Tech Ramble

I’ve got a bunch of tech sites and features to talk about that range from the trivial to the not so trivial. Since they’re either minor or linked to others in some way, I thought I’d lay them all out briefly here in one post. So you know what’s coming, here’s a kind of table of contents:

TinyPaste | Sqworl | Laconica | Two Bits | SiSU | Lex Mercatoria

1. TinyPaste is the simplest of sites and web apps: It offers you a text entry box where you can paste your text (natch) and a “submit” button. What you get in return is a short URL that will lead a user to the text you entered. I’ve entered the text of this post up to this point for you to see how it works: As you’ll see if you follow the link, you can copy the text to your clipboard and download a text file. Handy.

2. Sqworl does two things: it records URLs you send it and provides a single URL for you to pass along to others, and it offers those others a thumbnail of the URLs you’ve collected. I’ve created a mini collection of three URLs to demonstrate: (The third URL in my collection is for the site that Sqworl uses to create thumbnails, which in itself might be useful to some.) This could be useful — but is loading slowly at the moment.

3. Laconica is of a different order: it’s an open source microblogging tool. I mention it here because it strikes me that law firms might like to enable microblogging for their employees as an in-house matter, but wouldn’t want to trust Twitter with their tweets. Running Laconica on their own servers could let them have a service within their control. To see a public microblogging site that uses this tool, check out (Laconica is so named, of course, because of the taciturn folks in that part of ancient Sparta, who, when Philip of Macedon told them, “If I enter Laconia, I will raze Sparta,” replied laconically, “If.”)

4. Two Bits is different yet again. It’s a book by Christopher M. Kelty, anthropology prof at UCLA that:

investigates the history and cultural significance of Free Software, revealing the people and practices that have transformed not only software, but also music, film, science, and education.

. Published in 2008, the book is available under a Creative Commons license in a wide variety of formats, including (yikes!) a single page HTML file suitable for reading on your phone.

5. SiSU stands for Structured Information, Serialized Units and so far as I can tell is markup language that, together with a converter, enables the transformation of texts into any of a variety of formats. Thus, for example, Kelty’s Two Bits (which explains how I got here), which has been SiSU’d, so to speak, can be had as an HTML document, a PDF document in either landscape or portrait, or in open document text format (ODT); as well SiSU generated an index of every word, with links to the numbered paragraphs in the document where they occur. (This last feature is particularly appealing, I think.). I confess that I find the explanation of SiSU well-nigh impenetrable; but I’m sure that it would yield to a bit of study, and that it might prove really useful. (Would CanLII be interested?)

6. Lex Mercatoria is a site that uses SiSU because it was started by the man who invented the markup language. It is:

dedicated to the provision of information on international commercial law with subsidiary interests in commerce and (mostly open standard) Net and information technologies that may be of interest to law academics and professionals worldwide.

(I find it odd that it hasn’t been mentioned on Slaw before now.) All of the documents — treaties, case reports, etc. — are made available in lots of formats, thanks to SiSU. Interesting.


  1. In the HTML, the Lex Mercatoria link above has the link for this post in front of it, which causes an error.

  2. Thanks, David. I’ve fixed it.

  3. Hey, Caleb from here. I wanted to mention I improved the way we handle our thumbnails, so Sqworl is much faster now. Thanks for checking it out!