Attending the ® ABA TechShow 2008 was a great experience. Maybe it was because my colleague and I traveled by train to Chicago, or maybe it was because our double room at the Chicago Hilton had two closets and bathrooms. Most likely, it was because of the excellent programs and extensive Expo Hall. We were lucky the train and hotel kept us well rested; the ABA TechShow is intense! The American Bar Association’s Law Practice Management Section put together 50 sessions covering 16 topical tracks. (Download the Program Guide.) With seven simultaneous sessions and nearly 120 exhibitors, it was hard to take it all in. Fortunately each registration packet came with a CD of handouts and supplementary materials. A month after the conference, attendees received a link to the Power Points. I will be delving into the sessions I missed for the rest of the year.

As an academic law librarian without a J.D., I had three objectives in coming to the TechShow. First was to explore law practice technology with the idea of creating a presentation or workshop for our graduating students. The exhibitors at the Expo were generous with their time and sample software. I came away with an overview of technologies that are being used in law practice and what future webinars and on-site training opportunities are available for our students. It will probably take me several months to peruse all the opportunities.

Second, I looked at how and why lawyers are using technology. I concentrated on sessions from the Paperless Office, the Solo/Small Firm I, and the Mobile Technology tracks and learned that technology can not only make law offices more efficient and effective, it can also help attorneys fulfill their Code of Ethics obligations. Since our university is actively pursuing digitizing faculty publications, I wanted to see how attorneys approach digitizing documents. Paul Unger’s presentations in the Paperless Office track were especially clear and helpful in explaining the process and the technologies used.

My third objective was to attend the 60 Tips in 60 Minutes and the 60 Sites in 60 Minutes sessions to prepare for a short presentation on technology I was giving for the Southwestern Association of Law Libraries annual meeting. Preparing for my presentation is how I ran across the ABA TechShow website in the first place. Among the free resources I found on the site were annotated listings of all 60 Sites in 60 Minutes from 2004 through 2007. The 2007 CD and selected audio recordings of sessions are also available for purchase. Between the TechShow and the website I came away with more than enough resources to evaluate

Keynote speaker Marc Rotenberg, Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, is an example of just how tech savvy all the presenters were. Rotenberg incorporated the Governor Spitzer prostitution scandal endlessly playing on the elevator TV screens into his afternoon address. Spitzer served as an up-to-the-minute illustration of how little privacy is possible online as Rotenberg showed us documents, images of the hotel room, the call girl Ashley Alexandra Dupre’s MySpace page, and a selection of the many news sites and blogs covering the scandal.

The TechShow made me realize that attorneys are starting to take on activities from the information transfer cycle: creating, storing, organizing, accessing, and destroying information. This gives librarians an opportunity to use our expertise to expand our role in law firm settings beyond legal research. I found the TechShow to be well worth my time. I learned a lot from those tech savvy attorneys. The sessions were informative and stimulating. I even had the chance to eat with a speaker and a small group at a Taste of ABA TechShow dinner, but I was too new to feel comfortable participating. Maybe next year I’ll try that. The ABA TechShow is free for law students and has a reduced registration rate for academic law librarians. Just email the Law Practice Management Section for details. Attorneys can receive CLE credit. The 2009 ABA TechShow will be held April 2-4, 2009 at the Chicago Hilton. Maybe I’ll see you there.

I keep tripping over this thing called GTD®. Gobbling Turkey Day? Getting There Directions? Going To Disney World? While I would love any one of those things, it actually stands for Getting It Done® and it is one of those ubiquitous management phrases floating around. According to The David Allan Company’s website, “GTD® is the popular shorthand for “Getting Things Done®”, the groundbreaking work-life management system and book by David Allen that transforms personal overwhelm and overload into an integrated system of stress-free productivity.” The David Allen Company, The Definition of David Allen’s Getting Things Done®, (2008), http://www.davidco.com/what_is_gtd.php. I’m not hawking the book or the system, but I am a fan of using technology to help me accomplish the things I need to in as efficient a way as possible. Unfortunately, I’ve had all too much contact with technology that becomes a black sink hole of my time! Thus, I’ve compiled a list of some of the more useful technology tips that help me, and can maybe help you, save time.

1. Use an RSS Reader and subscribe to feeds for current awareness research.

If you haven’t already discovered RSS and subscribed to feeds, this is one area that can save you time. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary. It is an XML (Extensible Markup Language) format that enables efficient distribution of Web content. Rather than visiting each individual Website or blog that you get news from, or subscribing to and reading dozens of e-mail newsletters, you can use a software program to collect headlines. The RSS feed contains the information while the aggregator or reader collects and stores the information, as well as decodes it so you can read it. Once you are ready to read your news, you’ll need to find RSS feeds. Usually if a site offers a feed, there will be an icon letting you know: or

For basic, easy to get started RSS Readers:

There are many other reader/aggregators out there. To find the right news aggregator for you, check out these reviews:

2. Organize your feeds.

There is a temptation to read every feed you subscribe to. This can lead to a mental breakdown. Feeds can be overwhelming, especially if you subscribe to a feed where posts are made almost every hour. Organizing your feeds enables you to give yourself permission to prioritize where your time will be spent. Most feed readers offer ways to organize your feeds. I happen to organize my feeds into purpose folders that are in order of priority: Faculty Liaison Feeds, Library Feeds, Technology Feeds, General News Feeds, and Fun Feeds. Some Readers allow you to tag individual messages as well as organize them into folders. No matter how you organize your feeds, don’t be afraid to hit the Mark All As Read button!

