Agriculture Communication


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Technology Updates

Live phone numbers on movilePhone numbers pulled from the Extension directory into your mobile device now can be dialed at the touch of a finger. Thanks to Roger Egeberg, your mobile device now should highlight each phone number so that you can just tap it to take you to your phone function then tap it again to dial the number. If this doesn't work on your mobile device, try a different browser. Roger is researching how to make this possible with all phone numbers.

Google Forms, Eventbrite, Brown Paper Tickets and other services make it easy to take registrations. However, if you're charging a fee, NDSU policy 509 requires "All electronic-based financial transactions of NDSU that involve the transfer of credit/debit card or EFT information must be performed through the North Dakota University System application, TouchNet, or through an NDSU-approved third-party vendor, or on systems provided by Information Technology Division (IT Division) for this purpose." To use TouchNet, send a request to .

 If you haven't used your Turning Technologies "clickers" for a while, test the system a couple weeks before needed. Chances are you'll need to update the software and/or get a new receiver. To get a free new receiver, contact if you're on campus or if you're off campus.

When someone leaves your staff, in addition to the regular things on the NDSU exit list, be sure to take them off access to:

  • Ag CMS – contact Sonja Fuchs at or 231-6403
  • Facebook, Twitter and other social media – should have multiple local administrators

, Ag Communication Director, 701-231-7875

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Image Resizing No Longer Works in Ag CMS

A recent update to the Firefox web browser has affected a feature of the visual editor in our Ag Content Management System (Ag CMS).

The visual editor is the tool Ag CMS users use to create the "Body Text" of an Ag CMS item. It allows users to easily format text and insert images into their web content.Before the Firefox upgrade, Ag CMS users could click on an image in the visual editor to see "handles" at the corners of the image. They could resize the image by dragging any of the handles (see the image below).

Resizing an image with handles

Unfortunately, the resizing handles no longer appear in Firefox, and they have not appeared in Google Chrome or Internet Explorer for some time.

Ag CMS users have a couple of options for dealing with this change. They can choose not to resize images and rely only on the preset image sizes provided in Ag CMS. The alternative is to make a change in their Firefox browser to restore the image handles capability. Here's how.

  1. In a new tab, type or paste about:config in the address bar and press Enter/Return. Click the button promising to be careful or accepting the risk.
  2. In the search box above the list, type or paste by_def and pause while the list is filtered. The three preferences that start with editor. used to be true and starting in Firefox 64, they are false.
  3. Double-click the editor.resizing.enabled_by_default, editor.inline_table_editing.enabled_by_default, and editor.positioning.enabled_by_default preferences to switch the values from false to true.

This "fix" works for now, but that could change. You may have to repeat the steps above when your Firefox browser is automatically updated.

Sorry for the inconvenience. Please let me know if you have any questions.

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

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Write the Right Word: Possessives and Proper Names

We’ve all seen it: the sign on a house saying “the Smith’s” or “the Johnson’s.”

The signs are trying to tell passersby that the Smiths or Johnsons live in that particular house. But in that context, you don’t need the apostrophe. That’s because the apostrophe before the “s” indicates ownership or possession when that’s not the sign’s intent. All you need is an “s” at the end of the name (Smiths, Johnsons).

If you have trouble remembering whether the apostrophe is necessary, think of your message. For instance, if you mean to say, “The Smiths live here,” then you don’t need the apostrophe on the sign or that sentence.

However, if you are indicating in a sentence who owns the house, then you need the apostrophe. For example: “The Johnsons’ house is the blue two-story on the corner.” Note that the apostrophe comes after the “s.” That indicates two or more people named Johnson own or live in the house. But if you are referring to a house owned by one person, you’d say, “Smith’s house is in the next block.”

With most names, you simply add an “s” to make them plural. The exceptions are names ending in “es,” “s” or “z.” Those require an “es” to make them plural: Charleses, Joneses, Gonzaleses. To indicate the possessive, just add an apostrophe after the last “s”: the Charleses’ car, the Joneses’ dog.

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

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Tools for Getting Organized

I'm always looking for ways to stay organized, especially going into a new year. There are a couple of tools available through NDSU that I'm hoping will help me, Google Keep and Microsoft OneNote.

Google Keep is an app for keeping notes, lists and reminders. It allows you to take notes that include text, images and audio, and organize those notes under "labels." You can color code your notes and invite collaborators to share a note with you. Keep is available through any Google account, including your NDSU Google account. You can access it through an app on Android or iOS, and through Google apps on your web browser.

Check out this post to learn more, "8 tips to help you keep up in Google Keep."

Like Keep, Microsoft OneNote is a great tool for organization, but it is built to accommodate the "power user." You can store loads of notes and ideas in OneNote, organize them into "notebooks," and even link between those "notebooks." OneNote is available through your NDUS Office 365 account and as an app for your phone (Android, IOS or Windows). There's also a version of OneNote that's part of Windows 10, so you may already have it on your computer.

