Sunday 31 August 2008

Twittering the election

If you're interested in what people are Twittering about vis a vis the Presidential election, a Canadian blogger and political analyst has hacked together govtweets. This site t constantly updates with the latest Tweets that mention any of the political candidates (McCain, Obama, Palin, and Biden). He also created a Facebook app. The Tweets automatically update and scroll down the page.

Saturday 30 August 2008

Tuesday 26 August 2008

New site shows history of Presidential elections

A project called "Voting America United States Politics, 1840-2004" is now online, courtesy of the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond. The website provides cinematic & interactive maps and analysis of the U.S. Presidential elections from 1840-2004. This unique resource focuses on election data to the county level, helping users understand the nuances of our electoral history. It allows users to compare elections and see the significance of individual elections by geographic region, political party, voter turnout, voter demographics and more in a stimulating visual environment.

Monday 25 August 2008

Yahoo search drops Boolean

Online magazine reports that Yahoo! search has dropped support for full Boolean queries. The NOT and AND operators are gone; the OR operator still works. Since AND is the default, it is not always needed. The NOT operator can be replaced with the minus sign before a term, but nesting with parentheses fails, especially for a search like (term1 AND term2) OR (term3 AND term4). Google still accepts the most popular Boolean terms, and Exalead even supports the NEAR operator. Live Search is now the only major search engine with full Boolean support.

Ever wonder what happens to old cellphones?

Technology Review has an interesting pictorial essay on "Where cellphones go to die."

Booker Prize long list

The longlist of books nominated for the 2008 Man Booker Prize is:
The short list of 5 contenders will be announced Sept. 9.
The Man Booker Prize is the world's most important literary award and promotes the finest in fiction by rewarding the very best book of the year. Any full-length novel, written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland and published this year, is eligible for the prize. The novel must be an original work in English (not a translation) and must not be self-published

Thursday 21 August 2008

Microsoft Photosynth wins praise

Walter Mossberg, the WSJ's tech guru, writes this week about Photosynth, a new free web-based service from Microsoft. Photosynth turns multiple photos of a scene or site into a 3-D scene you can “walk” through on the Web. A Photosynth creation, called a “synth,” is a virtual 3-D environment that gives you the feeling you are in the middle of a room looking around, or circumnavigating a building or object. You can travel through a scene both laterally and vertically, and zoom in to see detailed, higher-resolution views of objects inside the synth, such as paintings on a wall. Photosynth will be launched at midnight tonight at

13 new databases from ULS

ULS has announced the acquisition of 13 new databases. None are legal databases but a few may be of use to legal researchers:
  • The Economist Historical Archive, 1843-2003 - a complete searchable copy of every issue of The Economist from 1843 to 2003. New full-color images, multiple search indexes, exportable financial tables and a gallery of front covers highlighting a key topic of each week combine to offer a primary source of research covering the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • European Sources Online : their blurb says “ESO provides access to thousands of expertly selected, well known and less well known websites, documents and publications from the EU and other international organisations, national governments, think tanks, stakeholder organisations, working papers etc, full text articles from authoritative news sources Financial Times and European Voice, plus bibliographic records to key academic textbooks and periodical articles, and a series of unique Information Guides compiled by the ESO Editorial Team.”
    It includes a topic guide called “How to find legislation, caselaw and other EU policy-making information.”
  • Social Explorer: Easy access to demographic information about the United States from 1790 to 2000 (data from the US Census). Also prepares reports compiling and comparing data.
The other new databases are:
  • APABI - a collection of Chinese language e-books.
  • Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology - a major encyclopedia for the social sciences.
  • Columbia Gazetteer of the World - online version of the well known reference source.
  • Columbia Granger's World of Poetry - 250,000 searchable full-text poems; foreign language poems, commentaries, and streaming audio are available.
  • Garland Encyclopedia of World Music - over 1,200 articles detailing aspects of music from around the world.
  • Literature Criticism Online - literary criticism and information on authors
  • New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics - a dictionary of economics and related fields.
  • Sabin Americana, 1500-1926 - based on Joseph Sabin's landmark bibliography, a collection of works about the Americas published throughout the world from 1500 to the early 1900's; over 6 million pages from 29,000 works.
  • Statesman's Yearbook Online - online version of the well known reference source.
  • 19th Century British Library Newspapers - full runs of 48 newspapers specially selected by the British Library to best represent nineteenth century Britain.

Wednesday 20 August 2008

SEC will phase out EDGAR

The SEC has announced that it has developed a new database, IDEA, that will eventually replace the EDGAR database. EDGAR provides business and financial information including SEC Filings, financial information and analytic tools on over 30,000 global companies. IDEA is a faster and more interactive platform for this information.

