Google turns over IP address to the FBI in a hurry

March 30, 2010

Watch out what you post on the Internet.  In the news regarding a Philadelphia man charged with threatening to kill House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and his family (you can read it here), I wanted to point out how the Feds got their man.

Google, the owner of YouTube, provided the FBI with the IP address of the person who submitted the video and found it to be in Philadelphia.  The video that was uploaded by the guy threatened Rep. Cantor with violence and called him and his family “Lucifer’s abomination.”

While this does not seem surprising that Google with help the FBI catch such a loon, it is still noteworthy to point out how quickly Google tracked down the culprit and sent the information to the FBI.  The FBI downloaded the video on 3/26, and the culprit was arrested on the 3/27.

I’m reminded of the technology used to try and catch Will Smith in “Enemy of the State,” and how I thought that the technology back then was pretty scary.  Today, with Google’s help, Big Brother is a whole lot scarier.

iPhone OS 4.0 – true multitasking worth the security risk?

March 18, 2010

There has been much talk that Apple’s newest OS 4.0 will finally bring true multitasking to the table for iPhone users.  I was a longtime blackberry user before switching to the iPhone, and I still relish in the days when I could have more than 2 applications running at the same time.  When I made the switch, I was surprised that the iPhone only allowed certain apps to run simultaneously.  Now I’m not sure multitasking is worth the security risk for iPhone users.

I read this recent article about why Apple decided not to allow multitasking for any app on the iPhone.

Apple has previously stated that backgrounding apps represents a security risk.  The iPhone’s OS kills apps when you accept calls or return to the home screen, rather than sending them to the background.  That makes it harder for spyware, adware, or viruses to run on the phone without the user’s knowledge.

You can read the article here.

So at the expense of multitasking, Apple has decided to improve the security of the iPhone.  That makes sense to me.  Consider how large the app store is, and how many seemingly suspicious apps exist on the market.  I do not have any concrete data to back up my suspicion that there are dangerous apps laced with spyware, adware, and viruses on the app store, but considering Apple finds it to be a risk, so do I.

So is it worth to have multitasking at the expense of security on the iPhone?  Will Apple make the app developers certify their apps as a non-security risk before letting that app multitask?  OS 4.0 may shed light on that conundrum.  I just hope that security on the iPhone isn’t compromised to satisfy the calls for better multitasking performance.

Symantec’s auto-renewal feature stirs suit, again

February 8, 2010

Symantec’s method of automatically charging customers for software subscription renewal fees without their consent may cost the company – again.  Seven months ago, the New York Attorney General’s office slapped both Symantec and McAfee with $375,000 in fines to settle charges.  Now a New York man is suing the security software maker for the same reason.

In the lawsuit, Kenneth Elan says he purchased a copy of Norton Antivirus in 2007. According to Elan, Symantec notified him in early 2009 that his software license had been automatically renewed and his credit card charged $76.03. Now Elan is taking Symantec to court, claiming the company did not abide by the above-mentioned settlement, in which Symantec and McAfee agreed to “provide electronics notification to consumers before and after renewal of the subscription.”

“Prior to the automatic renewal, defendant failed to offer plaintiff an opportunity to decline to renew the license for another year,” the lawsuit alleges. “If plaintiff had notice of an opportunity to decline the automatic renewal, plaintiff would not have renewed the license.”

Elan is seeking both a refund and has asked the court to grant the lawsuit class-action status.

This story was originally posted at Maximum

Back in the saddle again – Review of Kindle DX as textbook replacement (part 1)

February 1, 2010

It’s been two months to the day since my last post, so I wanted to touch base with the internet community that I am alive and well, and so is this blawg.

One of my law school classes has been chosen for a pilot program with a legal publication company and Amazon.  I have had the opportunity to use Amazon’s newest Kindle DX with my textbook installed.   I must say, the fact I don’t have to lug that heavy book to class every day is a big plus.

I’ve previously blogged that more and more textbooks should be made available on e-readers such as the Kindle.  The day when all my textbooks would weigh less than 20 ounces and would be available anywhere i took the Kindle seemed like a distant dream when I first wrote about it.  Now, it’s a reality.

The full details of this reality, however, will have to wait until the pilot program comes to a conclusion.  I am my own sample in this experiment that will last an entire semester.  From a preliminary stand point, I must say there are serious drawbacks to using an e-reader in place of a classic textbook.  For example, the page numbers on the Kindle do not correspond to the pages in the textbook – a serious drawback when “on-call” in class that may not be so relevant when reading a fiction novel.

Stay tuned – I will continue my review as the semester moves on.

Vote for the Best: The 2009 ABA Journal Blawg 100 is Here

December 1, 2009

Every year the ABA Journal selects the top blawgs from its blawg directory and puts them out there for the viewers to vote for the best.  Blawgs like Above the Law and FutureLawyer are among my favorite.  Above the Law seems to always be the first to uncover dirt on firms and the happenings of the industry.  FutureLawyer is a great tech-blawg because the bloggers review products and give great techie insight on new technology.  What are yours favorite blawgs and why?

It is my aim to get this blawg onto that list one day.  With your faithful readership, someday it will be.

You can see the blawgs and vote here.

OneNote in the practice of law

November 16, 2009

OneNote is a powerful tool all professionals should use, especially lawyers.

For those unfamiliar, OneNote is a Microsoft office program for note-taking, outlines, and so much more.  Today’s savvy student uses the program instead of Word or the conventional pen and pad.  However, I find that few lawyers use the program.  This is a shame, and I’ll tell you why.

