August 16, 2007

Shutting off extra voicemail options...

Back when I went to school, it was -50 degrees, we only got underwear for Christmas, and we had no-frills voicemail. Voicemail that got the job done! Voicemail that didn't ask you if you wanted to leave a message (yes please) or a fax (no) or a fax with voice annotation* (NO!). There were two options: a) leave a message or b) don't.

The latest version of University voicemail isn't voicemail at all... It's a Unified Messaging System! What does that mean? It means that, among other features, you can call your voicemail and have a digitized voice read you your emails. Which is so handy. And time efficient, too!
Mine would sound something like this:

digitized voice: "is your p*n*s too small?"
me: delete
digitized voice: "want any v1agr@?"
me: delete!
digitized voice: "hot sorority girls?"
me: delete!
digitized voice: "web page meeting: be there or you're fired"
me: delete
me: wait--undelete! undelete!!

Anyway, my tip for this messaging system is that it would be better if we all shut off the extra options after our greeting. Because, if your callers are like me, they have forgotten who they are calling by the time they get to leave a message.

  1. Login to GopherMessaging here: Your username: (where 51234 is your campus phone number) Your password: 51234! (where 51234 is your number) (this is the default, so will be different if you've used this before and changed it)
  2. click on "Options" on the left
  3. click on "Voice Mail" under Message Management
  4. Click on "Messages"
  5. uncheck the box beside "Play other system options after playing your greeting to the callers." Press Update button. This is also where you can select to play a timestamp before every message.

If you make that change to your settings, you've done your callers a good deed. If you figure out how to do it over the phone pad, let me know. I couldn't figure that out. Feel free to send me a voice annotated fax with the info.

*I picture "HERE IS THAT FAX I SAID I WOULD SEND YOU!" booming out over a loudspeaker on the fax machine. Again, very handy.

March 26, 2007

Library Tutorial

There is a new video tutorial available on how to use the University Libraries from a remote location. It is created by yours truly, so you can adjust your expectations accordingly. It is about 9 minutes long and shows how you can find and read many journal articles online. Although many of you certainly already know how to do this, some of us went to school back in the card catalog days* (myself included!) so could use a refresher. According to their website, use of online tools increased 800 percent between 1995 and 2004. The library is definitely functioning differently than when most of us first learned to use it.

The tutorial is made in a program that we just bought here, Camtasia. If any of you have any use for this type of screen capturing software, I recommend it and would be happy to chat with you about it. I am planning on doing several video tutorials (or toots, as I like to call them) in the future, including a series on My Programs. If you have any ideas for a new toot, please pass them along!

*Do you wonder what happened to all those acres of wooden card catalogs? They sold them. My brother bought one for $40 and uses it to store his Grateful Dead bootleg tapes in a very non-hippie-like strictly organized and catalogued fashion. The U sells all kinds of cool stuff at their annual Reuse Auction. I, personally, have always wanted a library style newspaper rack in excellent condition. But I'm (as you're catching on) funny about libraries and their accoutrements. But maybe what you're looking for is more along the lines of your own personal parking booth?

December 21, 2006

Online Registration

I once asked program teams in AFE for items that would make their job easier. My favorite comment was, "I would like, sometime before I die, to be able to use online registration." And believe me, it was a close dead-line (badump bump) because it has taken us in Extension a very long time to wade into e-registration waters. Today we're going to talk about what's currently available, how much is it, and how you can use it for your program.
There are currently two options for most people in Extension for registration.

Option 1: You can use trusty old College of Continuing Education (CCE) online registration. This option has been around for a long time and is a tried and true system. The drawback? Most of you know this option as the "expensive" option. The last time I checked, which was about ten months ago, the cheapitty cheap cheap cheap option was $15 per registration. However, if your participant fees are $80 or more, I'd say that's not too bad for a reliable online registration system. Many AFE programs use this system. Contact CCE for more information.

Option 2: The new option for Extension is the Count Me In registration system. This option is priced lower and has had good feedback from the pilot users. The current cost is $3.50 per participant plus a credit card fee of 1.99% of the course fee plus $0.40 per credit card transaction. A drawback of this system is there is no person behind it to answer phone or mail registrations. Several AFE programs use this system. Contact Neil Anderson in the Extension Store for more information.

If any of you use any of these systems, I'd love to know your experiences. Happy registering!

November 15, 2006

Too many calendars!

I've heard from many AFEers that they're confused about which calendars their events should go on. And who can blame them? We have too many calendars!
We have the AFE calendar, your UMCal calendar, My Programs scheduled events, individual web site calendars, your shared Google calendar to check to see if your husband is playing Dungeons and Dragons in the basement tonight and you should pick up the tot from daycare. Well, you may or may not have that last one.
So how to make sure your events show up on all the appropriate non-Dungeons and Dragons calendars? Read on.

My Programs
Purpose: Extension-wide event scheduling and reporting.
How: Responsibility is with individual or team that is doing the programming.
The My Programs system has been rebuilt, although you can't tell to look at it. But you can tell to use it. No crashing! No errors! No foul smelling odors!
My Programs is good at showing your events on the Extension website and making sure they get their due in administrative circles. There are other good reasons to be using My Programs, but that is another blog entry for another day.
What My Programs is NOT good at is displaying programs in a calendar format, which is often handy for program planning.

AFE Calendar
Purpose: Event awareness among staff and in some cases, clientele.
How: Send event info to Laurie Walker.
The AFE Calendar is laid out in a traditional calendar grid, and that makes it easy to answer the question, "What's coming up in the next few days?" It is not good at looking at what programming have we been doing in a certain topic over that last year or so--that's what My Programs is for. The two calendars aren't currently talking to each other (they are in couple therapy).
The AFE Calendar is public in a few places (more on that in a minute).

