Search Across Many Sources with WebMynd

There are a number of search tools that will retrieve results from more than one location.  Google is a great example, where the results display relevant images or even Youtube videos.  Google Mail can search Google Docs and Google Sites at the same time.  WebMynd expands those possibilities across other Web sites, search tools, and accounts to retrieve content from a variety of sources.

When you search using Google after installing their add-on, a small vertical bar will appear on the right side of your screen.  It is populated with a variety of sites that can be searched, from news to shopping to personal productivity and social media.

Webmynd have developed free Web browser plug-ins for Mozilla FirefoxGoogle Chrome, and Apple Safari to enable the search bar.  There is even a version for Microsoft Internet Explorer, but when I tried it, it was missing connections to some of the resources I would use the most, like Google Mail.

This is actually a custom search bar, geared as much to publishers who want to create their own tool for their users as Webmynd’s.  In fact, the developers are focusing in other areas, so if you don’t see a resource that you can use out of the box or tweak, this probably isn’t something you want to follow up.

You can install the custom Webmynd search bar I created, utilizing many of the prebuilt sources from Webmynd (Google Mail, Docstoc, Quora, Twitter, etc.) and supplementing with my own law-related sites:  a couple of the Legal Information Institutes, JDSupra, and so on.   The Webmynd search bar works great if there is a single search box on the site you’re trying to use.  If there isn’t, it seems to choke.  Also, since most of the LIIs block indexing of their case law for privacy reasons, you are limited to legislative results.  Likewise, Google Custom searches, even using search boxes anchored by domain names like Feefiefoefirm.com, weren’t usable.

Here’s what it looks like in action (4 minutes, Youtube.com)

Mobile E-mail on Android Easier with K-9

One important way you can impact your productivity is when you can take a tool that works for you and wrangle more information with it.  If you use Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird for e-mail, you may know that you can manage multiple e-mail accounts with the software.  For example, if you have an e-mail address with your law firm’s domain (you@your-law-firm.com) and a personal address from Google Mail, you can access both at once.  Being able to look at all of your e-mail at once can reduce the need to have two different applications open or two different places to visit.

Mobile users with Android devices may have missed that possibility, where you might have been using the default e-mail Android e-mail app for one account and an app for another account, like the GMail for Mobile app.  You might take a look at K-9 Mail as an alternative.  The free app works like typical dessktop software, managing multiple accounts and having a broader feature set for managing each account than the default software in Android.

I have been using K-9 and like the single view to my e-mail.  It picks up Google Mail accounts very easily; other accounts may require a bit more customization.  Since it uses IMAP – leaving messages on the server even when I move them around and reorganize them – I can always see the latest activity in my accounts without synchronizing, even if I have accessed the accounts from another computer (or even another Android e-mail app!).

If you’re an Android phone user, K-9 is definitely worth a look.

[via Lifehacker]

Is Google Instant a Productivity Tool for Lawyers?

While there is some debate about whether Google’s instantly responsive search is actually the first such Web search, it certainly is an interesting change.  If you have used Google’s Instant search, you’ll recognize the quick-changing experience.  According to the Googlers, it can save 2 to 5 seconds per search.  If you’re a heavy online searcher, and Google is your tool of choice, this might actually accumulate to real productivity.  I’ve done 1,148 Google searches in the past 30 days, so that could be a potential savings of nearly 40 minutes. Continue reading “Is Google Instant a Productivity Tool for Lawyers?”

Automated Bluebook Citation for Lawyers

There are a number of citation tools available for online legal researchers but none of them are particularly good at handling the U.S. citation format known as “The Bluebook”, a fond name for the blue cover of The Uniform System of Citation.  Two Web browser extensions, one for Mozilla Firefox and one for Google Chrome, offer a step forward and it may be that support for the Bluebook will be more common for legal researchers. Continue reading “Automated Bluebook Citation for Lawyers”

Postbox Express Nice, but Worth Paying for Postbox

I am a huge fan of Postbox, an e-mail client that has really thought out what an e-mail application should do.  In particular, when I first used their beta product, I was impressed that they were not trying to create an all-in-one application like Microsoft Outlook.  Instead, they were following the path blazed by other developers, including those who are creating Mozilla’s Thunderbird.  The e-mail client is the primary focus and other functionality, like calendars and contacts, are add-ons like browser extensions.  This gives the developers strong focus, and the users a lot of flexibility in how they want to use the software.

