Thursday, April 2

Coronavirus Family Activity: Filing For Unemployment Like it's 1999

Florida Reemployment Assistance Program Website on mobile
[UPDATE] This article was originally written before Captain Ron DeSantis said the problem was fixed by adding 70 servers and probably spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, I had the exact same problems AFTER the fix that was supposed to increase the capacity by so much. Great job, Florida.

If you want to see a time machine, head on over to Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity website, and the Connect pages you need to use to file for unemployment. I assume the website was developed back around the time Al Gore invented the internet, and that was the case well before the Covid-19 crisis.

I've been building mobile-friendly websites that can be used in any browser since 2008 or so with my Joomla 1.5 sites. That's more than a decade ago. I suppose I didn't really design for mobile devices until maybe 2010, but I have been building websites capable of being used on a mobile device for at least ten years. 

I was also unemployed for a few months back in 2014, and I had to work hard to look for five jobs a week as I also tried to set myself up to become a full-time web designer. It's ironic that people who are receiving unemployment benefits need to work hard in order to show that they deserve those benefits, but the entities that run the website that collects the unemployment information allow the website to become so outdated that it's practically unusable. 

In an interview, a communications person for Florida DEO said that an app was on the way and that lots of assets were being moved to do something or other. She mentioned the cloud, probably assuming most of us are stupid enough to think that someone who has a ten-year-old asp.net website has a solution that involves the cloud. I am pretty sure an IT guy just told her to mention the cloud because that's what he does whenever anyone has a question for him he can't answer. 

Florida reemployment website error
The news also reported that you need to use Internet Explorer rather than Chrome because the website, even on desktop, won't work on Chrome. You probably need to have your Flash player enabled and Windows Defender turned off on your Windows XP machine, too. No mention of Safari, so sorry Mac. I pretty much gave up filing for unemployment to concentrate on writing this article because nothing was happening when I clicked buttons on the site. Maybe the website and awesome new app will be working by fall sometime, after most of us are broke and some of us are dead.

I assume that back in 2008, the last time the website was really used by a lot of people, it probably worked. Most people using it were likely thinking it kind of sucked, but it got the job done, and that's kind of the point of a website. Especially a website that's supposed to help people get reemployed.
Floridajobs ui website error at 2am
Even at 2AM, the Florida UI website was broken


When I really tried to work on my unemployment claim after midnight, I started to make some progress, finally able to establish a pin. But when the site crashes, it makes you start the claim all over again. From question one, even if it's all auto-filled from that point. So bad. I mean, really, really bad. I surprised to read Rick Scott's assessment that the system he put in place in 2013 would be useful in the end. It was probably outdated in 2013 and something a friend of his cooked up to bilk the state out of money. As a web designer (not even a developer), I can see all kinds of flaws in the system, and the most glaring is that you have to start over if you log back in. I can't even remember the last time I was on a website that did this.

I can think of two solutions I've created that would work better than this system, and I built them for about $1,000 for clients. Both on Joomla, I could use Community Builder to create profiles or even just Breezing Forms to make a simple form that gets submitted. If I wanted to be bad-ass, I'd have both Community Builder AND Breezing Forms on the same site.

The fact that the Florida unemployment site tries to push you into its debit card with lots of fees means that there's certainly a corrupt corporate tie-in here. Again, probably some friends of Rick Scott. In fact, the payments defaulting to the stupid debit card is a sure sign of corporate stoogery, and also not the option you want to take right now, since I am sure the debit card company is also not prepared to issue enough cards when unemployment increases ten-fold in a week.

Here's the paper application  for Florida unemployment in case you need it.

If your company is looking to reinvent itself after this all ends, check out my web design sites below.

[UPDATE 2]
I sent in my paper version of my unemployment application about a month before I write this. I have received no word from Florida. Eventually, I had to make some money, so I added driving back into my schedule, since it seems I have yet to even be denied unemployment from Florida in order to re-apply for the federal unemployment.



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