thoughtreactor

Technical and Trial Preparation Services

 

Technical Services

Below you will find a description of some of the technical services I offer. If you are unsure if your needs match any of my services, contact me today so I can get a better understanding of your requirements. I do not perform general computer repair, setup new computers, run cables, remove viruses, etc.--I focus on setting up efficient and effective solutions for your firm.

Setup Google Apps to manage office communication

One of the best ways to increase office efficiency, automation, and collaboration is by using a feature-packed communication system. Many communication systems, like Microsoft's Exchange Server and SharePoint Server, are too expensive to implement in a small office environment (or maybe even a larger office depending on your budget) and require specialized support and maintenance. Hosted versions of these applications are available, but they are costly, especially if you want to leverage the power of all of their robust features.

Chances are you have heard of Gmail--Google's communication platform second in popularity to Google Search. As you may know, when you use Gmail, you get an email address ending in @gmail.com. Sure, you can always have an email address like: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , but what about your office personnel? Would they use their personal email account, or would you create really long email addresses like smithandsmithlaw-jenny@gmail,com, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , etc.? But what if you already have a domain for your law firm? What if you already own the domain smithandsmithlaw.com? Wouldn't it be more professional to use an email address ending in @smithandsmithlaw.com?

Maybe you are using an email address provided by your ISP--@cox.net, @windstream.net, @comsouth.net, etc. Regardless of what they might have told you with you signed up for an Internet connection for your law firm, you are not limited nor required to use your ISP's email services. And if you already have a website--great! You are not required to use your website's email system--you can still switch to a better communication system.

You can accomplish all of this with Google Apps for Business. Google Apps for Business is a hosted communication platform that allows you to use your existing domain (smithandsmithlaw.com), or a new domain your purchase, with all of Google's collaboration services: Gmail, Calendar, Contacts, Talk, Drive (formally Docs), Sites, and Apps Marketplace. This allows you to take advantage of Google's trusted services without having to worry about licensing, configuring an email client (like Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express) on your computers, setting up an internal server, maintenance, upgrades, or even support. You even have the ability to add users so you can fully brand your employees' email addresses; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , etc. All of the data in your Google Apps for Business account can be shared with your employees, including access to your inbox, scheduling appointments for you, and collaborating on documents. And none of this requires you to install anything--everything is accessed over the Internet. And if you already have a smart phone like the ever popular iPhone or Android phones, you can sync your Gmail, calendar, and contacts with your phone.

Gmail: Gmail is Google's leading email solution for individuals, businesses, government, and education. With Gmail, you can quickly and easily create and send emails, organize emails with its intuitive label system, perform deep searches for emails and their attachments, create rules to perform automated tasks for sent and received email, and access the rest of Google Apps' components directly through the Gmail interface. If you are using email provided by your ISP (Cox, Windstream, ComSouth, AT&T, AOL, etc.), you can add these accounts directly to your Gmail account and gain access to all of your email accounts though a single interface. With its delegation feature, you can give your assistant access to your inbox and allow her to respond to messages when you are unavailable.

Calendar: Calendar is Google's leading calendaring and event management solution. With Google Calendar, you can quickly and easily schedule events, meetings, and tasks, invite individuals to attend events, share your calendar with your employees, allow your employees to edit your calendar (and each other's calendars), create recurring events, and create and share multiple employee calendars. Calendar even has a built-in free/busy service which allows you to easily schedule events and meetings by automatically identifying invitees' availability through their calendars.

Contacts: Contacts is Google's contact management solution that integrates with Gmail, Calendar, Docs, and Sites. With Contacts, you can manage and search contact information for coworkers, clients, family, and friends from a central location. For each contact, you can store its full name, company, position, contact information (work/personal phone numbers, mobile phone numbers, fax numbers, addresses, etc.), birthday, websites, and notes.

Chat: Chat is Google's instant messaging application that integrates with Gmail. Chat allows you to quickly communicate with your coworkers, clients, friends, and family from a single interface. If you have a webcam and microphone connected to your computer or laptop, you can conduct a voice and video chat with your contacts with ease. All instant messaging chats can be recorded (or set to "off the record) in case you need/want to access past chats.

Drive: Drive is Google's premier online document management and collaboration tool. With Drive, you can create and edit text documents, spreadsheets, and presentations all from your web browser, eliminating the need to have a copy of Microsoft Office or Corel WordPerfect installed on every computer. You can extend Drive by installing the Drive client on your computer, which allows you to create, edit, and collaborate on documents directly on your computer, and sync those changes to Google and your other computers. Regardless of how you access your documents--through your web browser or the Drive client; on your work computer or on your home computer--you will always be able to work on the latest version of your documents. Gone are the days of emailing documents back and forth and managing the various versions.

