Jan 12 2015

Explaining things in 140 characters is impossible!


I remember a time when you were wary of trying to explain things in email, would you be able convey exactly what you wanted to say in a way the recipient would understand? That now seems child’s play compared to making a point on twitter, a simple “I think A” statement creates a raft of responses “Why not B???” “Hey what the hell is wrong with C???” **

The benefits of having a blog is I have the space to write more than 140 characters to try and explain what I was trying to say in such a tweet this week:

I tend to judge how successful companies will be on their social media abilities nowadays. #LegalIT

This tweet was based on two IT companies who I have dealt with recently, both with good and very similar products. My attitude to them has been shaped by their social media abilities, well OK my perception of their abilities based on their attitude to social media. Both companies have new products or features on the horizon.

One company went out of their way to let me have advanced information about their product in the hope that I would blog about it, they know about this blog and therefore for them it’s a channel to get word out. It’s a risk, as I wouldn’t necessarily give the product a positive spin, but they’re confident enough in their product.

The other company insisted that the information they had told me remained confidential and shouldn’t be blogged about or posted online. I’d actually love to write about this firms new product, I think it’s a great direction and one that would interest the market they’re in.

This scenario was the point of my twitter post. To me the former shows confidence in their product, a real understanding of the modern IT environment, a willingness to engage customers and potential customers and to receive negative as well as positive feedback. The latter, well the opposite. I understand that in certain scenarios there may be a need to stop others getting to market before you release a killer new product, but this isn’t the case here. These attributes for the first company though for me are attributes of a firm more likely to be successful going forward (most other things, product etc being equal).

As an aside the status actually generated a conversation that took a different direction, even though that wasn’t the original intention of the point. So be careful when you tweet, either be prepared to converse on twitter or get a blog to explain yourself!


** thanks to a colleague for the first paragraph, that’s how he explained this twitter phenomenon


Jan 2 2014

Looking back on 5 years of blogging part 1 – Wrong predictions!


For the last four years I’ve started the year with a series of predictions, but after five years of blogging I thought I’d spend a few posts looking back at some of the things I’ve written in that time. Starting with a highlighting a few posts with predictions or ideas I got a bit wrong.

First up are a few posts from 2009 which were a little off the mark:

I started in January 2009 raving about what a great idea Microsoft Tag was, well QR codes have sort of taken off but I think Microsoft have long since retired the tag! – Microsoft Tag – perfect for the paper file?

Also in January 2009 I thought that a product acquired by Google may become the enterprise twitter, however I suspect few now even remember Jaiku. Now Yammer there’s another story…. – Jaiku v Twitter

In May 2009 I didn’t so much get a prediction wrong, but reviewed two great twitter products that were both taken over and then either disappeared or left to the dusty top shelf of technology to whither away – Tweetdeck v Seesmic Desktop.

In 2010 I was clearly hedging my bets, or more likely making a U turn faster than Bill Gates on the internet! I started in January 2010 convinced that the iPad would fail in the corporate world (Apple iPad – a disappointment for legal) but by June 2010 I was extolling the fact that it was now a game changer in the corporate world (Stop printing your emails – the iPad’s a game changer!). If you ask me know I would say the tablet will enter the corporate world en masse in the next few years but it won’t be the iPad (apart from as a BYOD device).

Finally one from 2013, so soon to get things wrong? Well yes, I somehow got excited by the Q10 as a possible saviour for BlackBerry. I then carried this into LawTech Futures 2013 where I suggested that BlackBerry’s Secure Workspace product would do the same. I think 2014 will prove me wrong on both counts. – BBX (BlackBerry 10) – spoke too soon?


However for balance I also took a look back on my very first Top 5 for Legal in 2010 and had put : Instant Messaging, Windows 7/Office 2010 and Mobile Apps. These are all pretty mainstream now in Legal, the other two Search and Speech Recognition have been tried and are continuing to be pushed by law firms. Top 5 Legal IT technologies of 2010


Apr 22 2011

Those funny square barcode things


img.phpTheir actual names are QR Codes, like the one to the left. They seem to be cropping up all over the place, including lawyers business cards.

