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E-Mail and the IQ

Grumpy folks like me are always complaining about how the kids aren’t learning anything in school these days. That may or may not be true, but it turns out there’s another culprit: Blackberries.

According to a recent study, some psychologists have found that sending text messages results in a temporary decline in IQ of up to 10 points. This is on par with the effects of sleep deprivation, and much worse than using marijuana. The researchers labelled the effect “infomania”.

Symptoms of infomania include lost productivity, an inability to concentrate, and rudeness in the workplace. As far as I . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Google App Engine

Google’s brand new App Engine allows developers to write (in Python only, at the moment), store and run programs using Google’s application environment. This is no longer just parking documents in the clouds but sky writing — for those who can fly, at least. Speaking of which, you can see how it’s done by looking at a (slow-loading) video of the coding process under App Engine on YouTube. For a while, it’s a kick to see this kid just typing out code as fast as you or I might tap out a simple declarative sentence in English.

At the moment . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

Europe Warns Search Giants Re Privacy

According to the BBC News online:

Search engines should delete personal data held about their users within six months, a European Commission advisory body on data protection has said.

The recommendation is likely to be accepted by the European Commission and could lead to a clash with search giants like Google, Yahoo and MSN.

Google and Yahoo anonymise user data after 18 months, while MSN does the same after 13 months.

The report from the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party doesn’t seem to be available online yet. As usual, however, the BBC story will give you a good . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law


The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School is celebrating its 10th year. Wow! They have been holding a series of events including distinguished speakers, book releases and the like, including the talk by Clay Shirky we previously noted. The whole thing culminates with “The Future of the Internet” conference on May 15 & 16, 2008. There will also be a gala the evening of May 16th. The Agenda looks stellar. . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Substantive Law

The Friday Fillip

…two days late.

And about a half important thing: the semicolon. It seems that there’s agony in some quarters again about the fate of the least celebrated member of the punctuation family this side of the interrobang. Semicolons (which seems an unfair name because it’s more than just half a colon: there’s a whole virgule in there too!) are either liked (can’t say loved) or hated (can say loathed). I’m solidly on the “like” side, finding them quite useful for joining two related thoughts that are somehow too hefty to be married by a mere comma but not sufficiently . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Ted Tells Us How – Updated

Ted Tjaden‘s excellent online guide on LLRX to doing legal research in Canada has been updated. The sub-heads are as follows:

Props to Ted. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research

A Major-League Approach to New Lawyer Recruitment

Now that baseball season is (finally) with us again, I’d like you to meet Kevin Ahrens. He’s not a lawyer, judge or law professor – he’s a 19-year-old from Houston who has foregone college to start a career as a professional baseball player. Last June, the Toronto Blue Jays chose him with their first-round pick in major-league baseball’s annual amateur draft (he was the 16th overall selection).

Kevin plays shortstop and has been a very productive hitter throughout his amateur career, which consists of three all-district and two all-state selections during his time at high school. He stands 6’2″, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law

Open Source Alternatives

I was searching for a free Visio-like product today and luckily came across this great website that lists open source software alternatives to commercial products:

The site allows you to browse through various software categories and compare pros and cons of both commercial products and open source software.

The editor of this site, Anders Ingeman Rasmussen, boldly states in a sort of fortune cookie way: If you want success, open source is the way to go.

Who knew the answer was so simple… . . . [more]

Posted in: Technology

No April Fools

On April 1st, 2008, a couple of significant pieces of legislation came into effect in Nova Scotia, no foolin’. Firstly, Nova Scotia became the first jurisdiction in the country to ban smoking in vehicles when children are present. More specifically, by Chapter 54 of S.N.S. 2007 amending S.N.S. 2002, c.12

1. Section 5 of Chapter 12 of the Acts of 2002, the Smoke-free Places Act, as amended by Chapter 59 of the Acts of 2005, is further amended by adding immediately after subsection (2) the following subsection:
(2A) No person shall smoke in a motor vehicle when any person under

. . . [more]
Posted in: Miscellaneous

Court of Appeal Videos… Writers’ Strike?

The Ontario Court of Appeal has gone off the air. Video coverage of certain appeals, which started last September (see Ontario Court of Appeal is Webcasting on Slaw) has apparently stopped and, more’s the pity, the archive of past hearings has gone. There’s nothing on the webcasting page now except the promises you have to make to get admitted to the screening room.

Watching a court of appeal in action is hardly up there with a viewing of the Sopranos or Six Feet Under, but it has its own attractions, and it would be a shame if the project was . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Publishing, Substantive Law

University of Toronto Symposium – Video Gaming: Technical, Social and Legal Dimensions

The first video gaming research symposium at the University of Toronto will be taking place as follows:

Tuesday May 13th 2008
8 am – 4 pm

40 St. George Street
Bahen Centre for Information and Technology
University of Toronto
Room 1190

Video gaming incorporates and impacts cutting edge research in the fields of computer science, engineering, sociology, management and law. We are delighted to present a broad array of research projects that are representative of the breadth of work underway at the University of Toronto.

The presentations will focus on the technical aspects of video game design and then consider

. . . [more]
Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Substantive Law, Technology

Creating an RSS Feed From CanLII Search Results

I’d like to thank Dominic Jaar for firing up this new screencast on tracking new decisions on CanLII using RSS. The website Dominic uses is called Feedity. A great tool BTW…

I wrote a post back in 1996 on how to scrape cases using Feedtier, the web-predecessor to Feedity. Same software, same technique. But this time you get a great full size movie on how to do it!

Nice work Dominic! . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous