Siri, vCards and Private Me

Siri: Your Personal Assistant, But Maybe a Bit of a Blabber Mouth.

By now you probably know that you can tell Siri to “send a message to my wife” or “give me directions home” and she will do so. If not, she probably doesn’t yet know your wife or home address. So, tell Siri “My wife is [First Name] [Last Name].” The same, or similar, can be done for your home address.

Trouble begins when you go to share your business contact information by sending someone your vCard. Your contact card now also carries a whole bunch of info (home address, wife’s name, father’s name etc.) that you may not want to share with a professional colleague or client.

The solution lies in the Contacts app. Open up Contacts, Open Preferences and check the box that says “Enable private me card.” Now, open your personal card, click edit, and you can select the information you want to share or uncheck boxes next to information you wish to keep private.




Fantastical for iPhone

Calendar Alternative for iPhone

Fantastical has been released for iPhone. Long available for the Mac, Fantastical for the iPhone is exactly, precisely, what a calendar should look like and how a calendar should function on your iPhone. Limited time initial release pricing is only $1.99 and so so worth it.

Date Calculator Roundup + Wolfram Lawyer’s Assistant Review

Ahhhh. The interesting tedious task of calculating dates. Delegate to staff and hope they get it right and you don’t blow a statute/deadline? Or, get out a big desk pad calendar and hold your thumb on the starting date counting backwards, then forwards, and forgetting where you started when the phone rings? Here’s a round up of calculators to help make it a bit easier on you or your staff.

On the iPad/iPhone

Court Days Pro ($2.99) is a ‘legal specific’ date calculator that allows you to ‘build’ a set of dates. Dates can be added/subtracted as court days or calendar days and long dependent chains can be built from a single trigger event. If the calculated date falls on a weekend or recognized holiday, the calculation can bump the date forward or backward to the next closest court date. Court Days Pro is handy for creating dates which are usually static and triggered by a single event, such as discovery schedules, time to answer, days until the statute of limitations runs etc. Once calculated, the dates can be exported directly to the built in Calendar app or emailed. You could also check out Court Days (.99¢) made by the same folks, iPhone/iTouch only and fewer features. Both Court Days and Court Days Pro allow adding custom state recognized legal holidays. The reviews for this app on iTunes are somewhat negative. It appears from the negative reviews that people are having difficulty with navigation and input because none of the complaints make much sense if you spend a little time understanding how the app works. Recommend ignoring the iTunes reviews and playing around with the app for a little bit before you give up.

Date Ranger (Free). Date Ranger is really simple on the surface. Two boxes, two dates and you’re off and running. Here’s the neat trick: once you have a date calculated, you can ‘swipe’ that date onto the other box. This makes calculating dependent sequential dates a breeze.

HiCalc HD (Free) offers a variety of handy calculators, including a basic date calculator. It presents the dates in dd/mm/yyyy format which can be a bit confusing. HiCalc also displays the day of the week which will keep you, at least, from calendaring something to occur on the weekend but may result in you calendaring on a legal holiday.

Lastly, DateInterval (free) provides a bare bones, knuckle dragging friendly count days forward from a date or the difference between two dates.

On the Mac

Several free options exist for calculating dates on the Mac. First up is Date Calculator, a somewhat dated (2005?!?!) widget available here. The widget allows addition, subtraction and difference calculations for dates. FreeLawTools offers an online calculator that uses either court or calendar dates for the calculation, and will also exclude legal holidays/weekends from the result by shifting the day forward or backward as you desire. Finally, WolframAlpha. If you don’t already know, WolframAlpha “is an online service that answers factual queries directly by computing the answer from structured data.” So, of course, it can calculate dates.

Wolfram Lawyer’s Assistant (Reference App)

Speaking of WolframAlpha, they have just released for the iPad Wolfram Lawyer’s Professional Assistant ($4.99). The app offers up a unique set of reference tools for lawyers including, among other things, a Legal Dictionary, a quick reference for Statutes of Limitations for all 50 states, blood alcohol calculator, IP Address Lookup, historical weather, damages/estate planning/real estate calculators and statistical information.

The date calculator can calculate business (i.e. court) or calendar days between two dates or forward from a specified date. But, if you want to count backwards… sorry, despite the fact that this App is provided by the world’s most famous online calculation machine, WolframAlpha, it can’t count backwards. Counting to a huge number of decimal places Pi? Check. Counting backwards on your iPad. Meh, not so much.

Wolfram Lawyer’s Professional Assistant also fails in the Statute of Limitations area. For the Utah Statutes of Limitation periods, it lists a 1 year SOL for “medical malpractice actions based on insertion of a foreign object.” Not. Quite. Right. The Lawyer’s Assistant is also a little rough around the edges in terms of user interface. Finally, the thing throws advertising for other Wolfram apps at you in the bottom corner of the home screen. Considering it is a paid app, advertising (even for your own wares) is a major no-no. Final thoughts: wait for the next revisions or corrections to the current version before purchase unless you really need one of the math calculators.

Looking back at this collection it becomes obvious that the paradigm is shifting toward the iPad/iOS for ‘new’ or ‘innovative’ development. The best date calculator to be found is Court Days Pro, on the iPad. A date calculator widget for Mac OSX hasn’t been updated in six years and Wolfram just cranked out an iPad specific app, but provides nothing on desktop for legal reference. Interesting.


Fresh from the mind of David Sparks (MacSparky), Siri can also calculate dates (and probably add them to your Calendar too).

Try this.

Siri …

“What is 30 days plus December 7”

“How many days are between November 1, 2011 and December 7, 2011”

Thanks David… just when I had finally resolved to wait for the iPhone 5.

Dragon Dictation for the iPhone

“Finally, dictation software you might actually find useful. Nuance the makers of dragon dictation, released an iPhone application today. Unlike Mac speech,iTunesthere’s no training required and the dictation software work works remarkably well. In fact, this entire blog entry was dictated using DragonDictate for the iPhone . Dragons the iPhone is free for the taking from the app store.”

The above was dictated using Dragon and is presented unaltered from the original. You’ll notice the error with the period at the second to last sentence and the last sentence itself should read “Dragon for the the iPhone is …”

The error from the period arises because the app can only handle a limited amount of dictation before it stops dictating, then you must start dictating again. Still, a pretty useful little app to have around. It lets you cut n past from app into SMS, email etc which can make it very handy for responding to emails and SMS without needing to type. For longer dictation projects, probably not all that useful.

3 Reasons to Join MILO

MILO is the Google Groups forum “Macs In Law Offices.” Recently, there have been three reallyMILO Logo great posts by users on that forum.

  1. You can tether an iPhone to your Mac for internet access over the 3G network without hacking or jailbreaking. MILO user Christian Frank pointed everyone to But, there are better instructions at mydigitallife.
  2. MILO user Grace Suarez revealed a superb Firefox plug in called CiteGenie. If you’ve ever struggled with getting a properly quoted and cited copy/paste from Westlaw or Lexis into your document, this plugin eliminates hassle, allowing you to focus on the legal and analytical aspect of your work. CiteGenie truly represents the goal of getting computers to do the grunt work so you can focus on higher reasoning skills.
  3. You cannot tether an iPhone with the new 3.1 software update, as hinted at by MILO user Rob Ruffner and confirmed by comments in the mydigitallife how-to.

MILO is a great place to learn and ask questions, a superb resource for any Mac using lawyer.

iPhone File Transfer and Viewing

There are at least two programs out there handling that situation where you just gotta get and view files on your iPhone. 

Briefcase (Lite = free & Pro = $4.99) promises to connect, download, view and upload files. Reviews on the AppStore are overwhelmingly positive with most users upgrading to the Pro version shortly after testing out Lite. Briefcase works without installing anything on the Mac side, but is only Mac/Linux compatible. And, it works very very well. Connecting to my MacBook Pro over the wireless took practically no effort (just be sure that you allow remote login SSH connections in System Preferences). Briefcase supports many file types, including iWork, MS Word, .MP3 and PDF. Testing reveals that loading PDF works extremely well and fast, with the iPhone allowing rotation of the screen for landscape viewing.


Offers much of the same as Briefcase. No word from developer regarding .MP3 or video files. In order to transfer files, software must be installed on the host computer. But, on the other hand, FileMagnet offers Windows XP and Vista support. Further, FileMagnet incorporates an intriguing ’tilt to scroll’ documents by using the iPhone’s accelerometer. Because Briefcase fits the bill, and because FileMagnet requires installation of host software, I chose not to test out FileMagnet. FileMagnet has no ‘free’ version and runs a flat $4.99 in the AppStore.

One last note: Either FileMagnet or Briefcase completely eliminate the hack work-around for emailing PDF’s as tipped for loading Flashcards onto your iPhone in this post.

Better than a dream journal, simpler than a string on your finger.

You just rolled into bed, you’re about to doze off, you remember you need to (insert: call client in morning; file answer to pleading; pick-up dry cleaning) and now you must either get out of bed and write a note or toss and turn while the carnival starts rolling (warning NSFW, turn the speakers down).

Note2Self (crappy Parker Lewis reference aside) is a very simple app that does one thing and does it well. You push the button, put the iPhone to your head, tell yourself whatever and drop the phone as you doze off into a peaceful rest.  Note2Self emails you the voice memo (or emails your assistant or who ever you designate). Next morning, hey, checking email, oh yeah, I gotta go get me some frozen yogurt with gummy bears (crappy Parker Lewis reference).

There are a few other apps for the iPhone that do the same thing, but Note2Self won my heart with its cheap price, .99¢, and its ultra-simple approach.

Other similar apps include: EccoNote (free); EccoNote Pro (.99¢ does email notes, but requires more involvement); Audio Recorder ($2.99, can email AND can add more to a prior recording). Whatever one works for you, its still better than keeping a dream journal and simpler than tying a string around your finger.

Cut and Paste Coming to iPhone?

Playing around with a 3G iPhone last night. While surfing through the Apple store refurb site, looking at Airport Express details, my left thumb placement made the screen darken. At first, I thought some part of my hand was covering up the ambient light sensor, used to make screen darker or lighter depending on conditions. However, while trying to move my hand around to make it stay dark, this little sweet nubpopped up… an “Action” item. Sort of like Command-Click or Right-Click on a regular Mac. I can only assume this is a future Command-Click interface that was somehow inadvertently triggered, or in non-lawyer speak, a bug. Unable to reproduce on a different web page (, so don’t know quite what that means. But a Command-Click on the iPhone would be much welcomed for cut-n-paste and other applications!

On a sad note, this could not be duplicated on a 2G iPhone, so might be a limitation there. More photos below.

Stevenote – The Two Best Announcements

For those of you who don’t know yet, Steve Jobs gave the keynote at WWDC today. The two best announcements are (1) a new 3G iPhone, built in GPS and excellent price ($299 16gig); and, (2) push services for calendar, email, pretty much everything (a.k.a. lookout Exchange and RIM). The upgrades for push services require a $99 per year Mobile Me subscription which includes 20 Gigabyte (?!?!) of storage. Mobile Me replaces .Mac and, hopefully, results in services that are not painfully slow (iDisk is pretty useless IMHO). In the meantime, .Mac is down probably due to the changeover or, just because it’s still .Mac and still sucks.

While waiting for .Mac Back to My Mac to come back up, you can watch the new 3G iPhone commercial here.

Killer iPhone Tip

Some time ago MacLitigator showed you how to use your iPhone for flash cards. Now, a genius in the blogosphere shows us how to use your iPhone to replace all those ‘club cards.’ In short, scan your membership card (local bar, federal bar, Costco, gym membership etc.) and save them as photos in iPhoto. Create a folder that syncs with your iPhone (call the folder ‘wallet’ or ‘wallet cards’) and automagically you get all your cards in one convenient location. And, best of all, the bar codes can be read and scanned. Of course, this technique can also be used as an alternative to MacLitigator’s technique of emailing yourself a set of evidence flash cards.

Wallet Cards on my iPhone via Lifehacker