Monday, July 28, 2014

SU Technology Tips and Tricks by Devon Taylor

Where I'll Be This Week

Monday -
Bowman Building

11:00 - 1:00 Room 212

Wednesday -
Cork Street

11:00 - 1:00 PT Conference Room
 
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Good Morning Everyone,

I have great information today regarding a few new features and changes to Google Drive as well as a time saver for those who use multiple pivot tables in Excel. If you have any questions, let me know!

SU Tips and Tricks

Separate Pages for Docs, Sheets & Slides
With this most recent update, Google has made it extremely easy to find your Drive documents. You can now go to separate websites to access all your Docs, Sheets and Slides. Looking for that spreadsheet from last week? Go to the Sheets page and see only your sheets. That presentation from a month ago? It can be found on the Slides page! Check out the links below and see for yourself how fast it is to find what you are looking for with the new document specific sites.
www.google.com/docs
www.google.com/sheets
www.google.com/slides
 
Google Sheets Filter Views
Have a spreadsheet of data that you have to manipulate often?  You can now save multiple filters into "Filter Views".  This makes frequent slicing and dicing of your data much faster and easier!  Check out the link to learn more and see how you can create filter views in Google Sheets!
 
Pivot tables are a great way to extract information from large sets of data you have in Excel, but sometime you need to see more than one thing at a time.  Instead of starting from scratch every time you need another pivot table, you can clone your pivot table and then make the changes you need.  This also keeps both tables linked to the same set of data.  Check out the link for a quick overview of how save time by cloning your pivot tables.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

James Randall: Awesome Guy & HPB's Technology Support Provider


If you frequent HPB, you've almost certainly seen James moving with haste from one area to another. If you have never stopped to talk to him, it's possible that you don't exactly know what James does. In brevity, James is IC's go to guy at HPB, but he also works heavily with Pharmacy's DTE (Deivision of Technology in Education) group.

When you do encounter James, make sure to stop him and introduce yourself. In all honesty, it would be difficult to find a more friendly character in any of SU's campuses. Personally, when I was brand new to IC, I was sent to HPB to begin assisting their users with Blackboard related questions when I had begin to communicate with James more frequently. Every step of the way, he offered any kind of a assistance I might need in order to make sure HPB users were properly taken care of, and I think that's the exact mentality somebody should have when they hold a position like James's. 

Should you have been following this blog series in the past, you would know that many of the questions have been the same, that is because I want these blogs to be consistent, and I want my coworkers to have the opportunity to be prepared. James, being incredibly prepared almost immediately emailed his responses to my questions in an email. I thought that was a particularly efficient and savvy idea.  Here is what he had to say in response to my questions:

Q: Would you mind telling me a little about yourself?
A: I'm from New Orleans, LA, and I have been working in technology since 1992. I started to work in technology for a company that manufactured large-scale blueprint scanners. back then, computers were considerably more sparse tha
n they are today. Computer parts were expensive, and repair facilities were almost entirely non-existent, so we learned to repair computers and their components ourselves to save the company money.

Q: What hobbies do you have when your not at HPB?
A: I am the Cub Master of Pack 1 in Winchester. I enjoy scouting. Also, I enjoy cooking. Both are incredibly rewarding, scouting because making an impact in a kid's life is great, and cooking, well, I like to eat awesome food!

Q: James, what is your favorite type of music?
A: Big Band, Blues, 70's and early 80's punk, and anything by Captain and Tennille

Q: Are you an animal lover?
A: I love animals -- well... I'm not a huge fan of cats. My favorite animal was our pig, Penelope.

Q: What is your most memorable experience at SU thus far?
A: I suppose this past graduation, it was really memorable for me. I've met a lot of characters at SU though, I have a lot of fond memories of each of them.

Q: What does a typical work day in your life consist of?
A: I'm in by 7:30a, that's when I check on some techie stuff and servers, make a walk through to make sure anybody who needs assistance is receiving the help they need. I'll check and answer a lot of emails. A lot of stuff happens here in a day.

Q: What are the primary systems that you deal with on a day-to-day basis?
A: I'm responsible for the health of the HPB network and its servers. I also support the DTE (Division of Technology in Education) group with any issues that they may have related to the network and other technologies. I'm also part of the Pharmacy Technology Committee.

