Reset Adobe Preferences

Robot Cloud can now reset the preferences for Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign or Adobe Photoshop running CS5 and later.  Check out the video.

 
 

Where is it?
In Self Service > Troubleshooting > Reset Adobe Preferences.

Who can see it?
Any Mac enrolled in Robot Cloud Actions running Adobe CS5 and later.

What does it do?
The Action will prompt the user to select Adobe Illustrator, InDesign or Photoshop. If the app they select is running, it will ask them to quit that application. If the Action sees that the target app is not open, for the currently logged in user it will:

  1. Remove all Application Support files for the target app.
  2. Remove all Preferences for the target app.
  3. Remove all Caches for the target app.
  4. Flush the user plist cache.

I thought the keyboard commands to reset preferences were easy. Why should I use this?
As a troubleshooting step it is often much easier to ask a user to click a button in Self Service than it is to walk them through holding down certain keys and launching the app. Also, with Self Service, we get a log of when it was run instead of trusting it was done correctly. Finally, the keyboard commands are NOT all the same for each app and each version of the app, so unless you want to memorize all that jazz, use this instead.


Network Throughput

Robot Cloud now has the ability to test the network throughput between Macs on a local area network (LAN). When run through Self Service you have two options:

  1. Enter a Single IP address; or 
  2. Scan for other listening Macs on the same LAN (Range of IPs) and run tests against all devices to develop a picture of the overall health and speed of the network. 

The Range of IPs option is a great solution to run directly on a Mac server if you want to see what kind of performance each Mac user will receive, and does a great job illustrating the speed and benefits of Gigabit and 802.11ac. You can easily identify if a user is connecting at b/g/n/ac wireless speeds and either recommend modern 802.11ac wireless access points, or help them get connected if they are defaulting to an older protocol.

Why did we create this?

In the past we've relied on Robot Cloud (or access to each Mac) to tell us the connection speed for wired connections. However, as more users move beyond to wireless our toolset for measuring performance has waned.

Geek Speak

We're using a free command-line utility called iPerf. Once installed, Robot Cloud places iPerf in a listening daemon state so it can receive incoming requests. This state is maintained across logins and restarts. The Network Throughput Action in Self Service, when run, checks the IP and listening port of the target Mac (or range of IPs) and if a connection can be established it will perform the test, save everything to a log file for display at the end, and if possible submit the results to Zendesk.

Troubleshooting

In the event that the scan gets stuck, which it can if there is a dead entry in the APR table during a range scan, simply turn the wireless off and on again to flush the APR table and re-run the Action. If the uptime on the Mac is more than a few days or you've made many VPN connections the table can become full of dead results.


Energy Saver Settings

Robot Cloud now offers an Energy Saver configurator built-in to Self Service. When run, the user is given three options:

  1. Most Efficient
  2. Max Power
  3. Apple Defaults
 
 

If Max Power is chosen, Robot Cloud performs an additional check to see if the device is a notebook and gives the user the option to change their charger, or both their battery and charger settings. Additional uses for this new feature include:

  1. Run Max Power for new server setups!
  2. Ask a client to run Max Power if they are stepping away and they want us to connect remotely while they are gone.
  3. Having issues with power management on a Mac? Slow wakes from sleep? Try running Apple Defaults.
  4. Want to reduce your energy bills? Try Most Efficient.

Auto-Update CrashPlan Mac Names

PROBLEM
One of our Support Desk challenges has been keeping the CrashPlan Admin Console up-to-date with name changes on the Mac.

SOLUTION
We never enjoy performing manual work that can be automated! Robot Cloud now has the ability to update the CrashPlan Admin Console when the name of a Mac changes. This automation takes the place of manually changing the computer name in the CrashPlan settings. Robot Cloud uses the CrashPlan API to directly update the name if the console name does not match the Mac name. 

How often will this new feature run?

  • Automated: The automation to check the name of the Mac will run weekly to update the CrashPlan console for any Mac name differences.
  • Manual: Self Service > Backup > Update CrashPlan Name

What Macs will run this new feature?

Currently the scope is only for Forget Computers Macs running CrashPlan Business or Enterprise (both on-premise and cloud). Macs running CrashPlan Free/Individual/Family will not have their information updated because there is no central API access to accomplish this.

Robot Cloud clients, please contact us to start using this new automation. We will need an admin username and password for your CrashPlan console to negotiate with the API.


How Robot Cloud Handles OS X Upgrades

In this recently recorded session, Ben Greiner and Chad Nielsen discuss how Robot Cloud can help streamline the OS upgrade process. Highlights include:

  • OS X El Capitan (10.11)
  • How Robot Cloud blocks upgrades (see our opt-out form).
  • How we use Dashboard to determine the upgrade readiness of a Mac.
  • Robot Cloud vs the App Store upgrade process.
  • Apple IDs and FileVault.
  • Post upgrade automations.
  • OS X Yosemite (10.10) upgrade example, demonstrated using Self Service.

Register today to join our next monthly session!


Improvements to Mac OS Upgrades

We’ve made some changes to how Robot Cloud upgrades the Mac OS Previously we ran OS upgrades by downloading and installing the upgrade in one pass. Although a Local Distribution Point (LDP) can be used, more people then ever are traveling and working from home where they don't have access to a LDP. In addition, they may have slow or unstable Internet access when not in the office. Even within a local network more people rely on WiFi and we've seen poor wireless connections that continually drop the packets and cause delays — or outright failure — hours after initiating an OS upgrade. All of these potential problems can result in a poor experience for the end-user — and who gets the blame when technology doesn't work? You do!

We have good news! Our new and improved Robot Cloud upgrade process ensures that OS upgrades are only available after the installer package has been fully downloaded and cached to the Mac. The key difference is we are caching rather then providing a direct download. One of the key benefits to caching is that the download can get interrupted — due to sleep, shut down or a poor network connection — and it will always resume without issue. The result is  a much better end-user experience.

Self Service will only show the OS Upgrade as an available install option after the installer package has been cached to the Mac.  (Of course you still have the option to initiate the install via the Command Line or upon a logout trigger, if you prefer.)

We believe this new process will ensure a smooth user experience and increase the efficiency of Robot Cloud OS Upgrades! Please reach out to us with any questions or suggestions — or to request we make OS upgrades available to your customers!

 
 

Mac Password Management

We're pleased to announce a Robot Cloud local password management utility. Here is a breakdown of how it works. See the Video here.

Robot Cloud checks hourly to see if local workstation password of the logged-in user will expire within 14 days. If it detects a password that is expiring, an email notification is created and a pop-up notification is presented to the user asking them to change their password. The pop-up will automatically open System Preferences and select "Change Password", so all they have to do is type in their old and new passwords to complete the process. This method (changing through System Preferences) updates both the local keychain and local items cache, ensuring a clean change as opposed to the login window, which will change the local keychain but does not modify local items.

In addition to Robot Cloud email notification and pop-up notification (see image above), if the password expires today (or has expired) Robot Cloud will perform the following actions to attempt to prevent a user lockout:

  • Disable screensaver.
  • Disable sleep (workstation lid close on a notebook will still work).
  • Clear local items.

In the event that the user waits until the day a password expires, once the password has changed Robot Cloud will graciously restore the default screensaver and sleep settings.

If a Mac is running every day, there are a total of 28 notifications … 14 Robot Cloud updates (in a single ticket if you use Zendesk) as well as 14 local pop-ups … one per day until the password is changed. Also, if the password is changed and you use Zendesk, then Robot Cloud kindly notifies the user that their password was changed in a final Zendesk ticket — and solves the ticket for you! Such a gentleman.


The Power of Automation

[San Francisco, CA] In this presentation recorded at Zendesk headquarters, Ben Greiner talks about how using the Zendesk API allows Robot Cloud to:

  1. Automate more easily, to augment your IT team;
  2. Scale more quickly, with a ticket reduction of 66%!;
  3. Create an archived history for every managed device.

New Security Feature: Conflicting Antivirus Software Detection

What does it do?
Each time a Mac submits an Inventory Report it updates Robot Cloud with the currently installed antivirus software. If multiple antivirus apps are found,  then Robot Cloud notifies the end-user (or the primary contact) with a list of conflicting apps and links to the uninstallation process.

Why does this exist?
With the increase of viruses aimed at the Mac, we continue to see an increase of antivirus software being installed. When more then one form of antivirus software is installed, it’s common to see a conflict that can cause sluggish performance or crashing. Because this type of software is loaded at startup, it can also cause booting issues.

How do I use it?
This feature is included for all Macs enrolled in Robot Cloud and will only alert the user if a conflict is detected. Once an alert is received, your Support Desk should work with the user to confirm what is installed and to remove the conflicting antivirus software. If you haven’t familiarized yourself with the launchctl command, we've written a great KB article that should be helpful with the uninstallation part of the process.

Alert Details
Similar to our other Robot Cloud alerts, the user will be alerted when there is an antivirus software conflict and will automatically receive a solved confirmation message once the conflicting software has been removed.

