« January 2006 | Main | March 2006 »

February 28, 2006

What Will the Next Web Generation Look Like? Check out Croquet

"What if we were to create a new operating system and user interface knowing what we know today, how far could we go?" This is the concept behind a 3D interface called the Croquet Project which may just represent the next generation of the Web.

"Croquet users an avatar to place the user inside a three-dimensional virtual information space that looks like the playing of a multiplayer video game," writes Marshall Breeding in a November/December 2005 Computers in Libraries article.

The white rabbit represents a user (you) working with a resource (in this case a Word doc) in a Croquet space. Imagine adding other users and resources and interacting in the same space. I saw a demonstration of this new technology at a conference a while back and I was blown away.

February 27, 2006

Google Page Creator

Google has beta launched a free Web page creation/hosting tool called Google Page Creator. A Gmail (Google email) account is required and you must be using either Internet Explorer 6.0 or Firefox 1.0, or higher, with JavaScript and cookies enabled. Up to 100MB of server space is available. Due to its popularity, however, there is a waiting list for new accounts.

Features according to Google:

  • No technical knowledge required. Build high-quality web pages without having to learn HTML or use complex software.
  • What you see is what you'll get. Edit your pages right in your browser, seeing exactly how your finished product will look every step along the way.
  • Don't worry about hosting. Your web pages will live on your own site at http://yourgmailusername.googlepages.com

LexisNexis Introduces Service of Process

From TVC Alert:

LexisNexis this week introduced a new litigation tool called LexisNexis Service of Process. The service facilitates fast, reliable service of summonses, complaints, subpoenas and other documents via an established network of process servers. It is available through LexisNexis File & Serve, an Internet-based service provided to courts and law firms to enable the electronic exchange -- filing and service -- of legal documents such as complaints, pleadings, exhibits and proposed orders.

February 23, 2006

Skype, P2P Internet Telephony (VoIP) Network, Offering 10 Minutes of Skype Credit Today

Do you Skype? Skype (rhymes with "type") is a proprietary peer-to-peer Internet telephony (VoIP) network. Basically, it allows you to call people for free using your computer to connect to theirs.

SkypeOut is a paid feature, which allows Skype users to call virtually any non-computer-based landline or mobile telephone in the world. Read more at Wikipedia.

Today, any registered Skype user can claim 10 minutes of Skype Credit today and try SkypeOut for free.

If you set up an account and want someone to test call, my Skype name is "bshucha." You can tell me what you think about WisBlawg!

Wisconsin Briefs Database Incorporates New Docket Number Format

Last April, the Clerk of Supreme Court's office changed to a new case management system. As part of this change, the docket number format for Supreme Court and Court Appeals cases has changed. The new docket format contains the year, followed by the letters AP (appeals) and the case number. For example, docket number 99-1234 will now be displayed as 1999AP001234.

The Wisconsin Briefs database, created by the Wisconsin State Law Library and hosted by the UW Law Library, has now incorporated the new docket number format. When searching the database, you may use either the old (eg 992588 - no hyphens) or the new, expanded (eg 1999AP002588) docket number format.

To date, the coverage of the Wisconsin Briefs database includes published cases from 173 Wis.2d to 279 Wis.2d and unpublished cases from 173 Wis.2d to 280 Wis.2d.

February 22, 2006

Winter 2006 LLAW Newsletter

The Winter 2006 edition of the LLAW Newsletter is now available. The newsletter is a quarterly publication of the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin.

Madison Alder Gets Libraries

Madison District 15 Alder, Larry Palm writes in his blog about plans for several Madison Public Libraries. He rounds out his post with the following:

When I walked doors in late 2004 through my central eastside neighborhoods, I did hear from a high percentage of households that taxes were too high. However, when I suggested that the library levy is roughly $40 per household (or about eleven cents a day), residents were amazed! For a year's worth of services this seems like an incredible bargain. And it is.

Ask To Retire Jeeves Name

From TVC Alert

Ask.com soon will retire the name, Ask Jeeves, to become simply Ask.

