Sync Notes

Sync Notes is a program/website that allows you to synchronize your notes between your computer, cell phone, PDA and their website and is a great way to have your notes with you at all times. (Like you’ll actually be studying them.) It’s free and easy to use, but unfortunately is only available for PC. There is a web version, Windows client and mobile client so you can control your notes from anywhere.

Digital TV

ScheduleFly – helpful?

A lot of college students work in the food industry I’ve just discovered a service called ScheduleFly that uses employee scheduling. It allows for the restaurant manager to do online scheduling so employees actually know what shifts they’re going to work in a decent amount of time. The manager posts employee schedules online and an email is sent letting you know when you work. Theoretically, this sounds like a good service.

An automated employee scheduling website that would make your life easier…unfortunately, I don’t know how well this would be implemented. Your restaurant would have to actually sign up for the service, which isn’t free. There is a 30 day free trial for restaurants, so you could try talking your manage into it. I like the idea, but unless it’s a widely-used service, it’s not a very helpful.

Grand Central

Grand Central Grand Central is a service now owned by Google that brings all of your phone numbers together. Basically, you get one phone number that rings all of your numbers and you can decide which phone you want to answer on. There’s settings to decide which call gets directed to which line so only your friends call your cell phone.

According to the website, Grand Central allows you to:

  • Check your messages by phone, email, or online
  • Keep all your messages online for eternity
  • Record and store your phone calls (just like voicemail)
  • Quickly (and secretly) block an annoying caller
  • Click-to-dial from your address book
  • Surprise your callers with a custom voicemail greeting
  • Forward, download, and add notes to your messages

It’s actually a very great service and I enjoy using it. I don’t have caller ID on my home phone because I’m cheap and never use it (cable is bundled and it’s actually cheaper to have a phone and not use it than to not have a phone…interesting) so when someone calls my home phone, I know it’s not someone I want to talk to since I don’t ever give out that number and I have my GC number set to ring my cell phone and my boyfriend’s phone.

Grand Central is in beta (and FREE) so it requires an invitation to sign up. You can either sign up for one here like I did, or get one from a user. If you’d like one from me, I have ten invites left so let me know.

Mint – Refreshing money management

Mint.com is a new online budgeting tool. You input your bank and credit card logins for their websites and it gathers the data and pulls all of your financial information together. It simplifies everything because it’s all in one place. You don’t have to login to six different websites to pull up your balances. They also have an alert system to notify you when your balances become low so you don’t overdraft.

I tried it out and was actually very impressed. If you’re not sure how to budget or don’t want to bother, Mint is a great way to keep track of your money. I personally found it a little too simple for me. I have an exact image of the way I want my budget to be and I’ve just had to keep using a spreadsheet do so.

I really like how it breaks down spending and shows trends. It doesn’t always recognize certain charges, but for the most part, it puts them in the right categories. It compares cash and debt, which is nice since apparently it thinks I have more cash than debt (it doesn’t know my poor “cash” is really all debt in student loans.) It does know, however, that my most frequent stop is at HEB (grocery store).

The feature that shows ways you can save money by switching accounts is nice, but doesn’t really apply to a college student with little credit. Mint thinks I could save $424 by switching checking accounts and credit cards, but what it doesn’t know is that I can’t just get another credit card because mine has too high of an interest rate.

Of course, there are some drawbacks to a website like this, the most important being that they have your bank information. As a paranoid person, I just don’t like giving other people my passwords to anything, much less my bank accounts. What with all the security leaks recently, I’m even more paranoid. It doesn’t take much to hack a website and steal all of this information. Other than that, sometimes it seems too simple for me. I have a pretty complicated plan for my budget and have yet to find a program that does what I want.

Pownce

Pownce I was given an invite to Pownce, a new social networking site partially developed by the creator of Digg, Kevin Rose. It’s a way to share notes and send files to friends. It has a nice interface on the website and even a desktop application. I just set up my profile today and it’s quite nice. The website is very user-friendly and very Web 2.0. I like the simplicity of the design and the features. Settings are easily customizable and everything looks great.

It’s easy to publish notes and send files, but it’s not entirely for me and I’ll tell you why. I’m not entirely sociable. I don’t have massive amounts of friends that I need to send things to. As of right now, I have one friend on Pownce (Geoff) and I added another designer. I plan on meeting more people and developing a network, but as for now, it’s not entirely important. I was very anxious to check out this website because I’m a big fan of [the concept of] Digg.

That said, thanks Kevin Rose, Leah Culver, Daniel Burka and Shawn Allen for creating this new social networking site. I’m sure many people, especially college students, will love it. I already do and it’s not entirely useful to me.

Thanks Geoff, owner of Gearfire, for the invite.

If anyone needs an invite, let me know. I have six left.

Pick a Prof

Right before registration, I was sent a letter about a website called Pick a Prof. For $10 a year or $5 for 4 months, it allows you to look at reviews other students have written about professors at your university. They offer additional services, which I haven’t seen in any other websites.

They have grade histories, a schedule planner, student reviews, and textbook pricing and exchange. The website does have a lot of information about the services they offer, but unfortunately, you can’t try anything out until you buy a subscription. It was very helpful when scheduling my classes because I wanted to make sure I could find time to work and study without being overloaded. I didn’t use the professor reviews this time because as freshmen, we were limited because of our first-year seminars and our advisers helped register us during orientation.

It also has a Facebook application that helps to find classes with your friends. The professor reviews are collected online, but also from end of semester evaluations. Grade histories are straight from university records, so they’re not biased in any way. I also love the schedule planner. Sometimes it’s hard to make sure you get the best times for classes and make sure you’re not going to mess yourself up. They’re planner gives you a view of what you can take when, how long it will last and make sure you have room for work, sports, etc.

Some universities even pay for you to use this service. My mom’s school, for example, lets you have free access to Pick a Prof if you can validate your school’s email.

Why Netflix will win the video war

I’ve been a loyal Netflix customer since April. When I turned eighteen and finally had some of my own money, I started my subscription. My parents used it before and I liked the idea of never having to go to a store to get movies they probably didn’t even have.

Currently, I’m on the 5-at-a-time plan, and when I time everything right, I end up with 10 movies in one week. That’s a great deal for about $32 a month after taxes. That comes out to about 80 cents per movie. Incredible.

And then I read about Netflix’s superior customer service over at Consumerist. Even more incredible. I haven’t had a reason to call, but if a problem ever arises, I won’t be dreading that talk with a CSR.

While Netflix keeps lowering their prices and Blockbuster raises theirs and takes away treats like in-store coupons, it’s pretty obvious who’s going to win this video war. And I think the biggest reason Netflix will take out movie-mogul Blockbuster is because they keep their customers happy. I mean, look at me, writing a great review of a company that takes my money when I’m a poor college student and only have so much money to throw around.

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