Month: July 2015

Some Security Notes

There’s always something to be worried about, what can I say. All we can do is stay informed, take some reasonable precautions, and not worry too much.

Here are a few note about recent items:

This is an FTC note about one clever, crazy scam to hack your email account through text messaging.  I really encourage you to read this.

Maybe you’ve heard of ransomeware.  It’s where your computer is locked down until you pay someone some money.  Read about what it is and how to protect yourself.  The most important thing is to have backups of your data.  Next, if this happens to you, just shut everything off right away.

And for something that is not scary, Apple will be introducing two-factor authentication into it’s new products.  Here’s an article about what it is and why it is important.

I believe that two-factor authentication is going to become more common place, and it should do so quickly, particularly for financial institutions.  So far this year more than 100 million Social Security numbers have been compromised.  This article also points out the weakness of using your SSN as authentication.

Photo Stream Confusion

I wrote last month about options for photo cloud storage and sharing. What I’m finding amongst Apple product users is confusion about how Photo Stream works. Don’t feel bad, it is confusing, and the way Apple organizes your photos doesn’t help.  There are lots of online discussions about the confusion, or about things not working – or maybe, not working the way someone expects.

Here’s my simple guideline – and I hope I understand how it all works!:

(For the purposes of this write-up, I’m assuming that you have Yosemite on your computer and are using Photos and not iPhoto, but iPhoto should work the same.)

Turn on Photo Sharing (through the iCloud settings) on all your devices and all new photos will be in what Apple calls your “Photo Stream”.  Photo Stream can hold up to 1,000 recent photos. Photo Stream works through iCloud and requires all your devices to be logged in to the same iCloud account.

Let’s assume you have an iPhone and a Macbook.  You take a photo with your iPhone.  On your phone the new photo will appear both in your Photo Stream and your Camera Roll. On your MacBook, because your have Photo Stream on, the photo will appear in your Photo Stream, and by default, in All Photos (more on this later).

Here are three scenarios:

1) If you delete a photo from Photo Stream, either on your iPhone or your MacBook it will be deleted from the Photo Stream of the other device as well.  The photo will not be delete from All Photos on your MacBook or from your iPhone Camera Roll.

2) If you delete a photo from Camera Roll on your iPhone, and it is still in your Photo Stream, if will be deleted from the Camera Roll on your iPhone, and Photo Stream on all your devices.  But, if the photo was already imported into All Photos on another device, or any other album, it will not be deleted from All Photos or that album. Is that clear?

3) If you delete a photo from your MacBook, in any album other than Photo Stream, if will not be deleted from your iPhone, and vice versa.

Think of it this way, any photo that is in an album on any device is permanently stored until you manually delete it. Only Photo Stream is temporary.

This raises a question, how did Photo Stream photos become permanent on your MacBook?  I’ll tell you:  Open Photos.  Click Photos in the menu bar. Select Preferences. Select General. See where Importing is checked.  That means that all photos in Photo Stream will be copied into All Photos on your MacBook (or whatever Apple computer you have).

If you want to have more control over what you save on your computer then uncheck this option.  If you do this, then it is up to you to review your Photo Stream photos periodically and drag the ones you want to save to an album in Photos. This is a good way to force you to triage your photos.

I hope this helps. As an exercise, try deleting a single photo from both Photo Stream and an album on your devices and see what happens on the other devices.  It’s a good way to learn.

Oops – Stop that Email

Google just implemented a hugely face-saving feature – undo.  That’s right!  You can take back an email that you sent by mistake, as long as you do it within 30 seconds.  This feature works when you are using the web interface for Gmail.  I’m not so sure it works if you are using Outlook, Apple Mail or some other mail client.

Here’s how to use it:

Click the little cog on the top right.  Select Settings. About half way down is the Undo option.  You can select 10, 20 or 30 seconds.  What this does is delay sending your email for that period of time.  After pressing send, at the top of the screen, the Undo option appears.  Click it and your email is not sent.  It is reopened for you to modify or delete.

This seems particularly useful when you realize after the fact that you just did a replay all when you meant to respond to one person, and who hasn’t done this.

Block that Alert

Were you one of the 8 million New Yorker’s startled by an Amber alert on your phone the afternoon of June 30th, then rudely awakened at 4 AM the following morning with a flood warning?

Here’s how you turn off those alerts on your iPhone:

Tap Settings -> Notifications

Scroll to the bottom of the screen.  The last section is Government Alerts.  You can tap them on or off.

Backing up iPhone Passwords

Boy do I feel stupid about this:  As many of you know, my preference has been to bypass every other iPhone release, so I’ve been waiting for the iPhone 6s to be released in the fall. Fate had other plans.  My son dropped his phone, it died, and I was not going to get him a new iPhone 6.  Instead, I got an iPhone 6 and gave him my old 5.  This is not the stupid part because I love my new iPhone, especially the large screen – particularly the larger keyboard, signing in with my thumb, and the fantastic camera.

