Last Word, Miscellany

Ajesh’s Adventures in Adminland


terminalwindow
My Terminal Window…. It says so, right in there..

I lost control over my computer on Saturday. Geekiness cost me control. Geekiness also got me back from the brink of the disaster. So there is a happy ending. Read on – despite some geeky terms this is not a Techie How To…or maybe it is. You’ll have to read it and decide for yourself, won’t you? ( In the words of Bugs Bunny, “ain’t I a stinker?” )

Problem: My MacBook Pro, circa 2010, will not allow any browser to display those horrendous Google captchas or recaptchas. Thus I cannot not get into some sites and commenting on Blogspot/Blogger posts is impossible, because they WILL use that idiotic captcha / recaptcha…

<Digression Alert #1:>

<rant

Why do these bloggers insist on activating this stupid feature? Is it not hard enough to get the readers’ attention without making him/her jump through hoops? Do they think that the entire internet is filled with bots that that are just waiting to fill their blog with spam? A word of advice – “Akismet”. 

/rant>

/Digression Alert #1>

Research: The length and breadth of the internet. C|Net had a How To that said “Do this and then enter this command. Next… ” and carefully left out the command itself. I’m sure it was meant to be a very useful post. However, since it failed to actually provide the actual command, I rejected that as totally freaking useless.

Identified Cause: Java on my Mac is messed up.

Solution: Oracle Java website provided helpful advice, in the form of three simple steps as follows.

  1. Uninstall old Java.
  2. Download latest version of Java
  3. Install it.

Step 1. Uninstall Java.

The Oracle Java site helpfully provides steps. It said: Open a terminal window. Then either login as root or a user with Admin rights or use the sudo command to delete a couple of folders. They give the full command so all you have to do is login as root and copy/paste the command. Pretty simple if you know what a terminal window is and where to get it.

For an aging ex-geek like me, these are admittedly simple steps. You may or may not know that once upon a time I was a computer geek. I can ( and do ) still write code and I know my way around a command prompt. I even know what a terminal window is. It is NOT a Windows System on it’s deathbed. And I know what to do inside a terminal window; on any OS.

Most importantly, I know what “root” on the *ux OSs is.

Root is the superuser to end all superusers. Root has no first name, no last name, preferring to go by a Prince-like single name. Root can cause much damage if let loose indiscriminately among the system. Root has access to EVERYTHING. Among users, root ( he goes around rather grandiosely in all lower case ), trumps all.

So when I got my MacBook Pro over 5 years ago, I created a user for myself, with standard rights, another user with admin rights and let root alone. Normally, I use my ID and if I have to install something, OSX asks me for authentication, I enter the admin ID and password and all is right. Thus if some outside force were to try, they’d not be able to get complete access to my MacBook. This is lesson 1 in computer security, yes, even, especially, on a Windows machine.

I tried the Admin user I had created, but the system said it was “Not on sudoers list”. Not realizing that OSX disables root by default and not finding root listed on the list of users, I sat back momentarily flummoxed, foxed, befuddled and bewildered. I thought back to how I had set up the system 5 years ago and decided to change the admin user ID I had created to root and clicked restart, some 0.0000000000e10 nano seconds before my brain cried STOP!!! WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO?????? ARGHHHH!!

This was a true Sledgehammer moment “Trust me, I know what I’m doing!”

Sure enough, the MacBook restarted but now there were no admin users anywhere on the system. I’d lost complete control over my own computer. I could make no changes to the system. What I had was a computer that went to the internet, did everything my usual ID could do, but otherwise, I was unable to make any updates.

BUT! At least, I had Uncle Google. I booted into single user mode ( hold down Command and S while restarting ). It drops you into a text screen with no read/write access to the hard drive. To set that that I had to to first mount it. OK, I’ll wait while you wash your dirty brain out with soap!

‘mount’ is a Unix command, used with some extra letters to give me read/write access to the hard drive. Then I went in and deleted a file to fool the Mac into thinking the MacBook had not been setup.  (It’s a file called .ApplesetupDone, if you’re interested. )

Rebooted with bated breath. It asked me to create a new User ID, checked off the tickbox that said “Make this user an Admin”. Rebooted, logged in as the new Admin user et voila!

From that point on, things became simple. Get into System Preferences, click Login Options at the bottom. Click Join. Open Directory Utility. Click Edit. Enable root.

Perform, Step 1 – 3.

So, all right, then, you annoying Blogspot/Blogger users, captcha or recaptcha, I’m a gonna get ya.

If you want detailed step by step instructions – contact me.

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