Microsoft recently released a number of security patches for Office for Mac, including updates for Office 2008, Office 2004, and the Entourage Web Services Edition.

According to a March 16th post on MacWindows.com, however, the Office 2008 update (12.2.4) may trigger the long-standing issue of being unable to save Word .doc & .docx files to a Windows server. If you have not been experiencing problems saving files to a Windows server, be very careful before applying this update!

MacWindows.com has posted several potential workarouuds for this issue, including disabling the autosave/recover feature & changing the owner of the sahre on the Windows server to NETWORK SERVICE.

As always, if you plan to upgrade, make sure you have a recent backup and complete plenty of testing before rolling out this upgrade.

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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.

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.

disk_utility_icon

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!

Right.

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.

AlienRAID.org

June 2, 2009


AlienRAID Logo

I just recently stumbled onto a very interesting website, AlienRAID.org, a site dedicated to “supporting Apple Xserve RAID storage systems in non-Apple environments.” Interested in Xserve RAIDs running at the South Pole? Or running Windows Server on an Xserve? This is the site for you.

IT staff & admins only – I don’t know how much there is here for your average end user…

Visit AlientRAID.org.

remote_desktop_128Using kickstart to activate ARD is something that I do all of the time, yet I can never seem to remember the syntax. I figure I can’t be the only one in this situation (plus this post should save repetetive googling…) so I thought I would post it up where it’s easily accessible. The following commands work with ARD v2 & later. For earlier versions of ARD, see this knowledge base article.

You need SSH access to the computer you would like to enable ARD on (obviously) & you need to login as root or run the command with sudo. Services are started using the kickstart utility, located here:

/System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app/Contents /Resources/kickstart

To activate Remote Desktop Sharing, enable access privileges for the user “admin” with full privileges and restart the ARD Agent:

$ sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app/Contents /Resources/kickstart -activate -access -on -users admin -privs -all -restart -agent

Deactivate Remote Desktop Sharing:

$ sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app/Contents /Resources/kickstart -configure -access -off

To additional examples and more detail, see the complete knowledge base article.

iphone_homeAn interesting article at the Apple Insider blog indicates that serious enterprise organizations are noting the advantages of adopting Apple’s iPhone over business’ traditional smart-phone pick, the Blackberry. Kraft, Oracle, & Amylin Pharmaceutical are some of the larger enterprise organizations who have found that lower annual operating costs, minimized IT overhead, and happier end users were just some of the benefits associated with iPhone adoption.

While there are certainly still some issues around the integration of iPhones into enterprise culture, steady improvements to the iPhones’s enterprise feature-set has led to dramatic changes in both attitude an uptake towards the iPhone. Oracle apparently has about 4,000 iPhones in use & Kraft has been adding nearly 400 new iPhones a month. Looks like choice is finally starting to become a word that IT departments are going to have to learn…

The full article can be found here on appleinsider.com.