Updates from the Web

Southeast Technical's computer and Web chronicles

A website for your workday

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You're welcome.

Password resetting sympathy

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Remember, for every password you as a normal person have to reset, we as IT professionals have ten more we have to maintain.

We feel your pain.


Avoiding Common Online Mistakes

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Die Laptop, Die!Man, are you lucky! You live every day with things that could easily ruin your day, week, or decade. One slip and you are toast.

I'm not talking about your shower or the main stairs in your house. I'm talking about all that living you do online. Facebook, Google, Amazon - you could be running with scissors and not even know it!

A recent article from LifeHacker.com outlines "The Stupid Things You Do Online (and How to Fix Them)". I highly recommend giving it a careful read. Here are the "stupid things" in order.

  1. You Undervalue Your Personal Data
  2. You Submit Sensitive Information Over an Insecure Connection
  3. You Feed Trolls
  4. You Leave Private Information in Your Web Browser
  5. You Don't Keep a Backup of Online Data
  6. You Assume Your Posts and Comments Are Anonymous
  7. You Let People Track Your Whereabouts
  8. You Use an Insecure Password That You Rarely (or Never) Change

Truly, these are the critical aspects of living online that need serious attention. Evaluate your own behavior and see where you can improve. It will keep you from getting into some fairly serious trouble.

While you are reading, I'll be backing up my Google Docs.

The Stupid Things You Do Online (and How to Fix Them)


Essential Mobile Apps for Students

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Woman on Cell PhoneMobile apps are becoming a mainstream for student success. If you are a student, here are a few to consider.

Tegrity Mobile App

An increasing number of Southeast Technical faculty use Tegrity to record or supplement their courses. Tegrity offers an app that allows student to bookmark recordings in real time, take notes, and search right from your phone.

More information at www.tegrity.com/product/mobile


This services lets you capture ideas, lists, vocabulary, or any other information you need in one place. Then you can easily access and search your notes from any internet connected computer or mobile device.

More information at www.evernote.com


While posting online résumés can be a chore, ResumeBear not only allows for an easily accessible online format, but allows you to see who is actually reading your résumé. It also allows you to send your resume right from your phone.

More information at www.resumebear.com/mobile

Bench Prep

Bench Prep provides online practice testing services, study guides and material (including video), and peer support. This service is gold whether you are trying to pass biochemistry or studying for the BAR exam. The service isn't free (courses range from $99 - $199), but the mobile download is free!

More information at www.benchprep.com

Mathemagics Lite for iPhone

It is well documented that iPhone users need help with math. Okay, all of us need help with math. Mathemagics Lite is a great tool to help you study for the ACT, GRE, or just get a better handle on math in general. Unfortunately, it is only available for iPhone.

More information at www.bluelightninglabs.com


There are many more apps for students, of course (Interview Prep Questions, JobAware, etc.). If you come across one you can't live without, let me know. I'll discuss it in a future post.



Tips for keeping your Outlook organized

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Outlook ButtonOutlook 2010 is an excellent program, though it can be a daunting one. With a plethora of viewing choices, lots of categories, and more features than you can shake a stick at (I've tried); it is hard to know where to start. Often, people just use one or two features, believing the others to be too difficult to use.

Fortunately, a recent Microsoft article does an excellent job or outlining seven rules to help you stay organized. Most of these I use myself, and it makes my work life much easier. Rare is the day I have more than one unread email in my inbox.

Here are the tips, in brief:

1.      Group by Conversation. This feature allows you to group entire discussions together, eliminating the need to hunt for previous emails in the same conversation thread. If you have ever hand twelve people respond to one of your emails, you know how much this can help.

2.      Sort emails in folders. Creating your own group of folders helps keep things in place. Most people have some folders in place, but don't forget that you can have sub-folders as well. Moreover, you can use rules to automatically sort emails into these folders as they come in.

3.      Create Search Folders. Admittedly, I don't use this feature much myself. I'm a little diligent with my folder organization. However, if you aren't nearly as geeky about this, creating search folders is just the thing for you!

4.      Route mail using rules. If you aren't using rules, you should! They allow you to mark, forward, sort, or delete emails automatically based on your needs.

5.      Use Junk filters. The bane of email marketers, these rules allow you to sort or delete email based on who sent it to you. This is the last line of defense against obtrusive email.

6.      Assign color categories. I use this feature every day. In Outlook, you can give color categories to emails. You determine what these categories mean. For example, I use red for those important "to do" emails. I use green for emails that I will keep for reference, and I use orange for those emails I need to read closer later. It is one of the handiest features in Outlook.

7.      Flag for follow up. These flags are excellent! Simply by adding a flag, you can set a due date, start date, or a reminder. It essentially turns an email into a task. They even show up on your calendar.

To learn how to do each of these, and read more about these great features, visit the Microsoft At Work Web site.

Working with Fonts Online

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Finally RapscallionFor years my students have been asking what they can do to use their favorite fonts in their Web sites. Usually, these students are graphic designers who recoil in horror when they find that a user has to have that particular font installed on their computer.

There have been services to do this for years. IE has had an Active X control that allowed developers to put in fonts by converting them to .pfr or .eot files. JavaScript solutions have also been available.

However, there have always been limitations to these methods. Most don't work in all browsers. Some require the user to download more data. In all cases, it is a lot of hassle for very little impact.

The good news is that this is rapidly changing. As browsers improve, and CSS3 integration increases, it becomes increasingly easy to embed fonts into a Web page.

In an article on the Six Revisions Web site, Joshua Johnson at does an excellent job of outlining the use of the CSS3 declaration. The techniques and resources he outlines use the @font-face declarations to effectively embed fonts into nearly any modern browser or mobile device.

Check it out. The Essential Guide to @font-face

Of course, now we have to deal with that pesky font licensing issue...

Creating strong passwords

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One of the things we don't enforce as much as we should here at Southeast Technical, is a policy of strong passwords. One of the reasons for this is that if a password is too difficult, people will end up writing them down and then "hiding" them under their keyboards.

That doesn't mean you should keep your password simple. The stronger the password, the better protected you are from identity and account theft.

Common passwords to avoid

On occasion, we have to help guess someone's password when working on their computer, or helping them with an online account. IT professionals can be more successful at this than you may think. This is because we know the most common passwords people use. Here are 10 of the top passwords*.

  1. password
  2. 123456
  3. qwerty
  4. abc123
  5. letmein (one of my favorites)
  6. monkey
  7. myspace1
  8. password1
  9. blink182
  10. (the person's first name)

Other favorites include

  • admin
  • master
  • asdfjkl;
  • 55555 (six 6's, seven 7's, etc.)
  • 999 (I recently saw this used by a manager at Barnes & Noble!)
  • dragon
  • football
  • harley
  • (a rude word you couldn't say on television)

Hopefully, you aren't using any of these.

Strong passwords

Strong passwords have the following attributes:

  • They do not contain a word found in a dictionary
  • They use a mix of upper-case and lower-case letters
  • They use special characters (punctuation, symbols, etc.)
  • They do not use personal information, such as your house number or initials
  • They are not so complicated that you have to write them down
  • They are used in only one location (for one site or purpose)

This looks like a daunting list. However, there are several techniques out there that make it easier than you think to create strong passwords.

Making a secure password.

There are many techniques, but the one offered by Mozilla is a good as I've seen. It is easy to do and remember.


* Top ten list courtesy of Texas A&M