Improving Python Access To JAMF – A New Tool

At my current employer we use JAMF Pro to manage a medium sized fleet of Macs and that means talking to the back end JSS if we want data.

The tool to talk to your JSS from Python is Crag Shea’s python_jss. The big problem you then hit is that it returns XML. In the case of a computer record in tje JSS tha’s 2500 lines of ugly XML. I couldn’t find a parser that would correctly parse it so have to fall back to using Elementree to pick it apart piece by piece.

That leads to ugly code that’s hard to follow.

So I decided to write jss_tools, a set of functions that takes the XML and converts it to Python data structures and converts the XML data strings to Python types.

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Some iTerm2 hacking

The first thing I discovered is that when you go to install iTerm2’s shell integration it checks to see what shell you are using by reading the variable $SHELL, which is your accounts default shell, not necessarily the shell you are running.

Since my corporate Active Directory account sets my default shell to /bin/ksh (don’t ask, just don’t ask) this caused me a problem. In iTerm my default profile is set to run the command /bin/bash rather than my default shell. So to get shell integration installing properly I now set SHELL='/bin/bash' at the bottom of my bash profile.

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Ulysses As A Blogging Tool

So I’m now using Ulysses for writing. Not coding, for that I’m still with BBEdit, but writing text of any sort. It seems quite an attractive editor, it supports MarkDown and things seem to work well.

I’m writing this as a test of it as a blogging platform. Of course the first thing to do is see what text looks like when I export it to WordPress from within Ulysses. Here, for example is some emphasised texrt and here is some strong test Let’s try a list

  • We have the first item in an unordered list
  • Now we have the second

That was the whole list.

  1. An ordered list
  2. So can you pick up items and reorder them
  3. We will see

If you delete or reorder it doesn’t update the numbers in your document but it is correct on export.

So how about we throw in some code

Code block
That continues.
I don't like Ulysses needs a marker at the beginning of every code line.

Containers Rock! Why I’m A Docker Fan

Docker for the Macintosh has recently emerged from beta and I’m ecstatic.

Docker implements a way of walling off a piece of software from the underlying operating system using a tech they call “containers”.

This is an absolute godsend for deploying services. One of the problems in system administration is the cost and complexity of spinning up a new service and then removing it from a computer once it is no longer required.

Software when it is installed and run can spray pieces of itself all over the computer’s file system and getting it out again is difficult.

Previously we have used virtual machines to isolate this problem. That has it’s own costs, a virtual machine means you are running (at least) two complete operating systems on the hardware. It also has a cost in memory and hard disk space.

Containers lower the cost considerably. They have all the advantages of virtual machines but share the operating system kernel with each other and the underlying OS. This makes them smaller and consuming considerably less resources than virtual machines. This also makes them quicker to download and deploy.

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Happy Birthday To My Favourite OS

I thought the 15th birthday of my favourite operating system was the perfect time to look at why I love it so.

I do love OS X, I certainly think it is the pinnacle of operating systems. Don’t get me wrong, I know it has faults and I am more than happy to enumerate them given the chance. It is, however, the best available operating system at the moment, it has been for many years.

Alan Kay, the scientist who worked at Xerox PARC on the first GUI, called the Macintosh “the first computer worth criticising”. I’ve always thought of OS X as “the first OS worth criticising”. In case you’re wondering why Alan Kay, he’s one of my gods. Go read his Wikipedia page. Continue reading

Why Alex Is Wrong And What Are Apple’s real Software Problems

OK, that headline is a bit inflammatory and an insult to a perfectly good tech journalist but Alex Kidman here is the latest in a long line of commentators to take a swipe at Apple for the quality of its software. Unfortunately he grabs the wrong end of the clue stick.

I am not going to argue that there aren’t some things that Apple could do to improve software quality, indeed I will point out some of them before I conclude. What I would like to do is look at some of the reasons there are problems. I will also point out some of the things that won’t fix the problems and why. As I do I’ll show why Alex is partly wrong though partly correct at the core of his arguments.

First, software is hard. I started out my professional life as a programmer, mostly writing code for accounting software, most of the time in C. It is impossible for anyone who has not spent several years writing software to understand the complexity of what you do and the difficulties you find in proving it’s correct. Continue reading

Looking for work

Do you have a Macintosh fleet of 20 or more or a company full of iPhones and need some assistance? Then talk to me, I’m currently looking for work, either permanent or contract, in the Sydney area.

Who am I?
• Experienced Macintosh system administrator
• Experienced Macintosh support engineer
• Experienced IT Manager

What do I offer your company?
• Deep knowledge of Apple software
• Deep knowledge of Macintosh servers
• Extensive knowledge of Macintosh integration into Windows-centric systems
• Broad knowledge across multiple facets of Information Technology
• Quick learner and self-starter
• Capable of writing for both technical and lay audiences
• Informative and entertaining presenter/teacher

Check out my LinkedIn profile :- http://au.linkedin.com/in/honestpuck/