Feb 14

Flash in Safari



Flash has never been good.
 Almost from Day one hackers around the world discovered it was harder to open a packet of salt and vinegar chips than it was to compromise the Flash Plug in.
Not that they needed to compromise it very much because its own code was rubbish leading Steve Jobs to famously refuse to allow it on his iPhone OS.

Too slow, too inefficient and too insecure was basically what he said.

For this reason I have removed it from my Mac and major industries like YouTube and Microsoft have followed suit. Or was is vise versa?

Anyway, most agree it is something to avoid. Sadly though there are still major news and web outlets that still use it so people continue to download and install Flash on their macs to this day.
Lately however this has become a little harder because Safari – in a bid to save you from yourself – has implemented a feature that automatically turns off Flash (and Java) even after you have downloaded and installed it.
The net result is 30-40 flash installers in your Downloads folder and a great deal of hair pulling and hand wringing.

Fortunately it is an easy thing to remedy.

After you’ve updated Flash (and your favourite website still insists that it is not installed)…

1. Open Safari.
2. Go to the Safari menu and choose Preferences.

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3. Click on Security

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4. Click on Plug-in settings
5. Ensure that Flash is check boxed and that it is always ON.

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6. Click Done

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/flash-in-safari/

Feb 14

Friends don’t let friends use Entourage



Along with that blank look that tells us all that they are trapped and living in hell, your Windows friends are probably using Outlook to send their emails and manage their address books.

A little known fact is that Word and Excel (part of the Office suite that includes Outlook) was written for the Mac before Windows way back in 1984. This tradition has continued with various hits and misses such as the wonderful and solid Word 5.1 in the early 1990s to the knee tremblingly awful version 6 in the latter part of that same decade.

In 2001 Microsoft decided to release an Office suite for Mac and thus began the slow march towards Office for Windows and Office for Mac sharing features and design.
Well, that was the plan anyway.
It hasn’t been an easy task – even for the self confessed “Mac fanatics” at Microsoft – and it took until 2011 for Outlook to finally arrive on the Mac.

Prior to that, if a Mac user wanted to use a Microsoft product to manage their email, they were forced to suffer under the blundering and bolted together mess that was Entourage.
Well I say ‘was’ but, like Herpes that never goes away, Entourage still works and is still inflicting pain and suffering on all that are forced to use it.

If you are using Entourage please read on. If you know someone who might be using it, please stop reading, pick up the phone and organise an intervention.
This needless suffering must end today!

So what is Entourage and why do I hate it so much? Well for starters, the name. Why did it have to be called something different? Why did Microsoft have to further push the point that if you weren’t using Office for Windows there was something different, something wrong with you?
It’s mean spirited… but then this might explain why Entourage is such a pig. Like that Ring that ruled them all, I guess Microsoft decided to poured all their cruelty and malice into its unreliable and over inflated code.

My other reasons for hating Entourage are more technical in nature. To begin with it was never Time Capsule friendly so if disaster did strike all you could do was restore the entire database from the last backup. It didn’t work well with Spotlight so you couldn’t do detailed searches from the desktop and finally it was prone to failure in the most spectacular of ways.
You see Apple Mail divides all its files into separate folders. The INBOX is separate from the SENT ITEMS and the DRAFTS mailbox is separate from the OUTBOX. This means that if a mail gets corrupted and takes everything with it, not all is lost. And besides, as Apple Mail is Time Capsule friendly, very little thing is backed up anyway.
Entourage on the other hand lumps everything into a single database and this database tends to get flabby and fall over, often requiring you to “rebuild” the library with results than were never predictable.

image2015-2-24 11-2-51

This is also the case for Outlook 2011 and 2016.

So I imagine, especially if you are an Entourage user, that by now you must feel it is hopeless and that any minute now you are going to lose all your emails in one spectacular ball of flame!?

Maybe so. Nothing about Entourage would surprise me, but there is hope.

