Actually, Tom’s gonna blast the idea of “spring” tech cleaning right out of the water. In reality, your technology pieces most likely need more than once-a-year maintenance to stay in top condition, so the guys lay out their tips and favorite products for both the physical and digital aspects of tidying up your tech.
Later, Copilot is slated to bring even more AI functionality to Microsoft 365 and it’s all looking pretty promising. Dennis and Tom chat about what excites them most about this up-and-coming tool.
As always, stay tuned for the parting shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can use the second the podcast ends.
Have a technology question for Dennis and Tom? Call their Tech Question Hotline at 720-441-6820 for the answers to your most burning tech questions.
Mentioned in This Episode
A Segment: Technology Spring Cleaning
B Segment: What’s Cool from Microsoft
Intro: Web 2.0. Innovation. Trend. Collaboration. 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 339 of the Kennedy-Mighell Report. I’m Dennis Kennedy in Ann Arbor.
Tom Mighell: And I’m Tom Mighell in Dallas.
Dennis Kennedy: In our last episode, we discussed whether my growing concerns that the information we expect to find on the internet is vanishing or warranted or whether we are seeing just one more step in the evolution of the internet. Tom and I actually did not reach agreement on this one. In this episode, we noticed it is getting to feel like spring out there and for many, that means spring cleaning time. So we want to share some of our best tips for doing a major cleanup effort on your technology. 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 sharing our best tips for doing a thorough spring cleaning of your tech and I’ll be talking about whether spring cleaning is really just for spring. In our second segment, we’ll discuss the cool AI or AI-like tools either now at Microsoft Office or coming to Microsoft Office, how useful they might already be, and what we can expect. And as usual, we’ll finish up with our parting shots at one tip website or observation that you can start to use a second that this podcast is over it. But first up, we wanted to roll up our sleeves and dig into the topic of cleaning up your tech. Just like everything you own, the technology you use won’t look or work quite as well if you don’t keep it clean. So we thought we’d use this episode to talk about some tried and true methods for cleaning our own technology, both inside and outside. Dennis, i guess other than the fact that it’s spring, what got you interested in this topic?
Dennis Kennedy: Well, i think it comes out to this one word that we’re probably all very familiar with and that’s avoidance. I mean, it’s so much easier to talk about this than to actually do it. Actually, I was just looking at the other spring cleaning projects that I was thinking about around our apartment and then I looked at my own desk and I was like, you know, spring cleaning begins at home. So I take that it’s sort of one of those things at this time like resolutions, you know, like whether they make sense ultimately at the beginning or not, there’s at least something that prompts you to this. So spring is here and I think that for all of us, like every listener, if you take a look at, you know, your text setup, the need for cleaning it and maintaining it is going to be apparent. It’s like finding the time I think and the energy in some cases is the real trick.
Tom Mighell: Well I’m going to start out sort of by just blowing up the whole concept of spring cleaning in one respect and that is you can choose to avoid it. And there are some things that are easier to avoid than others. And I think that what I see happen more often, if you’re not keeping things tidy or neat around the area, it becomes more obvious to you that it’s dirty and those are things that I would argue, please don’t wait just once a year to clean your keyboard or your monitor or other things. We’ll talk more about that in a minute, but please don’t just wait until right now to do that. But the other piece is, is that there are other things we’re going to discuss cleaning more on the inside of your computer that I feel like you don’t need to wait for spring to do some of that and I know that if I wait for spring, i mean, I could easily spend three weekends in a row doing it and I wouldn’t get done with it. So instead what do I do is, I do it a little chunk at a time and I have it on my to-do list and every weekend, I go and attack something that I want to keep clean and I spend maybe 15 minutes on it. I will spend very long on it, but it is like pruning and it feels like I get more done and I don’t waste three weekends cleaning stuff up. So that’s kind of– that’s kind of my answer to finding the time because I don’t want to have to just wait until the spring. I kind of want to do it all the time.
Dennis Kennedy: Well, I know a lot of this stuff is kind of overwhelming when you sit down. And so I think that for me, i think of just spring cleaning in this sense as coming up with that plan and say, okay what needs to be on now to sort of triage the priorities, when you can do things, if you have something where you say, “Oh, I want to start tagging all of my files inside my folders.” You got a long time of boring work ahead of you. And so, you just need to figure out how to parse that up.
