Roving Planet Enterprise Solution for K-12

Roving Planet’s Wi-Fi management solution gives K-12 school districtscentralized power and control over their entire wirelessinfrastructure. Our enterprise-class products, Central Site Director® and AP Commander™,work together to solve the K-12 dilemma of how to manage and expanddistrict-wide network services within a tight budget and without extraIT staff.
The Roving Planet solution expertly handles thesechallenges and more. We offer world-class support to keep your districtwireless LANs up and running smoothly.
Roving Planet cost-effectively solves the top Wi-Fi deployment challenges for K-12 districts, including:

  • Securing and managing wireless LAN infrastructure from a central location
  • Authenticating and authorizing multiple users and device types, including guest users
  • Monitoring and managing all aspects of wireless network performance and uptime

TheRoving Planet solution takes the worry out of securing your network.Roving Planet’s Central Site Director can secure and manage your WLANwith both a global view of the infrastructure, securely allows multipleusers and device types onto your network, and, more importantly, allowsreal-time granular visibility and control down to a single user,device, and application. With Roving Planet’s centralized managementplatform, network administrators can swiftly adjust, enable, or denyaccess to network resources on a user, application or access pointbasis. This ensures the productivity and integrity of yourdistrict-wide network infrastructure.


ED offers revised guide to international collaboration online


The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and iEARN-USA have announced a newly revised online resource to help teachers develop collaborative partnerships with educators in other countries. The new “Teachers’ Guide to Collaboration on the Internet” provides tutorials, tips, online and print resources, and specific curriculum-based projects in which U.S. teachers can participate to establish school-to-school global interaction via the internet. Examples are provided across the entire curriculum, from science and creative-arts projects to interaction in world languages. iEARN is currently active in schools and youth organizations in 115 countries. The organization works internationally with many partners to expand access by U.S. classes to the world’s students and teachers. iEARN-USA Director Edwin Gragert said the internet provides students and teachers with the opportunity to go beyond international simulations and engage directly with students in other countries. “Students have the opportunity to both learn and teach through direct interaction, enabling them to gain knowledge about and the ability to work with other cultures,” Gragert said. “These are important 21st-century skills. The Teachers Guide provided by the Department of Education helps educators equip students with these skills.”


New ‘worms’ target Apple machines

Users of Apple’s Macintosh computers have long enjoyed the technology equivalent of a safe neighborhood, where the viruses and security nuisances that bedevil far more common Windows-based PCs were much less frequent. Now, however, as the Mac is seeing some of its best sales in years, bad guys appear to be casing the joint.

In the past two weeks, computer security companies such as Symantec Corp., Sophos PLC, and McAfee Inc. have identified several security issues related to the latest version of Apple’s Mac operating system, called OS X. Among the concerns: two “worms,” programs written by unknown hackers that were designed to spread themselves to other Macs through Apple’s iChat instant-messaging software and Bluetooth wireless-communications capability.

And in a reminder that Macs, like Microsoft’s Windows software, also contain potentially worrisome security holes, a German graduate student last week discovered a vulnerability in OS X that could let a hacker install potentially damaging code on a Mac through the system’s Safari web browser.

The security issues are a warning that Mac users, too, must keep antivirus software up to date. And it’s a warning that has particular relevance for schools, which purchase and use large numbers of Macintosh computers. According to 2005 figures from market research firm Quality Education Data, about 30 percent of the installed base of computers in K-12 schools are Macs, and more than 12 percent run OS X software.

The two Mac worms were innocuous compared with the most invasive and destructive programs that plague Windows computers; security experts referred to them as “proof of concept” programs. The worms didn’t appear to inflict any meaningful harm on Macs; they required users to go through several steps on their computers before being infected.

Yet the appearance of the worms tripped alarm bells among some Mac users and security firms, because they were part of a very small handful of malicious Mac programs, known in the tech world as “malware.” Security experts believe it is only a matter of time before more virulent forms of malware for Macs appear.

Alfred Huger, senior director of engineering at Symantec’s security-response operation, predicts there will be a “gradual erosion” of the idea that Macs are a safer operating system than Windows.

