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Can a Computer be Beautiful?

This post, like some of my earlier posts regarding computer software for family law attorneys, focuses not on family law topics themselves, but rather on a recent switch I made to Apple computers in my office, and information for anyone considering doing the same.

I had gotten to the point where, to say the least, I had begun to become a bit frustrated using the computer in my office — programs slowing down, things not always working. I looked at solving the problem by buying a new windows pc — I’ve used windows computers for a long time; and up until the past several months had not thought much of changing.

As I looked at new computers, I started to consider an Apple computer. They’re really pretty machines; the operating system seemed enjoyable to use; I wasn’t liking the new Windows operating system. One point of view could be that it’s not so important to enjoy using the computer you use; it’s a work tool; work’s not supposed to be enjoyable — that’s why they call it work. But there is something to having nice things, a pleasant work environment/experience, even for attorneys; or maybe even a Feng Shui notion of organizing a work environment in a positive way.

Apart from that, so far the computer works really well — fast, no slow downs, freezes, crashes, etc. The model is a 15.4 inch Macbook Pro — comes with a new (fourth generation) i7 processor, solid state hard drive (which helps the computer run quickly). Some of the programs I use, in particular FinPlan, only run on a Windows computer, and there is a program called Parallels that pretty easily lets you run windows programs on your Apple computer.

The screen on the Apple notebooks produces a beautiful — they call it “Retina” display — has so many pixels per square inch that our eyes can’t see the separate pixels, versus most monitors these days that are not able to produce that kind of display. The high pixels per square inch, besides producing a pretty display, supposedly also cut down on eye strain. To me the display does look good, better than the monitors I use.

I’ve been using dual monitors in my office — it helps to have a second screen, e.g. to look at a document I’m referring to in a pleading I’m preparing. I think I’m going to try using the laptop along with an iPad as a second monitor — there’s an “app” called Air Display that lets you do that. Supposedly — at least according to some reports I’ve seen, the Macbook Pro and iPad retina displays produce images equivalent to what you see on a printed page — will be a bit of a different experience — looking at the pages up close versus more at distance on monitors.

There have been a couple other benefits to this change so far — new Apple computers come with Apple’s productivity programs — iWorks, which includes their word processing program Pages, which I’ve found to be good for work so far. I had been using WordPerfect for about 30 years, and to me the program, even with updates was starting to seem to not work as well as in the past.  I like the feature in WordPerfect that lets you easily see formatting codes in a document — Pages has that feature, and also an easy to use process for including outlines in a document, for example in a pleading.

The other benefit has been my starting to try out the presentation program that comes with the computer — Keynote, as way to prepare for hearings or trial; and to take an iPad into a hearing with my outline/notes on that versus printed out sheets of paper. The program lets you insert images or other files into your presentation — e.g. a statute section, or full reproduction of an appellate case. It seems that many attorneys have moved toward using trial presentation software on a laptop or iPad, and think I’ll give that a try.

So, it may seem like a lot of thought to put into computer hardware and software, but am enjoying the change.


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