iPad vs. Kindle

I just bought myself an iPad and will be trying it out for functionality for lawyers. The iPad is truly a sexy machine, and I have to hand it to Steve Jobs for this one.  More on that in another post. If you’re interested in an e-book reading device and wondering whether Kindle or iPad is for you, read on.

Let’s start with the physical attributes. There is a quite noticeable difference in weight and feel between these devices. The iPad weighs in at 1.5 lb. and is 9.56″ tall by 7.47″ wide by 1/2″ thick. Kindle 2 is a mere 10.2 oz. and 8″ tall by 5.3″ wide by 0.36″ thick. This is important, because you will be holding the device with one hand or resting it on your lap. A 1.5-lb. device is going to get heavy and fatigue your wrist pretty quickly. Kindle 2, even with the cute pink leather case I purchased for it, is so light that I am not bothered by the weight.

iPad 16GB

The iPad has Apple’s app, called “iBooks,” which allows you to download and read — you guessed it — iBooks, not to be confused with eBooks from Barnes & Noble or Kindle Books from Amazon. When I set up my iPad, I had it install my B&N eReader app, because I bought The E-Myth Revisited from B&N before I purchased the Kindle 2 in January, so now I have a book I paid for and can’t use anywhere but on my iPod Touch, which is too small for me to enjoy reading on. (I should have waited.) Anyway, here goes.

Kindle 2 is a great device for reading e-books. It has the e-ink stuff and no back-lighting, so it appears like a printed page from any book inside or out, overcast or sunny. Of course, this also means you need a book light for it. I’m fine with that. For most of my reading, I don’t need the book light, but it is handy at times.

iPad, on the other hand, has a screen just like a computer screen. As you know, if you’ve tried to use a laptop out in the sun, it’s somewhat of a challenge. With this device, it’s utterly impossible. However, indoors, it’s bright, bold and beautiful. It also has the same multi-touch screen as your iPod Touch or iPhone, so if you like that, you’ll love this. It really is very sweet.

Here is a shot of the iPad next to my Kindle 2. As you can see, the iPad has a nice bright display. I also realize I probably have the white balance screwed up because of the primary focus being on the iPad screen, so Kindle looks a little dark in this one. This mini-studio is also set up in my basement, so it’s just dark down there. As you can see, the iPad supports color. The Kindle 2 does not. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t care. I just want to read the books. Amazon’s slogan is something like “it disappears in your hand,” which it really does. You can also see here that the iPad screen is quite a bit larger than Kindle 2. Again, not a big deal for me.

Here they are, seated side by side, enjoying a sunny afternoon on my glider bench in the front yard. (The only thing missing is an iced latte.) As you can see, Kindle 2 has a beautiful display for reading in the sun, whereas you can barely see the screen content on iPad. If you look closely, though, you can see the same page on the screen from the previous photo, the tree from Winnie-the-Pooh. You can also see part of my reflection in the screen. It is a glossy black screen, just like any laptop screen. I’ve noticed that trying to work remotely on a nice sunny day with my MacBook is not as nice as I thought it would be, because the screen darkens like this. I got Transitions lenses this past year for the first time, and they darken, too. The combination of the two “darkening agents” makes it seem like I’m looking at a screen that’s off.

I’d love to read your comments or field any questions you may have on this topic. I’m sure I haven’t covered everything there is on this topic with these two devices. I may even post an update. I will respond to all questions, and most likely, the discussion will spark a future post. Watch for more.

Posted in Blog, Cool Gadgets | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Business Visa Checkcards

A little more than a year ago, I bought my first Apple computer, the MacBook aluminum unibody with the integrated multi-gesture touch pad! Wow! It just worked! I loved it. Unfortunately, on a Sunday afternoon about a week into my love affair, my darling husband, who is usually so level headed, tossed a hacky sack at my 11-year-old son who was standing near the table where I was sitting with my beloved Mac. The hacky sack ricocheted off his chest at a 90-degree angle, across the table, into a 7-oz cup of milk, only about 2/3 full, which fell over and splashed all over my keyboard. Apparently, that wouldn’t have been a big problem. In the process of my acting fast and picking it up off the table, without closing it first, I let the milk run down into the back vent and into the motherboard! The screen fizzled out and it wouldn’t come back on.

