• 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. In my first month with 318, I learned more than I’d learned in the prior year.

    And while with 318, I had a wonderful and very rare opportunity to spend a year on a major iPad deployment project as an embedded engineer working on behalf of Apple. That gig came to a close this past August and then I returned to civilian life at 318. Half my time for the next few months was spent conducting Casper JumpStarts on behalf of JAMF and I really enjoyed that work. Moving to JAMF just makes sense. I’m proud to be a part of the 318 alumni who’ve gone on to work at Apple, Puppet Labs, Sony, Amazon and JAMF Software.

    However, I’m just one of several people where 2015 was a time for change. Through personal friendships and through the Twin Cities Mac Admins group that a few of us started last January, I know of six others who changed jobs.

    One moved to a different school district to take a management position.

    Another moved to a different school in a completely different country—Switzerland—for an opportunity to see the world.

    The third moved on to support a much larger group of Macs with a major retailer.

    One quit his company after 18 years to continue doing what he loves—development—at another organization with a very different and distributed work model.

    And the rest… went to JAMF, one of whom is starting his “zero month” with me today.

    These are all good moves. Everyone is moving on to a new challenge in one way or another. The best advice I ever received about changing jobs (and advice I pass along to anyone I know changing jobs) is “It’s not worth it if it doesn’t scare you a little.”

  • Meeting Paul Bowden

    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. (more…)

  • Posting my PSU 2015 MacAdmins Conference presentations

    Coffee mugFrom 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. (more…)

  • 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. (more…)

  • 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.

    Underlines in browsers

    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 was given the least amount of thought. Put a line under type.

    Wenting Zhang explains in less than 10 minutes what the perfect underline is on the web and how to render it more perfectly.


  • 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 contacts at Microsoft who developed Office for Mac.

    Below I describe the issue, present the survey results and include some information about what happens next. (more…)

  • Introducing Twin Cities Mac Admins

    cal jan 2015Humans are social creatures and last I checked most Mac Admins are humans.

    After a conference hallway conversation back in July followed by a Twitter discussion a couple weeks later, a few of us humans were meeting for beers to talk about putting together a Mac Admins group here in the Twin Cities. Some of us had never even met before then.

    Our first Twin Cities Mac Admins meeting is January 22nd—it’s been a long time coming since we announced it at the JAMF Nation User Conference last October.

    Who are we?

    Right now, we’re just five independent Mac admins who want to meet others in our field, talk a little shop and learn from the collective Mac Admin community in and around the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area. None of our employers is officially endorsing us and some of our bosses don’t even know we’re doing this yet.

    We are (on Twitter):

    brian Brian LaShomb
    brad Brad Schmidt
    bill William Smith
    bryson Bryson Tyrell
    john John Wetter

    Our first meeting

    Response to our January meeting announcement was better than expected. The venue is small and we’ve already reached capacity at 30 reservations. We’re learning from this, though, and already have our February location reserved. It should accommodate up to 50. We’ll find something bigger if necessary.

    Here’s our first event:

    Only your time.

    Date & time:
    January 22, 2015
    4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

    Uptown Apple Store
    Briefing Room, through the store and upstairs
    3018 Hennepin Avenue
    Minneapolis, MN 55408

    I suggest parking in the Calhoun Square parking ramp about a block away. It beats street parking.


    4:00-4:15 p.m. — Arrival and socializing

    We’re starting the event late afternoon to help attendees avoid rush hour. Future times will probably vary depending on the venue.

    4:15-4:30 p.m. — Introductions

    Bryson will kick off our first meeting, making introductions, and we’ll ask folks to introduce themselves too. We can do that since this will be a small gathering. He’ll explain our mission.

    4:30-5:00 p.m. — Apple presentation

    This is Apple’s venue. Only fair we give them some time to talk. Someone should ask if we’ll be able to apply configuration profiles to Apple Watches.

    5:00-5:30 p.m. — Open discussion of current news

    Part of any gathering is getting time to talk with each other. Brad and John will raise some topics relevant to Mac Admins today. We’ll open the floor for conversation, questions to the group and experiences solving issues.

    5:30-5:45 p.m. — Break (15 minutes)

    5:45-6:45 p.m. — Main presentation

    I’ll be reprising a presentation I gave at PSU Mac Admins in July. Attendees will learn why I carry a rubber chicken in my backpack.

    Mac management systems like Profile Manager and Casper include numerous built-in payloads enabling administrators to simply choose from a menu of configurable settings for their Macs. But these built-in payloads only manage Apple’s OS X system software such as the Finder, Mail, System Preferences and the login window.

