Hack Upstate, Fall ’13

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”  -William James

Hi Readers,

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a local engineering event open to the public (provided advanced registration was duly made online) called Hack Upstate, which this year, was held at “The Tech Garden” in nearby Syracuse. This was a gathering of bright minds from all over New York state, who got together with the sole purpose of seeing what kinds of crazy projects could be attempted (and even more, completed!) over the course of an ever-so-short 24 hour window. The word “hack” in the name might imply a certain affinity for computer programming, and while there were certainly a majority of code projects on display, the competition is not limited to them in any way. There were some incredible feats of electrical and computer engineering accomplished for such a short amount of work time, and that is just the tip of the iceberg! The purpose of the competition is to utilize existing technologies in interesting ways – apart from that, there are virtually no restrictions on what can be attempted.

The Gathering Room

The Presentation Room

There were people from all walks of life present – even non tech-oriented types who simply had ideas they wanted to see realized. It truly was a melting pot for innovation. One group materialized a web-based game utilizing the popular Bandcamp website, wherein players could vote on randomly generated bands in order to find the so-called “best band on Bandcamp”. Another group created a website where stories are dynamically created by the users of the site – any user could add new branches or alternate endings, etc.. to an existing story, at will. Cool stuff.

Now, this probably sounds like all work and no fun, right? Think again! Organized by the show-runners of Syracuse Startup Weekend, Hack Upstate is a less formal event that takes place twice a year, and is a rockin’ good time meant to encourage interaction amongst the participants in fun ways. It starts with idea pitching, where anyone can come up in front of the audience and try to sell their idea to everyone in the hopes of finding talent to help work on it. After the competition begins, its just a party, with practically unlimited pizza and subs and free reign to do pretty much whatever you want. (There’s even an award given to the most social/engaging group of the competition!) A few of us groups got together and decided to go to a local venue nearby and do work while listening to some live music – truly a memorable experience.

Funk N Waffles

Enjoying some jams at Funk N Waffles while coding away!

Repping Oswego was myself and recent alumni Nick Poorman, a former Computer Science major and founder of Regattable, a startup operating out of the Tech Garden in Syracuse. Being a relatively new event with little publicity, it is understandable that not more of us techies from Oswego showed up. However, I am going to go ahead and use this as an opportunity to call on all tech majors at Oswego (Computer Science, IS, ECE, etc…) to bring yourselves and your “A” game to the next event in the Spring! So, join Hacker League today and keep an eye peeled for the upcoming Hack Upstate in Spring 2014. Hopefully I’ll see you all there!

Any questions or comments you have about the event, its organizers, or who the winners were, submit in the comments below!


How technology has made us better than our parents

Ok, we get it . This generation has been “ruined” by technology. We no longer communicate face to face, we cyberbully our peers, we are always “connected” through the ipod, the computer, or ” that Nintendo” ( as my dad insist on calling every gaming console).

Everyday that I read a new article or blog the message is always the same, We have reached our demise via technology. Ironically enough most of the articles or forums where this complaint can be read are online…via” that damned technology.” Not to mention it was their peers who helped to usher us into this new technological age. My favorite teachers cried and boohooed at the death of the walkman and inevitable fate of the cd player due to the arrival of the ipod. Back then the concept did seem a little egregious. Is it necessary to have a music device that holds 1,500 songs?! Now 9 years later, could you  imagine if your ipod/iphone only held 1,500 songs?


Every time I text for too long in the kitchen , my sister , 38, says the same thing ” all you young people do is text , text, text, that thing is gonna get you guys in trouble.” I playfully argue with her that it makes everything better to which of course she vehemently disagrees. Later she sends me a text with a picture of my 9 month old niece. They say that we no longer communicate, we lack interpersonal skills.  This past summer however, I spoke to a friend located on a different continent ,4 hours ahead of me nearly all month through blackberry’s BBM. Time and distance never seemed a problem.

The irony is that for all the complaining and somewhat condescending remarks. The argument can be made that technology has made us better. I am not even sure students of this generation get the credit they deserve. The distraction of the babyboomers consisted of noisy dorm hallways and inconsiderate roommates blasting music . How can my mom relate to trying to write a 8 page paper in this technological climate? When Facebook is in the background, my blackberry is flashing a new message notification, a roommate laughing from another funny cat video on YouTube and someone is trying to reach me through skype or ovoo. Oh, the hallways are still noisy and the music still blares from the other side of the  room.

So next time your grandparent,parent or professor starts up on their technology has ruined us bit, just remember (whispers) they are just jealous we’re better than them. In the mean time. I am going to go microwave some food and Facebook a before class. Technology, gotta love it.

Magazines, the Power of Print

During my first day of classes, one of my professors made it blatantly clear that she doesn’t believe journalists have any shot at getting a job upon graduation; that journalists are essentially signing up to be poor for the next 10 years. While this professor was semi-accurate about the pay (if you are pursuing journalism thinking you’re going to be a millionaire, I encourage you to change fields now), she was not right about the fact that journalists can’t get a job after graduation.

Unfortunately, it seems as though she has bought into the fallacy that print is dying because the Internet is overtaking all other forms of media. This notion, however, is inaccurate. It’s simply not how media works. People don’t abandon one form of media for another, but rather make room in their lives for the new media outlet while hanging on to the style they already love. So, in the hopes that professors follow this blog, I’m posting these two videos that show proven facts about media and the rising sales of print magazines.

Magazines, the Power of Print

The 20 Tweetable Truths About Magazines

Magazine Publishers of America are also running their “Magazines, the Power of Print” ad campaigns within the print editions of more than 100 titles. These ads are so powerful and they use multiple magazine titles to prove that magazines are thriving rather than disappearing. Yes, some magazines have folded in recent years (R.I.P. Gourmet), but numerous titles have launched and proven themselves successful (Yay, Food Network Magazine!)

I understand that newspapers have taken a slight turn for the worse, but please don’t keep telling students that print is going to be dead soon. It’s simply not true. And I plan on proving this professor wrong by landing a job in the magazine industry soon after I graduate.

New way of communicating

So I just got an iPhone! This means I’ll be able to blog on the go. Life has been absolutely amazing lately. SA is more than I thought it would be. I spend a lot of time in the office getting things ready for the year. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad thing, but I sure wish I had some people here to help me.

There is a lot to plan. The director of SAPB and I, along with the help of the concerts coordinator are planning an opening concert for September. As of now we think it will be an alternative rock or ska group. Reel Big Fish is at the top of the list and we are working hard to figure out the exact date to have the concert on. Residence Life and Housing is having their annual Lakerfest, so we are hoping to cap off the day with an outdoor concert.

It’s things like this that I love about my job. Although I must do a lot of the “business” stuff, I don’t enjoy it as much as the event planning and creative stuff.

Well, today is my birthday so I’m out for the day. Have a great holiday weekend everyone.

Livin’ the Dream

After completing six local journalism internships, I knew this summer was my chance to break out of my comfort zone and really chase my dreams. What it all boils down to is New York City. I’ve always wanted to live here and I’ve always wanted to work in the magazine industry. So after months of scouring for internships, frantically filling out applications and sending off my best work to people who didn’t know me, I waited.

And waited.

Whenever life got me down and I second-guessed my skills and education, I turned to two things. FRIENDS, and “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. The two completely capture the essence of New York City and the dreams that I want to achieve. “Empire State of Mind” became my theme song, my mantra to keep me motivated and inspired.

Concrete jungle where dreams are made of

There’s nothing you can’t do,  now you’re in New York

These streets will make you feel brand new

These lights will inspire you

Let’s hear it for New York

It didn’t matter that I grew up in wide open spaces, in a town with more cows than people. Or that our best option for a night out was a 30-minute drive to the closest movie theater with some friends and a bag of popcorn. All that mattered was that the glossy pages that came in my mailbox each month meant the world to me, and I needed to immerse myself in that world. New York City wasn’t about the hustle and bustle that people automatically associate with this place. To me, New York City was about livin’ the dream.

FRIENDS captures the homey, loving and endearing side of New York City, and it’s the show that made me fall in love with this place before I realized what journalism really was. It emphasized that New York City, again, wasn’t always about hustle and bustle.

Instead, it was about opportunity. It was about being carefree. It was about enjoying life. I wanted that life.

The witty banter and carefree friendships on this show captured my hometown and the people I wanted to meet while living my dream. Whenever I need to relax with a few laughs, I pop in one of the ten seasons (yes, I have each one) of this show and it works every single time. This show not only made New York City about fulfilling a dream, it became about getting the lifestyle I wanted.

Without these things, I’m not sure what my mantra would have been, what my support system would be like. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not doubting my friends, family and teachers who have helped me along the way. Without them, there’s no way I would be here. But you need to enjoy the small things in life, too. You need something to keep pushing you, to remind you of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. These two things do it for me. I encourage you to find yours.

There’s nothing you can’t do, now you’re in New York.

Let’s show ’em what I’m made of.

Living the Crazy, Good Life

Life in New York City is crazy.

But in such an amazing, satisfying, beautiful way.

I’ve been so extremely busy at work but I love every second of my day. I work almost nonstop from 9 a.m. to around 5:30 p.m., but I love everything I’m doing. The days just fly by and then I have events to go to at night so I can get my networking on.

Tonight I went to a Microsoft preview event at Stage 37 with my ASME mentor, Lorelei, and my ASME coordinator, Nina. Technically, they were set up with me to help me succeed, but they’ve become so much more than that. They’re my friends, my confidantes, and they’ve got my back in this crazy magazine industry we all love to immerse ourselves in. Believe me, there’s nothing like having a few good people behind you to make sure you succeed in the end. And when you’re friends with those who have already broken into the industry, it’s even better.

So back to the Microsoft event. They had some pretty cool new equipment coming out — my favorite involved a system for the XBox 360 called Kinect. It tracks your movements through camera sensors and allows you to move around without any controllers. My favorite game was Dance Central, which was made in collaboration with MTV Games. It reminded me of Dance Dance Revolution, but it’s a lot less complicated and more fun. You can pull off silly dance moves (such as disco moves and chicken leg) and advance the levels through a wide variety of songs. We were able to test out the game right then and there, and it was a lot of fun. Personally, I rocked Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” This game is definitely going to sell.

But my night wasn’t over.

After we left Stage 37, we headed over to West 30th for Robert Verdi’s fashion event. It was held at this really high-end apartment (I wish I could live there) and we enjoyed casual conversation while learning about his new endorsements. I wish I had some pictures of the apartment for you, but here’s some of the stuff from the goodie bag.

There was a lot of other great stuff in the bag, but Lorelei, Nina and I split the bag.

So that was basically my day, once you add in a lot of work for FITNESS, too. Oh, and did I mention I had lunch with the Deputy Editor at The New Yorker today? Yeah, that also happened.

So yes, I love my life. I’ll have some more stories for you soon!

Getting into ASME

Working at a magazine is everything I’ve imagined it would be.

People keep asking me how great my internship is and whether or not I love what I’m doing, and that’s the only thing I can say in response. Working at FITNESS has been amazing and it’s only been a week. I’ve already learned so much; I’ve floated between departments so that I’m getting a taste of everything to figure out what I like.

I want to explain how I got this amazing internship so that future aspiring journalists can possibly take the same route. Beginning my junior year of college, I started looking for bigger internships because I had already completed my required one last summer at the Utica Observer-Dispatch newspaper (Journalism majors at Oswego State are required to complete at least one).  I always knew I wanted to work in New York City someday, so that was my first location to scour. Seventeen was at the top of my list because that’s one of my dream jobs. Then Professor Loomis forwarded me an e-mail to apply for an internship with the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME), which operates under the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA). It told me that if I were accepted, I would be placed at one of 21 magazines in New York City as a paid intern. I was sold.

After a long application process and an even longer wait, I got the great news that I had been accepted! ASME is an extremely competitive program: only 24 interns are accepted, 21 to N.Y.C. and three to Washington, D.C. Later, I found out I’d be working at FITNESS, my number one choice out of the participating magazines! Life couldn’t get any better.

Now that I’m here, I’ve learned how competitive and how prestigious this program actually is. People in Human Resources look for ASME on resumes when deciding who’s going to get an interview. And the community here is incredibly strong. In the magazine industry, and many others, it’s all about who you know these days. Your contacts get you the interview; your skills get you the job. And once you’re in ASME, the community there has got your back. It’s often being compared to a sorority, and I just finished pledging.

So to anyone looking to break into the magazine industry: apply to be an ASME intern. You must have completed your junior year, heading into your senior year. You need two recommendations, an application, and a bunch of other little things. Download the application and start plugging away. This could be your foot in the door.

Oh, and don’t think that you can’t get in just because you go to a small school. Yes, I’m the first one to get in at Oswego State, but I’m confident I won’t be the last.

Safety FIRST!!! Yes that means you.

At SUNY Oswego, University Police has gotten even more clever in order to find best measures and practical solutions to providing safety to the campus community. The system is called Rave Guardian. Over the past several years we have seen numerous tragedies and various offenses on college campuses. In response colleges and universities across the country have decided to learn and find ways to promote safety and security of their campuses, but most importantly educating the campus communities about safety.

It has been seen that just about 98% of students and even faculty carry cell phones. Just over the past two years cell phones have merged into a superpower with such mega-phones such as the iPhone and blackberry amongst many others. There is even a trend of touch screen phones on the market that are must haves for just about anyone. As a result, it was thought that cell phones could be used as a safety device in addition to all its other capabilities.

Rave guardian is a wireless program that can be used on your phone to alert officers when you need help. This ‘IS NOT A CLOCKING DEVICE and I repeat, this ‘IS NOT A CLOCKING DEVICE’. The guardian allows you to dial a number to alert the system to who you are, what you look like, and where you’re located. The wireless system does not track your whereabouts all the time. It ONLY tracks you when you activate it via your phone. So please rest assure that no one is watching you or anything that your doing.

Rave guardian is activated on a timer so that when you dial the number you can place a time (i.e. 10 minutes, 15 minutes, etc.) for when your walking home late at night by yourself or even with a group, driving home from work, a bar, and/or even a friends house to name a few. Once you get to your destination then you shut the system off. In the event that something were to happen to you the time you enter would expire and authorities will contact you to ensure your safety. You can activate the system with your phone anywhere possible as long as you get sufficient signal.

You can learn more about Rave Guardian by reading an article “GPS and a Safe Student” by Kathy Coffta Sims of the Post Standard. Our very own Police Chief Adam took part in the story. To learn more about Rave Guardian directly you can visit their website also. Most of all I encourage you to register today or as soon as you’re able at https://www.getrave.com/login/oswego . All of this information is designed to make our communities safer and when you get a chance to do something like that we want as many people to participate as possible. The best message I can give you is to be prepared and not scared.