iphone_homeApple’s recently released iPhone OS 3.1 has caused headaches & more than a little confusion for some users with Microsoft Exchange accounts. While the OS 3.1 update improves security policy adherence for iPhones when connecting to Exchange Servers, it also has the unfortunate side effect of breaking security compatibility with pre-3GS iPhones & all but the most recent iPod touches. The end result: many iPhone users who upgraded to OS 3.1 suddenly fond they could no longer sync with any Exchange Servers!

Fortunately, the synchronization issue is limited to Exchange 2007 Servers running SP1 & above, & there is a work-around to re-enable synchronization. Unfortunately, the work-around requires either convincing Exchange administrators to create a security policy exception or rolling back to OS3.0 on the iPhone.

In order to re-enable Exchange syncing with pre-3GS iPhones, Exchange administrators will need to create an EAS policy exception that will allow connections to mobile devices that do not support device encryption (either globally or on a per-user basis).

If the creation of policy exceptions is not an option (& that will likely be the case more often than not) there are 2 options: 1) upgrade to iPhone 3GS or one of the latest 32GB or 64GB iPod touch models, or 2) rollback to OS 3.0 (what will undoubtedly be the most popular solution).

The easiest way to rollback to OS 3.0 is obviously to restore the phone from a recent backup using iTunes (you did create a backup before you upgraded your phone, didn’t you???). Apple has a support article detailing how to backup, update, & restore iPhones & iPods. In case of emergency (ie: no recent backups!) you can go to this site to download firmware for iPhones & iPods. [NOTE: This site is NOT supported by Apple in ANY way!!!)

Finally, Apple has also updated it’s Enterprise Deployment Guide for iPhones. If you’re a sys-admin involved in the deployment & management of iPhones &/or iPods in an enterprise environment, this doc is a must-read.


Snow Leopard Cheat-sheet

August 31, 2009

SnowLeopardLast Friday, Apple released OS X 10.6, “Snow Leopard” to the general public. There’s been quite a bit of excitement building around it’s release, although unlike the media & PR hype surrounding the release of Leopard, this time around the buzz seems a little more organic, building more through blogs, consultants, techs, & users instead of corporate PR departments.

While I haven’t yet done extensive testing of Snow Leopard’s newest features & enhancements (I spent the days following it’s release in the mountains of Garibaldi Provincial Park), I did make some time to put together a quick ‘cheat-sheet’ of key features, enhancements, & system requirements for the new OS. Be sure to stay-tuned, however. There’s sure to be more Snow Leopard posts to follow…

Snow Leopard Cheat-Sheet

$35 Upgrades!!!:

Thats correct. Apple is offering a $35 (US$30) upgrade disc for users who have OS 10.5 (Leopard). What Apple has not announced is that this upgrade disc will also upgrade your OS X 10.4 (Tiger) systems as well!  Thank you Apple for the cheapest OS upgrade in history…

Snow Leopard System Requirements:

  • Intel processor with 1GB of memory
  • 5GB of free hard drive space
  • DVD drive (for installation)

Key Features:

  • Speed – the first thing everyone is noticing is how much of a performance boost Snow Leopard is over pervious versions of the OS
  • Mail – support for Microsoft Exchange!!!
  • Cisco VPN support – Finally!!!
  • Ejecting volumes – no more “unable to unmount <NAME> because the disk is in use” errors
  • Customizable spotlight searching
  • Automatic print driver updates – boring but practical!
  • HFS+ read support for Boot Camp – access your OS X files while booted to Windows

iPhone SMS Security Patch

August 10, 2009

iphone_homeThe iPhone OS 3.0.1 that was released on July 31 patched a security flaw that could have allowed hackers to remotely control iPhones by launching a text-message attack. Security researchers publicized the exploit at the Black Hat cybersecurity conference and Apple posted the security patch the following day.

While Apple moved quickly, Chris Miller, one of the researchers who publicized the exploit noted that he notified Apple about the flaw nearly a month earlier and that it was first discovered in OS 2.0. It may have taken a public exposure to jump start the release.

Read more about the SMS exploit at Wired.com.

iphone_homeOn of my personal favorite features in version 3.0 of the iPhone OS is the internet tethering. My internet recently went down & it was a day or two before a tech was out to fix it (that’s service, isn’t it?). With several deadlines looming, tethering my laptop to my phone meant not having to spend two days working out of a coffee shop. Unfortunately, the deadlines also meant that I didn’t think to check Rogers’ policy (& pricing!) on tethering beforehand.

