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Update 2/6/11: Thanks to Zandy developer Avram Lyon for letting me know that the link to Zandy was outdated.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.

April 14, 2011

Statistical Abstract & Supplemental Products to be Terminated

The US Census Bureau has officially announced the termination of the Statistical Abstract of the United States and its supplemental products: USA Counties, State and Metropolitan Area Data Book, County and City Data Book, State and County Quick Facts, and MapStats.

This is a sad, sad day. The Statistical Abstract and its supplements have been wonderful sources of governmental, demographic, and economic statistics. It is a shame to see them fall under the budget ax.

April 5, 2011

Moving Data from MS Word to Excel

Have you ever wanted to transfer data from a MS Word document into a spreadsheet?

3 Geeks and a Law Blog shares a couple of tricks to help you make the transition without having to manually re-type the data.

September 9, 2010

Make any PDF a Fill-in-the-Blank Form

In the September edition of WSLL @ Your Service, there is a useful Tech Tip in Brief by Heidi Yelk.

She highlights a free tool called PDF X-Change which allows you to fill in the blanks for any PDF form. See the full tip for more.

March 17, 2010 Helps You Visually Organize & Brainstorm Ideas is a simple, free web application that lets you create mind maps for organizing and brainstorming ideas. Mind maps are great for visually laying out ideas and seeing the connections between them.

Here is an extremely simple map that I did.

As you can see, you can also get much more complex.
mindmapcomplex.jpg is an extremely simple to use application. Simply hit enter to create a new main topic and tab to create a subtopic. Use your mouse to move topics around and change their relationships between each other. You can also change the color and size of the topic bubbles.

February 10, 2010

Fastcase App Offers Free Case Law and Statutes on your iPhone

Fastcase recently released an app for the iPhone. And not only is the app free, but so access to the case law and statutes that it contains -- even if you don't practice in a state like Wisconsin where the desktop computer version of Fastcase is free through the State Bar.

So far the reviews have been very good, including this one from iPhone JD:

Every single lawyer using an iPhone should download the Fastcase app. Moreover, the availability of the free Fastcase app is a compelling reason for any attorney not using an iPhone to purchase one today. This app is that useful....

My research needs on the iPhone usually consist of pulling a case when I am out of the office and have a citation, doing a quick search for recent cases that contain a word or phrase, or pulling a statute.... How I wish that Fastcase for the iPhone had been released last Monday instead of last Friday! I would have made extensive use of this app during my time in the courtroom, and the app is so efficient that I would have been much more productive.

Interested? Just click here to download the App from iTunes. Screenshot from iPhone JD.

January 20, 2010

Citer Looks for Legal Citations in Web Pages and Points to Content

Citer is a new tool from the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute that looks for legal citations in ordinary web pages and points to a free, full-text version of the cited source. The concept is very similar to Jureeka, but Citer works in multiple browsers including IE, Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera. Jureeka is only available for Firefox and Chrome.

With Citer, you select an area of text on a web site that contains the cite you would like to look up, click a button in the browser bookmark linkbar, and Citer will attempt to transfer you to a page containing the content.

Jureeka is a little different in that it actually turns the citation into a live link which you simply click on to take you to a page containing the content.

Currently Citer covers the follow citation formats: US Code, US Supreme Court and Circuit court opinions, CFR and Federal Register, Statutes at Large, and federal public laws. They are working to expand it to state courts and some law reviews.

Jureeka's coverage is broader, covering selected federal, state and international sources, as well as some law reviews. See their spreadsheet for complete coverage.

Of the two, I prefer Jureeka - it's less cumbersome and has better coverage (at least for now). But, if you don't use Firefox or Chrome, then Jureeka is not an option for you. Citer is certainly a very good alternative.

Thanks to my law librarian colleague, Bev Butula, for the tip.

November 10, 2009

LexisNexis Releases iPhone App

LexisNexis has released its first iPhone app.

From the announcement: It is called "Get Cases and Shepardize," and (as you may have guessed) allows users to get cases from and Shepardize them to make sure what they have found is still good law. Users must have a current account with and a valid password to use the application. The app itself is free at the iTunes App Store.

See the review at Legal Geekery

Source: Robert Ambrogi's LawSites

November 6, 2009

Refworks Now Supports Bluebook Citation Style

I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but it seems that Refworks now supports the Bluebook citation style. It must not have been too long ago since it's not even showing up yet on the RefWorks Output Style list.

If you're not familiar with Refworks is one of several citation management applications. Other applications that support the Bluebook style include EndNote and Zotero.

Refworks offers the choice of Bluebook - Notes and Bibliography or Bluebook - Notes only. It does not have brief format. See a sample of the Notes and Bibliography style below.


Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Library has created a Refworks Quick Start guide tailored to law users. The guide notes that direct export is available from LexisNexis Academic, Newsbank, JSTOR, Google Scholar. Note direct export is not available for LexisNexis and Westlaw, but you can manually add references yourself.

CM Law Librarian Sue Altmeyer notes that Refworks appears to be more accurate than Zotero when putting citations into Bluebook form. And that both Zotero and Refworks can attach a copy of the article or case to the file.

September 30, 2009

Use Google Docs Viewer to Quickly View Documents Online Without Leaving your Browser

Google has announced a nice Docs viewer which you can use to quickly view documents online without leaving your browser. PDF documents, PowerPoint presentations, and TIFF files are supported

Simply enter a document URL to generate a link to view it. You can then either view the document right away inside of Google Docs, or get the URL which you can then share via email or paste into a website.

To see how a PDF looks inside of Google Docs, follow this link to the WI Budget in Brief which I created with Google Docs Viewer. As a comparison, here is a link to the WI Budget in Brief as you would download it and open separately in the Adobe Acrobat viewer.

