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Things TDot Likes: The Wolf Web

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Dec 30, 2010 in Things TDot Likes

Not only did Tuesday include one of the most awesome-est football games I’ve ever seen in my life, it also marked 10 years ( :eek: ) since I first became a member of the online message board community called The Wolf Web :D

Partial Screenshot of the TWW homepage

TWW was started back in April 2000, at the tail end of what turned out to be the dot.com bubble. Even though it wasn’t officially affiliated with N.C. State University it quickly turned into the de facto social network for the Wolfpack nation.

So on that December 28, as I was sitting in the offices of the McKinney & Silver ad agency trying to find ways to kill time (I was working as their under-utilized courier back then), someone suggested I check out the site as a way for me to stay connected to NCSU while I wasn’t enrolled in school… and I signed up :)

I can’t even begin to tell you how many hours of my life got spent talking with folks on that site since then :beatup:

There’s little I can write in this entry to adequately describe what TWW was like back then. There were all sorts of people. All sorts of debates. All sorts of controversies. If anything of interest was happening on or near the N.C. State campus, odds were good you could get real-time and accurate information from TWW — something local news stations actually did on multiple occasions (I’m looking at you WRAL) well before stuff like Facebook and Twitter were even invented.

Some of News14's hacked closing reports

Students went to TWW for the news and gossip, like when a faculty member’s online nude photos of herself got discovered and she went to the press claiming they were photoshop’d instead.  But there were also plenty of times when the TWW membership created the news themselves.

For example, when the NCSU Campus Police made their blotter publicly available on the web without taking the appropriate steps to secure it — they included the username and password in the source code :crack: — folks on TWW exploited the lax security and started posting fake entries (typically including derogatory remarks toward the police).

Similar hilarity had ensued a couple months earlier in February 2004 when the Triangle was crippled by a massive snowstorm and News14 Carolina made a poorly-moderated web app for reporting (and later editing) event closings. TWW found out, and I’ve got about a dozen screenshots like the ones on the left from some of the entries that were added :mrgreen:

The also played a decisive role in 2007 when a certain non-traditional student decided to run a campaign for Student Senate President against a guy who happened to like our University’s arch-rival :angel:

I spent the next 2 years regularly recruiting student leaders from them, hitting the boards for info and suggestions, and putting the concept of “netroots” activism into practice — not only proving it could be done, but getting to thumb my nose at people who said it couldn’t ;)

Awesome photo courtesy of TWWer ambrosia1231

There were a fair share of somber moments too, as you’d probably expect from a massive community of people spanning ten years. I found out not too long ago that a friend I had met through the site — and who took what is probably the single best photo of 雅雅 and I ever — passed away in October :(

But she and her husband, perhaps not surprisingly, met through TWW too (cue the “awwwww”). For every sad moment in the past decade, there seems to be a counterbalance by at least a dozen or more happy ones :)

Even though The Wolf Web’s heyday in the mid-2000s has long past, and it’s been fighting the “this place seems like it’s on the decline” perception since at least 2004, I’ve been blessed to meet dozens of really cool and interesting people since I signed up on that dreary December day ten years ago.

TWW kept me tied to N.C. State when I seriously thought I was never coming back. It provided a forum for me to develop my debating skills. Its members got me elected to office. And it kept me occupied and out of trouble for God-knows-how-many hours of my life ;)

Not to mention giving me a topic for a blog entry :beatup:

So to the creators and members of The Wolf Web: thanks :*

Have a great night everybody!

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1

The “Decade from Hell” that wasn’t…

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Jan 4, 2010 in Randomness

Happy New Year from law:/dev/null! :D

First, an aside to give a big *THANK YOU* to all of you who take time out of your day to stop by :) Somehow, despite my sporadic posting schedule over winter break, I still have regular visitors — and it makes me smile. A lot. And I’m normally not the smiling type ;) So thank you :)

***

2010 is finally here, which to hear folks tell it is either a good thing or A Good Thing™ depending on your perspective. Since apparently 2009 was a horrible year that ended a horrible decade and whatnot.

Time Magazine Cover on the "Decade from Hell"

Time's cover for the so-called "Decade from Hell"

Don’t believe me? A few weeks ago Time Magazine even went through the trouble of writing this article about “The Decade from Hell” to explain it to you, so surely it must be true.

What’s that, you say? You missed that particular article? Me too. In my case it was intentional, since I realized a few years back — during the 00’s coincidentally — that Time had long since turned into a publication worth far less than its cover price, stuffed with stories based on laughable premises like this one.  For all the complaints about the 00’s, I suspect decades like the 1930’s / 60’s / 70’s would beat it on the “this decade sucked” scale, especially if you happened to be something other than a relatively prosperous / white / straight / Christian male ;)

***

In my case I’d have to say the past decade turned out pretty well. It had its low points just like everything else in life, but considering where I’m at now obviously it turned out for the best :)

Let’s do a quick recap (inspired by this post at oh hay, it’s kk):

2000 – Get pulled off the ballot for Student Senate President at N.C. State, forced to drop out of college and give up my job with Apple Computer, and start loading trucks at UPS to pay bills. But prior to leaving NCSU, get appointed a Student Senator by the guy who won SSP, and then elected President Pro Tempore. Spend the rest of the year mentoring future student leaders with QuietStorm. Also get my first apartment.

2001 – Get my first decently-paying job as a file clerk at a law firm, then get promoted to a litigation assistant. Was sitting at my desk working on pleadings and listening to K97.5 when the news of the September 11th attacks came across the radio. Spend the rest of the day glued to the television.

2002 – Laid off from the law firm job in February when the economy tanked. But get hired weeks later by the North Carolina State Bar, and promoted twice in ten months. Several of the candidates I helped also win the November 2002 elections.

2003 – Voluntarily take a $10K/yr pay cut and leave the State Bar to serve as the first Director of Special Projects for the Wake County Clerk of Court’s Office. Ridiculously high-stress job, but have carte blanche to fix a lot of nettlesome problems around the courthouse and enjoy the responsibility. Also become the youngest elected Vice Chairman of the Wake County Republican Party.

2004 – Grow disillusioned with the WakeGOP, particularly its hostility to homosexuals. Decide to voice my opinion in the newspaper on the opening day of the State Convention; told to resign from the courthouse job by the (elected) Clerk of Superior Court soon thereafter as a result. Spend the rest of the year helping elect Richard Burr to the U.S. Senate and Richard Stevens to the N.C. Senate. Then snag a decently-paid paralegal position with a local law firm.

2005 – Voted out of the WakeGOP at its County Convention in March. Law firm dissolves due to disagreements among the partners; officially decide I dislike BigLaw. Convince N.C. State to let me come back to school. Become one of the youngest lobbyists in North Carolina a couple months later. Make Dean’s List for the first — and only — time in my college career.

2006 – Lose my race for a Student Senate seat… to a guy who didn’t even campaign. Get appointed to a vacancy by the Student Senate President, then made Chairman of the Appropriations Committee when the original Chairman resigns; spend the year remaking the appropriations process and writing legislation like I have nothing better to do with my time. Keep lobbying, and pick up a side job teaching Intro to Java to freshman.

An anonymous campaign poster from my SSP race

2007 – With 61% of the vote and 4 days on the ballot, win campus-wide election to become the oldest Student Senate President in N.C. State history after one of the craziest elections of all time — the same race where I was removed from the ballot at the start of the decade. Campaign becomes material for at least 3 different courses, including on campaigning, advertising, and the computer ethics of using Facebook for opposition research. Pay off my remaining ~$15K debt to N.C. State; give up lobbying to focus on Student Government. Unilaterally implement first ever student fee referenda.

2008 – Decide to postpone graduation to finish my minors in political science and economics. Lead a welltelevised silent sit-in at the February UNC Board of Governors meeting opposing tuition hikes. Earn the highest job approval rating of the 4 highest Student Body Officers, and get re-elected Student Senate President with 89% of the vote. A month later, win election as President of the statewide Association of Student Governments by a 1-vote margin. Finish the calendar year with the Student Senate all over local media again, and a revitalized UNCASG setting a 4-year attendance record.

2009 – N.C. State’s Student Government gets a 66%+ favorable approval rating when measured by the Poli Sci and Stats Departments. Retire as Student Senate President; protégé wins election as my successor. Unanimously re-elected to a 2nd term as President of UNCASG. Graduate with a BS in Computer Science and minors in both Economics and Political Science. Start my 1L year as a Legal Eagle at NCCU Law.

And start law:/dev/null :D

***

It’s been quite a ride. I’ve moved about a dozen times. I’ve made thousands of dollars in salary; paid thousands more in taxes, rent, car payments, tuition. I’ve met hundreds of people, including some who (hopefully) will be friends for the rest of my life. The list goes on.

Looking back it almost doesn’t feel like it took 10 years to get here. If the next 10 turn out even remotely as well, things are going to be pretty good :D

That’s enough reminiscing from me, I’m off to bed. Good night everybody! :)

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7

TDot’s Mailbag v3.0

Posted by T. Greg Doucette on Oct 4, 2009 in Mail

I check the server logs here at law:/dev/null at least twice a day, primarily to keep a check on the source IPs and the search queries that lead folks here — most of them are innocuous enough,1) but if I notice an otherwise-arbitrary uptick in visits from the law school’s network I try to preemptively think of responses to anything a professor or classmate might inquire about.

And in going through the end-of-month log for September, I noticed I’ve totally been neglecting email :surprised: My apologies, dear readers! (all dozen of you :* )

For those of you who are new visitors to my little snippet of virtual real estate on teh intarwebs, every now and then I take the questions I’ve gotten via email / Facebook message / text / etc and throw them into a blog entry — usually when I’m either lacking 1) time or 2) content to write something better ;) I’m making an exception today because a couple of these questions are a bit old :beatup:

***

Q: Mike, another 1L blawger who’s written in previously, sent in a non-question that needs “answering”:

You don’t have your email address posted anywhere on your blog. May want to fix that if you expect folks to write in ;)

A: Touché. When law:/dev/null got started it was basically just for close friends and family who already had my contact info on Facebook — I never expected people from other cities / states / countries to become regular readers! (P.S. thank you said unexpected readers :spin: )

If any of you want to send me an email, just take my name on this blog (TDot), throw in the @ symbol, and tack on the URL of the blog sans the ‘www’. Or just Facebook me :)

***

Q: Rebecca recently found us through a Facebook post and asks:

Do you really send/receive thousands of text messages in a month??

A: Yep. It all started when I got elected Student Senate President at N.C. State back in April 2007.  I used to have a 12-button Motorola E815 — which had an über-hackable OS that I didn’t want to give up — and a “500 messages per month” data plan.  By the time school started in August, I had sent/received 854 messages… which led to a $35 overage charge on my phone bill.

Somehow the next month that had climbed to 1,959 messages, which prompted a visit to my local Verizon Wireless store and an almost-free upgrade to a BlackBerry 8830 with unlimited text messaging — a much better deal than the ~$150 overage I would have had to pay otherwise.

Then things just went crazy from there.

TDot's text messages over time

TDot's text messages over time. Each vertical hash is 1100 texts.

The following March I was reelected to a 2nd term as Student Senate President and a few weeks after that elected President of the statewide UNC Association of Student Governments, becoming the 1st person (so far as we know) to hold both the ASG Presidency and a major institutional office at the same time — and bringing a corresponding text message frequency with it.  I peaked at 10,821 messages in January, and have settled around the 7K mark for the past few months.

Back when I first switched to the BlackBerry, one of my Computer Science professors asked me to put a graph together showing my text message usage over time.  I’ve been keeping it up just for the giggles and post it here for you amusement :)

***

Q: Gwen asks about the HBCU experience:

How are you adjusting to a historically black university like N.C. Central coming from a predominantly white school like N.C. State? Has it been difficult?

A: It hasn’t taken much adjustment at all, at least for me. The black community at N.C. State was one of the three core groups who put me into office along with CALS students and teh Netr00tz, if that offers any insight to my background.

The only significant change between N.C. State University and the N.C. Central University School of Law has been the technology.

The Computer Science Department at NC State is very *nix-heavy, so technology is platform-neutral and Linux + Mac users fit right in. By contrast NCCU Law, like most law schools, is a mostly-Microsoft shop. The tech support folks aren’t well-versed at all in anything beyond Windows, so I’ve played the role of “hey you, computer guy” on more than a few occasions.

And the wifi reception is spotty in the areas most conducive to studying. It drives me bonkers… :mad:

Other than those few technology annoyances, I have no complaints :)

***

Q: Rebecca, in response to my recent commentary on TRPLS, is apparently crushed by my own political leanings:

omg please don’t tell me you’re one of the *them*. seriously? like, *seriously?*

A: Seriously :) I’ve been a conservative since high school and a registered Republican since I was eligible to vote.

My political views aren’t exactly orthodox though.

As an example, I believe in limited government, supply-side economics, firearms, a strong military and an interventionist foreign policy; my time being homeless left me with little sympathy for the poor; and I think most strident liberals are ideologically incoherent and hate America.

But I also have no problems with premarital sex, weed, illegal immigrants, or non-Christians; I’ve dated more black women than white ones; I have more close friends who are gay than are straight; and I recycle ;)

The net result is a guy who got himself elected as the youngest Vice Chairman in Wake County GOP history some years ago, got thrown out of the party entirely just 2 years later for being “too liberal”, then spent most of the years since working with politicians from both parties.

No need to worry though: the odds of someone like me getting elected to anything outside of college are pretty slim, and my political views won’t affect the quality of my legal representation if you ever need a lawyer ;)

And one final note on the impeccable timing of this question — check out today’s first entry on PostSecret :D

—===—

That’s all I’ve got for this entry folks — have a great night! :D

  1. From yesterday: “what is the plain meaning rule? do you think that people would actually fight over the plain meaning of a statute?” If your client is paying you, yes ; []

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