Category Archives: MacOS

File Commander for Mac – FastCommander

Earlier today I saw something quite frightening–a messy desktop on a Mac. The thought of clicking and dragging a few hundred documents and folders to their appropriate location gave me chills. But what to do? I immediately looked to my gold standard solution–some kind of File Commander for Mac.

Midnight Commander

I’ve grown accustomed to using Midnight Commander on GNU/Linux machines when handling more than 10 files/folders, that I can’t imagine having to click-n-drag. Unfortunately, I needed something a bit more GUI for my end user’s machine.

While I looked for various solutions, including revisiting an old favorite–muCommander, which works on Windows and Linux but not Mac OS 10 Yosemite anymore apparently–I ended up investing in Fast Commander, which cost less than $6 (I’ll forego a donut and coffee later this week).

Works like a charm!


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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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Resurrecting Old Macs with GNU/Linux #txed #txeduchat

Wondering what to do in your school district with old Intel Macs that can’t be upgraded to Mac OS 10.9? I recently shared my thoughts on this in this email, but realize that older Intel Macs can be loaded with Linux and disposed of…more on that in a moment.

For now, here’s the email:

Thank you for your attention to this email.

This email reviews Mac OS 10.9 Maverick free upgrade for Macs and addresses which Macs are obsolete. As a result of Apple’s release of OS 10.9 Maverick, and testing conducted by EC Technology Operations since that release, please be aware that all white MacBooks—with the exception of the few in-district white 2009 Macbook Model #A1342—remain obsolete.  

WHAT DOES OBSOLETE MEAN?Obsolete means that these Mac computers, while being able to get on the Internet and network, will be unable to securely access Internet web sites and may increasingly have problems connecting. Most Macs will still be able to run software purchased for them but be aware that Internet Browsers should NOT be trusted for confidential internet transactions, mission-critical data, and hacking may result. This is because internet browsers on these obsolete Macintosh computers are no longer supported by Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari, and/or Mozilla Firefox browsers. 

Obsolete Macintosh computers can provisionally connect to wired network connections, but there may be issues with wireless connections at BYOT campuses. As such, if you must print or connect to the Internet with an obsolete MacIntosh, please be aware of this problem. Simply, it may work, or not, depending on the particular obsolete piece of equipment in question. 

ABOUT MAC OS 10.9 RELEASEAs you know, Apple released Macintosh OS 10.9 Maverick on October 22, 2013. As you may not know, OS 10.9 Maverick is a free operating system upgrade for Macintosh computers that are able to run it. Not all Macs are able to and the minimum requirements appear below:
To install Mavericks, you need one of these Macs:

  • iMac (Mid-2007 or later)
  • MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008), 
  • White Macbook (13-inch, Early 2009 or later) – Flip the Mac over and you can see the Model# A1342 in small print.
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later),
  • MacBook Pro (15-inch or 17-inch, Mid/Late 2007 or later)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)

Your Mac also needs:

  • OS X Mountain Lion, Lion, or Snow Leopard v10.6.8 already installed
  • 2 GB or more of memory (RAM)
  • 8 GB or more of available space (Hard Drive)


WHY MUST MACS BE UPGRADED TO OS 10.9 MAVERICK?The reason why is that Mac OS 10.9 is the latest supported operating system, features currently supported Internet browsers and the latest plug-ins, and eliminates problems that Mac OS 10.6-10.8 experienced. 

WHEN WILL MACS THAT CAN BE UPGRADED BE MOVED TO OS 10.9 MAVERICK?Macs that can be upgraded to OS 10.9 will be upgraded over the next 2 months (December, 2013-January, 2014). Please note that some programs (e.g. AppleWorks, which was discontinued in 2007) that worked on OS 10.6 will NOT work on OS10.9 

WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH THE OTHER MACS?Please work with the Technology Office to evaluate what possible uses old Macs can be put to. 

SO WHAT WORKS?The general rule of thumb is that “white” Macs—with the exception of Model A1342–are obsolete, while “silver” Macs can usually be upgraded to Mac OS 10.9 Maverick. When considering Macs in classroom and carts, please be sensitive to these requirements. 
Thank you for your consideration of this information. 

REDISTRIBUTING SCHOOL TECH TO STUDENTS
So, now that you have a whole bunch of Intel Macs that can’t be upgraded to Mac OS 10.9, what to do? One possibility in Texas school districts is to load them up with GNU/Linux and then re-distribute them to students with an educational need

Several school districts already have existing programs in place that you can explore. William Mansfield (Overton ISD) has his own blend of Linux, as does Jim Klein’s Ubermix mentioned below.

Weslaco ISD’s Jeff Harris describes their program in this way:

In coordination with our Parental Involvement Office, we created a program called Computers4Kids.  Surplus computers are loaned to students for up to five years, or until they withdraw/graduate, whichever comes first.  The computers are cleaned up by Parental volunteers, imaged, provided with a new keyboard, mouse, mouse pad, USB Key, speakers and surge strip.  We load a software pack (about $20) that includes a version of Open Office, as well as some educational software.  Students submit applications for computers and are selected based on educational need and socio-economic status.

Before they get the computer, the student and a parent/guardian a have to attend a training session with the Parental staff where they go over how to set up the computer, the software being provided, and how to address problems.  When there is a problem with a computer, the parent brings the computer to the Parental Involvement Department and they re-image it.  If it can’t be re-imaged, they issue a replacement and put in a work order for the non-working one.  Our technicians assess to determine if it is worth fixing.

The program has been in place since 2005 and seems to work well.


LOADING LINUX ON OLD MACS
If you decide to load GNU/Linux on machines issued to students, you can avoid the $20 expense. Simply, you can take a Windows CPU and make it available to students. They can purchase a flat-screen monitor (about $69), keyboard/mouse quite inexpensively (approx ), or funding can be sought from PTAs to fund those.
For all-in-one Macintosh units, that’s even less of an issue. Simply load GNU/Linux distribution of choice and you’re ready to go!
ubermix.org


The ubermix is an all-free, specially built, Linux-based operating system designed from the ground up with the needs of education in mind. Built by educators with an eye towards student and teacher empowerment, ubermix takes all the complexity out of student devices by making them as reliable and easy-to-use as a cell phone, without sacrificing the power and capabilities of a full operating system. 

With a turn-key, 5 minute installation, 20 second quick recovery mechanism, and more than 60 free applications pre-installed, ubermix turns whatever hardware you have into a powerful device for learning.

The main benefits of running Linux on these Macs, as I have found from personal experience loading PeppermintOS.com Linux on my own 2007 Macbook, include the following:
  • Ability to run current web browsers that are compatible with GoogleApps
  • Revitalizing old machine, usually resulting in a noticeable speed boost since the old Mac OS is often sluggish by comparison
  • Latest and greatest security in the browser enable you to use this computer for safe computing
  • Compatibility with a wide range of peripherals (e.g. scanners, printers). In fact, one of my main reasons for loading Linux on a Mac was because I wanted to hook up an $60 HP scanner I picked up at Walmart years ago…no drivers available for Mac OS at the time, but it works flawlessly with SimpleScan (or XSANE back then), a program for scanning on GNU/Linux.
  • Linux runs 64-bit or 32-bit (your choice)
On my Macbook, I’m not even running Mac OS anymore…at all. I simply have loaded Linux on the whole hard drive and it works flawlessly.


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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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Dual Booting Linux Mint and Mac OS 10.9 Maverick

Prior to this week, OS 10.7/10.8 had co-existed with Linux Mint partition on a Macbook Air without incident. I was using rEFit project to dual boot to Linux and Mac, successfully. Unfortunately, when I upgraded to Macintosh OS 10.9 Maverick, my dual boot stopped working.

Although the Mac OS 10.9 was coming up without issue, Linux Mint wouldn’t let me in. I’d get an error that would leave me at the grub line 😉

To fix the problem, I switched to rEFind Boot Manager. On the Mac OS X side, I ran ./install.sh at the command line (in Terminal app), but this didn’t fix anything. To get it to work, I had to install with this option:

sudo ./install.sh –alldrivers

The –alldrivers option made it work. Whew! By looking at the image at the top of this blog post, you can see that I had simply to choose the Ubuntu Logo (selected) and voila, it worked!

Thanks to the rEFind developer for the great documentation and work!


Check out Miguel’s Workshop Materials online at http://mglearns.wikispaces.com


Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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Quintet of Desktop Computer Tools

A truly amazing quintet of free, open source software tools that work on Linux, Mac and Windows:

With our software you can download from YouTube, convert YouTube or other Video to MP3, make slideshows, download Instagram images and much more! All our applications are cross-platform, open source and mostly free. Download and try out our apps on your PC, Mac or Linux machine, you won’t regret it!

