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December 28, 2006

WI Booster Seat Law to be Enforced Starting in January

From the Capital Times:

Starting January 1st, Wisconsin authorities will start enforcing a law that requires children who are at least 4 years old but younger than 8 to travel in a booster seat while in the car, unless they are 4 feet 9 inches or taller or weigh 80 pounds or more. Wisconsin law already required children under 4 years old to be in a safety seat.

If a child 4 or older, but not yet 8, is unrestrained or not properly restrained, drivers will face a $135.60 fine for a first offense and $184.50 for a second offense. For children younger than 4, the fine is $160.80 for a first offense.

December 27, 2006

Five Little Known Things About Me - One of Which Isn't True

I've been tagged by Steve Matthews over at Vancouver Law Librarian Blog to share five things little known things about myself. Only four of them are true. Can you guess which one isn't?

  • I had a lot of nick-names as a kid. One of the longest lasting was "bruiser"
  • I'm a big fan of sci-fi movies and TV shows. Stargate Atlantis is my current favorite.
  • I married my high-school sweetheart whom I started dating at age 14.
  • I have close to one hundred first cousins.
  • I am 100% of Swedish descent.

I tag Barbara Fullerton, Diane Murley, David Badertscher & Harvey Morrell

Legal Blog Awards

Tis the time of year for blog awards. Here are two which honor legal blogs:

WisBlawg Named Top 100 Education Blog

oedbtop100big.png I'm very honored to learn that WisBlawg has recently been named as a Top 100 Education Blog by the OEDb: Online Education Database. Not bad considering there are over 30,000 education blogs.

The list is not ranked but rather is ordered alphabetically within each topic. WisBlawg is one of four specialty blogs.

December 20, 2006

UK Statute Law Database Free on Web

Just released today, the UK Statute Law Database (SLD) is the official revised edition of the primary legislation of the United Kingdom made available online. Previously accessible only to a limited number of users in government, SLD is now publicly available online, free of charge.

Thanks to my colleague, Nancy Paul, for the tip.

December 19, 2006

Library of Congress & Copyright Office RSS Feeds

Looks like the Library of Congress is offering a handful of RSS feeds. There are general feeds about library news and events, as well as feeds from the U.S. Copyright Office. The latter features feeds for current legislation, federal register notices and more.

Source: Library Stuff

Google Offers US Patent Searching Back to 1790

Google has recently added one more to it's specialty search engine tool box: Google Patent Search.

Nancy Spitzer, Patents and Technical Reports Librarian at UW-Madison's Wendt Library, had this to say:

Patent librarians across the country are busily analyzing this new member of the Google family and it looks promising. There's much excitement because this is the first time that keyword searching of all US patents from 1790 to (almost) the present are available free on the Internet! (The US PTO Patent Full Text Database only allows keyword searching back to 1976 and Espacenet keyword in abstract back to 1920).

Google says: "We don't currently include patent applications, international patents, or U.S. patents issued over the last few months, but we look forward to expanding our coverage in the future."

Also, be aware of many glitches due to faulty OCR character recognition in older patents. "Electric EEEE CHIICFTE" was found to actually be "Electric cash register."

Please keep in mind that more precise, comprehensive, "advanced" patent searching is still going to require using the US PTO database and other resources.

Nancy also points out that there is no way to print or save the patents you find in Google. Fortunately, Nate Vack from Wendt has developed a script to add a link to the free pat2pdf service to any patent search result in Firefox.

For questions about patent research, contact Wendt Library. Note also that Wisconsin TechSearch does patent searching for a fee.

Traveling This Season? Check the Road Conditions

CNN reports that a record number of Americans will be traveling this holiday season - about 65 million people between December 23 and January 2, more than the record 63.5 million who traveled last year, according to a survey by the Travel Industry Association and the AAA.

If you'll be taking to the Wisconsin roads, you may want to check out the Department of Transportation's Online Travel Center. You'll find several interactive maps including a winter road condition report which indicates whether highways are in good driving condition, slippery in stretches, snow or ice covered. The map is updated four times per day.

Traveling outside of the state? See the National Traffic and Road Closure Information which links to road conditions for every state.

