Month: January 2015

3D TV, Smart TV, 4K TV

It used to be fairly easy to purchase a TV — aside from the manufacturer, the only thing to decide on was the screen size. Now you need to decide what resolution, how many other devices you will attach to the TV, do you want to view 3D programming, the resolution, flat screen or curved screen, LCD, LED, OLED, plasma and do you want your TV connected to the internet – so called smart TV.

Here is an opinion piece that tells you to forget about 3D and smart TV features.  I agree!  3D is dying on its own.  As for smart TV, like Netflix and Hulu access, most of the implementations are not as good as getting Apple TV or Roku.  The TV manufacturers are good at building hardware but not so good with software.  I have noticed that Netflix on a Samsung is slow and balky, whereas using an Apple TV or Roku on the same TV for Netflix operates just fine.  If you can save a few dollars by purchasing a TV that is not 3D and has no “smarts” I recommend you do so.

As for 4K TV, look at it before you buy it.  Right now you’ll be paying twice as much as for a standard hi-def TV and to my eye the improvement is merely incremental.  Additionally, there is just not that much you’ll be watching in 4K at this time.

iPhoto and iTunes Managers

A quick recommendation –

A great little program from Fat Cat Software, iPhoto Library Manager, is amazingly helpful if you have multiple iPhoto libraries and you want to consolidate them without all the duplicates.   They also have a product, PowerTunes, for merging iTunes libraries and eliminating duplicates.

More Scary Stuff

Ransomware!  Did you read this article in the Times?

Ransomware is a particularly pernicious form of malware.  It typically finds its way onto your computer when clicking on a link or an attachment from spam.

What happens next is your computer is locked and held for ransom — literally.  You will be instructed to pay some amount of money to regain access.  Even with virus scan software there is only one sure way to protect your computer, do regular backups.  If this happens to you immediately unplug your external hard drives.  If you have a current backup (you do backup, don’t you?), your system can be cleaned and restored without having to pay the ransom.

Password Manager

I’ve written about having strong passwords and using password managers in the past.  Over the past six months I’ve used both Lastpass and Dashlane.  After using both on my laptop and iPhone, although it’s more expensive, I prefer Dashlane for its ease of use. Both keep track of your passwords and fill them in automatically but I found that Dashlane did its job with less fuss and better organization.
You can read a recent review of Dashlane here.

As I said above, Dashlane is more expensive.  Lastpass is very popular, it works and if you’re happy using it, no need to switch.  And, there are other alternatives, you can read about them here.
And speaking of passwords, do not use any of these.  This is a list of the top 500 passwords that hackers use when attempting to break into accounts.  Look through this list and notice that many of these are common names followed by a number.  If you want to use a name, misspell it in some uncommon way — Jane123 is not a secure password.

Stream with Spotify – No Wires

Then again, with Spotify, I find that I listen to my own music on iTunes less often. As I’m sure many of you know, Spotify has almost every piece of music you may want to hear — and similar to iTunes, you can create your own playlists.

What’s really cool is streaming Spotify to your stereo system wirelessly from your computer, iPhone or iPad. This is accomplished by attaching an Airport Express to your stereo and enabling AirPlay on your iPhone, iPad or Mac computer.

Airplay can be enabled on your Apple computer by holding the Option key and clicking the speaker icon on the top menu bar.  On your iPhone or iPad you swipe up on the home screen and select the AirPlay icon.

Happy listening!

iTunes – Ugh

You may have notice that I’m a big Apple fan.  However, sometimes they do things that leave me scratching my head.  iTunes is a good example.  Each new release seems to become less easy to use, loaded with more unrelated features, and options that used to be in one place and are now in another. I ask myself: Why can’t they develop an elegant, simple to use media player.

One alternate music player that I am beginning to explore is this:

And then there is this about managing music on your iPhone. Spoiler: the iPod was simple and elegant.

Sharing Data and Music Wirelessly

Have you found yourself forgetting to back up your computer because it’s a pain to constantly plug in an external hard drive to your laptop?

Or maybe it’s annoying that you cannot have one music library for your entire family?

One solution to both problems is to create shared storage using your WiFi network.

There are devices you can purchase today that do this for you including Apple’s Airport Extreme Time Capsule, Seagate Central and WD My Cloud.

Or, as I’ve done for a few clients, you can roll your own using an Airport Extreme and any USB hard drive.

If you have an Airport Extreme you may have noticed (or not) that there is a USB connection on the backside.  Any hard drive that you plug in will be recognized and accessible by anyone on your WiFi network.  You can use the drive for Time Machine backups or for storing shared files. including music, alleviating the need to plug a drive into your computer.  When you’re connected to your WiFi network you’ll be connected to the shared hard drive.