Broken Ankle – Post #1

15 03 2010

In case you missed it, I broke my ankle on March 10th while playing hockey.  I’m normally playing left wing, and was racing in the zone with my right wing who had the puck poke-checked away.  It was still in our zone on the right side near the blue line, so I raced over for the keep-in since the other players were back in the neutral zone.

I was heading in perpendicular to the boards and about 5ft out I began to stop.  Trouble emerged when the D trying to go for the puck accidentally got their blade under my left skate.  This killed the resistance on the ice from my skate and shot my left skate toward the boards while my stance was still in the “stopping” crouch.  Because of that, my balance got thrown off backwards away from the boards, but my skate was still pinned against the boards as I fell back.

As soon as I hit the ice, I knew something wasn’t right, and I initially thought it was a sprain since I felt something in my left stretch out.  My teammates helped me off the ice to the bench.  About two minutes after sitting and swearing a few times, I walked to the locker room … SLOWLY.  I think it took me about three min to get 200 ft.  Unlaced skate, and luckily, I had some wrap in my bag, so I put that on and went home.  While home I iced it about 20 min on and off for 2 hours, elevated and went to bed.

Thursday morning came around and with nothing different, and slated to be out of town playing hockey in Columbus, OH for the weekend (I still went, but was sidelined) figured I would get it checked out.  Sure enough, after the trip to the ER, I came back with a nice looking x-ray and a fractured left fibula.

So, it is Monday now following the injury and have an appointment with an orthopedic doctor on    Wednesday.  I’ll get some more info at that time on recovery, but being active and relatively self-sufficient, I can’t tell you how much this puts a damper on just day-to-day activities; like getting a cup of coffee.

I’ll try and post some updates here and there, but I’d love to hear from you if you have a story to share, questions, or just words of encouragement.

Thanks for reading!


Managed Preferences + HTTPS redirects

18 02 2010

I’ve been using Managed Preferences in OS X Server to manage our student computers.  Many of the settings are in place to help protect students and keep them on task.  One newer item within Managed Preferences pertains to the ability to control Family / Parental controls.  It would seem like a good idea to leverage some of these settings to further keep objectionable content, as outlined in our AUP, from reaching students.  While using these, I ran into an issue where pages were not redirecting properly with HTTPS traffic for students in a managed workgroup.  Once changing these settings, all worked well.  So, what were the changes?

In the preference domain:

Change the following keys:

restrictWeb to false

useContentFilter to false

Once those changes were applied by a user re-logging in, all was happy.

Looking back at MacWorld

15 02 2010

31,000ft provides an excellent environment for a variety of activities.  Looking out the window at the span of land below.  Pushing the little button on the left of your armrest, and tilting back the seat to catch a bit of sleep while hopefully not annoying the fellow air traveler behind you.  Perusing the latest edition of SkyMall and chuckling while wondering who buys some of these items, and seeing great fits for other products.  I, on the other hand, decided to try something different.  Plug in the iPod, fire up the laptop, and use the setting of 31,000 feet as a venue to reflect from an S-80 distance on my experience being part of the conference faculty at MacWorld.  I could write in 5,000 words all my feelings, but there are a few resonating moments worth mentioning.

The conference planners did a great job on taking care of speakers.  And speaking of speakers, to those of you I met, it was a pleasure.  Getting to know other Apple professionals from around the country on a peer-level was excellent.  Each of you has a unique story to tell, a tool-kit of skills, and a perspective backed by experiential knowledge that cannot be quantified by gross earning, salary, or job title.  My co-presenters Ben Greisler and Gerard Hickey; it was an awesome experience to work with you on this project.  I also need to thank Ben and Arek Dreyer for not only asking me to take part but for providing encouragement and giving me some great advice.

Prior to MacWorld and actually setting foot on our stage, I knew it was a privilege to be speaking to others in the MacIT track of MacWorld.  Once you walk into your room and step foot on the stage and survey the soon-to-be filled chairs and tables, the tangibility of the event hits.  Attendees are here with a purpose; they want to learn.  Ben, Gerard and myself had the topic of “Mac Enterprise Integration” and our job was to pick from the wealth of information on this encompassing topic a total of twelve hours to share.  I think of all the content on the web, in books, mailing lists, forums, and to pick only twelve hours is a challenge.  However, that is our job; a job we all wanted to do right.  Our purpose?  To have our attendees leave our session feeling they got excellent value and could apply concepts in their environments.

To attendees, I want to thank you for putting the energy forth to become a better Mac professional.  One story struck and stuck with me from the week.  There was a gentleman who has attended MacWorld for over twenty years.  A University employs him.  It was a story that had reactions on the same topic diverging in two different directions.  One of those was a sense of disappointment in the lack of organizational support in the form of professional betterment toward learning and updating skills.  Contrasting this view was the commendable dedication toward learning.  So, what is the story eliciting these thoughts?  Four of the last seven years he has paid out of his own pocket to attend MacWorld.  Not only does this include airfare from the Midwest and lodging, but utilizing well-earned vacation time to attend.  I can think of a lot of people, especially in this economy, where, if not receiving some assistant from their employer, would not even consider spending money out-of-pocket for something work-related.  Tuesday to Saturday in San Francisco is not cheap.  And he was willing to sacrifice his own money and his own time to attend.  Bravo.

When writing, some have said the setting makes a difference.  Some prefer quiet; Hemmingway had his own preference, others, noise.  And my current altitude is a fitting venue.  From 5.9 miles in the air with the gentile hum of engines, the flips of pages, creaking of tray-tables and clicks of my own and others keyboards is what it meant to me and what I learned from being a presenter.  One trait I found to be true amongst all the presenters was the attitude toward helping others.  Not only from the simple standpoint of creating content for a 90-minute, or one day, or two day session, but being approachable to others and willing to share knowledge; quite simply, to be teachers and resources to others.  Some of us have made this journey and have the scars, grey hair, lessons and pitfalls to prove.  The conference faculty was willing to help others avoid those four items.  I feel great to be included in this caliber of professionals.

To present at MacWorld, one needs to prove their value and commitment to the larger community; you don’t just get picked at random.  Stepping from the role of consumer of information to creator and disseminator requires a different demeanor.  You are not necessarily viewed as the person who presenting a specific topic, but a representative of the presenter body as a whole.  People approach you to ask questions, share their thoughts, and offer improvements.  Being supportive of other speakers, offering insight to attendees, and valuing all conversations is part of the job.  I got some great tips from Arek on this.  Thanks.

That puts me at the point of reflection where you think about what you did, how it went, and what to do differently for the future.  I would love to be on a flight from San Francisco to snowy Chicago at MacWorld time next year.  I’d love the chance to share and facilitate sharing from others what they have learned.  Given the chance to do the presentation again, my goal is to make it better and more relevant.  I’m excited hoping I get the chance to catch up with attendees and others to hear about how they have grown.  There is great potential in the group of individuals I had the chance to meet.

In summary,thanks to all of those who made this happen.  To those who I had the chance to meet and work with, it was a pleasure to get to know you.  To attendees, keep up the great work, and keep learning.  Don’t be shy to ask questions and find resources that can aid you in acquiring new knowledge.  And don’t be afraid to share!  To myself, realize people view you in a different light than before.  To those who will be involved in MacWorld next year, I’d love to be back.

Oh, and to myself again, good job on your presentation.

Looking ahead to MacWorld

2 02 2010

As I glanced out my window here at work and watched the snow tumble from the sky, I couldn’t help but think how nice it will be to be in San Francisco in a week.  Then it hit me; this is a conference where I’m not only consuming techie-tidbits, but creating and disseminating these same über-techie bits of information.  The conference is MacWorld.  The topic is Enterprise Mac Integration.  As I imagine co-presenting a two-day session on this topic, I’m met with excitement, anxiety, and privilege.

Excitement is there because I’m going to be presenting.  Framing knowledge in a way to disseminate to others, and being looked at as a subject-matter expert is exciting.  If you have ever had that moment at work where you get show off a technology, or be the go-to person on a topic you care about, you know the feeling.  People are looking at you for the answer.  Not only am I excited about actually presenting at this conference, but also taking an active role in helping individuals acquire knowledge.  Likewise, there will be other sessions where I’ll be able to learn from experts and hear an alternative view on a topic I work with.  The best ideas come from a blending of real-world application knowledge with other’s general abstractions you can bend and apply to real situations.

A sense of anxiety is present as well.  When talking to 30-40 people on a topic where you are the expert, expectations need to be met so attendees walk away with a positive experience.  There also is the fact that when presenting, you are not “The school tech guy” but you are there as yourself, representing your tech image to others.  The last thing one wants to do is let people down and leave a conference where someone remembers you as “That guy from the session was not a really good speaker”

Finally, is the aspect of privilege.  Being given the chance at a conference such as MacWorld to be included as a speaker is awesome .  When you look at all the expertise from mailing lists, tech writers, and other professionals, being called upon is, simply, an honor.  Frame it this way, of all the Mac professionals out there, you were chosen!

