Sunday, 31 July 2011

Blogger’s brush with death

By way of introduction, I first discovered the social media sensation Caitlin Oppermann during the IT module on my LLM (ah - it’s always nice to hark back to those happy days!!) when she was interviewed for an article which appeared in NY Magazine about her rather avant-garde use of social media as a college student.  

She’s an interesting, quirky character (though I’m not sure how much I like her ‘new for 2011’ half shaved head, but hey-ho, each to their own).  She has a huge following and a refreshing ‘edge of your seat’ approach to social media and blogging. 

In short, I like her style (hair dos excluded) and I’ve always felt there need to be more bloggers like that. I think there’s a bunch of legal bloggers out there who can learn a lot from Caitlin.

Anyhow, I digress…

From Caitlin Oppermann’s tumblr blog 27/07/11:

A week ago tonight I was hit by a car while riding my bike.

When the car hit me, I went over the hood and hit the windshield and my bike was thrown away from the car. I didn’t hit my head hard (luckily I was wearing a helmet anyway) but my legs took the bulk of the impact.

When I rolled off of the car and into the street, the woman driving got out, quickly and absent-mindedly asked me if I was ok, and then ran across the street to frantically chase down witnesses to insure that she wouldn’t be liable.

Don’t ya just love what we’ve degenerated into?

My bike was mangled, I was bleeding and swelling and I had no way to get home. I was too out of it to call an ambulance or even the police and somehow I let the lady (and her family, who were all in the car) drive me home with my mangled bike hanging out of the back of the trunk.

I got home, realized that my ankle was swelling and starting to throb as well, and went to the emergency room. I waited for 4 hours, didn’t see anyone, and went home.

The abridged version is that she’s OK, eventually got her wounds seen to and luckily suffered no broken bones.  Sadly, though, she’s been left as a semi nervous wreck with a fear of cycling.

tumblr_loz0haz1t71qz6kd4o1_1280 (Small)

Whoah!  As Crocodile Dundee might have said: now THAT’S a bruise.

(Btw, I wasn’t sure it seemed quite proper posting a picture of Caitlin’s inner thigh.  But hey, we’ve all got them and she was obviously comfortable posting the pictures on her blog in the first place).

I do hope this nasty incident doesn’t put Caitlin off cycling for life; coming from someone who was ran over by a post van as a child, I think it’s important to get back into the saddle as soon as possible. Literally.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Lawyers + 2012 Olympics = Disaster


Or so the senior partner would have you believe. What a killjoy. Bast*rd.

olympic torch

From Law Society Gazette 21/07/11:

City firms have already begun putting action plans in place to deal with the disruption caused by the London 2012 Olympics, the Gazette has learned.

London 2012 organisers have written to all firms in the capital warning that capacity on rail and underground services will be stretched unless they take action, with passengers facing delays of up to an hour just to use certain key stations.

You WHAT? “Will be stretched”?  You’re kidding me. It’s stretched now; during the Olympics it’s safe to say that London’s transport infrastructure will simply buckle in two and implode. 

“Delays of up to an hour”. Christ – sounds like their aiming for an improvement then.  Don’t believe a bit of it.

Law firms including Linklaters, Simmons & Simmons and Hogan Lovells are putting together action plans more than a year before the Olympics begin on 27 July, including working from home and staggered start and finish times.

Yes, because those memos saying, “don’t come into the office but work from home on these dates” take such a long time to draft.

I rather fancy lawyers are going to get a taste for the working-from-home lark. Everyone moans that it blurs the boundary between home life and work (hmmph, home life – whatever that is?) and it gets them into bad practices, not going into the office means they can’t escape the drudgery of married life for that blissful 8-9 hours a day yadda yadda yadda. I don’t know: I find that I’m strangely productive on the odd occasion I work from home.

One partner at another major City firm told the Gazette that it was expecting productivity to be half that of a normal month, due to transport problems, staff absence and the annual August slowdown.

‘You’re going to have to expect a major hit for the length of the Olympics and Paralympics,’ he said.

‘All firms are having to integrate it into their financial planning as you’ll be looking just to cover your costs during August.’

Oh gawd. Talk about talking the sparkle off it already. Perhaps all lawyers should just stay at home and sulk for the duration of the Olympics.

Ooh – which reminds me.  I’m one of the lucky ones who has tickets!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

'appiness for employers

From Roll on Friday 14/07/11:

Scottish firm MacRoberts has joined the twenty-first century and released an app for the iPhone, which allows bosses to find out just how cheaply they can get rid of unwanted employees.

