Category Archives: Software Tips

OS X Mavericks is free, yes. But please look before you leap !

First and foremost, ensure that your Mac is compatible. You’ll want to have enough RAM (not just the minimum 2 GB, far better to go with more if you can), and ideally (we recomend) at least a 7200 RPM hard drive, better still – ideally – an SSD drive for the best responsiveness.

The listed requirements are as follows (see ):
OS X v10.6.8 or later, 2GB of memory , 8GB of available space
You’ll need an Apple ID if you don’t already have one (and you probably do if you’re using iTunes), see

The compatible hardware/model list is:
iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
Xserve (Early 2009)”

Please – whatever you do – make sure you have a known-good, full backup (via Time Machine or your other backup method of choice) before you do anything.

It’s a good idea to read a little more about it, and Macworld has a great writeup here:

How to install WordPress on Mountain Lion server, and migrate your WordPress setup from your old OS X Server install

Geting WordPress working on your Mountain Lion Server, or “This one goes to eleven”¬† ūüėČ

The first thing I’d like to make clear is that I’m not trying to tell you every last detail you’ll need to know. The scope of the instructions I do provide covers the key parts of the process, circumscribed by:
1) A working install of WordPress (and associated MySQL database) on an existing OS X Server,
2) An existing working install of 10.8 server and (working) website hosted on it.

If you have some background with OS X Server, and a modicum of experience (and comfort) working via the Terminal (“the command-line”), this isn’t particularly difficult at all. Rather, the process requires a number of very specific, correctly executed steps. It’s actually quite straightforward if you proceed with patience and precision, and in an orderly fashion.

You should have have already successfully installed WordPress on an existing instance of Mac OS X (client or Server) and configured your MySQL database appropriately for your WordPress install.
As such, you do need to already be at least somewhat comfortable working in the command-line (via the Terminal).

And now you want to hear about someone else’s success (mine) getting a WordPress site running on Mac OS X 10.8 server.
In my case, I was migrating from 10.6.8 server.

There are eleven main steps in this process. Why didn’t I make it ten ? Actually, it worked out that way as I was writing this post. I’ll take the opportunity to reference the much-loved and (and oft-quoted by me) line from the filme This is Spinal Tap, “These go to eleven“:

1. Backup of the WordPress files
2. Exporting your existing MySQL database for WordPress
3. Transfer the above files from your old server to your new one
4. Decompress and migrate the WordPress backup to the appropriate location on your new server
5. Install MySQL on your 10.8 server
6. Set up a new (empty) WordPress database in MySQL and restore your prior database backup (sql dump)
7. Download and install the latest stable version of WordPress
8. Configure your webserver & restore your WordPress config and content to the new WordPress install within your (web)site directory
9. Additional MySQL items
10. In, under Websites, click to “Enable PHP web applications”
11. Test and ensure that everything is working.

Postscript: Additional miscellany
Success !

Step One:
On your existing server, backup your WordPress installation. This is typically
going to be within your (web)site directory, in 10.6 Server this is
where <yoursite> is the name of the folder where your existing website files are housed.

cd /Library/WebServer/Documents/yoursite
sudo tar -czvf ~/WP_Content_backup_$(date +%Y%m%d).tar.gz <yourWordpressDirectory>

for example:
cd  /Library/WebServer/Documents/yoursite
sudo tar -czvf ~/WP_Content_backup_$(date +%Y%m%d).tar.gz wordpress

The above will put the backup (eg, WP_Content_backup_20121208.tar.gz) in your home directory,
which will be the home directory of the user you logged in as, via the Terminal.

Step Two:
Export your existing MySQL database for WordPress.
mysqldump --user=root --password=<pass-here> your_Wordpress_databasename | gzip -c > ~/WP_DB_backup_$(date +%Y%m%d).sql.gz
So the case of my example, the resulting filename would be WP_DB_backup_20121208.sql.gz

Step Three:
Next you’ll want to migrate both of those backup items to your new server.
I used ssh to work with either server, and scp to copy the files.
You can read up on that if you need to, but as an example,
once you’ve connected to the Mountain Lion server via ssh, run the following:

scp username@oldhost:WP_Content_backup_20121208.tar.gz .
scp username@oldhost:WP_DB_backup_20121208.sql.gz .

“oldhost” could be the old server’s IP address or hostname.

Leave the WordPress DB backup for now.

Step Four
Decompress the wordpress content from your former server:

sudo tar -xzvf WP_Content_backup_20121208.tar.gz

Leave the resulting “wordpress” directory where it is for now.

Step 5
Install MySQL from

Download MySQL from

It should be the fourth listing there, “Mac OS X ver. 10.6 (x86, 64-bit), DMG Archive”
I do recommend that you also download the signature and verify your download with gpg.
That’s another topic entirely, but see

Always secure your mysql installation, which you can do with the command below,
which will also ask you to create a (MySQL) root password.
Make sure you record this securely, and please don’t confuse the MySQL root user with your/the
system “root” user.

cd /usr/local/mysql

Step 6
Set up the MySQL DB for your WordPress installation:

Create an empty database for your WordPress database (db):

/usr/local/mysql/bin/mysql -u root -p

(Presuming that your database name is wordpress.db – when you’re at the mysql prompt):
grant all on wordpress_db.* to your_wordpress_username@localhost identified by 'password for your wordpress user here';

Do note that your wordpress username and password will need to be the same as they were originally,
in order to line up with your wordpress config (see the next item).

Restore your backed up WordPress MySQL database via:
mysql -u username root -p -h localhost DATA-BASE-NAME < WP_DB_backup_<DATE>.sql
mysql -u username root -p -h localhost DATA-BASE-NAME < WP_DB_backup_20121208.sql

Step 7
Download and install the current version of WordPress:

Download from
and see

Step 8
Configure your webserver & restore your WordPress config and content-directory within your (web)site directory:

After installing WordPress, restore wp-config.php from your decompressed directory of your old WordPress install, or edit the stock config at
to match your database name and db username and password that you set up above. See
Then restore your former WordPress content to the new WordPress installation:

cd ~
mv wordpress/wp-content /Library/Server/Web/Data/Sites/yoursitename/wordpress/

Step 9
Additional MySQL setup steps:

Ensure that your mysql socket config lines up with what PHP is expecting.
Namely, /var/mysql/mysql.sock

From the MySQL install, copy my-dedium.cnf to /etc:
cp <path to MySQL files>/support-files/my-medium.cnf /etc/my.cnf

If you’re not sure where the support-files are (or don’t seem to have them), you can download the tar.gz version of MySQL from

Look for the first item listed there, “Mac OS X ver. 10.6 (x86, 64-bit), Compressed TAR Archive”

Edit /etc/my.cnf to change the socket location (I strongly suggest you use vim or even nano and not a GUI editor):

Look for
socket          = /tmp/mysql.sock

and change it to:

socket          = /var/mysql/mysql.sock

Change the permissions for the directory in question:

sudo chown -R _mysql /var/mysql

Restart MySQL:

sudo SystemStarter restart MySQL

Ensure that you can connect to MySQL as your wordpress database user:
/usr/local/mysql/bin/mysql -u <wordpress_db_user> -p

This is the user you configured originally for your MySQL wordpress database and when prompted give the associated password
password for that user.
You should be presented with the mysql prompt:

rather than any error message(s).

Exit mysql with:
(and press return).

Step 10
Enabling PHP –
Simple enough: In, under Websites, click to “Enable PHP web applications”

Step 11
Test that everything is working.

That’s it !¬† ūüôā

Postscript – Additional miscellany:
If something isn’t working, check your logs. This is easy enough to do via the utility.
The most common cause of problems will be missing a step above, or incorrect permissions.
Both are easy to correct. Don’t panic, and get this working on a non-critical server first to ensure you’re
able to get it working.

If you run into an issue where your wordpress site appears to load but nothing actually appears,
verify the permissions for the wordpress directory in question,
and remove any extraneous ACLs if there are any.

I also recommend that you install some WordPress extensions to help protect your WordPress installation & server. Look into Login LockDown, Secure WordPress, and WordPress Firewall.

Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac showing two (double) menu-bar icons

For those of you using a Mac but not yet running Anti-Virus software, at this stage in the game it’s a good idea. And Sophos offers a free (for home-use) version of their product for the Mac:

We recommend Sophos for Mac as it’s effective and light-weight. We implemented (the paid version) of Sophos for a client & it successfully identified and disinfected some Word files infected with a (PC) Macro-virus, while leaving the files themselves intact and fully usable.

I’ve been using Sophos for Mac at home without a hitch – until recently, that is. After an update to 10.7.4 and required reboot, the Sophos menu-bar icon was showing up double – ie, listed twice.

I navigated to my account’s Library folder and within that, the Preferences folder,
removed com.sophos.ui.plist
In my haste, I also set aside (moved to the Trash) com.sophos.sav.plist but this was probably not necessary.
Try it if removing only the com.sophos.ui.plist pref file doesn’t solve this for you.

and then used the Terminal to issue:
sudo killall -HUP SophosUIServer

when asked, you will need to be logged in as an administrator (or know how to “su” to one in the Terminal)
and the password asked for will be your existing, usual login password (for the Admin account you’re logged in with).

And the problem was solved without needing a reboot.

Symantec AntiVirus LiveUpdate – “There was an error performing the update”

Symantec Antivirus (for the Mac) LiveUpdate fails with an alert stating, “There was an error performing the update”

This occurred on a Mac OS X client workstation running Symantec AntiVirus for Mac – the Enterprise product version, not the consumer-oriented Norton AntiVirus for Mac – when attempting to run LiveUpdate.

In order to see a more helpful error message, you’d need to know to look at
/Library/Application Support/Symantec/LiveUpdate/liveupdt.log
where you’ll find the more descriptive:
"verifyCertPath():  objCertJ.buildCertPath failed to get cert path."

When I saw the above error message, it occurred to me right away that communication between the Symantec client and their servers was failing.Perhaps I might need to update a certificate by manually installing it ? The fix is easier, in fact. Update the Symantec LiveUpdate itself, which is a 4.6 MB .dmg file.

See Symantec’s article here:

If you are managing your Macs centrally with Apple Remote Desktop (aka “ARD”), you can use “Send Unix command‚Ķ”
to verify the LiveUpdate version on the client workstations using the following:

defaults read /Applications/Symantec\ Solutions/ CFBundleGetInfoString

Using ARD, you can centrally push/distribute the updated LiveUpdate by mounting the .dmg download from Symantec, and using the package installer within.
After that, use the following command to get the client workstations to update. I suggest updating everything, rather than just (virus) definitions:

/Applications/Symantec\ Solutions/ -liveupdatequiet YES -liveupdateautoquit YES -update LUal

The command to update definitions only is:

/Applications/Symantec\ Solutions/ -liveupdatequiet YES -liveupdateautoquit YES -update LUdf

You can monitor some information about the update process by watching the log file (via ssh access, for example):

tail -f /Library/Application Support/Symantec/LiveUpdate/liveupdt.log

Please note that after repairing the problem (updating applying the LiveUpdate package/updating LiveUpdate itself), the update process can take a very long time ! Just let it do its thing.

Note that this problem can also occur on a Windows client where – for example -you might be trying to run LiveUpdate from a batch file or other script. See:

Note that the specific error message is the same (“verifyCertPath():¬† objCertJ.buildCertPath failed to get cert path”)

The most likely cause of this problem on either platform (Mac or Windows) is that the software is installed without then updating all components right away. And/or updating only virus definitions over a long period of time, without updating the program components – the the extent that the client falls too far out of date to communicate with the update server(s) correctly.

Malware for Mac OS X and security concerns for any PC user

Please note: If you use a PC (Personal Computer) – be it an Apple running Mac OS X or a Windows-based computer, and you live in the Pioneer Valley or Western MA and have reason to believe your computer is compromised (be it Mac OS X malware or a Windows virus or malware), please contact us to make an appointment to have your computer checked by our techs

 Update, 9/27/2011, 1:30 PM: Apple has updated their XProtect mechanism to cover the PDF exploit. See

There are two new security concerns worthy of note for Apple’s Mac OS X, which may come as a surprise to some, but really shouldn’t.

First, it’s important to understand that no operating system is invulnerable, including Mac OS X.
There are in fact a growing number of pieces of malware targeting Mac OS X: Malicious software in the form of “Trojans”, ie: items that appear to be harmless while posing as something they’re not, and if installed, can put in place software that you don’t want that can take up resources and cause unapproved (and undesirable) changes to your computer’s operating system. This has been seen previously in the form of malware for Mac OS X posing as a installer for various kinds of software, some of which frankly would have to have been obtained illegally and that may still be floating about P2P (peer-to-peer) networks and dark corners of the Internet (websites that one should know full well are not trustworthy sources of software).

Two more recent items of concern are (very) recent malware (“Trojans”) that you should know about,
if you don’t already: A fake Flash installer, and a malicious PDF file. More information about them
is given a little further below.

You may be wondering what you can and should do to help keep your computer safe from malware.
Whether you’re using a Mac or a PC, one very good step you can take, is to create a non-administrator account and log in to that account for your everyday use. In OS X it’s easy enough to authenticate as a non-admin with the credentials of your admin account (username and password),and by running under a limited account, you can help to limit the damage that malware can accomplish.

However, migrating your data properly from an existing admin account to a non-admin account is beyond the scope of this post. Also, be advised that some software is written with the assumption that you are running as/under and administrator account, and – if not – either won’t install, or won’t run properly in part or in whole.

Another important security practice you should take – and I wish Apple would set as the default – is to disable
Safari’s ‘Open “safe” files after downloading’: Launch Safari and open Safari’s Preferences settings from the Safari menu, and in the first section, un-check the option at the bottom to Open “Safe” files after downloading.

Disable Safe downloads in the Safari preferences settings








If you want to feel fancy about it (or you’re already comfortable using the Terminal), another way to do this is to quit Safari and simply enter the following in a Terminal window (you can copy-paste if you like):

defaults write AutoOpenSafeDownloads -bool FALSE

(executed by pressing the Enter or Return key on your keyboard).

However, even prior to the above steps, the most important thing you can do is be careful and actively think about your online activities. Consider the site(s) you’re going to, whether you should even waste any time on software installers that you might find there, or any claims that a questionable site makes that you “need” something that they want you to download and install. Stop, and think about it. And where commercial software is concerned, if you didn’t obtain it legally, then you don’t know what else you might be getting when you unquestioningly supply your username and password to the installer you just got from obviouslyshadysite.sketch. At that point all bets are off, and this is where social-engineering will get you, if you’re not applying intelligence to how you use the Internet: Web, email, and especially P2P which can be used for legal purposes, but is very often used to distribute – or attempt to acquire – content illegally.

Adobe installers should only be obtained directly from Adobe (or purchased from reputable vendors – be it a store or online vendor), Apple software from Apple, and Microsoft (eg, Office) from Microsoft or from an established and trustworthy vendor.

Also know that Apple is taking steps to help counteract malware, with a brief explanation given at their support site, (and the same mechanism exists in 10.7 as well)

More information about the fake-Flash installer/trojan can be found at arstechnica:

And there is more info about the malicious PDF file at Note that while this
and the above fake installer might not yet have been seen extensively “in the wild” (meaning
it’s not wide-spread – yet) as always, be cautious.

There are manual removal instructions are available at F-Secure’s site, BUT they miss a key detail where Lion/10.7 is concerned (see below):

Quoting and slightly modifying from the f-secure article:

Open Activity Monitor
Select checkvir then click Quit Process
Delete the following files:


Additional info you might need: Bear in mind that in Lion, your Library folder
is hidden by default, if you don’t see the Library folder within your home folder (In the Finder use the Go menu > Home)
you can get to it by instead choosing “Go to Folder…” (the second last item) in the Finder’s Go menu,
and typing in: ~/Library and then pressing the (highlighted in blue) Go button.


Printing from Lion to a Windows server print queue with a client NOT bound to Active Directory

The following describes working with 10.7.1 (“Lion”) client and adding a setup for a printer that’s hosted by a Windows server, in an environment where Mac workstations are not bound to Active Directory (ie, no single-sign-on via Kerberos, no Kerberos auth for printing).

In the Add Printer dialog, choose Windows, select the domain in question,
locate the print server desired, and when asked to authenticate,
use: domain\username and the associated password.
Save to your keychain if desired (This may well be unacceptable in some settings due to security policies).
Choose the printer queue desired, and configure appropriately (pinter name, options).

When first printing to the printer, if asked to authenticate, do so again using the same
credentials as above (domain\username – and associated password).

If you skip the 2nd authentication request, the job will get spooled but fail to print (check the list for the printer in question and you’ll see a message relating to authentication failed/needed).

Mac OS X Lion – Should you take on the new beast, and are you ready ?

Mac OS 10.7 – Lion – are you ready and should you take the jump ?

The first and most important considerations before upgrading to Lion are the following:

If you’re thinking of updating a business-critical machine, don’t. See further down,
but we recommend against an *upgrade* install, and if this really is a critical machine for you
with business needs & revenue generation attached, it’s simply unwise to to dive into any new major OS update
right away. As the well-worn saying goes, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and that could not be more true
of a machine you rely on for business purposes.

Do you have a spare Mac to use, that won’t impact your workflow in any way ?
If not, are you realistically prepared to invest significant amounts of your time for all of:
Installing Lion and getting acclimatized with it, discovering incompatibilities with your 3rd-party software and updating *where available* yet having to wait an uknown period of time before an update is released ?

Does your intended Mac for installing Lion meet the system requirements ?

There’s no retail (off-the shelf) installer disk(s) for Lion, instead you might want to purchase Apple’s USB-key installer – see

If you don’t have a brand new Mac that comes with Lion, and you want to run this latest big-cat Mac OS X,
be prepared to purchase and download the installer (approximately 3.7 GB in size !) using Apple’s App store application (10.6.6 required but 10.6.8 recommended).
So, for the download, you’ll need a high-speed internet connection. If you have a slow DSL or Satellite-based Internet connection, you might like to visit your nearest Apple store, (I suggest you call ahead and ask first of course), but word is they’ll let you use their WiFi to download the Lion installer.

But let’s take a step back: Before you do anything, run don’t walk and do a backup of your computer. Never ever hope for the best because that’s no fail-safe against the worst that might happen. Time Machine makes it easy.
Next, make sure to verify your Mac’s hard drive. You can boot from an external hard drive if you’ve created one
(beyond the scope of this write-up), and it should have a matching OS, in this case 10.6 (ideally 10.6.8),
or: Boot the install disk that came with your Mac, click through the first couple of screens until you see a Utilities menu available.
Use that to launch Disk Utility, select your Mac’s HD (hard drive) and click the verify button. If problems are found, use the Repair button. If that fails, I suggest you contact us and arrange for a more thorough check-up of your computer.

It’s also possible to use Disk Utility (found within Applications/Utilties) to verify (but not repair) your startup disk (ie: while you’re started up from it, as you typically do when using your Mac), but I strongly recommend you quit all other applications (please do),
and whatever method you choose for verifying your Mac’s HD, if it’s a laptop make sure it’s plugged in. If you have a Desktop model (Mac Mini, iMac, MacPro), a battery backup (with surge protection) is a good investment (you should already have one, for reasons also beyond the scope of this particular write-up). Even with a laptop, a decent surge-protector is a good idea.
As always, remember that as it does it’s job over time (years), a surge protector can lose its effectiveness.

Something else that you really should do before upgrading to Lion, is to check on compatibility for your critical and preferred applications, and peripherals (scanners, printers, cameras, etc.). Google is your friend, do some searching.

It’s very important to know that Classic (running OS 9 within Mac OS X) is non-existent (already true as of 10.6)
As far as printers go, it’s likely (although I’m not guaranteeing) that if your printer or scanner works in 10.6, that it will be supported in 10.7, see:

As with any major OS upgrade, you’ll need to allow for some down-time, and lost productivity. It’s new, a new environment, and many things you may be accustomed to working in a particular way will either be changed or even gone. Give yourself time to adjust and adapt !

Further recommended reading:

Expanding the functionality of Apple Mail

Apple Mail by itself is one of the best email-management applications on the market. It’s taken a while to get there, but as of 10.6 it’s a robust mail client that supports everything from the old POP3 standards up to the current version of Microsoft Exchange. Its built-in tools for managing email also make it one of the most flexible email clients available today: The abiltiy to have both server-side and local folders; the combination of having a unified inbox for multiple accounts and the ability to view said inboxes separately; the ability to take one or more accounts offline temporarily while leaving the others active with ease; and so on.

And, of course, it comes with the Mac OS at no extra cost. Always a plus.

But it has a few things missing that seem unimportant at a glance, but which can improve workflow and productivity immensely. Fortunately, there are some third-party software developers who have written add-ons for Mail. I’m going to take a quick look at three of them.

First, there’s DockStar (which I’ve personally been using for the past five or six years), from the Ecamm Network. It expands on a function already built into Mail – showing an unread message count. But where Mail just shows you the total number of unread emails, DockStar adds the ability to show (in customizable icons) the unread mail count in up to five separate mailboxes. It shows these icons both on Mail’s Dock icon, and in the menu bar, making it easy to tell – at a glance – if the email that just arrived is one you need to look at right away or not. It’s also good for showing you when mail arrived while you were away from your desk, and for reminding you that you have messages waiting for your attention.

Second, there’s a program I’ve been using for a few months called Herald. At a glance, it adds Growl support to Mail, adding an Entourage-like pop-up notification that new mail has arrived. But it goes a lot deeper than that. Herald’s pop-up, unlike Entourage’s, only comes up if you’re in an application other than Mail, and shows you not just the subject of the email but also the sender, recipient, and body of the message (stripped to plain text). And if that’s not useful enough, it includes a row of buttons that allow you to delete the message, mark it as spam, mark it as read or reply to it from the Herald pop-up window, allowing you to take care of a priority email without having to switch to Mail manually – Herald does it for you, then when you’re done it takes you back to the application you were working in before-hand.

And if THAT’S not enough, it allows you to choose which mailboxes it pops up new messages for – so if you’re subscribed to a mailing list (and have a Rule set up sending them to their own folder as they come in) and don’t need to see messages from it right away, you can tell Herald not to show new messages in that folder.

Finally, a program I only found recently called FlagIt!, from TastyApps. It does one simple thing: It allows you to flag messages (and color the entire message row) in different colors. I used to leave messages marked unread so they’d be highlighted, reminding me I needed to deal with them. With FlagIt!, I can color something red for high priority, making it stand out when I glance at Mail, which is much, much better. This is one of those functions that doesn’t even occur to most people until it’s mentioned to them, but which then becomes indispensable once used.

As a side-note, I can’t speak highly enough about TastyApps’ support. I initially had a problem with FlagIt! that they went to great lengths to help me solve, even though it took a couple of weeks to find the source of the problem. And when I found that Mail was using far more RAM than it should while running it, they took the time to identify the memory leak as being theirs and will be patching it in the next version of the software.

So there you have it: Apple Mail, with expanded functionality to improve your work-flow. There are more add-ons available, these are just the three I’ve found most useful – so if you feel like something’s missing from Mail, look around‚Ķsomeone might already have written an add-on for it.

— Josh