Questions of the Week


Here you'll find past Questions of the Week (current Questions of the Week are posted on the main EIT page .)

How do I reset my password?
I'm thinking of buying a smartphone.  What should I consider?
What is VPN and do I need it?
I'm trying to put a computer on the network, but it's not letting me access the Internet.  What's the problem?
I forgot my administrator password.  What do I do?
I'm new to Extension, where can I find information about setting up accounts and getting on mailing lists?
How can I create a strong administrator password that I can remember?
Someone in my office is leaving Extension.  What should they do before they leave?
I received an email that says it's from Iowa State University Information Technology asking for my username and password. Should I send it to them?
I'm going to be upgrading to Windows Vista soon. How can I sync my PDA, which uses the Palm operating system?
I'm getting 'bounced e-mail' or 'Delivery Status Notification (failure)' messages for emails I never sent. Does this mean that someone's hacked my email account? Or my computer?
How can I check my email on the road?
Can't you do something about the spam in my mailbox?
When I try to play back an Adobe Connect recording, why does the audio sound like a bunch of high-pitched chipmunks?
I accidently deleted something in Outlook.  Can I get it back?
Why is my administrator password so very long?
How do I save my archive and personal folders when I'm changing computers?
Where do I go to purchase computers, PDAs, software, projectors and other electronic items?
How can I find out more about new technologies and ways of working electronically?
Why should I care about my Exchange (Outlook) mailbox size? And what can I do to keep it under control?
I pulled an old computer out of the closet and it's not working on the network.  Why?
I'm thinking of getting a Blackberry. What do I need to know to access my email?
I've been told there's a new version of VPN, but I already have VPN installed.  Do I need to upgrade to this new version?
Where can I get the latest information from Extension IT?

How do I reset my password?

  1. Log into your computer with your Net-ID.
  2. Press Ctrl-Alt-Del
  3. Select Change a Password
  4. Type your current password and your new password.
  5. Confirm your new password
  6. Click 'OK' (XP) or --> (Vista)


I’m thinking of buying a smartphone. What should I consider?

Smartphones are phones capable of handling both voice and data. Currently, we
support Windows Mobile 5 and 6 phones , which includes the Palm Treo (make sure it’s the Windows Mobile and not the Palm OS version) and the Motorola Qs. While a number of people have smartphones through the university contract with Verizon . It’s also possible to get Windows Mobile smartphones through US Cellular and other wireless providers.

Currently it is not possible to access our Exchange (email) server with a Blackberry. The central university ITS unit can support Blackberries, but there is a setup and monthly charge for doing so.

What is VPN and do I need it?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network.  It is a software application available through licensing for ISU faculty and staff, which allows your computer to act as if it is on the IASTATE network even when you are out of state or in a hotel or otherwise away from your office.  With VPN running, you can use Outlook/Exchange or access the shared drives just like you can when you're in your office (though the connection may be slower).

We have
detailed instructions for installing VPN .  Read them carefully as each step is important.

Remember when setting up and maintaining VPN:

  • Be sure to download the Cisco VPN Client (when logged in as administrator) to a location that you'll be able to access later when you're logged in as yourself (for example: C:\temp.  If you don't have a C:\temp folder, go ahead and create one before you start the install or as a 'New Folder' when saving the download).
  • Certificates expire.  After a year, you'll be asked to renew.  If you don't remember to renew, you'll likely see an error message: the remote peer is no longer responding .  Details on renewing certificates can be found in Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) with the Iowa State Network.


I’m trying to put a computer on the network, but it’s not letting me access the Internet. What’s the problem?

Remember that computers need to be connected to the network
at least once a month (to maintain network registration and to update Windows, VirusScan, etc.). If the computer has not been on the IASTATE network in the last month or if the computer belongs to someone visiting your office who needs to use the network temporarily, you’ll need to NetReg the machine before it can access the Internet or receive email.

To NetReg a machine:

  1. Open a browser (for example, Internet Explorer)
  2. If you do not go automatically to a Network Registration page, enter netreg.iastate.edu for the URL
  3. Login with your Net-ID and password
  4. Registrations are good for up to two months. Regular registrations will continue to be valid as long as the computer is on the IASTATE network at least once a month.
I forgot my administrator password. What do I do?

If you have forgotten the administrator password of a computer on the network and need it reset, you can contact the EIT computer support hotline (515-294-1725). We will reset it to a temporary password, which you will need to change to something more permanent.

HOWEVER, it is more convenient for you (what if you need your password reset at midnight or when the hotline has a number of calls to handle) and more secure to have a good password you won't forget. In addition, there are times when we either temporarily (when you are in a hotel or at home and not connected to the IASTATE network) or permanently (when a computer is no longer--or never has been--part of the IASTATE domain) can't reset your password.

To reset your own password:

  1. Log in as administrator (remember to change from IASTATE to '(this computer)' under 'Log onto')
  2. Press Ctrl-Alt-Del
  3. Type your old password
  4. Type your new password. Confirm your new password.
You have successfully changed your administrator password.

I'm new to Extension, where can I go to find information about setting up accounts and getting on mailing lists?
We have a set of
Frequently Asked Questions for new Extension staff .  You'll find answers to such questions as:

How do I set up a Net-ID?
How do I set up my email?
Who do I call for IT support?

And many others.

You may also want to  check this information out if you've hired a new person for your office and want to be have their Net-ID, email, and general access to ISUE resources available when they begin.

How can I create a strong administrator password that I can remember?

Even Vista, which doesn't make you log out of your regular account and into your administrator account as often as XP did, still requires you to know your administrator password. A strong password helps secure your system from unwanted intrusion.

All passwords, whether for your administrator or regular account should contain both letters and other symbols. For example:

Monkey3254
56torrents71

Passwords like these can be hard to remember. Especially if, as with administrator passwords, you don't use them every day. An alternative is to use a passphrase. Windows passwords can be at least 127 characters long.

For example:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers (or 4 score and 7 years ago...)
Dogs chickens cats & rabbits
Wow do I hate remembering administrator passwords

Do NOT write down your administrator password and tape it to your computer, your desk, or your monitor.

Someone in my office is leaving Extension soon, what should they do before they leave?

We have a
webpage that describes the steps someone leaving Extension should take with regards to their Net-ID and their computer.

The main points are to ensure that office data is backed up where it can be used and that other staff know where this data is, to return any computers that have been checked out or which are scheduled to come back to campus, and to delete your archived email and any other personal information from the computer.

We recommend that the computer of the departing staff person be re-setup from scratch. This eliminates old software, malware, personal information and other items and allows you to pass along a clean-running secure machine to the next user.

I received an email that says it's from Iowa State University Information Technology asking for my username and password. Should I send it to them?

This year there have been a rash of emails purporting to be from the ISU Help Desk or ITECH Services at Iowa State University or the iastate.edu Support Team. NONE of these, in any incarnation, are legitimate emails.

Things to note about these kinds of emails:
If there were, say, a security issue and we needed people to change their passwords, we might send a email telling you to change your password (but NOT to send your password to us). But, we will NOT ask for your password out of the blue in an email.
If you're in ISU Extension and you receive an email and you're not sure it's legitimate, you can contact the EIT Support Hotline and ask (515-294-1725). If you're sure it's NOT legitimate, you can simply delete it.

I'm going to be upgrading to Windows Vista soon. How can I sync my PDA, which uses the Palm operating system?

If your Palm PDA is more than three years old, it will likely
not be compatible with Windows Vista. You should seriously consider upgrading to a Windows Mobile 5 or 6 device when you upgrade to Vista (Windows Mobile 5 and 6 devices are specifically supported by EIT , as well, which means we'll be able ot solve specific problems that may arise).

If you have a newer Palm device and you want to try syncing it with Windows Vista, you'll need to download a new version of Palm desktop .

If you want to look at a newer PDA, that is compatible with Windows Vista, this is a good place to start .

I'm getting 'bounced e-mail' or 'Delivery Status Notification (failure)' messages for emails I never sent. Does this mean that someone's hacked my email account? Or my computer?

Spammers will 'spoof' From: addresses on emails they send. Since some spammer somewhere almost certainly has your email address, this means that sometimes your email address is listed on the From: line of an email message even if you didn't send that message. Since it's listed on the From: line, if that message can't be delivered to the email addresses it's addressed to, the email will bounce back to the address in the From: line--in this case, yours.

