Friday, September 11, 2020

September 2020 Technology Update

 FMX: Report Summary for August 2020 is below. As of September 11, 2020 there are 10 open requests.


Directions on using FMX:1. Go to https://loganelm.gofmx.com. 2. There are 3 login boxes. Click on the "Log In with AD FS" gray box. 3. Enter your email address (first.last@loganelm.org) and your password that you use to access your email. Click on the "Create Request" button in the upper right corner and choose the type of request you need to add. I have added the "Log on with Google" for students. They only have rights to create tech requests. They cannot complete maintenance or field trip requests.

The site is very intuitive to use. If you have any questions or need assistance, click on the "Help & Updates" link in the bottom left. There are training videos and a FAQ.

Chromebook Assignments/Labels: Thank you to everyone that had a hand in getting chromebooks to students. It was a huge task getting over 1600 chromebooks distributed to students. To keep our chromebook inventory software updated, please let me know if you reassigned a chromebook to a student. I want to keep the inventory as accurate as possible, especially if there is a damage to a chromebook. We do not want to send a bill to the wrong household if the insurance was not purchased. Also, if you need a label printed for a chromebook, let me know. I can print labels and send them via interoffice mail. Kim Glick can print labels for high school students.

Extra chromebooks: If you have extra chromebooks in your room, please send them to your building tech or principal. I have been distributing chromebooks to buildings for loaners/new students. I will need to get chromebooks unassigned and ready as loaners or new students.

Chromebooks for new students/loaners: Beginning Monday, September 14, your building tech (principal at Salt Creek) has chromebooks for new students and daily loaners for chromebooks in need of repair or if a student forgot to bring it to school.

Student tech requests/One2One Manager Kiosk: I have setup FMX for students to enter tech requests (unblocking websites, Google account issues, non-hardware related issues). They can go to https://loganelm.gofmx.com and click on "Log In with Google. They only have access to tech requests. If a student has a broken chromebook, they can go to the building tech or create an incident in the One2One Manager Kiosk. The URL is https://apps.learn21.org/LoganElmOH/one2one/Kiosk#MatchAssignment. They will need to enter their student ID or email address and the asset tag number of the chromebook to enter an incident.

Copier Proximity Cards: We are experiencing a lot of proximity card failures for the copiers. So far, I know of 7 cards that we have had to replace. I spent an hour with a copier repairman at Laurelville troubleshooting the issue. It turns out the cards are of poor quality and they will be replaced. When the new cards arrive, I will be sending them out to everyone. They will need to come down and reprogram the copiers to accept the new cards. I am hoping they will let us keep the current cards and you can keep a spare or use the old card until it dies.

Tech Status: I have added a tech status area on the Technology page of the website. I will post known issues with any of the services that we utilize. Go to loganelm.org and click on Technology under Departments in the top right corner.

Friday, July 31, 2020

August 2020 Technology Update

Chromebook distribution: Chromebooks and adapters are ready for distribution on the first day of school for grades 5-12. I will be pulling adapters and placing them inside the carts at the elementary buildings. I should have this finished by August 14. There is a label with student name (last, first) and grad year in the upper corner where the cart tag sticker was previously located. 

Copiers: We have new copiers! We have added PaperCut software to track our copier usage. PaperCut uses your active directory username/password for authentication. To speed up the process of logging in, we purchased proximity cards. I will distribute cards to each building and principals will distribute cards to their staff. Programming the card is very easy. Simply walk up to any copier and place your card in close proximity to the reader. The copier will display a message that the card needs to be programmed and asks you to login. Enter your username/password. After a successful login, you will receive a message that your card is programmed. The next time you walk up to a copier, simply swipe your card to use the copier. If you send a print job to the copier using the "Print to ANY copier" driver (devices joined to active directory), you can pick up the job at any copier in the district. This will be very helpful for personnel that travel throughout the district. We do not have any labels or markings on the cards, other than the pre-printed number in the corner. Please let your supervisor know if you lose or misplace your card! The reason for not placing any identifying labels on the cards is we may be able to use them for access control in our new building.

Desktop computer replacements: I will be replacing 25 desktop computers. I have started purchasing large, widescreen monitors as well. My goal is to have all desktop computers with WiFi and large widescreen monitors by the time we move into the new building. Currently, we have 150 desktop computers throughout the district.

Blocksi: Blocksi has five components. The first is for systems administrators to track chromebooks and provide details on the chromebook inventory. The second component is for teachers. It allows you to view and control student screens. They have added a video conferencing solution that is very intuitive and you can control/interact with your students much easier that with Zoom or Meet. The third component is for principals. They can get reports and monitor usage. The fourth component is for students. They can join classes and view their activity on their chromebook. The last component is for parents. They can setup access control (how long their child is on their chromebook and forbid logins after certain hours), enforce a stricter filter (i.e. block YouTube) and view their child's web history. If you would like to know more about Blocksi, click on this link to a YouTube video. Blocksi uses Google SSO, so you login with your Google credentials. Training will be setup soon and I will share videos if you cannot attend.

Zoom: Zoom offered their paid version of their software for free during the pandemic. That ended on July 1. We have been moved to the Basic version, which is limited to 40 minutes and no cloud storage. We have three products you can use in place of Zoom. They are Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and Blocksi.

Clever: Teachers are encouraged to use Clever for SSO (single sign-on) for students. In addition to apps that we use, teachers can add their own shortcuts and links. Sign in with your Google credentials at Clever.com. We will be adding more apps. I am in the process of adding Lexia. I hope to have that finished today (July 31, 2020).

Loom: With Loom, you can capture your screen, voice, and face and instantly share your video in less time than it would take to type an email. It is being offered to schools for free, so I have signed up our @loganelmschools.com domain. Go to Loom.com and login with your Google credentials. There are desktop apps and a chrome extension.

FMX: I have added Google SSO to the FMX login page. Google SSO is for students only. They will use FMX to enter technology requests. They do not have access to scheduling or maintenance requests. You need to use 
"Log In with AD FS" to access FMX. If you use Google SSO, you will not have access to scheduling and maintenance requests, as it thinks you are a student.

Tech Support: During the pandemic, I will provide as much assistance as I can remotely. I am able to access all desktop and laptop computers using ScreenConnect. If there is a situation where physical access is required, I will either use my own keyboard/touchpad or I will use hand sanitizer before and after work is performed. I will wear a mask at all times. If you come to my office, masks are required. If there is an issue with a student chromebook that requires physical access, a loaner chromebook will be issued and work will be performed after a 72-hour waiting period.

Directions on using FMX:1. Go to https://loganelm.gofmx.com. 2. There are 2 login boxes. Click on the "Log In with AD FS" gray box. 3. Enter your email address (first.last@loganelm.org) and your password that you use to access your email. Click on the "Create Request" button in the upper right corner and choose the type of request you need to add.

The site is very intuitive to use. If you have any questions or need assistance, click on the "Help & Updates" link in the bottom left. There are training videos and a FAQ.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

July 2020 Technology Update

New Chromebooks: We received a shipment of 500 chromebooks. The chromebooks already have our asset tags on them, are enrolled in our domain and are setup on the WiFi. They are ready for students when they return in the fall. Students in grades 1, 5 and 9 will get new chromebooks.

Chromebook distribution: Chromebooks and adapters are ready for distribution on the first day of school for grades 5-12. There is a label with student name (last, first) and grad year in the upper right corner where the cart tag sticker was previously located. I will start work on the elementary building chromebooks on Monday. Each student will be assigned a chromebook and will have a label, just like grades 5-12. The only exception is adapters will remain in the carts. In the event that we need to go to blended or online instruction for grades K-4, we will remove adapters from the carts. My plan is to have all chromebooks completed by the end of July.

Copiers: We have new copiers! We have added PaperCut software to track our copier usage. PaperCut uses your active directory username/password for authentication. To speed up the process of logging in, we purchased proximity cards. I will distribute cards to each building and principals will distribute cards to their staff. Programming the card is very easy. Simply walk up to any copier and place your card in close proximity to the reader. The copier will display a message that the card needs to be programmed and asks you to login. Enter your username/password. After a successful login, you will receive a message that your card is programmed. The next time you walk up to a copier, simply swipe your card to use the copier. If you send a print job to the copier using the "Print to ANY copier" driver (devices joined to active directory), you can pick up the job at any copier in the district. This will be very helpful for personnel that travel throughout the district. We do not have any labels or markings on the cards, other than the pre-printed number in the corner. Please let your supervisor know if you lose or misplace your card! The reason for not placing any identifying labels on the cards is we may be able to use them for access control in our new building.

Blocksi: I will be purchasing Blocksi this month. Blocksi has five components. The first is for systems administrators to track chromebooks and provide details on the chromebook inventory. The second component is for teachers. It allows you to view and control student screens. They have added a video conferencing solution that is very intuitive and you can control/interact with your students much easier that with Zoom or Meet. The third component is for principals. They can get reports and monitor usage. The fourth component is for students. They can join classes and view their activity on their chromebook. The last component is for parents. They can setup access control (how long their child is on their chromebook and forbid logins after certain hours), enforce a stricter filter (i.e. block YouTube) and view their child's web history.

Zoom: Zoom offered their paid version of their software for free during the pandemic. That ended on July 1. We have been moved to the Basic version, which is limited to 40 minutes and no cloud storage. We have three products you can use in place of Zoom. They are Google Meets, Microsoft Teams and Blocksi. 


Directions on using FMX:1. Go to https://loganelm.gofmx.com. 2. There are 2 login boxes. Click on the "Log In with AD FS" gray box. 3. Enter your email address (first.last@loganelm.org) and your password that you use to access your email. Click on the "Create Request" button in the upper right corner and choose the type of request you need to add.

The site is very intuitive to use. If you have any questions or need assistance, click on the "Help & Updates" link in the bottom left. There are training videos and a FAQ.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

May 2020 Technology Update

FMX: Report Summary for April 2020 is below. As of May 5, 2020 there are 4 open requests, which I am waiting for responses. If there is no response by the end of the week, I will delete the requests.


Directions on using FMX:1. Go to https://loganelm.gofmx.com. 2. There are 2 login boxes. Click on the "Log In with AD FS" gray box. 3. Enter your email address (first.last@loganelm.org) and your password that you use to access your email. Click on the "Create Request" button in the upper right corner and choose the type of request you need to add.

The site is very intuitive to use. If you have any questions or need assistance, click on the "Help & Updates" link in the bottom left. There are training videos and a FAQ.

Broken Chromebooks: I am repairing broken chromebooks. Currently, I have 42 chromebooks from the high school in my home office and have repaired 14. When they are repaired, I will move on to the middle school, intermediate school and elementaries.

Chromebook Distribution: We have been distributing chromebooks to students who need them. Currently, we have 90 chromebooks that have been assigned to students. I removed chromebooks and adapters from carts that we plan on replacing this summer. Carts in HS 01, HS 32, MS 02, MS 07 and MS 16 are empty at this time.

Inventory (repeat from last month): I have completed updating the technology inventory that I started in December. If you have a chromebook at home from your cart, please let me know. I have marked some chromebooks as Lost/Missing due to teachers taking them home.

Powering off computers when not in use (repeat from last month): I realize that a lot of you are going into the buildings at various times to get some work done. If you turn your computer on, please turn it off when you leave. Leaving a computer on for days only wastes electricity. All of our desktop computers have solid state drives and boot within a couple minutes.

Friday, April 3, 2020

April 2020 Technology Update

FMX: Report Summary for March 2020 is below. As of April 2, 2020 there are 8 open requests.




Directions on using FMX:1. Go to https://loganelm.gofmx.com. 2. There are 2 login boxes. Click on the "Log In with AD FS" gray box. 3. Enter your email address (first.last@loganelm.org) and your password that you use to access your email. Click on the "Create Request" button in the upper right corner and choose the type of request you need to add.

The site is very intuitive to use. If you have any questions or need assistance, click on the "Help & Updates" link in the bottom left. There are training videos and a FAQ.

Inventory: I have completed updating the technology inventory that I started in December. If you have a chromebook at home from your cart, please let me know. I have marked some chromebooks as Lost/Missing due to teachers taking them home.

Powering off computers when not in use: I realize that a lot of you are going into the buildings at various times to get some work done. If you turn your computer on, please turn it off when you leave. Leaving a computer on for days only wastes electricity. All of our desktop computers have solid state drives and boot within a couple minutes. 

Zoom 101 for Teachers: https://www.weareteachers.com/zoom-for-teachers/?utm_source=WAT_MDR&utm_medium=Enews&utm_campaign=WAT_Enews04012020

Best Practices for Securing Your Virtual Classroom: https://blog.zoom.us/wordpress/2020/03/27/best-practices-for-securing-your-virtual-classroom/


Unique Passwords

After reading this post, it is my hope that you consider using unique passwords for websites. The following is a true story.

I look forward to Saturday mornings. We get to sleep in and don't need an alarm clock to wake us up. We have a good breakfast and then begin cleaning the house. This particular Saturday morning, my wife wakes me up at 8am and says, "We've been hacked. Our Netflix is in Spanish!" Around 2am on Saturday morning, someone in New Jersey logged into our Netflix account. Moments later, they changed the password. When we pulled up Netflix on our TV, someone had changed all of the profile names and changed the language from US English to Spanish. My limited Spanish skills were enough that I was able to change the language back to English. This did not change the fact that we did not have control of the account and worse, they had access to our credit card we use for Netflix billing.

To make matters worse, this coincided with many stay at home orders where leaders were telling us to "chill at home and watch Netflix." Perhaps they should have been more clear and included instructions to NOT use someone else's account! We could not use the help.netflix.com website because we did not know the new password on the account. Also, chat was disabled on the site. When we called Netflix, there was a recording that "due to overwhelming call volumes, we cannot take anymore calls. Please go to help.netflix.com for assistance."

Since we did not know if they accessed the billing information on the account, my wife called the credit card company for assistance. She was on hold for over an hour and got disconnected. She waited on hold for almost another hour before someone finally answered.  To be on the safe side, we cancelled the card and asked them to send us a new one.

Around 5pm on Saturday, my wife tried to see if chat was working on the Netflix site again. To her surprise, chat was enabled and she was in the queue. Finally, she reached a customer service representative. She explained everything that had happened to them. They were able to see that someone had changed the email address and password. We thought they could just change it back. No so easy! She had to prove who she was. They wanted the entire credit card number. 

We were leary of doing this because our neighbor gave his credit card info to Amazon...or so he thought. He actually gave his credit card info to hackers who put up an Amazon support page and pretended to be assisting him. What they had done was install malware on his computer that looked for passwords and banking information. His wife ran into the room because she was getting texts that someone was using their credit card for purchases and wanted to know if he was on the phone buying stuff. He asked the guy on the phone to confirm his identity and asked if he was using the credit card info. The man started cursing at him. At this point, my neighbor hung up the phone. He ended up taking his laptop to Best Buy and spent $250 to have the malware removed and his data restored.

By this time, my wife had been on chat for almost an hour and it didn't seem like we were getting anywhere. Then we remembered that we cancelled the card, so what could it hurt giving the card info to him. So, my wife entered the cancelled credit card info into a "secure chat screen". A few minutes later, my wife got a call from the credit card company. Netflix was trying to bill the card for $15. When my wife asked what was going on in chat, he explained that he canceled the service, issued a refund and then charged back for a month of service. We were able to confirm with the bank that there was a refund of $15 and then a charge of $15. He was able to change the email address back to ours and he set a temporary password that we then changed to a very strong password. Finally, we had our account back! Or so we thought.

He then explains to us that they could restart the service. There is a button on the screen that you can click to restart the service. To keep this from happening, I went in to the settings in Netflix and logged out all devices. When I restarted Netflix, the restart service button was gone and the login screen appeared. Now we have our account back! When we confirmed through chat that everything was working, she asked him to cancel our service. By this time, she had been on chat for 2 hours.

You are probably asking yourself why she would go to all of the trouble to then cancel the service? Listed below are our reasons.

1. It was too easy for someone to change the email address and password on the account. My wife setup the Netflix account years ago before two-factor authentication. It should be enabled by default, but it wasn't.

2. Their support was severely lacking at a time when everyone is at home. They could have provided better support.

3. We don't watch Netflix that much anyways. Our neighbor (same one that got hacked) mentioned "The Crown" to us, so we started watching it. We were halfway through season 2 when this happened.

To be clear, Netflix was not hacked. The password we had been using was not strong so that we could share it with our family and entering passwords with a tv remote is cumbersome and time-consuming. My wife used that password on multiple accounts where high security wasn't really needed. One of those sites was hacked, so her email address and that password were out on the DarkWeb. Hackers then take that info and try it on other sites to see if it will work. Because a lot of people reuse passwords, it works more times than not. 

My wife spent 2 days changing passwords on every site she uses. She keeps a spreadsheet with the site info and hints for the password, not the actual password. She backs up the spreadsheet to a flash drive and I have a copy as well. Now she has done what I have been telling her for a few years now. You need to have strong, unique passwords for every website. It took her a while, but she can check that task off her list.

Then I wanted to see if I had been practicing what I had been preaching. I have been using a password manager for years, so I opened it up and ran a security test. To my dismay, I had been reusing passwords too. Some passwords were not strong and more frightening was that a few of them were compromised passwords. Even though I had secure passwords on most sites, most of them had not been changed in quite some time. I hate to admit it, but I will tell you now so it may help you. My Google password had not been changed since 2011. That's right, that password was over 9 years old. It took me 3 days, but I have changed every password, made them unique and all passwords are more than 12 characters, use upper and lower case, numbers, punctuation and special characters. A lot of the passwords I do not know. I let the password manager generate the password and fill it in for me. The only password I need to remember is the master password. 

So, while you seem to have some time on your hands, please consider doing something about your passwords. Do you have unique passwords? Are they strong? Do you remember them? If you answered no to any or all of them, please do something about it!


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

March 2020 Technology Update

FMX: Report Summary for February 2020 is below. As of March 2, 2020 there are 8 open requests.




Directions on using FMX:1. Go to https://loganelm.gofmx.com. 2. There are 2 login boxes. Click on the "Log In with AD FS" gray box. 3. Enter your email address (first.last@loganelm.org) and your password that you use to access your email. Click on the "Create Request" button in the upper right corner and choose the type of request you need to add.

The site is very intuitive to use. If you have any questions or need assistance, click on the "Help & Updates" link in the bottom left. There are training videos and a FAQ.

Filtering (Securly): There is a Staff policy and a default policy. Securly uses Google authentication to provide the correct policy. Under the staff policy, I am only blocking adult content. The default policy is the most restrictive policy because we don't know who is on the device. If you login to the Chrome browser with your @loganelmschools account, you will get the staff policy. If you don't, you will get the default policy.

Chrome OS versions: All chromebooks/chromeboxes used for testing must be on version 75 or higher. The current version is 79. To check the Chrome OS version, you can do it one of two ways. The easiest way is to hit alt-v at the login screen. The upper right corner will show the ChromeOS version and the serial number of the chrome device. 


Remember, you have to be logged out in order for alt-v to work. If you are logged in, you can click in the bottom right corner and click on the gear. Then click on About Chrome OS. You will see the version on the screen. There is a Check for Updates button. Click it if the version is below 79. Follow the previous instructions if you used alt-v and found the OS version is not at 75 or above. I did find a chromebook during the snow days that was at version 74 and cannot be updated using the button. I will need to reinstall the OS with a USB stick.

Chromebook cleaning: Cleaning chromebooks/keyboards/mice will help prevent the spread of germs. With two active strains of the flu and now ODE is asking schools to review safety plans due to the coronavirus (http://education.ohio.gov/Media/Ed-Connection/March-2-2020/Coronavirus-Districts-should-review-school-safety) it is essential to keep our chromebooks from being a source of infection. Below are instructions for cleaning the various parts of the chromebook.
Power off the chromebook first! You can hold down the power button for 10 seconds to be sure the unit is powered off.
Exterior (top lid and bottom lid): clean with a 50/50 solution of bleach and water and a rag/towel. Spray the solution on the rag/towel and then wipe down the lids. You can also use a bleach wipe.
Keyboard/trackpadclean with a 50/50 solution of bleach and water and a rag/towel. Spray the solution on the rag/towel and then wipe down the keyboard/trackpad. You can also use a bleach wipe. Just make sure that the wipe is not too damp. Wipes at the bottom of the container tend to be soaked in the bleach solution.
Screen: Dampen a cloth with water and wipe down the screen. You can use a window cleaner, as long as you spray it on the cloth first.

Email phishing: Email phishing is on the rise. Thieves don't want to work, so they sit at home and try to scam money/gift cards from innocent people. They go to a web site and pick a victim. They target them by pretending to be another employee and carry out their scheme. The latest attack targeted two of our board members. The email had the name of a board member, but the email address was not correct. The email asked for $7000 to be direct deposited into their account and had a link to complete the deposit (probably an off-shore account). Other attacks have asked for an employee to purchase Amazon gift cards online and send them the codes.

To combat this, we have removed email addresses from the website. When you go to the staff directory and search for a staff member, there will be an email me link. The person will need to enter their name and email address and click send. You will receive an email that someone is trying to contact you. This is not a scam. You have to approve the person trying to contact you. Once you give them permission, they will receive an email where they click a link and they can enter the email info they want to send you. Other school districts are doing this, so this is not something new. School districts seem to be targets now, so we need to take appropriate measures.