Friday, 31 August 2007

California Bar rejects scholars' request for data

According to an article in today's National Law Journal, the California bar has refused a request for data it collects regarding bar exam test-takers' race, gender and other details for research. The request came from by a group of legal scholars conducting research related to affirmative action admissions in law schools.

Blawgosphere and scholarship

An article today on Law dot com asks "Is the future of legal scholarship in the blogosphere?" The author, Margaret Schilt (faculty services librarian at the University of Chicago law library), takes a thoughtful look at law blogs written by legal scholars. One of her conclusions is that even if blogging will never replace traditional legal scholarship, blogs are where the scholarly dialogue increasingly takes place." She also suggests that law librarians need to figure out how to preserve this increasingly important online source of scholarship.

It's nice to know you're not alone.

The internet can connect us to others in similar situations, where we can learn from each other.
Just for 1L's, the law librarians at Lewis and Clark have pulled together a list of helpful tips and website links for the class of 2010.
Over at the Adjunct Professors Law Prawfs Blog, Mitchell Rubenstein has compiled a linked list of websites for Adjunct Professors.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

wikipedia redux

I blogged a couple of weeks ago about a program called Wikiscanner that lets you find out who's editing Wikipedia. Well since that program came out there have been any number of shocking! shocking! revelations about people doing some vanity-editing of Wikipedia. Concurring Opinions blogged about law firms doing a little editing.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

The CyberCemetery

Just heard about this one - CyberCemetery a website for defunct U.S. government agencies and commissions hosted by the University of North Texas and the GPO. It's a nice clean user interface, easy to use, you can search or browse without any trouble. It has links to the Wayback Machine, the Clinton administration webpages, and other collections of govt. info. Extra credit for the cool name.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

budgeting for law publications, print and online

An exchange on the law-lib listserv yesterday caught my eye. A firm librarian from Akron sent out a general request for information that would help her draw up her 2008 library budget. She was trying to be realistic about the increase in cost of legal publications - she said she was using "the AALL price index for legal publications and did my own check by randomly selecting titles from our collection and comparing the prices for 2006 and 2007."

What was interesting was the response that her posting elicited from Ken Svengalis, who was a longtime law librarian of the RI state library and is now a consumer watchdog for legal publishing. He wrote a scathing indictment of the AALL's price index and the cozy relationship between the AALL and some legal publishers. He also provided a link to the powerpoint presentation he gave at the AALL conference in July that details the economics of the legal publishing business.

Monday, 27 August 2007

NASA imagery to go online

Cool digitization news: NASA is going to digitize EVERYTHING in its archives, which contain a 50-year collection of photos, videos, films and other material that's been gathered in manned and unmanned space missions. They've selected a professional, nonprofit digitization organization called Internet Archive to team with them and provide the digitization expertise. The two organizations are teaming through a non-exclusive Space Act agreement to help NASA consolidate and digitize its imagery archives using no NASA funds.
"We're dedicated to making all human knowledge available in the digital realm," said Brewster Kahle, digital librarian and founder of Internet Archive. Laudable.

Almanac of Higher Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education's annual Almanac of Higher Education, which contains national and state-by-state data on colleges and universities, appears online today. You can browse the Almanac by topic, do a search, or choose a state from a dropdown menu.

Saturday, 25 August 2007


That's Too Busy To Blog, which is what it's been like in the Barco Law Library during the past 2 days of student orientation!
Library and Info. Science news reports that a emc2,a Web-Based School and Library Administration site is now available online. It's geared towards helping school libraries manage their resources, but the page that I like is the ISBN lookup page, which does just that.

