Friday, November 15, 2013

Managing iOS Student Devices Remotely with VPP and Apple's Profile Manager

Next week is the annual CETPA conference ( and I’ll be doing a couple presentations with Burt Lo (@trubol) on managing student 1:1 iPad deployments using Apple’s new Mac OSX Server and Profile Manager. In case you can’t make it, or you want info in advance to see if you should attend...or in case the network were to die during my presentation, #RealReason, I’ve gone ahead a created a video tutorial.


The tools we are using to manage hundreds of student devices consist completely of Apple software. We do use Passenger,, to help create our student user lists for OS X Server ($60 - see their licensing page.) The Apple software and hardware we are using consist of a Mac Mini server, 2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, 8 GB of RAM, 250 GB SSD ($800), Apple Server OS X Server ($19 -, and Apple Configurator (Free (We boosted RAM in case we later want to use these Minis as app proxy servers.)

The key ingredient making this all work so easily are the changes to Apple’s Volume Purchase Program, VPP, and Apple IDs for students. More information about the new features can be found here: Currently Apple’s license allows for students under the age of 13 to have Apple IDs for educational purposes, however information regarding the process is currently limited. The iTunes user agreement states:

“This iTunes Service is only available for individuals aged 13 years or older, unless you are under 13 years old and your Apple ID was provided to you as a result of a request by an approved educational institution. If you are 13 or older but under the age of 18, you should review this Agreement with your parent or guardian to make sure that you and your parent or guardian understand it.”

It is recommended that schools communicate with parents as to the process and purpose for their child’s Apple ID, securing permission and consent before implementing.
The following (25 minute) video demonstrates the process for managing hundreds of iOS devices easily and economically.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Making with LiveCode - YouTube Playlist Broadcaster & Playlist Generator

It seems the answers to almost any questions these days can be found by simply querying Google. In the same way answers can be found in Google, Youtube videos, in the form of tutorials, can be found covering almost as many themes. One small drawback to using YouTube videos are the advertisements embedded within the videos and the sometimes unrelated video links that accompany the targeted video resources.

This weekend I worked on finishing up a little iOS app that hopefully well provide a way to utilize the useful video resources in YouTube and eliminate some of those niggling issues. My solution comes in the form of two iOS apps. The first is the YT Playlist Broadcaster and the second is the tool for generating the playlists. Both apps were created in LiveCode an authoring applications developed by RunRev. There are both commercial versions of the development tools and a free OpenSource Community Edition. Both versions create Windows, Macintosh, Linux, iOS and Android apps.

The YT Playlist Broadcaster utilizes both SQLite and mySQL database connections, was designed using the built in graphic capabilities of LiveCode and some additional imported graphics. LiveCode works in conjunction with OS X Developer tools to create standard iOS apps that can be deployed to an iOS device during development for testing and then distributed either through iOS Enterprise Developer license models or through the iOS App Store.

The YT Playlist Broadcaster allows a teacher to create a playlist of YouTube videos and eliminate the advertising and linking videos normally associated with YouTube videos. Students can take notes on the iPad while watching the assigned videos and videos can play full screen when not in note taking mode.

The iOS app used by teacher to create the playlist has been designed for simplicity. Teachers can create a playlist document, provide a short summary of the playlist and then add only the short unique address associated with the targeted YouTube videos. When playlists are complete the teachers simply supplies the unique playlist number identifier to the student which then can be plugged into the YT Playlist Broadcaster to access the video resources.

Later this month I will be presenting with @trubol (Burt Lo) at the annual CETPA conference in Pasadena. Be sure to check out our session on developing apps with LiveCode on Thursday at 3:30 in the Hands On Lab, Room 103.