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Wednesday
Sep042013

Have an itch to get a new piece of technology but don't know where to start?

Come to LTS and try something new.  LTS prides itself on being able to offer great insight and hands-on experiences when it comes to new technology.  We have built a strong demo program that we want you to take advantage of.

LTS currently has the following available for you to try, and if you decide you cannot live without it, work with us to buy your next new gadget:

  • Google Chromebook Pixel
  • 11" and 13" MacBook Air
  • 13" MacBook Pro
  • Microsoft Surface Pro with TypeCover
  • iPad and iPad Mini
  • Nexus 7" and 10" Android tablets

Friday
Aug022013

PowerPoint 2013 - So, what's new?

PowerPoint 2013 has been released, and with it some decent improvements to the application. 

Among some of the basic functions, there are some good improvements to things like the integrated themes, the shape tools, and the formatting tools.

Some of the cooler new features however are as follows: 

  •  the "Present Online" tool. Simply click File -> Share -> Present online and you're given a link you can send out to your audience, where they can watch your presentation online. (Requires a connection to Microsoft SkyDrive)
  • The "Presenter View" has been given some improvements, including the ability to zoom in on a particular area of your slide.
  • Video input and output improvements, which include support for newer video formats such as MP4 and MOV, and the ability to export your presentation to a WMV or MP4 video.
  • Video Playback within powerpoint has also been significantly improved. By now being able to directly stream videos stored on the internet, as opposed to having to embed them within your slides, or simply provide a link.
  • Audio playback - similar to the video, more formats of audio are now supported.
  • Team collaboration - now with the a comments area next to the slide editing, you can leave your team valuable notes about your slides.
  • Work with the cloud in Microsoft SkyDrive. Collaborate, share, or have easy access to your slides anywhere.

Some pretty cool improvements overall. Powerpoint 2013 will be available to use in all classrooms come Fall. You can also request to have it installed on your computer if you'd like to try it out.

Here's some more info about Powerpoint 2013...

Sources:

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2026659/10-ways-powerpoint-2013-gets-more-polish.html

http://powerpointhacks.tumblr.com/

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/powerpoint-help/what-s-new-in-powerpoint-2013-HA102809628.aspx

Friday
Jul052013

... More tips for browsing the web securely

A while back I blogged about browsing the web safely using HTTPS everywhere. With everything happening in the news lately, I thought it appropriate to continue that with a few more safe tips for keeping your daily activities private. These kinds of tools aren't just for the paranoid, they'll also help to protect your identity and your personal information from others.

1. Use search engines that don't report your activity such as https://duckduckgo.com

That's right, most of the big search engines such as google, yahoo etc will report your searches directly to the government.

2. Use an addon for Firefox and Chrome web browsers called "Ghostery." This addon blocks information from being sent back to websites looking to track your activity. Plus it's free.

Also, a great online organization, the Electronic Frontier Foundation offers lots of great advice as well as information about online security. One interesting piece they've recently publised is a list of "companies that would have your back" if the government came asking.

Friday
Jul052013

Top Online Password Managers

If you're like I used to be, you can get really overwhelmed with everything you need passwords for in the digital world these days.  A lot of people, unfortunately, use just a few minor variations on one password for everything they do online.  It is highly recommended that you not do this!  Hackers, and their software, are improving and getting smarter and more effective every day.  It's up to us, as the consumer, to stay one step (or, preferable, more than one step!) in front of them to keep our passwords secure.

Online password managers have started to pop up, and they are certainly viable solutions to your password memory problems, if they are secure!

The idea of an online password manager is to securely store all of your regular passwords so that you can access all of them with one master password.  Some offer auto-fill so that it automatically detects the website you're on, and if you have login credentials for the site, it will automatically fill them in and log you in.  Some online password managers are free, and some charge a fairly nominal fee.

Let's take a look at a few of the top online password managers:

 

1. Last Pass:

Where/How/When can it be accessed? It is a simple toolbar installed on any browser, and it can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, synchronized across browsers.  It offers one-click login, the ability to store secure notes, share login information, securely, with friends and family, export your data, and backup and restore.  It does not allow multiple users unless each user has the 'master' email account and master password.

Mobile?  Yes.

Auto-Fill? Yes

User-Friendly? Yes

Cost? Free.

I currently use LastPass, and I have been satisfied with it.  As an additional security layer, I have downloaded Google Authenticator on my phone, so that when I log onto LastPass, it prompts for the randomly-generated code in Google Authenticator.  Nobody would ever be able to log onto my LastPass account with also having my cell phone in-hand.  However, I can also add secure devices so that it doesn't prompt when I'm using my personal computer, for example.  Google Authenticator can be used to securely log on to any non-Google site, and it's free.

 

2. RoboForm:

Where/How/When can it be accessed? It is a simple toolbar installed on any browser, and it can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection.  It allows secure notes, hote keys, multiple users, data backup, etc.  It has password encryption, the ability to print a hard copy of your data, password hints, and allows multiple users.

Mobile?  Can be included on a mobile platform, although it's a separate service.

Auto-Fill? Yes

User-Friendly? Yes

Cost? Can be free, but the most popular and recommended version is the 'Everywhere' license, which is $9.95 for the first year.  It allows unlimited passwords, form-filling, and bookmarks on multiple computers and mobile devices, kept in perfect sync.

3. Dashlane:

Where/How/When can it be accessed? It is a simple toolbar installed on any browser, and it can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection.  It is platform-agnostic and works on both mobile devices and computer.  In addition to securely storing and encrypting passwords, it is also a secure 'eWallet'.  It offers unlimited backup for your data, automatic syncing across all of your devices, web access to your data, and support.

Mobile?  Yes

Auto-Fill? Yes

User-Friendly? Yes

Cost? Can be free, but the most popular and recommended version is the 'Premium', which covers most of the items listed above, and it is $19.99 per year.

One of my friends just started using this password manager about a week ago, and he has been extremely satisfied with it.

When it comes to a password manager, it really comes down to your personal preference and budget, but there are a lot of options out there.  As long as you can feel comfortable knowing it's secure, I say give it a shot.

Monday
Jun032013

Google Apps Deeper Dive: Chat

Does your office currently use a centralized Chat platform?

If not, it may be something to consider.  LTS generally uses an agreed-upon centralized Chat platform to communicate amongst ourselves, and we have all agreed that it's beneficial.  For example, if I pop by someone's office to ask or tell them something and they're not there, but it's not a topic that I need to email them about, I can shoot them a quick chat to come by my office when they're available.  They will see it when they return and we can connect at that time.  We have also found it beneficial if we have the need to do work from home, instead of having to call each other on the phone, we can chat regarding simple issues that arise.

We have had a hard time finding a platform that all of us enjoy using and is separate from our personal chat interfaces.  For example, we used MSN Messenger until it was acquired by Skype. Since we all use Skype for personal business, we decided to research other options.  About that time is when staff were given CU Gmail accounts.

Chat is an out-of-the-box, free feature of Gmail, as a part of our Google Apps for Education agreement. Now, I have personal and business Gmail accounts, so I am able to separate who is on which chat list by my login credentials to Gmail.  You can chat using text, or you can do a Hangout with one or more person with voice and/or video.  This may come into use when one or more people are out of the office but need to be involved in a meeting.

We have started to test it out at LTS, and so far, I am enjoying it.  Implementing a Chat platform for inter-office communication may be something to look into if you don't have one already, and you may not have to look any further than our new CU Gmail accounts.