Category: Macs

Updates: Can’t Live With Em–Can’t Live Without Em

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.

Mac Tips–Red Lights and Green Lights

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 

https://appleinsider.com/articles/19/08/13/how-to-check-which-mac-apps-are-32-bit-and-wont-work-in-macos-catalina

Special Review of Apple’s Sept 10 Event

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.

A Note On Mac Security

I was thinking about you tonight.  I did not want to mix this in with my normal beginning of the week update because well — half of those readers have Windows

A striking thought hit me the other day. Out of all of the security breaches, malware, viruses (whatever you want to call them) that have happened to my clients this year — ALL HAVE BEEN ON A MAC (and in one case on a Chromebook).   None happened on the Windows platform.  Do I think the Mac is becoming less secure?  No.  I think more people are using Macs than ever before and the hackers are finding more of a reason to target the Mac because of sheer numbers of potential targets.

So there are 2 things that I want you to do.  Do them.  Clients, you can send me a simple reply if you notice something unusual after going through steps 1 and 2 and I will reply back.   (No charge for this brief e-mail checkup.)


1) In your browser (whether it is Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Brave – whichever you use) search from the address bar at the top.  Delete the http://www.whatever…..  and type in something you want to search for.   Hit Return.    The result should clearly be a GOOGLE page (or correspond to your default search engine.)   If it doesn’t, you have a problem!  Just let me know if you get a weird result.


2)  Go to Finder >> Applications folder.   Do you see any in there that you don’t recognize?  I am not really asking about apps you don’t use — those can always be deleted later but ones that seem suspicious.  (Apps you don’t need to report back to me on are — Word, Excel, Power Point, Outlook, One Note, Notes, Reminders, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iMovie, Garage Band) 


Hopefully everything is fine but this is a good check up that you can easily do — and should do regularly to thwart browser hijacks and malware applications. If I don’t hear from you, I will assume everything is A – OK.

Microsoft Browser Back On The Mac

Don’t know if anyone has been following this  — but it’s the real deal

Microsoft was the king of the browser world in 2005.   Through mostly illegal tactics, they killed off Netscape Navigator.   The Mozilla project was underway and Firefox was just being born.  Chrome was not even a factor yet.

Fast forward many years later, if you factor in iOS devices and Android phones — which are truly computers in their own right — Chrome and Safari became the dominant browsers.   By the time Windows 10 came out in 2015, Internet Explorer was an afterthought.  Microsoft buried it in the operating system in favor of a new “E” logo browser, the completely re-written Microsoft Edge.    I’ll be honest, it was decent, but it never amassed more than a 2 or 3% market share.

Several months ago — Microsoft decided to do something radical.  They began re-working Edge this time based on the open-source Chromium project (the foundation of Google Chrome).  Wow.   By being part of the Chromium project Microsoft is also able to contribute to development of this browser.    It is also available for the Mac!!   Think of the new Edge as Chrome underneath — but without any connection to Google services.  Some people may really like that, though I think Brave and Vivaldi are also fine Chromium based browsers for those not wanting to be “dialing out” to Google all the time.

After several developer releases, Edge was finally released in Beta last week.  Microsoft claims its ready for prime time.   It is compatible with the Chrome Web Store for extensions.  The official release should be out later this year, we hope.

Official link — https://www.microsoftedgeinsider.com/en-us/

Apple Card

*Disclaimer:  This is not an endorsement of the Apple Card or for anyone to take on revolving lines of credit.   With that said, Apple is getting into the credit card game.   There has been an Apple Rewards Visa for years (most recently offered through Barclay’s Bank), but with the new Apple Card, the world’s most beloved technology company is taking a much greater degree of control over the process.   Let’s start with some basic facts.   Credit is being granted to customers through Goldman Sachs.   Yes, you read that right.  They are not merely an institutional investment bank anymore.  Goldman has branched into consumer finance in recent years by offering high yield savings accounts and personal loans through its Marcus brand.  The Apple Card card is a Mastercard.  Apple designed the physical card, which, apparently has a very nice titanium feel to it.   Apple was very involved in the entire process.  In fact they are saying the Apple Card is “offered by us, not banks.”   Security is the highest priority.   There will be no printed number on the card, no expiration date, and no 3 digit code.  There will be no signature on the card.  You can still use it in stores via the chip readers.   On your iPhone, iPad or Mac, you will be able to use the card with any merchant that accepts Apple Pay.   So yes, the card will only be relevant for online shopping for those of you who have one or more of those devices.  Interest rates range from pretty good for those of you who have high credit scores, to very average for those with lower scores.   A check of your Trans Union credit report is required for approval (for those of you who may have a credit freeze in place), but reports have come out that credit scores as low as 620 are getting approved.   Never have I read this much “buzz” in my life about a new credit card on the market.  Customers will be able to accumulate rewards for purchases with Apple.   Let’s see how successful Apple is with this venture.  On one hand, I don’t think they want to encourage irresponsible debt, but they are also doing things with this instrument that other banks are not.  It’s a unique card. The application has been opened up to a limited audience at this time (via the Wallet app) with general availability coming soon.

Review of Apple’s Big Event | Time for New Phones and Tablets?

This event has already been reported in the mainstream media, usually in snippets and soundbites. Clients have already asked me to clarify the confusion. I wanted to break their “state of the state” address into a very specific focus for you — 1) What it means for your Macs, 2) What it means for your iPhones / iPads, and 3) What it means for iTunes. Feel free to print this out or save this e-mail or share with your Mac / iOS using friends. This info will still be valid in the fall and ongoing.

Apple held their WWDC keynote address on Monday. Aside from a new Mac Pro desktop (which is intended for designers, people in video production, and engineers — users outside my typical client demographic), this event was all about software. Like clockwork, Apple is coming out with a brand new version of iOS and macOS. These are the BIG annual upgrades that I often tell you about. They will be available in the late summer / early fall. These will be known as iOS 13 and macOS 10.15. Apple is essentially “forking off” the software for the iPad and calling it iPadOS. This will be coming out in the fall for existing, compatible iPads as well. As I told one client today, ALL OF THE NEW SOFTWARE WILL BE FREE. These new editions of the respective operating systems offer guidance as to which Macs and iOS devices will no longer be supported.

For the Macs that you need to know about — macOS 10.15 will support
Mac Book Pro – 2012 and later
Mac Book Air – 2012 and later
iMac – 2012 and later
Mac Mini – 2012 and later
*Usually my rule of thumb is, when it’s the first version of the macOS that does not support your Mac — you have a little time.  Once its the next full year and it’s that second version of the mac OS that doesn’t support your system — you really need to get a new Mac.  (For example, if you have a 2011 Mac Book Pro (and some of you do), macOS 10.14 (2018 version) was the first one your Mac did not support.  If this Mac is still in operation, you should be thinking about a new Mac once the new software comes out in the fall. Take a deep breath, you don’t have to make a purchase exactly on that date.)  Of course, this only applies if you are going to stay with a Mac.  Alternatively, you can upgrade to a new computer whenever you want.  If your Mac is getting slow or if it fails, you may not be waiting until the end of its software life cycle.
 
As for the iPhones and iPads 
iOS 13 / iPad OS will support
iPhone SE and later (the 2015 iPhone 6s and 6s Plus are not included).  iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are OK.
iPad Mini 4 and later
iPad Air 2 (2014 model) and later
*With the iPhones and iPads, you can see they are not supported as long as the Macs.  This is just my personal opinion, but I think that when these device are no longer supported it’s time to get an new device.   So, you can see essentially, that the iPhones and iPads are 4-5 year devices (from initial release).  They may break; you may be unhappy with the performance, so in that case you can upgrade on more frequent intervals if needed.   From this compatibility / obsolescence schedule, I hope you can see that there is no point in buying a 2 or 3 year old iPhone.  That’s why the carrier or Apple are offering them for next to nothing.   I think it’s a sin that Verizon stores were recently offering the 2015 iPhone 6s for “0 dollars”. They are selling paperweights!   I know many of you have iPhone 6 or 6s models or even the original iPad Air.  It’s time to start thinking about upgrading.   And, you can certainly wait until one of the new models comes out in the fall.

iTunes is Going Away – Sort of 
One of the other big announcements was that Apple is replacing iTunes in macOS 10.15 with 3 apps — Music, Podcasts, Apple TV.   Most of the music synchronization, purchasing, organization, and iOS device management will take place in the Music app on the Mac.  Windows users — do not fear.   iTunes will still be available and remain your destination for all of these tasks on the Windows platform for the foreseeable future.