Thursday, February 26, 2009

How to find file type and file creator on Mac OS X

I have been asked to write an AppleScript that will check a file to see what type it is (Illustrator, Quark, etc), and add the extension related to it if one doesn't already exist. When that's finished and working I'll be sure to post it, but in the meantime I found a helpful utility that allows you to distinguish files by their file creator and file type codes assigned to them. It's called FileType, and is free to download. There are ways to read those file type and file creator codes in the AppleScript to decide what the file actually is, and which program was used to create it. It worked well for what I needed it for, so if you're after something to find the file creator and file type codes on you Mac files, FileType is what I'd recommend

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

FREE Adobe Illustrator and InDesign alternatives

After looking back at my previous post about a free Photoshop alternative, I realized I've never mentioned the Illustrator or InDesign equivalents. There are plenty of open-source options out there, but the two that I'd suggest are Inkscape (Illustrator) and Scribus (InDesign). Since they are free, there are a few extra installation steps involved, such as installing Ghostscript, but they seemed to work fine in the little time I used them. I really didn't have any need for them, but perhaps you might. It beats spending hundreds of dollars on the actual Adobe software if you're just looking for a vector graphics program, and a layout application

Show file extensions in Mac OS X and Windows

OS X and Windows both hide file extensions by default. However, if you're like me, you like being able to see them so you know what type of file you're working with, or to change them when you want. You can change either OS to show the file extensions using the following instructions:

In Mac OS X:
1. Open Finder
2. On the menu bar, go to Finder->Preferences
3. Go to Advanced
4. Check the box that says "Show all file extensions"

In Windows 2000, XP, and Vista
1. Open My Computer
2. On the menu bar, go to Tools->Folder Options ... (in Vista, if you don't see the Tools menu, press the Alt key)
3. Click on the View tab
4. In the Advanced settings section, uncheck the box that says "Hide extensions for known file types"
5. Click OK

Along those same lines, if you'd rather hide the file extensions, simply follow the same instructions but make sure the box to hide them is checked.

Now, if you're looking to have Mac OS X automatically check files and add the correct extension if they don't already have one, you may want to check out my other post

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Group Policy Management Console download for Server 2003

If you deal with group policy in a Windows environment, you definitely need to have the management console. It shows the GPOs in the same hierarchy as you're used to in Active Directory, which makes it easier to tell which GPO affects which OU. If you want to give it a try, or just find out more, you can download it from Microsoft at

Friday, February 13, 2009

Accessing Mac OS X or Linux shares with Windows Vista

When Vista was first introduced into the environment I manage, we had an issue with it connecting to a shared drive on a Mac OS X. I did some digging and found that it has to do with a change to a default setting in the local security policy on the Vista computer. Vista defaults to using only NTLMv2 for LAN Manager authentication, which is not supported in OS X (at least not 10.4, which is what we have). In order to enable sharing from a OS X 10.4 server to a Windows Vista machine, you must change the setting on the Vista machine.

1. Go to your Start menu, then into Control Panel
2. Change to classic view (upper left) if you haven't already, then select Administrative Tools
3. Open Local Security Policy
4. Navigate to Local Policies->Security Options
5. Scroll down towards the bottom, looking for the Network Security section
6. Double-click on the entry for "Network Security: LAN Manager authentication level", which should be set by default on "Send NTLMv2 response only"
7. Change the setting to "Send LM & NTLM - use NTLMv2 session security if negotiated" and click Ok
8. Close the Local Security Policy editor, and also the control panel

Now try connecting to the Mac OS X share again and you shouldn't have any problems. We have a Red Hat Linux server as well and had no issues with the share on that, however, since OS X and Linux are so similar I added Linux to the title of this post because I'm sure some flavors have the same issue. This should solve your problem with accessing the files and now you're free to do what you were going to

UPDATE 3/4/2009 - I had a user show up today and need access to a Mac share from a Vista laptop, and I found out that Vista Home versions do not come with the Local Security Policy editor. In order to make the necessary change on Vista Home, you must change the registry. You can do so by going to Start->Run, and then typing "regedit" and pressing Enter. Be aware that the registry is vital to the computer, so it is not recommended to directly edit it like this unless you're confident that you know what you're doing. Once in the Registry Editor, you need to navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE->System->CurrentControlSet->Control->LSA. In there you should see a key called "LmCompatibilityLevel". That is what you need to change. Double-click on it to bring up the edit box. It should have a default value of 3, which corresponds to using "NTLMv2 authentication only". Change that value to 1, which corresponds to "Send LM & NTLM - use NTLMv2 session security if negotiated" and is what you need to use. Valid values are 0-3, and I originally found that in a Microsoft KB article, but I can't find the page anymore so you'll have to either take my word for it or try to dig it up yourself. If you do happen to find it, please comment back so I can add it to this post.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

173.8 IP address problems, getting blocked

I published a post for checking your website ping from various locations around the world, and mentioned having problems with the Great Firewall of China. Well, as it turns out, I'm still having issues now probably close to a month later. My ISP practically refuses to do anything to fix the issue, saying it's my problem and I need to contact whoever I think is blocking my traffic. Not to mention my ISP's name (*cough... Comcast... *cough*), but c'mon!? Seriously!? I am supposed to figure out why my network traffic works everywhere I can find to test, other than locations in Hong Kong? And then after I provide traceroute logs and possible explanations, I'm supposed to contact other ISPs around the world to figure out why it seems like they are blocking traffic coming from a block of IPs that I was just assigned? I don't know about you reading this, but from my perspective it sounds like I should be sending Comcast a consulting bill for solving routing issues with traffic from their network. I just wish Qwest would hurry up with their fiber optic network and get it out to our office because until then, I'm stuck with Comcast. Anyway... 

So now that I have that in a post and it will hopefully become searchable in search engines soon, now there's at least one record on the Net of someone having the issue. Please leave a comment if you're experiencing the same type of problem with IP addresses, especially if they are in the 173.8.XXX.XXX range. The latest that I've come up with is that their is a routing issue at an ISP in Germany called Deutsche Telekom. I found that by doing a reverse IP lookup using IP addresses from my traceroute records at the spot where my traffic appeared to be dropping. 

They're now looking into the issue, but I still don't see why I should be dealing with this at all. I wish I had a good analogy for it, but I haven't been able to come up with one yet. The best I have is that it's like getting a new phone line from the phone company and being able to call your parents, brother, sister, but not your Grandma's house. You try it on your cell and it works fine. When you call to ask why the call isn't going through the phone company tells you that they don't know and it's not their responsibility to make sure you can call your Grandma with their service, so you'll have to call every other phone company along the way to make sure that the call is making it through their phone systems and on to the next. I'm pretty sure the next step after all of this if these other ISPs can't figure out why it won't go through is for me to follow the line out of the building, then just keep following it until I show up in Hong Kong.

Sorry for the ranting, but I feel this needs to be posted because I know the techs that I talked to looked to Google first and saw no results and assumed I had something setup incorrectly. Hopefully they'll find this article the next time someone has the issue and will realize it their problem.

Update #1, 2/13/09: After dealing with Deutsche Telekom for a few days, they have said that they've verified the traffic is getting through their network and being passed to the Hutchinson Global network in China. It looks like the problem is still happening there, so I'm back to trying to get around the Great Firewall of China. If only I could get the Hutchinson/HGC support team to respond to an email. 3 weeks, 4 emails, and 4 different email addresses each time, but still no response...

Update #2, 2/17/09: I finally received an email response from Hutchinson Global Communications on Sunday night. They asked for some information, which I provided, and then proceeded to tell me that I should talk to Comcast because they were not blocking the traffic. That left me stuck, but to my surprise when I arrived at work Monday morning everything was working. It only took 4 weeks, but it's finally solved. It appears as if HGC was blocking my traffic, and then lied about it but removed the block. Both locations I have are able to connect now. After a complaint to Comcast I was credited for the month as well. I almost feel as if I should send them a bill from me which would be for a lot more, but at this point I'm just glad that it's over with. For anyone else that happens to run across this post looking for a quick solution as to how to get your traffic unblocked, all I can say is good luck!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Fixing Quark installation error 1008:5,-5000 in Mac OS X

I was trying to upgrade Quark 6.1 to 6.5 on an iMac, but kept getting an access denied error coded as 1008:5,-5000. At first I thought it had to do with the Open Directory account I was using, but after it did it while I was logged in as a local admin it was time to do some research. What I found was that you could enable the "root" user account, then install with that. I did it and it worked fine. If you're not familiar with the root account, it is essentially a master administrator account used in Linux/Unix/Mac machines. It is disabled by default, so before you can log in as root, you'll need to enable the account first.

If you're using OS X 10.4, here's how you can enable the root user. For any other versions of OS X, check the Apple KB article below.

1. Go to Applications->Utilities->Netinfo Manager
2. In the Security menu across the top, select "Enable Root User"
3. Pick a secure password and enter it when asked

That's really all there is to it. Now you'll have to log out and then log back in as root, but after you do that you should have free reign on the Quark install, or any other one for that matter

Thursday, February 5, 2009

HP printer installation problems, asking for HPBMIAPI.dll

I went through the install process of a standard HP Laserjet printer today on a server, pointed it to the driver files, but then it would ask me for HPBMIAPI.dll which had nothing to do with the drivers. I did a quick search and found that the file should be located in the system32 directory (C:\Windows\system32\HPBMIAPI.dll). I browsed to that location and sure enough the file was there. I used that during the install and things completed like they should  have in the first place.

In my search for a solution, I ran across this post in the HP support forums. It looks like there can be a few other issues to cause this error as well. One of the other solutions provided is to manually register the .dll file to make sure it is loaded. You can do that in the command prompt with the command "regsvr32 C:\WINDOWS\system32\HPBMIAPI.dll". It's another option if my solution above doesn't fix it, or if you're having a slightly different issue, which is what's going on in the support forum post. I had no errors, it was just that when I got to the end of the install, it asked for the install CD or the files, then it came back again looking for HPBMIAPI.dll. If I tried to skip it, the install failed and I had to start over. Anyway, hopefully this helps some of you

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Uninstall Symantec or Norton from Mac OS X

There is a downloadable utility to do this for you, direct from Symantec. You can find their article about it here: I just used it and it worked like it should and was not difficult to use. There are also other links on that page for uninstalling various versions of Symantec/Norton without using the utility. It's definitely useful though. I've gone through manual deletion of antivirus software before and it's not very fun to have to do.