Finishing My Coffee
26Jul/080

Bar Prep Lyrics (Part II)

Black Thought In Action

Black Thought In Action

(Click here for Part I)

  • Life is hard in general / and we can't complain if things are hard - Talib Kweli
  • He caused earthquakes / just from / ex-per-i-ments / some thoughts got lost / not knowing where it went - GZA
  • The half-truth is a whole lie - Fly Union
  • Stay fluid even in staccato - Mos Def
  • I saw The Wizard when the curtain fell - Talib Kweli

And my new mantra for the Bar...

  • I'm exhausted but I'll never ever forfeit - Black Thought

[Image via http://black-thought.com/]

25Jul/081

Bar Exam: Run Through The Line

Run through the line.

Do. Not. Stop.

This is the final weekend before the fun and games we call the California Bar Exam. Three days of bliss. First, a day of reading and writing, then a day filled with lots of coloring in of circles (staying inside the lines is very important... maybe even more important than the actual answer if my conspiracy theories about the Bar trying to kill our inner child are correct), and finally, a third day of more reading and more writing. And then... we wait till November to find out if we're official and certified.

As Jack Handey explains about his first day in Hell:

To relieve the boredom, you can throw rocks at other people in line. They just think it was a demon. But I discovered the hard way that the demons don’t like it when they’re beating someone and you join in.

It’s odd, but Hell can be a lonely place, even with so many people around. They all seem caught up in their own little worlds, running to and fro, wailing and tearing at their hair. You try to make conversation, but you can tell they’re not listening.

24Jul/081

Fixing Problems With VMWare & SofTest

I wasted three hours yesterday fixing this problem, so I thought I'd share the solution, in case anyone else consults The Oracle and also fails to find the easy fix. Also, I'd check the General Tips (below) and install whatever other software you need before installing SofTest (see the long discussion of the problem at the end of this post for the reasons why).

The Goal: Examsoft's SofTest is the software used by the CA Bar to lock down laptops while taking the Bar Exam. It must be installed before applicants can take the test. SofTest is Windows-only, so for Mac users to use the software, Windows must be installed via Boot Camp, and then SofTest can be installed in the Windows partition.

The Problem (short version): You've installed but cannot run SofTest because it says you've installed VMWare software... even though you already uninstalled VMWare. If you currently or in the past have used VMWare, you won't be able to run SofTest even after uninstalling VMWare, unless you take these extra steps.

Email VMWare For A Fix: According to MacLawStudents, ExamSoft does offer a fix, though they haven't made it available through their site (and didn't offer it to me when I called). If you have the time, you might want to try this first. If you're comfortable finding and deleting files on your own, however, I'd read on to The Solution below.

Through research, we have found that the VMWare Tools package deployed by VMWare Fusion does not completely remove all components when removed via Add/Remove programs.

We have created a simple utility that will prompt the user to uninstall VMWare Tools and will also remove the items left behind that caused the problem with SofTest. Users of SofTest may contact support via phone, chat or email to request the fix.

The Easy, Quick Solution (found here):

  1. Using the VMWare Fusion CD, uninstall Fusion from OS X. It will still leave your Virtual Machines in place, so don't worry if you've already installed Linux or anything like that.
  2. Boot into Windows by shutting off your computer and then holding down the ALT/Option key when you reboot. On reboot, Boot Camp will give you the option to boot into OS X or Windows. Choose Windows.
  3. Go to Start (or the Windows icon at the bottom-left, if you're in Vista) » Control Panel. Then choose Uninstall Programs. Select VMWare Tools from the list, and click the Uninstall button.
  4. You'd think you're done, but you'd be wrong. Instead, here's what you need to do. Go to Start and then to Search. You'll need to search for and delete three files. Evidently SofTest checks for the presence of the following files:
    1. vms_fb.dll
    2. vmx_fb.dll
    3. vmx_svga.sys

    These are usually found in the following locations, but you may still want to perform a search for them as well:

    1. C:WINDOWSsystem32vms_fb.dll
    2. C:WINDOWSsystem32vmx_fb.dll
    3. C:WINDOWSsystem32driversvmx_svga.sys

    (If your search doesn't show any of these files, first make sure that you're searching Everywhere on your computer. Then, go to Advanced Search and make sure the checkbox is clicked to allow searching for Hidden or System files.)

  5. Search for and delete these files if found on the machine. These files are drivers used by VM Ware and are usually left behind after uninstalling VM Ware. [Note: I only found two of the three files left on my machine. Deleting them fixed the problem.]
  6. That's it! You should now be able to run SofTest with no problem. Double-click SofTest and make with the Registration process. Best of luck on the Bar Exam!

Other General Tips:

  • Boot into Windows by default: In Windows, on the bottom-right corner of the screen is a gray icon for Boot Camp (over near the Network, Battery, Volume icons and the time). Click this icon and choose Boot Camp Control Panel. There, set the default OS to Windows. This will alleviate any potential problems when SofTest reboots your system to send in your completed exam. You can always switch this back later, to reboot by default in OS X after the Exam is over. In the meantime, you can still reboot while holding the ALT key and choose OS X.
  • Right-click: Your laptop only has one mouse button, but Windows requires that you right-click a lot. There are a couple ways to do this. First, you can hold two fingers on the trackpad and then click the mouse button, which will right-click in Windows. Second, you can install free software that will let you right-click. Third, you can always use an external mouse. Wireless optical mice are cheap nowadays - check one of the deal sites to find bargains.
  • Anti-virus: You're not in OS X anymore, so this Windows side of your machine can pick up viruses without you doing anything but connecting to the Internet. Viruses won't hurt your OS X system, but why worry about any other problems if you don't need to. There are lots of paid options available, and your school may offer a free license for Norton AntiVirus. If so, great. Install it. If not, a friend of mine recommended AVG Anti-Virus, which is free and has worked great so far. I couldn't be happier.
  • Alt-menus: In Windows, if you see an underlined letter in a menu item, that means you can hold the ALT key while hitting that letter to go straight to that menu item, without using the mouse. Great way to navigate through menus. Click here for a full list of Windows key commands.
23Jul/080

Rap Lyrics Appropriate For Bar Prep

Saul Williams

Saul Williams

(Click here for Part II)

It was a cold night. Not cold like the Winter/ just cold like an energy / was in the air I generally / don't like. / The Driver had to dip / so he left me in the whip / turned round said "You know you're on your own, right?" - Black Thought

In order of progress from Start to Finish during this two-month marathon of study...

  1. I'm workin' while the Boss relaxin' - Black Thought
  2. I'm the shaky hand that touched George Foreman in Zaire - Nas
  3. Bone gristle poppin' from continuous grindin' - Mos Def
  4. Everybody knows me like the Contra code for extra men - Wale
  5. Cuttin' up bodies and talkin' to the pieces - Notorious B.I.G.
  6. I know where I'm goin' even when it's dark - The Roots
  7. I'm half dead / never felt more alive - Peedi Peedi
  8. Who's gonna stop us? Not a god damn one o' ya - The Clipse

Three from Lil Wayne:

  • I like brain so I f*ck with a whole lotta nerds
  • If it's bullsh*t you want, it's bullsh*t I share
  • I do what I do and I do it right

And my favorite, by Saul Williams:

These words are not tools of communication
They are shards of metal
Dropped from eight story windows
They are waterfalls and gas leaks
Aged thoughts rolled in tobacco leaf
The tools of a trade
Barbers barred, barred of barters
Catch phrases and misunderstandings
But they are not what I feel when I am alone
Surrounded by Everything and Nothing
And there isn't a word or phrase to be caught
A verse to be recited
A man to de-fill my being in those moments
I am blankness, the contained center of an "O"
The pyramidic containment of an "A"
I stand in the middle of all that I have learned
All that I have memorized
All that I've known by heart
Unable to reach any of it
There is no sadness
There is no bliss
It is a forgotten memory
A memorable escape route that only is found by not looking
There, in the spine of the dictionary the words are worthless
They are a mere weight pressing against my thoughtlessness
But then...
Who else can speak of thoughtlessness with such confidence?

[Like this post? Check out my Muxtape.]

22Jul/080

Me, At The Moment

The toughest part of Bar Prep is recalling the information I need, when I need it. I know everything I'll need is packed into my head. I just hope nothing has slipped out. Just one more week to go...

Image is Memory by Jinyoung Shin.

18Jul/080

A Sign The Composition Works

From The Plantation To The Penitentiary

From The Plantation To The Penitentiary

I've generally been in an internally beastly mood while prepping for the Bar Exam. I find it's helpful. If I'm too at peace, I get complacent while studying. Though relaxation allows for Brawny-like absorption of rules and elements, over time that relaxation also draws in anxiety, which builds and festers till it paralyzes. I'd guess that a mongoose experiences the same euphoric calm before it realizes it's been ended.

So instead, I've chosen snarling aggression as my study mode. To keep me in the mood, I've been listening to a lot of angry music: conscious rap, beats by The Rza, passion-imbued compositions. It also follows that I've been avoiding jazz - normally effective study music as so much is sans lyrics - like the plague.

