Saturday, March 28, 2009

Removing the Conficker Worm


Running on UbuntuLinux and Mac, I don't expect to encounter the Conficker worm anytime soon. Here's a straightforward explanation of what it does:
...disables systems such as the Windows Automatic Update, Windows Security Center, Windows Defender and Windows Error Reporting. . .also gathers personal information and installs malware into the infected computer. [and]... attaches to several windows processes including svchost.exe, explorer.exe and services.exe....Other symptoms include modifications to DNS and TCP/IP configuration. Conficker will also open lots of un-authorized ports in your Firewall, so a good way to check is to have a gander at your ‘Wall and see if there are ports open that shouldn’t be.
Source: CanTalkTech
However, I thought I'd take a look just in case because of this note:

Because computers can appear to function normally when infected, Microsoft advises you to run this tool even if your computer seems to be fine. You should also use up-to-date antivirus software to help protect your computer from other malicious software.
Source: SCForum
Protect your Windows PC by getting a patch appropriate for your operating system (e.g. XP, Vista).

Tools to Remove the Worm:








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Friday, March 27, 2009

Moodle in the Classroom (Updated)

I've included my notes on this Classroom 2.0 LIVE session with Tomaz Lasic on Moodle in the Classroom below...

Some of the quick polls Kim Caise took at the beginning of the Classroom 2.0 LIVE show on Moodle in the Classroom with Tomaz Lasic, up at 1:00 AM in Australia! He did a great walkthrough of Moodle for education. Thank you, Tomaz!!













Why Moodle? - Lorna Constantini


Notes from Presentation and Chat
  • "I'm just a teacher" (love Tomaz' Aww, shucks! type introduction)
  • Easy to embed
  • jpatten: you can create entire web sites...if OneNote exports a file in an HTML format, save the folder, compress it load it up into your Moodle, uncompress it, and create a new link to the "index.html" file... great way for students to publish sites in a controlled environment...we have teachers do that with the pwd protected gradebook programs too
  • Moodle 1.9 for Teaching 7-14 Year Olds by Mary Cooch
  • RickSwengel: If your Moodle server has file-size limitations and you create your own instructional videos, you can upload your own videos to TeacherTube.com and then embed your videos in your Moodle courses.
  • Audio feedback feature is great, but some teachers (Aidan points out) may not want to have their voices around for permanent access for students. They could remix the audio with video and then repost. . .also another major step for some teachers to record themselves as most don't like the sound of their voice
  • we partner with pre-service teachers and they interact with the students in moodle. We do meet via videoconference BEFORE the Moodle part to get the students excited about working online...
  • jpatten: @Aidan you could create an Assingnment activity and have them upload their video, however, you have to be good with the file upload size limits. Always could load it up to a site that includes a embed code option and students can paste embed code into a forum post, or any other site that has and editor with html view
  • Suzanne: Our teachers use the database to upload their activboard flipcharts for sharing. They enjoy having 27/7/365 access.
  • The school community...Moodle goes hand in hand with good teaching. There are many changes and thanks to having Moodle, Moodle has become a....
  • In a forum, multiple people can participate at the same time. Glossary is far more limited in depth. I usually explain...forum is a room of tables and conversation going on at each table.
  • Creating SCORM Quizzes: use HotPotatoes instead
  • hot potatoes is free if you make your exercises freely available on web but i think you need to buy a license if it is on a password protected moodle
  • How long should you take in introducing teachers to Moodle? About 20 minutes.
  • What I find to be the best motivation is showing them how much they can save time not reinventing the wheel over and over from year to year. Moodle lets you make it once and reuse the course the next year.
How to use Glossary (something I wanted more info and the audience shared):
  • glossary block picks up entries from a glossary you ahve already made and displays them at times you choose
  • We are using the Glossary for students to add there own words and definitions.
  • Glossary for course links

Links Shared During Preso (from Audience and Tomaz):
Please add your feedback to this preso:



Be sure to join in....
This Saturday, Mar. 28th, Peggy George, Kim Caise, and Lorna Costantini will be hosting another Classroom 2.0 LIVE web meeting.

By popular demand, this week's show is a follow-up to the previous Moodle session with Miguel Guhlin. The topic is: "Ways to use Moodle in the classroom with students" and our special guest will be Tomaz Lasic, author of the "Human for fellow teachers " blog.

We hope you'll join us to share your ideas and questions. Links for more information can be found at http://live.classroom20.com.

Classroom 2.0 "LIVE" meetings are an opportunity to gather with other members of the community in real-time events, complete with audio, chat, desktop sharing, and sometimes even video. (Special thanks to our sponsor, Elluminate, for providing the service that allows us to do this!) A Google Calendar of shows is available at http://live.classroom20.com/calendar.html.







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Stimulus Money for Texas Districts


The following update was shared with me via email...it originated at one of the Education Service Centers:
The Regular NCLB Title IID is on schedule and will be released as usual.
The eGrant process will be up and open for districts on April 15 for those funds.
Your federal programs directors will hear all we know at their meeting here on April 15 also.
The amounts will be similar to this year's.

The Stimulus Title IID will be "greyed out" on the April 15 application for now because TEA doesn't have the funds yet and they can't open it up until they have their NOGA from USDE.

The application will be updated to include those funds sometime this summer of Fall.
You will be able to go back into the eGrant application system and select it at that time.

The amounts will be somewhere around 2.38% times the Regular Title IID amounts, based on my calculations.

It will be governed by the same rules as regular Title IID but with more accountability, transparency, reporting, separate accounting, private non-profit participation, etc.








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Web 2.0 Process


In an earlier post, I shared the process I perceive many Web 2.0 services are going to follow, if they have not already. Here is that simple to observe process:
  1. Put your data in the cloud computing app (e.g. Gcast)
  2. The vendor that runs the app decides they need money to support it (e.g. support costs no longer allow them to offer a $99 annual fee for free).
  3. They start placing advertisements but then realize that just isn't working well enough.
  4. They find a way to commercialize/monetize what they have and put a ring in your nose.
Today, I see that Gcast has begun to follow the same process of charging for the service they provide...which means I'll be abandoning it since I have no intention of getting my district to pay for it:

As you know, we have been offering the ability to podcast by phone for several years. Up until now, this service has remained free for you to use without limitations.

We have been incurring significant costs to keep this service free and we now must take steps to lower our cost.

Beginning April 1, 2009, we will be charging a subscription fee of $99 for this phone-in service. It will still be free to upload content through our website.

Additionally, the subscription usage will be limited to 2 hours in any 90 day period.

If you have any questions about this, or would like to sign up for a subscription, please contact ....

Gcast, go ahead and terminate my account. Thanks!

What's the lesson? Well, it's that if you want these kinds of services, isn't it better to adapt free open source software tools so that you can host them yourself in your district rather than run out to "free, let's hook them first with our services" simply because we want to avoid the learning conversations that have to take place?








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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Moodle Questionnaire

Questionnaire is one of my favorite modules for Moodle, and I use it for all sorts of surveys and information gathering that I'd normally have had to use SurveyMonkey, Zoomerang, or one of those other tools (including GoogleApps).

Here's one use though that caught my eye:

I saw a really cool way to use the Questionnaire activity in Moodle the other day. The school had scheduled a dance, so they got together a list of popular songs and had the students vote on which songs they wanted the DJ to play. This is a school where Moodle is relatively new. A hundred students went in and voted on the songs they wanted to hear.

Some would say "big deal." And some would be correct - it is a big deal. Students got to go in, use technology, and have a say in their dance. And it makes Moodle something COOL. Students can see how Moodle can be used to give them a voice. So right away you've got positive attitudes about Moodle instead of negative attitudes. And as my Mom always used to say to me as a child, it's all about your attitude.

There are many ways to use Moodle to give students a voice, and it's very important that we do so as often as possible... even if the popular songs of the day aren't on a standardized test.
Source: Ed-Tech Diatribe
Try Questionnaire out...


Be sure to read the following Moodle articles...
  1. Moodle Tips Roundup - a list of tips I've picked up in my Moodle journey.
  2. Doing the Moodle Mambo
  3. Moodle Habitudes: Constructing Online Learning Environments
  4. Book Review - Moodle 1.9: E-Learning Course Development by William Rice
  5. Why Moodle? A few reasons culled from around the Web using Google
  6. Moodle-izing Education (due for publication in Education World...find it here in mid-March, 2009)







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Moodle Tip - Where to Find Free Courses


Where do can someone go to find/share Moodle courses? Here is a short list to consider:
  1. SOS-SIG's Collaborative Moodle - http://sos.tcea.org/coloodle/
  2. K-12 Open Source Ning - http://community.k12opensource.com/forum/topics/moodle-courses
  3. Learning ISD - http://moodle.learningisd.com/moodle/course/index.php
  4. Moodle Commons - http://moodlecommons.org/







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Blogger To Be Unavailable

Blogger will be unavailable Thursday (3/26) at 4:00PM PDT for about 10 minutes for maintenance.
On my Blogger dashboard, I see a notice that there is a scheduled outage for 4:00 PM Thursday (03/26). So, be aware of that if you try to access Around the Corner and can't get to it. Instead, you might want to visit one of my other resources sites, including:
  • ShareMore! Wiki - This is where I keep backup copies of my published articles (although I'm about 5 articles behind since my last writing binge).
  • Education World - You can read my published articles on Education World magazine online here.
  • Old Around the Corner Blog Entries (not on Blogger, obviously) - These represent several years of blogging and are available online.
Even though Blogger will be inaccessible for about 10 minutes or so today, you'll still be able to find lots of stuff to read.






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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Drawing in Google Docs



I flunked art in Kindergarten, but hopefully, I won't need to be an expert to use art stuff in GoogleDocs! From their announcement:
It's easy to create drawings using lines, free hand scribbles, text labels and a large choice of shapes that you can move, resize, rotate and adjust. Group, order, align and distribute and other features are available when you select objects you've drawn. You can also customize a range of shape properties, from line widths to fill color, and from arrowheads to font size, and much more. If you change your mind, there is undo and redo. You can collaborate with a friend or colleague on a drawing, or work alone, just as you can in Google Docs today.
Source: Drawing in GoogleDocs
What a thrill!







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Revisiting Domesticating Education


I wrote this in response to Al Upton's situation, and when I read it again, I realized I didn't have a copy on my new blog (the one you're reading now). So, to make it a bit more general, I made some minor edits to my original:
As a school district administrator myself, but also, as a citizen of the United States, I have to confess that I’m a bit grateful your children are denied the opportunity to engage in global collaobrations and learning. Here’s why:

In the United States, blogs are distractions to the real job of educators to improve student achievement on accountability measures. Blogs, as tools for online publishing, engage students with access to an authentic audience–that sometimes, let’s be honest, can be TOO authentic if you get what I mean–and may result in divergent learning that is, to be frank, unsuitable to preparing children for yesterday’s workforce. We want children who are literate, but lack that attitude that would hurt their careers and survival in our workforce…it is our goal to establish (and we’ve done an excellent job aside from your blogging efforts) a, what Paulo Friere calls, “domesticating” educational experience.

Secondly, you’ve no doubt read of books like Wikinomics, The World is Flat, and A Whole New Mind…these are books that speak to the interconnectedness of world affairs, peer productions–companies working in tandem across the globe to create a new product marketed to millions on the web–necessary in the future. I’m honestly grateful that your students will be barred from this world, prevented from joining peer producers in the world. To be honest, in the United States, there’s been a bit of concern that children abroad (not to mention New Zealanders) have been engaging too rapidly in this new virtual world.

It’s a relief to know that you’ll be “dummed down” to join the United States in a slower realization of these truths. Some argue that we need to distinguish between using technology as a way to empower students, facilitate communication/collaboration at a distance rather than using technology to domesticate our students, helping them achieve basic skills that won’t get them much farther anyways. But you see, in this competitive, global economy, disempowering YOUR children may allow mine to do well.

Take a hit for the opposite team. Rejoice that my students will whip your’s when it comes to working online, and that you won’t have distractions when drilling students in basic skills.

It's fun to read this kind of writing at times when I feel drained and tired...inspiring to me! (smile)







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Pass It On - TexTAN Action Alert!


Action Alert from....



In January, the Texas House and Senate filed different versions of their starting points for the General Appropriation Acts. A provision in Rider 90 was added by both the House and Senate that would make the Technology Allotment and textbook funding contingent upon distribution from the Permanent School Fund. At the current time, no distribution is expected from the Permanent School Fund to the Available School Fund. This means that the Technology Allotment is in danger of NOT being funded.

The Texas House Appropriations Committee is currently meeting and will continue through the weekend if necessary to complete their review of appropriation requests and set their funding priorities. It is important that this committee knows how vital the technology allotment is in preparing Texas children to compete in a global economy. We need you to call the members of the House Appropriations Committee and let them know they must fully fund the technology allotment. You may email them as well. You can get more contact information at this link: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/Members/Members.aspx?Chamber=H


Below are a list of the members of this committee:

Chair:
Rep. Jim Pitts (512) 463-0516
Vice Chair:
Rep. Richard Raymond (512) 463-0558

Rep. Jimmie Aycock (512) 463-0684
Rep. Fred Brown (512) 463-0698
Rep. Angie Button (512) 463-0486
Rep. Norma Chavez (512) 463-0622
Rep. Ellen Cohen (512) 463-0389
Rep. Brandon Creighton (512) 463-0726
Rep. Myra Crownover (512) 463-0582
Rep. Drew Darby (512) 463-0331
Rep. Joe Driver (512) 463-0574
Rep. Dawnna Dukes (512) 463-0506
Rep. Al Edwards (512) 463-0518
Rep. Craig Eiland (512) 463-0502
Rep. Kino Flores (512) 463-0704
Rep. Helen Giddings (512) 463-0953
Rep. Abel Herrero (512) 463-0462
Rep. Scott Hochberg (512) 463-0492
Rep. Carl Isett (512) 463-0676
Rep. Susan King (512) 463-0718
Rep. Ruth McClendon (512) 463-0708
Rep. Doug Miller (512) 463-0325
Rep. Geanie Morrison (512) 463-0456
Rep. John Otto (512) 463-0570
Rep. Debbie Riddle (512) 463-0572
Rep. Michael Villarreal (512) 463-0532
Rep. John Zerwas (512) 463-0657
A different perspective from Rep. Mike Villarreal was left in the comments but I'm posting here since sometimes folks miss the comments:
This is not accurate. The House Comm on Appropriations adopted today a recommendation from the Education Subcommittee to allocate $136,856,859 for the Foundation School Program, Textbooks and the Technology Allotment.

You may have been misinformed by the publishing companies and their lobbyist who are upset that we are incentiving them to go to electronic delivery of their content and pass the savings on to our schools and the state. Feel free to call my office for more info.

Sincerely,

Mike Villarreal
State Rep, District 123
I've shared the link to this comment with TCEA's TexTAN to see what they have to say. The question that comes to mind is, How can we really know what's going on in the Legislature and experience more transparency and/or unbiased-information sharing?







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TxDLA Conference Coming Soon!

A reminder received via email....

Dear Distance Learning Professional,

Time is running out...

If you haven't yet registered for the conference, but are interested in attending, please register as soon as possible. Onsite registration will be available, but the cost goes up by $50. http://www.txdla.org/conference/2009/registrationhome.aspx

Hotel
Deadline for the special $85.00 TxDLA room rate at the Omni Hotels is TODAY, March 25 ... so if you have not made your hotel reservation, please do so today! Visit http://www.txdla.org/conference/2009/hotels.aspx for more information. Also, if you have a sleeping room at the Omni that you will not be using ... please be sure to cancel your extra reservations.

Conference Planner and Downloadable Program
The 2009 TxDLA online conference planner is now available as well as a PDF file of the onsite conference program! This planner can be used to schedule your sessions, vendor showcases, exhibit hall, and personal appointments for the conference. It is designed to help you keep track of who, what, where, and when (please note that it does NOT reserve your spot in specific breakout sessions, but is merely a tool for helping plan your time while at TxDLA!) Visit: http://www.txdla.org/conference/2009/planner.aspx

Special Global Corporate Communication Strategies Panel
Make a note of a featured breakout session panel presentation brought to you by TxDLA and the University of Houston's College of Technology. A live videoconference of this panel session (onsite held at the University of Houston) will be held on Wednesday, April 8, at 10:30 a.m. in Bayview AB. Five corporate panelists will discuss effective strategies they are using to facilitate distance communication and training to remote locations. The panelists include CPOs, VPs and directors of such corporations as Chevron, Weatherford, Fluor Enterprises, Baker Hughes, Cardtronics, Key Energy, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Methodist Hospital, Camden Properties, Waste Management, Friedkin Affiliated Companies, and AIG.

Volunteers
The conference can never happen without the volunteers that work tirelessly to make it go smoothly. Sign up today at http://www.txdla.org/conference/2009/volunteering.aspx to volunteer as a session moderator, registration desk helper, conference "stuffers", technical team or bus coordinator, and see how it all gets done. Get active in TxDLA and help to make this the most exciting and successful conference for all attendees.

Virtual Corkboard
Are you driving to the conference and would like someone to talk with on that long drive? Or are you looking for a ride? Is your organization's budget tight and you need to share a room? Or are there other conference related requests that you would like other attendees help on? Would you like to connect with other attendees of like interest during the conference?TXDLA is providing the Virtual Corkboard (Bulletin Board) service as a way for attendees to connect on their travel, lodging, and other conference needs. To ACCESS the Virtual Corkboard, you must be a registered attendee AND be logged into the system. http://www.txdla.org/conference/2009/corkboard.aspx

Partners
Please visit the conference website at http://www.txdla.org/conference/2009/EXHIBITOR_2009.aspx?fct=partner and see the list of partners that have committed to providing resources and sponsorships to make this the most successful conference to date!

Preconference Workshops
Spaces are still available for a few of the preconference workshops if you would like to come in a little earlier and participate. These workshops are an additional fee, depending on length. See http://www.txdla.org/conference/2009/program/preconfworkshops.aspx for more information and email Lisa Fry if you would like to be added to a workshop.

Hooks Baseball - Tuesday Night
TxDLA attendees may attend the optional Hooks baseball game at Whataburger Field on Tuesday evening. Transportation will be provided; however, be prepared to purchased your own tickets (additional cost -- not included in your conference registration fee) from a Hooks representative during lunch on Tuesday.

Attendee Login
To login as a registered TxDLA Conference Attendee and to access many of the above features including the conference planner, Virtual Corkboard and volunteering .. visit http://www.txdla.org/goATTENDEElogin.asp?confyear=2009.

Transportation
TxDLA will be providing shuttle buses for attendees between the Omni Hotels and the ABC Center (site of the TxDLA convention). Please see

http://www.txdla.org/conference/2009/lodgingtravel.aspx for a link to the bus schedule. Please note that the convention center is also located within walking distance from the hotels. Limited parking is available for a fee at the ABC Center. See the downloadable onsite program for more information.

Registration opens at 12:00 noon on Monday at the ABC Center. See you on the water!

12th Annual TxDLA Conference, April 6-9, 2009
American Bank Center Convention Center
Corpus Christi, Texas

Click Here to Begin Registration










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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

MySQL/PHP/Apache on a Mac

Would a dual core Mini, with 4Gigs Ram and a 320Gig Harddrive work nicely, sufficiently, or not at all? If it will work, could you recap the process....and would Joomla also work on it??
This is a question I received earlier....

A search on the web revealed this comment:

with the newer Intel Mac minis, you are able to run up to 3GB of RAM. With this extra capacity, Leopard Server runs great on the Mac minis. You can use any of the services like mail, web, dns, and file sharing.
Source: http://www.macminiserver.com/can-a-mac-mini-run-leopard-server/

And, another comment argues this:

os x server is overkill. i run two xservers and powermac g4 server in my lab. os x server is good for open directory and other stuff to run my 40 stations, but overkill for the Web. osx has all server functionality built in, it is *nix after all. and what it doesn't have you can d/l. os x sever would be a HUGE waste for a personal or even small business Web server.
Source:

It looks like you have 3 choices:

  1. MOST EXPENSIVE: You could run OS X Leopard Server, but...
  2. MOST VEXING (for a newbie): You could also partition that Mac with 85% GNU/Linux and the remainder for regular Mac OS X. Then run GNU/Linux as a server. It's not as daunting as you might think (esp if I can do it!).
  3. EASIEST ALL AROUND: Just run OS X Leopard (not server) on the machine and use it that way. Here's an ebook tutorial on how to accomplish that: http://www.macminicolo.net/ebooks/InitialSetupEbook.pdf
So, option 3 might be the one to start with, then go to option 2, and then 1. Option 3 might buckle.

Once you have these pieces setup, yes, you can run Joomla, Moodle, etc. You'll have to install MySQL/PHP.

RELEVANT LINKS
  1. Installing PHP/MySQL -http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20071030153912813
  2. MAMP - http://www.mamp.info/en/mamp/index.html
  3. MAMP Setup on OS X Leopard - http://stringfoo.com/2007/11/07/mamp-setup-leopard/
  4. Using Mac Mini as a Server
Other words of wisdom?






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Joomla - User Permissions on Folders


One of the other interesting problems I encountered today was user permissions on a Joomla folder in IIS.

The Joomla installation folders lacked adequate InternetUser permissions. Our other existing installations of Joomla--the ones that work--have this InternetUser, so I'm pretty confident that this is the issue. Is anyone else running Joomla on IIS and wouldn't mind sharing their user permissions?

These online resources speak to the fact that Joomla permissions have been configured correctly...but I'd love to have your feedback.
  1. Once the "Everyone" account is removed, Windows IIS is now left with the " IUSR_* " account having top-level rights to the Web-Server directories, a pemrisisons check now should yield different results. Only the IUSR_* account has full permissions and other users shuld acquire eihter "Read Only" or no rights. Read only rights are determined by which other users have been assigned what rights to the IIS directories manually.
    Source: Joomla and Windows File Permissions
  2. Right click each of the following directories, select security and make the sure that the “Internet Guest Account” (usually IUSR_computer_name) has the following permissions.

    Modify
    Read and Execute
    List Folder Contents
    Read
    Write
    i.e. everything EXCEPT full control. Do this for these directories and files.
    images
    media
    uploadfiles
    components
    language
    modules
    templates
    administrator/backups
    administrator/components
    configuration.php
    Source: http://forum.joomla.org/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=52721
  3. Make sure IUSR_xxxx & IWAM_xxxx have read/write permissions on the entire Joomla installation. After the install is done, you can safely remove the write permissions & leave the read-only as they are.
    Source: http://www.eukhost.com/forums/f31/joomla-install-iis-7-a-7313/
  4. Manually installing Joomla on IIS
    Source: http://learn.iis.net/page.aspx/527/joomla-on-iis/
  5. Review pages 10-12 in the attached tutorial on installing Joomla on IIS
    Source: http://www.joomlavogue.com/cms/component/option,com_docman/task,doc_view/gid,9/Itemid,62/








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Joomla Tip - Installing in a Subdirectory


Our district has been working on redesigning and updating Joomla to the latest version for our main site. One of the problems we ran into was that we wanted to install the Joomla site to a subdirectory off of www.saisd.net--so we wouldn't have joomla directories and files scattered at the root--but still have the site show up when you go to http://www.district.net

For awhile, I thought I had to specify an absolute path of some sort in the configuration.php file or in the index.php file. But I couldn't find anything--aside from helpful info on how to find your absolute path out using a php script--that would allow you to do that in Joomla.

Then, I remembered that in setting up Wordpress in a subdirectory (http://intouch.saisd.net is a WP install with wordpress in a subdirectory at http://intouch.saisd.net/intouchwp) there were some instructions...I'm grateful to the Wordpress folks for documenting this!

To get it to work for Joomla, I simply adapted the PHP from the WP index.php for the Joomla site, and voila!

here's the code for the index.php page that pulls in the directory.

Where "main" is the subdirectory with Joomla in it. The site hasn't gone live yet for the world, but when it does, it should be a simple matter of renaming the alternateindexfilename.php file to index.php).

This was pure luck...and it showed me I need to go read up on PHP!!

In the meantime, can anyone think of why doing this with a Joomla install would be problematic? I'd appreciate any constructive criticism of this approach.







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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Moodle - The Cool Tool that Won't Slip Away


A few folks have been pushing back on the use of Moodle in schools. However, I found this commentary at Digigogy about the disappearance of Web 2.0 tools due to the Depression (yeah, it's a depression whatever the econo-daemons say) a deviation....

As a staff developer, I'm using a lot of these "Web 2.0" tools with teachers to help them enhance their practice and to help motivate and engage their students. But what happens when those tools disappear?

Nothing should happen.

Without sounding callous or flippant, the disappearance of these tools and the subsequent ripple effects underscores the fact that learning is never about any particular tool--it's been, and always has been, about the content and skills that teachers are teaching. While its a sad thing that these cool tools are slipping away, good teaching can still continue to happen without them. Something else will come along to take the place of these tools.
Source: DigiGogy
Uh, well, if teaching/learning and tech aren't intertwined, why are you wasting time using it? If it's not as necessary as air, then why spend millions of dollars on tech? The fact is, IT IS necessary...but most won't believe that until we're beat out by some other country that IS equipping its citizens with technology, just not American technology.

Moodle is one cool tool--provided your district sets it up--that won't go away. Sure, you'll have to work to get it, to keep it, to maintain it, and to grow it...but isn't that the kind of work that needs to happen, no matter what great initiatives may come your way?







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Burned Cup


Source: http://www4.gvsu.edu/triert/images23/cup1d.jpg


I've loved Kahlil Gibran since I was a teen and I'm delighted I can find it online anytime I please (although my copy of The Prophet has been on my shelf for over 20 years):

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?


