Updated: apps being blocked

I am seeing inappropriate use of the FaceTime app, as students are off task by opening the camera and taking screen shots. The app now blocked on student workstations until a teacher presents a compelling need for the app. The error message reads: “Camera damaged by preview image of subject, exiting error 8-0:

Upcoming changes in January

The tech team will be focusing on making sure the student machines are prepared for state testing, specifically that the CASecureBrowser.app version 9 is installed. There is no way to systemically identify the old test browsers because there is no version number set in the app, it looks identical to the old browser. The only way we know if it works or not is to attempt a test session and getting a failure notice. We could use some assistance by having teachers direct the students to start the browser and attempt a practice test, then report by machine name if the test session fails.

The investigation into the student web server issue has revealed a possible solution. There are several variables that determine a webserver’s performance under load, specifically CPU speed, available RAM, hard disk speed / throughput capacity and database connection capacity. Previous attempts to resolve the load issue have focused on server instance types (CPU & RAM) and database instance types (database connection capacity). I had overlooked the drive variable as the drive spec was a solid state drive (SSD), which are normally very fast. However, I have learned that the default baseline SSD option I had chosen was woefully inadequate to the task of 500 simultaneous connections. I have reprovisioned the drive spec to a larger, faster type and inital testing indicates that the BCCS server can handle the load. I will continue to experiment with finding the right balance of server and database resources. The MORCS server remains a challenge, so I am continuing to experiment with different options and see if we can get the server running in time for Advisory on the 23rdth. A major concern is that Amazon Web Services are a pay as you go model, and our costs are running about 2.5 x the budget allocated, so I’m still working on making this work economically.

We do have a spare server housed at BCCS and can fall back to it if we are unable to resolve the MORCS issue, but I am not confident that that solution will be as resilliant as a properly configured AWS server. We currently have 5 AWS servers and 3 databases running in the cloud, and I feel they are the best solution going forward, we just have to work out the kinks. Again, I thank you for all of your patience as we work this out.

We are still working on the outstanding issues from December, and I’ll update you when we have solutions.

I hope you all had a wonderful break, and I am looking forward to the second semester. Happy New Year!