This morning, while studying at SF's Best Neighborhood Cafe, I turned on some tunes to escape the enraptured yells from a trio of preschoolers, at once shouting for Tour cyclists to "go faster!" while marveling that they could ride so close together and, not understanding what they wanted, shouting for the riders to "crash and break their necks".*

Headphones on, my thumb spins through options on my iPod. Let's see... Genre will quickly filter for mood. Hrm. Jazz? Well then. Who's here? No, no, no, no, Ah. Wait... Wynton Marsalis? I'd forgotten. Haven't listened in a long time. Sure, why not. Give it a go. Perfect. Exactly what I wanted. Which disc is this? Tap to illuminate screen, and... Of course: From The Plantation To The Penitentiary

And what have I been studying all morning? Criminal law. I guess Wynton hit his mark.

[* Have the little tikes already seen Michael Bay's "work". Did they think a bike would burst into a giant fireball if it crashed? If only Hollywood would think of the kids when letting guys like Bay make movies...]

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10Mar/080

Exams, a Mac User Group & GPS in the Air

Before entering law school, my Class was told that while my school didn't yet support Mac users and didn't allow the use of Apple laptops for exams, the administration expected that policy to change soon. When our IT department refused to revisit the subject after a year and a half, I decided to conduct my own survey of law schools in California and across the country. The result? 2/3 supported Macs, and more were opening up to the idea of supporting Apple laptops every day.

I passed my report on to our administration who, following the support and guidance of our new IT manager, changed their policy. In the Fall of my 3L year, I took my first law school exam on a Mac. It felt fantastic.

In the meantime, our SBA President asked me to start a formal Mac User Group, which I did. Though I graduate in May, two other students have agreed to take over leadership of the group, so it will live on after I'm gone.

One problem remained. The Bar Exam. And the CA Bar Association wouldn't budge. Nor would they allow correspondence via email or fax. Only mailed letters. So over Spring Break this year, I put together a summary of my prior survey, responses thus far from the exam software provider and from the CA Bar, along with reasons the Bar should change its policy.

I finished the packet on a Monday. At that time, the Bar hadn't changed its policy. On Tuesday I put the packet in the mail. On Wednesday a friend emailed to say that the Bar, on its own, had changed its policy [pdf]. We'd be able to take the Bar Exam on a Mac this summer! I didn't think the Bar would change its policy so soon, but I'm glad they did.

Now I have a new "problem." You need to boot into Windows via Boot Camp for the Bar Exam, and therefore need an Intel Mac. As I'm a loving owner of the last model PPC PowerBook, I'll either need to get a cheap Windows laptop or a new Mac.

I'm strongly considering the oh so pretty MacBook Air. I played around with one at MacWorld this year, and the machine is gorgeous, thin, light, zippy, elegantly engineered, sturdily crafted. The early reviews are all favorable, and Charlie Rose even took a face plant to ensure the safety of his baby. But even Charlie Rose's mishap pales in comparison to what happened to this guy. If I get one and fall in love with it, how will I keep track of it?

From Newsweek:

If my Air was stolen, I don't expect to see it again. The people at Apple (one of them couldn't stop laughing) do say that if the thief tried to repair it, Apple would identify the unit by its serial number. (By the way, NEWSWEEK is going to pony up the $1,800 for the loss.) Fortunately, because I had never bothered to wirelessly move all my data to the laptop, my personal exposure is limited. As a precaution, I did change the password on my Gmail, and de-authorized my iTunes account. Thus the thief, if there was a thief, cannot watch the two copy-protected episodes of "The Closer" I had downloaded. But I don't think it was stolen: as I noted, the power cord was in my living room, indicating that I'd used it sometime that weekend. It was safe at home—before it disappeared. So what happened? In lieu of the presence of a poltergeist with techno-lust, I have developed a theory that I first viewed as remote, but now believe explains the fate of my Air.

On Sundays in my apartment, the coffee table where the Air sat becomes the final resting place for the bulky New York Times. It is not unusual for other magazines, and newspapers from previous days, to accumulate there as well. My wife, whose clutter tolerance is well below my own, sometimes will swoop in and hastily gather the pulp in a huge stack, going directly to the trash-compactor room just down the hall from our apartment, dumping the pile into a plastic recycling bin. Sometimes the whole mess gets so nasty that I even perform this task myself. Could it be that somewhere in the stack was a Macintosh computer so thin that its manufacturer brags it could fit inside an envelope? I believe so. (For the record, my wife does not subscribe to this theory.)

My MacBook. I've lost my laptop! I've abandoned my Aiiiiiiiiiiiiir! I've lost my MacBook. I've abandoned my Air!