facebook icon twitter icon rss feed icon

Professional Center Library

Serving the information and research needs of the School of Law

Munch and Learns: Researching your Bar Application

If you have not yet noticed, filling out a Bar Application can be a long and challenging process. (If you are taking the NC Bar, in particular, you may want to check out the application sooner, rather than later.) But never fear! – The library hopes to help you with that process! We are offering some short classes to help you find needed information for your Bar Application, as well as some test taking/relaxation tips! – These sessions are open to anyone needing to search for information! The schedule is below (Also, excellent ‘munchies’ will be available! )

 Additional note: On October 1 & 2 in the Library, we will have an opportunity to have your fingerprints done, ($10.00) as well as photos (free) for Bar Applications or any other purpose. Stay tuned.  As always, a Notary Public is available for your Notary needs (also free)!

Wednesdays, 3:15 – 3:45 – 3rd Floor (Airport) Lounge

Wed. Sept 4 -Past Addresses and jobs

Wed. Sept 11 -Transcripts, Health Records & Birth Certificates -

Wed. September 18 – Court Records

Wed Sept 25 -Test Taking and relaxation techniques

These dates will shift to Tuesdays from 3:15-3:45 in October. Can’t make a session, check out the ResearchGuide that has all the information we’ll be covering – Getting to the Bar.

Blogs, or Blawgs, in the Limelight

Blogs emerged in the early 2000s as “personal Web logs” and were typically used for personal communication and writing to expand connections through the web.  While some authors used blogs as a means of personal expression, many companies and professionals began transforming blogs into a method of advertising and marketing. The dynamic information in shorter and more concise blog posts seemed easier for the readers to connect to rather than longer static web information that rarely changed.   Readers revisited the blogs more so than static webpages. While blogs still frequently appear with personal topics, such as food reviews and recipes, many professionals are using blogs to stay current in their specialty.  Since it is so vastly important that attorneys stay on top of news and current trends in their area of practice, blogs are often the most powerful tools to set up and follow.

Unlike searching for information, blogs and podcasts filtered through RSS feeds can be a powerful way of having information brought directly to you.  There are two schools of thought for how information can be retrieved.  The first is to proactively go out to the Internet and run a query using your keywords in a search engine.  You can search for blogs in many of the same ways that you can search for other content on the web, but using the filters in the search engines, often you can tailor your search of key words to only go through the blog-sphere rather than the full web.   Let’s suppose you are looking for expungement information written by attorneys in North Carolina.

Google allows you to filter your search to only blogs by choosing from the drop down menu for “More.”   Once you get the new list of results you can review the authors and blog titles for credibility of the author and content contained within the blog. For example, you will want to review the blog url, which is in green below the main link for the result.  Then you will want to review the date for relevancy.  After you have looked through the results, you will want to choose the most appropriate blog to read first for time efficiency.

The second method for obtaining information on the Internet is to have that information pushed to you, whether directly to your inbox through an alert or through another program such as an RSS feed.  Blogs are more commonly monitored through an RSS feed than through the traditional search functionality of a search engine, meaning, it is more common for a reader of the blog to subscribe to the blog updates rather than proactively search for the updates periodically.  Most common blogs have RSS feeds or email subscriptions attached to their site.  Setting up a RSS feed or email subscription allows you to get a notification when the author of that blog has posted new content.

RSS has numerous definitions.  However, the easiest definition to remember is that RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and by setting up a feed through a feed reader, you will get notifications when new content has been posted. RSS feeds solve a problem for people who regularly use the web by allowing them to easily stay informed by retrieving the most up-to-date content automatically. You save time by not needing to visit each site individually. You ensure your privacy, by not needing to join each site’s email newsletter. The number of sites offering RSS feeds is growing rapidly and includes big names like Yahoo News and, of course, Google. There are a variety of feed readers available, but before we look at feed readers, let’s find a few relevant blogs. Below are a few of the top 100 legal blogs (or BLAWGs) available online as selected by the American Bar Association: (Molly McDonough, Sarah Randag and Lee Rawles,  The 5th Annual ABA Journal Blawg 100, (last updated Dec. 1, 2011), available at http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/the_5th_annual_aba_journal_blawg_100 (Votes for the 2012 top 100 Blawgs ended Dec. 21, 2012).

