From time to time I have shared with you my thoughts on the methods of getting the most speed and accuracy out of your computer. I think it would be helpful to draw all of these together.
My present computer hardware is driven by a 486 chip with a speed of 33 megahertz, and has two megabytes of main memory; the hard disk accommodates 120 megabytes of data and programs; and the computer has a built-in 256 cache. This equipment is over two years old, but for speed and efficiency using keyboard input it is fully adequate.
Somewhat of a digression: If you are contemplating purchasing new computer hardware, you should consider much higher capabilities for the equipment because practical voice-recognition software is NOW available at a software cost of about $2,000; under $3,000 should buy the computer and high speed monitor to make it go. A few weeks ago I was treated to a demonstration in my office of a system where you can talk to your computer, kind of like on Star Trek (“computer, shields up”).
The young person conducting the demonstration spoke into his microphone the words “computer wake up”; then there appeared on the screen each word as he spoke it, all in the format of a standard WordPerfect file. He purposely spoke relatively slowly and distinctly, about 50 words per minute, and editing was allowed either instantaneously or when the document was completed; when the document was completed the command was “computer sleep.” Editing itself can be done with verbal commands also, though it is probably quicker to use the keyboard (unless you want to say “run the spellchecker”).
You just talk into the microphone and your words appear on the screen ready for any final editing necessary and eventual printing and storage.
I could see extraneous noise causing problems with using this system anywhere other than in a private office, but the applications are endless: letters, pleadings, memoranda of telephone calls AS THEY TAKE PLACE, first drafts of one of a kind documents,…
My computer’s operating system is Microsoft DOS, version 6.2. In my view, minimum PRODUCTIVITY software requirements for a law office include Quicken (version 7.0) for bookkeeping, WordPerfect (version 6.0b) for word processing, and a print spooler.
A software print spooler is a program that works with your word-processing (or any other) program to intercept data being sent to your printer, store it, and return primary control of the computer to you without waiting for your printer to complete all of its work; you can immediately begin other work in the current program, or go to another program, and your printer finishes its assigned printing task in the background. This does not make your computer and printer do their work any faster, but you don’t need to sit around watching them do it; and it does allow them to work on separate tasks almost simultaneously, which means you can get your work done in less total time, which is what the real world is all about.
Speeding Up Your Computer
Microsoft DOS version 6.2 (and 6.21) has four commands which are particularly helpful in speeding up your computer: Choice, Defrag, MemMaker and SmartDrv. All are included as the product (DOS) comes off the shelf, and none involve any extra dollars to be invested. Help in using any of them is available at the C:\> prompt by simply typing the word “help,” a blank space, and the name of the command or program with which you need help, e.g., “help Choice.”
Choice is a command which lets you build a menu with nine options for things to do, places to go, or programs to run; and if you need more than nine options, simply use one of the options to go to a second menu; and you can keep doing the same thing for a third or more menus, ad infinitum.
I’m aware that both DOS and WordPerfect SixO have shell menu programs available without any additional cost; but…
To be continued.
* * *
Sheldon Grand is a St. Louis attorney. His column, “Computers In The Law Office” appears in Missouri Lawyers Weekly on an occasional basis. He welcomes readers’ questions, which may be addressed to him at 222 South Central, Suite 502, St. Louis, MO 63105.