TechLinks: Best gadgets of 2017

Who doesn’t love finding that perfect gadget that makes things so much easier? Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a freelancer from Portland, Ore., and a member of the NCRA Technology Committee, has a few suggestions from around the Web for monitor mounts, audio recording, webcams, surge protectors, and apps.

“I love my dual monitors,” says Nodland. “I have one landscape orientation and one portrait. I can edit and have exhibits up at the same time.” A monitor mount will help keep screens organized and at an ergonomic eye level. This guide by How-To Geek will help you figure out how to pick the right monitor mount for your setup.

“Every now and then, we need a solution for rerecording audio for a number of reasons,” says Nodland. She recommends another article by How-To Geek about recording sound coming from your PC. The article has three solutions, two of which use software solutions and one “relies on an old trick that connects your computer’s audio output to its audio input with an audio cable.”

“We’ve noticed a pattern after years of notebook testing: Built-in webcams generally stink,” says Andrew E. Freedman in an article for Laptop Mag reviewing the best webcams. Use a webcam for an upcoming NCRA Skills Test, a webconferenced deposition, or as a way to talk to remote clients.

“I am very protective of my surge protector,” says Nodland, and anyone who has suddenly lost power just before saving a file can relate. This article by Wirecutter reviews a surge protector with a fail-proof method of letting you know when it’s time to replace it.

And finally, to cover all your bases, Wirecutter has the best tech and apps for your home office. “You don’t need the thinnest, lightest, or most elegantly designed items for your home office,” says the Wirecutter team. “In the space you make your living, you want reliable, comfortable, efficient tools — though it doesn’t hurt if they look nice, too.” The review includes storage and backup solutions, laptops and phone docks, routers and modems, productivity and finance apps, and more.

TechLinks: Helpful products

Recently, the NCRA Technology Committee shared a few products that can help with work tasks. The products include a password management system, an education technology tool, a messaging app, and an audio solution.

Nancy Bistany, RPR, shared a blog post by Dashlane on the worldwide password problem: Internet users’ tendency toward “using the same, easy-to-remember password on all of their accounts over the security of using strong, unique passwords” on each different account. Dashlane is a password manager that can also manage other security-sensitive information, such as IDs and credit card numbers. “I use Dashlane for my Level 1 Password user,” says Bistany. “Its reminders are great.”

Bistany also shared an article from Forbes reviewing Learning Tools for OneNote. Microsoft OneNote is a now well-known note-keeping program, and Learning Tools is an ancillary product. According to the article, “Learning Tools for OneNote was originally created for dyslexics … [that leverages] a variety of already existing Microsoft technologies like Bing’s speech recognition, simultaneous audio text playback, and natural language processing … to make reading and writing more accessible to all students.” One of its features is fluent fonts, which allows “readers to adjust both the letter spacing and the number of words on the line.”

Teresa Russ, CRI, shared a link on the messaging app Slack. According to the company, it’s “oriented toward small-team collaboration” and has both a free and premium version. Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC, explained, “I use Slack to talk to a captioning team that we do a lot of events together with. All or most of the tech companies use Slack to communicate. It has awesome searching capabilities, and you can tag someone in the conversation to bring it to their attention.” Frazier added that he has his own name set as a tag so he gets an alert when the conversation involves him.

Finally, Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, shared a review of Trint, an audio and transcription app. Nodland pointed out a quote from the article that explains that Trint makes “it easy to compare the audio clips to the transcript as you’re verifying and editing it.”

TechLinks: The 21st century reporter, part 2

TechLinks_logoOn behalf of the NCRA Technology Committee, Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, recently shared a series of links with information to help the 21st-century reporter or captioner. This second installment covers cloud backup, password management, and efficient internet searches.

In a July 21 article on How-To Geek, Cameron Summerson talks about how to use Google’s Backup and Sync tool to automatically backup information — including documents, photos, and videos — onto Google Drive. Summerson talks a bit about what this tool is and how it works, and then goes step by step through the process of setting it up. The Backup and Sync tool works on both PCs and Macs, and it allows the user to sync either an entire computer drive or only specific folders.

In a July 21 article for PC Mag, Michael Ansaldo presents the best password managers of 2017. Ansaldo talks about what a password manager does, why it’s important, and how PC Mag chose the best overall and the runner up. The article includes links to reviews for all of the password managers that PC Mag considered.

