June 27, 2012
Automatic Skype Update

Today Microsoft (mistakenly) sent out an update for the communication software Skype to all windows machines. Currently, the Skype program installs on Windows machines whether a previous version of Skype was installed on the machine or not.

If you use Skype then you do not have to take any action.

If you do not use Skype then you can ignore the installation for now. If you go to the systray and right click on the Skype icon, you can quit the program.

We are waiting on Microsoft and Campus ITS to notify us of what, if any, action they will be taking to resolve this issue. As soon as we know the details from Microsoft or ITS, we'll pass them on to you.

Posted by mmauton at 01:53 PM
July 06, 2011
VPN Update

ISU IT Services updated the campus VPN service on Tuesday, July 6th. If you already have VPN installed on your computer, you'll be asked to download and install an Active X update the next time you start VPN. Once the new Active X control is installed, VPN should function normally.

You can update at any time by starting VPN (Cisco AnyConnect VPN Client) on your computer. If you're not currently using VPN, you won't need to do anything.

VPN stands for Virtual Private Networking and can be useful for accessing email while traveling and accessing network drives when you're not in the office. It provides additional security when you're not on the IASTATE network for traffic back to the ISU campus. You can install VPN on any computer by going to vpn.iastate.edu

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

Posted by dcoates at 03:54 PM
June 23, 2011
Internet Explorer 9

Internet Explorer 9 will be coming to you soon (or you may have seen it already) through Windows automatic updates. It will look a little different than previous versions of Internet Explorer, but the essentials are the same.

You should find Internet Explorer 9 faster than previous versions. You'll also notice that it has a 'cleaner' interface. The toolbars are not visible by default and the URL address bar and the tabs are on the same line (again by default; this can be changed). One advantage is more room to display web pages.

The Tools menu can be accessed through the icon that looks like a gear on the address/tabs toolbar. If you want to add/change what toolbars show up, you can right-click on the top bar and select what you want to see.

Initially, some webpages on other sites didn't display correctly in IE 9. These issues have generally been corrected.

If you have issues with the Internet Explorer 9 update or questions about the changes, you can contact the Extension Support Hotline at 515-294-1725 or via email at eithotline@iastate.edu

Posted by dcoates at 11:25 AM
January 11, 2011
Adobe Connect Upgraded to Version 8

Our Adobe Connect server has been updated to version 8.

This is a major upgrade and has a number of significant changes to the user interface. Some of the changes include:

  • Enhanced editing features for Notes
  • Improved video quality
  • New chat capabilities

In addition, the new version looks different. So if you use Adobe Connect, you may want to check out the changes before holding your next meeting. To highlight some of the changes, we've created two short videos:

Finally, if you're an ISUE staff member, you can now use your ISU NetID to login to Adobe Connect. Continue to use your email address (netid@iastate.edu). But you will now use your NetID password (the one you use to login to your computer and your email) to login to Adobe Connect.

Posted by dcoates at 10:59 AM
July 07, 2010
Microsoft Office 2010

Fairly soon a DVD containing Microsoft Office 2010 will be sent to ISU Extension county and REED offices and specific campus offices. This DVD is for use in your office to upgrade from Microsoft Office 2007 to 2010.

Although you can choose to upgrade at this time, you do not have to upgrade. However, if you're still using Office 2003, you should consider upgrading now.

File formats have not changed between MS Office 2007 and 2010 so you can have different people in the office on different versions of Office and still pass files back and forth.

Some of the changes for Office 2010 include:

--Adding the Ribbon to Outlook
--File tab (replaces the Office button in 2007)
--Print preview automatically appears when you print
--New screen capturing and clipping tools
--New animations in Powerpoint 2010

If you currently maintain a virtual office and would like to upgrade to Office 2010, you will need to contact your local county or affiliated campus office and arrange a time to come in and upgrade using their Office 2010 DVD.

If you need help upgrading to Office 2010, you can contact the ISU computer support hotline at 515-294-1725 or eithotline@iastate.edu

Posted by dcoates at 01:01 PM
October 22, 2009
Windows 7 Disks Sent to County Offices

Today or tomorrow (October 22nd or 23rd), you should receive a new Microsoft Windows 7 Enterprise 64-bit DVD for your office. This is the newest Microsoft Windows Operating System and replaces Windows Vista. All new machines setup by EIT currently come with Windows 7 installed.

Included with the DVD are instructions for installing it on new or current machines. NOTE: we recommend a 'clean' install for all upgrades. This means that you should copy off all data, format the hard drive and then install the new operating system.

Windows 7 can be installed on any computer owned or leased by Iowa State University Extension under the terms of the Microsoft Campus Agreement for Iowa State University. You do NOT need to upgrade any current computer unless you're having problems with your current machine and are requested to do so by Extension IT staff.

For more information about Windows 7, including hardware requirements and installation instructions, you can go here.

If you have questions or need assistance, contact the Extension IT Support Hotline at 515.294.1725 or eithotline@iastate.edu

Posted by dcoates at 09:29 AM
September 02, 2009
Update for Adobe Presenter

Adobe Presenter has a new update; version 7.0.5. This update addresses a number of issues and minor bugs with Adobe Presenter 7. If you use Adobe Presenter, it is recommended you update your version by going to http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/product.jsp?product=153&platform=Windows. There are currently three updates, you should apply them in order. In order to see what version you are currently running, Open PowerPoint, click on the Adobe Presenter menu, select Help, About Adobe Presenter.

Posted by dcoates at 09:45 AM
November 25, 2008
Virtual Private Network Update

There's a new VPN (Virtual Private Network) in town and it doesn't require certificates.

What is a Virtual Private Network?

Establishing a Virtual Private Network between your computer and Iowa State allows you to log in securely wherever you are and access email and shared drives as if you were on the IASTATE network. So, if you're in a hotel room and establish a Virtual Private Network, you can use Outlook and retrieve files off your S: drive just as you can if you're logged into your computer in your office.

What makes this new VPN software different?

Those of you currently using VPN, know that the certificate-based system can be tricky to install. The program itself is installed as administrator, but certificates must be imported when you're logged in with your own Net-ID. Certificates expire and must be renewed through ASW periodically.

The new VPN system is not certificate-based (no more certificate renewals!) and installation is relatively straightforward. Once the software is installed, you can establish a Virtual Private Network, by running the software via the Start menu or by going to the webpage: https://vpn.iastate.edu in your browser.

If you're currently using the certificate-based VPN software, you can switch to the new VPN sofware at any time.

NOTE: The certificate-based system will be phased out by May, 2009. So, if you're currently using VPN you will need to upgrade between now and then.

Posted by dcoates at 10:12 AM
October 02, 2008
Citrix Installation instructions

To install the Citrix client (in order to run Cougar Mountain Fund Suite), please follow these instructions:

To install the Citrix Client:

  1. Log on to the computer using your administrator account
  2. Download and run the Citrix client installer. You will download "XenApp Plugin for Hosted Apps -- Version 11.000")
  3. Choose English and OK at the Select Language prompt.
  4. Select Next on the Welcome to Citrix XenApp Plugin for Hosted Apps Installation
  5. Read and accept the license agreement, Next
  6. Select the dropdown next to Program Neighborhood and choose 'Will be installed on local hard drive'
  7. Select the dropdown next to Citrix XenApp Plugin and choose 'Entire Feature will be unavailable'. Click Next
  8. Accept the default Program Folder, Next
  9. 'Use machine name as client name' should be checked (default). Click Next
  10. Accept the default 'No do not use local user name and password'. Next
  11. Accept the default Program Neighborhood Options, Next
  12. Verify the Citrix XenApp Plugin action is Do not install; all others should be install. Next
  13. When setup has completed, click Finish to exit
  14. Log off as administrator and log back on with your regular Net-ID

To create the Citrix connection to Fund Suite:

  1. Go to Start...Programs...Citrix...Program Neighborhood
  2. Double-click Custom ICA Connections...Add ICA Connection
  3. Select Wide Area Network. Next.
  4. Click Server Location
  5. Uncheck Use Default
  6. Add ica.exnet.iastate.edu
  7. Select OK...OK
  8. Choose the Published Application radio button
  9. Select 'CMS Fund Suite -- Desktop' from the dropdown list. Next
  10. Choose whether to run Fund Suite full-screen or in a window:
    • Full screen: accept the default 'View in a separate window (Seamless Window)'. Next
    • Window: select 'View in a remote desktop window'. Next

  11. Uncheck Use Default, select 128 bit encryption (not 128 Bit for LoginOnly)
  12. Enable session reliability. Next.
  13. Leave the username/password/domain fields blank. Next
  14. Accept the default color depth
  15. If running Fund Suite in a window:
    • Uncheck Use Default window size
    • Choose a window size (1024x768 or 800x600)

  16. Click Next
  17. Click Finish to complete the connection setup
  18. Right-click 'CMS Fund Suite -- Desktop', select Create Desktop Shortcut
  19. Close Citrix Program Neighborhood

Posted by dcoates at 10:46 AM
September 16, 2008
Changes to Citrix Installation

In order to run Cougar Mountain Fund Suite for county offices, you need to first install Citrix. The instructions for installing Citrix, which can be found here, have changed recently. This is because the company who develops Citrix has chamged the location on the web, the name of the software and the way the components installed.

Currently, when installing Citrix, you will need to know the following:

  1. The download location has changed again. A current URL is now: www.citrix.com/English/ss/downloads/details.asp?downloadId=1681207&productId=186&c1=sot2755 ("XenApp Plugin for Hosted Apps -- Version 11.000")
  2. Because the new version of the client has a different name, the component you need to de-select during installation is also named differently. Previously you did NOT install "Program Neighborhood Agent". Now you do NOT install "Citrix XenApp Plugin".
  3. The new version of the client doesn't put Citrix Program Neighborhood on your desktop. Instead launch Program Neighborhood from the Start Menu -- Start, Citrix, Program Neighborhood.
Posted by dcoates at 04:22 PM
May 29, 2008
Update Adobe Flash Player

If you don't have the latest version of Adobe Flash Player (9,0,124,0) you should update now.

To check what version, you currently have, you can go here.

To upgrade, go here.

NOTE: Before you click on 'Agree and install now'...Uncheck 'Free Google Toolbar' (above the 'Agree...' button).

flash install.jpg

Upgrading your Flash player, ensures that you can take full advantage of other Adobe products, like Connect and Presenter, and also ensures that your computer is secure from malicious files that can exploit earlier versions of Adobe Flash Player.

