Tag Archives: apple

Augmented Reality – Don’t be bamboozled!

Hey are you looking to buy bridge? I mean who doesn’t need a bridge? I’ll sell it to you and you can charge a toll for all the cars, bikes and people that will cross it and before you know it, you’ll be swimming in money! So what do you say?

Apple is holding an event next week (September 15, 2020) where they will announce some new iPads and a new Apple Watch and augmented reality (AR) will be a big part of the event. If you’re not familiar augmented reality watch the video below (it’s a little annoying but short).

The Pitch (I mean) Promise

Apple (amongst others) has been trying to push AR onto us as the next big thing for a while. It was first brought up during the release of the iPhone 8 and 10 and while it is pretty neat to see a life size tiger in your living room and to have the ability to view furniture in your home before you purchase it, AR does not solve any problems.

Microsoft, makers of the HoloLens, have changed the focus of their device from an everyday, every person device; to a more industrial vision of a workers consulting with experts back in a home office who can see exactly what the employee sees and can interact through their display by overlaying instructions, schematics and directions onto their real world through AR. They focused the use of their product and found a place where it can be used.

So why bring this up?

These companies keep trying to sell AR as an idea and to show what it can do as opposed to showing what problems it can solve. They do this by having very flashy, professional examples of what it can do and the promise that developers can take it to the next level. They want you to buy and then find a place for it in your school or classroom.

The problem is this doesn’t solve anything. Computers in the classroom solves a problem. It gives students and teachers access to the Internet and tools with which to collaborate, create and organize their classwork, their curriculum and multiple ways to present said curriculum and work.

Projectors and displays in classrooms solve a problem. They allow teachers to present videos, documents and electronic examples of projects to an entire class so everyone can easily view that information. This is technology that solves a problem and has a purpose.

Now ask yourself, what problem does AR solve? What is its purpose?

Don’t worry if you can’t come up with big educational issues that AR addresses. You’re not alone. Check out this article from CNET: Apples AR Plans are becoming more of a reality by Ian Sherr.

Here is a professional tech journalist having difficulties to even guess what “reality” actually means with AR. What is its purpose and how can it fit into the everyday world. It still sounds like a hobby for some developers and not really a serious option for businesses, education or the everyday person.

This sounds familiar?

We heard the same thing with virtual reality. It was going to be the next big tech! It was going to transform how we:

  • Work
  • Shop
  • Collaborate
  • Game
  • Live
  • Etc

It didn’t really shake up the world like people had predicated. Outside of video games (most have not been very impressive) I don’t see people reaching for their VR goggles when something needs to be done.

Now you only see it for video games and simulations. It is a far cry from William Gibson’s Neuromancer novels. The first one is a really good read by the way.

Not useless though

I am not saying that this isn’t cool tech because it is pretty neat and I have seen it in use. Some of the more common examples are in the medical field where doctors can simulate operations or view scans and cross-sections of the body without actually having to physically lay their hands on a cadaver. I have also seen examples in industry. Where a technician could be teleconferencing with an expert back at an office going and working in tandem to solve a problem, install a product or troubleshoot issues.

Why the hate?

It’s not hate, its cautionary. Companies are going to try and sell this to you. When Apple takes the stage next week they want you to buy their products. I guarantee a “revolutionary” feature they are going to talk about is augmented reality. In reality, no one needs this.

If you are a bleeding edge educator and want to dive into the deep end with AR go right ahead. Just make sure that when you are promoted, leave for another job at another school, retire or change departments; that you have left enough documentation, projects, support and ideas for the next person to step in and take it over. If you don’t, it will wither on the vine and that investment right along with it.

Remember that it is just a sales pitched. I encourage you to spend your money elsewhere and continue to watch the space. It may develop into something more. Right now, in its current state, it’s not going to leave a dent in education.

Don’t be suckered.

Cybersecurity Part 4: Surviving Ransomware

ransomware-3998798_1280

By Tony DePrato | Follow Me on LinkedIn

The scope of all the following arguments is for equipment owned by the school, or equipment approved to use at school. This post is not promoting policies for personal devices used solely at home, nor is this post addressing devices that may be used for entertainment or non-academic purposes.

Ransomware, in its most basic form, is self-explanatory. Data is captured, encrypted, and held for ransom until a fee is paid. The two most common forms of ransomware delivery are through email and websites.~ https://insights.sei.cmu.edu/sei_blog/2017/05/ransomware-best-practices-for-prevention-and-response.html

Ransomware is scary. Ransomware, once it begins to propagate, becomes more about survival and mitigation and less about prevention.

I have thought about how to advise K12 schools around the world how to prepare for ransomware. I have concluded that there are only two approaches everyone can follow: Reduce or Completely Remove Windows and Create Very Inconvenient Backups of Data. 

Reduce or Completely Remove Windows

I decided to compile known types of ransomware. I stopped at 106 identified types. Here is a graph, and link to the sources, that demonstrate what operating systems are vulnerable:

Screen Shot 2020-02-19 at 8.58.44 AM

Data Link

If you want to do the math:

  • 106 Ransomware programs
  • 100 Target Windows Operating Systems
  • 93%-94% of Targets are Windows Operating Systems
  • Using Windows is Riskier than Using other Systems

“Riskier” is a little weak in this case. It is very likely that Windows users will be a target, it is very unlikely that Apple and Chromebook users will be a target.

If the goal is to live in a relatively peaceful ransomware free environment, then the majority of end-users need to be using Apple or Chrome-based devices (Linux varieties are also an option for a subset of users).

There are tools for Windows that help defend and protect against ransomware. However, nothing is better than not being attacked at all.

Create Very Inconvenient Backups of Data

Every time I ask an IT director or IT manager about backups, they claim they are 100% compliant and 100% able to deal with any problems. I have never believed my planning was close to 100%, nor have I ever believed I could restore 100% of all data. I would say, at my best, I am 60%-70% certain that I can restore 80%-90% of data.

Data. Not operating systems and settings. Data. Not the software that was installed. Just all the data consisting of but not limited to documents, databases, movies, music, pictures, special configuration files, scripts and code, and the inclusive content of all websites.

There is only one question a person needs to ask to confirm if backups are safe from ransomware: “Can the backup be accessed right now if we need it?”.

If the answer is ‘Yes’, then backups are going to be vulnerable.

There should be at least two layers of backups. Layer one can be data that is backed-up and accessible on the network, in the cloud, and/or from normal workstations. Meaning, someone can sit down and create or restore a laptop, database, etc by following a workflow at their desk.

Layer two backups are inconvenient. These backups are stored outside of the normal network. These backups are scheduled and not even accessible by network administrators without taking extra steps. These backups require some level of multifactor authentication or even a physical lock and key.

Backup

Layer two backups also need to be tested at least monthly (this is only recommended for K12 schools most businesses need to test more frequently; school districts would need to test very often and on a predetermined schedule).

Tests need to include:

  1. Data restoration
  2. Data access and use
  3. A scan for malware, ransomware, etc
  4. An iterative process to consistently reduce the size of backups
  5. An archival process to store data that will most likely never be needed, but is legally required to store
  6. Imagination. Because you never know where you will be and what the situation will be when you need to access these backups

A very low tech approach to a layer two back-up could include someone taking an external drive to the data source, moving the data manually, and then locking the drive in a safe. Do not overthink this, just start doing it and keep improving the process. If you can access these backups from your workstation, then those backups are vulnerable by definition.

If ransomware happens, and the data cannot be decrypted, this layer two data would be safe as it would be offline. Layer one backups may stay secure, but layer two backups will be secure unless you are victim of very bad timing.

The cybersecurity industry is rapidly developing better protocols for handling ransomware. Staying educated and studying cases is not only essential, but it should also be scheduled into the cycle of work at least once every 6-8 weeks.

The data above could change. An uptick in ransomware for Chrome or Apple of even 1% is enough to review internal processes and procedures. Until then though, get the number of Windows OS users down and make better backups.

businessman hand holding money banknote for paying the key from

Start Your Research Here

Ransomware: Best Practices for Prevention and Response

https://insights.sei.cmu.edu/sei_blog/2017/05/ransomware-best-practices-for-prevention-and-response.html

The Absolute Best Accessory for Your Apple Laptop

usb1By Tony DePrato | Follow Me on LinkedIn

I am not one to recommend products. However, lately, I have come to realize that since Apple removed all the useful ports on their laptops, I am reliant on a single $2.00 piece of hardware: a USB C-Port Adapter. This little piece of plastic magic makes my workflow work.

This tool is a simple design at a modest price point, yet, it is often the solution that moves a project from idea to reality. I connect dozens of devices using this technology bridge in order to deliver curriculum, podcasts, 3D printed objects, etc.

The most remarkable quality this small island of magic possesses is that is constantly reminds me that we do not need solve problems via upgrades. We should be solving problems with technology and educational technology by tightening our workflows and being resourceful.

There seems to be a constant insistence that X is not fast enough, or Y is not dependable. I constantly hear people state that the equipment they have in 2019 cannot solve a 2001 problem. The issue is rarely the stuff, the issue is usually the workflow.

Try Something New with Something Old

Here is an exercise I would recommend everyone try on their campus. This can be done for fun, as club, or as some type of fun challenge.

Have departments, staff, students, and other community members submit some issues or problems that continue to linger in the classrooms (learning spaces). Appoint a small team to review the problems, and choose one.

Finally, put this problem out to those willing to compete for a solution with the following criteria:

  1. The total budget that can be used to solve the problem must be less than $10.00 (or equivalent)
  2. Solving the problem using used equipment, materials, recyclables, etc. earns teams extra points
  3. Using school owned equipment to plan and produce a solution is required; donations are not allowed

Professionally, I actually try to follow this process all the time. The items above are on a personal check-list. My goal is to model a solution using existing resources.

What if It Works?

Often real solutions arise that are functional, but below standard. That is not a bad thing. The school has empowered a community driven development cycle, and created a working prototype under the umbrella of healthy competition. There are no losers in this game, everyone learns, and everyone wins.

In fact, if a school can continue to improve the process, and raise the standard internally, the outcome would be a community built and maintained solution. Older students can keep the momentum going as long as school mentors and leaders provide regular oversight.

Small Solutions have Real Power

This small solution below, is actually very important to my workflow.

usb2

No one needs to build a Tesla to change the world for the better. It is important to develop a philosophy of empowering students and teachers to create small things that improve daily workflows, increase efficiency, and add comfort and entertainment to the campus.

Start small. Ask questions. Find a problem. Make a prototype. Change the world.

Episode 165 – Projector Search

Tony and Patrick are back with a scintillating show talking about Apple, projectors, Python and more! Check out the talking points below and as always subscribe to us on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app

  1. What’s everyone been up to?

    1. It’s not TV it’s HBO – seriously?
  2. Apple kills a number of parenting apps

    1. NY Times article by Jack Nicaus- https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/27/technology/apple-screen-time-trackers.html?utm_source=Mobicip+Newsletter&utm_campaign=40412b0160-newsletter_may_2019_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d79046fb92-40412b0160-381664949&mc_cid=40412b0160&mc_eid=7241c605ec
    2. Apple’s response – https://www.macrumors.com/2019/05/01/devs-urge-apple-to-release-screen-time-apis/
    3. What this means for parents?
  3. Projector Search

    1. Laser vs Bulbed – LASER is the way to go
    2. Cost of bulbs
    3. Short throw vs Standard
  4. Python Creator Quits:

    1. https://developers.slashdot.org/story/19/05/05/0532257/python-creator-guido-van-rossum-blames-his-resignation-partly-on-social-media

Download this episode here

Listen to it below

https://itbabble.podomatic.com/enclosure/2019-05-13T12_45_50-07_00.mp3″

Episode 158 – Trends? Maybe not

Tony and Patrick are back for another great episode. Check out the talking points below and be sure to subscribe to us on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app.

  1. Apple, Microsoft and Amazon’s events
    1. Apple – https://www.macrumors.com/2018/09/12/everything-apple-announced-2018-iphone-event/
    2. Microsoft – https://www.theverge.com/2018/10/2/17923080/microsoft-event-2018-announcements-news-surface-laptop-windows-10-updates
    3. Amazon – https://www.theverge.com/2018/9/20/17882582/amazon-event-september-2018-echo-alexa-speaker-news
      1. https://aws.amazon.com/deeplens/
    4. https://www.samsung.com/global/galaxy/galaxy-tab-s4/
    5. New Apple Event – October 30th
  2. Chromebook
    1. Project Streaming – https://projectstream.google.com/aco/invite
    2. https://techcrunch.com/2018/10/01/google-gets-into-game-streaming-with-project-stream-and-assassins-creed-odyssey-in-chrome/
  3. Predictions, Patience and Observations by Patrick
    1. https://itbabble.com/2018/09/23/predictions-patience-and-observation/
    2. Beware of predictions and getting “caught up” in the moment.
  4. Tony topic: Scheduling – Don’t be a trendsetter.
    1. Steve Jobs Lost Interview – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBh5_j4a1yo
    2. aSc Timetable: https://www.asctimetables.com/
  5. https://www.pgatour.com/tournaments/the-cj-cup-at-nine-bridges.html

Download this episode here!

Episode 157 – Welcome Back

Tony and I kick off the school year in style with a fantastic podcast. Check out the talking points below and as always subscribe to us on your favorite podcasting app or on iTunes.

  1. School’s back in session!
  2. Goals for this year?
  3. New tech for this year?
    1. Amazon App Stream
    2. https://aws.amazon.com/appstream2/
    3. Make sure you have educational pricing – contact Tony for support
    4. Laser Printer – https://glowforge.com/
    5. https://www.rolanddga.com/products/3d
  4. Apple Event this week – anything we would like to see?
  5. Windows Surface Go
    1. https://bit.ly/2NWySj3
  6. Lenovo YogaBook 2 https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2018/6/1/17416526/lenovo-yoga-book-2-pro

FYI:

They have a TEEN Program:

http://www.iub.edu/~iumakes/

https://www.fablabs.io/labs/acplgeorgetownmakerlab

You can download this episode HERE!

Episode 151 – iPads are a bore

 

Tony and Patrick are back after spring break! What better way to return than with a great podcast. Check out the talking points below and be sure to subscribe to us on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app.

  1. Apple’s education event
    1. New iPad
    2. New software
    3. Does this make the iPad relevant in education again?
    4. https://apple.slashdot.org/story/18/04/02/1825236/no-more-intel-inside-apple-plans-to-use-its-own-custom-built-chips-in-mac
  2. Kaizena Chrome extension
    1. https://kaizena.com/
    2. https://itbabble.com/2018/03/28/kaizena-update-resolve-comments/
    3. Feedback
  3. Tech Support Problems, Apathy, & Solutions by Tony DePrato
    1. https://itbabble.com/2018/04/02/tech-support-problems-apathy-solutions/
    2. What is your system?
    3. Google Script
  4. Solutions vs. Support
    1. Purchasing technology that you can service vs having to pay for service
    2. Example: Sound solutions in a classroom

As always you can download the episode here!

Apple in the Classroom, What’s Next on the Chopping Block?

vhs-42554_1280

By: Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

I just read the article, Apple planning to make original TV shows and movies as hardware sales soften. I decided to try and remember what I used to be able to buy for the school/classroom from Apple. Here is my list:

  1. Laptops designed for children
    ibook_flavors
  2. Powerful and Extensible Workstations
    apple-876298_640
  3. Servers with easy to use Management Tools, Media Streaming, and Podcasting
  4. Easy to obtain full sized keyboards
    kanex-multi-sync-keyboard-layout-100056591-orig

 

 

 

 

 

 

My concern is real. I am an Apple and Lenovo owner. My Lenovo experience has only improved in the last 6-7 years, while my Apple experience has gotten worse. Am I the only one who agrees that iPhones and watches do not equal creation and learning?

