Time-Series Analysis of New Covid Cases

I used two different time-series libraries in a Python time-series analysis model to predict new Covid cases in the United States.

Data was taken from ‘Our World in Data‘, https://covid.ourworldindata.org/data/owidcovid-data.csv, with showed, in part, daily numbers of new Covid cases for the United States from January 23, 2020 – January 9, 2022.

The first model used LinkedIn’s time series algorithm called Silverkite, and LinkedIn’s library called Greykite. (What’s with the kites?)

The model forecasts new Covid cases in the U.S. 90 days ahead of today’s date (which was January 10, 2022, when I created this post), with a prediction interval of 95%.

The results from this analysis are as follows:

The second model I created also used LinkedIn’s Silverkite algorithm, but instead used Facebook’s Prophet as the library to predict new cases. When you run the Python commands (I used a Jupyter Notebook), you’ll get warnings that Prophet will disable yearly and daily seasonality unless you change a setting. I kept the default because I didn’t want to take seasonality into consideration at the first running of the model.

The results from this analysis are as follows:

So what do you think of these different predictions? I think both models are going to be wrong in actual numbers of new cases because of the rise of the Omicron variant. And this dataset did not differentiate between the covid strains. Omicron is reported to be easier to spread but, overall, affects people less severly than the other covid strains.

But one thing that I find interesting is how aggressive each model is in forecasting new cases. Greykite shows drop in cases after the train end date (Jan 9, 2022) that continues through February 2022, but then it quickly moves back up. Prophet also shows a drop after the train end date (Jan 9, 2022) but makes a slow upward trend.

I hope Prophet is right, but we will see.

Another I wanted to do was compare my models with the data posted on the NY Times about U.S. cases. I did a screen capture and, using Photoshop, overlayed the new reported cases data onto my Greykite model. (Please note: I taught Photoshop for a long time and fully believe using this tool is an important way for data scientists to better communicate their findings.)

There results are as follows:

The NY Times data ended on Jan 8th while the ‘Our World in Data’ ended on Jan 10th, but the number of new cases is a nice match between the two sources.

I’ll keep watching to see how accurate my forecasting models are at predicting new cases of Covid in the U.S. I’ve posted my Jupyter Notebook and csv files on my Github, located here.

Pill Identifier: A way to identify pills using a non-internet-connected phone

The extended write-up is on hackster.io here: https://www.hackster.io/sara-kubik/edge-impulse-pill-identifier-7c1219

This is the shorter write-up for my blog.

Story

Have you ever taken a pill out of the container it came in and immediately forgotten the name of the pill? I have, especially when I organize the pills I need to take each day into a daily container.

Once my pills are in here, I never remember what each one pill is.

Once my pills are in here, I never remember what each one pill is.

I take a lot of vitamins, so I don’t worry too much about when I take my pills or in what order. But what if you’re one of the millions of people who takes multiple pills each day for things like diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and other medical issues? It’s probably critical that you organize your pills according to how your doctor tells you to take them. Mixing up pills, taking them at the wrong time (time of day/night, with/without food, with/without other medications), and generally not knowing what pills you have once they are removed from the pill bottles are serious issues.

My mother takes about 20 pills a day. I am worried that she won’t always know which pills she has to take, so I looked at pill identification apps and websites. Every one of them requires you to be connected to the internet.

And that’s a problem for many people. It may come as a suprise to you, but there are millions of people in the U.S. who do not have any type of internet connection at home. The largest group is older adults. (See https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/internet-broadband/ for more information.) And that’s the group that is most likely to take medication.

So I set out to build a pill identifyer that can run on a phone when it is not connected to the internet.

We all have used devices that are not connected to the internet. Even our phones when they are on airplane mode. Technicially, if a device can run computations without the need for an internet connection, you could call it an edge device.

Devices that run on the edge can include your phone, wearable devices like smart watches, sensors, autonomous vehicles, and other IoT devices. Simply stated, edge computing can be done on the device itself; you don’t need to send information to the cloud.

