lukegilman.com : The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Law School Exam Crapware

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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Every law school has it’s own preferred brand of final exam crapware which must be used if you plan to type the exam rather than scrawl it out longhand. The particular brand of exam crapware is generally a difference in search of a distinction, as the user interface designers (or lack thereof) of said companies all seem to be into the same sort of retro-chic, Lotus Notes circa ’94 vibe. As no international human rights tribunal has seen fit to recognize crimes of design, I had chalked this up as a petty annoyance. Even then I had, mistakenly as it turns out, assumed that like NASA, hideousness = security and reliability.

Luis Villa’s post, integrity in software and law school, strike 58104, puts it in more sinister light, pointing to Geek Plight’s How to Cheat and Bypass Examsoft…. post to demonstrate that the quote-unquote ‘security’ is easily defeated, and worse, no one seems overly concerned about it –

Last term (December 2007) I found a way to bypass the security in the program. I promptly reported this to the IT department at my school and nothing was done. This past month I reported this to Examsoft, and I did not get responses beyond a generic reply that they would look into the issue. I am writing this in hopes that by publishing this I am able to force Examsoft to address the security hole and to let them know how unsatisfied students are with their software. This “bypass”, really takes no real hacking skills, or security expertise.

What bothers me is not a fear of real or imagined cheating going on here – honestly I can’t see any significant advantage to looking through notes on many of the exams I’ve taken. Most are open book and don’t lend themselves to copying in ones outline – what really bothers me is my confirmed suspicion that law school exam crapware is security theater, onerous measures designed to make us think we’re safer when we’re not, and imposing expense, inconvenience and opportunities for catastrophic failure where it needn’t be.

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