Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Tour of the Web: LeTourneau IT

Welcome, freshman! Welcome transfers! Welcome, returning students, faculty and staff, lawnmowers, humidity, and especially random trips to Common Grounds!

Well, maybe not the humidity. But in general, WELCOME!

As some of you know, I am the Fly on the Firewall. My job primarily consists of listening to the goings on here at LeTourneau's IT department and relaying to you the technological tips that I glean from the conversation here.

I'm a fly, and it's in my best interest to avoid the sticky web of technology I don't understand. I've had a couple of close calls, but fortunately, I knew who to contact.

However, it occurred to me that some of you may not. Maybe you've just never had a problem. Or maybe you just didn't know that there are other means of contacting LeTourneau's IT department. Or maybe you're one of those new freshman or transfers, and you don't know anything at all.

About LeTourneau's IT department, I mean. ; )

Hence, though telling you how not to make your computer go haywire is a worthy and admirable topic, I thought today I could just tell you how to contact IT when the problem is beyond you or me. No sense in allowing you to get stuck in the web just because you don't know who to contact.

If you have a problem and you aren't like me and completely horrid with technology then you might consider searching for the way out of your sticky web situation via this FAQ section (unless, of course, you're having a problem with the internet and you can't read this blog. Then you're pretty much hopeless):

Warning: mucho technological terms. But hey, I warned you that the FAQs were for people other than the technologically incompetent. The FAQs covers a lot of things: phones, blackboard, TVs, etc. And if what you're looking for doesn't seem to fit in one of the listed categories on the site, the search bar in the upper right hand corner is really handy.

Oh, and since I heard that gaming consoles is a popular question this week, so I looked it up for y'all already:

I'm such a nice person. Er, fly.

Okay, so if you're in the technologically incompetent group with me, here's how you can contact IT. See the block of information on the right? ------>

That's it.

For the technologically competent or for the incredibly bored: Visit our website.

For complete up-to-date information on the various updates IT conducts OR for emergencies prompted by large Texas rain storms: Follow us on Twitter.

For help solving technical problems: email us at, call us at 1(866)TEC-LETU or (903)233-3500, or chat with us.

IT's hours of operation are: 8am-midnight, Monday through Saturday and 2pm-midnight on Sundays.

Good luck with that web!

Sincerely, The Fly

Thursday, August 16, 2012

If The Boot Fits: Internet Browsers

I'm Texan, y'all, and I'd really like a pair of cowboy boots. As they are outside my budget at the moment, I content myself with trying on a few pairs every once in awhile. You know, just to look around, see what I like, what styles fit me, that sort of thing.

Because not every boot fits.

A pair of boots that fits comfortably on my sister probably won't fit well on me even though we have the same shoe size. My mother prefers a certain style that I do not. My dad prefers a darker color while I prefer lighter ones. (And my husband downright refuses to try on any even though I've converted him to Texan in pretty much every other way.) Everyone's needs and preferences are perfectly met by a different boot.

Furthermore, once someone owns a pair of boots, that pair can never be used perfectly for anyone else. I discovered this whilst looking for cheap boots in consignment stores. Every pair I tried on had molded itself to the former owner's foot, and didn't quite fit me right. (Apparently, my ankles are in a really weird spot - who knew?)

IT employees are often asked what browser is the best to use. (In fact, this blog post topic is at the request of one of our readers.) There's just so many browsers, so much heated debate about it all, and so many different opinions. So everyone wants to know: which is actually the best browser?

The answer is another question: does the boot fit?

Everyone has different work requirements or personal preferences and so the browser that my boss uses might not suit you. And if you were to try my browser, the personalized attributes I have set up might cause you to dislike the browser I have through no fault of its own. No one else's personalized browser is going to fit everyone, so you need to choose for yourself the browser that fits you.

Wow, that sounded really cheesy.

Okay, to aid you in trying on some browsers, I asked my co-workers some questions, and they have kindly given me their opinions. The following is rated PG-13 for conspiracy theories, Apple violence, and technical language.

(For the record, browsers are listed in alphabetical order, so settle down, y'all.)

1) What is your favorite internet browser? Why?


