iPad Rollout tips

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A question came up recently on one of my social networks, involving QuickTime Player on Macs system 10.7 or newer.  Apple discontinued QuickTime Pro which had some really nice recording and editing features, and incorporated many of them into QuickTime Player. A really handy function is screen recording.  Selecting New Screen Recording from the File menu lets you capture your screen as you are demonstrating software or a process and easily upload it to a variety of online or local destinations e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook.  Very handy, but it doesn't natively record computer sound!  It would be nice to include narration or a musical background in your screen movie or record a version of a web video resource for later use without having to pay for an additional software application.  Here's a quick and easy way to add audio to your screen recording -

1 - Download and install Soundflower -


This is a great little item, free and really works well with no problems. I've used it for a variety of purposes for several years.  Essentially it is a software simulation of a sound input or output - it lets you connect the "speakers" of your computer to software that you wish to direct sound to. In this case - QuickTime Player.  It installs itself in your system and when completed it will reveal itself in your System Preferences/Sound

There it is!  You now see Soundflower as an Output source, and if you peek at Input you'll see it as an option there.

2 - Set Soundflower as your Output Destination

Refer to the screen shot above.  It shows Internal Speakers as the Sound Output destination.  That's our normal way to process sounds from our computer - we click a video and hear the sound through our speakers or headphones.  When we set Soundflower as the output, we re-route that sound to software - which QuickTime (or other recording software) can utilize for our screen movie.  If you try playing sounds now you won't hear anything - don't freak out, you told it to divert the sound to the software, remember?  Just click back to Internal Speakers when you are done.

3 - Set QuickTime Player to use Soundflower as a sound input
Launch QuickTime Player, and go to the File Menu and select New Screen Recording. You'll see a control like this:

Click the triangle on the right side, and you'll see this menu:

Select Soundflower as you see above.  Note the ability to Select Built in Input  or Internal Microphone, if you just want narration, this allows you to use an external audio source or your mic to do just that.  If all you want is narration, just selecting Built-in Microphone will work just fine. Handy for a how to screen movie!

Click the red record button on the Screen Recording control to start your movie, Start your video or music background source and record away!

Click the square stop recording button where the red start record button icon was and you'll be presented with your brand new screen recording including audio!  You can click the Play button to preview your creation..  but wait - you just clicked play and don't hear anything!  Yikes!  No prob...  remember how you went to System Preferences/Sound to change your sound output to Soundflower? Its still set there, so you can't hear it!  Set it back to Internal Speakers, go back to your new movie and try again!  Bada boom!  It worked....  

6 -  Save and share! 
 So you can either go to File/Share and select your favorite web video host, or click the red dot on the top left of the QuickTime movie window which will prompt you to name and choose a local destination for your creation! The output of this process is kinda low-rez for video as it has a low framerate an may "flicker" a bit, but it works very well for a how-to screen capture or to get the gist of a video recording. This is great for making a podcast or a how-to video to share with staff members.  Hope this helps and saves you some bucks!

If you want to get real fancy, this amazing blogpost explains how to have sound background AND narration. I've tried it and it works, but its a teensy bit complex. Check this out if you want to go to the next level!  Major geek cred if you can do it!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

iPad Setup Resources

I've been doing a lot of iPad deployment lately, and speaking about iPad management to a variety of groups.  I thought I'd share some links that I feel are very helpful to those considering iPads in their schools, or that are already rolling them out.

A good thing to know... how to create an iTunes account without a credit card associated with the account - Apple Knowledge Base article

New information - iOS 7 is going to give us new capabilities and tools that will be very helpful to schools!! iOS 7 education page

You will have many woes unless the proper ports are open through your firewall for Apple services - their push server for instance..  this Well Known Ports page will  be helpful... 

I highly recommend that you read Apples iOS 6 Deployment guide to help you decide how you wish do deploy the devices. It is available as one of the files to be found at the following link. It explains the basic best practices deployment models, VPP, and even contains an appendix with some wireless info for the network geeks to ponder over. 
Apples education IT resources

Loved this blog post, it makes several great points.  I cannot emphasize enough that schools shouldn't do technology by checkbook - careful thought and planning should go into this process, before buying anything.
5 Mistakes schools make

If you are planning to do any number of iPads over 20, get signed up for the VPP program with Apple.  Discounts!!!  And an easy way to manage purchases.  There are some gotchas, but joining is a must IMHO.
Volume Purchase Program

For managing carts of iOS devices, for preliminary setup before individual distribution, even for preparing them for Mobile Device Management systems - you have got to have Apple Configurator!  Free from the App Store, you'll need a Mac running 10.7 or newer.  

The fellow that writes the Krypted blog is an Apple Genius.. well he doesn't work at the store, but he's a real genius. Excellent article on how to use Configurator in this link, but check out his blog, lots of gems there.

Found this article interesting.  Apple sold more iPads than Macs to schools in a recent quarter. And it was a record setting quarter for Mac sales.  The tablet revolution is upon us, and the iPad leads the pack!
Apple is replacing Macs in schools with iPads

If you've heard me speak about iPad management with Apple configurator, I always mention the importance of backing up your "mothership" i.e. synch station with Time Machine.  Following the link I've excerpted a couple of paragraphs from the article to reinforce why this is so critical.  Makes the cost of an external hard drive look pretty cheap!
Backing up the Configurator "mothership"

Additional Information

If you have supervised devices with Apple Configurator and you lose the Apple Configurator data files, the devices will still be supervised by the Mac that is running Configurator, but Apple Configurator will not be able to reinstall app backups or user data onto those supervised devices.

It is especially important to back up Apple Configurator information if you are using VPP codes. After a VPP code has been redeemed, only the Apple Configurator database keeps a record of what device that code was redeemed for. If this database is lost, and the app is deleted from the device, Apple Configurator will not be able to reuse the redeemed code in order to install the app, and you will need to purchase and redeem additional codes to replace the app on a device.

If there's an iOS device that just refuses to play nice, unsupervise it, and follow the proceedure in this Knowledge Base article to reset it.
Unable to update or restore

This little device, while a bit pricey, will allow you to charge and sync 15 devices at a time. You may be able to convert an existing cart to an iPad cart using a couple of these. Or just set the device on a table and forgo the cart route altogether.
16 Port Charge Station

Mobile Device Management (MDM) systems are the way to go with larger deployments, they let you push out management changes "over the air" where Configurator requires that the devices be synched.  There are several out there, but Casper is probably the most popular solution.
Casper by JAMF

A really attractive alternative to the paid MDM solutions by JAMF or MobileIron is the MDM system by Meraki.  They make really great network devices that are cloud managed. They've extended that concept to cloud management of IOS, other mobile platforms and computers, and its free and works pretty well! Sign up for a free account and start playing. Not quite as capable as other solutions but did you see the FREE part??  Go to the bottom of the following page and sign up.
Meraki MDM

Apple provides an alternative solution with its 10.8 Mountain Lion server.  Starting with 10.7 Lion server, you can manage settings on your iOS devices using push technology incorporated into Server.  It also provides an easy WebDav server for transferring and storing files.  The advantage of other MDM systems are their ability to create  self service portals for application distribution.  Lion or Mountain Lion Server might be worth a look however, cost wise. The link is to an excellent book that provides good guidance to setting it up.
Managing iOS Devices with Lion Server
This is a pretty long list of resources I found to be important. I'll add more here as I come across them and as I learn more tricks and tips out there in the field.  I hope you find them to be useful.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Operation HotRod My Computer

Operation HotRod my Mac is beginning... These are the goodies that soon will grace the innards of my trusty MacBook Pro. Its still a nice machine, but just needs a bit of a bump. I'm struck by how much this project resembles the hotrodding projects of my youth. One of my buddies would get a car, which of course needed a bit of juicing up to be much much faster. So they would get out the J.C. Whitney catalog, or get with another gear head friend and acquire a high rise manifold, A big 'ol four barrel carburator, a set of headers and glass pack mufflers. A little wrench work, some swearing and bleeding and some illicit beers later, the beater was made into a beast, much faster and ready for drag racing down old 40 highway.

 So what does this possibly have to do with a computer? Well all those bolt on parts served one purpose really - to get more fuel and air into and out of the engine, increasing its power. In the IT geek community we call this IO - input/output. The faster you can get them bits into the storage device, and back out of it into RAM where it can work for you the better! Just by replacing a spinning hard drive with an SSD or Solid State Drive, data moves much, much faster - quicker startups, better response, even faster downloads! Its an easy update and will make quite a difference.

 My plan is to remove my optical drive, replace it with an adapter that allows a hard drive to be mounted in that space, and install an SSD where the old hard drive was. My optical drive will go into an enclosure so it can still be used for the rare occasion I need to access optical media. Stay tuned here, I'll document the hotrodding process, I know you are all on pins and needles to wait for me to go out on 'ol 40 and open 'er up.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

MACE presentation Links and Notes

I wanted to make it easy to find links that I refer to in my upcoming MACE presentation. I've really enjoyed helping schools deploy iPads, but it does require everyone to Manage Different!

One of the first stops for anyone considering an iPad deployment is Apples excellent iOS 5 Education Deployment Guide.  There are really good recommendations and resources to be found there.

Depending on how you deploy - for instance if you want the school to buy apps for users - getting enrolled in Apples VPP or Volume Purchasing Program is something to get done well ahead of distribution.

You will almost certainly want to use some sort of management on your devices.  The simplest is Apples iPhone Configuration Utility or IPCU.  There are Windows and Mac versions of this software.

A more robust and extensible management method is Lion Server.  A Mac Mini with Lion Server works well for smaller deployments.

I found this book to be a valuable resource to use in setting up your Lion server to manage your iOS devices.  Managing iOS Devices with Lion Server .  The link goes to Amazon's page on the book.

If you are going larger scale, even on a smaller scale if you can afford it,  you will most certainly want a Mobile Device Management (MDM) server.  Casper by JAMF is probably the most popular of this genre.  This web page has a nice comparison of the many MDM systems available.

I stress heavily the importance of an excellent, well planned wireless network when you deploy iOS devices.  There are many resources, but this is a complicated field - the building structure, existing wireless devices, selected frequencies and interference all play a part.  It may be wise to have a survey done and find a contractor who specializes in wireless networks.