I’m looking forward to what the week will bring as far as networking, presentation experience, and learning.  Look for a reflection entry in the coming weeks!

Presentation on Technology in Education

15 01 2010

In January of 2010, I had the chance to put together a presentation to a graduate class at Keller Graduate School of Management.  The course was entitled “Technology in Education” and students in the class are working toward their IL Type 75 Administrative Certification.  (I recently completed my MBA with a Management of Public and Private K-12 Educational System concentration from the school)   This gave me an opportunity to reflect on aspects of my job and share those with to-be school administrators.  It also presented the chance to reflect and find research on instructional aspects of technology.  Not only was it a valuable experience to present this to others in a comprehensive manner, but it required time spent on finding ways to illustrate how the components relate to school operations and instruction.

A really great discussion spurred from, and during, the presentation where students asked questions that were relevant to their own experiences and shared their thoughts.  It was a highly worthwhile experience both to create the presentation and to see the enthusiasm and nods in the audience.  I can’t wait to hear the ideas the students come up with in this class.  It makes me excited to see the enthusiasm and commitment to learning by the future of our educational leaders.

You can download a PDF version of the presentation here: EM514 Presentation

As always, comments and thoughts are welcome!

Viewing applied MCX Settings

7 01 2010

Chances are if you have worked with Client Management on OS X (called MCX) you’ve wanted to test out settings and view what is actually being applied to the user / group / computer.  (From the Windows world, there is a MMC snapin, rsop.msc that you may be familiar with)  The tough part is you can’t really view these applied settings as they combine in Workgroup Manager.  The capability is there to view them on the user or the group or the computer or the computer list.  However, nested settings won’t show, and screenshots of settings are tough to work through, especially when you are using nested groups and computer lists.

Viewing the local files in /Library/Managed Preferences will show you the applied plists per user and for the machine.  But again, it is tough to figure out how these all apply and overlap.  This is where the mcxquery command proves to be very useful.  Even better, the tool has a GUI wrapper for when you are not feeling in the mood for CLI butteryness.  The difference, however, lies in the requirements.

To view the settings in a GUI form, you will need to be logged in to the workstation with the account you are interested in checking out.  This works well on one account.  To view the settings, open System Profiler (Apple Menu -> About this Mac -> More Info)  Along the left, under Software, is a heading Managed Client.  Clicking in this will traverse settings and display them with disclosure triangles for each preference key, the settings applicable, and from where the preference originates.  An excellent to see what is being applied and from where.

The CLI method to this tool is simply:

mcxquery -user USER -group GROUP -computer COMPUTER

With this command, you specify the user, group, and computer to view the settings.  The benefit with this method is you don’t need the user password or the specific computer to view applied settings.  The user must be a member of the specified group, and you define the computer with either the UUID, mac address, or record name.  If a computer is not specified, the computer in which the command is executed will be used. Once using this command, you will see in one terminal window all settings via key.

These are great tools use for viewing MCX settings and “seeing” the result of nested groups.

Is there a favorite tool or another approach you utilize to view your managed settings?  I’d love to hear about them!

Using OpenDirectory Computer lists with Apple Remote Desktop

23 11 2009

A long requested feature that I’ve wanted to see in ARD that emerged in version 3.2 (I believe) is to utilize OpenDirectory computer lists for my ARD administrator’s workstation.  A benefit to using this setup is a better management workflow.  Simply put, it is better to do a process once and have it propagate through all management tasks.

How does this work?  It require three items:

  1. An OpenDirectory System
  2. WorkGroup Manager
  3. Apple Remote Desktop

To start out, you will want to build a computer list in at least 10.5 via WorkGroup Manager.  You can not use a 10.4 computer list and upgrade it.  The reasoning behind this pertains to the directory services schema structure.  In 10.4, computer groups were stored in cn=computer_groups,dc=your,dc=domain.  In 10.5+, this was changed to a more robust computer list stored in cn=computer_lists,dc=your,dc=domain.  While you can change Directory Utility mappings and object classes, this is not recommended as this will impact WorkGroup Manager.

Ideally, all computers coming into your organization will automatically be added or bound to Open Directory.  This allows for managed client settings to be grouped and applied to computers in various methods, such as nested groups.  In addition to giving you a benefit of computer management via policies, these computer lists can now be leveraged in Apple Remote Desktop.

To complete the linking of ARD to OpenDirectory, open ARD and create  a new scanner.  From the scanner type, select “Directory Service”.  ARD will now query your OpenDirectory system via APIs and return a listing of computer lists.  You will need to ensure  computers  already exit in your “All Computers” list, but this will allow for a much easier route to create and utilize existing groups in your computer management process.