Managing and Sharing Files Across Multiple Devices

These days, it’s not uncommon for one person to use two, three, or even four devices in a day for doing work, accessing the internet, reading, playing games, or whatever else. I am a rather extreme example, but over the course of a typical day, I will generally use my work PC, my Android smartphone, my iPad, and my home PC for any or all of these tasks. If I’m traveling, I may also use my laptop, or occasionally a PC at a hotel business center, a conference center, or some other device that I don’t even own. When writing, I may work on a document at work, then more at home, and then on my iPad while out for dinner. Likewise, I may download an article or case to read on my work PC, then open it on my phone to finish while I’m waiting somewhere else.

While external drives (like flash drives or pocket hard drives) can be used to transfer large files between computers, they do have limitations. They can be easily lost or fail at inopportune times. Moreover, mobile devices rarely allow for easy connection to such devices (most don’t have full-size USB ports, for example). Cloud storage services offer a solution that is generally platform-neutral, and often have basic services available for no cost to you.

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ALA Releases Top 10 Challenged Books of 2015

bbw13_profileAt the beginning of National Library Week, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom released its annual Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2015. Each year, the Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of challenges, defined as “a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.” The report of a challenge does not mean that a book is removed, only that its removal has been requested.

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Research Guides from the TTU Law Library

Do you ever find yourself looking for help getting started in legal research? Do you find yourself wanting to know the basics of a common resource? Do you wonder what resources the Law Library has available to you? If you ever finding yourself answering “Yes” to one of these questions, then you may want to consider checking out the Texas Tech Law Library’s Research Guide Series (also called “LibGuides”).

The Law Library’s LibGuides are 60+ Research Guides (and growing!) on a variety of topics. Four guides are “Library Services”, with guides marketed to different patron groups, such as Faculty, Students, Members of the Bar, and Members of the Public. These guides help different patrons find the services available to them.

small_logoThe next group of guides are our Course & Subject guides, under the collective brand “What2Use”. These guides are resources in particular subjects, tied to particular College of Law courses. Each guide is divided into parts containing primary law sources, study materials for students, and materials for practitioners and advanced researchers. Guides are available for all required doctrinal courses, all bar exam electives, and a number of other popular electives. We are expanding this list, as well as continually reviewing and updating the existing guides.

The other major category of the Law Library’s LibGuides is the “How2Use” guide series. The How2Use guides focus on specific resources, such as Dorsaneo’s Texas Litigation Guide, or general guides on using resources, such as our guides on Legal Apps or Terms and Connectors searching. We are also continually expanding this list, as well as updating existing guides: Watch for guides on legal citation and O’Connor’s Online in the coming weeks.

The last few guides don’t fit into particular categories, but include such topics as bar prep materials, online people & property searches, and a guide for Spanish-speaking patrons to help find Spanish-language resources.

So, check out the Law Library’s LibGuides when you need a place to get started. You’re sure to find something helpful.

Have a suggestion for a Law Library Research Guide topic, or a resource to be added to one of our existing LibGuides? Send your suggestions to Joshua Pluta at joshua.pluta@ttu.edu.

Keep Yourself Up-to-date with RSS Feeds

Do you find yourself struggling with keeping up-to-date on the latest news in your areas of interest? Do you want a more convenient way to get your daily updates than going to a dozen bookmarked sites? RSS Feeds may be the solution. Almost all websites with continually updated content (such as this blog, for example) use RSS (short for Rich Site Summary, but often also called “Really Simple Syndication”) to push content in a format-neutral form (so that future site redesigns automatically update old content). The plus side is that these RSS feeds can be read by other programs that aggregate them into one place.

Aggregating feeds is done with an RSS reader program. There are a number of them out there, but I recommend Feedly, which is 1) free; 2) available on the web or as an app for iOS and Android; and 3) really clean and user-friendly. You can add feeds by just searching the name of the website or entering the page URL. There are even alternative apps that connect to your Feedly subscriptions if you don’t like Feedly’s interface.

Once you’ve found the Reader you like, you just need to add feeds. Depending on the site and your reader, you can generally just either search for the site or the URL, but you can also look for the RSS feed icon, which looks something like this:

128px-feed-icon-svg

Clicking on the RSS icon will take you to a URL that is just the feed you can add to your reader. Once you’ve added sites, you can then go to your reader and start reading. It’s also easy to add or remove a site at a later time, so you don’t have to worry about getting it right the first time.

