The Most Important Tools I Carry With Me Everyday?

The most important tools I carry with me everyday?

1. Bootable Linux flash drive
2. Bootable Sardu flash drive with self updating Bitdefender, UBCD4Win, Ubuntu and password hacking tools
3. Portable Apps Flash Drive (16 Gig) with complete set of utilities and the Sysinternals Suite
4. USB to IDE/Sata drive connector
5. Small toolkit set

That’s all I need to solve any computer problem. The flash drives fit in two clip on cases to a loop on my pants, the USB/IDE/Sata and tool set fit in my JanSport backpack with my laptop. I do carry some specific tools to fix the Promethean ActivBoards and other things in our school district, but they are special to the job. The main 5 are what I would recommend to all Tech Support Professionals.

For good reference and knowledge, I would recommend any book written by +Ed Bott of which I own at least the last 3 Windows Inside Out.

from Ray Ebersole – Google+ Post Feed


Lemonade Always Tastes Better With Ice

Everyone knows the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I believe that they sometimes are pretty big lemons, but the bigger the lemon the more you can learn.

The Situation

Let me give you an example. You are teaching 2nd grade and you are being observed by the principal for your evaluation. You are dong an activity on the ActivBoard with the students using ActivExpressions. All at once the ActivExpressions stop working, then when you go to change the page on the flipchart the ActivPen doesn’t work. What do you do in this situation? The principal is watching how you use technology in your classroom lessons and it has failed. Now they are watching how you handle your class and this problem.

The Choices

These are pretty big lemons with the technology being an integral part of our current instructional lesson plans. Are you taking these lemons, making them bigger by getting excited or continuing to try to make the technology work on your own making the situation worse?

Of course you could make lemon aide from these lemons by being cool and using a traditional backup part of your lesson with the students. That will keep them busy for the minute you need to call the service desk to get a technology support professional out immediately to fix the technology.

The Results

You chose to use your backup plan, called for help and still taught your lesson. The tech support was able to fix your problem and you were able to segue back to the ActivBoard to finish your lesson. Pretty good lemonade, especially because you used common sense, cool thinking to add ice to the lemons to make a cool refreshing drink. By being calm, knowing that you need to move on, that there is nothing you can do about the problem, except try to solve it you are able to make the best of a bad situation. That is a lot better than being a nervous wreck, worried about the principal sitting in the room and worried about that evaluation. Focusing on the ultimate goal of teaching the students made a bad situation into a very productive lesson.

How to Take Care of Your Promethean ActivBoard in 5 Easy Steps

I see a lot of searches on my blog that ask about cleaning or taking care of an ActivBoard. Since I haven’t ever seen anything as a definitive text on this topic from any source, I thought I would give you my learned guide to taking care of an ActivBoard.

Clean the projector and filters once a month

This one thing will save you A LOT of money and strained eyes. Projector bulbs are not cheap, dust is the enemy of projectors, bulbs and the heat they generate. The projector should be cool when you clean it so that you can touch parts, and use compressed air. (DO NOT USE COMPRESSED AIR ON A PROJECTOR THAT IS HOT OR RUNNING) unless you want to have flames shoot out of your projector, possibly injuring yourself. Remove the filters blow them out, clean the slots where they come from. Remove the bulb, blow it out and blow out the air ventilation slots on the projector. Lastly, wipe down the outside of the projector of excess dust.

Clean the Board once a month

Spray white board cleaner onto a soft cloth and clean any smudges or marks. DO NOT saturate the cloth with cleaner as it will hurt the surface of the board if you use too much. Also, do not just wipe the whole board. Only clean the smudges or marks.  On a weekly basis you should use a dry cloth to wipe off any dust from the boards surface.

Be Gentle with the ActivPens and Wands

This is easy. You don’t have to bang on the board with the pen to make it work. Treat it like a regular pen when writing, don’t press hard. The board will understand what you want better with a lighter touch. Train  your students to use them properly and you will get a lot of life out of the pens and wands.

Buy Docks and fixed leg tables for your laptops

This purchase will save you thousands of dollars a year in maintenance labor and parts. By having the cables from the termination box plugged into a dock, you don’t have teachers unplugging and plugging in cables daily or pulling them out of the termination box. They are always plugged into the dock and teachers don’t have to remember what slot to plug them into. Having a small fixed leg table next to the ActivBoard will keep the teachers from moving a rolling table which has a chance of pulling the cables out or even pulling the termination box off the wall. Also, they will not place their desk by the ActivBoard and stretch the cables because the dock has to be close to where they will be typing at their desk when not using the ActivBoard.

Do Summer/Holiday  & Other Maintenance

Believe it or not behind the board gets dirty too. The actual board needs to be taken down off its mount. The cables, surge protector and other parts should be blown clean or wiped down at Winter Break and during the Summer. The boards should be unplugged during any extended break, such as Winter Break, Spring Break, and Summer Break. Power surges, lightning strikes, etc. can cause electrical damage which can be avoided by simply unplugging the board from the wall.

Another great idea is to mount a hook alongside or 6 inches above the the termination box. During Summer Break, leave the cables attached to the termination box and wrap them into a small circle and tie them at opposite sides with either zip ties or reusable Velcro ties (my favorite cable organizing tool). You can then hang the cables on the preplaced hook for safe keeping off the floor where custodial staff is cleaning or doing maintenance. This also prevents the loss of cables and damage to the termination box by removing them and moving them to a storage area until the beginning of the next school year.

It also saves on having to set up every cable in every room at the beginning of the school year. I walk around each year the week before teachers come back with my laptop, plug it into each dock, plug the boards back in, test their remote by turning on the projector and test the board. Maybe ten minutes in each room, takes a week doing a few wings a day for two hours.


The time and effort that this 5 step method takes is nothing compared to the savings that it will be on the life of your ActivBoards, cables, projectors and bulbs.