Friday 29 January 2010

State of the Union address online

The White House website has posted the text of President Obama's 2010 State of the Union Address. A summary of the major initiatives announced in the Address has been posted on the White House blog.

Monday 25 January 2010

NEW! ALR International on Westlaw

On January 11, 2010, Westlaw launched ALR International. ALR International will be available in print and online. The database identifier in Westlaw (login required) is ALR-INTL, and Westlaw describes the database in this way:
"ALR-INTL contains the full text of annotations included in American Law Reports International. Volume 1 of ALR International contains the following annotations:
• Construction and Application of United Nations Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, June 10, 1958, 330 U.N.T.S. 38, also known as "New York Convention"-Global Cases: Jurisdictional Issues, Construction of Essential Terms, Applicability of Convention to Action, Impact of Other Multilateral or Bilateral Agreements Upon Applicability of Convention, and Reciprocity Issues
• Construction and Application of Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters, March 18, 1970, 847 U.N.T.S. 231- Global Cases
• Construction and Application of United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, April 10, 1980, 1489 U.N.T.S. 3-Global Cases
• Construction and Application of Freedoms of Speech and Expression Articles (Arts. 18-20) and Right to Marriage Article (Art. 23) of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 16 December 1966, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, and National Constitutional Provisions Incorporating Such Articles--Global Cases
• Construction and Application of Article 1A of United Nations Convention Relating to Status of Refugees, July 28, 1951, 189 U.N.T.S. 137, Regarding Term "Refugee"--Global Cases ."

Search engine comparison

A new site called NoBrandSearch is an experiment to compare the core competencies of all the search engines in the market. Every time you search you will get two anonymous sets of search results side by side. Click on the result set you like the best, and you will get the name of both search engines. The idea is that this will give you an unbiased idea of the search quality of search engine like Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc. The site was developed by Hakia, which describes itself "as a general purpose "semantic" search engine, dedicated to quality search experience... Hakia’s semantic technology provides a new search experience that is focused on quality, not popularity. hakia’s quality search results satisfy three criteria simultaneously: They (1) come from credible Web sites recommended by librarians, (2) represent the most recent information available, and (3) remain absolutely relevant to the query."

Open Government Workshop held at Princeton

A workshop called "Open Government: Defining, Designing, and Sustaining Transparency" was held last Thurs. and Fri. at Princeton University's Center for Information Technology Policy. There were many participants using Twitter throughout the event, and their tweets are all collected here. The LII blog and Rob Richard's Legal Informatics Blog both provided coverage of what was happening and their posts are well worth reading.
Speakers included Mike Wash, CIO of the GPO, who discussed a number of issues involving digital legal information, with a focus on GPO’s new FDsys content management system. He said that FDsys has been developed to serve four key functions: versioning, preservation, permanent public access, and authentication.
Other speakers and discussions focused on the variety of legal databases online and the US Courts' PACER system that provides court documents online.

AT & T iPhone exclusivity ends Weds. ?

Hot Hardware, an online news source about computer hardware, reports that "according to an inside source" that an Apple media event planned for this coming Weds, Jan. 27 is not just about a rumored Apple tablet computer; they will also announce that AT&T's iPhone exclusivity is ending.

YouTube now renting movies

Broadcasting Ourselves, The YouTube Blog, reports that YouTube is launching a video rental service over the internet. The launch coincided with the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, and the first available rentals are new movies by independent filmmakers. The first five offerings are three world premieres at this year’s festival and two audience favorites from last year’s; all will be available through Jan. 31. Rentals are $3.99. The blogpost also puts out a call for more independent filmmakers to join the rental program as part of the "Filmmakers Wanted" campaign at the festival.

Friday 22 January 2010

PGH historic maps collection

The Archives Service Center and Digital Research Library added twelve more real estate plat maps of Pittsburgh created by the G.M. Hopkins Company to the Historic Pittsburgh Maps Collection.

They include Volume 1 and Volume 2 from 1889 (City of Pittsburgh), 1895 (eastern vicinity), 1896 (southern vicinity), 1897 (northern vicinity), Volume 3 from 1900 (City of Pittsburgh), Volume 4 from 1901 (City of Pittsburgh), Volume 1 from 1907 (Allegheny City), Volume 3 and Volume 4 from 1911 (City of Pittsburgh), and Volume 8 from 1915 (eastern vicinity).

These additions represent the conclusion of a project by the ASC and DRL to identify and digitize all of the Hopkins maps produced for Pittsburgh between 1872 and 1940. There are now 46 volumes comprising 1820 plates available online to researchers. Congrats to the ASC and DRL for this very cool project.

