How To: Cisco VPN with OS X Lion via .pcf File


With the introduction of Snow Leopard and Lion the Cisco VPN tool that I introduced our faculty to stopped working.  Or rather, it didn’t stop working but I no longer needed a third party app to connect with the schools network.  We mainly introduced the tool so faculty could work on their grades at home since the grade program was domain-based.  With the Cisco VPN client faculty were able to connect to school, login with their AD credentials and their computer would  ‘think’ it was on the school’s network.

When Snow Leopard came out it had the ability to make that connection within the operating system but I couldn’t figure out how to get it to work.  After a few half-hearted attempts to search for the answer on Google I finally searched in earnest, and the solution I found (and credit) can be found below.

  1. Make a VPN connection in your Network Preferences pane. Be sure to choose “Cisco IPsec” for the VPN Type.
  2. Enter your VPN server and credentials into the VPN Network Preferences. This will be your VPN username and password that your Network Admin gave you.
  3. Open the .pcf file in a text editor. Copy the text from the ‘enc_GroupPwd’ field, paste it into the form on this web site: and click ‘decode!’. Select and copy the text next to ‘clear:’ and go to the next step.
    (Note: if there isn’t anything in ‘enc_GroupPwd’ but there is something in ‘GroupPwd’ they you can skip this step. Just copy the text from ‘GroupPwd’)
  4. Go back to the Network Preferences panel and click on the “Authentication Settings…” button.
  5. Paste the text you copied from the decoding web site (or the ‘GroupPwd’ field of the .pcf file if you had that instead) into the ‘Shared Secret’ text box.
  6. Copy+Paste the text from the ‘GroupName’ field of the .pcf file into the ‘Group Name’ text box and click ‘OK’.
  7. Now you can try it out by clicking the ‘Connect’ button (and click ‘Apply’ if it asks which it probably will.)
Thanks to Michael Erb for finding this solution and posting it.


Google Apps

Google Apps for Education


When I first came to the Linsly School four years ago only ten of the faculty had email accounts from the school’s local internet provider.  At the time we were paying a large sum of money per month for a T1 line that gave us balanced bandwidth, albeit with slow speeds.  It was a priority to get email accounts to all faculty and administrators at the school if I was going to move ahead with any more technology initiatives.  Coming from a FirstClass school, I knew that our budget wasn’t going to allow for a robust email and conferencing software suite and we didn’t have the manpower to administer an Exchange server.   I have always loved Google and their products and have had a GMail account almost since it’s conception.  Enter Google Apps for Education.  The timing was perfect.  They were in their infancy and we had need of a robust, easily manageable software suite that included email and calendaring (I’ll get to the collaborative document sharing in another post).  We didn’t have anything to migrate as the faculty who had the old email accounts didn’t really use them.  Those that did were shown how to export their messages to be imported later.


Integrating Spotify and WordPress


While there is no direct way to currently embed spotify into your WordPress blog there is a workaround using Last.FM

  • Configure Spotify (Edit/Preferences/ scrobbling to and enter your details)
  • Install the media player  and keep both Spotify and running
  • Install the for WordPress plugin
  • Configure the plugin in your WordPress blog (Appearance/Widgets)
  • Set up your WordPress template to show the widget in ie the sidebar
  • The played tracks should show up

iPad initiative at the Linsly School


During the 2010 – 2011 school year, 20 iPads were given to the faculty through a variety of different sources of funding (grants, the LPA, etc).  We chose the iPad2 16GB wifi only model for our faculty as most of our storage was going to be through cloud services like Google Apps for Education and DropBox.

Year One
Faculty got to play with their new devices.  A few inservices were scheduled to collaborate on various tools the faculty have found and to discuss ways to use the iPads in the classroom.  Two scenarios were the focus:  The first being a teacher with the iPad and the students using the mobile laptop labs and the second being the teacher with an iPad and their class also having iPads.


Included Apps:
Pages (iTunes link)
Numbers (iTunes link)
Keynote (iTunes link)
iMovie (iTunes link)
iAnnotate PDF (iTunes link)
Evernote (iTunes link)
Instapaper (iTunes link)



Converting .acsm files into .epub


Our summer reading was the Blessing of a B Minus by Wendy Mogul.  I bought the book from Google books  for $10.99 in what I thought was the .epub format for use on my iPad, however when I got it it was in the .acsm format.  This is used by Adobe Digital Editions to send the activation ID to the delivery server which will use that ID to generate an encrypted PDF or ePUB eBook, which is then downloaded to your PC.  In short…I was able to open the book, but only via the Google Book reader.  So this is what I had to do…

I downloaded the free Adobe Digital Editions software and opened my digital purchase there.  I was then able to download the actual .epub format (it was stored in the folder ‘My Digital Editions” within “My Documents”) and import it into Calibre, my book server.  From Calibre it was an easy task to download my new book right to my iPad wirelessly.

Syncing iPad 2 with your Google Apps for Education calendar


If you use Google Apps, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Safari browser on your phone and go to
  2. Click on Google Apps user? at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Enter your domain name (e.g.,
  4. Click the Sync icon in your domain area (this section has a green background).
  5. Sign in if required.
  6. Select your device to configure Calendars.

July Playlist



July Playlist



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