Sunday, 29 April 2012

Parking space squeeze turns nasty


But we’re not talking a dinged door or scratched paintwork during a parking manoeuvre gone wrong. Oh no. It’s something far worse!!

parking dispute

From the Huffington Post (Weird News) 26/04/12:

There are worse ways to die, but you probably don't want to think about them, especially if you're a guy.

A Chinese man was reportedly killed last week when a woman squeezed his testicles until he collapsed during a fight over a parking space.

Was a slap round the face just not enough then?

An unidentified 41-year-old woman in China's Haiku City in the Hainan Province rode into town on her scooter to pick her child up from school. The woman tried to park in front of a local store, but the store owner, the 42-year-old victim, refused to allow it, China News 24 reported.

A scooter? Surely she could have found somewhere else to leave it? Heck, if her hand muscles are anything to go by, she could have popped her two-wheeled hotrod on her shoulder and walked to the school gate to pick up her kid!

The resulting fight escalated, leading the woman to call her husband and brother, who in turn got into a more violent fist fight with the shopkeeper, according to the website. At some point in the fracas, the woman grabbed the man's testicles and squeezed them until he collapsed. He was taken to a hospital for treatment and later died.

Parking disputes can get ugly just about anywhere. On March 26, Louisiana resident Shawntay Brown, 19, was arrested for biting a 15-year-old's breast during a brawl in Monroe.

Aren’t we just a lovely species?  Eye rolling smile

Sunday, 22 April 2012

On-shoring legal work is more popular than ever


legal outsourcing(No matter what RoF call it!!).

From Roll on Friday 05/04/12:

Simmons & Simmons is joining the outsourcing race by opening an office in Bristol. The new outpost will be restricted to real estate, projects and dispute resolution work, and will initially have between 15 and 20 lawyers on the ground.

Outsourcing to Bristol. From London? Does that qualify as ‘outsourcing’? I know Bristol might seem to be a little off the beaten track to some (largely those who rarely step out of the capital for months at a time) but it’s really not a foreign country!!

According to reports, the firm will be sending a couple of partners and a bunch of senior associates to Bristol to launch the new practice. And the verdant countryside, cheaper cost of living and extra-strong cider will probably be enough to attract a few away from the City. However in the long term the development seems bad news for those doing low key real estate, projects or dispute resolution work and who want to remain in London.

Extra-strong cider? Oooh – that’s a cheap dig. I’m surprised they RoF didn’t run with the insult that Bristolians only drink ‘special brew’.

It's easy to see the attraction for the firm. For non-client facing work, there's not much need to house large numbers of lawyers in an expensive glass palace in the City of London, when they can just as easily do their jobs in Bristol which is already a strong centre for legal services.

Where law firms are housed in corrugated iron shacks, no doubt? Honestly!! Tut tut, RoF. Eye rolling smile

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Where there’s a plane, there’s a claim

Flight VS27From the Express 17/04/12:

Passengers forced to evacuate a Virgin Atlantic jet told last night how panicked cabin crew screamed “Get off as quick as you can” after making an emergency landing at Gatwick.

One claimed the evacuation from the Airbus A330 was panicky, with one of the crew “screaming like a banshee” after an on-board alarm was triggered in flight.

Erm – better safe than sorry, surely?

Absolutely – but stop calling me Shirley. Be right back  (Sorry – couldn’t resist – I love Airplane).

Don't call me Shirley

airplane - flying on instruments

As a long time (and enthusiastic!!) viewer of ‘Air Crash Investigation’* and the downed flight episodes of ‘Seconds from Disaster’*, some of the passengers on board flight VS27 don’t seem to realise how lucky they were. The cabin crew had a duty to get everyone off and away from the plane as quickly as possible. A bump and a scrape here and there doesn’t come into it when the crew were doing their darndest to prevent anyone on board from being barbecued alive.

When the report came on the TV last night in which disgruntled passengers bemoaned the rushed exit, I thoughtfully observed: “it’s not a fu*king theme park ride”.

The 304 passengers, including three children, were told to slide down emergency chutes onto the runway. Fifteen were said to have suffered minor injuries.

Considering the alternative had the crew not acted as quickly, I think these minor injuries can be dismissed as the mere jostling associated with everyday life. Hmm, now where have I heard that before? 

The drama began when alarms went off on the flight deck and flight VS27 bound for Orlando, Florida, was forced to turn around less than two hours after taking off from Gatwick.

Passenger Tom Aldridge told of the moments after the emergency touch-down. He said: “There was quite a lot of high-pitched screaming sounding very panicky, very concerned, and I thought that a couple of passengers were a little bit crazy and just needed to calm down.

