Archive for the ‘Editorial’ Category

25 Tips For Technical Writers

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

At 318, we write a pretty good amount of content. We have 5 or so authors on staff, write tons of technical documentation for customers and develop a fair amount of courseware. These days, I edit almost as much as I write. And in doing so, I’ve picked up on some interesting trends in how people write, prompting me to write up some tips for the blossoming technical writer out there:

  1. Define the goal. What do you want to say? The text on the back jacket of most of my books was written before I ever wrote an outline. Sometimes I update the text when I’m done with a book because the message can change slightly with technical writing as you realize some things you’d hoped to accomplish aren’t technically possible (or maybe not in the amount of time you need to use).
  2. Make an outline. Before you sit down to write a single word, you should know a goal and have an outline that matches to that goal. The outline should be broken down in much the same way you’d lay out chapters and then sections within the chapter.
  3. Keep your topics separate. A common trap is to point at other chapters too frequently. Technical writing does have a little bit of the find your own adventure aspect, but referencing other chapters is often overused.
  4. Clearly differentiate between section orders within a chapter. Most every modern word processing tool (from WordPress to Word) provides the ability to have a Header or Heading 1 and a Header or Heading 2. Be careful not to confuse yourself. I like to take my outline and put it into my word processing program and then build out my headers from the very beginning. When I do so, I like for each section to have a verb and a subject that defines what we’re going to be doing. For example, I might have Header 1 as Install OS X, with Header 2 as Formatting Drives followed by Header 2 as Using the Recovery Partition followed by Header 3 of Installing the Operating System.
  5. Keep your paragraphs and sentences structured. Beyond the headings structure, make sure that each sentence only has one thought (and that sentences aren’t running on and on and on). Also, make sure that each paragraph illustrates a sequence of thoughts. Structure is much more important with technical writing than with, let’s say, science fiction. Varying sentence structure can keep people awake.
  6. Use good grammar. Bad grammar makes things hard to read and most importantly gets in the way of your message getting to your intended audience. Strunk and White’s Elements of Style is very useful if you hit a place where you’re not sure what to write. Grammar rules are a lot less stringent with online writing, such as a website. When it comes to purposefully breaking grammatical rules, I like to make an analogy with fashion. If you show up to a very formal company in $400 jeans, they don’t care that your jeans cost more than most of their slacks; they just get cranky you’re wearing jeans. Not everyone will pick up on purposeful grammatical lapses. Many will just judge you harshly. Especially if they hail from the midwest.
  7. Define your audience. Are you writing for non-technical users trying to use a technical product? Are you writing for seasoned Unix veterans trying to get acquainted with a new version of Linux? Are you writing for hardened programmers? The more clearly you define the audience the easier it is to target a message to that audience. The wider the scope of the audience the more people are going to get lost, feel they’re reading content below their level, etc.
  8. Know your style guide. According to who you are writing for, they probably have a style guide of some sort. This style guide will lay out how you write, specific grammar styles they want used, hopefully a template with styles pre-defined, etc. I’ve completed several writing gigs, only to discover I need to go back and reapply styles to the entire content. When you do that, something will always get missed…
  9. Quoting is important when writing code. It’s also important to quote some text. If you have a button or text on a screen with one word that begins with a capped letter, you don’t need to quote that in most style guides. But if there’s only one word and any of the words use a non-capped letter or have a special character then the text should all be quoted. It’s also important to quote and attribute text from other locations. Each style guide does this differently.
  10. Be active. No, I’m not saying you should run on a treadmill while trying to dictate the chapter of a book to Siri. Use an active voice. For example, don’t say “When installing an operating system on a Mac you should maybe consider using a computer that is capable of running that operating system.” Instead say something like “Check the hardware compatibility list for the operating system before installation.”
  11. Be careful with pronouns. When I’m done writing a long document I’ll do a find for all instances of it (and a few other common pronouns) and look for places to replace with the correct noun.
  12. Use examples. Examples help to explain an otherwise intangible idea. It’s easy to tell a reader they should enable alerts on a system, but much more impactful to show a reader how to receive an alert when a system exceeds 80 percent of disk capacity.
  13. Use bullets or numbered lists. I love writing in numbered lists and bullets (as with these tips). Doing so allows an author to most succinctly go through steps and portray a lot of information that is easily digestible to the audience. Also, if one of your bullets ends with a period, they all must. And the tense of each must match.
  14. Use tables. If bullets are awesome then tables are the coolest. You can impart a lot of information using tables. Each needs some text explaining what is in the table and a point that you’re usually trying to make by including the table.
  15. Judiciously use screen shots. If there’s only one button in a screen shot then you probably don’t need the screen shot. If there are two buttons you still probably don’t need the screen shot. If there are 20 and it isn’t clear in the text which to use, you might want to show the screen. It’s easy to use too many or not enough screen shots. I find most of my editors have asked for more and more screens until we get to the point that we’re cutting actual content to fit within a certain page count window. But I usually have a good idea of what I want to be a screen shot and what I don’t want to be a screen shot from the minute I look at the outline for a given chapter. Each screen shot should usually be called out within your text.
  16. Repetition is not a bad thing. This is one of those spots where I disagree with some of my editors from time to time. Editors will say “but you said that earlier” and I’ll say “it’s important.” Repetition can be a bad thing, if you’re just rehashing content, but if you intentionally repeat something to drive home a point then repetition isn’t always a bad thing. Note: I like to use notes/callouts when I repeat things. 
  17. White space is your friend. Margins, space between headers, kerning of fonts. Don’t pack too much crap into too little space or the reader won’t be able to see what you want them to see.
  18. Proofread, proofread, proofread. And have someone else proofread your stuff.
  19. Jargon, acronyms and abbreviations need to be explained. If you use APNS you only have to define it once, but it needs to be defined.
  20. I keep having editors say “put some personality into it” but then they invariably edit out the personality. Not sure if this just means I have a crappy personality, but it brings up a point: while you may want to liven up text, don’t take away from the meaning by doing so.
  21. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Today I was asked again to have an article from krypted included in a book. I never have a problem with contributing an article to a book, especially since I know how long it takes to write all this stuff. If I can save another author a few hours or days then they can push the envelope of their book that much further.
  22. Technical writing is not a conversation. Commas are probably bad. The word um is definitely bad. Technical writing should not ramble but be somewhat formal. You can put some flourish in, but make sure the sentences and arguments are meaningful, as with a thesis.
  23. Be accurate. Technical reviewers or technical editors help to make sure you’re accurate, but test everything. Code, steps, etc. Make sure that what you’re saying is correct up to the patch level and not just for a specific environment, like your company or school.
  24. Use smooth transitions between chapters. This means a conclusion that at least introduces the next chapter in each. Don’t overdo the transitions or get into the weeds of explaining an entire topic again.
  25. Real writers publish. If you write a 300 page document and no one ever sees it, did that document happen? If the document isn’t released in a timely manner then the content might be out of date before getting into a readers hands. I like to take my outline (step 2) and establish a budget (a week, 20 hours, or something like that).

