Sunday, February 1, 2009

Google sponsored tools to help analyze network problems

Gooble has released a new tool called Measurement Lab to help internet users better analyze their connections. These tools will help diagnose network problems, including if your ISP is "throttling" certain types of traffic.

Official Google Blog: Introducing Measurement Lab
When an Internet application doesn't work as expected or your connection seems flaky, how can you tell whether there is a problem caused by your broadband ISP, the application, your PC, or something else? It can be difficult for experts, let alone average Internet users, to address this sort of question today.

Last year we asked a small group of academics about ways to advance network research and provide users with tools to test their broadband connections. Today Google, the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute, the PlanetLab Consortium, and academic researchers are taking the wraps off of Measurement Lab (M-Lab), an open platform that researchers can use to deploy Internet measurement tools.

Researchers are already developing tools that allow users to, among other things, measure the speed of their connection, run diagnostics, and attempt to discern if their ISP is blocking or throttling particular applications. These tools generate and send some data back-and-forth between the user's computer and a server elsewhere on the Internet...

Today, M-Lab is at the beginning of its development. To start, three tools running on servers near Google's headquarters are available to help users attempt to diagnose common problems that might impair their broadband speed, as well as determine whether BitTorrent is being blocked or throttled by their ISPs. These tools were created by the individual researchers who helped found M-Lab. By running these tools, users will get information about their connection and provide researchers with valuable aggregate data. Like M-Lab itself these tools are still in development, and they will only support a limited number of simultaneous users at this initial stage.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Web 2.0 Tool Directory

If you have teachers who are looking for different free, online resources to use with their classrooms, this website is fairly comprehensive and searchable by tag. While it's not education specific, I find that teachers are amazingly adept at finding the right tool for what they need, if they have some idea about where to start looking and why they might want to use that tool. The only other caveat--it claims to be the complete web 2.0 directory, but still not everything is listed there. Impossible to keep up, I would guess.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Security holes with orphaned accounts

A survey of 850 security/IT managers found that orphaned user accounts are more prevalent that expected: 42 percent do not know how many exist within their organization.

IT Exposes Ubiquity of Orphaned Accounts as a Critical IT Security Vulnerability
Other key findings from the survey include:

* Approximately 27 percent of respondents said that more than 20 orphaned accounts currently exist within their organization.
* More than 30 percent of respondents said it takes longer than three days to terminate an account after an employee or contractor leaves the company, while 12 percent said it takes longer than one month.
* More than 38 percent of respondents said that they had no way of determining whether a current or former employee used an orphaned account to access information, while 15 percent said that this has occurred at least once.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Screentoaster is a free application (currently in beta) for recording your screen. This is a great and easy tool when you need to show a process. For example, if you need to make a minor change to the computers, rather than typing out the direction step-by-step for your students and teachers, SHOW them. I've added my first attempt with ScreenToaster, which was just looking at the website. It was only after I completed the recording did I discover there was no audio with it. This is a feature that ScreenToaster is working on adding.

My video

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Now what do you want me to unblock?

As a network administrator, you may find yourself putting out fires. Then a teacher approaches you and wants you to unblock something else. Does it have educational value? Why does the teacher want this? Watch this 5 minute video on the networked student and perhaps you might understand that teacher a little better, even if he/she couldn't verbalize their own reasons.

The Networked Student or find it at Kathy Schrock's Blog

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Network Administrator

The Network Administrator is a website dedicated to computer professionals. Behold their tagline: "Blessed are the geeks, for they shall internet the earth." Bloggers contribute posts on a variety of topics for example, "Windows Vistas Upgrade: What to Watch out For," "Linux Adaptation Problem," and finally "Top 10 Holiday Geek Gifts." Number one on the list? A Wi-Fi Detector T-shirt: "The glowing bars on the front of the shirt dynamically change as the surrounding wi-fi signal strength fluctuates. Finally you can get the attention you deserve as others bow to you as their reverential wi-fi god, while geeky chicks swoon at your presence."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cell Phones are Evil?

Over and over again I see the issue of cell phone use in schools as one of banning them, rather than finding a way to teach their ethical and educational use during school hours. I know all of the challenges (or many of them) that cell phones bring to the classroom. It just seems to me that there has to be a better way of managing this tool than preventing students from using it. What would I do if I had to hide my cell phone all day, or sneak outside to send a text message? Granted, I might have a more fully developed pre-frontal cortex than most teens, but still. And as a teacher, if 90% of my kids have digital cameras they could be using for class projects at no cost to me or the school, why wouldn't I want to take advantage of that? Here's an article from Education World that addresses this issue in more depth. Bold type is my addition.