Yay.  And what employer doesn’t want that facility?

I’m pleased to announce I’ll soon be adding something similar to the ever-expanding line of Law Actually products and services.   

Called the ‘fire-o-meter’ (Fireometer) “fire-omm-eater”... you get how I’m saying that - it’s frightfully important!!), it will use your smart phone’s camera and facial recognition technology to spy on your employees and measure their productivity.  

There’s a nifty little slider which an iPhone or Android wielding employer can use to set his or her expectation levels for individual employees and if the camera spies them falling below that standard, it will ping you an email alert telling you to get rid.   Windows Phone 7 users will have to carry on waiting for this app.  They’re clearly gluttonous for punishment anyway.  

Employment law app - fireometer

The app niftily links in to your employee records to determine when they started work (for the purposes of calculating notice periods) and what role they hold (or should that be held?)

The Fireometer has three defined levels for dealing with unwanted employees:

  1. For the once-useful and formerly valued members of staff, it will suggest a one-to-one meeting in which you fire them in person and give them a parting, it’s-nothing-personal slap on the back.  Helpfully, the Fireometer automatically sets up the calendar entries and the meeting request for you.  If you prefer, you can pre-record the firing message via the app and simply press play to avoid any unpleasantness of having to verbally fire the individual in person.
  2. Secondly, there’s the standard firing by email or text with the requisite notice, (all  fully automated).  The email contains a video of Donald Trump in typical culling pose with his firing forefinger fully extended in which he shouts, “You’re lazy, you’re stupid, and you’ve been nothing but trouble... you know what [X], You’re Fired!!”. 
  3. Finally, for the most egregious shirkers and generally hopeless employees (and, let’s face it, there are a lot of them out there)  it advises you to, ‘stick them out with the trash’.   You’re left to interpret that as you please.
Naturally, we’re following the freemium model; the above functionality is available in the free version.  However, the paid version of the app does two extra things:
  1. It fires an email with all the relevant details off to a local law firm which specialises in employment law so they can help clear up the resultant mess.  (btw, we’ve bullet proof T&Cs... all liability is excluded... so don’t come crying to us when you find yourself with an appointment at an Employment Tribunal).
  2. It cross-checks the details of the role the ex-employee was doing and sends off requests to recruitment agencies for a replacement.  (Out with the old and in with the new and all that!!)
We’re expecting that law firms and recruitment agencies will be anxious to be included in this service.  Btw, if that sounds like you, and you want to be added, just email: for our standard terms and rates.  ;-)

I think you’ll agree: this added functionality is the perfect time-saver for the slap-happy employer who doesn’t have the time to source their own employment lawyer or fresh stock of employees.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

How to back up … correctly

Found via How to Geek 30/05/11.

How to back up correctly

Painfully true.

Which reminds me: my old external hard drive which was my primary backing up drive but is now my secondary backing up drive because it went on the blink (slightly) is now my tertiary backing up drive because I bought another external hard drive to become my primary backing up drive after I relegated the previously new primary backing up drive to become the secondary when I got the third.

No, that’s not quite right… or is it?

Anyway, the one that’s on the blink is now even more on the blink and probably has to be retired all together.  Which means, I need a, what, quaternary drive to…

Oh forget it.  I just need to back up again.  Bugger.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Maybe it’s a cultural thing

annoying childWhy is it half of US blawgers only seem to blawg about their kids?

Maybe it’s a cultural thing.  Or maybe I'm less sympathetic because I'm not a parent?  I don’t know and I don’t really care.

All I know is that reading about other people's kids bores me to tears.

And I’ve had enough; here comes a clear-out session of my RSS subscriptions!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Drunkards & Hand Sanitizer

hand sanitizer

From the Telegraph 20/06/11:

A man who drank six bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitiser while being treated in an Australian hospital for alcoholism has sparked calls for the antibacterial gels to be better secured.

Well, if alcoholics drink methylated spirits or whatever else they can get their trembling hands on, what’s so surprising about them drinking hand sanitizer?

Doctors said in a letter published on Sunday in the Medical Journal of Australia that they were stunned to discover the man had downed six 375-millilitre (12.7-ounce) bottles of hand sanitiser, giving him a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.271 per cent. That's more than five times higher than the 0.05 per cent legal limit for driving in Australia.

Dr. Michael Oldmeadow, an internist at The Alfred hospital in Melbourne city, said that although the incident was not the first of its kind, it was the most serious case he had seen and the man is lucky to have survived.

