Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Google Calendar Settings

The google calendar is a great tool to schedule meetings, appointments and events.  To make to most of your calendar, make sure your settings are correct...
Follow this link for details and note the highlighted settings

Open Office Support

As the school year progresses and you continue to work on new and existing office files, keep in mind that the Technology Department is here to help:

Open Office (OO) offers batch conversion (the conversion of entire folders of documents in a single pass) for files generated in Office 2002 (XP). You can even convert Word, Excel and Powerpoint files at the same time.

  • File → Wizards → Document Converter

Professional Development Center Staff

  • 1:1 support for working in new and existing documents

  • Will convert document from legacy formats to OO

  • Available from 7:30 – 4 Mon – Fri.

Machines will be placed in each departmental area with MS Office for converting documents

  • Will be accessible through the end of the first semester

Summer projects for conversion of curricular materials

  • Projects to convert existing legacy MS Office files to OO

Check out these resources:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wireless Access after School Hours

Wireless services are available around the clock within the boundaries of our facilities for any NTHS Faculty or Student. If you are using a wireless device that has been pre-configured to use the NTHS-Faculty wireless network, then there is no further action required and you should be able to connect to our network seamlessly. If you choose to connect via the NTHS-Student wireless network, upon opening your browser, you will be prompted to log in with your regular credentials. Even thou our wireless network is available at all the times, access to it by visitors and guests is only possible by using the guest account. The guest account is for temporary use only and active (enabled) only during weekdays between 7:00 a.m and 9:00 p.m. Faculty and staff members hosting events or visitors that will require guest access to our wireless network should contact the HelpDesk, ahead of time, to enquire about the guest account information and also to inform the IS office of their intentions. It is possible to expand the hours or even enable weekend access to the guest account but we need early notification and also, we need you to test ahead of time to avoid last minute pitfalls. Finally, since the guest account information gets shared a lot, we feel that in order to protect our data network and limit access to uninvited guests, its password needs to be reset very often thus we ask you to find out from the Help Desk the new password EVERY time that you plan on using it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

AAL Training Is Up And Running

The AAL Help Desk is happy to report that our training program is up and running. Students can sign up for training with our Tuesdays With Google program or Web Applications Thursdays. On these days, student Tech Leaders offer small workshops on specific topics. So far, the Tech Leaders have offered courses in Basic Google Docs, Using the Calendar and Task Bar for Homework Management, and Configuring Dropbox. Topics change weekly and can be suggested by the students.

In addition, the Tech Leaders continue to offer one-to-one tutorials on all netbook-related topics. Any student is welcome to request a tutorial. We train individuals on all aspects of Google Apps as well as on virtually any Web 2.0 application. Students sign up for tutorials here.

Gmail Power User Tools

PC World recently published an article touting Gmail labs called 15 Add-OnstoBecomeaGmailPowerUser. We’ve combined some of those tips along with a few of our favorites to help you get the most out of Gmail.

imageTo enable labs, click on the options icon in the upper right corner of the screen and click on Labs.

Judy and Cindy’s Favorite Gmail Labs:

Undo Send: Hit "Send" too soon? Stop messages from being sent for a few seconds (5 to 30 seconds) after hitting the send button. After enabling Undo Send, go to the ‘General’ tab in Mail Settings and change the cancellation period to the desired duration.image

Send and Archive: Adds a button to the compose email box that allows you to reply and file away a conversation in one step.

Canned Responses: Are there email messages that are repeated over and over? Save them and then send your common messages by just clicking a button and selecting the specific canned response!

Inserting Images: Adding images to emails can make them more interesting and can include content in the email that would otherwise need to be an attachment. Enable this lab in order to have access to the Insert Image icon on the ‘Compose Mail’ toolbar.

Default Text Styling: Would you prefer Times New Roman to Arial, or perhaps large text to small text, in your email messages? Once this lab is enabled, go to the 'General' tab on the 'Settings' page and change the default text styling to better suit your preferences.

Message Sneak Peek: Peek into a conversation without opening it by right-clicking on a message in your inbox.

Signature tweaks: Places your signature before the quoted text in a reply, and removes the "--" line that appears before signatures.

Create a Document: Allows you to create a Google Document from within email conversation. By going to More, Create a Document, your email message will automatically become a Google Doc!

Preview Pane: Provides a horizontal or vertical pane to read mail right next to or below your list of conversations, making mail reading faster without leaving your inbox.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wireless Issues

Net_DiagnosisEarlier this school year at Niles West, our wireless infrastructure hardware experienced a critical malfunction, causing a lack of connectivity and ongoing disconnects throughout the building. The hardware manufacturer, Meru, has provided us with a replacement controller, which is now in place. We have also increased the bandwidth to the controller four-fold, for better throughput between the wi-fi and the rest of our network. As a result, connectivity has improved exponentially. 
One thing to be aware of: during the first 3-5 minutes of a class period, when all the students in the building are authenticating to the Wireless Web Portal at the same time, a slowdown may occur in loading the authentication page. This is a known issue and we are currently addressing it with Meru's engineers. 
Meanwhile, here are some tips for improving your students' wireless experience:
  • Firefox loads the Wireless Web Portal page faster, and times out less often than Chrome; when students experience the above scenario, have them switch to Firefox.
  • When a netbook does not connect to the NTHS-STUDENT network at all, please have students delete all the locally cached wireless networks and reboot the netbook - see this video for step by step instructions
  • If the same students have repeated problems, have them stop by the AAL Help Desk to have their netbooks reimaged. We've noticed that the students who have connectivity issues also tend to be the ones who make changes to the netbook's Operating System or perform other system tweaks, which in turn can render the wireless drivers unstable. Reimaging the netbook will bring it back to the District's tested and approved specs.
As we are continually testing and assessing the state of the network, one important component is your input regarding any outstanding Wi-Fi issues in your classroom(s). Please fill out our Wi-Fi troubleshooting form with the specifics of any particular issue you are experiencing and we will contact you directly to further address your specific issue. The Wi-Fi troubleshooting form can be found at:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Technology Innovation Grants

DiffusionOfInnovationEach year the Technology Committee for School Improvement (TCSI) and the Board of Education provides a grant to foster technology innovations in the classroom. There is $25,000 available in competitive funds for each building.  Each application will be judged by members of TCSI.  If you have questions about the programs or need help with your application, your TCSI representative will be happy to help you.

To complete the online form, please follow this link: - NO PAPER SUBMISSIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED.October 20, 2011.

Mike Beeftink
Angela Condon
Judy Duesenberg
David Ruth
Mike Utter
Joe Edwards
Matt Fahrenbacher
Liz Shay
Phil Lacey
Josef Neumayer
Chris Powell

All requests must be submitted by Friday, October 14, 2011 and will be decided upon at the next TCSI meeting on

Student Netbooks

Check-out his brief video on the netbooks, “Netbooks 101”.  And don’t forget to check-out the student’s help desk site.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sharing public documents in google apps

About a week or so ago, it was brought to our attention that some teachers were creating a google doc or google form and changing the permissions to make them Open to the Public. With these settings, anyone should have been able to open these documents or forms without any issue as long as they had the link. However, we noticed that when these docs or forms were created on and shared with students on, the students would get an error message saying "Invalid Email" when they tried to access the wide open document while logged into their account. If they logged out and tried to open the document even though, they wouldn't have a problem.
This wasn't an issue in the past but it seemed to start this year. We found that this was due to the way we had Single Sign On (SSO) setup for the faculty and the student accounts. After a few changes and some testing, this is no longer an issue. Now, if anyone shares a link to a wide open document between the two domains (teachers to students or students to teachers), the end user receiving the link will not get an error message if they are still logged into their Google Apps account.