After an extended hiatus--of, oh, about 3 years--I finally made it back to the blog. Did I miss anything? More importantly (to me, at least), did anyone miss me? To answer my own questions: Well, yeah...and probably not. In any event, please bear with me while I get this thing cranked up again.
Ciao for now...
I didn't really intend to be away for a whole week; it just happened that way. When your life is a juggling act (and whose isn't?), and the balls you've been tossing suddenly start hitting you on the head, it's time to reassess priorities. I've been busy tending to prior personal commitments (you know, things like my marriage, job, health, and family), but will hopefully be back on the blogging track soon.Just on the off-chance that someone in the blogosphere actually missed me . . .
- From M. Sean Fosmier: "Please visit our Courts.net site, where all web sites for all courts are linked, and where we provide information on electronic filing issues and privacy issues." This site bills itself as the "nation's court directory," and there's lots of useful information here about the courts and electronic filing.
- From Carolyn Elefant, of MyShingle.com: "Wendy Leibowitz, a lawyer and journalist follows electronic filing projects which also generally has information on electronic access." I consider this site, WendyTech, a real find. Her article, "E-Filing Projects in the U.S.," is subdivided by state and provides summaries of the status of e-filing in the various state courts. What, no Louisiana?! (making mental note to submit info, such that it is) Wendy aptly cautions, however, that "[c]ompiling a list of electronic filing projects is like painting a moving train. Assume the list below is outdated." While some of the information provided is undoubtedly outdated (the last updates I saw were posted in April 2002), it'll be a good resource for my project.
- Carolyn Elefant also referred me to the National Center for State Courts' website, which bills itself as "an information clearinghouse on the topic of public access to court records and the data privacy issues that arise as courts improve and expand their court information systems and increase electronic access to court information." This site provides both official and unofficial information for federal and state courts, subdivided by state. Another great resource.
Here is another good Bates-numbering macro, from Karen Gibson's WordPerfect 8 Suite MIS Information. This one automatically uses Avery Return Address Labels 5267, and it's quite flexible. When you play the macro, a series of dialog boxes appear, where you choose such things as font and font size, leading zeros or no leading zeros (nice), across or down labels (this didn't seem to work for me), additional text to appear above Bates number (such as "Subject to Protective Order"), alphanumeric prefix, and starting and ending values.Of course, whenever possible, I choose to Bates-number imaged documents with StampPDF Plug-In for Adobe Acrobat 5.0, rather than using stick-on labels (which are not all that much fun or easy to apply). However, because there will be times when this will not be possible or feasible, for one reason or another (for example, in the instance of over-sized documents), you will want to have a Bates-numbering label macro handy.
I recently worked on a civil litigation matter pending in the Superior Court of Maricopa County, Arizona. I was amazed at the free information available on the court's website. For example, you can search the civil litigation index* and obtain case information, party information, the docket sheet, the case calendar, and a listing of any judgments entered. Additionally, you can access minute entries online in PDF format. Isn't it time for the Louisiana Clerks of Court to give the public this type of free access? Why should we have to call the Clerk of Court's Office and have someone else look up the information on a computer and relay it verbally. What a waste of taxpayer money! One of my least favorite tasks as a paralegal is calling a Clerk of Court's office for information from the record (such as whether service has been effected, an answer filed, etc.). Besides having to spell my name, my boss' name, the parties' names, the information I've gotten hasn't always proved accurate (inevitably due to some type of miscommunication on one of our parts).
So, I decided to do some quick research to find out the status of online access (free or paid) throughout our Louisiana District Courts. (I used the Lafayette Parish Clerk of Court's list of Louisiana Clerks of Court to find links to the Louisiana District Court Clerks with websites.) Here is what I found:
- The East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court offers remote access by paid subscription here (software required).
- The Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court offers free online access to its Docket Calendar (only) here. However, see "The Clerk of Court's 7-Point Plan for Reform" for what's in store for the future technologically.
- The Clerk of Court of the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans offers remote access by paid subscription here (software required).
- The Tangipahoa Parish Clerk of Court's site states that it offers internet access to its records by paid subscription here, however, attempts to access the registration process and the log-in process both returned errors. Obviously, the site is under construction, but looks promising. There's also a notice that the only subscription available "until further notice" is a free trial membership. So, if you have cases pending in Tangipahoa Parish, you might want to check back and sign up for that free trial subscription.
I'm back from my quickie trip to Florida, where I trained to become a CaseMap Certified Trainer. (As it turns out, I will have to take a test, via telephone, in the next couple of weeks before I will actually be "certified.") I'd never been behind the doors of a *real* software company, so it was really neat from that aspect alone. I received a very warm welcome from the great folks at CaseSoft, and I got to meet several of the people I've heard about, exchanged e-mail with, and talked to over the past couple of years, including Jennifer, Janine, Haans, and Danielle. I was particularly impressed that Greg Krehel, CEO and one of the founders of CaseSoft, took the time to visit with me and listen to what I had to say about his products -- very cool!
The one-on-one training was great. I got all of my questions answered, and learned about some features I haven't been but should be using. I learned a bit more about the upcoming release of CaseMap 4.5 that I wrote about here, featuring the new CaseMap Send to Adobe Plug-In. With this new release, which is due out in about a month, Adobe Acroabat users will have much more flexibility in sending links to imaged PDF documents to CaseMap. As I understand it, instead of dropping the link directly to a fact in the Facts database, a dialog box will pop up, from which you can direct the link to drop into any of the databases (Fact, Object, Research, or Issue). How cool is that?
As far as I'm concerned, if you're a litigator and you're not using CaseSoft's products -- CaseMap (case management), NoteMap (outlining tool), TextMap (transcript management utility for CaseMap), and TimeMap (timelines) -- you're missing the boat. And if you're up against an adversary that does, well, you've got your work cut out for you. These products are not only extremely well thought-out and designed, they're fairly user-friendly and intuitive. And CaseSoft's Customer Support is the best of any software company's that I've dealt with. So, if you have a problem, you can always reach a live person to walk you through it. I really like their licensing, too, because it not only registers the product to the person but allows each person to register the product for personal use on up to 3 PCs (home, office, and notebook).You can get a free CaseSoft Starter Kit here, which includes a CD with full-featured trial copies of the latest versions of CaseMap, TimeMap, NoteMap and TextMap.
Well, I'm on the road again. This time, I'm on my way to the offices of CaseSoft, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, for a one-day, one-on-one training session, after which I will be a CaseMap Certified Trainer. Of all things, this opportunity grew out of my participation in the Yahoo! CaseMap User's Group over the past year or so. CaseSoft is waiving its normal fee in order to place a CM Certified Trainer in my firm, which has generously allowed me the time off and is picking up the expenses (thanks, Ernie!). Needless to say, I'm thrilled at the opportunity, both to meet the great people at CaseSoft and to become a real CaseMap guru.So, I'll be away for a couple of days again. Could someone please leave a light on for me? Thanks!
Rick Klau wants to know, ". . . where are the other professional bloggers? How about investment bankers? Accountants? Consultants? There are more than 200 lawyers and associated law-types (paralegals, law librarians). That's a non-trivial number. But where are the other professions? I'd be happy to be wrong, by the way. Tell me if there are pockets of these professionals out there." [tins ::: Rick Klau's weblog]
I've been pondering this very question lately, but pretty much concluded that the *others* must be out there somewhere, I just don't know about them. So, it'll be interesting to see if Rick finds any "pockets of professionals." Of course, I have my own theories (you know, the thoughts I think to entertain myself when I should be doing important stuff, like, say, packing for a trip). Like, perhaps it's just that blogging hasn't quite gone mainstream yet, and the other professions will catch up in (over)due time. But maybe it's more than that.
