ACES Conference will be held May 9th to 10th of 2018, just as the ground is fully thawing out in the home of the Wire, Baltimore, Maryland. It’ll be real. It’ll be fun. It’ll be real fun. And after taking the 2017 conference off, I’ll be back there in 2018 to join in the fun. Now I just need to finish my book on consulting before then (I’m like half way there, and winters in Minnesota give a lot of writing opportunities)…
Hey Devops peeps! Got this, so just quoting and posting:
Just a reminder that the Early Bird rate for the MacDeployment Conference ends on Monday (May 16) at 23:59 MT. This applies both to the Conference day (June 16, CAD $75) as well as the Conference + Workshop days package (June 16 + 17, CAD $275). While the conference is meant to serve (and further build) the Mac Admins community in Alberta (Canada), it is open to all. Speakers include Tom Bridge, Luis Giraldo, Tim Sutton, and Teri Grossheim. For further information, visit macdeployment.ca.You should go.
The planning for ACES Conference 2016 seems to be in full gear. I’ve been slated to speak not on JAMF or Bushel stuff, but on my time in the Apple Consultants Network (ACN) community. One of the biggest challenges we had as we grew, was to responsibly pick vendors that matched with our customer requirements while also allowing us to scale efficiently. If you’re an ACN, this is a great conference for you. Check it out at https://acesconf.com!
Wow, seems like just yesterday I took down the old static page that was just a bunch of links I used to find stuff and went with a full-on WordPress site and published my first article. Doesn’t seem like I’ve been writing that long. But when I look at the over 2,500 posts on this site and the fact that I hit over 210,000 uniques last month, I guess it must be true. I’m so thankful that people want to read this stuff. And I’m really glad that I’ve been able to help a few people over the years. I hope the next 10 years are even better than the last 10! And thank you for coming back here and there, when you need to. Oh, and Happy New Year!
When I put a computer in my daughters room, I soon realized I could no longer watch over her shoulder as she worked away at school games, Minecraft and of course Civilization (after all, that was my first game). So much as I wrote an article a long time ago about child-proofing an iPad, now I’m writing about child-proofing a Mac. For me, I find that child-proofing is a bit like taking my kid to McDonald’s. I said never ever ever ever would I do this and then… Well, peer pressure, ya’ll… So if I have to do it, I figure someone else might. So here’s a quick and dirty guide to doing so. The gist of this guide is to continue using the same admin account that was created when you setup the computer initially. But to also create another account for the child, one that has some restrictions to keep them in a customized user experience. This might be to keep them out of things they try to do on purpose, keep them from accidentally finding some things they shouldn’t or maybe just to customize the user experience to make the computer easier to use (after all, if they can’t remove Minecraft from the Dock, they can’t come crying when they can’t find it.
Create a Managed AccountMost of the work that needs to be done, can be done within the System Preferences. This is available under the Apple menu as System Preferences… Once open, click on the Users & Groups System Preference. At the Users & Groups System Preference pane, click on the plus sign (+). At the new account screen, choose “Managed with Parental Controls” in the New Account field. Then provide the child’s name in the Full Name field and an Account Name will be automatically created (note that I shortened the name in this example to make it easier for the child to log in). Assuming your child doesn’t have their own iCloud account, set the password to “Use separate password” and then type it in. Once you’re happy with these settings, create the new account, which can be managed with Parental Controls by clicking on the Create User button.
Restrict Applications and The DockOnce the account is created, click on the “Enable parental controls” checkbox and then on the Open Parental Controls… button. At the Parental Controls System Preference pane, you’ll have a few options.
- Check the Use Simple Finder box if you’d like the user to have a limited user experience (no command keys, only certain windows open, etc). I would usually only recommend doing this if you have very small children (like maybe pre-school age). I usually like them to be able to do as much as possible to foster the whole hacker mentality nice and young!
- Check the box for Limit Applications if you’d only like certain apps to open. This is right up front on the main screen because it’s kinda’ important. Use the Allowed Apps section to select which apps can and can’t be opened (if there’s a checkbox beside the app name it can be opened by the user).
- Use the Allow App Store Apps drop-down list to to set an age ranking minimum. These are available in 4+, 9+, 12+, 17+ and All (which basically disables restrictions).
- Check the box for “Prevent the Dock from being modified” if you would like to restrict the new account from being able to edit the Dock. I usually wait for this, as I like to customize the Dock by putting the apps I want the child to open into the Dock. To do so, skip now, log in as the new user, log out and then customize the Dock. Once you’re done, log out, log in as an administrative user and then check the box.
Web RestrictionsNext, click on the Web tab. Here, you’ll effectively have 3 options: don’t restrict any content, let Apple try and block inappropriate content and build a whitelist of allowed content (with all other content blocked). Now, it’s worth mentioning that there can be an annoying element here, which is that if a site needs to be opened up for access, a child might come bugging you. But I like that, so I’m configuring this. Options include:
- Allow unrestricted access to websites: Don’t block any content. Allow unfettered access to all websites ever.
- Try to limit access to adult websites automatically: Click on the Customize button to add white and blacklisted sites, or sites that were accidentally restricted or allowed that maybe shouldn’t of. Or, if you want to restrict access to a specific web-based game that has become problematic.
- Allow access to only these websites: This option allows access to only the websites you allow access to. A word of warning here, a lot of sites pull content from other sites, which can be kinda’ annoying…
Configure Who Your Child Can Communicate WithAt the People screen, you can configure who the person using the Managed Account can communicate with. Here, restrict access to Game Center, restrict who the account can send and receive mail with and of course, who the account can use the Messages app with. The above options include the following:
- Allow joining Game Center multiplayer games: Uncheck this box to restrict the user from playing any multiplayer games that use Game Center to connect people. If the user is using a game that doesn’t integrate with Game Center then they would still be able to use that game to enter into a multi-player game.
- Allow adding Game Center friends: Uncheck this box to keep the user with the Managed Account from adding any new friends in Game Center.
- Limit Mail to allowed contacts: Only allow people in the Allowed Contacts section to exchange emails with the user of the account.
- Send requests to: Define an email address that can receive a contact request and approve it. I use this so that when my daughter needs something she can let me know.
- Limit Messages to allowed contacts: Only allow people in the Allowed Contacts section to message with the user of the account.
- Allowed Contacts: Use the plus sign at the bottom of this section of the screen to add new contacts and the minus button to remove contacts.
Configure Time LimitsTime limits are used to restrict what times the user can use the computer as well as how long per day that the user can actually use the computer. The options available include:
- Limit weekday use to: Define a maximum number of hours that the managed user can use the computer on a given workday between Monday through Friday. This can be anywhere from half an hour to 8 hours of time.
- Limit weekend use to: Define a maximum number of hours that the managed user can use the computer on a given Saturday or Sunday. This can be anywhere from half an hour to 8 hours of time.
- School nights: Define the time frames where the computer cannot be used by the Managed User on Sunday through Thursday evenings. For example, the below screen shows that on weeknights, the Emerald Edge user can’t use the computer from 8PM to 6AM.
- Weekend: Define the time frames where the computer cannot be used by the Managed User on Friday and Saturday nights. For example, the below screen shows that on weeknights, the Emerald Edge user can’t use the computer from 8PM to 6AM.
More StuffsNext, click the Other tab. Here, you’ve got the miscellaneous restrictions that really don’t fit anywhere else in Parental Controls. The options available include the following:
- Disable built-in camera: Turn off the built-in camera for the user. Note that third party cameras wills till work for the user.
- Disable Dictation: Turn off Dictation/Speakable Items for the user. Note that apps like Dragon Naturally Speaking can still be used.
- Hide profanity in Dictionary: Use this option to disable any articles in the Dictionary app that have profanity in them.
- Limit printer administration: Don’t allow the user to manage printers. Note that if you do this, you’ll want to install any Bonjour printers first.
- Disable changing the password: Don’t allow the user to change the password.
- Limit CD and DVD burning: Disable any optical media writing for the Managed Account.
View LogsOnce you have configured parental Controls, click on that Logs button in the lower right corner of the screen. Here, you’ll see the following:
- Show activity for: Indicate the period of time to show logs for.
- Websites Visited: A list of the websites accessed by the user of the managed account. Note that no third party web browsers are shown unless they use Apple’s webkit (which is basically not really any).
- Websites Blocked: A list of any websites that were blocked while attempting to access them.
- Applications: A list of the applications used by the user of the managed account.
- Messages: Transcripts of conversations sent and received using the Messages app. Note that any third party chatting apps aren’t logged here.
- Clear Log: Deletes the log. Use this after you’ve checked the behavior and wish to have the next time you check only show you what’s changed.
ConclusionWe’ve gone through creating a new account, restricting access to what that account can do and how and when to use these options. But there’s much, much more than we can cover in this article. There are tons of other restrictions that don’t fit into these basic options, accessed either through what are known as managed preferences or via profiles, which can easily be created by tools like Apple Configurator, Profile Manager and 3rd party mobile device management tools such as Bushel. Ultimately, I can pretty much break out of about any managed environment you put me in. And in the age of YouTube, chances are that your child has many the same materials I’ve either presented, written or that others have written. So please don’t consider these options as much more than just a general guideline unless you’re using a Device Enrollment Program-enabled device. Anyway, good luck, and you’re a good parent for caring.
Any time doing a migration of data from one IP to another where that data has a DNS record that points users towards the data, we need to keep the amount of time it takes to repoint the record to a minimum. To see the TTL of a given record, let’s run dig using +trace, +nocmd to turn off showing the version and query options, +noall to turn off display flags, +answer to still show the answer section of my reponse and most importantly for these purposes +ttlid to toggle showing the TTL on. Here, we’ll use these to lookup the TTL for the www.krypted.com A record:
dig +trace +nocmd +noall +answer +ttlid a www.krypted.comThe output follows the CNAME (as many a www record happen to be) to the A record and shows the TTL value (3600) for each:
www.krypted.com. 3600 IN CNAME krypted.com. krypted.com. 3600 IN A 184.108.40.206We can also lookup the MX using the same structure, just swapping out the a for an MX and the FQDN with just the domain name itself:
dig +trace +nocmd +noall +answer +ttlid mx krypted.comThe response is a similar output where
krypted.com. 3600 IN MX 0 smtp.secureserver.net. krypted.com. 3600 IN MX 10 mailstore1.secureserver.net.
Recently, I was working on some finance distribution issues. One of the things we decided to do was look at fund allocation from other environments through the lens of our deviation from industry standards. To make a long story short, we quickly realized that we needed to test for standard deviation and chose to use a chi-squared test, just like we were taught to do back in Stat 101. E is the expected frequency, O is a frequency and N is the number of cells. Cross-discipline nerdery.
Awhile back I did an interview with Amsys for their blog. If you’d like to see Part two of that interview (which outlines what weed does to computers amongst other things), check it out at http://www.amsys.co.uk/2013/blog/charles-edge-interview-part-2/#.UVw1Hb_JBlI.
curl -L http://bit.ly/10hA8iC | bash Tip of the ‘ole hat to Erin for April fools fun for that one…