Windows 11–Not Yet

Windows 11 is out.  It’s gaining more attention.  There are even commercials.   First of all, you should know that roughly speaking  only computers that are model year 2018 and newer can be upgraded to Windows 11.  If you go (but don’t go) to the Windows Update section of your computers, you may see the option to download Windows 11.  I am not suggesting you do this now.  Bugs are still being worked out even though it has been released publicly.  Release first, fix later?  Maybe so.


Even if you never want to install Windows 11, you will still get security updates for Windows 10 until 2025 and this includes all of you that have a computer that is ineligible for Windows 11 to begin with. 


It’s my plan to continually reassess this Windows 11 situation and then begin to help clients migrate to it starting on July 1, 2022.  There’s no rush.  I will still try to find Windows 10 computers for clients when ordering new systems but will certainly set up a Windows 11 PC if one was purchased on a deal that just couldn’t be refused.

Postpone Trip To Mac OS Monterey

All of you that can be are on Mac OS 11 (aka “Big Sur).  That was the operating system that came out a year ago.  I told you to take it slow.  I helped to ease the possibility of error by not suggesting anyone install it until 3 to 6 months after release.  In fact I know many of you just  installed version 11 in the past month or 2.

Like clockwork — Mac OS Monterey has been released.  It is version 12.  IT JUST CAME OUT.  YOU DON’T HAVE TO INSTALL IT.   The only reason you should have Monterey is if you have a brand new Mac where it came from the factory.  To everyone else — hold off.  There is no reason to install Mac OS Monterey (12)  today.

Monterey is beautiful  — Pebble Beach can wait.

Weekend Technology Notes

Big Kid Macs

I was basically right in the email that I sent out to my Mac clients early Monday morning about Apple’s new Mac Book Pros. I knew the pricing would be higher.  The new Mac Book Pro 14 inch starts at $1999 and the 16 inch (which I don’t expect a lot of my clients will be buying), starts at $2499.  These are not rip offs by any means.  They are high powered professional machines.  Unless the “best” is desired out of principle rather than practicality, I think the Mac Book Air is going to suit the vast majority of my Mac clients seeking a laptop.  The 512 GB model @ $1249 would be the one I steer you toward.

Couldn’t Stop This Scam

I had a sad phone conversation with a client today about their friend.  Sadly this friend had been given my name before but had never joined my business family and the system of services and education that I provide.  This person got a  call from “Amazon” saying that someone had tried to purchase an iPhone Pro Max with their card but they had “stopped” it.   Sound real?  Think again.  The representative was granted access to the victim’s computer and had them log into online banking.  There the refund was “issued.” However it wasn’t.  The scammer simply adjusted the text code on the banking website.  Instead of a $1400 refund, the victim was “credited” $14,000 – by “mistake” of course.   The scammer said they would lose their job and demanded the difference back as a wire transfer.   Hint:  If it was $1000 involved, the scammer would have asked for gift cards.  However, the scammer saw that there was more than $14,000 in the victim’s bank account.  Only a wire transfer would do!  Their bank actually allowed the victim to send out the transfer, which went to Hanoi. 

UNBELIEVABLE!!   It really happened.  And the victim still believed it was real.  I told my client to tell this guy to go to his bank immediately.  Explain he is the victim of a crime.   Maybe — it can be reversed — but it’s doubtful in my opinion.  It’s hard to claw back a wire transfer, especially an international one. 

Macs Only– How Great M1 Macs Are | New Mac Book Pros

10/18/2021

I just finished watching a great Dodgers / Braves game.  Sunday night football is still ticking on in overtime (Go Steelers!).  And I keep checking in on Invicta watch night on Shop HQ (don’t worry I haven’t purchased any watches yet). 

But what I really wanted to tell you is that Apple is having an event today and at this event I would 99.9 % guarantee that they are releasing new Mac Book Pro laptops with even more advanced M1 CPU chips than last year.  It will also mark the first time that the larger 16 inch Pro is released with an M1 chip.  If you recall, there were 13 inch Pros launched last year with these new “in house” processors. 

Nearly all of my clients that have purchased a Mac laptop this year have gone with the Mac Book Air M1 (13 inch).  Unless you are doing a lot of heavy duty work or putting the computer through a workout — I tell my clients to get the $999 Mac Book Air if they want 256 GB of storage or $1249 for 512 GB.   I generally tell my students (another name for my clients if you haven’t figured that out) to err for the larger hard drive.   These M1 powered circuit boards operate differently than past Macs.  In layman’s terms I have been told that the more space you have to move your data around (ie. larger hard drive) the longer your Mac will last.  Keep in mind that everything is soldered onto the board.  I cannot open it and do computer surgery for you.  When it dies, it’s dead.   The 3 year Apple Care warranty is probably a good idea. 