Information -- not just information, but the most current information -- is obviously vital to the practice of law. But, isn't that true of other professions -- accountants, insurance agents, financial consultants? So, what's different about lawyers that makes them want to be on the leading edge in the blogosphere? To me (imho), it's their real passion for the law combined with amazing knowledge (of the law, current events), advanced education, myriad expertises (in the law, technology, life), sardonic thoughts, humor, and overall goodwill. After all, one must be passionate about the law to practice law all day and simultaneously maintain a daily blawg. Besides, lawyers love citations and sources of authority (links) and are used to dealing with detailed references and advanced writing on a daily basis. It's a good fit. (Somehow, I just can't picture, say, an accountant's blog having the kind of broad audience some of the popular blawgs have. I mean, we tune in to our favorite cable news talking heads every evening to see interviews and reports by lawyers, because they're so interesting and the stuff they say is so relevant.)Nope, I don't know a thing about the existence of blogs for other professions. (I couldn't readily find a-one.) But it seems like blogs and lawyering go hand-in-glove and are here to stay. And I'm just happy to be riding the wave.Addendum: Thanks to Rick for the nod to paralegal blogs. (How about that, Larry?)
"ABA article online. Jason Krause at the ABAJournal.com has an article on the evolution of internet legal research, with quotes by yours truly, Steven Cohen of Library Stuff, and Rory Perry. Check it out." [Inter Alia] This article is a must-read for paralegals. It's chockful of tips and links for doing such things as background checks and finding obscure information on the web, for free or for a nominal fee. One tip that I'm going to start using immediately is a service that monitor web pages for changes and reports them to you via e-mail (oh, so that's how those e-mail newsletters do it!). WatchThatPage is recommended, and does this for free. With a service like this to complement my subscriptions to RSS feeds in Radio UserLand's News Aggregator, I ought have all of the bases covered.
General research sites recommended in the article:
I wonder how many blog widow(er)s there are out there, and what they'd have to say if asked their opinions about blogging. I've been lucky so far, because my husband Brent has been very supportive and understanding about this whole blogging thing. (That is, aside from nightly attempts to lure me away from the blogosphere with reruns of favorite movies, like Pushing Tin and Best in Show.)
Well, this weekend, it's Revenge of the Blog Widower -- Brent is dragging me off to New Orleans to attend the decadent display known as the M.O.M.'s Ball (Krewe of Mystic Orphans and Misfits). Although I'm from New Orleans, I'd never even heard of the M.O.M.'s Ball until I met Brent (I've led such a sheltered life). Anyway, the M.O.M.'s Ball takes place tonight at Mardi Gras World in Algiers, where I grew up, and it's shrouded in secrecy. What is widely known is, the Radiators jam all night, and the party-goers are a site to be seen, with decadence and debauchery on full display. (I just learned the secret theme of this year's ball from the Radiators' website.) Attendance is by invitation only, and guests are required to be in full costume!Yup. Paybacks are hell. But, then again, I probably would have dressed up like Little Red Riding Hood anyway, for a chance to listen to some live Fishhead Music and party with the Radiators in New Orleans (sorry, Mom and Dad, I had no defense).
An e-mail this week from my sister* about The ALWD Citation Manual made me realize that perhaps more lawyers than I previously thought haven't added this handy citation reference to their libraries. It was first published by the Association of Legal Writing Directors in February 2000, "designed as a 'restatement of citation'" and to "replace" the Bluebook. I just learned that the ALWD CM's second edition came out in December 2002 (I guess I should have read that e-mail from Aspen Publishers, after all, huh?). I highly recommend this reference book (but I'll always keep the Bluebook handy, too). It's spiral-bound, well-organized, and pretty thorough. I especially like the examples and the detail. They tell you stuff like how many spaces to put and where to put them in a citation. See the list of law schools, paralegal education programs, law journals and publications, and courts that have (either fully or partially) adopted it here. Buy the ALWD Citation Manual: A Professional System of Citation, Second Edition, from Aspen Publishers here.*Getting an e-mail from my sister, and particularly an office e-mail from my sister (and nobody even died), is a Big Deal for me. You see, my sister, Barbara Theriot Hodgson, is a super-sharp attorney (licensed to practice in Louisiana, Kansas, and Missouri) with the State of Kansas, Department of Agriculture, who only tolerates technology. This is what she does for the great State of Kansas. Look for a guest post from Barbara in the near future (hint, hint).
"Recommended Site : Word Spy If you like words and their origins, (as librarians and information pro's I hope you do) if a fun time for you is leafing thru the OED, then I recommend going to Word Spy. Word Spy is a web site devoted to recently coined words and phrases, old words that are being used in new ways, and existing words that have enjoyed a recent renaissance. These aren't 'stunt words' or 'sniglets,' but new words and phrases that have appeared in newspapers, magazines, books, press releases, and Web sites....ENJOY!" [kfsource]This is an irresistible site for word lovers. Of the "Top 10 Words" posted today, my favorite is "unread bestseller." Get a free subscription to receive the current Word Spy word each weekday by e-mail here.
"Tech Tools for Lawyers - Recommendations. Franco Castalone of the LawTech blog recommends NoteTab Pro as a replacement for the Windows Notepad, noting that it has "dozens of supercharged features. It doubles as an HTML editor with the use of its Clipbook feature. It allows the user to open numerous text documents for editing, and to define a list of "favorites" for quick opening. " He also praises "The Clipbook as a serious power user's tool. A predefined HTML library can be used to insert paired tags as an HTML document is being edited. The user can also define and use his own Clipbook libraries, to create documents from standard or boilerplate text. NoteTab comes in three flavors -- the Light version is free, the Standard is $10, and the Pro version is $20. " [Ernie the Attorney]This is way cool! I just downloaded the Light version, and it's impressive. It has groups of templates, one of which really caught my eye -- there's a template full of CSS1 styles, selectors, tags, and properties, etc. Since I'm just learning CSS, this is a godsend. For example, you click "text-align," and a pop-up window comes up, prompting you for the value (left, right, center, justify). And it's like that for all of the commands. This program is definitely the catch of the day. Thanks, Ernie!
So, what is "professional autonomy," as it relates to the role of the paralegal, you ask? In my view, this means a paralegal whose daily duties and assignments are independent from the work being performed by the attorney-boss at any given time -- as opposed to the role of the legal secretary (what are we working on, today?). This is not to slight the legal secretary -- not by a longshot. I came up through the ranks as a legal secretary, before paralegals even existed, and I have the utmost respect for their particular knowledge, skills, and talents. What I'm talking about is the experienced paralegal who knows how to manage a case and move it along, with minimal guidance from the attorney. In addition to taking specific assignments from attorneys, the professionally autonomous paralegal makes recommendations for case management (such as documents to be obtained, discovery to be conducted, internal deadlines to be set, etc.), and then sees that those self-designated assignments are carried out.In order for a paralegal to truly achieve "professional autonomy," and maximize firm profits, though, I believe the paralegal must be provided with some type of support staff. This could be as simple as access to a typing pool to assist the paralegal with routine correspondence or time entry, or even a paralegal assistant. I once worked for an insurance defense firm that utilized the paralegal-paralegal assistant method to great effect. Assistants to paralegals were hired fresh out of paralegal school, to train alongside experienced paralegals (PAs billing at a slightly lower rate than paralegals). In time, the PAs advanced to full-fledged paralegal positions, and the cycle continued. I think this is a great solution to the dilution of the profit margins of producers (paralegals) by (a) requiring that they personally send every fax and stamp every envelope, or (b) providing them with support staff (overhead).
