« February 2008 | Main | April 2008 »

March 31, 2008

Send Email to be Delivered in Future

"TimeMachiner is a new mini-app that lets you email people in the future. Use it to remind yourself to do something that you'll more than likely forget, keep your future self on the straight and narrow, even wish your friends happy birthday...the possibilities are endless!"

Source: MakeUseOf.com

Madison Street Views Added to Google Maps

Last month I reported that street views of Milwaukee were available in Google Maps. Well, now Madison street views are available as well. Check out the interactive view of the UW Law School below.

View Larger Map

Simply do a Google search for an address in Madison and click on the "Street Views" link in the resulting map. You'll see a panoramic view from the street like the one above. Notice that you can pan, rotate and zoom, as well as, move forward or backward down the street.

Source: Dane101
Update: 4/2/08
It appears as though street views of much of Dane County are available, not just Madison. And yup, there is my house, although the address is wrong. See the report from Channel 3000.

Penny Postcards from Wisconsin

Take a trip back in time with Penny Postcards, featuring scenes from every state. There are some great ones for Wisconsin, including this one of City Hall in Milwaukee.

Thanks to Angela Henes for the tip.

March 28, 2008

GPO Authenticates Online Content

Beginning with the 110th Congress, the Public and Private Laws on GPO Access have been digitally signed and certified. GPO has signed and certified the PDF files to assure users that the online documents are official and authentic.

"To help meet the challenge of the digital age, GPO has begun implementing digital signatures to certain electronic documents on GPO Access that not only establish GPO as the trusted information disseminator, but also provide the assurance that an electronic document has not been altered since GPO disseminated it." Read more at GPO Access' authentication efforts.

Source: FDLP-listserv via my colleague, Bill Ebbott

Madison Screening of Anatomy of a Murder

This Saturday, Cinematheque is screening the legal classic, Anatomy of a Murder.

Saturday, March 29, 7:30 p.m.
Anatomy of a Murder
USA, 1959, 35mm, b/w, 161 min.
Directed by Otto Preminger
With James Stewart, Ben Gazzara, Eve Arden

The Cinematheque is located at 4070 Vilas Hall, 821 University Avenue, immediately South and East of the intersection of Park Street and University Avenue. All screenings are free and open to the public on a first-come, first-seated basis.

The Cinematheque is a coalition of UW-Madison academic departments and student film groups dedicated to showcasing films which would otherwise never reach Madison screens.

Thanks to my colleague, Lisa Pfaff for the tip.

March 26, 2008

De-Bunking the CSI Effect

In the March 2008 NIJ Journal (National Institute of Justice), felony trial judge Donald Shelton explores The 'CSI Effect': Does It Really Exist? Based on findings from a survey of jurors in Ann Arbor, Shelton concludes that it does not.

Many attorneys, judges, and journalists have claimed that watching television programs like CSI has caused jurors to wrongfully acquit guilty defendants when no scientific evidence has been presented. The mass media quickly picked up on these complaints. This so-called effect was promptly dubbed the "CSI effect," laying much of the blame on the popular television series and its progeny....

Although CSI viewers had higher expectations for scientific evidence than non-CSI viewers, these expectations had little, if any, bearing on the respondents' propensity to convict. This, we believe, is an important finding and seemingly very good news for our Nation's criminal justice system: that is, differences in expectations about evidence did not translate into important differences in the willingness to convict.

Source: Library Boy

March 25, 2008

Foreclosure Alarm Offers Alerts of WI Pre-foreclosure Filings

Foreclosure Alarm is a new company based out of Madison which offers real-time notifications of all pre-foreclosure filings in Wisconsin. The data is derived from CCAP.

From the Attorney Benefits page:

  • Search foreclosure filings based on county, zip code, partial zip code (for metro area matches), plaintiff names and event types.

  • Subscribe to whatever counties in which you are interested. Receive instant email notifications whenever a pre-foreclosure filing is entered in the CCAP statewide system.

  • After you've searched and found the list of filings you are interested in, simply click the export link at the top of the list. This will download a spreadsheet to your computer specifically formatted for easy mail merge with programs like Microsoft Word.

  • With our Filing Watch, you can choose which event types you are interested in. Many events occur during the foreclosure process - many of which you probably aren't interested to know about. With our system, you can filter out these events and only keep track of the ones important to you.

