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December 20, 2011

Mobile App for PACER Access Free for Limited Time

FedCtRecords is a iPhone/iPad app which allows registered PACER users to search and retrieve documents. It is free for a limited time.

According to the support page, you can:

* Search Attorney and Party names within a District Court.
* Add Attorney information to the Contacts Application.
* Save multiple cases for quick retrieval.
* View Party and Attorney information.
* View Case Summary information.
* View Deadline and Hearings summary information.
* View Docket summary information.
* View and Email Docket Filings in pdf format.

Note that this application is for case searching only - it cannot be used to file documents.

Hat tip to LexScripta

December 15, 2011

Portage Co Joins CCAP to Complete Statewide Integration

Earlier this month, Portage County joined Wisconsin's Consolidated Court Automation Programs (CCAP) electronic case-management system. Since it was the last of Wisconsin's 72 counties to join, CCAP now has complete statewide integration.

For more information, see The Third Branch.

December 12, 2011

Index to Legal Periodicals No Longer Available via LexisNexis

According to the Law Library Directors' listserv, Index to Legal Periodicals (ILP) will no longer be available through LexisNexis at the request of the publisher. It is unknown whether it will continue to be available on Westlaw.

ILP indexes English language legal periodicals published in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

For many years, ILP was published by H.W. Wilson Company. Earlier this year, Wilson merged with EBSCO Publishing.

CAPTCHAs Being Used to Help Digitize Books with Poor OCR Accuracy

CAPTCHAs are those distorted letters that you have to enter after some internet transactions to verify that you're actually a human.

I recently learned that some CAPTCHAs are being used to help digitize old printed material by asking users to decipher scanned words from books that computerized optical character recognition failed to recognize. That is very cool.

Science Magazine reports that:

Whereas standard CAPTCHAs display images of random characters rendered by a computer, reCAPTCHA [from Google] displays words taken from scanned texts. The solutions entered by humans are used to improve the digitization process. To increase efficiency and security, only the words that automated OCR programs cannot recognize are sent to humans.

This illustration from the Science article helps demonstrate how it works:
recaptcha.jpg
The article explains:

In this example, the word "morning" was unrecognizable by OCR. reCAPTCHA isolated the word, distorted it using random transformations including adding a line through it, and then presented it as a challenge to a user.

Because the original word ("morning") was not recognized by OCR, another word for which the answer was known ("overlooks") was also presented to determine if the user entered the correct answer.

For more information, see the reCAPTCHA page and the Science Magazine article.

December 6, 2011

Follow the UW Law Library on Facebook and Twitter

Did you know that the UW Law Library has both a Facebook page and a Twitter feed? Follow us to learn about library announcements, special hours, new publications, etc.

Note that the Twitter feed is the most comprehensive way to follow us since it incorporates posts from both WisBlawg and Facebook, as well as alerts for new subject guides.

December 5, 2011

Zotero Mobile Apps Allow you Scan Books, Edit Library

I've mentioned several times how much I like and use Zotero, the "powerful, easy-to-use research tool that helps you gather, organize, and analyze sources and then share the results of your research."

Capturing citation information from your computer has always been easy, but now there are some new mobile apps for Zotero that allow you capture content from the print world and work with your library on your mobile device.

Say that you're in the library or bookstore and find a book that would be great for your research. With Scanner for Zotero (Android) or BibUp (iPhone) you can just scan the book's barcode to add it to your Zotero library. I tried Scanner for Zotero and it worked great.

BibUp goes a step further by allowing you to scan (photograph) specific pages which it can convert to OCR.

Zandy (Android) allows you to edit and view your Zotero libraries, add new items, and work offline.

ZotFile Reader
(iPad, Android tablets etc) is a Firefox add-on that streamlines the process to work with Zotero and your pdf reader applications on tablet computers (iPad, Android tablet).

For more information on these apps, see the Zotero website.

Update 2/6/11: Thanks to Zandy developer Avram Lyon for letting me know that the link to Zandy was outdated. I've corrected it above. Avram also told me that the latest version of Zandy also supports reading attached PDFs and scanning barcodes.

December 1, 2011

Restyled Federal Rules of Evidence Effective Today

On April 26, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court approved restyled amendments to the Federal Rules of Evidence. The amendments became effective today, December 1, 2011. For more information about the restyling, see The Third Branch.

They are available online at Cornell's LII. Apparently the uscourts.gov website has not yet been updated.

Hat tip to my colleague, Eric Taylor.