Hat tip to Katie Nye for telling me about, a search engine for federal caswlaw online. There's an article about it online in Information Week

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Google Sky

There's a story in today's paper about a new feature on Google Earth that's called Google Sky - just as the name suggests, it lets you look at the sky, see images that show planets and constellations and provide information about the solar system. You can watch supernovas grow brighter and then fade, and zoom into a gas cloud to see a star being born.
What's especially cool is that the Pittsburgh branch of Google is responsible for developing Google Sky - they're located in that new building that's on the edge of Panther Hollow and the edge of the CMU campus.
If you'd like to check out Google Sky feature, you have to first download Google Earth if you haven't done so yet. Once Google Earth is installed you just click on "Switch to Sky" from the "view" drop-down menu or click the Sky button on the toolbar.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Google and govdocs

A govdocs librarian from the University of Wisconsin Memorial Library gives an update of the govdocs arm of Google Books, the giant, ambitious Google digitization project. Wisconsin is one of the libraries involved in the Google Books partnership, and she reports that they are in the early stages of sending government document volumes to Google - currently, Wisconsin state documents. She adds this reminder: "One thing to keep in mind: Google is interested in digitizing a lot of content. Google’s primary mission is to "organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful." Their ultimate goal is comprehensiveness; they are not focused on building a complete collection of government documents organized as government documents, or any other type of material as a particular collection."

Inmates with laptops

New Jersey inmates are the first in the country to have access to laptop computers that they can use in their cells to do legal research. The Bergen County Jail is rolling out 80 laptops for use by the jail's 1,000 inmates according to a report in the North Jersey Record.
The laptops will allow the prisoners to use Westlaw for legal research. Prison officials say that this addresses a safety issue - every time inmates are allowed to go to the jail library to use Westlaw there is a risk. "There's a risk each time you open a cell door," said Bergen Sheriff Leo P. McGuire, "and our library was getting too busy."
The extra-rugged 3 lb. laptops are manufactured by Psion Teklogix of Canada.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

new Google maps feature

Today Google Maps rolled out a new embedding feature. It gives you code so you can embed a Google map into your blog, website, etc. Let's see how well it works, here's a map I made of the Barco Law Building.

View Larger Map

comment: hmmm. I had zoomed in on the map much more closely than the embedded map displays.

#27: Al Gore has always been running for President

That comes right after #26, Katie Couric has always had screen cred.
If it's schooltime, then it's also time for Beloit College to publish this year's Mindset List - a snapshot of the mindset of the incoming college freshman class. This year's list is for the class of 2011; but you can see the Mindset List for our own 1L's (or at least the one's who are coming straight from college) by looking at the class of 2007 (Paul Newman has always made salad dressing, Computers have always fit in their backpacks.)

"internet gadfly" challenges Westlaw, Lexis

Carl Malamud, the founder of of Public.Resource.Org, believes that public domain information should be free. In the New York Times Sunday edition there was a story about
Public Resource's latest project: a database that will contain all of US caselaw - more than 10 million pages - that will be freely available online. The project website just went live yesterday.
This is just one of Public Resource's ambitious project, an organization whose purposes are "to create, architect, design, implement, operate and maintain public works projects on the Internet for Educational, Charitable, and Scientific Purposes to the benefit of the general public and the public interest; to increase and diffuse knowledge about the Internet in its broadest sense; to promote and facilitate the expansion, development, and growth of the public infrastructure of the Internet by any means consistent with the public interest through other activities, including, but not limited to, publications, meetings, conferences, training, educational seminars, and the issuance of grants and other financial support to educational institutions, foundations and other organizations.
You can read more about the project on the OReilly Radar blog; the posting includes a letter from Mr. Malamud to Thomson West asking them to explain what information they consider to be proprietary versus public domain.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Quote of the Day

Philanthropist Brooke Astor died last Monday at the age of 105. A patron and trustee of the New York Public Library, she is quoted in the Sunday New York Times : For her 100th birthday luncheon, when she was asked whom she wanted as guests, she replied without hesitation: “One hundred librarians.”

legal research engine

Cornell Law Library has just announced its new website, which includes a legal research engine ("Easy access to authoritative legal research guides on every subject.")- and all sorts of other interesting stuff. Check it out!

