Joseph Johnson

- Senior Seminar Blog -

Final Blog Post

The biggest thing I learned about this semester was HiveTracks- The tech company owned by Dr. Wilkes that helps beekeepers keep track of their hives. If you come into this course having never met Dr. Wilkes, you quickly learn that beekeeping is something that he is very passionate about. It was very interesting to learn about the tech stack of HiveTracks and how it works.

The second big thing I learned from this course is the different views people have on different issues. Especially during final presentations, most people presented on topics they were interested in and had strong opinions about. All of these presentations opened my eyes to new issues in technology, and how we can address them.

Lastly, I learned a lot regarding privacy and different people's internet habits in this course. As you can see from my earlier post, privacy is something that I take very seriously. Many people agree to privacy policies without even knowing what all they're agreeing to, as well as putting so much of their information out for the public to see. While I personally wouldn't put certain information of mine online such as my middle name, address, etc, everyone else has their right to do so.

Now, I have to end this with advice for the students taking the class next semester, so here it goes:
Ok, look. I'm pretty sure most of the posts here say don't procrastinate. But I know you're gonna do it anyway. So here's my advice on procrastination: If you don't have a favorite energy drink, you better pick one. Your last week is gonna consist of multiple all-nighters chugging energy drinks to finish your assignments. Just ask the 3 empty Bang cans on my desk right now!

Final Topic

For my final topic, I chose to do the impacts of technology on retail. One reason I chose this topic is because I have worked in many retail environments, most notably Harris Teeter (Kroger) on the store level, and Lowe's on the corporate level. I've seen myself firsthand the impacts that technology can have, such as self-checkouts, rewards systems, more convenient payment methods, better ways to take inventory, and much more, on retail companies. However, there is a point where this technology goes too far - A prime example is bigger retail chains such as Walmart, Kroger, and Target completely ditching their human cashiers in favor of self-checkout. I want to figure out at what point the cons of technology in stores outweigh the pros.


No matter how much research I do into it, Blockchain is something I'll never quite understand. I know it's used to verify Crypto transactions, but that's about it. I did more research into it for this assignment and saw the different use cases it has within businesses, especially when dealing with banking and financial information, however, all of that was still hard to grasp. I even taught a course on it when I worked for iD Tech, even though I didn't understand most of it! Many different sources say different things about Blockchain and it is very hard to piece it all together.

Privacy Discussion Reflection

Privacy has always been an important thing to me. Glenn Greenwald said in his TED Talk that those who are doing nothing wrong have nothing to hide, and shouldn't be worried about who's watching them. However, I do have to disagree with this statement. Data breaches happen, and when they do, your data which you thought would never be released to the public, is now out there for anyone who knows how to use Tor to see.

In terms of the What Did You Find assignment, the person assigned to dox me was able to find my LinkedIn profile, and after enough work, found my middle name, which lead to finding my voter registration record, and that lead to finding my home address and a very old house phone number that was disconnected years ago. Doxxing me is very hard, given my first and last name are very common in most English-speaking countries, however, if someone finds my middle name, it becomes very easy. This is one big reason I never registered to vote in Boone - NC has public voter registration records, and I really don't want to put my Boone address out there to the public. It's also a reason I plan to move to SC before the 2024 election; It's a state where I can vote without having to surrender my privacy.

As for the privacy policy review, my group and I reviewed Appalachian State's privacy policy. One big concerning thing we found was that App State may sell student's information for "Legitimate business reasons" which did not give a clear definition. I do know one instance of this however, and this is American Student List, or ASL Marketing. Schools will sell them information about students, such as DOB, gender, GPA, address, SAT and ACT scores, and potential career interests, then they will resell it to other parties such as other institutions, private companies, and many others. I know this because I once received a Gillette razor in the mail after my 18th birthday, and I did some research to find out how they knew my address, DOB, and gender. Turns out, my high school sold my info to ASL Marketing, who then resold it to Proctor & Gamble (Gillette's parent company). So a company may have a bunch of your information, even if you've never done business with them before!

CitizenFour Reflection

The biggest thing I learned from Citizenfour was the technologies the NSA uses for surveillance on American citizens. The most surprising part is the corporate partnerships, one of the most notable being my own carrier, Verizon. The capabilities of their technologies were very surprising too, with how they were able to monitor one billion phone calls and internet sessions at 125GBps, or 1 Tbps, over 10 years ago, and I am almost sure those capabilities have expanded over the years.

HiveTracks & BeeInformed Reflection

The first thing I learned from the case study on HiveTracks and BeeInformed was the ethical and social issues surrounding the projects. As with most other technology services, the most common issues with them are privacy, security, and intellectual property.

The second takeaway I got from the case study is the numerous challenges which beekeepers have faced over the years. One example of these challenges is the loss of bees during the winter seasons, in which a survey has shown that since 2006, losses during the winter have averaged at approximately 30%.

The last interesting thing I learned during the presentation is the tech stack of both projects, and how they have evolved over the years. The evolution of the tech stack within HiveTracks shows how fast the software industry changes- You're always having to keep up with new technologies so your application can thrive.

Reflections on Ethics Discussion

I really enjoyed our ethics discussion in class. It was really a time where people could express their own personal opinions and world view, without being attacked or heckled for their beliefs. Nobody really expressed anything hateful either, which was really nice. It also gave a nice insight on how people's upbringing can shape how they act or see different things going on around them, or the entire world. People also asked questions about each other's ethics, in which some seemed to be thought-provoking, but not hostile in any manner.

First blog post - Best computing experiences

Hello! My name is Joseph Johnson.

My best computing experience in any of my CS classes would have to be when I did early college in high school. I was first getting into mobile app development, and showed off some of the apps I made at our open house. Many employers were coming up to me and asking questions, and if I was open to any jobs. Unfortunately, I was only 17 at the time, so none of them could hire me! But having all those adults surrounding me and telling me how impressive my work is was one thing I will always remember.

As for my best computing experience outside of class, I want to say would be my first programming job, which was with iD Tech. While I wasn't writing much production code, I was teaching children to code. We would code a game or something else, then the kids would ask if I could add something like an extra feature to the game. I would, and it would amaze them. Seeing how much joy I brought to those children and their parents really put a smile on my face.