Gadgets aplenty at Consumer Electronics Show

Frank Gorman of Gorman & Williams was in Las Vegas last week for the annual Consumer Electronics Show. On Friday, the intellectual property lawyer offered an overview of the expo. Today, he provides a list of gadgets and products that grabbed his attention.

CES 2011 ended Sunday. More than 130,000 registered attendees walked through 1.5 million square feet of exhibit space looking at a wide range of consumer electronic products. While it is impossible to see everything CES has to offer, each person comes away with a sense of what’s hot, what’s not, what’s unique, and when to pass.

1. LG’s Smart TV. This wall-mounted, flat-screen, high-definition TV incorporates all the streaming entertainment and social networking features of your PC or laptop. The TV has a USB and RJ45 ethernet ports. You can download apps, send e-mails, stream a Netflix-provided movie, etc.

No keyboard is provided, but you could use a wireless keyboard or use an app that makes your iPhone keyboard work on the TV. There were several CES exhibitors promoting these “Smart TVs,” and this term has become generic. Check out LG’s offerings here.

Meanwhile, what happened to 3D TV?  It was the star of CES 2011 and was promoted again this year, especially by Sony, but 3D has not taken off the tarmac.

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Legal disptach from the Consumer Electronics Show

Frank Gorman of Gorman & Williams is in Las Vegas for the annual Consumer Electronics Show. It’s Gorman’s first time at CES since 2007, although he attended for most of the Aughts.

The Baltimore lawyer says he goes “to see and keep up with technology,” which helps in his intellectual property practice. He is also an enthusiastic advocate of courtroom technology.

Gorman has graciously offered to write a few dispatches from Vegas. Today is an overview of CES; Monday he’ll have a look at some of the cool gadgets that are the hallmark of the event.

Gadgets aside, the big-picture story at CES 2011 is the increasing competition among the major players in the industry as they use existing technologies to create new products and services.

CES 2011 is big and sprawling, as in previous years. There are more than 2,700 exhibitors with booths in the Las Vegas Convention Center touting an incredible variety of consumer electronic products and services. There is a full array of conferences, presentations, and keynote speakers. There are thousands of registered attendees. Lots of deals will be made. In short, the excitement in Las Vegas this week is the event itself.

CES this year, however, is not a showcase for breakthrough technologies that permit consumers to do things they could not do before. In previous years, the excitement came from dramatic changes: broadband replaces dial-up; streaming digital content from its source eliminates the need for CDs and DVDs; Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) ends the monopoly of keyboarding and permits consumers to communicate over the Internet by voice; wireless frees consumers from cords.

Instead, CES 2011 is the arena for the competing products that have resulted from high-level market competition in the industry. Software giants Google, Microsoft, Apple are each innovating and maneuvering to gain dominance in markets previously dominated by the others.

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“Juan” interesting keynote speaker

Tonight I’ll be attending Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service’s pro bono recognition reception at the University of Maryland School of Law. The event will honor lawyers and law firms for their pro bono service, including three lawyers who have taken at least one case a year from MVLS for the last 10 years.

Oh, and the keynote speaker is Juan Williams. Yes, that Juan Williams. It should be noted Williams was scheduled to speak at the MVLS event way before the whole NPR kerfuffle, and he is still going to talk about volunteerism. Whether he will address his own situation is not known; I’ve been told there is going to be no formal Q&A session, and it’s possible he won’t be taking  questions at all.

But that will not stop me from Tweeting live from Westminster Hall tonight. You can follow me here. I’ll have a full report of the event tomorrow.

Anything you’d like me to ask Mr. Williams?

The courts and the tweets

I’ve come to view the social norms of the courtroom as very similar to a house of worship. You dress up nice, speak in hushed tones and try not to snore during a sermon or closing argument.

I also know you don’t whip out your cell phone in either sanctuary. If you have to call someone or need to have an in-depth conversation, you step out into the hallway as far away from everyone else as possible. It’s both considerate and common sense.

I was thinking about this as I read Andy Green’s criticism of the Baltimore City Circuit Court’s ban on Twitter in the courthouse, prompted by the Dixon trial and verdict. As The Daily Record’s Official Dixon Verdict Tweeter, I guess I’m part of the reason why the ban was enacted.

