MacFixIt Answers is a feature in which we answer questions e-mailed in by our readers.
This week readers wrote in with questions regarding an odd apsd-related firewall error in OS X, the utility and risks of having Java Runtimes installed, options for maintaining Mountain Lion on corporate networks, and running MacBooks on a dead battery that will not charge. We welcome views from readers, so if you have any suggestions or alternative approaches to these problems, please post them in the comments!
Question: apsd firewall error in OS X
MacFixIt reader Clem asks:
When I log into my system I get a Firewall warning (from Norton Firewall) that states: "The computer 'st11p01st-courier029-bz.push.apple.com' is attempting to access apsd on your computer. Do you want to allow this connection?" Should I be concerned? Apple Support was not familiar with this warning.
The apsd background process is a push notification manager for many of Apple's services including Mail, calendars, contacts, and chat messages, and the server attempting the connection is one of Apple's push servers. I would not be concerned at all about this connection attempt. In fairness to them, it is a warning from a third-party firewall you have installed on your system so it is unlikely Apple's support personnel would be familiar with this specific warning message.
Question: The utility and risk of having Java Runtimes installed
MacFixIt reader Chris asks:
I appreciate your recent article on Java 7 Exploit, August 28, 2012 9:04 AM PDT. I am interested in knowing is having Java SE 6 installed a good idea or not, and does it do anything that my system does already?
The Java runtime on your system allows programs written in the Java programming language to run on your system, similar to how having Flash Player installed allows you to view Flash content in Web pages. If you do not ever use Java-based programs, then you do not need to keep an active Java runtime on your computer and can uncheck those options to disable the Runtimes.
If you are unsure whether or not you use Java programs, then uncheck the Runtimes listed and try using your computer normally. If you run into a program that requires Java, then you will be prompted with a warning that states you need to install a Java runtime to use it, in which case you can re-enable the Java Runtimes and continue using the program.
As for whether or not simply having Java enabled is a good idea, these days a number of security vulnerabilities have been found in the software, and as with any runtime (a collection of support software that allows specific code to run) it is best to keep it disabled unless you specifically use it.
Question: Maintaining Mountain Lion in corporate networks
MacFixIt reader Perry asks:
I'd like to hear your thoughts on how to maintain Mountain Lion updates in the corporate world, multiple users with individual App Store accounts? There's got to be a better way, right?
Often corporate network admins will bind Mac systems to an Active Directory or Open Directory service and manage them from there using their own software update servers; however, often this is a bit of a burden to set up and maintain, especially for smaller businesses. Therefore, network admins often set up each system with its own administrative account that can be used to access the Mac App Store with the same Apple ID (i.e., that for the corporation) and get updates to the OS and other software that is installed on the systems.
Question: Running MacBooks on a dead battery
MacFixIt reader Arturo asks:
If my MacBook's battery dies, can't I just plug it into an AC outlet and power it there when using the computer? I know this defeats the portability issue but it is still possible to use the Macbook Pro with a dead battery just plugging it into an AC outlet, isn't it?
This is definitely possible, though in some instances the system requires a small amount of charge in the battery to boot the system, even when connected to wall power. This is especially true if you are using a mismatched power supply such as Apple's 60-watt power supply in a system that requires the 85-watt supply. Therefore the MacBook will run when connected to the AC adapter even if the battery is not able to hold a charge for very long; however, it may depend on the battery being able to hold at least some charge. Additionally, it will take a very long time of use for the battery to deplete to this state (perhaps a decade or even longer for most uses).