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Agriculture Communication

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Images: Raster vs. Vector

A raster image is made up of hundreds of little squares or pixels. Each little pixel has information letting the computer or printer know where it is in the image and what color it needs to be when the image is viewed or printed. A vector image uses geometric primitives like lines, curves and points, which uses mathematical equations to tell the computer and printer what to do when printed or viewed on your computer screen.

Now, what are their uses? Raster images are photos and gradient images that have lots of colors. Vector images are better suited for flat images like logos and illustrations. A vector image will always keep its crisp, clean lines no matter how much you enlarge it. A raster image will get pixelated as it increases in size -- the little square or pixel only gets bigger, which makes it more visible the larger it gets. Another plus to using a vector image of a logo/identifier is that the background can be transparent where a raster image like a JPG of a logo/identifier will have that white box around it.

Dave Haasser, Graphic Designer, 701-231-8620

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Email List Tip of the Month: Only from Other NDSU Emails

NDSU Extension has updated some internal email lists recently:

To avoid spam and keep them for internal use, these and other listservs managed by the Extension director’s office are set so that only others using their @ndsu.edu address can send messages to them.

If you're a listserv owner, follow these instructions from Lori Lymburner on how to do that:

  1. Log in to Listserv.
  2. Go to List Management > List Configuration > List Configuration Wizard.
  3. Select your list from the drop down.
  4. Click on the gold/orange Access Control tab.
  5. In the middle of the options under that tab, change the Send= option to Private.
  6. Directly under that is a box for Special. Enter *@ndsu.edu and *@ndus.edu in that box.
  7. Click the save button in the bottom right side of the screen.
  8. Repeat steps 3-7 for each list that you own.
  9. Log out of Listserv.
Private email list

Also, if you create or already own email lists, be sure to have at least one other person as an owner for backup.

 Becky Koch, Ag Communication Director, 701-231-7875

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Beware of Phishing Emails

We've written about the dangers of opening an email that's "phishing" you. It's masked to look legitimate but has malicious intent, such as gaining your personal information or attaching viruses that will infect your computer. As long as there's personal data to be mined or hackers' satisfaction in ruining others' devices, phishing and other scams are here to stay.

Two days in a row last week, I received the same email from "Dean Bresciani," but it had all the telltale signs of a phished email:

  • I wasn't expecting this email
  • Bresciani's email address is not an NDUS email
  • Typos or grammatical errors

 Bresciani phish


Seeing all these signs, I reported this email to so they can be made aware of attempts to steal information from students, faculty and staff and try to alleviate any threat of a disingenuous email sender.

Never open an email that looks suspicious, is threatening or asks for your personal information. Always to determine the safety of opening a suspicious email.

For more information, review an article I wrote last year about phishing.

, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-6403

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Write the Right Word: Quality

Avoid using “quality” when describing or modifying a noun. Despite the way it is being used, it’s not a substitute for words such as “good,” “great” or “fine.”

Quality also can be bad, poor or mediocre. So if someone says, “I just saw a quality performance,” you really don’t know anything about the performance.

When we communicate with our audiences, we need to be concise, but we also need to be clear. So the next time you think of using “quality” to modify a noun, remember, it needs its own modifier. For example: “We want to have high-quality health care.” Or this: “The drought resulted in a poor-quality wheat crop in parts of the state.”

“Quality” as a noun doesn’t need a modifier. For example, “I question the quality of this gadget.” Or this: “The reviewer offered his opinion on the play’s quality.”

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

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Write the Right Word: Drop the ‘S’

When using words indicating direction such as “toward,” “forward” and “upward,” you don’t need to tack an “s” on the end.

That’s according to the Association Press Stylebook, which we follow in Ag Communication.

Here are some examples:

  • “The line moved forward a few inches at a time.”
  • “The cattle ran toward the fence.”
  • “The monthly report indicates an upward trend in sales.”

“Afterward,” which means at a later time, subsequently or thereafter, also should not have an “s” at the end, the AP Stylebook says. For instance, “The fire happened while the homeowner was away, but he found out about it shortly afterward.”

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

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Email List Tip of the Month: "All" and Subject Lines

Think twice before you send a message to any email list that includes “all.” The three units of Agricultural Affairs each have an email list, and each has many people on the list:

  • NDSU-all-coa@ -- 242 College of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Natural Resources faculty and staff
  • NDSU-all-exp@ -- 436 N.D. Agricultural Experiment Station faculty and staff
  • NDSU-allext@ -- 325 faculty and staff with NDSU Extension appointments

Together, these three make up NDSU-all-ag@ --more than 1,000 email addresses, though duplicates are cut so you only receive the message once if you have a joint appointment.

Practice email etiquette when you send to any listserv or to individuals, especially in the subject line. These are the few words that help receivers decide whether or not to even open your message.

  • Use a meaningful, clear, direct subject line, not something vague such as “Question” or “Save the date.”
  • Use action-oriented verbs rather than words like “update” or “newsletter.” Maybe focus on the lead story information of the update or newsletter. (OK, Let’s Communicate breaks that rule.)
  • Don’t reply on a totally different topic and leave the subject line. Rewrite the subject line to focus on the current topic.
  • Keep the subject line short enough so the receiver sees all the words – 50 characters max.

Becky Koch, Agriculture Communication Director, 701-231-7875

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How NDSU Faculty and Staff Can Be Politically Active

At a campus forum, NDSU Chief of Staff Chris Wilson explained how faculty and staff can be politically active without violating the state’s corruption statutes.

“We all wear different hats, so what you can say and do depends on what hat you’re wearing when,” Wilson said. “We don’t lose rights as state employees. In fact, Board of Higher Ed policy encourages civic participation. We just have to clarify what hat we’re wearing by stating if we’re representing ourselves or the institution. We can’t speak for NDSU unless we’re authorized to.”

However, Wilson said North Dakota’s corrupt practices law prohibits the use of state resources for political purposes. Generally speaking, “political purposes” refers to ballot measures and candidates – things that happen on election day, not legislative testimony. So if you’re asked to provide information to legislators because you’re an expert on the topic, that’s not a political purpose. Even then, he suggests clarifying that your opinion is based on your expertise and that you’re not speaking on behalf of NDSU.

WilsonHowever, if you are speaking on a ballot measure or on behalf of a candidate, “you must take personal leave. Don’t work on a campaign at the office since time is a state asset,” Wilson said. “Use your personal computer and non-NDSU email to contact legislators on political issues. Don’t give opponents an opportunity to make it an issue.”

Wilson encouraged NDSU faculty and staff to communicate with legislators.

“Reach out to local legislators; just clarify that you’re speaking for yourself, not NDSU,” he said. “Tell them you’re a constituent, and be concise, short and professional.”

For questions about the NDUS or NDSU political activities policies or N.D. corrupt practices law, contact Wilson at christopher.s.wilson@ndsu.edu or 231-6409.

, Agriculture Communication Director, 701-231-7875

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Ag Comm Webinar: Cloud Storage

For a brief overview of the Microsoft and Google cloud storage options available at NDSU, see the Ag Comm webinar recording

YouTube thumbnail

, IT Systems Specialist, 701-231-6395

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Improving Your Website

Image: Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thumbs_up_icon_fixed.pngSince Adams County Extension is currently without staff, I was asked to make some updates to their website. Besides just removing the name of the person who was listed, I took a minute to make some improvements. See The Before and After and see if you can use some of these to improve your website.

1. I replaced their logo since they still had an old one that said “Service.” If you don’t have a logo on your website or if you need the updated one, counties and RECs can get them on the Extension logos page. N.D. Agricultural Experiment Station and REC logos are on the NDAES logos page.

2. I kept the first paragraph since it does a good job of explaining what the county office does, but I added a note that currently there’s no staff to contact, but there are some alternatives. Have a call to action on each your pages, even if it is just for more information.

3. I replaced the location information that was in the middle of the page with the automated staff directory. Since the directory is managed by administration, it will always be up to date with the staff listing and location. If you don’t already have the directory on your website, you easily can add it using these instructions.

4. The website did a nice job of including some photos, which makes the page more appealing. Many studies show the importance of visuals when it comes to keeping someone’s online attention. People can relate to photos.

But since the office location information was formerly between the photos, I had to add a new one so there wasn’t a big space where the address information had been. I snooped around their site a bit and found some pictures on their 4-H page, so I added that to fill the void.

If you have trouble finding photos for your website, social media or marketing materials, check the free images listed on Ag Comm’s Photos and Illustrations page.

Want more information about how to improve your website? Attend Bob Bertsch’s presentation at Extension/REC Fall Conference. Contact either of us if you’d like help with improving your webpages.

Thumbs Up image from Wikimedia Commons

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

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Write the Right Word: One Word or Two?

Sometimes two words get pushed together to form one thought.

I don’t know of an easy way to remember which are one word or two. Here are a few examples, based on the Associated Press Stylebook, which Ag Comm follows for spelling grammar and punctuation, or the Random House Unabridged Dictionary for words not in the AP Stylebook.

One Word

Airfare

Airflow

Cellphone

Cleanup when used as a noun and adjective. For example: “The oil spill cleanup took several days.” “The cleanup process will take weeks.”

Mealtime

Oftentimes

Two Words

Boot camp

Cow herd

Feed mill

Seat belt

Sugar beet

Wild rice

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

 

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