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Preparing to Contact the Help Desk

Contacting the ITS Help Desk can sometimes be a frustrating experience. Issues such as long wait times or the seemingly never-ending stream of questions can cause our tempers to flare. Before you begin planning out your next salvo against the help desk personnel, here are a few tips that will help you prepare for the call and hopefully alleviate some of the frustration.

Let them know who you are

Provide your name, e-mail address, phone number and location. If you are in a county office or a REC, be sure they are aware of this as well. Support can vary greatly depending on your location, and the more information you can provide on who your support providers are (NDSU, NDACo/NRG, county, etc.), the easier it will be for the technician on the phone to determine what they can do and who may need to get involved.

Sometimes you will be asked for your EMPLID. The EMPLID doesn’t just identify you to the technician; they need it to be able to view and/or change your account settings. Everyone with an NDSU email has an EMPLID, so county-paid and other staff can be identified with their NDSU email.

Be prepared to identify your computer

Provide the NDSU inventory number (green metallic tag) and your operating system and version (Windows 7, Mac OS, etc.) if possible.

Describe the issue with as much detail as you can

Begin by explaining what has happened. Depending on the complexity of the issue, you may asked to repeat part or all of your explanation for the technician to get a good grasp on the situation. Please do not be offended if you are asked to repeat; they don’t want to miss any details that could help them resolve the issue more quickly.

Providing information such as what you were doing and/or what programs were running at the time can be a big help. If you can, note the time and date when the problem happened in case the technician needs to look through logs. If you are having trouble accessing a Web page, be sure to have the Web address (URL) handy. Lastly, try to write down any error messages you received. This will be a huge help when searching for symptoms and/or solutions.

The Help Desk is best able to assist you when provided with the information above. While they may not always be able to help you get it resolved on the first call, this information will certainly help streamline the process, resulting in a faster overall resolution.

Jerry Ranum, Desktop Support Specialist; ITS Help Desk, (701) 231-8685

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Talking About Digital Badges

On March 25 at 1 p.m. (Central) I'll be moderating a conversation about digital badges in Cooperative Extension. The eXtension Network Literacy Community of Practice is presenting "Critical Conversations: Digital Badges" to introduce digital badges as a way of recognizing achievements, successes and experience.

Digital BadgesGuests Tony Cook of Alabama Cooperative Extension, Brett Bixler of Penn State University and I will discuss how digital badges might be used to recognize learning people gain with the help of Extension, how digital badges could change the way we view credentials, and how badging might impact social and informal learning.

Brett Bixler works with the "latest educational technologies and learning theories to produce learner-centered active and collaborative learning environments."

Tony Cook leads the For Youth, For Life Learning Network project, leveraging the power of online networks for youth learning. Last year, the project won $150,000 in the Badges for Lifelong Learning competition.

I interviewed Dr. Cook for the "Working Differently in Extension" podcast. Check out that podcast and join us for the Critical Conversation on March 25.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Have Your Elevator Speech Ready

We all have read, heard or seen legislative news stories coming out of Bismarck. With these news stories fresh in our minds, it is a good time to think about what you would say if you had a few seconds with a legislator.

Are you prepared to deliver a short message (30 seconds) about why the work you do is important to his or her constituents?

That short elevator speech is what you want people to hear and remember.

  • Introduce yourself – My name is [your name], and I work for [insert name] as a [job title].
  • Give him or her a few quick facts on how the organization has made a difference. I know, there may be 10, but you have only 30 seconds.
  • Ask a question back. Is there more I can share?
  •  Jot down what you want to emphasize and memorize it.
  • While delivering your message, do it with confidence.

Some examples:

Hi. I’m Rich Mattern, and I work for the NDSU Extension Service and Research Extension Centers across the state. I take research-based information and write about it so it can be passed along in various media to those who want it in quick and an easily understandable form.

I’m Jack Spah. Glad to meet you. I am a pulse crop breeder in the NDSU Plant Sciences Department. Pulse crops, such as lentils, play an important role in North Dakota agriculture because of their ability to fix nitrogen in the soil and the healthy benefits of eating pulse crops. My job is to develop new varieties that will grow well in North Dakota, which will improve the state’s economy.

Hi. I’m Brittney Olson, a food and nutrition specialist in Mercury County. I use my expertise to help individuals make unique, positive lifestyle changes so they live a longer, healthier life. The food and nutrition information is based on research by leading scientists.

Rich Mattern, Information Specialist, (701) 231-6136

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Write the Right Word: Numbers or Words

Trying to decide when to use figures or words can be confusing.

The general rule is to spell out numbers below 10 and use figures for 10 and above. However, like most rules, this one has several exceptions. Here are a few of the common instances when you would use figures for amounts below 10:

  • Measurements such as cups, gallons, teaspoons, tablespoons, ounces, pounds, tons, kilograms, milligrams, feet, yards, inches, miles or kilograms per gallon or hour, and temperatures
  • Money ($1, $1 million, 5 cents)
  • Ratios, scores, vote totals and ages for humans or animals
  • Percents/percentage
  • Chapter and page numbers
  • Clock time (1 a.m., 4 p.m.) except for noon and midnight

Ellen Crawford, information specialist, (701) 231-5391

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Use Google Maps in Ag CMS

You can insert Google Maps into Ag CMS pages, events and news items, making it easy for people to find county offices and events. Check out this How-To on YouTube (3:02).

