February Issue of Law Practice Today is Now Available

I may be a little biased since I’m an editor and on the board of the ABA’s webzine Law Practice Today, but the February issue, with a TECHSHOW 2005 preview theme, is another good one. It’s also available via RSS feed or you can subscribe to the monthly email update.
You’ll find great tech articles from Dan Pinnington and Joe Kashi. Joe’s article, “Is 64-Bit Computing Worth It? A Performance and Cost Comparison,” will show you why I think Joe is the best writer on computer hardware you’ll find among the legal technology experts, as well as saving you a significant amount of money.
You will also find a new column on Adobe Acrobat tips from David Masters, who wrote the book, a great assortment of columns, and articles on the core topics of finance, management, marketing and technology.
I’ve written this month’s Strongest Links column on resources about disaster recovery and turned a well-received blog post into an article called “What Are the Most Common Mistakes a New Legal Blogger Makes?
Lots of great stuff in this issue.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog)]

Firefox Security Issues – Might Be A Good TIme to Take a Closer Look

I’m getting pretty ambi-browserous these days. Because of the wildly inconsistent approaches IE and Firefox seem to take to javascript windowing especially, I never know when I’ll need to switch between browsers.
As I’ve noted before, I tend to favor Firefox for the tabbed browsing. I’d like it even better if the tabbed browsing worked a little more consistently, but Firefox is a work in progress, and I’ll accept a few quirks.
I met Tom Sherman, at JotSheet, in January at BlogWalk Chicago and have become a fan of his blog, which can be funny, irreverent and incisive. Tom has a great post today called “Mozilla Firefox security: User smugness from the Foundation’s silence?” on the issues raised by Firefox’s approach to security patches, which seem to take the form of quiet version upgrades, and whether that approach is appropriate as Firefox becomes more widely adopted.
I’ve noticed before that one of the benefits of Firefox version upgrades sometimes was sometimes listed as “improved security.” I’d later learn through some of the security blogs that the upgrades contained security patches.
One, perhaps unintended, result of all the euphorious reviews and recommendations to ditch IE and install Firefox to avoid security issues is to lull new Firefox users into a false sense of security.
Consider Tom’s analysis:
“Telling your users to upgrade is a viable strategy when your user base is geeks. That’s not the profile of the typical FF user anymore. Furthermore, as Firefox’s growth slows, we know empirically that users are downloading FF more infrequently. Besides, to the average user, what’s the real, demonstrable benefit of downloading and installing Firefox 1.0.1 (which is really just a security patch, similar to a Window Update) when he’s already got 1.0 or 1.0PR? In his mind, 1.0PR, 1.0, and 1.0.1 are basically the same programs. At least Microsoft makes it mindlessly easy.”
Tom’s discussion of this issue is quite even-handed and makes his post important reading for Firefox users.
He also adds some follow-up comments about Firefox’s automatic updates being as a welcome feature.
I agree, but here’s my difficulty:
The current version of Firefox is 1.0.1. My version identifies itself as version 1.0. I have Firefox set up to check for updates automatically. I also manually tried to update it just now, in two different ways. I get messages that no updates are available.
Am I running an updated version 1.0.1 that is misidentified on the “About Mozilla Firefox Screen” or am I running an version 1.0 that will not update and may have security problems? I don’t know.
I might need to download the most current version and reinstall Firefox.
As Tom suggests, I’d guess that if the same state of affairs existed in IE, there’d be quite a bit of uproar.
As I said, I actually like and use Firefox, but it cannot be a good thing to leave users in doubt about security or to make it difficult to run a secure version, whether your name is Microsoft or whether it is Mozilla.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://wwww.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

Congratulations to PHOSITA – Winner of Best Law Blog in 2005 Business Blogging Awards

I’m a little late on this one, but I wanted to congratulate Doug Sorocco at the PHOSITA blog on winning the Best Law Blog award in the high-profile 2005 Business Blogging Awards.
PHOSITA covers intellectual property law issues and is just one of many great IP law blogs now available.
I’m pleased to see Doug get some well-deserved recognition. This award also helps all legal bloggers by letting the rest of the business world know that there are great legal blogs out there.
A big thank you to Doug and the other nominees for carrying the cause of legal bloggers out into the world at large.
And a big congratulations to Doug for winning the award. Pretty cool!

