Sunday, 11 May 2014

Tech4every1: How to convert pdf to other formats online

Tech4every1: How to convert pdf to other formats online: So many times, we need to convert our PDF files to many other formats to be able to edit them or use them properly . For this there are a n...

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Monday, 7 April 2014

Roaming Profiles versus Local Profiles

In a Windows network environment, there are many pros and cons involving the use of roaming profiles versus local profiles. In addition to the security matters, there are issues with data loss, file storage, bandwidth, and more. In this article, I will discuss some of the things I have run across in my work in the IT field.
A user profile is a collection of data specific to one user. This includes data like your Favorites in Internet Explorer, your Outlook settings, and so on. Windows is designed to store each user’s data in one location, such as the computer’s hard drive or on a server. When you log into a computer, it loads your user profile data along with whatever software you have set to load at startup.
In case you didn’t know, a roaming profile is a user profile that is stored on a server, and it is downloaded to the PC whenever a user logs in. This way, the user can access their information and settings no matter what computer they log into. A local profile is one that is stored just on one computer, and very little data is transmitted between the PC and the server when the users logs on.

Roaming Profiles

Automatically backs up user data to the server whenever they log out, so that the user doesn’t have to remember to do so.
Allows users to log into multiple computers. This works great in an environment where people don’t have designated desks, such as an open lab.

Security issues. After the user has logged on, a copy of their profile is left on the hard drive. If the computer were to be stolen, this data could easily be compromised.
Slow login times. If a user puts too much data in their profile, it could take a very long time to transfer all that data whenever they log on or off. This could lead to profile corruption.
Bandwidth consumption. Large user profiles take a lot of network bandwidth to transfer data back and forth. Much of this is amounts to wasted bandwidth since many of the files and data transferred are not accessed every time the user logs on.
Maintenance issues. I regularly have to clean old profiles off some computers because those profiles left behind fill the hard drive so much that they prevent other people from logging in. It’s also a fairly regularly problem to have to rebuild user profiles after data has been corrupted during transfer.

Local Profiles

Allows for much faster login times because the user’s data is all stored locally.
Cuts down on bandwidth consumption because less data is transferred during login and logoff.
Great for people who have a designated desk where they use the same computer every time.
If the user gets on a different PC, they may not be able to access their local data unless they stored some of it on a separate folder on a server.
Security issues. Having all the data stored locally presents a security problem if that PC is stolen.
Potential for data loss. I distinctly remember several people losing important customer data after their computers were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. These users had been storing data on their hard drives and had no backup copies. When their PC was literally submerged by flood waters, their data washed away with the rest of the machine.


There are as many reasons to use roaming profiles as there are to use local profiles. There are equally as many reasons not to use one over the other. Personally, I think the best solution for a network environment is to provide network server locations for all data storage, then it won’t so much matter if the users are on roaming or local profiles.
The important thing is that users should only be allowed to store a very minimal amount of data in their profile, because it is safer and more secure to keep their data on the server. That way, it doesn’t matter what computer they log into because they can still access their data, and they won’t have to wait for it to download to their machine.
Furthermore, it may help to ‘lock down’ the PC so that the user will be severely limited as to where they store their data. One major problem with roaming profiles is that users tend to dump a lot of data on their Desktop, and this data gets transferred every time they log into a different machine. Users simply should not put any files on the hard drive, and it may require some training in regard to file locations to make sure they don’t do this. Often times, issues with data loss or security breaches come about simply because the user didn’t know what they were doing.

Microsoft Outlook Password Decryptor (Free)

Outlook Password Decryptor is the FREE tool to instantly recover lost mail password for all versions of Microsoft Outlook.
Outlook stores the password for subsequent logins when user selects the 'Remember Password' option during authentication. The password is stored in the encrypted format and only respective user can decrypt the password.
Outlook Password Decryptor can instantly decrypt and recover all these account passwords.

For command-line version, check out our new tool - Outlook Password Dump.

It can recover passwords from all versions starting with 'Outlook Express' to latest version,Outlook 2013.