That’s an enormous benefit because edge computing reduces latency (delays) when it is processing information. For my purposes, I’m most interested in the ability of edge devices to not be connected to the Internet because of the problems I mentioned above. Millions of people do not have reliable internet, or high speed internet, or any internet at home. Yet there are ways to build solutions based upon running computations on edge devices.

Project building

1. To create my dataset, I borrowed 6 pills from my mother. I chose to only photograph 6 different pills of brandname drugs for this project because they were ones I could photograph myself; I had access to them.

Trying to find multiple copyright-free photos of the same pills to use in a machine learning model was impossible. I also had spent a day looking online on webmd at various pills. Silly me, I didn’t know just how many different shapes, sizes, colors, and identifying marks each pill had.

So I decided to photograph the pills myself.

The six pills I photographed for this project.
The six pills I photographed for my project.

When thinking about my dataset, I thought about how a person would hold their phone when using it to classify their pills. They would probably place the pill on a plate, or on a countertop. So the backgrounds would be varied. They may or may not have the pill centered in the frame. Focusing on the pill would not be a given. They may hold their phone at different distances from the pills. There will certainly be a difference in the lighting captured and the cast shadows produced from the light source.

I decided I needed a lot of photos. There were several ways I obtained photos of the pills…

2. Photographing pills using my phone: I used my phone to photograph each pill many, many, many times. I placed the pills separately on different countertops, at different angles, at different sizes in the frame, at different locations in the frame. I then brought these images into Photoshop to see how they looked. I saved them as png files and uploaded these images to Edge Impulse.

3. Data augmentation: I wrote Python code in Jupyter Notebooks to perform data augmentation on the images I took of the pills.. I rotated images, moved them around in the frame, changed the brightness and darkness, blurred some, and added noise to others. These files were also saved as png files and also uploaded to Edge Impulse.

4. Directly uploading photos to Edge Impulse: Edge Impulse allows you to connect your phone to your project, and then use your phone to upload photos to their website. These photos were ultimately saved as jpgs.

In the end, I wound up with 1189 photos for my training and validation dataset, and 305 photos in my testing dataset.

Pill on white background
An example of a photo image in my dataset.

4. I then built my model in Edge Impulse. After a lot of work on my training, validation, and testing various models and looking at accuracy rates, I landed on the following for my neural network model:

Keras neural network image classification model that had 100 epochs, a 0.001 learning rate, and multiple layers.

This model resulted in an accuracy rating of 87.8% and a loss of 0.47. The confusion matrix was ok and I knew I may have problems with a few of the pills based upon what it showed me.

I chose to create a custom deep neural network instead of using a pre-trained transfer learning neural network because the accuracy was much better on my custom network. And my model performed better when the features of the images were kept as RGB instead of converting them to grayscale.

Project Testing:

5. Testing on my testing dataset: Of the many bootcamps I’ve taken, I’ve heard people say they’ve tested their machine learning model by taking a separate part of a dataset and removing it completely so the model does not use the data to train on. Then, this second dataset is used after a model is trained to “test” the model.

Edge Impulse lets you “test” your model in a way similar to how you’d test it if you were writing straight Python code. My testing resulted in an accuracy reading of 88%, which was pretty good. But the real test was deploying this model to my phone and using my phone to classify the pills.

6. Real world testing: I placed the pills on a countertop and used Edge Impulse to connect my phone to it. I needed the Internet here because Edge Impulse was hosting my files. They packaged up all of the files and built an app the works in a phone’s browser. Once the files are deployed, though, you can disconnect from the Internet and the classification still works! Your phone is being used as an edge device running a machine learning model without having to send information to the cloud (and back) in order for it to work.

There is definitely room for me to try to improve my model’s accuracy, expand to other edge devices, expand the number of pills that can be classified, etc. But overall, I’m happy with the results of the project and learned a lot from creating it.