So for me, as I looked at this, I said, you know what I need to do is come up with a plan. So I’ll know — you know, Tom you’ve sort of forbidden us to have whole episodes on GPT and AI anymore.
Tom Mighell: And that.
Dennis Kennedy: I didn’t list my new friend GPT-4. And so I created this prompt which I think is worth reading although it’s a little long. I said I want to create a list of tasks for a comprehensive spring cleaning of my technology. Examples include actual cleaning of hardware and devices, deleting and organizing files and folders, clearing space off of hard drives, getting rid of cables and chargers, organizing my technology, determining what to get rid of and replace, automating tasks and the like. Generate a list of 20 categories of cleaning with five tasks for each category include both Mac and windows test and I had to generate the answer and then I started putting my plan together from that. So hopefully, that’s not too much AI for this episode Tom.
Tom Mighell: Well, I mean, since you brought it in there, I have to talk about it too because I took your prompt, I was intrigued. I wanted to see what kind of answer I would get and which I assume is pretty close to the answer you would get. What’s interesting to me is, is that I guess there are a couple of things that are interesting. First is that ChatGPT has a character limit and so I don’t know about you, but my list of categories ended at 8. It stopped at 8, didn’t give me 20 categories.
Dennis Kennedy: You had to just type in continue, you know.
Tom Mighell: Oh, that’s right, I didn’t type in continue. So that’s — yeah, that was my mistake. I was impatient and I just looked at those. I will say there’s some genuinely helpful things on that list, but there are just as many things on that list that assume that you already knew how to do certain things. Like it will say, remove old cache files, archive or compress old files as if, oh, this is something we already know how to do. So as with everything we mentioned, about ChatGPT, please understand that it is still not a substitute for good research or learning about things on your own. So don’t just take that information and try to do it. It is not the be-all and the end-all that is Dennis’ new friend and we will likely hear about it on many, many podcasts to come, but it is still only the first step.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah. And I totally agree because I think that in the list of generated for me, yeah, a lot of them were good but what I like was that gave me a structural plan, structural checklist and I could do some iteration off of it to kind of clean up that list to come up with something. And then then I later said, like, you know, do something that would kind of schedule it on a daily, weekly and monthly basis and it gives — the thing I keep saying about AI to everybody who asked me about it is, it’s great for a first pass in a first draft, but you have to work with it and improve it. But I think Tom maybe we should start where — or I started which is this — and I think you made a great point on it, is that a clean desk is a happy desk. And to me, I don’t know about you, that to me is where you start looking at what’s right in front of you and I think the spring component is to take a look at your whole desk setup with some fresh eyes and say like, “Do I have the stuff sitting where it needs to be? Do I have stuff for as useful for me and where my workflow is good.” And then I think it does make sense to sort of like sanitize everything and disinfect everything and just clean, clean everything. And you know, you do notice like, oh my God, there really isn’t a period in this document like in the middle of — in the margin is my monitor is dirty. So I don’t know what Tom your thoughts on getting yourself a clean and happy desk.
Dennis Kennedy: Well, so let’s split that up a little bit because when I think — I don’t necessarily think of the right setup for the desk. I think that’s an anytime move but I think that the one thing that you didn’t mention there and the one thing that I think that many lawyers, especially if it may be their home office but it may be there their office office is that lawyers are still slaves to paper more than they would like to be and desktops tend to be full of paper. My father threw out his entire career, had stacks of paper so high and his comment was always, “I always know exactly where to find what I need to find”. And what’s interesting is, he’s 92 years old, he’s at home, he has a desk. It has stayed full of big stacks of paper until maybe the last three weeks where suddenly, it’s become mysteriously clean.
And I about fell out when I saw it and I was just amazed that he’s been cleaning it up the older he gets. So maybe he’s understanding. So get that paper and clean it up. Those paper piles are not useful to you. Digitize if necessary, get rid of the old stuff. So get rid of all that and then I have– I know Dennis, is this the right time to talk about cleaning your equipment? Because I think the cleaning peripherals and devices and things, there are very specific rules around those. I don’t know if we want to cover those things in more detail or–
Tom Mighell: Yeah. Yeah, let’s do that. Let’s do that now, go ahead.
