Category Archives: System-Management

Battle of the PDF Tools

This weekend my wife showed me the benefits of using PrimoPDF instead of PDF Creator. While PDF Creator is Open Source, PrimoPDF is commercial but still free. PrimoPDF offers easier controls for the quality of the produced PDF. Both of them, however, tend to leave off bits of complex graphs produced with MS Office. Still, if PrimoPDF’s license allows, it may be a good idea to replace PDF Creator with Primo.

iOS Configuration Utility

As we get more and more Apple iDevices (iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches), we may want to consider leveraging the iPhone Configuration Utility (which Apple should really rename).

This utility allows us to create a “perfect” and “recommended” configuration profiles that can be uploaded on a web page or shared via email. When a customer clicks on such a profile, the following tasks (and more) can happen fairly automatically:

  • setup ActiveSync with a pre-defined (correct!) server name. Customer just needs to enter email address, username and password.
  • setup VPN pointing to pre-defined vpn server (but only pptp and cisco protocols supported)
  • setup a predefined wireless (like Midd_standard — can even push a password… Or not…)
  • prompt customer to configure a secure pass code to lock the device

More details:


Managing Public Printers

The public printers in several College buildings have been printing millions of pages. In some situations, like the Davis Family Library, we have more than one printer assigned to an area. Yet, by setting a default printer for that area, the printer that’s set as default gets the brunt of the print jobs (i.e. millions of pages) which results in that printer failing sooner than expected. At the same time, the idea of having multiple printers was that they would load balance.

One way that we’ve approached this issue was by not setting a physical printer as the default printer. This forces the patron to have to choose which printer they’d like to print to. This has upsides (patrons may not choose the same printer, resulting in load balancing) and downsides (confusion).

Another way of solving the issue is to implement some smart print server-based load balancing that would take into account the load that one printer is having and automatically choose another printer, but that’s more far fetched.

We could however, easily, schedule an automatic change whereby every day a different printer is set as default. For example, on odd days, computers would print to LIB242, and on even days to LIB242K. This way we get automatic load balancing, and customers can get used to the same printer being default on set days.

Something to think about…

BigFix to be purchased by IBM

On the heels of my post regarding systems management, IBM has decided to purchase BigFix — one of the multiplatform systems management options used by many:,289142,sid14_gci1516071,00.html?track=sy160

BigFix has many features, including security/patch management, software deployment, etc.