If you use more than one browser (Internet Explorer and Firefox, for example) you'll need to upgrade Flash Player for both browsers (go to this link when you're in both browsers).

Posted by dcoates at 01:47 PM
May 12, 2008
Turning Point "Clicker" Software

An ever increasing number of staff have invested in Turning Technologies Turning Point software. This is more commonly known as the "clicker" software. For those that have not heard of this; clicker software is an add-in to Microsoft's PowerPoint. It allows the presenter to create poll questions that can be answered by the audience. The audience has little remote (the "clicker") to answer these questions.

The software is compatible with both Window's XP and Vista operation systems. It is recommended that you update your computers video card driver if you plan on installing this software. Updating the driver could prevent any future errors. If you need help updating your video card driver please call the hotline at 515-294-1725.

Posted by mmauton at 09:21 AM
February 26, 2008
FileMaker Pro 9.0 Group Purchase

We are now taking orders for FileMaker Pro 9.0. Contact extorders@iastate.edu by April 1, 2008. Tell us what county you are in and how many licenses you will need.

Depending on the total number of orders, the cost will be either $145.00 (if 50 orders are placed) or $132.00 (if 100 or more orders are placed).

Why should I upgrade?

  • this version is compatible with Vista (and beginning April 15th ALL new computers will come with Vista)
  • many counties have older versions that are no longer being supported

Do I need to buy a license for everyone using FileMaker in my office?

  • No. FileMaker Pro 9.0 is backward compatible down to version 7.0. As long as you are running version 7.0 or greater you do not need to purchase a new version for everyone in the office. You only have to purchase for those computers you wish to upgrade or will be getting Vista.

Who do I contact to place an order?

  • send an email to extorders@iastate.edu. Tell us what county you are in and how many licenses you will need.

When do I need to have orders in by?

  • The last day to place orders is April 1st.

Posted by mmauton at 10:10 AM
July 18, 2007
Update: Adobe Connect and Office 2007

Back in April, when we first began moving to Office, 2007, I posted a note of caution when using Powerpoint 2007 with Adobe Connect.

Recently, Adobe Connect released an update which appears to take care of many of these problems. Note:

  • You will still need to save Powerpoint files for Adobe Connect in 97-2003 format (.ppt files)
  • Most 2007 themes now translate correctly in terms of color and fonts when uploaded to Connect meetings (all the themes I've tested have worked, but I haven't tested all available themes)
  • Bullets sometimes convert correctly and sometimes do not. There are always bullets, but they are not always the bullet type in the original theme.
  • There is a new plug-in for creating Adobe Presenter presentations

At this point, If you're planning a Connect meeting and will be using Powerpoint, you may want to upload a sample file once you've selected a theme to be sure that the particular theme (and especially the bullets) will look acceptable in Connect.

Posted by dcoates at 10:08 AM
June 27, 2007
Upgrading to Windows Live Messenger

Most of you using instant messaging are probably using Windows Messenger 5.1. A few of you may be using MSN Messenger. Those who've already updated to the Windows Vista operating system are using Windows Live Messenger.

Windows Live Messenger replaces both previous Messenger products and is the only compatible version for Windows Vista. If you want to communicate via voice or video with Windows Live Messenger users, you'll want to upgrade to Windows Live Messenger.

To upgrade, go to Windows Live Services and click on 'Get it Free'.

On Windows XP, you'll need to be logged in as Administrator to install.

Posted by dcoates at 09:59 AM
April 16, 2007
Adobe Connect and Office 2007

If you are using Powerpoint for Adobe Connect presentations, you may want to wait to upgrade to Office 2007.

Currently, Adobe Connect cannot upload and convert Powerpoint 2007 files. Files saved to the older 97-2003 format from Powerpoint 2007 will usually upload successfully. However, in 2007 Powerpoint templates have been replaced with themes (which use several files instead of a single file) and these do not convert successfully when uploaded to Adobe Connect.

If you have already converted to Office 2007 and you need to use a Powerpoint presentation in Adobe Connect:

  1. Use no theme (plain black text on a white background) or use the ISUE presentation template (this has been tested and seems to work reliably)
  2. Save your powerpoint presentation in 97-2003 format (Select Save As...Powerpoint 97-2003 presentation)

Note: 2003 templates will work in Powerpoint 2007 and will generally upload and convert in Adobe Connect, however, the template will display different colors in Adobe Connect than you will see in Powerpoint.

Posted by dcoates at 02:07 PM
April 12, 2007
Windows Vista and Office 2007--General Information

Office 2007 CDs were sent to field offices in the February 2, 2007 transmittal packet.

Windows Vista DVDs will be sent to field offices in the April 13, 2007 transmittal packet.

Also beginning in April, new computers will be setup with Windows Vista and new computer setups (new computers or computers being setup for new users) will install Office 2007. These CD/DVDs are supplied through the Microsoft Campus Agreement so that you can upgrade if you choose to do so.

At present, there is no push for anyone to convert to either Office 2007 or Windows Vista. We will continue to support Windows XP and Office 2003, although at some point (announced well in advance) this support will end.

Some things to keep in mind as you plan for upgrades in your office:

  • File formats have changed in Office 2007. This means that when you exchange documents with others you should save to an older format (.doc) or to Rich Text Format (.rtf). There is a compatibility pack that allows Office 2003 users to read the new file formats. For more details on file formats go here
  • Some programs are not compatible with Windows Vista. Some of these programs will be compatible when they are upgraded. Some of them are old programs and will not run in Windows Vista, in which case, you will need to change to a different program or phase this program out when you upgrade. (see compatibility table)
  • Office 2007 can run on Windows XP so it's possible to upgrade to Office 2007 without upgrading to Windows Vista
  • Not all machines should be upgraded to Windows Vista. For more information on requirements, go here
  • Windows Vista is being distributed on DVD. If you don’t have a DVD reader on your computer, you will not be able to install Vista.
  • We are recommending a 'clean' install of Windows Vista. This means you will need to back up all your data and make sure you have installation versions of the software you will want to install. The installation process will include reformatting your hard drive. Instructions for Vista installation are here.

Training is currently being offered on Office 2007 and Outlook 2007. If you have further questions about upgrading to Windows Vista and Office 2007 contact the Computer Support Hotline.

Posted by dcoates at 08:52 AM
March 13, 2007
New Thing Seven for Vista: Aero

Aero stands for Authentic, Energetic, Reflective, and open (I don't know if it's always stood for those thing or if, as I suspect, someone thoguht it ought to stand for something(. Aero is the new graphical user interface for Windows Vista. Aero makes possible translucent windows (Aero Glass), Windows Flip, Windows Flip 3D, live thumbnails and other elements of Windows Vista's new look and feel. Aero requires a certain level of graphics capability to run, but if you're running Windows Vista on a machine that doesn't have the capability to show Aero (or projecting on a projector), Windows Vista will fall back to a 'basic' interface that will still allow you to operate in Windows Vista, but will be missing some of the new, 'cool' look and feel characteristics.


Figure 1: Live Thumbnails


Figure 2: Windows Flip (Alt + Tab). This is also an example of Aero Glass--translucent windows.


Figure 3: Windows Flip 3D (Windows + Tab)

Posted by dcoates at 09:41 AM
March 12, 2007
New Thing Six for Vista: Windows Defender

Windows Defender provides protection from spyware and other malware. Spyware can make your computer susceptible to pop-ups, slow performance and other security threats. Defender finds and removes known spyware. Its database of known problem programs is updated automatically on a regular basis.

Windows Defender is not a replacement for McAfee's VirusScan. You will need both programs installed on your Windows Vista computer.


Posted by dcoates at 09:30 AM
March 09, 2007
New Thing Five for Vista: User Account Control

One of the ways that we enhance security for ISUE computers is to have all computers be part of the IASTATE domain so that users have to log in (using Net-IDs). In addition, user accounts are set so that we are generally running as users rather than as administrators. This means that it's more difficult for malware to infect your computer or for your computer to be compromised by hackers.

It also means that it's somewhat more difficult for you to install software and perform neccessary administrator-level tasks. On Windows 2000 and Windows XP, you have to close out of everything you're working on, log off, and log back in as 'Administrator.'

Windows Vista has significantly improved this aspect with User Account Control. With User Account Control, you can do your regular tasks with limited privilege (meaning you don't have administrative privileges when you're doing your regular work), but you can elevate your privileges when needed to install software, etc. In general, when something requires administrator-level privileges, the system will ask you to provide administrative credentials (username and password for your administrator account) and then proceed with the administrative task without requiring you to log out and in again.

In addition, Windows Vista grants more privileges to regular (non-administrator) accounts in some cases than Windows 2000 or XP. First and foremost (the one I think people will notice first) is the ability to add printers without having to either log in as administrator or provide an administrator password. You can also now change power management settings, create and configure VPN connections, and install critical Windows updates from your regular account without invoking administrator privileges.


Many of the instances where elevated privileges are required will appear with a shield.

Logged in as yourself, you can start the process and the system will request your administrator password when required:


Type in your password and continue.

Sometimes a program running in the background (an update program, for example) will put up a similar window, which says 'An unidentified program needs your permission to continue.' At that point you can either type in your password or cancel (if, for example, the program that wants to run is malware that you don't want on your computer).

Posted by dcoates at 04:28 PM
March 06, 2007
New Thing Four for Vista: Printer Installs

The best new thing about printer installs is that you don't have to be logged in as adminsitrator to install printers in Windows Vista.

To install a printer in Vista:

  1. Go to Control Panel, Hardware and Sound, Printers, Add a Printer.
  2. You'll need to know the IP number of the printer you want to install
  3. Select 'Add a network, wireless, or Bluetooth printer'
  4. Vista will search for available printers, but most likely you'll need to select 'The printer that I want isn't listed.'
  5. Select 'Add a printer using TCP/IP address or hostname'
  6. Allow Vista to autodetect the printer (go out on the network nad determine the type of printer and driver needed). Enter the IP address. Leave 'Query the printer and automatically select the driver to use' checked.
  7. Vista will contact the printer. If you've previously installed this printer or another printer of the same make and model, you will be asked if you want to use the driver that's installed or replace it. Click Next.
  8. You should see your printer name (which you can change) and have the chance to set this printer as your default. If you don't want this to be your default printer, uncheck this box.
  9. Your printer is installed. You can print a test page. Click Finish.
  10. And you're finished.
Posted by dcoates at 02:38 PM
New Thing Three for Vista: Control Panels

The Control Panel has a new look (click on the image for a larger view):


Recent tasks are tracked in the left sidebar. You can change to the 'Classic' view. However, things are easier to find than in XP's control panel (so you may not need to revert to Classic view). some items, like Windows Sidebar Properties and Internet Options, appear in more than one category. New control panels, like Windows Defender (more details in a later post), Windows Experience Index, and Windows Sidebar Properties are now included. Instant search is available in the upper right corner and will search in the context of the Control Panels when you're in this specific window.

Posted by dcoates at 11:25 AM
February 20, 2007
Introduction to Windows Vista

On Monday, February 26th at 1:30 PM, we'll be hosting a one hour Connect (formerly Breeze) session on Windows Vista, the new operating system from Microsoft which is replacing Windows XP. You can register at:


In this session, a followup to the previous Preview Office 2007 and Windows Vista, we will cover:

  • The new Start Menu
  • The Control panel
  • Windows Defender
  • User Account Control and Printer Installation
  • The Sidebar
  • Instant Search
  • Recovering previous versions of files and folders
  • Tagging images and documents
  • Aero (the new Windows Vista User interface)
  • The Mobility Center


Posted by dcoates at 01:48 PM
February 19, 2007
New Thing Two for Vista: Instant Search

Instant Search is integrated throughout Vista. You can type a file name, a keyword, or any text contained in a file and you will get quick, organized results for the search. instant Search begins as soon as you start typing in the search windwo so you only need to type as much text as necessary to find the information you're looking for. Instant Search displays programs, files, email, calendar entries, video, audio, news feeds etc.

The first place you'll find it is in the Start menu:


In the Control Panel, Instant Search helps you what you need to perform a particular task:


In addition, you will find Instant Search in the upper-right corner of every Explorer (for example, when you go to Documents, Computer, Music, etc.). Instant Search is context-sensitive so it will search for music when you're in Music and Pictures when you're in Pictures, all files, programs, etc when you're at the Start menu.


Posted by dcoates at 03:42 PM
February 14, 2007
New Thing One for Vista: Start Menu

The Start Menu is now symbolized by a button rather than the word 'Start.' It's located in the same place, though, the bottom left hand corner of the screen:


Inside, the menu looks both familiar and different:


The word 'My' has disappeared. It's now 'Computer,' 'Documents,' 'Pictures,' 'Music,' etc. The 'All Programs' menu is no longer a 'fly-out' menu. Each time you click on a folder (for example, 'Microsoft Office') the folder opens in the same list. A scroll bar appears when you need to move up and down the program list. Items listed on the right sidebar have changed slightly. In addition to listing new names for some items, there is no longer a listing for 'Printers and Faxes' and 'Search' has moved tot he bottom of the Start Menu (I'll be talking about both printers and search in upcoming posts).

'Log Off' and 'Shut Down,' which were previously at the bottom of the Start Menu, have changed to 'Sleep' and 'Lock' icons. There is also a side-pointing arrow.


Clicking on the arrow gives you the Shut Down menu, which includes the ability to Switch users as well as Log Off, Restart, Sleep, and Shut Down.

Posted by dcoates at 11:49 AM
February 07, 2007
Overview of Office 2007

On Monday, February 12th at 1:30 PM, we'll be hosting a one hour Breeze (Connect) session on Office 2007. You can register at: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/comp/training/online

In this session, a followup to the previous Preview Office 2007 and Windows Vista, we will cover:

General information:

  • CDs to field offices
  • File formats
  • How to add PDF capability to Office
  • Quick access toolbar
  • Document inspector


  • Live Preview
  • Defaults
  • Tables
  • Text boxes
  • Mail and labels


  • Overlay calendars
  • Search All Mail
  • Permission to view
  • Scheduling meetings


  • What's in the Excel Ribbon
  • Formulas tab
  • Format as table
  • Charts
  • Conditional Formatting


  • Smartart
  • Custom slide show
  • Custom slide layout
  • Reuse slides
  • Package for CD

Hope you can join us.

Posted by dcoates at 03:23 PM
February 06, 2007
Yet More News About Office 2007 and Windows Vista

I've finished up my series of posts on Ten New Things in Office 2007. I'll be following up shortly with a new series covering Ten new Things About Windows Vista. In addition, we've had two Breeze (Connect) sessions providing a brief overview of both Office 2007 and Windows Vista. Upcoming, will be two additional Breeze (Connect) sessions, one on Office 2007 and one on Windows Vista, which will provide a further introduction to the new features. Finally, there will be one hour presentations on Office 2007 and Windows Vista at Professional Development Day, March 15th.

Office 2007 was distributed to field offices in last week's transmittal packet. For more information, check here and here.

Windows Vista will not be distributed to ISU Extension offices at this time, though we will be announcing that date shortly. Because installing Windows Vista requires a 'clean install' (saving off all your data, wiping your hard drive, loading Windows Vista, then re-loading all your programs and data) we will be developing and testing detailed instructions on this process before releasing Windows Vista. In addition, your computer needs to meet minimum requirements before installing Vista (I'll be putting those minimum requiremens up on TechNews shortly). Windows Vista will come on a DVD, rather than a CD, so can only be installed on computers with DVD readers.

Both Windows Vista and Office 2007 are licensed under Iowa State University's MCA agreement with Microsoft. This means that the university has paid to license upgrade versions of this software for office computers. There is no additional cost to you for the software.

Posted by dcoates at 03:13 PM
February 01, 2007
More Information on Office 2007s new file formats

As we mentioned here and in the Breeze (Connect) introductions to Office 2007 and Windows Vista, Office 2007 is introducing new file formats in Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and other applications. There has been some legitimate concern about what these new file formats mean for people who convert to Office 2007 and particularly for communicating with people who are not using Office 2007--and may not even be using Office. Microsoft has provided some ways to ease this transition.

1. Compatibility update for people using earlier versions of Office

Microsoft provides a Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and Powerpoint 2007 Files for people who are still using earlier versions of Office which makes it possible for them to read documents in the new formats while still running an older version of Office.

To get the Office 2007 compatibility pack:
If your system is set to automatically update Windows and Office then the first time you open an Office 2007 document, you will be asked if you want to add compatibility. Saying yes will take you to the download page for the Compatibility Pack.

Install with the following steps:

  1. Save the converter to your computer.
  2. Right-click and select 'Run as...' (You will need to know your administrator password).
  3. Once the converter is installed open Office 2007 documents in your current version of Office

Or, for anyone at anytime, go to Microsoft Downloads to download and install the converter (follow the same instructions above). Whenever you receive a document in an Office 2007 format, you will be able to open, read, and edit it.

2. Changing the default in Office 2007 to Save As 97-2003 (older format)

If you're exchanging documents frequently with people where you either don't know what version of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc they have or when you know they do not yet have Office 2007, you can change the default document format in Office 2007 to the older 97-2003 format. To do this, you will have to change the default in each application through the following:

In the application you want to change:

  1. Click on the Office button
  2. Click on the Options button in the lower right corner of the window
  3. Select Save
  4. For Save Files in this format, click on the down arrow and select 97-2003 (in Word, '97-2003 document (*.doc))

3. Additional tips for sharing documents with others

  • Use the Save As option in Office 2007 to save a single document in 97-2003 (older) format
  • Save a Word document as an RTF (Rich Text Format). This is very useful if you don't know whether the person you're exchanging documents with even has Office in any version. RTF will retain most formatting, including margins, tabs, tables, bold, italics, etc
  • Save a document as a PDF file. Remember Office 2007 now has an add-in which adds the ability to save documents in PDF format (Instructions for getting the PDF add-in are here).
Posted by dcoates at 10:57 AM
Office 2007 CDs

Office 2007 CDs will be coming in this week's (February 2nd) transmittal packet. We are sending them out at this time so that all offices will have a copy of the program and so that early adopters can install and start using the program.

There is no need to install Office 2007 at this time.

You should wait to install Office 2007:

  • If you are more comfortable with writtten support materials, peer support, and hands-on training
  • If you are working with complex documents on deadline and don't have the time to learn a new system immediately

You might install Office 2007 at your convenience:

  • If you are comfortable using new technology
  • If you can adjust easily to a different look and feel
  • If you want to spend some time exploring the new setup and finding out for yourself where things are and what new features are available

Support materials for Office 2007 will generally take the form of TechNews postings and pointers to additional resources at Microsoft and other locations. Training dates in your areas will be announced soon (via TechNews and other venues).

Office 2007 is currently being supported by EIT and the Support Hotline (515-294-1725). However, this is a new program with many new features and we may not always have an immediate answer to your questions as we continue to explore and learn this technology ourselves.

If you want to see a brief demonstration of Office 2007 and Windows Vista, you can view the recording of a recent Breeze (Connect) event at: http://breeze.extension.iastate.edu/p90339238/. You may also want to review the Technews postings on Ten New Things about Office 2007, which begin here

Posted by dcoates at 08:35 AM
January 30, 2007
New Thing Ten: Creating PDF Files

As a free add-in from Microsoft, you will have the ability to save files in PDF format in Office 2007. This means that you can create a Word document and then save it to PDF format to send to people or put up on a web page. You will not need an additional program (for example, Adobe Acrobat) to create PDF files anymore. You will still need Adobe Acrobat if you want to edit PDF files or convert a file that's currently PDF to a Word document.

Some important notes:

--This feature is not available 'out of the box' in Office 2007. If you've just installed Office 2007, you will not see 'PDF or XPS' as an option under 'Save as.'
--The ability to save Office documents as PDF files is a free add-in from Microsoft.

To install the PDF add-in to Office 2007:

  1. Login as 'Administrator' (if you're still on Windows XP)
  2. Enter Word (or Excel or Powerpoint--you only need to add this feature once and it will be available in all Office applications).
  3. Click on the Office button and select 'Save As.'
  4. Select 'Find add-ins for other file formats' (If you already have the add-in installed, the menu will not contain this option but will have 'PDF or XPS' instead).
  5. Click on 'Install and use the Save as PDF or XPS add-in...'
  6. Click on 'Microsoft Save as PDF or XPS Add-in...'
  7. Follow the instructions at the Microsoft Download Center for installing the PDF or XPS add-in

You can also access the add-in by going to Office Help and typing 'add pdf' in the search box.

Posted by dcoates at 03:49 PM
New Thing Nine: Permission to View (Outlook)

If you've shared calendars with other people in your office in Outlook 2003, you know that it can be a complicated process. You have to change the permissions for your calendar, which involves finding the permissions tab, setting permissions to 'reviewer' status (if what you want is for them to be able to view, but not change, your calendar). You don't know whether you've done it correctly until they actually try to bring up your calendar in their Outlook and even then, you're only half-way done. Now they have to set permissions on their calendar so you can read it.

In Outlook 2007, the process is simpler, although it is still under your individual control whether you grant other people the right to view items in your calendar (remember: it's not necessary for others to have rights to view your calendar if all they want to do is see whether you are available for a meeting. Meetings can be scheduled by viewing Free/Busy times, which everyone on the system can see and use). To view an individual's calendar in Outlook 2007, select 'Open a Shared Calendar' and type in the person's name or Net-ID. If you have permission to view, their calendar will appear on the screen. If you do not have permission to view, you'll see the following:


...where 'Davenport, Floyd D [C EXT] would be replaced by the name of the person whose specific calendar you're requesting permission to view.

If you say 'Yes,' you will see the following:


Sharing request: Calendar (click to see larger image)

At this point you can also choose to click the box that gives the recipient permission to view your calendar as well. Before the message is sent, outlook confirms that you want to give the recipient 'Reviewer' rights (the ability to view but not to edit or delete) items on your calendar. When they receive your message, they can 'Accept' or 'Decline' or choose to send you a message back.

Their response to you will look like:


Allowed: Sharing request: Calendar response (click to see larger image)

Posted by dcoates at 03:27 PM
January 25, 2007
New Thing Eight: To Do Lists, Flags, and Categories

Okay, really, Office 2003 also had To Do Lists, Flags and Categories. But Office 2007 adds capabilities to each of these features making them (one hopes) more practical, efficient and useable for managing your email, tasks and appointments.


Flags in Outlook 2007

Office 2007 has enhanced the Flags feature. If you haven't been using Flags, they provide a way to indicate that a particular email or task or appointment is designated for followup. in Office 2003, the basic states for items was simply unflagged or flagged. In Office, 2007, you can flag something for followup today, tomorrow, this week, next week, or a customized date you choose.

Categories are also more flexible. You can change the names of categories. You can assign more than one category to a task, appointment or email. You can create category search folders so that it's easy to find all items in a particular category. you can change and rename categories and you have a wider range of color coding to choose from. The primary changes from categories on Office 2003 are the abilities to use more than one category for an item and the broader range of codings.


Categories List in Outlook 2007

In Outlook, when you're viewing your email, you can now also have a 'To Do Bar' open on the right-hand side of the screen. The To Do Bar can be open (you will see all contents), minimized (you will see only the most important current items), or closed (you won't see it at all). The To Do Bar, which can be customized, contains a monthly calendar, your next 'x' number of appointments (default is '3'). And your task list. You can also customize which of these items appears on your To Do Bar. In addition, it is now possible for your tasks to appear at the bottom of your calendar on the day they're due.


To Do Bar

Posted by dcoates at 10:06 AM
January 23, 2007
New Thing Seven: Overlay Calendars

In Office 2007, as was also true in Office 2003, you can view another user's calendar (provided that they have given you permission to view it). In Office 2003, however, you can only view another user's calendar in relation to yours or other calendars in side by side mode. In Office 2007, you can choose to view calendars either side by side or in a new format called overlay mode.


Side by Side calendar views (click image to see larger view)


Overlay calendar views (click image to see larger view)

You can view multiple calendars in either side by side or overlay mode (or a combination of the two). To switch between modes, you can either click on the arrow beside a user's name or, from the View menu, select, "View in Overlay Mode" or "View in Side-by-Side Mode."

Posted by dcoates at 10:20 AM
January 18, 2007
New Thing Six: New Default Margins and Font

Several default settings have changed in Office 2007. The two most noticeable are the default font and the default margins.

The new default font is a brand-new font called Calibri. The default size is now 11, rather than 12. Times New Roman (the old default font in Office 2003) is still available, but no longer the default.


New default font in Word (click on image to see larger)

Default margins have also changed. In Word, for example, the default margins are one inch all around (top, bottom, and sides) instead of 1.25 inches:


Posted by dcoates at 03:49 PM
January 17, 2007
New Thing Five: Live Preview and Styles

Live Preview means that you can see how something is going to look in Word, Excel, or Powerpoint before you actually commit to changing a paragraph, cell or slide. To see what a style or theme or other change looks like all you need to do in Office 2007 is float your cursor over the style or theme in question and you'll see that change temporarily reflected on the section of the document you've selected or the current active line if you haven't selected anything specifically.


In addition, Office 2007 has added a whole slew of styles and themes organized into galleries that make it simpler to format documents and presentations. Each of these styles can be viewed through Live Preview, only becoming a permanent change when you click on the style or theme rather than simply floating your cursor over it (as always, 'undo' undoes any 'permanent' change even after you've clicked on a selection).

Styles and themes can be found on the ribbon with a small box illustrating what the specific style will look like:

word styles.jpg

Word Styles


Powerpoint Themes


Excel Themes

Here's an interactive demonstration of Live Preview as well as other features of the new Office interface including Ribbons, tabs, and the Office button

Posted by dcoates at 09:51 AM
January 16, 2007
New Thing Four: Automatic Configuration in Outlook 2007

Today's new thing is brief because it's so easy there isn't much to say about it.