Maximizing Your Browsing Experience

In the recent edition of LLRX, Fred Faulkner has compiled a useful guide to Maximize Your Browsing Experience. In it, he explains how to make the most of toolbars, bookmarklets, and extensions. Very handy stuff.

What to Do When the Network Goes Down

There were a lot of lost souls wandering around the UW Law Library in the last 24 hours. Horror of horrors - the Law School's computer network was completely down thanks to an accidentally severed fiber optic cable.

It's truly amazing how reliant we are on technology. Students were forced to use print resources without the Lexis and Westlaw. Reference librarians could only rely on their memories of where things were shelved without access to our online catalog. Many a library staff member cleaned out her desk and caught up on his professional reading.

So if you wondered why you couldn't access WisBlawg or the UW Law Library or Law School Web sites yesterday, now you know. The workers are out on Bascom Hill right now with their little white van finishing up their repairs, bless their hearts.

February 20, 2006

Create a 360 Degree Image

Picturecloud.com is a free, neat little tool that allows you to create a spinning 360 degree image. Take a series of still photos from all sides of an object and upload. The more you pictures you take, the better the effect. Picturecloud will mesh your photos together and create the 360 degree image for you.

The site recommends using it to sell products, but I think it could also be neat for a virtual tour of, say, a law library.

Source: SlickDeals.net

Paralegal Blawg - The Estrin Report

There's a new blawg in town - The Estrin Report, "created for professional paralegals -- not of a certain level, specialty or firm -- but of a particular attitude."

The author is Chere Estrin, CEO of the Los Angeles-based continuing legal education organization, Estrin LegalEd.

Source: The Vancouver Law Librarian Link Blog

Your Very Own E-Nagging Service

In any relationship there is a fine line between reminding and nagging. When does too much of the former turn into the latter? Are you once, twice, three times a nagger? I'm sure that my husband and I would disagree.

But will he (and you) remember to do things without a few gentle "reminders"? Not to worry - now he can sign up for his own e-nagging service called HassleMe. Simply enter your email, what you want to be reminded of, and how often.

Popular hassles include:

- Go to the gym roughly every 4 days
- Write an entry in my diary roughly every 3 days
- Call your mother roughly every 7 days
- Go to the theatre roughly every 21 days

Source: BarclayBlog

February 15, 2006

Things That Make You Go Eww

A pair of articles to brighten your day:

- From Reuters: Oddly Enough:
Grocery shopping? Take your rubber gloves!
"Shopping cart handles are the most bacteria-infested items among some commonly used objects while doorknobs on public bathrooms are not as bad as might be expected, according to a survey conducted in South Korea."

- From Boing Boing:
Fast-food toilet-water has less bacteria than their drinks-ice
"A seventh-grade student in New Tampa, FL, compared the water in fast food restaurants' toilets to the water used in their drinks-ice and concluded that the ice was higher in bacteria than the toilets. 12-year-old Jasmine Roberts won her school science fair for her research and hopes to win the county prize this week."

Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft

My fellow UW Law Librarian, Jenny Zook has written a useful piece on protecting yourself from identity theft for our Law School newsletter.

Bookmobile Delivery by Camel

When I worked at the Eau Claire Public Library, I was the backup driver for their Bookmobile service to area nursing homes and senior centers. We had a van. But in Kenya, "ships of the desert are the best way to travel."

From the BBC News comes a photo journal of the Camel Mobile Library.

"A static library would be of no use to nomads and so instead we follow them, wherever they go. . . . We travel within a radius of 11km on a given day. As the camels arrive, the children are actually waiting for us. The day we come is fixed and they are expecting us."

Thanks to my colleague, Lisa Pfaff for the tip.

February 14, 2006

People Like "Renting" CDs, DVDs from the Library

There is a forum I monitor from SlickDeals.net on freebies ('cause who doesn't like free stuff?). Mostly posts are about free deals at restaurants and other promotional giveaways, but today there was a post from someone recommending Free Rental DVDS from library.

