Mac Is Back–Ordering Macs Correctly

Before I go out and get a cup of coffee that doesn’t make my head spin (lol), I want to report to you that business is brisk in the Mac world.   Macs are selling well.  2016 to 2019 were dark times for Mac users due those terrible keyboards in the Mac laptops.   A comeback started to be made in 2018 with the Mac Mini.   Then Apple brought the old keyboard back with the 16 inch Mac Book pro in late 2019.  (However, my clients were not typically buyers of the 15 / 16 inch laptops.)    Then in 2020, the good keyboard returned to the 13 inch Mac Books. It was a major victory for frustrated Mac buyers.

As we rolled into last fall, Apple came out with Mac Books sporting their new M1 processors.  This will be their infrastructure going forward.  A new mac Mini was also released.    They could very well release M1 iMacs at their event on April 20th.  I know some of you are waiting for those. 

On these new M1 Macs — the hard drives and RAM are an integrated system.  There is no replacing them when things go bad.  Like any solid state drive (SSD), they are limited to a certain # of read write cycles over their lifespan.  I read a report recently that if you order one of the new Macs with a larger hard drive — it actually gives it more room to read and write over time.   

So my advice here is — don’t take the standard 256 GB hard drive.  Upgrade it at the time of ordering to at least the 512 GB model.   Also — I would strongly suggest that you may want to consider the 3 year Apple Care warranty.  This is all new technology.  If one component on that logic board goes bad, the whole computer practically has to be replaced.   I am never opposed to buying Apple Care on iPhones, iPads, and Macs. 

For most consumers that I deal with I think that the Mac Book Air would be a fine choice over the 13 inch Mac Book Pro.  You can save a couple hundred $$ there.

Mac OS 11 (Big Sur)–Sooner or Later

I do keep getting asked by my Mac clients — should I allow my Mac to upgrade to OS version 11 aka Big Sur?   As you know I’ve told you to delay and stick with Mac OS 10.15 (Catalina) up until now.

If you have  a 2015 or later Mac laptop or one of the newer iMacs or Mac Minis — sooner or later you are just going to have to do it.   I am not giving a 100% endorsement but I am saying that it is going to be the Mac operating system you want to have before the Fall.   If you wait too long — then we are going to go through this all over again when Mac OS 11.1 (or 12 or whatever it’s called) comes out.  I will probably have you delay that one for a few months as well. 

So here is what I am saying — if you have a newer Mac that is problem free — go ahead and do the upgrade with the understanding that a few out of a hundred may have a problem or require a follow up visit from me.  If you have an old slow Mac — even if it’s Big Sur compatible — I have probably told you that you are looking at buying a new Mac within the year so don’t bother.    Generally speaking this Mac OS 11 is compatible with Macs 2013-14 and newer.  2012 and older Mac laptops are not compatible. 

If you have a specific concern about your Mac, please ask.  If you would like to make an appointment for an “assisted upgrade”  we can do that.

It is a good time to be a Mac owner — in general.

Important Security Update

For iPad and iPhone

If you have an iPhone or an iPad (even an Apple Watch) – there is an important security update that I just got notice of on Friday.   It is known as iOS / iPad OS 14.4.2.   This update fixes a critical flaw in Web Kit.   Web Kit is the engine that powers Safari (all the website browsing you do) on those devices, along with any apps that might render parts of websites.    Without Web Kit, the iPad / iPhone does not function. This update covers the iPhone 6s and later and iPad Air 2 and later.   Even though Apple is not updating the iPhone 6 and original iPad Air anymore, Apple did you a real favor.  They have issued an OS 12.x update for these 2 as well so that you have the Web Kit fix as well.

Settings >> General >> Software Update.    Get Updating!


Alternate Methods

You may need to do something right away and can’t get the help you need that hour or even that day.  I’ll try to get there as soon as I can.  However, we all have situations where it just can’t wait.  I want to let you know that there isn’t only one way to surf the Internet, check your email, or type a document on your computer.  You must understand — and perhaps this is new learning territory for you than we can cover in depth in our next session — that there are at least 2 ways to skin a cat.  Exploring the options can get you out of a jam and open mental pathways.    Here are just a few scenarios……

– Comcast or Gmail e-mail:  Your account can be set up in the Mail app (or Outlook) but you can also visit Gmail.com or My.xfinity.com to access a fully functional mail system in your web browser.

-You prefer to go on the Internet with Safari or Chrome:  What do you do when they don’t work or become corrupted?  You need a second browser at your disposal!! This could be Firefox, Edge, Vivaldi, or Brave.  Chances are that the second browser is going to work.  Get familiar with it.

-Time to type a document — Oh no!  Microsoft Word is not working.  Did you know that you can type and save basic documents in Text Edit (Mac) and Word Pad (Windows).  For letters and basic writing with paragraphs they are just fine.

Treating Referrals Right and Importance of Backups

I want to thank those of you who have sung my praises on the Nextdoor website for your neighborhood.  A new client contacted me on Friday.  I did a bit of phone triage with her and allowed her to thoroughly explain her issue with a series of follow up questions on my end.  It seemed like this client was working from home and regularly typed up Word documents which were carefully saved on the Desktop and another location.  All of a sudden these 2 documents that were there day after day (seemed like a continuing work routine) were gone.   Not in the Recycle Bin (or Trash as a Mac user would call it).  Gone!  They seemed like really important files.  By asking some very specific questions – I determined that there were no backup copies of these files online or on external media.   When I charge clients for a session — I don’t promise a guaranteed outcome.  Clients pay for my time, for the consultation.  However, I want to operate with the utmost integrity.  When I go to see a client I want to make sure there is a likelihood of success.  I told this new client that I don’t think I can help her and I’m not one to make false promises just to earn a sale.  She thanked me for my honesty and said she would certainly call back when other technology needs arose.   Thanks how I do business folks. A straight shooter.


I don’t know if the caller recently had a Windows update, but I will note that I recently dealt with a client that had a major update (or what I like to call an upgrade) to their operating system and lost all of their applications, but not their files.  Major updates are a potential peril.   Whatever the danger — if you have files you can’t afford to lose on your computer — you need a backup system and ideally more than one.  You may want to employ a cloud based backup system such as Carbonite or Backblaze.   A lot of you incorporate cloud based storage such as iCloud Drive (very popular with my Mac users), Microsoft One Drive or Dropbox.  One thing I like about One Drive is that it will save multiple versions of a Word document you are working on and they can later be restored.  Keep in mind that the iCloud, Dropbox, and One Drive are more accurately described as “file synchronization services” rather than bakcups — even though they do backup your files.  I say this because if you delete the file from one device it will be deleted on the others.   Finally, a physical backup is very important as well.  With my clients, this takes the form of an external hard drive plugged into the computer.  Using Time Machine on the Mac and File History (or Macrium) in Windows, you can have a physical backup that can be restored from in times of crisis. 

What is your backup plan?  Let me know if you need help coming up with one.

T-Mobile 23 Months and Counting

It was right around this time in 2019 when my wife and I moved our personal cell phone lines to T-Mobile.  I wanted to give you an update as to how it is going nearly 2 years later.  The summary version is — we have no regrets.  I will explain some potential pitfalls, however.  As you know I have never tried to oversell T-Mobile to clients.  I’ve always said — the choice is yours.  When we first signed up with them, we got in on their standard 2 line plan — $120 / mo — no taxes.  This was a small savings over Verizon (which would have been $150 per month plus tax). The other key factor was that their international plan was $5 / day vs. $10 / day for “Big Red.”    T-Mobile paid off our phones as well.  I have shared all of this before.   A few months into the whole deal, we realized that we could sign up for their Magenta 55 plan by putting my wife’s name on the account (she is over 55 y.o.). At that point it became a steal — 2 unlimited lines for $70 and no taxes.  I do think there have been situations where Verizon or ATT would have had better cellular internet, but I don’t think it’s 2x the price better. 