Turns out it’s not so bad. From the iPhone Smartphone Plans page on the Rogers website:

Tethering Policy
Tethering is the use of your phone as a wireless modem to connect to the Internet from your computer. For a limited time, if you subscribe to a data plan which includes at least 1GB of data transmission between June 8, 2009 and December 31, 2009, and if you have a compatible device, you may use tethering as part of the volume of data included in your plan at no additional charge. Tethering cannot be used with data plans of less than 1 GB.

For the time being, at least, data is data as far as Rogers is concerned. What will happen as of January 1st, 2010 is anyone’s guess, but for now as long as you have subscribed to a data plan of 1GB or more, there are no additional charges for data transfers using tethering.

X1Zero also wrote an excellent article for iPhone in Canada on the tethering policy for Rogers & Fido.

Follow this link for Apple’s System requirements for internet tethering.

Happy tethering!

apple-mail-iconI recently started experiencing an issue with Apple’s Mail application – every time I would select an email with an attachment, Mail would freeze for a few seconds before shutting down with the standard “unexpected quit” error dialog. I originally suspected corrupt emails, thinking back to issues with corrupt emails crashing Entourage if the Preview pane was enabled. Except that this time Mail would crash on EVERY email with an attachment – & there was no way that every email coming in was getting corrupted.

I cleared caches, rebuilt the mail index, removed Mail’s plist, even repaired permissions – all for nothing.

I finally stumbled onto a thread on the Apple Discussions forum suggesting that Mail might not be the correct version for the OS that I was running (10.5.7) & that the 10.5.7 combo updater should be re-installed.

Sure enough, here’s the version I was running when Mail was crashing:


And here’s the version that SHOULD be running under 10.5.7:

Mailv3.6How does this happen?

I had recently performed an archive & install on my laptop & being my overly cautious self, I hadn’t deleted the old System files (the Previous System folder). Turns out that when I ran the 10.5.7 combo updater after doing the archive & install, the combo updater actually updated the files in the previous System folder, not the newly installed System files!!!

The fix? Move the Previous System folder to the trash & re-run the 10.5.7 combo updater. Suddenly Mail is v3.6 & everything runs flawlessly again!

Thanks to Ernie Stamper on the Apple Discussions board for identifying this deceptive (& peculiar) bug!

iphone_homeI recently ran into some serious issues getting a client’s Shaw email account configured on their new iPhone. Using the settings copies from Mail, sending or receiving email on the phone would hang, sometimes taking the better part of 15 minutes & sometimes never sending at all. Often the the entire send/receive process would hang, requiring a reboot of the phone.

A bit of research (& a call to Shaw tech support for confirmation) revealed that Shaw has particular settings for use with mobile devices and that the standard settings used with desktop email applications will not work. More importantly, using Shaw’s own SMTP servers is not recommended by Shaw – for best performance, Shaw recommends using the SMTP server provided by Rogers or Fido.

What is frustrating about this arrangement, however, is that my experience has shown that even when using the SMTP server from Fido or Rogers, if wifi is enabled & connected to a wireless network, sending mail still takes so long as to be virtually unusable. In fact, in a thread posted on eh-mac.ca, a user states that Shaw tech support recommended disabling wifi when sending email – something which I confirmed provides a dramatic improvement in performance sending email.


On that note, the following are the settings to be used for setting up Shaw email on your iPhone. Please be aware – if you lan to configure a Shaw email account on your iPhone it is HIGHLY recommended that you disable wifi before sending email!

Setup Shaw email on the iPhone:

  1. Touch Settings
  2. Touch Mail, Contacts, Calendars
  3. Touch Add Account
  4. Touch Other
  5. Acount & Password are your Shaw email account & password
  6. Select select the POP tab
  7. Username is the part of your email before @shaw.ca
    1. ie: for name@shaw.ca would be name
  8. Host: pop.shaw.ca
  9. Outgoing Mail Server: gprs.fido.ca (Fido) or smtp.rogerswirelessdata.com (Rogers)

Remember! If you have trouble sending email over wifi, turn your wifi OFF & resend!

Shaw’s Residential Email Service Details (external link)

wgmCreating network home folders for users in Open Directory is typically a fairly painless task using OS X Server. What can be a little more painful is trying to figure out how to create a clean, locally cached home folder on a client workstation. The only obvious options for home folders in Workgroup Manager are None & the creation of an AFP or NFS share that’s stored on the server.

While leaving the settings in WGM set to None does result in the home folder getting cached on the local machine, it’s a less than perfect solution. For starters, the profiles get cached in the root of the drive, under a directory labelled 99. Plus the home folders it creates doesn’t have the usual directory structure – they only contain a Desktop and a Library folder. Not quite what we’re looking for. Ideally, the home folder would get created in the /Users directory, using the standard home folder template just like a local machine account is.

The fix to this is to make sure the NFSHomeFolder attribute is set for all your network accounts. That’s what happens when you select an AFP or NFS share – the path to the network share is written to the NFSHomeFolder attribute in the LDAP directory. When you leave the home folder setting at None, the default value is assigned to NFSHomeFolder – a value which happens to be 99 (hence the 99 directory that appears in the root directory on client machines whenever a user without a specified home folder logs in).

Set Network Account Home Folders to the Local Users Directory (/Users):

  1. Launch WGM & login to your Open Directory server
  2. If the Inspector tab in WGM isn’t visible, enable it in the Preferences
    1. Check the box next to “Show ‘All Records’ tab and inspector
  3. Select a network user account & click the Inspector tab
  4. Locate the NFSHomeDirectory attribute – it should read 99 – & change this value to ‘/Users/username‘ where username is the shortname of the user.
  5. Save your changes.

iphone_homeToday is the release date for the new iPhone 3G  S here in Canada. Available from Fido & Rogers, same as before. On the hardware side, a better camera & video recording clock in as two of the bigger changes (& long overdue ones, if you ask me…)

The OS 3.0 Software Update, however, seems to be where the big changes are, incorporating a slew of new features that have been in demand for some time. Cut & Paste, MMS, tethering, spotlight searching, and landscape keyboards in ALL apps come to mind as some of the bigger features. The calendar now lets you create meetings via MS Exchange & has CalDAV support, a nice nod to the enterprise crowd.

There’s a pretty good article in ismashphone.com about How to Use the 40 Best Features of iPhone 3.0. If you’re thinking of upgrading or you already have & think maybe you’re missing something, this would be a great place to start.

WWDC 2009 Keynote Video

June 10, 2009

WWDC2009_KeynoteApple recently posted a QuickTime video stream of their keynote address from WWDC 2009. Highlights of this years address included the iPhone 3G S, iPhone OS v3.0 (hello, MMS!), an official announcement for the fall release of OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard (with a US$29 upgrade!), Safari v4.0, (download it here!), and laptop upgrades & price cuts.

Click here to watch the full 2 hour video of the WWDC 2009 keynote address.


I recently had a drive fail in a client’s RAID setup. 3 mirrored drives in a software RAID0 (mirrored) configuration. No big deal, you say! In a 3 drive configuration like that, you can swap the faulty drive without even losing any redundancy! Simple!


Physically replacing the drive went as planned, dead easy. But the rebuild failed contiuously. It should take hours (they were terabyte drives) but instead would stop after a few minutes, showing the replacement drive status as “Failed”. RAID Status obviously remained “Degraded”.

A bit of digging around on the web turned up this Apple knowledgebase article on rebuilding software RAID mirrors, which pointed out two VERY usefully pieces of information:

  1. You should use the command-line diskutil for rebuilding a RAID. Sometimes Disk Utility will be unable to successfully
    rebuild a degraded RAID mirror.

    • (Not an issue, this is standard practice anyways.)
  2. You should not rebuild the rebuild a mirror while it is the boot volume. Rebuilding a RAID Mirror will sometimes fail if it is the boot volume.
    • (Major issue, as it defeats much of the benefits of running a RAID in the first place! Sure, the data is safe – VERY important – but now I have to take a mail server offline for 12hours while the RAID rebuilds?!?!?)

The successful rebuild of the mirror involved both the above steps. The mail server was booted to an external drive and diskutil was used to rebuild the mirror. Before doing anything, however, I created a backup image file of the server (just to be safe…). The server was offline for approximately 12 hours, but it might have needed less – once I was confident that the rebuild was progressing successfully, I tried to enjoy the rest of my Saturday.

The moral of this story is obviously that software RAID solutions are in no way a substitute of hardware solutions. If you need guaranteed uptime, you need to invest – but we all knew that already… right?

For more information on rebuilding a software RAID in OS X, read Apple’s knowledge base article: How to rebuild a software RAID mirror.