Tuesday, August 29, 2017

System Lock on MacBook Air

Hello Students,

Recently some students have had their school issued computer locked down remotely due to one violation or another.  When this happens, the Tech Department staff sends out a command that locks the laptop screen similar to this image.
System lock PIN screen
When this happens, there are a million different combinations that can be tried but only one combination that will work.   DO NOT TRY GUESSING the combination, because after three wrong guesses, you will have to wait.  Each time your computer reboots, you will have to wait a longer time before you get three more tries.  After a while, you end up caught in a vicious loop.
Once caught in that loop, even our local tech support can rescue this Mac.  It will need to be sent out to the Repair Depot and they have to replace the logic board (motherboard) of the computer.  This is a costly and unnecessary expense.

From this point forward, if you see this screen you should report to the Tech Office immediately.  Anyone who has to have their machine sent out unnecessarily for this issue will be responsible for paying the bill to replace the logic board on their machine.

The vast majority of our students follow the rules and will never see this screen.  If you do, you should "face the music" and get the issue resolved before making it any worse.  As always, please see us if there are any questions.

Vincent Vanier & Paul Chasse
Tech Department Staff

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Why it's Time to Update your MacBook to Sierra


MacOS 10.12 Sierra is the latest version of your laptop's operating system.  Many users have not yet updated from MacOS 10.11 El Capitan.  Here are some reasons why you should do the upgrade.


  1. AUTOMATIC UPDATES  In the new operating system, you can turn on automatic upgrades so that your machine has the most secure features and functions automatically installed on your laptop.  This will happen in the background, keeping you running with the latest and greatest.
  2. IMPROVED SPEED, SECURITY, AND BATTERY LIFE  Improvements to the operating system allow you to leverage new technology to improve performance on the computer.  The difference is noticeable.
  3. OPTIMIZED STORAGE  Sierra now used various techniques to automatically reduce the amount of storage used on your MacBook.  If you choose to login to your iCloud account, it will increase the amount of local storage automatically as well.  Disk speed also improves due to the new file system.
  4. WELCOME, SIRI!  Apple's intelligent virtual assistant Siri now comes to the MacOS in Sierra.  Using keyboard commands you will be able to ask the laptop questions that Siri will answer.  Long available on iPads and iPhones, this voice recognition tool allows your laptop to answer your questions more quickly and effortlessly than ever before.
  5. BETTER APP STORE PERFORMANCE  The Mac App Store is the place you can go to get various Mac applications.  In Sierra, you now get an App Store preference panel that allows you to configure how you get notifications and updates of these applications.  This is a very convenient new feature.  Check out the article at http://osxdaily.com/2016/01/27/save-mac-app-store-password-free-downloads-osx/ for more information.
  6. MacOS 10.12 Sierra IS FREE This update is free.  Simply click on the App Store icon to launch the App Store.  The Sierra update should be at the top of the screen.  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/macos-sierra/id1127487414?mt=12


Monday, March 21, 2016

Technology at the Madawaska School Department

The Madawaska School Department has been able to integrate technology in a lot of different areas of the school.  This presentation outlines the essential questions about our Technology Department such as Who, What, Where, When, Why, How, and How Much when it comes to the use of technology.  Our students are very lucky to get a combination of technology at their disposal along with the support to make it work and courses to challenge them.

PDF  (Text of presentation)

YouTube Presentation  (Narrated Video)

Presentation on WOWL (WOWL Video of the March 17th presentation)

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Ten Commandments of Computer Use at MMHS