Get these tools online at http://www.4kdownload.com/

The tool that catches my eye is the SlideShow Maker:

4K Slidshow Maker is a straightforward and easy-to-use app to create slideshows. Just add your favourite photos from Instagram or from your own computer, select the music and then apply gorgeous effects and transitions. . .Save your slideshow in the highest quality for your iPhone or share it on Facebook.

Great for special event slideshows, etc.
🙂


Check out Miguel’s Workshop Materials online at http://mglearns.wikispaces.com


Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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BYOT Your Way to Success @haikudeck

The following Haiku Deck was created with the web version of Haiku Deck! I made up the BYOT slides from the top of my head. I hope that it is OK to share that this was made with the web version of one of my top 5 iPad apps, NOT the iPad app itself. Very nice interface and easy to use!

Here’s the disclaimer that I hope this blog entry is not running afoul of:

As much as we’d love for you to spread the word and get others excited about Haiku Deck, we also ask that you keep the specifics of what you’re testing confidential during the testing period. Please do not take or post screenshots, or share specifics, with others (including bloggers or the media).

Did I mention how delighted I am that Haiku Deck’s web version works so very much like the iPad version as to be indistinguishable?!?

http://www.haikudeck.com/e/bJEa2rUGsN/?isUrlHashEnabled=false&isPreviewEnabled=false&isHeaderVisible=false

Ok, a slight glitch: BYOT Tip #2 is missing…it looks like this:


Check out Miguel’s Workshop Materials online at http://mglearns.wikispaces.com


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Open Source Encryption Tools to Protect #Privacy #nsa (Updated 11/18/2014)

I was totally unprepared for today’s bombshell revelations describing the NSA’s efforts to defeat encryption. Not only does the worst possible hypothetical I discussed appear to be true, but it’s true on a scale I couldn’t even imagine. I’m no longer the crank. I wasn’t even close to cranky enough.Source: On the NSA

For all my fellow cranks out there, a concise list of my free open source software (FOSS) favorites. All these solutions take advantage of AES-256 encryption. 

Here is what you will find in this blog entry:

  1. Encrypted Email and Encryption Tools
  2. Encrypt Your Files and/or Folders, and/or external USB drives
  3. Security and Encryption in Your Internet Browser
  4. Mobile Phone Apps

At the end of each section, I share my recommendation.

1. Encrypted Email & Encryption Tools

  • Non-US-based Encrypted email service providers:
  • Email client with PGP/GPG Support:
  • For encrypting email messages:
  • Recommendation: For end to end encrypted email, I use Tutanota.de currently, but I would also use Fourmilab’s encryption AES-256 algorithm to encrypt email content (metadata is still exposed).


        2. Encrypt Your Files/Folders

          • Use TAILS Disk Utilities to create encrypted USB External Drives; read this tutorial
          • Minilock – From their web site: “miniLock uses your email and secret passphrase to generate a miniLock ID. miniLock IDs are small and easy to share online — anyone can use your ID to encrypt files to you, and you can encrypt files to friends using their miniLock IDs.” It is quite easy to use, even on a Chromebook.
          • Secure Space Encryptor (SSE) tool (lets you encrypt folders of files into one). Runs on Win/Mac/Linux. Watch this video.
          • AESCrypt.com (encrypts file by file, available for Win/Mac/Linux)
          • Axantum AxCrypt (open source) – works great on Windows, not so much on other platforms (unless you’re using WINE)
        • For passwords security: 
          • KeepassX and never save your Keepassx file on Dropbox or anywhere in cloud. 
        • For encrypted chat/messaging sessions (good luck with this…encrypt your text on top of this):
        • Share top secret files (encrypt them) via the Web using…
          • OnionShare. Here is some more info about it: OnionShare lets you securely and anonymously share a file of any size with someone.
          • BitTorrent Sync

          Recommendation: TAILS is my new friend for encrypted content, and I often use the Disk Utility to encrypt external USB drives now that Truecrypt is defunct. I also use Keepassx to track my passwords. I wish more educators would take advantage of these tools since that would help prevent data breaches of student/staff personally identifiable information!


