5 THINGS YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW TO PROTECT YOUR LAW FIRM FROM HEARTBLEED

blue-red-cables-heartAs an attorney you work with sensitive client documents. Whether you entrust those documents to a file cabinet in your office or a cloud service, like Dropbox or Box, the onus is on you to safeguard your client’s information. Using cloud services provides a huge benefit to large and small businesses alike and have been embraced by many attorneys and firms. But when there is a serious security breach like Heartbleed, it’s imperative that you have a basic understanding of what happened, what it means to you, and what it could mean for your clients.

How it works

Heartbleed is the result of a bug in the “OpenSSL” encryption mechanism, which is widely used across the Internet by websites both large and small. This bug has been present on web servers across the Internet for several years. Hackers could have taken advantage of this vulnerability in the past, if they had found it themselves before it was publically announced on April 7th 2014. The bug allows malicious hackers to submit a specific request to a web server that triggers the server to respond with much more information than it should. This additional information could be meaningless letter and numbers or it could be sensitive information from website visitors including usernames and passwords, credit card information, or other sensitive and private data.

What this means to you

It is possible that hackers could have retrieved any information that you have exchanged with a website affected by Heartbleed. The data retrieved would have been in relatively small chunks so it is not likely that complete documents would have been compromised. Hackers would primarily be looking for usernames, passwords, and other personal or financial credentials.

How to protect yourself

  1. Check to see if the websites you use were affected by Heartbleed
    LastPass, a company that offers a secure password service, has a webpage you can use to see if the websites you frequent were, or are, affected by the Heartbleed vulnerability at https://lastpass.com/heartbleed/. Many companies have already sent emails to their customers and/or released public statements. If you have any questions about the security of the websites you use you may also want to reach out to them for comment.

  2. Change your passwords
    As a precaution, even websites known to be unaffected by Heartbleed are recommending that users change their password. When was the last time you changed your passwords? You may want to take this opportunity to change them now and set a reminder on your calendar to change them on a set schedule.

  3. Use a password manager like LastPass
    Since you’re changing your passwords, now is a perfect time to evaluate secure password managers like LastPass, https://lastpass.com/. Services like LastPass help you to:

      • Keep track of all of your passwords across all of the websites you use
      • Make it easy to change and not have to remember all of your passwords
      • Use a different password for every website you use without having to remember each one
      • Encourage you to easily make use of very long and complex passwords

 

  1. Consider notifying your own clients
    In some cases, you might consider putting your own client’s minds at ease by notifying them that you are aware of Heartbleed and that you’ve checked with your partners and service providers to ensure that their systems are now protected against this vulnerability, especially if you use a secure client portal.

  2. Be vigilant
    Monitor any web service accounts that you have for suspicious activity, such as Dropbox, Box, your bank and credit card accounts. Keep a close eye on them as a precaution and if you notice suspicious activity change your password immediately and notify the company.

ABA TECHSHOW 2014 Run Down

ABA TECHSHOW RUN DOWN 2014

Once you’ve been to ABA TECHSHOW you know that there is no other conference quite like it. It is a 2.5 day blitz of CLE presentations, dinners, and technology products all documented in real time through every conceivable social media channel. The goal for most of us is just to keep up, and absorb as much as we can, chatting until we are hoarse and tired enough to sleep for a week. So without further ado, let’s recap!

TECHSHOW Kick-Off

Lexthink.1, kicked off ABA TECHSHOW 2014 with a lighting round of 10 speakers delivering their message in 6 minutes through 20 image centric slides. This year we saw a delightful mix of new speakers including three women: Leila Kanani of Intermix Legal Group presented “MomLaw and the 50% Solution,”; Yael Citro of LawPal delivered “Stop Working Like It’s 1983.” ; and Gwynne Monahan of the ABA LTRC had us asking “what does a strawberry pop tart and your law firm have in common?” from her session “The Data Life Raft: From Walmart to your Law Firm.”

The evening closed with a word from Matt Homann declaring that this would be the last year of Lexthink.1. We’ll all be waiting to see how Mr. Homman re-creates this fun event.

Dominating Digital Documents

Advanced manipulation of the digital word is here. Document assembly, OCR, dictation and editing tools made their presence known on the ABA TECHSHOW Expo floor this year. New and existing tools you may not have heard of are changing the way attorneys prepare and perfect their work.

Document assembly allows you to automate a form or template by taking pieces of variable information and turning them into form fields. Filling in these fields then generates a new and unique document, without tedious copying and pasting. Examples of this could be an establishing an LLC, or creating a living will, contract, or an agreement. What makes this year so exciting is that we are not only seeing integrations with case management solutions like Clio, Rocket Matter, My Case & Smokeball, but we are also seeing stand alone solutions that any attorney can use to save time, increase efficiency and reduce error. A newcomer to the document assembly party is a tool called Doxserá (from the makers of The Form Tool) which uses previously written clauses to complete forms and agreements for the attorney by answering a series of questions.

On the editing front, Wordrake, can edit and proofread your documents with intelligence from leading legal writing coach Gary Kinder. Beyond correcting spelling and punctuation, this tool suggests word choice and reduction of superflous language. Dictation tools continue to engrain themselves into software and automation platforms, the most notable this year being Big Hand’s acquisition of Esquire Innovations. The dictation giant aims to combine the power of dictation with automated legal documents and forms offered by Esquire.

Finally pen to digital paper is now more refined than ever. The Sony Digital Paper device was a big hit at the Worldox booth, with tablet form and elegant function translating your handwriting into ready to review documents.

The Cloud Also Rises

Cloud vendors have often debuted at ABA TECHSHOW. In 2008 we saw the entrance of Rocket Matter and Clio. Next came My Case.  Now enter round 3 of cloud apps and services. Newcomers to the SaaS practice management space include Lexis Nexis – Firm Manager and Thomson Reuters – Firm Central.  Others include CaseTrek, JuraLaw ,CosmoLex and Time59.   Hybrid cloud services, which  marry the offline capability of desktop tools with the backup and data sync features of SaaS products such as Smokeball, Viivo, Tabs 3 (Tabs 3 Connect) and Amicus (Amicus Cloud) also had a big presence.

Off the Floor… App of the Week.

If you didn’t attend a Taste of TECHSHOW dinner you missed out! Reid Trautz wowed us all by letting his iPhone do the talking… and walking. At dinner Reid set his iPhone down in the middle of our circular dinner table and let the dance begin. We watched as iPhone app Cycloramic kicked into gear! The iPhone started buzzing away, sequentially turning to face every person, cycling a full 360 degrees to compile a single group photo of everyone at our table. In one word: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Hipsters, photo-bombers and selfie lovers unite!

Take Aways

Lessons from ABA TECHSHOW sessions and the Keynote Speech by Rick Klau.

The customer is not always right. If you went to get your car repaired, would you tell the mechanic how to change the parts, which ones to order, and how long it should take? No, because if you could, you would do it yourself. The same is true for your clients. While it is important to hear them out and listen to what they think they should pay don’t let that deter you from pricing by what you know to be fair and reasonable.

Your services and time are valuable. Everyone knows that. What the average client often doesn’t factor in is the residual effect that hiring a knowledgeable attorney has. Will working with you help them avoid tearing their family apart during the custody process? Can you help them avoid penalties or taxes by using certain estate planning strategies? Are you able to advocate for an employee’s labor issue without it ruining their daily life at work? It’s about preservation and peace of mind.

It’s about selling value. The commoditization of the legal industry isn’t happening, it’s already here. And in the words of Mark Britton, Founder of Avvo you need to ask yourself: “What is your cheeseburger?”.  Think of an entry level product that your clients know they need and want at a fixed price. Then when selling it to them explain why a Happy Meal might be a better option. The Happy Meal is your full service offering, or combination of services that delivers a higher level of certainty or peace of mind. A client may know she needs filings for an LLC, but had no idea that a strong business foundation also includes an operating agreement, maybe an employee contract, and various other documents. The same can be said for estate planning. A simple power of attorney is the doorway into a larger conversation about living wills and asset protection.

“Just Say No” Nancy Reagan may have coined the famous phrase in relation to drug use but it rings true in business today. As business owners you may feel pressure to take on work outside of what you are comfortable with in order to pay the bills. However, taking on a difficult client or questionalbe case means that you neglec twork that leads to growth and success.  Spending an hour on the phone with a troublesome client you knew you shouldn’t have taken on now means you can’t get to your marketing to do list. Neglecting marketing and networking may  mean you might have a lull in new business while churning your wheels with a client you don’t even like. Still skeptical? Read this.

Irrelevance applies to those who are not willing to change. So lastly… Think Big.

In many ways what used to work in the business of law isn’t working any more, so lawyers need to imagine what tomorrow will look like and how to get there. Use data to drive decisions, fuel new business models and leverage the combined power of your peers to show the world how things have changed.

Hope to see you next year. Until then I look forward to pushing forward into the future inch by inch, and hope you are too.

Five ways to have a better morning.

Morning StretchFor those of us who struggle with mornings, hit quadruple snooze until our iPhone alarms lap each other, and despise the early morning meeting; Here are five ways to get your day in gear, and on the road with time to spare.

1. Get a real alarm clock and place it across the room.

It’s been said that a trip to the gym is easier once you put your gym shoes on. The same is true for getting out of bed. Once you’re actually up, and have walked across the room, you have to make a conscious decision to crawl back under the covers and go to sleep. Snoozing your phone alarm on the night stand, or silencing an alarm right next to you is offers little resistance to oversleeping.

2. Pre-make your breakfast.

Having something delicious to look forward to in the morning is a great motivator. Here are a few easy to make morning meals that are both healthy and commute friendly.

i. Granola Parfaits – Three Ways

ii. Easy Muffin Tin Mini-Omelets

iii. Freezer Friendly Breakfast Sandwiches

iv. Overnight Slow Cooker Oatmeal

3. Drink a glass of water.

One tall glass of water first thing in the morning will do much more for your energy level than any amount of espresso. Drinking water jump starts your metabolism, digestive system and increases brain function.

4. Lay out your clothes and effects the night before.

Scrambling around the house looking for a sock, your keys, or standing in front of your closet wondering what you should wear eats up precious time, creates stress and in turn… makes you frantic and late. Regain those minutes and start your day calm and on time.

5. Research your destination before bed.

There’s nothing worse than driving around a courthouse or client location you’ve never been too, already running late due to traffic. Taking 5 minutes to run through your route, and find local parking ahead of time works wonders. You’ll not only know when you need to leave, but where to park when you arrive. Extra credit: Save time & money finding Chicago parking with SpotHero.com, it’s like the Hotels.com of parking garages.

Time Out for Health – A Chicago Traveler’s Guide

Tips for a Healthier Chicago ExperienceChicago Travelers Guide to Healthy Choices

You will find few people as passionate about sharing our great city as me. In previous years I’ve written guides on where to eat, shop and talk. This year I’d like to share something different.

Living a healthy lifestyle means making it a part of everyday, even when you’re traveling. So here are a few ways to stay active and balance out those heavy… but delicious Chicago dinners.

 

Eat well: Lighter daytime meals keep you energized and guilt free at dinner.

Healthy, fast and easy choices all nearby. 

Eat Fit: 1151 S State St. | 312-566-9220 | Menu

Salads, wraps, smoothies & quinoa galore. Inside the FFC health club.

Yolk: 1120 S Michigan Ave. | 312-789-YOLK | Menu

Don’t let the name fool you, this Michigan Ave favorite serves up some of the best fit-breakfast in the whole city.

Pret A Manger: 108 S Michigan Ave | 312-873-0416 | Menu

Gluten free, vegan friendly, quick & convenient. Small portions and great soup allow you to mix & match your way to health.

Native Foods Café: 218 S Clark St.| 312-332-6332 | Menu

The über delicious local café for Vegan, Vegetarian and Gluten-Free choices.

Freshii: 17 E Monroe St. (Inside the Palmer House Hilton)|312-419-1777 | Menu

Fresh, Fast, Delicious. Quinoa bowls, breakfast burritos, kale chips and smoothies galore.

Meli Café: 500 S Dearborn |312-834-0500| Menu

Greek for honey, Meli never falls short on flavor. A full service juice bar, Almond Milk Hot Chocolate and more salad choices than you’ll know what to do with. Morning till night.

Karyn’s on Green: 130 S. Green St. | 312-226-6155 | Menu

You love the earth, you really really love the earth, and you want everything you touch, taste and consume to contribute to a greater goal of good. Karyn’s is your home away from home. The first all vegetarian option in Chicago offers a culinary treat of specialties. Not to be missed!

Kramer’s Health Foods: 230 S Wabash | 312-922-0077 | Menu

Forget your vitamins? Juicing and need a beet & wheatgrass fix? Kramer’s got you covered. Two stories of nutritional goodness & full service juice / lunch bar.

Trader Joes – 1147 S Wabash | 312-588-0489

Always pressed for time? Stocking your mini-fridge with premade salads & healthy choices make eating easy. Grab a bottle of Two Buck Chuck and throw your own BYOB party back at the hotel.

 

Stay active: A 1 hour workout is only 4% of your day.

Each of the following clubs offers a free guest pass, all you have to do is show up.

FFC – 1151 S State St. | 312-360-1151| Class Schedule

Early morning Spin Class, craving kettle bells? No need to fall out of your routine, FFC is one of Chicago’s premier clubs, with fantastic group fitness instructors.

Chicago South Loop Runners Club: Morning Run Meet-up Details

Always run in the morning, but don’t know the area? No worries! An avid group of runners is ready to take you along for the ride! Join this group of locals on their near daily run through the south loop & lakeshore.

X Sport Fitness819 S State St. | 312-294-0500 | Class Schedule

Nike Training Club, Dance Fitness, Aqua Fit, and Zumba classes all live under the X Sport roof. Squeeze in a 30 or 45min class and head to dinner ready to take on that 22oz steak with confidence.

Core Power Yoga: 555 W Roosevelt Rd (Rooftop of Best Buy) |312-829-9642 |Class Schedule

Beginner and advanced Yogi’s welcome! Calm yourself and senses with heated & non-heated yoga classes, set against a near 300 degree view of the city skyline. Breathtaking… in more ways than one.

UFC Gym South Loop8 E 9th Street | 312-922-8269 | Class Schedule

TECHSHOW Roommate getting on your nerves? Knock out the stress, not your comrade with these high energy but beginner friendly boxing classes.

The Foundry – Cross Fit:  730 S Clark St. | 312-566-7201| Class Schedule

Cross Fitters… you know those crazy people you see throwing tires and climbing ropes. If you haven’t tried it, make sure you’re free the next morning. Because you won’t be able to move. That said, if we have any Cross Fit die-hards in the room… we’ve got you covered.

JUST ART WALK! | Grant Park Sculpture Collection Guide & Maps

Even 20 minutes around the hotel or park will help keep you focused and energized, especially after a heavy TECHSHOW meal. Lucky for us, Grant Park is across the street and filled with an impressive collection of sculptures to refresh even the most weary smartphone attached eyes.

New and Free! How To… Sessions

Ever wish you could just get the straight forward lowdown on a product or service? Want to be more productive but can’t find the time to read the 100′s of articles telling you how?

Meet our How To… Session Series

Chicago Bar members have unlimited FREE access to our How To… Session Series. Filled with concise, specific video courses on products, services, technology and efficiency tips aimed to help you and your law practice. 

Register to attend a live course with me for FREE.  Up next: 

How To… Easily Prepare Documents with Draftonce 

How To… Manage a Growing Real Estate Practice – Led by Jane Oxley, President of Smokeball 

How To… Use Cloud Computing in a Law Office – Led by Larry Port, CEO of Rocket Matter

We add between 2-4 new sessions per month, so please check back often. I hope to see you in class! 

HT Live registration

How To… Live registration

 

Two words you need to use more often.

Allow me to reintroduce you to two of the most powerful words in your vocabulary: http://www.dreamstime.com/-image16386463

No & Help

These two words can dramatically impact the success of your career, business and quality of life. First try to ignore your brain’s initial perception of the words themselves.

