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Entries from April 1, 2010 - April 30, 2010


A Weekly Wrap-up

So it's been a pretty ridiculous week on all fronts. I saw James Cameron at the Imagine Cup, met one of the founders of Her Campus and made the front page of with Chris. It's been busy to say the least. I'm graduating in a week and now is probably a good time to take a survey of the state of things.

While Microsoft has been on rocky ground with students for a few years now, things like the Imagine Cup are indicators that they really care. More and more as we've been running HackCollege, it's been great to see the big boys wake up and give us students some credibility. It's one thing to make products for students. It's another (more awesome) thing to put the power in their hands. The ingeniousness of Mobilife shows the world that—although we drink plenty of beer—some of us are still making a difference. University relations departments can only get stories and projects so far. The student community needs more guys like Microsoft to give us another outlet for creativity.

(To be fair, Apple and other companies do have student sections at their developer conferences, but Microsoft is the only company with a series of events dedicated to students.)

I'll go into more detail next week, but it's kind of a bummer to be graduating. Things are getting more and more exciting by the day. I'll detail what's in store for HackCollege in the coming weeks, months and years.

Have a great weekend (even if you are cramming for finals).


Are You Addicted to the Internet?

Feeling lonely when you can't update your status? Image courtesy of Flickr user English106 licensed under CC BY 2.0Ars Technica just reported on a very interesting (though hardly surprising) study.  I'll let you read the details over on Ars, but essentially the University of Maryland researchers found that taking away media connections from college students caused withdraw symptoms similar to drug addicts or smokers going cold turkey.  

I have to say, I can totally see myself reacting the same way in this situation.  We can only be one place at a time, but we like to interact with our entire circle of friends, family, and coworkers through cellphones, Facebook, email, and the like. Think about when you forget your cellphone and don't have a computer on you.  It's not hard to feel lonely, isn't it?

While I totally believe that we're better off with these means of communication (would I be writing here if I didn't?), you have to admit that growing up with these luxuries has essentially made us dependent on them. Really makes you wonder how our parents got by, eh?

 Ever been on a tech detox, voluntary or otherwise?  How did you fare? Let us know in the comments!

Via Ars Technica


Maryland Community College Starts Midnight Madness

This class is bound to have some goners. Image via Flickr User bigarnex. Licensed under CC v2.0.Okay, back in high school I remember my English teach showing us a clip of Andy Rooney talking about his view of the future. It was a planet that was constantly lit and people working in shifts because of over population.

After reading a post at the Huffington Post's college site, I can tell you that that day is closer than you may think. A Maryland community college, Anne Arundel Community College has a new class for its students to register for. The class starts at midnight and goes to three in morning. Here's the link:

Md. College To Offer Midnight Psychology Class

In a way this is good. It's giving students who are night owls chance to truly grow to their full potential. If Anne Arundel has a plethora of them and this pilot program is a success look forward to a bunch of midnight classes and the fulfillment of the prophet Andy Rooney's prediction.

Would you sign up for a class that started at midnight? Comment below to share or connect with me on Twitter!


Imagine Cup: Top 4 Teams in Software Design

James Cameron and Craig Mundie were two of those in attendance at yesterday's awards ceremony. (What?) Photo from Microsoft.

Full disclosure: Microsoft flew me out to Washington, D.C. for the weekend and put me up in a hotel.

D.C. would be all-for-nought if we didn't report on the actual winners of the competition. Throughout the course of the weekend, my faith in the student population of the world has been once again reinvigorated. It is refreshing to see so many brains are solving real and complicated problems. While it may be no surprise to you, dear reader, that the writers of HackCollege are currently the smartest students walking the face of the planet, it pains me to say that I have discovered stiff competition. I witnessed such competition at the hands of the Imagine Cup U.S. Finals.

The Imagine Cup has been around since 2003, but has only been a worldwide competition recently. This year, the competition is drawing more than 300,000 students from 150 countries. (They have the HackCollege audience beat by seven countries. Drat!) Over this weekend I got to see the best the United States has to offer (at least those using the Microsoft stacks for their projects).

I got the chance to catch up with the top 4 teams and chat with them a little bit throughout the weekend. They come from all over and all have great projects. Although not all of them will be going to Poland in July for the worldwide competition, they all have great projects. Check them out!

Check out the awesome that fellow students are creating after the jump!

Click to read more ...


Building a World Where Anyone Can Go to College

Don’t get me wrong, higher education isn’t cheap, but if you’re reading this post on a shiny new i5 MacBookImage courtesy of Vitanna Pro then perhaps you should take a step back and consider those around you the world who aren’t as fortunate. As much as you and I both hate student loans, they do enable us to get an education so that one-day we may support ourselves. However, in many countries, student loans programs don’t exist. Vittana, a microfinance organization aims to solve this.

“The Vittana community is enabling students around the world to get access to higher education for the first time. When you make a loan to a Vittana student, 100% of your funds go to the student. Using your loan, the student finishes college (or vocational school), gets a degree and then gets a job. When the student repays Vittana, Vittana repays you the full amount of your loan — if you lent $25, you are repaid $25."

I encourage you to head of over to and consider making a small loan to help a fellow student. There’s no question you’d help out a starving roommate, why not a peer eager to learn?


Imagine Cup: Interview with Anthony Salcito, Microsoft Vice President of Worldwide Education

Anthony Salcito speaking at a conference earlier in the year. Picture from

Full disclosure: Microsoft flew me out to Washington, D.C. for the weekend and put me up in a hotel.

I'm out in Washington, D.C., this weekend, hanging out at the U.S. Finals for the Imagine Cup. The Imagine Cup is an annual student software competition that pits students from around the world against each other. Microsoft backs the entire thing and they have quite the agenda set up for the students participating. (More on that in a later post.)

I had the opportunity to sit down with Anthony Salcito for an interview. He is the vice president of worldwide education at Microsoft. (Note: that's a big deal.) I dare say he was the perfect candidate for a non-student HackCollege interview. We nerded out about the power of students, how education is drastically different and still changing, and what students should keep an eye out for.

Full interview after the jump!

Click to read more ...


Review: Lenovo A63

Over the last few month I have had the pleasure of using the Lenovo A63 as my main computer. There are a few things I like about this rig, and a few things I don't.  Full Disclosure: This was out on long term loan and is going to be given out to one lucky HackCollege reader in a giveaway to be decided on later. Woo, now let's get into this machine.

You could have this! Image courtesy Lenovo.


After putting this computer through the paces of the daily college routine for about a month there are a bunch of things that make this small business workstation work for students, but I'm just going to talk about a few. First, it's pretty powerful. Second, it's pretty quiet and third, the screens are effing huge!

Click to read more ...


How Instapaper Will Make You a Better Student

Who knew that reading on the Web could be so clean? Photo by flickr user cote and licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Yikes. I really missed the boat on this one. There's this awesomely (and awesomely simple) Web app out there named Instapaper. You've probably known about it for the last few years. It must be my old age or something, but I just got on the Instapaper bandwagon. Maybe it has something to do with my recent acquisition of an iPad (I caved!).

Instapaper is a central bookmarking repository for things you would like to read. Don't have time to read that awesome article a friend just posted on Twitter? Instapaper it. You can read any bookmarked page at a later date on your iPhone, Kindle, iPad or just on Instapaper's site. It also will translate articles into essentially plain text, so you don't have to be encumbered by sites ill-formatted for mobile devices.

Let me go through how I'm using Instapaper for myself and how it could change your life.

Learn how after the jump!

Click to read more ...