Aug 21

Google Earth Updater

Update Helper


It’s very likely that in the last few days you have seen the above dialog appear on your screen.

You didn’t ask for this update and all of a sudden you are being asked to enter your password!

You have every right to be suspicious but rest assured all the chatter on the net appears to suggest this is 100% legit. Creepy and ill-managed, but legit.

So, what to do?

Well, if you ignore it it will just keep coming back so for now I would install the update and curse google for being google.

On the other hand, if you really really really don’t want to apply the update you can remove the software and apply a few terminal commands (yes, it is that insidious) and the problem will go away.

On the other hand, book a health check and we can remove it for you at the sometime.


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Aug 21

How and why to avoid Clickbait


Click here to win a million dollars

Hollywood legend dies suddenly

Click here to claim your free iPhone

Loose 10KG by following this simple trick

These are crude examples of Clickbait and, as the name suggests, they are designed to make you click on them and what happens after that is anyones guess.


Some are designed to generate traffic, some are designed to make you open the story only to find the headline is nothing like the content. For example TRUMP QUITS  is actually a story about him quitting sugar.

But make no mistake, sometimes these articles can ruin your browser and flood your Mac with unwanted spam.


When the death of David Bowie was announced the first thing I did was NOT click on the article that reported it, but rather go straight to google or a trusted News website. Sure enough this shocking story was true.

Today, by way of contrast, whilst surfing a general interest website I saw a very dodgy looking article, accompanied by a photo of John Travolta, that simply said HOLLYWOOD SHOCKED BY THE DEATH OF A LEGEND. Clicking on this link saw my browser instantly flooded with offers of free this and free that and no doubt if I had clicked on any of these my browser would have been the equivalent of a college notice board in no time at all.


Clicking on these kinds of articles is a bit like stopping to chat to the guy who is wandering the streets with the notice board that reads THE END OF THE WORLD IS NIGH. Sure, it might be true in which case you should walk straight past him and fire up the telly when you get home. What you DON’T do is engage him and give him your email address. Do that and before you know it you’ll be getting a flood of emails on how to build your own bomb shelter and making muffins from dead rats.

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Jul 13

Don’t be alarmed by this weird message

iPhone warning

It only takes your daughter to spontaneously clean her room or a politician to put the people’s needs and wants ahead of those lining his/her pockets to realise that you haven’t seen everything.

I had one such experience the other day when a dialog box appeared on my iPhone that simply read:

Passcode Requirement: You must change your iPhone unlock passcode within 60 minutes.

Needless to say I was a little concerned and my first reaction was to force the iPhone to reboot but then it occurred to me that this might be the very trap this suspicious message was trying to make me walk into.

What to do? What was it?

Well, it turns out the thing to do was nothing and for what it actually is… no one really knows. The only thing they DO know is that it is a bug that has been making the rounds from one version of iOS to the other since 2004.

The good news is the message is harmless and you can tap on the Later button with gay abandon.

One blogger theorised that it might be a good idea to clear the Safari cache just in case and, with no other lead to follow, I did just that.

  1. Tap on Settings.
  2. Scroll down and tap on Safari.
  3. Scroll all the way to the bottom and tap on Advanced.
  4. Tap on Website Data
  5. Scroll to the bottom and tap on Remove All Website Data.


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Jul 10

Sign forms without printing them first



In days of yore your bank – or some such institution – would mail forms for you to sign and have you mail them back. These days they email the forms that they expect you to print out, fill in by hand, sign, scan back into your computer and then email back to them. A low cost option for them and a monumental pain in the rear for you. And this is especially true if scanning is something you don’t do very often and/or fills you with dread.

But there is a solution that doesn’t require printers or scanners and can make life very breezy for those of us that are required  to fill in forms from time to time.

The first thing you need to do is commit your signature to the mac and you only need to do this once.

  1. Grab a piece of clean A4 paper and sign your name in the usual way using a thick black marker, something akin to a Sparpie.
  2. Then,  open any PDF file that may be lurking on on your Mac and this should launch Preview. That Swiss Army application that no one talks about.
  3. In the top most part of the window you’ll find a button named Mark Up and clicking on this reveals a whole host of other icons that allow you to add all kinds of features to this or any other file opened in Preview. The one we are interested in right at the moment is the Signature icon.
  4. Click on it and you’ll you be invited to create a signature. If you are lucky enough to have a trackpad you can sign your name on the trackpad using your finger like a pencil and it will appear right on screen.Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 9.40.52 PM
  5. For those of us that are old school, choosing the Camera option will activate your camera and it is now that the signature you committed to the A4 sheet of paper in step 1 comes to fruition .Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 9.40.37 PM
  6. Hold up your paper as suggested and like magic your signature is captured for further use.Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 9.41.14 PM

Now, to the actual filling in and signing of the form.

