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Nov 19 / Geoffrey Nathan

Some small news on the copyright front

As many have found out, posting a video on YouTube can be perilous if it contains material that you do not own copyright to. Currently Google (Youtube’s owners) will remove videos if they receive what is known as a ‘takedown notice’ from the entity claiming to be the copyright owner. In a case I blogged about several years ago, a video that NASA uploaded was automatically taken down because a news website had pointed to it.

Now Google has decided to provide some defense for those who are engaging in ‘fair use’ of copyrighted material. Fair use permits material to be posted if it is parodied, transformed or used for educational purposes (the exact details are rather more complicated and can be found on a WSU library website).

Google has announced it will legally intervene on behalf of these users, keep the videos up online, and even cover the costs of defending against copyright claims. You can read the juicy (and somewhat political) details in this article.

It will be interesting to see whether Google takes any flak on this.

Nov 11 / Geoffrey Nathan

More Search Tricks in Wayne Connect 365

Last week I provided some tricks for searching through email messages in the new Wayne Connect Powered by Microsoft. Following a question by one of my colleagues, here are some additional keywords and other pieces of search syntax you might find useful.

Binary Operators

You can use AND, OR, and NOT to join search terms. AND means that both items must be present, OR means, of course, either item. NOT excludes the term that follows. Note that these words must be in ALL CAPS. So all of these are legal searches:

elephant AND castle finds messages that contain both ‘elephant’ and ‘castle’.
Jones OR Smith finds any message that has either of those terms.
rutabagas NOT turnip finds all messages that have ‘rutabagas’, but do not also have ‘turnip’

Date Restrictions

It is possible to specify date ranges within searches. You use the operators :< to mean ‘before’, and :> to mean ‘after’. So to find messages between January 1 and March 1 you could write

received:> 1/1/2015 AND received :< 3/1/2015

You can also restrict your search to a particular mailbox by highlighting that mailbox after you search.

Using the minus sign

Finally, for at least some of the keywords, you can place a minus sign – immediately before it, and it will exclude whatever follows the minus. Thus

from:Jones -attachment

will find all messages from Jones that do not have an attachment


from:Jones -to:Smith

will find all messages from Jones that are not also to Smith.

More complex searching

My colleague also asked about selecting multiple hits in a search result. Unfortunately this is not quite so easy. Theoretically you can click, then shift-click at the end of a long list, but that seems not to work reliably. The only easy way to select a large number of email messages (in order to drag them to a different mailbox, for example) is not to use the web-based client, but instead to use the Outlook desktop app, which has a very powerful, and very quick search engine.

Nov 3 / Geoffrey Nathan

How to find stuff in Your Office365 Email

Lately I’ve heard folks complain that it’s hard to find back emails in the web interface version of our new email system, because only a few messages are displayed at a time. If this is a problem for you, you can do two things.

1. You can change the display so that the message list is on the left and the message you are looking at is on the right. This looks like this:

Box on right

Do this by going to the gear (top right) and choosing Display Settings, then Show reading pane on right.

2. There is a powerful search engine that allows complex queries. You can just type a name into the box (upper left, labeled ‘Search Mail and People’). That will find all email from and to that person and all messages that mention them.
But you can also type From:Snerdwell and it will only display messages with that name in the ‘From’ field. Similarly for To: and Subject:, although the latter is a little more subtle. If you want subjects that are more than one word long, enclose the words in double quotes: Subject:”Elephants castles” The important point is that you can concatenate (i.e. string together) successive search items. So to find all messages from Snerdwell that contain the word ‘rhinoceros’ you can type From:Snerdwell rhinoceros To find messages with attachments, type hasattachment:yes. If you know the name of the attachment, you can type attachments:presentation.pptx

There are far more subtleties, and you can read about them on the C&IT Knowledgebase.

Sep 16 / Geoffrey Nathan

The Ashley-Madison Breach is a shot across the bows

Bruce Schneier, one of my heroes (he invented the term ‘security theater’ to describe the TSA) has a sobering article in the current Atlantic. Even if your email wasn’t in Ashley Madison’s database, you’ve got lots to worry about. Food for thought…

Sep 9 / Geoffrey Nathan

Quick Guide to the New Email System, and Some Mysteries Solved

If you are completely bewildered by the new email system, there’s a quick start guide located here.

