Grammar On The iPad

Grammar. It’s cool. And now it’s high tech, with a new iPad app. Terminology for iPad offers that “special something” for your writing just in time for the start of the school year. The app contains a searchable dictionary and thesaurus. They can be used off-line, in case you can’t hook into the ‘net for your word fix. But, if you do have Web access, you can find additional information on your desired word or phrase via Wikipedia and Wiktionary. Mark your favorite words for fast future searching. Best of all, the interface is simple and clean, making your lexicographically-inclined pursuits that much easier. Tighten up your next brief, business report, email or term paper, or simply pull out a killer word out for Scrabble or Words with Friends with Terminology.

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iPhone Apps for Writers

PenA couple weeks ago, a writer friend who also has an iPhone asked me about apps for writers. I explained that, with more than 85,000 apps in the App Store, there are more than a few that fit the bill. Thought I would share with you the list I sent to her. These apps are not lawyer-specific, but certainly would help a writer of any ilk.

Wikipedia – encyclopedia by crowd consensus. Free. Or its more readable counterpart, Wikiamo.

Dictionary – word resource that includes both a dictionary and a thesaurus. Free.

Quickword – word processing app, Microsoft Word-friendly. $12.99

Evernote – note-taking app that works well for collecting research. Syncs with software on your desktop (free download) and on the Web (also free) so you can take your notes anywhere and add them into virtual notebooks. Can store notes in many forms, including pictures, digital drawings and voice recordings. Can’t say enough about how great this app is. Free.

Stanza – free ebook reader, with access to paid ebooks but better yet, access to Project Gutenburg online database of free ebooks of the classics. Free.

Goal Tender – simple goal setting and task app for organizing and getting things done. $2.99

Story Tracker Lite – tracks your writing submissions to various publications. Free.

SimpleMind – mindmapping (brainstorming) app. Free.

WriteRoom – a notetaking app that works much better than the one of the iPhone for writing. Can sync with a version that stays on your computer, so you can write while out and then sync it back into your computer. Loads of special features that make it great for writers. $4.99

Happy writing!

You Don't Need To Hack Into MIT's Library

You can just point your mobile browser at  http://m.mit.edu and get a page optimized for iPhone (with other phone optimization on the way) offering access to many of the library’s services. You can view library hours and locations, pose questions or set up a meeting with a librarian, and read news about the library on the MIT Library blog.

Whether or not you have a Student ID, you have to appreciate MIT’s steps towards connecting library resources with the mobile mob. Great example to follow for other reference and content providers.

Hat tip to Resource shelf.

You Don’t Need To Hack Into MIT’s Library

You can just point your mobile browser at  http://m.mit.edu and get a page optimized for iPhone (with other phone optimization on the way) offering access to many of the library’s services. You can view library hours and locations, pose questions or set up a meeting with a librarian, and read news about the library on the MIT Library blog.

Whether or not you have a Student ID, you have to appreciate MIT’s steps towards connecting library resources with the mobile mob. Great example to follow for other reference and content providers.

Hat tip to Resource shelf.

I'll Have A Quarter Pounder, Large Fry and A Copy of Prosser on Torts, Please?

I just love innovative ways to stay relevant in the digital age! The Houston Public Library is implementing a new program called “HPL to Go” – a service which will allow library patrons of particularly traffic-burdened branches to receive their book order delivered right to their car! In conjunction with Info Quest and Info 24/7 (services permitting text queries and internet queries to reference librarians, respectively), the Library is seeking “ways to remain relevant in the iPhone era.”

To receive your order, simply reserve the books or other material via internet. Once notified that the materials are ready, you can then head to the library, call the librarian, offer the pertinent information including a description of your car and await your materials. While the HPL to Go program is tied to the HPL library system, Info Quest is a national resource offering the expertise of reference librarians across the country to answer questions around the clock.

Check out the HPL’s update on the Bookmobile: HPL Mobile Express is a van loaded with computers that visits under-served neighborhoods  offering computer classes and resume writing instruction.

Hooray for innovation in information resources!

Hat Tip to Resource Shelf

I’ll Have A Quarter Pounder, Large Fry and A Copy of Prosser on Torts, Please?

I just love innovative ways to stay relevant in the digital age! The Houston Public Library is implementing a new program called “HPL to Go” – a service which will allow library patrons of particularly traffic-burdened branches to receive their book order delivered right to their car! In conjunction with Info Quest and Info 24/7 (services permitting text queries and internet queries to reference librarians, respectively), the Library is seeking “ways to remain relevant in the iPhone era.”

To receive your order, simply reserve the books or other material via internet. Once notified that the materials are ready, you can then head to the library, call the librarian, offer the pertinent information including a description of your car and await your materials. While the HPL to Go program is tied to the HPL library system, Info Quest is a national resource offering the expertise of reference librarians across the country to answer questions around the clock.

Check out the HPL’s update on the Bookmobile: HPL Mobile Express is a van loaded with computers that visits under-served neighborhoods  offering computer classes and resume writing instruction.

Hooray for innovation in information resources!

Hat Tip to Resource Shelf

"Wikilawyering" & the Demise of Wikipedia

PARC (company)
Image via Wikipedia

Sorry for my relentless potshots at Wikipedia, but I can’t resist. It paints a large target.

The Palo Alto Research Center has been examining Wikipedia and has concluded that it may be headed for a tumble. New article growth has flattened and declined and the community appears less welcoming to new contributors. Researchers believe these factors ultimately will compromise the quality of the on-line encyclopedic juggernaut in the long-haul.

The latter condition, in particular, is believed to represent a harmful trend away from broad contribution and toward a more limited, active and established group of editors. There is a significant increase in “reversions” of the changes made by casual editors on existing articles. The researchers opine that the trend signals community resistence to new content that may strengthen or tighten articles. Community resistence likely will result in new editors turning away from the community, thereby reducing the number of “eyes” available to spot article vandalism.

Furthermore, when it comes to weighing new versus existing edits, advantage goes to the more established Wikipedia editors who have a greater understanding of Wikipedia’s guidelines and “angles” than that possessed by new editors. Established editors can leverage their knowledge of the “rules” to engage in “wikilawyering” and beat down the changes from a procedural perspective.

Wikipedia’s own review team is attributing the greater number of edit reverts to spam.

Whatever the reason for the reverts, the net result on the integrity of Wikipedia as a solid reference guide is not a positive yield. Neither spam nor Wiki-administrative law-experts have the overall well-being of the end user in mind. File these concerns along with the many other chinks in the armor of the Number-One-Stop-For-Reference-Librarians-And-Other-Computer-Connected-Researchers in your virtual filing cabinet for easy reference.

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“Wikilawyering” & the Demise of Wikipedia

PARC (company)
Image via Wikipedia

Sorry for my relentless potshots at Wikipedia, but I can’t resist. It paints a large target.

The Palo Alto Research Center has been examining Wikipedia and has concluded that it may be headed for a tumble. New article growth has flattened and declined and the community appears less welcoming to new contributors. Researchers believe these factors ultimately will compromise the quality of the on-line encyclopedic juggernaut in the long-haul.

The latter condition, in particular, is believed to represent a harmful trend away from broad contribution and toward a more limited, active and established group of editors. There is a significant increase in “reversions” of the changes made by casual editors on existing articles. The researchers opine that the trend signals community resistence to new content that may strengthen or tighten articles. Community resistence likely will result in new editors turning away from the community, thereby reducing the number of “eyes” available to spot article vandalism.

Furthermore, when it comes to weighing new versus existing edits, advantage goes to the more established Wikipedia editors who have a greater understanding of Wikipedia’s guidelines and “angles” than that possessed by new editors. Established editors can leverage their knowledge of the “rules” to engage in “wikilawyering” and beat down the changes from a procedural perspective.

Wikipedia’s own review team is attributing the greater number of edit reverts to spam.

