Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tech support @ home

Topic of the day: how to "put those pictures from the camera into the computer"

Open the folder
No, not this folder, the other one
The one that looks like a folder
Yeah, this one. Double click
Ok, how about select and hit enter
No, I don't know in which folder the pictures are, why don't you just look?
No, they're not in the computer yet
No, you have to save them into the computer
I know you're looking at them; they're still not in the computer
You need to copy/paste
You need to TELL THE COMPUTER that you want to copy/paste
OK, how about drag & drop?
Here, I'll create a folder on the desktop, just drag & drop
You need to select a group then
No, you can't click on an icon to select a group
Here, let me show you
yeah, so now just drag it to the folder and let go
Well, um, looks like you've missed the folder
Oh, don't worry, it's just saving them all on the desktop


2nd topic of the day: "why can't I hear?"

MOM: I'm trying to use Skype (which she pronounces "skippy") but it doesn't work
ME: ??
MOM: Look, she's telling me she can hear me, but I can't hear her! Is there something wrong?
ME: I don't think so...
MOM: Well, I can't hear her! Is our computer broken?
ME: No...
MOM: I can't hear her!
ME: I know.
MOM: What do you mean, you know?
ME: The earphones are on the table.

Friday, January 23, 2009

What does "naked" mean?

It is a rule that you generally assume that the judges, lawyers, and your professors are competent, if not absolute geniuses (or genii). And then you encounter a judgment that makes you wonder what the deuce they're arguing about.

I had "Interprétation des lois" (legal interpretation) this morning, and the prof was talking about the first rule of interpretation, which is that you read the text, and use the normal meaning of the words, and/or the definitions provided by the law.

Well, it so happens that in a particular case, namely R. v. Verrette, which is remarkable not only because it contains the following sentences:
The uncontradicted evidence shows that the Appellant was a “gogo boy”, that is to say a male dancer, who performed on a stage in the hotel. At one point he was dressed in small “panties”, but as the performance progressed he took these off and continued to dance while totally exposed. It was dark in the hall, but a spotlight illuminated the stage. The music, described as typically “gogo”, was rather fast, and the Appellant’s testicles and penis “swung back and forth”.

but also because the lawyers had to interpret §170 of the Criminal code (at that time), which said
170. (1) Every one who, without lawful excuse,

(a) is nude in a public place, or

(b) is nude and exposed to public view while on private property, whether or not the property is his own,

is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

(2) For the purpose of this section a person is nude who is so clad as to offend against public decency or order.

Now, the controversy stems from paragraph (b), which said that a "nude" person is "clad...". The question: does the definition include a person who is stark naked, ie not "clad"?

Believe it or not, they went to the Supreme Court for that.

Now this is the part that annoys me. The judge went into lengthy discussions about the normal meaning of the words, and how it would be contrary to logic to determine that a stark naked person is not "nude" in the sense of the law because the definition says "clad", etc,
In the case at bar, the Court of Appeal said that s. 170(2) is “more than just a definition” and indicated that the situation would be different should the subsection provide that nude persons “include” persons clad offensively. In definition provisions, the word “includes” is generally used extensively in contradistinction to the restrictive word “means”. To underline that the word “includes” has not been used is to suggest, a contrario, that the word “means” might have come closer to expressing the real intent. The Court of Appeal stopped short at that point; if that suggestion were accepted, the subsection would be construed as if it read:

For the purposes of this section, “nude” means to be so clad as to offend against public decency or order.

An anomalous consequence would follow: to be clad in a certain way would be an offence under s. 170; to be completely naked would not.

Neither “includes” nor “means” were used and I think little is to be gained by the consideration of words which are not in the section.

The key word of s. 170(2) is the verb “is” in the proposition “a person is nude”. In my opinion “is” here means “shall be deemed to be”, the very expression used in the predecessor of s. 170 which was added to the Criminal Code as s. 205A by the Statutes of Canada, 1931, c. 28, s. 2:
The last paragraph of s. 205A(1), a deeming provision, accordingly assimilated scantiness of dress to complete nudity provided that scantiness of dress was such as to offend against public decency or order.
Thus, a scantily dressed person is not really nude; but if under certain conditions that person be deemed to be nude in a provision prohibiting nudity, the word “nude” keeps its ordinary meaning which at the same time is extended to something which is not nudity.

A very fancy interpretation indeed.

I like mine better.

The mistake in this reasoning is that the judge seems to think that §170 (1) (b) is a definition of the word "nude", which it isn't. Rather, it is a qualification of being "so clad as to offend ..."

Indeed, consider this:
A bicycle is an automobile. - VS - An automobile is a bicycle.
Similar, yet not.

In the first case, I'm putting bicycle in the "automobile" category, without prejudice (<<- !! I'm actually using this expression!!) to the normal meaning of "automobile". Whenever I talk about automobiles, I'm including the bicycles. (Which is "non-exhaustive" and broadens the meaning of "automobile" by creating a legal fiction.)

In the second case, I'm defining "automobile" as being a bicycle, and (likely), nothing else, thus, whenever I talk about automobiles, I'm only referring to bicycles. (Which would be called an "exhaustive" definition.)

Now consider the problematic sentence:
"For the purpose of this section a person is nude who is so clad as to offend against public decency or order."

Let's just work with the italicized part.
"a person is nude who is so clad as to offend" can be re-written as
"is nude a person who is so clad as to offend" or
"a person who is so clad as to offend is nude".

All 3 sentences have the same meaning. (Darn, I could've gone into Linguistics.)

Now, consider:
"a person who is so clad as to offend is nude" - VS - "Nude is a person who is so clad as to offend"
Assuming I'm not Yoda, the first and 2nd sentences have different meanings. In the first sentence, you define the "person who is so clad as to offend" as being "nude", and in the second, you define "nude" as a scantily clad person.

The rest is just logic and common sense.

Definitely no need to go into 3 pages of precedents and legal history.

but what do I know. I'm just a law student.

Not the best time, but fun nevertheless

For some time, there was a picture of a headstone that was circulating on the Internet. The headstone has a poem inscribed on its back, and the first letter of every line spells FUCK YOU. I never thought much of it, until I came across this picture, and I realized this masterpiece of cynicism and humour was actually located in Montreal! (See the Oratory on the top right of the picture)

So, today, I went to the cemetery with a friend, and, armed with that picture, set off to find that headstone. Granted, it was rather cold outside, and I can say that we could definitely have chosen a better season for such an expedition, as there was about 3 feet of snow on the ground.

We started at noon, and since we had no idea where the headstone was, we just entered from the first gate we saw, which was the one on Decelles. History will tell that we chose the wrong entrance to start the search.

We didn't have much to go on. From the picture, we tried to triangulate the position based on the Oratory and the other building. Unfortunately, there were 2 high-rises around that place, and we made the mistake of referring to the wrong one. We walked a bit too much to the east, until I realized this was not going to work, as the angle was wrong. In case you go looking, the building in the picture is actually the one on the right. (You'll know if you go there)

I was a bit confused at first, since the Oratory seemed farther in the picture than it was in real life, making me think the stone was farther uphill.

It took us about 40 minutes to walk to the general area corresponding to the picture. Once we got the building aligned just right, we had pretty much spotted the lot in which the stone should be.

The first clue was when I found the tree. (The contorted one you see on the right.) The rest was a matter of observation, and we soon found the stone. It was surprisingly conspicuous once we spotted it, and I don't know how we missed it after walking past twice. There was a road behind the lot, and the stone was in the first row, although right behind it was a rather large tree (whose trunk splits in 2 rather close to the ground). Given the snow, I was quite happy we didn't have to go looking any further. Considering the size of the place, I'm just glad we found it at all. Honestly, I almost lost hope at some point.

I took 2 pictures. Here they are:

It took us about 50 minutes to find the headstone. We then took the bus to go back to the Cote-Des-Neiges metro, and it took us 2 minutes to go back. It would've been easier if we had started by taking the bus to the entrance on Cote-Des-Neiges (where the main building is), as the stone was in the lot right behind it. I'd provide you with the lot number, but where would the fun be?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cocktail @ McMillan

Had a "parrainage" event at McMillan today. Quite different from yesterday's place; this one was a cocktail rather than an actual tour.

