Category: Macs

Weekend Technology Notes

Big Kid Macs

I was basically right in the email that I sent out to my Mac clients early Monday morning about Apple’s new Mac Book Pros. I knew the pricing would be higher.  The new Mac Book Pro 14 inch starts at $1999 and the 16 inch (which I don’t expect a lot of my clients will be buying), starts at $2499.  These are not rip offs by any means.  They are high powered professional machines.  Unless the “best” is desired out of principle rather than practicality, I think the Mac Book Air is going to suit the vast majority of my Mac clients seeking a laptop.  The 512 GB model @ $1249 would be the one I steer you toward.

Couldn’t Stop This Scam

I had a sad phone conversation with a client today about their friend.  Sadly this friend had been given my name before but had never joined my business family and the system of services and education that I provide.  This person got a  call from “Amazon” saying that someone had tried to purchase an iPhone Pro Max with their card but they had “stopped” it.   Sound real?  Think again.  The representative was granted access to the victim’s computer and had them log into online banking.  There the refund was “issued.” However it wasn’t.  The scammer simply adjusted the text code on the banking website.  Instead of a $1400 refund, the victim was “credited” $14,000 – by “mistake” of course.   The scammer said they would lose their job and demanded the difference back as a wire transfer.   Hint:  If it was $1000 involved, the scammer would have asked for gift cards.  However, the scammer saw that there was more than $14,000 in the victim’s bank account.  Only a wire transfer would do!  Their bank actually allowed the victim to send out the transfer, which went to Hanoi. 

UNBELIEVABLE!!   It really happened.  And the victim still believed it was real.  I told my client to tell this guy to go to his bank immediately.  Explain he is the victim of a crime.   Maybe — it can be reversed — but it’s doubtful in my opinion.  It’s hard to claw back a wire transfer, especially an international one. 

Macs Only– How Great M1 Macs Are | New Mac Book Pros

10/18/2021

I just finished watching a great Dodgers / Braves game.  Sunday night football is still ticking on in overtime (Go Steelers!).  And I keep checking in on Invicta watch night on Shop HQ (don’t worry I haven’t purchased any watches yet). 

But what I really wanted to tell you is that Apple is having an event today and at this event I would 99.9 % guarantee that they are releasing new Mac Book Pro laptops with even more advanced M1 CPU chips than last year.  It will also mark the first time that the larger 16 inch Pro is released with an M1 chip.  If you recall, there were 13 inch Pros launched last year with these new “in house” processors. 

Nearly all of my clients that have purchased a Mac laptop this year have gone with the Mac Book Air M1 (13 inch).  Unless you are doing a lot of heavy duty work or putting the computer through a workout — I tell my clients to get the $999 Mac Book Air if they want 256 GB of storage or $1249 for 512 GB.   I generally tell my students (another name for my clients if you haven’t figured that out) to err for the larger hard drive.   These M1 powered circuit boards operate differently than past Macs.  In layman’s terms I have been told that the more space you have to move your data around (ie. larger hard drive) the longer your Mac will last.  Keep in mind that everything is soldered onto the board.  I cannot open it and do computer surgery for you.  When it dies, it’s dead.   The 3 year Apple Care warranty is probably a good idea. 

Starting today I expect there to be a 14 inch Mac Book Pro (replacing the 13) and then a completely refreshed 16 incher.   I’m certain that there will be a super clear distinction in pricing between the Pro and Air models.  It would not shock me at all if that 14 inch Pro starts at $1599 or $1799.  It will be well worth it.

To reiterate — for most Joe and Jane consumers (or Joe and Jane home business owners) that I deal with, I think the Mac Book Air is the appropriate laptop.  However if you want the BEST or really plan to put the laptop through its paces — I would gladly set up a new Mac Book Pro for you.

Whether you go Air or Pro in the laptops or get a beautiful M1 iMac or M1 Mac Mini — take heart with this quote from an article I just read on Mac Rumors….

