Monday, October 31, 2005

Support the Commons

Yesterday Creative Commons launched a trio of fundraising badges for your blog or site. You can choose from "$5 for the Commons," "Become a Commoner" and "Support the Commons." Creative Commons needs to raise small donations from a large number of donors to maintain its charitable status with the IRS.

Blawg Review #30

Denise Howell is hosting Blawg Review #30 over at Bag and Baggage.

Liability Issues and WiFi Access

"Hale, Robert V., Wi-Fi Liability: Potential Legal Risks in Accessing and Operating Wireless Internet. Santa Clara Computer and High Technology Law Journal, Vol. 21, p. 543.
Suppose you turn on your laptop while sitting at the kitchen table at home and respond OK to a prompt about accessing a nearby wireless Internet access point owned and operated by a neighbor. What potential liability may ensue from accessing someone else's wireless access point? How about intercepting wireless connection signals? What about setting up an open or unsecured wireless access point in your house or business? Attorneys can expect to grapple with these issues and other related questions as the popularity of wireless technology continues to increase. This paper explores several theories of liability involving both the accessing and operating of wireless Internet, including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, wiretap laws, as well as trespass to chattels and other areas of common law. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of key policy considerations.

Via beSpacific

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Computer Time

So how does you computer know what time it is? Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing points out the tz database.
At a recent meeting of the CalConnect calendaring consortium I was astounded to learn that there is no official body that tracks timezone data around the world. The best information is in the tz database which is maintained, as I understand it, on a completely voluntary basis by Arthur David Olson, a systems administrator at NIH, for whom this is not even his regular day job. This database is apparently the basis used by almost all operating systems and software around the world to keep track of timezone information. And there are some wacky things to keep track of - for instance, Myanmar is +6.5 hours from UTC, and Nepal is +5:45 hours!

The GNU C Library used in GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Cygwin, DJGPP, HP-UX, IRIX, Mac OS X, OpenVMS, Solaris, Tru64, and UnixWare all use the tz database.

Windows has it own time service.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Tape back-up can make for slow restore

My new favorite site Hack in The Box links to a story in Computer World (Australia) about the law firm Holland & Knight in Florida that had some tape issues after Hurricane Wilma.
Ralph Barber, CIO at law firm Holland & Knight in Florida, said Hurricane Wilma this week knocked out several branch offices of his law firm, which often deals with electronic discovery cases in conjunction with regulatory requirements or litigation. Holland & Knight has about 450 servers and two storage-area networks that support about 3,000 users.

Barber replicates data between his two data centers -- one in Tampa, the other in Denver -- for disaster recovery. But the digital tape he also uses to transport information between offices did not help restore systems quickly enough after Wilma hit the state on Monday.

"Our challenges have been putting together a suite of services that will allow for disaster recovery and business continuity," he said. "This morning [Wednesday], the Miami office and the West Palm Beach office [are] down. Fort Lauderdale just came back up about 10 minutes ago."

Barber said that better real-time, online data replication tools would help him set up emergency facilities during a disaster.

Tape is cheap, reliable, and secure, but most tape restores can take many hours or days. If you need to be up and running in less than a day, an off-site disaster recovery site might be a better option. An off-site disaster recovery is very expensive, and probably beyond the means of most firms.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Don't throw you IT dollars away

Dennis Kennedy: Seven Easy Ways for Law Firms to Throw Away Money on Technology. A great post and a must read.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Blackberry appeal rejected by U.S. Supreme Court

Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog reports the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to delay a ruling that it infringed on patents for integrating electronic mail with wireless networks.
A Canadian company that makes the hand-held BlackBerry devices, allowing users to get wireless access to e-mail, messaging and Internet links, failed on Wednesday to get a delay of a ruling that it infringed on patents for integrating electronic mail with wireless networks. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., refused, without comment, to temporarily block a Federal Circuit ruling that could lead to a new court order banning sales of BlackBerry devices in the U.S. and stopping wireless e-mail services to BlackBerry users. (Roberts order came in denial of a stay application filed by BlackBerry's maker, Research in Motion, Ltd., application 05-A-357.)

BBC Shuts Down Internal BlackBerry Service

Slashdot reports the BBC has shuts down internal BlackBerry services.

From the story: is running a story on a little problem the BBC is having with their email. Apparently, the BBC has suspended service to all its executives BlackBerrys, because the server software was randomly sending chunks of messages to arbitrary users, thus showing execs each others emails. Not what you want from your remote-working solution, really.

