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High on the list of three relatively new computer technologies that should be a part of every law office is e-book technology. Last week WestGroup released five e-books for download from the company’s online store. The five titles — Bankruptcy Code, Bankruptcy Rules, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and Federal Rules of Evidence — are all available in formats for Microsoft Reader, RocketBook and Palm OS doc format, at a cost of $12.50 per title. Let’s take a look at these e-books for two of the three platforms. Before that, however, a little more about MS Reader and doc readers for the Palm OS PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). MICROSOFT READER We haven’t acquired a Microsoft Windows CE-based PocketPC yet, but we have downloaded the desktop version of the Microsoft Reader. Version 1.5 requires about 7 megabytes. The program self-installed on a desktop PC running Windows 98. After installation it is necessary to activate the program by logging on to the Internet, clicking on an activate button and logging in with your Microsoft Passport user name and password. If you haven’t yet registered with Microsoft Passport, the process is fast and cost-free. You must run through the activation process for each reader computer on which you install reader. Once activated, Reader’s main page shows the books that are available and a read-me file including instructions for getting started. Reading and working through a 87-page guidebook, we learned how to click on a heading in the table of contents to move to the text covered by that heading, how to add highlighting, notes, bookmarks and drawings to the text, and how to select text in the e-book and copy it to the clipboard, ready for pasting into a word processor or other application. Each of these annotations is indexed, and sortable by page number and identifiable by type. The notes function let you type in any information you wish. If you have an e-book that you wish to make available to reader, simply save it to the “my library” subfolder in the “my documents” folder. If you like, you can click on a reader link to www.barnesandnoble.comor other bookstores with e-books for sale, registered with the program that have e-books for sale. Reading the e-book means clicking a navigation area with your mouse or simply hitting the computer’s spacebar to move to the next page. Of course, if you want to find a specific section, you can search for a word or phrase in the section and jump directly to the text that you need. For the first 10 minutes we had trouble finding the commands for what we wanted to do; after that, Reader operation was almost automatic. We don’t have a PocketPC around to test that version of the reader, but we understand that operation is similar. PALM READERS We’ve previously noted that there are lots of reader programs available for Palm OS PDAs, all dealing with the same doc format. The WestGroup folks sent us AportisDoc, a $30 program. In addition to Aportis, we have also played with a $20 program from iambic and a freebie from the Peanut Press. There are certainly others around — do a fast search for “palm document reader” on www.google.comto get some idea of availability — but these three will do as examples. All three take up little space in even a 2-megabyte PDA. All three read standard Palm doc files without difficulty, let the user add bookmarks, and allow the user to search for a particular word in the file and jump directly to it. All three let the user read the file in more than one font size and style, for easier reading. Although the PDA hardware up and down switches will scroll the text in each of the readers, the Aportis and Peanut Readers let the user tap near the bottom of the page to scroll down a page and near the top to scroll up. The Iambic reader requires a sweep of the stylus, a tap not being sufficient. Iambic and Aportis boast adjustable-speed autoscroll modes that jump a part of the page at user-set intervals. If you don’t like to tap on the top or bottom of the screen but would rather tap left side of the screen (for back) and right side (for forward), Peanut Reader will do that. If you would prefer to rotate the display by 90 degrees, so that the Palm screen is effectively wider than it is high, Peanut Reader will do that, also. Iambic, but not the other two, can deal with embedded HTML hyperlinks. This is particular useful for structured files with tables of contents. Tap on the TOC heading and jump directly to that section of the text. (Although WestGroup’s Microsoft Reader files had such built-in hyperlinking, the files for the Palm compatible PDAs did not.) But here is another situation where you don’t have to take our word for it. The Peanut Reader is free, and the other two (and lots of others) are either totally free or have a month or two free trial. (After the trial period you can purchase an unlocking key.) We suggest that you download a couple of these or others and see which one works for you. THE WEST FILES The WestGroup e-books can be downloaded from WestGroup’s Online store, in no more than a minute or two from even a 28K dialup modem. Identify the file for installation using the Palm Desktop software, and the next time you HotSync, the file is installed in the PDA. Any of the Palm doc readers should work with any of the West files. Alas, the files have no hyperlinking, which makes sense as most of the Palm-compatible Readers don’t work with hyperlinking. The files also do not have preset bookmarks, although any of the Reader programs will let you set bookmarks. (The Microsoft Reader version does have TOC hyperlinks.) This is an inconvenience, but it isn’t hard to add the bookmarks or even to find a particular section by using the reader’s search function. The subject matter for WestGroup’s initial e-book effort is good. These are exactly the type of publications that belong on e-book format: authoritative reference material that is relatively static most months and years, that you might not use very often, but you absolutely need, in court or at the office, when you need it. (We think that a MS Reader application is a good way to view such material, even in the comfort of your own office.) Comparable state rules and statutes, assorted CFR titles, the Internal Revenue Code, state vehicle codes for lawyers who spend a lot of time in traffic court or divorce statutes for busy matrimonial lawyers, are all good candidates. Of course, once you get past not liking to actually read from your Palm, PocketPC or desktop, there’s a lot of non-law material that is becoming available, often at prices lower than the typical printed edition, that might be of interest to lawyers. Although the price is modest, the material is in the public domain without value-added editorial content. There is no reason that a lawyer, or a bar association committee, or some law school or online users’ group couldn’t make the public-domain material available free of charge. (We’ll probably hear about some after publication of this column.) Microsoft is giving away a MS Word-to-MS Reader converter, and it isn’t hard to find text to doc format converters on the Web. We salute WestGroup for its pioneering e-book publications. Now if the company can only help us take advantage of MP3 and DVD. SUMMARY WestGroup has published five electronic books of public-domain text in formats to be read by RocketBook, Palm PDA or Windows 95 or Windows CE platforms using Microsoft Reader. We hope this is a harbinger of things to come. � WestGroup e-books. $12.50 each. Requires PC running Microsoft Windows 95/98 or later or Pocket PC running Microsoft Windows CE, RocketBook or Palm-compatible handheld computer. WestGroup, 610 Opperman Dr., Eagan, Minn. 55123-1396. Phone: 800-937-8529. Web: www.westlaw.com. � AportisDoc Mobile Edition 2.1. $30.00. Aportis Technologies. Web: www.aportis.com. � Peanut Reader v 3.2.7. No Charge. PeanutPress.com Inc. Web: www.peanutpress.com. � IambicReader, 1.0. $19.95. Iambic Software. Web: www.iambic.com. � Microsoft Reader Version 1.5. No Charge. Microsoft Corporation. Web: www.microsoft.com/reader. Barry D. Bayer practices law and writes about computers from his office in Homewood, Ill. You may send comments or questions to his new e-mail address [email protected]or write c/oLaw Office Technology Review, P.O. Box 2577, Homewood, Ill. 60430.

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