Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tolley's Tax Deformity - a new disease?


I am slightly concerned about these...growths that I've found on my Tolley's Tax Handbooks...what could be in there?
Are they buboes? Should I be using the Medieval approach of protecting myself with sweet smelling nosegays?
Is it the sign of an infestation of book-flesh eating bugs? Will they eventually burst out from the spines in a spray of paper shreds? Like the chestburster from Alien, but with more glue, and less blood?

I am afraid.

If you don't hear from me by the end of January, send in the search parties. Although I'd recommend they be wearing with HazMat suits, probably Type 1.

And bring tongs.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tweeting in court guidance

If you're in England and Wales, here's the newly released guidance on using social media in public courts.
It's probably not so relevant if you're the defendant though.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A latey, librariany, stereotypey shopping treasury

You! Yes, you! So you know a librarian? And you like stereotypes? And you want to buy them something for Christmas that fits in nicely to that stereotype?*

Well, let me help…

Now, books can get poorly, so what could be better than to let your Beloved Librarian help support sickly books, with a Book Shoe from the National Trust (no, I had no idea what a book shoe was before either).

If you’re feeling flush, you could buy Beloved Librarian their very own mobile library! Of course, they won’t get to draw it around the hills and vales of Britain, or get to give the donkey a funny name, but they’ll get a warm, inner glow of Doing Good. Even warmer if you actually buy them some books to put in it.

Of course, if you’re feeling wildly extravangant, buy BL their own village library. Although for that price, I’d be demanding that the library be named after me.

Etsy is of course a world of weird and wonderful handmade gifts…how have I survived without the book ring? Maybe your BL needs this little black book necklace? They might like being able to use this subtle reminder mirror, to practice giving pointed stares in response to stupid questions, while holding it in the enquirers eyeline...

If BL is just starting out on their training they could need a print of the Novice Librarian. In fact there's reams of library or reading related prints, of varying...erm...quality. And of course there's always room for a granite book in a librarians life, and signs demanding we read (something made somewhat harder when the book is granite, and without words...).

So now you've decorated their home, and made them a Good Person by buying charity gifts, how about dressing them? They'll definitely need their cardigan clips (pearl, if possible) to keep that sensible cardie in the right position over their ladylike blouse, with a proper pleated skirt to go on the bottom half. Shoes are an essential part of any outfit, so give BL a choice. And there's to be no stepping out the door without a book-based handbag. Mind you, they're likely to be short sighted, so will need a pair of these to see where they're going, and all those books they're reading at once will need to go somewhere too. It's heavy work, dressing librariany!

Perhaps it would be easier just to get them a librarian doll? And no, it's not even the Nancy Pearl one!

So there you go: you've got a lot of gift options for your Beloved Librarian here..although of course...none of these will arrive in time for Christmas...SNOWMAGEDDON is coming, don't you know!?!?


*Yes, men are librarians too, but we're going with stereotypes here, so unless they're comfortable in skirts, sensible heels, wearing a bun and a cardigan, they're outta luck in this shopping guide.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Well, it depends...

These are just a few simple words, yet they're almost guaranteed to turn a bright-eyed, hopeful lawyer into a darkly-muttering, frustrated one. Y'see, sometimes there ain't a simple answer to what seems like a straightforward question because it all....depends.

It depends, dear enquirer, because what may seem reasonable to one party, might not be so reasonable to the other party. And no, I can't give you any more information on the probable response by a judge or sheriff to your case because your case is entirely individual; the facts and circumstances in it are unique, and will have to be considered on their own merits. If you like, I could dig out a case from the 1800s that may relate to sheep, or suchlike, but I can tell you now, it's not going to help you one little bit.

How nice a mood I am at the time in can be estimated by how sympathetic I sound when I deliver this information....




Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tweeting as a juror

Oh, it’s all go on the jury front at the moment! First, I’m called up to be a juror, then the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales decides to discuss the topic of tweeting and doing online research while acting as a juror.

In terms of my own experience in a Scottish court, I have to say, there weren’t any warnings about tweeting or going online via our phones by anyone official while I was in the public area of the court, or the jury room. I think there may have been a comment by the Clerk to turn phones to silent while we waited to be selected, but that may be a figment of my imagination, as I was reminding myself to make sure my phone was on silent while sitting there.

Once selected and led to the jury room we were told by the court officer that we had to turn our phones off, and we were to be allowed one phone call to a relevant person who needed to know we’d been selected and therefore unavailable until 4pm (childminders etc) on the landline in the room, but other than that, we were meant to be incommunicado. I did think it was a slightly archaic instruction at the time, especially since one individual who needed to inform her childcarer just used her mobile, as it was easier than finding the number and dialling it on the landline phone! We were instructed about not discussing the case with family or friends when we went home, but nothing was said about not looking up the defendants online.

Needless to say, this “turn your phones off” instruction was pretty much completely ignored – texting and emailing was going on frequently as we sat in the jury room, and people continued to use their phones to do their work (one person was using his Blackberry to deal with his emails, while we sat twiddling our thumbs waiting), while others were texting regular updates to people about when they might possibly be getting out of the court. I was also naughty and did tweet once….to say I was bored! And I was also texting to ask someone to look up the times of the next trains for me, as I was going to see them whenever we were allowed out.

Admittedly, we as the jury hadn’t heard anything beyond what had been read out in public in the court, so perhaps things would have been different if we’d actually been involved in any deliberations.

So, to complain about people tweeting in court, when they’ve not had any instructions NOT to, may be a bit daft. Yes, technically, in the jury room our phones should have been turned off. But when you’re being dragged out of your normal life to sit on a jury, and everything’s put on hold, you need some sort of way to still stay involved with reality. And with modern technology allowing so much of your life to be dealt with via your phone (emails, texts, social networks, events calendar), cutting you off from that without an understandable reason means people WILL just ignore your rules, as my jury members and I did.

If you want people not to do specific things, tell them that: don’t just assume they’ll know the rules and reasons that you do, or that they will be compliant enough not to show some interested thought and actively try and find out themselves, in some small way, what “really” happened in a case...it's definitely a temptation to "play detective"!

