“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… The ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Steve Jobs certainly lived a fruitful life. Many consider the Apple Inc. founder to be the epitome of the American dream. A man who came to be successful after continually driving himself toward the ideas that are now synonymous with his name. The merit was gathered through all of the hard work and planning of one man. When Jobs passed away in 2011, Apple Inc. found trouble in the fact that they just simply could not replace their founder. The intelligence and the ambition that Jobs exhibited are also synonymous with him, because there was only one person who defied the odds to effectively live his dreams. That ambition and drive are what bring people from the planning stages, right passed the naysayers, and straight over the expectations of others.
Big goals come from determined people, for sure.
One young man from Wayne, New Jersey, has set out to put his goal into the hands of every college student in America. John Rondi, 21, has been working hard to prepare his tutoring app, “Stunited” for its maiden launch on August 10, 2017.
Rondi plans on hosting a celebration for the launch that night, where all in attendance will download the app once it becomes available on the App Store at 10pm. For those who know Rondi, and those who know what kind of app Stunited is, this is certainly a cause for celebration.
The app is built around the concept of “students helping students” in which student users can come into contact with other students who are in need of academic help. A user can open up the app and tailor their profile to display what areas and subjects they need tutoring assistance with. In a bartering-style fashion, the user can also display their strengths as well on their profiles. This information in profiles will help students determine if they would be willing to strike a partnership with them. After deciding, users can then contact each other directly to work out arrangements. Through these means, Rondi hopes to help students struggling with course material to find help a lot easier.
Rondi knows from experience that getting ahold of that help is easier said than done. A senior finance major at Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J., Rondi has a mind geared toward logical and mathematical thinking. On the other hand, Rondi has experienced trouble with writing essays, particularly one that was due for his English class during his sophomore year of college. He recalls staying up late to work on the paper, and deciding that it would be in his best interest to get help. He had no luck finding help online or locating a tutor.
“I reached out to one of my friends from across the hall, who I knew she was pretty good with writing. I explained to her the situation, I said “listen, I’m really struggling right now, I could really use your help. Would you mind helping me out?” She said “John, I’d really love to help, but the problem is I’m up now doing my calc homework,”” Rondi said.
Rondi then came up with a means to ease both of their pain.
“I said “well you know, I’m pretty good with math. Maybe we could solve assignments. I could help you with your math and you could help me with my writing,” Rondi said. “We went on for several weeks and we continued to do this whole kind of bartering and exchanging of information skills, and I liked the idea so much that I kind of did it with other students as well.”
Spring-boarding from these experiences, Rondi began morphing the concept into a business. Before he knew it, Rondi was tweaking out ideas for what a student-generated academic app would physically look like. Rondi said that computer and app coding are not skills that are particularly prominent for him. So, he set out to find people who could help put the skeleton of the app together. In late-August of last year, Rondi hired the Brooklyn app agency, App Partner, to help him with developing the app. From there, the agency worked with Rondi to create the internal layout and overall presentation of the app, as well as its logo.
When it was done with basic design and functionality, Rondi was ready to bring his bona fide app to the public’s attention. He did this by entering into Rowan’s Rohrer Business Model Competition on April 8, 2017, where he would go on to bring home a competition win, as well as a $2,000 prize. This victory gave Rondi even more fuel for his ambition to make Stunited into an app that would help more students.
As far as the business end of the app goes, Rondi looks to other social-matching apps for inspiration, such as Tinder and Bumble. According to Rondi, the app is completely free, and he plans on keeping it that way. The plan as of now is to bring in as many students as possible to download and use the app. Looking down the road, Rondi said that he wants to steer clear of a model that relies on advertisements to make money. Rondi hopes that he could possibly partner with a larger app/technology company such as Chegg to sponsor Stunited.
That isn’t Rondi’s main goal, of course. Rondi has big ambitions for his creation. Since winning the competition, Rondi has enlisted the help of friends to serve as ambassadors and sales representatives for Stunited. Outreach and bringing more attention to the app are huge priorities for Rondi. The effort Rondi has put into this venture go to show just how passionate he is about his app and the effects it could have.
“I saw a need for this and I decided to go “why not?” Why not go through with this and make it into something that I could truly believe can be successful. You know, I don’t see this as being just a quick way to make money or anything like that. I truly believe that this is going to be an app that’s going to be used by every college student in America. Once I decided that, I was like “I’m going to pursue this,” Rondi said.
Rondi’s enthusiasm doesn’t go ignored, that is certain. Rondi’s friends have been aiding and supporting him through this venture. Sebastian Hull, 20, also from Wayne, N.J., is a finance major at Rowan University just like Rondi. Hull and Rondi have been close friends since high school, having been teammates for football and wrestling. Hull has respect for Rondi’s ambition.
“John is hungry, you know, and he has this great idea here and I know he’s a smart guy and he’s got a good mentality. He wants to succeed and I think that’s a pretty good idea to help him out along the way. He’s definitely one of the few people I know that could get this done, in my opinion. So, I think it’s a good fit,” Hull said.
With that fire in his belly, Rondi has set his sails for August 10. He’s hungry, eager, and thrilled to finally see the launch of Stunited…
Privacy is a lie, they say. As matter of fact, in the world of legalese, privacy is a relatively fresh subject for regulation. When it comes to the Internet and the vast umbrella of social media, trying to keep private information away from unwanted eyes becomes an even hairier predicament. Of course, some people would say that it’s simply the times that we live in now. The world is digitized and most of the time, the only person who can squeal about what you had for lunch or the new car you bought, is you. Even with that said, some social media outlets are walking the border between innovative and intrusive.
The popular photo and video app, Snapchat, released a new feature on June 21, 2017, that allows users to use an in-app map to know the exact whereabouts of their followers. The feature vaguely resembles Niantic’s Pokemon GO game, in how the “Snap Map” overlays the real-time locations of anybody in the user’s contact list. The map goes in-depth with details, and will even display street names and images of homes and buildings. Users can pinpoint specific friends on the map by searching for that person’s “Bitmoji,” a cartoon-avatar that usually resembles the user. The map will tell if that person searched is driving, or sleeping, or even if they are listening to music.
Sullivan Leiby, a 19-year-old from Mount Laurel, New Jersey, studies biology at Rowan University, and said that she has some mixed feelings about the feature so far.
“It’s cool, looking at everybody’s Bitmojis and all of your friends and where they are. That just said, at the same time, like the bad thing is it’s a little weird how people can see where you are and I think that some people might abuse that,” Leiby said.
The map does not only show the basic vicinity of the user, but of the entire world as well. Going in-line with the social media motif of making the world a smaller place, Snapchat utilizes “snaps” from across the globe. Using glowing spots on the map, a user can zero-in on any snaps being uploaded to the “Our Story” snaps, where the user voluntarily lets anybody in the world view his or her snaps. This effectively allows for any user to “travel” to see raving parties in Nigeria, bakeries in Beirut, Eid celebrations in the U.A.E., teens playing basketball on Samoa, or even country music concerts in Alaska. Even if a user is not fluent in any of these languages, the feature may be useful in educating people worldwide of each other’s cultures, customs, and may even show how similar we all really are.
As beneficial as this feature is in that perspective, it has received backlash for allowing a person’s location to be available to anybody they follow. Especially in regards to users under 18 and women. Although the app has been under fire for that aspect, it also troubleshoots the dilemma by using a setting called “Ghost Mode,” where a user can hide their location. On the flip side, this allows users to scope out their friends without being noticed. If users feel inclined, they can manually select which friends can see them as well.
Matt Crispe, 20, of Jackson, N.J., and said the feature is “an invasion of privacy.” The athletic training major at East Stroudsburg University, said he feels uncomfortable with the feature’s ability to zero-in on a person’s exact house and/or location.
“I was driving through Belmar the other day, and one kid texted me like “yo, what’re you doing in Belmar?” I was like “how do you even know that?” and sent me a screenshot of like my Snapchat character in Belmar, and I was just like “this is weird,”” Crispe said.
A major cause for concern has been children under 18 who are users of the app. Statistics from 2016 showed that 22 percent of Snapchat users in the U.S. are between the ages of 13 and 17, according to a survey by statista.com. With limited knowledge of whom their children are following, parents have every right to be concerned. On the other hand, the feature does have a way of helping children in this sense as well, according to Crispe.
“It’s just good, like God forbid, a kid gets kidnapped, and they have Snapchat on their phone, and it’s kind of like Locate My iPhone but a little bit easier,” Crispe said.
For every positive, there’s a negative though, of course.
“The downfall to that is that it only updates your position if you open Snapchat,” Crispe said, “It’s definitely good to track someone, like just in case they’re in trouble, but it’s not the most-guaranteed solution.”
Along with parents, law officials are going to be on the lookout for any disturbances involving the feature. John Locasio, 23, of Belvidere, N.J., graduated from Rowan University this past May with a degree in criminal justice. He understands that regulations and protocol are going to be easier said than done. Locasio said that regulation and oversight for these concerns would have to come via Snapchat itself, as law officials “have no jurisdiction over social media.”
Locasio does take a tough stance on the workings of the feature though.
“There needs to be more safeguard for it, you know? There needs to be more checks on it, checks and balances, so that people aren’t being exposed for where they are,” Locasio said.
As Snapchat becomes increasingly more prominent in the US and around the world, users such as Locasio have come to grips with the apparent nature of the times we live in.
“There is nothing private about social media anymore,” Locasio said. “There’s nothing safe about having a live-GPS on you all of the time.”
For more information on the Snap Map, visit the app’s website by clicking here.
It’s a little bit more than just easy-dealing, but when Kyle Scripko packs up his “suitcase” with assorted toys, leashes, and dog food, he knows today will be strictly business as usual.
Tools of the trade for sure, but for Scripko, none of that would matter without Leia, his fastest, and furriest business partner. As such, the 2-year-old Border collie has been trained alongside her master in the Scripko-family pastime of agility training.
Typically, Scripko focuses on being a history major at Rowan University. When his face isn’t sunk into a textbook though, the 19-year-old from Jackson, New Jersey, puts his bond with Leia to the test. A test that she inevitably passed with flying colors; placing 2nd in the Biathlon, and 3rd in the steeplechase at last weekend’s USDAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships in Barto, Pennsylvania. This is no easy task, of course. The amount of big names at the event, and the nerves that were felt, reinforced the idea that it was a significant event for Scripko and Leia’s portfolios.
“There was a lot of pressure, because there were a lot of people that I knew that were kind of like big time. Getting to compete against them was pretty awesome,” Scripko said. “It just makes you want to beat them more, makes you feel good when you place above them.”
Like other sports, dog agility competitions become a lifestyle for their athletes. Scripko himself found his way into the sport through his family. Both of Scripko’s parents, as well as his sister, are all veterans in the sport. Scripko said he has stayed with his mother’s group, Clever Canine, as he’s gone on to compete. From there, Scripko has ran a Belgian Malinois, a Boston terrier, a flat-coated retriever, an Alaskan malamute, and a number of border collies (including Leia).
For Leia, and for any dog specifically-bred for this sport, training begins when the dogs are puppies. From then, the dogs are trained to recognize eye contact, hand movements, foot positioning, and of course, how to take on the intricate courses they are brought to.
As trainer, Scripko had to undergo some training himself, and learned how to mentally and physically prepare himself. It hasn’t been a straight-shot up to where he is now though. Scripko learned early on that dogs are like people, in that they all have their own separate personality. Scripko told a story of how his father’s flat-coated retriever stopped during a competition, and “just kind of wanted a belly rub.” Scripko was about 10-years-old at the time, but since then, he has learned how to work with different dogs.
“This weekend, I was running both my dog, Leia, and my sister’s dog, Flip, and I had to completely change who I was running, like stylistically, in order to accommodate how the dogs’ knew how to run the course. So, it’s very specific to the dog,” Scripko said. “Sometimes, you can mold them to do it the way the handler is, but a good 80 percent of the time is you trying to adjust yourself to how the dog understands it.”
Scripko said that these shows have brought him all around the East coast. He and his family have traveled to venues in places such as Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, as well New Jersey at Logan Township’s Dream Park and Pitman’s Total Turf Experience.
Aside from traveling the country for shows, Scripko and Leia take note to always come prepared. They take them on like any other business meetings, with a method to the madness that keeps the days under control.
Typical Day for a Show Includes
Getting up really early, as some shows are quite far, such as those in Pennsylvania
Making sure you have food, water, toys, and leashes packed for the dog
Once you get to the show, you set up your crate inside of the building
Stay all day for a variable number of courses running at about 30-40 seconds each
Scripko joked, saying it’s funny how he spends so much time preparing for a couple of runs that combine for only about a minute total. He and Leia compete in the 22in division for the standard and jumper classes. In these classes, there is zero margin for error. A dog is expected to be perfect throughout the intricate courses. A dog can lose out on qualifying through refusal to run a course, running the wrong course, or from failure to complete the course; knocking bars or failing to make contact with an obstacle. For these reasons, Scripko has to work his hardest to make sure that he and Leia are in-sync with each other for the entire course.
It takes a dedication to the lifestyle, but for Scripko, his partnership with Leia has paid off because of it. Among Scripko’s accomplishments in the sport include winning the 24in class division with Dash, a Belgian Malinois, at a youth invitational, and placing with Leia in the starter division of the USDAA Title Mania in Geneva, Ohio. Of course the past weekend is one for the books as well, as getting into the top three of any championship is not a small task, much less placing in a regional championship.
Scripko is not a professional, but his schedule is already cram-packed with shows for the rest of the year and beyond. Scripko plans on traveling to Latrobe, PA, for the European Open Agility Team USA Tryouts in December. If he is selected for this team, Scripko would be able to travel to Europe to compete for Team USA. Along with that, Scripko is hoping to qualify for the AKC Nationals in Reno, Nevada, next March. As of now though, Scripko is qualified for the Cynosport World Games in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, this coming October. So, it would be safe to assume that Scripko just might satisfy his wanderlust in the coming months.
“You never think that like, your dog could take you to a country in Europe or around the US to the states,” Scripko said.
Through all of the traveling and competitions he’s been through, Scripko said that he’s definitely grown with the sport. Due to a lack of kids at these shows, Scripko had to learn how to properly conduct himself around adults. Scripko said that the lifestyle made him “grow up a little quicker.” At the same time, he said that he is grateful for how much he has benefitted from the sport, both as a competitor and as a person. Beings that he was brought up into the sport, Scripko was dependent on his parents while growing up. Now, Scripko pays for his own entrance fees and drives himself and Leia to shows.
“Although they did a very good job of raising me, I think this sport of agility really helped raise me as well,” Scripko said.
As he matures with the sport from here, Scripko said that competing with Team USA in Europe is the next step for him. So, his eyes are looking to December to see what could happen.
Of course, that’s nothing too new for Scripko and Leia though.
After all, it’s just business as usual.
For some awesome photos of Scripko and Leia at their run in regionals, check out these by Kelly Bove Photography
Merhaba, ben Richard, siz? Evet, evet! Ben makarna ve peynir yerim, siz? Ben sicak!! Affedersin, nasilsini?
If you’re not too familiar with the Turkish language, the above translates to “Hello, I am Richard, you? Yes, yes! I eat pasta and cheese, you? I am hot!! Sorry, how are you?” Upon first glance, this appears to be the perfect way to let people in Turkey know that you’re an over-caffeinated tourist. Of course, with some refining to the conversation, and if you’re making sense, you could very well see yourself being the master of a foreign language. It wouldn’t be easy, but whether it’s for business, leisure, or maybe even for the sake of friendship, a new language can easily make life a little more interesting.
I’d say it’s gotten interesting for me so far. When I first downloaded the language-education app, “Duolingo,” I wasn’t sure of how long I would last. Like any other millennial, I have to admit that sometimes my attention span can be fairly short. I knew for sure though, that I had a quiet desire to learn Arabic. Luckily, I had a friend who was just as interested as I was in learning a new language. He was already multilingual himself, but he showed me what Duolingo was on his phone. He was in the middle of learning Portugese, Spanish, and Turkish. In the midst of that, I was very intrigued. The app didn’t include Arabic in its language lessons, but that didn’t stop me from downloading the app a few months later. I decided that I would learn Turkish. I have Turkish friends and the language was similar in ways to Arabic. I opened it up and got to see what kind of cool perks Duolingo could offer.
Among the bells and whistles within Duolingo include:
Easy-to-follow tutorials, with recorded pronunciation of words at your fingertips
23 languages to pick from
Different lessons within languages for different purposes, such as basics, adjectives, animals, food, places, etc.
Connectivity through different language clubs to join through the app
When I began my adventure with Duolingo, it was easier than I thought it would be. I was quickly taught simple terms, like “elma” which means “apple” and “ekmek” which means “bread.” Then, after that, I got into genders, with “kiz” and “kadin” and “erkek” and “adam.” These mean “girl”, “woman”, “boy,” and “man,” respectively. These were pretty easy to remember, I mean, all you have to call the person as you saw them. Nothing really too difficult there.
This beginning made sense when I got further into the lesson though, for once I had some nouns to work with, I could now put together simple sentences. This was pretty fun, and soon enough, I was messaging my friends in Turkish to show them how far I was getting. I was so excited to really be grasping a new language. Then, as most things do, the lessons began getting tougher and tougher from there. Not only was I being challenged to put sentences together, I was also challenged to figure out the differences between similar words that essentially mean the same thing.
For instance, there is ic, icer, iceriz, icersin, and icerim. To go along with them, there is ye, yer, yeriz, yersin, and yerim. Believe it or not, these all mean the same thing, but in different contexts. The ic-group refers to drinking, while the ye-group refers to eating. Now, the app runs its lessons on a health meter that runs out a little more every time you get a question wrong. If you couple this with the fact that there is also three different salutations in the Turkish language, you could probably surmise that I lost some of my health meter on terms such as these. Hey, nothing worthwhile is easy anyway, right?
I’ve managed to get pretty far with it, and with every new section of the lesson, the difficulty increases but so does my confidence. You learn down the road why you were told to form sentences. This is because while you may see it as a pain in the beginning, you will be asked to utilize these skills as if they have become second-nature. That’s why it’s good to take the words and terms you use them during your day to day life. You know what they say “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” Luckily, this app allows you to go back to earlier lessons to retake them and refresh yourself. Along with that, every individual lesson within a language includes a test, to further reinforce whatever terms you’re learning.
The app has proved to be an enjoyable and productive way to spend my time during the day. When I really get bored, I can know that I can still better myself by learning a little more of my current lesson. If there was one thing I would wouldn’t mind saying I don’t like about this app, is the fact they added the health meter. Beforehand, I could just take a lesson, and if I got a question wrong, I could just answer it again and be done with it, pain-free. Now, since they added the health meter, I have to consider how much life I have before I answer a question that I am iffy about. If your health meter runs out, you have to wait about three hours before it gets high enough to keep going. This kind of breaks your streak for a little bit. Also, although the app itself is free, you can use real money to buy back health with “gems” which you can buy by themselves with real money. So, it’s kind of annoying when your health runs out, and you’re out of gems. Another grievance I have is simply that there is no Arabic, but I guess that’s a trade-off for all of the other languages.
As of now, I have finally finished the food lesson in the app. These terms may prove useful, of course, but I’m looking at how this adventure is going to benefit me in the long run. Along with Turkish, I have also begun the basics in both Spanish and French. So, I guess I’ll be busy for a little while!
Gorusuruz, hosca kal! Iyi sanslar!
The above translates to “see you, bye! Good luck!” which I do wish you if by chance, you do ever want to try learning a new language someday.
Click here to check out some more Turkish words and phrases.