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“We are currently experiencing technical difficulties”…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Aug 11, 2011 in Technology

Sorry folks, no post tonight. Back after I got home from visiting Nan and Pops for Independence Day I discovered that my modem, NAS and trusty ages-old WRT54G router had all been fried from some sort of electrical event (my guess is the surge protector failed).

After that I got everything replaced — including purchasing a shiny new Linksys E2500 router — and the @#$%ing thing keeps dropping connections like a gunner during 1L Orientation :mad:

So, reminiscent of what I thought was a bygone era, you’re currently getting this status update with the help of a tethered mobile phone…

Hope to have more substantive content tomorrow. Until then, have a great night!

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6

Queries queries everywhere

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 11, 2011 in Site Stats

Good evening folks!

I haven’t compiled one of these Site Stats entries since January, owing largely to the fact law:/dev/null has been slowly atrophying during my chronic absences and I didn’t feel the urge to memorialize it in a blog post ;)

The number of visitors atrophied a bit over the Spring

But despite the chronic disappearances we still had two interesting developments in the statistics department, so I figured I’d go ahead and cobble an entry together.

First, we somehow inexplicably had a +35% spike in folks subscribing to the RSS feed in the past month. That’s the largest month-over-month increase — both in terms of % and # of raw subscribers — since we started publishing via RSS back in November ’09 :surprised:

I have no clue where y’all came from or what prompted you to start reading law:/dev/null via RSS, but welcome! :D

The other surprise was that my disappearances didn’t seem to impact the number of people reaching us via search engine. There were over 1,800+ unique queries made by folks visiting this site since that December entry (9,100+ searches total, with ~400K impressions), setting a record for us in January and setting the #2 and #3 marks in May and April.

We’re currently averaging 350 unique searches a month (compared to 80 this same time a year ago), a perk of producing original content even if it is a bit on the infrequent side :)

***

Here’s a random selection of 20 out of the 360+ unique search terms that brought folks here in May 2011:

  • which t4 law school is the best to attend: NCCU Law. Duh. :P
  • nccu law is hard: That’s generally the idea. If law school was easy, everyone would be doing it ;)
  • suicidal thoughts after law school exam: ok it’s hard, but it’s not that hard. Seriously, your grades don’t matter and there’s -0- point in stressing about what you can’t change.
  • law school, got a c in a class where the median is a b+: Can you change it? No. So stop worrying about it and just do better next time. :*
  • 1l student failed out+someone help me: Talk to your professors and to your mentors. Between the two of them, you’ll know what options you have open to you.
  • do 3ls ever fail: Yep.
  • when will nccu law school grades for 2010-2011 be posted?: They should all be finally online for everyone as of this past week. Though apparently some of my almost-3L colleagues are still waiting to learn whether or not they’ve passed ConLaw :beatup:
  • nccu law unfair grading: 1Ls (and some 2Ls/3Ls) complain about this every year when grades don’t turn out how they want. It’s a myth. Go get your exams from your professors and you’ll see sometimes you really do get things wrong ;)
  • if my final grade is b+ and my midterm was b+ what was my final: It depends on the curve. For example, in CivPro II during my 1L Spring semester there was a +19-point curve on the final exam to get the grade distribution we had.
  • law school c- curve: Doesn’t exist, at least if this well-cited Wikipedia entry on law school curves is to be believed. NCCU Law is among the lowest at 2.0.
  • why is nccu’s law school curve so low?: I’m actually covering this question (and a related one on why we kick people out) in a Mailbag entry I’m hoping to have posted on Monday or Tuesday this coming week — keep an eye out for it :)
  • definition for “madame prosecutor”: This is a loaded query so I’ll plead the Fifth on this one :beatup:
  • i missed my deposit deadline with campbell law: Give them a call and see if you can still pay it. And if not, go somewhere else :angel:
  • unranked law schools worth it: I think so, both here and here.
  • preston mitchum, nccu law: El Presidente, he is my predecessor as SBA President, kicked Harvard Law’s butt in the Luke Charles Moore Invitational, served as President of his 1L and 2L classes, and is an all-around cool guy.
  • has anyone gotten into duke law with a 2.7 gpa and a high score on the lsat: Depends on how high your “high score” is ;)
  • attrition at nccu law: Was #2 highest in the country for a public law school the last time NLJ put a chart together (scroll down), and around #7 highest among public and private law schools combined.
  • unc asg constitution: It’s been shuffled from location to location since I left the organization in April ’10, but you should (hopefully) still be able to find a copy at this URL on iwantmydollarback.org. I have no clue if it’s been amended since then though.
  • t. douchette, nccu law grades: There’s no “h” in my last name :P  But you can find my grades in the transcript at the bottom of this entry.
  • does the the law a pickle is not a pickle unless it bounces to be considered a pickle stand today: Wait… what?? :crack:

