Nowadays, you can 3D print almost anything, from piggy banks and food to prosthetic limbs and replacement organs. But how can lawyers use 3D printing technology? In this episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, hosts Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell talk about 3D printing, including what it is, how to get started, and why lawyers should be interested in this growing technology. They also answer a listener question about Apple’s new HomePod and how it compares to other voice activated technology. As always, stay tuned for the parting shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can use the second the podcast ends.
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The Kennedy-Mighell Report
3D Printing for Lawyers
Intro: Web 2.0, Innovation, Trend, Collaboration, Software, Metadata… Got the world turning as fast as it can, hear how technology can help, legally speaking with two of the top legal technology experts, authors and lawyers, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Welcome to The Kennedy-Mighell Report here on the Legal Talk Network.
Dennis Kennedy: And welcome to Episode 192 of The Kennedy-Mighell Report. I am Dennis Kennedy in St. Louis.
Tom Mighell: And I am Tom Mighell in Dallas.
Dennis Kennedy: In our last episode we discussed traveling with technology and shared some of our latest thinking and tips on that topic. Interesting, that episode got a lot of mentions on Twitter, so I think that was a popular episode and had some great information.
In this episode we take a look at 3D Printing, a technology that is growing by leaps and bounds and has recently gotten our attention. We think it should be on your radar as well. Tom, what’s all on our agenda for this episode?
Tom Mighell: Well, Dennis, in this edition of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, we will indeed be talking about 3D Printing and whether those printers have any potential use in the practice of law.
In our second segment, we have got another question from one of our great listeners, and as usual, we will finish up with our parting shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can start to use the second that this podcast is over.
But first up let’s talk about 3D Printing. I will admit Dennis when you suggested it for the podcast I was a little bit concerned about how we were going to talk about this. It’s again kind of an out there topic for lawyers to be talking about. So what got you so interested in this topic?
Dennis Kennedy: Well, I think one thing is that we do want to be out there in front of where lawyers are looking and so 3D printing has been around for a while. But I was recently at my old college, Wabash College for Alumni Weekend, and they did a symposium on Technology and the Liberal Arts and I spoke on AI and law, which was a lot of fun.
But one of the other speakers was a professor at the college, who talked about 3D Printing and the 3D Printing Lab they have at the college and gave a lot of examples and showed some of the things they were doing and how it worked, and how they were using it in education, and some other uses that I thought were great. And it made me feel that 3D Printing was a lot more accessible and easier to do in some ways and that you could really accomplish some cool things with it in ways I hadn’t really thought about before.
And so naturally I thought this could be a potential topic for the podcast, and so I will give some examples as we talk Tom, but that’s what got me interested, and it just seems like it’s one of those things. Once you see 3D Printing somewhere or any technology somewhere, then boom, it’s like everywhere you turn, you see it again.
So all of which is saying that I haven’t actually 3D printed anything, but I held a bunch of stuff that had been 3D printed in my hands and got a lot of great ideas, so that’s what got me interested Tom. I don’t know what you have seen of 3D Printing and your own experience.
Tom Mighell: So here I am going to ask you a question first before I talk about this, because I think we are both being honest. We haven’t 3D printed anything. It’s not something that we are doing in our current jobs or that we have gone out and bought the material or the hardware necessary to do it, but when you held that stuff in your hand, I always imagined to myself that stuff that gets 3D printed lacks substance. It doesn’t have a weight or a heft to it. It just feels like it’s this lighter-than-air thing. I mean what you felt that was printed, did it feel like a real thing that was being done? Did it really have substance to it?
Dennis Kennedy: Oh, totally. I mean it felt like — so one of the things was like a small Tyrannosaurus Rex head with like jaw and the teeth, and it was like a plastic model. So it had some — in the sense it was like a model that you did or I did as a kid that you put together, so it had that level of substance.
There were also boxes and trinkets of different kind. They do this kind of cool thing where at the college they just 3D print these plastic red W’s that they give to high school students who come for admissions, just this little souvenir trinket. So it’s kind of interesting all the different things they did, but yeah, a number of things were like plastic boxes and stuff that had real strength and durability to them.
Tom Mighell: Well, we are going to talk about some more I guess more — even more substantive things that 3D Printing can do, but I wanted to address real quick your comment earlier about not appreciating how accessible 3D Printing is.
In looking out there at the world of 3D Printing, all it took for me to understand the accessibility was the fact that you can buy a 3D printer on Amazon for $200 and that shows how accessible the world of 3D Printing is. And I think we are going to talk about it a little bit more, but maybe — I don’t know, maybe it makes sense to talk about what 3D Printing is, maybe define it first, give a quick definition.
So, since I tend to usually be the definition guy, I will give my first attempt at it and then you tell me if I got anything wrong. 3D Printing is also known as additive manufacturing and the reason that is, is that regular manufacturing usually creates things by taking things away, through drilling, through machining, it takes things away. With 3D Printing, you are actually adding layers.
And so the official, one of the definitions online is that 3D Printing are processes that are used to create a three-dimensional object, okay, that makes sense, in which layers of material are formed under computer control to create an object. And so it’s actually adding specific layers to create that Tyrannosaurus Rex head or that particular box that’s out there.
What surprised me when I looked at the research is that there’s actually about 500,000 3D printers out, but the market is expected to grow to over 5 million 3D printers in just two years. They are thinking that by the end of next year there will be at 2.5 million and there will be over 5 million in 2019. So this is an area that even though it’s been around, I think that the first 3D printer was invented or was created way back in 1980, but it’s amazing that just now it’s starting to explode.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah. So I think the additive notion is correct. So on the Tyrannosaurus head, it took three hours to print, so you just imagine like one layer at a time that’s going on. And they did a time-lapse movie of that to show how the head sort of just appeared over time, but it basically took three hours too.
So you imagine these very, very thin layers and that’s sort of — I think as you go up the price range in the 3D printers, that ability to print smaller and smaller layers is important.
The other analogy is the glue gun. So there is a sort of extrusion process. So imagine your inkjet printer, but it’s printing rather than ink some kind of plastic that gets heated up and then that cools into these layers, and then there’s a whole bunch of different materials that can be done, including foods.
Tom, I know our audience will be as happy as you and I are to know that they can do really cool chocolate prints now that people may find on cake decorations and stuff now. So there’s an incredible variety in what you can do with 3D Printing.
Tom Mighell: Well, not only is there variety in the materials that you can use, but what’s interesting is, and this is another indication of how accessible it is to the average person, is that you might be thinking, okay, so maybe I could go on Amazon and buy $200 printer. How am I going to actually print something? Don’t I need something — an object to print? Don’t I need some sort of computer file?
And that’s right, there’s actually modeling and computer modeling that does this, but there are tons of premade 3D print files that are out there, and they are, maybe not all free for the taking, but there are so many out there, 2 million things you can actually print yourself today on a 3D printer.
I think that’s actually really exciting that it’s not something that — I think probably if you want to do your own thing on it, there’s a little learning curve, but if you just want to get started and take a look at some of these, I think that’s really interesting.
But the other thing that I think is interesting and you mentioned lots of different materials and they are applying it in so many different industries; healthcare is a huge one. They are doing prosthetic devices. They are actually creating tissue. They are working towards being able to actually print organs in healthcare. And then automotive industry, making parts and things like that, it’s really kind of amazing the applications to which you can put the 3D Printing.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah. I want to talk a little bit about prosthetics, because that was one of the coolest things that I saw in this presentation. So the college was participating in a charitable project and they were printing prosthetic hands for children. And so the point of that was that, first of all, there’s a staggering number of — like thousands of kids who lose fingers or hands in lawnmower accidents primarily, but in other things like that, And so if you buy like the regular or you get the regular prosthetic, kids outgrow them really quickly,
And so what they were doing as part of this charitable project is they print these kits basically, so they get assembled and there is this prosthetic hand and it has the ability to do some movement and other things like that when it’s put together, and then there’s no big deal if a kid outgrows it, because it costs $10 to make and they sell them for like $25, and it’s just the coolest thing about 3D Printing.
And these hands were like different colors and stuff. You can see how they would be great for kids and it was sort of like a way that people could do something of value with the 3D printer as they are learning it and trying to figure out what it is that they do.
Tom, I want to go to the materials and sort of how it works. There are these chemicals, chemical materials, the glue types and the plastics and those sorts of things and things do get heated. So this is something if you want to jump into and experiment, you need to be concerned about safety, because there is heat, there are fumes. Some of the fumes are dangerous. Some of the chemicals are a little dangerous and have to be handled carefully. So things will get better as time goes along.
And the presenter — again the professor said that probably it seems like every other month they are coming up with a new material that you can print with, including plastics with metal in them.
