Apple,MacTech Conference,OS X October 20, 2012 at 5:07 pm

MacTech Conference 2012: Day 3 Roundup

Yesterday marked the end of MacTech Conference 2012. Below is a summary of the final day’s sessions in the IT and joint tracts, along with some of my thoughts.

Anthony Vcherushniy from Google kicked off the morning with a talk on the OpenBSM auditing functionality that is included with OS X. OpenBSM auditing has been available for OS X since the Panther days, but before 10.6 needed to be installed separately. Since 10.6, unless you’ve turned it off, the audit daemon has been running on your system collecting log data about events on the system. If configured to its fullest extent, almost no action on the system will go unlogged. Anthony talked about how Google is collating, storing, and analyzing these logs from their Mac clients. It gives them an incredible insight into what is happening with their entire fleet. The audit daemon is configured with files stored in /etc/security. The log files are typically stored in /var/audit and can be translated into a human-readable form using the ‘praudit’ command line utility. Rich Trouton has a great summary about OS X’s OpenBSM auditing implementation available on his blog Der Flounder.

Rich Trouton from HHMI’s Janelia Farm Research Campus presented second on using the command line tool ‘fdesetup’ to configure and manage FileVault 2 in the enterprise. Rich has, over the past year or so, become known for being “the FileVault 2 guy.” He’s maintained a level of knowledge and expertise in the FileVault 2 discipline that is matched only by the engineers at Apple. His presentation was extremely in-depth and covered many real-world configuration scenarios with code and command line examples included. Mt. Lion’s implementation of the fdesetup tool includes many new configuration flags and parameters compared to those that were available in Lion. Rich has posted many blog posts about FileVault 2 on his blog Der Flounder and they’re all available under the FileVault 2 category. He’s even already posted his slides from Friday’s talk. Rich’s presentation officially ended the IT track of the conference.

After Rich’s presentation came two final presentations for the entire group of attendees. The first of which was a presentation from Matt Schnittker from Walt Disney Animation Studios. The amount of hospitality that we attendees received this year from the folks at Disney was truly incredible. Matt’s presentation showed off some of the homebrew tools that the staff at Disney Animation use to create the amazing films that we see on screens across the country. It’s still unclear whether or not the Disney slides will be available for download in the coming weeks, so in the interest of preserving any private content, I won’t discuss the finer details of the presentation. It included an overall timeline of how a film is made, and Matt included clips from the movie Tangled from different steps along the timeline to show how the film comes together from the output of the various stages of the production.

After Matt’s presentation came the final presentation for the day from Sandy Krasner from the JPL. Sandy’s presentation was on interplanetary networking. Yes, interplanetary networking. He discussed how communication functions between the Curiosity rover on Mars and the ground operations here in the United States. Sandy presented so many interesting tidbits of information, but my favorite were:
1.) It takes 17 minutes each direction to send/receive commands to/from Mars. They cannot simply move a joystick and watch the rover move.
2.) There’s limited contact time and downlink. They have 2-4 relay contacts with 15 minutes each pass. The best case for data transmission is 80 megabytes/pass.
3.) They can only upload quarter-megabyte files at a time due to constraints in the communication protocol. They have to send sequences of these files in each pass and they get put together on the far side.
4.) All surface telemetry data is transmitted back to earth as binary and XML data definitions here on the ground are used to interpret the received data.

In the closing remarks of the conference, Neil and Ed thanked everyone for attending and presented some summary data about the conference. Nearly all 50 states were represented, and 15 countries were represented with speakers from 6. Over 50 vendor prizes were awarded to attendees via random drawings. I was fortunate enough to win an AeroHive AP141 wireless access point and a few other smaller items.

MacTech Conference 2013 will be held November 6-8, 2013 in Los Angeles, CA. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to attend MacTech conference every year since its inception three years ago. All three years thus far have been incredible. MacTech Conference 2013 is not an event that anyone will want to miss.

Mike Boylan

Mike Boylan is a recent graduate of Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, PA where he received his Master’s of Science in Competitive Intelligence Systems. Mike is a senior systems engineer for the University focusing on core University server infrastructure and telephony. He also still administers and manages all of the University’s Macs. He’s been doing Mac systems administration for over eight years, having worked previously for Fox Chapel Area School District in Pittsburgh, PA. Fox Chapel holds one of the largest Mac deployments in the Pittsburgh area. When not at work or in class, Mike enjoys spending time with friends and exploring new restaurants. He’s also active in and passionate about Pittsburgh politics. He proudly volunteered for the Bill Peduto for Mayor campaign in 2012/2013. He’s on Twitter at @mboylan.

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