Mountain Lion Server: Profile Manager-iOS Enrollment

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In this screencast tutorial I cover how to enroll iOS devices in Profile Manager. I just got a piece of software called Reflector which allows me to mirror my iOS devices on my Mac. This has allowed me to capture these devices using my screencast software called Screenflow. This should be great for future screencasts as I will now be able to show you how to do the set up on your iOS devices and even include some iOS only tutorials in the future.

In this particular screencast I go over how to get your iOS device enrolled in Profile Manager so you can manage that device and push profile changes to it over the air. As I demonstrated in the previous screencast, you need to first install the trust profile if you are using a self signed SSL Certificate before you do any other installations. Forgetting this step will cause Profile Manager not to work and you will waste hours of tweaking for no benefit. After that profile is installed you can then install your other settings and make changes in Profile Manager itself that will be pushed to all your devices.

As always if you have any questions or feedback, feel free to leave a comment here or on my
Youtube Channel. Thanks for watchingHappy.



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Mountain Lion Server: Profile Manager-Mac Enrollment

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Profile Manager is one of the best parts of Mountain Lion Server. It allows you to manage all of your Macs and iOS Devices from a your server either locally or remotely. It gives enterprise control over your devices that was previously only available to those running enterprise level servers.

If you haven’t had a chance to view my previous tutorial on setting up Profile Manager start with that tutorial first by clicking
HERE. In this screencast tutorial, I continue my look at Profile Manager and walk through how to set up your Macs to use the service. I cover how to install the needed certificates to allow your Macs to be managed and cover how they look once enrolled within Profile Manager.

If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below or leave a comment on my
YouTube Channel.



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Mountain Lion Server: Caching Service

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Now that Apple has two methods for pushing updates to client computers, Software Update and the Mac App Store, it makes it difficult to manage updates and the bandwidth for each and every client on your network. To help with this for Macs that use the Mac App Store, Apple has created the new Caching Service to allow the Server to save any updates that clients on your network download so future downloads will happen from your server instead of Apple’s Servers. The Caching Service only adds updates when someone accesses an update and downloads it.

In this screencast tutorial I cover how to configure the Caching Service and set your clients to use that service instead of the Mac App Store. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below or on my
YouTube Channel.



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Mountain Lion Server: Software Update

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Software Update is Apple’s method of pushing updates to their software to Macs. The problem with Software Update is the time it takes to download each of those updates individually for each machine and the bandwidth it takes for each of those individual downloads.

In Mountain Lion Server Apple has included a local Software Update Service that allows you to download all of Apples’ updates to your server and then point your clients to your server to download those updates. In this screencast tutorial I cover how to set up the Software Update Service and how to point your client computers to use your Server instead of Apple’s Servers to get their updates.

If you have any questions along the way, feel free to leave a comment below or on my
YouTube Channel.



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Mountain Lion Server: Back Up

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Back up is one of the things we usually think about after we needed a back up which causes us to leave all of our data. Running a Server is as much about making fast recovery possible as it is keeping your data safe. In this screencast tutorial, I cover how to use Time Machine in Mountain Lion Server to allow wireless back ups of all of your client machines to a centralized location. I also cover creating a bootable backup of your server using a program called SuperDuper! which will allow you to be back up and running in no time should you have a major hard drive failure. Finally, I cover how to back up your Open Directory so you can restore that data should you have problems with your server.

As always if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment here or on my
YouTube Channel.



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Mountain Lion Server: Mail

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The dream of hosting your own web server is something most of us who are interested in things like servers have toyed with. Being in control of what comes in and out and having our own customized email address is appealing. But anyone who has run and email server knows the headaches administrating email can be!

In this screencast tutorial I cover how to set up your own Mail Server. I go over the pros and cons of hosting your own email. I talk about the basic requirements of hosting your own server at home and how to set up your clients to use the service. As always if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below or on my
YouTube Channel.



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Mountain Lion Server: FTP

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FTP or File Transfer Protocol is a way to transfer files between two computers. FTP is used for uploading and downloading files from a server and offers an easy way to access certain folders and files.

In this screencast tutorial, I cover how to set up your own FTP share in Mountain Lion Server. I talk about how to log into your FTP share using Terminal and an FTP client.

As always if you have a question, feel free to leave a comment below or leave a comment on my
YouTube Channel.



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Mountain Lion Server: VPN

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VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and is a protocol that allows you to set up a secure connection between two devices. This secure connection allows you to appear as if you are on your local network so you can access the services you have running on your server. One of the things a VPN on a Mac will not do, however, is run bonjour services which means all your other local computers will not show up in your finder side bar and you won’t have home sharing services in iTunes and iPhoto work remotely. There are some things you could do to make that work but it does take a lot hacking and is probably the subject of another article.

In the screencast tutorial below, I cover how to set up the VPN Service on Mountain Lion Server including how to set up the right range of addresses that won’t interfere with your regular DHCP range, which protocol to use (L2TP or PPTP), and ways in which you can export a profile to use to set up your client machines. I also cover setting up and connecting to your VPN Service remotely.

As always if you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below or on my
YouTube Channel.



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Mountain Lion Server: Messages

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In this screencast tutorial I cover how to set up the Messages Service on Mountain Lion Server. Messages is Apple’s new and improved iChat Service which allows you to set up a private chat service that lets you communicate both in and outside your network. This service can be convenient especially now that Apple is using it for it’s own texting service over wifi.

In this tutorial I cover how to set up the Messages Service and connect all your clients to the service. I also cover how to use the service and get your buddy list set up and running. If you have any questions along the way, feel free to leave a comment below or on my
YouTube Channel.



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Mountain Lion Server: Contacts

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One of the benefits of having a server is the ability to host your own services like Calendars and Contacts. In Mountain Lion Server the Contacts Service allows you to set up your own contacts directory and push changes to all of your devices. In this screencast tutorial I cover how to set up the Contacts Service including how to set up the services and get your clients set up to use the service. I also cover a couple of options for setting up your Contacts including individual accounts and a shared family Contact Book. If you have any questions in setting up the service, feel free to leave a comment here or on my YouTube Channel.



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Mountain Lion Server: Calendar

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In this screencast tutorial I cover how to set up the Calendar Service on Mountain Lion Server. Calendar allows you to manage a CalDav standard calendar for all of the users on your server. It allows you to set up locations and resources that you can make available for scheduling and sends invitations to those you invite to events that you schedule. I cover not only how to set this up on the server but also how to configure your clients to use the service as well and even include an optional way to have one calendar that all of your users have as their primary calendar for those families that only want to worry about one standard calendar for the whole household.

As always, feel free to email any questions or leave a comment on my YouTube Channel.



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Mountain Lion Server: Connect & Auto Mount AFP

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In this screencast tutorial I cover how to connect to any AFP shares you have set up both locally and remotely on your devices. I also cover how to set up certain files and folders to auto mount every time you log into your computer so they are mounted and ready to go when you need them instead of having to repeat the process of mounting your files and folders every time you log out or reboot.

If you have any comments or questions feel free to email or leave a comment on my YouTube Channel.



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Mountain Lion Server: File Sharing

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In this screencast tutorial I cover how to set up the File Sharing Service on Mountain Lion Server. File sharing is one of the basic things everyone thinks about when setting up a server. The need to share the same files among multiple users and have them stored in a centralized location is what servers do best and Mountain Lion Server has an excellent and easy to set up file sharing service. The service includes the ability to set the permission levels of shared files and folders with either Read & Write (the user can both view and upload/change content), Read Only (the user can only view the content but not download or upload), Write Only (the user can only add content but not take any away), and no access which hides the file or folder from the user so he/she doesn’t even know it is there. The service all allows the ability for the shared file or folder to be shared as AFP (Apple File Protocol) or SMB (Windows File Sharing Protocol), shared with iOS devices over WebDav, or used to set up and store home folders on the server. I cover all of these topics in the tutorial below.

As always, if you have any comments or questions feel free to email, or comment on my YouTube Channel.



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Mountain Lion Server: Users & Groups

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In this screencast tutorial I cover how to set up users & groups on Mountain Lion Server. I explain how to tell the difference between local and network accounts and what the advantages are of each. I also talk about how setting up groups can make easier for you to manage multiple users at one time and how you can create groups for family members that allow you to do things like make on change that effects all the kids instead of having to change each child manually.

As always if you have any questions, feel free to email or leave a comment on my YouTube Channel.



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Mountain Lion Server: Profile Manager Set Up

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In this screencast tutorial I cover how to set up the Profile Manager service. Profile Manager is a powerful MDM (Mobile Device Management) application that puts the power of enterprise servers in the hands of home users. Profile Manager is a great way to manage all the devices in your household like Macs and iOS Devices from a web browser. The beauty of Profile Manager is you can manage these devices from any computer or device that has a web browser so you don’t need to be at your server to manager your devices.

In this tutorial I walk you through the steps of setting up the service which includes Apple’s Push Notification Certificate and SSL Certificates for secure connections between your server and your other devices. In future screencasts I will walk through each of the features available to manage and customize on your devices.

If you have any questions, feel free to email or comment on my YouTube Channel.



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Mountain Lion Server: Open Directory

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In this screencast tutorial I cover how to set up Open Directory on Mountain Lion Server. Open Directory Service sets up a Network Directory or LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) which allows the set up of network accounts. This allows you to set up various services on MLS that require network accounts such as Profile Manager and home folders stored on the server that allow users to log into them on any computer in the network.

There are two ways to set up Open Directory in MLS. In this tutorial I walk through how to set up the service itself. It can also be set up by starting up Profile Manager, which checks to see if an Open Directory Master exists and if it doesn’t, then it walks you through the process of setting one up.

Let me know how you enjoy the screencast and feel free to email or leave a comment on my YouTube Channel if you have any questions or comments.



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Needs Obsession

Recently in my work with couples I have noticed this obsession that keeps many couples from growing a healthy marriage. It seems so logical at first that most would say, "What's wrong with that?" but looking at what it does to relationships tells me it is not a healthy focus. The focus I'm talking about is usually called by many couples "meeting my needs." Now on the face of it we would all say that we have an expectation that our spouse should meet our needs. After all there are books written on the subject of needs all over the place. Everyone recognizes that we all have needs. So why would I say that the concept of needs is causing problems in relationships?

The main thing I see for many couples is the focus on their own needs and more importantly how their spouse is failing to meet those needs. That blame then leads to resentment and a sense of entitlement. They start to feel like their spouse is not doing their job and begin to evaluate and rate their spouses performance when it comes to meeting needs. This just leads to greater disappointment and resentment and eventually the couple begins to move apart because their conversations turn to negotiations and lectures on needs and who is doing what in the marriage. In a twisted way we cause to happen what we suspected from the beginning. Since we assume our spouse didn't care, when we push them to do what we want them to, we drive them away. When they fail to engage we say to ourselves, "Ah-ha, see I knew you didn't care." Overtime each spouse starts to feel ripped off and criticized at the same time and distance is the natural result which only reinforces the idea that the other person is not meeting their needs. I've even had some people say that it feels abusive when their spouse ignores them or doesn’t meet their needs.

The problem in all of this is one of focus. Do we all have needs in a relationship? There is no doubt we do. Most times, however those needs are overblown. We call wants needs all the time and when we confuse the two it only creates more problems in a marriage. Everything you and I want is not necessarily a need and we need to be careful to make the right distinction between the two.

When it comes to true needs the problems come when I focus on what I need instead of what the other needs. This approach then makes me an evaluator of the other person's performance. It immediately develops a sense of entitlement in my mind and I start to have feelings of neglect and being ripped off. Compare this attitude to the one Jesus had. “..since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.” Just as Jesus did not demand that others serve him, even though he had every right to, we need to stop demanding that our needs be met and start to focus on our spouse. When I choose to focus on the other person and understanding my spouse more and the needs that my spouse has, I take the focus off the other person's performance and I begin to see the other person from a place of compassion and love. I am then more naturally able to respond to the other person's true needs and since I understand him/her better my responses more accurately hit the needs of my spouse. This in turn usually causes my spouse to want to return the gesture and you then start to have a better relationship where each of you is better able to meet each others needs occasionally. I say occasionally because rarely will you ever have every need in your life met all the time. We are not good at it as humans and since we are living in a fallen world where things don't work the way they should, we will always live with some sense of longing for more. There are needs that only God can fulfill in our lives and we have to be careful not to make our spouses the source of fulfilling those needs. It is impossible for them to do that and we are setting them up for failure.

The more we choose to look to the needs of our spouse, the more likely we will be to have most of our needs met. The more we choose to focus on what we feel we are not getting out of the relationship, the more we will feel resentment and cause our spouse to move away from us. The choice really is ours and where we choose to focus. If you are feeling ripped off in your relationship, take a look at your attitude and how much you are focusing on what you are not getting out of your marriage instead of focusing on how much you understand and meet the needs of your spouse. My guess is, your marriage reflects where you choose to set your focus.

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Mountain Lion Server: DNS

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In this screencast tutorial I cover how to set up and check the DNS of your server. DNS stands for Domain Name System and it is responsible for connecting an IP address to a particular name. For instance, every website like www.toddolthoff.com had a domain name like 192.0.0.0.0. That number is difficult to remember so that is why we use things like toddolthoff.com. Your DNS controls all the naming not only on your server but also the computers on your network. So if your DNS is off, your server will not function and you will have trouble getting your services to work.

In this tutorial I cover how to set up your DNS and how to check to make sure your DNS is working properly. If you have any questions feel free to leave them here or reply on my Youtube Channel.



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Mountain Lion Server: SSL Certificates

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In this screencast tutorial I cover SSL Certificates. SSL Certificates allow secure connections between computers keeping that communication safe from those who might want to get to that information. These secure connections are used by banks and other organizations that want to protect what is being transferred between their website and your computer. You can usually tell if a website is secure by the https in front of the web address (the “s” shows it is a secure connection).

In this tutorial I cover how to set up a self signed SSL Certificate for Mountain Lion Server to allow you to have secure connections with your server. This is required if you are going to use Profile Manager and is recommended for things like Calendar, Address Book, Mail, etc. I also cover how to integrate a third party verified SSL Certificate and how to get that certificate added to your server.

As always if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them here or on my Youtube Channel.



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Mountain Lion Server: Port Forwarding

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In this screencast tutorial, I cover how to set up port forwarding on your router. If any of the services you set up on your server are to be access outside of your home or work network, you will need to open up a port to the internet for that service. Your router serves as a hardware firewall that keeps people out of your home network. It is a great security tool but it also will keep you out of your home network if you try to login outside of your network. The router can open up secure “ports” or holes that allow you to use certain aspects of your sever while you are outside your network. In this tutorial I look at how to do that with an Airport Extreme Base Station from Apple and show how the Server App is a great and easy way to make that work. The great thing is your router no longer has to reboot every time a port change is made! For those of you without an Airport Extreme, you will have to open your ports manually. Here is a link to known ports for the various services available on your Server: http://support.apple.com/kb/TS1629. As always if you have any questions feel free to respond here or on my Youtube Channel.



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Mountain Lion Server: Network Configuration

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In this screencast tutorial I cover how to set up your network for Mountain Lion Server. Making sure you have your server with a permanent IP is important especially if you are using your server for DNS services. You also need to make a decision on how you will handle DHCP and whether your server or router will be giving out addresses to the devices on your network. In this tutorial I cover how to get these things set up so you are ready to enable the other services available on Mountain Lion Server. As always if you have questions or feedback, feel free to respond here or on my Youtube Channel.



