3 Thoughts For You This Week

I have three things for you this week:  A little iPhone 11 commentary based on my experience thus far, an addendum to my briefing on updates from last week, and a Business Note which covers a service that you may not know I offer. 

iPhone 11 Commentary

The iPhone 11 has been working out well for me.  I was happy to get a very fair trade in offer from Apple on my iPhone 8.   One of the nice features of the 11 (and actually 2018 models and later) is that the phones support 2 numbers, on multiple carriers if needed, as long as your carrier is willing to play ball.   Based on my experience, I would only recommend buying the iPhone through Apple (online or in store) because most of the time, the phone is going to be unlocked.   I also chose Apple’s payment plan but you can do carrier interest free financing through Apple as well.

An Update On Updates

I mentioned that delaying the new macOS 10.15 is appropriate for some users who are running older Mac software (32 – bit apps).  In general, I believe its appropriate to wait a few weeks or months to install a new version of macOS.   If you are not tied to old apps, waiting until 15.1 arrives might be  good time.  With this said, 10.15 represents a serious improvement in Mac security.  The system files (targets that hackers love to attack) are placed in a hard to reach “enclave” that even the user will not be able to mess with.  Mac OS 10.15 represents Apple really locking things down.

Furthermore, another new version of Windows 10 will be coming shortly.  It will be known as Windows 10 1909 – November Update.   And maybe this will be a new trend from Microsoft.  This new version won’t require heavy lifting.   It will install like a normal Windows update.  It’s been said that your computer won’t even need to restart.  Perhaps — Microsoft is going to make the Spring release of Windows a big upgrade and the Fall one a tiny update.   I can live with that but it should still be just one new version per year.   You should all be on Windows 10 1903 by now — the version that came out earlier this year.  The best way to ensure you get all of the Windows updates and upgrades is to leave your computer plugged in and sleeping at night.  I’m hoping 1909 comes to you as disruptively as possible. 

Business Note

I don’t really talk about it a lot but I have helped clients block unwanted websites for years.  Sites blocked may include adult websites, games, or other time wasting websites.  Bad websites can be just as addictive as drugs or alcohol.  I am not here to shame you.  I am here to help.  It may be a personal issue — or it may be related to kids or visitors to your home.  I can institute blocks on both the network, computer, and mobile device levels (Mac, Windows, iOS, Android).   If necessary — reporting systems can be set up as well.  (Good tip for parents out there — it’s easier to set up apps that report on device activity with Android devices than iOS).  You don’t have to feel guilty or bad — you can just tell me — I want to block _____ kinds of websites.  I will come up with a practical solution for you.  And of course, I will regard what I do for you with the utmost in confidentiality. 

Updates: Can’t Live With Em–Can’t Live Without Em

Do I need to do the updates? is a common question I get from clients.   Well, they are pretty hard to avoid in many instances.  Software updates to our devices bring us feature improvements (or new features), security and stability fixes.  Due to the fact that I deal primarily with an older client base, new features don’t tend to WOW “Bobby from Southington” that much.  However, one new feature that I think is pretty cool is that iOS 13 now offers a light mode and a dark mode. It can even automatically switch between the 2 at night which is very easy on my eyes.  The Mac and Windows operating systems had a dark mode previously.  Primarily, I think updates are important because they patch holes that attackers can use to penetrate your system.   I try to be consistent in the language I use with you.  Updates are the little fixes that come out all the time, for example 13.1.2 that just came out for iOS and iPad.  Upgrades are the major new versions of the operating system.  For Macs and iOS devices — these come out once a year.  Windows has been rolling out 2 new versions of Windows per year since 2017 — which is one version too many.  I usually put my Windows clients on a delay when possible.  In general, I like the idea of setting devices to update automatically.  Set it and forget it (no I did not pay for the trademark!).

Updates Can Wreak Havoc

Though Windows 10 has generally been very stable for my clients since it launched in July 2015, there have been more than half dozen new upgrades / new versions of Windows 10 released since then — all called Windows 10.  HOW CONFUSING RIGHT?  I think that a Windows 10 upgrade has only trashed a client’s computer three times and two of those times were with the same client. Sad, but true.  I think their PC was never really meant to be supported by the manufacturer for Windows 10 in the long haul.  I am not a commissioned salesperson, but that is why I always recommend letting me order a business class Windows computer for you.   My wife has been using a Dell Optiplex desktop — purchased in 2008 — with upgrades to hardware over the years — to this day.  It has gotten all the new versions of Windows 10 since 2015.  Minor updates can cause problems too.  On October 4th, Microsoft pushed out an update for Windows 10 that was supposed to improve Internet Explorer (who uses that anymore?) and printing functions.  Unfortunately, it blocked printing for a small but ticked off percentage of Windows users including one of my clients.   An update to the update was put out on October 7th to fix this.   Are you keeping score at home?  Good, because I’m not.  🙂

Be Careful About the New Version of Mac OS Released Yesterday

Mac OS 10.15 – code named Catalina – was released yesterday.  I often tell my Mac clients, with compatible Macs (2012 and newer in this case) to upgrade. It doesn’t have to be right away but within the first couple months is fine.  I also make myself available to clients to manage the upgrade for them and make a backup of the installer.  Things can go wrong and most feel that a 2 hour appointment for this is well worth it.   However,  for 10.15  I am pumping the brakes and telling you to do the same — IF — you have a lot of software on your computer dating back years.   Mac OS 10.15 does not support 32-bit Mac apps.  These are usually apps that are more than 5 years old that have not been updated recently.  Those apps may be very important to you.   If so, hold off on 10.15.   Microsoft Office 2016 will be fine.   All current Apple apps are fine.  However, your case may be the exception.   Reach out and ask for help if you think you may have an issue.   OS 10.15 will be great, but you may want to give yourself time to work out alternatives.

When Clients Improve My Practice

As you probably have guessed many of my weekly updates are based on client situations.  However, there are times when I interact with a client and that situation actually helps to enlighten my perspective about something related to technology or makes me remember a forgotten tip that could be quite relevant. 

Here are a couple of points I want to share.

-The “Apple keychain password manager” is not a terrible one.  It’s quite good for basic needs. This manager will allow you to sync passwords between Mac, iPhone, and iPad.  Sorry, but it doesn’t work in Windows.  You will be able to fill in passwords in Safari on all of the devices and in multiple apps that support password managers on your iOS / iPad devices.  If Windows is involved in any way or you want a better password manager, I still recommend Last Pass or 1Password.  I don’t like that there is seemingly no way to export or print passwords from the Apple password manager, but it is certainly better than no password manager.  Google also has a version of this that syncs with Chrome and Android phones, but I trust Google less with my passwords than Apple. 

-I think it’s really important to have a second browser on your computer, loaded up with an ad-blocker of course.  On Sunday night, a client told me that a website would print better in the alternate browser.  Another reason to have access to browser number 2 is that you want to multi task — certain websites will be open in browser 1 (remember you can have more than one — right now I have like 15 open in various tabs) and others will be open in browser 2.  Finally, your first browser may get corrupted.  A lot of infections these days stay within the browser and do not spread to the computer.  Having that second browser can help you get work done or just use your computer safely until you have a chance to contact a tech like me for help.  Edge is the default browser in Windows these days (which most people don’t use).  Chrome is the #1 browser in the world by use.  Safari is the default browser on the Mac.  Other browsers you can use include Google Chrome, Firefox, or Brave.  Those are my top 3 choices in no order.  Brave is kind of cool because they block ads by default.  It was created by one of the founders of Firefox.  Fire up your alternate browser at least once a month so it updates (though it may happen automatically). 

Mac Tips–Red Lights and Green Lights

1.  Apple updated its Safari browser to 13.0.1 this week.  I have never been a huge fan of Safari — but its really growing on me as of late because improvements in browser safety.  If you are attached to Firefox or Chrome, this may be less of a priority, but if you use Safari — checking for the update is a must.   If you are still running Mac OS 10.13 please go to the App Store and check for Updates.   If you have Mac OS 10.14 (with a really new Mac), you will want to go to the Apple Menu (top left), System Preferences and Software Update.   If you are not seeing any updates, then you have the latest version of Safari.   Recent enhancements to Safari include

-Forcing browser extensions to be installed from the Mac App Store only.   If you do not see the “stop sign” Ad Block Plus — please install it for Safari from the Mac App Store

-Starting with version 13.0.1 – you will be required to approve each website that wants to download something to your Mac.   If you weren’t planning on downloading something and you get this pop – up — don’t approve it.

2. Mac OS 10.15 is coming out next month.  It is known as “Catalina”.  And while I usually recommend installing new OS’es (sometimes with my help) for eligible Macs within the first 3 months — you may actually want to hold off if you are using older Mac applications that cannot be updated.  OS 10.15 will no longer support older 32-bit Mac apps.    Following the few quick steps in this article will show you how to check for 32-bit apps on your Mac.    If you depend on any of these apps, you should not update to the next Mac OS until you have found updates for them or replacements.   Feel free to get back to me on any 32-bit apps that you have concerns about.  I’ll let you know if you should delete it, update it, or put the brakes on Mac OS 10.15.  Follow the steps here 

https://appleinsider.com/articles/19/08/13/how-to-check-which-mac-apps-are-32-bit-and-wont-work-in-macos-catalina

The Perils Of Buying Used Smartphones

4K TV Is Coming

Most of the TV’s you have bought over the past 2 years have been 4K TV’s.  However, there hasn’t been much 4K live TV content.  Netflix and Amazon Prime offer 4K video as does You Tube.  I just saw the ad tonight — Comcast will be offering Notre Dame Football games this year on NBC in 4K.  To make this happen with Comcast / Xfinity — you need 2 key components:  1) a 4K TV and 2) a cable box that supports 4K. 

The Perils of Buying Used Smartphones

The following write up originally started as an e-mail to a client last week concerning a used smart phone issue we were dealing with.  I polished it up a bit and realized it was good to share with all of you.

Used smartphones, especially iPhones and high-end Android devices can be a nightmare unless you know who you are getting them from.  Take these 2 lessons to heart

1)  Ideally they should be UNLOCKED.   Locking is a nasty trick that carriers use on their phones to keep you on their service.  After the phone is paid off or a contract is fulfilled –they are not automatically unlocked.  A customer has to call up and ask for the unlock code and then go through some motions after the fact which are usually pretty easy.  People can buy unlocked phones directly from Apple and that does happen in some instances.  ** Verizon has always been the one exception with carrier financed phones, since about 2011 they have not locked their smartphones because they had to make  a deal with the FCC.  As of July 1 that policy changed with Verizon now locking smartphones for 60 days (to prevent theft they say).  They have no power to go back and retroactively lock existing phones.  Buying a carrier locked smartphone, with no ability to go back and contact the seller to get in unlocked, could mean that you are unable to use it with the carrier of your choice.  FYI, Apple says that most iPhone models purchased through their physical stores or apple.com (with the exception of some ATT models) are unlocked.   

2)  The second concept I want to introduce to you  is the idea of “financial locking” or blacklisting.  Most customers finance their iPhones and expensive smartphones these days.  On Craigslist, Offer Up, or other known sites for peer to peer sales — there will be many deals for “great phones” that seem way too good to be true.   Think of  an iPhone XS for $200.  It is a totally fake deal.  I have a good friend who got burned on the buying end of this a few years back.  Let’s say the $900 phone has a couple scuffs on the back but is otherwise very operable.   He sells it for $200.  The buyer thinks they are the luckiest dude on earth!!  The seller had insurance on the phone and puts in a claim for a STOLEN phone.  The insurance company has the authority to blacklist the phone with all carriers — basically worldwide.  The seller is shipped a new phone and the original is blacklisted — it is rendered in operable and cannot be activated.  Maybe just maybe it could be used on WiFi only.   Another version of the scam goes like this.   A young kid (18+ of course) buys a $1000 phone.   A maxed out iPhone 11 Pro Max with monthly payments is about $55 to $60 a month.  He decides — Oops I’m over my head can’t make the payments.  He does not go through the proper channel of having a buyer legally assume the contract on the phone.  He sells it for a steal of a price — $200.  The buyer is in heaven or so they think.  Wow.   2 months later when the seller’s cellular account gets cancelled for non payment — the phone gets blacklisted under the same process.  It is a paperweight.

Oh – the perils of buying used smartphones!

Note to iOS Clients

As you may nor may not know — Apple released the latest new version of its mobile operating system iOS 13 on Thursday.  

However, don’t be in a big rush to manually seek out the update right now.   In fact, if you get prompted before 1 PM ET on 9/24 — delay the upgrade.

A revision to the new version iOS 13.1 will be available then.  Furthermore at that time the software on the iPad will be known as iPad OS

Bottom line:  It’s really good to keep your iPhones and iPads up to date — but why don’t don’t you go to Settings > General > Software Update — some time after 1 PM on 9/24 when you are back home on WiFi.   No need to be an early adopter before then if you can at all avoid it.   And as always make sure your devices are backed up to iCloud, the computer or both, before installing a major new version of iOS / iPad OS.