Well, I contacted Apple in Grand Rapids and then my homeowners insurance carrier, Farmers Insurance. Apple said it was likely a $755 repair. I was rather dismayed when Farmers told me they don’t cover “accidental damage,” plus the deductible would have been $750 anyway. Monday morning, I made an appointment with an Apple Genius for that afternoon and drove to Grand Rapids with the hope that they could just fix it there for free. The Genius, after listening intently to my sad story, looked it over and decided it had to be sent in for a circuit board replacement and, upon my request, handed me my hard drive. There I was without my beloved Mac, with only a hard drive in my hand and wonder about how I was going to recover from this expense.

Well, luckily, someone on the Macs in Law Offices list serv, reading of my plight, suggested that, if I purchased it with a Visa card, it might be covered under the standard Visa benefits. So, I contacted my provider. Sure enough, if it was purchased in its entirety with my Visa checkcard, I would receive reimbursement, even for accidental damage. I submitted the claim. A week later I had my Mac back, and shortly thereafter, I received a reimbursement check from Visa, and all was well in the world.

If you do not know it, using your Visa checkcard does have its privileges. In today’s mail, I received my new Visa checkcard from PNC, following the merger of National City Bank and PNC Bank. With it came the new “Guide to Benefits Package” for Visa Business Card. I’ve never actually read one of these before. I read this one! It comes with a couple of really cool perks: Purchase Security and Extended Protection.

Purchase Security

“Within the first ninety (90) days of purchase, Purchase Security will, at the Provider’s discretion, replace, repair, or reimburse you for eligible items of personal property purchased entirely with your eligible Visa Business card up to a maximum of $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per cardholder in the event of theft or damage.” This is how I received reimbursement for my Mac repair.

Extended Protection

“Extended Protection doubles the time period of the original manufacturer’s written U.S. warranty up to one (1) full year on warranties of three (3) years or less up to a maximum of $10,000 per claim.” You don’t need to ever really purchase extended warranties, like Best Buy will bug you about when you’re in the store. Just use your Visa checkcard with that benefit. Your card probably has that benefit if you just check your benefits guide.

Of course, there are terms and conditions and excluded items, such as items purchased for resale, animals and living plants, antiques and collectibles, computer software, etc., on the Purchase Security, for example. However, it really does cover a lot of everyday purchases. What if you just got a new smartphone and then dropped it on the concrete or found it in the washing machine, after it finished, within the first week? If you purchased it with your Visa checkcard or credit card, it would likely be covered.

In addition, these cards also offer, for no additional charge, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver coverage and Travel and Emergency Assistance Services. Just grab your benefits guide and read everything. You’re really covered for a lot. Generally, debit cards backed by Visa and Mastercard carry the same protections and benefits that the credit cards do. Check it out for yourself.

Do you have a story to share on this topic? Let me hear it. Leave a comment below. Thanks for reading.

Posted in Blog, Finance | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Internet Business Cards

Did you know that every lawyer and judge with whom you have dealings is listed in the State Bar Journal online Member Directory? Did you also know that the online Member Directory provides a vCard (the internet business card) for each entry? If you use Outlook or any other program that can read vCard files, then you can easily add these colleagues to your Contact Management System (CMS).

Internet Explorer

You simply click on the vCard link, and you will see a dialog box (at right – Internet Explorer) that asks whether you would like to Open or Save the file. It also includes a checkbox that allows you to “Always ask before opening this type of file.” Once you click on “Open” the file, if you are using Outlook, a New Contact window opens with all available fields populated. Here, you can make any adjustments to the way the information is displayed and categorize the contact, just as you would if  you had clicked on File | New | Contact (Ctrl+Shift+C). If you use Firefox, your dialog box will look like the second picture at right.

Firefox

Sure, you could simply Select the text and then perform a Copy/Paste, but then you would have to Cut/Paste the information piece by piece into the proper fields in the form. You could also type it from scratch from a pleading, correspondence or other hard copy source. However, you may not have all the pertinent information at hand. Depending on the source of the information, it also may not be up to date. We can assume that the information on record with the State Bar of Michigan is current, at least as of the dues renewal date; hopefully, we all keep the State Bar up to date with our information changes.

The State Bar online Member Directory listing also includes live links to available email and websites. So, you could easily send the person a quick email by clicking on the link, which opens your resident email client application and populates the “To” field with that address. You can also take a quick peek at any website that is listed to find out various details about the lawyer and firm. However, if you like or need to track any of the communications you exchange with others, you should add them to your CMS. This allows for future reference to past communications.

Did you find this information helpful? Do you have a tip you’d like to share? Do you have something you’d like to know more about? If so, or if not, please leave a comment, suggestion or question below, so we can keep this conversation going. Also, please share this information with others, using the “ShareThis” link that follows. Thanks for reading!

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