So there are as opposed to the typical like, hey, get a new smartphone and just use it, like a 3D printer or plug in your printer and use it, you probably have to be concerned about ventilation and safety and not getting yourself burned and that sort of thing. So a little bit more complicated, and that’s why I think these get associated with the Maker Movement, where people are really trying to do things, so the robotics movement, other things like that is where you find the strong interest these days in 3D Printing.
Tom Mighell: Well, I want to come back real quick, because you were talking about the prosthetics and that kind of reminds me of what I think are the benefits of 3D printing, some of the things that make it a real leap in how things are being manufactured these days.
There are really three benefits that are really kind of big in my mind right now. The first is, is that because it’s based on an editable computer model, it has endless customization possibilities. Your prosthetic example there, most companies, it’s incredibly complex and expensive to create a prosthetic limb for a patient that’s customized to their body. If you do it in 3D Printing, it’s a whole lot cheaper, because it’s just that one that’s been customized to them.
And then I think that what we are seeing in some manufacturing industries is, it’s really a reduced time to manufacture stuff. When designers look at something, they no longer have to put it through a prototype and go through this complex process where somebody else machines it and builds it; they can print it and see if it works and start iterating on it and dealing with it right then and there, which means that it’s faster to manufacture them.
But you are right, there are a number of safety and environmental and other considerations that you need, but I kind of wanted to talk about the basics is that, if you really want to get started or if you are thinking about doing something like this, what are the things you need? Obviously the first thing is the hardware, is the printer.
Like I said, there are printers on Amazon for $200. There are a number of websites out there that rank some of the better printers that are out there. I think that most of the best printers are somewhere in the range of $700 to maybe $4,000 for the kind of personal, consumer-based 3D printers. And I am amazed to say that most of those are actually available on Amazon, or at least a lot of them are. It was easy to kind of find them.
Like Dennis mentioned, you need some kind of material to print that on, whether that’s filament, which is thermoplastics that gets used or some other product or material, you need that.
And then you need some level of software. One of the tools that you need for — software tools that you need in addition to the modeling program is what they call a 3D Slicer. And if you think of a printer in the standard sense that a regular printer prints on individual sheets of paper, what a slicer does is, is it takes that 3D model and it cuts it into slices and it slices it so that the printer can interpret them a slice at a time and print them. So it’s essentially putting it on individual pages and then creating that as a slice each.
And then again, if you don’t have a model, again, there are over 2 million models out there on the Internet, but if you need to build something your own, that’s kind of where it gets complicated, because although there are a lot of free modeling software tools that are out there, it’s not something you can just dive into and start creating your own 3D models immediately. You probably would be well-off to take a class online or do some tutorials or look at some places where they can teach you how to use the modeling software, because there is a learning curve in trying to do that.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, I mean, I sort of have the sense that if you have a teenager in the house, that is like going to be the best way to learn, just kind of turn them loose.
And I guess the other thing is, the 3D printers are typically what they call SLT files, and to me, I just think of those as like patterns, so that’s the 3D drawing and the instructions runs through the slicer, which think of as a software, and then it goes to the printer. And then the printers, the cost is going to relate to like how easy they are to use, how sophisticated they are, how thinly they print, all those sort of factors you can see. Software will do the same thing. So how accurate do you want the model to be will factor in.
So my professor buddy was telling me that the $200 3D printer is really for the hobbyist, because it does come to you as a kit, you need to assemble it, and it’s probably going to take a fair amount of work to set up. So there are a number of ones and Tom, as you said, there are a number of great articles out there of reviewing them, telling what type of printer might be appropriate for what you are doing.
My sense is that sort of midrange, as you said, maybe in the sort of $1,200-1,500 range or $1,800 range might be like if you are really serious where you end up at. But I found an article on 3D Printing on a site called HYPERLINK “makemode.co” makemode.co, so just go to HYPERLINK “makemode.co/learn-to-3d-print” makemode.co/learn-to-3d-print, really good summary and a place to start, give you a good range of some of these things.
But I think Tom that gives people a background of what’s going on with 3D Printing. I don’t think it’s that sophisticated a concept, but I think it’s the applications that can get really interesting. And so that brings us to how might lawyers actually use 3D Printing.
Tom Mighell: So usually when you and I have this conversation, I start approaching this from a litigation standpoint, because I am a litigator by training and that’s usually where I go, and I think that in my mind 3D Printing is ideal for the world of litigation and for creating demonstrative evidence.
