You just want it printed. You spent a bunch of time getting the page just so. You clicked the right buttons and the page is supposed to (magically) appear. But nothing. No blinking lights. No confounded error message. Nothing.
Normally, all our nearly ubiquitous technology works amazing well, day after day… until it doesn’t.
And when technology doesn’t work, it affects our attitude. The frustration colors how we accept new technology, hampering the most efficient and productive use. We waste time and energy defending against being let down by the technology.
Our attitude is the most controllable part of the vicious circle with technology. If you have a bad attitude toward technology, any glitches may seem much worse. If you feel at the mercy of the machine, it will be harder to cope with the inevitable malfunction.
Approaching the use of technology with a spirit of adventure and an acceptance of some trade-offs will make everything easier. Investing some time learning about the inner workings, best practices, and short cuts will pay rich dividends.
So, what to do when something doesn’t work? Stop. Take a breath. Understand that the annoyance you feel is a by-product of the (hopefully momentary) loss of a blessed convenience (ever tried using a quill pen?). Look for anything unusual in what is going on: icons, indicator lights (or lack thereof), or anything out of place. Take another deep breath. Save your work, reboot the system, try again. Take a most important deep breath and call tech support. After the incident is resolved, reflect on what happened and how it affected you. Your next trouble is likely to be less stressful.
This doesn’t mean we just accept any sort of technology issues. We want you to analyze how the systems work for you. We want you to be active in deciding what technology is employed. Systems that don’t work well need to be retired or upgraded. We constantly evaluate our systems and try to incorporate end-user feedback in shaping our technology moving forward.
Talk with us. Your experience is useful to us, even more so if it is something other than venting frustration!
Together, we’ll keep things humming along productively.
“The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”
- Charles R. Swindoll
Message from University IS&T:
Access to PAWS has been restored. The single sign-on function to GoSOLAR is working.
Faculty and Staff
Once you logged into PAWS, you may access GoSOLAR within the Application Links channel, via the Home tab. Faculty may access functions such as view grade submission statuses as well as single-click access to GoSOLAR’s Faculty Menu, via the Classes tab. Staff Advisors may access the Staff Advisor menu, which includes running Academic Evaluations, via the Work tab. Please note that the single sign-on function to Internet Native Banner (INB) is not working. To logon to INB, please go to www.gosolar.gsu.edu and click on Internet Native Banner. If you experience a problem, please email the Banner Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 404-413-2264.
Students may now perform functions such as registration, view grades, view account balance and other records on the One Stop Shop tab. If you experience a problem, please contact the IS&T Help Center by e-mail at email@example.com, or critical issues can be reported by phone at 404-413-HELP (4357).
Thank you for your patience.
After Tuesday’s network outage, University IS&T is still working to get some systems online. Please see the message below.
From Campus IS&T:
Access to GoSOLAR and many other systems that use Banner has been restored. PAWS is still inaccessible. However, an interim entry gateway into student-related systems has been created. To access services such as registration, student accounting, and financial aid, go to: http://paws.gsu.edu and click on the GoSOLAR link at the bottom of the page. Links to other services are also listed.
If you experience a problem or have questions or concerns, please contact the IS&T Help Center by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or critical issues can be reported by phone at 404-413-HELP (4357).
Recently, our trusty University Relations writer Kathleen shared an article by Helen Sword called Zombie Nouns. The article is about how often we “forget how ordinary people speak,” and how nominalizations (nouns formed from other parts of speech) have begun to overpopulate all types of writing. Academians are notorious abusers. It got me thinking about how we learn to write, how we accidentally pick up bad habits along the way, and how we can keep our writing grounded and accessible to all types of readers.
Then I remembered
an embarrassing a damaging story that I will now share with you despite my better judgment…
I loved my freshman English class, and I was excited to see how I would do on my first-ever college writing assignment. When I got my paper back, it had a huge red 53 on it. Out of 100! My professor said: Make your point, don’t write around it.
That year, the professor made me ask and answer hard questions about my writing:
- Are these words critical to my point, or are they filler?
- Have I left this phrase here just because I like the sound of it?
