• A Problematic Interface: Florida State University’s College of Medicine Website

    I was assigned a task by my IT project instructor to review a Florida State University affiliated website and to provide feedback on what is wrong with the user interface and what can be done to improve it. After some research, I approached the College of Medicine’s website and noticed that the user interface utilizes an outdated web interface developed by FSU from 2012 to 2016. If the College of Medicine’s website were to be with the main FSU website, then users could better navigate the site and find content that they were looking for.

    FSU Website Screenshot 2018

    Figure 1: Screenshot of the main Florida State University website (Feburary 2018)

    Justification and Explanation

    The main FSU website contains a web interface that utilizes responsive web design, the ability for a webpage to adapt its appearance based on the screen resolution of the viewing device, using HTML and CSS. Upon further inspection of the source code of the FSU College of Medicine’s website, which is located at https://med.fsu.edu, a web developer can conclude that the site does not utilize responsive design techniques unlike the main FSU website at https://fsu.edu.

    FSU College of Medicine Website Screenshot 2018

    Figure 2: Screenshot of the Florida State University College of Medicine website. (Feburary 2018)

    To a prospective medical school student, the differences between the UI of the medical school site and the main institution site can be somewhat confusing. That said, I do think that most computer literate users should be able to navigate the College of Medicine’s website without major issues.

    It would be helpful to the users if all websites affiliated with the university utilize the same responsive interface so that it can be easy for web users to navigate the website.

  • The Benefits of Programming Shortcuts: Arrays and Loops

    So recently, I’ve been writing simple Java programs to prepare myself for my Java programming course. I am currently learning Java using an online Lynda.com course called Learning Java. I also wanted to test the syntax highlighting of my Jekyll theme, so here goes nothing.

    So lets say you want to write a program that uses user input to calculate the sum of the prices of five grocery items. You could do this.

    import java.util.Scanner;
    
    public class GroceryList 
    {
    
        public static void main(String[] args) 
        {
    
            double price1 = 0;
            double price2 = 0;
            double price3 = 0;
            double price4 = 0;
            double price5 = 0;
            double total = 0;
    
            Scanner in = new Scanner(System.in);
            System.out.println("Enter five prices: ");
            price1 = in.NextDouble();
            price2 = in.NextDouble();
            price3 = in.NextDouble();
            price4 = in.NextDouble();
            price5 = in.NextDouble();
            total = price1 + price2 + price3 + price4 + price5;
            System.out.printf("The total for all five items is $%5.2f.", total);
    
    
        }
    }
    

    While your program should run fine without errors, there is a better way to solve the problem. One could use an array to store all of the price values into one array variable and then use a for loop to reuse the code associated with assigning the input values to the price[] array variable.

    import java.util.Scanner;
    
    public class GroceryList 
    {
    
        public static void main(String[] args) 
        {
            // create an array with five array indexes (from 0 to 4)
            double[] prices =  new double[5];
            double total = 0; // initally assigned "total" to 0 due to a syntax error.
    
            Scanner in = new Scanner(System.in);
            System.out.println("Enter five prices: ");
    
    
            // we could type out price[x] five times, but that wouldn't be fun. Lets use a for loop.
            for (int i = 0; i <= 4; i++){
                prices[i] = in.nextDouble();
                total += prices[i]; // add prices[i] to total value, because the total is the sum of all of the prices.
            }
            System.out.printf("The total for all five items is $%5.2f.", total);
    
    
        }
    }
    

    Just wanted to share and test out syntax highlighting for Jekyll.

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

    The code is licensed under the MIT License.

  • Cryptojacking Explained

    So a few months ago, a service called Coinhive appeared on various websites. For those who are not familiar, Coinhive is a service that allows websites to integrate JavaScript cryptocurrency miners into their webpages so that the resources of client devices could be used to generate cryptocurrency. The problem with these cryptocurrency miners is that certain websites would allow the execution of these scripts without the consent or knowledge of users.

    Now before we continue on with this explanation I would like to share my opinion. Websites should not abuse the client’s RAM and CPU without the informed consent of the end user. Misusing these cryptocurrency scripts is an easy way to break the trust of a site’s users.

    So a cryptominer script gets written on a website, and when the script is executed, it utilizes the client’s (end user’s) computer resources to generate cryptocurrency. Now it is important to note that Coinhive warned website developers that it is their (webmaster) responsibility to inform their users of the cryptocurrency scripts being used on the page. However, some sites have failed to notify their users that their CPU/RAM is being used to make cryptocurrency.

    For those who are concerned with cryptocurrency scripts, there are ways to block it. Below is a list containing two extensions that can block cryptominer scripts. You can do an internet search for the term using your favorite search engine. I provided links to the GitHub project pages if you would like to visit them.

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

  • Nobody Deserves Nice Things

    So there is this content creator on YouTube by the name of Riley Dennis who makes videos about politics, feminism, and social justice issues. For the most part, I do not care for Riley’s content. Normally, I would just ignore the temptation to make a response because many content creators on YouTube and on blogs have made response videos and blog posts about her but this video that she made really ticked me off to the point of where I just had to make a response post to her. I will leave her original video in the sources section (at the bottom of this blog post). I do not condone harassment and please do not harass the content creator that I am making a response to. Now here we go…

    So Riley made a video on why she thinks that poor people are entitled to nice things regardless of their financial situation. I take issue of the fact that Riley doesn’t seem to understand an important concept in personal finance. I will get to that later in my response.

    Alright, here’s the thing. I have this controversial opinion that poor people deserve nice things every once in a while. I think that poor people don’t have to be constantly suffering and struggling. I don’t know why that’s controversial, but here we are.

    Ok, as a person who was raised in a single parent household, while I can sympathize with the struggles that low-income individuals face in America, I cannot for the life of me believe that anyone is entitled to nice things once in a while. Nobody is entitled to the luxuries that Riley describes in her video. When she says “poor people deserve nice things once in a while”, I believe she is referring to entitlement. A person earns money to buy goods and services through providing goods and services that have marketplace value.

    You’ve probably seen these graphics from Fox News that everyone made fun of a few years ago where they were saying that poor people aren’t “really” poor if they have refrigerators and microwaves.

    While having a refrigerator or microwave could make life easier, they are not an essential for survival. As for the ‘not really “poor”’ argument, I understand that people’s financial situations can change, therefore a person making a middle-income living may struggle financially in the near future.

    More recently, you may have heard of bills being proposed to stop poor people from spending food stamp money on soda, fast food, steak, lobster, all that kind of stuff…

    I haven’t heard of such legislation until recently. I do think that these bills have some merit behind them. The purpose of these bills is to minimize the amount of taxpayer money being misused by welfare recipients. I will get to the whole “stopping people from spending food stamp money on soda” stuff later.

    To me, it seems like all of this stuff kind of stems from like two ideas; the first is that poor people have to be in a constant state of suffering to really be poor.

    Nobody is stating that one has to be constantly suffering to be poor. To be poor, a person has to earn an income that is limited to the point where paying for necessities and essentials becomes a challenge. Notice how I didn’t say constantly suffering. Suffering is subjective and can vary widely from individual. That said, I do care about the emotional well-being of low-income individuals. I just don’t like how Riley’s use of virtue signaling gives some people the impression that anyone who disagrees with Riley automatically hates poor people.

    The second part of this is that people think they’re entitled to morally dictate the lives of welfare recipients because technically they are being paid with taxpayer money….

    You are dealing with other people’s money being used as a form of welfare. Welfare is welfare and not work income. The government has a duty to ensure that taxpayer money is not being misused by welfare recipients because once you deal with taxpayer money, you would then have to consider how taxpayers would feel about how their money is being handled. I do think it is fair for the government to make restrictions on how welfare money should be spent.

    But even if someone has a cheap smartphone, an old car, and a refrigerator, it’s not like they’re suddenly middle-class or wealthy. You can have all of those things and still have a job that barely pays enough to cover your rent.