In a July 18 reprint on SlawTips (the original ran on the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library’s Legal Sourcery Blog), Alan Kilpatrick offers some tips on using Google Search for efficiently. Kilpatrick focuses on using specific search terms and then using the different search operators and filters — including combining them — to “craft powerful queries and locate good results.” The article ends with a few reminders about evaluating search results for authenticity, etc.

Read “TechLinks: The 21st century reporter, part 1.”

TechLinks: The 21st century reporter, part 1

TechLinks_logoOn behalf of the NCRA Technology Committee, Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, recently shared a series of links with information to help the 21st-century reporter or captioner. This first installment covers ethics and cybersecurity, a tech gadget, and a data-storage solution.

In the July 2017 GPSolo eReport for the American Bar Association (ABA), lawyers Al Harrison and Joseph Jacobson talk about what ransomware is, how it can affect your computer, and how to deal with it ethically. “Often portrayed as attacking an operating system such as Windows or Mac OS, ransomware is, unfortunately, more sophisticated and more destructive than you may perceive from a cursory review of reported invasive malware events,” Harrison and Jacobson say. This is the first in a series on cloud computing and ethics. GPSolo is the solo, small firm, and general practice division of the ABA.

In a July 20 post for PCMag, William Harrel reviews the Xerox Duplex Travel Scanner. “There are some other much more sophisticated portable document scanners out there, such as the $300 Epson WorkForce ES-300W Portable Wireless Duplex Document Scanner, but if all you need is to scan relatively short documents to your laptop on the road, the Duplex Travel Scanner is a terrific alternative to the RoadWarrior X3—especially if those documents are two-sided,” says Harrel.

A July 17 post on How-To Geek by Jason Fitzpatrick discusses how to set up a Synology Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. “A NAS, simply put, is a computer optimized for data storage, often with additional functionality layered on top,” explains Fitzpatrick. In the post, Fitzpatrick goes through the physical setup – including hard-drive selection, how to add the drives, and where to put a NAS – how to configure the NAS, and how to use the DiskStation Manager (with screenshots!).

Read “TechLinks: The 21st century reporter, part 2.”

TechLinks: Helpful products

TechLinks_logoRecently, the NCRA Technology Committee has shared a few products that can help with work tasks. The products include a password management system, an education technology tool, a messaging app, and an audio solution.

Nancy Bistany, RPR, shared a blog post by Dashlane on the worldwide password problem: internet users’ tendency toward “using the same, easy-to-remember password on all of their accounts over the security of using strong, unique passwords on all of their accounts.” Dashlane is a password manager that can also manage other security-sensitive information, like IDs and credit card numbers. “I use Dashlane for my Level 1 Password user,” says Bistany. “Their reminders are great.”

Bistany also shared an article from Forbes reviewing Learning Tools for OneNote. Microsoft OneNote is a now well-known note-keeping program, and Learning Tools is an ancillary product. According to the article, “Learning Tools for OneNote was originally created for dyslexics … [that leverages] a variety of already existing Microsoft technologies like Bing’s speech recognition, simultaneous audio text playback, and natural language processing … to make reading and writing more accessible to all students.” One of its features is fluent fonts, which allows “readers to adjust both the letter spacing and the number of words on the line.”

Teresa Russ, CRI, shared a link on the messaging app Slack. According to the company, it’s “oriented toward small-team collaboration” and has both a free and premium version. Chase Frazier, RMR, CRR, CRC, explained, “I use Slack to talk to a captioning team that we do a lot of events together with. All or most of the tech companies use Slack to communicate. It has awesome searching capabilities, and you can tag someone in the conversation to bring it to their attention.” Frazier added that he has his own name set as a tag so he gets an alert when the conversation involves him.

Finally, Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, shared a review of Trint, an audio and transcription app. Nodland pointed out a quote from the article that explains that Trint makes “it easy to compare the audio clips to the transcript as you’re verifying and editing it.”

TechLinks: Laptop recommendations

TechLinks_logoThe Technology Committee recently shared a March 10 article from Redmond Magazine entitled “3 Roadworthy Windows 10 Laptops.” The article included the Dell XPS 15, the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga X1, and the HP EliteBook 1040 G3.

