Ze Best Time in Cozy Baltimore!
By Monica Bay
GUESS I'm an official East Coaster now: I've taken my first Metroliner trip down the Eastern seaboard. I popped down to Baltimore for the Association of Legal Administrators' annual convention via Amtrak, rather than hassling with airports.
Wow! I'm an instant convert: It was uncrowded, comfortable, and best of all, downtown-to-downtown service. Ground transportation (always my least favorite part of trips) took just minutes instead of the dreaded hour.
I'm also sold on the Baltimore Convention Center. It's always a dilemma to find meeting space that's big enough to be comfortable, but not so huge as to be cavernous (like Chicago's Navy Pier or McCormick). San Francisco does it well with Moscone Center, but Baltimore's cozier -- and an easier city to navigate.
Once inside, the A.L.A. exhibit hall had lots of energy and tons of booths. Hands down, the most interesting new product was a tiny new projector, with awesome resolution, offered by Boxlight Corp.
Brook Broehmler of ProLaw Software was so impressed he ordered one on the spot, after Nicole Raucsh stopped by his booth for a quick demo. (See President's Corner, page 1.)
Baltimore certainly is a good food town. Attendees were gobbling up soft-shelled crabs and other delights of the harbor city.
Connie Moser and Monty Lunn
If you're not into fish, there are steak houses a plenty, including a terrific edition of Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, where Elite Information System Inc.'s Monty Lunn and Connie Moser joined LTN publisher Kevin Vermeulen et moi for a fascinating dinner.
I finally figured out one of the secrets of creating a great dining experience: divide a facility into smaller seating areas and you significantly mute the din. Voila! A pleasant, intimate environment. It was so nice to be able to hear tablemates without straining.
Dornic and Rhoades
Especially because they brought exciting news: Lunn (Elite's general manager) is transferring from Los Angeles to Conshohocken (a suburb of Philly) to be closer to newly acquired LawManager Inc. (But like all California ex-patriots, he'll first have to learn how to pronounce his new hometown.)
One Mean Cafe
As at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, cozy seating areas are one of the secrets of the Ze Mean Bean Cafe, a fantastic Slavic restaurant in the trendy Fells Point district. Its two converted row houses, offer lots of nooks, crannies, and private rooms.
Ze Mean Bean Cafe
Of course, what really makes the cafe special is its owner: Yvonne Dornic. Yes, that Dornic, formerly of SRA International's legal division; now the proprietress of both the cafe and the new eSentio Technologies.
Dornic runs the cafe with fiance, Jim Rhodes. They not only provide opportunities for local chefs, but for artists and musicians as well. The cafe boasts a changing art display featuring local artists, and its small stage is filled nightly with music including "Polish Fold Nights" for traditional sing-a-longs.
In its former life, the restaurant was a coffeehouse, (no doubt explaining its moniker) and it retains a caffeine-driven atmosphere.
From left: Behrendt, Tramontozzi, Wasylyk, Dornic and Gonzalez
During the A.L.A. sessions, Dornic's tech pals jammed into the cafe. Among the revelers: Sally Gonzalez, Stan Wasylyk, Ian Levit, Stephanie Buck, and Dornic's eSentio colleagues Steve Behrendt and Mark Tramontozzi.
Flashing That Rock
Speaking of SRA alums, Stephanie Buck, has many reasons to smile. She's launched a marketing consulting firm, The M.O.I. Agency.
And that's not just a bandaid on her hand: Buck sports a stunning new diamond, after saying "yes" to former SRA colleague, Kevin O'Connor (now with Flywheel Communications Inc.)
Other news on the tech circuit family front: Shelby Alexander, of the ABA's Law Practice Management section, and husband Brian Blough, have welcomed Jacob Zachary Alexander Blough to the world. Congrats!
Another legal dot.com bites the dust: Erik Heels reports that RedStreet Inc., which housed a "museum" of law firm home pages and domain names, has closed. It's shopping its assets. (Interested? firstname.lastname@example.org. )
It all started with my allegedly "stolen" Palm IIIx. For a week, I searched everywhere for it in vain. Then there were those 2 a.m. nights in foreign hotel rooms when I was couldn't get mail via my Mac laptop. (Not Apple's fault, but ...) Not to mention all those Norton Utilities warnings, "You are running out of resources" on my aging 350 MHz home Hewlett Packard Pavilion.
O.K. O.K. I have to be completely honest: It also was getting downright embarrassing. My retiree parents and unemployed sister had better computers than I did. Not very impressive for a tech goddess, eh?
So I decided that I'd had it with all these competing operating systems. At least as far as mail and calendaring are concerned, I've joined the herd. I've migrated to Redmond.
So what'd I buy? After a lot of research, and helpful advice from Tyrone Rodriguez at HP, a Jornada 548. (Earlier in the year, for a tech panel, I tried a Casseopeia and couldn't even get the damned thing to turn on. But that's another story.)
Anyway, on to the real news: I got good customer service from a retail store! Yes! Staples was offering the best price and package, (a free Targus Stowaway keyboard), so I didn't buy online. But the units were flying off the shelves and most NYC stores were sold out. But that didn't stop the great staff at 42nd Street. They found one, and had it messengered over in 30 minutes flat. I was blown away. (No, they didn't know I was a tech writer.) Of course, four hours after breaking the shrink wrap I found my "stolen" Palm wedged in my computer bag.
Next, our AmLaw tech team set me up with an IBM ThinkPad 600E laptop. So far, so good.
But all these new acquisitions meant I had to load more software on my home PC. I had just upgraded to Office XP. Adding the Jornada golf software was the final straw.
At 3 a.m. I was doing a full system restore. At 7 p.m., I bought a Pavilion 7855 tower, with a 1G Pentium III, CD-RW and DVD. (We won't talk about CompUSA.)
So. I'll keep you posted on whether this all helps me keep my calendar and get my mail any better, or if I really need to make an emergency call to Dr. Phil and confess to my overly-refined rationalization skills.
"Yes, Oprah, it's true. I'm a secret slave of Hewlett Packard. I've been lusting after the PocketPC ever since I saw Bill Gates demo one at the Windows 2000 launch."
At least now I can play solitaire in color.