All in a Day's Work
Time: 9:35 a.m.
Event: Deposition of adverse party's expert witness, with about 9 parties represented.
Assignment: Review expert's files, produced at the deposition, consisting of approximately 1,000 pages and copy relevant material. Return the originals and the copies to the deposition as soon as possible, to be used for examination of the witness.
How I did it:
- Reviewed and copied from one file at a time, inserting blue pages between documents (for scanning purposes).
- Bates-numbered copied documents (using WordPerfect Bates number macro and address labels). Since I ended up with 524 pages of documents, I knew there wouldn't be time to convert all of the scanned images to PDF and then merge them into one document so that I could use StampPDF to Bates-number them. And, besides, because of time limitations, I really needed to use separator sheets to denote the beginning and end of each document, which wouldn't work with StampPDF (although it probably could, but not in a time crunch).
- Scanned the documents into PaperPort with our Xerox copier/scanner/printer (I could only scan 35 pages at a time, which resulted in about 15 separate scanned images).
- Used the "stack" feature in PaperPort to combine the 15 separate scanned images into one document.
- Printed 2 copies on the Xerox copier/scanner/printer.
Why I Did it This Way: First, I took advantage of the opportunity to get Bates numbers on the documents, which will greatly simplify my life, not to mention literally getting everyone on the same page. It might seem like an extra step to have scanned the documents and printed them, rather than making straight copies, but now I have the documents on my PC, available at a couple of clicks of the mouse. And, in a case with 9 parties, I sit in breathless anticipation of the calls I'm going to get for copies of these documents.
Mission Accomplished: 2:05 p.m. (4-1/2 hours). The originals and 2 sets of documents delivered. The deposition had just reconvened after lunch, and things were moving slow (who woulda thought?). It had taken all morning just to get through the expert's CV. (Time for lunch!)Boss Satisfaction Meter: Full throttle.
Your Blog Neighborhood. I didn't know how to describe this, from The FuzzyBlog!, so here it is, in its entirety (I had to download a Java plug-in before I could try this):
Into Blogging? If so this is Wicked Cool -- Your Blog Neighborhood
Heck ... Its wicked cool even if you aren't. Recommended. [_Go_]
Note: What this is showing you are blogs that you'd probably enjoy reading if you aren't i.e. they are "neighbors" of yours that you might not have been introduced to yet.
Congrats to Veer and the rest of the team on this one. Good job guys.
This is pretty amazing. (I love The FuzzyBlog!)
From [tins ::: Rick Klau's weblog]:
Just noticed that Ernie just went over 100,000 page views at his blog. I believe this settles it: Ernie is the best Swedish/Panamanian lawyer blogger on the planet.
Ernie the Attorney 100,093
Seriously, congratulations Ernie! You continue to impress!
Kudos, Ernie! And thanks to Rick Klau for pointing this out.
"Write on Your Pictures (Without Ink Smudges). PhoTags, a new picture organization program from a company of the same name, allows digital photographers to quickly insert labels and messages within JPEG picture files. By J.d. Biersdorfer." [New York Times: Technology] You can add captions, borders, dates and greetings to digital photos, and then send them by e-mail. The e-mailed photos open like normal JPEG files, with the text displayed on the pictures (and the recipient doesn't have to have the PhoTags software). This seems like a great way to organize digital photos. And it's on sale now for $9.95 (regularly $30). Download a free trial/buy it here.
Utah Bar: Paralegals Can Receive a Cut of Fees. Ernie pointed out this interesting November 1, 2002 article in the ABA Journal eReport, regarding Utah State Bar Ethics Advisory Committee Opinion No. 02-07, which holds that in certain situations Utah lawyers can pay paralegals a fixed percentage of fees. This applies to employee-paralegals, however, and not to paralegals working on an independent-contractor basis, who may only be compensated on a "per task" basis, "totally independent from the lawyer’s relationship with, and compensation from, the client." In this situation, the independent-contractor paralegal is treated like any other third-party vendor of services, such as an expert witness, who is paid for work done, independent of the outcome of the case. The underlying rationale is the “protect[ion of] the lawyer’s professional independence of judgment.”Conversely, because the employee-paralegal is presumed not to be in a position to exert undue influence on the lawyer, fee-sharing is allowed, based upon a percentage of gross or net income provided and not tied to specific cases. In other words, a paralegal may be compensated a fixed percentage of gross income from all cases, but not a fixed percentage based upon the outcome of a specific case.
This doesn't seem to be all that different from Lousiana law. In Louisiana, Rule 5.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct provides, among other things, that a lawyer "may include nonlawyer employees in a compensation or retirement plan, even though the plan is based in whole or in part on a profit-sharing practice of law." I'll have to search the Louisiana Supreme Court Opinions and report back. I've got to get to work. (To be continued and/or updated.)
The world is not what it should be; the right solution to the Iraqi crisis either demands the realism of a soldier or the idealism of a peace activist. Either choice brings danger and sorrow with it: peace means continued repression now, and may well mean a greater war later; war means death and destruction now, and untold unwanted consequences later. At this point, either choice may be plausibly claimed to accelerate WMD proliferation elsewhere in the world. I don't see how anyone can be anything but regretful, anxious, and uncertain about what lies ahead.
Cell Phone Info: You've probably seen the cell phone emergency phone number urban legend e-mail that's been circulating for the past year, about a teenage girl who averts a rapist while driving by dialing #77 on her cell phone to reach the "police." While the gist of the advice -- to store in your cell phone the emergency code numbers of the authorities in the jurisdictions where you travel -- is probably good, as it turns out, cell phone code numbers can vary from state to state. For example, in Louisiana, dial *LSP (*577) from any cell phone to contact the State Police ("to report highway emergency situations, to report drunk drivers, or to request roadside assistance"). See SeniorDrivers.org, for a comprehensive list of nationwide highway emergency numbers, including: Alabama and Mississippi: *HP (*47); Florida: *FHP (*347); and Georgia: *GSP (*477).
And while we're talking cell phones . . . do you ever wonder what to do with your old cell phone after you've upgraded (which I'm itching to do, at present)? How about donating it to a worthy cause? The Charitable Recycling Program is a national organization that will make a donation to your charity of choice for each donated cell phone. A list of the charities represented can be found here and includes St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital (one of my favorites). Motorola's Call to Protect program recycles used wireless phones to help fight domestic violence.And, finally, I remember being told by my Cingular rep that even an unactivated cell phone can be used to dial 911. If that's the case, then there are lots of uses I can think of for old cell phones (that is, if they're kept charged, of course), such as giving them to elderly or needy people for use in emergencies, or stowing one in your camper or boat. I've heard and read the rumor that there's a federal law that requires this, but I'm not so sure. Gold Wing World investigated this with AT&T and published its findings here. Any in-the-know lawyers out there care to clear up the matter?
