Archive for October, 2014

Teaching Tech

October 22, 2014

A number of years ago, 14 to be precise, I was involved in a collaborative project aimed at teaching elementary school-aged children how to use a spreadsheet program.  The completed lessons manifested as a five-part instructional plan.

Spreadsheet Solutions

Due to the school district’s lack of technology funding, students in the year 2000 were still using Windows 3.11 and Microsoft Works as their primary software.  Although antiquated by today’s standards, these programs remain powerful enough to accomplish the task we set out to achieve even now.

The trick to teaching technology to younger students is not to give them information overload but to advance their knowledge incrementally.  These lessons were designed to be completed one at a time over a period of several weeks in half-hour sessions.

We were amazed at how quickly the majority of students acquainted themselves with the spreadsheet program when given a specific short list of tasks.  A few students did require extra tutoring, however.

Each lesson builds off of the previous lesson.  This helped to familiarize the children with the software and heighten their confidence level in successive steps.  Technology is only intimidating when we attempt to master its intricacies all at once.

The Spreadsheet Solutions lesson plans succeeded brilliantly!  Students were able to complete the final lesson and learned to go beyond by increasing their proficiency with a spreadsheet program through experimentation.

We demystified the software and gave them the tools to excel (Excel).

These lessons can be downloaded as PDF files:

Lesson One

Lesson Two

Lessons Three through Five

Feel free to modify these lessons as needed.  You may also use these lessons as a basis for creating your own lesson plans.  I only ask that if you create new lessons based on these files, please share them by allowing others to download your work.

Together we can all make a contribution to the education of our children and the betterment of our society.



ShieldsUP, Captain!

October 2, 2014

With all the software vulnerabilities and successful hacking attempts recently, it’s time to recheck the effectiveness of your firewall.

ShieldsUP! logo from -

The Gibson Research Corporation offers a free real-world test.  Just click on ShieldsUP > Proceed > All Service Ports and run the test.

What you are hoping to see is your system in total stealth mode:

ShieldsUP! results for the Amped Wireless R10000G router

And what you are hoping to read in the results comments is:

Your system has achieved a perfect “TruStealth” rating. Not a single packet — solicited or otherwise — was received from your system as a result of our security probing tests. Your system ignored and refused to reply to repeated Pings (ICMP Echo Requests). From the standpoint of the passing probes of any hacker, this machine does not exist on the Internet. Some questionable personal security systems expose their users by attempting to “counter-probe the prober”, thus revealing themselves. But your system wisely remained silent in every way. Very nice.

A perfect score!

This was achieved through the use of an Amped Wireless R10000G router.  The router acts as a hardware and software firewall.  But not all routers respond in the same way.

Just because you have a router does not necessarily mean that you will achieve these same results.  It’s vitally important that you check your router’s security.

If your router does not pass the GRC ShieldsUP test, you may need to alter some security settings within your router to get better results.  Please check your router manufacturer’s website for more information.

Be safe out there!