lonely written words—are all you’ve got”

—Virginia Shea

“communication happens when I know you know what I know”


JNUC 2017: The Great Mac Admin Get-Together

JNUC 2017 appOur Marketing group at Jamf is busy putting the final polish on the silverware, pulling the plastic from the furniture, airing out the spare bedrooms in the Minneapolis Hyatt and making hotdish. Lots of hotdish.

Next week is JNUC 2017!

Minnesota’s state fair, one of the largest and best attended fairs in the U.S., is nicknamed the Great Minnesota Get-Together. For me, JNUC is the Great Mac Admin Get-Together. It’s the largest gathering of Mac and iOS administrators in the world with this year’s registration setting a new record at more than 1500 attendees from around the world.

The keynote on Tuesday morning at 9:00 a.m. CDT will be live-streamed for folks who can’t attend the conference. You can still be a part of the event remotely.

Get the app

In the span of three days (four if you’re a Jamf Integrator or Client Advisory Board member), Jamf and friends of Jamf are presenting over 100 sessions and mini events. If you haven’t already, get the conference app.

The first thing you should do is tap on the menu button in the upper left corner (those three horizontal lines), tap the settings button in the upper right corner (the cog wheel) and choose Edit Profile. For crying out loud, put something in there! And include a picture of yourself. Conferences are a great way to connect with people. Be sure to de-select the “Set Profile to Private” option to let folks find you. And the app allows for private messaging, even if you choose not to share too many details about yourself.

Explore the app. You can choose your sessions ahead of time and when the session is done, complete the survey at the bottom of the session window to give the presenters some kudos or constructive criticism. Connect the app to your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. If you post photos and messages through the app, they’ll appear on the media screens throughout the conference area.

For those who prefer not to tap in their life details on a small keyboard, sign up and sign in on your favorite Mac.

What’s the skinny for next week?

I’m looking forward to the whole conference, but here are a few events I’ll be sure to attend.

Meet and greet

Tuesday morning, I’ll be one of your official Walmart door greeters. That means I’ll be waking up around 5:00 a.m., hitting a nearby Starbucks for two venti chais and then driving to the Hyatt to arrive by 6:30 a.m. Just to meet you as you come in the door.

Open Distribution Server session

This session was just recently added to the schedule. Bryson Tyrrell will discuss his open source project Open Distribution Server (ODS) as a replacement for the Jamf Distribution Server (JDS) that Jamf is sunsetting.


MacAdmins Podcast LIVE @ JNUC 2017 mini event

Emily, James, Tom, Pepijn, Charles, and their guests will review the first day of JNUC and discuss other events in the Mac admin community. If you haven’t listened to their podcast, you’ll find it over at macadmins.org. Catch up on the 55 episodes you missed and then come the next one recorded LIVE!


Dinner with my peeps

JNUC is one of a couple times a year I get to see all or most of my co-workers in my group. We’ll go off to a local restaurant to talk shop and write some scripts or something. It’s what we do.

Moving Beyond “Once Per Computer” Workflows session

Hey, that’s me! I’m presenting this Expert session at 2:45 p.m. in the Northstar Ballroom. I like to sub-title my presentations sometimes. Here’s a slide to tease you.

Building your own Death Star with Legos


Modern Packaging and Distribution Workflows Panel

I’m really excited about this one because Jamf is bringing in some smart people to sit on this panel. Paul Bowden with Microsoft joined the Mac admin Slack community a couple years ago and probably has some of the best experience making a major software product meet our deployment and management needs. Along with Paul will be Ben Toms, who’s probably the only person to ever get away with displaying a porn star during a JNUC presentation. He’s also a Jamf Nation dean for his help on the forums. And Charles Edge… who doesn’t know Charles? He’s a prolific writer, speaker and great boss.


SplashBuddy JumpStart mini event

Here’s another one I’m really anxious to see. François Levaux-Tiffreau is presenting a 1-1/2 hour workshop on SplashBuddy. This is his open source project inspired by the IBM presentation at JNUC a couple years ago. As part of provisioning a device, SplashBuddy will appear to the end-user and provide a visually pleasing and informative messaging window that indicates progress as the device completes its setup.


Macbrained Twin Cities

Volunteer Time Off

One of the great things about working for Jamf is they encourage volunteering and they offer two days of volunteer time off to spend with any non-profit charitable organization. While we’re all together in town, my Professional Services group will spend a half day Friday volunteering at Second Harvest Heartland to pack food for families in need.

Macbrained Twin Cities Stickers

The best part of JNUC is getting to see old friends, make new ones, visit with my customers and hang-out with my PSE group. I love the energy and enthusiasm in the #jnuc channel on the MacAdmins Slack team. Come say hello! I’ll have some laptop stickers from our Macbrained Twin Cities group. Or find Brian LaShomb, Brad Schmidt, Bryson Tyrrell or John Wetter.

