Archive for the ‘Google Apps’ Category

Booking Resources for Google Calendar Events

September 19, 2014

A resource is simply another shared calendar used to coordinate the sharing of a real object or space. For example the computer labs, the presentation cart or a bus. These are things that have to be shared between everyone and can only be used by one person (or class) at a time.

To book a resource along with your calendar event follow these very simple steps:

  1. Create a new event in your calendar
  2. Fill in all the useful information, like time/date and title and description
  3. On the right side of the new event page there is a section about adding people/rooms
  4. Click on the Rooms, etc.  link and you’ll see a list of all the available rooms – click add for the resource you’d like
  5. Make sure you click Save at the top to write the event to your calendar and the resource calendar

If the resource you’d like isn’t listed, that means it is already booked for that time. You can add resource calendars to your calendar view so you can see when they’re already booked at a quick glance. To add resource calendars to your calendar view follow the steps in this blog post: Viewing Resource Calendars to Schedule Meetings

 

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Viewing Resource Calendars to Schedule Meetings

September 4, 2014

If you plan on scheduling meetings in a particular shared space or want to bring your class to a space like the computer lab or library, you’re going to need to book those resources using your Google calendar.

You could always just schedule your event and add the resource praying that it’s available at the time you need, but you’re probably going to want to look at the resource calendar to see when it’s already booked. In order to do that you need to add the resource to your list of calendars.

  1. View your calendar by clicking on the Apps dots and selecting calendar
  2. Click on the down arrow next to Other Calendars on the left side and select Browse Interesting Calendars
  3. Click on the More tab and then on Resources for harleyschool.org
  4. Click on subscribe for the calendars you want to view and then click Back to calendar when you’re finished

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Once completed, the subscribed resource calendars show up under your Other calendars section and will be overlaid on top of any other calendars you have. You will be able to easily see when the room is available to book for your classes and events.

 

Gmail as Default Mail Program

August 19, 2014

Sometimes it can be handy to simply click on hyper-linked email addresses and mailto: tags on websites and other applications and have it open your email with a new message already addressed.  If you use Web-based email like Google Apps or Yahoo this can be tricky to get working.

If you use Chrome as your browser with Google Apps you can simply click on the double diamond icon in the address bar and select Use The Harley School Mail and then Done.

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Check your Google Calendar Time Zone

August 15, 2014

A couple of people have mentioned time problems with their calendars. When working with other users calendars, events were showing up a few hours later than they should have. This came back to an incorrect time zone setting on the calendar. I did set the default time zone to GMT-5 (Eastern Standard) when I setup our company profile, but for some reason these users were set to GMT+00. Maybe this setting was taken from their Outlook profile when it was migrated, I’m not sure.  So please take a second to check the time zone on your calendar to avoid confusion and missed appointments.

Checking the zone

  1. Click on the Apps dots and select Calendar from the menu if you’re not already viewing your calendar
  2. Click the down arrow next to your calendar in the My Calendars section
  3. Click on Calendar Settings from the context menu
  4. Scroll down until you see Calendar Time Zone and make sure it says (GMT-5:00) Eastern Time
  5. If it does not, click on the Set my time zone link to the right.
  6. Select the correct zone from the drop-down list and click Save
  7. If the zone needed to be changed, check any events you added to make sure they’re now at the correct time.

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A Successful Google Apps Migration

August 13, 2014

Well, it’s official, after a months of planning and implementing, Harley officially moved from Exchange Server 2003 to Google Apps for Education.

I chose to do the final switch on a Monday morning (August 11) so I could be there to help people and put out any fires the sprung up. I was totally amazed at the lack of an angry mob banging on my office door. I did my best to warn people and prepare them as best I could and I guess it worked pretty well.

I took care of just about everything myself. The users had only one thing to do: change their passwords. Google has password synching software to keep Active Directory passwords and Google Apps passwords the same. The problem is the software can’t get the current Active Directory password; it can only get the password during a password-change operation. So everyone needed to change their password in order to login to their Google account after the switch. I gave people a little over one month notice with a bunch of emails and even a snail-mail sheet in the back-to-school mailing. Obviously there are people who didn’t do it or waited too long, I was expecting that. I can’t wait to see how many people attack me on the first day of school saying they can’t access their email.

I migrated all user data a few times to break it up into manageable chunks. I did the initial migration in early July. Google imposes a 1 message per second per user throttle when migrating data. I would imagine this is to keep migrations from impacting current customers. A few users had a huge amount of messages and I was actually the biggest offender of all with over 150,000 messages in my mailbox. I have mail back to 2002. Do the math, that’s almost 2 days just to migrate my mailbox alone! And that’s as fast as it can possibly go, it’ll go slower with big attachments. I did the migration again a few weeks before the switch and then again just after the switch to ensure I had everything. The last one took only a few minutes since most of the data had already been migrated. I told people a head of time that we would switch and then I’d finish migrating data, this way they wouldn’t freak out if they noticed missing messages or calendar events. But it wasn’t really a problem since everything was switched over, working and migrated by 7:30am on Monday morning.

A few days before the switch I lowered the time-to-live (TTL) on the DNS records that were going to change to 2 minutes. This way I could make the switch and literally 2 minutes later it would be working. Most importantly this allowed me to change it back if something went wrong with only 2 minutes of propagation time. Most DNS system default to 1 full day. Once I was sure everything was working as it should I raised up the TTL again.

People are still getting used to this and how to do certain things, but for the most part I couldn’t be happier with how this worked out. What I’m most thrilled about is being able to retire my ancient Exchange Server without spending a dime.

Google Apps Tip #1: Button Icons or Text

August 11, 2014

Something that might help with the transition to using Gmail is changing the button labels from icons to text. Personally I think using text makes the interface look a little cleaner and less cluttered, but I’m sure some would disagree with me.

If you forget what an icon means you can always hover your mouse pointer over the button and you’ll see a tool-tip saying what it does.

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In order to make this change simply click on the gear, then Settings. Scroll down to Button labels and select the form you want. Don’t forget to scroll all the way down and click Save Changes.

Updating Android Devices for Google Apps

August 7, 2014

Because there are so many different version of Android compiled and customized by so many different manufacturers, it’s impossible for me to make a bulletproof guide with screenshots. These steps are just to nudge you in the right direction. Your device will most likely look different than the screenshots. The screens were taken on a Motorola Droid Razr.

In order to switch from your old Harley mail to your new Google Apps account on your Android device (phone, tablet, whatever), you’ll need to first remove the current account and then setup a new one. If you’ve never had your Harley mail on your device you can skip down to the add account instructions below.

Removing Harley Accounts

Remember, this is just to give you the general idea, item locations and names might be different on your device.

  1. First view all your apps by hitting the button with the 9 dots
  2. Tap on Settings
  3. Scroll down to the accounts section and tap Corporate or Exchange
  4. Tap on the Harley account (probably shows as your Harley email address)
  5. Hit the menu button and select Remove account from the popup menu
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Adding your Google Apps Account

Remember, this is just to give you the general idea, item locations and names might be different on your device.

  1. Tap on Settings
  2. Scroll down to the Accounts section and tap Add account
  3. Select Corporate or Exchange, ***NOT Google or Gmail***. This doesn’t make much sense but trust me on this.
  4. Enter your email address and password and tap Next.
  5. You should be presented with more options. Type your email address as the username, enter your password and enter the server as m.google.com. Make sure Use SSL is selected.
  6. Next select all your sync options and you’re all set.

Data from your mailbox will slowly start showing up. It might take an hour or so for everything to appear.

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If you setup your Google Apps account as a corporate or Exchange account on the device, it should look and act identical to your old Harley account.

Updating iOS Devices for Google Apps

August 6, 2014

So you already have your Harley email setup on your iPhone or iPad, right? When we switch to Google Apps you will need to update your device to talk to Google’s servers rather than Harley’s.

Removing the Existing Profile

Assuming you setup your iOS device using our mobileconfig generator, you simply need to remove the profile and recreate it. To remove the profile touch Settings General ➡ Profile – iPad Setup Config and tap the red Remove button.

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This won’t delete any of your data from your mailbox, only from the device.

If there is no profile there, you either didn’t setup your email or did it manually. To remove a manual setup, click on Settings Mail, Contacts Calendars and select the account. Then there should be a delete button there somewhere.

Adding the New Profile

Once you’ve completed these steps you can go to our updated mobileconfig site to setup the new profile: http://hrly.sl/ios

Set your Default Calendar

Once you’re setup remember to set your Harley calendar as the default. If you don’t and aren’t paying close attention when you create calendar events, they will only reside on the device and not sync to your mailbox. Tap Settings  ➡ Mail, Contacts, Calendars  ➡ Default Calendar and tap your Harley calendar. Depending on how many personal email accounts you have, there may be many calendars to choose from.

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Add the Google Drive App

You also might want to consider installing the Google Drive app for your Apple device. Once connected you can then view and edit all your Drive documents from anywhere:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google-drive-free-online-storage/id507874739?mt=8

Password Change Required

August 5, 2014

In order to access your new Harley Gmail account you need to change your password. New passwords must be 8 characters or more. They can be any combination of letters (upper or lowercase), numbers and symbols. Even if your current password is already 8 or more characters you still need to go through the motion of changing the password so the synchronization software running at school will see the new password and set it on Google’s end too. If you want to keep your current password just change it to something temporary and then change it back.

If you’re in school on your office/classroom computer you can simply hit ctrl+alt+del on the keyboard and select “Change a password…” from the menu that appears. Fill in the new password twice and you should be all set.

If you’re at home or somewhere away from school you can change your password through our webmail site Outlook Web Access:

  1. Go to https://webmail.harleyschool.org and login with your current username and password.
  2. Select “Options” from the menu on the lower left side of the page:
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  3. Scroll down and select the “Change Password” button second from the bottom:
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  4. Fill in the information. “Account” is your username (the part to the left of the @ in your email address), then your current password and then the new 8 or more character password twice. Then hit “OK” and you should see a message about a successful password change.
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Once the switch has taken place our old webmail site will be unavailable, so you should really change your password a head of time. You can always change it from within school at any time.

Going Google

August 5, 2014

Our aging email system has been a thorn in my side for a very long time. This summer it finally got to the point where something had to be done. The latest version of Microsoft Outlook included with Office 2013 is incompatible with the version of Exchange Server we are currently running. This left us with 2 options: upgrade Exchange or move to a totally different solution.

I’m a huge fan of Exchange as far as functionality, but upgrading would require new hardware, licensing and time. And we’d still end up in the same spot in a few years.

We decided to move to Google Apps for Education. This will fix our disk space issues as users each get 30GB of space. It will fix the time/manpower issue as it’s hosted by Google and not internally. It fixes the hardware/cost issue because it’s free.

I’m very excited for this switch to happen. I know people will freak out and not want to give up their precious Outlook, but in the end it’s best for everyone.

(This is sort of old news, as this was decided in the early summer, but I figured as I’ll be posting other GAFE info it’s good to have the back-story.)