Jul 18, 2007

Looking ahead to Leopard Server

Dear OS X Server-owners, and dear those-destined-to-be-OS X Server-owners,

I was just looking again at Apple's pages on the features of the new OS X Server 10.5, due in October. This is the first time I've been flat-out excited about a server release. Don't get me wrong, I dig them as much as the next geek, but they've never stirred me to, say, write an email to 20 non-IT people.

We can't invest too much in the hype, but there's stuff in here that I've been waiting for for years, and that I was always baffled Apple didn't have. And they say this:

"If you think it takes a dedicated IT department to deploy and use a server, think again. Leopard Server is designed to allow you to easily set up and manage servers."

I've never viewed J2 Consulting as your IT department, because Macs don't require that, and that's one of the things I love about 'em. We're advisers and technicians, and the solutions we get to put in place tend to keeping working, with relatively little maintenance. If Leopard Server can make our job easier, so we can serve more people, while each client pays less, sign me up!

Here are some of the tools they're including:


And here are some of the other phrases I'm glad to read:

"The end of manual labor

Adding clients to the network is now a quick and easy process. Just plug the new Mac into the network and launch the Directory Utility application. It will automatically detect and sign on to the server."

"Who's who

With Directory you can search for and, more important, find people in your organization. Just type in a name. ... it even shows you a map of their location. You can also manage your own record and distribution of personal contact data."

"Portable Home Directories 2  Home folder icon
External Accounts is a new Portable Home Directory feature that allows you to have a home directory on an external FireWire or USB portable drive."

Give me a shout to discuss how these technologies might play a part in your environment.


J2 Consulting ~ Chicken soup for the Mac ~ www.j2mac.com ~ 210.367.3420

Jul 5, 2007

End User column: Out of Range, Out of Mind

No, it has nothing to do with the iPhone. Yeah, right. Next time there will hopefully be something else to talk about.

BTW, I've helped two clients work with three iPhones, and they do rock, but we've definitely run into some limitations. I'm looking forward to the software updates, and to the next generation.

Published in San Antonio Current, July 4, 2007

Roswell, NM, two days before release of the iPhone — Yes, I asked if this motel room included wifi. Today, I asked. Yes, they have it, or at least they feature it, but today, it’s out. You’ll like this: They claim it’s out due to “a few car accidents.” I’m still picturing that.

Phone signal’s gone, too. I’m writing from a dial-up connection. Feh.

Thankfully, I have saved upgrading my notebook until autumn; some modern laptops don’t even include modems anymore.

Sunday, July 1 — Now we know: Should you buy an iPhone? If you’re a person who would right now spend $500 on the coolest gadget on the planet to entertain yourself, hie thee to the Apple Store. At just the right size and weight, the device does what it does marvelously. I found it responsive — snappy, says the geek — and almost tactile. Browsing the web on the big, bright screen kicks butt, typing works pretty well, and the audio/video experience cannot be beat. The iPhone owners I have talked to this weekend knew what they were getting, and while some had to overcome minor hurdles to get going with it, they’re generally very pleased.

If you wanted, however, to consider that $500 a business expense to make you a better, stronger, faster thing-doer, then you might want to wait. Among the iPhone’s failings, for example, the fact that it won’t cut, copy, paste, or even select text tops my list. I’d go crazy not being able to grab a snippet from a web page or easily forward just a portion of an email. Very strange, Penny Lane. So, I didn’t buy one, and I’ll have to wait for 2.0.

OK, no more iPhone today, I promise.

Avoid the worst day of your life: File this under “mundane, but vital.” If you store anything of value on your computer, you should know that storage is doomed to fail. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, Ilsa, but hard drives (the main storage mechanisms inside computers) are extremely delicate, and many are faulty right out of the factory.

Please, please, please backup, backup, backup: Always keep multiple copies of everything, and in at least two different places.

To start with, do yourself a favor and go to Mozy.com to sign up for 2 gigabytes of free online backup for personal use. They offer very smooth software for Mac and Windows that waits until you’re not touching your computer, then it backs up any files, or categories of files, you choose.

Extra cool: If you refer a friend to Mozy, they should enter your email address when they sign up, and you will each get an extra 256 megabytes of free storage.

Mozy Pro for business use starts at only $4.45 a month for 1Gb. One lovely alternative is, surprisingly, Amazon’s S3 (“Simple Storage Service”), which costs $0.15/Gb/month. Other online backup services exist, but they tend toward pricey.

It would take too long to back up your whole computer across the internet, so I encourage (read: rabidly demand) that everyone buy at least one “external hard drive” to sit next to your machine and receive daily automatic backups. CompUSA carries several models, as does the Apple Store. Then it’s best to download and set up software to make the backups happen for you. Grab a geek if you need help there.

(Microsoft Windows has semi-OK backup software built in, and Apple’s next version of Mac OS X will include something new and purportedly very snazzy called Time Machine.)

Finally, to be thorough, upload all those precious photos to a site such as flickr.com or picasaweb.google.com. They offer more space than most people will ever need, and you can make images either public or private.

Then kick back and congratulate your wise self. You’re safe to surf.

Next time: nothing about the frickin’ iPhone, maybe.

Jonathan Marcus publishes online at themacwhisperer.blogspot.com.