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When internet memes attack…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 15, 2010 in Site Stats

What do “nom nom nom”, “::headdesk::”, and “#fml” all have in common?

Lots of people looking for nom-ing bunnies...

They’re all internet memes I’ve been using here on law:/dev/null for months now… and they’ve turned into a real headache when it comes to site maintenance :beatup:

I first noticed something was amiss when the blog got hit by a massive wave of spam comments back on July 11th. The pageview spike was so massive I had to leave out that entire day when updating these bar charts, otherwise the “Pageviews per Day” bar would be about 50% higher than it is now.

To highlight the spike, I created a new chart below graphing the number of spam comments against the number of unique IP addresses we had in a given month (higher bars == more spam comments per capita).

As I spent the next couple weeks re-acquainting myself with .htaccess directives for this spam prevention entry, I noticed something else odd in the log files: we had a trio of referrer URLs showing megabytes upon megabytes of data being transferred but with -0- corresponding pageviews. After poking around I realized the bunny picture from this old Contracts entry was being hotlinked all over the place for reasons I couldn’t figure out.

So I logged in to Google’s Webmaster Tools for the first time in months, and figured out what was going on — over 15,000+ searches on 30 different variations of “om nom nom” :crack:

July brought lots of spam...

Apparently when I switched how WordPress sets post URLs last month (from the old numeric “?p=1234” to the current setup), the search index for that Contracts entry went up high enough that the bunny picture became the #1 result for anyone doing a Google search with “nom nom” in it.

Not the entire entry of course. Just the bunny pic. :beatup:

Things have calmed down a bit now that I’ve started banning spambots and limiting the hotlinks. My guess is traffic will go back to a more-linear growth pattern for August. We’ll see what happens :)

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On the search query front, we had a bunch of duplicate searches but also some fresh ones. Here are 20 of the 100+ unique search terms that brought folks here in July:

  • chazz clevinger: worked with me as the Vice President of Legislative & Public Affairs for UNCASG two years ago. I haven’t kept in touch with him much since law school started, but he did good work for the students of North Carolina.
  • nc dmv 30 day tag for insurance lapse: cost me $63, and I didn’t even need one :mad:
  • nccu lsat score evening program: for 2009-10, was 151 for the evening program, with the 25th percentile folks at 148 and the 75th percentile folks at 155 according to the class profile.
  • blackberry messenger group nccu school of law ’11: exists, but I’m not a part of it since I’m in the Class of 2012 ;) Hit up one of the 3Ls for more info.
  • tdot surplus vehicles: HA! I wish I had surplus vehicles…
  • does duquesne law school give midterms?: I don’t know about Duquesne Law, but NCCU Law does :spin:
  • letter demanding payment from ex girlfriend: is probably not going to accomplish much of anything…
  • negative things about nccu law: vary depending on who you ask. I’m a huge NCCU Law fan, and my only real complaint is that the wi-fi can be spotty in certain areas of the building (like the Great Hall and the Fishbowl). Hopefully they improved that over the summer.
  • 2010 11 tuition north carolina: is unfortunately still going up by almost $1K at several universities, since state legislators decided to balance the budget on the backs of students :mad:
  • nccu law fall 2010 class calendar: can be found on the Law School Registrar’s TWEN page, or downloaded from the NCCU Law “Academics” page.
  • nccu school of law’s grading curve: follows a strict-C median, which I happen to enthusiastically support ;)
  • mary wright 1l advocacy competition: takes place every Spring semester for 1L students. You can watch the video of my 3rd place performance here.
  • daryl wade unc: is probably not the same guy as Daryl Wade, the former Student Body President at UNC School of the Arts who served as Vice Chairman of the UNCASG Council of Student Body Presidents last year. I’m sure the other Daryl Wade is still cool though… even if he goes to UNCCH :sick:
  • are 1l’s included in the 30 day delay for financial aid?: For the vast majority of 1Ls, no.1 This was actually one of the questions we had at my 1L Orientation last year, so you’re not alone in wondering :)
  • what percentage of nccu law school are white law students?: roughly 35-40% each class year. Another 45-50% are black, and the remaining 10-20% are spread across other races. We’re routinely ranked among the most diverse student bodies in the country.
  • nccu minority scholarships for white law students: “No, officer…”
  • nccu law fall 2010 book list: can be found above the academic calendar on the NCCU Law “Academics” page.
  • acpi:system state: could signal a dead motherboard :(  Take it to get looked at ASAP.
  • which computer apple or pc for law students: Apple. Hands down. Trust me. ;)

Definitely a different mix of search results getting here this month… :)

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And finally, here are the Top 5 most-viewed posts for the month of July 2010, quite a bit different from past Top 5s due to the new indexing changes:

