Connecting you to the latest training, service information and IT updates for SMU.
Author: Zach Peterson
Zach is a Senior IT Training & Communications Consultant with OIT. Zach began his SMU career at the IT Help Desk in 2012 and joined the Training & Communications Team in 2015. He is a 2011 graduate from the University of North Texas and obtained a Master of Liberal Studies degree from SMU in 2018. He enjoys reading and collecting vintage and antique radio sets. He grew up in Valley View, Texas near Denton.
As part of the OE2C initiative this past year, OIT has been working to increase the quality and efficiency of customer service. One method adopted was to make support staff more accessible to the University community. A new structure has been put in place by the Customer Support division that places field support and AV/Event representatives into assigned zones which include several buildings that each representative will support. These representatives will be the first point of contact for desk-side support and emergency classroom/conference room support in their respective area. They will also be cross-trained in order to assist other zones when needed for larger projects or issues.
The following individuals are currently serving in an embedded zone:
As you may have heard, SMU recently began offering full Lynda.com access for all students faculty and staff. Already, hundreds of you have logged on and began learning new things! As Lynda.com continues to improve, they have recently announced that as of November 30, they will be gradually rolling out a new look for their courses. To keep you in the loop, here are a few of the differences you can expect once the new format hits your account.
If you need to download exercise files, add a course to your playlist, or if you would like to share the course with someone, all of these options have been moved to the top right of the screen so they are more easily found. Don’t forget that there is now an option to download courses for offline viewing!
Lynda.com has also added keyboard shortcuts to make navigating a course easier, which means you can focus more on learning! A detailed list of the shortcuts can be found by clicking on the icon next to the share button in the top right corner.
Video transcripts have always been a great way to keep track of where you are in a course and can also help if you simply want to read the directions given. Now, Lynda.com allows you to type notes alongside the transcript totally within the course, so you don’t have to have a separate notepad.
With these new features, Lynda has made it even easier to work within their courses! Again, it’s all free for students, faculty and staff, so log in and learn.
Windows 10 has been out in the wild for about three months now. A frequent question we get here at OIT is “How is it?” and “Should I upgrade?” In the IT industry, we always like to thoroughly test things out before putting our approval stamp on it. After a few months with Windows 10, we can now make some recommendations.
As many people know either by personal experience or word of mouth, Windows 8.1, the previous version of Windows, was a very divisive iteration. The Start button evolved into the Start Screen, a strange mix of menus and giant colorful buttons that left a bad taste in the mouths of many. Windows 10 has backed off of the Start Screen and tile concept, bringing back the good ‘ol Start button and start menu, albeit with some changes.
One feature that has carried on from Windows 8.1 is the recommendation that a Microsoft Account be used to log into your computer. This allows the majority of your computer settings, from font sizes to wallpaper, to be synced to all of your computers and devices that also use your Microsoft Account. Your settings will even carry over to a friend’s computer if you use this account. If this type of feature isn’t your cup of tea, you can always create a regular local account like you could in Windows 7 and versions previous.
A very noticeable change from previous versions of Windows is the web browser. Gone is the ubiquitous Internet Explorer that has graced Windows since 1995. The replacement is Microsoft Edge and has a familiar looking blue E for its logo. Although the logo may be similar, the two browsers couldn’t be more different. Edge is a very lean, stripped-down browser. It’s fast and simple to use but has significant drawbacks in that it has very little customization features and does not currently allow add-ons like IE. Microsoft intends to add back the add-on capability next year. In the meantime, we recommend using a different browser like Firefox or Google Chrome if you need a little bit more flexibility.
Other cool features include better multiple display support, Cortana; a voice-activated search tool and “personal assistant,” as well as improved built-in programs for e-mail, paint, etc.
Another huge factor in recommending Windows 10 is its reliability. So far, we haven’t found many major issues regarding program compatibility or glaring bugs that would negatively affect the user experience. Issues that you may run into could include hardware driver compatibility problems if the manufacturer has not provided a Windows 10 compatible update for your particular device. Apart from this, there have been few issues that would be considered severe.
Overall, Windows 10 has proven to be a solid and enjoyable experience in its first few months of life. If your machine meets the minimum requirements, you can upgrade without much worry. If you use Windows 8 or 8.1, we definitely recommend the upgrade in order to revive much-needed usability.
We’ve all been there. After a long busy day in classes you rush to print out that big project at the library. Your class is just five minutes away, so you rush away without logging off of the public computer. We always like to think of our fellow classmates as trustworthy and caring people, but with security breaches on the rise, it’s best to take every precaution possible when using your SMU account.
News articles constantly talk about “hackers” gaining passwords to an individual’s account. One of the most recent victims was none other than CIA director John Brennan. The high-schooler that “hacked” Mr. Brennan’s personal AOL account didn’t really use any hacking or technical expertise to get access to the account; he just simply acted as if he was Mr. Brennan during a fake technical support call. Many other examples include nefarious individuals simply calling people asking for their passwords. This makes it extremely important to keep your personal information private and to never offer it to others.
The best way to keep your SMU information yours is to always fully log out of any services you use when you’ve finished using them. Always log out completely from any public computers on or off campus to prevent anyone from walking up and accessing your information. Most public computers on campus are set to completely wipe any information saved on them when restarted. Restarting the computer, if possible, would be the most secure option.
Here’s a few other quick tips that can make your account more secure:
Use a PIN or touch pattern to lock your smart phone or tablet. The longer and more complex the better!
Use a password manager like LastPass, 1Password or KeePass to save your passwords securely and to generate random and secure passwords automatically.
NEVER give your password to anyone, even if asked by someone saying they provide technical support.
For example, the SMU Help Desk will never ask you for your password, so if anyone claims they are from SMU and asks for your password, end the conversation and contact the Office of Information Technology immediately!
Don’t leave your personal devices logged on and unattended. Not only could the devices be physically stolen, but the perpetrator can also steal your information. If you must leave your device, make sure it’s at least locked.
By following these tips, you can help make your information even safer from the threat of cyber attacks. If you have any questions on how to stay secure, call the Help Desk at 214-SMU-HELP or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As finals quickly approach, it can be a real pain to keep all of your tasks, both personal and school-related, organized and on their way to completion. Sometimes, things fall through the cracks and throw your life into chaos.
Everyone has their own methods of managing their tasks, but if your methods don’t seem to be cutting it for your needs, you may want to switch it up with some digital methods!
A very common way to keep it all together is to have a to-do list. For ages this has been done with pen/pencil and paper. But what happens if you lose your list or it gets destroyed by an eager and hungry canine? All that work is gone! For online storage and syncing of your to-do list, there are loads of awesome tools for you to try.
My personal favorite has been Wunderlist. Wunderlist is a free to-do list platform (with a premium pay service available) that makes creating your to-do list and syncing it with all of your devices painless. With apps for not only your computer but also your smartphones and tablets, your tasks are only a couple of taps or clicks away! On top of that, it has a satisfying “DING!” when you finally check those tasks off of your list!
Wunderlist is available for iPhone, Android, Kindle Tablets (FireOS), Windows, and Mac.
Some other great services include Remember the Milk, which has apps for most mobile platforms as well as the ability to connect to your Google and Evernote accounts. Speaking of Evernote, it can also be a great way to keep a to do list on top of its stellar note-taking capabilities.
Another good option for a to-do list across all of your devices is Todoist. Also free with a premium pay option available, Todoist has apps and clients that are available on fifteen different platforms! Todoist would probably work best if you’re more business-oriented, since it also includes a lot of team collaboration features that aren’t found in other services.
Apart from finding the best to-do list service for your needs, another important part of managing your tasks is to get into a routine and stick with it! You’ll be surprised how much more work you can get done.
IT Connect is published by the Office of Information Technology at Southern Methodist University.