It works on both 32-bit and 64-bit platforms starting from Windows XP to Windows 8.
Outlook Password Decryptor is the all-in-one tool to recover passwords from all versions of Outlook.
Also it can decrypt passwords from different type of Email account configurations supported by Outlook, such as
  • Exchange Server
  • IMAP
  • POP3
  • SMTP
  • LDAP
  • HTTP
On starting, it automatically detects the current Outlook version along with user & platform information. It also provides option to save the recovered password list to HTML/TEXT /XML/CSV file for future use.  
Outlook Account Password Location
Different versions of Outlook uses different location and mechanism to store the account password along with other details such as email and server information.

Outlook Express, 98 and 2000 versions store the remembered password in the 'Windows Protected Storage' similar to older versions of Internet Explorer. The password link and other account information are stored at one of the below mentioned registry locations.
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Account Manager\Accounts
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\Outlook\OMI Account Manager\Accounts
Outlook version starting from 2002 to 2010 stores the account password (other than Exchange Server) in encrypted format at following profile location
[Windows NT onwards]
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows Messaging Subsystem\Profiles

[Prior to Windows NT]
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows Messaging Subsystem\Profiles
Latest Outlook 2013 (version 15.0) stores the account configuration along with encrypted password at following location
Newer versions of Outlook store the 'Exchange Server' based passwords in the credential provider (like network passwords) which is more secure than other methods.

For more internal details on how OutlookPasswordDecryptor decrypts these passwords read the following research article, 'Exposing the Secret of Decrypting Outlook Passwords'
Installation & Uninstallation
It comes with Installer so that you can install it locally on your system for regular usage. This installer has intuitive wizard which guides you through series of steps in completion of installation.
At any point of time, you can uninstall the product using the Uninstaller located at following location (by default)
[Windows 32 bit]
C:\Program Files\SecurityXploded\OutlookPasswordDecryptor

[Windows 64 bit]
C:\Program Files (x86)\SecurityXploded\OutlookPasswordDecryptor
How to Use?
It is very simple and easy to use.. You can just start it by double clicking on the executable file.

Here are the brief usage details....
  • On launch, it will display current Outlook version, logged in user name & OS version information.
  • Now click on 'Start Recovery' button and it will instantly decrypt all types of stored passwords by Outlook.
  • It will display clear text password along with other details such as Email address, User name, Account type and Server name.
  • Finally save the recovered password list to HTML/TEXT/XML/CSV file by clicking on 'Export' button and then select the type of file from the drop down box of 'Save File Dialog'..
For command-line version, check out our new tool - Outlook Password Dump.
Screenshot 1: Outlook Password Decryptor showing the recovered passwords from different type email accounts stored by Outlook.

Wifi Security, Home Network Issues

Wi-Fi security, how the IT bods keep their home network secure.

If you’re the most tech savvy person in your family the chances are you are regularly cast into the role of unofficial family technical support.
It doesn’t matter how much or how little you know – as long as you are more technically competent than the rest of your family you’ve got a job for life.
Computer Products wifi security
You’ll help their laptops find printers, dig out files that have disappeared inexplicably, tell them why the internet doesn’t work (“…it was working yesterday!”), and clean up viruses.
And that, in our modern and interconnected world, makes you part of the cyber security front line.
Much of the work we conduct at CP revolves around network security and ensuring organisations are protecting themselves, their users and the data transmitted. We all have homes to go to, so it’s good to review the simple but important things that all of us who act as our family’s unofficial technical support and cyber-defence team can do to make things harder for the bad guys.

1. Check computers for zombies and other malware

Most people seem to be using anti-virus software these days but the software is only as good as its most recent update.
If your family members have subscriptions that have expired, if they haven’t done a baseline check lately, or if they’re Mac, tablet or smartphone users and think they aren’t vulnerable, get them a reputable product, bring it up to date and do a check for zombies and other malware today.
(We recommend AVAST as it’s kept our network clean and tidy since we began using it)

2. Enable WPA or WPA2 on home WiFi

If anyone in your family is using unsecured home WiFi or has secured their WiFi with WEP encryption, take two minutes to switch them to WPA or WPA2 today.
If you think you have already set up WPA for them, go and check they haven’t done a factory reset or anything that might have undone your work.

