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Using the Blackboard Collaborate Launcher

When you click on a session or recording link, Blackboard Collaborate checks to see if you have the launcher installed. If you don't, you're prompted to download it.

When the launcher is installed, clicking a session or recording link triggers the download of a .collab file (replaces the current .jnlp file). This .collab file is used to launch your session or recording, and you will not need to download the launcher again.

Scott Swanson, Electronic Media Specialist, (701) 231-7086

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Change Spreadsheet into a Document

Have you ever needed to convert a spreadsheet into a document? I know a lot of us are using Google Forms to collect registrations, feedback, and more. Sometimes answers to open-ended questions can produce lengthy responses that require you to scroll, scroll, scroll in the spreadsheet. This is not reader-friendly.

In another situation, a state specialist was collecting registrations and wanted the registrants to get a copy of the information they registered for. Some of the responses were lengthy and it was a chore to copy and paste from a spreadsheet into a document.

There’s an easy way to convert a spreadsheet into a document by using the “Save as Doc” add-on in Chrome. Before I get to the How-To, there are some things you must do first.

1. Use Google’s Chrome browser.

2. Login in with your Google account.

3. If your spreadsheet is in Excel and not a Google “sheet”, convert it by uploading it to your Google Drive and then opening as a Google Sheet, which is Google’s version of Microsoft Excel.

4. Add the “Save as Doc” add on to your Google Drive

Follow the video below to see how to convert your data in your spreadsheet into a document.

Save as Doc Demo on YouTube (2:33)

Save as Doc add-in in the Chrome Store

Contact me if you need help with this or want to test it out.

Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 371-6403

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Write the Right Word: All Right!

Leaving letters out of words or running words together is OK for texting, as long as the meaning is clear. But that’s not OK when writing news releases or educational materials such as publications, newsletters or brochures.

“All right” is a phrase that commonly is misspelled. It’s never all right to spell it “alright.” Also, do not hyphenate it unless it’s used as a compound modifier. For example: “He’s an all-right guy.”

Another commonly misused phrase is “a lot.” That also always is two words. “She spent a lot of time trying to decide which dress to wear to the prom.” If you mean to say “give or apportion something,” then the word is “allot.”

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

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Books Available to You for the Taking

Thriving on Chaos

Here are some books that have been on my shelves that someone else might find useful. All yours if you want one or more of them. My only request is that you pass the book on to someone else when you’re done with it.

Thriving on Chaos by Tom Peters -- describes a management revolution in a endlessly changing world where excellence must go hand-in-hand with a new imperative: flexibility.

The Art of Winning by Dennis Conner with Edward Claflin -- Practical tips on how to manage people; obtain financing; create team spirit; lead to succeed in business; get along with others; be a better manager, salesman, athlete or spouse.

Rural Communities by Cornelia Butler Flora, Jan L.Flora, with Susan Fey -- Rural America is a complex mixture of people and cultures struggling to survive. This book focuses on various capitals in rural areas; social, cultural, human, natural, political, financial and built.

What My Dad Knew by David Spickler (2004 NDSU Animal Science graduate) -- focuses on the ability to influence. 

Honey, I Shrunk the Farm by Val Farmer -- Some farmers have lost hope and even the desire to live. They are plagued by guilt if they lose their dad's land. They and their families need to know that even with harsh change, the door can open to hope.

Productivity Plus by John G. Belcher, Jr. of the American Productivity Center -- all aspects of productivity, including how to get to top-management commitment, involve and reinforce employees, and measure productivity.

The Executive Odyssey by Frederick G. Harmon -- Learn how to get ahead without being a workaholic and that success is not a lottery but a system; learn techniques on how to prepare for opportunity and even make it work for you.

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

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Mobile Connection with the Lync 2013 App

Microsoft Lync is a valuable communications tool that brings together instant messaging, audio-conferencing and videoconferencing. Those features, plus Lync's ability to integrate with Outlook for contact availability and meeting scheduling, make it extremely useful.

One Lync feature that does not work for us at NDSU is the ability to call-in to a Lync meeting by phone. In the not too distant past, that meant you had to be at a computer to join a Lync meeting, but that has changed.

The Lync 2013 app for Android, iOS and Windows is a great option for connecting to a Lync meeting when you are away from your computer. With the app installed on your smartphone or tablet and a wifi or 3G/4G connection, you can join a Lync meeting from your mobile device.

It's not the same as calling in by phone (you are using mobile data, not calling minutes), but it does provide a mobile connection.

You can join a scheduled Lync Meeting by going to the calendar tab in the Lync 2013 app and touching "Join meeting." If you can't see scheduled meetings in your Lync 2013 app, you can join the meeting by touching the "Join meeting" link in the email message inviting you to the meeting.

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

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Move to Office 2013

MS Word iconAbout 85 to 90 percent of the computers being used in Agriculture and Extension now have Office 2013. Are you still running Office 2010? Now is the time to move to the newer version.

While it is easy to be comfortable with the older Office Suite over time, moving to the new Office Suite has two main benefits.

  • There is greater compatibility and functionality with others who have Office 2013. One of the obvious reasons is in the use of Lync. Lync 2013 has fewer problems than Lync 2010, and it's built right into the Office 2013 software.
  • Microsoft is working on a new version called Office 2016, which is slated to be released late this year. We support the  current version of a software product and the previous version. So if a computer is running Office 2010, support will be coming off when the newest version is out.

Want to move to Office 2013?  Call or email Ag Comm Computer Support.

Jerry Ranum, (701) 231-6395; Jon Fry, (701) 231-7934; Blair Johnson, (701) 231-7896, Desktop Support Specialists

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Save Time & Money on Mailings through Print and Copy Services

Post Card

Print and Copy Services can help you save time and money with mailings.

If your office provides an electronic mailing list (preferably in Excel), we can run it through our software that makes sure addresses are complete and accurate, and saves money on the postage with the sorting and bar coding.

 For postcards, envelopes and other simple pieces, the addresses can be merged directly into the document, so the address is printed on the piece in a single pass, which avoids extra inkjetting or labeling.

Off-campus offices might save even more money by having their projects completed on campus and using the NDSU nonprofit mailing class.

Contact me to talk through your potential projects.

Diane Ness, Print and Copy Services Customer Service Manager, (701) 231-9467

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Outlook Web App Tips

I was working away from my office the other day and used the Microsoft Office Web App (OWA) in place of my laptop, which was left back at the office. With an Internet connection, I could get to my work email in Outlook and use calendering and Office tools like Word and Excel.

Sometimes the app version isn’t as robust as the desktop version. I found two things that work very differently in OWA vs. on my PC.


I find it really handy to file emails for future reference in folders by topic, project or sender. The folder structure on the desktop client is different than the OWA.Here’s a snapshot of the Outlook folders on my PC:


In OWA, it appears you would double click the Inbox folder to get to your sub-folders, but that is not the way to get there.  


Instead, click on More and your sub-folders appear.



Email signature

If you've set an email signature on your computer (here’s how to), it doesn’t translate over to the OWA, so you have to set it up there, too.Here's how to set up an email signature in your OWA.

There’s an extra step if you want to add an image to your email signature. First, the image needs to be hosted online (not pasted in from your computer). Go here to get the NDSU email signature graphic online. Right click Copy and then head back over to the Web app to paste in.  

Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Wimba Archive Support Expiring

Support for archived Wimba webconferences expires in August 2015. Randy Wald with NDUS Core Technology Services ran a search through the past 180 days and found a few NDSU Extension Wimba archives are still being viewed. If you are still using archives created with the Wimba webconferencing system, please let me know soon so we can discuss a process to convert those archives.

Scott Swanson, Electronic Media Specialist, (701) 231-7086

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Write the Right Word: Past and Future

With everyone’s attention span geared toward the 30-second sound bite, we need to keep our writing as concise as possible. One way to do that is to get rid of unnecessary words. Redundancies are a good example.

“Past” and “future” are some of the most common redundant words. You’ve most likely seen or even used phrases such as “future plans,” “past history” or “past experience.”

If you have or are making plans, they are for the future, so you don’t need to state the obvious. A simple, “My plan is to attend NDSU” is sufficient. If necessary, you can modify “plan” with words such as “immediate” or “long-term,” or perhaps a date, to indicate a time frame. For example: “My long-term plan is to attend NDSU.” Or this: “I plan to attend NDSU in 2018.”

“History” and “experience” already have happened, so they are in the past. Again, you don’t need to state the obvious. “My experience leads me to believe this experiment will fail.” “This weed’s growth history indicates it will be about 6 inches tall by August.”

Ellen Crawford, Information Specialist, (701) 231-5391

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