Monthly Archives: March 2014

Isolating the Problem

Tech Tips for Tuesday

It’s 8:30 a.m. Do you know where your network is?

Although most of us don’t want to sign up for computer-networking classes, there are a few quick things we can do to help keep things rolling when we can’t reach network resources, such as Google Drive, YouTube, and Outlook WebApp (email).

When things seem slow, and you think something might be wrong with the PSUSD network, run a quick trace. The traceroute utility has been available on the Internet for more than 20 years. You can run it from all platforms. Some samples:

  • On Windows, go into Command Prompt and type “tracert http://www.apple.com” (substitute your favorite dependable server).
  • On Macs, go to Network Utilities and choose the Traceroute tab. (Again, you will have to specify a destination server.)
  • On iOS devices, there are several free apps. iNetTools is very straightforward.

Traceroute will give you a list of routers that your Internet packets hit between your machine and the destination server you choose. You should see a list of three or four of our district routers (with an address beginning with “10.”), and then a half dozen or more routers outside PSUSD. If the list ends at around four items, then it’s likely our district network is doing its job, but our connection to the outside world is down.

Why do you care? If things are working correctly in the district but our connection to the Internet is broken, you can still useemail, and you still have access to our L: drive and other internal resources (including networked printers).

A nice preventive step you can do before your school day starts is to store a backup copy of important files inside the district. You can use the L: drive, or you can ask ETIS to let you sign up for a teacher web site. These are visible everywhere, and they’re available for upload when you’re inside the district. If the file you need is stored inside the PSUSD network, then you won’t care if our connection to the Internet goes down.

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Google Search Operators

Tech Tips for Tuesday

Do your students know how to use Google? Stupid question, right?

Most high-school students will instantly take any discussion topic and type the 
most obvious words into a search field, and bam! Five million hits! They look at the first five or six, and use the information in those linked resources in the paper they’re writing for you.

How good are those results? Aren’t they filled with 
duplicates and poor-quality information? Worse, aren’t the resources often one-sided, favoring Western sources over sources from the developing world, and popular sources over academic sources?

You can pre-filter your Google search results based on the
address of the server. For example, if you know you need something in India, you can begin your search terms with the characters site:in. The letters “in” are the Internet country code for India. Similarly, you can limit your results to only articles published by academic organizations using the site:edu code; usesite:stanford.edu to further restrict your results to only pages on a Stanford server.
 
Here are some sample searches, showing the progressive filtering as you use site to restrict servers:
  • pearl harbor (32,000,000 results, including commercial and American servers)
  • site:jp pearl harbor (117,000 results, from servers in Japan only)
  • site:ac.jp pearl harbor (39,000 results, from academic servers in Japan only)
To learn about “site” and other filtering options, Google this: Google search operators
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