As I posted earlier, I've been evaluating some of NextUp.com's audio products, including TextAloud MP3, NewsAloud, and WeatherAloud. I really like TextAloud, and I'll probably end up buying it. I get a lot of lengthy e-mailed stories of the inspirational and political type from my Mom, and it's great to be able to listen to them, rather than read them. To me, listening to this type of e-mail is actually much more effective than reading it. Plus, Brent enjoys hearing them read aloud (who knew?), but he would never have read them himself. I even used TextAloud to proofread this blog post (oops -- one typo caught!), which was kind of neat (the eyes aren't what they used to be, ya know, even with readers on). And I can think of a few more reasons to own a program like this. It would be great as a study aid for school, or to study an oral presentation. And, although I doubt I'll be using it to read any e-books, my friend Betty recently asked if I knew of any programs to do just that. Anyway, I have about a week left on my free trial to get totally addicted to this program before I have to plunk down $24.95 to keep it. It's a well thought-out program, very unobtrusive, and easy to operate -- what's not to like?
Although I really like the news aggregator in News Aloud, I'm already getting more news than I can handle through my Radio News Aggregator (and I can still use TextAloud to read those stories, if I so choose). Finally, I thought Brent would really like WeatherAloud, but he gave it the nix. Brent's an avid hunter and fisherman, and thus is constantly in search of the latest weather report. So, I figured he'd really like this. But, he prides himself on being only as technologically aware as absolutely necessary, so I shoud have figured he wouldn't be interested.
"More Louisiana Blog News - Here is another fascinating law site called Naked Ownership - All Things Legal in Louisiana (XML feed available). I am not saying we are going to achieve critical mass in the blawgosphere any time soon, but clearly we are accelerating at an impressive pace." [Ernie the Attorney] This is a welcome new online resource for Louisiana news and law -- I couldn't subscribe to this feed fast enough! And there's even a Louisiana law search page here.
NextUp.com has some amazing audio products, including TextAloud MP3 ($24.95/20-day free trial), NewsAloud (beta release, $19.95/15-day free trial), WeatherAloud ($19.95/15-day free trial), Stocks Aloud ($14.95/15-day free trial), and Groups Aloud for USENET newsgroups (beta release $19.95, later $29.95/15-day free trial). Some of these products can also be purchased in bundles, at a savings.
With TextAloud, you can "convert any text into voice and even to MP3. Listen to email, web pages, eBooks and documents on your computer or portable MP3 player." I'm trying this out; novelty factor aside, I think it might have a useful application for me (at least in theory). It's invoked by simply copying a selection of text. When you press Ctrl-C or select and copy with the mouse, a small window comes up for a few seconds that allows the opportunity to copy the clipboard contents to the speech buffer. A small toolbar then appears, from which you can choose to read the text aloud or copy it to a .wav or MP3 file. (You can set it up to automatically delete text after play.) One of the things I liked immediatley about these products is how unobtrusive yet readily available they are -- I like that in a software program (who doesn't?). NewsAloud really blows me away, with its built-in news aggregator and links to the web stories.
So, in theory, this could help by allowing me to, say, proofread my work (hear my own words) or read my email or snippets from web pages while doing other things, like running a Google search or opening snail-mail. Hooray for multi-tasking! We're a part of an information explosion, and our dilemma is too much information and too little time. Could audio, then, be the way to go? It remains to be seen whether any of these programs have a practical application for me that would warrant the expense, but the idea is definitely intriguing. And, yeah, the speech needs to be a lot better, but I was impressed at how good it was and how many voice settings and options there are. (These products also support AT&T Natural Voices, which is sold as an add-on for $25.00.)
"Just When You Need It, a Nudge From an Online Nag. Need to track a project or a to-do list? Look online. By Sarah Milstein. Developed by a former journalist, the site allows users to create "sheets" that function as smart notes or calendars and can be shared with people you designate. The sheets are laid out in columns or as calendar boxes, or both, and once you have set up a free account, you can enter text. Using an easy form of notation - two semicolons before an entry - you can instruct the site to send a reminder of an event to your PC or cellphone. Reminders can be sent hourly, daily, every third day or at any other frequency." [New York Times: Technology]
I know, I know. You don't need any more reminders. But Online Homebase is worth at least a look-see. I signed up for a free account here.
"Tips on Thwarting a Desktop Ad. Computer users are fighting back against a form of nuisance advertising that began appearing last year. By Thomas J. Fitzgerald. The ads, often referred to as Messenger Service spam, are different from e-mail spam and unrelated to the banners and pop-ups that appear at Web sites or in instant messaging programs used for chat. Messenger Service ads can appear on the screen of a computer connected to the Internet even if no browser is running. They are usually gray boxes with text in them and the term "Messenger Service" in the top left corner. Computers running Windows XP, 2000 and NT are susceptible to receiving them." [New York Times: Technology]
You can perform a 10-second check of your PC to find out if you're susceptible here, and read the rest of the article to find out how to get rid of this nuisance.
New Biz on the Blog: the Guardian's Jim McLellan has a piece today on the business use of blogs and turning blogs into a business. A good read:
[[ t e c h n o c u l t u r e ]]
Indeed, the anarchic fluid nature of blogging may deter most business people from entering the field. Those who are keen point out that most blogs will remain personal, driven by obsessions and enthusiasms. Most won't make any money.
But as blogging goes mainstream, thanks to the likes of AOL, they plan on playing a careful game. "Ninety-nine per cent of bloggers won't make money," says Blogads' Henry Copeland. "But when we've got 10 million bloggers a couple years from now, I'm confident that 100,000 of them will be uniquely valuable to advertisers."
"Sneaky Toolbar Hijacks Browsers. Internet users are mystified by a tricky browser add-on that installs itself without permission and defies attempts to remove it. Some are calling the program the most insidious thing on the Web. It's the most evil thing on the Internet, according to some of its victims. But it's not a virus, a scam or a raunchy porn site. It's the most evil thing on the Internet, according to some of its victims. But it's not a virus, a scam or a raunchy porn site." [Wired News] [[ t e c h n o c u l t u r e ]] Well, I wouldn't agree that this is the most evil thing on the internet, but it's pretty wicked. This obnoxious parasite was on a spare PC that we keep in the office. When Denis, an attorney in my office and one of my bosses, had his PC in for repairs, he fought and struggled with Xupiter commandeering his internet searches and browsing. Finally, when he couldn't take it anymore, I got the following e-mail: "Get this Xupiter crap off of here now. I can't take it anymore."
I thought it would take a matter of minutes, but it turned into hours, and then I was only partially successful. I've always had great success with the free Ad-aware program, by LavaSoft.* But, not this time. So, we went back to LavaSoft's site, and sure enough, there was an additional download required to address this loathsome hijacker. But we couldn't get the thing to install.
Okay. Plan B. A Google search turned up some directions on how to perform a manual remove, through the Windows System Registry (fun, fun). You would not believe how many registry keys there were to delete! And then, although I've never heard of something like this, after deleting certain registry keys, Xupiter file folders were made visible in Windows Explorer. And then we had to delete a slew of those. At first, this seemed to work. But, within an hour, I received the following e-mail from Denis: "It's back." Unbelievable! Xupiter had just zapped Denis and me for 2+ hours of prime billable time! Can't you sue somebody for something like this?