Dennis Kennedy: So, I mean your keyboard, your mouse, your screen, they tend to be the biggest germ magnets, the biggest dirt magnets that you have and I think that when you clean them, I think cleaning them on a regular basis, again, don’t wait till spring. You need to know — I think it’s more important to know what not to use on these devices then what to use and frankly, just good old soap and water is going to work on many of these better than anything else. I mean, with your computer screen, using Windex or other certain cleaners is the fastest way to remove some of the coding from the screen and making it useless. So you don’t want to do that. And then the safest way really is to use, I’m a big fan of microfiber cloths. I bought a bunch of them from Amazon and I’ve got a whole stack in the closet that I use microfiber constantly. It doesn’t leave lint and just use simple water. You don’t need anything more than that, you know. And frankly my best tip is, is it if you’re in doubt, if you don’t know what to use, if you — some people say to use rubbing alcohol or other things, go to the website of the company that manufactured your screen. They will always have instructions on how to clean their own devices. So learn from them. They’ll do the best advice that you can have there.
With the keyboard, I think the first and easiest way to clean your keyboard and probably the grossest thing to do is just turn it upside down and give it a good shake and see what happens. Again, it depends on the kind of keyboard that you have. The new keyboard that I have, Logitech, it doesn’t have a lot of spaces in between the keys or under the keys. It doesn’t look like it gets very dirty underneath there. But if you have the kind of keyboard where you can remove the keys, I’ve seen a lot of, and, and frankly, the mechanical keyboards, a lot of people are using those, you will want to remove those keycaps and clean underneath them and use again, good old soap and water. Get a microfiber cloth or get some cotton swabs, Q-tips or things like that to get that debris underneath them. There are keyboard brushes, go on Amazon and look for some keyboard brushes. One of the cool things that I’ve seen, I’ve never used it, but it appears to be cool, although it also appears a little bit gross is something called keyboard gel where you can buy this gel and you just will, it’s kind of like the slime of the old days. Those of you who might remember slime from 30 years ago, you just put it on your keyboard and it literally will suck up all the dirt that’s on there. I don’t know how it cleans itself. I don’t know if it cleans itself, so that’s why I’m not quite sure about how long I want to keep that sort of thing.
And then the mouse is really making sure that that sensor is clean, making sure that whatever’s on the bottom, depending on what kind of mouse you have, you know, most mice these days have some sort of laser or other kind of optical sensor, making sure that that’s clean. But again, microfiber cloth, cotton swab, water, maybe a little bit of soap, but you don’t need to go overboard with chemicals or fancy cleaning tools to get any of that clean.
I love the idea of keeping some microfiber towels, towelettes, whatever you want to call them around. And then I also think that in our Zoom era, the number of things that can get dirty has really expanded quite a bit. So you know, I’m sort of looking around at what I have, you know, several microphones, couple of webcams. Yeah, other things like that. And those are other things that will make sense to clean especially microphones. Those of you who remember back to the days when we actually had phones, like on our desk that had wires attached to them. Remember like when people got around, if you took somebody’s office especially with the new job, you would find that oh my God, that that receiver was so filthy. So you know, I think you pay attention to that. And then there are the other peripherals for those of you who are over the age of about 30 who still have printers. Those things can actually get pretty dirty. And it’s not something you need to do on a regular basis unless you’re, you know, just have these things just wipe everything down, you know, once a week or something like that. But those can get pretty dirty as well. So I just, you know, i think there’s a number of things to there. I was intrigued, I didn’t try that Amazon thing that you saw with the gel stuff.
