Monday, 18 November 2013

The Scam From India Continues Come On Microsoft Do Something

SOLUTION: “This is Microsoft Support” telephone scam – Computer ransom lockout

A trend of the past couple of years has been for scammers to contact computer owners directly via telephone in the United States in an effort to convince them that there is a problem with their PC and they’ll need to pay to have it fixed.  In general, these people cannot fix anything, and instead they merely charge exorbitant fees for absolutely nothing. In other words, they scam you.
The call generally goes something like this:
  1. A foreigner with a thick Indian accent identifies himself as a member of Microsoft Support or similar.
  2. He informs you that you have a number of critical problems with your PC and that you will need to have it fixed.
  3. To convince you, he offers to connect remotely and pulls up your Event Log (eventvwr.msc).  He then filters for Warnings, Errors, and Critical events and uses that as evidence that your PC will soon fail to work correctly if you do not pay him to correct it.
The astute among you have probably already sensed that something here is seriously wrong, and it’s not your PC. It’s the fact that someone is calling you to tell you there is a problem with your computer. No one will ever do that. The only way they could possibly know there is a problem is by hacking or guessing.
In this case, it’s mere guesswork, and it’s not even correct most of the time. The Event Log issupposed to log warnings and errors, and even on the healthiest of PCs there are plenty of Error Events that can be safely ignored, as they often don’t amount to anything. The important thing to remember is to never trust someone who calls you about a problem with your PC, and never, EVER let them connect remotely to your PC.
If you do make the mistake of letting them connect, but then you happen to get cold feet and refuse to pay the $180+ they request via credit card, the next thing that happens isn’t pretty. This scammer proceeded to actually follow through on his promise of the PC “not working” if they don’t agree to have him fix it, and so in a few quick steps, behind the user’s back, he enacted what is known as SysKey encryption on the SAM registry hive.
SysKey encryption is a little-known feature of Windows which allows administrators to lock out access to the Security Accounts Manager (SAM) registry hive so that login specifics cannot be stolen and the PC cannot be accessed without knowing the proper credentials. The problem is, unlike other scams, there is no way around the problem; you can’t simply remove the password, as the actual SAM hive has been encrypted entirely by the process. If your Windows installation has had SysKey activated, you’ll see the following message:
Startup Password
This computer is configured to require a password in order to start up. Please enter the Startup Password below.
The window which appears looks like this:
This computer is configured to require a password in order to start up. Please enter the Startup Password below.
The ONLY solution is to find a clean copy of the registry hives from before this occurred. This scammer knew this, however, and as such, he took an extra step to block any repair or recovery attempts: he deleted all System Restore points on the machine, which normally house backup copies of the registry hives.
Unfortunately for him, I’m a much better technician. When the customer suspected foul play and decided to call me instead of proceeding, I immediately instructed them to power off the PC. Here’s how I fixed the problem without having to reinstall Windows.
FIRST, ensure you don’t have any Restore Points to work with:
  1. Check to ensure that the folder %SYSTEMROOT%\system32\config\RegBack exists.  If so, continue.  If not, stop and immediately contact a technician.
  2. Reboot the PC and repeatedly press F8 to reach the Advanced Startup Options menu.
  3. Choose Repair your Computer from the menu.
  4. Cancel the automatic repair attempt and instead instruct the system to perform a System Restore to a date prior to the incident occurring.
If no Restore Points exist, your scammer intentionally removed them to prevent this from occurring.  If this happens to you, follow these additional steps to resolve the problem:
  1. POWER OFF your PC immediately.
  2. Boot to external media of some sort (NOT your Windows installation) and navigate to the %SYSTEMROOT%\system32\config folder.
  3. Backup the registry hives in this folder to a temporary location. The files are:
    2. SYSTEM
    3. SAM
    5. DEFAULT
  4. Navigate to %SYSTEMROOT%\system32\config\RegBack as mentioned earlier.
  5. Copy all registry hives from this folder (the same files as listed above) into the %SYSTEMROOT%\system32\config folder.
  6. Reboot the PC.
This solution only works if you have not already tried to reboot the PC subsequently.  If you have, it may still work, but that is entirely dependent upon whether or not Windows created a new RegBack copy following a successful boot.
In the case of my customer, it worked, and they were back in Windows, just like it never happened.  Nice try, scammer.  You’ll have to try harder to beat me though. :-)