I was interested to hear on Lifehacker that Postbox had released a free Postbox Express version.  Express tends to mean stripped down or limited; think Microsoft’s Outlook Express.  I installed Postbox Express to see how it compared not only to Thunderbird, my current e-mail client (because it is free) but also to the Postbox I had used in the past.

As a free e-mail client, Postbox Express feels very much like Thunderbird.  In fact, at one point I wasn’t sure which one I was using, once I had all of my accounts appearing properly.  The setup is just as easy as Thunderbird and the program is easy to use.  But the really interesting functionality in the full Postbox is missing – quick aggregation of attachments and contacts, for example – and without that, I am not sure it is a significant contender with Thunderbird.  I also wonder if Postbox can create the same type of add-on environment that Thunderbird currently has at the free level.  Frankly, if I were purchasing a business software application, I would have no problem paying for a full version of Postbox.  At US$40, it is not that expensive that a free, stripped down version holds much attraction.

Color Code Your Windows 7 File Folders

I remember when I started working in law firms (well before law school) and was introduced to the variety of color coding of client files.  Some firms I have worked at had yellow folders for correspondence, red folders for pleadings, etc.  These sorts of filing tricks are quite individual and you may have some of your own.  Now you can start to translate them – if they involve color – onto your Windows PC!

Colored Folders in Windows with Folderico 3

Lifehacker recently highlighted a utility called Folderico 4 that will colorize Windows’ yellow folder icon to the color you’d prefer.  Use a single color to identify client folders and a different one for non-billable folders, or use colors for particular sub folders to make it even faster to file your electronic documents in the right place.

Not on Windows 7?  Windows XP and Vista ( and Windows 7) users can try Federico 3 or  Folder Marker Free.

E-mail Your Research Notes into Evernote, Better Than Ever

I mention the Evernote research notebook in the FLI text and it has some great features on your computer.  They have just announced improvements to their Web version (to which you can synchronize your computer-based notebooks for better access) .  One that caught my eye was the ability to e-mail a note into a notebook.  I like any tool that enables you to avoid having to visit and log in to a site to use it.  Anytime I can search from my Google Chrome Omnibox or save a bookmark into Delicious without going there, I’m happy.

Evernote’s new e-mail feature works the same way.  You could already e-mail a note into Evernote, but now you can send it into the specific notebook into which you want it placed.

If you’re an Evernote user, here is the blog posting with information about the new feature and how to use it.  If you’re not using Evernote or another research notebook, this free tool can really change how you research, for the better.

Improve File Management With QuickJump and MessageSave

A constant time challenge when you are managing electronic files is how to move information quickly between two locations.  Say you have your e-mail folders structured in a certain way and you also have your computer file folders organized in the same fashion, how do you quickly get content from one place to another.

Lawyer Lawrence King of Colorado posted a great tip to Technolawyer about how Microsoft Outlook users can use two utilities (one free, one US$40) from Techhit to make taking e-mail content and saving it electronically in your file system much easier.  You can read his full post here (requires subscription to Technolawyer).  In essence, he uses MessageSave to get the e-mail out of Outlook and QuickJump to locate the file folder into which it should be placed.  Unlike normal browsing through folders, clicking down into each new one until you find the right folder, QuickJump allows you to start typing the folder name and it offers suggested folders.  If you have organized your file system on your computer by client name and matter, this can be an easy way to get right to the appropriate folder.

You may already know about Techhit’s SimplyFile e-mail utility, which is mentioned in Finding and Managing Legal Information Online.