For the same reason you did, I didn’t know whether it was like a one-time use or whatever. But you know, the keyboard and mice is the stuff you touch, your phone. Plenty of stories about how you need to clean , your phone. And so take that to heart and I think this is — like I said the spring impetus kind of gives you the chance to think about that, do some of that and then put together the schedule so you don’t have to like spend the whole day cleaning your tech anymore. You can just say, here’s a once-a-day, here’s once-a-week, here’s a once-a-month sort of schedule. The next thing for me Tom, but I’ll let you jump in on this, is just cleaning up the hard drives and I guess Cloud space as well falls into this. But your drives and folders which I think we could do a whole show on where do you find the biggest bang for the buck on doing that type of cleanup.
Tom Mighell: I want to take a quick step back because you mentioned something that I hadn’t put in my notes, but it triggered a memory from the middle of the COVID lockdown and that’s talking about the phone because back then, all over the news was, you know, your phone is your biggest — one of your biggest vectors to have the COVID virus, and you want to make sure that you’re sanitizing your phone all the time. And I think we probably talked about it on the podcast back then and I bought a tool called phone soap where you can put your phone in and it will use UV to get bacteria and viruses and airborne germs and all of that stuff. And I use it religiously. Whenever I went out, every time I went out, I’d come back and I’d clean it because we all had at the time, we had no idea what was going on with the virus and I haven’t used it in probably two years now. It’s — i don’t even know if it works anymore. I went to go look at the website. They’re still there, but I never hear — I never see stories about disinfecting your phone these days. So it’s an interesting. It doesn’t seem like it says — it’s probably still important. There’s probably still a lot of germs. I mean, journalists do articles on how — what’s on your phone has got more germs than what’s in a toilet, believe that or not.
But anyway, enough about phones. Coming back to the hard drive, you know, my question there Dennis is, is that you know, cleaning up your hard drive, what is the biggest bang for your buck mean? I mean, to me, like good information governance. I would think about the documents that I have on my hard drive and I know I do not need to keep. You know, is it– do I need to go to my oldest records and look at them? You know, one of the things that I do, again, not related to spring cleaning, is every January, I go and I get rid of the oldest set of financial records that I have. I keep, you know, somewhere around 7 to 10 years’ worth of financial records. And at beginning of the year, I make a new folder for the current year and I get rid of everything that’s 10 years old. And this is one of those areas where I generally go through things slowly because I got a lot of files. We all have a lot of files but I don’t want to do a cleanup all at once.
So I kind of just take the lazy person’s route to doing, and this is all personal. This is not your work cleanup and I’m not sure how to, you know, to talk about a work cleanup because we all manage things differently and we’re probably using content management systems and things like that. But I really just, you know, again it’s a weekend activity, I open up a folder and get it clean and then next weekend, I’ll move on to the next folder or two weeks from now or whenever I get to it. But I don’t really have a big plan for my hard drive. It’s just kind of an ongoing process.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah. And so I’m looking at changing my approach and going to because I kept — there are certain documents that I want to in the files. I want to that I tend to reuse and I want to just like yearly folders plus search and what I’m going to try to do, because it’s going to take discipline is to go to yearly folders plus tags, plus search. And so I have this whole new set of tags. But those are some of the things where you say I might just look at my hard drive and say, “Does the organizational system that I have now, does it make sense? Is the system I’m using on the local hard drives the same thing that I’m using in Cloud file storage service” and also I would say the other thing is am I backing up either everything that I think I should be backing up or am I backing up too much or am I backing up too little. That’s something you can take this time to take a look at. And for me, it just gave me this chance to say, “Okay, I’ve been thinking about redoing like files and folders. This gives me the impetus to do that.
Tom Mighell: What are you using to tag? What are you going to use to tag files and/or folders?
Dennis Kennedy: Although you forbid me from my talking about GPT-4, I actually just asked GPT-4 to suggest a bunch of tags. And then I went through it, and I said this one makes sense for me, this one doesn’t and that’s–
Tom Mighell: That’s not my question. My question is how. How are you going to tag? What tools are you going to use to tag these things?
Dennis Kennedy: Oh, so I’m going totally simple on this. So on the Mac, in the finder, I’m using the finder tags, just the tags that are built in there.
Tom Mighell: Okay. So folks, this is a Mac only tip because it’s not capable in Windows of tagging files on your hard drive.
