July 31, 2012
More Phishing

As you know, phishing e-mails are an attempt to get important information--passwords, credit card numbers, etc--by making you think that they're legitimate requests for information.

We've gotten calls today that a number of you have received emails resembling the following:

From: IASTATE.EDU [mailto:webteam@iastate.edu] Sent: Monday, July 30, 2012 10:52 PM Subject: IASTATE.EDU Upgrade your webmail

Dear Valued Customer,

You have been instructed by IASTATE.EDU service to upgrade your IASTATE.EDU Mail account to version 3GB Unlimited.

Note, you may encounter problem in sending or receiving mails if your account has not been upgraded. To upgrade your webmail account, Please click on the link below to confirm your email account:

Followed by a link. If you received this email (or any suspicious email) look carefully. Though it contains the words Iowa State University, the link goes to a .com site, not an iastate.edu site.

Other tip-offs for this particular phishing attempt

  • Addressed to 'Valued Customers'
  • Reference to IASTATE.EDU service rather than to ISU's ITS or EIT
  • Not sent by an individual and doesn't contain specific contact information
  • Talks about an 'upgrade' that has not been previously announced

Be aware of where links go. Remember too, sometimes links look legitimate, but that's actually just the text. To be sure, you can often position your mouse over the link without clicking to see where clicking will actually take you.

Posted by dcoates at 08:50 AM
April 04, 2012
'Collaborative Networks' Email Invitation

Staff are reporting that they are receiving an email signed py Larry Peterson (lpeterson@weavemail.com) talking about "IASTATE Collaborative Networks." While the website appears to be legitimate, the sender is not an Iowa State employee and 'IASTATE Collaborative Networks' is not an official Iowa State initiative.

Please ignore this invitation and do not enter any personal or business information at this website. University ITS will investigate and we will post an update if there's any additional information.

Posted by dcoates at 09:35 AM
August 16, 2011
Protecting Your Email Account

We've recently seen some emails sent to ISU Extension staff that look like:

From: [actual person's email]
Sent: Friday, August 12, 2011 1:14 AM
To: info@notice.com

Dear Customer,

Click the Link below to re-validate your mailbox.

CLICK HERE: [where this is actually a link]

For Futher Explanation.
System Administrator
[non-legitimate person's name]


There are two things that might make this look like a legitimate email.

  1. The address in the From: line actually belongs to an university staff person.
    • However, the person is not with either Extension IT or University IT Services
    • This person's email has probably been compromised
  2. It is apparently signed by an actual person with a specific title
    • However, this person is not actually an ISU employee

However, there are more things that tell you this is NOT a legitimate email

  1. The link which the email insists you MUST go to is simply listed as 'CLICK HERE.' If you were to highlight that link (I've removed it here) you would see that it did NOT go to an ISU site, but to a site designed to capture your password. You should NEVER change your ISU password except by going directly to https://asw.iastate.edu or through your regular computer by clicking Ctrl-Alt-Del and selecting 'Change a Password'.
  2. The address in the To: line is NOT your address. In addition, it's a non-ISU address.
  3. ISU's IT Services will never ask you to re-validate your email, send your password through email, or enter your password on a non-ISU website.
  4. The person whose name is in the signature is not listed in the ISU directory and no contact information is provided.

Some phishing scams are more clever than others. If someone is emailing you telling you to change your password and you can't tell if it's legitimate (remember neither ISU Extension or university IT Services will ask for your password via email), you can always contact the Computer Support Hotline at 515-294-1725 or via email at eithotline@iastate.edu.

If you believe you've responded to a phishing scam, change your password immediately. You can do this by going to https://asw.iastate.edu, logging in, and select 'Change Password'. Or, on a Windows machine connected to the IASTATE domain, press Ctrl-Alt-Del and select 'Change a Password'.

Posted by dcoates at 10:51 AM
July 20, 2011
Cyfiles is coming

What is Cyfiles?
On or around August 8, 2011, campus IT services will be introducing Cyfiles, which is an online storage space available to all ISU faculty, staff, and students. Each person will have 5 Gb of free storage available. Files stored in Cyfiles will automatically be backed up and users will have access to previous versions. This will be secure personal storage space. Files you store on your Cyfiles drive should only be accessed by you. Files you want to share with coworkers can still be stored on your S: drives.

How will I access Cyfiles?
If you're on a domain-joined computer (all Windows computers on the domain and connected to the IASTATE network either directly or through VPN), then your Cyfiles storage space will show up automatically when you start up or reboot your computer on or after August 8, 2011. You will see it as your U: drive accessed through your Computer icon (where your S: drive appears now) or by going to the Start menu and selecting Computer.

If you're on a Windows machine that is not connected to the domain or a Macintosh computer, you will need to map the U: drive, at least the first time you access it. There will be separate instructions for this.

What if I need more than 5 Gb storage?
It will be possible to purchase additional storage online through ASW (asw.iastate.edu) and have the storage cost billed to a fund account. The charge for additional storage is .10/Gb/month. The 5Gb initial storage size is a 'hard' limit meaning that if you try to store a file that will put you over the limit, you won't be able to until you either delete files or purchase additional storage.

We'll send a general announcement to all Extension staff closer to the launch date of August 8, 2011.

Posted by dcoates at 03:50 PM
January 05, 2011
Get New Cookie for Calendar Reporting

If you visit the ISUE Calendar and discover that you can no longer see the buttons for the reporting functions, you should be able to fix the issue by getting a new staff cookie. You'll be asked for your Net-ID and password.

A quick explanation of the issue: the ISUE calendar was originally written back in 1998 and although there have been changes since then, the cookie that shows the reporting function to ISUE staff had an expiration date of 12/31/2010. A new cookie with a different expiration date is now available and once you get that new cookie, you should be back in business.

If you have additional questions or problems, please contact the ISU Computer Supoprt Hotline at 515-294-1725 or via email at eithotline@iastate.edu

Posted by dcoates at 02:50 PM
July 25, 2008
Question(s) of the Week

For awhile now, we've been putting a new Question of the Week up on the front page of our Extension Information Technology web pages. The questions are either something we're hearing a lot about on the hotline or something new we've heard about. You can check out the current question of the week at the EIT home page. There's also a page containing past Questions of the Week, if you want to see what's been covered so far.

Posted by dcoates at 07:48 AM
March 28, 2008
Important Dates in April

Just a reminder of some important upcoming dates:

April 1, 2008:
This is the deadline for purchasing Filemaker 9 as part of the group purchase. If you're getting a Vista machine this year, you will want to upgrade to Filemaker 9 (Filemaker 8.5 will also work with Vista, though there are some known issues). For more details on the group purchase, check here.

April 15, 2008:
After this date, all new machines will be set up with Windows Vista as the operating system. If you need a new Windows XP machine, be sure to order before April 15th. For more information, check here.

Posted by dcoates at 02:00 PM
December 18, 2007
New Options for Smartphones

EIT has been supporting Windows Mobile-capable phones for almost two years. These phones can sync with our Exchange service and, if you purchase a data plan as well as a voice plan, you can have access to email wherever you have your phone.

For a long time only Verizon wireless offered compatible smartphones, specifically the Palm Treo 700w and 700wx and the Motorola Q. These phones and Verizon voice and data plans have worked well for a number of staff.

However, many people have been looking for US Cellular options. US Cellular is now offering the Motorola Q with Windows Mobile 5 as an option. If you're interested in a phone that's able to sync with your Outlook/Exchange mailbox and you want to continue with US Cellular, you may want to check this out.

In addition, Verizon has two new smartphones, the Samsung i760 and Motorola Q9m. These phones have Windows Mobile 6, which is the latest version of the Windows Mobile operating system. The i760 is comparable to the Treo with a slightly larger screen, integrated Wi-Fi and separate number and slide-out QWERTY keypads. The i760 also has a stylus for touchscreen input. The Q9m, like the original Q, is not a touchscreen device.

Remember ISU has contracts for both Verizon Wireless and US Cellular.

Posted by dcoates at 02:06 PM
New to Extension?

If you're a new ISUE employee or if you're hiring new staff, there are a few information technology-related things you'll want to know as soon as possible. To help you out, we've organized a set of frequently asked questions geared specifically to new Extension staff, which can be found here.

You can find out how to get a Net-ID, log into your computer, setup your email, and who to call when you need IT help.

Posted by dcoates at 01:29 PM
November 01, 2007
After the Showcase

If you weren't able to attend the Extension Technology Showcase or, if you attended and are still interested in additional information, visit some of the links that are located on del.icio.us under the 'eshowcase' keyword.

You'll see links to information on YouTube, MS Groove 2007, Facebook, RSS and Atom feeds, social bookmarking, and many more topics.

Posted by dcoates at 02:41 PM
September 25, 2007
Don't Forget the Technology Showcase

Remember that the Extension Technology Showcase is October 9th at the Gateway Center in Ames.

We'll be talking about Social Networking, Free programs, syndication feeds, producing and using video and audio files, taking and publishing photos and lots of other topics. There'll be gadgets to look at and clinics if you want your computer checked out.

There's also evening entertainment:

Stanley's going to be there. Are you?

Posted by dcoates at 10:58 AM
August 23, 2007
Check It Out

The new promotional video for the Extension Technology Showcase on October 9th in Ames, starring Stanley Sturdy:

Thanks to Jed and Daniel for putting it together!

Posted by dcoates at 11:20 AM
August 14, 2007
What's On The Extension IT Support Pages?

Earlier this year, we revamped the EIT web pages and updated much of the information there. Check out the EIT Support pages if you're looking for:

...and other useful information

The Extension IT pages also contain information on the Content Management System, Webconferencing, Training and Networks

Posted by dcoates at 09:48 AM
July 31, 2007
Save the Date: Oct. 9 Extension Technology Showcase

Looking for useful, take-it-home information and tools on emerging technologies? Want to jazz up your programs? Let us help!


ISU Extension Core Services is pleased to announce the Extension Technology Showcase set for Tuesday, Oct. 9th at the Gateway Hotel & Conference Center in Ames. This one-day event, held the day before Extension's Annual Conference, will help Extension staff imagine and envision the potential of technology to enhance communications with clientele.


Core Service staff want to help ISU Extension staff improve and fine-tune their educational messages. Do you use Delicious? How about Google Alerts? Know how to use an RSS feed? Our clients are using or will be using many of these technologies. New technologies and tools can help position Extension to stay on target with today's fast-paced, technology-oriented society. Sessions will include digital photography, video creation and publishing, social networking applications, gadgets, and free and easy programs. A clinic will be available to setup VPN/remote desktop and PDAs and to install a software pack (containing free software presented during the conference) on laptops. You will be introduced to tools such as blogs, groove, sharepoint, e-vites, YouTube, Flickr, audacity, GPS, Wii and  iTunes.


Our featured tech guest will be Kevin Gamble from eXtension, who will attend our showcase and answer all of our questions about this national initiative.


Fun, optional evening activities will be available to help set the stage for annual conference the following day.


More information will be coming out soon. Questions? E-mail them to showcase@iastate.edu


Your Extension Technology Showcase committee:


Floyd Davenport

Elaine Edwards

Robin Brekke

Deb Coates

Jed Findlay

Jon Anderson

Jennifer Tabke


Posted by at 04:30 PM
May 10, 2007
Patch for Computers Locking Up and Slowing Down This Week

We're aware of a problem with some Extension computers appearing to lock, freeze up or greatly slow down this week. The problem is related to the Microsoft Update client that is installed on all of our Windows machines.

Though not all machines will experience this problem, a small percentage may. To fix this issue you must install an updated Microsoft Update client and an additional patch. Affected computers will usually experience the apparent lock up first thing in the morning, before you are able to do anything about it. Please be patient and wait it out, usually 5-20 minutes. Once the system begins responding normally log on as Administrator and install these updates:


An update from Microsoft that we can push to every computer is not yet available. If you experience the issue you should install these updates.

And, as always, feel free to call the Hotline at (515) 294-1725 if you are having any trouble with the installation of this patch.

UPDATE: 6/14/2007 -- The KB927891 update should now be installed automatically as part of the regular Microsoft Update process. If you still encounter problems you may yet need to install WindowsUpdateAgent30-x86.exe.

Posted by newmania at 10:34 AM
February 05, 2007
Breeze is now Adobe Connect

This last week we upgraded our Breeze web conferencing server to Adobe Connect.  This is primarily a cosmetic change as Adobe purchased the Macromedia Breeze web conferencing technology last year and is now rebranding it within its Adobe Acrobat product line.  We also upgraded the system hardware with more processing power and storage space.

For the most part, the transition to Adobe Connect will be transparent.  In the future, you will hear the term “Connect” and we are referring to the web conferencing software formerly known as “Breeze”.  Here are a few changes and enhancements.

