Category Archives: Helpdesk

Don’t Ignore the Windows Update Shield!!

If you’re a Windows user, did you ever wonder what the periodic appearance of a yellow shield on your task bar means? When you have Windows Automatic Update enabled (and you definitely should!), your PC will regularly check with Microsoft to see if any new software fixes or patches are available to download and install.

Generally, Microsoft releases patches for Windows systems on every second Tuesday of the month (affectionately known, by some, as “patch Tuesday”). Your PC should detect the availability of patches on patch Tuesday and download/install them to your computer. Oftentimes, your PC will need to be rebooted for the patches to take affect.

Malicious attackers also watch for patch Tuesday but their intent is to better understand where specific security holes in the Windows software exist. They reverse engineer the patches and can then generate attacks against unpatched Windows machines.

Yesterday, Microsoft released a critical patch so you may see the yellow shield even though it’s not the second Tuesday of the month. In order to stay safe, this critical patch should be installed as soon as possible and your machine restarted. Attackers are already working on efforts to exploit this most recent weakness so patching quickly is key.

So, don’t ignore or inhibit that little yellow shield on your task bar. It’s trying to protect your PC and data! Allow it to install the patches as soon as it detects them. And, if it prompts you to restart your PC, it’s a really good idea to do that.

Stay safe,
Nick

Google Chrome – a nice complement for browsing

ITS tested Google Chrome on several of our swat online services, and found that many swat services function properly. Chrome is packed with many features that are easy to use including navigation and search history. If you are interested in road testing Google Chrome, feel free to download it; but keep in mind, Chrome is still in beta, and is not as mature as your current College supported browsers (Internet Explorer, Safari, and Firefox).

Eudora Migration Continues

EUDORA MIGRATION CONTINUES

During the summer over 170 faculty and staff members have transitioned from Eudora to another email client. Thunderbird is the most popular email client selected. Beginning in October, ITS will be scheduling a time to migrate current Eudora users.

We understand that changing e-mail software can be inconvenient so please consider the following options: you can switch to another e-mail program (apple mail or outlook), or you can follow our recommendation to migrate to Thunderbird. We are happy to assist you with the process now or when it is convenient for you during the next few months.
To facilitate the transition, ITS is doing the following:

Individual or Departmental Installation Appointments - ITS is scheduling appointments.Depending on the amount of email that needs to be migrated a migration can take 1 to 4 hours. Please call the Help Desk for an appointment at ext. 4357 or send an email to jacobsen@swarthmore.edu to schedule a group or departmental migration.

Thunderbird Overview sessions for Mac and PC users. Join ITS to learn about Swarthmore’s new email system, Thunderbird. Thunderbird Overview sessions is designed to prepare faculty and staff for the migration from Eudora. We’re finding that most users like Thunderbird more than Eudora, but it is a change and, like any change, does take a little time to get settled. Please attend our Overview session to learn about the differences, a few Thunderbird tips and tricks, and how to manage your mailbox. Thunderbird Overview Session dates and registration. Overview sessions are available for Mac and PC users.

What to learn more about the email project, see the ITS Blog postings.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to upgrade to Office 2007

Office 2007

Starting this summer, ITS began transitioning the campus from Microsoft Office 2003 (Windows) to Microsoft Office 2007. Starting this semester, all classroom computers, all public and managed departmental labs, and all new machines and setups will have the 2007 versions of Office installed on them. ITS has been working closely with faculty and staff to schedule the upgrade and many departments are now using Office 2007.

Office 2007 has changed substantially for Windows users. To ease this transition ITS is offering several overview sessions and we recommend you attend an overview when planning your upgrade. Scheduled dates are; 10/2, 10/16, 10/30, 11/13 and 12/4. Please register using the campus calendar.

Faculty and Staff, toinstall and begin using Office 2007

Close any Microsoft Office 2003 programs you may have open. You can’t use these programs during the upgrade process.

Click Start and then select Run

Type into the Run line

\\data-software

Click Software, select Windows Software, select, Faculty_and_Staff_Only, click Microsoft Office 2007. Double-click the batch file: Office2007.bat. The installer will start and you will see a progress bar.

Wait for the progress bar to indicate that the install is finished (this should take 20-30 minutes). When the installer is finished, restart your computer.

Why are we transitioning now?

Because MS Office 2007 for Windows has been available for about 20 months and many faculty, staff, and students who have upgraded their computers are using the new versions. In January 2009, Microsoft will no longer support 0ffice 2003 and ITS will only provide support until the end of the academic year.

What is the plan?

As mentioned above, all classroom computers, all public and managed departmental labs have the 2007versions of Office installed on them. New machines and setups will be deployed with the new versions as well. We will be transitioning the remainder of faculty and staff computers over the course of the 08-09 academic year. Office 2007 Overview sessions will be offered throughout the fall. We will be distributing quick-start guides to all attendees. Additional on-line training is available.

Office 2007 Line spacing tip

Members of the Swarthmore community have shared valuable feedback about ITS’ Microsoft Office 2007 implementation as noted in this blog from our colleague, Cathy.

During a recent overview session, we discussed line spacing options and modifications.

By default, Microsoft Word 2007 applies a line space of 1.5, however, our colleague, Cathy found that we can reduce the space by using the following steps:

  1. Click the Page layout tab
  2. Go to the Paragraph Group
  3. Click the Launcher icon
  4. Adjust line spacing to “0″
  5. Click Save as default

Paragraph dialog box

Thunderbird Features

As Thunderbird is being introduced to the community, ITS would like to point out some features available in the program. Thunderbird is capable of the following:

  • Creating and using mailing lists
  • Applying filters and rules for message handling
  • Tagging, color coding messages
  • Dragging/dropping messages to/from folders
  • Creating subfolders
  • Customizing the interface (move fields)
  • Sorting by fields
  • Creating and using signatures

To find out more, please attend one of ITS’ Thunderbird Overview sessions.

Spam, spam, spam

To help control junk email on campus, Swarthmore uses Postini Perimeter Manager, a service that keeps junk mail from ever reaching your email inbox.

However if you are still receiving a lot of junk mail there are a few things you can do to adjust your Spam filter.

If you have an email alias that points to your email account you should add it to your settings in the message center. To do this

  • go to http://messagecenter.swarthmore.edu and log in with your email address and password.
  • Click the my settings link in the top right corner.
  • Under personal settings choose add alternate email addresses.

You can also tune the junk mail filter to be more lenient or aggressive by clicking Manage Junk Filters under Junk Settings.

Contact the help desk if you have any questions. help@swarthmore.edu

Academic Tech Fair – Highlights

The Spring 2008 Academic Technology Fair had something for everyone, especially our three iPod raffle winners. Crowds gathered throughout the day at our eight tables filled with gadgets, widgets and multimedia displays. Lots of interesting conversations came up as faculty and staff shared their ideas and experiences with technology for teaching, research and collaboration.

Congratulations to the three winners of the iPod Shuffle raffle! They are Tom Stephenson, Professor of Chemistry, Tami Gura, Animal Facility Manager in Biology, and Bronwen Densmore, Reference & Instruction Intern in McCabe Library.

img_2514-version-2.jpg

Eric Behrens and Mike Bednarz of ITS draw a winner from the raffle pot.

img_2517-version-2.jpg

Some of the 2008 Replacement computer models on display.

Time for QuickTime Updates (and more)

Late last week, Apple released some security fixes for its QuickTime application so users (any platform) should update to the latest version (7.4.5) as soon as they can. This latest update fixes eleven assorted security vulnerabilities. Users who have QuickTime configured to check for updates automatically just need to enable the installation. Otherwise the update can be found at: http://www.apple.com/support/quicktime/

While on the topic of application updates, it’d be worthwhile to verify your current versions of Adobe Acrobat, Firefox, Opera, OS X, etc. against the most recent versions available. There have been security updates released for these packages in the past few weeks that are worth the effort to install. << April 9th update: you should add Adobe Flash Player to the list of application updates above >>

For Microsoft users, today is “Patch Tuesday”. If configured properly, your PC should automagically determine that there are several new critical security updates to be installed. Because of this, you may notice a yellow shield on the right side of your task bar. Clicking on the shield will allow you to download and/or install the applicable updates. However, for some systems, you might not see a yellow shield if the updates are configured to occur in the background.

Any time you’re not sure whether your Microsoft based PC has been updated, just run ‘Microsoft Update’ or go to http://update.microsoft.com/microsoftupdate/v6/default.aspx?ln=en-us to see if there are any ‘High Priority’ updates waiting to be installed.

It’s always important to update your operating system and key applications as soon as possible because cyber attacks exploiting these security weaknesses show up on the Internet almost immediately!

Happy Patching,

Nick