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Microsoft Teams performance tips

Tuesday, July 6th, 2021

Many SU staff members have experienced lost connections during a Teams meeting or sometimes have technical glitches such as poor or broken voice connections. With this short article, we provide some tips to ensure that your next Teams meeting has minimum disruptions. The tips are split into three categories:

  1. Good practices
  2. Preparing for a trouble-free meeting
  3. Steps to take if you experience a poor connection

The good practices include:

  1. Regularly shut down and restart your PC – at least once a day. The shut down and restart cleans the PC of processes taking up resources. A good habit is to shut down at the end of the workday, and start fresh in the morning.
  2. Regularly run updates, ensuring that the operating system and applications are up to date. This should happen almost automatically on University owned PCs.
  3. Regularly run virus checks.

Preparing for a trouble-free meeting – especially important if you are the host or presenter for a meeting:

  1. Close all unnecessary applications.
  2. Test if you have sufficient Internet bandwidth available. You can do this by running an Internet bandwidth test at Speedtest by Ookla – The Global Broadband Speed Test.
    For voice only and sharing images you need less than one MB/second. For sharing applications and using your webcam, you need between 1 and 2 MB/s.
    For video you preferably need 2 MB/s.
  3. Test if your PC has sufficient resources.
    For Windows 10 press Ctrl + Shift + Esc.
    For a Mac the equivalent is the Activity Monitor: Press Command+Spacebar to get the Spotlight search field. 
    Start typing “Activity Monitor.”
    The CPU usage percentage should be under 50% and memory usage below 60% before you start MS Teams.
  4. If your MS Teams app was open before a meeting, quit and start MS Teams again at least 10 minutes before your meeting.
    To do this right click the Teams icon on the task bar and Quit, then start again.

5. If you share your Internet with other users (e.g. at home), ensure that the others know and do not hog the Internet connection. (e.g. do not play video, stream content, run updates).
Turn the camera off and use audio only if  the speed test or PC resources tests did show limitations.

6. If you are the host or presenter and have doubts about your Internet connection, rather work from your office on campus where you are unlikely to run into limitations. Use Ethernet (a cable connection to your router) rather than Wi-Fi if you have Ethernet available.

7. Have a second device with Microsoft Teams as a standby, e.g. a mobile phone with an LTE data connection. Practice switching devices so that you are familiar with how it works before you host a meeting.

Steps to take if you experience a poor connection:

  1. Turn the camera off if it was on.
  2. Turn off incoming video: (last item under the three dots menu).
    You will still be able to see shared screens and comments.

3. Switch to another device as a last resort, for example MS Teams on your mobile phone or tablet.

Adjust your font size

Wednesday, April 7th, 2021

Are the characters in your emails suddenly substantially smaller than a year or two ago? Not? Then you are clearly still too young. For the rest of us – you know who you are, I see you squinting at your screen – there is a solution.

We all know you can change the font of your text in Outlook, for example. The only problem is that the receiver on the other end will have to also read your email in Tahoma size 16. Ideally you should only use a font size of 11 or 12 whether you work in a Word document, in Teams or compile an email. Instead of changing the default font in your applications, there’s another way. 

  1. If you are working on a laptop or tablet with a touch-pad you can access the Text Zoom function by stretching two fingers away from each other. This will activate the zoom function and whatever you read on the screen will be enlarged.
  2. If you are not working on a laptop or don’t have a touch-pad, open a new email (or reply to one) go to Format Text on your Outlook menu bar and select the Zoom option. It will give you the option to enlarge the text up to 200%. (See below) 

        3. The same can be done if you have a mouse with a scroll wheel button to adjust text zoom level (see below)

      4. Not all apps support the Text Zoom by using the touch-pad or Ctrl + mouse wheel. Here is another method for Windows 10 if you want to change the size of text, apps & other items for all Windows apps, other than just Outlook & MS Teams.  Just right-click anywhere on your desktop. Select Display Settings and choose the % you want to enlarge it with.

If you are still struggling you are welcome to log a request for one of our technicians in the ICT Partner Portal.

FindTime add-in for meetings

Wednesday, April 7th, 2021

If the responsibility of organising meetings often falls on your shoulders you will know that it could be a challenge to find a time which works for everyone. Fortunately Microsoft has found the solution with one of their Office365 ad-ins.

FindTime is an optional add-in which simplifies the process of finding the appropriate date and time for a meeting between colleagues. It’s particularly useful when there are attendees from non-SU, external companies. 

With FindTime the organiser creates a voting poll where the available dates and times are listed. The attendees can then vote for the times and dates which suit them best. 

When the poll is compiled the following functions are also available:

  • to create the meeting automatically as soon as everyone agrees on a time and date;
  • to immediately book the date in your diary;
  • to receive updates on the voting poll when someone votes; 
  • to close the voting poll so that no other times can be suggested and 
  • verification by PIN. 

The FindTime add-in can be installed in Outlook 365 (for web-based email, the Outlook client or Apple OSX). If external people are invited to the meeting it’s not necessary for them to use Outlook – everything is done through a link sent by FindTime.

You can install FindTime yourself from the Microsoft website or log a request on the ICT Partner Portal for one of our technicians. 

[ARTICLE BY ARLO KOEN]

SUNLearn support for students

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

Are you a Matie? Then you use SUNLearn.

Face-to-Face SUNLearn Support for students is now available at the IT Hub on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 09h00-17h00.

Do you need assistance with:

  • SUNLearn access and log in issues?
  • Basic SUNLearn site navigation?
  • Accessing courses and course materials?
  • Knowing what to expect when your assessments are due?
  • Struggling to submit an assignment or find your Turnitin report?

Then set up an appointment today by sending an email to: angunge@sun.ac.za

We also offer weekly webinars for basic SUNLearn training for students on Tuesday and Friday at 18h00.

To make a booking for individualised SUNLearn assistance and support, please email angunge@sun.ac.za

Before you leave …

Monday, November 30th, 2020

The December holiday is almost here and especially this year, we’re all looking forward to escaping for a week or two. But before you leave, there are a few things you can do now to ensure that your return is seamless. Here are a few tips: 

  1. Activate your Out of Office function on your sun.ac.za Outlook mailbox and indicate in the message when you will be available again in case someone needs to contact you. Also, indicate who will be responsible during your time away and add their email address to your Out of Office.
  2. Make sure that your relevant work-related data is accessible for usage by your colleagues while you are away. However, do NOT give your password to colleagues when as this poses a security risk.
  3. If your sun password might expire during your holiday, rather change it before you go. If it expires while you are away you will be locked out of your account and it will cause unnecessary stress to deactivate it in January. 
  4. If you receive a phishing email on your sun account over the holiday and clicked on links or typed in your username and password, your account may be compromised. Immediately change your password at www.sun.ac.za/password and log a service request on the ICT Partner Portal. Your device will then be checked and scanned after the holiday. Remember that you can also report spam directly to Microsoft by using the handy Report Message function in Outlook.
  5. Information Technology will also be closing, like the rest of the University, on 24 December and opening again on 4 January. If possible, please log your IT requests as soon as possible before you leave. If you have a critical problem, it might be difficult to assist you a day before you leave or on the last Friday since suppliers also close over the festive season.
 

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