We didn't get to visit the cabinet, which was a bit of a disappointment. Otherwise, it was really great! There were actual lawyers there, and they were really interesting. The dynamic is quite different from a guided tour, since you just grab a drink and chat.

They had some pretty great people there. The lawyers were really friendly and casual, and the group dynamic was pretty amazing.

McMillan is a medium-large cabinet (~50 lawyers). Their internship structure is very interesting: instead of being in a certain domain, you get to work with pretty much everything. This is appealing, since I like variety. The downside, if you can call it that, is that they only let you work 1 summer, after the 3rd year, as opposed to some other cabinets who will hire you to work the summer after your 2nd year.

McMillan deals with corporate law, and has only 1 lawyer who works on Intellectual Property. :( Obviously, banking, insolvency and litigation are much more popular.

It is still quite hard to judge a firm at those events, since they're obviously putting their best foot forward. Of course, they will pretty much tell you the same thing, eg, that they're looking for people who will integrate well into their team, and they're looking for dynamic people, etc, which is rather a no-brainer.

However, I did gather that one of the lawyers did 16-hr days once, for an assignement, though the general tendency seems to be closer to 12-hr days.

Overall, I have to say, I felt a good vibe at that place.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Parrainage @ Law Firm

Journée parrainage @ law firm in Mtl. Hunting season is approaching.

Went to visit a law firm this morning. Pretty neat. One of the largest law firms in Mtl, with offices pretty much everywhere.

I have to say, it was a very nice experience. We did a little tour of the cabinet, and met a few lawyers.

Reception is quite impressive. Diffused light and wooden doors, which make for a very convivial and rather gorgeous place. The only thumbs-down so far was a rather loud abstract-art painting that contrasted with the smooth decor. I didn't like the painting, but then I tend to be suspicious of all paintings that can be made with a roller. I don't like abstract art either, except when they're wallpapers (the computer kind, not the sticky kind) AND when they're smooth and pretty. I like curves, and soft colours. That painting had anything but. It had a bright red background, with a wedge shape that had its point around the lower left corner, and its wider part to the upper right. Said shape (I almost called it a triangle, but it obviously had 4 sides) was black and white, and I think had yellow too, contrasting with the red background. I think the thing that annoyed me the most wasn't so much the colour, or the lack of curves, as the fact that the pointy bit didn't quite go exactly to the corner of the canvas. Rather, it sat at the edge of the canvas, about 2 inches above the lower left corner. Anyway. It seemed off.

Our tour guides were students and interns from the cabinet. The lawyers we met were really great people. We met the CEO, who was an extremely engaging guy and was eager to meet us (!!). The people seemed very casual, and the atmosphere, friendly and relaxed.

The 2nd lawyer we met greeted us with "Welcome to my mess", yet had the most tidy office I've seen.

They have a lounge with a big-screen TV, and a REALLY fancy coffee-maker with pretty blue lights.

Saw a couple of lawyers who were in Intellectual Property. Seems that IP deals much more with patents and trademarks, than with copyright. I could live with that.

The luncheon was excellent. Must learn to make that beet salad.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

3... 2... 1... The hunt has begun!

Soon, VERY SOON, is the "Course au Stage" (Literally: internship hunt). On the 22nd, all participating legal cabinets will set up a stand in the hallways, and we'll have to dash from one to the other in a desperate search for The Place That Will Hire Me. This mythical place is the law student's Nirvana, where all his legal dreams will come true. It is where we will spend the 6 months of our internship, and, if we're lucky maybe the next summer or two. But that's later. Much later.

Right now, the goal is to browse, to search, and make yourself known. Socialize, socialize, socialize. Wear a funny hat, or platform shoes, and hope to stand out from the crowd.

Then you apply. Resume + cover letter.

I hate cover letters. I never know what to write. Ironically enough, I have a friend who turns to ME every time she needs someone to review her cover letters. She even brokers my reviewing services: she set up a meeting with me for her friend so that I would review her Med School application letter.

