Newsletter 2016 Year End

  • Tickets
    • We’ve solved 1,224 helpdesk tickets this semester!
    • That’s a lot of helping, wire running, attic crawling, pole climbing, troubleshooting, etc.
    • Remember helpdesk tickets are the best way to get help. Just email to create a ticket. You should get an email back from the system. Keep that email so you can reply to it if you have any additions.
  • Brainpop (ALL)
    • Brainpop is a very cool service that provides quizzes, games, and videos. We’ve made this available to the school!  It is a very exciting service and I’m excited to say that I have even found some AP Physics level material on it. It’s not just for elementary!
      Have you used Brainpop before? Would you like to teach/show others?
    • Teachers now have their own accounts.
    • School credentials (both student and teacher) should work.
    • Unfortunately, we don’t yet have courses synced. So you will have to create a course and use a keyword to setup classes. 
  • Bandwidth: (internet speeds)
    • News
      • I’m excited to say that we’ve been able to upgrade the bandwidth on campus. We started the semester around 80Mbps and we are now able to hit closer to 180Mbps. This was done with tweaks and minor hardware upgrades. In addition, I am confident that we will be able to increase this even further this coming semester. However, the next level of updates will require significant hardware and increased bandwidth from our provider.
    • Nerd Notes: (keep reading if you want to learn, otherwise, skip to the next topic ;-)
      • There are three factors affecting our internet speeds.
      • 1. Pipeline to the internet provided by COX
        This is a glass fiber that is capable of blazing speeds. However, we only pay for what we need.  We were able to negotiate an increase from 100 to 200 at minimal costs. It doesn’t make sense right now to pay for more because of our filter limitations.
      • 2. The modem
        This is the device that turns the glass fiber into usable internet at our facility. We upgraded this from a 80Mbps max to a 1000Mbps device for minimal costs.
      • 3. Filter
        Pretty much everything that comes onto campus must be filtered. This is both to protect our students and to prevent outside attacks from stealing sensitive personal information (or taking the system down). The filter we have is rated at 100Mbps, but Matt has been able to tweak it to get close to 200Mbps out of it.  That’s impressive, but we’ve hit the limit of our tweaks. So, the next step is to upgrade this choke point. Unfortunately, this upgrade is a little expensive and we're looking to defer this cost with grants and other programs. 
  • Nuvotera:   (All)

    • We are aware of this warning. Our email filtering program is ceasing operation. We are in the process of checking out replacements for it and should be fine by the time it turns off in January. You can just ignore this warning and continue to use Nuvotera as you have in the past.  This may sound trivial but your school email is sort of public. That means that internet robots like to pick it up and send you all sort of junk mail. This system is what prevents your inbox from getting spammed continuously. Unfortunately, we were getting a great deal on Nuvotera and we are having difficulty replacing the service at an acceptable price. We are on it and plan to get it resolved asap. 

  • Printing:
    • We’ve killed a few trees here at PBS. Thank you for thinking before you print. Remember, you can save money and resources by printing BW to the large Xerox machines.
    •  is now available.
    • You can find out your balance, # print jobs, etc
    • Printer Stats for
      • October
        • Used 36 trees
        • Produced 4 Metric tons of CO2
        • 386,000BW and 32,000 color, for a cost of $7100
      • November:
        • 26 Trees
        • 3 Metric Tons of CO2
        • 291,692 BW and 22,024 Color, for a total cost of $5119
        • Top users Ashley Brown, Patty Isenberg, and Jay Mayet. 
  • Computer ages and speeds:
      • More than half of the teachers on campus are now upgraded to newer, faster, and updated computer styles. We have a rotation planned, so yours is coming ;-)
        We've had some great reviews of these computers!  We've also had some teachers a little nervous about them. Don't worry, we'll get you up to speed.  
      • There are basically 3 speeds of teacher computers on campus. 
        • New teacher (x2 hybrid)
          i5 processor, 8gb ram, ssd
        • Most other teachers. HP 6470 with 8GB ram, i3 processor, spinning hard drive. 
          These computers are not bad, but are older and heavier.
        • Some teachers. HP 4430 with 4GB ram, i3 processors, spinning hard drive. 
          These computers are being phased out. 
  • Shortened website addresses
    • We often get requests to unblock shortened web-links. (Like,, or  Unfortunately, we usually can’t unblock these links.

      • Deceptive: despite appearances, these links can take you anywhere. For example, I could setup to point to my own website and make it look very much like Chase bank’s website. You would type in your username and password, and now I have your account information. (A practice called phishing). OR, I could make to point to some very nefarious websites. There’s really no way to check them. As a result, we usually can’t unblock them. 
      • So what can I do to get to these cool sites that someone emailed me?
        There’s two things you can do. 1) click on them off-campus and take the security issues into your own hands. Them email the ‘real link’ to yourself. 2) email us the links (to ) and we will follow them on a secure machine, then copy you with the real links if they seem safe. 
  • Intercom system (MS, ES)
    • There are still issues with the intercom system. We are working with our installer to fix them.
  • Gradecam (HS):
    • We’ve had excellent feedback on most aspects of gradecam. Teachers love the speed, convenience and the ability to do item analysis!
    • However, we have had a few issues when the tests get large. A specific history teacher that I know of, with 150 question test, had some issues with the computer taking a little too long to scan the page. I would recommend testing gradecam with smaller tests to start with. I’m planning to do some experimenting with different cameras, scanners, etc to get them to work with the really large tests.