Protected Video Test

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2011 PSU MacAdmins Conference Summary

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We held the second annual PSU MacAdmins Conference this last May 10 - 12, 2011. The conference had 21 technical sessions for system admins and IT support of Macs and iOS devices. The sessions were presented by experts in Mac OS X and iOS deployments from Apple, Penn State University, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Liberty University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, IT consultants, and K-12 institutions.

The 3 day conference was held at the Penn State University Park campus in the Business Building. Registration was limited to 150 this year. There were over 50 people on the waiting list, after registration was closed.

The conference sold out quickly, in only 19 days. Of the 150 total attendees, 30% (45) were from Penn State. We were very surprised and happy to see the other 70% were from outside of Penn State, from education and industry. 49% of the attendees traveled from outside of Pennsylvania, comprising over 20 different states, and as far as California.

To help keep costs low, we didn't pay for any advertising. We announced the conference on various Mac OS X public lists, including the list which is hosted here at Penn State.

We used the hash tags of "#psumac2011" and "#psumacconf" on Twitter. We used the psumac2011 tag on flickr. We created a PSU MacAdmins FaceBook page too.

Conference session slides (PDF) and videos are available on iTunesU. The hub for the PSU MacAdmins community is located at

We've tentatively scheduled next year's conference for May 8 - 10, 2012.

It was really a great feeling to hear so many positive comments and feedback about the conference. We heard from many attendees that they really enjoyed the high quality session content, how well the conference was executed, and they loved the catered food, which is always a challenge at a conference! We quickly learned that once the conference started it was a train that we just rode on and fixed things on the fly when needed, and went with the flow. It all worked out just fine.

The conference was a lot of work for many people, but we loved doing it and we can't wait to do all again next year!
We've posted the 2011 PSU MacAdmins Conference session videos and slides on iTunesU today.

MacWorld 2010 Summary

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I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend this year's MacWorld conference held in San Francisco, CA during the dates of Tuesday, February 9 through Saturday, February 13. I co-presented one of the MacIT sessions on "System Image Creation and Deployment." The slides from the presentation are listed as one of the downloads on our Resources for Mac OS X system Admins.

This was the first year for the conference that Apple, Inc. wasn't at the show - at all. No booth, no keynote from them, nothing. A lot of people (including me when I first started going to the conference years ago) thought that Apple ran the entire show, but they are handled just like any other vendor at the show (for the most part; When they attended they were 'allowed' to lead the keynote, of course.)

I was concerned for the health of the conference that attendance would be down because of Apple not being there. There were a lot of people on the expo floor, but the attendance in some of the sessions seemed a little less than last year. Two weeks prior to the conference I received an email from the MacWorld conference organizers that I was given 10 "almost-full-access" MacWorld conference registrations to hand out to friends. This was an interesting move, but I'm sure it was to increase the attendance of the show. I gave 6 of these passes to folks at PSU and had 4 left over for a raffle over at the web site. All for charity...

The conference started off with two full day "Power Tool" sessions which are always a great time for learning a lot of new technologies in a compressed time. I attended the "Advanced Wireless Workshop: Become a wireless Guru in 48 hours or less" session which was presented by Bill Wiecking, MIS, Hawaii Preparatory Academy. I've attended other sessions of his before and am always extremely impressed with his delivery style and how he can keep everyone engaged and excited about the topic at hand.

I only attended the sessions directly related to IT of Macs. I really don't have any interest in the User Conference sessions, although a few of them did sound interesting, like "Greening Your IT Department", which was presented by Bill Wiecking. A few other folks from Penn State attended the sessions and found it to be useful information, and Bill is always entertaining.

The Mac IT track consisted of these topic areas: Administration, Services, Storage, Automation, Security, Media, Deployment, Policy, iPhone. I attended the sessions on server system administration, deployment, and security. Security seems to be a very hot topic this year, which I gleaned from talking with other speakers. Most of the sessions were well organized and had the right level of technical information. I especially enjoyed the presentation by Wayne Beech, Information Technology Manager, University of Kentucky on "IT851: Enterprise Level Scripting". It was great to see and hear from someone who has been doing system administration on a large scale for many years - lessons learned and tips to take back to the office and apply.

The Expo floor was busy, and in the end, not very interesting to me. I think I spent maybe two hours tops for the entire week just walking through the aisles talking with the various vendors whom we've dealt with before. I was surprised to see a few companies there selling enterprise storage systems, which I thought was good to see, honestly. Finally, the rush of iPhone cases and accessories have backed down a little. I met up with a long time friend of mine (Lance Ogletree) who now works for JamF Software. Lance and I both used to be on the steering committee and became friends over the years. JamF Software develops commercial software for the management of Macs on a large scale.

Lastly, the trip would not have been complete if I didn't visit the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. I've posted just a few pictures from the trip on flickr.

The Macworld conference is a great conference to attend for those in IT managing Macs. The User Conferences are much lighter content, and other sessions are for designers, etc. which I never attend, since I'm mostly interested in IT topics and technologies.

San Francisco is a great place to visit as well, since the restaurants are top notch and when the conference is closed for the day there are plenty of fun things to do in the area.

I'd strongly recommend attending Macworld for those folks supporting faculty and staff using Macs.

I'd recommend the MacWorld conference to those folks in IT needing to integrate Macs within enterprise infrastructures, like Penn State University. In the end the level of technical detail is naturally going to be higher at Apple's annual World Wide Developer Conference. For those who are system admins and programmers on Macs, if given the choice to attend either conference, I'd recommend WWDC just a tad bit higher than the Macworld conference.

All in all I learned a lot of new technologies, met up and talked with other Penn State system admins, and had a great time presenting.

Be sure to check out the pictures that I posted on flickr, which are just a few from the trip.

Action Leadership Program Training

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This last week I attended an "Action Leadership Program" training session, which was hosted by MOR Associates. The intent of this program was to apply the methods and principles from the IT Leadership Program (ITLP) to currently active projects at PSU.

Three different project teams were invited to attend the training to aid in the planning and management of their specific projects. The project that I'm a co-chair of is the Video E-Reserves Project.

We learned many useful techniques of helping to hone and clearly define the scope, resource needs, time lines, and encouraging equal input from all team members. Everyone communicates and learns differently, and this program helped to enable each person to contribute and be heard.

While there was some interaction with the other project teams, it would have been useful to hear even more about the lessons learned and challenges that other teams are dealing with. Overall the training was excellent, and was a great opportunity to apply learned methods to real life projects.

NVS Demo Test 2

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720P Streamed Video Test

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720P Video, exported to 30 FPS, 30 Key Frames per Second, 1000 Kbps:

Everything is the same except I changed the frames per second (and key frames too) 15: History of Ms. PacMan video test - 15FPS, 1000 Kbps, 500px wide (for Blog):

ITS Streaming Video Public Movie Embed Test

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The New ITS Streaming Video Server is up and running, and for movies which are marked a publicly viewable they can be easily included inline, like below: For more information on the new features of the Streaming Video Service, please visit the FAQ.

Private Movie embed test: (restricted by permissions, you may not have the necessary rights to view it): click to play

Apple's WWDC 2009 Conference Summary

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Apple's "World Wide Developer's Conference" was held last week in San Francisco, CA and I was lucky to attend it. As soon as registration was open for the conference we put in our requests to attend this fantastic and highly technical conference.

The conference sold out quickly - 5200 total attendees. The conference is held in one large building, Moscone West. I wish that Apple would consider holding it in a larger venue - Like Moscone North and South - but maybe Apple is concerned that having more people at the conference would make it that much more difficult to talk with the engineers? At $1000 per registration (edu), they've got to be making some money, even with the costs of renting the space, etc.

All attendees of WWDC are under non-disclosure agreements, but I can talk about the Keynote since it is public.

Steve Jobs was once again not at the helm of the keynote, and - once again - I wasn't that upset about him not doing it. In all fairness, I've been very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend a few Apple keynote events where Steve was on Stage and saying "Boom" a lot and wowing the crowd. Alright, back to topic of this report ...

The Keynote is available for watching here. If you haven't watched it yet, I would - there's a lot of content and excellent demos. I'm not going to go into the nitty gritty details of the event, as there are plenty of other summaries out there, and I'm just not that interesting! I will give my quick impressions and thoughts though...

Apple and the current Economy

Apple reads the papers just like everyone else. They (or AT&T) made the cost of the iPhone 3G (now at $99 for a 2 year contract) much more accessible to everyone. They've also lowered the cost on their laptop line, and made some impressive changes to the battery life. They upgraded the 13" MacBook to a new 13" MacBook Pro with impressive benchmarks that rival even the fastest MacBook Pro available today. MacWorld magazine posted benchmarks of these laptops, and they are all quite impressive. I've lived on a 15" MacBook Pro as my main office Mac for years, but for even more portability I'm seriously considering the 13" MacBook Pro - although I have concerns about the smaller display resolution size and the graphics chip is slower than what I have today. Apple also added Firewire 800 to the 13" MacBook Pro, and replaced the Express card slot with an SD memory card slot, which works for me as I've never used an Express Card hardware device and only SD memory cards. For those that still need the Express Card slot, Apple has included one still in the much larger 17" MacBook Pro. I believe Apple when they stated that very few people actually use the Express Card slot. has a good summary of the new laptop lineup.

Apple lowered the cost to upgrade to Snow Leopard (from Leopard) to just $29, and $49 for the family pack. I think they made a lot of changes under the covers of Snow Leopard from Leopard actually. There's the theory that development suffered since Apple was pouring a lot of R&D into developing the iPhone before it was released, which might be true, but Snow Leopard really does add a lot of nice refinements to OS X. I can't wait to run it full time - but I hope the PGP drivers are ready before then! I've read on a few of PGP forums that they will be ready ... I have a friend at Google that has worked closely with PGP on a few things, and I'm sure that PGP is well aware of the desire and need to be ready for 64-bit Kernel extensions in Snow Leopard.

Snow Leopard will be out in September, Apple stated in the Keynote. This will probably mean as late in the month as possible, but honestly, I'd rather they take the time to do it right and not push it out before it's really ready. The risk of pushing it out earlier to general consumers wouldn't be as bad as it is for system admins managing the system and supporting them. I've heard of system admin friends at other Universities being told that they must deploy Leopard when it did not function correctly in their environments. Not an easy battle to fight.

Apple also stated that they will sell Snow Leopard server - with unlimited clients - for $499. Before it retailed for $999, and was $499 for Higher Ed, so I wonder what the cost will be for Edu if the retail cost was lowered by $500?

iPhone Updates

Wow, I was blown away by the new features of the iPhone 3G S. So much that I asked my wife to go to the iPhone 3G S site and pick out which one she wanted so that I could order new iPhones for both of us last week! Our 2 year contract with AT&T on our OLD iPhones is expiring this Friday, so perfect timing for us!

The really interesting things for the iPhone that apply to me at work include the areas of integration with iTunesU, fully encrypted iPhone data, and possibly HTTP streaming video. I attended the session on HTTP streaming and was blown away. They've submitted a white paper on the technology too. Apple really has done a great job of recognizing the bottle necks in getting data to mobile devices (no surprise, they are motivated even more now to sell those little devices).

Apple does marketing very well, so head on over to Apple's iPhone web page for more information. It's a very glossy site with videos presented by young, and articulate people so it's easy to watch and listen to.

The demos of the many ways that the iPhone can be used were excellent in the Keynote.

The IT track was a little weaker than last year, but still very strong. There were many more iPhone specific sessions of course, but Apple's not sitting still with the success of the iPhone.

I'm sure that the "halo" effect of the iPod Touch and iPhone are directly responsible for more users of Mac OS X computers.

I attended many sessions on server administration, Podcast Producer improvements (which we really needed), iPhone integration with enterprise wireless networks, system imaging, and scripting.

I was lucky to run into Apple's ONLY developer on their System Imaging Utility for Snow Leopard and asked him a lot of questions about features and found out that it's not going to be able to replace our current lab image deployment tool, PSU Blast Image Config. Sadly, he's also the Q&A person for the software that he's writing! This was very depressing to hear. I'm (still) very frustrated with Apple's lack of commitment to providing enterprise system management. They do a great job of making tools that work for small labs and work groups, but not larger, distributed systems and networks. They have first class servers now, but ...

I recommend anyone that is a system administrator of Mac OS X clients or servers really would get a lot of out attending WWDC. It's also the conference for software engineers of Mac OS X and iPhone OS applications too, so quite fitting for all technical folks working with Mac OS X.

So in addition to the conference content being very high quality, I always look forward to meeting new people. I enjoy meeting new people - Dion, a young system admin from Canada, Scott, a COO for a major electronics company, plus a few others. It's also a great time to meet up with old friends from other Universities (MIT, US Davis, Yale, University of Utah). My friend from US Davis mentioned that they handed out iPod Touches to students as a test for yet another clicker system. Great discussions over lunch and dinner with friends in the field is a huge benefit to me.

I posted just a few pictures that I took during my trip here on flickr.


MacWorld 2009 Summary

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The MacWorld Conference was a fun week (January 5 - January 9) of learning new technologies and meeting great people, even if nothing "totally amazing" is announced by Apple at the keynote. Before I attended the conference I read that Steve Jobs was not going to present the Keynote, and I was ok with that. I think he fully deserves respect and privacy for his personal life. Also, hopefully, Jobs isn't the only "smart and visionary" person at Apple!

You can watch the KeyNote by Phil Schiller on Apple's web site. I think Phil actually did a great job, considering Jobs did so many of the previous KeyNotes so well. He announced new versions of iLife and iWork, which both looked great, but for totally selfish reasons I really liked the GPS geotagging and faces recognition in iPhoto. I doubt the faces recognition will recognize the faces of family pets ... Also, based on some of the comments that Phil said about the previous version of iLife requiring some changes, Apple recognized in a way that iMovie '08 removed features that customers had grown accustomed. iMovie '09 has a totally new user interface that really looks more like a professional video editing application and no longer a "toy" application. One of the coolest features is the stabilization of video that was recorded from a moving jeep in Africa. Watch the keynote for this part, it was very impressive.

The 17" MacBook Pro was due for an update, and it's impressive. Longer battery life, matching uni-body enclosure like the MacBook and MacBook Pro, etc. I'm not sure what to think of a non-removable battery for a portable laptop though ... even with 8 hours of battery life - which is optimal - I'm betting that users will still need to have extra juice and might have to use an ugly external battery that plugs into the power port... Yuck!

I think this was the first keynote that I can recall that had open seats in the room. Could it be the lack of Steve Jobs presenting, and/or the sign of the economic times too?

When I first heard that Apple was no longer participating in the MacWorld conference, I was shocked. My initial reaction was "How arrogant can Apple be to do this?" But then I calmed down and read a few Mac news sites from the usual strongly opinionated journalists, and came to this realization: MacWorld is about new 3rd party products for the Mac, and training sessions. Apple has over 180 retail stores now, and they claim that they get the same number of visitors each week that would fill 100 MacWorld conferences. If Apple doesn't have a huge announcement at MacWorld, their stock will take a hit, as every year when the KeyNote wasn't amazing will show. The best time for Apple to announce new stuff for consumers to buy is a few months BEFORE the November and December holidays, right? It's fair to say that I will certainly miss seeing Apple at any possible future MacWorld Keynote addresses, as it's always great to see Steve Jobs doing his thing and showing off new stuff. I'm holding judgment if the lack of Apple at MacWorld will kill the conference all together, as if the organizers of the conference can morph it into something that people still want to attend. Also, without Apple being there, there now might be more of a chance for 3rd party vendors to make new announcements, potentially at the Keynote address.

In the end, Apple is out to make money, just like any other company - big surprise, eh? They enjoy innovating for sure, and they make great money on that innovation and the return of investment on their research and development costs are recouped pretty quickly. The iPhone was secretly being worked on for over 2 years, and it's obviously paid off in huge ways.

So, that's enough of my opinions about the Keynote and Apple's participation, as I'm sure everyone has great points to argue one way or the other...

I was registered for the MacIT track which was filled with many excellent and very technical sessions. The MacIT track consisted of many sessions covering enterprise storage solutions, management of portable computers, system scripting, system imaging, Wiki, Podcast Producer, and security. Thankfully, the sessions over the years have transitioned into the mindset of "Here's HOW to do this" versus just "Here's what's possible to do."

I was lucky to present in 4 sessions, the first one being a "Hands On Lab" on automated system image creation, the second on System Image Creation Session, system image deployment, and the Q&A session for the Imaging track presenters. I presented on the tool that I developed here at PSU in 2 of the sessions, "PSU Blast Image Config." One could only hope that Apple will eventually offer a system image restore tool system that fulfills all of our needs for our labs today. The MacIT track has thankfully gotten a lot more technical over the years - it used to be more theory than anything, but there were lots of demos and example scripts and tools that helped the attendees get the larger picture. Sessions surveys were handed out to attendees at the start of each session so that they could return them at the end of the sessions for their evaluation of the content and presenters, which helps to keep the conference well received and on target. I always look forward to the session reviews as I enjoy presenting and also learn a lot from the audience with their insight and comments.

Lastly, I've posted some pictures that I took from the Computer History Museum in Mountain View,CA as well as a museum that has a collection of vintage games. Great stuff!