William Smith: June 2008 Archives

Yesterday afternoon I posted Date bug in Entourage 2008 causes birthday information loss on the Entourage Help Blog. This post required me to do some detailed testing with dates ranging all the way from 1899 to 2050 and determining the specific days of the week for these dates.

Enter the cal command in the Terminal!

Our regional Apple representatives held a small seminar at The Foundation, a local VAR of Apple products. The topic was about Mac administration and Active Directory integration.

Eric, the speaker for the morning, referred to a project that I’d heard about called InstaDMG, which is being developed by the fine folks at the AFP548.com website. I’ve been hearing about InstaDMG for several months but my initial research found it to be of little benefit in our environment at work. I had dismissed it as another package maker.

Iain Boyd started an E-mail thread on TidBITs Talk with the subject “Domain of frivolity”. He realized that with Apple’s .Mac service being re-branded under Mobile Me the new me.com address could lend itself to some fun wordplay.

I replaced our old and rented cable modem on Friday with a new Motorola Surboard SB5101 I purchased from Amazon and have so far seen great improvements in my surfing. The difference between a nearly seven-year-old Toshiba PCX1100U and the new Surfboard was worth every penny.

I’ve been looking for some AppleScripts or something that will try to take advantage of the ARD vulnerability I mentioned yesterday. Symantec has so far patched against two:

This is why I endorse having antivirus software installed before a threat. I have definitions set to download daily on my Macs but I can push them if I need. By now, all my Macs at work should be patched.

Slashdot yesterday posted Mac OS X Root Escalation Through AppleScript, which describes a vulnerability in a core component of Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5. I was not able to reproduce this on my Tiger system at work but that’s just one machine.

The example given in the post is:

osascript -e 'tell app "ARDAgent" to do shell script "whoami"'

So what does this do? If you copy and paste the above code into the Terminal application found in /Applications/Utilities and then hit return, you’ll receive this in return:

root

My company is splitting into two smaller companies and for the past few weeks I’ve been training folks on the other side how to support Macs using Casper. They’ll have less than 20 Macs to support altogether but when your support world has been all Windows the extra attention to learning a new platform helps.

I love the folks I’m training because they all love Macs or they’re enthusiastic about learning about them. Training is a real pleasure when you can show them something as simple as clicking the computer name in the login window to show more details and they whisper, “Oh, neat!”

For the past few months I’ve been avoiding my ACMT certifications but now I’m going to focus on the two tests so that we can finally start fixing hardware in-house again.

Microsoft can be so frustrating at times.

I started working on the third version of my Exchange setup script for Entourage and have accomplished quite a lot. It now includes a new component for configuring default signatures. Of course, it includes optional setups for not one but three signatures as I outlined in the section What do I use for my own business E-mail signatures? in my Entourage Help Blog post Don’t waste time with unbusinesslike signatures.

That felt like a productive bit of work. Then I started some testing in a new identity. Arg.

Thumbnail image for Yoda.jpgYesterday was the first day of the Star Wars: Where Science meets Imagination exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota. I wasn’t very impressed.

Hands-on science museums don’t really fascinate me as they use to do because I’m never satisfied with the presentation. As a kid I enjoyed the exhibits that I could either crawl onto or climb but the rest were always a little dull for my liking. Someone decided to combine a Star Wars exhibit with “science” and it didn’t work well for me.

In two newsgroup messages today I saw AIUI. That one was new to me.

AIUI = As I understand it.

Diane at The Entourage Help Page asked me whether or not we should start a mailing list for Entourage questions. The mailing list would be a companion to the EHP and the blog. My first reaction was that the community already had the Entourage-Talk list and we shouldn’t duplicate efforts.

However, after several months of seeing the list go dead due to hardware and other issues, I agreed that we should probably proceed with something ourselves.

Occasionally, I receive requests for help with modifying an AppleScript I wrote for Macintosh administrators to assist their Entourage users to connect with Exchange. See “How to use AppleScript to connect Entourage to Exchange Server 2000 sp2, 2003 or 2007”.

Today I received one such request for an administrator, Mike, who had a need to also set his users’ encoding preferences for attachments to Windows (MIME/base64) because his Exchange Server 2007 server is stripping the contents of outgoing message attachments. Mike said he’d “spent 4 hours googling and reviewing every script at macscripters”.

My first line in response to him was, “I’ll make it easy on you. It’s not possible to script any of Entourage’s preferences. :-(“

But then I had an Aha! moment.

We're only allowed to accrue 150% vacation time at work and I, having only been there 3-1/2 years, get two weeks every year. My three co-workers have all been with our company more than five years and two have more than 10 years invested time. We all find taking vacation time very difficult. We just don't think about it or just find that we don't need it right now.

MVC-013S.JPGThis week I'm burning 40 hours but I have a plan. Apart from taking my cat Mitch to the vet to get a tooth pulled, I'm doing geek things that I've been wanting to do for months. They include installing MoveableType for this blog, installing MediaWiki for my website and learning better ways to use Twitter. Of course, I kicked off the week with the WWDC keynote on Monday.

Diane asked me a year ago to contribute to the Exchange section on The Entourage Help Page but since we started The Entourage Help Blog I've been pretty neglectful.

For several months I've wanted a page dedicated to Microsoft KB articles that I and others could quickly reference. Finally, I've posted the page and to my surprise it grew to more than 40 references. I was expecting about 15-20 at most.

Today was Lori's birthday party. We celebrated her last day as a 49-year-old because tomorrow she turns 50.

At social gatherings when we've talked about work, talked about what's happening in our lives and ultimately beaten to death the weather topic, I'm always amazed how computers and technology can revive a dwindling conversation.