Traditionally, Macs have been a far less appetizing target for hackers for a simple reason: The Mac’s tiny share of the general PC market, which ranges from 2 percent to 5 percent, according to most estimates, and the overwhelming dominance of Windows make Windows computers a far more rewarding pool of potential victims. That was true in the days when writing malware was primarily a form of sport, where digital pranksters aimed to vandalize the largest number of PCs by, say, leaving electronic graffiti on their screens or disabling the machines entirely.

More recently, security firms estimate that as much as two-thirds of all malware spread through the internet is motivated by profit, including malicious code that criminals use to harvest credit-card numbers from PCs to aid in identity theft or to turn machines into “zombies” for relaying spam to eMail accounts across the internet. Other forms of malicious code known as spyware or adware can capture users’ keystrokes as they enter passwords to banking sites or deliver irritating pop-up windows with advertisements as they surf the web.

Security researchers say they have recorded between 100,000 and 200,000 viruses–a term often used interchangeably with worms to describe malicious programs that spread by copying themselves for Windows and previous Microsoft operating systems. For Mac OS X, the number can be counted on one hand.

Apple Computer of Cupertino, Calif., is becoming a higher-profile target, though. While Apple’s market share remains small, its Mac business was booming last year: The company sold 4.7 million Macs in calendar 2005, a 35-percent gain from the 3.5 million it sold in 2004 and far better than the 16-percent growth for the PC industry as a whole during the same period. Apple’s visibility as a company has never been higher, with the smashing success of its iPod music player, an iconic device that has introduced many Windows users to Apple technologies for the first time.

For now, it doesn’t appear that malware authors have directly targeted viruses and worms at Apple’s iPod, which dominates the digital music-player market. Some security experts, though, have warned of a different kind of risk associated with the device: iPods and other portable storage devices, such as keychain memory sticks, could provide a convenient, inconspicuous device for allowing a skilled hacker to bring software tools into a corporate network or for stealing sensitive information off a school network.

Apple’s iTunes Music Service, because it is tightly controlled by the company, hasn’t been a source of security problems for users in the past, unlike file-sharing networks where users are free to swap whatever files they want, including viruses in some cases. Some security experts believe hackers are becoming more interested in writing nasty code for Macs precisely because of reports of its relative immunity to security woes.

Apple itself has gone out of its way not to promote the Mac’s relative safety, lest it tempt hackers to prove the company wrong. Apple declined to discuss the topic of security in depth for this article.

In response to the vulnerability identified last week, the company said in a statement, “Apple takes security very seriously. We’re working on a fix so that this doesn’t become something that could affect customers. Apple always advises Mac users to only accept files from vendors and web sites that they know and trust.”

Many users of Apple products and some security experts also believe Macs are more resistant to malware attacks than Windows computers because of smart decisions Apple made in the design of OS X. Out of the box, Apple has set up Macs to make it harder for hackers to do damaging things, such as surreptitiously install harmful software programs, than it has been in the past on Windows XP, the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system.

Even then, though, Macs still have holes. Symantec, for one, says it recorded 18 security vulnerabilities in the Mac in 2001; last year, the number jumped to 185. Vincent Weafer, senior director at Symantec Security Response, says the growing number of vulnerabilities doesn’t mean Apple’s software is getting less secure, but reflects growing interest in and scrutiny of Mac software on the part of security researchers, who identify most such holes.

Meanwhile, Microsoft, bruised by years of malware assaults on Windows, has patched up many of the worst security holes in Windows XP. The company is also promoting Windows Vista, the next version of its operating system, due out later this year, as a big leap in PC security. Windows Vista’s hardened security includes Windows Defender, a program executives say will block spyware and other potentially harmful software from the internet.

Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos, says better software defenses will only go so far, though. Many viruses and worms, for instance, don’t exploit security holes in operating systems. Instead, they use what are called “social engineering” techniques to trick users into doing things they shouldn’t do, like unwittingly installing programs. The Anna Kournikova worm from 2001, for example, infamously tricked Windows users into installing it by masquerading as photos of the leggy Russian tennis star attached to eMail messages.

Rather than weaknesses in operating systems, such approaches exploit “a bug in peoples’ brains, which is much harder to patch,” Cluley said.


Apple Computer Inc.

Symantec Corp.

Sophos PLC


Virtual School bill moves forward reports that South Dakota lawmakers decided that the state Education Department should regulate the growing number of online courses in the state. Bill HB1236–requested from Governor Mike Rounds–would create a state-wide framework for Internet and televised courses…


High-tech to Holocaust reports that as the number of Holocaust survivors steadily dwindles, today’s youth who speak to them might be the last to have that chance. Because of this, Grange Middle School teacher decided to ensure that her students had such a conversation. She and 75 students used video-conferencing equipment to hear Holocaust survivor Elane Geller speak at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles…


Anti-Darwin bill fails in Utah

The New York Times reports that the Utah House of Representatives rejected a bill intended to challenge the theory of evolution in Utah’s high school science classes. Nationally, the bill was viewed with interest by both sides of the debate, given how conservative Utah is as a state. The bill was defeated 46-to-28 vote by a Republican-controlled House… (Note: This site requires free registration)


Google digitizes historic video clips

Students and teachers now have free online access to more than 100 historic films, including old World War II newsreels and NASA documentaries, thanks to an agreement between internet search giant Google Inc. and the National Archives.

Google has digitized the films through a pilot project announced Feb. 24 by United States Archivist Allen Weinstein and Google co-founder and President of Technology Sergey Brin. The non-exclusive agreement will allow scholars, researchers, and the general public to access a diverse collection of historic movies, documentaries, and other films from the National Archives via Google Video, as well as the National Archives web site.

“This is an important step for the National Archives to achieve its goal of becoming an archive without walls,” Weinstein said. “Our new strategic plan emphasizes the importance of providing access to records anytime, anywhere. & For the first time, the public will be able to view this collection of rare and unusual films on the internet.”

Added Brin: “Today, we’ve begun to make the extraordinary historic films of the National Archives available to the world for the first time online. Students and researchers, whether in San Francisco or Bangladesh, can watch remarkable video such as World War II newsreels and the story of Apollo 11–the historic first landing on the moon.”

The pilot program features 103 films from the audiovisual collections preserved at the Archives. Highlights of the project include:

  • The earliest film preserved in the National Archives holdings, “Carmencita: Spanish Dance,” by Thomas Armat, an 1894 film featuring the famous Spanish Gypsy dancer;

  • A representative selection of United States government newsreels from 1941-1945, documenting World War II;

  • A sampling of documentaries produced by NASA on the history of the spaceflight program; and

  • Motion picture films, primarily from the 1930s, that document the history and establishment of a nationwide system of national and state parks–including early footage of modern Native American activities, Boulder Dam, documentation of water and wind erosion, Civilian Conservation Corps workers, and the establishment of the Tennessee Valley Authority. In addition, a 1970 film documents the expansion of recreational programs for inner-city youth across the nation.

    Google said it is exploring the possibility of expanding the project to include more video. The company also said it wants to make the Archives’ extensive textual holdings available via the web, too.


    National Archives footage on Google Video

    National Archives

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    Not all computers equal in schools

    The Orlando Sentinel reports that although Florida promises an equal education for all of its students, middle-class students don’t get equal treatment when it comes to computer equipment. Whereas poorer schools receive funds and programs to update their technology and richer schools are able to afford to update, middle-class schools frequently have very tight budgets. These budgets cause some middle-class schools to use second-hand technology equipment…


    Study: TV doesn’t lower test scores

    The New York Times reports that a recent study by two economists from the University of Chicago argues that at least in terms of its effect on test scores, television doesn’t cause harm. The study utilized a trove of data from the 1960s, in which the test scores from 300,000 students were collected because of a survey conducted under the Civil Rights act. This data was correlated to the release of television. Television was adopted in stages across the nation, so pre- and post-television test scores were available for comparison… (Note: This site requires free registration)


    Ruling may undercut Google in book scan fight reports that a recent federal court decision in California might undermine one of Google’s primary defenses in its dispute with publishers over the company’s right to scan books that are still under copyright. In the recent decision, it was decided that Google’s use of thumbnail-sized images in its image-search program violated the rights of adult magazine publishers, as it limited the resale potential for those images…