Category Archives: General Technology

Posts discussing general technology issues

The Podcast Grows…

My Collaborative Law and ADR podcast has grown a second episode and I have to admit to being very pleased with how it is going.

The hits for the first show were very good and the feedback was excellent, such as

  • You’re naturals. Can’t wait for the next edition
  • Great clarity. A nice human touch to professional matters
  • Really enjoyed it.
  • A great first show!

The tech I am using is very straightforward – conference calls on Skype recorded using the excellent Pamela.org Skype recording tool and then podcasted using Pamela’s in-built facilities and blubrry’s podcast plug-in on my www.collaborativelaw.tv wordpress based website.

If you are interested in starting a podcast then try this arrangement.

I haven’t yet nailed the full RSS issues but I’ll get that sorted.

If you need to download in the meantime then use this link

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What if it all ended. Today. POP!

As I write, Twitter is going through some fairly unattractive spasms.

I was anxious for a split second – Oh no!  What if it has all gone POP!

What if I have lost

  • my account,
  • my followers,
  • the people I follow,
  • my Tweets,
  • all those favourites that I meant to get round to reading and following the links from…?

And do you know what I realised?

It would be alright.

It would be a pity, no doubt, but not overly drastic.

The reality has to be that of the 1500 or so that I follow, and who follow me, that there is in reality a much smaller core of people that I communicate with regularly.

If it all came to an end, it would be reasonably straightforward to start out again.  In fact, the process of having to recall who and why is important would be a very useful selection filter.

The problem is that I would lose the serendipity that is found in a non-central follower linking to something random and outside of my sphere.

I lose the potential links and references to other Twitter users that might be of interest.

Perhaps I should find a Twitter back up tool, just in case… anyone got any recommendations?

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The Bonkers Full Cycle Genius of Google Voice

This morning I have been looking at Google Voice and Google Voice Actions on the Android range of smart phones.

Now this is some genuinely exciting tech.  You speak into your phone and it activates a search on what you have spoken.  I can use it to search for a contact’s number in my directory, or a location on Google Maps, or a straightforward Google search.

Google Voice Actions goes even further with added functionality.  Watch this video…

Now I find that exciting – almost enough to upgrade my Hero to a compatible Android phone. (Voice actions needs newer phones that can run version 2.2 of the Android operating system.  The Hero only goes up to 2.1)

But, as exciting as it is, the tech quickly strays in bonkers territory.

Imagine, I can speak a message to be sent to a friend by typed text message or email.

My friend can then receive it and respond.  Maybe she also has an Android phone with Voice Actions, so she is able to respond by talking into her phone as well.

It will not be long until this technology has become so advanced that we will have real time duplex audio message transmission, where I can say something into my phone, it is heard immediately and the other person is able to respond immediately.

I wonder what we could call that?  A phone, maybe…

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Podcasting – You know, I might be a bit late to this.

I am currently writing my second book,  The Collaborative Law Companion, to be published in true retro paper style by Jordans next Spring.

Part of my efforts in writing, promoting and researching that book will include the website www.collaborativelaw.tv which will host a specific collaborative law blog, articles and my first podcast.

The podcasting process is still in its preparatory stage.

I have prepared a show style/agenda and approached a great colleague to co-present with me who has plenty of fire and passion.

I have approached several guests from the collaborative law community to join us and address a specific issue each show and will be able to interview leading international practitioners when I am presenting in Washington DC next month.

There are just a few things to still resolve:

  1. How to record and produce;
  2. Show frequency; and
  3. What should my theme tune be?

I am toying with the Pamela app for Skype which looks like it can do everything including a Rich Mood Editor, whatever that is.

The frequency might be fortnightly, if not then monthly.  I am hoping that the Pamela add-on makes recording and interspersing other sound effect MP3s so easy that the process will be no more onerous than talking with friends and colleagues for 30 minutes and then pressing “Send”.

I’m slightly surprised to see that Pamela does not seem to support WordPress.  I could be wrong.  Even if I am right, I can still post the podcast mp3 to my domain and then go into WordPress and link through.  I think.

As for the theme, I have recently taken to playing some blues guitar riffs.  I am toying with recording a “Perfect” version or trying to play it live each fortnight and seeing if it comes off or not.

Anyway, the podcast will be going live within the month… more to follow.

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The Cans and The Cannots – The New Social Exclusion

I blogged here about the Ministry of Justice’s program of cuts and, ahem, reform.  You can read the program at the Ministry’s own website here.

This element of the reform of courts and legal aid struck me, as reinforced by a tweet from Richard Moorhead of @lawyerwatch .

Develop options for using technology and alternative dispute resolution to reduce attendance at all courts.

The intention is to commence consultancy in September 2010, concluding April 2011.

