Tip of the Month

Below, you'll find some of ITS's most recent Tips of the Month — our ongoing series of helpful pointers geared for faculty, staff, and students.

Email Filtering

Posted January 2020 (Link to Google Sheets presentation)

What is email filtering?

  • Filters catch specific emails and perform actions on them
  • Any valid inbox search can be a filter rule
  • Example rules:

Why filter my email?

  • Save time
  • Highlight what is important, hide what isn’t
  • Clear inbox, clear mind
  • Improve your filing system

Check your filter

  • Make one filter at a time
  • Test it
  • Watch it over time
  • Tweak as needed
  • Modify existing filters in your email settings


Previous Tips:

Google Calendar "working hours"

Posted September 2019:

Google Calendar recently turned on the “working hours” feature for everyone. Take a moment to review the working hours setting in your calendar and either disable it or manually set new hours. If you didn’t have specific working hours set in the past, Google tries to guess, and that guess might be wrong. Get directions online. Contact the Technology Help Desk if you have questions.

Workstation Locking

Posted October 2018:

ITS recommends you lock your workstation every time you leave your work area, even if only for a couple of minutes. Just turning off your monitor, when you leave your work area, is NOT secure. The short time it takes to lock your workstation is well worth it.

Locking your Windows workstation:

  • Windows logo key + L

Locking your MAC workstation:

  • Control + Shift + Eject/Power

For any questions, contact the Technology Help Desk at…
[email protected]
or 563-387-1000

Google's Team Drives

Posted September 2018:

Enabled earlier this year, Team Drives allow departments, rather than individuals, to collectively own content in Google Drive. This solves issues around file ownership when people join or leave a department. When someone new starts, just add them to the Team Drive. When someone leaves, remove them from the Team Drive. For more information, see the Google Team Drives webpage or contact the Technology Help Desk, <helpdesk>. 

Better, Easier Passwords

Posted April 2018: (Link to Google Slides presentation)

There seem to be impossible standards for good passwords:

  • Unique passwords for everything
  • Not too long, not too short
  • No repeats, no patterns
  • Never write it down
  • Change your passwords constantly
  • Gibberish=strength. No real words

Here's what we do instead and what's problematic about these methods:

  • Password123 — Hacked passwords: Greatest hits
  • 321drowssaP — Not that clever! Hard to type! Easy for a computer, hard for a human
  • JM1982Luther — Basic personal info is inherently weak
  • 1Pwrd4All! — Using the same password for everything means they're all hacked at once, and likely already have been
  • [email protected]#3 — The problem with patterns is that 1 character difference = no difference
  • Ipa2tf,otUSoA — Phrase-based acronyms (e.g. Pledge of Allegiance) are often strong, but hard to type and remember Did I punctuate? Substitute some characters?

There is a better way: Passphrases

  • In a nutshell a passphrase is just a bunch of random words
  • While one plain word is weak, many are strong
  • 5 word passphrases are stronger than 15 random character passwords

An easy method is to free-associate around small memories. For example:

  • For my friend Sarah's 30th birthday, we went to a carnival in Humboldt Park. She was scared of all the rides except for the swings.
  • My new passphrase might be: Sarah's30thHumboldtswings

Easy, right?

  • Passphrases are easy to remember, even pleasant
  • Passphrases are easy to type
  • Passphrases are strong
  • You never run out of small memories to document

There are just a few guidelines:

  • Randomness is essential. While not truly random, the small memory method is designed to make passphrases that are random to everyone but you. In other words, the small memory method is strong in relation to how trivial the memory is. No pets, no children, no favorite activities, etc.
  • The memory and the words in it shouldn't be anywhere on your social media. Nothing a Facebook-lurker would know about.

Adobe Acrobat

Posted March 2018:

Did you know…

  • You can edit PDFs
  • Convert PDFs to Word
  • Make submittable PDF forms
  • And more with Adobe Acrobat DC

And did you know…

  • You might already have Acrobat installed.
  • If not, the Technology Help desk can install it.
  • And that Acrobat will be installed on all future new or refreshed computers?

It’s true! Acrobat can make life a lot easier, especially if you have documents that are distributed outside the office. If you’d like Adobe Acrobat installed, contact the Technology Help Desk at… [email protected]
or 563-387-1000

Keep Your Luther Work and Personal Life Separate

Posted February 2018: (PDF Version)

  • Email
    • Luther accounts are for Luther-related work. If you don’t already have a personal email account, please create one.
  • Why Personal Email?
    • Want to keep your photos and messages?
      Personal email accounts remain in your life-after Luther; Luther accounts are deleted.
    • Purchasing online?
      Connect online accounts to your personal email, not your Luther email, for your sake and for Luther’s sake.
    • Distracted at work?
      With a separate account, check messages off-hours rather than losing your focus during the work day.
    • Need a personal email account?
      Visit mail.google.com and click “Create an Account” or contact the Technology Help Desk.
  • Computers
    • Luther computers are for Luther-related work.
  • Why Have a Computer at Home?
    • Want to keep your identity safe?
      Keep your tax, online banking, and other personal information on your home computer.
    • Want to keep Luther safe?
      Keep Luther data on Luther computers, servers, and systems.
    • Using home computers for Luther work?
      Ensure any files downloaded are deleted and that you log out of browsers when finished working.
    • Need a home computer?
      Visit the ITS Used Equipment Sale online or read about Employee Benefits when purchasing hardware (and software).

New from Multimedia

Posted November 2017:

360° Classroom Tour: Using a new classroom? 360° classroom views are now available along with classroom technology cheatsheets and videos on the Technology Help Desk Website. These resources can help you get a feel for a room you’ll be using or troubleshoot any problems.

Adobe Premiere Pro: The Digital Media Center has transitioned from using Final Cut Pro to Adobe Premiere Pro for all video editing usage in the lab. This was a notable upgrade for a number of different reasons.  Firstly, Adobe Premiere Pro is platform independent, meaning you can work on a video project interchangeably between Windows or Mac computers.  Additionally, Adobe Premiere Pro is a much more powerful program than Final Cut Pro in terms of editing capabilities, and is an industry standard in the field of video production.  Finally, in addition to Premiere Pro, all of the other Adobe Creative Cloud applications such as Adobe Photoshop (for photo editing) and Adobe Audition (for audio editing) are also available to use in the Digital Media Center lab.  If you are interested in learning more about using Adobe Premiere Pro, check out this introductory tutorial on using the program. Luther has a campus-wide license for Adobe Creative Cloud. If there are components of the suite you would like installed on your Luther-owned workstation, please contact the Technology Help Desk.

Video & Audio Assignments: More and more professors have begun integrating audio and video related assignments into their coursework by utilizing resources that the Digital Media Center provides to students, staff, and faculty.  For example, Environmental Science courses have begun producing podcasts as a senior seminar conservation project, as well as Spanish courses using the production studio and video cameras to produce video projects.  Workshops can be scheduled with the Multimedia team, where classes can come in and learn hands-on skills in creating multimedia-based projects.  If you’d like to learn more about how you can utilize audio and video resources that are available at the Digital Media Center for class projects, email us at [email protected].  

Which Wireless Should You Use?

Posted October 2017:

  • LCSecure offers strong encryption, as well as the speed, range, and signal clarity of LCWireless. If you have trouble after resetting your Norse Key, forget the network.
  • LCWireless is like LCSecure, but without the added encryption. Don’t worry too much: websites with the lock icon will handle security for you.
  • LCGuest requires periodic consent and prevents access to certain on-campus services like Colleague and printing. Employees should register their devices and forget this network.