Thursday, December 18, 2014

Server Installation and Downtime 1/9 - 1/10

ITS Infrastructure staff will be replacing several major servers beginning at 5:00 PM on Friday January 9.  Our crew will work through the night, and the new equipment is expected to be up and running by 12:00 noon on Saturday January 10.  The current servers are five years old, and we risk unscheduled service interruptions if we do not replace them soon.

Some networked services will not be touched, and should continue functioning normally. These include Internet access, email, portions of the Macalester Web site, Slate and CBORD card services.

Please expect that all other networked services will be inaccessible while this project is going on. Services that definitely will be impacted include Banner, network storage space (your G: and H: drives), 1600grand, and Moodle. Portions of the Macalester Website will remain available including the home page, top-level sections pages, and admissions/financial aid pages. Most department and office Websites, as well as personal Web pages, will not be accessible during the system maintenance.

We realize there is never a good time to interrupt critical network services.  That said, we have chosen a time when disruption should be minimal.  The payoff will be newer, reliable equipment to meet your needs.  If you have questions, please call the ITS Help Desk at (651) 696-6525.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Google Updates Biweekly Post


Publication Date: December 10, 2014

Google Apps

Updates to core Google Apps and the major services like Google+. Also major updates that may affect the Macalester community.


The SPARKLINE function in Google Sheets creates a miniature chart contained within a single cell.


New versions of the Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps for iOS are now available in the App Store.


With the improved experience provided by the instant results search feature, Google has decided to remove Apps Search. Too bad. It is one of my faves. :-(


December 9, 2014: The web version of Google Calendar will see some minor terminology changes today when 'Reminders' become 'Notifications,' 'Privacy becomes Visibility,' and Privacy level ‘Default’ becomes ‘Calendar Default’.


Google knows that some of you work with Office files regularly, so they are adding conversion support in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for 15 new Office file formats.


In Gmail, with a single click on the pencil icon in the attachment card, you can now convert any Office files sent as attachments to Docs, Sheets, or Slides. 
Add slide numbers to presentations, providing a reference guide for both presenters and audiences.


Adjust the color, transparency, brightness, and contrast of images in Google Docs on the Web.


Merge the cells of a table in Google Docs. Merged table cells can span more than one row and/or column.


Turn Chrome’s omnibox into a search engine for Drive, email, and more!

Google Technology

News about other Google products and technology.


Google’s new partner program is simple in design, having just three tracks, each designed to address specific customer needs (partners can join multiple tracks).

Google Business

Google Business news, including policies, user privacy, politics and legal issues.


reCAPTCHA protects the Websites you love from spam and abuse.


Google has developed an internal Web application security scanning tool, codenamed Inquisition (as no bug expects it!).


European privacy regulators gathered to discuss the growing public outcry over how governments and tech giants gather and use people’s data.


George Osborne, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, proposed a new 25 percent tax on the local profits of some international companies, including tech giants like Google.

Google Extra

Other Google side projects, including art, science and fun stuff.


Matt Chaban’s Appraisal column explained how photos of the normally restricted Gramercy Park in New York City ended up on Google Street View. Added bonus: Chaban’s from Pittsburgh!


In celebration of the people, memes and moments that made up an epic year, more than 100 YouTube creators gathered together for our annual Rewind video: a giant, global mashup looking back at the best of 2014 on YouTube.


Starting today on madewithcode.com, girls can use the introductory programming language Blockly to animate the lights of the state and territory trees that will decorate President’s Park, one of America’s 401 national parks and home to the White House, through the holiday season.


December may mean snow days in Denver, Colo. or beach days in Sydney, Australia, but in Santa’s Village, it means the countdown to Santa’s big night.


Google asked these Minnesotans to share how their work together--and how their own teachers--inspired their love of learning and teaching.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

DegreeWorks Upgrade 12/12 - 12/13

The DegreeWorks system will be up and down intermittently starting at 4:30 PM Friday December 12, so that we may conduct a scheduled upgrade.  The upgrade should be complete, and DegreeWorks fully accessible, by 12:00 noon Saturday December 13.  If you have questions, please email Addy Free at free@macalester.edu

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Students, Are Your Files Backed Up? They Should Be!