3. Set different passwords for every website

Make sure your family members are using different, strong, passwords for each website they log into. Thieves will often try stolen passwords on a range of popular websites because they know that people reuse them.
Help your family choose strong passwords that are at least twelve characters long and made up of a mixture of letters, numbers and special characters. If they have trouble remembering passwords then consider a password manager like LastPass or KeePass.
Of course, security doesn’t end with our three essentials, so let’s finish with a fourth…

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Ofsted 2014 Handbook, Guidance and Governance Matters

Ofsted’s Inspection handbook and subsidiary guidance was published yesterday and caused quite a stir! The Clerk to Governors very kindly did all the hard work for us and highlighted the changes in the Handbook and the Subsidiary Guidance. The first thing which caught my eye was the following additional paragraph in the guidance.
5. Do not insist that there must be three years worth of data, or that these data must show good progress or achievement, before judging a school’s overall effectiveness to be good overall. A school can be good if teaching, leadership and management, and behaviour and safety are good, and if there is sufficient evidence that progress and/or achievement of current pupils are good also. This is often the case when a school is improving from requires improvement, serious weaknesses or special measures. However, inspection reports must state clearly if this is the case.
Governors should also make a note of the Guidance where Floor Standards are mentioned as we need to be aware of these for our particular school.
The changes which have really excited teachers concern teaching styles. Andrew Old has commented on this here. The guidance says that inspectors must not give an impression that Ofsted favours a particular teaching style. It also makes the point that inspectors should not criticise “teacher talk” or always expect to see “independent learning”. Andrew makes a point that governors should make sure that their school’s teaching and learning policy reflects this guidance.
Then we come on to Behaviour. The Handbook states
49. Inspectors should must ensure that they observe pupils in a range of situations outside normal lessons to evaluate aspects of behaviour and safety, for example
  • at the start and finish of the school day
  • during lunchtime, including in the dining hall, and break or play times
  • during assemblies and tutor periods
  • when moving between lessons.
The fact that “should” has been replaced with “must” is very important!
The Guidance states,
68. ….. Often, the grade for behaviour and safety is a grade higher than overall effectiveness. Where this is the case, reports will be given additional scrutiny. Please make sure that sufficient evidence is gathered to warrant the grade awarded.
It goes on to state
72. Inspectors should also take account of identify disruptive behaviour of any kind. This may be overt, for example, persistent ‘shouting out’, or pupils ‘talking over the teacher’, or persistentarguing back’, or low level disruption , for example, through continuous chatter., not bringing the right equipment to lessons, not having books or doing homework, pupils arriving late to lessons, pupils chatting when they are supposed to be working together or pupils being slow to settle to their work and so on. It may also be more covert, taking the form, for example, of quiet refusal reluctance from a number of pupils to participate in group work or to cooperate with each other.
The above, in my opinion, has placed more emphasis on behaviour than was the case previously. As you can see inspectors are now required to observe students in different settings and identify disruptive behaviour of any kind. Again, this has implications for governors. Are we confident we know what behaviour is like in our school? How many of us know what behaviour is like when our students are being taught by supply/cover staff? In my experience that is when behaviour tends to be at its worst.
As far as governance is concerned, there aren’t that many changes to comment on. However, I will point out that the Guidance states that (this is not new)
102. Inspectors should meet with as many governors during an inspection as is possible
This is often not the case. Inspectors have been known to specify the number of governors they would like to meet. If you would like to take along more governors than the inspectors have asked for, stick to your guns and quote the above to them!
The part of the Guidance which deals with School judged as Requires Improvement has an interesting addition. Where governance in these schools is ineffective and specific issues regarding provisions for students eligible for pupil premium have been identified, then the Guidance states that an external review of the school’s use of pupil premium as well as an external review of governance should be recommended (para 107). In the past inspectors would have recommended an external review of governance with an additional focus on use of pupil premium. This emphasises how much importance is placed on the school’s use of pupil premium. This, again, is one of the issues we as governors need to come to grips with. We need to be absolutely certain we know how the school spends this money and the impact this has. The following additional paragraph highlights this.
109. Even where leadership and management is judged to be good, inspectors should use their professional judgement to determine whether a recommendation for an external review of the school’s use of the pupil premium would benefit the school.
So, leadership and management (which includes governance) may be good but inspectors may still recommend an external review of how you use pupil premium. For school placed in categories of concern, the Guidance states that
    112.Where leadership and management is found to be inadequate and governance is weak or failing, the lead inspector will write, by means of an email, to the responsible authority…………. Inspectors should also consider that, whenWhen writing to the responsible authority, the recommendations for actions couldwill normally also include an external review of governance and may also include an external review of the school’s use of the pupil premium.
The addition of “by means of an email” is presumably to ensure that the responsible authority is made aware as soon as possible! It should be noted that recommendations for actions WILL NORMALLY include an external review rather than could include as was the case previously. Again, they may also recommend an external review of how pupil premium is spent.
So, although there wasn’t a great deal of change as far as governance is concerned, there is still enough there which we need to be aware of and take notice of.
A last thought. The Guidance has deleted the following
114. Unless a significant concern is identified, there is no need to spend excessive amounts of time checking policies and detailed procedures and protocols
Deleting the sentence that there’s no need to spend time checking policies, to me, looks almost like a double negative!
With thanks to Shena Lewington whose hard work made this post possible.

iPads in the classroom?

The use of iPads in the classroom is becoming more common in many of our schools. There has been much debate about the amount of time are children are spending in front of screen, and whether by digitalising our classrooms we are preventing children from learning fundanemtal skills such as writing. I believe in moderation iPads can be a great tool to support learning. Many teachers feel they are becoming an invaluable tool thanks to the ease of using them, the functions of them and the apps that can support many areas of learning. For children they are exciting and engaging and may support the learning of children reluctant to pick up a pencil.
This little guy seems intrigued by the iPad, more so than by the books on the nearby shelves at a recent German book fair. Could it be that technology and tykes are a perfect mix for learning?
A whole host of apps are available and I thought I mention three thhatt I have come across thatwould be good  for supporting learning in the classroom when used on an iPad.
The first app I came across was called Pocket Zoo. This app allows children to view real animals in real zoos via webcams from the comfort of the classroom. This is great fun and could be used to support learning in many areas for example, Understanding the World in the Early Years or Science and Geography in Key Stages 1 and 2. Children can also see virtual zoos and learn many facts about animals and their care. This is a fairly easy app to use and would be great for children who have never been to the zoo before. This is only available from the App store and there is a charge for downloading, but I feel it is an App that could be useful and lots of fun.

Garage Band is an app that allows children to play instruments by touching the screen. There are a wide a variety of instruments to choose fro, but I did feel this was an app better suited to older children. It is quite fiddly and may be quite difficukt for little learners. Again there is a small charge to download this app from the App store. A more suitable app for younger children is Easy Beats. This is a more basic app and allows cildren to create a four bar piece of music. It also teaches them how to create a music loop. This could be a good way of teaching music using ICT. It has some quite good reviews on the internet and is a recommended app from the music module of the Early Years Eucation course.

Another positive for using iPads in the classroom is that it may reduce the amount of paper used in the classrrom making it a little more environmentally friendly. iPads are also great for being inclusive. Children with a physical disability may find these easier to use than traditional pencil and paper, and with the additon of a voice recording app or video recording app work can be completed in a variety of ways.
I got to experience using an iPad in an art lesson and it was fantastic! So good I blogged about it! It was great to be able to create a piece of art through sound, photos, vidoe or simple drawing. One of the nicest parts is that if you get it wrong or want to make changes, it doesn’t neccesarily mean you have to completely start again! Just erase the part you need to without ruining your whole piece of work.
I have seen many children using iPads and they are often excited and very engaged by using them. It is something different for them to try and produces very different results to thise they normally achieve. Many schools are now introducing this into schools and providing one iPad per pupil.I read about a school in Bolton who are providing an iPad to each of their 800 pupils. Whilst this may appear to be a good idea I was surprised the children will be allowed to take them home allowing them to communicate with teachers outside of school hours. I would also worry about the potential for them to become lost or broken. Read the full article here: This is however a secondary school, so I am not sure whether this would be the same circumstances if it was a primary school.
I found another article online discussing a primary school that had given every pupil an iPad. I totally agree with the issue it means more children can have access to the Internet or computers at the same time than previously, but I am slightly concerned by the admission that they are used in almost every lesson. I would think this may start to take away the excitement of being told to get an iPad to use if it is an everyday occurrence. To read the full article follow this link:
I think there are positives and negatives for using iPads in the classroom, but I really believe the key is moderation and management of the amount of time children use them so that other learning skills and play skills are also allowed to fully develop.

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.