Unity Best Practices In AVID Environments

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Avid Unity environments are still common these days because the price for Avid’s ISIS SAN is tremendously high. While a Unity typically started anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000, a typical ISIS starts around the same price even though the ISIS is based on more typical, less expensive commodity hardware. The ISIS is based on common gigabit networking, whereas the Unity is based on fibre channel SCSI.

Avid Unity systems come in two flavors. Both can be accessed by fibre channel or by gigabit ethernet. The first flavor is all fibre channel hardware. The second uses a hardware RAID card in a server enclosure with a sixteen drive array and shares that storage over fibre channel and/or gigabit ethernet.

Components in a fibre channel only Unity can be broken down so:

  • Avid Unity clients
  • Fibre channel switch
  • Fibre channel storage
  • Avid Unity head

Components in a chassis-based Unity are:

  • Avid Unity clients
  • Fibre channel switch
  • Avid Unity controller with SATA RAID

The fibre channel only setup can be more easily upgraded. Because such setups are generally older, they typically came with a 2U rackmount dual Pentium 3 (yes, Pentium 3!) server. They use a 2 gigabit ATTO fibre channel card and reliability can be questionable after a decade.

The Unity head can be swapped for a no-frills Intel machine (AMD doesn’t work, and there’s not enough time in the world to figure out why), but one must take care to be careful about video drivers. Several different integrated video chips and several video cards have drivers which somehow conflict with Unity software, so sometimes it’s easier to simply not install any drivers since nothing depends on them. The other requirements / recommendations are a working parallel port (for the Unity dongle), a PCIe slot (for a 4 gigabit ATTO fibre channel card) and 4 gigs of memory (so that Avid File Manager can use a full 3 gigabytes).

The fibre channel switch is typically either a 2 gigabit Vixel switch or a 4 gigabit Qlogic 5200 or 5600 switch. The older Vixel switches have a tendency to fail because there are little heat sinks attached to each port chip which face downward, and after a while sometimes a heat sink or two fall off and the chip dies. Since Vixel is not in business, the only replacement is a Qlogic.

The fibre channel storage can be swapped for a SATA-fibre RAID chassis so long as the chassis supports chopping up RAID sets into many smaller logical drives on separate LUNs. Drives which Avid sells can be as large as 1 TB if using the latest Unity software, so dividing up the storage into LUNs no larger than 1 TB is a good idea.

Changing storage configuration while the Unity has data is typically not done due to the complexity and lack of proper understanding of what it entails. If it’s to be done, it’s typically safer to use a client or multiple clients to back up all the Unity workspaces to normal storage, then reconfigure the Unity’s storage from scratch. If that is what is done, that’s the best opportunity to add storage, change from fibre channel drives to RAID, take advantage of RAID-6, et cetera.

Next up is how Avid uses storage. The Unity essentially thinks that it’s given a bunch of drives. Drives cannot easily be added, so the only time to change total storage is when the Unity will be reconfigured from scratch.

The group of all available drives is called the Data Drive Set. There is only one Data Drive Set and it has a certain number of drives. You can create a Data Drive Set with different sized drives, but there needs to be a minimum of four drives of the same size to make an Allocation Group. Spares can be added so that detected disk failures can trigger a copy of a failing drive to a spare.

Once a Data Drive Set is created, the File Manager can be started and Allocation Groups can be created. The reasoning behind Allocation Groups is so that groups of drives can be kept together and certain workspaces can be put on certain Allocation Groups to maximize throughput and/or I/O.

There are pretty much two different families of file access patterns. One is pure video streaming which is, as one might guess, just a continuous stream of data with very little other file I/O. Sometimes caching parameters on fibre-SATA RAID are configured to have large video-only or video-primary drive sets (sets of logical volumes cut up from a single RAID set) are set to optimize streams. The other file access pattern would be handling lots of little files such as audio, stills, render files and project files. Caching parameters set for optimizing lots of small random file I/O can show a noticeable improvement, particularly for the Allocation Group which has the workspace on which the projects are kept.

Workspaces are what they sound like. When creating a workspace, you decide which Allocation Group that workspace will exist. Workspaces can be expanded and contracted even while clients are actively working in that workspace. The one workspace which matters most when it comes to performance is the projects workspace. Because Avid projects tend to have hundreds or thousands of little files, an overloaded Unity can end up taking tens of seconds to simply open a bin in Media Composer which will certainly affect editors trying to work. The Attic is kept on the projects workspace, too, unless explicitly set to a different destination.

Although Unity systems can have ridiculously long uptimes, like any filesystem there can be problems. Sometimes lock files won’t go away when they’re supposed to, sometimes there can be namespace collisions, and sometimes a Unity workspace can simply become slow without explanation. The simplest way to handle filesystem problems, especially since there are no filesystem repair tools, is to create a new workspace, copy everything out of the old workspace, then delete the old workspace. Fragmentation is not checkable in any way, so this is a good way to make a heavily used projects workspace which has been around for ages a bit faster, too.

Avids have always had issues when there are too many files in a single directory. Since the media scheme on Avids involves Media Composer creating media files in workspaces on its own, one should take care to make sure that there aren’t any single directories in media workspaces (heck, any workspaces) which have more than 5,000 files. Media directories are created based on the client computer’s name in the context of the Unity, so if a particular media folder has too many items, that folder can be renamed to the same name with a “-1″ at the end (or “-(n+1)”).

Avid has said that the latest Media Composer (6.0.3 at the time of this writing) is not compatible with the latest Unity client (5.5.3). This is not true and while certain exotic actions might not work well (uncompressed HD, large number of simultaneous multicam, perhaps), all basic editing functions work just fine.

Finally, it should be pointed out that when planning ways to back up Unity workspaces, Windows clients are bad candidates. Because of the limitation on the number of simultaneously mounted workspaces being dependent on the number of drive letters available, Windows clients can only back up at most 25 workspaces at a time. Macs have no limitation on the number of workspaces they can mount simultaneously, plus Macs have rsync built in to the OS, so they’re a more natural candidate for performing backups.

NAT vs PAT

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

In the routing world, NAT stands Network Address Translation while PAT stands for Port Address Translation. To many they’re going to be pretty similar while to others they couldn’t be more different.

