290B Parker Farm Road, Buxton, ME 04093
(207) 929-9149 (ph), (866) 459-5150 (fax)
Scott Nason - Director of Technology

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Importance of Routine Restarts

You have probably heard that you should restart your computer regularly. Many of you have probably ignored this… but here’s why you shouldn’t!

  1. Flushes RAM Every computer has what’s called Random Access Memory or RAM for short. RAM is used by every little process that runs on your computer whether you see it or not. Every process stores little bits of information in the RAM on your computer that it will use in order to keep running and remember things you’ve done. As more and more processes store things in the RAM it starts to fill and your computer slows down over time. Restarting it allows the RAM to clear all the info it doesn’t need to keep which in turn makes your computer run faster and more efficiently.
  2. Installs Updates Most computers these days, including most district issued devices, are configured in a way that they update and get the latest security fixes when they restart. If you never restart, your computer doesn’t update. This can leave your computer more vulnerable than others around which could cause you to get viruses or things of the sort.
  3. Fixes Small Errors Over time of your computer being on, it will start to have little errors here and there. Sometimes you won’t even notice these errors, other times these errors will cause programs to freeze and stop responding or worse. By restarting, it allows your computer to kind of try again and you may often find that these little errors go away.

Okay, now you know some of the reasons to restart your computer but maybe you’re still not convinced? Here’s one for you:

Back on February 28th, 2017, Amazon Web Services had a major outage along the East Coast of the United States. Amazon Web Services hosts major sites such as Netflix, Spotify, Pinterest, and tens of thousands of others. Because of a human error, they had to restart one of their main servers which had not done a full reboot in several years. Due to not being restarted in so long, the server has many things it must do to properly and safely shutdown all services and bring them back up. Completing this entire process took over 4 hours for what seems like a simple restart.

Now after getting a basic understanding of why you should restart you’re probably now wondering “How often should I restart?”

Well, there’s no simple answer to this. To be on the safe side, you should restart your computer daily and ensure that your computer can have a chance to start fresh every day. You may also want to restart if your computer ever starts to glitch in any way, this is usually step 1 when it comes to fixing an issue with a computer. At an absolute minimum, say you maybe only use your computer for an hour or less each day, you should be restarting at least once per week. You can almost never restart your device too often but waiting too long can have catastrophic results.

If you have any questions in regards to how to restart your device or why you should, please feel free to put in a tech ticket at http://bonnyeagletechhelp.freshservice.com/ and one of us will gladly assist you.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Google Updates to be aware of

March 14, 2017 G Suites (Google) announced they've made the Google Drive plug-in for Microsoft Office (for Windows) more secure and easier to use.  You will need to upgrade the plug-in prior to April 20, 2017.  Starting on that date you will no longer be able to sign in to older versions of the plug-in. Click here for the download.

March 16, 2017 G Suites rolled out an improvement to the way you can preview video in your Gmail. Up until March 16th in order to view a video attachment in Gmail the user had to download the video and open it with a media player.  Now users will see a thumbnail of the video and will be able to stream it within the Gmail.

March 23, 2017 G Suites announced they will be transitioning Google Talk users to Google Hangouts.  Those using Google Talk will start receiving notices to switch to Hangouts beginning April 1.  After June 26, users will be automatically switched if they have not done so by then.  If you switch to Hangouts, you can go to Settings and check the Use dense roster box to remove any avatars and create a more Google Talk like experience.

Third-party XMPP clients will continue to work with Hangouts for 1:1 chats even after June 26.  XMPP federation with third-party services providers will no longer be supported on June 26.

The legacy Google Talk Android app will stop working after June 26.  Android users should install Hangouts now.

Breakout EDU in the Elementary Classroom

Have you heard of an Escape Room? If not, it is a room where you have to solve riddles, puzzles, and mysteries in order to "break" out of the room. Breakout EDU has brought a similar scenario to classrooms. The classroom teacher uses a kit with a variety of locks to create a similar situation for their students, except the students are trying to "break" into a box. The website has a bunch of team building mysteries or classroom teachers can create their own. The clues can be related to content that has been taught in class as well as the team building experience. Breakout EDU also has a digital version available.