In most cases forms sent from banks and the like are ready to fill in on screen. (and really if they don’t send you a form correctly formatted to allow on screen completion you need to question their sanity)

  1. Open your form of choice and click in the field provided and you should see the box allowing you to type in the information required.
  2. As you can see you can click in the relevant field and fill in the details and even click on the boxes to indicate “YES” you’d like the Bridal suite and “NO” you don’t want to be woken up at 4am to make the most of your free gym membership.Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 9.55.32 PM
  3. When it comes time to actually sign the form  – that task that usually dooms you print out and rescan – can now be done by clicking on our old friend the Markup button and choosing the signature you set up earlier.Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 9.41.36 PM
  4. Once it appears on screen, simply drag the signature to the appropriate location and you are done.Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 9.56.07 PM
  5. From here you can save the file and email it as an atahcment or, using the Share button, email the form immediately from within Preview.Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 10.04.05 PM

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Jul 08

Off Site Backup

spilt milk

If you have been visiting this website for any length of time you will have probably gathered I have something of a bee in my bonnet about backup.

Backup is probably the single most important thing you can do for your Mac and yet there are those that still don’t do it.

Or do it but do it wrong.

Or do it but never check it.

Or, and this isn’t necessarily a problem but its worth thinking about, don’t have an off site backup.

You have no backup

This is a bit like leaving your keys in the ignition overnight or, to hold onto the car metaphor a little more, driving without a seatbelt. With your eyes closed. At a 100 Kmh. In reverse.

You can get a decent backup by simply purchasing an external hard disk and plugging it into the back of your Mac.

External hard disk

Time Machine (the built in backup software) will take over from there. Forever more the software will quietly backup every file on your Mac in the background every hour. You can take this a step further – and this is especially important if you have more than one Mac in the house – by using a Time Capsule instead of individual hard disks. This Apple device does the same job as the hard disks except it does it over a network to multiple computers at the same time.

Time Capsule

You are doing it but doing it wrong

This usually happens when people mistakenly believe that simply by copying something to an external hard disk or USB key means it is backed up and safe. Often the only copy of these precious files is on THAT ext hard disk and so if it fails those files are lost. The key to backup is that the same file(s) are in more than one place. (aka, 2 disks or more). My rule of thumb is store everything on your internal hard disk (and if that means a new larger hard disk, then so be it) and backup to one or more external drive. This means your data isn’t fragmented and when disaster strikes restoring will be easier.

Backups are never checked

Always check the status of your backups… never assume that because you haven’t seen an error message the backups are OK. In the case of Time Machine, clicking on the Time Machine icon in the menu bar will give you the date and time of the last backup. Other software will have log files too check.

Checking Time Machine

Off site backup

Having a backup is, I think we can all agree now, a wonderful thing. But it must be said that often the backup is right next to your mac and it can suffer the same fate as your Mac; namely theft or natural disaster. A great solution is an offsite backup and these come in two main flavours. An extra external hard disk that you back up to and store in a safe place or cloud based solutions.

My favourite cloud based solution is BackBlaze. This $50 a year, unlimited storage, solution acts just like Time Machine except it puts all your files in a  secure location in the cloud. In fact it goes hand in hand with Time Machine for the ultimate in set and forget backup. It has been a round for a decade or more and is perfectly safe. One issue for this, and another cloud based offering, is your ISP. These backups send gigabytes of information to the cloud and if your internet is not generous you might run into trouble. Before using something like this it is always a good idea to consult your ISP about how much data you are allowed to download per month. 1000GB or Unlimited is advised.

If the “external hard disk kept in the glove box” is more your liking then I couldn’t recommend any back up software more highly than Carbon Copy Cloner.

Carbon copy clonerBuy this inexpensive application and set it up with an external hard disk and you’ll be sorted.

Provided of course you don’t forget to run the program every week and actually put it in a safe place.

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