Nov 01

Apple TV 4th Gen – The Saviour of TV

different in sizesFor the last ten years or so I have been more willing to spoon feed my eyeballs to the cat than watch a single second of commercial TV.

So it will come as no surprise, I am sure, that I have been a big fan of the Apple TV ever since its release in 2007.

I have written a few articles about it in that time but to be honest the product has remained pretty static with just the odd speed bump, size change and resolution capabilities to its name. It has, in essence remained a conduit between your TV and the internet. Thats not to say that I haven’t loved it and rank it as one of the most important elements of home entertainment. This is especially true when you think of the alternatives. Commercial TV with Big Brother, endless ads, Celebrity Big Brother, Weight loss programs, Goggle Box (God help us), more ads.

Where is that cat?

Then there is Foxtel… the great lie. A $25+ subscription service that STILL rams ads down your throat! I am sorry, but when I pay a fee it is supposed to expunge ads completely.

What’s wrong, doesn’t my cat like eyeballs?

Anyway I am getting side tracked. Needless to say, the Apple TV hasn’t changed much, until now. And my goodness, what a change!

Let’s start with what hasn’t changed.

It still connects to the TV via an HDMI cable, to your network via ethernet or wifi. It still offers lounge room comfortable access to iTunes movies, music, TV shows, Netflix, Stan and YouTube. (to name but a few). It still allows you to stream music and video from your iPad or iPhone to the TV and, if connected, to your amplifier.

However, the 4th gen Apple TV now has Siri, and an App Store that opens it up for endless improvement, awesome screen savers that get updated monthly and a new interface that delivers far more content than ever before.

Let us, as MC Hammer once declared, break it down.

Setting up

For those that haven’t bought  an Apple TV before, this is what you get in the post.

Apple TV 4th gen

Inside, typically Apple, are the bare necessities. The Apple TV itself, a power cable, remote, an info booklet, a remote and a charging cable.

Unboxed apple tv


From here, even if you have unpacked an Apple TVs in the past, it gets new and very exciting.

Upon plugging the unit into your TV and turning it on you are asked to pair the included remote.

pairing apple tv with iOS

If you already have your iTunes details stored on your iPhone or iPad you can use it to setup the Apple TV automatically.

pairing apple tv remote

set up apple tv with iPhone

After this a two step verification is all that is required and the Apple TV is ready to go!

The first thing you’ll notice is that the layout  is cleaner and the second thing you’ll notice (if you’ve used one before) is that YouTube and Netflix are missing. Don’t worry. That, as it turns out, is part of the magic.

The App Store

Like the iPhone, iPad and the Mac, the Apple TV now has an App Store. It is here that you can download and install games, cooking apps, exercise apps and, tah nah!, Netflix and Youtube.

In the coming months you’ll be downloading the BBC iPlayer and possibly the ABC iView.

This is the genius of the new set up because this allows the Apple TV to go well beyond just a pipeline to the internet. The App store allows it to expand into serving up recipes, exercise routines, fast food ordering, shopping in general… the list is potentially endless.

In order to add YouTube, and this serves as an example on how to use the App store in general, do the following:

Using the new remote – the top part acts like a track pad – navigate to the App Store icon.

apple tv app store


Go to search and start typing “You Tube”


Select it by pressing on the trackpad like area with your thumb.


You might notice that this is NOT Youtube but a fake fireplace. I already had Youtube, but the process is the same.

It will dutifully download and when finished it will be on your home screen.

apple tv menus

You might have noticed that while you were there you could search for a whole heap of other things and have a look at was is trending.


On the remote there is a small microphone icon. Pressing and holding will bring up Siri and you can ask her all kinds of things and, once again, I can see this getting more and more feature rich as time goes on.

Some of the nattier things you can do with her at the moment are…

While a movie is playing you can ask Siri to turn on subtitles, skip forward 10 mins, go back to the beginning, who stars in this movie, who directed it, ect. You can also ask her “what did he say” and the movie will automatically rewind 15 seconds and subtitles will be added temporarily.

You can, before watching a movie, ask Siri to show you all the best Action movies or the latest romances. One particular favourite of mine is something along the lines of…

“Show me all the James Bond movies”

Movies are listed.

“Just the ones starring Sean Connery”

Just his movies are then listed.


Important setting

The internet in this country is a joke, a mess, an inconsistent jumble of the haves and have nots. It’s a disgrace. But unfortunately the Apple TV relies on a good, fast internet service and Apple ship it, set up by default, to take full advantage. This means unless you do a little tweaking, the first movie or TV show you download will be in full High Definition and your hair will have grown another inch before you get to watch it. Fortunately there is a setting that will allow you to download and rent in Standard Definition that works rather well even on the weakest (aka my house) internet service.

To change downloads to Standard Definition you do the following:

  1. Navigate to Settings
  2. Go to Apps
  3. Open iTunes Movies and TV Shows
  4. Select Video Resolution and select Standard Definition


Happy watching and don’t miss my guide on how to set up legal access to US, UK and Australian Netflix.


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Oct 24

Ordering prints from Photos

serveimageWhen I first started in the computer business I was sold the lie of the paperless office. When I started my business I was determined that it should be as paperless as possible and so now everything in my house is digital. All paper that comes in is scanned and then shredded and the only bound pulp that survives are books and manuals too thick to fit in the scanner.

I have even gone as far as scanning our wedding certificate and shredding the original. My wife doesn’t  know though but since she doesn’t read these blogs I am safe.

So it will come as no surprise that all the photos in our house are digital as well and I haven’t been to a photo processing booth since my clothes had shoulder pads. But this isn’t for everyone and so there are places around town that have booths that look like cheerful ATMs where you can insert a usb key or an SD card into one slot and have prints come out another.

But built into Photos (and iPhoto before it) is a way of ordering prints directly from Apple that arrive just a few days later. It is simple and easy and best of all it can be done while wearing your pyjamas.

As a rule I wouldn’t recommend going to Officeworks in your pyjamas.

1. Open Photos and go to the photos you want to print, whether they be in an album or just scattered in your “all Photos ” section.Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.04.54 am

2. Select the photos you want. You can do this by clicking on the photo holding the option key or dragging your pointer over a series of photos. The important thing is, the ones you want to order need to have a blue border.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.05.18 am

3. Click on the File menu and choose Order Prints.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.05.32 am


4. Choose the size you want. As you can see you have more than the traditional size and type to choose from.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.05.52 am


5. If there is a need to, Photos will crop the photos to fit inside the print size you asked for. This isn’t normally an issue, but clicking on the photo will allow you to adjust the crop if needed.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.07.41 am


6. Also, if any of your photos are low resolution, it will warn you that the resulting print might be less than acceptable. From my experience even a photo taken with a 1990’s mobile phone printed just fine using this service.Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.07.56 am


7. Once you are happy you can choose to have glossy or matt finish and or white borders. Then click on Order Prints.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.08.07 am


8. If this is the first time you have done this you might be asked to confirm your Apple ID and the credit card associated , this is normal and a good thing.

9. Once your Apple ID has been sorted you’ll be asked to choose the amount of copies and your shipping address and then its off to the presses.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.08.27 am


Needless to say I don’t use this service often – remembering my obsession with everything digital – but when I do need a physical print I don’t go anywhere near those happy ATM things.

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Oct 23

Safari scam

 There has been an increase in a new kind of scam and, sadly, these scum bags are targeting Mac users.

This is what happens.

You might be surfing and you go to a website that is, shall we say, low rent and substandard.

One client was simply looking for a photo of Santa when she was attacked.

Suddenly a dialog box will appear on screen saying that you Mac has been infected or some other kind of nonessential drivel.

You will be urged to click a link or call a toll free number. Do neither.

However, that’s not the end of the story. Because when you go to close the page you cannot and quitting and relaunching Safari doesn’t help either because the page simply loads again.

Thankfully the fix is easy.

First boil the kettle and make a nice cup of tea.

1. Quit Safari.

2. Click on the Finder and click on the Go menu.

3. Press the Option key on your keyboard and you will see the folder Library pop up.

4. Choose this folder.

5. Scroll though the window until you find a folder Application Saved State and open it.

6. Scroll through until you find a folder

7. Trash this folder.

8. Restart your Mac.

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Oct 05

iPhone 6S

Once, on a flight between Perth and Melbourne, I was offered – and gladly accepted – an upgrade to first class. I hated every mile.Yes my seat was bigger and made of leather and I had a rather roomy table between me and the guy in the next seat. But relaxing was out of the question because I had been sat next to the alcoholic equivalent of a Bilge pump and so there was always a full glass of scotch inches from my elbow just daring me to knock it over.

Of course I had plenty of leg room as well, until the person in front of me, not satisfied with the volleyball field she already had in front of her, pushed her seat back.

I did try to move away from the human sink and Mrs elasto-legs by leaning against the wall in an attempt to sleep. However the planes design and seating plan had other ideas. By placing my seat half away between the wall – good- and the window -bad – meant that my head was forced to either balance on the sharp edge of the Windows portal or flop into the window and bash against the glass.

It was during this four hour flight that I discovered that upgrades aren’t always a good thing.

Despite this attempt to somehow link my travel stories with my technology decisions I cannot say in all honesty that I have ever regretted an update. This largely due to the fact that I don’t often upgrade as my mantra has always been “keep it till it no longer does what you need it to do.”

However, the other day I upgraded to the iPhone 6S and despite the fact I loved my iPhone 6 I have to say the 6S is now the best phone ever made.

So what is it about this phone that makes it better than its older brother?
Well not its looks for a start! This phone is the spitting image of the former, despite being a flies wing heavier you’d never be able to tell them apart in a line up.

The first inkling that you’ve made the right decision to upgrade will come when you turn it on and start using it.

The definite “oh I see” moment comes when you see just how fast the new A9 chip is when performing day to day tasks. It is difficult, without falling into cliché like “silky smooth “, “responsive” or “blazing” when trying to describe to you how satisfying this phone is to use. The best I do is to say it does everything you normally do but it feels like it’s thinking a microsecond or two ahead of you while you do it.

Instead, let’s talk about the new hardware features.
New hardware isn’t something I normally concern myself because it’s always the software that gets my wriggly in my seat but in the 6S I am forced to make an exception.

The iPhone 6S sports a new kind of screen control called 3D Touch. Why exactly it’s called 3D is something of a mystery to me because unlike my previous experiences with all things 3D I haven’t needed to wear special glasses nor has it once tried to poke my eye out or make me feel sick.
Instead what it does is breathe new life into the familiar icons to offer a pop out menu specific to that icon.

For example, press and hold on the Phone icon and an attractive little menu offers you the chance to quickly call the previous 3-4 people.

Or should you do the same thing to the Contacts icon you can quickly create a new contact or visit the last few recently used contacts.

On release it was only the Apple supplied icons that had this function but developers are already starting to offer this function in free updates so the skies the limit.
The camera seems to be important to a lot of people and it always seems to be the focus of upgrades. More megapixels, better flash, more robust video seem always to be the banner headlines of any new phone launch.
This time around is no different with a better front facing camera for better selfies. (This generations most hated word followed closely by “toats” and the use of “like” instead of a comma) and a 12mp camera for the kind of serious shots used take while on safari.

Although I fancy a selfie that included a Lion would also be judged as “serious” by your next of kin.
In addition to the increased megapixels, the 6S also allows you to take what is now termed as a “live” photo. Now when I was a boy these were called videos but a live photo is a melding of these two disciplines to give you something akin to a newspaper article in Harry Potter.
It’s cute and a novelty but to be honest I cannot make it work. If I ever do figure it out I am guessing it might be fun to see my photos like this on the big screen.

The video camera can now do 4K video, you know, the type that GoPro cameras do.
Now while I am not suggesting strapping the iPhone to your head while you go skiing down the Alps, strong and full video of your next holiday might be good thing, especially when viewed on your large screen telly. Like all things camera it’s not something that would make me upgrade but since it’s there, ok.

I mentioned before about the speed of the phone and the phenomenal difference the A9 chip makes but this monster chip is no more evident the when you use Touch ID.

For those not familiar with Touch ID, this is a technology introduced with the iPhone 5S and it basically turns the home button into a finger print scanner.

In a few simple steps you can map all the fingers of your hands (although why you’d want to unlock your phone with your little finger is perhaps something best discussed with your therapist) allowing you to unlock your phone.

It was, and still is, a great feature that allows access to your phone (and the purchase of apps) without using your password or passcode but in the past it had a lag that often made you wonder if it was going to work at all. Now with the 6S the unlocking your phone is so fast that an observer would be forgiven for thinking you didn’t have a lock at all. It seems like the very second your thumb is on the home button the phone opens.

One feature that definitely falls well into the “don’t try this at home” basket is the unconfirmed suggestion that the new iPhone is actually water proof.
I haven’t tried this myself and don’t recommend you do either but it looks like should disaster of the H2O variety strike you may very well be pleasantly surprised.

So there you go, just a few reasons I was genuinely happy to break the habit of a life time and upgrade when I was still in love with my current iPhone. But no article on the 6S would be complete without mentioning Siri and her new “hey Siri ” feature.
Since iOS 8 it has been possible to activate Siri with the command “hey Siri” but the 6S allows this to be done even when the phone is unplugged.

One night I was sitting on the lounge with my wife and we were bathed in candle light and soaking in the romantic ambience. The phone was sitting on the kitchen bench and I confidently called out “hey Siri, play something romantic”. Dutifully she set about playing “You’ve got nothing I want you’ve got nothing I need by Cold Chisel.

So it seems the new Siri has a sense of humour as well.

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