Crafting A Workable Cell Phone Policy
With so many families depending on cell phones, banning them from schools became pointless. Now the debate is how to regulate phone use in schools, as more students own camera phones and ones that can send text messages and connect to the Internet.

Just a few years ago, it looked like regulating cellular phone use in schools was getting a lot easier. Cell phones had become ubiquitous and innocuous, and making it a school offense or even a crime to possess them on school grounds didn't make much sense anymore.

But just as states and school districts were relaxing their policies, along came a new generation of cell phone -- with cameras, Internet access, and text messaging -- that it seems every teen must have. Now administrators are wrestling with how to permit the legitimate use of phones, while preventing possible privacy violations and cheating.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Role of the Network Administrator

While Educause focuses more on the university level, I thought this article from H. David Lambert best explained the recent and comprehensive shift in the role of a network admin. What this confirms for me is both the need to support network administrators in their work around the issues Lambert shares, and the need for additional technology integrationists to focus on the use of technology in classroom instruction. The impact of technology on schools has made this far too diverse a topic for one person to be able to manage it all.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lego Engineers

In the past year the Lego company has piloted a program to help kids ages 7-11 get a start in becoming engineers. They are providing a hands-on experience that allows kids to be active participants in their own learning. It requires students to think creatively, work as a team and problem solve throughout the process, all skills that are important to us in the 21st century.
Student create robots out of legos that are connected to a computer so that they move. The ultimate test is for the students robot to act as a goalie and keep a small soccer ball coming at them from entering the goal.
This technology was featured at the NECC '08 conference this summer in San Antonio and will be released to the public in January of 2009. For more information read the following articles: Lego Product Targets Youngsters Interested in Computer Engineering and Lego Education.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Internet Explorer 8 Beta Update

It appears that there is a "Good news/Bad news" scenario with the new beta of Internet Explorer. The good news is that compared to newest features of Firefox...

Internet Explorer 8 Catches Up Shows Improvements With Beta 2 - Webmonkey
So it’s no surprise to see that several of these features also pop up in IE8 Beta 2. There’s a smarter address bar, a better add-on manager, better ways to subscribe to dynamic feeds, and a new cross-site scripting filter. However, this is not just an example of cut-and-paste software development on Microsoft’s part. Whatever may appear to be a “me too” addition to the browser has been extended beyond the current model to incorporate some new innovations. It’s safe to say, at least as far as user-facing features are concerned, that Microsoft has not only caught up to the other browsers, but upped the ante.
The bad news, according to Infoworld, is that installing IE 8 can create uninstall problems:

Microsoft warns of IE8 lock-in with XP SP3 | InfoWorld | News | 2008-08-28 | By Gregg Keizer, Computerworld
Microsoft yesterday warned users of Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) that they won't be able to uninstall either the service pack or Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) under some circumstances. The warning was reminiscent of one Microsoft made in May, when Windows XP SP3 had just been made available for downloading. At the time, the company told users they wouldn't be able to downgrade from IE7 to the older IE6 browser without uninstalling the service pack.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

7 Things You Should Know About...

The EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative's (ELI's) 7 Things You Should Know About... series provides concise information on emerging learning technologies and related practices. Each brief focuses on a single technology or practice and describes:

  • What it is
  • How it works
  • Where it is going
  • Why it matters to teaching and learning
7 Things You Should Know About...pieces provide quick, no-jargon overviews of emerging technologies and related practices that have demonstrated or may demonstrate positive learning impacts. Any time you need to explain a new learning technology or practice quickly and clearly, look for a 7 Things You Should Know About... brief from ELI.

Second Life and Flickr are 2 of the 7 listed for 2008. Each piece of technology includes a PDF addressing the bulleted points above. You can access this via this website

Monday, August 25, 2008

Walled Gardens?

I thought I'd have more time to develop a "back to school" blog post, and then I realized that many of our South Dakota schools are already in session. In much of my "catch up" reading over the past few months, which I apparently should have done outside more as my husband looked at my pale skin the other day and asked if I ever got any sun, I've noticed that the concept of creating a walled garden, or a sandbox, for students has been getting more and more attention.

I am certain that the issue of access v. security is one that will continue to develop as we begin to take advantage of more and more online tools for learning. And I'm looking forward to the conversation--how do we best provide our students with all of the digital tools for them to be creative, innovative, problem solvers, yet ensure as best we can that they are using these tools in a safe learning environment?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Google Update

Many of us use Google Docs at work and in the classroom. Now you can use a new and improved Google Docs that lets you view pdf's. To see the complete story check out the Google Docs Blog. You may even want to add the Blog to your RSS feeds so you know whenever new changes occur within Google Docs.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Peter Reynolds names 6 Essentials

Peter Reynolds (The Dot) is one of my favorite authors and thinkers. He recently wrote an article entitled "Six Essentials to Foster Creativity and Innovation in the Classroom" which appeared in District Administration. If you missed it, you can read it online at :

He's celebrating the addition of ISTE's adding creativity and innovation to its standards, and then he offers his six essentials. I'll tempt you with part of number 5: "The very simple but humanly exquisite act of listening can change a life-even safe a life." He also offers a purchasing suggestion in #2 that will turn any PC or Mac into a Tablet PC...Well worth reading! maggie

Thursday, May 29, 2008

SMART Free Update on Interactive Response System

THE Journal reports on the update from SMART:

Smart To Update Classroom Response System in July : May 2008 : THE Journal
Senteo 2.0 adds features that allow it to integrate with Smart's Notebook collaborative learning software and that simplify the process of adding questions to lesson plans. Other new features include:

* Enhanced tracking functions;
* A "full-featured" gradebook;
* Support for meta tags associated with student names; and
* Various improvements to reporting and analysis features.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Microsoft to Continue XP for Schools

eSchoolNews reports that Microsoft has extended the deadline for schools/universities to get XP on new computer acquisitions:
Schools will have until 2009 to buy Windows XP
Microsoft will stop offering Windows XP in retail stores June 30, but at least two major computer manufacturers say school districts, colleges, and universities will be able to buy machines with the older operating system until January 2009, as Windows Vista—released last year—remains unpopular with many consumers.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008

Report: Linux Server Deployment Expanding

NewsFactor Network | Linux Ecosystem Spending To Exceed $49 Billion
IDC researchers predict that spending on the Linux ecosystem will rise from $21 billion in 2007 to more than $49 billion in 2011, driven by rising enterprise deployments of Linux server operating systems.

Linux server deployments are expanding from infrastructure Relevant Products/Services-oriented applications to more commercially oriented database and enterprise resource-planning workloads "that historically have been the domain of Microsoft Relevant Products/Services Windows and Unix," noted IDC analysts in a white paper commissioned by the nonprofit Linux Foundation.

"The early adoption of Linux was dominated by infrastructure-oriented workloads, often taking over those workloads from an aging Unix server or Windows NT 4.0 server that was being replaced," according to the report's authors, Al Gillen, Elaina Stergiades and Brett Waldman. These days, however, Linux is increasingly being "viewed as a solution for wider and more critical business deployments."

Microsoft Security Updates May 13

Click below for more detail on the patches:
Microsoft to patch four bugs on Tuesday
Microsoft today said it plan to post four security updates next week, three of them "critical," to patch Windows, Word, Publisher and all of the company's anti-malware applications.

Among the critical fixes will be one that quashes bugs in Microsoft's Jet Database Engine that go back as far as 2005. The other critical patches will close holes in Microsoft's word processor and desktop publishing programs.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Implications for installing Windows XP SP3

Found this headline on
Important information about Windows XP SP3 for Internet Explorer users
Important information about Windows XP SP3 for Internet Explorer users

You will be unable to remove IE8 Beta or IE7 after installing Windows XP SP3 because Microsoft wants to make sure that you do not encounter a problem commonly known as "DLL Hell".

IE8 Beta 1 users

You will NOT be offered Windows XP SP3 unless and until you remove IE8 Beta 1. This is because if you install windows XP SP3 without removing IE8 Beta 1, then you will no longer be able to remove IE8 Beta 1 and the Remove option will be greyed out in Add/Remove Programs.

Internet Explorer 7 Users

You will be offered Windows XP SP3 as a high priority update BUT if you install it you will not be able to remove IE7 without removing Windows XP SP3 first. It is recommended that you remove IE7, then install Windows XP SP3 then re-install IE7.

Internet Explorer 6 Users

You will be offered Windows XP SP3 as a high priority update. Windows XP SP3 ships with an updated version of IE6. No need to do anything else.