It appears they were using BES:
BlackBerry makers RIM, however, said the flaw that plagued the BBC was a "rare conjunction of circumstances" which only occurs in a single service pack for BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

The company said in a statement: "RIM has developed and tested a fix for an obscure bug identified in a specific service pack release for BlackBerry Enterprise Server. The bug was isolated to version 4.02 and does not exist in version 4.03 or other earlier versions. RIM is aware of a single reported incident of the bug and responded promptly with a fix."

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Blogger now requires word verification for blog post

Blogger has turned on word verification for blog posts.

Lets hope this with help in the fight against spam blogs.

Blawg Review and Carnival of the Capitalist on one site: No waiting

This week Blawg Review is hosting Blawg Review #29 and Carnival of the Capitalist #107.

Spam filters got your email?

SANS points out some great tools to get yourself off the blacklists.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Blackberry's continued legal problems

Howard Bashman at How Appealing reports RIM's legal problems aren't over yet.
"U.S. appeals court denies RIM's request; Company wants Supreme Court to review patent infringement case": This article appears today in The Toronto Globe and Mail.

The New York Times reports today that "Federal Appeals Court Refuses to Impede BlackBerry Lawsuit."

And Reuters reports that "RIM ruling risks US Blackberry shutdown."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


I received a change of address notice from Summation Legal Technologies, INC. today. On October 17, 2005, the mailing address for Summation will be changed to:
Sumations Legal Techologies
425 Market Street
7th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105

Other contact infromation for Summation (such as telephone numbers, fax numbers, and email addresses) remain the same.

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Exchange 2003 Service Pack 2

Alex Scoble reports: Microsoft released Exchange 2003 SP2 today.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Thanks for the links

This blog has received links from three great blogs over the past few days:

Thanks to Denise Howell at Bag and Baggage, Evan Schaeffer at Legal Underground, Nathan Burke at for the links.

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Monday, October 17, 2005

Blog Usability

Jakob Nielsen gives some really good free usability advice: The Top Ten Design Mistakes

Jakob makes a living for such advice. Thanks for the freebie Jakob.

More on spam blogs

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Spam blogs grow

Cross posted from my other blog: Oncee@Blogger

Chris Pirillo says Google: Kill Blogspot Already!!!

Tim Bray weighs in as well.

Dan Gillmor says Spam-blogs: Google's Mess Harms Everyone

Dave Winer says:
I may have a better perspective on this, having spent much of the last year watching the quality of go down as spam-blogs (mostly from Blogspot, as Chris notes below) filled the pipe with their nonsense, and of course we pass the junk right on down the food chain to Technorati and PubSub. Good news about that, I had lunch with Niall Kennedy at Technorati on Thursday, in SF, and we're going to do some work to help get better data to flow into Technorati. I know how to bootstrap cooperation, even if people don't necessarily like me, I know how to get them to help each other. I'll explain later. In any case, here's something to memorize. Links are now devalued. Page-rank is under attack and the attackers are winning. It won't be long before Google itself is infested. Tim Bray is right, below, it's time for Google to get on top of this. They're both the victimizer and the victim. The spammers found a huge hole in Page-rank. You could drive a truck through it. I was the early warning system on this, the canary in the coal mine. They don't like to listen to me, maybe they'll accept Verisign's help.

So what does this mean for those our us who use Blogger to host our blogs? I'm not sure, but it's scary. My advice is to report spam blogs using the "Flag" button to report the blog to Google. Let's hope Google does something soon like using word verification for posts, or our little blogs will be lost in the spam.

Update: Jeff Jarvis says F the spam bloggers.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The friendly sysadmin

Everything Sysadmin: Always the friendly sysadmin.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Got shells?

Another legal technology blog and a good read as well: Got shells?

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Technorati Tag

I've been playing with Technorati Tags this evening on my last few post. You can read all about Technorati Tags here.

Since Blogger doesn't support tags you have to hand edit your post to look like this:
<a href="[tagname]" rel="tag">[tagname]</a>

I'm not sure I can keep up this practice, but it's fun to play with.

Kevin O'Keefe not impressed Yahoo blog search

Kevin O'Keefe at LexBlog says: Yahoo blog search not impressive. I agree.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Time Matters Software: Top 40 Reasons to Upgrade

Time Matters has posted: Top 40 Reasons to Upgrade, with some really great screenshots.

I work in a Prolaw shop now, but I spend the better part of two years with Time Matters, both as a system administrator and as a consultant. In my book Time Matters is still the best Practice Management software on the market.

New features in Time Matters 7.0 include Calendar Enhancements, BlackBerry Wireless Handheld Billing Records, and a RSS News Reader.

Update Sorry the links to the screenshots don't work. It's javascript, and I can't link directly to the screenshots.