I've also noticed that some documents that appear in regular Google search results automatically contain a link to "View" in the Google Docs viewer. Others documents do not, however. Instead, they have a "View as HTML" link. See the screen capture below. I'm not sure why there is a difference. I certainly prefer viewing in the Docs viewer rather than the HTML.


Source: Research Buzz

September 28, 2009

70 Sizzling Apps to Increase Attorney Productivity

The ABA Journal has a great list of 70 Sizzling Apps to increase productivity.

The list is grouped by categories:

  • Word processing and office suites
  • Research and Reference
  • Accessibility
  • Task Management
  • Maps, Fun and Games

September 15, 2009

Get an Anonymous, Auto-expiring Phone Number with inumbr

Thanks to my colleague, Mary Jo Koranda, for pointing me to a service called inumbr, which provides you with a free, auto-expiring anonymous phone number that forwards incoming calls to your home or mobile phone. Callers do not see your home or mobile numbers.

I tried it out this morning and it worked as advertised. You have to tell it what area code you want for your anonymous number (the closest is Chicago area), then tell it how long you want the number to last (hour, day, week), and finally enter your real phone number.

After you hit submit, you'll get a new screen with your new anonymous number. It will be a phone number with an extension.

To test out the system, I registered my office phone for the anonymous number. Then I called the anonymous number with my cell phone. The service did indeed ring my office number but there was a message that said that I'd reached the number through the numbr service.

So, people to whom you've given your anonymous number would know that there was something different about it, but not necessary what -- unless they were also familiar with inumbr. All in all, pretty slick. See the FAQ for more info.

August 10, 2009

Article: Law Practice Technology Information Sources and Tools

The latest edition of LLRX features a useful article by Ken Strutin on Law Practice Technology Information Sources and Tools.

This article is a short list identifying some ways to learn about new technologies that apply to legal research and law practice. At the same time, some specific tools have been identified that will help manage research, communication and information-based tasks.
The article covers tools for current awareness, web-tech 2.0, website monitoring, citation tools, and communication management. Lots of good stuff here to check out.

Hat tip to Scott Frey of Western State University College of Law.

Tools for Scheduling Meetings

Bev Butula's recent column in InsideTrack introduces a couple of tools for scheduling meetings:

Coordinating schedules when working with a group of individuals can be a time-consuming process. It often entails several email exchanges or numerous telephone calls. Many experience the problem arranging times to meet with co-counsel, committee members or social groups. There are several online programs designed to help facilitate the process. This article discusses two of them [Doodle and Meeting Wizard].

August 6, 2009

Free, Easy File Format Conversion

Have you ever received a document in a format that you couldn't open? Maybe a MS Office 2007 .docx format but you're using an older version of Office?

Or wanted to convert a document to PDF but don't have a PDF creator installed on your computer?

Then check out Zamzar, a free online file conversion tool. Simply upload your files, choose the desired format, and enter your email address. In a few minutes, your receive an email notice that your file has been converted and a url where you can download it.

Zamzar also works for other formats, including video and image files. See the full list of conversion types.

Source: TechTips (South Central Library System)

July 8, 2009

Google to Develop Operating System

From the New York Times:

In a direct challenge to Microsoft, Google announced late Tuesday that it is developing an operating system for PCs that is tied to its Chrome Web browser.

Thanks to my colleague, Howard Nash, for passing this on.

June 5, 2009

Thomson Reuter's Lawsuit Against Zotero Dismissed

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that "a Virginia Circuit Court judge dismissed a lawsuit this morning against George Mason University's Center for History and New Media.

Thomson Reuters Inc. had sued the university in a Virginia court in September for at least $10-million in damages, claiming that Zotero, a free software tool created by the university, made improper use of the company's EndNote citation software."

Source: Twitter

May 18, 2009

Zotero 2.0 Now Supports Citation Sharing with Groups

Zotero, a wonderful free resource for collecting, managing and citing sources, recently announced a major upgrade to version 2.0. "Most important among the new features is the long-anticipated ability to collaborate in groups and group libraries," according to their post entitled Zotero 2.0 Mothership Lands.

ReadWriteWeb has done a nice job of explaining the new features:

Now, users who are working on collaborative projects can finally share their research in an easy, straightforward manner. If you are working on a research project in a group, for example, you can now easily create a new group and all the members of the group can just add the papers and books they found to this new group, including notes and other remarks they added to the new entry.

Here's a screenshot of both how groups looks inside of Zotero itself (Firefox plug) as well as how a shared group appears on the web.

So you can see how it looks, here's a list of my publications which I collected using Zotero groups.

I've said it before, but I say it again: I love Zotero. It's a truly wonderful tool for compiling resources - and now it's also great for sharing them. As a librarian, I can see myself using the groups page to share bibliographies with faculty and staff members. As a incoming OneL, I can see how I might want to share resources with my classmates using Zotero Groups.

ReadWriteWeb also reports that:

Some of the most exciting changes to Zotero are still ahead. The team also announced that it expects to roll out a recommendation engine in the near future, as well as a storage solution for sharing attached files (PDFs of academic papers, for example), as well as the ability to subscribe to RSS feeds from public groups and libraries.

April 1, 2009

WisBar InsideTrack and Evernote Note Taking Tool

The latest edition of WisBar InsideTrack is now available.

In this April 1st edition, I contributed an article on Managing your research: Create and search your notes with Evernote. Evernote is a free, versatile note-taking tool. It provides a single place to store many types of notes and makes them instantly accessible at anytime, in any place. You can create plain text notes, capture hand written notes and drawings, and save images and audio recordings.

In addition to my article, other features include:

March 4, 2009

WisBar InsideTrack and Bluebook Helpers

The March 4 edition of InsideTrack is now available. InsideTrack is the new e-newsletter available from the Wisconsin State Bar.

I contributed an article entitled Bluebook helpers: Tools for creating legal citations. In the article, I explore several new tools that can help attorneys create citations more easily: CiteGenie, Introduction to Basic Legal Citation, and Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations.

