About Pete

Pete is the Director of Information Technology at Mattawan Consolidated Schools in Mattawan, Michigan.

Google Email Problems

Yesterday morning individuals began reporting that they were not able to access their MCS gmail account. They had received an error stating that their account was deactivated or that their password needed to be changed. The cause of this problem was a synchronization process that we run on a regular basis to keep your MCS network login ID/password in sync with your Google Apps account login information.

If you have been effected by this problem, (which is why you are probably reading this), please read through to the end before doing anything. There is important information you need to know before you go through this short exercise

The root cause of the problem has been identified and a fix has been put in place. The solution at this time, for those individuals not being able to access their Google Apps account is simply to change their password on their Macbook and wait 15 minutes. The sync process is currently running every 15 minutes to expedite the account sync process and fix those account logins that have been corrupted.

System Prefs Menu

System Prefs Menu

In order to change your Macbook password , first select the “System Preferences” menu item from the Apple menu.

The System preferences application wil run and you will be present with a host of icons to choose from. Click on the  Users & Groups icon, and you will see your computer account. Make sure that under your account name it says “Mobile User”, in the spot where my account says “Admin”. If it does not say “Mobile User”, you can stop right here and bring your laptop to your BTL, As this fix is not going to help your problem.

Now select your account, then click on the change password button and follow the instructions in the change password pop-up dialog.

Apple User Account

Apple User Account

Changing your password in this way will change any service accounts associated with your network login. The following accounts are affected by the password change:

  • Schoolwires
  • Google Apps
  • Apple Wiki
  • WordPress Blogs
  • Helpdesk
  • Destiny

This now means that all your logins for those services have now been changed. Please note that the Google Apps sync usually runs once per day, in the evening, so future password changes will only be applied at that time. As of the time I am writing this, the sync is running every 15 minutes until we get everyone’s account working properly that has had a problem. All of the other accounts are changed immediately.

This issue has not effected any student accounts that we know of, but that does not mean that they are all good. If you know of a student having this problem, having them change their password on a Windows computer in a lab will accomplish the same thing.

Important: change your password ON YOUR OWN LAPTOP!! If you change your password using someone else’s laptop, when you go to log into your laptop you will receive a message about your keychain password being wrong. Handled correctly this is easy to fix, but beyond the scope of this post.





New Directory Services

MCS is currently in the process of migrating it’s directory services from Apple’s Open Directory to Microsoft Active Directory.

First it is important for you to know that this transition was not able to be finished until everyone had returned to school. The reason it had to wait is because it requires each of you to actively participate in this process. (There are some things that just can not be automated – aren’t you glad for that?)

Without going into great detail, everyone has an account right now in both the old directory service (Open Directory) and the NEW (Active Directory). Many of the network services we provide have already been transitioned and are being controlled by the new directory service but as of the date of this post most of you are logged in using the old directory service. The Directory Service is like a customs agent. It checks your passport and credentials before allowing you in. You visit this border crossing every time you log into the network here at school.

In order for you to prepare to use the new directory service, there is one thing you must do. Below outlines the procedure for enabling your directory account so that when we transition your computer to the new domain everything will move smoothly, including the data that you have currently stored on your laptop.

Change your account password in the new domain (Directory Service)

Right now website filtering and using copy machine access are controller by the new directory service. This means that everyone needs to update/enable their new accounts so that they are working properly. This is not as scary as it sounds. To update your account in the new service you simply need to go to any DELL computer and log in:

XP Logon Window

XP Logon Window

  1. In the user name box type in your normal account name (i.e.: ppoggione)
  2. In the password box type the word “change me!” (all lower case and no quotes please and don’t forget the exclamation point)
  3. From the Log on to drop down box, make sure that mattawanschools is selected.
  4. Click OK, and the system will automatically prompt you to change your password.
 XP change password dialog

XP change password dialog

be aware that when you change your password, in the “old password” field put in your old password, which for this is “change me!” For your new password enter what you are currently using for your Macbook. After you change the password you can log off the Dell. We don’t need to use the Dell anymore.  Incidentally, this is a “one-time” thing that needs to be done during the service migration. This is NOT how you will manage your account passwords in the future.

**IMPORTANT NOTE** Your new password MUST be 5 characters long at a minimum. if the password you use on your Macbook is not at least 5 characters long, you will need to create a new one. Then simply go back and change your Macbook password to match it. You do not have to have the passwords the same, but doing this will make the rest of the migration easier. (more on that in a later post)

Tell the web filtering server who you are

in order for Web filtering to work properly you will need to authenticate (from your macbook) to a different server (Alexander is no longer the directory server). You need to connect to ad1.mattawanschools.org.  To do that, when you are in the Finder (click anywhere on your laptop’s desktop and you will be in the “Finder“) Select “Connect To Server” from the “Go” menu (or press Command-K)

Apple Finder: Connect to Server

Apple Finder: Connect to Server

Note that you are connecting via the smb protocol, so it is important that you enter the information as shown in the image. When you are prompted for a username and password, enter your information and be sure to check the box that says “store this information in my keychain”, then you won’t be prompted for username and password again)

After this you will be able to access Facebook, YouTube and webmail services.

Accessing/Using Copiers

Now that you have enabled your new domain account, you can use your username and password at the copy machines to make copies as well.

Going Forward

Later this week, we will be pushing out an automated script that will transition your laptop to the new domain as well. Once this is done you should not have to manually connect to AD1 (for web filtering) unless your network logon has been disconnected (i.e. taking your laptop home).

This inconvenience was not avoidable and I appreciate your efforts in trying to get this done as soon as possible.


“Always remember that a workaround is not a solution!”


Goodbye Novell!

About this time last year we were finalizing the migration from the old Novell file servers to the new Apple X-Servs as well as in the middle of preparing an email migration from Groupwise to Google Apps.  I don’t really expect anyone to remember, but at that time it was explained to everyone that we were going to be keeping both the old Novell data as well as the old Groupwise email server (and it’s email) up and running for another year.  Let’s talk about each of these individually for a second.


We have been keeping the old email server alive for the past year and it has been accessible via the Groupwise Web Interface.  (Remember that the webmail server is only accessible from campus. You can no longer access it from home). We have kept it going so that you can log into the web email and forward anything that you want to keep to you Gmail Account.  If you want more details on this, look at the old post from back in June of last year.  Now that our Novell licensing has expired we are required to turn this server off and remove all Novell owned software.  This will happen on June 17.  If you still have things on the old mail server that you need please take the time to take care of that prior to the 17th.

Old Novell Data

Last year we archived all of the data form our Novell file servers to our Apple X-Serv environment.  It has been living on Lobo in the Staff->NovellData folder.  If you connect to Lobo (Select Go->Connect To Server from the Finder menu on your Mac

Connect to server

then simply type in “lobo” into the connect to server dialog and click connect.)

Connecting to Lobo

Once connected you will be prompted for the file share to open, choose “Staff”.  Double click on the “NovellData” folder, and you will see folders that represent the old H:, I:, P: and S: drives. You will find your old H: drive in a folder with your name on it in the H-Drive folder. The other drives are exactly what you think they are.










Please do not try to copy the entire contents (except perhaps your H: drive if you haven’t already) to your laptop! This folders contain the entire contents of the old Novell network file servers!

If you are reading this and are confused, asking yourself, “but, I’ve been working in the NovellData folder all year?” STOP! You should not be doing that.  The building secretaries have been working all year moving selected files from the old novell data area to the new Building and Department folders in the Staff area.

Makeup of the "New" Staff network share

Like the Groupwise email server, the “NovellData” folder will be removed from Lobo on June 17th at noon.  This single folder takes up the lion’s share of all the file storage space on our server. We will be archiving this old data when we remove it form the server and storing it off-site for the requisite 7 years required by law.

Hopefully this helps demystify some of these issues.  As usual if you have questions feel free to email me. ~P

Google Apps Email Migration

(The following is a copy of a post originally published to the MCS Technology Wiki/Blog site on June 10, 2010)

We are beginning the migration of our email and calendar systems from Groupwise to Google Apps. Please read this entire post, or bookmark it for later reference. You will need this information as we transition to Google Apps for Education. With Google Apps, we’ll gain the benefits of a robust and innovative feature set — including the ability to access email and calendar services from any computer — as well as lower infrastructure and support costs.

What Will Happen

On June 16, we’ll turn off delivery of your email to your Groupwise account and turn on your new Google Apps account. At that time, all your new email messages will be delivered to your Google Apps account and any new calendar events to which you’re invited will appear on your Google Calendar.

Important: Existing email messages, calendar events, and personal contacts in Groupwise will not appear in your Google Apps account. However, if you wish, you can make arrangements with the Technology Department to have your email migrated to your Google Apps email for you. Simply send an email to support@mattawanschools.org with the subject line: Please convert my email, and we will put you in a queue to have your email converted. Before you make a request to have your email converted, please read the section About Converted Email. We will not convert your email unless you make this request.

We will not be converting your Address Books/Contacts for you. Instructions on converting your contacts is provided later in this email.

About Converted Email

Email conversion is a lengthy process due to the amount of email that individual users have in their mail accounts. Personally, I do not recommend that you convert any of your mail, but if you choose to, it is necessary that you properly prepare your email account for conversion. To prepare your email for conversion please do the following:

1. Remove all nested folders.

The conversion process will not handle nested folders. (ie: having “folder2” inside of “folder1”). You will need to move all of your folders so that they are at the same level in your inbox. Folders not present in your inbox will not get converted.

2. Remove special characters and spaces from folder names.

If you have characters such as “/” or “&” (any non-alpha character other than “_”) in a folder name, that folder will not covert and will be skipped. This is the way the conversion routine works and has nothing to do with us. Make sure that you either remove all spaces from folder names or replace them with “_” as well.

3. The Sent Items folder will not convert.

The conversion utility does not convert your sent items folder. If you want to convert your sent items, create a folder in your inbox called Old_Sent_Items and copy the contents of your sent items folder to it.

4. Clean out all personal email.

Go through your folders and remove any personal emails that are not a matter of public record or that you need to retain to do your job.

5. Remove duplicate file attachments.

Please make an effort to copy attachments that are in emails out of the email and into your H: drive, then delete the email. if you must keep the attachment with the email, please only keep the latest email and remove all other portions of the email thread that contain duplicate copies of the attachment.

Following these 5 steps will greatly decrease the amount of time needed to convert email and will insure that you start out with a clean, easy to manage set of data and folders in your new inbox. Once the data is converted, you will be free to rename and move the folders around to your personal satisfaction. The naming and folder restriction are confined to the conversion process, not to how you handle the data post conversion.

What You’ll Need to Do to Access Your New Mail

After June 16, log in to your Google Apps account and begin using it for all your email correspondence and calendar scheduling. To access your Google Apps email, open your web browser and go to http://gmail.mattawanschools.org. Log in with the same username and password that you used to take the Apple Professional Development Survey. Your username is your first initial and last name (ie: ppoggione). You should have changed your password when you took the survey, so I can’t tell you what it is :-) Incidentally, if you try to accesshttp://gmail.mattawanschools.org prior to June 16, you are likely to encounter an error since that URL will not be active until June 16. Also keep in mind that full mail functionality will not happen until June 17th or 18th.

If you would like to use an external email client with your new mail other than the web interface, or you would like to access it via a mobile device such as an iPhone or Blackberry, there are resources on the Google Apps site to assist you. You are not restricted as to what type of email client or device you use to access your email. You can find many resources on accessing Google Apps email by following this link.

Converting Personal Contacts

* A note to all staff member currently using Apple MacBook laptops and running the Groupwise email client: The export contacts procedure only works in Windows. You will need to log into a computer running Groupwise on Windows to create an export file

There is no automated means available to convert your personal contacts from Groupwise to Google Apps. For the Tech Department to convert contacts for you, we would need direct access to your Groupwise account and convert each individual account separately. For this reason we will not be doing it for you. If you would like to convert your contacts on your own, please follow these steps.


  1. Login to Groupwise
  2. Click Address Book – Right click on the particular address book (i.e. Frequent Contacts) that you want to move/export and selectExport Book.
  3. Change the “save as” file type from the drop-down box where you enter the filename to “Comma Separated Values (csv)”.
  4. Name the file address.csv and save it to your desktop
  5. Login to your Google Apps email (http://gmail.mattawanschools.org) and click Contacts link, then click the Import link (See image)
  6. Browse for the address.nab file on your desktop that you created in step 2 and 3, then click import.

Over time we will be developing more detailed instructions to help you complete these and other tasks quickly.


Will I still be able to access my Groupwise account after the switchover?

Yes, for the 2010-11 school year, you can still log into the Groupwise webmail interface (http://gw.mattawanschools.org) after June 16 to view your email, calendar, and personal contacts. However, no new mail will arrive there. New mail will go to your Google Apps account email.

Can I access my Google Apps account now?

No, you can’t access your account until after June 16.

What will my email address be?

Your email address will remain the same, it will not change.

How much time is required to set up my account?

You’ll be able to master the basics — sending and receiving email and viewing and scheduling meetings — very quickly. However, the time required to completely move over to Google Apps can vary, depending on how you currently use Groupwise. For example, for a typical email and calendar migration, expect to spend about 4 to 8 hours over the course of a week or so, to view online resources, review documentation, and set up your services. If you also access email on a mobile device, plan on spending a bit more time.

Will you help me set up and use my Google Apps account?

Yes, The Technology Department will make its best effort to assist everyone with their new Google Apps account. We’ll provide documentation that contains instructions for accessing your account (such as this blog post), setting up your new services and mobile device, and using the services. As always, creating a helpdesk ticket will be the most reliable way to get assistance.

Watch for more email announcements and blog postings about these resources and other services.

If You Have Further Questions…

As always, if you have a question or have problems, you can create a helpdesk ticket or send an email to support@mattawanschools.org.


Staff H: Drives (Life After Novell)

(The following is a copy of a post made to the old Technology Wiki/Blog site originally published June 10, 2010)

Hello again everyone. As opposed to continuing to send out emails on subjects that you might not find important today, but which you could not find the email tomorrow when it is important, I will start using our blog server to make this stuff easy to find.

Question of the Day:

I know, the title above implies that there will be a question every day, but in reality, there will only be a question when I get one that makes me think, “Gee, I bet everyone would like to know the answer to this question”, or I think to myself after reading it, “D’oh! Why didn’t I think of that!”.

Today’s question comes our way compliments of Kendal Pestun, from the High School. Kendal wrote:
There has been some confusion (at least among my group of friends) regarding H drives for next year. Will we have access to our H drives while at school on our laptops. Will we need to put the H drive on a flash drive in order to have it? This is what was mentioned to some of us. Thanks for clarifying.

This is a great question and one worth exploring. First, it’s good to mention a little about the H: drive so that we all are speaking the same language. The H: drive is what currently is referred to when someone is speaking of their network “home” file storage. This data is stored (or “lives”if you will) on the network and is private to you, the individual user. Right now, on every desktop computer running Windows, your local personal files and settings (ie: My Documents, My Pictures, Internet bookmarks etc.) are redirected away from the desktop computer and actually stored out on the network. This gives us the ability to back them up for you and to recover them if (did I really say if?) something bad were to happen.
When you get your new, shiny, Apple MacBook, there will no longer be a need for a network “home”. All of your files and settings will be stored locally (meaning physically) on the laptop. Where you take your laptop, you take your files. This is important to remember. This means that you will not need to connect to the school’s file servers in order to get your files. (Important Note: This does not pertain to shared files such as what you now think of as the I:, S:, O: and N: drives. We will deal with that issue at a later date and I will link it to this posting).

But what about backing up my files?

Each laptop has special software installed on it that runs in the background to back up your files to a server on our network that is configured specifically for this purpose. You do not have to do anything, this backup will occur automatically. If something “bad” happens and you need to recover files, you will simply open this utility, browse the files that have been backed up, and choose the version of the file that you would like to recover. For now, don’t worry about the actual steps involved to recover a file. The process is quick and simple and detailed instructions will be made available to you soon. Backup will occur whether you are here at school or at home (from home it occurs over the Internet). This also means you can recover files from anywhere as well.
As always, there is no substitue for being personally responsible for your own backup! Automated processes are just that – automated, and occasionally subject to failure. So, if you have any personal items on your laptop and don’t want to lose it, it is recommended that you purchase an external hard drive and make use of the Apple Time Machine to back up your files, or make sure you keep copies.

What about privacy and security?

All of your files that are backed up on our servers are encrypted and can only be recovered by you with your password. All we see is encrypted gibberish. So please rest easy, no one but you will have access to the files that you have backed up.

What about the files that are in my H: drive now? How will I get them to my laptop?

Later this summer we will have you current H: drive data moved to a location that you will be able to access with your laptop. You will then be able to copy over the items that you wish to keep. this will be a great time to finally clean out all that old data (hint, hint). You can also be proactive and use a flash drive right now. Copy your H: drive data to it and when you get your new MacBook, copy it form the flash drive(keep the data on the flash drive as a backup until you are sure that you don’t need it any more).
I hope this helps to dispel some of the confusion on this topic. Please feel free to email me if you have any specific questions, or better yet, just post your comments to this blog post. Who knows, your question may be the same as someone else’s!


Back in the Saddle

It’s time to practice what I preach.  Technology changes are far too pervasive and occur too rapidly for me to provide everyone at MCS with appropriate, timely information.  For that reason I have decided to dispense with the emails and start putting things in a place where I can simply reference, and you can come back to again and again (as if the site will be that entertaining!)

As with everything else, I invite your feedback and participation on this blog. Without that interaction it becomes difficult to gauge what works and what doesn’t, what you need from me and what you don’t.

Why this theme?

For any of you that have recently been in my office, this theme is pretty close to what my desk looks like all of the time (except for the coffee being on the left side and overall being far too organized). Ok, so it really is nothing like my desk, but I thought it was cool. (thanks Ben for pointing this one out to me). I’m sure that the theme will change numerous times before I setting on how I want this to look, or even function.  The main thing however, is that the information here will remain accessible.

OK, enough of the small talk.. time to get busy so let’s roll! ~P