Twin Cities Mac Admins Directory

Sven Goolie - Chief CluckWhen the Steering Committee formed Twin Cities Mac Admins, our sole mission was to bring similar professionals together and share experiences. To help everyone get to know their fellow Mac admins, we’ve added a directory to the site.

Public, private and preferences

The directory allows folks who joins to publicly display information about themselves. Optionally, they can still join and choose to keep their information private.

Just as important, it allows members to post their preferences for future meetups without having to answer a survey every month. Can you only meet Tuesdays from 3:00-5:00 p.m. and Wednesdays from 5:00-10:00 p.m.? Are you interested in Security and Servers but not iOS?

As preferences change, members can update their profiles to let the Steering Committee know. We’ll try to accommodate those beer league softball games every Thursday during the summer.

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‘Show us your Self Service!’

Meetup – May 21, 2015

mono officeMeetup Notes

For one night in May, Mac admins watch over the Twin Cities, so criminals will have a reason to be afraid of the dark. Of the air. Of the knights of the server room. (Too dramatic?)

Come to our meetup this month for a fantastic 360 degree view of the Twin Cities! Our host is mono, an advertising, creative and design firm for clients such as Target, the NHL and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. Their office is on the top floor of the MoZaic Art Park building in Uptown.

We’re also taking a slight detour this time from one or two presentations to multiple mini presentations. By you! The theme is “Show us your Self Service!”

While we’ve avoided turning Twin Cities Mac Admins into a Casper User Group (we’re certainly in JAMF Software territory), we haven’t yet had a presentation about Casper. Self Service is one of Casper’s most popular features, empowering users to do administrative things without an administrator.

If you’re using Self Service to do more than install applications and printers, take five minutes and share your workflow! And learn how your fellow Mac admins are creatively using Self Service in their environments.

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Free Doughnuts at Doug's desk

MacID simplifies authentication and increases security

Did someone say donuts?In a former life the IT group for my company policed itself using public shaming.

Our security policy mandated anyone leaving proximity of his computer was to lock his computer. This was easy to do on Windows—just press Ctrl-Alt-Del followed by a return (Lock Computer). Anyone who found an unlocked computer without the owner nearby would open a new mail message, address it to the entire department and put in the subject line something like “Free doughnuts at Doug’s desk!!!”

Aaaaaand send.

Generally, this happened no more than once per person. No doughnuts meant having to explain poor security practices. I quickly learned to lock my computer when stepping away from my desk (not that anyone ever sent a message through my email account).

‘With great security comes great inconvenience.’

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Rootpipe, iOS Support Matrix, Darwin Nuke and more...

Meetup notes – April 23, 2015

April meetup geographicsEarly Thursday, I checked RSVPs for our April meetup and looked at the map plotting attendee geography. We’ve been using EventBrite the past few events and it’s worked really well for us. Part of its benefit to organizers is it gathers basic location information based on the IP address where folks register.

We’re Twin Cities Mac Admins, so I gathered we’d attract folks from the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. But some of those little blue dots on the map were from at least a couple hours away. A further blue dot was from Chicago.

I arrived before the event to find a couple of early arrivals and sat down with them. One I knew from past events and one was new. These were a couple of Mac admins who took time to travel and join us from southern Minnesota and Wisconsin. I learned later the Chicago blue dot was a JAMF in town visiting the mothership.

To all of you who go out of your way to join us from near and far, thanks for coming and being part of the community! We’ll do our best to make these events enjoyable and worth attending.

JAMF Software hosted our April meetup in its newly renovated Town Hall in its downtown Minneapolis office. Its Town Hall is a spacious area that’s as comfortable as a living room or a local pub. Thanks for hosting, the pizza and beverages and letting us hang out afterward! Why is it everyone tends to eventually gather in the kitchen?

Thanks, Blaine MattsonBryson and the rest of the office for welcoming us, hanging out with us and letting everyone tour your new spaces.

Notes

We set a record with 37 folks attending. Better meetup day—check. Food and beverages—check. Cool venue—check.

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Professional Training

Access over 7000 Lynda.com IT video tutorials for free

Library avatarTechnical training isn’t cheap. A week-long instructor led course often averages $2000 or more and doesn’t include transportation and lodging expenses if traveling. Self-paced online courses are generally much less expensive and accessible any time day or night.

For 20 years Lynda.com has provided online video training for professionals in IT and other professions. An individual subscription costs $25-$37.50 per month or $250-$375.00 per year.

Twin Cities library card holders, however, can access content on their computers for free through custom links.

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‘Hello, World!’

Meetup – April 23, 2015

Meetup Notes

Spring is the season of new things and first steps. For a new scripter or even an experienced scripter learning a new language, the first code he learns to write is traditionally “Hello, World!”. The syntax in any language is usually very simple but the result is gratifying. OK, Step 1—done. And it’s not so hard. (Insert song from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” here.)

We’re returning to scripting again for April’s meetup but with a slight twist. Our presenter covers the why and what more than the how. See our agenda below.

JAMF Software Town Hall

And speaking of new things, our April venue is brand new. Like, just-finished-this-week brand new! JAMF Software’s renovated Town Hall is large enough for the entire Minneapolis office to gather together for its weekly Monday morning all company updates.

The space has a retractable main screen and two hanging TVs on either side of the room, each with its own Apple TV for wireless screen sharing. And the ceiling holds 24 speakers connected to a wireless microphone system.

We’re happy to be one of the first groups outside JAMF Software to visit the new area in downtown Minneapolis’ Grain Exchange building. If you were able to attend our February meetup then you already know where to go.

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Back up OS X Server settings with Bender

BenderForget Computers is an IT consultancy based in Chicago with a focus on supporting Apple products primarily using JAMF Software’s Casper. And they clearly have a sense of humor when it comes to doing their jobs.

Bender is a free utility from Forget Computers to automate the backup of OS X Server settings. Backing up server settings is as important to a Mac admin as backing up a user’s data is to the user. When corruption or an accidental change compromises a server or just a service, restoring full service quickly is paramount. Bender is useful for server migrations too.

Bender’s install is very simple. It places a single binary in /usr/local/robotcloud and a launchd daemon to run that binary in the /Library/LaunchDaemons folder. The application places backups at the root of the boot drive when run. Backed up services include:

  • Open Directory
  • Serveradmin settings and Postgres databases
  • Profile Manager
  • Wiki

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Meetup notes – March 23, 2015

It sucks when the beer's all goneThe Foundation hosted our March meetup in its brand new office in downtown Minneapolis across the street from Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins.

Thanks go to Matt Woestehoff and the rest of the office for not only hosting but serving the group delicious craft beers from nearby brewpub The Freehouse.

Notes

RSVPs and turnout were down this month with 17 folks attending. Maybe it’s just a case of the Mondays—our last two meetups were on Mondays. We’re working to get venues that can host us other days too.

Introduction

Brad was master of ceremonies for the evening.

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WiFi Signal: Easy access to wireless information

WiFi SignalFor the past several months my work world has revolved around iPads and Wi-Fi. I’ve relied on Wi-Fi testing and diagnostics tools to verify strong signal strength and troubleshoot spotty areas.

WiFi Signal by Adrian Granados is a clean and well-designed dashboard for displaying detailed Wi-Fi information.

At a glance

Apple’s Wi-Fi status menu provides a simple list of nearby SSIDs and access to a handful of commands such as toggling Wi-Fi off and on. WiFi Signal doesn’t replace this part of the menu.

Press the Option key while clicking the Apple Wi-Fi status menu icon and it displays detailed information about the wireless connection including IP address, channel and signal strength. But the detail is flat, gray and offers no customization.

Granados’ tool instantly displays an easy to read dashboard that includes by default the SSID, wireless network band, channel, signal quality (with Excellent, Good and Poor ratings) and a historical graph. At a glance, I can get a real-time overview of my wireless network connection and information about my wireless access point.

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Meetup – March 23, 2015

Meetup notes

In celebration of the Spring Equinox we go in search of rainbows and unicorns through automation. (And we’re changing all hyperlinks on the site to green! Someone remind me later to reset them to #0044FF.)

Rainbows and unicorns

Automation takes time to plan and implement. But once in place it dramatically reduces the number of taps to prepare an iPad for a user or efficiently handles the tedium of downloading new software updates for Macs and preparing them for testing and distribution. As Brad likes to say, “I work hard at being lazy.”

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