Cool as a cucumber, eh? Tom, I like it.

"It wasn’t until I had to go closer to the door that I realised it was Virgin cabin crew that were screaming hysterically ‘Get off, get off, get off as quick as you can, get off’. One of the crew was screaming like a banshee – she was literally pushing people down the chute.”

Ah yes – doing her job. God forbid anyone should be seen to do that in the 21st century.

He added: “The people panicking as they were jumping off were throwing themselves out of the plane down the chute.

“There was a big pile of bodies where people were just landing on top of each other and there were quite a few injuries.”

Diddums – here’s a band aid. At least they weren’t char-grilled.

Another passenger, Mark Bell, from Bracknell, Berks, said: “I knew something was wrong when we took off. The plane was really wobbly. The cabin crew made things worse. They were really panicked.

Really wobbly. Thanks for that, Mark. Somehow I sense the investigation team will be interviewing the flight crew and turning to the plane’s black box and cockpit voice recorder before using your expert observation.

I hope it’s not being over-generous to suggest that the immediate reaction of some these passengers was more due to shock than serious contempt with the way they were treated (read saved) by the cabin crew.

* I usually watch these last thing at night just before I go to sleep. Yes, my viewing tastes run to the macabre, but it’s hugely fascinating stuff. Haven’t had a nightmare yet.

Monday, 16 April 2012

PPI fraudsters give legitimate firms a bad name

PPI claims

From STV11/04/12:

A woman has been conned out a three-figure sum of money by a bogus PPI claims company. The 42-year-old received a phone call to her house in Telford Drive, Edinburgh on Wednesday March 28 from someone saying they were from a PPI claims company.

They told her she was eligible for a refund and she was told to pay them a three-figure sum of money through UKash vouchers. The victim has not received a refund.

A spokesman for the [Lothian and Borders Police] force said: "The issue of PPI refunds is a very current topic and criminals will look to exploit any new opportunity to obtain money or personal details from members of our communities.

Tens of thousands of successful PPI claims have already been brought, providing redress for victims who have been mis-sold payment protection insurance. It would be a great pity if all the good work done by firms bringing claims for payment protection insurance on behalf of their clients is undermined by the fraudsters who are swindling claimants out of what’s rightfully theirs.

In this way, for those that fall victim to the fraudsters, payment protection insurance has a painful double bite. Just as bad, the ensuing negative publicity may well prevent others from coming forward who have potentially valid claims.

As an aside, PPI claims offer another tangential benefit: according to the Scotsman, the significant recruitment drive seen in the banking sector in the first quarter of 2012 is largely down to additional staff required to deal with the PPI fallout.

While it doesn’t detract from the gravity of PPI being mis-sold in the first place, there’s nothing wrong with looking to reap as many benefits as possible in clearing up the resultant mess. And the economy can use all the help it can get at the moment.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Vinnie Jones’ CPR given the all-clear

CPR dummyFrom the Guardian 11/04/12:

A TV campaign featuring Vinnie Jones teaching people how to resuscitate someone, set to the rhythm of the Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive, has been cleared by the advertising watchdog despite complaints it featured a medically unsafe technique

The Advertising Standards Authority received 20 complaints that the ad, in which Jones teaches the correct timing of the technique by performing CPR* to the song, is harmful and likely to encourage unsafe behaviour as he is shown performing it incorrectly.

That’s Cardiopulmonary resuscitation – not the Civil Procedure Rules!!

In response to the ASA, the BHF said the UK has appalling survival rates of cardiac arrests that occur outside hospitals and the campaign had raised awareness of life-saving techniques, with 15 reported instances of people applying lessons from the ad with a positive outcome.

So why are the UK’s statistics so poor? Are we just untrained at life-saving, not caring enough or too scared of getting sued for botched resuscitation attempts? Maybe a bit of all three?

The ASA said the ad was clearly aimed at those with brief or opportunistic training and did not believe it would discourage those with a working knowledge of mouth-to-mouth.

"Because the ad showed correct techniques for hands-only CPR, we concluded the ad was not harmful and did not encourage unsafe behaviour," said the ASA.

So, to the 20 supposed do-gooders who, for the sake of pedantry, complained about a national ad which could (and has) saved lives, I hope you enjoyed this fruitless exercise.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

April Skewers (and novel umbrellas)

NubrellaFrom the Telegraph 10/04/12:

The Nubrella, which resembles a bubble wrapped around the user's head and shoulders, works by strapping on a shoulder support and extending a canopy around the head. Weighing just over 1kg, it costs £40 and comes in either black or see-through style.