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Mountain Lion Server: Install & Set Up

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In this screencast tutorial I cover how to do a clean install of Mountain Lion Server starting from an install of Mountain Lion. I walk through the whole install process and what it looks like to get your server up and running. If you are new to server and are wanting to try it out on your system, this tutorial should help you get everything up and running. I will be doing a full range of tutorials on all the features and components of Mountain Lion Server so watch for updates here on my blog or on my Youtube Channel. I usually put a new tutorial out every Friday so if you subscribe to my channel you will get updated when new tutorials are posted. If you have any questions feel free to respond here or on my Youtube Channel.



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Mountain Lion Server: Upgrade From Lion Server

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In this screencast tutorial I cover how to upgrade your server from Lion to Mountain Lion. I walk through the process of getting ready for the upgrade including making sure you keep a copy of your Mountain Lion install so you can use it later to create a USB bootable copy and to use it for Netinstall on your server. Having done the upgrade myself things seem to be pretty stable. There is a known issue with VPN and the interface with managing an Airport Extreme Router. If you get an error message related to your Airport Extreme and/or have problems with VPN, follow the directions on this Apple Support Article: http://support.apple.com/kb/TS4353?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US, which basically has you delete your airport password from Keychain Assess and relaunch your Server App. If you have any questions on the upgrade process feel free to leave a comment here or on my Youtube Channel.



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Guest Spot on ScreenCastsOnline

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This week I had the privilege of having one of my screencasts on MoneyWell shown on my favorite Mac tutorial site ScreenCastsOnline. Don McAllister who is the Host and Founder of the weekly screencasts was really one of the people who inspired me to do screencasts as a great way to educate people on how to use Apple Software. I started with my own YouTube Channel and started with screencasts for my family and friends and found others were interested in viewing the screencasts as well, especially the ones I have recently been doing on Lion Server. You can see my other screencasts at my YouTube Channel below or here on my site by clicking HERE.

YouTube Channel Videos


If you haven’t checked out ScreenCastsOnline and you are an Apple Computer user I highly recommend checking Don’s tutorials out as they are very well done and a great way to learn new ways to use your Mac. Click the screenshot below to check out my guest spot and to get a feel for the great service Don has to offer. Thanks for using my screencast Don and making it look even better to boot!

ScreenCastsOnline Guest Spot

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Home Server with Lion Server: VPN Server

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VPN is something many people are interested in having for their own security while connecting to outside wired and wireless networks. With concern over security and wanting the ability to connect to your home network as if your computer was on that network locally, make a VPN Server something that is nice to have when you are on the road. Lion Server gives a simple way to set up your own personal VPN Server so you can have this connection and makes it fairly easy to set up.

In this screencast I cover which VPN protocol to choose, how to set an IP Range for your VPN Server, and how to install VPN manually on a client machine. I also show you how to connect to your VPN from a client computer and how to end your VPN session without having to use System Preferences. Enjoy!



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Home Server with Lion Server: iChat Server

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In this screencast tutorial I cover how to set up your own personal iChat Server for your home server. We will cover how to set up and configure a jabber based chat server including server federation, limiting domains that can be chatted with, setting up the ichat server on clients, and how to enable auto buddy detection for the other clients on your network. Having your own personal iChat Server can be a great way to communicate and send things quickly to other members of your family. There are many other services out there but there is something about having a private and unified home messaging system. With Mountain Lion Server this will most likely change to include the iMessage application that Apple has been using for iPhones and other devices, which I will cover when the update comes out in July. But for now iChat is still a great way to communicate across all the computers in your home.



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Home Server with Lion Server: iCal Server

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In this screencast I walk through how to set up an iCal Server on your home server. I cover the basic set up of email notifications and resources, how to connect clients to your iCal calendar, how to add events to the calendar with resources, and the difference between individual and a shared family calendar and how to set them up. There are advantages and disadvantages to setting up your own calendar on server especially with iCloud and other calendaring services out there to handle the syncing of all of our calendars. But if you are looking for a way to have a great home calendar that everyone can be on that includes managing rooms and resources in your house, iCal Server is something you should check out!



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Home Server with Lion Server: Address Book Server

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In this screencast I cover how to set up your own personal Address Book Server using Lion Server. I talk about how to get the service started, how to add contacts to your new address book, and how to connect your client computers and users to your server so they can access and edit their contacts on your server. I also talk about the pros and cons of having one centralized address book for your whole family versus each person having their own address book and only having some contacts on a centralized address book. Let me know if you have any questions or comments below and feel free to share this on your social networks with the links at the bottom of this post.



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The Consequence of Character

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Today I read 1 Chronicles 3-5. The history of our life is usually determined by our actions and the impression we leave on the people we leave behind. How we choose to live our life not only has consequences for the present, but for our future and the future of the generations that follow us. We tend to have a short term view when it comes to the choices and decisions we make today. That perspective can cause us to think about what we think will make us happy now only to find out the downside is worse than any kind of happiness we may have gotten in the moment.

In the lineage of the tribes of Israel and Judah, each descendant is named in each of the tribes. The tribe of Reuben is mentioned not as the great tribe of the first born son of Jesse, but rather as the tribe that should have been the first born but was no longer considered that because Reuben lost his birthright to Joseph because he chose to sleep with his father’s concubine. So in a moment of passion that probably felt right to him (or he was able to rationalize away why it was wrong) he sinned and that sin which he probably felt was done in secret became a permanent mark on not only him, but on his family lineage as well.

When I think about the choices I have made in life that were based on how I felt in the moment instead of doing what I knew was right, those choices have had consequences, some obvious and some not. There is something to be said for consistency and building into our lives things that keep us from going the wrong path or doing the wrong thing. Having regular contact with God and not living in the dark or hiding small parts of ourselves is one way to build into our lives things that keep us on the right path. When I choose to do something else or let my mind be occupied with distractions, those things keep me from doing what I need to do to stay consistent. Sometimes apathy or doing what I feel instead of what I know I should do can be things that start me on the path towards sin. I must always keep in front of my mind what happens when people compromise or when they get lazy. Finishing well is not so much about what you have accomplished in life. Rather finishing well is about how you accomplished the huge task of living a life of character no matter what your accomplishments or achievements.

Lord, please help me to be a man of character. I would rather be steady in who I am and end this life as a man of integrity than to become famous and sought after and lose my integrity along the way. Please keep me sensitive to what I do and the impact it has on others. Amen.

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Home Server with Lion Server: Connect & Auto Mount AFP

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In this screencast tutorial I cover how to connect to the AFP shares we set up in the last tutorial. I show you how to connect both locally and remotely while on the road and also take a look at how to set up your AFP shares to auto mount so every time you start up your computer or login your favorite shares will automatically mount on your computer and be read for you to use. This comes in handy in a home server setting where a couple wants to share files that they both work on but don’t want to keep separate copies on both of their computers. This way they can be working not he originals and keep them in one place on the server. It also helps for the kids who can easily lose files or delete them by accident. This way they are located on the server and can be given permissions that don’t allow the kids to edit the files. Let me know what you think in the comments and be sure to share this video with your social networksHappy.



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Home Server with Lion Server: File Sharing & Home Folders

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In this screencast I cover how set up file sharing with Lion Server. One of the advantages of having a home server is the ability to share files with other people on your network and being able to access those files remotely from your server. In this tutorial I show you how to set up your users so they have permission to use the AFP file sharing protocol on your server so they can connect to those share points both locally and while they are on the road. I also cover one of the best features of Lion Server (especially for those with kids) and that is home folders. Home folders allow you to store a user’s home directory and all of their settings centrally on your server. The advantage of this is the fact that your kids can now log in to any computer on your network and have access to their stuff. No more arguing over who gets to use what computer! Let me know what you think in the comments below and be sure to share this video with anyone who might need it through your social networks.



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Misconceptions About Prayer

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When it comes to prayer many of us have learned different things at different times that have led to a lot of misconceptions about what prayer is. We pray in groups and feel the pressure to perform because in those settings we are not really praying to God but we are speaking to one another. In those times of prayer we are concerned with saying something profound or something that will actually have an effect in the lives of those we are praying with. Over time we get focused on the outcome and forget that prayer is about a relationship with God and our communication with him. As a result we develop different misconceptions about what prayer is about and it leads us to a place of not really wanting to pray or seeing the purpose of it. Here are a few of the misconceptions I have seen:

Quoting Scripture Leads to More Effective Prayers
One misconception is that quoting scripture in our prayers makes them more powerful or more effective. This misconception comes from how we have experienced group prayer. Have you ever noticed that we tend to all pray based on the way the first person who prays in a group starts? So if the person quotes scripture we think we have to too. Since most of us can only think of John 3:16 on the spot, we sit there trying to figure out how we can make that verse fit our prayer. If you have ever prayed with Pastors we tend to use scripture in our prayers from time to time. Because we see a Pastor using scripture we begin to feel like quoting scripture in our prayers is what makes them more effective. So we stress out over whether we know enough scripture off the top of our heads to use in our prayer life. This eventually leads us to a place where our prayers are dry and repetitive instead of from our hearts. There is no where in the Bible that says we have to use scripture in our prayers. We are asked to come to God with an open heart and have an honest dialogue with him. If we want to use scriptures in our prayers to remind us of who God is and what his promises are to us, fine. But those scriptures are for us not for him. He already knows what he said so we don’t have to feel like we need to quote scripture to him in order for him to hear our prayers.

Effective Prayers Lead to the Answer You Want
We have this idea that if we just learn how to pray right, our prayers will be more effective. “More effective” is usually code for getting what we want. We all want to pray knowing that God will answer those prayers in the way we want him to answer them. But we figure we need to perform the right kind of prayer to get the answer we want. So we look for ways to pray better and angles we can take to get what we want. We hear of “prayer warriors” who seem to be really effective in prayer and we want to be just like them. The problem with all of this is that prayer is not about getting what we want. Instead prayer is about a relationship with God and a desire to have our wills aligned with his. For most of us, we look at how Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane when he said, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26: 39). We take that to mean that we ask for what we want but then we hedge our bets by saying, “But God if you want to do something else then your will is ok too.” The reality is, Jesus was not hedging his bets or telling God he was ok with his will if he didn’t want to take the suffering away from him. He was really saying, “I want your will to happen no matter what. Since I am weak, please align my will to yours so I make sure I go through with the suffering ahead of me.” Effective prayer is ultimately about aligning our hearts and wills with Gods so much so that we stop asking for things that we want and starting praying for things that God wants.

As Long as I’m Thankful God Will Answer My Prayers
Some of us think that it is the attitude of our hearts that determine if God will do what we want him to or not. So we make sure we thank God for what he is going to do for us. In some way, we think that if we thank God ahead of time for something we want him to do he is obligated to do it out of politeness. After all, what are we thanking him for if he doesn’t come through and do it? We point to passages like Philippians 4 where it says in verses 6, “Be anxious for nothing but in everything with prayer and petition with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God,” and we figure that the passage is telling us to thank God ahead of time. The problem is, the word in that verse for thanksgiving is past tense. It literally means thank God for all the things he has already done. In doing this we can trust him more because we know he has been there for us in the past and will continue to be there for us in the future. Our thankfulness is a remembrance of who God is and what he has done and that is what leads to his “peace that passes all understanding.”

Get a Head Start on Praying for What You Need
Most of us are concerned with making sure our future is secure. There is nothing we can do to control the future so we worry about it and stress about it all the time. This spills over into our prayer life. We figure it takes a number of prayers for God to know we are serious so we better get a head start and pray and ask for everything we need for the future instead of always waiting until the last minute and hoping for a miracle. So we tend to pray “Costco Prayers” where we ask God for what we need for the month or year and then come back to him later for the next installment. Yet the Bible tells us that we are to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” In other words, we are to pray for what we need just for that day not for the whole month or year. The reason God asks us to do this is to remind us of our dependency on him. If we got everything up front we would only remember our dependency on God once a month or once a year. Instead we need to be aware of that dependency on a moment by moment basis.

Prayer is something that all of us struggle with from time to time. We have misconceptions about prayer that come from our experiences with public prayer and some of our own anxiety when it comes to the things we worry about in this life. But prayer really is a time of communicating with God and getting to know his heart so well that our very wills are aligned with his so that we are more concerned with doing what he wants us to do than getting him to do what we think is best.

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Home Server with Lion Server: Users & Groups

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One of the main reasons to have a server is to manage all of your devices and the users in your network. For home users this usually means your family and all the devices in your household. When setting up users in your household who will access the services you have available on your server you need to determine who needs what type of access and what services each person is allowed to access. So at home, you may want to limit the access your kids have to certain services like email, calendar, and maybe even some web services. You may want to give your spouse the ability to administer the server just in case you are not around to do it. Lion Server gives you the ability to set that up.

When managing multiple users it can be time consuming if you have to make changes on a per account basis, so Lion Server has the ability to set up groups that allow you to make changes to the group that filters down to all the users in that group. That way you can set up groups for your kids or other groups that allows you to make those changes once that will affect everyone in that group.

In this screencast, I cover setting up users and groups in Lion Server. I cover how to determine the difference between a local and directory account, how to add new users and set the right permissions for services, and how to use groups to make changes once that affect all the users in the group. Building on this in Part 7, we will cover how to set up home accounts on the server.



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Home Server with Lion Server: Profile Manager Set Up

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One of the best things about having a server is being able to manage the devices you have in your network from a centralized location. IT professionals have had the ability to do this for years but now with Lion Server, home users can now do the same thing with Profile Manager. Profile Manager allows you to manage all of your Apple computer, laptops, and iOS devices. Using profiles you can push changes to all devices at once, remotely wipe or reset devices, change passwords, and allow or restrict certain things.

In this tutorial, I cover how to set up Profile Manager. In the set up, Lion Server makes sure you have an Open Directory set up and your SSL Certificate in place (required for running Profile Manager). Open Directory allows you to manage global accounts and allows remote access as opposed to a local network directory which only allows local accounts. I am doing this tutorial early because Profile Manager sets up al the services required to run it without having to start each service separately. In a future screencast I will cover the web interface that is used to manage your devices and groups.



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Should I Date My Spouse?

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Dating is something of a lost art form in our society today especially as it relates to married couples. It seem like all the creative ideas, the things you see in movies, were gone the moment you said “I do.” We guys used all our good ideas to actually get our wives to say yes and set the bar so high for ourselves that we could never measure up on our best day. Our wives used to think we were the best thing since sliced bread and let us know about it both verbally and non-verbally in how they responded to us. There is something about getting into the regular rhythms of life that cause us to abandon one of the most enjoyable and fun parts of our relationship with one another. While we may never go back to the days of husbands who think they are poets and wives who actually think the poetry is any good, we certainly can revive the excitement of dating one another and making that time as important as any other appointment or activity in our lives.

Research shows that time together is one of the leading indicators of whether a marriage is going to survive or not so making time for one another is not a luxury you add from excess time you happen to find, it is a necessity if you want to have a healthy relationship. So what do you do on a date? What do you do together once you make the time?

Well I don’t pretend to have all the answers for every couple out there because we are all different. For some jumping out of an airplane together is fun. For other, more normal people, dinner is just fine. Whatever it is that you enjoy as a couple here are a few things to consider:

Pick a Regular Time and Block it Off Your Calendar
This whole dating thing cannot be something you get around to when you have time. Just like any other important appointment you would never miss for fear of getting fired or missing a huge opportunity, your date life needs to be a high priority. For Cheryl and I our date time is during the day on my day off while the kids are in school. It works best for us and is a time we look forward to. Figure out what works best for you and make it a recurring event.

Talk Together About What You Want to Do
Instead of putting the pressure on one person who has to determine all the details and might or might not get it right, talk together about what you want to do. If you like the idea of coming up with new things and really want to have one person take the lead, trade off each date time on who will plan the day. Whatever you do make sure you have time to talk and connect together. A date where you only face forward and never interact with one another is not a date. That is happening to have someone near you while you do something else. Make your date a time to connect. For Cheryl and I, we go to Starbucks in the morning and spend time talking together and usually go to lunch together. We leave the time in between flexible so we can decide what we want to do week to week.

Check in with One Another and Reconnect
In your date time together talk about life and use it as a time to catch up with one another. This is not a time to bring up all the things your spouse is doing to make your life miserable. That is not a date but an interrogation! This is a time to enjoy your time together and focus on the other person instead of what the other person can do for you. A few things you could ask each other would be:

-How has your week been?
-What are some of the challenges you are facing right now?
-What has God been saying to you lately in your time with Him?
-What things are you excited about?
-What plans do we need to make together as a couple?

These types of questions allow you to explore one another and enjoy talking together. Remember not to use questions to manipulate your spouse or lecture them. This is a time to enjoy one another’s company.

Do Some Kind of Activity Together
Explore some things you like to do together. It may be as simple as going out to eat all the way to bike riding together. Whatever it is pick something you both enjoy and find a hobby you can do together.

Kindle your Physical Relationship
I know just putting this one out there some of you just let out a cheer and some of you want to stop reading. I put this out there not to say that every date has to end with sex. In fact that would be the wrong reason to have a date if the whole thing is just a set up for sex unless you both agree that is where you are going. I put this out there because the physical part of many couple’s relationships is something that can be left unattended. Over time sex becomes less and less an expression of the relationship and more and more a looming expectation or an experience laden with fears of disappointment. Like anything else, sex is something that we need to be intentional about if it is to be an enjoyable part of our relationship. With so many misunderstandings and hurt feelings that can surround our physical relationships, talking about it and making time for it are vital. Sometimes just scheduling when you will have sex can take the pressure of guessing when the right time would be away and can create a great opportunity to connect. In a future article I will talk about how to talk about sex but for now, consider how you will tend your physical relationship together whether that is during your date time or not.

Hopefully this gives you a place to start in thinking about your dating relationship. Guys remember your wives like to be pursued and what you did to get her to say yes to marrying you probably would still work today. Ladies remember your husbands liked it when you showed that you appreciated them and what they did had an impact on you and doing the same today for your husband will have a profound effect on how he pursues you. Now get out there and start dating each other and remember why you fell in love with each other in the first place!

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Home Server with Lion Server: SSL Certificates

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If you are looking at accessing your server from a remote location or are going to have devices that access it from the internet, you will need to have an SSL Certificate set up. An SSL (Secure Socket Layer) Certificate is an encrypted connection from a remote computer to another computer. This encrypted line keeps people from “listening in” on your connection and allows your server an extra layer of validation.

In most cases you want an SSL Certificate from a trusted third party registrar who vouches for the identity of your server. You would want this type of certificate if you were hosting a business or a server that a lot of people from the outside world would be accessing. Since we are talking about a home server, the only people accessing your server are people in your household so you really don’t need to buy a certificate you can generate one within the Server.app which is called a self-signed certificate. This certificate still keeps your information secure and works just like a purchased certificate. The difference is that you will get a message when logging in the first time saying that the certificate is not validated by a third party and to make sure you know who generated the certificate. Once you check allow you won’t have to answer that question again and everything works behind the scenes.

In this screencast, I show you how to set up one of these certificates and get it installed on your server.



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Home Server with Lion Server: Port Forwarding

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In order to give your server and its services access to the internet, you need to make sure your router opens up access or “ports” to the internet so you can access those services over the internet. Opening this access is called “Port Forwarding” because it tells your router to forward certain traffic that comes in on a certain port to the proper service on your server. So your router serves as the gate keeper for all traffic in and out of your server as your router serves as a physical firewall keeping out traffic you don’t want to access your server. Thus, your router with port forwarding enabled allows you to access your server remotely over the internet while keeping others trying to access our server out unless they have been given access by you.

If your router happens to be an Airport Extreme Base Station, you can have Server App manage your router for you, making sure all the necessary ports are open and allow access to the services you have configured. If you don’t have an Airport Extreme or would like to do your own port forwarding, you can do this in the software that came with your router. It will usually be referred to as NAT (Network Address Translation) and will have a section for you to add ports that you want to open up. For Lion Server, you can see a list of ports it uses for certain services HERE. Below is a tutorial I put together that explains port forwarding and how to do it both in the Airport Utility that comes with the Airport Extreme Base Station and through the Server App in Lion Server.



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Home Server with Lion Server: Network Set Up

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To make sure your server will function properly you need to make sure you have the DNS of the server set up properly. You need your host name set up and configured, which means determining whether your server is local only or will be accessed on the internet and, if internet accessible, making sure your domain name points to the right external internet address of your router/server. To make sure that your server is accessible from both the internet and internally at the same address all the time, we need to make sure the server is assigned a static, or permanent, IP address. In most network settings there is what is called a DHCP server which distributes addresses to computers that come on and off the local network. The DHCP server works with a bank of addresses and makes sure no computers have the same addresses so everything runs smoothly. In most cases your router is the device that is distributing these addresses. Once a computer goes off the network that address could be used for another machine that is just coming on, so there is no guarantee that your server will get the same address every time your network goes down and comes back up, or your router reboots, or you reboot your server. This is where a static IP for your server solves this problem.

In this tutorial I walk you through the steps to assigning a static IP assigned to your server using an Airport Extreme Base Station. I also cover how to update the network settings on your server to make sure it is reading the right information. This is the second part of my home server tutorials and I’ll be following up with one on port mapping in the coming week.



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MoneyWell 2.0: Event Based Budgeting

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Budgeting is on one of those things most of us like to think we do but spend little time actually implementing it. If we do put a budget together we look at it after the fact and realize that we didn’t stick to it. For those serious about making budgeting a reality might use an envelope system of budgeting where their check is cashed and cash put in envelopes that represent their budget categories. Once the envelope is empty, you don’t spend any money in that category until the next check comes in. It is a physical way of keeping you from spending money you don’t have. The problem with that system in today’s world is the fact that everything is digital and it is difficult to keep on top of all of it. That is where MoneyWell 2.0 comes in. With MoneyWell’s event based budgeting system, built into the money management program, is the ability to set up buckets (the equivalent to envelopes) for each budget category and set up the amount each bucket has available to spend. From there you can monitor your money, just like you could with envelopes.

In this tutorial I cover the changes from version 1.7 of MoneyWell to it’s 2.0 version. I also cover the basics of using this software to set up a budget using an event based system which makes it far more flexible than the old version and saves a lot of time manually calculating what goes into each bucket category. I like the new system and think you will as well.



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Wrestling with the Soul

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“And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” Matthew 16:26

I have had several talks with people lately and been reading a lot about the care of our souls. So many of us are good at doing the work of ministry but struggle when it comes to actually being a good minister. We have this thing where we substitute our work for the actual relationship we have with Christ and this causes many of us to go down the road of burn out and fatigue in ministry. How do we get a handle on our internal lives to help us to serve from a place of being filled up?

It seems to me there are two things working at the same time. On the one had we have the issue of desire and on the other hand we have the issue of our identity. These two things need to work together if we are to live from of place of taking care of our souls.

Desire
The issue of desire is an interesting one. Many of us like the idea of having a close relationship with Christ but few of of us want to do the work required to actually have it. We talk all around it and even attend courses and events to learn about how to have it, yet when it comes to actually doing what is necessary to have that close relationship with Christ, we have excuses or substitute things we think are of equal value in its place. We tend to want to take the easy road to relationship when there is nothing that can replace actually spending time with someone to get to know them. I see a similar thing in many couples who come to me for counseling. They all like the idea of marriage and what they can get out of it, but few really want to put the work in to have the marriage they want. So they take short cuts and stop communicating and start complaining when things don’t go their way. They all come into counseling looking for a short cut around the hard work it takes to maintain a relationship. In our spiritual lives, we too take short cuts all the time and then wonder why we don’t have the relationship with Christ that we all so desperately want. If we are going to take care of our souls and grow in our faith, we need to develop the desire and then respond to it in our pursuit of relationship with Christ.

Identity
The other issue that creeps up in our lives and effects how we serve and minister to others is our identity issues. To maintain spiritual health we need to be anchored in such a way that our lives are not thrown around by the things that come our way. When we are in a place of complete trust and we are taking care of our souls, we handle things in life with a depth of character that only a settled identity could have. But because of the fall and our humanness we struggle with two sides of a vicious coin. On the one side we have insecurity that says my identity is wrapped up in what others think of me and pride which says I am always right and others need to recognize how great I am. We tend to fluctuate between these things when we are driven by anxiety or need to feel we matter. The insecure side is looking for others to validate us and when they don’t come through we claim to be victims of some wrong and sulk and manipulate to get some sense of self from others. On the flip side if we are prideful we assume others are wrong and we get cynical and critical when others can’t seem to get with the program and see things from our perspective and act in our timing which is always right in our eyes. Cynicism and feeling sorry for ourselves are sure signs our life is not balanced and we are not taking care of our souls. Our call is walk in the middle of those two things and hold them in check because we know our identity is not found in what others say about us or how smart we are. Our identity is in a relationship and that relationship is with Christ.

The more we pay attention to our desire and settle the issue of our identity we set the stage for a soul that can be cared for and grow. As we seek to be authentic people whose back stage is the same as their front stage we learn that living life the way God intended is not just the right thing to do, but the only way to live.

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Money Management with MoneyWell 2.0

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Managing finances can be a difficult thing with today’s complexities. Finding just the right computer software to help you with the task can be intimidating because there are so many titles out there. Most of the software out there really doesn’t help you manage your money. Instead it just becomes a fancy reminder of how badly you have managed your money and tells you where your money went instead of where it should go. In my search for good financial software, I came across a great software package called MoneyWell.

MoneyWell is not just a digital ledger for your finances, though it does that very well. It is also an envelope system at the same time. MoneyWell uses the analogy of buckets that you fill with money instead of envelopes. You set a budget based on your spending for different categories and MoneyWell lets you know how well you are doing against that budgeted amount. So you can actually see where your money is going instead of lamenting after the money is already gone. I have used this software for a few years now and I have really grown to love it.

Recently the developer of MoneyWell, Kevin Hoctor, put out a new update which changed the interface quite a bit. It really made it nicer to look at and updated it to the new Lion/iOS look and feel. Many people got upset and felt it was completely different and there was some uproar over at the Mac App Store about it. In and effort to show how the program is similar to old one and some of the things that have changed, I did this screencast. Hopefully it will help people to decide whether to upgrade or not. Personally, I like the new interface and some of the changes that were made. There are some things I would like to get back, but over all it has been a good upgrade for me.



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Home Server with Lion Server: Set Up & Installation

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As we get more and more sophisticated as home computer users and have more and more devices we have to manage as a result, the idea of a home server is becoming more and more attractive. Apple has recently made their industry grade server software very accessible for the home user with Lion Server. Deemed as “the server for everyone,” they have lowered the price from $400 to a $49 add on to your existing Lion Client install. They have also simplified the Server App interface and made set up relatively easy with assistants that do most of the work for you.

Still with all of the improvements, this is still a server package and as a result has some complexity to it over what you may be used to with your current client software. To help you through the process of setting up and installing a home server, I am doing a series of screencasts on Lion Server to walk you through the process. This tutorial includes thinking through hardware, setting up a domain name if you want to access your server from outside your home, initial installation, and setting up your host name. All of this is done from the perspective of adding Server to your existing lion install not a new computer set up.



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Recognizing Who is in Your Boat

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Today I read Exodus 39-40 and Mark 4:35-41. There is something incredible about the majesty and wonder of God. When we are in the presence of God and see him work in the situations in our lives, it silences all of our complaints and wonderings about why thing work the way they do. We need to spend more time in God’s presence so we experience more of his work in our lives.

I think its human nature to want to take short cuts. We want to find the easy way around things and look for the easiest way to get there. In our walk with God we want to experience his presence but we don’t want to do any of the work to make it happen even if the only work we have to do is spend time with him. We know it is a good thing to do but we want the miracles without any of the relationship. I think about the disciples who spent their whole lives with Jesus. They were constantly seeing miracles and hearing him teach. They saw him in his downtime and how he handled the stress of life. You would think at some point they would come to expect miracles out of Jesus. But again human nature gets the best of us and here they are in a boat in a storm. Jesus is sleeping peacefully and they are panicked over the waves and wind. I can only imagine what was going through their minds as they thought they might die on one hand and on the other, there was Jesus sleeping as if nothing was happening. I wonder if it ever crossed their minds that he knew something they didn’t or if they were just upset with him for not helping them do all they could to save their lives. Of course, then you have the other side with Jesus probably wondering, “When are these guys ever going to get it? They have been with me all this time and they still don’t get who I am. Can’t they even believe I have power over the wind?” I can picture their reaction after Jesus calms the wind. They were in awe, the novelty of having miracles happen in front of them never gets old. They may even have felt a little embarrassed over their panic and lack of faith.

In our lives we too struggle with the faith thing. We want to be near Jesus and now him well, but something in us doesn’t quite get it. We get caught up in the busyness of our lives and are focused on the waves and the wind that life brings our way and seem to forget we have Jesus in our boat quietly waiting for us to recognize he is there. When he does do miracles in our lives, we are in awe and thankful but we quickly forget when the next set of waves comes our way. We say we believe and know who Jesus is, yet we live as if we really don’t believe that. What does it cost to spend a little time with him everyday? A half hour more sleep in the morning? A little less TV at night? What is a relationship with him worth?

Lord, thank you for your presence in our lives. Forgive me for the times when I forget you are in my boat. Help me to live out my faith and do more than just say I believe. Please help my family through the current storm we are facing with Tyler and please free his mind. Amen.

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Overcoming Patterns of Conflict in Marriage

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In my work with couples I have found that we tend to follow certain predictable patterns when we allow our relationship to drift or get out of control. We all want to experience happiness and closeness in our marriages. None of us married our spouse because we wanted to learn how to fight better or because we wanted to work on patience. We genuinely thought this person would make us happy and we thought we would be happy together. Happiness is not a bad thing. In fact if you got married for any other reason there is something wrong. But when we make our happiness dependent on what the other person does and allow that person’s actions to dictate our mood, we have set up unrealistic expectations that are bound to lead to anger and despair.

Typically what happens in most relationships is the man pursues the woman to the point where they get married. He is the most charming man in the world and does things he normally wouldn’t have done all in the name of love. Once they get married, he thinks that his life just goes on as it used to with the addition of a wife in the picture. He doesn’t really think much in his life will change and, in fact, he is off to the next thing he feels he needs to pursue like a career. The woman has bigger plans for the relationship. She sees a man that she can talk with and relate with and feel safe with. Someone who will always cherish her and someone she can trust. During the dating phase she is caught up with this man who always thinks of her, is thoughtful, talks to her, and makes her feel safe. She admires and respects him and let’s him know it not only by what she says but in how she even looks at him. She knows her life will change when they get married and she abandons everything to put her attention on the marriage.

