Mar 02

SSL Bug – more whooo than haaaah

All over the press there are stories about serious bug in the MacOSX and in iOS that threatens to leak all your private web traffic all over the Internet.
Listening to them you’d be forgiven for thinking that your bank account details are going to posted on Facebook sites all over the world.

Truth is….
Yes there is a bug.
Yes it is serious and steps have already been taken to plug it.
No, there’s only a “proof of concept” out there. There is no evidence that anyone has, or even knows how, to exploit this bug.

For iOS users, download the latest version of the iOS and you’ll be fixed.
MacOSX users, download the latest version of the OS from software updates.

Above all…. Don’t panic.

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Feb 26

Handling Winmail.dat

It’s usual a vital email. You are usually in a hurry. You need to deal with the contents of this important email right now.
But it’s blank.
The only content is an attachment entitled Winmail.dat.
So what is it and why is it happening?
And more importantly, what can you do about it?
Firstly, and this is an important point, it is not happening because you are using a mac. This issue affects Windows users as well.
The Winmail.dat file occurs when the sender is using (usually) an older copy of Outlook on Windows and they are trying to send an email in HTML format. Apple mail, and other mail readers, only read and send in plain text (boring looking emails) or rich text (better looking emails. ) to ensure that the mail message is compatible with as many readers and operating systems as possible. In fact most mail programs (Windows and Mac alike) take this view. But the winmail.dat issue occurs when the senders application doesn’t get it quite right.
So anyway, enough about that, what can you do about it?
The most immediate answer is to ask the person at the other send to stop sending HTML formatted emails but if you can’t or don’t want to do that then you need to invest in software that will open the .dat file quickly and easily.

By far the best solution is Letter Opener from Creative.
This is a cheap plug in for Apple Mail that installs in seconds and it will change the .dat file to an .eml file. You just double click on it and voila you see the email as it should have arrived.
The installer has a 15 day trial and what is even better is that the same company offer an iPhone/iPad version as well.

Once installed that Windmail.dat file that refuses to open looks like a regular attachment and when you double click on it opens like a regular email.

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Feb 18

Firefox to be “ad supported” in future releases


Every now and then someone or something sells out, leaving you stunned and disappointed. I had a similar feeling when Apple announced that iAd would be “integrated” into the iOS leaving some – including me – with the impression that the iOS was going to become an operating system that tried to sell you something every 5 minutes. It made my skin crawl that such a thing might happen to the iPhone. Fortunately it didn’t work out that way and iAd remained exactly where it always should be – out of sight.

However LifeHacker have just reported that Firefox – one of the most outspoken advocates of privacy, freedom and anti-establishment has announced they are moving to an ad supported model.

We are yet to see how this will play out but according to Mitchell Baker – Chairman – it will feature sponsored tiles to “enhance” and “add value” to the users experience.

During Health Checks I have always added an updated Firefox to the Applications folder as an alternative should Safari have an issue at some stage. But rest assured as soon as this Ad supported version arrives I will be switching to something else.

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Feb 13

iTunes Radio arrives in Australia

Announced back in October 2013, iTunes Radio was to be Apple’s answer to services like Pandora and Rdio.

Launched first in the US (predictably) it failed to win over many Pandora users not because there was anything wrong with it , but because it didn’t offer anything new. So why change?

Well, for starters, iTunes Radio is cheaper for the professional (no ads) version than Pandora Pro. Secondly you have the option to buy the track you are listening to with a simple tap of the screen. Then there are the fine tuning that allows you – once you have decided to listen to Sting for example – to have the subsequent tracks to include more Hits or Variety or Discovery (which I assume means playing the songs that even the artist is ashamed of). As you’d expect, iTunes Radio permeates through your entire Apple Eco system being available on iTunes on your Mac, your iPhone/iPad and Apple TV all offering you your Stations and your play history. And the whole thing is wrapped up in an interface that is better than Pandora as well.

But there are some problems. Yes its true that Pandora and iTunes both play ads until you pay for the Professional version but iTunes Radio plays far more ads than Pandora and they are all US ads. I have been using Pandora for about 4 months and I think I have heard three ads. I was listening to iTunes Radio for two hours today and I heard the same ad six times!! Also the catalog – I fear – might be a little main stream. I client introduced me to a mock heavy metal band called Steel Panther and so when I got home that night I thought I’d test Pandora and see if they stocked it. Just how extensive was their library anyway? Surprisingly it was there and it played all the hits.

I don’t recommend you look them up, they are very rude!

So naturally, given just how big iTunes is, I looked  up Steel Panther on iTunes Radio and found nothing.

But I am getting ahead of myself! Right about now, if you’ve never heard of Pandora (beyond its mythical reference) you are probably wondering what the hell I am on about. In simple terms Pandora, iTunes Radio and the like are music streaming services. The free versions allow you to choose a “radio’ station of your own making. You might choose Classical, or Rolling Stones or Jazz and it will start playing that kind of music until you run out of battery power or the end of the world comes to your front door. With this kind of service running on your Mac or iPhone/iPad the headache over choosing music for a dinner party is gone forever.

So what to do? Well if you are one of those people who has already bought iTunes Match then you automatically get full (ad free) access to iTunes Radio. If you are looking for something that works well, is free without being annoying – Pandora is for you.

That is until their revenue starts to suffer and they increase the ads.


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Feb 09

Quick access to Launch Pad


I have spoken about Launch Pad before on this site and as you might recall I used to hate it. I thought it was a useless attempt to meld the iOS and the MacOS; something that Microsoft have done with Windows 8 that has been about as successful as a volleyball match in a mine field.

But with Mountain Lion (and later Mavericks) the search function meant it was instantly more useful, a joy even. The other day I started to look to see if there was a key command I was missing that would allow me fire up to Launch Pad without having to resort to the mouse. After all, there are dedicated keys for Dashboard and Mission Control on the keyboard and Control+Space brings up Spotlight so why not Launch Pad? A frantic search proved that Apple had not included a key command for Launch Pad but its easy to set up for this, and as it happens, many other applications.


1. Click on the Apple menu and choose System Preferences and choose Keyboard.

Keyboard from system preferences

2. Click on the Shortcuts tab.


3. Click on Launchpad & Dock and then click on the Show Launchpad and then the shortcut key setting (highlighted below)

assigning a shortcut

4. Type the shortcut you want (mine if Command 1) and then close the window.


Now press your new shortcut and Launch Pad will appear, start typing the name of the application you want to launch and it everything will disappear leaving just what you want. The arrow key will move you around between the icons (if there are more than one that is) and hitting the Return key will launch the application – all without touching the mouse.

By the way, the ESC will get you out of Launch Pad.


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