Bits & Bytes
from Information Technology Services

Introducing The Student Body and a New Design

I believe everybody has a story to tell, and it’s our goal to give them a voice.

Those are the words of my boss, Will Mahan, describing our newest project here at Campus Media. It’s called The Student Body, and you can see it running now on the digital signs around campus. The goal of the project is to give a platform to all Missouri State-West Plains students who otherwise typically don’t have their voices heard around campus. The concept is simple: A photo and a quote from the student.

The first group we photographed for The Student Body was Nathan Ferree’s game art class in Lybyer 103. Seven students in the class agreed to take part, and their slides will be running on the signs in pairs through next week. We plan to continue adding students to the project with time, so if you happen to be one of the lucky few who get chosen to be part of The Student Body, that’s what’s going on.

We’ve been selecting students to be featured on The Student Body at random so far, but if you’d like to take part, send us an email at ShowMe (at) MissouriState (dot) edu, and we’ll try to work out a time, or send us your name, your best selfie, and a brief quote — we’ll put it up as long as it’s appropriate and meaningful. If you go the latter route, please keep your quote limited to two brief sentences.

The new project launched with another major project of ours that we just wrapped up: A complete redesign of the digital signage system. The new design features a redesigned ticker that shows only one story at a time for easier readability. In addition, the content areas have been resized and rearranged so that they make a lot more sense on our end. There’s also a new content area up top where we’re currently showing volunteer opportunities for the Grizzly GiveBack and similar content.

This post was rather short, but if you have any ideas for this blog, the digital signage, or any other Campus Media project, let us know at WPCampusMedia (at) MissouriState (dot) edu.

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It’s Update Season

It’s autumn, and for the past few years, that’s meant the time of year where your phone and computer change a little. This year was no exception, with big updates for Windows, all of Apple’s operating systems, and Android.

Microsoft was a bit ahead of the pack this year, releasing Windows 10 in July, undoing what many considered to be mistakes in Windows 8 and focusing more on the keyboard-and-mouse experience than touch. The update also includes a more traditional Start menu and includes Microsoft’s new Web browser called Microsoft Edge. If you haven’t updated already, the update is available for free through next July as long as you’re on a valid version of Windows. If you don’t update by then, you’ll have to pay the upgrade price of $119 if you still want it. An update to Windows phones to match the desktop release will be available this fall for most Lumia devices.

Apple released new versions of all three of its three operating systems in September. iOS 9 came out on September 16 with minor design tweaks, a new News app, a rebuilt Notes app, improvements to Apple Maps, and improvements to Siri and search. Apple also claims that devices will run faster on iOS 9 and may receive up to an hour of extra battery life. All devices that run iOS 8 can update to iOS 9 for free, so grab it now if you haven’t already.

Next came updates to Apple’s watchOS, the operating system powering the Apple Watch, with watchOS 2 on September 21. The update includes a couple new watch faces and improvements to many others, including Time Travel mode, which lets you use the Digital Crown to show the watch face at a past or future time. Apps will also see major improvements because apps can now run natively on the Watch rather than having to pull everything off of the paired iPhone. watchOS 2 is available as a free update.

On Wednesday, Apple released OS X El Capitan for Macs. Many of its updates match those on iOS: a redesigned Notes app, Apple Maps improvements, design tweaks, minor enhancements, and performance improvements. In fact, the most telling sign you’re running OS X El Capitan is to check for the new system font, which also came to iOS. Apple introduced a variant of the San Francisco font originally used on the Apple Watch to be used on iOS and OS X. OS X El Capitan is available as a free update in the Mac App Store.

Finally, Android 6.0 “Marshmallow” is slated to arrive this fall. Like iOS, the focus was more on enhancements than new features. However, users will now be able to choose which permissions to grant to an app, a feature called “Doze” which promises greatly improved battery life when you’re not using the device, and support for fingerprint recognition. Android Marshmallow will become available for free this fall for some devices, but it’s up to your manufacturer and carrier when (if ever) the update will arrive for your Android phone.

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Fixing the Digital Signs

Over the past few weeks, you might have noticed your friendly neighborhood Campus Media Services team taking TV’s down from the walls and doing other seemingly crazy things around campus. That was part of a major project we just completed involving replacing lots of hardware and software on our Digital Signage system, the system of displays that shows you the latest campus news and events in all campus buildings.

Over the summer, the Digital Signage system experienced failure after failure because the computers running each display couldn’t handle the software we use to show our signage. We wound up having to replace some of the computers altogether, and others just needed a fresh install of Windows. Thus began a three-week project to get every computer back up and running, since we couldn’t realistically do any work on slides for the Digital Signage if half of the signs were down.

On Friday, we finally finished the project once and for all, when we installed Windows on the last couple of displays at Shannon Hall in Mountain Grove. In all, we replaced or upgraded a total of 16 computers, and they all do a much better job of staying up and not failing.

Our Digital Signage system shows us which computers are alive and connected to the system using hearts — if it’s working, the heart is green, and if not, it’s red. When I started work here at the beginning of the month, sometimes about half of the hearts would be red, and no machine would stay green for a long time. Now, every heart is green and stays green, and we’re very proud of that. (It’s not every day you hear someone express pride about green hearts, is it?)

Now that all of the signs are working, if you’d like to see a certain campus event or organization on the Digital Signage, especially on the Mountain Grove campus, feel free to send us an email at WPCampusMedia [at] MissouriState [dot] edu. We’d be more than happy to make a slide and put it up for you. And a reminder to our friends in Mountain Grove: The signage belongs to you, too! We’d love to have more Mountain Grove campus events on the signs alongside West Plains events. Just let us know.

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Shining a Light on Flashlights

Apps are amazing, but unfortunately, sometimes they take advantage of their users. This is a problem especially on Android, where as of now, users can only grant all permissions an app requests or none at all. That will change in Android Marshmallow, where users will be able to select which permissions they’d like to grant to an app, but until you get the update, there’s potential for your privacy to be compromised if you aren’t careful. One source of the problem is something that seems innocent: flashlight apps.

So far, there has been only one major incident involving flashlight apps. The maker of the former most popular app on Google Play was forced to settle with the Federal Trade Commission following an investigation which showed that the company was stealthily gathering location data from its users and selling it to advertisers.


Luckily for iPhone and iPod touch users, iOS includes a built-in flashlight button in Control Center. If you don’t know how to get there, just swipe up from the bottom of the screen and tap the flashlight at the bottom, shown above, to turn it on or off. The button only turns the LED flash on the back of the device on or off, and doesn’t do anything sketchy like some of the Android apps. Some Android phones have a similar built-in flashlight feature, but it’s up to the manufacturer to include it.

Beyond that, though, it’s been up to Android users to sniff out any sketchy flashlight apps and avoid them. So how should Android users keep themselves safe? There’s no reason to panic, but there’s always reason to be cautious. Don’t download apps from sources other than Google Play, and no matter where you get an app, be sure to check through the permissions it’ll request before you install. Most importantly, with any app, ask yourself: Does a puzzle game really need access to my microphone? Does a flashlight app really need access to my location? Asking yourself simple questions like those can go a long way toward keeping you safe.

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Mobile-Friendly Homepage

The campus homepage is changing to a new mobile-friendly format

With the recent trends showing a rising majority of users viewing University websites via mobile devices, the University started a project of converting webpages to a more mobile-friendly format. Utilizing the mobile first paradigm, developing webpages to be optimal on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets and then making them scaleable to notebooks and desktop systems, the University started revamping the layouts of our webpages.

Many of the campus websites have already been converted to the mobile-friendly format. The Springfield campus switched the homepage to a mobile-friendly format between the Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 semesters. Now has the time has come for the West Plains campus homepage to switch to the new format as well. Below is a screenshot of the prototype of the new mobile-friendly homepage layout.

Screenshot of the new mobile-friendly homepage layout.
Screenshot of the new mobile-friendly homepage layout.

Major Changes:

BearPass Tab:

The most notable difference for faculty, staff and students is the removal of the BearPass tab in favor of the new BearPass link and menu. As seen in the screenshot below, when the BearPass link is clicked a new menu will pop down revealing links to different systems that utilize the BearPass login.

BearPass Link and Menu
BearPass Link and Menu.

New Main Menu:

Another change is the addition of the Campus Visit menu allowing a more focused grouping of links for prospective student and visitors.

Screenshot of the Main Menus.
Screenshot of the Main Menus.

The new mobile-friendly homepage should be available beginning August 31, 2015.

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Campus Media Services is Hiring!

Update: The Campus Media Services Assistant position has been filled. Thank you to all who applied!

Campus Media Services wants to hire you!

Campus Media Services (CMS) has an opening for the CMS Assistant position.

This is the perfect opportunity to earn extra cash, learn skills you cannot get in a classroom, and maybe have a little bit of fun.

Campus Media Services is nestled in the heart of Missouri State-West Plains’ Information Technology Department. It’s a great work environment filled with fun, knowledgeable people who are ready to work with you. Best of all, sometimes there are donuts!

Duties of the CMS Assistant include, but are not limited to:

  • Maintenance of the digital sign system
  • Media management
  • Recording video
  • Editing video
  • Conducting interviews
  • Graphic design
  • User support
  • Bits & Bytes blog updates

What you get from us:

  • Unique work experience unavailable anywhere else on campus
  • Great work environment
  • Friendly, knowledgeable co-workers
  • Challenging projects that will allow you to flex your creative muscle
  • Exposure to elements of campus life that you might not otherwise experience
  • Flexible hours
  • Donuts! (sometimes)

What we need from you:

  • Self-motived
  • Willing to be challenged
  • Eager to learn
  • Able to work within a team
  • Willing to interact with the campus community
  • Willing to occasionally work during after-hours events

Technological aptitude is a plus.

Experience with Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Blender, After Effects, Premiere Pro or other types of design software is preferred, but not required.

Basic understanding of computer programming and web development is useful, but again, not required.


  • This is a Corps of Opportunity position. All Corps of Opportunity requirements must be fulfilled before you can be hired.

To find out how you can become part of the best team on campus, send us an email.
Better yet, come visit our offices in-person in Lybyer 108. Ask for Will, Kris or Grayson.

We are looking forward to working with you!

Will Mahan
Campus Media Services Coordinator

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Microsoft Student Advantage Program

Missouri State University is happy to announce the new Microsoft Student Advantage program. Because of the University’s enterprise agreement with Microsoft, students are able to download and install Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus desktop applications at no additional cost. This gives students the latest version of Office.

Where can I download Office 365 ProPlus?

Instructions for installing the software and managing licenses are available on the Experts Wiki page Office 365 ProPlus for Students Download Instructions. You can use Office 365 ProPlus on up to 5 devices. Downloads are available for the following operating systems:

  • Microsoft Windows
  • Apple OS X
  • Mobile devices, including iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows Phone

Students can find download instructions for Office 365 ProPlus at:

Who is eligible?

Any student who is currently enrolled in classes at Missouri State University. Faculty, staff, and alumni are not eligible for this program.

What benefits does Office 365 ProPlus provide?

  • A digital download of Office 365 ProPlus to install on PC/Mac for up to 5 devices
  • Office 365 ProPlus stays up to date with the latest releases from Microsoft (currently Office Professional Plus 2013 for Windows and 2011 for Mac)
  • Office Mobile access for iOS and Android devices
  • Create and store documents locally on your computer
  • Connect your student email account to the Outlook desktop client, opening more features to use with your email and calendars

What software can I download?

ProPlus Applications

For Microsoft Windows, you can download the full suite of applications. This includes Microsoft Excel, OneNote, Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Access, Publisher, and Lync.

For Apple OS X, you can download Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac, which includes Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote.

Mobile Office 365 for iPhone, iPads, Android, and Windows phone devices can be used to perform limited editing of Microsoft Word and Excel documents and can view documents.

What happens when I graduate or leave Missouri State University?

Once you have left the University, your Microsoft Office ProPlus subscription will end and the software will no longer be usable.

Resources to learn Office products

Microsoft IT Academy

Missouri State University full-time staff, faculty, students, and alumni can access free online training through Microsoft’s IT Academy. See the Microsoft IT Academy page for information and to request access to Microsoft IT Academy.

Microsoft Online Tutorials

Training for the 2013 applications can be found at Microsoft Office Training site.

Questions? Contact the Lybyer Help Desk

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How to make your device water resistant!

What it is.

Lots of people in this new day and age seems to have a smartphone of some sort. These phones can vary in many ways, such as better hardware or arguably better software. A few companies such as Nokia even boast the toughness of their products. But no phone can say that it survives water exposure easily. This is where liquipel comes into play. Liquipel is an agent that creates an invisible layer of protection that repels water on both the outside of the device and on the inside.

How it is done.

To make your phone water resistant, you can send your phone or other desired electronic device to the Liquipel headquarters in Santa Anta, California. From there, the phone is placed in a chamber that has all the air sucked out of it to create a vacuum in the chamber. Once there is no air left in the chamber, the phone is coated with the water resistant material.

How much is it?

The treatment currently costs $60 and only covers a select few models. It covers almost all iPhones, a few of the newer Samsung Galaxy models, lots of HTC models and only a few Motorola smartphones. The company also offers treatments for tablets, headsets and computers. For a more comprehensive list of supported models and devices follow the link to the Liquipel site and it will take you to the pricing and the lists of supported devices.

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Tiny Suicidal Drones

Hello To All,

Aerial drones have become a household name in the past few years. I would like to express my views on this new technology. I liken it to the new technology that started with the Wright Brothers first flight in 1903. Orville Wright piloted the first powered airplane 20 feet above a beach in North Carolina. The flight lasted 12 seconds and covered 120 feet. We have come a long way, since that day, with aviation technology. Airplanes have benefitted humanity in many ways. We are able to reach all over the globe in mere hours instead of months. Nations with superior air power generally win whatever wars in which they may be involved.

Unfortunately, there are downsides to aviation. We have seen this with the Kamikaze pilots of WWII and the September 11th atrocities in New York City, not to mention the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended WWII and the lives of several hundred thousand people in one bombing run. I have personally read testimonies of some pilots that flew bombing missions in wars of past. They said they would drink alcohol to help them try and forget the lives of the innocent people they were taking.

We now have this new technology that enables an aircraft to fly without a pilot in the cockpit. This is a great technology and will save the lives of many pilots. These unmanned aircraft still need a pilot, though. It is more like playing a video game than piloting an aircraft. These ariel drones have become small enough to where anyone can build one in their home or garage fairly cheap. The army is working on a “Lethal Miniature Aerial Munition System, LMAMS for short. This aircraft is designed for one reason, to kill. This is a one-time suicidal drone. It will be piloted either by human means or by a computer using GPS technology. It is designed for quick missions to take out specific targets. The Army needs it to stay aloft for a half hour at most and fly up to six miles. They want to be able to destroy the intended target without taking out unintended targets. But, like their larger brothers, these tiny aircraft may be used to kill innocent lives.


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