Have you ever wanted to see a Computer Geeks Desk? I have to admit that it is not anything fancy. I don’t have anything expensive to show off. No latest Macbook Pros. No Purple M1 iMac. Not even unnecessary LED lights on the mouse and keyboard. Just the tools of the trade for repairing Macs and Linux.
Only one mouse and Keyboard!
With four computers on my desk, all running different operating systems having a keyboard and mouse for each computer would be a nightmare.
Remote using SSH
Raspberry Pi are all headless (Meaning they are not connected to a monitor). I remote in using SSH. For those who are not techy, these is the lines of code that you see in the movies when a computer expert or hacker is trying to do something technical. This will allow me to control more than one Raspberry Pi at the same time. This is useful when I give one command like “Run Spider over _______ Website”. Then asking another computer to download all the latest Security updates. It looks something like this when I run software updates using the command “sudo apt-get updates”
It is easier than it sounds. In fact, there are many times where I can do things faster using the command line on my Macbook Pro than I can use a mouse.
Macs sharing the same mouse and keyboard using KeyPad
Not too long ago I wrote an App review on the software called KeyPad that allows me to share my mouse and keyboard over Bluetooth.
Voice control using Mycroft AI & Siri
I never thought that I would use voice control till I opened this shop. I have to say that it is very useful. I’m still trying to decide if I like Mycroft of Siri better. There will be more blog posts about using Voice Assistants later.
Even though I’m really good at computers and can keep them running I always have a backup. ALWAYS! I have three backups.
- Time Machine Backup showed in the Picture. Backs up Daily
- Time Machine Backup over the network (Not shown)
- Disk Image (Not Shown)
I have three kinds of backups because I have my life’s work on these computers. I if my computer was to be stolen or damaged in a fire I could be up and running hours after I get a new computer and be missing nothing. I’m even going to be getting a fireproof safe to store hard drives (We have a service where I can keep an off-site backup in my safe for you …just in case)
A disk image is a type of backup that is not very convenient to do…However, it is powerful when in case one of my experiments gets out of control. Developing Automated tasks, researching malware & testing repair techniques hold a risk of losing your data. (Even when you take precautions like virtual environments and test machines)
A disk image is done anytime I’m about to test something. This way if something goes wrong I restore back to that point in time.
More than one Operating System
Yes, I’m an OSX guy. However, there are some tasks that operating systems like Linux, Parrot OS and Raspian are better suited. I have my mac to boot into the different OS to suit the task at hand. On my desk, I’m currently running the following operating systems.
I always need a copy of the latest version of Mac OS running somewhere. Not only do I need it for testing but I need to know everything about it. I need to know every quirk every bug and every hiccup an Apple computer may have. And I need to know it before my customers encounter it.
Ubuntu is a very popular form of Linux. I use is almost as much as I do OSX. The good thing is when using the command line they are so similar that 80% of the commands are exactly the same. I also use Ubuntu for my programming (Python, Bash) as the OS was set up with developers in mind.
Parrot OS is a form of Linux for cybersecurity. Yes, this is “Hacking Software”. Yes, I can hack your wifi but no I’m not going to do it. I never use this software on anyone unless they are asking me to test their security. I mostly use this software to educate people on why they need better passwords. I also use it to investigate scams, malware & cybersecurity threats.
I don’t use this version of Linux for everyday stuff at it is so locked down for security it would be like driving a Tank to pick up groceries.
So no … Not going to be hacking anyone anytime soon. but if you think your mac has been hacked I can help.
Older versions of OSX
People still have older versions of OSX running on their MacBooks and iMacs. Though the operating system is so similar that most people can’t tell them apart, they do have minor differences that are important enough for me to keep copies around for testing.
Sometimes you need to run two operating systems at the same time on the same computer. Well I do anyway. This is where Virtual Box comes in. This software makes it so I have a computer inside a computer. This comes in handy when I am attempting to study malware that has infected a mac without actually infecting my Mac.
I also use Virtual box for when the scammers call. I record their conversation and allow them to remote into one of my Virtual box images. They can’t actually cause any harm to my computer and it gives me a chance to study them. If I have a better understanding of their techniques, I can use that information to develop a better class to teach seniors how to avoid scams in the first place.
The other stuff
So small stuff that does deserve to be mentioned is the matt that I have on my desk is set up to help reduce static discharge that can harm a computer during a repair. Many computer techs ignore this danger for some reason … but not me.
UV Lamp for sanitation is used daily to help sanitise all my equipment after repairing someone’s Mac Computer, iPhone or Android device. We also use the standard rubbing alcohol for service sanitation just in case.
Wacom Tablet for Digital painting, Photo editing and Video editing.
External Drive mount for recovering data off dead Mac hard drives.
OK .. there I’m done! As you can see there is not a whole lot that is fancy about my desk. However, it does the job nicely. I’m going to be starting to add a few “Internet of things” to my desk and when I do I will let you know. I might show off my workbench I use for Mac Repairs in the next post.