Repeat after me “No is not a dirty word.” Early in my career the CEO and founder of the technology firm where I worked said this to me on our elevator ride out of the building one day. He had entered the elevator, calm, cheerful and ready to take on the weekend. While I was buried in my email, phone buzzing away all while I fished for my keys so I could go and pick up equipment we needed for a weekend project. He explained that sometimes it is better to say no, than to take on something that doesn’t quite fit into your wheelhouse, overload your schedule or step outside of your delivery comfort zone. Even if it’s for an important client. What’s more important to the business and what drives a higher quality of life is focus and execution. As we walked through the building doors, he looks over and says “Say it.” I reluctantly repeated “No is not a dirty word” pausing for a second to really think about it. He smiled, and walked away wishing me a good weekend.

When I got into my car, I began to think about my week. How many of the meetings, projects and tasks could have been more appropriately scheduled, delegated or just plain denied? What other work, business development or client satisfaction goals could have been met with just a little more bandwidth to focus?

It is normal to feel compelled to help with nearly everything co-workers or clients ask for. Realizing that it’s not expected, and sharing honest reasons for saying no is a completely normal course of action. But overburdening yourself, wearing your team too thin, and not making time to concentrate of the basic needs of your business is a recipe for disaster. So, one more time, please repeat after me “No is not a dirty word.”  Look at your schedule today, this week, or upcoming month. Are there projects, meetings or looming deadlines hanging over your head? Maybe some are there because we couldn’t say no? It’s ok, here’s where the second part of our lesson comes in.

Help. A word that we associate with situations that include fire, drowning victims, generally horrible and scary circumstances. In actuality help is a word we should be using on nearly a daily basis. None of us truly understand the power of the human condition, or expanse of our own network until we use this word.

Help isn’t just for emergencies, it’s for collaboration, cooperation, evolution and adaptation. Why bang your head against the wall trying to solve a problem for days, while you relay empty excuses to the client or awaiting parties? Just ask for help. Smoke signal, Facebook, Linked In, Google, You Tube, text, call, email whatever way you feel comfortable reaching out, just do it. Sitting around waiting for a miracle to fall from the sky isn’t going to make it happen. Worse, sitting alone stewing about a problem, wallowing in your own self-doubt, pity or projects only compounds your feelings of despair and desperation. Being a business owner, independent professional or working in an environment where you are isolated a majority of the time makes it easy to get lost in work, forgetting how many wonderful people there are in this world that would be happy to help you. All you have to do is ask.

Asking for help expands your base of knowledge, strengthens existing skills, educates us about new tools and gives us a chance to connect with people. You just have to know where to look and say “Could someone please help me with this? Anyone have any thoughts? I am looking for a mentor to help guide me through my first case. Nearly every single Bar Association or Professional Group has a mentor program, list serve, maybe even a library of help videos. Your LinkedIn network, You Tube Videos, Alumni committee these are just a few of the places you can turn to for easy, accessible and most likely free help.

What’s in it for the other person? How honored would you be if a young attorney called you late in your career? Your practice is winding down, working your way toward retirement when you get a message from a recent Bar graduate looking for a mentor. Ecstatic! A chance to share your experience with someone who’s just getting started offers a fun and engaging way to break up your week. Even better, you’re growing your practice and you hear from an ambitious young attorney that needs a partner firm to help with a case that’s outside of their practice area! Let the conversation begin.

I am always impressed, but never surprised by the outpouring of support and help I see between attorneys and their staff on list serves. Such simple technology, yet so powerful. The ABA’s Solo Sez list serve is probably the most popular free resource… more like lifeline for attorneys everywhere. Post your question, situation or concern and within hours I guarantee you’ll have more responses, suggestions and offers to chat than you’ll know what to do with.

In conclusion: None of us have all of the answers, nor can we be experts at everything. So as we embark into the New Year make a commitment to yourself to use a lot more no and open yourself up to opportunities to grow by asking for help. Your life will be less stressful, creating room to grow and learn. Most importantly you’ll earn the respect of others through being honest about taking on work, or reaching out to ask for help. It’s a good thing.