Wednesday 20 January 2010

The Early Republic online database trial

The University of Pittsburgh School of Law has a trial subscription to The Early Republic Online, a new database from Johns Hopkins University Press. The trial will run until March 5, 2010.
According to the website, "since 1972, 17 volumes of primary material documenting the actions, debates, and thoughts of the First Federal Congress and its members have been collected by the First Federal Congress Project (FFCP) and published by the Johns Hopkins University Press. These volumes of the Documentary History of the First Federal Congress are used by Congress, historians, political scientists, and jurists to understand the most important and productive Congress in United States history."
The database is available on any law school computer or via the law school wireless network.

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Proposed Web Video Restrictions Cause Outrage In Italy

The Standard reports that new rules to be introduced by Italian government decree will require people who upload videos onto the Internet to obtain authorization from the Communications Ministry similar to that required by television broadcasters, drastically reducing freedom to communicate over the Web, opposition lawmakers have warned. The decree is ostensibly an enactment of a European Union (EU) directive on product placement and is due to go into effect at the end of January. The decree was condemned by Articolo 21, an organization dedicated to the defense of freedom of speech as enshrined in article 21 of the Italian constitution. The group said the measures resembled an earlier government attempt to crack down on bloggers by imposing on them the same obligations and responsibilities as newspapers.

Haiti Earthquake info

The US State Department has a website providing links to news and resources relevant to the earthquake in Haiti which includes links to:
Briefings and Remarks
Fact Sheets
Secretary Clinton's Visit to Haiti
White House Releases
Collected Releases
Red Cross Photos: 2010 Haiti earthquake

hat tip: BeSpacific

Monday 18 January 2010

New York Times ready to charge for web access

New York Magazine reports that the NY Times is close to announcing that the paper will begin charging for access to its website. The Times has been debating which pay model to follow: a Wall Street Journal-type pay wall or the metered system adopted by the Financial Times, in which readers can sample a certain number of free articles before being asked to subscribe. The Times seems to have settled on the metered system.
The decision to go paid is monumental for the Times, which has been always been freely available online. The argument for remaining free was based on the belief that would grow into an English-language global newspaper of record with a vast audience that would prove lucrative as web advertising matured. But last year's financial crisis brought painful declines in advertising, it has become apparent that the Times has to make the leap to some form of paid content.

Sunday 17 January 2010

China now monitoring text msgs

The UK Telegraph reports that China has begun monitoring 'billions of text messages' in order to increase censorship. Customers of China’s two largest mobile phone networks, China Mobile and China Unicom, have had their texting service blocked after sending risqué messages. The People's Daily Online English version reports that the phone companies are working hand in hand with the public security bureau to curb "illegal" text messages. One person whose messaging was blocked said he was told that If he wanted to resume service, he had to take his identity card to the local public security bureau with a letter of guarantee, promising he would no longer send risqué messages.

German government tells public not to use IE

After McAfee's disclosure of an Internet Explorer vulnerability this week that had been used in Operation Aurora, the hacking and stealing of data from Google, Adobe and about 3 dozen other major companies, the German government has advised the public to switch to alternative browsers (German government statement auf Deutsch hier).

Friday 15 January 2010

NEW Citation Finder at Legal Info. Institute

Tom Bruce and the LII crew announced a new experimental service this morning called Citation Finder. It's a bookmarklet that will scan a highlighted section of a webpage looking for a citations and then take you to the cited legal resource. It works with US Code, Supreme Court, Federal CircuitCourts, CFR, and more. This is an early release of an ongoing project and it adds a nice bit of functionality to your web browser. You can also read LII's Current project plan about the current functionality and where they hope to take this resource.

Wednesday 13 January 2010

House passes HR 3237 to enact Title 51

The US House of Representatives has passed HR 3237,which gathers provisions relating to national and commercial space programs, and restates the provisions as Title 51, United States Code, ``National and Commercial Space Programs''. The bill does not provide for any new programs. As the Law Revision Counsel website points out, "Over the past five decades, a substantial amount of legislation has been enacted relating to national and commercial space programs. In the United States Code, some of these provisions appear in title 15 (Commerce and Trade), some in title 42 (The Public Health and Welfare), and some in title 49 (Transportation). No distinct title for national and commercial space programs exists in the United States Code because the organizational scheme for the Code was originally established in 1926, before such programs were contemplated."

Monday 11 January 2010

Historical Record of the drafting of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Dag Hammarskjold Library at the UN has made available historic documentation of the drafting process of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, created by UN delegates from 1946-1948. The Declaration has become a standard of principles for human rights. The website presents documents in chronological order, arranged according to the various bodies that met to discuss, draft and re-draft the Declaration. In turn, under each of these, the site provides background on what that body did during meetings that occurred during the year.

