Legal Research Blog
Facebook is known for launching features to make it that much easier to connect to friends – now they’re taking another step towards improving global connectivity. Yesterday, Facebook introduced what they call the Open Compute Project, an 18-month venture that led them to redesign the standard server in favor of a lighter, more efficient and cheaper model. All of the new servers will come in handy at the Facebook Data Center located in Prineville, Oregon. Opened just months ago, the data center prides itself on its green construction and can now add energy efficient operations to its list. At approximately 94.5% efficiency, the six pound server is certainly one of a kind.
Probably the greatest aspect of this new development is not that you’ll be able to accept friend requests faster but that anyone will be able to implement the new technology into their workplace. The team at Facebook made all design plans and specifications for their slimmed down server available to the public with the request that we return the favor. Facebook hopes that we won’t just accept their server design as is – they want feedback on how to improve their work and just how we’ll find ways to use it. They admit that the new design is surely not perfect; a refreshing perspective when many these days have a hard time admitting even the most obvious errors. Facebook calls their new servers “vanity free” but I think we can all agree that smarter and faster is always a beautiful thing.
A handwriting app on MacNewsWorld caught our attention this week. Chris Maxcer reviewed the Touchwriter HD application from Aesthology for the iPad. This and other handwriting applications have been around for a while now, but the new ones look really good. Basically, handwriting apps work by detecting “written” input from a stylus or your finger on a touchscreen device. As touchscreen devices and new tablets increasingly permeate the electronics market, we realize that more and more of us will have access to applications like this.
For many people, touchscreen devices initially present an awkward transition: the need to type directly on a screen’s virtual keyboard. Some would-be-purchasers postpone their upgrade to such devices, instead relying on models with built-in “QWERTY” keypads. Others actually purchase compatible keyboards to supplement their new iPads. But new, high-quality handwriting applications could be a solution for these folks. The applications use technology to incorporate something we already use: our handwriting. At the same time, they reduce the use of paper and add a layer of organization to our notes. There’s great potential to ease the technological transition for some, and increase productivity for others who already have touchscreen devices.
Note-taking will probably be the most valuable use of handwriting applications for most people. In spite of our high-tech world’s ubiquitous computers and smartphones, we still constantly jot down handwritten notes in the regular course of business. With built-in features, handwriting apps increase the utility of our habitual note-taking.
Touchwriter HD, for example, has some slick capabilities:
Notes can be tagged by location if using the maps function – a great memory-aid feature.
Each note is time-stamped – eliminating a manual step that would be required if writing on paper.
Checklists can be easily created by long-tapping the space key.
Notes are exportable to Evernote, Dropbox, Google Docs or Twitter. They can be sent as e-mails or saved as photos.
Notes such as phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and URL’s can be typed to enable calling, e-mailing, and hyperlinking.
The year 2011 has already seen the introduction of some major players: the iPad 2, and the Motorola Xoom. The Samsung Galaxy Tab is set for release this weekend. Among other new gadgets, we can soon expect the Blackberry Playbook and the Acer Iconia, both currently available for pre-order. New tablets from Sony and Google are said to be on the horizon. Considering all these new products, we have a hard time convincing ourselves that we’re better off typing on a touchscreen instead of a keyboard. However, we may be better off scribbling notes on a touchscreen instead of paper. As the bounty of new devices entices us into the tablet market, we’re keeping our eyes on handwriting applications. Quality handwriting applications could well be a crucial tool that determines how and if consumers use this new hardware.
In its April 6 decision in U.S. v. Skilling, the 5th Circuit denied former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling’s conspiracy conviction appeal. A summary of the counts he was convicted of appears in the opinion:
In May 2006, Skilling was convicted by a jury of one count of conspiracy, twelve counts of securities fraud, five counts of making false representations to auditors, and one count of insider trading. The indictment alleged several possible objects of the conspiracy, including securities fraud and honest-services fraud, and the district court’s jury instructions permitted the jury to convict on any of the alleged theories of guilt. The jury returned a general verdict of guilty on the conspiracy charge without identifying the specific object of the conspiracy. The district court sentenced Skilling to 292 months of imprisonment and three years of supervised release, and assessed $45 million in restitution. (Emphasis on counts added.)
In 2010, the Supreme Court narrowed the “honest-services” fraud statute, invalidating the Goverment’s honest-services theory in the case and remanded the case to the 5th Circuit to determine whether the honest services jury instruction amounted to “harmless error.” Yesterday, the 5th Circuit issued an opinion concluding that the instruction error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt accepting the Government’s argument that:
Skilling participated in a scheme to deceive the investing public about Enron’s financial condition in order to maintain or increase Enron’s stock price…[demonstrating] beyond a reasonable doubt that absent the honest-services instruction, the jury would have convicted Skilling under a valid theory of guilt—conspiracy to commit securities fraud.
The Houston Chronicle interviewed Wayne State Law professor and white-collar law specialist Peter Henning who was surprised by the opinion, but does not expect a rehearing. “This has to be a severe disappointment for Skilling, who won at the Supreme Court, only to lose on the remand,” Henning said. “It shows that groundbreaking decisions are not always helpful to the actual defendant in the case.”
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Spring is finally here and, at Fastcase, we eagerly anticipate the explosion of color that will soon follow. While being outside might offer some of the best views (we are in the middle of the National Cherry Blossom Festival here) there are some great views indoors as well. This is fantastic because it means that we can all still work and not feel the need to have to take Claritin.
We have all heard about how social media and the internet are transforming the way we conduct our lives. Now we are witnessing the future and past collide as they transform the museum world. Speaking with Scott Billings at Museum Next Kevin Bacon, curator of photographs at the Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove,
“Museums have changed substantially in the last ten years or so, but I suspect that most people still perceive them as little more than a place where there are things to look at,’ he says. ‘Social media are a very good means of conveying what museums actually do and by showing what goes on behind the scenes there is much better chance of threading museums into the popular imagination. This can then provide a platform for developing new audiences, philanthropy and, perhaps most importantly at present, political support. None of that requires dialogue necessarily, but any conversations that we can hold will enormously enhance and strengthen these new relationships.”
As a repository for much of our knowledge, the ever unconventional Google, earlier this year brought us its Art Project, an interactive display of works from 17 participating galleries by using its Street View technology and a high definition camera. The highlights definitely being the high definition works where you can zoom in and see individual brush strokes on popular works like “Summer” by Claude Monet or “Wheat Field with Cypresses” by Van Gogh. You can also create your own “galleries” to be shared with your friends and family.
In a highlighted New York Times article curators and technology professionals examined how they have transformed museum web pages from merely showing operating hours and “how to get there” directions to focusing more on visitor engagement. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York offers an interesting online discussion you can view called Connections. How this engagement continues to manifest itself, whether it is visitor input on exhibits, perhaps more “behind the scenes” looks at the operations of the museum, or accessible in-depth interactive learning, each museum seems to be taking a different and exciting tack.
Being able to expose as many people as possible to the depositories within is certainly a worthwhile goal. These new tools can be enormously helpful towards these goals, but can also be used in other, non-marketing oriented ways. We can’t wait to see how “using social media for dialogue and conversation could be a step towards embedding museums more directly into everyday life.”