Ag Communication Web Services

Tech info, tips & tricks

Job Scams - What to Look for in Online Postings

Don’t trust the cloud. Target hacked. Feedly held for ransom. Seems like there’s been a lot of mistrust with the web lately, and rightly so. It’s always been there, always will be. Online job scams are prevalent too.

A recently retired family friend saw a too-good-to-be-true job on Fargo's Craigslist. Wow! $18/hr to help out the police! Good pay! Interesting work! What a great way to supplement income!

She replied to the ad to ask a few questions and got an email response that urged her to do a formal online application ASAP. She contacted me to see if she thought if I thought it was legit, knowing I know a lot about CRAAP – the model used to see if online information is true.

Right away I could tell this was a scam. Here are the Red Flags I found.

Red Flag 1: Act Now!

In the email, there’s an urgency to complete the application “ASAP” or “by tomorrow” or she could lose the opportunity to apply. Urgency nearly trumped her rationality.

Red Flag 2: Goofy Web Address

The email says the company name is FJW Properties. In the email the website is When is the last time you abbreviated management with “mnt”? Many times scammers use bad grammar or spelling (in this case, bad abbreviation?)  because English is not their native language.

Also, the website is a .org not a .com website. Dot orgs are for organizations like non-profits  and .coms are for companies. Sure, there are non-profit property management companies but when I think of property management companies, I think of for-profit.

Another good thing to check is if you re-directed to another site after clicking on the link they send you. Example: click on but you are directed to

Red Flag 3: Goofy Website

The site referenced in the screenshot above has been taken down since I clicked on it a week ago. Perhaps someone reported it to Craigslist, who then removed the listing.

Before it was removed, I was able to get to their website and noticed a few fishy things. For one, the copyright at the bottom of the page was 2011. That told me the content was old. Or they don’t even care enough about keeping their site fresh (and accurate) so would they feel the same about potential employees?

There was no contact information in their site. No names, no numbers, no address. Why/what were they hiding? Vagueness was shown again back in the email she received that was signed “Breanna from HR”. No last name, phone number or email address. If you can’t get ahold of a live person or you can’t find an address to send a letter to their headquarters, stay away.

Red Flag 4: Bad or Missing info. on Search

What is the web saying about this company? Put it into search and see what happens. When you Google FJW Properties, you get a listing for a similar Craig’s List Scam in Maryland. It was an ad asking for furniture movers and in the Google search there was a screenshot of an email you would receive upon filling out an application. The wording in the email mirrored the one my friend received, nearly word-for word. I had to dig to Page two of the results but it was worth the effort to find that gem.

Red Flag 5:

Maybe one of the biggest red flags is trusting your gut feeling. If something doesn’t feel right, move on. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

After seeing all the flags, my friend deleted the email and moved on.

Be smart. Be safe.

Sonja Fuchs
Web Technology Specialist


Using Surveys to Plan, Organize and Evaluate Programs and Events

Use online forms like Google Forms, Ag CMS and SurveyMonkey to make it easier to plan, organize and evaluate programs and events. [Read More]

The Short and Shorter of Instructional Design

Can you communicate useful instructions in 140 characters or in a six second video?[Read More]

Another Successful Communication Camp Completed

Last week, NDSU’s Agriculture Communication staff hosted the second-ever Communication Camp (CC) for Extension Service staff. We jammed in a whole lot of work in three days, but came out with some great tangibles; most notably, some new videos posted to NDSU Extension Service’s YouTube Channel

The purpose of Communication Camp is to work as a team to gain  skills, better understand communication and education in the digital age, and produce text, Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Conceptimages and video that can be used in educational programs. Like the first CC in June, participants represented a variety of programs. This time: the Parent Resource Center (PRC), Food & Nutrition, and Financial Management/Aging.

The agenda was tight but we had to fit it all in, in order to meet the goals of producing:

·  1-2 Web content items

·  a draft news release for a topic or event

·  several images for use in online and print content

·  a short video on YouTube

Each team had a liaison that participated in the last CC, and helped with the current group.  I was the liaison for one of the PRC’s. I think my group would agree the hardest task at camp was one of the first things we were asked to do: nail down a few key messages. We could not move forward with writing a news release, picking keywords or creating a video until they found something that was actionable and educational, and not a marketing message. It was like putting a puzzle together - you can't complete it without using every single piece. After a lot of discussion and brainstorming, my group’s key message was to show ways to avoid bedtime meltdowns with kids.

