Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

6.6 hours of my workday

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

While not the entirety of my day, this shows the excitement of an average day…

Ironically, the next day (today) I got a haircut, beard and all.

Latest Victory

Friday, June 8th, 2007

I’m always surprised at the reaction I get from clients when I come in and “save the day.” Even people who I feel have stronger skills in their niche will ask for me by name and drop praise on me when I finish. As much as I enjoy the confidence, I’m usually made uncomfortable by it.

My latest was at a client who only calls us for the really strange problems. He is very savvy and setup most of his systems by himself. The Macs live in an AD environment leveraging ADmit Mac and NetBoot for reimaging. He has just started adding in Intel Mac Pros into the mix and needed to create new netboot images for those machines. Strangely, the Intel Mac Pros would hang on the freshly created image. The boot pinwheel would just spin forever.


Problem solved…

Friday, June 1st, 2007

One of my clients had been having ongoing issues with their Xserve G5. Test after test, fix after fix and not only couldn’t I seem to get it permanently fixed, I couldn’t seem to find the root of the problem.


Catching up.

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

I just released some posts that have been sitting in the queue for quite some time. *clears throat* They were not as polished as I had intended them to be, but enough was enough. There will always be something else to write about.

Meanwhile, we have been very busy here at Stamm Business Technologies. Most notably, I just made the new StammWIKI live. It is very bare right now, but I’m hoping that we’ll be able to fill it up quickly.

I’m hoping that as I push the wiki, I can push a resurgence of blog posting as well.

Here’s to new wikies! *clink*

ClamXav: Easy, Free Mac Virus Scanning

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

With the most recent Mac Virus thats not a virus [] and my own dealing with pulling files, infected by PC viruses, off of unsuspecting Mac users hard drives, I have had to look for something to scan and remove files on the Mac. Currently there are several “Paid For” services available for the mac that are reasonably respectable, but with the current state of Mac viruses and my own one shot needs, I usually cannot recommend these solutions. Plus, they suck. In a corporate environment, they are a must, but for everyone else there had to be something else.

With Apple’s now not so recent move to OS X and the BSD sub-system the world of OSS has brought us a plethora of useful tools and once again, we’ll delve in and get a simple, free tool based on the popular OSS virus scanner clamav.

ClamXav is an Aqua interface for clamav. This gives it a pretty front end to its powerful backend along with a automatic graphical installer.

I was going to write a detailed report on ClamXav, but due to unforseen circumstances I was unable to complete the review. I still love ClamXav and whole heartedly endorse it.

To Live Another Day

Sunday, February 12th, 2006

I’ll admit, I checked on it more than once throughout the day.

glenn@stammdebian:~$ uptime
16:49:06 up 318 days, 4:27, load average: 0.07, 0.02, 0.00

We made it through. I don’t know how long the power was off, or if it was even off at all. We may have to go through this all over again next week if they didn’t finish.

Just another 47 days of worry…

We’re getting close!!!

Saturday, February 11th, 2006

Linux 2.4.18-bf2.4 #1 Son Apr 14 09:53:28 CEST 2002 i686 unknown

The programs included with the Debian GNU/Linux system are free software; the exact distribution terms for each program are described in the individual files in /usr/share/doc/*/copyright.

Debian GNU/Linux comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by applicable law.

Last login: Wed Feb 17 13:06:58 2006 from [obscured]
glenn@stammdebian:~$ uptime
14:49:53 up 317 days, 2:28, load average: 0.02, 0.04, 0.00

In just a few short month my precious little trooper of a Debian box will have been up, without a reboot, for a year.

Unfortunatly, in the infinte wisdom of those that be, our buildings power will be upgraded on Sunday.

This could easily be a much longer post as I describe my turmoil and the jeers of my fellow co-workers. I had gone so far as to consider renting a gas powered generator and babysitting the damn thing. Time and money have made this an overzealos plan.

Dave is going to power down the Stamm servers, like any other sane person would do and I am going to try to ride out the storm on the then nearly zero load UPS.