You could also clearly explain the penalties for disobedience – we knew we could get in trouble for discussing the case with other people, and that was something that I don’t think any of us had any intention of doing, but there was no hint of a penalty for internet/online activity.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jury duty – seeing justice in inaction

So, I work in a law firm, I deal with law-type stuff…but it’s all commercial law. I’ve never dealt with criminal law, and have no real clue about how that all works.

So, when I got my third call for jury duty in three years (the first two years they exempted me as my current and previous workplaces mean I know various legal types, and may have opinions that would render me biased, but this time I thought I’d go along anyway and they could dismiss me if they felt I was unlikely to be able to serve ), I turned up to the Sheriff Court like a good girl.

And my, what a long, long, boring day that turned out to be!

The juror citation letter said come in at 10, but call the helpline after 5pm the day before for more information.

The phoneline says come in at 10.30.

I arrived at 10.30, joined the queue of other people clutching letters, while we waited outside the designated court for 10 mins.

We all filed in and sat down, all 60 plus of us, and the Clerk of court gave a 5 min briefing on what would happen next/procedures. My favourite bit was when the Clerk said "does anyone object to taking the oath, and would rather do an affirmation instead?" Well, maybe if they'd explained what either one was, somone might have - I would probably have preferred the affirmation, as I feel no burden of duty to god, as used in the oath, but hey-ho.

We had a roll call, and everyone confirmed they were there, it was like being back in school. Or in the classroom in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off…”Beuller…..Bueller…..Bueller?” There was a distinct air of boredom.

Various people, obviously unable to read properly, came up to the Clerk and asked why their names hadn't been called....erm, that would be because the date on their letters was the previous day, or, in one case, it was dated the week before.

Then we sat, in silence, increasingly bored, for 50 long mins, as Procurator Fiscal, defence solicitor and Clerk chatted and faffed, with occasional visits from another clerk and the officer of the court for variety. Many newspapers were read, phones checked, and books broken out.

Then the defendant was brought in, the charges against them were read out, and the Clerk drew the jurors names from the bowl. (I don't understand why the defendant gets to see and hear the jurors names - that can be a bit worrying...as I'll come to later). There was much tension as each one of us prayed our names weren’t going to be pulled out.

After all the jurors were seated, the Sheriff asked if any juror now, after hearing the charges and the names of those involved in the case, and seeing the defendant, felt they would be unable to serve due to any conflict. One juror claimed tinnitus made hearing the discussions difficult - the sheriff dismissed them, which they seemed strangely able to hear clearly enough, and another juror was drawn to replace them.

Then we sat and waited while the charges were read again, and the jury went through to their room, in case anyone else was found to be unable to sit and needed replaced. This trial was scheduled to last 4 days.

The jurors came back in, and as nobody had raised any further issues to the officer of the court while in the jury room, the jury was complete. So, after 1 hour and 40 mins of sitting doing nothing, we were dismissed....to go to the court next door, where a jury was also needed. And also, it appears, where heating was optional. When you’re wearing a 3 piece suit, a wig, and a gown, you may be slightly insulated from the Arctic chill of the room you’re in. Us jurors however, were not.

Again, we sat and waited here for 20 mins as the Procurator Fiscal and solicitors/Clerk faffed about, then names were called for the jury, mine unfortunately being one of them. Of course, by this time the delightful defendants were in the dock: the guy being led up from the cells, the girl coming in from the public gallery seats. Even better, their pals were in the front seats of the public gallery area too...and as our names were called, they made a big point of twisting round in their seats, and staring at us as we made our way to the jury box. Now, apparently at this point they may also have been speaking to us / making comments to us, but none of the jury remember hearing anything - we were all so focussed on getting to the box and sitting down, and doing things right. So, these lovely individuals now know my name, and what I look like? That's reassuring.

As the jury was being called however the male defendant was slouching about in the dock, stretching back, looking over at the jury and loudly saying "this is ridiculous, you're all going to find me not guilty anyway" etc to us. The Clerk then quietly (but heard by all of us) told the defence solicitor to "tell your client to shut his face, he's not doing his case any favours", and after a quiet word from his solicitor, he managed to keep himself quiet.

Then the Clerk read us the indictment, including one persons 8 bailings in the 7 months prior to what they were jointly accused of. I think at that point, from their disrespectful attitude and behaviour alone, pretty much everyone on the jury already was forming a bad opinion of them.

Then, since time had dragged on, it was time for lunch – we were led to a room where we were fed soup and sandwiches with the other juries, under supervision of our court officers, then led back to our jury room, which we weren’t allowed to leave without an escort. It felt like we were the prisoners.

Lunch was scheduled to be 1-2...and by 2.15 we were getting a bit fidgety with waiting for the court officer to come and get us: we just wanted to get on with it, or be allowed to go. Then the court officer appeared, and asked if we'd been spoken to by the boys in the public gallery. None of us could remember that, but we had all seen them glaring at us when we were selected, and we weren't happy about that. Apparently the Clerk and PF had heard them speak, but didn't know what they'd said, but from their other behaviour it was likely to be threatening or potentially an attempt at intimidating the jury. So, discussions were going on about that...then we were told one of the defendants was going to plead guilty. Then they weren’t. Then they would, but only to certain stuff, so they were amending the charges. Meanwhile, we were discussing if it would be overly cruel to hide under the table and in the toilets from Billy the court officer, as this was his first day on the job...

Eventually, at 3.15, we all filed through to the court...where we had nothing to do but sit and listen (and shiver – most of us forgot to bring our coats out of the jury room) for 45 mins as the PF read out what the Crown believed was the version of events (more mutterings from defendant or public gallery - first one, then the second of their pals were removed by the police), then the defence solicitors tried to make their clients out to be semi-angels (despite 1 currently residing in prison for the next 3.5 years for...breaking and entering offences, and having 2 prior violence with knives convictions, and the other being respectfully dressed for court in a tracksuit, huge hoop earrings, MP3 player earbuds dangling, and slumping onto her elbows in the dock when they had to stand for sentencing, with the Reliance officer elbowing her and telling her to stand up straight), then we were told we were done by the sheriff, and dismissed.