In the next few days I’ll be adding information on how to conduct searches within  your email and calendars, and about keyboard shortcuts for those who prefer them to mousing and clicking. Here’s a preview: while in an email message, typing ‘F’ (i.e. Shift+f) will open a Forwarding window, while ‘r’ will Reply. Shift-R will Reply to all.

I’ve received several questions about what appear to be missing email messages. There are two reasons why messages might not appear in your inbox:

You have ‘Conversations’ enabled. If that is the case, and there have been several messages in a Conversation, only the latest one may be visible. ‘Conversations’ are like threaded discussions on blogs or listservs. All email with the same subject line is grouped together, and as each one comes in, you see the latest one on top. Some folks like this, and others find it extremely annoying. You can turn it off by pulling down the Sort drop-down menu (discussed earlier), and scrolling to the bottom of the list, where you can select ‘Off’ for Conversations.

The other one is more mysterious. The latest Outlook (which is what Wayne Connect actually is) has an automatic sorting algorithm called ‘Clutter’. If you have it turned on, it will decide what of your email is routine, non-personal, as opposed to important messages you might really want to read. Again, some folks might find this helpful, while others might find it outrageous. For those who use Gmail it should be familiar–Gmail does a 3-way sort of a similar kind. In any case, it can be turned off. Choose Gear Icon > Options > Mail > Clutter and you can opt out. It is possible, incidentally, that this feature will be turned off centrally in the next couple of days, and you won’t need to worry about it.

Finally, a quirk about Word for those who use Track Changes to markup papers. If you attach a Word file in an email, you cannot see the markup (the ‘tracked changes’) if you use the online version of Word that appears within your email. You must download the Word file and open it with desktop Word in order to do cooperative editing.

There are still six upcoming training sessions for Academica and the new Wayne Connect – find out all the information here. Don’t forget that you can always call the C&IT Help Desk with any questions you might have. Keep an eye out on this blog for more tips and tricks in the coming days.

Sep 2 / Geoffrey Nathan

Has Academica left you apoplectic? Does Wayne Connect leave you feeling disconnected?

New systems come with new puzzles, and our two new connection apps certainly have had that effect. C&IT is offering free training/help over the next few days. All sessions will be held in the Purdy/Kresge Auditorium (use the entrance nearest the Student Center).

The sessions will cover topics from setting up your inbox and syncing Wayne Connect to your mobile device to using streams and getting the most out of our new portal.

Here are the available sessions:

Wednesday, 9/2: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.                             Thursday, 9/10: 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Wednesday, 9/2: 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.                            Monday, 9/14: 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Thursday, 9/3: 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.                                   Monday, 9/14: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Friday, 9/4: 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.                                     Friday, 9/18: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Thursday, 9/10: 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.                                 Friday, 9/18: 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

You can RSVP for these sessions by logging into Academica and clicking on this link:

Remember you can always call the Help Desk at (313) 577-HELP or emailing

Aug 25 / Geoffrey Nathan

Cool Tools for Blackboard

For faculty who use Blackboard there is a whole set of resources to help you make the most of this powerful teaching tool. The Faculty Resource Tab:

Blackboard Faculty Tab Location



Check out the Quick Start Guides on that page, which has one-page guides on the crucial stuff:

  • Work with Respondus Test Building software
  • Request a Combined Course
  • How to copy course materials from one course to another
  • Use Blackboard Collaborate
  • Request a Blackboard Organization
  • Request Echo Personal Capture
  • Respondus LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor
  • Where to go for help (who to contact)

On the Blackboard Videos tab there are tons of videos that will guide you through how to do things like:

  • How to View the Course Roster
  • How to Apply a Course Theme
  • How to Create the Course Tracking Reports
  • Create a Grade Center Column
  • Delete a Grade Center Column
  • Create Grade Center Color Codes
  • Create New Categories

Remember, if you ever need personal assistance, please contact the Blackboard Support team at

Aug 20 / Geoffrey Nathan

Some additional notes about Outlook 365

By the time you read this, many of us will have been switched over to the new Microsoft-based email system. And, of course, with any new system, there are both things to learn, new features that are cool, old features whose absence is annoying, and the occasional bug. Here are a few things to be aware of.

The interface (how the program looks) is somewhat configurable. You can choose to have a reading pane on the right, below your list of messages, or not at all. You control this through the pull-down marked by a little gear symbol on the upper right.


If you click that you can choose ‘Display Settings’. You get two sets of options—where the reading pane appears, and whether the system opens the next message or the previous one if you delete a message.