  1. On avoiding contract enforcement: Mmm Ks nom nom nom (02/16/10)
  2. On inexpensive résumé websites: Things TDot Likes: Persona Non Obscura (12/08/09)
  3. On post-1L class ranks: Learning what I already knew (07/12/10)
  4. On having a shadow: Spreading the (Law School) Gospel (02/17/10)
  5. On saving money: TDot’s Tips: Tips for the pre-L’s on $$$ (05/29/10)

*THANK YOU* as always to each of you for your continued support of us here at law:/dev/null! :D

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Past Site Stats entries:

  1. My understanding is that some international students who have never attended a U.S. school previously get included, but I don’t know enough people (translation: none) who fall into that category to know if that’s accurate :beatup:   []

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Week 0 Retrospective Part III (or, “You can breathe now.”)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 18, 2009 in The 1L Life

First let me say these OFF! PowerPad lanterns are a big bundle of fail.  I bought one for the deck where I usually type these blog posts and I swear the mosquitos must be hungrier than a hobo with the munchies because I’ve been getting eaten alive.  Moved it so it’s now right next to me, which probably can’t be good since I’m basically breathing in the fumes… but I figure it can’t be worse than dying of West Nile Virus right? :)

Second note:  these server logs are just plain fun to look at.  I’m still 75% of the site’s traffic, but it looks like I’ve got about a dozen people who aren’t me willing to visit the site on occasion.  And seeing who gets here via a Google search is interesting, with 1 visit apiece from people querying “ncsu” (my alma mater), “tgd 1l blog” (TGD being my nom de guerre), “ave maria law” (noted in this entry), “duquesne university school of law” (ditto), and some poor soul who found me while searching for “mountain dew” (I pity them for ending up here but salute them for our shared caffeinated beverage of choice! :D ).  There are also quite a few folks getting referred from the Facebook Inbox page, meaning the URL is getting passed around in private messages… which kinda worries me since I know who at least a few of the folks sending it are :P

Speaking of Facebook, some of you have been harassing me for current details now that both Day 1 and Day 2 of “real class” are over, so this post will finish the look back on orientation so there can be something fresh here for tomorrow.  I’d skip the rest of orientation entirely, but a certain someone has demanded I explain the rocking chair comment so she can stop trying to figure it out.

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After very firmly planting my size 12 white Adidas with Wolfpack red highlights in my mouth and then pretending like I never said a word, I think the Big Guy Upstairs took some pity on me because the rest of orientation wasn’t that bad at all.  There was a lengthy discussion on financial aid that included questions from a few folks that were the same as ones I had (“Do we count as first-year students as 1Ls with respect to the Dept of Education’s 30-day delay on loan disbursements?”), some questions that lacked a bit of common sense (“On this table there are disbursement dates each week, does that mean you pro-rate our refund and give us a portion of it each week throughout the semester?”), and some that were just plain funny (“You have our money on the 7th but refunds aren’t until the 28th.  Do you think we go home to our mamas or something?”).

And although my memory’s a little bit hazy, I think I knew the guy who asked that last question.  The lady from financial aid looked like she was about to jump over the podium and smack the taste out of his mouth.  I don’t live by many personal rules, but one of them is this:  there are 3 types of people in this world you simply do not try to piss off — people who clean up after you, people who cook your food, and people who control your money.  Had it been someone from the Bursar’s Office standing in front of him, I’d wonder if he’d get his refund on the 28th…

Dr. Psych spoke with us briefly about learning styles and gave us a quiz on the topic, prompting the purchase of that aforementioned rocking chair.  Turns out I’m heavily-tilted toward “tactile” learning (“learning by doing”) with a secondary preference for “visual” learning and no interest at all in “aural” learning.  In talking with Dr. Psych afterwards I found out that’s a likely reason for why I’m good at remembering faces but forgetting names, like being outside on rainy days, and tend to fidget when sitting still (my right leg bounces so bad it shakes the desk and makes it damn near impossible to type on the Mac mini). She suggested a possible solution to my lack-of-furniture-in-the-domicile problem would be to get a cheap rocking chair and put it out on the deck, giving me a chance to study in an environment that lets me enjoy the light movement of the trees out back while also employing that “nervous energy” in a non-distracting pursuit since the laptop screen would end up moving in tandem with the chair.

So far I think she was right.  This has probably been the highlight of my day, carnivorous mosquitoes notwithstanding :)

We also had a presentation by the Police Chief, who happened to be wearing the same NC State polo shirt I have.  One of his memorable comments:  “The odds of you getting a ticket during your 3 years at NCCU are 100%.”  To which I thought “I bought my permit way before school started, I’m good.”  (see the start of yesterday’s entry for the twist).

