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College Freshman Survival Guide (Part 4- Dealing With Being Homesick) – I miss my mommy, daddy, puppy AND my own bed

5 Oct

Sorry for the hiatus (again), final semester of classes is insane, so is trying to find a job. Ahhhh! Hope you all have been surviving the semester and enjoying the last few days of relatively nice weather. However, if you are counting down the days till Thanksgiving Break (48 days in case you weren’t) and feeling a little homesick, still. I am here to help; it’s Super Sam!  Just kidding, but really, I am pretty awesome. Some people could not wait to get out of their hometown and away from their PIA (see first definition) parents; some actually still meant it after being away for a month or so. I could not wait to go to college, I started classes 10 days after I graduated high school in a summer program. Then about three weeks in, it hit me, and I was ridiculously homesick and bawling. I am not embarrassed to admit it. Granted, I had some major drama go down while I was gone that summer, but still, even by October I was still homesick after going home between summer and fall semesters and twice during the semester. If you are still reading this and still saying “I am not home sick, I am going home the least amount possible.” Then you can stop reading and miss out on my awesome tips, your choice. Most of you are nodding your heads; some of you don’t want to admit it, but you are still reading because you know it’s true.

It’s very common to become homesick. Especially if you’re within driving distance of home, you may be tempted to go back within your first few weeks and I hope you fought that feeling. If you did go home, I hope you are feeling better now. But try to avoid going home often and give yourself time to experience your new college life. I rode a bus home for 4 hours almost every other weekend to go home because I was so homesick freshman year. I missed out on so many events where I could have made friends and gotten my mind off missing home. I regret that often when my friends reminisce on their weekend adventures freshman year and I think back to my tear filled bus rides back and forth. It was rough, but I survived and you will too, because you have me!

Believe it or not, you parents miss you just as much if not more, so putting on a front for them is not the best for either of you. Here are the top ways to combat homesickness (and even some mild depression, though I am not really authorized to talk on the topic).

Call, e-mail or video chat your family and even friends. You may find your friends are having the same issues you are. I use Skype since I do not have a Mac for iChat, I am just not cool enough. There are other services as well such as Oovoo and Google chat.  These are the best ways to ‘be with someone’ even if you are many miles apart when you feel home sick. These types of services are awesome, your parents miss you and you miss them, don’t deny it, call them.

Did I mention I am also a bit of a hippie…

As I have mentioned before, music is my lifeline. Not only does it help me crack down and my work done, it also puts me in a better mood when I am stressing or a bit depressed. I usually listen to my “John MayerPandora station which of course has John Mayer, but it also has some Jason Mraz, Dave Matthews Band, Jack Johnson, The Script; with some Killers, Coldplay, Bob Marley and Sublime sprinkled with some oldies, such as The Eagles, Don Mclean, Credence Clearwater Revival, AC/DC, Steppenwolf, The Beatles, Guns and Roses, John Mellencamp, Jim Croce, and Queen: just to name

Man and his guitar…

a few. Basically give me some good quality oldies or a man and his guitar and I will instantly be in a better mood. Find your “happy music” and just let it play while you do work or steal a moment to actually relax for a bit. Music has amazing powers. According to PsyBlog, music can give us solace and diversion, as well as entertainment. The only negative, is that if you listen to sad music you will become more sad, so try not to do that. Lifehacker has some tips about music and its effect on mood as well. Music can actually boost our immune systems through decreasing stress and increasing levels of antibodies. Awesome! Music can even help you when exercising, which is also a great way to relieve stress, by distracting your attention (ouch my body hurts) and makes your heart rate increase.

Unless you go to school in the mountains, then you may have already missed out…

It is not too late to join clubs and groups, sure you may have missed out on some activities in the beginning, but most will accept new members all semester long. These groups are great ways to meet people outside you dorm and classes.  They often have events and socials you can go to to mingle with people or just have a weekend day/night to get away from the stresses of campus life and have some fun. As I had mentioned in an earlier post about making friends with your roommates and floormates. Bring them to these group meetings if you are wary of going alone. Maybe you both will have a new group of friends. Now is also a great time to go on a pumpkin picking adventure, visit a haunted house or  just wander outside, soaking in the last bit of nice weather for a long time.

Now if you really feel like you have to go home and see you puppy, I mean parents, there are many options to get you home if you are car-less (I was for the first three years, I know how it feels) Buses, trains, even planes can be available near your campus depending on where you are located. In terms of busses, I have rode Greyhound, Fullington Trailways and Megabus. Greyhound is the ‘good ol standby’, it is moderately priced, has a fair amount of hubs, and is on time within 15 minutes. Out of 6 trips, I only had one bad experience, and it was not really their fault. I took a Thursday morning bus, I had no class Fridays and my Thursday class ended up being cancelled, so I took the opportunity to get an earlier start. I handed the driver my ticket and climbed up the steps looking for a 2 seater I could take and hog it so I could sleep, college students are always tired. The first thing I realized was that everyone looked the same, they all had light blue, jean-like jackets on, the same type of pants and white t shirts. (Anyone figure it out yet?) The bus was packed already, it was a Thursday morning, what was the deal? I asked the first guy who looked nice if I could sit down, he said, “Sure hun, take a seat.” I sat down and listened to the conversations around me: “Hey you know what happened with John? Haven’t seen him in awhile.” “Oh, he will be in there another 3 months, he broke probation.” “You hear about Bob? He shanked a guard and is gonna be in there for a long time”. I wish I was joking about the story, I really do, but I was sitting on a bus surrounded by newly released inmates. I texted my dad what was going on and I hugged my backpack the whole trip and put my headphones in and hood up to try and pretend I was not there. Needless to say, that was my last time on a Greyhound bus.  Fullington Trailways was my next to try out, they were a bit more expensive ($5 or so dollars), but the busses were nicer and they had TVs with movies playing. They also had an “express service” from school to King of Prussia or Philadelphia, which shaved about an hour of the trip. I took Megabus once, everyone raved about how cheap it was. It was in a Walmart parking lot instead of the bus station, so it took some extra effort to get there, but for $5 it was no big deal. I was meeting a friend in Philadelphia who was going to bring me home since my parents were flying from Florida and could not pick me up. The bus ride started off on time, but we took a turn to go west on the turnpike, and drove for about an hour until we heard the driver call someone and say, I took a wrong turn I am going to be late to Philly. I looked on my phone map and we were certainly going to be late. No one else has every had that issue, but I still prefer Fullington for my excursions home.

I actually, never rode a train until about a year ago, but they are really great if your destinations are near stations or else they are really out of the way and don’t save much time compared to busses and are about the same price. If you are lucky enough to be near one, invest in those “frequent rider” cards to save some money. If you live really far away, then a plane is your only option. I would recommend only fly with a carry-on (unless it is for a long break, then bite the bullet) and take the earliest flight out and back. The last thing you need is your flight to be cancelled or delayed and it ruins you whole weekend. Flying is expensive, but if you fly at off peak times, you can really save.

It is only seven more weeks until Thanksgiving, when everyone will be heading home, you can do it!

Have any other questions about being homesick, or just want to talk? Feel free to comment and I will get back to you ASAP. Or follow me on Twitter at SamSepanak1 and I will answer you there, as well.

P.S. After finishing this post last night, I went to StumbleUpon and came across this little gem here. Little late for most, but very true nonetheless.

Also willing to take suggestions for future posts, if it sounds like a cool idea, I will write about it. If it sounds cool, but I don’t know about it, I will research it and write an awesome post anyways.

7 Life Tips to Help You Become Smarter and More Productive

28 Jul

We all know that success doesn’t happen overnight. If you want to get good at something, say a new ability or skill, a good guideline is the 10,000 hour rule. But many of you reading this, like me, don’t have that kind of time. Instead, that best way to improve yourself is by taking little steps and forming the right foundation. The Great Pyramids were built from the ground up, and life is no exception.

1) Use your shower time to plan your day (and, you know, get clean)

This one’s easy, and falls under the category of “Making the Most of your Time.” Showers in the morning are great: they wake you up, get you smelling fresh, and prepare you to take on the day. This easy life hack helps you to organize your thoughts, and plan what the next few hours will entail. As soon as you get out, grab a piece of paper and write down the next five things you’re going to do. Productivity and organization go hand in hand, and this simple trick will improve both.

2) Question what you’re told

Growing up, we’re programmed to believe what we’re told by adults and authority figures. This is understandable, as we were children, and they knew better. But as much as it seemed they knew everything, that’s not always the case. In the age of smartphones and tablets, we have the ability to question everything we hear or read. Take advantage of that. You don’t want to be the person who says something you thought to be true, but someone else has the facts to refute it.

3) Learn something new everyday

We are incredibly fortunate to have grown up in the internet millennium. There is an infinite amount of information at our fingertips, so seize the opportunity. Develop an endless curiosity about the world, and always strive to learn more or delve deeper. The best way to do this, in my opinion, is to use Stumbleupon. It’s easy to lose a few hours of your day on the site, but if you’re learning about something new or interesting, the time isn’t wasted.

“I’ll get all the sleep I need when I’m dead.” – Wade Garrett, Road House

4) Sleep less

They say you’re supposed to get eight hours of sleep a night. But scientists have also developed the uberman sleep schedule, where you can get by on two hours of sleep a day. So what’s the answer? Well, everyone’s different. Train your body to operate effectively and efficiently on six hours of sleep, and get two more hours out of your day. Sleep is satisfying, and sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed. But for people like us, that like being productive and getting things done, being awake is so much more fulfilling.

5) Drink more water, then drink some more

This is something I picked up on during my first year of college. Hydration is key. Although this is common sense, most people still don’t maintain proper water levels. Start carrying a water bottle, with Camelbaks being a great choice. Staying hydrated helps improve mental health and brain activity, your immune system, and to lose weight. Plus, you’ll have fewer hangovers. Need I say more?

6) Say “yes” more

Now, I’m not here to tell you to be Jim Carrey, and start saying “yes” to every situation that ever occurs. But really, say “yes” more than you already do. Every experience happens because you took the first step in that direction. Next time your friend asks you to help with something, do it. Go on that weekend trip you’ve always been talking about. Just by getting off the couch or your computer, you’re already ahead of the game. If you need some more encouragement, remember this?

7) Read books

“You don’t have to burn books, do you, if the world starts to fill up with nonreaders, nonlearners, nonknowers?” This quote was taken from Fahrenheit 451, written by the late Ray Bradbury, a man who seemingly had a near perfect vision of the future 50 years ago. I saved this one last for a reason, as it’s the most important. Between the plethora of distractions of the digital age, from Facebook to Xbox to iPhones, books are being pushed to the back-burners. Read more books. Find something that interests you, and I guarantee you will learn something, improve your vocabulary, and feel the satisfaction of finishing what you started.

Simple Logic Gates –Minecraft Computer (Part 3)

12 Jul

Welcome to step 3 of “How to Build a Computer in Minecraft” Our last post explained Binary Code and how this code can be created using Redstone. In this post we will display simple constructs built in Minecraft called Logic Gates. These gates are made of Redstone circuits and combined with any of the following:

Simple Logic

Here is a key for the following diagrams. In our next post we will get deeper into other types of Logic Gates and advanced uses, but for today, let’s stick to these simple logic gates. Once you can build all seven of these gates you are well on your way to understanding how to build and operate a Minecraft Computer.

Not Gate

Also known as an inverter, the NOT Gate is used when you want the opposite output from the input you give.

AND Gate

An AND Gate is used with two or more switches or inputs. The output is “ON” only when both inputs are “ON”


A NAND Gate is the opposite of an AND Gate and also has two inputs. The output is toggled to “OFF” only when both inputs are toggled to “ON”.

OR Gate

An OR Gate uses two or more inputs. Whenever the switch is toggled to “ON” the output is toggled to “ON”. The only time the output is “OFF” is when both inputs are “OFF”.

NOR Gate

A NOR Gate is the opposite of an OR Gate. Whenever at least one switch is toggled to “ON”, the output is toggled to “OFF”.

XOR Gate

An XOR Gate uses two inputs. In this gate, the output is toggled to “ON” when one switch is “ON” and one switch is “OFF”. If both switches are “ON” or “OFF” then the output is toggled to “OFF”.


An XNOR Gate is the opposite of an XOR Gate. It uses two inputs. When both inputs are either “ON” or “OFF” the output is toggled to “ON”. Otherwise, the output is toggled to “OFF”.

Here is a video version of the logic gates shown above. It is a straightforward look at Logic Gates with some very cool music! Thanks to the YouTube User Chaaozz for this simple video.

In our next post, we will continue to explore the many uses of Logic Gates in Minecraft, how to incorporate them into a computer, and share some of the cool stuff we have built. Stay tuned and make sure to check out Clipboard+ on Kickstarter! Only 5 Days left to Change the Way You Work.

Related Posts:

Where are we headed? Who will lead us there?

27 Jun
Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla

I was recently introduced to the work of a great man, Nikola Tesla, through a TED talk given by Marco Tempest, a brilliant showman as well as a very insightful magician. Through engaging and enlightening multi-media storytelling, Tempest’s TED talk tells Tesla’s tale (aha…alliteration!) with a pop-up book and a tribute to classical Tenagra-Theater. Further research of Tesla had me fascinated with his work (alternating current, remote-controls, radio, x-rays, etc.), and also it got me thinking about the past, the present, and the future.

The Great Minds

da Vinci, Newton, Ben Franklin, Edison, Tesla, Howard Stark, Steve Jobs… all great men with greater minds whose imagination, ingenuity and understanding helped to change the way we interact with each other and the world around us.

Acme Corp.

ACME Corp.

(though Howard Stark is a comic book character, Stark Industries supplies the Marvel world with nearly everything imaginable-from Flesh-Repairing Serum to the technology for the Iron Man suit- much like the Acme Corporation does for Wile E. Coyote).

These men were thinkers, tinkerers and teachers, but were also students of the world, and the beneficiaries of new information at exciting times in human history. Throughout mankind’s time on earth, periods of increased availability and the spread of new information, ideas and ideals and the increased communication between cultures have yielded great expansions of knowledge and superior technology.

Time and Again

Vitruvian Man (Censored)

During a period of convivencia (Coexistence- a time when Jews, Muslims and Catholics lived together in relative peace) in 12th century Spain, increased interaction between Western Europe and Islamic and Byzantine/Hellenistic cultures brought about a lesser-known Renaissance, with advances in education, navigation, medicine and industry. During the Italian Renaissance, along with a greater interest in retaining and revitalizing classical knowledge, mankind focused on expanding human capability, as 15th century humanist and (hehe) “Renaissance Man” Leon Battista Alberti declared – “Men can do all things, if they will”. In the 18th century, there was the Enlightenment. After the Industrial Revolution, Edison and Tesla’s electrical inventions helped us understand, transmit and utilize energy, and illuminated our dark nights. Today, we can’t take a step without seeing Jobs’ Apple devices bringing us ever closer to each other no matter how far apart we are.

With almost complete globalization, an unprecedented amount of available information and the immediacy of our world today, its clear we are in another period of great knowledge, cultural exchange and brilliant ideas. Are we not the beneficiaries of a modern Renaissance? There are no limits to what we can know, problems we can fix, things we can do. Who will pick up where Steve Jobs left off? What’s next for mankind? How will we change not only the way we work, but, to quote Tupac: “Change the way we eat, change the way we live, and change the way we treat each other”?

(Also- if you enjoyed Marco Tempest’s TED talk about Nikola Tesla, check out another great one by the technology proficient magic man about the art of deception, the deception of art, and the magic and truth in each)

Binary Explained – Minecraft Computer (Part 2)

25 Jun

In yesterday’s post we introduced Minecraft and its usefulness in education. Our final picture, a computer was built by the Changing the Way You Work Team. In today’s post we want to discuss Binary and how to create Binary Code in Minecraft.

Binary is a numeric system that uses two numerals (base 2) to represent all real numbers.

Each digit in Binary is a power of two.

  • The number one in the decimal system is the same as the number one in the binary system
  • The number 23 by contrast is represented as 10111 (16+0+4+2+1)

The decimal system makes perfect sense for human beings to use. We have ten fingers and  ten toes, so when human beings began counting they used these readily available markers. Binary is also a fairly natural system as things either ‘are’ or ‘are not’. Many mystical traditions used binary before the existence of the decimal system. Binary is also the cornerstone of the most important invention to date, the computer.

Binary in Minecraft

Now that you have a basic understanding of the binary system, it is time to move on to Binary in Minecraft. The first step is to gain familiarity with a resource in Minecraft called Redstone Dust.


Redstone Dust is a crafting a brewing ingredient in Minecraft. It is created when Redstone Ore is destroyed using an iron pickaxe. Redstone can be placed on the grond to create Redstone Wire. It can also create a Redstone Torch or Redstone Repeater. Remember, you also have access to unlimited Restone Dust in Creative Mode.

Redstone Wire is going to be the staple of your Binary code. Lat down Redstone on three blocks to create a straight line.

  • This wire will always be either ON (1) or OFF (0).
  • To turn the wire permanently ON, attach a Redstone Torch.
  • To switch between ON and OFF, connect the wire to a Lever at one end and a torch at the other, like this:

Thank you for reading today’s post about Binary in Minecraft! Tomorrow we will discuss the different types of logic gates that can be created from the simple ON/OFF switch made out of a Redstone Torch, Redstone Wire and a Lever.

Minecraft in Education (Intro)

24 Jun
  • Survive in a massive sandbox world
  • Fend off enemies
  • Create anything
  • Collaborate with friends

What is Minecraft?

Minecraft is a sandbox PC game created by Marcus “Notch” Persson and his company, Mojang. Gameplay has two primary play modes.

  1. Creative – allows characters unlimited resources, unlimited health, and the ability to fly
  2. Survival – the player must collect resources, maintain their health and fight monsters

Minecraft is a wonderful game for video game veterans and new comers alike. Foregoing the usual goals and requirements for its players, Minecraft is more like a toy, not a game. Similar to Legos or Lincoln Logs, Minecraft is a fantastic toy that has the capacity to foster divergent thinking and imaginative reasoning. As of November 7, 2011, Minecraft had over 16 million registered users.

Why does Minecraft matter?

Minecraft, Notch and Mojang are extremely influential for a number of reasons. As a member of the Minecraft universe you will:

  • Foster creativity
  • Promote collaboration
  • Support the independent community
  • Challenge the traditional video game model
  • Have a lot of fun

How can it help me educate?

Here at Changing the Way You Work, we like to find creative ways improve current technology. As a K-12 teacher, it important to be aware of the latest and greatest. As we have already established, Minecraft is a popular game with the ability to educate. Many teachers, like Joel Levin, the Minecraft teacher, have already begun to adopt Minecraft in the classroom. Check his site for teachers, MinecraftEdu for more info on how to get Minecraft in your classroom.

Build Anything

Many Minecraft users have taken quite a bit of time to build some amazing structures. Below are just a few of the most fantastic structures built on Minecraft.

Even a Computer

As you can see, truly anything can be built in this fantastic game. If you don’t believe us, check out this computer built by the Changing the Way You Work Team.

Look forward to our next post which will explain Binary code and detail how you can create your own binary code in Minecraft!

3 Questions for Innovation

18 Jun

Today’s post is inspired completely by TED. This excellent knowledge center gives viewers a concise understanding about a wide variety of topics. The following three questions promoted innovative thinking for our team during the development of Clipboard+and we hope they, and their videos, can inspire you as well in your endeavors!

1) Is it Remarkable?

by Seth Godin

The first question for innovation is the subject of a TED talk from 2007, by Seth Godin on Standing Out. In this talk Seth asks, “Is it worth making a remark about?” and stresses how “it is not about interrupting people with a one page ad!” He also makes viewers aware of a Japanese term, otaku, which refers to people with obsessive interests, or as Godin refers to it, “the person who will drive across town to try a new noodle place.” Seth makes three main points that we would suggest writing down.

  • Design rules now
  • Safe is risky…be at the fringes
  • Very good is bad

2) Is it Simple?

by Rory Sutherland

Dubbed the advertising ‘guru’ on TED, Sutherland has been with the advertising giant Ogilvy & Mather for over 25 years. This simple talk is focuses on “disconnecting from what people actually want.” Instead, Rory describes how many people think, “big problems require big solutions, and this is a misconception!” Our favorite quote from Sweat the Small Stuff is “stuff that has a huge success/ effect, doesn’t cost a lot of money.”

3) Does it Make You Happy?

by Chip Conley

The final question is addressed by Chip Conley, founder of the Joie de Vivre Hotels. In it, he discusses Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and its implications for businesses. Conley says, “There are no metrics for transformation, success, and survival.” He believes this is problematic because, “Ninety-four percent of business leaders believe in intangibles and only 5% use a metric system.” To solve this measurement issue Conley points to countries like Bhutan who have a measurement of their Gross National Happiness. Gong into the future Conley reminds us, “Ten billion dollars for questions about tangible things, what about the intangibles?”


Hopefully this post got you thinking and innovating! If you have other questions you ask when innovating please let us know in the comments. If you have any suggestions about future posts or just want to chat give us some love on Twitter @clipboard_plus

This week is a big week for Changing the Way You Work and Clipboard+! We are launching our first ever Kickstarter campaign! Check out our preview link to get a sneak peak! Please support us and tell your friends.