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2014 March

March 19, 2014

Apple Retires iPad 2

Apple iPad 2Apple’s iPad 2 is no longer available for purchase after Apple reshuffled their iPad offerings yesterday, replacing the long-standing iPad model with a 16 GB version of the fourth-generation iPad. For two years, the iPad 2 was Apple’s entry-level tablet after Apple began producing iPads with the high quality Retina Display; the only remaining non-Retina iPad is the first generation iPad Mini. Pricing for the fourth-generation iPad starts at $399.

March 18, 2014

Citing Twitter in Academic Papers

Twitter Graduate LogoWith Twitter’s growth in users, its importance in breaking news, and ability to provide immediate commentary on many issues, professors are seeing an increase of tweets being cited in their student’s papers. While this may be rather unconventional, tweets can give unfiltered insight to important events, social issues and popular culture. EdTech Magazine attempts to address the question of how to actually cite tweets in academic papers.

March 12, 2014

Happy 25th Birthday, World Wide Web!

HTTP and WWW imageThe World Wide Web celebrates its 25th anniversary today. In March 1989, software engineer Tim Berners-Lee began work on proposal he would soon submit to the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) for “a large hypertext database with typed links“. He saw a growing need for physicists from around the world to share data and results from their experiments, but without the requirement of using a common computing platform or software. Berners-Lee would soon create the first web editor and browser, and the first web page was posted online by the end of 1990. Most importantly, web technology was made free for anyone to use.

Today, Berners-Lee is concerned about moves by telecommunications companies that could damage the open nature of the Internet, and is marking its 25th anniversary by advocating to keep the web free and open for everyone.

March 11, 2014

Microsoft to End Support for Windows XP Soon

Windows XP Logo

On April 8, Microsoft will officially end its support for Windows XP. This means that no further updates or security patches will be developed and released for the 12-year-old operating system. Windows XP will become very vulnerable to security exploits and all XP users should highly consider upgrading to Windows 7 or 8. If for some reason a user must continue to use Windows XP (perhaps to run specialized software), they can take some steps to increase security on their computer. If you are supported by CASIT and are running Windows XP on your computer, please contact us so that we can get you upgraded to Windows 7 or find a suitable alternative. If you are a UO employee not supported by CASIT, contact your department’s IT desk for assistance.

March 10, 2014

iOS 7.1 Update Released

iOS 7 LogoApple has just released their first major update to iOS 7, its new operating system for its mobile devices. iOS 7 is compatible with iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, and iPod touch (5th generation) devices. The iOS 7.1 update includes improvements to Siri, Touch ID for iPhone 5s, and accessibility options, among others. The update is approximately 190 MB in size, though users will need 1.8 GB in free space to run the update. To get the update, go to Settings > General > Software Update on your Apple mobile device.

March 5, 2014

Security Protections May Break Embedded Google Forms for Some Users

Info & Background

A potentially annoying protection–which all modern browsers enforce–may be to blame for embedded Google Forms to not load for some users. There is a possibility that other Google services, or other embedded widgets from any site, could break under similar conditions.

Jump to a workaround.

Background

Recently web services was contacted for help with a problemistic, embedded Google form. Neither the containing page changed or form were changed recently, but the problems came up anyways. The form simply showed as a blank white area of the page. Not all users saw this behavior, alternatively seeing the form as usual.

It was found that the people who could not load the form were using a browser which had previously logged into a Google (or @cas.uoregon.edu email) Service, which changes the behavior of Google Forms. No solution exists to prevent this on the user’s end, but workarounds do.

Symptoms

The following would likely be observed on an affected embed:

  • inconsistent problems loading the page containing the embedded form, doc, spreadsheet, etc.
  • inconsistent success or failure loading the page on different computers for the same user
  • for those who could not load the embedded form, only a blank “frame” or rectangular white area will appear ; the page should not hang when loading, it simply wouldn’t try to load the form (at least because of this problem)
  • privileges to see the form are not to blame (is public)

Cause

The inability to load the form was caused by a protection put in place to prevent cross-site attacks and other potential security concerns on the web. All modern browsers should honor this standard. Google’s signin page notifies the browser that the page should only load if it is in its own window (or tab), but never in a frame. Google Forms are added to a page by “embedding” their page into a frame (iframe). Generally this is fine, as long as the form is public or the user has some sort of key to load the form.

If a user has a cookie which identifies that they have recently signed into Google, Google will forward the form page to the signin page (even if the form is public). It does so because some info can be pulled into the form when they sign in, as a courtesy enabled by the form builder, so the user does not have to type their name and phone number (etc.) into 50,000 forms during their lifetime. Although their intentions are good, the login page has a setting which blocks loading in frames (passed as part of the headers which describe page properties). This is the situation which is to blame.

Solution

None, see workaround.

There is no solution to prevent this problem, and hopefully never will be because of security concerns (unless Google changes the way Drive technology is set up).

Workaround

The user should be told, or instructions added to the page, to please do one of these four options (in my personal order of preference):

  1. load the page using a private session/window/tab (called Incognito for Chrome, Private Window for Firefox, Private Browsing for Safari, and InPrivate for Internet Explorer)
  2. load the page using a different browser which has not logged into Google (at least recently)
  3. reload the page after first clearing or disabling their cookies (at least the Google ones)
  4. link to the form using the shareable link (provided by google) instead, or in addition to, embedding

Credit

This forum discussion led me to the workaround and cause for this problem: https://productforums.google.com/d/topic/docs/StVq39J3lCA/discussion

– Cameron Seright, Analyst Programmer

March 4, 2014

Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard Approaching End-of-Life

Mac OS X Snow Leopard boxImportant security updates were recently released for Mac OS 10.9, 10.8, and 10.7, but not for 10.6 Snow Leopard, which was released in 2009. If you are the user of a Mac running 10.6, it would be a good idea to look into your options for upgrading your computer as updates appear to be released much with much less frequency for 10.6 than its successors.

If you use a University-owned Macintosh and are supported by CASIT, please contact us so that we can consult you on the best upgrade options for your computer.

March 3, 2014

Important Mac OS X Security Updates

OS X Mavericks LogoIf you are using Mac OS 10.9 Mavericks, 10.8 Mountain Lion, or 10.7 Lion, you should download and apply any updates that are available to protect yourself from new security vulnerabilities. Last week, Apple released several security updates for OS X, which patched known vulnerabilities in their operating system and the Safari web browser. A security update was also released for iOS 7 and Quicktime for Windows.

To check for the latest software updates on your Mac, choose the Apple menu (in the upper-left corner) > Software Update.

(H/T Jay Lindly)