Friday, March 31, 2006

USB Plug N Play Hassle - How The Alphabet Can Solve It

Ok - before I start the topic of this post that drew you in, I have to update you on a few developments. 3lephiphany has quoted Small Firm Life right at the top of his blogosphere taxonomy blog. He's looking at blogs the way Aristotle and Galileo looked at the stars - and Small Firm Life made the cut!

Ok - you're right, it went to my head. Then - as if my week were not exciting enough - Denise Howell of Bag & Baggage said Small Firm Life was cool! ("Too cool" was the precise quote). Let me tell you why that's gnarly (bag and baggage is Californian). Small Firm Life admires greatly Denise's cheap low-tech podcast that celebrates its lo-fi I'mtalkingintomycellphoneduringmycommute vibe. Not only that, but Denise declared the demise of the large firm as we know it based on tech developments in her podcast of 5/19/2005 based (in turn) on a theory of shared knowledge that was quite smallfirmlife in its take on the future of the legal profession. And if none of that impresses you, she sprinkles her podcasts with stories about buying the Paris Hilton line of costume jewelry on Amazon for girls in the neighborhood while raising a kid and holding down a job at Reed Smith!!!!!!!

Ok. Enough celebrity worship. And enough paragraphs that begin with OK. I had a problem plugging in a 1 GIG Sandisk USB storage device. These are great toys about $50.00 (after rebate) that you can put all kinds of files on. My partner started using them for intellectual property classes that we teach at NYU's night school. He just plugged it into NYU's laptop, hit the drive that said "removable device" and opened up his Powerpoint presentation. I thought he was a geek wearing it around his neck until I tried it. Have Sandisk, will travel. Maybe Paris Hilton can help us on the style front by slapping some bling onto this new neckwear.

So when plugging my Sandisk into my desktop, the drive showed on my network map, and the computer recognized the device, but I couldn't access my files. Last weekend, I bought a USB digital recorder Olympus DM-10 and had the same issue. Both times, the solution was the same. The DM-10 acts as an external hard drive.

Go to "My Computer". Right click. Click on "Manage". Click on "Storage". Click on "Disk management". Wait. When the drives show up, maximize the screen. You will see your problem device. Right click on it. Left click on "Change drive letter and paths". Assign an exotic letter of the alphabet. My Sandisk is now my "Z" drive and my Oympus DM10 is now my "W" drive. Apparently, the Plug N Play assigns conflicting letters of the alphabet.

Since I had to have a tech guy explain all of this, and my googlings on the topic and troubleshooting using HELP were useless, Small Firm Life just saved you a small fortune in time and wear and tear on your adrenal cortex. Go score a gig of bling and say your ABC's.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Reverse Blogging & Obsjur Epiphanies of a 3L

I check my Sitemeter (the button at the very bottom of my blog) to see who is visiting. Well, I can't tell everything about them, but I can tell what city they are from and if they've linked in from another blog. Sitemeter lists by location and by referral page. I can also tell if they've reached me as a result of a search - I can see part of the search. Interesting.

As I noted in an earlier post, I got a mention on, and the hits keep coming. That blog must have some CRAZY traffic. I checked out myshingle and it had really good material for small and solo practitioners, so I understand why. The other day I noticed some hits coming from The Proper Bostonian which appears to be a photoblog of very good looking young notquitesober people having an amazing party. Go figure!

Today I got some referrals from a site called I visited it and thought: wow! This is exactly the site that I was looking for when I started looking into legal blogs. It breaks down blogs by taxonomy (types of blogs) and by practice area. It's done in a very intelligent manner by an OSU student. I emailed him to find out whether OSU was Oregon, Oklahoma or Ohio - Ohio it was! It's a blog that I spent a little time with and I want to go back and spend some more. I hope he keeps it up. Denise Howell of Bag and Baggage talked about setting up a site like this on a sites she'd reserved - - I think that's the site she said she'd reserved. She was looking for volunteers was setting up a Wiki and I thought of emailing her, but I've got a million projects going in the next few weeks, maybe in late April.

Cruising the blogs that Ian Best (the 3L having the epiphany) put together, I found Ian's link to Obsjur - a Portugese legal professor who has launched a worldwide observatory of the legal blogosphere. It's linked to a blog called LEFIS (Europe) subtitled "The Weblog of the Legal Framework for the Information Society Network". The latest post is "Broadband for All".