There is also an article about Arctic Justice - the University of Wisconsin Law School team that participated in the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics in Lake Monona on Feb. 21, 2009, at Olin Park, Madison.

February 25, 2009

Zotero Releases Syncable Web App, Fixes HeinOnline Translator & Impoves Bluebook Format

Lots of good news from Zotero today! If you're not familiar with it, Zotero is a free, easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. See my earlier post for further explanation.

  • Zotero has announced the release of both Zotero 1.5 and the first release of Zotero's web application. The big improvement is that Zotero now supports automatic synchronization of collections across multiple computers. Or, with the web app, you can browse your collection on line from anywhere. Check out the screencast demo for more.

  • Zotero's HeinOnline translator is now fixed. So, now when you're in a document from HeinOnline, you can simply click on the paper icon in the Firefox address bar and Zotero will capture the full citation information -and the PDF of the article itself.

  • Finally, Trevor Owens at Zotero tells me that " there has also been quite a bit of movement on the Bluebook format, which should now be better than ever. There are a few web developers in our forums that are really fired up to improve the usability of Zotero for law."

This is all wonderful news. If I was a big fan of Zotero before (and I was), I'm an even bigger fan now. I think it is one of the most useful tools for research and writing that I've seen in a long time. And, best of all, it's free.

January 7, 2009

Indexes to Wisconsin Newspapers

Newspapers can be a rich source of historical information, but finding articles on your topics of interest can be difficult - particularly for older articles. Fortunately, several state libraries offer indexes to Wisconsin newspapers.

  • The Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau Library maintains a collection of newspaper and magazine article clippings, organized by subject and arranged chronologically. There are clippings in over 1500 different subject areas, many of them law-related. There is also a biography index listing names of prominent Wisconsinites who are mentioned among the articles. Some of the earliest clippings go back to the library's inception in 1901.

  • The Milwaukee History Clippings Index from the Milwaukee Public Library is a subject listing of people, places, events, etc. represented in newspaper articles that were clipped from Milwaukee area newspapers published mainly in the middle to late 20th century.

    This finding tool lets the searcher know if there are articles on a particular subject, but does not give citations to the articles. Therefore, a visit to the Central Library is necessary to review the contents.

  • The Milwaukee Public Library also has print-based card indexes to the Milwaukee Sentinel, 1837-1890 and the Milwaukee Journal, 1915-1917. Both indexes are located in the Periodicals room.

  • The South Central Library System also maintains an index of Wisconsin newspapers through the LINKcat library catalog.

    Includes the following titles:

    • Several Baraboo newspapers (1850-1994 - incomplete)
    • Portage Daily Register (1995-present)
    • Mount Horeb newspapers (dates unknown)
    • Several Reedsburg newspapers (1888 - present)
    • Wisconsin State Journal (1966-1996)
    • Several Wisconsin magazines (1998-present)

  • More recently, full text Wisconsin newspapers are available through Badgerlink's ProQuest Wisconsin Newsstand. Badgerlink is freely available to all Wisconsinites.

    It includes the following titles:

    • Corporate Report Wisconsin; Menomonee Falls (2003 - current)
    • The Daily Reporter; Milwaukee (1997 - current, some exceptions)
    • La Crosse Tribune; La Crosse (1991 - current)
    • Madison Capital Times; Madison (1991 - current)
    • Marketplace; Appleton (1994 - current)
    • Marshfield News Herald; Marshfield (dates unknown)
    • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Milwaukee (1995 - current)
    • News; Kenosha (1991 - 2000)
    • Northeastern Wisconsin Business Review; Neeah (1992 - 1993)
    • Rhinelander Daily News; Rhinelander (1993 - current)
    • Wausau Daily Herald; Wausau (dates unknown)
    • Wisconsin State Journal; Madison (1991 - current)

  • You may also find some Wisconsin newspapers in Google News. It's not clear which papers are included or what the dates of coverage may be, but it's worth a look.

Anyone know of any other indexes that I'm missing?

Thanks to my colleague, Bev Butula for her Wisconsin Law Journal post on the Milwaukee PL Clippings file.

January 2, 2009

PDF Tools: Alternatives to Acrobat

Digital Inspiration has a handy list of free tools for working with PDF documents if you don't have Adobe Acrobat.

The list covers everything from creating PDFs, to merging PDFs, to setting password restrictions, to filling in PDF forms and more.

Source: PDF for Lawyers

November 4, 2008

GMU Drops EndNote; Goes Ahead with Zotero Sync Preview

From Zotero: George Mason University has released an official statement about the Thomson Reuters lawsuit. The press release is copied below.

The Thomson Reuters Corporation has sued the Commonwealth of Virginia over Zotero, a project based at George Mason University's Center for History and New Media (CHNM). A free and open-source software initiative, Zotero aims to create the world's best research tool and has already been adopted by hundreds of thousands of users at countless colleges and research universities. CHNM announces that it has re-released the full functionality of Zotero 1.5 Sync Preview to its users and the open source community.

As part of its formal response to this legal action, Mason will also not renew its site license for EndNote. As academics themselves, the creators of the Zotero project strive to serve the scholarly community and to respond to its needs in an age of digital research. In line with that simple goal, they maintain that anything created by users of Zotero belongs to those users, and that it should be as easy as possible for Zotero users to move to and from the software as they wish, without friction. CHNM concurs with the journal Nature, which recently editorialized about this matter: "The virtues of interoperability and easy data-sharing among researchers are worth restating."

CHNM remains committed to the openness it has promoted since its founding at Mason in 1994 and to the freedoms of users of its websites and software. Its ambitious development cycle and plans for Zotero's future remain unchanged. CHNM will continue to develop and implement new research technologies in the pursuit of better ways to create and share scholarship. CHNM greatly appreciates the many supportive comments it has received from scholars, librarians, and administrators around the globe.