Q: What do you do that directly affects the end users of Shenandoah University?
A: I support every faculty and staff member at HPB by keeping the network up and running. I also support their computers, distance learning technologies, video conferencing, and any other technological issue that they may have.

Q: If you disappeared into an extra-dimensional pocket for an extended period of time, and nobody took over your job responsibilities, what would happen after a six month period of time?
A: I document what I do so that anything I do can be duplicated, should I slip into an extra-dimensional pocket. That way, the users at HPB will never be without the help they need!

Q: If you could give end user one quick pro-tip regarding the technology that you work with and support, what would it be?
A: You have three DIFFERENT passwords at SU.  Your Gmail, SUNet (Bb, WebAdvisor..etc), and your MacBook are all different. Your SUNet password will need to be changed every 180 days, but remember that does not affect your Google or MacBook!

Like I said previously, seek James out should you find yourself needing some tech assistance at HPB. He's a superb guy, and if he can help you, he will! That's just how he is, and that's why he's a valuable asset to IC and Shenandoah University. If you need to contact James call 540.678.4348 or email him at jrandal2@su.edu.


Paul Messina: NVC's Tech Pro

The legend, Paul Messina
Paul Messina is one of those guys that you can always rely on. You rely on him not just because he knows what he is doing, but because he has the type of personality that gets things done. When he comes to work, he works, and then, after a long day, he eventually goes home.

For example, here is a list of things that I would not be surprised if Paul would do, even off the clock, if he had the right tools, worked in different industries, and was in the right time period:

· Construct an awesome Pine wood derby car, and then donate it to kids in need of awesome Pine wood derby cars
· Be a pretty darn good pirate captain
· Assist, in a meaningful capacity, with the American Revolution  
· Remove a downed tree from a country road so that the local folk can pass without worry or delay

Point being, Paul does a lot of helpful stuff around here, and when you put him in tricky situations, he still gets the job done right.

Recently, Paul took up permanent work residence at SU's NVC campus. There, he will be the front line guy who will, reliably, help students, staff, and faculty with whatever technological issues they may have. 

Just before BbWorld2014, I sat down with Paul over a Google Hangout session and ask him some interview questions so that you can get to understand the man behind all that good tech support a little better.

Q: Would you mind telling me a little about yourself?
A: I was born in Hagerstown, Maryland, but I was raised in Greencastle, Pennsylvania. I went to a year of college at Penn. State university, but after my first year I started working. I started working in the printing industry, and that's where I stayed for about 20 years. I bounced around to a few different companies in the Hagerstown area for awhile, but when I was 23 I moved down to this area, and began working at Berryville graphics where I worked for 15 years. Oddly enough, my first job title was "Stripper." Get your head out of the gutter, that's what they called the people who were manually film stripping. After a year or so, they opened up an electronic desktop position, I applied, and then got the job. That job is where I got a lot of my computer skills, most of which were mostly self taught. 

Q: How'd you get to SU?
A: I was working at FedEx at the time because I had ceased working with Berryville Graphics, and I had wanted to work at SU for a number of years. The job security here is great, and after being in the printing industry for so long, I was ready to get a more stable job. I applied for a few positions before I landed my job at the Help Desk. Like I said though, something about SU always interested me, and I like being here.

Q: How long have you been working in technology?
A: I've been working with technology for just about 20 years at this point.

Q: What hobbies do you have outside of work?
A: My family takes up a lot of my free time, I have two small children a 6 and 3 year old. When I get a chance, I love to fish. I'm a mediocre to decent guitar player. Actually, I'd say I'm a jack of all trades but a master of none.

Q: Do you have a favorite type of music?
A: That's funny you ask because I looked at your list of questions, and this one seemed like it was going to be the hardest for me to answer. I have a broad range of interests in music; I'll listen to anything from Motorhead to Frank Sinatra. Basically, I listen to everything except rap (unless it is old rap: i.e. RunDMC, Tone Loc).