A long, pointless day, from the point of view of a juror. I can only imagine what it must be like to have to actually work in the system, and have to deal with this sort of faffing about every single day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I got tired of waiting

Well, 4 days after I’d been told my material would be taken off that site…it was still there. So I sent a further email saying if it was not removed immediately, I would be taking the matter up with their ISP (and many thanks to the peeps who commented, and gave me the info on how to do this if I needed to).

And I got a reply:

Hello,


As we have informed you before, we remove the details. Don't worry. We have

stopped updating this section about 2 years before. So we are checking the

credentials of the articles section with design dept.

Surely we will remove it shortly.

Then, a follow up a few hours later:

Please check it, its removed.

And lo and behold, it is indeed gone…yay!

However, all that other content from other people/sites, harvested in 2008 is still sitting there. But telling all those people is a bigger job than I can take on...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I believe I know the name of this defence

It's called "A Big Boy did it, and ran away", aka "It wisnae us, Guv"

This is the text of the (to give them credit, admittedly fast) response I got from the website that was using my blog post, as mentioned previously:

Dear Sir,

Apologies for the issue.

Thanks for your information. we will remove the same. It was happened

by our operators who has posted about long back. We got permissions from the authors

that time. Some of the posts they have put like this.


Best Regards

Venkat Sure



So, according to them, it was posted on their site a while ago (I'm assuming in 2008, as that's when the posts lifted from me and others were created), and they got permission from the authors at that time?
Well, unless I have changed personality since 2008*, I never gave that permission, so that's no real excuse.

And...as of now, my content is still there. How long exactly should it take to remove my content? How long should I give them, before moving from Slightly Irritated into Quite Irate?

* Admittedly, this is a faint possibility - maybe I had a psychotic break, gave them that permission, and forgot about it, and neither I nor anyone else realised I'd been temporarily mad, and randomly giving away my intellectual property rights...

Monday, November 15, 2010

I am not a genius author

And, as many of my posts can prove, I'm no insightful writer, or awesome, world-shaking thinker. I know my level, and it's kinda low :)

But I do write this blog, and it is all the product of my own, random mind. I don't blog on legalish/bookish/techiesh stuff anywhere else, and I've never done a guest blog post elsewhere either: anything I write as "Jennie Law" is here, and only here. It may not be of any great intellectual value, I get no financial benefit from it, but it is mine, all mine.

So when I found that someone had come to my blog recently via a link on another site, to an old post from 2008 about ebooks, I wondered why they were looking at such old stuff, and who was referring to it.

I followed the link back, and I found that the entirety of the 2008 post on ebooks is available on the site where the visitor originated from, with a link at the bottom to my blog post. The company is SGD Networks, which appears to be based in India, and has nothing to do with libraries, or law, but a lot to do with web development, graphic design, and web hosting. There was no sign that I was the author of that post other than the link: it had just been copied and pasted onto this site. Along with, it would appear, lots of other articles from various sources, all from 2008 as well.

Now, my memory may not be razor sharp, but I'm pretty sure I'd remember if I'd been asked for permission for my work to be used elsewhere. And I wasn't.
My blog is not under a Creative Commons license, so I certainly haven't given freedom to reuse the content I create - it is up to me to decide where that content may appear.

So, I've sent a polite "you did not ask for permission to use my content, please remove it immediately" email today. Let's see what happens, shall we?


It's a long story...

...you know, where I've been since I last posted about going to Australia.

Well....

Would you believe me if I told you that I'd somehow ended up wandering in the port in the early hours of the morning, and accidentally stumbled into a shipping container, which somehow locked itself behind me? *

And that after hours of banging on the walls and shouting to no avail, I fell into an exhausted asleep, only to be woken up when I felt the container swaying gently around, before being jolted across the floor when it thumped down suddenly?

Soon after that, I heard the ringing and clanging bangs of other containers being placed around and above mine, trapping me in the centre of a pile of huge metal boxes. I was enclosed in a container-made cage, on what I had to assume was a ship, bound for an unknown destination with its registered cargo. Plus the addition of an unauthorised, accidental stowaway.


With no way out of the metal box, I just had to resign myself to settling in and waiting, hoping that somebody would eventually find me. Luckily for me, I'd fallen into a container well supplied with Irn Bru and Monster Munch, so I managed to sustain my strength through the long sea journey. In the darkness of the container I soon lost track of time, although luckily the dynamo torch on my keyring allowed me the luxury of illumination when I needed it. Such as when I had to choose between Roast Beef, or Pickled Onion Monster Munch. The Flaming Hot Monster Munch I used to create a mattress - it's the only thing they were fit for, I certainly wasn't in a dire enough situation at that point to be forced to actually eat them.

You will have gathered that eventually, of course, the ship arrived at its final stop, thankfully here in the UK. As the containers were unloaded, gradually my temporary home, with its nest of empty crisp packets and cans was unveiled. I was helped out of there by shocked dock staff, and have been slowly recuperating since: it appears that a diet comprising only Monster Munch and Irn Bru has some deficiencies in certain areas. I believe this may explain why I am still so very pale, and the light still hurts my eyes. Although I wonder if that might have something to do with the little bat that we found I was sharing my container with - the dock workers found its body crushed under a dislodged pallet of Irn Bru cans. And for some reason, I do seem to be developing a strange, strong hankering for...blood?


*This may be an entirely fictional account of the last 6 weeks. Or it may be entirely true. The choice...is yours.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Low level panic

I may be having a minor wobble.

I leave on Thursday for the ALLA / NZLLA conference in Melbourne.

My suitcase is at my parents - we'll not even get into the massive size of the thing, which I have been informed by my Mum that I have to take, due to the fact that I've to take clothes and gifts for my brother and his girlfriend. They live in New Zealand, and are meeting me in Melbourne for a city break holiday. Oh, and also, clothes for my brothers best friend, who is also currently in New Zealand. And wine gums for another friend of mine.

Now, since they're just coming on a short break, they might not be prepared for the fact that they're expected to transport crisps, sweeties, and clothing back home...can you see the flaw in this plan? Can you visualise the piles of random stuff, abandoned in a hotel room due to lack of suitcase space? Can you hear me whimpering as I try and co-ordinate with them, my Mum, the friends Mum, and the girlfriends Mum?