George Mason isn't letting this suit stall plans for the much anticipated syncable version of Zotero. They announced last week "the release of Sync Preview 3, the final preview release of Zotero 1.5 before the initial public beta."

Given that they've dropped their site license for EndNote, it's unclear whether researchers will be still able to transfer citations between Zotero and EndNote.

October 15, 2008

CiteGenie Creates Bluebook Citations from Westlaw

CiteGenie is a new extension for the Firefox web browser that, as its website promises, "automagically" creates Bluebook formatted pinpoint citations when copying from Westlaw.

Wow - this is really impressive. If you're a Westlaw user, this could save you a lot of time when writing papers or briefs. I've created a quick video of me using CiteGenie. As you can see, it's very easy to use. One thing to note, however, CiteGenie does not work if you have the Jureeka add-on installed.

A review of CiteGenie appears in Author, Marc Hershovitz explains how it works and shares his test results for various citation types.

October 8, 2008

Doodle - Scheduling Meetings the Easy Way

The next time you need to schedule a meeting, give Doodle a try. Doodle is free, although you may run into ads here and there.

Here's how it works:

  1. Create a poll - choose several possible times for the meeting
  2. Forward the link to the poll to the participants
  3. Follow participant responses online

See the example to see how it works. You can also use Doodle to create other kinds of polls.

September 29, 2008

Thomson Reuters Claims GMU Reverse Engineered Endnote to Create Zotero

From Slashdot:

Thomson Reuters, the owner of the Endnote reference management software, has filed a $10 million lawsuit and a request for injunction against the Commonwealth of Virginia. Virginia's George Mason University develops Zotero, a free and open source plugin to Mozilla Firefox that researchers may use to manage citations. Thomson alleges that GMU's Center for History and New Media reverse engineered Endnote and that the beta version of Zotero can convert (in violation of the Endnote EULA) the proprietary style files that are used by Endnote to format citations into the open CSL file format.

See for analysis of the suit.
Update: Robert Ambrogi over at Legal Blog Watch also has a good write-up about the suit.

August 8, 2008

A Must Have: Zotero Manages the Entire Research & Writing Process

Yesterday a representative from Zotero, Trevor Owens, gave a demo to our law school faculty. To say that they were impressed would be an understatement - there were actual squeals of delight.

Zotero is a free, easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources. I've known about it for a while (in fact I posted about it last year) but until this week, I had no idea how powerful it is.

It's not just a free version of RefWorks or EndNote which help you capture citations and create bibliographies. Zotero does that, but also much more: it manages the entire research and writing process.

For example, say you're viewing a journal article in HeinOnline. If you look up in the Firefox address bar, you'll see a little paper icon. When you click on the icon, Zotero will capture the full citation information. BUT--and here's the kicker--you can also download the entire PDF article which will attach itself to the citation information.

Now imagine doing this a hundred times over, and not just with articles but with all kinds of documents - web pages, books, gov docs, images, audio, video, etc. Then add content from your own desktop - word files, PDFs, MP3s, PPT files, etc. You can attach pretty much any kind of file to a citation.

Then organize it all into folders (more like iTunes playlists than folders actually) for different projects. And the really cool part is that you can keyword search it all - even the attached articles, word files, web pages, etc. Wow!

But wait - there's more! When you're ready to sit down and write, up steps the Zotero MS Word add on which automatically creates citations for you in your choice of citation style - INCLUDING BLUEBOOK! (The Bluebook style is still in beta, but neither EndNote or RefWorks offer Bluebook at all) Or, if you don't use MS Word, you can simply drag the citation from your Zotero library into any document (WordPerfect, Google Docs, email, etc.) and it will paste in the correctly formatted citation.

Just amazing - Zotero is an absolute must have for anyone who writes. For more information, watch this short video or read the informational flyer.

Update: When I wrote this post, I'd forgotten that EndNote now supports the Bluebook citation style. See my earlier post.

May 14, 2008

Google to Blur Faces in Street Views Maps

In response to privacy concerns, Google will be blurring out any human face appearing in Google Maps street views.

Street views are available in Google Maps for both Milwaukee and Madison. Simply do a Google search for an address in either city and click on the "Street Views" link in the resulting map. You'll see a panoramic view from the street in which you can pan, rotate and zoom, as well as, move forward or backward down the street.

Thanks to Bev Butula for passing on the Search Engine Journal article about the blurring addition.

April 10, 2008

YouMail Offers Advanced Voicemail Features - Customized Greetings, Transcription, Email Delivery

"Wouldn't it be great if you could have your voice mail e-mailed or texted to you instead of having to call back in to your number?"

"What if you could leave customized greetings for people in your address book?"

These are the questions asked - and answered - by YouMail, a free external voicemail service with some pretty powerful features including:

  • Customized voicemail greetings for people in your address book - complete with "ditch" feature
  • Voicemail notification via e-mail, web, and text message
  • Voicemail to text transcription sent to your phone

Right now it is only available in the US and works on AT&T, Nextel, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and more. See for a full explanation of the features.

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!"


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.

March 24, 2008

Capture Web Site Content with Time Stamp


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.

February 25, 2008

Send and Receive Faxes from Your Computer at No Cost

Here are a couple of useful tools for sending and receiving faxes from you computer at no charge:

  • To Send: FaxZero
    Simply enter your name and email, the recipient's name and fax number, upload the document to fax, and send. There is no cost for this service, however there will be an ad on the cover page. The pages of your document will bear no extra marks.

  • To Receive: JConnect Free
    Sign up for your own personal phone number you can use to receive voicemail and faxes as email attachments.
Source: What I Learned Today

November 8, 2007

Tools for Finding Old Web Pages

Determining if and how a Web site has changed can be an important factor in litigation. Many of you probably know about a wonderful tool called the Wayback Machine which archives sites and displays them as they were at various points in time.

But, but did you know that there were other tools that do this as well? I didn't.

