eXtension National Conference 2010: Social Media

on Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The 2010 eXtension National Conference: Symposium On Workjng Differently was held October 18-21. Video recordings of the presentations are now available at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/broadcasts/nevc/.

The overwhelming majority of these presentations concern the use of social media and networking sites to engage communities, and are being moderated by Extension professionals who are successfully using these tools for outreach.

If you are interested in using social media for the dissemination of Extension programming, I highly recommend these recordings.

Among the many topics discussed:

  • Becoming Visible in the New Media Ecology
  • Educating Others about Social Networking
  • Engaging Learners Through Social Media Outreach: Working Smarter, Not Harder
  • Assessing Impact of eXtension or Social Media Programming
  • Using a Blog to Reach Master Gardeners
  • 3D Immersive Educational Opportunities in Second Life


on Thursday, October 14, 2010

Their tagline is "Your computer, without the computer."

PortableApps (http://portableapps.com/) is a free open source platform that allows you to carry multiple applications around on a flash drive. The basic Portable Apps suite comes loaded with a web browser (Firefox), email client (Thunderbird), and office suite (Open Office), as well as calendar/scheduler, antivirus, audio player and more, all preconfigured to work portably. Just drop it on your portable device and you're ready to go.

A large number of optional applications are available as well - ALL free and open source - from digital Bibles to Audacity audio editing software and the GIMP Image editing program.

It allows you to carry around the files and documents you are working with too, so that, for instance, images you are editing using GIMP, or music you are listening to using Coolplayer, are stored on the same Flash drive as the PortableApps platform.

PortableApps takes mere minutes to set up, loads quickly, and is easy to use and personalize. A full list of apps it supports is available at: http://portableapps.com/apps.

Flash Drive Viruses

on Friday, October 8, 2010

The recent Stuxnet virus, which infiltrated large industrial control systems in China, India, Pakistan, and India, likely found its way into government computer via a Flash drive. Similarly, last year's Conficker worm got into the computers of the French navy and the city of Manchester, England, through infected USB disks.

Flash drives are becoming the latest gateway computer viruses and worms are using to infect computers. A recent Trend Micro survey found that 53.7 percent of newly detected computer viruses are being programmed to spread via USB devices.

Fortunately, there are several precautions to prevent your Flash drive from infection.

1. Keep work and personal Flash drives separate.

2. Always scan a Flash drive before retrieving files from it. Your anti-virus software should have the ability to scan a specific drive for viruses. Simply plug in your flash drive, set up a custom scan, and scan that drive. In Symantec, choose Scan for Threats, then Create a New Scan (see screenshot below), and checkmark the removable drive that represents your Flash drive.

3. Just like email, don't ever open a file with unknown origins, unless you are sure it is safe. Be particularly careful with Flash drives that are not your own.

4. Don’t allow the USB Drive to Auto Play after plug in. Choose cancel it (see screenshot below). Then browse to the Flash drive to retrieve the files yourself.