Apple Finally Updates Mac Book Pro

I was planning to tell you about new iPhone sizes coming this fall and how the user experience will change.  I also wanted to tell you about other products coming out of Apple’s pipeline later this year.  This information will have to wait.

I have some bigger and better news!

Apple has released new Mac Book Pro laptops, in 13 and 15 inch sizes.  They are available today.  These laptops feature Intel’s latest 8th generation processors.  Most importantly, the new models have an improved, quieter keyboard.  Will it be the Mac Book keyboard from the 2006-15 glory days?  No, probably not.  However, it is the keyboard Mac Books will have going forward.  Apple has responded to the concerns of its ferociously loyal user base.

For those of you who have a 5 year old + Mac Book and have been waiting and heeded my warnings over the past few months, your new Mac Book Pro has arrived.  You have to be very careful when ordering.  (That’s why it might be a good idea to let me order for you.)

https://www.apple.com/shop/buy-mac/macbook-pro

Most of my clients buy 13 inch Mac Books.   The base model 13 inch Pro HAS NOT been upgraded.  It is being left out like a child forced to sit in the corner.  You don’t want this one.  It is STILL the 2017 model with the completely flawed keyboard.  The 2018 Pro 13 models are known as Mac Book Pro “Touch Bar and Touch ID” models.   The pricing starts at $1799.  It comes with a 256 GB SSD hard drive.  That one would be fine for most of my clients.  If a larger hard drive or more memory (RAM) is desired, they can be added at the time of ordering.  (You will also want a couple USB C to USB dongle adapters ($10 to $20 each) to plug in devices like printers and hard drives to your Mac. All Mac Book Pros since 2016 have only USB C ports.  Your older plug in devices have USB A plugs.)

The only real question is, should you get the Apple Care Warranty?  These laptops have no upgradable parts.  The hard drive and RAM are baked into the logic board.  If something goes, it is a very expensive repair.  Apple’s warranty support is known for being the best in the business.  However, I realize that we are discussing adding $249 to a premium priced laptop.  I’ll leave the choice up to you.  Apple’s standard warranty runs for one year.  You do have a full year to decide whether or not to add Apple Care for year 2 and 3.

The Apple is sweet today!

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Turn off ads in Windows 10

One of the most annoying things with Windows 10, after the too frequent updates, is that they are placing ads in the operating system.  The two places where you primarily see these are are 1) on the login screen (lock screen) and 2) on the Start Menu.   You paid for your computer.  Part of that computer purchase included a license for Windows.  Why should you see ads before you even get to the Internet? I had a client recently tell me that he kept getting pop-ups from the Microsoft Store every time he logged into his computer.  Very unusual. After a little detective work, I saw that this happened because he was mistakenly clicking one of the two or three little ads Microsoft places on the login screen. 

I can’t help with the ads on the Start Menu, but the login screen ads can be removed with a quick settings change. 

Start Menu >> Settings >> Personalization >> Lock Screen

Change Background (menu) from Windows Spotlight to Picture.

Choose any one of the pictures provided. 

Hope this helps de-clutter your Windows life!

Not That Mac Boy Who Cried Wolf

They’ve done it!

Apple has launched an official repair program for keyboards on 2015-2017 MacBooks and 2016-2017 Mac Book Pros.  In my opinion, this is one step short of a recall. 

I was recently asked by a client if they should get a new Mac laptop.  I said, try to hold out until October if you can.  Apple has not refreshed their laptop lineup in 2018. They would be tone deaf to the market if they don’t do it by the end of the year.  There are alternatives.  Some are switching to higher end Windows laptops.  The 2017 Mac Book Air (which doesn’t suffer from the same problems) is still available, despite it sporting a 2010 design and 2015 parts.

This article on The Mac Observer explains it all.

https://www.macobserver.com/news/product-news/apple-launches-keyboard-service-program-for-macbook-macbook-pro/

A Mac and iOS Update

1)   Minor macOS (version 10.13.5) and iOS (11.4) updates came out a few weeks ago.  You should have them installed on your respective devices.  I think you know how to grab the updates, but if you didn’t accept the automatic push here is what you need to do.    Mac:  Apple menu (top left) App Store (or open the Mac App Store).  iOS:  Settings > General.

2)  Apple’s big June 4th event:  It was all about software this time, unlike previous years.  No new Macs 😦 There will be new versions of the mac OS and iOS coming later this year, macOS 10.14 and iOS 12.  I expect a release window of September – November.  You can install these upgrades yourself, but as always I will make myself available to do it for you.  I always make sure my clients have a full backup before major software changes.   The new version of the macOS will be compatible with all 2012 and later models.  The new version of iOS will be compatible with the iPhone 5s and later, iPad Air and later, and iPad Mini 2 and later.

My buying advice remains the same as a few weeks ago.  Desktop:  iMac (2017) with the SSD hard drive (custom order) is a go.  Laptop:  Mac Book Air, 13 inch (2017) is my pick right now.  If you are looking for a newer design and faster parts, lets see if they refresh the Mac Book Pros with a better keyboard in the fall.