EEOC report on the federal workforce

The EEOC has announced that they have published their annual report on the federal work force. The report shows that in the 2007 fiscal year federal employees and applicants filed 16,363 complaints alleging employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, disability and reprisal. Of the 7,673 cases closed on the merits, 2.8% resulted in findings of unlawful discrimination. In addition, the parties entered into settlements in 3,262 complaints, or 20.6% of the total complaint closures.

Tuesday 19 August 2008

Westlaw on Macs

Just in time for school, here are helpful tips from Ryan Vandegrift, our Westlaw academic representative.
Macintosh Compatibility with West Products
Products not compatible with a Mac:
· LawDesk (this may work on the PC portion of the new Mac operating system but there is no tech support)
· CiteLink
· WestCheck Software
· West BriefTools
· WestLegalEdCenter
· Elegalines
· Gilbert's Quizzer Flashcards
· Gilbert's Quizzer Essay Workshop
· Black's Law Dictionary Digital
· LiveNote version 9
· Most software programs sold by West
Products supported on a Mac:
· BarBri and Studysmart
· Micromash
Westlaw - Mac Compatibility issues:
Pop up blockers on Mac with Safari and FireFox:
This issue is fixable. Add to preferences if Westlaw not working on Mac:
Known Mac Issues:
Save your Password option/preference does not work
Copy with Reference not available
Smart Labels does not work

Web sites that may be of interest:

Monday 18 August 2008

50 Best Law Firms for Women

Working Mother magazine has just published its second annual survey of the Best Law Firms for Women. What makes a law firm good for women? Law firms that allow flexible work arrangements and are committed to helping more women make it to partner by hosting networking groups for female lawyers (98 percent), mentoring senior female associates (68 percent) and offering management training to teach women the skills they need to advance (62 percent).

Friday 15 August 2008

The Dark Librarian

hat tip Joe Hodnicki at Law Librarian Blog.

New website aims to link inventors with retailers

Thomas Edison once said, "Anything that won't sell, I don't want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success."A new website called Edison Nation is aiming to provide the success and utility Edison spoke of by linking inventors with retailers who might be interested in their inventions. The site provides an easier way for would-be inventors to navigate the often costly and complicated course of taking an idea from conception to store shelves. They have signed on a number of retailers like Spencer Gifts and Bed, Bath and Beyond to support the site. Human experts and artificial intelligence technology scour through the submissions and select those to be sent on to a retailer. If a retailer selects an idea, the inventor will receive a $2,500 advance and annual payments based on commercialization.

Thursday 14 August 2008

Moon Man wins 1st in Bulwer-Lytton contest

The 2008 Bulwer-Lytton prizes have been awarded, and Garrison Spik, a 41 yr. old man from Moon, took first prize. An international literary parody contest, the competition honors the memory (if not the reputation) of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873). The goal of the contest is childishly simple: entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. The prize for Purple Prose was won by another Pittsburgher, Christopher Wey.

Wednesday 13 August 2008

HeinOnline technical problems

For everyone's information, this bulletin from HeinOnline:
" Brief Update on the HeinOnline System Issues
HeinOnline is experiencing technical and server issues. Some of you may notice an impact on your overall performance where as others may seem like you are unaffected. We are routing users to new servers to minimize the impact and provide full system access with browsing and searching capabilities across all 40 million pages. However, depending upon your gateway, we may not be able to route you to the proper server. Users accessing HeinOnline via Serial Solutions, Shibboleth, or other third parties may not be able to function at full capacity due to the third party redirecting you back to the original server. These users may be unable to perform searches when directed to the old server. We are working diligently to bring the old server back to full capacity.. Thank you for your continued patience as we work to bring our system capacity back to 100% for all users. "

Monday 11 August 2008

The places where writers write

The UK Guardian has an interesting series on Writers' rooms - portraits of the spaces where authors create. Martin Amis , Sue Townsend, Charlotte Bronte, Virginia Woolf, Rudyard Kipling and many more. Pretty much all UK, though.
Hat tip the LISNews blog.

Green computing tips

PC Magazine has 5 tips for saving energy and resources in your day-to-day computer use. Some of them are obvious but others are helpful. Meanwhile, several stories in the news report that computers that rich countries are "donating" to African countries are causing quite a few problems.

Saturday 9 August 2008

Meme timeline

The timeline website "Dipity" has a timeline of internet fads and memes. It has everything from LOLcats to hamsterdance to Diet Coke and Mentos to "the website is down"; it's a great trip down memory lane .

