Wow. Hard to believe my time on the island is coming to a close… it feels like just yesterday I arrived, was panicking about not being able to charge my laptop or access the Internet, and broke my foot. The Internet “issues” do continue though… A few weeks ago the Internet in my room (and what seemed like at least all of Mount Charles and probably all student housing) stopped working so I called Accommodations and asked why. They let me know they had shut the Internet for unknown reasons… Luckily it started working the next day. It still isn’t clear what exactly happened… One person said they had specifically disabled computers they thought were infected with the BackDoor.Flashback.39 virus, but my Mac was not infected, and I checked with three friends who run Windows, and their Internet access was also not working. For the period when the Internet was “shut” I was able to access the Internet by using my cell phone as an access point. There were indications it was a DNS problem so eventually I configured my computer to only use the cell phone for DNS queries and route the actual traffic through the dorm connection in order to limit cell phone bandwidth and increase speed. This worked which was nice. The odd thing is I’m told there was no DNS problem. The mystery remains and today it seems like there are intermittent DNS issues… anyway… on to more exciting things.
My favorite part of the year so far has been the trip to Brussels. The Permanent Representation of Ireland to the European Union (EU) invited the Mitchell Scholars to Brussels and planned an incredible series of events and speakers that introduced us to EU governance and politics. Ivan, Sam, and I were also incredibly lucky to be invited to stay in the Permanent Representative’s residence. Everyone was extremely welcoming and we literally felt like we were at home! The residence even came with wifi and electrical adapters so I could charge my laptop (I forgot Brussels had different electrical outlets than the U.K. so I arrived unprepared)! As for events, we had lunch with U.S. Ambassador to the EU William Kennard, visited the local Google office and listened to a presentation on EU lobbying, and visited the EU Parliament building and saw the plenary chamber. My favorite event during the trip was lunch with Ambassador Kennard (a fellow Stanford alumnus!). It is always great to meet Stanford alumni around the world. Learning about US-EU relations and hearing the US stance on ACTA was very fascinating. I also enjoyed the Google visit during which Google upheld their tradition of having wonderful free food. It was also interesting to ask the presenters about Google’s position on the “No Track” proposal and if they thought that the Google Play policy requiring apps to use Google Checkout for in-app purchases was anti-competitive (Apple actually started the practice and continues to enforce it).
After the official events ended, some of us stayed in Brussels for an extra couple of days. A group of us visited the Grand Place area and had dinner at Chez Leon and then had an amazing dessert waffle (I had 2) at a little waffle stand on one of the tiny streets leading away from the Grand Place center. I highly recommend one of the dessert waffles if you visit. The next day I went to Bruges for a few hours with Chelsea and Sam. We had a wonderful lunch at some quaint restaurant but the highlight of the trip was getting chocolate at Dumon and trying marzipan for the first time. When we returned to Brussels we went to Delirium Café, a fantastic bar that holds the Guinness World Record with 2004 beers and now claims to have over 2,400 beers!
Currently I’m back in Belfast wrapping up classes. My last classes are next week and I’m busy writing multiple papers. In my spare time I have developed BackToWork.us – a service to help U.S. citizens find jobs. It has special features tailored to helping veterans and youth find jobs. It lets veterans search via their military occupation code in order to help them find jobs that make use of the skills they developed while serving our country. The app searches over the SummerJobs+ 2012 job bank and the National Resource Directory’s Veterans Job Bank. There is also an iOS version. I entered the site in the White House’s recent Code Sprint and it was selected as one of the featured entries.
As for summer, I’m going back to Stanford in early June to conduct research in the law school at The Center for Internet and Society. I’ll be working with Resident Fellow Bryant Walker Smith and researching autonomous automobile remote control/shutdown (how to secure it and under what circumstances may law enforcement utilize the ability). I have had a wonderful time here in Belfast but I am excited to get back to the U.S. and especially the Bay Area – I have missed California weather!!!