Foreclosure Alarm is priced at $39.95/month for all features. A free trial is also available. They have created a short video explaining how it works.

I spoke with developer Philip Crawford yesterday about the differences between Foreclosure Alarm and CCAP itself. Although the data is derived from CCAP, Foreclosure Alarm's notification service is unique. While CCAP does offer RSS feeds now, they are only available for the basic search. There seems to be no way to get a CCAP feed based on a class code or case type search. Plus, Foreclosure Alarm also offers downloadable spread sheets for mail merging.

Philip also informed me that they are also considering the development of a more generalized notifications system which would incorporate all case types. I also recommended that they look into offering RSS feeds in addition to the email notifications.

Thanks to Carol Bannen for alerting me to this new service.

March 24, 2008

Capture Web Site Content with Time Stamp

From MakeUseOf.com:

FreezePage lets you take snapshots of web pages and store them for later reference. What makes FreezePage different from other screenshot capture tools is that in addition to screenshots it also saves the exact date and time, page size and more. Thus it can be used as an independent third party tool to provide evidence on web copyright issues. Whether someone is stealing your content, illegally distributing your images, using your logos ... you can just freeze the page and use it as an evidence.

Western District of Wisconsin as New Patent Rocket Docket

According to Law.com:

Patent attorneys are hailing the Western District of Wisconsin as the nation's newest so-called rocket docket, characterized by speedy trials and a jury pool friendly to patent holders.

Patent case filings are climbing in the district based in Madison, including cases involving companies headquartered outside the area. Lawyers say they're attracted by the district's educated jury pool, which reflects the work force and populace connected to the University of Wisconsin and the thriving local high-technology sector.

Source: LexScripta

March 21, 2008

Creative Uses for Old Books

If you're planning a little spring cleaning of your personal library, take a look at these clever uses for your old books:

  • Make A Lamp Out of Books (from DIY) Artist and designer Alex Cobb makes a wonderful table lamp out of a stack of books. Look for books that have colorful lettering on the spines. Use children's books for the kids' room. Or how about those old law books sitting out in the garage? They'd make the perfect lamp for a den or study.

  • How to Make a Hollow Book (from wikiHow):A hollow book can be a nifty way to hide something, whether it's a spare key, a secret note, or even money. Most people wouldn't think to browse your library for private or personal things. It's also a great way to pass something to someone discreetly--an unsuspecting onlooker will just think you're sharing a very good read!

  • How to Turn a Book Into a Picture Frame (from wikiHow): Search the basement, the attic or the back of the bookshelves for an old book that has not been opened for years. Make sure that it isn't a valuable antique or first edition! Follow the steps to insert a favorite picture into the frame. Place the book on the end table to be enjoyed and shared by everyone.

Don't have the right books for these projects? Then stop by the Friends of the UW Madison Libraries used book sale on March 26-29, 2008. Held at the Memorial Library at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, this is the largest used book sale in Wisconsin and includes more than 15,000 books covering almost any subject.
Update: 3/25/08
Laura Orr over at Oregon Legal Research offer some additional tips in her guide, How to Dispose of Used Law Books. My favorite is This Into That by artist, Jim Rosenau. His art includes book cases, book shelves, chairs, etc. - all made from vintage books.

Google Scholar Indexing Hein Online Content

Due Process reports that law review articles from Hein Online are now being indexed by Google Scholar.

I've always liked Google Scholar, but up until recently I haven't found it particularly helpful for finding law review articles. Until today. I just noticed that Google Scholar now searches HeinOnline, which has one of the largest online collection of law review articles. I can't tell how much of HeinOnline is being searched by Google Scholar.

Google Scholar is different from Google because it searches only databases that have scholarly content and aren't searchable by Google as they aren't part of the free web. Google Scholar doesn't provide access to the full-text of these articles (your library does that), but it is an quick and easy way to search multiple databases at one time.

And if you didn't already know, the Wisconsin State Law Library offers remote access to Hein Online to firms or state agencies with less than 25 attorneys. If that's you and you have a WSLL library card, you can access the full text law reviews and journals in Hein Online from anywhere.

Update: 3/31/08
Read more about in the Hein Online Weblog

The indexing is still ongoing, as Google Scholar has not fully indexed all of the titles in the Law Journal Collection as of yet. Over the next 30 days or so they should near completion of the indexing at which point the entire HeinOnline Law Journal collection will be searchable in Google Scholar.

March 19, 2008

Tips for Monitoring Cases

Carol Bannen, Director of Information Resources at Reinhart, Boerner, Van Deuren, has compiled a useful list of Tips for Monitoring Cases in the March edition of the Wisconsin Lawyer. She describes a range of publications and alert services which will notify legal practitioners of new cases in their practice areas.

March 18, 2008

Exclusive Rights to GAO Legislative Histories Sold to Thomson West?

Boing Boing reports on Carl Malamud's investigation of the exclusive deal in which the Government Accountability Office has contracted with Thomson West to provide complete federal legislative histories compiled by GAO law librarians.

John Wonderlich of the Sunlight Foundation alerted me to a situation about a month ago that we've been pursuing (with EFF's help) at the Government Accountability Office, which is an arm of the U.S. Congress.

The law librarians at GAO have compiled complete federal legislative histories from 1915 on. These are the definitive dossiers that track a bill through the hearing process and into law. If you want to divine the intent of Congress, this is where you go.

GAO cut a contract with Thomson West to have these documents scanned. Thomson West claims they have exclusive access to these public documents and even go so far as to boast that you should purchase this exclusive "product" from West because the GAO law librarians (public employees!) have done all the work for you!

If you're interesting in tracking this issue, I've [Carl Malamud] created a Scribd group that has all the documents we've obtained so far. Next step: we asked for a copy of every document scanned under the FOIA laws!

Source: law.librarians

Announcing the Web 2.0 Challenge: A Free, Online Course to Introduce Law Librarians to Web 2.0 Technologies

For the past few months, I've been involved with a project that I'm pleased to finally be able to officially announce: the Web 2.0 Challenge, an online course to introduce law librarians to social software and how to use it in their libraries. The course is sponsored by the AALL Computing Services Special Interest Section of which I serve on the board.

The Web 2.0 Challenge will provide a free, comprehensive, and social online learning opportunity designed for law librarians by directing them in hands-on use of these technologies. The course is intended for law librarians who have little experience with these technologies but are interested in learning more.

The online course will take place between July 21 and August 18, immediately following the AALL Annual Meeting. The five week course will cover these areas:

Week 1: Blogs & RSS
Week 2: Wikis
Week 3: Social Networking Software and Second Life
Week 4: Flickr & Social Bookmarking Software
Week 5: Selling Social Software @ Your Library

Participants will be required to complete a series of weekly activities, including viewing an instructional screencast; completing hands-on exercises based on the lesson; weekly blogging about their experience; and participating in a weekly small group chat session. The course will culminate with each participant developing a proposal for implementing a specific social software tool in their library.

Full enrollment will be limited to approximately ninety participants. However, course content will be freely viewable to anyone who wishes to follow along. Enrolled participants who complete all weekly activities are eligible for weekly and grand prize drawings (prizes provided by CS-SIS). Certificates will also be awarded to all participants who complete the course.

We anticipate opening enrollment at the end of June. There is no charge for this course and enrollment will be offered first come, first served. A limited number of spots will also be reserved for on site registration at the AALL Annual Meeting CS-SIS program, H-1: Cool Tools: Energizing Law Librarianship with Web 2.0 on Tuesday, July 15th.

If you would like to be notified when enrollment opens, please send us your contact information. If you have any questions or comments, you may also enter them on the form above, or you may contact me directly at bjshucha@wisc.edu.

Children's Testimony May Be More Accurate Than Adult's

A recent study finds that children may offer more accurate court testimony than adults. The study was conducted by two Cornell University professors: Valerie Reyna, human development professor, and Chuck Brainerd, human development and law school professor.

Science Daily reports:

They say children depend more heavily on a part of the mind that records, "what actually happened," while adults depend more on another part of the mind that records, "the meaning of what happened." As a result, they say, adults are more susceptible to false memories, which can be extremely problematic in court cases.

Reyna and Brainerd's findings are summarized in a new book, The Science of False Memory, published by Oxford University Press.

Source: Boing Boing

Feingold Receives ALA's James Madison Award for Protecting Public Access to Gov't Information

The American Library Association has announced that Senator Russ Feingold has been awarded the 2008 James Madison Award which honors those who, at the national level, have championed, protected, and promoted public access to government information.

"His work in the United States Senate to promote the public's right to know has been extensive and effective," said ALA President Loriene Roy in her opening remarks. "In short, he has put his money where his mouth is on open government legislation and his record reflects just that."

WI Supreme Court One of the Most Influential

From the Wisconsin Court System Headlines:

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is historically among the most influential state supreme courts in the United States, according to preliminary findings of a study published in December by the UC Davis (University of California, Davis) Law Review.

The study, which was highlighted in a March 11 column by New York Times legal affairs writer Adam Liptak, examined 66 years of decisions by state supreme courts nationwide.

Wisconsin ranked eighth in two categories of study - the number of high court decisions that have been "followed" at least once by an out-of-state court, and the number of state high court decisions that have been followed at least three times by out-of-state courts.

PreCYdent Adds New Content - State Opinions & Congressional Records

Per an email I received from developer Antonio Tomarchio, PreCYdent is reporting some new content:

  • A collection of opinions from major states has recently been added with more to come
  • Later this week, a GPO section will be added containing "all congressional records" I'm not sure what that means, but I'm eager to find out.

March 12, 2008

Managing Your Professional Reputation Online

Steve Matthews over at Stem Legal has written a very useful article on managing your online reputation. He writes:

Online reputation management isn't a question of blogging gone badly, or someone posting drunken pictures in Facebook (although both are possible). It's a business issue for every lawyer who practises, and it requires some form of monitoring and, more often than not, active attention...

Perhaps surprisingly, it is not the lawyers who participate online who are most vulnerable to negative reputation risks. More often, it's lawyers without a web publishing presence, and with a related dearth of content about them, who are at the greatest risk. Unfortunately, in many firms, that group includes the senior members of the partnership...

So if bad profile on the web lingers in the search engines if it isn't addressed, and if the adage of keeping silent and letting things blow over no longer works, what does? The answers come in the form of personal web publishing and developing one's online voice. When a client or prospective client goes hunting for content about a lawyer, that content should accentuate the positives and help bury the negative.

Has Westlaw Really Removed Almost All Dialog Content?

Out of the Jungle reports that "Westlaw has removed all Dialog content with the exception of the copyright databases." Worse yet, it seems that there was no prior notification.

It's uncertain whether this affects all Westlaw accounts or just academic ones. I've asked my Westlaw Librarian Relations rep about it, but haven't heard back yet. OOTJ also promises to report any updates.

March 10, 2008

Self Playing Digital Audio Books - No CD or MP3 Player Needed

Milwaukee Public Library has announced that they've recently acquired a collection of "Playaway" audio books.

Playaways are the digital content of an entire book pre-loaded into a pocket-size player. There is no need to load CD's or cassette tapes; you just press "play" and begin listening. Very simple to operate and light to carry, the library is excited to be able to offer this type of media to its patrons.

Many Madison area public libraries also carry Playaway titles.

To browse a list of available titles, do an author search for "Playaway" in the South Central Library System (Madison-area) catalog or the Milwaukee County library catalog.

Update 3/11/08: It seems that College Library also has some Playaway titles. Thanks to my colleague, Gabby Bate, for the tip.

Google Adds Search within a Search

Google has added a new feature in which a secondary search box that appears within some of the search results themselves. See, for example, the search results for a "NASA" search.

Note the "Search nasa.gov" search box below the link. According to Google,

This feature will now occur when we detect a high probability that a user wants more refined search results within a specific site. Like the rest of our snippets, the sites that display the site search box are chosen algorithmically based on metrics that measure how useful the search box is to users.

I've not seen this yet for any other search I've done - have you?

Source: Search Engine Watch
Update: 3/12/08 Looks like Google within Google also appears for some university names, including the University of Wisconsin. I also saw it for the IMDB (Internet Movie Database).

Bo Ryan & Crew READ Poster Available

I mentioned earlier that Bo Ryan & crew are featured on this year's UW Madison Libraries READ poster. The photo for the poster was shot at College Library and includes, from left to right, players Joe Krabbenhoft, Jon Leuer, Marcus Landry, Brian Butch and Trevon Hughes. The project was paid for with private support.

Copies are now available - If you would like one, contact bucky@library.wisc.edu for copies.

March 6, 2008

80% of Legal Professionals Suffer from Information Overload, But You Don't Have to be One of Them

A new study by LexisNexis reveals that 70% of American white collar workers suffer from information overload. That number rises to 80% among legal professionals.

Other findings for legal professionals include:

  • 90% of legal professionals agree that not being able to access the right information at the right time is a huge time-waster
  • 70% say they spend a lot of time sifting through irrelevant information.
  • Nearly 50% say that research takes up so much of their time that they occasionally omit billing clients for this work.

This survey has generated some comment around the blawgosphere.

  • Robert Ambrogi considers the effect of blogs:
    Yes, blogs can add to information overload, but they can also alleviate it by helping lawyers monitor and sift what is important in their fields. Like technology of all sorts, blogs can be either a blessing or a curse, depending on how you use them.

  • Jason the Content Librarian suggests that law librarians can help lawyers cope:
    Law librarians are ideally suited to help individuals and organizations deal with information overload. Training attorneys in personal information management, participating in knowledge management programs, and participating on intranet teams are natural roles for librarians. These areas can greatly alleviate information overload and influence the bottom line of their firms.

    I wholeheartedly agree with both Robert and Jason. Technology is both a blessing and a curse for information overload. In recent years, the growth of new Web content has been practically exponential. A 2007 estimate put the size of the Web at 15 to 30 billion pages. The blogosphere alone is estimated at 70 million blogs. Taken as a whole, that's enough to overwhelm anyone.

    But, fortunately, technology also gives us the tools to selectively choose which information we receive. Through RSS, you can subscribe to only those sources which interest you, be they blogs, newspapers, court documents, SEC filings, etc. With tools such as FeedRinse, you can even limit your RSS feeds further by filtering by keyword. Or if RSS isn't for you, you can have RSS feeds delivered via email with tools like RSSFWD.

    While, yes, the amount of available information is indeed staggering, it need not be overwhelming if you're smart about locating it. Librarians know this - and like Jason said, we can work with you to develop smarter information gathering techniques. Just ask us.

    So, am I suffering from information overload? No way. Bring it on - the more the better.

Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society, formerly the Wisconsin Women's Law Journal

As of the first of the year, the Wisconsin Women's Law Journal is now the Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society. From the announcement:

The new name is more closely aligned with the Journal's mission statement. For twenty-two years, the Journal has been seeking scholarship that, "examine[s] the intersection of law and gender with issues of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation." As the Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society, we will continue to publish articles with this content, now under a more inclusive name that acknowledges the impact of gender on the legal system, without reference to one sex.

See also the announcement of their upcoming symposium, "Working From the World Up: Equality's Future" on March 14th and 15th, 2008.

March 4, 2008

Free Service for Recording (& Podcasting) Conference Calls

A while back I posted about a free telephone conferencing service called FreeConference.com. This free service supplies you with a dial in number and an access code with which all callers can connect.

While this service worked great, I recently had a need to record a conference call. Although FreeConference.com does have recording capabilities, this feature is only available to premium subscribers.

Fortunately, I found another service called Basement Ventures which offered free recording of calls. Like FreeConference.com, you get a dial in number and a code (which they call a bridge number). Give this to all parties and have them call in at an appointed time. The moderator is also given a special code which allows her to access the special features, like recording, muting callers, etc. See the FAQ for more.

You can also access these special features using the BV Web Manager tool. In addition to recording, the Web Manager allows you to selectively mute and unmute callers. Muted callers can use the "raise hand" icon to alert you that they have a question whereupon you can unmute them. That could come in handy for a presentation.

Within 90 minutes after the call is completed, you may access the recording (MP3 file) on the BV site. You have the option of listening to the call on site (and inviting others to do so) where it will remain for at least 30 days; or you can download it to your own computer for permanent storage.

BV is a wonderful tool with lots of great applications. I needed it for a committee conference call. One of the committee members was unable to call in at the scheduled time and I wanted to offer him a chance to listen in on the meeting. It would also be a great way to archive a call for posterity. And since BV generates a RSS feed, you can even use it to podcast your conference calls.