I've strayed from smallfirmlife's narrow focus and mission. That's the point. There are some wild things just a click or two away, and some Portugese law professor is studying our blogs and blogging behavior for the Observatorio de la Blogosfera Jurídica. Some wildly ambitious 3L from the Buckeye State is reshaping our legal world and creating free legal resources that will be really helpful to us. Dig in!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Lawyer Podcasting-Extreme 'Casts iPod & Olympus

I have been doing a lot of digging on podcasting. I'm now getting my new music from the KEXP podcast and the Tartan Podcast (for the funniest podcast award I'm nominating Mark Hunter's tartanpodcast #10 on the dangers of cancelling your television license in Scotland).

I am completely hooked on Denise Howell's Bag and Baggage podcast. Her first podcast was from a cell phone outdoors overlooking the Pacific Highway. She also podcasts from her car as she drives to work. She's an intellectual property attorney from Reed Smith. I think she's an inspiration to small firm potential podcasters because she's using extremely cheap technology in a very creative way that is rough and unvarnished. Big firms usually like to make things perfect before they are published (as do small firms). I think that in blogging and podcasting, we will see the whole range of legal personas emerge - from the rough & ready warts and all to the superslick ultrapremium production.

So, I think that this post may be my first "real" podcasts. Let me explain. First, I broke smallfirmlife's cardinal rule, which is to try it cheap or free. I wandered by J&R and was sold an Olympus DM10 voice recorder. How it happened was that I was looking at cheap MP3 recording solutions and the clerk told me that if I was looking for quality to look at real voice recorders. The DM10 has a cradle to work with your computer, tons of functions and lots to figure out. Food for another blog. So after a number of travails, I made a rather awkward recording of Alexander Hamilton's Federalist Papers #1. I was reading from a 10-point font version of it from Project Gutenberg and was reading it cold, so my voice is quite awkward. You can check the audio quality. I was holding the recorder in my hand in my conference room and you can hear traffic passing by my office.

The second podcast was made from a $39.99 iFM connection to my iPOD. There is a pinpoint tiny microphone recorder in it that I couldn't believe caught ANY sound. I recorded this podcast as Small Firm Life #1 and dedicate it to Denise Howell. I walked quickly and breathlessly down city streets, rode in the subways, and tried to record while doing all of this. There is more info on the process of recording on the podcast itself.

To get podcasts onto the 'net from Blogger, you've literally got to subscribe to a whole 'nother service, since Blogger does not support audio files. Rather than dump Blogger and all of my posts (Blogger is free), I found an article on showing me how to use Blogger with another service. I chose, since they were recommended by Todd Cochrane. Denise Howell chose to keep her blogspot, so I'm not moving for now.

Lots more to say, but I have real work to do. Motion to certify a defendant class under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Lighthearted stuff!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Audacity of Podcasting & Popping

Napoleon's famous quote was "L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace". If I'm not butchering the French, it was Napoleon's philosophy of war - always be audacious. A short, insecure balding fellow, he managed to make his mark on the world and impress the ladies. Another famous quote attributed to him "Engage the enemy and see what happens".

Well, I engaged the audacious enemy last night with my first foray into podcasting. At least podcasting as defined by Bart Farkas, who wrote a book about podcasting discussed in one of my earlier posts (I haven't mastered the art of self-citation yet, and I'm in a hurry, so feel free to dig). Farkas said that any time you are creating an MP3 and transmitting it to someone, you are podcasting.

I downloaded the free Audacity software. Go to - you won't find it there, but you'll get a laugh. The software is at, it's free and open source. In Secrets of Podcasting, Farkas said that it was all you'd need.

It was easy to set up. I had a major hassle figuring out how to get Audacity to recognize my microphone, but once I did, we were friends. I took the online tutorial, which showed me how to make Bart Simpson's yells louder, softer, and bullet-shaped, or to delete a word from his dialogue with his teacher. Fun stuff for someone who knows nothing about audio engineering.

I recorded a passage from New York's Pattern Jury Instructions (I use them to draft complaints). I'm drafting a cybersquatting complaint and wanted to add state law claims that have not been preempted by the Lanham Act. My quote involved around the concept that "one is not entitled to reap where he has not sown." PJI 3:58 (1997 Supp. at 270).

I exported the file to the MP3 format. I played it, it worked. I put it in my Itunes library as "Track 1" of the Album "Procrastination Blues" (I am supposed to be writing a book and catching up on billables for clients). I then emailed it to my partner.