Dennis Kennedy: Do whatever you say. In Windows, you can do it, but I believe the term there is categories and I’m looking into it because I have to set up two similar, but different sets of tags. One for my work Windows laptop and one for my home Mac with a little bit of overlap. So that makes me different than some people i know but I believe that when I looked at the suggestions on this, it’s in the sort of properties, in categories is where I can do something similar to tagging in Windows.
Tom Mighell: You can do that in the individual, well, we’re getting off track, so I won’t talk about it too long but you can do it on the individual files in Word and Excel and Outlook and things like that, but not sure. I’ll have to learn more about any Windows categories. Anyway, I think much easier and much more intuitive in Mac than in Windows. I just think it’s a little bit harder that way.
Dennis Kennedy: But you have to build it into — you have to build discipline because you have to — because you’re taking on this task of saying like if I want to go back and tag every document I’ve ever done since the beginning of time, that’s like a Monumental work so you have to make some decisions about that and then I can already tell that you do have to figure out a way to discipline yourself or come up with some kind of approach where you remember to tag everything as you save it.
Tom Mighell: All right. We’ve been talking for a while here, folks, so we need to take a break. Let’s take quick break for a word from our sponsors.
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Dennis Kennedy: And we are back. Tom, what else is on your list?
Tom Mighell: Well, I think that you know, if we were to kind of round out the hard drive issue, do one of the things on how full is your hard drive is one thing to think about. It used to be the time. I don’t know how many of you remember when we would have to defragment our hard drive and because the files got defragmented, well, that’s something now that happens all behind the scenes and we don’t have to worry about that so much anymore. But I will say, I think that getting rid of junk on your hard drive is largely something that you can automate these days. I know, my desktop computer at home is a Dell computer and it has an automated program that runs that gets rid of everything in the deleted files folder and gets rid of all cache files and gets rid of all temporary files. It knows exactly what to get and it just runs automatically, and I would set something like that up to have that happen. Just don’t worry about that. Those are files are files you never care about seeing, you don’t need to worry about so just have a tool do it, whether it’s something natively built into your computer or it’s a tool that you download.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah. So, I think that a lot of times, I found, and I think other people found this too, when you start to notice that your computer is not performing very well and surprising amount of the time that that’s happening, you can see that you have a hard drive that’s almost completely full. So, it’s good to keep clear space on there. It’s less of a problem these days because the hard drives are usually so big, but that’s something to look at, and it’s just a part of I think, just good hard drive and storage hygiene. There are a couple of other things that came up on the recommendation list that I think are worth mentioning, Tom.
But they are things that you and I in several cases already do. So, the updates, making sure all your programs are updated, I do that religiously so that’s not even a consideration for me, the cleaning, but that’s a common recommendation that you see, using a password manager or updating passwords. Again, you know, Tom and I use password managers and you know, highly, highly, highly recommend that. So, it may not be that you’re actually cleaning those things but you take advantage of this time to deal with those. Then the other thing that I noticed is that typically, you have all these cables, charges, other sorts of things that have been around forever and you say at some point like, “Why do I need eight USB charges,” and you can start to get rid of some of that stuff as well.
Tom Mighell: So, here’s how I would look at some of those things. With password management, I actually do think about it in terms of cleaning up, because how many websites do you no longer use anymore, or how many things do you not have that you still have the password somewhere in your password manager. I never want to think about the day that my password manager gets hacked, but at the same time, if I don’t need it in there, why use it? So, I will occasionally there’s a — you know, most good password managers have security checks on them and you just run a security check and that will help you see passwords that are old, passwords that haven’t been changed in a long time, and then you can segregate that list down and just say, “You know what? I don’t go to that site anymore. Get rid of it. Don’t put it in the password manager anymore.”
When it comes to — Dennis talks about cables and chargers, let’s go farther. Do you have old technology that you can get rid of? Do you have phones or keyboards or laptops or tablets or things that you’re not using anymore? You’ve probably heard me talk a lot about getting rid of old devices that I have. I am a religious user of — I used to use Gazelle a lot. Gazelle is a place where you can sell your technology. The site that I use lately is a site called ItsWorthMore. The reason why I like ItsWorthMore is they will buy back almost anything. They’ll buy all sorts of android devices, all sorts of Windows devices, all sorts of iOS devices. It’s probably the most inclusive or the biggest selection of things you can sell that you can sell to them.
