Technicalities

SPIN CYCLE. One of the positive side effects of college students doing laundry has been that they tended to get a little work done. Sitting around a laundry room waiting for loads in a washer or dryer ' or waiting for an available machine ' left one with little else to do but read some assigned chapters, work on math problems or get started on writing a paper. Students at Dickinson College and other institutions of higher learning don't have that problem anymore. Students at Dickinson, for example, can go online to check if a machine is open in their dorm laundry rooms and, after getting a load under way, get text messages when it's finished. The system, called eSuds, is used at quite a number of colleges and universities, including Rutgers, Temple, Case Western Reserve and George Mason, according to a quick perusal of eSuds.net. One afternoon last week, for instance, you could see that all but one of the washers and dryers at Brett Hall of Rutgers' College Avenue Campus was available ' dryer No. 5 had 23 minutes remaining. It's a handy thing for students, no doubt. But we're not sure giving them more free time will necessarily increase student efficiency. There's nothing like being trapped with nothing else to do for getting some studying done.

HOUSE CALL. A biennial study by the National Cancer Institute reflects an overall trend, with the Internet an increasingly important source of health information and a growing medium for communicating with health care providers. The survey found regular use of online sources for information, and the number of people using e-mail to ask questions or make appointments with their providers grew from 7 percent in 2003 to 10 percent in 2005.

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