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Online Documents

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As we become more comfortable with what it means to operate "in the cloud", the University of Minnesota has met the challenges of this idea with a number of solutions. These solutions are intended to, first and foremost, make available an environment where data security risks have been reasonably mitigated. This is either through a UMN-hosted solution or through legal contract.

Google Documents

Google Documents in your UMN Google Apps account allows for online storage of a large number of file formats. Also, one can create word processing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations that can be shared with others to be viewed and even edited by multiple people at once. It is compatible with Microsoft .doc, .docs, .xls, .xlsx, .ppt, and .pptx formats, as well as .jpg, .pdf, and numerous others.

UMN Netfiles
Netfiles is an online file storage location that allows storage and sharing of documents both internal and external to UMN. This solution operates very similar to a traditional file service. One issue is that editing through a web browser is not possible. Documents are downloaded, edited, and uploaded to Netfiles.

Google Documents - Mail Merge

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Want to use mail merge functionality with your UMN Google Apps account? It can be done with Google Docs.

Mail Merge with Google Docs

The links to obtain the mail merge template document are located in the instructions at the link above.

Google controls how their products appear on any device via web browser. The web pages have been programmed to recognize the type of device being used and to deliver a web page environment specifically tailored for that device, while the user changes nothing - navigating to the same URL whether on a desktop computer or mobile device.

One drawback of this is that features can be limited on mobile devices. One of those issues is a full tool set in Google Apps Documents. Most notably for this issue, the ability to upload/download documents via Google Apps Documents is missing.

To work on a document that has been stored in Google Docs, an easy work-around is to dowload the document to a desktop, attach it to an email and send it to one's self. Then access the email in your account via the desired iPad. The GPS Alliance iPads have an app called "DocsToGo". When clicking on your document(s) in your email attachments ara, it will appear to you in Safari (the native web browser on iPads). Also, in the upper-left, you will see the text "Download to DocsToGo". Click on that button and the document will open, but now on the iPad via DocsToGo. You can edit documents, save changes, and manage them in much the same way as if on a desktop or laptop.

CAUTION: When using of the GPS Alliance iPads, be sure you remove the document prior to returning the device, especially if the document(s) worked on contain private information.

Google - New Privacy Policy (February 2012)

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Google issued a new privacy policy to Google users in February 2012. There have been concerns about this in the public arena.

Question:How does this affect my UMN Google Apps account?
Answer: It does not change the privacy agreement entered into by the University and Minnesota and Google.

From UMN Google Support:
"Hi Christopher,
There is a difference between University of Minnesota Google Apps accounts and personal Google/ accounts. They are totally separate from each other, and fall under separate and different contractual agreements, as well as different terms of service. Institutions that use Google Apps for their email, calendar and the other core applications, have individual contracts with Google that define how data is handled and stored.
The University of Minnesota has a separate contract with Google, and Google remains in compliance with the confidentiality and security obligations provided to our domains under this contract. The new privacy policy does not change this contractual agreement between Google and the University, University's core suite of applications, including Gmail (email), Google Docs (word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations), Google Calendar, Google Talk (instant messaging), and Google Sites, are not affected by this new privacy policy."

Why Google At The University of Minnesota

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Along with many other non-profit institutions around the globe, the University of Minnesota has moved to Google Apps as their official enterprise, common good solution for email, calendaring and collaboration.

You can find an explanation for this move, plus other questions and answers at the Office of Information Technology's article Questions and Answers.

Suggested Web Browser Use

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With the implementation of Google Apps, and the inability to manage multiple Google accounts in the same browser, GPS Alliance IT policy became to install multiple browsers for staff to use to meet their needs.

Below are the browsers that are installed and their suggested use:

OS X -

  • Chrome - Your personal UMN Google Apps account and general web browsing

  • Safari - Secondary email accounts

  • Firefox - Central UMN web-based applications, such as PeopleSoft and ImageNow.

Windows -

  • Chrome - Your personal UMN Google Apps account and general web browsing

  • Firefox - Secondary email accounts and all other central UMN web-based applications, such as PeopleSoft.

  • Internet Explorer - Central web-based applications that require its use (ImageNow, etc.)

FYI - The Office of Information Technology continually suggests using Firefox over Internet Explorer wherever possible due to security issues inherent in Internet Explorer.

Google Calendar - Labs

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Recently, the UofM Google administrators made available some features in Google Calendar. These features are created in what Google calls "Labs". The features are currently limited to 14 tools.

Some features that may be of interest are:

  • Gentle Reminders - this meets the need of having an audible reminder for meetings.

  • Event Attachements - adding documents to meetings/events on your calendar

  • Smart Rescheduler - Brings back the feature in UMCal of having the calendar system check all invitees' schedules and list open times.

  • Next Meeting - displays one's next meeting in large text with an indicator of how long until it will begin.

"How do I access these features?", you may ask. These features are listed and can be enabled and disabled by navigating to your Google Calendar, selecting the Gear symbol in the upper right corner of the window and choosing "Labs".

Then just read each description and choose 'Enable' for the feature you would like to add to your calendar.

It is helpful for staff to know the names of the calendar to which they have access, where they are located, and other specifics based on the type of resource. Here is how that information can be found:

In your UMN Google Calendar, choose the gear symbol from the upper right of your browser window.

Choose "Calendar Settings" from the list that results

Choose the "Calendars" tab

See the names of all of the calendars. Specific information is available under the calendar name.

Clicking on the name will result in a detail window for that calendar.

Google Calendar - Allowing Invitation Notifications

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Accounts are not automatically set to allow invitations sent via Google Calendar when someone is creating a meeting and inviting guests. Because this is the best way currently to know a meeting has been put on one's calendar, all GPS Alliance staff should configure their Google Calendar settings to allow incoming calendar invitations.

First, open your calendar and choose "Calendar Settings" in the upper right corner of your calendar interface under "Settings".

Next, click into the "Calendars" tab and choose the main calendar for your account. This will be your x.500 (or whatever you renamed it to be), but should be the main personal calendar associated with the account into which your are logged.

Finally, choose the "Notifications" tab and use the check boxes in the lower right to set the notifications you will receive. All four options should be checked.

GMail - Adding Attachments

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There are two ways to add attachments to an email message: The "Add Attachment Tool" and "DragNDrop".

Add Attachment Tool

Navigate via the "Add Attachment" tool.



Multiple attachments can be chosen by depressing the 'Shift' key and choosing items that are next to each other in a group or 'Command' key (Mac) or 'Control' key (Windows) and selecting multiple items that are not next to each other (shown below) you would like to attach.




A more direct option is to drag any desired attachments to the attachment area.


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