Hampshire’s Successful Migration to Drupal

drupliconHampshire’s website, www.hampshire.edu, was moved over to the Drupal platform last Tuesday, July 8. Prior to this move, content authors had been using RedDot content management system to edit content on the website. We made the decision to switch last year and we chose Drupal for a number of reasons.

Read more about the decision to move to Drupal »

In addition to working on other projects, Hampshire IT and communications staff have worked hard over the last year to learn Drupal, build a Drupal installation to fit our needs, and prepare the website content to be moved automatically into this new system. We worked with Drupal experts from Palantir.net to help guide us in this process, and we also received some great advice from our colleagues at Mt Holyoke who went through a similar migration process in the past.

What does success look like?

The website looks almost exactly the same! The plan was to implement our existing design in Drupal, and that’s what we did.

Did anything change?

The biggest change is that we were able to retrofit our existing design to be somewhat responsive. This means that the website should be easier to use on devices like mobile phones, which is a big deal because mobile web traffic just keeps increasing over time.

The other big change is for our content authors. Everyone updating content on the website needed to be trained on Drupal. We are still in the process of training content authors, but many staff who have already been trained have indicated that they like the new editing interface that Drupal has to offer.

What does the future look like?

Over the next couple months we will be working on changing the design of the website a bit to reflect more modern web standards. This will not be a big redesign by any means, but we will be implementing some changes like wider page content and being able to display more content on the homepage.

Drupal has an abundance of features, some of which allow for content to be displayed on multiple pages, and in different ways, in an efficient manner. We will also be working on setting up these mechanisms to make it easier for our content authors to display information on the website in more visually appealing ways.

There will likely be a large redesign of the website in the future, which will include a cohesive process of discussion and organization around Hampshire’s identity and communication strategy. Conversations are beginning to happen around what this process might entail, but a project has not yet been put into action on this front.

Have any questions, comments, or concerns?

Send them to drupal@hampshire.edu.

Tech Tip of the Week: The Demise of Windows XP

On Tuesday, April 8, Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP, meaning no more updates to plug security holes. As time goes on computers running XP will become more and more insecure.

About Windows Operating Systems
Windows XP is a Microsoft operating system for PC’s that was released in 2001. In 2007 Microsoft released Windows Vista, which was intended to take over as the standard PC operating system. Vista was not generally well received, and many users continued to use XP; here at Hampshire we decided to skip deploying Vista and held out for its successor, Windows 7, released in 2009. The most current operating syste from Microsoft is Windows 8, but that is seeing a slow adoption rate because of its significant changes to the user interface.

Why XP is Still Out There after 13 Years
Windows 7 is generally well regarded, and was adopted by many PC users. Despite this enthusiasm, it did have some barriers to adoption: the system requirements–it runs best with at least 2 GB of RAM–and its cost–often more than $100. It’s also not a simple upgrade–you have to re-install any programs you have on the computer, which means it takes several hours to complete.

What’s Changing…
…or not changing, to be precise. Up until now, Microsoft has kept sending out updates to plug security holes in XP as they’ve been discovered; on April 8 of this year the last update was released. From now on Microsoft will release no security updates for Windows XP to the general public.

There is an exception to this–Microsoft is providing a paid update service to some critical use customers (did you know that 95% of ATM’s were running XP just before April 8?)–but for regular old users there will be no more updates.

How to Tell if your Computer is Running Windows XP
To check whether your PC has Windows XP, right-click on the Computer icon on your desktop or in the Start Menu, and choose “Properties.” A window will come up that will tell you what operating system you’re running.

What this Means for You
If you’re still running Windows XP on a computer, it will become less and less secure as time goes on. If it’s at all possible, it’s time to upgrade your computer to Windows 7 or Windows 8. If that’s impossible or impractical for you, take steps to make sure that you keep it as secure as possible:

  • Don’t use it for any transactions that you need to keep secure. It will become vulnerable to attacks that can steal passwords and other personal information.
  • Keep your antivirus software up to date and always running. This isn’t going to solve every problem, but it will definitely help.
  • Don’t use Internet Explorer as your browser. Choose Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.
  • When you don’t need to be connected to the internet, disconnect. That means turn off your wireless access (often there’s a switch on the side of a laptop as well as the option to turn off wireless through software), and unplug any Ethernet cable that’s connected. You can be sure there will be malware bots trolling the internet looking for XP computers to infect.

What IT is Doing About the Remaining XP Computers
We’ve been migrating users to Windows 7 over the past several years. There are still a few computers out there running XP that we’re actively scheduling for upgrades. We will be contacting everyone we’re aware of who has a Hampshire computer running Windows XP; if you don’t hear from us in the next week and are running XP, please let us know by emailing helpdesk@hampshire.edu.

Important Security Update to Some Apple Devices

Apple has discovered a major security issue and has released a fix. Not all Apple devices will be affected, but if you have an iPhone, an iPad, or an Apple computer running the very latest Mac OS 10.9 (Mavericks), you should install any pending system updates as soon as possible.

For iPhones and iPads: From the home screen, go into “Settings” and then “General.” Select “Software Update,” and if there is an update, download and install it.

For Apple computers: First check your OS under the Apple menu, then “About This Mac.”

For OS 10.9.0 and up: The update has not yet been released, but is expected in the near future. Click on “Software Update…” under the OS X Version and if there are any updates, download and install them. If you are not seeing an update, please be sure to try again another day.

For OS 10.8.x and lower, you are not affected by this security issue, but should still keep up with updates: Click on “Software Update…” under the OS X Version. Do NOT click on the OS X Mavericks Free Upgrade. If you see any UPDATES, click on and install them.

Remember, it is important to keep up with minor updates on all your devices, especially ones that are security related. With major upgrades like Mac OS 10.8 to Mac OS 10.9 or Windows 7 to Windows 8, it is better to wait a while for stability and compatibility reasons. For these reasons, we do not recommend upgrading to 10.9 (Mavericks) at this time.

If you have any questions or problems, please contact the IT help desk, helpdesk@hampshire.edu or your school support specialist.

Tech Tip of the Week: Don’t use Adobe Acrobat as your Default PDF Reader

There are lots of free ways to view PDF’s, including Adobe Reader and Apple Preview (on the Mac). Adobe Acrobat is licensed software that is overpowered for just reading PDF’s.

There’s often confusion about the difference between Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat. Reader is a PDF viewer, which allows you to read PDF’s on your screen, fill out PDF forms on your computer (assuming that feature has been built into the PDF), and print out PDF’s. Acrobat goes much further, and is really a tool for creating PDF’s.

Our Adobe Acrobat license allows a limited number of people to use the software concurrently. On the other hand, anyone can use Adobe Reader and Apple Preview for free. If you use Acrobat when you don’t really need all that power, you may be blocking out someone who needs the full-featured product.

If Acrobat asks you, do not allow it to be the default, and indicate that you don’t want to be asked about it again. Then, if you really need it in a specific situation, open Acrobat directly from your Start Menu or Application folder.

Excel Workshop Series Starting Next Week

ExcelEssential Excel Refresher
Mac – December 4, 2013 – 11 a.m.
Windows – December 6, 2013 – 10 a.m.

These workshops cover the basic concepts of using an Excel workbook for organizing data and doing simple calculations. Great for an introduction or refresher, and especially good if you want to get on sure footing for the more advanced workshops in January.

Excel Formulas and Functions 
Mac – January 8, 2014 – 10 a.m.
Windows – January 10, 2014 – 10 a.m.

Get a good handle on some of Excel’s more useful features. We guarantee that at least one thing in this class will prove a time-saver for you.

Learn how to:

  • Import data from a text file
  • Use Filters to sort and limit your view of your data
  • Have Excel add automatic subtotals
  • Copy or re-use a formula
  • Have that copied formula do what you actually want it to: learn about absolute vs relative cell references.
  • Use conditional formatting to have cells with certain values automatically look the same.
  • Use Functions to quickly answer complicated questions like “How many students do we have from Connecticut, and how many of them live in Dakin?” or “How many orders did I place that were over $500 between July and October of last year?”
  • Split text in one cell into two cells (for example, separate out first & last names), and combine text in two cells into one cell.

Excel Pivot Tables 
Mac – January 16, 2014 – 10 a.m.
Windows – January 17, 2014 – 10 a.m.

Q: What are pivot tables?
A: Tools in Excel that automatically summarize your data. They let you see the “big picture” and are easily adjustable to provide different ways of looking at your data.

Q: Why would I care about them?
A: Because they allow you to answer complicated questions in a snap. Quick: How many orders did you place with Staples last year? And what was the total of those orders? And how many orders per month did you place? And what was the average per month of those orders?

If you have information you want your data to provide, pivot tables will give it to you quickly and easily. They will save you time, and they just might change your life!

RSVP to asaklad@hampshire.edu

A Look at iOS 7

A major update to the operating system running on iPads and iPhones was released yesterday. It’s called iOS 7 and contains some major changes in design and function. Here’s a quick look at the new features!

Disclaimer: While we haven’t come across any major problems with iOS 7, we’re not recommending everyone rush to update. History tells us that updates like this never work 100% perfectly! So update at your own risk.