TrialPad 2.0 – BAMF

We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Blog Posts… With a Bang.

Our firm tried three cases in the last five weeks. MacLitigator has been too busy over the past two or so months to post anything. The last case finished with a jury verdict coming in after 9:30 p.m. yesterday evening. But, news that TrialPad 2.0 was in the App Store made me pop open the iPad for a look.

The short review. Wow.

Summary: TrialPad 2.0 offers the best parts of a full blown laptop/desktop trial presentation system in a simple-to-use package at a fraction of the cost.

The Long Review

For anybody doing any amount of trial work, and yes that means even if you only have one trial, TrialPad is a must have application. TrialPad provides an amazing array of powerful presentation features in the small and unobtrusive package that is the iPad. Notably, MacLitigator was previously critical of the limited feature set and high price of $89. While $89 is still in the high end territory for the App Store/iOS ecosystem, the 2.0 version is easily justified.

What can TrialPad do with a displayed document? It can: highlight or annotate with multiple colored pens; display a red, blue or green ‘laser point’ which follows your finger on the projected image; display two documents side by side; create on the fly call outs; zoom with the pinch and zoom ease of the iPad; redact on the fly; and, rotate an improperly displayed image or image set.

Finally, TrialPad can save a marked up image or document to be used and/or admitted as evidence. So, a witness can mark up a document and, hitting the ‘Fire’ button, will save a copy of the document/image to a special folder. The marked up version can then be used as needed later on with other witnesses or admission can be sought. TrialPad includes support for AirPrint which also means that a hardcopy could be printed right there in court if an AirPrint compatible printer is available.

TrialPad offers the ability to display on a projector or other screen any a huge number of file formats including everything from the ubiquitous PDF, to video files (and the ability to edit clips inside the app), to even Pages and Keynote plain .txt files (think raw court reporter transcripts). Of course, for best results, sticking with more common place file types, such as PDF, jpg etc., will work best for unaltered formatting when displayed.

The only thing missing at this point, and the killer feature that would take this app over the top of all other trial presentation software, is the ability to leverage Apple’s AirPlay so that the wires could be dumped. It really sucks dragging a VGA or HDMI cable around the podium or stringing it to counsel’s table. On a side note, TrialPad 1.5’s screen/display had a nasty habit of hanging when rapidly removing and replacing the video adapter, as in when you leave the podium and return to the table. At this point, the issue ‘seems’ to be cleared up in TrialPad 2.0.

If you’ve read this far…. thanks. Also, Lit Software and Ian provided me with an early demo license to TrialPad which included an update. MacLitigator feels obligated to ‘pass that license on’ and not keep it for personal use both for journalistic integrity and other reasons. So, keep an eye out here as there will soon be a give away to one lucky reader for a free TrialPad license. Also, the next few posts will detail ALL the tech used at trial, from hardware to ‘alternative’ trial presentation apps. Stay tuned.

July 10, 2011: Update Reader Stan Mortensen has highlighted some fairly serious bugs in TrialPad 2.0. I have not been able to replicate these bugs. As with any software or hardware, extensive testing and working with it prior to going into an actual trial is a must. You can see Stan’s video by following the YouTube link in the comments.

July 14, 2011: Update MacLitigator attempted to verify the identity of ‘Stan Mortensen.’ Despite repeated email requests, Mr. Mortensen did not provide a physical address or phone number or any other information which might verify his identity as being apart and separate from a competing product available on the iPad. Unfortunately, at least some of his bug reporting is accurate.

Control Keynote with iPhone/iPod Touch

The best announcement out of Macworld this week, the ability to control Keynote ’09 through your iPhone or iPod Touch.  Considering that as the best announcement either says how ho-hum Macworld announcements were, or demonstrates the complete descent into geek deviance by yours truly.  

Yeah, but it’s still really cool.

Along with a super nice ‘presenter’ display mode (something PowerPoint has had for awhile), Keynote ’09 allows you to control your presentation by way of 99¢ app store download (app store link opens iTunes).

The Keynote remote app offers two views: Portrait and Landscape. In Portrait view, you can read your presenter notes. In Landscape view, you can see the next slide. In either view, just swipe to advance to the next slide. Unfortunately, the app does not allow any of the keyboard shortcuts, such as ‘blank’ screen or the ability to jump to a slide. Screenshots below.

Other apps of interest and similar functionality include: Pointer Remote for PowerPoint and Keynote(.99¢); iClickr Powerpoint Remote(Powerpoint only, $9.99).

Update January 8, 2009, 11:46: Considering the rundown on Microsoft’s Keynote at CES here, it looks like even Apple’s ho-hum announcements crush Microsoft…. I mean, c’mon Surface, Ford Sync etc? Garbage none of which helps me do anything better, faster or more efficiently, not too mention Nordquist’s take that Windows 7 ought to be released as Vista SP2 rather than a paid upgrade since it is only a minor upgrade which ‘fixes’ the problems with Vista.

Present Like Steve Jobs, Without the Black Turtleneck.

BusinessWeek posted another great piece “Deliver a Presentation Like Steve Jobs.” Highlights include:

Sell the benefit. While most presenters promote product features, Jobs sells benefits. When introducing iTunes movie rentals, Jobs said, “We think there is a better way to deliver movie content to our customers.” Jobs explained the benefit by saying, “We’ve never offered a rental model in music because people want to own their music. You listen to your favorite song thousands of times in your life. But most of us watch movies once, maybe a few times. And renting is a great way to do it. It’s less expensive, doesn’t take up space on our hard drive…” Your listeners are always asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?” Answer the question. Don’t make them guess. Clearly state the benefit of every service, feature, or product.

via TUAW.

Presentation Zen

Jurors present the very most difficult audience, they usually don’t want to be there, start with the belief that everything you do is a lie geared to influence the outcome, hate to waste time anymore than necessary and yet must be taught about very difficult legal, medical, and technical issues in the stilted classroom that we call court. Although I knew enough to embrace elimination of bullet points, irrelevant and ridiculous .gif images, superfluous and magical slide transitions etc. the ability to push things onto a big screen can even lead those who know better astray. In a soft tissue injury trial a few years ago, the complete set of medical records were scanned and available for presentation. When conducting direct examination with the treating physiatrist, each record was popped onto the screen in an attempt to show (1) consistent complaints of pain (credibility); and, (2) sticking to a treatment and physical therapy plan (mitigation). About half-way through, I glanced at the jury box. The jurors not sleeping looked alternately peeved and bored. Lesson (one I already knew, but ignored): Just because technology enables you to do something, doesn’t mean you should.

Although Zen attitude didn’t seem to help the Lakers win, it can certainly have an impact on your presentation skills. Presentation Zen is a blog run by Gary Reynolds and will undoubtedly bring a huge amount of help to your trial presentation skills. Start here, here, and here for a riotous compare and contrast between Bill Gates/Microsoft and Steve Jobs/Apple approaches to presentation. A few pithy points:

The Zen aesthetic values include (but are not limited to):

  • Simplicity
  • Subtlety
  • Elegance
  • Suggestive rather than the descriptive or obvious
  • Naturalness (i.e., nothing artificial or forced),
  • Empty space (or negative space)
  • Stillness, Tranquility
  • Eliminating the non-essential

Whether you are using Circus Ponies Notebook, Keynote or another piece of software, those who ignore the rules of good presentation etiquette do so at the risk of, at best, boring their audience or, at worst, fostering hostility toward you and your client.

Presentation Zen