Found some old screenshots…

When I first came to Penn, the website for the Nominations & Elections Committee looked like this:

Old NEC site circa 2011
No, this wasn’t the year 1999… this was in 2011.

NEC website redesign

I set out to redevelop and redesign this, upgrading it from a static HTML site edited over SFTP to a WordPress CMS on Canvas. More importantly, the website redesign in 2012 needed to fit the rebranding that Penn underwent that academic year. In other words, I wanted it to look more like the university’s design. (An email to the Communications office responsible for web assets clarified that we could, in fact, do this.)

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What motivates doctors?

In a previous year, I wrote about why there are motivations for going through medical education in North America despite the high costs…

While preparing a slideshow about deep brain stimulation (DBS) as a treatment for dystonia patients, for a bioengineering course, I was reminded that doctors are often rewarded when they see clinical improvement in their patients.

A 7-year-old child with genetic dystonia, who was unable to feed herself or stand up erect, received a DBS implant in 2009. At the 1 year mark, she had improved 91.2% in motor skills.

Visually illustrated:

7-year-old standing erect after deep brain stimulation

Wouldn’t you be touched if you saw this happen?

Last month, a video of Joanne Milne, a hearing-impaired woman who was able to hear clearly the days of the week for the first time, went viral online:

I’d like to think that compassion remains alive and that humans are still innately good creatures.

Jin, S. T., Lee, M. K., Ghang, J. Y. & Jeon, S. M. Deep Brain Stimulation of the Globus Pallidus in a 7-Year-Old Girl with DYT1 Generalized Dystonia. J Korean Neurosurg Soc 52, 261-263 (2012). doi: 10.3340/jkns.2012.52.3.261

Penn Engineering survey questions

Excerpts from the Penn Engineering student survey…

SEAS survey: “I can cope with being the only person of my race/ethnicity in a class”
Me: “Not applicable”

SEAS survey: select your ethnicity/citizenship…
Ethnicity or Citizenship question on survey

Me: why are these mutually exclusive?!

Incoming college freshmen: Campus Backup Service is a ripoff

Campus Backup Service marketing letter

If you’re a freshman at Penn or many of the other universities that are raking in revenue from freshmen beyond tuition and fees, you may have received e-mails and letters offering all sorts of wonderful things. The one that caught my attention was something called “Campus Backup Service”.

It’s a cleverly marketed service that tries to leverage the anxiety of freshmen and parents to sell you something you don’t need — or rather, something you need, but not from this company.

Campus Backup Service marketing letter
They use the same scare tactics to market the service that are used by scammers. Don’t fall for it. Scan courtesy of Hannah C.

There’s a disaster scenario — a student without backup suffers a virus infection on her laptop and… “her sleep, her composure, and her GPA all suffered… it was horrible”. There’s an alternate scenario — someone uses this company’s service, and avoids the disaster.

Yes, college students need a convenient and viable form of backup, just as all computer users do, but not from this company. This is almost a scam (but not quite). (Notice how they target “parents of incoming students”, who might be less tech-savvy than college students?)

Vinay Dinesh and I are both Information Technology Advisor Managers (ITA Managers, for short) at the University of Pennsylvania, and we are writing, as individuals, to help you find the right backup solution, whether it’s as simple as copying files to an external hard drive, or syncing files to the cloud. But Campus Backup Service isn’t right. (See our upcoming collaborative post to see how you can back up your files the right way.)

Continue reading “Incoming college freshmen: Campus Backup Service is a ripoff”