Then if you can’t sell it and make some money off of it, e-cycle it. Don’t just throw it out. You know, our local BestBuy is a great place to go and they will just take it off your hands and give you a tax donation form if you want to get some sort of deduction for it. But you know, especially if it has a hard drive or a battery or something that can potentially be harmful to wherever it gets placed, take it to an organization that will safely get rid of it and make sure that it’s not harming anybody.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, I mean, the keyboard thing, what I find interesting is we do tend to accumulate those, and we also tend to let them wear out. I had this happen recently. There’s in some ways, no better feeling that when you say, “I bought a new keyboard and this A, it’s almost worn off doesn’t exist anymore.” It’s like fresh and new. So, you know, you can eliminate that wear and tear. So, I think those to me are some big ones, but I think the time when some of those stuff, we sort of think about what to do, you know, (00:28:45) specifics, I think we’re back to our old approach of saying like it makes us sit down and audit and inventory what you have. I think in addition to the password manager thing of stuff you don’t use, I think you can save money by looking at the services that you bought and they’re being charged every month that you no longer use. Then I think you’re also looking at not just what to clean but it’s time to talk about like what to replace. Like, when is it that I need to buy a new computer? When is it that I need to get a new printer? You know, if I’m using something that’s not updated anymore, do I need to buy something else, and is it time to get rid of it? I think that’s also part of this kind of overall cleaning process.
Tom Mighell: Well, I’ve got some examples there. So, there are a number of apps that are out there that you can download and they are — I believe they are free to use and then they charge you a certain amount based on what you want to do with them. But one of the is called Rocket Money. It used to be called Truebill, one of them is called Trim, and I put the link in the show notes and they will actually search out subscriptions that you have. So, wherever you have subscriptions, you may have forgotten and it may not just be text subscriptions but any subscription.
You may discover that you are subscribed to Hulu and Paramount + and Disney and Apple and all of these services and you didn’t realize you’re paying all that money. It’s a great way to clean out unused subscriptions. Then the last thing I’ll mention from a specific standpoint is we haven’t really talked about what’s on your phone. It is one of the nice things that Google does on my phone now is it will remove all the permissions for apps that I don’t use very often. It won’t let those apps — the access stuff on my phone because I’m not using it. But I like to go a little bit further. I occasionally just go through my list of apps and I go, “Do I use this? Does this spark joy for me?” I’m going to (00:30:49) the whole thing and I go, “Do I really want to keep it or not,” and I will get rid of those apps. I had so many apps that I’ve not used in years or months, why keep it on there? So, those are — I’m kind of all out of specific examples. Do we want to kind of wrap it up on best tips for how to get started and how to do it?
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah. I mean, I think that — to follow up on what you said, this is something I like to do is this, look at what you use the most and I think the phone is a great place for this. It’s to say, well on that home screen, what do I really want to put on there? Like, I’m always kind of scrolling through some pages to find an app that I use, let’s move it to where I get to it. Then, as part of that, you can say, these things I don’t use, I’d just get them off the phone to clear up space. Same thing for people who use the desktop as a place to put a whole bunch of icons and now is a good time to do that. So, I think that, to me it’s sort of like pains and gains kind of, that’s my tip is like, you look at this stuff, you say, “What’s caused my pain,” it’s like your spark joy thing, and if I did this, then what are the benefits that I get from it? You know, well-organized desktop, good workflows.
Then I think it does become — to say, let’s make a plan and you know, I think this is actually a decent use of GPT4 to get you started to say, let’s make a plan. Here’s the cleaning, here’s the maintenance, here’s the routine stuff I need to do. Divide that into a daily, weekly, monthly plan. It will give you a decent first draft to get you started, and you can work with that and then, Tom, not to steal your thunder, but to go back to what you said, I think that you say like this shouldn’t be something that I do every now and then. What I need to do is to say, the stuff that’s important, I need to turn it into a regular to-do item. So, it’s something that just happens because it shows up on my list of things to do.
