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Entries from May 1, 2010 - May 31, 2010


Facebook Unleashes New Privacy Controls

What the new privacy page will look like. Click here for more info straight from ZuckerbergWe've been talking a lot about Facebook lately because, frankly, about 99% of college students use it.  When Zuckerberg and co. came out with their incredibly fine-grained confusing new settings that defaulted to making tons of information public a few months ago, it gave rise to the usual crop of "1,000,000 Strong Against the New Facebook" groups.  But something was different this time.  People started talking seriously about abandoning ship and actually deleting their accounts.  A few enterprising college students even started making their own social network in response to the changes.  

It doesn't happen often, but this time the outcry was loud enough to actually make Facebook backtrack and respond to the criticism.  Over the next two weeks, Facebook will be rolling out a streamlined and simplified privacy page to help you lock down your information to your heart's content.  They will even prompt you upon signing in to check out the changes and update your settings.  Nice of them, right?

Overall the response from the blogosphere has been positive, but bear in mind that simplified settings mean fewer options.  For example, you won't be able to choose what non-friends will see if they search for you (your name, gender, profile picture, and networks are all fair game), and you can't choose different options for your posts, photos, and status updates anymore.  It will be interesting to see how college students, still Facebook's bread-and-butter audience, will react to the new changes.

Has Facebook graced you with the new options yet?  What do you think of the policy?  Let us know in the comments.


Scan and Reclaim Your Facebook Privacy

As you can see, I have some work to do on my profile.Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard about Facebook's recent privacy snafus. In fact, a few astute readers were correct in predicting the social network's issues in the comments of this recent post.  Part of the problem stems from the fact that it's just plain confusing to change your privacy settings with over 30 different options to fine tune.  Luckily, has a handy little bookmarklet that makes it dead simple to see if you're sharing the pictures from that end-of-year foam party with a few too many people.  

Just head over to the site and drag the bookmarklet into your bookmarks bar. Click it from your Facebook home page, and you'll get an easy to read red, yellow, or green indicator for a bunch of different privacy measures.  It even gives you options to easily change your settings and secure your online identity.  

[Via Lifehacker]


Protect Your Laptop From Spills While Partying

Photo by flickr user kalleboo and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

You don’t need to be a Math major to figure out that laptop + alcohol = trouble. I don’t have enough fingers to count the number of people I know that have had to replace their shiny new MacBooks because Frat Boy Frank got a little clumsy with his Natty Light. Is this post a life hack? No, it’s a warning. 

Don’t Drink and Use Your Laptop.

But Luke, how am I going blast music at my dorm room jam this Friday?”

The Basket Weaving Major’s Solution: Cover your laptop in plastic wrap. (Please don’t actually do this, the list of ways this could go wrong is endless.)

The English Major’s Solution: Load up a sweet playlist onto your iPod and plug into speakers. Simple and safe.

The Computer Science Major’s Solution: Plug speakers into an AirPort Express and put laptop in Clamshell Mode, control iTunes using Apple’s Remote app for the iPhone or iPod Touch. Don’t be fooled, this is super easy to set up. Also, You don’t need to get up to change a song and speakers can be placed high and out of harms way. This works with both Macs and a PCs.

Regardless of the solution you choose to follow, please put your laptop away while you’re drinking. Laptops are expensive, you probably can’t afford two. Happy partying!


Google Giving Students Priority Google Voice Invites

Just saw on Lifehacker that Google is sending out Google Voice invites to anybody with a .edu email address within 24 hours.  I've been on the waiting list for what seems like months now and haven't gotten anything, so this is a pretty awesome move on Google's part.

[Voice for Students]



NYU Students Creating Privacy-Controlled Social Net

The Diaspora team. Image courtesy of GizmodoIt's no big secret that Facebook has been getting a little creepy lately.  Personally I've been pretty apathetic about the whole thing, but a few whiz-kid NYU students decided to do something about it: make their own social network called Diaspora. No big deal or anything.

