Electric Disaster

I came home last week to find that the power on one floor of my apartment was not working. I was about to go home for Christmas so I called the landlord to report the problem and left town a few hours later.
When I got back, a full week later, the power had not been restored. The landlord had left a note stating that the electric company had disconnected the power to that floor because the bill had not been paid. We’ve been paying our bills for the 2.5 years that we’ve lived here, so this was news to me. It turns out that one floor of our apartment is on a different electric account than the other. When we moved in, we asked for power for “Apartment 3”. They put us on “Floor 3” and did nothing about “Floor 2”.
The fridge, TV, and lights have been running for 2.5 years with no one paying (or even knowing about) the bill. It looks like we’re going to have to pay a monstrous electric bill. It seems to me that having two electric bills for one apartment is an odd configuration, and I can’t imagine it’s the consumer’s responsibility to ask “and by the way, are there any other accounts that might go to my apartment that I should know about?” upon moving into an apartment.
Nevertheless, I suppose we should pay the bill. We did use the power, and we’ve been enjoying low electric bill for the last 2.5 years. Assuming that the power company will give us a payment plan and not charge us extra fees, our biggest loss is not the warm fish and chicken that has been spoiling in the freezer for over a week, but rather the fresh unsmelly air that will be instantaneously permeated by stench when we break the refrigerator’s seal.

Still Working on Law School Discussion

Happy New Year’s Eve. I’m still working on the Law School Discussion update. I’m happy to say that the design is done and now I’m working on the forum software. I’m upgrading to the new Simple Machines Forum which looks like really great software. If only I knew a little more about php…
Meanwhile I have just days left in Boston before I leave for my semester abroad in The Netherlands. I still have lots of packing to do.

Who Would Steal a CD?

I bought Grandaddy’s “Sumday” for $10 at the the Tower Records “Day After Christmas Sale.” I’ve said before that if CDs were $10, I’d buy plenty. It took me ages to peel off the little security sticker along the top. Then I had to pop open the jewel case tray to remove the little metal security thingy-thing. As I was scratching the sticker residue off my otherwise mint CD case, I wondered: what’s the point of all these security measures? Is CD theft really a problem anymore? Why would anyone risk getting caught shoplifting when they can steal music with far less consequences from the comfort of their own home?
File sharing may be hurting record lables, but it should (logically speaking) do away with the problem of theft of tangible CDs. The record industry has been telling us that piracy is hurting sales; it would be interesting to learn whether it has been helping theft.

Finishing and Starting

Well it’s been a long semester – concluding with a relatively long period of neglect for this site (over a week with nothing new!). I took a very full schedule of classes this semester in preparation for my upcoming semester abroad in The Netherlands. Consequently, exams were of an intensity not experienced since first year. I still had a couple posts in there regardless.
Now I finally have some time to waste. My Christmas project is to redesign Law School Discussion. Traffic and participation are up over there, but some of the colors and layout are way behind the times. My goal is to breath new life into site while learning some things. The learning – unfortunately – must come first.


A few days ago there was a lot of excitement over the latest Google-bomb (whereby if you search for “miserable failure” in Google you get a George W. Bush biography as the first result). Like many, I’m entertained by such antics, but don’t think this is really a Google-bomb done right.
The idea of a Google-bomb is that when a bunch of websites link to a certain web page with certain text as the link, the Google search results for that text favor that web page. This works because Google is very keen on reading the text of a particular link and giving it a lot of weight in deciding the relevance of the linked-to page.
Some search terms have a lot more competition than others. For example, if a whole bunch of web pages used the text “Microsoft” to link to something other than microsoft.com, it probably wouldn’t affect the Google results much because there are already so many pages linking “Microsoft” to microsoft.com. Likewise, if a term is hardly ever used, like “iPie” it’s pretty easy to get to the top of the results with just a link or two. (case in point: my Thanksgiving pie comes up #2 with only one inbound link)
I doubt that “miserable failure” is all that popular of a term. It probably only takes a few links to have any given site rise to the top of the results. A much more fun Google-bomb would be to use a competitive search term for which people might actually search. For example, if a bunch of people linked “George W. Bush” to a page about a miserable failure, it would have been a much more impressive feat.
In my opinion the best Google-bombs are those that take a company name and get a mudslinging page to show up above the actual company’s home page. It’s a lot harder to do, and it would have really interesting trademark implications (it would employ the decentralized use of a trademark to intentionally create initial interest confusion).

US vs. UK Covers

After watching yesterday’s NBC special about food and obesity, I got into a discussion of the cover a certain Fatboy Slim album. I remember being slightly offended when a one of my friends in England made the assumption that the fat kid on the cover of the album was an American. In his defense: “I think there’s an American background… an American school bus or something.” He was right about the background. There are definitely some U.S. street signs back there.
I was studying in England when that album came out, and until last night I never realized that the U.S. version has an entirely different cover. The U.K. version has a blatantly American fat kid on the cover while the U.S. version shows a bunch of records.
Curious about the seemingly low price of the CD from the U.K., I thought I’d check the price of one of the last books I read. I thought the U.S. cover of Eric Schlosser’s Reefer Madness was pretty original. I guess the British have a different idea of what a book about migrant farm workers, marijuana, and porn should look like. What self-respecting American would be sitting on the commuter train holding this?
Apparently there’s yet another cover available for the conservative brit.
Anyone know of other drasticly different covers?

Laptop Exam Report

I took my first laptop exam today. As I mentioned a few times earlier, BU seems to be a little behind the curve in allowing exams to be taken on laptops. First year students were allowed to use laptops last year, and I think today was the first day that laptop use was open to anyone that could manage to obtain possession of a laptop and floppy drive (laptops are not provided, but the school is happy to increase a student budget to allow laptop financing).
A couple points:

  • Examsoft sucks. It’s not really that it’s bad software, but it’s just a burden to have to use. I’m used to Word and I’m used to not worrying about my computer crashing. Examsoft made me pretty nervous for a few minutes today when it wouldn’t start up correctly. My use of the software single-handedly delayed three exams from starting on time. One of the exam administrators tried to get the software working while I started working on a multiple choice section of my exam. Thankfully, my computer was ready by the time I wanted to start typing.
    I later learned that part of the problem might have been that I didn’t install an update from Examsoft that I had received an email about a couple weeks ago. D-oh! I guess I’m not used to updating software that I never use either.
  • Despite the fact that I don’t like using, installing, worrying about, or paying (indirectly) for the Examsoft software, using my own laptop to take an exam was worth all the headaches. In the past I’ve either handwritten my exams or typed them on a typewriter. My handwriting is horrible and my written exams become a huge mess by the time I cross things out, add stars, and attempt to correct spelling mistakes. My typewritten exams are clearer, but I think some of the keys on my roommate’s typewriter are a little sticky. There are lots of missing “n” letters and a number of pen cross-outs.
    The laptop is miles above in these respects. I could type fast, move things around, write and outline and then fill it in with text, and keep materials close (my laptop is much smaller than the bulky typewriter. It’s footprint is about the size of a bluebook. Best of all, my professor will actually be able to read my exam.
    Finally, in addition to the many physical benefits of laptop typing, I think using my own laptop gave me an emotional benefit. I’ve spent a lot of hours hitting these keys to input notes and thoughts to this little machine. My classroom experience and much of my home studying has involved this computer, and I think there’s a psychological benefit to using taking an exam in the same format that I type my notes and revise my outlines.
  • 1Ls with Moustaches

    Check out these 1Ls with moustaches. I can’t help but wonder whether this contest was inspired, at least in part, by a certain BU 3L that has what is probably the most impressive moustache at any law school.
    Despite any points for originality, retro-style, or approval by the hipster’s handbook, a hairy lip is still not a good look.