Friday, 27 February 2009

Don’t Judge Too Quickly

These 5 commercials are from Ameriquest Mortgage Comp in the U.S. and are all hilarious in their own right. Not quite the type of ad that you’d expect to see from a building society in the UK, though.

Great Stuff!

Thursday, 26 February 2009

£30K compensation for another ‘grape slip-up’

Personal Injury Compensation Grapes From CPD Webinars 23/02/09:

Jeanette Plummer, 62, has been awarded nearly £30,000 in compensation after she slipped on two grapes and broke her shoulder in a Marks & Spencer store in Bath. The fall, in October 2005, left her needing a shoulder joint replacement  operation.

"The fall has really had an effect on my life. I'm now restricted as to what I can do. I'm really glad to get the compensation money,” Mrs Plummer said.

Louise Hart, a partner at Bath law firm Withy King which represented Mrs Plummer, said "It has taken three years to resolve this hotly contested matter but we are pleased to have finally agreed an out-of-court settlement with Marks & Spencer.  We feel strongly that the accident could have been avoided if the grapes had been sold in zipped bags and a more effective cleaning policy had been in place to deal with any food spills.  When these accidents are caused by faulty products or the negligent actions of others, it is only right that the victims are compensated for their injuries and any long-term effects on their lives."

What is it with Marks & Spencer and their customers slipping over on grapes? Long time readers of Law Actually might remember this post from around this time last year concerning a very similar issue. Maybe it’s the fact that M&S simply attract more accident-prone customers than other stores.  Or maybe they’re just more litigious.

It’s strange that with all the glass products about in supermarkets, something as innocuous as a couple of grapes could cause such injury.  The zipper bags for grapes are a good idea, I suppose, though the cost will inevitably be passed on to customers. As for the ‘more effective cleaning policy’, it’s difficult to judge how reasonable that argument was. With a product like grapes, there’s always going to be the odd ‘escapee’ and should surely remain within the bounds of acceptability. Even so, there are ways for such risks to be mitigated - such as upright edges to counters where the product is displayed or by recessing the counters themselves. If, though, there were enough grapes and/or mush lying around to make a decent bottle of red wine, it’s probably a different matter.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Gmail Outage: the ‘beginning of the end for Cloud Computing’

Love GmailFrom the Financial Times 25.02.09:

Google's e-mail service, used by more than 100m people, suffered a global crash yesterday, raising concerns about the world's growing reliance on web services.

The Gmail failure lasted more than two hours from about 1.30am on the US west coast, hitting users in Europe and Asia  hardest as America slept.

The internet giant said its monitoring systems had alerted it that consumer and business accounts worldwide could not access e-mail and apologised for the inconvenience.

It is the worst failure to date for Gmail, a browser-based e-mail service that has been growing at a rate of 40 per cent a year by user numbers and gaining on its bigger rivals, Yahoo Mail and Microsoft's Hotmail.

...The crash is a blow to Google's ambitions for business e-mail and applications that it delivers over the internet. Users of its Google Apps Premier Edition, which charges $50 per account for services including Gmail, complained on support forums yesterday.

"It was difficult enough . . . convincing the rest of my company that this was a wise move [to Gmail] and the future for us. This will now make it very difficult to instill any sort of confidence," said one posting.

Heeeeere we go... how predictable was this?! While I was affected by the Gmail outage yesterday, my first reaction was principally one of surprise as Gmail is usually so reliable. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I was affected by a problem with it. I think it’s important to keep this outage in perspective, too: back in the old days of using POP3 mail (and boy, the painful memories come flooding back) the number of outages, unexplained glitches and other problems far outnumbered what we see today on almost any web-based email. Gmail is surely at the top of the pile as far as reliability is concerned – at least in my experience, though Gmail also seems best-of-breed anecdotally too.

Having a two hour outage is annoying, granted, but the fact it’s caused so much outrage is testament to the fact that cloud computing (at least as far as email is concerned) usually works so well. The conveniences of keeping your email in the cloud far outweigh any minor niggle that might pop up once in a blue moon. It’s also true that because Gmail supports IMAP, as well as the recently-added offline support via GoogleGears, problems like this could be mitigated somewhat for certain users.

Those paying for a subscription service, will obviously be more annoyed.  For the cloud computing paradigm to seriously take-off going forwards, these types of niggles clearly need to be further ironed-out.  For the majority of users, however, this disruption serves as a timely reminder that what they’re using is a FREE service which, 99.whatever percent of the time, is absolutely first rate. 

So is this a nail in the coffin for cloud computing or just an inevitable scaremongering exercise by the media? I think it’s almost certainly the latter.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Pet Peeve of the Week II – Dictaphones

DictaphonesI’ve long found Dictaphones in lectures inexplicably annoying. As devices go, they’re actually quite unobtrusive and once switched on, there isn’t any sound or other annoying attribute to contend with - unlike laptops. However, it’s the users of Dictaphones who are the problem in my experience.

To be fair, though, there are quite a few foreign students on my LLM course who make use of Dictaphones and I can absolutely see the merit in them recording lectures and seminars. I’d even go as far as saying it’s a good idea for those students whose first language isn’t English and who might be assisted by hearing the content back a second time.

However, there are a couple of UK students in two of my units who hold law degrees from the UK and who still record lectures and seminars. While I might be vaguely convinced to see the point behind recording lectures at this level, to do the same with seminars is a step too far. Are they so unsure of their note-taking ability that they need to record every single word verbatim? In a seminar where you have students piping up from all different parts of the room, it surely just becomes a jumble of discordant mumblings – particularly when people talk over each other?

The thing which really gets me is the ‘toing and froing’ of it all. Firstly, they traipse up to the front to ‘deploy’ their Dictaphones at the start of the session and then, if there is a break, they make another two trips up there at half time – once to turn it off and again to put the annoyance back on. Finally, once they’ve buffeted their way up there three times already, they then have the audacity to try it a fourth time to collect the damn thing at the end. The two students in question also strangely insist on sitting at the back of the room, meaning they need to squeeze past innumerable people each time they switch it on or off. On one occasion in a seminar (and to my immense satisfaction) when one of the two students to whom I keep referring went to place her Dictaphone at the front, the lecturer (who is known to be a little testy at times) snapped at her: “WHAT ARE YOU DOING??!!??” When she muttered something about ‘recording’, the lecturer retorted with “WHAT – IN A SEMINAR??!!” She quickly retreated like a scalded rat.

Here’s the thing I’ve always wondered, though: who really gets the time to play back (and presumably take handwritten notes from) a recording of a two-hour seminar? It’s ridiculous. If you’ve been studying law for 3 years or so and are presumably conversant in note-taking, why create the extra hassle and work of recording seminars; technology is meant to aid you and save you work – not create more.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Laptops in Lectures

I came across this amusing photo via Digg a while ago and I’m reminded just how true the message behind it is in almost every lecture I attend.  For what it’s worth, I’ve never typed notes in a lecture on a laptop or netbook; besides the temptation for distraction, I regard it as a courtesy to my fellow students not to irritate them with the constant tapping of the keys.  Others, though, don’t share my good manners.

In my competition law seminar the other day, I was amused to observe a student sitting in front of me sampling the highs and lows of what the internet has to offer while she should have been participating in the discussion regarding the ins and outs of oligopolies.  I guess that’s the inevitable downside of having a laptop with you at all times and fast WI-FI internet access – particularly where students are concerned.  We’re not, as a bunch, renowned for having the longest attention spans.Laptops in Lectures

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Happy Birthday Law Actually

Birthday Cup Cake Although it’s difficult to believe, today marks Law Actually’s second birthday. Time certainly goes quickly and in those two years, this blog has seen in excess of a two hundred posts.

