It’s been a while since I did one of these. As with many technology concerns, I want to achieve a balance between hyping something new and ignoring it completely. With that said, I don’t want clients to be taken by surprise.
Facts: A new version of the Mac operating system was released a few days ago. It is known as “Big Sur” — aka mac OS 11. Make no mistake about the numbering. if you recall the versions of mac OS for about 20 years have been called 10.x. Most recently we’ve had 10.15 that came out last year (Catalina). By calling Big Sur version 11 and not 10.16, Apple is signifying the future is here. They are as committed to the Mac as ever, but they have built the platform for the next generation. If you are just using Mail and Safari (or Chrome) you won’t notice major changes. There could be little quirks that trip you up, however.
Starting anytime now you are going to be bothered / prompted to install Big Sur (mac OS 11). As it just came out a few days ago, I’m still considering this experimental software even though Apple would beg to differ with my assessment. Big Sur is compatible with most Macs 2013-14 and later, depending on the model. DO NOT INSTALL MAC OS 11 / BIG SUR RIGHT NOW.
Once we get to version 11.1 or 11.2 or even later — a couple ++ months from now, then it probably will be safe to install. It was a good 6 months or more when I finally urged clients to install Mac OS 10.15. As always, I am available to assist with these major upgrade jobs.
Last year and into this year — I was able to program your Macs to ignore the last big upgrade until it was an appropriate time to install it. With a small update earlier this year — Apple took away your ability to do that. (There are some Business utilities that could be installed to do the blocking but most consumers are not going to go that far. ) So sadly, the Mac has gotten a little less friendly to use. It seems like they are forcing you to take software that is not ready for prime time.
Just remember — no need to travel to Big Sur today. I’ll let you know when you should get your boarding passes ready.
Happy Veterans Day. Thank you to all who served.
Fruit of the Week
I think I have found my new favorite fruit, but you’ll be hard pressed to find it in a conventional grocery store. I am talking about the Japanese pomelo. I have to confess I am a bit of a grapefruit snob. The Japanese pomelo has a lime green outer skin and is about the size of a large grapefruit. It’s color gives a false impression that it’s very sour but my taste buds would put it somewhere in between a pink grapefruit and an orange. I’m glad I bought 6 when I could.
New Macs Are Out — To Be Delivered Soon
Apple did it again. They had their third major product unveiling in as many months. As I mentioned last week, they are in the process of releasing Macs with CPUs (and GPUs — graphics processing units) that are created totally in-house. Apple has done this for years with the iPhones and iPads. Since 2006, Apple has sold Macs with Intel CPUs. Welcome to the new era of “Macs with M1 chips”. New Mac Book Airs, Mac Book Pros, and Mac Minis are available for pre order. They will run Intel Mac software without a major performance hit. Apple seems to be as committed to the Mac as ever. Pricing starts at $699 for the Mini (a desktop), $999 for the Mac Book Air, and $1299 for the Pro. These represent the same pricing on the 2 laptops and $100 less on the Mac Mini. Born in 1984, Macs are not going anywhere.
Small Biz Spotlight
(Unsolicited) If you don’t believe in Chiropractors, you have my permission to skip this section. I realize that some in the profession have made dubious claims. However, many of us out there feel that chiropractic care helps us feel better and move our joints more freely. If this is how you feel, please let me introduce you to Dr. Rick Araya of West Hartford, CT. Dr. Rick is a straight shooter. He doesn’t try to rope you into some $5000 treatment plan with a bunch of gimmicks. He runs his business like I run mine. If you want to pay by the visit – you can pay $45 per visit (even less if you are 65 and older). He doesn’t waste your time by doing massage, lighting candles, or any of that stuff. Most follow up visits are 5 to 10 minutes – in and out. As an advocate for senior consumers, I can’t think of a better chiropractor — if that’s your thing. To learn more – http://goodchiro.net and if you go let Dr. Rick know I sent you.
