Just wanted to share a quick fix for an “out of memory” error a client was receiving when attempting to open older Info-Pro forms (these are the older style executable files that use Omniform filler). The client recently upgraded all but one system to Windows 7 (an older system remained XP). In addition we installed a new SBS 2008 server. All workstations are 32-bit Windows.
Certain older forms would open, others would not. However, one workstation was able to open any form – and surprisingly it wasn’t the old XP system. That system failed with the same memory error.
After some trial and error it turned out that some of the forms would generate the “out of memory” error message when certain printers were set to the Windows default. After setting the default printer on any system to match the one that the “working” Windows 7 system was using, that system functioned properly. The only other default print driver that could be used was Adobe PDF (the Adobe writer driver). All other printers set to default would throw the memory error.
So a workaround is to simply change the default printer before opening the specific forms that cause issues.
Info-Pro has since moved to Adobe fillable PDF but many law firms still retain their older Info-Pro Omniform forms that have been completed for clients. Until the old forms are completely phased out this is a pretty quick and easy workaround.
I ran across this article written for Tech Republic (a great source of all things technology) by Debra Littlejohn Shinder and thought it would be helpful to many businesses. Being in IT, I’m all too familiar with the scams businesses see in their e-mail boxes every day, but I know some (many) people still get confused. So, here’s a little quick information on what to look out for when you’re reviewing your e-mail in the morning…
1. Fake Facebook “friend” messages – these are e-mail messages that look the same as when someone posts to your Facebook wall or sends you a private message.
2. Fake Messages from “The Administrator” – these are messages that come from “The Administrator” of any number of given organizations (facebook, your bank, credit card, etc.). Here, there are two things that give away these “false” e-mails.
- First beware of the “To” address – it will be incorrect and you most likely won’t recognize any of the domain name(s).
- Secondly, if it’s not from your local IT administrator, you should immediately be wary. Because honestly, when is the last time you had an “administrator” send you anything valid that wasn’t as simple as “server reboot tomorrow” or “turn your system off tonight”?
3. Messages that play on our fears – these are emails that feed off of current events or high profile media events a good example would be the (H1N1 virus ) Swine flu, etc. Don’t panic, just don’t click on it.
4. Cancellation of an account Emails - these may show up even if you don’t have an account with them! These messages are usually chocked full of spelling/grammar errors and are often sent from another country.
5. Fake “Holiday Cards”- these cards are usually very generic, rather than saying that they are from a specific person’s name they say it is from “a friend”. Be careful, because when you open them, you could be putting your computer at risk without every being aware of it! To be on the safe side, only open Holiday Cards from friends, or better yet just don’t open them at all.
6. Notice of the “Mysterious” package message – these are e-mails saying that you have an UPS, FedEx or perhaps DHL package that was undeliverable due to incorrect/incomplete address information with an attached form that they need you to complete in order to get the package to you. Just as you may suspect, there really isn’t a package at all! They want you to open the attachment so they can infect your computer with a virus. Because some people may be aware of this kind of scam, they will try and infect your computer by sending you an email with a link to a Web page to open instead.
7. Government “Threat” Emails – these can be sent to you to notify you that either the FBI or Homeland Security has been notified of your alleged involvement in terrorist activities or money laundering. Just as you may suspect from a hoax like this… they have an offer for you to avoid prosecution, which could be a payment of a few hundreds made to the Economic Financial Crimes Commission Chairman. If it would be an official threat, they would contact you in person, without asking for a payoff to buy your way out.
8. Fake “Census Survey” email – here again they will use the Federal Government to get you to respond to their emails. The Federal government does require you by law to fill out a census survey every 10 years, and yes, they may send you an online request for your participation in a census surveys, but they don’t ask for your personal information unlike email scams.
9. Abuse of “Trust” in software and hardware manufacturers – these e-mails are basically fake security warnings with a “quick fix” attachment, dubbed to look like it was sent from Microsoft or another familiar company. These “quick fixes” are really malware to fake special offers to payment requests which require you to download and install a transaction inspector module if you want to decline to have payment charged to you credit card.
10. The “Fake” You-are-a-Winner E-mail – You just won a prize, how awesome is that? Well, the only problem is you didn’t enter into any contest to win the prize. These e-mails want you to fill out a form to claim your prize, complete with your social security number so “the value of your prize can be reported to the IRS.” Remember to check out the legitimacy of any email notification. If you need to send any sensitive information, remember to email it encrypted if you don’t have an alternative method in which to submit it.
Keep in mind, if you’re unsure just don’t open it. It’s just that simple. Instead, call your helpdesk, administrator, or IT manager and let them figure out whether it’s valid or not. Trust me, they’d rather you call them than open it.
