(Campus)Lifehacker: A better way to hydrate in the Ratty

Should I barrel ahead to the Bistro or take my chances on Roots and Shoots? Should I save room for dessert? To POG or not to POG? These are important questions that credit-packing Brown students ponder every day. We try to manage the overwhelming Ratty experience by formulating a plan of attack; any experienced diner will have his/her route mapped before he/she is ushered with a “Hiiiiiiiii” into the rabbit hole. But despite our best efforts, these plans rarely go off without a hitch. There is always some unknown quantity that trips us up as we strive for that unattainable dream: the perfectly efficient Ratty experience.

Today at BlogDH, we are proud to bring you one step closer to the green light. Your days of searching and waiting in line for the one semi-functional lukewarm water dispenser are over. Under the Hi-C label on two of the Ratty’s drink fountains is a small lever that releases gloriously frigid water when pressed. The concept isn’t foreign, but even the most experienced Brown diners seem to ignore our fountains’ inconspicuous godsend. Apparently, some privy BDS employees are offended by its underuse, because they’ve been showing students the way of the tab more and more recently. One employee even told us that the water in there is even better-filtered than the tepid stuff of its dysfunctional counterpart. If the tab wasn’t a game changer already, he closed the case. Keep fighting the good fight, Brown diners.

(Campus)Lifehacker: The Blue Room Salad

As yet another school year slowly winds to a close, you most likely have your daily Blue Room routine down to a science. Look for an empty booth, preferably one with an outlet. Put your bag down. Take a lap to find friends. Check to see if your favorite Shanghai sushi roll is still left. Eye the bakery/coffee line and gauge how much time you’ll have to spend waiting on it. Make a decision about what you’ll eat, pay, and hope that you have enough points left so you don’t hold up the line of impatient and hungry people behind you.

Of course, some inevitable external condition is bound take you out of your usual Blue Room rhythm. The 4 p.m. meal credit rush is definitely a game-changer and a royal pain in the ass. There’s only Sabra Red Pepper Hummus left. There are no more ciabatta rolls. The only fresh veggies on the  bottom refrigerated shelf are those monstrous (and weirdly phallic) whole English cucumbers. And where did all the Nime Chow go?! Equilibrium has been disturbed.

If you’re seeking consistency above all else in your Blue Room dining experience, look no further than the Blue Room Salad. No, I’m not talking about those tiny boxes of spinach or field greens that come with a measly side of balsamic vinaigrette. I’m talking customization and options at your fingertips. Tastes and flavors like you’d never believe. Dreamy greens. The only thing that stands in your way is the pesky glass partition of the sandwich line. No more ciabatta rolls? No problem.

Continue Reading

Cella: A kick-ass tool to help you out with the housing lottery

If you’re participating in the Housing Lottery (aka Shelter Games), you’ve got until Wednesday the 11th (numbers 1 through 460) or Tuesday the 17th (461 through 697) to map out your strategy. Which (at least for my freshman and sophomore groups of 11 and 8 people, respectively) meant contingency plans upon contingency plans upon contingency plans. Historically, it has proven a huge pain in the ass to navigate the huge amount of room info, past results, and other pertinent information from the Res Council website: there’s just so much.

Fortunately, some students created a tool to make the process at least 10,000 times easier (actual mathematical figure). Nathan Malkin ’13 and Sumner Warren ’13 have developed Cella over the past semester as a successor to their CS32 project Domus, a desktop app with similar functionality created with Miya Schneider ’13. This tool is incredibly versatile as well as informative. It uses a database of rooms and your preferences (only want to live on Main Campus? Want to live anywhere but Pembroke? Know what dorm you want to be in?) to provide you with tons of options for a group of a specified size, also taking into account your lottery number in comparison with past results in order to rank the probability of each room. It also provides links to floor plans and other info specific to each dorm (gender neutrality, apartment rate, etc.). If you want to play around with different breakdowns of a large group, create as many separate searches in separate tabs as you want. Check out their About page to see what else the tool can do, or better yet, go forth and experiment. The design is incredibly intuitive and easy to use.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

We’ve been told

In response to our and others’ criticisms of Brown Menu last fall, the site’s owners have implemented a complete revamp. It now looks sleeker and, more importantly, lets you to sign up to receive text and/or email notifications when BuDS is serving your favorite items. Just register for the site and start favorite-ing menu options by clicking the mouse-over heart icon that appears next to each item. The site also now has a tight favicon.

With God as my witness, I will never again miss another Gnocchi alla Sorentina dinner. In this blogger’s eyes, BrownMenu.com has officially moved up from FlogDailyHerald to (Campus)Lifehacker status.

(Campus)Lifehacker: Navigating the in-class serenade

Unless you have an exciting date (and the Ratty doesn’t count), the best part of Valentine’s Day is when an a cappella group disrupts your class to serenade an unsuspecting fellow classmate. I’m not sure which scenario is more awkward: the crowded lecture hall where 100+ students witness your embarrassment or the intimate seminar where everyone has a great view of your face as it grows redder than a Solo cup.

Even professors excitedly await the spectacle. Last spring, my professor in a relatively small class remarked that she hoped someone would come to serenade a student. Luckily for her and the other amused students, the Ursa Minors walked in during the last few minutes of class to sing “Only You” to a girl sitting right in the middle of the room. She awkwardly slouched in her seat, nervously whispered to her friend, “Who sent that to me?” and, essentially, did not play it cool. At all.

That girl was me.

Now, one year older and wiser (not really, but I can pretend), I’m offering advice about how to act natural if the Ursas interrupt your class, call your name, and serenade you. And just a heads up, I heard the pirate a(“RRR”) capella group is doing valentines this year too, so be prepared. Continue Reading

(Campus)Lifehacker: Search for classes … by room!

The new Metcalf Auditorium!

Admit it — classroom matters.

You really want to take a class in the new Metcalf Auditorium, especially if you had a class in the old one, but you have no interest in CLPS. Or perhaps you have been trying to find an excuse to spend time in the Granoff Center. Or maybe you just really like Smitty B 106.

Whatever the case, you may have been frustrated that Banner will not let you search for classes by room. But it’s cool, we’ve got a solution for you!

All you have to do is check out this wonderful page on the Registrar’s website. It lists the classrooms for every course this semester. Then use the “find” feature on your web browser to find the classroom you’re looking for, and that will give you all the results. For example, searching for “Metcalf Chemical Laboratory AUD” — their name for Metcalf Auditorium — will show you that if CLPS just isn’t your thing, you can always take Bio 50 (Cell and Molecular Biology), Applied Math 65 (Essential Statistics), Soc 17 (The Family), or Soc 162 (Globalization and Social Conflict).

It’s a mystery why Banner doesn’t do this, but then again, Banner doesn’t do lots of things…