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Making The Move: Taking My Law Office to Abacus Private Cloud

ABA's tech feed5 hours 51 min ago

Categories:

Tech

I am a solo attorney, with a criminal and traffic ticket defense practice at Anchorage, Alaska. For the past 16 years I have had my own law office. For 25 years I have closely followed the use of computers in law offices.

The Problem

About six years ago, during a time when I had no paralegal, I put my entire law office on a business grade laptop so I could be mobile and use my time more efficiently by working between court hearings and appointments, rather than driving to a desktop computer at my home office. However, that solution was not workable.

I was so active with multiple court hearings and appointments, week after week, that my laptop simply could not take the constant mobility and use. The risk of laptop or hard drive failure became too great. I needed to find a computing platform that would let me retain the mobility and efficiency I enjoyed with my laptop, yet safeguarded my digital data. In short, I a computing platform where my data and applications were stable, safe, and secure; yet were also accessible via an Internet connection.

First, I put my entire law office on a single desktop computer in a small building on some recreational property I owned. However, after months of trial and error, this proved unworkable due to unstable electrical power and a slow, unreliable DSL Internet connection.

Next, I tried hosting my law office desktop computers at a local office center, which had an expensive, high speed business-grade Internet connection. My legal assistant and I would then access those computers via standard, off-the-shelf, remote access software. This solution was marginal at best — no tech support for local connectivity or hardware issues; plus there was significant expense in all the equipment and time involved in attempting to keep three desktop computers operational 24×7. I was not satisfied with this temporary solution. I desperately needed a turnkey, real-life, workable solution to my legal computing needs.

Rejected Alternatives

I wanted a secure, fully integrated, turnkey private cloud solution, run by a reputable vendor, who was technically competent, and which I could fully trust. Therefore, I rejected piecemeal or patchwork alternatives, which might give me consumer-grade, partial solutions to certain aspects of my problem, such as software as a service (SaaS) and common cloud data storage products (Google Drive and Dropbox).

I also rejected hosting my desktop computers in a rack at a commercial data center in the Midwest as it is too expensive. Likewise, even though I already owned most all of the equipment I needed to build my own private data center, I rejected that idea as too expensive and time-consuming, and because it was beyond my technical expertise to achieve the level of data security and reliability that I needed.

The Solution

In mid-2011 I moved my entire law office to Abacus Sky, a first generation private cloud platform for attorneys.  Using this product demonstrated that private cloud computing is stable, reliable, and makes economic sense in a dynamic, real life, working legal environment.

Then five months ago, I was given a chance to move to Abacus Private Cloud, a a cutting edge private cloud platform, solely for lawyers and law firms from Abacus Data Systems. It runs in state of the art data centers within the United States and is specifically designed to run legal applications.

I migrated my practice to Abacus Private Cloud. Doing so involved transferring all of all my data onto an encrypted USB drive, which was then shipped overnight to Abacus Private Cloud, who reloaded that data onto my virtual server. The tech people at Abacus Private Cloud built my virtual server and behind the scenes they did all the detailed, technical work to make the migration as easy and painless as possible.

Why Abacus Private Cloud Works for Me

I had very high standards for my cloud computing vendor:  I insisted their product  consistently have superior performance, and excellent reliability. I can honestly say that Abacus Private Cloud has fully exceeded all my expectations. It is very responsive, stable, reliable, and economical (when compared to traditional law office computing models).

The benefits to my law practice from Abacus Private Cloud are:

  • My data is secure and safe in the Abacus Private Cloud data center. No more local data backups, because all data is on the private cloud server, and is backed up there.
  • My local equipment costs are drastically lower than before I switched to a private cloud. I eliminated the three desktop computers that I was previously accessing remotely.
  • I don’t need costly application software on each local access device. All law office applications can be run on the private cloud server, not on local hardware. The local devices are there simply to display and interact with the private cloud server.
  • My private cloud server can run any software, whether related to Abacus or not. Therefore, I can run the application software that my meets the specific needs of my law practice, regardless of the vendor.
  • My local IT and tech support costs are $0.
  • My staff and I have become totally mobile, without sacrificing efficiency. This means that each employee, as needed, can work on their own schedule, and from any location with cell phone coverage, electricity, and an Internet connection. This creates a flexible, modern, and dynamic work environment, resulting in a better quality of life, happier attorneys and staff, and a better work-life balance for all involved.
  • All law office applications and data are accessible 24×7 for each user via any device: desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone.
  • Private cloud technical requests (e.g., email configuration, remote access from a new device, etc.) are promptly resolved by the Abacus Private Cloud support staff.
  • System reliability (uptime) is outstanding. In five months of constant operation I think my virtual server was rebooted twice, resulting in a 5-10 minute outage each time, during off hours. Users are given advance notice of periodic night/weekend system downtime for maintenance upgrades. Also, tech support staff are on-call to respond to after-hours emergencies. The high level and degree of support for this product indicates to me that Abacus truly is concerned about the viability of my law practice, both now and in the long term.
  • Abacus Private Cloud is scalable. My firm only pays for the actual number of users, which can be simply increased or decreased to match changes in firm staffing.
Conclusion

My experience with Abacus Private Cloud proves that it really works! Abacus Private Cloud provides all attorneys and law firms with a simple, easy-to-implement, modern, secure, and customizable way to use the private cloud to practice law more efficiently, with more flexibility, and with much less cost, than traditional law office computing methods.

Abacus Private Cloud completely solved my law office computing problems by giving me the security, reliability, technical support, and mobility I need to effectively practice law competitively, efficiently, and economically in the digital age.

My Private Cloud Environment on Abacus Private Cloud My private, personal digital law office on Abacus Private Cloud contains the following components,  which form an integrated, fully functional digital law office:  On The Private Cloud (remote) Server:
  • Case Management and Accounting Software: Abacus Law Gold, and a legacy accounting system using QuickBooks Pro2014
  • Office Productivity Software for Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Etc. : Word 2013, Excel 2013
  • Email Software: Outlook 2013
  • Software To Create, Read, Search, and Annotate Digital Documents: Adobe Acrobat Professional X
  • An Internet Fax Service To Fax Digital Documents and Convert Incoming Faxes To Digital Documents: MyFax
  • Disk storage space for all applications and all digital law office data
At the Local (user) Location:
  • One or more digital display and input devices (Desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone)
  • A Scanner or Digital Copier To Digitize Incoming Paper Documents for transfer to the private cloud: Assorted Fujitsu ScanSnap scanners and a Kyocera digital copier
  • A Printer To Make Paper Copies of Stored Digital Documents: assorted HP LaserJet printers and a multi-function Kyocera digital copier
  • A Voicemail To Email Service to convert  incoming telephone voice messages into digital files, which are then emailed to the recipient: an Avaya voicemail system, obtained through a local office center
  • An Internet Connection (wireless or wired)

 

The post Making The Move: Taking My Law Office to Abacus Private Cloud appeared first on Law Technology Today.

Apple: iOS 8 Update Downloaded By Nearly 50% Of Users

Read/Write Web6 hours 18 min ago

Categories:

Web

Slowly but surely iPhone users are updating to iOS 8, Apple reports.

The technology company has added a new pie graph to its App Store Distribution page for developers, which notes that 46% of users have upgraded to iOS 8. Meanwhile, 49% of users continue to use iOS 7 and 5% are still using even earlier versions.

Earlier this week, multiple usage trackers determined that iOS 8 adoption was off to a slower start than iOS 7. One possible reason might be that, in order to upgrade, iPhone users need to free up 5 GB of space to fit this latest upgrade, which wasn’t the case with iOS 7.

See also: How To Upgrade To iOS 8

Acquiring less than half of the userbase in a week may sound like a loss for Apple. However, history tells us that it’s quite good. KitKat, the latest Android update, took a whopping 9 months to reach 40% market share.

iOS 8 was released last Tuesday with a number of new features, but not everybody is impressed, as some users are already trying to downgrade to iOS 7.

Screenshots via Apple

Where You’ll Find Google Structured Snippets: From Superheroes To Product Specifications

Search Engine Land6 hours 32 min ago

Categories:

Search
The other day, Google officially announced structured snippets, basically knowledge graph snippets directly embedded in the search results snippets. But what type of queries trigger the structured snippets from showing up in the search results? Based on some early testing, the range goes from...

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2014: September 21-27

Another word for it6 hours 45 min ago

Categories:

Topic Maps

BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2014: September 21-27

From the webpage:

The ALA [American Library Association] promotes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them.

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.

The ALA has numerous resources that focus on U.S.-centric issues on banning books.

For a more international perspective, see: List of books banned by governments at Wikipedia. The list of one hundred and seventeen (117) entries there is illustrative and not exhaustive in terms of books banned in any particular country. Check entries for specific countries and/or with government representatives for a specific country if in doubt.

I was surprised to find that Australia banned The Anarchist Cookbook (1971), which on initial publication needed serious editing and now needs revision and updating. (Caveat: I haven’t seen the 2002 revision.) On the other hand, it is one of the few non-sexual titles you will find at: Banned Books in Australia: A Selection.

If you want an erotica reading list, starting with the two hundred and fifty (250) titles banned by Australia is a good starting point. The Aussies omit Catullus for some unknown reason so you will have to pencil him into the list.

Censorship is proof positive of a closed mind.

Do you have a closed mind?

Heroku 101: A Beginner's Guide To Hosting Apps In The Cloud

Read/Write Web7 hours ago

Categories:

Web

Apps are big business. Everyone is using them for games, messaging, and information. Some people are even making their own.

Small businesses and amateur programmers might be interested in getting into the app game, too. There are plenty of tutorials online for building an app. The hard part is figuring out what to do once the app has been built. How do you get it to people?

See also: How To Build A WinJS App In 10 Easy Steps

If you've built a Web app—that is, a self-contained program designed to run in Web browsers, as opposed to the kind of app you might download from an app store—then it needs a home on the Web. Specifically, it needs a Web address so people can find it, storage for the app's code and associated data and background support to ensure that traffic spikes won't knock it offline.

That’s where Heroku comes in. Heroku is a service that simplifies the process of getting your finished app to your potential users—in just a couple of clicks.

What Is Heroku?

According to Orion Henry, one of the three cofounders, “Heroku” is a nonsense word comprised of “hero” and “haiku.” The founders’ reason for a Japanese-sounding name is a node to Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto, the inventor of the Ruby programming language.

Founded in June 2007, Heroku predates most of the buzzword-laden phrases we now use to describe it. “It’s a PaaS [Platform as a Service].” “It lets you deploy apps from the cloud!”

In plain English, Heroku gives apps a place to live on the Internet. Much the way a website host puts your site up on the Web and keeps it running using its own servers, Heroku puts an app you've developed on the Internet for others to use. With a few clicks you can "deploy" your app, thus making it possible for others to find and load into their browsers the same way they'd load a Web site.

There are, of course, alternatives to Heroku. Appfog and Dotcloud are comparable services. However, they are much younger than Heroku, the granddaddy of online app hosting, and have had a lot less time to cement their reputations.

It's also possible to host apps on big cloud services like Amazon Web Services or a Web hosting service like DreamHost, although it's far more complicated to do so. And they charge a lot even for that level of service.

Since Heroku’s identity is so firmly entrenched in app deployment, I originally mistook it for a platform where developers could also build their apps. However, while you can easily test your applications with Heroku, it’s not designed to help you build them from scratch.

Who Uses Heroku And Why?

Some of Heroku’s most well known clients include Asics and Miley Cyrus. But companies of all sizes—and no small amount of independent developers—use it, too.

Sure, you can host your own website by running a networked server to, well, “serve” it out of your home or office. But it’s a lot of responsibility, and that’s why a lot of companies entrust this to outside hosting services. And as it turns out, hosting an app—which can be subject to occasional surges of user interest—is a lot more strenuous than website hosting can be. When the inevitable downtime happens, you have to deal with it yourself, rather than just check Heroku Status.

In fact, if you build your own infrastructure around an app, you’ll be lucky if you can do it in fewer than three days. And if things go wrong, you’re on your own. By contrast, Heroku allows you to deploy quickly, forget about the infrastructure, and just focus on improving your app.

Heroku is also great for beginners since its free tier of service covers everything newbies need. You can deploy as many apps as you like on Heroku, so long as they're not too large (in terms of the associated data you're hosting) and you don’t mind the possibility that Heroku might randomly take them offline for what it calls "unscheduled downtime."

I'm currently hosting five different apps on Heroku—all Twitter bots—and they only become active about once an hour when they attempt to send a tweet to Twitter. The rest of the time, I don’t care if they’re down.

See also: Five Steps To Build Your Own Random Non-Sequitur Twitter Bot

Scale is another major reasons people use Heroku. What if your modest app suddenly goes viral? Heroku will automatically devote extra servers to keep it from crumbling under the pressure. When Chris Whong, a civic hacker, suddenly saw his data visualization app of New York taxi drivers make the front page of Hacker News, Heroku adjusted it to support a flood of new users.

How Heroku Works

When you create an app on Heroku, it deploys to the Cedar Stack, an online runtime environment that supports apps built in Java, Node.js, Scala, Clojure, Python and PHP—all the programming languages that Heroku supports.

The current version of the Cedar Stack is Celadon Cedar. It supports hundreds of thousands of developer apps. When you deploy a new app, Heroku assigns it a unique name based on a natural theme, like “calm-springs3345” or “desolate-cliffs1221.”

My many apps, labeled with nature-inspired names for the Cedar stack

When it comes to your app, think of Heroku as home to a vast array of virtual computers, or "instances," that can be powered up and down. Heroku calls these instances dynos; these are lightweight containers that each run a single command for your app. In my experience as a beginner building apps that only perform one action, I’ve never had more than one dyno per app.

It turns out that a lot of apps require the same actions. Heroku keeps developers from reinventing the wheel with the Addon Store, which provides actions you can assign to dynos for free or, sometimes, a fee. I am using a free addon called Heroku Scheduler, which prompts my apps to become active once every hour.

For a more high level explanation, here’s an overview of Heroku’s architecture.

Heroku And Git

One of the reasons Heroku is easy for people to use is that it relies on a widely used revision control system—that is, a way of managing the program code for your app—called Git. If you’re not already familiar with Git, you might want to review ReadWrite’s beginner tutorial for Git and GitHub.

See also: GitHub For Beginners—Don't Get Scared, Get Started

In fact, you can’t deploy an app on Heroku unless you are using Git to manage your app clode. The “push” command, “Heroku push master,” is what you input on the command line to send the app from your repository to the cloud. That’s why Heroku is considered a “one click” deploy.

See also: See What The Code Behind An App Does With Just One Click

The "Deploy to Heroku" button on GitHub in Heroku's signature purple 

It’s not just your own Heroku app that Git makes simple, but any finished app you might encounter on GitHub. Earlier this year, Heroku and GitHub teamed up to create a one click deploy button for repositories on GitHub. So if you see an app you’re interested in learning more about, you can click the deploy button and try it for yourself on Heroku.

Signing Up For Heroku

Interested in trying Heroku out for yourself? Signing up is easy, with one caveat.

To create your Heroku account, all you need is an email and password. But if you want to do anything with your Heroku-hosted app, like take advantage of one of the many useful free addons, you need to put in a credit card number. Heroku says it’s for account verification. Though it obviously makes it easier for Heroku to tempt you with paid services as well.

If all you want to do with your Heroku account is test other people’s apps using the GitHub one-click-deploy button, you can stop here. But if you want to deploy your own apps from your desktop, you’ll also want to install the Heroku Toolbelt.

Heroku Toolbelt is a resource that bundles three tools: Heroku client, a command line interface tool for creating and managing Heroku apps; Foreman, which lets you run your apps locally; and Git, which we already know allows you to push apps to the Heroku stack.

With Heroku Toolbelt, you can easily create, manage, test, and deploy apps from your PC.

Learning More About Heroku

If you learn by watching videos, Code School might be your best bet. Watch instructor Jay McGavren deploy a Ruby on Rails app with Heroku.

If you prefer written instructions, you can use my tutorial for deploying an app built with Python and Ruby. Or Dave Winer’s straight-to-the-point Node.js app walkthrough.

But ultimately, the best place to learn about using Heroku is the service's own Heroku Dev Center. Choose one of the Get Started Guides according to your preferred programming language. Though Heroku can get extremely high level, a refreshing amount of its development center resources are dedicated to people who want to learn new skills.

Heroku is just one way to host your apps online, albeit a particularly established and popular one. Hopefully this article helps you make an informed decision about which service is best for your app.

Lead image courtesy of Heroku

The Lede: Are You Overlooking This Cornerstone of a Smart Content Strategy?

Copyblogger7 hours 21 min ago

Categories:

Writing

Yesterday, Brian Clark published a highly anticipated answer to a question that’s been on a lot of entrepreneurial and marketing minds.

If you missed it, that question is: Isn’t it time for more power and less hassle from WordPress … without breaking the bank?

The answer is yes, of course, and he provides the solution — a turnkey, hosted platform for content management that is already providing the technological engine for many smart content strategies across the globe.

But technology is just technology. It will do its part reliably, but you have to do yours too. That’s why Brian released the New Rainmaker content library well before the platform … and why the library is still available for free. He wants you to have the knowledge to actually make good use of the tools — which, after all, is the Copyblogger way.

That is why we are kicking off the relaunch of The Lede with a three-part series on content strategy, starting today.

And we begin with an element of content strategy that often gets overlooked … but that is crucial to understanding your audience intimately enough to influence it.

In this episode, Demian Farnworth and I discuss …

  • How content strategy begins with knowing your audience — not just on a statistical or demographic level, but intimately
  • What worldviews are and how to identify them
  • How Jerod Morris’s worldview of cooperation differs from, say, Niccolò Machiavelli’s
  • How worldviews differ from personas (it’s an important difference)
  • How worldviews should influence decisions when starting a business
  • What a real-world example of discovering an audience’s worldview sounds like

And, of course, how to put your audience first. (We wouldn’t have it any other way.)

Listen to The Lede …

To listen to The Lede, you can either hit the flash audio player below, or browse the links to find your preferred format …

React to The Lede …

As always, we appreciate your reaction to episodes of The Lede and feedback about how we’re doing.

Send me a tweet with your thoughts anytime: @JerodMorris.

And please tell us the most important point you took away from this latest episode. Do so by joining the discussion over on Google+.

The Show Notes The Transcript Click here to read the transcript

Please note that this transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and grammar.

The Lede: Many People Overlook This Crucial Fundamental of a Smart Content Strategy (Do You?)

Jerod Morris: Welcome back, everybody, to The Lede: A podcast about content marketing by Copyblogger Media. I’m your host, Jerod Morris.

We took a hiatus over the summer, but we’re back, and quite happy to be back. If you are a new listener, welcome. We appreciate you tuning in, and if you’ve been listening for awhile, thank you very much for your support and for being here, ready and waiting, for new episodes.

As long-time listeners know, our goal with each episode is to deliver a bite-sized chunk of useful advice that you can take action on as soon as you’re done listening to improve your relationship with your audience and grow your online business.

To kick off our return, Demian Farnworth and I are going to talk about content strategy. It will be a three-part series, and it begins with this episode: Exactly where you would expect a Copyblogger series about content strategy to begin, with the audience.

It seems like it has been an eternity since we did our last episode, but it’s actually only been a few months. I’m excited to welcome Demian back as we get going here with the next season of The Lede. How are you doing, Demian?

Demian Farnworth: I’m doing fine. Hello, everyone. Glad to be back. Three months seems like a long time, so it’s exciting to get back and back into the groove, and hear you roar a few more times, Jerod.

Jerod: Yes. I’m sure that you’ve been studying up on your pop culture references during the downtime, right?

Demian: That’s right. That’s right.

Thank you for listening

Jerod: I do want to say, really quickly, before we jump into today’s topic: Just how much we appreciate all the kind words and comments that we’ve gotten from people who listen, who have been asking when the episodes were going to come back.

Getting your kind words definitely has motivated us and gotten us excited to get back with it, so we just want to say thank you to everybody out there for those.

Demian: Yes. Thank you.

Jerod: And with that, let’s get started. We’re doing a three-part series here on content strategy, and this is the first part of that series.

What is a worldview?

Jerod: And if you follow Copyblogger, it won’t surprise you that the first element of our content strategy series is going to cover knowing your audience, and not just knowing your audience from a statistical or a demographic level, but knowing your audience intimately.

Knowing what they stand for, what they live for. In other words, understanding their worldviews. And Demian, you wrote a great article about this a few months ago that will certainly be linked in the show notes, and I want to break apart some of the ideas that you talk about in that article, and so let’s just start with that big picture.

What is a worldview, and also how is a worldview different from a persona?

Demian: That’s a great question. A great way to start. A worldview is, basically, a descriptive model of how you see the world, and it answers some pretty basic questions like, what should we do next? What is true and false? How should we attain our goals?

There’s a philosopher named James Sire. He wrote a book a number of years ago called The Universe Next Door, which is a quote from the E.E. Cummings poem.

In The Universe Next Door, he identifies seven basic worldviews, and these are typically like Deism, or Naturalism, Existentialism, New Age, and Post Modern, and these are the things that people — they don’t develop these ideas about their world systematically.

It’s not like you sit down and say, “I want to be a Post-Modern Existentialist.” Rather, it’s something that develops within us through how we’re raised and the household in which we’re raised — it’s influenced by our friends, our education, our experiences. It can be influenced by a book that you read as a youngster.

And the thing to remember, too, is that worldviews develop in one direction, and they become very difficult to change as you get older. So the thing to remember as an advertiser is that you’re not after trying to change somebody’s worldview. You’re simply trying to get in alignment with their worldview, if that makes sense.

Identifying worldviews

Jerod: So, for example, me personally. I have a worldview that the most important part of communication is being audience-focused. Focusing on the person who you’re talking to.

And that has developed because of sales training I received in my first job after college, and reading Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and joining Copyblogger, and learning that training.

So when you talk about how that systematically develops, is that what you mean? That I’ve developed that worldview, and now it’s much more stringent in my mind, harder to change, but if someone is trying to tap into me or sell to me or communicate to me, they need to understand that and communicate to that part of me.

Demian: Right. So what you describe, I would say that’s atypical. Most people, when they learn that they have a worldview to even begin with, because I would say most people don’t even realize they have a worldview until they come across this idea of worldviews.

Then they realize that, “Oh, this is how I think and not everyone else thinks that way.”

What you’ve done is that you’ve identified this. This is important to me, and so I’m going to pursue this path. Your worldview is not so much communication, but it’s the importance of people. You put an emphasis on people.

So you’re actually — what’s above the communication part is this idea of how you view how the world works, right?

The world is not a world of competition, but it’s one of cooperation where you have to get along with people, and the best way to get along with people is to communicate clearly with them, to listen to them, to understand what they need to hear from you. So all that is created through a worldview.

For instance, Stephen Covey — have you read his book, Seven Habits?

Jerod: Yes.

Demian: In that, he has the view of trying to understand first before you communicate, and a lot of this is people-centric. He has a certain worldview, and that’s why he would come up with these sort of habits. He would see that world.

Machiavelli, who wrote the book The Prince, which was satirical and in some sense a social criticism, but he had a different worldview. He saw the world as one of competition.

Of course, he was dealing with the world of politics, but that was completely different. So in that sense, as an advertiser, as someone who’s trying to resonate with you, understanding how you view and how you think is important.

