Friday 20 December 2013

Early help with your digital New Year's resolutions

If your plans/hopes for 2014 include getting some control over your digital stuff,  two articles published today can help. Does this sound familiar: "most people have a growing inventory of storage sitting around their homes. Typically there’s a drawer of 1GB and 2GB USB flash drives—it seemed like a lot of space at the time—camera cards, old CDs and DVDs, and usually a few external drives. What’s on those drives? Can they still be read? Are they safe to throw out?"  Note that the author doesn't even mention the piles of floppy disks stuck on a shelf somewhere.  In "How to Cope with an Expanding Data Closet", from MIT Technology Review, Simson Garfinkel gives extensive advice on how to "create your own personal storage management plan" and organize all that data.  
Meanwhile, ProfHacker, a blog of The Chronicle of Higher Education, has a post titled "Lighten Your Inbox in 10 Minutes with Unroll.Me".  I confess I haven't had time to test it out yet, but just the thought of a service that helps cope with the barrage of daily emails makes me feel hopeful.
Here's to a neatly organized 2014.

Vendors of legal research databases: who bought whom in 2013

Greg Lambert at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog has an interesting post titled "Review of 2013 Legal Research Vendors' Mergers, Acquisitions and Partnerships".  Thanks, Greg. 

Tuesday 10 December 2013

The legal aspects of drones

There's been a lot about drones in the news lately.  And just in time, CALI has a new lesson titled "Drones: Unmanned Aircraft Systems" which explores the legal aspects of drones in both military and civilian settings. This lesson looks at the following legal issues relating to the use of a UAS:
1. FAA proposed and current regulations;
2. Military uses and the ethics of such use. Military uses include using drones as a decoy, or as a target simulating enemy aircraft, or in reconnaissance providing battlefield intelligence, or in combat attacking or killing people;
3. Law enforcement use and the search and seizure implications; and
4. Other commercial purposes and privacy considerations.
Note: you will need to be registered for a CALI account before taking the lesson. 

Monday 9 December 2013

25 years of PACER

The US Courts are hailing the 25th anniversary of the PACER electronic filing and docketing system.  "In September 1988, the Judicial Conference of the United States approved a new way of opening information to the public, through a service known as PACER—Public Access to Court Electronic Records." You can read all about the history of PACER and the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) on the US Courts website, complete with photographs. The article concludes: "User surveys in 2009 and 2012 showed strong and growing user satisfaction with PACER and CM/ECF, but efforts continue to build on the first quarter-century’s success. We are in the process of modernizing the CM/ECF system and PACER service, to make it more user-friendly. The biggest challenge—and opportunity—lies in the area of preservation of the electronic dockets and opinions for posterity. Electrons don't age as gracefully as paper. We will need to work closely with the National Archives and the Government Printing Office to ensure that future generations can access this valuable information.”

Monday 2 December 2013

Printing Questions Answered

It's the time of year when students are doing a lot of printing, and may have questions about campus printing at Pitt.  CSSD has a webpage with all the information they might need. The most common questions about print quota and adding money to your print quota are answered:

Pittsburgh campus students receive 900 print units per semester. Black & white pages are 1 unit each. Color pages are 7 units each. Users can purchase additional units for $0.07 each at the Pay Stations located in any of the Campus Computing Labs. You can check how many pages you have printed at any time. Log in to, click Manage My Account and click the View quota information link.