Monday, 31 January 2011

RTA Injury Claim? … there’s an app for that

RTA - there's an app for thatFrom The Law Society Gazette 21/01/11:

A 150-year-old Manchester law firm has created an iPhone ‘accident app’ which it claims could revolutionise the personal injury claims process.

Croftons has released the iPhone app to help claimants gather accurate evidence and information after an accident at work or on the road, and provide easy access to personal injury lawyers.

The app allows users to record the immediate details of an incident with photographs, words or recorded statements, and then send them to a lawyer to get a quick and informed assessment of the claim.

Geolocation technology automatically pin-points the location of the incident, the camera can take photos of the scene and any damage or injuries caused, while the voice recorder can log eyewitness accounts.

Let’s hope it has a good expletive zapper. Motorists are not exactly known for their calmness immediately after an accident!!!

Users also get practical guidance, with on screen prompts, to help them collect all the relevant information.

Which is, to be fair, quite a good idea as the majority of motorists understandably go into a tizzy after a shunt.

However, I’m not sure how smart it is having the other participant to an accident prancing around taking photos and interviewing witnesses like some roving reporter for the Beeb. Talk about adding fuel to the fire.

But the main problem is audience; who’s going to download this prior to having an accident, unless they’ve got a real complex about their driving ability. As Alan Partridge once asked, rhetorically, “do you slow down for car crashes?”

Which should present an interesting marketing challenge.  Be right back

Sunday, 30 January 2011

A over T for an SMS

From Law Brief Update:

A woman who was filmed at a shopping mall by cctv, walking into a fountain while texting on her mobile phone, says she may sue the shopping centre which apparently leaked the video to YouTube.

Cathy Cruz Marrero said in an interview with that she is “mortified” by the incident, which was captured by security staff at the Berkshire Mall in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, USA.

The footage was posted to YouTube. It features multiple camera angles and members of the security team are heard laughing and ridiculing the woman as her accident occurs.

Marrero said, “My issue is I don’t think security was professional because they didn’t send anyone to check on me until 20 minutes later and I had already left. Instead of laughing, they should have said, ‘Is she OK?’ and been down there right away to check on me.”


A over T for an SMS

After my post about the Road SMS app last week, I couldn’t pass this one up.  I bet Marrero wishes she’d been using that app; that way, she might have avoided the ignominy of her impromptu double forward flip into the fountain.  Ahem.

And what about all of the water Marrero sloshed about on that slippery floor? Slippery surfaces can have elderly shoppers slipping over and popping out a hip in an instant. And no shopping mall wants to be hit by a personal injury lawsuit, least of all an American one!

Talking of that, I remember tripping up the steps near Time Square on a trip to New York making absolute tit of myself in the process.

And no, I wasn’t texting at the time. 

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Road SMS App: the sure-fire way to an RTA

samsung galaxy - road SMS app

From Engadget 14/07/10:

We haven't actually seen it for ourselves, but we're hearing the Samsung Galaxy S can download an interesting little app. Called Road SMS, the basic idea is that the phone's camera constantly runs to let you see through the screen, while a virtual keyboard allows your fingers to safely text whomever you want.

To be frank, we don't think folks will use this app seriously. We're just hoping someone will develop an augmented reality joke version that, ever so often, generates ghostly images of high speed oncoming traffic. And remember kids, don't text and drive.

It’s not just texting and driving – it’s walking as well! Either of those are a sure-fire way to a road traffic accident. How about just putting your damn phone away and looking where you’re going rather than downloading yet another app to try and solve a simple problem.

I’m sure there’s a reason I get so many hits on Law Actually for “texting girl fell down sewer”. 

Be right back

I’ve said it before, but I absolutely hate pedestrians who wander aimlessly in the street, texting, emailing, or otherwise looking at their phone when they should be damn well looking where they are going. Being the malicious kind of person that I am, I often pull passive-aggressive pavement moves and enjoy that fuzzy glow of contentment having orchestrated a ‘coming together’ between two unwitting pedestrians.  Little things please little minds and all that.

Oh and as for that ‘augmented reality joke version’, how’s this for a mock-up?

Road SMS app disaster

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Shorter, Super Intense LPC: When 7 into 9 just doesn’t go

lpc squeeze

From The Lawyer 10/01/11:

BPP Law School has bowed to student demands by becoming the first LPC provider to launch a fast-track LPC to all students, beginning in August 2011.