When you have an Internet connection for your business network you are usually given a range of public static IP addresses. With these addresses you can use your Cisco router to use NAT technology, which will allow you to map an external address to an internal address (NAT is One to One addressing).  Your NAT router translates traffic coming into and leaving your private network so it works in both directions.

Let’s say your computer has an IP address of 192.168.1.1 and the Router has a public IP address of 76.80.219.86. If you go to the Internet from your 192.168.1.1 address, it will be translated to the 76.79.219.86 address using the NAT protocol, which will allow you to communicate external your network. It also allows for the return of that data and the opposite to happen when data returns to 76.80.219.86 it will translate back to your 192.168.1.1 address to receive the information to your system with the address of 192.168.1.1.

Port Address translation is almost the same thing but it allows you to specify the TCP or UDP protocol (port) to be used. Let’s pretend you need to access a mail server at your network from externally. Most likely your port will be the standard SMTP port 25. Assuming it is you would configure the router to allow traffic from port 25 external your network to come through to your mail server’s port 25, thus sending and receiving e-mail. You can also use PAT to define traffic from a specific port to translate to a different port. For example if you have to use port 25 for an external mail client but you have a custom port of 26 internally to the mail server. You can define a Static PAT rule that can define all outside port 25 traffic will route to port 26 internally allowing port 25 traffic to reach your mail server on port 26.

*Note: PAT works hand in hand with NAT and is linked to the public and internal IP addresses. With PAT You may route many to one addressing (i.e. all internal addresses go out a single Public IP address for internet using port 80).

318 CatDV Installation Checklist

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

318 has been doing a lot of work with CatDV recently and as such, we are starting to build a large library of assets for the product. We have built a checklist for the installation and planning of a CatDV asset management system. The checklist is a quick guide to server installation, worker nodes, client configuration, using SSL, watch folders, conditions, queries, conversations and processing.

The checklist can be downloaded here:

318 CatDV Installation Checklist

318 CatDV Installation Checklist

For more information about CatDV, related storage issues or other aspects of your technology environment, please feel free to contact your Professional Services Manager or sales@318.com. For more information about 318, see us on the web at 318.com.

Final Cut Server EOL’d – What do we do now?

Friday, December 9th, 2011

318 has been working to provide our clients with a strategy to replace Final Cut Server, now that FCS has been EOL’d by Apple. We are proud to announce a comprehensive strategy and solution in the form of CatDV Enterprise Server and Client, by Square Box Systems, LTD.

The first question should always be, “Do we need to implement a new solution?” In many cases, and at least for now, the answer may be “No, not yet.” There will come a time, however, when the needs of the workflow, software, hardware, or some other factor will necessitate a new Digital Asset Management (DAM) System implementation.

Once the decision has been made to deploy a new DAM, many additional questions will arise. How do we keep our metadata intact? Can we re-use our clip and edit proxies? How do we keep our current automations? 318 can work with you to address these issues. We are asking ourselves the same questions with an eye towards minimizing the hassles associated with migrating such a major piece of infrastructure.

318 has spent the last year evaluating many of the DAM solutions in the marketplace, with an emphasis on whether or not the solution is an appropriate replacement for Final Cut Server in terms of cost, functionality and scalability, and after many internal discussions, CatDV best matched these criteria. In terms of cost, CatDV is one of the most affordable solutions in the marketplace. In terms of functionality, CatDV matches or exceeds the functionality of Final Cut Server. In terms of scalability, CatDV far exceeds the capabilities of Final Cut Server.

The final link in the chain is migrating data and recreating workflows from Final Cut Server to CatDV. 318 has the facility and ability to migrate your metadata with a minimum of user intervention. We also have the ability to analyze your Final Cut Server workflows and re-create the functionality in CatDV, including shell scripting and highly customized workflow integrations for ingest and archive.

We are a CatDV authorized reseller, and have staff trained by CatDV personnel. 318 stands ready to spec, deploy, configure and maintain your CatDV solution and help you with the transition from your Final Cut Server to CatDV. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for a demo and discussion of what CatDV can do for your video workflows.

Finally, 318 is working with other vendors to continue expanding our portfolio of SAN and DAM solutions. Keep on the lookout for what will hopefully be a few other additions once our thorough vetting process has been completed! If you would like further information on any of this, please feel free to contact your Professional Services Manager or sales@318.com if you do not yet have one.

Deploying Font Servers

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Mac OS X has come with the ability to activate and deactivate Fonts on the fly since 10.5, when Font Book was introduced. Font Book allows a single user to manage their fonts easily. But many will find that managing fonts on a per-computer basis ends up not being enough. Which begs the question: who needs a font server? A very simplistic answer is any organization with more than 5 users working in a collaborative environment. This could be the creative print shops, editorial, motion graphics, advertising agencies and other creative environments. But corporate environments where font licensing and compliance is important are also great candidates.

Lack of font management is a cost center for many organizations. There is a loss of productivity every time a user has to manually add fonts when opening co-workers documents, or the cost of a job going out with the wrong version of a font. Some of the other benefits of fonts servers are separate font sets for different workgroups and isolating corrupt fonts to clean up large font libraries, along with quick searching and identification of fonts.

Font Management and Best Practices

Anyone who uses fonts for daily workflow needs font management. This could be a standalone product such as Suitcase Fusion or Font Agent Pro. But larger environments invariably need to collaborate and share fonts between users, meaning many environments need font servers. Two such products include Extensis Universal Type Server and Font Agent Pro Server. But before adding font management products, users should clean up and any fonts loaded or installed and added prior to moving to a managed font environment. Places to look for fonts when cleaning them up include the following:

  • ~/Library/Fonts
  • /Library/Fonts
  • /System/Library Fonts

Leaving any necessary system, Microsoft Web Core, and required Adobe fonts.

The best resource for this process can be found at Extensis Font Best Practices in OX v.7, which can be found at: http://www.extensis.com/en/downloads/document_download.jsp?docId=5600039

Types of Font Server Products Available

There are two major font server publishers: Extensis and Font Agent Pro. Both have workgroup and enterprise products. All server products from both products work on a client/server model. Both can sync entire font sets or serve fonts on-demand. The break down for the Extensis Universal Type Sever is at 10 clients. Below 10 clients Universal Type Server Lite is a 10 clients product, which lacks Enterprise features, such as the ability to use a SQL database or integrate in Open Directory or Active Directory. The full Universal Type Server Professional adds Directory integration, external database use, and font compliance features and is sold as 10-user license, with an additional per seat license.

Insider Software offers two levels of font servers. The first is FontAgent Pro Team Server designed for small workgroups and sold in a 5 or 10 client configuration. The next level of product is Font Agent Pro Enterprise server. This adds the same directory services integration as Universal Type Server Professional. This product also has Kerberos single sign on, server replication and fail over. It uses the same per-seat pricing structure as Universal Type Server Professional.