So, before I can even consider packing, I have to figure out what else is going in the case. Other than my mind.

Therefore, tonight, I will be mainly:
  • Throwing clothes in a big blue IKEA bag, in advance of tomorrow being able to throw it in the car, go to my parents, step back, and letting my Aunt, Queen of Packing, do her work.
  • Stuffing hand baggage with important things like crossword puzzle books, pens, MP3 player, books etc.
  • Making sure I have all the conference and accommodation information printed out, and important things like passport, visitor e-visa, travel insurance.
  • Checking I don't have anything sharp: tweezers/cuticle scissors/nail clippers = BAD, although somehow badges which have a long spike on metal on the back = GOOD. Consistency? Nah!
  • Praying I don't end up sat next to the big/smelly/chatty/crying baby/snoring person on the plane.
  • Checking my shopping list of presents I have to bring back.
  • Wondering at exactly how exhausted I'll be arriving at 1am on Saturday, after the 20+ flight time, with whatever random stopover time on top.
  • Calculating exactly how many times I'll have to be patted down at airport security after randomly setting off the metal detectors (Dubai's quite fun - ladies get to go in a mini room, so the men can't see you being patted).
Top tip: never try and combine a conference on the other side of the world with a mini break to meet up with family. It really is quite traumatic!


Monday, September 13, 2010

How to make a librarian happy

First, start with a standard handbook for solicitors, available in many varieties, but for this example, make it a Company Law one.
Give it many, many, paper-thin pages, in order to fit the masses of information into it without it becoming large enough to risk it becoming sentient.Then give it a floppy cover: this ensures that, not only is it impossible to make it stand on a shelf itself, but its floppiness is also contagious, and it'll merrily take out neighbouring books during its slide to the ground.
Evidence: an action shot, taken when I tried to get the book to stand upright for a second while I took a photo. And its normal position/look, when placed on a shelf and left to its own devices.



















So: with those ingredients, you have created a book that annoys the librarian (as when it's on the shelf it's like a limp eel, and a Bad Influence on the other books), and the solicitors (who can't store them standing upright like the other books on their desk, so they have to lie flat / get buried under paperwork / annoy them when they can't find them due to the burying).

To make the librarian happy again, you need to do one simple thing: provide stiffer covers. Then the books can do amazing things, see?













I left them alone, unsupervised, for FIVE WHOLE MINUTES, and came back and they were still upright like that, yay!

Yes, it's the small things that make us happy...thank you Butterworths, for rescuing my shelves from the Attack of El Collapso.

P.S. The solicitors like them too: drawing most comments so far is the attractive dot design.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

In the country of the Always-Connected

The Facebooked-one is King.
So what happens if Facebook boots you off?
This woman is finding out...and has gone to some lengths to get her account reinstated, rightly or wrongly.

It reminds me of Judge Judy: "The people are real. The cases are real. The rulings are final. This is Judge Facebook."


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Checklists for sheriffs

I imagine the first entry on the How To Be A Sheriff checklist would be this:

1: Remember to turn up for court when you're meant to.

Therefore, this sheriff is really gonna be in the Bad Books with the Scottish Court Service...

Monday, August 30, 2010

The puzzled look

That's the usual reaction I get when I respond to the question "So, what do you do?"

I either reply "I work for a law firm", when I'm in mixed company and don't really want to talk about work. But this seems to make people think I'm a lawyer, and I have to explain I'm definitely not a lawyer, but a librarian, and that all sorts of people other than lawyers work in a law firm. So, actually, that one kind of backfires an the -lets-not-talk-about-work front, and I'm trying to not say that any more!
Or I say "I'm a librarian for a law firm", which is what I use when I'm feeling a bit more chatty, and happy enough to explain what I do. And since I end up having to explain my job anyway, I'm using this one more frequently.

No matter what I reply though, both lead to the same response.
The puzzled look.

Then there's a couple of options:
"Oh, I didn't know lawyers needed librarians"
"Oh, do you look after a lot of books then?"
"So, what do you DO all day?"

*sigh*

Is it really so hard to imagine? Is it so difficult to understand that law firms are actually pretty modern places? That the staff, both solicitors and support, do a huge volume of their work on computers? That they have access via those computers to internal current awareness services, subscription databases covering legislation, cases and journal articles, various core legal materials from the Government, sector-specific blogs, CD-ROMS and internal knowledge banks? Of course there are also traditional hard copy resources too: textbooks, journals, case reports, and loose-leaf publications too.

And someone has to be involved in managing all those resources, and doing the frequent research in lots of areas that is needed in an active law firm.

So no, I don't look at books all day long: I look at a computer. And I like it that way.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Your side, or mine?

Feel like going fishing?
Well, if you want to go and fish in the River Esk, which is mainly in Scotland, you'll have to apply for a fishing licence from the Environment Agency in England.
Bit confusing, so there's a test case coming up on the 10th September...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Put a watch on the borders...

Be afraid...be very afraid....I'm being allowed to leave the country!
And not only am I being allowed out, but I'm going in the guise of a proper professional!
I'm going all the way to Australia, to attend the ALLA and NZLLA joint conference in Melbourne, thanks to some fabulous and generous bursaries from the lovely BIALL and SLLG, yay!

It's kind of worrying when you look at a conference programme and think "ohhhh, I'd really like to go to that!". I'm concerned that it may be a sign of becoming grown up. But, never fear, the business cards I've had made up will soon put paid to any such ideas in the people I meet, oh yes indeedy!

It is actually ever so slightly terrifying: I know no-one at the conference, my hotel booking's gone a bit wonky already, and I arrive at 1am in the morning, after waaaaay too many hours of travelling...thankfully I've scheduled in a bit of recovery time, otherwise I'd be sporting the Zombie Librarian look.
Actually, maybe that's the in-look in Australia at the moment, I shall have to find out.

I have also been told to bring back a kangaroo, koala, wombat, and duck-billed platypus....these may be tall orders. Although I am meeting up with a marine biologist friend while I'm there, wonder if he can pull some strings on the platypus front?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Thank you Paypal


For your sterling efforts at continuing the stereotyping of librarians as old, boring...with a secret filthy side.