It’s interesting to look back at the nascent stages of Law Actually; on 19th February 2007 and in my first post, my uncertainty as to the wisdom of setting up a second blog was clear:

“I’ve bravely decided to start a new blog, the principal reason being that my original [blog – F1 Central] was becoming just too much of a dumping-ground for the multitude of issues (besides F1) that I started to cover.”

Before that I had been blogging over at F1 Central which has withered and died completely in the last 12 months or so.

In that initial post on Law Actually, I also highlighted my tendency to veer off at tangents:

“...I’ll still diverge and digress at most given opportunities (on both blogs) but at least this way, there will be a fundamental divide between F1 and Law(ish) related-thingies.”

Obviously, some things don’t change.  But still, Law Actually wouldn’t be the same without my off-piste entries, would it?

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Dissertation Dilemma

Dissertation Dilemma I can deny it no longer: I’m in a bit of a quandary over the proposed title for my dissertation. I’ve been mulling over a few ideas for the past 3 weeks or so but can’t really say I’m any closer to making a final decision. I need to set up an appointment to meet with a lecturer (quite whom depends on what area of law I choose) to discuss my dissertation during the next couple of weeks and have to submit my dissertation synopsis by the middle of next month. Time is quickly running out.

Late last year I announced that I had one potential dissertation topic in mind: the regulation of virtual worlds. This seemed an obvious choice at the time as I had long found the area interesting, it’s undoubtedly topical and the form the legal response should take is wide open to debate. Now, I’m not so sure that this would be the right move.

My main fear is that I don’t want to go lock-stock-and-barrel down the whole ‘regulatory theorist’ route if I can at all help it. Realistically, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I don’t want to go too far down this route as a degree of regulatory theory seems unavoidable in a postgrad dissertation – at least in the units I’m studying. My concern, in part, is that it might be a touch difficult to write a dissertation based on the regulation of virtual worlds while minimising the regulatory theory bit. Fairly logical.

I’ve also fallen victim to the fact my interests in IT law are wide and varied and feel I could select any number of areas to base my dissertation upon. The other day, I shortlisted a dozen or so potential dissertation topics in IT law alone – an exercise, I reflected later, that merely served to confuse me yet further. And even if I opt for the virtual worlds topic, there’s still the question of refining my dissertation question; to what extent should I narrow the topic down, if at all? For instance, I have been contemplating focusing on the role criminal law can play in this area, or examining the intellectual property considerations in isolation.

I think I’ve become so obsessed with the need to select a killer topic that will interest and excite (if that’s the right word) me during the 12 weeks of the summer which we’re ‘required’ to set aside to write the thing, that I’ve painted myself into a corner where I’m almost scared to make a final decision. Like many of my peers, a good portion of those 12 weeks will, in fact, be spent working, earning a little money back, having shelled out another few thousand on furthering my education through this course. Thus, I’m anxious to select a topic will still ignite my enthusiasm when I return home tired, bored and frustrated after a day in ‘regular’ employment. It’s also got to be interesting enough to provide me with the incentive to dip in and out of it during the time I don’t spend working.

What I can safely say is that I am certain I don’t want to write a dissertation on competition law. In fact, I strongly regret ever having taken this module but, having sampled (and thoroughly enjoyed) competition law as an undergrad, it always seemed a no-brainer and featured on my unit choice list right from the beginning. Oh well. You live and learn.

My other modules (company law, corporate governance and IT law) are all subjects from which I could select a topic to base my dissertation on. Besides, IT law, I’m probably gravitating more towards corporate governance, being influenced in no small part by a (rather surprising) interest in this subject and, more to the point, extremely praiseworthy feedback I received from my recent assignment which surpassed all of my expectations.

But again, I’ve got several interests in this area, too. From those I’ve shortlisted so far, I’d probably opt for something related to the role that non-executive directors play (or could play) in corporate governance as I think this area is one which could give me the most elbow room for original thought. Ironically, far from side-stepping the regulatory theory issue, though, selecting such a topic would be walking directly into it.

