advice you can use — short and to the point — every Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday

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All Our Tips

  • Technology

You may or may not have noticed that there is a question mark on the top right-hand corner of your Outlook mail application. If you have noticed, chances are you have never clicked on it, assuming that it would bring up a list of unhelpful FAQs or, even worse, the old “Clippy” office assistant.

A few weeks ago, I was having a trouble with Outlook, and out of desperation I clicked on that question mark. I was pleasantly surprised by the results. I opened up a chat box with a help team at Microsoft. They asked me a series of questions, and over the course of a couple of days we worked through and eventually resolved the issue. And, yes, it was apparent that I was dealing with actual humans.

So, an interesting discovery regarding Microsoft Outlook, particularly if you have your own business or home computer.

Lesha Van Der Bij (@LVanDerBij) is CEO & Founder of Optimize Legal – keeping law firms and businesses up-to-date on changes to the law.


  • Research & Writing

The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969) defines a treaty in Article 2 as “an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument, or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation.”

Treaties can be bilateral (between two countries), multilateral (between three or more countries) or plurilateral (between one state and a group of states).

In Canada, treaties fall into one of two categories: those that do not require new legislation in order to be implemented and those that do. For treaties that don’t require legislation, the Canadian government will wait at least twenty-one sitting days after a treaty is tabled and then begin the process of bringing the treaty into force. For treaties that do require legislative changes, the Government will generally wait a minimum of twenty-one sitting days before introducing the necessary legislation, although exceptions can be made if a treaty needs to be urgently ratified. (For more information on the process see

For example, the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, signed in The Hague in 1970, is a multilateral treaty of which Canada is a signatory. Canada signed the Convention on December 16, 1970, but did not ratify it until June 20, 1972. The legislation was tabled in the House of Commons on June 23, 1972 and the Convention came into force in Canada on July 24, 1972. (The in force date differs greatly by country.)

The Canadian Treaty Series is available at and you can search Canada’s treaties at

Susannah Tredwell


  • Research & Writing

Administrator’s note: thanks to Lesley Ellen Harris of for this guest tip!

Do you sometimes feel that there’s too much information out there?

Do you wish there were a list of the top 5 to 10 online articles you need to read to get from point A to point B?

These posts on Canadian copyright law provide a basic understanding of a variety of topics.

  1. 10 Myths About Canadian Copyright Law
  2. 8 Facts About Canadian Copyright Law
  3. Canadian Copyright Law Quiz
  4. The Balance in Canadian Copyright Law
  5. Who Owns Copyright in Canada?
  6. Duration of Copyright in Canada
  7. Moral Rights in Canadian Copyright Law
  8. Orphan Works in Canada: Unlocatable Copyright Owners
  9. Canadian Versus U.S. Copyright Law
  10. Canadian Librarians and International Copyright


  • Technology

Here’s a handy browser extension to add to your toolbox: FireShot, an add-on that captures entire webpage screenshots – even scrollable areas.

Install FireShot in just a few seconds, then screenshot any website just by clicking the “S” icon in the top right corner of your browser and selecting an option:

Once you click an option, there will be a short pause, and a new tab will open up, allowing you to work with your screenshot: edit, save to various formats, add text annotations, share, copy to clickboard, print, etc.

The first time I saved an image, I was prompted to allow FireShot to manage my downloads. Then a “Save As” prompt appeared where I could chose the name and destination to save my screenshot. Here’s what the output looks like (click to see a larger version):

FireShot Lite is free; a pro version with more functions is also available. Works with Chrome, Firefox, and several other browsers.


  • Research & Writing

Shut down, shutdown
Don’t confuse these.

You shut down your computer in anticipation of the firmwide shutdown by the IT department.  On a similar footing, log in and login.

This is like the awful liaise.

Surveil is a misguided back-formation from surveillance, but an ugly and unnecessary one; just say watch or follow.

Well wishes
Where on earth did this expression come from? You wish someone well, but send good wishes. Well wishes awkwardly places an adverb where only an adjective should go.

The partner was impressed by the associate’s memo.

OK, but was the impression favourable or unfavourable? We generally mean impressed in a positive way, but if you think about it the word means that something elicited a reaction, whether negative or positive.

That said, She was not impressed would never be taken to mean neutrality or lack of response. Avoid anyway, not least because it’s a journalistic/Wikipedia-entry kind of word.

The below
For the love of all that is beautiful and true, no!

