Judge Orders Law Firm Back to School; What about Jail?

Maybe this should be something we do across the board?

What I don’t understand is why these people aren’t in jail? A federal judge found that this firm of about 80 lawyers “intentionally misleads” (that’s legal talk for “lies”). Isn’t the judicial system and the American Bar association all about truth? How can our Legal system work at all without truth? Who should be held to a higher standard than our lawyers?

OK, fine, don’t send them to jail. Disbar them instead.

Lawyers category

Well, I’ve decided to start writing more about lawyers. I just read too much about our legal system run amok these days to ignore it all.

In case you haven’t figured it out, I believe our legal system is failing us. It incents people to sue for ungodly sums of money, and is ultimately the cause of our heath care cost problems, our governmental deficits, rising insurance costs, and increased prices at the stores. At one level or another, I think almost every economic problem our country faces could be alleviated by being smarter about who can sue and what they get when they do.

But what do I know. I’m just a software guy.

Google’s AutoLink Does Evil

You may have read about the Google Toolbar’s new AutoLink feature. You may wonder what the big deal is?

I was wondering too. At first glance, they are just linking maps. This may be a little annoying to Yahoo, because it wants you to use their maps, but not the end of the world.

But the real problem comes with books. For instance, there are authors out on the net promoting their books via their web pages. They make modest amounts of money each year doing this. But, if you install the Google Toolbar, Google replaces these links with links of their own! If the end user clicks those links, then the commission for selling the book bypasses the author and instead goes to Google! Woa! That is really unfair, unjust, and unright.

Rogers Cadenhead writes a better article than this one about why its just not right for Google to do this.

Here are some quick screenshots (see the circled red area for Google’s links)

Before Google After Google

Anyway, the really funny part of all this is that Microsoft tried this a few years ago with a product called SmartTags. Opposition was so strong to SmartTags, that after being blasted for a while, Microsoft pulled the feature. Lots of people are noticing this now. Dan Gillmor, Robert Scoble, and mikel.

To Google – if you are listening – I love your company and products, you are doing a lot of good stuff. But this feature has to be removed. This will be the impetus to really stop using your products if you do not. (Boy will I miss adwords!)

Why the world hates lawyers

Well, this site speaks for itself.

Click here to see his ego.

Click here to read that he only wants your case if you’re looking for a lawyer and plan to sue for more than $1Billion. (seriously, thats a BILLION)

I wish this were a joke. The pages on his site read, “This website may, at first blush, strike you as a bit over-the-top. But its not designed to give you pause, or scare you away. Its simply a reflection of Stephen L. Snyder, the man….”

Firefox security vulnerability

There’s a Phishing technique in play now where crooks register international domain names with special characters that *look* like letters but are really not what they seem.

Its so popular for everyone to complain about Microsoft security problems. Interestingly, this bug is present in Firefox and NOT in Internet Explorer. Firefox fans would probably say, “its just because Microsoft doesn’t support the latest standards for international domain names”. Perhaps that is true, but at the end of the day, this is a bug in Firefox, and not IE.

The problem lies with Unicode. In the early 90s, you couldn’t use two character sets at the same time. If you were working in both Japanese and Chinese, you had to pick one character set to use at a time, which made it very tricky to use applications in multiple languages. Unicode was invented to solve this problem. Unicode defines basically all characters, in all languages, and has worked very well. It also, however, unleashes this particular bug. For instance, the letter “a”, has a unicode value. However, it turns out that unicode character &#1072, also LOOKS like “a”, but is really a different character.

This allows the bad guys to create Urls like this one:


To the user, this looks like a real link to paypal. But its NOT. Its a fake. Go ahead, and test your browser. If you are using IE, you’ll see a page-not-found error. If you see a page, then your browser is vulnerable.

I hope that the domain registrars jump in to help fix this. Seems like we should be able to pretty easily spot bogus domain name registrations. There are probably a lot of combinations of forged addresses, but it should be detectable and prohibited from the root.

Or maybe you should be using mod_deflate

OK – I know I just posted a couple of days ago about the wonders of mod_gzip. I had picked mod_gzip because I had read about it at the yahoo blog, and also because it was easy to get going on my Apache 1.3 server. But, I’ve just upgraded to Apache 2.0, and after reading around, mod_deflate is really the compressor of choice there. Its a little more updated and there are some articles from folks that really think its better. From my perspective, though, it seems about the same as mod_gzip. Either one you choose, your website should be running a lot smoother!

I figure I should color this entire blog green to indicate that its now running environmentally friendly…

You really should be using mod_gzip

What is mod_gzip? Its an extension to the Apache Web Server to implement compression on the server side. With it installed, every page that leaves the web server gets compressed. For text pages, this is usually about 70%. So a 10KB page reduces to about 3KB. Thats a pretty good savings!

Its astonishing to me that most web servers don’t implement gzip across the board for all pages being served. Its been about 10 years since I worked on performace optimizations on the Netscape Enterprise Server, and even back then we recognized the value of really enabling gzip. But somehow, along the way, it just never was valued very highly. With broadband adoption rates going through the roof, it just never seemed to matter that much. But it really does. We should all be using it.

The good news, however, is that the browsers have all mostly implemented support for compressed pages. IE 5 & 6, Firefox, and Mozilla 5+ all support compressed pages pretty well. And for browsers that don’t support it, well, you can still just not compress.

I just installed the gzip module on my server here. The time to install took about 1 hour. That included downloading the source, compiling it, installing into my apache server, and setting up the config. Most of that was learning all the various configurations that mod_gzip offers. They do a good job of explaining the basics in their documentation, and I’ve posted a copy of those docs here.

So far, it seems to work great. I haven’t seen any problems yet, although let me know if this site is not working for you!

Lastly, here are some real numbers about why this is so important. Everyone wins when we use compression – end users get faster responses, and the overall internet bandwidth goes down too.

Most pages on my site are around 10KB. Some are 20KB, and a few are as high as 35KB. Here is a chart showing the speed improvements for various connection types:

No Compression With Compression
page size 56Kbps modem, uncompressed Typical DSL ~384Kbps), uncompressed 56Kbps modem, mod_gzip Typical DSL, mod_gzip
10KB 1.43s 0.21s 0.48s 0.07s
20KB 2.86 0.42 0.95 0.14
35KB 5 0.73 1.67 0.24
100KB 14.29 2.08 4.76 0.69

Lawyers going crazy!

I read this article today where eBay says that keyword pricing is getting a little nuts right now. I have to say, I agree.

Just a few days ago I read another article where someone pointed out that the legal industry is really going on a keyword buying binge. This is no surprise, as lawyers A) have too much money B) are very good at knowing how to get more money. How to get more money? Well advertise for your asbestos litigation, vioxx class action, medical malpractice, etc! And these are lucrative businesses, so your customer acquisition costs can be high.

So I did a little keyword comparison to see what people are paying for these terms right now. Its just crazy:

Keyword Price Per CLICK
Asbestos exposure $35.95
Mesothelioma Asbestos $37.29
Asbestos attorney $12.46
Personal injury lawyer $4.42
Vioxx lawyer $14.20
Medical malpractice $3.09
Auto accident attorney $2.26

Well, no wonder Google is getting rich. For the moment, the lawyers are paying Google!