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July 28, 2005

Computer-on-a-Stick: A USB Drive with it's Own OS & Applications

You've heard of pigs-in-a-blanket and soap-on-a-rope - now comes Computer-on-a-Stick, a USB flash drive featuring its own onboard operating system together with a full suite of Microsoft Office-compatible applications.

And for added security, also available are the Bio Computer-on-a-Stick and the Bio USB Flash Drive which require fingerprint authentication.

Source: LJ Tech Blog

Herzing offers Nation's First Degree in Homeland Security & Public Safety

Today's Wisconsin State Journal reports that beginning this fall Herzing College will offer a bachelor of science degree in "Homeland Security and Public Safety" with a "concentration" on emergency medical technology or law enforcement.

School officials believe that it is the nation's first "accredited and privately held college to offer a degree program in homeland security."

According to the article, Herzing started 40 years ago in Wisconsin and now has about 3,000 students at campuses in six states and three Canadian provinces. Madison's campus has 542 students, plus another 300 in online classes. The homeland security program will begin in September with about 25 freshmen.

Google Maps Combines Maps with Satellite Images

My favorite mapping application just got even better. Google Maps recently introduced a hybrid feature with which maps are combined with satellite images.

See the map of the UW Law Library. Notice how the street names are superimposed over the satellite image. Very nice!

To access the hybrid images, enter in an address into the search box. At the top right of the map image, click on the "hybrid" button.

July 27, 2005

CQ Press Offers Free Content

From the C&RL News, July/August 2005:
CQ Press has introduced a free Web site, CQ Press in Context, featuring selections from the CQ Press Electronic Library, which has a goal of providing readers with objective, accessible, high-quality information on government and politics. The site focuses on a single topic, which will be updated frequently, offering a sampling of CQ Press content that is usually available only on a subscription basis. The first topic covered was the future of the Supreme Court. CQ Press in Context is available online at www.cqpress.com/incontext.
Thanks to my UW Law Library colleague, Bill Ebbott, Assistant Director for Information Services, for the tip.

Photo Archive of Dane County Judges

From Dane County Legal Resource Center Blawg:
Recently added to the Clerk of Courts website is a pictorial archive of all the judges who have served Dane County Circuit Court from 1848 to current.

Subscribe to Any RSS Feed via Email with Rmail

How do you like to read blogs? Via their Web page or with a RSS reader such as Bloglines? Although I highly recommend the latter, I know that not everyone has the time or comfort-level to set up a RSS reader.

For those that read blogs via their Web pages, you know that it takes time to go to each blog and check for updates. And how often do you need to check back to be sure that you don't miss any content?

Wouldn't it be nice if you could have blog content delivered to you in a format that you already use - email? Some blogs, like WisBlawg, do offer this service - and I know that many WisBlawg readers do use it. Although, unfortunately, most blogs don't offer this, they do, however, offer delivery via RSS.

And now there is a service called Rmail that allows you to have the contents of any RSS feed delivered via email. Simply enter the URL for the RSS feed (try clicking on the orange XML button to get it) and type in your email address. Then hit subscribe.

Give it a try. It's much more efficient that visiting multiple Web sites each day.

Source: I learned about Rmail on an excellent tutorial called What is RSS and Why Should I Care? presented by the Huntsville Madison County Public Library. Highly recommended! Thanks to beSpacific for passing it on.

Researching American Indian Law Online

Ama Gannaway, librarian at Lathrop & Clark LLP in Madison, has compiled a very useful guide to Researching American Indian Law Online in the latest Wisconsin Lawyer.
This article provides sources for finding tribal codes, constitutions, and court decisions, together with sources for finding treaties, federal statutes and regulations, case law, and administrative appeals decisions relating to American Indian law.

July 25, 2005

Review of Blogging Software

Online Journalism Review has a nice review of blogging software, including a some definitions of blogging jargon.

