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Electronics and cold: A dangerous mix

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

As we all endure these cold temperatures, it can be easy to forget that some of the stuff we carry with us is isn’t quite as hearty. Notably, electronics can be damaged quite easily and seriously in this weather. It’s not the cold itself that is always a problem (although it can be), but instead it’s the temperature change from cold to warm which triggers condensation inside the device.

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That fogging of your glasses when you come in from outside is water condensing onto the cold glass surfaces. This same thing takes place unseen inside your phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, and other electronics. Because we all know that water and electronics do not play well together, this puts your data as well as the device itself at risk.

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We would never try and use our device after it had fallen into water, but just coming in from the outside can result in enough water inside the device to cause the same damage. To the right you’ll see the result of actual water damage inside a MacBook… an extremely expensive repair (click the photo for a better view).

 

Condensation/water isn’t the only killer here. Cold batteries will die faster, cold hard drives can have trouble spinning and can damage your valuable data, cold LCD displays won’t look or function right, and the sudden change from cold to hot as internal components heat up when powered on can cause permanent damage. While too much heat can hurt electronics, too much cold has plenty of negative effects as well.

So… what to do to keep your device and data safe? Here are the best practices:

  • If at all possible, don’t let your electronic devices get cold in the first place. This means not leaving them outside, or in your car. If you have to carry your electronics for an extended distance from one building to another, bundle them up inside a bag as well as you can to insulate them from the cold. Wrapping them in a towel, shirt or blanket isn’t unreasonable given the bitter cold temperatures lately.
  • If it’s too late and your electronic device has already gotten cold, don’t turn it on. If possible, remove the battery since these days “off” isn’t really powered off. If you’ve gotten lucky and condensation hasn’t damaged it yet, the moment of powering it up and sending electricity through the entire device is the most likely moment of death. The safest thing to do is let it sit in a dry, room-temperature environment as long as you possibly can. Just because it has reached room temperature and is dry outside does not mean there has been time for all the condensation to evaporate inside. This can take hours. Obviously, prevention is more convenient and a much better option.
  • As always: make sure you’re keeping your data on Middfiles instead of storing your files locally on the device. That way if the worst happens and your device fails, at least your data is still safe. Just backing up once a week/month is still living dangerously: make Middfiles your default location for storing and opening your files and you’ll be protected in the event of this and many other things that can go wrong. More information at http://go/middfiles/ or http://go.middlebury.edu/middfiles/

Stay warm and safe computing!

-Scott Remick, ITS Senior Technology Specialist

Wireless Network Changes

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Greetings!

Over the course of the next several weeks, we will be replacing the wireless networks at Middlebury.

What do I need to do?

Starting March 2nd, please connect to the new secure wireless network named MiddleburyCollege (like midd_secure but better). Middlebury Faculty, Staff and Students will login with your standard Middlebury username and password. Guests will need to create a Middlebury guest account and use it to connect to MiddleburyCollege. This is not a change for change’s sake – we are confident that the end result will be a wireless network that is more convenient and more secure for everyone.

Why are we doing this? What are we trying to achieve?

Some devices have trouble with the current configuration of midd_secure. Midd_secure was created many years ago and wireless standards have since evolved. Additionally, guests have traditionally connected to midd_unplugged, a non-secure network.

It is important that all wireless devices, including those of faculty, staff and students as well as guests, have a way to connect to our network securely, quickly, and easily. Also, as part of our improved security posture, and to comply with all regulations and generally accepted guidelines, devices on our network need to be identified and associated with an individual, for everyone’s benefit.

What will the new configuration look like?

  • Anyone with a Middlebury College username, including faculty, staff, students, etc., will connect to the new wireless network called MiddleburyCollege using their username and password. Guests will also connect to MiddleburyCollege with their guest account name and password, where they will have access to the Internet, but not our internal servers.
  • Guests from other institutions that are also part of the eduroam project will continue to connect to the eduroam network (for Internet access only).
  • Guests and others who do not have a username and password, either because they haven’t created an account or they have forgotten their password, will connect to a new open wireless network created for this purpose, called GuestAccountCreation. No password is required, but connections are limited to intervals of 15 minutes. When they connect, they will be offered links to create a new guest account, reset their guest password, or activate/reset their Middlebury account password.
  • Certain older or residential devices, for technical or procedural reasons, do not support standard security protocols (username and password), and require what’s called a “pre-shared key” instead (a shared password, like Midd-standard has now). For these devices, we are creating a limited-access pre-shared key network called MCPSK. This is only for devices that cannot use MiddleburyCollege. If you suspect this applies to you, please contact us (see “What if I have more questions?” below).

How will we get there? What is the transition schedule?

To reduce the impact of this change, we are planning on a phased implementation that gives people time to transition from one network to another. For performance and capacity reasons, we cannot have more than four different wireless networks at once, so we will introduce new networks on the following schedule:

Now to 3/2 3/2 to 3/09 3/09 to 3/16 3/16 forward
midd_unplugged (transition to midd_secure)
MiddleburyCollege MiddleburyCollege MiddleburyCollege
midd_secure midd_secure (transition to MiddleburyCollege)
MCPSK MCPSK
Midd-standard Midd-standard Midd-standard (transition to MCPSK)
GuestAccountCreation
eduroam eduroam eduroam eduroam (unchanged – for guest access from other institutions)
  1. Anyone currently connecting to midd_unplugged should take a moment now to transition to midd_secure. If you have trouble connecting to midd_secure, please contact the Helpdesk for the password to Midd-standard.
  2. On Monday, March 2nd, midd_unplugged will be removed and we will introduce the new MiddleburyCollege network. From then on, all faculty, staff, and students should connect to MiddleburyCollege, though midd_secure and Midd-standard will continue to work for enough time to allow a smooth transition. We will prepare offices that frequently bring guests to campus to help them get connected to Midd-standard if necessary during this transitional period. In short, midd-unplugged will cease operating on 03/02/2015 – use midd_secure before then, and MiddleburyCollege after.
  3. On Monday, March 9th, all College personnel should be connected to MiddleburyCollege, and we will remove midd_secure to allow for the introduction of the MCPSK network. Starting on this day, anyone who hasn’t been using midd_secure due to incompatibility should first see if they can connect to MiddleburyCollege. If your device doesn’t support it, please contact the Helpdesk so we can connect you to MCPSK. For most devices, switch to MiddleburyCollege before midd_secure goes away on 03/09/2015.
  4. By Monday, March 16th, all individuals who have been using Midd-standard should have moved to another network, so we can remove Midd-standard and add GuestAccountCreation. To recap, switch to either MiddleburyCollege or MCPSK before Midd-standard goes away on 03/16/2015.

Other Frequently Asked Questions:

Are you saying guests will connect to the MiddleburyCollege network? Isn’t that a little weird from a security perspective?

There’s some behind-the-scenes magic there – people with Middlebury Guest accounts will be isolated from the regular Middlebury network and be provided with Internet access only.

Why start by removing midd_unplugged instead of another network?

For starters, it’s slow and insecure, but a good chunk of people keep using it, unaware that that’s the primary reason for their bad experiences. As much as possible during this transition, we want to make life easier for the people who are currently depending on the faster secure networks. We did consider temporarily disabling eduroam instead, since not as many people use it, but it’s part of an agreement with other universities and we want to honor that.

If I’m bringing a guest to campus after March 2nd, how can I make their experience easier?

The best thing to do is direct them to Middguests so they can create an account before they get here. Then, once they arrive on campus, they can immediately connect to MiddleburyCollege with their guest username and password. If they’ve forgotten their account info, once the GuestAccountCreation network is in place, it’ll provide links to help them reset their password or create a new account.

What about College faculty, staff, or students who’ve forgotten their password or don’t have one yet?

The GuestAccountCreation welcome page will also have a link to the password activation/reset page, and the Helpdesk phone number should anyone get stuck.

What if I have more questions?

If you have a technical issue, now or at any time, or if you need access to the limited MCPSK network, please make a ticket or call us at 802.443.2200 so we can assist you. If you have general questions about the plan, please post them here so everyone can see the answers.

Peace and change,

~Zach Schuetz for the Helpdesk

Friday links – Feb. 13, 2015

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

2015 might be the year we start to get online identity right – Authenticating someone’s identity at a high level of certainty is key to completing many high-risk transactions, online or off. Without doing so, online banking wouldn’t work.

Friday links – Feb. 6, 2015

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

“Amazon Takes on Textbook Sales at Major Universities.” Engadget. Accessed February 2, 2015.http://www.engadget.com/2015/02/02/amazon-college-distribution-centers/.

A concise update on net neutrality –

and How Netflix helped change the FCC’s definition of net neutrality.

Learning Opportunities: Drupal, Website Maintenance & More!

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Visit http://go/techworkshops to view upcoming technology workshop offerings and sign up for topics of interest.  You’ll find Drupal introductions that cover basic web site maintenance skills and work sessions where you can get help with specific questions about how to improve your departmental web site.

Do you prefer to learn on your own?  Don’t forget about  lynda.com  — a fabulous online learning resource that uses short videos to help you acquire new business and technology skills.   Recently added or revised courses include Mac OS X Yosemite Tips and Tricks, Outlook for iOS and Android First Look (only 13 minutes!), and iPhone and iPad Security Fundamentals.   Watch a single video or work through an entire course — it’s the perfect activity when Mother Nature brings on the bitter chill!

New Button Appearing in Your NExpress Search – Now Live!

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Thanks to an agreement with ConnectNY we have expanded our direct request borrowing options beyond the NExpress consortium. Both systems retain separate databases; records aren’t shared between catalogs, rather searches are transferred from one system to another.  (Which means each catalog must be searched separately for the item you are interested in.)

If you don’t find what you are looking for in the NExpress catalog, there will be a button (like this:)  Connect NY search button  to search for the item in the ConnectNY Catalog. If the item is found in ConnectNY, you can now request the item, just as you would place a request in the NExpress system.

Connect NY button in a NExpress seach page

Please send any problems to:

Circulation: 802-443-5494 or library_circulation@middlebury.edu

Interlibrary Loan: 802-443-5498 or mdyill@middlebury.edu

– See more at: http://sites.middlebury.edu/lis/2014/12/17/new-button-appearing-in-your-nexpress-search-preview-of-new-resource-sharing-service-coming-in-january/#comments

Key Survey Downtime on Jan 17 for Hardware Maintenance

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

KeySurvey LogoThe following information is important only for individuals having a Key Survey account used to create, distribute, and work with surveys and response data.

Please be aware that the WorldAPP team (our Key Survey host) will be performing needed hardware maintenance on this coming Saturday, January 17, 2015, between the hours of:

EST:  2 am to 7 am   (GMT:  7 am to 12 pm)

During these hours Key Survey will be temporary unavailable.  Once the hardware maintenance has been completed, all applications, survey and forms links, and reports will be available as usual.

WorldAPP apologizes for the short notice and will be happy to answer any questions you may have about this maintenance.  Feel free to contact their Support Team via email (cs@worldapp.com), phone (781.849.8118), or live chat from www.keysurvey.com.