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The Ultimate Steal: Office 2007 - $59 for Students

Microsoft will begin running a promotion later today aptly named "The Ultimate Steal" in which it will offer Office 2007 Ultimate for $59, less than 10% of the $679 list price. The catch is that you have to be a student (or at least have a .edu email address).

This is an excellent move by Microsoft. Students with fast university internet connections and limited income are more likely to pirate expensive software, something software vendors try to curtail by offering student discounts for their software (with the added benefit of potentially gaining life-long customers). This promotion takes that strategy to an extreme. At $59, the "too expensive" excuse flies out the window. For non-freshmen (as this was the first back-to-school season where Office 2007 was available), this is a good motivator to upgrade from Office 2003 and will most likely drive Office 2007 adoption through the roof.

Office 2007 is one of Microsoft's flagship products and perhaps the best product they've ever shipped. I've written about the new ribbon UI back when the product was in beta, and though I'm using Office 2003 at work, every time I come back to Office 2007, I realize how big the differences between the two are and how less stressful it is to use the newer version. While deciding to "upgrade" to Vista is a difficult choice to make (the quotes around "upgrade" should be quite telling), upgrading to Office 2007 is a no-brainer and I highly recommend doing so to anyone, especially at this price.

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Free NY Times Select for .edu's

Scott points out that the New York Times premium content, NYT Select, is free for current students and faculty. It only requires a .edu address, so alumni with lifetime addresses would likely fly under the radar. YMMV

And because it wouldn't be a 2007 blog post with a Twitter mention…

I've signed up but still haven't gone through the registration yet. Twittervision is too time-consuming for me to have enough time to even skim the New York Times.

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I <3 IvyGate

I've been following IvyGate, a blog about the Ivy League, for a few months now and I absolutely love them. Not only is it relevant (though not for long :(), but the guys who write it are hilarious. Here's some choice quotes/links:

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Something tells me I should get back to studying for Venture Capital

As I continue discovering new ways to put off studying for my Venture Capital final that's tomorrow at 3, Wharton grad, Half.com founder, and venture capitalist, Josh Kopelman, has posted a link to the Blueprint Ventures' 2006 holiday card. It is available on YouTube as well. So while it won't help me learn how to value Participating Convertible Preferred Stock, the break-even valuation for a Series F investment, or what a real option really is, it does show me what I can look forward to if I do learn those things ;)

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ENGL 105: Copyright and Culture

The class I am currently sitting in has a list of recommended blogs on the syllabus. We just watched a video podcast. Cool!

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Apple's new .edu iMac

Apple today announced a new donwgraded iMac specifically designed for the education market. The machine features the same 1.83GHz processor and 17" display as the previous low-end iMac, but downgrades almost everything else:

  • 80GB HD (vs 160GB)
  • 2×256 MB RAM (vs 1×512 MB)
  • 24x Combo Drive (vs 8x DL SuperDrive)
  • 64MB Integrated GMA 950 (vs 128 MB Discrete Radeon X1600)
  • No Bluetooth or Apple Remote

This new retails for $900, $300 less than the previous low-end iMac with .edu discount. The new machine makes official the long-expected demise of the eMac and the end of Apple's CRT era. It also places the always horribly-overpriced Mac mini in an even more compromising position, since it is now only $120 cheaper (at .edu prices) than the new iMac. Even though the new iMac is available to educational buyers (both private and insitutional) only, I think that we'll be seeing an upgraded Mac mini around the same time as the Mac Pro debuts, which is rumored to be at or around this August's Worldwide Developer's Conference.

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Education 2.0

The University of California, Berkeley has posted recordings of some classes on iTunes. This is a great step towards Education 2.0 (.edu + Web 2.0). Students don't have to be in the same physical room as the professor to hear the lecture anymore. Heck, the student doesn't have to be go to the same school.

Critics may complain that podcasting lectures will completely destroy class attendance. I disagree. There is definitely something about being able to see lecture slides and be able to ask questions on-the-fly and have discussions with the professor and other students. But imagine being able to learn twice as much by being able to fill in downtime with recorded lectures (see the jar of rocks metaphor).

This is only the beginning. What I see a few years down the line are many-to-many podcasts much like the way blogs work now. The professor puts out (or it happens automatically via classroom technologies) the day's lecture. Slides are timecoded so as automatically follow the audio. Students post audio comments, listenable by everyone else. Each student has their own feed for each class they're enrolled in. If I like a particular student's comments, I can subscribe to his/her feed and have their questions/comments brought to my attention. I can hear what he has to say in other classes. I can respond to them even if I'm not in that other class. I can respond on my own time.

There's no need for everyone to get together in the same room at the same time to have class. Class can happen on your time.

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MMOs in the Classroom

It seems that someone does "get it." A professor at Ball State University will be teaching her English 104 class entirely online in Second Life.

I installed Second Life a few weeks ago but only spent a few minutes in it. There doesn't really seem to be a purpose to Second Life (much like First Life, one might argue), so I was turned off. With all the hype it's been getting recently, I may have to take a more in-depth look at it.

Either way, it's great to see new teaching methods being tried. I can't wait to see how this little experiment turns out.

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Penn Library does social bookmarking

I saw a link to this in my referrer logs…

PennTags is the University of Pennsylvania Library's social bookmarking tool. I haven't added anything yet, but at first glance, it looks a lot like del.icio.us.

It has a feature called projects, which are basically folders for those who aren't folsonomified yet. There also all the goodies you'd expect from commercial social bookmarking sites, such as RSS feeds for everything, bookmarklets and even a Firefox toolbar (for bookmarking and other library tools).

This is the first I've heard of this, but a quick Google search reveals that this is at least 4 months old. I'll be the first to admit I don't spend much time at the libary (Whartonites are averse to any text not in Excel), but this is the first I've heard of it so they haven't done a good job of advertising it.

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Does Wharton Get It?

One of my biggest problems with my Wharton education is that a lot fo the stuff we're being taught is outdated. Our Marketing 101 and Management 101 classes are being taught based on models and frameworks developed 30+ years ago.

In either class, I have yet to hear the word "blog", yet blogging has been around for at least five years and doesn't show any signs of slowing down. Blogging has changed the way businesses should be run, yet the leaders of my generation will be running businesses the way we learned to in school and the way its been done for the past few years. You know that boss that'll fire you in 10 years for blogging? They're sitting next to me taking pages and pages of notes on the Nadler-Tushman Congruence Model and learning how to do "business as usual."

So do we get it or not? Dean Harker does, but its not apparent from the "front lines". As the leading undergraduate business school (and one of the top graduate B-schools), I'd have hoped we could do something a bit more cutting-edge than the usual research/paper/presentation deal we have been required to do in many of the core classes. For example, in Management 101, we are to research a company "with a problem", analyze it in the context of the frameworks of the class, and offer our recommendations. Imagine instead, we assembled a class-wide World of Warcraft guild (or for the less war-mongering among us, perhaps set up a Second Life business) and built our characters over the course of the semester. Over the course of the semester, we would have to do small writeups defending the contributions we made to our guild. Which one would teach us more about being leaders and managers in the real world? I can tell you that the former probably won't and Joi Ito can tell you that the latter probably is.

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