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Feedback on Office365 outage

Friday, January 25th, 2019

On Thursday, 24 January, from 10:30 to 22:00 Outlook users across large parts of the world were left without email. A major outage affecting, among others, South Africa, South America and Europe was caused by a technical problem at one of Microsoft’s data centres in Europe. 

Subsequently, all Stellenbosch University staff could also not access their email. Connectivity to Microsoft Exchange was restored Thursday evening late and staff and students were able to access their emails again. For a full report from Microsoft on the incident, click here 

Keep in mind that cybercriminals could use incidents like these to launch attacks on email users. Neither Microsoft, not IT will ever ask you to reactivate your Microsoft account or divulge personal details.

Please take note that, in instances where email is unavailable, our Twitter feed will be used as the main communication channel and the latest updates will be posted on the feed. For any inquiries please contact the IT Service Desk at 021 808 4367 or log a request on the ICT Partner Portal.

The blurry line between private and professional

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

Microsoft recently released a plug-in which integrates information from your social network pages, for example Facebook and LinkedIn, with your Outlook client.facebook

At face value this seems like a good idea – a handy piece of software which enables you to keep up with you friends’ doings. It can also provide valuable information on potential clients.

Unfortunately it could become problematic when your professional colleagues and contacts have access to information which could cause you potential embarrassment. 

Most Outlook users use it as a professional e-mail platform. With OSC (Outlook Social Connector) you share your personal information with your professional network, possibly without even knowing. The line between professional and personal life suddenly seems a bit blurry.

If you’ve installed OSC, your social network information will be displayed at the bottom of the Outlook window in a small People Pane. The software extracts information from your social network profiles based on the e-mail addresses you have associated with the profiles.

This information can include profile photos, status updates and your most recent posts. The information will be displayed even if your e-mail address is hidden from other users on your social network. 

Your social network information can, depending on your security settings, be seen by OSC users you send mail to, even if the OSC user isn’t necessarily a Facebook friend. The visible information displayed in the People Pane BEPAAL by the e-mail addresses you have linked to your social networks and the privacy settings on your social network accounts.

To avoid that your personal information is seen by your colleagues through OSC, remove your work address on all your social network profiles. Also make sure your privacy settings is set up so OSC can’t pick up your information. For example, set it up in such a way that your information is only visible for friends and family and not publically displayed.

Preferably use a separate address for personal e-mails and try to use your @sun address only for work related correspondence. Rather create a Gmail address.

Besides causing embarrassment, sharing personal information can also result in serious ethical and professional repercussions. Remember, any OSC user can potentially, through e-mail, see all social network information linked to that account. Without you knowing, you might share more with your colleagues than you think. 

OSC is available for Outlook 2003, Outlook 2007, and Outlook 2010 and integrates Outlook’s e-mail functions with social network applications such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Windows Live Messenger and MySpace. 

IT strongly advises users NOT to use OSC as the risk involved are much higher than the benefits it promises.





Regret sending that e-mail?

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Maybe you are extremely irritated with a colleague, or worse, your boss and want to vent your anger. So you send an e-mail.

Practically just as you press the send button, you realise it might not have been such a great idea.  For all the hotheads out there, we might have a solution for you. That is, if you use Gmail.

In June this year Gmail activated a function called Undo Send. If you make a typo or regret sending a message, you can undo the action by enabling Undo send. This setting gives you the option to take back a message you just sent.

To enable Undo Send:

  1. Click the gear in the top right .
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Scroll down to Undo Send and click Enable.
  4. Set the cancellation period (the amount of time you have to decide if you want to unsend an email).
  5. Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

If you had Undo Send turned on in Gmail Labs, your Undo Send setting will be on by default.

To give you time to undo, Gmail delays sending the message for a few seconds. Under the Undo Send function you can also set the cancellation period to 1, 3 or 20 seconds.  Once that window of time passes the email is sent normally and cannot be undone as it is already transferred from your mail server to the recipient’s mail server. If you don’t select Undo within the time limit, your message will be sent.

Just take note that Undo send may not work if you experience connection issues.

For all the Outlook users out there, don’t despair. Outlook also has a function to recall messages. Just as with Gmail there are also limitations as to what you can do with the recall function. The success or failure of a recall depends on the recipients’ settings in Microsoft Outlook.

For example, if the message has already been read by the recipient, it will not be recalled. If it has been delivered, both the new and old message will be in the recipient’s mailbox. However, the recipient will be informed that you, the sender, deleted the message from his or her mailbox.

For full instructions on how to use Outlook’s recall function, click here.




Put some power in your Powerpoint and Outlook

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Next week’s Powerpoint and Outlook training is especially for all the Tygerberg users.

If you want to put some power in your presentations or learn how to optimise your Outlook usage for more than just sending e-mails, join us at Gerga on the 22nd and 23rd.

Intermediate Outlook 2010:  22 October  

Customizing Message Options, Organizing and Locating Messages, Setting Calendar Options, Tracking Activities Using the Journal, Managing Tasks, Sharing Folder Information, Customizing the Outlook Environment

Intermediate Powerpoint 2010: 23 October

Getting Started with PowerPoint, Creating a Basic Presentation, Formatting Text on Slides, Adding Graphical Objects to a Presentation, Modifying Graphical Objects in Presentations, Working with Tables, Working with Charts, Preparing to Deliver a Presentation.

To enroll, just follow these easy steps. No registrations can unfortunately be done by the IT Service Desk on behalf of staff.


New procedures for setting up Outlook on Android causes confusion

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Since the recent Exchange upgrade a few people have been confronted with a few unusual questions when trying to set up Outlook on their Android phones.Fortunately the process is less intimidating than it seems at first glance.

After the standard Outlook setup on your Android (click here for the full instructions),  Activate device administrator” will appear, prompting you to select a long list of options, for example Erase all dataChange Screen unlock passwordPassword recovery . Do not be alarmed as this is standard for setting up Exchange/Outlook on any Android phone. This just indicates what the app is capable of doing. Other cell phone operating systems include the same settings, but it’s not always displayed to the user when the programme is being installed.

The text being displayed is therefore standard for the specific Android application – IT has no control over the text it displays. It is also standard practice at various universities using MS Exchange.

One of the options is – Erase all data: Perform a factory reset, deleting all of your data without any confirmation. This option in particular led to many questions. If we look at the Exchange implementation, it’s very clear that the only person who has access to this function and can actually wipe the device, is the mailbox owner himself.

These and other advantages  and additional e-mail functionality, is available to Android users on In webmail, under Options -> See All Options -> Phone -> Mobile Phones there are various functions available:

Sync Logging: Enables you to look at the synchronisation of your phone, to select what you want synchronised, which servers should be used, etc.

Remote Wipe: With this option, you can wipe your phone’s data (contacts, photos, etc.) if it ever gets into the wrong hands. The phone will then be reset to it’s default factory settings. ONLY the registered e-mail user will have access to this function, no one else has access.

Details: Shows exactly which devices is linked, model, software versions, etc. 

Delete Device: This removes the connection between the Exchange and the selected device. If you initiate this via webmail, the person who has your phone will not be able to reinstall the mailbox. Your data stays protected.



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