A hybrid approach to managing Microsoft Office updates

Most MacAdmins take an either/or approach to managing updates for Microsoft Office on macOS, utilizing either Microsoft AutoUpdate (MAU) or Munki. However I’ve found that a hybrid approach using both works best for us.

I’ve shared my setup severals times on the MacAdmins Slack, most recently in a direct message, so I wanted to provide more details here. Read on if you are interested in how I’m keeping Office up-to-date and providing for new installs.

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Houston Apple Admins, join us!

After six months of talking about it, we’re making it official. Kyle Bradbury, Jonathan Haenchen and I have founded the Houston Apple Admins! The goal is to create a professional networking group for macOS and iOS admins in the Houston region who can share knowledge, learn new things and have a little fun.

We held our first meetup last week at The Conservatory downtown where we swapped stories, discussed projects and lamented upcoming changes to Apple’s Server.app. We’re planning our next get together in late March and we’d love to have you join us. Keep an eye on our website for details and join us in the #houston channel of the MacAdmins Slack where it all began.

Automating installation and configuration of SSD Fan Control

This year we started seeing a problem with the hard drives failing inside our 2009, 2010 and 2011 iMacs here at the newspaper. The computers still work fine otherwise and since it is pretty easy to replace them (it can easily be accomplished in under ten minutes without removing the display) that is what we’ve been doing.

The only downside is that the OEM hard drives ship with specific Apple firmware that ties into the thermal management system. Installing a new hard drive or SSD results in the fans running at full blast. Thankfully software exists to work around this and I automated the installation and configuration with Munki, read on to see how.

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Microsoft AutoUpdate Caching Server Options & Behavior

I’ve been using an internal Microsoft AutoUpdate (MAU) Caching Server here at the newspaper since shortly after it was announced by Paul Bowden last year. I helped explain the various configuration options available last night in the #microsoft-office channel of the MacAdmins Slack and wanted to expand on them with a more detailed article.

There are three different ways the MAU Caching Server can be configured. If you are interested in learning the differences of those options please read on.

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Lexar Workflow card reader speed tests

The “deep hibernation” of Rob Galbraith’s Digital Photography Insights website, including his CF/SD/XQD Performance Database, in 2012 left a huge void in the resources available to photojournalists. For as long as I can remember that was the definitive reference when trying to find the fastest flash cards and readers for use by working photojournalists and sports photographers.

I used to love spending time talking with other photographers on the Galbraith forums and comparing the data compiled by Rob and his team. We purchased the Lexar Professional Workflow system here at the newspaper this year and in the spirit of those old times I decided to test out the speeds when connecting it in the various configurations available. Read on if you’re interested in the results.

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Installing Drobo Dashboard with iSCSI on Mac OS X

A year after my article detailing the removal of the iSCSI initiator from the Drobo Dashboard software, the time finally arrived that I needed to setup a Drobo B800i on a clean install of Mac OS X El Capitan.

Despite being prepared for what I was getting into it still didn’t go smoothly. Read on for how I finally got it going.

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Mac & Drobo iSCSI users beware

My predecessors liked Drobo, I inherited a variety of models here at the newspaper. We’ve got around ten of them connected to various servers and systems via Firewire, USB and iSCSI.

I’ve never been a big fan, personally preferring products that operate with standard RAID levels instead of proprietary technologies like Drobo. While I’m sure “BeyondRAID” works fine it will require another Drobo to recover data in the event the disks are fine but the chassis fails. But I understand why they are popular, Drobo offers RAID-like storage at reasonable prices that isn’t intimidating to the average consumer.

But a change they sprung on Mac OS X users this week has really soured me on the company. Read on for the details…

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