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Tech Tip Tuesday: Digital Spring Cleaning

posted Apr 11, 2017, 7:36 AM by Tech Training

It's April, and you know what that means: time for spring cleaning! This yearly purge isn't relegated to just your home or office. There's a good chance you have some cyber-clutter and could use a digital spring cleaning. 

See below for this collaboration between the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Better Business Bureau for quick tips:
If you need these images formatted as text, please view or download a PDF by clicking here



Tech Tip Tuesday: Simplify Tech Terminology with Sideways Dictionary

posted Mar 28, 2017, 6:57 AM by Tech Training   [ updated Mar 28, 2017, 7:11 AM ]

“Metadata”, “net neutrality”, ”DDOS” …This list of technobabble could go on forever. It can be hard to wrap our minds around this technical vocabulary, but it’s never been more important to understand them. That’s where Sideways Dictionary comes in. This website, a collaboration between Google and the Washington Post, uses crowd-sourced analogies to make life a little easier. 

YouTube Video


Simplify Tech Terminology with Sideways Dictionary
First, let’s start off with an example: encryption. I could try to give you a definition, but an analogy might work better. 

“It’s like sending a sealed letter instead of a postcard. To ban encryption would be like requiring all mail to be sent as postcards, including bank statements, medical letters and holiday photos. Your postman, neighbors and postal service would soon know you pretty well.” 

Sideway's Dictionary's Search Interface with the words "Please Explain"
Sideways Dictionary's Search Interface

Or, we can do DDOS, a type of DoS attack where multiple compromised systems, which are often infected with a Trojan, are used to target a single system causing a Denial of Service (DoS) attack. (Webopedia) Is your mind on the verge of melting? Let’s try this instead:

“It’s like a high school prank, where you post the details of your friend’s house party all over town, so instead of 20 people, 900 show up.”

These easy to understand analogies are submitted by citizens of the web, moderated by editors, and ranked by people like you and me. Sideways Dictionary can also be used as a Google Chrome extension which scans articles for terms and makes it easy to search for these terms while you’re reading. (Lifehacker

All you need to do to get started is visit SidewaysDictionary.com.

Stay Relevant in Your Field: Build an Online Personal Learning Environment

posted Mar 14, 2017, 10:04 AM by Tech Training   [ updated Mar 14, 2017, 10:08 AM ]

In today’s ever-changing world, digesting all of the new information in your field may feel overwhelming. Take charge of your own professional development by creating an online Personal Learning Environment (PLE). Continuous, active learning and exchanging the knowledge you gain is key to staying afloat. Creating a PLE will take time, but you’ll be glad you did. 

Mobile Device presenting hologram of connections between icons.
Image Courtesy of eLearning Industry.

Stay Relevant in Your Field: Build a Personal Learning Environment

What is a Personal Learning Environment?
As described by Christopher Pappas, “A Personal Learning Network involves a group of individuals who share ideas, feedback, and experience.” You may create these networks in-person during your 9:00 – 5:00 life, but these networks also lend themselves well to an online environment. With an online learning environment, “regardless of the time, physical location, or topic, online learners can tap into the power of peer support.” (Online Learning Insights). By using forums, social media, blogs, and other online platforms, you can begin creating your network. 

Seeking, Sharing, and Sensing
Before you begin creating your environment, there are a few things to keep in mind. The key to creating a successful PLE is knowledge management. Harold Jarche, a learning and development specialist, describes knowledge management as three pivotal actions: Seeking, Sensing, and Sharing. See the infographic below to get a better understanding of just what these actions entail. (Image Courtesy of eLearning Industry.)
Cartoon image of sand timer with the word Seek, Sense, and Share super imposed over it. Next to seek it says "Seek interesting people" & "Be curious". Next to Sense it says "Observe, Study, Challenge, Evaluate, and THINK". Next to Share it says "Post, Comment, Participate."

As you seek out interesting people or subjects, strive for an environment that has cognitive diversity. What do I mean by 
that? Include people in your network that have a different worldview or cultural perspective. Don’t silo yourself from concepts that may challenge previously held ideas. After you find the interests you wish to explore, work to evaluate or challenge the material you’re exposed to. Lastly, and most importantly, you need to become a participant in your PLE. Become a facilitator. Reply to someone’s Facebook post. Share blogs that you find fascinating. Create your own content to present to the world. 

Getting Started
Keep in mind that developing your PLE will take time--here is a general guide:
1. Decide on Areas of Focus
2. Determine which tools to use:
    o Tools for Collecting and Curating
         Consider using social media like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook or use RSS Feeds, Podcasts or email subscriptions. See         if there are any topics on Reddit or other forums that interest you.  
    o Tools for Constructing your Own Knowledge
        ▪ Create your own posts on a service like Blogger. Begin designing SlideShares. Contribute to a Wiki. Record your own Podcast.
3. Participate:
    o Re-tweet someone else’s post. Nudge those in your network to check out your new blog. Share those SlideShares on LinkedIn. Disseminate the information you find useful or content         you have created yourself. By participating in a network, those around you will feel more comfortable to contribute as well.
4. Establish a time each week to develop your PLE.
5. Create a diagram of your PLE to help you keep track of the information you digest and the information you present to others. See below.

Circle divided into quarters. Quarters on left represent online presence, each quarter containing social media and blogging tools. Quarters and right represent curation, with different icons for website to gain information, such as Wikipedia, Journals, Twitter, etc.
Image Courtesy of Joyce Seitzinger

No matter your profession, shifts in technology and information sharing will affect your career. Become a lifelong learner and stay on top of your game by building a Personal Learning Environment.  

Want to Explore Internet History or Look for a Dead Website? The Wayback Machine may be Your Answer.

posted Feb 28, 2017, 6:24 AM by Tech Training

“What goes on the internet stays on the internet.” Well, that’s not always the case. There are plenty of old websites no longer available or have changed so significantly that you may not even recognize them. That’s where the Wayback Machine comes in hand. This tool, designed by the nonprofit Internet Archive, gives you a chance to relive the past or rediscover a long-lost website. 

Looking for a Dead Website? The Wayback Machine may be Your Answer.

Internet Archive Red and Black Wayback Machine Logo


The Wayback Machine currently has 279 billion webpages that have been saved over time. Now, some of them may not be that old—but the differences between a website in 2010 compared to 2017 can be staggering. There are even gems going back as far as 1996, like a 1998 Amazon homepage I found touting Beanie Babies. (Note: My Beanie Baby investments never did return a profit.

Here’s how to get started:

1. Open an internet browser and visit the Wayback Machine

2. You have two options from the homepage: Simply enter an email address or just select the scrolling notable examples underneath the search field.

Wayback Machine Home page with search field and timeline of notable sites scrolling beneath

3. If you choose to look for a specific site, you will be directed to a page where you can select the year to search. There’s also a calendar below displaying the days in which the Internet Archive saved the site. Start by clicking your desired date.

Timeline at top of screen with black bar charts indicating the amount of Internet Archive saves. Calendar beneath.

Here, for example, is CCIS.edu from March 1st, 2001:


4. You may also search through the site’s history by using the navigational timeline at the top of the screen. Just select a period on the timeline or flip through the Archive’s saves by using the date selector 

That’s all there is to it! Just note that there may be some issues loading certain media, or it may take significant time for a site to appear. What do you expect? You’re going back in time! Enjoy!

Tuesday Tech Tip: Dissect Your Writing with Expresso

posted Feb 14, 2017, 9:40 AM by Tech Training   [ updated Feb 28, 2017, 5:24 AM ]

Chances are that you’re required to do some writing here at CC, but it can be hard to find the time for in-depth editing. Why not let a program designed by a computational neuroscientist give you a hand? Expresso, a browser-based program, provides you with metrics and points out potential weaknesses in your writing.  
Please note that there have been reports that this app has had some issues inside of Internet Explorer. Try using Google Chrome or Firefox if you experience any issues.

Dissect Your Writing with ExpressoTable with metrics for editing.

Metrics for Editing
When visiting Expresso-app.org, you are prompted to paste text into the webpage for analysis. Upon entering text and pressing the Analyze Text button, Expresso provides you with metrics for editing. These metrics include: synonyms, weak verbs, filler words, nominalizations… and the list goes on. Look at this analysis of a recent Tuesday Tech Tip blog post. Yikes!

Develop an Eye for Awkward Phrasing
One of my biggest weaknesses in writing is passive voice. Expresso can help point out passive voice or alert you to awkward phrasing in your writing. 

Readability Grade
Another interesting aspect of Expresso is that it grades the readability of your writing. My last blog post, for example, corresponds roughly to an American 6th Grade Level. I like to keep things simple!

Remember: There’s No “Magic Bullet”
As the site mentions “writing metrics employed by Expresso can be powerful but they are not a ‘magic bullet’. They highly correlate with good writing but are not the cause of it, just like umbrellas correlate with rain but, of course, don’t trigger it. Therefore, there is no benefit in optimizing the metrics blindly.” Writing is an art, not a science, but the tips Expresso may help you communicate clearer.  