Search Engine Showdown has compiled a handy chart for Finding Old Web Pages. In addition to listing each tool, the chart notes how far back the archive goes, and how to search it.

November 6, 2007

Dissertation Calculator Suggests Manageable Deadlines

Have a dissertation looming in your future and don't know where to start? Check out the Dissertation Calculator developed by the UW Madison CIMC (Center for Instructional Materials and Computing).

Simply enter your start date and target end date. The calculator breaks down the dissertation process into manageable deadlines and provides you with important resources and advice. Using this tool can help you develop your specific process in collaboration with your department, advisor and others.

October 2, 2007

Secretly Monitor & Control PCs with SnoopStick

I just learned about a sneaky little device called the SnoopStick which allows you to monitor and control access to computers and laptops from anywhere, anytime. It is available for $60.

According to the web site:

  • Simply insert a SnoopStick device into a USB port on the computer you want to monitor.
  • Run the 60 second setup program. This installs the secret monitoring systems on the target computer.
  • Remove the SnoopStick and take it with you. You can now use your SnoopStick device to monitor and control that computer from any other computer, anytime you like.

Here's more:

The SnoopStick monitoring components are completely hidden, and there are no telltale signs that the computer is being monitored.

Any time you want to see what web sites your kids or employees are visiting, who they are chatting with, and what they are chatting about, simply plug in your SnoopStick to any Windows based computer with an Internet connection and a USB port. SnoopStick will automatically connect to the target computer.

Monitor both sides of IM conversations in real time or tell SnoopStick to display recent activity. Check the sender and recipient of every email sent or received. View the websites your kids or employees have been visiting. Call up a screen capture any time to see exactly what they were (or are) looking at. You can even log the user off, disable internet access, set time restrictions or even turn the computer off. All using your SnoopStick from any computer.

Oh my goodness - this is really scary. I can just imagine all sorts of unscrupulous uses for this, which SnoopStick acknowledges:

SnoopStick was created primarily to help parents supervise their kids online activities. We realize however, that there are possibilities for abuse.

To that end, they've developed an "inoculator" program that you can run on your computer to guarantee that no one will be able to install SnoopStick without your permission. If someone does try to install it, the installation will fail and you'll be notified of the attempt via email.

Source: Internet Guide for the Legal Researcher, July/Aug 2007

September 28, 2007

Deciphering Legal Abbreviations

Legal abbreviations are not always easy to decipher. Fortunately, there are several good reference tools to help you do just that. Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations is a print publication (also available on Lexis) and Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations is available free online.

With both sources, you can either search by abbreviation to get the full title, or search by title to get the abbreviation.

Thanks to Virtual Library Cat's Eye View for the reminder about Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations.

September 27, 2007

Using Jing for Quick and Easy Screencasts - A Wonderful Tool for Librarians

When trying to explain a how to use a computer application, a screen shot (still photo) is worth a thousand words. A screencast (video recording) is worth a million. Librarians have been using screencast applications like Camtasia for a while to produce wonderful tutorials on database searching, etc.

I've often thought about trying my hand at one, but the cost of the software and the production time was too prohibitive. Well, not any more. I've just tried a new, free application called Jing and I just love it.

With Jing, you can record what's happening on your screen and either save it to your computer or share it. If you choose to share it, Jing uploads the video to and gives you back a URL which you can share with anyone.

Or, if you don't need a video, you can capture a still screen shot. Jing has built in arrow, text, and highlighter tools - much faster than editing it in Photoshop or Fireworks.

I tested it out and made a screencast of my own. This 29 second video of a me performing a search in our Wisconsin Briefs database took less than one minute to create - 29 seconds for the actual recording and about 15 seconds to begin and end the recording.

Of course, Jing isn't as full featured as applications like Camtasia. If I wanted to produce a high quality video with audio and annotations, I'd probably break down and buy Camtasia. But for simple screencasts, Jing works great.

Because it's so fast to create and share content, Jing seems ideal for reference librarians. Say I'm working with a patron via email or IM and I want to walk them through a database search. I simply record myself doing the search (like I did with the WI Briefs example above) and send them the link to the recording. Not only can I probably do all this faster than I could type out the instructions, but it will be much clearer to the patron.

I'd love to hear from anyone else using Jing, particularly librarians. Please share your experiences in the comments.

Source: Inter Alia

September 24, 2007

Hand-held Language Translators Available at Madison Public Library

From Check It Out @ the Madison Public Library:

Traveling to another country and want to dine out or shop? You need a Language Translator! Madison Public Library now has a variety of hand-held translators to help you with on-the-spot translations. Just type in a word or phrase, and the translator will find the correct translation!

Choose from:

  • English/Spanish
  • 5-Language European (Dutch, English, French, German and Italian)
  • 12-Language (Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish)

Features include: conversational phrases grouped in these categories: Doing Business, Travel & Directions, Eating & Drinking, Shopping, Hotel and Emergencies; games and exercises to enhance your grasp of the language; currency converters; and a world clock.

Contact a librarian at any one of the Madison Public Library branches to reserve a translator.

September 12, 2007

Free, Easy-to-Use Conference Call System

This morning I had the opportunity to use a conference call service called As the name implies, it's free to use the service. You will, though, probably have to dial long distance since you don't get a toll free number. Normal long distance charges would apply - there is no markup.

We used the Reservationless Standard system and it worked great. There is nothing to set up at all and no registration necessary. Just choose one of their dial in numbers and an access code, then communicate this info with all parties. At the appointed time, just dial the number and enter your chosen access code.

You can also use the Web-Scheduled Standard system if you prefer to schedule the call and invite participants. For this you'll need to register for an account.

Both systems can support up to 150 callers. has received a slew of awards from such organizations as Small Business Technology, PCWorld and others.

September 6, 2007

Beyond Wikipedia - Wikis for Legal Professionals

As part of its Litigation Support Guide, the Wisconsin Law Journal explores the use of wikis in the legal environment. The article is available in the August 27th print edition and will eventually make it's way online.

