Author Archives: Mike Beckett

Interactive White Boards and Apple TVs; what is – and isn’t – possible wirelessly.

If you’re lucky enough to have one of the wall mounted Epson PowerLite 575W projectors with an Apple TV connected to it, you’re probably used to enjoying the wireless connection you can make to it from your laptop. The ability to share what’s on your laptop from wherever you are in the classroom is proving to be very popular!

It’s important to understand, then, that that level of wireless freedom doesn’t extend to old SMART, or new Promethean Interactive White Boards, even when an Apple TV is attached.

IWBs require not just the video connection that the Apple TV allows for, but also a USB connection, which lets you control your computer from the IWB itself when you “draw” on it. Unfortunately, there’s currently no cost-effective wireless solution available to us for that USB connection, which means you’ll be back to plugging in a couple of cables again. This will require the connecting laptop or computer to be setup beside the Promethean ActivBoard.

If you ever want to just show your laptop’s screen on the projector without using the ActivBoard to interact with it, you’ll still be able to do that wirelessly using AirPlay and your Apple TV as before, but be prepared to move and connect your laptop with the two provided cables when you’re using the ActivBoard itself.

If you’re buying a whole new ActivBoard system along with an Epson PowerLite 575W, you’ll want to understand this limitation, so you can make an educated decision on whether to buy an Apple TV for it or not.

On the one hand, the Apple TV will work just as well as it always has in allowing teachers to project what’s on their laptop, wirelessly, from anywhere in the room. On the other hand, if the intention is that the teacher is usually going to be connecting their laptop, with cables, to the Promethean ActivBoard at the front of the class, then the wireless functionality of the Apple TV may not be warranted.

Alternately, if teaching from their desk is preferred, those teachers may not take full advantage of an IWB like the Promethean ActivBoard, and may only need a projector with an Apple TV.

I recommend that administrators discuss the strengths, limitations and costs of either system with their teachers before placing their orders, to best manage expectations and budgetary constraints. If I can help to answer any questions that may come up about these two options, do file a Tech Purchase Request and I’ll be happy to lend a hand.

Best,
Mike Beckett

Checkerboard pattern when playing DVDs over AirPlay

If you have an Apple TV attached to a TV or projector in your classroom, you may have had trouble with some DVDs when using Apple DVD Player. You’ll see nothing on the TV or projector, and on the Mac you’ll see a checkerboard pattern where the video window should be.

This is a “feature” of Apple DVD Player, designed as a copy-protection measure. To make Hollywood movie studios happy and limit piracy, Apple prevents the transmission of copyrighted DVDs to AirPlay devices.

The easy workaround is to use VLC player instead; it should already be in your Applications folder. Simply drag your DVD on top of the VLC app, and it should start playing the DVD for you. Some versions seem to have trouble with audio. If you can’t hear audio on the TV or projector, just restart your Mac and try again; audio should now work correctly.

If you’re having any other problems with your Apple TV connecting with your Mac, please do file a work order and we’ll look after you as soon as we can.

Best,
Mike Beckett

Non-responsive Apple TV

If your Apple TV is not responding to button presses on its remote, but you can see that the little white light on the Apple TV flashes when you press a button, it may need to be “power cycled”, or turned off and then on again.

From time to time, Apple releases updates for your Apple TV’s operating system. Most of the Apple TVs in the District are set to automatically apply these updates when they become available. However, in some instances, the update doesn’t take and your Apple TV is left in the state described above.

All you need to do is disconnect the Apple TV’s power cable, either from the wall, or the back of the Apple TV (whichever is easier for you), and then plug it back in again. The Apple TV should finish booting up properly, at which point it will start working normally.

If not, do file a work order and we’ll stop by to check it out for you.

Best,
Mike Beckett

SMART Board and Epson projector alignment

Has the image on your SMART Board gone wonky? Is your SMART LightRaise 60wi no longer projecting a “square” image on your white board? Is your Epson showing something closer to a trapezoid than a rectangle?

We’re happy to fix this for you! Just file a work order under the Multimedia & A/V category, and we’ll come by and realign and recalibrate your system for you.

Please, don’t attempt to “straighten” the projector yourself. There are actually several adjustments to make, and some may be locked down. If you force the projector, you can strip the locking mechanism, necessitating costly repairs which would require your projector to be sent back to its manufacturer.

Best,
Mike Beckett