Tuesday Tips

March 29, 2022
Past Editions


My New Computer Experience

Image showing an old typewriter and a modern laptop

I'm stepping out of the usual voice for this newsletter to relate a recent personal experience.

My goal in relating this is to illustrate how using a tool like Box or Microsoft One Drive1 can make you much less dependent on your specific computer. This makes life much easier if you ever need to have your computer repaired and need to use a loaner . . . or when you finally switch to a new computer. 

Last week, I received a new computer on the LS Computer Replacement Program. I had been using my previous computer for five years, so I was worried about the pain of switching but also excited to be moving to a faster, more capable system. 

Thankfully, many of the technologies we have already deployed made the transition remarkably easy, hence my choice to remark on the experience here:

I use Box with the Box Drive client, and I make a habit of storing all of my documents and files in Box rather than in the Desktop or Documents folders on my computer. The new computer came with Box Drive already installed, so all I needed to do was to log in to my UC Davis Box account to have immediate access to all of my files and folders. There was no need to transfer files between the two computers2 or worry about leaving important files behind.

Along the same lines, as a UC Davis Office 365 user, I only needed to log into Outlook once to have all of my mail, mail folders, and shared calendars quickly synced to my new computer. Even the in-progress messages that I had saved as Drafts on my old computer were ready to finish and send on the new computer. 

The new computer came with the most common applications I use, including Office, Acrobat, and Box Drive. But there are some other applications I use regularly, including the LS VPN, Slack, PuTTY, and, of course, Zoom. I was able to use the Aggie Desktop self-service application to quickly install current versions of all of these tools. So far, I have only needed to manually install one specialty application that was not available through self-service.

Of course, I have had to reset a few preferences and other similar minor annoyances. But, overall, I was able to move from a computer I had been using for five years to a new computer with very little effort or lost productivity. I couldn't be happier with the new computer.

I hope you'll see how some minor habit changes, such as saving your work to Box Drive instead of the Documents folder, can make you much more resilient when switching computers—whether the switch happens by choice or due to a hardware failure. We in IT colloquially refer to this as "toasterizing" a computer: it should be as easily replaceable as an old toaster.

-Jeremy Phillips, Director, Letters and Science IT

1 Why are Box and Microsoft OneDrive the preferred options? There are two main reasons: 1. UC Davis has excellent contracts in place with both Box and Microsoft that guarantee service levels and provide both technical and legal protections for the content we store in these services, and 2. UC Davis has administrative tools to support both of these services. If you're using a personal DropBox or Google Drive account and something goes wrong, we have very few options to help you. Further, while we used to recommend Google Drive connected to a UC Davis account, Google has made recent changes that will significantly limit the storage available to UC Davis users, so we no longer recommend this option.

2 I learned a useful trick in this process: I have a not-great habit of occasionally working on documents directly from the Downloads folder. I ended up needing to transfer a few in-process documents from the Downloads folder on the old computer, since that folder wasn't managed in Box Drive. To solve this going forward, I created a new Downloads folder inside of my Box account, I set my browser to default to downloading to the new folder on Box, and I dragged the new folder to the "Quick Access" list in Windows so that it's available with one click in any Windows file selection dialog box. With this refinement, the next time I need to switch to a new computer—either permanently or temporarily—I won't need to worry about Downloads being left behind.

Image of top of toaster with toast showing; toast has "happy face"

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Quick Updates and Reminders


Supply Chain Delays

We continue to experience the effects of global supply chain delays on monitors, printers, some computers, and other equipment. In many cases, items we order today are not shipping for up to 6 months—and sometimes longer. Even when vendors provide an estimated ship date, we are frequently seeing those dates ship by weeks or months. Please plan ahead by ordering as soon as possible, and please be patient.

Supported macOS Versions

If you are running an older version of macOS than 10.15 Catalina, you are no longer receiving security updates and are out of compliance with UC-wide policy. Please contact LS IT for assistance upgrading to a supported macOS version.

UC Davis Phish Bowl

The UC Davis Phish Bowl is a fast place to check whether a suspicious email you've received is phishing or legitimate. 
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