Starting today I expect there to be a 14 inch Mac Book Pro (replacing the 13) and then a completely refreshed 16 incher.   I’m certain that there will be a super clear distinction in pricing between the Pro and Air models.  It would not shock me at all if that 14 inch Pro starts at $1599 or $1799.  It will be well worth it.

To reiterate — for most Joe and Jane consumers (or Joe and Jane home business owners) that I deal with, I think the Mac Book Air is the appropriate laptop.  However if you want the BEST or really plan to put the laptop through its paces — I would gladly set up a new Mac Book Pro for you.

Whether you go Air or Pro in the laptops or get a beautiful M1 iMac or M1 Mac Mini — take heart with this quote from an article I just read on Mac Rumors….

” Intel has a lot of catching up to do if it aims to outclass Apple silicon, as benchmarks revealed that the MacBook Air with an M1 chip with a starting price of $999 outperforms a maxed-out Intel-based 16-inch MacBook Pro priced at $2,999.”

Folks, this is exactly why Apple moved away from Intel CPU’s and went with their own M1 processors.  It’s an exciting time to be a Mac owner.  (And no, I don’t think the Intel CEO is going to be able to get Apple to switch back).

Buy Now!

I sense this calm before the storm feeling right now.  I fear a serious economic disruption that could affect so many of us.  I hope the trajectory changes, but I have my doubts.  Prices are going way up from common items to larger purchases.  I got take out at a restaurant last week and there was a sign at the register.  “We can’t honor the prices on our menu for the following items…..”  Apple just announced they are cutting iPhone 13 production due to chip shortages.  I have seen delays spanning months on computers I wanted to order for clients.  Holiday gifts you may want to buy for your loved ones may be in short supply.  Some of the new Apple Watch 7 models going on sale this Friday have delivery dates pushed out to late November and early December.  You may be putting off car repair, a water heater, a computer, or an iPhone.  My advice would be – Buy Now!   Commit to your parts / items now, even for installation at a later time, whether the delay is by choice or reality.

Microsoft Office Options

Everyone has used Microsoft Word over the years. You’ve likely used Excel too.  You may have even used Power Point (or at least viewed a presentation), Outlook, or even Publisher.  All of these applications are part of a suite of programs known as Microsoft Office.  Office is truly a cross platform offering, being available on Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Android.  In the recent past Office was an expensive package.  Around 2007 or 2008, I recall going to Staples with a client and buying Microsoft Office Professional for $400 to $500.  For a typical consumer or home office user, there are 3 distinct Microsoft Office options:

1)  FREE —   Office.com — In what may come as a surprise to many — you can use basic versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on your computer’s web browser for free.  These web apps do not have all of the features or perhaps the ease of use as the full featured desktop apps, but they get the job done for many.   Documents can be printed, downloaded to the computer, and even emailed out directly or indirectly.  These documents will be stored in Microsoft’s cloud storage known as One Drive.  You get 5 GB for free.  That allotment can hold thousands of text based documents.

2) The License / One Off Purchase — Microsoft sells Office for Mac and Windows as a license for one computer. It is truly one computer only.   Home and Student (Word, Excel, and Powerpoint) will run you $149.99.  Home and Business (all of the previous apps plus Outlook) will cost $249.99.  These are one time costs.  The licensed versions will receive security updates from Microsoft for 5 years from release of that version of Office (not 5 years from your purchase date).  However, if you were to buy Office 2021 now — you would pretty much be getting 5 years because it was just released.  Microsoft used to offer 10 years of updates for the licenses.  This is all happening because Microsoft wants to push you into……

3) Microsoft 365 — Personal or Family — This is the ongoing subscription version of Microsoft Office and is how most of my clients are buying Office these days.  It’s hard to argue they are not offering a lot for the price of admission.  In addition to Word, Power Point, Excel, and Outlook — Windows users will also get Publisher and Access (sorry those do not exist for the Mac).  The Personal edition($69.99 / year) will allow you to install Office on a total of 5 devices that you control (all under your Microsoft account).  Mix and match Windows, Mac, and iPad — no problem!  You will also get 1 TB of cloud storage space.  That is huge.  Honestly, other services could literally charge you $70 a year for just that cloud storage.   The Family offering casts its net even further.  It allows you to have 6 people in your family (all with their own Microsoft account) install Office on up to 5 devices each.  That is a potential of 30 devices for $99.99 per year.  How can you beat that?   Additionally, each of the 6 people will get 1 TB of cloud storage space.  That can cover tens of thousands of pictures, videos, documents and such.  Finally, with Microsoft 365, you never have to worry about updates.  You will always have the latest version of Office.  Some family members and I have been subscribers to Microsoft 365 since it was released for consumers in 2013.

The commercial real estate market is tough right now, so I will let you choose which Office you want to move into.  In a future Update, I will also cover some non-Microsoft office alternatives.

Watch Out–Can I Get A Swiss Made Watch For $150?

That is the question!

A lot of people think of $10,000 Rolexes, making payments on a credit card, and making a major sacrifice.

Even though I am more partial to Japanese, Swiss Made is universally accepted as the gold standard.  However, did you know that by the late 1970’s and early 1980’s — Swiss watch making was basically dead?  The Rolex Daytona was considered undesirable (while today it’s the hottest model).  Seiko had started putting nails in the coffin for the Swiss.   But the casket never shut completely and Swiss watchmaking came roaring back in the 80’s.

Why?   One brand — Swatch!   The story has been told over and over, but let me tell you in “Reader’s Digest” form.  Swatch found that they could make quartz (battery powered) movements to compete with the Japanese and sell fun watches that are disposable for about $50 or so.  In 1983, they brought Swiss watchmaking to a new generation.  They made hundreds of millions of $$ doing this and they funneled that money back into their legacy brands like Longines, Omega, Hamilton Tissot, and Certina.   Those brands live on today and are strong.  These Swiss brands and others all had to go upmarket to survive. Watch sales are on fire during this pandemic era! 

Hamilton sells this beautiful automatic field watch for $575 ($625 with bracelet)

https://www.hamiltonwatch.com/en-us/h70455533-khaki-field-auto.html

Swatch sells this watch w/ battery for $80

https://www.swatch.com/en-us/twice-again-suob705/SUOB705.html

(looks like a larger version of my first watch as a kid)

How are they doing it at those price points?   The Swiss Made standard says that 60% of the value (not contents) have to be derived from Switzerland.   On these less expensive models — the strap / bracelet, glass, dial, hands, and case are often coming from the Far East.  It’s a reality.  The movement, whether battery or mechanical is made in Switzerland.  The watch is assembled there too.  Swiss labor isn’t cheap.  They can easily say 60% of the value comes from Switzerland.   The technicalities would not dissuade me from buying a Swiss watch like this.   Let’s face it, a lot more people in the world can afford $300 watches than $10,000 watches.  

If someone wants to be a purist — you can spend a little more.  For example — Dekla watches  are all German made, except for their Swiss mechanical movements.  (About $650+ with the conversion of Euros)

https://deklawatches.com/en/

The Timex American Documents are all American Made (higher standard that Swiss Made) except for the Swiss quartz movement.

https://www.timex.com/browse/collections/american-documents/


So  my take away point is, yes you can get a Swiss Made watch for $150 or even $80 and have a meaningful experience.   Watches tell stories about our lives.

Update On T-Mobile Breach

Here is the most updated info from T-Mobile

https://www.t-mobile.com/brand/data-breach-2021

It turns out 47.8 million customers were affected (which is about 1/2 their US customer base).  It breaks down to 8 million cellular accounts and 40 million prospective customers that applied for credit.  Keep in mind credit was pulled in the past whenever new customers signed up or financed a phone.  (T-Mobile and Sprint now are one company.  I don’t know how many of these records pertain to old Sprint customers or if they are pre-merger T-Mobile accounts).    T-Mobile CLAIMS that no financial data, like Social Security #’s were accessed. 

Here is what they are doing however.  They are going to offer two years of ID theft protection through McAfee.   I’m going to skip that.  McAfee hasn’t done anything good for computer security since the 1990s.  The late, great company founder John McAfee despised what his old company had become before his death.  You can sign up for it if you wish, but I would prefer that  you obtain all of your credit reports from annualcreditreport.com, then sign up for a credit freezes or at the very least fraud alerts.

Secondly — here is something you can take action on today.  T-Mobile is asking you to change your account PIN.  This is also known as a billing passcode.  You can do it online or you can call 611 from your phone and talk to customer service.  If that billing passcode is in the wrong hands — someone can port your number out — steal it and take it to a different company. 

T-Mobile Data Breach

I don’t know all of my clients that have T-Mobile so I am going to make a general announcement in the weekly newsletter later.  However, I know you have T-Mobile.

