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The Central Midwest District UUA merged in 2013 with the Districts of Heartland and Prairie Star to form the MidAmerica Region of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
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TIP: Check Your Links

Advice tidbit #22.5 -- It’s very helpful to test all the links you add to documents – best if you actually go there and copy and paste from the address bar in your browser. If you think you don’t have time, consider the time you’ll have to spend making corrections.

TIP: Where's My Domain?

This is the kind of scam that is often atempted with yellow-pages ads. Business owners see those all the time. You'll get an official-looking invoice in the mail. Somewhere in a relatively obscured spot it DOES say it is a solicitation and NOT a bill, but you do have to be alert and aware.

fake domain renewal invoiceEnlarge the photo at left (right-click then select VIEW IMAGE) and you'll see how official this stuff can look. Fortunately, the organization in this example knew enough to ask their tech person what the heck this "bill" was. It probably goes without saying that this "company" is easy to pin down as a fake, especially after a quick internet search.

Knowing who your suppliers are is always helpful. No matter the size of your congregation, make sure that someone knows where your domain name is registered, when you expect to receive billing, and from whom. Many domain registrar companies these days offer an automatic renewal option. I recommend using this kind of service when it is available to you. Forgetting or neglecting to renew a domain name usually results in losing that domain. It happened to my own church after the first volunteer who was in charge of the site neglected to renew. The organization had to settle for a less-than-obvious new domain name, re-do all printed materials that had the lost domain on it, and deal with a variety of other annoying side-effects. Protect your domain names!

Peace,

Gretchen
Technology Coordinator
MidAmerica Region UUA

Tip: USE STRONG PASSWORDS

Gretchen2011-by-AaronYes, I intended to "yell" in the title. I'd like to pass along a link to a UU Interconnections article that talks about how to prevent having your congregation's phone system hacked (or your e-mail account or ...)

http://uua.org/interconnections/interconnections/199690.shtml This happened to a congregation in our District!

At times I think it's not a matter of whether you will get hacked, it's only a matter of when. As my partner says, "there are two kinds of sailors: those who have been seasick and those who will be." When one of the CMwD sites was hacked in 2011, it prompted us to a review of all our site passwords. We changed every single one of them to more complex combinations of letters, numbers and symbols. This is something we can't stress enough. With so many of us "living online" via our e-mail accounts, websites, blogs, and mobile devices, setting up and keeping track of strong passwords is a talent we're all going to need sooner or later.

While I was speaking with some colleagues the other day, I head someone say, "well, if you've been hacked, that means you're important." I hope that was tongue-in cheek because the reality is hackers don't need a reason or a big target. They will do things like create robots that scour the web for a particular vulnerability they can exploit, and if your site has it, you're going to get it. It's like con artists preying on the needs and concerns of the elderly: find a week spot and attack that. So, thinking you're immune because you have a small church website isn't going to keep you safe and sane.

Another password horror story: I know of a business who bought a used computer from a competitor who was having an auction. Not only did they leave accounting info on the machine, their password was, you guessed it, "password." Cute but obviously ineffective. The business wiped that hard drive prior to using it so the sensitive data went no farther than that.

In the immortal (at least on TV) words of Sheldon Cooper, "1234 is not a password!!!!" [Ed. note: and 6789 is not a pin number! LOL]

Websites: Content Management Strategy

While attending workshops on web Content Management Systems this week, among the things I saw emphasized again and again was something called "content strategy." It brought me back to what Laura Massey of the West Plains (MO) UU Fellowship had said about content: "You need to carefully consider the content of the Web site. It’s content, not fancy graphics or special effects, that really makes a successful site."

So what does that mean? A panel of workshop presenters had these thoughts:

Always keep the GOAL in mind. First, look at what you're trying to accomplish, then develop your strategy. What's the difference between a plan and strategy? A plan takes place in a closed system. In other words, event A, then B then C occur, with no allowance for additional factors. Strategy allows for a dynamic system -- one that responds to changes in users' needs or new situations. EXAMPLE: When social networking (like Facebook and Twitter) arrived on the scene, there had to be a way to integrate those into the strategy. Content was now appearing in multiple venues and often needed to be in different forms.

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Facebook and Some Thoughts on Privacy

The UUA's "One and One" newsletter came through the other day with One Useful Tool: the UUA page on best practices for Facebook. http://www.uua.org/communications/facebook/index.shtml You can subscribe to the "One and One" newsletter by e-mailing: one&one@uua.org.

One of the things I find most frustrating about Facebook is not their frequent format changes but the apparent inability of its search engine to find pages or groups that you know are there. My first recommendation is to ask the people I'm searching for to send me a direct link. Beyond that, I've had better success just using Google to search for the name plus the word "Facebook."

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