We're sprouting bollards today. Here's a mushroom one in Belgium (Wikipedia)

We’re sprouting bollards today. Here’s a mushroom one in Belgium (Wikipedia)

When I received an email this week from the State Bar of Arizona CEO and glanced at the subject line, my first thought was: I must have really irked him.

After all, my speedy glimpse revealed what I thought was a British obscenity. Upon closer examination, though, I could read it accurately: “Bollards”

Whew. Not an Anglo–Saxon expletive, after all.

Once I got past my concern about the subject line and read John Phelps’ email, I realized that he was informing State Bar staff about the installation of new short vertical posts, placed outside the building’s front doors as security devices.

US Capitol security

Safe and sound? Warm and fuzzy?

John took the moment to make it more than a construction update. He informed us why they were appearing (no specific concerns, but let’s be safe out there). And then, because he knows how much some of us enjoy the oddities of life, he included the link to the Wikipedia page on bollards.

Yes, there is one. And yes, you should click it. (That’s where I got a few nifty bollard photos, natch).

So John’s email was helpful, but I still was concerned. Would we step outside and see yellow pylons, a la Safeway or Costco? Or, even worse, had the charming entrance been transformed into a Benghazi streetscape (or a tourist’s modern-day view of the U.S. Capitol)?

Imagine my pleasure at seeing the result. The bollards complement the building and surrounding planters nicely. Security appropriate to its surroundings—well done!

Bollard state bar

Bar bollards bloom

Immediately after snapping this shot, I was able to get confirmation that the good taste of Bar deciders is not universal. Twenty minutes later, I was at the downtown Phoenix Police station for a meeting, where I strode up to the brutalist architecture (which undoes any good done by the officers’ community policing).

Phoenix Police Department HQ

Phoenix Police Department headquarters

There, I spotted the alternative to the Bar’s approach: the police bollards.

Bollard phoenix police

Bollards protect and serve up some hurt

Yikes. They were what I had feared. Fierce and menacing, they ensure a visitor does not feel welcome. (And before you say “unfair,” the ones at the front of the building are pretty grim, too.)

Well done, State Bar.

Back to the Wikipedia page.

A big fan of tugboats, I was pleased to see the entry’s nautical bent. Here are a few more bollards that add quirkiness to function.

bollard Victoria Canada

Well-dressed bollards in Victoria, B.C.

And for those of you whose hopes were raised upon mention of the British expletive, I offer a Change of Venue Friday video: a banned VW ad that prominently features the word “bollocks.”

Let’s see if that irks John.

Have a great weekend.

I can’t be the first to spot this uncanny connection, right? The link I’m talking about is the one between computer passwords and curse words.

Most of us have been flummoxed by the wide variety of passwords we have to remember. And just when we’ve got it nailed, we’re required to alter our password, to make it more complex.

The connection comes, of course, from the fact that IT departments throughout the world have determined that the path to more highly complex (and therefore more secure) passwords is through that strange top row on your computer keyboard. That’s where we find things like *@!#$. Used in combination with letters and numbers, it gets pretty unbreakable.

Not by accident, I’m sure, it is also another way of … cursing. In fact, I came across an actual word for the symbol: grawlix—a string of typographical symbols used (especially in comic strips) to represent an obscenity or swear word.

Here is some more background on the grawlix. The next time you’re asked to complexify your password, reach in and grab a grawlix (it may be on the tip of your tongue already).

Meantime, Arizona lawyers who make use of the State Bar of Arizona website are feeling the grawlix pain. Last week, they were told to ratchet up their password complexity.

Here is a news item from the Bar’s Rick DeBruhl, who took on the task of explaining the new process—and weathering some !@#$%, I’d guess.

From the State Bar:

Are you one of those people who use “password” as your password? How about “123456”? If so, it’s time for a change. Members logging into their AZBar account this week to file their MCLE affidavits have noticed we’re requiring you to use a tougher password. As a result of a few cyber attacks that targeted a small number of member email accounts, we decided that it was time to make it a little harder for the bad guys to hack their way in. We’ve adopted the Microsoft standard which requires a minimum of eight characters, two of which must be either a number, capital letter or a symbol (such as ?, ! or *).

Why does it matter if someone hacks into your account? It creates a series of problems. The first is that you’re at risk for having your identity stolen. That’s especially true if you use the same password for other accounts. While some hackers use victim’s accounts to send spam, others are making it part of a confidence scheme creating other victims. Finally, hacked accounts pose system problems as well. If the Bar appears to be the source for spam, some providers will block our accounts which prevent legitimate emails from going through.

Will a tougher password make a difference? After speaking with the few members who had their accounts hacked, it appears that they weren’t victims of phishing or some complex attack. They simply had passwords that were easy to guess. One estimate says that using the Microsoft password standard makes it 25,000 times more difficult to figure out.

Here are a few more tips from Microsoft:

  • Don’t use names of spouses, children, girlfriends/boyfriends or pets.
  • Don’t use phone numbers, Social Security numbers or birthdates.
  • Don’t use the same word as your log-in, or any variation of it.
  • Don’t use any word that can be found in the dictionary—even foreign words.
  • Don’t use passwords with double letters or numbers.

We work hard to protect both your identity and the security of your account. The battle against junk email has reached the point where we currently block or mark approximately 98% of all incoming emails as spam.

We understand that thinking up one more complex password doesn’t make your life any easier up front. But avoiding a hacking problem can save you a lot of time and headache down the road.

If you are running your own law practice—or even thinking of taking the plunge—there are a few online resources you should bookmark. The blog Law Practice Matters by Erik Mazzone is one.

His blog came to mind this week as I thought about our October issue of Arizona Attorney. That issue will include a good amount of law practice management content. But one of the topics I had considered (but ultimately had to leave aside) was in regard to flash drives.

Those tiny devices have become an ever-present part of office life. The massive decline in memory pricing has only added to their ubiquity.

But like any device, flash drives may have their downsides. I encourage you to read Erik’s recent post, on the question: What do I do when I see a flash drive in the street?

You may never look at those little USBs in the same way again.

Last fall, the Arizona Superior Court for Maricopa County heeded the longtime plea of lawyers when they created an express line for attorneys.

The court recognized the frustration of those bar members who must enter the courthouse often, sometimes more than once a day. To ensure that they’re never late for a trial or calendar call, those lawyers have always had to arrive super-early, just in case there’s a slow-moving line at security.

In October, the new lawyer line was created. But the court personnel have noted that the entrance is used less than they would have expected.

This week, the court issued is a reminder of this great new feature:

Superior Court’s Attorney Express Line

In order to alleviate lawyers waiting in long lines to enter the courthouse with members of the public, Maricopa County Superior Court has designated the First Avenue entrance of the East Court Building for attorneys only.

Once lawyers enter through the new Attorney Express Line, they simply show their State Bar of Arizona membership card and proceed through screening.

“We want everyone to get to court on time,” Security Director Edward DeCoste said. “The new entrance also enhances public safety by eliminating any potential confrontations between attorneys and members of the public.”

Attorneys still may enter through the other existing entrances but they are encouraged to utilize the Attorney Express Line.

“I think it works great,” said Bruce L. Bauman, a family and bankruptcy law attorney. “In the past, I was cutting my court appearances close. The new line is faster and much more convenient. I hope the court continues to make it available.”

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