05/18/22 – What Is The Apple Card?

I paid $4.59 for gas yesterday.  According to a major bank, the average may be $6.20 by summer.  A discount grocer I shop at used to sell eggs for $1.19.  They are now $2.45.  I don’t think these issues are going away any time soon.  The valleys of life sometimes entail living with the consequences of others’ (poor) decisions.  2022 is going to be one of those times.

but there are — Stories of Hope

My 89 year old great aunt and 94 year old grandmother recently have recovered from Covid 19 after getting infected about 1 month ago.  Recovery is possible, common, and likely.  Both took the new anti-viral medications.  I believe early treatment is essential, whether you take conventional or unconventional paths.  Once again you are able to order 8 free tests for your household. It takes a minute to fill out the form.  Here is another tool for your tool bag.  

COVID.gov/tests – Free at-home COVID-19 tests

Computer Speed Up Specialist

Do you have a 3 to 7 year old Windows computer that is starting to get a little slow?   Are you put off by the supply shortages and the cost of buying a new computer?   I think I may have an answer for you.   Unlike modern Macs, that have all soldered in unremovable parts — most Windows systems have a replaceable hard drive.  If your system seems that slow, you can likely benefit from a replacement with a solid state drive (SSD).  I make sure your files are backed up and then re-install Windows and your essential programs and copy your files back on to the computer.  This is a real jolt in the arm for your PC and it likely feels faster than when the computer was new.  These jobs can take as  little as 2 hours.  I just did one last week for a client that was 3 hours.   When choosing your next computer, only get one with an SSD in the future.  The Windows and Mac operating systems are meant for SSDs, in fact it is not possible to buy a Mac without one. 

Apple Card

Welcome to the world of high tech finance, I suppose.  For years, customers have always been able to finance an Apple product and get a certain number of interest free payments, at least on their first purchase.  Most recently, shoppers were offered a Barclays Apple Rewards Visa.  However, in 2019 Apple decided to take things in house and offer their own Mastercard called the Apple Card.  Apple is putting their name on it and demanding certain standards, but the banking back end is provided by the consumer division of Goldman Sachs. 

Why might someone want the Apple Card?

Well you get a card made out of titanium that is heavy and makes you feel important.  (Come on, that’s not a valid reason!) OK, getting serious here — the Apple Card seems like a valid choice for customers that regularly shop from Apple.  There is 3% cash back on all Apple purchases.  Interest free financing can also be used with all Apple purchases.  Furthermore, the card is automatically added to the Wallet app on the iPhone.   For any “tap to pay” situation, there is 2% cash back.   (There is also 1% cash back whenever you use the physical card).  The card can be used wherever Mastercard is accepted.  The full card number is not printed on your card.  It can be looked up in the Wallet app and a new number can be issued in the event of a security issue.

How to apply?

You apply using the Wallet app on your iPhone.  It’s very simple and takes about 5 minutes.

Who is this not for?

The Apple Card is not for someone who wants paper statements or to send in a check every month.  You really need an iPhone to be a card member.  You will make your payments through the Wallet app or by logging on to a website on the computer with your Apple ID and password. 

Comcast Gems and Basket of Tips

I hope it’s not a mundane Monday for you.

Going to the Movies – Thurs Apr 28 545 PM

For the first time in 2 years, I’m going to the movies.  WOW.  The great thing is that I don’t have to leave my home.  There is going to be an in person premiere of “Keeper of Time” at the SVA Theater in NYC on Thursday.  However, unlike typical theaters, viewers can watch virtually anywhere in the world at the same time.  This 90 minute documentary looks at why we measure time and why we care.  It also profiles four of the highest level watchmakers in the world.  You can find out more and see a 2 minute preview at https://www.keeperoftimemovie.com/home#about .  Tickets are $20 + $4 service fee.  I’ve got my virtual ticket and will be watching on my computer.  Hope to see you there.  Feel free to text me during or after the film if you want to discuss.

Gems of Comcast Services

Continuing with the streaming theme…..

If you need help with any other kinds of streaming such as Amazon Prime, Apple TV Plus, especially for the baseball games, let me know.  I’m finding that many of my clients that have Comcast / Xfinity for their cable TV provider are finding it especially easy to play services like Amazon Prime, Netflix, and others.  The Xfinity X1 remote has a microphone.  Holding down the phone will easily allow you to bring up those services by  name.  If you give the cable box permission (which I think is fine), you can also allow it to display results from the streaming services within the results of other On Demand programming.  My typical senior clients LOVE that microphone button on the remote.  It opens up a whole world of possibilities and usability.  It’s one of the gems of their increasingly expensive service.    Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Cox cable has a similar remote that you can talk to. 

Roku Is the Best

If you don’t pay for TV or even if you do, having a separate streaming box might be a good idea.  I tend to prefer the Roku.  I have been a Roku user since 2011 or 2012.   It connects to all the major streaming services.  Modern Roku’s are also capable of Apple Air Play (direct beaming from iPhones, iPads, and Macs).  And in a room, like my bedroom, with no cable outlet — I can use the Roku as a virtual cable box for Comcast / Xfinity.

Basket of Tips

1)  I can’t stream?  Can I? Do you think I am capable? Am I too old?  I think you can!!  If you can master these 5 or 6 basic buttons on a remote, you will be streaming like a pro in no time

* The Directional Arrows*

Up — Down — Left — Right

OK,  Back, Exit, Home

>>>You’ve got this!!

2) There are TVs with the Roku platform actually built into it.  As long as is a current year model or last year — it may be a good deal if you need a new TV.  3 years old would be terrible.  I am a bit old school and I still like a separate Roku box or stick with my TV I am not a huge fan of built in Smart TV platforms but my wife uses built in You Tube all the time

3)  By the way — if you watch You Tube all the time — you probably want  You Tube Premium (which is not the same as You Tube TV).  You Tube is getting more aggressive about showing ads.  You either need an ad blocker on the computer or phone (which I use religiously) or sign up for You Tube Premium at $12.99 a month.  No Ads!!  It also gets you unlimited You Tube Music (formerly called Google Play Music.

Tips From Others — Tips 4 and 5 come from what I have learned out in the field

4) In an ongoing discrimination case involving a local police department one officer was asked if he had made a pact or an agreement with another party.   He was ordered to turn over his phone.  “No problem your honor — but I delete my text messages every night.”   Wow!!  As your digital privacy advocate — I love that!!  If you are concerned about this type of thing, you have my permission to erase your tracks like this.

5)  Want to prevent digital intruders or from that computer being ONLINE all night?  You can turn off WiFi or put your device in Airplane Mode every once in a while.  I don’t do this all the time.  I wouldn’t recommend doing it every night as updates are important but I would be OK with doing this some of the time or most of the time as some of my clients do. 

Windoze 11? Putting Computer Shopping In Perspective

I’m still trying to keep an open mind about Windows 11.  At best I think it will be the most secure operating system Microsoft has ever offered. At worst, it could be another Vista or Windows 8.   For Chrome, Word, shopping, paying bills, and banking Windows 11 is just fine.  Many new computers sold today come with Windows 11.  However, if you still want a new computer with Windows 10 — I can find one for you.  Quantities may be limited and you have to be ready to order now.  My general guidance is as follows — a  passable / average / perhaps above average system — $900 or so,   good to great system $1500, and top of the line $2000-2200.  (Keep in mind that a Mac Book Air with 512 GB hard drive costs $1249 and a Mac Book Pro 14 costs $1999).   I just ordered one of those top tier models, a Thinkpad X1 Yoga touchscreen laptop, with a client.  It came to $2257 with tax and we are super excited about setting it up.

