Several folks asked me how to go about making sure you are you, and not your license plate. I’m going to give some detailed instructions here to help. This assumes you are using the Web-based version of Wayne Connect, through Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome or Safari. If you use Outlook, Mac Mail or Thunderbird you’ll need to use a slightly different procedure.
First, make sure that your normal return address is your real name. You do this by going to ‘Preferences’ on the top menu and selecting ‘Accounts’.
On the right you will see Primary Account Settings.
Put your preference for how your name will be displayed in the two left-hand boxes and click Save (at the top of the screen). Now what you have chosen as your name will always show up as the sender, whether you use your license plate or not.
If you need to keep a license plate return address (say because you are subscribed to a listserv with that address) you need to establish a Persona. This is essentially an alias that you can choose before you send a message.
To do this, click the ‘Add Persona’ button, and you will see this:
Choose the address you need to establish (normally your license place) from the drop-down menu on the right. Click the appropriate boxes (When replying to…), give it a name, and click Save.
Then, whenever you send a message (and particularly when you are writing to a listserv which uses your license plate ID) you will see a little drop-down box in the ‘From’ area.
Now, every time you send an email you have the choice of which return address to use.
One more thing. Just today I got a message with lots of unidentified license plates. In fact, there were probably fifty out of maybe a hundred addresses in all. Mine was one of them–I have no idea why (this was neither a ‘reply’ nor any other automatic isertion of addresses). That’s what I’m talking about….
when you could be yourself?
Many of my colleagues (42% of faculty, 45% of staff) have set their ‘Preferred Email Address’ to be their AccessID. While the XY1234 format may be familiar to you, it’s not to those you email, and it brings mystery and adventure to the act of replying to messages. Especially when your correspondent does ‘reply all’. Either they are careful and spend time looking up each AccessID or they are careless and include someone they shouldn’t, leading to possible reprisals, embarrassment, or just plain annoyance. So this is an encouragement to switch your preferred email address to either your own chosen address (mine, for example, is email@example.com) or the automatically-generated first.lastname format (mine is firstname.lastname@example.org)
The only extra work involved would be cases where you are subscribed to a listserv–you need either to add your other address as a subscriber (you can set one of them to NOMAIL) or you can set up Wayne Connect to have two personas, so that it keeps track of both addresses for you and it’s easy to switch back and forth between them. Instructions are here.
For those of us who keep up with privacy issues in education, here’s an interesting story in the Times. There’s an app that keeps track of students’ reading habits with certain electronic textbooks, and sends a report to the faculty member. It pays attention to whether they have taken notes (within the app, of course, not on paper) and how long the text was open (in the electronic reader).
This has raised some questions about privacy, and some folks have been invoking Big Brother (who, as you may recall, paid attention to whether you were doing your physical exercises vigorously enough).
The company who puts this app out claims that nobody has complained about the privacy issues involved. And then, there are the validity questions (like what about the folks who take notes on paper, or in their word processor).
Here’s the article (usual warning about external links, especially the Times…)
Further to discussions I have hosted about getting and playing copyrighted music, here’s an interesting discussion on a libertarian blog that I frequently read:
You probably noticed the cheerful note C&IT sent yesterday warning you about illegal filesharing. As you probably know, the RIAA and MPAA are attempting to combat the sharing of their copyrighted files through underground distribution systems such as BitTorrent. They do this by posing as downloaders and trolling for their copyrighted files, then sending an email to the owner of the network that is being used. For many years they have sent emails to Wayne State saying they have found illegal files on some IP address. C&IT is required by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to find out who was using that IP address and send a ‘take-down’ notice to that person, ordering them to remove the offending files, and we have a fine, automated process to do just that. As we mentioned in the message, there may also be sanctions, such as fines if the address resolves to someone in the Residence Halls, and students are subject to the Student Conduct Code.
Okay, you’ve heard all of this before. What you may not have heard is that RIAA and MPAA are now going after the other internet service providers, beyond universities. They have made agreements with Comcast, AT&T and so on to do the same thing to users of those services (which includes pretty much everybody reading this). So, if you are sharing files illegally, they may go after you. There is a ‘six strikes and you’re out’ rule (i.e. they will warn you six times before they start limiting your download speed). You can read the details here:
A word to the wise.
There was an uproar among the university IT security professionals around the world yesterday. Oxford University (yes, that Oxford) blocked access to Google Docs from its campus on Monday.
In case you haven’t heard of it, Google Docs is a very powerful online collaboration tool. You can treat it like an online word processor or spreadsheet, which you can then access from anywhere you can log in to Google (i.e. from any computer anywhere in the world, or from a tablet or smartphone).
But you can also use it to collect data from the web. You can set up a Google Docs form, which you can then publish, and people can visit it and fill out the form, and you’ll get a spreadsheet with all their data. So, for example, you could do an online course evaluation–set up some questions, give your students the URL (web address) and they can fill it out. It does not record who fills it out (assuming you’ve set it up that way), so responses are anonymous. Last semester I set up an informal mid-semester course evaluation because I was teaching a new course in a subject that was new to me (Computers and Linguistics), and the feedback was very valuable. Many faculty around the world are using it for that, and for many other purposes.
However, phishers around the world are using it for something else–they make it look like a log-in screen from the university’s Help Desk, and ask people to enter their AccessID and password. This gives them a nice database of university credentials, which can then be used to take over (in webspeak pwn) many university-based machines. They can then be used to run spam campaigns
Wayne State received such an attack a couple of weeks ago, and we advised anyone who asked us to tell Google about it. They will respond by taking the form down (there is a ‘report abuse’ button on every form)
So what happened at Oxford? The IT security folks there thought it was taking Google too long to react to complaints (a day is way too long–you could collect hundreds of sets of credentials by then), so they thought they’d teach the Oxford community a lesson by temporarily blocking all access to Google Docs. You can read their (very long, but entertaining message here). As you might expect, this caused considerable consternation on the Oxford campus, and around the world. I subscribe to a security listserv and there was a flurry of posts either approving or not about Oxford IT’s decision. It later got picked up in other university news sources, such as Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Take-away: phishing is getting more sophisticated. NEVER put your credentials into a link provided in an email, not even ‘from’ C&IT.
It’s apparently rather difficult, but if your phone is stolen it’s doable, so the takehome is: don’t lose your phone.
[added later in the day: this made it to the front page of CNN ]