To help you get started, here’s a few sites I subscribe to with my RSS reader (with feed URLs):

I hope this helps you find ways to keep up-to-date on your latest news.

Choosing a Writing Reference Guide

Whether you’re a master wordsmith with a hundred publications or a struggling student who has trouble keeping the active and passive voices straight, you will at some point find yourself either struggling with how to properly structure a sentence, use a word, or drop in punctuation. For those times, it’s a good idea to have a reference guide of some sort. With the new semester starting, students will soon be writing memos, briefs, and seminar papers, and faculty will be diving into the spring submission season, so getting a good reference guide is fairly timely.

First off, getting a copy of The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. is not a bad place to start, though it’s not a cure-all. The original text, published in 1918, is considered the authoritative statement on English usage, even if there has been resistance to it in recent years. There have also been updates to it over the last century. The most well-known version is the “Updated and Expanded” edition written by E.B. White, the author of Charlotte’s Web and other stories, which is commercially available through a number of sources (and in its 5th edition). However, the original Strunk text is public domain and available freely on the web in a number of locations. John W. Cowan, a computer programmer who codifies the syntax of programming languages, maintains an updated version of Strunk’s text on his website.

Moving on from The Elements of Style, there are hundreds of guides, publications, tip sheets, and so on with writing, grammar, punctuation, and style advice. I can’t possibly review all of them here, as each writer has their own needs. Instead, let’s assess your needs with the following questions:

  1. What is your general proficiency level? If you are a highly proficient writer, you’re probably good just picking up a fairly mechanical reference book (for academic writers, your fields’ publication manual may be sufficient). If you’re moderately proficient, you’ll want something that’s thorough, but written for more advanced writers. If you struggle at the basic level, consider some of the books written by the test prep companies, as they have exercises and tips targeted towards struggling writers.
  2. What do you struggle with? If you’re struggling at the sentence level (grammar, punctuation), then you’ll want to focus on guides on proper usage. Punctuation and grammar handbooks abound, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble. If you struggle with putting sentences together into paragraphs or sets of paragraphs, you’ll want to find a guide that helps with broader organization and composition. If you write technically sound compositions that fail to be persuasive or impactful, then you may want to consider guides on rhetoric.
  3. What are you trying to write? If you’re struggling at the most basic level, then this question should wait until you’re more comfortable with the ins and outs of general composition. For those who are more advanced, however, this can be a big question. The practices for journalism, fiction writing, and legal writing can be quite different, so you may want to consider a style guide appropriate to what you’re trying to write. For legal writing, there are three books you may want to consider:
    • The Redbook, by Bryan A. Garner — This style guide for legal documents contains extensive guides on usage, grammar, punctuation, style, and formatting, and also includes the specifics on a number of document formats. Currently in its 3d Edition, published by West (978-0-314-28901-8)
    • Academic Legal Writing, by Eugene Volokh — This guide is a little more advanced, and is geared towards those writing seminar papers, law review articles, and other works of scholarship. It’s relatively cheap (around $30 on most online retailers), and has advice from the word-level to the rhetorical-level, as well as tips for finding topics and getting on law review. Currently in its 4th Edition, published by Foundation Press (978-1-59941-750-9)
    • Making Your Case, by Bryan A. Garner and Antonin Scalia — This book is about argumentation, and specifically about the forms of argumentation in the process of a legal case. If you’re fine with the general mechanics of writing, but are having difficulty being persuasive, this is probably a good place to start. Published by Thomson West (978-0-314-18471-9)

Have questions? Feel free to contact me or the Office of Academic Success and we’d be happy to help!

 

Holiday Reading Lists from the TTU Law Librarians

We here at the Reporter will be taking a few weeks off with the coming holidays, so this will be the last post here until January. We have exciting things happening in the new year that we’re looking forward to sharing when they’re ready to go. However, we won’t be sitting idle until then. As Librarians, we will all be reading over the break. I’ve gathered a few recommendations from the TTU Law Librarians as to what we’ll be reading.

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Expand your horizons with educational YouTube channels

Happy Thanksgiving!

For most of my life, educational programming on TV was limited to a few well-tested formats: Documentaries based on a particular format of photos or video with a narrator and talking heads, or children’s programming. Because of the cost of operating a station, educational programming was limited to public broadcasting or the depths of extended cable. Today, once edutainment-driven channels like TLC and the History Channel now feature shows about child beauty pageants, giant families, pawn shops, and fishermen. It’s fortunate, then, that YouTube has risen to more than cover our needs.

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