It seems as though some students are having trouble remembering what the computer use rules are at MMHS, so we made a quick ten item summary of our Acceptable Use Policies and posted them below. Please read them and ask questions if you don't understand.
  1. This is only a summary of the rules.  Use the golden rule of computer use. "Is it for educational purposes?" If no, don't do it. Check the school web site for the list of policies related to computer use if you have questions about anything.
  2. Respect others and yourself online. Don't engage in bullying or harassing behaviors. Use school appropriate language. Don’t use anyone else’s laptop, computer, or computer accounts.
  3. Games- Unless specifically permitted for a specific learning objective by the classroom teacher, games are not permitted at school.
  4. Chat and Messaging- Chat and messaging programs are not permitted at school unless you receive a special exemption from the Principal or Technology Coordinator.  Save that for home.
  5. Security- No hacking, tampering, or bypassing computer settings or security.  Keep your passwords to yourself.  Don’t touch anyone else’s laptop or use their accounts.
  6. Music/Headphones-  Unless working on a specific class or project, you are not to be listening to music and/or using headphones at school.  Save that for home.
  7. Illegal Activities-  You are not to use your school computer to illegally copy and/or distribute music, video, or other copyrighted material.
  8. Streaming and File Sharing- You are not to be downloading or watching streaming material that has not instructional purpose for your classes.  Save that for home.
  9. Appropriate Care- Treat your laptop with appropriate care at all times.  Don’t leave it on the floor.  Don’t walk with it out of the case.  Don’t drink around the laptop.  Don’t put heavy items on top of the laptop.  Don’t put the laptop in your book bag.
  10. Educational Purposes-  Use your laptop for educational purposes and you’ll be “golden.”  That’s the primary reason you have it.  Remember that.  Non-educational uses should be saved for home.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Unwanted ads on your Mac? Here's what to do.

Icon for AdwareMedic
We've seen a big jump in the number of MacBooks with lots of ads when browsing.  These ads can give misleading results, and are certainly annoying.  What can you do? 

Download a removal tool-  Install and run AdwareMedic  (http://www.adwaremedic.com).  This software will scan your machine looking for adware, malware, and other types of software that can slow down your browsing.  Download the program using the link above.  The file AdwareMedic.dmg will be in your Downloads folder.  Double click on the file and drag it into your Applications folder.

You must press Open in order to use the file.
Drag the AdwareMedic to the Applications folder alias.

If you would like to donate to support this software, you may do so.  Otherwise click Not Now.

Click the magnifying glass in order to start scanning your computer.  If they find anything, allow it to remove the problems.  Quit when finished.  A restart may be required.

Cause:  If you found adware on your computer, it's likely you installed it yourself by clicking on ads.  Beware of ads items you are installing.  If you have to enter your password to put something on your computer, make sure you are expecting it.

One piece of adware called MacTracker has been causing particular problems.  It claims to "speed up" you computer, but we've found it does the exact opposite.  There is also a piece of software called Genio that hijacks your search results.  AdwareMedic will remove both of those types of issues.

If you would like to read more about this type of material, visit http://www.thesafemac.com

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Hour of Code

Students,

Last week was Computer Science in Education Week.  Students around the world took part in an activity designed to promote computer science called The Hour of Code.  As a part of this promotion, students were able to take part in a bunch of tutorials designed to generate interest in computers and programming.

Here are three of the tutorials we had planned to use here at Madawaska Middle/High School.  Because these tutorials are self explanatory, you should be able to follow them on your own.


Coding tutorial using Scratch featuring Anna and Elsa from the movie “Frozen”



Programming basics using Lightbot



From Beginners to Pros, there's something for everyone! Here's last year's tutorial featuring Angry Birds.




Try these activities on your own time.  If you like them, then maybe computer science is for you!  Come see us in the Tech Office for more ideas on ways you can improve your computer science skills.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Updating to Yosemite

Students and teachers who may now update their laptop to the new operating system, Mac OSX 10.10 "Yosemite."  Feature improvements include 

  • a smoother looking and more visually appealing interface, 
  • the ability to AirDrop between MacOS and iOS devices, 
  • improvements to iCloud drive (cloud storage)
  • new versions of Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iMovie, iPhoto and Garage Band are now FREE.
Yosemite default desktop image.
You will need to login to the App Store with an account to download the update.  Most people created an account when they updated to Mavericks (Mac OS 10.9) last spring.  If you do not have an account and would like to create an account without using a credit card, follow the instructions here:  http://support.apple.com/kb/ht2534

Creating an App Store account without a credit card.
Individuals should expect the download to take about an hour and a half to download, then another half hour to install.  Once you install Yosemite, restart your laptop and run the free updates to Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iMovie, and Garage Band.
Free Updates with Yosemite.