I’m not sure about the benefits other than being a gimmick to attract attention. I posted as much this week on twitter and this led to a brief twitter conversation with @jeffrey_brandt, @emmalouwillcox, @KMHobbie and @geekchicy on the merits of QR Codes.

Some of the comments raised were:

  • scan code smartphone, no typing – big advantage! Great for location based stuff (Maps)
  • why should you need an app for it?!
  • QR code on google.gl service link page, e.g. http://goo.gl/info/7nKy1#week
  • I see biggest potential value of linking static hard copy to dynamic web content

I was also reminded of Microsoft’s attempt at its own version (as somebody pointed out “came up w/their own version of QR code. Quite silly!”), this then reminded me I did a blog post about Microsoft’s “Tag” just over a couple of years ago!

“Microsoft Tag – perfect for the paper file?”

I re-read my article and can’t help think now that a simple barcode would be as useful and so my thoughts come back to my original point made on twitter:

Are QR codes just a fad? What are benefits over urls? Seems bit of a gimmick to use an app to snap QR to get a link? Am I missing something?

And I don’t seem to be the only one, Google seems to be thinking the same. But I am going to install a QR application on my Windows Phone 7 and give it a go for a while. I’ll post what I think in the comments, but let me hear your thoughts on QR codes too.


Jun 4 2009

Let’s all pick on twitter


OK the new kid on the block has grown fast, 974% last year apparently! Everyone’s talking about it, in the legal world it’s on every conference agenda. It’s big news.

So it comes as a shock when people question its value. And judging by recent articles and posts on the web the time is ripe to try and knock twitter from its podium:

And thus it get’s articles written about it, repeated and quoted in blogs and twitter itself (yes I understand the irony!)

To me though people are missing the point, twitter isn’t facebook or myspace so comparisons with them doesn’t work.  It is just a brand for micro blogging (there are plenty of others out there: kwippy, plurk, jaiku, identica etc). Yes, twitter as a brand may fail but micro blogging is here to stay.

Face-to-face, letters, telephone, fax, email, instant messaging (IM) and twitter (micro blogging)

They’re just all just forms of communication, nothing more nothing less. People will prefer one over the other, over a period of time one form may get used much more than others. But none of them are going away.

IM has been around for years, but it’s only just starting to move into the business world (outside IT depts). But in a short time it will take off in businesses and we’ll see email usage fall away, just as we saw the use of telephones fall once email exploded on the scene (don’t believe it, just ask any 16 year old how much they use email!).

Micro blogging will start to appear too in corporate environments as people experiment with laconi.ca and jaiku.

My guess though is that Larry Bodine doesn’t necessarily think twitter is a waste of time, he’s in marketing and one sure fire way to get your name out there is to shout the opposite to what everyone else is shouting (after all it was only 5 months ago that “Twitter is valuable to legal professionals”) . And everyone has taken notice, I bet Larry has more speaking engagements and requests for articles than at any time in the last 12 months!

He may actually be right on twitter not being an effective law firm marketing tool, but as for being “sucked into the black hole of buzz about twitter” it isn’t a black hole, twitter or micro blogging will be just like the telephone here to stay for a long time!


May 18 2009

laconi.ca – implementing a twitter-clone or microblogging in a law firm


What started as a business request for a “tickertape” application on the intranet has led us to the verge of implementing laconi.ca in our firm.

What is laconi.ca?

It’s basically a twitter-clone, a “Free and Open Source microblogging platform”, take a look at identi.ca which is a public implementation of laconi.ca.  For us though the laconi.ca application has been implemented on the homepage of the intranet, but the beauty of laconi.ca is you can just as easily use one of the twitter clients that support it (e.g. Thwirl).

At the moment the implementation is just in pilot with one practice group, but I can see word of mouth spreading this virally within the firm, like twitter has spread on the web.