Throwing away the books

Genie Tyburski of The Virtual Chase has written an article that asks "Can we throw away the books yet?" Her answer is a qualified "No".
I recommend you read this whole thoughtful article to see why.
Genie is a professional legal researcher who has worked in law libraries for more than 20 years. She writes for trade journals and newsletters, including Law Office Computing, Law Practice Magazine and The CyberSkeptic's Guide to Internet Research and she is editor of Introduction to Online Legal, Regulatory & Intellectual Property Research.

Lawyers Without Borders Seeks Book Donations

Lawyers Without Borders requests donations of law books for law libraries serving courts and lawyers in Albania and Liberia. English-language major treatises, hornbooks, and other publications focusing on American law and legal institutions are sought for the law library of the Supreme Court of Albania. Donations of books for Liberia will go to the University of Liberia Louis Arthur Grimes Law School, as well as judges, students, and lawyers in Liberia. They are particularly looking for complete sets of the AmJur series: any edition of AmJur, AmJur Forms, and AmJur Trials. Specifics about where to send donations can be found on the LWOB website.

Ingmar Bergman

The great Swedish filmmaker died July 30. This brief video from Slate showcases some of his lesser known work.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

full text book searching

There's an interesting (at least for librarians) article by Blake Carver on the Library and Information Science News website that discusses electronic searching of full text books. Blake points to a nice chart by Greg Notess comparing Amazon, Google Books, Internet Archive Text Archive, and Live Search Books.

Images that Changed the World

This doesn't have anything to do with legal research, or law school, or computers in libraries... but what the heck, it's the weekend.

Here's a blogposter (the Daily Planet) that shows images that changed the world. Here's another blogpost titled "13 photographs that changed the world" (from Never Give Up) with some of the same, some different. As the author says, "Any picture can speak 1,000 words, but only a select few say something poignant enough to galvanize an entire society. " And another one (Pinguys website).

Saturday, 18 August 2007

HeinOnline gets a little easier

HeinOnline is trumpeting their new "Enhanced Citation Navigator". Finally! All you have to do is enter the citation in a box and click "enter". No more tedious scrolling through the dropdown menu or list of all the law reviews on the website. Good work, Hein!
There's a brief explanatory powerpoint presentation on their website. If you're off-campus, you will need get to it through the site.

The Lexis tool for building links

I often use Lexis' Link Builder for making quick links to citations in Lexis. It's easy to use - just a simple search box -and you don't have to download anything onto your computer. It creates both html that you can insert into a website and a URL that you can just copy and paste into your browser.
Usually I'm making links to statutes or cases or law review articles. But today I needed to make links for several newspaper and magazine articles that are available on Lexis - and I discovered that this is more complicated because these were not official citations that Link Builder could use.
An example: make a link for the article "Value of Health Care Is Tallied In Growth of Life Expectancy (WSJ, Aug 31, 2006) I had to go to the "Any Source" tab on Link Builder - which asked for Library and File, as well as search terms. Library and File? I had to look up the library and file for the WSJ (library is MEGANW, file is WSJNL, found through the Source Locator ) and use the search HEADLINE(Value of Health Care Is Tallied In Growth of Life Expectancy). The link that this search created did indeed go to the article I wanted.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Westlaw Watch

I keep forgetting to blog about Westlaw Watch, a slick little resource available to us on Westlaw. I discovered it by accident a couple of weeks ago when I asked Ryan Vandegrift, our Westlaw rep, about creating links or even searches into Westlaw that I could add to our website, to provide easy access to common searches.
Westlaw Watch is geared towards law firms with intranets, but it's useful to law schools too, and Barco's subscription includes access to it. Check it out - log into Westlaw Watch using your usual Westlaw login and go to the Create tab at the righthand top of the page. When you click on the top two links of the tab you can set up a current awareness clip that monitors all the news sources about a particular topic or monitor one particular database like the New York Times - you can even monitor the legal news in the NYT rather than the whole paper.
But the best link under Create lets you create a Westlaw Module. This allows you to set up a searchbox for whatever searches you use all the time (9th circuit cases, profile an attorney or judge, etc.). Westlaw Watch creates an attractive searchbox and gives you the code so that you can embed the searchbox into your website or blog.
The interface is sophisticated but very clean and easy to use. And I have to admit that I like the lighthouse in the page heading, and the fact that the whole website is done in Pitt colors!

