Monday, August 31, 2015

Blogs Now Up On My Page By Contents, August 2015

Here are some of my latest blogs that I've posted over the past month - three big investigations and one positive story. If you find any links that are broken, please let me know. Here are some of the following...

"INVESTIGATION: Napa's VINE Transit Under the Blogger's Microscope - Actual Truth about the Website?"

This short investigative blog questions Napa's transit provider which I discovered that the transit agency failed to update their website regarding the use of the Clipper Card (no photos were used).

"INVESTIGATION: A Troubling Trend Among San Francisco Public School Students?"

This short blog gives my take on what I discovered while I was correcting math exams at San Jose State University, despite being an English major.

"INVESTIGATION: Where Do You Find Stuff at a Local Mall? The Sad Truth About Finding Directions at Department Stores"

In my two-year investigation, I expose how some big-chain department stores and local malls, finding out if those have any signage pointing in the correct direction, and where to find services and public restrooms. (No photos were used for security reasons.)

"Part One of Two - Chak's Take: Why is this Blogger a Huge Fan of Ron Gleeson?"

One of my most successful stories is about a writer that was good enough to put long sports stories and his great success. So what attracted me to read his articles? (Contains pictures.)

Part One of Two - Chak's Take: Why is this Blogger a Huge Fan of Ron Gleeson?

"I am in a place I never thought I would be in. The executive editor of the Spartan Daily - a title that seem unobtainable when I stepped into the newsroom nearly a year ago." This was a quote from Ron Gleeson, who stepped in as the Executive Editor of the Spartan Daily at the beginning of 2012.

For many years, I always wanted to meet the guy that had a lot of great passion in writing his great stories, but in person instead of just communication on social media. There are many reasons why he led the way in knowing how San Jose State Spartan sports teams will affect attendance in a certain way, especially football. I decided to give my take on my explanation of being a huge fan of Gleeson in a two-part blog.


After my Live Oak High School graduation in 2007, I moved up on to Gavilan College in Gilroy, which lasted four years before transferring to San Jose State University. I was not sure of how my education adventure will go, and the uncertainty of my future at that time, but since I began my journey at SJSU, I have been collecting newspapers and a few selected articles written by Ron Gleeson, who I heard was one of the best guys around. Over the course of two semesters, I decided to pick up each day of the Spartan Daily and look for any articles written by Gleeson. Most of the articles that I've picked up was stored in a box at my San Martin nest.

Not every Spartan Daily newspaper picked up contains an article written by Gleeson. Some sports articles are from either the Spartan Daily staff or from an outside source instead of Gleeson. When I factored in many of the Spartan Daily newspapers I picked up, I managed to select a few articles written by Gleeson, from Spartan football to his take as an executive editor of the Daily.

Out of all the articles I read in the Daily, it appears that Glesson's favorite subject to write about is football! I certainly had a curiosity as to why I think football is probably his favorite fall subject, even though the San Francisco Giants are his favorites. He does mention MacIntyre in the article - the former Spartan coach seemed to have followed his dream of success. In my overall evaluation, his articles that I reviewed from my box were in-depth, and sometimes, he gives his take on local sports that he really loves. 


If I wanted to meet Glesson in person, he'll probably have to send me a request so that the second part of this blog can continue, but for my part? It's going to be very tough based on schedule, especially when I have a tight schedule on weekdays. The problem is mainly with the availability of time. The main question that I can ask him in person about how he first came to San Jose and what his favorite part about San Jose is, as well as Bay Area sports. For now, he'll just have to sneak in my mobile number (yes, he can text me, which is preferred) and my social media pages, including Instagram and Twitter, something that he probably never knew. I so far have never heard from him via talk or text on my cell phone yet. But the good news is that his articles have influenced my decision to write my own experience in my blogs.

The second part of my blog on Ron Gleeson will only occur when I see him in person, as will my sixth and my most favorite article that he covered.

Original Work: Kyle Chak
Twitter: @KyleSChak
BONUS: These photos are from my box safely stored at my San Martin Nest. The photos contain five memorable articles that were written by Ron Gleeson.

INVESTIGATION: Where Do You Find Stuff at a Local Mall? The Sad Truth About Finding Directions at Department Stores

If anyone wants to go a local mall near their home nest, you might want to check this blog report - my blog has exposed local malls and where to find stuff in a department. I traveled to many malls around the Bay Area, looking at department stores and figuring out how to find directions to a particular department or service within a department store. That is my particular mission for each mall that I've have visited. From Santa Rosa to Fairfield, San Mateo to Livermore, and Cupertino to San Jose, and Monterey to Salinas, I've been looking at directories at various department stores. But what I've discovered revealed a troubling problem at some of the malls and department stores that I've visited throughout the Bay Area and Monterey Bay.