I was interviewed for the article, along with librarian and wiki expert, Debbie Ginsburg from Chicago Kent College of Law Library. The article lists several wikis of interest to legal professionals, including:

The creation of wikis is also discussed, with thoughts how legal professionals can use them, as well as, tips on how to create them.

August 6, 2007

Lawyering in Second Life has an intriguing article on lawyering in Second Life, an online simulated universe with more than 8 million users.

And while Second Life might initially seem like make-believe or child's play, the firm [Greenberg & Lieberman] is filing real trademark applications, landing real clients and making real money through the virtual world. By Lieberman's reckoning, the firm has pulled in nearly $20,000 in revenue from its Second Life office in the past year. Not exactly enough to make the D.C. 20, but impressive, given that overhead is almost nil.

The office is staffed by attorneys, sort of. Every living, breathing person who enters Second Life acquires an alter ego, a digital character called an avatar that can look like pretty much anything....

People in Second Life act pretty much like people do everywhere. They just might do it in the form of a fuzzy, tangerine-colored fox. And, of course, even fuzzy, tangerine foxes have legal problems.

Landlord-tenant issues, contract disputes, intellectual property problems. Second Life is a lawyer's dream world in more than just the figurative sense.

"There's real money changing hands, and there are real disputes that people have in-world over real creations," says Benjamin Duranske, whose avatar, "Benjamin Noble," created the Second Life Bar Association. "It just happens to be represented digitally."

August 3, 2007

Espresso Book Machine Prints Books On Demand in Less than 15 Minutes

There is an interesting article in the New York Times about the Espresso Book Machine which can, on demand, print and bind a book in less than fifteen minutes. The machine will be at the Science, Industry and Business Library in New York until early September, producing free books from a small list. The two other machines in existence are located in Washington, at the bookstore of the World Bank, and in Alexandria, Egypt, at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

The book machine is a demonstration project of On Demand Books, which is pitching it principally toward the nation's 16,000 public libraries and 25,000 bookstores. The machine, which may eventually sell for $20,000 or more, can produce a 300-page book for a costs of about $3. A bookstore or library could then sell it to customers or library members at cost or at a markup.

So whats the point of such a machine?

According to Dane Neller of On Demand Books, the machine "is for the 'far end of the back list,' those books that are out of print or for which there is so little demand that it would be too costly to print a few hundred copies, let alone one... With the machine, anything available in a portable document format, or PDF, including Grandfather's memoirs and Ph.D. dissertations, can be printed in minutes as long as a computer can read it. Books that are copyrighted and require royalties would need a negotiated fee before they could be published."

This is a very cool idea, but I wonder if it will take off. I don't see too many libraries as being able to afford it. Large bookstores would seem like the more realistic option.

There is a press conference video from the World Bank bookstore which shows the machine in action (see the last five minutes or so).

June 22, 2007

Collect, Manage & Cite your Sources with Zotero

I recently learned about Zotero, free, easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources, and I must say that I'm impressed. It is product of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.

Basically, you download a little extension for Firefox (sorry IE folks) and Zotero becomes embedded in your browser. Then whenever you come across a web page or citation you want to save, just click a small icon in Firefox's location bar (to the right of the URL) to save the citation and link in Zotero (see image). You can organize your sources into folders and subfolders. Add notes if you want.

Zotero works automatically with most online catalogs and a handful of databases, including a few law-related ones: HeinOnline, GPO's e-CFR, Supreme Court cases from Cornell's Legal Information Institute, and patents from the USPTO. And they are working on making it compatible with Westlaw and LexisNexis. For now, you can always manually add citations if no automatic translator is available.

Similar to EndNote or RefWorks, you can easily compile a bibliography with your citations in Zotero. Although it doesn't current support the Bluebook citation style, I've been told that they are working on it.

To learn more, check out the video tutorial.

May 12, 2007

Law Library Podcasts - Experiences and Insights

ipod.jpg There is an interesting article entitled "Are You Podcasting: Current Uses of Podcasts in Law Libraries" in the May issue of AALL Spectrum. Although they haven't caught on as quickly as blogs have (there are currently 116 law library blogs), some law librarians are experiment with podcasting.

The article highlights the podcasting projects from numerous libraries, such as audio tours, recording courses, providing supplementation to regular coursework, special event recording, FAQ and research guides. Insights from the podcasters is also offered.

May 4, 2007

Article: The Fourth Amendment and Privacy Issues on the "New" Internet: and

There is an interesting article on The Fourth Amendment and Privacy Issues on the "New" Internet: and in the Fall issue of the Southern Illinois University Law Journal.

Abstract: and are two of the most trafficked Web sites on the Internet. These Web sites form a "new" type of internet where users can create profiles and share information like never before. With the exploding popularity comes the usage by law enforcement of these Web sites to investigate criminal offenses and the corresponding privacy concerns of citizens.

The Comment explores Fourth Amendment jurisprudence beginning with landmark decisions, then discusses Fourth Amendment cases dealing specifically with cyberspace communications, and goes on to discuss how a court faced with a Fourth Amendment issue on or might apply the holdings from prior cases.

Thanks to my UW Madison Library colleague, Amanda Werhane, for the tip.

May 1, 2007

LLRX Redesigned

Sabrina Pacifici with help from the team over at Justia has launched a redesigned LLRX. They've done a great job of spicing up the look and feel to highlight the first rate content for which LLRX is so well known. Kudos all around.

April 30, 2007

CLJC Offers Customizable Subscriptions to Law Journal Contents

I know I've mentioned it a couple times before, but I wanted to give another plug for Current Law Journal Content (CLJC) from Washington and Lee Law School. With CLJC, you can search and subscribe to current tables of contents from over a thousand law journals (including Wisconsin Law Review, Wisconsin International Law Journal, and Wisconsin Women's Law Journal). Search results include the article citation along with a link to the article in Westlaw (password required) and WorldCat (which will show the nearest library that has the journal).