Thanks to my colleague, Sue Center, for the tip.

December 13, 2006

Online Plat Maps & City Directories Offer Historical Land Use & Ownership Information

A collaboration between the University of Wisconsin Digital Collection Center and the Madison Public Library has produced a digital collection of Historical County Plat Maps from South Central Wisconsin and Early Madison City Directories. The collection spans the latter half of the 19th century.

In addition to their usefulness for historians and genealogists, these plat maps and city directories are also an important resource for legal researchers seeking historical land use and ownership information.

From the MPL site:
Historical plat books help people to trace neighborhoods and streets from what was once farmland. These maps show the division of the land into streets, blocks, and lots, indicating the measurements of the individual parcels.

Early city directories of Madison provide helpful historical information on the early years of the state capitol in addition to helping those looking for information on specific people and businesses in the area in the 1800s and early 1900s. The directories provide an alphabetical list of citizens with their addresses and occupations, a classified business directory, lists of city and county officials, churches, schools, societies, streets and wards.

For other digital collections of Wisconsin historical materials, see the UW Digital Collections State of Wisconsin Collection and the Wisconsin Historical Society web site.

New Federal Rule Re: Citing Unpublished Opinions

As of January 1st, the following important change to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure is scheduled to go into effect.

Rule 32.1. Citing Judicial Dispositions (a) Citation Permitted. A court may not prohibit or restrict the citation of federal judicial opinions, orders, judgments, or other written dispositions that have been: (i) designated as "unpublished," "not for publication," "non-precedential," "not precedent," or the like; and (ii) issued on or after January 1, 2007.

See Proposed Amendments to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure from the US Courts web site.

Source: Moritz Legal Information Blog

December 12, 2006

Remote Printing From Anywhere

From inter alia: Remote Printing Made Easy

PrinterAnywhere is an interesting application -- it allows you to safely print documents on any printer, anywhere in the world -- or to have documents printed on your computer from anywhere in the world. It's a free download, but both you and the owner of the other printer has to have the software installed. Once you're both up and running, you can easily print a file to the other's printer with just a few clicks. According to the site, the print jobs are encrypted, so PrinterAnywhere is safe to use.

Librarian's Ultimate Guide to Search Engines Has Tips for Everyone

Scott Hawksworth over at DegreeTutor has created a very useful guide for online research called the Librarian's Ultimate Guide to Search Engines. It covers "things librarians understand about search - and things that anyone doing online research can benefit from."

These things include discussion of where search engines are and where they are going, a glossary, advanced search tips, and a description of some of the players - big and little - in the search market.

This guide has something for everyone - from novice searcher to expert researcher.

December 11, 2006

NYT on Why Spam Has Increased Lately

The New York Times has an interesting piece on the increase in spam in the last six months.

According to the NYT:

- Spammers are "conscripting vast networks of computers belonging to users who unknowingly downloaded viruses and other rogue programs. The infected computers begin sending out spam without the knowledge of their owners."

- "The sudden appearance of new sources of spam makes it more difficult for companies to rely on blacklists of known junk e-mail distributors. Also, by using other people's computers to scatter their e-mail across the Internet, spammers vastly increase the number of messages they can send out, without having to pay for the data traffic they generate."

- Spammers also realized that sending spam in the form of an image would effectively thwart the text filters which analyze the content of an incoming message. "The use of other people's computers to send their bandwidth-hogging e-mail made the tactic practical."

December 8, 2006

"A Corpse Has a Sense of Humor Compared to a Librarian!"

Following my post about Microsoft Live Books yesterday, I spent a little time digging around the database. I came across a 1919 book of fiction entitled, The Swing of the Pendulum. In it, we meet a young woman interviewing for a job at the library.

The Chief Librarian stood before her. He was tall, thin and gray with long bony hands that looked as if they would always be cold. He was like a new chisel, straight and narrow and sharp-edged... Then he sat, staring beyond her, as if his progress through the silent realms of spirit had been rudely halted by the collision with a corporeal body.

A few pages later, we meet the library assistant.
Without waiting for Jean to answer, she began moving noiselessly away on her broad, rubber-soled shoes. She was very slight and gave an effect of deep brownness... She had brown eyes that looked muddy through the thick, myopic glasses, and a braid of dank, brown hair framed her narrow face.

