Monthly Archives: February 2003

When the Blizzard hits you can't go to work, or can you? – seven years ago N.Y Times writer Joe Sharkey boldly proclaimed that the Internet was vastly overhyped.  The blizzard that struck the Northeast also struck a chord of awareness in Joe Sharkey that caused him to rethink his dismissive statement about the Internet.  Here's how he describes waking up the morning after the blizzard hit:

The morning paper wasn't out front by 6 a.m. as it usually is, but the cable modem was humming; the broadband links to e-mail and news worked fine…

He then goes on to describe

When the Blizzard hits you can't go to work, or can you? – seven years ago N.Y Times writer Joe Sharkey boldly proclaimed that the Internet was vastly overhyped.  The blizzard that struck the Northeast also struck a chord of awareness in Joe Sharkey that caused him to rethink his dismissive statement about the Internet.  Here's how he describes waking up the morning after the blizzard hit:

The morning paper wasn't out front by 6 a.m. as it usually is, but the cable modem was humming; the broadband links to e-mail and news worked fine…

He then goes on to describe the deployment of high speed Internet access in hotels, airports, and even in airplanes.  Yes, he has realized that not only is the Internet a big thing to him, but it is a big thing to business travellers.  And having easy access to the Internet is a boon to business travellers (which, hint, hint, is why wireless Internet access is going to explode).

I don't have to read Joe's article to see this happening.  I see it happening already, even down here in New Orleans, the City That Care Forgot.  Right here by the lazy Mississippi.

Okay, I'll admit wireless broadband internet not taking off like wildfire here.  We are busy preparing for Mardi Gras (which is pretty much like preparing for a hurricane, except you buy more liquor).  The point is, though, having pervasive access to the Internet is something people who do business have a huge need for.  They just don't realize it.

But just like Joe we are starting to wake up and realize that access to information is power.  If all of my files are in digital form and available to me through an Internet connection (which it goes without saying has to be high-speed) then I can work from wherever there is such a connection.  If a blizzard prevents me from going to my office, I can work.  If I'm stuck in a hotel room in a distant city, I can work.  If I'm cooling my heels at the airport after having cleared a litany of security checkpoints, I can work.  All I need is a high-speed (preferably wireless) connection.  [Ernie the Attorney]

Don't Fear the [Grim] Reaper

Don't Fear the [Grim] ReaperGrimmys or Grammys

“It’s going to take a lot to keep this year’s Grammys from looking like the Grimmys. The good news for viewers is the blockbuster lineup for Sunday night’s Madison Square Garden show. The bad news for the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which presents the Grammys, is that all the star power and glitz in the world can’t mask the pall of desperation that has overtaken the music industry in the last two years….

Granted, the recording industry has cried wolf for decades: Extended radio play was crippling the industry; home taping was crippling the industry; sales of used CDs were crippling the industry. Bootlegs, imports, dubbing decks — the perils were endless. And somehow through decades of complaint, the recording industry was racking up booming sales and profits that other industries could only envy….

The industry is still crying wolf, with the only difference now being that a wolf is vigorously gnawing at its innards. Unlike the boy who cried wolf, people aren’t ignoring the recording industry’s predicament: They’re just rooting for the wolf….

A rare situation exists today where Sony, as a member of the recording industry, is part of a lawsuit targeting manufacturers whose products make illegal downloads easy, one of which is Sony: The corporation is so cumbersome that it is suing itself. Meanwhile, in a belt-tightening move I’m sure we can all empathize with, Universal’s parent company, Vivendi, has begun selling off its corporate jets….

There may be no greater indication that the NARAS is in sad shape than the fact that its financial condition is a lot more interesting to write about than the music they’re hawking. So it has always been. If anyone thinks the U.N. is irrelevant, they should look at the NARAS’s record of consistently missing the boat on recognizing the significant music of its time….

In recent years the Grammys have made a desperate effort to become hip, embracing Beck, Eminem and other critical darlings as credibility poster children. It also has helped that with every passing year the Grammys introduce more award categories — from an original 26 in 1958 up to a record 104 this year — so that via blind chance if nothing else they’re bound to recognize some artists of substance, as long as they’re best-selling artists of substance. That 104 awards, by the way, isn’t counting Hall of Fame inductees (an elephant’s graveyard of albums and artists the Grammys ignored in their prime) or the 41 categories in the three-year-old Latin Grammys (whose first televised ceremony last year was a ratings flop, yet one more Grammy woe). Wait a few more years and they’ll probably give each of you a Grammy just for watching the show….

The Record of the Year category has historically been an embarrassment. Given even a modicum of hindsight, was Celine Dion’s 'My Heart Will Go On' really the best that humanity came up with in 1998? And what era would choose to be remembered by Christopher Cross’ 'Sailing' or Olivia Newton John’s 'I Honestly Love You'?

