Skip to main content - Skip to contact information

Getting Started Technology Guides

August 24th, 2016 by Arwen

NEW Guides for Getting Started with Technology

We know there are a lot of things to learn and  set up when you are a new employee or student.

We also know that the last thing you want to worry about is how to log on to a computer or where to save files. I mean you have to figure out which courses you are in or where your office is! Do you really need to be stuck trying to figure out how to print?!

Well, we’ve tried to help by creating our Getting Started with Technology guides. We have a getting started guide for students, employees, parents, and visitors. You can now quickly find out where to save files, how to add printers, how to connect to wireless, how to get software, how to request equipment, etc.

Hopefully, our new guides for Getting Started with Technology will help make things easier by putting all the information you need to get started in one easy to use place and you can go from this


to this


Click here to see the getting started guides:

The guides are new and still being developed, so if you notice something missing let us know! We’d love to make them better.

By the way, did you notice the NEW website? Read our Talk Nerdy to Me post about our new website (including the getting started guides) here:

Welcome Back Fall 2016

August 24th, 2016 by Arwen

Welcome Back or just Welcome!

Whether you are an employee returning after a much deserved vacation or a new employee starting work at VIU, you will want to give this blog post a read.

There have been some exciting changes in IT over this summer and even more over this last year. Think of this as your highlight reel. Or even better, your own personal IT montage. Now all we need is a catchy tune and a city backdrop.

Technology “Getting Started” Guides on our NEW Technology Website

We know there are a lot of things to learn and  set up when you are a new employee or student. Where to save files, how to add printers, how to connect to wireless, how to get software, how to request equipment, etc.

IT is working on making this information easily available in one place by creating technology “getting started” guides.

We have a getting started guide for students, employees, parents, and visitors. Click here to see the getting started guides:

By the way, did you notice the NEW website? Read our Talk Nerdy to Me post about our new website (including the getting started guides) here:

Tech Tutors

Did you know that students can now get peer to peer tech support?

In the spring 2015 semester IT piloted a peer to peer tech support program called Tech Tutors. Providing personalized technical guidance, the student Tech Tutors help students with using Word, Powerpoint, and VIULearn (Desire2Learn). Tech Tutors also provide computer use coaching; helping students with such things as proper file management or providing computer safety and privacy advice.

We had such a positive response that we offered it for the 2015/2016 school year and are offering it again for 2016/2017. Spread the word, tell your students!

Tech Tutors will be located at the IT Helpdesk on the VIU Nanaimo Campus. Tech Tutor hours are spread throughout the week to provide a variety of options for students.

Please visit for current Tech Tutor hours and more information on the Tech Tutor program.

Password Change

On May 12, 2016 VIU implemented a new password standard, and all employee and student account passwords expired.

The purpose of the new password standard is to reduce overall risk to the institution by helping computer users reasonably avoid security and privacy risks that result from weak password choices.

Learn more about the recent Password Change including the new password requirements, when your passwords expire, and what accounts are impacted.

Requests for IT Service or Help

You can now create new requests and check on the status of existing requests yourself by logging in to the new IT Helpdesk Client Portal;

For information on using the portal you can follow the guide here:

As always, you can still call us directly or submit requests through email.

If submitting by email, the new system creates your ticket automatically and responds with a ticket number. Below are some tips and reminders for working with the automated system:

  • To request a new ticket:
    • send a new email to (as you would have in the past). You will receive an automatic response with a ticket number for your request. Keep this automatic response as you can reply to it to request updates for your ticket.
    • OR log in to the portal and create the request ticket.
  • To request an update on an open ticket or to add additional info to an open ticket:
    • reply to the ticket email that came from the system
    • or log in to the portal and check the status (no more waiting on us to get back to you!)
  • To request a completed ticket be reopened:
    • reply to your previous ticket email. This will reopen the ticket and flag it for quick action
    • OR log in to the portal and update the ticket. This will automatically reopen the ticket and flag it for quick action.

IT Communications

To keep our computing environment stable, secure, and current IT continually performs maintenance, installs updates, and upgrades infrastructure and systems.

In an attempt to reduce email volume we have adjusted our communications process so that we only email once a week (for scheduled maintenance) and for unplanned service outages. Please see the below list of communication channels for all IT related information.