I am hoping for a turn around. Sales of hardware are down. Schools tend to buy in massive quantities. #SalesTiptoApple

Schools also like to by integrated packages of computers, devices, accessories, support, and software. #SalesTiptoApple

15354866658_0a52f8a2fd_b

!=

logic-pro-x-adele-1024x512

Groupware is “Atlas the Titan” Holding Your World

Atlas

Atlas the Titan

Atlas held the world quietly. One slip or shrug and everyone would suffer. Yet no one knew or even considered his presence. He was the ultimate backend process.

Like the concept of a single entity keeping the world balanced, Groupware keeps organizations working. Most people never even think about the term Groupware. As defined by something other than Wikipedia, Groupware is Software that supports multiple users working on related tasks in local and remote networks. Also called collaborative software, groupware is an evolving concept that is more than just multiuser software which allows access to the same data. Groupware provides a mechanism that helps users coordinate and keep track of ongoing projects together ~ PC Magazine.

Groupware is communication. It is email, shared calendars, project planning and tracking, discussion groups/forums, etc. It is the core system that connects people in an organization.

Many schools now are using Google Apps for Education as their Groupware. It is basically free, and works well. Google Apps is not available everywhere so not always an option.

Microsoft also has various plans for school using their Office 365 package and some other tech. There are free and paid versions of the MS solutions.

Then there is the very common Microsoft Exchange Server, which people often think is Microsoft Outlook; not understanding the difference between the server and the client. Exchange server can easily cost a medium sized organization $30,000 – $50,000 USD a year. Yes, per year.Novell and IBM both have solutions, and both are expensive.

Cloud Options like Microsoft Exchange in the Cloud and Zoho Office with Email cost about $4.00-$8.00 per user a month. For those of you who hate math that is about $24,000 USD a year for 500 users- the low end of that range.

Opensource you ask? Good luck. I found one that was fairly well reviewed and looked promising, SOGo. SOGo was not well documented really. It was fair, but basically left me realizing that I would need a person working on it all the time. So the software is free, but the level of human capital would be very high and could cost an additional salary.

Firstclass was also on the list. I know of many schools that use it. Firstclass had the best pricing model for the feature set. The only real issue is that Firstclass has it’s own clients. So people need to transition from MS Outlook, which they currently believe is Groupware, even though there is no server behind it running anything other than email.

Not many affordable options, but there is no option to not have the Groupware. I have been witnessing a medium sized organization running without any Groupware. A Google Apps for Education campus, or a campus powered by Exchange Server, feels like a different universe compared to a campus that is missing this core software infrastructure.

Having only the one tool, email, is just not efficient. Many people in environments running decent Groupware take it for granted. They will often emote, “I only need email.” What they do not realize is that email is probably just their main notification medium. They are using other software that is nicely integrated so the email client allows them to make choices and join activities, but the email it self is doing very little.

I wish companies like Novell and IBM actually has some educational pricing that made since for their Groupware. I also am annoyed that Apple does not have an Education Server that comes with all these services PLUS easy to use i-Device management, laptop management, and App Store deployment. With all the equipment Apple has in schools, you would think they would want some of the Groupware market and server market. I know that for large companies Apple does not have what they need to power their collaboration and high-end applications.

That being said, schools need solutions that focus on simple collaboration, media sharing and streaming, basic cloud support for storage, and a semi-turnkey approach to hardware. Isn’t that what Apple is all about in each of their individual product lines?

The only other player in the market that could crack the Groupware issue and device management issue is Canonical. Their Ubuntu server is pretty easy to run and has the tools needed for easy management of media, normal files, and Groupware. They just need a package that ships with something like SOGo preconfigured. In fact, they should join up with some open hardware companies, or a normal market player like Dell and sell a configured server for schools. Crazy right? A company making money and filling a need at a reasonable price.

Bringing this all back to Atlas the Titan, there is a quote from the book Atlas Shrugged that makes me think about the supply and demand of resources for education,

If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders – What would you tell him?”

I…don’t know. What…could he do? What would you tell him?”

To shrug.” 

Maybe we just need a Kickstarter.

Tony DePrato
www.tonydeprato.com