Source: Current Cites

Wise up Ernie - Books Aren't an "Inefficiency"

Upon taking a closer look at Law Practice's blogging issue, I came upon a Q&A with Ernest Svenson, aka Ernie the Attorney. While I'm a big fan of his excellent legal blog, I'm disappointed in his lack of understanding of the value of print resources.

According to Mr. Svenson:

Small firms can also now afford Westlaw or Lexis and prefer to use those tools rather than books, which are cumbersome and expensive by comparison. Eventually, the only places you’ll find law libraries with books will be in large law firms where they can absorb that inefficiency.

There are several problems with that statement.

  • One - there are some sources that are just easier to browse in print. You know it and I know it.
  • Two - and this is a big one - not everything is available electronically. Nor is it likely to be anytime soon. Especially books. Does that mean that the content is not useful? No.
  • Three - another big one - print resources are not necessarily less expensive than electronic. In fact, they can be much cheaper if they are resources which you use often. With print, when you pay for a resource, you own it. You can use it as often as you wish at no additional charge. With a paid database, however, you may be paying over and over to access the same resource.

I completely agree with Mr. Svenson that the availability of electronic legal information has revolutionized legal research. And I have no doubt that it will continue to do so in wonderful and exciting ways. However, to assume that digital has or will completely replace print media is ill-informed. Why must it be all or nothing?

For a much more enlightened review of print resources and law firm libraries, take a look at Heather Smith's excellent article from the American Lawyer. She writes:

Contrary to popular expectations, the digital age didn't supplant print. It complemented it. And it hasn't rendered librarians obsolete, either.

Thanks to my LLAW colleague, Carol Bannen, for pointing out the article.

Dane County Sup. Don Eggert Blogs About National Association of Counties Meeting

Last week, the Wisconsin State Journal reported on Dane County Sup. Don Eggert's blog chronicling his participation in the National Association of Counties annual meeting in Hawaii.

Apparently, Eggert, who traveled to the meeting at his own expense, "is intent on showing County Board Chair Kevin Kesterson that it would have been worth the taxpayers' while to send him" to the meeting. Interesting use of a political blog.

July 19, 2005

Supreme Court Watch Launches Podcast

From Robert Ambrogi's Law Sites:
Alliance for Justice yesterday launched a Supreme Court Watch podcast as part of its larger Supreme Court Watch Web site. The podcast focuses on discussion of the future of the Supreme Court. AFJ also has a blog, Insider Scoop, devoted to the Supreme Court vacancy. AFJ is a national organization advocating for a "moderate, consensus nomination" and for preserving "the integrity and independence of the Supreme Court."

Wisconsin to Consider "Virtual Visitation"

The La Crosse Tribune reports that the Wisconsin Legislature is considering "virtual visitation" (Assembly Bill 531 and Senate Bill 244)

Highlights from the article:

The bills state that if a court grants periods of physical placement to both parents, the court also may allow a parent a "reasonable amount of electronic communication at reasonable hours."

As defined in the bills, electronic communication could include phone, e-mail, instant messaging and video conferencing. Many households already have computers and high-speed connections that can handle video-conferencing, which typically involves the addition of a camera and software package.

Source: Robert Ambrogi's Law Sites

July 14, 2005

I'm Off to San Antonio

The American Association of Law Libraries conference in San Antonio starts this week and I'll be there with bells on. In between presenting and touring the Alamo, I look forward to connecting with my colleagues and learning about new resources. Maybe I'll even join a chorus or two at the CS-SIS Karaoke night!

Although WisBlawg posts will be light next week, I expect to have many great resources to blog about upon my return.

Law Practice Issue on Blogging

The latest issue of the ABA Law Practice Management Section's Law Practice is devoted to blogging. Good stuff.

Feature articles include:

  • It's Not Your Father's Web Site: Lawyers in the Blogosphere It might seem hard to differentiate Weblogs from their well-known but more static cousin, the traditional Web site. Nonetheless, blogs are different—and in ways that hold powerhouse promise for legal professionals, from marketing your expertise to supporting client relationships. Plus: "A Cyber-Coffee Shop for Lawyer-Bloggers" and "A Full-On Research Tool to Illuminate a Practice Area." By Sarah Kellogg
  • Ethics and Lawyer Blogs So far, there's not much direction on the legal ethics of blogging. But advisory opinions surrounding e-mail and Web sites provide groundwork for what to anticipate. By William E. Hornsby, Jr.
  • How to Start Your Own Weblog And Make the Most of It If you've been intrigued by the possibility of starting a blog, what's the holdup? Here are the basics demystified—from setting up to building traffic to managing blog swarms. Plus: "Finding and Monitoring Law-Related Blogs" and"Publicity in Real Space." By David W. Opderbeck
  • Between Lawyers Roundtable: The Future of Legal Blogging Five pioneers give the scoop on the current state-of-the-art and what to expect down the road. An exclusive discussion among lawyer-bloggers Denise Howell, Dennis Kennedy, Tom Mighell, Martin Schwimmer and Ernest Svenson.
  • NEW! The Blogger Diaries Stepping onto the Cutting Edge It took about 10 minutes for lawyer Andrew W. Ewalt to set up a Weblog. Sounds easy—but what happens after that? The first installment in a series that will track his blogging adventures for a year. By Larry Bodine
Source: E-LawLibrary Weblog

FindLaw Stops Free Hosting of Law Firm Web Sites

It seems that starting on August 1st, FindLaw will no longer offer free hosting for law-firm Web sites. Existing sites will be removed from its servers.

Source: Robert Ambrogi's Law Sites

Librarian Puts Research Services for Sale on Ebay

I guess you have to admire the entrepreneurship of librarian, William Jiang, who put his research services up for sale on ebay.

I wonder what kind of projects, if any, he will get for his $50 asking price. That seems very low for any kind of time-consuming, serious research. But for quicker projects, why would someone pay him $50 instead of visiting the reference desk at their local public or academic library for free?

What does this say about the worth of librarians and the lack of awareness of the services that libraries provide?

Source: LibrarianInBlack

PBS to Launch "Nerd TV" - An Internet-Only TV Series

From Frank Barnako's Internet Daily (MarketWatch):

PBS to run Internet-only TV series

The Public Broadcasting System is expected to announce Wednesday it will Web cast an Internet-only, downloadable series of TV shows featuring interviews with technology experts. The move follows by a few days, Britain's BBC announcement it would Web cast a regular TV series a week before the shows play on air.

NerdTV is an "uninterrupted hour with the smartest, funniest, and sometimes nerdiest people in high tech," according to a PBS a press release about the show published by LostRemote.com.

July 13, 2005

Ambrogi Finds FindLaw to be Outdated

One time FindLaw "cheerleader," blawgger Robert Ambrogi reports that in a recent study of the legal database he found that a over a quarter of links were bad.

He writes:

FindLaw's core is showing its age. Started in 1994 as an index of legal resources on the Internet, FindLaw used that index as the foundation on which to build a range of resources for legal professionals, businesses and consumers. But in recent years, FindLaw has let its index go to seed, failing to weed out dead URLs, update site descriptions or add new resources as they come along. The deterioration of FindLaw's index is so extreme as to call into question its usefulness as a primary resource for legal professionals.

Changes at CBS News Include a New Blog

From the New York Times:

As part of an ambitious attempt to revive CBSNews.com with a broad array of free video news produced just for its Web site, CBS said today that it would also introduce a Web log to comment on CBS's newscasts, both online and on air.

To be written by Vaughn Ververs, who had been the editor of Hotline, a Web site covering politics, the new blog, called Public Eye, will assemble questions from viewers, criticism from blogs and other sources, and immediately bring in reactions from the CBS newsroom.

See the CBS press release for more information.

Internet Archive Sued for Failure to Block Web Page on WayBack Machine

The New York Times reports that the Internet Archive is being sued for failure to block a old version of plaintiff's Web page on its WayBack Machine.

Selections from the article:

The Internet Archive was created in 1996 as the institutional memory of the online world, storing snapshots of ever-changing Web sites and collecting other multimedia artifacts. Now the nonprofit archive is on the defensive in a legal case that represents a strange turn in the debate over copyrights in the digital age.

Last week Healthcare Advocates sued both the Harding Earley firm and the Internet Archive, saying the access to its old Web pages, stored in the Internet Archive's database, was unauthorized and illegal.

The suit contends, however, that representatives of Harding Earley should not have been able to view the old Healthcare Advocates Web pages - even though they now reside on the archive's servers - because the company, shortly after filing its suit against Health Advocate, had placed a text file on its own servers designed to tell the Wayback Machine to block public access to the historical versions of the site.

July 12, 2005

Westlaw Introduces 50 State Surveys Feature

Although they can be quite useful, fifty state survey of state statutes are notoriously difficult and labor intensive. When facing such a project, wouldn't it be nice to know if someone has already compiled a survey for your statute?

To find out, I've often turned to the excellent Subject Compilations of State Laws, an annual print-based bibliography of 50 state surveys. Luckily, the UW Law Library subscribes to this series. But even this can be laborious because it requires a check of each year's edition for specific keywords.

That's why I was so pleased to learn about Westlaw's new 50 State Surveys feature. I LOVE this. When viewing a state statute in Westlaw, simply click on 50 State Surveys in the Links tab to view existing surveys. If the 50 State Surveys link doesn't appear, then there are no surveys available on Westlaw for that statute. To see an example, look at Wisconsin Statute 423.301.

To learn more, see the West elert announcement.

Report on How Capitol Hill is Coping with the Surge in Citizen Advocacy

The Congressional Management Foundation has published a new report entitled, Communicating with Congress: How Capitol Hill is Coping with the Surge in Citizen Advocacy.
The Internet and e-mail have made it easier and cheaper than ever before for citizens to communicate with their Members of Congress. In 2004, Congress received 200 million communications, four times more than in 1995 -- the direct result of Internet-based communications.

This increased citizen participation in the legislative process has had both positive and negative effects. Nearly 80% of congressional staff surveyed believe that the Internet has made it easier for constituents to become involved in public policy. However, neither the senders nor the receivers of congressional communications have learned how to use the new tools that the Internet has provided truly effectively.

This report is the first of a four part Communicating with Congress series.

Source: beSpacific

Bloggers Role in the Supreme Court Nomination Process

There is no doubt that the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court is a hot topic of conversation this week, especially in the blawgosphere. Reuters has an interesting article about the role of bloggers in the nomination process.

Web logs likely numbering in the dozens provide a way for the thoughtful and the passionate to publish their views. Politicians are taking notice as they prepare for the first high court nomination fight since the Internet became common in American households.

Steve Clemons, who publishes a political blog http://www.thewashingtonnote.com, says that once Bush names someone "you are going to see the blogs go crazy" digging up information and in many cases "outrunning" mainstream media.

Tom Goldstein said researchers at his Washington law firm Goldstein and Howe already are poring over the background and court decisions of potential nominees. His firm's blogs at http://www.scotusblog.com and http://www.sctnomination.com/blog strive to be non-partisan, but will offer opinions on how a candidate may decide important cases, he said.

Source: Blawg

Sensenbrenner Proposes to Make Patriot Act Permanent

The JS Online reports that House Judiciary Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner on Monday proposed making fully permanent the expanded law enforcement powers granted in the 2001 USA Patriot Act.

According to the article:

Sensenbrenner's proposal could be altered either by the 40-member panel or by the full House, where both liberals and conservatives have voiced objections to parts of the law.

