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Tech Tip Thursday: Codec Newsletter

February 9th, 2012 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Information Services (the department that the OSU Computer Helpdesk belongs to) has published the first issue of its brand new bi-monthly video newsletter; Codec.  Each issue of Codec will be a short video that highlights a specific way that Information Services contributes to the OSU Community. The first newsletter spotlights the OSU Computer Helpdesk, featuring some of our techs and customers! Check out the video:


video platform video management video solutionsvideo player


The Codec page can be found at http://oregonstate.edu/is/codec-video-newsletter

Check back in April to see the next issue!


Tech Tip Thursday: Let’s go Phishing

October 13th, 2011 · No Comments · Uncategorized

I got this email the other day from a Nigerian prince whose sister was married to the late president of Nigeria and needed my help smuggling 35 million dollars out of the country. I knew the email was super important because it was written in all CAPS, which is the equivalent of yelling online. I was also flattered that foreign royalty were aware of my trustworthiness in the matter, so I decided to help the guy… Just Kidding!

We have all received emails like these at some point or another. These are called phishing emails (yep, that’s right, phishing with a P) and they have received quite a bit of attention in the media in the past few years, but hackers have been phishing for personal information since the early days of the internet; I’m talking about the heyday of AOL and dial-up in the mid-90‛s! Phishing can take many forms nowadays:  Emails, instant messages, and even phone calls!

Hacker Phishing

Photo Credit: http://www.devicemag.com

The harm done by responding to a phishing email can range from your email account being spammed to it being hacked and used to spam other accounts, causing you to get locked out of your email account. Never respond to spam email, even if it is just to click the “Unsubscribe” link. Spammers use this link to determine in the email address they are sending to is active or not. You know what that means: Never ending spam. The damage can be much more severe if you share any personal information, like bank account numbers and SSNs. This could lead to financial loss and identity theft! Countless ONID accounts are deactivated every year because the ONID user responded to a phishing email! Don’t let this be you!

Now, I know that the email that I mentioned above was obviously fraudulent and could only lead to trouble but the hackers of the world have wised up to the fact that modern day internet users are more cautious of the information they share over the web. This has driven phishers to create emails that look surprisingly legitimate; including using big company’s logos and pop-up windows, making it harder to recognize what is legit and what is fraud. Here are some examples:

  • This phishing email is supposedly from Paypal telling users that their account will expire.

Doesn't look legitimate? (Photo credit:howto.cnet.com)

  • This next image is from the Chase website. It is a screenshot of a very convincing pop-up that asks for your banking information.

This is a Pop-up that asks for your Chase Bank information. ( Photo Credit: Chase.com)

  • This last image is and email that is trying to get your Ebay account information.

Ebay Phishing

Don’t use log-in portals that are sent via email! Instead, open a browser and go to the website to login. (photo credit: http://sanesecurity.blogspot.com)


Here are some tips to help you spot and avoid phishing attempts.

1. Who sent the email? Always look at who an email is from. Is it someone you know? Is it a company you trust and do business with? Phishers can fake the email address they are sending from, to give an email authenticity. You can check a sender’s authenticity by looking at the headers of the email. Are some screenshot illustrating how to do this in ONID webmail:



Open the email, hover over "Headers", and click "Show Headers"

Hover over the "From" email address to see the email address that sent the email. In this case it was legitimately sent from the person in the "From" field.


2. Spelling & Grammar Does the email have poor grammar and spelling mistakes? This is a dead giveaway for a phishing attempt. Spelling and grammar mistakes are extremely unprofessional, large companies employ editors that look over mass emails before they are sent out to avoid embarrassment.

3. Does the email contain a threat? Often time phishing emails have a sense of extreme urgency. A common phishing message is “You email will be deactivate in one day if you do not respond to this message with your username and password.” These kinds of threats are meant to panic user’s into giving their personal information before you can question the legitimacy of the email.

4. Beware of Links! If you don’t trust the origin of the email, do not click on any links within the email! Links can look like they go one place, when they really go another. For example the following link says it’s for Google but it really goes to OSU’s homepage. Check it out: www.google.com

Rememberthe OSU Computer Helpdesk will NEVER ask you for your ONID username or password. Your ONID password does expire once a year and when it does we send you directions on how to change the password on your own, without giving us any of your personal information. If you are receiving spam to you ONID or your @oregonstate.edu email accounts, check out the helpdoc article on phishing to find out ow to report it.

Keep these tips mind and you will be less likely to fall prey to a phishing attack.



Tech Tip Thursday: MyOSU

September 29th, 2011 · No Comments · Tech Tips

Whoa! First week of Fall term 2011! It has been crazy busy around the Helpdesk this week! I hope all of you are getting settled and that syllabus week hasn’t been to rough.

I want to send a big WELCOME to all of the freshman who are brand-spanking new to campus. I trust that all of you are enjoying the spoils of you new found freedom. Well all of you except those who had their parents do all their prep-work for college, obviously. I’m sure you know who you are.  And welcome back to all of the student’s who made their annual summer pilgrimage to their parents’ homes this summer. Weren’t those days of no class and free food wonderful? I’m sorry to say those days are over but, on the bright side, Corvallis is a much livelier place now that you are back. And to those that had to stay in Corvallis this summer… well I guess I don’t really have much to say to that group. Sorry about that.

Now that classes are underway, it’s time to buckle down, start a routine, and figure out what resources you’re going to need for this term to be successful. But have you ever noticed how overwhelming the OSU’s home page can get? Now I know the freshman know what I am talking about. There are links all over the place and all you want to do is register. Or check my email. Or look at blackboard. Am I right?

The links are organized by who would most likely use the links (Current students, Future Students, Faculty/Staff, etc.)  but it can still be difficult to find the exact link that you need. The truth is that there are just so many links that have varying levels of importance to different people to have them all on one page. That is why earlier this month the MyOSU portal was launched.


The MyOSU Breakdown

What is MyOSU? Good question, glad you asked.

Well, it is a single site where you can access a variety of information, tools, and links that you will need to be successfully at OSU.  This type of webpage is known as a Portal, in geek speek.

MyOSU is:

  • single sign-on (which means that you only have to log-in to MyOSU and then every link you click on with-in the portal will allow you to go directly to that site. For example: if you log-in to MyOSU and click on the Blackboard link, you will bypass the Blackboard sign page and be directed straight to you’re My Course’s Tab)
  • tuned specifically to your affiliation with the university. (If you are a student you will only see links relevant to student life. If you’re a staff member, you won’t have to wade through links for bill pay and class registration.)
  • the cat’s pajama’s
  • a page that will cut down on the amount of time you spend searching for information and links at OSU, allowing you to get done what needs getting done and moving one with your life.

With that said, have you logged into MyOSU yet? What are you waiting for?! Just log-in with your ONID account and start exploring!



Tech Tip Thursday – Wireless Registration

September 15th, 2011 · No Comments · Tech Tips

For today’s TTT we bring you a beloved tale from the OSU Computer Helpdesk Masterpiece Vault. It is a tale of misunderstanding in a world governed by technology and innovation. Tyler the tech, the hero our story, tries to rectify Sally’s, the protagonist, misconstrued notions of technology.

We know set the scene. The two character’s of our drama are sharing a study table on the 4th of the Valley Library on a early fall term afternoon. Sally has just gotten settled, while Tyler the Tech has been at the table for hours.


Sally: When you come to campus, do you ALWAYS have to log-in with your ONID to get connected to OSU_Access? I see this page every time I try to get on the internet in the library.

OSU_Access Log-in

Isn’t that so annoying?! I get this page when I use my iPhone’s wireless on campus, too. Such a hassle. Why don’t those OSU’s wireless gods find a way for us ONID users to connect to the wireless automatically, you know without logging in all the time?

Tyler the Tech: There is a way to have your laptop automatically connect to OSU_Acess.

Sally: Wait…What was that? ONID users CAN connect to the wireless without having type in their username and password every time?! Tell me more about this absurdity.

Tyler the Tech: Maintain is OSU’s network registration and management system, basically a giant list of all the registered wireless devices that are allowed on the network. I heard that ONID users have the ability of registering wireless devices at Maintain.oregonstate.edu to avoid having to enter their credentials to connect to the Wi-Fi every time they come to campus. You can register up to 4 wireless devices, so you can register your laptop, smart phone, and ipad, and still have one more space for another device. Super cool, right?

Sally: Ok… so how do I register a device?

Tyler the Tech: All you have to do is log into the Maintain site with your ONID account, agree to the wireless network use policy, and enter your wireless device’s hardware address…

Sally: Whoa, hold the phone! My wireless device’s what? What in the heck is a hardware address?

Tyler the Tech: Well, a hardware address, also known as a MAC address or a physical address, is a unique identifier, composed of string of 12 numbers and letters, that was assigned to your wireless card by its manufacturer. Registering this number in Maintain allows the network to identify your computer out of the sea of laptops that are on campus everyday, allowing it to connect the wireless network automatically. If you didn’t know what a hardware address (HWA) was then it is a safe guess you don’t have a clue how to find it, right?

Sally: Right….

Tyler the Tech: Never fear! If you are accessing Maintain with the device you want to register, Maintain will automatically pull the HWA of that device. If you are connected to OSU_Acess and want to register a device other than the one you are accessing Maintain with,  you can give the OSU Computer Helpdesk a call and I am sure they would walk you through how to find the HWA.

Sally: Ah, good idea. That Maintain thing sounds really cool. I for sure need to register my laptop. On last question, do you know if  I can get connected to the wireless in the dorms when I register my laptop in Maintain?

Tyler the Tech:  Well, the ResNet wireless network (aka dorm internet) is separate from the main campus’ wireless, so you will have to register your laptop separately with ResNet to access internet in the dorms. Check out the Helpdoc article to find out how to register device with ResNet.

Sally: OK, will do.



Stay tuned for more of the “Heroic tales of Tyler the Tech and Sally.”


Tech Tip Thursday – Setting Up an ONID Account

September 8th, 2011 · No Comments · Tech Tips

So hopefully you caught last week’s Tech Tip that describe the differences between the elusive OSU ID/GAP combo and an ONID username/password. Now that we have that info sorted in our brains, let’s try setting your GAP and then setting up your ONID account.

All new students and employees’ GAPs are set to the user’s birthday in MMDDYY but the catch is that ONID sees a GAP that is set to a user’s birthday as being invalid, for security reasons.  SOOO, we must change the GAP from your birthday.

Setting GAP:

  1. Go to Online Services
  2. Type in your OSU ID as your username and your birthdate in mmddyy as your password.
    (This should prompt you to change your GAP, if not please call us.)
  3. Type in your birthdate in mmddyy as your old GAP. Pick another 6-digit number and type this in as your new GAP.
  4. Next you should be taken to a screen to set up a security question. Type in your new GAP number and create a question (example: Who is my favorite pet?) and type in the answer. This question can be used in the future if you ever forget your GAP by clicking on the “Forgot GAP?” button after typing your OSU ID as your username on the Online Services log-in page.
  5. You should now be logged into Online Services. Here you can register for classes (under the registration link), view transcripts (under link the student records link), and edit your OSU directory entry (under the personal information.)

Now we have all the information that we need to set up an ONID account: an ID number and a GAP that has been changed from our birthday, whew!

It can sometimes take up to 10 minutes for a GAP change to be recognized by ONID, so feel free to use those 10 minutes catching up on current events or check out what’s new on pintrest. After waiting about 10 minutes follow the directions below.

Signing-up for your ONID account:

  1. Go to the ONID homepage
  2. Click the “Sign-Up for ONID” link on the left hand side of the screen
  3. Enter your OSU ID number and GAP
  4. Read and agree to the acceptable use policy
  5. Create your password. The requirements for the ONID password are listed under “Restrictions.” We suggest using a passphrase, which is an easy to remember sentence where you substitute some of the letters in the sentence for numbers.
    Example Sentence: OSU is great
    Example passphrase: 0SU1$gr8!
    (Please DO NOT use example passphrase!))
  6. The next screen gives you the option of setting up email forwarding. We suggest not setting up email forwarding for students because your ONID account how  you professor and advisors will be contacting you for academic reasons and there is a chance that emails could get lost or blocked when being forwarded. (If you do decide to set-up email forwarding, please log-in to ONID after setting up your account and check the “Keep a copy on ONID” option under “Manage Mail” and click “Set Mail Forwarding”)
  7. The next screen is all your ONID account information. You may want to print this page off for your records. Here your ONID username, email address, forwarding address (if applicable), and web address are listed.
  8. Click the “Log-in to ONID“ link and log-in with your ONID credentials to confirm that the account was set-up successfully.

Congratulations, you have successfully set your GAP and set-up your ONID account! I knew you could! Your ONID account creation automatically propagates through the system, so you should be able to go to any page that requires ONID authentication (Blackboard, Online Services, Email, etc.) and log-in without any delay!

Let us know if you have any issues or questions about your OSU ID/GAP or ONID username/password. The Computer Helpdesk’s number is 541.737.3474; we are open during the Summer Monday-Friday 8am-5pm.


Enjoy this video as a congratulations for a job well done.



Tech Tip Thursday [Special Friday Edition] – OSU ID numbers & ONID Accounts

September 2nd, 2011 · No Comments · Tech Tips

Can anyone tell me what the difference between an OSU ID number and ONID account?



OK, well let’s break-it down because you are not alone if you are confused by what the two accounts can do.

An OSU ID number (sometimes shortened to OSU ID) is a 9 digit number, usually starting with 93-, which is assigned to you when you first start your affiliation with Oregon State University. This number can be found on your OSU ID card if you have one.  Your GAP is a 6 digit number that is set to you birthday in MMDDYY form by default, but must be changed to another number through Online Services to be valid for an ONID account creation. GAP numbers are paired with OSU IDs and can be thought of like a username/password combination that you can use to log-in to Online Services and to confirm your identity when setting up your ONID account.

An ONID account is OSU’s general use account for current students and employees of the university. Now, what the heck does “general use” mean? Well, it means that ONID is used by a whole bunch of services around campus to verify that you are eligible for certain benefits that are reserved specifically for people who are currently associated with the university. Some of those benefits that current students and employees can enjoy include:

  • Use of on-campus computers
  • Email
  • Blackboard
  • Access to file storage and web space on the OSU servers

An ONID username uses combination of the first couple of letters from your last name followed by the first couple of letters of your first name. This username is assigned to you by the ONID system. Everyone who gets an ONID account automatically gets an email address with the form username@onid.orst.edu.


Name: Benny Beaver
ONID Username: beaver
ONID Email address: Bennyb@onid.orst.edu

Your email address is NOT your username. If you are tying to log into something that requires ONID authentication using your email address instead of your username, then you will get a “Bad Username or Password “error.

An ONID password must a mixture of numbers and letters, unlike the GAP number which only contains numbers. The ONID password is usually more complex than your GAP number.

Why do we need two accounts?

It seems a litte excesive, I know, but the main reason for two accounts is the accessibility of your personal records after you leave OSU. Your ONID account will be deactivated and eventually be deleted when your affiliation with OSU ends. Your OSU ID and GAP will never expire, allowing you to reach your transcripts and other personal information online years after you have left the university.

Ok, now that we know the difference between the two accounts our brains are probably saturated with all this info, I know mine is! Let’s meet back here next Thursday and I will describe how to set up your ONID account from the ground up!



Tech Tip Thursday – Using Passphrases

August 25th, 2011 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Have a rough time juggling all of your passwords? Email accounts, school logins, bank accounts; we all have a ton of username and password combinations to remember, and with restrictions required to protect our accounts, it can be downright impossible to remember everything.

A new idea has been cropping up: Passphrases. Rather than using a cryptic word peppered with odd characters and symbols, we recommend trying to use a sentence, or statement. By doing this, you have a longer, more complex password, that is easier to recall!

Mottos, slogans, quotations, quick sayings; these can all prove to be handy passwords. For instance:

  • A meaningful statement: “Carpe Diem!”
  • directions to a location: “Down Oak, 2nd on the Right”
  • What you’re accessing: “Checking my Onid-Mail!”
  • Catchy jingle: “I don’t always use passwords, but when I do”

Of course, hackers have been catching onto this. We recommend you try adding personal notes in your passphrases, or adding a special character or two, so that someone can’t just try to enter every quote by Benjamin Franklin to guess your password.

Good Password: “Applause waits on success.”
Better Password: “Applause waits on succes$!”

You can check the strength of your password at our website: http://oregonstate.edu/helpdocs


Tech Tip Thursdays – Updating Your Laptop

August 18th, 2011 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Have you been keeping up with your computer’s updates? Yeah, I didn’t think so. I know, they take forever. And I bet you keep putting off updates until you get so annoyed by the update reminder that you decide anything is betting than seeing that message again. Right?

Honestly though, sometimes your computer’s problems can be solved in just a few minutes using your computer’s update tools, so it is really important to stay on top of those updates! Both Macs and Windows have updaters installed, it’s just a matter of accessing them.

On a Mac:

Apple Software Updates

Click on the apple in the top left corner of the screen and choose ‘Apple Software Update’ to fully update your computer.


On Windows 7 and Vista:

Windows Updates
Go to the start menu and click on all programs, then choose Windows update. Allow it to search for updates and then click on the install button.

On Windows XP
Simply go to update.microsoft.com and check for the latest important updates and install away.

I’m not going to lie: Sometimes downloading and installing updates can take a long time, especially if it is a service pack. For times like those, it is a good idea to start the update process just before you go to bed. That way when you wake up your computer will be all up to date and ready to go! Just make sure that you have the computer in a different room so that the light from the screen doesn’t keep you awake!

Both Macs and PCs also have an Automatic Updates feature, which will let your computer manage downloading and installing updates so you don’t have to spend your nights tossing and turning about your computer being up to date. It is a good idea to have this feature turn, insuring you don’t miss an important update! Here’s how:

For Macs
Go to system preferences and go to the software update pane. Be sure that check for updates automatically is checked, and feel free to change the settings however you want to better fit your needs.

For Windows 7 and Vista
Within the updates tool, there will be a link on the side to configure automatic updates, clicking on this will enable the user to configure options for automatic updates.  Click on change settings and choose your options to enable the automatic updates to your preference.

For Windows XP
Go to the control panel. Click on the system button and go to the automatic updates tab and click to turn on automatic updates.

If you have any questions or concerns about updating you computer, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you!

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Tech Tip Thursday – Safe Browsing

August 11th, 2011 · No Comments · Tech Tips

So is it just me or are internet pop-up ads the most annoying part of browsing the Web?  I’ll be reading up on my favorite celeb gossip, after an extensive Google search of course, and out of nowhere my screen will be taken over by mini-windows and some of the more irritating ads will actually play a sound bit.

I just want to see what's going on with Brangelina...Get out of my way pop-ups!!

Ugh, so irritating. As inconvenient as pop-ups are, where you aware that they could also be potentially dangerous! Oftentimes pop-ups that say things that seem important, or incredible, carry nasty viruses. Here are some examples of pop-ups that warrant your suspicion:

  • You are the 1,000,000th (or other number) Viewer, you win a prize!
  • Your computer may be infected! Run this free antivirus scan now!
  • Your Credit card has expired; enter in your information to renew it!
  • Your friend tagged you in this crazy picture! Click here to view it!
  • Would you like to make $100/hr working from home? Click here to find out how!

There are way too many examples to list, and I know that all of you out there have seen pop-ups like these. Basically, sites that you aren’t familiar with should be dealt with caution. When entering in personal information, be sure that you are on the website that you intended and that it is a trusted site to prevent any personal data loss or possible infecton. Remember: If it seems too good to be true that’s because it usually is!

If you feel that your computer may be infected with a virus, know that OSU offers free anti-virus software for both students and staff! If you are a current OSU student feel free to stop our Walk-up location on the main floor of the Valley Library and we can help you clean off the virus and get your computer up in running again! We also offer copies the OSU Computer Helpdesk’s “Rescue CD” at the OSUware Kiosk, located at the Walk-up, for those of you who want a DIY virus removal experience.


Tech Tip Thursday – Green Printing Ideas

August 4th, 2011 · No Comments · Tech Tips

Are you tired of having to pay for new ink cartridges? Did you know that a gallon of ink can cost $10,000 per gallon? Whoa, I know: insane, right?! Do you know how you can reduce your print waste? Well, let me share a few green tips:

  • Switching your font to Century Gothic can save up to 31% more ink than your average font.
  • Decreasing font size is a good place to start when you want to reduce the number of pages you use.
  • Try decreasing you margin space, especially on non-MLA or APA documents, to fit more text on the page.
  • Double side printing is always good idea when you want to cut down on the number of physical pages that you are printing.

Crazy, right? Small changes we can make to our printing habits can have a huge impact on the amount of resources we use.

Can you think of anything else you could do to reduce waste when you print? We love to hear your ideas!