Looks like a great way to track blawgcast:


Blogger for Word

I recommend Blogger for Word for those of you who haven't tired it. The free plug-in allows you to create, edit, and publish to Blogger directly from Word.


Blawg Review #27

Blawg Review #27 is up over at Legal Blog Watch. There is more about host Lisa Stone here.

Also Blawg Review announced yesterday that they have affiliated with


Building a Litigation Support Department

Dennis Kennedy reports:
With the advent of electronic discovery and the growing expectations of judges, juries and clients that cases will be presented electronically, many firms are creating a litigation support department that is separate from the IT department to handle technology, staffing and other aspects of today's litigation. Based on what I've seen, the people in charge of these departments are highly professional, knowledgeable and competent. In short, they are probably more valuable to law firms than the firms realize.

He points to a new book called Litigation Support Department.

Looks like electronic discovery and electronic presentations are not just the job of the IT department anymore.

Monday, October 10, 2005

IT ‘Tude

Ron over at the Prism Legal blog has something to say about law firm IT staffs: Strategic Legal Technology :: IT ‘Tude (Guilty until Proven Innocent)
I visit many law firms as a consultant, conference attendee, or friend. Two incidents are small but telling. At one firm, three visitors, all using different brand PCs, could not use the wifi signal. An IT support person said (nicely) that our machines must be at fault (in so many words). And the likelihood of that is? He later sheepishly informed us a router re-boot had fixed the previously denied problem.

At another firm, I could not send e-mail messages. I suggested to a tech that perhaps the firm’s firewall was the issue. Oh, no, that cannot be I was told (nicely), it must be your machine (in so many words). Later that day, a network engineer told me that indeed the firewall blocks outgoing SMTP mail.

I am dismayed that first-line IT staff blames users. Even if the user makes a mistake, blame is not appropriate. Lawyers are decision makers and if they get bad or condescending tech help, they are less likely to support strategic technology investments. Large firms CIOs who want to achieve bigger goals should make sure they have the basics covered.

Sadly these things do happen. You can get bad IT advice the same way you get bad medical advice or bad legal advice. IT people make mistakes.

We are often under serious time pressures when confronted with a problem.

Sadly a lot of times the users are the one making mistakes. About half of support calls are user issues. Either they don’t understand how to correctly configure some setting, are using the software improperly, or expect a program to do something it wasn’t designed to do in the first place.

Also IT staff sometimes have to research a question to which the user wants a snap answer. First-line IT staff with little experience often times give incorrect snap answers instead of saying, “I don’t know. I ‘ll have to look into that.

Software isn’t magic, and we are not wizards.

Sometimes a problem might look like one problem then require a completely different solution. There is a lot of deductive reasoning that goes into troubleshooting.

On the flip side of the coin, IT staff need to learn users are customers and require good customer service. A wrong answer is worst than no answer.

If it wasn’t for users, there would be no need for IT staff.

There are two hard and fast rules for good IT staff support:
•    Treat users with respect. Don’t expect them to know everything you know.
•    Be proactive. If you have a few minutes go visit users and ask them what kinds of problems they are having. Don’t wait for them to always call you.

Update: Here is another one:
•   Time is money, especially in a defense firm. Fix critical problems quickly, but don’t impede an attorney’s or paralegals ability to bill. Make non-critical repairs when the computer is not in use.

Findlaw blogs

No thanks to Findlaw, I was able to dig up some more information on Findlaw's blog product.

This is directly from the Findlaw site:
For a law firm interested in communicating expertise, connecting with an audience through frequently updated content, and ultimately generating business, a Blog is a crucial marketing tool. Easy to maintain and update, a law firm Blog from FindLaw is easy to operate, fully featured, and an excellent vehicle for exposure on the World Wide Web. FindLaw Blogs include:
  • Professional design
  • Optional news feed
  • Ability to create topics and post content
  • Easy to use and maintain via web-based user interface
  • RSS subscription
  • Links section
  • Archive of entries
  • Contact form

It would appears Findlaw is selling blogging services as a part of their Firmsite product, which would explain the why our local Findlaw salesman didn't want to talk to me when I contacted them about their blogging product last week.

Thomson Elite announces new version of ProLaw

The Thomson press release announcing the release of ProLaw Version 11 is here. The official release date was September 26.

The press release covers New Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Word integration, one-touch access to information from the ProLaw Dashboard, Quick print reports, right-click search for Westlaw Litigator database content, and new billing features.
LOS ANGELES, September 26, 2005 - With a new, easier-to-use interface and improved integration capabilities, ProLaw (v.11) is helping law firms better consolidate and access client and matter information. This latest version of the leading all-in-one legal software suite from Thomson Elite, automates the practice and manages the business of law for small and mid-size law firms, corporate legal departments and government law offices.

