Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How do YOU spell relief?

Let me start by telling you a little story that happened to me recently.

About five or six years ago, we started using a web content management system from Frontier called Manila. Manila has allowed us to provide web page services to teachers who otherwise would probably not have a web presence. It has been a great addition and a tool that has helped countless teachers, students and parents. But it has not been without its problems. Although we know about every issue a Manila server could throw at us, there is the occasional curve ball. The service grew and grew to the point we needed multiple servers and it required quite a bit more maintenance. We have about 2000 accounts with I don't even know how many pages, files and other resources on these servers.

Well, about two weeks ago, two of my colleagues walked down the hall and into the workshop I was presenting in to inform me they were unable to access the Manila server. Although rare, it did happen that the server web service would die and we would need to restart it. So I informed our workshop participants we need to take a little break while I assessed the situation.

As we walked down to our server room, the first words out of Marc's mouth were, "Just a flashing question mark on the server screen." That's when I knew we were in trouble. But that was only the beginning of my troubles. The drive was not responding to anything we tried. Booted from a recovery disk. Didn't work. Put the drive in another server. Didn't work. Took the drive out of the sled and put it in a desktop machine. Didn't work. Starting to sweat now. Need to get back to my workshop. I asked my colleagues to hunt for the backups so we could start rebuilding the drive. At least we would be able to get thing back on track by the end of the day.

That's when things really started to fall apart. After much searching, no backup was found. I had realized I was working with no off-site backup solution for the last 3 months. And the firewire backup drive that we were using also had hardware problems. I had NO data! My stomach turned. I started sweating. I felt the world crashing down around me. My head was in a fog. What could I do? There were many people who relied on this server to host their websites with very important information. Phone calls were coming in. "I can't get to my website. What's wrong?" "I'm doing a presentation that uses my site. When will it be back up?"

I was off to the boss to keep him abreast of the news. Crushed, I had to admit my failure to keep a good backup and ask him for permission to send the failed drive off to a data recovery service. That meant BIG BUCKS to fix my mistakes. Oh - I didn't feel real well. I had to face up to the fact that there were a lot of people who relied on this and it need to be fixed. ASAP!

The boss was great. He told me to get the drive off to the data recovery people and do whatever we needed to get the sites back. So to the UPS store I went. And to California the drive went. A week later, the data came back on another drive. All sites restored to full capacity. With the exception of a few uploaded supporting files, everything was back. A HUGE relief. (Contact if you happen to run in to the same problems. They were great and offered an educational discount.)

What did I learn from this lesson? Since this post, we have a redundant off-site backup for all of our Manila sites. I have 2 daily local backups with an archive copy going off-site to another city over our high-speed wide area network. With all of the nasty weather such as tornados, thunderstorms and flooding around here lately, I didn't feel we could be too safe.

Everything is back to normal and I feel much more relief since we have our automated backup plan in place. However I still had something bothering me. A nagging pang that just wouldn't quit. And it hit me. What about my personal computer? Of all the stuff I have and everything that is now digital, what would it be like to have to recreate all of my data? What about all the documents, presentations, movies, music and everything else that is there? What would I do? CRY!

Last night a brown box arrived at our doorstep. Opening it revealed a new "Time Capsule" from Apple. After about 5 minutes of unboxing and setup, it was up and running. It took about 2 hours to do an initial backup of my 67.7 gigs of data (and that wasn't the system or application files.) Now, every time I open my laptop at home, it will have an incremental backup done in the background.

So how do you spell relief? I spell it B.A.C.K.U.P. What are you waiting for? Back up your digital life NOW. Don't wait until something happens. You'll regret it. Automate it with something like Apple's Time Machine/Time Capsule product. It will be worth every penny you invest.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hot Topics in Ed Tech

Here are the hot topics as posted by the NECC website for 2008. The conference starts next week and I look forward to sharing many of the sessions with you all. We have also started a wiki that you can subscribe to and watch updates that happening. Take a look:

Hot Topics

  • Podcasting, Wikis, Blogs, and other Web 2.0 tools
  • Leadership
  • Digital Images and Video
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Global Collaborations
  • 21st-Century School Design
  • Differentiated Instruction
  • 1-to-1 Computing
  • Digital Content
  • Funding
  • Open Source
  • Online Professional Development
  • Virtual Schools
  • Technology Literacy and Assessment
  • Instructional and Administrative Productivity Tools / Resources
  • Serious Games and Simulations
As of today, I believe my focus will be Digital Storytelling. That may change and I am sure I'll go to sessions unrelated but this is the direction I would like to head. Onward...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Text / Tag Clouds

Create your own text/tag clouds. Here are the popular places to create them:
* I like these...

Cool examples:
John Adams Inaugural Address:
George W. Bush State of the Union Address:
High Tech:

The text cloud from my blog

The Learning Web - '08

We are starting day two of our Learning Web Institute here in Kearney, Nebraska. We have 6 facilitators: Graci Gillming, Melissa Engel, Deanna Stall, Bob Hays, Jackie Ediger and myself. There are 4 teams representing 4 schools: Silverlake, Gibbon, Bertrand and Ogallala.

What is the learning web?
A year-long professional institute promoting technology integration projects which meet school improvement goals and support proven instructional strategies.

Sponsored by the Nebraska Educational Service Units, the Nebraska Educational Technology Association (NETA) & the Nebraska Department of Education.

So really we work with how technology can be used to support Marzano's Instructional Strategies. A book came out this year supporting just this concept. You can find it on Amazon. Using Technology With Classroom Instruction That Works by Howard Pitler, Elizabeth R. Hubbell, Matt Kuhn, and Kim Malenoski.

Yesterday we had fun showing our participants serveral technologies that can be used to support the instructional strategies. MS Word, Inspiration, Rubistar, InspireData, Digital Storytelling, Effective Google Searches and Gizmos. Today we'll show much more technology and have the teams work on their plan for they year. It will definitely be exciting!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Googlin at ESU 10

Google Workshop at ESU 10 today. We have been having fun with Groups, Gmail, and a bunch of other tools. We will be using Maps and Earth today.

Okay... That's it for now!