So I'm a podcaster, and it cost me nothing! The process, including my fumblings, stumblings, tutorials, and not understanding a single thing to start with took a maximum of two and one half hours (I actually downloaded the Audacity software in another session).

Problem: I am using a USB Senheisser microphone that I use for my Dragon dictation software. It "popped" all of my "P"s, so the sound quality of the recording was pretty awful. Looking at the recording, you can see from the sound waves that all of the "P"s are off the charts. I will have to explore whether I can eliminate popping through the Audacity software or whether I need new hardware. Consistent with this blog's philosophy, I will first explore the cheap or free solutions before buying a lot of expensive stuff I may never use. Fodder for future posts.

Lesson of the day: if you follow Napoleon's advice on audacity in podcasting, you may get popped.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Create Your Own Blog Workshop

Ron Katter, Co-Chair of the Committee on Solo and Small Practice of the New York County Lawyers' Association, has invited me to give a presentation called "Create Your Own Blog" at 6:00 p.m. on May 17, 2006 at 14 Vesey Street. In the meantime, I would like to collect success (and failure) stories about small firm practitioners and their blogs, and any tips anyone would like to share. I'll be happy to credit anyone who contributes tips, strategies, dos or don'ts or who can recommend places in the blogosphere that have good information on these topics.

At NYCLA's website, you can visit Ron's committee's page, send him an email and find out what they are all about.

This image looks like it was taken at an angle that approximates NYCLA's distance from the World Trade Center. Before 9/11 NYCLA was in shade and darkness. Today this historic building and St. Paul's Church, across the street, are bathed in bright sunshine due to that tragedy. Every time I walk down Vesey Street, the open sky feels heavy.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Video Emails & Video Skype

Ok, I bought a Logitech webcam. It takes only a couple of minutes to plug in. I can snap a photo of myself in an instant and plug the file in. I am not sure that I want too many pictures of myself sitting at my desk, but it's fun to do at least once.

I bought the expensive one that adjusts to the light and follows you around $109 at J&R. Not sure that I needed to spend all of that money, but I've been trying to push the tech envelope and you only live once.

It takes only a second to snap a photo or record a video (with sound) and attach the file to an email (the software does it automatically). It seems like a fun way to communicate with family (my cousin got a kick out of it). I'll have to try it on my siblings. I can think of a couple of business development applications, but they'd be more likely to send potential clients screaming in the opposite direction.

I did a video Skype today with my client in Austria. The first videoconference for either of us. It was a lot of fun - we've never met in person, so it was a great icebreaker and helps break down the language barrier. I suspected that he smoked cigarettes while we were talking, but now I know it's true. I think that this will be a good business application, and will be particularly good in diffusing and humanizing tense situations long distance. I like the idea of course, that Skype is free! See my earlier post on how to get free phone calls through Skype.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Podcasting for Lawyers

I think that I will be writing my next NY Law Journal column about podcasting. Yesterday I finished Secrets of Podcasting: Audio Blogging for the Masses by Bart G. Farkas. Very well written and good intro. I thought he was a little heavy on comparing various MP3 players and a little light on tips and tricks once you've gotten plugged in and set up. But overall a great, easy intro to the topic and tips on doing things cheaply. Very good explanation of what RSS is (Really Simple Syndication). Farkas also wrote "Playboy: The Mansion Official Strategy Guide" - so he's got some real street cred. has an article with a brief list of lawyers who podcast. appears to be devoted to the subject, has links to some legal podcasts and what look like some good how-to articles. I'll have to read it. has another good article interviewing veteran lawyer-podcasters. Some lawyers podcast their conference calls, others by talking into a cell phone on the highway. Farkas defines podcasting as posting an audio file to the web. Check out - interesting selection of classics, but you have to pay for decent quality.

I downloaded Audacity sound editing software for free (at Farkas') recommendation. Seems to work, but I'll have to spend more time with it. I will mess around with my current microphone and see where it goes before investing in a nice condenser microphone, preamp, headphones and portable digital sound recorder. I hate to spend money on toys I may not use.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Traffic Index #1: Where Small Firms Stand

Traffic statistics of a few selected small firm websites and blogs in large bold, along with others for comparison purposes. Traffic statistics courtesy New York trademark attorney Marty Schwimmer's The Trademark Blog attracts more traffic than Skadden and some major bar associations. Lexblog, a guy who helps lawyers make blogs, gets more traffic than the New York State Bar Association. would not give me the stats on Arnie Herz of Legal Sanity or Paris Hilton. Gov't stats are for English-language websites.

Internet Movie Database 32
Library of Congress 1,188
New York State Court System 1,841
White House 2,343
Senator Hillary Clinton 4,207
Second Circuit Court of Appeals 4,858
ABA 10,361
Harper's Magazine 33,221
Gov't of France 51,206
Lexblog 98,164
SKADDEN 217,630
Government of Jordan 278,161
ABCNY 513,770
NYCLA 579,939
FBA 721,077
Copyright Society USA 1,979,200
DOWD & MAROTTA 4,814,282

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Sitemeter II & Coretta Scott King &

Here's what my week looked like, according to Sitemeter. For some reason I can't figure out how to delete a picture, hence the blank extra box. You should see a chart!

Last Friday, my column on blogging appeared in the NY Law Journal. So I checked out Sitemeter (the little button at the bottom of my blog) a little more closely. I learned that people from places like Mexico and Reston, Virginia were checking out my blog - even before the column came out.

Reston, Virginia? I figured that's where all of the Patriot Act funding must be going - to spy on bloggers, who by definition are making communications open to foreigners.

You see the spike? It wasn't the NY Law Journal. And my guess is that the Virginia guest was not Pentagon or CIA-based. It was a woman named Catherine Elefant who runs I got a nice little mention for launching a blog and BLAM - my Sitemeter showed tons of "referrals" and that most of them came from that blog. A real show of blogpower! I would have suspected that the hits would have come in from the NY Law Journal, but times have changed.

Last night I went to NYCLA's (NY County Lawyers' Ass'n) Tribute to Coretta Scott King. Amazing speeches, the fieriest given by civil rights firebrand Norman Siegel. I met Steve Landis, chair of NYCLA's Employment & Labor law committee and a partner at Shebitz Berman. He told me that he'd posted a comment to my blog. I said I hadn't seen it. Sure enough, I checked the Blogger Dashboard, and there's a thingy that says "Moderate Comments". I clicked on it and got my first post!!!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Repetitive Stress, Voice Recognition Software & Macros

I am writing this post with Dragon NaturallySpeaking 8.0 voice recognition software. I took up this software this summer when my wrist was injured from typing too much. It takes a while to learn how to dictate, but within half an hour of setting it up you can really get it to type for you. There are many little tricks to learning how to dictate and punctuate, and to improve the software's accuracy. I recommend it for anyone who is tired of typing and who does not have an officemate who will be bothered by the sound of dictation. It is particularly good for reading in long passages of text that you want to quote, a chore that I never relished. It makes proofreading tougher and it makes you think before you speak, but overall it's a terrific program that should improve your efficiency. You really need at least 500 MB of RAM, and since RAM is so cheap you should really have a gig or two.

Something else I did last summer at my editor's suggestion and instruction, was to create a number of macros. I had messed around with macros many years ago and they brought me nothing but grief and confusion. My new experience with macros was terrific, I found a number of repetitive things could be recorded, particularly for legal citations. I did some research and on the WordPerfect web site there was a lawyer named Doug Loudenback in Oklahoma who had created an entire library of macros for practice in those states. He's written a free online manual called A Common Person's WordPerfect Macro Manual. It looks quite intimidating. The best macro I've written was "Respectfully yours," followed by two hard returns and my signature. I suspect that if I invest more time in it, I'd find a lot of other ways to reduce repetitive work through macros.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Printer Hell - Death and Resurrection of HP 4000

Last night I was doing research on Westlaw when my printer, which had been cranking and wheezing for quite some time, just kept freezing up. This had happened a few times in the recent past. I looked under the hood, and noticed that the printer - an HP Laserjet 4000N - had been built in January 1, 1998. I figured that it was time to finally make the big move to a new printer. In our eight years together, I'd gotten a tremendous amount of wear and tear out of the incredibly trusty machine.

I did my research online to PC Magazine and for what I want - superfast black and white, to heck with graphics quality - nobody seems to touch HP. They of course discontinued the printer I love and have changed it to the 4250. I don't need the "N" since my printer sits under my monitors and acts as a standalone. "N" stands for network version and adds $500 to the price. We have four printers in our small firm, plus a networked photocopier that can double as a printer/high speed scanner. Early on, I decided that no one should be more than an arm's length away from a printer, since labor costs us a lot more than hardware.

