Sep 20

IOS8 and iPhone6

tim-cook-wears-black-roshe-run-to-announce-iphone-6When the iPad was released in 2010 Steve claimed that the 9 inch form factor was “the optimum size”. History has proved him wrong with the iPad Mini being favored by most of today’s iPad buyers and while I cannot claim to have insider knowledge surrounding the decision to give the original iPhone a 4 inch screen I suspect it was because Apple were determined that the iPhone could be used with one hand.

Samsung, devoid of any original ideas, copied the iPhone without any shame and didn’t even have the decency to improve on the concept. In fact- with help from Android – they only succeeded in cheapening the model and the interface and the court case and subsequent the resulting billion dollar fine seemed to confirm this.
One thing Samsung did do was popularized the larger screen phone. I am not talking about the Phablet, but the 4.8 inch screen introduced by the Galaxy S – the first Android phone to sell well. From that moment on it was clear that “some” people preferred a larger screen and yet Apple resisted coming out with the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 5S with taller screens but not wider screens.
So why would the people who pioneered the iPhone not produce a larger screen phone because it wouldn’t have be hard to do? The simple answer is the one they came out with during the iPhone 5s launch – that they were committed to the idea of using the a phone with one hand hadn’t yet fingered out how to make a large phone work this way.
Being totally devoid of any innovative abilities Samsung had simply made the phone bigger without figuring out (or caring presumably) about the user experience. Smart watches that actually do very little and what little they do do isn’t done very well. Phones that have an interface that looks like it was copied from an iPhone by someone wearing boxing gloves and TVs that have 101 features – none of which work well or is anything anyone wants. But at least they can say the features are there- regardless of how useless they are.

So, by now you’ll be wondering what has happened to Apple’s concept of using the phone with one hand now that they have released the iPhone 6 (4.7 inch screen) and the iPhone 6 Plus (5.5 inch screen)?
Well with all the improved design, the new body shape, the improved battery life and the improved camera the ace in the whole turns out to be a new gesture called “reachabilty”. The simple gesture of lightly pressing twice on the home button moves the whole screen down so you can, still with one hand, reach the top most icons and arrows.
I first saw this demonstrated at the keynote address and I must confess I didn’t think it was something I’d ever use and in any case Samsung already have a similar function and it doesn’t work. But in just 24 hours it has become common place- almost second nature and it seems, again, Apple have taken the time to make it actually work for the user.
Suddenly the convenience of looking at websites and emails with a larger screen doesn’t mean I always have to use two hands to use my phone. And the genius of this gesture is that it renders even the ridiculous iPhone 6 Plus simple to use with one hand.

Suddenly the new iPhones mean there really isn’t any need to but an Android because the only lead they ever had (larger screens) has been surpassed and in a spectacular way. Now you can a phone that has a rock solid and consistent interface that is both secure and easy to use on a large screen.

See reachability in action here.

The other jewel was the release of iOS 8 and while it’s not radically different from the iOS 7 in terms of looks, it has enough under the bonnet to warrant the upgrade.
For starters iOS 8 now supports extensions. This technology (a catch up from Andriod if I Aam honest) means that for the first time iOS now shares some of its core services with third party developers.
What the hell does that mean?
Instead of separate camera apps (as an example) that do things the built in camera app doesn’t do, these features just appear when you launch the camera app. In a similar way there are now lol kinds of keyboards available and password manager apps now work right inside Safari in the same way it does on the desktop.
Anyone who has tried those 1Password on an iPhone will be dancing in the street right about now.

Then there are the nifty little things like being able to reply to a text message without leaving the app you are in. Or being able to activate Siri by simply saying “hey siri”….. You don’t need to even touch the phone. The list goes on and on and a comprehensive list of all the features The can be found here.

With the combination of iOS 8 and the new phones the future seems bright again. No need (if in fact there was ever a need) to feel ashamed that your phone only came in one size.
This new found optimism is encapsulated- I think- by Steve Wozinak (cofounder of Apple) who has for a while now been an Android user. After the launch he announced he was “throwing away all his android phones”
I guess he was waiting for a larger screen as well.

