What a start to the Autumn Term!

6 weeks of summer have flown and the calm of an empty building is a distant memory. So far this term we’ve had to deal with new staff, password issues, server failures, power failures and a corrupt secondary domain server. A new sixth form provision that has had to be kitted out in under 2 weeks and a failed replica server.

So far this term has been one of the hardest starts ever.

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Meraki WiFi

just set up 9 Meraki access points and PoE switch ready for the new 6th form site…

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You know it’s hot when…

Your little desktop pc has its tiny fan going from 830 all day and you can hear it down the corridor with the door shut. 34’c from the start of the day to the end. Like one of the staff said “OMG stepping into your office is like stepping off of a plain in spain.” .

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Inclusive Technology Network Install

Using Inclusive Technology SwitchIT or ChooseIT software? Need to get it pushed out to your clients quick sharp? Drop the guys at Inclusive an email asking in them for the MSI for the software you have. Add it to a GPO and sit back and relax and let the server do the rest.

In with the new and out with the old.

Another day another problem. Academy emails have gone through the roof and as such space is a massive issue. What can you do with ageing hardware that has no room for expansion? keep on top of it keep purging the log files… back up and carry out a full vss back up – yes it works but it takes for ever.

My solution is to have a virtual machine take the place of the old server and manage it that way. Run out of space in the future… get a new box with the needed storage and migrate the virtual machine to the larger faster box.

So the task begins of creating the hyper-v host and the migration started… in the mean time it’s monitor and fire fight the old system and wait for the future to arrive.

Windows 8.1 and why SEN may want to wait

So with the release of Windows 8 and the abandonment of the start menu by Microsoft in one clean install students and teachers were thrown into chaos.

The majority of the students I work with on a daily basis are creatures of habit and change takes a while. So removing the start menu and moving away from the desktop as we know it, was just to much.

But the more I watch the world of tech change and the rising dominance of the tablet computer I see our students and even our technophobes become more at ease with the technologies. It must be the instant  response you get from your finger than you do using an alien mouse that adds another degree of separation from what your trying to do.

So maybe the problem itself isn’t the drastic change of the software… I see people using Android and Apple devices all the time. You maybe reading this on a your touch screen now. The problem has been the hardware in schools not being up to the task. Use Windows 8 without a touch screen it’s a pig. what once was a simple two clicks becomes a three or four click task… Add a touch screen and the OS comes alive a hybrid of traditional inputs and the touch make sense.

So if your going to push out Windows 8 or want to introduce it to a student you really need to make sure you have a touch screen.


I must of missed the letter about this but did you know CAPITA SIMS are ending 2008/2008r2 SQL support.

De-support notifications
·         SQL Server 2008 is not supported after the Summer 2014 SIMS release and must be upgraded before end of November 2014.
·         SQL Server 2008 R2 is not supported after the Autumn 2014 SIMS release and must be upgraded before end of March 2015

Let the upgrades, headaches and screams of horror begin…

Google Self Drive Car

So big brother Google have a finger in every pie. This one though could be great not just for car insurance but have a massive impact on visually impaired people and those who have physical disabilities and unable to drive a car. Just click, speak or send it via your android phone your destination hit the go button and sit back and relax.

hit the link: Google Self Drive

Who knows in 5 years time all cars will have a table in them for the family to sit around and talk while they do the dreaded family visits or business types will hold conferences while the car takes them to the airport.

I just hope they improve the look of the thing.

SIMS Spring Update 2014

So another update for SIMs another headache for IT guys and dolls around the world. Today’s problem… running a dbupdate or a SOLUS update causes a blue screen of death on the server. Not to much of a problem apart from the fact that SIMs install sits on our DC.

Try the following at your own risk… I take no responsibility for any results that may occur on your system.

How to fix the problem… disable the anti virus running on the server and try again…

Problem solved for this update. Now add some exclusions to your AV to ignore all SIMS related stuff.

Your all good to go.

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Internet Image Search

Do you use Google Images or Bing. Images to look for resources online? Do you do it on your class based computers or even in the staff wor. the k room if you have one? You should be aware that these services bypass some filtering used by LEAs.

Why does this happen?

From what I can tell google images and Bing Images uses a cache (or local copy) of these images as a thumb nail so they can better categorise and speed up responses. As they plough through the internet sorting, categorising websites they keep a log and the images are given a unique name not related to the subject in the image. This would be a reason why they make it through the filters at a thumbnail level. However clicking on the image and then navigating to the website the image belongs to tends to be blocked so some level of normal protection is returned.

HTTPS also plays a part. The secure nature of https means that filtering software is unable to read the information being requested by the end-user. LEA’s can’t simply block all https traffic as it isn’t all bad and most of it is needed. In the old days this wouldn’t have been a problem but thanks to the big brother approach in America and lots of other country’s people and service providers i.e. google, bing, Facebook now offer this https as a standard feature. Thus protecting the end user by making it difficult for filters to see what is good internet browsing and what is bad.

If https was blocked and the image features of search engines was blocked productivity in schools would drop so how can you better protect your students, staff and hardware?

A three prong approach:

1) Training
Staff and students need to be shown how to search the internet safely. What words should and shouldnt be used. What combinations of words should be used. A well planned and structured session of CPD for the staff and a good ICT lesson on ICT and online safety will help.

2)Safety default safety features
Google and Bing have safety features that turn on a more restricted view of the internet. These features are good but aren’t 100%.

3) Software protection
End point protection through 3rd party applications can offer a quicker response to issues highlighted to ICT staff. A response from the LEA can sometimes take a while to filter down to the school.An application like Sophos can be used to block specific websites as well as categories. Using this we can force all of the clients to update and block the offending websites within minuets, next update check or when the computer first boots. This feature is limited within Sophos but it gives a broad stroke using url’s rather than letting you enter key words.

I should point out that most LEA filters are set to a high standard response times are generally an acceptable length of time when you are dealing with student protection.