Technologist - FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog


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:

For some, Google+ Authorship in search results was a magic elixir: your photo and name next to your posts in search results would spike traffic and maybe even help with ranking. Some claimed that adding Authorship bumped up their traffic as much as 150 percent. In one of my favorite experiments, Cyrus Shepard at Moz optimized his "ugly" profile picture using a dating site, which led to a 35 percent bump in traffic.

Crazy, right? Well, at least now, with the removal of Google+ profile pictures and circle counts, us unfortunate-looking folks have a fighting chance. And speaking of Google+, another interesting tweak went through this week: fake names are now allowed. Add in April's decision to gut Google+'s staff, and this is looking more and more like G+ is inching closer and closer to obscurity.

The ABA's Section of Intellectual Property Law just released an interesting white paper, one that every Internet Law geek should read: "A Call For Action in Online Piracy and Counterfeiting Legislation." It's an exhaustive 133-page PDF file that delves into everything from taking action against individuals and predatory foreign websites, to legislation meant to aid in the defense of intellectual property against online piracy. Personally, I'm especially curious about what the ABA has to say about controversial legislative proposals, such as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which was protested against by pretty much the entire Internet.

But for now, here's a little tidbit of advice from the paper that is obvious to anyone who has followed the waves of filing file-sharing lawsuits against individuals over the past couple of decades: it isn't worth it. (H/T to Ars Technica.)

"Mainstream Support ends January 13, 2015."

This past weekend, a flood of tweets started popping up, warning people that, just like Windows XP's end of life earlier this year, Windows 7 would be killed by Microsoft in January 2015.

Not quite. If you're using Windows 7, you can continue to do so safely for at least the next five years. The only thing that will change for most people is that Microsoft will not release any new features after the end of "Mainstream Support." Security fixes, however, will continue until January 14, 2020.

Smartwatches. They're coming at us in waves, with Google's friends pushing two to market at the recent Google I/O conference and a third one set to follow soon. That's not to mention the dozen or so that have already been released by the likes of Samsung, Qualcomm, and others. And rumors of Apple's iWatch continue to proliferate, with many expecting it to arrive on store shelves later this year.

Why? Does anyone, outside of the core group of hardcore tech geeks, really want one of these things?

It's my phone's screen on my television screen. And it only requires a compatible phone, a $35 Chromecast, and a Wi-Fi connection.

Why is this so awesome? It's because I can do anything on my phone (presentations, software demonstrations, toss up videos or pictures, or show off a document or PDF) and it displays wirelessly on a nearby television or projector.

It's just another reason why Chromecast, at $35 or less, is the perfect impulse buy and tech toy.