Monday, October 18, 2004

National Archives Announces Electronic Records Contract

*** Press Release ***

The National Archives and Records Administration is pleased to announce that it has awarded two contracts for the development of ERA to Lockeed Martin and Harris Company after a rigorous competitive process. ERA is NARA's strategic response to the challenge of electronic records. ERA will authentically preserve and provide access to any kind of electronic record, free from dependency on any specific hardware or software, enabling NARA to carry out its mission into the future.

The award of these contracts heralds the shift in the Electronic Records Archives Program's focus to the system analysis and design phase. The link below connects you to the web site that contains links to the award press conference, read the official press release, or learn more about the chosen contractors. Click Here

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

To Do List - Disaster Planning and Inventory Control

It has been awhile since I read this article, but it is a good one to think about. The article is an opinion piece by Eric Lundquist published in eWeek magazine on the need to do those bothersome but important system administration duties such as disaster planning, equipment and software inventories, and other "Fall Cleaning" chores. For more click here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Cooperative Information Technology

Another excellent article was recently published in Computerworld magazine title "Intelligent Disobedience." Many of us have enjoyed the antics of the Dilbert comic strip in recent years and, laugh at the foibles of the "Pointy Haired Boss." Unfortunately, these antics often turn into realities when technical staff go up against management on project design and implementation issues. This article offers some ideas on how these problems might be addressed. Click here to read more.

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

IT Survival Guide Article from Computerworld

An excellent article from a 40 year Information Technology professional was published recently in Computerworld magazine. The author, Paul Ingevaldson, currently the Chief Information Officer, has been with Ace Hardware for 25 years. He obviously knows something about how to "survive the IT jungle." Click here to read the article.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Thursday, August 5, 2004

Real World Digital Security

John Udell of InfoWorld magazine has posted an interesting report from a security conference on how the use of digital security works and doesn't work in the real world. Click here to read the article.

Thursday, July 8, 2004

Getting to Done

There is an excellent Computerworld magazine article posted titled "Getting to Done" by Paul Glen. This is a critical part of project management, to define success hopefully before you start your project. What is "done"? Are there degrees of "done"? If you can set achievable milestones for the project the court staff and judges can see that progress is being made. Read the article by clicking here.

Computers in the Courtroom

In many courtrooms there is often a lack of space for personal computers. I have seen computers on top of and under the furniture taking up valuable table and more important, leg space. Hewlett Packard is introducing a new system call CCI for Consolidated Client Infrastructure that centralizes the PC's into rack storage "blades" with a thin-client workstation installed, in our case, in the courtroom. Read about this new system by clicking here.

Thursday, July 1, 2004

State Supreme Court Web Broadcasting

Rory Perry, Clerk of the West Virginia Supreme Court and frequent speaker at Court Technology Conferences reports on his Blog that there are now eleven state supreme courts that are providing live and archived internet video streams of their oral arguments. Click here to read more.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Imaging Space Calculations

Computer storage requirements for various digitized document types:
1 scanned page (8 1/2 by 11 inches, A4) = 50 KiloBytes (KByte)(on average, black & white, CCITT G4 compressed)
1 file cabinet (4 drawer) (10,000 pages on average) = 500 MegaBytes (MByte)= 1 CD (ROM or WORM)
2 file cabinets = 10 cubic feet = 1,000 MBytes = 1
GigaByte (GByte)
10 file cabinets = 1 DVD (WORM)
1 box (in inches: 15 1/2 long x 12 wide x 10 deep) (2,500 pages) = 1 file drawer = 2 linear feet of files = 1 1/4 cubic feet = 125 MBytes
8 boxes = 16 linear feet = 2 file cabinets = 1 GByte

Tuesday, June 8, 2004

E-Courts Conference Website

The E-Courts Conference website has been updated with the conference program schedule, registration, and hotel information. Please go to E-Courts Conference for more information.

Saturday, June 5, 2004

Article on US Federal Court use of Linux

Tom Adelstein has written in Linux Journal about the use of Linux in the US Federal Courts as their primary server architecture. As an FYI, the US Federal Courts are long time users of Unix stretching back to the early 1980's. Click here to view the article.

In an earlier article Mr. Adelstein also discussed the Justice Department XML standards work and other open source initiatives. Click here to view that article.

Thursday, June 3, 2004

The Pen is Mightier Than?

