Holiday Hunger Games: Staying Smart Amidst Black Friday Madness

Black Friday is a widespread corporate strategy to increase sales going into the Holiday season (“black” comes from the term for positive sales figures). Every year, on the day following Thanksgiving, stores make huge markdowns on much of their stock. However, the horror stories that surround the war zone that is Black Friday make it seem as though the only way to win is not to play.

You can come out on top and unscathed if you arm yourself with good practices. Shopping smart can mitigate potential trauma and help you navigate a seemingly endless sea of deals. At Scholar Hero, we are firm believers in minimizing stress and having productive endeavors, even when shopping. So, for those trying to furnish their dorm, upgrade their phone, or bring the complete theatre experience of watching The Hobbit into their home home, we have some tips on intelligent shopping.

1) Shop Online

The advent of the internet has ensured that web servers take the abuse and not you. Most Black Friday sales that are available in-store are also available online. All big name stores will offer attractive sales so keep an eye on their ads.

  • – When purchasing electronics, Best Buy will live up to their namesake during Black Friday. Better still, their deals are available right now.

  • – With no brick or mortar stores, Overstock can offer great prices on just about anything.

  • – While not a traditional store, do not forget about Amazon. Keep an eye on their daily and hourly deals.

  • For a complete roundup of Black Friday ads and updates, visit

2) Budget

Black Friday is a great way to land the things you want for a price that you can afford. However, this point is made moot if you spend too much on items that you do not need.

  • Money – Determine what things you intend to buy before you do your shopping and stick to it, no matter what other bargains arise.

  • Time – Remember that time is a resource, too. Is it worth eight hours of your day to catch a specific deal? Create a time allowance for all of your purchases.

  • Health – We only have so much calmness, energy, and emotional well-being to give.  Do not overtax yourself. Take breaks. Get plenty of rest. Keep in mind that your health is more important than a new computer monitor (after all, you can live without the monitor).

3) If You Have To Go Out…

  • Does the store price match? You might not have to visit several location to get the best deal.

  • Park far from the store. Do not get gridlocked by the less savvy comers and goers.

  • Go early. There will always be a rush but there will not always be stock available.

Good luck. Be Smart. Be safe.

  Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.

The Freshman and the First Year: Tips For A Fulfilling Finish

Like all of Aesop’s fables, The Crown and the Pitcher uses few words to teach infinitely applicable lessons. It’s also a fantastic metaphor for succeeding in higher education. For those unfamiliar, the fable can be read here. Simply put, it is the story of a thirsty crow that drops small stones into a pitcher until the water is high enough to drink. The water is his reward for intellect and diligence in the same way that a successful college year is reward to first-year students. Here are four stones that a struggling freshman can use to fill their own pitchers in the coming weeks:


Devise a system that works for you and organize as much of your life as you can. Having a well-planned schedule can lower stress, improve performance, and keep your life within your control.


A healthy lifestyle is a key component in combating stress. Too often do students make room for their studies by neglecting other important factors of their life. Sleep well, keep a balanced diet, and exercise often. While these might seem to take up time, in the end they’ll improve your mood and keep you mentally sharp.


There is an entire university that is as close to your fingertips as your computer. Use it. Between libraries, writing centers, and office hours, nothing should be able to escape your understanding.


Get involved. Whether it is making friends, joining organizations, or engaging others in the classroom, a good community can be the support system needed to maintain health, happiness, and motivation through your first semester.

 Casting these stones into your pitcher can help you survive your first year in higher education. Do you have any other pebbles of advice? Drop them into the comments below.

 Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.

Scholar Hero is accepted into the Idea Foundry’s Entertainment & Ed Tech Accelerator Program!


(from left) Technical Director Michael Butler, Founder and Executive Director Lee Ngo, and Idea Foundry Program Manager Gary Gardiner

Amazing news for Scholar Hero! On November 5th, 2013, we have accepted our invitation to join the Idea Foundry’s Entertainment & Ed Tech Accelerator Program! The Idea Foundry ( is one of Pittsburgh’s premiere technological and business startup accelerator programs in southwestern Pennsylvania. Their Entertainment & Ed Tech program is unparalleled in the region, and it is perfect for Scholar Hero’s current aspirations.

For Scholar Hero, this is a terrific milestone. This program provides the company with its first official investment, just nine months after its incorporation and barely a year after its initial conception during Startup Weekend Pittsburgh #2. The Idea Foundry also provides mentoring, advisement, and other standard resources that come with a prestigious, competitive accelerator. We haven’t been this excited since being selected as part of the inaugural class of the Thrill Mill Hustle Den incubator program!

Scholar Hero founder Lee Ngo pitching at Google Pittsburgh for the Thrill Mill Thrival Innovation series.

Scholar Hero founder Lee Ngo pitching at Google Pittsburgh during Thrill Mill’s Innovation Series.

Another great perk about the Idea Foundry is its close proximity to Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, schools with students, professors, and staff that we hope will be among the first early adopters of our platform. Testing and validating our product could not be made any easier for us now, and we hope that more established partnerships might emerge as well from the improved locations.

Moreover, because of our acceptance into the Entertainment & Ed Tech Accelerator Program, we are also being evaluated early for Idea Foundry’s highly competitive Core Program as well. Potentially, this puts us in a position to receive more funding! (One step at a time…)

The Scholar Hero Development Team hard at work on our first prototype.

The Scholar Hero Development Team hard at work on our first prototype.

“We are truly ecstatic and grateful to have the support of the Idea Foundry as we continue to develop our platform and build our potential user base,” says Lee Ngo, founder and executive director of Scholar Hero. “Program Manager Gary Gardiner and the Idea Foundry have provided us with wonderful feedback over the course of the year, and they have been a major influence in our overall conceptual, technical, and business development. We look forward to our continued partnership over the next three months and beyond.”

We hope that this is the first of many future successes to come! Our selection into this renowned accelerator program provides further validation for our unique and innovative concept, but now the pressure is on for us to deliver! We hope to do you proud, Idea Foundry!

To learn more about Scholar Hero, visit or fill out the contact form below:

Lee Ngo is the founder and executive director of Scholar Hero, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Mathematics of Music: Tool’s Lateralus

Music is equal parts art and mathematics; however, some bands take this relationship to an extremely fascinating depth. Tool’s 2001 album, Lateralus, deals heavily with metaphysical themes built upon mathematical structures, such as the Fibonacci Sequence.

The Fibonacci Sequence

        The Fibonacci Sequence is a numerical pattern in which each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers. As an equation, it is expressed as Fn=F(n-1)+F(n-2), and it looks like this: 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13… It is a sequence that has become particularly interesting due to its recurring presence in computer programming, nature, and in this case, music.

Fibonacci Fractal. (Source: Anders Sandberg

The Golden Spiral

The titular track on Lateralus contains the most prevalent use of the Fibonacci Sequence. For one, it alternates between three unusual meters (9/8, 8/8, and 7/7) that together comprise the sixteenth number in the sequence (987).

More convincing is the vocal pattern of the lead singer during the first verse. The syllables in each line are sung as follows: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 5, 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 8, 5, 3. These ascending and descending sequences tie thematically to the “spirals” mentioned later in the lyrics by mimicking “The Golden Spiral”—a special shape that expands infinitely by a constant factor and it is the very factor the Fibonacci sequence presents.

The Golden Spiral. (Source: Helen Stevens

“The Holy Gift”

        To go a step farther and incorporate the whole album into this theory, fans have rearranged the order of the tracks on the album into a similarly shaped sequence. The key to the order was placing track 13 in the middle and arranging the other tracks in additive pairs on either side. The songs  are said to match up with each other in a more sensible way, and makes for the “proper” order.

        Unconvinced? Here is a video, with song accompaniment, that makes a more in depth argument: 


Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.