Beyond Bullet Points – Way Beyond Anything Else You’ll Read About How to Use PowerPoint Effectively

People frequently ask me for good books to help them learn to how to do PowerPoint presentations. As I posted here, I always recommend two books, Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics and Jerry Weissman’s Presenting to Win. Interestingly, neither is really about PowerPoint.
Last year, I started to add Cliff Atkinson’s Beyond Bullets blog to my list. Nearly every post to this blog contained great ideas and tips about presentations, using PowerPoint and telling your stories.
One day, Cliff announced that he had gotten a book deal and would be putting his blog on hiatus until he finished the book. Here’s how big a fan I was of the blog – I never removed the subscription to his feed from FeedDemon. I wanted to be sure that I didn’t miss the day when Cliff returned to blogging.
His return came recently and I received an email from Cliff asking if I’d like to get a review copy of the book. Would I!!!
I got an autographed copy of the book, called Beyond Bullet Points, yesterday and stayed up a little bit too late, literally reading it from cover to cover in one sitting.
My conclusion is a simple one. If you give any presentations, you have to read this book. If you want to have happy audiences, you want to implement the lessons of this book.
Last summer, I completely overhauled my approach to making presentations. I decided to move aggressively to a “rule of threes” approach and simplify my slides and approach. I also spent a lot of time thinking about a book called American Jeremiad by Sacvan Berkovitch that I read in college. Berkovitch’s book analyzed the classic form of American sermon, known as the “jeremiad.”
It’s a familiar form that goes something like this:
1. There is a shining city on the hill to which we aspire.
2. We, to one degree or another, are sinners in the valley.
3. Here’s what we can do to get ourselves back on the path to the shining city.
I decided to adopt this approach with, believe it or not, a presentation on knowledge management for lawyers.
I used the same set of slides for both a 90 minute and a 30 minute version of the same presentation.
And, it worked better for my audience and for me than I had imagined possible.
However, and this will bring us back to Atkinson’s book, the jeremiad form did not fit some of the other topics I tried it with, although the “rule of threes” (three main points, three subpoints for each point, and three sub-subpoints for each subpoint) is an approach I’ve really grown to appreciate.
Beyond Bullet Points emphasizes some of the most important things I’ve learned while presenting over the years (take your audience from point A to point B, understand what your audience wants to learn, keep the focus on your message, not your slides, and the like), but it also sets out a disciplined system that makes it highly likely that you will achieve these goals.
And it gives you practical lessons and tools, including a heavy emphasis on the “rule of threes” to turn your presentations and your slides into a coherent whole that works for both you and your audience.
The organizing thread of the book is a real-world challenge – can you create a great PowerPoint presentation without using all the boring bullet points? Atkinson’s efforts show that the answer is a resounding “YES!!!”
In fact, he shows you several ways to do so. For me, the most impressive is a set of slides that have two words on each slide. Astonishing!
Here’s what I like. Cliff takes the ideas I was finally just beginning to intuit and develops a systematic approach that will put the best presentation techniques at your disposal through a set of structured steps and templates.
In the course of the book, however, he also demonstrates that telling a story, especially telling the story that makes sense for your audience, is the necessary foundation. Technique helps you tell a great story, but technique won’t save a poor story.
The key lesson, then, is to look beyond the great techniques and work on your story.
There are so many great lessons in this book that is difficult to highlight just a few. I know that I’ll be making a greater commitment to storyboarding and scripting. Cliff offers an approach to creating handouts that seems like a sure winner. It’s almost impossible for me not to dispense with bullet points for my next presentations – I have to try that approach.
Where the biggest value from the book comes for me, however, is in adopting a “screenplay” acts and scenes approach to a presentation. This approach pulls together so many elements of a great presentation and gives any presentation an excellent and versatile structure.
It also focuses on the notion of “story.” Atkinson sets out twelve classic story lines that we have grown to expect. If you organize your presentation along one of these story lines, your odds of bringing your audience with you will increase dramatically.
In the case of my “jeremiad” approach, I had hit on one of the classic story lines. It didn’t work in all cases, but now I have at least eleven other story lines to chose for my next presentations, one of which will be suitable to my story and my audience. In fact, I saw that my next two presentations fit well into two different classic story lines.
It’s amazing stuff. Lots of distilled wisdom. Structured approaches. Step-by-step instructions in using PowerPoint. Downloadable templates from his resource-laden website.
Thank you Cliff for writing this classic on the subject. It’s the perfect answer to the “PowerPoint is destroying the culture” crowd. PowerPoint is a tool and I love see a great craftsperson use a tool well.
I’ll be reading this Beyond Bullet Points again and again. You will see its impact in my presentations for years to come.
Ease on over McCloud and Weissman, make a little room on the shelf for Atkinson. I’ll be recommending three books to everyone now. And, don’t forget about the Beyond Bullets blog (better yet, subscribe to the feed) for ongoing pearls of wisdom.
[Disclosure: I'd be this much of a raving fan of this book even if Cliff hadn't sent me an autographed copy. I was already planning to buy it on the day it was first released.]
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