Although I can claim some credit for thinking there was scope for a “corporate twitter” behind the firewall (see my post on Jaiku back in January), I can’t claim the credit for this implementation. Either by being the person to suggest the solution to the request for the “tickertape” application nor for being the team looking after it.

Our application architect saw laconi.ca as the solution and has implemented the application, here are some of the technical details:

laconi.ca is installed on the intranet on IIS/PHP5 utilising ISAPI_Rewrite from Helicon Tech (http://www.isapirewrite.com/), to a MySql 5 Database.

A javascript ajax front end was developed to laconi.ca’s twitter api utilising the jquery framework. All ui updates are via ajax – as it had to be compatible with IE6 🙁

User authentication is performed by NTLM challenge/response and delegated (via javascript header manipulation) to laconi.ca in order to avoid prompting the user for a login.

The javascript/html/css is bundled as a SharePoint content webpart which is displayed on the Firm’s intranet homepage.

Laconi.ca user accounts are kept in sync with AD via a java based ESB (enterprise service bus) message listener.

The application itself looks simple (just like twitter!) and that’s the beauty of it. It just does what it does without any complicated UI to learn.


I really hope it takes off, as I think microblogging will prove to be an invaluable tool for a law firm. I’ll post an update down the line to update on how it goes.


May 5 2009

Tweetdeck v Seesmic Desktop


One of the benefits of twitter is the proliferation of desktop applications that are available to enhance the twitter experience (if you are still using twitter via the web then you want to try one or more of these applications). For a while I’ve used a combination of tweetdeck and thwirl with the later slowly getting less and less use.

Then this week I downloaded Seesmic Desktop and I’m a convert. They’ve basically copied tweetdecks best features and added to them.

That’s not to say I’ve given up on tweetdeck, there are plenty of opportunities for improvement in both camps. But I thought for a blog post though I’d highlight some of the things I see strengths in both and benefits of each.

Big benefits both bring over rivals:

  • Multiple columns/decks, allowing you to slice up your tweet feed in ways to suit you. Either group by user lists, keep an eye on twitter searches for specific topics etc
  • Integrate your facebook feed and post facebook statuses

Seesmic desktop benefits:

  • Multiple accounts! This is the killer for me at the moment and my big reason for switching, you can integrate multiple twitter accounts into one application and then group people across all your accounts (I would like to see the ability to post to one of more of this accounts in one go though like ping.fm, rather than one at a time)
  • Enhanced facebook integration. Not just see status timeline, but the whole facebook timeline

Tweetdeck benefits:

  • Twitpic integration is nicer, like the fact you can stay in tweetdeck and not have to jump across to a web browser
  • Twitscoop. See trending topics in a column/deck
  • You can post to your twitter account and facebook in one post (seesmic is an either or)

There are indications that Tweetdeck will introduce multiple accounts, so maybe I’ll switch back shortly. But once that’s there, then there is probably only one feature that will make me switch again. The killer feature I’d like to see is:

  • ability to either export my settings for import on another computer (regardless of OS) or better still have these stored online (in fact is it time for twitter to add groups as a permanent feature?)

Final note is for people with Windows Mobile devices. Get Pocketwit! It has many of the features on seesmic desktop and tweetdeck: multiple accounts, groups and integrated twitpic.


Mar 31 2009

We all need to blog and twitter to get news of Workshare 5.2 SR3


If anyone wants an example of why you should blog or use twitter, read on!

Since starting this blog back in January I have built up better relationships with legal IT suppliers than I have ever managed with any “account manager”. Through blogging and through twitter I’ve managed to discuss their products directly with the people inside those companies who are involved with developing them.

An example today relates to comments I’ve made over the past month in regard to Workshares products, first about their recent 5.2 SR2 release and then about a possible protect workflow problem here.I’ve been contacted a couple of times by Workshare through this blog and through twitter (@jesbreslaw), but today I got some good news relating to two specific points I raised in the posts indicated above.

  1. My comment on 5.2 SR2 – “The PDF Combine functionality is only available from the local file system!!”
  2. My comment on how Protect and Autonomy iManage Send & File together could annoy lawyers.

