Some Tech Tips from ABA TECHSHOW 2020
That’s a wrap and ABA TECHSHOW 2020 is in the books. The conference ends with a session called “60 in 60” and a panel of speakers provide whimsical, useful and sometimes outrageous tips for lawyers. The following are some tips that might be useful in your practice.
Add a Virtual Background in Zoom
Consider using Zoom to communicate with clients and colleagues for audio and video chat, screen sharing and more. It is easy to use and intuitive, and quite affordable at $15 a month for small teams. To join a Zoom meeting, participants do not need to download anything, though they do need to download a small applet to share their screen or take on a co-host role. One of the great things about Zoom is the video chat feature. You can have multiple people on video chat so you can not only hear each other, you can see each other – which helps eliminate some of the dreaded issues with conference calls like talking over each other and not knowing who has joined. There is a completely free, but limited version you can try out.
An interesting feature in Zoom video chat is the ability to add a virtual background. You can choose from backgrounds provided by the company like the universe, the San Francisco Bay bridge or others. You can also create your own branded background. This feature works best if you have a green screen or white walls in the background. Make sure to test it out before you use it live! If you don’t use a backdrop, make sure to be aware of what shows in your background on your video screen. Virtual backgrounds or blurred backgrounds are also available in Microsoft Teams meetings.
Goodbits.io for Super Easy eNewsletters
If you send out a newsletter for firm marketing and communications Goodbits.io can help speed along with the generation of content. Sign up for an account and then get the Chrome extension. As you see articles you want to add to your newsletter capture them with the Chrome extension. When you put your newsletter together create a template and then add the articles in your collection by dragging and dropping them into the template. The articles you add will automatically display the link, an image, and a brief description. You can use your current mailing list manager as Goodbits integrates with several products including MailChimp, Active Campaign, Drip, and others. There is a 14-day free trial and then it is $19 a month, but the product can save you massive amounts of time!
Iris is a piece of installed software that reduces blue light from your computer screens. Iris helps reduce eye strain by reducing screen pulsations, reduces eye pain by automatically adjusting screen brightness, and helps improve sleep by regulating blue light. Most smartphones include blue light reduction and screen brightness adjustments, but external monitors and laptop screens don’t. For $15 you can purchase the license or spend $50 for a lifelong license with future updates. Of course, there is a free trial so you can see if it works for you.
MS Outlook Recall Button Actually Might Work Soon
Microsoft Outlook has long had an option to recall a message. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work outside of your firm’s Exchange server environment. If you send a message to anyone outside of your firm they will get an additional message to alert them that you want to recall the previous message – almost guaranteeing they read the original. However, if you are an Office 365 user, by the fourth quarter of 2020 “Outlook will perform the recall directly in the cloud in Office 365 mailboxes, so it doesn’t matter which email client the recipient uses, the recall takes place in their Office 365 mailbox, and when their client syncs their mail, the message is gone.” As part of the Office 365 implementation of this feature, users will also have an aggregate message recall status report available to them that they’ll be able to use to tell at a glance which messages were successfully recalled and which ones were not. We can await this update to the feature with guarded optimism.
Google Maps Walking Live View
If you are walking in a new city you can now superimpose walking directions on top of the actual street view. In your Google Maps app choose the walking directions. When you select the walking figure icon, the directions view will change to display walking navigation directions. It will also show the estimated time to for you to walk to that destination. Click on “live view” and give the app permission to access your camera. You will see the Google walking directions on the bottom of the screen and the actual street view at the top. However, since you probably shouldn’t walk and hold your phone up at the same time, you can also hear voice navigation -just like the driving mode – by using your earbuds. Here are the full instructions on how to use this feature.
Google has a habit of launching products and then later sending them to their death. RIP Google Hangouts, Google Trips, Google Plus, Google Reader and so many more (166 and counting to be exact). What has Google killed? See the list, the product lifespan, why they killed it, alternatives, and near-death (what is on the chopping block) at the Google Cemetery.
