Monthly Archives: January 2013

Intro to Google Docs Training

The IT crew at Asian Hope are quite fond of Google Docs.  Quite fond indeed.

There are so many reasons for us to be excited over this… free, online storage, so many functions, and very easy to use.  Google has so many help documents out there and they have done a pretty amazing job with them.  There are also some fun videos out there to help you get ideas on how to use Google in your daily life and in your classroom.   One such video is this one:

Did you know that we have done a training on Google Docs already?  If you weren’t able to attend or if you want to refresh your memory, check out the training here.


DNS Woes

While much of this blog will be of use to AH employees – I, personally, have greatly benefited from reading tips and tricks from various blogs around the Internet. Sometimes people have the exact same problems I do, and I get to benefit from their solution!

I’d like to make sure some of my solutions can be of benefit to others, so I’ve created this ‘technobabble’ category. Feel free to ignore unless you’re really, really interested in the nitty-gritty of AHIT.

We recently changed ISPs across a number of sites. While I had been testing them at a couple of our sites over the course of the year, I didn’t check up well before rolling out this larger change. As a result, we found that this ISP had started using a transparent proxy. Unfortunately this meant that OpenDNS stopped functioning, leaving lots and lots of undesirable things accessible from our campuses.

We successfully mounted an application to be removed from the transparent proxy. Under normal circumstances, this would solve our problems – but it looks like beyond just the proxy, DNS requests are being rerouted.

Not, however, in a opaque and easy to detect way. It seems as though common DNS servers are being rerouted through a transparent DNS proxy… but requests that would fail otherwise, still fail.

The upshot is I’ve created an offsite DNS server that simply grabs results from OpenDNS directly through another ISP. With caching enabled on-site, I suspect that performance will be acceptable. The upside to this approach is that, once you’ve got BIND configured, it’s incredibly easy to deploy. No need to worry about Dynamic IPs or OpenDNS’ updater. You plug in your private DNS server and it ‘just works’.

The downside to this approach is that I won’t have the fine-grained control that OpenDNS provides in its native implementation. Sites are blocked everywhere, or nowhere. Worse still, I don’t have the reporting that lets me know when something nefarious is happening at a single site.

We’re still working with the ISP to figure out what’s going on, but this solution does solve our immediate need.

Some handy tools for diagnosing DNS problems:

  • namebench - benchmarks DNS servers, automatically detects redirects

  • DNS Leak Test - lets you see where your DNS queries are being resolved

Google Calendar Training

It’s been a bit since we did the Google Calendar training at LIS so I thought I would post a link to the documentation in case you wanted a refresher.

Would you like some tips on how your calendar can boost your efficiency??

  • has an article that gives you 5 tips and tricks for power users including how to hide times of the day (like the times you are sleeping)… which I totally did after reading this article.
  •  has 10 tips and tricks including how access your calendar offline.
  • ProfHack gives you a way to create your syllabus with a Spreadsheet and the Calendar app (complete with pictures).