Free advice and the Free Stuff Awards

by Matthew M. Lug - Newspeak Staff

Once again, I will be starting this article with something about last week's article. Some of the more perceptive readers out there may have noticed that my name was printed as "Matthew M. Luggo" in my article. I did not do this, it was one of those little things that the layout people change around for their own amusement, and then change back when they're done, except this one obviously didn't get changed back. Don't worry though, those responsible have been flogged mercilessly by Newspeak's CFO (Chief Flogging Officer).

Next, I want to address a serious issue before I begin my usual delusional ramblings. The topic of mailing list abuse seems to be appearing quite a bit these days. It seems that every once in a while, someone will send something stupid to a few hundred or a few thousand people, and then a few more people will complain about it, or the other people who complained, and it results in several thousand messages being unnecessarily forced through the mail server. I'm sure this is the main reason why many mailing lists (including the wpi_students mailing list) have been moved to that BBoard thing. With the events system down as well (also due to misuse, strangely enough), WPI no longer has an efficient method of informing the majority of students of something in a short amount of time, as Greg Snow explained in his article last week. Prof. Orr made a wise decision by not moving the ECE major mailing lists to that asylum of inefficiency that is the BBoard, but recent abuse involving a stupid joke has caused him to decide to personally moderate those mailing lists. I'm glad at least one person in a position of power understands the need to be able to get a message to a large group of people quickly, but it is unfortunate that some people do not understand how to properly use these powerful resources. I would think that something as important as mailing list abuse, which can slow down or cripple a mail server and cause an abuser to gain a spot on the suspended accounts list, would be discussed during orientation, but maybe they don't cover that until after people figure out that they don't really have to do most of the orientation stuff. Since most of the abuse is due to ignorance and stupidity, I'm going to give you some advice on how to use mailing lists, and stuff like them. Please show this to other people, I'm quite sure that not everyone at this school reads my articles.

If you feel like sending some joke, insult, random comment, or a reply that only concerns one person or a small group of people to lots of people you don't know, and who probably wouldn't like what you want to send, then don't send it to everyone. You'll only make people angry, and then those people will send everyone else messages insulting you, other people will do the same with messages telling everyone to stop replying to everyone and not just the sender, and finally people will do the same as everyone else with messages asking to be removed from the mailing list. That's at least 4 messages, and all of them end up getting sent to everyone on the original list(s). The bigger the initial mailing, the larger the secondary response, etc., etc. If you don't believe me, just ask anyone who was here last year, or any EE major who was here this month. The immortal (at least in terms of UNIX) aej (aka Allan E. Johannesen), gives this advice: "If one receives something undesirable, just delete it, do not contribute to the noise." There, that concludes the educational portion of my article. Stay tuned for the useless portion, after this little break, conveniently placed so you can make a trip to the bathroom, grab some food, and forget about what you were doing before the break.


Some of you may have noticed that parking here was a little bit more difficult last Wednesday than usual. This was due to the annual Career Fair (aka Free Stuff Grabbing Spree) that took place last Wednesday afternoon. Many people got dressed up, printed up a few dozen copies of their resume, and had long boring conversations with casually dressed representatives of many different companies. I just threw on a pair of jeans and that Newspeak shirt they gave me the night before, and went in search of free stuff. In the process I ended up talking to several people, but no resumes changed hands during those conversations. Instead, I ended up leaving each table with more than I came with, and in the end a lot more than I came with. So much in fact, that I came up with some awards for the companies with the best free stuff. These awards say nothing about the companies, but they can be used to demonstrate the diversity of products that you missed out on if you were scared away by all the suits, or if you didn't wake up until 5:15pm. There were some new trends this year, like mousepads and yo-yos (watch out with the Digital ones, they seem to have had a quality control problem), as well as some dying trends, like message boards. Some things are always there, like pens and pencils, and some were there more than before, like highlighters and flashlights. And now, the awards:

The Awards...

Best Pencil
Winner: Lockheed Martin, for their large, white mechanical pencils with gold trim. They had these last year, but I still like them.
Runner Up: Texas Instruments, for their wooden pencils with the ends bent into the shape of the state of Texas. They look nice, but the erasers are rather useless until you break them off.

Best Pen
Winner: MCI, for their black, gold-trimmed pens with metal casings and spring-loaded clips. These are just nice pens, I wish I had gotten more.
Runner Up: Brooktrout Technology, for their blue, gold-trimmed pens that are of the same design as the Lockheed Martin pencils.

Best Highlighter
Winner: United Technologies, for their three highlighter set inside a triangular case. This was very unique.
Runner Up: Mitre, for their flat triangular triple highlighter, which is thicker and easier to hold than others like it.

Best Mousepad
Winner: Vicor, for their large mousepads with a humorous Noah's Ark scene.
Runner Up: Lockheed Martin, for their colorful mousepad with neat drawings on them.

Best Flashlight
Winner: Hamilton Standard, for their small, yet powerful squeeze lights.
Runner Up: Lockheed Martin, for their small, yet not quite as powerful flashlights.

Best Key Chain
Winner: Lotus, for their thin combination bottle opener/knife/corkscrew key chains.
Runner Up: Simplex, for their heavy, red, metal, useless key chains. Those of you who were in Riley last Tuesday night got a free demonstration of their other products.

Best Puzzle
Winner: APC, for their 3-color puzzle ball things.
Runner Up: AMS, for their 2-color puzzle ball things (if you have an extra one of these that you're willing to part with, let me know, I could use another). There wasn't much competition in this category this year.

Best Beverage Container
Winner: Fidelity Investments, for their plastic coffee mugs that came complete with a packet of coffee.
Runner Up: Stratus, for their water bottles.

Most Useful
Winner: Becton Dickinson, for their Ace bandages. I forgot to bring some with me this year, I guess I didn't need to bring any after all.

Most Overpackaged
Winner: IBM, for their brochure on 3 floppy disks, wrapped in an oversized, shrink-wrapped box. Perhaps putting it on a CD would have been a better idea...

Honorable Mentions
C.W. Costello & Associates, for their mini tool sets.
Sabre, for their keyboard wrist rests.
Xyplex, for their CD wallets.

Best Stuff That I couldn't Tell Was Free
Winner: Becton Dickinson, they had a lot of stuff on their table, I guess most of it was free, but I couldn't tell at the time.

Best Stuff That Wasn't Supposed To Be Free
Winner: Quantum, for all those hard drives they had scattered on their table. I didn't actually take any, but it probably wouldn't have been that difficult...

Newspeak Editors' Choice
Winner: Becton Dickinson, for their digital thermometers. If you're wondering why this didn't win any of my awards, look back two categories.

Best Overall
Winner: Lockheed Martin, they had a nice assortment of stuff, which should be obvious from their awards.

Best Overall Office Supply Assortment
Winner: Air Products, they didn't have anything really exciting, but they did have good pens, erasers, highlighters, flashlights, sticky note pads, and plastic bags. The representative I spoke to seemed to think that something a little more unique would be better, but I liked what they had.

Worst Overall
Winner: Microsoft. While most company representatives gave away their free stuff just so they wouldn't have to carry it out at the end, the Microsoft representatives demanded a resume in exchange for one of their spiderballs, which they had last year anyway. They didn't have anything else, unlike last year when they had an assortment of items. Another example of progress I guess.

Well, that's it, I'm out of awards. There were other things there too, but most of them either weren't interesting, or didn't have enough competition to qualify for a separate category. If you saw something interesting that I didn't mention, then I probably didn't get one. If you actually spent money on something that you could have gotten for free, well, that's your problem. You'll have another chance next year, so now you know what you don't need to bring with you beforehand (pens, pencils, etc., you get the idea...). And yes, my articles do seem to be getting longer. That's because I'm trying to take over all the space in Newspeak, so I can charge for advertising. Whatever I can't crowd out, I'll just take over. Look for me in Police Log next week.

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