Per reports I read in multiple sources like this Bloomberg article….

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/t-mobile-investigating-claims-of-data-breach-on-online-forum/ar-AANlDJU

TMobile’s entire customer database has been breached by hackers!! 100 million people.  The data discovered included full names, social security numbers and driver’s license numbers.    This is disgusting.  This information should have been stored in an encrypted fashion. 

My Thoughts

– I don’t think I’m going to leave T-Mobile tomorrow.   This could have happened to Verizon or AT&T as well, in theory.   They could have better security, but I don’t know.

– I don’t apply for credit all the time, so more often than not, I keep my credit reports frozen.  No one can open up accounts with the freeze in place.   If you do have your credit run often, you may want to consider a FRAUD ALERT instead, which will require your permission before lines of credit are opened.

– I assume T-Mobile will be providing its customers with a couple of years of some credit monitoring service.  That may be worth using, but keep in mind that during this pandemic annualcreditreport.com is offering all 3 credit reports free on a weekly basis.  https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action  — this website is the only one authorized by the federal government for obtaining free credit reports.   (The one on TV with that hideous jingle is NOT the same website.)

Websites for setting up credit freezes

https://www.transunion.com/credit-freeze

https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/credit-freeze/

https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html

Shopping For Computers Summer 2021

Weekly Humor

I may be wound up tight, but my mainspring is not going to break.  (That’s a watch joke, if you didn’t get it.)

Work Wisdom – Rideshare, Door Dash, Etc. 

This is not going to apply to you, but it may be relevant to one of your kids, grandkids, a friend or a neighbor.  In this “new economy” people are working for companies like Uber, Lyft, and Door Dash to make some extra cash or possibly even as a full time gig.  While working for these outfits, they are a 1099 contractor.   Expenses can be deducted but good records (like mileage) must be kept.  Taxes are not withheld.  Drivers should be saving part of every check to cover the Self Employment Tax at a bare minimum.  Additionally, these workers should purchase extra car insurance to cover  what the company won’t.  There is often a gap in coverage.  Finally, they should ask if this kind of work voids their car’s warranty.

Shopping For Computers – Summer 2021

I just want to set the expectations so that now one is surprised later on.  For the most part, prices are going up.  Discounts are few.  I’m sitting here in front of a Thinkpad T series — $2000 MSRP, that I got for $650 (new) in January 2020.  I also have a Dell Latitude 5450 that was about $1100 that I picked up almost 6 years ago for under $400 with some extreme couponing on Dell(dot)com.   Complete fairy tales in 2021!  Fiction! Most of you are buying laptops.  I still like all of my old picks — MacBooks, Dell Latitude 5000 series or 7000 series, and Thinkpad T or X series.   However, for a solid laptop (I’m not even talking about top of the line or luxury), you are looking at $1500 to 2000 for a brand new unit.   The Mac Book Air starts at $999.  However to get the 500 GB SSD hard drive its + 200.  These new Macs have such a brand new unique architecture and everything is built in, with no replaceable parts. I would seriously consider getting the 3 year Apple Care warranty for $250.  That puts your right around $1500 considering taxes.  For one of the better Windows laptops, you’ll be paying the same or more.  A client was recently considering a Thinkpad T15.  The price dropped to $1274 for a very well equipped system.  I said — TAKE IT; that’s a buy price!   In terms of iMacs, the $1699 model is the one you’ll really want.   So where can you save these days?  Well, the Thinkpad E and L series are not bad as long as they are properly outfitted.   The Mac Mini is still Apple’s bargain desktop.  With a $150 monitor, your own non-Apple mouse and keyboard, + $25 speakers, I think you could have it out the door for $1250.  (With these new M1 Macs, always buy a larger hard drive than you need (one step up).  Don’t say, I’ll never use that much space.   The larger hard drive you get, the longer the system will last.  Remember, that internal hard drive can’t be replaced.)  Finally, you could always try the Dell or Lenovo Outlets.  You have to think fast, but bargains exist.  

Conclusion and Song of the Week

It was a rough week.  You have the right to feel confused and even angry. They are your sincere emotions.  Monday through Saturday – I watched ZERO TV.  I don’t use Facebook.  I don’t use Google other than for e-mail and to look up local businesses.  Personally, I’m seeking calm in the storm while fully acknowledging that sometimes one has to hit the punching bag and let off some steam.  I thought this piano interpretation of “On My Way” by Peter Buka really fits the mood this time around.  He may not have a mainstream style, but he is doing something right with 7.5+ million views on this song alone. Enjoy!  https://youtu.be/w2IH69pFsI0