Sunday, 29 July 2012

Qualify as an Attorney in New York or California

Yeah, baby.

Look what gem plopped into my inbox a few days ago.  I died a little bit inside when I read it.

Qualify as an attorney in NY or Canada

Qualifying as an attorney in the US is an exciting career option and will enhance your CV on a number of levels. Most UK graduates with an LLB will be eligible to take the New York Bar course and the California Bar course is open to qualified solicitors and barristers of England and Wales.

Great. Because I’m sure that’s exactly what the US needs – yet more lawyers in a country that’s long been lawyered-out.

So, go ahead: throw good money after bad in your legal education and help the US sink under the weight of all those attorneys once and for all.  (Heck, at least they won’t be able to chase ambulances from down there!!).  

Be right back

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Sun-seeking lawyers (and other office wallahs)

laptop sunFrom How to Geek:

Q: It’s finally getting nice and warm out… and I’d really like to work on the terrace at my office. The only problem is that my laptop screen is barely usable in the bright light! Do you have any pointers to help me enjoy some fresh air and sunshine while still getting some work done?

Working outside? Heavens to Betsy! That can’t be allowed - no matter how hot it gets.

Forget all that ‘lawyers think better with a dose of vitamin D’ malarkey. The last thing a firm wants is a claim on its hands for providing inappropriate working conditions for its staff.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I tend to find I’m not that productive working outside anyway.

But, supposing for a second staff are allowed to nip out onto the balcony with their laptops on a summer’s day. What useful guidance does How to Geek provide for working with a laptop out of doors?

The first thing you can do is avoid direct sunlight.

Are you fricking kidding me?!? Direct sunlight was the reason I decamped to the balcony in the first place!! (You know, because like most Brits, I’m determined to make the most of the 3 precious days of summer sunshine we’re allocated each year and if that means giving myself skin cancer into the bargain, so be it).

In addition to the glare on the monitor, direct sun exposure generates a lot of heat and heat is the mortal enemy of computers big and small—laptops struggle enough to stay nice and cool without the sun baking down on them.


Maybe you could get your company to splurge on a simple umbrella and stand for the terrace if there isn’t any natural shade. Often times, even in the shade though, glare is sill [sic] a problem.

If camping out under the umbrella and orienting yourself towards the sun doesn’t help, you could also use some black foam-core to build a simple laptop shade.

Oh, now you’re just being silly. You want me to fashion a laptop shade Blue Peter style?

You know what, I think I’m going to stay at my desk.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

50 shades of sauce

Brown sauce, of course.

50 shades of sauceOoh la la

From the Telegraph 10/07/12:

Raymond Hodgson, 31, was charged with common assault after being appalled to discover that his partner of five years, Emma McCormick, had been reading the racy book [50 Shades of Grey].

Racy? I think that’s the least of its offences and a wholly unsuitable adjective.  Eye rolling smile

Carlisle Magistrates' Court heard how their tiff over the book escalated to the point where Hodgson decided take to his revenge.

In court, Hodgson pleaded guilty to the single charge of common assault.

"Mr Hodgson thought that the book was pornographic, and that she should not read such literature.

It pains me that this utter tripe is associated with the word ‘literature’, but still.  I’d not even heard of this garbage until a couple of weeks ago; now I can’t open the Metro of a morning without seeing it mentioned somewhere.

"The argument continued into the following day, with the two exchanging text messages."

He went to her home at 7pm on June 26 and took with him a bottle of brown sauce.

"She answered the door and the argument continued.

"She went to close the door and he jammed his foot into the door, and then squirted her with this bottle of sauce."

When interviewed by the police, Hodgson said he felt Fifty Shades of Grey was a 'distasteful' and 'pornographic' book.

A not unreasonable point of view, I’d say. Still, no need to go squirting sauce about every which way.

Asked about his views of the book after the case, Hodgson said that he did what he did to Miss McCormick to show her what saucy really meant.

Oh Lord. I was waiting for that brarmer being dropped in.

I wonder how long it took him to think that one up.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Police and tattoos

police officer tats

I can get my head around a polar bear prancing about on a service station forecourt. I can cope with police officers snickering at the cheeky bear’s antics. But a police officer proudly bearing (ahem) his tats for the world to see whilst on duty is a step too far.

I thought my beady eyes were deceiving me this morning (or wondered whether it was a dodgy print in the Metro) but oh no – this is for real.

Truly shocking!

I thought police forces had a policy on that kind of thing. And don’t swallow that crap about tattooed officers being able to connect and relate to younger generations more easily than their clear skinned counterparts. Strangely enough, I don’t think we should be encouraging officers to look more like the inked-up charmers who beat their mothers for drug money and generally frequent local parks looking to ‘score’.

I know the police aren’t up to much in their current form, but you can’t have officers swanning around adorned with tattoos like football players fans hooligans.

Heavens to Betsy! What’s the world coming to?

The officer concerned could have popped on something with a longer sleeve, surely? Doesn’t he possess some kind of tunic?  A long sleeved shirt?

It’s a slippery slope, I’m telling you. We’ll have fire fighters putting out blazes with a stream of their own urine next.

