Reminders for Finals Week

Finals week is almost upon us and that means late nights, final projects, and stressful tests. As you already know, thinking ahead is the best way to save yourself from headaches and last-minute technical issues. Our Helpdesk and Media Services teams will be operating at regular capacities next week, so feel free to call us if you have any problems or questions.

Here are a few tips for making your finals week flow smoothly with Champ Support:

  • Our Helpdesk techs check the status of paper and toners in our printers every morning, but if you notice that a printer is out of supplies, don’t hesitate to call (802-860-2710.)
  • Leave yourself plenty of time to print out an assignment before it’s due. The computer labs and printers can be very congested this week, so avoid waiting to the last minute!
  • You can still rent out loaning pool equipment on finals week, just make sure it’s returned by 5pm on Friday, April 20.

Good luck this week! Finish strong.

Avoiding Catastrophes with Dropbox

Situation #1

Customer: My laptop freezes when I get to my log in screen. I have a paper due in 30 minutes and it’s on there!

Technician: Well, I can’t guarantee anything, but we might be able to pull it out of your computer and possibly fix the computer itself, but it will take a few days. Do you have the paper anywhere else?

Customer (pulling hair out of own head): No! What am I going to do?! (falls to knees) How can I possibly get by?!

Situation #2 

Customer: My laptop is not turning on! It just dies before the log-in screen. I need to get my final paper to class in 30 minutes! Can you get it for me?

Technician: I can’t guarantee anything. Did you back up the paper anywhere else? On a flash drive?

Customer (relieved): Actually, I do use Dropbox. I think it automatically syncs to my School Work folder so maybe it is up there. (smacks forehead lightly) I totally forgot!

Technician: You can access your Dropbox from any computer, so the library should work for now. Or one of the labs. We will do our best with your laptop.

Recently, we’ve had several customers come in to our office in a panic. The one place they have saved their big projects is failing them. Often that place will be in the drive of a broken laptop or within an unresponsive external hard drive.

But guess what? You can store projects on the internet as well. They can live in the digital ether, ready to be retrieved by you from pretty much any device.

The best program for that is Dropbox. It has a simple purpose: you can upload your files (documents, videos, pictures, etc.) to the space reserved for you on the Dropbox servers (where all of these files that are seemingly floating in digital space actually live–in physical server boxes).

Dropbox’s website is simple. You can watch a video introduction or just download the program immediately. Once downloaded, the program essentially creates a Dropbox folder (you pick the location) in your computer where you can drop files and they will sync to your digital Dropbox. You get 2 gigabytes of space for free and can purchase more. Two gigabytes is likely more than you’ll ever need when it comes to essays and word documents. For videos, 2 gigabytes isn’t very much (a standard quality movie can be over 1 gigabyte) but for photos it’s still quite a lot.

And it’s free. All it takes is going to the site, downloading the program, registering and then actively maintaining the Dropbox foler. You can then rest easy because we’re at the point where these kinds of services are reliable. It’s unlikely that Dropbox will one day say “Oh, you can’t get your stuff for like three days.”

Drop Box is easy to use and can be a life saver when something goes wrong. Their slogan is Simplify your life. It makes sense, huh?

Spring Cleaning For Your Computer

With the arrival of spring, our culture changes. We throw open our windows, spend more time outside, and start thinking about spring cleaning. While spring cleaning is usually focused on our homes, why not do the same with our computers?

A computer that is not maintained will gradually become less efficient. Luckily, there are many options for getting your computer back into shape.

Removing Clutter

It’s best to start simple. Computers run a certain number of programs as they start up. Sometimes there can be too many, which can lead to poor performance. A temporary, immediate fix is to manually close open programs you won’t be using but have been opened anyway (for Windows, look to the task bar at the bottom right of your screen. For Macs, it is along the bottom of your screen by default) with a crisp right-click.

Another option is to look at the icons on your desktop. Delete ones you don’t regularly use. Make folders and categorize the icons manually if you have several.

Do you have a bunch of videos, music and documents filling up your desktop? Chances are you do not need such immediate access to them (you likely access them through another program like iTunes) so why not organize them into the Documents, Music and Video folders?

For more thorough cleaning, there are free programs available online. They are optimized to clean only unnecessary files and you can often decide what does and does not get cleaned.

One of the better programs is CCleaner. Piriform, the creator, offers both a Windows and Mac version. The software streamlines many of the aforementioned spring cleaning processes for you, such as configuring what will programs will open on start-up, uninstalling unused programs, and cleaning your computer of unwanted files.

Similar programs are nCleaner and IOBit.

Defragging Your Computer

Defragmentation is a little more complex. Essentially, defragmentation rearranges the files of your computer’s hard drive for quicker access.