Weekly “IT Scheduled Maintenance” emails:

  • used to communicate upcoming planned changes
  • sent every Wednesday at 2:30pm

IT Services Advisory:

  • notices posted for upcoming planned changes and unplanned service outages
  • posted as needed; prior to change and during unplanned service outage
  • IT Advisory notices can be found here:

Periodic “Talk Nerdy to Me” blog posts:

  • for IT to share a fun, friendly perspective on VIU technology changes and insight on new technologies and trends.
  • posted periodically in the VIU Digest
  • Talk Nerdy to Me blog can be found here:

Additional communications to reach students (digital signage, posters, etc)

  • IT services advisory for unplanned service outages
  • digital signage for changes that impact students
  • posters for information on changes to services (ie: wireless and tech tutors)

New Technology Website

August 24th, 2016 by Arwen

Announcing the NEW VIU Technology Website

One of my favourite activities in summer is talking about all the amazing things we do in the summer. “How’s your summer going?” “Did you go anywhere awesome this summer?” “Have you been camping/swimming/hiking/bbqing [insert favourite summer activity here] yet?” Just talking about all the fun things we do in summer is like taking a mini summer vacation.

So, I want to share with you what the IT Helpdesk did this summer. Why? Because it was AMAZING!

Okay, we each went swimming, camping, hiking, took vacation, went to a wine festival… the list goes on. It has been a fun packed summer. But the most exciting thing we’ve done (in my opinion) is rebuild our Technology Website.

Sounds kinda boring compared to vacation and wine festivals… but it isn’t, I promise. Our new website is fabulous!

I admit, I may be biased. I have wanted to update our website for 10 years. But bias aside, if you check it out, I’m pretty certain you will agree with me that it is terrific.

What Did We Change?

Everything! Okay, almost everything.

We designed the new site for you! It is easier to navigate and more user-friendly. Information about solutions, services and features are easy to find.

One of my favourite features is that every page in our site includes information on how to Contact Us and links to our IT Service Advisory and Helpdesk Client Portal; all located conveniently in the right hand column.

Our homepage includes Spotlight, where we bring your attention to particular site content that will be important for that week, month, semester, or year, and Tip of the Month, where we can share little technology gems that you may not know about.

I’m really excited (for purely selfish reasons) that our new homepage also features a prominent link to our Talk Nerdy To Me blog.  Now you can easily get your fun, friendly IT info.

But Wait, There’s More!

I know you’re asking, “How can this get any better?!” Trust me, it does.

You’ll find the rest of our site divided into five main sections: Getting Started, Find a Service, Get an Answer, Highlights, and About Us.

The Getting Started section is a valuable resource for all new students, faculty and staff. It’s laid out in an easy to follow, step by step, process to get you prepared to study or work at Vancouver Island University.

The Find a Service section is the IT Service Catalog and it provides detailed descriptions of the services and resources that the Information Technology department proudly offers. You can use the Service Catalog to find the service you need, information on how to request the service, and any related resources and help articles.

The Get an Answer section is the IT Help Catalog where you go to find answers to your technology questions. Need help connecting to wireless? Want to know how to map to a printer or a share drive? Visit this section for solutions to VIU technology questions.

Highlights is where we feature recent projects and changes to VIU technology. Learn more about the recent Password Change or our NEW Technology Website (guess what, you already are!). Check back to the Highlights section every now and then to see what’s new and exciting. Highlights will often be announced in our Weekly Maintenance emails, the VIU Digest, and the IT Talk Nerdy to Me blog.

We also wanted to give you an opportunity to know us better, who we are as a team and what we do. By browsing through our About Us section, you can read about who we are on The Team page, what we do on our Overview of Services page, and why we do it on our Mission and Values page.

See How It Works

Watch our video tour of the new site to see the awesomeness in action.

And check out the new website yourself at

Tell Us What You Think

Our helpdesk team has worked hard to put together this website, rich in information, to be used as a resource. We pride ourselves in providing you with accurate, up-to-date information and sharing our knowledge and expertise in the field of technology.

If you experience any problems using the new website or if you have any questions, please contact us at We look forward to hearing any feedback from you.

Creating Passwords Part 3

May 2nd, 2016 by Arwen

Time to Create ANOTHER New Password – Part 3

Article written by:
thoughtful helpdesk employee and guest contributor Brad “the keymaster” Martin

Leading up to the May 12 launch of VIU’s new password standard (go here for more info) we are doing a 3 part series that discusses passwords. Specifically, we are covering the three key things to remember when creating passwords:

  1. Use a password to access your technical devices
  2. Make the password strong
  3. Keep the password confidential

In part 1 we focused on adding passwords to your technical devices. In part 2, we discussed making strong passwords. In part three we will cover keeping your passwords confidential. Keep reading to the end for a fun password bonus from Betty White!

Keep Your Password Confidential

So you’ve created passwords for your devices and accounts; now you have a defense.
You made strong passwords; now you have a STRONG defense.
The next step is to keep your password confidential; hold your defense.

You wouldn’t lock your door to your house and then leave the key taped to the door. Sharing your passwords, either intentionally or unintentionally or writing your passwords down is the most frequent way that accounts and devices get breached at VIU.

Each year approximately 20 VIU employee accounts are compromised because people enter their passwords after clicking on an email link.

To keep your password safe and protect your account from an information breach follow the recommended practices below:

  1. Do not share your password. We know that for some people sharing a password is a sign of trust. It shouldn’t be. I tell people, I don’t want to know your password. Ever. That way, if your account is compromised and your information stolen I can’t possibly be a suspect OR have caused it inadvertently.
  2. Never enter your password if prompted to by email. Do not fall for “phishing” attacks. Be very careful following links asking you to log in, change your password, or provide any personal information. If in doubt, go to the website manually by entering the site’s URL into your web browser window.
  3. Store your passwords somewhere secure. Your brain is the most secure place but if you need to store it someplace else, password management software is your best bet. Post-it notes are not a good choice.

Password management software is a great choice for storing passwords. As well as storing all of your passwords most tools will store additional information such as website URLs and notes. Some even integrate with your web browser to save username and passwords when you log in to a secure site AND fill in your username and passwords when you return to that site.

There’s no doubt that password managers are extremely useful, it’s just up to you to try them out and find the one that has the features you specifically need! Type “password management software comparison” into your internet browser and you will find many articles with information to help you select the right tool for you. Here is a link to a good summary of some of the best free password managers:,2817,2475964,00.asp

Brad’s Choice: Most people will be fine using any of the choices from the chart above. At the IT Helpdesk we use KeePass as our password management software. We really quite enjoy it actually. It’s free, easy to setup and has an encrypted database, two factor authentication and loads of extra cool features.

Additional Resources

Betty White tells it like it is about passwords:

Password Tips:

Creating (and remembering) Strong Passwords:

Creating Passwords Part 2

May 2nd, 2016 by Arwen

Time to Create ANOTHER New Password – Part 2

Article written by:
judicious helpdesk employee and guest contributor Chris “the improver” Buechler

Leading up to the May 12 launch of VIU’s new password standard (go here for more info) we are doing a 3 part series that discusses passwords. Specifically, we are covering the three key things to remember when creating passwords:

  1. Use a password to access your technical devices
  2. Make the password strong
  3. Keep the password confidential

In part 1 we focused on adding passwords to your technical devices. This week, in part 2, we will discuss making strong passwords.

Make Your Passwords Strong

If having a password is the first line of defense, then having a strong password just improves your defense.

There are a number of characteristics that add up to make a password strong.

  • Length: 8 characters or longer is ideal.
  • Special Characters: including numbers, capital letters, and symbols increases the strength of your password
  • Unique: do not use the same password for everything. Use a different password for each account/device.
  • Pass phrases: string random words together to create easy to remember but hard to guess passwords. For example 0WhereAreMyPants0 or Unico4nsprinkleSfr$$ly.

As an added bonus pass phrases can be fun to create too! Here is a site that explains a great way to create phrases using 5 dice to pick random words: Roll the dice, get five words, and arrange them in a way you will easily remember.

If you want to check to see how strong your password is you can use a password checking site such as Kaspersky Password Checker or Passwordometer.

Using the above dice tool we came up with a password soonehymnalactswoods. It passes the password strength tests above BUT could still be stronger. SoOneHynmalActsWoods is better. SoOn3HymnalActsWoods! Is better yet.

Try it; it’s fun (at least for us geeky types).

