Apr 17

Apple Watch 1 year on

Apple watch silver band

Recently the Apple Watch celebrated its 1st birthday so I thought this was as good a time as any to see if it was still relevant. Was it a good purchase? Is it in a draw somewhere? Am I counting the bids it is getting on my eBay page?

In theory the Apple Watch can be used for a lot of different tasks. There are, after all, over 100,000 apps designed for it. Right out of the box it can direct you using Maps (something the visually impaired love by the way) or it can send and receive texts, emails and phone calls. Oh, and it can tell the time as well.

I have been using it for all of these things but mostly I have used it to monitor my fitness and record my calorie intake. To that end I have lost well over 10 Kilos and, more excitingly, so have other people. I personally have witnessed one person using the Apple Watch to help him lose over 20 Kilos and counting and I have seen similar results from other people close to me. In my opinion, this alone, makes it a worthwhile purchase.

But lets get down to business. What else do I actually use the watch for and what did I have to do to get there?

Calorie counting

I have used a couple of apps to do this. I started with myFitnessPal on the iPhone and was hoping the Apple Watch feature would help add food on the go. Sadly this wasn’t to be the case as myFitnessPal elected to only show how many calories I had left for that day so really it was useless.

Lately I have settled on MyPlate that not only reflects my exercise in its calculations but also allows me to add food on the go. Lets say I buy a sandwich for lunch. All I do is tap on the MyPlate icon on the watch and say “Ham and Cheese sandwich” and it will be added to my daily intake.

adding food to apple watch

Music and Podcasts

When I am exercising I like listening to talking books. To do this I needed to purchase wireless Bluetooth headphones and pair them to the Watch. Second, I selected a book from my iTunes and passed it through a very useful little application called Tune4Mac. Now since the Apple Watch has a built in ability to play music you might ask why I needed to use this mysterious little application, and this is a good question.

Firstly, Audiobooks are encoded and won’t, under normal circumstances, play on the Watch – Tunes4Mac fixes that. Second, the audio player controls are limited to Start, Stop, Forward and Back and while this might be OK for music files that are only 3 minutes long it absolutely sucks when a book can be 12 hours in length. Listen to the first hour of “War and Peace” while on your walk and you’ll be doomed to repeat the process the next day because there is no way to scrub through the file. Tunes4Mac allows me to break up the 12 hour long file into 5,10, or 30 minutes (the average length of my walks) so management is easier.

Podcasts are also served via the app called Overcast. This allows me to sync Podcasts to the watch and listen via my headphones.

listening to a podcast on an apple watch

Exercise

I covered this last time I wrote about the watch so I won’t reinvent the wheel. Needless to say… set your goal and be obsessive about filling those rings. Thats how it worked for me and for the success stories I mentioned earlier.

Bands

Apple have a huge range of bands meaning that you can change the look of your watch everyday if you like.

Some have matching iPhone covers and watch bands that look rather natty.

While these bands are undoubtedly good quality and made from the finest materials they are pricy. My favourite, watch band, the black link bracelet retails for $849.00. However there are other bands, some practically identical, for as little as $50 from eBay. The look is there but obviously not the quality. The black band I bought looks great but scratches easily while the Apple version, I assume, could take a bullet.

Apple watch band eBay

Parking

I have a very useful little app  – ParkOMater – that I tap when I park somewhere. I tell it how long I have before I am in trouble and it will buzz me when my time is coming to a an end. Not only that, but it will lead my back to the car if I’ve forgotten where I parked.

parking app on watch

Home automation

Ok, this one is a little nerdy but it is just too cool to leave out. As I have a dozen or so Wemo devices (timers that connect to my wireless network allowing me to turn on lights and other appliances from the iPhone) dotted around the house, I can use the app WeTap! to turn them on and off using the watch. It sounds ridiculous but it is handier than you might imagine.

controlling wemo with apple watch

Apple TV

I can control my Apple TV using the Apple supplied Remote app. Not much more to say than that but it comes in handy when I am reclined on the couch to such an extent that I cannot reach the remote on the table.

Passwords

1Password – frequent readers will know all about this application and my obsession with it – allows me store my most frequent passwords, pin codes, ect on the watch. Should I be standing at the check out and forget my pin number I can find it very quickly rather than fishing out my phone.

Uber

The unambiguously titled, Uber app, allows me to order a ride with a simple tap. Again very convenient but rather self explanatory.

Uber apple watch

Weather

This built in feature, I must confess, wasn’t something I thought I’d use as much as I do. The Weather sits in the top left hand corner of my customised watch face and tapping on it gives me temperatures, the percentage chance of rain and forecast for every hour of the day.

