Category Archives: College Life

From the Field: Electrical Engineering as a Hobby

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Hello, my name is Adam Carlson and I am addicted to learning.

No really, I am, and that is the fun part! Because of my addictions to learning and creating things, engineering and design were a natural fit. If you couple this with a love of aviation, you get an aerospace engineer. Today, I work for GE Aviation designing jet engines, though because I love learning, I did not stop with aerospace engineering. In my free time, I have taken up learning other branches of engineering. I had, for many years, an interest in electronics. Back in about 2010, I was tired of people telling me that what I wanted to do in electronics was not hard, they just did not have time to help me. I asked myself, “How hard can it be?” (Yes, I know that this is a dangerous state of mind when coupled with a desire to learn.) So I set out to learn electrical engineering.

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What in the world inspired this desire to learn electrical engineering, you might ask? Well in a few short
words: RC submarines. You are probably wondering if I am just trying to pull one over on
you, or if they come with working torpedoes. Yes, RC submarines are a real
thing; yes, we do have submarine races (it is not just a euphemism); and yes, some can fire torpedoes.
As I got more involved with the hobby, the more I saw the wonderful, mechanical claptrap that was
used to control many of the systems in the boats. These systems, though, were often unreliable due to
their mechanical nature and operation in hot and humid environments. I could see that these systems
could easily be simplified and improved upon with the addition of electronics.

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It was at this time that I came across SparkFun. It can be hard when you are trying to learn electronics
from scratch. At the time, there were not a lot of resources that were easily available.
Arduino was really just beginning getting legs, and had not yet achieved the recognition it has today.
SparkFun, with its forum, was a great source of learning. Things like, do I use a linear or switching
regulator? Where can I get a box of assorted components without having to pay a large sum of money
and get 100 of everything?

These things may seem like simple questions to most, but to me at the time, they were not simple.
Since then, I have progressed substantially, including becoming the editor of I am currently designing a radio receiver (yes, this has been a very long project)
for RC submarines. In the process I picked up a LimeSDR. These are fantastic devices at a really great
price point. They have many advantages, including covering a very large bandwidth of signal spectrum.
The downside is that it really is just a bare board without the nice finishings of a case. For my
application, I plan to use this as a poor man’s VNA. To do this, I need to get a few u.fl to SMA cables,
and a few bare SMA connectors to make a standards set (I plan to follow this link as a reference). The
case will be 3D printed and lined with metallic tape to give the enclosure shielding properties.

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Why go to all this length to get a VNA up and running? Well, for starters, I had a few hundred dollars that I could spare, but not a few thousand dollars to get a “real” VNA. Second, I am addicted to learning. Third, and this is the actual technical reason, submerged antennas not only are too long once submerged, but they go through a change in impedance. There are very few papers out there that will help calculate this. There is software that could be used, but once again, this type of software tends to be tens of thousands of dollars for a license, and that is hard to justify on a hobby budget. So instead, we will go back to old method of using basic principles to get close to a design solution, then use testing to refine that solution. I will let you know what I come up with once I am done.

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How To Survive College! – Life hacks,

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Essential Life Hacks for Surviving College Life

It’s no secret that college life can be tricky to navigate. Whether you’re a freshman still learning the ropes or an upperclassman well adjusted to the college lifestyle, there are several skills that every collegiette should check off her bucket list before she graduates and ventures out into the real world. To help you get started on this quest for practical knowledge, we’ve compiled a list of nine can’t-miss life skills that will make your day-to-day college experience a little less stressful.

1. Mastering the 20-minute nap

Between early-morning psych lectures, club soccer practice, all-night study sessions and sorority dinners, there are simply not enough hours in the day to fit in a full night’s rest. However, a quick 20-minute nap between classes is a great way to recharge and catch up on some much-needed zzz’s.

“Twenty minutes is the ideal length for a power nap,” says Dr. Michael Breus, a sleep expert. “It reduces the amount of sleep drive, so you wake up feeling refreshed.”

If you’re feeling extra sleep-deprived, Breus advises the 90-minute nap. “The ideal nap [beyond 20 minutes] is actually 90 minutes, because it is the length of a full sleep cycle,” he says. “Anything between 25-90 minutes will just leave you feeling more tired than when you started.”

Not only is there an ideal length for napping, but there is an ideal time of day to nap as well. “The best time [for napping] is at 1:00 in the afternoon,” Breus says. “Your body temperature drops, which releases melatonin and helps your brain fall asleep.”

2. Chugging water to avoid a hangover

While it may be tempting to come straight home and crash after a long night out, your Sunday-morning self will thank you if you rehydrate with a bottle of water before bed.

“When you’re dehydrated, your blood thickens, and this affects the supply of oxygen to the brain,” says Dr. Alexander Mauskop, founder and director of the New York Headache Center. “This can make you feel lightheaded, dizzy and even cause fainting.”

Needless to say, sipping water throughout the night and in between drinks is a great way to avoid dehydration, which is the cause of most headaches the morning after drinking.

3. Balancing a checkbook

Nothing says adulthood like managing your own money, right? While the majority of our generation will manage banking online, learning how to balance a checkbook is the best way to ensure you’re consciously keeping track of your spending and monitoring any deposits or withdrawals you make. Not to mention, if your credit or debit card is ever fraudulently used or double-charged, you’ll have tangible financial records to reference. Keeping a folder for receipts with your checkbook isn’t a bad idea, either.

4. Managing stress with tea

With final exam season coming up, it may not be a bad idea to stock up on hot tea, which boasts a surprising amount of health benefits.

“When I’m frustrated, sad or stressed out, I drink vanilla chamomile tea with honey,” says Ashley McDonald, a senior at Central Michigan University. “Chamomile tea helps you sleep better, boosts your immune system and just relaxes you in general. It definitely lowers my anxiety.

5. Making no-bake cake balls

Because dorm life doesn’t have much to offer when it comes to baking supplies and appliances, no-bake recipes are the easiest way to satisfy your sweet tooth. Follow these easy instructions to make a dozen chocolate-covered cake balls in your dorm!

One pack of Oreos
One container of cream cheese
Two large Hershey’s bars
Crush the Oreos in a resealable plastic bag.
Mix crushed Oreos in a bowl with the cream cheese.
Roll the crushed Oreo/cream cheese mixture into individual balls.
Place Oreo balls in the refrigerator for an hour.
Heat the Hershey’s bars in a microwave-safe bowl to the point where they are melted (but not burnt!).
Dip the refrigerated Oreo balls in the melted chocolate.
While they may not be true “cake” balls, they’re definitely the next best thing!


How Suze Orman SCAMMED Millions from the Poor and Middle Class

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Beware everyone. The Suze Orman Sales Pitch will NOT help you. Watch this video to protect yourself from the predators out there trying to take a young student’s money If you didn’t know any of this was going on, then prepare to watch an eye-opening film. After you watch the video look at the list of celebrity’s that promoted Suze and probably profited too.

The intention of this exposé and the adjunct documentation at (including 2016 updates) is to educate the public, stop Orman’s scams, and to present an abundance of evidence for journalists and government agencies entrusted with protecting the public good to take matters from here and bring forth justice and restitution to victims of Suze Orman’s scams, shams, and shenanigans. (see examples of those victims in this graphic:


Oprah Winfrey, SKDKnickerbocker, Arianna Huffington, Anderson Cooper
Juju Chang, Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg, George Stephanopoulos
John King, Piers Morgan, Ali Velshi, Tavis Smiley, Larry King
FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair, NCLR President Janet Murguia, CNBC, OWN network
Selectquote, Politico, University of Phoenix, Money Navigator Newsletter
Cadillac, “The Talk”, “The View”, Bancorp
Michael Moore, Moira Forbes, Steve Forbes, Jack Welch
Sherry Shepherd, Oprah Show Producer Sherri Salata, Wendy Williams
And Senator Elizabeth Warren

With thanks to those who spoke truth:

Gerri Willis, John Ultzheimer, Chris Cuomo, Greg McBride
Eric Tyson, Clark Howard, Jason Zweig, Newsy
David Halperin. And many other financial journalists and bloggers




Q&A: Rebecca Traister on the ‘Revolutionary Rupture’ From the Rise of Single Women

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Q&A: Rebecca Traister on the ‘Revolutionary Rupture’ From the Rise of Single Women
For women delaying marriage into their 30s, that translated into an earnings benefit of $ 18,000 a year for college-educated women, and $ 4,000 a year for non-college-educated women. Q: It’s clear that companies, the broader economy and the polity now …
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Esemplare '18: Embrace the MOOC

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Esemplare '18: Embrace the MOOC
This sort of dominance cannot be traced back to a single issue, but there is one item on Sanders' agenda that almost certainly appeals to this demographic: college tuition. Sanders' plan to eliminate undergraduate tuition at public universities is …
Read more on The Brown Daily Herald

Strategy Session in a Box: Part One
“For decades, nearly all of America's colleges and universities have moved away from the cultures and intellectual traditions within which they were founded. . . Higher education is becoming increasingly … Make sure everyone contributes insights and …
Read more on Inside Higher Ed (blog)



As schools return from break, scholarship deadlines near

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As schools return from break, scholarship deadlines near
… scholarships through three scholarship programs. Typically, a handful of local students are chosen for the honors. Most notably, the Legacy Awards Scholarship offers $ 1,000 throughout four years of college and is open to high school seniors whose …
Read more on Lompoc Record

Exchange Program Allows South Florida Students to Trade Places
From Mark Twain’s “Prince and the Pauper” to movies like “Trading Places,” the theme of exchanging lives with someone outside your normal sphere of life has always been a source of fascination. Thanks to a novel bit of social engineering, 48 high …
Read more on NBC 6 South Florida

CME, Morningstar CEOs mull financial technology hub
From the place at the Chicago Board of Trade building where pits have now been dismantled, a new enterprise supporting “fintech” may rise. A powerful pack of business leaders, … “Our overall thing here is we want to do what is in the best interests …
Read more on Crain’s Chicago Business


Colleges experiment with application alternatives

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Colleges experiment with application alternatives
At the National Association for College Admission Counseling conference in October, I attended a session where admissions officers from several colleges talked about new approaches they are using in applications. While many colleges use application …
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Mike Rowe Calls Out Bernie Sanders for Suggesting The Only Alternative to
… on the knuckleheads who continue to perpetuate this nonsense,” he wrote. “This latest tweet from Bernie Sanders is a prime example. In less than 140 characters, he's managed to imply that a path to prison is the most likely alternative to a path to …
Read more on Town Hall

Pro-LGBT statements OK on high school T-shirts, but not anti-LGBT statements
It's worth looking at that 2006 opinion from the 9th Circuit (which issued another ruling this week squelching college students' speech). Keep in mind … An assistant principal who went to Bible studies led by Harper's father tried to convince the …
Read more on The College Fix