Monday, March 31, 2008

Facebook gay ads

I've read about how social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace help direct advertising to the right audiences. So I'm a little worried that Facebook keeps showing me this ad.
Am I gay and I just didn't know it? Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. I'm not as good looking as these guys either. Uh oh. Does saying that make me gay? This just keeps getting more troubling. :-)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Traffic Court continues to grow

This past week our traffic court website hit a new high. Monday had over 3200 visits and Tuesday was just short of that. Both days had more than 3000 unique visitors (different people using the site - some people visit twice in one day). The site is now seeing consistently more than 60,000 visits a month, with roughly 55,000 unique visitors.

We are close to finishing the Ohio Municipal Courts, which handle most of the traffic cases there. So far Hamilton Municipal Court seems to be the busiest court page there, but I'd guess some others may catch up and pass them over time.

Saratoga vs. Albany on Google

I just created a new page on the firm website about DWI in Saratoga. This got me interested in how often the term "Saratoga" is searched on Google. Below is an image from Google Trends, showing the relative search volume, as compared to Albany. Albany gets consistently more searches.

The reason I'm posting this is that I noticed a seasonal pattern that should not be surprising. Searches for Saratoga peak in July and August, which coincides quite nicely with the racing season. For me this stuff is fascinating. That probably makes me a geek. If only that were the only reason. ☺

Thursday, March 27, 2008

AdWords and AdSense Customer Support: Are Dark Clouds Moving in Over Google

I've written in the past about problems with AdWords customer support, and now I'm having problems with AdSense combined with AdWords.

For those who don't know, AdWords is a service Google offers where users can put ads up on the internet. The most prominent way you see these ads is when you do a search on Google. On the right side and sometimes on the top, you see ads called "Sponsored Links." You can also have your ads display for search results from websites that use a Google search box, and on "content" pages on websites as well. Sites that wish to have such ads can host them through Google's AdSense service. We do this on our traffic court directory. When someone clicks on an ad, the advertiser pays something to Google, and the site owners gets something like half of that money.

Despite occasional complaints, I have generally been very happy with both AdWords and AdSense and recommend both. From my experience, AdWords is the most effective form of paid advertising there is. I've used TV, radio, newspapers, other print publications, and yellow pages. AdSense has been an easy way to generate revenue. For our traffic court website, it is not the most valuable advertising. Directly selling ads to attorneys is more valuable, but it takes significant effort to find advertisers. In places where we do not have advertisers, AdSense ads are somewhat easier and still generate decent revenue. Both AdWords and AdSense have some learning curve to use them effectively, but it's well worth the investment.

Years ago when I first started advertising on Google AdWords, I created an account with an old e-mail address. For no particular reason I continue to use that account for AdSense, even though I stopped using it for AdWords. Recently AdSense has been prompting me to migrate my account to a gmail address. When I try to do so, it indicates that I can't because of something related to my old e-mail address. Thus ensued a lengthy exchange with "support" for both AdSense and then AdWords. Excerpts below, supplemented by comments from me today IN ALLCAPS.


Subject: Moving to my gmail address
Date: Fri, 14 Mar 2008 08:51:47 -0700

When I log into AdSense it prompts me to merge into my Google Account. I enter my gmail address and password, and then get this message:

"A user with the email you specified already exists Please select a different Google Account login to access this account."

I tried logging into AdSense with my gmail address and it says there's no account.



Hi Warren,

Thanks for your email. I'll be happy to help you update your AdSense login to

As is associated with your AdWords account, I have created a temporary login for your AdSense account -

You need to use this special URL to login the first time: ...

Once you have created your password, you would be able to login to your AdSense account immediately at:
Password: The newly created password

Once you login to your AdSense account using this email address, you can update this temporary login to using the following instructions.


This should successfully update your AdSense login to

If you are unable to access your account using your original login or have any trouble transitioning your account, please reply directly to this email.

For additional questions, I'd encourage you to visit the AdSense Help Center ( ) or the official AdSense blog ( ). Alternatively, feel free to post your question on the AdSense Help Forum ( ).

Sincerely, Dia
The Google AdSense Team


... I got a little further and then got this message:

"Sorry, a Gmail address is not allowed to be the primary address of this account. "

Could you guys find some way to make this a little easier? Look. I've got an account -- I use it for lots of stuff .... Can you just make my AdSense account work with my gmail account??



Hi Warren,

Thanks for your email.

Please write back to us with the password that you created for your temporary login ( and your Google account password for

Once I receive your response, I'll update your AdSense login to

Dia The Google AdSense Team


I don't have an account named

My account (as you should see from this message) is

Please confirm that you are paying attention to my situation.

Thanks, Warren

[NOW 3/17]

Hi Warren,

Thanks for your response. I apologize for the miscommunication in my previous email.

In order to help you update your AdSense login to, please reply to this email with the password your created for the temporary login -, and your Google account password. I can then make the change in your AdSense account.

Thanks for your patience.

Sincerely, Dia
The Google AdSense Team


The password for my account is [OMITTED]

Please change my warren - at - AdSense account over to

Thanks, Warren


Hi Warren,

Thanks for your response. I've updated our system to allow you to change the login.

Please login to your AdSense account with username '' and password '[OMITTED]'. Once you have logged in, please follow the steps to migrate your AdSense login to

If you would like me to go through this process for you, please send me your Google account password associated with I will then update your account.

Sincerely, Dia
The Google AdSense Team


I got this message:

"A user with the email you specified already exists Please select a different Google Account login to access this account."

This is the same problem I had in the first place. Would you please forward my problem to a supervisor?

It's very frustrating to have this problem mishandled. It's been going on for a week. My website earns Google about $X/month, and I spend around $X/month on AdWords. That puts me up around $XX,000/year or more. Maybe Google should recognize I'm worth having a $50/hour employee take a look at the problem for a half-hour.



Hi Warren,

Thanks for writing in. Dia forwarded your email to me and asked that I take a look at your account.

I've searched our system and found that you have two AdWords accounts and one AdSense account.

1. Customer ID 638...., with payee name 'The Redlich Law Firm' is associated with the email address This is a separate AdWords account.
2. Customer ID 139...., with payee name Warren Redlich is associated with the email address warren - AT - This AdWords account is also linked to an AdSense account with the same login.

I understand that you'd like us to update the login for your AdSense account to However as this AdSense account is already associated with another AdWords account, we're unable to update the login to Our system doesn't allow two AdWords accounts to have the same login email address.

If you'd like to close your AdWords account with customer ID 638.... or change the login for this account to a different email address, then we can update the login for your second account to

Please let us know if you'd like to do this and I'll give you further instructions on how to proceed.

Sincerely, Tony
The Google AdSense Team


Please close the AdWords account associated with warren -AT- I thought I closed that years ago. Once it's closed, please transfer my warren --AT-- AdSense account to

Thanks, Warren


Hello Warren,

Thank you for your email. With reference to the correspondence you have had with the Google AdSense team, we are sorry to hear that you wish to close your AdWords account (login ID warren -AT- However, I wish to inform you that we cannot cancel your AdWords account from our end. You'll have to log in to your account and cancel it yourself.



I just don't understand what is going on with Google these days. I logged into my AdWords account and it shows that it's already canceled.

"Account Cancellation This account is cancelled. Warning This account has been cancelled. The ads in this account are not running. All other account activity has been stopped. Any edits you make here will take effect only if you reactivate the account. "

Why don't you guys check my account before you send me these e-mails.

Can you please bring this issue to the attention of a supervisor? As I said before during my problems with the AdSense team:

> > It's very frustrating to have this problem mishandled. It's been going
> > on for a week. My website earns Google about $X/month, and I spend
> > around $X/month on AdWords. That puts me up around $XX,000/year or
> > more. Maybe Google should recognize I'm worth having a $50/hour
> > employee take a look at the problem for a half-hour.

We're going on 2 weeks of this nonsense. Get someone working on this who knows what they're doing and is willing to put the time in to get it right!!

[3/27 - TODAY]

Hello Warren,

Thank you for writing us. I understand that you have already canceled your AdWords account (login ID warren -AT, and I sincerely apologize for any frustration or confusion that my last email may have caused. I wish to confirm that your AdWords account associated with the login ID warren -AT- was canceled on January 3, 2006.

Your account with login ID is still active.

Please reply directly to this email for any further information on AdWords that you may require. Else, please reply to any email by the AdSense team or Dia to get more information on your AdSense account, and how you can link warren -AT- AdSense account to AdWords account.


Attn: Tony

In an e-mail on 3/20, you told me to contact AdWords to get my AdWords account for warren -AT- I checked with Adwords support (see below) and then checked my account and found (as I thought) that I had already canceled the warren -at- AdWords account.

Since it appears you are unable to resolve this problem, please forward my message to a supervisor.

Frankly, I am disgusted by the quality of customer support on this. You should be too.




This is just one more example of the problems in large corporations and how they treat regular people. Here I am, a regular customer, and you would think at the levels I spend, a substantial one. I know I'm not Coke or Pepsi, but if I'm generating five-figure revenue per year or more for them, isn't it worth spending $25-50 in labor to resolve the problem. Instead, they've got me bouncing back and forth for two weeks.

This doesn't mean I'm leaving for another company. Overall AdWords and AdSense are better than the alternatives, who probably have crappy customer service too. However, I am prone to some degree of customer loyalty. This experience greatly diminishes that feeling. Sooner or later I will probably find a decent banner ad provider for the website and will dump AdSense. I may reduce my spending on AdWords as well.

These negative experiences suggest that Google is losing touch with its "Don't Be Evil" motto. Not that anything here is evil, but it's still a long way from what you would think the company's founders wanted in how their company would treat people.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Trial Lawyers and the Feeling of Victory

The life of a trial lawyer has its peaks and valleys. I just heard the blessed words "Not Guilty" from a jury, and that is one of the peaks. Sort of.

I wrote some time ago about representing the innocent client. Since that time I have found myself with more and more of my criminal defense clients who I believe are innocent. When I started I figured I'd mostly be defending guilty people and that has changed. Maybe it's my perspective, but I really think more innocents are being prosecuted. I can't explain why.

In my career as a trial lawyer, I have won dozens of jury verdicts. Most were in personal injury cases as a defense lawyer for an insurance company. More recently I have won some personal injury cases as the plaintiff's lawyer, and some Not Guilty verdicts as a criminal defense lawyer.

The feeling of victory is very different. As an insurance defense lawyer, a win is exciting but not necessarily fulfilling. It's like winning a game. Your money isn't at stake and your client's money isn't on the line either (I represented the insurance company's customers). It's really the insurance company's money, and they've got about $20 billion lying around.

Winning a personal injury trial as a plaintiff's lawyer is very different. Both the attorney and the client have a significant stake. In my practice it's not unusual to put $5K or even $10K in a case. In a couple of cases I have "invested" over $20K. And when you win, there can be a windfall. If you win a $100K verdict, that means a fee in the ballpark of $30K (plus reimbursement of your $5K investment). Especially in the early days of my practice, that was a lot of money hanging out there. Even now, with our practice steady and growing, an additional $30K would be a big chunk of change. I struggle to describe the feeling of winning a plaintiff's personal injury case. The best I can put it into words is that it's very exciting.

Winning a criminal defense trial is something completely different. The lawyer has no real money at stake - at least if he's wise and got paid up front. I'm serious about that caveat by the way. If you're expecting the client to pay you later, and he gets prison time, that money's going to be a long time coming.

It's the defendant who has something at stake in a criminal case, and it's mostly not about money. It's about freedom, reputation, having or not having a criminal record, etc. For some it can be about their immigration status, which can be a really big deal that most Americans have trouble comprehending. As a lawyer who cares about his clients, the idea of losing a criminal trial can be very stressful.

There is one key difference though. In some of our cases we believe our clients are innocent, and in others we are pretty sure they're guilty. When a guilty client loses at trial, you still feel bad because you wanted to win, but you're not going to lose sleep about a guilty person losing. Winning such a trial feels good, like you did a good job. But it's not much more than that.

Losing a trial with an innocent defendant is probably my greatest fear. Even winning I'm having trouble sleeping tonight, as I write at 1:22 am. The feeling of victory in such a case is not excitement. My biggest feeling was relief.

I have to say, looking back on the OJ Simpson trial, I'm pretty sure Johnnie Cochrane believed OJ was innocent. He didn't look thrilled when he heard the verdict. He looked relieved. Maybe I'm starting to understand. I have a long way to go.

It was a one-day trial and my body aches. In some ways it's an athletic endeavor. You have to maintain your concentration for lengthy periods with unpredictable breaks. Since it's common to stand when making an objection, you're sitting on the edge of your chair, weight partially on your toes, ready to pop up when you hear something of concern. And of course, lawyers wear uncomfortable shoes on trial. I'm known for wearing sandals most of the time, but not in front of a jury. I have my limits.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Rhode Island Traffic Courts

We have completed the traffic courts in Rhode Island section of our traffic court directory site. Well, we think so anyway. At first we missed some municipal courts, but we added them recently and are pretty sure we got them all.

So far the busiest page in Rhode Island is the Rhode Island Traffic Court page. It seems like many (but not all) traffic cases are handled in this specialized court. Municipal courts also handle them. Providence Superior Court is next, with Kent Superior Court coming in third. We'll see if the municipal courts in the state start getting more traffic.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Why Toyota Is Annoying

I've been thinking about getting a new car. My current car, a 2002 Audi A4 is getting too small. There's not enough legroom in the rear for my daughter, due to the booster seat. This is another reason government regulation pushes people into larger vehicles, but I digress. I'd have her in a booster seat anyway.

I think I like the Toyota RAV4. I know what I want -- V6, 4WD, 3rd row seat, and a factory installed DVD player. I went to the Toyota website and tried to "build" the vehicle I want.