          3. Security & Encryption in Your Internet Browser

            • TAILS – This is the way to go and works great. Read the Linux Journal for getting started guide, although TAILS Documentation is easy to follow. This is a very nice package for encrypting everything and also supports encrypted USB external drives.
            • Use Tor Browser Project (the 2.4 version, not 2.3) to protect your location; it comes with HTTPS Everywhere
            • Browser add-ons:
              1. AdBlock for Firefox/Chrome – Blocks banners, pop-ups and video ads – even on Facebook and YouTube and Protects your online privacy
              2. Facebook Privacy List for Adblock Plus – Enhances AdBlock Plus.
              3. Facebook Disconnect for Chrome and Firefox – Facebook is notified whenever you visit one of the more than one million sites on the web that use Facebook Connect and has a history of leaking personally-identifiable information to third parties. This turns off data flow.
              4. Priv3 for Firefox – The Priv3 Firefox extension lets you remain logged in to the social networking sites you use and still browse the web, knowing that those third-party sites only learn where you go on the web when you want them to. 
              5. Ghostery – Ghostery looks for third-party page elements (or “trackers”) on the web pages you visit and notifies you that these things are present, and which companies operate them. If you wish, choose to block the trackers they operate.
              6. Do Not Track Plus, and for fun,
              7. HTTPS Everywhere
            Recommendation: Use TAILS if you must be encrypted. Otherwise, adding all this stuff to your browser of choice will be a pain.

            4. Mobile Phone Apps
            1. Telegram – Works on iOS and Android to send end-to-end encrypted SMS. Offers text, image and voice messages that are encrypted if you use their encrypted chat option.
            2. Wickr – https://www.mywickr.com/en/index.php
              Great for text, voice messages that are encrypted and protected.
            3. Threema ($1.99) – Works on iOS and Android to send end-to-end encrypted SMS
            4. RedPhone – https://whispersystems.org/
              Encrypted calls on Android phones.
            5. Finally, if you really want to attempt security from the operating system up, give Replicant OS for Android phones a try.

            Recommendation: Of these messaging apps, I’m using the free open source and no-cost Telegram. Works great! As to Replicant OS, I’m not so sure and given my current phone so I can’t switch to that.


            Check out Miguel’s Workshop Materials online at http://mglearns.wikispaces.com


            Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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            Encryption Fun for SAT on Peppermint Four @peppermintos

            KGPG – http://www.kde.org/applications/utilities/kgpg/


            “Miguel,” shared a secretary, “We need to be able to get copies of SAT scores electronically but it requires PGP encryption. Can we do that?” The reason she was asking was because of this web page:

            SAT Internet Score Delivery provides secure and easy transmission of SAT scoresto your institution. It is the fastest delivery method for receiving student records and eliminates the need for paper or CD-ROM delivery…With Internet Score Delivery, electronic score data:

            • Can be downloaded to any computer that has the appropriate security encryption software (PGP®)

            One of the points that is made on the web page is:

            • If you don’t already have the necessary PGP encryption software installed, you need to purchase it from Symantec Corporation for approximately $100 to $200…PGP encryption software version 2.6.2 or higher that can generate a 1024-byte RSA key—we recommend the desktop package that includes PGP Perpetual License with software insurance

            Curious, huh? $100-$200 for the software. But if you have access to free open source tools, you can eliminate the cost. Consider the following information from Symantec:

            The encryption solutions for email allow simple, seamless integration with partners’ existing stadards-based email encryption solutions such as OpenPGP and S/MIME.

            OpenPGP…that makes it easy to use free, open source tools like the following to get the job done:

            1. On Mac, GPGTools.
            2. On Windows, Gpg4win (includes a nice tutorial)
            3. On GNU/Linux, kgpg (my preference for a GUI enabled gpg)

            Since I run Peppermint Four Linux OS on all my machines, I decided to install kgpg with the command:

            sudo apt-get install kgpg

            Approximately 289 megs later, I was ready to go. I created a private/public encryption key using my project email address, and that was it. I suspect that this key will work with the Collegeboard folks, but…I won’t get a chance to try it due to the 28 day time limit (data get’s purged after that).

            Has anyone out there actually used OpenPGP in combination with Collegeboard SAT scores encrypted download?


            Check out Miguel’s Workshop Materials online at http://mglearns.wikispaces.com


            Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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