3) New iPhones:  I’m careful not to give too much attention to speculation.  After all, Apple rumors are a business for some in the technology media.  However, I’ve come across multiple reports from various sources over the past few months concerning the size of the 2018 crop of iPhones.  It seems like they are getting bigger. We could see 5.8 inch, 6.1 inch and even 6.5 inch iPhones.   FYI, the iPhone X has a 5.8 inch screen but looks smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus (5.5 inch screen) because of the slimmer bezel.  I have not seen any reports about new models of the iPhone SE (4 inch last  updated in 2016) and the iPhone 8 (4.7 inch – released in 2017).  Could you get used to a larger phone?

Windows Update: Warnings and Advice

Dear Windows Clients:

I decided to keep this message to my Windows users only, after all why would those with the fruit-flavored computers care about this anyway?

Recap:  Windows 10 – 1803:  How to delay and who can delay

I have been sharing a lot of advice lately about Windows 10 – version 1803.  It is literally the 6th new version of Windows to come out since the original Windows 10 in late July 2015.  Each one, while called Windows 10, has been a new version of Windows thrown at your computer. I think it’s excessive that they want to push 2 versions of Windows 10 per year. It was true last year and it will be the reality for 2018 as well.   In a previous post, I detailed how to delay your “Windows feature updates” (aka new versions of Windows) by 120 days while still letting the security updates come as scheduled.  The post with instructions can be found here.  https://theacronym.com/2018/02/22/windows-10-version-1803-how-to-delay-it/ On every Windows computer that I’ve touched over the past few months, where possible, I’ve implemented the 120 day delay.  Others have followed my lead and set up the delay themselves.

You can only delay new versions if you have the Pro version of Windows 10.  I’ve chosen this for you if I’ve ordered your computer or deliberately flipped the switch to Pro for you.  If you purchased your Windows computer on your own, there is a very high likelihood that you have the Home version of Windows 10. You are forced to take new versions of Windows at Microsoft’s whim.  As you will read below, that can be very dangerous.

A computer rendered useless by 1803

So far I’ve interacted with a couple clients’ computers who have successfully upgraded to 1803.  These systems all happened to be Dell desktops, 2 consumer grade and 1 business class, and ranged from about 4 to 8 years old.  I personally upgraded 2 of them to 1803 and on the 3rd one, I did some maintenance after the fact.  They are fine.  However, I got a very troubling report from a client last week.  Windows 10 1803 made her computer basically inoperable.  The screen was very dark and there was no way of making it brighter.  It definitely seemed like this supposedly ready for primetime version of Windows was not interacting properly with the video display hardware on her computer.  No major changes had been made to the system other than the new version of Windows, which was forced on Windows 10 Home, with no way of delaying it.  I suggested contacting Microsoft as they should take some responsibility for the damage that their mandatory software caused. 

Here is the rather interesting verdict.  The computer, although purchased in 2012 (Dell, consumer laptop), is obsolete. For all I know, it could have been a 2011 laptop that was sold in 2012, but I don’t know for sure.  However, it’s important to realize that each version of Windows 10 is truly a new version, just as if they called it Windows 10, 11, 12, 13, etc.  Each time Microsoft churned out a new iteration they had to decide which hardware they would support (just like Apple does with new versions of mac OS).  Having worked on this computer before I know that I did not have one of the mainstream Intel Core (like Core i3, i5, i7) processors that were common back from approximately 2010 through today.  It featured an Intel chipset that either didn’t sell in great volume or was simply deemed not powerful enough by Microsoft to run Windows 10 1803 effectively.  Fortunately, the Microsoft employee was able to do some special programming and revert the laptop to Windows 1709 (a feature built into Windows) and block all future updates.  I don’t know if security updates are also blocked, but the good thing is that it buys the client a little more time with the computer.

Shame on Microsoft for letting the situation go this far!   When Windows decides to check for new updates (including new versions), they have the power to do a basic hardware scan of the system. They know what Intel chipset (or AMD) is installed inside.  If a particular version of Windows 10 won’t run properly, it should never be pushed out to those particular computers.  Apple certainly does this with their software. Where is the quality control here Microsoft?

Buying advice

With all of this expressed, I recently installed 1803 on my wife’s 10 year old business class Dell Optiplex desktop.  The latest version of Windows 10 runs very well. The Optiplex 330 line from that era was purchased in millions of units by governments and large corporations.  Microsoft knows this and was not about to render it obsolete.   I want to give some general advice here that you can’t go wrong with. Let me order your next Windows 10 computer for you.  If we don’t do it as part of an appointment, I can do it for you over the phone and set it up when it arrives.  I don’t charge more for this service and I don’t make a commission off of the computer. The kind of Windows computers that I order are typically business class systems from the likes of Lenovo, Dell or HP. They are not found in big box stores or on Amazon.  Intel’s CPU’s are currently on the 8th generation of core processors.  An 8th or 7th generation, Core i3, i5, or i7 processor, with at least 8 GB of RAM, and Windows 10 Pro will stand the test of time.  While I can’t promise 10 years, I think you will be happy with its lifespan.  These should be your purchasing parameters.

Delaying 1803 further

Wherever possible, I have delayed or had you delay your Windows 10 – 1803 upgrade by 120 days.  The maximum delay you can impose is 365 days. You will still get security updates because you have left that delay at 0. If you do nothing further, you will probably get 1803 pushed out to your computer sometime in September in Windows 10 Pro.  Following the instructions at https://theacronym.com/2018/02/22/windows-10-version-1803-how-to-delay-it/ I have no problem with you upping the delay to 365 days IF IF IF…. you have an image backup of your system.   If your computer crashes in the next year, you will want to restore to the version of Windows you had and not be forced into Windows 10 1803. An image backup will allow you to do that.   On many of your computers, I have installed my preferred imaging program Macrium Reflect (not a Mac program).  If you know your computer is backing up to an external drive via Macrium Reflect – then go ahead and delay the new version to the max of 365 days. 

If you are not sure if you have an image backup or if you even have Windows 10 Pro, please feel free to ask questions.  Let’s keep our Windows computers running smoothly without forced mandates and outside interference.

Beware Browser Hijacks

Most of you use the Google Chrome browser.  It is my browser of choice as well.  However, this message is still applicable if you use Firefox, Safari, or even Microsoft Edge.

The security threat I see most often these days is the browser hijack.  This does not mean your whole computer had been taken over by malware.  However, your browser has been corrupted.  Your homepage may be unfamiliar to you.  Google searches are being rerouted to a strange search engine.  Its even possible that all of your browser traffic is being intercepted.  Scary stuff!

You can tell if you are being hijacked by searching in the search box of your browser or going to Google.com.  Search for whatever you’d like, “new restaurants Philadelphia” for example.  The results page should CLEARLY come up on a Google page (or possibly Bing if you use the Edge browser).  It should be obvious – clear as day.

If you do not see Google search results, you have a problem.  It’s likely that you have mistakenly installed a bad extension in your browser.   Most often, this is not a crisis requiring the operating system to be reinstalled.

However, your browser history needs to be cleared, the offending extensions need to be removed, and the browser needs to be reset.
Don’t lose hope!

Weekly Technology Update

A. Privacy:  GDPR and Oath.   You may have received a bunch of notices recently detailing the updated privacy policies of various services that you use.  The European Union’s new privacy laws take effect on May 25th.  These regulations are known as GDPR.   They are taking customers’ data a lot more seriously than we are on this side of the pond.  International companies such as Facebook and Google are adhering to these standards even for their American customers.  It’s a solid business practice.  Did you know that you can download all of your Facebook (or Google) data in a single file?  Did you know that you can control how Facebook advertises to you?   GDPR = Good.   To find out more http://money.cnn.com/2018/05/21/technology/gdpr-explained-europe-privacy/index.html

Additionally, some of you who have a Yahoo or AOL account may have received notices about policies from an organization known as Oath.  (My joke is — “zero authorization to violate your privacy,” but I’ll get back on topic.).  Oath is a division of Verizon that oversees both Yahoo and AOL.   Yahoo users may have even been asked to accept the new terms.  You really don’t have a choice if you want to keep using the account.   As a quick primer for those new to the VIP Computer Care family — my favorite free e-mail accounts are Google and Outlook.com.   Customers may choose a paid e-mail account if they want to get actual customer support.  My favorite choices  here are Fastmail ($20 per year), G (G Suite a paid Google account, $5 per month), or Office 365 (a paid e-mail account from Microsoft, $5 per month).

B.  Windows:   I’m still compiling reports of horror stories from users that had bad experiences with the latest version of Windows 10 (version 1803), released on April 30th.  Whenever possible, I have set your Windows computers to a 120 day delay schedule.   Unfortunately, I had to help a customer last weekend who couldn’t delay Windows version upgrades.  He purchased a consumer grade Windows desktop.  I offered the next best thing.  I managed the upgrade for him.  It took 2 hours, which is about what I expected.  With fingers crossed, there were no hiccups.  I am not recommending that I do this proactively for others, at this time, if you have already been set up for a delay.  Ultimately, Microsoft will iron out the wrinkles.  After all, hundreds of millions of business customers rely on Windows.   Version 1803 should be ready for prime time in a few months.  In August, lets talk about upgrading your computer. 

C.  Mac:  Apple’s big annual event, the WWDC, is happening on June 4th.  While it’s not specifically a new hardware event, Apple has been known to release new Macs at this event.   We can only hope that they offer a mea culpa on the Mac Book Pro and their awful keyboards.  At the very least, they could update the Mac Book Air with 2018 innards.  (The 2017 Air, while still my #1 choice at this date and time, features 2015-era parts.)   Additionally, the Mac Mini needs a major refresh.  It has not been updated since October 2014.  Apple needs to keep a $500-600 Mac on the market to welcome new customers into the family.