"It surprised us that he drank this stuff," Oldmeadow said, according to the Australian Associated Press. "It's horrendous. You'd think it would taste pretty bad."

Funnily enough, I’ve only recently jumped on the hand sanitizer bandwagon, and I have to say, it’s strangely addictive. (As a hand cleanser, I mean. Nothing more).

The stuff I’m using smells pretty damn good and whilst I don’t fancy drinking any, I do find myself squirting it about with increasing frequency. My mouse and laptop at work have even had a surreptitious squirt. 

Let’s hope I’m not developing any OCD tendencies. 

Right, blog post done, time to wash my hands.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Laptops in bed and cyber widows

and who said romance was deadFrom the Daily Mail 11/07/11:

    • “How men use technology to avoid intimacy in relationships”

Ah, there you go. Thanks for that bullet point, Daily Mail. When I read that, I thought this article was going to be about chaps heading into Ann Summers and coming out with something expensive which vibrates to avoid having to suffer the pains of sex any longer. Turns out your article had so much more in store.

My dislike for the Daily Mail aside, this is all very relevant stuff – particularly for under-pressure lawyers who rarely seem to be able to discern where the working day starts and ends. A lot of us are becoming surgically attached to our email (I know I am) and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I also know (more or less) where to draw the line. And if I misjudge it, my girlfriend soon tells me – one way or another.

There’s nothing wrong with breaking out the laptop and checking emails after work, but everyone needs to know when enough is enough. Surely it’s not that difficult?

Some evenings, we’d barely say more than a few words to each other,’ says Victoria, 38, a full-time mother.

‘When Craig came home at night, he’d have something to eat, then he’d open up his laptop to respond to work emails.

I still think this ‘technology-is-killing-my-relationship’ stuff is an utter fallacy. Technology use and spending quality time together needn’t be mutually exclusive. It’s down to users taking responsibility for your own conduct and not using modern communications as a pretext for why an ailing relationship is on shaky ground.

But hey – at least the Daily Mail got to fill up some column inches with this tripe. In between the bikini shots of whatever c-list trailer trash their photographers could snap, of course.

‘His virtual self became more important than his real self. We didn’t row about it — I’d try to make conversation, get no response and give up.

Maybe you’re just a boring conversationalist with nothing interesting to say, Vicky? Or perhaps you should have pinged him an email.

It wasn’t that we weren’t getting on. We just stopped communicating. Then, one evening, he sent an email to me that was meant for a colleague. It wasn’t racy or intimate, but it was flirty and jokey.

Oooh – flirty and jokey. The best kind then!

‘I felt sick to my stomach.

Oh, Christ... here we go...

He told me there was nothing in it. I believed him, but I realised he had more intimacy with this woman than he did with me.

I think that rather depends on your definition of intimacy. But still.

‘These days, people are on their mobiles at dinner; they spend hours on the computer or watching TV; and they are more connected to their Facebook friends than to the person they promised to love and cherish until death do them part.

I don’t use my mobile at dinner - that’s just rude. Plus it might get greasy in the process. But we do usually watch TV, stream something or are held up in separate rooms sulking after an argument. I thought that was just modern co-habiting bliss?

Facebook is cited in one in five divorces, according to lawyers, while a survey by website Divorce Online found that the phrase ‘mobile phone’ occurred in one in eight divorces citing unreasonable behaviour.

Yes, but that’s usually because the aggrieved partner has threatened to wedge it up their former lover’s a*s for cheating on them.

And let’s face facts: you can’t blame phone manufacturers adding cameras to their phones for your partner’s wandering eye. It’s the damn fault of the mobile network operators who make it so easy to send that snap of your naughty bits to a colleague for kinky thrills in a matter of seconds. Trying to do the same with Polaroids just wasn’t the same.

‘Technology is interrupting our relationships and allowing us to avoid each other. It has become a way of avoiding real relationships and intimacy.

Oh please! Technology can bring people together just as much as it can drive them apart. It’s how it’s used that matters. And this isn’t anything new; I’m sure television was looked upon as destroying the quiet tranquillity of family life when it first hit the big time. The fact that your hubby would rather exchange dirty emails with a colleague about how he’s going to ravage her over the boardroom table next week instead keeping up the pretence that your sham of a marriage is working, doesn’t mean that technology is to blame.

Maybe it’s time to start looking closer to home for the cause of your problems.