A third tool is also available in Monotype Font Explorer, at http://www.fontexplorerx.com, which we will look at later in this article.

Pre-Deployment Strategies and Projects

Before any font server deployment, there are a few things to take into consideration. First is number of clients. This will guide you to which product will be appropriate for installation. Also note if Directory integration and compliance is needed. Is failover or a robust database important. The most important part of any font server installation is the fonts. How may are there, where are they coming from, are separate workgroups needed? Are all your fonts legal? In my experience probably not. Is legal compliance required for you organization or your clients? What is the preferred font type, PostScript Type 1, Open Type? What version are the fonts? Most fonts have been “acquired” over time, with some Postscript fonts dating back to early to mid nineties. As a font server is just a database, the axiom “garbage in, garbage out” is true here as well. This should lead to a pre-deployment font library consolidation and clean up. This can be either be done by 318 or we can train the you to perform this task. If compliance is an issue this is where we would weed out unlicensed fonts. Which to my experience is about 90% of all fonts. A clean, organized font set is the most important part of pre-deployment.

A major part of any font server roll out should be compliance and licensing. This allows for the tracking and reporting of font licenses and to make sure that stays in licensing and compliance.

Extensis

Universal Type Server includes the ability to generate and export reports to help you determine if you are complying with your font licenses. The font compliance feature only allows you to track your licensing compliance and does not restrict access to noncompliant fonts. To help you understand how the font licensing compliance, let’s look at the following typical example of how to use licenses and the font compliance report in your environment.

Say you are starting up your own design shop and need a good group of licensed fonts for your designers to create projects that will bring you fame and fortune. You know that fonts are valuable, and you want to be sure that you have purchased enough licenses for your requirements. So, you purchase a 10­user license of a sizable font library. Using the Universal Type Client, these fonts are added to a Type Server workgroup as a set. A font license is then created and the Number of Seats field is set to 10. This license is then applied to all fonts in the set.

When you run the font compliance report, Universal Type Server compares the number of seats allowed to the total number of unique users who have access to the workgroup. If more users have access than licenses available, the fonts are listed as “non-­compliant.” You can now either remove users from the workgroup or purchase more font licenses to become compliant.

Universal Type Server is unique amongst other products in that it uses a checksum process to catalog fonts. Others just use file names and paths.

Universal Type Server can limit users to be able to only download fonts installed by administrators. For initial deployment, each user does not need to download all of the fonts, which helps in environments when you have a lot of fonts (e.g. more than 5 GB of fonts) that need to get distributed to several hundreds clients, so if each user had to download all of the fonts (e.g. each time they get imaged), they could loose a production system for some time.

Universal Type Server Deployment

Universal Type Server system requirements include the following:

Macintosh Server

•          Mac OS X v 10.5.7, 10.6 Mac OS X Server 10.5 or 10.6•          1.6 GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor (PowerPC is not supported)
•          1 GB available RAM
•          250 MB of hard disk space + space for fonts
•          Safari 3.0 or Firefox 3.0 or higher*
•          Adobe Flash Player 10 or higher*

Windows Server

•          Windows XP SP3 (32-bit only), Server 2003 SP2, Server 2008 SP2 (32 or 64-bit version**)
•          P4 or faster processor***
•          1 GB available RAM
•          250 MB of hard disk space + space for fonts
•          Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox 3.0 or higher*
•          Adobe Flash Player 10 or higher*
•          Adobe Reader 7 to read PDF documentation*
•          Microsoft .NET 3.5 or higher

Universal Type Server Installation Process:

1.         Verify server system requirements
2.         Run the installer on the target server machine
3.         Login to the Server Administration web interface
4.         Serialize the server
5.         Set the Bonjour Name
6.         Resolve any port conflicts
7.         Set any desired server configuration options, including backup schedule, log file configuration, secure connection options, and any other necessary server settings.
8.         After installing the server, configure workgroups, roles and add users.

The basic user and workgroup configuration steps include:

1.   Plan your configuration
2.   Create workgroups
3.   Create new users
4.   Add users to workgroups
5.   Assign workgroup roles to users
6.   Modify user settings as required

Optional Setup:

  1. Managing System Fonts with System Font Policy The System Font Policy feature allows Universal Type Server administrators to create a list of system fonts that are allowed in a user’s system font folder.
  2. Font Compliance Reporting
    The font compliance feature only allows you to track your licensing
    compliance and does not restrict access to noncompliant fonts.
  3. Directory Integration
    Directory integration allows network administrators to automatically
    synchronize users from an LDAP service
    (Active Directory on Windows or Open Directory on Mac OS X) with Universal Type Server workgroups.

* UTS Documentation:

http://tinyurl.com/4xgn9rr

Both Universal Type Server Professional and Font Agent Pro Enterprise can be configured for Open Directory, Active Directory, and LDAP integration. Both also can utilize Kerberos Single User sign on. Universal Type Sever Professional directory integration instructions can be found in the UTS 2 Users and Workgroups Administration Guide at http://tinyurl.com/4xgn9rr. Some users have reported issues connecting to Open Directory (which happens with all products, not just this one).

Universal Type Server runs in Flash for administrative functions, which many do not like.

Monotype Font Explorer

Monotype Font Explorer is a third tool that can be used to manage fonts. Available at http://www.fontexplorerx.com there are some things that some environments do not like about Universal Type Server or Font Agent Pro. Let’s face it, the reason there are multiple products and multiple workflows is that some work for some environments and others work for other environments/workflows better. For example, Font Agent Pro stores master fonts on one client machine, which is then synchronized to the server, and from there to the rest of the clients; not everyone wants a client system acting as a master to the server. Font Explorer keeps the master is on the server, groups and synchronization works well and the administration is in the same window as font management. And best of all, Font Explorer is also typically cheaper than its server-based competitors in the font management space.

Extensis publishes a guide as to which fonts to include in the system and which to handle in the font management software. According to Apple documentation, and fonts in my ~/Library/Fonts folder take precedence to fonts in /Library/Fonts, which again takes precedence to /System/Library/Fonts. That means that if I install Times in my ~/Library/Fonts folder, it will be used instead of the font with the same name in /Library/Fonts or in /System/Library/Fonts. So how is it that I should care which fonts is installed where, as the font management applocation should simple take precedence to the others? If it does not take precedence, then where in the chain is it actually activating fonts? Maybe fonts are handled in these solution in parallel with the system mechanism? Thats the only explanation I can find to that, but is then only valid for UTS, or is it also valid for the other solutions?

End User Training and Font Czar

No font server installation would be complete without end user training and the appointment of a Font Czar. User training can be a fairly easy endeavor if client systems are using the same publishers stand-alone font client. Other times it could entail discussing licensing and compliance concepts along with adding metadata to fonts. An onsite Font Czar (or more than one) is very important to font server installations. The Font Czar cleans up and ingests new fonts, adds new users to font server, and in general be the Font Admin. This is usually a senior designer or technical point of contact for the creative environment.

Conclusion

Font Book is adequate for most users that don’t need a server. Universal Type Server, Font Agent Pro and FontExplorer are all great products if you need a font server. They all are installed centrally and allow end users to administer fonts, based on the server configuration and group memberships. They all work with directory services (some better than others) and can be mass deployed. In big workgroups or enterprises, where only a few people are handling the administration of fonts for a lot of people, a centralized font management solution is a must. But in much smaller organizations, it requires care and feeding, which represents a soft cost that often rivals a cost to purchase the solution.

Finally, test all of the tools available. Each exists for a reason. Find the one that works with the workflow of your environment before purchasing and installing anything.

Note: Thanks to Søren Theilgaard of Humac for some of the FontExplorer text!

A Brief History of the Avid

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Avid started in the late1980s with proprietary hardware installed in a Macintosh II. In the early 1990s Avid systems used the NuVista card from TrueVision which was a motion JPEG card in Macintosh Quadra systems. These NuBus cards were then used in early PowerMacs, then made the transition to PCI cards. The systems were known as ABVBs (Avid Broadcast Video Board); NuBus ABVBs were often called Avid NuVista systems. PowerMacs with PCI ABVB cards are still in use today, although not commonly. They made the transition to HD because they allowed working in 23.98 FPS or 24 FPS, so onlining and conforming could be done by pretending the edit source was film and outputting cutlists accordingly.

The highest resolution supported by ABVB hardware is AVR-77, which was good enough for most people for broadcast SD (people had more modest standards in those days).

In 1998 Avid transitioned to the Meridien boardset. This new boardset was capable of handling uncompressed video, although Avid charged much more money for their Symphony model of the Meridien to enable uncompressed 23.98. The Symphony was sold as a finishing system, whereas the basic Meridien was sold as an offline editing system. Meridiens were also the first Avid boards which would work in x86 PC environments. In a move which upset many Avid users, Meridiens had no backwards compatibility with ABVB media and Avid stopped supporting ABVBs immediately after Meridiens were introduced. Considering that a typical ABVB setup cost around $40,000 new.

Avid introduced the Adrenaline products in 2003. This new software could run on a system which had no Avid hardware (and, of course, didn’t support any previous Avid hardware at all) or could be used with Avid “dongles”. Typically, a dongle is a plugin device used for copy protection and licensing, but Avid’s Mojo and Adrenaline audio/video interface boxes were hardly more than fancy Firewire video interfaces, so they were often deridingly referred to as Avid dongles. They provided no measurable advantage to an Avid beyond providing a means to connect a television monitor or decks for input and output.

In 2008, Avid introduced their Nitris DX and Mojo DX systems. Unlike the FireWire attached Adrenaline and Mojo “dongles”, these new DX systems were connected via PCIe and allowed for performing certain effects in realtime without the need for renders.

Throughout Avid’s history it reused many product names making it difficult to know with certainty to what a name is referring without context. For instance, the software with which the editor interacts has always been called Media Composer (although for a while there were two versions, Film Composer and Media Composer). These days an entire system might be referred to as a Media Composer system, but in the past it referred to just the software. To further complicate matters, Media Composer went through version numbers up through 5.6 on m68k Macs, through version 12 on PowerMacs, and then reset to version 1 with the introduction of the Adrenaline line of products.

The older families are clearly named. The earliest were referred to as NuVista, followed by ABVB, followed by Meridien. The Adrenaline family name is a bit confusing, since the name “Adrenaline” was used to refer to both the newer versions of Media Composer and the larger FireWire breakout box hardware. Mojo-based systems and software-only Media Composer systems of the same version (post version 12) were also called Adrenaline even when no Adrenaline hardware was present.

The newest systems use recycled names, too. The Meridien family had Symphony and Nitris versions which had additional features for color correction and finishing. Many still confuse Mojo DX and Mojo hardware which are completely different.

Early Avids used fast Avid labeled SCSI drives for storage of media. Meridiens allowed the use of internal IDE drives in PowerMacs, but this was discouraged by Avid because they had an interest in selling Avid drives. Media Composer was unable to work with FireWire drives as it caused Media Composer to crash. As time went on more people used RAID cards, SATA cards, and external arrays instead of Avid branded  SCSI drives.

Google Acquires Zagat

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Yelp. They came onto the online scene fast, and have since become the way many of us find restaurants when in foreign lands (or even our own back yard). They even ended up doing so well that Google tried to acquire them for half a billion dollars in 2009. But when you’re hot, you’re hot, and they decided to continue on their own path.

Zagat, a classic company founded way back in the 1970s is kind of the Gold Standard of restaurant reviews. I remember using Zagat to find restaurants in Rome back in the early 1990s (couldn’t quite afford to eat at a place with a 30 rating back then). And their review guides are great. In 2008 they put themselves up on the auction block and summarily took themselves right back down. At that point in time, Zagat would have cost a cool $200 million. A steal compared to upstart Yelp. But while a company with a lot of content, not really a company with a lot of content freely available on the web – which seems to be the name of the game these days.

While Google doesn’t own Yelp, they still want user-generated reviews. Google announced on their blog today that they’re buying Zagat. This move isn’t just about user-generated reviews though, it’s about content. Zagat has 30+ years worth of content, much of which dates back to the manual form of user-generated reviews.

If you look at Google’s most recent acquisitions, many involve coupons, social media, price comparisons, gaming, travel and who can forget a big-daddy of content in YouTube. All that Google needs to do is buy Wikipedia and they’d own a huge chunk of the content out there, or at least they’d own enough to point you to their chunk. The moves only make sense. Try running a define search (e.g. define: Google). Notice that rather than all of the links be hits on other sites, the first is now an actual definition. Clicking More>> brings up the Google Dictionary, not Wikipedia. And in some cases, that dictionary entry is basically the only thing (YMMV).

Google changed the game when it comes to how people find things. They’re in the process of changing that game again. How can you capitalize on these changes? This is going to be different for everyone, but your 318 Professional Services Manager will be happy to discuss strategies for social media, online strategies and the new king of the online world, content. If you do not yet have a Professional Services Manager, please contact 318 at 310-581-9500 or sales@318.com for more information!

