New technology connects both students and retailers

For some college students, Friday and Saturday nights just do not provide enough time to go out with friends, meet new people and have some fun. For those types at USF, fellow students have come up with remedies for the problem of what to do. These remedies include two technological marvels: an Internet site created by USF students for USF students and a messaging service marketed for the Bulls.

MoBull Messenger is a free messaging service brought to the Tampa Bay area from USF, according to the MoBull Messenger Web site.

USF’s wireless notification service started approximately two-and-a-half years ago to help students with discounts on and around campus, according to Michele Joel, the marketing manager for the Information Technologies Department. Actual marketing for the messenger began two years ago.

“With tuition and fees increasing the way that they do, we wanted to find a way to give back to the students at USF,” Joel said. “MoBull Messenger allows us to do exactly that.”

According to Joel, MoBull Messenger partnered with retailers and vendors to supply prizes and discounts to students. Such prizes include concert and movie tickets and discounts to places in the Tampa Bay area. Joel added that MoBull Messenger strives to bring culture into USF students’ lives by exposing them to such places as downtown Tampa and the Channelside area.

To sign up for the service, students can either sign up online at the secure site or at designated booths during orientation.

According to university policy, a student is not registered until they receive a confirmation number to their e-mail account and they log back onto the online site. Once a student has signed up and becomes part of the service, they can select what device they would like messages to be sent to. Messages can be sent to e-mail or to a cell phone enabled with text messaging. The MoBull Messenger Web site also states that users can then select the information they want to receive by accepting certain channels that are listed online. Messages can be sent from over 40 sponsors, student organizations and other users

“There is no catch. If a student does not like it, they can delete it with no problem,” Joel said. “The service is really catered to the students’ needs, so we hope everyone can find a way to use it.”

By catering to the students’ needs, Joel means the privacy times that individual users can set on their MoBull Messenger. Students can designate times online that they are unavailable for messages, such as at night, while in class or while at work.

Joel said MoBull Messenger is still in the programming stages because they are always looking for ways to better the service. Joel added that other universities are looking at USF as a demo. Recently, MoBull Messenger has been extended to anyone in the Tampa Bay community. One of the reasons behind this is that family members of USF students may want to stay informed about events and things to do while visiting the Tampa area, Joel said.

“I just downloaded MoBull Messenger onto my phone not too long ago,” said Kristin Cain, a USF student “I like how you have to do absolutely nothing to get discounts just for being a student who signed up for this.”

On the other side of this technological marvel is an Internet Web site branded This Web site was created by a student for students in the USF community. Unlike MoBull Messenger, this Web site is only available to USF students. Once again, signing up on this Web site is free. is just another way of letting students know what is going on any given night of the week and how to meet new people.

The site was created by Alan Samet, a graduate student, and has over 3,000 users.

“I know it is hard sometimes to find social stuff to do and meet people in college while struggling through classes,” Samet said. “That is the specific reason I created this site.”

It has not only thousands of users but also a calendar of events, photo gallery, chat forums, message boards and even a place appropriately named the Hook-Up — for college students to find a love interest. Any user can post messages, suggest chats, write in events and post photos, Samet said.

Samet added that he restricted the site to USF college students only because he wanted students to be able to converse in a group of peers in order to set it apart from other Internet chat rooms.

“I’m just a software architect who decided to make this site and pass out a couple fliers with some friends,” Samet said. “I got lucky and it really took off.”