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Comment A lawyer's perspective (Score 1) 183

I'm in my tenth year of practice in California handling general civil litigation. I can try to share a few key points that won't get me in trouble with my peers or area judges.

-- Every state should implement a PACER-like system where the public has remote access to all court records and can download all the PDFs they want for a small fee, 24/7. PACER/ECF is the Federal system for accessing and filing court documents, and it makes it really convenient when you can review an entire case file without physically going to the courthouse as you have to do in most state courts. The cost of implementing PACER with every state court system would be astronomical, but it would also provide astronomical benefits to the public. For one, the public (or more likely the legal section of the local news media) would be able to verify or refute bullshit public relations statements made by lawyers by reviewing the actual case filings.

-- Absent a full PACER/ECF implementation, every court system in a state should be linked to a centralized repository of searchable metadata instead of the current patchwork of incompatible systems for searching records. In California there are fifty-eight separate counties, each with its own Superior Court. This means each court has its own system for storing and accessing court records. Some aren't even searchable online; you have to go there in person. It makes it really difficult to conduct research on a particular case or client. Also, this is one reason why the private legal providers WestLaw and Lexis have services that I can't do without-- without a unified system, these private providers are the only way to sensibly aggregate and organize judicial opinions.

-- Lawyers should make better use of technology in their practices and lower their hourly rates as a result. I wrote my own calendaring software a few years ago that gave me a fully electronic calendar (until I started using Google calendar, which is a big improvement). I also run a paperless office with no permanent support staff and with a tiny physical office. This means I can make deals on my hourly rate with savvy clients so that we both win, and I can scale my practice appropriately so that I don't make big financial commitments and then not meet them. Some lawyers use electronic practice management software like Rocket Matter. Others find clients on Craigslist. Realistically, this type of technology interaction is one of the only ways to increase access to justice; currently, you have to make well over $100,000 per year to afford an actual lawyer, and even then it is a stretch for most people. Most hourly clients in civil litigation are actually businesses and companies, not individuals, because individuals don't have enough money to pay hourly. What I've observed though is that lawyers who have great technology keep their hourly rates the same and just pocket the extra money. And why shouldn't they?

-- Courts and older attorneys should get with the program in terms of new technology. Currently there is a lot of bureaucratic resistance as well as a generational gap in how lawyers and courts use technology. There are plenty of older attorneys out there who do not even have email, and there are many others who just don't care enough to learn MS Word. After all, if they can just hire support staff to do that, there is no incentive. As older lawyers retire or learn technology, this problem decreases for the profession, but courts are still way behind. There should be rules for judges requiring them to use technology.

-- State legislatures should spend more money on courts, but condition that funding on the use of industrial psychologists or other experts to help design better systems for information management. A local Superior Court that I practice in frequently and that I don't need to name still has physical documents hand-carried between its courthouses and administrative facilities. This is a huge waste of time, money, and effort when a few ScanSnap type machines and automated data processing could completely eliminate that waste. Meanwhile, the California legislature has decreased judicial branch funding by at least a billion dollars in the last few years. This makes access to justice even worse.

-- More people should make use of private judges and juries to resolve cases. A private judge in California, for example, can be any attorney with I believe ten years of practice who the parties agree on. The private judge then conducts the case just as if he or she were sitting in a real courtroom. This is different from arbitration in that private judging retains all of the formalities of the public court system. One reason people don't do this is that the cost of private judging is exorbitant because they have to pay at least $500 per hour just for the judge. The cost of private judges with private juries would be even more exorbitant. Again, use of technology could greatly reduce that cost and increase access.

-- My most important gripe with the current system is that it's not designed to find the truth. It's designed to end disputes by determining which side made the better "showing" of its evidence. Now that science and technology can show us the truth, the system should rely more on the truth instead of which side was more persuasive about facts that might not even be the truth.

I could go on but I would only get myself in trouble.

Submission + - U.S. military experimenting with trans-cranial magnetic stimulation

wattersa writes: The BBC reports that the U.S. Air Force is conducting trials of a new technique for enhancing learning of complex tasks and increasing attention spans, among other uses. Airmen were told to play a game with and without trans-cranial magnetic stimulation devices, and the ones with the devices attached performed better by a wide margin. Could this be the beginning of super soldiers?

Feed Google News Sci Tech: MIT/NASA Team to Share How They Gave the Moon Broadband Networking - PC Magazine (

Daily Mail

MIT/NASA Team to Share How They Gave the Moon Broadband Networking
PC Magazine
Yes, people floating in space might actually have a faster networking connection than you, in your house, on the Earth. 0shares. Apollo Astronaut Moon. In a bit of news from the "this is depressing" department, a team from MIT's Lincoln Laboratory (in...
Researchers send high-speed broadband to the moonSlashGear
MIT figures out how to give the moon broadband -- using lasersComputerworld
Moon may get a high-speed broadband connectionFinancial Express
Australian Techworld
all 53 news articles

Submission + - US.Gov seeks 7 month sentence for LulzSec Sabu (

An anonymous reader writes: "As a reward for his extensive cooperation helping prosecutors hunt down his fellow hackers, the government is seeking time served for the long-awaited sentencing of top LulzSec leader Hector Xavier Monsegur, also known as “Sabu.”

After delaying his sentencing for nearly three years, the government has asked a federal court to sentence Monsegur to time served — just seven months — calling him an “extremely valuable and productive cooperator” in a document that details for the first time his extensive cooperation providing “unprecedented access to LulzSec.”"

