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If you spend all of your time in your office near your desktop computer, you probably don’t need a handheld PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). If you spend at least some of your time away from the office, having a PDA and a cell phone makes a lot of sense, and more and more attorneys are using them. CopyTalk is a new service that can use a cell phone, or any other telephone that happens to be handy, to send e-mail and to make entries into any of the built-in applications available on a Palm OS PDA. The concept is interesting. GETTING STARTED CopyTalk software comes as an easy Web download that installs a 500 kilobyte application on the desktop computer and, after a standard hotsync, a 100 kilobyte application on the Palm. Before downloading, the user is run through standard name/address/credit card information forms, and can register one or two telephone numbers which will be used to call CopyTalk. (The company suggests the primary number be a cell phone, for obvious reasons. If you call on a registered telephone, CopyTalk uses Caller ID to connect to the correct account. If you use a different phone, CopyTalk will ask for an identification number previously registered with the company.) We found the downloading and setup instructions a bit confusing, and the download didn’t work correctly the first time we tried it. Telephone Support told us that only Internet Explorer (IE) handled the download and installation correctly. We had no further difficulty when we tried again using IE v.6. In addition to setting up the application on the Palm and desktop computer, CopyTalk also sets up a personal account at www.mycopytalk.com. At this point, you can begin sending Palm memos, contacts, tasks, calendar events or e-mail, by calling a toll-free number, identifying yourself to CopyTalk if you are not calling from a registered telephone, and talking. The task is easy: dial the toll-free number, press 1 or #, and begin talking. I entered a new contact by saying “Do a contact” and continuing with the first and last name, company name, address, two telephone numbers and e-mail address. An event? Say “Do an event” (or calendar entry or docket) and state the date, time and the text information (“Meet with John at LegalTech”). If you want to set an alarm 30 minutes prior to the event, say so. And if you’d like a note to be attached to the event, dictate the note. A similar procedure is used to enter Memos or Tasks. The next time you hotsync your Palm, the software will attempt to contact CopyTalk through the Internet if it is available, and, if all works well, your dictated entries will appear in the appropriate Palm applications. After the hotsync, you can launch the CopyTalk application on the Palm and move to the “Recent Work” module to view a list of the recently dictated additions to your databases, a copy of each addition, and, if you wish, you can “jump” to a new entry as it exists in its appropriate database. You can also use CopyTalk to send a short e-mail. Just tell CopyTalk to “Send an e-mail to [email protected], subject: your latest review. Text: ….” and so forth. To make things a little easier to send e-mail to regular correspondents, CopyTalk will, as part of your setup or regular account maintenance, create from your address list its own list of names and corresponding e-mail addresses, and will suggest a nickname or let you choose your own nickname for each contact or as many contacts as you wish. Clearly, it is easier to tell CopyTalk to “Send an e-mail to George at the White House” than to try to remember George’s specific e-mail address. We found the entire nickname setup procedure a little confusing, but once Customer Support stepped us through it, we could add new nicknames without difficulty. If you attempt to send an e-mail and don’t dictate a recognizable nickname or e-mail address, a CopyTalk employee will call you at your registered phone number and leave a message if you aren’t available. If CopyTalk doesn’t speak with you within an hour, a support person will bounce the e-mail back to you for correction. If you like, you can set the system to send e-mail to you for approval before it goes to the intended recipient. HOW IT WORKS I would love to say that CopyTalk was a magnificent marriage of some very smart Palm software and a very powerful computerized Voice Recognition System (CVRS). The Voice Recognition System is very powerful, but, alas, it isn’t computerized. When you hang up, your dictation is sent to a human who listens to the dictation and takes the necessary action. Although the computer is available for dictation 24/7, the HVRS (Human Voice Recognition System) is available only Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Eastern time, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Any off-hour dictation is sent the next time the humans come to work. We don’t particularly care for the idea of a human doing a task that, in theory at least, a machine could do better and at lower cost, but this does mean that you don’t have to dictate with specific key words — if you speak clearly the HVRS should be able to accomplish the tasks set for it no matter the exact commands you issue. (The CopyTalk folks stressed that there is no chance of the H part of the HVRS learning of private e-mail addresses as he or she sends your e-mail, as the human never has access to the e-mail address. If “George at White House” is associated with an e-mail address in the database, CopyTalk sends the e-mail; if not, the human will bounce the message back to the sender.) CONSIDERATIONS CopyTalk isn’t cheap. The company bills by the “unit.” Although a new policy is yet to be reflected on the vendor’s Web site, we’re told that any item except e-mail and memo is one unit. E-mail and memos are charged at one unit per 450 characters. Short messages cost one unit each; longer ones will cost more. CopyTalk comes in three monthly packages — $10, $20 and $50 at 20, 45 and 120 units, respectively. At the present time you can’t purchase 10,000 units (at a bulk purchase price) to service 100 of your colleagues. Nor can three attorneys in a firm arrange that attorney A’s surplus units in a given month be used to cover attorney B’s excess usage. Nor can you roll unused units into the next month. These arrangements make so much sense that we can’t imagine the vendor won’t be at least considering such possibilities in coming months. The more interesting question is whether this service makes practical sense, at all. It isn’t very difficult, after a little practice, to scribble or tap a new entry into a Palm address or calendar database, and WAP-enabled cell phones and wireless connected Palms and BlackBerrys already let a user send e-mail without a wired Internet connection. Nonetheless, CopyTalk is convenient, and many attorneys, particularly those who have cell phones and don’t have wireless Palms, will find CopyTalk very useful. But the technology raises some usage questions. If CopyTalk can send a contact entry to the Palm address book, why couldn’t it send a time or expense entry to the Iambic Time Reporter database to eventually sync to a desktop-based Timeslips database? And if CopyTalk can send a message to a the Palm address book, why can’t the same technology send a message directly to the address section of an Outlook database? And if it can send a message to a database, why couldn’t the database program send a message back to CopyTalk and eventually the CopyTalk user? The answer to each of these questions is “because it hasn’t yet been programmed to do so.” IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR I always find the winter LegalTech Show in New York (Feb. 4 – 6 at the Hilton) and ABA TechShow in Chicago (March 14 – 16 at the Sheraton Chicago) to be good places to view the latest in law office technology. For details, check out www.legaltechshow.comand www.techshow.com. I should be around both shows at least part of the time, with wireless e-mail tuned to [email protected] Come say “hi.” SUMMARY For 50 cents a transaction, you can call a toll-free number and dictate events, contacts, tasks and memos for your Palm, and even dictate e-mail. CopyTalk is fast, convenient and, in our tests, accurate. DETAILS CopyTalk. Price: Monthly subscription from $9.95 to $49.95 per month. CopyTalk, 1351 Fruitville Rd., Sarasota FL 34236. Phone: (866) 267-9825 or (941) 894-0007 x190. Fax:(941) 894-0008. Web: www.copytalk.com. E-mail: [email protected]

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