Exit library assistant, upon which our young heroine exclaims, "A corpse has a sense of humor compared to a librarian!"

I can't say anything about the rest of the book, but this selection struck me as both funny and sad. What an uptight, dismal lot were these librarians. Unfortunately, this stereotype has been a tough one to shake. Maybe we need a few more librarians like these.

Adobe Acrobat 8.0 Features Attorney-Friendly Improvements

The ABA reports that the newly released Adobe Acrobat 8.0 contains several new features of particular interest to attorneys. These include redaction, show metadata, Bates numbering, improved forms functions, collaboration tools, and more.

For more, the review in Law.com and the white paper entitled "Adobe Acrobat 8.0 for Legal Professionals" by David Masters.

December 7, 2006

Microsoft Beta Releases Book Search

On Wednesday, Microsoft released Live Search Books in beta. Similar to Google Book Search, the Microsoft book search engine allows users to keyword search for scanned books. Unlike Google, however, Microsoft is scanning only noncopyright books, unless publishers opt-in to have in-copyright publications scanned.

According to CNet news, Microsoft has restricted the beta release of Live Search Books to only include noncopyright books scanned from the collections of the British Library, the University of California and the University of Toronto. Materials from New York Public Library, Cornell University and the American Museum of Veterinary Medicine will be added within the next month.

December 6, 2006

Your Life Work: The Librarian

A colleague passed along this little YouTube gem entitled, "Your Life Work: The Librarian," a vocational guidance film from 1956. Prerequisites for a career in librarianship: love for books and love for people. It's not bad, actually. Not a shusher in the bunch.

WSLL After Hours Service

The Wisconsin State Law Library reminds users that it's After Hours Service renewal/application time. Any Wisconsin-licensed attorney may subscribe to this service, which allows use of the library from 5 to 10 p.m. Monday - Friday and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday - Sunday.

Track Web Site Changes

From WSLL @ Your Service: Keep Track of Competitors and Clients

Looking for a free and easy competitive intelligence tool? Trackengine.com is a free service that can be used to track changes made to websites. After signing up for a free account, users can add a "Track Me" button to their web browser. While viewing a page you wish to monitor, click the "Track Me" button to invoke your Trackengine.com account. If you have a pop-up blocker installed on your PC, you may need to temporarily disable it.

You then have the opportunity to customize your tracking, using either "simple" or "expert" tracking parameters. When changes are made to the webpage, Trackengine.com will send you an email alert containing your choice of a summary of the change, or a reproduction of the webpage with the new content highlighted. This is an easy way to monitor competitors or keep up to date on clients.

Trackengine.com also provides tutorials on competitive intelligence research and tips and tricks for using the service. For more robust tracking, Trackengine.com offers a fee-based subscription service.

Similar services include WatchThatPage. and WebSite-Watcher. The latter, available for a fee, is more robust.

December 1, 2006

Noah Wyle Returns as "The Librarian" this Sunday

Noah Wyle returns this Sunday night as The Librarian in the the TNT movie, Return to King Solomon's Mines. I've got my TiVo all set.

From the TNT site:

This globe-trotting action-thriller from the producer of Independence Day and the director of Star Trek: First Contact sends Flynn on a journey to uncover the fabled mines of King Solomon and a secret about his own family's past. He's joined by Gabrielle Anwar as a woman whose academic skills surpass even his own. Back after 2004's enormously successful The Librarian: Quest for the Spear are Bob Newhart, Jane Curtin and Olympia Dukakis.

And check out the graphic novel adaption from Atlantis Studios. Cool. Thanks to my colleague, Margaret Booth, for the tip.

Database of Articles by Law Librarians Now Offers Alerts

Several months ago, the AALL Publishing Initiatives Caucus (which I co-chair) created a database of articles written by law librarians for legal publications. Writing articles is one many ways that law librarians can demonstrate their value to the legal community.

An alert feature has recently been added to the database - both RSS and email subscription options are available. Each time a new citation is added to the database, subscribers will receive an alert. It is our hope that these articles will be read and shared among the legal community.