The Linked-In Mini-Boomlet

I noticed that some of my “social network” connected into the LinkedIn network and I had a little flurry of requests today.
I don’t know much about the social networking phenomenon, but, I respect the people who asked me to tie into their networks enough that I willing to experiment with it.
That means that if you are in the LinkedIn network and you know me (and I know you), please feel free to send me an invitation. I’ll either go ahead and add myself as one of your connections or, if I don’t know you, ask you who the heck you are.
I doubt that I’ll be proactive on this until I get a better sense of how it works. But, if it involves the Internet, collaboration and creating communities, I’m definitely interested.

Hiding the Elephant

Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
I’ve just finished Jim Steinmeyer’s excellent book, “Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear,” which nicely meets the standard of being both educational and entertaining.
Steinmeyer walks us through the history and characters of the Golden Age of magic (roughly mid-1800s to mid-1900s) and gives a peek behind the curtains to explain the evolution and development of the great magical illusions. But, what’s great is that his explanations do not diminish your admiration for the illusions. In fact, I am left with a deeper appreciation of the classic magic tricks that fall into the category of illusions – sawing the woman in half, making ghosts appear, floating people, and making even elephants disappear.
And, I’ll be darned if mirrors actually do play a role.
It’s a fascinating world of large personalities, patented tricks, stolen tricks and an effort to create bigger and bigger illusions. The history leads up to Houdini making an elephant disappear on stage, which the author was later to replicate in a tribute to historical magic.
In a sense, any sufficiently advanced magic is explicable by technology, but it still stays magical. That is, unless your rival magician reveals the secret to your audience and they run you out of town.
A very good book that you might want to read for a nice change of pace.

Here’s Something That Makes it All Worth It

I got a nice email today from Peter Judson, a teacher in Montreal, who wanted to let me know that he had linked to my Ten Tips for Making a PowerPoint Presentation article and had used some of my points to help his 7th grade students prepare to do some project presentations.
I took at look at the site he created and then looked at the slides under “Mr. Judson’s Presentation.”
I’ve published hundreds of article in all kinds of places, but I don’t know if I’ve ever been more flattered by someone making my ideas available or seen a more satisfying use of my writing.
I sit here thinking that there are not many things that are as cool as being able to help kids do cool things and to help the teachers who really care about helping kids do cool things. It’s one more cool Internet experience and another e-mail that has made one of my days.
By the way, the Sacred Heart School of Montreal looks like a school that is doing some great things. If you happen to be someone with influence over grants and funds that get donated to schools for innovative uses of technology, I suggest you might add this school (along with The College School) to your list for consideration.

Tablet PC for Lawyers Web Page

In some ways, my web history consists of a number of repetitions of my 1995 experience in creating the Estate Planning Links Web Site.
The story goes like this: I search for information on a topic of interest to me. There is good information out there, but it is scattered all over the Internet, with no good way to get from one resource to another or to see them all in one place. I say, “I’m might as well put my bookmarks up on the web, so I can get to them and maybe they’ll help some other people.” Suddenly, I have a new web page, which gradually grows to have an audience, because people like to find a handy starting point to find good information about a topic.
Most recently, I had this experience when looking for information about Tablet PCs, in general, and their use by lawyers, in particular. Once again, I noticed the familiar itch and, almost before I knew it, I scratched that itch in my standard way. There is now a Tablet PC for Lawyers web page.
I’ll build this page out so it collects links and other info about Tablet PCs, with a special focus on use by lawyers. If you know of other sites or resources that I should include, please let me know.

Eerie Spam

While I generally find the ways that spammers devise to beat spam filters to be quite creative and amusing, the recent trend of using random names has been a little unsettling for me in the last few days.
I’ve had to look at a couple of e-mails that I had almost no doubt were spam, but they were “from” names that were identical to the names of people I knew from high school, although from a year or two outside my graduating class. In other words, I had to look. Not suprisingly, these familiar names were offering great deals on vi*gra.
Speaking of spam, I recommend that you take a look at Fred Langa’s recent e-mail experiment that suggests that as many as 40% of legitimate e-mail messages may be filtered out by today’s spam filtering software.
These results back up my argument that spam filters have destroyed the trust we used to have in e-mail. Is the cure worse than the problem? Will I be calling you to see whether you got my e-mail?