Winter 2011

Shawn Beattie, ITS, editor

Welcome to Augie Techknowledge from ITS, an e-newsletter to share "what's new" in ITS and provide useful tips and articles on Information Technology and Educational Technology at Augustana College.  We hope you like it and find it useful.  The newsletter will be archived on the ITS web site at  Enjoy! 

In this issue:

Google Apps Transition update
Smart Phones and Google Apps
WiFi: Safe or Not?
Digital Video Resources in Equipment Checkout
Macs: Connecting from Off Campus with VPN 

Battle of the e-readers 

New Face in ITS
Tip: Making Sure your Email Stays Private


Google Apps Transition Update
Wendy Ramsdale, ITS

The Google Apps E-Mail Conversion for faculty, staff, and student groups is almost complete. Though it hasn’t always been painless, we have come a long way since Admissions was converted in August. In 2011, concentration will begin on offering training for more advanced applications within Google Apps such as Google Docs, Google Groups, Google Sites, etc. So far we have only touched on a small portion of what is available to us through Google Apps. Please, if you are having problems or have questions don’t hesitate to contact the ITS Helpdesk (, x7293). We may have already found the solution to your problem. Don’t suffer in silence! We are all here to help.

Thanks for all your support and patience through this transition!


Smart Phones and Google Apps
Chris Vaughan, ITS

Often we are asked for advice as to model of smart phone to buy with a phone plan. There are many devices offered (BlackBerry, iPhone, Android) by the major carriers (Verizon, Sprint, AT&T) leaving many overwhelmed. In the past, ITS has tried to support most major mobile device models and vendors, developing alternatives to “synching” email, contacts and calendars with campus applications.

Recently, Augustana has partnered with Google to provide the Google Apps communication tools such as email, calendaring and chat. Google has also written a common operating system for smart phones called Android that has been adopted by most major cell phone manufacturers. Not surprisingly, smart phones using an Android operating system integrate well with Google Apps e-mail and all the other services offered by Google.

What does this mean? Simply put, it means if you are going to invest in a smart phone and you are concerned about compatibility with Augustana provided services, ask to see devices which have the latest Android operating system installed. There are still many phone model options, but selecting an Android phone should reduce the choices to a managable number. Be sure to view the screen quality, try the keyboard, and talk about access plan costs (a data plan is usually required for internet access.) However, as long as the device has the Android operating system, you will be compatible with campus communication tools and be assured of the knowledge base provided by one of the largest and fastest growing smart phone operating systems.


WiFi: Safe or Not?
Brad Isbell, ITS

With so many people using wireless networks to access the Internet, we thought it would be a good time to remind you when you are secure, and when you might be giving away your personal data to those nearby.

When you use unencrypted wireless networks, the data you send over the air can possibly be received by anyone nearby.  Websites you visit, most instant messenger applications, Facebook, and e-mail are often sent in-the-clear or unencrypted, meaning that someone with a laptop and the right software can see what websites you are on, your chats, and your e-mail.  In many of these situations, your data could possibly be used by another person's computer to impersonate you, stealing access to your accounts.

Fortunately, many websites with important private data utilize HTTPS, which is a method of encrypting your data from your web browser to the server.  Regardless of wireless network encryption, your data is kept secure.  You can determine when you are on a secure website by looking for the lock icon on your browser and checking the address to make sure it begins with https://.

If you are using a wireless network that is secure, your data is encrypted when it leaves your computer until it is received by the wireless access point.  However, in most configurations, anyone else on that wireless network can intercept your data.  It is also possible to crack wireless encryption schemes without much effort.

In conclusion, you should be generally cautious about sending important data over wireless networks.  When you do use a wireless network, make sure the sites you use connect via HTTPS.  (See the tip at the end of this issue on how to do this in Google Apps email)


Digital Video Resources in Equipment Checkout
Laura Meyers, ITS

ITS keeps a variety of equipment for students, faculty, and staff to borrow free of charge.   New this fall are more flash-memory camcorders that record to SD memory cards.  The advantage of these are that the videos may be transferred to your computer immediately by copying the files from an SD card, much like you would with a standard digital camera, and a postage stamp-sized card can hold a couple hours of video.

Have a short presentation you want to practice?  Want to upload your best rendition of "Jingle Bells" to YouTube?  Need to analyze your badminton backhand? Flips to the rescue! The compact Flip camcorders are great for recording 30 minute or less and plug directly to your USB port -- no cables to worry about.  

Both of these new items in checkout will help you do your best without having to be delayed by the ins-and-outs that often come with digital video. As always, we're here to help and to recommend the best solution or help you get the files in the place that you want -- whether that be uploading to Moodle or a DVD to send in the mail.

E-mail Laura Meyers in ITS or call her at x8948 to reserve any of this new equipment, as well as laptops, projectors, cameras, tripods, and more.



Macs: Connecting from Off Campus with VPN
Shawn Beattie, ITS

Mac users - have you ever wanted to access your work computer from home?  Whether you use a PC or Mac, this is now possible.  Leopard and Snow Leopard comes out of the box with the ability to enable password-encrypted screen sharing.  VPN, or Virtual Private Networks, allows your home Mac  to authenticate to our network.  Once you have done that, by you can remotely control your office computer. By following a few steps to set up your computer, you can set this up. If you would like additional information or instructions on how to setup your office and remote PC, send an e-mail to the Helpdesk ( and request step-by-step instructions.

New Face in ITS

Kristina Jansson is returning to ITS as IT Support Specialist. Kristina is an Augustana graduate and a former ITS student worker, and is excited to be back on campus. Kristina has great things planned in the area of Macintosh, application, and web support. Kristina has great things planned in the area of Macintosh and application support. Stop by her office (Olin 111) or call (x7476) and say "hello!"


Battle of the e-readers
Shawn Beattie, ITS

If Kindles, iPads, and Nooks sound like something from an epidode of Star Trek, you're not alone.  That is why ITS and the Tredway Library are teaming up to have a "Battle of the e-readers" session this winter at an upcoming LunchBytes session. We plan to combine an impartial analysis with hands-on look at the pros and cons of the various options.  Stay tuned!

Tip: Making Sure Your Email Stays Private
Shawn Beattie, ITS

When you are browsing your Google Apps e-mail from your laptop at Brew By the Slough or Starbucks, it is possible, although not likely, that your e-mail session could be captured.  HTTPS helps prevent this (See Brad Isbell's article above).  To make sure your e-mail is encrypted with HTTPS, check these settings in Google Apps e-mail:

1. Once logged in to Google Apps Mail, click on Settings in the upper right corner.

2. On the General Tab, under browser connection, click "Always use https."

3. Click Save changes at the bottom of the settings screen.

Have a great New Year!
-Your friends in ITS

Most images from this issue of TechKnowledge are from Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Commons is a media file repository making available public domain and freely-licensed educational media content.