I can’t say that there have been few instances where T-Mobile calling was lacking.  In October 2019, I made a trip out to the airport via the local roads.  There was a cellular dead zone at the state border for about a mile.  I remember on the way back I made a phone call while I was traveling for about 25 minutes on a state road through rural and sparsely populated areas.  There were no issues.  There have been numerous instances such as on side streets, in large big box stores, or other random areas when my cellular internet seemed slow.  I may not have been able to do a Google search, check or send email, or download a podcast — which is something I do regularly.  These are typically just momentary inconveniences. 

The 2018 and later iPhone models allow for a second phone line.  On my iPhone 11, I also have my business line.  I have made sure to have it set up with a provider that is not T-Mobile.  This way I have the best of both worlds.  Trouble calling with T-Mobile?  No problem, call with the other line.  Trouble accessing cellular internet on T-Mobile?  I just switch the cellular data to my other line in the Settings.  I rarely have to do this, but I am glad I have the second line a backup.

Mac OS 10.15.7–Supplemental Update 2

I told you that I would keep you informed if there are supplemental updates for Mac OS 10.15 (aka Catalina).   Of course, you are still holding off on the big upgrade to Mac OS 11 — Big Sur.   Unfortunately, Apple is not going to notify you when updates are released for those staying with 10.15.

One came out last week.  Please download and install it.  Depending on the speed of your internet connection, I would expect this process to take 30 to 45 minutes (but could be less).

https://support.apple.com/kb/DL2071?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US

Mac OS 11-Big Sur–Hold Off Just A While Longer

We are getting closer to a point where I think it would be OK to install Mac OS Big Sur — version 11.  I have told you to avoid it since it came out in the Fall of 2020.  There is no reason to install a brand new operating system on day one or even in the first few months.   Therefore I have told you to stick with Mac OS 10.15 for a while.  This means however that you have to install the incremental patches or minor updates yourselves.  I have pledged to notify you whenever one comes out.  The last of these updates came out on Dec. 16, 2020. 

(Of course, some of you have older Macs which cannot update beyond OS 10.13, 10.14 or 10.15.  This message is not for you.)

Two days ago, Apple released Mac OS 11.2 which is the second significant update to the new operating system.   At the point when they release Mac OS 11.3 I think it would be fine — though no need to rush — to proceed with the “Big Sur” installation.  

At that point I think Big Sur would be fine if you are the “Joe and Jane Consumer” type that browses the internet, checks email, and uses Microsoft Office.  (Big Bold Print Emphasis) DO NOT INSTALL A MAJOR UPGRADE OF YOUR OPERATING SYSTEM WITHOUT HAVING A BACKUP OF YOUR COMPUTER.  MOST OF YOU SHOULD HAVE AN EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE PLUGGED IN MAKING REGULAR TIME MACHINE BACKUPS.  ALSO DO NOT INSTALL MAC OS 11 BIG SUR IF YOU ARE USING SPECIALIZED SOFTWARE INCLUDING WORK SOFTWARE THAT IS NOT YET COMPATIBLE. 


If you have specific questions about 3rd party software and its Big Sur compatibility ask me, ask your job, or check with the developer. 

The bottom line is — Mac OS Big Sur / mac OS 11 is going to be a fine compatible operating system for newer compatible Macs.   Just give it a little more time and you won’t have to avoid it any longer.   It will be ready for prime time.

Watch Out 01/27/21

– The Covid Era has been a wild and very scary time for all of us.  We all had a lot of time in isolation and were forced to find (hopefully) creative ways to use this time.  It may be a surprise (even to me) but I have spent dozens of hours (and probably over 100) over the past 8 months learning about watches.  Horology is fascinating.  Before radio, and telegraphs, and photography — watches existed as a form of personal technology.  I consider myself one who is approaching a certain level of expertise on watches under $1000.  I don’t consider this a business proposition yet.  However, there are numerous online watch sellers, people that buy and sell vintage watches, and so on.  Watch sales are up.   Can I convert knowledge to profit?  We’ll see. 