” Intel has a lot of catching up to do if it aims to outclass Apple silicon, as benchmarks revealed that the MacBook Air with an M1 chip with a starting price of $999 outperforms a maxed-out Intel-based 16-inch MacBook Pro priced at $2,999.”

Folks, this is exactly why Apple moved away from Intel CPU’s and went with their own M1 processors.  It’s an exciting time to be a Mac owner.  (And no, I don’t think the Intel CEO is going to be able to get Apple to switch back).

Microsoft Office Options

Everyone has used Microsoft Word over the years. You’ve likely used Excel too.  You may have even used Power Point (or at least viewed a presentation), Outlook, or even Publisher.  All of these applications are part of a suite of programs known as Microsoft Office.  Office is truly a cross platform offering, being available on Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Android.  In the recent past Office was an expensive package.  Around 2007 or 2008, I recall going to Staples with a client and buying Microsoft Office Professional for $400 to $500.  For a typical consumer or home office user, there are 3 distinct Microsoft Office options:

1)  FREE —   Office.com — In what may come as a surprise to many — you can use basic versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on your computer’s web browser for free.  These web apps do not have all of the features or perhaps the ease of use as the full featured desktop apps, but they get the job done for many.   Documents can be printed, downloaded to the computer, and even emailed out directly or indirectly.  These documents will be stored in Microsoft’s cloud storage known as One Drive.  You get 5 GB for free.  That allotment can hold thousands of text based documents.

2) The License / One Off Purchase — Microsoft sells Office for Mac and Windows as a license for one computer. It is truly one computer only.   Home and Student (Word, Excel, and Powerpoint) will run you $149.99.  Home and Business (all of the previous apps plus Outlook) will cost $249.99.  These are one time costs.  The licensed versions will receive security updates from Microsoft for 5 years from release of that version of Office (not 5 years from your purchase date).  However, if you were to buy Office 2021 now — you would pretty much be getting 5 years because it was just released.  Microsoft used to offer 10 years of updates for the licenses.  This is all happening because Microsoft wants to push you into……

3) Microsoft 365 — Personal or Family — This is the ongoing subscription version of Microsoft Office and is how most of my clients are buying Office these days.  It’s hard to argue they are not offering a lot for the price of admission.  In addition to Word, Power Point, Excel, and Outlook — Windows users will also get Publisher and Access (sorry those do not exist for the Mac).  The Personal edition($69.99 / year) will allow you to install Office on a total of 5 devices that you control (all under your Microsoft account).  Mix and match Windows, Mac, and iPad — no problem!  You will also get 1 TB of cloud storage space.  That is huge.  Honestly, other services could literally charge you $70 a year for just that cloud storage.   The Family offering casts its net even further.  It allows you to have 6 people in your family (all with their own Microsoft account) install Office on up to 5 devices each.  That is a potential of 30 devices for $99.99 per year.  How can you beat that?   Additionally, each of the 6 people will get 1 TB of cloud storage space.  That can cover tens of thousands of pictures, videos, documents and such.  Finally, with Microsoft 365, you never have to worry about updates.  You will always have the latest version of Office.  Some family members and I have been subscribers to Microsoft 365 since it was released for consumers in 2013.

The commercial real estate market is tough right now, so I will let you choose which Office you want to move into.  In a future Update, I will also cover some non-Microsoft office alternatives.

Shopping For Computers Summer 2021

Weekly Humor

I may be wound up tight, but my mainspring is not going to break.  (That’s a watch joke, if you didn’t get it.)

Work Wisdom – Rideshare, Door Dash, Etc. 

This is not going to apply to you, but it may be relevant to one of your kids, grandkids, a friend or a neighbor.  In this “new economy” people are working for companies like Uber, Lyft, and Door Dash to make some extra cash or possibly even as a full time gig.  While working for these outfits, they are a 1099 contractor.   Expenses can be deducted but good records (like mileage) must be kept.  Taxes are not withheld.  Drivers should be saving part of every check to cover the Self Employment Tax at a bare minimum.  Additionally, these workers should purchase extra car insurance to cover  what the company won’t.  There is often a gap in coverage.  Finally, they should ask if this kind of work voids their car’s warranty.

Shopping For Computers – Summer 2021

I just want to set the expectations so that now one is surprised later on.  For the most part, prices are going up.  Discounts are few.  I’m sitting here in front of a Thinkpad T series — $2000 MSRP, that I got for $650 (new) in January 2020.  I also have a Dell Latitude 5450 that was about $1100 that I picked up almost 6 years ago for under $400 with some extreme couponing on Dell(dot)com.   Complete fairy tales in 2021!  Fiction! Most of you are buying laptops.  I still like all of my old picks — MacBooks, Dell Latitude 5000 series or 7000 series, and Thinkpad T or X series.   However, for a solid laptop (I’m not even talking about top of the line or luxury), you are looking at $1500 to 2000 for a brand new unit.   The Mac Book Air starts at $999.  However to get the 500 GB SSD hard drive its + 200.  These new Macs have such a brand new unique architecture and everything is built in, with no replaceable parts. I would seriously consider getting the 3 year Apple Care warranty for $250.  That puts your right around $1500 considering taxes.  For one of the better Windows laptops, you’ll be paying the same or more.  A client was recently considering a Thinkpad T15.  The price dropped to $1274 for a very well equipped system.  I said — TAKE IT; that’s a buy price!   In terms of iMacs, the $1699 model is the one you’ll really want.   So where can you save these days?  Well, the Thinkpad E and L series are not bad as long as they are properly outfitted.   The Mac Mini is still Apple’s bargain desktop.  With a $150 monitor, your own non-Apple mouse and keyboard, + $25 speakers, I think you could have it out the door for $1250.  (With these new M1 Macs, always buy a larger hard drive than you need (one step up).  Don’t say, I’ll never use that much space.   The larger hard drive you get, the longer the system will last.  Remember, that internal hard drive can’t be replaced.)  Finally, you could always try the Dell or Lenovo Outlets.  You have to think fast, but bargains exist.  

Conclusion and Song of the Week

It was a rough week.  You have the right to feel confused and even angry. They are your sincere emotions.  Monday through Saturday – I watched ZERO TV.  I don’t use Facebook.  I don’t use Google other than for e-mail and to look up local businesses.  Personally, I’m seeking calm in the storm while fully acknowledging that sometimes one has to hit the punching bag and let off some steam.  I thought this piano interpretation of “On My Way” by Peter Buka really fits the mood this time around.  He may not have a mainstream style, but he is doing something right with 7.5+ million views on this song alone. Enjoy!  https://youtu.be/w2IH69pFsI0

Lightning Crashes

How are you doing this week?  Are you sick of the lightning and risk of damaged equipment?   I hope you at least have some decent surge protectors (not just power strips). 

 

Comcast Business Class

I had a very good experience recently with a client that had Comcast Business Class Internet.   A modem was destroyed by lightning and they came out to replace it within a couple hours.  I don’t know if it is still their policy, but I read once that on business days, they make it a point to come out within 4 hours.  If you have a business (even at home) or work from home and need that kind of reliability, you too can get Comcast business level service.  FYI, it costs more and a contract is usually required. 

Faith Restored in the Mac

I helped a client recently who had the unfortunate experience of a hacked email account (which I had seen before), but with all of the emails deleted.  Tragic!  Fortunately, this client had a Mac and had been using the Apple Mail app.  My client had also been using an external hard drive with Time Machine (built into the macOS) to back up the computer.   I was able to restore years worth of Inbox and Sent messages.   Apple Mail and Time Machine are a great combo for archival purposes.  

Summer Fun

I don’t talk about it too much in this newsletter, but I have a completely separate e-mailing each each week where I talk about the joys of watch collecting.  It’s called “Watch Out”. E-mail me to sign up. My goal for the summer was to find a summer watch.  I didn’t want to spend a lot of money so I decided to modify an existing watch.   I took my blue Casio Duro (IMHO the best large watch under $75 – Amazon link https://amzn.to/3BCfqRX), and put a lively orange rubber strap on it, also from Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Premium-Quality-Waterproof-Silicone-Release/dp/B07XPFDHK5/).

