Category: Macs

Tech Update 7/17/18

Switchers

Since I support both platforms, Mac and Windows, I have regularly dealt with clients who switched between the two over the years.  Users make the jump from Windows to Mac or the other way around for various reasons:  cost, desire to run a specific application, or even frustration with a particular brand.   I think I speak for a lot of us by saying we do most of our “work” in the browser (be it Safari, Chrome, or Firefox).  Unlike a decade ago, the Mac and Windows versions of Microsoft Office are very much on par today.   Therefore, if the browser and Microsoft Office were the only two things that mattered, you could use either a Mac or Windows PC.  Well, our lives are a little bit more complicated than that.  The greatest impediments to switching, even when you really want to, are PLATFORM SPECIFIC APPLICATIONS.   The proprietary app that comes to mind is Apple Photos (formerly known as iPhoto, pre-2015).  No Windows version exists.  If you have just a bunch of loose, unorganized photos on a Mac — switching to Windows is not a big deal.  However, if those photos were organized into dozens of albums in the Photos application, switching becomes a real mess.  A Mac user probably has an iPhone or an iPad (or both).  Their photos are likely backed up to iCloud Photo Library.  The good news is that those photos can be managed on the iCloud.com, web version of Photos from a Windows PC or in the Photos iOS app.  If it’s just a matter of organizing and sharing them, this is possible for a Mac to Windows switcher.  Truth be told, when there are thousands or tens of thousands of photos in Photos  and you have divided them into MULTIPLE PHOTOS LIBRARIES — there is no turning back.  You really have to stay with the Mac.  Hard core Windows users run into the same dilemma.  You may have have a Windows-only program that you can’t live with out, but you really want to use Mac hardware.  There is a simple answer.  For the past decade plus, Mac owners have been able to run Windows on their systems.  Windows can be run separately or inside the mac OS.  I serve the flexible and the die hards.

New Mac Laptops

I have shared in the past about the tragedy of the 2016-17 Mac Book Pro laptops.  I have gone into even greater lengths about the problems, specifically the keyboards, with my Mac clients.  Just to recap, there are lawsuits and official Apple Repair Program in place.  Well, well.  That’s changed last Thursday.  Apple came out with new 13 and 15 inch Mac Book Pro models.  The keyboard is not totally different, but is improved.  For specific details on the 2018 keyboards, see this.  https://www.macrumors.com/2018/07/13/ifixit-butterfly-keyboard-silicone-barrier/  Given this fix and that the processors are a big leap forward, I am giving the greenlight on the 2018 MacBook Pros.   The new models start at $1799 and I think that one (13 inch) in particular would be plenty of computing power for the kind of client that I serve.  The question I have is — what will become of the lower priced Mac Book Pros?  If you go to Apple.com, you will see that the 13 inch Pro actually starts at $1299.  However, the $1299 and $1499 models were not updated last week.   Is Apple just going to sell of the remaining stock and not revamp these models?  I don’t know.  I wouldn’t touch them in their 2017 configurations.  The word on the street is that Apple should be coming out with a new consumer focused laptop, perhaps even at a $999 price point, in the fall.  Fingers crossed.  I think that such a Mac would also be very appealing to my clients.  Keep in mind that the two current “consumer” models, the Mac Book Air and Mac Book are priced at $999 and $1299 respectively. 

Update on Windows 10 – 1803

I thoroughly researched the latest version of Windows 10 – version 1803 — that began rolling out to users worldwide on April 30th.  There were a small but significant number of problems.  I relayed the horror story that one of my clients had to go through with this upgrade.  Sadly, she found out after the fact that her PC was not compatible.  However, Microsoft has had time to make this right.   There have been three months of regular, 2nd Tuesday, Windows updates since 4/30 and even some additional updates to button things up.  Microsoft said recently — version 1803 is Ready for Business.  OK then. I decided to put them to the test.  I upgraded my Dell Latitude laptop on Monday.  No hiccups.  It runs like it always has.  Some of you have put the 120 delay on the “feature updates” (new versions of Windows).  You can leave it in place.  This new version will likely get pushed out to you in early September.

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Apple Finally Updates Mac Book Pro

I was planning to tell you about new iPhone sizes coming this fall and how the user experience will change.  I also wanted to tell you about other products coming out of Apple’s pipeline later this year.  This information will have to wait.

I have some bigger and better news!

Apple has released new Mac Book Pro laptops, in 13 and 15 inch sizes.  They are available today.  These laptops feature Intel’s latest 8th generation processors.  Most importantly, the new models have an improved, quieter keyboard.  Will it be the Mac Book keyboard from the 2006-15 glory days?  No, probably not.  However, it is the keyboard Mac Books will have going forward.  Apple has responded to the concerns of its ferociously loyal user base.

For those of you who have a 5 year old + Mac Book and have been waiting and heeded my warnings over the past few months, your new Mac Book Pro has arrived.  You have to be very careful when ordering.  (That’s why it might be a good idea to let me order for you.)

https://www.apple.com/shop/buy-mac/macbook-pro

Most of my clients buy 13 inch Mac Books.   The base model 13 inch Pro HAS NOT been upgraded.  It is being left out like a child forced to sit in the corner.  You don’t want this one.  It is STILL the 2017 model with the completely flawed keyboard.  The 2018 Pro 13 models are known as Mac Book Pro “Touch Bar and Touch ID” models.   The pricing starts at $1799.  It comes with a 256 GB SSD hard drive.  That one would be fine for most of my clients.  If a larger hard drive or more memory (RAM) is desired, they can be added at the time of ordering.  (You will also want a couple USB C to USB dongle adapters ($10 to $20 each) to plug in devices like printers and hard drives to your Mac. All Mac Book Pros since 2016 have only USB C ports.  Your older plug in devices have USB A plugs.)

The only real question is, should you get the Apple Care Warranty?  These laptops have no upgradable parts.  The hard drive and RAM are baked into the logic board.  If something goes, it is a very expensive repair.  Apple’s warranty support is known for being the best in the business.  However, I realize that we are discussing adding $249 to a premium priced laptop.  I’ll leave the choice up to you.  Apple’s standard warranty runs for one year.  You do have a full year to decide whether or not to add Apple Care for year 2 and 3.

The Apple is sweet today!

Not That Mac Boy Who Cried Wolf

They’ve done it!

Apple has launched an official repair program for keyboards on 2015-2017 MacBooks and 2016-2017 Mac Book Pros.  In my opinion, this is one step short of a recall. 

I was recently asked by a client if they should get a new Mac laptop.  I said, try to hold out until October if you can.  Apple has not refreshed their laptop lineup in 2018. They would be tone deaf to the market if they don’t do it by the end of the year.  There are alternatives.  Some are switching to higher end Windows laptops.  The 2017 Mac Book Air (which doesn’t suffer from the same problems) is still available, despite it sporting a 2010 design and 2015 parts.

This article on The Mac Observer explains it all.

https://www.macobserver.com/news/product-news/apple-launches-keyboard-service-program-for-macbook-macbook-pro/

A Mac and iOS Update

1)   Minor macOS (version 10.13.5) and iOS (11.4) updates came out a few weeks ago.  You should have them installed on your respective devices.  I think you know how to grab the updates, but if you didn’t accept the automatic push here is what you need to do.    Mac:  Apple menu (top left) App Store (or open the Mac App Store).  iOS:  Settings > General.

2)  Apple’s big June 4th event:  It was all about software this time, unlike previous years.  No new Macs 😦 There will be new versions of the mac OS and iOS coming later this year, macOS 10.14 and iOS 12.  I expect a release window of September – November.  You can install these upgrades yourself, but as always I will make myself available to do it for you.  I always make sure my clients have a full backup before major software changes.   The new version of the macOS will be compatible with all 2012 and later models.  The new version of iOS will be compatible with the iPhone 5s and later, iPad Air and later, and iPad Mini 2 and later.

My buying advice remains the same as a few weeks ago.  Desktop:  iMac (2017) with the SSD hard drive (custom order) is a go.  Laptop:  Mac Book Air, 13 inch (2017) is my pick right now.  If you are looking for a newer design and faster parts, lets see if they refresh the Mac Book Pros with a better keyboard in the fall.

3) New iPhones:  I’m careful not to give too much attention to speculation.  After all, Apple rumors are a business for some in the technology media.  However, I’ve come across multiple reports from various sources over the past few months concerning the size of the 2018 crop of iPhones.  It seems like they are getting bigger. We could see 5.8 inch, 6.1 inch and even 6.5 inch iPhones.   FYI, the iPhone X has a 5.8 inch screen but looks smaller than the iPhone 8 Plus (5.5 inch screen) because of the slimmer bezel.  I have not seen any reports about new models of the iPhone SE (4 inch last  updated in 2016) and the iPhone 8 (4.7 inch – released in 2017).  Could you get used to a larger phone?

