Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Totomoi & Donutoi

With every new Totomoi induction, we find it helpful to remember what an honor it is to join this fraternity, but we also don't take ourselves too seriously. Read on...

Totomoi: Integrity, Loyalty, Service

Totomoi inducted its first members in 1954. Headmaster Sager and two alumni from the class of ’50 founded Totomoi to recognize juniors, seniors, faculty, and alumni who had shown outstanding leadership in academic achievement, athletics, service to the school, and community service. The honorary fraternity inducts only about 10 members each year.

Perhaps the most distinctive of all MBA traditions, the Totomoi induction ceremony, or tapping, occurs twice a year. A current member winds his way through Assembly, looking for the next inductee. No one but the tapper knows who will be inducted, so the tapper makes his route as circuitous as possible to build suspense. Years ago one tapper even ascended onto the catwalk thirty feet above the crowd. After zeroing in on his target, the tapper identifies the inductee with anything but a “tap.” Often the sound of the “tap” reverberates throughout the entire Davis Building. Voila, the inductee has just joined Totomoi, the most prestigious fraternity on campus.

Donutoi: Glaze, Sugar, Chocolate

In 1998 four student council members (Mike Martin, Michael Higgins, Michael Griffin, and Wilson VornDick (aka Wilson and the Mikes)) identified the need for another honor society on campus: Donutoi. Prior to the founding of Donutoi, school fundraisers sold only plain glazed donuts. The visionary Donutoi founders pioneered the sale of chocolate glazed donuts–a powerful development that would send sweet ripple effects to current and future generations of MBA students. To announce this development, the founding members of Donutoi held a solemn ceremony. In an homage to their older brother society, Totomoi, they presented a chocolate glazed donut to four distinguished (and lucky) boys at Assembly.

Thanks to these two fraternities, MBA is a better place.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Google Glass Review

Google Glass
By Ben Barton '14

Bell Ringer Features Editor

Since its inception about 15 years ago, Google’s mission statement has always been “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” In a famous interview, Eric Shmidt, Google’s president, concluded that after much study, it would take Google approximately 300 years to collect all the information in the world. Google has taken a colossal step towards its mission with the creation of Google Glass.

MBA has recently acquired two pairs of Google Glass. “We saw a great opportunity for students and teachers to experiment with this new technology,” commented Elijah Reynolds, the master and keeper of these devices. “A few teachers have already used Glass to create content for their classes. We also want to use them for virtual campus tours and other marketing purposes.”

MBA applied for the devices through the Google Glass Explorer program and paid $1,500 for each pair. The Glass will eventually be available for checkout, though no process has been decided upon at this time.

I was given the opportunity to try a pair out for the purpose of writing this article, and was extremely impressed. The design and interface is fairly confusing at first and does take some getting used to. The Glass has very few physical “buttons,” only an “on” button and a button that takes a picture. In addition, the side of one of the temples of Glass doubles as a scroller, which one uses like a mouse pad, and and a button where one taps to select. This method and voice recognition are the two main ways one navigates Glass. Glass comes with an earbud extension, and attachable Robocop-esq shades to cover one’s eyes, if the user so chooses.

When I went to turn on glass, the word “GLASS” appeared in front of my right eye for approximately ten seconds. To activate the glasses, you say “OK Glass,” and this brings you to Glass’ main menu, which contains the following options: Google, take a picture, record a video, get directions, message, call, video call, listen and show compass.

I went on to experiment with a couple of these features. The Google feature blew me away. Glass requests a question in its Google feature, so I simply asked, “OK, Glass, what is Montgomery Bell Academy?” After a few seconds, my vision was inundated with a cover flow of pictures of MBA, information about MBA from various linked websites, and its location on a map. I then asked, “OK, Glass, how do I make a sandwich?” I was presented a list of sandwich recipes and cookbooks to navigate, in addition to a few videos of, you guessed it, people making sandwiches. The voice recognition got every word.

The camera function was also fun to play around with. There are three ways to take a picture or video: to say “OK, Glass, take a picture,” to use the camera button, or my personal favorite, to blink slowly, which also causes Glass to take a picture. Videos had the same interface. Through the message function, I could dictate messages to send to contacts. I could also get directions using Glass, which puts the user in what is practically a world turned into an interactive Google Maps.

Still, Google Glass is not yet perfected. Operating system functions are difficult at times. Pictures and video may not be to the quality of higher end cell phones that users already use. In addition, the GPS navigation can be a little slow.

To counter these imperfections, though, Google Glass has the benefit of being a software-intensive device. Google took a page out of Apple’s 2007 playbook by creating a device with few physical buttons, allowing them to have an enormous amount of possibilities for expansion through upgrades.

Google has already proved time and time again that it is one of the most innovative companies in the world, so I expect extremely impressive things to come for Google Glass. Google Glass has the potential to be a curious, multi-tasking student’s best friend.