IMG_6483IMG_6484

When I first decided to get an Apple Watch I was won over by the fitness app and, for a while, was more than happy to go no further. But increasingly, as I have been faced with one need or the other, I have looked to see if the watch can help me with that challenge and the results speak for themselves, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. I haven’t mentioned the app that allows to accurately measure the time I spend on a job and send an automatic invoice. Or the app that allows me to order pizza or the app that monitors my yoga or pushup routine. There are over 100,000 ways the watch can be useful and while I have only found a dozen or so, you might find more.

UPDATE: It has just been announced that the Apple Watch 2 will be unveiled at the World Wide Developers conference in June. 

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/apple-watch-1-year-on/

Apr 17

iPhone SE is better than you might think.

A kitten seeing its reflection

When the iPhone 6 was released in 2014 users of the Apple flagship device drew a collective sigh of relief and when the 6 Plus was released iPad users wondered what the hell was going on. However, regardless of the opinions and press attention –  negative or otherwise – each device attracted it was generally decided that Apple had resigned the 4 inch form factor to history.

Well, as it turns out that conclusion was, in a word, counterfactual.

Thanks mum for the new Thesaurus, it is coming in very handy.

It seems that while some were running around trying to bend the iPhone in half and declare it a dud millions more were lining up for days on end just so they could be one of the first to have one. However there were those that missed the smaller iPhone and have since held onto their iPhone 4 or 5 for dear life.

I must confess I wasn’t one of those that missed the small iPhone and I still don’t. To me, the future is the iPhone 6S sized phone so I was a little shocked to read that Apple were considering a jump back into the form factor that only two years ago seemed so 2013. I sat, at 4am, in disbelief when I saw that the new iPhone was, at least on the surface, just an iPhone 5S renamed the iPhone SE. What were they thinking? Had they found a crate load of iPhone 5S shells hidden in a cupboard that needed using? Where there really that many people out there that still wanted the smaller phone?

Who on earth would want one of these?

Well, as it turns out, my wife did.

iPhone 5se, iPhone 6 and 6 plus

It seems that she was always one of these eye swivelling loonies that didn’t like the size of the new iPhone 6 and was holding onto her 4S like it was a life raft and would be sailing on it still had she not been forced to upgrade in order to run her Apple Watch.

So, as soon as stocks would allow us (our local Telstra store and Apple sold out twice) we grabbed one and the minute we had it home the wife – looking a lot like Gollum with his ring it must be said – spirited it and herself to the study to set it up.

When I finally managed to get my hands on it I was shocked by how fast and light it seemed. As it turns out Apple hadn’t simply renamed a bunch of old shells they had found behind the sofa but rather crammed it with all the components of an iPhone 6 into the iPhone 5 form factor. The A9 chip and extra ram along with the 12 Megapixel camera mean that lovers of the iPhone 5 could enjoy the features we iPhone 6 users had come to know and love, with the notable exception of force touch.

There is no doubt it is a wonderful little phone and if you don’t want an iPhone 6 then it would be a better proposition than the identity theft box otherwise known as, an Android phone.

I am still a little confused though. I don’t know why Apple didn’t make a small version of the iPhone 6 in its current form factor? Could this mean the iPhone 7 will look more like the iPhone SE? I cannot figure out why they didn’t give the new phone force touch but most of all I cannot begin to understand what possessed them to call it the iPhone SE? How does that fit in to their current naming conventions. Can you see Apple releasing the iPhone SES next year?

No, me neither.

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/iphone-se-is-better-than-you-might-think/

Apr 12

iPhones Nightshift Mode

bright_light2Some people, it seems, can sleep through anything.

My wife for example can sleep next to a bull dozer being dismantled by robots – or at least I think that is how she describes my breathing at night.

But it seems that bright – cold –  light  has rather a debilitating affect on our brain waves and therefore our sleep. This is particularly true of people who have a habit of using their iPhones for iPads in bed or late at night. Whether it is catching up on Facebook, sending that insulting email to your local MP or reading a book on your iPad, the white bright light from the screen plays havoc with levels of melatonin in the body and, effectively, wakes you up.

Not only that, but some studies have shown that blue light before bed has been linked to all kinds of maladies including cancer and diabetes.

To combat this assault on the body Apple introduced Night Shift to its latest iOS update; 9.3.1 and it couldn’t be easier to set up.

  1. Tap on Settings
  2. Tap on Display & Brightness
  3. Tap on Night Shift
  4. Tap on Scheduled and choose the times you wish it to be on (I recommend between 10pm and 7am)
  5. Then choose the warmth of the light using the slider at the bottom of the page.

At 10pm the screen on your device will slowly turn a warmer shade of light and you’ll find that using the phone at night is no longer harsh on your eyes and in the morning your phone will look normal again.

