MacOS X, a decade later

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 13, 2010 in Technology

WARNING: Non-law content ahead :beatup:

I’ve been an Apple fan since middle school, a love affair I partly detailed in this Things TDot Likes entry from awhile back.

And 10 years ago today I was near the tail-end of my stint as a bona fide Apple employee, evangelizing on the company’s behalf at my alma mater N.C. State,1 when MacOS X Public Beta was released into the wild.

A screenshot of MacOS X Public Beta (Source: Wikipedia)

That’s version 10.0.0b (code name “Kodiak”2) for any of you who are current Mac users ;)

It’s hard for people to appreciate how much the state of operating systems has advanced over the past decade if you’re not a computer geek.

But I am, so let me tell you — things have advanced. A lot.

The great folks over at Ars Technica have dusted off their review of MacOS X Public Beta from a decade ago. Even if you’re not a gearhead like me, consider giving it a read and getting a feel for how primitive things used to be in computing not so long ago :)

  1. I had to give up the gig a month later, since it’s a bit difficult to be a “Student Representative” for a company when you’re no longer a student :beatup: []
  2. MacOS X releases have since been named after big cats: 10.0 was Cheetah, 10.1 was Puma, 10.2 was Jaguar, 10.3 was Panther, 10.4 was Tiger, 10.5 was Leopard, and the current 10.6 is Snow Leopard. I’m waiting for them to use Ocelot myself :D []

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TIME machine

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 12, 2010 in The 2L Life

Back on Thursday I posted a TDot’s Tips entry on highlighting the headnotes when you’re reading your casebook. The example photo I used for that entry was the LexisNexis headnotes from Baker v. Carr (369 U.S. 186 (1962)) that we were currently reading in ConLaw.

"Where are the rivals to Apple's iPad?" Not born at the time this article was written...

The textbook provided a reminder that the whole “one man, one vote” apportionment philosophy that most of us take for granted is actually a fairly new “innovation” that’s only existed for 50ish years in this country :beatup:

So I randomly decided to go Googling for more info on the doctrine’s origins.

Apparently TIME Magazine must have put all of their old articles online, because what I found was a 1968 article on Avery v. Midland County (390 US 474 (1968)) — surrounded by the rest of their 2010 website, including the ability to tweet the story or submit it to Digg :surprised:

Maybe I’m a nerd for being fascinated by this, but it felt pretty doggone cool reading the story like this, almost like being transported back 50 years ago and reading it as it happened.

Except for the whole reading-it-on-an-internet-that-didn’t-exist-back-then thing of course :beatup:

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Karaoke can cure cancer

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 11, 2010 in Student Government

OK not really. But coupled with a few drinks it makes a good remedy for a rough week :beatup:

Sorry for not having a post up yesterday y’all, I was at our local sports bar with NCCU Law‘s SBA President and Secretary enjoying some spirits and listening to comedically bad karaoke sang by random people I’ll probably never see again.

I’m not really the bar-hopping type, but after yesterday I just needed a drink. The SBA spent 8.5 hours slogging through our annual appropriations process, interviewing 30 different groups and then deciding group-by-group how much funding to allocate to their events… and when we finally got kicked out of the school by the security staff so they could lock up at midnight, we were still $26K apart between what we wanted to allocate and our available resources :beatup:

The whole process just really hasn’t gone as smoothly as I expected it would. It was a huge pain in the @$$ trying to condense all the various rules and regulations into an easy-to-read information packet. And I already told y’all about how I blanked out during the workshop. Then a non-trivial number of the requests we received were missing key information, either because folks didn’t read the packet or didn’t listen during the workshop. :mad:

And just to put some icing on the cake, we discovered as we delved through the SBA’s financial records that our predecessors went dramatically over-budget and left us with $26,945.07 less to distribute this year — fully a quarter of our annual appropriations budget :crack:

I’m not feeling self-pity so much as self-disappointment at how I’ve handled things. For example, back when I was running for this office folks complained they didn’t have enough time to present their requests last year, so this time around I pushed our Executive Board to go with 10-minute interviews (5 minutes to present, 3 for Q&A, and a 2-minute buffer). Had I opted for 8-minute interviews instead, that would have shaved an hour off the interview time that could have been devoted to deliberating… meaning we might have potentially finished instead of having to reconvene on Sunday to wrap up. :beatup:

