User Groups

JNUC 2015 - Day 1

I am writing today from JNUC 2015, in Minneapolis, MN. JNUC stands for Jamf Nation User Conference. It's a 3-day conference centered around everything Casper Suite. JAMF Software model is "Helping the enterprise succeed with the Apple platform." This motto greatly aligns with my personal vision for helping an IT organization. Over 1,500 people have come from all over the world to share the experiences with Casper Suite, Casper Focus, and Composer. I am excited to be afforded the opportunity to share, explore, and learn about new ways to utilize the software. Today there were talks on System Integrity Protection, by Rich Trouton, JAMF Software Security, and Vulnerability Assessments, by Daniel Mayer, and Novel Solutions with JAMF IT, by Byron Terrell of JAMF Software. The agenda had plenty of other talks, but those were the three that caught my eye and attention. For a complete listing of talks navigate to the JNUC 2015 Sessions schedule.

One final note, I attended a talked "Culture Matters: Casper Suite for People Who Fear Going Corporate." This was an interesting talk because it centered around the idea of managing a people who aren't used to be being managed. It is an interesting idea of how to get everyone "on board" while ensuring IT is ensuring a safe environment. Four statements stood out from the talk:

  • Things they'll be able to do
  • Things we'll be able to do
  • Things we won't be able to do
  • What will they say at lunch?

These are all value points to consider when dealing with any users/staff/engineers etc...When managing or providing services to client devices ensure you explain the top three items and think about what people are saying about your service during lunch because it may not be the right thing.

Lastly, Macbrained threw an awesome, or what I think was awesome, event at Day Block Brewery. Well Over 140 people showed up to have beers, food, and great conversation centered around tech and life. As a disclaimer I do help organize the Macbrained events. Overall it was a great day and I look forward to all the sessions and conversations on day 2.

Penn State MacAdmins 2015


Penn State MacAdmins conference was last week. Over 600+ MacAdmins traveled from all over the world to discuss and share knowledge regarding OS X. This was my first year at PSU MacAdmins so I did not know what to expect. With that said I found this conference to very informative and collaborative. 

The first day there were five workshop's for attendees to choose from:

  • Apple Workshop
  • Fundamentals of Wi-Fi(or, Arguing with Physics)
  • Packaging Workshop
  • All Things Security
  • Introduction to Cocoa Development and Reverse Engineering on OS X

All great workshops but I choose the Packaging Workshop. This was of particular interest to me because I did not know how an installer should actually look and behave. This workshop explained did a great job of explaining how packages should look and behave. In addition to this information there were helpful tips with hands on packaging experience in the GUI and on the command line. The workshop had some of the following topics and suggested a few applications: 

There was also scripting and Stupid packaging tricks recommendations. This was by far one of the most helpful sessions for me all conference. I did not have a strong background with this particular topic but after this workshop I feel more than confident in my ability to exam and build proper applications packages for deployment. 

There were a plethora of amazing sessions all week long. Check out the schedule Some of my favorites were:

  • Integrating AutoPKG and the Casper Suite with the JSSImporter
  • To 12,00 Macs and beyond....
  • Administering Office 2016 for Mac
  • It's Dangerous to Go Alone, Take This!
  • Automated Testing with VMware Fusion
  • The 12 Unix Commands Everyone Should Know
  • OS X Operating System Security at Scale
  • Using AutoPKG for Windows Software
  • Open (and/or Free) vs Closed Source - Steel Cage Death Match
  • Using Google's Open Source Tools to Manage Macs

The list is too long to list all the other sessions that I enjoyed because I could not attend them all. But something interesting occurred during this conference, crowd sourcing notes with Google Docs. I have always wondered why more people are not using crowd sourcing note taking.  It could allow you to be in multiple places at once or the ability to review the notes at the end of the day. Slack was the primary driver when organizing notes for most of the sessions and EVERYONE seemed to be on board with the idea. Many times before a session would be begin someone would place a link to the notes in #PSUMAC slack channel to allow note collaboration. 

