Category: iOS stuff

Technology Update for March 20th

Today’s themes are security and privacy. I hope these tips can make a difference for you.

1. Make sure you have a real billing passcode with your cellular provider

For years cellular providers have used the last 4 digits of your Social Security number as your billing passcode.  However, they also allow you to set your own passcode (some sequence of 4 to 8 numbers).  PLEASE set up your own passcode with them if you haven’t already. Do you know who is at the other end of the line when you give the last 4 of your SS# time after time? Of course not.  They might be a rogue employee or an overseas contractor looking to do you harm.  I recently heard two first hand accounts of customers (who happened to be with T-Mobile) who had their cell phone numbers transferred (aka “ported”) to another service without their authorization.  With access to their phone number, the criminal was then able to access their bank account via a code that was text messaged to them on the “new” phone.  You can only imagine the transactions that followed.  This was possible because the bad actor knew the billing passcode on the cellular account with the original provider.  It was the last 4 digits of the Social Security number.  I have been told that you can also set up your own billing passcode with other companies like Comcast.   Stop using the last 4 of your SS#.  Act now.

2. Facebook data collection nightmare

The free service they have provided you for over a decade is not free. Chances are, your data has been mined repeatedly since you signed up for the most used social network.  By no means am I calling for a mass exodus from Facebook.  I have clients who post no content of their own, but use it to stay in touch with family, their community, and organizations they support.  There are practical and very positive uses for Facebook.  However, you’ve likely seen the news over the past few days.  Facebook claims to have been exploited by a data analytics firm that relied heavily on its site for their business model.  Frankly, the practice has been going on for years (with many partners) and Facebook has been a willing provider when it suited their interests.  Think of all of the games, apps, and surveys you have logged into with your Facebook account.  Parts of or all of your entire Facebook profile have been shared with those 3rd parties.   It is time for you to tighten the belt on your Facebook profile and privacy.

3. Net Neutrality:  Bye Bye

Are you worried about the FCC doing away with Net Neutrality protections?  The end is near.  Your internet service provider may not be able to know what you do on secure (https) websites but they will be able to sell the data of which websites you go to and use this info for their own marketing purposes.   If they take their newfound latitude to an extreme, they could even create tiers of internet service based on usage.  Ok, so you want to use You Tube and Netflix?  We will charge you more!  You can block your provider from seeing your traffic, period.  Use a VPN – a virtual private network.  A VPN is a service (think of it at as a small program) that runs in conjunction with your internet service.  It is easy to turn on and off or just leave on automatically.  There are only two VPN’s that I can recommend faithfully.  They are Private Internet Access and Tunnel Bear.  These services work on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.  They cost approximately $4 to $5 a month.  Put the brakes on further exploitation of your data.

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Desktop, Laptop, or Tablet

I was recently asked by a willing buyer, should I get a desktop, laptop, or tablet?

It certainly depends on the user’s habits and preferences.   I think a desktop is wise choice for someone who doesn’t mind doing their work in one place all the time and prefers using a larger screen.   The typical desktop monitor is 22 to 24 inches these days.  The standard high resolution (meaning everything is smaller) can be magnified or scaled up to give you a very comfortable viewing experience. 

Laptops are appropriate for users who want the flexibility to move around a lot (or at least once in a while) and don’t mind a smaller screen.  Some laptops can even be purchased with 17 inch screens, in the Windows world, so there may not even be that much of a compromise.  There is a wide spectrum of quality in the laptop game.  You could pay anywhere from $400 to $2500 for a laptop that works for you.  It simply depends on the purpose and features required.  As a final note on laptops, I will mention that I have had great experiences buying high quality, business class laptops for clients through the Dell and Lenovo outlets over the years.

Tablets (or even Chromebooks) are becoming a more popular choice for a consumer’s computer.  I set up a new iPad for a client over the weekend who will be using her iPad Pro as her primary personal computer.  I worked with a client today who only uses a Chromebook.   With an iPad or Chromebook, you can e-mail, compose documents, share files, edit photos, print (with a compatible printer), shop, do online banking, save files, and organize those files into folders.  Your device will be very SAFE compared to a Windows or Mac system.  However, you may not be able to run your favorite application for X (whatever X is for you).  For example, I like to use a program called The Journal in Windows to write personal journal entries.  I would not be able to use this program on an iPad or a Chromebook.   The greatest benefit to either of these devices is that you can KISS – keep it simple stupid.   As long as you can play within the sandbox, an iPad or Chromebook might just be your future computer.

Technology Services I Like–February 2018

1.  I found an electrical wizard for you.   I want to tell you about Ryan Eriksson from Eriksson Electric.  He knows his stuff.  Ryan can make sound recommendations but he also believes in respecting the customer’s comfort level.  He has a mind for saving on costs when possible. He believes in embracing modern technologies.  Ryan replaced three ceiling light fixtures in my home over the past few days.   He recommended LED-based fixtures that not only looked great, but are environmentally and budget friendly.   Ryan will let his customers buy their own equipment at Home Depot if they choose.  He even accompanied me on a trip to Home Depot on Friday and did not charge me for the time.   I cannot say enough good things about him.   You can call or text him at 860-236-4352.  You can check out Eriksson on the web at http://erikssonelectric.com/

2. Dropbox — is probably my #1 favorite computer based service of all time.  I have been a user since 2008.  At times I have used the free account and at times I have been a paid customer.   Dropbox gives you 2 GB of storage for free. Through various “bonuses” I have accumulated from them over the years, I have a 7 GB of storage on my free account.  After a quick installation, Dropbox will show up as a folder on your Windows or Mac computer.  Within it you can put multiple sub folders to store your files.   The beauty of Dropbox is that it isn’t really a backup service although you can use it to back up your files.   Dropbox is a file synchronization service.   That means if you put a document titled “Vacation Plans” in your Dropbox folder on your Mac / PC, you can also view that document on your iPhone, Android phone, or iPad where you have the free Dropbox app installed.  You can also easily share files from Dropbox.  Dropbox has never let me down.  Get started at https://www.dropbox.com/

3.  One Drive — Dropbox is not the only game in town for online file storage and synchronization.  One Drive is Microsoft’s answer.   It can work on all of the device types that Dropbox works on (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android).  One Drive does have a key advantage.  At https://onedrive.com you can see your files that you have save, but you can also create and share Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents right there in your web browser.  The online version of Microsoft Office is about 70% as feature rich as the desktop version of Office, but its so convenient.  It probably good enough for most consumer use cases.  And its free.  Maybe you don’t need to buy Office the next time you are required to.  You may be able to get by with https://onedrive.com .

4.  Google Drive — I should also mention Google Drive which is most comparable to One Drive.  If you have a Google / Gmail account, you should check out Google Drive.  It is an online storage and sync service, but that’s not all.  You can also create and share documents using Docs (Word equivalent), Sheets (Excel), and Slides (PowerPoint).  As with One Drive, you can also collaborate on documents live with other people.   If you and I were working on a proposal together, we could both edit using Google Drive.  Google Drive was first to the game with this collaboration technology, but Microsoft is catching up fast.  Put on your jacket and Drive at https://drive.google.com

iPad Pro Best Mac Laptop

Apple blew it with the 2016 and 2017 Mac Book Pro.  The keyboard is simply awful.  While the 12 inch Mac Book is adorable, it has the same keyboard. They even have a support document telling users that they have to tilt their laptop a a certain angle and use compressed air to push out debris.  Apparently, it takes very little for these keyboards to start causing problems.  It’s also clear that the Mac OS and iOS are coming closer together than ever before.  These two operating systems are on a collision course.

Apple revised their iPad Pro lineup in 2017 to give us a 10.5 and 12.9 inch model.  They start at $649.  Let me be clear, the standard iPad (at $329 and up) is good tablet for most users.  However, I would like to discuss the top of the product line today.  The new iPad Pros aim to be laptop replacements.  Of course you will need a keyboard to use with your iPad Pro.  Fortunately, you have so many choices available!!

You could use Apple’s Smart Keyboard.  I think it will give you a decent typing experience

If you are willing to have a separate wireless keyboard, you could use Apple’s (desktop) Magic Keyboard for an even better typing experience.   You can even bundle this keyboard and the iPad Pro together with a cover like system called the Canopy or just use the iPad Pro with any case that has a stand built into it.

You can also look into keyboard covers from well known players like Logitech and Zagg.

However, if you would truly like a keyboard cover that makes your iPad Pro look and feel like the Mac Book Pro that it aims to be, check out this choice from Brydge.   I think it’s an awesome option that should not be overlooked.

With the iPad Pro, you have typing choices.

However, Apple could repent.  They could update the Mac Book Air in 2018 and keep its excellent keyboard in circulation.  They may also reverse course on their 2016-2017 Mac Book disasters.  I doubt it.

On this day – February 2, 2018 – I am saying that the iPad Pro with a keyboard is your best “Mac Laptop.”

My iPhone X Notes

I had the opportunity to have some hands on time with the iPhone X.  That experience helped me to overcome my objections to the phone.   Yes, there is no home button.  The home button has been a standard feature on every iPhone since the original back in 2007.   Swiping up from the bottom replaces the functionality of the home button.   The phone gets unlocked by securely scanning your face or typing in a passcode (4 or 6 digits).  I don’t have a major issue with that.  In addition, I have no qualms with the size.  I thought  a 5.8 inch (diagonal) iPhone would be “too big.”  It does not seem that way.   The iPhone X is actually smaller in size than the 5.5 inch iPhone 8 Plus because the 8 Plus has a bezel on the top and bottom.   Both the 8 Plus and the X have OUTSTANDING cameras.  In contrast, the 4.7 inch iPhone 8 sports only minor upgrades from last years iPhone 7.   So the real question is — is the X worth $1000 (which you will likely pay in the form of interest free payments on your cell phone bill)?  Remember, the 8 Plus is going to be $800.  I am going to give you an analogy that I think you can relate to.   You may really like the $50,000 Cadillac.  It may have all of the gadgets, interior comfort, and safety features that the $65,000 Lexus has.   However, you may appreciate the curves on the Lexus more.  It hits your eye in the way that those legacy Cadillac tail lights never could.  You may want the Lexus or not.   That is the difference between the 8 Plus and the X.  On the inside, they are both the best phones that Apple has to offer.  It’s your choice not mine.

Sincerely,

An iPhone SE User

New iPhones Are Coming and Vintage Macs

New iPhones are coming!  New iPhones are coming!   I would expect an announcement within 2 to 3 weeks and for the phones to be available by October 1 or earlier.   You should expect

– An iPhone “7s” — an upgrade to last year’s 4.7 inch model

– An iPhone “7s Plus” — an upgrade to last year’s 5.5 inch model

– A Super Special 10th Anniversary iPhone — larger in size and with special features

The rumor mill is calling the 3rd iPhone the “iPhone 8.”  Samsung is now taking pre-orders for its Galaxy Note 8, priced at $960 (or $40 / mo on payment plans). I would expect the 10th Anniversary iPhone to be priced in that ballpark.

If it’s been about two years since you purchased your iPhone or you are on a yearly upgrade plan, you should strongly consider one of the new models.  While I suspect the 10th Anniversary model will sell well, I think most buyers will be very satisfied with the 7s or 7s Plus variants.   Not everyone wants a nearly 6 inch phone in their pocket.  I don’t.

For Sale

A dear client asked me to see if I could sell some vintage Macs for her.   Wikipedia write ups have been provided for you.

One is a Color Macintosh Classic that was first released in 1993.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macintosh_Color_Classic

The other one is a green iMac with a 1999-2000 birth date.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IMac_G3

I have not confirmed their usability yet, but, I think they would make a nice addition to a desk that needs a piece of computer history on it.  I think they would be fine technological ornaments in the right setting.   Please let me know if you are interested.  I will get back to you with more details and arrange to get them to you should you be interested.    Please see the attached pictures.

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The End of the iPod Era

Apple announced last week that they are pulling the iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle from their online and physical store shelves.  This marks the end of an era for Apple.  The 2001 launch of the original iPod was a major milestone in the Steve Jobs’ led rebirth of the company. They were no longer the Mac company. This product release eventually led them down the path of targeting the Windows audience with iTunes, and the  iPhone and iPad.  Truthfully, it is the sale of mobile devices that fuels this company.  At this time, on your iPhone, you have iPod features in the Music app.  Should you want to buy songs, you can go to the iTunes Store app.    Apple is still leaving a single iPod model, the iPod Touch, in their online store.    For those of you who are not aware, the Touch is like an iPhone but without the calling features.  It can access WiFi and the App Store.  It’s great for kids or as a special purpose device. 

I remember when I got my first iPod. I think it was Christmas of 2006.  I grew up loving radio as a youngster.  I have fond memories of listening to Talk Net programs like Bruce Williams at night.  Bruce was still on the air then and I was thrilled to be able to download his podcast, through iTunes, onto my iPod.   I soon found other shows that had once been broadcast locally, like the Troubleshooter Show from Denver, and put them on my iPod as well.  I began walking often while listening to these podcasts.  At times, when I have been an Android user, I have listened to my podcasts there.  Today, I listen to them on an iPhone app called Downcast (which in my opinion is so much better than Apple’s Podcasts app).   Most of the media I consume comes in the form of these radio broadcasts (some traditional shows, some online only) that are downloaded to my phone.  It all started with an iPod and that is a memory I will cherish.