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
11
2008
0

Safer Software Practices

Wordpress

Wordpress

I’ve been upgrading to the latest releases of WordPress as soon as each one comes out.  And, its a good thing too.

Over the last week or two a website named “Wordpresz.org” ((I’ve edited the link so that it goes to WordPress.org instead.  I don’t want contribute to these hackers fooling anyone else.)) was discovered.  The people who created this website were using a vulenerability in WordPress version 2.6.2 to redirect users to their website.  Their website purported to release WordPress version 2.6.4[1].  The problem was that they had hacked one file in the installation package to create a bigger security vulerability.

This just goes to show that:

  1. Monitor for Updates. Many programs these days automatically check to see if new versions are available.  If the program does not have this feature[2] , its a good idea to check about once a month or so.
  2. Update Frequently. Not all software updates are equal.  If the program is being updated to fix security vulnerabilities or improve the program’s stability, you definitely want to install the update.  This website’s installation of WordPress was already “inocculated” against this kind of attack because I had alled version 2.6.3 almost as soon as it came out.
  3. Use Official Sources. WordPress is open source software built using PHP and MySQL.  Since the program is open source, its easier to modify the code. ((As Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility.”))  The themes and plugins available through WordPress.org are reviewed by other users for malicious code and for possible improvements.  If you’re not certain how to examine source code for malicious code, its best to only use official sources.
  1. The latest version is 2.6.3 which is just version 2.6.2 with a small but important security fix. []
  2. Or if you turn it off, as I sometimes do. []
Aug
27
2008
0

Website upgraded again!

In my never ending quest to build the world’s best workers’ compensation website, I’ve made a few upgrades:

  • Upgraded from WordPress 2.6 to WordPress 2.6.1
  • Infinitesimal changes to the theme
  • Adapted a new plugin for WordPress that redirects you directly to the calculator page as soon as you log in

Why keep upgrading WordPress?

Using open source software can be a two-edged sword. On the down side, anyone with the ability to read the source code can figure out the security vulnerabilities. The plus side is that people are constantly working to improve and eliminate those very same security vulnerabilities.

Since people are working on WordPress all the time, it will need to be upgraded all the time. Doing so allows me to take advantage of the latest features and security updates. So far I’ve used WordPress 2.3.2, 2.5, 2.5.1, 2.6, and now 2.6.1.

Why change the theme?

The theme (the “look” of this website) is completely user configurable. Since this website’s launch I’ve been constantly tweaking the look. Minor changes to the color scheme, menu at the top of the website, and how many posts are shown on the blog page.

I work on the theme in order to (hopefully) make the website more aesthetically pleasing and easier to use.

Why the new plugin?

I’d like to make the free registration process as quick and as painless as possible. I’ve had the opportunity to watch a few people go through the free registration process for this website. What I saw was that people were logging in for the first time and were sent to their user page – which looks totally different from the rest of the website. Unfortunately, this caused no end of confusion.

I modified an existing plugin to override website’s default settings to send users directly to the calculator page as soon as they log in.

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