Best T-Mobile Benefit Of The Year

For several years now — T-Moblie has done giveaways on Tuesdays.  You need to have the “T-Mobile Tuesdays App”  on your smartphone.  When I first joined T-Mobile in early 2019, the giveaways were pretty good.  There were several weeks when I got free coffees at Dunkin.   (Little secret about me — I like getting loaded like a freight train on caffeine drinks.)  

To be honest, the Tuesday benefits have not been that good lately.  However once a year — they give us customers something fantastic.  As an official sponsor of Major League Baseball, right before baseball season starts each year T-Mobile gives away a free subscription to MLB.TV — its worth $130 a year.  There are no gimmicks and no upsells.  If you love baseball — this is for you.  With MLB.TV — you can watch every single out of market game every day of the season.  (Your local teams are always on cable.  And actually , I shouldn’t be saying this — but if you use a VPN, you can PROBABLY  watch the in-market games with this free subscription as well.)    The sign up period starts on Apr 5 and runs through Apr 12.  You will need the T-Mobile Tuesdays app on your phone.  Download it from the App Store / Play Store.  Sign in with your T-Mobile phone number and password.   

Starting on Tuesday if you claim the offer you will then create a user name and password for MLB.TV.   I’ll be doing it right away on Tuesday.  If not for you – do it for the baseball fan in your life.  No gimmicks — truly a $130 / year streaming package.

Mac Mini vs iMac

I just wanted to take a moment to discuss the two desktop choices that consumers or home workers such as yourself are going to consider:  the iMac and the Mac Mini.  I have shared this info in shorter form before but I wanted to unpack these possibilities a bit more.   The current M1 Mac Mini was released in the fall of 2020 and the current M1 iMac was released in the spring of 2021.  Despite their different shapes and set ups — INTERNALLY SPEAKING — the logic board, the chips, the hard drive, and the memory — they are the same performance wise.  I’m going to have you look at the configurations for the Mini https://www.apple.com/shop/buy-mac/mac-mini and in the red trunks in the other corner, I’m going to have you look at the iMac  https://www.apple.com/shop/buy-mac/imac

This email is going to compare the $899 Mini and the $1699 iMac.  Both systems have the 512 GB SSD hard drive and the 8 core CPU.   One is not double the cost of the other, but you may certainly perceive one as the better value or the more attractive option after reading the following.   It’s your choice.

Mac Mini — Apple has sold the Mac Mini since 2005. I remember ordering the first one.   The Mini is about the size of a small cigar box, but it packs a punch.  It is the computer “tower” only.  You must provide your own keyboard, mouse, speakers, monitor – and if desired webcam.  Those accessories need not and probably should not be Apple branded if you are going for the value proposition.  A decent 21 to 24 inch monitor can be purchased for about $150 to $180.    Next I would recommend a USB keyboard / mouse – MacAlly brand on Amazon is Mac compatible — $30 to $40.  These are good for initial use and as a backup, even if you plan to use wireless later.  Decent Amazon brand speakers are $30.  Next comes a webcam if you plan to use Zoom.  The C922 Logitech is $85 and known to be compatible with the current Mac OS.  The total cost of those accessories  is $295 – $335.   With the cost of the Mac Mini being $899 –you are looking at a little less than $1299, in line with what I’ve said previously.  Note: you will have wires all over your desk, just like with a traditional desktop computer.

iMac — the new iMac has a 24 inch screen.  Everything is built into the screen.  The monitor, the speakers, the computer tower:  it’s all there.  Apple includes a wireless keyboard and mouse too.  The webcam is built in.   It’s slim, colorful, even sexy if a computer could be. There is one wire for the power cord.  Unlike the Mac Mini which has 2 traditional USB A ports, the iMac has none, which means you will probably need an Anker USB hub to plug things in. That will run you about $30 on Amazon — so your cost is about $1729.  

The choice is yours, not mine.  Do you want to save about $400 and pick your own accessories?  Or do you want to pay $400 more for style, compactness and visual appeal? Both computers are equally as fast or “good” inside. Hope you appreciated the review.  It might not be as good as Consumer Reports but I think I made a compelling case for EITHER system – if you want a Mac to begin with.