Whatever the reason for the reverts, the net result on the integrity of Wikipedia as a solid reference guide is not a positive yield. Neither spam nor Wiki-administrative law-experts have the overall well-being of the end user in mind. File these concerns along with the many other chinks in the armor of the Number-One-Stop-For-Reference-Librarians-And-Other-Computer-Connected-Researchers in your virtual filing cabinet for easy reference.

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Where Have All The Good Books Gone?

100-1116 Huey P Long Bridge Baton Rouge northwest
Image by Chris[topher] Lin via Flickr

Studio readers know that I love the internet. I adore it as a source of information and enlightenment, engagement and development. I truly appreciate what the internet offers to researchers and data gatherers and content junkies.

But I really must relate the experience that I had earlier today. It speaks to our growing reliance on the internet / Wikipedia as not just A source of information, but THE source of information. I am not sure this is the correct position for all applications and it certainly shouldn’t be the “be all and end all” of the researchers tool-kit.

Today, as my children and I were traveling by car, we passed over a bridge. My eldest son, a 9 year-old, relayed to me that a boy he met on the beach had told my son that he had traveled over the world’s longest bridge: a span running from New York City into the ocean and terminating on an island in the Atlantic. I replied that I did not think that the world’s longest bridge was in New York, explaining that I had traveled on a seven-mile-long bridge in the Florida keys.

I asked him where we could find information on the world’s longest bridge (“WLB”) and he answered that the 2007 (?) version of the Guinness World Book of Records would have the answer. I then suggested that we would be passing right by an honest-to-goodness library filled with reference books and that perhaps we should stop there for our answer.

So we did. A nice local library positively filled to the ceiling with real paper, ink and board books! We walked straight to the spacious desk bearing the grand sign – REFERENCE. The youngish, maybe-early-20’s gentleman behind the counter asked if he could help us. I explained to him that we were in the car talking about the WLB and decided to stop at the library to get an answer as to how long it is and where it might be located. He gave me this knowing wink and grin and immediately turned to his computer, located right in front of massive stacks of reference books. In under 20 seconds, he had found HIS answer to the question, and spent about four or five minutes printing several pages. I stared at him during this printing process and asked him “gee, if you were going to look in a reference book to find the answer, which one would you use?” He thought for a moment and answered “The Guinness Book of World Records. Or, maybe, an encyclopedia.” He glanced at his printed pages, explained the WLB was in Japan and proudly handed the sheets to me.

Along the upper right hand corner was printed the Wikipedia URL. The title of the entry was longest suspension bridges.

A few thoughts:

  • why wouldn’t the reference librarian leap at the opportunity to teach children about the value of book research, an asset unique to libraries – institutions desperately seeking to maintain relevance in an increasingly on-line society?
  • why wouldn’t the reference librarian either ask the customer a few questions about what kind of information he or she was looking for before assuming that he or she is interested in the subset of suspension bridges, a decidedly shorter construction method than other bridge-building techniques?
  • if the reference librarian must use the internet, why wouldn’t he or she use Wolfram Alpha, rather than the sketchy likes of Wikipedia?

A good researcher is both an able detective and a willing educator. A good researcher is not content with the quick answer, although efficiency certainly is a desired trait. A good researcher takes advantage of the best tools available and prides himself or herself on keeping up to speed with the latest and greatest techniques, be they on-line or in the real world. A good researcher should never “come up short” and should seek to “bridge” the gaps between the question and the answer with the strongest, most comprehensive structure to be crafted with the tools at hand. And a good researcher should never forget the research “roots” – honest-to-goodness reference books!

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The Internal Revenue Code – In a 4.5 x 2.4 x. .48 " Package

That’s right. You can yell, “Honey, I Shrunk the IRC!” when you purchase it through the Apple App Store for storage and reference on your iPhone. iPhone JD talks about two IRC apps here. The blog features one by LawToGo.net for $13.99, although for $1 more, you can purchase one from Cliff Maier. I won’t review, as I haven’t used either, but I have to applaud the massive reduction in size  of the IRC for on-the-fly reference, if not a consequent reduction in my annual tax bill.

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