Tech Tip of the Week: Recognizing Laptop Battery Problems

Laptop batteries can be dangerous if they start to expand. There’s one symptom that indicates battery expansion in Mac laptops that is often ignored. Do you know what it is?

What Causes a Battery to Expand?
There are several reasons that a battery might expand. The most common are a battery defect, exposure to extreme heat, and overcharging. Battery manufacturers try to safeguard against these conditions, but there are occasionally problems nonetheless.

Signs to Watch For
The MacBook battery is right under the trackpad, and the first sign of an expanding battery can be that the trackpad clicker stops working. We have seen this mostly in older white MacBooks, but it could also happen with a MacBook Pro.

Another sign of an expanding battery can be that the computer doesn’t sit flat on a surface anymore. Examination of the bottom of the computer can reveal a bulging battery. We recently saw a MacBook Pro with an expanding battery that warped the metal cover so much that it popped out, detaching from the screws that held it in place.

What to do if you Suspect your Battery is Expanding
Laptop batteries are dangerous if punctured, and if one starts to expand you should take steps to properly dispose of it. If it’s a Hampshire owned computer put in an IT ticket and we will handle diagnosis, removal, and disposal. If it’s a personally owned device we do not recommend trying to remove it yourself–bring it to an authorized repair center, where they should have safety equipment to make sure that there are safeguards in place in case of a puncture. In no instance should you dispose of the battery in your normal trash–if you have a battery that is already out of your computer, please bring it to your hazardous waste disposal site or a responsible collection center such as Best Buy.

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20. November 2014 by Kate, School Support Specialist
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Tech Tip of the Week: Getting Spam Out of Sight

While it’s annoying to be receiving so much spam, it’s a little less annoying if you don’t have to look at it. There are a couple of ways you can help to make it less visible.

How our Junk Mail Detection Works
When email comes into Hampshire it’s scanned to determine the likelihood that it is spam. If it has a high score on spam factors it will be sent to a folder called “Junk”, and the mail system will make a note that similar emails in the future should also be treated as junk mail.

Human Intervention Fine Tunes the Process
If you use Thunderbird (or another mail client) to access your email, you can train it to recognize more spam. For Thunderbird:

  1. From the Tools menu select “Account Settings.”
  2. Click on “Junk Settings” in the panel on the left.
  3. In the “Destination and Retention” section, make sure that “Move new junk messages to:” is checked, and your junk folder selected.
  4. Click OK to close Account Settings.
  5. When a message that is junk makes it into your inbox, click on the dot in the Junk column (that’s the column with a flame or recycle bin icon at the top of it). When you do this Thunderbird uses it as a sort of template for future messages that should be moved to Junk.
  6. If you accidentally mark something as junk, unmark it by clicking in that column again.

If you do this carefully for a few days, Thunderbird will get a lot better at funneling spam into your junk folder. Occasionally check your junk folder to make sure legitimate mail is not ending up there. Also be sure that you empty it out every once in a while: select all the messages and hit the delete key, and then every once in a while empty your email trash as well.

Other Options for Junk Mail Handling
There are two other ways you can adapt the way junk mail is handled:

  • You can set up the junk mail scanner to deliver junk mail to your Inbox. But why would you want to do that?
  • You can add specific email addresses (and wild card domains, if you’re savvy) to a “black list”, so that every message you receive from that email address will be marked as spam. Adding an address to the white list ensures that email from that address will never be marked as spam.

These options are found by going to and selecting “Email settings.”

Junk Handling for Forwarded Email
If you forward your Hampshire email to Gmail or another service, Hampshire will still deliver email determined to be spam to your Hampshire account’s Junk folder. These items will not be forwarded to Gmail. If you suspect that items are being mis-marked as spam you should log into your Hampshire webmail and follow the instructions above to train the junk mail handler, or use one of the other options for junk mail handling.

One Final Caveat
If you POP your email–that is, download it onto your computer instead of keeping it on the server–you won’t see the server’s Junk mail folder unless you log into Webmail.

13. November 2014 by Kate, School Support Specialist
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Student Toolkit for End of Term

It’s not too early to think about the end of the semester, it will be here sooner that you think! Get some strategies in place now and things may feel a little easier in December!

Juggling Workload

Last month Alana Kumbier (Library) and Asha Kinney (IT) ran a workshop for the First Year Students Program called “Getting It Done” which outlined a strategy for keeping your work organized and lists some good tools and techniques. Slides and notes from this workshop are here.

Tools for Staying Organized

Here is a playlist featuring some online tools that can help you keep your work, time, and research organized. Need help deciding which to use? Here’s a matrix of what we think each one is best for.


Many of you will need to do presentations for class. This video has some tips on keeping your audience awake, what software to choose, avoiding technical disasters, and calming presentation day nerves.

Create a PDF Portfolio

Some classes will have you submit an end-of-semester portfolio of your work. This video shows a few different ways to combine multiple file types into one PDF document. This one is a little long, so check out the video description on YouTube to jump to different sections for Mac or PC, etc!

12. November 2014 by Asha Kinney
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Tech Tip of the Week: Hiring a New Employee?

If you’re hiring a new employee, your work doesn’t end with the offer acceptance. To ensure a smooth transition, please fill out the New Employee Computing Request Form as soon as possible.

  • When a new employee starts, or a Hampshire employee transfers to another department, IT has several tasks to undertake:
  • Set up email access.
  • Set up access to servers as appropriate.
  • Set up a Zimbra account if requested.
  • Set up Datatel access as appropriate.
  • Procure and / or set up a computer.
  • Set up phone lines.
  • Provide training on IT resources.

All of these things take time and planning, so for your new employee’s sake we request that you submit the form as soon as you have a start date. The information you will need to fill out the form includes:

  • The employee’s full name.
  • The start date.
  • Where the employee’s office will be.
  • Whether you already have a computer for the employee, or if you will be needing an additional one; if it’s an additional computer, the preference of type (Mac/PC, desktop/portable).
  • Whether the employee will need access to Datatel, file servers, and Zimbra..

Fill out the New Employee Computing Request Form »

06. November 2014 by Applications and Web Services
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Tech Tip of the Week: Spam, Spam, Spam, Egg and Spam in your Mailbox?

Rest assured that you’re not alone in having an influx of spam. Curious about why it’s happening, what we’re doing about it, and what you can do? Read on.

For the past week or two we’ve seen a significant uptick in the amount of spam coming through to Hampshire email addresses. This can happen for different reasons, most likely our email address list has been somehow acquired and sold to phishers and spammers. When this happens we tend to see an increase for a couple of months, and it then starts to subside.

What We Are Doing

There’s no easy, quick fix to this situation. We are tackling it in a few ways:

  • We use several different blacklisting services to make sure that incoming messages do not originate from known spam sites.
  • We require email to conform to certain protocols and behavioral standards. If we receive a message from a server we know nothing about, we do a quick check to try to establish the legitimacy of the server. If a message is rejected for any reason in these categories then the sender will be notified.
  • We look for certain categories of content and take action accordingly. Executable attachments are not delivered. Attachments that have a virus are discarded without notification. All messages are given a spam score based on certain characteristics; depending on the score the message may be delivered to the recipient’s inbox, delivered to the recipient’s Junk folder, or discarded without notification.

What You Can Do

  • Spam that gets identified as such and delivered is by default sent to your Junk folder. You should occasionally delete these items by right-clicking (or control-clicking on a Mac) on the Junk folder and selecting the Empty option. Note that this will permanently delete everything in the folder.
  • If you ever try to send out a message from your Hampshire email account and receive a message in return indicating that your message was not delivered because we are blacklisted, please forward us the message at

30. October 2014 by Kate, School Support Specialist
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Tech Tip of the Week: A Screenshot is Worth a Thousand Words

Taking a quick picture of your computer or smartphone screen can be a lot easier than describing what it looks like or painstakingly recording the wording of an error message. But what was that magic key combination…

You won’t be able to take a screenshot in every situation–if your computer won’t start up, or if it completely freezes–but it can be helpful in many situations. Unfortunately, every device has a slightly different method.

Windows has a couple of different ways to take a screenshot.

  • A Windows keyboard will have a “Print Screen” key (often abbreviated to “Prt Scrn” or something similar). Pressing it once will take a picture of the screen and put it on the “clipboard”; you can then use the Paste command to put it into an email or Word document, or anywhere else that accepts a picture. Note that when you take the picture there’s no visual or audio feedback to indicate you’ve been successful.
  • If you’d like the screenshot to go directly into a file instead of on the clipboard, hold down the “Windows” key on the keyboard while you press the “Print Screen” button and Windows will put a file in your Pictures folder named “Screenshot”, with a number after it.
  • To take a picture of only the frontmost window on your screen, hold down the “Alt” key while pressing the “Print Screen” button.
  • In the Start Menu–>All Programs–>Accessories folder you will find a utility program called “Snipping Tool” that will let you drag out a rectangle or other shape on the screen to grab part of the screen and save it to a file. I find this to be a little more complicated than I usually need, but it is certainly flexible.

The key combinations on the Mac are a little less obvious, but it does have the advantage of giving you feedback when you take a picture: you will hear a camera shutter noise when it takes a picture (assuming your volume is turned up). Screen shots are saved in a “Screen Shot” file on your desktop; the filename will include the date and time of the picture. To take a screenshot of a Macintosh screen:

  • Holding down the “Command”, “Shift”, and “3” keys at the same time will take a picture of the entire screen.
  • Holding down Command-Shift-4 will bring up a cursor that will allow you to drag out a rectangle and capture part of the screen.
  • To take a picture of just one window, use Command-Shift-4 and then press the “Space” bar, which will then allow you to click into the window you want to capture.
  • If you want to get a picture of the items in a menu, click on the menu to open it, then use Command-Shift-4 and drag out a rectangle that includes the menu.

iPhone or iPad
You can grab a picture of the screen on your iOS device by holding the sleep/wake button on the top (actually this has been moved to the side on the iPhone 6), and then quickly pressing the “home” button on the front. If the volume is turned on you will hear a camera shutter noise, and the screen also flashes. The picture is put in your “Pictures” collection.

Android Devices
Most recent Android devices will take a screenshot by pressing the power button and the volume down button at the same time. You will get a notification that the screenshot was successful. If your device has a home button you might be able to take a screenshot by holding down the power button and the home button. Finally, on certain devices you may have the option to take a screenshot on the “Power Off” menu that appears when you hold down the power button.

16. October 2014 by Kate, School Support Specialist
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Tech Tip of the Week: Setting up Emergency Notification Preferences

Did you show up at 8:30 during the emergency closing only to find an empty parking lot? Or maybe every device in your house starting buzzing and beeping and blaring as the messages came pouring in. If you don’t seem to be receiving the text messages or phone calls that your colleagues do about emergency closings–or if you receive one too many–settings on TheHub can help you out.

About the Hampshire Emergency Notification System
All students, faculty, and staff are automatically enrolled to receive email messages from the emergency notification system via their Hampshire email address. To ensure that the system is functional even if our mail system is down, they are sent by a third party, and show up as being from “Hampshire College Alert” or “”.

We do have backup power sources for our mail servers, but it is possible that email messages will be undeliverable in the midst of an emergency. Even if the email message makes its way through, do you always check your email before heading out the door?

There are settings to add a landline and/or cell phone to your emergency notification contact methods. If you add a landline you will receive a phone call with a computerized voice message. A cellphone will receive that same message and a text version of it as well.

There are currently no settings to request only a text message on a cell phone, or to send an email to a different email address.

Setting up Your Preferences
To set up your preferences, go to and sign in. Select the appropriate page (“Employee” or “Student”) and look under the “Personal Information” section for the “Emergency Notification” link.

09. October 2014 by Kate, School Support Specialist
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