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Los Angeles Unified School District – Hack the iPads!

October 23, 2013 at 2:10 pm PST

It didn’t take long, but soon after the Los Angeles Unified School District began their rollout of some 650,000 iPads to their students, they ran into some technical issues. Students in at least one of LAUSD’s high schools quickly discovered a way to bypass the security on the devices. Still in Phase 1 of the program, only 15,000 of the devices have been given to students, but already the District has suspended home use of the iPads due to the security issues. According to reports, LAUSD had been using software that “lets school district officials know where the iPads are, and what the students are doing with them at all times. This software also lets the district block certain sites, such as social media favorites like Facebook.” There are now questions circulating around whether the LAUSD staff was well prepared for these devices and their implementation, and what is going to be done moving forward to continue the rollout and secure the iPads.

student using mobile device

In my previous article I wrote about how educational staff need to be prepared to properly utilize iPads in their classroom. IT staff responsible for managing these iPads should also receive the proper training and preparation. What’s interesting to note here is that, at least in my experience, Apple’s stance on iPads in education is generally fairly hands-off. They recommend managing or locking down the iPads as little as possible. The idea here is that these are best served as single user devices and the best experience for the student is full ownership and manageability of the iPad out of the box. iPads aren’t meant to be used like a rolling cart of laptops going from room to room. They don’t support user profiles and managing or locking down the iPads introduces more complexity than is needed.

You want to protect the investment in these devices from theft, and prevent students from accessing inappropriate content, but if you are planning on allowing the students to take these devices home, you can only go so far. As evidenced from the LAUSD issue, students quickly discovered the iPads were so locked down they couldn’t use them at home, so they found a way to delete the configuration profiles which essentially removed any of the locks or restrictions on the iPad. Some students even went so far as to offer ‘unlocking’ service for $2. Quite the entrepreneurial spirit!

Now, it’s a daunting task for any IT department of any size to introduce over half a million new devices under your umbrella of responsibility. Add to this, that depending on the MDM solution chosen, each of these iPads have to be unboxed and configured before being handed to a student. Now, when something goes wrong they have to be collected, and reconfigured. It stands to reason that Phase 1 will remain a trial phase until some of these issues are worked out. Read More »

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Balancing certification studies with family and work

When it comes to furthering your career in technology, the name of the game is certifications. But studying for certifications requires time and energy and both of those are pretty scarce when you’re already working full time. You’ve just gotten out of work where you’ve had to use your body and brain for the last 8+ hours and now you’re wanting to punish yourself again with a grueling session of protocols, and ports. Now add to that, if you’re a family man like me, a demanding personal life. A spouse, and maybe even some kids give the whole situation some added complexity.family

You’re not alone! Most of the professionals in our industry have this problem. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, but remember back to the first time you decided that you wanted to work in this industry. It was fun to constantly learn something new, and solve problems with the new knowledge gained from that education. And with some effort, it can still be fun!  Read More »

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Los Angeles Unified School District – iPads for Everyone!

September 18, 2013 at 3:11 pm PST

Earlier this year, Los Angeles Unified School District announced a $30 Million deal with Apple to distribute iPads to every single one of their estimated 650,000 students. This marks a milestone in public education as the first ever school district to deploy this kind of device to each and every student. Over the past several years there have been many pilots and test classes involving the oft-named ‘one to one’ approach to technology in the classroom; one device for each learner, however there has not been a rollout of this scale, anywhere.school childern using ipad

How does this shape the future of education for LAUSD students, and more importantly, how does this reflect on the evolution of the classroom for the 21st century student? Read More »

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Solving the Network Location Problem with LISP Part 2

September 4, 2013 at 11:32 am PST

Hey Bro, Do you even LISP?

So in the last article, we discussed a bit of why a solution like LISP ( Locator/Identifier Separation Protocol) is required. To summarize, there aren’t enough IPv4 addresses to go around and there are too many IPv6 addresses to let them ‘roam’ using traditional routing methods. Available in IOS (15.1X+) and NX-OS with standards currently being developed within the IETF LISP Working Group, LISP provides a promising solution to mapping IP nodes to locations on the Internet.

zazzle

Zazzle

If you read the last article, by now some of you are saying, “John, the devices that roam, such as mobile phones, can simply acquire new addresses on the most local network. Why do we need LISP?” It is true this is how we do it now, and it works reasonably well for most users and applications. While it would be nice to seamlessly stream as we move from one network to another, that is more of a luxury feature than a necessity.

The Case for LISP

Let’s forget about mobile devices for just a moment and consider virtual machines and cloud computing. Virtual machines (VM) themselves are increasingly mobile. If I want to do maintenance on some bare metal, I can migrate that VM to another node but if my IP address is going to change, this adds a series of complications in updating services and applications such as DNS (Domain Name Service), to point at the correct address. These name to address mappings can be cached causing significant delays between a desired move and an actualized result when the cache finally expires. Read More »

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Choosing a Cisco Partner for an Advanced Technology Project

August 28, 2013 at 12:13 pm PST

Since returning from Cisco Live! I have been working on our next big project. In this case, I will need help in my design and deployment so I have to select the company that will help me; choosing a VAR (Value Added Reseller) for the project is a very important choice. Most companies have a policy of getting three or more SOWs (Statement of Work) from partners, but once they are in you are left with several very similar documents and the main difference is price. Anyone that has been in this industry for any amount of time knows choosing your partner purely based on price is a great way to set yourself up for failure.

So how do you choose a partner? Hopefully, you have taken your stack of SOWs and have whittled them down to a manageable npeople meetingumber of potentials. Again, hopefully they all have similar levels of experience with the type of deployment you are looking for and possibly similar prices. One of the things I ask up front is if the company is a Cisco ATP (Advanced Technology Partner). If they are, then they stay in my possibilities stack, if they aren’t then even if they stay in the possible stack they have a long hill to climb in the selection process. A company being a Cisco VAR and an ATP means they have proven expertise in an area. They also have direct access to Cisco product resources beyond the normal TAC (Technical Assistance Center) path I would have to take in opening a case and seeking support.  Read More »

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