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Sep 12

Apple Watch, U2 and Privacy

tim-cook-wears-black-roshe-run-to-announce-iphone-6Let me start by saying that I know nothing about Smart Watches. I have never worn one, I only know one person in the world that wears one (and his is the only one I have ever actually seen in the wild) and I have never really wanted one either.

As tragically nerdy as I can be sometimes.

That said I was looking forward to the iWatch (or Apple Watch as it turns out) with some level of anticipation. I thought that Apple might, as they’d done with the phone, the music player and the tablet, taken on an industry that had to date gone nowhere and made it sexy. Functional. Actually worth while having.
When the watch materialised on the screen during the September launch I was a little shocked. For starters I expected something round, a classic looking watch that looked right at home sitting next to a Tag Heuer or Fossil.
But it’s square! It’s thick! It actually looks like a smart watch! Plus it’s gaudy (or at least that’s what I used to think but more about that later)

So why would Apple make a square, nerdy looking device? They certainly didn’t rush the product?
As it turns out square is the optimum shape for input and it’s currently not possible to make a thin smart watch. As it turns out the tech industry is limited in the sameway when it comes to stuffing tech into a watch as manufacturers were in the 1970s when making digital watches. These facts make it easier to understand the design choices of all the other smartwatchs because they are all square, bulky and all breathtakingly ugly.

Actually the Moto360 is a round smartwatch and it actually looks good but recent reports have pointed out that it is limited in function and in performance.

Not being the kind of person to wear a smartwatch I am not concerned about how it would look on my wrist but rather on any wrist. I mentioned before that I thought it looked gaudy but after looking it again and comparing it to the others I have concluded that Apple have actually produced a beautiful product depending on the size and how it’s configured. I have seen some with the larger (closer to a rectangle than a square screen) with a gold bezel and a red leather strap. These are the most repulsive but I have been told they will certainly be popular in certain parts of the world. On the other hand, the smaller, space grey bezel with the metal strap is actually a passable time piece. Still not fit to sit next to a Tag  – but close.

apple watch

Other aspects of the keynote announcement – aside from the new iPhones – were very interesting and had far reaching implications.

The first was, undoubtedly, ApplePay.

I won’t go too far into ApplePay because it might be a while before we can use here but in short you will be able to pay for things by using your phone. Big deal (I hear you say), Android have been doing this for years. Well that’s true but the difference is that with ApplePay there is no credit card info stored on your phone but rather a token generated between you and the bank at the time of purchase. In short, more secure and very private. Nevertheless this has raised all kinds of questions about privacy.


The trouble with these kinds of arguments is they always paint every tech company with the same brush. When Apple or Microsoft say they have no interest in your personal data they mean it. Their business is not selling your buying habits, your search tendencies or your click fetishes to the highest bidder (I am looking at you google and Android) but rather to sell you services and stuff like phones and computers. As an interesting example of this – Facebook recent forced everyone (who uses FaceBook) to use their Messenger application. On the Android platform this app just raided the address book and calendar information without as much as a “by your leave.” This is in stark contrast to the iPhone app that slapped the Messenger app in the face and made it sit in the corner until you – the user – gave it permission to use your Contacts or Calendar information.

As I have said a hundred times. Anyone who has an Android phone should just mail their Passport and credit card info to the Russian mafia and get it over with.

The Second ‘incident’ and something of a contradiction for Apple was the free U2 album: Songs of Innocence. In something of a privacy violation in reverse, Apple downloaded U2’s latest album to every iTunes account whether you wanted it or not and lots of people were incensed by this because it seems even free gifts need to be agreed too. One journalist likened it to “a gift from an ageing relative that doesn’t know you very well” In the beginning I was a little put out because it was a terrible album –  so bad in fact I wanted to cheese grate my face off –  but then became miffed with a capital “WTF” when I realised it wasn’t easy to remove. Thankfully if you don’t want the U2 album it is now very easy to remove via this tool released by Apple a few days later.


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Sep 02

Recent nude photo scandal has implications for you


Even if the most risqué photo on your iPhone is a cat cleaning itself the recent theft of nude photos from 100 of Hollywood’s hottest stars will affect you and your iCloud account.
The initial report suggested that iCloud had in fact been hacked but Apple has since announced that the attack was “specific” and “targeted” and not a breach of iCloud security. But the measures they took to make sure it cannot happen again will affect you and that photo of the obsessively clean cat.
But more about that later.

