Monday May 27, 2013
Commencement speeches are one of the great traditions in U.S. universities and Colleges where graduates are given their last lesson before entering the real world.
Every year around this time, clusters of capped and gowned students take their place to listen to the wise words of the expert, politician, celebrity or influential leader in their field appointed as the Commencement Speech giver. Over the years, there has been some magnificent motivational and inspirational words of wisdom handed down to the latest crop of eager graduates.
We've gathered some of the most powerful Commencement Speeches ever given below:
1. Steve Jobs, Stanford, 2005
One of the most viewed and celebrated Commencement Speeches is Steve Jobs' address to the Stanford graduates in 2005. The tech innovator urges the audience to pursue your dreams, see the opportunities in life's setbacks and learn how to live before you die.
2. J.K. Rowling Speaks, Harvard, 2008
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling delivered her commencement address "The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination" where she discusses the power of failure and hard-won lessons while offering some powerful advice to dreamers and overachievers.
3. Conan O'Brien, Dartmouth, 2011
In 2011, Conan O'Brien gave a similar lesson to J.K. Rowling but reinforcing the concept that failure is not always a negative thing. In the video below, O'Brien discusses his biggest failure - losing "The Today Show" to Jay Leno. He recounts the disappointment of the year to follow, how he coped and what we can learn from his failure.
4. Michelle Obama, Eastern Kentucky University, 2013
In our most recent Commencement speech example, the First Lady of the United States urges students to go out and find students with different belief systems. "If you're a Democrat, spend some time talking to a Republican. And if you're a Republican, have a chat with a Democrat. We know what happens when we only talk to people who think like we do. We just get stuck in our ways."
5. Will Ferrell, Harvard, 2003
Will Ferrell tops the list of top Commencement Speeches in terms of comedic value with his witty comments advising graduates to pay their taxes citing he only "took home $9,000 last year". Ferrell also broke out in song at one point and funneled a beer Frank the Tank-style. Watch the full video here:
Not Finished University or College Yet?
If you're finishing your exams soon, make sure to check out our Top 5 Study Tips to Achieve your Study Goals to help you understand hwo to learn and improve your memory. Why not try using ExamTime and discover the secret to exam success. Click here to try it now!
Tuesday April 30, 2013
In 2011 some of you may have just started university or were still working towards getting a good A-level result but Team Hermes were making the rest of us look like cavemen! The team of software developers represented Sligo I.T. in the North West of Ireland in the worldwide Microsoft Imagine Cup Competition in the USA in 2011 and achieved commendable success and recognition by winning the entire competition.
The team developed a software solution using Microsoft technology to encourage drivers to be safer on the roads. CleverMiles has since been established based on the team’s winning entry to the Microsoft Imagine Cup in 2011. CleverMiles is a cloud based platform for 18-40 year olds that rewards drivers with CleverPoints every time they drive safely. CleverPoints can be redeemed against rewards from six different categories (Tech, Travel, etc..). CleverMiles was created from Project Hermes, the IT Sligo team who won the worldwide Microsoft Imagine Cup in 2011.
We had a chat with the guys during the days of after-glow success after their win. Click here to read the full interview with James McNamara of Team Hermes.
With the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2013 in full swing, we thought it was time we caught up with James and CleverMiles to see what the success of winning the prestigious competition has taught him and to see what's next for CleverMiles:
James: Hi! As the Imagine Cup was all about “Saving the world’s biggest problems using technology” we tried to tackle a problem that was both important to us, and important to world.
Being a bunch of twenty somethings from the North West of Ireland, the problem was pretty obvious to us… road traffic accidents.
One of our team members, Calum Cawley, even lived on the infamous stretch of the N4 outside Sligo which is lined with 29 crosses to highlight to drivers the amount of people who have died on that road.
We wanted to find a way to encourage drivers to slow down and be safe. We knew from our own experience that the graphic RSA adverts and penalty points were not really effective on the younger age groups and they are inherently negative. We wanted a positive way to encourage drivers to want to be safe, not force them to be safe.
Our system does that. We built a social, engaging platform that uses game dynamics to make road safety a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Drivers use our system to get points for driving safely, then they can spend those point in our shop and get pretty nifty rewards like Samsung tables, rail tickets, sports store discounts, gifts, grub, gear… the list goes on! And all this is then hooked up to Facebook so you can show your friends what a kick ass driver you are!