I love that line...it stays with me. Don't get the wrong idea, I'm not being carved out right now! However, it's powerful truths that bring comfort.






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Just Say NO to DetentionSlip.org


I recently received this email. My answer is simple: NO WAY.
It's Anthony from DetentionSlip.org. We've had a crazy month or so, being the first education site to ever make the TIME MAGAZINE Top 25 Blogs List for 2009. We also are now in first place over at Bloggers Choice Awards, and we are in the #1 position for Education blogs at Alltop.com

I'm actually not writing to brag about our recent success -- I was writing to see if you'd be interested in sharing in our new found glow. Our traffic has been crazy and we have some national syndication deals going on right now. We are hoping we can help you get some exposure, and you can help us roll out a new free service.

We just developed a new widget, that streams the headlines in real time from our site -- no ads, pop-ups or spam, just headlines. It's free to use, and right now, we are giving the first 10 education sites who features our widget on their main page 1 month of PREMIUM ads on the DetentionSlip.org FOR FREE.
No links for you!








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A Special Invite Just for You


JOIN US! 2009 Education Technology Site Visit

March 21, 2009

Greetings Colleagues,

I would like to extend a personal invitation to you and other technology leaders in your organization to join us for a very special showcase of school district technology best practices. Many of these best practices have been developed over the years as our school district and leaders have been active members of NSBA TLN, ISTE, and CoSN and grown in knowledge and depth as we learned from their programs, projects, initiatives, and other key leaders.

Each year the National School Board Association (NSBA) selects three districts to showcase technology leadership. To be selected, a school district must have demonstrated leadership in educational technology and an implementation of proven best practices. The Calcasieu Parish Public School system in Lake Charles, Louisiana is honored to host one of these site visits on April 26 – 28, 2009.

The National School Board Association has developed a program where school principals, school board members, school superintendents, and district administrators can visit recognized school districts and view real-life strategies in action. The focus is on educational technology and how hardware, software, services and professional development can impact student learning. The goal of the visits is for key school and school district decision makers to see proven strategies and then return to their districts with fresh perspectives and new ideas that can be implemented to meet their educational challenges.

The NSBA Technology Leadership Network (TLN) sponsors visits to member districts to showcase innovative technology implementation. These meetings give participants an unmatched opportunity to see how various solutions and strategies function for faculty, students, and the district as a whole. We are inviting you to join us for this event. You will have an opportunity to see, first-hand, some of the exciting innovations we have in place, in addition to networking with principals, school board members, superintendents and technology leaders from around the country. We hope you will join us and bring other school and school district leaders with you!

The events include two full days in schools, classrooms and district offices. On April 26, your first evening in Cajun Country, you will enjoy a fabulous seafood and cocktail party. Lunches on April 27 and 28 will be catered on site at the schools. On the afternoon of April 27 you will be attending a cocktail reception and tour the fabulous Gray Estate mansion on beautiful Lake Charles while you listen to the sounds of local school jazz bands. Participants will leave the Gray Estate and enjoy a tour around the lake by Jean Lafitte’s pirates. Boats will bring you back to the dock of L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort where you will be met by the Mardi Gras Revelers. Upon arriving into the hotel you will find an open bar, Cajun buffet, a Cajun/country band and dance lessons by the famed Cajun Dance Music Association. An exciting learning experience and

fabulous fun is awaiting you in Lake Charles.

We encourage you to register NOW and make your hotel reservations ASAP, as there is limited space for the visit and a limited block at the site visit hotel, the wonderful L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort in Lake Charles. All meals are included with this registration – so you have no additional costs! Many of our colleagues in Texas should be able to just drive in. You will find all of the information needed to register at http://www.nsba.org/sitevisits/CalcasieuParish.htm

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions at 337.217.4100 x1001 or email sheryl.abshire@cpsb.org We look forward to seeing you April 26 -28 in Lake Charles as we share our “Calcasieu Technology Treasures”.

Sincerely,

Dr. Sheryl R. Abshire

CoSN Immediate Past Chair

ISTE Standards and Practices Committee


Sheryl Abshire, Ph.D.

Chief Technology Officer

Calcasieu Parish Public Schools

“Advancing Quality Education with Technology”

Calcasieu Parish Public Schools

600 South Shattuck Street

Lake Charles, Louisiana 70601

337.217-4100 ext. 1001

337.217-4101 fax

sheryl.abshire@cpsb.org

www.cpsb.org








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Cost of Testing vs Technology


A month or two ago, a colleague in Texas shared the following information with the TEC-SIG list:
TEA has recommended that we do online testing in conjunction with the replacement of our TAKS tests to EOC testing that would take place in several years. TEA believes that we can do this online testing at a start up cost of $197 million and an ongoing cost of $81 million. The report also provides conveniently that our current Technology Allotment fund provides school districts about $135,000,000 per year (4,500,000 students @$ 30 per student).
However, a news report shares exactly how much testing costs now:
The Texas Education Agency outsources the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills to NCS Pearson Inc., which helps develop the tests. In 2000, the agency signed Pearson to a five-year contract worth $47.45 million — about $9.5 million a year to administer tests to the state’s students.

When that contract expired, TEA and Pearson inked a new five-year deal. This time, though, it was worth $160 million, which, at $32 million a year, represented nearly a fourfold increase.
Since 2005, however, the contract has been modified several times.

The result: This year alone the state will pay Pearson $88 million to test Texas children.

Wow. Surely we can spend our money on something else besides high stakes testing?






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Solving Budget Problems

Ric Murry recently shared a snapshot of the kinds of conversations happening around solving budget problems. What he didn't realize is that he missed the conversation happening behind the scenes...and I've tried to capture it below (right click to view at full size):


Right click to view at full size.

Here's how Ric continued that conversation....

In the meantime, these stats from SolidOffice's Benjamin Horst say something all by themselves...why aren't K-12 education leaders listening?
  • “From the official announcement on Monday 13th October at 09:00 UTC, to midnight on Sunday 20th October, OpenOffice.org 3.0 recorded an astonishing three million downloads via the Bouncer. That’s:
    221,230 GNU/Linux users
    320,622 Mac OS X users, and
    2,449,863 Microsoft Windows users.

  • From Birmingham to Brussels, local and regional governments are switching to OpenOffice in a bid to confront the hegemony of Microsoft. “The idea of using open source software not originated by an American multinational corporation seems to go down particularly well in the French public service,” says John McCreesh, marketing project lead of OpenOffice.org.
  • The French Gendarmerie’s gradual migration to a complete open source desktop and web applications has saved millions of euro, says Lieutenant-Colonel Xavier Guimard. “This year the IT budget will be reduced by 70 percent. This will not affect our IT systems.”
  • With about 30% of netbooks shipping with Linux, and users of even the Windows netbooks unlikely to purchase Microsoft Office (it would cost more than half again the cost of the entire machine), the company is in a difficult situation that is only going to get tougher.

    But on the other hand, consumers are benefitting from low cost machines that fill their needs quite well, and that is cause to celebrate.

  • Over the past decade open source software has become popular with technology users in India. The benefits of open source - affordability, availability of source code and freedom of choice - have made open source a preferred platform for many innovative Indian organizations and individuals…
And much, much more! Kudos to Benjamin for keeping such a solid focus on free software and OpenOffice. Read the full articles online at http://www.solidoffice.com/






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Bypass Content Filtering with Toonel


Fascinating approach to bypass content filtering:

1. Download and install Java Runtime from here.

2. Download Toonel from here. it comes with .jar extension which will only execute when already installed java runtime.

3. This part is where you start tunneling, just open the Toonel.jar file Thats it! seriously its done :p

4. Now open your browser under connection settings and put in “127.0.0.1″ (without quotes) as proxy address and “8080″ (without quotes) as port.

This method works for Windows, Mac and Linux.

I'll have to try it and see if it works...will report back.

Update: It works...off a flash drive and using java runtime environment. Wow.

Some potential ways to deal with this that a colleague suggested...
One way you should be able to stop the toonel bypass in windows machines, would be to disable the connections tab of the internet options. This would not allow the user to change the proxy ip or port number. The connections tab can be hidden through group policies. You would also want to stop users from using a registry editor, or they could just get that tab back, and change other things too.
Another approach:

Here is a simple short rule I made this morning that seems to block toonel. Just block the 3 ip addresses on your firewall. Will be watching if they change ip addresses.

drop tcp [85.25.120.147,216.117.134.180,87.118.102.154] any -> any any (msg:"Toonel.net Access";classtype:policy-violation; sid:2009032401; rev:2;)








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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure