Snow Leopard and Java (gag)

Don’t know who to blame for the state of affairs with Snow Leopard and its related plugins, Adobe, Oracle, Apple or the whole lot of them.

One of my school’s is pretty much all Mac, yes there are the token PCs’/Dells’ in the administration offices. But overall the classrooms and labs have Macs. Over 300 of them. My other two sites are Dells’ and HPs’ running Windows XP.

Yes I get flak from the other techs about really liking my Mac school, but there are way more pros than cons. One is Apple Remote Desktop (ARD). Techs provided their basic software tools so, I am unable to find anything for the Windows machines that can touch ARD. Able to monitor all my computers on one screen, see the screens of a lab’s full of computers, push out software and the list goes on. Only reason I don’t use ARD to manage the Windows machines, is that would require a VNC client which isn’t permitted. (Road Block #1)

For Windows most of the techs buy Damewares by Solarwinds. And the district provides Ghost and we are instructed on using Active Directory and GPO’s (Apple has Open Directory and Work Group Manager {WGM}). These tools work, and allow us to manage fairly large networks, but not with the grace of ARD.

That all being said, over the last few months. We’ve been forced to start upgrading all our Leopard (10.5) Intel iMacs to Snow Leopard (10.6), mostly because of lack of plug-in support.

The District has taken to purchasing pretty much all the software a school needs, most of it being web based. And since most of the school are using Windows we get to play MAKE IT WORK OR GET RID OF THE MACS. Ha. One we don’t have the budget or the electrical to support Windows Machines.

Long and short, to get Java working on a Mac again (10.6) upgrade/install the following while logged in as an Administrator:
Adobe Authorware 7 Complete
Java For Mac OSX 10.6
Rosetta
Safari 5.1.7
Shockwave Installer Full

After you install all these go to Applications >> Safari and do a Control+i
Enable 32 Bit mode
Enable Rosetta

While still logged in as an Administrator do plugin tests, we have a page we goto and just go down the list, you can find them on Google. Make sure to upgrade Acrobat Reader and Accept the license agreement.

All this can be done remotely using ARD.

Death of a Weather Station

One of our projects last year was a weather station, it was built in Miami and transported to Tennessee and installed.

The weather station worked stand alone, away from all buildings using solar panels. It transmitted all information to the servers using 60 mW XBees. The information was then put on the web. The system worked great until a freak wind storm blew through and knocked it over. Luckily we were scheduled to return to the site within two weeks.

At first we thought the station was vandalized,  none of our remote cameras had a great view of the station, all we could tell was it was down. None of our cameras recorded anyone near the station during daylight hours (and when the sun goes down, it is DARK. And had someone approached the station at night with flashlights we would have caught that as well. But nothing.)

When we arrived on-site, to our amazement all the hardware survived. The solar panels had minor cracks, but that was on their backsides. Wires had been ‘snapped’, easy to patch. And all other hardware was still weather tight and undamaged. We did have to removed the station until next season, giving us time to build a new stand/tower. (It was below freezing for our visit and I was happy we didn’t have to return the station to operation during that visit.)

So a thanks to SparkFun for selling such robust hardware. … And back to the drawing board for a better stand/tower.

WeatherStationNumber1 Before Install WeatherStationNumber1bDamage Results

Final Report:

This WAS Weather Station #1.. There was an attempt to add a remote control camera (note: glass dome), but at the last minute it was dropped. It was dropped because we could not get the programming, the added hardware and custom parts made in time. Perhaps Weather Station #2.

Other flaws were that stand was to narrow. The installed station only had the lower solar panel installed (not the dual panels as in the photo), but that exposed the Electronics Tube to direct sunlight (and heat build up). We placed a large bird house over the Electronics Tube, which helped with the heat issue.

Recommendations: Lower electronics tube, widen the over stance of stand. Full concrete footing would be nice, if possible, otherwise wide heavy sleds.

We did have ropes tied to blocks the keep the stand upright, which seem to work. However the ropes rotted. – More pre-install tests.

Mac Mini Snow Leopard Died

Last weekend I noticed the Snow Leopard server’s cameras weren’t working. On digging (and restarting) I noticed the boot drive had failed. Ran permissions and disk repair, after a few errors and fixes, it passed all the tests. Sigh of relief!

Then on Tuesday, same thing. Only this time the drive would not respond to any commands or disk utility tools.

Ordered two new 750 gb hard drives from MacSales.com, installed. Spent hours trying to recover and back up the bad drive. – Started a format, cancelled, then once again tried disk utilities, it help. – Target mode the old drive, carbon copied the old drive on to the new drive. – Booted on a USB Snow Leopard installer, ran disk utilities and rebooted.

It worked!

Only issue I had was Open Directory didn’t work, so demoted server to standalone, then back to master, then did a restore from backup. It worked

DeployStudio reimaging

Trying to upgrade student stations from 10.5.8 to 10.6.8 using DeployStudio. Holding down the ‘n’ key is hit and miss, out of 8 computers 3 wouldn’t see server. Unblinded, deleted files in the directory folder in preferences. Remove computer from AD and OD. Still nothing.

After a little head scratching, I moved the computer to DHCP. Bing! Everything now works as expected.