Following my previous post about blogging I thought it appropriate to stay on theme by linking to Matt Homann’s blog where he has listed ten great marketing tips for law firms. Granted, the theme here on ITP’s blog has been about legal technology (mostly), but I thought followers of this blog would find Matt’s post interesting and useful. Additionally, as marketing for all companies becomes more “web-centric” I thought it interesting to point out (again) the volumes of information legal professionals can find on blogs these days. Anyhow…click here to read, enjoy, and hopefully, get some good tips about marketing your firm.
Every firm wants to lower their IT costs. In fact, given the current climate of our economy, firms of all types and sizes are taking a good hard look at where they can save money – it only makes sense. The good news is that it’s not that hard to save money on your technology costs this year. Oh sure, projects and new initiatives will have their place, but what I’m referring to is your support costs. Most of the firms I work with really don’t look critically at how their technology decisions affect support costs – at least not until I point it out to them. So what do I tell my clients about saving on their IT support? Keep things as simple and consistent as possible.
Ironically, it’s not the technology that often gets in the way of keeping things simple and consistent on your network – it’s your staff. I don’t know how many times I’ve sat down with law firms that have over 20 applications installed on their network. Over 20 applications!? Egads, that’s expensive! That means that all 20 applications have to be patched, upgraded, maintained, and possibly the most difficult part – they all need to “play nice” together on the same network. When I explain this to the firm and show them how much it’s costing them, they’re always receptive to removing some of the applications – until, of course, the attorneys are told their pet application is going to be removed.
But the problem is usually solvable if it can be quantified into dollars and cents which, in most cases, is just a matter of a little quick math. Does the application provide value to the firm greater than it costs the firm or not? You’ll find some applications really do make a difference to a firm’s bottom line, but many don’t. Get rid of the ones that don’t and you’ll save on the cost of keeping the program updated along with the support costs. Once you’ve been able to weed out many of the applications that are bogging down your network, you should find not only that your support costs have gone down, but your technology will likely run better, too (check out this article from law.com on some of the benefits). Now, if the firm can also standardize on hardware… Well, maybe I’ll save that for another post.
Anyhow, I strongly suggest you take a few minutes to look at your firm’s technology. There is no doubt that if you keep your technology as simple and consistent as possible, you will save real, bottom-line dollars and you’ll probably reap a few performance benefits along the way, as well.
Whether you’re a large, enterprise law firm or you’re a small boutique firm, there are few things more important than managing your technology well. Good technology management can ensure your data is safe and accessible, staff members can work efficiently, and your technology decisions work out well. But good technology management requires firms to do far more than just “keep things running.” On top of that there are so many emerging technologies to consider, it could take endless hours to keep up with all of them. So what are firms doing today to successfully manage their technology? Well, for most firms, they should be able to lean heavily on their IT consulting firm (if your IT firm can’t help with managing your technology consider hiring a new one). For larger firms who have a dedicated staff, they have more time for analysis and planning, but the components of good technology management are still the same. For the firms I work with I recommend the following:
1. Define what you want your technology to do. Without this, there is no way to determine whether you’re managing your technology well or not.
2. Set an IT budget for the year. This is critical. If you’re a smaller firm without an IT staff, your budget doesn’t have to be down to the penny, but it should include the upcoming projects, maintenance & support for your systems, and an additional percentage for possible emergency situations. For larger firms, it’s much the same, but you will want to include staff costs, as well.
3. Measure. When I ask law firms how they’re measuring the success (or failure) of their IT, they almost always look at me with a blank stare. With technology being absolutely essential for a firm to practice law, it is imperative that the management of that resource be measured.
4. Evaluate. Take a critical look at your measurements, the choices you’ve made on new technologies, projects, and yes, even your IT firm.
If you’re not sure how to actually do these things, don’t worry – I’ll be following up these posts with more specifics on each point above. Ultimately, I can’t stress enough how important managing your IT is. It may even be more important than winning that next big case. Sound crazy? Imagine trying to win that case without your firm’s technology. It may be possible, but it certainly wouldn’t be efficient.
I can’t tell you how many law firms I find that live on old template, cut-and-paste methods of creating their simple documents. To all these law firms I’d just like to say…you’re wasting a TON time and money. How do I know? Because for most firms, the greatest expense they have is their people. And what do people at law firms spend the most time doing? Creating documents. So it only follows that if a firm can produce more documents with the same staffing resources, the firm will see an increase in productivity. Definitely a good thing. Honestly, I really don’t know why more firms don’t take advantage of the power of automation, but I suppose I’m digressing now. I did say this was a rant, didn’t I? Okay, okay, to the topic at hand. Macros. Whether you use Word or WordPerfect, employing the use of macros is one of the easiest and largest impact steps you can take to automate your documents. Macros can be done by internal staff members (sometimes) or you can find a consultant capable of creating them for you. Basically, macros are a series of memorized instructions within your word processor. Click this button and the macro runs, executing a number of actions. For example, wouldn’t it be nice to add your signature to a letter (especially one you intend to e-mail) with just the click of a button? Or how about putting a caption on your document with just a few clicks of the mouse? Ah yes, all these things are possible through macros. Seriously, if you want to make a significant impact to your firm’s productivity the quickest way possible, consider deploying macros. It will put you a step ahead of many of your cut-and-paste competitors with minimal expense.