If you want to look at the Python files used in this project, please visit my Github repo here: https://github.com/sarakubik/Machine_learning_pill_identifier

First impressions and shiny things

Like you, I’ve heard about artificial intelligence before. I’m a big science fiction movie fan and prefer it over rom-coms. But lately, the terms “artificial intelligence”, “machine learning” and “neural networks” seem to be cropping up over and over in my Twitter feed. I have never been one to jump into hyped tech because a lot of it can lead you down rabbit holes where you end up with something shiny, but not useful.

So I approached with caution… this was what I kept hearing in my head, with Dorothy’s voice saying, “Artificial intelligence and machine learning and neural networks, oh my!”

I signed up for bootcamp courses online, both free and paid. I watched videos and read content. And one thing I learned is that much of this new terminology is a re-hash of old terminology.

Whispers… machine learning is often just plain ole statistics.

Yes, there are changes that are new, and most of what I’ve found so far is the amount of data that can be used now can be huge (big data is the buzzword here). Also, there is a lot of free stuff or open source content. So the knowledge you can obtain about shiny new tech is not behind ivory towers. However, you may have to sift through content because a lot is junk, or old, or not helpful in any way.

So I’m learning again, and that makes me happy. I’ll post more about artificial intelligence, machine learning, and neural networks because I *DO* believe in their usefulness. I do think they are more than hype. And just like Dorothy, I say, “Oh my!” but now in an excited-eager-confident way.

Older Adults’ Internet Access

I wanted to build off of my dissertation by focusing on older adults’ uses of the Internet. But I didn’t want to collect my own data so I found a dataset onine called the Core Trends Survey. It is available from Pew Research here: https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/dataset/core-trends-survey/ .

The Core Trends Survey was conducted Jan 8 – February 2019. The original sample had 1502 adults. I downloaded the csv dataset in Excel (because the sample size and file sizes were small) and only wanted older adults ages 55 and up.

My final sample was 465 older Americans, ages 55 and up.

  • All used the internet or email, at least occasionally
  • All had either a smart phone, a tablet, or a computer or a combination of these devices All had either high-speed internet access (like DSL,cable, fiber optic) or cell phone or tablet access at home (no dial-up). So either high speed or cell connection (note the difference of these with latency and fog computing in the future)

I cleaned the data, created new variables, and analyzed it using Excel and R. I created some image files using various packages in RStudio, and saved some stacked bar charts as pngs. These were a high level overview of my findings.

My Github has the CSV files, the R code, the pngs, and a read me file: https://github.com/sarakubik/Older-Adults-Internet-Access-in-Rural-Urban-Surburan-Locations.git

I was not happy with the stacked bar charts, so I went to Tableau to see if it could produce something better.

I created data vizualizations and a dashboard using Tableau. The files are…

  • Breaking apart where the older adults lived: https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/sara.kubik/viz/OlderAdultsInternetAccessinRuralUrbanandSuburbanLocations/Dashboard1
  • Separating the data by gender and technology ownership: https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/sara.kubik/viz/OlderAdultsandInternetUse/Dashboard1

Re-focusing

It’s been a while since my last post. A LOT has happened since then. Most noteably, the pandemic. Like the rest of the world, my life was radically changed because of this. It was a period of triage for many of us, and that resulted in my radio silence on this blog.

But, I’m back.

What has not changed is that I’m still an Illinois-licensed attorney mainly focusing on family law. I own my own law firm and that has allowed me the incredible flexibility to be with my children. I can always work more; I can never get back the time I have with my children as they grow up.

So this has re-focused me on my career path. I will always have my law license and actually aim to get licensed in more states when I can. I love learning. The more I learn, the more I want to learn more. (LOL at my grammar but you get my point!)

One common area that I’ve always been interested in is technology. Technology changes so rapidly and that is exciting to me. Throughout my time as a lawyer, I’ve been learning about new technologies and new applications of the technologies. New development. I’ve even taken online courses to keep my skillset current and understand how I can use these tools (used by data analytics and data scientists) in combination with what I already know (stastical analysis, research, content creation, the law).

So you’ll see a change in the posts I’m going to make. They’re going to be more data-focused because that is what I’m into now. I’m exploring data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data. They are technical and can be complex, but I aim to be able to explain my thoughts as clearly and efficiently as possible.