Once they get married these expectations hit reality and things don’t seem to work like they thought they would. The wife suddenly feels like she went from first place to somewhere down the list. While she wants to spend every minute with him, he wants space. So she pursues thinking that something must be wrong. He interprets the pursuit as her trying to control him or smother him so he withdraws to create space. She pursues even more because his withdrawal confirms for her that something really is wrong and he’s just not willing to talk about it. They might start to argue over things that don’t matter. He feels he can’t win a fight so rather than engage he starts to play the silent game where he communicates he is mad non-verbally but won’t engage in the discussion figuring he can’t lose if he doesn’t play. She starts to feel more insecure in the relationship because she has no idea what is happening in his head. Since he won’t talk she starts to be more critical of him which gets him mad but she figures bad engagement is better than no engagement at all. He takes the criticism as disrespect which causes him to withdraw even more. His withdrawal makes her feel insecure. Eventually he has completely checked out and she hates his guts for making her feel that way. So how does a couple get past this point?

In every marriage it takes two to cause an argument or a conflict. It really doesn’t matter who started it or who each feels is more at fault. Bottom line there is no perfect anyone in a marriage. If a couple is to move past this crazy situation there are a few things they need to consider:

Get Control of Your Mood
As I stated earlier, it is important that your mood is not dictated by your spouses behavior. If you tie your mood and how your respond to your spouse or your interpretation of how they act, you will feel bad more than you will feel good. Feels are not a good gauge of reality and to make someone else responsible for how you feel is a totally unfair situation that will only set you and your spouse up for disappointment. Feeling happy should not be the main goal. Connectedness is what you should be after and connectedness can only be developed when both parties own their own mood and responses.

Pinpoint Your Part
It is easy for each of us to point out what the other person is doing wrong. We are experts on our spouses failures. Yet when it comes to labeling our part most of us tend to struggle. Or, if we do admit we did something wrong, it always seems minor compared to what we claim our spouse has done to us, as if it is a scoring system. The reality is, there is no conflict without two people doing something wrong. The sooner you are able to label your part, the sooner you will be able to move towards a solution because your attitude and behaviors are really the only thing you can control. So know what your part is.

Seek Forgiveness
Be the first one to admit your wrong, label it, express your regret, and ask for forgiveness. The fastest way through an impasse is when one party is quick to admit, confess, and seek forgiveness for their part. When was the last time you said, “I’m sorry” and meant it?

Gain Empathy
The more you see the cycle you and your spouse have gotten into, the better you are able to have empathy for your spouse instead of blaming your spouse for all the things that have gone wrong. Just as you have been caught up in the cycle so has your spouse. The more you are able to see those things, the better you will be able to have empathy for your spouse and give him/her the benefit of the doubt. When we give our spouses the benefit of the doubt we create an atmosphere of understanding which causes us to draw near one another instead of apart.

Choose to Engage in a Positive Way
This is probably one of the more difficult things to do. The husband needs to stop disengaging for fear of being criticized or “losing” the fight and start engaging his wife in order to bring back a sense of security that she needs to move towards him. This won’t be easy and won’t even be believed at first. But if you choose to be consistent and engage, you will have more opportunities for positive things to happen than if you take your ball and go home because you don’t feel you can win. The wife must stop trying to make her husband into what she thinks she needs to be secure by pointing out all of his failures and choose to see the things in him that she can respect and point those out. Realizing that your happiness is not dependent on your spouses reaction and choosing to look and speak to him the way you did when you were dating, will cause him to want to draw near to you.

Conflict in marriage is something every couple that has ever walked this earth has experienced. It is not the end of the world, nor is it a sign that the relationship is in trouble. How we handle that conflict and how we choose to interact with one another is where most marriages get into trouble. If husbands would truly understand their wives needs for security and work hard to make her feel secure in the marriage, their wives would be their biggest supporters and their conversations would be richer. If wives would understand their husband’s need for respect and look for ways to speak into his life through that language and choose to define him by his successes instead of his failures, their husbands will be drawn to them. When this happens you have a marriage that is not perfect, because no one is perfect, but one that is connected.

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Slink: Remote Computer Management

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One of the things I am constantly having to do is fix my relatives computers. I am the resident computer guy so they all naturally come to me for help. Now I don’t mind helping and I actually enjoy it in some ways, but it can be extremely frustrating when you can’t actually see the screen of those you are trying to help. Because my relatives are spread out all over the country, I am not able to sit with them to help them resolve their computer issues. If you have ever tried to help someone on the phone and walk them through what to click to fix the problem, you know how frustrating that can be. Well I’ve found a program that has helped me to support my family that is cheap and works extremely well and it’s a program called Slink.

Slink is a remote computer management program that is simple to use. You install the main management component on your computer. Then you install a small preference pane program on each of the computers you want to manage. You only pay for the management component which is currently $19.99 US in the Mac App Store. Once this is all set up, you add your relatives computers to your computer list and connect to those computers with a unique code that each has. Once you have those computers added, you only have to click the computer you want to connect with from a menubar drop down, plug in their password, and you are all set. The cool thing is it sets your computer up as if you are on the local network of the computer you are trying to help. That way you can share the screen and connect to any of the bonjour services that your relative may have running on their computer, including iTunes home sharing and iPhoto sharing.

It really is a neat package. I did a screen cast walkthrough on it which you can view below. The developer Olof is a really great guy and offers excellent support. If you are the IT department for your family you will find this tool indispensable!

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iTunes Match Part 4-Troubleshooting

In this screencast I go over some things you can try to get some of your uploaded files to match. Since Apple doesn't tell us what they use, we can only guess at some of the things that might make a match happen. Based on some research on what some have reported as working for them, I show how to change metadata and song length in an attempt to move a song from uploaded to matched. I have had limited success with this, but since I have had a few songs work, I thought I would share this just in case you have a few songs you really want to try to get matched. If you have any other suggestions of things to try or something that has worked for you, leave a comment in below and if I can get it to work I'll try to do another screencast on it.

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iTunes Match Part 3-Upgrading Your Music

In this screencast I cover how to upgrade your music to iTunes Plus 256kbps. We also cover a way to determine which songs in your library need to be upgraded and I walk you through how to get all of your iTunes Match music on other computers for streaming or downloading.

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iTunes Match Part 2-Understanding Your Match Results

Here is another screencast I did on iTunes Match. In this screencast I cover how to see your match results and determine what was matched, uploaded, or ineligible. We also talk about how to begin to troubleshoot some of the issues in iTunes Match. In a future screencast we will cover how to upgrade your songs and some techniques for getting some of your unmatched songs to match. Enjoy!

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Taking Care of Our Souls

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I’ve just started reading a book by my friend Lance Witt entitled Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul. In the opening chapter of his book, he has a sentence that I think summarizes the issues most of us deal with when it comes to our spiritual formation. He says, “Having talked to some whose ministry has come crashing down around them, I can tell you the convergence of outward success, self-deception, soul neglect, and relational isolation creates the perfect storm for disaster.” These four things are important things for us to keep in mind as essentials when it comes to thinking about our own spiritual growth as leaders.

Outward Success
There is something about us that causes us to want to be successful in life. There is nothing wrong with doing our best and striving towards goals we have set in our lives. We are called to be good stewards of the things God has given us. The problem comes not when we do all we can to do our best to use the gifts God has given us. The problem comes when we actually start having success and begin to believe that we are the source of that success. When you and I get to this place we begin to believe what others tell us about ourselves and pride starts to set in. When that happens, we start to drift away from our close relationship with God because our ego has no need for any kind of dependence on anyone or anything. Meanwhile, our soul and character begins to be neglected and our interior life doesn’t have the strength to support the weight of our exterior life. When this happens we are set up to find some kind of relief from the pressure that success brings and many end up doing things that end our ministry. We have got to get beyond measuring how well we are doing by the numbers and successes of the things we do in the ministry and start to measure our success by our reflection on those successes and failures we have in ministry and how we have grown in and through each experience. The more our focus is on our interior life, the more we will have the character to handle the successes in our exterior life.

Self-deception
We all have a propensity towards fooling ourselves. There is something about the fall that allows us to talk ourselves into anything right or wrong. None of us likes to admit weakness or failure so we excuse those things away and don’t choose to work on what is most important. Without ruthless honesty about who we are and where we are at, we will never be able to truly grow to become more like Christ. It is in moments of self deception that we hide pieces of our lives in the dark corners of our soul and don’t want to shine a light in those directions for fear we might be exposed or look bad in front of others. The reality is, however, that the more we actually live in the light and let our weaknesses and dark spots show, that we actually experience the freedom and peace that we are all after in this world. The more I work to hide what is going on in my life, the more I get caught in playing a role and create more stress and tension in my life because I now have to remember and juggle this person who is not naturally who I am. I have talked with many people who have thought their sins where too great for anyone to know and that people would hate them if they knew what they were struggling with. These same people, when they chose to stop deceiving themselves and put their dark corners into the light, experienced a level of acceptance and grace that they never thought they would experience. Most people admire leaders who are transparent more than they do leaders who seem to be perfect. As humans we have a built in meter that tells us someone can’t be as perfect as they are presenting and we look for ways to expose it. If you hide in self deception, you will be found out eventually, and as you wait to be exposed, your life is filled with stress.

Soul Neglect
It is so easy in ministry to neglect our souls. We are so busy with the work of the ministry that we talk ourselves into thinking the work of the ministry is the same as taking care of our souls. When I was going into seminary I remember my dad telling me something that literally saved my soul. He said not to think that my study in class was a substitute for my time with God. He said if I didn’t take care of my soul and build my relationship with God I would end up dry and discouraged. I took his advice and was able to come through seminary ready for ministry. I knew plenty of other guys who didn’t heed that advice and burned out before they even got started. As leaders, we need to remember that our soul needs to be filled up and our relationship with God is the single most important thing to keep in tact as we seek to minister to others in His name. Neglect your soul and you have just hurt your congregation more than anything else.

Relational Isolation
This one issue is one of the biggest reasons leaders, and really any human being, fall. When we have no one in our lives to speak truth to us and to help us see ourselves and our choices from the perspective of reality rather than our well crafted rationalizations, we really are vulnerable. There is something about us as leaders that causes us to shy away from true relationships. We tend to believe the lie that people want a leader who has no faults and therefore we need to keep our distance from people if we are to keep our image up and ultimately our job. There is also a prideful side that causes us to think that we are the one’s who have arrived or are further along than the people we lead so we really don’t need the same level of accountability as the people we lead do. When we buy this lie we are missing out on an important aspect of how God created us. There is something about community that God built into everyone of us. He wants relationship with us and asks that we have relationship with others. When we are relationally isolated we literally lose something that God intended for each of us to have. When we lose that sense of connection and have no one who can see our lives and speak into them, we have no way of knowing how we are doing spiritually and can end up in a place where we talk ourselves into doing the wrong things for what we perceive as rational reasons. We all need the support and the accountability relationships bring if we are to grow as followers of Jesus Christ. Isolate relationally and that need to connect will come out in dysfunctional ways.

As we look at how to help one another to take care of our souls and to grow our lives and characters to look more like Jesus Christ, we have to look out for the things that can do the most damage. If we don’t manage our outward success, self deception, soul, and relationships our impulses and exterior pressures will manage us and drive us to a place of dryness and vulnerability. But the more we manage our souls and choose to live in the light in relationship with others the more we will experience the growth and stability we need as leaders and followers of Christ.
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Saying "I'm Sorry"

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We all have been taught at one time or another in our lives that we need to say we are sorry. We are told that when we do something wrong we need to admit it and then seek to make it right with the person we have offended. This act of confession & making a relationship right is something that was established long ago. In the Old Testament we see the importance of admitting a wrong and making it right. Leviticus 5:5 says, “when anyone becomes aware that they are guilty in any of these matters, they must confess in what way they have sinned.” Not only are we to confess our sin we are to do it from a heart that truly understands the pain that was caused. David in the Psalms confessed his sin in many different circumstances. He says, “I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.” When was the last time you were actually troubled over what you did wrong? So true confession is a process of understanding the depth of what I have done wrong. It is almost common sense to anyone you talk to, yet when it comes to adult relationships we struggle to actually admit anything we did was not for a good reason regardless of how much it hurt the other person.

In marriage confession and forgiveness is a huge key to building and maintaining an intimate relationship. Who wants to be married to someone who believes they are never wrong and seems to be an expert at pointing out every time you are wrong? Yet that is how many of us live and act in our marriages. We are experts on our spouses short comings and failures and we are blind, or at least feel we have good reasons, for our own failures. So rather than drawing our spouse towards us we become the source of pain that pushes our spouse away, which we then point out as one of our spouses problems that needs to be fixed. If we are to have intimacy in our marriage we need to put into practice what we were taught as a kid and what we teach our own kids today.

Confession: Admitting When You Are Wrong

Confession is something that few of us like to practice in our society because it puts us in a one down position and we don’t like to be seen as failing at anything. We know we are not perfect, but we really don’t want someone else to know it because we feel it puts us in too vulnerable of a position. After all, we have good reasons for why we did what we did. Those reasons usually have to do with something the other person did that “caused” us to respond the way we did. So rather than confess anything or admit we are wrong, we feel at some level our spouse deserved what he/she got which causes us to feel a sense of being vindicated or that our actions where somehow just given the circumstances. The reality is, we are rationalizing our behavior and selling the intimacy we could have in our marriage for the cheap imitation of feeling superior to our spouse or getting even. If we are to grow close to our spouse we have to admit when we are wrong.

There are some who do confess when they are wrong, usually after it is so obvious to anyone who looked at it or because we want to hurry up and get past the conflict. So we confess quickly with little or no feeling or heart put into it, almost like we are demanding the other person move on, like we did when we were made to do it as kid. The motivation is not to truly understand our wrong and make the relationship right. That would feel like rubbing our noses in what we did wrong. Instead we just want to move on from the incident as quickly as possible. The result is usually our spouse questioning whether we really are sorry or not responding in the gracious way we felt our apology warranted. Then we get mad all over again, this time at the fact that our spouse won’t move on as quickly as we think he/she should and we start the argument all over again, this time with more ammunition about how our spouse has no grace. This game we play with confession and forgiveness only reinforces the fact that too many of us are out to be right instead of being intimate. We want intimacy but without any kind of cost. The reality is that you cannot have intimacy without being willing to be vulnerable. If you are unwilling to be vulnerable, the best you can have is proximity.

How to Seek Forgiveness
True confession and forgiveness, starts with a true realization of how I have wronged my spouse. It is not just to get over the situation or to quickly move on from an argument so I can sleep at night or move on to my next thing knowing I have resolved the conflict. Instead it is truly feeling how it must have felt to be my spouse when I offended him/her.

From that heart I confess and admit my wrong to let my spouse know I understand the pain I caused and I am truly sorry for the way I hurt him/her. Then I ask for forgiveness and wait for my spouse to respond. He/she may not be ready to forgive me and that is ok. I need to give the time and space for my spouse to process the event in his/her own way. It is important to never confuse forgiveness with reconciliation. Forgiveness can be given but that does not mean that everything is back to normal instantly. Forgiveness is not the ultimate do over. There was still pain and there is still a cautiousness that results that needs to be worked through for true reconciliation to happen. The pain we cause our spouse has consequences and those consequences usually have to do with the time it takes to recover to a place of full reconciliation and intimacy. But without confession and forgiveness, true reconciliation cannot happen.

So when you have wronged your spouse, even if your spouse wronged you in the process. Take some time to consider your part, confess your part to your spouse and ask for forgiveness, In doing so you demonstrate your commitment to him/her, empathy for their pain, and you start a process of reconciliation that leads to greater intimacy.
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