Jun 09

New operating system coming in Spring – Yosemite.

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Come Spring Apple will be unleashing their latest operating system, Yosemite–and with it will come the usual questions and hand wringing.

What’s going change? How will it affect my Mac and will I have to learn how to use it all over again? Is my Mac ready?

The good news is, at least at this stage, there is very little to fear and a lot to look forward too.

I installed the beta 1 copy on my Mac and while not everything works as it should, and lets face it how could we expect it would, you can already see that the new operating system is going to be a joy to use. Mostly.

This latest refresh has definitely been influenced by the flatter cleaner lines of iOS7 (and iOS8) in an attempt to blur the lines between using your iPhone, your iPad and your Mac. This frankly unexpected move started last year with Mavericks and the introduction of companion applications that mirrored the functionality of their iOS7 brethren. You could create reminders and notes and they would appear on your iPhone or iPad via iCloud. You could look up map locations and send the directions to your phone and sharing your thoughts via Twitter or Facebook was just a click away. Yosemite maintains all of these functions and enhances them further.

In another attempt at “cleaning up” the MacOS the system font has been changed to something thinner and lighter.

BEFORE

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AFTER

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The frames of the windows are also flat and simple but not in anyway austere.

BEFORE

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AFTER

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Notification, that funny icon in the far right of the screen – you know, the one you never use – has been given widgets that allow you to add the calculator, world times plus more. This makes it somewhere you might actually want to go.

BEFORE

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AFTER

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Spotlight has been dragged from appearing as a tiny little dialog box in the top right hand corner to a whopping great panel in the centre of the screen. More info, more purposeful and smarter as well giving you information from your Mac, the web all at once.

BEFOREScreen Shot 2014-06-09 at 6.16.29 pm

AFTER

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 6.16.02 pmWith the exception of some fixes under the bonnet, Mail looks pretty much as it always has but now the with the new Markup feature you can draw and annotate files inside your emails before you send them which takes a number of steps and some guess work out of adding contents to photos.

Possibly one of the best new features is a function called Handoff and this one really does blur the lines between Mac and iOs device without, I am glad to say, turning the MacOS into a giant iPhone, ala Windows 8. Handoff allows you to finish a message or an email, web browsing or document that you have already started on your iPhone or iPad and continue it on your Mac – or visa vera.. Imagine this… You are at work, getting a coffee and you start an email to a colleague. You are halfway though the email when you sit down at your Mac. With Yosemite running, by now you would have noticed a little icon of a mail message appear to the left of your dock. Now all you do is put down the phone, click on the icon and you are instantly plonked into Mail to finish your email where you left off. If Steve where around he would have said that this was magical, and he’d be right.

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And not only that, but if your phone rings in the other room, the call will appear on your Mac screen and you can take the call right there.

 

So with Yosemite running on your Mac it will look familiar, work the same but will have a heap of new features that will make life simpler and a tad more productive. Even fun again. I am happy to report that nearly 100% of my applications, utilities and interface enhancements worked just fine under this new order. Even my printer which has got to be close to 150 years old was happy to work.

Generally if you are running 10.8 or 10.9 now you should have nothing to worry about and the latest info seems to suggest that it will run on a iMac built in 2007.

But I am afraid there is one elephant in the room and I am sad to say it is a particularly ugly elephant. I am, of course, referring to the new icons.

In a word, they are appalling.

7tpV5xe

As you can see the dock is now 2D and all the icons have that flat, textureless look. But none of that bothers me. What bothers me are the dimensions of the icons, specifically Mail, Contacts and Calendar. They look deformed and unbalanced but worst of all they look like I designed them. In the meantime I have added my own icons and in my humble opinion they look a lot better and right at home. I hope Apple read this :-)

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Failing this I am holding out hope that these are simply place holders. The designers are saying to us “don’t worry, they are serving a purpose now but we’ll fix them before the curtain goes up.”

But I thought that about some of the icons that came out for iOS7 and look how that turned out!

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/new-operating-system-coming-in-spring-yosemite/

Jun 08

Protect your iCloud account with two-step verification

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UPDATE: It has been confirmed that the Russian hackers responsible for this attack have been arrested. It has also been confirmed that iCloud had not been hacked but rather the people affected were victims of Phishing or other such scams and had given their details away.