Another Apple Event
Apple is really hitting it out of the park this year. Last week there was a report of record Mac sales — powered by all models but especially the Mac Book Pro. According to Bloomberg, Apple will be holding their 3rd big event in as many months next week. They are expected to release new Mac Books this time with their own CPUs (just like the iPhone and iPad). This will be the 3rd processor transition in the Mac’s history. In 1995, they went to IBM Power PC chips and in 2006 Apple migrated to the current Intel architecture (just like PC’s). Apple feels that they can deliver a better Mac when they control the entire manufacturing process and that is just what they are doing. Are your Intel Macs junk now? Of course not. Even if you are buying a new Mac before early – mid next year you may still want to get an Intel Mac. However, Macs with Apple silicon inside will be with us soon and are here to stay. Rumor has it that Apple will continue to support current Intel Macs with updates for about 5 years from a certain date (to be announced). I don’t think this will be a painful transition.
Black Friday – Holiday Shopping
Black Friday is coming early this year. Traditional stores and online sellers are slow rolling their deals. While the discounts on Apple products may be in the low hundreds of dollars, there are bound to be terrific deals on other items. Just today I helped some clients order Thinkpad X1 and T laptops ( every bit as good as a Mac) that are normally about $2000 plus, for $999. Those deals are going to be gone by the time you read this. I will be your scout for other bargains. Keep in mind, as long as there is no wall mounting required I can help you set up most TV’s as well. For as rotten as the cable company can be, there is nothing quite like a new TV with an X1 cable box and voice remote from Xfinity. You can speak and have it take to you any channel or available movie.
(If you don’t have important files on your PC — if you use it to surf the Internet and check email only — this doesn’t apply to you. Perhaps you could forward it to another Windows user).
However, I know that most of you have important files on your Windows PC. They could be work files, documents, proposals, and photos.
I’m giving you a true report from the field here and let you know that the recent BIG UPDATE to Windows 10 (version 2004) that has been installing on your computers over the past couple months has created A FEW problems. Well over 90% have been smooth sailing. But — there are 2 that I can think of — that were a big problem. In both cases — the computers needed to be erased and have Windows 10 reinstalled. In one situation — it didn’t matter. In the other situation, the client was in a tough spot because there were important work documents and no backup.
You can avoid this all together — by having a backup system in place. This might be an external hard drive. It might be an online file storage service like One Drive or Dropbox. Or you may even want to consider an all encompassing online backup service like Carbonite or Backblaze for about $6 per month.
Updates and Upgrades do fail from time to time. Windows may have to be reinstalled. You may need several hours of help from someone like me when this happens. Having a backup of important files makes your life SO MUCH easier.
Apple had their big virtual iPhone 12 event today. I just got finished watching it live. I know that some of you are in the market for new iPhones, so I wanted to give you the skinny. Apple unveiled 4 new iPhone 12 models. The 12 Mini ($699), the 12 ($799), the 12 Pro ($999) and the 12 Pro Max ($1099). The giant Max actually clocks in at a price reduction from last year’s model.
The iPhone 12 — 6.1 inches is expected to be the biggest seller of the bunch, sporting the same screen size as the 2018 iPhone XR and 2019 iPhone 11, although fitting everything into a tighter body. The iPhone 12 Pro is actually larger than the iPhone X (2017), XS (2018), and 11 Pro (2019), so that might be a consideration for you.
The 12 Mini is for those iPhone who want the smallest possible size, however the actual screen is larger than the iPhone 6 – models and the overall 2020 SE model. The body is smaller than those previous phones.
All of the new iPhone 12 models support 5G in both the “normal” and ultra wide band frequencies. As I mentioned a few weeks ago 5G is just getting of the ground, so you are really future proofing yourself with these iPhone 12 devices. And of course, if you want a budget friendly iPhone with a familiar look the SE @ $399 is still a great choice.
Don’t put your gear on top of other devices that are charging. If your laptop is charging at night, don’t leave your phone or anything electronic on top of it. I think this would apply to other mechanical devices as well. I developed a bad habit of placing the Seiko watch I got for my Big Birthday earlier this year on top of a closed laptop at night. Well well, the watch became demagnetized. It’s in the shop now. 😦
I am trying my best to weather the Covid 19 storm and also prepare for possible changes in operations once the weather gets colder. I am doing about 2/3 of appointments in person right now, but if we have to go mostly remote, let’s make sure we are prepared. With the vast majority of you, we are already set up to do Quick Assist (Windows) or Team Viewer and Zoom (Windows or Mac). If for some reason you think you are not set up to do a remote session with me, I can help you get set up at no charge by phone or when I am in the area.
I describe myself as someone who provides I.T. consulting and tutoring with a teacher’s heart. After all, I was once a certified teacher and have a Masters in Education. (And would you believe I am getting calls to come back in for school based positions? I told them, no thanks! I am not working in a classroom and jeopardizing my clients’ health.) I try to incorporate a teacher’s spirit in what I do. This makes me so different than the I.T. Guy from the big box store or some nerd driving around in a VW Bug.
I have gotten a great feel for how older adults learn and process information. The teacher in me believes in high standards and expectations. I want to take you into expanded portals of possibility. You might think your potential is at ground level. I have my sights set on the stars. I think if we end up somewhere in between, you will be able to get a lot out of your technology.
One of my goals going forward is to help you simplify routines through sequences of brief, memorable steps. When working with a client recently, I broke down emailing scanned documents to
Keyboard shortcuts are another way to simplify tasks.
Want to create a new folder for your files?
In the File Explorer (Finder – Mac), create a new folder by pressing Ctrl (Cmd – Mac) Shift + N
I don’t have many clients that are really into Android anymore, but I wanted to share this review that is quite positive from an iPhone loyalist who tried Google’s new Pixel 4a. In my opinion, its the no brainer Android phone choice @ $349.
I should add that the 4a supports 2 phone lines (regular SIM + eSIM) should you need that feature.
Published in PC World and Mac World — Sept 8, 2020
5G – Here And Getting Closer
I outlined some basics on the new 5G towers a few weeks ago, but I wanted to simplify and add to it as well. Basically there are two 5G technologies being deployed in this country at the moment, sub-6 and mmWave. T-Mobile and ATT are going mostly with the sub-6, which will reach more people. Verizon is going with mmWave, which is even faster but restricted to specific spots like stadiums, stations, or a place like Times Square. Consequently, Verizon is way behind. Ultimately, all of these carriers will deploy a mix of both types of 5G towers. If you are due for a new phone, I am going to give you my opinion as to when 5G should mean something to you. This does not mean give up on your carrier or that your carrier is bad or that you need to throw out your 6 month old phone to get a 5G phone. I’ve uttered no such words. I got a real life test of 5G on the T-Mobile network in Boston last week. My wife’s 5G Samsung clocked in at double the speed of my iPhone 11. Therefore, if you are a T-Mobile customer — I would say the time to buy a 5G phone (again if you are phone shopping) would be as soon as these iPhone 12 models come out. Then you will have a mix of low end phones like the Revvl 5G, or the Samsungs, and the iPhones to choose from — all with 5G. ATT is at the middle of the pack. Their 5G is not as widely deployed as T-Mobiles, but they are getting there. If you still want to save some money by buying that iPhone SE, go for it. But by 2021, early next year, I think you should definitely be considering a 5G phone if you are phone shopping. With Verizon, on the other hand, I think there is no rush to get a 5G phone — probably until the 2nd half of next year. Ultimately, two years from now, Verizon may end up having the best 5G network. Slow and steady wins the race? We hope or they hope! Rumor has it that only the super expensive iPhone 12 Pro Max model will even be able to communicate with Verizon’s mmWave towers. The other 3 models coming out this fall will not. If I were a Verizon customer, 5G wouldn’t even be a part of my thought process yet. (And yes, you can still buy any of the other iPhone 12 models to use with Verizon’s existing network.)
Fall Is Peak Season For Technology
Fall is the busy season in my business and in the world of personal technology. We will see new iPhones before the end of October, perhaps in two separate launches for the 4 models expected to be released. New Apple Watches as well as iPads (possibly) will be coming out next week from Apple. There will be brand new computers from Microsoft, including a reported “moderately priced” Surface laptop. Wait there’s more! Apple is coming out with a brand new macOS 11 which is supposed to be the biggest deal for the Mac in 20 years since OS X came out. Finally, ioS 14 / iPad OS 14 will be here quite soon. Let’s make sure you have a backup first. And for my students in the back of the class, if you have a 5+ year old Verizon flip phone (iPhone 5s or 5c too), it’s time to get a new one. Verizon is retiring its old calling network on 12/31/2020. Your old phone will be a paperweight. What a season we can have together — I’m looking forward to being there for you, every step of the way! Now you know why I get excited about the fall!!
Google Pixel 4a
If you are really into Google services, like Gmail and all they offer — you may want to consider their new Pixel 4a Android phone. It has been priced to compete squarely with Apple’s new mid-range iPhone SE. Google even beats the price by $50, coming in at $349. The 4a works on all major carriers. Here is a sneak peek — https://store.google.com/us/product/pixel_4a
The Future Of Movies
Who is going to the movies? I haven’t since last fall. Are 15 cent tickets from AMC going to lure you in? Have you heard of any big summer releases? Crickets are chirping here. Here is what Disney is doing through their Disney + app for the soon to be released Mulan movie. They are going to release it in the app on the same day it hits the theater — for a premium charge of $30. I was wondering when this would happen. I know that even under normal circumstances, it could really crimp the movie theaters’ business, but this day was going to come sooner or later. I think more new movies will come out, but I think Xfinity On Demand, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime should all get in on this cutting edge content delivery model. Instead of 3 people going to a theater, that may or may not be safe, you pay $30 (or $40 or whatever) and watch it at home. You can make yourself an iced tea and skip the diabetic coma soda and $10 popcorn. It’s a win win. Of course, not every app will have every new movie. There are going to be exclusive deals. It would be nice if there is just a “movie theater app” and you don’t have to pay monthly but you can just buy individual movies that interest you. Day 1 new movies — coming soon to a home theater near you!
This week reminded me of the 2 storms in 2011 when many of us lost power from 3 days during the summer storm to more than a week in the “October Surprise.” I’ll never forget driving completely blind in the snow one night trying to go the 3 to 4 miles from my apartment down the road where several family members lived. I was lost in a blizzard, running on faith.
The big difference in 2020 was, I never lost power or internet. I must be in a good location as far electrical reliability is concerned because in the 5+ years we have lived here, we have never lost power in any storm. As much as I like to criticize Comcast, I got them to install a separate line in 2015 directly from my modem to the street. Since then, my connection has been trouble free.
However, I have heard from some of you. I know you are in bad shape. You may have no power, no internet, or power, but are lacking internet. I want to support you in whatever way I can, possibly to help you to in the current crisis and to prepare for the future.
-Just as was the case back in 2011, I think some of you may want to have a hard line / POTS telephone line with the phone company. This coupled with a corded phone can provide a real sense of security and companionship during a difficult time. Part of the problem is so many of us have moved to internet based phone lines from the cable company and even the phone company. Internet based phones do you ZERO good during a power outage. If you have a battery backup, that line may last you 8 hours. An old fashioned telephone line will still work unless the line is damaged. Your neighborhood may have had the traditional lines torn out. You may never be able to get that back, but you may. Consider what helps you sleep at night.
-Do you have the right cell phone provider? Have you been able to make and receive calls easily? Have you had trouble getting cellular data?
-Would you like to create a “hotspot” from your smartphone or get a little hotspot box so that you can connect your other devices like your laptop and tablet to the internet when your hard wired internet is down?
-Would you be interested in a cellular iPad so you have a computer like device that connects to the internet even when you have no WiFi?