We’ll all find out on Monday whether or not it made it over the weekend.

317 days…

ChangeShortName: We All Need a Change Sometime.

Wednesday, February 1st, 2006

Macs have staying power. In an world where PC manufacturers want you to think that your PC is old in six months, Macs have a tendency to stay in use much longer. I still work on Graphite G4s that are being used for production.

Older Macs get passed down the food chain as the top users get new machines or get repurposed as RIP servers, scanning stations and file servers. They get new jobs and new users. Sometimes they even outlast the users.

No matter how old the computer, a faster one is always better and any user in his right mind would be remiss in turning one down. When they get that “new” Mac, they have a couple of options, somewhat based on time and available technical skill.

First, the new Mac can be wiped clean, with a fresh system and applications installed. This is great as it gives the user a fresh start, free of their old crufty data and OS quirks.

Next, the users previous Mac can be cloned to the “new” one, OS, applications, data and all. This is also great, as it give the user little or nothing to get used to with the new computer. In a later post, I’ll talk more about cloning along with its plusses and minuses.

Finally, and more to the point of this post, the user just takes over where the previous one left off. This happens a lot in situations where there is little time and experience available. Many times they do not even create a new user, especially where one person is taking over for another.

If the user is lucky (or if they manage to do it themselves), the long, descriptive user name will be changed to their name, giving them more of a feeling of ownership over their new workstation. However, Mac OS X will not allow you to change the short name for the user in the Users Preference Pane. There are many instances where this can become more than just a minor irritation.

Luckily, Dan Frakes comes to the rescue with a offshoot from his book Mac OS X Power Tools, Second Edition. ChangeShortName is a tool that allows you to update the short name for a user comprehensively and relatively safely.

There are some caveats, but for the most part it works very well, as long as you pay attention and think ahead. It is important to read the PDF that comes with it, however.

To run it:

First, download ChangeShortName.

ChangeShortName can be run directly from the mounted image.

ChangeShortName HelperI am usually partial to the Terminal, but in this case they have packaged a nice GUI interface, called ChangeShortName Helper, that does everything I need. If you are interested in using it from the Terminal, reference the PDF. Just launch ChangeShortName Helper, choose the username that you want to change and fill out the requested fields.

Change Short User Name script (v1.1.3)
Written by James Bucanek
Based on a procedure developed by Dan Frakes

Ready to rename account 'stamm' (stamm) to 'stammbt' (Stamm Business Technologies).
Proceed? (yes/no):

Type yes and hit enter.

You will now need to provide the password for account 'glenn'.
This account must have administrative access to proceed.

Enter your password and hit enter. You will not see your password or even the familiar bullets, so you have to trust your fingers.

NetInfo database 'local.nidb' backed up to 'local-ChangeShortNameBackup-2006Jan31-154213.nidump'
Values in NetInfo record '/users/stammbt' updated.
Group 'stamm' renamed to 'stammbt'.
Home directory renamed from /Users/stamm to /Users/stammbt
Reconfigured Personal Web Sharing.
ChangeShortName is now finished.
You may now close this Terminal window.

All Done!

If you changed the short name of the logged in user, log out and log back in to make the changes apparent and to keep the OS from getting too confused. Should ShortNameChange cause problems or become interupdted in the middle of the proccess, there is a repair function in both the command and the ShortNameChange Helper.

Developer’s Page
Download: ChangeShortName

AppleJack: The Better Placebo

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

Back in the Mac OS 9 days, one of the most overused troubleshooting tricks was rebuilding the Desktop Database. Users could be trained to hold down the option + command keys after a reboot (or for us impatient techs, after force quitting the Finder). You could have users run that to their hearts content. They get to feel like they can have control over their computers and an imagined boost in speed afterwards. Unfortunately it only had limited real technical value.

Much like rebuilding the Desktop Database, AppleJack is easy enough for most users to use after a little training. However, AppleJack is quite a bit more useful. In one sitting it can check the boot partition, repair permissions, clear cache file, replace bad preference files and remove swap files which can actually fix a long list of real problems.