There has been a fair amount of chatter in the press lately about iCloud accounts getting hacked.

The first thing to realise about this attack is that it appears not to be widespread. Apple have millions of credit card accounts on file via their iTunes empire and these reports are limited to a few dozen users. It could very well be that their accounts had lousy passwords in the first place and we’re just ripe to be hacked.

The affected accounts were reportedly locking iPhones and iPads and then demanding ransom to unlock them. If you have a strong password the likelihood of being attacked appears to be very small.

Nevertheless this is as good a time as any to remind you of the article posted some time ago about setting up two step verification on your iTunes/ iCloud account. Putting this into place means that if an attempt is made to change your password then a verification SMS is sent to your nominated device to ensure that this is what you want to do.

Have a look at the article here and I urge you to do this as soon as possible.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/protect-your-icloud-account-with-two-step-verfication/

Jun 08

A RAM upgrade is the best thing you can do

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Overtime a computer seems to slow down, and sometimes this can happen not because it has a fault of any kind, but rather because your demands on the Mac have increased.

An upgrade of the OS, a new application or a new hobby that sees you using iPhoto more and more will all slow the Mac down.

So what is to be done? A new Mac? Ditch the photography hobby and go back to jigsaws?

A ram upgrade is still the single best – and cheapest – performance upgrade you can make to your Mac.

But before you charge ahead and order that ram, keep in mind that every Mac has a maximum amount of ram that can be installed.

If you send your Mac info to us  and we will tell you what ram upgrade is best for you and its price, including installation.

Here is how to get that info….

1. Click on the Apple menu

2. Click on About this Mac

3. Click on More info

4. Click on System Info

5. Copy the hardware information into an email and send it to this address.

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/a-ram-upgrade-is-the-best-thing-you-can-do/

May 02

Apple stores – posed the same question.

 

About 18 months ago I was approached by a client (as I often am I guess) and she posed a question that made me wonder if Canberra was getting the best Apple support possible.

She rang me in a panic because she had 3000 photos on her iPad (and nowhere else) and she had just been told by the Apple store in Italy that the only way to get those photos off her iPad was to sync with iTunes. Fine advise but when she pointed out that iTunes was, for some reason, wanting to erase her iPad and she’d lose them all, they were stumped.

They basically told her to brace herself and start again.

She was frantic and contacted the store in Canberra and was told the same thing. Nothing can be done.

This is where I came in and instantly I was confused. I knew of a method, a simple method that I assumed everyone knew, but she had been told by two Apple stores that it wasn’t possible.

Was I wrong? Was I delusional? Had I missed an iOS update that rendered my solution useless? Was I – heaven help me – obsolete or, as Monty Python might say, an ex-technician?

Of course I hid all of this doubt and the ever increasing waves of self loathing and agreed to look into the case.

Needless to say, my solution worked just as I expected it would and in the face of the misinformation the client had received I looked like a miracle worker.

A happy ending for sure but it made me wonder why the Apple Store had steered her in the wrong direction. On top of this I had been hearing stories of very bad customer service from the Apple Store here in Canberra and my friend in the UK had been telling  similar stories. In fact he said that when he was in an Apple store he was “treated like dirt” because his mac was an old one.

I have to say I was sceptical, all I had ever heard  about the Apple store was their attention to customer service – an attention that frankly boarded on the creepy and made you feel as though you had just wandered into a cult.

So, armed with these two questions I decided to walk into all the Apple stores and access their customer service for myself. I decided to pass myself off as someone who had just discovered how to power my mac on. Also I  would pose them the same question; “I have an iPad that is threatening to wipe itself clean and I had thousands of photos on it – help”

My quest would see me travel to Newcastle in England, London, and Paris.

My first stop was in the Apple Store at Eldon Square in Newcastle Upon Tyne. This is my home town so I had no trouble slipping back into a thick Geordie accent and wondering into the store looking like I had just entered the promised land.

Most Apple Stores look great but this one stands out, not because it is anything special but because Eldon Square has all the appeal of – as Sir Les Patterson once said –  a dropped pie.