Slides and video's will be released at a later on PSU Mac Admins website and on youtube but for those who people want to immediately review this was the perfect medium. Slack brought people who weren't even at the conference into the conversation adding input regarding topics or peering into the notes, causing further interest about all of the talks and topics. Here is a Google Docs Collection links from the notes taken by everyone at PSU Mac Admins 2015:

One particular theme that I heard constantly whether in the packaging workshop, sessions or during general conversations at Legends, automation is key. There are plenty of tools that can help you automate very simple and complex task during your day. If you have not heard of autopkg, please go and read the github page.. It interfaces with many of the tools you use everyday, and will take the mundane task of patching & deploying applications out of your hands. Automate your VMs with vfuse by Joseph Chilcote or with Rich Trouton's session on virtualization testing. The theme was your time is precious as a Mac admin, therefore save time where you can which will free your mind to accomplish more challenging tasks. 

I do want to give a thank you to Penn State Mac Admins Conference, Penn Stater, and for all the individuals who attended or interacted with community during the conference. I can't wait for PSU Mac Admins 2016! See you then and thank you again for the best week of Summer Camp. 

We are stronger as a Whole

Macbrained's November meeting was held at Salesforce. This meet up was a bit different from the events we've held previously. Normally we have a guest speaker talk about a topic of their choice, then we network. This time around we still networked however we held to panels: General I.T. and Security. We took questions from the the community via Google Moderator and Macbrained FB page. Here is a sample of the questions the community submitted:

  • AV Software on a Mac, is it there for legit reasons, or just for compliance?
  • What are the top security threats for OS X right now?
  • Binary white listening is becoming a thing on OS X, rolling it to a mac user base is likely to cause bigger waves than a Windows based userbase that is used to having restricted rights etc. Anyone have a plan?
  • What type of aggregate syslog collection/analysis is everyone using?

These are some of the questions that were answered during the panel. There were followers on Twitter who chimed in with responses as well. Answers consisted of AV is for compliance more than protection, check out Google Santa Open Source program, and users should attempt to utilize Facebooks OS Query

Communities help expose people to resources to help them accomplish their goals and gives people a chance to give back. Those goals can entail scripting, new ideas of how to implement or solve a problem, someone to bounce ideas off of, or just someone to lean on. 

Do you belong to any communities? Do you give back to the open source community? Here are some images from the Macbrained November Meet-Up. 

Security Panel, General I.T. Panel, and the Macbrained Family 


User communities are really important to me. It is like a tight nit village of people who want to see one another succeed and are willing to help whoever comes into village. Macbrained had a community event called a Hackathon. We tasked people to create a tool that the community will benefit from and is open source. There were some amazing entries into the competition. The group that won were the members from the Linde Group. They created a tool called autopkgr, which is a GUI application for autopkg. For those who don't like the terminal or scripting, autopkgr has nice automation tools built-in, that can make the life of a sysadmin a bit easier. It was a great event at Square Up who have an amazing space in downtown San Francisco. I again recommend user groups for those trying to get into the field because there are plenty of people who are willing to teach. Which user groups do you belong to?

The Linde Group & Autopkgr

The Linde Group & Autopkgr

The Travel Guys & Radar

The Travel Guys & Radar

Midnight Marauders & IT Health Manager 

Midnight Marauders & IT Health Manager 

Macbrained & Evernote

Evernote....Eernote California Remember Everything

In my post last week I talked about finding a user group that can help you and allow you to contribute to the group as well. Well I went to an event on Wednesday March 6th with the user group called Macbrained.

We were lucky enough to have Evernote sponsor our get together. For those of you who do know what Evernote is, it is a note taking application, on iOS, Android, Windows, and OSX. It does way more than take notes but that is one of the core features of the application. I use Evernote on a daily basis for work, school, and personal business. If you have not had a chance to check it out I would suggest heading over to their site and checking it out. 

On this night the subject of conversation revolved around autopkg + jss importer tool. These tools are open source projects that help a sys admin and client platform engineers life easier because it allows you to download dmgs that automatically get imported into your JSS. Autopkg helps a you download installers from companies like Google, Firefox, Adobe, and Java without having to visit a website, and it is scriptable. Galen Richards from Evernote provided us with insight into how he utilizes both tools and explained how you can implement them in your environment if you please.

Once the Galen had finished demonstrating how to use autopkg + jss importer tool people are begin to socialize with other friends, colleagues, and newly met individuals about work, life, and anything technology related. User groups are a great way to get involved in your community to educate yourself and set up a support network.

Which User Groups do you belong to?

The Co-Found Arek Sokol and Galen Richards the Presenter

This was the question box. Very cool by Catch Box

The Assembly