I've seen a lot of new technology innovations over the past 25 years and only a handful have really hit me with the big WOW. Those innovations were, in chronological order, the first windows interface, the Xerox Star workstation (1982); Version 2.0 of WordPerfect (1983 - trivia quiz about this at the end of the article); Microsoft Excel version 1.0 (1985); Windows NT operating system version 3.5 (beta-1993); and XML technology (1997). So you can see it's been rather a long drought since the last big thing hit me. I now have a new cool technology advance to report that's called the HP Forms Automation System. Bad name huh? HP has always been an engineering oriented company but somebody did come up with the LaserJet name so, there is hope for the future.

So what am I talking about? It is a new digital pen and forms system that has been developed by HP. The reason I am excited is that we in court automation have been searching for a long time for the answer to the in-courtroom data capture problem. Keyboard data entry has been too slow. We have even tried to install multiple PCs and courtroom clerks to keep up with the work. We have also tried touching screens and even bar-code technologies. Nothing has been satisfactory except for fast moving paper. I think this has great promise because it marries paper and the computer, so let me explain what it is.

There are three parts to the technology. First is a paper form. But this it is not just any paper form; it is what HP calls "Digital Paper." Using their forms design package one can design a form that creates gray and tan color boxes when printed on an HP color laser printer. These gray and tan color boxes contain an invisible pattern that makes each box unique on each sheet of paper that is printed. The forms can be blank or, can be filled in before printing with merged data such as the case number and judges and defendants name from the court's database.

Now we are ready for the magic. Once we take the form into the courtroom the judge or clerk uses the HP Digital Pen to write on the paper form. The Digital Pen contains a small electronic camera that "captures the written pen strokes, he time written, and stores them in the pen's internal memory." The pen remembers where it was on the form from the patterns printed in the boxes. When one is finished with the form you check a finished box and the pen responds with a slight vibration. It is fun the first time to feel this in your hand. At the end of the court session, the user then inserts the pen back into it's pen holder/re-charger cradle (USB connection) and all of the data captured by the pen is downloaded and digitally merged into the forms. There is enough battery power in the pen to last 8 hours without recharging.

The court now has the form and information captured in three formats. First, an original paper copy (with signatures); second, a digital imaged copy within the computer system, remember the tiny electronic camera in the pen; and third, a data copy. The data copy is created by using the system handwriting character recognition engine. So how does that work? I didn't mention earlier that when creating the electronic form template the designer can limit the responses allowed to be filled into the gray and tan boxes. This is similar to a drop down box on a computer screen form. By limiting the responses, the software narrows the possibilities and can determine what was written in that box or data field. We now have data capture. Wow!

There is a lot more information on HP's website at: There is also information about this and similar systems at:

I would love to see someone in the court technology community give it a try. If you have any questions or would like to talk to me about this article, please drop me an e-mail at:

Now for the trivia questions. First, why was the first release of WordPerfect for the PC called version 2.0? Second, what was the name of the company, that later changed to WordPerfect Corp., at that time? Send me an e-mail!

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Multiple Monitors Can Help Judges Go Electronic

One solution that can help judges go electronic is by using multiple monitors that provide more workspace. A good article on one journalist's experience was posted today on the ZDNET AnchorDesk. Click here to find multiple articles on the subject.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Being Embarassed by your Word Processing Program

A word of warning to the Jurists who use Microsoft Word for their word processing program. Earlier today embarrassing information was found in a Microsoft Word document relating to the SCO lawsuits here in the USA. Here is a link to the article: C-Net Article

The point is that newer versions of MS Word track changes in what is called meta code. This allows one to go through the document to see edits and changes. Obviously this could be embarrassing depending on the subject and what is written for judicial opinions and orders. I figured it would be good to pass along the warning. This can be solved for final documents by using PDF or saving the document as a plain text document. If you are sharing documents between judges then you should know what is going on "under the covers".

There was a comment on one of the technical websites about a Word document scrubber software. I haven't tried it out but since it is the end of the day here in the eastern USA, I figured I would pass it along and let some of my friends on the other side of the world like David Harvey take a look at it. Doc Scrubber

Monday, May 24, 2004

Slashdot Discusses Large Document Scanning Projects

The Slashdot technical news bulletin site discussed various options to the problem of scanning a large number of documents. This is a problem that all courts have or will face. The discussion can be read at: Large-Scale Scanning