Thunderbird Really, Really Slow?

We’ve seen a few instances lately where Thunderbird has gotten really, really slow on a Mac. We’re not sure if this is a Mac-only problem, so we offer this solution up to anyone who experiences unbearably slow performance in Thunderbird:

  1. In Thunderbird, select Help–>Restart with Add-ons Disabled.
  2. Click “Restart” when prompted.
  3. When it restarts you will have some options presented to you. Check the “Disable all Add-ons” box, and then click on “Make Changes and Restart.”

That should fix it, but if not please feel free to reach out to us at helpdesk@hampshire.edu or 413.559.5418.

Make HDMI your First Choice for Projecting

We’ve outfitted classrooms with projectors that can connect to your computer in several ways: HDMI, Apple TV, and VGA. Sometimes it’s trial and error to get things working, but your best bet for clarity is HDMI. We suggest you start with HDMI and then try the other options if that doesn’t work well for you.

If you don’t have an HDMI port on your computer, check to see if there is an adapter that you can use: we tether them to the HDMI cables. If that doesn’t work out for you, go ahead and try Apple TV or VGA, but don’t expect the same quality of picture.

If you are having trouble with all of the adapters, check the printed instructions in the classroom—sometimes a specific order of connections is important to get things working correctly.

If all else fails, contact information for the Help Desk is posted in each classroom.

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. View details about the Eduroam network .

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 The Hub?
If you are having trouble logging into The Hub 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 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 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 the Intranet. You should also know that to change your password or check your email quota we would only ever send you to password.hampshire.edu. Just remember that web address & 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. To enter an IT ticket go to TheHub.

Looking for Amazing Tech Tips on a Weekly Basis?
Or just need some help falling asleep at night? Watch this space.

Spring Cleaning for your Computer

We get asked quite a lot about how to best clean a computer. Here are some tips to help you keep the shine on without damaging the components.

Cleaning Screens

  • Always turn off and unplug your computer before coming at it with any liquid, including cleaning wipes.
  • Cleaning the screen is best done with a dry microfiber cloth. Some computers come with a cleaning cloth, but you can also use window-cleaning cloths found at many stores.
  • If there are spots on the screen that can’t be cleaned with a dry cloth, water is your next best bet–but never clean a screen when it’s hot. Use a light spray on a cloth, never on the screen, and take care that water doesn’t drip or spray into any crevices in the computer or monitor.
  • If water isn’t doing the trick, you can purchase spray or wipes specifically formulated to clean a computer screen. Again, don’t put anything wet on a hot screen, and don’t let liquid get inside the computer or monitor.
  • With any of these methods, be sure not to apply significant force to the screen. It is possible to break screens, so be careful.

Cleaning Keyboards

  • If you are using an external keyboard, unplug it from the computer before cleaning. If you’re cleaning a laptop keyboard unplug and turn off the computer before cleaning the keyboard.
  • Remove crumbs and debris by gently shaking the keyboard upside down over a waste receptacle.
  • For a more thorough de-crumbing you can use a vacuum with a dusting attachment to try to suck out crumbs.
  • Condensed air is also an option for removing debris from keyboards, but it has to be used carefully to avoid blowing things further under the keys.
  • Most computer manufacturers suggest water for cleaning keyboards. Use a damp (not dripping!) cloth.
  • For tougher cleaning jobs, we often use damp (again, not dripping) wipes to clean keyboards. These are not generally recommended by manufacturers, however, so use care.
  • As a last resort for an external keyboard (not part of a laptop, and not a bluetooth (wireless) keyboard) that has stopped working because of a sticky spill, you can run it through the dishwasher. Make sure you securely tape up any USB or other ports, and turn the drying cycle off before you run it through. After taking it out, turn it upside down for at least two days to ensure that it is completely dry before trying it out. No guarantees, but we have seen it work.

Cleaning a Mouse

  • Unplug the mouse from your computer before cleaning.
  • Older, mechanical mice can get a lot of gunk inside them. To clean:
    1. Turn the mouse upside down and twist the retaining plate to remove it.
    2. Turn it right side up to remove the ball. You can wipe the ball with a damp cloth.
    3. Turn the mouse upside down again, and gently scrape off debris from the rollers inside the ball cavity. The trick is to remove the gunk without allowing it to fall into the circuitry of the mouse. As you scrape it off, periodically turn the mouse right side up and shake it out.
    4. When you’re done de-gunking the rollers, reassemble the mouse and test it out. If necessary, take it apart again to finish the job.
  • For optical mice, a damp cloth on the exterior is all that’s needed.

Cleaning the Case

  • Always shut down and unplug your computer before bringing anything damp or wet near it.
  • You can wipe a computer case with a cloth dampened with water, or a commercial wipe.
  • You can use a damp cloth or wipe for the trackpad, but as with all areas on your computer, be careful around the crevices.

Guarding Against Theft

At this time of year it is important to take precautions against theft of your electronic devices. 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, never leave your computer unattended and unlocked, even for a few minutes. Bring it where you’re going, have a friend hold on to it–or better yet, invest in a lock and anchor it securely to an immovable object

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 Apple–>About this Mac. If you need to know the serial number of your Hampshire-owned computer, IT has a record of it.

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. View instructions for determining the MAC address of many different types of devices. If you need the MAC address of your Hampshire-owned computer, IT has a record of it.

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 computer is stolen from campus, notify campus police as soon as you realize it; if you’re off campus, call the local police. If it is a Hampshire-owned computer, let the IT Help Desk know. 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.

Got Backup?

How devastated would you be if your computer died right now, with no possibility of getting your data off of it? Hard drives and even solid state drives (SSD’s) fail. If you don’t back up your data on a regular basis, make it a priority to get a backup system in place.

If you’ve experienced a data loss due to 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 (Time Machine for Mac or Windows Backup for Windows), or sign up for an online backup system such as Carbonite.

Backup drives are pretty cheap: you can get a terabyte drive for about $60. To make sure you buy one large enough, look at how much space you’re currently using on your computer and buy a drive that holds at least three times that. Once you have a backup plan in place, make sure you use it on a regular basis.

We have backup drives available for purchase through a departmental charge and are happy to help. A 1 Terabyte backup drive (sufficient for the vast majority of users) is $60 and a 2 Terabyte backup drive is $80, and a 3 Terabyte backup 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 a backup drive and starting the backup, make an appointment with an IT Tech through the IT Helpdesk at helpdesk@hampshire.edu.