But after a few whiskey sours and a lot of laughs, I’m back on top of the world :) Trying to get caught up on a schoolwork, then heading back in tomorrow for this last appropriations meeting — and making sure to take lots of notes to hand off to my successor ;)

That’s it from me for tonight y’all — I hope all of you have an amazing weekend! :D

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TDot’s Tips: Highlight the headnotes

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 9, 2010 in TDot's Tips

Greetings from ConLaw! :D

Now some of our longer-term readers might be wondering “What on earth is TDot doing writing a blog entry during his self-professed favoritest class evah?” — to which I’d reply “That’s a very good question!”

The truth is… I’m not :beatup: This was/is the almost-finished TDot’s Tips entry I mentioned yesterday, but given how ConLaw has gone today I figured it was a serendipitous time to post the post ;)

Specifically, I’m surprised by how many of my classmates at NCCU Law — and law students I’ve talked with at other schools too — deeply and truly hate Constitutional Law!1 :surprised:  The most common complaint I’ve heard is that it’s tough to wade through the SCOTUS-ese to find “the law” when reading cases in our (newly-issued and highlight-free) books, particularly the opinions from the Court’s early years.

It’d be a legit complaint… if “the law” wasn’t already spelled out for us :P

Maybe it’s a 2L version of “getting stuck on the dot“, but folks seem to forget that LexisNexis and WestLaw make everything easy by providing headnotes for each case. This is “the law”2  — and should be one of the things you highlight any time you’re reading an unhighlighted law school text :)

For me, studying for a class where I’ve been assigned casebook readings is a 4-part process:

1) Read the case. This one (hopefully) is obvious, but you need to actually read a case to get a real understanding of it. It’s easy to grab a LegaLines supplement or pre-cooked case brief and go from there, but odds are good the summaries you read will miss some of the important nuance in every opinion. Besides, some of the facts are just plain crazy and worth reading on their own :D

Some headnotes from LexisNexis

2) Highlight the law, a.k.a. the Wexis headnotes. WestLaw and LexisNexis both make oodles and oodles of money off law firms that use their services, so they use an oodle or two to make attorney life easier by extracting the main parts of the holding and throwing them into the headnotes. After you’ve read the case, pull it up online using your unlimited-access law student account, and go through each headnote and highlight it in the book. Now if a professor ever asks “What’s the take-home point in this opinion?” your eyes will naturally spot the highlighted section(s) of the opinion.

3) Highlight the loopholes, a.k.a. the legally significant facts. There’s an old lawyer’s adage that if the law is on your side you argue the law, and if the facts are on your side you argue the facts.3 Every court opinion is issued in response to an underlying case, and every underlying case is composed of key facts that led the court to its conclusions. You need to recognize what those key facts are so you can either harmonize or distinguish your case’s facts with those a court has already considered.

4) Put the holding in “normal people” terms. Judges aren’t normal people. Period. It’s like folks who voluntary spend their professional lives doing taxes — sure it might be an important job, but let’s not pretend like it’s a “normal” interest.4 And since judges aren’t normal people, they don’t write like normal people. And since they don’t write like normal people, it’s easy to get lost in the thicket of legalese that comprises judicial opinions. Fix that problem by writing a few notes to yourself about the court’s holding in regular terms.

For example, there’s a lot of talk about “nexuses” in Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83 (1968). This is the rhetorical description the Supreme Court decided to use in explaining its opinion, and if you focus on that (obtuse) language you may end up missing the point of the holding — that generally taxpayers can’t file suit in their capacity as taxpayers to challenge Congressional spending (nexus #1) , except in the narrow exception where it involves a purported violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause (nexus #2).


