Take A Look Through A New Window

Posted Posted by Mason Clemens in Comments 0 comments

Windows 10 is almost here!

What to expect?

The best way to describe Windows 10 is the beautiful combination of the best features and looks from both Windows 7 and Windows 8. For those of you that love the simplicity of Windows 7, they are bringing the Start Menu/Button back! For those of you who love the innovative flow of Windows 8, there is a full screen mode of the start menu to get the large tiles and blocks. Every device known to man (laptop, tablet, phone, xbox, etc.) will have an interface called Windows 10 that will be almost identical with some minor differences. The new look is sharp and sleek. Microsoft is finally focusing on its appearance and giving itself a good self image. Instead of copying its competitors, they are going for their own feel and style.

 You can check out ALL of its features at some of our older blogs.


Windows 10 Preview Video:

How much will it cost?

FREE! With little to no catch. At first, Windows said it would be free for a year, but now they have confirmed that it is free for life as long as you claim it shortly after it comes out. Here is the official fine print from Windows 10 page on Microsoft's website:

“It is our intent that most of these devices will qualify, but some hardware/software requirements apply and feature availability may vary by device. Devices must be connected to the internet and have Windows Update enabled. ISP fees may apply. Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 Update required. Some editions are excluded: Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise, and Windows RT/RT 8.1. Active Software Assurance customers in volume licensing have the benefit to upgrade to Windows 10 Enterprise outside of this offer. We will be sharing more information and additional offer terms in coming months.”

In other words, if you have Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, then you can get it for free and download it yourself. If you have a business version of Windows or a Surface RT, then you are out of luck.

So... When is it available?

Beta versions are available, however I do not suggest you use them while at Harding because DormNet will not support your computer if it has a problem. Experts believe that the full blown version will be released no earlier than June 2015, but it is definitely coming out in the summer at some point and time. At Microsoft's Build conference in April, they are supposed to announce the official release date of Windows 10.

Other Things to Watch From Microsoft

Microsoft Surface Hub: A 55 inch and 84 inch TV that acts like a Windows tablet/computer.

Microsoft HoloLens: The era of holographic computing at your fingertips and in your daily life.

Project Spartan: FORGET INTERNET EXPLORER. A new Microsoft browser is cleaner and faster.

Sling TV: The Future of Television

Posted Posted by Andrew Cause in Comments 0 comments

As college students, most of us have never personally experienced the frustrations of setting up cable TV in our homes, but we have certainly seen the effects. Inflexible channel packages, long-term contracts with early-termination fees, and don't even get me started on taking a whole day off work just to wait for the cable guy to come set up your box in your home. Sometimes people just wanna say "MAKE IT STOP! There must be a better way!"

Well, thanks to Dish Network, there finally is. Say hello to the future of television: Sling TV. Sling TV is a very new service, just recently launching February 9th, 2015 across the United States, so I will give a quick background of what Sling TV actually is.

Could it be true?
Let's get something straight right now. Sling TV is not intended at its current structuring to fully replace your $100+ cable service that provides hundreds of channels, multiple DVRs in every room, etc. Its target audience are millennials and "cord-cutters" who either have never paid for cable TV or at one time did, but due to the rising popularity of Netflix & Hulu Plus decided to stop paying the high price to have 500 channels they never watch, yet still pay for. Being a millennial myself who has never paid for cable TV, Sling TV hits the sweet spot of what I look for in a TV experience.

Easy-to-use interface makes even Grandpa happy when watching March Madness
Here's how it works. For only $20/month (Yes, TWENTY DOLLARS A MONTH), you can get live TV from networks like ESPN, AMC, HGTV, TNT, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, Food Network, and several more! The biggest selling point for many is ESPN & TNT, as live sports tends to be the one thing that keeps many people from cutting the cord with their cable service. 

