Affinity Consulting Blog


You asked for it, Affinity delivers…MAC Mondays coming soon!

MAC users don’t get much love from the rest of us. Universities and colleges seem to embrace the “other” platform, but with only less than 8% of the world computer market and corporations and law firms usually preferring PCs, MAC users of the world don’t receive the kind of training attention they want and need. Affinity is changing that starting in February.

Each Monday in the month of February, Affinity Consultant and MAC expert user Jeff Schoenberger will host a webinar series we’re calling “MAC Mondays with Jeff.” Each week Jeff will share 30 minutes of tips and tricks in the MAC versions of Microsoft Office products – Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Jeff’s last session of the series will be for the most experienced MAC users when he shares his favorite tips and tricks for those who consider themselves hard core users.

This month’s newsletter theme is things that we’re thankful for. Having just returned from Affinity’s CaseAware© Bootcamp, I’ve got a list of a list of five tools that I’m thankful I had at hand:

As part of Apple’s September 9th media event, the company announced the release dates for iOS 9 and OS X 10.11 El Capitan. iOS was released on September 16th, and is a free upgrade for all supported iPhones and iPads. On September 30th, Apple released OS X 10.11, El Capitan. It too is a free on all supported Macs. Just head to the Mac App Store to download it. Now, lets talks about some of the new features you’ll find in El Capitan that make it worth installing.

In the Windows world, many lawyers try to use Outlook alone as a practice management solution. They soon discover that it is insufficient for that purpose. Only true practice management software that lets you organize information by matter rather than contact (Outlook's most significant limitation) will truly help you reach maximum efficiency.

On the Mac side, practice management options are mostly web-based - Clio, ActionStep, and Rocket Matter, being some of the best-known players. There are also a couple of desktop-based Mac programs that can be adapted to a law firm - Daylite and REDI Office. The desktop programs, especially Daylite, have the distinct advantage of being able to integrate with programs you are already using. But, practice management aside, one of the facts I like to mention is that you can almost always get more out of what you already own. In this month’s column, let’s talk email on the Mac.

As you may know, the favorite desktop scanner series at Affinity is the ScanSnap series from Fujitsu. This series of scanners is generally excellent. I have a predecessor of the ScanSnap iX500 on my desk at the office and at home. I recently setup a family member with the ScanSnap S1300i, which she thoroughly enjoys. Overall, the ScanSnap line of products is excellent and works well with a Mac. Highly recommended!

Software

Irrespective of which ScanSnap model you purchase, you receive a set of software applications that run on either a PC or Mac; which is great for a mixed environment and was not the case in the past, where you had to choose between a PC or Mac hardware/software bundle. The bundled software includes the ScanSnap Organizer, which acts as “filing cabinet” software for all of your scans, a business card-specific scanning program called CardMinder, a receipt scanning program called ScanSnap Receipt, and ABBYY FineReader, an optical character recognition program, that turns scanned PDF documents into editable Word documents.

The bundled software alone is quite nice. But, since the scanner is just producing PDF or JPG files, you can use whatever software you prefer to manage the files the scanner creates. Let me recommend two Mac-specific ones.

The first one is Yep from Ironic Software. It is available through the Mac App Store for $27. Like the ScanSnap Organizer, Yep acts as a filing cabinet for your PDFs; but only as a viewer. On the backend, Yep is just reading the folder structure you tell it to look at. So, for example, I could have a perfectly human readable folder structure with a top-level folder called “Bills”, and within that folder, separate folders for “AT&T”, “Time Warner”, “electric”, and “water”. While this folder structure makes sense in itself, it is difficult to quickly search or to locate words within the text of a PDF. Yep takes care of that by reading in the PDFs from your existing folder structure, letting you add tags and search text within the PDFs for quick queries.

A second “filing cabinet” Mac app for PDFs is Devon Technologies’ DEVONthink Pro Office, which retails for $150. The big price jump from Yep gets you a program that stores and indexes not only PDFs, but pretty much any type of document, image, or web link that you throw into it. DEVONthink Pro Office is really very much like a filing cabinet in that it gathers all information and notes related to a particular item - say a case or research project - in one place for easy reference. Furthermore, unlike Yep, DEVONthink creates its own database of documents that you import, which is great from a portability standpoint of copying one database file and opening it on another system, but makes it more difficult to maintain a program-agnostic folder structure. In many ways, it is like a desktop-based, non-syncing version of Evernote, which, by the way, also supports ScanSnap Scanners.

Whichever way you go - the free bundle, Yep, DEVONthink, or Evernote - the ScanSnap series of desktop scanners is a great way to make your office and home paperless, and those former piles of paper quickly accessible from your Mac’s keyboard.

Psychological studies show that vacation has tremendous health benefits. Broadly speaking, Americans are a vacation deprived people. Having entered the summer months, now is an excellent time to makeup your vacation deficit. Being firmly into vacation season, I think it’s a good opportunity to review a couple of travel tips for using your Apple products at your vacation destination.

One class of questions that I hear frequently from Mac users in firms is how they can be better, more capable citizens on their firm’s Windows networks and resources. This question is the topic of an upcoming webinar I am doing on June 16th at 1:00pm EDT; click here to register. I thought I’d give you four quick teasers in this month’s MacCorner as a prelude to the webinar:

Now that May, and warm weather for those of us in northern states, is upon us, our thoughts naturally turn towards rebirth. In addition to household spring cleaning - i.e. packing up the winter clothes, cleaning off the patio furniture, planting your flowerbeds and gardens - your technology would similarly benefit from a spring cleaning. Here are some suggestions:

In the past, we Mac users were accustomed to getting short shrift from Microsoft. While iOS is changing that — if you haven’t looked at the breadth of MS apps for iOS, it’s really impressive - Office for Mac remains the runt of the litter. The last time we got a new release was 2010, when Office 2011 shipped. Since that time, Windows received Office 2010 and Office 2013. We got Office for iPad and then universal versions that included Office for iPhone. Microsoft is finally coming around and has released a preview version of Office 2016 for Mac.

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