Fall semester ends soon, and you're working on capstone projects, term papers, presentations, your résumé and other critical data.  Is it all stored in one place? Along with your pictures, movies and music? What will you do if that computer gets stolen, dropped, lost or destroyed by a spilled drink (besides curse and cry?).

Back up your data. You'll be glad you did. There are multiple ways to do this:
  • Macalester's Google Drive has unlimited storage space! Go to Create > Upload folder to easily back up your files.
  • External hard drives are not expensive. Buy one. Use it.   
  • Flash drives are even cheaper. Buy two. Use both.
  • Use CrashPlan (for Windows and Mac OS) or Time Machine (for Mac OS only) to automatically back up your data to an external hard drive.
  • Check out cloud storage solutions, like CrashPlan+.   
For tips and assistance in backing up your data, check out the Back Up Information. Contact the ITS Help Desk at 651-696-6525 or helpdesk@macalester.edu for assistance. Play it safe, and you won't be sorry.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Google Updates Biweekly Post


Publication Date: November 26, 2014

Google Apps

Updates to core Google Apps and the major services like Google+. Also major updates that may affect the Macalester community.



To make it easier to collaborate during Hangouts video calls, Google has enabled the sharing of links to any Drive file directly from the chat window.


Coming soon: When you create a bookmark, you can select an image and add a note or snippet to help you find that bookmark more quickly later. Google will also suggest a folder if it seems like it could be a fit.


A new extension for Chrome that lets you open files from Google Drive directly into a compatible application installed on your computer.


Google is adding a “mobile-friendly” label to our mobile search results.


Android: Reminders for your half-baked plans.


Are you using Google Drive to store video files? Here’s a really cool tip that lets you add subtitles.

Google Technology

News about other Google products and technology.



As a bonus for the holiday season, new Chromebook buyers can get 1TB of Google Drive storage for two years — almost $240 in value — absolutely free. (Redeem the offer by January 31, 2015.)

Google Business

Google Business news, including policies, user privacy, politics and legal issues.



The page shows a comprehensive view of all devices that have been active on an account in the last 28 days, or are currently signed in.


This coming weekend, expect to see many of your fellow shoppers checking for deals on their smartphones while braving the lines and crowds at the mall.


Google announced that it has bought the company and its LiftWare spoon, a surprisingly sophisticated piece of table-tech that steadies itself even in a violently shaking hand.


Certain retro toys are making a comeback this season. Thanks to the new movie “Ouija,” searches for “Ouija boards” are up 300% since October.


Legislators at the European Parliament who have long sought tough antitrust action against Google called on Friday for a resolution suggesting that Google be broken up into separate companies.

Google Extra

Other Google side projects, including art, science and fun stuff.



In time for the epic conclusion to the Hobbit trilogy, Google has updated the Chrome Experiment “A Journey Through Middle-earth.”


Tip of the week: Bored on the bus or subway? Just say “OK Google, flip a coin.” What do you have to lose?


So, Google Maps looked at Thanksgiving traffic conditions over the last two years for 21 cities across the U.S. to find the most useful information to make your holiday trip a little easier.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Degree Works Upgrade 11/30

We will be performing a planned upgrade to the Degree Works system this coming Sunday, November 30.  Degree Works will be inaccessible from 4:00 to 8:00 PM.  If you have questions, please contact Tim Friemann at 651-696-6879.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Google Apps: Forms, Sheets, and Drive get new look along with new features

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Check it out. Google Drive, Forms, and Sheets have new features and new looks. Google will automatically upgrade your existing Forms and Sheets to the new versions. Once upgraded, you will no longer be able to revert to the old versions. Give the new Google Drive experience a try! Starting in early 2015, Google will automatically switch your Drive to the new look.  You may opt out of the new Drive briefly before the new interface is permanent.

Old Forms upgrade started on Nov 19, 2014

Go to Recent in Drive and you may notice that Forms appears at the top of the list. Google has started migrating existing Forms to the new interface. Following soon will be the auto-upgrading of legacy themes to allow for customization and a better mobile experience moving forward. After the theme upgrade, some text and colors from older Forms may not show up properly, so plan accordingly and take a look at any existing Forms.

Migration of Forms info (help page)

Old Sheets migration starts Jan 12, 2015

Auto-migration of older spreadsheets (those created prior to Dec 2013, including any subsequent copies) to the new version of Google Sheets starts soon. New sheets have a green circle with a checkmark located at the bottom. 


New Google Drive becomes default starting Jan 13, 2015

Since the launch of the new Google Drive in June, the new experience has been opt-in, allowing people to try out and become accustomed to it. Starting in 2015, the new Drive will be the default experience, while retaining the option to return to the old Drive (via the Settings drop down). In the future, Google will remove the option to return to the old Drive.


Questions?

ITS Help Desk 
651-696-6525

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Phishing Scams: Don't Be A Sucker

This is a sucker.  Don't be one.
P. T. Barnum may not have said "There's a sucker born every minute," but he made bank proving it was true.  'Phishing' scams try to fool you into revealing your passwords, granting access to your computer or giving away personal information such as your credit card number.  Such scams may look like legitimate email messages from your bank, from governmental agencies and even from ITS - but by the time you start to wonder, it's too late.  Here are some ways to spot phishing scams:
*Who sent it?  Look at the sender's address.  Banks don't send official correspondence from personal gmail accounts.  Governments don't send notices from K12 accounts.  If the name looks odd or generic ('System,' 'Web Team,' etc.), be suspicious.  Any message from within Macalester will be signed with a name you can find in the Directory (http://www.macalester.edu/directory). 

*Who was it sent to?  Sure, you got it in your Inbox, but what's in the To: field? Is it empty, or does it contain many addresses besides yours? Any message sent by a reputable source should have only your name, or go to a large official distribution list you recognize.

*What does the sender want?  No legitimate organization or firm will ask you to divulge personal information (birth dates, account numbers or passwords) in an email message.  This is a dead giveaway.  The same is true if you see links to follow to "verify your account" or "confirm your membership."  Never divulge such information, and don't follow such links!

*How was it written?  Extensive misspellings, incorrect punctuation, bad grammar and confusing technobabble are all hallmarks of scams.  So is the (empty) threat that you'll "lose privileges" or have your account closed if you don't comply.  Macalester ITS staff take pains to write clearly when we communicate with you.

Don't be a sucker. If you ever get an email that looks suspicious, let ITS know about it and we'll help you determine whether it's legitimate.  For assistance, contact the ITS Help Desk at helpdesk@macalester.edu or 651-696-6525.  You can learn more about this kind of scam on our Web pages, starting at http://www.macalester.edu/its/safecomputing/email-safety/

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Google Updates Biweekly Post

Publication Date: November 12, 2014

Google Updates Biweekly Post

Google Apps

Updates to core Google Apps and the major services like Google+. Also major updates that may affect the Macalester community.


The new UI will become the default experience starting January 13, 2015, while retaining the option to return to the old Drive UI via the Settings drop down. In the future, Google will remove the option to return to the old Drive UI.


The auto-migration of older spreadsheets (those created prior to December 2013, including any subsequent copies) to the new version of Google Sheets will start December 12, 2014. No action is required as a result of the migration.


Google is launching a new extension for Chrome that lets you open files from Google Drive directly into a compatible application installed on your computer.


You’ll continue to see more Google products adopting these new design principles across platforms in the coming months.


A new version of the Google Drive iOS app, optimized for iOS 8, is now available in the App Store. The app includes some new security and convenience features.


With the new update to the Google Translate Chrome extension, you can translate just that piece of text, without worrying about the rest of the page.


The Gmail app for Android is getting updated with a more modern style, sleeker transitions, and a few other handy improvements.


It’s designed to be a helpful assistant, so you can spend less time managing your day, and more time enjoying it. (And yes, Google is also working on a version for iPhone!)


Awesome.


dashOne demonstrates how to automatically generate HTML infographic-style reports from spreadsheet data.

Google Business

Google Business news, including policies, user privacy, politics and legal issues.


This week, Google is releasing a study of another kind of threat they’ve dubbed “manual hijacking,” in which professional attackers spend considerable time exploiting a single victim’s account, often causing financial losses.


As the old saying goes, “News is something somebody wants to suppress. All the rest is advertising.”


The US Government can signal a new attitude when representatives of the European Commission visit Washington DC on November 13, 2014.


Read the refreshed How Google Fights Piracy report.


Companies like Facebook and Google have stayed away from mobilizing their users to support an issue that primarily affects smaller Internet upstarts.

Google Extra

Other Google side projects, including art, science and fun stuff.


Google Doodle: November 9, 2014


Google Doodle: November 11, 2014


On November 18, 2014: One prompt, one Doc, one hour. Three talented writers. And the tale unfolds from there...


As enticing as the prospect of free heat and hot water for your home is, there are a few caveats.


“Who won Pennsylvania?” “Who’s that guy?” “He’s getting married?” These are just a few of the questions that wracked people’s brains on search this week.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New Apple OS, 'Yosemite'

Apple has just released a new version of OS X, 10.10, named Yosemite. Yosemite is available as a free download from Apple's App Store. If you decide to upgrade your Apple computer(s) to Yosemite, we strongly recommend that you back up all of your data first.  Be aware that the installation time can take much longer than reported - up to 2 hours. If you have questions or concerns about Yosemite, please contact the ITS Help Desk at helpdesk@macalester.edu or 651-696-6525.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Google Updates Biweekly Post


Publication Date: October 15, 2014

Google Apps

Updates to core Google Apps and the major services like Google+. Also major updates that may affect the Macalester community.


Starting November 3, 2014, Google will begin auto-upgrading all legacy forms created in the old version of Google Forms (those created prior to February 2013) to the new version.


A new feature that allows people using Google+ to create interactive polls and share them with their friends and followers.


This is a new and improved version of spell check compared to what existed in the old Sheets.


People working with images in Google Slides on the web will now have the ability to adjust their color, transparency, brightness, and contrast.


Adjust the opacity, brightness, and contrast of an image, or recolor it to match the theme of your presentation.


Google Technology

News about other Google products and technology.


Google wants all Android phones to include more of its services.


Google is launching five improvements to Classroom.


The app is available for Windows and Chrome OS platforms and brings the best of Hangouts to your desktop.


Google Apps provides a ton of options for improving the meeting experience from the planning / scheduling faze to the follow-up.


Spell Check with Google Sheets behaves just the same as it does with Docs or Slides.


Google Business

Google Business news, including policies, user privacy, politics and legal issues.


A one-stop shop where government officials can learn how to get the most out of YouTube as a communication tool.


NYTimes: Germany seems to have taken on yet another stereotype — as a nation of Luddites.


New Campuses in Warsaw, Poland, São Paulo, Brazil, and Seoul, South Korea.


Google Extra

Other Google side projects, including art, science and fun stuff.


Trekker camera + camel = awesome!


Health care has become one of the company’s biggest side projects.


Google’s data also show mobile voice searches more than doubled in the past year.


Here’s a look at a week of search trends so weird, it’s almost a Twin Peaks experience.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Protect Your Computer



Losing a laptop, tablet or smartphone at any time is always a painful experience.  Here’s how you can protect yourself:

1.    Never leave yours visible and unattended even "just for a minute" unless you have it secured with a cable lock (available for checkout at the Library and Campus Center).

2.    Back up everything important (e.g., to an external hard drive, CD/DVD, Google Drive).

3.    Most important: Register your device in the Google Doc My Inventory at Macalester. Your chances of recovery are much better if you can readily provide law enforcement with identifying information (e.g., make, model, serial number).

4.    Consider installing laptop tracking software such as Prey, available FREE at preyproject.com.

For more information go to macalester.edu/its/safecomputing.