that absorption, understanding, and retention suffer when we attempt to digest information digitally:

Consider this excerpt from Ferris Jabr, The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus ScreensScientific American [2013].

Even so, evidence from laboratory experiments, polls and consumer reports indicates that modern screens and e-readers fail to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way. In turn, such navigational difficulties may subtly inhibit reading comprehension. Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it a little harder to remember what we read when we are done. A parallel line of research focuses on people’s attitudes toward different kinds of media. Whether they realize it or not, many people approach computers and tablets with a state of mind less conducive to learning than the one they bring to paper.

If you are still with me: what does this mean for you and your law practice?

If you’ve gone completely paperless – accessing, reading, and digesting information digitally – and feel you are getting good results, why not continue?  You likely made some adaptations along the way that were perfectly natural and work well for you.  Keep up the good work!

For everyone else, the most optimal approach seems to be the following:

  1. Go paperless at the end of a file’s life cycle.  Scan your file.  Return original client documents.  Shred the paper file OR provide it to the client.  Only keep paper if required.  For a refresher on that subject, review our File Retention & Destruction Guidelines, available on the PLF website.
  2. During the course of a case, use paper whenever it works best for you: notes, correspondence, paper-based discovery, materials received from the client.
  3. Strive to keep information that you create or receive digitally in digital form (pleading documents, memos, emails).
  4. Whenever you need to print digital information for review and markup, don’t hesitate to do so.

[All Rights Reserved 2015 Beverly Michaelis]

 

Office 2016 Preview

Interested in what the next version of Office has to offer?  Feeling a bit daring? Microsoft is offering a free preview of Office 2016 to all users.

What’s New in Office 2016

Check out this post from CRN highlighting 10 New Features That Will Turn Partners’ Heads:

  1. Enhanced document sharing, with prompts that discourage attachments and encourage links to content stored in SharePoint or OneDrive.  [Benefit: protects recipients from attachments that could be infected; ensures that recipients are accessing the latest version of a document.]
  2. Google Docs co-editing comes to Word. [Benefit: allows remote teams to collaborate real-time.]
  3. Improved help with “Tell Me.”  [Benefit:  any time you need help type your question in natural language into the “Tell Me” box and get answers immediately.]
  4. Create Work Groups within Outlook.  [Benefit:  “keep tabs on group activity, access conversation history, and manage files and group notes stored on OneDrive.”]
  5. Sway – a new alternative to PowerPoint [Benefit: supports drag and drop of Web content – including YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, into a browser/smart device app.]
  6. Excel on steroids, now with Power Query [Benefit: allows users to import and aggregate data from multiple public sources like Wikipedia and data.gov and create data visualizations – think infographics.]
  7. Improved menus across Office – open, close, save, browse, and add attachments in fewer steps [Benefit: more straightforward navigation, less hassle.]
  8. A new way to tame your inbox?  Microsoft’s Office 2016 Clutter tool analyzes inbox workflow and automatically moves messages you are most likely to ignore into a clutter folder [Benefit: ignore email faster than before!]
  9. Upgraded security features allowing IT personnel and administrators to set “data loss protection policies.”  [Benefit: adds file-level encryption; permits IT staff to restrict delivery of files, prevent manipulation of content, or store data in a “Customer Lockbox.”]
  10. Improved click-to-run.  [Benefit: strictly about making life easier for IT personnel in network environments.]

Bypassing the “Backstage view” When Launching Word 2013

beverlym:

download

Customize your view in Word 2013 in a few easy steps – more good tips from CompuSavvy.

Originally posted on CompuSavvy's Word & WordPerfect Tips:

Whether you are upgrading from an earlier version of Word or moving straight from WordPerfect to Word 2013, you’ll notice fairly quickly the rather unusual way the program handles basic tasks, including common file-management functions such as opening and saving documents.[1]  But even before you open or save a document, you’ll experience a dramatic difference from the way most Windows programs work.  Indeed, the very first time you launch Word 2013, you’ll encounter what Microsoft refers to as the “Backstage view” (and what I like to call “the File menu on steroids”), the screen that ordinarily appears when you click the File tab in modern versions of Microsoft Office.  That is because unlike most Windows programs, Word 2013 typically opens not to a new blank document but to the Backstage view.[2]

Even long-term users of Word might be perplexed by the Word 2013 “start screen.”  How do you…

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Adobe Acrobat DC

It is no secret to followers that I consider Acrobat to be the gold standard for PDF conversion and manipulation. I use it on a daily basis to insert, move, bookmark, and delete pages; edit and insert text and objects; remove metadata; redact; OCR; and much more.  


Since eCourt became mandatory in circuit court last year, the need for quality, comprehensive PDF software is more critical. (Mandatory appellate eFiling begins June 1.)


The New Kid on the Block 


Recently Adobe launched Adobe Acrobat DC, referring to “Document Cloud.”  This was a bit startling, as the name led some to believe that Adobe had switched to a cloud-only version of Acrobat.  Let’s set the record straight.


DC refers to a set of optional cloud services attached to Acrobat.  Here is an explanation of DC from Rick Borstein, author of the Acrobat for Legal Professionals blog:


Read more here.


eSigning

There is at least one reason you might want to consider using the DC part of Adobe Acrobat DC:

 

Learn more about electronic signatures here.

[All rights reserved 2015 Beverly Michaelis]