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Ask Steve Herrod Your Own Question

Steve Herrod
Steve Herrod, Mac Support Specialist
Category: Mac
Satisfied Customers: 3281
Experience:  OSX certified, many years experience supporting Apple Hardware & Software
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What are the steps/settings needed to seamlessly integrate

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What are the steps/settings needed to seamlessly integrate my mac 'ecosystem'? I want to have my mac mini, airbook, iphone4s, iPad mini and apple tv networked via my airport extreme in a way which keeps everything 'on the same page'. I am running mountain lion on the laptop & mini. In a perfect world, I'd like my laptop have access to the same data when it is networked via wifi here at home, as well as while I am traveling. Thanks.


PS I also have a first generation apple tv sitting here that i have no idea what to do with, as well as an old-ish iMac. Is there anyway to utilize these items to bolster my "ecosystem"? I am already backing everything up online via back blaze - but could the old imac be used as a server? 


Steve Herrod :

Hi, I'll be happy to help with this

Steve Herrod :

in theory as everything is running a common platform it should be possible to create this as a seamless environment

Steve Herrod :

do you know what OS the old iMac is running

Steve Herrod :

and also the iPhone4s and iPad mini - are they both running iOS 6?

Steve Herrod :

Cheers

Steve Herrod :

Steve

Customer:

Steve - I owe you an apology. I am sorry I have not responded, but when I first posed this question, i was dealing with someone else, so I didn't realize you had been assigned the case. lomg story short, I messed up, and I apologize. The old mac is mountain lion. the iphones & ipad are ios 6. one apple tv (currently connected is 3d gen, the other one is 1st gen. I have also added a g-raid 4TB external ard drive. Things seem to be working pretty well, although last night I got an error message telling me i didn't have administrator privileges to work with a folder in the g-raid.

Customer:

again, my apologies for not getting back to you sooner.

Steve Herrod :

no problem - will get onto that today as well

Customer:

take your time. I know I am asking a lot, and I appreciate your help.

Steve Herrod :

cheers!

Customer:

ugh. don't mention alcohol. too much last night for the patriots game.

Steve Herrod :

ah - say no more!

Customer:

pray for me. ttyl.

Steve Herrod :

will do!

Steve Herrod :

Ok - have looked over everything and guess the easiest thing to work out first is whether you have any need of the Apple TV

Steve Herrod :

to play iTunes content (as well as local content) onto a TV screen

Customer:

hey - not to complicate things any further - but i just downloaded OS-X Server. I am not goping to touch it, but i do like the idea of creating my own VPN. For security purposes, and for travel. just an fyi.

Steve Herrod :

if you have an Internet enabled TV then the Apple TV is probably not needed - guess it depends on how much video/media content you have in iTunes

Steve Herrod :

OSX Server would be interesting

Steve Herrod :

you could easily use the iMac as a server and install it there

Steve Herrod :

would give you more control over files etc and allow the VPN connectiviy

Steve Herrod :

this would be one way of having documents accessible from any location

Steve Herrod :

although you would need to ensure VPN client connectivity for the iPhone & iPad

Steve Herrod :

the more straightforward way would be to use a cloud based storage medium

Steve Herrod :

either iCloud, Google Drive, Skydrive or Dropbox could serve this purpose and all have apps and utilities for each system

Steve Herrod :

so you could modify and access documents from any device in any location

Steve Herrod :

the only issue with these systems is whether you are happy with the companies which run each of these systems, or with effectively handing over data

Steve Herrod :

personally I'm not too worried about the documents I have stored in the cloud but dependent on content this could be a concern

Steve Herrod :

Let me know

Steve Herrod :

Cheers

Steve Herrod :

Steve

Customer:

I already use icloud, dropbox etc in various capacities. mostly for sharing files with other people, or making them accessible to myself when I am not at home. But i'd like to create a very "closed loop" as far as sharing my files between my devices goes. I live in a condo. A few days ago I was pairing a bluetooth device to my laptop when I saw the name of a neighbor's bluetooth devices in my list of sharable devices. that scared me. i don't want any holes in my little 'ecosystem' which might allow someone to peer in. I'm thinking, hoping, that a vpn will provide me with a self contained system with only one hole - the wireless link between my hardware and my wireless router, which I will encrypt the heck out of. Does that make any sense at all?

Steve Herrod :

Yes it does - given that scenario then an encrypted wireless/VPN connection is the best bet

Customer:

ok. that's what we need to set up. thanks. ttyl.

Steve Herrod :

Yes - what model router is being used and who is the Internet Provider?

Steve Herrod :

Cheers

Steve Herrod :

Steve

Customer:

airport extreme, version 7.6.1. Comcast.

Customer:

Hey, what is the best way to do this? should I schedule a time to do a chat session with you and finish up this project? i feel like I am a bad "customer". Please let me know how you would like to proceed.

Steve Herrod :

You're certainly not a bad customer - let me work out the VPN settings and will update you later.

Steve Herrod :

am generally working between 6AM and 7/8PM EST

Customer:

ok. i have installed the server and set up the basics. the vpn still eludes me however. as to my other question, regarding devonthink, hopefully i closed that and left you a tip. that wasn't a fair question, too many steps involved. let's just get my home network & vpn up and running and secure. thanks again for your patience.

Steve Herrod :

yes - saw that

Steve Herrod :

thank you :)

Steve Herrod :

made some notes on the devonthink setup so will upload those later as well

Customer:

ok - so now - should i "save and exit'?

Steve Herrod :

yes, save and exit

Steve Herrod :

you should get an e-mail when I put the next update in

Steve Herrod :

so on the VPN side of things

Steve Herrod :

when you load up OSX Server

Steve Herrod :

you should have Server Admin?

Steve Herrod :

if so, load that up and then choose Settings

Steve Herrod :

make sure VPN is enabled

Steve Herrod :

then in the left hand sidebar, select VPN

Steve Herrod :

and on the L2TP tab you can set the IP range for VPN clients

Steve Herrod :

I would set this as being towards the end of whatever IP address range you currently use

Steve Herrod :

so as there is no clash with home and VPN IP addresses

Steve Herrod :

the Shared Secret at the bottom can be as secure a password XXXXX you wish

Steve Herrod :

you can then click on Client Information

Steve Herrod :

and verify that DNS servers are listed there

Steve Herrod :

If so, you can then press Save

Steve Herrod :

and the VPN service will be up and running

Steve Herrod :

the next step would be to configure a client machine

Steve Herrod :

if you go to System Preferences-->Network

Steve Herrod :

then hit the + button

Steve Herrod :

create a name for the service

Steve Herrod :

type is L2TP

Steve Herrod :

then, with the VPN connection created

Steve Herrod :

you will need to add the publicly available IP address for your server

Steve Herrod :

(we might need to come back to this bit)

Steve Herrod :

and a user account name

Steve Herrod :

I would set up a specific account on the OSX Server

Steve Herrod :

for VPN use

Steve Herrod :

and then click Authentication settings

Steve Herrod :

choose Password XXXXX enter the account name password

Steve Herrod :

and Shared Secret and enter the shared secret key

Steve Herrod :

and then the client is ready to connect to the VPN

Customer:

thanks Steve, but I think I am in a little over my head here. I tried to do what you said, but I just don't have the skills. This is something I think I need someone to come over here and do for me. if i keep at this, I'm gonna screw the pooch and the next thing i know i'll be looking at the blue screen of death. thanks again for your help.

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