Microsoft Office 2019 campus rollout—important information and timeline

Michigan Tech IT is preparing to roll out this version to campus in the upcoming months.

Useful information

  • Office 2019 is available for Mac OS and Windows 10
  • Mainstream (non-paid) support for Office 2016 ends October 2020
  • There are almost no visual differences between Office 2016 and 2019
  • Office 2019 will be 64-bit, allowing for access to more system resources during calculations.
  • Some have reported having issues in the past with files not being compatible between Office 2016 and older versions of the software. Microsoft has stated that this is not an issue with Office 2019.
  • Like students, faculty and staff have access to Office 365, which automatically updates. More information is available at our Software Download Center.
  • Office 2016 is the last version of Microsoft Office that is compatible with Windows 7

Notes

  • We strongly encourage faculty and staff who rely on Office Add-ins to get involved with the testing and let us know about your experience.
  • Installing Office 2019 will uninstall any other versions of Office installed. You cannot run multiple versions at the same time.
  • Existing Office Add-ins (Aspen, ChemDraw, JMP, Endnote, etc.) may need to be reinstalled or may stop working in Office 2019.

Timeline

November thru New Year—Early testing

Starting in mid-November, IT will make Office 2019 available to faculty and staff through the Software Center in Windows 10 and to MacOS machines running 10.12/10.13/10.14 through JAMF Self Service.  Faculty and staff with laptops or off-domain machines can contact our Help Desk Consultants to arrange a time to install the software.

January 2019

All campus-connected systems with Office versions older than 2016 will be upgraded to at least Office 2016.  All new faculty and staff computers purchased will have Office 2019 installed by default.  Office 2016 will remain in the campus computer labs throughout fall and spring semesters.

June 2019

Following Spring Commencement, campus computer labs, as well as remaining faculty and staff on-campus computers, will be upgraded to Office 2019.

Questions, comments or concerts?  We can help. Contact us at it-help@mtu.edu or 7-1111.

Cryptocurrencies — Look Before You Leap!

The Definition Guide to Cryptocurrencies poster

From A Beginner’s Guide to Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrency comes under many names. You have probably read about some of the most popular types of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum. Cryptocurrencies are increasingly popular alternatives for online payments. Before converting real dollars, euros, pounds, or other traditional currencies into ₿ (the symbol for Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency), you should understand what cryptocurrencies are, what the risks are in using cryptocurrencies, and how to protect your investment.

As a reminder, University owned equipment should not be used for mining cryptocurrency unless it has been approved for research purposes.

What is cryptocurrency?

A cryptocurrency is a digital currency, which is an alternative form of payment created using encryption algorithms. The use of encryption technologies means that cryptocurrencies function both as a currency and as a virtual accounting system. To use cryptocurrencies, you need a cryptocurrency wallet. These wallets can be software that is a cloud-based service or is stored on your computer or on your mobile device. The wallets are the tool through which you store your encryption keys that confirm your identity and link to your cryptocurrency.

What are the risks of using cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrencies are still relatively new, and the market for these digital currencies is very volatile. Since cryptocurrencies don’t need banks or any other third party to regulate them; they tend to be uninsured and are hard to convert into a form of tangible currency (such as US dollars or euros.) In addition, since cryptocurrencies are technology-based intangible assets, they can be hacked like any other intangible technology asset. Finally, since you store your cryptocurrencies in a digital wallet, if you lose your wallet (or access to it or to wallet backups), you have lost your entire cryptocurrency investment.

Follow these tips to protect your cryptocurrencies

  • Look before you leap! Before investing in a cryptocurrency, be sure you understand how it works, where it can be used, and how to exchange it. Read the webpages for the currency itself (such as EthereumBitcoin or Litecoin) so that you fully understand how it works, and read independent articles on the cryptocurrencies you are considering as well.
  • Use a trustworthy wallet. It is going to take some research on your part to choose the right wallet for your needs. If you choose to manage your cryptocurrency wallet with a local application on your computer or mobile device, then you will need to protect this wallet at a level consistent with your investment. Just like you wouldn’t carry a million dollars around in a paper bag, don’t choose an unknown or lesser-known wallet to protect your cryptocurrency. You want to make sure that you use a trustworthy wallet.
  • Have a backup strategy. Think about what happens if your computer or mobile device (or wherever you store your wallet) is lost or stolen or if you don’t otherwise have access to it. Without a backup strategy, you will have no way of getting your cryptocurrency back, and you could lose your investment.

Related Resources

Campus Security Awareness Campaign 2019

This post is part of a larger campaign designed to support security professionals and IT communicators as they develop or enhance their security awareness plans. The campaign is brought to you by the Awareness and Training Working Group of the EDUCAUSE Higher Education Information Security Council (HEISC).


Think before your post: understand social media risks

You’re finally on that dream vacation with your family. You take a second for a selfie on the beach and post it to social media. Your app tags your photo with your location and the following:

Young Asian woman wear straw hat in casual style use smartphone taking selfie In paradise for the next two weeks! #vacation

This is pretty common. We’ve all probably seen this in social media feeds or have done it, too.

But before you hit post, consider what you’re potentially sharing to strangers.

  • You’re away from home.
  • How long you’ll be away.
  • If you’ve posted photos earlier in your feed that have also been geotagged with your location of your home, potential thieves could find out where you live.
  • And how did they find you? The hashtag helped (#vacation). When you added it to your post, you made it searchable.

Millions of people are using social media every day. Most assume that when they log into their favorite app that they’re entering a safe, controlled environment. However, social networking presents unique security challenges and risks.

Who Else Is Online?

Social media sites are not well-monitored playgrounds with protectors watching over you to ensure your safety. When you use social media, do you think about who might be using it besides your friends and connections? Following are some of the other users you may encounter.

  • Identity thieves. Cybercriminals need only a few pieces of information to gain access to your financial resources. Phone numbers, addresses, names, and other personal information can be harvested easily from social networking sites and used for identity theft. Cybercrime attacks have moved to social media, because that’s where cybercriminals get their greatest return on investment.
  • Online predators. Are your friends interested in seeing your class schedule online? Well, sex offenders or other criminals could be as well. Knowing your schedule and your whereabouts can make it very easy for someone to victimize you, whether it’s breaking in while you’re gone or attacking you while you’re out.
  • Employers. Most employers investigate applicants and current employees through social networking sites and/or search engines. What you post online could put you in a negative light to prospective or current employers, especially if your profile picture features you doing something questionable or “less than clever.” Think before you post a compromising picture or inflammatory status. (And stay out of online political and religious discussions!)

How Do I Protect My Information?

Although there are no guaranteed ways to keep your online information secure, following are some tips to help keep your private information private.

  • Don’t post personal or private information online! The easiest way to keep your information private is to NOT post it. Don’t post your full birthdate, address, or phone numbers online. Don’t hesitate to ask friends to remove embarrassing or sensitive information about you from their posts, either. You can NEVER assume the information you post online is private.
  • Use privacy settings. Most social networking sites provide settings that let you restrict public access to your profile, such as allowing only your friends to view it. (Of course, this works only if you allow people you actually know to see your postings — if you have 10,000 “friends,” your privacy won’t be very well protected.)
  • Review privacy settings regularly. It’s important to review your privacy settings for each social networking site; they change over time, and you may find that you’ve unknowingly exposed information you intended to keep private.
  • Be wary of others. Many social networking sites do not have a rigorous process to verify the identity of their users. Always be cautious when dealing with unfamiliar people online. Also, you might receive a friend request from someone masquerading as a friend. Here’s a cool hint — if you use Google Chrome, right-click on the photo in a LinkedIn profile and choose Google image search. If you find that there are multiple accounts using the same image, all but one is probably spurious.
  • Search for yourself. Do you know what information is readily available about you online? Find out what other people can easily access by doing a search. Also, set up an automatic search alert to notify you when your name appears online. (You may want to set alerts for your nicknames, phone numbers, and addresses as well; you may very well be surprised at what you find.)
  • Understand the role of hashtags. Hashtags (#) are a popular way to provide clever commentary or to tag specific pictures. Many people restrict access to their Instagram accounts so that only their friends can see their pictures. However, when someone applies a hashtag to a picture that is otherwise private, anyone who searches for that hashtag can see it.

My Information Won’t Be Available Forever, Will It?

Well, maybe not forever, but it will remain online for a lot longer than you think.

  • Before posting anything online, remember the maxim “what happens on the web, stays on the web.” Information on the Internet is public and available for anyone to see, and security is never perfect. With browser caching and server backups, there is a good chance that what you post will circulate on the web for years to come. So: be safe and think twice about anything you post online.
  • Share only the information you are comfortable sharing. Don’t supply information that’s not required. Remember: You have to play a role in protecting your information and staying safe online. No one will do it for you.

This content is brought to you by the Awareness and Training Working Group of the EDUCAUSE Higher Education Information Security Council (HEISC).


Global Accessibility Awareness Day

For most of us, it’s second nature to look up a website or use an app on our smartphone. We swipe, tap, and click without a second thought. But for some, this isn’t the case. Many people encounter barriers while using technology to perform basic tasks that many of us take for granted.

Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). GAAD started in 2011 when Joe Devon challenged his fellow web developers to start taking web site accessibility seriously. Now GAAD is an annual event that takes place on the third Thursday of May. It’s a day to celebrate current work in digital accessibility, as well as share ideas on how we can continue to make websites more inclusive And while we’ve come along way in creating technology that works for all people, regardless of any disabilities or limitations, we’ve got a long way to go.

Accessibility at Michigan Tech

Michigan Tech has committed to making our technology accessible to people with disabilities. This includes University systems, websites, electronic documents, and educational and training materials. If you aren’t aware of our campus-wide effort, please visit the Michigan Tech accessibility website to learn more. You’ll find the university policy and resources to help you make your documents and materials accessible.

If you would like to get involved, please join our Accessible Technology Working Group (ATWG)! We have members from all areas of campus. Our sub-groups collaborate on how we can address current accessibility challenges and promote an inclusive teaching and learning environment.

Assistive technology in our everyday lives

Most of us use assistive technology every day and don’t realize it. Do you wear eyeglasses or contacts? You’re using assistive technology.

You’ve probably used accessibility features, too. Take video captions, which were created for the deaf community. It turned out that people with partial or full hearing loss weren’t the only ones who benefited. Captions have helped people who are learning secondary languages. Ever turned on closed captioning while streaming a movie at home? Being able to read the dialogue on screen is useful if you can’t have the volume turned up. Maybe you’re on the treadmill at the gym, watching a screen on the wall and can’t hear the audio. Maybe you’re a non-traditional student, holding your sleeping infant while trying to do work in your online course.

Ways to get involved

While GAAD’s focus is on web accessibility, you can still get involved, even if you aren’t a web developer. Today is a great day to take time and try and put yourself in the place of someone using technology with a disability. Try one of these:

  • Pull up a web page and try to use it without a mouse. Discover first-hand the obstacles that many who have physical limitations go through when they are on the web.
  • Zoom in on your screen. Many need to enlarge the view to read the text. How does it change your experience?
  • Use a screen reader. What if you couldn’t see the screen at all? There are free screen readers you can try (NVDA, Voiceover for Mac). Mac OS and Windows have features built into their operating system. “Viewing” a web site changes when you need to rely on a piece of assistive technology to help you read it. Are you able to access all the content you could if you were seeing it?

GAAD has a list of other ways you can participate if you’d like to learn more. If you create content for the web, check out Michigan Tech’s accessibility resources. Please reach out to someone on the ATWG or our Accessibility Coordinator with any questions.

When we make the web and technology accessible, it benefits everyone. It’s one step forward to a more inclusive world. We all have an important role to play, and it can start with us here at Michigan Tech. Join us!