A Big Update is Coming to Windows 10

We were greeted this morning by a Windows 10 computer that cheerfully1 reported an update ready to install: Windows 10 v1709.2

On a computer with a solid state drive (or SSD, the snappier, non-mechanical successor to the slower, spinning-platter hard disk drive), this update takes at least 30 minutes to download and install; on a computer with a traditional hard drive it takes much longer–hours.

One of the frustrations of Windows 10 is that it doesn’t let you decline updates, even huge updates like this one. It does, however, let you schedule when to install it. We suggest that if you have a computer running Windows 10 and it tells you about the update ready to install, that you schedule it to install overnight, or during some other lengthy time period when you won’t be needing it. Then just make sure that you keep the computer turned on, and hopefully it will all be completed by the time you return to use it.

We haven’t had much of a chance to test out this new version, but we did notice that on some computers it turns off the ESET antivirus protection each time the computer restarts. If this happens to you, choose it from the tray at the bottom right of the screen and choose to enable full protection. We are investigating solutions to this issue.

If you’re having problems with your computer after the update, please contact the IT Help Desk at helpdesk@hampshire.edu or 413.559.5418, or put in an IT Ticket on TheHub.

1Windows 10 is always so very cheerful. Even on our best days, we are never quite as cheerful as those Windows 10 messages are—frankly, they make us downright cranky, especially in a pre-caffeinated state of mind.

2For those of you who care, that number is derived from the year and month of the version release.


Mac Users, Please do not Install High Sierra Yet

Apple is about to release macOS 10.13, known as “High Sierra.” This is a relatively minor feature upgrade from 10.12 (“Sierra”), but has major under-the-hood upgrades. Here’s what you need to know.

The Bottom Line

(Well, yes, actually this is almost-the-top-line, but I want to catch you before you nod off mid-Tech Tip. And anyway, don’t you like to read the last page of a book first?)

Don’t upgrade to High Sierra right away.

We will sound the all-clear in a few months (well, hopefully), but if somehow you miss it, you can always check in with the IT Help Desk at helpdesk@hampshire.edu for our current recommendation.

Hampshire Computers

If you have a Hampshire-owned computer, we are not prepared at this time to support High Sierra for several reasons:

  • High Sierra requires updates to the tools we use to recover files and re-install software on your computer and we do not have these in place—they are not even available yet.
  • We are concerned about stability of the system. There are often bugs in new software, and we have seen some crashes in prerelease versions of the system.
  • Some applications that are in use on campus reportedly no longer work in High Sierra:
    • Final Cut Studio 7 components DVD Studio Pro, Soundtrack Pro, Color, and Cinema Tools.
    • Microsoft Office 2011 (Word, Excel, Powerpoint)
    • Adobe CS5 products

    This is not a complete or final list.

Personal Computers

If you have a personally owned computer and decide to ignore this recommendation, please, please, please, make a complete backup of your computer before you do! This version of macOS makes significant changes to the way that files are stored, which increases the risk of file corruption during install.


New to Hampshire? IT Tips

If you’re new to the Hampshire campus there are a few things we know might trip you up. Here are some of the issues that we typically see problems with at this time of year.

Having Trouble Printing?

As you may have noticed, Hampshire has several wireless networks ; knowing which is appropriate to connect to can help avoid problems accessing services. In order to print or access file servers you must be using either Wallace or Eduroam, or be plugged into the Ethernet. For details on the Eduroam network see https://www.hampshire.edu/it/connecting-to-eduroam-at-hampshire .

Smart Phone Not Accessing the Internet on Campus?

If your smart phone seems to lose internet access as soon as you set foot on campus, it may be that it is trying to connect to the Wallace network but hasn’t yet registered with it. You have a choice: choose the Hampguest network instead, or register your phone with Wallace by using its browser to go to https://netreg.hampshire.edu . Note that if you choose Hampguest instead of netreg’ing, you may find that it switches back to Wallace on occasion all on its own.

Can’t Log into TheHub?

If you are having trouble logging into TheHub and you’re new to Hampshire, it might be because you haven’t completed the short FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) training video and quiz. To take the quiz go to https://hamp.it/FERPA . If you’re not new to Hampshire we encourage you to take it anyway–and we promise it is quick and painless.

New Email Account not Working?

If you have a new email account but you can’t seem to get your email, did you accept the AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) at https://password.hampshire.edu? While you’re there, change your password to something you will remember, and then set up your security questions.

Want to Forward your Hampshire Email to Another Email Account?

Faculty and students sometimes prefer to receive personal and Hampshire email in one place. If that sounds like you, you can set up forwarding by going to https://password.hampshire.edu and selecting “Email Settings.” Just make sure that you pay attention to messages telling you that it’s time to change your password–you have to do that once a year–and at that time go back to https://password.hampshire.edu.

Not Sure if an Email Message is a Scam?

When critical announcements are made to the entire campus, they are both posted on the Intranet and emailed to faculty, staff, and/or students directly from the announcement system. You can verify authenticity of these messages by checking https://intranet.hampshire.edu. You should also know that to change your password or check your email quota we would only ever send you to https://password.hampshire.edu. Just remember that web address and type it into your browser if you ever want to check the status of your account–anywhere else is a scam.

Have a Scam Email You Think You’d Better Share with IT?

Scam emails can be sent to phishbowl@hampshire.edu , which will bring them to the attention of the system administrators.

Need IT Help?

The IT Help Desk is staffed M-F from 8:30 a.m.-noon, and 1-4 p.m. If you need immediate assistance give a call to 413.559.5418. For non-emergencies you can email helpdesk@hampshire.edu or enter an IT ticket by going to TheHub.

Looking for Amazing Tech Tips on a Weekly Basis?

Or just need some help falling asleep at night? Watch this space.


Got Backup?

Hard disks fail. If you don’t back up your data on a regular basis, we can help you get a system set up.

If you’ve experienced a data loss due to hard drive failure, chances are that you’ve got a backup system in place. If you haven’t experienced a data loss, don’t worry, you’ll be a member of the club some day–unless you’re backing up your data on a regular basis.

These days a backup system is pretty painless–you can either back up to an external drive on an automatic basis, or sign up for an online backup system such as Carbonite.

If you need to put a backup plan in place, we have backup drives available for purchase through a departmental charge. A 1 Terabyte backup drive (sufficient for the vast majority of users) is $60 and a 2 Terabyte backup drive is $100. To buy one of these drives contact the IT Helpdesk, give us a departmental charge number, and you can stop by and pick up your drive. If you’d like assistance setting up the drive and starting the backup, make an appointment with an IT technician through the IT help desk.


Using a Password Manager

Whether you’re reusing passwords (a definite security risk) or trying to keep track of a multitude of passwords (a definite sanity risk), a password manager is a great help.

I finally reached the tipping point with passwords a few months ago. I had been using an encrypted file to keep track of passwords, but it just became untenable with multiple devices. I also wasn’t happy with the lack of complexity of the passwords I was using.

After some research I settled on LastPass, a free utility that is web based with apps available for iOS and Android OS. Once I came up with one super-strong password (the “last pass” I’ll have to remember), I set it up to generate random passwords for some sites, and left other (less important) sites as they were.

Things I love about LastPass

  • It’s really easy to have it remember and retrieve passwords when I’m using a computer browser.
  • My passwords are (securely) accessible from any device I use.
  • The security level is highly customizable.
  • I can designate certain passwords to be shared with other LastPass users–my family for instance, can use their own LastPass account to access my Verizon password, so they can log into our shared family plan. This feature requires one person (me, in this case) to buy the premium service, which costs me $12 per year.

Things that I don’t love about LastPass

  • It’s a bit cumbersome on my phone. While the new version provides its own browser that will automatically invoke LastPass when needed, that doesn’t help with apps that require passwords. Getting to my LastPass passwords from an app on my phone requires launching the LastPass app, copying the password, pasting it into the password field, and then going back and clearing out the clipboard so the password can’t be pasted in again.
  • The base settings for LastPass aren’t as secure as I’d like (it stays logged in too long, for instance), so I spent some time tweaking them to my liking.

Choosing a Password Manager
When you’re choosing a password manager you should consider several factors:

  • It should use at least AES 256 encryption.
  • It should be able to generate random, secure passwords for you.
  • It should work on all the devices you use to access secure sites–your smart phone, tablet, and computer–and any browser.
  • Two-step authentication is a security feature that makes it more difficult for someone to break into your password vault.
  • If you need to share passwords with friends or family, can it do that without compromising passwords that are just for you?
  • A helpful rundown of password managers can be found at http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2407168,00.asp.

Congress Approves Rollback of Internet Privacy Protections

Amidst all of the other chaos surrounding the new administration, you could be forgiven for not being aware of an alarming reversal in internet privacy policy. Here’s what you should know.

In October 2016 the FCC voted in new regulations to require broadband internet providers to receive permission from consumers before collecting and selling individual subscriber usage information. Protected information included web browsing, location information, financial information, personal information, and more. The regulations were slated to go into effect later this year.

Earlier this month the Senate passed a repeal of the rule on a strict party-line vote, and the House did likewise this week. There is little mystery about the next step, as the White House has stated that the President will sign the bill. Once that happens the FCC will be powerless to recreate the rule.

What this means is that your internet provider will be able to sell the data it collects on you without your permission. And this isn’t just your web browsing data, it includes any information you enter online, including personally identifying and health-related information. Since there is really no competition in local broadband providers, consumers have few options for direct action.

If you’re as outraged as we are, consider some of the following ideas:

  • Get informed about the issue. Good starting points include op-eds from March 29 in the New York Times and Washington Post, as well as https://www.fightforthefuture.org .
  • Let your cable company know that you do not want your information collected or sold. Although though they are under no obligation to heed your wishes we can hope that many voices will make a difference.
  • A petition for the President is available to sign at http://savebroadbandprivacy.org .
  • Helpful information about protecting your digital information is available at https://www.letsgetsafe.org/ . Please note that if you desire to encrypt your Hampshire-owned computer that IT should initiate the encryption to minimize the potential for data loss.
  • Watch for future erosions of your online rights. Negation of net neutrality rules promise to be the next digital battleground.

Guarding Against Theft of Electronics

We have seen several computer thefts this year, from public places as well as offices. What can you do limit the chance of theft, and how can you prepare in case the worst happens? Read on.

Don’t Leave Valuables Unattended
It only takes a moment for a computer to be stolen. When you’re working in a public place like the Library or a cafe, never leave your computer unattended and unlocked, even for a few minutes. If you have a trusted friend you can leave it with them, otherwise bring it with you or leave it locked. If your office is open and unattended, always use a lock. IT is happy to provide cable locks for Hampshire-owned computers.

Turn on Tracking
On a Mac, System Preferences/iCloud allows you to turn on Find my Mac, which will track your device and allow you to wipe it remotely or play an alarm if it is detected on line. Windows 10 has a “Find My Device” option in Settings/Update & Security, which will show you where your device is. There are other 3rd-party options for different platforms–Prey is one option for Android, Linux, as well as Mac, iOS and Windows.

Know your Serial Number
Your serial number will be helpful for law enforcement if your computer is recovered. Many computers have the serial number printed on the computer or a sticker attached to it; if you don’t have a sticker or can’t read it, search online for how to find it on your computer–or for a Mac just use AppleAbout this Mac. IT maintains a record of all Hampshire-owned computer serial numbers.

Know your MAC Address(es)
Your computer has a “Media Access Control” (MAC) address which uniquely identifies it on each network connection it has. For example, there is a MAC address associated with the wireless connection, and a different one associated with its Ethernet connection (if it has one). The MAC address can be used to track the computer if it’s connected to the internet. You can find instructions for determining the MAC address of many different types of devices at http://www.wikihow.com/Find-the-MAC-Address-of-Your-Computer.

If you need help finding your personal computer’s MAC addresses, the Student Diagnostic Center on the 3rd floor of the Library can help.

IT maintains a record of all Hampshire-owned computer MAC addresses.

Keep your Files Backed Up
Losing your computer can be devastating, but losing your files can be irrecoverable. Keep your files backed up either on an external drive or on a cloud service. If you use an external drive to backup, always store it separately from your computer–you don’t want it to be stolen with your computer.

What to do if your Computer is Stolen
If your Hampshire-owned computer is stolen from campus, notify Campus Police immediately; if it is stolen from off campus, call the local police. In either case it is helpful for IT to be immediately notified as well, at 413.559.5418 or helpdesk@hampshire.edu. We can provide the MAC address and serial number if needed.

If your personal computer is stolen from campus, notify campus police as soon as you realize it. If you have a record of your serial number and MAC addresses, provide them to the police. If you have taken our advice and set up a device tracker, check to see if you can locate your device, and consider other options as allowed by the tracker–for instance, to play an alarm or erase the drive.