As part of iCloud, Apple introduced Photostream, a service that automatically syncs your photos between your iPad, your iPhone and your desktop via the Internet. A very convenient way of keeping your albums in sync but at the time people were cautious and a little unnerved that their iPhone (which often lends itself to “those kinds of photos” was posting these into the cloud. It was argued that while security was one thing, these photos quietly appearing on your desktop Mac for your mum to find was a bit of a worry.
But as time moved on people accepted, and even wished for, this service to keep their snaps in check and for those that enjoyed taking nude selfies- a little more care needed and often exercised.
For my part I will continue to use iCloud as I don’t believe it is any less secure than google drive, one drive or Dropbox but the attack has exposed the fact that Apple did allow you to try your password over and over again before giving up and having it reset.
It was this policy that allowed the hacker to perform a brute force attack on these specific accounts until the weak password was guessed.

Indeed it is worth noting it was the weakness of the password and NOT iCloud security that allowed this theft to take place.

However, in the light of this recent attack Apple have changed this policy and from now on you’ll get three goes and then you’ll be locked out.

This is where we come in.

I see clients struggle with their iCloud password a dozen times a week and so this latest change has brought into sharp focus two things. First, the need for a good password and second, a sure fire way to remember it and recall it.

If you believe your password needs to be changed to something a little more secure you can do it using this method.

Your iCloud password should be more than 8 characters long, contain numbers and a capital letter. I think it is a good idea to add a dash between words or letters as well. For example: Saw-odd-has-p00 is pretty good.
I would also recommend that you set up 2 step verification to protect you even further.

As for recording and recalling it, I think our old friend 1password is the only way to do this properly.

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Aug 28

Remove Genieo from your Mac

popupFrom time to time, when downloading legitimate applications, they come bundled with utilities that are both self promoting and buggy. MacKeeper comes to mind and I have written about that digital excrement before here but this time I need to warn you about Genieo.

I first noticed Genieo a few years ago on a clients computer.  Back then thought it was something she had downloaded for her own purposes and so I didn’t mention it. But in recent weeks I have found 4 macs infected with Mac Trojans and this is a stark contrast to the zero I have discovered in the last 25 years…. so I thought something was up. The trojans were continually putting up ads in Safari or offers to enter competitions when the client was trying to browse.

I was shocked by this sudden leap in infections and when I started looking into it I discovered that nearly all of these clients had Genieo installed.

Now I am not saying that Genieo is a trojan or a virus or even that it is evil. But its definitely self promoting and does little to enhance your Mac. Needless to say I removed it quick smart and I advise you do as well.

So, how do you know if you have it installed?

If Genieo is installed you will see an icon – looks something like a house – in the menubar. If you click on it you’ll see a menu something like this.


Steps to remove

1. Click on the Genieo menu and choose Quit

2. go to this address

3. Click on Uninstall Genieo and follow the prompts.

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Aug 28

Rules to deal with scams

This article is probably the kind of thing you should print out and put next to your computer. Its probably worth forwarding onto your friends as well.


Scams are getting more and more personal, with maggots masquerading as human beings calling you up to fleece you up close and personal. Sometimes it is a very convincing looking email that traps you. If you are on the net or you answer your telephone (rather than always letting it go through to voicemail – scammers don’t leave messages) then you need to remain ever watchful.

Here are some simple rules I use to protect myself –  hope they help.




If someone from Microsoft, Telstra, Apple….anyone, calls you out of the blue with bad news about your computer – HANG UP.



Example…if Telstra call you, hang up, find the number for Telstra and call them yourself. DON’T USE ANY NUMBERS SUPPLIED BY THE CALLER.



No bank. No financial institution, no business worth its salt, will ever email you and ask for personal details, bank details or ask you to <<CLICK HERE>>  in order to access your account. Delete the email and then log onto the bank or financial institution using the link you have always used and check it out yourself. Or call the bank and ask them if your account is OK.


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