Bright Eyes – Astonishing Music

I’m very fortunate to number among my best friends for many years two of America’s greatest poets, Karen Kovacik and Jim McKelly. I recently learned from Karen that she’ll have a new book of poems published this summer.
A few years ago, Jim and I were having our traditional annual get-together while he was in town during late December visiting his parents and his sister’s family. He told me that I should go out and buy a couple of CDs from a group called Bright Eyes that had impressed him greatly.
I must have been absently nodding “yes” or being a little noncommittal, because Jim said, “Look at me and listen to what I’m saying. You have to get the CDs and listen to them. I don’t usually say anything like this about any band.”
That got my attention. He doesn’t usually say that about any band. And he does have the fact that he introduced me to Springsteen’s music as part of his track record.
So, I went out and bought two CDs: Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground and Fevers and Mirrors. I even listened to them and I became a big fan. In fact, Bright Eyes (and the driving force behind it, Conor Oberst) impressed the heck out of me.
A few weeks ago, I heard from Jim asking if I had gotten the two new CDs from Bright Eyes, Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning. I made some comments about adding them to my Amazon Wish List and getting ready to buy them, but I felt a moral force coming from Jim that led me to get out there and get the CDs bought.
I’ve been doing a lot of listening and, once again, the songs impress me greatly.
Jim has been raving, in a low-key way, about the poetry of Oberst’s lyrics. The lyrics are indeed compelling, even haunting, but I’ve been struck by the music, which is difficult to describe, but both quite familiar and strikingly original at the same time.
I’ve tried to think of analogies, comparisons. Today, I was reminded of both Jonathan Richman and Lou Reed – which really means the Velvet Underground. There’s some Neil Young, especially the country-tinged Neil Young. But the analogies don’t quite work. There are elements that seem as traditional as American folk can get and yet elements that are strikingly unique and modern.
I’m also struck by the impact of some of these songs. They may sneak up on you. If you listened to one of these CDs, you might initially wonder what the big deal is. With a little patience, you will be pulled into a new world. There’s a song (I’m terrible with titles) that uses the world “wild” in the refrain. My immediate reaction, before the song was even half over, was that this song was a classic “wild” song, on the order of “Wild Horses” or “Ask the Angels.”
Cool stuff. And something to try if you are feeling that music today isn’t what it used to be and want to take a path less traveled, one where a very large talent walks with long strides.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]