I was the only one at work

NAYA was closed today, due to snow. When I tried to remote in to check my servers, I was not able to see all of them. So, I drove in check on things.

The roads were covered with packed snow, but, not too treacherous. (if you drove sanely, that is).

Fortunately, someone had driven through the parking lot, which allowed me to get up to the door.

Trail thru the driveway













The front “yard” is covered with snow, and beautiful.

NAYA's Front Yard

Raspberry Pi Revives a Wasp

I just plugged the WASP WCS3905 bar code reader into a Raspberry Pi that I have at my desk.

A few seconds later, I heard the handheld device beep. I didn’t have to install any drivers or other software.

I launched the built-in text editor, Leafpad. Then, I aimed the bar code reader at a bar code. BEEP! The serial number on the box appeared in the text document!

The WCS3905 had been used with our inventory system. But, the inventory laptop crashed about a year or so ago, and it’s been just gathering dust.

I’m trying to get a better hold of all the tech that goes through my office, to be more organized, accountable. This will be a huge boon for me. I can now start scanning hardware as it comes in, capturing information quickly.

I’ve been thinking about building a little inventory control database, and this will be a great part of that.

Notifications via the terminal

Oh man! This will be a very handy tool to have.

At work I use Apple Remote Desktop to manage the school’s computers.

One of the features of Remote Desktop is the ability to run shell scripts on any or all of the machines.

Sometimes, my shell-script-fu is weak, but I know how to do it with Applescript.

But, Remote Desktop doesn’t allow me to run an Applescript in the same way. That is, I can’t send a string of Applescript commands to a machine over the network, and have it do the bidding of the Applescript.

I have created some Applescripts and I’ve saved them as applications, which I then trigger from Remote Desktop. But, sometimes, I need to just do a one-off task, and don’t want to write the script, save it as an application, copy the application to all the Macs, and then run the application.

In the past, I’ve seen ways to wrap an Applescript in a shell script, but I haven’t used that before.

I have a task now, where I want to have the computers tell me their names. I was thinking of modifying a script that creates a text document, identifying the computer by name, and then sends a print job from each computer.

But, I thought, what about this fancy Notification Center. Can I tap into that?

Turns out the answer is yes!

How can I trigger a Notification Center notification from an AppleScript or shell script?

(Via Ask Different as Stack Exchange.)

Managing multiple printers via the command line – Mac OS X Hints

We have about 30 printers at work. I have an OmniOutliner doc that I use to keep track of printer models and locations.

I can get into the printers, remotely, via a web browser. I can also admin some of them with a vendor’s utility. 

But, both of those can be clunky when I need to work on more than one at a time, or when I need to adjust a group of staff’s printer settings.

I found this article on Mac OS X Hints whilst looking for some SNMP tools.

Managing multiple printers via the command line – Mac OS X Hints:

About the same time, same call

For a couple of weeks, about the same time every day, I would get a call from the lab coordinator that the computers were having problems connecting to the Internet.

The network pref pane said that the Ethernet connection was Connected.

Symptoms: A user would try to get to a website, like ixl.com or pbskids.org and the progress bar would stall about mid-way, and the browser window was blank.

I could remote in via ARD and look at the Network settings. All were correct. They all had a unique IP address, within the range of

Using Terminal, I could ping outside servers.

I could launch VMWare Fusion, and using a browser, running on Windows, I could reach those same sites.

I tried resetting Safari, clearing the caches in Firefox, reinstalling the browsers.

Then I found this thread: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4093878?start=0&tstart=0

Solution: Turn off IP6 (!)

Open the Network Pref Pane, unlock using the pref pane

Click on “Advanced…”

Change the value for “Configure IPv6” from “Automatic” to “Off”

Click “OK”

Restart the iMac.

It works!

Adjusting My Sysadmin Hat

Today was pretty busy from the get-go. My compadre was off today, so I was flying solo. I had to setup (and tear down) the sound system for a couple of events (thankfully, I was able to call on the Facilities guys to help with the speakers).

Sound by Fry Bread

The sound system is a weak area for me, so it always makes me nervous. But the more I do this, the better. Although, today, there was no fry bread. (the photo, above, is from when I was running sound for our powwow)

I’ve been dealing with some login weirdness all day, too. (Seemingly) Random drives dropping off of people’s machines. Hmmm…

But, now, as the day comes towards the end, I have some time to look at a couple of our servers that we’re using for an internal project.

InfoBoard Success!
InfoBoard Testing

We had a little blip in our power today, and it knocked one of the two servers down. I was able to bring it back up, but it took more time than I thought it should have. Also, everytime I fiddle with either of these machines, I think “I need to do a better job of managing their power usage and also remote admin stuff.”

I can ssh into one of them, the other machine, I can only use VNC into it.

In the process of checking out ways to manage power, I’ve found a couple of good resources. One is ServerFault.com. Lots of tech sites have become cluttered messes. ServerFault is clean, with a nice signal-to-noise ratio. Lessee what happens…

UNIX network performance analysis

Troubleshooting the Network--Check it out at Flickr

As I’ve mentioned before, our network at NAYA is busy. Dealing with network issues is one of our biggest headaches.

The students are doing their quarterly standards-testing. And once again, network traffic looks like it might be an issue.

This article, UNIX network performance analysis, came over Twitter as I was scarfing some gumbo between troubleshooting sessions.

Some good, basic tips for analyzing your network.

I also found a podcast, The Root Cause, which talks about system admin issues. I’m loading it up on my iPod shuffle. I’ll let you know how it goes.