Friday, June 20, 2014

Subscribing to calendars

I am a huge fan of calendar subscriptions.  It is so much better to subscribe to something that to import it, so that the maintainer can make changes and have then automatically reflect on everyone else's calendars.  Many of us have multiple iPhone, iPad, OSX devices though and would like to see the subscriptions reflected in multiple places. So note the following:

If you subscribe to a calendar using your IOS device, the subscription only appears on that device and you need to subscribe on each device.

However, if you use the Calendar application in OSX to subscribe to your calendar, you have the option to add the subscription to iCloud, which in turns adds it to all devices that are syncing Calendars with your iCloud account automatically.  This is a much better solution.

Unfortunately, if you don't have OSX you are out of luck.  The browser based iCloud access does not allow subscriptions to be added, and you cannot add a subscription to iCloud through a mobile Calendar app, so this really only works for Mac users.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

ClamAV, Ubuntu, Symbolic Links and AppArmor

I have just been having the most annoying time getting clamav to work properly in AWS on Ubuntu 12.04.  On one system it would start and log properly, but freshclam would fail to log.  On another system it wouldn't start nor would freshclam run.  In all cases it was displaying errors that it could not open the respective log files for append.  In one case, I mounted a volume and tried to create a symbolic link to the new volume and move /var/log/clamav there, and it would work in the default location but not in the new location. Permissions were fine, ownership was fine.  Then I discovered apparmor.  I needed to modify the clamav and freshclam profiles in apparmor to allow the two applications to write to the various directories to which they needed access.  In one case clamav had permissions from the install but freshclam didn't.  In another case, neither had permissions.  And in the case that I tried to use a symbolic link, I actually had to add the actual path to which the link pointed into the apparmor profile for both clamav and freshclam.

So simple, yet cost me so much time, and reading the types of issues that others are having, I suspect that this is causing them the same grief.

Hope that this helps someone.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Disabled iPhone

Well, it finally happened, one of my kids changed the lock code on their iphone, promptly forgot the new code, then tried enough lock codes to disable the phone.  Unfortunately, once the phone is disabled, there does not appear to a way to un-disable it and try more lock codes.

The only option at this point seems to be to erase the phone and restore from backup.  I did not have iTunes available when it happened so I was unable to plug it in to my computer.  Fortunately I did have Find My Phone active AND had iCloud backups active, which enabled me to use Find My Phone on a different device to locate and erase the disabled phone, then restore the phone from the last iCloud backup all without connecting to the disabled phone to a computer.  There does not seem to be a way to check when the last backup was run except by doing a restore which would have been a nice thing to be able to to prior to wiping the phone.  Fortunately, when I went to restore I found that the most recent backup was current.

If the phone is registered with iTunes on a computer, I believe that I could have plugged in, run a backup, then a restore, which yielded the same result, perhaps a better result, at least a faster result, as I would not have then had to download all the apps and music and everything else that is not included in an iCloud backup.

A few features that I would love to see:

1. Remotely change a lock code from an iCloud or Find My Phone client.  I should be able to use my Apple ID to make changes to my phone regardless of the lock code.

2. Remotely un-Disable the phone, again using the Apple ID.

3. Check the state of my backups from a browser.  I probably could have added the Apple ID to a different device as a new iCloud account to get access to the list of backups, but this seems a bit of a hassle when there is an iCloud portal that could easily.

4. Remotely trigger a backup process so that if a device is lost or disabled, one can be sure that they have a current copy device. Along with this perhaps also have the option to change what is backing up as your daily "just in case" backup settings bay be more restrictive for space reasons than the backup that you would run manually knowing that you were doing a full restore.

my $.02.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Loading iBooks on the iPhone/iPad/iTouch

Historically I have used a somewhat convoluted method to manage my eBooks.  I keep my books in ePub format and load them into my iPhone a few at a time when I tether my iPhone, maintaining the library on my PC.  I recently started using a Mac however and of course found that I could not use the iPhone on both computers and thus would have to choose one to sync with and use that computer to load my ePub files.  This seems a little counter-intuitive with the whole iCloud push in which I never connect my iPhone to my computer anyway.  Time to find a workaround.