And then there was the smug joy of watching the IT staff scurry around the room for about 20 minutes trying to coax all the new Lenovo / MS Vista-based laptops the students get to borrow to recognize the wifi network… while my MacBook Pro had been connecting fine since before orientation ever started (yes, I’m one of those sanctimonious Apple-loving bastards you’ve heard about and quite proud of it ;)).

The second day was fun and had me almost convinced law school wouldn’t be that bad at all.  We had an introduction to civil procedure that basically outlined stuff I had picked up during my years as a paralegal and assistant clerk of court, an intro to briefing cases that I probably should have written down in my notes but didn’t when Professor Contracts said he’d post the slides online, and had our pictures taken for what I’m guessing will be a book of the incoming class.  I got my Student ID with a picture that looks like I just got caught doing something illegal.  There was the reception that prompted this exchange on starting law:/dev/null, and a night workshop on ethics and professionalism that prompted my other major realization of the day…

…I am impressively awkward.

If you did a union on a pair of tuples with [large venues, small venues] and [structured format, unstructured format], my natural home is in the [small venues, *] area.  With only comparatively few people to face, folks naturally interact at some point and I have the opportunity to utilize my limited but occasionally witty sense of humor to make friends and win arguments.  I can also handle the [large venues, structured format] as a secondary preference (e.g. speaking in front of a large group of people), a learned skill from spending the past couple years as a student politician at NC State.

But put me in a room with a couple hundred people and no real expectations on what to do or who to talk to, and I tend to gravitate to the edge and talk to people… on my BlackBerry.

The upshot is that I’ve got a few folks now who I can shadow and are far more people-oriented than I am (DMoff) or far better known (Delta the 2L — I’ll talk about this angel of mercy at greater length in a later entry).  So slowly but surely things are coming together :)

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That’s all I’ve got on the orientation rundown — I ended up skipping the last 2 days due to obligations I had to a non-profit board I work with on higher education issues.  That’s a good thing though: imagine how many more entries I’d have to post if I had more… ;)

Off to brief cases for the rest of the night — Wednesday is my hell day in terms of scheduling, with 4 classes I’m thoroughly unprepared for back-to-back-to-back-to-back.  Good night everybody! :D

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Why a T4 law school was my 1st choice (Part I)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 13, 2009 in Background

One thing I’ve learned when starting a new project is to keep it secret until you’ve got a fairly decent idea of how you want the project to turn out. Ask someone for their thoughts on a vaporous concept alone and you’re likely to get a critical response — and sometimes you don’t even have to ask.

That was the case today, my 2nd day of orientation at the North Carolina Central University School of Law.  During a mid-day break while talking with a prospective friend (I’m shy by nature so on those few occasions the opportunity for conversation is thrust upon me I hang on for dear life) I was asked about my undergraduate background, which in turn led to a discussion about studying Computer Science, which in turn led to a discussion about social networks / blogs / Twitter / etc… which in turn led to me mentioning law:/dev/null.

At that point a kid who I can only conclude has a raging inferiority complex jumped in with “You’re going to a Tier 4 law school, what on earth can you know about being a 1L to justify writing a blog?” (emphasis his).

So many things with that statement that merit ranting, so little time.  So I figured I’d hit the main one.

Most people by nature are braggarts, and lawyers more so than most.  An outgrowth of that reality is the constant pigeonholing of people based on the law school they attend.  US News & World Report kindly contributes to this foolishness by ranking all 184 law schools in the country and helpfully chunking them into roughly equal-sized Tiers.  Your top schools like Harvard, Stanford, Yale and so on go into Tier 1, while your non-top schools like Appalachian, Duquesne, Ave Maria and their counterparts go into Tier 4.

The statistics about each school generally determine their tiers.  Higher tiers tend to have “more selective” admissions, higher bar passage rates, and better job placement percentages; lower tiers have “more permissive” admissions and lower percentages on both bar passage and job placement.  Although rankings might be useful to the braggart class, they can create self-fulfilling prophecies that don’t accurately reflect the quality of what students are actually taught — for example, higher ranked schools get more attention in books like US News Top 100 Law Schools, therefore they get more applications for a fixed number of spots, therefore they become even more “more selective” when most of those folks get rejected, therefore their rankings are reinforced or improved the next time around, and so on ad inifinitum.

What on earth can a student at a Tier 4 law school know to justify producing a blog?  The same stuff as everyone else — almost all 1Ls get taught the exact same material, primarily because groups like the American Bar Association have certain basic standards that have to be met for a law school to get accredited.

But that fact begs the question:  if everyone is learning substantially the same material, why would anyone bother attending a Tier 4 school in the first place when it would seem (at least statistically) that a top school would give someone better odds at passing the bar and landing a job?

I’d tell you, but it’s just past midnight (as in 2+ hours past my bedtime).  Keep an eye out for my answer tomorrow :)

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