The condensed course will cram the standard nine-month offering into seven months, but will cost the same (£12,500 in London) and require students to have shorter study breaks, working through the summer and winter holidays.

BPP dean Peter Crisp said: “We’re moving away from the mindset that programmes should be designed around the needs of the ­faculty rather than around the needs of students.

“I think students are going to welcome the opportunity to do the course in a shorter timeframe and will welcome the flexibility, enjoy the intensity of the programme and be ­better prepared for work.”

Enjoy the intensity? Are you kidding me?

Be better prepared for work? Well in the sense they’re absolutely ran into the ground, thoroughly burnt out and on the cusp of an unhealthy psychosis, yes, this new super-intense LPC will prepare students beautifully for the world of work.


The new course will differ from the accelerated ­consortium LPC as it will use the same content as the standard LPC without the City firms’ tailor-made additional subjects. It will, however, have some extra weekly preparation work and face-to-face teaching sessions.

The course will run twice yearly, but access will be ­limited by a minimum entry requirement of a 2:1 degree [and a propensity for torture presumably?]

Never mind that; I think it should come with a compulsory psychological assessment!!!


Crisp added: “It will be intensive and not necessarily for all students, as some will find it a struggle and need more time to absorb information to apply skills.”

The fast-track course is subject to validation by the SRA.

I don’t really get the point of this course; 7 months rather than 9 months is hardly a huge saving. Are those 8 weeks really that important?

And isn’t the LPC intense enough? The regular course isn’t exactly sedate. I can understand the desire to get through it as quickly as possible but I think this is an instance where 7 into 9 just won’t go.

I think the LPC is one of those get-through-it-at-all-costs courses, where there are few points awarded for style.  But is it really a good idea to make things even more difficult for yourself going hell-for-leather to get through the academic phase of your career as quickly as possible?

Anyhow, as an aside, some of the comments in the article are superbly funny:

“Great, that means all those LPC graduates without a Training Contract can get on the dole 2 months sooner”

You cynic!


“softies the lot of them ... :)
bring back the LSF [Law Society Finals] - let's have some exams worthy of the name; they'll soon be giving away legal qualifications inside cereal boxes”

Ah... no post would be complete without a “in my day” type of comment! ;-)


“Requirement of a 2:1 degree in what? basketweaving, applied drama, needlework? Come on, everyone knows that a 2:1 these days is no guarantee of quality. Peter Crisp needs to wake up and realise that BPP know nothing about creating lawyers, only making money.”

Oooh. Talk about lighting the blue touch paper...

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Will-writers to be mystery shopped

last will and testament quality


From The Solicitors Journal 09/12/10:

Mystery shoppers will test the service provided by will-writers early next year [this year, now], as part of a Legal Services Board project.

Research agency IFF Research has been commissioned by the LSB, the Legal Services Consumer Panel and the Office of Fair Trading to recruit individuals to report back on their experience of getting a will, which will then be assessed by a panel of solicitors and will-writers.

IFF will select 100 consumers looking to obtain a will. Of these, 40 will use a solicitor, 40 will use a will-writer, and 20 will write their own will using an online provider or paper-based DIY will.

The names of the firms producing the wills, and the names of those obtaining the wills, will remain anonymous. A pilot study is scheduled to take place in January, with the full study taking place in February and March.

The LSB is examining whether to make will-writing a reserved legal activity.

I’ve always steered as far clear of private client work as possible; it just never held my interest if I’m honest.

But I’m certainly curious to know how this particular segment of the private client market is regarded – particularly by solicitors. I don’t know, but I suspect that it’s a very similar situation to licenced conveyancers, i.e. that solicitors generally regard these market-stealing upstarts with a certain amount of contempt and like nothing better than to sneer at their rivals’ ineptitude.

Given the volume of do-it-yourself options out there, I’m surprised there’s sufficient breadth in the market for this sub-division to have developed and sustained itself. 

Far be it for me to cast aspersions on the quality of work being done by will-writers out there who aren’t solicitors, but I guess quality assurance measures have got to be a good thing for clients.

Which is what matters most, right?

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Software Gripes

law actually software gripes

Whilst I’m used to configuring my computers so that they give me as easy a ride as possible, there are a few issues which just grate on me too much to keep quiet.  So,  I thought I might share some of the worst.

Chrome Bookmark Manager
Why doesn’t Chrome have a keyboard shortcut for bookmark manager.  Yeah, I know you can try Alt + E and B but that doesn’t quite cut it as an easy shortcut. Bookmarking the bookmark manager and adding it to the bookmark toolbar is another option but again, there should be a better default option.

Accidentally deleted bookmarks
Why does Firefox and Chrome make it so difficult to retrieve an accidentally deleted bookmark?  Yes, I know there are ways of doing it, but they are far, far too complicated and long-winded.  And you shouldn’t have to turn to Google for help just to ‘undelete’ a file.  Don’t Mozilla and Google know how many trigger-happy computer users there are out there?

Google Docs - page numbers
It always seems a case of two steps forward, one step back with Google Docs. Whilst it’s really getting there now in terms of being a viable solution for many, it still falls woefully short in a few areas. For instance, they’ve finally sorted out some of the stupidity around lack of footnote functionality and added a customisable dictionary, but what’s up with page numbers in documents?   You actually have to go in an ‘activate’ them under the print settings menu prior to printing each time.  It seems there’s no way to have them inserted permanently in the document itself.  That’s just all kinds of crazy.

‘Save as’ - default keyboard shortcut
I wish programs had a default keyboard shortcut for  'Save As'.  I know there are ways of creating shortcuts on a per program basis but something as commonly used really deserves its own shortcut by default.  For what it’s worth, I love the Photoshop shortcut for this and find myself inadvertently doing it in other programs - Control + Shift + S is a very comfortable shortcut for your left hand.  
(Not-so-fun fact: on my HP work laptop, this shortcut brings up a very-slow-to-launch HP System Information app, just to really, really annoy me).

Cycling through pictures using the Windows Photo Gallery
Why doesn’t the up and down arrow work the same as left and right for scrolling through images in Windows Photo Viewer in Vista and Windows 7.  It does in XP 'Windows Picture and Fax Viewer'.  If you accidentally hit the up or down arrow, you’ve got to take your hands of the keyboard and go and click one of the buttons for next or previous before you can begin cycling through with the left and right arrow keys again. Utter madness.

Footnote Frenzy
In MS Word, if you highlight text in the footnotes section and get some ‘blank space’ in your selection as well, when you try and delete that text, you get presented with an infuriating pop-up message, "this action is not valid for footnotes".  I don’t use footnotes nearly as much as i did during my LLM thankfully, as this annoyance nearly drove me out of my mind.

PDF pasting mess
Copying and pasting text from PDF - seriously screws with the formatting.  This has been a nightmare since, well, forever.  It’s just awful.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Broken Blogger Comments: Checkbox Oh Checkbox

blogger comment problem

Like many of you, I rely heavily on email notification for blog post comments to keep track of the conversation.  After all, who has the time or energy to go back to individual blog posts and check if there have been any further comments left?  That might have cut it in 2005, but it really doesn’t any longer.  

Google/Blogger/Blogspot (whatever they’re called) offer a strange kind of system which varies depending on how the blogger has configured the comments to work on their individual blog.   

Under the settings menu in the Dashboard, there are essentially 3 options for comments (as well as disabling them all together):


I had always employed the pop-up check box on Law Actually, despite coming to really hate this option on other blogs.  I’ve fixed it now at least.

So here’s what really annoys me about the pop-up window and full page options for comments in Blogger.

To receive email alerts, the visitor MUST click the check box BEFORE they publish their comment but you don’t see that box UNTIL you’re signed in.  I routinely use 3 different PCs each day, so I often head over to a blog without being signed into my Google account.  Actually, that in itself is a nonsense, as I’ve always got Gmail open and I always go to other blogs via, you guessed it, Google Reader.  Still, when it comes to leaving a comment, it usually always treats me as not being signed in.

So, if you enter your details to sign in and then click to publish your comment forgetting to click that checkbox, you’re doomed; there’s no way of going back into it and activating those email updates, short of leaving a second comment. 

blogger comment 1

This annoyance does not occur with in-line comment field beneath the post.  With this option, there’s a link which can be clicked after you’ve submitted the comment (or even if you submit no comment at all).  It’s a far smarter way of handling comments, which are, after all, the beating heart of any blog.

My workaround (of sorts) on the blogs which use the pop-up window or full page option is to enter my username and password, as well as the word verification text and then click ‘preview’ rather than ‘publish’ so I can go back and select that magic checkbox before finally clicking publish.  That’s quite an ordeal and more often than not I forget to do that and my comment is posted without email notifications being activated.  I can’t tell you how much that drives me up the freakin’ wall!

Why can’t that checkbox be there by default, which the user can select and is only activated if they then log-in with an account which has an email address associated with it?  It just seems like an about-face way of doing things and this problem really shouldn’t even exist.  Come on Google – sort it out!  

Be right back

Granted the blogger commenting system might not be broken per se, but it’s so clunky and frustrating to use on a day to day basis, that it might as well be.   To be honest, they should just get rid of the checkbox option entirely so you can sign up to comment notifications at any point.

And please, blawggers of the world out there, if you run a Blogger/Blogspot blog using the pop-up window or full page option for comments, you could always make life a little easier on your readers by choosing the in-line option instead.  ;-)

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Pocket Rocket goes with a bang

firework accident injury

The world seems to be obsessed with setting fireworks off on any occasion these days, and at weird times, too. I’m not particularly taken with them at any time of the year, but I’ve certainly never understood doing it a few days either side of Guy Fawkes Night or about 9.45pm on New Year’s Eve.  What’s up with that?

Anyhow, I came across this rather painful story on Legal Juice the other day:

Police responded to a call for medical assistance in the 12000 block of Ambaum Blvd. A man accidentally set off a bottle rocket firework in his pants. He was transported to Harborview by ambulance to be treated for superficial burns on his groin, face and hand. No other injuries were reported.

Hmm…  He accidentally set it off or it just activated in his pants?  They’re not quite the same thing.

But why would you carry fireworks in your trousers in the first place?  That’s just mental!  In fact, I’m surprised he didn’t have a rocket tucked behind his ear as well.

In any case, I guess this brings a new meaning to the term ‘pocket rocket’. 

And it’s probably safe to say that’s it’s not something the guy will be repeating any time soon!

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Trash Deluge hits Exeter: Blame the Students


I know Exeter isn’t the only place in the UK having, shall we say, a bit of a tough time of it lately in respect of their rubbish collections, but what the heck.

Paraphrasing the story I stumbled across on This Is Exeter, it seems the December snowfall, Christmas bank holidays and the council’s ever-increasing fears about being sued as a result of accidents caused by an out-of-control dustcart, have culminated in a perfect storm of trash - which is obliterating the city. I believe Exeter is now well on the way to be being buried under sackfuls of the stuff.

Being ever mindful of litigation myself, perhaps there’s a business opportunity here for personal injury firms to solicit pedestrians who have suffered the misfortune of tripping and falling over the bags of trash on the streets.  Should PI lawyers now start following dustcarts rather than ambulances, to look for business?

Anyhow, the article itself was pretty ho-hum but it was the comments further down which really caught my eye.

From This is Exeter 31/12/10:

Areas of St James and Mount Pleasant were among the worst hit when the council was forced to withdraw collections because of the weather.

But the authority has been sharply criticised for not starting up collections as soon as the thaw began, and failing to let people know about when rubbish would be picked up.

Caroline Lee, of St James, said student areas were the most affected.

“I am afraid to let my children walk around some streets here because it is so disgusting,” she said. “The students put out their rubbish before leaving for Christmas and the collection was cancelled so it has been there for nearly a month.”

Ah, those damn students. Let’s see what some of the comments had to say. In particular, a one R. James said:

This is nothing to do with the weather, ECC or the guys in the trucks..its [sic] about an unintelligent, inconsiderate and unwelcome underclass living in a city they care nothing about, and in which they have created a filthy noisy ghetto...UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

Ouch! Isn’t that a bit harsh? What would R. James rather students do - let it pile up inside their halls and homes festering?  In fact, I’m surprised R. James thought students would have the time to put rubbish out; surely they would be too busy having sex and doing drugs or urinating on war memorials for that?

Thankfully, an anonymous commenter leapt to the students’ defence:

...Why are the students being blamed, most left well before the snow came, so are not ... in Exeter. This is the residents trashing their own neighbourhood, shame on them! Oh it's refuse, not refuge...

Oh deary me – there was quite a lot of bitching back and forth on the grammatical boob of confusing refuse with refuge.