Apple Mail, is a very worthwhile alternative. It is free, it is well written and it doesn’t suffer the over blown, over complicated features and design of Entourage or Outlook (for that matter)
Your account and your email can be moved over but typically – and this is another reason to despise Entourage – it does require a conversion process. Because God forbid, Microsoft should adhere to industry standard formats!

If you are considering the move, drop me a line and we can discuss the best way forward but no matter what you do, think seriously about getting rid of Entourage. It wasn’t good when it was released in 2000 and its all been downhill from there.

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/friends-dont-let-friends-use-entourage/

Feb 11

Siri on the desktop


The arrival of Sierra back in Oct 2016 had me more excited than usual. Whereas in the past I had recommended caution and a “wait and see” attitude to upgrading, this time saw me diving in head first.
There were a lot of reasons for this uncharacteristic gay abandon. Security had been improved – sure, and Spotlight was waaaaay smarter, hard disk management tools built in and improvements to Photos to name but a few. But it was the introduction of Sierra to the desktop that had me eye wateringly joyful.

Now we all know Siri and we all know what she can (and cannot) do on your phone or iPad. The story is similar to the desktop version – pretty much anything you can do on your phone you can do with your desktop but with greater accuracy. It also introduces you to features that while familiar when you are in the car don’t seem relevant when you are at home… that is until you actually start use them.

Use Siri to make a phone call from your Mac.

Imagine if you will. You are sitting at your desk, your phone is charging in the Batcave, and you realise you have forgotten to call your mum.
Activate Siri by clicking on the menu bar icon (or Dock icon) and simply say “Call mum” (or her name if you haven’t schooled Siri in your family hierarchy)

picture of siri making a phone call

Use Siri to send a text from your Mac.

Imagine if you will. You are sitting at your desk, your phone is charging in the wine cellar, and you realise you haven’t sent your significant other a birthday text message. (I am romantic that way)
Activate Siri and simply say “Send a text to my wife. Happy Birthday” (or her name if you haven’t schooled Siri in your family hierarchy)

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Use Siri to find something on your Mac.

Activate Siri and simply say “Find all documents created this week”

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Quick General Knowledge

“What is the capital of England?”

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Create a reminder on your Mac

Imagine if you will. You are sitting at your desk, your phone is charging in the conservatory, and you realise you need to call a plumber first thing in the morning.
Activate Siri and simply say “At 9am remind me to call the Plumber.”
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But more than that. Let us say you have opened an email that requires you to do something tomorrow. With the email open, simply say “At 9am remind me to do this.” and the reminder will link to the email (or whatever you are looking at) automatically.

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If you are super lazy.

“Open Safari”

Playing music

Say, “Play music by Sting” and iTunes will automatically open and start playing, in this case at least, Gordon Summnor

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Advanced mathematics

Say “What is 10 multiplied by 100”

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This has been but the  tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Siri can do for you on your Mac. Believe me, once you start using her to do your bidding, you will wonder how you ever managed with only a keyboard and mouse all these years.

Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/siri-on-the-desktop/

Feb 11

That little green dot


When Apple released OSX to the world in 2001 it was a bold departure from OS9 in many ways. Secure, rich in content and very colourful.

One of the more obvious features were the three coloured orbs in the left of every Finder window. They looked like little glass beads and nowadays they are affectionately known as the traffic lights.

Red closed the window, yellow minimised the it and green resized the window to – supposedly- fit snuggly around the icons. You never really knew how much of the screen it would decide to take up from one click to the next and so over the years, I decided not to use it at all.

However, with the introduction of Sierra, the little green dot has received a split personality in order to slickly combine window expansion and the full screen feature that seemed to be all the rage a few years ago with the introduction of the iPad.

For those of us accustomed to the green dot doing one thing only this can be a source of great confusion and worry. You click on the dot and, instead of the window being expanded to (God knows) what proportions, instead your menu bar disappears along with the dock. In short, full screen mode – the surge of desktop computing. IMHO.

So, what to do about this. Well, as usual, the Option key comes to the rescue.