- Does this sentence support my argument; is it necessary at all?
- Is the piece effective and useful as a whole?
- Am I running the risk of boring my reader to tears?
My professor’s case (and Sword’s) is made even more critical when we talk about writing for the web.
As I mentioned in our first Web Style 101 post, users scan websites looking for a particular piece of information. It’s unusual that a user would read every word on the page. So it’s our job as content providers to make finding information as easy as possible.
In addition to using headings and bullet points to visually break up blocks of text, we must write clearly and succinctly throughout every piece.
Sword’s final statement is spot-on:
A paragraph heavily populated by nominalizations will send your readers straight to sleep. Wake them up with vigorous, verb-driven sentences that are concrete, clearly structured and blissfully zombie-free.
Take a look at Sword’s article, and think about what type of nominalizations, jargon and complex sentence structures you might be subconsciously injecting into your own writing. Is your audience interested? Will they understand? How can you streamline your language to make it easier for students, faculty and staff to find what they are looking for?
- Choose simple words (e.g., “use” instead of “utilize”)
- Write straight-forward sentence structures
- Use clear subjects and active voice whenever possible
And ask those hard questions! When we spend hours working on a project, it can be hard to step back and look at it objectively. If you aren’t sure, have a friend or colleague look it over and provide feedback from an outsider’s perspective.
I don’t know anyone with a Ph.D in Writing for Web, but I know a lot of people who get thrown into online publishing without any previous experience – our student organization webmasters and our staff CMS editors, for example! Because so many of us have learned by doing, it’s important to keep improving our skills and adapting to new trends. To get started, try a Google search for “online writing tips” or “writing for web guide” and see what you find.
Here on the Technology Blog, I’ll start updating you every few weeks with some tips and resources for producing better content. This week, let’s look at two critical facts about Internet use.
#1: We only scan web pages.
People don’t read. Researchers use eye-tracking software to follow a person’s eye movements while s/he’s looking at a website. These studies tell us several things:
- People typically scan the left side of a content block, quickly looking at the first few words of a headline and moving down the page looking for relevant words (keywords).
- The scanning process takes only a few seconds.
- We tend to scan large fonts (e.g., headlines, section titles).
- We tend to focus on smaller fonts (e.g., body text).
- When paragraphs are too long, the eye will scan further down the page for more keywords
#2: The Internet is an active medium.
Specificity is key. While you may enjoy spending an hour with the Sunday paper, you probably don’t spend that kind of time on a web page. Online, we usually need a specific piece of information from a site.
Examples: What time does a business close? What’s the deadline for this application? What should I do on my trip to New York? What treatment options are available for high blood pressure? Where can I buy movie tickets online? Who can I call about my power bill?
These types of questions have specific answers. Some of the answers may be lengthier than others, but ultimately, when we go online, we are looking for something in particular.
When we encounter a page filled with long paragraphs and no headlines, many users will return to our search results and try another link. Think about what information our prospective students, current students, staff, faculty, peers and other community members might be looking for on your website.
While I prepare some tips and tricks for future blog posts, take a look at this presentation, which was prepared for the State Library of Victoria, Australia.
Microsoft released Windows 8 Developer Preview in September 2011. Windows 8 has not yet been released in the market, but after reading and research, I found the folowing advantages and disadvantages about the new OS.
- Task manager is superb
- Super Fast Bootup
- Clean and elegant look
- Rss App is Nice
- Metro UI is so awesome for touch enabled devices.
- Compatible with old Windows 7 softwares.
- HTML5 based apps mean easy virtualization over networks.
- Simple Social Network and Syncing Integration.
- Upcoming App Store will help bring more innovative apps to this platform.
- Touch Friendly IE is fun to use. But no flash support for that!
- Apps don’t really close in Metro UI, they are suspended after a certain interval of idleness.
- Since the Apps are based on scripting languges, it consumes more resources.
- Power user will miss the main menu.
- Snapping is buggy
- Metro UI is awesome for touch, and sometimes feels clumsy without it. The gestures are generally not intuitive using a mouse.