Friday, December 13, 2013

My Own Cloud Storage Solution

Dropbox, Google, Office365, iCloud, Cubby all offer cloud storage with sync for Mobile & Desktops.  And like many I have accounts on all, and I am sure like a lot of people, I have filled up my free storage on most of them (Admittedly, Google's 25Gb has some space left).  I have always wanted to have my own personal cloud storage with 500Gb that i could put everything in.  One folder to rule them all.
About a year ago I came across OwnCloud and was intrigued at the premise.  Open source cloud storage that you can download and install on your own Mac, Windows, Linux machine and the HD space that you allocate on the machine can now become your own Cloud solution.
The hold up was having a machine that I could put this on that had no other use, I had plenty of old Mac Mini's sitting around collecting dust but the HD's were only 250Gb and I had my dream number of 500Gb of storage.
Over the next couple of months, I kept following development, which is very active, but kept on shying away because of the lack of space on the drives.
For whatever the reason one day I finally realized that I should take my old external 250gb HD's and raid them together as a 2nd HD and install Mac 10.6 server on the Mini and I had my setup.
I have no other system resources installed and running on the mini except for the base Mac http service and enabled the Mac installed PHP as the machine only boasts 2 GHz Intel Core Duo processor with 4Gb of RAM, not a best of machine by any means, but sufficient to be a webserver.
Installing OwnCloud is extremely, there is a nice little installer available at the website that requires you to download one file, upload it to your webserver, navigate to said file in your browser.  You follow the onscreen instructions, set the proper file sharing permissions and voila, 1Tb of personal cloud storage.
A nice little bonus is that you can set up OwnCloud for multiple users, so family, small business now have a cheap, and so far in my experience, very reliable cloud storage.  Just remember to setup a backup of your cloud files so that if something goes wrong, your data is safe!
So if you have an old computer laying around that you are saving for no particular reason, but find yourself running short of HD space or need a place that is your own central location for storing all your files.  Check out OwnCloud, I have a feeling you will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Automatic updates, where have you been?

I am late to the game on doing any 10.9 testing as far as rolling out to the 1:1, honestly I am a little hesitant the the 3 year old machines can handle running the OS, I know 10.9 was supposed to slim down the stress on the hardware and improve battery life.  My personal machines that are running 10.9 are pretty beastly and I would say the battery life improvement is noticeable on my MBP to about a 60-90min increase on duration up from the ~6 hours I was getting while running 10.8.

I am especially happy with the initial impressions of the automatic updates to Apps purchased through the app store.  This singular feature has me rolling up my sleeve and preparing to send out the call to 10-15 brave individuals to sign up to be beta testers for my 10.9 plans.  Right now the App updating process is mind numbingly aggravating, downloading, capturing the App, removing receipt records and then rolling it out to user, while doing it occasionally is not to daunting, when 3-6 apps are released on any given day and the Update notification appears on student screens, they get antsy and start sending me emails.

While some of you are not looking at managing a network of Macs, the feature is mightily handy and I highly recommend turning it on, you can find it by going to your System Preferences and choosing the App Store icon and checking the boxes like those below.
In 10.8 the Install app updates option is missing and this quality of life change is magnificent very much appreciated.

In addition, which has been around for a couple OS's, but the Automatically downloading Apps feature, while I never used it much in the past should be a nice feature if my theory of I purchase the app on my Apple VPP account and machines are set up with the VPP account, the apps should automatically download and then be added to the update cycle on all laptops.

This feature should cut down on the initial setup time of a lot of things as now I should be able to create a master image and avoid the need of downloading the 30ish apps that are put on student machines as they should automatically download in the next couple days after the student gets their machine or I purchase an app.

IT side of things just got a little easier, also Apple, many thanks for tabs in Finder!