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Showing posts from July, 2009

The Civil Service is in ‘beta’

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I realise that the use of the term ‘beta’ in the development of software has changed out of all recognition during the era of web 2.0, but I still find it vaguely troubling that the civil service is ‘in beta’.After all, even Gmail has lost its beta tag now.And no, this isn’t one of my Photoshop jobs. 

Schumacher to return to Formula One

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I still can’t believe this is actually happening! The legend Michael Schumacher, greatest F1 driver of all time is returning to racing, substituting for the injured Felipe Massa.No matter how excited you might think I am at the prospect of Schumi returning, I’m a little bit more!I actually pondered the (unlikely – or so I thought) prospect of Schumacher returning a couple of days ago when it was clear Massa would not be race fit and I think I described it as “ too exciting to even begin to get my ahead around”. The confirmation that the 7 times world champion will be lining up on the grid at Valenicia has sent me into seventh heaven.For me, F1 has suddenly become interesting again as had found my interest dwindling markedly since Michael retired. I’ve no doubt he’ll be well up to the job, even though he hasn’t driven an F1 car for 15 months and has never driven a car which conforms to the new regs. It should also be pointed out that Schuey has never raced at the Valencia street circui…

PR 101: How NOT to handle an aggrieved tenant situation

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From the Guardian 29/07/09:A Chicago lettings agency is suing a former tenant for at least $50,000 (£30,000) after she complained on Twitter about mould in her apartment.Horizon Group Management filed the lawsuit against Amanda Bonnen on Monday in response to what it claimed was her "false and defamatory" message on the microblogging site.Jeff Michael, whose family runs Horizon, told the Chicago Sun-Times: "The statements are obviously false, and it's our intention to prove that."He said the company never had a conversation with Bonnen about the post and never asked her to take it down. "We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organisation," he told the paper.Oh really? Well, unsurprisingly, that approach has gone down a storm across the cyberspatial universe.
The lawsuit has provoked a backlash against Horizon on Twitter and the wider blogosphere. Horizon Group management has become one of the most searched and discussed subjects on …

Open Source Law Student - Part 1

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For all that I talked up this experiment in the latter part of last year, I realise I’ve been ominously quiet on it since. The plan, for those that don’t remember, was to try and do (at least a phase of, anyway) my LL.M using only open source and free proprietary software. I’m going to split this write-up into two parts, for the sake of brevity.Given the explosive uptake of netbooks – an immediate hit with ultra mobile and cash-strapped students – I felt the experiment was particularly timely. That said, although Linux was an obvious first choice for netbook operating systems, the somewhat aged Windows XP thereafter became the number one install choice of OEMs.But is Linux a viable choice for the average student? Based on this experiment, I would have to say yes – even though the transition might prove a touch bumpy if you’ve been brought up with Windows. What I can safely say, however, is that that transition is the smoothest it’s ever been; it has been an acknowledged trend for som…

Sensationalist Trailers

I think all TV viewers can relate to the corny, melodramatic buzz that programme trailers try to generate, with claims that the forthcoming show is the biggest, best, scariest, most-must-see they’ve ever broadcasted. Nowhere is that more true, of course, than the US.And this spoof ER trailer from College Humor recognises that brilliantly.

Minxy’s Awards - “I’d just like to thank....”

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Yes, this humble blog has been honoured in the first ever ceremony of the Law Minx blawwgies, taking the award for ‘Dynamic Legal Blogger’.
The Dynamic Legal Blogger of the Year Award- goes to Michael over at Law Actually. Law Actually is an incredibly content rich and thought provoking blog, reaching out into serious issues of law as well as the sometimes not so serious when it comes to life as a student. Quite how he finds the time to work so hard on such a wonderful blog AND study for an LLM is beyond me!!Minxy – you left out ‘working part time to help fund said course’ whilst studying, blawging and all the rest of it! :pIt’s just occurred to me that this might be where I’m supposed to launch into a speech thanking all and sundry and perhaps get a touch weepy too... But, I won’t.  Still, in all seriousness, I would like to thank Minxy for the mention, though hope she doesn’t take back the award for tinkering with the award picture.  :p