Tom Mighell: And I think that about wraps it up. So, let’s move on to our next segment. But before we do that, we’ll take a quick break for a message from our sponsors.
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Tom Mighell: And now, let’s get back to the Kennedy-Mighell Report, I’m Tom Mighell.
Dennis Kennedy: And I’m Dennis Kennedy. We’re both big fans of the tools like editor and designer that Microsoft is building to Word and PowerPoint. We’re fascinated, as in we can’t wait to see the new AI functionality Microsoft will be adding to Microsoft 365 tool soon. We thought we’d talk a bit about what we like, what you might want to try and what we might like to see in the future. Tom, do you want to lead us off?
Tom Mighell: Well, I hope I don’t steal your thunder here, and talk about only what I wanted to talk about, but I’m generally more interested in the what’s coming than what’s currently here. Although I will say that one of the things that I’ve noticed in the Microsoft apps that I’m using is from an AI standpoint, it is getting so much better at autocomplete. It is that when I’m typing something, it will suggest things for me that it understands from the way that I type and the way that I write.
It is making typing a lot easier for me initially, which I think is — I could swear they’re learning my writing style somehow, and that doesn’t totally bother me. What I do want to talk about is you know, I mentioned this as my parting shot a couple of episodes ago, is co-pilot. Co-pilot is the official name for all of the myriad of AI tools that are coming to Microsoft 365. It’s part of Microsoft’s alliance with ChatGPT, with the open AI and ChatGPT and they are to put it mildly, baking artificial intelligence into basically every part of Microsoft 365. We’ve been talking, some would say, ad nauseam about how generative AI can help us to be better in creating content and managing the content that we create ourselves. The office suite of tools was sort of tailor-made for content creation, and so, here are a couple of example that are kind of exciting to me that you should be able to do in co-pilot when it’s released later — I think it’s later this year. For example, in Word, it will work a lot just like Chat GPT. You can ask it something, it will give you a first draft to edit and further develop.
You know, if you’re a writer, if you’re working on a blog post, if you’re working on something, there’s no more plain, white screen to stare at, waiting for inspiration. You can have Word actually create the first draft for you. In Outlook, you can have co-pilot draft automated responses to emails you get frequently where — you know, you can do that right now obviously with Outlook but this is actually telling a tool to do it. You can type in — in an email, you can type in just the words “add topic,” and co-pilot will try to find other relevant topic in the Microsoft 365 world. It will go look at your documents, it will go look at emails and other things to try to find more information to add to your email. Personally, the part that I’m most excited about is the Teams version, because it’s going to automatically summarize your meetings and provide action items from the meetings, and that’s really exciting to me. There are tools that can do that. I like the fact that it’s going to happen within Microsoft automatically.
You can take notes from a meeting and you can ask co-pilot to generate a proposal from it, or you can take that proposal in Word and ask co-pilot to generate a presentation deck in PowerPoint. You know, it’s interesting when Microsoft has announced that they are being I think, hopefully appropriate cautious about this, saying — the company says, sometimes co-pilot will be right, sometimes usefully wrong. I like that term, usefully wrong. I’m not sure I agree with that, but it’s a nice hedge that they have, but it will always put you further ahead and that’s the part that interests me the most. That’s what sort of interesting and exciting that I’m looking forward to the most, Dennis. How about you?
Dennis Kennedy: Well, I was just thinking about usefully wrong, because that’s what I like about the GPT world is that I think it’s real good, it’s like a first pass on things. So, some things are going to be right, some things are going to be wrong, but it’s truly useful. So, what I like in the Microsoft world is already there. It’s the editor function in Word, which it just seems to get more and more features and designer in PowerPoint which will put together slides for you and put graphics on them and give you consistency and place fonts — you know, choose the fonts, place things where they need to be, center slides, all that sort of stuff. It’s so functional. If you happen to go back to an older version of Word which sometimes happens, it’s kind of sad that you don’t have those tools and I think that those tools could actually — and then the coming AI tools will kind of really push from users their employers to move to those newer versions and enable those features because they’re so useful. The editor function like I said, Word, not just spelling, not just grammar, the style, it allows you to make changes, tone, other things like that. It’s super functional. I really enjoy that.