Saturday, 16 November 2013


Nine Steps to E-Safety

As you well know, e-safety is more than a tick-box exercise. Sustained action is essential to embed e-safety into the culture and values of a school. But a checklist is a good place to start, so here’s our Nine Steps to E-Safety Checklist. How will you score?
  1. Clear e-safety policies in place
  2. A plan for becoming Ofsted compliant
  3. CPD and training for teachers, including accredited EPICT certification
  4. Clear guidelines for pupils around the consequences of online bullying and inappropriate use of technology
  5. Clear and open lines of communication for pupils to report incidents
  6. Procedures for recording, acting upon and preventing e-safety incidents in the future
  7. Sessions to inform and educate pupils on becoming digitally responsible and staying safe online
  8. Monitoring and filtering solutions to help keep pupils on task and protect them from bullying and harmful material
  9. A way of engaging with parents to help them put in place e-safety measures at home

Did You Know?

  • 92% of secondary school children have had experience of being cyber-bullied (NFER E-safety report, 2012)
  • 77% of 12 to 13 year olds have a Facebook or another social networking page (The Cybersurvey, 2012)
  • 40% of Key Stage 3 and 4 students have witnessed a 'sexting' incident and, in the same group, 40% didn't consider topless images inappropriate
With regular headlines in the press about cyber-bullying, the dangers of inappropriate content and the questionable safety of social media; combined with an increasing number of students wanting to bring in their own internet-enabled devices and mobile phones; it's little wonder that E-safety is quite rightly becoming a growing priority.
In fact, E-safety has become so important that OFSTED now includes it as part of their inspections. So how do you enable pupils to take full advantage of the technology to support learning and prepare them for the real world whilst providing a safe environment?

Don't panic. Call in the experts.

we have a specific focus on E-safety in education and we can help you develop your E-safety strategy and put in place provisions that will drive down the risk of e-incidents and help you get that all important "Outstanding" Ofsted rating. We can put you in touch with:

  • An EPICT accredited CPD training course.
  • E-safety workshops for senior managers, teachers, governors, parents and pupils.
  • E-safety advice and consultancy.
More can be found here for a self assesment :- 360 Safe E-Safety Review Tool
Engage the school governors Ofsted guidance on e-safety

Saturday, 27 July 2013

iPads in Education

8 million iPads have been sold to educational establishments.
This is a remarkable figure and illustrates how many ‘decision makers’ have chosen the iPad as a tool for learning. As we integrate the iPad into schools it is worth reflecting how the initial setup and training can have a real impact on the success or failure of a 1:1 programme.
The recommendations below are borne out of a desire to help teachers without overwhelming them and to model good practice to students. There are many apps that could have been chosen, but those mentioned below areconsidered generic and able to serve a purpose across the curriculum.
Early engagement can be facilitated by linking email accounts to the iPad and suggesting users sign up to apps like Zite and Flipboard. Interest in the content means that basic gestures on the device will be used. Sharing of information helps to introduce the options available to users and when coupled with the camera roll, can lead to greater understanding of ‘sharing’ options.
In my opinion it is crucial to model good practice particularly when the distraction element of the device is apparent. Whenever I use the iPads with students there are different levels of instruction to ensure the device remains a tool for learning. From ‘screens off’, to ‘cases closed’, these instructions should be followed throughout any training sessions. In particular, it is important they are used with other staff in the room so classroom management has a common strand for the students to follow. Similarly, if a student doesn’t follow instruction, a consistent approach is required when dealing with the student and their iPad. One of the biggest fears for educators is that the device will be used inappropriately. Ensuring classroom management techniques are included in the Acceptable Use Policy is one way to make sure educators have a frame of reference.
It has become clear that because of iPad introduction educators are having to consider pedagogy. Therefore the device must enhance current practice as well. Consequently, it is a good idea to choose apps that can be used for collaboration, Assessment for Learning and workflow. I’d suggest using Socrative for AfL, Explain Everything for collaboration and Edmodo for workflow. (Please follow the hyperlinks for explanation)
It is very easy to wow an audience with what an iPad can do in the classroom but that leads to a ‘show’ with no follow up. The nuanced applications that have an element of awe and wonder tend to have a very short shelf life when it comes to the classroom. Indeed a number of subject specific apps are suitable for use once or twice a year. I would suggest demonstrating those apps that meet the demands of workload. Put another way, educators need to understand how Dropbox will work to share information with students or Edmodo will allow them to annotate and grade assignments without paper. They don’t necessarily need to see the amazing Solar Walk or Aurasma just yet.
For students, it is about understanding that they can still meet the requirements of workflow on the iPad as well as having fun with the new toy. I strongly suggest incorporating iMovie into any training programme as the level of effort students put into such projects is unsurpassed. I am a firm believer that any work that will be shared with ‘the world’ always focuses the mind of a student. The fact that an iMovie project is likely to be shown to a class means students take greater pride in making sure content is correct.
Notability would be the first app I would use to demonstrate how students can work in a way they will recognise on the iPad. Acting as an interactive exercise book, Notability has many features that the students and staff will become comfortable with. However, the initial impression is always one of understanding as workflow seems comparable, apart from the lack of paper!
There are a number of options available to schools that allow for collection and assessment of work. They cater for a mixed platform environment as well as 1:1 iPads. Personally, I would ensure students and staff are comfortable with Edmodo and Dropbox as applications to help with workflow between student and teacher. The key is to remove any barriers to the initial setup. I would spend time linking iPads to individuals’ Dropbox accounts and trialling the interaction between stakeholders in a room full of troubleshooters. Once educators grasp how easy the workflow can be there are a number of lightbulb moments that centre around ease and efficiency. It is particularly satisfying when educators realise the student can’t make the excuse of printer problems!
Perhaps the most important. Each class needs experts that will be able to troubleshoot for teachers and students alike. Take time to work with them them and give them access to as many training sessions as possible. Digital Leaders should  help all the way through the training process and perhaps badge them so they are easily identifiable. Teachers will be very thankful that there are three or four individuals who are able to help with the technology in the classroom. It might even make them more prepared to try something new. It is worth remembering that, once an individual gets to grips with the iPad interface, many applications have a similar functionality. The ‘safety net’ that Digital Leaders can provide is invaluable.
They might even run a Genius Bar for you!
On reflection this post is more about the approach than the specifics. When it comes to implementing something new in the classroom, inevitably there is resistance to change. We see it as our remit to remove as many barriers as possible and take small steps to allow individuals to decide where the iPad will fit in the learning process.
I would be very interested to hear any thoughts on the implementation of iPads in education from those just starting out to experienced practitioners.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Mobile technology has changed the workplace with the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon becoming an increasing trend in business. Employees are requesting to use their own devices at work, blurring the lines between their professional and personal lives.
But whilst employees are happy to blur the lines between their personal and professional lives and the devices they choose, it raises concerns for IT departments across the UK who are tasked with the management and security issues that an array of personal devices brings, coupled with the implementation of policies and clear guidelines for device usage in the workplace.
In this article we explore the BYOD trend and showcase how Interm IT Essex and our partners Cablers can help you to implement a successful Bring Your Own Device strategy.

BYOD: Should you leave your employees to their own devices...

The trend for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or IT consumerisation is here to stay, with the expectation set that the number of businesses allowing their employees to use their device of choice for work is growing each year. This brings many benefits to the company, including flexible working options, increased productivity and better employee engagement with those who are afforded the opportunity of choosing their own technology devices.
But whilst employees are happy to blur the lines between their personal and professional lives and the devices they choose, it raises concerns for IT departments across the UK who are tasked with the management and security issues that an array of personal devices brings, coupled with the implementation of policies and clear guidelines for device usage in the workplace.
A BYOD strategy will need to be considered in order to make BYOD a success within your business environment, with a specific focus on security, device management and the delivery of enterprise applications to your workforce.
There are many security implications, which unless handled correctly can compromise your business. IT departments have a responsibility to ensure that business data is protected on their employee’s devices, by developing and maintaining a mobile device policy for compliancy and peace of mind should the worst case scenario happen. This coupled with remote access to the device and also the ability to remote wipe a device in the event of loss or theft will further protect sensitive business data.
The policy should make clear to employees the boundaries between corporate and personal use and which activities and applications are supported by the company so that there can be no blurred lines or ‘grey areas’ when it comes to usage.
Interm IT Essex and Cablers  are experts in the BYOD phenomenon and our team can offer professional advice, address your concerns and help you to implement a successful BYOD strategy for your business.

BYOD: The benefits:
·         Increased Productivity: If your employee is empowered to use a device of their choosing, they are more likely to use the device for work purposes when they are not in the office
·         Save Money: There is a potential cost saving on the cost of each device to your business with employees contributing to some or the entire purchase price of their own device.
·         Employee Satisfaction: If your employee has chosen the device they are using, the knock-on effect is a happier employee and potential for staff retention in the long-term

Ruckus BYOD

Ruckus how it Works

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Are you responsible for Interactive Whiteboards?

If you are responsible for buying new IWBs, or will have a say in the matter, what factors should you consider? Terry Freedman considers the issues.

To look at, you’d think that one interactive whiteboard is pretty much the same as any other – and to a certain extent you’d be right. However, there’s more to it than meets the eye, and there are several factors you ought to consider before signing the cheque.

Does the school already have whiteboards?

In some respects, if the school is brand new the decision is easier because you don’t have past “baggage” to consider. But if the school already exists and already has whiteboards, that’s a different matter. The reason is not so much to do with the whiteboard itself, but the expertise of staff and the resources that have already been created. Put simply: if you buy new whiteboards purely for their functionality with no strategic overview, you will incur further training costs (even if training is free, there is still staff time involved). And having resources which can be used only on some of the whiteboards in the school, but not all, will be confusing and frustrating.

2 kids at a 2Touch IWB in Melbourne 1

Photo by Pablo Garcia,

“Ah, but”, you say, “this brand new whiteboard from company X will allow me to do this that and the other, and make the tea as soon as the bell for break sounds!”. Maybe so, but you can bet money on it that before too long your present brand will follow suit.

It’s not unknown for schools to have a “mixed economy” of whiteboards: the school may be completely upgrading everything, providing an opportunity to wipe the slate clean, or there may be particular areas where a particular type of board may be more suitable. But if you’re going to mix and match, at least make sure there’s an overall plan guiding you.

Is there a vibrant community of users?

I happen to think this is quite important. Is there a fairly large repository of resources that other users of the whiteboard you’re considering have produced, and made available free of charge? Is there an active user forum you can go to for help?

What functionality do you need, and what is offered?

You have to be a very clear when it comes to reading the specifications of whiteboards. For example, does the description “Multi-user” mean two users, or more? Does the term “multiple touch” (or similar) mean, say, four pupils are able to use it at the same time, or that there can be four hands using it at the same time? And how many pupils will you want to use it at the same time anyway?

Another consideration is: can the board be easily moved up or down according to the height of the pupils using it?

Does the board mainly use pens, or touch? The distinction is not as clear cut these days, as the pen-based boards allow some touch, and the touch-based boards can be used with a pen. However, the pen-based boards will require an investment in spare pens and somewhere to store them, because if a pen goes missing the usefulness of the board is very much reduced.

Another factor to consider is: does it come with, or can it be used with, other technology such as student response systems and visualisers?


Consider the warranty being offered. It may come with a three year return to base warranty, but that could mean that the school will have to take charge of packaging and shipping, and then reinstalling it upon its return. You’d probably be better off paying a bit extra and changing it to an on-site warranty.