My group worked well together and shared best practices.  Through those conversations their messaging became relevant and usable. Through learning and hard work, they came up with a great final product. Check out the video here.

Communication Camp is intense but we have received positive feedback from our first two groups. Supervisors choose who attends the camp, so now you know what it’s all about if you get tapped on the shoulder to attend. If you can’t make the camp, check out all the resources here. From start (defining your key message) to finish (uploading a video to YouTube) you can promote your message.

If you have any questions about Communication Camp or any of the resources listed in the agenda, please contact me.

Sonja Fuchs
Web Technology Specialist, Ag Communication
North Dakota State University

Photo credit:



Microsoft Lync - Great for a Quick Chat vs. Email

If you’re not already using Microsoft Lync you’re missing out on some great functionality offered when NDSU migrated over to Microsoft Office 365 in September. When you migrated back then (remember you had to choose a new password to log in to Microsoft Office, including the email portion of Outlook), you had the opportunity to install Lync.

To see if it’s on your machine, click on the Start menu (the round button with the Microsoft quad-color flag in the lower left of your screen) and type in Lync. If it was downloaded, you’ll see it. If not, you can download it here.

Once downloaded, you can start using it right away. Send a quick chat to one of your co-workers – just search on them in the Contacts search bar and click on their name. If their status is “available” send a quick chat to see how it works.

There are some great reasons to reach someone via Chat vs. email:

1. Instant Messaging/real time chat and video. Some people have their email set up to only get notifications a few times a day. But if they are listed as “available” on Lync, that means you can get your message to them right away without having to go through the server and any email notification limitations. Bonus is that you if you have a webcam, you can do a video chat, similar to Skype.

2. More visibility and audio. Let’s face it, many of us have an inbox full of messages. How can you make sure your message gets seen? With Lync, if you send a chat, the default setting of audio not only sounds an alert, but a new window will pop up to the recipient, notifying them of your request to chat. With email, we can only hope the message gets seen right away after we press send.

3. Quick messages not worthy of email. Maybe you just need to ask a quick question and don’t need to type up an email, send it and wait for a response.

(Me): Do we need to bring a laptop to the meeting?

(Bob):  No

4. In sickness and in health. Recently, a co-worker of mine came down with laryngitis and it was very difficult for her to speak. We were able to chat on Lync so that she didn’t need to struggle in speaking to me.

5. Save a trip up the stairs. OK, I know we all need more exercise, but if you’re like me, I have co-workers spread throughout Morrill Hall. If I wanted to visit with one them, I could check their Lync status first to see if they are available instead of me going all the way up to 3rd floor just to find out the person I want to speak to is away from his desk.

6. Status can be insightful. Lync allows you to choose your status so that people know if you’re available to chat. One nice feature is that it will sync with your Outlook calendar so if you’re in a meeting (and it’s on your Outlook calendar), your status shows “busy” and so people should not interrupt you. You can also manually set your status. I often change mine to “available” even though I’m listening to a webinar because I don’t mind answering questions while listening to a webinar. Likewise, if I have someone stop by I would set my status to “Busy” so that our impromptu meeting isn’t interrupted.

7. Group Chat. With Lync you’re able to chat with more than one person at a time. I might be chatting with someone and can easily invite others to the conversation.
(Me): Where are we holding the event?
(Becky): Bob was checking on that
(invite Bob to the chat)
(Bob): at the Holiday Inn

8. Share your screen. To be honest, I haven’t used this feature yet. But being that I often do technical support, I can see this come in handy when I need to “see” what someone else sees on their screen so that I can help resolve the problem.

If you can think of more scenarios of how Lync works for you, please say so in the Comments section.

If you need assistance setting it up or have any questions, please let me know.

Sonja Fuchs
Web Technology Specialist/Agriculture Communication


My Firsts at Fall Conference

I knew the annual Fall Conference this week would be a big deal and looking back I sure learned a lot. This was my first Fall Conference with NDSU Extension Service.

It was really great to get to meet people face-to-face. I think making that connection makes it easier for some people to reach out to you. I networked with a lot of people and handed out my business cards at the trainings, so hopefully my email and phone will be blowing up soon. I already have one meeting next week with someone who wants help with his web site on the Ag CMS.

