Category Archives: Articles and Books

Articles and Books Mac OS X Mac OS X Server Mac Security Mass Deployment

Yosemite Server Guide/Page Live

A blog is a great way to communicate information. But pedagogy, yo… Blogs are not great ways to teach in a guided manner. But they can be. So with a little Table of Contents, or a Guide of sorts, you can easily communicate in a fashion similar to a book. And this makes the third annual OS X Server Guide that I’m publishing in this manner; the guides for Mavericks and Mountain Lion are  still available. I doubt I’ll ever actually bother to take them down.

I’ve been working on getting the annual guide up for a few weeks and while there are still some posts remaining, but it’s basically done (some articles just haven’t gone up yet, but they’re basically written). So, if you’re fighting the good fight (and I do think it’s a good fight) and rolling Yosemite Server, click over on http://krypted.com/guides/yosemite-server for the latest guide, covering OS X Server 4 running on OS X Yosemite (which I still like to call Yosemite Server).

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Oh, and if you’re keeping track (doubtful): yah, I know I never finished the Windows Server Guide, but I did write and finish the Xsan one and there might have been a divorce, 2 books, a product release, job change and a few benders mixed in there – one of which might still be ongoing… So I’ll eventually get back to it. Or not….

Articles and Books

Three New Take Control Books Titles On Yosemite

Kudos to Take Control (including Joe Kissell and Schools McFarland here) for being on the spot with getting Yosemite titles out in alignment with the release of the actual operating system. To put you in control of Apple’s new OS X 10.10 Yosemite they have three books for you today: the first two are straightforward and useful, and the third has more real-world, practical advice for the modern Mac user than anything we’ve published recently. To quote the release information today, they are:

*  “Take Control of Upgrading to Yosemite,” by Joe Kissell
*  “Yosemite: A Take Control Crash Course,” by Scholle McFarland
*  “Digital Sharing for Apple Users: A Take Control Crash Course,” also by Joe Kissell

Download them from your Take Control Library > http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/account

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We’re really excited (and tired, after finishing publication after midnight last night) about these books because they can help lots of Mac users, and we’d really appreciate it if you could tell people about them. In particular, in the two Take Control Crash Courses, each chapter has tweet-worthy tips and built-in sharing buttons so you can spread useful information to your extended networks. It’s pretty innovative for a book — take a look! Anyway, about these titles…

Do you want to upgrade to Yosemite with confidence? You can’t go wrong with “Take Control of Upgrading to Yosemite,” now in its 8th major installment. The title has helped tens of thousands of Mac users since 2003, and gives you the benefit of Joe Kissell’s superlative background. You’ll ensure that your hardware and software are ready for Yosemite, protect against problems with a bootable duplicate, eliminate digital clutter, prepare your Mac, and decide on your best installation method, no matter what version of Mac OS X you’re upgrading from, all the way back to 10.4 Tiger. You’ll find full installation directions plus advice on over a dozen things to do immediately after installation and troubleshooting techniques. Joe also explains upgrading from the Yosemite public beta and “upgrades” that involve moving your data to a new Mac from an old Mac or Windows PC. It’s 152 pages and costs $15.

Get more information > http://tid.bl.it/tco-yosemite-upgrading-info

The next two books are in our new Take Control Crash Course series, which brings you the first-rate content you expect from us in shorter chunks so you can dip in and read quickly. Because so many Take Control readers provide tech support to others, each concise chapter has sharing buttons and practical tweet-tips, making it easy to freely share a few pages with Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and others who really need the information. Take Control Crash Courses feature a modern, magazine-like layout in PDF while retaining a reflowable design in the EPUB and Mobipocket.

Read “Yosemite: A Take Control Crash Course,” to get more out of your Mac as you go about your everyday activities. Written by former Macworld editor Scholle McFarland, this book introduces Yosemite’s new interface and discusses new features like iCloud Drive, Handoff, iPhone voice/SMS relay, and Notification Center’s Today view. You’ll learn about key changes in core Apple apps with chapters about Safari, Mail, Messages, and Calendar. You’ll also find answers to questions brought on by recent additions to OS X, such as how to control notifications, tips for using Finder tags, and working with tabbed Finder windows. The book closes with two under-the-hood topics, setting up a new user account (for a child, guest, or troubleshooting) and troubleshooting (with techniques including Safe Boot and OS X Recovery). It’s 77 pages and $10.

Get more information > http://tid.bl.it/yosemite-crash-course-info

Beyond what’s new in Yosemite is the larger problem facing most of us — how to work effectively in today’s modern ecosystem of devices, services, and collaborators. Frankly, sharing with other people and devices is messy, because everyone wants something different. That’s why “Digital Sharing for Apple Users: A Take Control Crash Course” may be our most important book of the year, and why we are so grateful to Joe Kissell for taking on the challenge of describing how to share nearly anything you can think of in nearly every imaginable situation. Here are just a few of the gems in this book:

*  How iCloud Photo Sharing and My Photo Stream are entirely different
*  How to share photos fleetingly, privately, permanently, or with your fridge
*  The best ways to sync a project’s worth of files with others
*  Services to provide ubiquitous access to your own files across devices
*  Quick ways to make a file available for download by anyone
*  How to share calendars with others, whether or not they use iCloud
*  A brief tutorial on enabling Family Sharing
*  Tweaky workarounds for contact sharing, which is surprisingly difficult
*  How to rip a DVD to your MacBook Air using an older Mac’s SuperDrive
*  How to turn your iPhone or Mac into a Wi-Fi hotspot
*  Ways of watching your uncle work remotely, as you help him with iTunes
*  Approaches to syncing Web browser bookmarks and tabs with multiple devices
*  How to securely share a collection of passwords with someone else

The list of essential but often frustrating modern tasks goes on and on, and the solutions go beyond what Apple offers, so the book does too. Non-Apple products mentioned include 1Password, AirFoil, BitTorrent Sync, Cargo Lifter, CloudyTabs, Dropbox, Exchange, Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Google Calendar, Google Chrome, Google Docs, Instagram, iPhoto Library Manager, Outlook, Pandora, PhotoCard, Printopia, Reflector, Rdio, Spotify, Syncmate, Syncphotos, Transporter, Twitter, Xmarks, and more.

And, thanks to the new Take Control Crash Course format, you can jump right to the chapter that answers your question, without having to read through lots of other information. It’s 87 pages and only $10.

Get more information > http://tid.bl.it/digital-sharing-crash-course-info

Thank you for your support of Take Control… we couldn’t do it without you!

cheers… -Adam & Tonya Engst, Take Control publishers

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The Day That Macworld Died

If you go to the official Macworld Expo site, you’ll notice that the conference has, like the Blues Brothers before the movie, been disbanded. MacIT lives on, but Macworld Expo does not, for now. Shouldn’t be a surprise at this point, given the fact that the Macworld magazine has gone through some substantial changes as well, recently. But it is a surprise nonetheless.

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I have many great memories from Macworld, including striking up friendships with young gurus named Bartosh, Dreyer, Regan, Wisenbaker, Rennich, Welch and many, many others back when Apple was an afterthought. Special thanks to Paul, Kathy and many others for their massive contributions towards making the Apple community what it is today. Much respect. Dedication:

And Macworld, hopefully I’ll be dedicating this one to you in 2016 when you get the band back together!

Articles and Books Mac OS X Mac OS X Server

Chapter 4 of Take Control of OS X Server Now Available

The chapters from my upcoming Take Control book keep rolling into the TidBits website. The next installment is Chapter 4: Directory Services, which can accessed at http://tidbits.com/article/14821.

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Hope you enjoy!

Articles and Books Mac OS X Server

Chapter 3 Of My Next Book Available

The next chapter of my next book is again available free for TidBits readers at http://tidbits.com/article/14799:

This article is a pre-release chapter in the upcoming “Take Control of OS X Server,” by Charles Edge, scheduled for public release later in 2014. Apart from “Chapter 1: Introducing OS X Server,” and “Chapter 2: Choosing Server Hardware,” these chapters are available only to TidBITS members; see “‘Take Control of OS X Server’ Streaming in TidBITS” for details.

Hope you enjoy! And thanks again to Adam and Tanya for their awesome editorial!

Articles and Books

Lern For Free

Learn some stuff! For Free!

There are so many resources available for learning these days that it’s hard to keep track of it all, or to find the things that are actually worth doing. So I decided to make a list of some of my favorites:

  1. Code Academy: Using Code Academy, you can learn a little JavaScript, HTML/CSS, jQuery, Ruby, Python and PHP. There are also projects for the web and integrating with APIs so you can hook into YouTube and Twitter. Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 9.47.16 AM
  2. Duolingo.com: Learn a real language, like Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese or French at this site, which has digestible chunks of lessons that you can use to get ready for that next work or personal trip, or just to make sure you continue to know more of a foreign language than your kid does when they come home from school.Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 9.55.39 AM
  3. Learn Code the Hard Way: Free books? Learn to write Python, Ruby, C, SQL and even some regular expressions! Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 10.25.41 AM
  4. Rails for Zombies: Learn Rails as a game. A nice, fresh approach to programming. You should know a little Ruby first, so check out tryruby.org or Learn Ruby the Hard Way first.Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 10.24.49 AM
  5. Ted Talks: I didn’t really get these until I started to watch them. There’s over 1,600 Ted talks and counting. Want to learn about leadership, work-life balance, conducting an orchestra or how to motivate, this is your place. It’s a wealth of information from some very amazing people and what I now consider to be one of the best treasures online.Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 10.19.58 AM
  6. Nike Training Club: Actually, the whole Nike experience, from Nike+ (Running, FuelBand, Kinect) to the skating app are awesome. But the Nike Training Club sports a collection of videos and workouts that are sure to push even the most fit to their limits. Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 10.22.45 AM
  7. Make Games With Us: Learning programming doesn’t have to be boring. This site looks at building iPhone games. Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 10.31.37 AM
  8. Stanford on iTunes: A lot of universities and other institutions have put a lot of content on iTunes U. But the quality of some of the Stanford lectures is IMHO) amongst the best! Check out what they have to offer, and search iTunes U for any other topic your heart may desire.Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 10.34.17 AM
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20 Rules of Capitalization

Yesterday, I wrote an article on technical writing. Today, I’m laying out a few basic rules with regards to when to capitalize things. This is pretty straight forward but I find it can help to remember the rules to lay them out in a basic way. These things should have their first character capitalized:

  1. The first letter of a sentence. This includes a quoted sentence inside a sentence but not a phrase within a sentence. This also includes the first letter of a terminal command when a sentence starts with a command, although I try to restructure those sentences when they come up as it’s not a hard thing to do.
  2. The letter I.
  3. Titles. Each letter in the title of books, movies, poems, songs, articles, newspaper/magazine articles and works of art should be capitalized. This includes when these objects start with a word such as Of, A, The, And, etc but not when those words are in the middle of a title. Titles can also include specific course titles (such as when there’s a number attached). When using a compound title each otherwise capitalized word should be capitalized and each word not otherwise capitalized should not be.
  4. The names of people. Each word in a persons name should always be capitalized. Also their honorary titles/high ranking officials when preceding a name, such as President, Doctor, etc as well as an abbreviated title, such as Mr and Mrs. However, when those titles are used without a specific person attached they don’t need capitalization (although keep in mind if addressing someone with their title that should be capitalized). Titles that occur after a name do not require capitalization. Additionally the name of a relative when used as a proper noun should be capitalized.
  5. Gods, religious figures and holy works should be capitalized, although when describing a group of gods you need only capitalize the region or name of the pantheon and not the non-specific use of the word gods.
  6. The names of schools. This includes any educational institution, not just a college and university. Also, the name of a degree.
  7. Places. This includes bodies of water. A River, Lake, etc. As with the names of people, if you don’t put the name of the specific lake, but use the word you don’t need to capitalize that. A place can also be a mountain or building. Specific buildings, monuments, mountains, hills, volcanoes, etc. should have their first letters capitalized. Specific street names also have the first letter of each word capitalized. Also note that planets always start with the first letter capitalized.
  8. Specific flags.
  9. Regions. When discussing the Midwest, Sun Belt or South as a noun those should be capitalized. However, when using those words as an adjective they don’t need to be. A country, county, city or other region should also have the first character capitalized. I’ve always felt though, that the region unless a specific place, should have to earn the capitalization and it’s worth noting that Big 10/midwestern football just isn’t what it used to be… Also note that you should capitalize directions that are names but not directions when referring to a compass heading. Capitalize countries, languages and nationalities.
  10. Times. Days of the week, months and holidays. Seasons when used in a title, but not when used generally.
  11. Periods and events, except century numbers that are spelled out.
  12. Trademarked names. One thing I try to avoid here is using a trademarked name in writing as a verb, even if that word has become commonplace. For example, while you frequently hear people say to Xerox something I would change that to make a copy of something.
  13. Groups and organized bodies. Athletic, civic, national, political, and racial groups should be capitalized. This includes the name of a court and some other government terms, including Administration when describing a presidents administration, Cabinet when describing that of a president or prime minister and Federal when referring to the government of a country.
  14. Lists. If the first word of any bullet or item in a numbered list is capitalized then all should be, including directions. If two or more sentences follow a colon (not one sentence) then the first word of each should be capitalized; however, if there are items after a colon that are not sentences they do not require capitalization unless another rule requires it.
  15. The first word of salutations and complementary closings.
  16. Words derived from proper nouns.
  17. Initials, initialisms, initials with names and acronyms (unless in commands where the acronym is the command as you’re actually writing the name of the command). Acronyms include the call letters of television and radio stations.
  18. Any character in text that you quote should be capitalized exactly as it appears (although if all words begin with a capitalized character then you don’t need to quote the string).
  19. The first word of each line of poetry, unless not quoted in the poem.
  20. When shouting using the written word one can capitalize each letter of the word to add inflection; however, this is not necessarily proper nor a rule, simply commonplace.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that writing such as this is a blog. While I don’t like that word, I find that such writing typically frequently allows the writer a certain amount of flexibility with regards to grammatical rules (for better or worse). This could be due to the fact that much of what’s written is done in the middle of the night. While this isn’t an excuse to use poor grammar it does tend to mean a less stringent editorial process over the grammar used. In other words, read/use the content at your own risk. :)

Note: At the request of my readers I’d be happy to write a follow-up article on when to capitalize assets, but I might have to bust out some of my books from Accounting 101 in college to do so!

Articles and Books

25 Tips For Blossoming Technical Writers

I write a pretty good amount of content. These days, I edit almost as much as I write. And in doing so, I’ve picked up on some interesting trends in how people write. This has led me to mentioning a few tips and tricks, if I can bore you with the details for a bit:

  1. Define the goal. What do you want to say? The text on the back jacket of most of my books was written before I ever wrote an outline. Sometimes I update the text when I’m done with a book because the message can change slightly with technical writing as you realize some things you’d hoped to accomplish aren’t technically possible (or maybe not in the amount of time you need to use).
  2. Make an outline. Before you sit down to write a single word, you should know a goal and have an outline that matches to that goal. The outline should be broken down in much the same way you’d lay out chapters and then sections within the chapter.
  3. Keep your topics separate. A common trap is to point at other chapters too frequently. Technical writing does have a little bit of the find your own adventure aspect, but referencing other chapters is often overused.
  4. Clearly differentiate between section orders within a chapter. Most every modern word processing tool (from WordPress to Word) provides the ability to have a Header or Heading 1 and a Header or Heading 2. Be careful not to confuse yourself. I like to take my outline and put it into my word processing program and then build out my headers from the very beginning. When I do so, I like for each section to have a verb and a subject that defines what we’re going to be doing. For example, I might have Header 1 as Install OS X, with Header 2 as Formatting Drives followed by Header 2 as Using the Recovery Partition followed by Header 3 of Installing the Operating System.
  5. Keep your paragraphs and sentences structured. Beyond the headings structure, make sure that each sentence only has one thought (and that sentences aren’t running on and on and on). Also, make sure that each paragraph illustrates a sequence of thoughts. Structure is much more important with technical writing than with, let’s say, science fiction. Varying sentence structure can keep people awake.
  6. Use good grammar. Bad grammar makes things hard to read and most importantly gets in the way of your message getting to your intended audience. Strunk and White’s Elements of Style is very useful if you hit a place where you’re not sure what to write. Grammar rules are a lot less stringent with online writing, such as a website. When it comes to purposefully breaking grammatical rules, I like to make an analogy with fashion. If you show up to a very formal company in $400 jeans, they don’t care that your jeans cost more than most of their slacks; they just get cranky you’re wearing jeans. Not everyone will pick up on purposeful grammatical lapses. Many will just judge you harshly. Especially if they hail from the midwest.
  7. Define your audience. Are you writing for non-technical users trying to use a technical product? Are you writing for seasoned Unix veterans trying to get acquainted with a new version of Linux? Are you writing for hardened programmers? The more clearly you define the audience the easier it is to target a message to that audience. The wider the scope of the audience the more people are going to get lost, feel they’re reading content below their level, etc.
  8. Know your style guide. According to who you are writing for, they probably have a style guide of some sort. This style guide will lay out how you write, specific grammar styles they want used, hopefully a template with styles pre-defined, etc. I’ve completed several writing gigs, only to discover I need to go back and reapply styles to the entire content. When you do that, something will always get missed…
  9. Quoting is important when writing code. It’s also important to quote some text. If you have a button or text on a screen with one word that begins with a capped letter, you don’t need to quote that in most style guides. But if there’s only one word and any of the words use a non-capped letter or have a special character then the text should all be quoted. It’s also important to quote and attribute text from other locations. Each style guide does this differently.
  10. Be active. No, I’m not saying you should run on a treadmill while trying to dictate the chapter of a book to Siri. Use an active voice. For example, don’t say “When installing an operating system on a Mac you should maybe consider using a computer that is capable of running that operating system.” Instead say something like “Check the hardware compatibility list for the operating system before installation.”
  11. Be careful with pronouns. When I’m done writing a long document I’ll do a find for all instances of it (and a few other common pronouns) and look for places to replace with the correct noun.
  12. Use examples. Examples help to explain an otherwise intangible idea. It’s easy to tell a reader they should enable alerts on a system, but much more impactful to show a reader how to receive an alert when a system exceeds 80 percent of disk capacity.
  13. Use bullets or numbered lists. I love writing in numbered lists and bullets (as with these tips). Doing so allows an author to most succinctly go through steps and portray a lot of information that is easily digestible to the audience. Also, if one of your bullets ends with a period, they all must. And the tense of each must match.
  14. Use tables. If bullets are awesome then tables are the coolest. You can impart a lot of information using tables. Each needs some text explaining what is in the table and a point that you’re usually trying to make by including the table.
  15. Judiciously use screen shots. If there’s only one button in a screen shot then you probably don’t need the screen shot. If there are two buttons you still probably don’t need the screen shot. If there are 20 and it isn’t clear in the text which to use, you might want to show the screen. It’s easy to use too many or not enough screen shots. I find most of my editors have asked for more and more screens until we get to the point that we’re cutting actual content to fit within a certain page count window. But I usually have a good idea of what I want to be a screen shot and what I don’t want to be a screen shot from the minute I look at the outline for a given chapter. Each screen shot should usually be called out within your text.
  16. Repetition is not a bad thing. This is one of those spots where I disagree with some of my editors from time to time. Editors will say “but you said that earlier” and I’ll say “it’s important.” Repetition can be a bad thing, if you’re just rehashing content, but if you intentionally repeat something to drive home a point then repetition isn’t always a bad thing. Note: I like to use notes/callouts when I repeat things. 
  17. White space is your friend. Margins, space between headers, kerning of fonts. Don’t pack too much crap into too little space or the reader won’t be able to see what you want them to see.
  18. Proofread, proofread, proofread. And have someone else proofread your stuff.
  19. Jargon, acronyms and abbreviations need to be explained. If you use APNS you only have to define it once, but it needs to be defined.
  20. I keep having editors say “put some personality into it” but then they invariably edit out the personality. Not sure if this just means I have a crappy personality, but it brings up a point: while you may want to liven up text, don’t take away from the meaning by doing so.
  21. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Today I was asked again to have an article from krypted included in a book. I never have a problem with contributing an article to a book, especially since I know how long it takes to write all this stuff. If I can save another author a few hours or days then they can push the envelope of their book that much further.
  22. Technical writing is not a conversation. Commas are probably bad. The word um is definitely bad. Technical writing should not ramble but be somewhat formal. You can put some flourish in, but make sure the sentences and arguments are meaningful, as with a thesis.
  23. Be accurate. Technical reviewers or technical editors help to make sure you’re accurate, but test everything. Code, steps, etc. Make sure that what you’re saying is correct up to the patch level and not just for a specific environment, like your company or school.
  24. Use smooth transitions between chapters. This means a conclusion that at least introduces the next chapter in each. Don’t overdo the transitions or get into the weeds of explaining an entire topic again.
  25. Real writers publish. If you write a 300 page document and no one ever sees it, did that document happen? If the document isn’t released in a timely manner then the content might be out of date before getting into a readers hands. I like to take my outline (step 2) and establish a budget (a week, 20 hours, or something like that).