"No favorite but I use Firefox - it loads fast, has the least number of problems. Will change [browsers] in the future if those factors change."
- Peter Austin, Technical Services Coordinator

"Firefox for the utilities (extensions) and Chrome for the speed."
- Nathan McGarvey, Programmer/Analyst

Google Chrome:

"Chrome. I have fewer intermittent problems with it compared to IE [Internet Explorer]. It has a much better auto-updater built in than Firefox, and I prefer the way it handles memory management on multiple tabs."
- Michael Davis, Assistant Director of Technical and Media Services

"Google Chrome. I like the favorites bar and the convenience of searching directly in Google quickly and conveniently, but it is a little irritating that some sites don't work well in Chrome. Doesn't happen often, but it does happen."
- Kristin Ater, Assistant Director of Programming Services

"Chrome. Very fast, clean interface, search bar and URL address input are the same. Normally uses less memory than the others and each tab's memory space is separate from the other tabs."
- Matthew Henry, Chief Information Officer

Internet Explorer:

"At the moment, Internet Explorer. It's fast, has tabbed browser windows, and is compatible with all my management applications."
- Ethan Cooper, Network Administrator

"Internet Explorer 9. Older versions of IE were awful, but the new one is fast and simple, doesn't use a lot of resources, and loads quickly. It also blocks 90% of malware that other browsers don't. If you got burned by Internet Explorer before, give IE9 a try."
- Joe Grindrod, Technical Services Senior

2) What is your favorite thing about this browser? And your least favorite thing?


"Multiple rows of windows with an add in. Cursor does not always open where I need it."
- Peter Austin, Technical Services Coordinator

"Extensions for web-page analysis. (For both [Firefox and Chrome].) Both still don't seem to keep-up with me all the time as I may have a hundred or more tabs open across many windows simultaneously."
- Nathan McGarvey, Programmer/Analyst

Google Chrome:

"My favorite thing is how it runs quickly and has a low memory footprint. My least favorite thing is that it sometimes won't open Microsoft SQL reports since they're designed for IE [Internet Explorer]. That's more an issue with the report than the browser though."
- Michael Davis, Assistant Director of Technical and Media Services

"Favorite: It uses my Google profile so every device I use Chrome on (including my iOS devices now) my bookmarks and settings all sync; least: it seems to use memory in a run-away fashion sometimes. For example, I have to restart it to clear up memory usage. Also, it had trouble for a long time with the Flash plug in."
- Matthew Henry, Chief Information Officer

Internet Explorer:

"My favorite feature is site pinning: you can pin any website you like to the task bar or start menu and it acts like an app on your computer. When you pin sites it unlocks new features for the site."
- Joe Grindrod, Technical Services Senior

"Most: It has a built-in RSS feed reader. Least: Not all buttons are positioned where it's most intuitive."
- Ethan Cooper, Network Administrator

3) Would you recommend this browser for general use? Why or why not?

I'm not really sure what answers I expected here, but pretty much everything I got was "Sure" and "Easy to use." Even I yawned. And you're welcome for sparing you.The only interesting thing of note was that one of our Chrome fans said she'd actually recommend Internet Explorer for the general user.

4) On a scale of 1 to 5 (loser to winner), please rank your favorite internet browser in the following categories: speed, security, easy to use, and easy to customize/personalize.

The average performance ratings of everyone's favorite browsers

5) What is your LEAST favorite internet browser? Why?

"Firefox. Possibly the most user-unfriendly browser out there. Comes with all sorts of scary pop-up warnings that make the common man/woman want to hide under their desk until the sirens stop."
- Ethan Cooper, Network Administrator

"My least favorite browser is Google Chrome, mostly because I don't trust Google. Any Google product, unless you explicitly tell it not to, will track you and send your browsing habits to Google so they can serve you ads. This includes itself, so watch what you search : ) Internet Explorer 10 (not out yet but will be soon), not only doesn't track you, but also tells websites not to track you as well."
- Joe Grindrod, Technical Services Senior

"Internet Explorer. It breaks Internet standards, is slow, has large security flaws, and crashes quite consistently."
- Nathan McGarvey, Programmer/Analyst

"Safari. It's a slow, crummy Apple product."
- Michael Davis, Assistant Director of Technical and Media Services

"Don't know that I have one. I use them all: Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari. They all have their purposes. Chrome: general daily use. Firefox: use when Chrome doesn't work. IE [Internet Explorer]: best for banking and secure websites. Safari: best on iOS and Mac platforms, although Chrome is available now too."
- Matthew Henry, Chief Information Officer

6) On a sale of 1 to 5 (loser to winner), please rank your LEAST favorite internet browser in the following categories: speed, security, easy to use, easy to customize/personalize.

The average ratings of everyone's least favorite browsers - pretty good performance ratings for not liking them!

Go ahead. See if the boot fits. Browse the browsers.

Sincerely, The Fly

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Abracadabra: Creating (and remembering!) an Amazing Password

Next time you walk into your office place your purse or wallet and keys in the middle of your desk and leave it there for hours on end. Walk away. I dare you.

You wouldn't do it, would you? Why?

Well, because it's valuable. It has your identification, your credit cards, and your keys.

And yet, you just leave it underneath the desk where your feet are.

Don't give me that look. I know we all do it. At least every once in awhile. And I know you all know that it's a little on the insecure side. Especially when we visit the powder room (yes, I did just call it that) or the water cooler.

Today, I want to see if I can convince you to lock it up entirely. Or at the very least to shove it behind the trashcan where it can't be seen by the casual observer.

Actually, while your purse or wallet is a very valuable thing, I'm going to be talking about something even more valuable: your passwords.

We store pretty much everything online nowadays. Movies, relationships, calendars, contacts, creative innovations, financial information, health information, credit card information, the list goes on and on. And just think! ALL THAT is protected under one or two passwords because we are too lazy to try and remember a separate password for every account.

Yeah, that was my face, too.

Having a different password for every account is probably the most widely known (and the most ignored) tip regarding secure passwords. However, it is not the only one. Here are the 5 most important tips to help you secure your accounts properly:

1) Make it long. A secure password is 10 characters or more and does not necessarily include numbers or symbols (though many accounts require it). The longer the password the harder it is to figure it out. For example, if I am trying to crack a four number code, all I would have to do is try each variation (in math terms it's "permutations"): 0000, 0001, 0002, etc all the way up to 9999. It might take me a long time, but it would take hardly any time at all for a computer to try them all.
However, if you have a long password - that's a lot more possible combinations of letters! And the best part is, it doesn't have to be a random collection of letters. "Thequickbrownfoxjumpedoverthelazydog" will work just as well as "qpalsodkeufjghcmgheyahsjdmwoxmfjgbxz" because they both have the same number of letters and possible combinations.
So don't stress yourself out about it. Long doesn't have to mean hard to remember. Just hard to crack.

2) Use different passwords for everything. Using the same password for multiple accounts is just not a good idea. If one account is compromised then several more will be as well. Don't do it. It's just that simple. Keep your purse locked up.
However, if you don't think you can do that. At least, shove that purse behind the trash can. Use the same password for that forum you rarely visit and that gaming site, but use unique passwords for your bank and for Amazon. What better way to invite theft than to safeguard your financial information and your credit card information with the same password?
Along similar lines, LeTourneau asks that you create a unique password for your LeTourneau account. For your sake, and for the school's.

3) Share your password with no one. Two can keep a secret. If one of them is dead.
I know we all have people we love and trust. But don't share your passwords with them. It lessens the risk overall, and they don't have to worry about keeping it secret. And if you do have to share it for some very rare reason, please remember to change it afterwards. Again: little risk, little worry.
This is, of course, the strictest form of password security protocol that institutions like LeTourneau require. You and your spouse probably share your bank password, and that's okay. Just don't share it with your sister. Or best friend.
And if you want to share your Netflix password with your sister or best friend. That's up to you.
But the less people who know, the more secure your account is.

4) Store your passwords nowhere. The best place to store your passwords is in your brain. No doubt about it.
Unfortunately, many of us are forgetful people or have far too many accounts to keep track of. And it seems that sometimes it is virtually impossible to remember all of your accounts and passwords. So IF you absolutely cannot remember all of your passwords, THEN you may store it somewhere.
(Please note: that last statement is not a license to be lazy and not try to memorize them all.)
The best way to store your passwords is under lock and key. For real. Or electronically. Keep a written copy of your passwords in a personal safe or lock box. Or you can store them on your computer in a password-protected document. DON'T keep them in an unprotected word document or sticky note.
But at the very least you're going to have to memorize at least one password or code.

5) Change your passwords often. You should, of course, change your password if you suspect it has been compromised. However, it is also a good security measure to change your password regularly.
Your account is most secure if you change the password about every 6 months. These measures should be taken with your most sensitive accounts such as your bank account or LeTu account. Some of your other accounts such as your Amazon account are probably sufficiently protected by changing your password only once a year. And that forum that you never visit anymore? It's probably okay never being changed.
If you can't remember to change it. Write it on your calendar "change passwords" and then stick to your schedule. That's all it takes. Better safe than sorry.

And just because I'm a really nice person, I'll tell you how to change your password or retrieve it at LeTourneau.

The easiest way to change your Letu account password is:
1) Log in to your desktop.
2) Hit (and hold) Ctrl+Alt+Del
3) Select "Change a password"
4) Follow the prompts.

And if you forget your password:
- If you are a student:
      1) Visit
      2) Select the "Forget your Password?" tab at the top left
      3) Follow the prompts.
- If you are a faculty or staff:
      1) Call the IT helpdesk.

Oh, and by the way. You can't use "thequickbrownfoxjumpedoverthelazydog" for a password now.

Sincerely, The Fly

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