Monday, February 14, 2011

Addicted to Logs

I released my website just a week or two ago. Since then, I've probably checked and rechecked the server logs a hundred times a day. I'm totally addicted. I now check them more than email. When I'm away from my computer I get nervous thinking about the activity I'm missing.

What I love the most is sitting there refreshing the logs watching a user's every move. I see what pages they click on and how long they stay on a page. I try to imagine them sitting there, reading the different blurbs and thinking about where to click next. When they inevitably navigate away from my site I wonder in agony why they would leave. Was the price too high? Does the site look too unprofessional or do they think it's a scam? Or is there some random browser bug on their system that caused it to be displayed improperly? I may never know. But I always blame myself.

But I continue hitting refresh. The unrelenting self-doubt wont stop me from eavesdropping on the next person who comes on the site. I'll change some text here tweak the layout there. I keep wanting to slash and burn whole areas of the site but I'm also too scared to touch it because it works sort-of.

I think I'll just stay here and keep watching.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Website

It can be difficult to keep your programming teeth sharp while studying in law school, but I've done just that. I'm happy to say that after learning a host of technologies (see previous post), my new website is largely complete.

The result is Resumé Launchpad. I got the idea for the website while applying to law firms during the end of my first year of law school. It's a tedious process. There are widely published databases containing the firm names, human resources representative names, and email addresses. So the process normally involves building a generic cover letter, copying and pasting the appropriate information into the cover letter, and blasting the email off.

When you first start, you try to customize the cover letter to each firm. It wouldn't be uncommon for me to spend a good twenty to forty minutes per cover letter. But after doing a dozen of these and receiving only form rejection letters, you begin to realize that quantity is more important that quality. Then you literally just modify the name of the firm and recipient and send the email blindly hoping for the best.

I ran into problems. I tried tracking everything in excel, but on several occasions I sent the my application to the same person twice. Worse than that, sometimes I would copy & paste incorrectly and get the firm's name, the recipient's name, or their gender wrong. After sending nearly a hundred cover letters like this, my programming instincts got the better of me and I decided to automate the process.

So I put together a database of legal employers from widely available sources (all legit). Then I wrote a python program which was kind of like a mail-merge on steroids; it could send hundreds of customized emails to various recipients stored in a local database.

Finally, the day of reckoning came. I put together my cover letter, resumé, and other attachments and let my program do its thing. I sent about three hundred emails in a couple of minutes. What would have taken me hours and days took only seconds.

It was successful. I got a number of interviews at some very prestigious firms. At the time, I didn't see it as a product, but more as a tool to make life easier for me. The idea to build a general-purpose web interface to my program started percolating.

The rest is programming history. I learned how to put together a modern complex site and two weeks ago I launched it to the world.

So if you're an attorney, law student, paralegal, or legal secretary and you're looking for legal work, check out