Following the initial post were three pages of comments from people who overwhelmingly loved "renting" movies, music CDs, books on CD, etc. for free (or a minimal charge) from their public libraries. As a librarian, I found this encouraging. And since libraries are always seeking feedback on what patrons thinks about our services, I thought that other librarians might find these comments useful also.

I Heart Tech Offers Tech Tips for Lawyers

In honor of Valentines Day, I recommend a great blog I recently discovered called I Heart Tech. The blog from Law Tech Partners has lots of good "Technology Tips and Advice for a Lawyer's Life and Business."
(See postcard auction)

Wisconsin Lawyer, Febuary Issue Available

The February issue of the Wisconsin Lawyer is now available. Highlights include:

February 13, 2006

Madison City Council - Does Blogging Violate Open Meeting Law?

Friday's Capital Times has a thought-provoking article on whether the proliferation of Madison City Council member blogs could violate Wisconsin's open meeting law. So far, four of the 20 council members are blogging.

February 9, 2006

State of the Blogosphere

    Technorati's latest quarterly State of the Blogosphere is out and findings show that the blogosphere is continuing to expand at an amazing rate.

    Some of the more interesting stats:

  • The blogosphere is doubling in size every 5 and a half months
  • On average, a new weblog is created every second of every day
  • 9% of new blogs are spam or machine generated
  • There are about about 50,000 new blog posts per hour

Source: Depraved Librarian

Library Patron "Borrows" Way into Prison

From the Baltimore Sun (free registration required):

If you're two weeks late in returning a book to the Baltimore County library, you're likely to get a phone call. If your book is four weeks overdue, you'll receive a notice in the mail.

And if you're Philip Akbar Shabazz, you're sent a letter that begins: "You currently have 402 items overdue from the Baltimore County Public Library. Fees and charges for these items amount to over $8,400."

Library officials say they suspect that the books were sold. Yesterday, Shabazz, a Randallstown resident, went to court to face a felony theft charge. He was convicted and sentenced to three years behind bars.

Thanks to librarians Nancy and Sara Paul for the tip.

February 8, 2006

Send a Voice Recording via Outlook

From inter allia:

Have a long message to send to someone, and just don't feel like typing it? Enter WaxMail, a program that records your message in MP3 format and then attaches it to an Outlook message. And it's free, too.

Chat Comes to Gmail

Some Gmail (Google email) users now have access to nifty new tool - an embedded chat client. Unfortunately, it hasn't made its way to my Gmail account just yet. But, according to SearchEngineWatch, it's pretty sweet.

For those visual learners like me, check out the Gmail chat help for an enlargement of the image below.

February 7, 2006

Brush Up Your Searching Skills

Do your searches often yield too many or too few search results? Or would you just like to brush up on your search strategies? If so, help has arrived.

The UW-Madison campus librarians have created a series of nice, short narrated tutorials that offer strategies for achieving better search results. The tutorials were created using Macromedia Captivate, a screen capture program.

The following general tutorials are available: Research Tips and Strategies: Basic Search Strategies | Identifying Scholarly Articles | Finding Information about Periodicals | Strategies for "Too Many Results" | Strategies for "Too Few Results"

There are also a number of tutorials for resources available in campus libraries such as MadCat (a catalog of items available on the UW-Madison campus), WorldCat (a catalog of library materials worldwide), and more.

Transforming Your PowerPoint Presentation Web Seminar & Highlights

From Bad to Great: Transforming Your PowerPoint Presentations is the title of a free Web Cafe seminar from Office Depot. Although the live semimar was offered in January, you may replay it at any time.

Of, if you are like me and don't want to take the time to listen to the whole thing, take a look at the highlights for some quick tips on improving your PowerPoint presentations. From the highlights:

Top Audience Complaints:
#1 - When a presenter stands there and reads the PowerPoint slides.
#2 - Text that is too small. Don't rely on PowerPoint automatically resizing the text for you, because the program doesn't know if the text is big enough. Test it out to make sure it's large enough for audiences to read.
#3 - Poor color choice. Choosing colors with little contrast makes it hard to see what's on the slide.
#4 - Full sentences instead of bullet points are boring and lead to presenters reading the slide.
#5 - Swirls and twirls. Excessive animation is annoying and does not serve a purpose.
#6 - Diagrams and charts that are too complex. If you need to use a pointing device to explain the diagram or chart, it's too complex.

