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November 28, 2006

Judge Posner Comes to Second Life

Boing Boing reports that Judge Richard Posner is coming to Second Life. [What is Second Life?] From the New World Notes blog:
... Judge Richard A. Posner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit will take on avatar form to discuss the US Constitution in the era of apocalyptic terrorism.... I'll be interviewing the Judge about his latest book, Not a Suicide Pact: The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency, a provocative case for balancing our freedoms with security in the post-9/11 world. As with previous NWN Book Club events, the Judge will answer questions from the audience, and autograph copies of his book's virtual edition.

See the New World Notes post for more information.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Charging For Archives - Badgerlink Still Free

Looks like the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is now charging non subscribers for articles older than fourteen days. Access to the archives is free for 7 Day subscribers. See the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Archive Search page for more information, including pricing. (Thanks to Bev Butula & Diane Duffey for the tip)

Wisconsinites can still access Journal Sentinel content back to 1995, and much more, free of charge through Badgerlink. See the Wisconsin newsstand. If your ISP doesn't provide access to Badgerlink, you may also be able to use your public library barcode number as a log-in ID.

November 27, 2006

What Do You Do All Day? A Law Librarian's Answer

From a law librarian's get-well card:

On the outside: "We wish you a speedy recovery so you can get back to the office and do your job..." and on the inside, "...of course, we can't figure out just what it is that you do!"

I think that most law librarian's can identify with that sentiment shared by Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin President Diane Duffey in the recent LLAW Newsletter. In her book, Practicing Reference: Thoughts for Librarians and Legal Researchers, Mary Whisner shares her own anecdotes in the chapter entitled "What Do You Do All Day." Highly recommended.

If you're a librarian, do you have an answer to that question? Diane proposes the following exercise:

Imagine what your organization would do if you disappeared for, say, just a couple of weeks. Write down what you come up with. It will probably make you smile, when you think of the people you work for trying to "do just what it is that you do." Come up with some amusing anecdotes. Consider using some of this material tactfully at your next review.

Over the past couple of years, I've given a lot of presentations to legal professionals. Almost every time someone comes up to me and says how great they think that librarians are. While I'm always pleased to hear this, I'm struck by the irony of it since many of them truly have no idea what we do. They just know that we do it well.

Throw-away E-mail Addresses

From Library Stuff - Throw-away e-mail address generators:

  • Spamhole - "SpamhOle.com allows you to create a temporary email address; nameyoupick@spamhole.com. For the number of hours that you choose, all email to nameyoupick@spamhole.com address is automatically forwarded to your regular email address. After time is up, any new mail that comes to your spamhole address is automatically deleted. This way, you never have to give your email address out when you sign up for stuff on the internet. You can create a spamhole address, sign up for stuff on the internet, and not have to worry about your mailbox becoming a target for spammers"
  • 10 Minute Mail - "you will be given a temporary e-mail address. Any e-mails sent to that address will show up automatically on the web page. You can read them, click on links, and even reply to them. The e-mail address will expire after 10 minutes. Why would you use this? Maybe you want to sign up for a site which requires that you provide an e-mail address to send a validation e-mail to. And maybe you don't want to give up your real e-mail address and end up on a bunch of spam lists. This is nice and disposable."

Did you know that you can also use Bloglines for email - throw-away and otherwise? This is especially useful when you want an email address that isn't quite so temporary as those listed above. I use a different Bloglines email address for every listserv to which I subscribe. When I don't want to receive mail anymore, I just delete the email address.

Wisconsinites May Soon Be Dropped from No-Call List

Many Wisconsinites may soon be dropped off the Wisconsin No-call list which identifies residents who do not wish to receive telemarketing calls. Numbers remain on the list for two years.

If it's been a while since you added your name to the list, you can sing up again at the Wisconsin No Call List web site or call 1-866-9NO-CALL (1-866-966-2255).

For more information about this list, call the toll free hotline of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection at 1-800-422-7128.

November 22, 2006

LRB Briefs on WI State Officers & Milwaukee Parental Choice

There are two new Wisconsin Briefs available from the Legislative Reference Bureau.

New UW Madison Campus Map - The Best Online Map I've Ever Seen

If you need to visit the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus but could you a little help navigating your way, check out the new, interactive Campus Map.

This is the best online map I've ever seen. You can click and drag to see other parts of the map, zoom in or out, measure distance, and mouse over any building, parking lot or bus stop to get detailed info. Click on the "aerial" button at the top left to change the view to an aerial satellite image.

Do a search for "Law Library" and see it for yourself. It will zoom you to the Law School building, link you to details about the building and its departments. Click on the blue bus icon on the corner of Park and University to see which buses stop there (including the free ones). In the bus stop window, click on the route number to have the whole route displayed on the map.

Article: Dead Plagiarists Society

My colleague, Lisa Pfaff, passed on an interesting article this morning from Slate. In the article, Dead Plagiarists Society, author Paul Collins contemplates the use of Google Book Search as a tool to detect plagiarism in the literary tomes of yesteryear.

Given the popularity of plagiarism-seeking software services for academics, it may be only a matter of time before some enterprising scholar yokes Google Book Search and plagiarism-detection software together into a massive literary dragnet, scooping out hundreds of years' worth of plagiarists--giants and forgotten hacks alike--who have all escaped detection until now.
More to come later?

November 21, 2006

Guide to Assessing Information on the Internet

Mary J. Koshollek, director of information and records services at Godfrey & Kahn S.C. in Milwaukee has written an excellent article on evaluating websites in the November issue of the Wisconsin Lawyer. In Assessing Information on the Internet, Mary describes the whys and hows of evaluating the authority of Internet materials.


This article provides guidance as you search and work to evaluate the information that you are gathering. Healthy skepticism and critical evaluation techniques are basic lawyering traits and should be applied to working with Internet-based information.

Availability of 2005-06 WI Statutes in Print

According to Bruce Hoesly at the Revisor of Statutes Bureau, the print sets of the 2005-06 Wisconsin Statutes are scheduled to arrive at Document Sales in mid December. Prices have not been set yet.

Write or call:
Wisconsin Department of Administration
Document Sales & Distribution
Section 202 South Thornton Avenue
P.O. Box 7840
Madison, WI 53707-7840
(608) 266-3358

November 20, 2006

"Blawg," Directory of Legal Blogs, Makes Some Improvements

If you've visited Blawg lately, you've probably noticed a few changes. The directory of legal blogs has updated it's look and added some useful upgrades.

  • The first change is the url - the central domain is moving from .org to .com. Blawg.com has long redirected to Blawg.org, and now the relationship will simply be reversed.
  • Blawg's Blog is also moving to a new platform and address. You will find the new Blawg's Blog at http://blog.blawg.com.
  • The new Blawg directory automatically sorts each category (or subcategory), top to bottom, by a blawg's popularity.

Also interesting - Blawg developer, Bill Gratsch, shared with me that the category Law Libraries & Research is one of the largest, most active categories in the directory. "Law libraries are clearly one of the dominant forces out there with regard to law blogs."

He goes on to say in a recent blog post:

[I]t is readily apparent that they are offering a valuable service to the legal community at large. . . For example, attorneys could clearly benefit from subscribing to the content from their local law school's or bar association's library blawg. These research professionals are often well-versed in recent legal developments in the state or city where the library is located. Just tapping into these daily updates for information of import to the local Bar could be a valuable time saver.

Glad to hear that our efforts are being appreciated.

November 16, 2006

ISBN Changing from 10 to 13 Digits

Starting in January, a new international standard is expanding the current 10-digit ISBN to a 13-digit ISBN. See the press release from OCLC. [What is an ISBN?]

Useful Information About WI Statutes & Admin. Code on the Web

On Wednesday evening, WI Deputy Revisor of Statutes, Bruce Hoesly gave an interesting presentation to the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin on the new RSB web site.

Besides guiding us through the ins and outs of the new NXT interface for the Statutes and Administrative Code, he shared some other interesting information.

Did you know?:

  • WI Statutes on the web are updated quarterly or more and are more current than the print or other electronic versions. Note the "updated through" note at the top of the web page.
  • The WI Administrative Code and Register on the web are updated monthly and are always concurrent with the print versions.
  • After March 2001, history links in the Admin. Code take you to the filing instructions for the date of the change. The filing instructions then take you to the Register pages which were removed. [Note: Researching Admin. Code history is not for the faint of heart!]
  • In the "Go to" citation search box on the left for both the Statutes and Admin Code, spacing and punctuation matters. It's easy to see how a search for WI Stat "13.93 (2m) (b) 2" could be tricky. Try using the "less is more" approach and just search for "13.93" and then browse your way to the specific subsection.
  • The web version of the Statutes is labeled as "unofficial" - what does this really mean? Bruce explained that the print Statutes are "certified" by the RSB through a rigorous examination process before they are sent to the printer. This certification process is simply not feasable in an electronic environment. However, he did say that both the print and electronic version are created from the same source. So although they aren't officially "official", users shouldn't be scared off by the term "unofficial."

Planned Improvements:

  • RSB is working on scanning previous versions of the WI Administrative Code back to 1956. They hope to have code from the 1990s available soon.
  • RSB is investigating having live links to the CFR and US Code when they are cited in the Statutes and Admin Code.

If Bruce or anyone else who attended the meeting has anything else to share (or correct), please share your comments.

Airlines to Offer iPod In-Flight Entertainment Next Year

The New York Times reports that "airline passengers will soon be able to connect their iPods to in-flight entertainment systems and watch their favorite videos while traveling on any of six major carriers."

Air France, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, KLM and United Airlines will begin offering passengers iPod seat connections as early as next year.

19th Century Political Campaigns Make Today's Look Genteel

Think today's political campaigns are nasty? The Wisconsin State Journal's Odd Wisconsin column reminds us of the not-so-good-old-days when campaign rallies sometimes became bloody affairs.

These outdoor political events were more like protest rallies than TV speeches, as a candidate's backers came together in a park or plaza. They often preceded torch-lit marches through town, and if two opposing parties met on the street, the scene was less like a League of Women's Voters debate than a Packers- Bears game.

In the spring of 1847, two such groups clashed in Milwaukee. "I witnessed from the store door the free fight which took place," recalled A.W. Kellogg. "Both sides used their torch sticks for weapons, or any club they could find, and belabored each other till heads were broken and clothes stripped off.

Legal Support Staff "Unsung Heroes" Honored

Last Friday, the Wisconsin Law Journal celebrated the efforts of law firm and court support staff during its inaugural Unsung Heroes program. The newspaper celebrated the achievements of 41 honorees and presented awards to 10 individuals.

Profiles of the honorees appear in the current issue of WLJ and are also available on the WLJ site. A big congratulations to all those honored.

Blawg-only Search Engine

Justia.com has recently launched a legal-blog--only search engine. Blawg Search offers both a search engine for blawg posts, as well as a directory of legal blogs. Very nice.

Source: Robert Ambrogi's Law Sites

November 14, 2006

Web Site Doesn't Have a RSS Feed? Create Your Own

I'm a big RSS fan. It's a wonderful technology for current awareness, networking, benchmarking, and image monitoring. But, unfortunately, not every Web page that I want to monitor offer a RSS feed.

That's where "html scraping" services like FeedYes & Ponyfish come in. They allow you to create your own RSS feeds from almost any regularly updated web page.

"Html scraping" services "scrape" the links and text off a Web site and save the links and text into an XML document. See Wikipedia if you want to learn more.

Of the two, I prefer Ponyfish because it's a bit more user friendly. Here's how it works:

1. Enter the URL of the page you want to create a feed for. I chose the Wisconsin Joint Committee on Finance web site. There may be some new papers or minutes that I want to know about.

2. In the window containing the web page, click on the links that you want to include in the feed (you have to choose at least two). For the Joint Comm. on Finance, I chose Minutes and Papers.

3. Continue to generate the XML document. (You can skip Ponyfish's step three)

4. Add the feed to your Feed reader. Now anytime the committee posts new minutes or papers, I'll be notified.

Public Radio Segment on Legal Blogs

Earlier this week, Minnesota Public Radio featured a segment on the extent to which legal blogs are making their way into judicial opinions.

Source: Real Lawyers Have Blogs

The Gargoyle UW Law Alumni Magazine Online

The Gargoyle, the University of Wisconsin Law School alumni magazine, is now available online. Currently, the Spring 2006 and Winter 2005 issues are available.

November 10, 2006

Badger RSS Feeds

Are you a Badger fan with a RSS reader? Check out the UWBadgers.com RSS Feeds. Follow you favorite team by choosing top headlines, or pick an individual sport.

Computer Recycling Roundup in Madison This Saturday

From What's New from the Madison Public Library:

The next computer recycling roundup is this Saturday, November 11, from 9 AM until 1 PM at the City Transfer Station, 121 E. Olin Ave, between the Alliant Energy Center and Goodman Field.

This event is limited to home electronics ONLY. No computers from businesses. For more information, please refer to the City's acceptable computer components and electronics list. For additional computer recycling options check the Dane County Public Works web site.

Note that Cascade Asset Management of Madison, which runs the Computer Recycling Round-up, completely erases or destroys the hard drives it receives. See earlier WisBlawg post on this problem.

It's OK to Use Hidden Metadata Says ABA Ethics Opinion

According to a recent press release form the ABA:

Lawyers who receive electronic documents are free to look for and use information hidden in metadata - information embedded in electronically produced documents - even if the documents were provided by an opposing lawyer, according to a new ethics opinion from the American Bar Association.

It goes on to explain what such metadata might reveal:

The ABA committee noted metadata is ubiquitous in electronic documents, and includes such information as the last date and time that a document was saved and by whom, data on when it was accessed, the name of the owner of the computer that created the document and the date and time it was created, and a record of any changes made to the document or comments written into it.

"Other types of metadata may or may not be as well known and easily understandable ... Moreover, more thorough or extraordinary investigative measures sometimes might permit the retrieval of embedded information that the provider ... either did not know existed, or thought was deleted," said the opinion. And while the opinion said most metadata "probably is of no import," it added that the metadata can sometimes reveal such critical information as "who knew what when," or negotiating strategy and positions. (emphasis added)

For tips on purging metadata before sharing documents, see Metadata: What You Can't See Can Hurt You by Sharon Nelson and John Simek. Law Practice 32(2):28-29 (March 2006)

Source: beSpacific

November 9, 2006

When is Employee Blogging Protected?

There is an interesting article in the October issue of the Duke Law & Technology Review entitled, When is Employee Blogging Protected by Section 7 of the NLRA? (2006 DUKELTR 17)

From the article:

Blogs present courts with a new context in which to strike the balance between employee and employer rights. This iBrief focuses on employee blogging during personal time without the aid of an employer's property. The iBrief recommends that courts recognize employees' criticisms of their employer on blogs as protected concerted activity, and argues that existing case law examining unfair labor practices readily applies to the blogging context.

November 8, 2006

UW Law's Public Interest Law Foundation Students Reach Out at the Library

Spotted on the Madison Public Library What's New blog:
Law School Students Reach Out to People at the Library

On Saturday, November 11 from 9:30 a.m. -12:00 p.m., law students from the UW Public Interest Law Foundation will be available at the Central Library with information about general legal issues.

The law students can 1) provide basic information about the law (common concerns brought up at these table sessions are landlord/tenant, unemployment and family law) and 2) find a referral for a lawyer or an agency that specializes in the appropriate area. The students can not provide opinions or advice as to what people should do in their situation or provide actual representation in court.

The University of Wisconsin Law School's Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) is a student run organization committed to supporting law students who want to work in public interest law.

November 7, 2006

View of Bascom Hall, 1907

There are a lot of interesting images in the University of Wisconsin Collection from the UWDC. Here is a view of Bascom Hill circa 1907. Note the old law school building half way up on the left. For a larger view, see the original from the UWDC collection (link removed - see below).

A larger photo of the old law school building (built in 1893) hangs in the Law Library on the wall leading into the Quarles and Brady Reading Room.

Update: It appears that the link to the image from the UWDC doesn't work because I believe that the url was tied to my session. You can still see it if you do a search of the WI Collection search page and search on the term "photogravure" (What is a photogravure?)

State of the Blogosphere, October 2006

Some data from the latest State of the Blogosphere, October, 2006 from Technorati.

  • Technorati is now tracking more than 57 Million blogs.
  • The blogosphere is doubling in size approximately every 230 days.
  • About 100,000 new weblogs are created each day
  • About 55% of all blogs are active, which means that they have been updated at least once in the last 3 months
  • Total posting volume of the blogosphere has leveled off somewhat, showing about 1.3 million postings per day

Automated Web Surfing for Lawyers - Article on RSS

Tom Mighell and Dennis Kennedy have compiled a good list of RSS Resources You Can Use: Automated Web Surfing for Lawyers in November issue of Law Practice Today.

The article begins with an introduction to RSS and how to monitor information via RSS feeds using a newsreader (a.k.a. feed reader or aggregator).

For the more advanced RSS user, I thought that the section on Generating Your Own RSS Feeds and Other Advanced RSS Tools was particularly useful. They described tools for customizing, filtering and creating your own feeds.

Source: VLLB Linkblog

November 3, 2006

The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law on How to Fail as a New Associate

Highly recommended for law students is The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law. This funny guide is dead-on with its tips for new associates.

From Chapter Two, How to Fail as a New Associate:
Pt 6, Who Needs Books? This Handy Computer Will Give Me a Case On Point

If I ask you to help with legal research, and you return a half hour later insisting that there is no case on point, I will know that you did word searches on Lexis instead of doing true research. I will go to the library, skim a treatise, read the descriptions of cases in the digests, read the relevant cases, and find the precedent that we need. I will also think about having some other lawyer help me with my next case.


The UW Law Library's copy is available at KF300 H47 2006

Source: Law Dawg Blawg

Article: State of the Legal Blawgosphere

This morning, Westclip picked up on Federal Lawyer article on The State of the Legal Blawgosphere. (Westlaw: 53-OCT FEDRLAW 14)

According to estimates from Bob Ambrogi and Tom Mighell, there are at least 1000, but probably closer to 2000 legal blogs in existence. Also mentioned was the list of 100+ law library blogs which I maintain.

From the article:

Should We Care?
Now, as if making the argument over sheer numbers somewhat irrelevant, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a published order denying a motion for en banc reconsideration. A fairly substantial portion of the dissent (written by Judge O'Scannlain, with Circuit Judges Kleinfeld, Tallman, Bybee, and Bea concurring) consists of a block quote from a blawg. (See Harper v. Poway Unified School District, 455 F.3d 1052 (9th Cir. July 31, 2006.) Can an avalanche of blawgs be far behind?

November 2, 2006

Article: Parents Legally Liable For Kids' Internet Misconduct?

Many parents have worried about their children spending too much time online, viewing Internet content that might be inappropriate, or being contacted by unsavory characters in Cyberspace. However, very few parents likely have considered the prospect that they may be sued for the online misbehavior of their kids.
--From the FindLaw article, Parents Legally Liable For Kids' Internet Misconduct?

Source: Stark County Law Library Blog

On This Day in Wisconsin History

If you are a fan of the Wisconsin Historical Society's Odd Wisconsin web site, you may also be interested in On This Day in Wisconsin History from WHS. There is even a RSS feed. You can also submit an event of historical significance to the database.

November 1, 2006

Article: Research Beyond Google

Jimmy Atkinson, of the OEDb: Online Education Database has compiled a very useful directory of authoritative Web resources. The article is entitled, Research Beyond Google: 119 Authoritative, Invisible, and Comprehensive Resources.

I like this line:

Do you think your local or university librarian uses Google? Sure, but certainly not exclusively. [Oh no, our secret is out] In order to start researching like a librarian, you'll need to explore more authoritative resources, many of which are invisible. [What do you mean "invisible"?]

Topics Covered include:
Deep Web Search Engines | Art | Books Online | Business | Consumer | Economic and Job Data | Finance and Investing | General Research | Government Data | International | Law and Politics | Library of Congress | Medical and Health | Science | Transportation

Historical CFR Now Available on HeinOnline

HeinOnline has recently announced the availability of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) from inception in 1938 through the 1983 edition. It includes all editions inclusive of this period as well as all supplements for this time frame in PDF format.

Currently, the 1938 through 1983 editions of the CFR in HeinOnline have been electronically indexed to the Book level. Additionally, content from 1938 through 1949, as well as 1977 through 1983 has been electronically indexed to the Part level. In future enhancements, all content will be electronically indexed to the Part level.

Note that the CFR is available from 1996 through the present at GPO Access.