[Updated] Java Update & BCeSIS

Apple has released two updates that resolve some of the issues for BCeSIS compatibility for us as tested in two environments.

For OS X 10.6 they have released a system updated called Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 13.

For OS X 10.7 and 10.8  it is called Java for OS X 2013-001

I’ve tested them in OS X 10.6.8 and 10.7.5 and can confirm they work for the browsers I have running as listed below

OS X 10.7.5
Chrome  25.0.1364.84
Firefox 18.02
Safari 6.0.2

OS X 10.6.8
Firefox 12.0
Safari 5.1.7

These are supposed to resolve the Java/BCeSIS which they appear they have done as well as not be interfered with by new xprotect updates. Because of that we recommend that you turn back on the automatic updates. To do this follow the steps below

  1. Click on Apple > System Preferences
  2. Click on Security (or Security & Privacy) in the top row
  3. Unlock to make changes (bottom left) using your laptop password – you need to be an admin of the laptop which most staff are. Use your laptop password
  4. Click on Advanced button (bottom right)
  5. Check “Automatically update safe downloads list”

I recommend SD60 users run these updates.

If you have any difficulties please do not hesitate to call as at the helpdesk at 250-263-6442 or put in a work order ticket at helpdesk.prn.bc.ca

[Update - Feb 27, 2013]

We found that after the update it was beneficial to run the steps in Terminal at http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5559?viewlocale=en_US (view this link on Firefox or Safari, I suspect Apple has some evil mojo against Chrome browsers and won’t let them in, at least not mine). On some systems we found it was still needed to run BCeSIS on others it was needed so Elluminate/Blackboard Collaborate would work again.

Java Updates Dilemma

This meme was passed along to me, but I’m unsure of the original source. It does reference an important and difficult issue we are going to struggle with for the near future.

notojavaupdates

We are at a frustrating time where BCeSIS is requiring us to use an older version of Java, but other tools are requiring newer versions. This is affecting both Apple and Windows machines. Apple and OS X 10.6+ have caused issues due to blocking of the older version of Java needed for BCeSIS. We do have an imperfect resolution to this. Reports of a recent system update for 10.6 fixing the Java issue are good, but don’t help us for users with 10.7 and 10.8. We’ll be using BCeSIS for likely the next one to two school years so it will be an ongoing struggle.

Yesterday we were told a Ministry web tool may have required a newer version of Java to run. We aren’t sure yet if that was Java asking for an update, or the Ministry tool requiring it.

So at this point, follow the meme’s advice. Don’t update Java, or run system updates that reference Java on Windows or Macs (with the exception of OS X 10.6 if Java isn’t currently working). This does create a vulnerability due to older versions of Java. Avoid the “risky click” where you are on an unknown website, or following links to places you aren’t sure about.

If something is not working, give us a call at the helpdesk at 250-263-6442 or put in a ticket at helpdesk.prn.bc.ca and we will help you out as soon as possible.

Java Issues for OS X 10.6+ affecting BCeSIS [UPDATED]

Yesterday Apple released a malware definition that set a specific version of java to be allowed to run on OS X 10.6+. Unfortunately this definition precludes us from using BCeSIS as it requires an older version of Java on OS X. This update happens in the background with no user intervention. It is not part of the Software Updates. The reason for this is that the older versions of Java have security vulnerabilities that are often exploited by malicious websites or websites that have been compromised. A good way to avoid those websites is not to use the web… or more realistically don’t go to sketchy websites, follow unknown links etc.

We can’t update the version of Java as BCeSIS sadly requires an older version on OS X to run.

Our initial solution to remove this definition that is blocking our version of Java is as follows:

  • If you aren’t confident in doing the below steps or have difficulty, please call the helpdesk (250-263-6442) and we can do it remotely if your computer is on and Remote Desktop Management is turned on
  • Quit Browsers (ie Quit and restart, don’t just close windows!)
  • Open the Terminal application / Search for Terminal and run the application
  • copy and paste all the bold text below in terminal at the prompt
    sudo defaults delete /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/XProtect.meta JavaWebComponentVersionMinimum

    EDIT – I had missed a slash above but it is now correct.

  • Press Enter/Return on your keyboard
  • Enter your password for your computer
  • Assuming you’ve entered the command correctly and no errors come up, quit Terminal
  • Restart any Browsers
  • Test and see if you are able to get to the BCeSIS login screen or other Java related programs/services

A significant question with this fix is whether or not the definition will return on the next malware update or not. We are monitoring this and will adapt the fix if needed.

Feb 1 Edit – An Apple Engineer has said that the definition will likely return on the next update so to avoid doing this again you will need to turn off the automatic definitions update. This may leave your computer vulnerable in the future. This takes a few steps which I’ve listed below:

  1. Click on Apple > System Preferences
  2. Click on Security (or Security & Privacy) in the top row
  3. Unlock to make changes (bottom left) using your laptop password – you need to be an admin of the laptop which most staff are. Use your laptop password
  4. Click on Advanced button (bottom right)
  5. Uncheck “Automatically update safe downloads list”

If there were a large scale sweeping OS X attack of some kind reminiscent of the Blaster worm we will suggest that you turn the Automatic update back on even though that will likely mean we will have java problems in the future. Keeping the older version of Java active on the macs will also mean that your computer is vulnerable especially if you are going to websites that are unknown or following unknown links.

We are looking at some options for a separate browser application to run Java for BCeSIS and disable Java in other browsers. 

If these instructions does not work for you, try a restart on your computer and don’t hesitate to call the helpdesk at 250-263-6442.

Further to this there was another issue last year with Java that had the following solution - http://www.prn.bc.ca/ts/?p=1696

Thanks to the many technical staff from our and other SDs who worked to come up with this solution.

How to re-enable Java for BCeSIS and OS X 10.7, 10.8

Many teachers with personally owned Mac computers have newer operating systems than the  district owned computers. These newer operating systems have had a recent update which removes the Apple version of Java completely from the machine. Often people will resort to adding the Oracle version of Java (version 7 or something) to try and get BCeSIS to work again. The Oracle version on the Mac will not work unfortunately. Here are some steps for you to fix this yourself. Technology Services is unable to provide support to personally owned devices other than through some advice via this post for example. Please note that if this does not work as intended we can’t be held responsible for changes you make to your personal device. UPDATE: If you are comfortable running terminal try the following first and then try BCeSIS - http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5559 – if that doesn’t do the trick follow through below.

How can you tell if you’ve run the update

Option 1 – Click on the Apple in the top left hand side > Click on Software Updates > in the menu bar click on Software Update > Click on Preferences > Click on the Installed Software Tab > look for Java for OS X 2012-006. If you can see this you’ll have to go through the steps below.

Option 2 – click on the magnifying glass in the top right and search for Java Preferences. If there is no application called Java Preferences you’ve likely run the update.

*If Java Preferences is there then check out this post and video for a possible fix if you are getting a blank screen when accessing BCeSIS - http://www.prn.bc.ca/ts/?p=1649 . Also do not install the Java for OS X 2012-006 Software Update!*

If you have installed the Oracle Java you will need to remove it

Two easy ways to do this are listed at http://www.java.com/en/download/help/mac_uninstall_java.xml 

Reinstall the old version of Java

This does take a little bit of doing and if you aren’t familiar with copying and pasting folders and navigating folders you might want to ask a skilled colleague or friend to help.

You’ll need to restore the old Java folder as well as the Java Preferences application. Here are the steps

  1. download this zip file - Java Rollback
  2. open up the zip file – this will show you a folder called Java and an application called Java Preferences
  3. Copy or move the Java Preferences application into /Applications/Utilities/ (see step 4)
  4. Open your Macintosh HD drive > Open the Applications folder > Open Utilities Folder > move or paste in the Java Preferences application
  5. Go back to the Java folder from the zip file and copy/move it to /System/Library/ *make certain not to add it to another folder in /System/Library/ (see step 6)
  6. Open your Macintosh HD drive > Open the System folder > Open Library Folder > move or paste in the Java folder making sure not to add it into another folder already there. It’s path should be /System/Library/Java/
  7. Go back and run the Java Preferences application that you put in /Applications/Utilities/ and make certain that it looks like the picture below. If it doesn’t you can drag and drop the 32bit or 64bit line so they are in the right place (32 on top) and check on the Enable applet plug-in and Web Start applications. These are the steps from the video at http://www.prn.bc.ca/ts/?p=1649

This procedure has worked in 99% of cases. In one case I had to run the /System/Library/Frameworks/JavaVM.framework/Commands/javaws script by navigating to it and double clicking on it before it actually was able to work. This is essentially step 5 from the following Knowledge Base article at http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5559

Hope this helps!

Student Information System feedback

As part of my role on the executive steering committee for the next student information system in BC I would ask that you look at the draft requirements that are now available on the BC Education Plan website. Individuals are invited to provide comments

Requirements documents and a feedback form were posted on the Education Plan website (www.bcedplan.ca/actions/technology.php) on October 22. All responses are anonymous and must be received by Friday, November 16, 2012. All feedback is being reviewed by the project team and where appropriate will be incorporated into the requirements in the RFP.

Blank Screen in BCeSIS on Mac OS X 10.6 and up?

We’ve seen several blank screen issues for BCeSIS on Mac OS X 10.6 and up. This usually is a java issue.

Steps to resolve it

  • Remove any java application from Oracle
  • Run system updates to load latest Java / Security patches from Apple
  • See the video below for the next four bullets
  • In Java Preferences make sure the 32 bit application is at the top of the list and the 64 bit is at the bottom of the list (drag and drop)
  • Enable the Web Start checkbox
  • Restart any browsers
  • Allow any warnings you get when trying to log in to BCeSIS

BCeSIS notes…

BCeSIS Scheduled Outage: March 5 @ 5pm PST until March 9th @ 5pm PST.
As noted on the www.isw-bc.ca will be a scheduled outage during the Provincial spring break which does not coincide with our spring break.
You need to be logged off before the beginning of the outage as work entered may be lost if you are still logged in.
We have of course voiced complaint regarding this time along with other districts who do not follow the Provincial spring break.

Correct Website for BCeSIS
I’ve noticed while working with several people that they do an internet search for BCeSIS and click on a link which takes them directly to the log in screen.
This is not the correct way to access BCeSIS. Staff should always access the database through www.isw-bc.ca as there are critically important messages regarding planned or emergent outages that must be read.
There is also a link to BCeSIS on our district website which takes you to the ISW.

BCeSIS Suggestions and Comments

I received and exciting email from the Service Management Council for BCeSIS that is asking for open feedback from teachers on BCeSIS.

“We are asking each SMC representative in every district in the province to encourage teachers to send in suggestions and comments on BCeSIS to their SMC rep. Please compile these responses and send them on to the Executive.”

So here is the place to add suggestions and comments regarding BCeSIS…

I’ll start below. Use the comment feature to add your thoughts!

BCeSIS elementary reporting survey 2

Here is the second survey for the elementary reporting pilots in BCeSIS.

With SADE coming down the pipe for Ministry reporting I’m glad to see that the BCeSIS is an acceptable tool for reporting. Certainly some issues but if 68% of staff feel it is better than other systems, 12% neutral, 20% negative, I’m inclined to listen. I’ve included all the comments and results in the survey.

Survey 2

One issue that is still coming up is the upside down question marks. This is because teachers are copying from word with special characters into BCeSIS and it does not understand those characters. Yes I know those characters aren’t really special, usually quotation marks, but Word does something to them to change them into “smartquotes”… The solution for this is simply to copy and paste comments from word into a text editor like notepad or textedit. Then copy and paste them again into BCeSIS. Voila!

A strong motivation for using BCeSIS will be the upcoming requirement for SADE (student achievement and data exchange). This will eventually replace TRAX and is required of the schools. Without a system to properly collect and export the marks into the Ministry’s DX2 system it will become a nightmare for teachers, clerical, and administration staff to report. BCeSIS makes that part simple.

SADE is currently required in 8-12 schools. For us it was a relatively easy process compared to other districts who are not using BCeSIS for reporting.

Elementary Report Card Pilot Surveys

Here are the surveys for the BCESIS Report Card Pilot. Please complete the appropriate one.

Staff Survey
http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/114553/bcesis-elementary-report-cards-survey

Robert Ogilvie Parent Survey
http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/115085/parent-report-card-survey-robert-ogilvie

Ecole Central Parent Survey
http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/117621/parent-report-card-survey-ecole-central

Duncan Cran Parent Survey
http://www.surveygizmo.com/s/117623/parent-report-card-survey-duncan-cran

Thank you!

SADE

Student Achievement Data Extract

Elluminate recording: https://sas.elluminate.com/mr.jnlp?suid=M.FC9CDE826C371A1EC4613B02FE2233

Notes from BCeSIS Learning Event

  • All 8-12 schools to report
  • does not replace TRAX, just reporting on achievement data
  • 4 times per year, districts can control own submission and release time
  • 31 day submission window to submit data
  • separate extract file for each school
  • 1.create extract, 2 generate SADE report to verify extract, 3. Exception report is generated to identify potential errors 4. errors must be corrected in BCeSIS, 5. re-run if necessary 6. data is loaded into DX2, no errors or it will be rejected
  • April submission will be Jul 1 2008 to Dec 31 2008 and Jan 1 2009 to March 31 2009. Normally 3 months.
  • Facility types included in SADE… ST (standard School), DL (Distance Learning), DS (Distributed Learning Program) School Details > Click on Right Arrow to check
  • Reports > 15 > BC SADE Data Extract
  • Must be run within 31 days after reporting period (April 1-30)
  • Must have final marks with completion date to avoid errors
  • Message type on error reporting… E: Error (report will not load into DX2)    W: Warning
  • If there are persistent errors we can remove them from the extract as this is “phase 1″ of SADE

BCeSIS Change Password

Please make certain to change your password for BCeSIS before any extended break. Your password must be 8-14 characters long, must contain a $ # or _ and must start with a letter.

Check the prompt at the end carefully, it should say that your password has been successfully changed.

Log out and log in again with your new password after you have changed it.

Here is a video on how to do this in Teacher Assistant.

Here is a video on how to do this on the admin side of BCeSIS

BCeSIS Change Password (Clerical and Admin)

BCeSIS notes for Oct 16, 2008

Marks and Comments
I’ve created some videos on doing marks and comments in BCeSIS. These are a general overview and may be a little different from school to school. They are available on the district moodle site in the BCeSIS course under Learning Objects or directly at the link below

http://www.district.prn.bc.ca:16080/course/view.php?id=23

Safari
For those of us using macs we’ve been telling you not to use safari. The reason for this is that it doesn’t create reports properly in the admin side. I tried it yesterday with a sample teacher account and it worked fine. If teachers are frustrated with speed issues in Firefox, ask them to try Safari (I’ve noticed it is much faster to log in), and get them to check if reports work under it. If that works then go for it!
Sorry to the admins and clerical though since it only prints reports properly in OS 10.5+ that I’ve seen so far. Thanks Kathy and Ray for your help with this.

**Note: we are trying Safari with the newest version of Adobe Acrobat to see if it will work on the admin side **

Attendance
Most elementary schools run kid check which requires teachers to get their attendance done very quickly at the start of the day. Secondary schools are not running that as far as I know and we do not have a setting that locks teachers out of attendance after 15 minutes into a class. Teachers are able to go back two days (truly 48 hours) and change or enter attendance. While I would encourage prompt attendance, if you or your teachers are having difficulty entering attendance at the start of your class I suggest the following:

Print of the class roster in BCeSIS > set up the headings for the days of the week > take attendance on paper with a clipboard > transfer it to BCeSIS as you have time in your class or in your day. This way you have a hard copy of attendance if you need to evacuate the school for some reason. Thanks to several teachers who passed this along, specifically Mr. Clark over at NPSS and Mr. Haley at BB. Let us adapt rather than let ourselves be frustrated!

Speed
Running of other web applications like streaming music, downloading videos etc will likely cause a slowdown on your computer for BCeSIS. Also if you have students in the school using their own personal laptops or the wwp laptops, make sure you talk to them and let them know that streaming music and downloading non educational content are not acceptable. High bandwidth flash games and general web browsing that is not school related (and not allowed under the Acceptable Use Agreement) will also add to slow downs in your school. Responsible use online will help the bandwidth issues at schools.

Speaking of bandwidth… Bert Bowes and Dr. Kearney are scheduled to be upgraded to the same connection speed as the board office and NPSS (10MB) by February 09 I was told yesterday. Prespatou and Upper Pine are scheduled to be completed in November of this year. We’ve put Hudson’s Hope and Clearview on the list for next year. I’m also told that PLNet is committed to upgrading all of our schools to 10MB by 2010 which sounds pretty ambitious.