Ever run across an idea so good you cannot imagine why you didn’t come up with it before? I found one of those last Friday when reading Lancaster Newspaper’s article Northwest Regional Police Department sets up safe zone for face-to-face exchanges.

When I read the article’s title, it sounded like a middle school dispute resolution plan for two classmates to meet face-to-face and talk through their differences. The reality is much cooler. The safe zone is a publicly maintained safe space with 24-hour video recording for two (or more) people who may not have complete trust in each other to meet. When would that happen? Well, one situation is if you are dropping off your child to your ex-spouse per a custody arrangement. But how about if you just arranged a deal on craigslist? Now you have a secure space to exchange money for that TV stand (and just in time for the big game!).

Kudos to the Manheim Borough Police Department and the Northwest Regional Police Department for setting up such spaces. It provides another example of the marriage between 21st century technology and practical thinking that makes me love Lancaster County. Now excuse me while I go off to think about the next great idea so obvious I didn’t think of yet…

Brandon Harter is an attorney and technology guru at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from William & Mary Law School and advises clients on issues of Business LawCivil Litigation & Dispute ResolutionMunicipal Law, and Information Technology & Internet Law.

As an avid podcast listener, one of my favorite year-end activities is reading through the “best of” lists of the best podcasts and episodes of the year. Below are a few of my favorite lists of favorites (meta, right?) to get you started:

The Atlantic – The 50 Best Podcasts of 2017

Vulture – The 10 Best Podcasts of 2017

Vulture – The 10 Best Podcast Episodes of 2017

IndieWire – The 50 Best Podcast Episodes of 2017

My typical approach is to review the lists and their descriptions, then add episodes that sound interesting to a new playlist in my preferred podcast app, Overcast.

This year, I thought I’d share my own list of some of my favorite podcasts: Continue Reading My 2017 Podcast Picks

Like brothers who favor rival football teams, my colleague Matt Landis and I often spar over our respective technological preference for Apple vs. Google/Windows/Microsoft. Generally, I think of this as just that, a pair of rival paths.

Imagine my surprise when Matt sent me this article from Daring Fireball reviewing the Google Pixel 2. I assumed he was egging me on to follow his path of annually upgrading to the latest smartphone. While I do have a first-generation Pixel, I am not feeling the need to upgrade to the latest version. But he was after something much more nefarious… convincing me that our paths were not as different as I assumed. Continue Reading Can’t we all get along?

I have served on the Board of Directors of the Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum for the past five years and have had the privilege of serving as Board President for the last two years. As you might imagine, I really enjoy this Lancaster County hidden gem, so as we prepare for Lancaster’s Extraordinary Give I thought it might be nice to share a few fun facts you might not know (even if you live down the street): Continue Reading Fun Facts about the Landis Valley Museum

Many technology enthusiasts subscribe to the theory that to appear on the cutting edge they need to always upgrade to the latest version. The latest software patch, the latest device, etc. I, on the other hand, have always felt like an upgrade needed to give me something (although when I do make a move I tend to spend more than your average bear doing so). Continue Reading Yes, the “Feel” of Your Technology Matters

As Apple fans everywhere well know, the iPhone X is available for preorder on Friday, October 27 at 3:01 am EDT. If you followed my advice from last week by freezing your credit reports and you’re planning on preordering from Apple or your carrier of choice, make sure you temporarily unfreeze your credit reports if you’re the account holder. If you’re on a family plan, make sure that the account holder either does not have their credit reports frozen or goes through the process to unfreeze their reports. Most cell phones are purchased using an installment sale contract, and therefore require a credit report request. Continue Reading Preordering an iPhone X tonight? Unfreeze Your Credit Reports

In the wake of the Equifax data breach, there has been much discussion about the effects of the breach, and how to protect yourself if you were affected. Even though I confirmed that I was not affected by the breach through Equifax’s website, out of an abundance of caution I chose to freeze my credit reports with each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. You can check whether you were impacted by the Equifax breach here: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/am-i-impacted/.

Although I’ve (thankfully) never been a victim of identity theft, I chose to freeze my credit reports because unfortunately I’ve witnessed clients who have experienced identity theft – it’s expensive, time-consuming, and can quickly ruin your financial independence. For a window into what can be involved in an identity theft case, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft website at www.IdentityTheft.gov.  To me, the small headache of lifting the freeze when I want to open a new account is a worthwhile step to help avoid a devastating identity theft situation. Continue Reading How To Freeze Your Credit Reports

I had the great pleasure of attending the Ephrata Area Chamber of Commerce Fall Dinner. The speaker for the evening was Rebekah Gregory. Rebekah is a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombings from April 2013. Even though the attack cost her left leg, it gave her such a thankfulness for her life, and a mission to live going forward. She said a number of times during her message that she wanted to make sure that she did all the things on one leg that she had never gotten around to doing on two.

Rebekah’s optimism is a gift. This is especially true when terrible events seem to happen one after another in the world. I want to thank the Ephrata Area Chamber of Commerce for a great time to connect with other business leaders in the area, for a wonderful dinner and for an important inspirational message.

Aaron Marines is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University and practices in a variety of areas.

It’s no secret that our firm loves technology. In an effort to provide more efficient service to my clients, I routinely try out new apps and technologies to evaluate whether they would help me do my job more effectively.

I recently tried out one app that quickly achieved “can’t live without it” status: TextExpander by Smile Software. Continue Reading How TextExpander Can Save You Time

Last week, the finalists for The Great Social Enterprise Pitch were announced. In case you haven’t been following along, The Great Social Enterprise Pitch is a Central Pennsylvania-focused business plan competition organized by the Lancaster Community Foundation and ASSETS.

The following five social enterprises will compete at the Live Pitch event on October 6, 2017 at the Ware Center:

  1. Bridge – connecting communities through shared experiences.
  2. Green Matters Natural Dye Company – bringing pollution free color to the textile industry.
  3. Lancaster Fellow Foodies – making​ ​healthy​ ​dinners​ ​easy​ ​while​ ​creating​ ​meaningful​ ​jobs​ ​and​ ​advancing​ ​eco-friendly​ ​farming.
  4. Language Beyond Borders – building communication, bridging cultures, creating jobs.
  5. Meraki Mocha – empowering people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through a farm-to-table café.

Tickets for the Live Pitch event can be obtained for $10 here. Doors open at 5:00 pm for a business expo, pitches begin at 7:00 pm. The pitches are followed by keynote speaker Tyler Gage, the cofounder of RUNA, a social enterprise company that makes beverages with guayusa from the Amazon rainforest. I hope to see you there!

Matt Landis is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University Commonwealth School of Law and works regularly with business owners and entrepreneurs.