JcPenney, Macy's, Sears, Nordstrom, Nieman Marcus, and Bloomingdales are among the big chain department stores that I've looked at. Out of a combined 27 malls (24 malls in the Bay Area, 2 in Monterey County, and one in Santa Cruz County) that includes at least one major department store, several individual department stores and several malls failed to include signage. At Northridge Mall in Salinas, most of the mall had no directory at all, including all department stores - one of the worst malls that I've experienced. Apart from a directory located at several ends of the mall, signage between Sears and JcPenney are non-existent. Furthermore, there were no signage or directory at Sears, JcPenney, and Macy's. I had to figure out the directions to services and restrooms on my own.

The only time that I saw signage at Northridge Mall is between JcPenney and Macy's - but Northridge Mall clearly lacks signage. In my first visit to Northridge Mall in 2014, there were no signage between Sears and JcPenney, but nothing has changed - not even clear signage pointing to directions of where specific major department stores are.


Although I won't specify which malls among the 27 have lack of signage, almost all JcPenney stores in the Bay Area never made the grade in my check in addition to the Salinas store - not even near escalators or elevators. Directories that include restrooms and services have not been visible except poor sporadic signage. There were also poor signage that include "restroom," but only to reveal that there is only either the men's or women's restroom on a particular floor. That was the case at the JcPenney within Eastridge Center in East San Jose.  

But that was not the only case that I saw poor signage at malls. At a Macy's inside NewPark Mall in Newark, I only saw a directory near elevators indicating services and restrooms on the third floor in addition to a standalone women's restroom on the second floor. However, the directory never existed near escalators or store entrances within NewPark Mall. At a Macy's in Antioch, I've discovered a directory near escalators that points to restrooms on both floors, but only the women's restroom' signage were the only service on the first floor as indicated by the signage. That questions me of being honest with their signage.

Meanwhile, some stores seem to have their discretion of whether a directory should be posted or not. Sears stores in a few of the malls never had a directory apart from sporadic signage, including services and public restrooms. Out of the two Nieman Marcus stores (Stanford Shopping Center and San Francisco's Union Square) that I've been to, only the Union Square location have clear signage of where the services are, including restrooms, although I had to find them myself. That location includes "Women's Room" and "Men's Room" to indicate restrooms in a particular floor or area. However, out of all department stores that I've been to, all Bloomingdales and Nordstrom stores that I've been to around the Bay Area have clear signage next to most escalators. 


San Francisco's Union Square is very unique in letting shoppers know where restrooms and elevators are located and the signage that points out where they are. This is because instead the stores in San Francisco lets people navigate their way through multiple floors that generally ranges from three to eight. Directories at most Macy's stores have a unique directory known as "Find Your Way," which lists out what is on the floor, including if there are any services for restrooms and services. However, at both the main store and the Men's store in Union Square, "Find Your Way" is not used. Instead, a unique signage points to a more specific list of what the stores cover. At the main store, Macy's is known to have more than just a regular store. There are restaurants and other services in addition to the Macy's service spread out among the seven floors, with an escalator on the seventh floor leading up to the Cheesecake Factory on the eighth floor.

Most San Francisco department stores have a huge space for shoppers within a confined block of San Francisco streets located near major public transit stations, particularly BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and MUNI (San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency) at Powell Street Station. Because of the difficult navigation through many floors, many department store chains require directories to be posted near escalators and/or elevators.


The clear message to department stores and malls is that the list must be updated in order for the mall to be more aware of the average shopper of knowing locations of a department so that the shopper can look for a particular item. But it remains unclear of how many malls in the United States as a whole have directories of which floor serves which department along with restroom and store services. The signage along malls and department stores needs to be placed somewhere so that shoppers will know what floors cover what departments.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

INVESTIGATION: A Troubling Trend Among San Francisco Public School Students?

San Francisco is known for it's wide diversity in people, the number of jobs headquartered there, the high cost of rent, and the wide variety of food choices that we all love to eat, whether people are residents of the city or from anywhere in the Bay Area. A few number of San Francisco schools have been top ranked, and has been praised for their encouragement of students to study and stay in class without doing drugs or alcohol. However, the latest test for students at San Francisco public schools that I graded at San Jose State University (SJSU) has revealed some surprising trouble among students. People who have listened to the news thought that the troubling trend in hiring teachers was the only thing in their minds that many school districts have a hard time with. But i n this blog, while I cannot disclose any private and confidential information for safety and privacy reasons (name, school, age, grade level, etc.), I've uncovered my findings about the surprise sample number of students that failed to perform well on the exam.