Anyway, this happened late last week, and I haven't had a chance to talk to Denis more about it yet, but I did have the following message in my inbox from him when I got back from my mini-vacation Tuesday: "I think I got rid of it." Pray, tell, HOW??? I'll let you know if he threw the PC out of the window . . .
*On January 27th, LavaSoft unveiled its revamped website and released the latest upgrades to its Ad-aware product line.
I'll never forget, as a child growing up in New Orleans, one of four children of a firefighter, climbing onto the big, red fire engines and trucks, and running around the firehouses where Dad was stationed. And I remember too well Dad coming home after fighting fires, exhausted and coughing up soot for days. Or worse, swathed in scary, white bandages from burns he suffered, saving people's lives and protecting property. It was those memories that conjured up, after all the years, when I recently opened an e-mail from my Dad, mysteriously and self-mockingly entitled, "How I Became a Museum Piece." To it, Dad attached a copy of his letter to the Oklahoma State Firefighters Museum, in which he told a story about an old Ahrens-Fox pumper that he operated while with the N.O.F.D. in the '60s, and how he had stumbled upon that very same fire apparatus on display in the museum. As a result of that letter, Dad's antique firefighters' helmet and uniform were placed on display in the museum, atop his beloved pumper. By the end of Dad's letter to the museum, I had a lump in my throat the size of Texas, tears in my eyes, and my heart filled with pride and love. I hope you enjoy reading Dad's letter to the museum (it's also on display at the museum), as well as the museum's poignant e-mailed response.
[NOTE: Updated and revised since original post on 1/29/03.]
Every lawyer and paralegal I know hates tracking time (except, of course, the plaintiff lawyers and paralegals, who are by and large exempt from this onerous task). And while I pride myself on being organized and efficient in most things office in general and paralegal in particular, time-keeping is one skill (okay, I can't answer phones, either -- well, I can, but, trust me, you would never want me to) that I can't seem to get a good grip on, even after all these years. (Hey, I'm not a bean counter, I'm a producer!)
Yet, we all know how important it is to get our time input into the system (you know, so that you and everyone else at your firm can get paid). Getting it done is another matter. I'm curious to know how other paralegals are handling this chore. (How most lawyers get it done is irrelevant to me, for a number of reasons. For one, most lawyers have support staff, which allows them to both be more productive and to focus on bigger projects, resulting in fewer time entries.) Specifically, I'd like to know:
- Do you enter your time directly into your firm's time and billing system?
- If so, do you enter the work as accomplished (all day, throughout the day), or periodically?
- If you enter your time periodically, on what schedule do you enter it (daily, weekly, etc.)?
- Do you enter your time by hand on a log, and then you or someone else enters it into your firm's time and billing system?
- Do you type your time in a word-processing document as you go along, and then cut-and-paste it into your firm's time and billing system?
- Do you dictate your time and have someone else enter/transcribe it?
- Do you use voice-activated software to enter your time directly into your firm's time and billing system?
- Do you re-construct (you know what I mean)?
- How much time, in an average month, do you spend handling the time-keeping and -reporting task?
- What system works best for you, regardless of whether you regularly practice such a system?
I'll tell if you will (in the name of finding a better way).
Hanging On for Dear Life . . . Literally A teenager was catapulted at least 25 feet in the air during an auto accident but grabbed onto overhead utility wires like an action hero and dangled for about 20 minutes before a rescue crew brought him down by ladder. [Foxnews] Did you see the video of this on FoxNews? Unbelievable! I think it's a safe bet this kid will be wearing seat belts from now on . . .
A small but at times important factor I overlooked when I switched a year ago from a dial-up ISP to high-speed internet through our local cable TV provider -- what to do when traveling. Used to be, all I needed was my trusty laptop, modem, and a phone line. Luckily, the hotel I stayed at last weekend had a Business Center with the internet via a dial-up ISP. Great. Except for the fact that someone was on the only available PC when I wanted to use it. If I'd have had a dial-up ISP of my own, there were plenty of phone jacks available. But since I didn't, there wasn't much to do except wait.
So, I decided to do some checking around for information on hotels that offer high-speed internet access in guest rooms. From Lawsites: "Hotels with high-speed Internet. A recent issue of SearchDay points to a resource sure to prove useful to lawyers who travel frequently -- the Geektels directory. A "geektel" is a hotel with high-speed Internet access. This directory lists more than 2,300 of them, in locations throughout the world. Browse by country and city to find a hotel in your destination. Most listings describe the type of broadband service and the cost." I was surprised to find that we have two in Lafayette: Hilton Lafayette & Towers and Holiday Inn Lafayette.
Looking for paralegal news, law firm news, and other items of interest to paralegals? Check out The Paralegal News, "America's Only-Online News for and About Paralegals." And while you're there, you can order your very own Rule of Law for free.
It's a woman thing. I got tired of the old look of my blog, so I decided to try this theme on for size. So, far I think I like it. One of these days, I'm going to figure out how to customize my blog, but until then I'm sticking with Radio's selection of themes. This one is called Discreet Radio Themes: blue, by Bryan Bell. So, whattya think?
Here are some links to introductory information and downloadable trial/demo versions of certain software programs that I find useful in the law office environment and will be referring to in future posts:
- CaseMap, by DecisionQuest, is a powerful and flexible litigation support/case management tool. To learn more about CaseMap, download several articles about it here, and download a 30-day trial copy of the program here.
- Adobe Acrobat 5.0. No doubt, you're familiar with the Acrobat Reader, Adobe's free software for viewing and printing PDF files. But in order to make your own PDF files, you'll need a program like Acrobat 5.0. To learn more about Acrobat 5.0 and how it's being used in the law office environment, check out the new site PDF for Lawyers, conceived, created, and hosted by Ernie the Attorney.
- ActiveWords PLUS! adds on to Windows and uses words that you designate to launch programs, jump to websites, send e-mail, substitute text, and more. I'm just getting started with this product, but it's one of those that you won't know how you ever managed without. Download a 60-day trial version here.
- ClipTrakker is another can't-live-without program that automatically maintains a history of every item copied to your clipboard, allowing you to make the most of every keystroke. You can download a fully-functioning evaluation copy here.
- E-Transcript Binder, by RealLegal, is used to load, view, manage, search, and annotate transcripts, and a whole lot more. It looks like this product may have been subsumed by another product, RealLegal Binder 5.5 (I'll have to do some checking on this and let you know. My firm uses E-Transcript Binder, however, I could not find a link to this product on RealLegal's site.) You can read about and download a demo of Real Legal Binder 5.5 here.
All of the software products mentioned above are available commercially, for a fee. I realize that not all law firms have the ability or the inclination to provide these programs for their employees' use. For those of you who do not presently have access to any one or more of these programs, I hope future discussions posted at this site will inform you so that you can evaluate them based upon your own business needs and maybe even recommend them to your employer. I'll also try to, whenever possible, provide tips on alternate methods of accomplishing similar tasks, for those without access to such programs as these (i.e., the old-fashioned way--after all, it's probably not your fault that you don't have these programs).
Finally, in general, on this site, I'll try to provide as many links to available *free* resources on the internet as I can. Obviously, licenses for core programs like the ones mentioned above must be purchased.
