Feb 06

Faulty adapters

electric shockI am sure you don’t need to hear it from me. For one reason or another I am definitely a “Johnny come lately” when it comes to this news, but just in case you haven’t heard, just in case you spurn all other media (as well you might) here it is.

Apple have announced that a good number of the power adapters that shipped with MacBooks, iPads, iPhones and iPods are faulty. It is a world wide recall and something of an over reaction you might think when only twelve out of the millions shipped have reported any mischief but as electricity is involved I suppose it’s fair enough.

The first step is, do your adapters qualify? If they look like this…

Apple power adapter

… there is a very good chance they do.

Then you need to remove the head and look for numbers (or blank) and if so you need to replace.

If you see “EUR” then you are safe.

Safe or affected adapters

The second step is, don’t panic. The particular nature of this fault is very obvious in so much as when you unplug it the adapter falls apart, exposing the wires. Should this happen don’t touch until the power has been turned off at the mains. The best advice is, until you set out to return them, don’t unplug anything.

The next step is to call either Mac1 or Apple to see if they have plenty of stock. Naturally in the first week since the news broke hundreds and hundreds of people have been flowing through the doors to get their replacements so there is a good chance stocks will be limited.

I intend to wait a few weeks before replacing mine.

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/faulty-adapters/

Dec 15

Getting to grips with Notifications

bear waving

Notifications is a feature that is often ignored or hated but hardly ever embraced and this is a shame because if used correctly it can be a real time saver.

This feature  was a stable on the iPhone as far back as iOS5 but didn’t make it to the Mac OS until 10.8 but hasn’t really filled out until the release of Yosemite.

Clicking on the Apple menu and choosing System Preferences and then Notifications will give you all the tools you need to setup, modify or even shut down Notifications all together if I cannot convince you they are the best thing since the four-slices-at-a-time toaster.

When you open Notifications Settings you’ll notice that all the applications capable of this service are listed down the left hand side.

Notification settings in macos

 

Right at the top is Do Not Disturb and this is particularly useful if you’d like to limit when these notifications come in. If you are like me you might set it to turn on automatically been 6pm and 7pm and/or not to activate when the unit is asleep.

Scrolling down the list and clicking on the applications ready and waiting to strut their stuff, you notice that each item falls roughly into two categories.

a) How the notification is presented and;

b) What extra information or service might be on offer depending on the application.

To illustrate lets click on Calendar.

notification settings for calendar

Here you can choose the alert style and whether or not it shows on a lock screen, a badge ect.

Personally I change the alert style depending on what the application it is. In the case of Calendar I choose Alert rather than Banner because the Alert allows me to respond to the Notification with a Snooze or Reply. This would also be the case with Messages or Emails.

After all, if I receive a Notification while I am writing something in Word I don’t want to stop, open email and reply… not when the bulk of the message can be ready and I can reply inside the Notification.

notification from email

On the other hand, something like Firefox only needs acknowledgement so it can be a straight banner.

notification from firefox

Some applications, like 1Password, need nothing and in fact I don’t want to know what they are doing so long as they get on with it. A bit like my office assistant.

notification from 1password

Notifications is a much maligned service but well worth a second look because with a little setting up it can save you a lot of mousing around.

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/getting-to-grips-with-notifications/

Dec 15

New Apple Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse

batteries not included

The new Apple keyboard and mouse are here and although – at first glance – they look almost identical to the old ones… nothing could be further from the truth.

This could be the shortest review in history because it should just read;

“If you already own an Apple wireless keyboard and mouse then upgrade  – today.”

But, in the spirit of completeness let me expand just a tad on that sentiment.

The Keyboard

If my wife were to storm into the room and bark out orders (which she does often) then she would not immediately notice I had a new keyboard. It is still white and it is still small but the angle is more comfortable, the construction a little more robust and the keys feel more responsive. They also make a very satisfying sound when you type… sorry but I cannot explain it any better than that.

magic keyboard 2

However the best feature is something it shares with the new mouse; they are both wireless without the need to always replace batteries.

The keyboard comes with a Lightning cable that plugs in and recharges the battery in about 2 hours and Apple claim that under normal circumstances this charge will last a month or so.

This is awesome news for us keyboard jockeys who till now have had to keep a constant (and costly) supply of batteries in the drawer (you know, the ones that keep getting stolen to give new life to the TV remote!)

The Mouse

While my wife was barking out orders she would have had even less chance of noticing I had a new mouse because it is identical to the old one. However, if she picked it up to help her further illustrate her point on the top of my head, she might notice that this mouse feels sturdier and more precise in its construction.

magic mouse 2 with old one next to it

This is due mainly to the fact that there is no longer a removable panel to insert those pricy batteries. The mouse, like its keyboard stable mate, has a built in rechargeable battery. The battery recharges with the same Lightning cable and takes 2 hours to charge and will keep going for a month or so.

There has been a lot of press about the fact that, unlike the keyboard, the mouse cannot be used while it is being charged because the Lightning port is under the mouse meaning that it needs to be on its side while charging.

magic mouse 2 charging

Right about now you must be thinking “what the…” but not all is as the haters would have you believe.

Firstly the software will tell you, well in advance, that the battery is running low. This will give you ample time to finish what you are doing for that day and plug the mouse in overnight. If you take notice of the warnings you need never be inconvenienced .

This by the way, is not unlike any other rechargeable mouse that uses a docking station to recharge itself.

Secondly, if you are caught off guard it is worth remembering that a 120 second charge will give you 9 hours of usage so in essence the fact that the mouse is unusable while charging is a non-event.

They feel better, they look better and you won’t be filling the local tip with dead batteries. To my mind that is a winning combination all round and a good enough reason to upgrade.

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/new-apple-magic-keyboard-and-magic-mouse/

Dec 13

A new way to deal with scams

Rat-on-Bin-bag-640x461I know it’s hard to believe, but  there are scum buckets out there whose single purpose in life is to rip you off.

They get up in the morning and eat breakfast dreaming up new ways to make your life a misery.

A while back I detailed some rules to follow that were designed to deal with scam artists and while I feel they still apply, However, after talking it over with a few people I think I have an even better way.

Listed below is a flow chart that, if followed, will surely stop these hat wearing hemeriods in their tracks.

Chart for dealing with scams

 

I recommend printing the chart and keeping it next to your Mac.

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/a-new-way-to-deal-with-scams/

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

contents

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”

IMG_5892

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

IMG_5893

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.

Siri

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.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/apple-tv-4th-gen-the-saviour-of-tv/

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