Bill MacKenty

 
 
 

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Professional Development and short guides to help novice users navigate through tricky technology challenges.

 

Linux server with lots of students - assigning individual read / write for students in /var/www

Posted in HOWTO Linux Teaching Diary on 25 - April 2016 at 05:37 AM (6 years ago) 47 views.

I use (and love) linode for my web hosting, email, database, and other linux needs. I'll be using linode for my web applications class next year (about 15 students). I had a problem thinking how would I enable students to write to a web directory (var/www) without giving them all SUDO access (and allowing them to write into another students directory). 

This took me some time to find a solution, and it is beautifully simple (of course). Click here to see the thread

If you make /var/www writeable by its group and add the user to the group, that user will not have to use sudo. 

Try this: 

sudo adduser www-data 

sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www 

sudo chmod -R g+rwX /var/www 

 

The user should then be able to edit /var/www/ files without hassle. The first line adds the user to the www-data group, the second line clears up any files with messed up ownership, and the third makes it so that all users who are members of the www-data group can read and write all files in /var/www. If you are logged in as you need to log out and log back in for the group membership to take effect. I confirm this works.


QUESTION: moving to cloud-based storage

Posted in Blogging Educational Tech HOWTO web 2.0 on 28 - February 2011 at 01:21 PM (11 years ago) 18 views.

In response to this question: I would be interested in your experience, if you have made the switch, in moving to the ”clouds” for data storage. I can’t quite get my head wrapped around this concept, but am willing to try. Good question. First of all, let's get some terminology out of the way, just to be sure we are all on the same page. Definitions 1. Cloud computing (from wikipedia) : The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides a somewhat more objective and specific definition: "Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction." Ref: here I think of cloud-based storage as "file-storage service located on a remote cluster of high-availability servers, designed to be accessed anywhere, anytime, from anywhere with secure collaborative capabilities." 2. Data Storage: Purpose-built file storage, as opposed email-as-storage or google-docs as storage. This distinction is important because I know many people who use gmail as storage. I think you are asking about substituting an in-house file-server with cloud-based file server. Answer My experience in cloud-based storage has been overwhelmingly positive. We are slowly moving our students to dropbox. Starting in the 8th grade, our middle school integrator is testing dropbox. So far, it has been great. The cool thing about most cloud-based file servers is how they keep files available even when there is no network access. Unlike traditional file servers, cloud-based file servers sync excellently. Let's say you have three computers called Home, Laptop, and Work. If you are using local file storage (your hard disk) you will not be able to access the files from another computer (e.g. if you create a file on Home, you will not be able to access a file from Work). Most organizations have a file server that securely stores your files. Some organizations set up systems where you can access your Work files from your Home or Laptop computers, but this requires no small amount of careful configuration. If you are working on a file on your Laptop, there is no way for that file to be automatically added or synced to your Work or Home machines. Enter cloud-based storage. I use dropbox (watch the video on the front page) as my cloud based storage solution. The neat thing about dropbox (and their ilk) is how they synchronize files across several different computers. Let's say you are on your Work computer and you create a file called Budget. You save this file to your dropbox folder. every computer that is linked to your dropbox account then synchronizes that file. So your budget file is automatically added to your Home and Laptop computers. If you work on Budget at Home, it will be automatically saved to your Work and Laptop. If you a smartphone, and you've setup dropbox, it can be automatically updated there as well. So basically, anywhere you save, the file is updated on all the other computers that are connected to dropbox. Cool, huh? even if you lose network access you will still have access to your files. Files aren't so much STORED on the cloud as they are SYNCED on the cloud, and with approved devices. But wait, there's more. You can share folders with friends and colleagues. So you might have a folder in your dropbox folder called "for friends". You can control who has access to this folder, and anytime you add or remove something to this folder, your friends will have access to the files. Very handy, you don't even need to email files and folders. When I moved from New York City to Poland, I purchased the 50 gig option, and put EVERYTHING (music, files and photos) in dropbox. I could safely ship my desktop computer knowing everything was backed up. In the even you DO lose a file, you can simply restore it within dropbox by clicking "show deleted files". Keep in mind, you are only paying for what you use. You aren't paying for a server, and spending a bunch of time managing this server. It's really nice. It's not all roses, of course. In no particular, here are the issues with dropbox you should be aware of: 1. data ownership. If an employee saves their stuff in their dropbox it may be hard to keep the data when they leave (not only a problem for dropbox - think USB drives). 2. data security. By default, dropbox stays on a computer. If a laptop is stolen, a malicious person might be able to access the data on your dropbox folders (you can turn off syncing though, so this really isn't THAT big of a deal). 3. no network access. If you lose network for a LONG time (a week or so) 4. the first sync. When you first setup dropbox, it can take a very long time to synchronize your files (upload). Our director waited 3 or 4 days until all his files were uploaded. By now that they are online, he doesn't need to worry about what is where, even on his iphone, he has access to all his files. Hope this helps!


Great Prezi from Nick Kwan on the SAMR model

Posted in Educational Tech Design HOWTO web 2.0 on 09 - December 2010 at 08:33 AM (about 12 years ago) 17 views.

Please click here to see a fantastic Prezi from Nick Kwan, the High School tech integrator. Nick hilights the SAMR model and some good resources for our teachers. Enjoy!


MYSQL: changing a field type to longtext

Posted in HOWTO general computing Personal on 03 - December 2010 at 11:33 AM (12 years ago) 12 views.

Note to self: To change a mysql filedtype from mediumtext to longtext simply type: ALTER TABLE exp_templates CHANGE template_data template_data longtext; This will change the field "template_data" in the table "exp_templates" to longtext. Hope this helps someone.


It’s quiet

Posted in Educational Tech Design Leadership HOWTO google on 06 - October 2010 at 11:13 AM (12 years ago) 14 views.

Maybe this is what a successful IT transition looks like. We moved almost 200 users to google apps for education today, October 6th 2010. We have 30 in-house support people wandering around looking for trouble. We have loads of support and assistance. We've been busy the last month planning, meeting, talking, and acting. And now, the day of the transition - it's quiet. I've personally visited every classroom in our school, been in the business offices, and it's quiet. We are monitoring every system, and staring at our support inbox. we are absolutely primed to react quickly and decisively to email problems. We've communicated to everyone, many times, about this switch. I'll be honest, I didn't sleep well the last week, and had some nightmare scenarios floating through my head. Of course, we had a last-minute-almost-kill-the-whole-thing emergency. We were working on the issue until 11:00pm last night (someone in our organization had previously registered our older domain, so we couldn't create an alias to it - we had to delete the old apps, but in order to do that, we had to prove domain ownership, and yadda yadda yadda). Now, however, it's working. And it's quiet.


Transitioning to google apps for education

Posted in Educational Tech Design Leadership HOWTO google Text-based gaming on 02 - October 2010 at 12:37 PM (12 years ago) 16 views.

In four days, our school will be transitioning to google apps for education. I'm leading this transition, it's my first big organizational change as a director of technology. When I started as the director of technology here, half the school was using google apps for education (using one domain) and the other half of the school was using Novell Groupwise (using a different domain). Messages were being forwarded, pop'ed, filtered, and missed. It wasn't a great situation. Moreover, there was no school-wide calendaring solution; again, the result of two different systems. Usually, when you want to create change in an organization, you really need to get buy-in. You know, all those buzzwords like stakeholders, collaboration, shared-vision, etc. All that stuff is important. If you don't bring people on board when you change, they won't buy it and the change won't work. However, in this case, we just did it. I believe the success or failure of this change will hinge on the professional development, training and support our staff receives. The actual technical change is minor (we are simply pointing the old domain MX records to google's MX records - not rocket science). However for end users, this is a big change. Like any organization, we have a bell-curve of technical ability. Some uber-users, and some people who, well, aren't uber. We: 1. Setup a gmail moodle course chock full of resources, links, videos, PDFs, FAQ's, etc. 2. Recruited in-house gmail experts (calling them gmail ninjas). Out of 170 end-users, we have 30 people who will be walking around on "switchover day" ready to make a difference, offer assistance, and ask for help. 3. We have already moved all email, contacts, and cabinets from groupwise to gmail. I think this is a key point: users need to know what they don't know before you train them. This way, when training starts, they have a long list of questions. 4. We bought this fantastic video training from boost elearning. I'm no shill, but these guys do a whole lot right. My entire staff has a full year of gmail web-based training. From anywhere. And the courses are designed so users can just learn the part they are interested in; want to make a vacation responder? It's a two-minute video. 5. I met with each faculty and carefully explained WHY we are moving, and what benefits we expect to realize as a result of this switch. I listened carefully to concerns (what happens if the cloud blows up and data ownership). Based on these concerns, we purchased a backup solution for our school - all users have their documents, emails, and calendar data backed up on a third-party server. 6. Setup increased monitoring - monitors with outgoing / incoming status, monitors looking at every device in our organization (thank you Nagios), monitoring for our wireless status. We have a control center where everyone can see everything that is happening on our network. 7. I will be sharing our communication strategy on Monday - who calls who if a user cant access email, regular check-in times through the day. We've also setup a hot-support line with our external ISP. They will be on standby if we need anything. 8. Our in-house support help will be wearing t-shirts on the switchover day. I think it matters to actually see the people who are helping. I'll keep my finger crossed, and of course look forward to any comments or questions as we move forward.


HOWTO: reset lamp hours for a 600i series 2 unfi 45

Posted in Blogging HOWTO general computing on 23 - September 2009 at 06:11 PM (13 years ago) 14 views.

To reset the lamp timer on a UNFI 45 (source here). 1. Press the power button on the ECP or remote twice to put the projector back into Standby mode. The power button light on the ECP turns solid amber when the projector is in Standby. 2. Press and hold the up button on the remote control for approximately 10 seconds. When the projector beeps, press and hold the down button on the remote control for approximately 10 seconds. The lamp timer clears after another beep. 3. Press the power button on the ECP or remote to start up the system. The power button light on the ECP turns solid green when the system starts. 4. To confirm that the lamp timer has been reset, press the MENU button on the remote control. Scroll to the Status Display menu heading, and then confirm that 0 h appears in the Lamp timer field. Your lamp reset count has increased by one. 5. Wait five minutes for the projector lamp to warm up. 6. After confirming that the lamp timer has been reset, put the system in Standby mode by pressing the power button twice on the ECP or remote. The power button light on the ECP turns solid amber when the system is in Standby. 7. Wait for the system to enter Standby mode, turn off the projector’s master power switch to shut off the system, and then turn on the projector’s master power switch. 8. When you are ready to use the system, press the power button on the ECP to start up the system. 9. get out bottle of something strong 10. Drink until pain goes away.


HOWTO: Blackboard: how to add and remove students from your courses

Posted in HOWTO blackboard on 03 - September 2009 at 08:15 PM (13 years ago) 12 views.

howto_remove_and_add_students.pdf


HOWTO: turn a normal name into a username with excel

Posted in HOWTO general computing office on 03 - September 2009 at 12:01 AM (13 years ago) 15 views.

How do I take a list of first names and last names and turn it into a username? The answer is here: HOWTO_turn_a_normal_name_into_a_username_with_Excel.pdf


OS X HOWTO : finding recently changed files

Posted in HOWTO os x on 27 - August 2009 at 03:41 PM (13 years ago) 19 views.

Yummy, yummy yummy: 1. open terminal 2. type any of these: find . -mtime -1 -print find . -ctime -3 find . -type f -mtime -20 I knew this was possible on OS X, I had forgotten. Thanks to Paul Chiu at 24hourapps for the nice entry. And of course, find's man's page.


OS X HOWTO: Saving to a specific folder

Posted in HOWTO os x on 25 - July 2008 at 04:50 AM (14 years ago) 18 views.

OS X HOWTO: Saving to a specific folder (doc) OS X HOWTO: Saving to a specific folder (pdf)


Google: animated guides for google applications

Posted in HOWTO google on 14 - July 2008 at 04:14 PM (14 years ago) 17 views.

[url=http://services.google.com/apps/resources/overviews/welcome/topicWelcome/index.html]http://services.google.com/apps/resources/overviews/welcome/topicWelcome/index.html[/url]


OS X HOWTO: record a narrative using garage band

Posted in HOWTO os x on 23 - June 2008 at 07:45 PM (14 years ago) 12 views.

HOWTO-_record_a_narrative_using_garage_band.doc HOWTO-_record_a_narrative_using_garage_band.pdf


Google: Managing google alerts

Posted in HOWTO office on 09 - April 2008 at 08:59 PM (14 years ago) 11 views.

Creating_and_Managing_Google_Alerts.pdf


Office: how to annotate a Word document

Posted in HOWTO office on 08 - April 2008 at 09:46 PM (14 years ago) 11 views.

how_to_annotate.pdf


HOWTO: using YouTube in education

Posted in HOWTO web 2.0 on 26 - March 2008 at 04:12 PM (14 years ago) 13 views.

...because if a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine what a video can say... doc format pdf format docx format PS: I hate the new office interface, but their default stylesheet is quite pretty.


Office: how to password protect an office document

Posted in HOWTO general computing office on 16 - August 2007 at 06:00 PM (15 years ago) 13 views.

How_to_protect_your_office_documents.pdf


HOWTO: Use google pages

Posted in HOWTO google on 26 - July 2007 at 05:55 PM (15 years ago) 12 views.

Using_Google_Pages_to_make_a_classroom_webpage.pdf


Using Google documents

Posted in HOWTO google on 12 - March 2007 at 11:05 PM (15 years ago) 21 views.

This is a small PDF which helps very new users use Google documents. Google documents is an excellent tool for educators and students - you can edit and save documents online (and access them from anywhere). You can also invite collaborators to help you edit your work (or have students do some good collaborative writing).


HOWTO: Blackboard: organizing folders

Posted in HOWTO blackboard on 18 - October 2006 at 07:27 PM (16 years ago) 15 views.

image This HOWTO will help new users organize their folders on the Blackboard information system.


HOWTO: Blackboard: manging links

Posted in HOWTO blackboard on 28 - September 2006 at 09:24 PM (16 years ago) 13 views.

image This PDF may be helpful to those who want to use the "external links" feature of Blackboard . To be honest, though, compared to del.icio.us the blackboard system is a joke. Here's my case for using del.icio.us, and here is my HOWTO guide to get started. Enjoy!


HOWTO: Blackboard: Course Documents

Posted in HOWTO blackboard on 28 - September 2006 at 09:21 PM (16 years ago) 11 views.

image This is a PDF for those interested in course documents in blackboard. These HOWTO's are part of my ongoing effort to share my technology professional development with the educational community 😊


HOWTO: Blackboard: Staff information

Posted in HOWTO blackboard on 15 - September 2006 at 08:51 PM (16 years ago) 11 views.

image This PDF should help new users use the staff information module in blackboard.


HOWTO: Blackboard: books

Posted in HOWTO blackboard on 15 - September 2006 at 07:53 PM (16 years ago) 11 views.

image This small PDF helps new users who are interested in using the book module in blackboard.


HOWTO: google: sending email from different accounts

Posted in HOWTO google on 15 - September 2006 at 07:02 PM (16 years ago) 13 views.

image This PDF is a guide to creating other accounts in gmail. If you have many email addresses, it can be a pain to check them nay times during the day. If you have set up forwarding rule (a rule which forwards all your email to google), you can then reply to that email using one of your other addresses. This is especially handy for sending emails to co-workers, friends, and shopping sites (I always use a generic email for my shopping, and keep a private email for friends).


HOWTO: Google: setting up groups in google (especially for teachers!)

Posted in HOWTO google on 15 - September 2006 at 06:58 PM (16 years ago) 12 views.

image This small pdf is a guide especially for teachers to create and manage groups on google. The advantage? you can organize groups into classes (or even parents) and easily fire off one email to a group (for example, an upcoming homework assignment or field trip). Very handy.


HOWTO: Blackboard: assignments

Posted in HOWTO blackboard on 15 - September 2006 at 06:24 PM (16 years ago) 11 views.

image This small PDF will walk new users through the blackboard assignment systems. It's a really neat system, and worth taking a look at!


HOWTO: Blackboard: course information

Posted in HOWTO blackboard on 15 - September 2006 at 12:10 AM (16 years ago) 11 views.

image This is a small PDF helping new users understand how to use course documents in blackboard. Quite a handy thing, course documents are.


HOWTO: Blackboard: announcements

Posted in HOWTO blackboard on 14 - September 2006 at 09:33 PM (16 years ago) 11 views.

image This PDF will help new users understand how to manage announcements in the blackboard information system.


HOWTO: Blackboard: introduction to the control panel

Posted in HOWTO blackboard on 14 - September 2006 at 09:03 PM (16 years ago) 11 views.

image This is a small PDF explaining the different parts of the control panel for blackboard (version 5.5, but it's not that different than 6)


Excel gradebook templates

Posted in Educational Tech HOWTO office on 31 - August 2006 at 12:35 AM (16 years ago) 15 views.

image This is an excel gradebook template I just finished. I grabbed the basic layout (and some formulas) from here, and then added some cool features: 1) there are 5 different categories of assignments 2) each assignment can be weighted 3) the gradebook dynamically calculates the score depending on the category (which is cool, imho). PLEASE tell me if you find any bugs and/or problems. Thanks!


Windows HOWTO: Using Acrobat Reader for new users

Posted in HOWTO general computing on 19 - July 2006 at 09:09 PM (16 years ago) 11 views.

This small pdf is a guide for new users to use acrobat reader. It covers zooming and selecting text.


Windows HOWTO: Creating filters in Eudora

Posted in HOWTO general computing on 06 - July 2006 at 07:59 PM (16 years ago) 12 views.

This pdf is a short guide for new users to create a filter in Eudora. There is also a short section to help newer users set out of office messages (vaction messages). Enjoy!


HOWTO: using giffy.com

Posted in HOWTO web 2.0 on 28 - June 2006 at 09:54 PM (16 years ago) 12 views.

This PDF is a small guide to help new users use gliffy. Enjoy.


HOWTO: using del.icio.us

Posted in HOWTO web 2.0 on 28 - June 2006 at 08:25 PM (16 years ago) 20 views.

This PDF will help new users understand how to use del.icio.us, a social bookmarking tool (incidentally, here is my del.icio.us list).


HOWTO: Introduction to quickmaps.com

Posted in HOWTO web 2.0 on 28 - June 2006 at 07:17 PM (16 years ago) 13 views.

This PDF is a guide for new users to use the fun site quickmaps. This site would be especially cool for social studies and and geography.


Windows HOWTO: excel and charting

Posted in HOWTO on 28 - June 2006 at 06:46 PM (16 years ago) 12 views.

This PDF is a short guide for new users who are curious about creating graphing and charting.


Windows HOWTO: Introduction to excel

Posted in HOWTO on 27 - June 2006 at 09:54 PM (16 years ago) 11 views.

This rather small PDF is an introduction to Excel for really new users. Enjoy!


HOWTO: wiki’s and you

Posted in HOWTO web 2.0 on 27 - June 2006 at 01:23 AM (16 years ago) 13 views.

I've written about wiki's here and here. This PDF helps new users understand how to edit an entry in wikipedia.


Windows HOWTO: smartboard 101

Posted in HOWTO on 26 - June 2006 at 11:44 PM (16 years ago) 11 views.

This word document shows very basic smartboard tips and tricks.


Windows: HOWTO powerpoint grouping and motion paths

Posted in HOWTO on 26 - June 2006 at 09:26 PM (16 years ago) 12 views.

This pdf is for advanced users. It covers grouping and motion paths. Here's a short movie helping you understand grouping And here's one for motion paths


Windows HOWTO: using flickr

Posted in HOWTO web 2.0 on 26 - June 2006 at 07:30 PM (16 years ago) 15 views.

This short PDF introduces flickr, a really cool online photo organizer. Check it out!


Windows HOWTO: printing in powerpoint

Posted in HOWTO office on 23 - June 2006 at 11:44 PM (16 years ago) 11 views.

This small PDF will help users see how to print powerpoint slides in that neat "notes" view. Here's a handy movie to watch if you'd like another perspective


Windows HOWTO: Powerpoint advanced

Posted in HOWTO office on 23 - June 2006 at 11:10 PM (16 years ago) 11 views.

This pdf covers: Inserting clip art into your presentation Inserting pictures and other graphics files into Powerpoint Slide Transitions Inserting Videos Animations (basic) Here are some movies to help you better understand this: Inserting clip art: part 1 Inserting clip art: part 2 Inserting pictures Adding transitions Custom animations


Windows HOWTO: inserting clipart in word

Posted in HOWTO office on 23 - June 2006 at 07:43 PM (16 years ago) 11 views.

This PDF is a simple guide for inserting clip art and pictures into Word. It is targeted for novice users. This is a short movie explaining the same idea


Windows HOWTO: getting clipart

Posted in HOWTO on 23 - June 2006 at 07:41 PM (16 years ago) 13 views.

This PDF is a simple guide grabbing clip art and free stock photography from the internet. It is targeted for novice users.


Windows HOWTO: Introduction to powerpoint

Posted in HOWTO office on 22 - June 2006 at 11:35 PM (16 years ago) 19 views.

This small PDF is a simple guide for getting started with Powerpoint. It is targeted for novice users with little to no experience using Windows. Here's a movie illustrating the same idea


Windows HOWTO: introduction to Windows

Posted in HOWTO general computing on 21 - June 2006 at 09:34 PM (16 years ago) 11 views.

This small PDF is an extraordinarily simple guide for getting started with Windows. It is targeted for novice users with little to no experience using Windows.


OS X HOWTO: introduction to Word

Posted in HOWTO office os x on 05 - June 2006 at 07:38 PM (16 years ago) 10 views.

This short guide will help new users understand Microsoft Word. This HOWTO is targetted towards new and novice users.


OS X HOWTO: Using iCal

Posted in HOWTO os x on 05 - June 2006 at 07:35 PM (16 years ago) 15 views.

ICal is a really neat calendar / appointment application that comes with OS X. This how to use iCal PDF will heelp new users manage appointments, alarms, and print calendars.


OS X HOWTO: Introduction to OS X

Posted in HOWTO os x on 05 - June 2006 at 07:33 PM (16 years ago) 11 views.

This introduction to OS X will help new users familiarize themselves with OS X (version 10.4).


OS X HOWTO: backing up using a USB thumb drive

Posted in HOWTO os x on 05 - June 2006 at 07:23 PM (16 years ago) 11 views.

Backing up on USB drive is easy and everyone should be doing it daily. This small PDF will help OS X users quickly back up their important files onto a usb disk.


OS X HOWTO: use a usb thumb drive

Posted in HOWTO os x on 05 - June 2006 at 07:17 PM (16 years ago) 11 views.

This is a small PDF which provides very basic instruction for using a USB thumb drive. These instructions are for OS X. I will be uploading / adding several professional development documents I've made over the past few years. You can find them in the ed-tech section, which has better organization.