Inventor Alan Kaufman, 49, from Florida, said: "The major advantage is the wearer doesn't have to carry anything when not in use as it goes behind the head like a hood.

Hmmm. Possibly.

In high winds, though, I think it’s still going to suffer from the same trouble as conventional umbrellas, only now it could garrotte you into the bargain!  If you got a strong and unexpected gust of wind up under the Nubrella, you might suddenly find yourself generating more lift than a Boeing triple 7 on take-off; there’s no telling where you’ll end up or whether your head will still be connected to your body in any meaningful way when you land.  Cue the neck injury claims, eh?

Talking of which, aren’t pedestrians just lethal with umbrellas when you’re trying to manoeuvre down a pavement?  How more eyes aren’t jabbed out by careless umbrella users is beyond me. I’ve had a few close shaves myself.

umbrella injury claim

"The umbrella was long overdue for some innovation, now people can ride their bikes and work outdoors completely hands free while staying protected.

Goodness. I hope it’s properly earthed. I’m assuming that asking for it to act as a Faraday cage should you be struck by a stray bolt of lightning is a bit too much to ask?

Thought so. Maybe that’s coming in the next gen model? Be right back

"Millions of people are required to work outdoors no matter what the conditions are and simply can't hold an umbrella and perform their tasks

Can’t they do the ‘handless phone hold position’ and cradle wedge it against their jaw and collar bone? I tried doing that with a torch the other day when I was DIY-ing I the loft – with near disastrous consequences. Maybe there is a need for this after all.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Social media and location tracking - more un‘appiness


From Digits – a blog from the Wall Street Journal 31/03/12:

The developer of a controversial mobile app that used data from Facebook and Foursquare to reveal the location of nearby women defended its intentions Saturday after drawing a firestorm of criticism over privacy concerns.

On Saturday, Foursquare cut off access to the “Girls Around Me” app that made it possible to view the location of women on a map and their publicly available data and photographs from Facebook. A number of blogs ... question[ed] ... whether the app encourages stalking.

Oh surely not. You can’t possibly be suggesting the internet can be used for spurious ends and that location tracking and prolific (and careless) social media use constitutes a privacy risk? What’s the world coming to?

The Russian app developer, i-Free Innovations, fired back with a strongly worded statement sent to The Wall Street Journal, calling it “unethical to pick a scapegoat to talk about the privacy concerns. We see this wave of negative as a serious misunderstanding of the apps’ goals, purpose, abilities and restrictions.”

I-Free said “Girls Around Me” only provides data that is publicly available on Foursquare and Facebook.

Not the well-worn, ‘guns don’t kill it’s the people who pull the trigger’ argument? Yep, that old chestnut.

Notably, the developer repeatedly made the case that the app’s intention was simply to help people discover public venues nearby. This despite the name of the app, “Girls Around Me,” and the fact that its promos show women in provocative poses.

Well, I suppose that depends on your definition of provocative. I don’t think there was much doubt that those ladies were ‘open for business’. Ahem.

So was this name chosen to grab attention or does it speak to the true intentions behind the app? If the latter, perhaps it should be renamed to ‘booty tracker. It might be an interesting Law Actually product to follow on from the Fireometer.

Here’s a potential mock-up.

location tracking app  legal

Still, that leaves the app name open to accusations of sexism. I nearly suggested an even blunter name.  Oh don’t look at me like that. It’s nothing worse than what tacitly goes on in bars across the country every night of the week.

Be right back

I’m long past beating the ‘don’t you care about privacy’ drum so I’m not going to attempt to wheel those arguments out again now.  Given the fact that app stores will drop this like a stone, I don’t think many of the broader issues will have chance to be aired anyway.  Besides, doesn’t Facebook give users enough opportunity to flirt with old acquaintances/colleagues and hook up illicit (and guilt-ridden) delight?

FWIW, I don’t enable each and every app on my phone to track my location and I struggle to understand why people actively opt in to some of those services that offer tracking. The cons simply outweigh the pros making it a non-starter. And society has got enough harassment worries without giving people yet another reason to look over their shoulder on the way home.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Pet-trifying road traffic accidents

dog road accident claim

From AOL Money 16/03/12:

Direct Line pet insurance has revealed that more than a quarter of the dog and cat road accident claims it settled last year occurred in just 10 locations.

Ouch. You might want to keep your furry friend on a leash if you live anywhere near those locations then!

Still, maybe those who live in or around those areas are just more predisposed to settling claims?   Just a thought…

Pet owners in the Berkshire town of Reading made the highest number of claims for dogs or cats injured in a road accident, followed by Redhill in Surrey and London.