  1. As part of an update to the server hardware and software, we changed the name of the server from http://breeze.extension.iastate.edu to http://connect.extension.iastate.edu.  You should begin to use the new system name, but both names will continue to work. 
  2. There is a new meeting plugin which you will need to install if you are a meeting host or presenter.  The easiest way to download and install this new plugin is from the test page.  If this test fails, there is now an option to send the test results directly to us so that we can help you resolve your connection problems.
  3. The Chat and Notes pods now have the capability to send their contents to an email address.  This is a nice new feature for capturing the contents of a notes pod or the history of a chat session.  You have to be a meeting host or presenter to use this feature.
  4. If you are using the Presenter tool to create online presentations, you will want to download and install the newest PowerPoint plugin.  You can find this listed on the Getting Started page. You will need to login to the Connect server to download this software.  Make sure you are logged in as administrator on your computer to install this plugin. 


Posted by at 10:49 AM
December 20, 2006
IE7 Crashing After Install?

Today at noon, Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) began automatically installing on Extension computers via Automatic Updates.

In most cases, this update should install and run just fine. However, a few people will find that Internet Explorer crashes (stops responding) when you open it up. This is most frequently caused by the Yahoo! Toolbar, and it will need to be disabled.

If you find that Internet Explorer is crashing when you open it, please follow these steps:

  1. Right Click on Internet Explorer and select Start Without Add-Ons

  2. Select the Tools button in the top right corner

  3. Select Internet Options

  4. Select the Programs tab

  5. Click Manage Add-Ons

Now you will see a list of all add-ons (extensions) installed in Internet Explorer.

If you have any Yahoo! add-ons listed, you must disable them. You may want to disable any other non-Microsoft add-ons if you continue to have trouble.

Add-ons can be disabled by completing these steps:

  1. Select the add-on you wish to disable

  2. Choose the Disable radio option

  3. Select OK

  4. Close and reopen Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer should now work fine. If you continue having problems you may need to disable additional add-ons. Feel free to call the Extension IT Support Hotline at (515) 294-1725.

You may also want to remove Yahoo! Toolbar from your computer entirely. Follow these steps:

  1. Log on as Administrator

  2. Select Start, Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs

  3. Highlight Yahoo! Toolbar and click Remove

Casey Melcher
EIT Support Hotline
(515) 294-1725

Posted by dddugan at 01:28 PM
December 11, 2006
Smartphones and PDAs

Last week at the CEED conference I gave a talk on Smartphones and PDAs. Topics included: what smartphones are, why you might want one, how they work. Smartphones combine the features of a cell phone and a PDA, can pull email, contacts and tasks from Outlook/Exchange and can transfer data over-the-air (operate almost anywhere you can use a cellphone) or wirelessly (operate anywhere you can connect wirelessly with your laptop).

You can check out the slides from the presentation here.

If you're interested in smartphones or PDAs, we are supporting Windows Mobile 5 for the operating system. This narrows your cell plan options and may mean that your area of the state is not quite smartphone-ready. The advantages, however, are that it is easier to set up and the phones/PDAs operate very similarly to your desktop or laptop computer (fewer separate systems to learn). ISU has business and personal plan contracts for cellular service that you may want to check out. Currently only Verizon (of the companies ISU has contracts with) offers smartphones with Windows Mobile OS. We do not recommend Blackberries for Extension use as they require additional software and setup.

Posted by dcoates at 04:48 PM
December 08, 2006
Follow-up to Vista/Office Preview

At the recent CEED Conference I presented a session titled Getting Ahead: Preview Windows Vista and Office 2007. As promised, the slides are now available. Of course, since the session was largely demo you'll probably want to register for the upcoming online session some of my colleagues are giving on January 22nd. We have other upcoming sessions, too.

Here are answers to the follow-up questions I took away from the session.

  1. How are search results ordered? Can it be configured?
    Search results are ordered by relevance--best matches first--and grouped by type of result (Programs, Files, Communications, etc). I can't find any way to alter this behavior.

  2. Can you print multiple calendars when viewing in overlay mode?
    I couldn't find any built-in way to do this, but while searching the Help I found a free Microsoft add-in called the Calendar Printing Assistant for Outlook 2007 that does the job. For those that like to print calendars this tool has a number of formatting capabilities and other options.

  3. Has PowerPoint been enhanced in the areas of audio or video?
    I'm hoping one of my colleagues can post a better response to this question, because these are features I don't personally use. But, there do seem to be some process improvements. Check out 'Add sounds or movies' in the Help or online.

  4. Where can I get the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor?

If you have more questions please post a comment, send me mail or come to the January session. We'll be bringing lots more Vista/Office material your way, but it helps to know what you're interested in or confused about.


Posted by dddugan at 01:53 PM
October 31, 2006
Battery Recall Update and Reminder

On August 19th, we sent out information via email to all staff about the Dell laptop battery recall. A number of batteries, manufactured by Sony, have been found to be defective and can overheat and even catch on fire. If you haven't checked to see if your battery is one of the recalled batteries and request a replacement, you can go to:


In addition, Sony batteries in other computer models are also being recalled. This includes Apple, Gateway, Lenovo/IBM, Fujitsu, and others.

All told, Sony is expected to spend some $250 million replacing 6.5 million defective batteries (Dell's is the largest recall at 4.1 million; Apple is recalling 1.8 million batteries; Toshiba is recalling approximately 340,000).

Posted by dcoates at 10:51 AM
October 23, 2006
Announcing Internet Explorer 7

Last week Microsoft released version 7 of the Internet Explorer web browser (IE7). Internet Explorer updates are included as part of the regular Windows update process so you will automatically receive this update in the near future. IE7 offers a number of benefits and a streamlined interface. Some of the important changes include:

  • tabbed browsing - browse multiple web pages within a single IE window

  • integrated search - a search box always available to the right of the address bar

  • improved printing - IE scales text appropriately so you won't end up with one line of text on your last page (usually)

  • improved security features - many under the hood changes as well as a new phishing filter

  • RSS feed support - stay up to date with basic RSS support right in your browser

Take a quick tour or view a more complete feature list for more information. For the tech savvy folks (everyone reading this blog!) IE7 is the version of Internet Explorer that will be included with Windows Vista when it releases later this year, so working with IE7 on XP now will give you a head start on Vista.

We will be posting more specific details (including when you might expect IE7 to appear in your automatic updates) later this week.

Posted by dddugan at 03:44 PM
October 02, 2006
Cleanup status

Was anyone paying attention when I asked for help cleaning up office file shares (S: drives)? Apparently not too many! There has been a minor improvement, to the tune of about a 5% reduction in used space. I know we can all do better than that, so let's get out our brooms (aka delete keys) and file boxes (aka CDs/DVDs) and get rid of or archive that old data. Ten minutes a day will make a difference!

Posted by dddugan at 10:54 AM
August 23, 2006
Adopt a file share litter removal

Do your part to keep your office file share (S: drive) clear of outdated material and unnecessary data.

All Extension staff are cordially invited to participate in a group clean-up beginning NOW!

Reporting shows that approximately 50% of all data stored on office shares has not been accessed in at least six months. As we are nearing the capacity of our file servers, EIT staff will need to consider how to best keep things running smoothly--actions could include per-office quotas, lifecycle policies or costly hardware upgrades requiring system downtime.

By doing your part to clean up the clutter we can reduce unnecessary utilization and improve the system for everyone. Think of it like cleaning out your closets at home--if you haven't used it in six months or a year, maybe it's time to let it go!

Just ten minutes a day for a week can accomplish a great deal. To let everyone know how much we have accomplished I'll be keeping track of the total utilization and will report back soon. If you have any questions please let us know!

Your friendly sysadmin,

Posted by dddugan at 09:54 AM
May 19, 2006
IT Potpourri follow-up

Last week I gave a short presentation called "IT Potpourri". The slides are now posted. Here are some of the follow-up questions and links I promised:

Other things I've put on our to-do list include new or improved documentation on backing up only changed files, changing Outlook's AutoArchive location and accessing file shares through VPN. Look for information on these topics to be posted later.

If you attended the presentation and have questions or comments let me know. If you'd like EIT to cover something for your area meeting, retreat or similar event please ask!

Posted by dddugan at 10:26 AM
January 27, 2006
Dell Computers on Sale

Dell is currently offering discounts on certain computer models when purchased through the university.

Extension IT has put together quotes for standard desktop and laptop setups for office use. These prices and configurations can be found at www.extension.iastate.edu/comp/orders/orderform. Your order needs to be in to ITS Computer Sales by February 17th to take advantage of these prices.

Dell plans to offer regular quarterly computer sales so can plan your computer purchases for your convenience and budget flexibility. Future sales will likely occur in January, April/May, July, and October each year.

Posted by dcoates at 03:22 PM
May 18, 2005
Data Projector Purchases 2005

Matt Darbyshire with the ISU Instructional Technology Center has put together information on data projectors available for purchase through ISU, including brightness, weight, and price.

We'd currently recommend either the NEC VT-670 (which has a $200.00 rebate through June 30th) or the VT-676 (which slightly brighter than the VT670).

Data Projector Recommendations

Posted by dcoates at 10:42 AM
November 02, 2004
Installing the latest Windows Service Pack

In a continuing effort to protect against virus infection and prevent security intrusions, we're making a push to update every Extension computer to the latest Windows Service Pack. For Windows 2000 Professional this is Service Pack 4. For Windows XP Professional this is Service Pack 2. If you log in to a computer that is out of date, you should receive a popup alert that indicates your computer needs updating.

Once updated to the latest Service Pack, computers will receive updates automatically, keeping your computer secure with minimal intervention.

To update to the latest service pack for your version of Windows, complete the following steps:

  1. Log on to your computer with the administrator account
    If you don't know your administrator password, contact the Support Hotline.
  2. Windows 2000: Select Start, Windows Update
  3. Windows XP: Select Start, All Programs, Windows Update
  4. If prompted to install the latest version of Windows Update, select Yes or OK
  5. Select Scan for updates or Express Install
  6. If available, select Review and install updates
  7. Select Install or Install now
  8. Reboot when prompted

Repeat this process until there are no more updates to install. Some updates can only be installed by themselves, so it may take two or three cycles to install everything. When there are no more updates to install, Windows should be completely up to date, and you should no longer receive the popup alert during logon.

Congratulations, your computer is now more secure! This might be a great time to verify that VirusScan is up to date as well.

If you need assistance at any time, please contact the Extension IT Support Hotline (515-294-1725).

Posted by dddugan at 03:25 PM
August 12, 2004
Windows XP Service Pack 2

Microsoft will release service pack 2 for Windows XP as part of their automatic update beginning next Monday. This is a major upgrade to Windows XP and provides enhanced security features, additional Internet Explorer functionality, and other additions and fixes. While it will not substantially alter what you see when you run Windows XP, some dialogue boxes--for example, when downloading files in Internet Explorer--will be different.

ISU Extension staff with Windows XP machines will receive this service pack upgrade automatically. At this time, indications are that you will not have to take any direct action (beyond rebooting when asked) to install the service pack once it's downloaded.

Service Pack 2 for Windows XP is a very large file (about 75 M) so your computer may operate somewhat slower while it's downloading. This is normal.

If you have questions, you can contact the Computer Support Hotline at 515-294-1725 or at eit@iastate.edu

Update: Now that we've had a few machines that have automatically updated to Service Pack 2, we can say that a new screen does come up that announces the Service Pack update. When you see this screen, click 'Next' and Service Pack 2 will walk you through the install.

Posted by dcoates at 11:13 AM
July 01, 2004
Logging into For Staff Pages?

Beginning July 2, 2004, when you log into 'For Staff' on the ISU Extension home page, you will no longer need to use your 'x1' account (for example, 'x1doe'). Instead, you will log in using your net-ID (the first part of your email address without '@iastate.edu'; for example 'jdoe').

This change is part of our long term strategy to improve service and security, and integrate content management.

Note: The calendar of events will still use x1-accounts until appropriate changes can be made.

Please direct questions or comments to the ISU Extension Computer Support hotline at 515-294-1725.

Posted by dcoates at 04:24 PM
March 31, 2004
Looking a Gift Computer in the Mouth

Budgets are tight. We're all looking for ways to provide our offices with the things we need to do our jobs. So, when someone comes along and offers us computers for our office--a little used, but still works fine, they say--it's pretty tempting to accept them. Often, though, it's a gift with a steep price tag.