Look for the hidden extras like training. If you have two whiteboards in the same price range offering similar functionality, but one has an extensive and free training package thrown in, that might be the better option.

The software

Quite often, the distinguishing factor between boards these days is the software. Can the resources created be exported to or imported from another format, for use or editing in other applications? Can you use other software with the board, ie third party software, licence permitting?


I think planning is the key to successful investment in technology, in terms of being clear what you’re looking for, and what your possible future needs may be, and remembering to look into the “hidden” aspects of whiteboards such as training, warranties and the other factors considered here.

So what to,do next, easy call Jon Paul of Cablers ltd, a very friendly and professional organisation in Maldon Essex,, they will satisfy all of you're needs.

What happens when you give an iPad or Tablet to pupils

What happens when you give a tablet (or similar) device to a pupil who is economically disadvantaged? If the experience of Victoria Park Academy in Birmingham is anything to go by, one happy outcome is increased parental engagement.

Steve Beswick, Director of Education, Microsoft, commented that:

“The school continues to show its commitment to narrowing the attainment gap through the creative use of one-to-one devices to raise aspirations not just for the pupils but also engaging the wider family group. It has been astonishing to see the difference the devices have made to the school’s relationship with their students and their families.”

But you don’t have to take Steve’s word for it. The children themselves say the same thing, in their own way. I spoke to a group of Year 6 pupils (10-11 year-olds), and they made comments like:

“My parents love it, because it makes me want to learn!” and

“My parents and brothers and sisters like me taking the device home because it means they can help me with my work.”

Parental engagement is high on many schools’ agenda, but is notoriously difficult to achieve. It takes a lot of effort by the school, and there are no short-cuts. There is a big difference between informing parents and engaging them, of course. The reason the one-to-one programme at Victoria Park has gone down so well with parents is probably that the device makes it possible for parents and siblings to become actively involved with the child’s education.

The programme has had benefits in terms of pupil progress. This has been measured not just in general, anecdotal terms – one girl told me that she had jumped from a level 4a in maths to a 5b over two terms – but statistically according to Ofsted criteria. For example, the school’s 2013 tracking shows that a group of disadvantaged pupils in Year 6 are just 0.16 Average Points Score (APS) behind national expectations (25.5) in English and Maths, compared with 0.8 for the rest of cohort.

Unpicking the causes of the impressive improvements is not entirely easy, because the school has undertaken several courses of action at more or less the same time. For example, it has:

  • Given tablets to 120 disadvantaged pupils in Years 5 and 6. The pupils use these for doing research, and organising their notes in OneNote, and being creative with SongSmith and PhotoSynth;
  • Placed a very strong emphasis on pupil self-reliance and peer collaboration;
  • Introduced a new curriculum which is both flexible and creative;
  • Introduced highly structured learning activities using a TASC (Thinking Actively in a Social Context) approach;
  • Partnered with other organisations, such as the Real Ideas Organisation (RIO), in order to get the children learning in a real-world context;
  • Early identification and intervention for children likely to start falling behind.

This is almost certainly one of those cases where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Any one of those approaches would have had a positive effect, but when they are all working together the results are quite astounding. As objective proof of this, note that the school went from Special Measures to Outstanding in just three years. Pretty good going, especially when you consider that nearly 70% of pupils do not speak English as their first language.

I found the children themselves to be as articulate as they are enthusiastic about the activities they enjoy at school, such when the whole school chartered a steam train on the Severn Valley Railway, or when they pretended to be Victorians and learnt how to make soap like our forebears did.

Victoria Park is a school in which economic hardship and other difficulties are challenges to be tackled rather than insuperable obstacles.

If you are interested in adopting 1:1 devices in your school, we have partnered with Microsoft to offer a range of fantastic devices at reduced cost with this goal specifically in mind. Take a look at our Shape The Future Project page to find out more.

Monday, 24 June 2013

iPads in the classroom

iPads for EYFS

Capturing Early Years Observations on the Move With 2Simple
Save hours of record keeping time with 2Build a Profile. This award-winning app provides a simple and powerful way to log children's achievements against the Early Years profile in a few simple steps; making it ideal for busy practitioners.
  • Open the app and take a photo with the device's camera.
  • Write your virtual post it note.
  • Select the children who are being observed.
  • Tag the observation with the Early Learning goals.
Your observations will be automatically sent via wifi to a secure website (Web Management Suite) for your school or setting where you can collate, view, save and print your observations at any time.

iPads on Primary Schools

iPad Apps in education

iPads in Education

Interim Education Board What Does It Mean

All things related to school governors

5 essential Tips for iPads in the classroom

Saturday, 8 June 2013

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Wednesday, 5 June 2013

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Thursday, 23 May 2013

Why Move To The Cloud?

Why move to the cloud?

There are a number of benefits of moving a school’s learning resources and infrastructure online – as long as you choose your Cloud services provider carefully. But more of that later on.
Here are the advantages of adopting a Cloud-based approach for your school: Reduced storage costs: Storage costs are falling all the time, but when you’re talking about storing the data and work of lots of pupils, there is a significant drawback to using physical storage. For example, the fact that you may find that you don’t have enough storage to meet demand in the short-term. It makes much more sense to subscribe to services that can provide just the right amount of storage, whenever you need it. This means that you pay for what you are actually using rather than paying for what you think you might need.

Another benefit is interoperability, especially in large campuses. According to an article by Jeff Dunn for Edudemic, “Cloud computing encourages IT organizations and providers to increase standardisation of protocols and processes so that the many pieces of the cloud computing model can interoperate properly and efficiently.”
It’s common that a Cloud service provider can offer a higher specification software than an individual school could afford. For example, Microsoft Office 365 for Education provides online versions of Word and Excel free of charge.

By the same token, obtaining software as a service rather than purchasing it outright means that you are not faced with the need to worry about upgrading the software or even licensing issues necessarily, because that can all be handled as part of the cloud service package. In other words, the administrative burden on a school can be significantly reduced.
Also, of course, not having software installed on your own network means that you avoid having to concern yourself over physical space on a drive or memory upgrades.
A huge advantage from the pupils’ and teachers’ point of view of course is that pupils can share their work with each other and their teacher, and can access resources and data from anywhere at any time – without some of the complications that can sometimes arise from using a proprietary learning platform.

In principle, also, cloud storage offers a secure way of keeping data. If the school goes up in smoke, or, less dramatically, thieves break in overnight and steal the server, your data will still be there up in the cloud.

Another consideration is whether the cloud service you are using for storing pupil (and teacher) data conforms to EU data protection law. A useful guide in this area is the Information Commissioner’s booklet called Guidance on the use of cloud computing, available from the ICO’s website at The advice given in it is aimed at organisations in general, but it does contain information of direct relevance to schools.

Cloud computing offers many advantages to schools, as we have seen, but when considering moving to the cloud, and which cloud service provider to go with, schools need to be worldly-wise as their corporate counterparts.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


Well I've used both now and they both have their own merits

MDT is great for new network windows and windows 8 with various devices and various amounts to image and all software deplorable with Msi software deployment.

It can handle windows xp image capture after sysprep which is great, and it can handle application deployment direct from mdt or build them into the deployment image.

FOG is great for various makes and models with various os's and non Msi type software deployment, you make the images complete with all the software installed and then capture image and deploy.

You can wake the stations up and image overnight from the fog console, this is something that can't be done with mdt but can probably be addressed with sccm.

Fog also performs and inventory of each station in the form of  make of motherboard and memory and all sorts.

Again mdt was never designed in this way.

This is how I see them being used

Take a small village school with 10 or 20 computers, they need software the same on all of them you can take a laptop in with fog on it and and create youre first image then capture and deploy to the others

You couldn't really take a windows server in on a laptop setup mdt and deploy, well you could but it's  normally a domain and you deploy windows 7 with apps deployed with gpo's.

So not really viable.

Fog though doesn't care about a domain it's just and imaging piece of free software.

So in a nutshell both great and totally way in advance of the retarded rm connect build and deployment.