Program Website Calendars
Example: MN Crop eNews
Purpose: Show upcoming events to clientele.
How: Pulled from AFE Calendar (see above.)
If the calendar on a program website looks like the AFE Calendar format, it is pulled from the AFE Calendar database. So if you get your event info to Laurie, you are actually getting your event on these calendars too.

Purpose: Individual meeting scheduling calendar that is in a semi-shared format.
How: You enter your meetings.
UMCal isn't really related to the above event calendars, but it tends to get lumped into Calendar Confusion. UMCal is for your personal meeting scheduling, either you can schedule a meeeting, or someone else on UMCal can see when you're not busy and invite you to a meeting, which you can then accept or decline.
Except in rare cases, UMCal is not useful from a program event perspective.

IN SUMMARY (stick with me here), there are two calendars that you should be getting your events into. AFE Calendar (email info to Laurie Walker) and My Programs (team responsibility).

In the near future, we hope to have My Programs feed all of our calendars. FEED me, Seymour! But until that happens, we have the solution of two calendars.

Don't panic if you don't remember how to use the My Programs system--there will be some refresher training on it soon and I'll be demonstrating it at some staff meetings coming up.

As always, let me know if I can answer any questions.

September 14, 2006

Email Accounts revealed

I don't have too much insight on the inner workings of everybody's email programs. But I do know a couple tricks that come in handy once in a while.
Like say you keep getting a message warning you that your account is going to get auto archived. What did you do to deserve that little piece of bully email? Well you either haven't deleted anything from your inbox in a while, or some helpful person sent you a giant file attachment. I have decided to try to avoid auto archiving. I don't have a good reason for doing this, I am just not sure what it would be like to be auto archived and so would like it to not happen. Also, from what I hear, it is inconvenient. The trick is keeping your inbox (just your inbox, not all your folders) below 20M. How do you know how many MB your inbox is? You can go to the U's helpful email account web page: Login and go to Show Current E-mail Storage Use. Here is what mine looks like:


Oops! I am over my 20MB limit. Why haven't I been auto-archived? Because they give you a warning and a little time to clean up your act beforehand. What can I do? Well delete or move some of my giant file attachments out of my inbox is the best way. As you can see above, I am only using 9.7% of my folder space. So I'll just cram everything into folders and forget about it. Perfect! Also I see that I have a personal web page taking up 24% of my web allocation. Huh. Didn't know I had that.
At this same address,, you can also go to Set E-mail Forwarding and Autoreply. This is useful for all you jetsetting types who need to leave responses on your email to say what exciting destination you are at now and how you won't be replying to anyone until you are darn tootin ready. The forwarding is useful if you happen to have another email address you'd rather use, like for example a county address.
So that's all I've got on useful email account workings. Good luck!

August 30, 2006

Older, Wiser, Still Chatty

Those of you out there with adolescent kids are probably more than familiar with the concept of IM. Instant Messaging, or chatting, is the most popular form of communication for kids right behind the telephone.

So, thankfully, none of us are pimply and striving to be cool anymore. (Well, at least I try not to be most of the time.) But instant messaging may still have a place in our lives. You can get a free account from the U of M to try it out:

After you have your account, you need a desktop client that will be your window for chatting. I used Exodus (for windows), but there are several listed on the U of M chat home page above.

So you have your account and you've setup your chat client. Now you need someone to chat with!! The main attraction of chatting over emailing is the opportunity to very briefly chat with someone in real time. You could quick send someone an IM asking when a good time to call is, or if they could send you the new version of that document, or if they've got someone on the phone looking for some info. For AFE, I think it could be most useful as an internal communication tool. You can set up a chat room to brainstorm programming ideas, or just to drop quick notes as if you were in the same office and could walk next door. Or, if you're like me, you are in the same office but don't feel like walking next door.


If you would like to chat with me, my address is For U people, their chat address will always be their x.500 username.

Go ahead and experiment! Maybe it is something your team could use to better communicate across the miles.

For more general chat info:

July 27, 2006

Adobe Racks up some Points

I just attended a two-hour Adobe Acrobat seminar, and although I didn’t win the free copy of Adobe Premier (my secret reason for going), I did manage to learn two awesome new things about Acrobat. And get a cookie. My other (not-so-)secret reason for going.

First, I finally understand the digital signature thing. You can send forms to someone and they can sign it and send it back and you don't need the Adobe Forms Server or whatever you used to need. You need to create your own digital signature, where you're basically swearing you're who you say you are. The instructor guy said that this was like printing your own credit cards and you should buy one from verisign for $19.95. I, however, don't think we have a big problem with forged identitites in the organization. We could just use a more convenient way to sign stuff. So I say create your own digital ID. You can do it under Advanced>Security Settings in Acrobat. Then, all you do is click the sign button on a document and it'll have your signature. You can even scan in your real john hancock (or a photo, gosh forbid) and Acrobat will use the gif. How cool is that?

The other thing I learned is of mixed usefulness. If you go to File>Document Settings>Security. Then select "password security." From there you can pick different things you want password protected. The niftiest part of this would be to NOT password protect viewing the document, but DO password protect printing the document. Hey, I told you it was of mixed usefulness. Some people want to put stuff online as a preview but want you to buy the print out. You can also set it up so you need a password to edit the document, which incidentally, is what all you profs should do to your online syllabae.

That's all for bloggy deliciousness today.