  • Above the Law  Review by ABA: “Breaking Media’s Above the Law is developing into a legal publishing empire, with streams on BigLaw, small firms, in-house, law schools and legal technology. Blogger Ken Adams of Koncision Contract Automation in Garden City, N.Y., says he’s ‘way older than the target demographic,’ but nevertheless he finds ‘Elie Mystal to be the most engaging writer in the legal blogosphere.’ Adams says Mystal is ‘combative, entertaining’ and refreshingly self-deprecating. We agree.”
  • SCOTUSBlog  “If it’s before the U.S. Supreme Court or headed that way, SCOTUSblog—now sponsored by Bloomberg Law and sporting a new look and community-focused feel—most likely reported it first or most. As Appellate Daily blog author Michelle Olsen says, ‘SCOTUSblog has it all—briefs, argument schedules, analysis and news round-ups.’ And we heartily second Olsen, who enjoys ‘Lyle Denniston’s in-depth, intelligent coverage.’
  • 3 Geeks and a Law Blog  “’It is a vital resource of ‘law geek’-related news, and I rely on it,’ Jan Rivers, competitive intelligence liaison at Dorsey & Whitney in Minneapolis, wrote us. Last fall, the geeks started their Thursday Elephant Posts, which pose a question (What will your firm stop buying in five years?) and post answers from librarians, marketers and other legal practitioners.”
  • Legal Profession Blog “We rely on this blog for the best cautionary tales of lawyers who’ve run afoul of bar discipline authorities. Step out of line in a major way and these law professors will be posting your travails to the world. There is other more erudite content as well, but we’re in it for the schadenfreude.”

Keep in mind that these blogs are not exhaustive and that you can find more appropriate or directly relevant blogs by searching on the search engine and filtering your results to just display blogs.

Once you have decided that you want to follow a particular blog, you need to subscribe to it, either through a RSS feed reader or through email alerts.  Most blogs do not offer email subscriptions for notifications for new posts, but rather allow you to subscribe to the blog through a RSS reader.  Listed below are popular free and pay-for RSS Feed readers available:

  • NewsCrawler ($) This RSS feed reader gathers content from each source that you choose and displays them in various views, from a list to a news ticker on your screen.
  • NewsGator ($) A Sharepoint product that integrates with Outlook to collect and manage feeds from outside sources.
  • FeedReader  A free RSS news program that allows you to review your feeds from any web browser on any device.  It is an open source product that is cloud-based.
  • My Yahoo  or iGoogle Customizable webpage for you browser and allows you to add only specific information to that page.
  • Bloglines Allows you to track your favorite websites and blogs in real-time within a specific region of the country, if you choose.
  • GoogleReader Organizes your RSS Feeds in a clean and easy-to-use interface. Connects with your gmail account. Web-based. (Has been discontinued as of July 2013).
  • FeedDemon Allows you to sync with GoogleReader, tag the blogs and items with your own keywords, stores podcasts, and sets up alerts for keywords specific to your query.

 

 

 

 

Search Engines in the limelight

A search engine is defined as “a program for the retrieval of data, files, or documents from a database or network.”  The most common type of search engines was developed to search, what we term, the Internet.  Though within academic and other databases, such as Ebsco, there are search engines to search the content within the database holdings.  You may be familiar with Westlaw and LexisNexis; they both have internal search engine programs that search the content behind the password wall.

I used a search engine to help me find the above-mentioned definition.  I used Google.  That is my search engine of choice.  However, there are a quite a few other well-known search engines, such as Dogpile, Yahoo!, or Bing.  Did you know that there were over 150 different types of search engines available to search for web content?  So rather than looking at one particular search engine as a one-stop-shop location for all resources available online, you might consider choosing your search engine, or engines, by what type of resources you are looking to review.  There are two ways to evaluate search engines:

(1) by content, meaning what they are searching, and

(2) by how the information is compiled that they are searching, meaning that you are searching within a directory versus an index.

