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Cool Tips and Tricks

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

I have collected a few tricks, tips, and shortcuts that you may not know and might enjoy using.  I started off with the cool trick that is the most fun to work with for writing and such a timesaver.

Dictation-Speech

1.    A cool way to catch mistakes in your writing or presentations is for your work to be read aloud back to you.  You can use your Mac for this with Dictation and Speech.

First, go into your System Preference (the clock gear box) and open Dictation and Speech, choose the Text to Speech tab at the top and make sure to click Speak selected text when key is pressed. You can keep the current selection of keys to press shown below that line or change to a new set of keys.  You can have fun choosing the voice and language you want to hear when your Mac reads your work aloud.  In the Dictation and Speech  selection in System Preference with the tab open for Text to Speech,  select the System Voice from the drop down. My personal favorite is Lee, the Australian English voice which I found in the Customize selection on the System Voice drop down.

Highlight the text you want to check for errors and press the two key combo to convert text to speech.  After highlighting/Selecting text and pressing the key combo, you can listen for errors. What a great way to find mistakes that you often miss while re-reading. This is also a timesaver tip! Another great tip for when students are working on their finals!

Below is a link to Apple Support for more in-depth instructions.

Dictation and Speech

2.       Keyboard Shortcuts-   Mac Keyboard                                                          Option + over (left or right) You ever wonder why you even have these Arrows on your Mac Keyboard? Here are some cool ideas to put these arrows to good use.

Use Option + Up or Down while viewing web sites with many pages. This bring you quickly up and down through the pages, this is especially useful when ordering items at your favorite online store.

Use Command + Shift  Up to go to top of page or Command + Shift Down for bottom of page. Also, Shift + Left or Right can bring you to new pages.

Use Option + Left or Right while working with text to advance to next word quickly.            Use Control + Command + D while writing to bring up the dictionary and find synonyms for getting the perfect word. This is especially helpful for students when cramming to get the Finals in!

3.       Using Quick Time Player to capture clips you are viewing on Mac.   If your Quick time Player is not in your Dock you will find it in Finder in Applications and from there you can drag it down to your Dock.                                                                                                                                                  First, Right (Secondary) click on the Quick Time Player to get a choice and choose New Screen Recording and a box will pop up.  Then, start the clip you want to save on your browser and then click the Record red button on Quick Time Player.  Then click on the upper left corner of the clip screen and drag to lower right corner of clip screen and press on start recording on your screen that appears.  Don’t forget to stop recording when clip is done by pressing the button on QuickTime player or right clicking on QuickTime in Dock and pressing Stop Recording. Quick keyboard shortcuts using Quick Time Player is Space Bar stops clip in Quick Time, J Rewinds, L Fast Forward, below is a short version of quick keyboard shortcuts I found that dates back to 2010 from Ross W. :

Pause / Play: Tap spacebar.
Pause: Press K.
Play Forward: Press L (multiple taps will increase speed of playback).
Play Reverse: Press J (multiple taps will increase speed of backwards playback).
Slow Motion Forward: Hold K+L together or hold right-arrow.
Slow Motion Reverse: Hold J+K together or hold left-arrow.
View Full Screen: Press Cmd+F together.

I tried these and they still work for the OS X 10.9.2.  Try out these quick tips and keyboard shortcuts that may make your work day a little easier and more fun!

happy-mavericks

Important Benefits Information

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP)

For many years our EFAP benefit has been administered by The Wellness Corporation.  Recently, The Wellness Corporation was purchased by E4 Health, a leading provider, under the brand name Lifescope, of holistic life services and wellness solutions for organizations nationwide. The merger of The Wellness Corporation and E4 Health – two experienced and professional organizations – will mean expanded service offerings for our faculty and staff plus continuation of the high quality services and capabilities that we have been accustomed to through our long-standing relationship with The Wellness Corp.  Please take a moment to review the two brief documents attached, which give an overview of our new Lifescope resources as well as updated phone and web contact information.  Please note  -  if you are currently accessing EFAP counseling or other benefits arranged through The Wellness Corporation you will not need to do anything different to continue to see your current provider; this change will be seamless to you.

http://www.middlebury.edu/offices/business/hr/staffandfaculty/benefits/EFAP

Summary Plan Description (SPD)

SPDs are designed as brief, handy, easily understandable explanations of important benefit plan provisions.  Below please find a link to the 2014 version of the Middlebury College Health & Welfare Benefits Plan SPD which provides current information on our: medical, dental, vision, life, voluntary life, short-term disability, long-term disability, flexible spending accounts, and employee and family assistance program benefits.  All employees are eligible for the employee and family assistance program (EFAP); those employees classified as “benefits-eligible” are eligible for the full range of health and welfare benefit offerings.  You can also find this SPD by visiting the Benefits page on the Human Resources website.  If you would prefer to receive a paper copy of the 2014 SPD, please let me know, or stop by the Human Resources Office, and a paper copy will be provided to you.

http://www.middlebury.edu/media/view/470998/original/active_spd.pdf

Please do not hesitate to contact the benefits team with questions about the change to our EFAP provider or the 2014 Health & Welfare SPD.

Apple Quick Tips- OS X Mavericks

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Mac OS X Mavericks

 

One of the main reasons behind the operating system upgrade to Mavericks was for conserving battery life.  Apple has worked out how to conserve battery life by having the new operating system drop processing hogs like Spotlight and Time Machine into the background letting them work “behind the scenes” so to speak in terms of having the CPU more or less overlook or ignore them. You can check this out by going into finder and choosing applications, then opening up your Activity Monitor.   There is also an energy saver setting called App Nap which is a background program that searches for apps not needing processing power.  There is a tab on the Activity Monitor labeled Energy that allows you to see which apps are hogging up energy. Some people have uninstalled apps that use too much energy needlessly if they deem them “not absolutely necessary” apps.

Mavericks uses Safari to help save energy as well by allowing Safari to more or less control certain energy hogging plug-ins like you-tube clips and ads in the sidebar when a page opens. This improvement helps Safari perform better and faster without shutting off the plug-ins entirely, just delaying them. Using the mouse or trackpad, you can view these flash-based ads or media if you choose to.

These are only a few of the improvements you will notice with the new OS X Mavericks.  I was impressed with the energy saving improvements to help conserve battery life.

Below is a link which provides a closer inspection on some Mavericks conserving energy improvements.

Apple Link

One of my personal favorite improvements with the new Mavericks operating system was the new and improved Do Not Disturb feature which is also one of the most popular features with Mavericks.  This feature allows you to select Do Not Disturb while you are giving a presentation where you don’t want your iMessages to pop up during the presentation. Simply go into Notifications in System Preference and check the box titled When mirroring to TV’s and projectors. You will also notice that you can select times and apps involved when you want to activate the Do Not Disturb feature or you can select the quick way to activate this feature for 24 hours – Hold down Option Key and click the Notification icon pictured here. You will find it at the very upper right corner on your screen.  OS-X-Notification icon

You won’t get any notifications for 24 hours from your apps that send notifications. Below is an Apple Link from Apple Support for a more in-depth look at Notifications. 

Apple Notifications Link

Of course, there is always hic-ups with newly released operating systems. Many people wait a few months before jumping on board and upgrading to the new operating system.  There are new updates and patches to help fix some minor issues.

We are already seeing another update-

The 10.9.2 update repairs or patches minor hic-ups and more which are listed below:

§  Adds the ability to make and receive FaceTime audio calls

§  Adds call waiting support for FaceTime audio and video calls

§  Adds the ability to block incoming iMessages from individual senders

§  Includes general improvements to the stability and compatibility of Mail

§  Improves the accuracy of unread counts in Mail

§  Resolves an issue that prevented Mail from receiving new messages from certain providers

§  Improves AutoFill compatibility in Safari

§  Fixes an issue that may cause audio distortion on certain Macs

§  Improves reliability when connecting to a file server using SMB2

§  Fixes an issue that may cause VPN connections to disconnect

§  Improves VoiceOver navigation in Mail and Finder

§  Improves VoiceOver reliability when navigating websites

§  Improves compatibility with Gmail Archive mailboxes

§  Includes improvements to Gmail labels

§  Improves Safari browsing and Software Update installation when using an authenticated web proxy

§  Fixes an issue that could cause the Mac App Store to offer updates for apps that are already up to date

§  Improves the reliability of diskless NetBoot service in OS X Server

§  Fixes braille driver support for specific HandyTech displays

§  Resolves an issue when using Safe Boot with some systems

§  Improves ExpressCard compatibility for some MacBook Pro 2010 models

§  Resolves an issue which prevented printing to printers shared by Windows XP

§  Resolves an issue with Keychain that could cause repeated prompts to unlock the Local Items keychain

§  Fixes an issue that could prevent certain preference panes from opening in System Preferences

§  Fixes an issue that may prevent migration from completing while in Setup Assistant

As you can see from this list above, improvements to many features and minor issues has been addressed with this new patch.

We feel it is advisable to take a moment to update your Mac as soon as you get a moment.

 

2014 Spring Student Symposium- Application Deadline Feb 28

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

web_graphicJoin us in celebrating the diversity of a Middlebury education! The Spring Student Symposium will begin in the Mahaney Center for the Arts on Thursday night, April 10 with a keynote talk by Vendela Vida ‘93 and student presentations. It will continue all day Friday, April 11, 2014 with activities in McCardell Bicentennial Hall and MCA.

Students from all four years and in all departments and programs can participate. If they have done research in a class, independently, or through an internship; or can read, show, or perform a creative work; or have a project to present in a poster or oral format, please encourage them to apply to present their academic work. The deadline is February 28, 2014.

More information and the application are available at the Undergraduate Research website at http://go.middlebury.edu/sym.

Please remember classes are not held on Friday, April 11th. Please refrain from scheduling any academic or co-curricular events on the evening of Thursday the 10th or during the day and evening of Friday the 11th. This time is reserved for the Spring Student Symposium.

Importance of Backing Up!

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Don’t be this guy…

Courtesy of Ahajokes

I cannot begin to tell you how many students I see daily who explain exasperatedly that they wish the importance of backing up along with how easy it is to back up using Middfiles was all part of the Orientation and actively reiterated throughout their years here. This is stated by students who lost data over -

  • issues with their hard drive,
  • or water damage to the computer,
  • or dropping it and causing a delay in using their laptop so it can be fixed.

There is a very easy way to back your important work up which could be your-

  • Midd-term papers
  • Final papers
  • Thesis

You can have access to it any time you need it.  The best part is …it’s free!

Use Middfiles to back up and you can put access to it right on your Dock.  The link below is a portal to instructions and the link to your personal back up space.

http://mediawiki.middlebury.edu/wiki/LIS/Using_File_Servers_-_Macintosh

When you have created this access to Middfiles don’t forget to click the link Create an Alias for Quick Access… this instructs how to put access to Middfiles right on your Dock.

Remember- Back up, Back up, Back up!

Important Benefits Reminders

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Trouble-free employee benefit plan administration requires a strong partnership between employees and Human Resources.  The Human Resources Dept. works diligently each year-end to accurately process the thousands of required or requested benefit record changes, and then we check and double-check our work.  However, in the end, we also must rely on you, the employee, to do your part in managing your benefits by confirming that you are enrolled in the benefits you intended to elect.  Please carefully review your first paycheck and let us know if you have questions or if anything seems amiss.

Medical/Dental Insurance

  • If you made a change to who is covered under your medical or dental plan, new ID cards were mailed to you in December.  Please confirm that you have received your new ID card(s) if you made a change to who is covered under your medical or dental plan.  If you need additional cards (for example, for a child away at college) call the toll-free customer service number on your ID card (1-888-222-9206). 
  • As was announced in November, the employee portion of the medical & dental premiums did not increase for 2014.  However, any employee who made coverage (single/2 person/family) level changes should see a premium change in the first paycheck of 2014. 

Vision Insurance

  • As a reminder the Vision Plan is with Vision Service Plan (VSP).  No ID card is required (just tell your VSP provider the last 4 digits of your SSN and date of birth). A summary of the Plan and other helpful information is available on-line at http://www.middlebury.edu/offices/business/hr/staffandfaculty/benefits/vision.  Premium changes for Vision Insurance are effective the first paycheck of 2014. 

Life and Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance

  • Premiums changes related to a change in coverage amount or age-band changes (5 year increments) should be reflected in the first paycheck in 2014.  If you made changes or you hit a new age band in 2013, please confirm that your premium changed. 
  • Requests for new Life coverage or for increases in Life coverage over the guarantee issue amount are not effective until approved by Mutual of Omaha.  An Evidence of Insurability form must be submitted by you to Mutual of Omaha if you have requested this type of change. Mutual of Omaha will notify you directly of approval or denial.  Any premium changes will be made as of the effective date of the approved coverage. 