Hiremymom is a website designed to post or find a job for home-based workers, owned and run by moms. What types of jobs are people posting or looking for? Examples of full time, part-time and contract work include executive assistants, social media, graphic design, research, writing, customer service, project management, copy editing, client intake, and accounting. There is an online community via a private Facebook group for job seekers and small businesses for networking, support, and collaboration. Additionally, there is a blog full of helpful tips about remote work, independent contractor agreements, and more. Job postings start at $15 and go up depending on the number of days the job is posted and if you want additional services.
Gmail Reverse Conversation Chrome Extension
Gmail reverse conversation (thread) view is an extension for Chrome. Would you like the newest message on the top of the conversation view in Gmail instead of at the bottom? Now you can do it with this simple addon. It reverses the default email order in a Gmail thread.
Office App – One App to Rule Them All
Several Office 365 business plans include apps for MS Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, Teams and more. Recently Microsoft announced the release of the Office app, which consolidates Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneDrive into a single app. You can delete all of those apps from your phone and use one app that takes up less storage than the Uber app. The Office app is available for iOS and Android, though they are still working on the tablet version.
The Office app delivers several key benefits including combining Word, Excel, and PowerPoint in a way that simplifies the experience with fewer apps to download or switch between. It requires far less phone storage than installing individual apps while maintaining virtually all the capabilities of the existing mobile apps people already know and use.
It integrates the Lens technology to unlock the power of the camera with capabilities like converting images into editable Word and Excel documents, scanning PDFs, and capturing whiteboards with automatic digital enhancements to make the content easier to read.
It adds new functionality for common tasks people often encounter when working on a phone—things like making quick notes, signing PDFs, scanning QR codes, and transferring files between devices.
Since the initial release, there is now support for third-party storage services including Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud; templates to help you create new documents, spreadsheets, and presentations; and general performance improvements. And coming soon Word dictation; Excel card view; and outline to PPT.
Use Feedly Instead of Getting More Email
Feedly is a feed reader. Yes, the technology still exists! You can use it to subscribe to blogs, news sites (ABA Journal, CNN, etc.) and more so you can check your feed to get all your news in one place. Another way to use Feedly is to transfer your email subscriptions from your inbox to your feed. If you subscribe to email newsletters and then never read them or use a rule to move them to a folder and forget about them, there may be a better way to manage the information. Next time you get an email newsletter click to open it in a browser. If you have installed the Feedly Mini Chrome extension click on it and subscribe to get the email newsletter updates via Feedly. If Feedly doesn’t find the feed check to see if the email newsletter has archives and use Feedly to subscribe. Then go back and unsubscribe from the email newsletter and reduce email clutter in your inbox!
Triage Your Inbox and Your Time With Insights
Microsoft Office 365 subscribers using MS Outlook have an add-on (which must be enabled by Admin) in Outlook to see at-a-glance unread emails, mark contacts as important, see uncompleted tasks, prepare for upcoming meeting you’ve organized, follow up on your requests and more. It is called Insights and it is a focused view, built by artificial intelligence, of your activity in Outlook. You can get further information about your time management and productivity in Office 365 with help from the virtual life coach, MyAnalytics.
X.ai Virtual Assistant
X.ai, like Acuity, Calendly, and Bookings, integrates with your Outlook or Gmail calendar to help people find a time to schedule an appointment. However, X.ai adds a virtual assistant component to make this process seem more personal. When you need to set up a meeting cc Amy (or Andrew) and “ask” her to schedule a call or video conference and she’ll hash it out with the participants. Like digital dictation (or a real assistant), you do have to give your virtual assistant some information like the “who what when where and how” for the meeting. Amy also sends you an email first thing in the morning with your daily meetings roundup. The basic service is free for life. Paid plans ($8 and up) give you connections to unlimited calendars, personalized email signatures for your virtual assistant, Zoom and Zapier integration, and designated VIPs can schedule directly with your X.ai assistant. For $12 per month, your assistant can be on your domain. You can alternatively cc Cortana for a similar feature built into Windows 10.