The Kirkwood Call

Q&A with Eric Zigler on the new laptops

Carter Philipp, opinions writer

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TKC talked to Eric Zigler, KHS tech specialist, about the new laptops and the problems students have with them. Here are the Tech Desks answers to the questions we had:

 

TKC: “Are you aware that people at KHS use extraneous methods to get around the web filter you guys have set?”

Zigler: “ We have to realize that we are dealing with technology in a high school, and of course everybody looks for ways to get around the web filter. We have all done stuff like that.”

TKC: “Why do we need web filters?”

Zigler: “A lot of students don’t understand the reason why we have these web restrictions in place. Specifically, when we talk about web filtering, or blocking access to various websites, we are actually required to that by law. The law says a public educational institution has to comply with CIPA, which stands for Children Internet Protection Act, and it requires us to block bad content on the internet. However, we also block websites that we don’t necessarily have to. Things like Facebook, and Spotify and Netflix are blocked. This is for two reasons:

One: If kids could stream music and video or pull photos, they would, which would very drastically slow the internet to a speed worse than it already is.

Two: From an educational standpoint, I don’t really think you should be listening to music during class. However, we as the tech department have talked about being a little more open about what you access when you are not on school property. We have been investigating, but it’s very technical, and there is a lot of work that goes into making something like that happen. It is not just as easy as saying yes.”

 

TKC: “What is the Red K on the top right of our laptop home screens?”

Zigler: “This Red K, which is just the Kirkwood logo, is a kiosk. The kiosk serves a couple purposes, but the most important is interacting with the MDM or Mobile Device Manager. A MDM is very common in schools and big companies. It allows us to do a number of things, but namely:

One: Remotely install updates to the laptops

Two: Remotely install software

One thing we have wanted to do with this is, say you are enrolled in an art class at KHS, and you need to have the Adobe Creative Suite installed on your computer. We can very easily say ‘Okay, all of these students are enrolled in the course, so they will receive the software.’ And we can have it specifically on those students computers. Software is expensive, and that’s why we can’t give the Adobe Creative Suite to everyone at KHS, I wish we could. But by having the MDM we could give it to the students that need it. So this Red K enrolls you in the MDM so you can get some of this software. Additionally, the Red K communicates with our system, telling us what is happening on your computer, if it is set up right, etc. We currently have a list of students that are not set up correctly, and we just have to call them to the tech desk so we can just set it up the way it should be.”

 

TKC: “What does KHS pay for in our download and upload speeds for WiFi?”

Zigler: “Based upon what I know, KHS has a contract with Charter, and they give us a download speed of 500 megabits per second, which is very decent. So I guess the question is, why is the internet so slow then? We have a piece of equipment called the core, which is a server, which routes the internet in through the fiber wire, but there are a few parts to that process before it gets into the school, it goes through a firewall, the web filtering system. These are physical pieces of hardware. We see some slowness, mainly from what we think is, one of the pieces of hardware malfunctioning. We have been actively going through and connecting these mistakes at each individual location.

 

TKC:  “Are you aware of the meme you have become?”

Zigler: “Yeah, I did not anticipate it taking off the way that it did. It got me some serious publicity. Now I walk down the halls and hear people say things like, ‘Hey Eric, how’s it going man?’ and I even had someone ask me to sign their laptop. Apparently I have a doppelganger in Steve from Blues Clues, I even thought, ‘Man, I should just throw on a green striped shirt and put my hair down and see what happens.’ And maybe my fans would be happy to know that we are planning on rolling out with a new set of videos on the tips and tricks of using the new Macbooks. So maybe on one of them I’ll put on a green sweater throw out some clues.

 

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