Wednesday 28 October 2009

1L Required Career Training

Next Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009, Career Services is holding mandatory training for all 1Ls on how to use LexisNexis and Westlaw career resources. Note that the training will be in the Teplitz Moot Courtroom on the Ground Floor. The sessions will last for approximately 45 minutes. The schedule is as follows:

10:30 Section A
1:00 Section C
2:00 Section B

Any student who has a schedule conflict may attend any of the sessions. Attendance will be taken.

Important info about Westlaw accounts

This Sunday, Nov. 1, is the first “deadline” in Westlaw’s “Secure OnePass” rollout.
What does that mean?

1. If you rely on the Westlaw “Remember Me” feature to log in (your computer saves your password and logs you in automatically) …. it won’t work anymore.
The first time you try to log in with “Remember Me” all your “remembered” credentials will be turned off, and you will get an e-mail from Westlaw explaining what has happened, and including some of your log-in information to help you get signed back in.

2. If you sign in to Westlaw with your usual credentials you will be given a choice - proceed to as per usual, or opt to update your OnePass account immediately (if you use OnePass).
Even if you already use the OnePass “username” and “password” system you may have to update to a “strong” OnePass.
If you are one of the 13,000 faculty nationwide who DON’T have a OnePass set up, you will need to set up a “strong” OnePass.

3. You have until Jan. 31, 2010 to set up or update your OnePass. Until you do, you will get message reminders from Westlaw.

4. If you want to deal with this before Nov. 1, just go to and log in as usual. Once you have logged in, click on “Update” next to your name in the upper left corner of the screen. On the next page, in the West> OnePass box, create a “strong” username and password for yourself and submit.

5. What is a “strong” username and password?
a. Username:
must be unique
must be 8 – 70 characters
must contain TWO of the following: lowercase letter, uppercase letter, number, or one of these symbols .(period) @(at sign) –(dash) _ (underscore).
TIP: You can use your email address since it fulfills all the requirements.
b. Password:
must be 8 – 16 characters
must contain THREE of above requirements.
Can’t be the same as your username.

Monday 26 October 2009

Windows 7 review

Washington Technologyhas a thorough review of Windows 7, the new operating system from Microsoft. Their summary:
Pros: Quick boot-ups, fast activation of USB devices, good user interface tools.
Cons: No system performance upgrade compared with Vista, still has annoying Vista pop-ups, expensive for somewhat minor enhancements.
Performance: B
Ease of Use: A
Features: A-
Value: C (based on the retail price of $319.00 for the full Ultimate Edition).

Friday 23 October 2009

Tuesday 20 October 2009

Duke Law marks Open Access Week

The IT Dept. at Duke Law (specifically Wayne Miller, Asst. Dean for Academic Technologies) has announced that they are marking Open Access Week by relaunching the Duke Law Scholarship Repository . The Repository, originally made public in 2005, now holds over 1,600 works by Duke Law faculty, and links out to over 1,500 articles published in Duke's journals, which have been freely available on the Duke Law website since the late 1990s.
The repository will be developed over the next few months to include more student papers and dissertations, publications of our centers and programs, and video recordings of Duke Law conferences, workshops and lectures dating back to 2000.
You can read more here, including remarks about open access by law professors Richard Danner and James Boyle.

Chinese Electronic Resources at the ULS

There will be a workshop for librarians sponsored by the University Library System this Friday, Oct. 23, at 2 PM when Xiuying Zou will lead a Public Services Traiing Group session on Chinese Electronic Resources at the ULS: a Review and Update. The session will go over the Chinese electronic resources available at the ULS. The focus will be on the subject coverage, major functions, and search features of the new e-book databases and some of the most frequently used databases.

This session will be held in room 272 Hillman Library (not in the Amy Knapp Instruction Room). Alternatively, people can access the meeting remotely via Webex.

