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. A 500 Gigabyte backup drive (sufficient for most users) is $70, a 1 Terabyte backup drive is $80 and a 2 Terabyte backup drive is $150. To buy one of these drives contact Amanda Saklad. Give her a departmental charge number and you can 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.

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30. April 2015 by Kate, School Support Specialist
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Treat your Power Cord Well

We’ve been seeing a lot of damaged Mac laptop power adapters recently. These adapters require a little bit of special care because they’re vulnerable to damage.

Apple Power Adapters are Poorly Designed
Apple is known for its design, but to us the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air power adapter design has always been flawed. The plastic covering frays or shows strain at the juncture at either end of the cord on many adapters. If you use the little power block “feet” to wrap your cord (as intended), it’s easy to damage the cord by wrapping tightly time after time–the power cord becomes kinked and can fray inside or out.

Treating your Power Adapter Well
In our opinion, you really shouldn’t have to think so much about how you treat your power adapter, but if you want to avoid the inconvenience and possible expense of replacing your adapter pay attention to how you treat it. To take the best care of your adapter:

  • Don’t do anything that forces the adapter to bend right at a juncture.
  • Don’t always wrap it in the same exact way.
  • Don’t wrap it tightly.
  • Don’t crimp it by running it through too tight a space.
  • Don’t force it to bend sharply.

When should you replace your power adapter?

  • If your power cord develops any sort of crack or tear in the plastic that covers the wires, replace it right away.
  • If your power adapter doesn’t charge your laptop, first check that there is no debris in the computer port blocking a good connection (we often see tiny metallic fragments that are attracted to the magnetized port). If it still doesn’t charge, have it checked out by a technician.
  • If your power cord is kinked but still works, try changing the way you store it.

If you do need to replace the power cord, Apple will replace it if the problem is caused by normal usage (they don’t cover cat damage, for instance) and it is still under warranty. In order to have it replaced under warranty, both the computer and the power cord must be tested. If you have a Hampshire-owned computer that you think might need a power adapter replacement, contact the IT help desk at helpdesk@hampshire.edu or 413.559.5418 to make an appointment to bring in your computer and adapter; the test takes only a few minutes. If you have a personally-owned computer you should seek out an Apple Authorized Repair Center.

16. April 2015 by Kate, School Support Specialist
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Keeping Mail Under Quota in Crunch Time

If you’re approaching your email quota there are some quick tips to get you under quota. You can skip right to the strategies if you want, or read a little about the quota first.

About Hampshire’s Email Quota
Your email quota is 2.5 GB (gigabytes) of storage. Included in this is everything in your Inbox, any mail folders you have, email trash and mail you’ve sent. If you receive attachments with email those also count towards your quota.

Where to Check How Much of the Quota You’ve Used
If you’re in Webmail, the percentage of quota you’ve used will show up at the bottom of the panel on the left when you’re looking at a list of messages (it disappears when you read a specific message). If you’re in Thunderbird it will show up on the bottom right if you get up to 80% usage. You can also go to https://password.hampshire.edu to see your quota displayed graphically.

In addition to you keeping your eye on your quota, our system monitors quotas as well. As you approach the quota limit you will start receiving warning messages from Hampshire IT.

What Happens when You’re Over Quota
If you do reach quota you will no longer receive new emails until you bring it down under 100%. Note that messages that would put you over quota will never be delivered to your mailbox, so if you’re close to quota and are sent a large message and a small message, the large message could be refused but the small message might be able to be delivered.

While you’re over quota, messages that are sent to you will not be able to get into your inbox, but they’ll keep trying at increasing intervals. Once you bring your quota enough under the limit you will receive the messages that have been waiting to be delivered; note that this might take some time because it depends on the delivery attempt interval.

One side-effect of being at quota level is that you may not be able to store copies of messages that you send. Normally when you send a message a copy is stored in the Sent folder. If you send a message while you’re at quota, you get an error that the message couldn’t be saved in the Sent folder; the message has been sent but you won’ t have a copy of it.

Quick Strategies for Getting Under Quota
Try them all or pick & choose what works for you.

  • Empty your email trash. Right-click (or Control-click on a Mac) on your email trash can and select “Empty” or “Empty Trash.”
  • In Webmail, view more messages at once. Deleting messages is easier if you can see a large list at once. Go to the Settings panel and in Preferences/Mailbox View change the “Rows per page” to the maximum of 200. Make sure to click “Save” to keep the changes.
  • Delete a bunch of messages at once. To delete a group of messages at once, click the first message to delete and then Shift-click (hold down the shift key while clicking) the last message to delete. Then use the “Delete” key on your keyboard to send them in your trash. Now empty your trash to really delete them.
  • Delete messages from your sent mail folder. Email messages that you send are automatically saved in a folder called “Sent.” Select that folder and delete any sent messages you can live without.
  • Get the biggest bang for your buck. Quota issues are often related to the size of attachments in a few messages. To find the biggest files, sort your messages in order of size and tackle the biggest ones. In Webmail, simply click on the “Size” column header twice (the first time it sorts from smallest to largest, and the second click reverses that). Save any important attachments to your computer and then delete the message. In Thunderbird:
    1. If you don’t have a “Size” column header at the top, click on the little icon all the way to the right of the column headings.
    2. Check “Size.”
    3. You can now click on the “Size” column header twice to sort them with the largest messages on top.
    Thunderbird has the option to detach attachments from messages, so that you can keep the email message in your inbox without the attachment. Select the message with the attachment you want to detach, and use the “Message→Attachments→Detach All” menu to save the attachment(s) to disk and keep just the message in your inbox.

    When you’re done, don’t forget to click on the “Date” header (twice) to get your messages sorted by date received again.

  • Use Thunderbird’s Local Folders. If you’re using Thunderbird, you can create “Local Folders”, which store email on your computer instead of the server. The advantage is that anything in a local folder doesn’t use your quota space; the disadvantage is that they exist only on your computer and if you don’t have a backup system in place you could potentially lose the messages. To move messages to local folders:
    1. Right-click (or Control-click on a Mac) the “Local Folders” heading on the left-side panel in Thunderbird, and choose “New Folder…”.
    2. Enter a name for your new folder, such as “2008 Inbox”.
    3. Go back up to your email messages and select the group of messages to transfer to this local folder (remember to use click/shift-click to select a big group of messages).
    4. Right-click (or Control-click on a Mac) somewhere on the selected group of messages, and chose “Move To…” and navigate to the Local Folder you just created.
  • Empty the trash and then compact when you’re done. Empty the trash if you’ve deleted more messages. To make sure you’ve recovered the maximum space possible, it’s also a good idea to compact the Inbox–this happens automatically a lot of the time but it doesn’t hurt to do it explicitly. Right-click (or Control-click on a Mac) on the Inbox and choose “Compact.”

09. April 2015 by Kate, School Support Specialist
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Keep Thunderbird from Littering your Desktop

Thunderbird Mac users are familiar with the annoyance of Thunderbird putting attachments on the desktop when they are opened. Here’s how to put them someplace else.

By default, Thunderbird on the Mac puts a copy of each attachment you open from email on your desktop. This can be annoying if you like to keep your desktop orderly, but luckily it’s easy to change. Windows users don’t have to worry, Thunderbird puts the files in a temporary location by default.

You can change Thunderbird Mac to save attachments to your downloads folder, or you can set it to save it to a temporary folder that will be emptied out the next time you restart your computer.

1. In Thunderbird, select Thunderbird →Preferences.

2. Click on the “Attachments” paper clip icon.

3. On the “Incoming” tab, make sure the “Save files to” field is selected.

4. Click on the “Choose” button.

  • To save files to your “Downloads” folder:
    1. Select “Downloads” from the sidebar or navigate to it and select it.
    2. Select “Open.”
  • To save files to your temp folder:
    1. Press the Command-Shift and G keys all at the same time (the “Command” key is also known as the Apple or Windows key depending on the keyboard you’re using).
    2. Type “/tmp” (no quotes) into the box that comes up.
    3. Press “Go.”
    4. Select “Open.”

5. Close up the Preferences window and you’re all set.

02. April 2015 by Kate, School Support Specialist
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TheHub Tuesday Maintenance Window Ending

Since its inception, TheHub has had a weekly maintenance window on Tuesday evenings from 7-9pm. Effective April, 2015 this will be ending – students, faculty and staff can use TheHub every weekday evening (including Tuesdays) without interruption.  Please note that the maintenance window from 3am-6am each day will remain in effect. Also note that periodic maintenance windows may be announced on an as-needed basis.

History

As with any web application, in order to properly operate TheHub we have to periodically install software updates which cannot be accomplished while users are logged in. Additionally, database tuning and maintenance must be performed regularly – something that previously could not be accomplished with users actively using TheHub. However, improvements in software and database architecture over the last 10 years now allow us to side step some of these hurdles.

We hope you receive this message and are overjoyed at the possibility of using TheHub on Tuesday evenings.

01. April 2015 by Jeff Butera
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Hampshire College IT Seeks Web Programmer

Hampshire College, an independent, innovative liberal arts institution and member of the Five College consortium, is accepting applications for a web programmer in its Information Technology Department.

The web programmer will work as part of a team to develop, implement, and maintain various websites and services for the College. These responsibilities include recommending, installing, maintaining and administering content management software and supporting users in a decentralized content model; and recommending, installing, maintaining and administering learning management software and working with the technology for teaching and learning staff to support instructional technology needs. This position is also responsible for designing and developing new database-driven web applications in addition to maintaining and enhancing existing ones; performing quality assurance testing to ensure cross-platform and cross-browser compatibility; resolving structural problems; and providing technical support for various web sites and services. The successful candidate will work with other IT staff to plan for and resolve issues related to server hardware/software, network security, bandwidth, and overall technical performance of web services.

A bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field is required; or equivalent training and experience. Qualified candidate must have a minimum of three years’ experience in web programming and knowledge of object-oriented web programming languages, query languages, responsive web design, web server software, version control, content management systems, and working on open source software projects; such as HTML5, CSS/Sass, PHP, XML, Javascript/AJAX/JQuery, Python, Java/jsp/servlets, Apache/Tomcat, Git, Drupal, WordPress, and Moodle. A commitment to working with people from diverse backgrounds is essential.

This is a full time, 12-month benefited position. We offer a competitive salary and excellent benefit program. Please submit your cover letter, resume and names/phone numbers of three professional references via our website at https://jobs.hampshire.edu/.

Hampshire College is an equal opportunity institution, committed to diversity in education and employment.

Apply for this position »

27. March 2015 by Applications and Web Services
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Updates vs Upgrades

What’s the difference? What should you install and what should you wait on? The general rule of thumb is to install updates promptly but wait for more information on upgrades.

Updates are relatively minor changes to software, usually addressing security flaws as well as feature enhancements. Upgrades are major revisions–perhaps complete rewrites–of software.

Mac System Updates
On a Mac, updates come through regularly and are often listed as separate items: printer updates, iTunes updates, security updates, etc. These are all minor enhancements to the components of the system. When the core part of the operating system is updated it is given a number in the third place, such as 10.6.8 or 10.8.2. These updates generally require user acceptance, and we recommend that you accept them as they appear.

Windows System Updates
On Windows, updates are also distributed regularly–often weekly. Most Windows computers are set up to automatically install system updates. The numbers associated with the Windows updates aren’t as clear as they are on the Mac. Occasionally one will come through as a “Service Pack” with a number after it (Windows XP Service Pack 2, for instance); these are in between routine updates and upgrades in terms of content, but you should install them.

Mac System Upgrades
An example of an upgrade on the Mac is the Yosemite OS, system 10.10. It’s available for free and is front and center when you look at pending updates. This is a major operating system upgrade and we don’t recommend it for most users. It is bigger and slower than previous systems and unless your computer is new or high end you will notice the decrease in performance. We have also noticed some issues connecting to our servers that we haven’t yet found a work-around for.

Windows System Upgrades
On Windows, Windows 8 is a major upgrade. It’s a completely new interface design that is cumbersome for non-tablet computers. Installing it on an existing computer (going from Windows 7 to Windows 8) is a significant undertaking and we don’t recommend it. There will be some devices that come with Windows 8 installed as the only option, and that’s currently the only situation in which we endorse it.

Other Updates
Finally, there are third party updates to software that you should install, but always pay attention because they may sneak in extra software.

  • Microsoft Office updates are installed automatically with system updates on Windows. On the Mac you it will usually check for updates weekly and bring them to your attention when you start up Word or Excel. You should always install these, though it’s ok to delay it a bit if you’re in a hurry.
  • Java updates are important to install, but Oracle is the worst offender in trying to slip in extra software. As you go through the installation process watch for checkboxes and uncheck any that will install software (you do not want the Ask Toolbar or Ask search engine.
  • It’s fine to update Adobe suite products whenever updates are available, but they are sometimes a little slow to install so pick your time wisely. Adobe Flash should be updated when the updates are offered, but if you have to go to the Adobe website to download the update, PC users should watch for check boxes offering to install extra software. Always uncheck them.
  • It’s good to update Firefox and Thunderbird, but people often find that the updates get stuck and never actually install. If that happens to you, go to https://mozilla.org and find the latest download under the Mozilla/Products tab.

As always, if you run into problems or have further questions please contact the IT help desk at helpdesk@hampshire.edu or 413.559.5418.

26. March 2015 by Kate, School Support Specialist
Categories: TechTips | Comments Off on Updates vs Upgrades

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