Just a thought.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

The week my blog died

Don’t worry: it’s been resuscitated.

My traffic levels have dropped through the floor this past week - prompting a full scale inquiry. Ahem.

I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of exactly what happened (I can’t be bothered to, quite frankly) but let’s just say there was a fundamental problem with my blog template code which was producing a significant lag on loading and I lacked the knowledge, ability and patience to adequately fix it.

So, I’ve had to doctor one of blogger’s new rather awful looking templates.

I don’t know: the longer I stay with blogger the more disenchanted I become. I’m happy to move to another provider and pay for something decent and, with that in mind, reactivated my squarespace account which I see I opened in July 2008.

If and when I find a way of moving my blog over without my pagerank dropping off a cliff, I might just do it. Maybe I should finally move over to my custom domain (instead of just redirecting) and then export the whole thing over to squarespace. I see squarespace provides for SEO preservation of custom domain imports, though I’ve no idea how effective it is and I think there will be a fair amount of drop off. 

What I do know for certain is that blogger has given me the frickin’ squits these last few days and I don’t think I can forgive and forget.

Anyway, apologies for the rather sloppy new template but I’m stuck with it for now.  It’s very loosely based on a theme that I had planned to introduce this summer anyway but I was hoping to produce something half decent before letting it loose.

I’ll see how it goes over the next few weeks before making a final decision.  Let’s hope I don’t have to pull the plug entirely.  ;-)

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Path’s become ‘too dangerous for wheelchair’

stream injury

Photo courtesy of James McCauley

Not my headline; it’s the witty, attention-grabbing header chosen by the South Gloucestershire Observer dated 07/07/11.  Oh yes!

Eye rolling smile

A woman was injured after falling from a footpath the city council has failed to make safe, despite pledges it would do so.

She was rescued from a stream after slipping from the path between Water Lane [appropriately named?!], Tesco supermarket and Calington Road, Brislington.

It is not clear how she ended up in the water but four Avon fire and rescue appliances and Great Western Ambulance Service were needed to get her out of the water and onto a spinal board.

“It’s not clear how the woman ended up in the water?” How about – she slipped?

More to the point, why on earth did it take 4 fire engines and crews to get her out of a stream? Talk about adding insult to injury. Was it not enough that the poor woman suffered the ignominy of going a over t into a stream without the local rag implying she’s the size of a fully grown rhino!

A fire service spokeswoman said the woman had fallen 2m into the water.

Good to see the roving reporter actually did some kind of research then.  Strange that the fact the woman ended up in the water remained a mystery to them then!

Phil Collins, Note[traa la la] Notewho lives with his disabled, 82-year old mum Margaret on nearby Homemead Drive, said the path was far too treacherous to take her along in her wheelchair.

… The woman who fell in the stream was taken to hospital with back injuries but it is not believed that she was seriously hurt.

Huh!  And what about her pride after this brarmer went to press?

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

­Owner’s Workshop Manual for Lawyers

Oh yes, folks. It’s finally here: an owner’s workshop manual specifically for lawyers.

(I know what you’re asking: what took us so long!!)

Whether you’re an embittered client, long-suffering spouse or bemused parent struggling to get your head around just why your child had to go and sully the family tree by marrying a lawyer, help is at hand.

This book is designed to give you a fighting chance of understanding that rather curious species in modern life - the lawyer.Haynes Owners Manual for Lawyers

Granted, it might not help you work out what makes a solicitor or barrister tick, but it might just give you pointers on what you can do to make being in their company a touch more bearable.

It includes answers all those lawyery-questions you’ve been longing to know, such as:

-   Why are weekends just two more days of the working week?

-   How can you prevent Jonathan from clockwatching down the pub when he’s so obviously itching to calculate social time in billable units? (N.B. A general workaround is suggested involving a long handled screwdriver and a gasket!! – not for the faint-hearted though!!).

Whilst lawyers can be alien creatures, conventionally renowned for being aloof, slippery and incredibly self-righteous, this book hopefully goes some way in helping you understand them a little better – even if it doesn’t dispel all of those beliefs.

N.B. this book is not suitable defendants awaiting trial with cannibalistic tendencies quietly plotting in their cell how to dismember and eat their solicitor or counsel. Yes, this book does contain cut-away diagrams, but really, eating people is just wrong. And surely, wouldn’t lawyer-meat taste nasty?
Available in all good bookshops. (The book, that is – not lawyer-meat!)  Be right back

Saturday, 2 July 2011