Posts Tagged ‘web 2.0’


Thursday, November 29th, 2012

It was our privilege to be contacted by Bizappcenter to take part in a demo of their ‘Business App Store‘ solution. They have been active on the Simian mailing list for some time, and have a product to help the adoption of the technologies pioneered by Greg Neagle of Disney Animation Studios (Munki) and the Google Mac Operations Team. Our experience with the product is as follows.

To start, we were given admin logins to our portal. The instructions guide you through getting started with a normal software patch management workflow, although certain setup steps need to be taken into account. First is that you must add users and groups manually, there are no hooks for LDAP or Active Directory at present (although those are in the road map for the future). Admins can enter the serial number of each users computer, which allows a package to be generated with the proper certificates. Then invitations can be sent to users, who must install the client software that manages the apps specified by the admin from that point forward.


Sample applications are already loaded into the ‘App Catalog’, which can be configured to be installed for a group or a specific user. Uploading a drag-and-drop app in a zip archive worked without a hitch, as did uninstallation. End users can log into the web interface with the credentials emailed to them as part of the invitation, and can even ‘approve’ optional apps to become managed installs. This is a significant twist on the features offered by the rest of the web interfaces built on top of Munki, and more features (including cross-platform support) are supposedly planned.


If you’d like to discuss Mac application and patch management options, including options such as BizAppCenter for providing a custom app store for your organization, please contact

Microsoft Office Live Workspace

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Microsoft Office Live Workspace is a portal that allows you to view your Microsoft Office documents online. This includes the ability to share documents and do desktop presentations of Microsoft Office documents. Microsoft Office Live Workspace is in beta and free, so why not give it a try? That’s what Microsoft is asking now that Google Docs and Zoho are moving towards commoditizing the document and spreadsheet space.

So first impressions? Office Live Workspace doesn’t let you edit documents. Anyone who has used Google Docs or Zoho is going to be looking for that feature. There is a nice plug-in that is free that allows you to save up to 500 Megabytes of new or existing files into the Workspace portal as well as edit documents that are actually located on the portal. You can also create multiple locations for others to access, called workspaces and sync task lists or online events with Microsoft Outlook (a feature most Outlook Web Access users are already using). If you don’t have Office though, you can only view files and create notes about them. Changes are automatically synchronized so you can easily work while offline without a lot of headache.

There’s also SharedView. SharedView is part of Microsoft Office Live Workspace and gives other users the ability to view or take over your desktop as part of the collaboration benefits of Microsoft Office Live Workspace. This is already available through other Microsoft technologies, but this is a little more user friendly and nicely ties together with the document editing process. images-1.jpeg All in all, users of Microsoft Office just got a host of new features with the Microsoft Office Live Workspace. So we might as well take use of this new technology since Microsoft was so nice to give it to us. However, if we’re looking for something that mirrors the functionality of Google Docs then this isn’t it. It’s more of meeting half-way between Google Docs and Microsoft Office.

Leopard Server: Introduction to Wikis

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

Leopard Server and wiki. It’s cool and it works. But when you’re first looking into it, it might seem a little confusing. So let’s do a simple walkthrough. Here we’re going to enable a wiki in advanced mode for a group called testgroup and we’re going to give a user called testadmin access to edit the wikis and create new ones. To get access to the wiki we’re going to assume a hostname of

First, let’s go into Workgroup Manager and create a new group called testgroup. To do this, open Workgroup Manager, authenticate to Open Directory and click on the New Group icon in the toolbar. Enter a name for the group (testgroup for this example) and check the box for “wiki and blog.” Select the website to publish the wiki to in the Enable the following services for this group on field. Choose who can view and who can write to the wiki and click on the Save button.

Now let’s create a user called testuser. In Workgroup Manager, click on the User list and click on New User. Now enter a name for the user and a password. Then use the Groups tab to put the user into the testgroup group. Now click on Save.

Now that we have a user and group to give access to the wiki let’s go ahead and create a wiki. To do this open Server Admin. If the Web Service has not been enabled yet, click on the server name, click on Settings in the toolbar and then click on the Services tab and place a check in the box for Web. Now click on the web icon and click on the Settings tab. Select a theme for your site and click on Save. Now click on the Sites icon in the toolbar and click on the site you’d like to publish your wiki on. From here click on the Web Services tab and put a checkmark in the Wiki and blog box. Now click on Save. Then Start the web service.

Now you should be able to open up a web browser and go to URL of the server. Remember, do this by host name and not IP. At this point, you’ll see the Groups tab along the top navbar. From here you can click on Groups and then click on the group you want to create the wiki for (testgroup for our test wiki). Now you’ll be asked for a username and password. Enter the testuser you created and the password that you gave to testuser. Now you can click on the + icon to create your first entry into the wiki. Let’s call it testpost.

That’s it. You’ve now created your first wiki article on your new wiki server. Notice that if you enabled calendars and blogs that there will be icons for these in the top nav bar. You can customize everything you see on the screen to give it a more organizational look and feel. For example if you click on the pencil icon you will be able to rename the blog and customize the prebuilt information listed in the Welcome to your Wiki page.

Leopard Server: Introduction to Ruby on Rails

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

So Ruby on Rails… What does this mean for me and what exactly is Ruby on Rails from a systems administration standpoint? Ruby on Rails was created by David Heinemeier Hansson from his work on Basecamp, a web-based project-management tool, by the company 37signals. Ruby on Rails was first released to the public in July 2004. Ruby on Rails is a web application framework designed to support the development of dynamic websites. To see some sites built using Ruby on Rails check out

Ruby is an object-oriented program language that Rails is built on.  To access rails, you can use the rails command.

The Ruby on Rails framework is built into Leopard Server and can be started up using the mongrel_rails start command. It can be stopped using the mongrel_rails command. Mongrel is a fast HTTP library and server for Ruby. Mongrel_rails is a command line tool that can be used to control the Mongrel webserver.

Some options to the mongrel_rails command include the following: -d daemonize -p assign a custom port -a assign an address for the HTTP listener -l assign a log file to use -t customize the timeout variable -m use additional MIME types -r change the document root -B enable debugging -C use a configuration file -S define an additional config script -h access the help libraries -G generate a config file –user define who the server will run as –version get the version information for Mongrel

But that’s not all you can do with mongrel_rails. The actual file is not compiled so you can read it in clear text and learn more about what it is doing behind the scenes. Just cd into the /System/Library/Frameworks/Ruby.framework/Versions/1.8/usr/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/mongrel-1.0.1/bin/ folder to find it. One item of note is the inclusion of mongrel_rails_persist, a wrapper for mongrel_rails that allows admins to register the Mongrel Server with Bonjour and create a launchd plist to run Mongrel (/Library/LaunchAgents/

So let’s say that you have a Ruby application that lives at the following location /Library/WebServer/MyRubyApp. You can run the following command to launch it over port 8001 in a persistent manner: mongrel_rails_persist start -p 8001 -c /Library/WebServer/MyRubyApp

To access it from a web browser you would enter the address

From here you’ll be able to daemonize Mongrel and provide the Rails development framework to developers in your environment. There are already a lot of projects for using Ruby with FileMaker and other database systems, so keep an eye out for more information about this piece of Leopard Server!

What is Web 2.0 Anyways?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

Chances are, with all of the hubbub surrounding overnight success giants and Flickr, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the second coming of the internet, commonly referred to as “Web 2.0” . Bloggers are frequently commenting on “Wiki” this and “tagging” that. But what is this Web 2.0 phenomenon and how can it improve how we manage our lives and businesses in a digital world? While there may not be a simple answer to these questions, there are a few suppositions that can be made as to what Web 2.0 is shaping up to look like and how its changing the way we exchange information.

In very general terms, Web 2.0 is commonly referred to as the upsurge in development of web-based services and applications utilizing open-source development platforms such as Ruby on Rails and Ajax. Which doesn’t really mean very much to, you and me, the non-developer community, except that what these developmental tools actually allow us to do on the internet are shaping up to be rather interesting prospects, indeed. For instance, last year, using their own Ruby on Rails technology, a company called 37 signals, released a completely internet-based project management and collaboration suite called Basecamp. For a rather nominal licensing fee, small businesses can manage projects and the people assigned to them in real-time, all within a web-browser. No more confusing licensing issues with project management software. One licensing fee, unlimited users. That’s it. Simple, easy. It’s the perfect example of what many developers are banking on. No more confusing licensing issues and expensive support.

What makes this technology so alluring, besides cost-effectiveness, is the collaborative capabilities inherent in tagging technology. In a nutshell, “tagging” or “Wiki” is the ability for users to link information to make it available to whomever they see fit. For example,, one of the more successful Web 2.0 outcroppings, gives users the ability to upload their pictures to their own personal Flickr website. They then tag their pictures, inserting keywords that describe the picture, which are then enabled as hyperlinks, making them searchable to other users that have similar tags. Other users have the ability to tag your photos, if you so desire. Allowing you to accept or deny these tags, thereby giving your pictures less or more visibility depending on what your level of participation might be. Essentially, the more you contribute, the more visible you become.

Taking online collaboration to a more global level, Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia, allows registered users to contribute to articles in encyclopedic entries, essentially tagging them with additional information they deem important to that article. Volunteers, or Wikipedians, as they’re referred to in the wiki-sphere, edit these entries and collaborate on whether they should be included or not. True global collaboration.

But this technology is not just reserved for the internet. Software developers are feverishly developing web 2.0 applications for the enterprise. SocialText, a Palo Alto based developer has just released server software that will facilitate easy online collaboration for documents and projects in an enterprise environment. Companies like design firms and media firms that rely heavily on collaboration for the success of their enterprise will probably want to take a good hard look at these kinds of collaborative solutions. Another interesting development comes from Joyent, a Marin County, CA start-up that is targeting small businesses with a completely web-based network server solution, literally, in a box. For just around $5K and a $65 monthly service fee for updates and support, this “out-of-the-box” server plugs into a company’s intranet and via a web-browser, hosts email, file-sharing, contact management, and calendar publishing, with tagging supported across the whole suite allowing for a true online collaborative environment.

If this kind of solution catches on, software development of this sort won’t be going away any time soon and is the stuff that might make server giants such as Microsoft and Apple rethink their strategies toward the small business market. Web 2.0 is still in its infancy; we’ll have to wait and see which of the many services and technologies being offered catch on and which will waste away in the cloud of cyberspace obscurity. But one thing is for certain, Web 2.0 development is paving the road for the future of online collaboration and productivity.