Flexible Spending Accounts

  • 2014 elections for the Health Care and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Accounts should be reflected in the first paycheck of 2014.  Please review your pay stub and confirm that your contribution is correct (divide your total annual election by 26 to calculate your per pay-period election.) 
  • If you are a new Flexible Spending Account plan participant (you were not enrolled in a FSA last year) then FSA Benefits Cards were mailed to your home address in mid-December.  If you had a FSA last year you will not be issued a new card as they are valid for 3 years.  If your card is due to expire in January 2014, it is good through January 31 & a new card will be issued mid-January.The Benefits Card can be used to access funds in your Health Care and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account.  Important information about the FSA Benefits Card is available at http://www.middlebury.edu/offices/business/hr/staffandfaculty/benefits/flex . 

Retirement

  • If you submitted forms prior to the holiday break requesting changes to your Voluntary Retirement Plan or to enroll in the 457b Salary Deferral Supplemental Retirement Plan, your new elections should have been reflected in your first paycheck of 2014.  If you requested changes please confirm that your elections are as expected. 

If you have made a change to who is covered on your medical or dental plan and you have not received your new ID card(s), or if a benefit deduction doesn’t look right to you, or if you have any other questions or concerns about your benefits, please contact Human Resources as soon as possible.  Thanks for doing your part to keep our benefit plans running smoothly!

Your Benefits Team,

~Lisa Hoff, Benefits Specialist (Health/Dental/Vision/Flex Spending) x3372
~Loretta Lee, Benefits Specialist (Retirement Plans & Retiree Medical/Dental) x5468
~Franklin Daniel, Benefits Specialist (Retirement Plans & Retiree Medical/Dental) x5755
~Cheryl Mullins, Benefits & Compensation Manager x5542

Apple Tip- The Kernel Panic

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

by Doubleknot.com

We have been bombarded with movies that indicate the possibility of computers running themselves and the world around them like the movie Terminator and then there was The Matrix and then AI. There are rare times with your Mac when you may think there is a “ghost in the machine”.  Your Mac may just restart itself, or spontaneously shut down or become unresponsive (of course, this only happens when you haven’t yet saved important data).  This reaction may indicate a Kernel Panic which is your Mac’s way of signifying that a problem is occurring or “I give up”, hence the shutdown.  The Kernel Panic is not software related; it is from a hardware and/or an external related problem.  There are many variables with hardware/external related issues that could result in the Kernel Panic from defective RAM, corrupt drivers,  hard disk corruption or possibly even  a loose Airport Card.

Software Update  Apple is always stressing the point that often times, issues with your Mac can be avoided simply by updating your software when prompted to.  These software updates may not help you avoid the Kernel Panic, but some do help improve how your Mac deals with issues because they are designed to help alleviate problems by improving your Mac’s tolerance for external issues. Steps to take long before you know there is a problem, for instance- when you get that annoying prompt “Updates Available”.  

So yet again, I jump on the Soapbox and reiterate the importance of performing SOFTWARE UPDATES when necessary.

If you have a Mac with OX S Mavericks or an older operating system like Mountain Lion, Lion or an earlier version, you can get a general idea of what kind of symptoms to look for at the link provided below.  But be forewarned that Apple would now like Mac owner’s to follow the protocol to have a certified Mac Technician or Genius Bar at an Apple Store look at your Mac to determine exactly why the Kernel Panic is happening.  The Troubleshooting instructions found on the link below to determine the source of the Kernel Panic on your Mac is now NOT Recommended by Apple. Simply use this link to determine if a Kernel Panic did occur.

Apple Support

In summary,

        I.            first and foremost- UPDATE SOFTWARE, which in the long run, may help you avoid issues from happening with your Mac.

      II.            A Kernel Panic happens as a result of your computer signifying a problem is occurring which would likely be from external sources not from a software related issue.  

    III.            Last but not least, this also signifies that you need to bring your Mac in to see a specialist, a Certified Apple Technician.

Our Certified Apple Technician to handle all customer Mac issues is Ark Lemal , who can be reached at 802/318-4657 or in the College Bookstore- Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week.

Apple-Tech1