My tweets, for the record, came from the hallway outside the courtroom. Granted, most of my tweeting was done while we were awaiting a verdict, so I wasn’t leaving the courtroom during any proceeding. But when court was in session, I would try to leave quietly during a break in the action, even if that was simply someone else speaking.

Of course, the nature of the Dixon trial meant there were at least a half-dozen people “quietly” leaving the courtroom at the same time as me. Judge Dennis M. Sweeney solved the problem on at least two occasions by allowing a group of reporters to sit in the back of the courtroom and leave to Tweet and report on his cue. Once we left the courtroom, though, we were not allowed back inside until the proceeding ended.

So while you’re “working” from home today, answer me this: How would you handle Twitter if you were a judge?

Law Day meets YouTube

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The Maryland State Bar Association has announced the winners of its 2009 “Law In Your Daily Life” YouTube contest. Sponsored by MSBA’s Public Awareness Committee, the contest invited state residents to submit videos designed to help people better understand the legal system.

A judging panel awarded a total of $2,000 in prize money to what it deemed the best videos submitted by children and adults. On Wednesday, the audience for the MSBA’s Law Day event focusing on the law and young people saw all of the videos and handed out $1,000 in prize money for “People’s Choice” winners.

Personally, I think the audience got it right. My favorite part – besides the singer’s shirt – are his co-stars.

A-twitter over Twitter

I used my Twitter account for the first time last week while covering the Exxon verdict in Baltimore County Circuit Court. Turns out I chose to start using the “micro-blogging” site (which limits entries to 140 characters or less) just as ”tweets” in the legal process were making headlines.

Earlier this month, a federal judge allowed a reporter in Kansas to “tweet” from a federal racketeering gang trial. Lawyers were worried jurors would read the posts, but a federal judge ruled jurors are already told to avoid news accounts of their trial, and Twitter would be no exception.

Then, on Friday, an Arkansas company said it would appeal a $12.6 million verdict because a juror tweeted during the trial. One of the posts read: “I just gave away TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS of somebody else’s money.”

The company’s lawyer said the messages demonstrate the juror “was predisposed toward giving a verdict that would impress his audience.”

All of this Twitter talk makes arguments about cameras in the courtroom seem kind of quaint, don’t you think?

Week in Photos, 02/11-02/15

*Barack Obama’s sweep of the ‘Potomac Primary’ and the ice storm that threatened whether voters would make it to the polls

*Incumbent Reps. Wynn and Gilchrest lost their seats to rivals

*A developer is planning to create a Chinatown for Baltimore

*On Valentine’s Day, same-sex marriage debate rages in Annapolis

*And much more

… in this edition of Week in Photos!

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Video: Charles St. businesses react to trolley proposal

Andy Rosen wrote for our print edition today about the “harsh response” in Annapolis to a bill that would ban special tax districts.

One affected project would be the Charles Street Trolley proposal, which relies (in part) on funding from a property tax surcharge on homeowners in a special tax district near the site.

Here’s what some Charles Street business owners and managers had to say about the trolley proposal and what it would cost.

JACKIE SAUTER, Web Editor

Video shot and edited by Brett Keller

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Video: Baltimore cop suspended over altercation with teen

Sometimes you’re looking in vain for a blog post to kick off the day, and sometimes one just falls into your lap.

The latter was the case this morning, after this story came down the wire, about a veteran Baltimore cop who was suspended after a YouTube video of his encounter with a 14 year-old skateboarder at the Inner Harbor made the rounds.

In the video, it appears that the officer is ordering a group of teens to stop skateboarding (which is banned at the Inner Harbor). When the 14 year-old resists, the officer puts him in a headlock and berates him for being disrespectful.

At one point, the officer asks the teen: “Are you from the County or something?” He then proceeds with this zinger: “Obviously, your parents don’t put a foot in your butt quite enough, because you don’t understand the meaning of respect.”

WJZ-TV even got an interview with the teen.

Watch the video below and let us know if you think the cop was out of line or not.

JACKIE SAUTER, Web Editor

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