Moving Day in Boston

Today is (hopefully) the fifth and final day of moving to my new apartment in Cambridge – not more than two miles from my old place in the Fenway. Boston has a something of a holiday around September 1 known as “moving day” because there are so many students and so many September 1 leases. I’ve been an observer of the mass moving phenomenon for the last three years – the longest I’ve ever stayed in one dwelling – but I have now experienced the joy of the Boston intra-city move first-hand.
I’ve noticed that my 25-30 year old friends tend to announce a common manifesto during a hot summer’s move: “This is my last move, next time I’m hiring professional movers.” This result of this policy is akin to the classic line of regret: “I’m never drinking that much again!” For a few, the policy is actually implemented. For most, future mistakes only illustrate one’s foolishness.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I still have a few things at the old apartment…

Moving Servers (again)

Moving servers is a big pain, and Law School Discussion apparently plundered the resources available on my new Cedant server within a couple weeks and has been asked politely to move out within a week. It’s been a mad scramble to find a new host that won’t crash or kick me off and after just two days I’m happy to say that things seem to be working on my new dedicated server from servermatrix.

The Amazing Growth of Craigslist

I first heard about Craigslist when I moved to San Francisco in 2000. I tried to use it to find an apartment but it was a time when the demand far exceeded the supply. One household invited twenty potential roommates, of seventy applicants, to meet and be considered for an 8 foot by 10 foot room in Pacific Heights.
I moved to Boston in 2001 and again tried using Craigslist to find a place. The Boston version of Craigslist was tiny in comparison to the original San Francisco version. There were only about 300 total apartments listed at that time ( cache).
There have been at least 1500 apartments listed on the Boston Craigslist today, and it’s only 4:30.
Craigslist is one of many successful network technology sites (where the network relies on, and is made better by, users). In the words of 90’s Alterna-Rock band Soul Asylum, “nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd.” This is surely the reason eBay (the network success story) has had their eye on Craig and his list, acquiring a 25% share last week.
The strange by-product of network success is that the closer a service gets to a monopoly, the better it performs (and thus the better it serves the users). These ideas converge on 100% dominance for optimal effectiveness. (Notice that there’s only one internet.) Both eBay and Craigslist have enormous power in their markets, and I can’t say that it has been anything but a good thing. I just bought a $25 phone battery for $3 on eBay, and I several Craigslist visitors have come by apartment this week to purchase my old furniture. Amazing.


My complaint-happy neighbor is finally moving out after almost three long years of tiptoeing to avoid notes like this, but I too will soon be leaving for greener pastures (not going far, but the grass is greener and the subways are faster on the other side of the Charles River).
The internet rarely behaves like the physical world, but I recently moved my very active discussion board site to a new physical location in San Diego. I only recently discovered that the site used to be in Texas, and before that in Washington.
In internet terms, I’m probably a bad neighbor. The site isn’t quite big enough for a dedicated host, which means I’m sharing the host with some other sites and probably using way more than my fair share of the common areas.
I thought it might be interesting to see what other types of sites were my new neighbors in terms of IP addresses. I don’t know whether a similar IP address means a particular site is on the same server. Does anyone know? In any case, it seems Law School Discussion has some strange new neighbors: Oshkosh Cheese Sales & Storage (crashes mozilla) (under construction since 1999) Bird-Zerk: The Recycling Bird Feeder Law School Discussion Robertsville Volunteer Fire Company (doesn’t work) Integrated Imagination (imagine if they integrated flash instead of sending people to a 2 minute download) Robbie Burns Memorial Supper & Poetry Slam (finally something interesting)

Comment Spam Works

I’m getting several comment spam messages per day on this site despite my use of mt-blacklist. (“Comment spam” is the posting of irrelevant comments with links to increase one’s Google rank.) I’ve never actually checked out any of these online-poker-viagra-mortgage-pills, but today I did a Google search for the latest spam attack (“online-poker”) and was dismayed to see that my spammer has made it into the top ten for one of the most competitive search terms.
There are a couple proposed solutions to this problem which employ technical methods of stopping comment spam. How about a social method: competition. Instead of trying to delete comment spam (I’m too slow to react, and Google to fast to find the links) or prevent it (too burdensome), what if people changed the links to point to competing sites?
For example, removing my comment spam links to “online-poker” won’t hurt the spammers ranking as much as linking “online-poker” to Gambler’s Anonymous. Now the Gambler’s Anonymous site gets a boost, and my spammer gets pushed down to the second page of the Google results. Under the current methods, spammers have nothing to lose. We’re trying to prevent when we should be trying to deter.

Yet Another Law School Discussion Update

It’s been two weeks since the first day of the bar exam, and I think I’m fully recovered. Now I’m facing the strange situation of having nothing to do (nothing to study at least), and thus I turn my attention to the web (of course).
I’ve been addicted to improving Law School Discussion over the last few days, but you’d hardly know it. I spent an entire day moving the site to a new server which should better deal with the 40+ GB of daily traffic. I learned that SQL databases are both easy and hard to move – easy because they’re smartly designed and hard because they can get to be too big for my measly technological resources.
I also upgraded the message board software to the brand new SMF 1.0 forum, the first non-beta release of SMF, and I fixed some style issues so the site looks nice in Firefox, which is fast becoming my browser of choice. (“The only true browser,” says Nick Aster, who showed me this awesome toolbar which lets one edit style sheets in real time.) I’m still working on some changes to the forum interface to make things a little easier to use and a little more compact.
Of this stuff, you care not, but it’s been my life for a few days and I felt like sharing.

Bar Exam Report

The bar exam is over. It was torture. The studying is one thing, but the exam-day stress and six hours of actual exam taking each day really takes a toll. After three days I was rendered mentally and physically useless, and am only now (three days later) coming to my senses.
There were many unpleasant things about the exam, but I think the hundreds of other Massachusetts applicants who shared my misery last week would agree that the worst aspect of the exam was having to sit in these $12 chairs. My back is still a little bit stiff.