facebook1An Australian court has allowed a lawyer to use Facebook to serve legal documents on a couple who defaulted on a housing loan in what the social networking site believes is the first case of its kind.

sossmallThe directors of O2Smart, Johan Venter and Digby Vickers are proud to announce the latest addition to the ever growing O2Smart group. SOS (Sheriff Office System) is installed at a number of Sheriff's offices countrywide and an expansion campaign is underway.

diets

O2 Smart is extremely proud to announce that Diets Nieuwoudt has joined the group with effect from 1 October 2008. This comes about due to the acquisition of a majority stake in his company, SOS, by the O2Smart group.

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To hang onto its customers, Telkom is going to have to slash prices, making many web-based services worthwhile, writes Toby Shapshak of The Times.

anrie

After having worked for LegalSuite for many years doing Accounting Support - and later becoming office manager, Anrie left the company to begin her family, but four years later has returned as Sales and Support Director. Anrie will be responsible for looking after clients, agents and support staff.

iol_logoIndependent newspapers has partnered with Gravity, the developer of a revolutionary property search engine, to drive its property super-site due to launch on 7 January 2009.

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After extensive consultation FNB Home loans has made a business decision to standardise all electronic instructions via Korbitec's Attorney Gateway (AG) going forward.

aderantVista Equity Partners today announced that it has completed the acquisition of ADERANT Holdings Inc. Vista, a private equity firm with over $2 billion in committed capital, invests in private and public software and technology-enabled companies, focusing on successful organizations committed to maintaining industry leadership.

ba_checkinBritish Airways has launched a remote check-in service, allowing travellers on the go to check-in for flights using their mobile handsets. The service is quick, free and does not require users to download any accompanying software. Logging on to www.ba.com/mobile using any mobile device with internet connectivity, customers can access British Airways' timetable in real time, as well as select seats and check-in individuals, groups and families for departing or return flights. South African customers are able to use the service to check-in for both British Airways' international flights as well as British Airways' domestic and regional services operated by Comair.

spamA ragtag band of researchers has pulled off the unprecedented coup of drastically cutting the spam volume internationally by adopting a new strategy: going after mainstream companies that can unknowingly help spammers, identity thieves and child porn purveyors by carrying their traffic on the Internet. The researchers identified that a large amount of spam was emanating from an ISP in California. By stopping traffic from McColo, worldwide spam has been reduced by as much as 60%. Full article on LA Times.

charge_cell_phoneI'm sure that you have been told to leave your new cell phone plugged in for an extended period when you charge it for the first time. But according to batteryuniversity.com, lithium-ion batteries, which are used by most new cell phones, require no special treatment out of the box. "Unlike nickel and lead-based batteries, a new lithium-ion pack does not need cycling through charging and discharging. Priming will make little difference because the maximum capacity of lithium-ion is available right from the beginning. Neither does a full discharge improve the capacity of a faded pack." That's it - myth busted!

ajs

The technical and software development resources of O2Smart have had their hands full over the last few months with consolidating the AJS installations for the mergers of CLIFFE DEKKER and HOFMEYR (now known as CLIFFE DEKKER HOFMEYR) and also ROOTH WESSELS MALULEKE and MOTLA CONRADIE (now known as ROOTH WESSELS MOTLA CONRADIE INC). Both mergers were effective as from 1 September this year. (Cliffe Dekker and Hofmeyr were both previously on AJS, and Rooth & Wessels was on AJS while Motla Conradie was previously on GhostPractice, but chose to standardise on AJS for the new entity.)

laser_dangerousA study of 62 laser printers by physics professor Lidia Morawska of Queensland University of Technology's Air Quality and Health Program in 2007 claimed that laser printers emit pollutant particles as dangerous as tobacco smoke. 

 

half_tonerDid you know that it is common practice for printer manufacturers to include a ‘starter' or ‘introductory' toner/ink cartridge with a new printer? It seems that this practice is common for entry level printers which have lower profit margins, whereas on more expensive printers full cartridges are still included. Judging from product brochures on the Internet, most suppliers do this - with the exception of Canon. In fairness to the other manufacturers, their brochure does state than their printers come with a starter cartridge. That explains why one can't simply buy a new printer each time one needs a new toner or ink cartridge - unless it's a Canon.

practice_manager The latest innovative development from Legal Interact is the work in progress module which forms part of its Practice Manager suite of programs. This module ensures accurate recording of time and fees and seamlessly processes these entries into the accounting module.

clapping"Where's the catch?" "At last!" "Thank you!" "Just what the profession needs..." are some of the comments we received in response to our first issue. Interestingly enough, the most-read articles in November were a mixed bag: Saving on print costs, 8 tech trends for South African law firms, Reduce your phone costs with Skype and Open Office Suite for free. This month we continue with our quest to save the profession money.

