Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

ME 101 Inspiration

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

It’s that time of year again – ME 101 students put in millions of hours to make amazing projects that seem to take over dorm hallways. In order to provide a little inspiration to those students, here’s a top notch project in a surprising place –


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Stanford Proposes $2.5 Billion NYC Campus

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

A model of Stanford's proposed NYC campus on Roosevelt Island.

With Big Apple-sized ambition, Stanford submitted today its proposal to build a $2.5 billion, 1.9-million-square-foot tech campus called StanfordNYC, responding to Mayor Bloomberg’s request for proposals to turn New York City into the world’s next great high-tech hub. Stanford is proposing a “world-class applied science and engineering campus” on Roosevelt Island, with an emphasis on turning research in engineering, technology, and entrepreneurship into viable businesses. The campus would be at the graduate level only.

So how would all of this come to pass? Here’s how Stanford breaks it down in its 600-page proposal:

If all of this did happen according to plan, Stanford expects some wild results, including the creation of 7,000 construction jobs for New York and over a 100,000 new jobs created within the first 20 to 30 years of the campus. Stanford’s chief competitor is Cornell, which has also submitted a proposal for a Roosevelt Island campus. The deadline for submissions is October 28, and while Stanford expects to hear an answer from the city by the end of the year, the mayor’s office has stated that a decision will likely come in 2012.

This proposal is unquestionably bold, and the job numbers are preliminary at best. But is it quixotic? Stanford’s administration certainly does not think so, and it is ramping up the heat against Cornell to compete for the city’s attention. Cornell cited its already-strong connection to New York through its medical campus as one its big cards, whereas President Hennessy, a native New Yorker, told the New York Times, “We know how to get young people involved in start-ups. Cornell’s disadvantage is all its start-ups put together are smaller than Google.”

Stanford is already a global research institution, and as a student studying abroad in Madrid, I can confirm that its brand has already reached some very far corners of the world. How much more of a presence do we need? StanfordNYC is an intriguing concept, but I would like to see and hear more from Stanford’s administration about why it would be the best use of a major chunk of Stanford’s resources in the upcoming decades. The proposed campus may be far, but the money and manpower will hit pretty close to home.

A Tribute to a Fruitful Life – RIP Steve Jobs

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

Yesterday the world was shocked after hearing the news that innovator and entrepreneur extraordinaire Steve Jobs passed away. Considering that he inspired so many people through out his life, its no wonder that yesterday was just as fruitful as the rest of his long career with Apple. People were as immensely creative in remembering him as he was in creating products that raised the bar in technology.

One example is this gorgeous picture created by Hong Kong student Jonathan Mak:

The Class of ’05 sparked an amazing speech in which Jobs makes us all reevaluate what we’re doing with our own lives:

And my favorite tweet of yesterday is:
CNBC : “Pres. Obama: There may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than fact that much of world learned of his passing on a device he invented.”

It would take too long to cover all the tributes being made to Steve Jobs right now, but here is list compiled on Storify with other amazing images.

I would say iMiss you, but I know that its weMiss you, Steve Jobs. Thank you for changing technology.

Raunk: your guide to Stanford and beyond!

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

The home page - rank everything under the sun!

Do you remember that squeaky-clean Internet feeling?  Like your first email account?  When you discovered YouTube?  When your mom finally let you get a Facebook?  You personalized your messages with obnoxious colors and fonts, you couldn’t stop watching funny videos of cats, and you probably overused the “Like” button with a vengeance.

Exploring Raunk* was just like that for me.  Quite simply, Raunk is the website brainchild of current Stanford students that lets you rank everything ever.  And it’s like the Powerthirst of ranking.

I kept seeing people “Raunk” things on my Facebook feed.  Always intrigued by the emergence of a new noun-turned-verb, I had to try it out.  Within seconds of logging in via my Facebook account I was ranking away, expressing my opinions via slider bar on Raunk‘s sleek user interface.  Raunk is tremendously easy and fun to use, and its elegant simplicity makes it easy to quantify whatever you’re evaluating.  Looking for a tasty restaurant in the Palo Alto area?  A fun TV series to fill the time before school?  The best fruit?  Heck, a new programming language to play around with?  Raunk‘s got it all and more.

Patron Saint of Incoming Freshmen

Raunk helps you make the most of freshman year

Raunk is perhaps optimally suited for the plight of the incoming freshman.  Sweet and starry-eyed, laden with half the Bookstore’s clothing inventory and a preponderance of laundry paraphernalia, incoming frosh are appreciative sponges for advice.  What better resource than a highly quantified, topical, and organized website with a strong Stanford influence? (more…)

Bridging People and Technology with Design

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Image Credits (all images): Rainmakers Live Photographers Ray Quek and Gareth Yeo

Rainmakers LIVE! are a team of Stanford University students passionate about entrepreneurship and technology. This last tuesday, they held their second live event at AOL headquarters in Palo Alto called “Bridging People and Technology with Design“. It was an event that comprised of a live panel of speakers with various backgrounds specializing in different areas relating to design, discussing everything from user interface to user experience, to how design influences their businesses and what they think of when they think of design.

The panel of speakers were:

  • Garry Tan – Formerly cofounder of Posterous and currently an Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR) at Y-Combinator (a startup accelerator)
  • Kevin Fox – Formerly of Google, FriendFeed, Facebook, and Mozilla
  • Luke Wroblewski – Formerly of eBay and Yahoo! and currently is the cofounder of Bagcheck
  • Jason Putorti – Formerly Lead Designer of and currently co-founder of Votizen
  • Jessica Mah – Cofounder of Indinero


Stanford Startup Accelerator Program and Demo Day

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Image Credit: My Apple iPhone 4 (apologies for the image quality)

On Wednesday, StartX, formerly known as Stanford Student Enterprises (SSE) Labs, a non-profit startup accelerator designed to accelerate the development of Stanford’s top entrepreneurs, held their Demo Day event where startups who participated in the StartX program got to pitch their startups to investors and the general public. StartX began as an incubator-like program out of Stanford and was cofounded by Dan Ha and Cameron Teitelman. Since then, the program has branched out to operate out of AOL’s headquarter in Palo Alto, CA.

The program provides a vast number of mentors and help as well as office space via AOL’s office spaces for startups to work out of. Unlike other incubator programs such as Y-Combinator, TechStars, and others, StartX does not take equity in the companies that are approved for the program. The only requirement is that at least one team member applying must be a Stanford student or alum. I was thoroughly impressed by the set up they had and all of the participants greatly attribute any success they had in participation of the program.


Jack Dorsey on the History of Twitter and Square

Friday, May 27th, 2011

Jack Dorsey Pic
Image Credit: James Ryang

Last Wednesday evening, I attended a talk at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco with Jack Dorsey, co-founder and executive chairman of Twitter and co-founder and CEO of Square. On this day, Jack walked us through his past and the history of how Twitter and Square came about. It was truly a fascinating story.

Cities and What Happens In Them

It all started when Jack was about 8-years old. He grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and always had this unexplainable fascination, perhaps borderline obsession, with cities. He couldn’t explain what it was about them but because of this, Jack would collect maps of all sorts of cities. To him, Manhattan was the holy grail because there were 8 million people there on any given day doing all sorts of things. This meant lots of activities and various things going on inside Manhattan. And he found all of it interesting. At age 14, he would stumble onto programming solely for the purpose of being able to plot dots on a digital map so that he could visualize these cities. At first, the dots didn’t have any real meaning to them. They were just dots he could add to the maps. He just wanted to be able to do it and self-taught himself programming to do just that. However, at the time, his parents had an old police scanner and he found that by listening in, he could hear about all the things currently going on with the ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars. They would often report what was going on, and where these emergency vehicles were located, and where they were headed. Suddenly Jack has this idea to map out the coordinates of these emergency vehicles and color code them to indicate which was an ambulance, which was a fire truck, and which was a police vehicle. Now, he could roughly see where they were and roughly estimate the path and routes they were traveling to get to their intended destination through these moving dots on this digital map.

He would later find out that there was an official name and profession for what he was doing called dispatch. A few years later, when he was older, he landed a job with Dispatch Management Solutions in New York. A company that tracked various activities throughout the city including trains, taxis, couriers, and emergency vehicles. It was much more sophisticated than the dot system he had programmed years before and he felt like he had just landed in heaven. To be able to visualize the pulse of the city and see what was happening was amazing to him. Eventually though, Jack left DMS and decided to relocate to northern California, where the internet was booming and everything web related was happening. He wanted to build his own dispatch system, one that would be web based. Although things didn’t work out as he planned and his dream failed, one thing he did noticed through all this experience was that dispatch gave a pulse of what was happening in the city at any given time, but the one thing gravely missing from all this were the citizens. Where were they and what were they doing? This was the seed that would eventually give birth to Twitter.


Don’t want to wait in line for Ike’s? Then go to class!

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

No, I'm not kidding. You can cut the line at Ike's.

Let’s face it, most of us have skipped class at one point or another during our Stanford careers. Whether you missed class because you think that you can cover the material on your own or because you were tired because you were up all night trying to cover material that you missed in class or just because you didn’t feel like it, the thing is, sometimes we’re missing out on the incredible academic opportunities that we ostensibly came to this university for. Plus I’m pretty sure professors do notice when three times the regular attendance shows up to the midterms. And I’m sure it hurts. If only we had something more than world-class professors who care about us to convince students that showing up to class was actually a good idea…

Lucky for us, now there’s an app for that. Stanford grads Andrew Bellay and Weston McBride have released CreditU, an app (currently for iOS only but Android and other versions are in the works) that rewards students for getting to class on time. As they put it, “half of the battle is just showing up – literally.” How do they plan on getting students to go to class? Through CreditU, they’re offering rewards like “free coffee and burritos, signed footballs, and the ability to cut to the front of the line at Ike’s.” Wait, the chance to bypass the hours-long line at Ike’s? I’m sold.


If It Ain’t Broke…. Why I Don’t Support the Stanford NYC Campus Proposal

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

A study in contrasts.

West Coast, best coast.

As a SoCal native and lifelong Californian, to me this phrase sums up not only the Californian lifestyle and culture but also the tremendous advantages of going to school in the beautiful, entrepreneurial West.  Right next to San Francisco and San Jose, smack dab in the middle of Silicon Valley (and 45 minutes from the beach!), we have all the resources a pioneering academic institution needs for inspiration, exchange, and advancement.

Why mess with that?  Interestingly, in the past few months, some Stanford administrators have proposed the creation of an additional Stanford campus in New York City.

Granted, there are some valid motivations.  Because “New York dominates the fields of finance, media and fashion, but has underachieved in science and engineering,” Mayor Bloomberg and others have requested that universities submit proposals for new technical graduate programs to be launched in the city (Wall Street Journal).  President Hennessy and others have argued that a Stanford satellite campus could transform New York into a second Silicon Valley.  Per Hennessy, a NYC campus would make Stanford a “world-class model for the multi-campus university” and “increase the university’s visibility on the East Coast and perhaps connect with new sources of philanthropic support.”

Were money, time, and resources no object, this might represent an interesting academic experiment.  However, in my opinion this is an unnecessary venture that is at best an altruistic publicity stunt and at worst an expensive and distracting dilution of the international prestige of our wonderful University.

Stanford letter jackets: so hip during the Renaissance

Call me Machiavelli…

…but what do we stand to gain from a New York campus?  We already have our Silicon Valley, with all of the wonderfully symbiotic relationships with industry that it entails.  Helping New York found its own tech region would be a retrogressive move, retracing steps we’ve already taken and perfected out west.  Indeed, even if our primary motivator were altruism, wouldn’t it be more useful to build on that which is already excellent than to reinvent the wheel as a mere side project?  While I definitely agree with President Hennessy that “we are a university that serves the nation,” I think we’d do both ourselves and the nation the biggest service by continuing and expanding operations from our California campus instead of distracting ourselves from our central aims by starting from scratch in New York.


Why Stanford: Admit Weekend 2011

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

The best place to spend the next four years of your life. (Photo cred: Molly MacKenzie)

The sun is shining brightly.  The track and fielders are thwarting gravity right outside my window, and Stanford’s very own Wind of Freedom is lilting happily through the trees.

As I write this post, gazing happily from the relative calm of the Visitor Information Center, it is easy to forget that we are about to be invaded.  Swarmed.  Rendered under siege.  But actually.  Starting this Thursday, good luck biking anywhere, ’cause we’ll all be wading waist deep through ProFros and their parents.  Oh, baby, it’s Admit Weekend season.

Welcome, ProFros, to the TUSB “Why Stanford” list.  The all-inclusive, ever-so-persuasive, quantitative canon of why you really should just click “yes” already and spend Admit Weekend living it up with your future classmates.  Using the latest and greatest metrics Stanford has to offer, I am about to blow your inquisitive minds as only a tour guide can.  Drumroll please….

5.  We Got Game:  #1 Division I Athletics Program

Come watch our BCS Bowl football team, #1 men's swimming team, women's basketball Final Four team, etc., etc.

  • Every year, the Director’s Cup is given to the #1 Div. I athletics program in the nation.  We’ve won it for the last 16 years.
  • If Stanford had been its own nation in the 20048 Beijing Olympics, we would have placed 19th in the world.
  • We have 35 Varsity sports.
  • We have extensive club and intramural sports programs, including sports as diverse as Ultimate Frisbee, inner-tube water polo, sand volleyball, and basketball.
  • All Stanford sports games (besides playoffs) are FREE to all Stanford students.
  • 83% of Stanford students participate in some sort of athletic activity.  This is because we have amazing activity and athletic course offerings.  After Stanford’s classes in sailing, fencing, and archery, you, too, can kick it like Captain Jack Sparrow.  Word.

Stanford alumna Sigourney Weaver rocks the Cardinal

4.  So Hot Right Now:  the Value of the Stanford Brand

In case you missed my earlier article on How Stanford is Redefining Cool, let me break it down for you.  Stanford has been the #1 dream school according to Princeton Review surveys for the past three years.  We have over a dozen career fairs on campus every year, because international employers respect the value of a Stanford education and swarm our campus on a regular basis to recruit our talent.  Not convinced?  How about Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck giving up a probable #1 NFL draft pick and multimillion dollar starting salary to finish out his senior year?

If you’re reading this as a ProFro, major props – you conquered a 7% admissions rate to be where you are today.  Consider, for a moment, the flip side of the coin.  32,022 students applied this year.  That’s approximately the population of Monaco.  You’re in a tremendously desirable position.  You were one of the chosen few, and you have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend the best four years of your life here at Stanford.


The Death of Innovation

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

Google recently announced that it would soon be launching a new product – the +1 button. Apparently this feature will allow the best sites and organizations on the web to be propelled to the top of Google’s search list. It allows consumers to share their most beloved websites and influence the results that the giant search engine sends them. It’s Facebook’s Like button, but Googlized.

My first impression of the +1 button was both disgust and sadness. For me, it was the nail on the coffin of innovation. It seems like, for years now, instead of trying to think of new ideas, our favorite online  conglomerates are in a race to dominate one another rather than think of what will uniquely improve the online experience for their users. What happened to new ideas? What happened to innovation? (more…)

TUSB’s 2011 Spring Course Guide

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Given the hectic nature of winter quarter, you might be so overwhelmed with this quarter’s classes that you haven’t had a chance to figure out classes for next quarter.  Have no fear, TUSB is here!

The following lists include courses for even the most insatiable appetite, whether you’re looking for enriching courses in the sciences, arts, or humanities.  Hoping to check off that GER or pick up that eleventh or twelfth unit?  We can help you out, too.

Here’s to making this spring quarter the most academically exciting one yet!

Exploring the arts:

Meme overload? Now you can study up on the replication fad in pop culture.

The Stanford Institute for Creativity and the Arts has produces some really cool Creativity Course Guides.  Check out the full selection here.  My personal favorites are below.


The Flipside’s $7,000 Joke

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

The Flipside's requested Segway could have many uses, including a quick trip down University Ave for some Pizza My Heart.

How much are you willing to pay for a good laugh? For The Stanford Flipside, seven grand is fair game.

In its latest issue, The Flipside announced that it has requested a Segway in its special fees budget for next year. The Segway appears as a $7,000 “Equipment Purchase” in The Flipside’s actual budget, viewable on the ASSU Elections website. The Flipside staff aren’t making any attempts at subtlety, either; the futuristic electric vehicle comprises just under half of the club’s $14,400 funding request.

The funny thing is, they’re only half-kidding. According to the club’s President, Jeremy Keeshin, “One of our goals with the Segway is to call attention to a lot of the line-items in other groups’ budgets that are easily overlooked. There are groups with $80,000 or $100,000 budgets that may include way more than $10,000 of unnecessary spending but are overlooked because of a large budget. We encourage you to look for the Segways in other people’s budgets.”

Keeshin has a point. KZSU, for instance, is requesting almost $30,000 for their salaries for their officers. The Stanford Daily continuously asks the student body to chip in for their printing costs, for which they last year received $89,500; The Daily claims that the money is meant to serve as a small subscription fee for campus-wide service. Meanwhile, Stanford students happen to be very generous when it comes to the budgets of student groups. They rejected just six special fees requests in 2010, and rejected none of the requests in 2009, in the trough of America’s lingering recession.


Video Games Have Soundtracks?!

Monday, February 21st, 2011

As many people have heard, Christopher Tin, Stanford Alum, recently won a Grammy for his song Baba Yetu.

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It’s an amazing song, with lyrics translating to the Our Father prayer in Swahili. It was released on his 2009 album named Calling All Dawns. But it first gained note as the main theme song to Civilization IV in 2005. It may have taken the world 6 years to uncover this gem, but some PC gamers have appreciated the song for quite a while now. Isn’t that a shame?


Sexism is a Cold, Smelly Fish

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

This is my "oh-no-you-didn't" face.

It had seemed so promising.

Sneaking into Huang Engineering that evening back in late August when they still hadn’t quite figured out the locks, my friends and I were awed by the pristine perfection of the shiny new building.  Window-walled study rooms!  Verdant terraces!  Gratuitously large wooden steps!

We frolicked down the hallways and struck poses in the octahedral conference room.  But my heart plummeted after my jubilant arrival at the bottom of those Hagrid-sized steps.  For there, in the middle of Stanford’s metaphorical Mecca of engineering, I was confronted with the following words:

“Brotherhood of Engineers”

Once again, I felt the slap across my face of the cold, smelly fish of sexism in engineering.

To preempt the inevitable opposition

Yes, I understand that the plaque was intended to honor the laudable historic precedent of ground-breaking male partnerships and collaborations in Stanford engineering.  One can’t glance at a Stanford campus map or surf the web without being reminded of our dynamic duos: Hewlett & Packard, Larry Page & Sergey Brin (the Google guys), Jerry Yang & David Filo (the Yahoo! guys), etc., etc.

So the numbers don’t lie.  But while it is true that engineering developments of Stanford past have been male dominated, it is inappropriate and alienating to propagate this gender imbalance through a bronze immortalization in a multi-million dollar building.

"Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels." - Texas Governor Ann Richards

Exclusivity discourages diversity

Gender imbalance in engineering is a serious issue.  According to statistics collected by the Society of Women Engineers, women account for only one-fifth of engineers at national universities, and the percentages have been decreasing in recent years.  My beloved Electrical Engineering is only a depressing 14% female by degrees earned.  It’s not that women are somehow academically unqualified: women are outpacing men in overall participation in higher education, taking the SAT more often, and earning more degrees than men (see Time Magazine).  It’s that female engineers are confronted with the constant menace of stereotype threat.

No online article stated it more clearly and concisely than the Harvard Crimson: many women in engineering “struggl[e] with the persistent sense that [they are] unwelcome or unqualified.”  Women also get screwed over in the engineering pay scale, earning 71-74 cents for every dollar earned by a male counterpart, according to the NSF.  According to the U.K. Times, a “predatory or condescending culture [towards women] was more common across the workplace 20 to 30 years ago but has somehow survived in an engineering, science and technology context.”