Of course, nobody you sent this image to in an email about online security could possibly find this annoying, right?

Older, slightly frumpy lady
+
Glasses
+
Standing in front of a wall of card files
=
Geeky, secretly-pervy librarian.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Warning: may include Scots law material. Somewhere.

Ah, FindLaw UK, a shiny new website, for general public access to law, and solicitors. Sounds like a good thing, and in principle, it is.

But I have to go back to a traditional moan: Scots law differs in many areas from English/Welsh law. The Findlaw UK website almost exclusively refers to E/W law, but doesn't actually state this. There are a few references to where there are differences, but these can be deep in the articles e.g the core section on divorce procedure refers entirely to E/W law, with only a related article alongside outlining that there are different procedures in different jurisdictions.

The Personal Injury section refers you to the website of Community Legal Advice, which offers "free, confidential and independent legal advice for resident of England and Wales".

Buying and Selling Property is purely about E/W law, I can't find even a hint of the Scottish differences. Bankruptcy? Alcohol and Crime? Dispute Resolution Law? Criminal Law? Litigation? All English/Welsh, with links to national agencies for those topics.

Only the Law and Government section discusses in any depth the jurisdictional issues, including a Devolution section, so they do know that there are differences. But there's no link from this core information to the subject guidance sections. The few references to Scots law are also often lifted from DirectGov, who refer to the Scottish Government as the Scottish Executive, but FindLaw UK's own material refer to it as the Scottish Government: using the two terms is confusing for those who don't know the difference between the old and new terms for the body.

Of course, a lot of these areas of law I don't regularly work in, so can't be sure how accurate the site is in those, but the ones I do know about seem to generally have no signing or flagging of the jurisdiction of the content, which, if you're aiming a site at the general public, is not a great plan.

So FindLaw UK, if you're going to market yourself as being able to provide “legal information, access to quality solicitors and a community to help you make the best legal decisions”, then please, remember to actually do that. Nobody can make their best legal decision if the information they’re basing it on relates to the law of another country.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I'm not quite sure


Why anyone would think that allowing the Scottish Government to be involved in the running of the National Library of Scotland would be a good idea?

Seriously?

How exactly could putting a sprawling body with no particular expertise in managing Scottish heritage in charge of the NLS and NMS be a better idea than having those areas managed by experts and professionals in the field, with massive amounts of experience and understanding?

*Facepalm*


Monday, July 19, 2010

Curvy, and precious, and mine!

Oh yes indeedy, the magical library card was waiting for me when I got home on Friday, and isn't it pretty?

I have to confess, it provoked Library Card envy in both Lorna and Sarah when they saw it - in fact, Lorna was quite outraged that hers wasn't as snazzy. Sorry Lorna!

Thank you to the lovely people at Edinburgh City Libraries for sorting things out super-fast when they found out things hadn't worked, and for implementing an auto-acknowledgement response for application forms submitted by email.

Library card: we haz it. And I shall of course be using public transport, if visiting the library...


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Slow reading, and legalese

So, it seems we're all finding it difficult to concentrate on reading large amounts of text, and getting more easily distracted from....oh, shiny thing!

Ahem...yes, so...I suppose the techniques frowned upon by the Oxford History professor in the article may well be naughty to use when trying to study and analyse literature....but in legal research, they're a godsend! Databases may well throw up hundreds or thousands of hits when you search for a specific term. Once you've narrowed it down a bit more, you're still left with dozens of articles and cases to wade through. And nobody's ever claimed that legal language was snappy, or easy to skim.

The ability to go into these items and search for a specific word is great: by being able to find words instantly, and get some understanding of their use in the case or article through looking at the context, discarding irrelevant items is a much faster process.

I'm not a lawyer: I don't necessarily always understand exactly what it is I'm being asked to find, and despite being a naturally fast reader, I can't dedicate hours and hours of time to fully go through each article or case that may possibly be relevant to get to that level of understanding. Looking for key words helps me narrow down the material, meaning the lawyer gets what they need, faster.

So yes, slow reading's a good thing, in the right situation, but reading legalese is already slow enough - I'm taking all the help I can get with that!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I wonder if they'll attract pirates?

The online treasures of the National Library of Scotland, that is.
Well, treasure is what pirates live for...although I have my doubts that books would attract them.
The maps however...that might well draw them in. Especially if there's TREASURE involved!

Map from here

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Their forms may be rubbish, but the staff are great!

Staff from Edinburgh City Libraries have been in touch with me, and are investigating what's happened with my missing membership application.

They may have suffered a process fail with the electronic submission procedure, but actually being pro-active and responsive to the issue is a big positive for their customer services. In Mastercard terms:

Form submission not being acknowledged?
Bad.
No membership card appearing after a month?
Annoying.
Wondering what's happened to your personal details on the missing form?
Worrying.
Spotting the issue and contacting the user?
Priceless.

Plus...they're getting e-books! I finally have a good reason to use the public library: it would give me something I want, in a convenient way!

P.S. - the people commenting on that link in the Scotsman are mad.

The Supreme-ish Court. Again

Looks like the UK Supreme Court's having a wee holiday from posting judgments (or as they call them, Decided Cases) on its website.
The last case listed is [2010] UKSC 10, from the beginning of March. BAILLI however has the text of all judgments up to [2010] UKSC 32, this July.

What's going on? Why are cases not being posted to the UKSC website? I can't find if there's an announcement about the cases being posted to BAILLI instead, as the news section only goes back to mid-June 2010, and the archive section only lists information from 2009. What's happened to the news that happened between 2009 and June 2010?

But hey, at least they managed to publish their annual report and accounts yesterday. Wonder how much of it went into web design...? From the annual report:

"Our website
The Court is a modern institution on an international stage. Our website www.supremecourt.gov.uk continues to be a success with a wide audience and contains a considerable amount of information for people interested in the Court, its Justices and judgments. This material includes: current cases coming before the court with brief details of the points of law to be considered: full judgments handed down and their press summaries. The website also has information about how to appeal, the history of the building and the art within it; corporate information about the administration of the court, and biographical details of the Justices and officials."