Law profs on the first day of class

Over at the Law School Innovation Blog Professor Douglas Berman has posted what he sees as the three basic ways faculty approach teaching on the first day of class:
"1) The Traditional Method. Hand out the syllabus. Intone some elementary rules for class. Perhaps introduce self and others. End early. Admittedly, this bare-bones approach has some advantages-- especially at schools where people are class-shopping early in the quarter.
2) The Special Method. Introduce themes of the class in a dynamic way. Illustrate with stories. Use some reading to make the point. Call on students to help them define the broad messages of the class. End on time.
3) The Regular-Day Method. Treat the first day the same as every other day-- use readings and call on students to cover the first full day of doctrinal material. End on time or a little late."

Has anyone experienced or done anything different, especially anything wonderfully different?

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Historic US Census info

The University of Michigan has been organizing the information from the US Census since 1790 into databases that make searching easier. For example, The Census Question Data Base (in .xls spreadsheet format) provides the exact wording of Census questions since 1790, arranged by year, with a comparison to the question asked in 2000. All the databases are available on their Historic Census Publications page.

telephone directory for cellphones

Intelius has reportedly just released a new comprehensive cellphone directory that Intelius claims contains the cellphone numbers of more than half of all U.S. subscribers - and they plan to have about 240 million numbers (practically all cellphones in the country) within the next two weeks.
If you're worried about telemarketing calls, you can list your cellphone on the National Do Not Call Registry.

hat tip: The Virtual Chase

Can you rely on email in an emergency?

The Chronicle of Higher Education says maybe not. They point to a story from the University of Iowa, where mass e-mails warning people about a bomb threat at the University took 11/2 to 2 hours to reach all 45,000 users in the university’s database.

Wikipedia discussions

There was an interesting article by Lee Gomes in the Wall Street Journal yesterday entitled "Forget the Articles,Best Wikipedia Read Is Its Discussions." He points out insightfully that one of the most fascinating aspects of Wikipedia lies in the discussion tab at the top of page. When you view the discussion you get to see the history of the back and forth between all the people working on the entry. It can get especially entertaining for entries about legal terms - for example, the Wikipedia discussion about the term "fair use" involves, among other things, the comment from a French Wikipedia contributor that "this has been discussed in length on fr Tarquin, and the conclusion was that there was not any translation for that word and notion of fair use in French."
Reading the Discussion can be, as Gomes points out, mildly addictive. To add to the interest, a Cal Tech grad student has developed a software program called Wikiscanner that lets you see who's doing the editing.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Current Law Journal Content

Shoutout to Val for this resource: Current Law Journal Content from Washington & Lee law school. The Explanation page does have some information although it could be clearer - see also the W & L library page on feeds. You can sign up to receive a variety of content in a variety of ways on the main page.

legal conferences blog(s)

The University of Washington's Legal Conference Blog has agreed to merge with a similar blog established here at Pitt, U. W. will handle the conferences and call for papers while Pitt takes care of information about workshops and Research Dean and Teaching Resource pages.
Excellent collaboration.

A cautionary tale

Yesterday I got an email attachment - a Microsoft Word document - that I couldn't open. Actually I knew something was up when I saw the (ominous) name of the document: it ended in ".docx" instead of plain old ".doc". Turned out that the person sending it had just been upgraded to a new computer at work and was using Microsoft Word 2007. And if you don't happen to have the 2007 version on your computer you get dragged to some Microsoft website (the Orwellian "Help and Support" site) and forced to download a "viewer" onto your computer (if you're so antediluvian that you're using a 56K modem it'll take an hour and 15 minutes for the download) just so you can read a docx. Hey, nice one Microsoft. Good thing you weren't in charge back when we were all using books and paper; just when we learned how to read you would've switched all the books to Russian and made us hire a translator, right?
On a happier note, the Mossberg Solution reviewed the new upgraded Apple computer and iLife Suite today. They loved it. After 15 minutes they were able to make a video mashup of clips from home videos.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Anne X. Alpern, Pitt Law Alumnus and PA's first female Attorney General