Q: What's your most memorable experience at SU thus far?
A: During one of our iMLearning distributions we had an earthquake. At the time, we had some of the baseball players behind us helping out, and I thought that maybe they were fooling around, but the floor kept shaking and then somebody started talking about an earthquake. That was an interesting day.

Q: What does a typical work day in your life consist of?
A: I don't think there are ever any typical work days. Here (NVC), I'm somewhat of a jack of all trades. I might have to be working on a laptop, a Smart Board, VTC equipment, software questions from students, and installing a few network patches if need be. I will help with just about anybody with anything here (NVC), if needed.

Q: If you disappeared into an extra-dimensional pocket for an extended period of time, and nobody took over your job responsibilities, what would happen after six months?
A: I don't think it would take six months for people to notice that there was a need for some assistance up here. It would only take a few days before there was a big enough problem that would require some hands on work. It's also kind of fun to imagine our staff, students, and faculty hanging out by the remote help desk kiosk seeking help.

Q: If you could give end users one quick pro-tip regarding the technology that you use and support on a day to day basis, what would it be?
A: Everybody needs patience, especially when you are learning something new. Nobody expects you to be an expert right of the bat! Learning takes time, but with repetition you can get comfortable with what you're doing. Oh, and you haven't broken anything until you've hit "save!"
Like I said before, Paul is good at what he does. If you are a NVC user, make sure to get familiar with Paul because, regardless of your technological issue, he's going to be able to help you out. If you need Paul, you can reach him at 571-223-0816 or email him at pmessina@su.edu 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Excitement, Blackboard Style

As you know, I've just been to Blackboard world, and that means I've got some pretty cool information to share with you. Relatively soon, everybody who uses Bb  is going to be using a much more streamlined Bb experience.

What awesome things are coming down the pipe for us SU Bb users? 
Hold on to your swimsuits because we're about to dive into some fresh user-interface waters, and it's going to be stunning. 

Posted on Bb's Twitter (@Blackboard) During the Day 2 Keynote
Though it is true that every user will soon be positively affected by a more modern Bb U.I.(user interface), perhaps those who will benefit the most from the changes will be professors. They get to look forward to moderating much more streamlined, browser based, Bb Collaborate sessions. Additionally, professors will also be able to use a brand new app called Bb Grader (which does exactly what the name implies, it allows professors to grade their Bb courses via their mobile devices). 

The soon to be released Grader app. Posted by @SilvaEric1
Oh, did I forget to mention that Blackboard Learn is getting an entirely new look and feel? The new Bb Learn will be coded in such a way that you can resize the browser window in any way you see fit allowing for a seamless, modern, and attractive Blackboard experience regardless of window size or device.

Sneak peak at the new Bb Learn interface posted by @IDLAGravette
As you can see from these screenshots that I borrowed from twitter (if you're a twitter junky, check out #BbWorld14), Bb is doubling down on modernizing their user interface. From everything I can tell, they are making incredibly smart choices with their products, and I think SU users are going to enjoy the changes.

#Excited

SU Technology Tips and Tricks by Devon Taylor

Where I'll Be This Week

Monday -
Bowman Building

11:00 - 1:00 Room 212

Wednesday -
Cork Street

11:00 - 1:00 PT Conference Room

Thursday -
Wilkins Building 

11:00 - 1:00 Conference Room

Halpin-Harrison Hall
2:30 - 4:30 Room 140

Friday -
Health Professions Building 

11:00 - 1:00 In Front of Library
 
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Good Morning Everyone,

Hope that you all had a great weekend!  Today I've got information on the new Google Alerts, a great Gmail Chrome extension and an extremely easy way to create animated GIF's.
If you have any questions, let me know!

