Category: Techno Review

Why Yes, We Have Had Some Work Done

By , May 16, 2012 10:36 am

by Stina McClintock

Every morning I watch the Daily Rundown on MSNBC because I have a crush on Chuck Todd and because I have an even bigger crush on Luke Russert. At the end of each show they go around the table and do a “shameless plug”, which is the main motivation for this post. That and because Kim Kardashian has taught me the fine art of self promotion.

The Public Law Library of King County has a new website! Have you checked it out yet? It does everything the old site did, but a little bit better. For example, did you know that we have a wealth of information on Consumer Protection on our website? Maybe you didn’t because in the olden days you would not have been able to drill our site “By Topic” from A to Z. Or that we have quick links to Limited Practice Officer forms so you don’t have to click seven pages deep on the WSBA website? That’s right! We have had a virtual facelift.

I was going to sit here and take full credit for the whole thing, but in light of the fact that I am not big into lying or stealing spotlights (a lesson I learned from Snooki) I think this is the appropriate place to send a big ol’ shout out to Kim Ositis and Rick Stroup. Both of them worked exceptionally hard to keep the site development on schedule and delegate tasks to the rest of us here at the library. While a group effort, every big project has a leader, and it was definitely a well run operation. Or as library folks might say “an excellent collaboration.” Now go explore!

Legal iPads

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By , April 4, 2012 9:53 am

by Karen Helde

At the February LLOPS meeting, Tina Ching, Sarah Griffith and I talked about our experiences with iPads in our organizations.  At that meeting,  I promised to post a list of the apps we discussed.  With apologies for the delay, here it is.

Fastcase – Access to state and federal cases and statutes via browsing, searching or citation.  Requires registering for an account, but it’s free.

Dragon Dictation – Easy-to-use voice recognition app that creates notes which can be edited, saved, emailed or copied into another application.

LawStack – Access to court rules, including the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, and Federal Rules of Evidence.

WestlawNext – Close to the full functionality of WestlawNext via the web, but with an iPad-friendly interface.  Requires a WestlawNext subscription.

HeinOnline – Uses Hein’s vast collection of law review articles, ABA journals, CFRs and more.  PDF content can be viewed within the app or opened in the iPad reader of your choice.   Requires HeinOnline subscription.

Evernote – A tool to save and organize websites, photos, lists, ideas, notes, etc.  Synchs across all devices, mobile or desktop.

iAnnotate – Read, annotate, organize and share PDF documents.  Syncs with ITunes or Dropbox.

Dropbox  – Store photos and documents in the cloud for access via mobile and desktop devices.

Lexis Advance – Run searches, Shepardize cases and add documents to synchronized folders.  Lexis Advance subscription required.

If you want to hear more about iPads and are attending AALL in Boston, I’ll be speaking at a Monday morning program called iCan! Empowering Librarians with iPads and Other Mobile Devices.

Pin-up Passions

By , March 29, 2012 10:02 am

by Kristine Lloyd

I have a dirty little secret I’ve been hiding from the librarian community for years. Here goes: I’m not an organized person. I’m pretty sure this is a mortal sin in the library world. My desk is piled with papers, and my pin boards are stuck with random collections of postcards, pictures and schedules, some years-old, yellowing under the fluorescent work lights. Comparing my desk to say, any of my co-workers, you’ll see that I’m the bad neighbor in the hood, the one with waist-high weeds and cars ratcheted up on concrete blocks. There, I’ve said it. What a relief. Continue reading 'Pin-up Passions'»

Apple iOS 5

By , October 11, 2011 2:11 pm

Apple is releasing its latest iPhone product, the 4s, and with it comes an upgrade to the software on iOS devices. iOS5 will offer an improved notification system, better browser, reminders, right out of the box PC-free usage, a messaging app for communication between other iPhone/iPad users, and about another 200 plus features.

What may stand as the biggest offering though is the voice system known as Siri. A pocket assistant that could really revolutionize the way we compute. The algorithms are supposedly so advanced that it can parse natural language and get to the root of inquiries. Setting reminders, sending emails/texts, taking dictation, finding directions or a restaurant, crunching numbers, playing your messages, and pulling weather information are just a few of things Siri can do for you.

The potential for library usage remains to be seen. Can Siri search catalogs or Worldcat for a title within the Seattle area? Can Siri pull up a Washington bill from the legislative website? I don’t see Siri compiling a legislative history anytime soon but that’s no reason to think that it may never happen. At the moment, this technology might be just the thing to help us with research requests. As it stands we largely write out our research questions and goals. With Siri we can vocalize our tasks and create lists verbally. The combination of writing and voice could prove useful. Siri has a ways to go before it can help us tackle more complex problems. Yet maybe before we get the chance to enjoy a Siri that tackles big problems, we may be living in fear of self-conscious robots.