How-To Tutorials for Unrepresented Litigants

I’m making a list, you’re checking it twice. We’re going to get you through the divorce process without having to hire an attorney. That’s nice!

I am a family law attorney who represents people in Chicago and the surrounding counties going through divorces and child custody lawsuits. When an attorney is hired by a Petitioner (or Plaintiff) or Respondent (or Defendant), that attorney normally only represents one side in the lawsuit. Not both sides.

Yet I’ve encountered many cases, especially in divorcing couples, where the party I represented WANTED me to work for her (or him) AND the opposing party. Maybe they thought hiring one lawyer means they pay one attorney to do everything, for everyone, in the lawsuit. 

This can be very problematic to say the least.

I had a pro se/unrepresented opposing party shout at me (while in the courthouse, no less) to “do all the f***in paperwork”. His wife, my client, supported this and she, too, ranted to the Judge that she only hired me to “do paperwork”. 

The legal divorce process is more than just “doing paperwork”, so it was obvious that both parties had no idea what an attorney does, or that some attorneys, MOST attorneys, will not represent both sides in a lawsuit.

I used this recent hailstorm as motivation for developing something to help me, opposing parties, other attorneys, etc.

First, let’s look at the problems:

Problem 1: The divorce process is not clear.

Going through a divorce and working with the Courts, judges, and clerks can be a daunting process. One person I represented asked where the checklist was for her to file for divorce by herself in Cook County, Illinois. There wasn’t one.

Problem 2: The e-filing process is not easy to understand.

Although e-filing has eliminated the need to travel to the courthouse and physically give someone legal documents, the e-filing process is not easy to understand.

We live in an age where we expect to be able to instantly learn and understand how to navigate around websites. Shopping online, watching videos, reading online news content… we expect to be able to quickly know how to use their sites. When a person is unable to understand how to navigate through a site, they will abandon it.

Yet people who e-file MUST use the sites. Because in Illinois, all legal documents must now be e-filed.

When you combine problem 1 and problem 2, you normally get frustrated and angry pro se litigants. Sure there are websites that contain pdf forms that these litigants can download, but there is a lack of good, clear educational content on:

A. How to understand what these forms mean

B. How to fill them out

c. How to e-file them

I was a professor who taught students software, and I now am an attorney who has helped many people get divorced in Illinois. So I made some videos for pro se litigants going through divorces in the Illinois courts.

The first few videos are free and are on YouTube:

1. What is an Appearance and How to Fill it Out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_eWIbsmYJI

2. How to e-file an Appearance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQHjmWNnWxM

The next set of videos is bundled into an online course. I’ve created a series of videos for someone who wants to file for divorce in Cook County, IL. The course is (creatively) entitled “How to File for Divorce in Cook County, IL” and is priced at $64.99. It’s located here. If you click that Udemy link, you can preview a lesson and see how I’ve broken the course down. I’ll walk you through how to fill out all the forms you need to start a divorce lawsuit in Cook County, IL. I’ll also provide you with the forms, and show you how to e-file them.

Finally, if you have legal questions and Google your legal question, you will get flooded with results. And so much of those results will not pertain to you AT ALL. Divorce and family law is different in every state. But Googling results does not necessarily tell you that. People get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information online. I’ve learned that lawyers often have really good blogs with helpful content, but our blogs do not end up on page 1 of a Google search. So if you’re reading this, certainly check out the rest of my blog. But head over to another Chicago divorce attorney’s blog that I think is super informative, https://rdklegal.com/blog/. Attorney Russell Knight churns out content quite frequently. And I’m all for boosting another attorney’s work that can help demystify the legal process.

Can law firms operate without having a law office?

When I was an attorney at various family law firms, I rarely met with my clients in my office. There just wasn’t a need for a client to travel to my office in order for me to work with them. I called them. We emailed a lot. We met at court before and after any court appearances.

When I formed my own solo practice, I wondered, “Why do family law firms still have physical offices when most of what we do with clients can be done remotely?”

Maybe law firms have formal physical law offices because that is as it has always been. The stereotypical image of a lawyer is someone standing in front of a row of law books, crossing their arms in front of them and looking serious. And what is true is that the legal profession does not accept change very quickly.

But you know who pays for law offices? Those beautiful offices with leather chairs and mahogany furniture? Ultimately, the client does.

law library
Who ends up paying for a law office? The client does.

If it’s not necessary for a law firm to have a law office, and if the cost of having a law office is something the clients end up paying for, let’s get with the times and operate in a more streamlined way.

Lawyers are providing a service to their clients. Who else provides services? Plumbers, electricians, teachers. You get the idea. Unless you need to buy a product from these service professionals, they do not need public offices.

However, if you want to meet with them, you can. You can meet with an attorney in an agreed-upon location. And how much more convenient is it to meet with your attorney in an area closer to you? 

Driving in an urban area can be hard to do, costly, and there may be a large distance between you and the law office. Or maybe there is a short distance but the travel time is still big (especially during rush hour commutes).

My law firm is called Kubik Legal. It is a family law firm so many of our clients have younger children. We know that you have familial obligations and have taken this into consideration regarding how we work with our clients.

Because we don’t have an office, we don’t have office hours! So we’ll work with your time schedule when we represent you. Whenever we can, we’ll work in a way that you prefer to communicate.

When you work with a lawyer, you will develop a professional relationship with them. So much of what we do involves communication. And in today’s technology-driven world, we can communicate in different ways. The idea that a legal client has to always drive into a law office in order to meet with their lawyer is outdated. Plus, it’s probably going to cost a legal client more when they work with a law firm who operates in this way. Consider working with Kubik Legal. We are an efficient and effective law firm.

Introducing Kubik Legal

Kubik Legal Logo and Information

This month I decided to become a solo practitioner practicing family law in Cook County, Will County, Kankakee County and Grundy County, Illinois. Introducing Kubik Legal! https://kubiklegal.com

It’s time that I’m my own boss. Also, I know I can do this. I can excel at having my own law firm.

Many people stay in one profession their entire lives. I have jumped career tracks more than once.

But each jump, each experience, is going to play a role in how I operate my law firm. In how I work with clients. In how I practice law.

I’ve worked at law firms that barely use technology, to those that over-use technology. There is a better way, and my approach is to use technology in a way that makes my practice beneficial for both the client and for me.

The legal world is slow to change. The technology world changes rapidly. People use technology in their everyday lives and have the expectation that this lifestyle caries over when working with lawyers. Sadly, it does not.

old flip phone

Most family lawyers practice in a way that has been the same for years. I was shocked to witness this. Can you imagine using a cell phone that hasn’t changed in 20 years? (Even flip phones have evolved within this time frame.) Even if you say that the legal process has not changed, the tools we use to communicate have. And lawyers are most certainly in the field of communication!

Yet many lawyers won’t grow, or adapt. I believe this is a disservice to clients. It’s also a way to NOT focus on their needs, or what they want to achieve by hiring you.

I look forward to taking a different path with my own law firm. For more information on Kubik Legal, click here.

A plain language post about cryptojacking (that anyone can understand)

cryptojacking

What is cryptojacking?

Current technology trends and buzzwords include bitcoin, blockchain, artificial intelligence, etc. It can be overwhelming to keep up; one can be intimidated by the tech lingo. I’ve written about tech before and try to explain it in a way that is simple and understandable.

One article I wrote in this plain-language style was about fog computing.

I like to teach lawyers about technology, especially technology that is new and relatively unknown to the masses. So with this in mind, here is what lawyers should know about cryptojacking…

What is cryptojacking?
Think of it as hijacking your computer. To understand cryptojacking in a comparative way, think about when your car is running and you’re parked in neutral. Your engine is running but you’re not revving it.

You wouldn’t rev the engine while in neutral because it doesn’t make sense. You’re in neutral.

Now imagine that a person wearing a ski mask comes along, jumps into your car and and stomps on your gas pedal (I know this is weird …just hang with me for a bit). The act of pushing down on the gas pedal revs your car’s engine. Additionally, you don’t know who that someone is and you have not consented to this action. Why is this intruder revving your car engine? He or she has hooked your car’s engine to a generator! The bandit wants to rev the engine so that they can steal power.

Another comparison was given by my friend, attorney Marc Whipple (his insightful blog is here). Marc said the principle behind cryptojacking is similar to when somebody parks outside your house and uses your WiFi. Then you wonder why your router is so slow and/or get notices you’re downloading pirated stuff.

This basic theft/tort principle of someone stealing something without your consent is the principle behind cryptojacking. The bandit is stealing your computer’s resources and your electricity.

Consider this: You are web surfing and your computer is operating as it normally does. Upon visiting a particular website, your computer’s hard drive suddenly maxes out at 100% capacity. You don’t know why your computer maxed out. And although you may hear your computer whirling and grinding, you may not be aware that the excess computing power of your computer is being used without your permission. That, my friends, is cryptojacking.

Your computer is being used to mine a cryptocurrency for an unknown person who is going to make real money off of this transaction.

Cryptocurrencies + hijacking = cryptojacking.

When is cryptojacking done?
Whenever a person goes to a webpage that has the cryptojacking code on it. This code is normally in the form of a JavaScript (js) file, which is an extremely common web file. JavaScript is everywhere online, and is considered one of the three languages that all web developers must learn. So we can’t get rid of JavaScript. And although web developers can include these files on their own websites, other people can attack the website and maliciously insert code into the webpage to active a cryptojacking. The original site’s owners may be unaware that this has happened!

In that case, you don’t know who is cryptojacking your computer and neither does the website’s owner!

Why is cryptojacking happening?
To make money for whoever has hijacked your computer. The money is made by mining digital cryptocurrencies at your expense. And you pay for it by increased electricity bills as well as using (without your consent) your computer’s hard drive. Hard drives are mechanical and wear out over time. Again, think back to revving your car engine. A little rev may not hurt the car considerably but extended use of the engine may cause it to be overheated. This is the same for cryptojacked websites… the longer you are on them, the more money the hijacker is making and the hotter your computer, and even your phone, gets.

As cybersecurity expert Scott Hemle explains, when your computer is being cryptojacked, you are inadvertently financing a criminal gang.

We are seeing a surge in cryptojacked websites for many reasons. The cryptocurrency that is most commonly being mined is called Monero, and it is hard to detect who is behind the cryptojacking when this type of currency is being mined. Simply put, it is hard to find the bad guys.

Who is installing the cryptojacking code on a website?
Who knows! As explained above, it is hard to find the attackers in this scheme. The important thing to remember is that the malicious code can be installed without the website owner’s knowledge. So you can’t blame the owner of the website. Shift of liability?

How do you know if a website has cryptojacking on it? I’ll give a step-by-step but it is only for people using a PC that has Windows and Chrome as their browser.

1. Open up your task manager by doing any one of the following:
a. Right-click the Taskbar and click on Task Manager or
b. Open Start, do a search for Task Manager and click the result or
c. Use the Ctrl + Shift + Esc keyboard shortcut or
d. Use the Ctrl + Alt + Del keyboard shortcut and click on Task Manager

2. Click on the Performance tab and note the CPU percentages. Probably less than 100%. Also, notice how the chart to the right is probably jumping up and down but not at constant 100% utilization.

3. Find a webpage that has been cryptojacked. To date thousands of websites have had the JavaScript code in them that cryptojacks a computer. One long-standing example can be seen on http://www.ronpaul.com

cryptojacking

Look for a continuous 100% CPU reading. Your computer is being cryptojacked.

4. When you are on that cryptojacked site,
a. Take a look at your Task Manager and see that the CPU % is peaked, and may be constantly at 100% (look at the chart to easily see this) = JACKED!!!