Anyway. I thought up something just this morning. Since the trick is to make a good impression, and stand out from the crowd, what if I handwrote my cover letter? I could go get nice letter paper, and a nice pen, and whip out my nice handwriting...

I might even have the guts to do just that... Pick half of the places at random (OK, maybe fewer. Don't want to alienate that many people just now) and send them the handwritten letter and see what happens.

Or maybe not at random. Just those who advertise originality (which is pretty much every one of them, but some more than others) and see if they live by their own standards.

Then again, I might strike them as someone who doesn't own a printer... And the only thing it will show is that I have a nice pen...
I think something should be made illegal: Professors publishing books and making the students buy them.

For your average student who labours all summer to pay for his/her studies, nothing is more annoying than a teacher telling you you need his book for the class. Said book will, of course, cost you a good $100 of your hard-earned money. Which is 10 hours of work.

Here's my beef: it wouldn't be so bad if the book were actually useful for the class, but what really annoys me is that most of the times, it's barely used. Of course, the prof will refer to a few pages from the book, but very rarely does it offer more insight than what the teacher says.

Case in point: Last year, I had a teacher who told us at the beginning of the semester that we needed the book (which he co-authored, and cost around $100, and new edition, please, because the one from 2 yrs ago isn't good enough) because there would be some topics we won't have time to see in class, which could be in the final. Well, guess what? They weren't.

Now, this year, I've another teacher who makes us buy his book. Which is, almost word-to-word, a reiteration of what he says in class. Down to the examples and analogies he gives. But of course, you need the book, because that's where all the stuff is. And, sneaky, sneaky, the cases to read aren't listed on his course plan; they're in the book. Basically, I'm spending $100 to get a transcript of his course. Book which I HAVE to acquire, because it has the benefit of only quoting the important passages of the relevant cases.

So, message to all professors: Stop doing that! It's annoying!

Friday, January 16, 2009

I was a little bored today...

... so I thought: I have a highly customizable GUI, with a lot of extras. What should I do? I was experimenting with the Screenlets application, and the Ring Sensors, and it suddenly hit me. Now, it took a while to make everything look right, and I had to re-start many times, and got tired and just went Whatever!, then of course it worked, but I was too annoyed to make it look pretty again.

Basically, being the Dr Who fan that I am, I made my desktop look like a Tardis computer. With the right wallpaper, and the Ring Sensors placed at strategic places, the result looks pretty cool. Only, it's too bad I can't find the place from where I downloaded my wallpaper.

(BTW, Photobucket doesn't seem to like .png files)

My Desktop now looks like this, and the ring sensors work, so it looks a bit like a Tardis dashboard. Now, if you're really into it, you can re-size the sensors to make it prettier, which I had done, but the rings wouldn't load properly when I logged in, for some reason.


Incidentally, I found the wallpaper. It's from here.

Another pretty wallpaper is this but I'd rather have it with David Tennant's face...

Ubuntu Intrepid, Screenlets 0.1.2, with Ring Sensors: CPU, RAM, TEMP, and Batteries.

Now the only thing I need is a round icon for my trash, or a Tardis-looking icon...

Thursday, January 08, 2009

I had a bit of time, so started looking at random websites. Then my StumbleUpon button froze, and I didn't know what to do anymore.


Teacher: "At first, the small claims were $1500 max, and Quebec court's limit was 15K. Then, small claims were raised to $3000, and the Qc court, to 30K. Then, all of a sudden, the Qc court's limit jumps to $70K. What does it show?"

And the first thing that came to my mind was: that the Small Claims' Court's limit was 7K?

Ah, I crack myself up.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The latest outrage in Facebook concerns breastfeeding pictures, and whether or not Facebook should allow them. I'd link to an article, but since it's from the AP, I won't bother. (Because of this.)

Anyway, so I went and had a peek at Facebook's terms of use. First of all, you have to read the Terms.
... you agree not to... upload, post, transmit, share, store or otherwise make available any content that we deem to be harmful, threatening, unlawful, defamatory, infringing, abusive, inflammatory, harassing, vulgar, obscene, fraudulent, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable;

However, that's not enough. Under the 15 bullet-points that lists all the things "you agree not to" do, the Terms of Use will send you to another page
Without limiting any of the foregoing, you also agree to abide by our Facebook Code of Conduct that provides further information regarding the authorized conduct of users on Facebook.