Pitt has announced that Hillman is featuring an exhibit of the papers of Anne X. Alpern. The sampling of letters, papers, photographs, and political cartoons, which will be on display through Oct. 31, provide insight into Alpern's career and personal life as well as political and public events in Pittsburgh and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. There are also two photos from the collection online.

bepress purchases Digital Commons™

Bepress has announced that they have purchased ownership of Digital Commons™, "the World’s Leading Hosted Institutional Repository", from ProQuest, part of the Cambridge Information Group.

students in libraries

Yet another excellent article in the Chronicle, this one about how college students use libraries in their work. An anthropologist and a librarian from Rochester did the study, which involved spending lots of time with students, watching them and talking to them about how they work. The results of the study will be published in a book due out next month from the Association of College and Research Libraries. The researchers were surprised at how involved parents are with their children's work even at the college level. The University of Rochester used the information to help guide a library renovation and a Web-site redesign, and led to changes in the way the library markets itself to students - "the library was once merely a stop on the freshman-orientation tour. Now, after seeing how involved moms and dads are in homework, the library holds a breakfast for parents during orientation."

legal and ethical dilemma of disruptive students

Yesterday the Chronicle of Higher Education reported on an interesting article in the Journal of Legal Studies Education (this is a subscription that must be accessed at a University computer or using the VPN) in which 2 law professors discuss the legal and ethical difficulties that universities face in dealing with disruptive students.

Monday, 13 August 2007

The European Library

The European Library provides the services of a physical library and the opportunity to benefit from a virtual environment in 20 languages. It allows you to search through the resources, both digital and bibliographical (books, posters, maps, sound recordings, videos, etc.), of the national libraries involved in The European Library.Currently The European Library gives access to 150 million entries across Europe. The amount of referenced digital collections is constantly increasing.
The digital collections of "full participants" are accessible through the HOME and COLLECTIONS pages; these are the national libraries of Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania , Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with ICCU (the national central cataloguing institute from Italy).
The digital collections of Basic Participants will be included at a later stage; the 17 Basic Participants are the national libraries of Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova , Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia - Moscow, Russia - St. Petersbourg, San Marino, Turkey, Ukraine and Vatican City.

New look for TWEN

Westlaw now has an online tutorial that explains what's new in the "new" TWEN.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Webcast "Torture, Detainees, & the U.S.Military"

The Law Library of Congress has announced that their webcast of a Panel Discussion - "Torture, Detainees, & the U.S. Military"is available on their website.
The Law Library Scholar in Residence, Gary Solis, moderated the panel discussion touching on several current topics: Guantanamo; "high value" detainees; military commissions; fair trials; and allegations of torture by agents of the U.S., including military personnel. Speakers on the panel are US Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, US Marine Corps. Brigadier General James C. Walker, NPR correspondent Jacki Northam, and Lee A. Casey of Baker Hostetler. According to the LLC "With their extensive personal involvement in combatant operations, expertise in legal issues relating to prisoner torture and mistreatment, and their association with legislative concerns, the panelists provided tremendous insight to these timely subjects." The webcast is 1 1/2 hours long and was recorded on July 11, 2007.

Friday, 10 August 2007

goodbye, sunshine.

The ABA Journal reports that law librarians working for law firms are spending more of their time "rainmaking", increasing their prominence and influence with firm lawyers. The results of the survey are available on Law dot com (registration required).

Blogging from US embassy libraries around the world

Shout-out to Val for this one: ircworld is a "team" blog of nearly 180 information resource centers (IRCs), libraries and American centers located at U.S.embassies and consulates in more than 140 countries.
Although I wonder how many of those resource center people are participating, they only seem to post a couple of times a week - good posts, though.

Don't miss their "24/5 realtime reference service", an inspiration to us all.