This post prompted a discussion by the committee when one member, who uses Eclipse, asked for personal recommendations for a replacement laptop. Two committee members chimed in that they use the Surface Pro – Robin Nodland, FAPR, RDR, CRR, who is on Eclipse, uses the Pro 3, and Dianne Cromwell, RPR, who is on Case Catalyst, uses Pro 4 because she “missed the larger screen during trials and dailies.”

TechLinks: Sharing information

TechLinks_logoThe Technology Committee shared a few links about WiFi systems, storage solutions, and a video-streaming service.

An article from How-To Geek explains what a mesh WiFi system is and how it’s different from an extender. “If your home’s WiFi network has dead spots, or doesn’t reach across your entire house, then you might have recently considered getting a mesh WiFi system,” the article explains.

PCWorld reviews the Netgear Orbi WiFi router. The Orbi has been marketed as a mesh network system, so even though it’s technically a hub-and-spoke system, the review compares its performance against other mesh systems on the market. “The bottom line is that this is an outstanding WiFi route,” reviewer Michael Brown writes.

On PCMag, Michael Muchmore and Jill Duffy compare the best cloud storage and file-sharing services of 2017. The article also discusses cloud storage in a bit more detail, including how it can work for you and using a free vs. paid service.

Finally, vMix is a live production and streaming software. According to the site, vMix “runs on Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10 platforms,” and its features include “live mixing, switching, recording and live streaming of SD, full HD, and 4K video sources, including cameras, video files, DVDs, images, Powerpoint” and more.

TechLinks: Keeping your information secure

NCRA’s Technology Committee rounded up a group of tech-related articles about keeping your computer files and other information secure, an ever-increasing concern in a world where privacy and security are becoming more and more important. Two articles explain what to look for in scams and the remainder offer suggestions for keeping your devices and information secure.

A tech sector employee explains her vishing – voice phishing — experience and how such scams can threaten the information security of a business. The YouTube video also gives information on how to recognize and how to avoid such scams. See video.

How to recognize a risky email was the topic of a June 16 post on lawyerist.com. Whether avoiding viruses or phishing scams, this article offers the basics for keeping your computer safe. Read more.

A July 4 post on Gizmo’s Freeware, a community website for reviewing free software, suggested Safepad as a simple Windows notepad replacement that uses encryption. Read more.

Bringing the above together, also check out an ABA article on building strong passwords to protect your information from its June issue. The suggestions include using longer words, using both letters – a mix of upper and lowercase – and numbers, and other tricks to make your devices more secure. Read more.

An article in PC Magazine about encrypting data on external drives is a reminder to protect clients’ confidential information as well.  Read more.

TechLinks: All about Microsoft

TechLinks_logoNCRA’s Technology Committee rounded up a group of tech-related articles all about Microsoft, including customizing email accounts in Windows 10, the Windows 10 update history site, and a wireless display adapter.

An article on How-To Geek provides step-by-step instructions to set up and customize email accounts in Windows 10. Among other things, the Mail tile allows the user to access email from multiple accounts in a single interface.

According to an article by Paul Thurrott on his website, this spring, Microsoft launched a Windows 10 update history site. The site is an effort by Microsoft to be more transparent about documenting its changes to Windows 10.

Speaking of Windows technology, for CNET, Sean Hollister reviews Microsoft’s new wireless display adapter, which he describes as “the simplest way to beam your laptop, tablet, or phone’s screen to a TV.” Hollister calls it “a useful tool if your video-casting needs are modest,” especially for non-Apple users.

TechLinks: Products and services

TechLinks_logoFor The Verge, Walt Mossberg reviews the Eero WiFi system, a wireless mesh network of devices that can be controlled via an app. Mossberg highlights how user-friendly the system is to set up and manage through the app and that it can be a good solution for trickier wireless situations without losing bandwidth.

On Fast Company, Harry McCracken explains how Logitech, which has been known for accessories for PCs, has grown in the videoconferencing hardware market. McCracken asserts that “the company has found its niche with relatively inexpensive, plug-and-play devices that are compatible with a variety of software “and other widely used services for making video calls.”

Robin Nodland, RDR, CRR, also shared a couple products: Wacom’s Bamboo Spark, which is “a Bluetooth pen that captures your handwritten notes,” and Wooji-juice’s Ferrite Recording Studio, which is an audio recording app for iOS.