Technology top tips for students

Technology top tips for students

Summary: Jump straight into the deep-end with some money recovering and time saving tips to ensure you get what you need as efficiently as possible.1.


Jump straight into the deep-end with some money recovering and time saving tips to ensure you get what you need as efficiently as possible.

1. Use your university network to download on-demand television top10-iplayer.pngMany universities have very high-end network bandwidth running into the campus. We're lucky as we have a 1GB line into ours, and it's bloody fast. In many cases, you can almost guarantee that your campus network speeds are a lot faster than your home broadband, so you may as well use it to your advantage.

For where you can get on-demand television, take a laptop up to a public PC area in your university and start downloading. For those in the UK, you need a television licence only to watch live broadcasts; provided there is at least a 15 minute delay between something being broadcast on television and you watching it, you're safe. In the case of BBC iPlayer and 4oD, downloading and watching previously broadcast material is perfectly legal.

When possible, use Ethernet instead of wireless as most university wireless networks use WPA-TKIP for enterprise networks, meaning you have to login with your university account before access is granted. High peaks of bandwidth use can be traced to your account, whereas Ethernet shouldn't identify you too easily, especially in public PC access rooms.

2. Invest in a Rapidshare account So many wonderful things out there are hosted on Rapidshare, a data farm full of storage and wilful people uploading their files, wares, films and media and other fantastic things. For around £5 ($10) a month, you can upload and download as much stuff as you want, provided you can find the links for them.

Most links are for TV websites which allow you to download television, films and things like that. However, many programs and developers upload to Rapidshare as a simple, stable form of online storage. I've downloaded over 26GB in two weeks, but then again, I have been without the Internet at home.

3. Consider alternative printing If it costs to print on campus, consider buying a printer. If you can be arsed to work out the printing costs, you may find it's cheaper overall. Consider it more of an investment, and even though you'll have to keep buying cartridges and toner, you can still nick huge wads of paper from the back of printers on campus.

You can see my printing usage over the last year of being at university, and it's not that great - even though I've spent over £20 ($41) in printing costs. Having said that, when I got my printer through (free with extra cartridges), it would have saved me over £300 ($605) altogether.

4. Dodge the mobile phone, wherever possible top10-phonedunk.pngThe mobile phone is a wonderful invention, spearheaded by battlefield commanders in the trenches of some ghastly war of some description. You can tell I haven't researched this one; it's 25°C on the south-east coast of England, and sure, you may think that's nothing compared to Texas this time of year - but we're not used to it. It's hot, I'm tired, and can't think straight.

Mobile/cell phones cost money, especially the "money saving pay-as-you-go" tariffs. Considering most university campuses have a wifi-cloud all over them, use the free wireless vibes around you to your advantage. Use your webcam to communicate, Facebook messages or wall posts, instant messenger, these sorts of things. Most students are closer to their laptops than their cell phones nowadays; use what's available first before spending money calling someone.

5. Wifi-cell phone Again with the wifi-cloud, using the technology which is readily available, buy a phone which has wireless capabilities, beyond those of the ordinary cell network. With added technologies included like VoIP, Internet telephony, SIP etc., this allows you to keep in touch for free by setting up accounts with SIP and mobile VoIP services.

Think about it, where are you going to be? On campus, in your house (which will most likely have wireless broadband), or a pub/club or somewhere with other people. The chances of these not having wireless broadband is slim to none. Use what's already around you to your advantage.

6. Add your network share to the cloud top10-cloud.pngSome establishments are kind enough to offer your network shared files anywhere; you may be able to view them on a read-only web server format, or you may even have VPN access. Sometimes this is "too much of a security risk" and can't be done. Why not share your files with yourself, and yourself only then?

By setting up your network share to the cloud, you can access it anywhere, when VPN isn't possible. Whether you use Live Mesh, Foldershare or another program/service; if you have the permissions to perform it, it's a great time saver for the future.

7. Record your lectures, screencast your class sessions top10-screencast.pngAgain, not every university records lectures for their students, thankfully many do though. By recording your lectures with a dictaphone, or using low-tech - your cell phone "voice recorder" function, you'll be able to listen back to them at a later date.