 

Thank you for sharing your day with us!

Have a no or help story to share? I’d love to hear it! Feel free to post below, or share it with me on Twitter @ChelseyLambert.

All I Want for Christmas is a Smart-Phone-Watch

i'M watch colorsI consider myself to be an early adopter, willing to take a chance on new technology, patient or self-loathing enough to sift through videos when it doesn’t work just right, or do what the commercials promised in 2 seconds flat. But this year, I’m looking for efficiency, function, and style. Specifically and in that order.

Short of having a chip installed in my earlobe (willing trial participant here!) I consider my phone to be an extension of my daily life. It keeps me organized, empowers me to work from anywhere, connects me with loved ones, alerts me of danger and makes me laugh. But… it’s also my biggest nemesis, something in my hand or within reach when I am working, driving, shopping, walking, working out. A buzzing, chirping, blinking distraction, keeping me from being present and engaged. A former colleague of mine once said to our IT team ‘Go ahead, take the BlackBerry out of her hand. Another one will grow back like the Terminator.’ I’m sorry to say, this was not far from the truth, and only got worse when I adopted my first iPhone.

But it’s not just me! The average person checks their smartphone between 110-150 times per day. To text, call, email, read, socialize on social media, escape, and… to check the time. So would it not make perfect sense to bring something you reach for so often to your wrist? Freeing up your hands & eyes for things that came long before the land of internet and iPhones. Like eye contact in meetings, dinner conversation, handshakes, hugs, shopping (like real dig through racks, try on shoes kind of shopping) driving, playing golf, going for a run, you get the idea.

So what’s a girl like me to do with a dilemma like this?

Relocate the distraction.

Watch notifications, while presenting the same information as your phone do not encourage you to reply, respond or react. It would be absurd to think you’ll sit there and type out an email response on your wrist with one finger. For those of us who fell victim to Phantom Vibrations, just seeing what’s going on may ease the anxiety of not knowing what’s happening. Smartphones, while powerful, valuable devices are keeping us from true engagement, participation and impair our spatial awareness.

In short: Sometimes your smartphone makes you act like a jerk. So let’s move our music, message notifications and more out of our hands, away from our faces, and confine them to a place within view… but oddly enough, out of reach.

 

Here are this season’s best of breed Smartwatch solutions. Check them out, and let Santa which one’s on your list. Your loved ones will thank you.

pebblesPebble @Pebble 

The friendliest device out of the bunch Pebble makes Smartphone integration look easy. It’s stylish design, seamless compatibility and near infinite list of customization options offers users all of the sexy features of the other devices for nearly a Benjamin less.

Can: Display notifications of your choice in a layout of your liking, or design your own watch face. Incoming calls, email previews, text messages, calendar appointments, weather and fitness information all presented to you in various layouts. The newly opened Pebble App Store promises to bring even more options to this increasingly popular device. Screen Size: 1.26-inch (144 x 168 pixel epaper display) Camera: Use PebbleCam to control your iPhone camera without a Wi-Fi connection. Reviews Say: Best value, easiest interface. Left to be desired; a built in camera and color display.

Price: $150.00 Works with: Android, iPhone & Windows Phone

 

Galxy Gear in 6 colorsSamsung Galaxy Gear @SamsungMobileUS

The Galaxy Gear definitely looks like the ‘next big thing’ but delivers a surprisingly lack luster list of features, some questionably market ready. Sleek style and catchy colors while attractive are still hard to justify with such a limited feature set.

Can: Make & take Calls, pictures, send texts, play media, check the weather, and dictate commands to S voice (Siri Substitute) utilizing a small but growing number of Galaxy Gear Apps.  Screen Size: 1.6-inch (320×320 pixels) Camera: 1.9-megapixel Reviews Say: S Voice control is slightly delayed & needs some work, speakerphone doesn’t compensate for background noise.

Price: $299.99 Works with: ONLY Samsung Galaxy Note 2, 3 & S4 Mobile Phones

 

metawatchesMetaWatch Strata & Frame @Meta_Watch

Sleek & functional design offers a good distraction from this phone’s limited offering and lack luster display. However the rugged Strata is the only Smartwatch designed for the outdoor enthusiast. Its big sister the MetaWatch Frame offers smoother styling better suited for executives.