After downloading and installing the package from the SourceForge project page, restart your computer and hold down the command + s keys to enter into single user mode. Once in single user mode you will see a helpful little message, as such:

For troubleshooting assistance, just type 'applejack' at the prompt

Its just as simple as that! I usually have users run the following:

# applejack AUTO restart

Everything runs automagically, and reboots after it finishes. Users love it because they have to remember very little to run it. Alternately, advanced users and technicians can just run:

# applejack

Which will give you a menu to manually run individual commands:

Enter the associated number or letter to select the next task.
It is strongly recommended you do them in the order listed!

[a] auto pilot. Script will do all tasks in sequence.

[1] repair disks
[2] repair permissions
[3] cleanup cache files
[4] validate preferences files
[5] remove swap files

Your choice (Just hit return to quit):

Most usefully when working in this mode are options [3] and [4] which give you the ability to not only clean and check the System but will also allow you to check on individual users on the system.

After going through all of the options, follow the prompts and reboot the computer, letting it boot up normally. You may notice that it takes a bit longer to go through the startup process as it recreates any cache files that may have been removed that the system uses. Overall, though, you should see an improvement in speed and stability.

Occasionally I will come across a Mac that has been upgraded to Tiger which is stuck on a desktop with no icons or menu bar, but the Spotlight icon is in the upper right corner. If left like that, it will just sit there indefinitely. AppleJack will fix this issue, though you may have to clear out the individual user’s cache files. But what do you do if you haven’t already loaded AppleJack?

My first thought was to boot into Target Disk Mode by holding down the T key during a reboot, but the AppleJack installer must be run from a working system. So I used to copy my laptop’s AppleJack installation (at least partially) to the TDM’d computer as such:

# sudo ditto -V /private/var/root/Library/Scripts
# sudo ditto -V /private/var/root/.profile

This is fine, but… I’m usually in too much of a hurry to copy the man pages, which users may want later. Plus, there is no receipt in the /System/Reciepts folder so Repair Permissions will not fix issues if there are any.

My next trick was to boot into Single User Mode and mount a USB pen drive. On another computer, copy the AppleJack.pkg file from the AppleJack-1.4.x.dmg onto a pen drive. Then run the following:

# /sbin/fsck -y
# mount -uw /
# mkdir /Volumes/pendrive
# mount -t hfs /dev/disk[x]s[x] /Volumes/pendrive

In the above, replace disk[x]s[x] with the device label of your pen drive. (ex. disk1s1) You may have to ls the /dev directory before and after you insert the pen drive to find the label.

Once the pen drive is mounted run the following:

# /usr/sbin/installer -target / -pkg /Volumes/pendrive/AppleJack.pkg

Now, Applejack should be fully installed. Reboot the system and enter back into Single User Mode to run AppleJack.

Users often ask me how often they should run AppleJack on their systems. I try to be a little vague, telling them that they should run it whenever they feel like the system is dragging or it just seems to have a general malaise. Once a month should be plenty. If you are running it too often, it may indicate a problem.

Lately, I have been installing it every Mac I sit down in front of. It has gained high rankings in my personal set of software tools and I encourage you to try it out.

Developer Page: AppleJack Project Page
Download: SourceForge

What is this place?

Friday, January 20th, 2006

Well, this is one of the several Stamm tech blogs. This one is me, Glenn. Some of them are private some of them are public. These are places for us, as members of Stamm Business Technologies, to keep notes, musings and to share some of our knowledge. Each of us has our own skill-sets and our own perspectives.

Maybe this will catch on, maybe it won’t. Who knows…

As a note, each of these blogs, while being hosted by Stamm Business Technologies and produced by employees of Stamm Business Technologies, the views expressed within are net expressly the views of Stamm Business Technologies.

EDIT: This is an import (along with a handful of other posts) from a failed effort to get a company blog site up and running.