The state agencies database wiki is alive and well!

In the month since I first blogged about the State Agency Databases wiki the Pennsylvania page has grown remarkably (there was nothing, nada, zip a month ago). Thanks to everyone who's been contributing. It's very easy to add to the wiki, so if you know of a useful PA government site please add it, it only takes a couple of minutes. Of course if you don't have the time or inclination to do it yourself you can shoot an email to the Pennsylvania state page "document specialist" to add - that would be me. :-)

Westlaw Web Plus beta

Westlaw Web Plus beta "Legally focused Web results" is the latest thing from Westlaw. Even though it's officially in "beta" mode it's prominently displayed on the front page of the research system.
It's a Googly interface, just a plain searchbox. You can search for a Legal Issue, Person, Company, Organization, News, or just search the Web. Type in your search terms as you would with Google, no need for boolean connectors or anything. Your results are displayed broken into categories: "All Results", "News", and "Blog Results"; you can filter these results by Subject, Domain (dot com, dot org, dot gov, dot edu, etc) or file format (pdf, doc, etc. ).
At the moment my searches always result in a fairly small number (less than 200) of links, but they're pretty on-point, and are law-related. I asked our Westlaw rep how they're making the search "legally focused" and guess what, they're doing it by hand - reference attorneys are making 2 lists of websites. One of the lists is "legally focused" websites, the other is NOT and is removed from the search universe.
Check it out, and let them know what you think. I hope it's a harbinger of things to come in online legal research.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Top 100 online resources for educators

The Chronicle of Higher Ed reports on a survey of e-learning tools. The Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies’ (based in England) has published a list of the "Top 100 Learning Tools" gathered from 88 educational consultants. The list includes a wide array of tech tools that professors have come to love, including Firefox, Blogger, Ning, and others. On the blog of the ACRL (Assn. of College and Research Libraries) there's a discussion of WHY libraries/databases didn't make the top 100 list. You can add your own comments.
I was pleased that I've used, looked at or at least heard of almost all of the tools. The one that I hadn't heard of was #100, Voicethread - so I immediately checked it out. I like it very much, it's easy to use and it's based on an interesting idea - adding stories to pictures, either by voice recording or by writing. So you might have a photo of your 3rd grade class that you put up on the site, and every person in the class can add a voice or text story to make the picture come alive.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

NEW! IMPROVED! LexisNexis Academic

LexisNexis Academic, the "Lexis light" database that ULS subscribes to and that we use for our non-lawschool patrons (our lawschool Lexis subscription has more extensive content) , has been overhauled and updated and looks very different.
A short list of some of the changes and improvements:
  • Shepard's Citations with coverage of all federal and state courts (does not have Statutes, at least not yet)
  • Company Dossier is included in all U.S. subscriptions
  • Search across broad content such as all news or all federal and state cases
  • Powerful source selection using language, geographic, topic, and other facets
  • Ability to create ad hoc combined sources
  • Power Search form supports full LexisNexis query language and operators
  • Sophisticated results clustering feature
  • SmartIndexing Technology™ throughout the interface
  • Support for article-level linking
  • Support for federated searching
  • Export citations to RefWorks
Thanks to Michele Kristakis for the information and for the assistance with getting it working on the Pitt campus.

Longlist for the Booker 2007

I just got an email from Publishers Weekly announcing the longlist of nominees for this year's Man Booker Prize - one of the biggies in the literary world. The Prize rewards the best novel of the year written by a living citizen of the British Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland or Zimbabwe. The long list has the "Booker Dozen" - the top 13 books chosen by an illustrious panel of judges, which will be whittled down to the short list and then the winner. I'm embarrassed to admit that when I read this year's list I recognized exactly ONE of the books - On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan - and I haven't even read it. So I was somewhat relieved to find that the Guardian book pages (always excellent and thorough coverage of the Booker prize) announced that the list is "one of the most remarkable surprises" in the Prize's history because of the number of "lesser-known" authors; 4 of the books are debuts.

ubiquitous computing: intelligent surfaces everywhere

This Popular Mechanics video explains how the new Microsoft coffee table computer works - and where all this is leading, to a future of "intelligent surfaces everywhere". A world where the wallpaper is smarter than you! Hmm... might be a little tough on self-esteem.

