Technologist - FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog


FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

WHEN WILL IT stop? We have been hearing about cyberhacking for years, and rather than hack attacks dropping out of the news, we continue to be inundated with reports of successful hacks. This time the latest victim is the European Central Bank.

Perhaps you are thinking that because hacking is nothing new, methods and technology should have been developed to thwart hackers in their tracks. And it is true, there has been significant progress in this regard.

Unfortunately, as time marches on, the techniques and technological prowess of hackers has advanced too.

The "sharing economy" allows you to make money by "sharing" your car and your house. You can also enlist others help you with physical tasks as well as mental ones.

Until recently, at least one company thought you could share your San Francisco public parking space, but the San Francisco City Attorney quickly put that one to bed, as SF Weekly reported.

It's too soon to be sharing our underwear and kidneys -- the inevitable endpoint of our dystopian future -- but a new app called Fixed is here to help you fight your parking tickets. That's a nice service, but is it legal?

Does your online advertising strategy keep up with the latest tech and SEO trends? Let our experts take a second look.

We had planned to make today's column a preview of OS X Yosemite, as the public beta was released yesterday to the first million people who signed up. Alas, Apple is popular and this error happened repeatedly. (Tip: Supposedly, deleting the Yosemite file from your applications folder and restarting the download does the trick. It's still not working for us, but we'll keep trying.)

But Yosemite isn't Apple's only big plan for the fall. In addition to the iPhone and iOS 8 rumors that we've gabbed about, there are rumors that upgrades are coming to the company's desktop and laptop lines as well -- including the long-awaited "Retina" MacBook Air.

During Microsoft's recent earnings call, CEO Satya Nadella stated that the company would "streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one single converged operating system," relates The Verge.

"This means one operating system that covers all screen sizes."

This isn't the first mention of a one-OS-fits-all vision -- Windows Threshold has been in the rumor pipeline for months, if not years, after all. But, it is certainly the clearest. Microsoft's vision is simple: phone, tablet, laptop, PC, Xbox, whatever -- one operating system and one set of universal apps that work everywhere.

Microsoft sold about 5.8 million Lumia smartphones in a mere two months, a pretty impressive number considering nobody you know actually owns a Windows Phone. Out of all of the Windows-based phones in the wild, one model is far more popular than any other: the Lumia 520, which makes up 31.6 percent of all active Windows phones, according to AdDuplex. Add in the slight variant 521 and you have 36.4 percent of the phone's OS share covered by what is essentially one model.

The 520 is also ancient and doesn't even support 4G. But it is insanely cheap, often going on sale for less than $100 for a fully functioning smartphone.

It's successor, the $114 Nokia Lumia 530, has big shoes to fill. The new phone is not only important for helping Microsoft to capture low-end market share (against the flood of quality low-end Android devices from Motorola and others), but it also brings all of the latest Windows Phone 8.1 features to the masses, most notably Cortana.

For most incoming law students, 1L starts in just a few weeks. At this point, you're probably figuring out apartment leases, moving trucks, and tying up loose ends in your current living situation. But when 1L arrives, you'll want to be prepared and ready to jump right in.

A couple of weeks ago, we have you a list of supplies to get you started, but being the resident geek in the building, I figured a little tech talk was also in order.

Here are a few things you need, technology-wise, and some that you don't:

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

It is very easy to communicate freely and anonymously on the Internet. And some people believe that if they do not use their real names and easily identifiable information, they can basically say whatever they want online, without needing to worry about the impact that their Internet speech may have on others.

Is this true? Read on, because the answer is not simple.

The Nokia Asha line of "Android X" phones was an odd bird to begin with. Announced before Microsoft acquired Nokia's hardware division, the phones were a venture into a branched version of Android (much like Amazon's Kindle Fire OS) by a company that for the previous few years, had exclusively made Windows Phone OS smartphones.

At the time, many wondered if it was the first step towards backtracking on the Windows Phone OS exclusivity. Then after Microsoft acquired Nokia, it seemed destined for the trash bin -- except, a couple of weeks ago, Microsoft released a second batch of the phones, long after the acquisition. We really hope you didn't buy one.

"You know what would be a great idea? Like, LinkedIn, but for only lawyers man."

"Totally man. Like lawyers and social media and stuff."

Damn it, damn it, damn it. Why didn't I think of this? Oh wait, that's right, because it has been been done -- repeatedly: (deep breath) EsqSocial, Foxwordy, EsqSpot, LegallyMinded, Lawford, MyPractice, Lawyer-Link, HubSTREET, PivotalDiscovery, ESQchat, Martindale-Hubbel Connected, LegalOnRamp, Lawyrs, LawLink, jdOasis, wirelawyer, and of course, the AboveTheLaw comments section. And we'll never forget the Greedy Associates message boards.

Why, in the neon blue hell, do people keep making social networks for lawyers? Seriously.

A United States court issues an order to Microsoft, requiring them to turn over data from a suspected drug dealer. No big deal, right? What if that data is stored in the cloud, technically on a server in Dublin, Ireland? Can that court order reach into the ephemeral cloud, and across political borders into a physical server in a foreign country?

That's the issue being debated in this landmark case, creatively captioned In the Matter of a Warrant to Search a Certain E-Mail Account Controlled and Maintained By Microsoft Corporation. (We'll stick with In re: MS Email.) Here are the five biggest things at stake in the case: