Law Technology News
August 2000
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Letters to the Editor

AOL Rules!

Re: Second Opinions, June '00, by Neil Aresty.

Editor:

I enjoyed Neil Aresty's article, but have a somewhat different view of several issues. In 1998, my wife and I spent a month in Germany and Austria, necessitating considerable laptop use. Although Compuserve is reputed to have excellent European access, I obtained an America Online monthly account, billed at $5 flat rate for the first three hours, plus $2.50 per hour for extra hours. I found it to have adequate local access for Germany and Austria, and more than adequate access for travel in the U.S. (where I can always make a connection using the 800 number, although there is a surcharge). AOL is not my primary ISP, so I pay only the low monthly rate when I use fewer than three hours in a month.

Once you have made the AOL TCP/IP (Internet) connection, you are not restricted to the AOL proprietary program, and can run other programs as well (browsers such as Communicator and Explorer, e-mail programs such as Eudora and Outlook). I found the AOL sign-on setup screen very easy to use and to modify in different locales. There is no difficulty in making the connection, if you have the number.

We loved the Austrian system of placing phones in the post offices. Many had a jack for modem connection or, if not, the phone unit could be disconnected to access the jack. No coins or credit cards are required. A meter, visible in the booth and at the postal clerk's desk, tracks cost as you go, and you pay the clerk when done. Even local service is charged by the minute, and is costly. I would recommend compiling a list of access numbers for the locations you will visit and entering them in the AOL sign-on setup before embarking, to avoid "look up" time at foreign phone rates.

The U.S.-style telephone mini jack is well-known, and we obtained telephone adapters locally in Germany and Austria. However, these usually are not modem adapters. They simply adapt one type of phone plug to another. There is danger that the voltage or line signals will interfere with modem use or, worse yet, fry the modem. I strongly recommend obtaining a telephone line tester and converter kit. (A device that determines polarity, filters local signal protocols, checks for safe voltage, allows reversal of polarity when necessary, and so forth.) Mine cost less than $50.

Such a kit is wisely used in the U.S., as well, because many hotel systems do not use standard line voltage and can fry modems.

Not only could I send and receive e-mail through my existing providers (with my usual e-mail programs), I could exchange files with the office, check my portfolio (even buy and sell online), and so forth.

Chris Minor
Minor, Bandonis & Connell
Newport, Ore.

* * * *

Mysterious Software?

Editor:

I have been looking for information on a docketing software package called CPI. I do not see them in any of your advertising, and they are not listed in your Buyer's Guide. Can you tell me where I may find information regarding this software?

George Cunningham
George Cunningham & Associates
Reston, Va.

Monica Bay responds:

Readers? Can you help? E-mail lawtech@amlaw.com and we'll report the answers!

* * * *

E-filing Is Real!

Re: June, '00: E-Filing, by Tom O'Connor.

Editor:

Yes, people are using e-filing! Our Blumberg Blankrupter Singles (ASP) and Blankrupter 2.0 Software for Chapter 7, 11 and 13 bankruptcies are popular in the Southern District of New York because they have e-filing capability.

Divorce@blumberg.com (for New York uncontested divorce) and the first 87 forms of our law forms catalog soon will be available for single use via the ASP. All will be in pdf format and may be filed electronically (with Acrobat 4.0).

Thanks for your article. It will help us inform our customers about e-filing throughout the United States.

Bob Blumberg BlumbergExcelsior, Inc.
New York City

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