High Sierra may end Mac Office 2011’s good luck streak

Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 currently supports Mac OS 10.5.8 and later.  This includes 10.12 if fully patched (Office 2011 was last updated June 2017).  All indications are however that this good luck streak may end with macOS 10.13 High Sierra.

Public beta testers of macOS 10.13 have reported that while Office 2011 apps will launch, they run at notably slower speeds, and experience frequent unexpected quits.  Some have called it a “critically unstable experience”.  For some, these problems appear to be limited to macOS 10.13 running on the new APFS file system, but others have reported similar issues with the HFS+ file system. Microsoft has posted that Office 2011 “Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Lync have not been tested on macOS 10.13 High Sierra, and no formal support for this configuration will be provided.”

macOS 10.13 will be released this Fall, and coincidentally Microsoft is ending support for Office for Mac 2011 on 10/10/2017.  No further Office 2011 updates will be released after that date.

If you’re still running Office 2011, and haven’t upgraded to Microsoft Office for Mac 2016 yet, play your cards wisely.

R.I.P. Mac startup chime

Late 2016 Mac models and newer do not have a startup chime.  Apple also removed the BootAudio NVRAM parameter from the 2017 iMac models (no more hacks to turn it on).

Apple has revised all of their Knowledge articles to reflect this change.  For example, their How to reset NVRAM article now says “Shut down your Mac, then turn it on and immediately hold down these four keys together: Option, Command, P, and R. Keep holding the keys for about 20 seconds, during which your Mac might appear to restart. (If you have a Mac that plays a startup sound when you turn it on, you can release the keys after the second startup sound.)”

Bonus trivia: All Mac models manufactured between 1999 and Late 2016 played an F-sharp major chord as their startup chime, and this sound file’s origin was from the Quadra 840AV C major chord startup chime, pitch shifted up to F-sharp major.

Server app 5 update challenges

Because Apple hasn’t shipped a new version of their Server app since 2015, and instead they have been only releasing updates, the compatibility of Server app 5 is complicated:

  • Server app 5.0-5.1 will run on either Mac OS 10.10 or 10.11
  • Server app 5.2 will run on either Mac OS 10.11 or 10.12
  • Server 5.3 will only run on Mac OS 10.12.4 or later

Server app 5.0-5.2 is no longer available.  If you have a Mac running 10.10 or 10.11, and want to purchase/install the $19.99 Server app, you must first update the OS to 10.12.  If you have a Mac running 10.10 and Server app 5.0, you cannot upgrade to 5.1.  If you have a Mac running 10.11 and Server app 5.0, you cannot upgrade to 5.1 or 5.2.  The only available update path is to upgrade the OS to 10.12, then update Server app to 5.3.  This is not something that should be done with a project plan and a complete backup to roll back to.

Apple’s process for fixing a dead Touch Bar

If you troubleshooting a Touch Bar that has stopped working on an Late 2016 MacBook Pro, where the Touch Bar is completely black, try these steps to restore functionality:

  1. Create a new local user account (to use temporarily for steps 2-4)
  2. Reset the NVRAM
  3. Log in as the new user
  4. Log out then log in using the primary account
  5. Assuming the Touch Bar is working, delete the user account you created in step 1

I’m not quite sure why creating the new account and logging in with it after a NVRAM reset is necessary, but this process is what Apple support is walking people through who are experiencing this problem… and many people have reported it works.

Microsoft’s Mac installer repository

While reading a Microsoft article stating that support/updates for Mac Office 2011 will end October 10th 2017, Microsoft noted that the Office 2011 installer would be available on “content delivery network (CDN)” until that date.

I had not heard of this CDN before, and the link provided in the Microsoft article takes you to https://macadmins.software, which appears to be a repository of Microsoft’s Mac installers, including installers for volume licenses and individual apps like Skype for Business 2016.  I will definitely be using the CDN in the future!

Moneydance can’t print with Mac OS 10.12.4

Mac OS 10.12.4 breaks the ability to print from Moneydance.  The developer is aware of the problem, and is working on a fix.  This problem doesn’t occur with previous versions of Mac OS 10.12.