So where does this leave me? In a pretty confused, perplexed state – that’s where. Or, put another way, in exactly the same position I was when I started this term.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

If Valentine’s Day cards told the truth…

If romance has well and truly deserted you and/or you’re a hardcore valentine’s cynic, this will no doubt appeal.  I stumbled across this gem on via Digg a couple of days ago and the full list is well worth checking out. 

Beggars  Dating Clothes


Bee Mine Recycled Valentines

Friday, 13 February 2009

Calibri Font Proves Letter was Fraudulent

CalibriI discovered this intriguing story over at the Office Rocker blog earlier:

“Lucille Hester who was accused of fraud after reading out her half brother’s supposed posthumous letter.  The letter said to be written by football star and former Olympic sprinter, Bob Hayes, was read out on national TV.  Later it was shown to be using Calibri – a font that didn’t exist before Office 2007 and wasn’t invented until 2003.  Hayes died in 2002.”

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Canned Mosquitoes

mosquito From CPD Webinars 09.02.08:

A woman has been awarded compensation after she was unfairly dismissed from her job for raising health and safety concerns after fleas bit her.
Waitress Maria Moon, 46, was fired from her job at Hafan y Môr holiday centre in Pwllheli, Gwynedd in May 2008. The tribunal accepted that the reason she had been sacked was because she raised health and safety issues after suffering the flea bites in a chalet where she lived.

In May 2008 she was dismissed, allegedly because management found that the coffee shop was overstaffed.  It was decided by the tribunal that although there was overstaffing no-one else was seriously considered.  The tribunal said, it was far more likely that her dismissal was triggered by her having raised health and safety issues.

This reminded me somewhat of that infamous stunt Bill Gates pulled last week at the TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) conference in a bid to raise the profile of his charitable work in third world countries. On stage, he released into the unwitting audience a jar full of mosquitoes claiming: “I brought some mosquitoes - we’ll let them roam around the auditorium. There’s no reason only the poor should experience this…” 

Good ol’ Bill.

Suffice it to say, it didn’t do much to raise public opinion of Gates who was later labelled “a d*ck” on TWiT and probably far, far worse by everyone present in the auditorium. The mosquitoes were allegedly vetted to be free from malaria but who knows what other nasties they might have been carrying. 

A lot of commentators have pointed to the fact that Gates should have been able to find a more acceptable way to get his point across. Interestingly, the debate on TWiT highlighted the fact that it’s illegal under both state and federal law to bring mosquitoes (or other disease-carrying vectors) into the California from abroad. John C. Dvorak also claimed that he knew “2 or 3 people” who have filed complaints against Gates in respect of his on stage antics.  However, this obviously presupposes that the mosquitoes were ‘sourced’ from outside the state.

Worthy though the topic might be, his method was a touch extreme; had I been in attendance and went home with mosquito bites, I’d been pretty darn angry. An analogy was also drawn between Gates’ mosquito stunt and laying on a lavish buffet when, after your guests have gorged themselves, smugly admit you’ve laced it with salmonella as it “shouldn’t just be citizens in third world countries who have to contend with such problems”. Interesting point.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Noise in the Night

Night Noise When I finally got to bed last night, any visions of getting a restful night’s sleep quickly evaporated.  I was pretty tired having returned to finish off some Company Law preparation for a seminar later today after foolishly opting to take an hour or so out watching Whitechapel on ITV which quickly led into other TV viewing – you know how these things go down. 

Just after 2AM we were woken by a banging, thudding sound that occurred every few minutes but without any obvious pattern. It seemed to be coming from outside or just inside the front of the house.  Before I realised the time in my sleepy stupor, I had initially put it down to the guy next door leaving for work as he does at 5.45.  Somewhat annoyed, I got up and investigated: looked out of the bedroom windows, went downstairs and looked out there too.  It was definitely something at the front of the house and seemed near the front door.  I opened that and peered out – nothing.  This was getting tiresome.

I went back and reported to my girlfriend that I couldn’t find an explanation.  We advanced several theories as to what it might be: a door or window banging in the wind (we couldn’t find any so thought it might be our neighbours’), a satellite dish or aerial dangling by its wire and banging against the house, water pipes freezing up and, in a similarly fanciful vein, I even propounded the idea it was ‘ice falling off the roof and hitting the roof of the porch’.  I know, I know.  In my defence, it was a little snowy last night!

We tried to sleep again but the banging was just that bit too regular and a touch too loud.  I repeated my investigative tour of the house again, opening several windows and looked over the front of the house before returning, similarly perplexed, by just what the hell this noise was.

A little after 3AM I’d had enough.  I was going to solve this aggravating night mystery even if it meant exploring outside, getting cold and probably wet into the bargain.  I got dressed and opened the bedroom window and peered downwards.  And there, swinging in the wind, was the door to the gas meter housing which every now and then slapped shut or, when the wind blew in the other direction, banged back against the house.

I knew the meter door didn’t fasten well when we moved in last June and had taken the ‘temporary’ measure of wedging the door with a piece of card.  With the snow and sleet blowing against the front of the house last night, that trusty wedge must have finally become so soggy that it fell out.  I quickly fashioned a new paper wedge, somewhat appropriately from the ‘community newsletter’ that I found at the top of our recycling pile in the kitchen. 

That did the trick thankfully.  Still, I’m pretty tired after my nocturnal excursions and am not much in the mood for a company law seminar later.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Privacy Law – In Need of a Legislative Broom?

Privacy Law From Outlaw 03/02/09:

Parliament will investigate privacy law in the UK and may give the law a 'nudge', Justice Minister Jack Straw has said. A select committee of MPs will look into how the law has developed and how it is being implemented by courts, he said.

How has the law developed? I can think of some fairly colourful responses to that. For the present, however, I think the following would all be particularly apt:

· Slowly  · Painfully  · Inconsistently  · Awkwardly

· Incoherently 

There are a bunch of other words I could include but a list has to stop somewhere. Of course, many of these descriptions are also applicable to how the law has been implemented by the courts.

“Historically, the UK has not had a law of privacy, but one has emerged in recent years that has combined confidentiality laws covering the exchange of information with human rights laws protecting the right to a private life.

Courts have ruled in several cases that the publication of information violates these laws, and
these judgments will form the basis of future rulings.

That case law was ferociously attacked last year by powerful Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre [in the aftermath of Mosley v NGN Ltd [2008] EWHC 1777] who condemned the fact that it had developed through the courts and not through Parliament.

Straw has told Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights, though, that a committee of MPs will look into the development of the law.”

Recent developments in privacy rights in the context of ‘celebrity newsgathering’ have illustrated that the law has now swung to opposite end of the spectrum whereby the courts have been inclined to attach more weight to the individual’s right to privacy than to the right to freedom of expression for the press. This change has happened relatively quickly: in 2002 both the Flitcroft and Theakston cases saw a ‘naming and shaming approach’ for celebrities caught in compromising situations robustly endorsed by the courts. Since Campbell and now Mosley, however, the approach has clearly changed.

The current test which evolved out the wealth of jurisprudence in this area essentially involves examining whether the individual had a reasonable expectation of privacy in all the material circumstances. If that is the case, there is then a need to move on to balance the right of privacy under Article 8 of the ECHR with the right to freedom of expression pursuant to Article 10. An inherent part of this balancing act is determining whether there is countervailing public interest that can justify the intrusion.

Mr Justice Eady has come in for a lot of ‘stick’ in recent times – not least in the aftermath of the Mosley decision. Eady J has had heard the majority of high-profile cases in this area and because of this, it’s no surprise that he was very much at target in Dacre’s scathing attack last year.

The Times notes how far-reaching Mr Justice Eady’s contributions to this area of law are perceived to be:

“Mr Dacre told the audience at the Society of Editors’ annual conference in Bristol that the judge’s “amoral” judgments, in this and other defamation and libel cases, were “inexorably and insidiously” imposing a privacy law on the press.”