Current antivirus software detected by Robot Cloud:

  • ClamXav (Also the default app supported by Robot Cloud. Robot Cloud can add, remove or block the installation of ClamXav.)
  • Sophos
  • Avast
  • Intego
  • BitDefender
  • Avira
  • McAfee
  • TrendMicro

Enhanced Inventory Item: Antivirus Software

Robot Cloud now has the ability to check for installed antivirus software. With the increased usage of antivirus software on the Mac, this new feature should be helpful in quickly determining if a Mac has any installed and what flavor. Since this type of software is loaded at startup by a LaunchDaemon or Agent, it’s becoming a common startup issue if not updated, or if multiple  versions or variants are installed.

Robot Cloud subscribers can contact us to request a report of this information. So far Robot Cloud checks for the following antivirus software.

  • ClamXav
  • Sophos
  • Avast
  • Intego
  • Bitdefender
  • Avira
  • McAfee
  • Trend Micro

Note: Since this new feature was just released, it may take a few days for all Macs to update this new information.


New Inventory Item: User Account Details

Robot Cloud now has the ability to differentiate between local, network, mobile and service accounts! Robot Cloud subscribers can contact us to request a report of this information.

This attribute only works on 10.8 or higher and exempts servers, because we would be collecting waaaaaay too much data if we included servers.

Below is a screenshot of what this information looks like on a Mac with a directory bind and all types of accounts.


Mac Name Change? Update LogMeIn!

Robot Cloud now monitors for Mac name or Serial Number changes and updates the device name in LogMeIn to match. NOTE: This feature requires the LogMeIn Remote Access add-on.

Details

Every 15 minutes a Mac enrolled with Robot Cloud is checked to see if there has been a Mac name or serial number change. If a change is detected, a notification is sent to the technical contact detailing the current Mac name and Serial Number along with the previous Mac name and Serial Number. Plus, LogMeIn is automatically reinstalled (limited to once per day) to update the name in the LogMeIn admin console.

Why does this exist?

LogMeIn does not auto-update Mac name changes. Up to this point we've had to manually sort LogMeIn Macs by hunting down data in Robot Cloud.  The goal is to increase efficiency by ensuring Robot Cloud / Dashboard / LogMeIn names all match (down to a 15 min window) and to reduce the manual cleanup work to a single change that is notified by an alert.

How do I use it?

Like so many of Robot Cloud awesome automated Actions, no work on your part is required to enable or manage this feature. If you install LogMeIn as part of Robot Cloud, then this feature simply works.


New Feature: Free Up Space!

Robot Cloud now offers a Self Service Action to assists users with identifying areas of opportunity for deletion and clean-up! The Action scans each folder inside their Home folder and if the size of the folder is over 1GB it's listed in the report. More specifically, the Action will check Apple Mail, Entourage 2008 and Outlook 2011 sizes so the user can see exactly how much email they have in each of these applications. If more than one Entourage 2008 or Outlook 2011 identity is found, then an additional note detailing the location of the duplicates is added.

Important note: This Action does not delete any files; it only calculates directory sizes and provides a report.

When this Action is run through the command line or ARD, the execution is completely silent and a ticket is automatically generated with the report results. This method is ideal if you want to scan a workstation before an email or new workstation migration.

In Self Service the Action looks like this:

 
 

And the results look like something like this:

 
 

Try this on your own Mac contact us and if you have any questions or suggestions for improvement!

Set Management Details Through Self Service!

You can now set the building and department of a newly enrolled Mac using Self Service! Here’s how it works:

  1. Enroll a Mac into Robot Cloud.
  2. Launch Self Service and run the “Set Management” policy.
  3. The policy will perform the following actions:
    1. Gathers the public IP of the Mac.
    2. Compare the public IP to all current network segments in Robot Cloud.
    3. If a match is found:
      1. Set building name.
      2. If no match, then prompt the user to type in a building.
    4. If a match is not found, prompt the user to type in a building.
  4. Prompt the user to select Inventory and Alerting, Pro Support or Robot Cloud.
  5. If the building was:
    1. Automatically determined, set the building and department in Robot Cloud and reload Self Service.
    2. Not automatically determined, then inform the user that information was sent to Robot Cloud for assignment.

As long as we have a network segment and the name of that segment matches the building, the information will be set and whoever is performing the setup can move forward.

Please note, there are no plans to allow users to select a list of buildings or present a list of partial matches because that would reduce the security of the system and privacy of our clients.