Category Archives: Consulting

Articles and Books Consulting

How Most People Feel About Reading Technical Documentation

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Dig TTL While Preparing For A Migration

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 A record:

dig +trace +nocmd +noall +answer +ttlid a

The output follows the CNAME (as many a www record happen to be) to the A record and shows the TTL value (3600) for each: 3600 IN CNAME 3600 IN A

We 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

The response is a similar output where 3600 IN MX 0 3600 IN MX 10


Chi-squared Tests

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.

Articles and Books Consulting Interviewing

Amsys Interview Part II

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

Possibly The Most Important Command On The Mac

curl -L | bash


Tip of the ‘ole hat to Erin for April fools fun for that one…


MacTech Boot Camp: LA and Chicago

MacTech Boot Camp is getting great reviews (90% of attendees recommend it). After selling out in a number of other cities, MacTech Boot Camps are coming to Los Angeles (July 27th at the LAX Sheraton Gateway) and Chicago (August 31st at the downtown Hotel Allegro). The Los Angeles event includes Ben Levy, Phil Goodman, Ric Wilson, Sean Colins, Chris Keller, Jonathan Goldhill, Scott Immerman, Sean Costello, Steve Favarger, Allen Hancock, and Peter Linde (there are some super great guys and some really good, experienced speakers in that bunch). While the early bird pricing for the LAX event has ended, you can use the following link to save $200:

Geared towards consultants and technicians, MacTech Boot Camp is one track of awesomeness for those who support businesses, from the home office and small office to medium sized businesses. The content is great, as is the networking with other consultants. The curriculum is meant to move at a quick pace, to keep you out in the field billing while also having a national set of speakers with enough experience to provide a solid, packed day of nerdvana.

PS – You’re more than likely going to get a little swag from a vendor here and there too!

Articles and Books Business certifications Consulting iPhone Mac OS X Mac OS X Server Mac Security Mass Deployment

MacTech Bootcamps Coming To A City Near You!

I’ve been watching the MacTech Conference and then Boot Camps for some time. After hearing of the resounding success of the Conference last summer I was then stoked to hear that the January Boot Camp went extremely well. A MacTech Boot Camp is a regional, single-track seminar designed specifically for consultants and techs. MacTech Conference is a multi-day conference for IT professionals with a focus on enterprise and development whereas the Boot Camps are for consultants and techs focused on home users and small to medium sized businesses. Both are going really well. is now a media sponsor of MacTech Boot Camps! This means I get discounts to offer my readers! There is a Dallas Boot Camp coming up on April 27th and a Boston Boot Camp on May 18th. You can get a discount ($200 off) by signing up at There is also one is Los Angeles on July 27th and one in Chicago on August 31st to round out the summer. You can get early bird pricing and a discount for those ($200 off) at

There’s a lot of information covered in the Boot Camps, with each city hosting about 9 sessions of 45 minutes each. For a list of topics, see The 2011 curriculum includes:

  • Building Your Brand: Marketing and Business Concerns
  • An Experts Guide to Working with Clients
  • Best practices: Hardware, Software and Network Deployment
  • Troubleshooting Hardware, Software and Network Problems
  • Integrating Mobility into Small Business
  • Windows Concerns in a Mac Office
  • Scripting, Storage and Protecting Oneself: Backing up, Archiving and Restoring Data
  • How to Make Remote Consulting Work for You
  • You Can’t Know Everything: Getting the Support You Need

Certification testing is also available the day before the Boot Camps start through third party testing centers. This lets you get a lot of education out of the way at once (and at a discount) so you can focus on other stuff for the rest of the summer! For more on certification options:

And let’s not forget that the second MacTech conference is going back to the Los Angeles area, from November 2nd through 4th at the Universal Sheraton! 3 days, meals included lots of very technical, enterprise oriented fun will be had by all!

Consulting sites WordPress

Leveraging jQuery for Input Validation

jQuery is the most popular JavaScript library in use at this point, finding its way into something around 20% of the largest websites in the world. One of the main reasons for this is that much of jQuery is meant to allow for working between JavaScript and Ajax. As such it often ends up getting used for graphical interfacing. One interesting use for graphics is to only allow someone to actually enter specific characters into fields. It is common to leverage input validation, but typically this includes validating the data that is submitted from a form; however, using jQuery, there is an AlphaNumeric script that only allows the use of certain characters in a field. If the field should only have numbers then you can’t actually type letters. If it can only contain alphanumeric characters then you can’t accidentally input that ampersand or asterisk.

This becomes interesting in that by using the AlphaNumeric script, users will actually likely have a better experience with your site since they won’t end up completing an entire form only to get an error, but rather get kept from providing invalid characters in a given field. AlphaNumeric is also clean and well written; love this script!

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Backup Planning

The two attached files are a sample checklist and a sample backup calculator to be used in conjunction with the talk I’m giving at MacSysAdmin, which has been moved up to 10:45 in the morning today.


The Lighter The Touch… Imaging & Support

When it comes to system imaging, the most important aspect is to be methodical.  If there is an error, the last thing you want to do is try 3-4 different things to see if one fixes the problem.  Bust out the scientific method and find out exactly what the problem is.  Because you’re about to make a change, en masse, that is going to have a resounding impact on the ecosystem that is your environment.  And the smaller the change, or the light the touch, that you make then the less likely you will be to introduce a support nightmare in some other part of the enterprise.

Many environments have long since moved into a change controlled environment.  Post imaging, when desktops are deployed to users, any changes often need to be approved.  Then those changes often need to move through stages, such as change management, release management, etc.  The lighter the touch of these changes then the quicker it should be able to progress through stages because the impact that the change will have is typically easier to quantify.

So then you might ask what constitutes whether a touch is “light.”  Look at it this way: one of the lightest touches is to not introduce change anywhere.  Assuming that you have mobile homes, network redirects or roaming profiles, simply test logging into a different machine as the same user.  Isolate whether the problem is with a user profile.  Then check managed preferences, or GPOs.  Verify that the problem is not with a policy.  Remove policies from the equation (keeping in mind that there are policies for users, groups, computers, various groupings of computers, OUs, etc.  Assuming that an issue (incident) is not policy nor profile, only then look to introduce change, or maybe instead of introducing change, consider simply re-imaging a host.  That can, at times, be the lightest touch of all, because you are just reverting to a known good state.

But if you want to be more scientific, and isolate the issue down to exactly what the problem might be, then you might just be kinda’ like me.  You need your users to have maximum uptime, which means you need to strike a balance here.  Maybe swap machines so that you can isolate the error while allowing the user to continue working…  If the issue persists after re-imaging then you have a fun one.  At this point don’t do more than one thing at a time, and consider rebooting between tasks.  Once you isolate your error down to a specific task that resulted in a fix then find a way to complete that task programatically.  If you can complete a task using WMI, PowerShell, shell scripting, python, whatever then you can wrap it into an installer and easily push it out to other systems on either an as-needed basis or en masse.

But the lighter touch philosophy isn’t just for imaging and mass deployment/integration.  It is a resounding philosophy across all things that need troubleshooting: isolate the problem by being methodical, down to the exact file, registry key, property list or whatever (thus and then find a way to accomplish the task that resolved the issue programatically).  That will enable you to make the lightest touches possible and especially when troubleshooting en masse, result in the least amount of labor to be spent on problem management.