Moreover, “[Dacre accused Eady J] of bringing in a privacy law by the back door: the judge, he said, had used the Human Rights Act against the age-old freedom of newspapers to expose moral shortcomings of people in high places.”

So what’s the Justice Minister’s take on privacy?

Again from the Times:

Lord Lester of Herne Hill, one of the Joint Committee members, asked Mr Straw where he stood on privacy: the Mail interview, Lord Lester said, gave the impression that Mr Straw would like to weaken the Human Rights Act, “so as to make it easier for the press to make unwarranted attacks on personal privacy”.

Straw did not say where he stood — other than backing the forthcoming privacy review. But he did indicate support for the Act’s critics. “Those of us keen to ensure that the legacy of the Human Rights Act continues and thrives need to be alive to that criticism — and respond to it,” he said.

The realisation of privacy rights under English law is essentially achieved via a blatant shoehorning of privacy rights into the law of breach of confidence. Have Parliament finally recognised the need for a legislative broom to sweep clean the detritus of confusion which plagues the law relating to privacy?

Without doubt, it’s high time for a review at the very least and considering afresh whether legislating is the way to go. Whether this leads to a ‘Privacy Act’, though, is another matter entirely. Ironically, this area of law has weathered greater uncertainty than it’s currently plagued with and it could be argued the courts are actually demonstrating a greater degree of creativity and recognition of wider societal issues when adjudicating than ever before. For instance, the case of David Murray v Big Pictures Limited [2008] EWCA Civ 446. involving photos taken of J.K. Rowling’s son as well as the application of the Harassment Act 1997 in respect of compromising photos published on an aggrieved former-lover’s Facebook profile illustrate that the jurisprudence is developing in a way that is factoring-in modern technologies and the privacy implications that the internet and social networking brings with it.  The equivalent could certainly not have been said in the early days of wiretapping by police nor in how the courts dealt with early forms of harassment via telephone.

Now, though, privacy issues seem to rank much higher on the list of priorities.  Currently, privacy concerns have been elevated to an all time high by virtue of the rise of the internet as a publishing medium, the Web 2.0 phenomenon and society’s voracious appetite for celebrity gossip which has fuelled the ever-more aggressive and intrusive behaviour of the press.  Also, in direct response to the Mosley case, perhaps it’s been recognised that the jurisprudence has developed in a direction which is now no longer deemed suitable and legislation is required to ‘nudge’ it back on track.

The use of the ‘legislative broom’ may help in certain areas to sweep clean and clear up the awkward uncertainty such as the apparent conflating of the right pursuant to Article 10 of freedom of expression with the ‘public interest defence’ in some judgements.  Whether privacy law which is more favourable to the press is the right approach to be taking going forwards, however, seems less clear.

In any event, the Times concludes: If legislation is mooted, then it will be an irony to think that Mr Justice Eady himself — when on the Calcutt committee that reported in 1990 on privacy — favoured a privacy law. The difference is that any new law would not be seeking to curb the press but to free it.

Friday, 6 February 2009

All Snowed In – Not the Weather for Law

Snow Closure The Law School had the good sense to cancel all classes today as a load more snow was dumped from the heavens overnight. My schedule dictates that I don’t go in to Uni on Thursdays but I wouldn’t have much fancied my chances in making it all there had I had lectures. Instead, I was able to get a load of my company law notes done but, suffice it to say, didn’t get quite as much done as I’d planned. Story of my life, it seems.

Today, when I realised we’d been (partially) snowed in for a second consecutive morning, I deliberated whether to try and make it in at all. Still, I thought I might as well try, as I feared I’d be plagued with guilt if I just stayed at home and made no attempt to wrestle with the inclement conditions out there. Fortunately, I had the foresight to check my Uni email account before leaving and learned of the cancellation before getting my ‘feets’ cold and wet outside.

Another day of company law notes then.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

The ‘WTF’ Snuggie Blanket

Seeing as the UK is in the unrelenting grip of a cold snap at the moment, this might just be the perfect product to keep you ‘warm and toasty’ this winter.  Or maybe not.

This gem of advertising parody can only be truly appreciated once you’ve seen the original ‘snuggie’ ad which started it all off.  I actually saw the parody first and found it difficult to believe that the graphical content was really from a ‘genuine’ ad and that this ‘blanket with sleeves’ was out there on the market.  But, with consumerism being what it is (particularly in America) it really IS out there, in all its hopeless glory. 


Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Google Developments

Gmail picture

Google have really been cranking up the creative lever recently and have released a number of improvements to their already excellent Gmail service.

I’ve been a big fan of Gmail dating back to September 2004 when I first signed up to an account and quickly recognised Google’s email offering for what it was: an online e-mail service that could rival the functionality of locally-based email accessed through a ‘client’.   Up to that point web-based email was undoubtedly the poor relation of email solutions but Google’s offering quickly changed all that. Back then, Gmail didn’t offer IMAP support so there was no choice but to use it via a browser but the huge benefits of keeping email ‘out there’ in cyberspace were nonetheless obvious. And this is years before the phrases ‘Cloud Computing’ and ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) were ever coined.

Today, of course, people who aren’t keeping their email in the ‘cloud’ are just blatantly behind the curve and potentially courting disaster should their hard disk fail or some other misfortune strike that makes their locally-based email inaccessible.

Most recently, Gmail has seen offline support via their Google Gears technology be added to the extensive list of bells and whistles that Gmail already boasted. A quick look down the Google Mail labs list in your account quickly reveals a long list of truly innovative – if rather peculiar – experimental features.  While I’ve found the tasks list, superstars, quick links and custom label colours features all extremely useful, I can’t say the same for all of them.  Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever find a need for ‘Mail Goggles’ or ‘Old Snakey’. 

This morning, I noticed that the menu bar in Gmail has been updated which has revealed some interesting ‘muscle memory’ that I’ve developed over the past few years when deleting email.  The bar’s visual refresh - which, dare I say it looks a little ‘Windows 7 esque’ - has seen the delete button move to the left.  Because of this, I’ve been hitting the ‘Labels’ button all morning instead of delete which has made my morning task of wading through emails a touch more tiresome that usual. 

Of course, Google illustrated on Saturday afternoon that even they aren’t above a slip-up when every hit from their search engine was marked as potentially harmful to your computer. Cheeky Google even had the audacity to flag up Law Actually as harmful:

 Law Actually Harmful

Google have since admitted that the problem which reportedly lasted for about 40 minutes was caused by ‘human error’ but nonetheless left millions of web users scratching their heads for a while.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Pretty Damn Cold

Damn Cold Yes, God help us - another cold snap has descended on the UK. When I first heard about the second very cold spell of this (very cold) winter heading our way I was none too pleased. Now it’s arrived, my spirits have sunk even further. Despite being a timber-framed house and being by far the most modern I’ve lived in for the past few years, it’s also easily the coldest.

We’ve actually escaped quite lightly from the snow – so far, anyway. Still, there was enough for my girlfriend to give her customary shriek of delight this morning on seeing snow outside, though her mood dampened when she remembered she had to go to work. I’m meant to be in the city all day tomorrow for my dreaded ‘alternate Tuesday schedule’ – 3 seminars and a lecture, though with more snow predicted for tonight, I’m hoping I’m not going to have too much of a time of it trying to get in tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, I’ve barricaded myself in my office with enough layers of clothing on to challenge even the Michelin Man’s considerable girth while I try to absorb as much of the heat given off by my PC as possible. Having given my IT law preparation rather cursory attention, I now have my competition law textbook to wade through. Oh joy.

And just to compound my misery even further, Dyno-Rod have turned up to pump the drains across the street in a very noisy manner!