Uh-huh. Sure.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Nope, it didn't work

The whole "fill in this form and email it to us, we'll send you your library membership card in the post, it'll be so easy!" thing, that Edinburgh City Libraries promised me.

Unfortunately, like Kelly who commented in the previous post, it appears my Library membership application has got lost in the ether. Which is pretty concerning, seeing as my personal details are there. Where is that nice form with my name, date of birth, home address, email, phone number, ethnic origin and disability status on it, now? Languishing in an ignored email folder? Sitting in an untouched pile on a desk?

I'm thinking that a month after sending the form is probably plenty of time for someone to have managed to do something about it. It would also have been a good idea for them to have created an automated acknowledgement email in the first place, to have reassured me that the form I sent them hadn't just disappeared into a never-viewed email folder. In fact, any sort of contact with me once I submitted the form would have been good, since they have at least three methods of contacting me available from the information I gave: phone, email and postal.

So now, the chances of me ever becoming a member are even lower than ever, as I have no trust in their ability to deal with things competently. And the chances of me wanting to refill the same form are even less, due to irritation.

Top tip: if you're going to show how lovely and modern and useful your library service is by allowing people to join without having to take time out of their day to go into the library to fill out the form...make sure the service works? Otherwise you're just pissing people off.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

It's aliiiiiiiiive!

So, we unleashed the UK Library Bloggers wiki into the wild back in March, and crossed our fingers that it would be ok, out there in the Scary World, all on its own.

And so far, it seems to be doing just fine, yay! There are of course the regular spammer attempts to "subtly" insert adverts for dissertation work, and all sorts of less...erm...wholesome products within the entries, but the email alerts about text amendments that go to the administrators of the wiki (Phil, Jo and I) means that the first person online and able to, goes in and removes that material and blocks the creator. This has worked really well so far, and unwanted content doesn't stay on the wiki for any real length of time.

And the best bit is the librarians and info professionals who've been adding themselves to the wiki! I created a backup in March before we "unlocked" the wiki, and at that point there were 115 institutional / professional group blogs, 83 librarian blogs, 5 Chartership blogs, 8 information professionals blogs and 8 industry supplier blogs.


There are now (as of 5th July 2010) 135 institutional library blogs, 90 librarian blogs, and still 5 Chartership blogs, 8 information professionals, and 8 industry supplier blogs.

So, the biggest increase has been in institutional blogs, with a small increase in personal library bloggers.

I will (at some point in the near future) be going through the wiki and checking all the links of the ones added prior to the unlocking off the wiki, and removing the "dead" ones. I'm planning on moving those entries into a "dead blogs" section - I think it's worth keeping the links available, for interest.

So: if you haven't added yourself, go do it now - you'll be in good company!





Monday, July 05, 2010

Mainly unprofessional

So, I'm following some of the "New Professionals Conference 2010" online and one of the tools referred to was Personas, to see what your online presence is like. Or, how references by to and about you online appear visually.

I used my normal online username (it's more distinctive than my "proper" name), and was pretty amused by the results.

It seems that the thing that I'm least of all, is "professional", closely followed by "committees". Whoops!
Mainly, I'm either aggressive, or I provoke aggression, and sports and fashion feature highly. Hmmmm, I'm thinking that there's maybe something REALLY ODD about this.

Wanna fight about it? Huh? DO YA?!?!

;)

Edited to add: OK, so it does a different thing every time then?!? This is what I got when I redid it again, for the same single word username (so it's not getting confused by two words, misspellings etc). Perhaps this is the truer one? More online, and social, MUCH less aggression...but perhaps that's because it's been joined by "military". Whaaa?

Spam, spam, spam

I've got fed up having to delete spam comment posts from China in the comments section on a daily basis, so I've just turned on comment moderation: no more instant posting.

I don't want to have to do this: to me, it kind of defeats the purpose of the comments area - if you don't know when your comment is going to appear, and there seems to be a conversation going on in the comments section, moderation feels like it's disconnecting you from the discussion. You don't know when your post is going to appear, and you don't know who else has also commented, and if they've already made the point you were going to...when your comment if finally approved, it can look as though you're disregarding the points made before you, by others. It can make you look accidentally rude.

But, allowing free commenting means regular spam postings (usually in the middle of the night for me), and the longer they sit on a post, the more it feels like the blog is unmanaged and uncared for.

What do you think? Better to have unmoderated posting, and a few spam comments, or better to have moderated, and no spam? Do you notice spam comments on a blog? Does it make you feel that blog is slightly abandoned if you do see them? How long would a spam comment have to be viewable/not deleted, before you would start to think the blog owner doesn't care?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Happy workday to meeeeeeeeee!

Oh yes, today I'll have been with my current employer for 5 whole, entire years (of course, I started work on a weekday, not a weekend, but lets not be picky here). And long may my present employment continue: I do enjoy my work, there's always something interesting to learn each day, and I have a fabulous and fun boss who supports me and encourages me to explore any techie interests I have. These are rare and wonderous things to be able to say, and I know it. *I am now touching wood and doing any other superstitious manoeuvres to avoid bringing disaster upon me for these outrageous statements of happiness and contentment*

For someone in their early thirties (ok, thirty one, but early thirties sounds much more grown up), to have been in the same position for anything over a few years is slightly uncommon, and it seems this sort of "settled" employment is something that the newer generation of professionals are unlikely to have. There ain't no such thing as a "job for life" any more, but is that a good or a bad thing? I suppose it depends on whether you're moving on from a position because you want to, or because you have to. A voluntary move must be an exciting thing, and I can sometimes find it difficult to keep track of professional friends, as they suddenly announce they're off to pastures new!

So, what are your expectations in a job now? A few years, then moving on? Or staying for as long as they'll have you?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Good design doesn't date


Not even if it's a book satchel, of a style that would originally have been used by monks carrying books that brought Christianity to Scotland.

