Networking Macs & PCs Together

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 windows and mac communicating

Here at Everon we primarily deal with the Windows environment. However, as Macs have become increasingly popular in the business world, we have gone with the tides and have been assisting in the troubleshooting of Macs, as well. At times, however, those two different types of operating systems can conflict with each other. Here’s how to solve that.

I, myself, have an Apple Mac on Mavericks OS and an HP machine on Windows 7 Professional OS. Sometimes I need to send files back and forth between the two, so my best idea was to set up a mapped drive between the two machines.

To do this, I started on my Windows PC and created a folder. Due to issues with security under user profiles, I created the folder on my C:\ drive called “Mac.” Once that was created, I right-clicked on the folder, and went into Properties ->Sharing and shared out the folder.

Mac1I then went into Advanced Sharing ->Permissions and ensured that “Everyone” was set to “Full Control.” When dealing with permissions in a Windows environment, it is always best to use your Security permissions as your more restrictive permissions. Sharing should always be set to allow everyone full control, and then you tighten it down from there. (Maybe I will write a blog post about that later. ;) )

Once that is done, go to the Security tab and set your permissions. For me, since I wasn’t too concerned with the security of this share, I simply allowed “Everyone” to have “Modify” permissions (not “Full Control”). The difference between “Modify” and “Full Control” in a Windows environment, is that “Full Control” allows the user/group the ability to change/edit permissions and take ownership. This could mean that someone can lock you out of your own share. “Modify”allows creation, deletion, editing of files and folders inside that share, but does not allow for modifying any properties of that share.

Mac2Now you can lock down your permissions to just your Mac (however, I am not going into that here). Once you have allowed “Everyone” the “Modify” rights to your share, you are ready to share it out on your Mac.

Go to your Mac, and in the Finder, go to GO ->Connect to Server:

Mac3

I have modified the image to remove my computer name. However the address string you need to type is the following: smb://{computername}/{sharename}. If you hit the + symbol, it will add this location as your favorites, so you don’t have to type it repeatedly.

Once you have that set, hit “Connect.” This will pop up a new window requesting credentials. These are login credentials to your machine, so input your username and password, and hit Connect:

Mac4

 

This maps the share to your Mac, and you are ready to go! As you can see, I have the mapped share set to show up on my Mac desktop, however this isn’t done automatically, as it merely opens the folder.

Mac5To get the share to show up on your desktop, go to Finder ->Preferences, and inside Preferences put a check mark on Connected Servers. That is it!

Mac6For more help with networking your office Macs to your office PCs, call our technicians at Everon at 1-888-244-1748!

 

Identifying Computer Ports on PCs: a primer for everybody

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In the world of being a remote technician, we sometimes have to talk clients through physical troubleshooting techniques, whether it’s walking them through BIOS settings or plugging a cable into a port on their PC. As a client, how can you understand what your tech is telling you?

Communication is key, but a diagram is even better. Take a look at what my co-worker Frank sent over to me earlier today. This excellent diagram goes through most of the identifiable ports on a standard PC. (Apple’s Macs are a different animal, altogether.) If you are the client, this diagram can help you better understand (and explain things to) your technician.

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Photo used with permission from removeandreplace.com.

At the top left, you have ports that have all been replaced by USB technology. These can be considered the dinosaurs of the PC ports world. Serial and parallel ports were used for connecting many peripherals to the computer, in particular printers. This is generally no longer the case.

The ports on the upper right-hand corner are all dedicated to video. These are what link most monitors to computers — the old style of connecting (i.e. non-wirelessly). VGA is still used today, and many monitors also support DVI. Realize, however, that DVI (Digital Video Interface) is not just the connection you see above. The various DVI cables have a range of uses. Here is a great guide for explaining those differences.

The next two areas, networking ports on the left, and USB ports on the right, are the two most common causes of questions. Ethernet ports are what CAT5e/CAT6 cabling plugs into. It is your most standard method of connection to networks, like the one at your office, and to the Internet. (The RJ14 connection is not used much any longer. This port was for modems and analog phones.) USB A is the most standard connection you will see to plugged into the computer, and USB B is the type of connection on the other end, in cases such as printers, external drives, etc. The mini and micro versions of USB are used primarily for cell phones, digital cameras, etc.