Friday 8 August 2008

California Bar Exam and the earthquake

The Chronicle of Higher Ed. reports that the earthquake that struck California last week happened five minutes before the bar exam was finished, and some of the test-takers had to dive under their seats. Apparently some of them were allowed an extra five minutes and some weren't, so there is some controversy.
A notice (pdf) posted on the California bar website reassures visitors that in light of the earthquake "During the grading process the Committee’s psychometric consultant has been asked to perform a psychometric study on whether the earthquake impacted applicants’ performance on the first session of the examination and to report his findings to the Committee prior to the release of results from the examination. " It adds "While the Committee regrets that this incident occurred, the fact that it did was beyond its control."

Wikipedians meet at the library in Alexandria, Egypt

The New York Times reports that the new library in Alexandria, Egypt was the location of Wikimania, a meeting of over 600 people who write the Wikipedia entries. Wikipedia, now going on eight years old, is many times more extensive than anything in print, comprising 2.5 million articles in English. Wikipedias have sprung up in 263 other languages, including Sanskrit, Choctaw and Twi. Wikipedians believe that bits will outlast paper; outgoing board chairwoman Florence Devouarda is quoted as saying that "a library is often a place with a lot of dusty documents, poorly connected."

Thursday 7 August 2008

Homeland Security report

CACI International and the National Defense University (NDU) have released a report entitled "Dealing With Today's Asymmetric Threat to U.S. and Global Security: The Need for an Integrated National Asymmetric Threat Strategy." The report is an executive summary of a May 2008 symposium. It is hoped that the report will stimulate conversation about the need to develop a newnational defense and homeland security strategy which will address thethreats related to everything from Islamic extremism to natural disaster.
Thanks to Greta Marlatt, Homeland Security Digital Library Content Manager, for keeping us updated on homeland security information.

Tuesday 5 August 2008

Web 2.0 resources

I've been working as a "facilitator" for the Web 2.0 Challenge, a group teaching project organized by the Computer Services librarians of the AALL. I'm working with a group of 5 "students" who are all law librarians wanting to learn more about using web 2.0 technologies in law libraries.
The past week our assignment was to work on a wiki together. The result has been a really wonderful wiki with lots of interesting resources and ideas about how we can use them in law libraries.

Friday 1 August 2008

25 best legal movies

The feature story of the ABA Journal this month was an article about the 25 best legal movies ever made, and they also list 25 runners up. You can also vote for your favorites on their site.

At NYU, law students buy & sell seats

No I am not making this up. The ABA Journal has a story about a new phenomenon, first reported in the New York Post. As the add/drop deadline approaches, NYU Law students are offering money, gift certificates, and who knows what else for spots in classes that are already fully enrolled. They post their requests and offers on the school's online forums. Postings such as the e-mail that pleads, "WANT: Entertainment Law, Will Pay Cash."
At NYU, class registration works on a lottery basis. After the courses are distributed, students can drop or try to add them. Because there are no waiting lists, students make under-the-table seat swaps by arranging for one to drop a class just a moment before the other shows up to add it.
No word on how much is actually paid for a coveted class seat.

New NTIS newsletter

The National Technical Information Service (NTIS) has begun to publish a free monthly Newsletter that highlights and alerts you to recently indexed and abstracted titles of reports published in particular categories - the first issue is about Going Green. Future editions will feature various NTIS content categories and showcase the relevancy of past U.S.Government technical reports to the current issues of our times. You can request a free subscription to the newsletter by emailing your name and emailaddress to .
NTIS is a part of the US Dept. of Commerce. It serves as the largest central resource for government-funded scientific, technical, engineering, and business related information; for more than 60 years NTIS has provided businesses, universities, and the public timely access to approximately 3 million publications covering over 350 subject areas.
The NTIS mission is to support the Dept. of Commerce to promote the nation's economic growth by providing access to information that stimulates innovation and discovery.

National Defense Strategy

The US Department of Defense has announced the release of the 2008 National Defense Strategy (NDS) (29 page pdf). It's an interesting read. The document outlines the national approach to the defense of the United States and its interests. It starts by defining 5 major objectives of the DoD: defend the Homeland; win the Long War; promote security; deter conflict; and win our nation's wars. The document goes on to discuss how the DoD plans to achieve all these objectives "by shaping the choices of key states, preventing adversaries from acquiring or using WMD, strengthening and expanding alliances and partnerships, securing U.S. strategic access and retaining freedom of action, and integrating and unifying our efforts."
The NDS is issued periodically; the last one was published in March 2005.