Okay, admittedly there have been numerous problems with the intitial release of SR-3, but the good news is the folks at Lexis are working hard to get SR-3a out as quickly as possible. I don’t know anything for certain, but there’s hope we could see something by the end of next week. I’ll keep you posted as I find out more.
I have run into this question regarding Time Matters calendars and grouped events on many an occasion. This might clear up some questions for those not familiar with this feature:
1) There are two different kinds of groups. There are user groups and there are staff groups. You should be able to put a staff group in the staff field of an event record and have it assign the event into the individual staff calendars as long as those staff members are a member of that group. This type of group is created by going to the File Menu and choosing Database, Groups. When you create an event with the group, there are 2 things you need to make sure of. A) The group staff must be the first staff in the staff field and B) when you select the group, make sure the check box “Keep Together as a Group” is NOT checked. This is only true for the “Group” type staff. The other thing to remember is that when you want to see a grouped event on your calendar with everyone’s individual records, you need to right click and choose “Show Members – Expanded”.
2) The other type of group, the user group, is set up for using instant messenger or email and is based on the user login. This type of group is set up under File, Setup, User and Security, User Groups.
3) When you want to delete a grouped record, keep the following in mind. If you try to delete the record and get a message asking if you also want to delete linked records, that is because that event was set up by a user as a grouped event and you are not on the “master” record to delete it. If you go to the event list in Time Matters, there is a symbol that looks like a little sun to the right of the day field (i.e. Friday*). The little sun symbol indicates that it is a master record. If you delete that record, it will ask you if you want to delete all linked records. If you say yes, it will delete everyone’s event associated with it. If you are not on the master record, it will ask you if you want to delete the record and unlink from the master. If you say yes, it will leave the rest of the grouped records alone and only delete the specific record you are on.
Here are other event symbol explanations:
||Events have a time conflict.
||Event or ToDo is part of a Group of records and is the Master (or Parent) Record.
||Event or ToDo is part of a Group of records and is a Grouped (or Child) Record.
||Record is part of a Schedule Chain.
||Record has an Alarm set.
||Event or ToDo has been Billed. This symbol appears in the Status column. To use this symbol, on the main menu bar click File > Setup > General > Program Level > Lists and select the Show $ in Status Field check box.
||“Specified” Related Record.
Everyone has certain things that drive them a bit crazy in their profession. Today I’d like to share one of mine with you (sounds fun, doesn’t it?). Managing IT projects – it’s just not done well for many firms. Whether it’s a lack of experience from the firm’s IT consultant or if the firm just doesn’t want to invest in project management I don’t really know, but I’m seeing more and more good projects fail because of it. Often firms spend so much time and effort researching the right project, determining the right time to do the project, and finding the right people to help them with the project, that when it comes time to do the project there’s almost no emphasis on actually managing the project. Why does this drive me a bit crazy? Because so many good IT projects fail from simple lack of management. At its core, project management is communication. IT projects require good communication of goals, timelines, resources, and expectations. Without these it’s almost impossible for a project to succeed fully. So the when you’re ready to move forward with your next IT project, don’t forget the management – it could save you lots of time and money.
There has been so much buzz about Windows Vista and its place in the legal community, I thought a few comments would be appropriate. In short, I strongly believe the benefits of deploying Windows Vista are more long term while deploying XP is more of a short term solution. Sure, deploying Vista will probably require some software upgrades to be fully operational on your network, but deploying XP will only lead to problems down the road. And in my opinion, deploying XP will cause more problems down the road than deploying Vista would today. Here’s my rationale:
Say you deploy XP today. Everything works fine – you don’t need to upgrade your applications, train your staff members, buy new peripherals, download new drivers, or deal with any of that hassle. Sounds great, right? I think so. But let’s look down the road two years. In two years from now your XP desktop system will be about half way through its life cycle (if you consider most law firms try to get 4 years out of their PCs). So now it’s two years later, you’re running XP, and you want to upgrade to the newest version of your business application (new features, old version isn’t supported anymore, etc.). Unfortunately, you can’t because the new version doesn’t run on XP anymore. You’re stuck. You can’t install the application without upgrading to Vista and upgrading now certainly costs more than if you would have purchased Vista in the first place. Ultimately, you still have to invest in training, address other compatibility issues, and all the rest like you would have initially, but now it costs more to do so. So really your choices become one of 3…
1. Upgrade all your PCs and applications at the same time some time down the road
2. Stay with XP and know you won’t be able to upgrade your software until you make the jump to Vista
3. Deploy Vista in accordance with the life cycle of your existing systems and address the issues that come with it
Whichever route you decide is best for your firm, don’t make a hasty decision. Deploy Vista as part of your overall IT plan so you’re in control.