I thought Reading was a city? No?

Ah – thanks, Wikipedia – I see it IS a town. AOL Money – I take it all back! Be right back

Despite settling pet road accident claims in 104 of the UK's 124 postcode locations last year, Direct Line revealed that 27 per cent of the 815 claims closed occurred in just ten hotspots.

1. Reading

2. Redhill

3. London

4. Guildford

5. Bristol

6. Glasgow

7. Edinburgh

8. Portsmouth

9. Southend

10. Hemel Hempstead

Portsmouth and Southend? I didn’t expect to see those listed! 

The total cost of pet road accident claims settled during 2011 was £752,245, with each claim costing an average of £923. The average cost of a claim involving a cat was £794, rising to £1,118 for a dog.

More surprisingly it seems that names play a part in a pet's likelihood to be involved in an accident according to Direct Line. More than 60 per cent of settled claims involved a cat, with the most accident prone felines called Leo, Tigger and Billy.

Poor Tigger! So much for cats supposedly having nine lives!

Dogs called Max, Charlie and Molly were most likely to be involved in an RTA.

Monday, 2 April 2012

How art those contract terms?


I pray thee, good reader, let’s retire:

The day is hot, the OFT abroad,

And, if we meet, we shall not scape a brawl;

For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring.

… or something like that.

contract lawFrom the Metro 23/03/12:

Some websites ask users to wade through more words than a Shakespeare play in accepting the ‘terms and conditions’, a new investigation shows.

PayPal, for example, demands visitors must read and accept 36,275 words of Ts&Cs, leaving Shakespeare’s longest play Hamlet trailing at a mere 30,066.

OK. I admit having such a long set of standard terms is “ridonkulous” (that’s a specific legal term of art, you know) but equally crazy is comparing the word-count with the works of Shakespeare. Why Shakespeare? Your average online consumer is probably more likely to read several thousand words of terms than any Shakespeare, after all.  

Apple’s iTunes is not far behind, with 19,972 words of legal agreements, more than Macbeth at 18,110.

Hmm… “words of legal agreements”… I’m not sure I care for the choice of phrase, but this is the Metro. Let’s not judge them too harshly! ;-)

For those who also want to use Apple iCloud, then there are another 10,724 words to read through.

Using the Amazon website means reading 5,212 words of Ts&Cs, and the firm’s Kindle product requires ticking a box to say you’ve read 7,115 words of policy. Consumer experts Which? called for sites to produce simplified versions of their legal agreements.

Marzena Lipman, digital policy manager at Consumer Focus, said: ‘It is clearly nonsensical to expect consumers to digest, absorb and understand such lengthy terms and conditions.

‘Retailers should at the least provide a concise and easy to understand summary of the key information so people know what they are signing up to.’

Nicholas Tall, a partner at Speechly Bircham law firm, said terms could be ruled invalid if customers argued it was not ‘fair and reasonable’ to expect people to wade through pages of documents. Which? called for a slicker solution.

Yes indeedy. How about suggestions for that slicker solution, Which?.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Multi-tasking with Chrome

Finally, Google’s sense of humour has returned.

I love Chrome, and I’ve used it every single day for a few years now. As far as I’m concerned, no other browser even comes close.

So what could be better than new functionality which allows you to be 50% more productive by enhanced multitasking. Oh yes, the aptly-named Multitask allows you to connect two mice to the one computer and enjoy twice the productivity by having one in each hand. (Mice, that is!).

Don’t be a sceptic – after a short period of time, it feels ‘completely natural’!

As architect, Clancy Johnson, says on the video, although the results of his job can often mean the difference between life and death for clients, Chrome Multitask takes the stress out of his work as he no longer has to think too hard about any one project.

Hell – we could all use some of that, right?  Who me?

You can even share your computer simultaneously with your ‘significant other’ – just as devoted couple Jennifer and Carl MacDonald do. Their fights over who got to use the laptop first are a thing of the past; now they can check their email at the same time, each with a Chrome window in their half of the same laptop screen.

(Jenny, a word of warning: you might want to cover the tracks of your extra-marital activities a little more thoroughly next time. Carl seems an observant ((and jealous)) kind of chap).

Chrome Multitask–You’ll never look back!

The possibilities are simply endless.

Update:- If you think you can handle it, there’s more.

Gmail Tap–best suited to those with fat fingers.

“You can say 2 things with your fingers, which you mouth can only say one of”.

Google – your April 1st posts are back in business! Love it!  Be right back