Torrents of Abuse

In recent news reports an Austrian man William Weber was charged in connection with distributing child pornography because illegal images were detected being transferred by his computer. Just another pervert getting caught? No, because this Server computer was in fact a “Tor Exit Node”, so the data going through it was nothing to do with him.
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Reach out and Touchscreen

Touchscreen are now becoming ubiquitous on smart phones and other gadgets, and new computer Operating Systems are now start to include touchscreen options as standard. So how useful are they for your office computer systems?

Using a touch screen as a “user interface” has a lot going for it. It is intuitive, you literally point at what you see, and it can be more ergonomic than various other methods. The previous downsides of high price and low responsiveness have been largely removed by cheaper high quality touchscreens: decent 15 & 17 inch screens can be bought for around £150 and slightly more for 19 inch.
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The Great Dictator

In an earlier blog, I made a remark about some firms still using cassettes for dictation, which attracted a couple of comments. Therefore I thought I’d go over the moderns options, pros and cons.

The first decision is to dictate or not to dictate in the first place. The advantage of not dictating is a possible reduction of costs in equipment and staffing, but this is set against having to deal with the production of text yourself. This ranges from typing everything yourself (where output depends on your typing speed), to document creation systems which let you simply pick from banks of styles (which reduce ability to make bespoke documents) This is not an either/or proposition, but a continuum, and the more work a document creation system does for you in general the dearer it costs, possibly outweighing the savings of have less staff.1
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Cyberspace – the lawless mirage

“Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators” ~ William Gibson, Burning Chrome

Cyberspace is not a physical location; neither is “the internet”, or “the web”. It is worth bearing this in mind when listening to various people pontificating on whether or not “real world” law does or should apply to these “places”. William Gibson’s original definition when he coined the term Cyberspace is still accurate; like a corporation1, day to day we all pretend that this mental construct has an actual reality in the universe instead of being a metaphor for a complex form for human interaction2.
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Software for nothing and your clicks for free

One of the expenses of setting up and running an office is software. With a certain popular word processor/office program coming in at a couple of hundred pounds per user, the costs for even a small legal office can soon build up. You pay for it when you get it, then every couple of year you need to pay for another “upgrade”.  Of course no lawyer is going to buy one copy and “pirate” in on all their users computers are they – that would be breach of copyright! While everyone is going to need a word processor, that doesn’t go for all programs, so perhaps you can trim costs by making sure that some packages are only installed for a couple of users, who do all of that type of work for the whole office.

Or perhaps you can get your programs at a price of zero: welcome to the world of Free and Open Source software.
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Lawyers, and access to IT

There is not a lot of overlap between lawyers and IT professionals; there are a minority of lawyers who are keen on using IT (the bulk being addicted to paper and early C20th technology1 and reluctantly dragged into using computers and the internet) but only a tiny number who can set up and maintain the required hardware or write computer programs. Likewise there are very few IT people who have any idea what it is like to practice law, and the bulk have no real contact with the legal profession until they instruct someone about a contract or copyright issue.
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