Not as exotic as some of the entries from months past, but still fun to dig through :spin:

***

We also have a whole new set for the Top 5 most-viewed posts of the month, including one that vaulted to #2 in just a couple days:

  1. On me nearly missing my CrimPro final: Dear Future 2Ls… (05/04/11)
  2. On my $.02 about 1L grades: Your 1L Grades Don’t Matter (05/29/11)
  3. On closing arguments at TYLA’s Southeast Regionals: Wrong man. Wrong place. Wrong time. (05/05/11)
  4. On slogging through the end of 2L Spring: 2L Year: 1 more exam to go… (05/03/11)
  5. On my 1L Spring grades and NCCU Law’s attrition stats: Spring ’10 Final Grades (or, “A 2L. For srs.”) (06/08/10)

*THANK YOU* to all of you for continuing to check out law:/dev/null despite my chronic disappearances — I truly appreciate you! :heart:

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From the Site Stats archives:

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1

Pardon our dust

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jun 9, 2011 in Technology

Earlier today I started making some slightly exotic tweaks and additions to the server configuration for law:/dev/null. The changes should both (hopefully) lead to a speed-up in loading time for you and also refine how we block the thousands of spambots out there trying to advertise the latest in fake meds, midget porn, and knockoff handbags.

I’ve been testing the new config file and it looks like everything is working normally, but if my latest foray into regex filtering has somehow gone awry and you can’t see the blog anymore, please shoot me an email or send a Tweet to @greg_doucette so I can figure out what’s going on :)

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5

I officially apologize…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 14, 2011 in Randomness

…to everyone with whom I’ve ever shared a meeting, meal, or car ride where I incessantly looked down at my BlackBerry and *tappity tap tap*‘d away at my phone rather than enjoying the presence of your company :beatup:

I was recently reminded of how profoundly discourteous the practice is and how annoying I must have been — and while I’ve surely racked up enough bad karma that I’ll likely be getting repaid for years,1 I want you to know I truly am sorry and hope you’ll forgive me :heart:

Law school-related content to resume tomorrow :D Have a great night y’all!

  1. Though, in fairness to me, since switching to an iPhone I’ve finally gotten into the habit of turning the ringer off whenever I’m with other people :) []

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Rawr (or, “F*ck the Cloud, Day 3”)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Mar 1, 2011 in Technology

Don’t have much to write tonight y’all — operating off 2 hours of sleep and just got home from NCCU Law about a half hour ago, so I’m completely beat and ready for bed :beatup:

I’m also still locked out of my Gmail account, just like I’ve been for the past two days now :(

Fingers crossed that I’ll wake up tomorrow and have all my stuff miraculously restored so I can promptly back everything up and contemplate de-Google-fying my lifestyle…

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2

G[F]ail (or “F*ck the Cloud, Day 2”)

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 28, 2011 in Technology

Another day on the internet, another day with no access to anything Google-affiliated :mad:

Now at least it says Google is trying to fix things...

After sporadically checking Gmail throughout Trial Practice and Business Associations this morning, I finally just gave up. Still no email. Still no docs.  Nothing. Nil. Nada.

At least Google was kind enough to put a new redirect in place when I tried to access my account. Now it tells me explicitly why I can’t access my account, instead of sending me to a page saying I violated their Terms of Service.

After winging AAJ trial team practice tonight since I didn’t have any of my docs, I made my way home from the law school around 11ish when I discovered I now at least (it appears) have access to my non-Gmail services.

I also noticed Google had posted an update on their blog making it out like there was never really an issue.  Here’s the copy/paste, but you can read the original at this URL:

Gmail back soon for everyone
Monday, February 28, 2011 | 6:30 PM
Posted by Ben Treynor, VP Engineering and Site Reliability Czar (24×7)

Imagine the sinking feeling of logging in to your Gmail account and finding it empty. That’s what happened to 0.02% of Gmail users yesterday, and we’re very sorry. The good news is that email was never lost and we’ve restored access for many of those affected. Though it may take longer than we originally expected, we’re making good progress and things should be back to normal for everyone soon.

I know what some of you are thinking: how could this happen if we have multiple copies of your data, in multiple data centers? Well, in some rare instances software bugs can affect several copies of the data. That’s what happened here. Some copies of mail were deleted, and we’ve been hard at work over the last 30 hours getting it back for the people affected by this issue.

To protect your information from these unusual bugs, we also back it up to tape. Since the tapes are offline, they’re protected from such software bugs. But restoring data from them also takes longer than transferring your requests to another data center, which is why it’s taken us hours to get the email back instead of milliseconds.

So what caused this problem? We released a storage software update that introduced the unexpected bug, which caused 0.02% of Gmail users to temporarily lose access to their email. When we discovered the problem, we immediately stopped the deployment of the new software and reverted to the old version.

As always, we’ll post a detailed incident report outlining what happened to the Apps Status Dashboard, as well as the corrective actions we’re taking to help prevent it from occurring again. If you were affected by this issue, it’s important to note that email sent to you between 6:00 PM PST on February 27 and 2:00 PM PST on February 28 was likely not delivered to your mailbox, and the senders would have received a notification that their messages weren’t delivered.

Thanks for bearing with us as we fix this, and sorry again for the scare.

A “scare”? Really??

I realize Google has a vested interest in downplaying this situation — after all, they’re trying to convince major corporations to entrust their networks to The Cloud — but I’m almost offended that they’re acting like (i) losing access to my email for 2 days now (potentially permanently), complete with (ii) redirects to a page saying I violated the Terms of Service, alongside (iii) cryptic and thoroughly uninformative status updates on the Google Apps Status Dashboard, and (iv) no substantive response from the company until after the media catches on to what’s going on, is all merely a “scare.” :roll:

Then there’s the rest of the content in this non-apology apology. They’re backing up my email from tape archives but it’s somehow still all there? I call bullsh*t: the sheer volume of tape cartridges they’d need to use to back up all their users is too huge to believe they do these backups daily. A more likely explanation is that they’ve got a monthly or quarterly tape archive that they’re going to use to restore my account (assuming they actually restore it), which would mean I’ll have permanently lost anything recent.

We’ll see what happens over these next 48 hours that they’re supposedly working. But for now I’m drifting toward becoming one of those anti-GOOG partisans…

[Postscript: And to those of you thinking “But TDot, Gmail is free! You shouldn’t complain!”: I’ll stop complaining about losing my access when Google decides to give me the advertising $$$ they made from ads targeted based on heuristic analysis of my email messages ;) All the “free” users are paying for Gmail service, exchanging the privacy of our email correspondence for cloud storage and reliable access.]

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2

F*ck the Cloud

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Feb 27, 2011 in Technology

[Update @ 10:00am on 02/28/11: Still locked out of everything. Now on Day #2 of no Gmail… no Gchat… no Google Docs… no Analytics… no Feedburner… no Calendar… :( ]

Take a look at this photo. It’s a screenshot from the Gmail account that I’ve been using for about 5 years now.