Here’s what Kevin Docherty, Product Manager had to say:

I just wanted to clarify a quick point that you mention… re “The PDF Combine functionality is only available from the local file system!!”- I suspect that you are using the first Beta as the second Beta fully supports DMS interaction.

This is great news as I see this peice of functionality being really useful for things like Bible creation etc. Then on the second point Kevin continues:

yes, we know that this may provide a challenge to the basic Protect workflow. We are obtaining a pre-release version of Autonomy very soon and will be looking to get it set up ASAP. We’re specifically targeting Protect Workflow in the SR 3 version of Professional (Oct/Nov) so I will hopefully have some feedback for you around this area soon – and how we will be looking to cope with the multiple Autonomy pop-ups.

I’ve no idea how Workshare found the blog, but regardless I’m impressed that they took time to read and respond to their customers. More companies should follow suit and get their product development and sales staff on twitter and other “web 2.0” technologies to get dialogue going with people who use their applications.

If you want dates for the Workshare releases I got told the following:

  • SR2 Beta refresh– April 17th
  • SR2 General Availability –  May/June
  • SR3 estimated release – Oct/Nov

Mar 6 2009

Legal IT twitterers


Caught a tweet from @DavidGurteen yesterday linking to a blog post he’d set up to log KM twitterers/tweeters. He also linked through to another site already listing “Must-Follow Twitterers on Twitter | Knowledge Management“.

I’ve had a look around and can’t find an equivalent for twitterers in Legal IT, so I thought I’d start to compile one (if there is one out there already then let me know!).

So if you work for a law firms IT department or you’re a lawyer, KM practitioner, legal librarian, ex-employee of law firm or whatever with an interest in legal IT and you have a twitter account, then let me know.

Either comment on this post, DM or @ me on twitter (@nooption) OR use the contact page on this site to email me.

My intention is to create some high level groupings of twitterers on the page, something like:

  • IT Management/Project Management/Risk
  • Applications/Business Systems/Desktop
  • Infrastructure/Network/Servers
  • Front Line Services/Help Desk/Support
  • Training
  • General interest in Legal IT

So when you contact me if you can let me know the grouping you’d like to appear (or more than one if you like)?


The page is now up, I haven’t broken it down as above as I decided against such a rigid structure. If you’re on the list and want to be removed -or- if you want to be added to the list, then contact me and let me know!

Legal IT twitterers



Jan 26 2009

Jaiku v Twitter


Is there any point in me introducing Twitter? It’s hit the mainstream press now, so like Facebook if you’re online reading this blog you probably have heard of the latest internet hit. But have you heard of Jaiku? My guess is probably not.

Jaiku was founded in 2006 and then purchased by Google a year later, it’s basically a “twitter clone”. It generated a fair bit of publicity last week amongst Google’s announcements that it was culling a number of it’s offerings.

Now I know Jaiku is never going to beat Twitter just like Microsoft Live Search is never going to beat Google. Twitter is now the defacto standard for micro blogging. So why then title a blog post in such a way that it indicates that there is some scope for a challenge?

The answer is in this paragraph from the Google announcement.

we are in the process of porting Jaiku over to Google App Engine. After the migration is complete, we will release the new open source Jaiku Engine project on Google Code under the Apache License. While Google will no longer actively develop the Jaiku codebase, the service itself will live on thanks to a dedicated and passionate volunteer team of Googlers

I can see so many uses for Twitter internally in a law firm. IT notifications of service interruption, legal project teams working together globally on cases using it to communicate, marketing teams communicating pitch information, you could fill a page with knowledge management use alone etc. The problem though is security. You may use Twitter now, but I bet you keep your tweets vague enough to not give any personal or confidential information away?

Now with an open source Jaiku, you can have an internal Twitter. Hosted on your own secure network. Keeping it in your own network means you don’t have to limit the content. Also with it being open source you can guarantee that soon there will be Adobe Air clients, BlackBerry clients, Mac clients etc etc

This could do for internal social networks what Twitter has already done for external!