Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server 10.6.1 Now Available

Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server 10.6.1 are now available for download. Listed fixes for Mac OS X Server include:
  • reliability of services using Grand Central Dispatch
  • duplicate serial number alerts on servers with multiple network interfaces
But more importantly are a number of minor GUI changes that have been resolved. If you’re an early adopter I would certainly run this as soon as possible. In addition, Server will have the following fixes, which are also included in Client:
  • compatibility with some Sierra Wireless 3G modems
  • an issue that might cause DVD playback to stop unexpectedly
  • some printer compatibility drivers not appearing properly in the add printer browser
  • an issue that might make it difficult to remove an item from the Dock
  • instances where automatic account setup in Mail might not work
  • an issue where pressing cmd-opt-t in Mail brings up the special characters menu instead of moving a message
  • Motion 4 becoming unresponsive

Snow Leopard & networksetup (802.1x + Locations)

One of the best new features of the Snow Leopard command line, for those of us who need to do automation at least, is the addition of a few new options in networksetup. That’s why I did a little write-up on the new options at afp548.com. Check it out here!

Snow Leopard & Managed Client Preferences

In Mac OS X 10.6’s Open Directory, when you add ManagedClient to managed preferences you end up with two com.apple.mail entries (one suffixed with .managed). One is called com.apple.mail.managed, which is used for Mail for 10.5 and below and frankly doesn’t seem to be complete, so I’ve manually populated my environment with keys from 10.5 Server. The other is com.apple.mail, which now supports SSL, but only gives the drop-downl list for Always, showing no options in Once/Often. One thing that was a bit confusing to me is what Beau and I discovered to be a GUI bug, where when you click on a manifest and then click on Once, Often or Always, you have to click on the disclosure triangle in order to get the button to add a New Key. Given that there is a new service, Address Book, I would have expected to see a com.apple.addressbook, especially since the property list isn’t exactly welcoming for edits. But what I haven’t seen any mention of thus far in the manifests is Exchange 2007 support. No EWS strings, no nothin’. But all in all, I think it’s still coming together a bit and I look forward to seeing a cohesive vision of leveraging managed clients to automatically push out iCal, Address Book and Mail, no matter what service you’re using, to clients.

Ticket Viewer: What's in a Name Anyway?

Kerberos.app + Snow Leopard = Ticket Viewer. I’m not sure what the point of this is, but I’m guessing it will become clear some day. Possibly Apple plans on also integrating some other form of tickets? Curious, but easy to figure out quickly since the icon didn’t change…

Snow Leopard + SkyHook = Kerb Problems?

In the Date and Time System Preference pane there is now an option to enable “Set time zone automatically using current location”. Assuming you have a Mac OS X computer with Wi-Fi and you use this option (which is not enabled by default) then your portable looks up your location automatically using the wireless access points surrounding you, which can then be looked up against the Skyhook database API and then changes your time zone based on your physical location. However, if your system looks back to the IP address of the KDC and sees a time offset that is greater than 5 minutes a few people have asked me whether that could be problematic. The answer is no. Reason being that the time is relative, based on your time zone setting. Therefore, even if your computers time changes provided that the relative time to the time on the KDC (be it Active Director or Open Directory) is accurate then you should still be in good shape. Overall, this is a great new feature of Snow Leopard. It’s been integrated into Firefox as well (in your about:config page look for geo.enabled) and I’d expect to start seeing it on a number of devices and in a number of applications that can be geography-aware without having to implement GPS.

Snow Leopard Certifications

Apple has released the Snow Leopard certification information and site. To make a long story short, for those who are ACSA inclined, you basically have the Apple Certified Support Professional, which is just one exam based on the Snow 101 course. You then have the Apple Certified Technical Coordinator (ACTC), which is the Support Essentials Exam along with the Server Essentials Exam, based on the Snow 201 course. Now for where the changes come into play. First and foremost security has returned, although it’s been lumped in with mobility, likely to focus the syllabus on settings through managed client (ie – automated FileVaulting). Therefore, I guess the SANS course will no longer be needed (I wrote it following the cancellation of the Apple security course), so this can be a pseudo-announcement that it is going away. You can take Directory Services, Deployment or Security + Mobility (these are Snow 301, 302 & 303 respectively) in conjunction with the aforementioned Server Essentials Exam and then have an Apple Certified Specialist in that category. If you take all three then you will be an Apple Certified Systems Administrator. Overall, for most, not a lot of changing up in the program, but adding the additional specialist certifications is interesting and similar to how Microsoft added the MCTS which given the number of products Microsoft makes has a lot of potential choices for exams, each with its own unique identifier.