You can also control a lot more things by choosing ‘Options’ under the same menu. There you can choose a number of items associated with Mail, including automatic replies, what happens when you mark something as ‘read’, and so on. Ignore the button marked ‘Retention policies’—it doesn’t do anything.


Under ‘Layout’ you can choose whether to see ‘Conversations’ (all messages with a common subject line together) or not (all messages solely in chronological order). You can also set up your email signature. If you don’t remember yours, just open an old ‘Sent’ message and copy it, then paste it into the relevant window in the ‘Layout’ area.

I’ll have a few more items in my next posting.

Aug 10 / Geoffrey Nathan

Thoughts and tips on using Academica

Academica has been the University’s official portal for a few days now, and the Feedback section has been filling up with likes, dislikes and assorted comments. I’ve combed through the comments so far and have a few thoughts I’d like to share.


First, there is the notion of a ‘portal’. In contemporary computing terms, a ‘portal’ is a webpage that leads you to facilities that permit you to do stuff. It’s different from an organization’s ‘website’, which is a webpage that allows you to find out stuff. So a portal should be interactive, while a website should be like a reference work (an almanac or a phone book, or even an encyclopedia).


So, most of the links that appear in Academica are either interactive (‘see my paystub’, ‘check my grades’, ‘search for a journal article in the Library’) or lead to interactive links (‘Benefits and Deductions’).

Of course, some lead to other portals, such as the link to the IRB in the Office of Research, and a few are there even though they are static, simply because of popular demand (‘Campus Map’, ‘Research Compliance’), but the principle distinction was between ‘doing things’ and ‘finding out stuff’.

Finding stuff

If you want to use Academica as your portal for everything, you can use the search box at the top and select (with the drop-down arrow) to search the WSU Website, where you can find anything that is searchable (parking structure maps, English major requirements, General Counsel’s office) on the domain.


A number of folks commented on the visual appearance (some in less than complementary terms), and seemed to think Pipeline was more visually appealing—an opinion I’d challenge, myself. However, the main reason Academica looks the way it does it that it was designed from the ground up to be easy to use on any device, and particularly to be easy to use with smaller devices, like phones and tablets. It actually detects the size of your display and customizes itself automatically. The reason for this is that increasing numbers of us use mobile devices as our primary means to access the electronic world. A recent study showed that ninety percent of Wayne State students bring smartphones to their classes, and now they can use their phones to check the status of their bursar’s account, or their final grades, and employees can check their paystubs (I just checked mine with my iPhone 5s in three ‘clicks’).

Why did we do this?

Pipeline is at the end of its development cycle–the company that made it is no longer supporting it. That makes it like a car whose spare parts are unavailable. It could keep running, but if it broke suddenly it can’t be repaired. C&IT decided it was better to replace it before that happened, and our local app-programming gurus built something for the twenty-first century. In addition to being usable on all devices it is very adaptable. It will not break a sweat if twenty thousand students check their grades all at once. Those who used Pipeline over the years know that it tended to roll over if demand got heavy. Academica is pretty resilient and should not do that.

Jul 8 / Geoffrey Nathan

Academica is here

As of July 31, Pipeline is being switched off, and will be replaced by Academica. Everything you used to use Pipeline for can be done through Academica, but faster (i.e. with fewer clicks). You can get to:

  • time sheets
  • registration
  • TravelWayne
  • pay stubs
  • class schedules
  • reporting
  • SET Scores

Academica learns your preferences. While the initial display is generic, after you have clicked on particular links a couple of times they will always appear on the ‘front page’. But if you don’t see something, you can always use the search box, a very powerful search engine that can find any link you might need (Search box is circled in red):

Academica search box

Academica also permits messaging within the Wayne State community. Like Twitter it permits #hashtags and @ mentions (ask someone younger than you if you don’t know what those are :-) ). Academica is also designed to work perfectly on mobile devices of any size screen.

The ‘stuff on the left’ is a series of threaded conversations, akin to comments on Facebook and similar social networking sites. If that kind of thing doesn’t appeal to you, you can ignore it, but it allows you to ‘converse’ with others in the groups to which you are automatically subscribed (such as one for each class you are registered in, if you are a student) or to create new ones on the fly to hold discussions either in private or publicly.

Finally, as always, ignore any email message that says you have to ‘do something’ to transition to Academica. And especially, don’t click on any links in such messages. When in doubt, type the name into your web browser yourself: or for short. That way, you always know where you are. And where you aren’t.

If you have questions, contact the C&IT Help Desk at (313) 577-HELP or