Archive for the ‘Tech Stuff’ Category

From today’s NY Times:

“How did such a nerdy profession become cool — aside
from the fact that a certain amount of nerdiness is now cool? Many young
librarians and library professors said that the work is no longer just about
books but also about organizing and connecting people with information,
including music and movies.”

 
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/08/fashion/08librarian.html

 

 

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 I spend a fair amount of time with lawyers, law students, paralegals, and others involved in the legal profession.  I used to think that the aversion to technology that is widespread throughout the law was an age thing, but I’ve come to realize that it runs deeper than that.

As someone who is fairly comfortable with technology, I admit that I have a hard time understanding when others seem to have such difficulty and fear with things that seem to me to be almost second nature.  When you try to explain to someone that in the year 2007 you shouldn’t still be keeping a typewriter around “just in case” and that it sends a bad message to both clients and prospective employees, they look at you like you have two heads.

This study does a much better job than I ever could in explaining the issue:

The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog: Lawyers Want Technology Training

I was very sorry to read tonight about the demise of another great tool that I use as part of my research arsenal on a daily basis.  The Israeli company Netsnippets announced on their website that they are going out of business, although apparently they will still be providing technical support via e-mail to current users.

I guess we should just come to expect this type of thing in the Internet age, but this marks the second time in less than a year that a tool that I had come to use daily is no longer available.  Last year Microsoft killed Onfolio ( oh wait, they “merged” it with Windows Live) and now no more Netsnippets.

The pursuit of the perfect research tool continues…

The geek in me thinks this is unbelievably cool. The lawyer in me sees this as a full employment act for litigators. 😉

Xerox Seeks Erasable Form of Paper for Copiers – New York Times

The printed information on the document “disappears” within 16 hours.
The documents can be reused more quickly by simply placing them in the
copier paper tray. The researchers said that individual pieces of paper
had been printed on up to 50 times, and the only current limit in the
process appears to be paper life.

I wonder what Dennis Kennedy, tech lawyer extraordinaire, fellow Springsteen fan, and author of the first blog I ever subscribed to via RSS thinks about this?

Hmmm…not quite sure what to think about this one yet.

On the one hand, I’m a big fan of the idea put forward by James Surowiecki in his great book The Wisdom of Crowds, which argues that the collective is smarter than any one individual.

On the other hand, I run a business that provides paid research services, and am somewhat concerned what this development might say about the willingness of people to pay for quality information and answers.

Google Is Shutting Down Answer Service – New York Times

Google said today that it would shut down Google Answers, a service that allows users to pose a question to a panel of researchers and pay for a helpful answer.

The service, which started about four years ago, failed to gain much
traction with users, especially when compared to a rival service
offered by Yahoo, which is free.

“It was not one of our most popular products,” said Sunny Gettinger, a Google spokeswoman.

Thanks to the folks at ImageChef!

I’m consistently amazed at the amount of free resources available on the ‘net.

Books are my favorite things, and librarians are some of my favorite people (which is why I hope to be joining their ranks soon…wish me luck!) So I seem to read quite a few articles like this one from today’s Boston Globe about how libraries are becoming more like Starbucks, and less like the more traditional library of my college days.

But is it really an either/or proposition? I found this statistic about library use at UMass most interesting:

With 149,859 people walking into the library last month, use is up 27
percent over October 2005. More students are taking out books as well.
Circulation as of June 30, the end of the most recent fiscal year, was
up 84 percent to 435,524 from the same time the year before.

Coffee’s on, dusty books are out at UMass library – The Boston Globe

Thanks to Sabrina Pacifici of the always extraordinary beSpacific blog for the heads up on the article!

 Having recently upgraded my old 30 gig iPod to the new and improved 80 gig model (thank you Target!) I had no plans to purchase a Zune anytime in the near future. For those folks who are thinking about  adding a Zune  to their holiday wish list, you might want to read  the follwoing review from  today’s Chicago Sun-Times:

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Andy Ihnatko :: Avoid the loony Zune

My favorite quote:

Take the Zune’s one unique and potentially ginchy feature: Wi-Fi.
You see this printed on the box and you immediately think “Cool. So I
can sync files from my desktop library without having to plug in a USB
cable, right? Maybe even download new content directly to the device
from the Internet?”

Typical, selfish user: How does your convenience help make money for Universal? No wonder Doug despises you.

No, the Zune’s sole wireless feature is “squirting” — I know, I
know, it’s Microsoft’s term, not mine — music and pictures to any
other Zune device within direct Wi-Fi range. Even if the track is
inherently free (like a podcast) the Zune wraps it in a DRM scheme that
causes the track to self-destruct after three days or three plays,
whichever comes first.

While my students constantly assure me that “nobody reads e-mail” (preferring instead to rely on instant messaging and texting for their conversations) the amount of focus given to e-mail and its proper usage continues. From today’s NY Times:

‘Yours Truly,’ the E-Variations

What’s in an e-mail sign-off? A lot, apparently. Those final few
words above your name are where relationships and hierarchies are
established, and where what is written in the body of the message can
be clarified or undermined. In the days before electronic
communication, the formalities of a letter, either business or
personal, were taught to every third-grader; sign-offs — from
“Sincerely” to “Yours truly” to “Love” — came to mind without much
effort.

But e-mail is a casual medium, and its conventions are
scarcely a decade old. They are still evolving, often awkwardly. It is
common for business messages to appear entirely in lower case, and many
rapid-fire correspondences evolve from formal to intimate in a few
back-and-forths.

Although salutations that begin messages can
be tricky — there is a world of difference, it seems, between a “Hi,” a
“Hello” and a “Dear” — the sign-off is the place where many writers
attempt to express themselves, even when expressing personality, as in
business correspondence, is not always welcome.

Thanks to the NY Times for this heads up:

Fans frustrated by the lack of hockey telecasts and highlights
available on television have one more reason to turn to the Internet.

The
search engine Google has joined with the N.H.L. to add full-length
games (without the stoppages and advertisements) to its inventory of
downloadable videos. It is an unusual arrangement in North American
sports, and a smart move for a league long desperate for attention in
the United States.

The direct link to the download site can be found here.