My process for reading a case probably isn’t the most efficient or even the best use of your time, so take this with the normal disclaimer that your mileage may very. It’s worked out phenomenally for me though, so hopefully you might get some use out of it too :)

Have a great night y’all! :D


Past TDot’s Tips entries:

  1. This is the foundational cornerstone stuff to our entire legal system here in the U.S., how can any aspiring lawyer not like it?? :crack: []
  2. Disclaimer: it’s actually an ever-so-slightly generalized version of the law — never quote a headnote directly in a brief, and instead quote the court’s own language ;) []
  3. The adage continues: And if neither is on your side, you malign the opposition :beatup: []
  4. When was the last time you heard a 3rd grader say he wanted to become a tax attorney when he grew up? Exactly ;) []

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25 things about… me

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 8, 2010 in Randomness

Hey y’all :)

I’ve actually got a TDot’s Tips entry ready to go that I was planning on posting tonight, but a couple hours ago one of my friends on Twitter tweeted about a portion of a Facebook note I had written what feels like an eternity ago.1 So I figured since many of y’all have been reading my (crazed) musings for quite awhile now, you deserve a copy/paste of the original note to help shed some light on the man behind the laptop ;)

And even if you didn’t, I’ve got classes starting at 8:30am tomorrow so I need to finish studying and go to bed :beatup:

You can read the original note (and ensuing comments) on Facebook here. Here’s the copy/paste, with footnotes added for the few items that have changed since starting law school:

ok I give up! — 25 things about TGD
by T Greg Doucette on Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 3:57pm

Back in late January, a friend of mine at UNC Pembroke tagged me in a note posting 25 random items about her and asking the folks tagged in the note to do the same — in what turned out to be the first salvo in the latest wave of Facebook “chain notes.” A couple dozen tags later, I still hadn’t written one myself mostly out of (i) laziness and (ii) hoping I would outlast the fad.

Despite the nagging inbox messages and IMs and texts, eventually folks stopped writing the notes in favor of whatever new thing was going around. And there was no note from El TGD. Victory was mine.

Then I guess people felt bad for not responding months ago, b/c the summer rolled around and they started sprouting up again. And again. And again. So after being tagged another couple times, I’m finally throwing in the towel, taking a break from work, and posting my own note so I can assuage my guilty conscience. I even went back and tagged all the people who tagged me originally — and threw in a few extra folks just to subject them to the same shame for not writing a note of their own when they got tagged months ago :P

Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you. I may have tagged you even if you’ve posted 25 random things already. In this case I just tagged you because I love you!

[TGD’s edit: I didn’t write the rules, I just copy/pasted them :P ]


1) The “T” stands for “The” (or “Thomas”, depending on who’s asking).

2) Before anyone ever used the phrase “larger-than-life ego” to describe Barack Obama, they were using it to describe me.

3) Loyalty is more important than competence. And I passionately despise incompetence. So you can imagine what I think of disloyalty :)

4) I also have issues with people who i) complain all the time, ii) always need to be taken care of, iii) are unreliable or iv) only contact you when they need/want something.

5) I am a firm believer in a benevolent and almighty God, although I generally keep my faith to myself and usually avoid theological conversations.

6) I didn’t have an alcoholic beverage until I was 25. And I still never touch the stuff in the presence of my grandparents.

7) My greatest contribution as a lobbyist was figuring out how to explain why I don’t smoke (one of our clients was the Cigar Association of America). Remind me to tell you some time if you haven’t heard it already.

8) My eyes are really, really sensitive to light. That’s why I usually keep my office fairly dark and always wear sunglasses outside. It’s also apparently earned me the nickname “The Vampire” among certain denizens of Witherspoon Student Center2 :P

9) It takes a *lot* to get me angry. And on the rare occasions it happens, I’m usually perfectly fine after a decent night’s sleep.

10) In tandem with #9, it kills me to upset people (intentionally or otherwise). Except when it relates to #3 or #4 ;)

11) I’ve learned more in the past 4 years at NC State than in the 7 years before it combined — and more in the past 11 years being in North Carolina than the previous 17 combined.

12) I was raised in Virginia Beach, but never really appreciated the ocean until I moved to Raleigh. As much as I love oak trees, I prefer the coast.

13) Women are my kryptonite. Of all the dumb things I’ve done in my life, the majority were done for a girl.

14) At some point about two years ago I was looking back on the path I took to come back to NCSU… and stopped worrying about failure. It’s a transformative and profoundly empowering realization, even though it also helped torpedo my GPA.

15) Despite #14 I’m still excessively competitive, especially when it comes to basketball, video games, and politics :)

16) There are only 2 decisions I’ve made in my life that I can genuinely say I regret. Few people know either of them. No one knows them both.

17) Once upon a time I was the youngest elected Vice Chairman in the history of the Wake County GOP… and have since been convinced that most of the “party leaders” in North Carolina are utter fruitcakes. Now I generally prefer local Democrats and national Republicans (except for those dumbasses in the House who equated themselves with Iranian protesters).

18) I’m a pretty good cook (breakfast is my specialty), and I’m very protective of my kitchen. But I’m also not terribly adventurous with food — the most exotic thing I’ve tried was alligator, and I wasn’t impressed.3

19) I’ve taken tap, jazz, and ballet classes, sang in chorus, and acted in theatre (and even a movie). And contrary to popular belief, none of it was to meet girls.

20) I’m open to pretty much any kind of music, but my iTunes library is overwhelmingly R&B, rap, and classical.

21) When I first came to NCSU, I couldn’t afford a computer. Looking back, I don’t know how I was able to pass my classes without one.

22) As much as I complain about being stressed, I’m a Type A workaholic and haven’t taken a bona fide vacation in years.4 And forcing me to turn off my BlackBerry for more than an hour is almost as painful as waterboarding…

23) Surprisingly, I enjoy being a teacher and mentor. I have no idea where life is going to take me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that ended up being my career after law school and the USMC.5

24) The most rewarding experience I’ve had in my life so far has been serving in Student Government at NCSU and in the UNC Association of Student Governments. I’ve met dozens of amazing people, worked with some of the best student leaders this state has ever seen, and learned more than I thought was possible — all while helping to improve people’s lives and having more than my fair share of fun :)

25) I am a hopeless romantic, an incurable idealist, and an unapologetic believer in American exceptionalism and the God-given rights of man. I bleed Wolfpack red. I’m allergic to bullshit. I hate cold weather. And I’m done with this note :*

Law stuff tomorrow :) Have a great night everybody!! :D

  1. Feels like eternity even though it was only 1.25 years ago :beatup:  It’s slightly disturbing how much 1L year has permanently warped my perception of time… []
  2. This is the building where the NC State Student Government is located, for my non-NC readers :) []
  3. Unsurprisingly, this is still true :beatup: []
  4. Officially outdated as of this past Independence Day weekend! :spin:   []
  5. Or just “after law school” in light of my cardiovascular shortcomings… []

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There must be something in the water

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 7, 2010 in The 2L Life

Good evening everybody! :D

Earlier today the Student Bar Association at NCCU Law conducted the elections for the 1L class officers. Now before the election, the Class of 2013 (2014 for the night program) had already surprised us during Orientation with their (feigned?) attentiveness during the 2L/3L panel. And they surprised us again by having multiple candidates for every single SBA office.1 The surprises kept coming during the 1.5-week-long election cycle, when several candidates teamed up to form actual slates and campaigned as a team.

So today was Election Day, and I guess they decided to throw one more surprise into the mix: voter turnout was 69.14% :eek:

None of us on the SBA can definitively say that’s an all-time record, but only because our historical records on voter turnout are rather… mmm… shall we say “sparse.” We’re fairly confident it’s an all-time record though.

For comparison purposes, the closest turnout for an election for U.S. President that I could find happened in 1960 when JFK was elected, and even then turnout was only a hair above 60%. Not trying to equate the NCCU Law Class of 2013 presidency with the US presidency of course, but merely offering some “food for thought” on civic activism ;)

Congratulations to the folks who won! The SBA officers are looking forward to working with all of you — and personally I’m looking forward to watching what y’all do in the future! :D

  1. Usually there are a bunch of candidates for President, a few for VP, few (if any) for Secretary and Treasurer, and a variable number of folks looking to be the 1L Reps to the SBA. []

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The “official start” of the Fall semester

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 6, 2010 in The 2L Life

If you’re tuned in to the political process, you’ve probably heard at some point that Labor Day marks the “official start” of campaign season — the time when voters start to pay attention, and aspiring politicians sprint toward Election Day with their assortment of negative ads.