    Profiles can also manage other Apple software such as iLife, iWork and Remote Desktop as well as non-Apple software such as Microsoft Office. With just a little extra effort an administrator can use profiles to disable application auto-updates, eliminate new setup and welcome screens, centrally manage antivirus settings and more.

    Learn the difference between centrally managing preferences and simply deploying default settings. This session will focus on the Custom Settings payload found in both Profile Manager and Casper and using it to manage preferences for non-system and third-party applications.

    6:45-7:00 p.m. — Wrap-up

    We’ll probably announce a location for getting dinner and a couple of beers after the meeting. If you can keep your evening open, we’d love to have time to mingle and get to meet everyone.

    We’ll also announce details about our February meeting including date, time and location.

    Calling for speakers and volunteers

    We’ll make more announcements later for anyone willing to help us prepare content, suggest discussion topics and present at meetings. Right now, we have a basic website running but hope to expand it for the needs of the Twin Cities Mac Admins community.


    Please contact us any time using our Twitter account @mspmacadmns (Twitter won’t let us use “admin” in our name) or send us a good old fashioned email at contact@mspmacadmins.org.

  • For Thanksgiving voyeurs

    GoProJobyTripodFrom the Department of Nothing Better To Do Department…

    While visiting with fellow Microsoft MVPs and developers a few weeks ago, I managed to snag a GoPro Hero3 camera. These are tiny little cameras bicyclists wear on their helmets to record their rides (or accidents with cars) or drivers mount on their dashboards to record their commutes (and maybe their accidents too).

    It’s a neat little gadget. It has its own built-in Wi-Fi to enable remote control and viewing using a phone. It has a micro-SD slot for storage and a USB port for charging or connecting directly to a computer. And it has several modes for very wide screen recording, normal 1080 resolution or even 60 FPS for slow-motion captures.

    Like all the good gadgets, it has (some optional) accessories too! The package included simple adhesive surface mounts with quick-release connectors and a water-proof (to 10 feet) enclosure. Along with the camera I received a chest-mount harness. Not sure what I’ll do with that yet but I can envision some creative uses.

    So what does someone like me do with a GoPro? I record myself preparing for Thanksgiving dinner. (more…)

  • Save up to $3.96 on tiny violin apps for iPhone

    Playing just for youMusic is a critical for situations where emotion is peaking—action movies, a night on the town, romantic encounters and even conversations with co-workers or friends who may be a little overly dramatic sometimes.

    Yesterday morning I started replying to a co-worker’s message. In it I found myself being a little overly dramatic myself. (Not unjustly.) “Well, OK,” I said. “Just making sure you haven’t forgotten me. I’m out here all alone, you know. All alone. You could probably use this by now:”

    Just after that colon was where I wanted to insert a link to Apple’s App Store for a tiny violin app. It was one of the first apps I ever downloaded on my iPhone and was indeed occasionally useful. In my search of the App Store I found not one but four tiny violin apps, each 99¢. Which to choose?

    Today, dear reader, let me help you save up to $4 when evaluating tiny violin apps for your iOS device. It’s the least I can do. I’m pretty sure of that. (more…)

  • Responses needed: Outlook for Mac Exchange Setup Script Survey

    Mac Admins, if you’re currently using any version of my Outlook for Mac Exchange Setup Script, I need your responses. The script I’m referencing is available at these two locations:

    Version 4.0.1 – http://www.officeformachelp.com/outlook/exchange/setup-script/
    Version 4.5.2 – https://github.com/talkingmoose/Outlook-Exchange-Setup

    Some planned changes in Outlook for Mac will break the automatic setup portion of the script and I will not be able to create a workaround for it. If you rely on this feature of the script, I need your help to inform Microsoft how many users will be affected by the changes. My goal is to show there is a need for automatic user configuration in Outlook for Mac when Autodiscover doesn’t work in an envronment. (Because I’m under a Non-Disclosure Agreement I cannot provide more detail than this.)

    I’ll be traveling to Redmond, WA, to visit with the Office for Mac development group at Microsoft in early November 2014. If the results of this survey indicate a strong need for another form of automatic setup for users other than Autodiscover, I will present the findings to them.

    Your personally identifiable responses will be confidential unless you otherwise approve me sharing with Microsoft.

    This survey closes October 31, 2014.

    I’ve posted the survey at OfficeforMacHelp.com as well. You only need respond just once.

    Thank you for your help!