HeinOnline 2011

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By , October 3, 2011 11:33 am

Today’s service announcement presents the latest legal app to hit iPhones and iPads: HeinOnline. Hein certainly didn’t rush this out and ostensibly waited to release the app until perfected. The screenshots provide a clean and straightforward presentation, as we’d expect on iOS devices. Many users who have trouble with HeinOnline will welcome the easy-to-use layout. has stuck to their guns on the Web, running/looking nearly the same as it has for years. Maybe app development will lead to Web changes and broaden their base.

Apples to Apples

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By , September 8, 2011 4:52 pm

By Philippe Cloutier

Technology in the legal world is funny business. We don’t pride ourselves on being on the cutting-edge or at the head of the line (or the upper middle) for upgrades. In my experience, many firms are squeezing the last bit of value from pre-2003 technology as much as possible. Even though it is often to our detriment- with constant debugging, restarts, freezing, and overall technical service time vacuums. The old adage, we are creatures of habit, largely informs this slow rate of change.  However, I think as our lives require the daily use of blended computers, cell-phones, tablets, etc., and the improvement of software reliability, speedier adoption of new technology will be the norm.
Continue reading 'Apples to Apples'»

How Can You Not Like OK Magazine?

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By , July 19, 2011 8:09 pm

by Stina McClintock

The other day, in line at the grocery store, I was debating the proverbial question: “What trashy magazine do I buy to balance this New York Times?”  When I saw that OK Magazine was advertising more content for half the price of US Weekly and that I could read all about Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom on their new free iPad app!  Without question, I was instantly drawn to the promise of more content for less money.

It seems that what is good enough for gossip news must also be good enough for legal news, as and have recently announced that they intend to redesign parts of their websites to attract more users in the legal community.  In the coming months these sites will be unveiling new looks along with a slate of free-to-use additional features.  Also on the plate are mobile applications for better access.

Continue reading 'How Can You Not Like OK Magazine?'»

H2O: The Wave of the Future

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By , July 14, 2011 12:51 pm

by Robyn Hagle

During library training, for our first group of summer associates, I was introduced to a new technology that is gaining traction in at least one law school. H2O is a product of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard. At its core, H2O is basically a free online digital casebook.  But the concept could easily spread and gain acceptance and popularity outside of law schools as a more general legal wiki, for examples see Communications Decency Act or Remix Culture.

The cornerstone of H2O is the “playlist”. A playlist is a shared grouping of articles and other content on a particular topic, and is a primer or research guide of sorts. Other components of H2O are more specific to an academic or collaborative learning setting. The question tool allows users to submit questions or discussion points to be considered for conferences and classes and provides a more focused approach to connect speakers to audiences.  “Collage”, a tool recently added to H2O platform, provides a way to annotate a primary document (e.g. highlighting specific legal concepts at play in a case and hiding other non-essential text without changing the original document). “Rotisserie” is the discussion or message board component of H2O.
Continue reading 'H2O: The Wave of the Future'»

What is DASH?

By , July 5, 2011 12:17 pm

by Erin Hoffrance

DASH stands for Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard.  It is described as “A central, open-access repository of research by members of the Harvard community.”

A search in DASH for the term “lawyer” generated 235 results.  The results are easy-to-read and when you click on an article title you get a good amount of basic data such as the title, author, citation, abstract, terms of use, link to the full text, other sources, and a citable persistent link.

Library Technology Guides quotes Professor Robert Darnton, “DASH is meant to promote openness in general… It will make the current scholarship of Harvard’s faculty freely available everywhere in the world, just as the digitization of the books in Harvard’s library will make learning accumulated since 1638 accessible worldwide. Taken together, these and other projects represent a commitment by Harvard to share its intellectual wealth.”

It really is a huge resource of scholarship available to all with Internet access.  It is a tool that I hope other schools will look at and take note.  Stuart M. Shieber, who helped construct DASH policy, talks about how he sees DASH evolving, “Our long-term growth strategy for DASH is to integrate it so fully into other faculty tools that self-archiving just becomes second nature… Ultimately, DASH aims to provide as comprehensive and open a view of Harvard research as possible.”

I do not know how often this will come in handy for me but it is another resource in the toolbox!

Fastcase App

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By , June 27, 2011 4:38 pm

by Karen Helde

I’ve been investigating apps for the iPad-toting attorneys in my office. One legal research app has really impressed me with its coverage (national), interface (clean) and cost (free!). Fastcase is the app you’ll wish you had on your desktop–and if you happen to be a member of the Oregon Bar, you do (see the OSB site for more information). It’s a great option when you want to take a quick look at a case or statute without incurring client charges. The interface is intuitive and streamlined, with no cluttered screens to navigate or commands to memorize. You can pull up state and federal cases using keywords or a citation. Too many hits in your search result? Narrow the field by jurisdiction or date, or change the sort order to browse more efficiently. The US Code and most state statutes are available too–get what you need by browsing, searching, or a entering a citation. Tap “Save” if you pull up a document you want to refer to later.

The basic Fastcase app is free to download and use, and works on iPhone or iPad. You’ll need to register for an account, but it’s painless. I’m not the only librarian to be impressed. The Fastcase app won AALL’s New Product of the Year Award  in 2010.

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