Print@CU, Meet CU Print

For all of your printing needs

Have you ever sent a document to the printer, taken the trek downstairs to print it out, only to discover the print job didn’t go through? Well, computer science major Jervis Muindi (SEAS ’13) has a solution for you: CU Print. This app for the Android platform (sorry, iOS users) is available free of charge via the Android store, and for the technically inclined the source code is published on Github. Bwog sat down with Jervis to find out his motivation for the app and get some details on how it works.

Bwog: So what led you to develop the app in the first place?

Jervis: Mostly it was for my own personal use. One night I was going to an event with some friends, and I needed to print out the tickets. I sent the file to a NINJa printer from my computer, but when I got to the printer the job hadn’t gone through. I really had to get going, so I used my phone to send the file from my email via Print@CU. The experience of using Print@CU from a phone wasn’t exactly streamlined, but it worked. Afterwards, I thought it would be useful to have an app that cleaned up the experience of printing from a mobile device, and so CU Print was born.

BwogWhat do you see as the average use-case for CU Print?

Jervis: Well, certainly the same kind of situation I found myself in with the tickets, but more generally I try to live in the cloud (I keep most of my files in DropBox), so it really makes living off of my phone more feasible. The app will be particularly useful if you keep your files in some sort of cloud storage, be it Google Drive or DropBox, or even if you just keep files stored on your phone.


LectureHop: There’s An App For That

Bwog Tech Extraordinaire, Bijan Samareh, headed over to DevFest to report on all the student innovations that came out of last week’s event. To see who the winners were, check out the Application Development Initiative website.

Behind every iPhone game or restaurant search engine is a team of entrepreneurial programmers who work tirelessly to make functional and appealing software. For those who wish to avoid large companies and work intimately with their colleagues or friends, the “App” niche of start-up culture attracts many bright twenty somethings who not only know a thing or two about computers, but also carry skills in self-finance and design. This new trend in the tech world made its way to Columbia last year with the inception of DevFest— a week long application development program where students can develop an app and showcase it to industry professionals for rankings and prizes. Put together by the ADI (Application Development Initiative), the event is a prime opportunity for students to have their work evaluated. Saturday was the 2nd annual showcase, and almost twenty new apps made it to the stage.

Among the panelists were Fred Wilson— VC and Principal of Union Square Ventures, Dave Jagoda of Andreessen Horowitz, and Tarikh Korula of Uncommon Projects. All seasoned professionals in the field, they offered insight and suggestions into each of the apps presented. Chris Wiggins, Associate Professor of Applied Math at Columbia and Co-founder of HackNY, also judged entries, while Ryan Bubinski (CC ’11), Co-Founder of Codecademy, passed down fresh wisdom as a recent graduate who has found success in the app world.


Boringside Heights: Fancy Pants Edition

These last few weeks, Morningside Heights has seen a few yet snazzy improvements.

Also, in front of the circulation desks in 300 Butler, 16 computers have been revamped with Microsoft Office Suite and Adobe Creative Suite. And look out for upgrades at the Digital Humanities Center (305 Butler), and  three new Macs in the Music and Arts Library (701) Dodge.

Follow Your Dreams: Codecademy Edition

Codecademy Homepage

Codecademy, a quick, fun way to learn the JavaScript programming language has only been live for less than 100 hours, and it has already crawled its way to the front page of Reddit and been featured on Wired and Techcrunch. Developed by recent graduate Ryan Bubinski, CC ’11, and Zachary Sims, CC ’12 (and taking a leave of absence to focus on this project), as part of the prestigious Y Combinator program, the site provides free, hands-on lessons that introduce different aspects of programming one by one. New lessons build on previous ones, and as users progress they earn badges visible to friends. Continuing with our series profiling recent Columbia undergrads, Bwog talked to Zach and Ryan about Codecademy, their time at Columbia, and their pets.

How did you come up with the idea for Codecademy?
Zach:  We had worked on another project earlier in the summer, but the two of us had always been frustrated by the fact that my coding skills weren’t as good as they could have been.  I took a bunch of tutorials over the summer and had watched videos, read books, and taken a class at Columbia.  Nothing seemed quite right, so we decided to try to build something that would help people like me.
Ryan: I spent a large portion of my time at Columbia teaching and practicing programming, and I honestly believe everyone should have at the very least a foundational knowledge of the craft. If you love teaching and you want to reach as many people as possible, the logical conclusion is to build a learning platform like Codecademy.

Are you surprised to see it take off on such a large scale?  So quickly?
Z:  Yes.  We intended on getting some quick feedback and making some changes before trying to get more users.  We posted Codecademy to Hacker News in an attempt to get some feedback, but got more than 700 upvotes.  Everything started rolling from there.
R: Absolutely. At any given moment we’re reaching thousands of people across the globe. It’s very inspiring.

