Watchman Monitoring is a tool used to monitor computers. I’ve noticed recently that there’s a lot of traffic on the Watchman Monitoring email list that shows people want a great little (and by little I mean inexpensive from a compute time standpoint) monitoring tool to become a RMM (Remote Management and Monitoring) tool. The difference here is in “Management.” Many of us actually don’t want a monitoring tool to become a management tool unless we are very deliberate about what we do with it. For example, that script that takes a machine name of ‘rm -Rf /’ that some ironic hipster of a user decided to name their hard drive because, well, they can – well that script that was just supposed to run a fix permissions because that ironic jackass of a user in his v-neck with his funny hat and unkempt beard just accidentally cross-site script attacked himself and he’s now crying out of his otherwise brusque no-lense having glasses and you’re now liable for his data loss because you didn’t sanitize that computer name variable before you sent it to some script. Since we don’t want the scurrilous attention of hipsters everywhere throwing caustic gazes at us, we’ll all continue using a standard patch management system like Casper, Absolute, Munki, FileWave, etc. Many organizations can still take value out of using Watchman Monitoring (and tools like Watchman) to trigger scripted events in their environment. Now, before I do this I want to make something clear. I’m just showing a very basic thing here. I am assuming that people would build some middleware around something a little more complicated than curl, but given that this is a quick and dirty article, curl’s all I’m using for examples. I’m also not giving up my API key as that would be silly. Therefore, if I were using a script, I’d have two variables in here. The first would be $MACHINEID, the client/computer ID you would see in Watchman. This would be what you see in red here, when looking at an actual computer. Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 9.35.54 AM The second variable is my API token. This is a special ID that you are provided from our friends at Watchman. Unless you’re very serious about building some scripts or middleware like right now, rather than bug them for it, give it a little while and it will be available in your portal. I’ve given the token $APITOKEN as my variable there. The API, like many these days is json. This doesn’t send entire databases or even queries, but instead an expression of each variable. So, to see all of the available variables for our machine ID, we’re going to use curl (I like to add -i to see my headers) and do the following lookup: curl -i$MACHINEID.json?auth_token=$APITOKEN This is going to spit out a bunch of information, parsed with a comma, whereas each variable and then the contents of that variable are stored in quoted text. To delimit my results, I’m simply going to awk for a given position (using comma as my delimiter instead of the default space). In this case, machine name is what I’m after: curl -i$MACHINEID.json?auth_token=$APITOKEN | awk -F"," '{ print $4}' And there you go. It’s that easy. Great work by the Watchman team in making such an easy to use and standards compliant API. Because of how common json is I think integrating a number of other tools with this (kinda’ like the opposite of the Bomgar implementation they already have) is very straight forward and should allow for serious automation for those out there that are asking for it. For example, it would be very easy to say take this output and weaponize it to clear caches before bugging you:
“plugin_id”:1237,”plugin_name”:”Check Root Capacity”,”service_exit_details”:”[2013-07-01] WARNING:  92% (276GB of 297GB) exceeds the 90% usage threshold set on the root volume by about 8 GB.”
Overall, I love it when I have one more toy to play with. You can automatically inject information into asset management systems, trigger events in other systems and if need be, allow the disillusioned youth the ability to erase their own hard drives!

When you’re integrating Final Cut Server with other products, you often find yourself writing scripts to perform various tasks. One of those tasks might be to create a new project, or a production as it’s called in Final Cut Server. Because a production can have a number of attributes, a great way to do this is to create a template production and then make copies of it (or clones) when you want to create subsequent projects. To do so, you’ll use the fcsvr_client command, along with the clone verb. The -name option will allow you to set the name of the production which would then be followed by the unique ID of the production template that you manually create using the Final Cut Server application. Presuming we are creating a production called Emerald with a template of /project/298, we could use the following:
fcsvr_client clone –name Emerald /project/298
If we wanted to get the ID of this project, we would then use:
fcsvr_client search –crit Emerald /project
We could then go a step further and actually create an asset in this new project by using the –projaddr option for createasset. In the below example, we’ll presume that the new project ID was 299 and then create an asset called that is stored on a device with an ID of 5 as well as provide a description and a tag:
fcsvr_client createasset –background –projaddr /project/299 pa_asset_media /dev/5/ CUST_DESCRIPTION=”Emerald throwing food at daddy” CUST_KEYWORDS=”food fight”
Now to throw it all together in a little script that could be fired off through another application that can be kicked off from another application. In the below, we assume that it is a bash script that was handed a project name via $1, a device ID in $2 and a file name in $3:
#!/bin/bash fcsvr_client clone –name $1 /project/298 MyProjectID = fcsvr_client search –crit “$1” /project /usr/bin/logger “Production $MyProjectID with name of $1 created” fcsvr_client createasset –background –projaddr /project/$MyProjectID pa_asset_media /dev/$2/$3 CUST_DESCRIPTION=”Automatically uploaded file” CUST_KEYWORDS=”movie, automated” /usr/bin/logger “Asset $3 on device $2 created in production $1”
If we had just wanted to create the asset, we could have simply used line 5, placing the Project ID in $1 by changing out $MyProjectID with $1. We could also use Transmogrifier to easily return the assetID once it has been created in Final Cut Server, allowing that to be returned to the application that might be calling up this script. This allows you to integrate the asset and production creation part of Final Cut Server with other solutions, such as a PHP web upload application, FileMaker or even another Digital Asset Management solutions.

WordPress uses MySQL as a back-end. I’ve seen a number of scenarios where someone was comment spammed. The comments weren’t approved and so never appeared on the site, but they were starting to fill up the MySQL database given that there were about 40,000 in one case and about 55,000 in another. In order to trash them you can use the following query from mysqladmin (once connected to the database of course):
DELETE FROM wp_comments WHERE comment_approved = ‘0’

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I originally posted this at Biometric systems measure the physical traits of users to offer a high level of security. As part of their nature biometric security requires users be present in order to log into the systems they protect. Biometric systems typically rely on the combination of a biometric trait and a password. They can also rely on the use of an access card, resulting in a situation where there are three forms of security present to access a system. Biometrics measure physical traits such as hand geometry, retinal patterns, facial scans, fingerprints or voice patterns. The use of biometrics has a potential in a number of situations where security requirements are greater than the typical username and password combination. Fingerprint scans are relatively quick, taking approximately 2-3 seconds on average. Biometric systems can be trained to work for multiple users. They can authorize different levels of access to systems. A fingerprint sensor can be used in conjunction with a Biometric plug-in for FileMaker database security. The Biometric plug-in does not work directly with or replace FileMaker’s built-in password scheme. Instead it offers another layer of security directly within FileMaker It is possible to fool a biometric system. No security system is truly foolproof. However, biometrics offer a new layer of security that would otherwise not be present. Requiring passwords in conjunction with a biometric trait such as a fingerprint is better than allowing authentication based solely on the biometric trait. By matching the password to the biometric trait the system becomes more secure than if it was using just one of the two security mechanisms. Biometric systems aren’t as expensive as they once were. For example, Puppy Suite for Mac OS X Fingerprint Identification Unit and authentication software bundle. Lightweight and small, the Puppy unit offers the ultimate in convenience with a new level of safekeeping. The Puppy ranges from $80 to $130. USB drives that provide biometric authentication are fairly inexpensive now as well, with at least 10 companies offering products. While there are few other solid packages for Mac OS X, it is possible to purchase Windows-based biometric solutions for as low as $30. There is a biometric mouse called the BioMouse. IBM has perhaps gone as far with their laptops as any other company in biometric product offerings with a laptop that does not boot without the use of a fingerprint from an authorized user. Biometrics is going to become an integral component of security. As the price of biometric solutions comes down the product offerings are becoming more numerous. While most biometrics are not foolproof, they do offer an additional layer of security in an emergently insecure world where Information Technology is concerned.

I originally posted this at Did you know FileMaker can be configured to authenticate with Open Directory and Active Directory? What does that mean? Well, most companies use a Windows Server or Macintosh Server to allow their employees to log in every day. FileMaker Server 7 now has the ability to connect to those same user accounts instead of having to remember usernames and passwords for both your FileMaker account and your computer account. This also allows companies easier account maintenance when employees join or leave companies. You no longer have to add an account for both the network and FileMaker. In addition to all these benefits, external authentication provides more security for companies that allow their employees to log in remotely.