Pilot project: federal court audio online

The Administrative Office of the U. S. Courts announced yesterday that 2 federal courts (the U.S. District Court in Nebraska and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina) have become the first part of a pilot project to make audio recordings of courtroom proceedings publicly available online. Three other courts – the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Maine, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Alabama – will join the pilot project later this summer. The courts have integrated their recording and Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) systems to make some audio files available the same way written files have long been available on the Internet. The files will be available through the PACER system; the courts provide a brief video of how to obtain the files.

Making pdf's

Time was, if you wanted to make pdf's from documents you had to either buy Adobe Acrobat software (très cher) or be a Mac user (since Macs have built-in capability). But now there are many other options, and the Wall Street Journal's Mossberg Solution column compares and reviews several of them in today's column (which is freely available on Walt Mossberg's All Things Digital site). The Mac capability, a couple of free or inexpensive PC software programs, and Adobe's $10 a month service are all discussed.
Once you make those pdf's remember my previous post about pdf xchange viewer , a very cool free program with a boring name that lets you mark up and edit pdf's to your heart's content.

The new and improved ABA journal website

I meant to blog about the ABA Journal website last week, but I couldn't find the quote I wanted to use and then it just slipped my mind. At any rate, the website has been transformed - here's the quote, I finally found it - "Overnight, the ABA Journal's Web site went from Edsel to Ferrari" (from Legal Blog Watch at Law dot Com , which also contains several blawg reviews of the site) .
The new, improved site contains tons of legal news and information and is a joy to use. Take the quick website tour and see if you don't agree.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

India Online: "the melting continues"

We all know that the internet has affected our lives in many ways. An article in the India Times shows how profoundly the internet is changing the rest of the world too. The article states that the internet is "significantly changing the way India’s youth dream." It talks about a girl in Dehradun, a small city in northern India, who chats with friends from the U.S. and Iraq and who hopes to be a model on MTV Style Check. Referencing a study by JuxtConsult that looked at internet use in India, 2007, the story illustrates how radically the world is changing. Indian parents, no matter how illiterate, or poor, are encouraging their children to use the internet because for them it connotes knowledge and progress.
As one of the people interviewed for the article says: "You are under the same sky – geography, income no bar." Indeed.

BTW, I can't take credit for the post title "the melting continues" - I got it from the title of the JuxtConsult report (though it could apply to how this weather makes me feel!) Also, on the Google map there's a little green arrow pointing to the town of Dehraden, where the teenaged Indian girl lives. If you zoom in close enough you might be able to see her house.

comparison of plagiarism-busting software

The Chronicle of Higher Education has kindly provided a link to a chart comparing seven different software products that detect plagiarism in student papers. The chart was prepared by Liz Johnson, who manages the Plagiarism Project at the University System of Georgia.
Which begs the question: if you can become an expert in Plagiarism then will we soon see academic courses in the subject?

Monday, 6 August 2007

Bourne again

Computerworld reviews the Bourne Ultimatum from the IT point of view in order to answer the question: Can a movie include tech that isn't stupid?
As a bonus the review links to a story about the House's vote to extend warrantless surveillance for a while by approving amendments to the FISA Act.

Fake Steve Jobs unmasked

You may have read about the Fake Steve Jobs when the iPhone was launched. Fake Steve's blog has attracted a large audience Well a NY Times reporter has outed Fake Steve: he's really Daniel Lyons, an editor at Forbes magazine. His blog post yesterday was titled "Damn I am so busted, yo." Forbes Magazine has the story, including a video.