318 Gets a Nod from Fierce CIO Magazine

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Carol Carson, from Fierce CIO, posted some tips from 318 in an article on January 2nd called “Embracing the inevitable tablet onslaught”. The article, which can be found at http://www.fiercecio.com/story/embracing-inevitable-tablet-onslaught/2011-01-02 is a look at some ramifications of consumerization as it eeks its way into mainstream enterprise. As usual, Carol is keen to pick up on enterprise trends in a variety of places: this week, at CES. We hope you enjoy the article!

Attachmate Acquires Novell

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

In a press release on their website, Novell has announced that they will be acquired by a company called Attachmate for $2.2 Billion. The announcement can be found at http://www.novell.com/news/press/novell-agrees-to-be-acquired-by-attachmate-corporation. Microsoft (or a consortium run by Microsoft) will also be acquiring a few hundred patents as part of the arrangement.

Attachmate will be operating Novell and SUSE as two separate business units, calling into question some of the strategy that seemed around the corner in previous quarters. This at the same time that Novell is rebranding its social products into Novell Vibe and Novell Vibe Cloud and really doing better than they have in a long time with products like Platespin, WorkloadIQ, Endpoint Management Solutions, Identity Manager and ZENworks. Novell has also had a lot of success in recent years leading Solaris to Linux migrations.

For many, this has come as a shock. 318 has been a Novell, Microsoft, Redhat and Apple partner for a number of years and can work with you to decide what this means for your organization. Please, feel free to contact our main office at 310-581-9500 or your Professional Services Manager for more information.

PresSTORE Article on Xsanity

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

We have posted a short article on the availability of PresSTORE 4.1 on Xsanity at http://www.xsanity.com/article.php/20101116105720183. Enjoy!

WordPress 3.0 “Thelonious” Now Available

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

As we wrote back in March, version 3.0 of WordPress was coming soon. Soon happened last week, as thousands of people starting downloading and upgrading (more than 1 million downloads the first week!).

Our first site upgrade went smoothly, although the automatic upgrading of certain plugins still fail and must be done manually. As always, it’s a good idea to make complete, tested backups of your site files and database dumps before starting the upgrade process.

WordPress 3.0 offers a lot of new online publishing options – call your 318 account manager today, or email sales@318.com for more information.

UPDATE: Our second site upgrade had to be reverted to version 2.9.2 temporarily due to an issue with the WP Events Calendar plugin. Since we had our site backups readily available, this was a quick and easy process.

In other WordPress community news, Automattic (the company behind WordPress.com) announced a beta program for VaultPress, an online, automated method of backing up and securing your WordPress-based website.

The beta plans start at $15/month and include protection for the entire WordPress environment, including the WordPress files (theme, plugins, options), content (posts, photos, videos, audio files), and all comments. Implementation is via Vaultpress plug-in.

Mobile Me Finds Your iPhone

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Today, Apple sent the following email, indicating that there is a new Find My iPhone app that provides a number of pretty cool features for Mobile Me users that have iPhones, iPads or iPod Touches:

You can now download the free Find My iPhone app, enabling you to locate a misplaced device directly from iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch while on the go. After installing it from the App Store, just launch the app and sign in to quickly locate your devices on a map and access the other Find My iPhone features — Display a Message or Play a Sound, Remote Lock, and Remote Wipe.*

The Find My iPhone web application on me.com has also been updated with a full-screen map view. Clicking your missing device on the map lets you access all the Find My iPhone actions to help you recover your device and protect the information on it.

Learn more about improvements to Find My iPhone here.

iPad 3G Now Available

Friday, April 30th, 2010

The iPad 3G (Wi-Fi + 3G) is now available for purchase at your favorite Apple Store or online from $629 to $829. They are great devices. With data plans from $14.99 to $29.99, you can take a wireless network with you anywhere that you go for less than the cost of one day worth of wireless access at many hotels.

There are a number of architectural changes that may need to occur in order to most effectively support these devices, so if you find that some changes need to occur in your environment, contact your 318 account manager for assistance.

iPad is Now Here!

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

The iPad is finally here! 

While many will be standing in lines for hours at Apple stores around the country, you can also contact 318 and we will work with you to get an order processed without having the long wait. 318 has also been working with many customers preparing to deploy the iPad, and so if you have Exchange integration or mass deployment questions please feel free to contact your account manager today, or for new customers, the office at 310-581-9500.

Visit our booth at Macworld 2010

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Come visit our booth at Macworld 2010 on the expo floor. We are located in Booth 566C and have a bunch of free schwag to give out.

We also have a number of sessions this year:

Hands-on Snow Leopard Server: Collaboration Services with Charles Edge
2/10 – 1:00PM to 3:00PM

Push: The Next Generation of Collaboration is Snow Leopard Server with Charles Edge
2/11 – 4:30PM to 6:00PM

Advanced Integration with Final Cut Server with Beau Hunter
2/12 – 3:30PM to 5:00PM

iPhone Mass Deployment with Zack Smith
2/13 – 2:30PM to 4:00PM

We hope to see you there!

“And Now For Something Completely Different”

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

This week, Apple launched their newest product: the iPad. The sleek iPad is a revolutionary new look at the NetBook, but able to run most of the 140,000 applications that are in the App Store for the iPhone. Given the popularity of the App Store so far and the new development methods introduced for the iPad you can rest assured that even more feature rich applications will be developed for the iPad as time goes on. Not that Apple hasn’t led the charge in using the new iPad APIs: iWork has been ported to the iPad. This means that you can create rich Pages, Numbers and Keynote presentations in addition to interacting with a number of cloud based services and leveraging those existing iPhone applications.


The iPad is aluminum and glass, comes with up to 64GB of space, a multi-touch LED screen, 802.11n, Bluetooth and can have a 3G data connection for only $29.99 per month. All of this in a secure, easy-to-use interface that we’ve all grown accustomed to!

Want help integrating the iPad into your Enterprise? Let 318 know if you have interest with mass deployment, purchasing or development: our developers are on hand to work with you on commercial and enterprise applications as needed!

Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Using the Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry means that your Blackberry users can keep using the mobile platform that they love, with Google Apps. The Google Apps Connector allows users to access mail, calendar and contacts using the built-in applications for doing so rather than needing a 3rd party application. The Google Apps Connector plugs into BlackBerry Enterprise Server and connects from your organization to Google, handing off the traffic destined to handhelds through Research In Motion in much the same way that Blackberry Enterprise Server for Exchange works.

The 1.5 version of the Google Apps connector for Blackberry has now been released. This update brings maturity, additional capacity and overall performance enhancements. But most importantly, it can be run on 64-bit operating systems. You can also now use BlackBerry Professional with the Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

If your organization is considering a move to Google Apps, contact 318 now and we can help to plan the transition; whether from Exchange or Lotus Notes or even good ‘ole postfix, 318 is here to help!

Tier Zero Asset Development

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

The staff at 318 is responsible for developing over 75 courses, 40 exams and thousands of pages of assets for ourselves and our customers, including vendors that you may have obtained certifications through. 318 is a firm believer in education, developing a substantial amount of documentation and testing materials for our own internal use and exclusive use for various customers. We are able to do this because we have a strong emphasis on education, which can be seen by the fact that 7 of our staff have become technical authors publishing books while at 318.

But developing assets that can be leveraged to decrease Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for an organization is arguably a different beast. FAQs, knowledge base articles and pre-populated wiki entries are only the beginning to the self-servicing power that can be unleashed for your users. Concerned that you don’t have the deep technical backgrounds, the time to develop the required assets or the writing experience on staff, then let 318 work with you to develop a plan and assets that can be provided in a variety of means to meet the needs of your dynamically changing user base.

Contact 318 today for more on leveraging our experience to help you with your emerging zero asset needs.

Mac OS X 10.6.2 Server Available

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Mac OS X 10.6.2 Server is now available. This update represents a great step for environments that have either already made to, or are preparing/planning the upgrade to, Snow Leopard Server. In this update, Apple addresses the following issues (from Apple.com):

  • adding and removing imported users in Server Preferences
  • synchronizing Portable Home Directory content
  • using iCal web interface within select time zones
  • previewing and capturing dual-source video in Podcast Capture
  • server-side filtering of incoming mail messages
  • using chained digital certificates for mail services
  • creating images with System Image Utility
  • automating installation of NetRestore images
  • preventing brute force password attacks
  • using sudo command with authenticated Open Directory binding
  • binding to Active Directory domains with invalid service records
  • creation of mobile accounts for Active Directory users
  • correcting a problem that would cause the Software Update cache to grow excessively

Mac OS X 10.6.2 Now Available

Monday, November 9th, 2009

For those considering a migration for Snow Leopard or those who have already moved into Snow Leopard, you will be interested to know that Apple has released the 10.6.2 update that has been in progress for some time. Updates and issue resolutions that are included (from Apple):

  • an issue that might cause your system to logout unexpectedly
  • a graphics distortion in Safari Top Sites
  • Spotlight search results not showing Exchange contacts
  • a problem that prevented authenticating as an administrative user
  • issues when using NTFS and WebDAV file servers
  • the reliability of menu extras
  • an issue with the 4-finger swipe gesture
  • an issue that causes Mail to quit unexpectedly when setting up an Exchange server Address Book becoming unresponsive when editing
  • a problem adding images to contacts in Address Book
  • an issue that prevented opening files downloaded from the Internet
  • Safari plug-in reliability
  • general reliability improvements for iWork, iLife, Aperture, Final Cut Studio, MobileMe, and iDisk
  • an issue that caused data to be deleted when using a guest account

Mac OS X 10.6.2 represents Apple coming another step to making Snow Leopard ready for mass integration in most any environment. If you have not already done so, consider contacting your 318 representative now to start planning for your migration!

Non-profits in Need of GroupWare?

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Not-for-profit and looking at options for messaging and groupware moving forward? Then you need to take a 2nd or even a 3rd look at Google Apps! Not-for-profit organizations with less than 3,000 users can get Google Apps Education Edition for free! For a not-for-profit with more than 3,000 users you can get Google Apps Premier Edition at a 40% discount.

Imagine all the infrastructure that can be repurposed, all the networking and message hygiene that you won’t have to do any more and most importantly, how happy the users will be. If your interest is piqued, give 318 a call today and we’ll be happy to work with you on a strategy, whether it’s Google Apps, Microsoft Exchange, Zimbra, Mac OS X Server, etc – 318 is platform-agnostic and here to help!

318 Video on “Gone Phishing”

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Windows 7 Officially Available

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Windows 7 has been released officially released. You see the wacky people standing in line and you know that’s just wrong when you can get it on Microsoft.com as an immediate downloadhttp://store.microsoft.com/microsoft/Windows-Windows-7/category/102. All that time spent driving home could instead be spent running the installer and crossing your fingers that your hardware works! Well, if you’re going from XP or Vista then you should be fine on that point… Windows 3.1, maybe not so much…

318 & MacWorld 2010

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

318 is proud to announce that we will have 3 speakers doing a total of 4 sessions at the upcoming MacWorld Conference & Expo in San Francisco in February. Speakers will be Beau Hunter, Zack Smith and Charles Edge.

We will also be announcing some events as the conference gets closer. If you are planning to attend then you can sign up here. We hope to see you there!

The VPN

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Virtual Private Networks, abbreviated “VPN” is technology that that allows users to connect from one place to another securely.  What makes it secure is that the connection between point A and point B is encrypted.  An encrypted tunnel is built between Point A and Point B, and then data is passed through that tunnel.

VPN’s come in many different types (protocols).   Some of the most common include the following:

PPTP

Often called “dial up VPNs”, it technically extends the functionality of PPP. It was originally started by Microsoft, US Robotics, Ascend Communication, 3Com, and ECI Telematics.  Their first draft of their IETF document for the protocol extension was submitted in June, 1996.  The protocol extension is supported by Linux, Mac and Windows workstations.

Current versions of all three operating systems include the VPN Client application pre-installed in the operating system.  All three operating system server versions can also be setup to allow PPTP connections. A Microsoft Routing and Remote Access Server (RRAS) typically uses Microsoft Point to Point Encryption (MPPE) which is based on RSA RC4 and supports up to 128 bit encryption.

IPSec

IPSec is short for Internet Protocol Security.  It works on Layer 3, and is often called “Site to Site VPN”.  It is usually used to connect one LAN to another LAN, most times using two hardware VPN units at each side communicating with each other.  It can also be used to connect a workstation to the corporate LAN, typically using proprietary software from the VPN manufacturer/developer (although you can sometimes use the built in software in the operating system – as is the case with Windows). The protocol can function in two modes (Transport and Tunnel) and provides end to end security by authenticating and encrypting the packets between parties.  It can support up to 168bit encryption with 3DES.

SSL VPN

SSL VPN is a type of VPN that allows communication to happen over https via web browsers.  The main advantage of SSL VPN is that no additional client software is required besides a web browser.  Since no software needs to be installed on a computer, a user can access the corporate network via VPN from just about any computer (i.e, Public Computer, kiosk, etc.).   The disadvantage is that because it tends to make the applications you would normally use a web type of application, you often lose some of the intended user experience of those converted applications.