As tempting as 'free' computers might be, here are some critical things to think about when someone offers them to you:

1. Why are they getting rid of these computers?
Companies, non-profits, and other organizations, just like Extension offices, use computers every day for every staff person that they have. They, like Extension, are trying to stretch their budgets, make things last, use their resources as efficiently as possible. Like Extension, most organizations buy new computers for those staff who use computers most heavily and pass the replaced computers along to someone else who may not need a machine that's as fast or may not need it as often. When they give computers away, it means they no longer meet the needs of even their most minimum computer user. Extension offices use computers at as high a level as any other organization. If the computers won't work for the organization that's giving them away, they almost certainly won't work for Extension offices either.

2. Do they meet university support standards?
Computers must meet university support standards to be setup or repaired by the Extension Information Technology service. This means not only do they need to meet support standards when they're initially setup, they must continue to meet the support standards at the time they need the repair or troubleshooting assistance.

ISU Support Standards as of September 1, 2004 will be:

  • Pentium III
  • 256 MB of memory (and more memory is strongly recommended)
  • Windows 2000 or Windows XP Pro operation system

Sometimes older computers can be upgraded to meet the university support standards, however, this will be an additional investment in an older computer, which (since it's already been heavily used for several years) may not be a performing computer for very long.

3. Have you considered the cost of ownership?
Older computers are no longer under warranty so any hardware repairs will cost you money. In addition, repairs to older computers--hard drives, memory, CD drives, etc. will be more expensive than the same repair to a newer computer. Old parts that fewer people want cost more. Older computers will be more likely to need repair so at some point you will either be spending more money on that computer or it will no longer be repairable--and often this moment will come without warning and when you're least prepared to handle it.

In addition, old machines:

  • may not be repairable,
  • may not be able to use supported applications,
  • may not have adequate security and other protections
  • may not be able to run collaborative network applications which will be increasingly important for all aspects of work

It's daunting sometimes to consider the cost of replacing the computers in your office, but as computers continue to be critical to day-to-day operations, it remains important to budget for and obtain machines that can be a help and not a hindrance to your office and your productivity.

Posted by dcoates at 03:13 PM
March 10, 2004
Don't get hijacked!

Over the past few months we've noticed an increase in calls to the Computer Support Hotline about spyware unknowingly installed on computers and about unwelcome popups when using a web browser.

If you notice that your homepage has changed and that you are now receiving massive amounts of popups, you may have been hijacked.

Browser hijacking can occur when you visit a web site and it resets your homepage to one other than the one you specified originally. Sometimes the Windows registry is also changed so that you can't change your homepage back.

To reclaim your computer and browser, we recommend using Ad-Aware. The program searches your computer for spyware and any other malware that could potentially hijack your internet browser.

Make sure that the first time you run the program that you update it. Click on the globe icon, then click on 'Connect'. This will ensure that Ad-Aware can detect all the latest spyware programs out there.

If you have questions about spyware or how and when to use Ad-Aware, call the Computer Support Hotline at (515) 294-1725.

Links in this article:

Ad-Aware Download: http://download.com.com/3000-2144-10045910.html?part=69274&subj=dlpage&tag=button

Posted by at 10:44 AM
February 18, 2003
Pagemaker 6.5 and Windows XP

Installing Adobe Pagemaker 6.5 on a Windows XP computer may give you the following error when you try to run the program:


To fix this problem, Adobe has released an update for the program. Go to:

Pagemaker 6.5 or 6.51 to 6.52 update page

To install the update:

--Log in as Administrator
--Double-click on the downloaded file (pm652upd.exe)
--Select the language you want to appear in the updater windows and dialog boxes, then click Next.
--Select the region where you are located to determine which language the updater uses for its license agreement, then click Next.
--Follow the on-screen instructions until the updater notifies you that PageMaker has been updated.
--Click OK to exit the updater.
--Log out as Administrator. And log back in as yourself.

The 6.52 update also fixes other Pagemaker issues, so you may also want to update if you've gotten other error messages in Pagemaker version 6.5. (Note: You must have version 6.5 or version 6.51 for this update to work properly.)

Posted by at 01:41 PM
September 05, 2002
Losing Time?

If your computer's clock suddenly starts losing time steadily, try the following:

*Uninstall and reinstall VirusScan*

Note: If you're running Windows 2000, you will need to log in as Administrator on your computer before you do the steps below.

To uninstall VirusScan:
--Go to Start-->Settings-->Add/Remove Programs
--In the Add/Remove Programs window, select 'MacAfee VirusScan'
--Choose the option to remove the program

Once VirusScan has been uninstalled, you can reinstall it from the Scout CD you received in the June 14, 2002 transmittal packet.

To reinstall:
--Put the Scout CD in your CD drive
--From the Start menu, select Programs-->Scout
--In the Scout Program, select the options for installing VirusScan

Once VirusScan is reinstalled be sure to go into the VirusScan scheduler (double-click on the magnifying glass icon in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen) and set VirusScan to update and scan regularly.

Detailed instructions for installing and configuring VirusScan can be found at on the ISU Extension web site under, Installing and Configuring VirusScan

Posted by dcoates at 09:51 AM
August 20, 2002
Windows 95--Going, going, gone

As of January, 2002, Microsoft stopped supporting the Windows 95 operating system. In September, 2002, Iowa State University will be dropping Windows 95 from its minimum support standards.

This means two important things:

1) Windows 95 machines with problems will only be supported at the most minimum levels (if you call the support hotline and we know the answer to your questions we’ll answer it).

2) If you have machines still running Windows 95, you need to upgrade (if the hardware meets the minimum standards for upgrading to Windows 2000) or purchase a new computer

If you have computers that are running Windows 95 and do not have problems, you can continue using them--they’ll still operate on the network, they’ll still run the programs they’re currently running. However, it’s important to be aware that they may not run new programs or upgrades to existing programs and that if they develop problems they will likely not be repairable.

Posted by dcoates at 08:43 AM
July 29, 2002
Oh Bookmarks, Where Art Thou?

As time marches on and computers are replaced by newer models, more and more of Extension's staff are converting to using Internet Explorer instead of Netscape. Internet Explorer is the de facto Internet standard, if for no other reason than that more computer users use IE than any other browser in existence. Most webpages are written with IE in mind, and because of this, IE is compatible with the widest range of webpages.

In fact, most of us on Extension's Hotline use it, and we are more than willing to help you along on the conversion process.

Many Netscape users are reluctant to convert to IE for one very good reason:
They'll lose all their bookmarks!

Fear no more! There is now a very simple way to import all of your Netscape bookmarks into Internet Explorer. The following explains how:

1) Open Internet Explorer
2) Go to File-->Import and Export. This will start the Import/Export wizard.
3) Click the 'Next' button. Make sure that "Import Favorites" is highlighted, and click 'Next' again.
4) If you have created your own profile in Netscape, choose that profile from the dropdown menu, and click 'Next'. If you haven't created a unique profile (or if you've never heard of a profile, for that matter), simply use "Netscape Navigator profile: default," and click 'Next'.
5) If you want to place your bookmarks in a special folder, choose that folder now. Otherwise, just click 'Next' and they will be put in the default folder (which we recommend).
6) Click 'Finish,' and you're done!

Things to Remember:
* Switching to IE is only an option, not a requirement. At this time, the Hotline supports both Netscape and IE.
* When you import your bookmarks into IE, they are NOT removed from Netscape. You will have your bookmarks in both places.
* If you add new bookmarks to Netscape, they are NOT automatically added to IE. However, if you re-import, they will show up.

Posted by at 04:02 PM
July 24, 2002
Office XP, Extras, Errors, and YOU.

We've had several calls recently about an error in Office XP on Windows 2000 machines. It seems that XP doesn't pre-install some of its extras, such as templates, page borders, and so on. When trying to install these niceties, XP is giving users an error, saying it couldn't find the files, and they couldn't be installed.

The solution:

1) Log in to your computer as administrator.
(Remember to change 'Log onto' from IASTATE to (this computer)
2) Run Word, Excel, or whatever program was giving you the error.
3) Use the page border, template, whatever. that gave you the original error. XP will now install it.
4) Log out of the computer as administrator, and log back in as yourself.

Whatever you were wanting to use will now be installed, and will work properly.

Posted by at 03:24 PM
July 22, 2002
When You Call the Computer Support Line...

If you have to leave a message, be sure to give a phone number where you can be reached and a brief description of your problem. Knowing the problem beforehand lets the person returning your call to do some initial research, and may save multiple followup calls.

Information that's useful to have in hand when you call:

  • Type of computer
  • Operating system (Windows 95, 2000...)
  • Approximate age of the computer
  • Short description of your problem

The phone number for the EIT computer support line is 515/294-1725

Posted by dcoates at 03:52 PM