Month: September 2016

Protect Your Email from Hackers

I’m writing this post because of an increasing number of clients who have had their email hacked. And it’s not just my clients as you can read here.

In some cases they have been locked out of their email when the perpetrator has changed their password. In other cases, the password has not been changed but the hacker has sent malware laced email from the hacked account. In all cases, somehow, the hacker has figured out the password.

There are some steps you can take to protect yourself. The first is to have a good strong password. Ideally, it should not be a real word and it should be longer than 8 characters and it should be a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. And most importantly, the password you use for email should not be used for any other account. If you have multiple email accounts, they should each have their own unique password.

The second thing that I am recommending is 2-Step Authentication. This prevents someone from logging into your email account if they do not have access to your smartphone.

When anyone, including you, attempts to login to your account from a new device, a code is sent to your smartphone that must be entered, like a second temporary password, in order to complete the login process. The result is if a hacker figures our your password and attempts a login from their computer they will be blocked because the code will be sent to your cell phone and not to them.

The added benefit of this method is if you receive a code, which comes via text message, and it’s not you attempting to login, you will know that someone is trying to hack your account.

2-Step Authentication is not an iron-clad guarantee against hacking but it is good enough to protect your email from all but the most determined hackers.

I strongly encourage you to consider this.

Here are instructions for setting this up:

Instructions for Gmail.

Instructions for Yahoo Mail.

Instructions for AOL.

As usual, I am here to answer your questions.

Just in case you missed my last newsletter or you want to see any back issues you can find them here and if you are not a subscriber you can sign up.

Apple Contacts Sync

Some times the obvious thing is not the true thing. A case in point is contact syncing on Apple devices, particularly between an iPhone and an Apple computer.

You might think that if a contact is in Contacts on your iPhone, and you have iCloud contact syncing checked on for both your iPhone and Mac, that all contacts in Contacts will sync to your computer. This is not necessarily true.

If you, like me, use Gmail or other non-Apple email accounts, and access email through the web, you may notice that when you add a new contact on your phone it does not sync with Contacts on your Mac. If this is the case I will tell you the settings to check.

1) On your iPhone, go to Settings->iCloud and make sure Contacts is ON. On your Mac, go to System Preferences->iCloud and do the same.

2) On your iPhone, go to Settings->Mail,Contacts,Calendars. Scroll down to the Contacts section. See what you have listed as your Default Account. That is the account that contact changes will sync to. If it is a Gmail account, for example, any new contact will sync to Gmail contacts. It will also show up in the Contacts app on the iPhone, but will not sync to Contacts on your Mac. (I agree that this is confusing).

3) To get contacts to sync to your Mac, on your Mac go to System Preferences->Internet Accounts. Check to see if your Gmail account is listed. If not, add it by clicking Google in the right pane and follow the instructions for adding the account. Once you have the account, select it and make sure that Contacts is checked. You can uncheck all the other settings unless you are using these other Google services and want them synced to your Mac. Chances are you don’t since you have not missed them.

These steps should solve the problem and now all contact changes made on your iPhone will show up in Contacts on your Mac.

I know this might seem confusing and not very intuitive. If you have further questions about this feel free to contact me (no pun intended!).

Everything Windows

There is a lot of new, but not major news concerning Windows.

First, Microsoft recently released a free upgrade for Windows 10, the Windows Anniversary Edition. There are no major changes but a few enhancements. Cortana has more features. Edge, Microsoft’s new internet browser, works better with add-in apps. And if you have a touch screen, you have more options with Windows Ink for drawing and annotating documents. You can read more here and here.

If you are still on an older version of Windows, you have missed the cut off date for getting a free Windows 10 upgrade. If you want Windows 10 it will now set you back $119.99. I did warn you in a previous newsletter. However, all is not lost. There is a loophole.

Microsoft is allowing people who require assistive technology to continue to download for free. Assistive technology is for people who may have issues with their eyesite or other conditions that may make using a computer difficult — and who doesn’t have difficulties with computers. The page for the free download is hidden from the general public. I’m going to tell you the secret.