SU Tips and Tricks

New Google Alerts Interface
Google Alerts is one of the best ways to get notified when new things appear on the internet. I've got alerts set for my name, SU, and other topics that I am interested in.  Anytime there is a new article/website/posting anywhere on the web that mentions my alerts, I get an email notification. Creating alerts has never been easier! Check out the new Google Alerts and see for yourself.
Checker Plus for Gmail
Looking for a handy way to keep tabs on your email without actually going to your inbox? This Chrome Extension can help you do that and lots more. Get notified of new emails, delete or archive on the fly, email directly from websites and much more!  Check out the link for more information on this time-saving tool.
GIF's can be a useful tool when trying to provide demonstrations of short tasks. Now, the process of creating GIF's just got even easier by using SnagIt Chrome App.  Anytime you create a video using SnagIt that is under 20 seconds, you now have the option to save the file as a GIF.  Go and install the App and give it a try for yourself.
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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bb World 2014


What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, unless of course, you are at Bb World 2014

BbWorld is Blackboard's yearly conference that is loaded with product innovations, ideas, interesting uses presentations, vendors, networking events, and just about anything you can think of that is Bb related. This year, BbWorld 2014 was held in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The theme of BbWorld 2014 was all about reimagining, revisiting, and redesigning, not just the product, but education as a whole, and was a lot of dedication to the idea of making education more 'learner-centric.'

Each day of the conference, we have had amazing keynote speakers that inspired and captivated the audience to improve education in different ways:
CEO of Bb Inc., Jay Bhatt, delivers his Day 2 keynote speech
  •  Day 1: Joi Ito discussed disrupting and defying conventional education that, more often than not, fail to reach leaners effectively. Joi is, unquestionably, a world leader in innovative education, as he is the director of MIT's Media Lab, and hearing him speak about how he views education was incredibly thought provoking. My big takeaway out of the speech is that learning is what you do, and education is what others do to you.That, and, clearly the MIT Media Lab is pretty awesome.
  • Day 2: Jay Bhatt presented the aims and focus of Bb Inc. for the coming year. He brought up several product designers to talk about some exciting changes that will be coming to the Bb Learn, and Bb Collaborate products (there were other products that were discussed, but many of them were focused towards K-12 markets)
  • Day 3: Geoffrey Canada left the room speechless as he discussed obstacles, difficulties, and outright flaws of the US education system. At the end of his speech, everybody in the room felt like they should do more to impact the learners around them. 
Sam Houston State University's, Jacob Spradlin, teaches the audience about one approach for training faculty with Bb
Between keynote speeches there were tons of breakout sessions that highlighted interesting uses within the Blackboard community.  These sessions were incredibly diverse, and encompassed just about every possible Bb use you could think of, and then some.

A sneak peak at the vendor area before the day begins
Though, if you just went to the breakout sessions, and the keynote speeches, you would be missing out on some of the best that Bb world had to offer because you wouldn't be spending valuable time networking with some of the pillars of the Bb community, visiting the Bb Usability lab (which frequents SU) to see and provide feedback for some of Bb's upcoming releases, and speaking with vendors who have incredible solutions to some of ed-tech's hurdles.

 Oh, and if you're lucky, you might just find yourself meeting the CEO and taking a, shameless, selfie with him...






Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tech Tips and Tricks

Where I'll Be This Week

Monday -
Bowman Building

11:00 - 1:00 - Room 212

Tuesday -
Feltner Building

11:00 - 1:00 - Third Floor


Wednesday -
Cork Street

11:00 - 1:00 - PT Conference Room

Thursday -
Wilkins Building 

11:00 - 1:00 - Conference Room


Friday -
Health Professions Building 

11:00 - 1:00 - In Front of Library
 
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BB Info

Good Morning Everyone,

This week I've got lots of changes to Google Drive including MS Office file editing, layout changes, and updates to the mobile apps.
If you have any questions, let me know!

SU Tips and Tricks

Google Drive Changes
If you haven't seen the new Google Drive yet, you soon will.  Google Drive has updated on the web and on mobile with a cleaner layout and new features. There is now easier access to sharing and moving files as well as new sorting and viewing options.  Check out the link for more information.
Edit Office Files Without Office
This is the update you have been waiting for! You can now edit office documents right within Google Drive.  No more downloading and uploading your files. You can just make the changes you need to make and go on with you day! Click the link to install the Chrome extension that makes the magic happen!
 
Updates to Drive Apps on iOS & Android
The Google Drive apps were recently updated with a lot new features that can come in pretty handy. Easier sharing options, viewing modes and separate apps for Docs, Sheets, and Slides! Download the new apps and experience the new Drive for yourself.  Click the link for more information on whats new.
Copyright © 2014 Shenandoah University, All rights reserved.
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