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/iphones-nightshift-mode/

Feb 21

Moving your media to a new drive

Miniature house in toy wagon

I am sure you already know – or perhaps I only imagine that you do – but I am not a fan of spreading data around between different drives. My rule is, everything on one drive and backed up to another. It’s simple that way, something you’ll be glad of when a restore or rebuild is required.

However there are times when even the best will in the world will not permit you to put a 4TB hard disk in your iMac. So, just in case you are faced with this kind of agonising decision, here is my guide for moving your iTunes and/or Photo’s libraries to another disk.

I chose these because they are nearly always the culprits.

Photos (this also works with iPhoto by the way)

  • Plug in your external hard disk
  • Locate your Photos library (Macintosh HD/Users/(your name)/Pictures
  • Drag your Photos database from one disk to the other. (If its a large one, put on the kettle or crack open a beer)

going your photos library

  • Once copied, hold down the Option key on your keyboard and launch Photos
  • When prompted, click on Other Library and locate the library on the external disk.

Choosing a new photos library

  • When you are happy that all is well, quit Photos and trash the library file in your Pictures folder.

 

iTunes 

  • Plug in your external hard disk
  • Locate your iTunes library (Macintosh HD/Users/(your name)/Music
  • Drag your iTunes Library from one disk to the other. (If its a large one, reboil the kettle or crack open another beer)

Moving your iTunes library

  • Once copied, hold down the Option key on your keyboard and launch iTunes

Choosing a new library

  • When prompted, click on Choose Library and locate the library on the external disk.
  • When you are happy that all is well, quit iTunes and trash the library file in your Music folder.

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/moving-your-media-to-a-new-drive/

Feb 21

Is your mac getting too old to repair

old mac

 

Generally an old iMac isn’t worth repairing.

If your hard disk goes that is OK because hard disks and SSD’s are freely available from third party dealers but other big ticket items like video cards, power supplies and mainboards all come from Mr Apple. The issue there, even if you decide that $300 wasn’t too much to get your – up till now – faultless iMac back to physical perfection, is that these parts are no longer available.

Recently Apple decided to drape the black cloth over a number of their products effectively condemning them to death. Among those being ushered into God’s waiting room are:

Mac notebooks

iBook G4 (12-inch, Mid 2005)
iBook G4 (14-inch, Mid 2005)
MacBook (13-inch, Late 2006)
MacBook (13-inch, Mid 2007)
MacBook (13-inch, Late 2007)
MacBook (13-inch, Early 2008)
MacBook Pro [original]
MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2.4/2.2GHz)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, Core 2 Duo)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2008)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, Core 2 Duo)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, 2.4GHz)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2008)
PowerBook G4 (12-inch, 1.5Ghz)
PowerBook G4 (15-inch, Double-Layer SD)
PowerBook G4 (17-inch, Double-Layer SD)

Mac desktops

eMac (2005)
iMac G5 (17-inch, iSight)
iMac (17-inch, Early 2006)
iMac (20-inch, Early 2006)
iMac (17-inch, Mid 2006 )
iMac (17-inch, Late 2006)
iMac (20-inch, Late 2006)
iMac (20-inch, Mid 2007)
iMac (24-inch)
iMac (24-inch, Mid 2007)
iMac G5 (20-inch, iSight)
Mac mini (Late 2005)
Mac mini (Early 2006)
Mac mini (Late 2006)
Mac Pro
Power Mac G5 (Early 2005)
Power Mac G5 (Late 2005)
Xserve (Late 2006)

Peripherals

AirPort Express Base Station
AirPort Extreme 802.11n (1st Gen)
Airport Extreme Base Station [original]
Apple Cinema Display (20-inch DVI, Late 2005)
Apple Cinema Display (23-inch DVI, Late 2005)
Apple Cinema Display (23-inch, DVI, Early 2007)
Apple Cinema Display (30-inch DVI)
Apple Cinema Display (30-inch DVI, Late 2005)
iSight
Time Capsule 802.11n (1st generation)

So what? I am sure you are already muttering to the screen.

Well the ‘what’, in this case is, are you going to do about the fact that you are sitting on the technological equivalent of a full stop?

Of course you can do nothing and wait for it to die or you could start looking to upgrade now and sell on your old Mac (believe me someone will buy it) to get at least a little something for it. Another advantage of this pre-emptive strike is that you have the time to address any software issues that might arise when moving to a new system. You will have time to sort out the printer and scanner issues that nearly always crop up and you can migrate your data calmly and over a cup of tea rather than screaming non-stop for three hours while you wonder if you’ll ever see your data again.

Food for thought.

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/is-your-mac-getting-too-old-to-repair/

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