Directory Utility in Snow Leopard

In Leopard, the Kerberos application got mad because the other utilities were making fun of him. So he went and hid in /System/Library/CoreServices and became an application that was summoned by other applications (ie – Keychain Utility) when they couldn’t do their own work and needed him. Directory Utility saw this and decided it looked like a pretty darn appealing way to go. So Directory Utility has now moved into /System/Library/CoreServices. Not that you will always need to use her. You see, if you open the Accounts System Preference pane and click on Login Options you’ll see Network Account Server. Here you can click on Join. With more space in the /Applications/Utilities playground it’s now possible for others to join in the fun. Especially since there are a few developers (such as DeployStudio) who now like to go there to hang out (even if they are uninvited, being from the wrong side of the development tracks and all).

Using Podcast Composer in Podcast Producer 2

In Snow Leopard Server, Apple has introduced a whole new way to make Podcast workflows. It’s now simple to use, but still with amazing and powerful new automations that give Podcast Producer admins the ability to configure a host of new options quickly and easily. To get started, first setup Podcast Producer. Then, fire up Podcast Composer and go through 7 quick steps. First, provide a default name, author name and title for your workflow, then click on step 2.
Podcast Composer Step 1: Select a Source
Podcast Composer Step 1: Title & Author Information
In step two you’re going to configure the source of the video and audio. For each of the three options, Single Source, Dual Source and Montage, you’ll have an i to obtain more information about the source and configure settings more granularly. Single Source will perform much of the same functionality as Podcast Composer 1, you can select audio, video or Screen Recording (aka – screen capture). There’s a nice new feature for Automatic chapter generation for longer videos now, as well. Dual Source will allow users to use Keynote along with the video being captured, one of the coolest aspects of Podcast Composer 2 by far. You can select how the Keynote will interact with the video using some transitions familiar to users of both Keynote and iMovie. Finally, you can select Montage, which will use QuickLook to transition between various movies, images, documents (Word, Pages, PDF) and presentations (PowerPoint & Keynote) – if QuickLook can interpret it then you can drop them in.
Podcast Composer Step 2: Select a Source
When you’ve defined your source, let’s move on to Step 3, a very basic editorial workflow going from left to right on the screen, again using the information overlay (when you mouse over an item) to first define an Introduction movie, then a title sequence and effects for the title (which is user defined using your defaults), then the watermark (which you can now place anywhere on the screen, control the opacity for and place a bar along the bottom with information from your title bar and finally you define the exit credits. For all of these Apple has provided some stock footage but you can also define your own as well.
Podcast Composer Step 3: Intros, Outros & Watermarks
In step 4, define the output format (or formats as you can output a number of different clips if you so choose). Here, you can set the video and audio codecs that you would like to use. You don’t actually usually need to change anything in this step once it has been predefined in the workflow on the server.
Podcast Composer Step 4: Export Settings
Podcast Composer Step 4: Export Settings
In Step 5, choose where the recordings are to end up.  Using this is really nice as you can simultaneously send your new podcast to a wiki, a Final Cut Server and a workflow-defined directory.  If sending to a directory or a Final Cut Server then you have the option to perform further automations against the file.
Podcast Composer Step 5: Destinations
Podcast Composer Step 5: Destinations
In Step 6, choose who to notify (if anyone) about the new podcast.
Configuring Notifications in Step 6
Step 7 is to deploy the podcast workflow to your server. Simply click Save to output a file or Deploy to actually add that workflow to a Podcast Producer server (plug in host name, user name and password and hit save). Now, when users go to use Podcast Capture they’ll be able to use the new workflow! Podcast Composer is a great start to allowing systems administrators to take more use of Podcast Producer 2 and all its new features without having to go out and learn complex ruby programming. I hope you enjoy it as much as I clearly have been.