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Canvas Insider Newsletter - Issue 5 - May 2022
Information, skills, and perspectives to improve your relationship with Instructure’s Canvas LMS.
CP’s CI Non Sequitur
The definition of non sequitur is, “something said or written that is unrelated to what immediately precedes.” My previous four newsletters have contained tips pertaining to Canvas. In your Canvas Insider Newsletter punch card, for every four communiques with Canvas Tips, you get one free big-picture tech tip newsletter!
A funny thing happened along the way to creating this newsletter…
Just like every typical workday, I powered on my work macOS computer and entered my strong password to sign into my user profile. The password was not accepted four times in a row. This irked me. I’m a tech. I know my password. I type it multiple times a week. It has become muscle memory. My caps lock key was not on. I was not able to access my work computer. This was not good.
When I originally got my work computer, I created two admin-level accounts, my daily driver (UserA), and another user profile solely used for backdoor access to my work computer in case something happens to my daily driver profile (UserB). I signed into UserB and attempted to reset my UserA password. No luck. That was unexpected, but I didn’t have time to get grumpy. I needed to get access to my work email and take care of the morning activities. So I created another admin-level account (UserC), created a new strong password, signed out of my UserB account.
First time signing in with the UserC account, I get a brand new user profile with default settings. None of the customizations and modifications in my UserA account was available. It was like starting over from scratch. I checked my work email and took care of my morning tasks. Lucky for me it was a non-chaotic start to the workday.
Now that I had a working user profile, but didn’t want to go through recalling and implementing all my customizations and modifications to this new UserC account, I signed out and tried signing into my daily driver UserA account just for giggles. My password was accepted on the first try. And immediately my usual work desktop, and all its customizations, were once again made available to me.
That was a 15-minute “Oh, Crikey!” moment. I was facing a lot of unplanned work in getting my UserC profile working like my usual account. I didn’t have to deal with that thankfully, but it raised the important question that is the topic of this month’s newsletter:
What if you can’t sign into your usual user profile on your work or personal computer?
The Reactive, Stress-Inducing Method
If you are saying to yourself, “Chris is a tin-foil-hat lunatic who always talks about the worst-case scenario. That would never happen to me.” …that’s okay with me. But my 15-minute Oh, Crikey! moment might happen to you someday. If you don’t think about it, let alone do something about it, and you suddenly can’t access your work user profile, you’ll most likely be forced to contact your workplace’s IT support who, if you are able to reach them live-time, will ask you a bunch of intelligence-insulting questions like, “Have you turned it off and on again?” and “Have you reset your password?” and “Have you installed any software or made any changes to your computer outside of the standard configuration?”
…and then you will have to wait until IT support can work you into their overwhelmingly-busy schedule to “take a look” at your computer. Visualize numerous hours, perhaps days, of not being able to access your files saved in your computer’s user profile, of software installed “outside the standard configuration” that is ubiquitous in your workflow, and all your web bookmarks.
The Proactive, Preparatory Method
Consider these steps when your work computer is functioning fine:
Ask your IT support to create a secondary local account on your work computer for emergency access purposes only. If you are granted this request, login to this account once a month and attempt to replicate your primary user profile environment with all your necessary software applications, web browser settings, and other utilities that you use on a daily basis. Remember, you are not using this secondary profile to do daily work tasks, this is only to be used in case you can’t access your daily driver user profile…and are in a tight spot.
Once a month, export your web bookmarks to a cloud-based storage resource or a simple USB flash drive. If you ever have to hop on another web browser to perform your work tasks, it will be a huge comfort to import your bookmarks.html file and hit the ground running versus recalling all your saved websites from memory.
Move files stored on your user profile’s Documents, Music, Videos, Photos, and Downloads folders onto a cloud-based storage resource or a simple USB flash drive. When I couldn’t sign into my daily driver profile, I also couldn’t access my work files stored within my profile. Yikes.
Write down a list of the software applications, utilities, web browser extensions, and any other techie items you use on a daily basis. Store this document on that cloud-based storage resource or a simple USB flash drive. When you are experiencing elevated stress levels in having to set up a new user profile, having this list will help you not have to ask yourself what software you need to install on this new profile.
An hour or two of work ahead of time might provide a quick backup plan, should you encounter some abnormal results with your frequently-used user profile. While this is mainly focused on your workplace computer, I also recommend the proactive, preparatory method for your personal computer as well. What would happen if you couldn’t login to your home computer? What files, pictures, and other data might be lost? My hope is that a situation like that never happens to you, but it never hurts to at least think about, and take time to consider the response to address, the what-if doomsday scenario.
Check out the Canvas Insider podcast on whatever podcast app you choose to use. Helpful reminders, words to the wise, tech tips beyond Instructure’s Canvas LMS, and public service announcements!