Oh, and by the way, nice job Greenpeace!  Smile

Monday, 9 July 2012

Killing spam and digitising content

captchaThat’s what I call a win-win.

From BBC World Service 20/06/12:

Duolingo, aims to translate the entire web with the help of people starting to learn a new language. It's a project born out of guilt from the man behind one of the most annoying features of web surfing - those online security checks involving random words.

Duolingo hopes to convince millions of people to work for free and thus translate all web content in a matter of years.

As a 22-year-old graduate student in 2000, von Ahn invented the Captcha - those distorted images of words and numbers used to sign in to ticketing and social media websites, among others, which users have to decipher to prove they are human.

Erm, and to leave comments on blogs!  It’s a necessary evil we all have to endure to prevent comment bots leaving faux comments with hyperlinks in their name or the content of the post in the hope of adding google juice to their own sites. Sadly it doesn’t stop the human commenters doing the same thing (in virtual sweatshops in ahem, developing countries).  They’re one of the true evils of the internet as far as I’m concerned and they make me want to vomit.

The software is used by more than 350,000 websites to prevent computer programs from attacking them with spam. In 2007, von Ahn realised that 200 million Captchas were being typed by people all over the world every day.

"At first I felt really good about that because I thought, 'Look at the impact that I've had'," he says. "But then I starting feeling bad."

Typing each Captcha takes about 10 seconds, he estimates. Multiply that by 200 million, and humanity as a whole is wasting about 500,000 hours on these security codes every day.

Still, that seems a small price to pay if it helps keep spammers at bay.

He decided to put these hours to good use and devised ReCaptcha, a system that uses each human-typed response as both a security check and a means to digitise books one word at a time.

ReCaptchas use two words - one generated by the computer, the other taken from the pages of an old book, newspaper or journal that the system is digitising.

Each page has to be scanned individually, then run through a programme that transcribes every word. Computers have trouble reading text when pages are more than 50 years old, where paper is torn or yellowed or the typeface faded.

A human can do this easily - but can't always be relied on to get it right. When a user gets the first word right, the system logs their second response.

It then collates the most popular responses from a number of people.

Clever. Very clever.

All of that doesn't detract from the fact that for most people, these security codes are nothing more than a frustrating waste of time.

Frustrating – yes, but not a waste of time.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Meet Marmite - the Law Actually bunny

Marmite the BunnyCallsign: “the Marmster”. 

Also known as, “the Fluffster”, “Marms”, “Marmy”,” Boo-Boos” and “Bunster” (don’t ask).

Marmite is a rescue bunny, who’s been happily ensconced in Law Actually HQ for over 11 weeks now!!  My gf kept bunnies back in her pigtail-sporting school days, and adopting a rabbit was something we had been thinking about for a while.

We bought Marmite a big double-decker outdoor hutch, but during his ‘adjustment phase’ he kind of got used to being a house bunny. He’s got a whole room to himself (as well as being free to roam generally downstairs whilst we’re about). He loves escaping into the Law Actually campus grounds garden, enjoying the fresh air and nibbling at our freshly sprouted lawn, plants and shrubs.  But he loves a good scamper up the stairs to see what he can snout up there too. 

Marmite SittingHe must have been used to being largely hutch bound in his previous life as he struggled to adjust to having so much freedom (and space) when he first moved in with us. He’s settled down nicely since.

Marmite on GrassHe has a rather quirky habit of coming indoors for toilet sessions when he’s out in the garden - because going outside would be the height of rudeness, of course.  He’s certainly well toilet trained and his litter tray is contained in a large box which he likes to think of as his en suite.

In view of his sparkling performance since he arrived, I quickly promoted Marmite to Head of Security at Law Actually where he’s already proved his worth. About 3 weeks ago, he scared off intruders in the Law Actually data centre; it turns out some bunch of scoundrels were trying to make off with my computer speakers, but Marms foiled their plot. Despite giving chase, the Marmster couldn’t catch them. Strangely, I didn’t see anything of the intruders, but Marms insists there were 3 of them. The only evidence left of the crime was my speaker cable neatly cut in two and curious nicks up the length of various other cables.

I’ve since purchased new computer speakers (and Marms-proofed the door). Ahem.

Marmite SpinxingFavourite activities: Chewing shoelaces, nosing at everything, munching, being stroked, spontaneous binkying and generally scampering around.

Favourite foods: grass, broccoli, parsnips, carrots, the occasional grape and bunny nuggets (not forgetting his “box o’ hays”).

He’s very computer literate (for a bunny) and enjoys jumping all over laptop keyboards. Maybe I should let him write a post on here every now and then…

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Updated blog theme

It must be that time of year again – Law Actually’s gotten a makeover.

It’s not a massive change; it retains the same template structure but has thankfully lost the energy-sapping browns and creams of the previous design. The new style uses a background image available through blogger rather than some concoction of my own, and while a high speed train isn’t perhaps a totally natural fit, the colours work well for me.

The theme remains a work in progress and I intend to add a few tweaks here and there going forward.

The previous Law Actually design was always a bit of a half-assed rush-job, thrown up in response to my massive blog breakdown 12 months ago.

Thankfully, this change is a happier one.  Let’s hope it remains that way.