PS.  If you didn’t have hardly any photos or files you could get a slightly cheaper iMac or Mac Mini.  There is one model of each that is $200 cheaper.  You can do that math.  The same price differential and logic of this post would be true.

TMobile Improves Customer Security

https://tmo.report/2022/03/exclusive-t-mobile-adding-number-transfer-pin-for-port-outs/

According to the article — they will be implementing the NUMBER TRANSFER PIN  (NTP) soon.   This will require one to go onto the T-Mobile website or app to obtain a PIN number to transfer their number to another carrier.  Bravo!!!

There has been so much number transfer fraud — especially with this company.  It’s about time.

Lets Get Down To Business

Starting Light — Beverage Pick Of The Week

I probably have 2 alcoholic drinks a year, so my beverage pick is going to be something else.  Diet soda can be taboo, but some people just prefer it or can’t handle a regular cola.  I don’t drink a lot of soda, but I am a big fan of Polar beverages based in Worcester.  I just happened to see a liter of their Diet Cherry Soda at the grocery store.  I’m so glad I took a chance.  Its the best tasting soda I’ve ever had.  Moxie would be #2 for me. 

Tech Tips You Can Use

I think it’s a great idea to Restart or Shut Down your computer every week or at least every two weeks.   Macs and Windows PCs can be restarted.  iPhones and iPads must be Shut Down, by either going to Settings >> General >> Shut Down or by pressing the the correct buttons (hope I’ve shown you this already).   Some Android phones have a Restart feature, some will also need to be shut down.  The shut down should just be temporary.   I do not believe in shutting down the computer every night.  Repeated on and offs will shorten its life.  Just let your computer go to sleep.  This way it will get its updates.


Deal of the Day (and in General)

Fifty dollars off on a Mac computer is a deal, even in these times, but the $699 Mac Mini is priced to sell from the get go.  This model has the 256 GB SSD hard drive  and is really targeted to those  users who are doing email, shopping, browsing, and banking with small collections of photos and music (not tons of files).  Amazon often has this model for $650 which is great but while supplies last they are selling it for an amazing $570.  A steal!   Keep in mind with the Mac Mini you provide your own keyboard mouse and monitor and speakers but you can buy these economically.  Apple brand is not required.  Under $1000 for a Mac desktop all in sounds like a winner to me.  Amazon link https://amzn.to/3sxYvxs

Coming Soon To A Theater Near You

Well — it should be a live streaming event and not a theater, but I expect Apple to release a new iPhone SE as soon as this month.  It is expected to feature 5G radios for the first time.   With ATT, Verizon, and T-Mobile operating only on 4G and 5G signals by the end of the year – I’ll be curious to see if Apple can include 5G for the past $399 price.  Anyway, the SE is the winner winner chicken dinner of the low cost iPhone options.  Get the 13 if you need the better cameras, but the the SE is still a fine phone. 

Song of the Week

On this back to business theme, how could I not close with a song with the chorus line of “let’s get down to business.”   Put on your dancing shoes, get up and move.  Here is a techno song from your tech guy.  “The Business” by Tiesto. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PO_d169ibZ8

Coming Down The Pike

Scams Reminder

Remember — there are no real emails from Norton asking you to pay large sums of money, no legitimate car warranties calling you, no arrested grandsons calling for money, and no legitimate popups on the computer saying you are infected with a phone number.  (I feel like I can never give these warnings enough because every week I get asked about such scenarios). 

Coming Down The Pike

iPhone SE

I have some credible rumors that Apple will be hosting a technology event next month (or just a product release) and that the iPhone SE is likely to be updated.  There may even be a new Mac Mini.  My clients were very receptive to the iPhone 8 sized SE that came out in early 2020.  While I still prefer the better battery life and features of the iPhone 13 series, a $400 SE is really all that some people need or want.  It gets the job done.  It facilitates Facetime calls.  It allows you to send those blue iMessage text messages to all of your friends (more secure text messages).  From what I’ve read, the new SE will still be $399 and should sport 5G radios.   If you are hanging on to a 7 or 8 or even want to upgrade from your previous SE — this may be the phone for you. 