A number of years ago my mentor, the person who was most instrumental in helping me become a trial lawyer, one of the best trial lawyers in the State of Texas, he went to trial on a medical malpractice case, where someone had actually done a lung transplant and had taken out the wrong lung, the healthy lung. And throughout the entire trial, he used a toilet paper roll, a cardboard roll to simulate the lungs, and he actually won the trial with doing that, but just imagine how interesting that would have been to be able to create a printed lung and be able to show it.
If there are products in product liability cases, when you want to show what something looked like, either before it was damaged, or if the original isn’t available to be able to print or show, get a model. We see a lot of times where people create 3D models that you can show on a computer screen of a product that’s been damaged or something that’s happened to it, imagine being able to give it to the jury and let them hold it in their hands and see what it looks like.
I think really any object in a case that you might ordinarily show in a picture that you just don’t have it, I think 3D print it instead, I think that’s an ideal use of it. That’s to me I think kind of the highest and best use right now.
But Dennis, I know you always come up with some creative ideas for 3D printing. What are you thinking about?
Dennis Kennedy: Well, I think demonstrative evidence is just the obvious thing and then the accuracy of that, we will talk about maybe what ethical obligations people might have on 3D Printing, but I think that you can get something that you can actually put into jurors’ hands. That could be just really — as you say Tom, if a toilet paper roll can move a jury, then just think what a really accurate model that the jurors can pick up and can use would be.
I think in other areas of practice, you could actually make models to explain things. So say in medical malpractice cases, just with the client meetings or working with an expert or you could do some other things in other areas of law, maybe in patent, intellectual property areas where you could illustrate some things and create some models that would just help you explain concepts.
I think there’s a great use, as the college was doing, of just printing out logoed items for marketing, so you could do these cool things that you hand out to people and customize them, even personalize them for clients.
And then I think I would also expand out to say, I could get involved in 3D Printing in actually another really interesting way, which is to get involved with the Maker Movement and sponsor events where people are doing 3D Printing, donating printers or money to schools or getting involved in what’s going on in the 3D Printing world in your local community.
Tom Mighell: So let me interrupt real quick Dennis, for those in the audience who may not be aware of it, give us a 30 second description of what the Maker Community is.
Dennis Kennedy: So the Maker Community is sort of — it has grown I would say over the last 10, 15 years of people who really want to make things. So as we move to more digital and that notion, there is a feeling there’s a loss of some of those skills. So people like to figure out ways to make things, and robotics is one example, but people are doing all sorts of different things, where they are trying to create older technologies, doing new things, but I think robotics is probably the best example of what I consider the Maker world that will be most understandable to people.
Tom Mighell: You are talking about kind of ethical issues regarding this. You want to cover that before it’s time to wrap up kind of on how to get started with this?
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah. So I think that there is the idea that we have a duty to keep abreast of relevant technology. So I like to look at technologies in that light to say, okay, is there a way that in my practice 3D Printing could be a relevant technology? And I would say if I am in litigation, I sort of think that it is because of the possibility for demonstrative evidence.
Obviously if there’s a case that actually involves somebody getting hurt with doing 3D Printing, then you are going to have to learn something about it. But I think that in that demonstrative evidence, so you are going to say, I need to understand like how would I get that evidence in, like what do I have to show about the software, how would I criticize the software that’s being used to create the model? Do we have to get agreement with the judge on how that’s created? So I can see in number of instances, especially in the trial litigation world, where this could become in my mind one of the relevant technologies that you do need to keep up with.
And I just think as a new technology where you say, I am not really sure that that makes any sense, has any application to me, I think it’s useful to look at it through that ethics lens of technology competence.
Tom Mighell: I agree, and so I think that it’s one thing to keep up with it, to kind of understand where things are going and how it might be used on behalf of clients, but let’s say that there are some folks out there who have more of an interest. They really want to maybe get started with it. I think I have already given away my best tip, which is go and try out one of the hobbyist printers online, get a $200 or $500 printer and just start playing around with it, obviously be safe with it, go and take some of the tutorials. There are a number of sites; we will try to put some in the show notes, where you can learn how to do this, but that’s kind of where I would think, before you jump into it by buying a $4,000 printer, spend some time in your garage or in some other safe location trying it out with less expensive materials.
What about you Dennis?
Dennis Kennedy: Well, I would say if you are in a certain city, probably certain city of a certain size, you may look at schools as well, but kind of see what might already be out there, where you can see or maybe use something or have somebody show you what’s going on.
I looked in St. Louis, it looks like there are definitely some places where you can do 3D Printing as a service, so you wouldn’t have to actually buy your own printer, but you could have something printed for you. That’s clearly another option.