Song of the Week:  Lightning Crashes

In the early morning hours of Sunday 7/18, I saw the worst lightning storm of my life.  Many of you have shared the same.  It seemed that every few minutes I would look out a different window of my  house and see blue almost down to ground level.   It was scary.  Although this song is about metaphorical lightning it is the only song I know about the topic.  Its intensity fits the bill.   If you don’t remember the band Live, they are a great example of 1990s modern rock.   https://youtu.be/7uNdUi0Yf1Q

On Mac OS 10.15–Go For Mac OS 11

I know a lot of you are on Mac OS 10.15.  You have a “late model” Mac and you have held off on upgrading to Mac OS 11 pending my recommendation.  I have had the chance to do some of these installations and while they can take SEVERAL HOURS if you are on an older version of the Mac OS — they are pretty painless if you are already on Mac OS 10.15.

If you have a backup of your Mac already, you can probably do the upgrade yourself by going to the Apple Menu, System Preferences, and Software Update.  Depending on your internet connection the process will take 60 to 90 minutes.

You’ll want to have Mac OS 11 by September, in my opinion.  During the fall, the next Mac OS will come out and I will have you wait a few months again before it is installed.   New OS’es never have to be installed on day 1, but eventually you want them because they provide CRUCIAL security fixes.

Odds and Ends

TV Time:  Blue Bloods

Up until a year ago, I regularly watched four TV shows.  Unfortunately, one of them got cancelled for reasons I’m not going to get into here.  For the last few TV seasons (usually running from Sept to May), Blue Bloods has been my favorite show.  There is just something wholesome about watching Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) and his family run integral parts of fictional New York City.  On Friday May 14th, the Season 11 finale aired.   It spanned 2 hours.  I don’t want to spoil it for any of you.   It is available On Demand as Episode 15 (The End) and 16 (Justifies the Means).  It’s a great mini-movie of sorts and it would be perfect for you to jump right in if you haven’t watched Blue Bloods in a while.  To set the table for you, all you need to know is that Frank has a grandson in the NYPD and he has been “missing” for several months.  It was very emotional viewing for me and I loved it.

Additional Thoughts on Car Buying

I just wanted to add a couple more notes to my last newsletter…

-People buy used cars all the time.  Maybe you like the deal or it is a discontinued model.  Please get the car inspected by an independent mechanic.  If the dealer or seller won’t let you get it inspected, move on.

-This might be more for your kids than you — but if you have an unstable income / career prospects, buy rather than lease.  I helped someone last year on a car deal.  She made all of her lease payments, but the rest of her credit got trashed over the 3 years of the lease.  I had to put on my A-Game just to negotiate with the dealer to get an 8.7% loan rate to buy out the lease.  We could have easily been looking at 15%. 

YouTube Premium

I don’t know about you but my family watches way more You Tube than TV.  It is still my sincere goal to be done with traditional cable TV by the end of the year.   If you like You Tube and you like music, you may want to consider You Tube Premium for $12 a month.   It gives you ad-free You Tube viewing and also unlimited music from the You Tube Music app.  You Tube Music is very similar to Apple Music.  You can download your music to the app, listen offline, stream in the house or play in the car.  It’s on my radar to check out.  One thing I have noticed recently is that my ad blockers on the iPhone and computer no longer block You Tube ads. 

New  M1 Macs — Truly Are That Fast

I have finally set up some M1 Macs for clients.   They are night and day better than even recent Intel Macs.    The Mac Book Air starts at $999 and the Mac Book Pro is $1299 (if you need more than 256 GB hard drive you will pay a little more).  Need a desktop?  Apple’s got you covered.  You can select either the Mac Mini or the brand new M1 iMac.  I sent out an update a few weeks ago on these Macs.  I want to mention that the upgrade in price for the iMac is not just the beautiful design but you are also getting a Retina Display.   If it were me, I think I would probably still choose a “business quality” monitor with the Mini but if you want to most pop in the picture, then the iMac is for you.