Google Editions

CNET news reports that Google has announced that it will launch Google Editions, an online bookstore, early in 2010. plans to open for business with about 500,000 available titles from a variety of publishers. The new service will not be device-specific so that e-books purchased through Google Editions will be available for any e-book reader. Google's e-books will be accessible through any Web-enabled computer, e-reader, or mobile phone instead of a dedicated device so that the content to be unchained from expensive devices such as Amazon's Kindle e-book reader.

Monday 19 October 2009

Westlaw strong OnePass Initiative

On November 1, 2009, West will begin the process of migrating all Westlaw users to a "strong OnePass". Ryan Vandegrift, our Westlaw representative, has been talking with the Westlaw folks and is hopeful that the changes will be as seamless as possible.
OnePass is the username and password that each user creates to access Westlaw. Once the migration to the "strong OnePass" is completed in January:
-- nobody will be able to access their accounts with their original Westlaw password which looks something like "012345ABCD" and
-- all OnePass logins must meet the WL security requirements. If you use a OnePass login to access Westlaw you may need to update your username and password to meet the new security requirements.
The new OnePass requirements are that your username must be Unique from all other usernames, from 8 to 70 characters in length and contain at least 2 of the attributes:
uppercase letter
lowercase letter
special characters
(Note that email addresses are valid usernames).
Passwords have to be from 8 to 16 characters and contain at least 3 of the above attributes.
There will be more info from Westlaw as they prepare for the migration. Meanwhile, if you don't use OnePass or if your OnePass username and password don't meet the security requirements.. plan ahead! Can anyone think of a 70 character username?

Blogger is 10 years old

Webpronews has a report and video about the 10th birthday of Blogger, Google's blogging platform (and the one used by Barco 2.0). A quick check shows that we first started blogging on May 27, 2004; more than 5 years ago! Anyway, in Webpronews's video they interview Blogger Product Manager Rick Klau, who has some interesting comments about blogging and Twittering. He points out that despite all the hype surrounding Twitter blogs are still growing as well - 290,000 words are now written on Blogger per minute worldwide, which represents an increase of 10 percent versus six months ago, and two-thirds of the world's blogs are outside of the US. Klau also says that Twitter and blogs “each have their place,” - blogging and microblogging aren’t part of a zero-sum game.

Friday 16 October 2009

Upcoming CALI webinars

Austin Groothuis, the Marketing Manager at CALI, recently sent out an announcement about upcoming free CALI webinars that may be of interest to Pitt Law librarians or faculty. All the webinars take place on Fridays at 3 PM EDT. You can click the links to sign up:
Oct 23: Advanced Twitter (Twitter from a Law School Communications Director's Perspective Part II) To effectively master Twitter, there is a lot you need to do beyond what we covered in our first Twitter webinar. Tonya Oaks Smith, Director of Communications at the UALR Bowen School of Law, will present on advanced Twitter topics as a follow-up to her popular August webinar.
Nov 13: Using CALI Lessons in Your Teaching Professors Deb Cohen, Southern New England School of Law, and Sally Wise, University of Miami School of Law, will guest present for this one.
Nov 27: Using Moodle for Your Law School Course Professor Vernellia Randall of the University of Dayton School of Law will present on using Moodle (, an open-source course management system.
Dec 11: Five Steps to Promoting CALI at Your School We'll cover free, easy, and effective ways to ensure your students know about CALI and CALI Lessons, some of the few free study tools available to them in law school.
By the way, video archives of past CALI webinars are available at

Thursday 15 October 2009

Inventor of the internet apologizes for the "//"

Tim Berners-Lee, who is credited with creating the world wide web, has apologized for putting the two forward slashes after the "http" of all web addresses, according to the Australian. He admitted that “forward slashes”
in internet addresses “were a mistake”. Saying that the ‘//‘ was pointless and unnecessary, Mr Lee confessed at a recent talk in US that at the time of creating the WWW, he had failed to predict how much effect what he was producing would have on people now. “When I designed the URL, this thing which starts http:// , the slash was to indicate we’re actually starting at the top, not starting down at the next slash. Really, if you think about it, it doesn’t need the //.... People are having to use that finger so much. Look at all the paper and trees that could have been saved if people had not had to write or type out those slashes on paper over the years — not to mention the human labour and time spent typing those two keystrokes countless millions of times in browser address boxes."