In thinking about a printer, my major concern is that I can never afford downtime and need absolute reliability (lots of motion practice). I grabbed my partner this morning and made him come to J&R with me (it's three blocks away). We enjoy sharing the pain of making big purchases together. He warned that a new printer is not necessarily better. I was impressed by the reviewer's timing it at over 41 PPM. Price - $859. I got them to knock $10 off the price because I am a NYCLA member.

I installed it this evening. The speed is amazing, but it is LOUD. This is a quality of life issue. What was HP thinking? I drilled down a little further on the internet by googling (Hp Laserjet 4250 problems) and found that others had complaints along the same lines. I wanted a printer, not a blowdryer.

I researched even further, and there are kits to maintain HP 4000 printers and you can do things like replace rollers and fusers and websites dedicated to giving you kits so that you can do it yourself like and

I'm going to stick with the blowdryer 4250 and try to figure out a way to deaden the sound, but I will probably invest the time and energy into preserving the lifespan of our other HP 4000s.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

ATLA & Fordham & Yonah Schimmel Knishery

Yesterday I woke up very early and wrote a book review on a three-volume treatise on Art Law written by Ralph Lerner and Judith Bresler. Amazing book, and absolutely essential if you are going to dive into that world. I'm going to let it simmer in my brain, give it a rewrite and submit it to my editor at the New York Law Journal on Monday.

Then I ran off to a Fordham Law School Alumni luncheon at the Waldorf Astoria. It's always fun to attend. Got to hang out with Judge Loretta Preska a bit - she always wears these great hats and is a lot of fun. Kelly O'Neill-Levy was there - Kelly works for Judge Sherry Klein Heitler and I suspect will be a judge herself shortly. Ran into Tom Suozzi, long-shot candidate for Attorney General. We spoke a bit, I like his clean up Albany campaigns and we have some mutual dislikes. I ran into my good friend Carol Remy who is a happy real estate lawer at Paul Hastings and I discussed my guilt over not yet contributing to the Fordham International Law Journal Alumni Association website. I met John McCarthy of Bainton McCarthy, who was talking to another John McCarthy. They were discussing a third John McCarthy (Class of '29) for whom both had been confused. The Irish have suffered from a terrible shortage of names for quite a few centuries.

I had to leave before getting my rubber chicken and the speeches to go to 60 Centre street to judge a moot court competition for the American Association of Trial Lawyers (ATLA). I thought I'd be a timekeeper or something, but Gary Pillersdorf sat me next to Judge Lou York for the training and proceeded to railroad me into being a judge. I sat in Judge Milton Tingling's courtroom (I hope we left it clean) and watched an amazing round of St. John's v. Columbia Law. St. John's won the round, but wow, these young lawyers were amazing and already practice at a higher level than most attorneys I've dealt with.

On March 8 there will be a charity auction at the New York County Lawyers' Association. I thought that I'd get a gift certificate to the Yonah Schimmel Knishery (founded in 1910). Well, I went in and the woman behind the counter looked at me in disgust "you buy knishes, no certificates". After some haggling, a few phone calls, I was told "come back tomorrow". Since everyone knows that to get a good knish, suffering abuse and yelling back is part of the sacred ritual, I happily returned this morning, scored my gift certificates and ate my blueberry cheese with extra gusto.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Skype & Holocaust Art Recovery

A client of mine told me to download Skype so that we could talk for free. I was in the middle of a million things and didn't really pay attention. I heard again about Skype through a friend whose father lives in India. He raved about it, but I figured that the quality was not terrific.

I was wrong.

I am now working on a case assisting descendants of Holocaust victims to recover artworks by the artist Egon Schiele. I have a correspondent genealogist in Austria. The image here is a bad thumbnail of a rather racy Schiele artwork currently at the MOMA.

We both downloaded Skype yesterday and were talking for free with an incredible clarity. Much better quality than speakerphone, which requires shouting and cutting each other off, this was a real, crystal-clear conversation.

For me, this was terrific, but my long-distance bills are not that expensive. For Austrians, the long-distance bills are horrendously high. I am looking forward to better communications with people around the world and will be going out to get a video camera to see whether video enhances the interactive experience.

I bought the book Skype Hacks and need to tackle a couple of problems. Apparently Skype lets huge files be transferred attached to emails, which would help us since we've got problems transporting large image files around the world and to multiple adversaries. My firewall is blocking transfers, though, so I will have to figure out how to reconfigure. Very exciting new technology that should make life easier and cheaper. My only concern is not to have another phone ringing from another direction!