Sites: Sites is Google's website building application. With Sites, you can create a public website (if you do not already have one) or create an office intranet that is only accessible to your employees. You can use Sites to create office documentation, organize and collaborate on client files, share contact information, or save an employee handbook, or any other use you see fit. You can give your employees read or read/write access so they can update the site on an as-needed basis. You can have more than one site: one for your firm's website, an intranet, and sites for organizing client case files--the possibilities are endless.

Video: Video is Google's private version of YouTube, the Internet's largest video sharing website. With Video, you can upload and share videos internally--videos are not visible to the public. You can use Video to organize client evidence videos, archive videos from older cases, or upload office training videos for use by future employees.

Mobile Phone Sync: By taking advantage of Google's mobile phone sync services, you can sync your email. calendar, and contacts to a supported mobile phone (Blackberry, iPhone, Android). To use these services, your mobile phone plan will need a data plan. Google's mobile phone sync services offer two-way syncing--changes you make directly in Gmail. Calendar, and Contacts get synced to your mobile phone, and any changes you make on your phones email, calendar, or contacts get synced to your Gmail, Calendar, and Contacts. When using these services, you can rest assured you will never miss or lose an important email, meeting, or individual's contact information.

Apps Marketplace: The Google Apps Marketplace is an online repository of websites and services that integrate directly with Google Apps, expanding the number of features available in the default Google Apps suite. With Apps Marketplace, you can add more services to your organization: contact management, law firm management, invoice and billing management, accounting and general ledger management, and a plethora of useful services provided by third-party organizations. These services are separate from Google's services and require additional registration and payment options. If you want to expand the built-in functionality of Google Apps without having to download software on all of your computers, the Apps Marketplace is the solution for you.

Encrypting portable, desktop, and laptop hard drives

Due to the nature of your business, you are tasked with handling, documenting, and storing sensitive client information. If your clients' sensitive information were to get stolen, it could affect the outcome of a case, or potentially open yourself up to a lawsuit. One way to prevent your information from being leaked, stolen, or even misplaced, is to encrypt it. When your data is encrypted, only individuals who know the password can access the data. Encrypting your data is different from protecting your computer's user account with a password. Protecting your user account with a password only prevents unauthorized individuals from gaining access to your settings, email, or otherwise, impersonating you. This data is not typically encrypted. If someone were to steal your computer, he could simply disconnect your hard drive, connect it to another computer, and easily start copying all your information to his computer.

However, when your data is encrypted, an unauthorized user would be unable to copy your sensitive information. In fact, if he were to remove your hard drive and connect it to his computer, the hard drive would show up empty or blank. Only an advanced forensic analysis of the hard drive would be able to indicate if the hard drive were encrypted. In order for him to access the information encrypted on your hard drive, he would have to know your password. And if you are using a strong password, it would be almost impossible for him to break it using traditional password cracking tools.

When it comes to encrypting your devices, you have several options. You can encrypt USB thumb drives, portable hard drives, laptops, netbooks, and desktops. To increase the functionality of your system, you can even use USB devices (similar to a smart card--just not as expensive) which contain your password, so you never have to type your password to access your files. In fact, you don't even need to know your password if you use these devices (if you lose it, however, you will be unable to access your files forever). If you want to protect your files from unauthorized users, encrypting them is the way to go.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your website

When you get a new website, it doesn't make it to Google or Bing's search results automatically. And if your website already shows up in the search engines, it will not get to the first page of the results on its own. Gone are the days of people searching for attorneys in the yellow pages--people are going to the web now. And the web is a very competitive place. You will have to compete with hundreds of websites trying to get to the top spot. But there are tricks to increasing your website's ranking, but they're not always guaranteed. But doing nothing is guaranteed to get you nowhere. If you need assistance increasing your website's ranking, I can make all the necessary changes myself, or I can show you how to do it. The choice is yours.

 

About Jeff Prater

I have over eight years experience working with office technology, audio/video technology, and workplace automation. From 2005-2011, I worked for the Houston County District Attorney's Office as the Director of Information Technology. While serving the citizens of Houston County, I planned, designed, and developed Georgia's first paperless prosecutor's office... (read more)

Contact Me

You can contact me two ways. Email may be the quicker option depending on my schedule.

Phone: 478.542.1403

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