3. Limit your web browsing or time your tasks.

Sometimes you just need a little help to keep yourself on track. Perhaps you need to work on a project but can only devote a certain amount of time to it. Additionally, as useful as the Internet is, it is also huge time sink. It is easy to get distracted by an interesting article or site that is tangential to what you were originally searching. One way to keep yourself on track is to limit the amount of time you can spend browsing on the Internet. For those of us who are easily distractible or without the willpower to do this voluntarily, there are technology tools to help!

  • Code Jacked, Take Control of Your Browsing Time with Browser Timer, http://www.codejacked.com/take-control-of-your-browsing-time-with-browser-timer/ (last visited 5/15/08). Browser Timer will actually shut down your browser when the amount of time that you specified passes.
  • Online Stopwatch, http://www.online-stopwatch.com/ (last visited 5/15/08). The online stopwatch will keep track of how much time you are spending at a particular task. While it won’t shut down your browser, it will let you see how much time you’ve spent browsing on the Internet.
  • Countdown Timer, http://theinsomniacsociety.com/timer.html (last visited 5/15/08). The countdown timer is a browser based timer that not only allows you to set a certain amount of time to accomplish a task but also allows you to set up an alert when that time expires.
  • LeechBlock, https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4476 (last visited 5/15/08). LeechBlock is a FireFox extension that allows you to block up to six websites at certain times of the day. Thus, you can avoid the temptation to look at your favorite technology website in the morning by blocking the site but set it to unblock in the afternoon when you have time available.

4. Use FireFox Extensions.

One of the perks of using FireFox as your browser is all of the useful extensions available. Here are just a few:

  • Zotero, http://www.zotero.org/ (last visited 5/15/08). Zotero is an extension for a researcher that allows you to capture and store all types of files, including web pages. You can annotate and manage your research, and export your citations. This is invaluable for a research project.
  • TinyURL Add On, http://tinyurl.com/2qfukv (last visited 5/15/08). TinyURL is a program that allows you to turn a long URL into a short one. This is especially useful when posting URLs into documents or emails. The FireFox extension allows you to create a TinyUrl right from FireFox rather than going to the TinyURL page (http://tinyurl.com ), cutting and pasting, and then cutting and pasting again.
  • Session Manager, https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2324 (last visited 5/15/08). Session manager saves and restores your tabs and windows. This is handy if you accidentally close all tabs when you meant to only close one.
  • Download Sort, https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/25 (last visited 5/15/08). This extension allows you to automatically send downloads that you are saving to specific places. You can set it up so that all of your pdfs automatically download in one place, your jpgs in another, and your Word documents in yet another.

5. Use Thunderbird to check multiple email accounts.

Thunderbird, http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/thunderbird/ (last visited 5/15/08) is a cross-platform email client that allows you to manage multiple email accounts. It also has a built-in RSS Reader. Rather than check each email account individually or set up forwarding rules on each account, set up Thunderbird so that you download email messages from each account using one software application. Best of all, Thunderbird comes in a portable addition so you can take it with you on a USB drive, CD-ROM, or MP3 player. See http://portableapps.com/ (last visited 5/15/08).

6. Use Remember The Milk or other task based software to help you manage your list of things to get done.

  • Remember The Milk, http://www.rememberthemilk.com/ (last visited 5/15/08) is a web-based program designed to help you manage your tasks. In addition to letting you list and organize tasks, it also provides integration with email, instant messaging, text messaging, Blackberry, Twitter, iPhone, Google Calendar, and many other software applications and devices. Remember The Milk has great search features too.
  • Another good option for managing tasks is TiddlyWikki, which is available at http://www.tiddlywiki.com/ (last visited 5/15/08). See http://www.checkettsweb.com/tw/gtd_tiddlywiki.htm for a Getting It Done version of TiddlyWikki. TiddlyWikki is portable too!
  • ToDoList at http://todoist.com/ (last visited 5/15/08) is another web-based task manager with many of the same features as Remember The Milk.

7. Use mind mapping software to plot projects and actions.

Mind maps allow you to brainstorm and connect ideas to the actions that need to be taken to implement them. I find these most useful at the beginning of a project. You don’t need technology to mind map – you can create mind maps with paper and colored markers but technology can make them easier to share and store.