You can also elect to receive customized alerts by email and RSS. To create an email alert, you must create a profile. Just click on the journals that you want and enter your email at the top. By clicking subscribe, you'll receive a weekly email with the journal table of contents.

With RSS you can customize even further, although it is fairly complex. You can customize your RSS feed by journal, country, author or search terms. [A BIG thanks to John Doyle for recently developing those last two!!]

You do need to construct your own feed - here are a few examples:

  • For articles from a specific journal: [insert your own ISSN] -or- [insert your own journal title]
  • For articles by a specific author: smith) [insert your own author name]
  • For articles matching your keyword search: [insert your own search term(s); note: multiple terms will be "anded"]

If you are a RefWorks user, you'll be happy to know that John has recently created a special RSS feed format for importing into RefWorks. Just paste "&outformat=refworks" on to the end of your feed. For example, smith)&outformat=refworks

At the UW Law Library, we've been working with RefWorks to develop a faculty bibliography. Being able to not only receive notification of new articles by our faculty, but to have the citation information directly imported into RefWorks via CLJC will be a time-saver.

Update: Customized RSS feeds just got a lot easier! Per my suggestion, John has added a RSS button to the search results page. Just do a search and click on the RSS button to subscribe to the results. I LOVE this!

April 17, 2007

Make Any Web Page a White Board with Firedoodle

From LibrarianInBlack:

Firedoodle (which I found via eHub) is a Firefox add-on that lets you add white board functionality to any webpage, image, or map. You can mark it up all you want with highlighting, writing, and placemarking.


Article on Gathering Competitive Intelligence for Litigators and Business Lawyers

Tony Chan, information specialist at Quarles & Brady LLP, Milwaukee and LLAW Government Relations Committee Chair, has written an excellent article on Gathering Competitive Intelligence for Litigators and Business Lawyers. In the article, which appears in the April 2007 Wisconsin Lawyer, Tony covers:

  • Online Sources of Public Records
  • Background Checks
  • Finding Company and Industry Information
  • Opponent or Co-counsel records

April 11, 2007

Coolexon - Powerful 3 MB Translation Software

Coolexon is a dictionary and multi-language translation software providing results in over 60 languages. It offers users a variety of free dictionaries and translation tools in English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and other major languages in the world. And Coolexon is only 3.3MB. coolexon.gif

Coolexon has two key features: cursor translation and text translation. With cursor translation, you can translate words in any places of the screen by pressing Shift and the system will automatically recognize the words selected by the cursor and display results. With text translation you choose which translation engines you want and compare the results generated by different engines. A pronunciation feature is also available.

You can purchase a single license of Coolexon for $35 USD or download a free trial version. See the press release for more information.

Source: LibrarianInBlack

February 26, 2007

Mind Maps Help Explain Complex Information & Relationships

Yet another one from the latest edition of Law Library Journal (Winter 2007). In her column, Technology for Everyone . . ., Diane Murley explains Mind Mapping Complex Information.

Ms. Murley introduces mind mapping as a technique for handling complex information, discusses its application to some functions of law librarians, and lists some of the software that can be used to create mind maps.

I was introduced to mind maps when I had the pleasure of presenting with Diane at the BlawgThink back in 2005. We were given a copy of MindManager and it didn't take long to get hooked. I've used it a number of times for presentations and find that it really helps me explain complex relationships. Mind maps are great for visual learners.

Diane has shared her legal research mind maps at Law Dawg Blawg.

Although I've not used it, Diane notes that FreeMind offers no-cost open-source mind-mapping software. Definitely worth a look if you want to get started with mind maps.

February 22, 2007

Blue Book Citation Tools: Citrus & Citation Legal Edition

Citrus (think Cit-r-us) is a new legal citation tool which automatically corrects legal citations in Word as you type. "When you're ready to type a citation, press F2 and make an educated guess. Once you're done, press F2 again, and Citrus will generate a correct Bluebook citation." An individual license is available for $495 per computer.

Citrus cites to cases, federal and state statutes, CFR, Fed. Register, U.S. Constitution, court rules and more. According to the web site, it also includes parenthetical information, "such as whether a decision is per curiam, whether you need to cite the editor as well as the case reporter, or even whether an opinion in the U.S. reporter came from the court or an individual circuit Justice."

Has anyone used Citrus? I'd be interested in learning more about it. Can it handle law reviews and other more complex citations? There is a "tour," but it's nothing more than a couple of screen shots.

A similar tool that I have used is Citation: Legal Edition. Citation, however, is a bibliographic database management system (unlike Citrus which seems to be an add-on to MS Word). You enter (or import) your citations into a database, and it generates the proper blue book cites for you. It seemed to work very well. Great for scholarly research.

I've since moved to RefWorks which is available campus wide at the University of Wisconsin. Unfortunately, it doesn't support Bluebook citation style (which, I've been told, is because it is too complex).

Thanks to Conglomerate for the tip about Citrus.

January 25, 2007

Use Your Cell Phone to Dictate an Email Message with Jott

It often happens that I'm in my car or walking somewhere when I remember something that I'm supposed to do. Or I think of something that I need to reminder my husband about. And I always seem to be without a pen and paper. That's why I'm excited about a free new web service called Jott with which you use your cell phone to leave email messages for yourself or others. Jott delivers both your recorded message and a text transcription.

You set up an account for yourself with your cell phone number and email address. Then you call a (currently toll free) phone number and dictate yourself a message. Jott will transcribe it and send you an email with your message. I've tried a few messages so far and the transcription has been dead on.

You can also set up contacts in Jott by entering the name, email and phone for someone else. Then you call the same Jott phone number, press 2 (for "Jottcast"), say their name, and leave them a message. The message will be sent to their email (along with a copy to yours).