The bottom line is that someone has not hacked your email account or your computer. And, although they are using your email address, they are not sending email from your account. When you receive email messsages like this, you can safely delete them.

How can I check my email on the road?

The simplest way to check your email when you're away from the office, whether you've got a computer with you or you're using an Internet cafe, is via
Outlook Web Access (OWA). OWA gives you access to all your current email and calendar appointments through a basic web browser.

Another option to consider, especially if you want to use some additional features of Outlook is installing Virtual Private Network (VPN) software on your laptop or home computer. When you run VPN, it makes an encrypted connection back to ISU and allows you to make a connection that's similar to using your computer on campus or in a field office. Instructions for installing and setting up VPN are available online.

Can't you do something about the spam in my mailbox?

There are a number of things that ISU is currently doing to help reduce the spam in your mailbox. Check out the ITS
Spam FAQ to find out more about greylisting and Perlmx filtering . In addition, ISU has recently begun blocking inbound email at the 99% level (what this means is that they will block any email that the Perlmx filter things has a 99% or greater chance of being spam).

You can take advantage of the Perlmx filter by adding rules in Outlook to filter high scoring email (most likely spam).

Keep in mind that there's no way to guarantee that you'll never receive any spam. 90% of all email is now spam so if you've got less than that in your mailbox, you're doing okay.

When I try to play back an Adobe Connect recording, why does the audio sound like a bunch of high-pitched chipmunks?

We recently
upgraded to Adobe Acrobat Connect 7 .  In order to listen to recordings in this new version, you'll need to upgrade to Adobe Flash Player (9,0,124,0)

I accidently deleted something in Outlook. Isn't there some way I can get it back?

You can recover a deleted item (email, calendar appointment, task) but going to the Deleted Items folder. Select the item you want to retrieve. Right-click on the item. Select 'Move to folder...' Double-click on Inbox (or Calendar or Tasks, depending on the item). The item will reappear in the appropriate place.

If the item you're trying to retrieve is no longer in the Deleted Items folder, you may still be able to retrieve it. Seclect the 'Deleted Items' folder. From the Tools menu, select Recover Deleted Items. Select the item you want to recover. Click on the Recover Deleted items icon at the top of the window. The item will reappear in your Deleted Items folder. To move the item back to its original location, follow the instructions in the first paragraph above.

Why is my administrator password so very long?

When we set up your computer in Ames, we also set an administrator password. You will need to know your administrator password when you want to install programs on your computer and occasionally to perform other tasks.

It's important that your administrator password be secure so that someone can't make unauthorized use of your computer. It's also important that it be something that you can remember. The passwords we use when we set up your computer, are randomly generated 'passphrases.' Generally, they're easier to type than randomly generated letters and numbers (like 'TR#qwer!7') and because they're actual words can often be easier to remember as well. Examples of a randomly generated passphrase: 'girl ninety hover seven south').

You can change your administrator password at any time by logging in as administrator, pressing 'Ctrl-Alt-Del' and selecting Change Password.

How do I save my Outlook archive and personal folders when I’m changing computers?

Outlook archive and personal folders are saved on your hard drive as *.pst files (where * varies depending on the name of the file). To locate and save off your *.pst files before changing your computer or to backup your files, do the following:

  1. Open ‘Computer’ or ‘My Computer' (XP)
  2. From the ‘Organize’ menu or from the ‘Tools’ menu (XP), select Folder and Search Options’ or 'Folder Options' (XP)
  3. Click on the 'View' tab
  4. Select 'Show hidden files and folders'
  5. Click 'OK'
  6. At the Desktop, press F3 to bring up the Search box. Click on Advanced Search
    1. In Windows XP, Go to Start--Search--All Files and Folders
    2. Search for *.pst
  7. Copy the files to your S: drive (or to a flash drive or CD or DVD)
You can also find specific details for transferring files to and from your computers online.

Where do I go to purchase computers, PDAs, software, projectors and other electronic items?