Flowcharts, Diagrams, Timelines? Get Started with MS Visio!

posted Feb 7, 2017, 7:13 AM by Tech Training

Still using browser-based flowchart tools or drawing applications to create diagrams? If so, you need to switch to Microsoft Visio. The information you want to present is important, and Visio will help you keep it consistent and understandable. Here’s how to get started:

Flowcharts, Diagrams, Timelines? Get Started with Visio!
Visio Icon

Popular Templates
Need to create an organization chart, describe a workflow, or present information about a database? Don’t start from scratch, let Visio do the leg work. After opening Microsoft Visio from your start menu, you will be prompted with potential templates you may want to use. Here are just a few options: 

Organization Chart, Computer Icons connected by lines Active Directory Chart, various office icons connected to each other Timeline of Events, no data Workflow Chart, icons of research, manufacture, data, and sales

Shapes
Don’t spend your valuable time creating shapes. Visio includes pre-made shapes and icons to best represent what you are presenting. 

List of premade icons to represent different workplace tasks


Connector Tool
Use the Connector tool to quickly show relationships between the subjects of your presentation.

Icons of workplace function connected by arrows


Themes & Variants
Use themes and variants to quickly coordinate colors and designs to make your diagram even more professional.

The MS Themes toolbar with color swatches


Collaboration and the Ink Tools
Collaborating with others? Use the Ink and Comment tools to let them know what you think!

Workplace function represented by icons, annotated with red pen and includes a comment bubble.


What are you doing still listening to me? Go give Visio a try!

Already Forgot Your New Year's Resolution? Use These Apps to Stay on Track!

posted Jan 24, 2017, 12:16 PM by Tech Training

Have you already forgotten about your New Year’s Resolution? Stay true to your health, wealth, or productivity with the following free apps. 

C25K Logo

Fitness:
Couch to 5K
If you’ve wanted to try running but never known where to start, Couch to 5K should be the next app you download. The free eight-week program gives users three workouts per week that get you ready for your local Turkey Trot or Fourth of July road race. (Free; iOS and Android)
View the original review from Greatist



Intuit Mint Logo on Black Background

Wealth:
Mint
With over 15 million users, Mint.com is a simple personal financial program that’s web-based. It’s free to signup and only takes a few seconds to add new accounts. Every time you visit their site, your financial data gets updated automatically. It presents this information in a slick easy-to-use web interface, with pretty graphs and all. Use this app to start fulfill your financial goals for 2017! (Free; iOS and Android)
View the original review from InvestorJunkie




MyFitnessApp Logo, silhouette of woman and Underarmor logo.

Food and Nutrition:
MyFitnessPall
MyFitnessPal is the most popular health and fitness app in the world, and it’s easy to see why. The app’s database of more than 6 million foods makes it easy to track your diet, no matter what you eat. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or put on muscle, the app helps determine the best things to eat to meet your goals. (Free with optional in-app purchases; iOS and Android
View the original review from Greatist




Stop, Breathe, and Think Logo, Cross-legged woman meditating.

Mindfulness:
Stop, Breathe, & Think
If you're trying to do more mindful meditation, you may need some help starting out. This app reminds you to meditate during the day and gives you easy suggestions for your first few times. The killer feature is the app asking you to check yourself before you start. It asks you how you're feeling mentally, physically and emotionally before you begin.  It then offers a few meditations customized for your current state of mind. (Free with optional in-app purchases; iOS and Android)
View the original review from LifeHacker


Looking for Something Different?
Got a goal we didn’t cover? Take a look at the top ten habit tracking apps from Daily Tekk

Tech Tip Tuesday: Provide Context to Spreadsheets by Using Range Names

posted Jan 10, 2017, 7:35 AM by Tech Training   [ updated Jan 10, 2017, 7:51 AM ]

If you refer to the same data in an Excel sheet every day, sure, you may know just where to find the information you need. In a large workbook, however, you may lose track of exactly where you placed some crucial data. Start naming cell ranges to easily refer to information you need. 

Stop remembering random letters and numbers: Provide context to spreadsheets by using Range Names

To begin naming cell ranges, follow the steps below:

1. Select the range of cells you would like to name. Remember: a cell range is a block of one or more cells. In this example, I want to be able to quickly refer to my 2017 Feed Expenditure information no matter where I am within the Excel workbook.

Selection of Cell Range under Feed Expenditure, Winter through Fall.

2. Next, click on the Formulas tab in the Excel ribbon. 

3. With the desired range still selected, click the Define Name in the Defined Names portion of the Formulas tab.

Excel Ribbon with Formulas Tab Selected, Define Name Option Highlighted

4. When giving a range a name, you cannot use spaces or any special characters except an underscore. Also, be sure to double check your cell ranges. Press OK to continue. 

New Name window with field for entering name and which cells it will reference

5. A shortcut method for performing this action is to select the desired cell range, place your cursor in the Name Box, and simply type a name. 

Excel Ribbon with Name Box highlighted

6. Now, you can reference theses ranges in formulas and functions across the workbook rather than typing a traditional cell range. 

Highlighted cell with =sum formula that references the Feed Expenditure named range

7. Lastly, if you need to rename any of your ranges, just click the Formula tab again and select Name Manager. 

Name Manager button highlighted in Excel ribbon

Tech Tip Tuesday: #NULL!, #REF!, #DIV/0 – What does it all mean?!

posted Jan 3, 2017, 7:00 AM by Tech Training   [ updated Jan 3, 2017, 7:09 AM ]

Trying to figure out just what Excel is telling you when an error occurs in your spreadsheet? Here are some of the most common Excel errors and how to fix them.

Remember: Excel will display a small green triangle in the upper left corner of the cells containing error values. Clicking on that green triangle will prompt a yellow diamond to appear with options for correcting the error. 

#VALUE Excel Error Message


#VALUE!
#VALUE is Excel's way of saying, "There's something wrong with the way your formula is typed. Or, there's something wrong with the cells you are referencing." There are a number of reasons this might occur, but it’s always good to check if you included spaces, characters, or text in a formula where Excel was expecting a number. 

#####
When you see this error, don’t worry. All it means is that the column isn’t wide enough to display the information you’ve included.

#DIV/0!
Just like in regular ol’ math, you don’t divide by zero. When this message appears, make sure you’re not accidentally dividing by zero or—which is more likely the case—referencing a blank cell. 
 
#REF!
The #REF! error shows when a formula refers to a cell that’s not valid. This happens most often when cells that were referenced by formulas get deleted, or pasted over.

#NULL!
Getting a #NULL! error all depends on your spacing in a formula. For example, maybe you forgot to include a mathematical operator such as the plus sign ( + ) and included a space instead, like =B2 B4+B6; Or maybe you forgot the colon ( : ) for selecting a range and accidentally wrote =SUM(A1 A10). Double check your formulas and functions for extra spaces!

#NUM!
Excel shows this error when a formula or function contains numeric values that aren’t valid. This often happens when you’ve entered a numeric value using a data type or a number format that’s not supported in the argument section of the formula. For example, you can’t enter a value like $1,000 in currency format, because dollar signs are used as absolute reference indicators and commas as argument separators in formulas. To avoid the #NUM! error, enter values as unformatted numbers, like 1000, instead.

Photo courtesy of Where Marketers Go to Grow.

Tech Tip Tuesday: Six Holiday Gifts Under $60

posted Dec 20, 2016, 6:55 AM by Tech Training

Looking to get something for the techie in your life without breaking your budget? Here are some of this season’s notable items:


Amazon Echo Dot - $39.99

Amazon Echo Dot
Amazon’s way of entering your household with Alexa. Tap into cloud services, activate connected home devices, play music, or ask questions like “What’s the score of the Cardinals game?” Alexa’s there to help.

 





Photo Courtesy of BGR.com


Nintendo NES Classic - $59.99

Nintendo NES Classic



This tiny, retro console comes preloaded 30 great games from the NES era. Relive games like Super Mario Brothers, Megaman 2, and Punch Out. The only problem? With so much hype, finding this hot-ticket item on any shelf will be a challenge.






Photo Courtesy of Nintendo.


Tile Mate - $24.98

Tile Mate



Always misplacing your stuff? Less than 5 millimeters wide, this tracking device syncs with your phone to map the last location of your lost valuable, chirps and sings when you’re looking for said item, and gives you directions to it.

Forgot where you put your phone? You can also use Tile to locate your synced mobile device. 


Photo Courtesy of SlashGear.com.



Google Chromecast - $25.00


Google Chromecast




Yes, Smart TVs are here. But the functionality of a set top box device is way better. Whether you’re looking to cut the cable cord or you just want a way to stream your favorite entertainment, Chromecast turns your mobile device into a powerful television remote for some of the best TV shows you can find.







Photo courtesy of Google.

Samsung Gear VR (2015) - $59.99

Samsung Gear VR



Although not the latest virtual reality headset, you can experience new worlds for almost half the price of the VR 2016. Lightweight and cordless, this headset has ushered in the world of VR gaming. The only downside? It only works with some recent Samsung phones






Photo Courtesy of Samsung.


D-Link Day & Night Wi-Fi Camera - $39.99

D-Link Day and Night Camera



Need to do some surveillance around your home? Great for parenting or recording wildlife from your house, this small wireless camera transmits video (and audio) to its D-Link App. What does that mean for you? You can view the video stream from your computer, phone, or any device with web interfacing.  With quick set up and features like infrared vision and motion alerts, this cheap gadget provides security on a budget.




Photo Courtesy of D-Link.

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