Jun
23
2009
0

How to Save Your Law Practice Money: Part I

How to stretch your law offices budget

How to stretch your law office's budget

Cost: $0.00

Savings: $150/computer

Here’s an easy way to save your law practice several hundred dollars in the next few months.  The next time you have to purchase a new computer do not buy a copy of MicroSoft Office, MicroSoft Word, or WordPerfect.  Even basic versions of these programs can run several hundred dollars per computer.[1]  You don’t have to purchase these programs!

Try OpenOffice instead!  I have been using OpenOffice on my home and work computers for the last three years and have been extremely happy with it.  I have given copies of this program to family, friends, and colleagues who are also all very happy with it.  I’ve used it for simple correspondence, legal pleadings, spreadsheets, and presentations.

Here are a few “real world” benefits:

OpenOffice is totally 100% free open source software

Free as in free.  Give it to your friends.  Install it at home and on your kids’ computers.  Don’t worry about software piracy.  Its totally, completely, free.

OpenOffice has better document recovery

Its important to know that OpenOffice is much more stable than anything MicroSoft or WordPerfect has to offer.  It is extremely rare that OpenOffice crashes on me.  If you’re using MicroSoft Word and you haven’t saved your document at least once, a single crash will completely erase all of your progress.  The very few times that OpenOffice has crashed on me I have gotten all of my data back – even when I haven’t saved the file once.

OpenOffice has everything you need

OpenOffice has all the features of MicroSoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and WordPerfect.  You can also use the OpenOffice suite of software to open, edit, and save to MicroSoft Word and WordPerfect formats.  It won’t automatically open the MicroSoft Office 2007 formats yet, but you can find plugins and software to do this for you (also for free).  OpenOffice has spell check, grammar check, autocorrect, macros, and templates (even legal pleading templates!).

OpenOffice can do more than its competitors

OpenOffice can save as, open, and even edit a PDF.  Editing a PDF requires a plugin, but it is very easy to install (and also free!).  Just being able to print to a PDF is going to make your documents easier to share with others and, hopefully, one day easier to share with EAMS too.[2][3]

If you’re not convinced to make the leap with your next computer purchase, then download OpenOffice now and give it a shot on your current computer.  Here’s their website link:

Download OpenOffice.org – free word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software

  1. Photo courtesy of Krug6 []
  2. Not that EAMS will share with you. []
  3. Don’t take it personally – EAMS pretty much hates everyone. []
Nov
13
2008
1

OpenOffice v3.0: Helping with EAMS

MicroSoft has no one to blame but themselves for my deleting MicroSoft Office.  Well, its partly Dell’s fault too, but that’s a long story I’ll tell some other time.  (Short version: Dell repaired a prior laptop and shipped it to a construction site in Oakland.)

Once I tried OpenOffice, I never looked back.  Its my preferred word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, office suite program.  Not only is it better than MicroSoft office in just about every way, but its also completely free.  You might be interested in trying it out because I believe it will help you tremendously with EAMS.

OpenOffice.org

OpenOffice.org

OpenOffice.org released version 3.0 of their program on October 13, 2008.  It was so wildly popular that their website was crushed under the overwhelming demand.  The three most important things to know about OpenOffice are:

  1. Its open source, so its completely free.  So, there’s no reason not to give it a shot.
  2. It can open, edit, and save to any MS Office 2000, 2003, 2007, and WordPerfect formats.
  3. It can print or export any file to a PDF.

If you’re a Workers’ Compensation professional in California, you’re probably dealing with EAMS.  Since filing things with EAMS means working with a lot of PDF’s.  In order to keep from reinventing the wheel, it makes sense to save those PDF’s of the document cover sheets.  But what if you need to make a small change later on?  Well, OpenOffice v3.0 can help with that too.

Using an extension ((basically a small program)) OpenOffice can open and edit and re-save a PDF file. Not even Adobe, the company that promotes the PDF format[1] , does a good job of opening and editing PDF’s.

