Friday, March 1, 2013

AASA utilizes alternative meeting location

Classroom reservation policies and students adjusting to the new semester has led to compromised meeting times for student organizations.

During the first two weeks, student organizations are not permitted to reserve any classrooms, aside from the rooms in the Oklahoma Memorial Student Union and the Jim Thorpe Multicultural Center, Breck Turkington, the director of enrollment services and academic records said.

The Classroom Management department leaves this block so that classes that need to accommodate students with disabilities, need more space or need specific equipment can easily change classrooms without worrying about an organization occupying the space, Turkington said.

“By the time we get all the [room] requests into queue and work everything, it might be the third week before it all gets finalized,” Turkington said. “Our real goal is to let [students] know in the second week so [they] can start to [plan] for the third week.”

Organizations such as the Asian American Student Association began reserving rooms in the fall for the Jim Thorpe Multicultural Center, a building which permits reservations within the first two weeks of the semester, to prevent meeting conflicts said Oliver Li, the AASA president and an economics and industrial engineering senior.

Despite their early planning, they ended up changing their first meeting from January 17 to January 24.

 “Since everyone was just coming back to school we decided to change it to [the 24],” Li said.

With about a hundred members to keep up with, Li said that they relayed the changed date through the group’s Facebook, twitter and email.

In addition, Li said they try to remind their busy members about meetings and events by creating a Facebook event page where they can join the group and actively receive updates about the event.

AASA will be hosting its first meeting on Thursday, January 24 at 6 p.m. in the Jim Thorpe Multicultural Center.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Future plans

From here on out, I will be posting the stories I write for my 2013 spring journalism class, Multimedia News Gathering, and hopefully some stories I write for the Sooner yearbook.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tapping into the app market

 William Everman, a local app developer, discusses the issues of outsourcing app development.
Like many products that require labor, app development can be cheaper in foreign countries.
VIDEO: Miranda Sanchez, Runs: 1:48

In the growing mobile app market, developers are challenged to either innovate and create apps, or recreate apps that imitate and improve on existing ideas. 

Developers’ creative options are increasing as innovative technology, such as Apple’s Retina display in its iPads, push along capabilities of handheld devices. ABI Research reported that after Apple released its new iPads, the average size of Apple and Android gaming apps increased by 42 percent. 

The average increase in size and detail of apps also raises the expectations of consumers. Failed expectations have led consumers like Benny Hsu, an ‘apptrepreneur’ or entrepreneur that specializes in apps, to create apps of their own.

“I don’t really try to come up with an app idea that's never been done before,” Hsu said. “I’m always trying to improve on apps where there’s already a market.” 

Hsu began development with a photo app called Photo 365, which has earned over him over $30,000.

“There was an app similar [to Photo 365] that I had been using for two or three months… but I felt like the app could be better,“ Hsu said. ”The design was basic, there weren’t too many features and it kind of looked boring. So then I thought I could improve upon this app and make it better.” 

Creating an app that is inspired by another is one thing, but some developers take imitation to an uncanny level. 

Developer Anton Sinelnikov published games such as Plants vs. Zombie, Angry Ninja Birds and Temple Jump that were clones of the popular games already produced with only a few subtle changes such as color distortion in maps or characters, Video Game Writers reported. 

Out of all Sinelnikov’s 63 imitation apps, his app Temple Jump harmed the reputation and profits of the original app, Temple Run, by confusing consumers as to which app was the original quality game, Video Game Writers reported. Temple Jump made it to the App Store’s top paid app charts before it was removed.

“You just have to be very careful,” William Everman, a LexisNexis employee and app developer who’s been following the story said. 

Everman’s ideas also come from apps that are already created, but instead of building upon them, he builds around them. 

“[I] browse the Google Play Store and see what they don’t have and what I could possibly make,” Everman said. 

Currently, Everman is working on a fitness tools app and a tracking app that sends screenshots between two phones every ten minutes. Once they are completed, Everman plans to add them to the ocean of apps that is the Google Play Store. 

Wired reported that Apple’s App Store has over 700,000 apps available for download with Android’s Google Play Store following with over 500,000 apps. 

The increasing number in choices only makes it more difficult for developers to get their products noticed, even if they are created based on an original concept.      

“There are traditional methods like Google Ad Words, LinkedIn, Facebook Twitter, those are all fabulous tools [to promote an app],” Jim Bratton, the executive director of the University of Oklahoma’s Office of Technology Development said. “[Address] the need you’re meeting or the game you are providing to the end user. You want to get it right the first time.” 

Bratton said the market is very accessible and there is plenty of room for growth, especially with the growing size of consumers in the app market. 

According to the Neilson 2012 social media report, there are over 100,000,000 app users, an 82 percent increase from 2011. 

“If people look at the numbers of iPhone users and iPad users are going every single year, and that just means more and more customers.” Hsu said. “It’s not too late to start developing.” 

Monday, December 10, 2012

iPads for education

In addition to their iPad, students received a case and two app download codes. PHOTO: Miranda Sanchez

More than 500 free iPad 4s were distributed to qualifying education majors as the first step in the college of education’s iPad initiative.

The initiative was created to prepare students for an interactive learning environment where teachers and students use technology like iPads, Theresa Cullen, an assistant professor in the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education who helped to create the initiative said.

“We heard there was an opportunity through some private funds that the students could get involved with having iPads and we just jumped at the chance,” Cullen said.

In Jan. at an Apple education event Philip Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple, said over 1.5 million iPads are in educational institutions. In addition, there are over 20,000 iPad apps available specifically to assist in learning and teaching.

Education seniors Rachel Renbarger [left]
and Allison DiDonato [right] set up their preferences
 on their iPad. PHOTO: Miranda Sanchez
With the plethora of software being developed for the iPads, Cullen said it is pivotal to start teaching students how to use the technology while they are still in school so the students will be one step ahead of other applicants.

iPad training for faculty began in Oct., but the instruction for the future teachers began with the first iPad distribution seminar on Dec. 4. Education professors and guest Apple representatives walked the students through setting up their new iPads and downloading basic educational apps such as Notability, a note taking app.  

Cullen said the iPads were immediately put to use. In Professor Beach’s class, students were assigned to take notes in Notability and as the class progressed, they ended up creating a children’s storybook using an app they found on the app store.

“These assignments weren’t planned,” Cullen said. “People were so excited to have [the iPads] that the professors just jumped at it and said ‘okay, lets find an app that can do that.’”

Within the first weeks of having the iPads, some students like elementary education sophomore Kaley Palmer already have an idea of how they would like to combine teaching with the new technology.

“I can use it as I am presenting my lesson, record myself and then post it to a class webpage so that my students and parents can access my lectures if they need it,” Palmer said.

In addition, Palmer is exploring apps that will help her teach literature and organize student grades and other information.

Through the course of the program, Teresa DeBacker, the associate dean of JRCoE, and Cullen plan on analyzing faculty behavior changes, comfort with technology and how the iPads are used in class, Cullen said.

At the beginning of the spring semester, students will answer a short survey and then take one again at the end of each semester until they graduate from the college, Cullen said.

“We’re really focusing on training,” Cullen said. “We’ll be having workshops for our faculty and students through the spring on how to use the iPad, how they can use [the iPads] better… and how they can be used for education.”  

Saturday, December 8, 2012

UPB contest unites student organizations

Junior Melanie Duran places pictures of HASA members on their tree as the finishing touch.

The Festival of the Trees competition gave student organizations an opportunity to mingle with other groups while participating in the festivities.

Aside from the chance encounters during meetings and large multicultural events like the Eve of Nations, student organizations don’t have many opportunities to meet.

According to the University of Oklahoma’s Student Life page, there are over 400 active student organizations.

Although not all organizations were able to participate in the Friday, Nov. 30 tree decorating competition, 17 organizations such as the Hispanic American Student Association and the International Advisory Committee were present.
The International Advisory Committee decorated
 their tree with hand-painted ornaments. 

“The main thing that [the Union Programming Board] is trying to do is bring in other organizations that we can help out maybe in the future,” Ryan Moore, a marketing sophomore and UPB member in charge of the Festival of Trees said. “Also, that [organizations] can get to know each other a little bit more.”

Since this is an annual event, many organizations that participate return year after year.  The decorations vary from store bought to handmade, but the true difference is the themes of each tree.

“It’s hard because a lot of organizations just do traditional decorating, and then others do really cultural stuff,” Melanie Duran, a film and media studies junior and member of HASA said. “Since we are the Hispanic American Student Association, we can’t be specific towards a country.”

After participating for years, Duran said competitive relationships build among the organizations.

Last year, HASA’s tree won most unique and proudly hung their award in the office that they share with the Asian American Student Association. Duran said it’s become a small rivalry to see which organization can win UPB’s award.

This year, the American Indian Student Association took home the award for best tree. Along with their certificate, they were awarded Union credit towards catering or reserving a room courtesy of UPB, Moore said.

Duran said winning would have been an added bonus, but wasn’t the most important thing of the competition.

“Usually [organizations] keep to themselves at specific events and I feel like when we do stuff like this, I get to see presidents and members of other organizations,” Duran said. “It’s always nice to see everyone here.”

 The final UPB events for the semester will be scattered throughout dead week and finals week, which includes handing out free Scantrons, hot cocoa and other small events.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Fiesta Ball becomes opportunity for practice

Two salsa teams took the dance floor at the Latin Dance Club’s Fiesta Ball last Friday to demonstrate a portion of their performances for upcoming professional workshops.

Explosión Salsera, OU’s professional team, and Chispa Salsera, OU’s amateur team, have each been preparing dances with multiple parts for an upcoming salsa congress.

Salsa congresses are workshops that specialize in Latin dancing, music and include performances by various student teams and professional dancers, Maritza Rodriguez, the co-founder and member of both salsa teams and a bioengineering graduate student said.

 The performances each team is working on will be observed by salsa dancers from around the world. 

According to the Houston Salsa Congress – the perspective congress OU’s teams will be attending – it is one of the largest salsa events in the Southwest and has professional performers coming from places such as Mexico and Canada.

At the Fiesta Ball, both teams were only able to perform a portion of their shows because they are still in the process of learning their routine. Regardless, their performances were a highlight for the ball due to the status of the teams.  

“Trying out for [the teams] is like trying out for a sports team,” Juan Carlos Silva, the public relations chair for Latin Dance Club and economics senior said. “Because I’m in charge of publicity [for LDC], I’m not on one, but I wish I was.”

The next event for Explosión Salsera and Chispa Salsera is the Houston Salsa Congress on January 17 through the 20 in Houston, TX. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Asian food fair receives high attendance

Genghis Grill's display is the first stop on the food table. PHOTO: Miranda Sanchez  

Over 400 people attended the annual Asian food fair last Thursday that featured food from a variety sponsors and raised money for charity.

The Asian American Student Association, Oklahoma Undergraduate Indian Society and the Vietnamese Student Association, which are all a part of Asian American Student Life, put on the event with the help of several sponsors who provided the food.

“This has been one of the better turnouts so far out of the ones we’ve booked in the last two or three months,” David Haddaway, Genghis Grill’s marketing and catering director for the Oklahoma area said.

In addition to Genghis grill, Panda Express, Wong Key, Lee’s Sandwiches, Taste of India and several other restaurants contributed food.

Carlos Lopez, an accounting sophomore, chooses to
sample a variety of the food that was offered.
PHOTO: Miranda Sanchez
The food was free for everyone who attended, but the three organizations running the event encouraged donations from attendees.

All donations were collected and saved for AASL’s philanthropy, Christmas Headstart. At the end of November, AASL hosts a carnival for children of the Norman community, Oliver Li, the AASA president said.

“We’ll have Mr. Clause and Mrs. Clause – those are Mr. and Miss Asian OU – and then we’ll have gifts ready for them,” Li said.

Each of the three groups from AASL began recruiting sponsors for the food fair a month and a half prior to the event, Li said. Every year, he says they expect a large turnout and try to get good food.

“I heard there was free food and it was for a good cause,” Carlos Lopez, an accounting sophomore who attended and donated said. “I didn’t expect this many people, it’s pretty crazy.”

The next fundraising event is a date auction party on November 9 in the Red Room in the Oklahoma Memorial Union.