50 Tech Tips You Absolutely Should Know summary
Hello everyone! Thanks to everyone who attended the 50 Tech Tips You Absolutely Should Know webinar training last week! For those of you who didn’t, keep reading for some great tips! Videos of each section will be released every two weeks and added to this post.
Our presenters included:
- Liz Keith from Pro Bono Net
- Leah Peabbles from Colorado Legal Services
- Anna Hineline from Legal Assistance of Western New York
- Kim Marshall from Arkansas Legal Services Partnership
- and Brian Rowe from LSNTAP
To kick things off, Keith talked about a few of her favorite tech tools:
Google Reverse Image Look Up allows the user to search an image, rather than key words. Using this tool, you can find other sites that use stock images you’re considering using on your site, or find other sizes of those images.
Goo.gl is similar to bit.ly, in that it can create shortened links. In addition, it will produce statistics on how many people use the link and where they were referred from. It can also generate QR codes.
Embed a YouTube video to a Specific Start Time to avoid unnecessary parts of lengthy videos.
Broadcast an event using Ustream with your own channel, hosted on Ustream or on a third party like Facebook. It’s useful for conferences and training, as a community forum, or for conducing interviews.
Wordle.net is a tool for creating attractive word-based infographics. The user simply inserts a URL or copy & pastes text and the tool creates a “word cloud” with the most frequently-used words in the text displayed largest. The user can adjust how it looks.
Easel.ly is another easy-to-use infographic creator with a group of templates that are free to use.
Infogr.am is a slightly more sophisticated inforgraphic tool than Easel.ly. An alternative is visual.ly, which can create a weekly infographic of your site’s statistics. To see some good uses of infographics, see the Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI)’s Pinterest boards.
Goodwill Community Foundation has a number of free tutorials (in both English and Spanish) on common pieces of office software like Excel and Word.
DigitalGov University also has a number of technical lessons ranging from constructing an API to social media. It’s directed at federal employees and live trainings frequently require a fee, but archived trainings are mostly free.
Next, Peabbles talked about a few of her favorite tools:
WinMerge is a free, open-source tool for comparing folders and documents to see which has updates or differences.
The Snipping Tool is a built-in feature of Windows 7 which allows the user to take quick screenshots.
Password Tips include not writing down your passwords, not auto-saving passwords, not using common words like “dog,” and changing passwords often. Try using Password Savvy to create more complicated and harder-to-hack passwords.
Print to PDF in Outlook overcomes Mac-to-PC or other formatting barriers, since almost everyone can open PDFs. Essentially, it creates a PDF of your emails that can be sent to someone else.
Fences Desktop Organization creates folders to help organize a messy (computer) desktop.
Format Factory is an easy way to convert files from one file type to another, as well as resize photos.
Unshorten.It is an easy, free way to unshorten links if you’re skeptical of where they came from or if they’re trustworthy.
Toogl is a really easy-to-use, free online timekeeping device.
7-Zip is a free .zip file extractor.
Draw in Firefox with a browser add-in. It can help if you’re taking screenshots, demonstrating a website, or doing some other kind of online presentation.
Next, Hineline talked about a few of her favorite tools:
support.google.com is a go-to place to answer any questions about Google products.
Email as Tasks in Task List in Gmail; your email is simply added to your task list.
Two-step Verification has become popular security measure. It sends you a code via text message when you log into your email or other accounts via a new computer as an extra layer of security.
Chrome Remote Desktop is a free app for Google Chrome. It allows someone to both see your screen and take control of your computer. This is a great resource for tech support or anyone who works from multiple computers or places.
Single Sign On allows you to use a third-party account (like Facebook, Yahoo, Gmail, Twitter, etc) to log into other sites. So if you’re already logged onto Gmail from your account, you can sign on to other linked accounts with a single click.
Enlocked is an email encryption service. It strikes a nice balance between being secure and being usable - it’s not the most secure or the most usable, but it’s a little of each. Both email and attachments are encrypted, and the recipient can either download a plugin to read the email, or they can log in to enlocked.com to read the email.
Passpack stores passwords and allows you to share them with other users.
Asana is a project manager in which users create workspaces to which other users can be invited; within workspaces you can create specific tasks. Asana is free up to a certain number of users.
Next, Marshall shared a few of her favorite tips, focused on content management:
Borrow content from ftc.gov, dhs.gov, fema.gov or your state’s attorney general website. Visitors can order brochures or other information for free, as well as find videos and other content that are free to use.
www.sharelaw.org is a great, secure site which allows access to other legal aid sites from which users can borrow content.
www.lawhelpinteractive.org also has some great pro se resources which you can download and borrow for your own program.
Quick and Easy Fact Sheets are pre-formatted templates to help attorneys write content for the site.
Plain Language Tools include WriteClearly.org, PlainLanguage.gov, and LSNTAP’s Readability & Designing for Low Literacy Tools. Aim for a fifth- to eighth-grade reading level (and keep an eye out for LSNTAP’s upcoming Web Accessibility Guide!)
Quick Writing Tips include short sentences, bullet points/numbers, large and easy-to-understand headings, lots of white space, a 1-2 page maximum, and getting straight to the point.
Print Friendly allows you to view a website with only text; no sidebars, videos, or anything else distracting. It can also create PDFs.
QuickMeme.com creates easy memes that you can use within your office to encourage each other or just take a break!
Songza is a great site for streaming music. Users a presented with a set of options for pre-made playlists based on what day and time it is and what activity they’re engaged in. For example, a weekday morning might feature “drinking coffee,” “working,” or “waking up happy,” each of which will present a series of genres and individual playlists to choose from.
Finally, Keith presented the tech tips garnered from a survey sent to the LSTech email list:
UltraVNC from Michael Bowen of Community Legal Services allows you to use your PC to remotely control someone else’s.
colorfilter.wickline.org and read-able.com from Liz Leman of LSNTAP help the user with accessibility issues. The former displays a website the way that a colorblind person would see it, and the latter tests the readability of your website.
ninite.com from Luke Elzinga or Montana Legal Services Association is a great go-to site for setting up new computers because it displays software packages that are frequently downloaded together.
Mention.net from Michele Nicolet of the Shriver Center is a social media “listening” tool. It can send you alerts when your organization is mentioned on a set of sites that you specify. It can also share, export, and analyze data. It’s free up to 500 mentions per month.
Google Forms from Michael Hofrichter of the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program helps to create all kinds of forms: registration, volunteer information forms, and so on. The interface is similar to SurveyMonkey and doesn’t require any specific technical expertise to use. Data is tracked in a Google spreadsheet.
WorkFlowy from McGregor Smyth of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest is a powerful list-making tool. Each item on a list can become its own list, with separate pages and items.
Tech support care packages from Jillian Theil of Pro Bono Net creates specialized groups of tech support “care packages” to help parents or grandparents understand how to tell if emails are suspicious, how to unsubscribe from newsletters, and more.
Use OneNote 2010 for screenshots from Chuck Henegar of Pine Tree Legal Assistance. OneNote makes screenshots very simple.
Create a tech tips program of your own from Patrick Reynolds of Pro Bono Net. Use a newsletter or other forums for organizations to share tech tips internally.
Have a great day!