The first workaround is to email yourself the ePub file (and I suppose any file that iBooks will read) and then open the attachment using iBooks and it automatically loads the ePub into iBooks.  Easy.

Better yet, if you use Dropbox (and I suspect any of the similar services) you can access your ePub files through the service and open them with iBooks, also resulting in the file being automatically loaded into iBook.  This method has the advantage or always having access to your entire library so long as you have dropbox and an internet connection.  Even Easier.

Note that for this to work your ePub files will have to be DRM-free.  I'm sure that you can figure that part out yourself.

Friday, March 30, 2012

iCAL and Exchange

We have one user, me, for whom our Mac users cannot seem to access the calender from iCal.  This was driving me crazy for a while, but the problem was really really stupidly simple.  I had my work day set from 6a to 8a rather than from 6a to 8p, so most of the day was 'unavailable' because it was outside of my work day and iCal, unlike Outlook on the Mac, doesn't show anything that is scheduled during unavailable time so it appeared that my calendar was just not visible.  Dumb Dumb Dumb.

The details:

Exchange Server hosted with Intermedia
PC users on windows 7/Outlook 2010
Mac users on Lion/Outlook 2011 and iCAL


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Apple MacBook Pro and WIFI Issues

We have a number of users on the local network, most of whom are on MacBook Pro laptops, who have been having an issue in which their WIFI drops periodically and must be manually reselected after which a few minutes later, it drops again.  It happened intermittently, and more in certain parts of the office than others.  I did some research and found lots of postings of people having issues with their MacBook Pro laptops and lots of 'possible' solutions to the issue, not of which really helped.  Ideas like resetting the NVRAM and creating new 'Locations' with only one SSID.   Nothing helped in our case so I started to do my own research.

Our WIFI Setup is as follows:
Cisco 981w router with integrated Dual Band, Dual Radio WAP
2 SSIDs, each broadcasting on both 2.4GHZ and 5GHZ
Most clients authenticating with WPS2/Personal/AES

I made some interesting observations.  First, the MacBooks seemed to all be connecting to 2.4 GHZ, even though it is really congested and the 5GHZ band is wide open.  The client itself is pretty dumb and has no way that I could find to tell it which frequency to favor.  It automagically figures it out based on signal strength.  Interestingly, the places in the office with the biggest issues are where the signal is the weakest.  There is also not a way to tell it to use a, b, g, or n, it's pretty much all or nothing.

So the first thing I did, which is sort of the only thing I did, was to change the WAP in the router so that the 2nd SSID was only broadcasting on 5GHZ which forced users who connected to that SSID to use 5GHZ.  This would prevent the MacBook from trying to jump between them if it thought that it had a stronger signal bands (with the same SSID) if it thought that it had a better signal.  Problem solved.  Damn that was easy.

Next step is to change my 2 SSID (guest, and corp) to 4 SSIDs (guest2, guest5, corp2, corp5).  I suspect that with some additional troubleshooting I could figure out why specifically was causing problems when the same SSID is on 2.4GHZ and 5GHZ, but this solves my problem in this environment and I have other things to do.  Hope this helps.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

MacBook Pro and MacBook Air restore

I have been configuring a lot of MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptops for people in the office so I finally decided to make my life easier by creating an image of a baseline install from which I could image the new machines and save myself a lot of time and effort.

So the concept is simple:

- Go through the setup process
- Create a generic account like 'administrator'
- Install any system updates
- Install baseline software (Office, Firefox, Dropbox, Printer/Scanner Drivers, etc)
- Attach a USB drive
- Reboot into the Lion Install Partition
- Go into Disc Utility
- 'Restore' the system partition to a partition on the USB drive

Now any time I need to re-install a laptop I can boot into Disk Utility and 'restore' from the USB partition to the laptop.

Now the question is whether I can take a 'restore' from a MacBook Pro and use it to install a MacBook Air.  And the verdict is... Yes.  This seems to work.  Oddly though the restore 'failed' at the end, but verifying the partition showed that it was clean, so I booted into it and everything appears to work properly.

I have not tried restoring to a MacBook Pro yet, so I do not know if the error is specific to the Air.  I'll update the post when I know.