Just take a look at one trial lawyer’s experience with the program:

My opposing counsel kept looking at me with obvious envy as I made my argument to the judge why certain key evidence should be excluded from the trial we were involved in. I could tell from the look on the attorney’s face that he was puzzled how I could refer to portions of the record, prior witness testimony, exhibits, case law, and a brief that I had previously submitted, all without a single piece of paper in front of me. The only thing I used was my laptop and a mouse. He sat at a table with loose papers piled haphazardly, manila folders strewn about, and a Bankers Box on the floor, stuffed to overflowing.

When my opponent was speaking, he spent as much time shuffling through his papers and folders as he did addressing the court. Eventually, his disorganization began to annoy the judge. At one point he simply could not find the case he was looking for. He begged the court’s indulgence and promised he would provide the case reference later, after he’d had an opportunity to reorganize his file during a break. The judge was not amused, was not willing to wait, and ruled against him.

from an article by Bruce Olson.

By using OneNote, this trial lawyer was able to stay more organized than his opponent, and it had a direct effect on the outcome of his case.  I use the program almost everyday, and I have found the most siginificant benefits to include:

  • Search feature – you can search an individual page, notebook section, or entire notebook.  The search feature is more powerful than Word’s “ctrl+f.”  OneNote’s search is more analogous to Google’s search power.  The search will display hits for your search in chronological order, and can be cycled through with ease.
  • Import print feature – any document you can print on your computer can be sent to OneNote.  The document will be shown as it would had it been printed on paper, but will be on a new OneNote page ready to be added to your notebook.  *What is more, you can search printed documents.  That’s right, OneNote will comb through the document making the document subject to searches.
  • Clip art feature – You can clip any section from your screen and quickly add it into OneNote.  It works just as well as a way to capture selected portions of a document when you do not want to print the whole thing.
  • Simple and adaptable – Above all, OneNote is so simple to use, anyone should be able to use these techniques with a minimum of time invested in learning how to use the program.  After you have the basics down, you can adapt the ways you use the program to fit your style. Keep in mind that it’s just as useful at depositions or motion hearings as it is at trial. In a sense, wherever you use a legal pad, you should consider using OneNote.

I firmly believe OneNote is a great tool that would benefit any lawyer.  Whether in trial or in the office, OneNote is a fantastic way to keep everything organized and ready to be used.  I’m glad to hear it was at an ABA TechShow.  Perhaps the rage will catch on soon enough.

5 Free Apps for Windows 7

November 9, 2009

Windows 7 is here, and so are many useful applications to enhance your computing experience.  Here are 5 apps that look particularly useful for Windows 7:

  1. Desktop Media – This app will automatically adds drive icons to your desktop. It will detect USB drives, fixed drives (ie. your hard drives), CD/DVD drives, network drives, and even RAM disk drives.
  2. Standalonestack 2 – This app allows you to move one step beyond the new Windows 7 features and create program “stacks,” or graphical lists, based off of a single icon on your desktop. When you click on this icon, you can use the ensuing menu of items to launch new programs, folders, or settings options. It’s like having a number of different Start buttons that you can customize as much as you’d like.
  3. 7 Taskbar Tweaker – This app is a simple utility for adding additional functionality into your default Windows 7 taskbar.  There are not a weighty list of items to play around with, but 7 Taskbar Tweaker’s modifications aren’t normally customizable options in the Windows 7 OS.
  4. Menu App – This app allows you to configure menus and use them to launch your favorite programs, music files, documents, websites, etc., all from the start menu.
  5. Rainmeter – This app provides desktop skinning without a ton of crazy configuration files to sort through.

These apps are reviewed at MaximumPC.  Enjoy.

70 Lawyerly-Apps for your PC, PDA, Smartphone

October 13, 2009

The ABA Journal has posted a list of 70 lawyerly-apps you can get on your PC, PDA, and Smartphone.  These apps include:

and more…  You can peruse the ABA article here.

Bloomberg Introduces New Legal Search Engine

October 7, 2009

Get ready all you LexisNexis and Westlaw users.  Bloomberg is ready to launch a new legal search engine that could give the “Big 2” legal research titans a run for their money.  Bloomberg has been working on this engine for two years, and it should be ready to go at the end of October.

As the Bloomberg Law page details, the engine is an “all-in-one legal research platform that integrates legal content with proprietary news and business intellegence from the world leader in data and information services.  It’s completely integrated.  Completely customizable.  And above all completely user-friendly.  It’s the first and only real-time research system for the 21st century practice.”

Bloomberg law seems to tout it’s real-time news and search capabilities.  You can register for the site on Bloomberg Law site to begin the registration process.  I’d like to have a peek at the software myself, and may be able to offer a review some time in the near future.

UK Court Issues Injunction via Twitter

October 4, 2009

Technology has forced U.K.’s legal system to use the Internet in creative and interesting ways.  The United Kingdom’s High Court issued an injunction via Twitter Friday, representing a groundbreaking embrace of technology by a traditionally slow-moving legal system.

The order for the injunction stems from an anonymous user impersonating Donal Blaney, a prominent right-wing blogger and principal of the Griffin Law firm based in Hawkhurst, England.  The injunction was delivered by Twitter’s direct message feature to the impersonator, so it was not public. The tweet contained a link to the injunction, which ordered the person to reveal their identity and stop impersonating Blaney on Twitter.  The judge, who was familiar with Twitter, also knew of a case in Australia where court proceedings were delivered over Facebook.

The bottom line is this:  Who knows if the injunction will ever reach the anonymous blogger.  There are other alternatives available for the impersonated lawyer to pursue.  What is really interesting is watching the legal system take such creative and innovative actions in response to technology.  Perhaps the court’s decision proves effective and one day influences a judge in the American legal system to adopt a similar strategy.  Perhaps it doesn’t.  Nevertheless, watching the legal system evolve and develop before our very eyes is always exciting to see.

You can read more about the story here.