Friday, April 27, 2012

Diane Neal - Business Week Online Article
Published November 21, 1997

BUSINESS WEEK ONLINE November 21, 1997


Get your bar exam results online. The idea of electronic postings on the Web, as opposed to waiting for the mail, sounded great (see BW, 11/21/97, "Did You Pass the Bar? Check the Web for Results"), but the experience wasn't all it was cracked up to be. I agreed to stay up with my beau, who was waiting for his results, as moral support while he tried to access the site.  Little did I know that instead of soothing nerves the experience would wind up being an exercise in futility.

Nancy Carpenter, executive secretary for the New York State Board of Examiners, had predicted that online posting would ease anxiety because test-takers would have "immediate access" to their fate. However, as the board was preparing to release results for the first time on the Web just after midnight on Friday, Nov. 21, would-be lawyers started logging on an hour before anything was even posted. Uh oh.

12:00 a.m.: We sign on, and for the first 20 minutes we can't even access the Board of Examiners' home page. Once we finally do, it's a steady bout of continual page reloading to move on to the next link.

12:45: We get the link to the July, 1997, test results. The tension mounts, and I have to take over the navigation because he can't stand to look. I check, and we wait, and wait, and wait. The page Ioads only the first few names beginning with "A" before the connection times out - and we start all over.

1:30: I've had enough. Forget the modem, this is a job for the T1 line at work. We hop in a cab and rush to my offlce, convinced if we use the fast connection there, we'll get to the holy grail: the "N" page. How long can it take? Long enough. For three hours, we load and reload the same page over and over relentlessly, creeping through the alphabet little by little. Each time, new names are revealed, and the connection inevitably times out.

3:30: We finally reach L." I feel like this is one of the greater accomplishments of my life. I find that an awful lot of people have last names starting with L.

4:00: It doesn't look like we will make the Ns. Even at this hour, the pages loads painfully slow and my finger is cramping from clicking on "reload." I decide I've been tortured long enough. Besides, I do have a real job to show up for in a few hours.
Could the board have done anything to avoid this? For starters, an alphabetic menu bar might have been helpful to cut down the number of names downloaded on one page. As it was, some 1,500 names are on each of four "department" pages (6,029 were listed as having passed of the 8,520 who took the test). But the reality was server overload: Too many people wanted on at the same time. Although Carpenter says “all the alarms and bells went off," she also says the server never crashed and there weren't too many complaints. And of those, most were from people who didn't pass and thought perhaps their names were missing.

I went back to the board's Web site during the day on Friday, and on my first try got almost all of the Ms loaded before the connection timed out. What will my beau do now? We decided to quit trying - and wait for the mail.

By Diane Young in New York
Copyright 1997 McGraw-Hill Companies.  All rights reserved. Any use is subject to (1) terms and conditions of this service and (2) rules stated under "Read This First" in the "About Business Week" area.

No comments:

Post a Comment