Are there any Columbia easter eggs in the program?
Z: Not yet.
R: Nope, but we’re open to suggestions. (more…)

ADI Gives You the Gift of Pain-Free Scheduling

Taking classes... it's like playing with Lego!

Guys, Fall 2011 course registration begins on Monday! Ordinarily, that might be a cause for panic and worry, but now, it’ll be your new source of procrastination. Enter the Schedule Builder. Created by Ryan Bubinski, CC ’11 and one of the lovely members of Columbia’s ADI, the Schedule Builder helps Columbia undergraduates “with course discovery and scheduling conflict resolution.” Basically, it combines the CU Directory of Classes with a sort of Google Calendar to create lots of schedule building fun!

Serious play via Wikimedia

Saturday Morning Cartoons: Generation Y Edition

These times, they are a-changin’. Saturday Morning Cartoons keeps you up to date on cutting edge technology. Now if only there were an app for recording your night, post-blackout…

Cartoons by Jody Zellman

Free Food at the DevFest Kick-Off!

Today, Columbia’s Application Development Initiative (ADI) launches DevFest, a week-long technology/business development experience. The group plans to host a series of lectures and workshops, with guest speakers like Matt LeMay of bit.ly fame and Anoop Ranganath, the lead iPhone developer at FoursquareFred Wilson from Union Square Ventures will be present at the culminating “Demofest.” As Bwog webmaster Hans Hyttinen tells us, “It’s a big fucking deal.”

Head over to CEPSR’s Davis Auditorium at 1 p.m. for lots of free food at DevFest’s kick-off event—a Hackathon! Bwog hopes it’s as exciting as it looked on The Social Network.

Bwoglines: The MTA Blows, but We’ve Still Got Technology

It sucks, but we all knew it was coming. The MTA continues to ruin your life and has officially raised subway fares to $2.50/single ride. (City Room)

These are old computers.

Columbians know how to use the interwebz. Who knew? (The Eye)

If see more law enforcement agents on your subway commute today, don’t be alarmed. An Operation Railsafe surge will be held today. (Gothamist)

A cell phone saved a man from a speeding bullet in Harlem. Never underestimate the power of your cellular device. (Switched)

A Duke student’s “sex thesis” goes viral. Friends, let this be a lesson in internet safety! (Jezebel)

Photo via flickr/eurleif

Update: Columbia University has new Nobel Laureates! Liu Xiaobo, who won the Nobel Peace Prize today for his struggle for human rights in China, was a visiting fellow at Columbia in 1989 until he left to join the Tiananmen Square protests. Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature, was also a visiting professor at Columbia.

S.A.V.E. Is Here to S-A-V-E the Day

From the fine ship MV Columbia.

If you thought backronyms were only something that happened in Washington, think again. The office known as Lerner Hall is now offering called “S.A.V.E.”–the Student Audio and Visual Equipment program. S.A.V.E. will offer training in multimedia support and, according to a flier entitled “S.A.V.E. YOURSELF $$$”, will allow recognized student groups the opportunity to “S.A.V.E. on the cost of tech staffing for [their] next event.”

Still want to know more? According to the S.A.V.E. website, S.A.V.E. sounds like a marginally-accredited technical school advertising on the subway:

  • Set up basic audio visual equipment properly, efficiently, and safely.
  • Understand the fundamentals of audio which will enable them to perform audio engineering on a basic level.
  • Prevent noise, feedback, and learn how to troubleshoot in the middle of an event efficiently.

If you or your group are interested in S.A.V.E., see their flier.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday Morning Cartoons: Pencils Are So 1990 Edition

Ah, Saturday morning. A time to reflect upon the past two nights (“What’d I do again?”) and a week of classes. Saturday Morning Cartoons are here to help.

Cartoon by Abigail Santner

Technology Is Magic

Photo by DHLook what we found! It looks like our beloved 116th stop is going to get subway indicators like its little brother Cathedral Parkway. Now, if you wait for the 1 for 35 minutes on a Saturday night, at least you’ll know you’re in it for the long haul. We’ll let you know when it’s up and running- if you catch it before we do, send a picture using our tips form.

Now that we have your attention, two PSAs: as you move out today, don’t forget to donate what you don’t want to bring home to Give + Go Green. The EcoReps are at the Wien Gate today from 12-5 and there are other more local drop-off stations, too.

Also, attention seniors: if you have a calculator you don’t want anymore, please donate it to the Double Discovery Center. They’ll be given to kids who can’t afford calculators to use on the SATs, putting them at a big disadvantage. Look for drop-off locations in Lerner 306 and for drop-off boxes along the Lerner ramps today from 12-5.

