Rules to think about

We are near the midpoint of the fall semester at school. From time to time, I observe certain things and thought it might be helpful to put these together as a set of “rules” to think about – particularly for students in the CMWEB program at school. Of course, these also apply to others. I present these in no particular order, but they come from years of experience (OK, decades of experience). Perhaps some apply, perhaps some don’t. Use them as you see fit.

  • If you are about to download an item from the WWW and spy a very large download button on the page, it is likely not the download you seek. Reason: Things which are free often have large amounts of advertising or other junk on a given page. In order to encourage you (sucker you) into downloading things you don’t need, the largest download icon is often for junk. Look around the web page before downloading.
  • Be careful how you name files and folders. Reason: you may want to share items via email or social media (and I suspect you want the links to work). Therefore, do not use spaces in the names of your files or folders. If you choose to do this, many email programs split the link when they perceive a break (perhaps due to a space). This means your link will be broken as soon as you communicate it. I recommend camelCase notation for file and folder names. If you must use a space, consider a hyphen instead. Many search engine routines treat the hyphen as a space.
  • While on the subject of file and folder names – never include special characters in your names. Reason: it may cause issues from one operating system to another. For example, in some web design contests, I have observed competitors naming a folder something like assets/images. Yep, you can do that on a Mac or in Linux. However, such a name is not recognized in Windows. The “/” is what causes major problems.
  • Always use the proper extension for your file. Reason: it is 2015. There is no earthly reason to ever name a file with an extension of .htm. It is .html. Period. The former extension is a holdover from DOS (the Dead Operating System). Back in the day, one could have a maximum of 8 characters for a file name and 3 characters for an extension. Hence the sole reason for naming a file with the .htm extension. Those days are long gone. I know this is just my opinion, but I strongly recommend one use .html for a web page extension when appropriate. To use .htm tells me that you have never mentally migrated beyond the days of DOS.
  • When writing code, use meaningful (and short) variable names. Reason: you need to reference them in your code repeatedly. It is much easier to remember (and type) a variable with a name of lastName then enteredLastNameFromPage. See how my note about camelCase still applies. When you use longer names or hard to spell names, it is very easy to introduce errors into your code.
  • Before asking your teacher for help, try to find your answer using a search engine. Reason: you will be in classes with your teachers a small fraction of your life. Develop the skills so you can find the answer on your own. Yes, ask if you already tried to find the answer. Yes you should ask how one might go about searching for the desired information (if you don’t find it on your own). Through most of your life, you will not have someone that you can ask for the answer. It will be up to you to find it. This is why I don’t recommend developing a practice of always asking before searching. Try to find out on your own first.
  • Lastly, when you have the ability to use 2 factor authentication, do so. So many people use simple (or easy to guess) passwords (or use the same password on multiple sites). If you use 2 factor authentication, you will need to know your username, your password, and a unique (and often changing) third item. This may be supplied by a text or by a tool like Google Authenticator. Therefore, to access a given site, you must provide something you know (your password and username) and something you have (like the onetime code supplied via¬† a text message on your cell phone). If someone knows your password, they must also have your phone to access the site. Obviously, this reduces the chances of your access being compromised.

There you have it – a few rules to prosper by. Nothing magical about any of them. However, they will make your life a bit easier if you employ them. For those reading this far, what would you add to the list? Why?

I look forward to your comments.

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