Take control of your online identity

The internet, which used to bring a sense of anonymity, is now the easiest way to find everything about you. Between Facebook and Myspace anyone can pull up all kinds of information about you, including photos, personality traits, contact information. Besides guarding your privacy, you can take other steps to ensure you have a safe online identity.

1. Use ClaimID. This is a website that pairs with OpenID to have one login for multiple websites. This way, you can make sure your information is tied to one username. So when your potential employer googles your name, you can make sure he only sees what you want him to see and not what some crazy man with your name posted on Myspace.

2. Run your email through IdentiFight. This service will find website accounts that are tied to your email. It will pull up your flickr, myspace, magnolia, etc. So be careful NOT to give your mom the same email you post pictures of you drinking beer on myspace.

3. Search different combinations of your name on google. See what comes up.

Don’t forget to evaluate your professor

Since semesters are over one last thing you can do is rate your professors. To help out other students who are going to take your class, let them know about the instructor. (This is also helpful if you still haven’t registered for the spring.)

RateMyProfessors.com and PickAProf.com are two websites that have a huge amount of reviews. While PickAProf isn’t free, it’s much easier to navigate and is only $5. It also has much better features, like grade histories. I’ve left reviews of each of my professors at both websites, with details of their grading/test policies and anything else a future student would like to know in advance.

Evaluations are usually done the last class day before the final and they’re a great way to get the teacher to hear your thoughts about the class. I enjoyed filling out professor evaluations because they actually read them and take most seriously. My mom teaches at a large university in Texas and she gave me some advice to make sure the prof takes me seriously:

  1. Explain yourself. Don’t be vague and just say “You suck!”
  2. If things need to be improved, list them and be specific. This is your chance to let them know that the absence policy is too strict.
  3. They will listen to criticism, if it makes sense and seems appropriate. They’re not going to change a policy without a good reason (having no tests, for example).
  4. If you aren’t going to say anything constructive or helpful, just don’t fill out the eval. They’d rather get no feedback than someone who isn’t taking it seriously. By being silly, you take away from the weight of student opinions.
  5. Try to have decent handwriting so they can actually read what you write.

Guard your privacy

Myspace and Facebook both have settings to help guard your privacy. For myspace, you can and should set your profile to private, especially if you post any personal information, like your full name, address and phone number. Employers and schools can and do monitor what students post on social networks. Most of this seems like common sense to me, but apparently, it doesn’t to most college students. Guard your privacy. You’ll be surprised to find out what information is out there about you. Keep these basic tips in mind on all social networks, not just Myspace and Facebook.

General tips

  • Don’t post personal information (phone number, address, school, job, etc.) on anything public
  • Don’t post pictures, bulletins, notes, etc. that show you doing something that is illegal or would otherwise get you kicked out of school/fraternity/clubs
  • Don’t become “friends” with someone you don’t know
  • Don’t post bulletins threatening someone – police are able to monitor these

Facebook has the ability to set a limited profile. Under privacy settings, you can set what your limited profile shows, and you have control over everything from your photos to your friends. Set up a limited profile and add all the people you barely know or only know online to this list. That way they will still be your friend, but don’t have access to very important information about you.

Block the Facebook beacon – Facebook’s new advertising program follows you around the web and makes note of your purchases. You can turn off the mini feed notifications under privacy settings, but the beacon still collects info about your online activity. Learn how to turn this off (Firefox required).

The best way to protect privacy with Myspace is to not post personal information and set your profile to private. Don’t add random people as friends. The privacy of Myspace isn’t as flexible as Facebook, but not as many college students use this service as much anymore.

College Alumni Forums

Websites like Facebook and Myspace allow people to connect with their friends and stay current on old ones, especially high school and college friends when you’ve already moved on. Unfortunately, Myspace and now Facebook are teeming with members that are inappropriate for professional people trying to keep up with college alumni.

Websites like Classmates.com and Only Alumni are ways to find friends, but not have to interact with thirteen year-olds and creepy old men. Only Alumni has a college alumni forum, which makes it easy to meet new friends and talk freely. It’s as simple as registering on any forum to be an active user. Not all universities have an active community, but some do, like Union College Schenectady Alumni, but that’s the same as everywhere else.

When you’ve got a well-known social network, it increases the chances of finding classmates, but unfortunately, it also attracts idiots. Since the internet is increasing in popularity with just about everyone and their mother becoming active, it gets harder to keep your online and offline lives separate, which is why I prefer smaller communities like Only Alumni. Even Classmates.com, which is a much older community, has immature people that have forgotten they’ve graduated high school ages ago.

Getting nostalgic with a Nintendo 64

Nintendo 64 While I was going through Typo Trawler a few weeks ago, I found a Nintendo 64 for auction on Ebay for $10. It was in perfect working condition, well, as perfect as those consoles could be, so I bought it. I also bought two games, Super Mario and Mortal Kombat for $3 each. With shipping, I got the console and two games for $25.

I know that Nintendo 64 is actually a crappy system. If you’re lucky enough to find a console that does work, half the time the games won’t play. I also had to clean mine really well before it finally played either games. But that’s not the only reason I decided to get one. This along with the Dreamcast was the only video game system I’m familiar with. I remember when I was eight and playing Super Mario with my friends.

Regular Nintendos and Super Nintendos are a lot more expensive. Original Playstations are cheap, but I’m not familiar with any of the games. I’m still not very good with video games, but I’m working on it. While my boyfriend is at work today, I’m practicing my moves so I can finally beat him in Mortal Kombat. He found me the codes to do moves with my favorite characters (the two Asian ladies and the one with the silver hair) and I practice while he’s gone.

Featured Contests

One of the bigger trends that’s coming out is contests and I must say, I’m a fan. When That College Kid gets bigger, I’m planning on holding a few of my own. They’re a great way to win cool prizes by doing something easy (usually writing a blog post) and get some traffic.

Contest Blogger is exactly what it sounds like. He blogs about contests. Great resource and the author has a fun sense of humor.

The Prize Blog is the top two contest blog as far as ranking goes. The Prize Blog is currently holding a contest to win a custom logo from the SOS Factory.

Macs Money Blog is holding a contest to win a $50 Amazon gift certificate for simply posting about the contest. Another way to enter is to submit articles to FinanceFavorites.com

Reader contests and why I love them

This post is a little off the topic of college, but since most of our readers are bloggers as well, this is still helpful. The biggest trend of Web 2.0 is the whole SEO thing. Optimizing your website for search engines and getting enough clout to have daily visitors that aren’t your best friends is tough.

One trend that I’m seeing is contests, and that is a trend that readers love. It’s great to get paid back for being a visitor and making the blogger money. It’s a reminder that bloggers aren’t just doing it for the money.

While reading through my long list of blogs, I came across a new one, Average Joe Blogger. He’s on a quest to become a problogger (who isn’t?) and is offering a sponsorship giveaway. There are different ways of entering, such as posting a summary of the sponsorship and linking back to it or posting a review of the website.

Amy of The Blog World is also thinking of creating a contest and is currently looking for ideas of what to give away. (I suggest advertising space myself.) I’m sure in the future, I’ll have a contest for readers, but until I actually have something to offer, I’m going to hold off.

Contests can also be a great way to get new visitors. If you have people link to your site to get an entry, you’ll have many new visitors and some (or most) of them will become regular readers. They also make me like the blogger so much more because they haven’t forgotten about their readers who make them all their money.

Del.icio.us trick for frequent over stumblers

I am a big user of Del.icio.us and I’m sure many of you are as well. Since I’m also a big Stumbler and Digg reader, I go through many new websites a day. Sometimes I like a site, browse it a bit and then want to move on. So instead of properly bookmarking it since I know I’ll want to find it later, but won’t remember where to look, I created a special category called “lookattheselater.” My personal favorite tag because that way I know I haven’t completely finished browsing those sites and they need further inspection.

When I’ve already read all the articles on Digg or Consumerist, have checked my message boards and blogs and I’m out of things to read, sometimes I go back through those websites. Here’s ten of those websites:

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