Wednesday 14 October 2009

100 years of technology fears

Ars Technica has an interesting historical retrospective : a look at 100 years of Big Content's fearmongering, in their own words. Remember when Lawrence Lessig spoke at Pitt Law, and told us about how John Philip Sousa in 1906 warned that recording technology would destroy the US pastime of gathering around the piano to sing music ("What of the national throat? Will it not weaken? What of the national chest? Will it not shrink?"). Well there are other instances of technofear. For example, regarding the Xerox machine; in 1972,Time magaizne quoted UCLA law professor Melville Nimmer as saying, "the day may not be far off when no one need purchase books" thanks to the sinister uses of the copier. There was the VCR in the 1970s, which a movie lobbyist predicted would result in tidal waves, avalanches, and bleeding and hemorrhaging by the music business. He compared the VCR to the Boston Strangler — in this scenario the US public was a woman home alone. Then home taping of music, digital audio tape, MP3 players, and Napster, each of which was predicted to lay waste to entire industries; and so on up to date with DVRs, HD radio, and HDTV. The article concludes with a quote from copyright expert William Patry in his book Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars: "I cannot think of a single significant innovation in either the creation or distribution of works of authorship that owes its origins to the copyright industries."

Monday 12 October 2009

Trial subscription to Fastcase

Through our membership in NELLCO Pitt Law has trial access to the Fastcase database. Fastcase is a smaller, cheaper legal database that offers an alternative to the more expensive Lexis and Westlaw. Fastcase is marketing itself through state bar associations, as it is particularly of interest to smaller law firms and solo practices.
The Fastcase database contents include 50-state and federal case law databases; Federal District, Bankruptcy, and Tax Courts; and Federal and state statutes and regulations. Robert Ambrogi, author of (among other things) the Legal Blog Watch , recently wrote an article comparing Fastcase with Casemaker, another database that is marketed to state bar associations, available here: Casemaker v. Fastcase by Robert Ambrogi (Westlaw login required).
We can't post the trial password information here, but if you would like to take a look at Fastcase just email Pitt Law's Electronic Research & Technology Services Librarian.

Saturday 10 October 2009

CIC-Google Government Documents Digitization Project

Google and the CIC have announced that they are partnering to digitize a comprehensive collection of U.S. Federal Documents, eventually creating a collection of between 1 and 1.5 million volumes (the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) is a consortium of the Big Ten universities plus the University of Chicago). The workflow and scanning process for the initiative was tested by the University of Minnesota, which has sent Google approximately 85,000 duplicate holdings. As the pilot phase draws to an end Penn State is preparing to move the project forward by readying a portion of its collection for scanning. Digital facsimiles of successfully scanned Federal Documents from Minnesota and other CIC institutions will be accessible through Google Book Search.

Friday 9 October 2009

West to make some law books available for Kindle

West publishing has announced that it is making nearly 30 of its titles available for electronic download for the Amazon Kindle. The addition of electronic versions of selected titles allows West to meet the needs of law students, law school faculty and legal professionals who are increasingly using new electronic media in the classroom, on the job and for personal use.
"We've been fascinated by the shift lawyers and law students in particular are making toward smartphones and electronic book readers," said Mike Suchsland, senior vice president, West. "Customers have responded favorably to our various iPhone and iPod touch apps, so we see this as a natural extension of our advanced media strategy - making key content accessible on a variety of mobile devices, beginning with the platforms from Apple and Amazon."
Included in the list of books now available for electronic download on for the Kindle device and Kindle app for iPhone and iPod touch is Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges, co-authored by Justice Antonin Scalia and Bryan Garner, editor-in-chief of Black's Law Dictionary; Writing a Legal Memo, and a number of the popular Nutshells.

Thursday 8 October 2009

Summer Bar Exam results now available

The Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners has posted the results of the July 2009 Bar Exam. Pitt Law had a pass rate of 92.9% for first-time takers, which represents a continued upward trend.

Monday 5 October 2009

Data dot gov is a new website from the federal government meant to "increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government" , which includes all federal agencies. There is a useful tutorial page to help you get started using the site. According to the site, a primary goal of is to improve access to Federal data and expand creative use of those data beyond the walls of government by encouraging innovative ideas (e.g., web applications). strives to make government more transparent and is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. The openness derived from will strengthen our Nation's democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government. Currently there are 592 datasets but more will be added. You can even suggest datasets that you would like to have added to the site.

OMG! Law Talk launches episode 1

The Slaw blog has announced the launch of OMG! Law Talk on YouTube. The first episode is 3 lawyers " talking about why we blog, why litigators are often reluctant to participate, and a couple other issues. "

The Federal Register online just got better

The Washington Post reports that as of today it is much easier to access the Federal Register. The launch of the new Federal Register is the outgrowth of President Obama's first executive order, which mandated greater transparency in federal government AALL's Mary Alice Baish is quoted in the article: "Mary Alice Baish, director of government relations for the American Association of Law Libraries, said members are "delighted" about the move. "This is a win-win situation for business, the regulatory community and consumers," she said".
There is also a blog called "FedThread" that allows anyone to annotate the Federal Register. Carl Malamud of Public Resource dot Org praises the GPO and Office of the Federal Register on BoingBoing, and adds that they are also making all the "Official Journals of Government" available for free in bulk; previous price was $17,000 a year per product.

Friday 2 October 2009

Supreme Court Database adds extensive analysis tools

The Supreme Court Database now has quite extensive analysis tools on its website. The newly expanded version is still officially in beta mode, but is very functional. The Supreme Court Database is the creation of Prof. Harold Spaeth of the Michigan State University College of Law, with contributions from various other illustrious law and politics scholars.
Among the extensive variables you can study are:
Identification Variables (Case, Docket, U.S. Reporter Citation, Supreme Court Citation, Lawyers Edition Citation , LEXIS Citation )
Background Variables: (Case Name, Petitioner, Petitioner State, Respondent, Respondent State, Manner in which the Court takes Jurisdiction , Administrative Action Preceeding Litigation , Administrative Action Preceeding Litigation State ,Three-Judge District Court , Origin of Case, Origin of Case State , Source of Case, Lower Court Disagreement, Reason for Granting Cert , Lower Court Disposition , Lower Court Disposition Direction, Chronological Variables , Date of Decision , Term of Court, Natural Court, Chief Justice, Date of Oral Argument, Date of Reargument)
Substantive Variables (Issue, Issue Area, Decision Direction, Decision Direction Dissent, Authority for Decision 1, Authority for Decision 2, Legal Provisions Considered by the Court, Legal Provision Supplement, Legal Provision Minor Supplement
Outcome Variables (Decision Type, Declaration of Unconstitutionality, Disposition of Case, Unusual Disposition, Winning Party, Formal Alteration of Precedent, Voting & Opinion Variables, Vote Not Clearly Specified, Majority Opinion Writer, Majority Opinion Assigner, Split Vote, Majority Votes, Minority Votes, Justice ID, Justice Name, The Vote in the Case, Opinion, Direction of the Individual Justice's Votes, Majority and Minority Voting by Justice, First Agreement, Second Agreement).

Thursday 1 October 2009

Holocaust Records Made Available

The National Archives and Records Administration and announced the release of the Internet’s largest Interactive Holocaust Collection with hundreds of thousands of records, including:
  • The Ardelia Hall Collection of records relating to the Nazi looting of Jewish possessions, including looted art
  • Concentration camp registers and documents from Dachau, Mauthausen, Auschwitz, and Flossenburg
  • Captured German records including deportation and death lists from concentration camps
  • Nuremberg War Crimes Trial proceedings.

Access to the collection will be available for free on through the month of October.