Twelvetide: 12 Resolutions for Mac Administrators

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

According to Wikipedia ‘Twelvetide’ is another word for the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas.’. I am going to do a Twelvetide feature on this blog. There will , however, be no partridges, doves, milking maids and leaping lords. No golden rings either, sorry.

Instead, I will introduce twelve resolutions for how to become a better Mac Administrator. Not I believe I am the sole authority on this, but these are things that I want to do more, or do better or start doing in the next year. And I thought sharing these and writing them on the weblog might help others. Also, sharing what you do is one of the resolutions.

To go along with the resolutions, I will reduce the price of my book “Packaging for Apple Administrators” by 20% for the Twelvetide (through Jan 6, 2017). Yes, “reading a book” is also a resolution, but it does not have to be mine.

Happy New Year 2017!

Holiday Deals for Mac Admins

Several apps on the iOS App Store and Mac App Store have dropped prices for the holidays:

Also, my book “Packaging for Apple Administrators” is on sale for 20% less! Go get it and read it over the break!

The following apps are not necessarily just for admins I but I use and enjoy them all regularly:

  • TweetBot is simply the best Twitter client. Both iOS and Mac versions are on sale until Christmas Day
  • Deliveries is the best package tracker and will sync packages tracked between the Mac and iOS versions. Both iOS and Mac versions are on sale
  • Mini Metro is a fun puzzler where you have to build and maintain an insanely fast growing urban metro system.

Merry Christmas!

Duet Display adds Touch Bar

I like to use Duet Display to add some screen real estate to my 13" MacBook Pro. When you connect the iPad with a Lightning cable Duet turns it into an external second screen. Depending on your settings there can be a slight lag, so you won’t play action games, but it works wonderfully for normal tasks (such as writing a book.) It will also translate touch input to mouse inputs and if you have an iPad Pro it also works with the Apple Pen.

I have the 2015 MacBook model, so no Touch Bar and I have no urgency to upgrade yet, even though I think the Touch Bar seems to be very interesting.

So, I am very excited to see that Duet Display added an option to add a Touch Bar at the bottom of the iPad screen). Since the iPad will probably be sitting next to your MacBook screen, rather than right above your keyboard, this is not perfect. But a great way to test an application’s support and see how the Touch Bar works without having to shell out for a new MacBook. This will take away a bit of your second screen on the iPad, but you can enable or disable the Touch Bar at whenever you want.

They have also reduced the price for the iOS application by 50% ‘for a limited time.’ Duet Display uses a Mac or Windows application, which is free and an iOS application which usually costs US$19.99 (now $9.99). Full Apple Pen support which turns the iPad Pro into a retina drawing pad for your Mac is an extra in-App purchase.

Book Presentation at Dutch MacAdmin Meetup

I will be presenting my book at the MacAdmin meetup/ontmoeting in Schiedam (Netherlands) next week. The presentation will be on my first book “Packaging for Apple Administrators” with a sneak peek in to future projects.

The meet up will be on Tuesday, Dec 20, 13:30-16:30. LAI has been kind enough to host it at their offices.

My presentation will only be a small part of the meeting, there will also be a discussion on Active Directory and NoMAD and maybe some other presentations.

It’ll be great to see you all there!

On hidden Files, especially Library

I published a book: “Packaging for Apple Administrators

While writing on the next book “Automated Packaging for Apple Administrators”, I will keep publishing small side notes and excerpts. There is a nice gem for macOS Sierra in the last section, so keep reading.;)

Mac OS X has always hidden certain folders and files from the user. The more ‘UNIXey’ folders like /usr, /bin, and /etc were considered too confusing or even dangerous for most users and hidden away. Most users noticed this in OS X Lion when Apple started hiding the user’s Library. Messing with files in the Library can cause damage or data loss if a user does not know exactly what they are doing. Here is the summary on hidden and invisible files.

Dot Files

In UNIX, files or directories with a name beginning with ‘.‘ (period or dot) are considered hidden and will not be shown in a normal file list with ls. You can however easily list them with the option ls -a. Usually dot files are configuration files or folders.

When does Finder consider a File hidden?

Like the ls command Finder will not show files beginning with a ‘.‘ (period or dot). However, there is also an extra hidden flag that Finder will check to see wether it should hide a file. You can see this hidden flag in Terminal with the -O (capital o) option for ls

$ ls -lO 
drwx------+ user  staff  -        Downloads
drwx------@ user  staff  hidden   Library
drwx------+ user  staff  -        Movies

(I removed lines and columns to make the output more legible.)

You can also use the find command to show all files with the hidden flag:

$ find ~ -flags +hidden -print

Use the chflags command to set or unset the hiddenflag:

$ chflags nohidden ~/Library
$ chflags hidden ~/Library

Finder will show or hide the file or folder immediately.

Navigating to your hidden Library

When you click on Finder’s ‘Go’ Menu with the option key, Library will appear as an option.

You can also use Finder’s ‘Go to Folder…’ menu and enter ~/Library as the target. This is especially useful since you usually want to go to a subfolder of Library anyway. This panel supports tab-autocompletion like the shell. OS X 10.11 and earlier would autocomplete to the alphabetically first match so ~/Library/Pref would complete to ~/Library/PreferencePanes rather than ~/Library/Preferences. macOS Sierra will show a popup list if the completion is ambiguous. The keyboard shortcut for ‘Go to Folder…’ command-shift-G will also work in open and save panels.

If you are already in a Terminal window you can use the open command:

$ open ~/Library/

Show all hidden Files and Folders

macOS Sierra has added a great Finder keyboard shortcut to quickly show hidden files and folders. Command-Shift-. (dot or period) will quickly show all hidden files and a second time will re-hide them.

This keyboard shortcut has worked in open and save dialogs for a while already.

In older versions of OS X you have to open Terminal and run:

$ defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles true
$ killall Finder

Change the true to false to switch it back.

Packaging Book on Sale and other Deals for Apple Admins

Remember that my book “Packaging for Apple Administrators” is on sale until Cybermonday! 20% off!

I have gathered a few other interesting Black Friday Sales for Admins:

  • HumbleBundle Books Unix is an amazing bundle of 15 O’Reilly books for Unix. Many of these books are also extremely useful for macOS administrators
  • VMware sale: VMware products, including VMware Fusion Pro are 40% off
  • Parallels Black Friday Bundle: Parallels is offering an interesting bundle of applications along with a license of their virtualisation software
  • Edovia Screens VNC for iOS and for Mac are 50% off
  • Deliveries Package Tracker for iOS and for Mac has reduced price as well

Thanksgiving-Black-Friday-Cybermonday Sale!

“Packaging for Apple Administrators” is on Sale until Cyber Monday!

Get 20% off!

Here in Europe we call the upcoming week-end the… uh… last week-end in November.

However, Americans have this wonderful week-end of commercial frenzy ahead. So I decided to give everyone who has been considering buying the book, but is still reluctant, a friendly nudge. And even though Thanksgiving-Black-Friday-Cybermonday is a US thing, my sale is in all the countries where my book is available!

Go and get the book on the iBook Store!