Friday 28 October 2016

New data dissemination beta testing

The U.S. Census Bureau is releasing a new "enterprise dissemination tool" for the giant mass of data gathered by the Census. Currently there are a bunch of data sources/finding aids for the US Census, and this new tool is meant to centralize and standardize data into a single platform. The Census Bureau held an online webinar this week that gave an overview and demonstration of this new Census site. The webinar was recorded and is available online through the FDLP Academy program at the US GPO; the powerpoint presentation and a transcript of the audio are also available through FDLP.
The Census Bureau is determined to make this as userfriendly as possible, and the beta test, called " preview", is now open to all. The Census Bureau would like people to use the preview and then submit feedback to improve the platform as it evolves into the permanent Census data source.

Kluwer study guides subscription updates

For your information: Kluwer has just updated all the study guides in our subscription to the most recent editions. There are also two new titles included in the subscription: "Inside Adjudicative Criminal Procedure: What Matters and Why," and "Inside Torts: What Matters and Why."
The Kluwer study guides are very helpful and we encourage Pitt Law students to make use of them as we head towards final exam time.

Tuesday 25 October 2016

The Internet of Things at CMU

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting article titled "The Internet of Things Faces Practical and Ethical Challenges" about studies being done up the street at CMU. The IoT, as it’s known, works through a network of internet-connected devices, such as wireless sensors and smart products like phones, speakers, tablets, and watches. The sensors, many of which are about half the size of an iPhone’s screen, can be placed virtually anywhere — including on toasters, coffee makers, doors, windows, and walls. Thousands of sensors have been placed across the CMU campus for a research project funded by Google. "You can start to get answers to questions that would’ve taken a fairly significant effort to figure out by yourself," Anind Dey (director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at CMU) says. For instance: Why is my office so cold? Is my colleague in her office right now?
Meanwhile, Wired magazine, in a report on the massive internet outage last Friday, says that "initial reports indicate that the attack was part of a genre of DDoS that infects Internet of Things devices (think webcams, DVRs, routers, etc.) all over the world with malware. Once infected, those Internet-connected devices become part of a botnet army, driving malicious traffic toward a given target."

Monday 24 October 2016

Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports online

The Congressional Research Service, a component of the Library of Congress, conducts research and analysis for Congress on a broad range of national policy issues. Congressional Research Service reports have traditionally only been available to Congressional offices. Now provides access to every currently loaded CRS report in Congress’s internal website. The site contains over 8,200 reports, but this changes as reports are added or updated. Each report includes a revision history that reflects changes over time. The site offers topical browsing, keyword searching, email alerts, and RSS feed capabilities. is a joint effort between Demand Progress and Congressional Data Coalition.
The website says "We’re publishing reports by Congress’s think tank, the Congressional Research Service, which provides valuable insight and non-partisan analysis of issues of public debate. These reports are already available to the well-connected — we’re making them available to everyone for free."

hat tip: Kirstin Nelson, AALL CRIV blog

Bar passage standards set to get tougher

The ABA Journal and Above the Law are both reporting that last Friday the ABA's Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved a proposal to tighten bar passage rate standards for ABA-approved law schools. Under the proposal, 75% of the graduates must pass a bar exam within a two-year period; the current rule is a 75% passage rate within five years. The proposal is expected to go the ABA House of Delegates in February 2017.

Saturday 22 October 2016

Pitt Law: Fall 2016

In case you missed it, the Fall 2016 issue of Pitt Law Magazine came out this week and is available online. The cover feature is about Prof. Jules Lobel and his work with prisoners in solitary confinement. There are also stories featuring Prof. Tomar Brown and the Health Law clinic she directs at Children's Hospital; the Pitt Law Legal Incubator; and lots more. Kudos to our Communications Department for an excellent publication.

Friday 21 October 2016

Of books and library stacks

There's an interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Education titled "It's Not Too Late to Save the Stacks." Author Ann Michael, who is a poet and writing coordinator at DeSales University in eastern PA, says "I would like to make a plea for the value of keeping libraries as physical spaces — as actual, rather than virtual, edifices — and as buildings for housing books and encouraging the conversations between human beings and physical textual materials." Librarians are familiar with the various sides of this issue, but students and scholars should be aware as well.

Wednesday 19 October 2016

New from Bloomberg Law: Litigation Analytics

Bloomberg Law has announced the launch of Litigation Analytics, a new resource from Bloomberg Law that can help lawyers shape litigation strategies and understand the potential impacts of different judges and courts. Litigation Analytics gathers and uses intelligence about law firms, courts, judges, and industry to enhance decision-making. It is available in all of Pitt Law's Bloomberg Law accounts, under the "Litigation & Dockets" tab on the orange menu at the top of the page.

Uber: the Pittsburgh experiment

MIT Technology Review has an article titled Your Driverless Ride is Arriving, about the Uber self-driving car experiment in Pittsburgh. Uber is using Pittsburgh to test how well driverless cars can do in an urban environment. The articles author gives a detailed description of what it's like to ride in one of the test cars in Pittsburgh, and talks to CMU robotics faculty who are also working on the autonomous car concept. His conclusion: "Uber thinks its self-driving taxis could change the way millions of people get around. But autonomous vehicles aren’t any­where near to being ready for the roads."

Tuesday 18 October 2016

Cybersecurity through a legal lens

Pittsburgh's World Affairs Council has announced a luncheon event called "Exploring Cybersecurity through a Legal Lens." What international laws are broken when cyber attacks are committed across borders? What legal obligation does a country have to respond? Should individual companies and corporations have the authority to hack back?
The event will be held at the Rivers Club in Oxford Center on Weds. Oct. 26 at noon.  Panelists include David Hickton, US Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, J. Keith Mularski, Supervisory Special Agent Cyber Squad FBI - Pittsburgh Field Office, and Matthew LaVigna, President and CEO, National Cyber Forensics & Training Alliance. There is a $50 registration fee for members and $75 for non-members.

Friday 14 October 2016

New and Different SSRN website changes

SSRN has updated their website, with a very different look for the home page. According to the announcement on the SSRN blog, they are delivering on their promise to improve "the SSRN experience. With new resources for design and development, we are reimagining SSRN’s possibilities. First, we implemented our long-awaited full-text search which had been requested by many of you. Now we’re delighted to present our new Home Page. This is just the first of many design improvements we hope to deliver before the end of the year."

hat tip: Karen Shephard

A Westlaw question & a clever answer

We had 1L Westlaw training this week, and afterwards one of our students emailed the Westlaw rep with this question: How can we use Westlaw to find things like definitions or elements of basic legal concepts such as the element of consideration in contract law. Samuel Berbano, our Westlaw rep, created this video, titled "Law School Study Blues? Try the Jury Instructions!" to answer the question.

Wednesday 12 October 2016

National Conference on Copyright of State Legal Materials

The American Assn. of Law Libraries and BU Law are hosting a National Conference on Copyright of State Legal Materials on Dec. 2, 2016 at the BU College of Law. The conference will feature keynote speaker Corynne McSherry, lunch speaker Sarah Jeong, and a full slate of copyright experts on three panels: legal status, operational issues, and advocacy and inspiration. Panelists include librarians, lawyers, law professors, technologists, and practitioners. The draft agendahas been posted; it includes speaker names and more information about the panels. The cost is $75; you can register here.

Pitt Cyber Security Symposium

The University of Pittsburgh will hold the third annual Cyber Security Symposium on Tuesday, October 25th, in the William Pitt Union Assembly Room from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Rohyt Belani, CEO and co-Founder of PhishMe, Inc., will deliver the keynote address. The event is free to all University of Pittsburgh faculty, staff, and students.
Registration is required. Please register here.