This is a really big deal to me because editing saved PDF’s is going to save me a lot of time editing settlement documents and various pleadings.

Update

I wrote the above about a month ago while I gave OpenOffice 3.0 a shot.  It won’t install on my Vista laptop but works great on my XP desktop.  I’ve reverted to OpenOffice 2.4 on the laptop while I wait for a fix.  OpenOffice 2.4 is still free, but it won’t open MS Office 2007 formats (which not everyone is using anyhow) and cannot edit PDFs.

  1. I know that’s redundant. []
Oct
07
2008
0

Benefits of Cloud Computing

Most people don’t even realize that they’re trend setters.  With the increase in online or website based programs, more and more people are turning to “cloud computing.”  This term refers to a process where all the computational heavy lifting is not performed on a user’s computer but rather an external computer.

Clouds, Computing?

Clouds, Computing?

The most common example of cloud computing is probably “Google Docs,” which is Google’s online suite of office productivity software.  It includes programs for spreadsheets, presentations, and of course document editing.  It can open and save in its own format, OpenOffice format, and Microsoft Office formats.  Even Adobe released a free online version of Photoshop.

Cloud computing is basically the process of outsourcing your math.  There are a lot of situations where this makes a lot of sense:

  • Money. Lower computing requirements mean you don’t need as powerful a computer, saving you money.
  • Money. Lower computing requirements also mean you won’t need to purchase an upgrade or new computer as often, saving you money.
  • Time. Nothing to install, upgrade, or troubleshoot.
  • Money. Web server updates mean you don’t have to purchase software upgrades, saving you money.
  • Scaling. Need another copy of a program?  Just fire up a new computer and launch a new web browser.
  • Fewer Resources. When the program never actually runs on your computer, it uses no memory.  When your computer isn’t working hard running a program, it uses less power.
  • More Resources. When the program is never installed on your computer, it uses no hard drive space.  On the flip side, many cloud computing programs allow you to save your work or files online – giving you more hard drive space than what’s on your computer.

So, how does all this technobabble about cloud computing apply to you?  Well, every time you use this website’s online web-based permanent disability calculators and EAMS search functions you’re letting my web server do the number crunching for you.

You’re, quite literally, letting me help you save resources, time, and money.

Aug
28
2008
0

2003 reasons to delete Vista

Looong story short, after Dell lost my Windows XP laptop they replaced eventually it with a new laptop (hooray!) with Windows Vista (boo!). Sure, I got used to it – but its a constant struggle. Once you strip down Vista, yanking out all the features that make it different from Windows XP, its not that bad. But, then again, there isn’t much good about it either. More than 18 months after the release of Vista, here’s my reason to not use it:

  • User Access Control
  • It requires more resources (hard drive space, RAM, processor speed)[1]
  • It will not work with MS Office 2003

In this day and age, there is exactly one reason to have Windows – Microsoft Office. If you want to play games, you’re better off with an XBox or PlayStation 3. If you want to surf the web, you can use your phone. For anything else, you can use a Mac or Linux.

A friend of mine confided that when her copy of MS Office 2003 didn’t work with Vista she bought MS Office 2007. This exact problem, my copy of MS Office 2003 not being able to run on my laptop running Vista, is why I turned to OpenOffice. Here’s the vicious cycle I perceive:

  1. Your old computer is slow.
  2. Buy a new computer.
  3. New computer comes with newest version of Windows.
  4. You buy all new software to run on the new version of Windows.
  5. Your computer is now loaded down with so much junk you need a faster computer.

I absolutely refuse to believe Microsoft is incapable of figuring out a way for their newest operating system to work with the world’s most popular office productivity software. The only possible explanation I will accept is that Microsoft is using the manufacturer’s theory of LRR.[2]

  1. Compare Windows XP’s requirements to Windows Vista’s for yourself. []
  2. Lather, rinse, repeat. []

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