Take Flight: Your First Interview

Earlier today, I chanced upon an email from someone going for their first interview:

I’ve been called for an interview for the instructional technology position. They didn’t ask me to create a presentation or anything in particular. They did say I could bring whatever I would like to share. What are things you have taken to an interview for an educational/instructional technology position?

Having been interviewed many times myself, as well as interviewed candidates for instructional technologists, I took a stab at sharing my suggestions.

See more awesome pics of ants


When interviewing candidates, one question sometimes comes up AFTER the interview of a promising candidate. The question is, “How come they didn’t show us, tell us all the great things they are doing?” When people sit in the hot seat, they forget they aren’t there to just answer questions then be quiet. They’re there to respond as a human being, bringing their full range of intellectual, and spiritual, prowess to bear.

When you walk out of the interview, make sure you’ve found a way to assist the interviewers in understanding how your experiences/skills/aptitudes aligned to the organization’s needs. Leave it all on the table. Don’t just answer the question, answer the question behind the question. The question is just the beginning…flesh out your response. Begin with your experiences, share how it is relevant to the new position, and always respond as if you were in that position already. 

Own it.

Remember, no matter what happens, you can use this as a way to learn more about how to better represent how your skills and experience align to this type of position.

Align Your Abilities to Their Organizational Needs

Take a copy of the job announcement, then turn it into a two-column document (a table). On the left side, but the job announcement description. On the right side, put your relevant experiences, skills and/or knowledge.
Given this is an instructional tech position, make sure you have examples that provide insight into your instructional design. Also, be sure that your professional learning network (PLN) is fresh on your mind. Whether you get hired or not, you’ll learn where you need to grow, how to share.

Showcase Your Work in a Virtual Space

To your question, I like to create a website to showcase my experiences and goals. Rather than a fixed presentation, create a website (new Google Sites is awesome for this, as is OneNote) that showcases how you solved problems, developed solutions. Some of my attempts appear below. While there are many awesome examples out there, make the one that best captures YOU.

Some Terrible Examples

A Handful of Tips

Here are some additional tips to keep in mind that will save you some trouble later:

  • Walk in having already submitted as many letters of recommendation as you can, including ones from your past supervisors. Get those letters every year so you have a handy supply when you need them. I like to put them all in a PDF, as well capture excerpts to feature in an attachment to my resume. Think of it as a “Cliff Notes” for nice stuff others have written about you.
  • Have 3 top insights that you’ve learned from your Professional Learning Network (PLN). Often, folks are asked how they keep current and they stutter. While conferences and magazines are OK, they aren’t where it’s at anymore. Get connected, stay connected and be active online so that the world knows who you are. You’ll find that if the world knows your name, you have increased confidence in sharing with a potential employer.
  • Keep 4-5 tools/apps in your back pocket that you can list off the top of your head. Also, make sure that you know HOW you would introduce those to others during professional learning, as well as how they might be used in the classroom to enhance teaching, learning and/or leading.
  • Be prepared to chat about how you handle unruly folks in workshops, highlight how you connect and collaborate, deal with the unexpected.
  • Add a lesson plan or instructional design item to your virtual space
  • Use a URL shortener that isn’t gobbledygook and tough to spell. I recommend bit.ly and/or tinyurl.com to get one that makes sense (bit.ly/mgfolio is easy to remember and share). Still, be sure that you have an easy to way to access the long URL because sometimes these URL shorteners are blocked in school districts.

 One final point: It’s often important to have a closing question, a question that captures the dynamic in the room and reveals your insight. One easy question I like to use is shown below:

What is the process for handling conflict in this organization?

No matter the response, you’ll get an earful of insights from how people look at each other, who they look at, and what is said. Don’t be afraid if the question gets turned back on you, though. Simply share your perspective in a positive way that reflects your willingness and skills at working as part of a team.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

An Invitation

Image Source: https://hacklibraryschool.com/2014/01/29/pln/

Over at Assorted Stuff, Tim makes his point about ambassadors and Ed Tech Boat Shows. The problem isn’t that these shows bring people together, giving them the opportunity to connect and learn, but rather, that it juxtaposes vendors into one large hall. Wait, you don’t see the problem?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always felt my trips to ISTE were worth while, learning much during the time and always making or renewing some wonderful connections. And almost none of that came from visiting the “massive Expo Hall”. I expect that the same would be true if I was at the big events in London or Ontario right now.

But I find that it takes more and more work to find those professional benefits at these overly-large conferences. Considering the number of people I see spending hours in the vendor hall and flocking to the “Cracker Jack” sessions, along with the volume of social media posts about the “cool new” stuff, I’m not sure that’s happening at all for a large percentage of those tens of thousand attendees.

Imagine putting everyone who’s trying to “sell you” on their idea in one big room, saving you the trouble of having to walk all over the place. That seems like an advantage to me. The real benefit is the implicit invitation.

An invitation to connect and learn with others. Bringing many perspectives and voices into one physical space. While social media does get a lot of the work done, the physical experience of being in the room with awesome folks…well, that’s worth the price of admission.

Unconference, edcamp, boat show conference, accept the invitation to connect. You may only find one or two connections, but it’s meeting up with the person you need to learn from at the moment you need it.

In regards to ambassadors and transparency, I never have trouble figuring out who the Seesaw, Microsoft, Google, Flipgrid, you name it ambassadors are. They often speak right up and tell me. What’s so difficult? To the best of my knowledge, those ambassadorships don’t pay a cent. And, who’s going to fault an enterprising teacher from monetizing her blog and expertise won through experience?

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

The Road to E2 #road2e2

Update: Be sure to check Periscope info at the bottom of this post for live video, as well as a link to the Photo Album featuring the E2 Conference.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been pinching myself. I can’t quite wrap my head around a simple fact. During the month of March, I’ll be joining awesome educators in Singapore. Hang on, let me look back over that sentence and see what I just wrote.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to present at a conference at the Downtown Campus of the University of Texas at San Antonio. One of the incredible takeaways was that teachers in Singapore were already learning about the ISTE NETS for teachers, readying themselves for teaching life in America. It blew my mind that educators so far away were preparing to teach in America.


Soon,  I’ll be joining the team of Microsoft Innovative Educators (MIE) at the fabled E2 Conference in (here it comes again), Singapore. I’m deeply honored to be among those chosen (about 300 or so educators from all over). 
Check out the rest of the folks going:

Over the last year, I’ve served with John Bimmerle as a Microsoft Innovative Education (MIE) Fellow. For me, the work has been about responding to the questions and needs of others, working to build an online community where Texas MIE folks can connect. Are you using Microsoft tools? Join the TCEA MIE Facebook group and connect.

As I reflect on the journey that has brought me to this point, I can’t help but be grateful for any work that empowers me to connect and assist others on such a grand scale.


“How many service centers are there in Texas?” my Dad asked me once. I explained to him that there were 20 across Texas. He was impressed. “So, you are one of 20 to 40 people around Texas who help teachers use computers in their classrooms?” I replied in the affirmative. Now, I can imagine his pride if I told him, there’s only one TCEA.org in the world, and that I’m headed to Singapore with their support. He would be overjoyed and excited for me. It is a feeling I often have when I reflect on my own children going places and doing things beyond my understanding.

When I reflect on the path to this point, I can’t help but express how grateful I am to fellow educators who have assisted me. I know I’m grateful to TCEA’s leadership team (you know who you are), my teammates, to Microsoft partners like Maria, Robyn, Jennifer, and Ginelle. It seems so easy to say I’m grateful. The words are insufficient to express my sense of appreciation.

What Am I Looking Forward To the Most?

While the appeal of traveling 22+ hours in a plane is excitement enough (wait, you probably don’t know I stocked up on Audible books and ebooks so I will be doing one of the things I love best–reading), what really has me jazzed is learning about MakeCode and Minecraft: Education Edition.

What are you taking with you on the plane trip? For those of you that are curious, I have no doubt that thousands of zombies are going to die on my journey to Singapore in The Mountain Man series. If that gets boring, I may switch to Battle Mage. Or, perhaps, B.V. Larson‘s Steel World and Dust World books.

I wish I hadn’t rushed through Terry Mancour’s awesome Spellmonger series (it’s truly hilarious and awesome). Ok, I also wished that I was listening to Jonathan Moeller‘s stuff, but I read/listen to it when it comes out. I have too many ebooks to mention loaded up on Amazon or side-loaded into my phone. In fact, you’d think the only reason I was traveling to Singapore was to listen to all the great books (ok, you caught me!).

Like any other adult learner, I want to learn about something that’s relevant to my work. In a few months, I’ll be guiding other educators through Minecraft: Education Edition, and knowing how to do the coding will be immensely helpful. Of course, I had planned to learn it on my own, but now, I will have the chance to learn it from Stephen Reid (founder of Immersive Minds), whom I mention in many of my MEE sessions. I’ll also get a chance to meet folks like Mark Grundel.

Keep in Touch via Periscope and Photos Album

If you’re wondering what I’m doing in Singapore, please stay tuned to my Twitter account! I’ll be sharing links, audio interviews and more via Periscope.

Here’s the channel:

Or just go to www.pscp.tv and search on #tceamge2

Looking for Photos? Check out this Photo Album!

Finally, if you’re looking for resources, allow me to share some:

View this page online at http://tceamg.org or go direct

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Always Faithful

Upon reading of Wikispaces upcoming demise, I felt a bit of nostalgia. Although Wikispaces has graciously continued to host my content (mguhlin.wikispaces.com) for YEARS (since at least 2006), I have been unfaithful to this old friend. New tools (e.g. old Google Sites, OneNote, new Google Sites) long ago convinced me to abandon it.

Wikispaces recently announced that it is closing shop in mid-2018 – at least for those of us who use the free service. I have used this tool for my workshop support materials and promoted its use to countless classroom teachers and librarians in those workshops for a dozen years or more. So it is sad to see an old and comfortable friend retire. Source: Doug Johnson, Blue Skunk Blog

Wikispaces, unlike many of other Web 2.0 tools, remained faithful to educators. I never remember it seeking to monetize itself on the backs of educators. For that alone, Wikispaces remains one of the best Web 2.0 services.

Thank you, Wikispaces. Your faithfulness won’t be forgotten.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Blasphemy: Loading GNU/Linux on My Surfacebook

As much fun as I have exploring Microsoft Windows 10, I have to admit that I LOVE working in the GNU/Linux operating system. Yes, it can be frustrating knocking your head against the screen. Still, it often feels . , especially when it comes to writing. The minimalist approach, which I can achieve on Windows 10 when writing with the Hemingway Editor (which now has a program you can save to your Win/Mac computer), comes much easier on GNU/Linux.

Microsoft Surfacebook with Elementary OS running

In the past, I’ve tried to load GNU/Linux onto my Microsoft Surfacebook without success. I suppose, an early UEFI experience where I thought I’d lost the entire Windows partition scared me. In spite of that, I persevered (slowly, oh so slowly) and finally came to feel pretty comfortable with UEFI (and turning that stuff off).

“Drivers with very new systems have always and always will be an issue unless vendors change and start supporting Linux directly. Linux developers have to reverse engineer all drivers and that takes a while before all that is in a current distribution. UEFI also being relatively new also has had need of lots of development also by vendors.” – oldfred Jul 12 ’15 at 3:52


It may seem a bit crazy to want to run GNU/Linux on a Microsoft Surfacebook, but I fell in love with the Surfacebook the first time I saw it. The machine runs great, and I often remark to others, “This is way better than those Macbooks!” So, even though I learned a lot doing Windows 10, since I’ve been using GNU/Linux, it felt like coming home when I was able to drop to the command line and load software.

Give it a try


The real challenge was probably not as hard as I made it out to be. I only needed to have the right distro (e.g. Elementary OS) and be willing to repartition my Windows hard drive. Until recently, my drive had been filled to capacity. Given some spring cleaning, I was able to squeeze out 89 gigs of space, and only took 25 for ext4 and swap partitions.

To re-partition the drive, I relied on MiniTool Partition Tool/Wizard. It worked flawlessly.

I loaded up a USB flash drive with ELementary OS using Rufus, and then did the install straight to the appropriate partitions.

Note: On another Surfacebook, I found myself relying on the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool. Read more about it here. In this situation, I ended up deleting the original Win10 partition, then shrinking it. The shrinkage allowed for the GNU/Linux partition and the swap space. After re-partitioning, I used Win10 Media Creation Tool to re-install Windows 10. At no time did I wipe out the recovery drive partition, which helped (I think) with Windows licensing.  Then once Windows 10 Pro was re-installed, I installed Elementary OS distro, making sure to set the Windows Boot Manager partition as the location for GRUB. After that, restarting made it all work great.


 Since I don’t plan to load a lot of software on this partition (after all, it’s great for blogging, light image editing, accessing encrypted drives and password repositories), I’m finding a lot of space left over. Using df -lh I get this, which shows 17 gigs of space free of the total 22 gigs apportioned for space. Lots of room on a GNU/Linux system!

/dev/nvme0n1p4   22G  4.4G   17G  22%

Still, here are some of my favorite apps:

  • keepass
  • shutter
  • midnight commander
  • Firefox Quantum (sorry, Chrome, don’t need you on this one)
  • secure-delete
  • cryptsetup
  • gnome-desktop-utility (a.k.a. palimpset)

 In truth, not much. Oh, I forgot to add HTOP. As you can see from the screen below, not much happening.


Well, that with GNU/Linux distro, the keyboard worked, that the trackpad worked, and WiFi networks showed up without problem. That has never happened before on Surfacebook. Whew! I did try Lubuntu, but the experience wasn’t as fun, so I switched back to Elementary OS.

What fun! I learned a lot and remembered a lot. I can’t describe the joy of writing in a GNU/Linux environment. Funny thing that.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Be Android Safe on the Web

Wondering how to secure Android phone communications? You’ll want to read this blog entry!

Be sure to visit the TCEA TechNotes blog to read this entry.

“Did you know 15.2M text messages are sent every minute?” I asked my wife at evening meal. “That’s almost as many emails as our dear daughter sent the weekend after she got a smartphone!” As we laughed to ourselves, the niggling question of who sees those communications tugged at me. How easy is it to hack SMS/text messages? I often worry someone will grab my smartphone and send text messages/emails that are inappropriate. In a previous blog entry, Safeguard Your Android, I shared how to rely on a virtual private network (VPN) to protect communications. Increasingly, you must secure your communications (e.g. email, text messages, voice calls, where you go online). In this blog entry, we will explore how to better achieve security.

Did You Know?At the bottom of this blog entry, you’ll find a nifty infographic showing what sorts of data 3.7M people put online every minute. 103M spam emails are sent every minute. 527K photos are shared via Snapchat.

Why Do I need to Secure My Communications?

“If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear,” goes the saying. That isn’t exactly true. Consider this scenario:

You send an accidental text or email, announcing that you will be at the beach this weekend. Perhaps you go to the beach, and post pictures on social media. When you return to your home, you realize you’ve been robbed.

Tracking your movements need not result in theft. Instead, you may be the target of advertising.

There are numerous ways you can be tracked on the internet. Whenever you browse the net, you are being tracked by the use of browser cookies.
Cookies are the reason why, after you check out a new iPhone case on Amazon, you are repeatedly hit with website ads for phone cases wherever you go. Ad networks save cookies to your computer’s hard drive and then display ads based on the items you have browsed in online stores or searched for on Google. (Source: Pixel Privacy)
Whether you wish to or not, securing your communications is critical to digital citizenship. More importantly, protecting your sensitive data (and that of your students) can prevent problems before they arise.


Tip #1 – Two-Factor Authentication

secureWhen I first began using two-factor authentication, it was a pain. I just couldn’t pick up my phone, login to Facebook or Gmail on my computer. Instead, I had to start up my Authentication app. Now, two years later, I am grateful for the added security. About six months ago, someone tried to break into my Gmail account. Without two-factor authentication, I fear I would have been hacked. If you use Google Suites, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, you may find it worthwhile to protect yourself with the Google Authenticator app.

Did You Know?You can use a site like Have I Been Pwnd? to find out if a login (your email address) has been hacked. You can also double-check to see if a password you use is up a brute force attack with the How Secure is Your Password? website.

You may also want to take an extra step. What if your phone is stolen or lost? If someone is able to make it pass your fingerprint authentication, they can use the Authenticator app to login to your various services. On Android, it’s possible to assign a pass code to apps you choose. Even if someone has your phone unlocked in their hand, they will have to work hard to get past your pass code for individual apps. People often ask to look at my Android phone. Before, I was a little nervous about letting them look at it. Now, I can hand it over and know people will be unable to get into sensitive apps by accident. You can use BitDefender Mobile’s App Lock to assign a pass code to each app (shown above). Apps:

Tip #2 – Minimize Your Internet Tracks

Everything we do online is tracked. Forget that at your peril. While it’s one thing to have the government looking over your shoulder (not really), a more immediate threat includes hackers and vendors trying to seize your information. Use a virtual private network (VPN), and one of the browsers below to achieve some measure of anonymity (it may foil online retailers and hackers but not necessarily the FBI): Apps:

  • Firefox Focus: This app works well to block cookies and advertisements. You aren’t anonymous while using it, but it works great to block ads and keep your mobile browser light. Use it with a VPN.
  • Duck Duck Go: This search app doesn’t track your searches on the web. Use it with a VPN.
  • Orbot: This app has a built in The Onion Router (TOR) browser, and will work to keep your internet travels anonymous as possible. Use it with a VPN to achieve higher level of protection.

