Shuttle Schedules Site Upgrades with Text Messaging

Text messaging is no longer just for talking to your friends during class: Now you can figure out when to catch the shuttle back to your room.

Shuttleboy.com, the student-created Web site that has allowed students since 1998 to find shuttle times on a computer, now offers an SMS text messaging function.

Students can message 41411 with the text “sboy” followed by the first three letters of their starting point and their destination. In seconds, they’ll receive a text detailing the next few shuttles they can catch.

For example, a Quad resident looking to get to Mather House would message “sboy qua mat” to find out the time of the next shuttle’s arrival.

David J. Malan ’99, the lecturer who currently leads Computer Science 50, originally developed Shuttleboy while an undergraduate at Harvard, decided to expand the service to text messaging.

“As times and technology have changed over the years, it’s simply been fun to breathe new life into him,” Malan wrote in an e-mailed statement, referring to his pet creation.

This innovation comes on the heels of other technological developments, including an emergency text-messaging alert system put into place this semester in the wake of last spring’s shooting at Virginia Tech. Harvard affiliates can join the alert system by registering their cell phone numbers at the Web site messageme.harvard.edu.

Another development for shuttle users is an LED screen in Cabot House’s dining hall, which displays the departure time and final destination of the next shuttle.

The project, the brainchild of former Cabot House resident Brian S. Gillis ’07-’08, is now run by two resident tutors.

Samuel H. Lipoff ’04 and Thomas J. Barnet-Lamb said they pulled several all-nighters last semester trying to program a computer to send the data to the LED.

“It was as complicated as getting any of my chemistry experiments to work, and I’ve done some pretty complicated chemistry experiments,” said Lipoff, a second-year chemistry doctoral candidate at MIT.

Students welcomed the amenities.

“Any technology that helps to unmask how ridiculous the myth is that the Quad is so very far away is good technology as far as we’re concerned,” said Pforzheimer House Committee Co-Chair Noah A. Rosenblum ’08.

—Staff writer Victoria B. Kabak can be reached at vkabak@fas.harvard.edu.