Come for JNUC. Stay for the tots.

Posting my PSU 2017 MacAdmins Conference presentation

Administering Office 2016 for Mac Part III

This was my fourth MacAdmins Conference, which means I’ve had the opportunity to attend half the conferences since it started in 2010. That’s not a record and I know plenty of folks who’ve attended most or all of them. But it does give me perspective to see some of its formula for success.

Invariably, a few of us will start a discussion after dinner and realize we’re the last ones left in the room. (Leslie, Bryce, Brad, Brian and Pete.)

Part of that formula is that it’s fairly eco-system agnostic. It doesn’t try to cater to people using Chef,

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Jamf AND not Jamf OR

I was a Jamf customer for nearly 10 years before becoming a JumpStart Integrator and later an employee. Friday’s release of a marketing piece (now retracted) comparing Jamf to free and open source software (FOSS) was a surprise to many Jamfs as well as the community at large. Don’t let this mistake set your opinion about Jamf’s culture and values.

How many remember Jamf when its employee total was two — just Chip Pearson and Zach Halmstad? I do. I remember meeting them at a local user group around 2005 where they were taking every advantage of opportunities and events

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Posting my PSU 2016 MacAdmins Conference presentation

Meeting Paul

Tech conferences are both energizing and exhausting at the same time. For five days at PSU 2016 MacAdmins Conference, I got to spend time with friends from here in the Twin Cities area, visit with long-distance friends (some I hadn’t seen in 2-3 years), eat lots of food, let someone else make the bed in the morning and absorb much smartness.

My favorite takeaway from this year, though, was getting to present a session about administering Office 2016 for Mac with Paul Bowden, a developer with Microsoft. He’s become a good friend over the past eight months since I first

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2015: The year of careers

Today, I start a new job with a new company. After more than three years with 318, Inc., as a consultant, I’m moving to Minneapolis-based JAMF Software as a Professional Services Engineer. JAMF is a company I’ve known more than 10 years with many people I’ve known nearly as long.

In a call with my former boss late last week, I told him coming to 318 was a needed kick in the seat of the pants for me. Ten years with my employer before that had made me complacent and I didn’t realize how much I needed a new challenge.

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Meeting Paul Bowden

MVP logo

Just a little more than a week ago, Paul Bowden introduce himself in the #microsoft-office channel of the Slack MacAdmins team:

Thanks to @talkingmoose for introducing me to the group. I was going to set my slack username to “Mr sudo $USER” but I’ll just have to plead for forgiveness from all of you and make it up by fixing this stuff. Do feel free to ping me with your top 3 wishes for installers and/or MAU. Thanks! Paul.

It was a perfect mix of levity, humility and outreach that started some amazing dialogue between Mac admins and Microsoft.

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Posting my PSU 2015 MacAdmins Conference presentations

Coffee mug

From the home office in Saint Paul, MN, I’m posting my PSU 2015 MacAdmins Conference presentations. Below are links to both PDFs as well as the original Keynote files, which include my notes and talking points.

The conference organizers recorded most of the sessions and will post them in a few weeks. I’ll add an update here letting folks know when they’re ready.

2016’s conference is scheduled for June 27-30 and I’m already planning to return. This event has become one of the highlights of my year working as a Mac admin.

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PSU MacAdmins II: Return to the very human tech conference

Late this afternoon I returned to State College, Pa., for my second Penn State MacAdmins Conference running through Friday of this week. In just a few minutes I was running into friends from last year and chatting like we were picking up on conversations from yesterday. The Mac Admin community is spread far and wide but at the same time it’s very close.

I remarked last year how this was a very human tech conference and attendees who heard me say that seemed to know exactly what I meant and they agreed. It feels like a family reunion.

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Rendering a tiny little underline more perfectly

What’s wrong with this sentence? Depending on your browser, maybe nothing at all.

Take a closer look.

Underlining was born on a typewriter. To underline text required typing the text first and then returning to the beginning of the word or line to overtype a series of underline characters. It was tedious work and the result was definitely function over form.

The ugly practice of underlining text carried over to the web and was adopted as the early moniker for identifying hyperlinks. Of all the typographic advancements such as typefaces, styling (bold, italic, etc.), font sizes and colors, underlining

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Posting Outlook for Mac Exchange Setup script survey results

Microsoft released Outlook 15 for Mac 3-1/2 months ago to its Office 365 Exchange Online customers. Prior to that I had some foresight this new version would break a script I wrote originally for Microsoft Entourage and later Outlook for Mac. The script enabled administrators to help their users configure Exchange settings in environments where Autodiscover didn’t work.

In early September 2014, I posted a survey and solicited responses from Mac admins who used this Exchange setup script in their environments. My goal was to learn how many organizations and users may be impacted and then communicate that to my

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