In fact, in an April interview, Sensenbrenner said he didn't think there were enough GOP votes on his committee to make the act permanent in its entirety, and he expected some of the powers to continue to be subject to an expiration date.

The only temporary power that would be restricted in the chairman's bill is the "library provision," which expanded the government's ability to get personal records from businesses, libraries and other entities in the course of terrorism investigations.

Sensenbrenner is proposing, among other changes, to "clarify" that the provision is not aimed at information about U.S. citizens or legal residents, and the searches are subject to challenge and judicial review.

Article on the Value of Law Firm Librarians

This month's The American Lawyer has an excellent article on the value of law firm librarians. Despite predictions that they would become obsolete as electronic resources replaced print materials, librarians have become more vital than before.

From the article:

The survey results also show that, increasingly, librarians are contributing to the bottom line. As partners and clients alike realize librarians often track down information more efficiently than associates and paralegals, more firms are billing for their research time. "There is an acknowledgment that it is much more cost-effective to have expert researchers," says Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr chief librarian Jean O'Grady.

Source: AbsTracked

July 11, 2005

Study of Camp Randall Stampede

One of the highlights of each LLAW (Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin) Newsletter is Cindy May's Recommended Readings list. I thought that the following article from the Summer 2005 edition list looked particularly interesting.
Fried, Gil and Metchick, Robert. “Camp Randall Memorial Stadium Case Study: University of Wisconsin, October 30, 1993.” Journal of Legal Aspects of Sport 15:139-176 (Winter 2005)

In 1993 fans rushed the field at the end of a football game in Camp Randall, resulting in many injuries and lawsuits. This case study analyzes data associated with the incident to explore whether it could have been avoided if different decisions had been made and different strategies employed.

Watch What You Say in Your Blog

Related stories in both the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Capital Times caution bloggers about the dangers of sharing too much personal information.

In particular, they warn that venting petty gripes or sharing partying and dating exploits can damage your reputation, especially to a potential employer.

According to the Chronicle:

You may think your blog is a harmless outlet. You may use the faulty logic of the blogger, "Oh, no one will see it anyway." Don't count on it. Even if you take your blog offline while job applications are active, Google and other search engines store cached data of their prior contents. So that cranky rant might still turn up.

July 7, 2005

Internet Users Are Changing Behavior Because of Spyware

A new survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that 91% of Internet users have changed their online behavior because of fears that their computer could become infected with spyware.

Spyware is a type of computer program that secretly plants itself on a computer and then monitors users' online behavior or hijacks their browsers.

The full report is available on the Pew Internet & American Life Project Web site.

Legal Talk Network Radio Shows

It seems that the popularity of Legal Talk Network's Internet radio shows has increased since they have become available via iTunes. LTN offers a RSS feed for its radio shows.

Quick Mentor Service for Law Librarians

The American Association of Law Libraries Mentoring Committee has just announced a new Quick Mentor service.

The Mentoring Committee has assembled a pool of experienced law librarians who will respond to AALL members' requests for professional guidance. AALL members can submit requests for guidance using a web form that allows members to specify characteristics of the responding "expert" such as areas of expertise, type of library, gender, race, and sexual orientation. The web form also offers the option of anonymity.

July 6, 2005

Thoughts on the New Edition of the Bluebook

Over at Conglomerate Blog, Marquette Law Prof. Christine Hurt gives her take on the new eighteenth edition of the Bluebook.

Low Salaries of 19th Century Wisconsin Justices & Legislators

Today's Odd Wisconsin post tells of the financial struggles of 19th century Wisconsin Supreme Court justices who "were paid so little that some of them had to go into debt merely to keep house in Madison."
We tend to think of such august figures as pillars of their community - - wealthy, learned, and as a stable as Wisconsin bedrock - - but [in a 1923 Wisconsin State Journal article] Hanks [the city’s chief banker] shows some of them with their suspenders down, on the edge of bankruptcy.
Just the other day, I turned up a similar reference to the low salaries of Wisconsin legislators at that time. According to a Jan. 17, 1914 Sheboygan Press account of a Vice Committee investigation led by Senator Howard Teasdale, he reportedly said that "it cost me $800 to get the $500 job as state senator."

