Social Media Tips of the Week
I don’t know if you are on Instagram but I decided to sign up a few years ago due to the fact that I had some clients on it who needed me to teach them a thing or two. I don’t actually post anything on there but I use it to follow personalities in the realm of health and other fields. It is sort of a “one way Instagram for me.” On Instagram you can share or view photos from family and friends without the mess of Facebook or nastiness of Twitter. One account that I like following is @poetic_outlaws. The account owner always posts timely, thought provoking content from writers who lived on the edge (ie. Hunter S. Thompson, Charles Bukowski, Mary Oliver, Ayn Rand, etc). If you like a daily dose of stimulating quotes, check it out.
End of Windows 7
Since half of my clients use a Mac, I did not share this with all of you last week. However, January 14th marked the end of life for Windows 7. It will no longer get security update from Microsoft. Therefore, users should either upgrade to Windows 10 or buy a new computer. In case you are unaware, Windows 7 was released in late 2009. It is truly one of the best operating systems of the past 20 years and was the last Windows operating system written solely for the computer (with no tablets or smart stuff in mind). Here is my somewhat sentimental, somewhat humorous tribute on the passing of Windows 7 — https://theacronym.com/2020/01/15/celebrating-the-life-of-windows-7/
Mac OS 10.15 – Catalina
I think I have discussed this a bit in the past, but it doesn’t hurt to bring it up again with a new spin. Mac OS 10.15 is the latest yearly operating system released by Apple. It came out in the fall of 2019. While browsing the internet and emailing and other basic functions work just about the same as they always have — there are major changes under the hood. This operating system, coded named Catalina, only runs 64-bit Mac apps. That means all of the older 32-bit apps will not run in this OS. If you depend on old software that has never been updated by the developer or software that you are not ready to purchase / learn / install an updated version of — I don’t think Catalina is ready for you right now. Furthermore, it has come to light that some devices on the Mac — critical ones — like PRINTERS — don’t always play nice with Catalina. Today, I was all set to recommend a very new model of HP printer to a client. Then I read that in order to get basic features to work — an app called HP Smart needed to be installed from the Mac App Store. HP Smart is actually brilliant app in Windows, but has been poorly executed on the Mac thus far. I’m glad I recommended a different printer.
I believe I have told this to many of you already — but if I have worked on your Mac since the fall — I have actually blocked Mac OS 10.15 from installing. I did you a favor. You are fine with OS 10.14 for now. It is still getting security updates. You are current. 10.14 (aka Mojave) was the OS that came out in late 2018. Unless there is some feature that you are dying to have in 10.15 Catalina — let’s keep holding off. We should talk about getting you on the latest Mac OS at the end of 2020 or early 2021 if you are going to stick with your current Mac. At that time an upgrade to 10.16 will likely be in order.
I want to let you know what equipment is truly required to become a cord cutter or at least a video streamer in 2020
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.
As we come to the end of the year, we also come to the end of the 2010’s. (Whether or not it’s truly the end of the decade, may be a technicality. Some of my elementary school teachers would have said that the decade is 2011-2020), but for all intents and purposes many in the technology community are looking at how far we have come in the last 10 years.
I will just give you a few of my thoughts. I will also ask you, how has your use of technology changed in 10 years?
-The iPhone was not Apple’s bread and butter in 2010. In the USA, it was still an AT&T exclusive. Verizon users were being pushed to get a DROID, which was special branding put on Android phones made specifically for Verizon. Big iPhone competitors that year were the Motorola DROID, the DROID X, and the HTC DROID Incredible. As a Verizon customer, I could not get an iPhone. My first smartphone was the Incredible. Everything opened up in early 2011 when Verizon came to an agreement to sell the iPhone on their network. I got my first iPhone in the fall of 2013 and haven’t looked back.
-The 2010’s were also the decade of the iPad. I acquired my first iPad in 2010. To be honest, I didn’t see much use for it in the beginning and I sold it in about 6 months. Today, we see the iPad as the tablet done right. It does not run a full, traditional computer operating system (now called iPad OS) but it gets the job done well enough for quite a few folks as a primary computing device and nearly everyone else as a “secondary screen”. Want to use it in the hand? You can check email, shop, bank, read books, and watch TV / video. Want to use it with a keyboard? It is a near laptop. When Apple came out with the iPad Pro a few years back — they really blurred the lines between Mac and iPad. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, though I would still prefer a full Mac / Windows computer as my #1 device. There was a lull in the iPad market in 2015 and 2016. It seemed like it wasn’t going anywhere. But then, Apple lowered the price of the “standard iPad” (9.7 inch, now 10.2) to $329 in 2017 and sales have gone up like wild flowers.
-10 years ago — many people thought the PC (personal computer) would soon be dead. Remember when netbooks were a big thing? These were small – 9 or 10 inch — very underpowered Windows laptops that were meant for travel and quick browsing or e-mail. I fondly remember — hacking a Dell netbook and putting the Mac OS on it. It ran well for a while. The keyboard on that netbook was excellent, though cramped. Fast forward to 2019 and the PC is not dead. The industry has innovated. In late 2010, Apple released a timeless design with its 2nd generation Mac Book Air. This Ultrabook design helped change Windows PC’s for the better. No longer did a powerful machine have to be a big clunker. Microsoft also got into the market in 2012 by releasing its own line of tablet computers called Sufrace. The original Surface concept (which ran a limited version of Windows RT) was a flop, but the Surface Pro (which runs full Windows) has been a huge success. This 12 inch tablet, with keyboard has aged with conservative design changes and is really the gold standard for small, sub-13 inch computers. Consumers with simpler needs have moved to the smartphone and the iPad, in some instances – exclusively, but the PC market is still here. The premium PC market is strong.
-During the past 10 years — especially 2016-19 — Apple lost its perch in the laptop market. Beginning in 2016, they wanted to get so thin and light in order to shave a couple of millimeters that they released a horrible keyboard design. Many claims of defects were made and lots of warranty work had to be done. The problem became so bad that in 2018, Apple decided to give all owners of the new Mac Book Pros a 4 year warranty on the keyboards. This special warranty now covers the late 2016 to 2019 13 and 15 inch Mac Book Pros and the 2018 and 2019 Mac Book Airs. Good news! Apple has seen the error of its ways and recently came out with a new 16 inch laptop with the old 2015 style keyboard. Hallelujah! We can only hope that Apple will revise the 13 inch Mac Books (models my clients would be most likely to buy) accordingly next year.
-On a personal note, I just want to say that I have learned over the course of 10 years that not everything online is better. 10 years ago, I was actively pursuing my Bachelor’s degree online (with a few on campus courses mixed in). That evolved into an exclusively online Master’s for the academic portion, with some in-person internship or practicum experiences. It was a colossal $60,000 mistake. Some day, I should write an article or short guide about online college studies. Ultimately, what I learned is that online education is not appropriate for all learners and career objectives. Just because it’s more convenient or you are a technologically savvy person or you can express yourself more freely by typing — does not mean an online degree is appropriate. Online education would be appropriate for someone who is already established in an industry, even in an entry level way, and they are aiming for their degree (hopefully with the encouragement of management) in order to advance in that field. Online degrees are right for someone with an established network that is using that degree to get a bump in pay due to that accomplishment (ie. a teacher getting a salary increase for a Master’s). Online coursework would not be appropriate for someone looking to blaze a new path in a field where they have no relationships. That is where I got lost in the maze. I also believe formal college education is not right for everyone and that trade schools and apprenticeships are a very sustainable path for our young workers. It makes me think of a picture that you have problem seen passed around in chain e-mails depicting two “learners.” Jim — 4 year degree in Philosophy – $100K in debt, no job. Joe — 4 year paid apprenticeship. No debt. $80K a year salary. Today, Joe works for the electric company and cut off Jim’s lights for non-payment. Sad, but could be very true.
Comcast E-Mail Scare That Wasn’t
I had a little difficulty communicating with some clients on their Comcast e-mail accounts last week. Messages were vanishing into thin air and getting routed into Junk folders. Anyway – I took a little survey on Thursday and send out a Test E-Mail. Just about everyone wrote back and I know that the messages are flowing freely. Some of you using a client like Apple Mail or Outlook to fetch mail may have some spam filters that need to be tuned up. Also please make sure my e-mail address is in your address book. If ever you are expecting a reply from me — perhaps an appointment confirmation — and you don’t hear from me — please don’t hesitate to reach out to me by call or text.
I am not a master at drilling and running wires through walls or putting a satellite dish on the roof, but one thing I do know really well is the marketplace of cellular plans available. If you think it’s just a choice of Verizon, ATT, T-Mobile, and Sprint (the big four)– you are just scratching the surface. There are dozens and dozens of directly owned prepaid brands and MVNOs. What is an MVNO? It stands for mobile virtual network operator. These are companies that buy minutes, data, and texts in bulk from the aforementioned big four and then resell plans under their own brand. Perhaps the best known one is Consumer Cellular. You must have seen their very senior focused ads by now. They use the ATT and T-Mobile networks. Some of you are Tracfone customers. They are another MVNO, which, depending on the phone you buy, could operate on any of the big four. A few of you are Great Call / Jitterbug customers. They operate on Verizon. For the past 6 years, I have had my 91 year old grandma my on a different Verizon MVNO called Page Plus. She has a simple 500 minute flip phone plan and pays $12 per month. If you are financing a phone or use a lot of minutes or data, it may be best to stick with the big four. However, if you own your phone outright and want to explore options — you know who to contact. Me! The possibilities are almost endless in American cellular.