Search engines can be broken down into different categories of expertise for searching.   You might consider the following categories in determine what you’re looking for in your search: Blog Search Engines; Book Search Engines; Business Search Engines; Forum Search Engines; Image and Multimedia Search Engines; International Search Engines; Job Search Engines; Legal and Law Enforcement Search Engines; Map Search Engines; Medical Search Engines; News Search Engines; People Search Engines; Price/Shopping Search Engines; and Social Search Engines.[i]  Specific search engines may be better suited for one type of search over another.  For example, if you were looking for someone’s phone number, you might want to use a people search engine versus a social media search engine, which would give you any Facebook, Twitter, MySpace information over actual phone numbers and addresses.

Another factor in considering which search engine you want to use is to evaluate how that search engine searches for information.  You might consider whether the search engine is human-powered directory, searching the invisible or deep web, or is an all-purpose crawler search engine.  Here are the differences.  Human-powered search engines are also known as web directories, which is an index that is compiled by humans.  Humans add links that they determine to be high quality to a directory, and when you run a search using this human-driven search engine, you are searching that directory of links for information relevant to your query.  The following list includes human-based search engines:

  • Mahalo (Web directory that uses human editors and displays the results beside a Google search)
  • Eurekster Swickis (Web directory that you create and have complete control over. Still in Beta form).
  • Open Directory ( The “largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web. It is constructed and maintained by a vast, global community of volunteer editors.”[ii] The Open Directory project is also known as DMOZ, or Directory Mozilla.)
  • Yahoo!Search Directory (“The Yahoo Directory is a human-created and maintained library of web sites organized into categories and subcategories. Yahoo editors review these sites for potential inclusion in the Directory, and to evaluate the best place to list them.”[iii])

All-purpose search engines that use crawlers, such as Google, search information a bit differently.  Rather than having humans add information and links to an index, a company, such as Google, runs a program (also known as a spider) that follows links throughout the Internet.  While it is following, or crawling, through the web, the program is grabbing information from websites and adding it to an index. Additionally, “the crawler doesn’t rank the pages, it only goes out and gets copies which it stores, or forwards to the search engine to later index and rank according to various aspects.”[iv]

Figure 1: How Google Search Works[v]

So basically, when you run a search on an all-purpose crawler search engine, you are not actually searching the web, you are searching the index that the particular company’s crawlers have picked up and added to  theindex.  You are searching that index. The following list of search engines are just a few that use crawlers to add information to their internal index that you can search:

  • Google (The ranking #1 all-purpose search engine)
  • Yahoo! (A combined search engine and web directory and compiles results from both services)
  • MSN Search
  • AOL (Easy to use platform that users often start off with early in their web searching careers)
  • Ask.com

Search engines that search the invisible, or deep, web refers to search engines that search inside of databases and other sites that are generally overlooked by crawlers that create search engine indexes.  The term invisible web includes much more information that can be reached through crawler search engines, therefore there are often more powerful search engines to use for mining for that valuable, yet often missed, information. The following list of deep-web search engines may prove useful to you in those hard to reach inquiries for web content:

  • The Internet Archive (A database that provides access to multimedia, including music, audio, movies as well as print materials.)
  • Scirus (A science search engine that searches over 379 million science-specific web pages, including scientific journals websites, and other science-related resources)
  • USA.gov (A government website that includes links to the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian and all the agencies.
  • Clusty
  • GoogleScholar (Searches university repositories, journal publishers, author webpages, and other databases)

There are numerous ways to search for the web content of the web.  Understanding how the search engine works and what the search engine is searching for will help you become a better researcher using the web.  Please keep this in mind as you bookmark your favorite search engine, there may be a bigger net to cast in the sea of information available to you, and you don’t want to throw out a smaller one that doesn’t get the job done. Try not to limit yourself, or your results, by using the appropriate search engine for the task.



[i] About.com, The Search Engine List: A Comprehensive List of Search Engines You Can Use, (last accessed Dec. 17, 2012) available at http://websearch.about.com/od/enginesanddirectories/tp/search-engine-list.htm.