Here’s the stupid part – I did not backup my old phone to my computer. I did have a backup on iCloud.  For most people this may be just fine, but I had dozens of WiFi passwords stored on my phone.  When you do a backup and restore from iCloud, your keychain passwords, including all the WiFi passwords are not backed up.  The only way to backup then up is to do an encrypted backup to your computer through iTunes. I blanked on this before I setup up my new iPhone and factory reset my old phone to give to my son.

Lesson learned and something for you to remember when you get a new iPhone.

Here are the steps for doing an encrypted backup:

1. Plug your iPhone into your computer.

2. Open iTunes if it does not open automatically. Make sure your iPhone is not on the locked screen.

3. Click on the small iPhone icon near the top left corner.

4. Make sure you are now looking at the Summary screen. The selection for this is on the left.

5. Notice the Backup section.  Check the Encrypt iPhone backup selection.  You will be asked for a password (don’t forget it!) and the backup will commence.

Google Maps for When You’re Really Lost

I just learned a new trick with Google maps, and boy-oh-boy did it help me.

We went to visit friends upstate where AT&T has very spotty service. Luckily I had just learned this trick and prepared ahead of time.  The feature I did not know about is saving maps offline.  This allows you to see detailed maps even when you have no cellular service.

This is how you do it:

Open Google Map -> Position the map to view the area where you will be traveling -> Tap the three bar icon on the left side of the Google search bar -> Tap Your Places -> Scroll all the way down to Offline Images and tap VIEW ALL AND MANAGE -> Tap SAVE A NEW OFFLINE MAP

That’s it.  Repeat the above steps to view maps you’ve saved.

Be aware that the maps do expire so make sure, if you’ve previously saved a map, they are still saved before you leave home.  Also note, saved maps cannot be more than 30 miles in radius.

Block that Ad

Last month I wrote about Chrome, why it can slow down, and an add-in for speeding it up.

There is another add-in that can be used with most any browser, and that is Adblock Plus.

Many of my clients complain that their computer is getting slower and slower.  In many cases, it’s just their browser and online activity that has slowed down.  A big reason for that is that websites are running more and more code, and a lot of it has to do with advertising.  Most people just have no idea how much is going on behind the scenes when they open a tab and visit a commercial website.  Let’s say you go to the Huffington Post or Fox News (I’m nonpartisan!), every ad that is displayed requires access to other services, and the running of lots of code. Here’s an informative article about it all and the use of Adblock.

Adblock Plus installs a little icon on your browser menu bar. One fun thing is that it displays the number of ads blocked for each site.

Give it a try.

Apple Music

If you’ve upgraded your iPhone or iPad to iOS 8.4, you may have noticed that the icon for Music (iTunes) changed from basic red background and white note, to white background and a more prismatic note. This is the new Apple Music app.  Open it and you’ll see that it is definitely not iTunes. Rather, it is everything that anyone has thought a music app could be.  It is both beautiful and a mess.

When you first start it up, you’ll be asked to sign up for a free three month trial.  Why not?  Give it a try.  However, you should make sure you don’t forget.  Apple will start charging you in three months.  The easy way to do this is to turn off automatic renewal after you’ve signed up for the trial.  Here’s how:  Tap the red silhouette in the upper left corner -> Select View Apple ID -> Enter your password -> Scroll down and Select Manage -> Under Renewal Options turn off automatic renewal.

With Apple Music, you are first presented with a bunch of floating bubbles where you can select the music you like and don’t like.  The app will continue to learn as you use it. After that, along the bottom of the screen are five choices:  For You, New, Radio, Connect, My Music.

For You presents what seems to be an endless list of music recommendations based on what you like and listen to.

New highlights new releases, top charts, and curated playlists. At the top of the screen there is a drop down menu that starts as All Genres. Tap it and you can narrow down the offering to the type of music you like.

Radio gives you choices of music by genre or artists and works much like Pandora.

My Music is essentially iTunes.  It’s your music library.

And like Spotify, if you tap the search icon in the upper right corner you can search the entire iTunes catalogue for music to listen to.  If you find something you like, just tap the “+” button and it is added to My Music.

I forgot about Connect, and you may too.  It’s supposed to be some sort of social media feature for interacting with musicians (or the people they pay to manage their social media) and other fans. Whatever –

Here is some other reading:

The New York Times guide to music streaming services.

A more detailed look at how to use Apple Music.

How to save music for offline listening.

One last note:  I will not be ditching Spotify anytime soon.  I have a Sonos player at home, and for now, Sonos does not work with Apple Music.  Sonos has stated that they will have this working by the end of the year.