CCleaner’s Piriform offers a stand alone program called Defraggler. It is very user-friendly and simple because it’s oriented exclusively towards the process of defragmentation.

Get Physical

Besides running slow, our computers can also get dusty and smudged from frequent use. Here are some tips on cleaning LCD monitors and keyboards.

To clean an LCD monitor screen, make a solution of half vinegar and half distilled water. Spray it onto a soft cloth (like an old t-shirt) and rub your screen in a circular motion. This process will ideally remove smudges and return the sheen to your display. Be sure your computer is off and that you do not put the solution directly onto the screen instead of on the cloth.

Keyboards are treated similarly to any other surface that needs a cleaning. You can use a cotton swab (q-tip) to clean between the keys, removing dust and any stray debris.

Another strategy for keyboards it to acquire canned air and blow between the keys to force any settled debris out. Canned air serves another purpose for computer maintenance: removing dust from fans.

First, locate the vent on your computer (for laptops, it’s usually on the side, and for desktops, there’s a front and back fan on the tower.)

When spraying canned air, make sure the can’s bottom is facing down or else the hazardous substance inside can be sprayed and drastically damage your computer. The can should be sprayed about 5 inches from the vent. A dusty fan risks getting caught on itself and breaking or damaging to adjacent components.

Resources for Cleaning

For further reading on the topics discussed here, check out these links:

Windows PC spring cleaning

Mac PC spring cleaning

Disinfecting an Apple keyboard

In-depth tutorial of keyboard cleaning

Cleaning dust from internal fans

Sorting through ePort: Part 3 of 3

Before break, we covered how to create an ePortfolio and how to add artifacts to the portfolio. We’ll bring the tutorials to a close with information about submitting work to a professor and viewing feedback.

Submitting Work For Assessment

1. After uploading your work to Eport, you must then submit the artifact to your professor. First, click the “Submit” button on the upper right corner of the screen.

2. Type your instructor’s name into the text field and choose the correct name when it appears.

3. Finally, you will see a screen confirming that your assignment has been successfully submitted. This will allow you to double check that the information has been submitted to the correct class and professor.

Viewing Results

1. Once your assignment has been graded, you can log back into ePort to check your results. First, find the “Work” dropdown menu at the top right of the screen. Click on “My Results.”

2. This will bring you to a list of all of your assignments that have been assessed on Eport. Find the correct assignment and click on the “Actions” drop down menu.

3. From there you can view the details of the assessment, which will show scores and comments. You can also view details of the assignment by clicking on the plus sign on the left.

Reserving an Audio Accessory Kit and Field Recorder

Media Services customers wishing to reserve an audio kit may sometimes find that all are currently in use by other customers. In response to this, Media Services now offers audio accessory kits, which are functionally identical to the standard audio kit, except they do not include a field recorder. If customers don’t own a suitable recorder, they can rent one from Media Services in addition to the accessory kit.

The instructions below apply to anyone who has been previously cleared for access to the standard audio kits. Follow them to add an audio accessory kit and field recorder to your rental reservation.

  1. Begin as you normally would when making a reservation rental: log into PIR, set the start and end times of your reservation and then click on Find Resources.
  2. Click on Audio in the left hand menu of resource types. This reveals a sub-menu of resource types.
  3. The Audio Accessory Kit type is located under Audio in PIR.

    The Audio Accessory Kit type is located under Audio in PIR.

    Click on the  Audio Accessory Kit resource type, which will be at the top of the sub-menu under Audio, as shown in the image to the right. The list of available accessory kits will appear in the central pane.

  4. Select one of the accessory kits as you would to add any resource to your reservation.
  5. The Field Recorder resource type under the Audio type.

    The Field Recorder resource type under the Audio type.

    Now, still looking in the Audio type hierarchy, click on Field Recorders. The list of available field recorders will appear in the central pane.

  6. Select a field recorder as you would to add any resource to your reservation.
  7. Add any other resources you wish to include in your reservation.
  8. Finalize your reservation as normal, clicking the Confirm button when done.

If you have further questions about reserving an audio accessory kit or the use of PIR in general, a PIR walkthrough and error list are available to you. They are also accessible as links in the header of the PIR interface if you need to refer to them during the reservation process. Call Champ Support at 802.860.2710 with any questions you may have.

End User Digest

Do you want to turn off the User Digest messages from notifying you when you don’t have any spam? It’s a quick fix that can save you from a clogged up inbox!

How to Turn Off Daily User Digest Messages

  1. Open one of the blank digest messages.
  2. Click on Manage My Account and your account will open in your default web browser.
  3. Click on Profile in the bottom left.
  4. Click on Settings near top left.
  5. Uncheck the box for “Send digest even when I have no messages in my End User Digest”.
  6. Click on Save, you should no longer receive a digest unless you have received spam.