Thursday, November 21, 2013

Progress Toward One Password

How many usernames and passwords do you have to remember? If you’re like me, you have dozens of online accounts (probably more), and each requires a unique username and password.

Until recently, you also had a different username and password for almost every application you used at BVSD. But now, due to some key changes, that situation is reversing: you are able to use the same information to sign in to multiple BVSD applications.

So what has changed to make this possible?

Password Manager

You should all be familiar with Password Manager by now. This tool changes your password in two places—BVSD’s database (called Active Directory) and Google—which means that you use the same password to sign in to your computer, email, calendar, docs, etc. But you may not know that you can use this same password to sign in to other key BVSD applications:
  • Avatar
  • Infinite Campus
  • Insignia (Library software)
  • Lawson
  • MediaCAST

Windows — Ctrl-Alt-Delete

We recently introduced the ability to change your password in both Google and Active Directory by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Delete and then following the change password option. You must be on a Windows PC for this option to work.

Google Authentication

Many online applications use Google authentication, which is a process that signs you in using your Google account instead of requiring you to create a new username and password. If you come across an app with the option to “Sign in with Google”, do it! We are working with our vendors to enable Google Authentication whenever possible.

App Launcher

The App Launcher appears at the top right corner of the browser when you are in your email or calendar. Any apps that you find in the App Launcher will automatically log you in when you click them. Click on “More” in the App Launcher to see apps like BrainPOP and VoiceThread.

With a move toward one password I’m hopeful your technology world will get easier to navigate.   

Please chime in with your comments below.


Fax Machines - A Relic of the 1980s?

80s nostalgia is all the rage these days in fashion, music, and pop culture. How many of us, when we saw kids starting to wear neon sunglasses and ripped jeans, rolled our eyes and groaned, “Oh no, that’s coming back? I wore that the first time around!”

But how many of those leg-warmer-wearing young people are toting around Sony Walkmans or watching their favorite flicks on VHS? Not many. Technology is usually exempt from the nostalgia cycle once it is replaced by something newer and more efficient. But one relic from the 1980s—the fax machine—didn’t get the memo, “maybe because,” says Dan Tynan on the NBC Tech and Gadgets blog, “someone wrote it on a typewriter and faxed it.” Ouch.

I realize that it can be hard to give up a technology that you are comfortable using, and to be fair, the fax machine was a great technology for its time. But it has been replaced by technologies that are faster, higher quality, and just plain easier. 

Here are a few options.

Scan to email
Most of the new Ricoh multi-function devices have a feature that scans a document, creates a PDF, then emails it to you. This is a great feature if you need to sign a paper document and send it to someone; unlike a fax, the document isn't distorted, cut off, or faded. Think you need to fax important paperwork such as refinance documents? Think again—most mortgage lenders now accept (and prefer!) PDFs.

Save as PDF
Many programs, including MS Word, give you the option to save a document as a PDF. This is an entirely paperless workflow, perfect for documents that don’t need a signature.

Web forms
If you require people to print, fill out, and fax paper forms to you, consider switching to web forms. Both SharePoint and Google have web forms that you can add to your website or send via email as a survey. And because the form data is collected automatically in a spreadsheet, you spend less time hand-entering data. If you're interested in creating web forms, consider attending a SharePoint or Google Open Lab (check Avatar for upcoming dates).

With better, more reliable alternatives available, I’m confident that we’ll start moving away from faxing.

Have you moved away from faxing? What worked best for you? Please chime in with your comments below.