Weekly Technology Update

A. Privacy:  GDPR and Oath.   You may have received a bunch of notices recently detailing the updated privacy policies of various services that you use.  The European Union’s new privacy laws take effect on May 25th.  These regulations are known as GDPR.   They are taking customers’ data a lot more seriously than we are on this side of the pond.  International companies such as Facebook and Google are adhering to these standards even for their American customers.  It’s a solid business practice.  Did you know that you can download all of your Facebook (or Google) data in a single file?  Did you know that you can control how Facebook advertises to you?   GDPR = Good.   To find out more http://money.cnn.com/2018/05/21/technology/gdpr-explained-europe-privacy/index.html

Additionally, some of you who have a Yahoo or AOL account may have received notices about policies from an organization known as Oath.  (My joke is — “zero authorization to violate your privacy,” but I’ll get back on topic.).  Oath is a division of Verizon that oversees both Yahoo and AOL.   Yahoo users may have even been asked to accept the new terms.  You really don’t have a choice if you want to keep using the account.   As a quick primer for those new to the VIP Computer Care family — my favorite free e-mail accounts are Google and Outlook.com.   Customers may choose a paid e-mail account if they want to get actual customer support.  My favorite choices  here are Fastmail ($20 per year), G (G Suite a paid Google account, $5 per month), or Office 365 (a paid e-mail account from Microsoft, $5 per month).

B.  Windows:   I’m still compiling reports of horror stories from users that had bad experiences with the latest version of Windows 10 (version 1803), released on April 30th.  Whenever possible, I have set your Windows computers to a 120 day delay schedule.   Unfortunately, I had to help a customer last weekend who couldn’t delay Windows version upgrades.  He purchased a consumer grade Windows desktop.  I offered the next best thing.  I managed the upgrade for him.  It took 2 hours, which is about what I expected.  With fingers crossed, there were no hiccups.  I am not recommending that I do this proactively for others, at this time, if you have already been set up for a delay.  Ultimately, Microsoft will iron out the wrinkles.  After all, hundreds of millions of business customers rely on Windows.   Version 1803 should be ready for prime time in a few months.  In August, lets talk about upgrading your computer. 

C.  Mac:  Apple’s big annual event, the WWDC, is happening on June 4th.  While it’s not specifically a new hardware event, Apple has been known to release new Macs at this event.   We can only hope that they offer a mea culpa on the Mac Book Pro and their awful keyboards.  At the very least, they could update the Mac Book Air with 2018 innards.  (The 2017 Air, while still my #1 choice at this date and time, features 2015-era parts.)   Additionally, the Mac Mini needs a major refresh.  It has not been updated since October 2014.  Apple needs to keep a $500-600 Mac on the market to welcome new customers into the family. 

When Technology Fails Us

Welcome this installment of my weekly update.   This update is not a tutorial or an introduction to some cool piece of technology that can benefit us.  I want to give you a reminder that the world of tech can be a scary place and that I’m honored to be your navigator in it.   It’s got to get better than this for us.

A.  Windows — The latest version of Windows, Windows 10 version 1803 began rolling out to computers on April 30th.  It’s been a disaster.  I did not know this in advance, but I had the wisdom of telling you to leave well enough alone.  On every computer I have touched over the past few months (when possible), I have set the “feature update” (aka new version of Windows) delay to 120 days.  I say, when possible, because if you have a Windows machine purchased from a big box store there is no option to delay new versions.  PSA: Please let me order your Windows computers for you; I’ll make sure you get the Pro version of Windows.  Just today, Microsoft began blocking the upgrade from installing on certain computers with Intel hard drives.   Can it get any worse?   If it does get worse, I will tell you to change that delay from 120 to 365 days.  There is nothing wrong with staying on the previous version of Windows, version 1709.  It works!

B. Mac — I have shared with you that an iPad Pro may be a viable computing solution for some users.  I have expressed my firm belief in the iMac as one of the best desktops on the market.   Unfortunately, I’ve  also had to discuss the misery of late model Mac Book and Mac Book Pro laptops and their awful keyboards.   Longtime Mac users and pundits alike have panned the keyboards on the Mac Books (since 2015) and Mac Book Pros (since 2016).  It’s an awful experience.  The Mac has plenty to be proud of on the software side, so this is the opposite of Microsoft.   There is a Mac hardware problem!   A few weeks ago an online petition launched demanding a solution to the laptop keyboard problem.  Thousands signed their names.  This week, the Mac faithful are really getting on their soapboxes.  A class action lawsuit has been filed.  The bottom line is — if you need a Mac laptop soon, buy the 2017 Mac Book Air.  It still has a real keyboard and it will be a solid performer for you.

C. Cellular — Finally, this is one problem that I don’t have a solution for (yet).   I read a lot of tech news, guides, and try things out to break them down to make sense for you.  This one just makes me want to take an oatmeal bath.   I will keep this brief and let you read the articles.  There is a private company out there — Securus – that has the ability to track our location down via our cell phones.  Securus is fed customer information by most cellular service providers.  I am not criticizing legitimate surveillance obtained via a warrant. However, this technology has been misused to spy on people who are enemies of authority figures.  In my analysis, only one of the four major cellular providers gave an acceptable answer as to their relationship with Securus (Sprint).  Please read for yourself. 

Links

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/10/technology/cellphone-tracking-law-enforcement.html

https://www.zdnet.com/article/us-cell-carriers-selling-access-to-real-time-location-data/

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