It’s part of the process of coming up and discovering what your worldview is. Because again, it’s going above and beyond just the fact that communication is important to you.

Why is communication important to you? That really comes down to when we emphasize the point that communication is important to you because you realize cooperation is good, and you realize people are good. It’s nice to have community.

Why is that? It’s because you view human beings as being decent people who have and deserve certain rights.

So you want to be able to deliver that, and you want to be able to help people and inspire people. And that’s all built around your worldview.

Worldviews versus personas

Jerod: So how would you contrast that, then, with personas?

Demian: Okay. So a persona is another tool, and really like I mentioned in the article, a persona helps you figure out things like the buying behaviors. Why do they shop at high-end versus a Walmart? What are their certain attitudes that they have about shopping? What are the certain attitudes they have about politics?

A persona sort of helps you fill out demographics, psychographics, of your particular audience. What the worldview does is tell you why they believe that.

It’s useful information both ways, and what I think happens at this stage here — I’ve heard this as I was moving through these three different articles, and we were talking about worldview, then we were talking about empathy map, and we were talking about story telling — and some of the complaints were, “Well, that just seems like a lot you’re throwing onto people. First you tell me ‘worldview,’ and now it’s ‘personas,’ what else am I going to have to deal with?”

The point being is that you should be doing all of it. You don’t have to do it all at once, you should be developing personas. If you develop a worldview, you’re going to develop part of the persona. If you develop a persona, you’re going to key in, and you’re going to know what kinds of questions to ask when you’re developing the worldview.

So you might say, let’s focus on a persona right now. Then you create the persona, then you work from that for a period of time. Then you tweak and change the persona based on your experiments, and you then turn toward the worldview.

What is their worldview? Then you figure that out, and then you go and run your marketing for a few months or a few years, and then you stop again.

You might create an empathy map at that point. So all of this, the goal is, like you said in the beginning, is understanding your audience. You as an advertiser should have a growing and growing, over the years, knowledge base of who your customer is.

It’s just like a marriage. You’re constantly figuring out who that person is so you can have a great relationship with them, and the same thing with your audience and using personas and worldviews.

The worldview’s role when starting a business

Jerod: Let’s say people are going to start a site or start a business. Should they be sitting down and trying to define these worldviews in the beginning? Is there a better process to get some kind of data, like the demographic information you were talking about earlier?

Getting that, and then saying “Why?” And continuing to try and dig the “why?”

What’s the process? When should this start, and is there a correct order that it needs to go in?

Demian: I wouldn’t say there’s a correct order. I think it’s helpful. It depends on your personality, too. I think for me it’s always been — let’s say, for example, that you want to start a blog.

You have an idea, and you have a direction you want to go. And then, of course, you could sit down and think, “Who is going to be my audience?”

Well, you probably have a hunch, and you could write that hunch down, and you could maybe sort of script out a nebulous kind of idea of who your audience is. And then go and start writing a couple of posts, or building the audience, and seeing how your interaction with the community is changing your view of the audience. Because it will change.

Every successful marketer and advertiser understands that. They think they know their audience, until they actually interact with them, and then they realize that they’re asking certain things and are looking for certain things, and they want certain things. So it’s really kind of a trial-and-error process, like the scientific method. You have a hunch, you go out there and test the hunch.

How does your hunch stand up to reality? If it’s completely blown out of the water, then you reengineer the way you think about your audience based upon reality, and then you continue more.

Say you’ve run this blog for several months, and then you can sit down once you have that audience. Because here’s the thing you can’t have: You can’t do a worldview without having an audience first, because it’s part of the process of getting that worldview.

Like conducting one-on-one interviews. If you don’t have an audience, you can’t do the interviews. Or reading the comments on your blog. If you have a hunch of who your audience is, you can go and study Amazon reviews.

But certainly, once you have an audience, you can create a survey with Google Docs or Survey Monkey, and ask them the specific worldview questions.

I gave you a list in that article. You can create a survey and ask those questions once you have that audience. Even if you only have 100 people. And if you get 15–20 people who respond, you’re going on something, and you can tweak it based upon that.

Of course, you can eavesdrop on real-life conversations or if you actually have a business and customer support, you can analyze your support mails, or review your testimonials.

In essence, it’s monitoring your audience on the social web and across forums.

A real-world example of discovering your audience’s worldview

Jerod: And here’s kind of a real-world example for that, because I was thinking about this as we were prepping for today’s episode. Kind of how Primility.com has evolved over the past few months, right? My side project.

Demian: Mmm-hmm.

Jerod: So when I started that, I had an idea for the content. How balancing pride and humility can help you in your life. And I had an idea of who might read that and who might be attracted to that, but over the course of the last three to four months, as you said, from comments, and from e-mails, and from conversations, that understanding of the audience has really evolved.

So I jotted down a few notes here. I kind of did this just as practice, like “let me try and define the worldview of a Primility reader really quick …”

Demian: That’s great.

Jerod: And you tell me if this is what a worldview is — if it isn’t digging deeply enough, whatever. But here are just a few of the notes that I jotted down.

“Primility readers believe they are capable of achieving more tomorrow than they did today, and they believe that the key factor that will allow them to do this is their own mentality and attitude.

“In other words, they take personal responsibility and accountability for everything that happens to them. So they are always seeking methods of self-improvement to give them that margin of improvement from one day to the next, building a better life in this way, brick by brick.

“They also believe that success means more and tastes sweeter when it involves lifting other people up, not just themselves.”

Is that a worldview, or does that not go deep enough?

Demian: No, that’s perfect. That’s absolutely perfect because some of the things that you said within there, for example, taking responsibility for their actions and realizing that their success is really sort of on their shoulders, involves a worldview that emphasizes individuality, but it also emphasizes hard work, and it emphasizes that there is opportunity out in the world that anybody can succeed, which in contrast, you know, some people might have a victim mentality, and have almost the opposite sort of mentality.

Like a fatalistic mentality: “I can never do anything, why resist the world and the bad luck that always comes upon me?” So yeah. That’s perfect.

The continual process of tapping into a worldview

Jerod: So as we kind of wrap up this first episode — man, the time goes quickly. I forgot how fast the time goes when we do these.

Demian: Yeah.

Jerod: So what is one take-away? Obviously, this is part of a three-part series. We’re going to talk about empathy and building empathy maps, and storytelling.

So what is one action item that you think people can take away here in terms of worldview that can help them, as soon as tomorrow, communicate better with their audiences?

Demian: Well, I think to do just what you did with your audience. Just sit down and think about — what do I know about my audience, and pooling the resources if you have them to help them sort of write that out.

If they don’t have an audience, if they just have an idea, sort of think through the ideal person with whom they’re trying to communicate.

So the take-away for that, yes, is to sit down. Do that same exercise. How long did it take you to do that?

Jerod: Obviously, the research went over the course of three or four months.

Demian: Sure.

Jerod: But it took me a few minutes of just free-flow writing.

Demian: Right. So if you’ve been doing this for years, then again, you probably have it in your mind but you’ve just never sat down and sort of codified it, in that sense.

For you, it’s taken a couple of months to learn your audience, then once you sit down — and if you don’t have that, sit down and forecast what you want your audience to look like?

That may change as you watch the people who gravitate, because again, you could be presenting ideas and attract an entirely different crowd, and you have to be okay with that because you’re going down the path you want to go along.

Is the audience the right people you want to attract? Is that who you’re trying to reach?

And so through that experience you come to realize who your audience is, and that view of who they thought they were will, obviously, change. You have to be okay with that, though, too.

And you might even be surprised by who your audience is, but again, you’re not actually trying to change that worldview. You’re actually just trying to tap into that.

Jerod: Okay. One more quick follow-up to that. So obviously, this was in my head. I obviously had an understanding of this. Why is it important to write it down? If I already kind of know it, and I’m gaining this knowledge over the course of time, why is it so important to codify it, to write it out?

Demian: I think because it helps you focus. For me, I think having it out on paper helps to kind of focus and center all your energy on that thought, to say, “This is it, this is what it is.” If you never do that, you’re not going to lose or anything like that. But I think it’s helpful just as an exercise.

“Who is my audience?” And it’s an exercise, too, in the sense of what kind of content, what kind of product can I create for them? If you sit down and you write that out, that’s probably at most two or three paragraphs. You might be full of different ideas and directions in which you can go with content or products.

Jerod: All right. Perfect. Well, Demian, awesome to get back on the horse here with The Lede, and looking forward to doing the rest of the series, and then the many exciting episodes that we have planned beyond that.

Demian: I’m looking forward too, Jerod.

Jerod: All right. Talk to you soon, man.

Demian: Hey, buddy. Take care.

Jerod: Thank you for listening to this episode of The Lede. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider giving the show a rating or a review on iTunes, or pass it along to a friend or colleague. We’d greatly appreciate it.

Put your audience first

And if you want to dig deeper on the topics that Demian and I discussed in this episode, and that we will discuss in the future, I highly recommend that you go sign up for Brian Clark’s free New Rainmaker training course. It is a two-week course sent to you via e-mail that includes seven lessons and three webinars.

Now, at some point, this won’t be offered for free anymore, so it would behoove you to head over to NewRainmaker.com/register as soon as you can to get your hands on this valuable, free education series that shows you step-by-step how to move beyond marketing and embrace the power that comes from building a true audience asset.

We’ll be back in two weeks with another episode of The Lede. Until then, keep learning and keep putting your audience first. Talk to you soon, everybody.

*Credits: Both the intro (“Bridge to Nowhere” by Sam Roberts Band) and outro songs (“Down in the Valley” by The Head and the Heart) are graciously provided by express written consent from the rights’ owners.

About the authorJerod Morris

Jerod Morris is the VP of Marketing for Copyblogger Media. Get more from him on Twitter or . Have you gotten your wristband yet?

The post The Lede: Are You Overlooking This Cornerstone of a Smart Content Strategy? appeared first on Copyblogger.

Day 1 of the Clio Cloud Conference: Fastcase, Data and Android

ABA's tech feed7 hours 46 min ago

Categories:

Tech

The big news from the Clio Cloud Conference is Clio’s exclusive integration with Fastcase.

Exclusive, as the press release states, means that “Clio will be the only cloud ­based practice management tool to offer an integration with Fastcase, and Fastcase will be the only online legal research tool available through Clio.”  Lawyers who use Clio and Fastcase can now track time spent researching and save relevant documents to matters in Clio. No more guess work on how much time was spent looking for cases in Fastcase as it is all pushed to Clio, and no need to download/upload documents. A few clicks and poof! One less workflow interruption.

My first thought:

Interesting. @goclio + @fastcase = cornered market? #ClioCloud9

— Gwynne Monahan (@econwriter5) September 22, 2014

Judging by the crowd’s reaction to the short demo given by Clio co-founder and CEO Jack Newton during his opening keynote, my first thought seemed right. Being able to do research in Fastcase while tracking your time for it in Clio, and save relevant documents to matters in Clio, removes a number of cumbersome steps. Except it sounded familiar, and, yep, Thomson Reuters Firm Central does that. Clio has upped the ante, so to speak, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

While Fastcase was the big announcement, Clio also announced improved integration with online accounting software app Xero, and integrations with QuickBooks Online, JurisPage and Zapier. While JurisPage automatically creates contacts in Clio whenever someone fills out a form on your website, Zapier automates. I have been messing with Zapier and Slack for a  large writing project, and have used Zapier to connect Evernote to Slack, and Google Drive to Slack. Whenever I create a new Note for the project, be it writing or research, it automatically appears in Slack for my editor to review and comment. Same for drafts ready for review from Google Drive. It has done wonders to cut down on the amount of email exchanged. For Clio users? I’m interested to see what Clio users do with Zapier.

Clio Next

Clio also announced Clio Next, which includes a facelift. Like the rest of the Internet, Clio has gone blue. Newton stated that yellow was being used like more of accent color, and is still found in its native mobile applications.

The crowd cheered the absence of yellow, and talking to some attendees, the change to blue is welcome. One key thing Clio Next does is put data dashboards on your home screen, or Practice tab.

The buzzword “big data” was thrown around often during the first day, from the session on metrics to Richard Susskind’s keynote. There was acknowledgement that “big data” is a buzzword and not something new. Little of what is discussed is new; it just seems new because technology makes it so. Now you can do what Walmart has been doing with data. By putting your data dashboards front and center, Clio makes it more convenient to monitor the health of your law firm.

Convenience, I often argue, is what drives adoption. The more convenient, or easy, it is to do something, the more likely people are to do it and keep doing it. Think of how we pay for things. We’ve gone from bartering to cash to checks to credit cards to various iterations of mobile payments. The most convenient wins.

Clio has made it more convenient to see your law firm data and thus more convenient to pay attention to your best referral sources, most profitable clients and whatever else you want to know so you can run your practice efficiently, effectively and get the most out of the extra eight hours a week Clio gives you.

Clio Next isn’t just about a color change, either. Newton discussed improved functionality, including:

  • More robust document creation, management and collaboration options, doing away with the need to use cloud storage services like Dropbox.
  • One-page billing, so you can generate bills on the fly for new clients, matters and time entries, without having to create the entries first in Clio.
  • New document storage and sharing features.
Android App

Clio isn’t the first to release a native Android app. MyCase released its app in May, while Rocket Matter’s has been out for more than a year. Now Clio users who prefer Android devices have access to a native app “with the same functionality and ease of use” Clio iOS users have been enjoying. In other words, Android users now have a native app instead of having to use the mobile optimized web version. It looks exactly like the iOS version, and its key features include:

  • Track time and expenses on the go
  • Access your matters and associated information
  • Keep on top of your tasks on the go
  • View and reach your contacts
  • Access and modify your calendar
  • Offline access – you can use Clio’s Android app without network access to use your data offline

That just leaves Windows phones without a native app.

The post Day 1 of the Clio Cloud Conference: Fastcase, Data and Android appeared first on Law Technology Today.

First Day Of Autumn Google Logo Reminds Us The Fall Season Is Here

Search Engine Land8 hours 28 min ago

Categories:

Search
Today’s Google logo marks the first day of the Autumnal Equinox with an animated doodle of trees that go from grey to branches filled with Fall-colored leaves dropping to reveal Google’s name. The logo is being served to most of Google’s Northern Hemisphere homepages, while...

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Mogdesign: The next chapter of Mogdesign

Planet Drupal10 hours 35 min ago

Categories:

Drupal
Last week was exactly 9 years since I started Mogdesign. My goal was to deliver innovative projects for happy clients that would stay for years. Fast forward a few years later we had a proper company, an amazing team including my co-founder David Lukac and nearly every Drupal expert there was in Slovakia.  

Wunderkraut blog: Healthy sprinting at DrupalCon Amsterdam

Planet Drupal11 hours 28 min ago

Categories:

Drupal
Two months ago, I suggested alternatives to the usual food available at Drupal sprints. Instead of eating pastries and pizza, eating the right foods can help you sprint harder and longer as well as guard against Drupal flu. WunderKraut helped me kick off the Healthy Sprinting initiative by kindly sponsoring the sprint snacks at Drupalaton. It felt great to be able to contribute to Drupal 8 in a new by helping core contributors stay sharp and healthy!

Fresh fruits waiting for you in the sprint room, thanks to @Wunderkraut! pic.twitter.com/rGxASqlsax

— drupalaton (@drupalaton) August 7, 2014

@lewisnyman @drupalaton @Wunderkraut Thank you so much for organizing that; it's very, very much appreciated! :)

— Wim Leers (@wimleers) August 8, 2014 Bigger and better at DrupalCon Amsterdam For DrupalCon Amsterdam, we're going to take all the feedback and lessons we learned at Drupalaton and put it to good use. WunderKraut are sponsoring the snacks again on the pre-and-post conference sprints (excluding Friday). The pre-and-post sprints are taking place in Berlage workspace and we have more control over the food we are able to provide. I'm aiming for more packaged snacks and store bought fruit, rather than the buffet style fruit salad and mixes supplied in Balaton. If you have any suggestions or recommendations of nice snacks that you'd like to see, please let me know in the comments or on twitter.

LtU's new server

Lambda the Ultimate12 hours 55 min ago

Categories:

Engineering

Lambda the Ultimate is now running on a new, faster, more reliable server. The old one is now, uh... pining for the fjords.

This should resolve the increasingly frequent outages we've seen recently.

Because the old server had started failing, we didn't have time to do as much quality control on the migration as we would have liked. If anyone notices any issues with the site, please comment in this thread.

Currently known issues:

  • Non-Latin UTF-8 characters apparently didn't survive the database migration correctly. This is a particular issue if you have a username containing non-Latin characters - you may not be able to log in currently.
  • It's possible that some comments posted later on Monday don't appear on the new site.
  • New user signup emails are not yet working.
  • Due to DNS propagation, not everyone will see the new site immediately.

The above issues should be resolved sometime on Tuesday.

Google Market Share: 67 Percent On PC, 83 Percent In Mobile

Search Engine Land17 hours 18 min ago

Categories:

Search
Last week comScore released its August US search market share rankings report. It appears Google has permanently plateaued at 67 percent (or so). In Europe Google’s share is above 90 percent, which is why all the antitrust activity. Back in the US, Microsoft and Yahoo combined for 29 percent,...

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Last Call Media: NERDSummit 2014: A revolution in our DrupalCamp!

Planet DrupalMon, 09/22/2014 - 21:47

Categories:

Drupal
NERDSummit 2014: A revolution in our DrupalCamp!

(The following is an except from a much larger essay, in progress, titled We Sold Drupal to the World.) 

Regarding our community we can ask ourselves the following questions:

Are our events too intimidating?

Here in the New England web developer community, we tried to answer these questions with a new web developer conference. We called it the New England Regional Developer Summit (NERDSummit). The first thing we did was we made the scope wide, covering multiple technologies rather than focusing on just one. So, for example, instead of just focusing on Drupal, the conference included the WordPress and Joomla! communities, as well as many general topics in things like Ruby, Rails, Django, Python, Node.js etc.

The choice to expand our camp's scope reduced the intimidation factor common to these types of events. An event about a single technology is likely to feel to have a large number of attendees who know the technology very well. Rather than feeling like it will be a larger number of people to help one who is learning, a beginner is likely to feel instead that they will be getting in the way and frustrating others with their inexperience. An event about multiple technologies changes this dynamic in that the knowledge hierarchy becomes distributed and irrelevant as a hierarchy at all. A group with expertise in one of the event’s technologies, for example, could in fact be a small influence on the event as a whole.

Are our events inclusive enough?

Diversifying the event’s content also made the event more inclusive. An event about a single technology presupposes that one has “chosen” that technology to some extent. It excludes, typically unintentionally, people who have not chosen it and are still deciding and, intentionally, people who have chosen another technology. By leaning more towards “something for everyone,” an event can draw more people and be a place where things are discovered and chosen. 

We think people should choose what we’ve chosen, but there needs to be a place where it is actually a choice.

The point here is not to change the events that focus on a single technology, but just to say that an event that focuses on many technologies is less intimidating, more inclusive and more likely to bring new people into the industry.

Do our events champion a Code of Conduct?

For NERDSummit, we made a big deal about our Code of Conduct. We put it in places where it couldn’t be avoided. We focused on it at registration and in each day’s opening remarks. We spent time with it, as organizers, to understand it and then worked with volunteers to pass that understanding along.

There is a common fear that having a Code of Conduct in this way will lead people to believe that there are problems in the community, and that, if there are no problems, then there should be no Code of Conduct. Beside the fact that there are problems in every community everywhere, there is another angle to look at this that is very important.

Things work because we make them work.

Good consistent results take intentionality. A Code of Conduct is an example of that intentionality. It is saying, in writing, officially, how we will behave and what we will not tolerate. It is accepting and agreeing to it as a community and standing by it, adhering to it, making it real and making it work.

This is important to a lot of people. Championing a Code of Conduct makes this industry a more reasonable place to be for people who would otherwise find home elsewhere.

Are we giving our events the credit they deserve?

With career paths and fields of study, relevant to the web development industry, being non-existent in most places; our meetups, camps, summits, and conferences etc are critically important to how open source works. It is within the events that we are bringing people in and we are teaching ourselves how to thrive. We are doing it and we are doing it ok, but we need to do better.

Our events are where people are finding their way into a whole new IT career or just a new IT skill set. We need to recognize the importance our events have in making open source sustainable by bringing new talent in. To support open source better, we need to work to do our events better, we need to bring in more talent. 

How did NERDSummit do with bringing more people in?

The NERDSummit is a direct expansion of its local area’s Western Mass Drupal Camp. Here are some comparisons between the 2013 camp and the 2014 summit.

NERDSummit 2014 Unique visitors: ~500

Western Mass Drupal Camp 2013 Unique visitors: ~250

This is reasonable considering the expanded scope and the length of the event going from one day in 2013 to three days in 2014.

NERDSummit 2014 Women visitors: 37%

Western Mass Drupal Camp 2013 Women visitors: 15%

 

NERDSummit 2014 Women speakers: 34%

Western Mass Drupal Camp 2013 Women speakers: 8%

This was a huge improvement over the year before and is pretty high for open source conferences in general. DrupalCon Austin, for example, left behind its historic 8% female conference attendance by achieving 20%.

NERDSummit additionally had 12% youth in attendance, with a subset of that taking advantage of onsite childcare.

While the area in New England where NERDSummit was held, Western Massachusetts, is fairly progressive. It’s clear that something we did worked.

We diversified the content to diversify the attendance to, hopefully, diversify the community.

Feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive and we are collecting more organized feedback now. While we did pretty well drawing in more attendees and a better gender balance, NERDSummit was still fairly homogeneous in terms of race and class. NERDSummit 2015, and the years to come, will focus on reaching new communities in addition to further diversifying the ones already in attendance.

We hope to continue to see our efforts bringing more people into the industry, but also effecting changes that improves the number of people who stay. If open source is going to be a solution made by the world and for the world, it will need to be supported by the world, the whole world, and not just a privileged subset of the population. While some are working on solving the “talent shortage” and others are working on better recruiting, how we function as an IT community is one place where we can all take responsibility and make a big impact for the better.

SearchCap: Google Structured Snippets, DuckDuckGo Blocked In China & Ask.com Arbitrage

Search Engine LandMon, 09/22/2014 - 20:53

Categories:

Search
Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. From Search Engine Land: Will Ask.com Google Arbitrage Ever Stop? Google has been steadily cracking down on sites with poor quality content, both on the organic and the paid side. So why...

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Bert Boerland: Never trust data, no matter what the source is

Planet DrupalMon, 09/22/2014 - 20:15

Categories:

Drupal


Drupal is becoming increasingly a backend CMS. For editers so they can easy manage their content while for example AngularJSis delivering the content. Or as a backend hup combining content from multiple sources, databases and systems.

Drupal evolved towards this from a blog alike system 10 years ago, a content type with user generated comments below. Back then everybody knew that you should filter User Generated Content and stripe the HTML if you cared about the site. Many other systems up to today however do not filter UGC good enough; user signups, search input and many other ways a user can give input ot the system.

Now Drupal is talking to other systems, combining data from multiple sources, devs still need to understand that one should ***never*** trust input data, no matter if the source is another database or a user.

Because, what could possibly go wrong with just displaying this data directly or injecting it in the database? Why should you "checkplain" the TXT fields in zone of a domain? Why?

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