Category: Macs

A warning on older Mac apps

If you’re getting all of the automatic updates to your Mac, you should be on version 10.13.4 right now.   If you’ve been a Mac user for any length of time, you may start to get pop up messages saying that the app you are trying to open is not optimized for your Mac.   Don’t worry, you can still open and use that app — FOR NOW.

Macs have featured 64 bit processors for years.  Your mac OS software is also 64 bit.  However apps designed to the old 32 bit standard have been allowed to exist until the present time.  In the very near future, 32 bit apps will be blocked.   I don’t know all of the software that each of you have installed on your Macs, but it is possible that you have some of the old apps.   Two that I know for sure are Office 2008 for Mac and Office 2011.  The solution to that problem is easy — upgrade to Office 2016. 

If and when you are prevented from using 32 bit apps on your Mac, you will have 2 choices.

1) See if if you can live without the app

2) Upgrade to a more modern version of the app

Advertisements

Mac Books and Their Keyboards

I wanted to revisit a subject that I covered in the near past — current Mac Book Pros and their “wonderful” keyboards.  https://theacronym.com/2018/02/02/ipad-pro-best-mac-laptop/

Apple came out with a substantial redesign of the Mac Book Pro in 2016. These new systems featured a radically different keyboard than the one that Mac laptop users had come to love in the 2015 and many prior generations.  The keyboards were panned by reviewers and users had their troubles as well.  They suffered from an unusually high failure rate.  For what reason?  Apple wanted to shave a couple of millimeters off of the overall thickness!  Apple rushed out an updated model that looked identical in June 2017.  Customers are still having issues with the keyboards in the 2017 models and they cost close to $600 to replace out of warranty. 

I have some Mac clients who will likely be looking for a new laptop this year.  If using an iPad with a keyboard as a laptop is not the right solution, I want to share some honest thoughts. 

I spent more time with a 2017 MacBook Pro and I really wanted to give it an objective try.  The keys do not travel like they do on the laptops that are known for better typing experiences.  However, Apple has offered up a trick and it seems to work. The keys make an unusual clicking sound when I pressed them, giving the allusion that there is more depth than there is in reality.  So, the truth is, I could likely live with the keyboard on a long term basis.  I still have serious doubts about their reliability. 

I think the 2017 Mac Book Air is a better laptop for consumer use than the 2017 Mac Book Pro.  Best Buy was recently selling it for as low as $699.  If you are not married to specific Mac applications, I can think of a couple other Windows laptops that are better than the Mac Book Pro.   

-Lenovo Thinkpad T, Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon

-Dell XPS 13, Dell XPS 15

-Dell Latitude 5000 series, Latitude 7000 series

With all of this cold water being thrown at Mac portables, I still think a custom ordered iMac is one of the best desktops on the market.

Ultimately, I know there are some clients who are joined at the hip with certain Mac apps or have a massive library that has already been organized in Photos.  The Mac Book Air may be discontinued later this year, so the Mac Book Pro could be the only option. You’ll live with the keyboard, but If you buy it, you must get the 3 year, Apple Care warranty.  It is your firewall against expensive repairs due to design flaws. 

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.

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.”

Mac: Changing default browser

Tonight I got a message from a client.  “Help.  Web pages are not properly opening in Chrome.”   We all use a browser to access web pages on our Macs.  Many of you use Apple’s default browser — Safari.  However, Google Chrome is also extremely popular (and the #1 browser by worldwide usage).  A handful still like Mozilla Firefox.   You might ask, why wouldn’t everyone just use Safari?  While it is on par with other browsers today, Safari used to be quite lacking compared to Chrome and Firefox.  Some users like Chrome because it syncs with their Google account.  Firefox used to tout that it was easier to customize. Today, they want to be known as the faster and more privacy conscious browser.

Regardless of your browser of choice, you should have more than one installed on your Mac. At some point, you may have a security issue with your browser.  No problem. Fire up browser number 2.  Additionally, you may want to use multiple browsers for convenience issues.   You could do personal browsing in one browser and work / special purpose browsing in another.  You can keep multiple websites open at one time in each browser, in separate windows.

It’s good to have a second or even a 3rd browser on your Mac.    You can install Chrome from google.com/chrome and Firefox from firefox.com .

As was the case of my client, your default browser may fail you.  We needed a quick solution tonight.  It was too late for her technology consultant to come over and take a look at the problem.   You too should know how to change your default browser on the Mac.  You may do this for short term reasons or permanently.  The process is the same. It’s a quick fix that you CAN do.

Steps to Changing Default Browser on the Mac

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201607