Mobile Tech - Defining Mobile Technology for Legal Professionals

By Tyler Regas, Published on June 3, 2002

Welcome to Mobile Tech, a new monthly column written by Tyler Regas.

Tyler Regas began his career in computer hardware maintenance and repair and
soon added Mac and Windows networking to his professional interests.
Then came *nix, graphic design, web design, and multimedia. When PDAs
and wireless came about, Tyler learned all about PDAs and their usage
for both consumers and corporate users. The PDA HandyMan site is the result.
Tyler started writing and tech editing in 1997 and, with his wife, has
worked on over 100 books. In addition to writing full time, Tyler also
consults for businesses, large and small.

Before any introductions, I think a definition of what mobile technology is will help you integrate this column. Now, there are two grades of definition that I can apply. One would typically be over-simplistic while the other, invariably complicated. Thus, I will offer both in hopes that the ‘twain shall meet:

1. Mobile Technology = any gizmo that uses batteries, fits in your pocket, and stores information for later, convenient retrieval.

2. Mobile Technology = a device, such as a PDA or smart phone, that can store, access, create, allow to modify, organize, or otherwise manipulate data in various forms from a location without being required to be tethered to any particular spot. Such a device could be a simple PDA like a stock Handspring Visor, a Palm OS device, and act merely as a vessel for a small amount of static information. It can also be as complex as an Intermec Series 700 PocketPC device that incorporates a fast, new XScale 400MHz processor, barcode scanner, 802.11b, Bluetooth and GSM/GPRS wireless communications, and a rugged case capable of withstanding several 5-foot drops onto a concrete floor. Such devices can be used to store, modify, view, and transfer a wide range of file formats such as Word documents, PDFs, HTML, and any number of device-specific formats. These same devices can be used to store, access, modify, and remote-connect to databases ranging from SQL Server to Oracle. They can also fit in your pocket and typically run on rechargeable batteries.

I’ve also decided to include a small glossary here so that you might understand what is what in the above descriptions:

Now that we’ve established a terminology and technology baseline, I can begin to write what I planned for future columns. Hopefully, I can do that without fear of confusing you. In said future editions, I will shed light on a wide variety of approaches to utilizing mobile and wireless technologies in and out of the library and legal setting. There are innumerable directions that can be taken with wireless technology in the law library and legal environment. Some even go as far as providing a live librarian for lawyers in the field, with access to library materials at any time of the day or night from almost anywhere on the planet.

I hope you will find the ideas and concepts I bring to you in this column both intriguing and stimulating. Please send me your comments, suggestions, and questions or simply drop me a line.