What You Might Want to Think About Before Installing Yosemite

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Apples-OS-X-Yosemite

Yosemite, the new Mac OS that replaced Mavericks this year, was released to much fanfare. And for the most part it has been a very solid operating system. You can install this OS for free from Apple’s AppStore (for anyone running Snow Leopard or later), so what’s not to love?

For me, I was very excited about Yosemite, and even wrote a blog post about its release. However, after a few months, I have decided not to install Yosemite for a few reasons (and by the way, these reasons should be taken into consideration, even if you have a Windows PC and are thinking about upgrading your OS).

  1. The biggest reason for me is the functionality of applications. Many applications I use have not been written to work for Yosemite at the moment — and if you have critical applications, you should NOT go to a new OS until you have tested all of your applications.
  2. Bugs. Every OS starts off with a few bugs, and while they quickly figure out the kinks, I am not interested in going through the motions until these are worked out. I would prefer to give the OS a few months to let others work through those until I am on-board.

There are a few other reasons, such as you own an old Mac that might not be able to handle Yosemite, or you don’t know your Apple ID username or password, but the two reasons above are the biggest reasons I have chosen not to move to Yosemite… yet.

I suppose a third reason could be that I am lazy. Because there are options, so I could move forward…, but I have yet to act on them.

When you decide to move to a new OS, you MUST make a backup of your machine. There are many instances where the OS installation will go bad, leaving you with a corrupt OS. If you don’t have a backup of your system, you are stuck. I also ensure I have a backup to which I can restore my old OS, in case something goes wrong (such as Yosemite not being able to open my apps).

You actually have a built in tool for handling backups, called Time Machine. Taking a backup with Time Machine is easy. Launch Time Machine from Spotlight in the upper right hand corner, and point to the backup disk you would like to take the backup to. I do this manually and connect an external drive to my Mac in order to take a proper backup.

tm_sys_prefs Once you have a successful backup, you can actually restore your OS, using that backup. To do that, you need to boot into the OS X Recovery system. When booting your Mac, hold down command+R until the Apple logo appears.

One of the options should be ‘Restore from Time Machine Backup. You can then choose that, and the location of the backup you just took, and restore your system. It is as simple as that.

Doing this should give you the peace of mind that if you need to go back to Mavericks, you have the ability to do so. You also have some other options out there for creating backups and restores, and I discussed one of these options in another blog recently as well. Carbon Copy Cloner gives you a great user interface and easy-to-use tools for doing the exact same thing as Apple’s Time Machine.

With options such as these, you don’t have an excuse not to try out Yosemite (unless you are lazy, like me). :) I will get around to it eventually, and when I do, I promise to write a full review! In the meantime, remember: if you need help either backing up or restoring your systems for your business, we are always here for you, 24/7, at Everon: 888-244-1748.

Mac Tips for Techs: NetSpot

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A while ago at Everon I had to troubleshoot a pretty complex wireless system, set up by Cisco. I had to call Cisco to discuss their setup, and I was fortunate enough to get a technician who was so passionate about his job, he decided that once the issue was resolved, he would like to give me a 1-2 hour lesson on wireless technology, regardless of the Cisco brand. For the 1-2 hours he spoke to me on the phone, I feverishly tried to write down notes on every single thing he said. I wish I’d had a record of the call we had together, as I would go in and make better notes. It was one of the best lessons I have ever received.

Technicians who work on certain brands, whether it is HP, Dell, Cisco, whatever… in my experience they all seem to be reading off of a sheet and don’t really care if you understand what they are discussing, as you blindly follow their instructions. And, for the most part, I do blindly follow their instructions. (Because how can I argue about the results? Its their equipment!) But occasionally you will find that one technician who is so passionate about his (or her) field of expertise, that he would like you to experience it as he does. I was so fortunate to have this experience come to life a few months back. (In all honesty, I think that is the way some of our engineers operate here, at Everon, as well. We don’t have rigid scripts, we get a call, and we work on it based on our own, personal knowledge, the knowledge of our peers around us, and various tools, so every interaction can be different and exciting. If you are excited to learn what we are doing, we are equally as excited to teach you!)

Anyways, that is my tangent on technicians, now back to wireless technology….

Out of everything the Cisco engineer showed me, one thing he said needs to be done before you purchase any wireless equipment is a wireless site survey. I had never thought of that previously, but it makes sense. How do you know what you need? How much ground do you need to cover? What type of signal strength can you get by with? All of these questions can be answered by a professional who does site surveys for a living. However, if you were interested in doing one yourself, or even if you needed to troubleshoot your existing wireless, what tools do you have at your disposal? It isn’t like you can actually see wireless to be able to troubleshoot, so what can you use to help you understand wireless? (There are many different products for Windows machines, none of which I will get into here, as this article is for the Mac engineer who is in need of troubleshooting wireless.) I encounter instances like this all the time, where I am sent out to a client’s location, and I have to troubleshoot much more than a simple Mac. Sometimes I will need to troubleshoot their environment and, for wireless environments, I find the best tool for anyone with a Mac is NetSpot.

NetSpot can be downloaded here for free: http://www.netspotapp.com/netspotpro.html

NetSpotThe Pro version is for commercial use. The free version can only be used on you and your friends’ home networks. My advice would be if you are going to begin doing site surveys, spend the $149.00 and get the Pro version. The Pro version also includes unlimited data points in every zone (the free version allows 50), flexible grouping of various items in the survey such as APs, SSIDs, channel, vendor, etc (free only allows grouping via SSID), and much more.

However, if you are learning how to do wireless site surveys, the free version is great. It gives you a ton of information on your wireless network, such as the SSID, band (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz), security (WEP, WPA, etc), vendor, mode (b/g/n), level (signal to noise), signal percentage, the noise in DBm, and much more. It updates in real time, and doesn’t take up much battery life on your Mac. Using this app is a great first step into reviewing a network, as it will easily allow you to see any issues without the need to jump into the AP or wireless router.

Check out this tool, and if you would like to discuss it further, any of our engineers at Everon would love to talk wireless! Call us at 888-244-1748.

 

Mac OS X Yosemite is available!

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YosemiteApple’s latest operating system, Mac OS X (10.10) Yosemite, is now available for free in the App Store. For anyone running Mac OS X 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard) or later, you can now download the free OS.

There are some restrictions, as Yosemite will only work on the following models:

  • iMac (Mid-2007 or later)
  • MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later), (15-inch, Mid/Late 2007 or later), (17-inch, Late 2007 or later)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)
  • Mac Mini (Early 2009 or later)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

You also need 2 GBs of RAM to run the OS and 8 GBs of hard drive space available. If you fit these requirements, then go get the new OS! It was just unveiled this week, after the latest keynote speech had finished (they mentioned it would be available immediately after the speech ended, however it took a few hours to get the download fully online).

There are many small improvements to the OS – the most notable one that a lot of Apple enthusiasts are excited about is the ability to make phone calls with your iPhone using your Mac. Apple worked quite a bit on trying to make the integration between the two devices seamless and more integrated. They also finally included AirDrop, between the iOS and the OS X systems, allowing you to easily share files now between your phone or tablet and your Mac.

The Notification Center has also received a hefty update, making it infinitely more useful. For anyone who enjoys staying connected to the outside world, you now have the ability to share your notifications on the various social media sites out there.

You can further review all of the really interesting upgrades, and download your copy of the new Mac OSx, Yosemite here.

 

Mac Tips for Techs: Carbon Copy Cloner

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apple logoAs I’ve been getting into my blog-writing career here with Everon, I have been writing a lot of posts about Macs. My love of Macs started before I got into IT. Now that I am in IT I realize that, although I know a lot about the Windows OS, I am not as familiar with Macs, despite owning a few. In all reality, anything you do with a PC can be done on a Mac. (And there are many really cool tools that help you achieve your goals.)

In previous blogs, I have discussed a great cleanup tool called Onyx. I also discussed using the Network Utility tool for a Mac. In my latest blog, I want to discuss a tool that, before we were aware of the tool, we had tried for DAYS to get this working. This tool took our days of work and finished the job in 30 minutes. (I know: anyone who is more Mac-savvy probably could get the job done quicker, but for a Windows engineer, this was a tough task). The tool is called Carbon Copy Cloner.

Carbon Copy Cloner effectively and easily clones a drive in its entirety, so you can put a new drive in and change out hard drives. This is extremely important for many reasons. First off, if your drive is showing SMART errors, and you know the drive might fail soon (which you can find out by using Onyx), you will want to get a new drive in there ASAP. Also, in our case, the client wanted to go from a 240 GB drive to 1 TB in order to increase his disk space. I would also recommend using this if you want to use a solid state drive, as that is becoming the go-to for fast, reliable hard drives.

You can purchase a copy of Carbon Copy Cloner here: https://bombich.com/. However, you can also demo a 30-day trial, which works great for cloning one drive onto another. When starting up CCC, you simply choose your source drive and destination drive (also really great for complete backups), and allow it to copy.

carbon-copy-cloner-image-copy-your-hard-drive_2Once done, if you were copying your bootable drive, you could then put the new drive in and boot off of it.  If you are using it for backup, you could then mount the image and grab whatever you need. It is literally a one-for-one copy of your drive.

This product has a ton of other features, but I am not going to get into the details about those, as you can go to the site and review yourself. However this is my go-to every single time now for closing and replacing hard drives for a Mac. I would strongly urge you to review this product as well.

Up next for my Mac Tips for Techs: NetSpot. Your go-to tool for reviewing wireless networks.

 

5 Things You Need to Know About the BashBug

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1. Don’t Panic.

As our favorite galactic traveler’s companion reminds us (ref. Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy), It’s important to keep problems in perspective. The Heartbleed Bug incited widespread panic for what turned out to be limited reasons. This new security bug is reported to be even bigger than Heartbleed, but it, too, has a relatively limited reach. It only affects Unix-based systems that use Bash. The best way to address it is to keep updated on the patches which are sent out. Some routers are also affected, and so updates will be pushed out to handle those as well.

2. What is the BashBug?

Bash is one of the central programs to the modern Unix operating system. It’s used to issue commands to the kernel of the OS. It is a little like the Windows command line. Mac’s desktop operating systems are built on Unix, and that’s why people are concerned. The BashBug is an exploitable nuance of the Bash shell that someone could use to observe and possibly modify an unknowing computer’s information. Basically, it’s like leaving your car window down.

3. I have an iPhone, should I be worried?

No. The iOS is a different operating system from the Desktop OS of MAC, known as OS X.

4. What if someone w/ a Mac emails me? Will my company be at risk? Can I “catch” the Bug this way?

No. The vulnerability is specific to Unix-based OSes. It can’t be transferred between operating systems. Windows has a fundamentally different underlying program, and it does not include Bash, which is the host for this bug.

5. What’s this thing about routers? 

Some routers run on a variation of Linux. Manufacturers will also be pushing out updates to resolve this. Please contact your system administrator (which might be us) to resolve it if you have concerns. We can be reached at 888-244-1748.

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