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Hello Helloogle

According to the Observer:

Google is on the move. The internet giant has held talks with Orange, the mobile phone operator, about a multi-billion-dollar partnership to create a ‘Google phone’ which makes it easy to search the web wherever you are.

Apparently Orange is interested in Google’s ability to compress data and, so, to speed up surfing from a phone. Google, of course, is interested in world domination. But don’t hold the phone: seems nothing’s going to happen before 2008. And who knows when it might get into North America’s wretched cell phone network technology anyway. . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

The Sounds of Slaw

Text-to-voice programs are becoming better and better at reproducing the sounds of natural speech. Their voices have almost lost that boring robo monotony they used to have and they’ve become a bit more responsive to the clues that punctuation offers about rhythms. I thought it might be fun to see — hear! — how an entry in Slaw would sound if read, well, automatically.

Because I wanted to try out a number of different voices, I used the free demo function of Cepstral Text-to-Speech [all platforms supported], rather than buying (at US$30 a pop) any particular “speaker” just now. That . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

The Friday Fillip

Although I gather it’s been out for quite a while, I only recently downloaded SketchUp. It’s a 3-D drawing program now part of Google’s stable that is simply phenomenal. I can’t draw for beans, and if you start with me about horizon lines and all that high-tech art talk I leave the room and doodle. But with SketchUp you can create buildings, you can construct rooms full of furniture, you can represent actual structures and attach them to Google Earth’s map of everything.

The program is very deep — even the free version — and it’s going to take . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Lucky 13

This, taken from an Access Copyright email:

To allow for the creation of new numbers, the ISBN standard will be changing from a 10 to a 13-digit number effective January 1, 2007. Books published after January 1, 2007 will only be issued with 13-digit ISBNs (please note that ISSNs are not affected). It is expected that the book industry will begin conducting business transactions with 13-digit ISBNs only, however to support pre-2007 publications, 10-digit ISBNs are convertible to 13-digit ISBNs.

There’s a good explanatory piece about ISBNs, by the way, on Wikipedia. Seems they were invented by W.H.Smith booksellers . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Santa in the Courts

Even though it is rather green in Halifax, (we had a very seasonal holiday fog last night, I’m not sure if it was a salty fog), we are indeed heading down the homestretch towards the arrival of St. Nick. Wanting to inject a little seasonal spirit into Slaw I undertook a cursory survey to see how Santa has done in Canadian courts. To be honest, there wasn’t a lot of good material, HOWEVER, I did find one case which I present to you now:
Community Funding Corp. v. Newfoundland (Department of Government Services and Lands), 2004 NLTD . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Thinkature

Check out Thinkature (unhappy name), the latest web app making use of Ajax the DOM and all those guys. It’s a collaboration/doodling/mindmapping application that’s free and easy to use. Sure, the big firms have Lotus Sametime or this or that high-end collaboration tool; but for the average Jane-in-practice this could be a very very handy thing. You can put up text boxes, link them with arrows, move them around (arrows staying connected), put up images, draw lines, invite others to log in, chat both with text and voice, and then print the result or leave it on Thinkature until you . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Those Wacky Parliamentarians

My colleague Vanessa Olley showed me this one. The Federal Accountability Act, S. C. 2006, c. 9 (Bill 2, 2006), which received Royal Assent on December 12, 2006, includes this as one of its coming into force provisions:

COMING INTO FORCE

314. (1) Sections 306 and 307 come into
force on a day or days to be fixed by order of
the Governor in Council.

(2) Notwithstanding subsection 114(4) of
the Canada Pension Plan, section 312 comes
into force on the day on which this Act is
assented to, but that section does not apply in
respect of the

. . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

“How to Build a Student for the 21st Century”

Keep up your information literacy efforts…

Time Magazine’s article “How to Bring US Schools Out of the 20th Century” (Dec. 18, 2006) highlights ideas that librarians have been stressing for a while now. Influenced by the upcoming release of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce’s plan for reevaluating American education from elementary school to university/college, this article discusses 21st century skills students should be taught in school to be successful in today’s global economy. “Becoming smarter about new sources of information” is one of those skills. Since today’s students are surrounded by blogs, podcasts, Google, . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Google Patents Search

Google has launched a patents search. Essentially “second searching” the U.S. patent base, it might nonetheless be more user-friendly for those who are not IP experts, and it certainly can amuse the rest of us. When you go to the site, you’ll see five pictures or sketches from five different patents chosen at random; hit refresh and everything moves down one place to welcome a new image — fun for when things are very very slow, perhaps.

Canadian patents can be searched at the Canadian Patents Database at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office website.

  . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Newspaper Series on Threats to Montreal Crown Prosecutors

The Montreal daily La Presse has a series of articles today about the security (or lack of security) for Crown prosecutors in Montreal and elsewhere in the province of Quebec.

Personal note: my baby sister Annabelle recently worked for the Crown at the central Palais de Justice de Montréal.

The intimidation tactics include being photographed inside the Courthouse by criminal gang members and their supporters, being followed in parking lots, and bomb threats.

See:

  • Bureaux non sécuritaires (Unsafe offices): “Le responsable de la sécurité des procureurs au ministère de la Justice, Me Sabin Ouellet, reconnaît le problème. «Bien oui, c’est
  • . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Exemptions to the U.S. DMCA

Sharon Wang, Reference Librarian at Osgoode Hall Law School, points us to this from Mondaq:

Effective November 27, 2006, the Librarian of Congress announced the adoption of six exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (“DMCA”) anti-circumvention provision, the exemptions to apply for the next three years. The announcement renewed three exemptions granted in prior rulemakings: computer programs protected by obsolete dongles; computer programs and video games distributed in obsolete formats; and eBooks with disabled read-aloud functions. In addition, three new classes of works received exemptions: audiovisual works in a university film archive; firmware on mobile telephone handsets; and

. . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

QP LegalEze RSS

QP LegalEze, the “web-based subscription service providing access to the current laws of British Columbia”, has retooled their website, and launched its collection of RSS Feeds. Here’s what’s available:

Congratulations to everyone at QP, and thanks to Ken O’Connor for giving me a heads up. Next up, we want the changing text delivered by RSS, paragraph by paragraph! Oh well, I suppose I should be happy for small blessings. :-) . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous