Auto-Save Coming to TheHub

What is auto-save?

Auto-save is a feature you’re probably used to from Google Docs and other online sites where the content of your pages is automatically saved every 5 seconds or so, even without having to click the “Save” or “Submit” button.   We’ve been meaning to introduce this to TheHub for awhile now, and finally had the resources to make this happen.

What is (and isn’t) saved on TheHub?

It’s important to understand what is and is not automatically saved on TheHub.  In short, TheHub is not automatically saving the entire form – there are a long list of reasons why this isn’t possible.  What is auto-saved is all the large text blocks – those large rectangles you enter several sentences or paragraphs into.  Student examples include your Draft Div II and III contracts (eg: “Overview”, “Goals”, “Plan”, “Multiple Cultural Perspectives”, “Advanced Learning Activities”, etc).  Faculty examples include Final Course Evaluations (eg: “Narrative”, “Cumulative Skills”, “Optional Comments”, etc).

It is important to understand that you must click “Save” or “Submit” on every form to ensure the entire contents are saved.  Auto-save will only save the large text blocks and nothing else.

When is this starting?

Auto-save will be introduced on TheHub at the start of Spring Semester, around January 20, 2016.

How do I know it’s working?

Under each text block, you will now see a message such as:

Last saved at 02/14/2016 at 9:14:15PM

These will automatically update each 5-10 seconds as you type.  If you make no changes to the content nothing will change.  For example, this is a sample from a course evaluation:

TheHub Auto Save

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Moodle News for 2016

Great things await us in 2016, at least in the realm of Moodle! Here are some updates on new features you may want to put to use next semester.

Importing Course Materials: Yes, You Can

Faculty can now import materials from one course to another without getting an error message! Yeah! Here’s how. We’re still happy to do it for you, too, just let us know.

import

Home is Where the Hamp Is

Using our new “set default home” feature in the log in block will save you a few clicks each time you log in. Setting a default home makes Moodle remember that you are from Hampshire, and will take you right to the Hampshire log in screen instead of first having to choose Hampshire from a list. Just think of all the time you will save!

default_home

 

Where am I? What day is it? Now you can find out, thanks to Moodle!

In courses using the default class-by-date format, Moodle will now automatically highlight (in beige) the sections nearest to the current date. This way you can see at a glance where you are in the course and in the semester.

This particular feature was developed by our student web programmer, Andy Zito, and lays the ground work for further improvements to our Moodle formats! Thanks Andy!!!Highlighted Sections

Collapsed Topics: Give Your Moodle a Makeover

Is the “scroll-of-death” in Moodle driving you crazy? The new-ish collapsed topic format makes your course more navigable. You can even use it in combination with individual dates for each class meeting. Find out more about it here.

collapsed topics

Many thanks to our new web programmer Kevin Williarty who joined us in 2015 and made many of these improvements possible. Also big thanks to our student web programmer Andy!!

 As always if you need Moodle help or have any questions please email moodle@hampshire.edu.

Tech Tip Extra: Unplug for the Holidays

It’s always a good idea to unplug electronics before heading off on an extended break. This will save electricity and protect devices from power surges should the power go off and back on again during the break.

We have seen printers as well as computers and monitors fail from power surges. If you’re the last one to leave the office before break, take a look around and see what is left on or plugged in; write a note to remind yourself or a colleague to plug them back in in 2016.

Have a wonderful break!

Privacy of Records

What is this?

Students’ privacy and how the college handles FERPA  is very important. Central Records has had a Privacy of Records form on TheHub for many years now and encourages students to complete this form to ensure their preferences are honored. These preference include if/when the college can speak to your parent(s) or guardian(s) about aspects of your work at Hampshire.

Starting in January 2016 students will be required to update the Privacy of Records form once per academic year (an academic year runs from June 1 through May 30).

Why is it changing?

In order to be in compliance with the ever-changing rules around FERPA the US Department of Education (DOE) requires colleges to notify students of their rights annually.  In order to have the most accurate and up-to-date information on your preferences, we are requiring students to update their preferences annually.

What is affected?

When you use TheHub and attempt to access any of the following forms:

  • e-Checkin
  • Search and Register
  • Register and Drop

a check is performed to see if/when you last filled out the Privacy of Records form.  If you completed that form anytime after June 1st, you’ll get the page you expect. If you have not completed the Privacy of Records form since June 1st then you will be automatically redirected to the Privacy of Records form.  Upon completion of the form, you’ll be taken to your original destination.

Questions?

If you have questions about the policy, you should contact CentralRecords@hampshire.edu.  If you have questions around technical issues on TheHub, you should contact TheHub@hampshire.edu

My Most Common Question of 2015

This could just as easily be titled “My Most Common Question of 2014”, or 2013…really back several years! Read on to find out what it is.

And the Winner is…
By far the most frequent question I get* is “Why will my phone receive email but not send it?” As soon as someone says, “My phone won’t send email,” I have a pretty good shot of knowing two things about them: they have an iPhone and they just changed their Hampshire password.

If you have an iPhone that receives your Hampshire email but doesn’t send it, and you recently changed your password, the problem is that you have to update your password for both incoming and outgoing mail. Unfortunately, the outgoing password is buried down a couple of levels in the interface. I hope that someday Apple will redesign this setting, but in the meantime here’s what you can do to fix it:

  1. On your iPhone open up Settings.
  2. Select “Mail, Contacts, Calendars.”
  3. Find and select your Hampshire email account.
  4. Select your account again in the “IMAP” section.
  5. If you are receiving email without problem then your Incoming Mail Server Password is correct, and you should look below that for the Outgoing Mail Server. Select “SMTP.”
  6. If you are presented with a list of servers, select the Primary Server at the top of the page, which should be “smtp.hampshire.edu.”
  7. In the Password field on this page enter your new password. While you’re here, doublecheck that your username is your Hampshire username. Other settings should be: Host Name “smtp.hampshire.edu”; Use SSL On; Authentication Password; and Server Port 587.
  8. Back your way out with Done/Account/Done at the top of the page and you should be all set to send email.

The Runner Up…
The second most frequent question I get is “Why doesn’t VPN work on my PC?” VPN setup is complicated, and we compounded the issue by having instructions that appeared to end before all of the steps had been completed. You can find the updated instructions at https://intranet.hampshire.edu/vpn .

*To be perfectly honest the most common question I get from faculty & staff is “When am I due for a new computer?”, but that doesn’t lend itself well to a Tech Tip.

Malware on Mac

We have been seeing more and more malware on Mac computers. Luckily it is usually pretty easy to get rid of, and you can even do it yourself.

If your browser has been hijacked by popups and rogue search engines, or your Mac spends more time showing you a spinning rainbow than letting you type, there are a couple of tools that can help.

Check which Version of the System You Are Running
You will need to know what version of OS X you are running before you can download helper tools. From the Apple menu select “About This Mac” and make a note of the version number.

Malware Help for OS X 10.8 or later
If your computer is running OS X 10.8 or later, download the free Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Mac and then use it to scan your computer. Have it remove any malware that it finds, and reboot if instructed.

Malware Help for OS X 10.6 and Later
ClamXav is available as a free 30-day trial and will work on system 10.6 and later. It is a good tool, it’s just a little slower than Malwarebytes. One note about using it: before scanning, use ClamXav/Preferences/Quarantine to set up a quarantine folder–otherwise you will have to run the scan a second time to actually remove any infection.

Realtime Scanning
Both of these programs have paid versions that will scan your computer as you use it to guard against malware being installed. We do not generally recommend this on Mac’s because there is a trade-off of computer efficiency that we do not think is yet outweighed by the level of threat. However, if you have repeatedly had infections on a computer that you personally own and want to guard against them you may want to consider one of these tools.

If You Still Have Symptoms
If you still need help with your Hampshire computer, put in an IT Ticket or contact the IT Helpdesk at helpdesk@hampshire.edu or 413-559-5418. Personal computers can be brought to the Student Diagnostic Center on the 3rd floor of the Library; note that the SDC will be closed between semesters.

La Vie en Chrome

This piece reflects the personal experience and opinions of Asha Kinney and does not reflect the opinions or recommendations of the Hampshire College IT Department :) .  

This past summer, the “m” key broke off my ancient PC laptop. I was aware that its days were numbered, but this really hammered it home. I was also starting to realize how quaint it was to have all my family photos stored on a local device- yes, they were backed up, but still. I realized it was time to act in a manner befitting an IT professional and get all that stuff into the cloud, one way or the other.

At around the same time, I discovered that through my Marlboro College alum account I had unlimited cloud storage on Google Drive. Giddy up! I proceeded to upload 200 gigs worth of photos and bade farewell to the Dell of yesteryear. However, I still needed a computer to work on. My work Mac was also starting to feel its age. It took about 15 minutes to boot up in the morning, and a day without a spinning beach ball was a very lucky day indeed.

Enter the Chromebook.

A Chromebook is a small, cheap ($200-$300) laptop that is neither Mac nor PC nor Linux but it’s own thing- totally Google, running Chrome OS. The concept is that your electronic life is entirely in the cloud, and nothing is stored on, or run off of, the actual computer. The computer runs a web browser, and that’s about it.

This reliance on cloud services means the computer itself doesn’t have to do much work, and this means there’s not much to go wrong. It’s super fast. It boots up in three seconds. There are no spinning beachballs, ever. Did I mention the $200 part?

Here’s what it’s great for:

  • Email- using Gmail or Webmail or similar web service.
  • Basic productivity stuff using Google Docs/Slides/Spreadsheets. Any basic file in a Microsoft Office format can be imported and worked on just fine. The computer uses your Google Drive as its main file system. Some stuff can be stored locally, but not much.
  • Managing photos, media, music, etc (which can all be stored on Google).
  • Using any other service or site you access through a web browser. This is nothing to sneeze at, as there are even photo editing, page layout/design, and video editing apps now available through web interfaces.

However, there are lots of people for whom a Chromebook will simply not work. Do any of these apply to you? If so, you’re going to hit a wall pretty quickly.

  • You’re wedded to an email client like Apple’s Mail, or Thunderbird.
  • You rely on Adobe products or like to annotate PDF’s.
  • You want to connect to Hampshire’s network printers or file servers.
  • You use the super-advanced features of Microsoft Office programs.
  • You require any specialized software that is not available through a web browser (and/or does not work with the Chrome browser).

Even with these caveats, you can see how the Chromebook is a great choice for the average person doing average stuff. Many higher-ed and K-12 systems are going Google and are giving Chromebooks to their students. The Amherst Regional System just announced their move to Google and subsequent purchase of Chromebook carts for classrooms.  

Does this all mean selling your soul to Google on a personal or institutional level? Yes, yes it does. Increasingly, though, schools and colleges do the math and decide that they simply cannot afford the luxury of NOT going Google. A lone institution would never be able to provide the cutting edge tools and systems that Google does. Similarly, a $200 computer is a huge leveler for students who cannot shell out $2,000 for a shiny new Mac. Thus, it becomes an internal war of conscience between providing your students access to the best possible tools, versus protecting what little privacy they have left. Google makes this choice easier for schools by claiming to protect the privacy of educational accounts, but do they really?

But let’s get back to our little friend, the Chromebook. I spent about six months living very happily with it. It required re-thinking how I did certain work, but I was able to find a way to accomplish most tasks. This is saying a lot given my job as an instructional technologist! When I hit a wall (see list above) I bumped to my Mac.

But then, something happened. I decided to give my Work Mac a fresh start and wipe the hard drive. It perked right up. No more spinning beach balls. And lo and behold, it could do everything I needed to do, without my having to hunt around for the way to do it. I was forced to admit that for me personally, and with my particular job, I really do need a computer that can just do everything, with no limitations or qualifications.

The Chromebook is still great and useful for lots things, but to loosely quote the late, great Queen of Camden: my odds were stacked, and I went back to Mac.