How to use dictation on your Mac

Once again, I am in a place where I can’t work directly with my servers to test the NetInstall steps and images, so... we’ll take a brief detour here to take a quick look at your Mac’s built-in dictation features.

I can hear you now

You may think you have to wait for Siri to appear in macOS Sierra before you can talk to your Mac, but your Mac already has a way to listen to everything you say and to turn what it hears into text. You can enable this feature, which supports over 30 languages and many more dialects, using the Dictation & Speech preference in System Preferences.

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Customizing a NetBoot image

Important: It was noted by a reader last week that in El Capitan you need to bless a NetBoot server in order to use it. If you cannot start your Mac from your server perform the following task:

  1. Restart your client Mac from the Recovery Partition (Command-R)
  2. Open the Utilities menu and select Terminal
  3. At the command line type:
    csrutil netboot your server’s IP address
  4. Restart your computer and start up from your server image

Over the last several weeks you’ve created and started MacsNetInstall, NetBoot, and NetRestore images using the basic settings available in the System Image Utility’s image assistant. Next we’re going to create a custom NetBoot image, which we’ll use to create images containing pre-configured settings.

Last time we did this we created NetBoot images using an image created using AutoDMG, this time we’ll use the Customize button in the System Image Utility. You should note that some of the options you’ll see using the Customize button are also available when using the Assistant, but you have more options when creating a customized image.

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QuickBooks Self-Employed: A much-improved business finance app

I’m away on vacation this week and too far away from my servers to make our last two NetInstall episodes work, so this week we’ll take a look at QuickBooks Self-Employed. Next week it’s back to the NetInstall service.

It’s been about a year and a half since I last looked at QuickBooks Self-Employed, Intuit’s business finance app aimed directly at self-employed business owners that don’t have a corporation and who often have their personal finances mingled with their business finances.

When last we visited the app there was a lot to like about it, but, as is the case with most version 1 apps, there was also much that could be improved. I’m happy to to say that QuickBooks Self-Employed has evolved into an even more powerful tool.

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Starting up from NetBoot and NetRestore images

In our last episode we created two images: A NetBoot image to start an entire operating system over a network and a NetRestore image to restore a block-for-block image of an existing Mac. You should also have added these two images to your server’s NetBootSP0 folder. To verify that these files are here, from the Finder on your server:

  1. Click the Go menu.
  2. Click Go to Folder.
  3. Confirm that the two NetInstall images you created last week are in this folder.
    If these folders are not here, copy or move them from where you originally saved them to the NetBootSP0 folder.

Verify that that NetInstall service is on and working

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How to create NetBoot and NetInstall images

Now that we’ve created an image with a basic installation of El Capitan and a couple of apps, it’s time to create images we can add to the NetInstall service.

As a reminder, there are three kinds of images you can create with the System Image Utility.

  • NetInstall Image: A network-based installer image you can use to install or update an operating system over a network connection.
  • NetBoot Image: A network-based operating system you start your Mac with rather than using an operating system installed on a local hard drive.
  • NetRestore Image: A network-based image that wipes your Mac’s hard drive and replaces it with the contents of the network image.
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Create a disk image for NetBoot and NetRestore

In our previous lesson we configured the NetInstall service and started a Mac using an installer image hosted on a server. This week we’re going to up our game a bit and create a disk image we’ll use next week to create NetBoot and NetRestore images.

Create a disk image using AutoDMG

Previously we created an installation image from a fresh copy of the El Capitan installer. This week we’re going to use a tool called AutoDMG to install OS X (or is that macOS?!?) and a couple of other apps onto a disk image we’ll use to create our next two NetInstall images.

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Fire up the NetInstall Service

Once you’ve created your first NetInstall image, which we did last week, you’ve got what you need to begin using the NetInstall service. But, in order to start the service up, you’ll need to configure some settings.

To test the NetInstall service, in addition to your Mac running Server, you’ll need to have another Mac connected to your Ethernet network to connect as a client. Remember, every Mac using this service needs to have an Ethernet connection.

Configuring the NetInstall Service

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