Monday, December 23, 2013

Windows 8.1: Disable Bing search

If you want to keep Bing from being the search engine that searches you PC, just follow the instructions below.

1.  Hover your mouse over the top right corner of your screen so that you can trigger the settings bar.  Click the "Settings" gear icon.

2.  Now click the "Change PC Settings" option all the way at the bottom.

3.  Click on the "Search and apps" option. 

4.  Now find the "Use Bing to search online" option.  Take the slider and slide it to the left until the "On" turns to "Off."

That's all it takes to disable the Bing search.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Google Spreadsheets: How do I wrap text in a Google Spreadsheet

In many spreadsheet programs you just right click on selected cells and format the column to wrap text.  In Google spreadsheets however you don't have to right click and format your cells.  Google has made it very easy to wrap text using a toolbar button.  Below is a quick tutorial on how to wrap text in Google spreadsheets.

1.  Highlight the cells in which text wrapping will occur.

2.  Locate the "Wrap text" icon/button on the Google Spreadsheet toolbar.

Your text should now start wrapping.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Windows Vista: Black screen appears after Windows Vista welcome logon.

Well this problem took me quite awhile to figure out.  I had a client bring her machine in with a bunch of spyware and malware issues.  I cleaned those up right away, installed Microsoft Security Essentials.  One of the options in Microsoft Security Essentials was to make sure the Windows Firewall was turned on.  After reading blogs and tech sites for about 2 hours, I thought I might go back and just disable the Firewall and MS Security Essentials.  That was the key.  For whatever reason when the Firewall services were starting automatically I would get about a 90 second delay after logging in.  I would just see a black screen with a working mouse, but no desktop.

I don't know if this solution will help anybody but this Windows Vista machine, but here is a tutorial on delaying the Windows Firewall start up.

1.  Click your start button and type in the search area "services."

2.  Open your "services" program.

3.  Scroll until you find "Windows Firewalls."  Double click on it.

4.  Verify that this is your issue by changing the Automatic to "Manual."

5.  Restart your machine and see if this solves your issue with a long black screen delay after the welcome screen.

After all the research I have concluded that there are probably many reasons why you get a black screen after logging in.  So far this is a method that worked for this particular machine.  HP Pavillion a6313w


Monday, December 2, 2013

Toshiba Satellite Laptop: Touchpad quit working

One of my students came up to me and let me know that her mouse pad on her Toshiba Satellite quit working.  With a quick search of the keypad I found a symbol that looked like it could resemble a touchpad.  Sure enough, it was the touchpad lock.

Check for a symbol on the F5 key.  Some say it is the F9 key, but for our Toshibas it is definitely the F5 Key.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Google Chrome Extension: Voice Comments for Google Drive

For those districts using GAFE (Google Apps For Education) and specifically the ability to collaborate on work with staff and students and who have used the "Comments" part of any document, you might be interested in using "Voice Comments" extension.  With "Voice Comments" you can quickly give and receive feedback on documents within Google Drive.  This extension works well and is easy to use.  A nice newly added touch to Voice Comments is the ability to add external links such as Youtube videos that might just help students get a little more information about their topic.  Give it a try, I think you will be impressed.

1.  First you need to install the extension by going to this link.  Voice Comments
2.  When you first install Voice Comments you will need to click the "Accept" button.

3.  When you first enter the site you will need to click whether you are an educator or not.
4.  You will be asked to pick a file that you want to open.
5.  Once the file is open just highlight a specific area of text.  You can't highlight images though.  Above the highlighted text you will be given 3 options.  The first is to give a voice comment.  The second is to give a comment by typing.  The third is to add a resource to the highlighted area.  Click on any of them.
6.  If you are leaving recorded voice you will need to make sure you allow the site to use your microphone.  Just click "Allow" and "Remember" and then close the window.
7.  You might also get a note at the top to "Allow" or "Deny" in your browser.  Make sure you click "Allow."  I only had to do this once when first configuring Google Chrome.
8.  Just click the "Record" button for voice commenting.
9.  You and your students will just need to click the "Play" button next to the time and you can hear your comments.
10.  The feedback button just lets you type some comments in like you normally would.
11.  The resource button allows you to add links to more information about your students work.
12. On the student's side of things they will go to their Google Drive and check the document that they want to view feedback in.
13.  They will click the "More" button at the top of Google Drive and select the "Open with" option and then select the "Kaizena" option.  Your students will also be asked to go through the configuration process granting permission to use Google Drive and their Microphone.
14.  Your students should now be able to view your comments and add or delete comments themselves.
Comment below describing any experience you may have had with this extension and how you might be using it in your classroom.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Windows 8: Sony Vaio Touch Screen Quit Working

My Windows 8 touchscreen quit working.  I found quite a few posts with the same issue.  The computer I have is a Sony Vaio T Series Ultrabook.  The model number that I have is:  SVT1511L  

The solution for me was to download and install the Firmware update.  I don't know why it wasn't automatic.  I found the update at:

Let me know if this solution works for you.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

SchoolMaster Gradebook: How do I import Mark Tables

Follow these steps to import mark tables.  This tutorial is meant mainly for the Snowflake Unified School Districts gradebook, but the steps are pretty much the same for the program no matter which school you use.

1.  Click on "Utility" and choose the "Import Mark Tables" option.

2.  If you are a teacher at an elementary school pick the "Elementary/Standards Mark Table" option.  If you are at the Middle or High Schools pick the "Secondary Mark Tables" option.  Click OK.

3.  Pick the type of mark table you want to use.  Most likely it would be the "Standard" option.  Not sure what all of the others are, but they must be specific to different schools.  Click OK.

4. Now go back to your gradebook and select the "Configuration" from the "View" menu.  Under "Mark Table" select the Standard Mark Table option or whatever mark table you imported.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


Every once in a while I have a technical experience I like to share.  The following on just happened moments ago.
I just received a phone call about how my computer is having extreme issues.  I told them they were crazy but I was curious so I followed along.  They will take you into your computer and show you errors that have come up and then try to convince you that you need to log into a website so they can clean out your computer.  Do not follow them.  In then end after I Googled the conversation and told them they sounded like a scam they hung up on me.  So I am just giving you a warning.  These guys even said they were from Microsoft and sounded legit.
After doing some research, I found that this isn't a new scam.  It has been circulating since about 2010.  At least that is the oldest date I could find.   Many people get taken by computer scams every year, so I just wanted to warn my readers that it is still circulating.

The website they are trying to send you to is .  Now is a legitimate site for sharing your desktop with people.  Just don't use them to share with these scammers.

  Beware!!! Remember to talk to a IT professional that you know, before giving information out over the phone and email.  None of the big companies out there will call you or email you out of the blue and ask for information.

 Beware!!! Remember to talk to a professional that you know, before giving information out over the phone and email.  None of the big companies out there will call you or email you out of the blue and ask for information.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Youtube Glitch: My youtube videos keep stopping at a specific time and won't play.

Sometime in May or June I noticed that my Windows 8 and Windows Vista machines quit playing some of the YouTube videos.  The videos would always start but in my case they would quit playing and buffering at 14 seconds.  I spent hours on this problem so I hope you don't have to.

I tried Chrome, IE, and Firefox and they all stopped exactly at the same spot.  I tried browsers on Windows XP and it worked fine.  I also didn't see any problems on my iPad, Smartphone, or Droid tablet.

I tried uninstalling and re-installing Flash.

I finally came across an obscure post of somebody that had the exact same problem  I tried his solution and it worked great for me.  So if your YouTube playback symptoms are:

  1. Stopping video at specific time
  2. Stopping and Starting
then try this Google Chrome solution.  So far it works at 100%.


1.  Open up Google Chrome.  Go to the 3 bars/settings at the top right of your browser and choose the "Settings" option.

2.  On the left hand side of your screen you should see "Extensions."  Click on it.

3.  At the very bottom of your extensions, you will see a link.  Click on the "Get more extensions" link.

4.  In the search bar, type in "smartvideo for youtube" and hit your enter button.

5.  Click the "Add to Chrome" button.

6.   Go back into settings and extension and click the "Options" link under the Smartvideo for Youtube" extension.

7.  The two options that I checked were the "Start buffering right away" and the "Start playing when buffered" option.

If you have the same problem that I had, I hope this worked for you.  Let me know how it went.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Smartboard Activity: What is the activity builder and how do I use it?

The activity builder was a nice touch from the people at Smarttech.  With the activity builder you can create categorization activities quite quickly.  Students will drag items from the the Notebook page into a category and if they are right the object will stay or disappear and if the student is wrong the item will bounce back to where it was.  Using the activity builder is extremely useful and very easy to use.

Smartboard Activity Builder Tutorial

1.  Using the "shapes" button, create shapes for each category you will use.  In this example I will use three.

2.  Create your first shape and then copy and paste it for however many categories that you have.

3.  To add some flare to the shapes I added a picture to each one.  To do that, click the object and then the "Properties" button.  Click the "Image fill" option under "Fill Effects."

4.  Click the "Browse" link.

5.  Navigate to the image and select it.  Click the "Open" button.

6.  Select the "Scale to fit" option

7.  My image is now in my shape.  I added a title as well.  In this example I will categorize volcano descriptions.

8.  Add all the words, images, or objects that will fit into the categories that you set up.

9.  Now you are ready to build your activity.  Click on the "Activity builder" button on the left side of your Notebook software.  It looks like a puzzle piece.  

10.  Select your first category object.  

11.  Click the edit button in the "Activity Builder."

12.  Drag all of the correct objects and text that fit this first category into the "Accept these objects" block.

13.  On the "Reject these objects" block click the "Add all remaining" button. 

14.   If any item doesn't belong just drag it to the garbage can.

15.  Click the "Done" button.

16.  You should notice that your text and objects now have a green or red box next to them.  Green is for the words that get accepted and red is for those that get rejected.

17.  Follow those instructions for the other two category shapes that we already set up.  Now click on the "Settings" button for each category shape.  Decide what action need to happen when the object is accepted or rejected.  Notice that if you attached a sound to an object you can also get that object's sound to play if it is either rejected or accepted.

18.  When you are all done with your activity click the "Identify" button to get it started.  When you are finished with your categorization activity make sure you hit "Reset All" so that you can start all over next hour or year.

If you have any other ideas or activities that you have created please don't hesitate to share using the comment section below.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Smartboard Notebook Trick: Use the screen shade to only show what you want your students to see.

I use the screen shade option a ton.  If you haven't given it a try, you should.  I like to give visual and oral quizzes to my students.  I use the screen shade so that we can all be on the same question at the same time.


1.  Just click on the "Screen Shate" button.

2.  Everything on your screen should now be behind the "Screen Shade."

3.  You should see 3 dots on your screen shade and a red "x".  The red "x" will reveal everything behind your shade.  The three dots are control handles that let you drag your screen shade down or left and right.

4.  I just drag the screen down revealing questions and answers as I go.  Give it a shot.