Summer time!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on 05/18/2012 by ancblogger

Woohoo!  It’s summer at last.  Now the Tech crew can get some good old vacation time!  What?  Techs are 12 month employees?  We don’t get summer vacation?  Bummer.  But that goes a long way toward explaining the last week and a half.  In all seriousness, summer is when the tech department gets busy.  I’m not talking “doing a little more” busy.  I’m talking “Classes are out, faculty is gone, nothing’s in our way so let’s get going and work up a sweat” busy.

Our summer projects started with needing to move Computer Lab B to Classroom A, Computer Lab C to Computer Lab B, tear down the wall between Classroom D and Computer Lab C, making one huge Computer Lab which we’ll call Computer Lab Math.  We also needed to move the projection and speaker system from Computer Lab C into Computer Lab B along with moving furniture and trying to get the current mess out of the way in order have room to move all the PCs around.  Oh, and they need to be wired.  And the plans kept changing.  Confused yet?  If so, you know how we spent a few busy days.

So, after three busy days, we had the projection/sound system moved, the new furniture and PCs arranged in Classroom A (now Lab A), the PCs and furniture moved from Lab C to Lab B, and Lab C was ready to have the wall taken down.   We even offered to help the Operations department take the wall down.  We had a pretty good plan:  put all the techs in one room, put a bunch of pizza in the other room, BAM no more wall.   And we get free pizza!  But, they wanted to bring in professionals.  Apparently they wanted smooth edges on the project as well as all the pipes and conduits removed.  Some people are just such perfectionists.  I think a bunch of “Loony Tune” tech shaped holes in the wall would have looked great.

Happy Computing,

Gimme Those Four Digits!

Posted in Uncategorized on 04/30/2012 by ancblogger

We got four digits!  No, I’m not referring to the new girl’s extension, the combined weight of the ANC Tech Crew, or the number of times ANC Math teachers have had students run out of the classroom in tears.  I’m talking about Likes on Facebook and we just broke one thousand.  That’s 1000.  I’m talking 1×103.  Check it out.  ANC has started a virtual onslaught of social media tools and we didn’t stop with the webpage.  In addition to Facebook, we can also be found on Twitter.   Follow us at!/arknortheastern

Ashley Beckett liked our Facebook page and it paid off big time.  She was our one thousandth Like and she won a prize.  I think it was something absolutely fabulous like diamonds and jewels…or maybe a T-shirt.  Awarding prizes is another department so I’m not exactly sure.  But, probably a T-shirt.  However, there will be more prizes in the future.  I’ve heard talk about ONE BILLION DOLLARS!  Hold on, I’d better go verify that.    Okay, I’m back and apparently I just made up the one billion dollar thing.  Bummer, I was getting excited.  But, since ANCTech supports all ANC departments, I’d like to try to help the Social Media department with some excellent prize suggestions.  To wit, I think the 2000th like should win a date with the Facebook Administrator or Administratrix.  Of course, in the interest of fair warning, they’re both married…and pretty straight laced…and their spouses probably wouldn’t go for it…so, it would probably be pretty boring…and they’ll probably vivisect me for suggesting it….Hmm, maybe a T-shirt isn’t that bad of an idea after all.  Hey, I had a brainstorm!  I’m officially changing my suggestion to a gift certificate to the Outback.  Go Like us!  EOL.

Happy Computing,

Gearing Up For The Offseason

Posted in Uncategorized on 04/03/2012 by ancblogger

By offseason, I mean summer.  Which, while it is an offseason for students and faculty, really isn’t an offseason for MITS.  We go all year.  Like the weather, we’re always doing something…or fixing to do something.  It’s like when the wind starts blowing and someone says, “It’s fixing to do something!”  That’s us.   What, you may ask, is MITS fixing to do now?  I’m glad you asked.  We have a huge – nay, stupendous -quantity of upgrades and additions lined up for this summer to enhance the ANC educational experience.  Allow me to elucidate.

First and foremost, the new Allied Health building is getting closer and closer to completion.  When it’s almost complete, we’ll be installing a new nursing lab, and EMT lab, and several classroom teaching stations.  We’ll also be moving several instructors PCs from Burdette and a few from Paragould as we further consolidate on the main Blytheville campus.  We can’t wait.  Of course, before that happens, we’ve got quite a bit of wiring and network infrastructure to finish.  More on that in a bit.

In another exciting innovation by the state of Arkansas, ANC will be completing a complete math curriculum redesign.  That may not be exactly correct; teaching paradigms are another department.  But, what ‘is’ our department is that we’ll be adding three new math labs on campus!  Yay, more computers are always welcome.  Hold on ANCTech, you may be saying.  With a minimum of 125 new computers on campus, won’t that suck bandwidth down to insanely low levels?  Great question! 

Remember that infrastructure upgrade to which I alluded earlier?  That’s right!  It includes increased bandwidth!  ANC will be adding another 20MB of dedicated bandwidth to support the new math labs and the Allied Health building.  Once usage patterns are developed and analyzed, we anticipate doing some load balancing which should also benefit all the existing labs and users on campus.  We’re pretty excited about it.  We’re not so excited that we’re relaxing the web filter or anything crazy like that, but we’re still pretty fired up. 

Other than that we just have the normal stuff going on; replacing faculty and staff computers, updating the web page, installing new software, cleaning and updating the labs, and replacing obsolete equipment.  We’ll also be performing maintenance on anything that needs maintaining as well as fixing anything that breaks.   You know…the stuff that collectively we refer to as “our jobs.”  EOL

Happy Computing,

(Un)check this out!

Posted in Uncategorized on 10/13/2010 by ancblogger

Friends, Arkansans, Countrymen, lend me your ear.  Actually your eyes.  No, your attention.  Anyway, what I’m getting at is that I hope you’ll read the following blog.  As you may know, the bane of ANCTech’s existence is generally considered to be malware of all types.  Trojans, adware, viruses, the whole ball of wax.  Even though ANC has Symantec Security, there are still ways for malware to invade your computer.  Mostly it involves opening a channel to the internet from the local computer which then allows various nastinesses to load on your computer. 

You may ask, “But ANCTech, how can that happen and what can I do to stop it?”  I’m glad you asked.

Many times, when a software is downloaded (which is highly recommended to NOT do) it will attempt to install additional programs as well.  Most of the time, there will be a checkbox that is checked by default.  Uncheck it.  Whatever it is, no matter how cool or innocuous it sounds, uncheck it.  The most common add-on software is an Internet Browser Toolbar.  Specifically, MyWebSearch, Yahoo, Google, and Bing are probably the most commonly seen. (These have been covered before, but we all need a little repetition.)  Don’t allow them to install.  You don’t need them…really…you don’t.  The more miscellaneous ‘stuff’ that gets installed on your computer the less secure it is. 

The rationale for this is that free software makes money through advertising.  The original software you’re downloading may be fine, but don’t trust the advertisers.  Ever!  If a program is trying to piggyback on another software, its sole goal is to make money off of you, one way or another. (I’ll skip the methods as TMI for this subject.) (You’re welcome, it could have gotten boring.)  (What do you mean, “Too late?”)  (Oh no!  I’m caught in another parentheses loop!) Ctrl-Alt-Break.

So, to summarize.  If you’re downloading software (double-plus unrecommended) pay attention and uncheck any options for allowing the whiz bang toolbars or other gadgets to install.

Let’s review from the ANCTech blog: Don’t click the link, backup your data, ease up on the junk mail, visit occasionally, use the Trouble Ticket Reporting System, uncheck any checkboxes of which you’re unsure, and call if you have leftovers. EOL.

Happy Computing.

Trouble Ticket Reporting

Posted in Uncategorized on 04/30/2010 by ancblogger

Did you know that ANC has a trouble ticket feature available through the portal?  According to a recent survey, apparently several people are still unaware of it.  Our bad, we thought everyone knew.  It greatly simplifies reporting computer problems or scheduling installations.  Plus, it’s super easy and just loads of fun!  Here’s what you do.

Log into the portal and look for the “MITS Trouble Ticket” tab.  Click on it. (This is very important.)  There will be a list with the current month’s trouble tickets listed below.  For Example, April Trouble Tickets.  Click on that and you will see a list of all the tickets for the month.  Look to the right and you will see a link titled, “Add a Thread,” which, when clicked will open a view very similar to a basic email message.  There is a subject line and a message body.  Just fill in a basic category for the subject line and put as clear of a problem description as possible in the message body.  Click Save.  That’s it.  The more precise the message, the better able we will be to route the problem to the correct ANCtech to solve it.  An example: 

Subject:  Rats everywhere.   Message:  There are rats all over my office and they chewed up my computer cables and now I can’t print.

Again, that’s just an example.  Can we rid your office of rats?  No, we’re terrified of rats.  Snakes too, for that matter.  We’re not coming anywhere close to rats or snakes.  Well, possibly if there’s pizza involved, as long as it’s not rat-chewed.  But I digress.  The point is, we can fix most printer problems, but we need to notified in a way that helps us remember.

We try to be as accommodating as possible, but if you report problems when you see us in the hallway there’s a good chance we’ll forget.  We have giant brains, of course, but they’re mostly full, so we need a reference point…hence the Trouble Tickets.  This also allows us to check each other in case we forget to  share the information.  It’s also a major point of our assessment, so we’ll try extra hard to respond quickly.