Windows 11

On every Windows computer I’ve touched, I have turned out or opted out of the Windows 11 update.   Keep in mind that Windows 11 will only be available for late 2017 and newer Windows computers.  I think there will be significant updates between now and the summer.  On a new computer, we may not be able to avoid Windows 11 and that’s ok.  It’s not a disaster.  Installing a familiar Start Menu app – like Start 11 can make Windows 11 a lot more friendly.  Later in the year, I think it may be fine to upgrade to Windows 11. I’ll keep you posted. 

Updates

I always say your iPhone will update automatically, so will Windows and so will your Mac.  Then those updates don’t happen.  So I think it a good idea to check at least once a month.  You should know how to do it by now

iPhone / iPad:  Settings >> General >> Software Update

Windows:  Start Menu >> Settings (or Search)>> Update & Security

Mac:  Apple Menu >> System Preferences >> Software Update

Little App To Make Windows 11 More Friendly

Happy snow day!   I am thinking of warm beverages.   Warm winter beverages.  OK, I’m thinking of Starbucks.  And I’m thinking of the Pumpkin Spice Latte or Supra Dupra Latte — large size of course.   They are about $6.  6 bucks!  But of course I won’t touch one of these beverages because I’m addicted to sugar and I only drink sugar free beverages.

I have a better deal for $6.  And for those of you who have been with me many years you are familiar with this program, a prior version of it (although it was $5 then — inflation is rampant I guess).  At some point we are all going to be stuck with Windows 11.  Let’s make it a blast.  You are going to get Windows 11 with a new computer.  You may update to it by mistake.  Or down the road you may just say why not.  ( I haven’t updated my Thinkpad to it yet but I probably will in the summer or fall.)   The start menu and taskbar are kind of jarring.   And from running a business based on serving “old people”  I know that change isn’t cool.

So I am going to seriously recommend Start11 once you get to Windows 11.  You may remember, I recommended Start 8 when you had Windows 8 and I recommended Start 10 when you got to Windows 10 (eventually the Windows 10 Start Menu grew on me and I accepted it but for the first few years I wanted the old familiar).   Start 11 is put out by Stardock Software –based in Michigan.  Again its $6 only.  And I think it can make Windows 11 a lot more friendly and usable.   Check it out  — https://www.stardock.com/products/start11/

Watch the little video — see the pictures.  If you like it — Buy it — download and install it.  Windows 11 could be considered like a dance hall that isn’t fully painted yet and maybe some ceiling panels are missing.  You can still dance and party.  I think Start 11 can just make it a whole lot better. 

PS.  If you are looking for THIS kind of start menu in Windows 10 — Start 11 has replaced Start 10 and works on Windows 10 as well. 

It Can Be This Simple

There have been major advancements in setting up a new Mac computer.  This really blows my mind because I remember when 3 hours was the norm.  There are a few caveats — however my last 4 brand new Mac setups (all done within the past couple of weeks) were 1 to 1.5 hours each.  A few were literally a 1 hour session.

**This may not be the case for a client who works in a sensitive occupation like law enforcement or scientific research or is a serious academic with thousands upon thousands of documents.  Lots of songs will take extra time.

For Joe and Jane senior consumers — like a lot of my typical clients — this really can be true.  Documents are stored in iCloud as are pictures.  Safari is backed up to iCloud.  Chrome is backed up to the Google account.   If this is all true, setting up the new Mac can be a breeze.

Updates may be necessary on new Macs and updates can take a long time, but I can certainly start the process for a client and let them finish it out.  I can always follow up with an additional appointment if needed. 

The bottom line is — reliance on iCloud makes new Mac setups simple.  The same would be true for Windows with the use of One Drive.