Said Code of Conduct provides that
you may not post or share Content that:

- is obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit
- depicts graphic or gratuitous violence
- makes threats of any kind or that intimidates, harasses, or bullies anyone
- is derogatory, demeaning, malicious, defamatory, abusive, offensive or hateful

What about breastfeeding? Many would argue that it's certainly not obscene, or pornographic, or sexually explicit.

Maybe they should do what some US court did, and clearly define what body parts are forbidden?

For instance, a US court has decided that "buttocks" would be so defined:
the area at the rear of the body which lies between two imaginary lines running parallel to the ground when a person is standing, the first or top such line drawn at the top of the cleavage of the nates [i.e., the prominence formed by the muscles running from the back of the hip to the back of the leg] and the second or bottom line drawn at the lowest visible point of this cleavage or the lowest point of the curvature of the fleshy protuberance, whichever is lower, and between two imaginary lines on each side of the body, which lines are perpendicular to the ground and to the horizontal lines described above, and which perpendicular lines are drawn through the point at which each nate meets the outer side of each leg. The Ordinance would be violated, therefore, if any portion of this area is visible from any vantage point. (from here)

Or, if this is still not precise enough for you, this should do?
The area at the rear of the human body (sometimes referred to as the gluteus maximus) which lies between two imaginary straight lines running parallel to the around when a Person is standing the first or ton of such line being 1/2 inch below the ton of the vertical cleavage of the nates (i.e. the prominence formed by the muscles running from the back of the his to the back of the leg and the second or bottom of such line being 1/2 inch above the lowest point of the curvature of the fleshy protuberance (sometimes referred to as the gluteal fold). and between two imaginary straight lines, one on each side of the body (the "outside lines"), which outside lines are perpendicular to the around and to the horizontal lines described above and which perpendicular outside lines pass through the outermost point(s) at which each nate meets the outer side of each lea. Notwithstanding the above Buttocks shall not include the leg, the hamstring muscle below the gluteal fold, the tensor fasciae latae muscle or any of the above-described portion of the human body that is between either (i) the left inside perpendicular line and the left outside perpendicular line or (ii} the right inside perpendicular line and the right outside perpendicular line. For the purpose of the previous sentence the left inside perpendicular line shall be an imaginary straight line on the left side of the anus (i) that is perpendicular to the around and to the horizontal lines described above and (ii) that is 1/3 of the distance from the anus to the left outside line, and the right inside perpendicular line shall be an imaginary straight line on the right side of the anus (i) that is perpendicular to the around and to the horizontal lines described above and (ii) that is 1/3 of the distance from the anus to the right outside line. (the above description can generally be described as covering 1/3 of the buttocks centered over the cleavage for the length of the cleavage.) (source )


While there, I spotted some more interesting clauses in the Facebook Code of Conduct. Indeed, you may not
use Facebook to send or make available any unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, solicitations, promotional materials, "junk mail," "spam," "chain letters," "pyramid schemes," or any other form of solicitation

I wonder if that includes all these invitations that people send you to take such-or-such a test, or join such-or-such a group. Imagine! Invite-you-friend could violate their terms of use! There IS a god after all!

(I wonder if the annoying quizzes that force you to invite 10 friends before giving you your results still exist...)

[you may not] solicit passwords or personal information from anyone, including those under 18

because those under 18 are usually not concerned by the password-solicitation prohibition? ...

[you may not] use information or content you obtained on the Facebook website or service in any manner not authorized by the Facebook Code of Conduct or Terms of Use
OK, I don't know if I need more legal education, or what, but what does THAT mean? That you may not use the info in the manners prohibited by FB? Or that you may not use any info in any manner UNLESS it's authorized by the FB code? In which case, does the Code authorize ways to use the info?

[you may not] register for more than one account or use or attempt to use another's account, service or system without authorization or create a false identity on the Service or the Site
HAHA they haven't specified whose authorization you need.

gosh I'm such a geek.