Making the Most of Wireless
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Making the Most of Wireless

March 2012

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The practice of law is increasingly being conducted wirelessly, over smartphones, laptops, and tablet computers. But as lawyers place more documents, messages, filings, and calendars on their wireless devices, they are increasingly experiencing two critical shortages: a shortage of storage capacity, and a shortage of power.

Better Wireless Storage
Wireless technology does a lot of things well, but one conspicuous shortcoming is storage. Most smartphones and tablets don't have a lot of onboard storage because manufacturers want to keep the devices compact, lightweight, and competitively priced. But that's a problem for attorneys who use their smartphones or mobile computers as their primary electronic tool: Where can they store all of their data?

Of course, files can always be ported from the mobile device to a desktop computer using USB cables, but that can be a clunky and time-consuming ritual - and it sort of defeats the purpose of having a wireless device in the first place. A far more elegant solution is to invest in a wireless satellite network drive. Current models include Seagate's pocket-size FreeAgent GoFlex (about $160 online), and the Western Digital My Book Live 2 TB Personal Cloud Storage Drive ($144 online). Both are encryptable.

With one of these wireless hard drives along, you can instantly access all of your documents, correspondence, and movies, music, and photos if you like, without worrying you'll run out of room on your mobile device. All you have to do is upload all of your relevant documents and media files onto the wireless storage device; most provide at least 500 GB of storage capacity, more than enough room to handle all the documents from a substantial caseload. Then you'll be ready to start streaming gobs of data to just about any mobile device that has Wi-Fi connectivity and a Web browser: laptops, tablets, and most smartphones. And best of all, there's no tangled spaghetti of cords and cables to deal with - your data moves seamlessly through the ether. A typical wireless hard drive will run continuously for about 5 hours on a single charge, or up to 25 hours in standby mode.

Saving Juice
There never seems to be enough battery life to finish the task at hand. Until technology advances to the point where wireless devices can run for days on a single charge, the best you can do is conserve as much power as you can. Here are a few approaches that will help.

Go "airplane" on the ground. Smartphones use a lot of juice just searching for a data connection. Whenever practical, switch your phone to "airplane" mode (even when you're not flying) to conserve power.

Ring, don't vibrate. Having your phone set to vibrate when a call comes in uses more power, so set it to ring whenever practical.

Limit your multitasking. Every open application drains life from the battery. Try to use only one application at a time - and then close it before you tackle another task.

Dim your screen. Bright screens suck up a lot of volts. Go into your smartphone's settings and reduce the brightness of your screen to conserve battery life.

If you've tried all that and your smartphone is still running out of juice at inopportune times, consider carrying a charging bag with you so at least you won't have to go searching for an electrical plug. The Powerbag Messenger ($112 online), for example, contains an onboard removable battery and a built-in power system that can charge the average smartphone twice on the go.

Then you'll be more likely to run out of energy before your smartphone does.

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