In particular, a reader (Sue) who is “related to a refuse collector which is employed by ECC” (fancy that) took umbrage. Sue wanted to “correct some of the idiotic points on the comments board” and, to be honest, good on her for trying.

I loved her swipe at a fellow commenter, David, who held some rather forthright and none-too-complimentary views on Exeter City Council:

...Now to Dear David, 31-Dec-2010, 13:17. Well then sweetie, a refuge is a place of safety, I do believe my sweet you check you dictionary as I think you meant ‘refuse’ which means rubbish and so on.

Oooh. Meowwwww!

There were a lot of strained exchanges about the merits of snow chains, snow tyres and the turning circle of 26 ton trash lorries, as well as whether councils made use of smaller vehicles to collect rubbish. Plus there was the guy who firmly believed the city council was in contravention of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 for encouraging residents to put their trash out for collection and then failing to collect it. It all made very entertaining reading!!

Just as an aside, I was rather tickled during my stay in Philadelphia when I realised they enjoy a twice weekly trash collection! (Ooh, I wonder how THAT would go down with the residents of Exeter at the moment!!) 

Be right back

And I was thinking: couldn’t Santa have done everyone a favour and collected up the trash lying about outside people’s homes when he passed over the UK on the 24th December? He must have had plenty of room in his sleigh having delivered all those presents, after all.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Ladder fiasco ends in tragedy

telegraph pole engineerFrom the Independent 15/12/10:

BT was fined £300,000 today after a judge said a "significant failing" by the company contributed to the death of one its engineers.

David Askew, 52, died after falling from a stepladder while working at the Canonbury Telephone Exchange, north London, in October 2006.

The experienced engineer was standing on the top rung of the seven-foot ladder and working alone at the time of his death, Southwark Crown Court, central London, heard.

The accident resulted in BT being convicted of failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees at a trial in October this year.

Judge Deborah Taylor said the company had not provided appropriate ladders, leading Mr Askew to use a wooden ladder he found on the site.

Staff working at heights had also been given "erroneous advice" in BT's manuals, which did not consider the most up-to-date legislation, she continued.

She said: "This was a significant failing by BT, whose employees regularly work at height."

"In my judgment these failures by BT contributed to Mr Askew's fall," she concluded.

That’s staggering; I thought wooden ladders went out in the 70s.

But I still don’t understand why didn’t the poor chap have ladders provided to him? What are those long silver things stuck on the roofs of the white Openreach vans?  Presumably they’re not just there for show.

And how’s this for an interesting perspective:

Ronald Thwaites QC, mitigating, said that the odds of being killed by lighting were 10 million to one, while BT employees carried out nine million climbing jobs a year.

He said: "If, on a statistical basis, deaths from falls were only as likely as death by lightning bolt strikes, most people would recognise that is a fairly remarkable record."

Well, possibly. But it’s tough to reconcile that with the fact the poor guy had to find his own (wooden) ladder. What’s more, I don’t think that’s really comparing like with like. Out of those people who are struck by lightning, surely it’s more likely they are killed rather than just suffering injuries when compared to those who are killed falling from a ladder - where the number of injuries (as opposed to deaths) must be much higher. So maybe that statistic isn’t so compelling.

Put another way, it would be very interesting to see how many people are injured or harmed without being killed by lightning strikes compared to suffering a personal injury falling from a ladder.

In any event, if that’s their stance, maybe 9 million climbing jobs a year using the right equipment and procedures would give BT a sublime safety record?  It might be something to aim for at least.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Back to the grind

It’s been a little while since I last posted as I’ve been largely lying low since my return from Philly, enjoying a little festive downtime and a LOT of festive food.

Anyhow, given that all good things come to an end, I’m back at work tomorrow after what feels like ages, but it’s been great to get away for a while.

I guess it’s back to the daily grind now for a bit now.   I don’t even want to begin thinking about the amount of unread email I’ll have to wade through; I had the courage to check one of my work accounts a few days ago, but couldn’t face the other two.  Worse still, God alone knows what else has jumped onto my to-do list over the last few weeks.  I sense it’s not going to be pretty!

As ever, I’ve avoided New Year’s resolutions like the plague and hope to ease myself through January as painlessly as possible. I really hate this time of year.

Maybe I have a touch of the winter blues kicking in?  Eewph… it’ll be spring before I know it. 

It will, won’t it?  Be right back