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The nicest thing about the Palm-platform PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) is that the machine is always at hand, making it easy to retrieve schedules and phone numbers and to record information such as client time entries when things happen. Trip Deluxe is an inexpensive application that can be used to make mileage records for your business-automobile use. We also, in a week when the American Bar Association reported that 99 percent of United States lawyers have access to the Internet in their law offices, look at three technologies that should be common in today’s law office, but have yet to make it. TRIP DELUXE Trip Deluxe comes as a 770-Kilobyte download that installs as a 69-Kilobyte application in your PDA and captures automobile-use information for company reimbursement or for documentation for the Internal Revenue Service. The program can track up to 16 different automobiles and keeps records of starting and ending times, purpose and location for each trip taken and the person or company met. “Where” and “why” can be chosen from a user-created pull-down list; “who” is picked off of your address book list. Starting and ending mileage are recorded by means of the usual Palm tapping or graffiti or by adjusting an odometer-like display. The program automatically calculates mileage and picks up starting mileage for trip number 2 from ending mileage of trip number 1. Whenever you wish, you can mark all or some portion of accumulated trip records for export to your “big” computer. After upload, the user clicks on an Excel icon on the desktop to use a macro to create a customizable report, ready for signature, from the uploaded data. We liked Trip Deluxe and consider it the easiest way to track this oft-needed information — certainly worth the $30. However, running reports with spreadsheet macros is a little primitive these days; this “deluxe” program deserves a simple menu-driven report generator that doesn’t need a spreadsheet. In addition, we would like the ability to enter information about tolls. Nonetheless, if you have a Palm-compatible PDA and drive your car for business, we think you’ll like Trip Deluxe. THREE NEW TECHNOLOGIES IN SEARCH OF LAW OFFICE APPS We’ve been playing with three technologies that could and should be used by every lawyer who is interested in legal research and continuing legal education. These technologies are useful, mature, available and inexpensive. They are easy to set up and easy to use. And yet, as far as we have been able to determine, none of them is in extensive use in law office applications today. � DVD The case for DVD (or Digital Video Disk) formatted text and databases is easy: a DVD is just like a CD-ROM, except it can carry more than six times the information, about 4 1/2 gigabytes rather than a CD-ROM disk’s 650 megabytes. In practical terms, this means that a three or six CD-ROM set of tax law or federal court cases can be placed on a single disk, avoiding the need for mechanical juke boxes, disk-swapping or whatever means you have been using to handle the multi-disk sets published on CD-ROM. DVD media are not significantly more expensive than blank CD-ROMs. Burning (placing the information on) a blank DVD costs no more and takes no longer than burning a blank CD-ROM, and shipping and storage cost for one is considerably lower than for six. The only half-reasonable argument against using DVDs for legal research is that most lawyers don’t have computers with DVD players. That problem could be remedied for no more than $200 per computer, a small part of the outlay for a database costing thousands of dollars. Of course, what with the coming of almost universal high-speed Web access and the constantly changing nature of legal research, CD-ROM law libraries may be on the decline, anyhow. But we think that there is a place for keeping massive amounts of stable information available without immediate Internet connection. And today’s preferred format should be DVD. � Microsoft E-Book Reader We’ve written about hand-held computer e-books before, particularly in the context of having often used reference works available in, literally, the palm of your hand at all times. But e-books can be useful on the desktop, too. A variety of different readers and reader formats are available, but we’ve been very impressed with the abilities of the Microsoft Reader, available free of charge as a seven-Megabyte download. It may be that e-books will never replace “real” books, that it is more comforting to page through paper than to hit the computer space bar to turn to the next page, and a well-designed paper printing may be easier to read than a computer screen (although Microsoft’s ClearType technology makes for comfortable reading). But e-books don’t require expensive bookshelves for storage, can be produced for considerably less cost than printed books, don’t waste trees, can be searched for the words that are important to you and give new meaning to the definition of shipping at inexpensive book rate. Yes, it is easy to copy an e-book file and, perhaps, send it to 100 of your nearest and dearest friends over the Internet. We don’t think that such things will really happen much, but if a publisher is concerned, technology exists to make an e-book readable with only a specific copy of the reader or for only a limited time period, which would make the e-book more secure than a 100-page handout that could be photocopied with ease. If you have information of your own you would like to provide to others, Microsoft also makes it easy to become a publisher, providing a Microsoft Word-to-Reader format converter as a free download. It may take professional layout skill to get a professional look layout, but even a novice can create something that looks decent and is easy to read. Surf over to www.microsoft.com/reader, download and register your copy of Reader, take a look at the variety of e-books available for purchase or free of charge, and give e-books a try. � MP3 CLE audio cassette tapes are readily available today from many sources and are convenient for automobile use. But train commuters or lawyers jogging through the neighborhood or training at the local health club are finding that MP3-formatted audio is good for a lot more than possible illegal “sharing” of music on Napster. High-quality audio for the full range reproduction of music requires about 10 megabytes of disk space per recorded minute. MP3 is an audio-compression format than enables a minute of acceptable quality music to be recorded in about a megabyte of disk space. Audio lectures don’t require the dynamic or frequency range of a symphony orchestra or rock band and can be compressed even further, making it possible to record an hour of a typical CLE program into a 16 megabyte file. MP3 files can be played on a computer with any of several programs easily available on the Web, free of charge. But MP3 files can also be played through special hardware called an MP3 player. A typical MP3 player is the size of a Sony Walkman or smaller, comes with the same sort of headphones or earpieces that come with personal playback devices and may cost $100 to $300 depending on features and available memory. An MP3 player with 64 megabytes of memory could easily hold an entire afternoon of CLE lecture, with a little room left for a few minutes of your favorite music. Alas, CLE providers that have no problem with selling easily copied cassette tapes have not rushed to MP3 audio. If copyright concerns are really a problem, Audible.com sells MP3-quality “audio books” that must be loaded into a specific MP3 player to be used. A CALL TO ACTION Why haven’t publishers taken advantage of DVD, e-books or MP3? More than likely, lack of demand. If you would like to see these technologies put to use in your law office, call your favorite publishers and providers and demand. SUMMARY AND DETAILS Trip Deluxe is a convenient and inexpensive program that records automobile expense information using your Palm-compatible PDA. Trip Deluxe. Version 3.01. $29.95 download. Requires Palm-compatible PDA with OS 2.0 or later, IBM PC computer running Palm Desktop 3.0 or later and Microsoft Excel for Windows 97 or later, or Apple Macintosh computer running Palm Desktop 2.1 or later and Microsoft Excel for Macintosh 5.0 or higher. Hands High Software, Inc. 1290 Cypress Street East Palo Alto, CA 94303 Phone: 650-473-9279 Fax: 650-566-1738 Web: www.handshigh.com. Now that almost all lawyers have access to the Internet, we’d like to see stodgy legal publishers and CLE providers adopt some new technology to make it easier to acquire and use needed legal research and CLE material. Barry D. Bayer practices law and writes about computers from his office in Homewood, Ill. You may send comments or questions to his e-mail address [email protected]eview.com or write c/o Law Office Technology Review, P.O. Box 2577, Homewood, Ill. 60430.

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