Hell, I'd have one of them - they're pretty!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Free SLLG member event in Edinburgh

Thanks to the lovely @technollama, I'm pretending to be professional, and organising an event for the Scottish Law Librarians Group. The Mighty Llama himself will be presenting on this topic:

Digital Copyright: The Next Generation

During the first decade of the century copyright law has been one of the most important legal issues when it comes to the Internet. Recent developments may give copyright law a different face for the next decade. From the passing of the Digital Economy Act, to the rise of user-generated content and open licensing schemes such as open source and Creative Commons, the future of copyright is shaping up to present an interesting juxtaposition between two very different ideas about content management.

Date: Thursday 1st July 2010
Venue: Edinburgh Training and Conference Venue, 16 St. Mary Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1SU
Time: 5.30pm

Members should have received their email invite by now, but if not, and you're a member, email me on the address in the contact details on the right and I'll add you to the attendees list.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Knowing when to give in


Bloglines, I'm not going to mince my words here, or break it to you gently: it's all over between us. I don't know if you noticed, but I actually dumped you about a month ago.
I'd got fed up with your lack of attention, your seeming lack of knowledge that I existed...but the final straw was when you went away. For a day. Without telling me about it.
Eventually, you got your idiot friend the plumber (or whatever he claims to be) to make an excuse on your behalf, but it was too late. I didn't trust you any more. How could I, when you left me in the lurch like that?
At least Google was there for me in my time of need. I'd given it a backup version of my feeds long ago...I never thought I'd have to turn to it in desperation.
Look what you drove me to, Bloglines.

Goodbye.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Like a book, but better

Ohhh, an interactive book, with QR codes embedded that links to additional content ! Tempted to buy a copy, just to see what it's like :)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

I got there in the end

Yes, today, I was a good girl, and joined my local library. I've not been a public library member since my university days, and I'm still unlikely to actually use it (and I've explained why before), but having options is always a good thing.

And the thing that finally made me join? Well, they made it so damn easy to do! I didn't even have to go in to the library to do it (too busy on week nights, and likely to be the last thing that occurs to me at a weekend, if I'm not running around then too). I just had to go to their website, fill in this form (either do it online or print it out), and save it and email it (or post it) to them. Simples! Yay for Edinburgh City Libraries!

The card should be posted to me when it's processed, I also signed up to get email alerts about library events, and overdue notices (although as a good librarian I would never get any of those. Honest. Though I would be in good company if I did), so maybe that'll prompt me to actually go visit.

Someday.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Council blogging

So, The Improvement Service (which sounds faintly menacing, and makes me imagine the staff all walk around the office with straight backs, books balanced on their heads and have perfect pronunciation) have issued a guide for Scottish Councillors about blogging and tweeting.

Now, is it just me, or is this a bit silly? If you're tweeting or blogging, then you're at least mildly tech savvy. And if you're a Councillor, then you're probably pretty smart, and also reasonably aware about confidentiality, public image etc. You know what people will be interested in hearing about from you, what your constituents concerns are.

So, does it really need an 11 page guide to tell you how to do that?

I think that 3 sentences on page 7 about what not to do should perhaps be given a bit more prominence, else Councillors are going to blunder into trouble....

So, some top tips for Councillors on blogging and tweeting, from moi:

  • Don't talk about confidential stuff.
  • Don't be abusive or racist.
  • Don't say anything about someone you wouldn't say to them in person.
  • Don't forget that, once something's on the internet, it's there for good, even if you delete it.

In other words: Don't be dumb.



Thursday, June 03, 2010

Not "liking" it

As Andy from Little Britain might say..."don' like it".

The like-that-I-don't-like is the Facebook "Like" button. It's fine and dandy in its natural habitat of, well, Facebook. It's the best apathetic way to show people you care about something, with minimal effort. But when it's used outside Facebook, by third parties, it's not so snazzy.

I had followed a link to a page that was talking about the business uses of being able to place the Like button on external websites. It explained that when you click on the button on those websites, that action (e.g. "Jennie liked x page") gets fed back and posted on your profile. There was also a Like button at the foot of the page, if you felt like trying it out. That was fine: the page was interesting, relevant, and I was happy enough for it to be posted in my news feed that I'd liked it, so I clicked the Like button at the foot of the page to test it.

Sure enough, it fed back to my profile, and that was fine. The original external website also showed who else in your Facebook friends group had liked that page, which was fine too, and interesting.

So, I forgot about having done that until a week or so ago, when I was tidying up my public profile, and removing any groups I'd joined or things I'd Liked that were no longer relevant, or I just didn't care about. On Facebook, you can do this by going into your Profile, and clicking on the groups / interests area, which will take you to the page of any group you've joined. Once there, you can leave a group, or unlike the page you'd liked, and the information disappears from your profile. However, if you've used the like button on an external site, there's no obvious way of getting rid of it. Clicking on the link to what you'd previously liked just takes you back to that page. I was stumped as to how to get the link to this (perfectly useful, professional) page off my profile. I didn't need it gone (it's not like it was anything controversial; it was actually professionally relevant), but I don't like not being able to change things that I should.

In the end, some experimentation by Phil Bradley meant that he could help me out. It turns out that to NOT like something on an external site, you have to...erm...like it again. Somewhat counter intuitive, yes? So I pottered off and unliked something I did actually like, all in order to remove it from my public profile.

Anyway, that ramble was triggered by this "clickjacking" on Facebook, which means those hijacked by clicking a link are then posting on their own profile that they "liked" the site...I wonder if those clickjacked now also have a permanent link in the Likes on their Profile to the clickjack site. Because, to unlike it, you have to go and like it again...which would need the "Like" button to be visible to unlike it, which in this case seems to have been disguised as an "I am over 18" confirmation button.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bustin' makes me feel good!

Found via LibraryStuff, this fabulous video by Improv Everywhere had me giggling! I would SO love to have been there when they were filming! (Direct link here if the embedded one is looking odd)


P.S. Check the Improv Everywhere link for more info, including a photo of what the computer using ghost was researching...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

We'll tell you about privacy...but only if you use Internet Explorer

So, I bought a can of Coke. It had a code under the ring pull, that advised you to either text (for a cost), or visit the Coke Zone website, to see if you'd won a prize.
So, I toddled off to the website, entered the code, and hit return.
Oh.
I got a pop-up, telling me to log in if I was a member, or register if I was a new user. It wouldn't tell me if I'd won anything without me being a member. Which is annoying - I don't mind giving my details in exchange for certain things, but in order to find out if I'd maybe won a prize? No ta.