Dentist dropped not one but two dental tools down patient’s throat

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From Fox News 18/07/09:A central Florida dentist is being sued for allegedly dropping tools down the throat of an elderly patient — twice.Relatives of 90-year-old Charles Gaal Jr. recently filed the suit in Orange County Circuit Court against Dr. Wesley Meyers for neglience. An answering message at his Winter Park office Saturday said he was on vacation.The lawsuit says the doctor dropped an "implant screwdriver tool" in 2006 and a "mini-wrench" in 2007.The suit also says Gaal underwent multiple medical procedures to remove the tools but never fully recovered. He suffered a cardiac event in June 2007 and died a few days later.Meyers was fined $17,000 by the state a year later. Meyers was found negligent in a settlement.As Oscar Wilde might have put it, for a dentist to lose one implement down his patient’s throat may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.What I don’t understand is how. I actually did my work experience at various dental p…

Stray Sperm and Pillow Talk

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As I perused the Times’ weird cases this week, they both jumped out at me as being slightly wackier than usual.Firstly, hat tip to Pooni on this one who flagged this top story up last week or so.From the Times 17/07/09:Magdalena Kwiatkowska is seeking compensation having discovered that her 13-year-old daughter, whom she asserts has not had sex, became pregnant while on holiday. The mother says conception occurred after her daughter received a “stray sperm” in an Egyptian hotel swimming pool. Suing the hotel, the mother avows that there is no way her daughter could have met any boys while on the family holiday.Oh she received a ‘stray sperm’ all right. I’m just not convinced it was casually floating about in the swimming pool. It certainly brings a new dimension to the argument that civil litigation claims are getting ever more fanciful?And for a touch more legal wackiness:A woman [from Missouri] had sex, separately, with identical twin brothers on the same day although neither man k…

Baywatch – Series 1

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Just for the hell of it, I’ve been re-watching a show I used to love as a kid - Baywatch, series 1.For the record, I think after series 1 Baywatch quickly degenerated into an absolute joke. The show was cancelled after the first series in the US and the original creators (including David ‘don’t Hassel the Hoff’) clubbed together to fund and shoot a scaled-down 2nd series. Thereafter, complete hilarity ensued from series 3/4 onwards when viewers were insulted by the likes of man-eating octopi and even more fanciful plots. Enough said, I think.The first series was corny enough, mind; it was absolute cheese on a plate quite frankly. Yet there was something innocent and wholesome about the storylines. Granted, they were entirely predictable, atrociously overacted and added up to create a show that remains very ‘of its time’. But therein lays its glory: I love the 80s-ness of it all and watching it back now serves up a complete blast from the past every time. From one glorious episode to t…

Facebook, Privacy, Risks – you know what’s coming

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From Outlaw.com 21/07/09:Jennifer Stoddart's office has investigated the social networking website's use of personal information and has found that Facebook is not clear enough about how users can control their information or restrictive enough in restricting other companies' access to it.*The Commissioner's office said that the company needed to be more transparent."Social networking sites can be a wonderful way to connect. They help us keep up with friends and share ideas and information with people around the globe," said assistant commissioner Elizabeth Denham. It is important for these sites to be in compliance with the law and to maintain users’ trust in how they collect, use and disclose our personal information*.”The investigation found that users were told on Facebook how to deactivate accounts, but not how to delete them*. Only deleting accounts actually removes personal information from Facebook's servers.* My emphasis Seeing as I haven’t engag…

Dissertation Update

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Yes, in between job apps, work, blawging and all the rest, I am managing to get a bit of this damned dissertation done. I’ve written my first 1200 words so have at least got the thing off the ground.As ever when writing extended papers such as these, my planned structure has evolved  - nearly out of all recognition.  Come to think of it, I think ‘blown out of the water’ might be a more suitable phrase.But it’s actually all quite positive. I’ve successfully wrestled the myriad of disjointed fragments that my dissertation synopsis consisted off into one (vaguely) harmonious whole. For the most part, I’m very happy that I did choose this topic, despite my somewhat wobbly start.  I feel I know where I’m going with it, have got a rough but logical chapter outline and feel I’ve given myself good scope for whacking plenty of critical analysis in there. Yes, the dissertation seems to be firmly on track, people. Let’s hope I’m still saying that in a few weeks time.