Comment Jamming-proof (Score 1) 298

The good thing about this technology is that it's also jamming-proof. If the U.S. and Russia ever get in a war, the first thing either side would do is knock out the other's GPS satellites with anti-satellite missiles, or conduct a cyber war. At that point, communications and positioning will be critical, making it important not to rely on a centralized network. Sure, GPS has multiple satellites, but if a cyber weapon knocks enough of them out, subs would have to go back to navigating by the stars and compass!

Comment Multitasking (Score 1) 189

Lt. Jenna D'Sora: Kiss me.
[Data obliges]
Lt. Jenna D'Sora: What were you just thinking?
Lt. Cmdr. Data: In that particular moment, I was reconfiguring the warp field parameters, analyzing the collected works of Charles Dickens, calculating the maximum pressure I could safely apply to your lips, considering a new food supplement for Spot...
Lt. Jenna D'Sora: I'm glad I was in there somewhere.

Surely a computer would not get bored while waiting for human input. It could run Seti@home during its spare CPU cycles, if nothing else!

Comment Re:It's a Losing Battle (Score 1) 58

LaTeX to generate documents is pretty resourceful. How do you manage drafts that need to be exchanged with a client or opposing counsel when they ask for a "track changes" version? What font(s) do you use?

I hate Word and its auto formatting more than any other program, so I use InDesign. Templates, high precision, access to pro-level graphics placement and text wrapping, preflight, customizable PDF output, and more. I use Courier Final Draft (sinful, I know) because monospace makes it easy to do tables of contents and authorities. But I'm debating whether to use Century Schoolbook in the future.

Comment Re:Blast from a past (Score 1) 101

The Reddit front page is hopeless. It's like the Firehose on this site. The Subreddits are where the action is really at, and most seem to have enough moderators who are interested in the specific subject matter to handle the large number of dupes, bin spam, etc. that get posted. Here are some examples of great parts of Reddit: popularized Rage Comics. Anyone can make a comic and the moderation system works pretty well for those. provides interesting trivia facts has far more relevant and interesting content than the Science section here. Same with the section. was created to let users share true stories of creepy things happening that are just too personal or random to share elsewhere. provides users with interesting legal developments. provides a community of explorers a place to share cool photos.

And many, many other sections that I've never seen.

Anyone can create a Subreddit and assign moderators. It's a Darwinian system where the best content (theoretically) makes it to the top with minimal intervention by the moderators; it's based primarily on up voting and down voting by the entire user base.

The disadvantages of Reddit are many; for example, regardless of how cool you think your own story, picture, etc. is, it often gets only a couple of up votes and never appears anywhere significant. Depending on how you sort comments, you only see the ones that occur early on and never see interesting comments that might have been posted well after the story was submitted. Because anyone can submit a link, but links can usually only be submitted once, someone might post a link to a news story before you but the story gets no up votes and so effectively you can't post it. There seems to be a significant desensitization to gore and NSFW posts-- you never know what the link you click on will show when it's just a random URL on and could be a horrific injury or death, child porn, disease, surgery, etc. There are sections of that site that you don't even want to know about. Imagine a section devoted exclusively to truly disgusting shock porn, like TubGirl x 1000. It's /r/spacedicks. Trust me, don't ever go there.

Overall, I find Reddit a better site. The news is fresher, the comments are just as good as here, and there are way more comments to be read on Reddit than on the typical stories here. They don't have the "first post" problem because those posts immediately get down voted into oblivion. Also, Reddit has separate sections for people of opposite views on many subjects, such as /r/atheism (constant Christian bashing) vs. /r/Christianity (constant bible thumping). They also have less tech-savvy users, which provides a better cross section of internet users in general and allows better discussion of non-technical subjects. But there's also better information on technical subjects. For example, Or, the time a Canadian astronaut randomly did an AMA (ask me anything) about his visit to the International Space Station, and the result was great discussion on space-related subjects not found anywhere else:

Let's be honest, Slashdot is a fading site. They need to do better to compete with Reddit in many areas.


Submission + - CERN experiments observe particle consistent with long-sought Higgs boson (

An anonymous reader writes: A new particle has been found, thought to be consistent with the Higgs boson. More data will be analysed in the coming months to verify is this is indeed the particle that, in a field, is able to give other particles their mass.

"The results are preliminary but the 5 sigma signal at around 125 GeV we’re seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be a boson and it’s the heaviest boson ever found,” said CMS experiment spokesperson Joe Incandela. “The implications are very significant and it is precisely for this reason that we must be extremely diligent in all of our studies and cross-checks." -CERN

Comment Re:Power Draw? (Score 1) 540

By the time the mission launches ten years from now, there may be more advanced broadcasting methods and codecs available. It doesn't need to be and probably can't be live with today's technology, whether due to the number of cameras or amount bandwidth/editing required, so maybe the astronauts would do some of the editing while there. Or, there could be automated camera switching/editing triggered by personal locators or simply sensors in the portions of the habitat where someone is actively working so bandwidth isn't wasted filming empty rooms or whatever. They also could hold regular meetings which would be a highlight of the TV coverage, or have a scheduling system. It doesn't need to be high definition, just something of YouTube quality.

> Is the following statement morally reprehensible to you? "I know you've had a long day but...."

No. Much is asked of those to whom much is given. I would gladly take this opportunity.

Comment Re:will i still have to pay child support? (Score 1) 540

In other words it will be just like The Shining (1980) but in space! What could possibly go wrong?!


On that note, the sexual dynamics among a group of two men and two women isolated from the outside world for at least two years could create quite a firestorm on reality TV, not to mention extensive fodder for gossip magazines.

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