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From the Editor, August 2009

Volume Number: 25
Issue Number: 08
Column Tag: Editorial

From the Editor, August 2009

This month is a culmination of ideas we've been talking about for some time: anyone that considers themselves technically proficient with OS X needs to know how to automate tasks. There are many ways to do this, of course. I'm happy to say that we're presenting a range of ways in this single issue.

Realistically, there's always some repetitive task you can have a computer do for you. "Repetitive" in this context doesn't mean "identical." Programs and scripts can make decisions based on the date, the logged in user, the presence of particular files on disk, the model of machine in use and more. This is where it's up to the person creating the workflow to decide what makes sense.

If you've never automated anything before, check out Ben Waldie's, "Getting Started with Automator." Automator is an often-overlooked utility that has incredible power. If you primarily administer machines in a graphics or general-purpose lab, Automator fits right in.

Automator is certainly powerful, but admittedly, some of this power comes from its ability to run shell scripts. If you're ready to tackle this level of flexibility via Automator or on its own, Greg Neagle lays out excellent options in this month's MacEnterprise column, "System Framework Scripting." Also, this month's Mac in the Shell column continues to cover Python scripting. This month covers a specific API for accessing the AddressBook.

For System Administrators that manage a fleet of Macintosh machines, Criss Myers continues his article on using JAMF's Casper Suite. This is a great example of using a pre-built tool to automate the rollout and maintenance of your entire fleet of Macs, little to no scripting or coding required.

José Cruz comes back to MacTech with an article on scripting PackageMaker. Oftentimes, certain components of a package should be deployed based on factors of the machine the installer is running on. Rather than writing an external script to decide what to install, wouldn't it be nice if the package contained this logic? José's article shows you how to accomplish this.

Michele Hjörleifsson goes further into using Public Key Encryption (PKI) in an Enterprise setting and how to incorporate OS X into this mix. Another returning series is Michael Göbel and Oliver Pospisil's, "Inspired By Life." Michael and Oliver bring you more tips in running an independent software vendor taken from their own experiences in creating and marketing an iPhone application.

Finally, the MacTech Spotlight shines on Arek Dreyer, a Chicago-based independent consultant. A frequent speaker at Macworld and the author of Peachpit's training material for Apple's Directory Services:

(http://www.amazon.com/Apple-Training-Directory-Services-v10-5/dp/0321509730/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1247786249&sr=8-1) and more, Arek is well known in the Mac IT and consulting arenas.

Until next month, keep pushing yourself, and let MacTech know how to assist in the process! Start the conversation at letters@mactech.com.

Edward Marczak,

Executive Editor

 

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