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Information to Run Your Program
July 2015
In This Issue
ACEware Employee Spotlight: Cheryl Scott
Oh, SHA! Your Secure Website May Not Be
Summertime - and the Learning is Easy!
Christmas in July
Selecting Values for your Queries
Last Chance to Register for Student Manager Intermediate Training
ACEware Employee Spotlight: Cheryl Scott
We thought it would be neat to really show what ACEware Systems is made of: A great staff. This month, we picked Cheryl Scott to exemplify this.

Cheryl came to ACEware nearly 14 years ago (her work anniversary is next month). She wears many hats in the company, and holds so has many titles. Cheryl usually refers to herself as a  Technical Writer and Support Technician. Her duties include being the webmaster, ACEweb testing, and managing the demos.

In her role as a Support Technician, Cheryl has four customers assigned to her full-time. She also helps any customer with ACEweb as a backup to that school's regular tech. With her extensive knowledge of ACEweb from all of the testing she does, Cheryl helps other techs find fixes and workarounds to any issues they run into with ACEweb.

Cheryl holds a certificate in Business and Office from Drumright, Oklahoma Vo-Tech.  She also worked for five years in the Professional Education department at Oklahoma State  University, where she oversaw all paperwork related to clinical experiences, student teaching, and teacher certification.

Cheryl and her husband, Terry, celebrated their 14th anniversary this year. They have three daughters and one son.

Cheryl enjoys gardening, doing puzzles, reading, and cruising. She is excited when she is able to get anything to grow. Terry and Cheryl will be on another cruise this November.

Contributed by Matthew J. Olson and Cheryl Scott
Oh, SHA! Your Secure Website May Not Be

If you are a the operator of an interactive website, particularly one involving e-commerce applications such as ACEweb, one of your primary concerns should be preventing outside parties from, "listening in," on the communications between the end user and your site. You also want to ensure that when a user enters your URL in their browser that they really are directed to your site - and not hijacked to another location for some nefarious purpose. The customary way to achieve those ends is by using the HTTPS protocol, which provides authentication of the website and encrypts the data being transferred to and from your server.  Most browsers signal an HTTPS connection by displaying a padlock icon in front of the address.

 

To establish a secure connection on your server, you install an SSL certificate, purchased from Certificate Authority.  HTTPS can be thought of as HTTP with an S for SSL (which in turn stands for Secure Sockets Layer).  And just to add to the acronym confusion, the newest versions of SSL are officially named Transport Level Security, or TLS. SSL/TLS encrypts your connections and verifies that your users have connected to the real website.

 

But there's a problem. Most certificates rely on something known as SHA (Secure Hash Algorithm) for encryption, but the most widely used version (SHA-1) is getting less secure all the time. How can that be?  Well, it was always theoretically possible to break an SHA encryption if you ran enough computers for a long enough time.  Ten years ago, it just wasn't feasible to put together that much computing power, but now that computers are faster and cheaper, the risk of attack is increasing.  One researcher estimated that, by 2018, the cost of forging a certificate could be easily afforded by an, "organized crime syndicate".

 

There is a newer, more secure algorithm (cleverly known as SHA-2), but it is estimated that under 20% of web sites have made the switch away from SHA-1. In an effort to overcome this inertia, several major players in the industry have put forth plans to phase out support for SHA-1. Microsoft has announced that its servers and browsers will stop supporting SHA-1 at the end of next year (2016).  The same goes for Mozilla (makers of Firefox).  Google has upped the ante - the Chrome browser will already warn users when they hit a site using a SHA-1 certificate whose expiration date is too far in the future:

Authorize.net, a pay service used by many ACEware customers, switched their servers to SHA-2 at the end of May.  For some customers this meant updating their own servers, to ensure that they could validate SHA-2 certificates and thus make the Authorize.Net connection.  This did not necessarily mean installing SHA-2 on their own site (though some customers did that), but it did necessitate upgrading older versions of SSL.

 

We encourage all ACEware customers with secure websites to check the status of their certificates and make plans to upgrade to SHA-2 if you have not already done so.  This site has a handy tool for checking certificates: https://shaaaaaaaaaaaaa.com

 

Contributed by Stein Goering

Summertime - and the Learning is Easy!

It's hard to concentrate in July. The sun is bright, it's warm, we're watching things grow, people (and maybe you're one of them) are going on vacation. Most of our customers are actually quite busy in the summer with special programs, conferences and camps. So, this July, we're going to make the learning easy with five very short, very focused, topics.

 

Every Wednesday, 2:00 in the east, 1:00 central time, we'll concentrate on all there is to know on one topic in 30 minutes or less.

  • July 1 we'll tackle making Student Manager 8 searches faster.
  • July 8 we'll show you in a few short minutes how to set up your favorite reports button so that it makes reporting a snap.
  • July 15 we'll talk about Matthew's new SMS tool that will handle those winter storm cancellations with a text message right to the participant's smart phone.
  • July 22 is a special treat: Cheryl has developed a new tool for creating HTML emails that is super simple and will make those 4th of July fireworks look dull in comparison.
  • July 29th we'll show you how to give your instructors access to record their attendance and grade information in Student Manager so that you don't have to do all that data entry.

Here's a bonus: registering for one of these webinars registers you for all five. Right there - 80% less work right off the bat!

 

There's a little something for everyone in July, and the time it takes to learn about these resources is minimal. Why not take a few minutes and join us for at least two or three of the topics. You never know: what's hot in July might be sizzling in October.

 

Contributed by Lauri Thompson

Christmas in July

We know our customers. You're constantly thinking ahead, never really on vacation, and always in search of a good deal.

 

At ACEware, it's Christmas in July! We're bundling up some of our most popular services and modules to allow you to increase what your Student Manager and ACEweb can do for you.

 

Let's start with ACEweb. How long has it been since you took a real good look at your site? (Be honest.)

  • Is it looking as good as it could?
  • Are your customers finding it easy to navigate?
  • Are you sharing additional courses that your customers they may like based on their interests?
  • Do you know what IS possible with ACEweb?

One of the best gifts you can give your program is an ACEweb consultation and makeover! Treat your ACEweb to a spa treatment from an ACEware web professional and receive outstanding recommendations to improve your site for your customers.

 

Purchase an ACEweb Consultation and Extreme Makeover for $1,000 and receive the Course Packaging Module for $995, a savings of $500. This popular module allows you to bundle your own registrations to offer your students package deals like BOGO. It's a great promotional tool for your programs. With your consultation, the ACEweb expert will provide a list of recommendations for your site and together you'll decide what will be completed. A list of training resources is provided with the installation of your Course Packaging Module and your ACEware technician will follow up with you to answer any additional questions you might have.

 

If you've recently had an ACEweb makeover (applause, applause!), we'll offer you some of our web modules to further accessorize that new look. Get the Calendar Display Module AND the Course Packaging Module for $2,490. That's $500 off the list price. As always, a list of training resources is provided with the installation of your modules and your ACEware technician will follow up with you to answer any additional questions you might have.

 

Two great package deals for July offered at our lowest prices ever. Why not make an investment that will add new opportunities to your programs?  Contact your tech when you're ready to purchase!


 

(And with prices increasing in 2016 this is a great opportunity to shop ahead to get additional modules at a great value!)

Enjoy Christmas in July from ACEware!


Contributed by Sharon Brookshire
Selecting Values for your Queries
Most of you know about the ellipses to the right of the value box on queries. It opens up a listing of all the possible values the query can do.

Sometime in the early days of 7.2.A, someone asked me if I could show the course title in the listing for queries. I took on the challenge and came up with something like this:


What makes this even more usable is that you can right-click inside the list and it reorders the courses by their course number. This makes finding a course number a lot easier.

Someone saw this and then ran a query for an ID number. They wondered if I could make the query value box show course numbers, could I also show the name of the student? Fifteen minutes later, I had something like this:


Again, the right-click inside the box does order the listing by name. Now you can quickly find the name ID for someone without knowing the actual ID number.

This is available in version 8.0.023 and newer. Get with your tech if you need to update to take advantage of this cool, little tool.

Contributed by Matthew Olson

Last Chance to Register for Student Manager Intermediate Training

There are a few open seats available for the July 23-24 training at South Carolina State at Orangeburg.  You'll get a comprehensive review of Student Manager 8 basics then dive into running queries and reports and using the many utilities available. Two days full of small group, hands-on training and you'll return to campus with new tools and ideas to help you run your programs!

 

Register now! Email sharon@aceware.com with questions.

 

Contributed by Sharon Brookshire

Happy 4th from all of us at ACEware Systems!

- Chuck, Sharon, AJ, Cheryl, Chris, Emily, Jason, Lauri, Lindsey, Matthew, Mike,  Stein

About Aceware

ACEware provides comprehensive registration software designed for non-credit programs.  

Our goal is to provide you with the tools you need to run your program.

 
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