Category Archives: Internet

Closing 2012 with new web tools

Sorry to the Maya people, but 2012 is really the beginning, not the end. For me, that is, and particularly with respect to the web.

Together with Sandrine Kinart, I launched the website (a.k.a. to accompany the publication of an article on building and defending one’s e-reputation. It tells the tale of a fictional company (Janssens-Quidam) and its very trendy product (the Cat Hat, “too cute to wear”) and is meant as a practical guide, so we’ve tried to make legalese understandable and useful. Even if you’re not part of a Belgian company, it’s worth at least a good, long look. And it’s available in English, French and Dutch. And for different devices.

In addition, De Boeck Professionals, a major publisher (certainly in the Belgian legal world), agreed to integrate an Interest Calculator I wrote into their legal database, StradaLex. I’m hoping that lawyers, in-house counsel and other legal practitioners across Belgium will find in the Interest Calculator a useful tool to take away the daunting aspect of computing interest. Now obviously, the world will come to an end if computing interest becomes “fun”, so I’ve tried to stick to making it “easy”.

I also cooked up a few other (more random) web tools, such as a law-related URL shortener that I used in the e-reputation article and on the e-reputation website. It’s definitely not “production-grade”, but I’m now in the mindset where if I think “Things would be easier with …”, chances are my next thought will be “I wonder whether I can make a web app for that”.

All in all, things are exciting. 2013 may turn out to be a very good year!

Timekeeping with one click

At work, we (currently) use a piece of software that is very complex. The problem is that it isn’t easy to switch from one item to the next, which is a problem if you have to work on ten different things per hour. Although I don’t encounter such an acute problem every day, it has happened, and I found our tools to be somewhat lacking.

Consequently, I figured I might as well deal with it. When you know a bit of code, it isn’t too hard to patch together a PHP file to deal with this kind of a problem.

I therefore present… the Timekeeper!
The idea is simple: one giant button per timer. Click on “start” to, well, start, and “pause/continue” afterwards depending on what you require. If something new comes up, just hit “New timer”, and the previously running timer will automatically pause while a new one starts.

[There’s plenty of good software for this (I know OfficeTime and Billings are very good at that), but my needs were such that I wanted a web app that I could use, without having to go through the hassle of installing paid-for software on my computer at work.]

For those who want to take a look at the code behind it, you may download the PHP file (all zipped up). I’m sure it can be improved.
And yes, it’s released under a BY-NC-SA Creative Commons licence.

Legal Implications of Internet Filtering

Five years, eleven months and some 5 days or so after my very first lecture on law, I have handed in my final contribution to my six years of legal studies. As it is a work of some importance, both academically and personally, I publish it here.

Here’s the non-legal intro to show you what it’s all about. Or you can omit reading it here, and read it in the document itself: Legal Implications of Internet Filtering.

Continue reading Legal Implications of Internet Filtering

Free speech on the internet

In my 14 effective days of internship so far in a large law firm, i.e. at the 2/3rds of the internship, I have mainly worked on one single, important case involving freedom of speech on the internet. Though there were times during my research when I felt despair for lack of tangible results (basically, few people seem to tackle the subject in a manner of interest to us in the case), the subject was truly interesting, and the occasional golden find encouraged me to keep going.

This research, mainly focussed on internet liability (legal responsibility, for non-lawyers), was a true eye-opener, because I had never thought of the internet from that angle: how free is speech on the internet?

Continue reading Free speech on the internet

Website errors hopefully over

Over the past few months, the quality of the hosting provided by my current provider, OVH (the largest hosting provider in France, apparently), has steadily decreased. I’ve seen an increase in database connection errors, in “HTTP 500 – Internal Server Error” messages, and so on.

It had become bad to the point where in IE6 and Firefox, I seemed to systematically get an error when trying to access the ARPIA2 and iTunesque pages. Why on earth they worked fine in Safari and Opera, I do not know.

Anyway, as I saw the quality of OVH’s service decrease, I entered into contact with ICDSoft, a company with servers in Germany, the USA and Hong Kong, and whose reputation seems excellent.

In a moment of frustration, I finally decided to make the move. Hopefully all problems should be over. Let me know if you experience anything weird!

Edit: sometimes I feel so stupid. I forgot to check all caching systems. *hits himself on the head*

Having fun with maps

The subject of my “Mémoire”, the 60-page “Master Thesis” I have to write for university, is linked to European law, and I therefore use the portal a lot (read: the EU institution websites and EUR-Lex were by far the websites I visited the most these past weeks).

The problem is, they all use text to get users to select their language. If it were a bilingual website, it would be easy. But there are 23 official languages in the EU, and so it takes time to figure out which string of text is “yours”.
The worst front page, in my opinion, is the Council’s homepage, which I find impossible to use under five seconds.

I therefore decided to try (during a small break) my hand at another system: maps.

Continue reading Having fun with maps

Arpia forums back online

Well, there we go. Finally, problems are resolved, and we’re on a new forum system.

So, why don’t you go check it out and talk about ARPIA2 or SFA?

I should add that, unfortunately, passwords from the previous board no longer work (well, the hashes do, but I won’t be distributing those 😉 ). You will therefore have to request a new password.

Of course, if there are any problems, do let me know.

Arpia forum troubles

For those who visit the Arpia forum, it is currently down. The reason is that I have encountered substantial problems relating to the database and to the templates, and am therefore in the process of trying to re-install the whole thing.

I’m afraid all access to the forum will be cut until I can fix this.
SFA’ers and ARPIA2’ers, I would suggest finding temporary shelter back on the EV Nova boards. Or you can use this post or the ARPIA2 page to discuss your woes.

Thoughts to be read worldwide

A question that nagged at my mind a few times these past months was what makes people use Twitter, WordPress and other such services.

Why blog? Why tweet? Why change status every day on Facebook?

My analysis is biased, as I favour blogs over Twitter pages and Facebook activity, but I might as well post my thoughts. Who knows, they might some day be read worldwide.

Continue reading Thoughts to be read worldwide

Clueless spam

Every now and again, I take the time to glance at spam messages. And once in a while, there’s a jewel of ignorance that shines forth.

Case in point: “we have been authorised by the newly appointed UN Secretary General […] to officially inform you that your pending inheritance sum of $3.6M […] ready to be sent to you as to avoid all the omplications you may be passing your attempt to claim your funds from the African banks […]”.

The omitted “c” in “…omplications” and the lack of sense “omplications you may be passing your attempt to claim” aside, I have to say I love the idea.

The UN Secretary General deals with inheritance (UNO = “ur nan OD’ed”, i.e. your grandma overdosed).
And there is such a thing as “the African banks” (yes, Africa is one single united country).

I love spam.