L2TP

L2TP is short for Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol.   It doesn’t do any encryption on it’s own, and is often used in conjunction with IPSec (L2TP/IPsec VPN). The biggest thing to remember about L2TP is that it allows more types of applications to communicate through the VPN connection that otherwise are not supported in a standard IPSec implementation.

In a nutshell, deciding which VPN protocol to implement depends on your budget, the hardware that you have, what will be connecting (workstation/user, or LAN to LAN) and the ease of use.  Please feel free to contact us, and we will be happy to help plan out your VPN infrastructure, or answer any questions that you may have.

Yet Another Spyware Article

Monday, August 31st, 2009

First and foremost, it’s called MS Antivirus, or MS Antispyware:

From Wikipedia:

MS Antivirus has a number of other names. It is also known as XP Antivirus,[2] Vitae Antivirus, Windows Antivirus, Win Antivirus, Antivirus Pro, Antivirus Pro 2009, Antivirus 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 360, Internet Antivirus Plus, System Antivirus, Spyware Guard 2008 and 2009, Spyware Protect 2009, Winweb Security 2008, System Security, Malware Defender 2009, Ultimate Antivirus2008, Vista Antivirus, General Antivirus, AntiSpywareMaster, Antispyware 2008, XP AntiSpyware 2008 and 2009, WinPCDefender, Antivirus XP Pro, and Anti-Virus-1

It can be spread through the following vectors:
Most have a Trojan horse component, which users are misled into installing. The Trojan may be disguised as:

* A browser plug-in or extension (typically toolbar)
* An image, screensaver or archive file attached to an e-mail message
* Multimedia codec required to play a certain video clip
* Software shared on peer-to-peer networks
* A free online malware scanning service

Lately, with the infections I’ve seen this year, it seems that it spreads by tricking the user to download a CODEC to play a video. Sometimes the link will appear within a frame (say AOL main web site with an article directed somewhere else). It will also bypass web filtering applications (i.e. Surfcontrol) as long as the site that carries the malware is not banned for any reason . I was reading of an instance where a graphic designer was looking for a CODEC for their software, and downloaded one that they thought was good from a site that hosted Graphic Design templates, and got infect from there.

I also read of an instance in an enterprise environment where a business person was looking for info on an article, and happened to find what he thought was a news video on the subject, and got infected from there.

The following are ways that we can decrease a company as being a target for this infection:
1. Begin updating all Windows workstations with current security patches from Microsoft. And update them regularly
2. User education (especially don’t download codecs!)
3. Keep AV up to date.

Damage control consists of cleaning the computers with free tools we have at hand.

I have had success (meaning clean system with no nuke and pave) using the following strategy:
1. Download and Install CCleaner: http://www.ccleaner.com/. Run it in regular mode and clear out the temp files, and unneeded registry entries.
2. Go to Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs and attempt to remove Malware from there.
3. Turn off system restore to delete all system restores that are probably compromised now.
4. Download and install Malwarebytes http://www.malwarebytes.org/. Open it in regular mode, update it, and then run it in safe mode (no networking). If you can’t run it, go to step 12.
5. Reboot
6. Run Malwarebytes in regular mode until it reports no issues. If there are virii still present, run it in safe mode. If you can’t run Malwarebytes at all or after 3 cleans it’s not fully clean, continue to step 7. If no spyware is present, but Google redirects, skip to step 12.
7. Download Superantispyware: http://www.superantispyware.com/
8. Update it in regular mode for Windows.
9. Run it in safe mode to remove more malware.
10. Reboot
11. Repeat step 6, if step 6 fails, continue to step 12.
12. Download Combofix: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/combofix/how-to-use-combofix, and update it in regular mode.
13. Run it in safe mode. If Combofix will not run, continue to step 14.
14. Find the Malwarebytes executable by going to the shortcut that it placed on the desktop, and rename the Malwarebytes executable from *.exe to *.com.
15. Boot into regular mode, and update Malwarebytes.
16. Boot into safe mode and see if it will run (ensure it’s still named *.com). Repeat step 6 until it’s clean. Once it is, rename it back to *.exe. If this fails, continue on to step 17.
17. Rename combofix.exe to combo-fix.exe or combo-fix.com. Run it. After it’s finished, repeat step 6.
18. If all of these fail, backup your registry again, and try running Icesword: http://www.antirootkit.com/software/IceSword.htm. Icesword’s GUI is in Chinese, if this is unacceptable, backup, nuke and pave, and reinstall OS plus data, and rejoin to to domain if necessary.

The above steps go from least intrusive software to more dangerous software. Combofix and Icesword being the ones that can cause the most damage if used improperly (can delete needed items in registry, or muck up Microsoft Office Suite applications). Personally, Combfix seems to do the trick, and is the only one that will take care of the Google Link redirects. Icesword is worse case scenario, and I’ve only had to run it once since I first became aware of it 2 years ago.

Links on the subject for your reference:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MS_Antivirus_%28malware%29

http://forums.mcafeehelp.com/showthread.php?t=223581

Mac OS X Server 10.6 Announced

Monday, June 8th, 2009

You can read the press release at Apple. Highlights include:

  • Half the cost: $499 for Unlimited Clients
  • NetRestore is now bundled with Mac OS X Server
  • Wiki2 includes iPhone and QuickLook-type image display
  • Address Book Server now included
  • iCal Server works with iPhone
  • Push Email Support
  • New iPhone Configuration Utility
  • Supa-fast (OK, that last part is not official)

Using Transmogrifier to Extend Final Cut Server

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Using Transmogrifier With Final Cut Server

Transmogrifier is a python framework created to assist with the importing and exporting of assets from Final Cut Server to various export formats (currently YouTube and BrightCove are supported).

Getting Started

The primary interface to the Transmogrifier framework is provided via the executable file ‘transmogrifier’. Here is the usage output for this file:

Usage:
transmogrifier [-f configfile] [-d supportdir] [-a action] [-t mediatitle]
transmogrifier -o BrightCove -t MyAsset [-f configfile] [-d supportdir] [-a action]
transmogrifier -o BrightCove -a preflightCheck|upload -t MyAsset [-f configfile] [-d supportdir]
transmogrifier -a createSupportFolders [-o YouTube] [-f configfile] [-d supportdir]

Flags:
-h — displays this help message
-f filepath — Use specified config file
-o target — output target, i.e. ‘BrightCove’, ‘YouTube’
-d supportdir — path to support folder, this is typically read out of the configuration file
-t title — title of the asset.
-a action — Perform the requested action. default: “upload”
“upload”
“preflightCheck”
“createSupportFolders”

See the Introduction PDF on GitHub or Sourceforge for more info.