The next section details audio connections on the left, and Firewire connections on the right. The Audio connections are color-coordinated for your understanding. As for Firewire technology, this isn’t seen too terribly much, despite it being faster bandwidth than USB. Firewire grew in popularity in Macs, however, not so much with PCs.

The bottom sections show power cables and miscellaneous connections you might see on a PC. Many computers nowadays are coming with Display Port, which allows you to connect a second monitor to your PC. The eSata connection is an external SATA connection, which provides an even faster connection to your machine from the outside. SATA connections, or Serial ATA technology, is what most hard drives are being built with. This connection allows you to connect a hard drive and provides for very fast speeds.

For the most part, Macs have the same ports as PCs (USB, audio, etc.), however, they do have some proprietary ports/cabling that does not come on PCs. A few examples are the Lightning Port and the Thunderbolt Port. Lightning ports are in newer iPhones (past the iPhone 4) and are used for charging those devices. The Thunderbolt port takes PCIe and Display Port technology and combines them to make a very fast connection. You can read more about the Thunderbolt port here.

Newer, faster ports and cabling are coming out all of the time, so eventually this list will be full of dinosaurs. But it’s a great starting point to help understand what all of those fancy holes in your computer mean! ;) And remember, if you have questions about this, or need any other tech help, you can always reach us at 888-244-1748. We’re available 24/7, 365.

 

 

Mac Tips for Techs: Activity Monitor -the Task Manager for a Mac

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Before my Mac completely ticked me off, and I broke up with Apple, I was dealt a blow had been frustrating and ongoing (more on that in later blog posts). I had not been able to get my machine to turn off the digital optical out; my speakers were unusable on my MacBook Pro.

Because of this, and after a ton of Google research, I had been trying various troubleshooting techniques. One of them was to stop the CoreAudio service.

On a PC this is simple: you open Task Manager, you browse the running processes, and you kill them. However, how do you stop processes from running on a Mac? You can use a great utility called Activity Monitor, which is a built-in tool on the Mac that can be found by typing Activity Monitor into your spotlight.

ActivityMonitorFrom here, this should look pretty similar to Task Manager. You have your processes listed, and you can sort the list in a variety of ways. You can also select individual processes and click the X in the upper left-hand corner to kill the process.

You can also search the processes via how they affect memory, energy, disk, or the network, in addition to the default of CPU. This is crucial if you are troubleshooting certain issues with your Mac — such as whether you are low on RAM, or maybe the Mac’s battery life is dying too quickly (check the energy tab).

This is a great tool for troubleshooting a Mac, and should be included in any technician’s toolkit.

 

Dear Mac Users, sorry for your loss…. move on.

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Lately I have been writing a lot of blog posts for my love of all things Apple, and for the most part I am still very much in love with Apple products. However, this week has been hell for me with my Mac mini at work. I feel the need to vent here.

As I have mentioned before in blog posts (found here and here), you might want to think twice about installing Yosemite. But the allure of having the latest OS for my Mac was getting to me, so over the past several weeks, I had been trying to install Yosemite on my Mac… with discouraging results.

When downloading and installing Yosemite, I would consistently receive the following error:

YosemiteInstallErrorI did extensive research to find out what was going on. I even downloaded the Yosemite installation on a separate Mac on a separate network, and still, when trying to install on my Mac mini at work, I received the error.

I even tried creating a bootable Yosemite USB drive (found here), but no luck! What gives?!

After much research, I thought the answer was that I was using an Apple account to download the package that was not associated with a previously purchased OS. I had heard grumblings that you cannot install Yosemite unless you have a previous OS on your Apple account (which I didn’t necessarily believe), however, I figured, “Why not?” So I signed in with my personal Apple account. I have a purchased OS on the account, I tried the update, and that’s when everything went dark.

This might as well have been what happened to my Mac-Mini...

This may as well have been what happened to my Mac-Mini…

My Mac gave me the Apple-equivalent of the blue screen of death:

BSOD

I tried restarting the Mac and found that not only could I not finish Yosemite, but I couldn’t boot into Mavericks, either! Oh no! What will happen to all of my sweet cat photos that I use as wallpapers? (No, I did not back up this Mac beforehand.)

This is one of my favorites; Starcraft Kitteh...

This is one of my favorites; Starcraft Kitteh. (Source: http://catsinspacesuits.tumblr.com/)

I ended up booting into the recovery utilities (Apple+R) and trying to repair the disk via Disk Utility. Sadly, it would not repair the disk. To be honest, I have been in this situation before, and I have NEVER seen Disk Utility actually repair the OS, so I didn’t have high hopes.

I also tried testing the hardware on the Mac by holding down the D-key upon startup. I received an error stating that it could not connect to Apple to perform the tests (this is an Internet-based test). I had nothing left to do but to go back to Mavericks with a new installation.

I installed Mavericks and decided, “Now that I have a fresh, completely new version of a Mac OSX, maybe I can update to Yosemite now?”

NOPE.

NOPE.

No matter what I did, I could not update to Yosemite. Fine. If Yosemite didn’t want me, I didn’t want it. I would stay with Mavericks and enjoy my Apple life.

Upon deciding to install the rest of my applications, I was greeted with another Mac BSOD! And again, like last time, I could not boot to Mavericks! Argh!

At this point, I was done with Apple. I was ready to become a Microsoft lifer and swear off Apples forever. However, I powered through, installed Mavericks one more time, and installed all of my applications.

At this point, though, I am cowering in fear of my Mac mini. I feel like, any wrong turn, and I will receive the ill-fated BSOD. I am scared of my Mac right now, and that isn’t the way to be. As a technician, you can’t be scared of the system you are working on. Being an IT engineer, you need the confidence that you can fix anything. That is the best way to succeed in this ever-challenging business, so, with that, I need to learn more about Macs. I need to learn how to read the kernel panic commands I am receiving, and I need to take charge and show the Mac who is boss!

I figure in the coming weeks I will tackle this head-on and try to beat it. But for right now I am a wounded duck, cowering in the weeds, hoping the hunter doesn’t find me.

I expect that my love of all things Apple will come rushing back when I make a breakthrough. Then, you can expect more Mac posts from me. But not at the present moment. Right now, Apple and I are having a little spat.

 

Security on a Mac: Setting Passwords & Locking your Screen

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I use a Mac and a PC at my job, and one thing we fall victim to, if we do not lock our computer when we walk away, is we end up coming back to a desktop wallpaper of David Hasselhoff.

Knight Rider

You could wind up with this on your screen. Or worse.

So we are always told to lock our PCs. Fortunately, this is easy to do. You simply press the Windows key + L and it locks your machine (The Windows key is the key between ctrl and alt, that has the Windows flag on it).

But I also needed to find a way to lock my Mac — which isn’t as easy as the nice, two-key combo Microsoft has laid out for us.

You can lock a Mac through key combinations. In newer Macs, you can click control + shift + the power button, and you will see your screen go black, and if you tap any key on the keyboard, it will wake up the screen, and you can see that your Mac is locked.

However, in my case, I can’t even reach my power button, so this just won’t work. What I do (and I consider this the best and easiest way to lock a Mac) is to lock by using Keychain Access.

Keychain Access is the equivalent of Windows Credential Manager, in that it saves passwords that you frequently use on the Mac. In order to use Keychain Access for locking your Mac, you will, of course, need to set a password on your Mac (otherwise what’s the point in locking, if users can hit ‘return’ and go right into your Mac).

To set a password on a Mac, click on the Apple logo in the upper left-hand corner of the Mac, and go to System Preferences. From there you will see a location called Users & Groups.

Preferences

Inside Users & Groups, you will see your account listed. You might have to click on the lock, down in the lower left-hand corner, to make changes (if you do, it will require a password, and if you have none set, you can simply click OK). Once you have the ability to edit your account, click on it. You will see the location, next to your photo, that states Reset Password. This is where you will enter your password.

You can then click the lock to prevent further changes and move on to Keychain Access.

When you launch Keychain Access, you won’t need to do anything in the window that pops up, only in the Preferences for Keychain Access. To access Preferences, click on the words “Keychain Access” in the upper left-hand corner, and go to Preferences…

In Preferences, under the General tab, put a check mark where it states: Show keychain status in menu bar

Keychain

This adds an unlocked lock in the menu bar in the upper right hand corner of your Mac. If you now click on that icon, you have an option to ‘Lock Screen’.

Lock

It’s as simple as that!