Tip #3 – Protect Your Text Messages

“What’s the username and password to Netflix?” asked my daughter a few weeks ago. Since my text messages enjoy end to end encryption, I have no problem sharing confidential, sensitive information via text message. However, I would never dream of doing this using the standard SMS/Text message app on any device. Instead, take advantage of one of the apps below. The best one right now is Signal. On Android, you can use Signal for both encrypted and unsecured text messaging. Your friends who use Signal will connect securely with you, while others who are not using it will not. No matter what tool you use for text encryption, consider using the Secure Space Encryptor (SSE) app or website to encrypt text messages (and email). This will protect your messages with AES-256 level of encryption. Apps:

  1. End to end text and audio encryption with Signal, WhatsApp, or Voxer
  2. Encrypt your text messages using SSE or web encryption

Tip #4 – Guard Your Email

“With over 200 billion emails sent and received by almost 3 billion people throughout the world each day, accessible anywhere at any time by almost anyone, email inboxes present a big target,” says JJ Rosen. You should be encrypting your email whenever possible, whether you are on your computer or your Android device. You don’t have to be a professional cryptographer to use tools like SecureGmail (Watch video), Virtru Email Encryption (Watch video) or the Paranoia Text Encryptor website. Another approach you can take is to rely on a tool like ProtonMail (based in Switzerland) or Tutanota (based in Germany). Both offer secure apps that allow you to send encrypted emails to others. For example, Protonmail comes with a pass code login. This protects strangers from accessing your email app. When composing an email, you can set a password to encrypt messages for non-ProtonMail users. You can then share the encryption password with the email recipient through a phone call or text message (not email though). When they receive the email, they use the password to decrypt your email message. What a relief to know your confidential emails are encrypted while sitting in a friend’s inbox. Another neat feature is you can set message expiration to a number of hours or days. That’s pretty amazing! Apps:


Some may see these efforts to secure communications as so much cloak-n-dagger games for grownups. Let’s not forget that identity theft costs $16 billion dollars affecting 15.4 million people. I urge you to take every precaution possible. Only after taking proper precautions will you truly have nothing to fear. Once you have done all you can, you have nothing to fear.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Tips to Protect Your Android Phone

Wondering how to safeguard your Android phone? You’ll want to read this blog entry!

Be sure to visit the TCEA TechNotes blog to read this entry.

Did this holiday season leave you with an Android device in your hands? If so, you’re not the only one. “Between them, Android and iOS accounted for 99.6 percent of all smartphone sales in the fourth quarter of 2016,” says James Vincent (Gartner as cited in The Verge). “Of the 432 million smartphones sold in the last quarter [2016], 352 million ran Android (81.7 percent) and 77 million ran iOS (17.9 percent).”According to Google, as cited by MacRumors, over two billion Android devices are in use around the world. Unfortunately, more Android devices means more opportunities for malware and hacking. Join me as we explore some of the apps that can protect you from malware, hackers, and intrusion. Don’t be afraid to pass these tips to your children/students as they begin to explore the wild, wild world of Android. After all, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD/BYOT) initiatives are ever-increasing in schools.

Note: One handy app that I used to get a list of all the apps on my Android phone is List My Apps. This app makes it simple to get your Android app list emailed to you with links.

#1- Anti-Malware Tool

While there are many anti-malware tools in the Google Play store, not all are safe. For example, some anti-malware tools may masquerade as helpful tools to capture your sensitive data. With an Android device, just like the Windows operating system, you may put yourself at risk without anti-malware tools. Tom’s Guide provides a list of tools. My favorite one, though, is BitDefender Mobile Security for $15 a year. The app offers a host of features, making sure you don’t let malware install itself or hitch a ride on existing apps. You can lock individual apps to prevent others from opening them; useful if you lose your phone while it is unlocked. This is quite important, especially if you decide to take foolish advantage of third party apps (e.g. GetJar) not approved in the Google Play store.

Did You Know?If you lose your phone, you can use Android’s Find My Device feature to locate it via GPS or remotely wipe the information on it. Wow! To turn that on, go to your phone’s Settings, then Google then Security. If you have not done so already, make sure to get the Find My Device app. Setup is a snap.

#2- Protecting Your Camera and Microphone Access

Did you know that the camera and microphone on your device can be activated remotely? Worse, once activated, you can be spied upon.

Researchers have discovered a design flaw in Android that can be used to remotely capture screenshots or record audio… without the user’s knowledge or consent. (Source)

Two apps that I use on my Android phone to protect against this include Camera Blocker and Microphone Block Free. Each offers a free version that will allow you to flip the ON/OFF switch on your camera or microphone. You can turn these off when you need to snap a picture or answer your phone.

#3- Prevent Robo Spam Calls

Finding yourself receiving an unending stream of robocalls and spam? Give Hiya a try. It features “spam detection and call blocking capabilities.” These help you “avoid unwanted and dangerous calls.” This app has blocked countless calls to my mobile phone. On Android, Hiya pops up with caller ID to let me know who is calling. This allows me to decide if I want to waste my time responding. For phone numbers not in the Hiya database, I have the option of adding new numbers.

Hiya Call Block Security identifies the calls you want to take and blocks the numbers and texts you want to avoid. Hiya is free (no ads!), and is incredibly easy to use. It offers the ability to block calls, blacklist unwanted phone numbers and SMS text messages, reverse phone search incoming call information, and receive spam alerts.

The best way to win an argument with a telemarketer or spammer is to avoid it. Younger phone users may not know how to say “no.” Get them Hiya so they can avoid a data-compromising conversation.

#4 – Virtual Private Network (VPN)

If you are using public WiFi, make sure to get a virtual private network (VPN) solution. You can find a great overview of why you should use a VPN over at Pixel Privacy. Here’s why a VPN is such a great idea:

A laptop and mobile device user visits her favorite coffee shop, connecting to the free Wi-Fi hotspot to access the internet. She uses the unprotected hotspot to pay bills, do her banking and shop on Amazon. Meanwhile, a quiet young man sits in the corner, sipping his latte and monitoring her internet connection, stealing valuable personal and business information.

Packet sniffing happens all the time. Use a free solution like Opera VPN or a subscription service like Private Internet Access (PIA).

#5- Password Manager

Keeping track of a million passwords can be quite a hassle. Two tools I have found helpful include Secure Space Encryptor (SSE) and/or KeePassDroid. Both work on your mobile phone. You can keep track of your usernames and generate more complex passwords than “password” or “dragon.” In future Android-related blog entries, we’ll take a look at additional tools you can use to safeguard your data.  

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Exploring @Spyrus_inc Windows To Go (Part 2)

A short time ago, I posted Part 1 of my review of SPYRUS Windows To Go live drive, which essentially gives you a computer on a USB stick with a LOT more “oomph.” I’m actually writing Part 2 of this blog entry on my Surfacebook, and it’s humming along without any issues.

Find out more at Spyrusnews

Here are a few takeaways:

Takeaway #1 – Consistent Across Win10 Devices

When I began the adventure with Spyrus, I started on a Lenovo W540 Thinkpad. I did a lot of configuration before saving my settings and shutting down the machine. I expected there to be a few issues when I hooked up the Spyrus Windows To Go drive to my Surfacebook, but, believe it or not, there wasn’t a one! The start up process worked flawlessly. All I had to do was click on SHIFT at Shut Down time, select USB Storage as my startup/boot, and Spyrus loaded without any problems.

As I type this, Windows 10 on Spyrus live drive is pulling down all the drivers for my connected devices, everything from my Apple USB ethernet Adapter (hey, I already had one laying around, why buy a Microsoft only one?) to connected monitors, Surface keyboard, mice, etc.

Takeaway #2 – Installing Apps…Easy

You might think that installing programs on a portable drive would result in a performance hit, but that was NOT the case! I was able to quickly copy my installer files onto the live Drive from my own Windows 10 machine, then once booted up, install the programs. The process was quick.

Takeaway #3 – Storage Capacity

You may not have noticed on the images I shared in Part 1 of the actual Spyrus I received, but the capacity is 32GB. Surprisingly, I wondered if this would be enough. Of course, it is. Even after loading more programs on the device, there seems plenty of room left over for files and more. I can just imagine that if I’m using cloud storage (e.g. OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox) I will be able to easily access content and save more online. Right now, I have about 5.92 gigs of space available. I’m sure I could lighten the load but 5gigs can go a long ways without cloud storage enabled.

Overall Takeaway

You know, this is pretty nice. I’m wondering what would be the easiest way to get a registered Windows 10 Pro loaded on the Spyrus Windows To Go live drive. This makes jumping from device to device so much easier!

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Exploring Windows To Go @SPYRUS_inc (Review Part 1)

Will Spyrus Windows To Go live drive work on a Lenovo W540 Thinkpad?

Need to carry your Windows 10 computer in your pocket, but don’t really want to lug around a laptop? One alternative to carrying around a laptop (e.g. Surfacebook) or tablet (e.g. Surface tablet) is a Windows To Go USB drive (watch linked video in this tweet). This can be useful in a computer rich environment where you have the need to keep custom tools on your USB Solid State Drive (SSD) along with a Windows 10 operating system.

I’m going to take a look at the Spyrus Windows To Go Drive. Why don’t you come along?

What is Windows To Go?

If you aren’t familiar with Windows To Go, you might want to decipher this bit of info from Microsoft with me:

Windows To Go is a feature in Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education that enables the creation of a Windows To Go workspace that can be booted from a USB-connected external drive on PCs.

PCs that meet the Windows 7 or later certification requirements can run Windows 10 in a Windows To Go workspace, regardless of the operating system running on the PC. Windows To Go workspaces can use the same image enterprises use for their desktops and laptops and can be managed the same way. Windows To Go is not intended to replace desktops, laptops or supplant other mobility offerings. Rather, it provides support for efficient use of resources for alternative workplace scenarios.

Who doesn’t like to sit down at a computer that reflects their choices, their software, desktop wallpaper and more? I know I do! Most professionals in education and business do. One roadblock, though, is that even in a PC-rich environment, you may find yourself longing for YOUR particular setup. That’s where Spyrus Windows To Go Drive may come in handy.

Real Use Scenarios

As I reflected on the various times I needed a Windows 10 computer in my pocket, I realized that I actually had a list of situations where it would come in handy:

  • This past year, I found myself traveling to Texas to Washington to attend specialized training. Computers were provided, but I would have loved to have had Spyrus Windows To Go Drive in my hands. I would have the chance to setup my Spyrus Windows To Go Drive ahead of time and not had to worry about limitations you often encounter in a computer lab situation.
  • Carrying around a Spyrus Windows To Go Drive makes travel a LOT easier. It’s fairly small, shorter than your middle finger, and starts up robustly. I know I’d rather just drop that lightweight drive in my sling bag than have to carry a full-sized laptop or tablet computer.
  • Friends often call me to provide assistance on their malware-infested device. Having Spyrus Windows To Go Drive to start up from, then run scans on the infected PC could be a real life-saver.

There are many possibilities for using Spyrus Windows To Go Drive. How many can you think of for your situation?
https://player.vimeo.com/video/126919337?color=ff6c3b&portrait=0 SPYRUS WTG Drive from Anifex Animation Effects Studio on Vimeo.

About Spyrus Windows To Go Drive 

The drive arrived in my mailbox. When I first opened up the envelope, I neglected to read the instructions included letter. For the sake of full disclosure, I provide the relevant excerpt below:

Congratulations on being chosen to review a Spyrus Windows To Go drive! SPYRUS Windows To Go live drives turn personal computers, including most Mac, into compliant enterprise Windows desktops–with or without connectivity.

SPYRUS Windows To Go drives are bootable drives and boot at the BIOS level of the motherboard and completely bypass the host computer’s own hard drive and native Operating System (OS). There is no impact on the host computer and no footprint left behind when the drive is shut down. SPYRUS has spent over 20 years exclusively focused on the problem of remote access and data protection–“security on the edge.”

As you can imagine, it was a USB drive and I just plugged it into a Lenovo W540 Thinkpad laptop (i7 processor, 16gigs RAM) to see what would happen.

Did You Know? The Spyrus WorkSafe Pro is the only USB 3.0 certified Windows to Go 8.1 drive with XTS-AES 256 hardware encryption and internal FIPS 140-2 Level 3 validated PKI. (Source)

At first, my UEFI enabled laptop ignored the USB drive…at least, until I remembered UEFI was turned on!


To start up, I needed to go into my BIOS settings (click SHIFT on SHUT DOWN in Windows 10, then press F12 at power on) to select the UEFI/Legacy “Both” option. When I powered on the drive, I pressed F12, and was able to select Spyrus as my startup device (as opposed to my hard drive).

After that, it took a few minutes while the Spyrus Windows To Go drive got going.


If you have any questions, you can find them online at Spyrus’ website. They have a handy chart that tells you what keys to press when turning on your computer.


My first experience with Spyrus Windows To Go Drive was wonderful. I was expecting to encounter a lot more technical difficulties, but those didn’t show up. My next steps after initial setup involved customizing the installation.

A few questions that came to mind included:

  • Could I install all my favorite apps?
  • What was the storage capacity of the Windows To Go drive Spyrus provided?
  • How well would this work on my Surfacebook (i7, 8gigsRAM)?
  • Would the experience be consistent across devices?

In Part 2 of this review, I’ll share my findings. In the meantime, what questions do you have about this handy drive? Please share your thoughts/questions in the Comments section.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Q&A with a CTO: Striving for Balance

A few weeks ago, I received a Twitter DM from a colleague in another state. After going back-n-forth in Twitter DMs, I decided to explore the topic as a full blown blog entry. Here’s the lead for the TCEA Technotes blog entry that just came out earlier this week:

Dear TCEA Responds:

I am a new CTO/Tech Director and love this article at TCEA’s Technotes blog (First Things First). I need to better understand how my staff works. A part of that involves tracking their work to better understand the organization as you recommend. We have the break fix tracking software. I’m thinking more of something project oriented and time tracking. My concern is my coaches are spending too much time on fixing broken equipment and not enough on curriculum support. My network and hardware specialists may be spending too much time waiting for things to go down, if that makes sense. Do you have any software recommendations for doing that?
Thanks, Mike

Dear Mike:

Thanks for the wonderful feedback about the First Things First blog entry. Now, on to your question, What’s the best way to track your staff’s work?  Several approaches can work. Before we jump into those, it’s worth asking the question, “What will you do with the data you gather about your staff’s work tasks?”

If you want to read the rest of my response, you’ll want to read the complete blog entry.

Dear TCEA Responds:

I am a new CTO/Tech Director and love this article at TCEA’s Technotes blog (First Things First). I need to better understand how my staff works. A part of that involves tracking their work to better understand the organization as you recommend. We have the break fix tracking software. I’m thinking more of something project oriented and time tracking. My concern is my coaches are spending too much time on fixing broken equipment and not enough on curriculum support. My network and hardware specialists may be spending too much time waiting for things to go down, if that makes sense. Do you have any software recommendations for doing that? Thanks, Mike

Dear Mike:

Thanks for the wonderful feedback about the First Things First blog entry. Now, on to your question, What’s the best way to track your staff’s work? Several approaches can work. Before we jump into those, it’s worth asking the question, “What will you do with the data you gather about your staff’s work tasks?” You need to ask that question. You can’t tell your end users (e.g. teachers, principals, central office staff) that your team needs to focus only on completing work orders. That would send the wrong message about your department’s customer service. You can provide valuable data and information to your stakeholders. Valuable information about their own practices can help them make connections about their own needs. It will also make it easier for your to provide informed customer service.

Providing the Best Customer Service

As a new CTO, put the following strategies in place. The strategies may better address the needs of those you serve. These strategies are multi-faceted and can help you overcome the challenges of a beginning CTO.

Strategy #1 – Implement a Single Point of Contact

tcea respondsEstablishing a single point of contact, such as an online system, eliminates the confusion that results from incoming phone calls or in-the-hallway interruptions. The main benefit is that it ensures prompt access for the end user, anytime and anywhere. This solution should meet the following criteria:

  • Work on a variety of devices, including iOS/Android devices
  • Allow for the end user to check the status of their problem
  • Email-to-ticket conversion
  • Active Directory and LDAP authentication
  • Auto ticket routing
  • Parent/child ticket mapping
  • Balancing/re-assigning tickets
  • Graphs and reporting
  • Ability to rank the importance of incoming calls
  • Make it easy to set up types or categories of work orders that are understandable to end users

A few possible solutions widely used in Texas school districts include:

Of course, you can also take advantage of free solutions, such as Google Forms and/or Microsoft Forms.

Strategy #2 – Differentiate Between Jobs

If your instructional technologists, a.k.a. digital coaches, are performing technical support, why are technicians needed? Or if technicians are serving as digital coaches impacting instruction, the district is wasting critical funding. While it’s nice to have a jack-of-all trades staff member, you need to remember that the more specialized your team members are, the better it is for your district. Instructional technologists and technicians should train together, learn new technologies, and be able to solve problems. When you do this, you are growing future CTOs. But if a significant amount of time is spent with crossover duties, then you are under or over paying someone. Here is one example document aligned to Texas objectives: tcea responds Below is another example from Beaverton Public Schools (Oregon-based): tcea responds These charts establish a clear separation of the work to be done and better define the job roles. Communicate this information to all stakeholders. Sharing this information on social media, at superintendent’s cabinet and principals’ meetings, can speed this process.

Strategy #3 – Clarify Expectations for Response Times

Defining job roles is insufficient. In addition, you need to set up a service level agreement (SLA). This agreement lets everyone know what is critical and what is not. Without an SLA in place, you will have technicians running from one campus to district office, then back again. Is a computer lab top priority at the high school or is the superintendent’s locked iPad top priority? tcea responds

Final Thoughts

As you plan, remember the cardinal principle of your work: relationships matter. Move forward with care, building and deepening relationships as you go. Cut loose those on your team who refuse to embrace better customer service for those you serve. Be transparent about what you do, and revisit those SLAs. Be fearless in holding yourself accountable and make it safe for your team to hold themselves accountable.  

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure