Tech Notes - January

Topics: e-mail groups, Sierra, iPad 4, phishing...

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E-mail groups follow-up

A recent tech note provided an overview of account automation and the impact on e-mail groups. The issue with staff being on building e-mail lists when they are associated with a building for an activity such as coaching has been resolved. Those previous notes still provide a useful overview of how our account automation works and how to create fitering rules in Outlook.
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Frozen in time

Frozen MacBooks degrade the battery. If left in a cold place long enough (such as in a car overnight) the device may have trouble starting up, or lose the correct time. A device without the correct time will not connect to the network.

A recent update allows you to fix the time yourself (previously this was not allowed). Click the date and time area and choose "Open Date and Time Preferences" to view the clock and correct the time as needed. If you still need assistance, contact the help desk.

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macOS Sierra

If you are still on the El Capitan operating system on the Mac, please upgrade to Sierra. The upgrade is available via Self Service. Please make sure files are backed up prior to running the update. Contact a building tech if you need any assistance.
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Phishing Training

We will be running another phishing test sometime in the next month. Just a reminder to remain vigilant, and if it looks fishy, it probably is.
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iPad 4 replacement cycle

This summer, we will collect all 4th generation iPads throughout the district. This model is currently in use predominantly in Kindergarten classrooms and amongst Pearson staff, but there are about 600 still deployed throughout the district.

Replacing this model is part of our normal replacement cycle (we expect to get about 4 years for cart and staff use iPads; 3 years for 1:1 deployments). It also no longer supports the latest version of the iPad operating system (version 11 and up).

Not every collected device will be replaced. We will redeploy new iPads (or iPad minis from stock) based on classroom and staff needs and current deployment practices. Kindergarten carts will remain at a 2:1 ratio.

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Classroom Audio-Visual Survey

Please take a moment to complete the classroom audio-visual survey.

The purpose of the survey is to get a better sense of how our current systems are used and to get some feedback on what's next for our classrooms. We want to be mindful of certain realities, including: The significant shift in staff and student devices over the past few years, the aging fleet of SmartBoards and digital projectors, and the increasing costs and compatibility issues with newer versions of Smart Notebook software. We would like classroom staff to have a voice in what comes next and how we can make any change a smoother one.

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E-mail Quarantine

Occasionally you may receive an e-mail with a list of quarantined messages. These messages have been flagged as possible spam. The system holds onto these messages for about 15 days, then deletes them.

If a message looks legitimate, choose the "Release to Inbox" option; it will then be delivered. To help in better training the spam detection the system, there is also an option to "Report as not junk". After choosing this option a few times, the system learns to start allowing certain messages to go through without being quarantined.

To check the current list of messages sitting in quarantine, you can go to this link:

Microsoft has some helpful notes on how to go through the quarantined messages, release them, and search through them if you have a lot.

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Adobe Flash Troubleshooting

If you are having trouble with websites that use Adobe Flash, here are a few things to try.

First, make sure you have the most current version of the Adobe Flash software. Log into Self Service, Search for Flash, and run any available updates.

Safari browser

If Flash content is not working (usually it will ask if you want to enable Flash; choose Yes and reload the page if it does), follow the instructions here:

Chrome browser

In the Chrome browser, it is less obvious that Flash is being blocked. To check and fix this, follow the instructions here:

Please note that these fixes usually need to be done for each website or page for which Flash is being blocked.

Why won't Flash just work?

Basically, Flash is outdated and full of security holes. Adobe is slowly phasing it out, but there is still a ton of content out on the web that uses it. It is so despised as a piece of software that there are websites dedicated to eliminating it, and publishers like Google (who make Chrome) offer minimal support for it. Moreover, it has never been supported on Apple iPads or any device running iOS.

Why does this affect us so much?

Well, to editorialize for a moment: Because schools depend on content produced by companies that are not always the most technically savvy. They already have our money and aren't in any hurry to update their content to meet current technology standards and practices. So, we work around the problem as best as we can. We can (and should) contact any publishers who provide us outdated materials and urge them to update their content to more current standards (such as HTML5).

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Other notes, reminders, and upcoming projects

K-5 iPad passcodes: Settings changed for student-use K-5 iPads to prevent setting a passcode; it is not needed and codes were being set and then forgotten.

Room Booking System: The cart and Learning Commons space check-out calendar seems to be working pretty well. Notes on how to use it can be found in the August newsletter.

Laserfiche updates: We will be doing upgrades to our Laserfiche software. Most staff will not be affected by this.

HS Student MacBook swaps: Students who were originally assigned an 11" MacBook will have the opportunity to swap it out for a 13" MacBook Air this February. We have a surplus of 13" MacBook Air devices from last year's graduates that can be reassigned, and can then auction off the 11" devices per Board policy.

Credits - January 2018 Tech Notes

Frozen thermometer: Clipartpanda.

macOS Sierra icon: Techhive.

Outlook logo: Windows Central.

Dilbert comic: Dilbert, IT Security Central.

Billy Mays: quickmeme (mildly NSFW)

E-mail quarantine (spam) image: Difference Between