This stuff is not perfect. You think about it, you are using hot plastic and it’s being extruded through something like an inkjet printer, I mean stuff is going to get gunked up and frozen up and stuff like that. So sort of the more hands-on techie you are, the more appeal this is going to have.
So the other option I would say is like can you use a service or go to a place that makes the use of time with the printer available, where somebody can — either you or somebody can print that for you. That would be my thought.
But I think seeing more of it there’s a lot of YouTube videos, other things out there. There are online classes, so you can definitely explore it, but I think kind of seeing what it is that now people are generating would be the most helpful and that will get the creative juices going and the ideas going.
So I don’t know Tom, just look into the 3D printed crystal ball, if you will, do you think we are going to see more 3D Printing in the legal profession in the next two or three years?
Tom Mighell: So I think it’s possible, but I think that what I think is more likely to happen is that maybe we might see some entrepreneurial, legal services companies come out with a offering to companies that in the past have provided diagrams of the anatomy, instead of that let’s print that anatomy for you. And so I sort of view that the legal services company will probably jump on to this before lawyers do, although we will probably no doubt see some innovative lawyers trying it in their practice too.
But I think that again we tend to be a little bit cynical of lawyers racing to adopt technology and I would guess that like in most things it will lag behind the rest of the world.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, but it’s a great opportunity I think for people who really get this and kind of see the potential benefit of it, especially as you said Tom in the trial setting, it just could be really interesting in presenting a case to a jury or to a judge.
Tom Mighell: And before I move on to our next segment, let’s take a quick break for a message from our sponsor.
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Tom Mighell: And now let’s get back to The Kennedy-Mighell Report. I am Tom Mighell.
Dennis Kennedy: And I am Dennis Kennedy. Well, we have got another question, but no audio this time. We really like getting the audio questions, so be sure to send yours in. Let’s go right to the question.
Will the two of you be buying the new Apple HomePod and reporting back to your listeners about what you think and whether we should buy one? These HomePods seem to be a little expensive when compared to the Amazon Echo and Google Home.
Tom, you basically I think have every type of headphone and speaker system known to man. Do you have a HomePod on your wish list?
Tom Mighell: Well, I like to take the position that I buy all of these things so our listeners don’t have to, but I think that’s going to be a tough decision for me, because there’s a lot to like about the HomePod, I will say personally the name is not one of the things I like about it; they could have gone for a better name than HomePod frankly, but it is what it is.
So what I like about it is I like that they are trying to find that sweet spot. They say that tools like the Sonos Speakers provide great sound, but aren’t very smart, and tools like the Echo and the Google Home are very smart, but don’t provide great sound. So they are trying to hit something right there in the middle, great sound and smart, and that’s why it’s a little more expensive. It’s going to be I think $349, which is considerably more than the Google Home and really more than the Echo as well.
I am intrigued, one thing that may prevent me from getting it is, is that Apple tends to require you to live in their world and to use their products if you want to use certain tools and if the HomePod has that and it’s really just going to be you need to use an iPhone to access it or an iPad to use it, I might be less likely to want to use something like that. I might try it.
I have ordered the Amazon Show, the Echo that has a screen on it, I have ordered that because I am intrigued to see what an Echo with a small screen on it would look like.
But I guess the other thing that makes me a little bit skeptical is that in most competitions or challenges between the Echo’s Alexa or the Google Home; and she just woke up when I said that, cancel Alexa, in most competitions between Amazon and Google and Siri, Siri comes in a very distant third. It just isn’t very smart compared to the other two. And so I am not sure that the high fidelity is enough to bring me along unless Siri really gets better and smarter.
I think it’s hard for Siri to be smarter, because Siri values your privacy, and by valuing your privacy it captures less information than either Google or Amazon is going to do. So there are some direct benefits to that, but it’s definitely not a smarter device.
So I am kind of blabbing on along. I guess my answer is undecided, maybe, but I still haven’t decided yet. We have got until the end of the year, so I have got some time to start lusting after it.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, I guess the good thing is we really do have till the end of the year.
So my thinking is that when I talk to people about the Echo and how much I like it, the one thing I always say is, it’s not like the world’s greatest sound system, and so that was the immediate appeal to me of HomePod, because I was like, wait, if Apple is really working on the sound system and then you look at this as a platform, again, which ultimately all of these things are, that’s what I find most exciting about them. And you say, they have really focused on the high fidelity sound and you have a smart device, then maybe I could do things like surround sound and shaping sound and things like that that could be really interesting over time.