"Attorneys and legal support professionals want easy-to-use software that works the way they do - whether that means working in ProLaw or from their Microsoft® Outlook and Word programs," said Paul Stutler, vice president, Small/Medium Segment, Thomson Elite. "This latest version of ProLaw features the most significant user interface redesign since its introduction, to make information easier to access, with more features being introduced in the coming months."

We are running a test version of Version 11 at our firm now. The Microsoft Word and Outlook integration and new interface are slick.

I covered the release of Prolaw Version 11 here and here.

PGP support for the Blackberry

Research In Motion announced today that it is working with PGP Corporation to bring PGP encryption support to the Blackberry later this year.

BlackBerry not dead yet

This story had me scratching my head all day. The New York Times reported on Friday,
The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington rejected a request by Research in Motion, the Canadian company that makes the BlackBerry, to rehear its appeal of a patent infringement case brought by NTP Inc., the patent holder. A three-judge panel of the court ruled in August that Research in Motion had violated seven of NTP's patents.

As part of that litigation, NTP, whose only assets are wireless e-mail related patents, had been granted an injunction banning the sale of BlackBerry devices in the United States and forcing Research in Motion to stop providing e-mail services to all American customers except government account holders.

The story is alarming, but RIM is still providing wireless email at least to my firm. I looked for some more information and found this comment at posted on the same story at Engadget:
Posted Oct 8, 2005, 6:09 PM ET by Todd

Appeals courts only look at the issue directly before them - in this case, a jurisdiction issue. They don't hear evidence from witnesses and such like the district courts on Law & Order do - it's just a bunch of lawyers arguing boring matters from epically long (and misnamed) "briefs." RIM will have to argue the invalidation issue back in the district court, but this whole mess won't be settled until NTP exhausts its appeals on the invalidation issue. It will be years (or at a minimum, many months) before this is over, and I can't imagine a court would grant a temporary injuction barring RIM from selling Crackberries during that time. , as it would destroy RIM and there isn't much downside to NTP (which would be happy just to get money out of this).

I wonder if I could put this into a Schoolhouse Rock format and sell it on CD. Any takers?

So it would appears this case goes back to the lower court and RIM will continue to send and receive wireless email. The issue if far from dead, but it is worth watching.

Slashdot coverage is here.

Update USA Today reports:
The dismissal of RIM's petition by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit does not have any effect on separate proceedings by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. That agency has now issued preliminary rejections of the five NTP patents that RIM was found to have violated in the jury trial. The most recent of those patent office decisions came last week.

It is unclear what impact Friday's development might have on settlement negotiations between RIM and NTP, which broke down over the summer after a preliminary deal was reached that called for a $450 million payment to NTP.

NTP said in a statement that the appeals court ruling means the case will go back to a lower court for "re-confirmation" of an injunction that would shut down the BlackBerry service in the United States.

The injunction, granted in 2003, had been stayed by the lower court judge pending the appeal process. An NTP lawyer said the firm would move quickly to get the case back before the lower court and ask for an injunction.

RIM said in a statement Friday that if the Supreme Court doesn't take the case, the company expects the trial court's final ruling will reflect both the patent office proceedings and the preliminary settlement.

All appears well for now. We will have to see if the Supreme Court takes RIM's appears, but it doesn't look like there will be any halt to the wireless email services provided by RIM.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Lexblog on Findlaw's Blog Services

Thanks to Kevin O'Keefe for the link.

If you notice gVisit reports four visitors from St. Paul, Minnesota, home of Findlaw. Looks like Findlaw took notice of my last post. I'm not anti-Thompson. My firm uses Westlaw and Prolaw. I count many local Thompson representatives as dear friends.

My current problem with Findlaw is the result of policies that serves neither the company or their clients. I hope they work to correct the problem. But I say it again: this is no way to market a product, and I will continue to recommend Lexblog products until Findlaw gets their act together.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Microsoft Hotfix Notification for October


After a strange rounds of email with Findlaw I have to say LexBlog is the only way to go. I contacted local sales agent about Findlaw's blog product, and I was told they wouldn't even talk to me unless Findlaw was hosting out firm's website. Heck of a way to market a product.

Findlaw contacted me after I registered for a Webinar on Findlaw's blog product.

In July, Findlaw announced they would launch a directory of law-related blogs. I just looked at the Findlaw site and didn't find a directory. I wonder if they are hidding it behind the cost wall as well.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

This is exciting news

Microsoft to Build PDF Support Into Office 12

Looks like the next version of MS Office will support "save as PDF".