Tech FAQ

Looking for help with a particular Technology topic?  Just select the link you want from the list below.  

If you can't find what you need here, or can't make it work, email one of the eager-to-help class teaching assistants, Ethan (eik5139@psu.edu) or Kira (klm5866@psu.edu), or if its a REALLY hard tech question, Chris, the computer whizz from PSU's Teaching and Learning with Technology.
   
                                    
One of the requirements of this course is that you post to this course blog, which means you must be a part of the Blogs@psu system.  If you are new to Penn State, or have never used the PSU Blogs or personal webspace, you will need to complete the following steps:
1. Go to work.psu.edu/webspace (you will need to login using your Penn State username and password).  Take the short quiz to activate your personal webspace.  If you fail the quiz you should feel great shame, but other than that don't worry as you can take the quiz again.   NOTE: Once you complete the activation process it can take up to 3 days for your personal webspace to become active.  Make sure not to leave this until this last minute before an assignment is due!
2. Once your personal webspace has been activated, go to blogs.psu.edu and login (you'll see a big green login button) using your Penn State username and password.  Logging into the system for the first time creates your account, allowing you to be added to the SC200 course blog.  At this point, feel free to logout (top right corner of the screen).  But this is how you will login when it comes time to add content to the SC200 site, one of your other course blogs, or if you'd like to create your own personal blog.

How do I know If my personal webspace has been activated?
The simplest way to tell is to try and login to blogs.psu.edu and try to login.  If your webspace is active, you should be able to login - if not, you won't.  You can also tell by visiting your personal webspace.  If you don't have personal webspace setup, your site (which can be found by going to www.personal.psu.edu/yourusername) will look like this:
psuwebspace1.png


If your webspace has been activated, it should look like this:
psuwebspace2.png

Are you writing great content for the SC200 blog only to have it not appear on the site?  Assuming you are not crazy (and you know what happens when you assume), there are two likely reasons why content you have saved is not appearing on the course blog.

Reason #1:  You Wrote it On the Wrong Blog
For users with more than one Penn State blog, adding content in the wrong place happens more than you might think.  So how do you know what blog you are working on?  All you have to do is look in the top left corner of your screen.

Right above the main toolbar and next to the "Write Entry" button, you should see the name of the blog you are currently working on.  If it says something other than "SiOWfa13: Science in Our World: Certainty & Controversy", then its safe to say you are not working on the SC200 blog. To change your active blog, click the down arrow (indicated by the red arrow below).
changeblog1.png
    
Clicking the arrow will open a list of the most recent blogs you have worked on.  To select a different blog to work on, just click on its name in the list.  

changeblog2.png
Reason #2:  Your Entry Isn't Published
If you are writing a longer entry, or wanted to take time to reflect on what you'd written before you post it to the world, you might have decided to save your entry as an unpublished draft.  While we certainly encourage this sort of thoughtful reflection, make sure you remember to publish the entry once you are happy with it.  

Changing your entry from unpublished to published (and vice versa) is easy.  Just change the status option on the right hand side of the screen when you are writing an entry (see image below).  Published makes your post visible to the world.  Unpublished means it won't show up the blog, giving you time to polish it up.  Once you publish an entry, you can unpublished it at any time. Just remember, to be graded on your work, it has to be published.

publishpost.png

Whether you can bang out a flawless post in 10 minutes, or you prefer to chip away for hours when you write, saving early and saving often is always good advice. But obviously you don't want to post a half written post to the web for everyone to see. Whats a SC200 student to do?

The answer, thankfully, is pretty simple. When you start a new blog post, just change the Publishing Status (on the right side of the screen) from "Published" to "Unpublished (Draft)". As long as your post is unpublished, you can work on it for as long as you want and you are the only person who will see it. Just remember to publish it when you are finished.
publishpost.png





Did you write up a fantastic post, only to later realize that you spelled "the" wrong... 12 times?  Make reference to a link or an image that you totally forgot to include?  Or did you just decide, after a bit of reflection, that you'd like to clarify some of the points you've made in an entry?  Regardless of the reason, you have the ability to edit any of your posts anytime you need to.  

To edit your entry, log into blogs.psu.edu the same way you would if you were going to write a new entry.  But instead of pressing the big "Write Entry" button, scroll over the "Manage" button on the menu, then select "Entries" from the drop down that appears (see image below).

editentry.png

After you click "Entries", you should be taken to a list of list of all your entries.  From there, just select the one you want to edit, make whatever changes you need to, save and call it a day.  

Though you can edit entries whenever you want, keep in mind that your Professor will be grading what you've written at set times throughout the semester, so making changes to your post after that time may not impact your grade.  Check the course schedule for information on blog grading periods.



If you have questions about how to use the blog, checkout the blogsoverview help document.

If you are having trouble activating, accessing or using the blog, or if you run into some kind of error, visit the blogs@psu help page and fill out the form provided to get personal support from the helpdesk team.   




Well look who is getting fancy!  Though you certainly don't have to know (or use) HTML in order to use the course blog successfully, it can be helpful to know some of the basics, especially if you want to do things like add links when commenting (where you don't have the helpful toolbar that you have when writing entries).  We'll cover 3 of the more commonly used html tags here, but if you are interested in learning additional tags, or are just curious about html, we encourage you to visit the W3Schools HTML Tutorial page.

Two quick disclaimers before we continue.
1)  Though we always want to encourage people to try new things, be aware when you start writing code by hand there is always a chance that crazy things can happen.  If HTML is new for you, it never hurts to copy your content before you start experimenting.
2)  Everything discussed below is very easy to do from the toolbar when writing entries.  This quick tutorial is meant more for adding richness to comments if you'd like to.  If you do want to get into editing HTML when writing your own entries, make sure you click the "code view" button (it looks like this <A>).