One last thing.  When you have problems, we’ll get there as quickly as possible.  However, if you have something that needs to be done and you know ahead of time, the more lead time you can give us the better.  We can schedule things if we’re notified a week in advance much better than if we have to drop everything to install something that has to be done in 2 hours.  We know emergencies happen and information gets delayed, but if you do know early, please try to let us know.   With enough time to plan, we’ll even face rats.

Happy Computing,


Quick and easy spyware removal

Posted in Uncategorized on 03/19/2010 by ancblogger

Does your computer run slower than it used to?  Does it frequently lock up?  Do you suspect spyware?  If you are an ANC employee or a student connecting on the ANC wireless network, you can access the Spyware removal that is built into our Barracuda Web Filter.  Barracudas are sweet, lovable, little fishies that take good care of their other little fishy friends.  (I think.)  Any device named after so lovable a creature will surely take good care of you and your computer.  Here’s what you do.

Open a web browser and go to the site and it will launch the Barracuda Spyware Removal Tool.  Click on the button for Barracuda Spyware Removal Tool and it will open a window asking “Do you want to run or save this file?”   Select Run.  At this point you may have to select Allow if Windows asks for permission to run the file.  After allowing it you will go to the Spyware Removal Tool page, once there select Scan.  When it finishes, click Select All, and click Remove.  That should remove anything the Barracuda finds.  If Barracuda doesn’t like it, we don’t like it.  Make it gone.

This is a quick and easy first step to keeping your PC healthy and functioning properly. 

Happy computing,


Google is now a verb

Posted in Uncategorized on 01/20/2010 by ancblogger

Yes, we’ve all ‘googled’ stuff.  Some of us quite regularly and couldn’t function without it in our daily grind.  In case you just got back from a trip through space and time, ‘googling’ is searching the internet through the use of, but I think everyone knows that by now.

Why is it relevant to this blog?  Because the rant/tip/gripe/advice of the day (or week/month/semester…it’s been a while) is on search bars.  Not the online search engines like Google, Yahoo, et. al., but the downloadable, cute, little add-ons that clutter up your browser, your computer, and likely your soul.  (Note: no verification on the soul part, but who can resist good hyperbole, right?)

Two examples are AskSBar and My Web Search.  Why are they horrible?  Because they install unnecessary programs on your computer. (That’s horrible enough from a tech perspective.)  There’s no need to have three or four bars added onto your web browser.  It slows down the browser, opens a channel for malware infections, shrinks your available screen space, and doesn’t really accomplish anything.  Seriously, if you feel the need for these or a similar program, you’re just not trying.  Use Google, or Yahoo, or Dogpile.  Do you have to save the three seconds required to open another browser page?  No.  Do you need all the cutesy icons to launch your email?  No.  They’re useless eye candy that slows down your system, may or may not lead to malware/virus infections, and add no functionality.  If you think they do, you just need to learn better ways to do thing.  Really.  We’ll help, just ask. 

In short, if you want these things on your home system, great.  It’s a free country and you can do whatever you want.  (However, I’d recommend being buddies with a tech who can come clean off all the corruptions somewhere down the road.)  If you install them on your work PC, we’ll find you.  We techs see eeeeeverything.

Happy computing.

Back to the old grind.

Posted in Uncategorized on 08/06/2009 by ancblogger

The end of summer quickly approaches, and I thought an update on ANC Tech projects might be in order.  While faculty and students have been going to the beach, amusement parks, and touring blues clubs, your friendly neighborhood techs have been hard at it all summer. 

The most noticeable upgrade took place in the Burdette Nursing lab.  We completely re-wired the lab, reconfigured it, and replaced the old PCs with shiny new ones.  It is much more functional now.  Random failures to boot should be a thing of the past.

We also upgraded the Learning Assistance Center with new computers, so everything over there should be quicker and cleaner.

Several other projects are still in progress.  We are currently setting up Adult Education in the ‘G’ building.  They are getting an upgraded computer lab among other things.  We are awaiting the arrival of the equipment to set up wireless hotspots around campus.  Yes, you read correctly.  Sometime in the next few weeks, Wi-Fi will be available in the Outback, the library, and the former Kid’s Kollege with some spillover to other areas.  As always, some faculty and staff will be getting replacement PCs.  Those should start arriving in your offices during the first few weeks of classes.

Now the news that will affect everyone.  The new email system will be online by the time we reconvene.  Every employee will have an email address  This is a web accessible client, so you can check your ANC email anywhere.  That’s right, we’ve made it easier for you to work all weekend!  Be sure to thank Ruby and Carol. 

End of line.

Let me ask you a question.

Posted in Uncategorized on 06/22/2009 by ancblogger

In several professions it’s just accepted that you will be asked work related questions at any time.  Doctors always get to hear about people’s aches and pains and see their rashes.  Financiers will be constantly asked their opinions on the stock market.  Techs get the computer questions.  That’s what I’m going to talk about.

The questions can take any form, but one that we commonly hear is:  “I’m buying a new computer, what should I get?”  This is often in conjunction with, or followed by, “Is HP or Dell better?”  “How many gigs do I need?”  “How does wireless work?”  “How fast a processor do I need?”  We try to help;  after all, computer techs are the salt of the earth and the most helpful, giving creatures ever created.  However, even we have our limits.  Our limits usually consist of not being psychic to know what you need.

For the edification of my readers, I will undertake the task of providing a few common sense answers that may or may not help.  Just remember two things:  1) This is free advice.  2) You get what you pay for.

For instance, HP or Dell or (insert any random brand here)?  I usually respond, “Ford or Chevy?”  It’s basically the same question.  In the case of computers or trucks (or toasters or TVs etc.) the vast majority work great and never give the owner a lick of trouble.  However, there are lemons in every brand of every device manufactured.  Most likely, it won’t matter.  Computers are very nearly, if not already, commodities.  That means there’s very little differentiation between the brands.  Of course, some people are fanatical that one brand is better than another.  This usually comes from the tech’s experience with the brand(s) he or she has encountered at work.  Keep in mind, the business models we’re familiar with are not the same as the consumer models which you will be buying.  Just look for the best deal and you’ll be fine.  Probably.

How many gigs of what?!?  Seriously!  I’ve heard that question!  Make sure you have at least 2GB of RAM, more is better but probably not necessary for most users.  If you have no idea what advantages would be gained, you don’t need it.

Hard drive space is more critical.  Most PC packages have around a 250GB hard drive and that’s “probably” fine.  If you’re going to do movie editing, desktop publishing, or crazy amounts of photos, upgrade the drive.  Hard drive space is a cheap upgrade and usually worth the money.

As for what kind of processor, don’t worry about it.  Just get whatever comes with the PC and sleep well at night.  If you’re running a high CPU demand specialty application such as graphic rendering or CAD/CAM, max it out.  Otherwise, you’ll never notice the difference between one CPU and another.

As far as setting up your router, either wireless or wired, just get the one your internet service provider sends and follow the directions.  The directions are designed to be very simple and straightforward.  Don’t worry about how it works, it involves a lot of  magic.  Step one will tell you how to plug it in.  There might even be pictures.  Follow the proceeding steps in order (a lot of people actually miss the “in order” part) and soon you’ll be surfing the web looking for a new ANCTech blog.

I’ve got to start making these things shorter.

Happy Computing.

It’s an inbox, not a dumpster!

Posted in Uncategorized on 04/22/2009 by ancblogger

 The title refers to the concept that junk belongs in a dumpster, not your email inbox.  Most people don’t have time for all of the junk email that circulates at work.  Some do, and if you are one of these lucky ones, by all means, watch the 12 MB PowerPoint slide shows with inspirational phrases and captions and circles and arrows explaining what each slide represents.  For the rest of us, it’s a bit much to be locked into some slow moving piece of uselessness.

Junk mail can come in any form, depending on your circle of online friends:  religion, porn, songs, videos, or any email that has a huge file attached.  Studies have determined that over 95% of all email falls into the junk email category.  This includes not only spam, but also jokes, inspirational messages, and anything else you might be forwarding to your friends.  If your friends enjoy it, that’s between you and them.  God bless you both.  However, if you forward some huge thing to somebody who never sends huge things out themselves, never responds to your huge attachment with a “that was cute” or “thanks”, then they are probably just deleting them and being annoyed. 

While I’m on it, if an email says something special will happen if you forward this message to 10 people, it won’t.  Really, it just won’t.  Email doesn’t have that capability.  There is also no magical email tracking program that allows Bill Gates to send you money if you’re the five thousandth forwarder of the message.  Really, those testimonials at the end are what we in the tech business call…a…lie.  Seriously, do you think Microsoft Bill, or any other company for that matter, is going to give away money at random?  If a company gives something away it’s to generate future business, either directly or indirectly.  There’s no other reason. 

Email has no authority.  That means you don’t have to forward it just because it tells you to.  In fact, if it tells you to, that’s normally a good indication that you shouldn’t.  Here’s a quick test.  If you are thinking about forwarding an email message to your closest friends, ask yourself, “Would ANCTech be happy to receive this?”  If the answer is ‘no’, go ahead, they might like it.  But, if the answer is “Oh, hell no!” you might want to rethink hitting the send button.

Anyway, why does all of this matter?  To IT departments that’s a lot of added overhead to email systems, spam filters, routers, switches, bandwidth and overall reaction time.  To you and everyone else, it makes everything just a shade slower.  Think of it as traffic on the information highway and let’s all try to make rush hour a little less crowded.

Happy computing.