Can: Display pertinent notifications through a 4 widget screen; Text, Calls, Weather, Email, GPS info and more. Screen Size: (25mm x 25mm, 96 x 96 pixels) Camera: None Reviews Say: Built to last and withstand true outdoor activity. Limited notifications and widgets aren’t quite what you’d expect from a Smartwatch.

Price: Strata $179.99 | Frame $229.99 Works with: Android & iPhone

 

sony smartwatchesSony SmartWatch 2

Sony didn’t exactly deliver with the second addition to their Smartwatch series. Failure to include a microphone, speaker or camera limits the device’s ability to compete. Redeemed by a growing list of apps and full color, sunlight friendly screen, looks were clearly not an afterthought.

Can: Screen calls, email and text alerts even if you spill a little coffee on its water resistant casing and full color sunlight readable OLCD screen. Screen Size: 1.6-inch (220 x 176 pixels) Camera: None Reviews Say: At first glance a strong alternative to the Galaxy gear, but shaky software and limited compatibility options are definite drawbacks.

Price: $199.00 Works with: Android

 

martian-passport-watchesMartian Passport Watch @MartianWatches

A smartphone watch in disguise the Martian Passport Watch looks more like a James Bond gadget than companion to your iPhone or Android device. Which, for the wearable tech adverse may be a perfect match. The thin OLED strip at the base of the watch face displays notifications while the two buttons on the left side of its Analog face control phone features. Advanced customization options even allow you to adjust the strength of watch vibrations, for the inner perfectionist in all of us.

Can: Make or take calls, notify you of texts, emails, weather, driving directions, social media alerts and as much more as you choose, all managed from your phone. Integration with Siri and Google Now drive most of the commands on this device. Screen Size: 1.53 x 1.46 inch face with a 96 x 16 pixel OLED display bar Camera: Remote camera control only Reviews Say: A gentleman’s smartwatch, straight out of the pages of GQ. Initial set up is a little rocky, but well worth the effort.

Price: $299.00 Works With: Android & iPhone

 

im-Watch-SmartwatchI’m Watch @imcollection

An Italian made luxury Smartwatch for today’s fashion forward techie. This elegant timepiece comes in a variety of precious metals, colors and offers a sunlight friendly color LCD screen.

Can: Customize your full color display & notifications with hundreds of I’m Watch Apps, viewing text, phone, email and other notifications when and how you choose. Screen Size: 1.54-inch (240×240 pixels) Camera: None Reviews Say: Cumbersome set up with less than stellar battery life.

Price: Color Collection $349.00 | Titanium Tech Collection $999.00 | Jewel Collection $1,500.00+ Works with: Android & iPhone

 

Smartwatches to watch for in 2014

The Smartwatch rumor mill is spilling over these days. Keep an eye out for these developing models in the New Year:

The Google Gem: Google’s stepping stone of wearable technology, predicted to prepare consumers for widespread use of Google Glass. With a richer feature set, sleeker design and broader compatibility, experts anticipate the Google Gem will give Samsung’s Galaxy Gear a run for its money, saving buyers $50-100 over the Galaxy Gear.

Apple iWatch: If you saw any of the iWatch Patent diagrams, trademark applications, or other industry fodder circulating earlier this year the iWatch will come as no surprise. Apple may be letting others beat them to market (or figure it out for them) but don’t discount their ability to dominate the consumer marketplace. Should the iWatch arrive in 2014, and look anything like the mock ups we’ve seen online, you can expect to see those long lines of iDiehards camping outside their local Apple store, credit cards in hand.

Last but not least Nokia & Microsoft are rumored to be working on a Windows Phone compatible Smartwatch, offering similar features to their current predecessors.

 

Thank you for sharing your day with us!

If you have an device or app you’d like to share, I’d love to hear it! Feel free to post below, or share it with me on Twitter @ChelseyLambert.

Ten Apps that Send Holiday Cards in a Flash!