How (2) do you protect yourself from having your computer by cryptojacked?
1. Install browser extensions to stop the execution of the code. Some popular ones are
a. No Coin
b. minerBlock
c. ublock
d. Adblock Plus

To find these extensions, just do a Google search for them.

How(3) do you remove the malicious cryptomining code from your website?
1. First find the person who has control over your website. If you’re a solo or small, that may be you (congrats on more non-billable-hour work). If you’re lucky enough to have an in-house IT person, call them, thank them, buy them a coffee and nicely ask them if they know about cryptojacking. If they do not, don’t insult them. Cryptojacking is a new thing and not yet widely known. Show them this blog and politely say, “I think our firm’s website may have been cryptojacked.”

2. Then read this page on what to do. Simply put, you need to remove the JS file that is probably called “coinhive.min.js”.

Some additional things lawyers need to consider:
1. All kinds of “computers” can be cryptojacked. Not just your desktop or laptop, but also you smart phone! And yes it affects Macs and PCs.

2. Can you opt-out of being cryptojacked? Short answer- no. You’re probably unaware that either your site has been affected or your computer has been hijacked.

3. Is bitcoin mining the same thing as cryptojacking? No. Words matter here. Bitcoin mining involves using computers to mine digital currency but it is not operating in an unknown way. Cryptojacking is like a trespass to chattel. It’s not on the up-and-up. It also probably violates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), as pointed about by attorney Vince Polley.

cryptojacking violation

Cryptojacking likely violates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

4. To date, there are over 100 law firms that are running JavaScript files that cryptojack the computers of people who visit their site. How do I know this? I went to https://publicwww.com/ and searched by “coinhive.min.js” “law firm”

5. Other than understanding that YOUR firm’s website may cryptojack visitors (also known as potential clients), people who have been cryptojacked may want to file suit. It will be hard to find the attackers, prove damages, and where the claim falls (trespass to chattels, neglience?), but for those lawyers focusing on cybersecurity, be aware that cryptojacking will increase.

If you want to learn more, here are some resources
1. A good video explaining cryptocurrencies

2. A video of an interview with Scott Helme about the government sites that were cryptojacking visitors this year

3. For the technical bits, look at Troy Mursch’s work with cryptojacking here and follow him on Twitter @bad_packets.

Good luck, and contact me if you have any questions sarakubikphd@gmail.com, or on Twitter @sarakubik. And if I e-mail your firm and tell you your website’s been cryptojacked, please look into this. So far, I’ve contacted two law firms and neither has fixed the problem. Their site still cryptojacks you when you visit them. Not good!

Building my first chatbot

I am studying for the bar exam.

It is not fun.

I have learned that when I need to do something I really do not want to do, to do that awful something in stages. And to reward mysellyf with each mini-finish.

So my reward for each legal chapter I complete is to work on building a chatbot. Seriously. Really. Stop laughing.

I am using a chatbot builder through the company called Motion.ai. But it is not easy. And the examples and documentation are skeletal at best. This company is new and the technology is new.

My goal for this first chatbot is for it to give an estimation of a child support amount. The chatbot user would not have a court order yet, nor would they have already talked to an attorney. They would not need to input any confidential or identifiable information either. 

In many states, child support is based upon a formula. But it’s not always straightforward. Texas seems to have one of the simpler formulas (Michigan’s is anything but simple)…. so I started here.

  1. The Texas Code that explains, in writing, how to calculate child support
  2. A web page on the Texas Attorney General’s website that is called a calculator

The problem with the Texas Code is it is legal writing and very, very long. You most definitely have to hire a lawyer to go through the Texas Code to give you your child support amount.

The web page calculator is pretty straightforward, but you need to have a child support order already. So in this case, you’ve already been to court and are NOW using a calculator? Weird. Confusing.

My chatbot was made to be used by either a non-custodial or custodial parent. It does not include every possible way to calculate child support. But it does give a person a beginning value. And then, the chatbot advises that the parent contact an attorney.

That is how I envision chatbots to work for lawyers. As an entry point. Not as a replacement.

To see my Texas child support chatbot,  click on the floating image on the right side of the screen that says “Bot”.