If their base $20/month package doesn't give you all you need, don't fret! Sling TV has added 5 additional packages, so for only $5/month extra per package, you could add "Sports Extra" package, which adds channels like ESPNU, SEC Network, and ESPNEWS. Other packages include "Kids Extra", "Hollywood Extra", "World News Extra", and "Lifestyle Extra", all of which provide additional channels for only $5/month per package. They have assured their customers that as their customer base grows over time & new deals with TV networks come into affect, additional channels and packages will be available at no additional charge.
It doesn't get much better than this.
Say goodbye to long-term contracts & waiting on installations
Here's where it gets crazy. Instead of enticing customers with promotions & temporary discounts, Sling TV provides a no-nonsense product that simply delivers live TV in the manner people want it. Due to this mission, Sling TV requires NO long-term contract. Just like popular streaming services like Netflix & Spotify, Sling TV is a month-by-month service that requires no installation, fees, nothing. Just pay $20/month for the base package and cancel anytime you wish online.

In case you were worried about not having a device that it would be supported on, rest assured knowing they have you covered. Realizing that most of the media consumption nowadays comes from smartphones, tablets, and streaming devices, Sling TV currently supports a wide range of devices, including Apple & Android smartphones & tablets, Amazon Fire TV & TV Stick, Roku, Xbox One, Mac OS X & Windows, with the Nexus Player, Apple TV, and PS4 coming soon! So no matter where you are, just install the Sling TV app to your device, sign in with your account, and BAM! you are watching live television starting at only $20/month. 

At this point, you can only use one device at a time per account and picture quality falls just behind what you would typically find through a normal cable box, but Sling TV hopes to resolve both of these issues later this year as they continue to grow. 

As a soon-to-be college graduate that will be deciding on how to get live television into my apartment after graduation, Sling TV provides exactly what I could want out of a TV service: attractive pricing, flexible channel upgrades, large device support, and convenient agreement terms. I'm hoping Sling TV's success causes other cable companies to offer similar services this year, which will in turn develop the competition that always makes products better for consumers. The future looks bright for television, so the next time you are looking for a TV service provider, definitely check out Sling TV.

MS Office Customizations

Posted Posted by Brennan Thomason in , , Comments 0 comments

Are you tired of always searching around the menu bars on Microsoft Office to find the command you need to use? There's so many icons and, let's face it, you probably only use two or three on each tab. Wouldn't it be handy to have all your commonly-used icons in one place? Well, it turns out that there's a way to do just that. Take a look at the two photos below and notice how the second is a bit different than your out-of-the-box MS Word toolbar.

Normal Toolbar:

Customized Toolbar:

If you notice on the "enhanced toolbar," you can have any of the normal toolbar options pinned to the top status bar (the Quick Access Toolbar) for quick and easy access! So here's how to customize your Quick Access Toolbar, then save your settings to access them anywhere you go!

When you open up MS Word, go to the top of the screen and click the little downward-pointing arrow in the Quick Access Toolbar to the right of the "Save," "Undo," and "Redo" buttons. It will pop up a dialog box like what's below:

Click on the "More Commands" button. This will pull up an interactive add/remove window for you to be able to customize and re-order the icons in the Quick Access Toolbar. To add a tool, simply select the tool from the list, then click the "Add >>" button to import it into the Quick Access Toolbar.

Notice that there is a drop-down menu for the commands under the "Choose commands from:" text on the left-hand column. It's generally set to "Popular Commands," which are the more commonly-used ones. There are several more commands besides just these, though, and by clicking the drop-down menu, you can access all the commands Word has built in. They are organized by the tab they are normally in on the regular toolbar, so just browse by "Home Tab," "Insert Tab," "References Tab," etc.

Once you've added an icon to the toolbar, you can click and drag each one to re-order it. Or, if you've decided you don't want a certain tool after all, just click the "<< Remove" button to put the tool back away.

Once you've figured out your desired custom Quick Access Toolbar configuration, simply press "OK" and the new icons will appear, ready for use!

If you're like me, you use a lot of different computers around campus. Unfortunately, these customizations don't travel with you around campus like your m-drive does. But, since the m-drive is there, we can make use of it! If you noticed, there's a button at the bottom of the "More Commands" customization box where you add and remove icons from your quick access toolbar. It's the little "Import/Export" button, which allows you to save and re-load these commands on another PC. By clicking that button and selecting "Export all Customizations," you can save the customization file to your m-drive (or a flash drive, if you prefer that). Once it's been exported, when you log into another computer, you can just re-import them!

So here's the import process: just click the "More Commands" button again, then the "Import/Export" button, then select "Import Customizations File". From there, locate the file on your m-drive (or flash drive, or wherever you saved it) and click the "Open" button to import your settings.

Upon opening the file, Word will ask you if you're sure you want to replace all customizations for the Quick Access Toolbar with the one you selected to import. The message will look like what's in the photo below.

Just click "Yes" and then click "OK" on the "More Commands" window to close out of it. What you're left with is a nice, personally customized Quick Access Toolbar!

And that's all there is to it! If you noticed in my exported settings folder, I have settings exports for Excel and PowerPoint as well. It turns out that you can follow the exact same steps in any MS Office program to customize the Quick Access Toolbar for that program as well! Happy customizing!

[One more quick note: if you dislike using your mouse to do things and instead prefer keyboard shortcuts, as I often find handy, simply press the "Alt" key and then type in the number of the icon you want to use (see the photo below). All your Quick Access Toolbar icons will be accessible this way as well.]

App For Travellers

Posted Posted by Sam Tripp in Comments 0 comments

I don't know about you, but I really love travelling. I never did it much as a kid, as our family vacations usually amounted to visiting relatives in Arkansas. However, as soon as I got to college, I took as many opportunities as I could to see exciting places, both here in the US and the rest of the world. Does this sound familiar? If you are in the same situation I am, then something to consider bringing along with you on your next adventure is an app called Fog of World for iOS. When you first download this app, you can see the map of the world, but it is completely covered by fog. It works off the same mechanics that many games have called Fog of War. As you move throughout the map (in this case one of the entire world), the app updates and clears away the fog from the places you've been through while the GPS recorder is on. Over time you will be able to see where all you have been to in the world. Now this not only affects your long trips to exciting places, but also applies to areas in which you travel frequently. You will be able to see all the places in your hometown that you have never before visited that may just be one street over from the direction you normally travel. The app uses an achievement system so that as you uncover portions of the map, you are gaining levels and earning badges in accordance with your progress. As you are travelling around the world, Fog of World will update you on which countries you've been to while using that app, and how much of that country you have explored. You can also update it using existing GPS data by adding it through iTunes or DropBox so that you can use a dedicated device to show where all you've been, instead of using so much battery power. Though the app comes a little pricy at $4.99, it has a lot of capabilities and those who love to explore new places, such as me, will be able to get a lot of use out of it.  Find out more at their site.

“I’ll Have the Hash with a Dash of Salt”

Posted Posted by Alyssa Anderson in , , , Comments 0 comments

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past few years you've probably had to create a password at some point for a website.  What you may not have thought of, however, is how this password is stored on said website and how secure your profile actually is.  As you will soon learn, some sites store passwords differently than others.  This means that your password may be more safely stored on some sites than others.

If your password is stored in plain text, the strength of your password doesn't matter.  If the site’s security is compromised, your password would be accessible to anyone.

A more advanced way to store passwords on the web involves encryption.  According to LifeHacker, encryption uses a special key to turn your password into a random string of text.  In this case, a hacker would need the encryption key and your password in order to access your account.

Unfortunately the key is often stored on the same server as the passwords are, meaning that if a hacker gains access to one they’ll automatically have the other.  This makes this particular method still a poor choice where security is concerned.  Again, the strength of your password here makes little to no difference if the hacker has the encryption key.

The more secure method of password storing involves hashing.  Hashing also involves storing passwords as a random string of text.  However, in this method you can’t run the algorithm backwards to get the original password.  The problem with this method is that the hacker can still try a combination of passwords with hashes, something computers are very good at.  While a longer password means that even this method is still fairly vulnerable.

The fourth method are hashed passwords with a dash of salt.  We’re not talking about your average dinner table salt here either.  In this case salt means adding a random string of characters to the beginning or end of your password before hashing it.  This makes it very difficult for those salted hashes to be found in the tables hackers use to de-hash passwords.  In this case the strength of your password definitely matters.

While it may not always be possible to prevent hackers from breaking into a site, you can take certain measures into your own hands.  Some of these include choosing secure sites to begin with, using a strong password, changing your password after a breach, and using a different password for every site.

The Psychology of Mobile Gaming

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If you've ever played a game on your smart phone, you have undoubtedly been presented with this tempting scenario - wait two hours to keep playing, or spend some money to keep playing now? This common scenario is part of the free-to-play model, which popular games like Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Clans use to great success.

In theory, it is entirely possible to play free-to-play games without ever spending a penny. "They'll never get me!" some might say. And yet, many people find themselves caving in and spending more money than they would care to admit on these free games.

"Little girl, you can frolic in Lollipop Hills all you want! ...in just 3 minutes and 42 seconds.
Give me a Token, and you can go now!"

If this has ever happened to you, don't worry! The companies that develop these games pour a lot of time and energy into researching the psychology of getting people to fork over their money. Here is a simple list of some of the strategies that free-to-play games use to win over customers (and their wallets).

(This list is taken from this excellent article at the Huffington Post.)

Ego Depletion

The theory of Ego Depletion assumes that self-control, or will-power, is a resource which exists inside the mind. Since self-control is a resource, it can be drained... and eventually depleted. In games, this theory manifests itself with the ever-present option to purchase items. A player may not "give in" to buying anything at first, but as the game progresses, and the temptation to speed things up continually grows, players will eventually snap and make a purchase. Likewise, players feel less inclined to simply quit a game after investing so much time playing it, so the incentive to purchase items to keep playing grows over time.

Unfortunately, studies have shown that giving in to these ego-depleting scenarios makes a person more susceptible to giving in to other tempting scenarios - even if the situations are completely different! For instance, say you cave in and finally spend some money on a mobile game. Now, it will be that much harder to resist cheating on your exercise plan, and you may end up skipping a jogging session for the day. Whoops!


Reciprocity means that people are more likely to reciprocate kind behavior with kind actions. Basically, people will be nice to people who are nice to them, and probably not so nice to people who are mean to them.

From the very moment a player installs a free-to-play game, they feel that the company who made the game is being nice to them. "I get to play this fun game for free? Awesome!" It is therefore more likely that the player will feel inclined to make a purchase to help out the nice developer.

Intermediate Currency

Nearly all free-to-play games use a form of intermediate currency. A lot of games may even have two or more forms of intermediate currency! The idea is that companies want to hide how much money players are actually spending - this technique is typically referred to as Price Shrouding.

For instance, a common currency scheme may look something like this - players can earn Gold Coins, a common form of currency, and Diamonds, a more rare form of currency. At any time, players may exchange 50 Gold Coins for 1 Diamond, and players can purchase 500 Gold Coins for just one dollar. Sounds kind of familiar, right?

A classic example of intermediate currency.

Now, say you are playing this game, and you want to... level up a Castle, or something. It will take two hours for the Castle to finish construction. Two whole hours! However, you see a button that says "Finish construction now for 25 Diamonds." Looks pretty tempting, right? However, if you do the math, this costs $2.50!

If the game simply stated "Pay $2.50 to skip the two hour wait," most people would find it easier to measure how much money they were spending. Some would even resist! But, by implementing an intermediate currency, companies make it harder for players to realize how much transactions actually cost. Those who are unwilling to do the mental-math won't realize how much money they are really spending.

Illusory Discomfort

Illusory discomfort, or "fun pain," describes an uncomfortable situation in which a player is stuck. Going back to Candy Crush Saga, the illusory discomfort sets in when the player runs out of lives. The player really just wants to play the game, but they are stuck waiting for lives to regenerate. What to do!

For just $100, you'll never have to wait again!

In all illusory discomfort situations, players are given the option to buy their way out. Don't want to wait for extra lives? Just buy some! Don't want to wait for something to level up? Just pay a little to skip it! Nearly all purchases in free-to-play games are the result of players getting fed up with their illusory discomfort and paying to get back to the fun part of the games as quickly as possible.

To Pay or Not to Pay?

The free-to-play model is extremely successful, and is likely not going anywhere any time soon. However, now that you are aware of some of the techniques that mobile gaming companies use to pressure players into making purchases, it should be that much easier to stop and consider if making a purchase is really worth it.

In the end, the decision to pay or not is entirely up to you! Just make sure to pause and reflect on how much an in-game purchase actually costs, and whether or not it is worth it for you to pay that amount to skip a waiting period. Consider if you feel like the company that made the game you are playing has pure intentions, and is deserving of your financial support, or if you feel they are being deceitful and pressuring you into spending lots of money.

Cheers, and have fun!

The Procrastination Problem

Posted Posted by Jenna Hayes in Comments 0 comments

As evidenced by this tardy blog post, I, along with hundreds of other students, suffer from procrastination. The reasons are numerous and the results are tragic. There are just too many distractions and opportunities here on campus that keep us from getting our work done. The procrastination problem has affected us all in one way or another (I mean, no one is that perfect). We have all suffered through our fair share of all-nighters and frantic deadline completions simply because we could not get ourselves to complete these assignments in a timely manner. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this is always a bad thing. A little procrastination is, in fact, healthy. Sometimes some things are a little more important than writing a paper two days before its due or studying for a test sooner than the night before. But on the other hand, constantly putting off work can lead to some ongoing negative consequences. Check out these apps that claim to ease the temptations of chronic procrastination:

yelling mom
1. Yelling Mom

This app takes its name from the original procrastination killer, your mom. Turns out she's not just that nagging parent figure in your life. She was actually there to help you get your work done. This app does its best to replace the mom job while you're away from home by utilizing the "aggressive prodding" technique. When you schedule an assignment, Yelling Mom will alert you with a series of obnoxious alarms and whistles of your choice until you give in and get 'er done. Luckily for you, this app is a little easier to manage than an actual mother. You can postpone tasks or delete them altogether. Keep in mind, this app is only as strong as your own will.

finish app
2. Finish

Finish offers a little more strategy and organization to completing your tasks. Its sorts each task into categories based on the time length of due dates. Tasks will be sorted into short-term (0-2 days), mid-term (3-7 days), and long-term (8+ days) groups. Scientifically speaking, this approach has been proven to be an effective method for prioritizing and accomplishing more pressing tasks first. As time moves on, tasks will move through the different categories, so you'll know exactly what will be due and when. Similar to Yelling Mom, this app will continue to remind you of due dates until you're all but forced to complete the assignment.

3. Procraster

photo 2This one is a fav. Instead of using obnoxious noises and reminders, this app gives you rewards as you progress through assignments. Using incentives and encouragement, Procraster helps you tackle projects one task at a time. One of the biggest causes of procrastination is the feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. Procraster allows you to identify why you're getting stuck and then provides you with encouragement to keep you going. Once you identify the problem, Procraster will ask you to perform a single task and then it will give you reward options to choose from for when the task is complete. Some of these rewards include checking Facebook, having a cup of coffee, or taking a TV break. You can also personalize some rewards of your own. From there, Procraster will split the project up into 25 minute working sessions. It will also keep track of your progress so you can see how far you've come. Coolio!

Of course, these apps are not magical solutions to the wide-spread procrastination problem, but they might just help. Happy procrastinating!