Please see above (or below) or the paragraph above (or below) would be fine, but the below in reference to something set out lower down is inelegant.

Whatever happened to ‘on’ and ‘about’?
People now say around or even surrounding when a simpler on or about would do. Issues surrounding, questions around, rules around – stop this!

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


  • Technology

Is there a podcast or YouTube channel you’d like to keep track of or display using RSS? Determining the RSS feeds for videos and podcasts can be tricky. Here are a couple of tips on how to find the RSS feeds for YouTube channels and playlists, and podcasts on iTunes or Soundcloud.

To determine the RSS feed for a  YouTube channel:

  1. View the page source for the YouTube channel (right click on the page and click “view page source”
  2. Do a search for the text “channelID” and copy the value next to it. It will look something like this: UCqoH4oSIEttrjmasHPBx5Ug
  3. Paste that Channel ID value into this URL:

To determine the RSS feed for a YouTube playlist:

  1. Go to the playlist homepage you want the feed for, and copy the playlist ID from the end of the URL. It will begin with PL, and will look something like this: PLoKLMZAP5PVfgB9d7IpdZRO4E1m4WFXBM
  2. Swap in the playlist ID in this URL:

To determine the RSS feed for a podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud:

  • Go to, paste in an iTunes or Soundcloud URL and hit enter – it will determine and display the public feed, which you can view by clicking on the RSS button.

Do you have any other handy RSS hints? Please share in the comments!


  • Research & Writing

You’ve already been advised in a previous post not to say outside of or inside of. The of is both unnecessary and incorrect in each case.

Of creeps in elsewhere, where it should not. As in the shudder-inducing off of, Please, just off. Or perhaps from (I got it from the internet, not off of).

Or as in It’s not that big of a deal. You mean It’s not that big a deal (although not much of a big deal).

Where you should be using of is with the verb enamoured: you are enamoured of (not with) someone if you are in love with that person (enamoured by the person if you are loved back).

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


  • Technology

Not long ago, as I was working with some RSS feeds, I was dismayed to discover that suddenly, Firefox wouldn’t display them. Instead I was being prompted to save or open the file using another program. What a pain!

Turns out that with the release of Firefox 64, Mozilla dropped support for feeds and live bookmarks.

Luckily I found a solution without much hassle. There are several add-ons that will restore this functionality to Firefox. I picked one called Feed Preview that had good reviews. So far, so good; feeds are displayed cleanly and elegantly. Here’s what the Slaw Tips feed looks like with the Feed Preview add-on.



  • Research & Writing

The general rule of thumb is that acts are amended (or repealed) by acts and regulations are amended (or repealed) by regulations. Some acts do explicitly state that they can be amended by regulation, although what can be amended is usually minor (e.g. making changes to a schedule to an act).

An example of this can be found in British Columbia’s Workers Compensation Act:

(4.1) The Board may, by regulation,

(a) add to or delete from Schedule B [of the act] a disease that, in the opinion of the Board, is an occupational disease,
(b) add to or delete from Schedule B a process or an industry, and
(c) set terms, conditions and limitations for the purposes of paragraphs (a) and (b).

Such provisions are known as Henry VIII clauses. The name is based on Henry VIII’s reputed fondness “for legislating directly by proclamation rather than through Parliament.


  • Technology

I recently made a couple of small purchases that made a big difference: new charge cables for my phone and tablet. And as soon as I started using them, I was kicking myself for not having bought them sooner.

My old cables had been on their very last legs: they still worked, but one was starting to become loose at a connection point, and the other had actually lost a piece of casing. They weren’t charging as quickly as they once had. Plus, their lengths weren’t ideal either–both had always been just a bit too short for the locations I used them in, which meant there was always either a phone falling off its charging surface (thank heavens for OtterBox!) or a cable pulled just a bit too tight. Not great for my devices OR the cables. I knew continuing to use them wasn’t safe or practical.

I took a few minutes and browsed the options and reviews on Amazon before treating myself to some quality cables that are double the length of and much sturdier than the originals.

Now I don’t put off charging my devices, because I can easily leave them plugged in and still bring them over to where I want to use them, and I suspect they will also last a lot longer because they’ll be under less stress.

If you’ve got cables that don’t charge as quickly as they used to, or are looking damaged, or are too short, why not treat yourself to some new ones? You’ll wonder why you waited so long. Happy charging!