Campus Benefactors: Simon Guggenheim

My latest article for The Oredigger is up. It’s been several years since I wrote a bona fide article for The Oredigger.

My article this week is about Simon Guggenheim, a campus benefactor. One of the oldest buildings on campus is named after him: Guggenheim Hall.

From media.www.oredigger.net:

After becoming a multimillionaire, Guggenheim moved north to Denver in 1892 and married Olga Hirsh on November 24, 1898, at the iconic Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. To celebrate their marriage, the Guggenheims provided a Thanksgiving dinner to 5,000 poor Manhattan children.

I was also able to get some pretty good photos too, which is the real reason I took the article. I tried a couple of new techniques with balancing the light. First, I adjusted the exposure to just barely clip the highlights (pure white pixels). Then I adjusted the blacks to just barely clip the shadows (pure black pixels). This, in theory, maximizes the contrast ratio of the photo; which is important because photos already have quite a bit less contrast than the human eye does, so we best make use of all of it. Next, I tweaked the fill light to bring out the body of the photo. Some of the photos almost ended up looking sort of HDR-ish I think.

Simon Guggenheim - Color
Nikkor @ 18mm || 1/60 || f/11 || ISO200

Simon Guggenheim
Nikkor @ 18mm || 1/500 || f/3.5 || ISO200

Simon Guggenheim - Color
Nikkor @ 38mm || 1/80 || f/4.2 || ISO200

As always, there are some more pictures over on Flickr: Guggenheim Hall set

Also don’t forget to read the article: Campus Benefactors: Simon Guggenheim


United States Military Upgrades Weapon Reticules

This was in the the Garlic section1 of the February 2nd issue of The Oredigger.

United States Military Upgrades Weapon Reticules

Luther Sloan (AKA Andrew Ferguson)

United States Military officials have announced that new weapons are currently being distributed to military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The new weapons were designed after several soldiers complained that after playing Halo 2, they thought the reticule on their real assault riffles should also light up red when an enemy combatant was in their sights.

Department of Defense officials agreed and fast tracked the technology to get it in the field as soon as possible. Master Chief Andrew Collins, based out of Fort Lewis, Washington, said, “These weapons are awesome! I can practice my skills on Halo when I’m at home, and then use my newly acquired skills in the field. It totally rocks!”

Department of Defense officials are hopeful that the new reticules will help eliminate so-called “friendly-fire” incidents. Some reports estimate that had Bungie released Halo 2 last year, when they originally planned, up to 2/3 of the deaths since then could have been avoided.

In addition to making combat safer, some officials predict the new assault riffles will help keep the United States Military strong by recruiting current Halo fanatics who want the exhilaration of firing the real weapon. And that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

1 The Garlic section is like The Onion. That is, it’s satire.


The Oredigger: Volume 85; Issue 10

For those of you not in the “know,” I am the current News Editor and Webmaster for Colorado School of Mines The Oredigger. I usually try and write at least one article for every issue. This week I was able to write two very good articles. So enjoy what’s going on at CSM:

TheFacebook.com Coming to Mines

Andrew Ferguson

Editors Note: This is part one of a two part article. Part two will follow shortly after CSM’s official release on TheFacebook.com.

In case you have not heard of TheFacebook.com, it’s the latest tool in social networking for college campuses. Chris Houghes, co-founder and “Press Guy” for TheFacebook, describes it as, “an online directory that connects people through social networks at colleges and universities. We wanted students to have control over what information they would like to provide to their peers’ screen names, favorite movies, classes, and friends. Thefacebook [sic] is a resource for both information and communication, but at the same time, is fun to use.”

Already implemented at over 370 schools nation-wide, including CU Boulder, CSU, Colorado State, and DU, Facebook boasts almost 1.75 million users, not bad for only being active for just over a year. Perhaps even more interesting is how fast Facebook is growing. With a quarter million new registered users each month and an additional 50 schools added, it’s only a matter of time before Facebook incorporated into the lives of all 16 million estimated college students. With all their growth, it’s no wonder Facebook has topped almost a billion-and-a-half visitors in the last 30 days. Quinn McGinnis, a Freshman at the University of Washington, estimates he spends about an hour a week on Facebook. However, McGinnis also admits that his time is atypical, with many friends he knows spending in excess of 10 hours a Facebook.

In a recent interview with MSNBC, Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and self-proclaimed Master and Commander/Enemy of the State, briefly talked about the origins of the site, saying, “The idea for the website was motivated by a social need at Harvard to be able to identify people in other residential houses — Harvard is a fairly unfriendly place.” One week later, Facebook was born.