You can't always get what you want (yes, that's from the Rolling Stones - Can't Get No Satisfaction - unless you prefer the Devo version). When you go through this "build" feature on the Toyota website, the first thing you enter is your zip code. This controls what choices are available to you.

Here are the option packages available on the Limited V6 4x4 here in the Albany area:

And here's the same for Cleveland Ohio:

Why do people in Cleveland get 5 choices while we in Albany get only 1 choice? I could ask the second question - why can't I get one without any option packages? And doesn't that mean the "MSRP" number is really incorrect? But I want to stick with the first one. It is disturbing that Toyota would discriminate against our region like this (or any other region). If I'm ordering a car built for me at the factory, why wouldn't Toyota want me to be able to choose exactly what I want? I just don't get it. Charge me a custom design fee or something if you have to.

When my wife bought a Mazda CX-9, we had a lot better array of choices. I'm not happy with the dealer-installed DVD we got and I really want a factory-install DVD player for the kids on my next car. Looks like I might be ordering a Mazda. Bugs me because I'd rather have the RAV4, but Toyota's system is too frustrating.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spitzer and Prostitution Policy

I have often been critical on my other blog about overzealous prosecutors. Most prosecutors are reasonable, but there are a few that seem to take a "holier than thou" attitude. This is the biggest reason why some are happy to see Eliot Spitzer's fall.

But there's a larger lesson about government policy. In most of the United States, prostitution is illegal. For some reason this doesn't seem to stop large numbers of women from selling sex and large numbers of men from buying. That, of course, is because prohibitions don't work. I would say prohibitions cause more problems than they solve, but they don't solve any.

Spitzer's case points to a few of the problems created. The biggest general problem is corruption. This is a broad problem. The simplest form of corruption is the tendency for those who enforce the prohibition to violate it themselves. This was quite common during alcohol prohibition. With drugs, we have seen far too many instances where police have been caught in the drug trade. As a lawyer I've had a few clients in the adult entertainment industry. They consistently tell me that cops are among the most frequent customers.

To be clear, I am NOT saying that all cops and prosecutors violate these laws. I am saying that their positions give them detailed knowledge about the prohibited industries and also subject them more frequently to temptation, and so it is natural that some would succumb.

Another form of corruption results from the hidden nature of the business. Prohibiting prostitution leads those in the business to do other unsavory things, such as hiding their transactions (money laundering and tax evasion) and human trafficking. Alcohol prohibition caused similar problems, and the drug war does so now.

As my friends at Law Enforcement Against Prohibition would say, you can't control something by making it illegal. What we might really want to do is control and regulate the issue of concern (alcohol, prostitution, drugs, gambling, etc.). In parts of Nevada prostitution is legal, and regulated. While I'm sure there are problems with that as well, prostitution happens whether it's legal or not. But the corruption aspect is essentially absent in Nevada.

Prohibition failed in this country, and we figured it out with regard to alcohol in 1933. Yet for some reason we persistently refuse to apply the lesson elsewhere.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Truck Accident cases in Albany NY

Someone suggested we add a truck accident page to our website, so I did that today. Accident cases involving tractor-trailers are typically higher-value cases, due to higher insurance coverage and the severity of the injuries. Fortunately they are also rare.

I revised some other pages on the personal injury section of the website while I was doing that. The neatest thing now is I added a map in satellite image form. That's thanks to Google Maps, and the image is linked to that site. Then I discovered a really cool feature they now have on their maps -- a street view. It works for us. Looking at the Google streetviewdoes indeed show our building.

Note a minor weakness in their mapping (a problem with other sites as well). Our building is 255 Washington Avenue Extension, but mapping that gives you the wrong location -- too far west. Mapping 225 Washington Ave. Ext. puts it right on our building.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Traffic Court News

Our traffic court directory is doing well. The Alexa "rank" is approaching #600,000 (i.e. the 600,000th busiest site on the web). By comparison our law firm site is ranked over 2,000,000. Alexa is not perfect, but it's in the ballpark. Within the US the site is now within the top 100,000 websites.

We've added a lot of traffic courts in Ohio. So far not many people are going to the Cincinnati Traffic Court page, but that will probably pick up. We also have substantial progress with Virginia traffic courts, which is now the third busiest state page on the site.

We've revised the underlying code to enhance security along with making our work on administration of the site easier. We are working on the "lawyer's club" feature, and hope to have that up and running within a few months.

We now have well over 2000 courts in the database with courts in 11 states. We have several attorney advertisers and make substantial revenue from Google ads as well. We actually had a profit for 2007 (though not much), and we are optimistic about the future of the website.