P.S. Remember that if you support our advertisers, you also support us - so we can support you, the profession!

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L@W Active (Pty) Ltd has acquired information provider SearchWorks from Buchanan Boyes. Despite the property downturn, after only six months L@W can already boast a client base of over 900 clients. Searchworks offers searches for the Deeds Office, CIPRO, Surveyor General, Lightstone Valuations, and credit bureaus.

The SearchWorks system is extremely fast, and clients will never need to perform any software update or IT maintenance. Being Internet based also means that users can access information from anywhere in the world.

windows7Microsoft Corp. has dropped two strong hints in the past two days that the next version of its Windows operating system will arrive in 2009, shaving up to a year off previous expectations. It could also be a signal that Microsoft intends to cut its losses with Windows Vista, which has been poorly received or shunned by customers, especially large companies. Microsoft has long said it wants to release Windows 7 about three years after Vista, which was released to manufacturing in November 2006 but not officially launched until January 2007. Given Microsoft's recent track record - Vista arrived more than five years after XP -- most outsiders had pegged sometime in 2010 as a safe bet for Windows 7's arrival. Full article on Computerworld.com
 

ajsO2Smart has announced that Van De Venter Mojapelo, one of its longest standing accounts, will install 1000 users of its AJS-based SmartCentral software. VVM has used AJS since 1990 when it was originally implemented for 3 users. “This will make it the largest deployment of the software system for one customer”, says Digby Vickers, director of group holding company, O2Smart. VVM has been a flagship AJS customer for many years and the software has evolved in parallel with the growth of the company.

imacSteve Cowell, former CEO of RegiBOND and a pioneer in the electronic mortgage instructions field, is now retired and keeping himself busy with property development. According to Steve he no longer has any involvement in the legal software industry, although he did confess to having recently bought an Apple iMac 24 to keep his hand in. (We weren’t able to find a photo of Steve, so we decided to include a picture of his iMac instead.) When asked where he saw the conveyancing software industry heading in the future, Steve said that he still saw a central workflow platform on the Internet, involving all players – much like the concept behind RegiNET. “That’s if the various vendors can co-operate,” he added.
 
 
 
 

The Deeds Office has been experiencing frequent service interruptions of its search system reminiscent of the early days when the service sometimes went offline for hours at a time. This time around we are told that the cause of the problem rests with the SITA Internet Service Provider, which is Telkom.

It’s not all bad news at the Deeds Office though. As a result of the new document imaging system, most deeds registries around the country are totally up to date on document copy. The Pretoria Registry has been on the new system longest, and at present in excess of 95% of document copy requests are being serviced electronically. In the other larger registries, 50%-60% of requests are being met by the electronic system, and we are told that this will increase as more documents are scanned into the new system. The tender for back-scanning the remaining documents closed on the 26th September this year, and is currently being evaluated.

emeraldJSE AltX-listed DVT Holdings has acquired 100% of Cape-based Emerald Consulting for an unspecified sum of cash and shares. Emerald Consulting is one of South Africa's leading providers of software and related services to the legal sector, with five out of the seven largest South African legal firms on its books. "We have known Emerald for a few years and they are a stable company, performing strongly within their chosen sector," says DVT CEO Chris Wilkins. "They fit in very well with our strategy of growth through entering niche markets with specialised solution providers."

dollar_redYet another reason for firms to make better use of their existing technology in the next two years is that the current exchange rate is about to make imported technology products substantially more expensive. Our currency has weakened by some 45% in the past few months, and unless the Rand strengthens, we could see a similar increase in prices of imported products once forward cover runs out. Most affected will be hardware products - which are nearly all imported, as well as the international software brands such as Microsoft Office, operating systems, databases, anti-virus software, and digital dictation.
 
 

newsWhether you are a lawyer, an office manager or IT manager of a law firm, or a technology vendor, we’d like you to tell us your news. It may be a new product, or a new version of an existing product. It could be news about a new supplier, or your firm may have implemented a new system. It could even be a complaint about bad service, or a pat on the back for great service! So help us to help you – by emailing your news to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

After many years of no price increases, the Deeds Office has increased its search pricing as of 27 October 2008, and the new fees of office are published in Government Gazette No. 31458. The price for information regarding the daily transfer of property (transfers) has doubled from R0.50c to R1.00 per property and document copies have increased from R3.00 per page to R4.00 per page. Previously, enquiries relating to a person, property, or deed were priced according to volume. Low volume users (<100 searches per month) were charged R3.00 per search. High volume users were charged R1.00 per search. The new price from DeedsWeb is now fixed at R2.00 per search, regardless of volume. Schedule of fees.

With South Africans starting to return to work at the end of the holiday season, there’s nothing more likely to destroy the warm afterglow of a great trip overseas than coming home to an astronomical cellphone bill after being caught in the roaming trap.

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