  • MindMeister, available at http://www.mindmeister.com/ (last visited 5/15/08) is an online mind mapping tool with a free basic version. You can collaborate and share mind maps. The free version limits you to a small number of maps.
  • Bubble.us, available at http://bubbl.us/ (last visited 5/15/08) is another online mind mapping tool. It is flash-based and has fewer export options than MindMeister.
  • Freemind, available at http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page (last visited 5/15/08) is a java-based mind mapping tool. It does not offer the collaboration features of the others but is a good stand alone tool.
  • CMap, available at http://cmap.ihmc.us/ (last visited 5/15/08) is another mind mapping tool free to individual non-commercial users or educational users.

These are just a few technology tips and tools for those of us trying to get things done with or without a system.

The 2008 recipient of the CS-SIS Kenneth J. Hirsh Award is Mark Folmsbee, Associate Dean of Computer Services and Associate Director of the Law Library at the Washburn University School of Law. Mark has been a guiding force in law school and law library technology for nearly 20 years and has been a leader in the CS-SIS and AALL.

An early innovator, Mark established the AALLnet site online in the 1990’s. He hosted the site at Washburn University School of Law using Telnet and a Lynx Web client. He also hosted the first AALL email lists, including the listserv for the Automation and Scientific Development SIS – the predecessor to the Computing Services SIS.

Mark has been active at the national level in AALL by serving as a member of the AALL Executive Board from 1997-2000. He was chair of the CS-SIS from 1995-96. Additionally, Mark has been a frequent presenter at the AALL annual meetings and CS-SIS sponsored events. He has served on numerous AALL committees and committees and workgroups in the CS-SIS.

On a personal level, Mark has been an informal mentor and an advisor on technology matters to innumerable CS-SIS members and colleagues in the law librarian profession.The Hirsh Disinguished Service Award will be presented during the AALL Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon in July 2008. The membership of the CS-SIS Awards Committee for 2007-2008 is Prano Amjadi, Therese Clarke Arado, and Sheri Lewis.

Congrats to our two grant winners this year, Stacey L. Rowland from the University of Mississippi and Raizel Liebler from John Marshall Law School. The CS-SIS grant covers their conference registration fees to attend the annual AALL conference.

The Web 2.0 Challenge — a free, comprehensive, and interactive online course — will use hands-on exercises to introduce law librarians to many kinds of social technologies in just five weeks.  The course is intended for those who have little experience with these technologies but are interested in learning more.

Although enrollment in the course is now full, anyone may follow along with the course as a guest.  Most of the course content will be available to you.  To access the course, go to http://www.cssis.org/Web20Challenge/login/ and select “Login as guest.”

The course is scheduled for the five weeks after the AALL Annual Meeting (July 21-Aug. 24, 2008).  You may follow along with this schedule, or at your own pace if you prefer.

If you're planning to attend the AALL Annual Meeting, we invite you to attend session H1, Cool Tools: Energizing Law Librarianship with Web 2.0 on Tuesday from 9:00 to 10:30. Bonnie Shucha will be leading one of the showcases in which she will discuss the Web 2.0 Challenge and preview the course content.

If you have any questions about the Web 2.0 Challenge, please contact course organizers, Bonnie Shucha  <bjshucha@wisc.edu>, Debbie Ginsberg <dginsberg@kentlaw.edu>, or Meg Kribble <kribblem@nsu.law.nova.edu>

Come have fun at our officially-sponsored karaoke event on Saturday, July 12. Full information is here.

Starting June 13th, register for the CS-SIS Web 2.0 Challenge!

The Web 2.0 Challenge will provide a free, comprehensive, and social online learning opportunity designed for law librarians by directing them in hands-on use of these technologies. The course is intended for law librarians who have little experience with these technologies but are interested in learning more.

The online course will take place between July 21 and August 18. The five week course will cover these areas:

  • Week 1: Blogs & RSS
  • Week 2: Wikis
  • Week 3: Social Networking Software and Second Life
  • Week 4: Flickr & Social Bookmarking Software
  • Week 5: Selling Social Software @ Your Library

For more information, including how to sign up, go here.

Check out the schedule of events planned by CSSIS for Portland. We’ll see you there!

Update: Karaoke has been added.

The Computing Services SIS Executive Board would like to congratulate the winners of this year’s CS-SIS elections.

Bonnie Shucha has been elected Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect and Meg Kribble has been elected Member-at-Large.

The CS-SIS Awards Committee (Prano Amjadi, Therese Clarke Arado, Sheri Lewis) is pleased to announce this year’s recipient of the Computing Services Special Interest Section’s Kenneth J. Hirsh Distinguished Service Award:

Mr. Mark Folmsbee, Associate Dean of Computer Services and Associate Director of the Law Library, Washburn University School of Law Library

The award will be presented at the 2008 AALL Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon.