Brett Burney is the Legal Technology Support Coordinator at Thompson Hine in Cleveland, Ohio. He regularly reviews products for Law.com’s Automated Lawyer and Law Office Computing Magazine. Feel free to e-mail Brett with your legal-technology questions at [email protected].
Picture Yourself Using a Digital Camera – FujiFilm’s FinePix 4800 Zoom
One area of technology where I’ve always seemed to lag behind is the incredible world of digital photography. Not because I’ve never drooled over a digital camera, I’ve just always found myself working on other projects during my precious free time. My whole outlook on digital photography changed, however, the day I received the FujiFilm FinePix 4800 Zoom.
The Bits and Bytes of Digital Photography
Before I continue with the review, I want to take just a few seconds to discuss digital photography. It used to surprise me how many people simply don’t understand the concept of digital photography, but then I realized that it’s still hard for me to grasp Pythagorean’s Theorem.
Just like words can be either written on paper or typed into a computer, pictures can exist on glossy picture paper or as a file on a computer. If you need a tangible copy of your Microsoft Word document, you can print it out. The same goes for pictures taken with a digital camera. If you want a tangible copy of a digital picture, you can print it out yourself or take it to a picture processing store equipped to handle digital pictures.
The greatest part I enjoy about digital photography is the ability to preview your picture immediately. You don’t have to worry anymore about whether or not your precious moment was caught on film. Most digital cameras feature small LCD screens which allow you to actually view your picture as soon as you snap it.
I also enjoy the freedom to take digital pictures and then modify them on my PC. I can use image-editing programs like Adobe Photoshop to crop my pictures, remove ghastly red-eye, and add special effects.
Sleek as a Sports Car
I was first drawn to the Fuji FinePix 4800 Zoom (and it’s younger and more powerful sibling, the 6800 Zoom) by its smooth, sleek, looks. The body of the 4800 Zoom is designed by F.A. Porsche, the grandson of a certain sports car designer. That alone would probably be enough to attract anyone to the camera, but Fuji made sure to pack this camera with enough power and functionality to appeal to many tastes.
The first thing you’ll probably notice about this camera is the fact that you don’t see a lens. That’s because it’s smartly tucked away behind a round door that opens and shuts with authoritative-sounding “clicks.” Think of it as an automatic lens protector. Not too mention that having the lens tucked away gives the 4800 Zoom a very sleek and slim profile.
The back of the camera houses all the controls and it can be a little overwhelming at first, especially if you haven’t had much experience working with digital cameras before. The 4800 Zoom has a 2 inch LCD screen (measured diagonally, just like a TV) that allows you to do everything from sizing up your picture to changing various settings for the camera. The LCD can give you a real-time picture of whatever you are pointing the camera at, sort of like looking through a video camera. When you see a picture that you want to keep, you push the button. It’s that easy. (If you feel better looking through a camera’s viewfinder for your picture, the 4800 Zoom has one in the upper left corner.)
The main power button is placed inside a small “flip” switch that allows you to put the camera in “record” or “playback” mode. To take a picture, you “record” it and then you can “playback” one or more of your pictures right on the LCD screen.
There is a second small round LCD screen on the back of the camera that provides quick access to information such as zooming capabilities. There are four arrow buttons around this screen that operate the zooming function of the camera. This screen also tells you how many pictures you can fit on your SmartMedia card.
Where a normal camera uses conventional film to record pictures, a digital camera just needs a place to store digital files. Several storage technologies exist on the market today for digital cameras, usually in the form of small portable “cards.” The two most popular formats are Compact Flash and the above mentioned SmartMedia.
The 4800 Zoom ships with a 16MB SmartMedia card so you can start shooting pictures as soon as you rip open the box. You might consider purchasing a bigger-sized SmartMedia card (32MB up to 128MB) if you plan on taking a lot of high-quality pictures, or you plan to take full advantage of the camera’s video recording capability.
The “All in One” Combo
Not only was I happy to simply take pictures with the 4800 Zoom, I was excited to try out the voice/audio recording features and it’s ability to become an Web cam.
It might be hard to conceptualize a picture-taking camera doubling as a video camera, but it’s true. Digital video is composed of the same digital bits that make up a digital picture so it just makes sense that the 4800 Zoom can record whatever it’s looking at as a still picture or a moving picture. Not only that, but you have the ability to record a bit of audio along with any still picture that you take to help you keep track of where you were when you took the picture . The only limit for all these snappy features is the size of the SmartMedia card.
The last feature of the 4800 Zoom I was excited to try out was the Web cam. Although Fuji included some nice video conferencing software along with the 4800 Zoom, I elected to use the more popular NetMeeting from Microsoft. With just a little bit of tweaking, I was able to see and talk to my friend down in Florida through our computers. He could see me as well and I’ve since been able to connect to other friends and family using the camera.
Moving your digital photos from the 4800 Zoom to your PC is very easy. The camera comes with a nice solid cradle that doubles as the charging base and PC connection. You can connect the camera directly to the PC without using the cradle, but I always found it easier to use the cradle to keep wires separate and safe.
Fuji’s FinePix Viewer is part of the software bundle included with the camera and they really did a good job with the application. I have the launching feature of the FinePix Viewer always running the background on my computer so that when I put the 4800 Zoom into it’s cradle and turn on the power, the FinePix Viewer automatically starts up and I can immediately move, erase, or modify my pictures. With many of my pictures, I’ve just stored them on my computer or I’ve burned them to a CD-ROM instead of having them printed out on paper. That way, I can always save them for printing later but in the meantime I can view them on my computer whenever I want to.
A Very Fine FinePix
|If you’re in the market for a good, all-around digital camera and you wouldn’t mind an extra bell or whistle, the FujiFilm FinePix 4800 Zoom is a fantastic purchase. Looking at the pictures of the camera online, I assumed that the camera was going to be a fairly good size. I was surprised when I opened the box and found that it was only 3.1 inches wide by 3.8 tall and only 1.4 inches thick! All that power packed into one small and lightweight package. The FinePix 4800 Zoom is certainly a fine digital camera.|
| I have always considered a good utilities application to be essential to smooth computing. A utilities application is designed to help you keep your computer running trouble and virus-free. One of the most popular utility application suites is Norton SystemWorks from Symantec.
The version I’m reviewing for this column is Norton SystemWorks 2002 Professional Edition.
A Digital Utility Belt
A utility application suite can help keep your PC out of trouble by detecting problems early and providing the tools to fix those problems. Most of us don’t have the time or patience to baby-sit our computers – we want them to work perfectly when we need them to work. But just like any machine, our computers need to be attended to periodically. Think of it like changing your car oil every 3,000 miles.
Norton SystemWorks 2002 Profession Edition offers several great tools for your digital utility belt.
First, no computer system these days should be without virus protection. Norton AntiVirus 2002 is included in SystemWorks and you can’t get much better protection than that. The labs at Symantec work very hard to stay on top of the latest and most threatening computer viruses out there and you’ll benefit from their hard work with Norton AntiVirus 2002. The program can automatically connect over the Internet to download the latest file updates so that your computer is protected against the most recent threats. I usually choose to update my “virus definitions” manually but that’s not a good idea because I could easily forget and get caught by a nasty computer virus. Smarter users can have Norton AntiVirus automatically check for any new virus definitions every time they log onto the Internet – which is a good idea.
Not only that, but Norton AntiVirus 2002 will scan your inbound and outbound e-mail. This is good news if you’re in danger of receiving an e-mail that contains a virus. Furthermore, your friends and family will appreciate the fact that when and if you do get a virus, Norton AntiVirus will stop if from being sent out by e-mail to other people. There are many options that you can select in Norton AntiVirus 2002 so that you can make sure your computer enjoys maximum protection.
Second, Norton SystemWorks 2002 includes Norton Utilities 2002 – a catchall name for several great tools such as “Speek Disk” and “WinDoctor.” Speed Disk will go through your hard disk and “optimize” its performance. This procedure is similar to defragging your hard drive but I’ve always considered Speed Disk to be much faster and more thorough.
Norton Utilities also includes one of my favorite tools called WinDoctor. This handy little tool will scan files and shortcuts that are particularly important to the operation of your Windows Operating System and will clean up stuff that isn’t needed or repair files that might have become damaged. I’ve used WinDoctor for many years and I’ve never had a problem with it erasing something that was important. I really like the peace of mind I get when I run WinDoctor and know that Windows is operating at tip-top shape.
Another tool in Norton Utilities is Disk Doctor which is really good to run if you think your hard drive is acting strangely. Disk Doctor runs tests that are similar to Scan Disk, but Disk Doctor is able to diagnose and repair many more issues than Scan Disk.
Third, Norton SystemWorks 2002 provides several cleanup functions with Norton CleanSweep 2002. As you use your computer, “virtual dust” can build up in the form of temporary files, cache files, and even some files that get left behind by programs that you un-install. Norton CleanSweep will happily scan your hard drive and present you with a list of files that it determines can be erased. You don’t have to worry about erasing something important if you leave SystemWorks’ “Safety Sweep” on – this option won’t let you erase anything marked in a yellow warning color which signifies that there might be a possibility that the file will be needed for something later on.
Lastly, Norton SystemWorks 2002 Professional Edition comes with Norton Ghost 2002 which is a nifty little tool that will allow you to “clone” your hard drive to another hard drive, or even create a perfect image of your hard disk for emergency backups. Basically, Norton Ghost will take a big snapshot of your entire hard drive and remember the way everything looks. That way if your computer crashes, you can use the “ghost” of your hard drive to restore it to its full operating glory.
Boot Up and Install
Norton SystemWorks 2002 Professional Edition comes prepared to work right out of the box. The program is on a “bootable” CD-ROM which means that if you set your BIOS correctly and you put the CD-ROM in your computer before you turn it on, Norton SystemWorks will boot up straight from the CD. This is great idea if you think you have a serious virus on your computer that has infected the boot sector. I opted to do this scan of my system by booting from the Norton CD-ROM just for kicks. The process went great except that it took about 4 hours and 39 minutes to scan 4 megabytes worth of my data. It was a little inconvenient since I didn’t have a virus, but I would have welcomed the delay if Norton had found something and fixed it for me. Once that was done, the actual installation of SystemWorks 2002 went great.
My first action after installing SystemWorks 2002 was to turn off several default settings. Some of Norton’s default settings are a little bothersome to me, but I can see how they might be helpful to other users. First, I tell SystemWorks that I don’t want any tests or scans to run automatically – I want to have complete manual control over everything. While this may just be a pride issue with me, SystemWorks will allow you schedule periodic scans of your hard drive so that your computer is always running at its full potential.
Another feature of SystemWorks 2002 that can run in the background is the System Doctor. This little window can give you a lot of interesting information about your computer like CPU usage, memory usage, and Internet connectivity. While this information is interesting, it’s not necessarily always helpful. Plus your computer might slow down a little while it’s continuously feeding information to the System Doctor.
Checkups are a Good Thing
To be sure, there are many other utility applications on the market and the Internet that claim to provide the protection and tools found in Norton SystemWorks. I’ve just never found anything that does the job as good as SystemWorks. Plus, I’ve always been a fan of the user-friendly interface that Norton provides for SystemWorks which makes is easy to pick and choose the utilities you want to run on your computer.
If you use a computer and haven’t taken the time to install a good solid utility application suite, then do yourself and your computer a favor and grab a copy of Norton SystemWorks 2002 Professional. Norton released the 2002 version to be compatible with Windows XP but it will work with all versions of Windows except 95.
Questions From Readers
This last section of my monthly column is reserved for “questions from readers.” I enjoy reading e-mails from all readers and I’m always happy to offer some legal-tech advice. Please feel free to e-mail me ([email protected]) with any questions, suggestions, comments, or any helpful tips and tricks that you might have relating to technology used in the practice of law. I’ll personally respond to your e-mails and then summarize our discussions for everyone else. I’ve found that if one person has a tech-question, it’s a sure bet that others do too. Thanks for reading.
Question : I enjoyed your new column, and look forward to your future efforts. One question that several attorneys here have posed, and which I believe must have an answer, concerns preserving email that has become important to a deal (whether as an actual electronic contract, or simply as the background information). Informally, many of us simply create subfiles of our inbox, but that is neither efficient nor secure enough for what have become the “originals” of legal documents. Are you aware of a software solution for preserving email messages that will keep them available for future use? Thank you.
Answer : Thank you for your kind words and I appreciate you reading my column. I am excited about writing for LLRX.com and I look forward to my future reviews.
You have a great question that I believe faces a lot of people in the legal profession. As much as I support “paperless” solutions, unfortunately the best answer I can give you on preserving e-mail is to print it out and stick them in a manila folder. In fact, many websites I found on this topic from government sources and other legal environments instruct their readers to do this. But even after saying that, I do have a couple of “digital” solutions…
First, if you use Outlook as I do, I will often “Export” a sub-folder in my main Inbox if I want to preserve the e-mails inside. In other words, I set up a sub-folder for a particular client or issue (such as what you alluded to in your e-mail) and then once I am done with the issue, I will click File, Import and Export, and export that particular sub-folder as a .pst file into an archived folder on my hard drive or network server. If I ever need those e-mails again, I simply Import the folder back into Outlook and use what I need. I know this is sort of a primitive solution but it is the best I can think of irrespective of third-party software applications.
If you are interested in making a purchase of some extra software, it’s obviously going to depend on your office’s current software set-up. If you are on a SQL server and use something like PCDOCS, then there should be some option to manage and preserve e-mail through PCDOCS. If you run something like WORLDOX, they appear to have a great little feature called DropZone that will let you preserve such documents as e-mail in a nifty little interface simply by dragging them onto the DropZone icon.
Other than that, you might try some kind of e-mail management/organizer program such as the Nelson E-Mail Organizer.