Avoid Apple Remote Desktop (ARD) 3.9 updates

UPDATE: Apple posted ARD 3.9.2 updaters in late March, which claim to have addressed most of the problems detailed in this post (specifically the keychain and offline issues).  Be warned though, there are a variety of stability issues that have been reported with ARD 3.9.2.

Apple released Apple Remote Desktop (ARD) 3.9 Client and Admin updaters on 2/21/17.  Based on the high number posts to different user forums reporting problems with these updates, I would advise not updating to ARD 3.9 until Apple released a subsequent update.

The bulk of the problems being reported about ARD 3.9 fall into one of these two categories:

  1. Can’t connect to Mac workstations after updating to ARD 3.9 Admin
    • Apple changed the behavior with ARD 3.9 Admin, where by default it can only connect to Mac workstations running ARD 3.9 Client. Apple also added a new preference setting in ARD 3.9 Admin, under the Security tab, for “Allow communication with older clients”.  This must be enabled to connect to Macs running older ARD 3.x Clients.
    • Even with updated ARD 3.9 Clients, or when the “Allow communication with older clients” setting is enabled, ARD 3.9 Admin may report ARD Clients as Offline or Access Denied. In some cases these Clients can be controlled or observed, but can’t be managed (i.e. send Unix commands or install packages).
    • There are a lot of workaround that have been posted on how to deal with this Offline/Access Denied issue, including creating a new local admin account on the Mac workstation then removing the client in ARD Admin and adding it back in with those credentials, but all of the workarounds are time consuming and don’t yield consistent results.
  2. Mac workstations display a password prompt: ARDAgent wants to use the “PrivateKeyStore-[#]” keychain
    • This happens on some Macs updated to ARD 3.9 Client, and occurs when ARD 3.9 Admin attempts to control or observe the Mac.
    • This prompt won’t accept any local password.
    • In most cases there is no way to dismiss this password prompt other than rebooting the Mac workstation or pushing out the ARD kickstart command via SSH.
    • Some people have reported that pressing the Cancel butting repeatedly will dismiss this password prompt, but others have reported that the prompt will eventually come back.

Other posted problems with ARD 3.9 include slow network scans, slow connection times, and slow redraw when controlling or observing.  Also of note: The ARD 3.9 Client and Admin updates require Mac OS 10.10 or later.

Prepare Multiple USB Drives for a Bootable Windows Installation

The All Covered Advanced Technology Solutions team writes scripts to help our engineers speed up repetitive tasks using automation, in this case I am improving upon a script written by Johan Arwidmark to prepare multiple USB drives for Windows installation.

Many thanks to Johan Arwidmark over at Deployment Research for creating the basic script to handle this process! All credit goes to Johan for his original script used here.

You can use this tool to create a bootable USB drive from any Windows installation media for Windows 8.1/Server 2012 and forward.

Improvements to the existing script

I chose to improve upon this basic script to make it more functional for the masses. Here’s what I’ve added:

  • Source location picker, so you can easily select the source location for the ISO contents
  • Drive label option, to set a label for the USB drive(s) you’re preparing
  • Administrative check to make sure you’re running the script as administrator, if you are not the script will exit
  • Check for connected USB drives, if the script doesn’t find any the script will exit

Getting Started

To get started, you’ll need some USB drives. In my case, I needed to format about 100 USB drives for imaging. I decided to follow Johans lead and grabbed this Anker 13 Port USB Hub. I also opted to use these Lexar 64 GB USB Drives. I recommend using a desktop computer with a good USB 3.0 controller. What does good mean? I don’t know, but something more powerful than what’s in a Lenovo W541 laptop! My controller became exhausted of all available power at 8 USB drives connected, which slowed my process slightly.

Be sure to connect the USB hub or drives to a USB 3.0 port on the system, or you’ll have rather dismal performance during the preparation of the drive(s).

In addition, I found that due to the intense load on the USB hub when formatting more than one batch of USB drives I had to cool mine with a desk-fan in order to keep the USB hub from becoming unstable during the process. In my case I believe it was overheating and as a result disconnecting and re-connecting from the system.

Do Not use this process if you have any other USB mass storage devices connected to the machine from which you are running this script. This will risk wiping any USB drives connected. You will be provided the opportunity to review the list of drives to be formatted and choose to proceed to the next step before formatting any drives.

Executing the script

Plug in your USB drives to your computer. Or, alternatively, the USB hub if you’re using one and follow these steps:

  1. Download and execute this script from an administrative PowerShell window
  2. Select the folder or drive which contains the contents of the ISO image you want to useSteps 1 and 2
  3. Select a Label for the drive(s)Step-3
  4. Validate the list provided to make sure only USB drives you want to format are connected and continue (Press Enter)Step-4
  5. Wait for the process to complete.Step-5

When complete, the script will attempt to eject the USB drives for safe removal. Note: Sometimes this process can fail just click retry and it should eventually properly eject the media.

The Code

This code can also be downloaded here on GitHub.

 


Johnathan Milgie

Suppressing the WSUS Configuration Wizard when installing and configuring with PowerShell

The All Covered Advanced Technology Solutions team writes scripts to help our engineers speed up repetitive tasks using automation, in this case I am writing a script to install and configure a new Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) server.

Many thanks to Boe Prox over at The Scripting Guys for sharing how to install and configure WSUS using the UpdateServices PowerShell module (Installing WSUS on Windows Server 2012).  A thank you also goes out to Trevor Jones for his article on Installing and Configuring WSUS with Powershell.

I found two issues with The Scripting Guys code and did not find any answers or solutions in the community.  I continued to troubleshoot these issues and found solutions for both.

Issue # 1 – All Office and Windows Products are enabled

I wanted to only enable select Microsoft Office and Windows products, although the parent categories “Office” and “Windows” were also selected which was not desired, this was the case if you used Product Title or the Product ID.  Here’s the commands that I tried to use to enable select Office products, Silverlight, and only Windows Server 2012 R2:

Or using the Product Id:

Then review what Products are enabled and you’ll see “Office” and “Windows”:

Solution

After enabling the desired products, disable the parent categories “Office” and “Windows” using their Product IDs.

Then review what Products are enabled and you will no longer see “Office” and “Windows”.

Issue # 2 – WSUS Configuration Wizard appears when opening the WSUS Management Console

After a PowerShell script completes a successful WSUS installation and configuration when you open the Windows Server Update Services Management Console you are still presented with the Windows Server Update Services Configuration Wizard which would be best to hide.  The wizard prompts you to configure your WSUS server which was already done using the PowerShell script.

Solution

Change the WSUS Configuration property OobeInitialized in $wsus.GetConfiguration() from $false to $true.


Mike Driest

Sierra secd bug linked to iCloud Keychain.

While traveling this week (MacTech 2016 Conference) I found that my Mid 2014 MacBook Pro Retina’s battery life was down to less than 2 hours, and the fans were running all the time.  A quick look at the Activity Monitor revealed that a process named secd was using up over 90% of the CPU.

Force quitting secd resulted in it respawning, continuing to hog the CPU.  I rebooted and the problem persisted. Next I reviewed the system.log and run fs_usage through the Terminal, and found odd references to keychain.  In the past I would have run Keychain First Aid in the Keychain Access utility, but that feature was removed by Apple in Mac OS 10.11.2, and my Mac was running 10.12.1.

So next I googled to see what secd was all about, and found a couple of hits describing my same problem.  The workaround posted was to turn on Keychain in the iCloud system preference pane.  I was skeptical this would help, as my Mac wasn’t even logged into iCloud, but sure enough I logged in and turned on Keychain, and the secd process stopped consuming all my CPU.

Upon further research this seems to be a bug effecting many people.  I’m sure it happened on my Mac after upgrading to Sierra, but I didn’t notice it at first because normally I run plugged into power and it’s common for my fans to be on because I run VMware Fusion and Adobe CC apps frequently.  I also found you don’t actually have to turn on Keychain in iCloud complete, you just have to check it then uncheck it.

Here’s a growing Apple discussion thread on the subject.

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