Check Talk Nerdy to Me for part 3 of our password series; keeping passwords confidential.

Securing Portable Storage

May 2nd, 2016 by Arwen

Securing your portable storage

When making the decision to use a USB drive, an external hard drive, or any form of portable data storage (tablets, phones, and laptops included), it is important to consider “What if someone else gets a hold of this?”

Be it your roommate, family member, or some stranger who finds your USB drive left in a computer or your mobile phone dropped in a parking lot, keeping your information safe is an important consideration.

“But how do I protect my information?” you ask. “I have a password on my laptop, isn’t that enough?”

Well, no actually.

Having a password on your device is a good first step. A password on a device prevents someone from being able to log on to that device and browse through your computer or phone. Think of it like locks on a filing cabinet. If you lock your filing cabinet it prevents someone from getting in to your files and stealing your confidential information. However, if they manage to break into that filing cabinet they can now read all your personal information that you have in that filing cabinet.

So how do you keep your electronic data and files MORE secure than just a password? You use encryption!

But what is encryption? Good question. It’s a super complicated (technicians try to explain it to me and my eyes glaze over and I start thinking about cookies) process of encoding information in such a way that only authorized people can read it.

encryption device

Kryha-Encryption Device at the National Cryptologic Museum

Imagine that someone broke into your physical filing cabinet despite the lock you had on it. But, when they tried to read the confidential information in that filing cabinet it was all coded in a super complicated form of pig latin (or some other cool code or secret message format). Ha ha, jokes on them right?! And only you have the key to decode the secret message. This takes me back to childhood days of passing notes in class… but I digress.

Encryption is like creating a super secret code for your electronic information that only you have the key to. When you go to access your data on your usb stick or other devices, you enter your encryption key (password) to unscramble the information so you can read it, edit it, etc.

Some people may think of it as frustrating to have to enter a password before accessing their USB drive or their external hard drive. However not having your files or your sensitive personal or financial information dumped on the internet is probably worth it.

Many USB drives, external drives, and laptops can be purchased with some form of security/encryption software already installed. These will walk you through the initial set up and use. Windows has a built in version called BitLocker (     us/magazine/ff404223.aspx). If your device doesn’t come with encryption software already installed you can install one yourself. I personally use VeraCrypt for my home needs.

Most mobile phones also come with encryption settings available and all you have to do is set it up: IT strongly recommends setting up encryption on your VIU mobile phone to protect your information as well as VIU’s confidential data (think student information, passwords, employee information, HR files, etc).

It is always best to have a copy of your encryption key (password) in your Password Manager, lest you risk losing access to it forever. One model of secure USB I have used will lock the data permanently after 3 consecutive password fails! You can read more about password managers in our Talk Nerdy to Me article on Keeping Your Password Secure:

Some final pieces of advice: For work I generally make it a point to not use a USB thumb drive or external hard drive. I keep everything on my U-Drive or department shares. This has the benefits of both being secure, regularly backed up, AND I cannot forget my U-drive in my pants and run it through the wash (not so much with my last thumb drive). If you absolutely must use a usb or external drive, always keep a backup copy (but remember to only store it on a secure device like your U drive, a share drive, or a computer that is password protected and encrypted).



March 1st, 2016 by Arwen

Don’t be a Fish!
How to Avoid Taking the Bait and Keep your Account and Computer Secure by Avoiding Phishing Scams

Article written by:
witty helpdesk employee and guest contributor Brad “the lyricist” Martin

Alright, stop, collaborate and listen
IT is back with some new information
Something, we need to share with you rightly
A sweet bit o’ info daily and nightly!

Wow, sorry about that. Let’s bring the Vanilla Ice remix down some and kick the serious notch up a little bit because we’d like to talk about phishing emails.

What are Phishing Emails

We’ve all had those emails where we’ve clearly won the lotto but all that’s left to do is click that little link and enter our banking details to deposit it right? Spoiler alert, you didn’t win the lotto.

Disappointing, I know, I’ve been there.

This type of email is actually a scam and referred to as a “phishing” email and emails of this type are designed to attempt to steal sensitive information.

What information are they trying to get?

The answer is: any information they can.

Phishers are extremely talented at using little pieces of information to get what they actually want like in the example below.

