At OIT, we see technology being used by an empowered Washington College community every day. We also see dozens of technology mistakes, disasters and problems waiting to happen. We have put together some helpful technology tips to keep you running smoothly.
Create a back up on CD, DVD or hard disk at least once every two weeks. Copy all of the files you have created and cannot replace to external storage and keep your back up in a safe place.
Phishing is an email scam created to steal your personal data and identity. To learn how to avoid phishing and other email scams, play the Carnegie Mellon Anti-Phising Game. It takes only fifteen minutes to make you a little safer online.
Computers need rest, too. Put your computer to sleep when it's not in use to save your battery (and energy.) Periodically, power down your machine or restart, especially if you have recently installed new software or updates. Giving your computer some down time allows it to reconfigure itself for new software and clear its memory to work faster.
Run Windows Updates or Mac OS X Software Updates regularly or set the updater to run automatically at an interval that works for your schedule. When you see update notifications, install the updates as soon as possible. To keep your computer up to date, you'll have to be logged on to the network. Make sure you sign in via your browser before you update your machine.
Just like your computer, your antivirus software needs to be updated regularly. When your antivirus software alerts you to updates, run them. Set your antivirus software to check for updates automatically, too. To keep your computer up to date, you'll have to be logged on to the network. Make sure you sign in via your browser before you update your machine.
Get connected to your campus colleagues and classmates - as well as OIT support - faster than ever with Zimbra chat. Built right in to the Zimbra collaboration suite, chat allows your to easily send instant messages to other Zimbra users. Zimbra chat is also now powering OIT's Live Chat, making it simple to get help from the HelpDesk.
Enable your Windows Firewall to safeguard your computer from viruses and other malicious attacks. Scan your computer for viruses and spyware frequently, too!
On the Mac, use Spotlight (the magnifying glass in the upper right corner of your screen) to search your computer for files, email, contacts, images, calendars, applications and more.
Use the Dictionary widget to quickly look up definitions by typing all or part of a word. You can also look up a word in the included Thesaurus to find synonyms, antonyms and more. Since the Dictionary widget is built into Mac OS X, you don't even need an internet connection.
If using a notebook computer, make sure ventilation around it is adequate. Air should be able to pass with no obstruction on all sides of the machine. For example: it would be a very bad to use a notebook computer for long periods of time while it is sitting on a blanket.
Keeping your notebook computer plugged in 24/7 does not save the battery. In fact, it causes the battery to hold less charge. To protect your battery, occasionally let it run all the way to empty (until your computer puts itself to sleep.) Wait several hours and then recharge fully. You should try to drain your battery as much as possible before plugging in during normal use, too.
Did you know that most numbers on campus can be dialed toll-free from campus phones? Dial the last four digits (the extension) of campus phone numbers to be connected. Not only does this save time by eliminating digits, but you will not be charged for the call. To save space, OIT bolds the last four digits of all phone numbers on our site to denote the extension. (Example: 410-778-7777)
Your Mac has a really useful password security utility built into its System Preferences. Go to the Accounts panel and choose your user name from the list on the left. Make sure you are in the "Password" panel and then click "Change Password..." In the window that appears, choose the small key-shaped button. You can enter passwords manually or view automated suggestions and the corresponding security strength of each. Very handy when you need to create a password on the fly but can't get online.
Bonus: Did you know that OIT has a password utility, too?
With the release of Office 2008 for the Mac, Microsoft has now updated both of its office suites. Office 2007 and Office 2008 both bring a new set of file formats to the computing environment on campus.
By default, these new versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint save in .docx, .pptx and .xlsx, respectively. These formats are not backwards compatible with previous versions of Microsoft Office on the Mac or PC. In other words, if you send a file saved in a new version of any of these applications to someone with an older version, they will not be able to open it.
To prevent this from happening, make sure to set your default save options for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. This will ensure that, by default, your Office documents will save in the older file formats for compatibility with existing versions of Microsoft's Office applications.
Learn more by viewing a special news bulletin about this topic on the OIT News blog.
With so many Mac users on campus these days - and so many of them using the dual boot software, Parallels, to run Windows - it's important to share this helpful tip!
On occassion, a glitch with Parallels causes the following error message:
Hdd file is missing, corrupted or used by another application
Hdd file is used by another application
If you receive this error, don't panic! The problem is most likely caused by an accidental lock file created by the Parallels software. To remedy the issue, one simply has to open their virtual disk package on the Mac and then remove the offending file, ".DiskDescriptor.xml.lock"
To learn more and read full instructions, visit the following links:
Instructional Technology offers professional support for campus technologies, multimedia and more via Open Lab Hours in the Beck Instructional Lab. Beck�s Open Lab Hours will be Monday from 1:30 - 4:30 as always. In addition, Tech Tuesdays for faculty will be offered every Tuesday from 1:30 - 3:30.
To learn more about specific hours, visit:
If you are thinking about getting up to speed with a new application or refreshing your skills with your new operating system or updated software package, Lynda.com training is a great resource for you. To learn more about accessing Lynda.com video training for free, contact the HelpDesk at 410-778-7777.
Whether you are an international student or studying a foreign language, you may encounter a situation in which it would be useful to change the language preferences on your computer.
Luckily, this guide (PDF) makes it easy to do so whether you are on Windows or Mac. It also contains steps for changing your preferences in Microsoft Office.