Here is a video of some of my students "breaking out".

Friday, March 17, 2017

Google Apps for Mobile Devices are updating. Are you prepared?

On April 3, 2017 Google will be shutting down their legacy Google apps (Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drive) for Android and iOS devices.    At this time G Suites has notified me that some of are users are still using the legacy apps that will be closing down.  Please make sure you check your version and update!

Google states: "To prepare users for this change, the legacy versions of the Drive, Docs, Sheets, and Slides apps will show to affected users one of these following messages this month:

  • "Version too old: Sorry, this version of Google Drive is no longer supported. Please upgrade to a newer version."
  • "App update required: This version of Google [app name] is no longer supported. Update to the latest version."
  • "System update required: Google [app name] no longer supports this version. Go to device settings to check for a system update." "
In an article from G Suite Updates they give the following information for the versions impacted and what to do:
  • "Google Drive for Android (prior to version 2.4.311)
  • Google Docs for Android (prior to version 1.6.292)
  • Google Sheets for Android (prior to version 1.6.292)
  • Google Slides for Android (prior to version 1.6.292)
  • Google Drive for iOS (prior to version 4.16)
  • Google Docs for iOS (prior to version 1.2016.12204)
  • Google Sheets for iOS (prior to version 1.2016.12208)
  • Google Slides for iOS (prior to version 1.2016.12203)

This month, users of these legacy versions will begin seeing the below prompts to upgrade. Please note that after March 1, some users with very old versions will be forced to upgrade when they receive the prompt.

If you are using any of these unsupported versions, we encourage you to download and install the latest version of that mobile application. Note that corresponding web and desktop applications will not be affected by this change.

To check your app's version on an Android device:
  1. Go to Settings > Apps.
  2. Choose the app: Drive, Docs, Sheets, or Slides.

  1. Go to the app: Drive, Docs, Sheets, or Slides.
  2. Go to Help and Feedback > Version info.

To check your app's version on an iOS device:
  1. Open the app: Drive, Docs, Sheets, or Slides.
  2. Go to Settings > About.

  1. Open the app: Drive, Docs, Sheets, or Slides.
  2. Go to Navigation Drawer > Settings > About.
  3. Scroll down."

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Is this a malicious email and what to do with it?

I apologize that this blog entry is so long, but it is extremely important that you understand the subject.

While the Internet is still loaded with viruses and malware of all sorts, the most common security issue today is malicious emails.  These emails look like legitimate emails from Google or Apple, but are actually faked, with the intention of getting you to give them permission to access your system or account.  

One form is the phishing email.  It is intended to get you to type in your credentials for an account, so that they can then hijack it. So it would look like an email from Apple saying something like a new email address was added to your account.  If you didn’t do that, please click this link and type in your Apple ID.  But the email wasn’t from Apple.  As soon as you type in your Apple ID and password, the perpetrators now have it and they can hijack your account

Another form of malicious emails are those with embedded or attached malicious software.  These emails have a small software program that alters your computer to give them access.  One form of these emails will have an attachment.  The email might say “here is your receipt” or “here is a photo of you” and ask you to open the attachment to see it.  But the attachment has software embedded in it and by clicking the attachment, you have just given them administrator access to your device.  From there, they can do anything they want

Or the email might have a URL link that they want you to click on.  In reality, that link runs software that is embedded in the HTML message that you can’t see,  Again, by clicking the link, you (as the device administrator) are giving them permission to run this malicious software.  One of the worst forms of this is called ransomware.  Ransomware encrypts the contents of all of your folders, including any attached disks, and threatens you to pay a fee to return it to normal or you will lose everything.  At that point it is too late.  If you don’t have an offline backup, you have lost everything.

So what can you do?  
The most important thing you can do is have a backup of all you important information. That backup could be a “cloud-based” backup, like Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud Backup or something similar.  There are dozens of good ones to chose from.  Or you can use an external (usually USB) hard drive as a backup. It is best to keep all of your important files in one or two folders, like Documents and Photos.  You really don’t need to backup everything on your device, just those important things that are hard to replace.  Music libraries, while important to you, can be recreated and they take up a lot of space.  If you have a lot of videos, I suggest using the external drive.  They can take a lot of space and you might have to pay extra for that much cloud backup.  

Get in the habit of doing backups!  If you generate a lot of new material every day, then maybe backup daily, but most people would do fine with a weekly backup.  Maybe that becomes a weekend chore.  Also, if you use an external drive, DO NOT leave it plugged in all the time.  Only plug it in to do the backup and then unplug it.  Ransomware often encrypts every connected drive.

Next, be very critical of every email.  If you don’t know and trust the person sending it, then NEVER CLICK on links or attachments.  Don’t fall for first names only.  Always be sure where the email is coming from.  Be suspicious of emails from places like Apple, Google, Yahoo, etc.  It is very easy to copy logos and make the email look official.  If you get such an email, NEVER CLICK the link to log in.  ALWAYS open a browser and go to their website to log in.

Here is a good example of what they can do.  Below you will see two URL links.  They both look the same.  But if you click on them (Yes, you can trust me) you will see that they go to two different places.  Keep in mind that the text of the link that you see can be completely different than the actual link that is embedded in the email….

Another trick you can use to check out links without actually clicking on them.  Often, if you just hover your mouse over a link, the browser (or other applications like Outlook) will show you the actual link, not what you see.  This is especially important because if you look at the actual link and see a .php or .js in it, that is actually an embedded software program.  Be suspicious!

To sum up….

  1. Backup!
  2. Backup!
  3. Backup!
  4. Never click the link unless you are sure of it’s source.  Instead go to their web page and log in that way.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

2-Hour delay for MSAD 6 Schools

  Due to the weather, there is a 2-hour delay for all MSAD 6 Schools today, March 15, 2017.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

MSAD 6 Schools Closed, Central Office closes at noon

Due to the weather, all MSAD 6 schools are closed today and Central Office will close at noon.

Please have a safe day and drive carefully if you have to go out.​

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Laptop Battery Safety

Recently there has been a lot of talk about battery safety, specifically Lithium batteries.  Due to news reports about certain cellular phone batteries catching fire and exploding (Samsung),  now seemed like a good time to remind people of how to safely care for the Lithium batteries within your laptops.

Lithium batteries are very stable and can provide a lot of power output for their size and weight, as compared with Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) batteries.  What makes Lithium batteries somewhat dangerous is the electrolyte compound that is used to keep the Lithium metal in suspension and allows the electricity to flow.  This electrolyte can be very flammable, so the batteries are usually contained within a hard shell and many sensors to ensure they do not overcharge or overheat during use.

Needless to say, these sensors and protective casings can only do so much to protect the user.  Using poor storage methods and damaging your device can compromise these safeties and lead you to have a battery failure or worse.

Storing a laptop in extreme cold or heat can prevent the battery from discharging correctly.  Discharging too quickly (extreme heat) or discharging to slowly (extreme cold) can cause a battery to overheat and result in a battery failure or worse.  Safe temperatures for storing a laptop are between 45º to 110ºF.  Above and below these temperatures will affect charging and discharging of the batteries.

Also, damage to the laptop itself can cause problems for the batteries.  A drop, a deep dent in the casing, crushing, and violent shocks to the laptop can also damage the inner casing surrounding and protecting the batteries within.  As an example, a deep dent to the metal casing of the laptop could cause the inner casing of the battery to become misshapen, pressing in on the battery.  This could cause an uneven buildup of heat within the battery and lead to failure of the battery.

Basically in the end, if you take care of your laptop or device, your Lithium battery will continue to provide you with plenty of power to get you through your day.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Leaving the district? Take your Drive and Email files with you!

Are you a staff or student at MSAD6 and are preparing to leave the district?  Worried you will lose all your Drive files and important Email Files?   Now you can take them with you using Google TakeOut!

Follow these steps to move your files to a new gmail account:

1.  Go to My Account in your bonnyeagle.org email

2.  Click on Control Content under Personal Info and Privacy

3.  Click on Start Transfer

4.  Enter the Google Account you are transferring to (i.e. anywhere@gmail.com) and click Send Code

5.  Verify the account you are transferring to (enter the code you received in your email you are transferring to and then click on Verify)

6.  Select the content to copy and transfer and then click on Start Transfer