Hat tip: InSITE

Generation gaps in technology use

Yesterday's Sunday New York Times had an article called "The Children of Cyberspace: Old Fogies by Their 20s" that looked at how people born in different years use new technologies. OK, so you knew that there are differences between baby boomers & Gen X-Y; but did you know that there are big differences between people born in the 80's and people born in the 90's or the 00's? According to the article, "'People two, three or four years apart are having completely different experiences with technology,' says Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project. 'College students scratch their heads at what their high school siblings are doing, and they scratch their heads at their younger siblings. It has sped up generational differences...' Studies show that 16- to 18-year-olds perform seven tasks, on average, in their free time — like texting on the phone, sending instant messages, and checking Facebook while sitting in front of the television; while people in their early 20s can handle only six, and those in their 30s about five and a half."

Institutional Repository Bibliography updated

The Institutional Repository Bibliography, a resource maintained by Charles W. Bailey Jr., was recently updated. The IRB contains selected English-language articles, books, technical reports, and other scholarly textual sources that are useful in understanding library, technical and legal issues concerned with institutional repositories and digital preservation.

Friday 8 January 2010

Text message reference offered in some academic libraries

Inside Higher Education has an article called "Text Generation" this morning. It looks at how some academic libraries are adapting to the popularity of text-messaging among students, and making reference librarians available via text messages from student cellphones. A variety of technological solutions are used, including purchasing a cellphone for text reference; but the article says "No matter the method, these various experiments suggest that texting, like Twitter, is creeping into academic communication, a prospect some in academe’s old guard might find troubling. "

White House review of attempted terrorist attack

The White house has release its summary of the review on the December 25, 2009 Attempted Terrorist Attack and the related directive. The White House Blog has the press release which says "The review of our security and intelligence systems following the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas Day has been completed. The President spoke two days ago about 'the urgency of getting this right,'and the identification of failures in this review, along with the immediate ordering of reforms and corrective steps both today and in the days since this incident, are a recognition of that urgency. This review is also a recognition that while there is no place for partisanship and the old Washington blame game in dealing with Al Qaeda and the threat they represent, keeping American safe depends on honest and direct accountability."

Thursday 7 January 2010

Immigration Primer available online

The Federal Judicial Center has made Immigration Law: A Primer (186 page pdf) freely available on its website. The Federal Judicial Center is the education and research agency for the federal courts. The Primer was authored by Michael A. Scaperlanda of the University of Oklahoma College of Law and provides an excellent introduction to and overview of immigration law -and, to a lesser extent, the law governing noncitizens outside of the immigration context- with a focus on analyzing issues that arise in litigation. It sets out the legislative history, explains the statutory and administrative regime, and describes the substantive and procedural law relevant to federal judges, including circuit splits. Topics covered include the Real ID Act and its effect on judicial review, categories of admissibility, asylum, deportation, removal, relief, waiver, and remedies. The Primer addresses the role of the immigration judge, and explains the procedures set forth by the BIA, DHS, and DOJ. Workplace and enforcement issues are also discussed. Case law is current through the October 2008 Supreme Court term, and appellate and district court cases reported through 558 F.3d and 594 F. Supp.2d. The monograph contains sources for further reading, glossary, appendix, and table of cases.

hat tip: beSpacific

Tuesday 5 January 2010

Recovery dot gov datasets criticized

Washington Technology blog has a post today titled "Open Government or hide in plain sight?" The author takes the time to look at the massive amount of data available at the website which describes itself as "the U.S. government’s official website providing easy access to data related to Recovery Act spending and allows for the reporting of potential fraud, waste, and abuse. " It purports to track all the money spent via the Recovery Act and answer the question "Where is the money going?"
However, according to the author, the data available on the site is massive, difficult to work with and doesn't provide much insight; he says "Frankly, I’ve struggled with the spreadsheet for the last quarter of government fiscal 2009. The question that keeps going through my mind is: How are we supposed to use this thing?" It's an interesting point.
I tried looking at a small dataset from the site: the Recovery monies awarded by the Library of Congress during the last quarter. There are 3 awards listed: a grant of $17,679 to Rockford, AL "to place equipped patrol cars on the road" (jobs created = 0) and then two contracts awarded to Oldcastle SW Group (a concrete contractor in Grand Junction, CO) for a total of $1.2 million dollars to do some road repairs in the San Juan National Forest, Dolores CO (number of new jobs created = 0, but they claim that they would've laid off workers were it not for the contract). The project activities descriptions for both these contracts is "Dairy Cattle and Milk Production".
Hmmm. Not sure how Dairy Cattle -or road repairs - come under the purview of the Library of Congress. I don't want to be picky but wouldn't it be nice of the Library of Congress used its Recovery Act monies to create jobs for librarians instead?

Streaming video database trial from ULS

The University Library System at Pitt is looking at various streaming video resources as an alternative to the current physical video collection. During January they have arranged a trial of Films on Demand, a streaming video database containing over 6,000 educational titles. While there is no discreet category of legal titles, there are some titles relevant to legal studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences categories. You can learn more about Films on Demand from this YouTube video or the Films on Demand website.
If you are a Pitt student, faculty or staff and would like to access the trial version of Films on Demand please contact a Barco librarian for the trial username and password.