While I'm mainly an English major, I reported to SJSU's math department in the morning to help out in grading exams, and I'm dedicated in being honest in getting accurate results with the help of my fellow exam helpers who are also SJSU students. The procedures are straightforward, and even though I may not know the problems a while back, the scoring instructions are on a sheet that I was given. Each exam consists of two problems, both eight points each divided into a number of parts ranging from one to eight. Some problems may be worth one point while others are two points, but the total number of points per problem cannot exceed eight. No partial credit is given in such official exams.

While my assignment is to grade the second problem of the exam, the first part of the problem that I briefly looked at consists of plotting points along a typical graph. That part of the problem is what I felt that students have managed to figure out, but in a survey of about 45 students, roughly half of the students managed to pass the exam. However, my grading of the second problem in the revealed a huge troubling trend among the students that took the exam. For example, there were five parts to the second problem, but the last three parts of the exam were two points each. As the exam contains confidential information about the students, I cannot go into the specifics on the problem.

The problem consist of an equation and a given graph using a hyperbola, but the students must be able to label the x and y-axis, as well as drawing a hyperbola. I was able to find a surprise amount of students not labeling the x and y-axis correctly on the exam, which are some of the mistakes that can build from one part of the problem to the next, ultimately resulting in lower scores. The number of low scores on the second problem of the exam were surprising to me. Nearly every single student that I surveyed never got a score above four points. Some students did get five points on the first problem of the exam, but not on the second problem.

I also found out that in at least one student, he wrote on the exam that he was "never taught" on the graphing of the axis and the parabolas. It came out to be a surprise for me, as I rarely have seen such excuses. However, the scoring by official people like me is fair game, as the problems in math that I briefly looked at are considered "straightforward."

The "straightforward" term to me referenced of what Gavilan College (and my former instructor) Russell Lee have referenced in many of his courses in both math and physics, and he wants everyone to see for himself why doing homework will likely result in a "straightforward" and "conceptual understanding of the course material" in math, as well as in physics. Most math teachers and professors would understand that basic math is very important for success in the future. The message is very clear to students that homework is very crucial to success in math courses.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Confidential information is not used in any of my blogs in order to protect and respect the privacy of others. Those information may contain names of people that are under 18. Actual number of students is not disclosed in this blog, as neither any SJSU instructor nor students or volunteers has access to any confidential information. In case any confidential information is mentioned on my blogs like this one, the use of photos or videos is strictly prohibited. The sample number of students are NOT actual number of students, and are NOT official numbers - those are only for estimates and may differ from the actual number.


Original Work: Kyle Chak
Twitter: @KyleSChak

Sunday, August 9, 2015

INVESTIGATION: Napa's VINE Transit Under the Blogger's Microscope - Actual Truth about the Website?

As my previous blogs have been investigating about Bay Area transit systems, I've been keeping an eye on any loopholes and problems that transit agencies that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) never caught their eye on. Problems that I've been exposing for the past year have included the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), Caltrain, SamTrans, AC Transit, and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MUNI). With four more transit systems now accepting the Clipper card, it's been easier to get around town. That is, unless you encountered a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on Napa's VINE transit website.

I was first made aware of the expansion of Clipper in both Napa and Solano counties through social media, the same method used in following Bay Area transit agencies like AC Transit, MUNI, SamTrans, and VTA. Not long after the debut of Clipper in Napa and Solano counties, I found two major holes that questioned some claims made by Fairfield and Suisun Transit (FAST) and the Vine system. Those questions were directed to the Clipper Card's social media pages and their response was something that they never saw coming.

FAST transit managed to redesign their website that included plenty of Clipper card information, and Vine Transit followed shortly thereafter. However, yet another hole was found when Clipper Card's Facebook page claimed that the Clipper card can be used on the Vine's subsidiaries such as American Canyon Transit, Calistoga Shuttle and the St. Helena Shuttle. However, my check of the FAQ on the Vine's page is questioning to me, as the Vine failed to put updated information regarding the use of the Clipper card on the subsidiaries. Furthermore, American Canyon's page on their transit system never mentioned the Clipper card on their website, which remains in doubt to the claims that Clipper card users may have been misled about Clipper card usage on the Vine's subsidiaries.

My first investigation onto the Vine's outdated website has revealed that there has been many holes that I found of which they are unaware of who's accountable until I asked the tough questions and inquires to Clipper card's social media page. Questions still remains on who is going to make sure that the Vine's website will have someone that will update their FAQ and ensure that accurate information is vital to riders who is a Napa County resident or a visitor to Napa County. Until those things are sorted out, expect some confusion about Napa Vine's website in relation to the Clipper card through e-mails, inquiries, and so-on.

Original Work: Kyle Chak
Twitter: @KyleSChak