Speaking Professionally

I've been speaking at conferences since about 2004 or so. I'm always looking to improve my craft of presenting the material I'm looking to deliver. I certainly think I've improved, but know that I can always get better. Now, I have seen a lot of good advice to speakers, particularly Peter Hosey's, "Presentation Tips," [http://boredzo.org/presentation-tips/] and others. However, most of what I've seen talk mostly about your slides. I also happen to run a conference [http://www.mactech.com/conference], so, I have some views from that perspective as well.

PSU Presentation: Computing By The Numbers

I'm giving a talk at Penn State's MacAdmins Conference. Attached are the talk notes, so people don't have to scribble furiously during the talk:

http://radiotope.com/f/Computing_By_The_Numbers.pdf

Enjoy!

Anti-Virus Options for OS X

I'll give you the executive summary ("TL;DR") version right up front: the world of anti-malware products for OS X is pretty awful.

Most products are re-cycled from their Windows counterparts and don't feel like something made for OS X. Many products destabilize the OS or have a heavy impact on CPU. Worst, many have vulnerabilities themselves, making you feel secure for having installed them, but in reality making you less secure.

Then, there's just plain foolishness. While evaluating the state of current A/V for OS X, I tried to get a trial of Symantec Endpoint Protection for Mac. After spending time on the website, and figuring I was just missing how to download it, I chatted with a sales rep. No, he assured me, I wasn't just missing it: there is no trial for the Mac. "Can't be," I thought.

The good news: there is a Mac client.

The bad news: you need to download the Windows version of the product, which weighs in at 1GB. It's a Windows .exe executable file. Or is it?

The Windows app is really a 7zip executable, so you can unpack it with The Unarchiver on your mac. This reveals a "Symantec_Endpoint_Protection_12.1.2_Part1_Trialware_EN" folder. Inside that archive at the path SEPM/Packages/, you'll find SEP_Mac.dat. Rename it to SEC_Mac.zip and again use The Unarchiver to unpack this and you'll get a new folder with the installer.

Why the obscurity?

Possibly the worst part of the whole experience? Symantec recommends that you use their Java-based download manager to download the file. Yeah, Symantec is truly concerned about security.

MacSysAdmin 2012-Logs, Damn Logs and Statistics

I'll be speaking at this year's MacSysAdmin Conference. So that people can listen without feeling the need to quickly copy everything down, I've prepared this handout that contains everything I reference.

Download it here:

MacSysAdmin_2012_handout.pdf

PSU MacAdmin Handout

I'm giving a presentation at this year's Penn State MacAdmin Conference. So people can pay attention and don't have to scribble notes, here's a complementary document that contains notes and links to everything I talk about in the presentation.

http://radiotope.com/f/PSU2012-Logs%2C%20Damn%20Logs%2C%20and%20Statisti...

More (Race) Data Nerdery

So, another race (Habitat for Humanity 5k charity, 2011), another batch of data. Unlike the last batch of data, I had less pre-conceived notions about the makeup, as I was paying more attention to our 9-year-old who ran her first 5k with us. Like the last set of data, the bulk of people came from towns in close proximity:

Ronkonkoma        Bohemia
   35                31 
Oakdale           Sayville 
   18                12 
Holbrook          Patchogue 
   11                11 
Manorville       West Babylon 

Challenge Your Assumptions

I've been on a small data analysis kick lately. It was great news when a recent race I ran freely shared the race data in a nice plain-text format (http://www.flrrt.com/results/sea11.txt). I converted this into a CSV file and read it into R. Now, just looking at the crowd, I would have guessed that there were a 'few hundred' people, the bulk of which were men. In fact, there were 969 runners overall with nearly an even split between men and women (480 female and 489 male - that's a pretty insignificant margin).

MacTech Conf 2011 Intro Playlist

Once again, I had a lot of people asking me about the music I chose for MacTech Conference. The idea for the Intro Playlist is that it entertain people while waiting for the initial opening of the conference. It's timed so that as the final song plays, Neil, Scotty and I can get up on-stage with no worries of changing, muting or stopping the music. Here's what I played this year:

Updated[2]: For Security's Sake: Remove Diginotar CA Certificate

*
Apple has released a security update for Snow Leopard and Lion that addresses this issue:

Snow Leopard: http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1446
Lion: http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1447

There is no update for Leopard, so, in that case, you should still follow the instructions below.

Apple's update simply drops these files into place (on Lion):

/System/Library/Keychains/EVRoots.plist
/System/Library/Keychains/SystemRootCertificates.keychain
/System/Library/Keychains/SystemTrustSettings.plist

So, no matter which updates you made to the Diginotar cert -- delete or untrust -- the Apple update will just plow over all of that with the right setting and updated certs.
*

While ignoring how broken the entire Certificate Authority (CA) model is, here's what you should do right now: Delete the CA cert for Diginotar from your system. Why?

http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2011/08/30/247730/Microsoft-warns...

Now, if you're an individual, this is simple: just remove it from your system. Since I largely focus on Macs here, that would be in the keychain. Open Keychain Access.app, search for "Diginotar" and delete the resulting certificate.

...and don't forget Firefox, which keeps its own list of CAs:

http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/kb/deleting-diginotar-ca-cert

But, what if you're a Sys Admin responsible for protecting a fleet of machines and you don't expect end-users to do this themselves? (Or, that you're going to personally visit each machine.) Automate it, of course! The security binary will help you do that:

sudo /usr/bin/security delete-certificate -Z C060ED44CBD881BD0EF86C0BA287DDCF8167478C /System/Library/Keychains/SystemRootCertificates.keychain

(You can first check for the existence of the certificate using security's find-certificate instruction.)

Of course, you're using a system management framework that will allow you to run this command on all the machines in your fleet, right?

Update: This turns out to be a little more complex than simply removing the certificate. While removing the Diginotar cert is still recommended, DigiNotar is cross signed by other CAs. Removing the Diginotar root only removes one of them (and there are 5 paths). Also, it seems that there are some bugs in Apple's certificate handling in some cases. So, what can we do?

Certainly, remove the Diginotar cert from your machines, as that does help the most egregious cases. From there, we have two options: Use FireFox 6.0.1, which uses its own root certificate store and is now protected against this. Secondly, we need to wait for a patch from Apple--the only one in a position to really address this. Only a patch from Apple can completely fix browsers and apps that rely on the system store, Safari, of course, being the biggest use case, with Chrome and Mail.app as two other Webkit-based apps that may rely on the system root store for certificate handling.

(Big thanks to Harald Wagener for review on this, and reminding me about using find-certificate.)

Check GMail with IMAP and Mail.app

GMail, when accessed via IMAP tends to do some "interesting" things. There are several settings that lessen the pain:

1 - Click on, 'Settings,' at the top of the GMail web page while you're signed in. Click on "Forwarding and POP/IMAP" and then scroll down to the "IMAP" section.

2 - Update the following settings:
"When I mark a message in IMAP as deleted" - Auto-Expunge off
"When a message is marked as deleted and expunged from the last visible IMAP folder" - Immediately delete the message forever
"Folder Size Limits" - leave as default

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