And it becomes more of like a nice piece of stereo equipment, with great sound. So you use it in a different way than you would use the Amazon Echo, which becomes to me sort of more functional, provides sound when you need it, but not like audio file sound. So that becomes interesting.
And then you say, well, this is another platform and we will see where that goes. So I can see that for me I could have both with the HomePod being sort of the center of a living room or entertainment system and used for certain types of things, let’s say in connection with TV, sound, and maybe limited questions that I would do, whereas the Echo might be in another place in the house, where I would ask different types of questions in different ways, so that maybe the Echo becomes more of a kitchen device or a bedroom device or something like that, and the same with Google Home.
Now, I don’t know that I would do all three, but I could definitely see doing two of these. And so that to me I think is the appeal of the HomePod.
As you say, with Apple, I am more in the ecosystem than you are Tom, but I think that you sort of say, part of what I am buying is access into the ecosystem and the platform and that’s what’s going to become really interesting. I mean to me the greatest thing about Echo, and I was talking about this in the presentation I did on AI last week was that I have had the Echo for it seems like two years. I have never updated it at all in terms of hardware, but it gets smarter and smarter all the time, and that is kind of like a new concept in technology that I really like, and so that’s kind of the appeal of the HomePod for me.
Now it’s time for our parting shots, that one tip, website or observation you can use the second this podcast ends. Tom, take it away.
Tom Mighell: So I am going to talk about a new site that I am starting to explore called Got It, just Got It, and what they are trying to establish is the idea of Knowledge-as-a-Service or at least what they are calling Knowledge-as-a-Service. And what they want to do is they understand that there are people out there who know about certain things, they want to empower those people to trade their knowledge with others, and they want to use AI chat sessions to start doing that.
And so they are rolling out a service called Got It and there’s Got It Study for STEM learners who can talk about algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, a lot of math and science subjects. But there’s also a Got It Pro that is for professionals in business or technology who have questions about how to use software.
Right now they have tools open for both Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. And if you go to the page there it says get a free expert session within 10 seconds, just post your problem and an expert will help you solve it instantly. So the sample question on here is, I am trying to find the sum of column B, but only if it has the yes value in column A, how do I do this, connect me to an expert now.
I am intrigued by this. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think it’s an interesting application of artificial intelligence and connecting people who can solve problems. I think that the problem solving thing is nothing particularly new; the method in which they are kind of connecting people to these experts is new, and I am interested to try it out.
So if you are at least right now in Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel and you have got a question about how to use it, maybe Got It can help you solve it.
Dennis Kennedy: Cool. So my parting shot Tom is about printers, but regular printers and how over time we have sort of seen them as security issues. So sometimes they keep more information or they reveal more information than you expect and sometimes if they are connected to the Internet, they may provide ways for hackers to get into your system.
So one of the things that’s been in the news lately is, and there was an example of someone leaked a document and then certain printers — and I think it seems to be fairly common though as best I can tell this happens with color laser printers, print some small dots on to a page to help identify where the printer that they came from, and so Electronic Frontier Foundation has a great article on this called Printer Tracking Dots Back in the News. They also have a kind of a primer on the printer tracking dot so you can understand them.
But the idea is that through these yellow dots you can identify the printer where something came from and then identify in this case probably the person who leaked it. So just one more thing you need to be aware of, and to go back to that notion of technology competence, of understanding what your printer is revealing, maybe one of those things is a relevant technology for you.
Tom Mighell: Well, what’s really interesting about that story about the person who leaked the document to the news source, I was listening to a report that basically said that the news source wasn’t very smart in protecting its own source, because they went ahead and provided essentially an original copy of the printed document, which allowed the government to use the tracking dots to find the person, or at least that’s the supposition here. And that if they had either copied the document on another copier or had typed it out entirely differently, then maybe this would have had an entirely different result and the source would still be anonymous. So I think really interesting how technology kind of led to the person who leaked that document or at least it appears that that was the case.
So that wraps it up for this edition of The Kennedy-Mighell Report. Thanks for joining us on the podcast.
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So until the next podcast, I am Tom Mighell.
Dennis Kennedy: And I am Dennis Kennedy. And you have been listening to The Kennedy-Mighell Report, a podcast on legal technology with an Internet focus. Help us out by telling a couple of your friends and colleagues about the podcast.
Outro: Thanks for listening to The Kennedy-Mighell Report. Check out Dennis and Tom’s book, ‘The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together’ from ABA Books or Amazon, and join us every other week for another edition of The Kennedy-Mighell Report, only on the Legal Talk Network.
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