 

[ii] DMOZ Open Directory Project, About the Open Directory Project,(last accessed Dec. 17, 2012), available at http://www.dmoz.org/docs/en/about.html.

 

[iii] Yahoo!, How does the Yahoo! Directory Differ from Yahoo! Search?, (last accessed Dec. 17, 2012), available at http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/directory/basics/basics-03.html;_ylt=Aj.gU1J7MAqRR.OEQquMUWBGkiN4.

 

[iv] Loren Baker, Anatomy of a Search Engine Crawler, Search Engine Journal, Sept. 21, 2005, available at http://www.searchenginejournal.com/anatomy-of-a-search-engine-crawler/2230/.

 

[v] Nishant Pinto, How Google Search Works, Digital Lifestyle: All That You Need to Know, posted on Nov. 24, 2012, available at http://nishantpinto.blogspot.com/2012/11/how-google-search-works.html.

 

Holiday Safety Tips from Officer D

Just a few safety reminders as you get ready to leave for winter recess:

-  Always lock your homes and leave a light on when you leave.

-  Do no leave valuable items out in highly visible areas in your house or apartment or, if possible, take them with you during your holiday travel.

-  Always lock your vehicle when shopping.

-  Place all recent purchases in the trunk of your vehicle or out of view.

-  Always try to park in open well lit areas.

-  Create a mental checklist when purchasing any items.

* Did you get the receipt?
* Did you get your credit or debit card back?
* Did you get correct change?
* Do you have your entire purchase?

-  Carry your cell phone and keep it easily accessible.

-  Have your keys ready when you get to your vehicle.

Here’s wishing you a safe, enjoyable, and well-deserved Holiday Break.

Legalizing Marijuana (Medical and Recreational) In The Limelight

We’ve all read the news articles and popular journals analyzing the past election, but have you seen the other notable propositions that have passed with this election? Here’s a visual recap of what happened in the 2012 election:

What’s In YOUR Office?

What do you think most person think of when you say the words “law professor?”  Someone serious, scholarly and who does not engage in frivolous behavior?  Someone more like

THIS 

than THIS?  

Well, we might not have any tricycle riding academics here at Wake Forest, but we do have some professors with some lighthearted interest and collections; a few of which fit in very well with it being Halloween.

Our newest ghoul to the school is Professor Tanya March.  Her research areas include …………and recent Huff post pst about using the internet to sell human remains  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tanya-d-marsh/laws-permitting-human-remains_b_1769082.html

Not only does she have interesting tastes in leisure reading, 

her office is home to a collection of Lego zombies,  ghosts, and other creatures of the night. 

And have you ever quickly passed Prof. Newman’s office and wondered who is that short kid with the bad haircut sitting in one of the guest chairs? Not a kid at all, that is Bull, Professor Newman’s gorilla and gift from former students.  I’ll leave it to you to determine why Bull was such an appropriate offering for a tax professor.

 

If a large stuffed gorilla is not interesting enough, you might find the skull shaped humidor more in the Halloween tradition.  While there is no indication that it is one of the rare Weller pieces as seen on Antiques Roadshow, it’s creepy factor is in no way diminished by its lack of origin.

Well, what is the logical follow up to an empty skull?  Brains of course! A visit to Prof. Eggert’s office can fill that demand.  There you will find a select but worthy collection of cranial contents.   Her first item in the collection was given to her by a student and is labeled “Fresh Law Student Brain.  That was the point where she decided that “lots of people collect teddy bears or angels, but how many collect brains?”  How many indeed; although one must admit, where better to have a spare brain then in law school?

Every BODY Researches: Even Zombies?

Over the past decade zombies have become quite popular in video games, books (Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies and The Zombies of Lake Woebegotten are two of the more unusual titles), and television.  At Quora.com this rise in zombie popularity is discussed and arguments bolstered with charts and graphs. One of the major networks has even reported on this phenomenon.  But did you know that zombies have invaded our legal system as well?  No, I’m not talking about that one judge on the bench who seems to be dead (he is just falling asleep, really) but about the various appearances that zombies have made in federal agency materials, debt fraud, and even in the academic environment in the areas of tax and constitutional law.

