Over the past two months, fliers advertising Squeller have been posted on bulletin boards all over campus. The first round bore only the silhouette of a large black squirrel and the name Squelller, leaving many wondering what exactly Squeller was.
“I’ve talked to some people who thought it was a psychology experiment because the (fliers) in Olin stayed up the longest,” said Matt Howe, Farmington Hills junior and creator of Squeller. “I (advertised) that way to perk people’s curiosity. I wanted to have people have that ‘Oh—what is a squirrel doing up there?’ response.”
In reality, Squeller is a Web site that Howe hand-coded to serve as a homepage for people on Albion’s campus with a combination of Albion-unique features, a Google search engine and links to Web sites such as the course webs, ACIS, Facebook and Wikipedia.
Ally Norris, Sault Ste. Marie junior, is a registered member of Squeller and has found it really useful.
“It centralizes all social and academic tools that Albion students use and makes a great homepage,” Norris said. “Plus, it’s a wonderful publicity tool for all of the groups I’m in. I also love the fact that it’s only an Albion-exclusive sort of thing.”
According to Howe the idea was born of frustration with the Albion Today.
“I found myself never reading the Albion Today,” Howe said. “It’s irritating to me that you can only see a chunk of the article and then you have to click a link and log in to see the entire article. If want to see another one later on, you have to log in again.”
That frustration, combined with “laziness (in regards to) writing on the sidewalks” lead to a feature on the site known as the Sidewalk.
“It’s basically the Albion Today mixed with advertising with sidewalk chalk mixed with Facebook events,” Howe said.
Howe also put together a directory of useful phone numbers for Albion students, including local restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.
After bouncing ideas off of his friends and family for a month or so, Howe began putting the site together over Christmas break and launched it on March 26.
“I have definitely put in over 500 hours on the site, pushing 600, of work into it,” Howe said.
Harold Connamacher, professor of computer science, said that he appreciates what Howe did.
“I think Matt did a very nice job with the site, and I find using his site to be much simpler when searching for college events than trying to find the events on the Albion College site,” Connamacher said. “I think it is very nice when students discover a need on campus and are proactive in developing solutions that address the need.”
Though Howe said that Squeller is currently in testing as a first-release, the site has been well-received, with 60-some users so far.
“The first day was my biggest day—that was the day I told all of my friends, so about half of (the users) are my friends but the other half are people that have heard about it somehow, and I think that’s really cool.”