So I decided to look at the Coke Zone privacy policy (which you must agree to in order to register with the site). I ran into a problem here - when I clicked on the link, I got nothing. Well, I got a page, with a big expanse of white where the content should be. I was using Chrome, so I decided to try Internet Explorer....yay! The content was all there!

So I wondered if it was just me and Chrome that had issues viewing the content...nope. Others said they couldn't see anything if they used Safari, Opera or Firefox (although one person said they could see it when using Firefox on a Mac).

So, the privacy information's sort of magical...for a large number of people, it's invisible. But if you're using IE, it's there.

Needless to say, I didn't register, so if I won something, I'll never know. But at least I can be sure Coke aren't randomly distributing my information about the internet with my blind agreement...

Friday, April 30, 2010

Vanilla and wood, mushrooms and sometimes cigarettes

Apparently, that's some of the scent "notes" to be detected in the distinctive smell of "old books". For me, old books are those manky things that it's almost guaranteed I'll need to copy/carry a big pile of, almost always when I'm wearing a white top. Orange/brown smudges from when they lean against you is maybe not the most professional of looks...

There's even a test been developed to help determine damage to older books, based on their distinctive smell. From that article, I've now learned that books made between 1850 and 1990 are more likely to deteriorate quickly due to the level of acidity in the paper. However, I've also learned from experience that law books, whenever they were made, in the hands of eager solicitors may deteriorate faster than you would have believed possible too. Hello detached-chucks-of-books!

Of course, if you object to the old book smell, the Hive Mind of the Internet has a few tips for getting rid of it. Although I can't say that the smell of pot pourri would be much of an improvement, in my mind. And there's also this spoof "Classic Musty" spray, if you're more inclined that way, or have created a Steampunk style library that you need to smell old, and fast, before all your friends start picking on you for being too modern....

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Library love

So, there's a new website to "Find a fitty", the irresistible person you may have spotted working at a desk, or strolling through the shelving in your university library? That's pretty...innovative.

Ahhhhh, s'all different from my day *gazes off into middle distance*
Back then, in the olden days of the 1990s, nobody had a laptop, we had pens, paper and temperamental photocopiers. It's hard to look attractive while furtively swearing at a machine that's copied a sheet of pure inky black for the 5th time, despite all the settings being fine, a trick usually reserved for when you only having enough credit for 5 copies on your copier card and need to be in a lecture in 5 minutes. And of course you didn't want to attract the wrath of the librarians, so all frustrations had to be expressed in a whisper. Or a note on the back of the miscopied page, filled with swear words. All of this may lead to a red face, dishevelment and generally high levels of irritation. Not particularly conducive to romance, really.

However, my Uni was also well known for having carrels...individual study rooms, lining the outer walls on certain floors, with nice views to the outer world. Lockable, with a glass panel to the side of the door...you know, nice and...kinda private.
In the later evening hours, if you were unlucky enough to glance in the window of the wrong one, you might get more of a biology lesson than you had planned for...alternatively, you could regard it as a bonus, impromptu anatomy lesson.

Meh: websites, removing the excitement from library life!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Bye Bye Bebo

So, the imminent death of Bebo has been announced. I say death, as it seems unlikely anyone will want to buy an ailing social networking website in an English-speaking market dominated by Facebook .

I was on Bebo. For a while. Then I remembered that I hate people who talk in txt spk (vowels are there to be used, in my world), and witter mindlessly about drinking, and clubbing, and shopping. I grew out of that long ago, but it seems to be the main reason for Bebo's continued existence. Being on it feels like a teenage contest of who was more drunk / spent more money / plastered more makeup on / fell over more.
Hence me deleting my account some time ago (along with my MySpace one).

And I'm retreating from Facebook more too: the effort to hide the endless updates from games that people are playing is annoying; I don't need it to suggest friends for me, or patronisingly tell me to help other people find friends; I don't want to play games endlessly - I work; I don't need endless adverts for mobile phones, laptops and digital cameras. I pop on and off, see what friends are up to, occasionally use it to post photos that a wide range of friends might be interested in, then boogie off again. For a social networker, I'm getting less and less social!
Or maybe it's just that I'm getting older. Maybe I'm becoming a Grumpy Old Woman.

Now...gerroff my lawn!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

HTC, you are not my Hero

Dear HTC, I love my Hero phonemibob, I do. I took a giant leap forward into the world of technology when I got it. A phone, that could go on the interweb? Amazing.

But a few weeks ago I noticed something: the end of the charger that plugs into the phone has wires showing, as you can see in the pic. I tend to think that tools that need electricity to flow into them will work best when that electricity doesn't go elsewhere en route, like into me, via those exposed wires. And with time, those wires are only going to get more exposed.

So, I did something crazy. I emailed your customer support, asking about replacing this obviously defective cable. I did it here. This is definitely an email contact form, right? I did everything the form asked, attached the photo, took apart my phone and filled in the product S/N. And then I waited. I waited for an acknowledgement of my email.

Nothing.

So I waited for a response to my email, someone to say how you were going to go about getting the cable replaced.

Nothing.

A week later, I emailed again, referring you to my initial email.

No acknowledgement. No contact.

On Friday, after having given you 3 weeks to reply to 2 emails sent to you via the method they set up on your site, I'm going to go wild, and call you.

Now: can you answer the phone?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A quick question for librarians

Are you overdue?
Do you have any books that you've borrowed, from any library, currently past the date they should have been returned?
Are they lurking, looking longingly at the door, seeming like they want to go home, making you feel ashamed?

This week, I have discovered that quite a few of my librarian friends are guilty of keeping books until they're overdue. Yes, they know how to renew online, or on the phone, or in person, but...it doesn't quite happen.

Is this one of the awful, secret truth about librarians? Do we know the rules so well we have a wild disregard for them? Is it one of the rules of Librarian Club? Are you an Overdue Librarian?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Things I refer to incorrectly



Apparently, in the CILIP Chartership system, the person in charge of supervising you is not your Mental.

And the person going through the system is not called the Manatee.

Illusions: shattered.


Image from here

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