Bold
The bold tag is one of the simplest html tags.  To make a word show up in bold, just put a <b> in front of the word and a </b> behind it.  

Links
To add a link, you use the <a href> tag.  There are two elements to linking. 1)  Where you want the link to point to, and 2) what you want the link to look like to the end user.

So if I wanted to create a link to psu.edu, this is what I would write:
<a href="http://www.psu.edu">What you want the link to say</a>
This is how it would appear:
What you want the link to say


Images
The image tag, which lets you (say it with me now) add an image to your post is a lot skiing.  Easy to learn but difficult to master and both can end up plowing you into a snowbank while getting quietly mocked by 4 year olds who are zipping by you.... metaphorically speaking. 

But this is basics, so we'll keep it simple.  Your standard image tag looks like this:
<img src="psulogo.png" />
The part inside the quotes not only represents the image you are using but where that image is.  If you uploaded an image to the course blog, it will probably look like the example above.  But if you want to use an image from somewhere else without downloading it and uploading it again (make sure its not copyrighted), it might look more like this:
<img src="http://pennstatermag.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/penn_state_logo.gif">

Also take note of the file extension (the 3 letter code that follows your file name, like .png).  .png, .jpg, and .gif are the 3 most common file extensions for images.  If your image isn't showing up, the majority of the time its because you forgot to add the file extension (or you used an incorrect one).  

From there, people generally want to resize an image to make it look fits with the rest of the page.  To resize an image, you can it width and height to the tag.  That would look like this:
<img src="psulogo.png" width="200" height="200" />  
The number in the height and width areas are pixels.  


Video
Ah video. Without you, we'd be forced to live a life devoid of the Tosh.0 Web Redemption, and that would not be good for anyone. Thankfully videos do exist, and in addition to bringing us great joy and hours of procrastination based entertainment, they are also a great way to add a little pizzaz to your SC200 blog post (exactly what you were thinking, I know). So how do you bring the noise and the funk? Just follow the few quick steps below to see an example from Youtube. 

* Note: The example below shows how to grab a video from YouTube, as it is by far the most popular video sharing site. However most major video or news sites will have options for "sharing" or "embedding" their videos. Posting those video clips to your blog should be relatively similar to the instructions below. If create a video of your own that you would like to share, I'd recommend uploading it to a video sharing service first (otherwise you'll need to know a little something about enclosures and... exactly).

First head over to YouTube and find the clip you're looking for. Diabolical Hampster? Check. Right below the video itself, you should see a "Share" button (highlighted in red in the image below). Click it, and a new menu should slide down. From here, click the "Embed" button (highlighted in green) and a box with some html code should appear. Copy that code, then jump back to your blog.

youtube.png
Once you're back in on the post creation screen, look all the way to right side of the formatting toolbar for a symbol that looks like this <A>. This button will switch your post into whats called HTML mode and allow you to paste in the embed code you just copied from Youtube. Once you've pasted in the code, click the underlined A button just to the left of the html mode button to switch back into normal mode.

htmlmode.png

You should now see your video.

If you are not familiar with HTML a helpful tip. You may find it easier to add a video either before you've written anything, or after you've finished writing your post (posting the embed code at the beginning or end). Why? Trying to figure out where to paste the html code when there is a lot of other code already there can be tricky. Its much easier when you have a clean slate, or you just add the code to the very bottom of the page.

 



If the Angel course management system is new to you, or if you are just looking to figure out what exactly you can do with it, stop by the Angel Help and Information Guide.

If you are having a problem with Angel (for example, you can't login or can't see your course), submit a ticket to the Angel Support Team.




If you'd like to connect to Penn State's wireless network in class (or anywhere else on campus) visit wireless.psu.edu/wireles.html for how to and troubleshooting information.

If you are totally lost with getting wireless setup on your laptop or mobile device, ITS also offers stop by support (in 204 Wagner by appointment and in 6 Willard walk in).  For more information, check out helpdesk.psu.edu.




Poll Everywhere is a great tool for giving the audience a chance to be heard during presentations and lectures.  How do it work?  Very simply actually.  Your instructor will create a poll or pose a question to the class. Then text, type, or tweet your response.  Not convinced it could possible be so easy?  We'll show you exactly how it works.

At some point during class, your professor will pose an open ended question or a poll to the class.  Right underneath the question different options will be available for how to respond (in this case, a number you can text to, an account you can tweet at, or a website you can submit your answer to.
pollresponse_1.png

If you are a texting machine (and we know you are... you're texting right now aren't you?) then you can text your response to the number provided.  
pollresponse_text.PNG



If you have a Laptop or smart phone with web access, go to poll4.com and submit your answer there.

pollresponse_web.png







Or if twitter is your fancy, go to twitter.com or open your favorite twitter client, and tweet your response @poll.
pollresponse_twitter.png


Then just sit back and watch in class as the results from you and your classmates roll in.  You responses are anonymous to the rest of the class, so feel free to be honest.  But always be respectful of your Professor, your classmates, and any guest speakers you may have when using the freedom Poll Everywhere provides.  

pollresponse_2.png


Leave a comment

Subscribe to receive notifications of follow up comments via email.
We are processing your request. If you don't see any confirmation within 30 seconds, please reload your page.

Search This Blog

Full Text  Tag

Recent Entries

Are Bats Actually Blind?
Time Travel
The idea of time travel seems so ridiculous that it cant be true. There is just no way it…
The Joy of Stem Cells
Polio, leprosy, small pox and many other health obstacles have been overcome with the help of dedicated researchers, doctors and…

Old Contributions