Monday, January 25, 2010

Internet Access in a Different Location

You may have issues accessing the Internet when you bring your school laptop home or to a Professional Development day, or use any computer in a different school.

This is usually because of the proxy setting for your user account, so I've written a little program to help you change this. The program can be downloaded from here.*

The easier option, though, is to just set your proxy to "Automatically detect settings".  Under the  Tools  menu click  Internet Options.  Click on the the  Connections  tab, then the  LAN settings  button:

On the LAN Setting window that comes up, check the  Automatically detect settings  box.

Then it should work both at home and in schools.

*It's written using the Autohotkey scripting language. Source code is available here for those interested in how it works, paranoid about running downloaded programs, or able to improve on it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Multiple Mice as a Student Response System

Microsoft has released a free plugin for PowerPoint called Mouse Mischief that
allows teachers to work with Microsoft Office PowerPoint to make interactive presentations. With Mouse Mischief, teachers can add multiple choice questions to their presentations, and large groups of students can answer the questions using mice connected to the teacher’s PC.
I recorded a video of Mouse Mischief in action:

The software is currently in beta, meaning that there may still be some issues to work out before the official release.  In my testing, though, it seems to perform well at what it was designed to do.

There are a couple of other YouTube videos about this, here and here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Using Your Gmail or Google Apps Account to Get Other Email

There are two ways to use Gmail (from your school-based Google Apps account) to access get other email.
  1. Mail Fetcher, which allows Gmail to download messages from the other mail system:
  2. Forwarding your other email, which is required for systems such as FirstClass (that don't support POP3)
To forward your email from FirstClass to your Gmail account:
  1. Log in to FirstClass
  2. Under the Edit menu choose Preferences...
  3. Click on the Messaging tab
  4. Under the heading Automatically forward , choose Yes for both Local mail: and Internet mail:
  5. In the Forward to: box on the right, type your Gmail (or Google Apps) email address
  6. Click OK at the bottom right, and you're done. You can exit the FirstClass client now.

Your FirstClass email will now forward to your Gmail account. You will still have to check FirstClass for any "Staff News" postings, or anything else that doesn't come directly to your MailBox.

I'd also recommend that you set up a "custom 'From' address" for any email addresses that you're accessing from your Gmail account. Instructions are at:

Edit: If you use the default Redirect method, your FirstClass inbox will keep all of the messages and eventually fill up. You'll have to go in occasionally to delete them, but you'll probably be going in to check shared folders (e.g. Staff News) anyway.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

MS Office: Solving the Disappearing Quick Access Toolbar

If you've customized your Quick Access Toolbar in Microsoft Office 2007 but been frustrated that your changes disappear when you log off, our technician Roger W. has a solution for you:
In regards to the Office 2007 issue and the toolbars quick launchers not saving. The issue can be resolved with the enclosed attachment.
  1. Exit from of Office 2007 (Word, Excel etc)
  2. Save the attached file to your desktop.
  3. Double click OfficeFix.bat. It performs the operation in just a few seconds.
  4. Close the window that is opened.
  5. Delete the attachment.
This is only required to be run one time only. It only works based on user computer accounts and not computers. There is no need to run this on your laptop if you also use one in addition to your workstation. It will remember by your user name.
Enjoy and happy toolbarring, Roger
The enclosed batch file that he's referring to contains the following two commands if you'd like to paste them into the command line yourself:

reg add HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Word\Options /v NoReReg /t REG_DWORD /d 1
reg add HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Common\Toolbars\ /v QuickAccessToolbarRoaming /t REG_DWORD /d 1