If you want to get a free copy of Windows 10 go to this site. You’re welcome.

Finally, one problem with PCs is that many manufacturers load up their computers with junky software, also known as bloatware. It’s all mostly useless and often slows down your computer.

Microsoft recently released a tool that will do a clean install of Windows, keep all your personal data intact, and eliminate all the bloatware. If interested, check it out here.

Google Duo — Better than FaceTime?

Google recently announced Duo, a video chat app. If you have used FaceTime you may have run into the problem that it only works with Apple products but the friend you want to call has an Android phone. Google Duo solves this problem. They released versions for both Android and iOS. The reviews say it is super easy to use. Check it out if you want video chat for everyone. You can read more here.

Syncing Files to the Cloud

I know that many of you use Dropbox, One Drive, Google Drive or iCloud Drive for storing files. The problem I find with these services is that they require me to change my file system.

Normally, I store everything in the Documents folder with many sub-folders. If I start using Dropbox, I have to move the files I want out of Documents and into Dropbox. Now I have to remember if a particular file is stored locally or in Dropbox.

I have found a better way, at least for me, to use Dropbox or any of the cloud services. There is a small app called MacDropAny that can link any file or folder on your computer to any of the major cloud services. This is a set it and forget it type of thing. For example, you can use MacDropAny to link your entire Documents folder to Dropbox, and then, without having moved a single file, your entire Documents folder will be synced to Dropbox and any changes you make will be automatically reflected in Dropbox. Now I can continue to orghanize my documents as I like.

The same can be done in Windows but not with MacDropAny. To do this in Windows requires some tinkering under the hood. It’s not difficult, just technical, and I don’t recommend doing this on your own unless you are comfortable with terminal

iPhone 7 and Watch Series 2

Apple announced the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and Apple Watch Series 2 on September 7th. There were no big surprises, unless you count Pokemon Go coming to the Watch as a big surprise.

There was no news about new MacBooks, something I have been waiting for. It appears they will announce new laptops in October.

A quick summary of the new devices is this: the new iPhones are faster, water-resistant, have a better screen, much better cameras, a redesigned home button and no headphone jack. My bottom line is this — if you have an iPhone 6 there is no reason to upgrade unless you really want the new camera. If you have an older iPhone the iPhone 7 will be a good choice.

There is a difference in the cameras on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The 7, the smaller of the two, compared to previous iPhones has better resolution and color, better adaptive technology for color correction, and image stabilization. The 7 Plus, has two camera lenses, one for wide angle and one telephoto providing real optical zoom. You camera buffs will know the difference between digital zoom (the pixels just get bigger) and optical zoom (like a real camera).

What about no headphone jack? you ask. The supposed reason for eliminating this is space. It’s a real design challenge to pack everything needed into the iPhone. Apple’s plan is that everything will be wireless. In fact, they will be releasing their own wireless earbuds called AirPods. They will cost you $159. Also, Apple owns Beats which has it’s own line of wireless headphones.

If you want to continue to use your wired earbuds or headphones you can do so. The new iPhones come with an adaptor that plugs into the lightning port (the charging port) and provides a headphone jack on the other end. The only problem that will arise with this solution is if you want to use your headphones and charge the iPhone at the same time. Apple has a history of eliminating accessories that it deems no longer necessary, like 3.5 floppy drives, then CD/DVD drives, and the rest of the industry seems to follow them. It’s a good bet that soon most headphones will be wireless but the transition is a bit clumsy.

The new Watch Series 2 (the original Watch is still available at a reduced price) in addition to being faster has two nice features: water proof to 50m, which means you can swim with it, and a built-in GPS which will vastly improve the stand alone capabilities of the fitness apps, maps and a new hiking app.

You can read more about the new products here and here.

More radical changes are coming with the new operating systems being released in the next week or two: iOS 10 for iPhones and MacOS Sierra for MacBooks and iMacs. I previously wrote about them here. When they are released, I suggest you wait to upgrade. These are big revisions and it’s best to let the dust settle before diving in — unless you are like me and just can’t wait to try the new stuff. I’ll let you know what I think in my next newsletter.