We also built a Netduino based hardware device from scratch, using the .Net Micro Framework which was pretty fun to do…
It’s been as crazy as winning the competition was. After we won we had a lot of press and PR work, which was excellent (if not a little scary!), and Microsoft flew us to Denver, San Francisco and Anahiem. From there we came back to Ireland and got down to the busy work of commercialising the technology. We set up CleverMiles, built a team, got some fantastic office space from ITSligo and started developing a commercial version of the product. It’s been going really well and just last week we began beta trials of the product. If everything goes to plan we should see full launch this summer - so watch this space!
We’ve exciting plans for CleverMiles including new functionality and markets. It’s going to be a hectic next few years but I’m really excited about what we are doing.
It’s an interesting project. It’s based on some really interesting technology, integrating proven technology like Kinect and Skype with new some innovative hardware components. It also is built for a solid reason and there is a real need for a product that can enable the older generation to stay at home and be independent if that is their wish, rather than having the necessity to move to a nursing home. I have talked to the guys a couple of times and they really believe this product can change the lives of older people across the world, and hopefully that belief will help them win the Imagine Cup and bring this product to commercial realisation.
As clichéd as it may sound, you need 3 things: commitment, drive and an excellent idea. The Imagine Cup is a worldwide competition, with over 100,000 student entering annually, so the standard is very high. Projects need to be at a solid and polished level to gain success. From what I’ve seen over the 2 years since we won, the level of projects coming from Irish Students is as good as any other country can produce. As with any start-up company you also need the right mix of team members, a business head, and designer, and of course (the most important of all !) a couple of programmers.
I think getting familiar with daily use of technology is a key part of the skill development at third level. When I was writing project documentation back in college I used OneNote extensively, as it’s a really easy tool to scribble down thoughts and grab quotes, links and images. This allowed me to could Cut, Pate and Edit text into Word to create the final drafts. Getting familiar with styles and headings in Word also massively increased my productivity in creating those documents. Now I’m chief Technical Officer of a technology company, documentation and reports are a daily task and that familiarity and efficiency I built up back as an undergrad is seriously paying dividends.
As I’ve mentioned already, it has had a massive impact. The learning, challenges and experiences I’ve had have been amazing.
Thanks for your time today; it’s been great talking to you! We wish you the all the best for the future.
Tuesday March 26, 2013
Microsoft Office 2013 has been installed on our S4S computers for a while and we have been reading up on the changes that Microsoft have made to their flagship productivity software so we can help you understand the improvements that have been made. Not only that, Microsoft themselves gave us a run through of all things Office 2013!
So we thought we would share our insight into Office 2013 with this guide to the new additions to each of the Office applications.
The main differences between Office 2013 and other versions of the software are summarised here:
Office On-Demand: Student’s working from multiple devices can temporarily download an Office 2013 application from their Microsoft account, work on a document and re-upload it to their SkyDrive so you will always have the latest version of your document saved.
Cloud Computing: Save your files to the cloud via your SkyDrive where you can log in and access your files from anywhere, even devices that do not have Office 2013 installed. The SkyDrive also allows for easier collaboration with your peers as you can share links and access to your documents with others.
Functionality: Office 2013, as with Windows 8, has adopted the Metro look which provides a cleaner space allowing you to focus on your work. These Microsoft additions have also been designed with touch devices in mind and can be installed on tablets and other mobile devices.
All of the New Office apps offer a start screen which offers a selection of professional-looking templates (along with a list of recent documents) to choose from:
Microsoft Word 2013
- PDF Editing: Open and edit PDF documents, incorporate content from PDFs into Word documents quickly and easily.
- Online Content: Include online video, images and other media with a simple drag and drop.
- Alignment: Align pictures and diagrams easier with the new alignment guide.
- Pin your place: If you are working on a big document such as a thesis or end of year project, Word 2013 will pin where you were working and give you the option to reopen where you left off.
Microsoft PowerPoint 2013
The star of Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 is the presenter view. This new screen allows you to zoom in on parts of your presentation, privately view speaker notes, upcoming slides and your presentation time.
- Widescreen Slides: Create and edit slides in widescreen view enabling you to use all available space and know exactly how your slides will look in full screen when you are presenting.
- Add Online Content: As with the new Word, you can simply add images from social media and other online sources without saving them first.
Microsoft Excel 2013
- Recommended Charts: Excel’s Chart recommendations will guide you through the myriad of chart options available helping you pick the one you need.
- Improved Table: If you’re a data freak, you’ll be pleased to learn that Excel 2013 makes it even easier to filter PivotTable data plus Slicers make quick work of filtering even the trickiest of statistics.
- Embed Online: Embed your data and charts from Excel online to share information easily.
Microsoft OneNote 2013
- Compose notes and drawings: create short notes and drawings on the fly and attach just about any computer file to any part of your notes (including Excel spreadsheets) so your notes take on more of a scrapbook vibe. Students can keep their PowerPoint lecture notes and hand written noes from class and keep them together in a OneNote file.
- Cloud Storage: as with all Office 2013 apps, you can save your files to your SkyDrive where they will reside safe and sound. Your notes will sync across the OneNote apps on all your favourite devices including your Windows computer, Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad, Android and Symbian device – so you’ll always have them to hand.
If you haven’t already heard, Software4Students have created a new online learning platform called ExamTime where you can sign up for free to use our Mind Map, Flashcard, Notes and Study Quiz tool. Click here to sign up and learn more about ExamTime!
Confused about the different Office versions? Visit our Microsoft Office Comparison Chart to learn more.
Have you been using Microsoft Office 2013? Leave a comment and let us know what you think below!
Wednesday March 13, 2013
Your end of year exams may seem a long way away but implementing the right study techniques early on that will help you understand how to learn and improve memory, will ensure you achieve exam success!
Use this quick study tip guide from ExamTime.com a brand new learning platform, to see how you can improve your study skills and get yourself on track to achieving those A's in your exams - it's just like winning an Oscar!
Preparing for Exam Success!
Your end of year exams may seem a long way away but implementing the right study techniques early on that will help you understand how to learn and improve memory, will ensure you achieve exam success! Use this quick study tip guide to see how you can improve your study skills and get yourself on track to achieving those A's in your exams - it's just like winning an Oscar!
Study Tip #1
Understand your study skills in your own words: Your teacher or lecturer can explain something to you, you can learn it from a text book, your friends can study with you, even your own notes can explain it to you but all these explanations are of little use if , by the end, you can can’t explain what you have learned it to yourself. If you don’t understand a study concept that you need to illustrate in an exam to get top exam results then you won’t be happy with your exam result. To combat this, get into the habit of explaining whatever it is you are studying, in your own words so that you understand your study notes. The key to help improve your memory is to understand what you have learned when you are studying it so don't just memorise and tick off the list, make sure you understand your theory.
Study Tip #2
- Don’t be afraid to ask study questions: Of course, depending on what you’re studying, it may be quite difficult to get into a position to understand a concept, theory or other information you need to learn for your exams. This is where it is invaluable to ask questions of your teachers, lecturers or other educators. Don’t be afraid of asking a ‘stupid’ questions—there really is no such thing when it comes to study and learning! Embrace your curiosity, for as William Arthur Ward said: “Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.” Doing so will allow you to fill in the blanks and better prepare you for exams.
Study Tip #3
- Quiz yourself: Once you feel you understand a concept or a topic it is important to test yourself on it. Try and replicate exam conditions as much as possible: turn your phone off, don’t talk, time yourself etc. You can set yourself a study quiz or practice exam questions and so long as you approach it with the right mindset you can get a very good idea of how much you know. You gain a greater insight into where you stand on what you have studied so far and it will give you some much need exam preparation, making the actual exam a more comfortable experience. Flashcards are ideal for boosting your memory and help you recall theory, definitions and key dates - these are great for quick study session, especially straight before an exam.
Study Tip #4
- Get Creative with online study tools:Don’t feel obliged to just sit in front of a book with a highlighter; there are many different ways to study. You should pick whatever works for you. Try using as much study tools and techniques as possible to help you study better and kind what work best for you. Perfect examples of such study tools would be online flashcards, mindmaps , mnemonics , online study planners, video and audio resources. Login to your ExamTime account now to access your free online study tools; mind maps, flashcards, study quizzes and practice exam answers and bring your study notes with you wherever you are.
Study Tip #5
- Set your study goals and create a flexible study plan: In order to achieve exam success you need to know what you want to achieve. That’s why it is extremely important to set your Study Goals now and outline to yourself what you need to do. With your study goals in mind and your end of year exams weeks and months away it makes sense to have a flexible study plan as opposed to a rigid one. The closer you get to your exams the more concrete your study plan should be but at this point it should be porous. It should be broad enough to allow you to add and change aspects but concise enough so you know you’re covering each subject/topic as best you can at this point.
Achieve Exam Success!
If you incorporate these 5 aspects into your study regime you will be well on your way to achieving exam success. Remember, the earlier you start learning and preparing for exams, the more you’ll remember and understand but most importantly, you will have to study less in the future!
Remember, ExamTime can help you achieve exam success! Signup to use ExamTime's free online study tools such as our mindmaps, flashcards, study quizzes and practice exam papers. Keep motivated to study by using the study goals feature to set yourself study targets to focus on. Online revision is the key to exam success, why not give it a go - it's free!