The open source system aims to put you in control of your privacy by aggregating the entirety of your online identity (Tweets, Facebook updates, YouTube uploads, etc.) on your own computer, rather than Diaspora's servers.  These computers (seeds, as they call them) can then connect directly to each other over Diaspora.  It's all way over my head, but it sounds pretty neat, right?

Clearly some people like the idea, as the group has already raised over $60,000 $115,000 in donations from, and they want to spend the entire summer coding to have the new site ready to go by September.  In the meantime you can keep up with them on their blog.

I'm sure we all have tons of friends that complain about all the Facebook privacy changes.  Hell, most of you probably do it yourselves.  It's pretty cool to see a group of students actually doing something about it.  I'm sure their fundraising will go through the roof after getting profiled by Gizmodo, TechCrunch, and The New York Times, but if you like what they're trying to do go ahead and give them some donation love.

Would you be interested in using Diaspora? Talk about it in the comments


Summer Project: Learn Something

Mike on a slack line, a skill he learned last summer.

Depending on the academic plan you a required to follow for your degree, you may or may not have a lot of freedom in the courses you are allowed to take. For example, in my life science program I only have one elective per year where I’m not restricted in the type of course I choose to take. This doesn’t allow for much exploration into different fields. Instead of wasting your time playing video games this summer, learn something new.  The subject could be anything, a new programming language, a new sport, economics. In the end, the details are up to you, but come September you can be proud to say you learned something this summer.

If you don’t mind paying you can enroll in a course through a local community college or online course at your school. The advantage of taking a summer course through an academic institution is you will receive credit towards your degree and you can gauge you’re understanding of the subject by your exam mark.  Personally, I find this option extremely uninviting. Summer time should be fun. Bailing on a beach party because you have a paper to write for the course you’re taking online sucks.

You read HackCollege; you’re resourceful, right? Why not pick up a textbook or a self-help book and teach yourself for free. If you get stuck on a concept have a look online, there’s all kinds of ways to get help for free (i.e., Khan Academy). One thing I’ve found is it helps to establish a loose schedule, for example one chapter per week. That way you’ll stay on track and have a good sense if you need to pick up the pace. If you don’t feel like learning that day, put the book down and party.  If self-learning seems like a daunting task, realize that every time you skip class you are using this technique.

Just have fun. When you don’t like what you’re learning you procrastinate. It’s simple.  Pick something you’d love to learn. Find how you can learn it and go out and do it.

Post your plans to learn this summer in the comments below. 


Summer DIY Project: Mini-Skeeball

I found this one under "Office Supplies" on Instructables. This awesome makeshift mini-skeeball game is an awesome idea for your dorm or apartment. It's simple, in that it doesn't require many materials and the only tool you'll need to complete it is an Xacto knife, glue, cardboard, a paper cup and a pencil. 

Your friends can come into your room and have something awesome to do if you are knee deep in something else, like homework, a game of Call of Duty or Edward 40 Hands. Come to think of it, you could probably make a drinking game out of this contraption.

How about this, you could either label the different shots with different drinks or, have the score relate to how much you drink. Go ahead and be the MacGyvers of college and make a drinking game out of whatever you can find. 

Is this something you would make? Comment below to share!


Dip Your Toes Into Investing This Summer

Despite this picture, the economy is starting to look bullish. Photo courtesy of Flickr user LonePlacebo and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0With the economy starting to recover, now is a perfect time to start learning about investing, and that free time you have over the summer is a great opportunity to get started.  

First you will need to open Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRP).  You probably see ads for lots of these on TV (E*Trade, TD Ameritrade, etc).  Personally I'd go with Sharebuilder because it doesn't require a minimum deposit to get started (these can run upwards of $500, ouch!).  

Now the safest place to invest your hard-earned summer internship money would be in a mutual fund, US Treasury bond or something equally boring, and I'm not telling you not to (technically I already have a 401k, though I didn't set it up myself).  That said, this is a summer project, and it should be fun.  

Tips for a fun Summer of penny trading after the break.

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