Apple Reverses Course on Laptops
And now for the big announcement: Apple (partially) revised its Mac Book Pro lineup for the second time this year and has introduced a 16 inch laptop that completely replaces the 15 inch product line. AND, the big and…… they have gone back to the 2015 style Mac Book Pro keyboard. Hooray! They finally did it. Without a big apology, they have made their apology. No longer must you worry about stuck keys and expensive failures. Remember — on all 2016 to 19 Mac Book Pros and the 2018 – 19 Mac Book Airs, they have given a 4 year extended warranty to everyone on those keyboards. The fix has arrived — well — we’re halfway home. That 16 inch Mac Book Pro is $2399, for starters (same as the 15). Most of my clients did not buy the 15 inch model in the past. You have 13 inch Pros or Airs. That new keyboard is coming to the 13 inch models. Expect all Apple laptops to have the new keyboard anytime between now and mid-2020. For some reason I think the beginning of Spring sounds about right, but I am open to surprises. If you need a new MacBook now or by the end of the year, I’ll support you with whatever you need to get. However, if you can wait — can you wait just a bit longer? Apple has made things right.
Do I need to do the updates? is a common question I get from clients. Well, they are pretty hard to avoid in many instances. Software updates to our devices bring us feature improvements (or new features), security and stability fixes. Due to the fact that I deal primarily with an older client base, new features don’t tend to WOW “Bobby from Southington” that much. However, one new feature that I think is pretty cool is that iOS 13 now offers a light mode and a dark mode. It can even automatically switch between the 2 at night which is very easy on my eyes. The Mac and Windows operating systems had a dark mode previously. Primarily, I think updates are important because they patch holes that attackers can use to penetrate your system. I try to be consistent in the language I use with you. Updates are the little fixes that come out all the time, for example 13.1.2 that just came out for iOS and iPad. Upgrades are the major new versions of the operating system. For Macs and iOS devices — these come out once a year. Windows has been rolling out 2 new versions of Windows per year since 2017 — which is one version too many. I usually put my Windows clients on a delay when possible. In general, I like the idea of setting devices to update automatically. Set it and forget it (no I did not pay for the trademark!).
Updates Can Wreak Havoc
Though Windows 10 has generally been very stable for my clients since it launched in July 2015, there have been more than half dozen new upgrades / new versions of Windows 10 released since then — all called Windows 10. HOW CONFUSING RIGHT? I think that a Windows 10 upgrade has only trashed a client’s computer three times and two of those times were with the same client. Sad, but true. I think their PC was never really meant to be supported by the manufacturer for Windows 10 in the long haul. I am not a commissioned salesperson, but that is why I always recommend letting me order a business class Windows computer for you. My wife has been using a Dell Optiplex desktop — purchased in 2008 — with upgrades to hardware over the years — to this day. It has gotten all the new versions of Windows 10 since 2015. Minor updates can cause problems too. On October 4th, Microsoft pushed out an update for Windows 10 that was supposed to improve Internet Explorer (who uses that anymore?) and printing functions. Unfortunately, it blocked printing for a small but ticked off percentage of Windows users including one of my clients. An update to the update was put out on October 7th to fix this. Are you keeping score at home? Good, because I’m not. 🙂
Be Careful About the New Version of Mac OS Released Yesterday
Mac OS 10.15 – code named Catalina – was released yesterday. I often tell my Mac clients, with compatible Macs (2012 and newer in this case) to upgrade. It doesn’t have to be right away but within the first couple months is fine. I also make myself available to clients to manage the upgrade for them and make a backup of the installer. Things can go wrong and most feel that a 2 hour appointment for this is well worth it. However, for 10.15 I am pumping the brakes and telling you to do the same — IF — you have a lot of software on your computer dating back years. Mac OS 10.15 does not support 32-bit Mac apps. These are usually apps that are more than 5 years old that have not been updated recently. Those apps may be very important to you. If so, hold off on 10.15. Microsoft Office 2016 will be fine. All current Apple apps are fine. However, your case may be the exception. Reach out and ask for help if you think you may have an issue. OS 10.15 will be great, but you may want to give yourself time to work out alternatives.
1. Apple updated its Safari browser to 13.0.1 this week. I have never been a huge fan of Safari — but its really growing on me as of late because improvements in browser safety. If you are attached to Firefox or Chrome, this may be less of a priority, but if you use Safari — checking for the update is a must. If you are still running Mac OS 10.13 please go to the App Store and check for Updates. If you have Mac OS 10.14 (with a really new Mac), you will want to go to the Apple Menu (top left), System Preferences and Software Update. If you are not seeing any updates, then you have the latest version of Safari. Recent enhancements to Safari include
-Forcing browser extensions to be installed from the Mac App Store only. If you do not see the “stop sign” Ad Block Plus — please install it for Safari from the Mac App Store
-Starting with version 13.0.1 – you will be required to approve each website that wants to download something to your Mac. If you weren’t planning on downloading something and you get this pop – up — don’t approve it.
2. Mac OS 10.15 is coming out next month. It is known as “Catalina”. And while I usually recommend installing new OS’es (sometimes with my help) for eligible Macs within the first 3 months — you may actually want to hold off if you are using older Mac applications that cannot be updated. OS 10.15 will no longer support older 32-bit Mac apps. Following the few quick steps in this article will show you how to check for 32-bit apps on your Mac. If you depend on any of these apps, you should not update to the next Mac OS until you have found updates for them or replacements. Feel free to get back to me on any 32-bit apps that you have concerns about. I’ll let you know if you should delete it, update it, or put the brakes on Mac OS 10.15. Follow the steps here
I wanted to give you a special review of Apple’s Big Event on Tuesday September 10 and make you aware of their new products and services.
As a reminder, I am ready to be your iPhone upgrade specialist. I can help you order your iPhone 11 model and help you get set up – as I have done for years. I will ensure data isn’t lost in the transfer by doing a FULL ENCRYPTED BACKUP via iTunes and restore to your new iPhone. No shortcuts here.
Apple Arcade: Apple is launching a video game service with unique titles – aimed at all ages. Games can be played across iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV. $4.99 / month for the whole family.
Apple TV Plus: This is Apple’s answer to Netflix and Hulu (for now and may become bigger). Apple will have original shows and movies. There will be add-ons available. This service will not include free access to the thousands upon thoughts of titles available in the iTunes Store already. It launches in November – at a very friendly $4.99 / month for a family subscription.
iPad: Apple’s basic iPad is still $329 and it is getting a bump up in screen size to 10.2 inches. If it’s been 3 or 4 years since your last iPad – you may really want to consider it. It’s better than ever and if needed it supports the Smart Keyboard for the first time.
Apple Watch: The Apple Watch 5 may have been the star of the show. It is getting more sophisticated at tracking our health and helping us improve our lives. An emphasis was really made on older adults in the presentation and how the heart rate monitor and EKG feature can help save lives. Pricing starts at $399, if you don’t mind the rubber strap (I don’t). Apple also wants to make sure that Apple Watch technology is available to all. Therefore they are selling the Apple Watch 3 for $199, a great alternative to the Fit Bit Versa. However, just remember – you will need the Apple Watch 4 and later to get the EKG feature. Perhaps a deal may be available on the Apple Watch 4 – where models are still available.
DRUM ROLL PLEASE — HERE ARE YOUR NEW IPHONES
iPhones: Apple really wowed on their base iPhone – the iPhone 11 – which is a replacement for the iPhone XR. Not only does it have 2 cameras and come in more color options – but they dropped the price from $749 to $699. Way to go Apple! This the iPhone that most customers will be buying and will be the one most appropriate for my clients.
However, there are 2 super premium Pro level iPhones also coming out – the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. They are priced at $999 and $1099 respectively (same as last year. A common thought is – the Pro is for users who want a PRO CAMERA. This is true. I really think if you learn to use one of these Pro iPhones– they can be as good as a $400-500 camera. Truth be told, I can think of 2 other reasons for the Pro. You would want the 11 Pro if you absolutely want the SMALLEST new iPhone. The 11 Pro is 5.8 inches diagonally vs 6.1 inches for the iPhone 11. Also, the iPhone 11 Pro Max is the one for you if you want the LARGEST new iPhone – clocking in at 6.5 inches diagonally. Keep in mind, you will pay $300 to $400 more for these size preferences.
Personally, speaking I am doing my best effort to get my pre order in for a regular iPhone 11 this morning. Pre-orders start today and shipments begin on September 20th.
Conclusion: I watched the whole event live. I think it was Apple’s best product / service event since the passing of Steve Jobs in 2011.