When you're in the classroom working hands-on with a technology or product, as part of your ordinary lecture schedules, you can have the same principle by recording what you're doing on screen. By screencasting what you're working on, if you're developing and learning a programming language as you go, you can see at a later stage how you've done something.

Not only that, it's a better way of revising when you get down to your exams.

8. Run an enterprise from your network share Most university networks have FTP/HTTP servers set up for multimedia students, linked in closely with a specific folder on their network share. Most likely, they're actually available for everyone, you just need to find the information to get it set up for you, presumably not a multimedia student.

This isn't guaranteed as every university network is different and some support certain things whereas others don't. However, if you can get your own web server set up from a folder on your network share to hold your web page files, you could start your own enterprise with next to nothing start-up costs.

9. Keep your music library online; listen anywhere top10-filestube.pngInstead of lugging around your music everywhere on a flash drive (I made it sound like such a chore, haha!) or wasting your limited quota space on your network share, search and store your music online.

Here's what I did. I created an account on FilesTube, which searches ordinary websites for media. I searched for all the music that I've got in my ordinary playlist; The Smiths - Panic, Paul McCartney - Band On The Run, a bit of Fleetwood Mac of course, and added them to an MP3 list.

Your music is stored online on many different web servers, belonging to many different people, and it's pulled together in one place so you can listen online without going over any quota space. Cool really.

10. Take what's rightfully yours, but don't push it Be very careful with this one. You pay between $6k-$40k (£3k-£20k) a year to be at university, depending on whether the Government steps in to help you out. For that, you don't just get an education, you get network access, resources, connections, social friendships and relationships - the list goes on. However, if you can pinch a university-branded flash drive here, a spare semi-broken router left behind a cupboard there, the occasional mouse-mat to boost your self esteem after your partner runs off with the course convenor (it's happened), then you should.

Don't get caught, don't do anything illegal, and for Christ's sakes, don't tell them that I said to do it; I'll deny all knowledge. It's the same principle as raiding the office stationary cupboard, but remember that kleptomania isn't the most attractive quality people look for, and it could be a one-way ticket to being marched off of campus for good.

Topics: Banking, Data Management, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Mobility, Networking, Software, Wi-Fi

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  • 11. Buy a Mac and not a Windows PC

    The Mac will give you the flexibility to run either Mac OS X (and excellent version of UNIX with a great GUI) and/or Windows XP or Vista from the same machine. With an inexpensive add-on, it can also double as your television, good idea for those small dorm rooms. Apple laptops and iMac's have built in video so you can teleconference with family and friends. The list goes on why a Mac would be the ideal choice for school. Check out the great price break you can get with a refurbished Mac:
    • Wow...just on a MAC, eh?

      All OS war issues aside, my daughter's DELL can do all that, too. And, brand new, I'm thinking that it probably cost around as much as your refurbished MAC.

      Plus, she can call me at home so I can help her troubleshoot anything that might go wrong with it. Unless, of course, nothing ever goes wrong with MACs (in which case you win [bows down])
      • you called it

        PCs can do all that, and in most benchmarks they are faster at video tasks, etc.

        And OMG troubleshooting a Mac over the phone is brutal. If your daughter has trouble with Windows sometimes, it'd be a matter of weeks before she stopped using a Mac.
        • I disagree...

          I have found supporting a Mac over the phone very easy. Nothing comes close in ease and functionality supporting Mac's on a business network as Apple Remote Desktop. Like SMS on Windows, I can push out software and updates. I can manage remote Mac's with multiple monitors, which is common in creative environment. Like Ghost, I can image multiple machines, and a lot more. Similar tools in Windows take a pretty high degree of studying to master, and isn't no where near as elegantly done as the Apple tools.

          Tell me, how well do you really know Mac. From your statement, I'd guess very little, because your way off base in your statement.
          • You really think he's remotely imaging his daughter's computer?

    • buying a mac for school is the stupidest move a college bound person can do

      Between helping at IT, friends, relatives, and the schools I've attended, I've calculated 8 out of 10 schools use network protocols or security methods that Macs don't support.

      About half of those schools there's some work around. At my university, for example, Mac students could use the wired connections outside of the class rooms.

      The other half, there is none. I know three people that have had to go out and buy Windows PCs and another who got by using XP w/Bootcamp, because [b]schools don't have any good reason to support macs[/b].

      At my current graduate schools, Macs were (rightfully) deemed a security risk, and are not allowed on the network at all.

      Maybe you should do some research into schools, not just macs.
      • How many schools are in your sample?

        The fact remains that an Intel Mac provides the most options for you in terms of compatibility to network protocols and programming languages. You can run Windows natively with Bootcamp, of course OSX, and then Linux (your choice of distros) in a virtual environment.
        One of the biggest reasons that I bought a MacBook was for the power cord design. I recently had my HP notebook repaired because the power jack had come unsoldered from the motherboard and couldn't charge up the battery, let alone power the computer while being plugged in. That little problem set me back $150 (they basically have to take the entire laptop apart to fix it) and I was without my laptop for a whole week. I don't know why HP, Dell, Gateway, Sony - just about all major notebook manufacturers - don't address the problem of a chronically bad design flaw with their power jacks! Anyway, take a look at the whole picture and decide what will work best. Network protocol incompatibility isn't as big a deal as some people think.
        • hahaha

          I stopped reading after "boot camp natively"
          Go look into bootcamp.
    • I thought the article was about...

      ...saving money? Considering there's not a computer under $1000 on that page you listed...
      • See if your school has deals

        Waaaayyy back when I went to school, the school had discounts on Apple computers -- so many students actually had them -- the price points were about equal.

        It wouldn't be so surprising to find a particular school is offering relatively cheap Macs or has a price break. If you want one, it'd be worth looking into. The "school deals" are well worth it, Windows or Mac (or Linux!) as often they do the heavy lifting for you. [Meaning making sure you get your cheaper Student license of __whatever OS__ and so on)].
      • WRONG!!!

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    • What an asinine what you need or want

      be it Linux, Windows or a OSn machine. Buying solely a Mac will not make you any more or less productive. Linux and Windows machines all have the same things - probably new and probably with a warranty and probably cheaper. Students need that last one especially.
  • Huh - "don???t do anything illegal" ???

    You say "don???t do anything illegal" but people are in legal trouble for exercising their fair-use rights. How could you know what you did was "legal" or not until after you did it? People are getting in trouble for not doing anything (making available), fair use (babies dancing to music even more lame than Paul MacCartney), etc.
    • Do not do anything illegal...

      Steal what you can (paper, flash drives, etc.), but don't do anything illegal.

      I guess you didn't take any courses in ethics or logic, eh?

      Too bad I skipped that section before I sent a link to my college-bound daughter.
      • too bad what?

        Read slower or something, your comprehension must be down. He's saying those things happen, but you don't need to do it.

        And apaprently you didn't take any classes in "logic" either since such a course would give no guidance on a point like that.
        • Reading Comprehension

          [i]However, if you can pinch a university-branded flash drive here, a spare semi-broken router left behind a cupboard there, the occasional mouse-mat to boost your self esteem after your partner runs off with the course convenor (it?s happened), then you should.[/i]

          Will boil it down: "You should steal".
          This turned me off too, but eh, I realize stealing is all en vogue now, so I wasn't going to comment on it. It's a fight I don't care to pick; and besides, he's young.
  • lame ... don - a-hat, euro, tm - t

    Your comment system needs to handle don't better in the title :)
  • RE: Technology top tips for students

    This article is total BS!! I work at the IT department at my college. My college, as well as many others throttle and prioritize bandwidth. Downloading a pdf might get amazing speeds but watching a youtube video is painfully slow! Some colleges actually put a limit on how much you can download a month and then shut you off once you hit the limit.

    About not be able to be traced through using Ethernet this is totally false. Most college networks require you to register for access. Everything you do can be traced.

    Once final note- If caught doing most of what this article suggests you could find yourself w/o internet access. I have seen many many ppl shutoff from my college's network for stupid stuff like this!
  • RE: Technology top tips for students

    Well that is funny since I have yet to come across an
    establishment that doesn't support Macs, and also that Macs
    have almost a 50% market share among university students.
    This is probably equal to that of Windoze when you take into
    account Linux computers having a small percentage.