The instructions for setting up Outlook in Office 2003 looked like this:

outlook 2003 instructions.jpg

Four pages, several screens, a number of questions to answer.

The new instructions look like this:

both screens.jpg

That's right just two simple questions:

  1. Do you want to set up e-mail?
  2. Is this your name?

Since all your current email is stored on the server, Outlook automatically loads that for you. You will still need to copy over your archive files if you're switching from an old computer to a new one, but at this point you're ready to receive, read, and reply to your email. For new staff (once they've received their Net-ID and Exchange accounts) these are the only steps they'll need to complete.

Posted by dcoates at 09:25 AM
January 12, 2007
New Thing Three: File Formats

Word, Excel, and Powerpoint save files in new XML-based formats in Office 2007. One advantage--any application that supports XML can access and work with the information stored in the new file formats, whether that application is part of MS Office or not. In addition, the new file formats are more robust (less susceptible to corruption), more efficient (smaller file sizes), and secure (you can easily remove personally identifiable or business-sensitive information like user names, comments and file paths).

The new files also have new extensions. Instead of .doc, Word files are saved as .docx. Instead of .ppt, Powerpoint files are saved as .pptx. Excel workbook files are saved as .xlsx rather than .xls.

These new file formats in Office 2007 are backwards-compatible with older Windows versions of Office (specifically Office 2000, XP, and 2003). If your machine has been kept up to date with Microsoft Update (which should include any machine in the IASTATE domain), you should already have the ability to open 2007 file formats in Office 2003. What this means is that if one person in your office upgrades, everyone else in your office can still open, read, and edit those files. Some features that are strictly available in Office 2007 won't be available; however, the basic information and layout will be intact.

When you try to open an Office 2007 document in Office 2003 for the first time, you will see a prompt that says, in effect--this is a new file format, do you want to download a plug-in to enable Office to read it? Once you've downloaded and installed the plug-in, you will be able to open Office 2007 XML files.

Finally, it is always possible to save files in Office 2007 as Word 97-2003 documents rather than save them in the newer format. You can either do this with individual documents or you can change the default so that you always save in Word 97-2003 file formats. The disadvantage of this solution is that you lose some of the new features of Office 2007 when saving to older file formats.

Posted by dcoates at 10:17 AM
January 11, 2007
New Thing Two: The Office Button

One of the big changes in Office 2007 is the disappearance of the File menu. In the past, this menu has consistently contained New, Open, Save, Save as..., Print, Page Setup and other important commands for manipulating your document. Outlook 2007 does retain a traditional File menu. However, in Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, this menu has been replaced with the Office button.


The Office button is consistent between applications and contains New, Open, Save, Save as, Print, Prepare, Send, Publish, and Close. It also contains your list of most recently opened documents and separate buttons for Options (which include things like formatting and display options).


Office Button Drop-down Menu

Save as not only allows you to save to another file name, but to older Word formats, to a PDF file, to a template, etc. Print gives you the option to set options, then print, to send directly to the printer, and to preview before printing. Prepare, Send, and Publish provide options for finalizing and distributing your document, spreadsheet, or presentation.

Posted by dcoates at 11:59 AM
January 09, 2007
New Thing One: Ribbons in Office 2007

For Word, Excel, and Powerpoint (but not Outlook), those familiar File, Edit, Help menus are gone as are the toolbars, replaced by something called Ribbons. Items on the Ribbon are organized into groups, accessed via tabs, which vary by application, including Home, Insert, View, Page Layout (Word and Excel), Design (Powerpoint), and others.

All the basic functions are still present. Many of them, like changing font types and size are much easier to access. However, if you knew the old menus by heart...the new ribbons may take some getting used to.


Powerpoint 2007 Home Ribbon (click on image to see larger)

word ribbonsmall.jpg

Word 2007 Home Ribbon (click on image to see larger)

Excel ribbonsmall.jpg

Excel 2007 Home Ribbon (click on image to see larger)

For more information, visit: Basic Training for the Ribbon and Use the Ribbon at Microsoft's Office Online site.

Posted by dcoates at 03:33 PM
January 08, 2007
Ten New Things in Office 2007

In a series of ten posts, I'll be talking in more detail about ten things that have been added to/changed in Office 2007. We expect to have new Office 2007 CDs ready to send to field offices in early to mid February. if you're on campus, you'll be able to get Office 2007 through your departmental support or through ITS.

Features of Office 2007 that I'll be discussing in more detail over the next week or two include:

  1. Ribbons
  2. Office button
  3. File Formats
  4. Automatic configuration (Outlook)
  5. Live Preview/Styles
  6. New defaults (margins/fonts)
  7. Overlay calendars
  8. To do lists, Flags, and calendars
  9. Permission to view (calendar)
  10. Creating PDFs

Office 2007 will run on Windows XP. At this point there is no requirement for you to move from Office 2003 to Office 2007, but as always with new programs, we will eventually be dropping support for the older version(s). Also, some of these new features make Office 2007 better and easier to use, particularly in Outlook when using calendars. We're hoping that you'll want to take advantage of some of these new features.

A reminder: We'll be offering a look at both Office 2007 and Windows Vista (which replaces Windows XP) via Breeze on Monday, January 22nd at 1:30 PM. If you haven't registered and are interested, go to: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Comp/training/online for details.

Posted by dcoates at 10:37 AM