Sunday, 5 August 2007


When I got my SmartCILP email this week I decided to look at and possibly edit my "profile" that determines which law reviews are reported in my SmartCILP email.
I discovered that you can now select by Topic Headings, in addition to Subject and Journal Title. This is a very nice way to choose which law reviews you follow. Take a look and see if it helps you.
You will need our authorization code to get in and see your profile on SmartCILP.
And thanks to the librarians at the University of Washington's law school for providing this service! Email me for the code.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Note to self:

Here's another great free app that I just started using. It's called Jott. Have you ever had a stroke of genius but couldn't remember what it was? Or wanted to send an email to somebody - or a message to a group - when you weren't at your desk? If you have a cellphone Jott can help. You just set up a FREE account with Jott (it takes maybe 5 minutes) and store Jott's number in your cellphone. When you have a stroke of genius (like maybe when you're on the way to work) you just dial Jott, wait for the prompt, dictate your idea, and hang up. Jott then TRANSCRIBES your voice into text and emails the message to yourself or whomever. You can email these voice transcriptions to anybody, including groups of people. Jott can also send text messages. V. cool.

The law review article selection process

There's an article on SSRN that presents the results of an interesting empirical study on law review publishing and how law review editors choose which articles to publish. The authors study law review editors at all levels of the law school “tier” system and ask them weigh the importance of author credentials, topic, format, and timing of an article submission in making their selection decisions. Among the findings: higher-ranked journals rely more heavily on author credentials than lower-ranked journals; a majority of the editors at lower-tiered journals rated practice experience as an important factor in article selection. The article also contains specific commentary from the student editors about their process of selecting law review articles.

Mac vs. PC, southpark style

Some Friday fun.

600,426,974,379,824,381,952 ways to spell Viagra ...NOT*

Now that it's the end of the first week of our new email server I just went into my new "Spam" holding area to check what's been filtered. Mostly it was stuff that should've been filtered, but there were a few items and senders that I didn't want blocked; and then there were a few that gave me pause - like do I really want to continue hearing from Talbot's when they're having a sale?
Which reminded me of a fabulous story that's in the New Yorker this week, all about spam, the history of spam, why spam has metasticized, who spams, how they spam, who is battling spam, spam spam spam spam! Check it out.

*NOT note: Correction. There are actually 1,300,925,111,156,286,160,896 ways to spell Viagra. A slight mistake in the algorithm has now been corrected.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

:-) ;-)

Did you know that emoticons (aka smileys) were "invented" by a guy from Squirrel Hill? According to a recent New York Times feature story about the ubiquity of emoticons, the first person to use them was Scott Fahlman, a computer science professor at CMU.

U.S. National Archives film available on-demand from Amazon

MIT Technology Review is reporting that the National Archives has struck a deal with Amazon subsidiary Custom Flix DVD On Demand to make thousands of the NA's films and videotapes readily available for purchase on Amazon.
CustomFlix allows people and organizations like the National Archives to offer DVDs for sale on Amazon without inventory. DVDs are manufactured when customers purchase them, eliminating the risks and hassles associated with traditional distribution. Once a DVD is purchased on Amazon it is delivered to the customer within 24 hours.
What sort of content is the National Archives offering? The first project is Universal Newsreels dating from 1929 to 1967 that cover worldwide events in politics, entertainment, fashion, sports and technology. Historic moments in world history, such as the death of FDR, the end of WWII, the famous 1960 Nixon-Kennedy debate and the royal wedding of Princess Margaret, are all chronicled. Newsreel titles already available on Amazon range from "KENNEDY THROWS HAT IN RING" to "STEEL STRIKE SETTLED" to "designers preview their Spring collections" to "President Nasser launches construction of the Aswan High Dam project" and include scenes of the 1959 ''Kitchen Debate'' between then-Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in a model American kitchen on display in Moscow. ''The National Archives and Records Administration houses an amazing collection of motion picture titles that historically have been hard for the general public to access,'' said Dana LoPiccolo-Giles, managing director of CustomFlix Labs. ''Our DVD on Demand service will make these titles readily available for purchase.''
The National Archives stressed that the agreement is non-exclusive, unlike the controversial semi-exclusive deal the Smithsonian Institution recently struck with the cable television network Showtime.