Thursday, 31 January 2013

Apple vs. Samsung - Apple appeal denied

So, as I'm sure you already know, Apple's appeal against Samsung has been denied in the latest of twists to this piece of courtroom drama. I personally believe that the Galaxy Nexus shouldn't have been banned, but some of Apple's other cases were actually OK.
But what does it actually achieve? Nothing. Well, nothing apart from making a few lawyers very rich. This won't stop Samsung's market share increasing, nor will it stop Apple from making huge profits. It's just one way for Samsung and Apple to burn lots of cash.
Samsung and Apple should stop fighting each other in court. It does nothing for the customer, nothing for the shareholder, nothing for Tim Cook as a CEO. I'm sure Google has some sort of say in Samsung's involvement in patent trials.
Anyway, enough of the tech news reporting and back to irregular posting.

Friday, 25 January 2013

WiFi Names

It seems there are four categories of WiFi network names. Some of them, well, are just wrong (e.g. someone was prosecuted for a racist WiFi name in the US).
  1. The default names. TALKTALK-123456, linksys, NETGEAR etc. These are from people who either can't be bothered renaming or those who don't know how to. Often targeted by leechers.
  2. The funny (or not) names. Virus.exe, keylogger, Abraham Linksys, Series of Tubes, Get Off My LANd etc. These are from people with a sense of humour they need to express. I used MI6 Surveillance Van 42 for a while for my legacy G network.
  3. The references. Archangel Network, Skynet, AnswerToLife etc. These are usually from people who are fans of a particular TV show, series of novels or film. (AnswerToLife's password was, incidentally, fortytwo.)
  4. The personal names. Anything really that has a personal meaning or is an inside joke.
I've always been wary of networks named "Free Wi-Fi", as these can be hackers masquerading as Wi-Fi hotspots (yeah I know, paranoid). However, there is an increasing trend of hackers masquerading as "linksys" and "NETGEAR".

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Why OS X Server is still a decent server OS

OS X Server has been getting a lot of flak since Apple came out with Lion Server in 2011. Whilst there were some teething issues, now that we are on 10.8 most of these are gone. So, it's a good OS right?
Not according to a lot of people. Common criticisms are:
  • "kiddy OS"
  • "terrible for the enterprise"
  • "cheap for a reason"
  • "just a pretty GUI"
To take the enterprise criticism first: I agree. It's not made for the enterprise. Apple knew that most Windows/Linux sysadmins would never consider Apple servers, and with the demise of the Xserve they've made that clear. Apple would have to be insane to sell an enterprise server OS for £13.99 (plus ML).  It is made for home and small business users that don't have a dedicated sysadmin who's on call 24/7, who don't run a high traffic website, who just want it to work with their Apple products.

"kiddy OS". OK. As I've said above, it's not for running the next YouTube. It's for a simple server. It still offers Terminal, if you want to get into the Unix side of things. And for most people, setting it up is very quick and easy. Explain how this is a bad thing?

"just a pretty GUI". Again, it's simple and easy to set up. And it's based on Unix.

To sum up, it's like Windows Home Server. This never got this criticism, and OS X Server is more reliable, and cheaper, than WHS. Call me an Apple fanboy if you will (God, I hate that term) but Server isn't that bad, and it works with not just my Apple products, but also my Nexus 7, Ubuntu and Windows PCs etc.
People who dislike OS X Server are welcome to make their argument in the comments.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

FileVault - Resetting master password

This article is about resetting a FileVault password. While researching this I saw a post in Apple Support Communities:
First, turn off "FileVault" on any and all accounts created while the current "master password" has been in effect. This may take some time, and requires sufficient free space on the hard drive.

The "master password" is associated with the "FileVaultMaster.keychain" and "FileVaultMaster.cer" in the computer's main "/Library/Keychains" folder. If these files are removed, the system will think that a "master password" has not been set. It might be a good idea to keep the files backed up somewhere if you happen to have any backups of old "FileVault" sparse images somewhere, in case you need to get in to them and happen to remember the old "master password" at some point.

Anyway, after removing those files, it should be possible to set a new "master password" from the "Security" pref pane. If "FileVault" is subsequently turned on, the disk images will be created, incorporating the new "master password".

And I had to try it out myself. It worked great on OS X Leopard (maybe great isn't the word). Resetting the admin password is easy, and this is another security hole in FileVault. You can simply use the Cmd+S method:

  1. Hold down Cmd+S to go into single user mode.
  2. Type fsck -fy
  3. Type mount -uw /
  4. Type passwd <username> where username is the user you want to reset
It would seem the only real way to secure a Mac against physical access is to set an EFI or Open Firmware password.