Check out this article to learn more, "Microsoft OneNote - Your Digital Notebook!"

If you are looking to stay organized this year, I hope you'll try one, or both, of these tools.Good luck!

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

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Write the Right Word: Regard

The word “regard” seems to give writers and speakers a lot of trouble.

If you are using it in a phrase such as “in regard to” to mean “about,” “concerning” or “on the subject of,” you don’t need to add an “s” to “regard.” For example, “This email is in regard to your questions on tree planting.” or “The shopkeeper called in regard to your order.”

The same applies to “with regard to,” which is another way of saying “in regard to.” You don’t need the “s” on “regard.” For example, “With regard to our recent snow storm, most of the snow has melted.”

Better yet, avoid the phrase. Instead, you could say:

“I’m responding to your question on tree planting.”

“The shopkeeper called about your order.”

“Most of the snow from our recent storm has melted.”

However, you do need an “s” on “regard” if you are talking about good wishes, compliments or greetings. For example, “Give my regards to your parents.”

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

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Friendly Reminder About Email Etiquette

Here's part of an email I recently received from an Extension Agent:

"I often see emails from agents with lots of capital letters and exclamation marks when I’m sure they don’t mean to come across that way." 

She was wondering if Ag Comm has any resources about email etiquette and Becky Koch pointed the agent to this Let's Communicate article about email etiquette.

In the example below, ALL CAPS can come across as SHOUTING and it's actually easier on the eye to read non-ALL CAPS text. The use of more than several exclamation marks is unnecessary.

Email screenshot












, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-6403

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What Makes a Good Photo?

Lighting, composition, angles, focus, aperture and distance all come to mind when talking about a good photo. All these things together make an average photo a great photo.

However, if you do not take the time first to make sure your camera is taking photos at the highest resolution possible, the greatest photo never will be good enough to use in different media. We receive photos all the time that look great, but they are not good enough to use in publications or newsletters, and definitely not good enough to be enlarged for posters or banners.

If you want to know if your photo is good enough to use in printed pieces, start by checking how big the file size is, or how many megabytes (MB) it is. If your file is in kilobytes (KB), the resolution probably already is too small to be considered a “good” photo. If your photo is less than 200 KB, it’s not even considered a poor photo for use in printed materials.

To check the file size of your photo, go to Windows Explorer (file folder icon at the bottom of your computer screen) and click on the photo. At the bottom of Windows Explorer, you will see an information bar that will let you know what kind of image it is, its dimensions and its size.

photo size comparison

You can’t change the files you already have on your computer. But you can take the time now to set your camera to the highest resolution possible. If you have been using your phone and it can’t take any larger photos, you probably want to use a different camera to record that event you are attending.

, Graphic Designer, 701-231-8620

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Selfie Photo Frames and Decals Available

We've added a few more options to our Displays and Exhibits page.

First, there's Selfie Photo Frames like the ones shown here:

Selfie photo frames

We also have 12 x 24' posters available.

Extension posters 2018







If you have any questions about our Displays and Exhibits, please contact me.

, Graphic Designer, 701-231-7898

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Write the Right Word: Alumnus, Alumna, Alumni, Oh My!

Do you get confused when referring to someone who attended NDSU or other educational institution?

I don’t know of an easy way to remember which word to use, so here is a cheat sheet for you:

  • Alumnus – Use it when referring to a man who attended a school.
  • Alumna – This refers to a woman who attended a school.
  • Alumnae – Use this when talking about more than one woman who attended a school.
  • Alumni – This refers to more than one man who attended a school. You also use this when talking about a group of men and women who attended a school.

“Alum” is an informal way to refer to a man or woman who attended a school. The other words are preferable. If you do use “alum,” make sure your meaning is clear because alum also is a chemical compound.

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

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Interactive Learning With Web-based Audience Response Systems

A growing number of NDSU Extension educators are using web-based audience response systems, like PollEverywhere, to make their face-to-face presentations more interactive and engaging. These systems allow an educator to create a question that can be displayed in their slideshow or on a webpage. Participants can respond to the question through an app, website, or by text message. The responses can then be displayed in a slideshow or on a webpage.

There are several web-based audience response systems, and most have a freemium model (you get some functionality free, but can pay for added features). I've used PollEverywhere for the most part. It's easy to use, can be integrated with PowerPoint and has multiple response options, but the free version is limited to 40 responses.

Mentimeter is another option. The free version allows for unlimited responses, but participants cannot respond through a text message. Here's a comparison of features in the free versions of PollEverywhere and Mentimeter (adapted from Cardiff University Learning Technology).

FunctionalityMentimeter (free)PollEverywhere (free)
Audience Size unlimited 40/poll
All question types yes yes
Number of questions 2/presentation, 5/quiz unlimited
Web presentation yes yes
PowerPoint integration yes yes
Text message response no yes

Give these tools a try to make your presentations and workshops more interactive. If you'd like to talk more about them or need help, feel free to contact me.

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

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