Texting girl falls down sewer – family threatens to sue

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From MSNBC 14/07/09:We all know that walking and texting is a tough combination -- but a Staten Island teen learned the hard way when she fell into an uncovered sewer manhole while trying to send a message.Now, the family of Alexa Longueira, 15, intends to sue.The girl suffered a fright and some scrapes on her arms back after she dropped into the hole on Victory Boulevard."It was four or five feet, it was very painful. I kind of crawled out and the DEP guys came running and helped me," Longueria told the Staten Island Advance.. "They were just, like, 'I'm sorry! I'm sorry!"For its part, the Department of Environmental Protection said its workers had turned away briefly to grab some cones when the incident occurred."We regret that this happened and wish the young woman a speedy recovery," DEP spokeswoman Mercedes Padilla said in a statement. She added that crews were flushing a high-pressure sewer line at the time.Personally, I hate people who …

Time to start praying your brother’s a good shot!

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Brings tears to my eyes!

Why (some) Windows 7 usability features are useless (to me)

Video: Doing Homework in Windows 7 As a follow up to yesterday’s Windows 7 for Law Students, I thought I’d post a video I found entitled ‘Doing Homework in Windows 7’designed to showcase time-saving tips and features in Windows 7 for students to be more productive. At least that’s the theory.Now, I realise we all have different ways of working but I have to say, for me, many of the so-called advances in Windows 7 designed to improve workflow, clarity of content and ease of use would be worthless to me.When I’m working, I like to have windows maximised to make best use of my widescreen display. That’s one of the chief reasons why I’ve found the sidebar in Vista (essentially now gadgets in 7) to be such a flop which I ended up disabling long ago. I’msure I’m not the only one who feels this way: I’ve got a big screen so I want to make use of it. Why the heck would I open piddling little windows which obscure much of the content when I could see so much more at a glance and wouldn’t have t…

Windows 7 for Law Students

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Windows 7, the successor to the ill-fated Windows Vista, is barrelling towards completion and is due to be released on 22nd October this year.  Back in January, I first sampled Windows 7 in the form of the public Beta - a release which was greeted with almost exclusively high applause.  Back in January, I didn't play around with Windows 7 for long, however, as I found the experience of relying totally on a beta OS for my LLM computing needs a touch unnerving. The Release Candidate (RC) for Windows 7 has been out for nearly a couple of months now, but because of exams, travelling and a bunch of other stuff, I haven't had a chance to sample it.  Until recently.Running Windows 7 has also been my first foray into 64 bit computing, a move prompted in no small part because of the 32 bit versions of Windows inability to address more than 3.4 GB of RAM. So far, the switch has been totally seamless and glitch free - and I'm referring to both Windows 7 and 64 bit computing here.  I…

Computing for Law Students

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I’ve decided to create this segment on Law Actually to run throughout the summer for two reasons. Firstly, I just love this sort of stuff and I’ve been tinkering about with computers for years. I’m also not convinced that there is a whole lot of material out there in the way of computing advice and tips pitched at law students so intend to fill this gap in the market.Secondly, my time as a law student will soon be over and I see this as the optimal time to pass on my (relatively few) nuggets of wisdom (such as they are) and general experience to all and sundry out there in cyberspace – including a few potential and current law students who hopefully find this stuff interesting and useful. So here’s the plan: I intend to publish a series of posts, starting first with a general look at Windows 7 which I’ve tinkered about within the context of the public beta and the release candidate over the past few months. From there, I’ll write up my conclusions from my 'Open Source Law Student…

Inkjet Symphony

HP - invent from Tom and Matt on Vimeo.
Recent Kingston University design graduates Tom Wrigglesworth and Matt Robinson take 8 ink jet printers and make them come to life in an award-winning student video for Hewlett Packard.
Seriously impressive, although, just for the record, I’m certainly not a fan of HP printers.

The advocate’s Achilles’ heel – cocktails at lunch

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From Gary Slapper’s Weird Cases 03/07/09:That inappropriate courtroom conduct is, though, trumped by the less than effective representation of attorney Raymond Brownlow who was charged with contempt of court in the District of Columbia in 1968. He had arrived in court in the late morning and had begun to address the judge in a most erratic way in front of a bemused client. This exchange then followed: JUDGE: Have you been drinking? BROWNLOW: I had a cocktail at lunch JUDGE: This morning? BROWNLOW: Yes The first thing to draw the suspicion of the judge, however, was the fact that Brownlow was appearing in the wrong case — the opening speech into which he’d loudly launched was for a different trial being held in another courtroom. Sleeping judges, tweeting magistrates and inebriated advocates? Is it any wonder the legal profession has such a bad reputation?

“Low Tech Cool”

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Continuing with yesterday’s theme, I thought I would publish a blog post I found a few years ago written by a young lawyer who decided to start using a fountain pen at work and documented his observations about it. I stumbled across it quite by chance yet found it funny and intriguing and saved it for some reason. I then re-discovered it just a few weeks ago when I was sifting through some old back-ups.I’ve searched the net high and low for traces of this post and have sadly concluded that it’s disappeared without trace. I didn’t make a note of the blog name or URL at the time so only have the title of the post and the content.Monday, August 08, 2005

low tech cool A couple of months ago I made a decision which has led to me being really cool. I have always hated biros, having been taught in school to use fountain pens. But a couple of years ago, they changed the shape of the standard refill and I could no longer get refills for the lovely pen that my sister bought me some time ago.
Fin…

Lawyers and fountain pens

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While I’m certainly not a pen connoisseur, I have owned a few nice pens in my time. For whatever reason, I’ve tended to go through alternating spells when I might write with a fountain pen continually for a few weeks, followed by months of reverting to the ubiquitous biro – and usually a cheap and tacky one at that. Fountain pens are often considered to be the reserve of the traditional professions as well as the more pretentious members of society. Lawyers, on the whole, tend to fall into both of those categories. Throughout my ‘vocational placements’ I’ve witnessed several lawyers using a traditional fountain pen, though, I admit, they are very much the exceptions to the norm.That said, there are some very funky and modern looking pens out there which won’t break the bank either. Michael’s tip of the day: The Writing Desk stocks an excellent range of pens, paper and inks and I’ve dealt with them on and off over the past few years with excellent service every time.During my LL.M I’v…

Orange threaten to fine workers for using Firefox

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From The Register 08/07/09:[T]he corporate world is taking its sweet time upgrading from Microsoft's eight-year-old Internet Explorer 6, a patently insecure web browser that lacks even a tabbed interface. Take, for example, the mobile and broadband giant Orange UK.According to a support technician working in the company's Bristol call centre ...Orange UK still requires the use of IE6 in all its call centres, forbidding technicians from adopting Mozilla's Firefox or any other browser of a newer vintage.This technician tells us that about a quarter of the Bristol staff had moved to Firefox after growing increasingly frustrated with IE6's inability to open multiple pages in the same window and overall sluggish performance. But a recent email from management informed call-centre reps that downloading Firefox was verboten and that they would be fined £250 if their PCs experienced problems and had to be rebuilt after running Firefox or any other application downloaded from …

Grieving Parent Brands Newquay Unsafe

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From BBC News 09/07/09:Parents have urged council chiefs to make a Cornwall resort safer for young revellers after a Berkshire student fell to his death from a cliff.Paddy Higgins, 16, a pupil at Forest School near Wokingham, was in Newquay celebrating the end of his GCSE exams. He was declared dead on Tolcarne beach after apparently falling from cliffs. His step-mother Shireen Higgins has called for parents to boycott the town until action is taken. But the mayor said Newquay ensures children's safety...."Newquay is not a safe place for teenagers to go to celebrate their freedom after their exams, the cliffs are too high and too unfenced. "They are encouraged to party hard and stay out late." But a spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said: "Newquay is a safe place as long as you come here with a degree of common sense and a degree of responsibility. "Two thousand to 3,000 under-18-year-olds visit [the town], however, we have got operation Exodus, whic…

Cow Attack Victim Awarded Damages

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From CPD Webinars 06/07/09:A police inspector left unable to work for five months after being trampled by a herd of cattle has been awarded more than £10,000 from the landowner.Inspector Chris Poole suffered a punctured lung, four broken ribs and a severed artery when he was crushed by a herd of some 30 cows, while walking his dog on the Sussex Downs.
The landowner agreed an out-of-court settlement, claiming that not enough was done to protect public footpath users from the animals.Under common law, farmers have a legal responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of people lawfully on their land. They can also be liable for failing to take extra safety measures – such as the erection of warning signs or fences – if their animals are behaving aggressively or in an unusual manner.While generally docile creatures, cows can behave in a threatening way if their maternal instincts are aroused by unusual disturbances such as dogs.As a child I remember having a run-in w…

M&S to stop explaining and start complying?

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From The Telegraph 04/07/09:Roger Lawson, a director at the UK Shareholders' Association (UKSA), said that the body "might well support" the resolution that is being put to shareholders at M&S's annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday. The backing of M&S's private shareholders – who account for around a fifth of the chain's ownership – could be crucial to the resolution being passed. The special resolution has been brought by the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF), which represents 48 local authority schemes with £95bn in assets. The resolution calls on the M&S board to appoint an independent chairman at M&S by July 2010, a year earlier than planned. Sir Stuart is currently both chief executive and executive chairman. Mr Lawson said: "There is a corporate governance issue. As an organisation we have always supported the combined code. We would encourage a separation of roles."The soft-touch ‘comply or explain’ nature of the …

IE 8 Puke Girl Ad Cancelled

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Arguably the funniest ad ever to have ever been commissioned for an MS product has been cancelled over fears of causing offence to viewers.  The web ad  focussed on highlighting Private Browsing mode of Internet Explorer 8 and featured a woman projectile vomiting in response to what her male companion had been viewing online.  This feature is now in the latest releases of all mainstream browsers and is colloquially (and perhaps most aptly) referred to as ‘Porn Mode’ in which the browser does not store lists of visited sites, cache or cookies allowing no traces of a surfer’s adventures through the fetishist depths of cyberspace to be found by others who use the same PC.The ad was allegedly pulled as some viewers found it offensive which, while I can understand, does nothing to detract from the fact that we can all relate to suffering from that OMG IGP feeling sometimes (Oh my God I’m gonna puke).   Let’s face it: people look up some crazy sick stuff on the net.It’s such a shame MS lost…

Googling with Bing

In fairness to Microsoft, their new search engine, Bing, is actually pretty good and a huge step forwards from Windows Live Search. Having tried it on and off for a few weeks now, I’m continually impressed by it and would say that for certain types of searches in particular, it’s actually superior to Google.Of course, one of Microsoft’s biggest challenges in successfully competing in the online search space is removing the connection people make in their minds about searching online and the name Google; arguably Google is far more than just the industry standard now – their name is synonymous with online search.And this video from College Humor recognises that.  Brilliantly.

Dissertation Doldrums

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In the past week or so I’ve been somewhat troubled over my apparent lack of motivation to press ahead and crack out this dissertation. Although this could be attributed to pure laziness or post-exam buzz coupled with that summer-of-fun mentality that so often hits students, on reflection, I think my ill-timed inertia might be understandable.Besides the hot weather we’re experiencing at the moment – exacerbated by my monster PC pumping out serious heat in my office – I think the postgraduate schedule conflicts with the natural yearly rhythm that’s ingrained in all law students.The final stage of the orthodox academic cycle can be expressed thus:Hot weather + sunny days = summerEnd of exams = summer = (fun + no academic work)Obviously having the dissertation spread out before me for the rest of the summer – we’re supposedly to spend 10 weeks wrestling with the beast – throws something of a spanner in the works. For every academic year that I can remember, the end of exams always signal…