While I'm away for a few days, I thought the timing right to lay the groundwork for my first Open Forum, or Forensis Publicus, by inviting any and all paralegals out there who might be "listening" to my Radio, tuning in from time to time, or just scanning the channels, to e-mail to me articles of interest to appear in this space next week. This can be something written especially for the occasion, or a tried-and-true gem that you'd like to share, as long as it's an original work. I'd especially welcome posts from Larry and Connie, two experienced paralegals and blogophiles who happened by here via Ernie the Attorney and were kind enough to leave their supportive comments.
So, put on your blogging caps and carpe diem!
I have a paralegal philosophy that makes perfect sense to me, but I never cease to be amazed that most lawyers just don't get it. As a paralegal, I consider it my primary job to gather and organize information related to a case, from all relevant resources. What that information means or how it applies to any given case is the lawyer's domain. I gather it; you decide what it means. Simple, right? But you'd be surprised how many lawyers don't understand this. They want information, all right, but usually they want just what's needed today, for the issues they're working on at that very moment. And, heaven forbid, if you were to gather information that could be construed as detrimental to their cases!
I believe that the paralegal's information-gathering techniques remain basically the same in every case, no matter what's going on in the litigation at any given time. (My work primarily involves civil litigation.) But I find that my efforts are often thwarted by the attorneys, for such reasons as "the case is about to settle," or "that's not relevant." And then, when the case doesn't settle, or a supposed non-issue suddenly becomes relevant, there's a mad, last-minute dash to gather information, some of which takes weeks, or even months, to obtain (for example, tax records from the Internal Revenue Service, or Social Security earnings records), and sometimes it's simply too late and the information is unattainable. Anyone care to venture a guess who gets the blame when this happens?
But when a paralegal is fortunate enough to work with an attorney who does get it, everyone wins -- the paralegal, the attorney, and the client. I'll give you an example. I was working on the defense of a personal injury case with an attorney who allowed me, as a paralegal, to do my thing. I duly gathered all of the pertinent records, right away, including criminal and civil records checks on each of the defendants. Some interesting things turned up, but in the early stages of the litigation, such things as arrests and divorce proceedings seemed like just so much -- well, gossip. About eighteen months down the road, when the real issues for litigation had shaken out, both the plaintiffs' criminal and civil backgrounds came into play. And while other defense counsel were scurrying around trying to gather pertinent records at the last minute, before an important deposition, I simply walked to the filing cabinet and handed my boss the files.
And then there's information that's potentially damaging to your case. Why, you ask, would a paralegal want to go there? But what better way is there to defend against a position or argument than being informed on the subject? (Would a good lawyer write a legal brief without reading the other side's cases?) Isn't it better for the attorney to have had time to roll the information around in his or her brain, for weeks or even months, before taking a position? If I were an attorney, I wouldn't want to learn the gory details of damaging information for the first time in a deposition or at a hearing. If the attorney is not informed, isn't there a chance that the damaging testimony of the witness, or argument to the court, will go unchallenged, which could adversely affect the outcome of the entire case? Isn't the client better served when the attorney is in a position to dispute or minimize damaging testimony or arguments? Doesn't this make sense? But my experience is that, by and large, most attorneys get that deer-in-the-headlights look when you bring up the subject of exploring this potentitally damaging territory, refusing to even discuss it -- not even casually.
Just as lawyers are the experts in the law, paralegals are the experts in gathering and organizing information and documentation. Let us practice our expertise. Mentor us, guide us, lead us, give us assignments, let us know your preferences, but let us do our jobs the way our experiences have shown us is best. And you might find that your job as a lawyer gets a whole lot easier and more productive, and that your clients get better results.
Take A Tour of Google [Google News and Updates] Have you Googled lately? I'm not talking about running an internet search, I'm talking about using some of Google's ever-expanding array of new features and tools, such as the Google Toolbar, Google Groups, Google News, Google Images, Google Catalogs, and even something new called Froogle, where you can find information about products available online. Take the Google Tour, and find out what you've been missing (if itta been a snake, itta bit ya). And the coolest new Google tool . . .
Keep track of new search results. "Credit searchengineblog.com for this one. Googlert is a new utility built around the Google API that lets you stay informed on new search results for whatever terms or phrases you want to keep tabs on." [Google News and Updates] Great, you say, but how can this be applied to legal work? Well, bookmarks can become stale over time, and if you're like me you have a tendency to rely on sites you've located and bookmarked through earlier searches. Using out-of-date bookmarks may cause you to miss out on better, newer, or more up-to-date sources of information. And even if you wanted to manually re-run the same search that turned up your old, trusty bookmark, you'd have no way to know for sure (at least, I wouldn't) what search string led you to that site in the first place.
With Googlert, you receive e-mail notifications of changes to selected search string results as they occur. How you get it is a two-step process: First, get a license key* here (by providing your e-mail address and selecting a password); then, subscribe to the service here, by entering your e-mail address and the license key. You can sign up for up to 5 searches, choosing for each how many results you want to receive (with up to 100 results allowed--it's not clear whether this is 100 per search string, or 100 total). I signed up and can't wait to try this out.
For the last two weeks, I 've been having a lot of fun playing with my new blog, trying to learn how it works and what blogging is all about. But my true vision for this blog is to create a resource for paralegals, with a focus on emerging technology. I want to include software-related tips and tricks, with both things that I've already learned and new things that I learn, as I learn them. Ideally, I'd like to create a forum where paralegals can exchange ideas and each share their own tips and tricks, for the betterment of the profession, as well as professional growth and development.
For example, a few of the software products that I use and would like to feature are: CaseMap, Adobe Acrobat, eTranscript Binder, and even software that most paralegals use everyday, such as WordPerfect. I plan to collect, organize, and post lots of legal internet links and provide a few internet strategies for paralegals. I don't claim to be the "expert" in any of these things, just someone with an insatiable desire to learn, to share and manage knowledge, and to challenge myself--and to motivate others to do the same.
A mighty tall order, I admit. But that's my vision. The only things I see standing in my way at present are lack of time (because I work all day) and lack of the expertise required to create a worthy blog. Of the two, I'm sure that time will be the easier obstacle to overcome. I have much to learn in the exciting and revolutionary world of blogging -- but that's a good thing, too, because I can then share what I learn as I learn it. And the great thing is, there's always more to learn and someone new to learn from, when you're open to knowledge. I have no doubt that I'll learn as much or more from this blogging experience than any paralegal or other legal professional who comes here in search of information. And that, in my view, is as it should be.
Well, after 3 calls to Cox Internet (and speaking with 3 different techs) didn't accomplish anything, I finally figured out what the problem was myself. It dawned on me when I was cleaning out my e-mail inbox at work. The last e-mail I successfully received at home was the one forwarding several .pdf files and a CaseMap replica file from the office. The last time I got bumped off of Cox's e-mail server was when I attempted to forward a huge PowerPoint file home from the office. It turned out that the file was bigger than the capacity of my entire Cox Internet mailbox, so the e-mail was rejected by Cox's server. After that episode, I was without e-mail for a week! Cox says there is no known issue such as this, but it is supposedly going to be sent up for investigation.
Anyway, Cox Internet deleted and then re-created my e-mail account, and this time I AM getting my mail again. (So, please, please disregard earlier request for spam . . . LOL.)
If anyone reading this has experienced a problem with their e-mail as I've described, please post a comment to me. Tx!
It's been another great day -- wow, two in a row . . . I'm on a roll. Had dinner out with the in-laws, and a surprise visit from my best friend Betty, who happened to be in town, via Taiwan and Canton, Texas (go figure). Betty is an awesome paralegal, and I've been twisting her arm to do this seminar with me, for the Institute for Paralegal Education, in July, entitled, "Mastering the Trial Notebook" (I spoke at this seminar in Lafayette last year). Looks like she might be onboard, but she conveniently left herself a little wiggle room. If I don't (or, rather, if IPE doesn't) get another speaker to join me, it looks like the seminar will have to be cancelled this year, and I've just about exhausted my resources, so we shall see . . .
More from the trenches tomorrow!
Well, I did everything the Cox Internet rep said to fix my Outlook Express problem. Man, I thought he was onto something. This tech said that the feature in Norton Antivirus that scans incoming and outgoing e-mail for viruses was the culprit. He said that it scans for viruses by re-routing your e-mail to its server, which doesn't recognize my User Name and Password. (He swore this was the second in a double-protection system, so I would not be left vulnerable to an e-mailed virus, and I think this is as I recall from when I installed the program.) Made sense. So, I duly disabled those features, and then uninstalled and re-installed Outlook Express and Internet Explorer (yeah, right, like you can get those programs off of your computer -- just try it!). Still, I could only send, but not receive. The distressing thing is, any e-mail that was sent to me in the last 3 days is gone. Once Cox Internet's server made delivery to my address, it was history. So, now I have to dig around in Quicken and try to figure out what e-bills I've missed -- Murphy's Law and all, you know.
Never one to give up easily, I've nonetheless had it! Spending my precious personal PC time tooling around with a program that's basically supposed to be invisible is an utter waste of time. So, I'm trying out Eudora, which I downloaded for free here. And I'm already receiving e-mail again. It even imported my address book and mail folders from OE. YIPPEE!! So far, so good. Looks like I'm back in the loop . . .
Brent: "When we go to Biloxi this weekend, I'm playing in a golf tournament Saturday morning, but check-in time at the hotel isn't until the afternoon. Do you want me to beg-off of the tourney?"
KiM (upon being revived after fainting on the floor): "Didn't you read my blog? I'm reading books in Biloxi. Drop me off at Barnes & Noble, or maybe the internet cafe we found in Gulfport last time. I'll be fine."
Didn't you read my blog? Wasn't this in a comic strip making fun of blogging, a while back?
I had a really great day today, much to my happy surprise, and it had everything to do with techonology. Friday at work, I got a long-distance rush assignment from Ernie the Attorney to enter a new case and its documents into CaseMap and Adobe Acrobat-Not-the-Reader-But-the-Full-Blown-Version. This was my first project for Ernie, our in-house techno guru/attorney extraordinaire, and I naturally wanted to do the best job I could. I received the imaged documents from Ernie via e-mail, along with a replica of the CaseMap case file, and then turned in my work product via e-mail Sunday morning, eager for Ernie's response.
As Murphy's Law would have it, a recurrent issue with Microsoft Outlook Express/Norton Antivirus 2000/Windows XP Home, whereby I'm suddenly locked out of my Cox Internet e-mail (password rejected) struck again this weekend. After once again rooting around in Microsoft's Knowledge Base, and then tooling around in the Windows System Registry (oh, what fun), I got my e-mail to send, but it still wouldn't receive. Pace, pace. Fret, fret. No e-mail from Ernie, no e-mail from anyone.
And then, when I got to work this morning, there had been some kind of major power outage in Downtown New Orleans, which was without both power and water. So, now I was without outside e-mail at work, too. But, at least we still had the internet, so I wasn't completely a dead link. I decided I'd better check in on Ernie's weblog before things went from bad to worse. Well, just imagine how I felt when I found a lengthy post about the assignment I'd just completed, entitled "A new model for legal work." It was, in a word . . . surreal. In addition to being ecstatic about getting such a rave review (and in public, even), I realized that I've entered a realm where I can get information about my job performance from a blog. Is that amazing, or what?
Murphy not being quite finished with me, I suddenly remembered the loopy poem I posted up to my blog last night, giddy after being freed from the cave where I had been devouring documents for the better part of 3 days and thinking that maybe -- just maybe -- I did a good job. And now, Ernie had pointed to me on his blog, loopy poem and all. **Sigh**
Techno highs and lows, indeed.
i wish i had a pretty blog
. . .to take your breath away
i wish i had a witty blog
. . . in all I had to say
or maybe even a big-city blog
. . . where people had to pay
to read my disjointed ramblings
. . . all the live-long day
alas, i have an itty-bitty blog
. . . that i work on day by day
a very simple, nitty blog
. . . never to blow the charts away
but, still, i love my little blog
. . . for at the end of every day
i'm glad to have had a perfect way
. . . to have my little say
After that last post, we need a little fun. And I have the perfect thing!
Ask anyone -- I just LOVE my weatherpixie.
War protesters arrested in Washington. Police arrested 16 anti-war protesters who marched on the White House on Sunday in a second day of rallies against a possible war in Iraq that has drawn thousands to the capital. [CNN]. So, these people are willing to get arrested in the name of peace, eh? A few questions come to mind . . .
Are they thinking at all? Or is the motivation just some kind of Hollywood chic retro visit to the peace rallies of the '60s? Another place to see and be seen. Are they all going to troupe back to D.C. and take responsibility, afer the next terrorist strike on American soil, or when nukes start dropping on innocent people somewhere in the world? Then, will these liberals finally have their proof? Because these are the stakes. It's too late for a Rodney King why-can't-we-all-just-get-along? attitude. September 11th, I thought, left no doubt about that. Was one strike on our homeland not enough to convince these peaceniks that the choice for war was made, but it was not our choice. Is this some kind of mass state of denial? As for me, I trust our President, who is moral and right, to do the moral and right thing to protect our homeland. After all, he has just a little bit more of the facts than I do . . .
You might think I haven't been on my blog lately, as evidenced by my lack of recent posts. However, you would be wrong. I've been stealthily working on my blog, behind the scenes and under the hood. Specifically, I've been exploring the wonderful world of news aggregators. One of the best things about Radio UserLand has to be its built-in News Aggregator. In fact, when Ernie the Attorney first turned me on to blogging, it was the News Aggregator that hooked me. Imagine: Instead of surfing the 'net for news, the news is delivered directly to you, from the sources you choose (that is, those sources that have RSS/XML feeds and allow you to tap into them), and updated throughout the day, all day. The hardest part is deciding which feeds to choose (and, of course, finding enough news-reading time). The coolest thing about Radio UserLand's built-in News Aggregator is the link that's provided that allows you to post directly to your blog, with news blurb and link to the source.
A couple of free news aggregator sources you should check out:
- Radio UserLand and other bloggers can browse for and easily link to RSS/XML feeds, for free, through News is Free.
- Non-Radio UserLand bloggers and even non-bloggers can create their own desktop news aggregators with blocktrack.com or AmphetaDesk (both free).
News Junkie Nirvana!
As Superbowl 2003 weekend approaches, I find myself desperately in need of a new book. You see, Brent's employer is generously sponsoring its annual SuperBowl Weekend Party in Biloxi, Mississippi, at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino. Since I'm not interested whatsoever in football (who's playing, again, or do we know yet?), and because I no longer have a dial-up ISP for my old notebook PC (and I'm not Wi-Fi capable), I'm doing some advance preparations -- i.e., looking for a good read. Two books high on my list, both (one only in part) by Cory Doctorow, are Essential Blogging (by Cory Doctorow, J. Scott Johnson, Mena G. Trott, Benjamin Trott, and Rael Dornfest) and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (which you can download for free here). Reviews of either these books, and/or suggestions for other good books (preferably non-fiction) are most welcome!
Pop-ups, the ads we love to hate. A new study suggests that pop-up ads are the Internet equivalent of supermarket tabloids: Everyone claims to hate them, but somebody keeps reading. [CNET News.com] But can a study exist in a vacuum? As later pointed out in the article, "Current click-through rates are inflated because many Internet users are not familiar with how to close the pop-up window. The rates will decrease as users gain experience." Precisely. My personal ratio is something like 10 or so erroneous clicks-through and 0 intentional visits to the site of a pop-up advertiser.
Who do you know that doesn't despise pop-up ads? Like we don't know how to use a search engine to go directly to the site we're looking for in our precious internet time. "I need a hotel reservation. Maybe hotels.com will pop up if I go to my favorite wholesale tire website while I'm trying to eat a sandwich on my lunch hour." And now we have shouting pop-ups ("Hey, you!!!" -- I kid you not), dancing pop-ups, and ones that refuse to go away. Kudos to iVillage and Ask Jeeves, for (supposedly) banishing these ads. Let's hope -- no, let's demand -- that other websites follow suit and abolish what is equivalent, not to supermarket tabloids, but to telemarketing on the internet.
Google responds to search ranking suit. Company says motion contains 'bare and conclusory allegations' [InfoWorld: Top News] Online advertising network Search King has sued Google in federal court in Oklahoma, claiming that Google unfairly bumped the rankings of Search King's websites, causing financial losses. Search King is seeking damages of $75K+, plus punitive damages and attorneys' fees. Google is seeking a dismissal under the free speech protections of the First Amendment. Search King is seeking a preliminary injunction.
In my view, this is a suit to watch -- two internet search engines, slugging it out over rankings as affect financial gains/losses. Search King makes a persuasive argument, but I just don't know. For starters, I'm suspicious when someone announces the filing of a suit on "principle," after the alleged offending party has already acquiesced to the demands made the basis of the lawsuit. You'll have to read Search King's unusual statement on the matter yourself. After visiting Search King's site, I'm sworn to secrecy.
Learned a new Radio UserLand tip today -- the hard way (see post below). I made significant changes to my template files, such as including an image (you know, of a big dog -- make that of a dog, big) -- and I was unable to completely reverse the changes. As is usually the case, the solution was quite simple. All that was necessary was to publish the entire site, from within Radio. The steps are:
Open Radio from the system tray Radio icon
Choose Radio->Publish->Entire Website (Note: this may take some time, depending on how long you've been using Radio.)
Shortly after I bought my new PC by phone, Gateway sent me a coupon for a $50 rebate on the 17" flat-panel monitor. Cool! One of the requirements was production of the invoice. But Gateway never sent me an invoice. Gateway Support, however, advised that there was a mistake on the rebate coupon, and an invoice was no longer required. So, I duly completed my rebate form, attached a printout of the e-mail from Gateway, and posted my claim for redemption. In the next day's mail, I got a letter from Gateway, telling me that the rebate coupon was sent in error, that I was not entitled to the rebate, and that any attempted rebate redemptions would be rejected. In consolation, Gateway generously offered a 10% discount on any new Gateway products purchased on their website. I thought, isn't there some kind of law . . .
Anyway, I happened to stumble on this site, PlanetFeedback, where consumers can "get results from thousands of companies" by completing an online compliment/complaint/comment directed to a company's executive management. You can also read others' comments on their dealings, and there's even a rating system for comparison (Gateway and Dell rated amazingly even in all areas). But, I digress . . . So, I fired off a post to Gateway. Within a couple of days, I got a call from an Emergency Assistance Representative from Gateway's Executive Office, who advised me that, although my rebate redemption was still being rejected, a $50 check had already been mailed to me, as a gesture of "customer goodwill." It seems that somebody at Gateway pushed the wrong key and sent thousands of rebate offers to the "wrong" flat-panel monitor buyers -- you know, whatever size I have, it was the other one.
I've updated this site to include most of the Louisiana paralegal links that I posted to LPA's website. I've been using LPA's links since the website went up a few months ago, and they've proven very handy. Just because I haven't found any misdirected or broken links yet, though, doesn't mean there may not be a few. If you find one, please post a comment here, and I will correct it. Also, suggestions are welcome.
Hot-diggety-dog! LPA's website has now surfaced in some of the major search engines, including Google, Yahoo!, and Excite. Although it was always only a matter of time, I'm still Yahooing with Googley-eyed Excitement over this, especially because I didn't have to pay big $$$, perhaps for nothing. (Look for my upcoming post on how to get your site listed in search engines for free.) Check out Yahoo!'s submission process, typical of what I found with most search engines:
Yahoo!Express is part of a suite of services Yahoo! created to serve the needs of businesses like yours. Yahoo! Express provides expedited review of web sites you submit for possible inclusion in the Yahoo! Directory.
Yahoo! will respond to your request within 7 business days, but "does not ensure that your submission will be accepted for inclusion in the Yahoo! Directory!" [Bold in original.] HELLO!! Where can I get a job like this? You give me $299, and I will give you a decision, within 7 business days, whether I want to do any work for the money (care to place a wager on what my decision will be?). Am I seriously missing something here, or is this just legal mumbo jumbo to fill some loophole? One would hope that, in most instances, Yahoo! goes ahead and lists the website. But, who would sign such a ridiculous agreement? Don't get me started . . .
After a longer hiatus than I wanted or planned (say, about 2 months), I am finally back on the blog. This time, I think I'm ready to get this thing rolling for real. I've got my new PC, my new Lexmark X75 color scanner-printer-copier, and my brand-new, cool digital camera, a Canon PowerShot A40, which I got just yesterday. Check out this shot I took of Pepe. For more about Pepe, see my story, Pepe the Cajun Squirrel Dog.
Total hits for the first official day on the web: 270. Excluding, of course, the 1,000 or so hits by me, checking the number of hits (I opted out of the count on both of my PCs, for obvious reasons.) So, for about 200 bucks, and after about 80 hours of mouse-clicking, LPA's website has become a reality. It's been an exhausting day -- highs and lows. First, the excitement, the announcement, the various congrats (which mean a whole lot), and then some stuff not worthy of mention. Capped off the day by writing the front-page article (about the site, natch) for the newsletter. At 900+ words, though, looks like it might need some editing.
All in a day's work . . .
At long last! The website I've been designing for the Lafayette Paralegal Association has debuted. At the Board meeting tonight, the site was officially approved, and we all gathered 'round to press the magic button -- "publish." Although it's admittedly a very basic site, I'm proud of my first stab at this web page stuff.
Now, maybe I can devote some time to my blog. I have so many ideas. Stay tuned . . .
After much anticipation, I am finally making my first post to my new blog. I've been tooling around with this thing for the past several weeks, but decided to wait for my new PC (not the exact system, but close -- should I begin to worry about obsolescence already???). It's a beaut! This is my second Gateway, and although I had a couple of reservations about buying another one, I couldn't resist the deal with the 17" flat-panel monitor. As it turns out, it's a sweet setup. Now, if I could only figure out how to get my Outlook Express configured for multiple users under Windows XP Home . . .