To the people of Mississippi and Louisiana, Katrina is the big one. For south Florida, it is Andrew. But for the people of South Carolina, Hugo is our big hurricane. Hugo was the most intense hurricane ever to strike the US coast north of Florida*.  It killed 35 people in the U.S. and caused billions of dollars in damage.* Everyone who lived through that hurricane has a story to tell and most of us will never forget it. One of the things that made Hugo so unforgettable was that it wasn’t limited to only the coastal communities. Hugo roared inland, cutting a huge swath across South Carolina. Even Charlotte suffered, with parts of the city without power for nearly two weeks.


Today, September 21, is the twenty year anniversary of Hurricane Hugo.  (Since the eye of Hugo actually made landfall near midnight on the 21st, we officially remember both the 21st and 22nd as the Hugo anniversary.)  If you don’t remember Hugo, or you want to reflect on it after the passage of twenty years, the Charleston Post and Courier has posted photos, stories, videos and more online. You can also find links to helpful hurricane preparedness resources there. The SC Bar disaster and emergency preparedness page contains even more links to other resources. Be sure to click the link to request a free copy of the Bar disaster preparedness handbook, Prepare, while you are there (or follow this link).

Perhaps we should set aside September 21 every year to review and update our firm’s disaster procedures. Even solos should do this, particularly where technology is concerned. Everyone should be able to answer this question with certainty: “If something happened to my computer today (theft, hard drive failure, flood, fire) can I be up and running on another computer – with all my previous work and programs – quickly and simply?”  If you can’t answer this question in the affirmative, contact me.

If you were practicing law during Hugo, please comment below and share your memories and tips — they may benefit other lawyers.

Sticky fingers

How can you prevent law office theft, fraud and embezzlement? One way is to be aware of the potential problem areas so that you can be alert and vigilant. Blogger Laura Calloway, the practice management advisor of the Alabama State Bar, has collected an excellent list of procedures you can put in place to prevent problems in your office. Example: Always reconcile bank statements within two days of their arrival in the office. To see the whole list, go to the September 16 post on The Last Word.

Travel diversions

Is there a better way to spend time on a cloudy Friday than checking out some fun and fascinating websites? (OK, probably there is, but humor me.) My new Sites for Sore Eyes column (co-written with Jim Calloway) is in the latest edition of GPSolo Technology eReport.  The topic? Travel sites you may never have heard of.  Most are useful to one degree or another, and some are rather humorous. I don’t know why, but I find it amusing that there is a website devoted to finding clean public restrooms around the globe (The Bathroom Diaries).  This eReport contains an article on iPhone apps and one on SaaS (‘software as a service’ – everyone’s favorite new catchphrase). There’s also a review of the 2009 iteration of QuickBooks for the Mac. Be sure to check out eReport whenever it comes out – usually quarterly. It’s always free and online.

tech eReport

Digital Dictation

If your old Dictaphone has given up the ghost, take a look at Hardware for Digital Dictation and Speech Recognition by Britt L. Knuttgen.  Britt offers valuable advice on brands and models making it easier to decide what to purchase for either dictation or voice recognition software. If you don’t use dictation often, or don’t have an assistant to transcribe for you, what about using a virtual transcription service? SpeakWrite and QuikSek are two to explore.


Windows 7

The long awaited new Windows operating system, Windows 7, will be released to retail stores and PC makers October 22, 2009 – a mere six weeks from now. Many Vista users are eagerly anticipating what some have called “Vista Fixed.”

Many XP users (and there are a lot of us) have been waiting for anything but Vista to come along.  So, how will you know if you should make the move? I began by reading 10 things you should know about moving from Windows XP to Windows 7 on TechRepublic.  Among other important things, it spells out how XP users will have to do a clean install of Win7, or else install it in a separate partition on their harddrive.  A “clean” installation will replace your current operating system. The only thing left of XP will be in a folder that Microsoft creates called “Windows old.”  Your applications (your software programs) will not be viable! The good news is that Windows 7 reportedly is not a huge resource hog, so if your XP computer is three years old or less, it probably will be able to run Windows 7.

Vista users will fare better – they will be able to migrate from Vista to Win7 with settings and files intact. For either Vista users or XP users, I recommend reading Step-by-Step: Windows 7 Upgrade and Migration on Microsoft TechNet. Good luck!