IPad Keyboards

Having a keyboard for an iPad is really just you trying to turn it into a laptop, Right? Not really it is just a way to make the iPad easier to use to create content. The only issue I have ever found with iPad keyboards are that most of them are not very good. I bought a keyboard that is blue tooth and sits away from the iPad. I find these keyboards are more like a normal keyboard in that the keys have some travel room. The ones like the picture above really have no travel on the keys. If feels like you are typing on a table top. I have also found most of those keyboards have very small keys. The best one I have seen and I can’t afford it is the clam shell cases. They turn your iPad into a MacBook Air look alike. From what I hear they are very good and allowing you to type just as you would on a normal laptop. The bottom line is buy and try. If you buy from Amazon you can always return it if it just does not feel right.

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Google Chromebook or Windows Cloudbook

ChromebookorCloudbook

I have been reading across the web that Microsoft is releasing a Chromebook killer their words not mine on May 2, 2017. Will this be a knife in the side of Google or a knife in the side of IT Administrator in schools trying to rush to buy this new product? I wanted to give you my thoughts from the IT Administrator side. I have been working in the IT field in education for the past 20 years. Again these are my views on the subject.

I have been using Microsoft products since I started in computers some 30 years ago. I have watched the company struggle to innovate on every level. I am not saying their software is not great, I am saying they normally are not the first ones to the table or playing field. Does anyone remember Bill Gates saying “The Internet is just a Fad”? Well that statement didn’t work out to well. To catch up to other big players in the Internet field Microsoft began to give Internet Explorer away with Windows. If you can’t build something better then NetScape, just giving yours away and try to crush the computation.

Now let’s move forward some 20+ years. Google releases a Chromebook, at first not a promising product. I remember watching their product release and the Chromebook didn’t boot well and sometimes hung when trying to use it. After some years of work and getting the Chromebook to shine they started getting the attention of people like me, IT Administrators in schools. Why not give this device a try? Google has been supplying our education market for years with Google Apps and FREE email services, which I jumped on that wagon 15 years ago. This is a company that is building on a foundation and building slow and steady. Now let’s jump to today.

Now on May 2, 2017 it is said that Microsoft will launch a Chromebook killer? Microsoft has always tried to do this build off of everyone’s success. Remember they don’t innovate! I really don’t think the schools that have adopted the Chromebook will drop them to run back to Microsoft. I also don’t think that a brand new product to hit the market will be accepted with open arms by very many IT Administrators in schools. Will they get a few nibbles? Maybe? But I know the field well and I know the people doing this very stressful job and none of them need or want a new player in the field of Internet based devices.

A final thought on market share for education. The Chromebook has played a major role on cutting Apple and Microsoft into lower shares of the education market. Is it only price that sets these devices apart? I as a person who has had the pleasure of managing Chromebooks have to say it is also the ease of administration. I can go into one web based console and manage every aspect of the Chromebook. Recently we looked at changing from iPad’s to Chromebooks as a budget move. In our final minutes of crunching numbers Apple made a smart move, they lowered the price of the iPad. This will help them maintain some market share. Microsoft made a move such as this a few years ago by giving Office 365 to education for FREE. This will keep office products in the reach of shrinking budgets across education. But bringing a Cloudbook to the education market might just prove to be a little late to the game? Anyone remember the Windows Phone?

Posted in Cell Phones, Chromebooks, Computers, Education, EducationTech, Google Apps, IPad, Office 365, Surface, Technology, Thoughts | Leave a comment

Network Cables Are Not All Equal

Network Cables

If you are new to networking or even if you are an old hand at running networks you might be missing out on a very important piece of information? All network cables are not created equal. As we build our networks and expend the amount of data speed we want to achieve with new switches and faster wireless you may find your network at the end points not getting the total speed you thought you should be getting. When most networks were installed using Cat 5 cable we were hitting speeds of 100 MBS. And the gear at the time was only hitting a maximum of 100 MBS. Now we fast forward to today’s gear and we are pushing 1000 MBS or 1 GIG connections. I have seen this at many sites over the years. New switches are purchased and new wireless access points are but into place and we find at the end points we are getting much lower speeds then expected. I have seen young techs go back and look over their config files and tune everything they can and they still only pull the slower speeds. In reality the bottle neck is in their cabling. Cat 5 cable was only rated to carry 100 MBS so no matter what you do to your gear the cables can’t handle the traffic. If you have Cat 5e you can handle 1000 MBS.  If it is only Cat 5 then step up to Cat 6 which can handle speeds up to 1000 MBS or 1 GIG.  And if you are rewiring and thinking about the long term then have Cat 6a installed it will handle up to 10 GIG connections. Use this chart I found on the net as your guide if you are planning to rewire your network it will save you time and money knowing the exact cable you are having installed. Also always remember to be careful of your total length of the runs.

Cable Chart

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Network Switching

Networking Gear

Network Switching gear has been around for ages now. It is the backbone that runs every network large and small. I have been a Cisco guy for years. I understand the way that Cisco wants you to setup your VLAN’s as well as setting up ports for security. I recently started programming a new line of switches from another company. When I first began to program I tried my normal Cisco commands and quickly found out that the commands would not work. Then I started researching on Google for programming using this companies IOS. I quickly learned one thing important. The commands were different but the basic idea of laying out VLAN’s and configuring ports held to the same understanding from my Cisco training. It is sort of like programming, once you learn one language it is easy to allow your mind to see the code and write using any coding language out there. I always tell everyone that has ever worked with me. Don’t ever think that you can’t do it because it is different. Always set out to do your best and give it your all. So now after programming ten of these new switches I have the commands down and I am on my way to building a new high speed 10 GB network. I live by the Can Do Attitude! If it computes then I can and will fix it.

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Network Firewalls

Firewall

Network firewalls are built to keep the bad guys out of your network while allowing your users to maintain high availability to the Internet resources they wish to use. Setting up a corporate firewall takes time and some planning. Your first objective should be to know what to allow to come into your network from the outside world. I begin with a drawing like the one above. When you allow traffic from the outside world you should only allow a direct connection from the company or service you wish to use. Next we begin to write up any static routes we might need. These items might be a mail server or maybe your web server. Also remember after you setup the static routes you then open the correct ports to that internal IP address. Remember to allow any internal traffic to go out of your network. One tip to keep in your back pocket is if you ever get a rouge machine on your network spamming emails. If you use off site email services simply deny port 25 SMTP traffic from going out of your network. Planning is everything so that you don’t run into issues using the Internet. The last word of advice is to revisit your firewall configuration at least once ever six months. Also buy a firewall large enough to pass the bandwidth that you have, you don’t want it to become a bottle neck for your Internet traffic.

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Google Suite Or MS Office 365

Google and MS Office

I remember not long ago we were talking about Mac or PC, before that we talked about Netscape Browser or Internet Explorer and longer before that we were talking about Beta or VHS tapes. Now we get a new debate that is on the minds of every technology person and director in the world. Should we be using Google Suite or Microsoft Office 365? We are now talking about more then cloud storage we are talking about the applications people use everyday. As a long time manager of Google Suite which use to be Google Apps I understand how to manage the platform. And with a Chromebook I find it the perfect match for schools either K-12 or Higher Ed. But then you need to listen to the students. Still today most high school students grew up using Microsoft Office. If you introduce Google Suite into your Elementary schools you have a chance to allow those students to grow up in the Google Suite fashion. But what would you want to use for your business? Both of these services act and work almost the same. We can use any computer platform we want and be able to access all of our documents and spreadsheets anywhere and at anytime we have an Internet connection. I have seen a lot of colleges moving over to Google Suite, I would like to ask colleges that have made this move one simple question. Why? I think as a person who has been working in education for almost 20 years I enjoy change. I really believe that if you are in the technology field and can’t change you might need another line of work. But we as people working in education have to make the correct decision for the students future. If you are reading this and you have made the choice let me know why you made the choice you did? My last question is would you just supply both and allow your students and staff choose which one they would like to use?

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Touch Typing on Tablets

iPads
So what is touch typing? Touch typing is just what is sounds like. You use the keyboard on the tablet to create your text. Touch typing is available is every app on the tablet that I have found. It does take some getting use to. One thing I have found is that there is no clicking that we are use to. One thing nice about touch typing at least on the iPad is the use of suggestive words as you type. What keyboard can do that? Children today are growing up using touch typing. You see this everywhere you go. Mom or dad hands a young one their phone and you see the child touch typing. Now that’s not to say they are creating anything such as this blog post but they do know their way around the touch keyboard. We see in schools more of the schools are giving their students an iPad to do their class work on. Will we one day see touch typing in offices across the country? I am not sure but I do know carrying a tablet is a lot lighter then carrying any laptop. This entire post was done on the iPad. If you have a tablet and you are using a extra keyboard I challenge you to instead open a app and try touch typing for yourself. The future is coming each day and I challenge you to tell me what’s next? 

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Truth About Internet Speed

Data

While watching the news the other day my wife was very upset when a story came on about people paying for certain Internet speeds and not getting what they paid for. Since I was in the business of selling Internet to customers years ago I know a lot about what happens to the data as it crosses the wire. The simple truth is, you will never get the speeds you are paying for. WHAT! WHY?

My wife tried to compare Internet speed to buying meat at the store, you ask for two pounds and you get two pounds. Better yet when you get home there is still two pounds in the package. Here is another she brought up. If she stops for gas and puts in ten gallons of gas when she leaves the station she has ten gallons of gas. So she asks why should the Internet be any different?

In the last two examples we have no variations in the trans port. There are no outside forces. Here is an example. If we asked someone to buy the meat for us and on the way to your house they eat even a few slices you will end up with less then two pounds that you paid for.

Now on to the Internet. The Internet provider that you pay are selling you a certain speed of Internet. In this example let’s say you pay for 5 MBPS. The provider sets up their equipment to send you a total of 5 MBPS. When it leaves their offices it travels over the hills and through the woods on some sort of wire. If you live in a lot of places those wires have not been changed out since the telephone was invented. Every time the data or Internet traffic hits rust or corrosion on a phone line the speed takes a hit and slows down a bit. Now when it enters your house it hits a break out box and slows down a little more. If you are like many people today, you have a wireless router in your house to share your Internet with all family members. Again this is another point where the Internet will lose a little more speed. By the time the connection which started off as 5 MBPS hits your devices in your house it might be 3 MBPS. And if you are living out in the country you might be at a greater loss. If you only have DSL available to you, your provider might only be able to offer 1.5 MBPS because of the distance from the office to your house. Let’s face the facts. When phone lines were first installed no one ever knew there would be something called Internet to travel across the wire. One day maybe we will all be lucky and have fiber optics put in to replace all of the old copper. But even with that the speed will be better but you will still lose a little speed as it makes it’s way to your house.

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Programming

Visual Studio

Programming should not be a scary thing. Learning to write code is a great way to really begin to understand computers. I started writing coed years ago because at that time there were not many programs out that would do what we wanted them to do for our business. When I took my first computer managers job for a private school I used my coding skills to take a work process from 5 days down to 5 minutes. Coding allows you to become a problem solver. If you work for any company in the field of IT it will bring some value add to your skill set. Coding is also one of those skills that once you learn it you will be able to go back and code again. You don’t have to code everyday to stay sharp at it. I know coding is not for everyone. I am currently working on a large inventory project and connecting my code to MySQL back end. For me coding is relaxing and it passes the time away. But more then that coding will allow you to evaluate a companies process and maybe come up with a way to stream line it and save man hours with your coding skills? Best of all you can download Visual Studio Community Edition for FREE.

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Google Apps

Google Apps

Do you use Google Apps? If not have you ever tried Google Apps? Let’s start with what is Google Apps? Google Apps is a free set of tools that allow you to create whatever you created with Microsoft Office products. What is even better when you create your work it is saved in the cloud. This allows you to reach your work from any Internet connected computer in the world. They also make it really easy to share your work with anyone even if they do not have a Google account. We talked about the Chrome Box the other day, there is also the Chrome Book which is a low cost below $200.00 laptop that is light weight and the battery lasts all day. These devices allow you to log in and access all these great Google tools. But WAIT! You don’t need a Chrome computer to access these great tools. You can use any computer with any operating system to access all of your work, even mobile devices and all for FREE. What I like best about Google Apps is the clean interface and the easy flow of my information. I really hate having all of my work stuck on some server that I can’t work on in the evenings. You can start a document at work and on the way home stop for coffee and work on the document there and when you get home you can finish your work. Move from the desktop applications to the cloud and free up more of your time.

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