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Cola Spills on Laptop Keyboards – What to Do

Although not directly related to legal research, this post is related to technology and a phenomena I am surprised, in retrospect, did not happen to me earlier. Last week, I spilled a glass of cola on my keyboard and sort of panicked. Set out below is what I learned after the fact that I should have done in response to the spill. In case this information might benefit someone else, read on if interested. . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

What’s on Your Home Page?

What’s on your browser’s home page? I use a customized page that resides on my hard drive that has the following major links: case law, legislation, books (catalogues), search engines/reference tools, government, news, and international. There are also a number of frequently-accessed links, including links into library catalogues, journal indices, the commercial database login pages, the Oxford English Dictionary (via U of Toronto’s e-resources, password required), and CNN, CBC and BBC.

I imagine many lawyers make their law firm’s intranet their browser’s home page; if not, I recommend customizing your own. It is way more convenient than using “bookmarks” or . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

False Information Is So Much More Fun Than True

Looking for material on negotiating deals and contracts, I stumbled on a talk of that name broadcast as one of The Little Gray Book Lectures: Lit.Gr.Bk.20050202 available at http://www.littlegraybooks.com/hear.html

The talk is massively entertaining though it won’t tell you anything about contracts.

Hear his 700 names for a hobo on your iPod: http://www.areasofmyexpertise.com/hoboes.html

John Hodgman, the creator of the series and a keen blogger has just published “The most important book in human history” (the author announces modestly).

Why should an almanac be true? . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Current Awareness Angst

A recent paper part of the Ontario Reports contained a new practice direction – correction – contained a brief summary of a practice direction along with directions to a website for more complete information. While lawyers are certainly used to accessing information on the web (SEDAR and eLaws are obvious examples), I had thought that there were certain information flows which were immune from “webinization”. I may have been wrong.

What is the best balance between “paper” and “electronic”? Electronic delivery of information is becoming more and more popular. With the daily flood of email, however, email notification of new . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Why Should Lawyers Care About Blogs

Nice easy Powerpoint by Ron Friedmann at
http://www.prismlegal.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=94 which would explain to anyone what the phenomenon is about, and why lawyers should care.

I’m planning to devote my next Ontario Bar Association column on The Lawyer’s Desktop to the three magic words, Blogs, Wikis, and RSSs.

Anyone got any recommendations for sources? . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

PubSub Community Lists

PubSub, using their Linkranks method of analysis, has just opened up a series of community lists to help gauge popularity within different blogging communities.

And probably thanks to Steven Cohen, two of the first lists available are The Librarian List and The Law List. Steven is the editor for the Librarian list, and Kevin O’Keefe for the Law List.

I don’t see Slaw on either list yet, but all things in good time I suppose. :-) . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Australian Colonial Project

I would like to draw attention to a fascinating and very useful online resource that most Canadians, at least, are not aware of. It’s a project run for a number of years now by Professor Bruce Kercher at Macquarie University in New South Wales. The project collects, and makes available online (via AustLII or Professor Kercher’s website) hundreds of decisions, plus related documentation from the early days of the Australian colonies. These decisions are culled mainly from newspaper files and hitherto unpublished records, such as those kept in the offices of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

The value . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

The Reference Libraries of Toronto

What do the Great Library, the Legislative Library, the Toronto Star Library, Hydro Library and the County of York Law Library have in common? Well they were once open to all.

By serendipity, in searching for sources on the Riddell Collection at the Great Library, I stumbled upon a 78 year old overview of the libraries of Toronto, which is quite fascinating in the extent to which private collections were prepared to welcome patrons. See the Annual Programme for the SLA in 1927 at pages 13-20: http://www.sla.org/speciallibraries/issn00386723v18n5.pdf

I haven’t seen a more recent listing. Can anyone provide one? . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Commercial vs. Free Databases

I’d like everyone’s feedback on an issue that arises from time to time when I talk with other research lawyers in Calgary. Until recently, it was our view that the free websites (eg. CanLII) were not very useful; their search capabilities were clumsy, their coverage was limited, and/or the scope and coverage of the database was not known. While it is likely the free databases of legal materials are improving, it is my impression, and my practice, to use the commercial databases for most of my comprehensive legal research. I would like to know what others are doing in their . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Open Access and Disintermediation

Michael Geist’s Law Bytes column in today’s Toronto Star [freely available version] tells of Canadian national science advisor Dr. Arthur Carty who argued that scientific success increasingly depends upon fostering a “culture of sharing” based on open access models of communication that leverage the Internet to disseminate research quickly and freely to all. Michael echoed my mantra that while researchers rarely receive compensation for their contributions, publishers have enjoyed a financial windfall by charging thousands of dollars for journals filled with the free content generated with the financial support of the public purse through millions of dollars in . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

What Is a Search Engine?

What is a Search Engine?

Three pieces in the last 24 hours have left me wondering about whether what we think of as a tool for retrieving information might not be much more than that.

They concern the extension of platforms, the ability of distributed information to enable competitive comparisons, and the potential of community-based searching – think about a search engine that knows the preferred sources of legal researchers.

This morning’s RoB has a piece from the Wall Street Journal on how Google results can now be texted to a mobile phone. An open link to the facts behind . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous