Don’t you just hate it when technology companies remove features or services that we like? It is so frustrating. There may be some hope. The 2015 Mac Book Pro and Mac Book Air had such a solid design. These were reliable machines. They were a joy to type on. However, when the Mac Book Pro was updated in 2016 (and the Air in 2018), there were only two to four ports to plug things into (one used for charging) and the keyboards were flat as a pancake. On the higher end Pro models, they added a stupid Touch Bar with animated keys instead of the traditional Esc, F1, F2, etc, etc. Awful!!
As I have previously shared, they corrected the keyboard with the 2020 laptops. Rumors are swirling now that Apple will remove the Touch Bar in the 2021 models and (drum roll please) bring back a Mag Safe charger. If you recall that pre-2016 charger, it would easily disconnect if you walked into the cord — saving your laptop from damage and flying off the desk. Apple is going back to the old paths. I like the old paths.
Apple also reverted to old design cues and features with the iPhone 12 models. You should strongly consider one for your 2021 iPhone purchase. Remember the flat edges (sharp in a good way) of the iPhone 5, 5s and iPhone SE (2016)? Apple went back to that design with the 12’s that came out last fall. Furthermore, they are using only Qualcomm modems once again after using inferior Intel modems for a few years. Customers are reporting better signal performance in many instances.
Finally, not everyone likes using the Face ID on the iPhone 10 and later models. It can be a royal pain with a mask on. On the most recent iPad Air (the middle model), Apple re-introduced a Touch ID sensor. We can only hope they offer this on the 2021 iPhone models as well.
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.
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!!
Just wanted to give you all a mid-week blast. This came across my desk today and I thought some of you would want to flip the switch to turn it off.
I learned something new today — there is a fairly hidden setting in (Settings > Privacy> Location Services >> then down to the bottom, System Services) — called Significant Locations. It is a record of EVERYWHERE you have visited with your phone. Kind of creepy!
Anyway, you can turn this off. If you like the iPhone intelligently learning your patterns and making suggestions based on that — by all means leave it on.
I think I’ll be turning Significant Locations off.
I hear the birds chirping outside my window, but then again it’s unlike any other May Day in my lifetime. My cherry blossom tree already bloomed for the year. Hope you’re starting to see those signs of spring as well.
-The new iPhone SE is a winning release for Apple. I will be doing my first remote setups for clients over the next week or so. You could also buy it to hold for later. At $399 it is more powerful than almost any Android phone on the market. Whether you order directly from Apple or from your carrier, you can ask me which is best for you. In many instances there are interest free payments available. I think a lot of buyers will just purchase it outright. Drawbacks? I thought of one since last week and while it certainly isn’t a minus for me, it may be for some people. The iPhone SE does not have 5G cellular technology. Of course, no iPhone on the market has 5G right now. The new more expensive “iPhone 12” models released in the fall will almost certainly have 5G. Don’t let that stop you from taking advantage of this extreme value.
– 2020 Mac Book Air — I mentioned a few weeks ago that Apple has finally brought back the old keyboard design on their consumer focused Mac Books and that if you need a Mac Book, you can go ahead and strongly consider the new Air. https://www.apple.com/macbook-air/ When you choose the base model at $999 ($899 with education discount), you will want to make 1 upgrade during the checkout. PLEASE – choose the i5 processor for a $100 upgrade. It’s well worth it. So for $1099, you have an awesome Mac.
Not The Password Boy Who Cried Wolf – Part 127
I’ve sent out e-mails like this before. That is why I am calling it Part 127. I get these sad stories from clients every so often. An e-mail account has been compromised. Requests for payment or money were sent out. Someone didn’t screen the request properly and actually sent the money. During this time of Covid19, the scammers have not rested. This is peak season for them. Some hackers have software that just keeps guessing at e-mail passwords until they can “crack” them. The easier your password is, the better the chance that they will crack it quickly. However, major e-mail providers like Gmail, Yahoo and Microsoft do have systems in place that lock the account after an excessive number of tries. Yet, if your password is super easy to guess — it’s not going to help you anyway.
One thing I have noticed during this “stay safe, stay at home” period is that many of you have terrible passwords. You don’t take this seriously at all. Think of all of the services you have that can be broken into if a bad actor were to get into your e-mail account. Here are a few BEST PRACTICES that I have tried to teach to clients over the past 5 years or so. Unfortunately, I don’t think many are making the grade on this topic.
3 Ways to Create Better Passwords — Choose 1
-use a professional password manager — like Last Pass, 1Password, or Dashlane. (of course this involves learning a new piece of software and not everyone wants to do this).
– Use a random password generator. Set length to 12 or greater — and you will get totally randomized passwords to PRINT OUT. This is a tool I frequently use with clients https://www.random.org/passwords/
-Finally — a client can come up with their own if they use a good formula — secure base plus specific ending for each site. Again, it should be something easy for you to remember, hard for others to guess. Let’s say for example not many people know I like John Denver music.
My base might be — “Leavingonajetplane”
My password for Microsoft might be Leavingonajetplane20msft
My password for Google might be Leavingonajetplane19goog
And so on.
Again, those would be good passwords, if no one could associate me with that base.
Extra Credit: And while you have some time — if you do online banking — why don’t you call your bank’s help # and ask them this question. It’s a very simple one. What are you doing — beyond my user name and password — to protect my account? Is there a 2nd factor? Is there some other security measure? What do they offer beyond user name and password?
What I have been so impressed by is the creativity that other businesses are showing at this time. I’m really happy that smaller markets like Fitzgerald’s, Highland Park, Stew Leonard’s and others are stepping up and keeping the shelves stocked, when some of the more “big box” and corporate type stores have been perpetually cleaned out. It just seems to me like $5 / 20 roll toilet paper, $1 hand soap, and $2 hand sanitizer are not sustainable during times of insane demand or hoarding. However, stores that sell these items at sustainable prices have them. One Hartford business that has really impressed me by how they have met a consumer need is Hartford Flavor on Arbor St. They are known for producing fine hard liquor but these days they have used their capacity to make hand sanitizer. They take one customer at a time up the stairs at their headquarters. They have also donated a bunch of their product to front line workers. As you probably know commercial food suppliers are really having a tough go of it. Eggs and other staples are being trashed across the country. Sysco, a company that provides food to many restaurants we love, is now offering personal pickup two days a week for individual customers at their Rocky Hill warehouse. Some businesses have really been devastated and may never recover but I think it’s important to recognize those who are creating new supply channels during these wild times.
iPhone SE Taking Off Like A Rocket
I discussed the release of this phone with you last week. It is going to be a huge seller for Apple and depending on where you order from, the wait is already a couple weeks for delivery. This phone is so much better than the 2016 iPhone SE. It has a “normal” size screen that iPhone users have been used to since 2014 and of course at $399, it is priced to move. I will share a tid bit that I read in one of the tech publications this week. They said that even though this phone is $399, it has a more powerful processor than just about any Android phone on the market, including those costing more than double. Some of my clients have purchased this phone already and will do a remote setup with me (which I expect to take 1 to 1.5 hours if you are keeping score at home). Others are purchasing and holding it for later so that we can set it up together under better circumstances. Either option is fine by me with any device you want to purchase.
I also want to answer another question that I have gotten — what’s the catch? I think it’s a great question. Since Steve Jobs launched the iMac in 1998, Apple has performed with near genius precision at the unveiling of one product after another. They have had few duds. Apple’s original intent with the SE was probably to capture buyers who for some reason have held onto their iPhone 6, 6s and 7 and possibly 8’s (for those who bought it early on as it was a fall 2017 phone). They decided on this release sometime last year, not because of Covid 19, but the fact that it is happening now when a $1000 phone seems so out of sight for many laid off or downsized workers — makes Apple seem brilliant. I think they will also win over some % of Android users because this is a can’t lose price point. So who is the iPhone SE not for? If you see yourself as a semi-pro photographer, you will likely want a phone from the iPhone 11 series, and probably a Pro model. The camera on the SE is a single camera, definitely as good as the iPhone 8. Another person who the SE is not for is someone who wants two cellular lines on one phone. Starting with the 2018 models, all iPhone X series and 11 series support two lines. This can be a very useful feature, especially in the case of business and personal.
It feels like March 2016 again only better. Apple — overpriced? An Apple Tax to buy all of those Apple products? Not right now. First of all, they came out with a 2020 Mac Book Air a few weeks ago, with the good keyboard and LOWERED the price to $999. Apple knows that buyers are scared and budgets are constrained. So what did they do? They released a $399 iPhone SE on Wednesday, with the SAME CPU inside as the iPhone 11 / Pro.
I am not making this up. It is 100% for real. In March 2016, they first launched the SE line @ $399. However it was a really small 4.0 inch design based off of the 2013 iPhone 5s. I bought one that summer and used it as my daily driver for more than 18 months. The SE is back and better than ever. The screen is now 4.7 inches. If you have an iPhone 6, 6s, 7 or 8 — the new SE is the same size and timeless design put out by Apple back in 2014. Especially if you are still using a 6 (which will not get any more updates), 6s or 7 — this phone purchase is a no brainer. Do it! You may just choose to buy it outright or you could do interest free payments with your carrier for $16.66 a month for 24 months.
$699 iPhone 11? $999 iPhone 11 Pro? Unless you need to have 2 phone lines on 1 phone or some of the advanced features, you probably don’t need that more expensive phone. An iPhone SE would suit most of my clients just fine.
I just wanted to send this note out to a few of you whom I thought would be very interested to know.
The source is today’s Wall Street Journal, on WSJ.com. Apple has reversed course from previous guidance. Disinfecting wipes, like Clorox are now OK for the iPhone. Sprays are still bad.
Happy President’s Day!
Taking Notes Electronically
I have taken notes on my computer and smartphones for more than a decade. I love making little journal type notes, writing lists, and making agendas with note taking software. I know some of you even keep passwords in Apple’s Notes app on your iPhones (Yikes!). You don’t have to take all of your notes on paper or think you have to create a Word document and save it in a folder. Use a note taking app! Add pictures and attach files. Some examples I am very familiar with —
1. One Note from Microsoft. FREE. iPhone / Android apps, Mac and Windows apps, Via web browser @ Onenote.com
2. Apple’s Notes. FREE. iPhone / iPad apps, Mac app, Can use in Windows via web browser @ iCloud.com
3. Google Keep. FREE. iPhone and Android apps, Via the computer at keep.google.com
4. Evernote. Can use apps for free on 2 devices, Can use for FREE via web browser @ evernote.com, Paid options available for power notetakers
3 Reasons Why I Always Recommend Windows 10 Pro (as Opposed to Windows 10 Home – shipped with most consumer grade PC’s)
– Prompt for Credentials can turned on — This means that your password needs to be typed in whenever new software is installed or major changes are made to the system. This is very secure (just like on the Mac). You need the Pro version of Windows for this feature. The default option is just YES or NO, not good enough. The password prompt makes you stop and think.
– Windows Feature Updates (ie. New Versions) can be delayed by up to 365 days. Don’t be a guinea pig for Microsoft. I like setting a 120 day delay at a minimum.
-Bit Locker can be turned on. Bit Locker is similar to File Vault on the Mac (which is included for Free by the way). It encrypts your hard drive. Therefore if a bad guy steals your computer – they can’t easily get at your files.
* If you get stuck with a computer that has Windows 10 Home, you can still upgrade to Pro. However, it is a $99 charge. Pro can be activated through the Microsoft Store app. It’s a quick process and takes less than 20 minutes. It’s better to order a computer with Windows 10 Pro from the beginning.
Comcast Sticking It To Us
I don’t know if you noticed this with your December Comcast bill, but I wasn’t too pleased to see what they are doing effective 12/20/2019. Although I am under an existing contract for a guaranteed price for my internet and TV through May 2020 — my fees will be going up. I believe they can raise the fees portion of the bill even if you are in a contract. If you are not in a contract, your fees will definitely be going up. So here is the damage — Broadcast TV fee (designed to capture what local stations charge Comcast for transmitting their feeds to us) $10 to $14.95, TV box fee (charge for that 1st cable box) $2.50 to $4.60, and the remote fee is going up from $0.18 to $0.40. So this looks like an additional $7.27 if I did the math correctly. Are the retransmission fees that Comcast is charged by the local stations going up? I don’t know. I also know that prices of most internet packages are going up $3 per month, however, I don’t think this applies to me as I am in a bundled promotion. More and more people are cutting the cord and going with internet only. Comcast is looking to make up for their loss in subscribers one way or another. For a lot of customers in Connecticut, there isn’t much choice outside of areas where Frontier has fiber optic service. The non-Fiber frontier service is pathetic. There really is no alternative but Comcast. Some of you have the ability to choose Go Net Speed. They are available in limited parts of West Hartford and the New Haven area. Hopefully they will be rolling out beyond their existing footprint soon. A great choice for Internet only!
Best of 2019
I used to write this up in more of a newsletter format, but I just wanted to give you a brief sampling of some of the best products and services I worked with all year.
Best Premium Smartphone: iPhone 11 — Apple really got this one right and they lowered the starting price by $50. It’s an easy choice for iPhone owners
Best Mid-Range Smartphone: Google Pixel 3a — Google brought out these phones mid-year that were in the same spirit as their old Nexus phones. They are under $400 with a lot of premium features and they still have a headphone jack. I hope we see a Pixel 4a in 2020. We may also see an iPhone SE 2 or iPhone 9 sold in this price range next year.
Best Laptops: Unfortunately — I can’t say that any Apple laptops are among the best of 2019. However I really like 2 product lines the Lenovo Thinkpads and the Dell Latitudes. Specifically I am a fan of the Thinkpad T490, E490, and X1 Carbon 7. In terms of the Latitudes, I favor the 5000 and 7000 series. They are solid, have great keyboards, and are built for the long haul.
Best Desktops: I still like the 2018 Mac Mini and hope Apple keeps it updated for years to come. I am also partial to Dell’s Optiplex and Lenovo’s Think Centre desktops, properly equipped of course.
Best Backup Service: Keep in mind that iCloud, Dropbox, or One Drive are not true backup services. They are online file synchronization services. This means that if you delete a file it will be deleted in other places. You should have an opportunity to restore the deleted file within a period of time. I still love all of those services but they are not true backups. If you have a lot of data that you can’t afford to lose, I highly recommend Backblaze or Carbonite. Either service is $6 / month for personal use.