Allison Gets Roasted, Comdex Gets Clinton
by Monica Bay
THE HIGHLIGHT of last month's American Bar Association's Law Practice Management section Spring meeting in Portsmouth, N.H., (besides caravans to the Freeport, Maine L.L.Bean outlet) was the roast of G. Burgess Allison, during the section dinner at Hemingway's restaurant in Rye Harbor, N.H.
Allison, a long-time contributor to the section's Law Practice Management magazine, is retiring his monthly "Technology Update" column. He took the gentle ribbing all in good stride.
Among those taking turns to poke: John Tredennick Jr., of Holland and Hart; Dan Evans, currently articles editor of the magazine; and David Hambourger, former director of the ABA's Legal Technology Research Center, who is now with Chicago's Winston & Strawn. Robert Schack, a former editor, moderated the festivities.
Yawning with the Chief
Spring COMDEX officials were all a-flutter when the news got out that President Bill Clinton would speak at the Chicago event, the first U.S. president to address the technology show.
Clinton used his brief appearance at McCormick Place to challenge the IT community to help "close the digital divide," arguing that despite exploding access to computers and the Internet, a huge gap remains between citizens who have access to technology and those who do not. Most of those who do not, he said, are the traditionally under-empowered, including many minority communities.
Surprisingly, Clinton was not a huge draw. (Contrast that to the standing-room-only crowd for Bill Gates' appearances at last year's Spring show).
Many attendees seemed more interested in strolling the exhibit hall than an opportunity to hear the the outgoing president, but that might also have had something to do with the three-hour wait between initial seating and the actual appearance. There were quite a few unclaimed seats in the spacious Aire Crown Theater. And yes, they really did play "Hail to the Chief" when Clinton walked onto the stage.
Hewlett-Packard probably is making a very smart move with its recent decision to slash the price of its nifty HP CapShare 920 portable e-copier, from $499 to $299. The gadget is a natural for litigators and others who use it to make copies, discretely, any where, any time.
The Windows-compatible unit weights 12.5 ounces, and fits in the palm of your hand. I've tried it, and it's realllllly neat: You simply slide it over the document, and then you can send copies to your computer with the touch of a button. Copies can also be sent to infrared-enabled printers. It communicates with Windows CE-based handheld PCs, the Psion Series 5 handheld PC; and other devices.
Alas, it's not yet Mac-compatible.
But the price drop sure makes sense: making the device more of an "impulse" purchase.
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The Denver weather was decidedly see-saw (45 one day, 80s the next) but the Association of Legal Administrators annual conference was a smash hit.
In marked contrast to last year's decidely lukewarm show at Chicago's Navy Pier, the show positively sizzled. (More proof to our theory that a whole lot of vendors were hiding in the corners until 01/01/00 came and went.)
As at the New York LegalTech show, new vendors seem to be emerging out of the woodwork!
My favorite new booth was for THEBOXCOMPANY.COM, where Bruce Glenn was demonstrating nifty moving boxes that you kinda-hafta see to believe: they are one-piece, and pop up in about one second, and cost less than one buck ($0.99).
SRA International Inc. and Uniscribe Professional Services Inc. draw a tie for the popular booth: SRA had this nifty Alpine ski machine and was giving away gift certificates to Lands' End. Uniscribe brought in golf pro Jerry Pate, and I think every male in the house (and a lot of females) waited patiently in line for a chance at a 60-second lesson and an autographed photo. (Check out page 89 for photos.)
In fact, there was so much activity in the Mile High city that several of us had trouble getting a hotel room, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. After this trip, I may rethink my Pavlovian tendency to book at the big chains. I ended up at the delightful Hotel Teatro.(We also hear that the Hotel Monaco was terrific.)
Hotel Teatro used to be a Wyndham property, but recently went independent. It's absolutely wonderfully decorated, and located in a landmark building just about three blocks from the convention center. Rooms are small, but nicely appointed (great bathrooms!). Best of all was its stellar Restaurant Kevin Taylor, where I shared a stunning and very reasonable prix fixe dinner with a pal. (The hotel also has a more casual bistro, Jou Jou). I guess I'm not alone in my assessment of the hotel: As I was leaving, U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright was checking in.
SharkTank.com says it wants to be the Internet's premier online legal marketplace, says company president Thomas Ciampa. The company wants to match potential clients with qualified lawyers, it says.
Would-be clients can submit an anonymous request for legal services, which can be viewed by the registered attorneys, says Ciampa, who says he practiced for five years at a large Boston firm.
Attorney responses are forwarded to a confidential mailbox that can be viewed by the potential client, who can then contact the attorney if it looks like a match.
Sprint PCS, of Kansas City, Mo., has announced that it is partnering with Afronet.com, to make the Web site's content accessible on the Sprint PCS Wireless Web. Afronet.com offers a variety of news, e-mail services, reviews, community information, and more.
Sprint also will offer Spanish-speaking customers a wireless phone with Spanish and English voice prompts. The company plans to offer two Samsung units: the SCH-8500 and SCH-6100, it says.
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Meow Crash Boom
The New York Times reports on a new $20 software utility that has nothing to do with the law but sure sounds, well, purrrfectly practical.
PawSense, by BitBoost Systems, promises to keep unintentional cat computing to a minimum.
The software runs in the background until it detects "cat-like typing" and then blocks input from keys until a human clicks on the correct button.
It also emits a loud noise, to convince the cat to go stretch elsewhere.