Other Web Cafe seminars available are on the following topics: office makeover, data security, tracking money. Check back in March for a new series.

Source: inter alia

AOL & Yahoo to Charge for Bypassing Spam Filters

From the New York Times:

America Online and Yahoo, two of the world's largest providers of e-mail accounts, are about to start using a system that gives preferential treatment to messages from companies that pay from 1/4 of a cent to a penny each to have them delivered. The senders must promise to contact only people who have agreed to receive their messages, or risk being blocked entirely.

February 6, 2006

Law Libraries According to Law Student Bloggers

"I'm finding it hard to imagine that there's 45 minutes of stuff to see in the library. Unless they're going to have us shelve books, or complete a short research assignment while we're there," wrote one law student blogger of first year library orientations tours.

Understanding law student attitudes and behavior is key to sucessfully marketing the law library. Fortunately, as Rob Hudson of St. Thomas University School of Law writes, "many law students record their feelings as they progress through law school in Blawgs intended to inform their peers, but they also provide a wealth of information and amusement for librarians."

Law Students Write About Law Libraries (or, What Students Really Think: A Survey of Student Blawgs) is the article by Mr. Hudson that appears in the latest version of the ALL-SIS Newsletter. Highly recommended for academic law librarians.

Caseload Stats, Judicial Compensation & Dane Cty Courthouse

The Winter 2006 edition of The Third Branch is now available. The Third Branch is a quarterly publication providing news of interest to the Wisconsin Court System.

Highlights include:
- Evaluation of caseload statistics
- Update on judicial compensation
- Opening of new Dane County Courthouse

Diplomatic Papers Added to Foreign Relations of the U.S. Collection

Tthe University of Wisconsin Digital Collections group has announced the addition of Diplomatic Papers, 1944-1945 to its Foreign Relations of the United States Collection.

The Foreign Relations series is the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions that have been declassified and edited for publication. The series is produced by the State Department's Office of the Historian and printed volumes are available from the Government Printing Office.

February 4, 2006

WisBlawg Moves to a New Home

I'm pleased to announce that WisBlawg has moved to a new home. Please direct your browser to http://www.law.wisc.edu/blogs/wisblawg/

We hope to move the archives over to the new platform in the near future. Additionally, we hope to create a redirect so that you will automatically be directed to the new site when you click on this Blogger url.

Please see the welcome message at the new site for instructions on subscribing via RSS feed or email.

Thanks for your patience as WisBlawg makes the transition to it's new home. If you experience any problems, please contact me (see my profile for the email address) or comment on the welcome message post.

Welcome to WisBlawg's New Home

Welcome to WisBlawg's new home on the Movable Type platform. Please note that the URL has changed to http://www.law.wisc.edu/blogs/wisblawg/

I made the change for several reasons and chief among them, the desire to move off of Blogger. Besides not being very customizable, the credibility of many Blogger blogs is questionable. Because it's a free service, Blogger is ripe with spam blogs. Many legitimate blogs are, therefore, tainted by association. My desire to move coincided well with the UW Law School's decision to offer a blogging platform for its personnel.

Among other changes you will see is the new banner featuring a photo of the UW Law Library Grand Reading Room. And notice the new tag line - "Searching Smarter... With a Little Help from a Law Librarian"? I felt that it summed up the dual purpose of WisBlawg: 1) To offer useful advice to make legal practitioners smarter researchers and 2) to emphasize the value that law librarians bring to the practice of law.

Since WisBlawg uses a feed generated by FeedBurner, I was able to change the source to reflect the URL change. Therefore, anyone that has subscribed to this feed (http://feeds.feedburner.com/Wisblawg-FromTheUwLawLibrary) should continue to receive WisBlawg content. However, if you subscribe to WisBlawg using it's original ATOM feed (http://wisblawg.blogspot.com/atom.xml) you will need to resubscribe to the FeedBurner feed listed above.

Most email subscribers should also not be affected by the change since they are also directed through FeedBurner. If you have set up an email subscription through a service other than the one currently offered on the WisBlawg site (FeedBlitz), you will need to change it.

Thanks for your patience as WisBlawg makes the transition to its new home. If you experience any problems, please contact me (see my profile for the email address) or comment on this post.

Oh, and with a little help from our IT staff, I hope to move the archives from Blogger over to the new Movable Type platform. Watch for that in the near future.

February 2, 2006

ABA Blogs Poll

Learn what your colleagues think about blogging in the ABA Litigation Section blogs poll:
Blogs are certainly pervasive on the internet, and a slight majority of you (57%) read some sort of blog on a regular basis. However, creating and maintaining a blog is a different story: only 19% of respondents write their own law-related blog.
Source: The University of Baltimore Law Library Weblog

LexisNexis Introduces Browser Toolbar

TechnoLaywer Blog has a nice little summary of LexisNexis' new browser toolbar. I noticed an ad for this the other day, but I haven't tried this myself since I've already got more toolbars than I can use. If you've used it, I'd be interested in hearing some feedback. Just comment on this post to share your thoughts.

Breaking "News" - Lost Books Return Home

And now the "news" from the UW Law Library...
There was a joyful reunion here today as 4 books that walked away from the New Book Shelf at the University of Wisconsin Law Library over 3 years ago returned home. Cataloging assistant Carrie Doyle had been searching for 3 of the books since November, 2001, and for the fourth since May of 2002. "They should be here," she could be heard muttering as she faithfully checked the shelf each month.

Ms. Doyle had all but given up hope of ever seeing them again when the wonderful e-mail from her colleague Mary Jo Koranda arrived, alerting her to the fact that the missing books had turned up in a box left (donated?) at the Lake Mills Public Library. The kind librarian there had noticed the Law Library's property stamps on the books and promptly sent them back where they belonged.

The hooligan who had taken the books from the Law Library without checking them out had removed the spine labels from the book jackets; a clever detective could tell there were sticky spots where the labels had been. Fortunately, they did not deface the books themselves in any way. In fact, the thief left the spine labels on the actual books, so they are ready to go right back on the library's shelves.

While Ms. Doyle and others at the library would love to find out how the books ended up in a box in Lake Mills; in particular, who put them there and how did that person get them past the Law Library's security system in the first place, in the end the staff is just happy the books are back where they belong.

--- By Ms. Carrie Doyle

The four disappearing titles were:
  • A. Lincoln, Esquire : a shrewd, sophisticated lawyer in his time / Allen D. Spiegel.
  • Writ of execution / Perri O'Â’Shaughnessy.
  • The associate / Phillip Margolin.
  • Incriminating evidence / Sheldon Siegel.

February 1, 2006

iPod + Congress

IPac, the Intellectual Property Action Committee, has launched an interesting campaign called the Congressional iPod Education fund.

It seems they were inspired by "Senator Stevens, the 82-year old [U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation] chairman from Alaska, [who announced] that his daughter had bought him an iPod, and suddenly Stevens had a much greater understanding of the many ways innovative technology can create choice for consumers.

That's why we think all Senators ought to join Stevens' esteemed company as iPod owners."

The group aims to buy a video iPod for the campaigns of Senators who work on legislation affecting technology and "pre-load each one with examples of the cultural richness made possible by sharing and collaboration." The iPods will be engraved with the words "listen to the people."

Source: BoingBoing

Will Amazon Offer Online Delivery of Movies?

Some sources are speculating that Amazon.com will soon be entering the online delivery of movies market. Arstechnica writes:
According to the uniformly unnamed sources, Amazon's vision includes a try before you buy model, where you could download or stream a movie for a fee, and apply that fee as a credit towards the purchase price of the corresponding DVD, should the content tickle your fancy. Another idea is to provide free downloadable versions along with regular DVD purchases, to draw in those who would rather swing by the closest Wal-Mart or FYE for their movie needs, because they just can't stomach waiting a couple of days for their DVDs to be delivered.
Source: LibrarianInBlack