I walked in and was immediately greeted by no one. I stood there some more, still nothing. Eventually I took matters into my own hands and walked over to a young girl holding a clipboard and sporting a headset. I wouldn’t be so bold as to describe the look on her face as friendly but she certainly wasn’t hostile…. I guess for arguments sake lets say she was indifferent.

I explained my problem - I have an iPad that is threatening to wipe itself clean and I have thousands of photos on it and I need help – and a puzzled look ran across her previously indifferent looking face. After a moments thought she told me not to worry as all my images should be in iCloud and so if the iPad was wiped I would get them all back again. I imitated surprise and gratitude and walked out, seemingly relieved and saved. I was neither.

There was no proof that I had even turned on iCloud or that I had access to a network. For all she knew – or cared it seemed – when I did wipe my iPad there would be nothing in the cloud and everything would be lost.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the service I received was terrible but the technical advise was shallow and misguided. Not a good start.

eldon

 

Apple often find some truly awesome buildings to house their flagships but few, I think, can match the store at the Louvre in Paris. Situated in the huge shopping complex that surrounds the Louvre, the Apple Store faces the inverted pyramid that, according to Dan Brown at least – is the resting place of the Holy Grail.

Armed with my Eldon Square experience I ventured into the small Apple Store bracing myself for the language barrier that was undoubtedly heading my way.

As soon as I stepped through the door a blue t-shirt pounced on me. I began with “Bonjour” (one of four French words I know) followed very quickly with “Parlez-vous anglais” (the rest of the words I know)

Needless to say he spoke better English than I do so I had no trouble asking him the same question.

He told me it was no problem at all and guided me toward a waiting Macbook. At this point I was expecting him to tell me what I already knew, that there was this little application…..and so on.

But no. Instead he directed me to the application Image Capture, the small utility that comes installed on every Mac. The small utility that can talk to scanners and camera and iPhones, the application written by Apple!!!

Of course! I felt so stupid! How could I have missed that?

He rightly explained that if I connect my iPad iTunes will launch but that I should quit it straight away. Then, open Image Capture and I will see all my photos. From there I can download them to the desktop and then, if I felt brave, reopen iTunes and see what happens. But the main thing was, my pictures would be safe.

I thanked him and felt, genuinely saved and relieved.

 

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This Apple store had answered the question correctly and the service I received was fast, friendly and efficient. But it left me wondering why, if Apple had an application that solves the problem, had my client been told in two countries that she was doomed?

My final destination was London and the store in Regent street.

Like most of London this store was packed and full of activity and noise. It wasn’t surprising, therefore, that I wandered around for a little while before someone approached me. This time though, I had a secret weapon in the form of my friend who had been treated so badly in the past. While I shuffled through the store waiting for someone to approach me, I had my friend pose a real question peppered with genuine need.

The blue shirt that came to my rescue gave me the same advice as his French colleague so at last I was getting a consistent story.

I am also happy to report that my friend was very pleased with the service and advice he received and the experienced help to turn him around.

London

So what did any of this prove?

Well for me it proved that the Apple Store, while it is slick and impressive, is not the final word in support. It is of course a decent place to shop and the experience is nearly always a good one, but when it comes to support I think there is no substitute for experience and you can find that in many places.

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/apple-stores-posed-the-same-question/

Mar 11

Don’t reset your modem

Paperclip-01_(xndr)If the Internet was reliable and some large ISPs took more responsibility for the service they provide I would be out of a job.
The number one issue I deal with is email and web browsing and 90% of the time it’s the ISP that needs to fix something at their end.
Unfortunately when clients do call the ISP they are often called upon to reset the modem and this shouldn’t be done.

It’s a bit like removing someone’s brain because they have a headache.

When they (the ISP) refer to resetting the modem they often mean restarting which is a simple case of unplugging or turning it off for a few seconds (30 usually) but sometimes they direct the client to stick a pin or a paper clip into the reset hole at the back of the modem.

Resetting the modem (sticking a pin in the little hole at the back) sets the modem back to factory and as a result all your settings are lost. So unless you are familiar with setting up modems I would suggest you avoid this at all costs.

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/dont-reset-your-modem/

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