iTunes U

Very interesting post by Fraser Spiers about iTunes U. Take a look!

This could be very interesting and useful if/when we deploy some iPads in September! It seems to be able to take the concept of using the iPad for learning, rather than just learning to use an iPad. It also makes the case very strongly in my mind for having one apple ID per device; the whole iCloud ecosystem opens up for you in very useful ways.

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LGfL Staff Mail on OSX and iOS

WordPress is wonderful because it tells me all kinds of fascinating information, such as what people were searching for when they ended up on this site. And one quite frequent enquiry is regarding LGfL’s Staff Mail settings on a Mac. It’s really easy to set up and here’s how…

  1. You need to be running Snow Leopard (10.6) or higher.
  2. Open up Mail and add an email account. Enter your name and email address etc.
  3. On the next screen, select ‘Exchange 2007’ as the type of server.
  4. Put in mail.lgflmail.org as the server. Then put in your USO username and password.
  5. It’ll ask you about adding contacts and calendar for the account. These can be handy for auto completing addresses of your colleagues
  6. All done!

The settings are pretty similar for iOS. You just need to select ‘Exchange’ as the type of account when adding it in Settings > Mail, Contacts & Calendars. The domain is lgflmail. Easy!

Do post a comment if my instructions don’t make sense…

SMART Notebook 11

Whilst I am not the greatest fan of Smartboards, they certainly do have good customer service! After sending an email to them in Canada, asking of OSX 10.7 Lion would ever really be supported, they emailed me back to inform me of a soon-to-arrive Notebook 11 software. Amongst its other features, it has full Lion support (yay!). Hopefully they will still support 500 series Smartboards too, but that may just be wishful thinking on my part.

LGfL 2.0 attempt 1.0.1

Tomorrow we plan to revert back to our old Synetrix broadband. Now that’s what I call a broadband fail! The only advantage for the Admin network was faster broadband, but the downside was no access to Curriculum shared files and no VPN access from our second site. Not a great trade off if you ask me.

Instead we’re going to wait until the next holidays (April) and attempt it then, merging our Admin and Curriculum networks into one and extending our IP range to accommodate more devices as well. It’s a big job – let’s hope that it works better than the last time.

Sarbanes–Oxley Act and Lion

Ok, take that back.

Apple probably do have to charge for Mountain Lion because of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which basically means you can’t add additional functionality to something you’ve already sold.  They get around this with iOS devices because Apple account for them over 2 years in a subscription model – you get free updates because Apple treat it as if you’re still paying for it!  The Mac isn’t accounted for like this so thus they can’t do free updates.

Rats. Maybe it’ll just be a token cost?

Mountain Lion

So, Mountain Lion is coming this summer.  Woo!  I personally like how they’re unifying different ideas and sorting out weird inconsistencies between iOS and OSX (like making Notes separate rather than part of Mail, creating a separate Reminders app, and renaming iCal to just Calendar). Messages also is pretty handy, and now available in beta form.  The way it was announced was also interesting: no press event, but instead one-to-one presentations with key Apple writers.

My prediction is that it will be a free update to all users of Lion. The benefits of having everyone on the latest OS release far outweigh any revenue they may get from the update. iOS updates are free for this very reason.

LGfL 2.0 attempt 1.0

We had quite an ambitious but not unreasonable plan today of switching over our broadband at school to LGfL 2.0 by the end of the day. We nearly managed it, but with several large stumbling blocks.

We started out tackling our admin network, as they only have 13 computers and a server.  This was working quite well until we realised that users could browse the internet but couldn’t access any services from the server (such as shared documents and databases etc.).  Not good.  This is because LGfL 2.0 does web filtering by requiring each computer to use a given external DNS rather than a local one, or something like 8.8.8.8 from Google.  If you set the external DNS first, then you can’t see the server; if you set the internal DNS first, then you can’t see the Internet.  Aaarrrghhhh!

After several fraught conversations with Atomwide we eventually got it to work by getting the server’s DNS to forward external requests to the external DNS.  We had tried this previously, but we only got it to work by completely rebuilding the DNS.

After doing a second sweep of the Admin computers to check they worked properly, we moved onto the Curriculum network.  At first, this seemed pretty straightforward as the old proxy server could be turned off on the PCs with a judicial tweak of the Group Policies and the Macs could be adjusted by pushing out the following commands using Apple Remote Desktop:

networksetup -setwebproxystate Ethernet off
networksetup -setsecurewebproxystate Ethernet off

Bargain.  Changing the DNS settings on the server seemed to be a little more straightforward and soon the Internet was up and running successfully.

Sophos on OSX proved a little more tricky to fix, as I couldn’t convince it to change its preferences with Workgroup Manager.  Instead I had to log onto each machine and put in the new update URL, which is now as follows:

http://sophos10.lgfl.org.uk/escosx

The next big problem then struck, in that the Internet connection was flaking out.  It would sometimes connect, but would then timeout repeatedly.  We tracked down the problem to the fact that both the Curriculum and Admin networks were plugged in at the same time (not unreasonable!).  We’re still awaiting a fix on this from Atomwide, so in the meantime we’ve switched the Curriculum back to our old provider.

LGfL 2.0 install tomorrow

Tomorrow I’m helping our genius technician do the switchover of our network to LGfL 2.0. I sure know how to spend a half term!

LGfL 2.0 is a London-wide project where they’re switching over broadband from BT cables to Virgin Media instead. This is an epic undertaking, but from our end it just means that they install lots of new routers and firewall boxes and then let us do the physical switch-over when we’re ready. (In a slightly ironic twist, Virgin Media don’t actually have any fibre-optic cables in our area so we had to use BT’s anyway.) We did a little test a few weeks ago and the speeds are about 4x faster – yay!

The main difference with the setup at school is that there no longer is a proxy server for web filtering but instead Virgin Media’s DNS server blocks or lets sites through. We’ve got our own internal DNS server so hopefully we’ll just have to change the settings on that rather than for every machine. I’m also hoping that a Apple Remote Desktop UNIX command to all the Macs should be enough to turn off the proxy server settings. But we shall see!

iMovie haters?

I’m probably alone in this, but I find software like iMovie amazing. As a teen making films on a Hi-8 camera, we had to edit either in camera with some judicial timing of the record button or try and stitch clips together with a hopelessly inaccurate VHS machine. We then graduated to using a two-deck VHS assemble editor when at Sixth-form college, which gave us the semblance of accuracy. The pinnacle of control was filming with Super-8 and then manually splicing together film, holding up frames to a lightbulb (hello burnt retina!) to find the perfect cut. So the fact you put together a video in iMovie insanely quickly is pretty insanely great.

When Apple ditched the traditional timeline with iMovie ’08, there was much uproar. Admittedly iMovie ’08 lost quite a lot of features and was a bit confusing, but over the next few updates it regained its skills and took things further. Tools like the precision editor and the advanced ‘cutaway’ option when inserting a clip let you do things that would be fiddly and confusing when using an older ‘timeline’ editor. I’ve never used Final Cut Pro X, but I can completely see why they’ve taken the iMovie ideas and extended them.