As Richard so eloquently put it, is this the “Usual blether about ADR, IT and efficiency?”

The point of Lawyer1point9 is to be curious, provocative and positive about technology and law.  It is not for me to play the luddite and smash the machines.  I do not want to get in the way of progress and technological innovation within the legal system.

But something worries me here.

IT cannot be used as shorthand justification for cost-cutting.

If we run headlong into IT based solutions then we risk prejudicing whole sectors of the public. Some would be hit twice.

The cuts in legal aid availability and eligibility are massive, and ongoing. Many vulnerable people have no access to affordable legal advice or representation.  It is not enough to say to those people “Oh, that’s okay, we’ve implemented innovative technology.”

And this is where the new social divide is emerging.

It is no longer the haves and the have nots.  We need to be aware of the cans and the cannots.

We take our own IT skills and familiarity for granted.  If you are reading this thing called a blog, the reality is that you are way ahead of the massive majority.

Many of the people who will be affected by reforming cuts will lack skills, confidence and competence to access online resources.

This has been highlighted to me by a couple of incidents.

Last week I was trying to talk through to someone, by phone, how to download a PDF.

We were getting nowhere.  I realised that she was putting the web address I was giving her into the google search box and getting bewildered by pages and pages of entries, as opposed to going to the address bar.

To many people, Google IS the internet.

Even when we got through to the page she wanted, the idea of scrolling the page down to get to the necessary link was way beyond her.

In another incident I delivered some of my Conversational Riffs training to a local education authority last week.  I like to put the notes into a passworded blog format so that people can wrestle with the material, comment upon it.

The email I got back from the LEA explained that many people simply were not allowed to access blogs because of local authority firewalls and the like.

So, a cost-cutting dash to IT is not the answer.  We need to keep a broader awareness of what people are able to do and the limits they face from inadequate skills or access to IT.

If we do not, then we risk excluding the less IT literate and the less IT connected from important parts of society.

We will have the cans and cannots.  Who will speak up for the latter?

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Technology is only useful when it is boring.

Apologies at the outset for the above quote.  It is not my line but I cannot recall where I read it.  If you know, of if it was you, please introduce yourself and take the credit in the comments below.

I was discussing social media this morning with freelance marketeer Helen Hammond.

For some reason I was in an unusually downbeat mood. I felt that I didn’t want to talk to about social media.  Sure, I love social media.  I have gained a lot of work from social media and it has massively increased my profile both here in the UK and also in America.  The potential for social media to drive business and new opportunities is immense.

But something was irking me.

There remains an obstructive self-consciousness within social media, where the social media activity becomes the thing itself.

It is not.  It is just the tool, or vehicle, that gets us to our destination.

I recall from my student days reading about how the written word, within literary criticism terms, should be transparent so as not to obstruct what was being described, nor draw attention to itself.  I think that was a liberal humanist approach, but I digress.

Likewise, we need to get used to using social media as a conventional mainstream communication function.  At that point, we will not be fascinated so much with the “Hey, I’m using a new Twitter app” or “Have you tried that new social media hub for… whatever…” and instead we will simply be getting on with the business of communicating by diverse means, including social media, on a daily basis.

The technology itself, at that stage, is as boring and as unworthy of commenting upon, as a telephone.

When technology becomes boring in this sense, it will stop getting in the way of the message we are communicating, and therefore carry the message with less distraction for either the sender or recipient.

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Hey Look! That’s Me! – A Test For Client Confidentiality and Social Media

I spotted a twitter exchange yesterday that caused me some concern.

A case was being discussed on Twitter that referred to identifying features. No names were mentioned and in that sense, at least, the clients were anonymous.  However, the details being discussed, such as appointments, some figures and issues would have been enough for the clients concerned to identify themselves in a flash.

I cannot recall where I learnt this “Hey look, that’s me!” test for confidentiality.  I do not know if it is enshrined in protocol or case law – perhaps a reader might care to tell us – but it makes perfect sense.

If a client can recognise themselves then that is perhaps the lowest cognitive bar we can set.

That is no reason to disregard that low bar, or dismiss it with an argument that “No-one else would know who it was.”  After all, if the client complains to us or relevant supervising bodies, then that will be more than enough to land us in hot water.

This incident also highlighted another issue.  We need to be diligent ourselves in testing confidentiality, but also in pointing out possible problems to one another.

By doing so we can self police effectively.  The alternative is likely to be a blanket ban or some other hysterical over-reaction.

I hope that if I have such a lapse in future that someone would quickly send me a direct message discretely to point out a possible problem.

I also hope that I would receive it with the same good grace and politeness that my Twitter friend did.

In the words of High School Musical “We’re all in this together…”

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