So I just wanted to share a couple of findings and tutorials in this introductory installment:

Tick, Tick, Tick vs. Sweep:  Does your watch tick once per second advancing to the next marker?   If so, you have a battery powered quartz watch.   If your watch has a sweeping motion of the second hand, then you have a mechanical watch.   It may be fully automatic, solely hand wound, or a combination of both.  However, there are more modern quartz technologies that mimic  the sweep.  These watches have a “meca quartz” movement and provide 4 micro-ticks per second.  

Timex – Comeback Kid:  Our own Waterbury, CT (Middlebury now) based Timex has experienced a major resurgence over the past 3 years to the delight of all watch fans especially those looking for nice but affordable pieces.  They brought back the Marlin  hand-wound 34 mm 1960’s watch that your dad (or maybe you) even had.  Let’s face it – our eyes aren’t getting any better so they now have a beautiful 40 mm Marlin as well.  Timex also re-issued their popular Q watches, sporting a 1970’s design with a battery you can change yourself.  There are a lot of good feelings around Timex right now.  You can check out their latest at Timex.com 

Micro Brands:  One trend that you may not be aware of over the past 10 to 15 years is the growing prevalence and success of micro watch brands.  Remember when Samuel Adams took off the late 1980s?  Some would say they led the micro-brewery revolution.  The same thing is happening with watches.  Micro watch brands are started by passionate people.  There are many of these outfits in the US and elsewhere.  They choose quality components and then assemble the watches here or possibly outside the country.  Watches from Micro brands typically range from the $100’s to $600’s depending on whether you are getting a quartz or mechanical.  A great bang for your buck.  

– Watches help us tell time, perform certain functions, and also appreciate the gift of time we are given on this earth.  What are your watch stories?  I would like to hear them.  Is there a watch you got for a special occasion?  A watch you once had but lost?  Do you have any old 1960’s / 1970’s Timex watches laying around?  I’ll be quiet now and let you share.  🙂  Feel free to send me a picture of your timepiece. It would make my day.

Thanks!

I may be a broken clock — but I am right twice a day.  LOL!

Erasing Product Mistakes

Don’t you just hate it when technology companies remove features or services that we like?  It is so frustrating.  There may be some hope.   The 2015 Mac Book Pro and Mac Book Air had such a solid design.  These were reliable machines.  They were a joy to type on.   However, when the Mac Book Pro was updated in 2016 (and the Air in 2018), there were only two to four ports to plug things into (one used for charging) and the keyboards were flat as a pancake.  On the higher end Pro models, they added a stupid Touch Bar with animated keys instead of the traditional Esc, F1, F2, etc, etc.   Awful!!

As I have previously shared, they corrected the keyboard with the 2020 laptops.  Rumors are swirling now that Apple will remove the Touch Bar in the 2021 models and (drum roll please) bring back a Mag Safe charger.   If you recall that pre-2016 charger, it would easily disconnect if you walked into the cord — saving your laptop from damage and flying off the desk.    Apple is going back to the old paths.  I like the old paths. 

Apple also reverted to old design cues and features with the iPhone 12 models.  You should strongly consider one for your 2021 iPhone purchase.   Remember the flat edges (sharp in a good way) of the iPhone 5, 5s and iPhone SE (2016)?   Apple went back to that design with the 12’s that came out last fall.   Furthermore, they are using only Qualcomm modems once again after using inferior Intel modems for a few years. Customers are reporting better signal performance in many instances. 

Finally, not everyone likes using the Face ID on the iPhone 10 and later models.  It can be a royal pain with a mask on.   On the most recent iPad Air (the middle model), Apple re-introduced a Touch ID sensor.   We can only hope they offer this on the 2021 iPhone models as well.