By the way, if you need to get screenshots or do quick recordings (less than 5 minutes long) like this, you can download Jing for free. It's easy to use. Download Jing 

Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 241-6403

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If CRAAP Doesn't Work for You, Try SMELL

In my recent post, "Think Before Hitting 'Share'," I suggested using the CRAAP test (currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose) to evaluate online content before sharing it.

Image courtesy Luke Gattuso, McManus offers another useful tool for testing online information in his post, "Don't Be Fooled: Use the SMELL Test To Separate Fact from Fiction Online." Here's the SMELL test.

S stands for Source. Who is providing the information? 
M is for Motivation. Why are they telling me this?
E represents Evidence. What evidence is provided for generalizations?
L is for Logic. Do the facts logically compel the conclusions?
L is for Left out. What's missing that might change our interpretation of the information?

Whether you use the CRAAP test, the SMELL test or both. Make sure you take the time to see if something stinks before sharing content online.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

Image courtesy Luke Gattuso

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Marketing: Photos are Important

Girl in greenhouse

Images have never mattered more to marketers, brands, social media managers and customers. How can you use images to create an emotional connection? One strategy is to give context to your images by showing people in their natural setting, such as in the field, home, cafe' or office compared with cold, static shots.This helps people envision themselves in the same setting and may inspire them to use our services or products.

Bruce Sundeen has some tips on taking high-quality photos, Please share your photos on the Ag Comm Flickr group.

As with all marketing strategies, keep in mind your long-term, big-picture goals. Using images and visual social media strategies should be just one part of a comprehensive, integrated marketing strategy. The key to marketing success on social channels and beyond is all about producing engaging content,and your visual strategy should be no different.

(Some information used with permission from PRWeb)

Rich Mattern, Information Specialist, (701) 231-6136

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Tegrity & CMA Replace Streamed Recording & ConferenceMe

All meetings and classes offered over the Interactive Video Network (IVN) now utilize Tegrity for recording. This recording is done at the host site rather than on the IVN servers. Tegrity requires some equipment modifications in the video rooms. It can record a live event and pre-record presentations. Tegrity requires a computer in the room, a free software download and audio adaptations. Minimal training is needed since the presenter needs to set up the record feature. For more information and recommendations for adapting, contact David Belgarde with NDUS Advanced Learning Technologies (ALT) at (701) 777-4232.

Also, Polycom’s Converged Management Application (CMA) has replaced ConferenceMe. CMA is desktop-based software that allows users to connect to classes or meetings from their computer if they do not have access to a videoconferencing room. A webcam, USB headphone with microphone, user account and brief training are required. To create an account or learn more, contact Daniel Erichsen at (701) 231-5136 or David Belgarde at (701) 777-4232. For technical difficulties during the event, call the ALT help desk at (701) 777-6486.

Linda McCaw, Ag Videoconference Scheduler, (701) 231-7881

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Upcoming Computer Support Changes May Affect You

NDSU will be retiring support for Windows XP at the end of June. Any computer, on or off campus, still running Windows XP will need to either be upgraded  to Windows 7 or replaced with a newer model to continue receiving technical support.

To find out if your computer can be upgraded, visit the Ag IT Advisory Group (AITAG) hardware baseline and compare your computer to the Windows 7 upgrade table. If your computer is the same model or newer than the computers listed, you can request an upgrade through your departmental software contact. If you have questions, contact the ITS help desk at (701) 231-8685, Option 1.

For those of you on campus, the switch from Novell to Active Directory (AD) is drawing near. In about one month, everyone with computers not migrated will not automatically connect to the shared drives. In the next couple weeks, many of you will receive email from the NDSU help desk discussing the migration of the U, S and X drives. These messages will provide details on the upcoming move and what you need to do (if anything) to prepare. Please be sure to read these messages!

Since computers running Windows XP are not being connected to the Active Directory, they will need to be connected to the new shared drives manually. More information can be found on the ITS File Services website under Connect to Windows File Services.

Jerry Ranum, Desktop Support Specialist; ITS Help Desk, (701) 231-8685

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Think Before Hitting "Share"

Almost every day I see at least one post on Facebook that makes me think, "Is that for real?" Images like the one below about U.S. soldiers being denied breakfast are great at getting people motivated to click the "Share" button, but are they true?

Soldiers Going Hungry LetterLike most inaccurate content, the letter in the photo below has a tiny grain of truth in it, but on the whole is untrue.

When you are active on social media, whether personally or professionally, it is important to be able to distinguish content that can be trusted from rumor. Often a quick search will tell you if there is evidence to support the content being shared.

Before you retweet or share something on social media, take a moment to assess the reliability of the info. One quick way to test information for reliability is to use the CRAAP test. CRAAP is an acronym that stands for currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose. Ask questions like:

  • Is the information current?
  • Who is the author or publisher?
  • What are their qualifications?Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Can you verify the information from another source?
  • What is the purpose of the information? to inform? teach? sell? entertain? persuade?

If you want to learn more, Steve Judd of the Network Literacy Community of Practice has a helpful blog post, "Is that so? - Assessing the reliability of online information".

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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