My 2L Fall semester at NCCU Law seems to be following a similar path: from early August through today it’s been comparatively relaxed (complete with the past week off), and now things get kicked up a notch as we grind out the next 5 weeks until midterms start on October 11th. And I feel like a total slacker for confessing this, but I’m really not looking forward to actually having to attend classes this week :beatup:

Wake me up when 3L year gets here…

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Spruce-ifying our error messages

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 5, 2010 in Technology

Good evening y’all! :D

The never-ending war on WordPress comment spam has been less-intense the past couple weeks, owing in large part to my hair-trigger tendency to add people to the .htaccess banlist :beatup:  I started keeping track of the raw number of referrers1 and IPs banned just for my own amusement, and in typical TDot fashion created a chart showing where things were as of September 1st.

See the footnote before complaining about my spelling :P

Banning spammers has the upshot of “purifying” the site stats — meaning the people who show up in the logs are now either (a) search engine crawlers or (b) honest-to-God humans — but it also raises the possibility a legit visitor might get banned because they happen to be accessing the site from a spam-tastic host.

I’ve been meaning to clean up the ErrorDocument files that our web server spits out when that sort of thing happens, but considering I’ve barely kept up with posting do you really think I got around to something that requires actual coding? :P

Fortunately it’s a long holiday weekend following an abbreviated school week, so today got to be the lucky day I sat down and hammered out some more tweaks. In lieu of studying of course :beatup:

Now if you happen to be one of those unfortunate souls banned from accessing the law-licious goodness of law:/dev/null because you or your fellow server denizens have engaged in scurrilous spamming or other electronic acts of villainy, you’ll be greeted with a page explaining that you’re forbidden from accessing anything and, more importantly, my email address if you think I’ve banned you in error. w00t for slightly-more-useful error messages.

Of course with the 403 Forbidden page getting a makeover, the 404 Not Found page was feeling left out so I tweaked that too. Now if you try to reach a post that no longer exists or you go somewhere that’s just plain silly (http://www.lawdevnull.com/pinkelephants/ for instance) the page will not only let you know the thing your looking for isn’t there but also — thanks to AskApache’s Google 404 plugin — provide you with Google-generated suggestions for what you might have been trying to find :)

Feel free to poke around and experiment, and if you notice any bugs or kinks or typos let me know! Actual law-related content coming soon, but until then have a great night!! :D

  1. Computer Science story: even though it’s misspelled, “referer” is frequently used when referring to HTTP referrers since the misspelled variant was in the proposal creating the HTTP specification way back in 1995… because the automated spellcheck back then didn’t recognize either referer or referrer :surprised:  You can’t make this stuff up folks! []

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This isn’t becoming a habit…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Sep 4, 2010 in The 2L Life

…the whole “not updating the blog on a timely basis” thing. I promise. I’ve just noticed that I tend to slack on the blog on the same days I slack on the schoolwork. :beatup:

This past Tuesday, the day after the last post I managed to get online here at law:/dev/null, was spent helping to run what we called the SBA Student Stimulus Sale — a 9am-9pm event where all the NCCU Law paraphernalia sold by the Student Bar Association was discounted by 15% to raise money for student groups. The other SBA officers and I wanted to do some kind of promotional event close to when financial aid refunds went out, so folks would be more willing to part with their cash.

Let’s just say the plan was a success ;)

But that success also meant skipping all of my classes for the day1 to run the SBA’s store, prompting Co-Counsel to complain about my priorities.2 Then the next day Prof ZombieLaw wasn’t feeling well and cancelled class, meaning I got the day off. Then on Thursday most of the NCCU campus endured a day-long power outage so all those classes were cancelled too. And of course I have no classes on Fridays, then today was the first real day of the college football season :spin:

So overall I’ve barely thought about law for almost a week now, and that meant barely doing anything with the blog aside from cleaning out the spam comments :beatup:

It all comes at a price: in between games today I cleaned up the apartment a bit, so tomorrow and the Labor Day holiday can both be devoted to catching up on all the reading I’ve missed. Hopefully the academic work will remind to keep things updated here though ;)

Hope all of you had a great week last week, and have an equally great holiday weekend ahead! :D

  1. Except ConLaw :) []
  2. I put a high priority on honoring my obligations, including running the store I was elected to run during a sale I convinced the ExecBoard to hold on the day I asked them to hold it. Is that bad? :P []

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