Team spirit was evident everywhere. There were many smiles and I got a sense that people really enjoyed working with each other. And people seemed proud to be part of NDSU Extension Service.

I was on the program to co-present with Bob Bertsch but in truth, he did most of the materials prep, presenting and answering questions. I still learn something new from his trainings, even though I’ve taken them before. GREAT JOB, BOB!

I did my first training to Extension with Monday’s Facebook Pages breakout. Some people were happy to hear about scheduling posts in Facebook – a real time saver, while others were still hesitant about starting a Facebook Page due to the complexity of needing to have an individual profile in order to create a Page. The Facebook Presentation can be found here.

The iPad training went well. Thank goodness for my co-presenter CJ Johnson. He’s used the iPad a lot longer than me and was able to share some pretty neat tips and tricks to even the seasoned users (do you know about the 4-finger swipe?). I covered the pre-installed apps like email, notes, etc. and he covered the fun stuff like apps. And that’s ok because he has more experience with apps. Just got my first training evaluation in, and it looks like my part was boring while his was more “helpful”. He’s got great presentation skills and I really enjoy working with him.

On the other side of the podium (so to speak) I attended “ND Needs More Cows” with Chuck Fleming from the ND Ag Dept. I took it to get out of my comfort level. Enough of Facebook, iPads, etc. Bring on the cows! But it was interesting to learn what Chuck is working on. He’s come out of retirement to make the cow industry an economic force in ND. He praised Extension’s work and asked that they help him promote Cattle in ND. Sounds like some of our beef pubs online need to be updated so if you need help with that, please let me know. Chuck would like to link to them.

The awards ceremony was great. It’s nice to be recognized for years of service and the programs that were awarded were outstanding. Keep up the good work.

As the week winds down I’m viciously trying to take notes on what could go better next year. I’d like to be more prepared with my presentation materials (have them ready a week in advance instead of a day in advance!) and have evaluations ready to go right after the conference. Momentum drops off sharply after an event is done so you need to wrap things up quickly while it's still fresh in mind. I’m eager to see what the event and training evaluations are.

Thanks to all those who worked so hard to make the conference happen.

Share your thoughts on the trainings and conference in general in the Comments section.

Sonja Fuchs
Web Technology Specialist/Agriculture Communication
North Dakota State University


Mundane Tweets Show Why Twitter Is Great

The crap on Twitter isn't a reason to stay away; it's the reason to dive in. The mundane, inane and profane demonstrate the incredible diversity of the Twitter network, and that diversity leads to an increase of great things.[Read More]

Caution When Using Google Images

chick pea dish is not peppermint bon bon ice creamI’ve re-organized our photo resources page to make it easier to search images to use in websites and social media. Any time you post something online, there should be a corresponding visual to compliment the post, Tweet, story, etc. Online posts with an image are much more interesting and can hook your reader into reading more (many studies confirm this). If you’re going to Fall Conference, be sure to check out Bob Bertsch’s breakout session on Nov. 7: The Art of Being Seen: The Visual Web.

I bet that for most of us, we first go to Google Images to find a photo. It will certainly return the most results and it’s pretty inherit, having used Google to find other information. But did you know that you are not free to use just any images from Google images? In fact, re-using an image can be illegal without consent of the owner. To ensure you have permission to re-use an image, go to Advanced Search and narrow your results by those “free to use and share”. This will probably decrease your results drastically, which illustrates that most images are NOT free to use and share. Check out this quick screen cast of how to do it.

Another problem with Google Images is that sometimes you don’t get relevant results. Why is it that when you Google “peppermint bon bon ice cream”, you get some images returned for rocker Jon Bon Jovi? It’s because both were tagged with “bon”. It can be time consuming to sift through all the images when they aren’t relevant. A way around this is to search on exact terms by placing them within quotation marks.

I recently worked with Ron Smith on a Facebook post for transplanting perennials in fall. I was surprised that we visited numerous sites on the photo resources page but weren’t coming up with any decent images. Most images that were returned were of beautiful fall flowers, but we were looking for an action shot of someone actually digging up perennials. We finally did find a relevant photo, but only by searching on “garden gloves” and “dirt”. Successful searching is an art – how you think something should be tagged is not necessarily what the sharer tags a photo as.

We spent well over a half hour trying to find the right image. Here’s some tips I have for getting your image faster.

1. Build your own library of images. Get out and take photos, tips here. You know your subject matter best and can build your own relevant library. Organization is key of course. And you don’t need to worry about permission to use.

2. Use and contribute to the NDSU Ag Comm Flickr collection. There’s a lot of great photos to use, and sharing yours helps out others.

3. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the above to example, next try the Agriculture Photo Resources. Here’s where like-minded Ag people can contribute and use Ag-related photos.
4. The last section on the page references general image sites to choose from. Here’s where you still want to narrow your search by “free to use” and may spend some time figuring out search terms.

5. Last but not least, be sure to cite the source of the image not only as a courtesy, but because most of sources require it. A free image doesn’t really come free without citation.

It sounds like an exhaustive effort just to find an accompanying photo, and it can be. But with practice, you’ll probably develop a preference for a certain site and become a pro at for finding legal, relevant images. 

What’s up with the image of the savory dish for this blog post you ask? What does it have to do with peppermint bon bon ice cream? I found it by Googling “peppermint bon bon ice cream" and narrowing it with “free to use and share”. Only three images were returned and this was the most relevant. And by relevant I mean none of them were relevant. Just trying to illustrate that Google Images is not always the best resource for finding legal, relevant images.  Photo source:

Sonja Fuchs
Web Technology Specialist
Agriculture Communication/North Dakota State University


Taking Conferences Social

Twitter hashtags can be used to connect tweets about a particular event like a television broadcast or a conference, extending the reach and the depth of the event. A hashtag at a conference can be a great way for people not able to attend to follow conference conversations. It can help encourage an ongoing conference conversation. It's time to take the NDSU Extension/REC Fall Conference social. Our conference hashtag is #ndsuconf2012.[Read More]

Facebook Scheduling is a Time Saver!

If you manage a Facebook Page for your county, REC or department there’s a great newer feature both Bob Bertsch have been using for the Ag Comm Web Services page. Scheduling lets you set it and forget it!

This feature has been convenient in several scenarios; Bob and I take turns posting to Facebook on a weekly basis (which we manage through an editorial calendar). Rather than having to post something daily, I spend one day reading and finding good information to share for the upcoming week and I can go in to Facebook and schedule a week’s worth of posts, at just one seating. A whole week of posting duties done in just a few minutes!

You can schedule posts up to 6 months in advance, so this came in handy for Ron Smith, NDSU horticulturist, who will be out of the office in the coming week but still was responsible for posting to the NDSU Lawns, Gardens & Trees Facebook page. He was able to schedule two posts, one for when he is gone, and for the week he returns. He’ll probably come back from vacation with many calls and emails to reply to, so his Facebook posting will be one less thing to worry about upon his return.

Through the Activity Log in Facebook, you can view upcoming posts and make changes to the time (up to the minute) the post will publish. Bob and I are able to see each others posts and ensure that we are not duplicating information, as we tend to read information from the same sources.

Do you like working evenings and on weekends? Probably not and here’s where Facebook scheduling comes in handy again. A recent article from Mashable shows that for some marketers, Sunday posts and posts after 8 p.m. bring the most interaction. During your working hours you can schedule your posts and voilà – there it is at prime viewing time. We’ve been using this feature for several months and it’s very reliable.

See the Ag Comm Let's Communicate blog for instruction on how to do Facebook scheduling.

If you need any help with Facebook scheduling, please contact Bob Bertsch or me.

- Sonja Fuchs

Web Technology Specialist/Agriculture Communication
North Dakota State University


NDSU Extension Teams Learn to Create Online Videos

In less than 24 hours, NDSU Extension teams were able to create, post and share their own video. The teams spent one afternoon and the following morning working on their videos and the results were impressive. Check out the examples.[Read More]

PLN in place. Now what? Start sharing!

You're sold on your PLN (Personal Learning Network). You've built it up and read the conversations. Inspired by what read? Have something to add to the conversation? Disagree with what's being said? Share your thoughts and get in the conversation.[Read More]

PLN Barriers - Afraid of Technology

One of the barriers to building a PLN (Personal Learning Network) can be the fear of technology. But it's ok to ask questions. There's no such thing a dumb question and getting it answered paves the way to building your PLN. [Read More]

Learning Networks: source, filter and flow

A visualization of how information can be discovered, filtered and managed in a personal learning network.[Read More]

How I Started my Personal Learning Network (PLN)

Sharing my PLN with you. [Read More]

Author: Julie

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