Author Archive - James M

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New platform to showcase Stanford student innovation… FoSho

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

An incredible new product is ready to launch here on campus and change the way that Stanford innovators are able to promote their work. Stanford Founder’s Showcase, or Stanford FoSho for short, is a platform designed to help Stanford developers gain recognition for their creations, let the rest of us to see the cool stuff that our fellow students are building every day, and provide dynamic, relevant content for life on the Farm. The platform will host student-built mobile apps, websites, and video, and will be available for download in the app store by the end of July.

0174_Stanford App_Fo Sho Tile_R4

Got an app? FoSho is opening its first round of submissions.

As developers know, the app store has become a sea of over 700,000 apps, each competing to get on the “featured” page to drive downloads. Without serious help in the right places, even the best apps can fail to get recognition, slowing their growth and limiting the hype they deserve. With this in mind, we envisioned a platform that was the first stop for any Stanford innovator when trying to get their creations airborne, providing valuable recognition from the Stanford community and useful feedback from the world’s techiest campus. The win-win here is tremendous: developers get to hit the ground running with their innovations and Stanford students get a sneak peek at the next generation of the world’s best apps.

The platform is designed with a built-in feedback tool for users to rate their experience, giving the developers analytics and data which provide much deeper insights than the App Store. Even cooler – users don’t have to update the app to receive and access new content, meaning new stuff goes straight into users’ hands. Once we receive and approve an app, we plug it into the platform and it appears on the user’s device in real-time.

The first two pages of the app will be split into “Around Campus” and “Developer’s Club”. All the apps and mobile sites pertaining directly to campus life will go on “Around Campus”, while other Stanford-built apps and cool stuff will go on the Developer’s Club page. We’re still working on a third page which will change all the time depending on the time of year. Fall quarter will likely include resources for frosh, football, and other autumn-y things for life at Stanford, for example.

But we need to start from somewhere. Step 1 is to scour the area for apps being built right now and launch version one of Stanford FoSho, so we are hereby opening our first round of submissions for the platform. Calling all Stanford developers: we want your apps! You can be a current student, recent grad, or anyone working on an app meant to serve the Stanford student body. Below are instructions on how to submit:

Step 1: Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StanfordFoSho

Step 2: Fill out this form: http://dashboard.metaneer.com/admins/sign_up?institution=14

Step 3: Wait to hear back! You will be hearing from a member of our team in the following days after completing steps 1 and 2.

If you have any other questions, want to network with us, or want to join our team, we’d love to talk. Contact us and learn more via the links below:

Email our team at: foshoteam@lists.stanford.edu

Learn more about us: https://studentaffairs.stanford.edu/fosho

Interested in joining our team? Contact the co-founders:

James Mwaura: james.mwaura88@gmail.com

Andrew Bellay: andrewbellay@gmail.com

 

iStanford launches for iPad this Thanksgiving Break

Monday, November 12th, 2012
Home screen

Page one of the home screen upon opening the app

If you’re lucky enough have an iPad, you just got a bit luckier. I’d like to introduce to you iStanford for iPad, the one way stop for all things Cardinal. If you’ve used the iPhone app, you already have an idea how iStanford provides a sleek, convenient mobile experience. The iPad version, however, has been completely rebuilt and redesigned for an ever smoother U/I experience, cool new features, and has integrated some of the most popular web services on the Farm. By combining features from Axess, ExploreCourses, Classowl, and others, iStanford demystifies the mobile side of the college experience.

iStanford was originally released in 2008 as a iPhone tool for students to access campus maps, course catalogs, email professors, and get news and information about Stanford sports teams. Since its first iteration, the app has undergone several face-lifts and added features, and now features real-time information about the campus shuttle service, the Marguerite, as well as campus trivia and class analytics.

“Students regard their mobile devices as indispensible to the way they learn, work and live,” said Thomas Black, Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs and University Registrar at Stanford University, whose team spearheaded the effort. “Providing them with the native tools they need to more intuitively navigate campus life in a way that feels normal and natural to them has been our primary focus throughout the iStanford initiative.”

Upon opening the app, the user is met with a series of tiles, each of which correspond to a Stanford-related feature. “My Academics” gives you quick access to your grades, GPA, and contact information. My personal favorite, “Classes” is a sleek, intuitive, take on explore courses. You can visually navigate through each department’s offered classes and easily access course descriptions, as well as see how different lecture or section times fit into your schedule. Neat stuff. Some of the more basic features include Stanfordwho, our campus directory, as well as Treevia, a quirky trivia game testing your knowledge on a wide array of Stanford facts.

My favorite feature: interactive course navigation

What makes iStanford for iPad really cool, though, is its integration of various Stanford-related features such as Classowl, OrgSync, and a few others. With Classowl, you can plan your school and social life in one convenient swoop, and Orgsync makes planning your club or student group’s meeting insanely easy. Along with Pathbrite, a feature offering next-gen e-portfolios, iStanford for iPad is really a one-stop shop. More info for Classowl, OrgSync, and Pathbrite is available on their respective websites.

So here’s a short to do list: First, find an iPad. Secondly, download iStanford when the app launches this Thanksgiving. I guarantee your Cardinal experience will get a whole lot easier. Visit the Facebook and Twitter pages for more info!

“The Dark Knight Rises” Tries too hard, fails

Monday, July 30th, 2012
Bane choking Batman

Like the Lebron of old, Christopher Nolan choked this summer. Here, Bane does some choking of his own.

With The Dark Knight having been as awesome as it was, I went into The Dark Knight Rises with very high expectations. The former had managed to find the fine line between drama and comic book movie (a line which I didn’t know existed, mind you) and one could only imagine that Christopher Nolan would create something even more magical, having found this cinematic sweet spot. Unfortunately, Nolan, being aware of how great The Dark Knight was, decided to make its successor essentially a clone of itself on steroids, weakly building on its strengths while exaggerating its weaknesses. TDKR tried to capture the subtle brilliance of TDK’s lengthy dialogues, the eerie believability of its action scenes, and the sensitivity of its more delicate moments, yet managed to be somewhat cheesy in its rendition of all three. It felt somewhat synthetic, as if the strengths of a great movie were being bulked up for a box office-smashing sequel. It’s sort of like the Mitt Romney of this summer’s movies; from afar, it seems to walk the walk but is much more staged and awkward at closer examination.

Don’t get me wrong – this was still close to as good as a comic book movie can get. The sheer awesomeness of the first two in this series makes us forget that we are still dealing a film in the same franchise as Jonah Hex, Green Lantern, and a few other disasters. Having not seen the first two Batman films, I would maybe even have clapped at the end of this movie as 200 people at the premier I went to felt compelled to do. However, knowing the ability Christopher Nolan possesses to create a film which is both visually and intellectually thrilling for the entirety of its runtime, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed overall and even slightly cheated at times. Please excuse a quick caps lock moment – ****SPOILER ALERT**** – alright, presuming I’ve scared away those who haven’t seen it yet, let me more specifically discuss what I mean:

Simply put, the movie was too long. Action movies need not (should not?) be 2 hours 45 minutes. I don’t think the adrenal gland – action movies’ best friend – is designed to keep grooving for that long. It felt as if Christopher Nolan had set a hard goal on this number, because I feel a lot of the movies’ problems could have been solved by cutting down some of the more mundane parts. There were dialogues and sequences in the middle of the movie that felt excessive and superfluous, and plot twists which featured the unfortunate double-whammy of being both difficult to follow and difficult to stay awake for.

I wanted to appreciate the heartfelt monologues doled out by Alfred numerous times in the movie, but found my more perverse Batman-fan side yearning to see stuff get blown up. I wanted to understand what the deal with the prison-well thing was, but couldn’t figure out for the life of me why every single person wasn’t escaping from the prison if you just needed to jump. (You’d think they’d be doing squats in their free time) I tried to calculate how long it would take the Federal government to do something about Bane in the absence of any law and order in Gotham, and decided it would have been much shorter than the months it seemed that a crew of rebels and deadbeats had the city on lockdown. I even wanted to believe that Bruce Wayne appearing at the very end after seemingly sacrificing himself, the ultimate okey-doke in feel-good action movies, wasn’t just Christopher Nolan securing future revenue streams with a disappointing and sickeningly predictable plot twist.

Instead of shooting each other with their assault rifles, the Good Guys and Bad Guys ran at each other all Lord-of-the-Rings-like. Bizarre.

Even the allusions to the struggle of the rich vs. poor felt half-hearted. While Catwoman’s various comments throughout the movie are clearly a parallel to the Occupy Wall Street movement, I’d prefer it was either discussed in more detail or not mentioned altogether rather than such a nuanced and controversial topic be glanced over as carelessly as it was.

Again, all of these are examples of things The Dark Knight did well. TDK managed to combine well-written and well-executed dialogues, a plodding narrative which took the perfect amount of time to develop, bits of social commentary that felt honest and genuine, and non-stop action which made the hair on your neck stand up, due to both how breathtaking it was and how real it seemed. The newest version tried to one-up itself on all of those measures, leaving much to be desired and a sense of Christopher Nolan having missed his chance to think outside the box.

In fairness Catwoman was cool, but ends up playing an awkward part-time role in the film, sort of like a summer intern at a big company. It’s a shame, because I would have really liked to see her and Bruce Wayne/Batman get weird. Just saying.