Buzz is there, but my emails aren't. And no ninjas.

Notice anything unusual?

That’s what I saw when I logged in earlier today. First thing I noticed — no ninjas. I’m not a fan of the bland white default, so I switched things over to the Gmail ninja background.

Next thing I noticed: the privacy-invading Google Buzz is turned back on, even though I cut it off the day it came out.

It was at about that point I realized the biggest issue — 100% of my emails before this morning were completely and totally gone. So were my chat logs. So were my settings. :surprised:

After probing around online in a panic, I discovered this thread in the Gmail forums and a cryptic entry in their Apps Status dashboard that they were “investigating”. Along with a reassurance that it only affected 0.08% of Gmail users… which doesn’t reassure me at all since I’m one of the people affected :mad:

Access Denied. To everything...

Then, just to add insult to injury, as of about 20 minutes ago my entire Google Account has been disabled. Meaning I can’t just get to my Gmail — I also can’t get to Google Docs (including my homework), Google Scholar, Gchat, Analytics, Feedburner, Webmaster Tools, and all the other G-stuff I’ve gotten into the habit of using.1

I’ve disliked “cloud computing” ever since it was created. When N.C. State announced plans to migrate from its own mail servers to Gmail, I was skeptical. Likewise during my second term as NCSU’s Senate President, where the (otherwise phenomenal) Student Body President I worked with still reigns as the biggest Google Docs fanboy I’ve ever met.

Maybe it’s my libertarian-leaning political beliefs. Maybe I’m a neo-Luddite. But personally I prefer having all the data coming to my home network where I’m responsible for my own backups and not subject to the failures of someone else.2

Then I got lazy trusting in Google’s reliability and set my cron jobs to download/backup my Gmail on the last day of each month. And of course this all failed today, hours before that cron job was supposed to run :beatup:

The only saving grace is that I didn’t lose all my stuff — I’ve still got a not-quite-a-month-old archive stored locally at home. But my distrust for the cloud has been affirmed, and I will now redouble my neo-Luddite ways in trying to avoid cloud computing as much as possible.

Grrr.

  1. Just out of sheer coincidence, helping Google make $$$ through its advertisements. []
  2. Few things can provide peace of mind quite like a 1TB RAID with hot-swappable drives that can then go to the bank safe deposit box ;) []

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Freedom!

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 11, 2011 in Technology

I’ve been waiting for this day for years — literally :beatup:

While AT&T folks didn’t like being tethered to their carrier, I didn’t like having to choose between keeping a phone run on the (increasingly rancid)  BlackBerryOS or getting one of those new Android-based phones that were busy sending text messages to the wrong people.1

PLUS it’s perfectly timed to come out about a week after Spring refund checks :D

Via ars technica:

Verizon iPhone: no longer a myth, available in February
By Jacqui Cheng | Last updated January 11, 2011 10:32 AM
Verizon iPhone: no longer a myth, available in February
Can you hear me now? Good, because the Verizon iPhone has finally made its public debut. Verizon made the announcement during its highly anticipated post-CES press conference in New York on Tuesday, noting that the device will be available for preorder starting February 3, and that the public will be able to pick it up from Verizon and Apple retail stores on February 10.

The phone being offered by Verizon is the same as the iPhone 4 that made its debut on AT&T in the summer of 2010, but with a slightly modified antenna and apparently no SIM slot. The device comes in 16GB and 32GB models for $199 and $299 with two-year contract, and can act as a 3G WiFi hotspot for up to five devices at a time (that’s definitely something we can’t do with our AT&T iPhones yet).

“If the press writes about something long enough and hard enough, eventually it comes true,” Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam said during the press conference. Apple COO Tim Cook was also present during the announcement, pointing out that the two companies have been working together since 2008.

There’s one major downside to the Verizon iPhone, though: it’s CDMA-only. “Why not go straight to the LTE mode?” Cook asked. “LTE would force design compromises we’re not willing to make, and customers want the phone now.”

Not only that, but Verizon refused to comment on when—if ever—the phone would become LTE compatible, and the company confirmed that users will not be able to use data and voice services at the same time—”consistent with other CDMA devices now.” The company declined to talk about potential data caps or even plan pricing.

“It’s all about getting it on Verizon,” Cook added. “The customers who want it there will be willing to make these tradeoffs.”

So far, it looks like the device is only available in black from Verizon, dashing rumors that the elusive white iPhone would be a Verizon-only exclusive. Verizon has posted a FAQ to its site for prospective iPhone customers, though there’s little more there than what we heard during the event.

::happydance::

:spin: :spin: :spin:

  1. And to the Verizon Wireless haters pointing out “You can’t use data while talking on the phone at the same time so AT&T is better!” — you’ll notice AT&T can barely make phone calls in the first place, so it’s not that much of a sacrifice :* []

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A half-million pageviews later

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 3, 2011 in Site Stats

I bet y’all never thought you’d see one of these entries again :D

2nd month of 6,000+ visitors!

law:/dev/null crossed the 500,000 pageview milestone back in mid-November and I’ve been meaning to do another one of these entries ever since. Then studying and taking finals and working and vacation snuck in and I never got around to it :beatup:

But December 2010 was our 2nd-best-trafficked month since we started — despite two 5-day absences — so I figure that calls for celebration! :spin:

Quite a bit has changed on the server backend of the blog since July, including an increasingly aggressive (and thus far successful) effort at stomping out spammers.

Take a look at one of the new graphs I created below, which shows the number of spammy visitor sources I’ve added to the .htaccess file for banning. I recently started throwing in some keyword bans just to reduce the number of directives the server is processing; for example, instead of banning every spammer coming here from a buythisrandomdrugplz.com address, I’ve just decided to ban all the referers with “buy” in the URL.1

The net result? While July featured an almost comically-absurd abundance of spam comments and we had a couple recurrence spikes in August and October, we’ve “purified” the traffic enough that December had the lowest number of spam visitors in the entire history of law:/dev/null :D

The downside is that the bans kill our pageviews-per-day and Alexa traffic stats, the latter of which are used for determining things like avvo.com’s Top Legal Blogs.

Over 1,000+ spammy domains banned!

Our ranking has steadily dropped like a stone over the past two months while sites like Bitter Lawyer — which has become spam-blasted and hasn’t had fresh content in 3+ months — actually find their stats going up over that same timespan :crack:

But, just between you, me, and the interwebz: I’d prefer having 6,000+ flesh-and-blood visitors a month actually reading this stuff instead of tens-of-thousands of spammers just crawling for comment forms ;)

We’ll see if we can keep our current anti-spam success going in the new year. Honestly I’m just pretty amazed / impressed / blown away that we had as many visitors as we did in December, especially given my infrequent posting. So thanks to all of you :*

***

On the search query front, we’ve had over 1,000 new queries since the last time I did one of these lists :surprised:

Here are 20 of the 240+ unique search terms that brought folks here in December 2010:

  • time magazine decade from hell picture: the picture was more thoughtful than the story itself ;)
  • 1l grade wait: will be at least a month for most law schools, sorry
  • human shooting target: didn’t survive my concealed carry qualification shooting :D
  • nccu law school grades: aren’t due until January 12th :beatup:
  • badass eagle: was briefly considered for my new gravatar — but I decided to stick with my current colonial eagle instead
  • is law school worth it: yes
  • is law school really worth it: yes
  • t4 law school worth it?: probably
  • essay explaining why i would attend north carolina central university: here’s a tip: if you can find it on Google, the admissions staff can find it on Google too ;)
  • if you turn in your tag for lapse in north carolina can you turn around and get a 30 day temporary tag: I could, so you probably can too
  • gpa ncsu computer science: hopefully yours is higher than mine :beatup:
  • final exam advice: check out this entry and this entry — and GOOD LUCK!
  • 1l gpa for top 10%: depends on where you’re going to school, but for the NCCU Law Class of 2012 it was around 3.28
  • hey tar heels… kick rocks: please :angel:
  • people v andrew madison mock trial keys to win: villify the Queen of Hearts :D
  • first kid movie: was my first/only foray in a Hollywood movie (check #19 on that list and see my FB profile for the pics :) )
  • how can a 24 year old get money for law school: apply for students loans. Lots of loans. :beatup:
  • do classmates know your 1l grades: usually no, unless they do really well
  • grading curve nccu law: follows a strict-C, which I’m apparently the only one supporting
  • can’t stand law students: then you’re probably reading the wrong blog ;)