The premise of Facebook is simple, make finding people at your college easy. Once you find them, you can then create social groups, such as “1.50 Hotdogs at Costco” or “Do Better Things Than Watch the OC,” which should be pretty self explanatory. You can also “poke” people, which Facebook describes as a feature with “no specific purpose,” and leave comments on a users “wall.”

Within the last few weeks, rumors about Colorado School of Mines addition to TheFacebook.com have been growing. This may be part to email sent out my Freshmen Class President Spencer Alexander urging all Freshmen to email Facebook for CSM’s addition. Alexander’s reason for adding the Facebook comment in his email echo those of many other students campus wide: my friends are on Facebook and I want to be too!

Fear not, Orediggers! In a recent email correspondence with Houghes, he wrote that “CSM should be added within the next 30 days.”

So, within the next 30 days, you should be able to logon to http://www.thefacebook.com and register your account. Here is what you need to know:

When registering your account, you will need to use your @mines.edu email address. This is the way that Facebook validates the fact that you actually go to Mines. Once you’re registered, you can begin updating your profile. Basic profile information includes your Mines status (student, graduate student, alumni, faculty, or staff), year of graduation, concentration, what on-campus building you live in, birthday, home town, and high school. Extended info delves into more persons areas such as screen name, sexual interests, relationship status, political views, interests, hobbies, and the likes.

Once you begin to find friends, you can begin to leave messages for them, either in their mailbox or on their wall. You can also begin to join groups, such as the aforementioned “1.50 Hotdogs at Costco.”

Part two of this article will cover, in part, student reactions to the Mines addition to Facebook. If you have a comment or question regarding CSM’s Facebook addition, email aferguso@mines.edu.

And now about CSM’s new broadcast club:

CSM Radio in the Works

Andrew Ferguson

Three weeks ago, Justin Regina had a great idea, start a CSM radio station. Within a week, Regina had over a dozen responses. The first meeting was very informal and went something like, “Hi, my name is Justin Regina and I want to start a radio station. What are your thoughts?” Things took off from there.

Two of the attendees immediately offered to broadcast CSM sports. Others offered to help with the technical and managerial aspects. Things were shaping up nicely for Regina’s concept. Then Stephanie Savage, a Mineral Economics graduate student, stepped into the picture and everyone turned to listen to her infinite wisdom. Between 1997 and 2002, Savage actually worked as a radio station DJ and later hosting her own show, “The Hangover Brunch,” on Saturday mornings, which even won a few awards. However, Savage did not work at just any radio station, she work at CU Boulders KUCB-FM, which later became KVCU-AM 1190, just a stones throw away from Mines.

With that, things began rolling, fast. Regina changed the focus from what the group wanted, a radio station, to what the group needed, organization. Regina suggested that the group file for status as the official CSM Radio Club. By forming a club, Regina felt that the station would have a better chance of getting off the ground. In addition to funding provided by ASCSM, a club would also be able to leverage the fact it wasn’t just a fly-by-night concept.

Next, attention turned to what to actually do when the club was finally formed. It would be far to expensive to jump straight into an over the air broadcast, thus the decision was made to start with an Internet-only broadcast. This would allow the club the iron out all the kinks while still having a far-reaching audience. The Internet-station would be run just as an over-the-air station would be, so that when the time did come to go on air, it would be a relatively seamless transition.

Regina has already made contact with several sports’ coaches who have expressed interest in a CSM radio station. Regina has also been in contact with several administrative and technical officials who, while not explicitly agreeing to the project, have indicated interest. Furthermore, Savage believes that it is reasonable that Mines could be broadcasting on the Internet within the year, however, she noted that getting on the air will prove to be a much trickier, and expensive, endeavor.

If you are interested in the CSM Radio Club, please contact Justin Regina: jregina@mines.edu


Recreation and Wellness Center: Campus Development Off To A Good Start

Recreation and Wellness Center: Campus Development Off To A Good Start

Here’s my article for issue 4 of The Oredigger:

Recreation and Wellness Center: Campus Development Off To A Good Start

Andrew Ferguson

The much anticipated Recreation and Wellness Center is in its final phase of conception. The transition from concept to reality began on October 13th when the winning bid for an architecture firm was announced. Sink, Combs and Dethlefs will now work with the school to hire a general contractor who will oversee the construction of the Center. If all goes according to plan, construction will start soon after school lets out in May, beginning with the demolition and relocation of the McBride House, the Minority Engineering Program house, the Outdoor Recreation Center, the Senior Design House, and the old Sigma Kappa house.
There have been some concerns regarding the historic significance of some of the houses,
especially the old Sigma Kappa house. However, Harold Cheuvront, Vice President and Dean of Students, noted that "none of the buildings in the block are classified as historical landmarks nor are they eligible to be." Despite the legal status of the houses, there are still some concerned citizens who would like to preserve some of them. In an effort to accommodate that request, Cheuvront responded that "if the city would move them to a vacant lot owned by the city, we [Colorado School of Mines] would of course be willing to sell them a house for a dollar or something like that."
Construction of the Recreation and Wellness Center will cause a partial closure of Maple Street to vehicular traffic and the complete closure and conversion of 16th Street, between Maple and Elm, into a pedestrian walkway. Approximately twelve short months later, the newly built Recreation and Wellness Center will be finished.
The Center is mostly a response to student demand for more sports oriented activities. Currently, over 85% of CSM students participate in some form of sport; the new Recreation and Wellness Center will expand the range of physical activities and hopefully increase the amount of student participation as well as provide the opportunity for much needed socialization activities.
The Center will include several basketball and volleyball courts, a running track, a
climbing wall, locker rooms, weight/fitness room, racquetball/handball courts, an aerobics
and yoga room, and several offices that will house the Outdoor Recreational Center and
the Intramurals and Club Sports office.
Total cost of the complex, including demolition of the old housing and furnishing of the new
facility will cost around $18 million, $6 million less then originally budgeted. The difference is due to lack of state provided funds; the extra $6 million would have been used for an aquatics facility. However, there are still plans to construct the aquatics portion at a later date and the design of the Recreation and Wellness Center will allow for easy integration between the Center and the pool.




Here’s my article for the third issue of The Oredigger:

The boundary of space is internationally recognized as 100km above Earth. On a clear Monday morning at Mojave Airport, the first FAA license Spaceport, Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne took towards the black sky. This was SpaceShipOne’s second flight within a two week time span that allowed it to capture the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE. According to the X Prize website, xprize.org, the contest is “modeled after Orteig Prize won by 25 year old underdog, [sic] Charles Lindbergh in 1927 for the first non-stop flight between New York and Paris….After Lindbergh’s flight, passenger travel in the U.S. increased 30-fold.” The X Prize is “an international competition that will award a $10 million dollar cash prize to the first team that:

  1. Privately finances, builds and launches a ship
  2. Carries three people 62.5 miles (100km) up into the atmosphere
  3. Makes two successful flights within two weeks (same ship)

There were thirteen different teams from 6 nations. In the last year, only US based Mojave Aerospace Ventures (SpaceShipOne), LLC, and Canada’s DaVinci Project Team were in serious contention. However, on June 21st, 2004, Mojave Aerospace Ventures made it clear they wanted the prize, saying in a press release “[u]nder the command of test pilot Mike Melvill, SpaceShipOne reached a record breaking altitude of 328,491 feet (approximately 62 miles or 100 km), making Melvill the first civilian to fly a spaceship out of the atmosphere and the first private pilot to earn astronaut wings.” Only six days later, Mojave Aerospace Ventures officially gave its 60-day notice for the X Prize, planning their first launch on September 29th, 2004.

In a press release issued shortly after successfully completing the first flight, “At 8:13 this morning PDT, SpaceShipOne (SS1) coasted above the 100 km altitude point and successfully completed the first of two X-Prize flights. The peak altitude reached was 337,500 ft. The motor was shut down when the pilot, Mike Melvill, noted that his altitude predictor exceeded the required 100 km mark. The motor burn lasted 77 seconds – 1 second longer than on the June 21st flight. Melvill was prepared to burn the motor up to 89 seconds, which indicates significant additional performance remains in SS1.”

This leads back to the morning of October 4th. A short press release on the X-Prize website noted: “SpaceShipOne and Mojave Aerospace Ventures, LLC. team reaches over 360,000 feet to win the $10 million ANSARI X PRIZE…Brian Binney, who piloted the flight, was released from it’s mothership White Knight at 50,000 feet early this morning. Binney continued into space breaking the August 22, 1963 record by Joseph A. Walker who flew the X-15 to an unofficial world altitude record of 354,200 feet.” The prize was won.  The future of commercial space flight is finally here.

To learn more about SpaceShipOne, visit

To learn more about the Ansari X Prize, visit

To learn more about the author, Andrew Ferguson, visit


Oredigger; Issue 2

  • Oredigger

We were up until about 2am working on the Oredigger. It was pretty cool. I completed 3 pages, which was 1/4 of this issues pages. I also found out that as News Editor, I get paid! How cool is that? Depending on how well we do, I could get over $500! That’s soo much money! Awesome. Anyways, as always, here’s my article. It’s sort of an unofficial part 2 to my last article. My next one should be on the new Wellness Center.

User security will not be an issue in CSM�s new Blackboard Bb Transaction System (BTS). George Funkey, Manager of Information Services at CSM, made it very clear that Mines is very careful with user data. Colorado School of Mines will be ensuring the security of user data with BTS by using the Windows version, rather then the UNIX version. One of the key differences is the use of encrypted TCP/IP data in the Windows version versus the less secure use of the RS-485 protocol in the UNIX version of BTS. All transaction systems will be encrypted and isolated from the rest of the Mines network. The few non-transaction/non-encrypted systems that do exist will be even further isolated and will certainly be carefully guarded.

Unfortunately, all the services planned for BTS will not be immediately available. Instead, various sections of the system will be successively rolled out as each feature is implemented and tested. Funkey was still able expanded on the way BTS will function when it is eventually all completed.

Each user will be issued a new ID card that contains a barcode, magstripe, and a proximity chip. Users previously assigned CWID number will also be imprinted on the card. To meet ADA requirements, at least one entrance at each building will have a proximity card reader to allow authorized users access after hours. However, most other buildings will use less-expensive magstripe readers to authenticate users at entrances.

The magstripe on the card will also be used to pay for items and services at vending machines, campus laundry mats, the campus bookstore, the C3 store at Mines Park, and several copy machines in the library. The funds will be subtracted from users account just like a debit card. However, unlike a debit card, users will only be able to add money to the card. Only when a user ends their tenor at Mines will they be allowed a one-time withdrawal.

Users will also be able to logon to a secure website and few their transaction history and even add funds to the card from a credit or checking account. Future plans are in the works to expand the usability of the ID card to the Downtown Golden area where users could use the card to pay for items at authorized establishments.

Funkey also indicated that the original mid-November rollout date will likely not be met due to lack of response in a search for a Card Manager. Funkey is hopeful that the card will be rolled out by the second semester, but offered no guarantees, saying, �we’re not going to put it together wrong. And if it takes a few more months, well then, it takes a few more months�but it will make life a lot more convenient for everyone�it handles money, it handles access, it handles a lot of secure things.”


New Student ID Cards

As promised, here is my article for The Oredigger. By the way, I’m now the News Editor:

Later this year, students at the Colorado School of Mines will be privy to a new Student ID Card. The new cards have been an item on Bob Francisco�s mind for the past five years. However, only in the last 30 months has the concept been formally underway. After an eight month review process of several companies, the committee assigned to implementing the new Student ID cards was finally able to settle on Blackboard�s Bb Transaction System (BTS). �The Computer Networking people had their issues, I (Francisco) had my issues, Accounting had their issues�but by the time we got all done, everybody was satisfied; it was a unanimous vote for Blackboard,� Francisco commented in an interview.

With the mid-November rollout date looming, the Student Life Office is far from the finish line. Only the initial ground work has been laid for the new system. Still to be completed is�well, just about everything. The Human Resource Department is currently mounting a search for a new Campus ID Card Program Manager who will be responsible for completing the installation and configuration of the Student ID Card system. After the system is successfully rolled out, the Card Manager will be in charge of daily operations, maintenance, and complaints from students and faculty alike.
Yet, the Bb Transaction System is not without its opponents. John Hall, a software engineer in Santa Monica, California, is one of them. Hall cautions that �The main problem with BTS is that data transmissions between card readers and the central system are relatively insecure. They rely on the physical security of metal conduit around the RS-485 lines, but a quick survey of one BTS-equipped campus revealed a number of places where one could easily gain access to the wiring.� However, Hall also notes that �Campus access card systems are a great ideas� [and] have the potential to be more convenient, secure, and cost effective than the physical alternatives of keys and cash. [O]ther than a general neglect of security, their [Blackboard�s] system works pretty well.� However, someone in the HR Department seems to be on top of that; listed under Job Duties for Campus ID Card Program Manager: �Have familiarity with legal issues for the card and be able to advise departments on legal uses of the card and database.�

For information about applying for the Campus ID Card Program Manager position, contact Human Resources at (303) 273-3250.

For more information on the security issues of the Blackboard Bb Transaction System, visit http://www.overcode.net/~overcode/bb-faq.html

Andrew Ferguson is Freshman originally from Seattle, Washington. He can be contacted at aferguso@mines.edu or on his website andrewferguson.net