CAT Prints - the online newsletter of the Department of Computers and Telecommunication Services


August, 2006

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Protecting sensitive data

There have been many examples in the national media lately of laptop machines with confidential data being stolen.  Some of these machines contained tremendous amounts of sensitive data - millions of names, addresses, social security numbers and the like.  It is certain that the data on these machines are worth much, much more than the hardware itself, and the possible damage to citizens through identity theft and other kinds of fraud is incalculable. 

Here at the college we all hold sensitive data on our machines, perhaps without even realizing it.  We have employee performance evaluations, student information, confidential letters and probably a fair bit of personal material as well.  These may not be state secrets or high-value content in the world of cybercrime, but they are items of some sensitivity that we are responsible for keeping secure.  The question is, how best to keep these data safe?

Consider the laptop.  Its very portability makes it awfully easy to leave behind at the airport or stashed in the back seat of a car during a meeting.  There are lots of ways that a laptop can disappear.  This immediately raises two concerns:

1.  Did I back up my data?  That is, after get a new machine can I retrieve all of the information that was stored on the lost computer?  Make sure you have a way to back up your files - either through some of the automated mechanisms available to Secure Desktop and ASCI users or else through more manual means of copying data to network drives or other media.  Keep those backups secure, too!

2.  If someone has may laptop, can they access my files?  If they do access my files, can they do anything with the data that could be damaging or embarrassing to those involved?

There are many ways to secure files on machines that will render them inaccessible to unauthorized people.  In September's CATPrints we will look at some of those methods and discuss other elements of data security.


New Image Gallery

The College's collection of online imagery has significantly grown in the last few years.  In an effort to make it easier to find a specific image, the Web Development Office in collaboration with Academic Information Technology Services has created the Image Gallery, a site where you can search for images based on keywords and descriptions.  At you will find an attractive and simple layout of image categories as well as a search engine.  Photos stored in the Image Gallery are available for any employee of the college to use for college-related business.   As we go along we will be adding vast quantities of images and tagging each one with appropriate descriptors to make them available to searches.  Please contact the Web Development Office at 3031 if you would like to share your images in the Gallery.


Personal Call Policy

This is a reminder of the policy regarding personal use of college telephones by faculty and staff. This policy was established in 1992. 

Telephones are provided by the campus and the State of New York for professional use in order to accomplish our work.  As such, inappropriate and unreasonable usage of the telephone for personal business is discouraged. 

The full text of the College's Personal Call Policy is available at

Thirty Years of Apple

In late July of 1976 two young computer programmers, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, delivered fifty of their hand-built computers to a San Francisco store.  Jobs had recently worked picking apples in a California orchard, and so the new machine was optimistically dubbed the "Apple 1".  It sold for $600 and featured 4K of memory (as opposed to today's machines that come standard with 512 Gigabytes of memory, 128 million times more).  Users could also purchase a cassette tape interface to store programs on.  The Apple 1 was sophisticated for its time, and you had to practically be a software engineer to work with it.  But it launched the Apple Computer Corporation, which today has assets of over $14 billion.  Not bad for a business started in a garage.


Opening Word Documents in Outlook

When someone sends you a Word document as an attachment to an email message, you can double-click the attachment to open it up in Word, but by default it appears in Reading Layout:

Like this.  If you find this annoying you can change the layout to a more normal Print Layout mode - open Word and click Tools- Options- select the General tab and uncheck the box labeled Allow Starting In Reading Layout.  That will do it!


Turn down the volume on your cellphone

Not what you hear, but what you say.

Cellphone networks do not provide what's called sidetone feedback.  This feedback lets you hear yourself on a landline phone and tends to moderate how loudly you speak into the phone.  Cellphones don't provide this, and it causes people to speak much more loudly than normal, and much, much more loudly than necessary.  Even in noisy environments the human voice comes through clearly - a spotty signal will have more impact on how clearly you can hear someone than whether they are shouting at you.

We don't have sidetone feedback in cellular networks because the significant time delay in the voice transmission would make it sound like you were talking into an echo chamber.   Try calling a landline phone from your cellphone and hold each phone to your ear.  Now talk. 

Echo, echo, echo, echo

Phone manufacturers are starting to incorporate sidetone feedback right into the phone itself.  Hopefully, within a few years the cellphone shout should be a thing of the past.


If you have a question for Computer and Telecommunication Services about:

Computer Problems or Related Issues - Call the Information Technology Help Desk at 436-4567

Telephone Service or Problems - Call the Office of Telecommunications at 436-2577

Directory Assistance - call 436-3500

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