Oh no, it happened again!Keep Calm and Happy Holidays

The Holidays are here and your good intentions of sending out holiday cards have been derailed by your busy schedule. The good news is, like almost everything else in our tech-centric lives… there’s an app for that!

Pick your festive favorite, and get those greeting cards out the door and off your to do list.

 

Physical Cards from Your Phone

Does the thought of going to the post office make you cringe? Skip the trip and delegate that task to these apps that print, stamp and send faster than you can say Ho, Ho, Ho!

Ink

A tried and true solution for spreading holiday cheer, Ink has mastered the art of app generated greeting cards. Choose from over 500 designs, add photos, messages and send to anyone in your contact list instantly. Send via, Facebook, Twitter, email, text message or snail mail. Available on: AndroidiPhoneiPad | Price: Free (postage & printing may vary)

Martha Stuart Craft Studio

The Queen of Crafting has an app for almost any creative project, including your last minute holiday cards. It’s easy to get carried away customizing every detail all the way down to the festive glittery ink. Once you’re finished your masterpiece share via email, Facebook, Twitter, create a PDF, print them yourself, or have Snapfish print, stamp and send them for a small fee. Available on: iPhoneiPad | Price: Free (postage & printing may vary)

Red Stamp

Luxe card design on demand. Perfect for the discerning professional Red Stamp offers innumerous templates, finishes and envelope options. Add photos, write custom text, add your logo, or use a ready to go greeting, getting it done fast, and with style. When ready, share, text, email or snail mail your stylish greeting anywhere in the world. Available on: iPhone, iPad, Android | Price: Free (postage & printing may vary)

Thank You Pro

Originally built to send well branded, professional thank you cards, they have added a collection of holiday themed greetings which can be sent to anyone in your address book in just a few taps. Available on: iPhone | Price: Free (postage & printing may vary)

Touchnote Cards

Use your own photos to create everything from simple ecards, social media posts, postcards or printed greeting cards mailed for a small fee. It’s clean design a short list of editing options will keep your project short and sweet. Available on: AndroidiPhoneiPadPrice: Free (postage & printing may vary)

 

Be Green and keep some with eCards

Show the environment some love and send your holiday wishes electronically. These apps make it as easy as reading one of those inappropriate eCards on Facebook.

Artogram

Searching for something beautiful, unique, maybe a little quirky? Artogram’s library of art is created by independent illustrators. Pick a design, customize your message and share via Facebook, Twitter or Text Message. Available on: iPhone & iPad | Price: $1.99

Just Wink

Made by American Greetings, this card library feels like you’re shopping in a Hallmark store. Create personalized cards with your own photos, a short message and signature tool. Once complete send your creation via email, Facebook, snail mail or Text Message for as they say it ‘Instant Greetification.’ Available on: Android, iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook, Windows 8 | Price: Free (postage & printing may vary)

 

Think Outside the Gift Box

Try something non-traditional this season! A postcard, poster or video, showcasing your favorite family members and moments will take center stage among this year’s array of holiday cards.

Postagram

Turn thinking of you, into sharing with you. This slick and seamless app turns a photo into a meaningful postacard, complete with a message from you. Select the contact you’d like to share it with and email, text, or snail mail to your heart’s content. Available on: iPhone, Android | Price: Free (postage & printing may vary)

Phoster

Pictures too ‘larger than life’ for a simple greeting card? Now you can share them in poster size! Use a preexisting template or create your own holiday poster. Share via email, your favorite social network, or print them out for physical posting wherever you like! Available on: iPhone & iPad | Price: $1.99

Elf Dance & Storybots by Jib Jab

There’s nothing more personal than a video of you and your friends dancing through the snow in elf costumes. Cast up to 5 friends or family members in a variety of entertaining holiday situations. Be the center of attention at the kid’s table with Storybots, Jib Jab’s video maker for children, casting your favorite little monsters in a children’s book of their choice. Available on: Elf Dance for iPhone & iPad, Storybots books for iPad, Storybots shorts for iPhone | Price: Free

 

Thank you for sharing your day with us!

If you have an app you’d like to share, we’d love to hear it! Feel free to post below, or share it with us on Twitter @ChelseyLambert.

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