SocketHop: Crafting a Bigger Brother

A proposed secret international treaty would greatly heighten penalties for copyright infringement, some threatening civil liberties.  SocketHop, the technology decoder for the literature-minded, takes a look.

TelescreenEveryone breathed a sigh of relief when it was announced one year ago that the music industry would stop its broad lawsuits against alleged file sharers.  Since about 2003, the movie and music industry associations (the MPAA and the RIAA, respectively) have been suing consumers accused of sharing copyrighted files over the Internet.  At one point, the RIAA was even targeting students like us directly with threatening letters with the help of (unwilling) universities. The music industry finally learned how to adapt its business model to changing times and consumers hailed the arrival of DRM-free online music stores and new RIAA lawsuits have ended for now.

None of this means that content producers are giving up the fight against copyright infringement.  A new treaty, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), is currently being negotiated in various countries around the world.  The cause for alarm is that everything is happening entirely in secret, with many of the key players denying involvement and others claiming that it is a purely “economic” treaty.  Very few drafts have surfaced but many industry “advisory committees” have access to confidential documents.  No one knows all of the details of the negotiations, but enough has leaked that many consumer advocate groups are concerned. The reason for all this secrecy?  You could probably guess: “national security.”


SGA, Meet IT

old macsCCSC and ESC both canceled their weekly meetings because of board retreats, but SGA is still around to keep the student government machine rollimg. Nikhita Mahtani reports.

Monday’s SGA meeting had a special guest, Carol Katzman, the new head of IT at Barnard fondly dubbed “VPK.”  VPK apparently just couldn’t bring herself to leave the ivory tower: she began by joking that she has “been involved with higher education since college!” She continued to ask students’ opinions about so-called ‘hot buttons’, which sparked a discussion about students’ IT problems. Some of the main issues brought up included greater wireless access, wired networks, dining, clubs, and money, with all suggestions passed along President Debora Spar.

SGA is also to meet with Barnard’s Board of Trustees next Wednesday.  The meeting will now only be between the students and the board, without any administrators attending, to facilitate more in-depth discussion. Plans have been made to discuss Barnard’s new college ranking policies. Barnard was ranked 30th under liberal arts colleges by U.S. News last year, before which it hadn’t been ranked. This causes concern for many students, some for whom the ranking would have influenced their decision to come to Barnard.  U.S. News also inadvertently entered into the fray of the eternal (well, at least twenty-six-year-old) Columbia-Barnard debate, not noting Barnard’s relationship to Columbia in the rankings.  Some expressed concern that Barnard is little known as an independent institution, but the U.S. News still ranks it as one. (more…)

Nip/Tuck: CLIO’s Online Catalog


In case you haven’t noticed, CLIO has recently unrolled a beta version of their new library catalog system. The new version features a relatively sleeker interface, a streamlined menu system, and basically just doesn’t scream “1995″ anymore.

The previously mysteriously-labeled “Guided Keyword” tab has now been replaced with a slightly more comprehensible “Advanced” tab, offering new query fields such as Date, Library Location, and Medium. Although these new search constraints are a welcome addition, perhaps CLIO thought this new “Advanced” tab was just a little too straightforward and decided the interface still needed to confuse people, so they included two separate “Search” buttons on the page.

To CLIO’s credit, the search results page has improved drastically. Gone are the days of superfluous and confusing checkerboard results. Instead, results are displayed in a neat, organized fashion, complete with little icons that indicate the medium of the result.

Yes, there could still be room for improvement, and in classic “beta”-version fashion, CLIO openly asks for comments and suggestions. And of course, if you are feeling nostalgic, you can always still use the old one, for now. 

SGA Talks Tampons, Science, and Student-Teacher Relationships

tamponsNikhita Mahtani

Monday’s SGA meeting began with pleas for volunteers for Founder’s Day.  Soon after, the new First Year VP, Rachel Ferrari – apparently a “big listener” and “not very shy” — introduced herself.

The meeting continued with updates from Katie Pallilo, Barnard ‘10 and SGA president.  Katie addressed her meeting with Carol Katzman from Information Technologies, who is investing in a 6-month recruiting program to revamp Barnard’s “Academic Technologies” — SmartBoards, anyone?  Commencement is still to be in Levien Gym, but suggestions have been made to look into other venues, such as Baker Field or Lehman.

Because Columbia’s administration works so well already, Dean Taylor, the new Chief of Staff, will add yet another layer of bureaucracy to Barnard College by serving as a link between President Spar and the student body.  Katie, the eternal optimist, tempered her criticism of another barrier between you and your tuition money by lavishing great praise on the new Dean.  That’ll be another friendly face you won’t see until Founder’s Day. (more…)