    If a person has a job that barely pays their rent, then it is wise for that person to reconsider that current job and look for employment elsewhere that provides a more stable paycheck. A person’s professional life are essentially decisions that are made by the individual. While there may be outside factors that can impact one’s income, a person’s imitative and motivation are the biggest factor to finding gainful employment. By no means am I saying that finding gainful employment is easy. What I am saying is that people make choices and that people can get out of tough financial situations if they choose to make different choices.

    And if people wanna splurge on some things using their very limited income, they have every right to do that. If someone manages to spend less money on certain things so that they can afford a nicer car or a nicer smartphone, that’s up to them.

    I agree with the second sentence. People should be free to make their own financial choices. That said, just because one has the freedom to make poor decisions, doesn’t mean that one should make those poor decisions. It seems that Riley is arguing that its OK for poor people to spend their limited finances on luxuries. In personal finance, there are wants and needs. It is generally advised to prioritize needs over wants since needs are essential to survival unlike wants. If a person has limited resources, then they most likely don’t have the money to afford wants. If that is the case, it would be poor financial management to spend money on wants over needs. This is honestly basic personal finance. I cannot believe a person with a college education does not understand the importance of prioritizing needs over wants. Unbelievable.

    People regardless of their income level, deserve to feel joy sometimes. People deserve to relax and have some time to themselves.

    I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to feel happiness, but that should not come at the expense of financial responsibility. Some argue that while we have right to pursue happiness, that does not mean we are guaranteed happiness. Some people are privileged in a way that allows them to enjoy happiness more than someone without that privilege. I’m not saying that its fair, but that’s how the system works. I would also like to make a counterargument stating that one does not need to spend money in order to feel joy. A person can sleep, read a book, or take a walk outside, all for free.

    So shouldn’t we have a say in exactly what poor people can buy with the money that’s given to them through these programs (SNAP and TANF)? No. Of course not. Because those people still deserve autonomy in how they choose to spend their money.

    I have to disagree with Riley again. Welfare money is not work income, and it comes from taxpayers. Therefore the government has a duty to ensure that welfare recipients spend their money on appropriate things. It is important to emphasize that welfare money is not the same as work income. Welfare money is given because a person lacks the financial resources needed to pay for their needs.

    So overall, that is what I think of Riley’s views on welfare. I am glad that I finally vented that out of my system. Lastly I would like to note that the ultimate consequence of accepting Riley’s false premise that poor people deserve nice things once in a while is that people are entitled to luxuries regardless of their financial situation. I find this problematic as someone who values responsible management of money.

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

    Sources

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL9SWEtDh5c

  • Another Day Another Screwup By Mozilla

    So I decided to checkout the subreddit /r/Firefox and saw something rather interesting. It seems that Mozilla has partnered with the TV series Mr. Robot to promote their browser and some people online are rather upset ticked with the way Mozilla has implemented this thing. Apparently, Mozilla introduced a browser extension that was disabled by default, however included a creepy description that scared some users. I could go into details about the whole scenario, but this article from The Verge gives the jist of the matter. So this blog post would be my opinion of the matter rather than a mere explanation.

    Overall, I am disappointed in Mozilla for once again violating the trust of their users months after the whole Cliqz controversy. I thought they learned their lesson for not violating the trust of their users but apparently it seems they still make mistakes. People choose Mozilla Firefox for the the fact that it is made by a non-profit that cares about the open web. Firefox is one of the few bastions of hope for a privacy respecting browser. I think that Firefox users take their privacy seriously and for Mozilla to play around with it through a partnership with Mr. Robot, it gives me some reason of concern. I myself am a Firefox user and while the extension came disabled by default, users should know what they were getting into before sending the extension to users. Consent is important when dealing with trust, especially if the entity at hand is a non-profit fighting for online privacy like Mozilla. Heck you even have Mozilla employees complaining about this on Twitter. When you have your very own employees criticize an action made by the company, that is something not to take lightly in most cases. People may switch browsers due to this controversy and the Cliqz controversy.

    Update: Apparently, it seems that Mozilla has made an apology in regards to this controversy and I accept their apology. They didn’t have any intents to cause harm and explained how they should have thought carefully of their actions.

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.