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NVMUG July Meeting News

NVMUG July 13, 2013, Meeting News
Meeting room 224, Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital
St. Johnsbury, Vermont

This was a great meeting.

Geoff Gonter demonstrated how he manages school computers and iOS devices on the web using some powerful software, and how they use Microsoft cloud software and Excel to manage and share school information.

Stephen Farber demonstrated the new Maverick OS X and new Pages on Apples iCloud. He wanted to share his enthusiasm for them.

Once upon a time computing was done with keypunch machines or terminals connected to mainframe computers. Most of it has migrated to small computers and increasingly to iOS devices. Have we come full circle? Was this a glimpse of a new future?

I hope this report is informative, but it has lost the good feeling I had at the meeting. I had forgotten my hearing aides - so I was trying both to hear correctly and to understand. I did not start to write it for two days, so I had lost some short term memory. And, I had no background in the Microsoft world. I tried to fill in using Safari and Google research and lost the flow of the meeting.

Hartley Jackson asked Geof Gonter how he could tell if it was time to replace his external backup drive before it goes bad. He used to have TechTool, should he get it again now?

Geof said he could use Onyx or Data Reporter which are free. Geoff has a hardware test for his school (EFI tests) which are more extensive, but not available to the public. (Our MacBook serial number is under the Apple menu, About This Mac, under More Info.

Geof has several sources that send him email about software available including Macware, MacUpdate, and deals from OWC Other World Computing. Many offers are only good for one day. If he finds offers that he thinks you might be interested in, he may send them to me. If he does, I will try to forward them to you quickly. It might be interesting to see how it works, and if you would like it continued.

Midge’s computer is 4 years old today. She wondered how long it is expected to last. Geof said it is called MacBook Pro for a reason. (A 2012 PC World survey reported Apple desktop computers beat all others in reliability as well as ease of use and most everything else. )

Geof said he has not seen a PC over 6 years old that has not had a battery replacement, but students generally do not plug in during the day. They are replacing 2007 and 2008 batteries.

He said an iPad may not be the answer in schools because teachers have curriculums built around an application like Photoshop, or a database like Appleworks that can’t run on an iPad. Schools skate on old software for so long. Also, you cannot bring over programs obtained with in-app purchases from one app to another, and Apple knows the codes so that in-app purchases have to be restored on individual machines.

Neil Raphel said Dropbox won’t run on the old iBook computers.

Adobe is renting the new Photoshop to be run on-line instead of selling an updated version. One reason for the change—Adobe estimated that 50% of Photoshop users had copied it. You might be able to share photos from Photoshop if you paid to use the new version the web.

New Chrome Books from Google, a cloud based computer, is only $249 for a school. Microsoft Google Docs which includes word processing and a spreadsheet is free for schools, but not for individuals. Google Drive in the cloud is free competitor for iCloud.

Geof said a school bought Pages for their iPads. Lake Region is getting a 135 megabyte connection next week, other schools have about 10 megabyte connections.

Geof’s, son-n-law, said anybody who thinks that the government and phone companies are not keeping track of you phone calls is wrong, - the government just pulls it together. The contents calls are all recorded on telephone company huge databases.

Geof is now on record as our User Group Ambassador, he has been recognized by Peachpit and told someone wold be contacting him but hasn’t received anything from them yet. He has not heard back from O’Reilly

Geof Gonter's Demonstration

Geoff gave a very interesting demonstration of how he can use a website management system "on the cloud" to manage school records, computers, and iOS devices.

Geof is the administrator for a Cisco Meraki enterprise’s Systems Manager network for his company and the schools in his supervisory unions. Its features include centralized management, remote monitoring, remote software and app installation, remote wipe, and security audit.

Meraki is a “cloud managed network infrastructure company,”whose products are designed to provide large-scale wired and wireless networks. The company was started by two MIT PhD students, Sanjit Biswas and John Bicket along. along with Hans Robertson. The company is based in part on the MIT Roofnet project. Cisco acquired Meraki for $1.2 billion last November.

Geof can open up every IOS device, add or uninstall apps, or wipe them clean, in any of their schools with this Meraki management software.

Geof said, “SkyDrive is SharePoint for a secure web site. It has versions of Excel on it.” He can get an Excel document, edit in an Excel app, change it on the cloud, and save the document to Microsoft Excel Web app.

SharePoint is a Microsoft application to work with office applications across devices, create a website, file sharing, calendars, conferencing, and office apps online. SharePoint My Sites are commonly referred to as “Facebook for the enterprise” and are personal site collections providing each user with the ability to store private and public information such as documents, pictures, status updates, etc easily and efficiently. Share Point is available with the Microsoft Office 365 program.

Microsoft Office 365 is the latest Microsoft Office program which you rent for a monthly fee. You cannot buy lt. It is “Your complete Office in the cloud on the web.” One of the prices is $15/mo with no added hosting fees for a web site for a small business version. It includes Word, Exel, Power Point, One Note, Publisher, Lync, and Info Path.

SkyDrive is a Microsoft iCloud for Windows Phone, iOS or android, It includes 7GB of free cloud storage, you can get free Office Web Apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote), share documents you chose,with whomever your choose, and set the rest to remain private. It also works with the full desktop version of Office. (It is available for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad on the Apple iTunes app store.

(I hope I have this right. I didn’t know anything about this before Geof’s presentation.)


One of the screens that Geof’ Gonter displayed.


This display shows a Microsoft Excel Web App with icons for applications available online, and an Excel spreadsheet with schedules for Geof for the summer. All scheduling is on the cloud where others can reference it. Geof can edit most of the information on the site, but he does not have authorization to edit this one because it because it has something to do with salaries. Geof can edit each school’s computer and and iOS device inventory on the web.

Geof can share information on the site with people. He can send an email out, and include a personal memo with it.

Schools can go to a Microsoft portal to access the information. They can use an Outlook account to access the Excel information, work with it, and save it on their computers. (My notes do not include the details about this.)

Geof has several schools who do everything on the cloud.

I wish I had taken pictures other of his displays which showed things he can change to inventory, manage, and control equipment and programs in the schools.

Wild Branch <http://www.wildbranch.com> is the company Geof works for in Newport.

Wild Branch on my.sharepoint.com is associated with a SharePoint IP number, and is like a Mac server.

Wildbranch is an authorized Microsoft reseller. They have a new service center at 169B E. Maiin Street, (phone 802 487-9154 open 9 - 5 Monday thru Friday. I found this on their Web site:

Wild Branch Solutions is one of the largest technology support firms in the Green Mountain State. Our growing team of technology professionals supports over 30 educational and private institutions throughout Vermont. We challenge you to find a company that can match our comprehensive service and reasonable prices. 

In addition to supporting our business clients, Wild Branch Solutions is now offering technical services and computer assistance to home users through our new service center and store front. At the service center, we have several products for purchase and are able to assist customers with the process of purchasing equipment not yet available directly through the store, including computers from both Dell and Apple. We also have the facilities and expertise to diagnose and repair computer equipment, and replace components.

(I do not know much about Microsoft programs and services. I have all I can do to try to keep up with Apple and iCloud.)

Stephen Farber's Presentation

Stephen is a beta developer for the new Mavericks OS X. He said he has been playing with iWork on iCloud, is really enthused about it, and wanted to share some of his enthusiasm with us. He demonstrated some beta iCloud features including Pages in iCloud.

He is really enthused about it, and wanted share his enthusiasm with us. His demo was the last thing at the meeting. The meeting time ended and I had to leave at 12:30 before he could finish.




Here is the screen he showed when he opened iCloud. The current version that I have shows one icon for iWorks which you click on to choose Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. In the new version, as you can see, you click directly into whichever you want.







Here is the screen Stephen displayed to show the new format


Stephen said the new iCloud Pages does not have Inspectors. Instead it has a the titleswhat can be modified by the controls on the right of the screen. He demonstrated moving and rotating the image, and other things.

He emailed this document to me during the meeting.






Here is my my computer screen showing an earlier draft of the this report in Pages beta,.

Notice the T on the top which brings up the text options on the right.







I am now using the new beta Pages and love the options for moving the documents between iCloud and my iPad and MacBook air. I even had two versions of this document at the same time on both devices for editing them.

Stephen suggested if Pages seems slow for some things on your computer, removing some of the fonts might help.

Thank you Stephen!

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