From Written To Oral – Blog to Podcast the iTunes Way

Mashable has this great how-to article on modding your blog to podcast via text-to-speech conversion. The article highlights Odiogo, but lists a number of alternatives providing similar services. In Odiogo, your posts can be heard from a website or within iTunes, downloadable to iPhone or iPod. The steps listed in the Mashable article are as follows:

1. Join Odiogo.

2. Download the player button plugin that you will need depending on the blogging platform that you’re using. Odiogo will work with several popular blogging platforms such as: WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, BlogEngine.NET and Terapad. Note: In this example, we will use a WordPress blog.

3. Upload the directory odiogo_listen_button to your /wp-content/plugins/ directory via FTP.

4. Login to your WordPress admin account.

5. Click menu Plugins and Activate the Odiogo Listen Button plugin.

6. Click menu Setting > Odiogo Listen Button.

7. Enter your Odiogo Feed ID and click Save. (You’ll receive this feed ID in email after joining)

8. Click menu Presentation > Widgets (or Sidebar Widgets depending on your WP version).

9. Drag and drop Odiogo Subscribe Button from Available Widgets to Sidebar.

10. Click Save Changes.

The service creates a feed for your blog and a button to access that feed. The new podcast can be subscribed to within iTunes or Juice, accessed from RSS readers, such as my fav Newsgator, shared on social networks or played individually by the player that shows up next to each post.

Needless to say, text to speech conversion is a boon for the visually impaired readers and a nice alternative for when your eyes are needed elsewhere. Think I might put Odiogo though my own beta test.

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The Filing Assistant You Only Have To Tell Once

If you use Windows, you might be interested in this handy little application called Download Mover that allows you to automatically download files into designated folders, such as images, zip files, pdf’s, etc. The dialog box shows “watched directories”, “new”, “remove”, and “files to move” with a slot for extension type and new location. Any file downloaded with the designated extension will be routed to the indicated location.

Thanks, Lifehacker, for the organizational help in advance of my impending New Year’s resolution, which invariably includes improved organization.

"Mr. Tweet", At Your Service

The Twitter experience definitely overwhelms, particularly if new to the game. If you have begun the process of identifying who you are interested in following, say lawyers or legal marketers, you can easily enhance that experience by employing “Mr. Tweet.” Mr. Tweet reads your follower and following lists and compiles a report of who among your followers and the broader network of influencers you should follow. The process is simple: on the site simply click the “Follow Mr. Tweet” button and in a few days, you will receive a direct message that Mr. Tweet is ready to compile your report. The report allows you to select “influencers beyond your network” and “followers you are not following” with a descending list ranked by popularity, relevance to you and likelihood of reciprocity. The individual entries show others who follow them, their profile description, number of followers & following, the ratio between those two numbers, reciprocity, frequency of updates and information.

I found the list helped me to flesh out my network of lawyers, legal professionals, legal marketers and social media experts, many of whom I was already familiar with from my blog reading. Mr. Tweet provides a nice quantitative / qualitative means of improving your on-line microblogging connections, which in turn improves your overall social experience and viral marketing plan. And, Mr. Twitter’s creators are promising new features and applications to improve the connections even more. What more can the social media swimmer ask for?

Status Quo?

Free (read “cheap”) and efficient (read “lazy”) are two of my favorite qualities. Thanks to Tom Mighell over at Inter Alia for a tip on an application that helps you fill in that pervasive status line on your various social networking sites so you don’t have to think about it. Called generatus, the site describes its service as follows:

How many hours have you wasted trying to think of something suitably witty, funny and original for your status on Facebook or Twitter?

Let’s face it, a status like “Dave is mowing the lawn” or “Kate is asleep” is not going to impress that huge entourage of friends you’ve amassed.

Never fear! Your days of boring status updates are over! Simply type your name, indicate whether you are a boy or a girl, then hit Generate.

You will be served up a brand new, sparkly status all ready to be copied and pasted into Facebook, Twitter or whichever social networking site you like best.

They may be onto something. I am a Monty Python fan and my first generated status was “Martha is being repressed.” My next status read “Martha is wondering: why does the sun come out during the day, when it would be so much more useful if it came out at night when it was dark?” Yup, that fits both my profile and the 140 character Twitter limit.

Not sure how this will promote your law practice or business within the social media realm, but it is fun and may earn you a few laughs.

Giving Thanks

I join my voice with others in the blogosphere, legal and otherwise, who have posted, mused, waxed, commented, discoursed upon, written, drafted, printed, scrawled, image scribbled, scripted, penned or otherwise communicated their thoughts of gratitude for the blessings in their lives. We are far removed from our forefathers and mothers who helped craft this country in its infancy. But we share the same need to stop, smell the roasting turkey and pumpkin pie and recognize that amidst the challenges, trouble and turmoil, there is much to love about life. I am thankful for all of life’s gifts. I hope you have the time to take a moment and love your gifts as well. Happiest of holidays from the Studio.

Can The Law Help You Beat The Rap?

I just don’t even know what to say about this one, but since it involves legal rhetoric, it remains fair game for this blog.

Disclaimer: Some of the content may be objectionable. None of the opinions expressed in the video are the opinions of the author of this blog or may be imputed to the author of this blog and the author of this blog does not condone any of the activities cited in the video. Have a nice day.

Hat tip to Raymond Ward at the (new) legal writer.

More Discourse On The Pitfalls of On-Line Research

Something gained. Something lost. Marie S. Newman at Out of the Jungle reports on the results of an interesting study by Professor James Evans at the University of Chicago. The quick conclusion of the study, according to Newman, is that “the growth in online research has had a ‘narrowing’ effect on scholarship.” Evans reviewed 34 million articles across fields of study and found that while the amount of published research has increased, references sources within the articles has diminished and has tended to be more recent. According to the Boston Globe’s take on the study, “the Intenet’s influence is to tighten consensus, posing the risk that good ideas may be ignored and lost – the opposite of the Internet’s promise.”

Evans’ study has generated controversy and has invited dissenting opinion. Nonetheless, Newman highlights valid concerns raised by the study’s results. One concern is the effect of the on-line “winnowing process” and the possibility that academic research will turn into a “popularity contest.” Another concern mirrors the age-old complaint against on-line legal research: on-line research does not afford the same insight into context that book research provides. Without an index or table of contents, the researcher runs the risk of falling down the “rabbit hole” of hyperlink to hyperlink information-mining with no sense of the relative importance of the information and related areas of study.

I appreciate the concerns raised by the study. I believe it is important for teachers, researchers and practitioners to be mindful of these pitfalls. Once mindful, however, the burden is on the true scholar to ensure that context is not lost. While one might have to work that much harder in the on-line arena, context still can be established in the traditional pay legal databases through the use of various tools, such as the Table of Contents function. While I can’t speak to other areas of study, I imagine that a clever researcher may still be able to secure context in the journals and on-line authorities serving as supports.  The other concern has little bearing in the field of law, which relies on judicial and statutory precedent rather than “popular” academic sources.

The article and the study are thought-provoking. My take-away is that researchers must be mindful of the drawbacks while reaping the rewards of near-instant access to unlimited information at the fingertips.

LinkedIn Tweaks Search, Speeds Job Hunting

TechCrunch reports that LinkedIn is launching a beefed up search functionality to streamline the process. The new features are not so in-your-face, but yield a better search experience. Features include auto-completed search terms, improved advance search menus and auto-detection of content related to your search term. Another new feature offers automation through “persistent search”, which allows you to set up alerts for changes to employee rosters or employment status. Any help for job seekers in this economic climate is a boon, so thanks, LinkedIn for doing your part!

Targeted News, Now Even Faster

If you are like me and have adopted RSS as your primary news source, you might like the following application, called notify.me. Orli Yakuel at Go2Web2.0 blog gives the lowdown. You can use notify.me as a filter to stream the news you are most interested in and exclude the news you are not interested in from your subscription sources. The service will email, SMS or IM you with any posts that discuss your filter term, such as “twitter” per Yakuel’s example. You can also search Facebook and Twitter using the service, to track changes to your profile or instances of your name. You also can secure updates to your favorite web pages. Great way to ensure that you see exactly what you want to see from your feeds and stay on top of it all!

What A Surprise: Wikipedia Held "Inherently Unreliable"

Legal Writing Prof Blog, via Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog, reports on an unpublished October 23, 2008 decision by the Texas Court of Appeals for the 14th District wherein the court rejected a party’s attempt to rely on Wikipedia. The synopsis from the Legal Writing Prof Blog is as follows:

In State v. Flores, an unpublished decision by the Texas Court of Appeals for the 14th District dated October 23, 2008, the court refused the appellant’s request to take judicial notice of a Wikipedia entry describing the “John Reid interrogation technique.”  The court reasoned in footnote 3 that Wikipedia entries are inherently unreliable because they can be written and edited anonymously by anyone.  The court relied on a recent article from the Wall Street Journal entitled Wikipedians Leave Cyberspace, Meet in Egypt, noting that the egalitarian nature of Wikipedia is both “its greatest strength and its greatest weakness.”

You can get the case at 2008 WL 4683960 (Tex. App.-Hous. (14th Dist.)) and 2008 Tex. App. LEXIS 8010. Credit to BNA Internet Law news for the original story.