To make the green dot work like it has since 2001, hold down the Option key before clicking on the green dot and you’ll notice the green dot has a + icon in the centre as apposed to the outward facing arrows. This allows you to use the Window expansion feature that, I am happy to report, works correctly these days.


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To go full screen, simply click on the green dot. Once there, in order to return to normal mode, move your cursor to the very top of the screen and once the menu bar drops down from the top, click on the green dot to return to sanity.


Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/that-little-green-dot/

Dec 04

There is an answer to slow internet

fast internet

If you live in the ACT there is a pretty good chance that you hate your internet.

It is slow. It crashes. It is good for – maybe – browsing the web for a few minutes before it grinds to a halt completely.

It would actually be quicker to fly to Sydney, get a cab from the airport, stop off in the CBD to pick up snacks and then go to a friends house and watch a movie on his Apple TV than it would be to download it and watch it in your own home.

And forget about trying to squeeze anything out of your 2.5Mbps if anyone else in the house is using their laptop or iPad.

In the ACT there are a few scattered and inconsistent choices available for high speed internet:

NBN – not everywhere and not likely to be soon. In fact it is a race between the NBN covering the whole of the ACT before cockroaches take over the earth.

VDSL – Very few areas but those that can get it jump at it because it is one of the best services around.

But there is a third option and I can tell you from personal experience, is fantastic. As unlikely at it seems, wireless is the answer.

The Signal Co is a company that is making its mission to bring a smile to the faces of ACT residents who have been ignored or disenfranchised by the major players.

They have several packages available for home and for business but whatever you pick the main features are the same:

  • 20+ Mbps download speed.
  • 10 Mbps upload speed
  • Unlimited upload.

Let us take my situation as an example.

I was paying iiNet $130+ a month for internet and phone, a phone I hardly use. My monthly limit was, well, unlimited, but this was useless because it was too slow. My service was reliable, not a lot of downtime, but the speed never got above 3Mbps. If more than one person in the house tried to use the net our feed would come to a very impetuous halt.

Like most people these days we have moved to digital for our entertainment. Music is via Apple Music, movies and TV are fed to us via iTunes, Netflix or Stan. There is also youtube that, as well as delivering videos about cats falling off benches, also gives us access to educational content. Let us also remember that I am trying to run a business from my home office so downloads and applying updates for clients is not unusual. All on 3Mbps if, and I do mean IF, I was lucky and if I threatened all others in the house with a horrible demise should they attempt to send an email.

I was told about The Signal Co and I investigated further, feeling sure that there was a catch. Positive that this wasn’t going to work for me. Willing to bet a body part that it would be too pricey or not much better than a Telstra 4G dongle. (Which doesn’t work in my house anyway as it happens)

Oh boy was I wrong!

I jumped on their web page and had a look at the packages and was blown away to discover that it started at just $39.95 a month for 100GB download. The installation cost (fitting the aerial on your roof) is $399.95 and they try very hard to install it so it is unobtrusive.

You can check out all their business and residential packages here.

I went for the medium business package that offers me 500GB download, unlimited upload and speeds that hover between 20 and 26 Mbps.

internet speed test

However, before you jump in, there are a couple of things to note.

You should say goodbye to your ISP (iiNet, Telstra, Optus) because this service replaces their service. But this means you will lose the email address they gave you and are, in all probability, still using. Before you make the move to The Signal Co you’ll need to set up an independent email address and alert all in-sundry. Now I have said for years that this is a good move because it unshackles you from the yoke of the ISP.

There is also the possibility that your home phone number and internet are linked so unless you are happy to ditch the landline all together you might be able to change your plan to include landline phone only and no internet.

Finally, you might need to replace your modem/router. If you are currently using ADSL on a phone line then this will be useless when your new service is installed. A very good modem router for this service would be a Time Capsule or an Airport Extreme or the monster that comes in the form of the Netgear NightHawk.

Now, please forgive me but I am off to watch an HD version of Star Wars, whilst downloading the new Sting album all while upgrading a clients iMac to Sierra.



Permanent link to this article: http://macservicesact.com.au/there-is-an-answer-to-slow-internet/

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