This is one of the most useful applications I've seen in a while. I can envision using it to send reminders to myself and communicate with my husband. I could also see using it when I don't have access to my email and need to contact someone in my office.

You can also use Jott as an online to-do list. All your jots are saved in your account, whether you create them by phone, sending an email to Jot or entering text directly.

Source: PDF for Lawyers

January 22, 2007

Free Adobe Seminar and Security Flaw Fix

Free Adobe for Legal Professionals eSeminar:

In conjunction with LLRX, Adobe is hosting a free eSeminar on Acrobat 8: Top Features for Legal Professionals. The eSeminar, to be be held on Thursday, January 25, 2007,1:00 PM - 2:00 PM US/Eastern, will cover how to create PDF files from Microsoft Office, the web and other programs, how to turn paper into searchable electronic PDF files, how to comment and annotate PDFs. Also learn best practices for eFiling with Acrobat, using new built-in Bates Numbering to prepare document sets, securely redact both electronic and image-only PDFs, and more.

Adobe Fixes Security Flaw:

From Findlaw -
In response to the discovery of a security flaw in Adobe Acrobat and Acrobat Reader, Adobe has released updates to older versions of the popular PDF viewing and editing software...

Adobe recommends that all users of the Acrobat and Acrobat Reader software upgrade to version 8, which does not contain the XSS vulnerability. For users who aren't able to upgrade, however, the new updates to Acrobat and Acrobat Reader 6 and 7 will plug the security hole. Instructions for downloading the updates are available here.

Sources: beSpacific and Stark County Law Library Blog

January 11, 2007

Add Chat to Your Web Site with Plugoo

The UW Law Library has recently upgraded our IM/chat reference service with a new tool called Plugoo. We've added a text chat box to our home page inviting our students, faculty, and staff to contact us with reference questions. And it was free and easy.

Interested in developing a chat service for your organization? Just get yourself an instant messaging account, register with Plugoo, copy some code into your web page and you've got your own chat service.

This is an awesome tool for libraries. Patrons can contact you in real time right from their computer. They don't need to have an IM account to use it - just type their question into the box. And if you're not logged into your IM account, patrons can email their questions instead.

Anyone else using Plugoo? If so, please share your comments.

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.

December 8, 2006

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 and the white paper entitled "Adobe Acrobat 8.0 for Legal Professionals" by David Masters.

August 22, 2006

Free Collaborative Office Tools - Word Processing & Diagrams

This morning I learned about two neat collaborative office tools:

  • Writely - Word Processor (from Boing Boing):
    Google has re-launched Writely, the online word-processor they recently bought, in public beta. Writely does everything most things Word does, for free -- and saves its output as PDFs and even RSS feeds (subscribe to a word-processor doc!). It features collaborative editing -- multiple editors on the same doc at once -- and can be used as the editor for writing your blog, saving out to a post instead of a file on your machine.

  • Gliffy - Diagramming Tool (from Slaw):
    Gliffy is a web-2.o cross between writely and MS Visio. Lots of drag-n-drop tools for work flows, wireframes, floor plans. Plus, it's a web application that requires no additional software. The other cool part is the ability to collaborate with others.

August 15, 2006

Create Custom United States Maps Online

From ABA Site-tation:
Ever wanted a map of counties in the United States? How about Congressional Districts? Areas with Water Discharge Permits? Distribution of monarch butterflies? All this and more can be found at has an interactive map making tool, which allows you to choose parameters by clicking checkboxes. Read more.

July 31, 2006

Guide to Dialing Internationally

For those that occasionally need to make international phone calls but aren't sure how to dial the number, see the International Dialing Codes guide from

Enter in your location, the location of where you are calling, and the phone number, then click on "Show Dialing Codes". The next page shows you how to dial the number. There is also a link to a world clock so you know what time it is in the country that you are calling. Very handy.

Source: DALL Blog

July 26, 2006

Free Directory Assistance

From Librarian in Black:

Free411 (1-800-Free 411 / 1-800-373-3411) is a completely automated free directory assistance service that works on cell and land lines. I know my cell phone carrier charges $1.50 for each directory assistance call. No longer will I fall for that!

Just call the number, give the city and state, choose whether it's a business, government, or residential listing, and say the listing's name. You'll then start to hear a 12-second advertisement, which you can bypass by pressing a certain key (*cough* 2) on your keypad. The number is given to you twice. I tried it four times with four different listings in four different cities, and the voice-recognition software got each listing correct--even the number for our local library, which is notoriously hard to find for directory assistance. My only criticism is that it doesn't auto-connect you like some of the directory services do. But hey, I'm thrifty enough to dial the numbers myself to save a few bucks.

July 19, 2006

Picture-Based Computer Manuals Free

Are you a visual learner? Does the thought of a text-heavy computer manual leave you wanting? Then check out In Pictures, a publisher of computer manuals which go heavy on the screen shots. And until August 1st, they are absolutely free to download.

Manuals are available in the following categories:

  • computer basics
  • microsoft office
  • web layout
  • web graphics
  • web programming

Source: Research Buzz

May 31, 2006

Create a Graph

From InterAlia:

Here's another extension of the Web 2.0-type Office products we've seen a lot of lately -- Create a Graph is a product of the National Center for Education Statistics -- so it's for kids and students, but that doesn't mean we can't use it, too. You can create 2-D, 3-D, or drop-shadow graphs, and you can export them to PDF, JPG, or other image formats. Just fill in the blanks with your data, and you're off.

May 16, 2006

Turn Web page into a PDF Document

HTML2PDF is a nifty little tool that converts any HTML webpage into a PDF document. See today's WisBlawg in PDF for example.

I can imagine a few of uses for this tool: 1) To digitally archive a web page as it exists today; or 2) to capture a web page for an off-line presentation; 3) to get a clean print for those pages that don't print correctly from your browser. Any other ideas?

Source: LibrarianInBlack