This time the Record of the Year choices include Norah Jones’ fine 'Don’t Know Why' and catchy, if not especially memorable tunes by Nickelback and Nelly. But the nominees also include “A Thousand Miles” by lightweight waif Vanessa Carlton, and Eminem’s 'Without Me.' Eminem has done some OK stuff, but 'Without Me' is to music what spackling is to oil painting.” [MSNBC]

Sorry for the longish excerpt, but MSNBC articles tend to disappear and this one was just too emperor-wearing-no-clothes perfect to let it dissolve totally into the ether without a trace. I was going to bold the best parts of it, but there were just too many. You should still read the whole thing for yourself, print it out, sign it, and send it to your legislator. This is the industry they want to protect??

Rock on, Jim Washburn!  [The Shifted Librarian]

available here

Great Review of CaseMap 4 – by Dennis Kennedy is available here.  A Windows only program, but it is outstanding and worth at least trying out for 30 days.  I downloaded the free trial version a couple of years ago and used it to chronologize the facts in a TRO matter that was going to a quick hearing.  CaseMap helped me so much that I knew right then that I had to buy it.  Now our law firm uses it extensively.  It's worth at least investigating, especially if you don't currently have any system for organizing cases. [Ernie the Attorney]

Law firms that tout their techno-wizardry – I have had the opportunity recently to check out a few law firm websites and marketing brochures.  What fascinates me most is are the firms that engage in mindless bloviating about their technological prowess.  One law firm cites (as proof of its commitment to use of technology) the fact that “PCs are on the desk of every lawyer, paralegal, secretary, and staff person.” One wonders if, “on some attorneys' desks” the PC functions as an art object rather than a productivity tool.

Another firm, whose website hasn't been updated since it was first created, makes much ado over the fact that the firm has HP printers and uses Word 97.

What's interesting about these public displays of techno-affection is not that they are so pathetically out-of-step with a true vision of what technology can do in a law firm.  It's that the firms are obviously touting their prowess as a marketing ploy, which is fine if the commitment to use technology is real.   The not-so-subtle message they seek to convey is that they are on the cutting edge of efficiency and state-of-the-art lawyering.  In short, they are saying “we are diligent and know how to use technology to help you with your case.”  Yeah, except when it comes to that very difficult and convoluted task called 'updating your website.'  [Ernie the Attorney

Law firms that tout their techno-wizardry – I have had the opportunity recently to check out a few law firm websites and marketing brochures.  What fascinates me most is are the firms that engage in mindless bloviating about their technological prowess.  One law firm cites (as proof of its commitment to use of technology) the fact that “PCs are on the desk of every lawyer, paralegal, secretary, and staff person.” One wonders if, “on some attorneys' desks” the PC functions as an art object rather than a productivity tool.

Another firm, whose website hasn't been updated since it was first created, makes much ado over the fact that the firm has HP printers and uses Word 97.

What's interesting about these public displays of techno-affection is not that they are so pathetically out-of-step with a true vision of what technology can do in a law firm.  It's that the firms are obviously touting their prowess as a marketing ploy, which is fine if the commitment to use technology is real.   The not-so-subtle message they seek to convey is that they are on the cutting edge of efficiency and state-of-the-art lawyering.  In short, they are saying “we are diligent and know how to use technology to help you with your case.”  Yeah, except when it comes to that very difficult and convoluted task called 'updating your website.'  [Ernie the Attorney]

great article at Law.com

Deep thoughts on Court Websites – Howard Bashman has a great article at Law.com on what makes for a good court website.  He prefers that the opinions be available in PDF format, but applauds the US 1st Circuit and the US 10th Circuit for making opinions available in both PDF and HTML format.

He chastises the US 3rd Circuit for breaking links to its opinions, which are initially released with one URL, but then (when they are moved to the opinion archive) they are given a new URL.  Of course, he praises Rory Perry for providing new opinion alerts through RSS/XML feeds, which I think is the wave of the future.  It's nice to see Howard, whose readership includes many judges and law clerks, pointing out the flaws in Court web-services. 

I'm not naive enough to think that his article will cause judicial administrators to scurry around and revamp their websites, but maybe it will have some nevertheless significant and beneficial effect.  Courts are purveyors of important information, and the Internet is a powerful communications medium.  But the needs of the citizens are not always understood by court officials.  We want an easy to use cross-platform system that gives us free access to the law, and which makes it easy to hyperlink to the law without fear that the link will later be broken.  Anyway…Enough griping. 

Here are Howard's picks for the best federal court websites: US 7th Circuit, and US 8th Circuit.  The worst federal appellate court site is the US 11th Circuit.

And here are his picks for best state court sites: West Virginia Supreme Court (Rory's court), Florida Supreme Court, and North Dakota Supreme Court.

Congratulations to the winning courts, and especially to Rory Perry.  Of course, Rory isn't resting on his laurels.  He's already got some ideas on how to make things better.  Man, why can't we have more court officials like Rory?  [Ernie the Attorney]