If you want to purchase electronic items under university contracts or through the university, here's some information you may find helpful:

  • Computers
    • The Ordering New Computers page details current configurations and the ordering process for county orders and for ordering with state funds
    • To order your computer, use the available order form . (if ordering with state funds, you need to print out the order form, attach an intramural and send to TechCyte )
  • PDAs and software
  • Projectors
    • Contact Matt Darbyshire with ITS Academic Technologies for the latest information on projector models and current university contracts.

How can I find out more about new technologies and ways of working electronically?

There are lots of resources to help you keep abreast of new technologies and applications at the second Extension Technology Showcase Conference being held this year in October (October 21st, to be precise). Like last year, this is a place to hear about and talk about new technologies. Topics are scheduled to include collaboration tools, video publishing, gadgets, online educational programs and much more.

If you want to see what's here but not being used extensively or to see what's coming, this conference can help you do that. Watch for more information in September.

Why should I care about my Exchange (Outlook) mailbox size? And what can I do to keep it under control?

Keeping your Exchange mailbox (including your Inbox, Sent Mail, and all folders that are not in Archives or Personal Folders) reasonably sized (under 500M), means that you can acccess your email more quickly and efficiently and keeps the server running smoothly for everyone.

To keep your mailbox under control, here are some simple steps you can take:

  1. Check your current Mailbox size
  2. Make sure your Deleted Items are actually being deleted
  3. Check your AutoArchive settings
  4. Set some folders to AutoArchive more frequently
Step by step instructions are here . Following these simple steps does not mean that you are losing any email you need; it is still available, searchable and accessible.

In addition, consider deleting emails you no longer need , removing or saving large attachments , and cleaning out mailing list emails regularly.

I pulled an old computer out of the closet and it's not working on the network.  Why?

Several reasons:

  1. Computers lose their Network Registration if they have not been connected to the ISU network at least once in the last month. Network Registration is required for any computer on the ISU network to access the Internet and to receive email.
  2. Computers need to update Windows and Office. Updates are delivered automatically and are critical to your computer's smooth operation, particularly from a security standpoint. If you have a computer that hasn't been on the network for a month or several months, there can be many, many critical updates requiring hours of download and installation time.
  3. Virusscan also needs to update regularly. The longer the computer is off the network, the longer this will take. Meanwhile, your computer is vulnerable.
  4. If the computer is off the network long enough (3 months or so), it will no longer be a part of Active Directory. This means that it will not be possible for EIT to remotely change your administrator password (something that might be quite likely if no one in your office has used that computer for 3 months or more).

Note: THIS ALSO APPLIES TO NEW COMPUTERS SHIPPED TO YOUR OFFICE.  When we set up computers on campus, they receive a Network Registration, are added to the domain and receive all current critical updates for Vista and Office.  HOWEVER, you will need to unpack and hook that computer up to the network as soon as possible (within a month of receipt) or you will have to redo some computer setup steps--specifically Network Registration and adding to the IASTATE domain.


I'm thinking of getting a Blackberry. What do I need to know to access my email?

If you want to be able to check your email with any phone, you'll need to get a voice/data plan through your cellular provider. In addition, if you're getting a Blackberry, you'll need to request access to the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) on campus. There is a one-time setup charge for access to the BES.

Before applying for an account on the BES and before setting up your Blackberry to receive your Exchange email, you'll want to refer to the complete instructions for Blackberry setups .


I've been told there's a new version of VPN, but I already have VPN installed.  Do I need to upgrade to this new version?


There is a new version of VPN, which is simpler to install and use and which doesn't require certificates and yearly certificate renewals.  Currently, you can use either version of VPN.  However, the certificate-based version of VPN will be phased out completely by May, 2009 .  If you're a regular user of VPN when you're at home or on the road, you will need to upgrade between now and then.

You won't have to uninstall the old version to install the new.  You can install from anywhere you have an Internet connection, however, you may have to follow the manual install instructions if automatic installation doesn't complete successfully.

Where can I get the latest information from Extension IT?


We will generally post the most timely information (changes you need to be aware of, alerts, frequent questions, etc.) on our TechNews site. 

Rather than checking the site frequently to see if there are any new items, you can subscribe to have TechNews updates delivered to you via email by going to the site and entering your email address under 'News Via Email' in the left-hand column.