 

YES

NO!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most, if not all, of us are familiar with Benjamin Franklin’s quote that nothing in life is certain but “death and taxes.”  However, it seems that Ben may have been wrong, or at least half wrong. According to one legal scholar, the undead may still have to pay taxes.   It doesn’t seem quite fair does it?  While being dead is generally not something most of the living anticipate, I’d imagine we would all agree that the avoidance of certain things such as having to wake up early, attend meetings, or fill out tax forms are all some “pluses” of being “nonviable.”   Leave it to the IRS to take away one of these few comforts for the viability-challenged. According to Professor Adam Chodorow, in the event of a zombie apocalypse there are unanswered tax questions. These include must zombies pay employment taxes, are zombies considered dead when it comes to inheritance and death taxes, and even more confusing. what to do if  a person is determined  dead under state law, but not for federal tax purposes?  Discussion of these questions, as well as a history on how zombies are created, may be found in Professor Chodorow’s law review article Death and Taxes and Zombies –Iowa Law Review — (2012).  You may also read an excerpt from the article on the Law and the Multiverse blog.

Well this has nothing to do me you think, (with your delicious brain).  I am only a law student so, with the expectation of fellow students at exam time, I have a year or two before I have to worry about the undead.  You could not be more wrong.  Imagine being in your ConLaw class and having to consider if the next leader of our country could be a “Zombie in Chief?”  If you were in Cornell Professor Mike Dorf’s class you could have found yourself facing a test featuring a reanimated President Lincoln and the Defense of Brains Act (DOBA).

Despite the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a federal agency under the authority of  the Department of Health and HUMAN Services, less than two years ago the CDC provided guidance on how to prepare for a Zombie Apocalypse.   Not only does it provide instructions on how to prepare for and survive and attack, it also provides links to a related descriptive graphic novel and zombie preparedness buttons.  For those interested in the CDC’s legal authority to issue zombie related survival guidelines, might wish to visits the Zombie Squad‘s (We Make Dead Things Deader) informative discussion on the matter, complete with citations to relevant U.S. Code sections.

Perhaps the most important zombie related information for students is knowing how to recognize and kill “Zombie Debt?”  It is not uncommon for companies to sell some of  their debts to collection agencies.  Sometimes debts are sold to multiple buyers or information regarding payment of a debt to one agency is not included when the debt is picked up by another agency.  This poor record keeping can revive a debt that has been settled in bankruptcy or that was incurred due to identity  theft.  When this happens a person can start receiving multiple demands for payment for same, possibly nonexistent, debt.   The NPR show Marketplace Money has discussed this topics and Forbes magazine provided some advice on how to chop the head off zombie debt.

The Bar-nival is coming! The Bar-nival is coming!

The Bar-nival is coming on Tuesday, October 23 and Wednesday, October 24 from 9:30 am – 2:30 pm in the Professional Center Library Rotunda.  What the heck is a Bar-nival?  Open to all law students, it is like a Carnival, but it is aimed at helping 3L students get their Bar application requirements started (or completed) in a fun atmosphere!  Bar applications are very long and detailed, requiring applicants to go many places to get various parts completed.  The Bar-nival will be a place where one can get many of these tasks completed in one place. We will have a “booth” where students can get their picture taken for free, a place for getting fingerprints done ($10.00 for up to 3 sets – cash or check) a free notary service available, Career Services will be present, as well as Kaplan, and Barbri to let you know about their Bar review courses.  We will also have free Popcorn as well as a Wheel of Fabulous Fortune where students can spin and win Fabulous prizes!   If you are a 3L, you definitely don’t want to miss out on this opportunity to get a jump on your Bar application.  If you are a 1L or a 2L, be sure to stop by for Popcorn, a spin on the Wheel of Fabulous Fortune, a photo opportunity (which can also be used for Passports or Grandma), as well as a chance to visit our various partners.

The fun doesn’t end with Bar-nival, though. Thursday October 25th, from noon to 1, the library will host it’s 2nd annual Halloween costume contest! Participants will be judged by a small team of library and law school faculty and staff who will pick the funniest, most creative, and best law themed costumes. The overall winner of these three will win an iPod, donated by Lexis Nexis, and the runner-ups will receive Starbucks gift cards! This contest is open to all law students, and the SBA will be there so you can pick up your admission and drink bracelets for the annual SBA Halloween party as well.

It’s going to be a very festive week in the library, so make sure you stop by and see the fun!

Cloud Storage in the Limelight

With so many options out there to store and share files, folders, and pictures, how do you choose?  It can be quite overwhelming.  The programs are changing daily.  New services are being formed every week.  Companies are updating and expanding services.  And then once you’ve choosen a service to either back up your files, or share them with your friends and family, how do you know there isn’t a more effecient program living out on the web waiting for you to discover it?

Let’s start with the basics, what is cloud storage? “Comedian George Carlin has a routine in which he talks about how humans seem to spend their lives accumulating ‘stuff.’ Once they’ve gathered enough stuff, they have to find places to store all of it. If Carlin were to update that routine today, he could make the same observation about computer information.  It seems that everyone with a computer spends a lot of time acquiring data and then trying to find a way to store it.  For some computer owners, finding enough storage space to hold all the data they’ve acquired is a real challenge. Some people invest in larger hard drives. Others prefer external storage devices like thumb drives or compact discs. Desperate computer owners might delete entire folders worth of old files in order to make space for new information. But some are choosing to rely on a growing trend: cloud storage.” (How Cloud Storage Works).

“While cloud storage sounds like it has something to do with weather fronts and storm systems, it really refers to saving data to an off-site storage system maintained by a third party. Instead of storing information to your computer’s hard drive or other local storage device, you save it to a remote database. The Internet provides the connection between your computer and the database.”  See How Cloud Storage Works for a more in-depth explanation on how information is stored in the cloud. Services like Drobox, Droplr, Box, Sugarsync, CX, Mozy, and 4Sync emerged on the market to tackle the growing need for cloud storage.  There are a few well known services that compete in the cloud storage arena that you may not initially think about:

  • Google Docs allows users to upload documents, spreadsheets, presentations and other files  to Google‘s data servers. Users can collaborate with colleagues and edit files using a Google application, and can also publish documents so that other people can read them or even make edits.  Since you can use these files collaboratively with others, such as colleagues or friends, Google Docs is also an example of cloud computing.
  • Web-based e-mail providers like Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail store e-mail messages on their own servers, which allows them to fall under the cloud storage category. Users can access their e-mail from computers and other devices connected to the Internet.
  • Sites like Flickr and Picasa host millions of digital photographs. Users create online photo albums by uploading pictures directly to the services’ servers.
  • YouTube, as you may already be familiar with, hosts millions of user-uploaded video files.
  • Thinking of making your own website? Some of those are also examples of cloud storage because the company hosts the files and data on their servers for their clients.  Think of website hosting companies, such as StartLogic, Hostmonster and GoDaddy.
  • Social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace allow members to post pictures and other content. All of that content, even though being the subject of public debate, is stored on the respective site’s servers. News Update – “Facebook Integrates with Dropbox to Power File-sharing within Facebook Groups
But those services have also evolved into more comprehensive and specific cloud storage systems, which include:
  • Dropbox introduced cloud storage to the masses, with its simple approach to cloud storage and synchronization – a single magic folder that follows you everywhere. Dropbox deserves credit for being a pioneer in this space and the new Google Drive and SkyDrive both build on the foundation that Dropbox laid.
  • Google Drive is the evolution of Google Docs, which already allowed you to upload any file – Google Drive bumps the storage space up from 1 GB to 5 GB, offers desktop sync clients, and provides a new web interface and APIs for web app developers.
  • Microsoft released a revamped SkyDrive the day before Google Drive launched, but Google Drive stole its thunder. Nevertheless, SkyDrive is now a compelling product, particularly for people into Microsoft’s ecosystem of Office web appsWindows Phone, and Windows 8, where it’s built into Metro by default.
  • SugarSync is a popular alternative to Dropbox. It offers a free 5 GB of storage and it lets you choose the folders you want to synchronize – a feature missing in the above services, although you can use some tricks to synchronize other folders. SugarSync also has clients for mobile platforms that don’t get a lot of love, including Symbian, Windows Mobile, and Blackberry (Dropbox also has a Blackberry client).
  • Amazon also offers their own cloud storage service, known as Amazon Cloud Drive. There’s one big problem, though – there’s no official desktop sync client. Expect Amazon to launch their own desktop sync program if they’re serious about competing in this space. If you really want to use Amazon Cloud Drive, you can use a third-party application to access it from your desktop.

(From: “The Cloud Storage Showdown — Dropbox, GoogleDrive, SkyDrive, SugarSync, and Amazon Cloud Drive”)

So which one do you choose? In comparing these services, you need to ask yourself what you will be using it for?  Will it be for purely storage? If so, how much space do you need? Will you be working on these files in multiple locations, so that you need to have your files sync between the cloud and your computer? Do you want to be able to share your files publicly? Sometimes you may wish to upload a file or link via your email, is that an option you would like to have in a cloud storage system? Do you want to be able to access your files through a web browser, such as Chrome, as well as through an application?  Does it matter if you only have a PC? Or only own a Mac? Will the service work on both systems? Does the service have a mobile application so you can use it through your iPad, tablet, iPhone or Droid?  How much does it cost for additional storage?  Sometimes these services allow you to earn more storage through your interactivity with it.  These are all questions that you will need to ask yourself as you begin to explore the option of using cloud storage.  Once you find a software that you believe meets your criteria, try it out and see if it truly does make you more efficient.

These systems are as helpful to you as you let them be, meaning, if you use it regularly then you will find new uses for the cloud storage.  If you want it to merely be a back up, then you aren’t optimizing your cloud storage service. Think about this, imagine you are working on a paper with a colleague, or a group project.  Each of you needs access to the most up-to-date documents.  If you store the documents in the cloud, and share it with each other, then you both can work on the document without having to exchange emails with attachments of different versions of the same document.  Rather than having multiple documents representing each version, imagine sharing one document that houses all the changes you and your colleagues made throughout the process.  It makes life simpler.

All that being said, you may be old school and still using CDs to back up and store data.  If so, here are a few helpful tips from “It’s all Geek to Me.

U-Who? U-ELMO? No – UELMA, the Uniform Electronic Legal Materials Act

Last week California became the second state, after Colorado, to enact the Uniform Electronic Legal Materials Act (UELMA, often pronounced “You, Elma!” by promoters). What is UELMA, and why is its passage worth celebrating?

It should come as no surprise to anyone in the law school community that government agencies commonly make legal materials available on websites. Some agencies are even discontinuing long standing practices of publishing materials in print. While no one would argue that online access is a bad thing, it does pose a problem for some types of materials. Most information posted online is technologically left open to malicious attack or mischievous tinkering. Even Adobe documents (PDFs) can be easily altered with commonly available software.

The federal government has addressed this issue through the Government Printing Office. The GPO has started using a technological process to “authenticate” material posted on their FDsys information gateway. (A prior blog post discussed authentication at length.) But what about state materials? Up until now, this issue has been handled – or ignored – on a state-by-state basis. Enter the Uniform Laws Commission!

Starting in 2009, a study group convened to draft a uniform law that would require states to authenticate, preserve, and make accessible state-based legal materials electronically. The goal was to bring online legal material to “the same level of trustworthiness traditionally provided by publication in a law book.” This “technology neutral” law does not specify the technology that is to be used, so its requirements can be satisfied by different types of software as technology changes. The adoption of this law in two states, following the leadership of the GPO, is a start to bringing the best of book-based legal information to electronically-provided legal materials.

Several states have plans for enactment in 2013; DC, Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Nevada. Hopefully North Carolina will join the list as well!