Friday, May 20, 2011

300 new units-to soon too panic?

I have had a 5 days to let the happiness subside about the 1:1 proposal being approved.  Things didn't go as smoothly as I had hope, but when it came down to it, the project was approved.  I want to thank Alan Hansen and the handfull of teachers who came out to support this project and understand the importance of this project.

On Wednesday, while I was working on the school website, I had a sudden crash of reality.  I just had 300 new units approved and they will be arriving in the next two months and need to be ready to rock on August 15th-BREATH!

Scary yes, but not nearly as exciting as the prospect.  I have had numerous elementary teacher ask me when they can get their hands on and iPad to "play" with it before school.  I have had phone calls from community members both thanking and scolding me.  For those of you thanking me, your welcome and you are going to see a fundament shift in how we do business in our building.  To those scolding me about the cost, I am sorry about the cost, but you are going to see a fundament shift in how we do business in our building.

We have to change the way we teach our students and also change the environment in which they learn.  The days of preacher teacher were dead 10 years ago, but sadly, today they still exist.  This is not a fault of the teacher, what they did worked, so it will continue to work.  That is not the case anymore, our students have fundamentally changed.  Attention spans of seconds, brains overstimulated with TV, Pop Culture, and music.

What the 1:1 will allow us to to do is give the instant satisfaction that students today need.  I stumbled across a very simple video explanation of what I believe is part of the problem that many students are facing today.  Its not so much the students are bored, we just can't reach them when they have cell phones pinging in the pockets.

Now their are skeptics that say that students with laptops will just play games all day.  Take it from me, computers are more than just glorified game consoles.  Computers can help to engage students, allow them to multi-task at will and engage themselves and all parts of their brain.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Nervous and excited, is there really a difference?

The past 7 years I have had to go in front of our board and ask them to spend money on things they are not all quite familiar with.  Technology can be a confusing and complicated discussion when the people you are presenting it to are not familiar with the technology.  I have been fortunate in the past, my 1st year as Tech Coordinator we had a new Superintendent who was a Tech Coordinator before he got his administrative position.  One thing that he taught me was how to present technology to the board.
I would get caught up in explaining what the technology did and not how it enhance instruction or benefit the users.

Here I sit on the day of the 1:1 Laptop Initiative going over my notes, trying to make sure that I focus on the benefits, not the build of the program.  In the pocket I have an Apple rep all equipper with a slideshow and movies to help me and hopefully get this last year of planning to become a reality.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

MacDefender Spyware appears via Website Attacks

I had read about a more sophisticated Malware named MacDefender that was using Safari to attack and infect some Mac machines.  What was interesting was the method that is typically applied to Windows OS.  Typically what would happen is if you used a search engine like Google, Yahoo, or Bing, to name just a few, there are tricks that hackers can use to infect websites without the web sites owner knowing that it has happened.

The way search engines work, is when you type in a search, the most popular and relevant responses are listed first in the order.  In these malicious attacks, hackers can use search engine optimization (SEO) to their advantage to trick search engines into listing the infected sitess at the top of the list.  How they do this is beyond me but serves as a reminder that even if the site is at the top of the list, doesn't mean its the best choice.

What happens next is the user will click on a link to a website and they will be taken to the website.  Typically what will happen is you will see a screen that looks similar to this 
If you notice on this picture, it is the screen that you would typically see if you are taken to a compromised website.  First off, its a web browser, look at the top and we can clearly see its Safar, so this is like a really really sophisticated PopUp Ad.  Typically you can stop the attack here by simply closing the window.  However, in Safari there is a setting that will allow files to be downloaded and run automatically.  If that happens, the installer will run and you can simply quit the installer, delete the installer files, empty the trash and you should be ok.

So what if you installed MacDefender?  Follow the following steps to get rid of the software

1. Open Activity Monitor from the Utilities folder. Set the drop-down too "all processes."

2. Use the search field in Activity Monitor to search for MacDefender.

3. Click on the MacDefender process. Click the "Quit Process" button. Click "Force Quit."

4. Drag the MacDefender program (installed in the Applications folder by default) to the Trash. Empty the Trash.

5. Remove MacDefender from the Login Items for your Account in the OS X System Preferences (if it exists).

That's it for removing the spyware MacDefender from your system.  

They key to all of this is paying attention to the websites you are viewing.  There are 2 things that you should do to help prevent this from happening agains.  
  1. Do not allow downloads to run automatically.
  2. If you are searching the web and come across a similar popup.  Simply close the window and cancel any downloads.
If you follow these two steps along with running up to date anti-virus, you should be alright