SuDoc Issues New Policy on Harvesting of Federal Digital Publications

Effective July 6, 2005, the Superintendent of Documents has issued a new internal policy (ID 73) entitled, "Harvesting Federal Digital Publications for GPO's Information Dissemination (ID) Programs."

This policy governs both manual and automated harvesting of publications from Federal agency web sites for inclusion in the Federal Depository Library and National Bibliography Programs.

Other Information Dissemination Internal Policies issued last month include:

Thanks to New York Times Reporter, Robert Pear, for the tip.

July 5, 2005

Committee to Review Information Available in Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (a.k.a. CCAP) Database

According to the Wausau Daily Herald, it seems that the Wisconsin Courts have organized a committee "charged with reviewing the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access policy on what is available on the site and whether that information is adequately explained."

The Wisconsin Circuit Court Access (WCCA) database, also known as CCAP for the case management system it uses, contains the records of all Wisconsin county courts except Portage County. Wisconsin is one of the only states in the country to have a unified system for county court case management. The popular database receives close to 2 million hits per day. Critics argue that the information contained on WCCA could be misinterpreted.

According to the article:

Since Wisconsin Circuit Court records became available online in 1999, officials have received a steady stream of accolades and complaints, said John Voelker, director of state courts.

Nothing is available on the site that isn't a public record and available at the courthouse in Marathon County or across the state. But the Internet makes it a lot easier to see those records a lot more quickly.

Voelker recently convened a committee charged with reviewing the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access policy on what is available on the site and whether that information is adequately explained. Those with competing interests, from privacy advocates to media representatives, will discuss the policy and determine whether changes are needed.

Thanks to Tamara Thompson of PI Newslink for the tip.

Students Tested on Their "Internet Intelligence"

CNN.com reports on new test given to Cal State students that is designed to "evaluate Internet intelligence, measuring whether students can locate and verify reliable online information and whether they know how to properly use and credit the material."

I think that this is a wonderful idea. These are critical research skills that librarians have been teaching for years.

From the article:

"This test measures a skill as important as having mathematics and English skills when you come to the university," says Roth. "If you don't come to the university with it, you need to know that you are lacking some skills that educated people are expected to have."

Sample questions include giving students a simulated page of Web search results on a particular subject and asking students to pick the legitimate sources. So, a question on bee sting remedies presents a choice of sites ranging from ads to a forum for herb treatments to (the correct answer) a listing from the National Institutes of Health, identifiable by having "nih" in the URL (site address) along with the ".gov" suffix that connotes an official government listing.

Source: Library Link of the Day

Free Acrobat 7.0 Webinar for ABA members

PDF for Lawyers reports that:
The ABA Law Practice Management Section is sponsoring a free webinar on what's new in the latest version of Adobe Acrobat 7.0. It's free for ABA Members, who can register at this link. The webinar is a one hour deal that will take place on Tuesday May 24th at 12:00 pm noon CST, or 1:00 pm EST (do the math for the other time zones on your own).

WI Attorneys Comment on O'Connor's Retirement

Today's Wisconsin State Journal has an interesting piece on local reaction to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement from the Supreme Court.

It includes comments by Wisconsin Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson; Wisconsin State Bar President, Michelle Behnke; professor emeritus of law at UW- Madison, Gordon Baldwin; and State Rep. Mark Gundrum.

Update: It appears that the Wisconsin Courts Web site has made available an extended statement by Chief Justice Abrahamson.

County Law Libraries Added to WI Law Libraries List

County law libraries have been added to the DCLRC's list of Wisconsin Law Libraries Open to the Public. This handy list gives location, contact info, hours, and basic resources available for each library.

Source: DCLRC Blawg