I like to see — Tom, you gave some great examples. Well, one thing that I’m looking at now is to say, could I take a spreadsheet and let’s just say, the easy illustration is, if I were doing like a household budget or my investments, could I take a spreadsheet in Excel and have an AI tool kind of put together the charts for me, or to kind of in plain language, give me insights about those numbers, or recommendations or other things like that. I think that’s a fascinating world that I would expect to see there.
So, and I think the big thing is, for me, it’s it will give us this sort of baked-in AI on demand and we’ll just find more and more uses for it, and one of the hidden things that I think is where we look at where AI might benefit people who have disabilities or other issues or even can’t type very fast, which I fall into that category, is that they use these tools to type up a first draft is insanely fast. That may be an unexpected benefit that we get from that. So now, it’s time for our parting shots at (00:40:40) website or observation, you can use the second this podcast ends. Tom, take it away.
Tom Mighell: Okay. We’ve been talking a lot about AI in this episode like usual. Let’s see if one of us can get through our parting shots without mentioning AI. That will be me. But I am going to stick with Microsoft. I recently spoke at a conference where I was not sure whether or not I was going to be given a computer, a projector that had a VGA connector, that had an HDMI connector. I wasn’t sure what I was going to have. So, I have several adapters but I didn’t know that I had all of them. Come to find, the Microsoft USB-C Travel Hub, it is an amazing adapter. It has adapters for USB-C, USB-A, VGA, Gigabit Ethernet and an HDMI 2.0 port with 4k video. So, it has everything. Anything that you need to present with, anything that you might need to plug into your computer, it is there. It is the most awesome tool. I bring it everywhere that I go and always has value or use to me. Right now, I think it usually goes in the Microsoft store for 99 bucks. It’s on sale right now for 75. I definitely recommend it. Microsoft USB-C Travel Hub.
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, having a device like that is so handy when you’re in places where you don’t know what you’re going to be able to connect to a projector with. So, my tip is a two-parter and I’ve heeded Tom’s warning and decided not to talk about AI or GPT.
Tom Mighell: It looks like I scared him away from it.
Dennis Kennedy: So the first one is go ahead and spend the $20 a month on ChatGPT plus, it’s totally worth it. You don’t get the delays. You can use GPT 4 rather than GPT 3 or 3.5. Much more easily, and it’s great. The other tip, again, another non-AI tool is that sometimes people say, “would it be cool if ChatGPT could write in my style,” and you try to figure out how to do that. Well, here’s the tip on this. You take some of your writing, that’s like a moderate size, let’s say like less than a thousand words, or an article you’ve written or something like that. Put it into GPT, ChatGPT and say, “describe the style of this article,” and it will spit out about a paragraph of what the style is. Then you just copy that and then you say, “Now, write a new article about X in the following style.” Then you copy in that description of your style, and you will be surprised at how much what comes out sounds like you, and it’s a simple and easy way to experiment with that style approach, and it’s one way that you can do a thing where you could say, in my work, for my transmittal letters, all the things like that, I can get the same style in what I’m doing and I get the benefits of using GPT to generate those things.
Tom Mighell: So, that wraps it up for this edition of the Kennedy-Mighell Report. Thanks for joining us on the podcast. You can find show notes for this episode on the Legal Talk Network’s page for the show. If you like what you hear, please subscribe to our podcast and iTunes on the Legal Talk Network site or in your favorite podcast app. If you want to get in touch with us, you can reach out to us on LinkedIn. We are occasionally Dennis, more than I available in Twitter or remember, we still want your voicemail. Please leave us a voicemail. We’d love to talk to you and we’d love to feature your question during our B segment. That number is (720) 441-6820. So, until the next podcast. I’m Tom Mighell.
Dennis Kennedy: And I’m Dennis Kennedy, and you’ve been listening to the Kennedy-Mighell Report, a podcast on legal technology with an internet focus. It you like what you heard today, please rate us in Apple Podcast and we’ll see you next time for another episode with the Kennedy-Mighell Report on the Legal Talk Network.
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. Join us every other week for another edition of the Kennedy-Mighell Report only on the Legal Talk Network.