Information Technology Blog

October 4, 2013

Are you tired of scouring Google trying to figure out how to get Excel to sort your data?  Or, do you want to learn how to use video editing software, or start learning web development?   Look no further, and try using  As a member of the University, you have free access to tutorial videos on is an educational website offering high quality tutorial videos about a wide range of technology related concepts.  Just go to and sign in with your NetID username and password. is a web-based educational company, which offers tutorial videos about a wide range of technology, software and other concepts. videos offer practical information to help people use and learn new technology, software and business related concepts.  The videos range from beginner-level knowledge to advanced concepts.  For example, Lynda has videos about computer programming, teaching users to program in languages like C++ and Javascript.  Lynda has videos about web development, office applications, video and photo editing, business concepts, and even writing.  Professionals and experts in technology fields create the videos, so the information is high quality and in-depth.  For less technology-savvy people, you can use Lynda to get in-depth and expert knowledge about common applications like Microsoft Word and Excel.

The best part about Lynda is that University students and employees can access all the contents on the site for free.  Go to the site and sign in with your NetID username and password.  Normally, charges a monthly fee to access the tutorials, but as a University member you can access them for free.  So, it’s worth looking around on to find something interesting.


Avoiding Disasters

September 12, 2013

Every week the IT Support desk witnesses this unfortunate scenario: A student or faculty member has worked for hours on their very important paper. They’ve been so engrossed in what they are doing that they haven’t slept, eaten, or clicked save. And then… their computer crashes.

Sometimes the computer auto-saves the document, and sometimes it doesn’t. Every time, the student or faculty member has a panic attack, loses their train of thought, and gains a couple of grey hairs.

Here is some advice that you already knew, but it’s worth repeating anyway.

  1. Prepare for the worst – It’s always good to start a list like this with something so positive. However, when you are typing something as important as your research paper or thesis, it’s beneficial to imagine the worst thing that could happen while you’re typing, and plan accordingly. For example, the University is located in an Earthquake zone, so it may be one thing to save your document on multiple devices, but it probably isn’t a good idea to keep those devices in the same building.
  2. Save more often than you can ever imagine – Try and get into the habit of saving very frequently. Every time you save, you are reducing the amount you could lose when your computer crashes, or there is a power outage. Ctrl + S (Command + S on a Mac) is your friend. Whenever you pause from typing, you should automatically save. Never rely on a program’s auto-saving ability – it doesn’t know how important the document you are typing is.
  3. Save in multiple locations – Saving your document only to one device is a bad idea. The IT Support desk has seen many people believe they are safe by saving to a USB drive. Unfortunately, USB drives, and all devices, fail at some point. While IT does have tools that can recover this data, they should not be relied upon. Save to your USB drive, and then back that data up to the cloud (using a service like Dropbox or SkyDrive – as long as you don’t have confidential information on there). If you are an employee, use your personal NAS drive. That way, your data will be on more than one device, and also in more than one location.
  4. Use a reliable machine – You may have used “Ol’ Smoky” the laptop for years, and become quite fond of it. However, if your machine is unreliable, then so is the data that is stored on it. Use a machine that will reliably last the length of time you need it to. The lab computers in the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center are regularly maintained, and are all connected to backup batteries in the event of a power outage (providing 15 mins for you to save your work before the computer safely shuts down).

If all else fails, come see us at IT Support. We can’t guarantee that we will be able to recover your data, but we certainly have tools and the knowledge to help you as much as possible.


General Information, Training

Out-of-Office Message Security

September 9, 2013

When you are away from your office for an extended period of time, you can set up your University e-mail to automatically respond to all senders with a notification about your absence. The main IT site contains information on setting up of Out-of-Office message.

The automatic reply feature can help communicate your absence to coworkers and customers, but you should also be careful about how much information you include.

In the message of the automatic reply, you should state that you will be out of the office.  However, you should probably refrain from saying that you are on vacation because this implies that your house will be unmonitored.  Potential burglars can use information people post online to know when their houses will be unmonitored.  Instead, just state that you will be out of the office.

An example out of office automatic reply could be:

I will be out of the office from [date] to [date].  In the meantime, please contact [contact] for assistance.  Thank you.

You can use a simple message stating the days you will be out office and alternate contact info senders can contact.

E-mail, Security

Adobe Events for Education

August 14, 2013

Adobe produces a lot of software in use at the University: Acrobat Pro (for PDFs), Dreamweaver (for Web Design), and Photoshop (for picture editing) are the most common.

While the IT department has a lot of information on how to buy these products, unfortunately we don’t have the resources to train you on them. Luckily, Adobe has produced a series of live and on-demand webinars, specifically designed for those in education, to help you get the most out the software you use.

Adobe Events: Education

Software, Training

On Why We Need To Change Passwords

July 30, 2013

The University of Nevada, Reno asks that students, faculty and staff change their NetID passwords every year.  NetID passwords expire and require changing every year for security reasons.  Passwords provide important protection to accounts, but can also be a source of vulnerability to cyber threats.  The password-change policy ensures that computer security is maintained on a regular basis.

You should change your password if you notice a threat to your account, such as unusual account activity.  Sometimes though, account threats aren’t noticeable.  If someone gained access to your account login information, that person could monitor your computer activity, and you wouldn’t know.  Using your NetID username and password a person could look at your personal information, such as financial information and home address, through MyNEVADA.  A threat to your account might not be noticeable right away.  So, even if your account seems secure, changing your password regularly helps protect against threats.

You can take some steps to keep your password safe:

  • Keep your password secret, and don’t share it with friends, family or coworkers. It’s against NSHE Policy to share your NetID password with anyone.  It’s best not to write your password down either, because the information could be discovered by an unwanted person.
  • Use a different password for each account you have.  Using the same password for multiple accounts increases your vulnerability to hacking.  E.g. say you used the same password for an internet forum and for your NetID login.  A hacker could easily figure out your low security forum password, then use that password to access your more secure NetID account.
  • Make your passwords as long as possible.  The longer a password is the more difficult it is to discover using password hacking programs.  Try using phrases or sentences instead of just single words.  For example, instead of using the short password “S0cc3r”, you could use the longer password “M4nChesterUnitedIsTheB3sT”.

There is information on the main IT website about how to change your NetID password.


NetID, Security