Screen Sharing vs. Remote Management

File this one under “More How Than Why.” Admittedly this is probably documented someplace else, but I found out the hard way, so maybe this will save you the trouble.

Background: By default, our machines have a universal local admin account for maintenance purposes. All are deployed with remote login enabled for this account, and remote management enabled for the local admin plus the primary user, whose account is always a cached Active Directory account. This has never presented a problem.

The Situation: User with a MacBook Pro running 10.6.8 wants remote access to her office iMac (also at 10.6.8) while traveling, using her AD credentials, and doesn’t want or need the expense and complexity of Apple Remote Desktop.

The First Solution: Logically enough, the first step was to have her VPN into our enterprise network and then connect to her machine via VNC (Go > Connect to server > vnc://my.machine.address).

The Result: Authentication failures. Repeatedly, from any account (including local administrator) and for all permutations of Remote Management settings.

The Fix: Disable Remote Management, and enable Screen Sharing.

I think, but have not confirmed, that I could then reenabled remote management and still have VNC work properly. The client was on a time-limited schedule, and once we had a fix she had to bolt. So she has a working VNC setup. Why this happens, I can only speculate. Again, it’s probably documented somewhere, but I’d say it’s gnarly settings somewhere.

A more graceful solution would, of course, be to upgrade to Lion. That’s in the works, but for now the workaround suffices.

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Stuff I Like

Because we all spend so much time griping (bitching might not be too strong a word) about technology and how it never works, I just want to start the new year by listing a few technological implements that I appreciate.

  • iPhone: Never leave home without it, don’t know how I lived without constant Internet access. Yes, I could fault the phone service, or pick nits, but on the whole, this is my very favorite gadget.
  • iPod(s): I have several, and have had several others. The design and functionality are uniformly excellent.
  • Mercury Elite hard drives (OWC): I have been buying from OWC for at least a decade, and I still use some of the first drives I bought from them. Excellent customer service, and competitive pricing. Use and recommend to all my clients.
  • AppleTV 2: Version 1 really was a toy, and mine’s been turned into a Boxee box that I never use. But the second version is a staple of my AV setup, and gets used regularly.
  • Xbox/Xbox Live: Microsoft is the company everyone loves to hate, but minor interface niggling aside, Xbox and the XBL online service are two products they consistently get right. I lost count of the hours I spent playing Battlefield 3 with friends over the last two weeks, and I consistently talk to my brother more over XBL than on the phone.
  • Casper/JSS: They make my life so much easier now. It’s an IT truism that the best sysadmins are often the laziest, and honestly Casper is the lazy sysadmin’s dream come true. Another product I don’t know how I ever did without.
  • My Hyundai Elantra Touring: Going out on the limb a bit, since I’ve only put about 20K miles on it, but the last car I liked this much was my 1993 Saturn SL2, which was involuntarily retired after 157K miles. Hyundai has treated me well so far, enough that we’re considering a Veloster as well.
  • Seiko Watches: I still wear the one I received for high school graduation. Up yours, Timex!
  • Samsung: Certainly not everything they make. But I have a midlevel AV amp, and Blu-ray player, and a refrigerator made by them, plus countless GB of RAM and a television. Happy with all of it.
  • Twitter: Sure, the failwhale still pops up occasionally. And yes, they make unpopular changes to the service. The fact remains, though, that I’ve made more and better friends via Twitter than via any other online service. I’m looking at you, Facebook.
  • My MacBook Pro: It’s old. The graphics card is a bit glitchy every now and then. But it’s been a reliable workhorse that I’ve beat on fairly hard, and it’s stood up to the task.
  • iPad: Solid, easy to use, and my kid loves hers. That’s as much recommendation as I need for that particular device. 😉
  • Trane: Our new heat pump is the best thing we’ve ever done to this house. Installation and setup were peerless.

That’s kind of a starter list, which I am admittedly dashing off before hauling myself to bed. Perhaps I’ll make a point of expanding on it and adding to it as the year progresses. It’s easy to be a negative Nancy (why Nancy?) about tech, because a lot of it doesn’t work well, or work well together. It’s harder, sometimes, to root for the products you love, whether because you don’t want to risk being called a fanboy, or because you just don’t thing it’s important.

I think it *is* important. More on that later. For now, that’s the starter set.