Following the recent notice from Microsoft of the imminent demise of Windows Live Messenger (AKA: MSN), and the additional challenges that schools may face when asked to deploy Skype as the alternative, Atomwide is pleased to make Atomwide Chat available to full USO-subscribing schools at no additional charge.
Operating in a similar, and hence familiar, manner to MSN or Windows Messaging, Atomwide Chat is an authenticated instant messaging service that can be used in schools, with access controlled via a USO account, and which keeps a secured history of conversations.
Atomwide Chat can be used in schools with a greater degree of security compared to publicly available messaging services, and access can be restricted to staff and/or pupil groups separately on a per school basis. Messages can be exchanged between any valid, and locally-enabled, USO accounts.
Users can access a simple web-based interface or install one of the several more feature-rich client applications that are available for most platforms, including PC and Mac, and many mobile devices.
Further details are available to USO Nominated Contacts via the Support Site User Guide.
The LGfL USO Support Site contains pages which can be viewed and acted on only by Headteachers. To assist Headteachers in finding all the relevant pages, they have been grouped together into logical cut down menus to be displayed via a simplified interface in the Support Site. The feature is designed to guide a Headteacher’s attention to only the pages, information, and decisions that are specifically related to, or dependent upon, them.
Some of the functionality available to Headteachers can be accessed and configured only by individuals with registered OTP tags. These are only required for individual processes that typically represent a network security risk, rather than a data protection one. Such services currently include the online signing up of Nominated Contacts and the request to give Option 2 status to a school.
The re-organised view of the support site can be accessed by clicking on the link titled “Switch to basic menus” which appears in the top line of the Support Site. The option may also be used by others to simplify their view and so is not actually labelled as being purely for Heads. The last mode of view chosen is ‘remembered’ for subsequent sessions. The link can be used to toggle between the two different views as needed.
Under USO Support Site
As part of schools’ LGfL 2.0 subscriptions in London, access is included to a wide range of premium software from commercial providers that would cost many thousands of pounds if purchased separately.
Some of these software packages have been enhanced to be “LGfL aware” – meaning that they include additional, unique features linked to a school’s staff and pupils’ USO accounts. For example, the popular website “MangaHigh” can “know” the names of a school’s classes, along with their teachers and pupils. This makes the process of setting up MangaHigh accounts automatic – a job that would otherwise be very time-consuming and require continual manual updating.
LGfL has established a “Federation” of carefully-selected partners that may be permitted to access USO data, and has strict rules in place to regulate this activity.
Access by Federation partners to each school’s data is managed through the Federation data release page of the LGfL USO Support Site, accessible only by the Head Teacher. The page summarises what, if any, data is available to which Federation partners and why. It also allows a Headteacher to switch on, or off, any data sharing links for their school.
In an environment containing machines running Windows XP, users may have had difficulties accessing LondonMail when using certain browsers. This issue is related to the blog post below regarding access to secure sites using Windows XP.
In order to grant access to LGfL-supported Microsoft services such as LondonMail, the relevant WebScreen 2.0 filtering policies need to have the Microsoft IP ranges added to the Allowed URL and keyword lists in those policies.
It is important to note that if you have previously allowed the category “Host is an IP” in your policies to overcome problems with accessing LondonMail, then you may wish to consider blocking this category once more to ensure maximum control of access to sites which may be accessed via IP addresses rather than more conventional URLs.
For full details and a list of the required IP ranges please see the WebScreen 2.0 FAQs section found in the Support Site User Guide.
Due to the way Microsoft XP interacts with various browsers, users of Internet Explorer, Chrome or Safari browsers on a workstation running Windows XP, are likely to experience an issue when trying to access https sites. Only this particular combination of technologies is affected due to the way Microsoft handles https sites in XP. Please note that Firefox users will NOT be affected in the same way as Firefox bypasses the built-in Microsoft XP routines. There are also no issues with any of the browsers in combination with a later version of Windows. The best long-term solution is to upgrade workstations to a later version of the operating system or use Firefox as the default browser.
Under XP, when browser requests to https sites are sent using the full standard URL, the URL gets translated to the IP address of that site before it reaches the filtering system. Access to the site may then be denied unless the IP address has been explicitly allowed.
For example: a request to visit
is presented to the filtering system as a request for
Further complications may arise when destination sites have multiple IP address possibilities as they are hosted on multiple servers. So the above example could appear as
depending upon the address to which the URL translates at the time.
As a result, to ensure that an https site is allowed/blocked correctly for those using the XP system with one of the affected browsers, the URL and any IP addresses belonging to the site should be added to the appropriate filtering policy. This approach is effective in situations where target websites are hosted on single IP addresses that can be identified relatively easily, either by pinging the target URL and making note of the IP address returned or by a careful examination of the reports available under the Webscreen 2.0 interface on the USO support site.
It should be noted that although the category “Host is an IP” can be allowed, this results in any https site becoming accessible.
Since receiving their new LGfL 2.0 connections, many schools have been interested in testing their connection speed and running speed tests online as a result. However, obtaining accurate and meaningful speed test results is often not straightforward. The document available here offers a guide to running meaningful tests and interpreting the results.
Please note that to access the document you will need to log in with your USO credentials.
Under LGfL 2.0
In a change designed to assist establishments unable to use either USO-AutoUpdate or GroupCall to automate the management of staff and pupil USO user accounts, Atomwide has made changes to the bulk user request process. This is designed to improve data security, safe-guarding, and the accuracy of user data.
From today, newly-submitted bulk request spreadsheets must contain user details for the whole establishment (all staff entitled to a USO account, all students, or all entitled staff and students) with certain fields mandatory. It is anticipated that the fields in the spreadsheet will normally be populated with data derived from the establishment’s MIS, using its in-built export facilities.
Whole establishment spreadsheets uploaded via the support site will be put in the same automated queue for overnight processing that is used by the fully-automated MIS export systems. The results of the processing will then be made available on the User Accounts : Whole school bulk results page of the support site.
Wherever possible, USO-AutoUpdate software should be used instead of the manual process described above as AutoUpdate automatically exports user data from a establishment’s MIS, guaranteeing that USO account data is accurate and up-to-date.
Any questions about AutoUpdate or the all-school bulk update process should be raised via a support case. Full details regarding the installation of USO-AutoUpdate can be found in the Help section of the support site.
Following the roll-out of MailProtect 2.0 in LGfL, the existing LGfL filtering system (known as the ECC) is being decommissioned today (23 July 2012), as scheduled and previously announced.
All schools who needed to change their settings to ensure their email service continued without interruption have previously received instructions by email and/or cases on the support site regarding changing their settings to work with MailProtect 2.0 in preparation for the switchover.
From today, schools that have previously used the ECC but have not yet migrated to the MailProtect 2.0 system will be unable to send or receive mail. In such schools users attempting to send an email via the ECC will receive an automated message informing them that the service is not available. Anyone attempting to send mail from outside into the school will receive the same message and emails will not get through.
If you are trying to email someone in a school and receive a message saying that your email has been rejected, please contact the school via alternative means to alert them of the problem.
If your email service has stopped working under the circumstances outlined above please contact the LGfL Support Desk by updating a previously opened case on this topic on the USO support site (or raising a new case if no current case exists).
MailProtect 2.0, from Atomwide, is now in widespread service, offering new functionality, and protecting users in around 2,500 UK schools from email-borne spam, viruses, porn and abuse.
RBC, LA and school staff account holders using Atomwide USO, or LGfL USO, can log into their relevant MailProtect website at:
…and view a log of scanned messages relating to any of their personal email addresses that are authenticated via USO. The details of any emails blocked by MailProtect can be examined, and “false positives” can be released (unless they are believed to contain viruses). In addition, these users can add trusted senders to a personal “allow” list so that future messages are exempt from spam checks, and/or opt to receive daily “spam digest” emails which offer proactive notification about blocked messages.
USO Nominated Contacts with appropriate “mail domain administrator” permissions can use the same web site to release blocked messages on behalf of any of their users, and configure domain or establishment level “allow” lists.
More features are currently under development which we look forward to announcing over the coming weeks.
Major changes to the way the Youtube safesearch facility operates (implemented by its owner Google) have meant that, for the last few months, it has not been possible to enforce Youtube safesearch through filtering policies configured in WebScreen 2.0. Safesearch could be configured within the Youtube site but this would have to be done on an individual basis for all users.
However, we are pleased to announce that, as of 8 March 2012, work carried out by Atomwide and its technology partners once again makes it possible to enforce safesearch within the youtube.com site by switching on the safesearch functionality within the relevant filtering policy.
Under WebScreen 2.0
USO-AutoUpdate for Serco Facility CMIS has successfully finished a run of beta trials and is now on full release to schools signed up to LGfL 2.0 at no additional cost. Schools using CMIS can install USO-AutoUpdate to automate the export of data from their MIS directly into the LGfL USO, affording them better controlled and more secure access to London Grid for Learning content and services.
To obtain the software, a school’s Nominated Contact can access the installation guide from the LGfL Support Site User Guide, which also contains the link for the software download.
For schools on the LGfL 2.0 network, a Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony service is available at a highly competitive price. The service is deployed through the use of an LGfL-licensed Cisco Unified Communications Server (formerly Call Manager system) so that schools wishing to make use of the service need only purchase the required number of Cisco IP handsets and select a service level needed by each handset. These can be obtained through LGfL/Atomwide.
The service has been available for several months and discounts of up to 20% on the originally published monthly subscription rates have recently been secured. Any schools investigating the possibility of a new phone system are welcome to visit Atomwide’s offices to see a fully configured suite of phones and discuss the school’s unique requirements to establish which phones and service levels may be needed.
To arrange a visit and demonstration please contact Atomwide on 01689 814700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information on Cisco VoIP telephony please see the LGfL flyer found here.
Under IP Telephony
Please feel free to visit the Atomwide stand and take the opportunity to speak to our staff about our products and services and to meet some of the Service Desk team.
We look forward to seeing you there and if you haven’t already registered for tickets for the show you can do so via this page.
In response to customer requests, the USO-AutoText email functionality has been upgraded to support the sending of attachments. Multiple attachments can be sent via a single email. This is done via the Add attachment button now found on the Email page within USO-AutoText.
The system can handle attachments of up to 20Mb although attachments of different sizes are sent in different ways. Attachments of 1Mb or smaller are attached to the email directly. Attachments larger than 1Mb are stored remotely and the email received by the user will contain a web link instead of the file itself. The recipient can then either click on the link(s) provided or copy and paste the link(s) into a browser and download the documents. Files are automatically removed from the server after 21 days.
Atomwide will be offering a half-day training course devoted specifically to configuring filtering settings using WebScreen 2.0 – the filtering system integrated with the LGfL 2.0 Virgin Media network. The course will offer an overview of system features and the opportunity to create filtering policies for IP-based and per-user based filtering during the session. A significant portion of time will be devoted to a question and answer session to ensure those attending attain a high level of understanding of how to best make use of the system.
The course is open only to Nominated Contacts from schools that have already switched over to the Virgin Media network or schools that have a confirmed installation date that is no later than one week after the course date. Those attending should ensure that filtering admin permissions are granted to their USO accounts prior to the course date.
Training will take place at Atomwide’s offices in Orpington on Thursday 3 November between 9.30am and 12.30pm. To book your place please visit the course bookings page in the LGfL USO support site.