Mac Is Back–Ordering Macs Correctly

Before I go out and get a cup of coffee that doesn’t make my head spin (lol), I want to report to you that business is brisk in the Mac world.   Macs are selling well.  2016 to 2019 were dark times for Mac users due those terrible keyboards in the Mac laptops.   A comeback started to be made in 2018 with the Mac Mini.   Then Apple brought the old keyboard back with the 16 inch Mac Book pro in late 2019.  (However, my clients were not typically buyers of the 15 / 16 inch laptops.)    Then in 2020, the good keyboard returned to the 13 inch Mac Books. It was a major victory for frustrated Mac buyers.

As we rolled into last fall, Apple came out with Mac Books sporting their new M1 processors.  This will be their infrastructure going forward.  A new mac Mini was also released.    They could very well release M1 iMacs at their event on April 20th.  I know some of you are waiting for those. 

On these new M1 Macs — the hard drives and RAM are an integrated system.  There is no replacing them when things go bad.  Like any solid state drive (SSD), they are limited to a certain # of read write cycles over their lifespan.  I read a report recently that if you order one of the new Macs with a larger hard drive — it actually gives it more room to read and write over time.   

So my advice here is — don’t take the standard 256 GB hard drive.  Upgrade it at the time of ordering to at least the 512 GB model.   Also — I would strongly suggest that you may want to consider the 3 year Apple Care warranty.  This is all new technology.  If one component on that logic board goes bad, the whole computer practically has to be replaced.   I am never opposed to buying Apple Care on iPhones, iPads, and Macs. 

For most consumers that I deal with I think that the Mac Book Air would be a fine choice over the 13 inch Mac Book Pro.  You can save a couple hundred $$ there.

Mac OS 11 (Big Sur)–Sooner or Later

I do keep getting asked by my Mac clients — should I allow my Mac to upgrade to OS version 11 aka Big Sur?   As you know I’ve told you to delay and stick with Mac OS 10.15 (Catalina) up until now.

If you have  a 2015 or later Mac laptop or one of the newer iMacs or Mac Minis — sooner or later you are just going to have to do it.   I am not giving a 100% endorsement but I am saying that it is going to be the Mac operating system you want to have before the Fall.   If you wait too long — then we are going to go through this all over again when Mac OS 11.1 (or 12 or whatever it’s called) comes out.  I will probably have you delay that one for a few months as well. 

So here is what I am saying — if you have a newer Mac that is problem free — go ahead and do the upgrade with the understanding that a few out of a hundred may have a problem or require a follow up visit from me.  If you have an old slow Mac — even if it’s Big Sur compatible — I have probably told you that you are looking at buying a new Mac within the year so don’t bother.    Generally speaking this Mac OS 11 is compatible with Macs 2013-14 and newer.  2012 and older Mac laptops are not compatible. 

If you have a specific concern about your Mac, please ask.  If you would like to make an appointment for an “assisted upgrade”  we can do that.

It is a good time to be a Mac owner — in general.

Alternate Methods

You may need to do something right away and can’t get the help you need that hour or even that day.  I’ll try to get there as soon as I can.  However, we all have situations where it just can’t wait.  I want to let you know that there isn’t only one way to surf the Internet, check your email, or type a document on your computer.  You must understand — and perhaps this is new learning territory for you than we can cover in depth in our next session — that there are at least 2 ways to skin a cat.  Exploring the options can get you out of a jam and open mental pathways.    Here are just a few scenarios……

– Comcast or Gmail e-mail:  Your account can be set up in the Mail app (or Outlook) but you can also visit Gmail.com or My.xfinity.com to access a fully functional mail system in your web browser.

-You prefer to go on the Internet with Safari or Chrome:  What do you do when they don’t work or become corrupted?  You need a second browser at your disposal!! This could be Firefox, Edge, Vivaldi, or Brave.  Chances are that the second browser is going to work.  Get familiar with it.

-Time to type a document — Oh no!  Microsoft Word is not working.  Did you know that you can type and save basic documents in Text Edit (Mac) and Word Pad (Windows).  For letters and basic writing with paragraphs they are just fine.