A person received a phishing email that told them their mailbox was getting full and they had to log in to increase their quota. So they clicked on the link and entered their email username and password. This gave the phisher access to their mailbox.

At this point, the phisher now has the individual’s username and password. If that individual used the same password and username for other accounts, the phisher was well on the way to gaining access to multiple accounts. If that person had confidential email in their mailbox, the phisher now has access to that information.

But the phisher didn’t stop there. The phisher then gained access to the persons amazon account by requesting to reset the amazon password, which sends the link to the person’s mailbox (lots of companies reset passwords this way). Once the phisher got access to the persons amazon account they had access to their mailing address and credit card information.

With the above information the phisher is well on their way to being able to steal the person’s identity, commit credit card fraud, or access confidential information that may be worth a lot of money (for example if this was a work email account).

Okay, that got heavy. Let’s bring it back. Ice Ice Baby…

What’s the take away of this? Phishers want your information. Any of it. For a variety of reasons.

How do you make sure they don’t get it? That’s the easy part.

What to do When You Receive a Phishing Email at Your VIU Email Address

Now, what to do when you get one of these emails?! Superb question actually! We know your first instinct is to panic but surprisingly that’s actually not the answer. Don’t panic! It’s not as scary as it seems.

Most importantly, NEVER enter your username and password or your banking information after following a link from an email.

Here’s some additional fantastic guidelines:

  1. Report the email to our spam filter company. Simply select the suspicious email then click on the “Report As Spam” button (if available) in your Outlook.
    If the “Report As Spam” button is not in your Outlook as an option, you can simply delete the email for now. To have the button added, please open a ticket with us by emailing and include your computer name so we can add the software to your computer.
  1. Report the email to the IT Helpdesk only if the email is specifically posing as though it’s coming from a VIU email address or is in some way specific to VIU (ie: your mailbox is full phishing email).Forward the e-mail as an attachment to (the forward as an attachment button is located on the HOME tab in the Respond section under ‘More’).
    forwardemailIf it is just regular, common, easily identifiable phishing email don’t notify the IT Helpdesk. We don’t need to be aware of it.
  1. IMPORTANT! Report if you clicked. If you HAVE clicked on a link or attachment definitely submit a ticket to us at Please include the spam email as an attachment rather than just forwarding the e-mail itself (the forward as an attachment button is located on the HOME tab in the Respond section under ‘More’).
  1. MORE IMPORTANT! Change your password. If you have entered your username and password after clicking on a link from an email, change your password immediately. Then notify the IT Helpdesk by emailing

“Wow, that was helpful”.

I know, right!

BUT WAIT!! That’s not all!

How can that be when your mind has already exploded?? I know, there’s tons of value in this article but check this stuff out.

Did you know we have a page where you can view your blocked messages, view automatically deleted messages, add approved senders, as well as blocked senders? I’m not even joshing you. You can login to the page at with your standard employee computer account.

And finally, (still here?) for more information on spam you can take a peek at our handy dandy technology page located

Thanks for stopping in and taking a read. We hope to see you again and we’ll try to skip the corny Vanilla Ice remix next time. (Maybe).

VIU Password Standard

March 1st, 2016 by Arwen

New VIU Password Standard

On May 12, 2016 VIU implemented a new password standard.

How does this impact you?

Well, there actually isn’t a big impact. In fact the main change is actually a benefit. Frequency of employee computer account password expiration has improved! Employee computer account passwords now expire every 6 months instead of 2 months. Yay!

Additional changes include password complexity and password length. Starting May 12, 2016 passwords expire every 6 months, must be 8 characters, and must contain at least three of the following items:

  • uppercase letters
  • lowercase letters
  • Numbers 0123456789
  • Special characters

The other main change is that all VIU account passwords will expire every six months including employee stargarden (HR) accounts and student computer accounts.

What do You Need to Do

There are only two things you need to do because of this change:

  1. Read information about the new password standard and password requirements.
  2. Change your VIU account password.

That’s it.



For more information on which accounts are impacted and what the password requirements are you can visit the VIU New Password Standard webpage.

For tips on creating strong passwords and exciting information about storing passwords read the Talk Nerdy To Me blog post: Time to Create ANOTHER Password

For information on keeping your account secure read the Talk Nerdy To Me blog post: Don’t be a Fish. How to Avoid Phishing Scams.

Creating Passwords Part 1

March 1st, 2016 by Arwen

Time to Create ANOTHER New Password – Part 1

Article written by:
vigilant helpdesk employee and guest contributor Erik “the gatekeeper” Warrior

Every time we turn around we’re asked to create another password!

“Why do I even have to have a password? No one would want my information. I’m not important.”
“I don’t have any money, why would anyone target me?”
“I access my phone 20 times a day. If I had to type a password in each time that would be really annoying!”
“I have so many passwords, I can’t be expected to remember them all! I just put a note on my monitor.”
“Is this just a ploy by IT professionals to make us all crazy? Don’t they understand how frustrating this is?”

Trust me, we know how frustrating it is! We hear these questions and statements all the time. And, like you, we also have lots of passwords to remember.

Unfortunately, regardless of how frustrating they are, passwords are a part of our lives. Sort of like taxes. Thankfully, with passwords, there are really only three things you need to remember:

  1. Use a password to access your technology devices
  2. Make the password strong
  3. Keep the password confidential

Leading up to the May 12 launch of VIU’s new password standard (go here for more info) we are doing a 3 part series that discusses passwords. We will provide you tips for those three important items.

In part 1 we will focus on adding passwords to your technology devices. In part 2, we will discuss making strong passwords. In part three we will cover keeping your passwords confidential.

Have a Password on Your Technology Devices

We all have passwords on our accounts (because we have to) but what about our devices? All your electronic devices should have passwords including your mobile phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, usb drives, and external hard drives.

We don’t think twice about locking our cars when we park them or about locking our front doors when we leave the house. Unfortunately, we all too frequently leave our computers and devices defenseless without any password to protect them and the information they store.

Alarmingly, technology theft can cost us more than car or house theft. Look at these stats from a recent IBM/Ponemom Institute survey:

  • The cost of a record breach in education could be as high as $363 per record and there are over 24,600 records involved in the average breach.
  • There is between a 1 in 8 and a 1 in 12 chance of a security breach at any given university each year.

Record/information breaches happen more often than we’d like. The University of Victoria experienced this in January of 2012. Thieves targeted the payroll department in the Administrative Services Building and stole a number of electronics. Among them was an unencrypted USB flash drive. That flash drive held the names, banking information and social insurance numbers of all 11,841 employees on UVic’s payroll since 2010.

Had the flash drive been encrypted (ie: had a password to protect it) then the employee information would have been much more protected.

Read Talk Nerdy to Me in the upcoming weeks for part 2 of our 3 part password series; making strong passwords.

Personal Computer Advice

January 28th, 2016 by Arwen

Personal Computing Advice Column

Article written by:
innovative helpdesk employee and guest contributor Shane “the vanguard” Laviolette

We’re adding a new feature to Talk Nerdy to Me. We realize that (unlike us) you don’t always think about technology at work. That’s a good thing. You should be proud. I should stop waking up at 3am thinking about solving work related technology problems.

So we have decided to give you some tips and tricks for using your personal computer. These will include information about the latest operating system (windows 10), information about technology options and changes, and maybe some information on fun new devices.

Important Disclaimer: This is not VIU IT advice. This is the opinion of various “techy” people in our department. If you decide to try something and it goes wrong, please do not hold these people responsible. Also, VIU has not staffed the heldpesk to support personal devices. So if you want to try something suggested in these articles, you are on your own (remember: Google is always there to help you).

All right. Drum roll please.

And launch!

New Computer for Christmas.

If you are a recipient of a new computer over the holidays, Mac or Windows, you have access to some great free products through VIU. You can get Office 365 (Windows or Mac), and Symantec Anti-Virus Software (Windows or Mac). This is a great start for savings of the most common software needed on computers nowadays. Click HERE for more information.

For those users who want the best performance out of their new Windows computer, but want to make sure they can keep it free from Spyware and other bad things, I would recommend using the built in Security called Windows Defender and use these Other Tools to run from time to time yourself, to keep the bugs out. Make sure you uninstall the trial software that you get with the new computer.

Mac users can just run without anti-virus software and use this tool, ClamXav, for scanning to get the bugs out.

This information and much more can be found on our Working Off Campus website, found on Technology @ VIU.