I missed going through these monthly… :spin:

***

And finally, here are the Top 5 most-viewed posts for the month of December 2010:

  1. On tackling finals: TDot’s Tips: More Final Exam Advice (11/30/10)
  2. On Fall 2010 grade expectations: Halfway done! (12/12/10)
  3. On combating spammers: Fight WordPress comment spam with .htaccess (08/04/10)
  4. On law students around the web: Law School Roundup #247 (12/19/10)
  5. On figuring out what to do with my life: Straddling the fence (12/13/10)

*THANK YOU* again 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. On the ever-so-slim chance you happen to get here from a legit source with “buy” (or any other banned keyword) in the URL and you get one of our lovely error pages, just reload law:/dev/null manually and you should be able to see everything :) []

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“I think I got him Chief.”

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 18, 2010 in Randomness

Qualified for my concealed carry permit today :spin:

One of the things I enjoyed growing up in a military-heavy city and living in the South is that firearms have been a normal part of life. They’re not regarded as these mythical creatures with minds of their own to be avoided at all costs. They’re machines that serve a purpose — and should be respected accordingly — but just like automobiles and other tools they’re totally harmless without a human user behind them.

During the summer, the kids in my neighborhood would even gather up all the water guns we could find,1  split off into teams, and roam the neighborhood playing a game that was a cross of hide-and-seek and capture-the-flag. My first “real” water gun was even molded to look/function like a single-action Beretta (though painted bright orange so law enforcement wouldn’t confuse it for a real gun ;) ).

I don't think he's getting up :smoke:

But since moving to North Carolina I’ve eschewed firearms, since state law requires educational institutions to be Easy Target Zones and up until last year I lived on campus.2

Until, in a bit of serendipity, I discovered one of the 1Ls at NCCU Law is a former Chief of Police and firearms instructor. He mentioned he was running a concealed carry handgun training course out in Maiden so I signed up.

Though I didn’t realize at the time I’d have to leave around 4:30am to be there when it started :beatup:

After several hours of reliving through CrimLaw to get re-educated about when the use of deadly force in self-defense is justified under NC law, we headed out to the open-air shooting range. The actual qualification routine requires shooting 40 rounds from 7/5/3 yards in a certain timeframe, with at least 28 rounds hitting the target.

I was a little nervous since it was my first time firing a real handgun (in my case a .22 Ruger Mk I) instead of the fake Beretta from my youth… but it turned out pretty well.  Sufficiently so that I asked to try from 25 yards against one of their metal knockdown targets about half the width of the paper — and hit it 8-for-8 :surprised:

Where was this precision when I tried winning stuff at the State Fair? :mad:

Anyhow, now I’m back in Durham and get to go fill out a bunch of paperwork with the Durham County Sheriff’s Department before waiting a few months for my permit to come through. It was a fun day :D

I hope all of you have a great night — and check back tomorrow for a surprise :angel:

  1. This was before the abominations known as Super Soakers. You actually had to be a good shot in those days, not just have a parent willing to shell out $$$ to buy you a mobile aquarium you could strap on your back :roll: []
  2. Except for the years I was a dropout, when I couldn’t afford buying a gun anyway :beatup: []

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