Did You Know You Can Make a Video of Anything on Your iPhone or iPad Screen?

You know how to use the Camera app on your iPhone or iPad to take a video, but did you know that you can also record a video of what happens on the screen of your device? That’s useful if you’re trying to explain the steps of some technical process to a friend or show a tech support rep what’s going wrong in an app or Web site. You could also use a screen recording to copy a video from Facebook, for instance, that you want to send to a social media–averse friend.

First, to get set up, go to Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls and tap the green + button next to Screen Recording to add it to the list of controls that appear in Control Center. Drag it in the list to rearrange where its round Record button will show up in Control Center. Here’s a screen recording showing those steps:

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Making your first screen recording is simple. Follow these steps:

  1. Open Control Center. (Swipe up from the bottom edge of the screen, or, if you’re using an iPhone X or later, or an iPad running iOS 12, swipe down from the top-right corner of the screen.)

  2. Press deeply on the Screen Recording button to open a menu. If you want to record your voice via the microphone as well, tap the Microphone button to turn it on.

  3. Tap Start Recording, and then wait for the 3-second countdown.

  4. Perform the actions that you want to be recorded.

  5. To stop the recording, either enter Control Center again and tap the red Record button or tap the red status icon at the upper left of the screen and tap Stop. A notification appears, telling you that your screen recording was saved to Photos.

In fact, if you want to keep your options for the destination app and microphone at their current settings, making a screen recording is even easier:

  1. Open Control Center.

  2. Tap the Record button instead of pressing deeply.

  3. Perform your actions.

  4. Stop the recording via Control Center or the red status bar.

Told you it was simple. But we bet you have questions, so let’s provide some answers.

Where did my screen recording go?

As the notification informs you, screen recordings end up in the Photos app, just like any other photo or video. You’ll see them both in the Photos view and in Albums > Media Types > Videos.

What are Messenger and Skype doing in the screenshot earlier?

Instead of recording your screen to a video file, you can instead broadcast it to a Facebook Messenger or Skype chat. That might be useful for a quick show-and-tell while having a conversation.

Can I edit the screen recording?

Yes, although the Photos app limits you to trimming frames from the start and end of the video (which actually creates a new video with your selection rather than editing the original). For more significant editing, tap the ••• button in the Photos edit interface and send the video to iMovie.

Is there any way to show my taps and drags in the screen recording?

Yes, but it’s not easy. There’s a trick that relies on iOS’s Accessibility features, but it’s way too clumsy and leaves the Assistive Touch button on the screen the entire time. A better approach would be to use a dedicated app like ScreenFlow (which is what we used above) to insert circles where your fingers touch down, but that’s worthwhile only for videos where you need higher production values.

For the most part, though, the point of screen recordings is not to make the perfect movie—it’s to create and share a video of something that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to convey.

(Featured image by Lisa Fotios from Pexels)

5 Reasons Why You Should Be Using a Password Manager

We often recommend using a password manager like 1Password or LastPass, but we’ve gotten a few questions asking why we’re so adamant about this. Lots of people think that all they need to do to keep their online accounts secure is create a single password with some numbers, often switching a lowercase L with a 1 and a capital E with a 3. And that’s for accounts people care about—for those that they don’t see as important, they’re likely to use a simple password like their child’s or pet’s name. Plus, most people don’t think they have much to protect or that they would be targeted by hackers, so they reuse the same password across multiple sites.

Guess what? Such an approach is extremely dangerous on today’s Internet. First off, no one is explicitly targeted. The bad guys get passwords by stealing them by the millions from Web sites with lax security. Then they use sophisticated hardware that can try over 350 billion passwords per second to decrypt as many of the stolen passwords as possible. All passwords under 13 characters can be cracked easily by such hardware.

Next, imagine you have a password on a shopping site whose passwords are stolen. The attackers can log in to that site, change your shipping address, and order items with your stored credit card. But they won’t stop there. They’ll use automated software to try that username and password combination on lots of other high-profile sites: Google, Apple, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, many banks, and so on. If they can get in anywhere, they’ll take over the account and exploit it in any way they can, which could involve stealing money, ordering goods, or using it to reset passwords and lock you out of other accounts. It can get ugly fast.

Use a password manager to generate, store, and enter strong passwords, one for each site, and you’ll never have any of these problems. A sufficiently strong password (16 characters minimum, but we recommend 20 when possible) will withstand cracking efforts for centuries, and if you have a different password for every site, even one password being compromised won’t expose any of your other accounts to abuse.

Here then are five reasons for using a password manager:

  1. Generate strong passwords: A password should be random, or it should be a long collection of words (think 30+ characters). Password managers can generate such passwords for you, so it’s easy to make a new one for each Web site.

  2. Store passwords securely: If you’re going to put all your eggs in one basket, you want that basket to be well protected. Password managers employ their own strong encryption and various other techniques to ensure that your passwords are safe.

  3. Enter passwords for you: No one can remember and type long, random passwords, but having a password manager enter the password for you is even easier than typing a weak password. Log in faster than ever before!

  4. Audit existing accounts: Password managers learn the credentials you use for existing accounts, and they can tell you which passwords are weak and which have been reused.

  5. Access passwords on all your devices: It’s even harder to type passwords on an iPhone or iPad, but good password managers have apps for mobile devices that sync with your password archive so all your passwords are available whenever you need them.

There are many different password managers, but for most people, there are three main choices. If you use only Safari on the Mac and in iOS, Apple’s built-in iCloud Keychain feature may be sufficient.

If you’re mostly an Apple user but also need support for Windows and Android, or if you want to share some passwords with family members or your workgroup, 1Password is the best choice. It costs $3 per month for an individual or $5 per month for a family, with team and business accounts as well. 1Password also offers add-ons for non-Apple browsers like Chrome and Firefox.

And if 1Password is too expensive, or if you’re platform agnostic, LastPass offers a solid set of features for free. Additional features and password sharing cost $3 per month for individuals and $4 per month for families, and again, team and enterprise accounts are available.

If you need help choosing among these three or setting them up, particularly in the context of a small business, get in touch with us. And if you’d like us to write more about each of these options, just drop us a note and we’ll see what we can do.

(Featured image by CMDR Shane on Unsplash)

QUICK TIP: Use Emergency Bypass and You’ll Never Miss a Call or Text from Important People

There’s little worse than missing an important call or text because your iPhone was in Do Not Disturb mode or because the Mute switch was engaged. If there are certain people—a spouse, parent, or child—whose calls and texts you always want to break through the cone of silence, iOS has a solution: Emergency Bypass. When enabled for a particular contact’s ringtone or text tone, Emergency Bypass ensures the sound and vibration will happen regardless of Do Not Disturb or the Mute switch position. To set up Emergency Bypass, edit the person’s contact card in the Phone or Contacts app, tap Ringtone, and enable Emergency Bypass. You can turn on Emergency Bypass separately for calls in the Ringtone settings and for texts in the Text Tone settings. And remember, you can always set someone’s tone to None and enable a vibration instead to ensure Emergency Bypass doesn’t allow a call to interrupt a movie, play, or concert.

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QUICK TIP ... A Quick Trick to Turn Your iPhone into a Magnifying Glass

It’s maddening to want to read a serial number or other bit of fine print that you can barely see. But fret no longer—your iPhone or iPad makes a fabulous magnifying glass! Assuming Magnifier is enabled in Settings > General > Accessibility > Magnifier, you can bring it up by pressing the Home button (for Touch ID devices) or side button (for Face ID devices) three times quickly. If that’s too hard to remember, you can also add a Magnifier button to Control Center in Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls. The special camera viewfinder is zoomed automatically, but you can change the zoom level with the slider, tap the flash icon to turn on the LED light (if available on your device), enable a filter to change the color or contrast, or lock the focus by tapping the lock icon. You can also freeze the image by tapping the white shutter button, which is great for grabbing a picture of a tiny serial number on the back of some device (tap that button again to resume using Magnifier). To leave Magnifier, press the Home button or swipe up from the bottom of the screen.

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What’s with All These Dialogs Saying, “SomeApp is not optimized for your Mac”?

If you’re running macOS 10.13.4 High Sierra or macOS 10.14 Mojave, you may have seen a dialog that says an app isn’t optimized for your Mac. The message differs slightly between High Sierra and Mojave, with the High Sierra version telling you the developer needs to update the app to improve compatibility whereas Mojave saying bluntly that the app won’t work with future versions of macOS.

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What’s going on here, what should you do, and when should you do it?

What’s Going On: 32-bit and 64-bit Apps

Over a decade ago, Apple started to transition all the chips used in Macs, along with macOS itself, from a 32-bit architecture to a 64-bit architecture. Without getting into technical details, 64-bit systems and apps can access dramatically more memory and enjoy significantly faster performance.

Apple knew it would take years before most people were running 64-bit hardware and 64-bit-savvy versions of macOS, so it allowed macOS to continue running older 32-bit apps. However, maintaining that backward compatibility has a cost, in terms of both performance and testing, so at its Worldwide Developer Conference in 2017, Apple warned developers that High Sierra would be the last version of macOS to support 32-bit apps “without compromise.” At the next WWDC in June 2018, Apple announced that macOS 10.14 Mojave would be the last version of macOS to run 32-bit apps.

Happily, the only “compromise” for 32-bit apps in Mojave is the warning dialog, which appears every 30 days when you launch an older app. But the writing is on the wall: 32-bits apps will cease working in macOS 10.15.

How Do You Identify 32-bit Apps?

  1. From the Apple menu, choose About This Mac and then click the System Report button.

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2. In the System Information utility that opens, scroll down to Software in the sidebar and select Applications. It may take a few minutes to build the list of every app on all mounted drives.

3.When it finishes, click the 64-bit column header (No means 32-bit; Yes means 64-bit) to sort the list, and select an app to see its details in the bottom pane.

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This technique works in both High Sierra and Mojave, but in Mojave, System Information includes a better-formatted section, called Legacy Software, that also provides a list of 32-bit apps. However, this list may be smaller because it includes only those apps that you’ve launched. Since it’s likely that you open old 32-bit apps only occasionally, you can’t trust the Legacy Software list to be complete.

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If you find System Information’s Applications list overwhelming, check out the free 32-bitCheck utility from Howard Oakley. It performs exactly the same task but lets you focus on a particular folder and save the results to a text file for later reference.

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What’s Your Next Step?

Once you know which apps won’t work in macOS 10.15, you can ponder your options. Luckily, you have some time. We expect Apple to release macOS 10.15 in September 2019, but you don’t need to upgrade right away—in fact, we recommend that you wait a few months after that to allow Apple time to fix bugs.

That said, we do encourage upgrading eventually, and if you buy a new Mac after September 2019, it will come with macOS 10.15. So you need to establish a plan—it’s better to know what you’re going to do than to be forced into action if you have to replace your Mac on short notice. For each 32-bit app on your Mac, you have three options:

Delete it: It’s not uncommon to have old apps that you haven’t used in years and won’t miss. There’s no need to waste drive space on them in macOS 10.15.

Upgrade it: Apps in active development will likely have a new version available. The main questions are how much the upgrade will cost and if there are compatibility issues associated with upgrading. You can upgrade at any time, although it’s likely worth waiting until you’re ready to move to macOS 10.15 to minimize costs. The apps that cause the most irritation here are things like the Adobe Creative Suite—Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign—that require switching to a monthly subscription.

Replace it: If no upgrade is available, the cost of upgrading is too high, or upgrading comes with other negatives, it’s time to look for an alternative. This can take some time, so it’s worth starting soon to ensure that the replacement will provide the features you need before macOS 10.15 forces the decision.

Needless to say, if you’d like recommendations about how to proceed with any particular app or workflow, get in touch with us!

Need to Clear Space on an iPhone or iPad? Here’s How to Do It in iOS 12

Little is more frustrating than running out of space your iPhone or iPad. You can’t take new photos, you can’t download new apps, some things may not work at all, and iOS will nag you repeatedly about how you can “manage” your storage in Settings. Luckily, over the past few versions of iOS, Apple has significantly improved the options for clearing unnecessary data from your device.

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Storage Graph

To get started clearing space, go to Settings > iPhone/iPad Storage. At the top of the screen, a graph reveals where your space is going, such as Apps, Photos, Media, Messages, Mail, Books, iCloud Drive, and Other. You can’t do anything with the graph, but it will likely reveal the main culprits.

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Recommendations

Next, iOS shows recommendations for quick ways to recover space. These vary based on how you use your device, so you will likely see other options here.

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Some of the possibilities include:

  • Offload Unused Apps: This choice is particularly helpful if you download a lot of apps that you later stop using. Enable it, and iOS automatically recovers space from unused apps when you’re low on storage. Each of these apps remains on your Home screen with a little cloud icon next to it, and when you next tap the app to open it, iOS re-downloads the app from the App Store. You won’t lose any documents, data, or settings associated with an offloaded app.

  • Review Downloaded Videos: Some apps, like Netflix, can download videos for offline watching. That’s great for when you’re on a long flight, but if you forget to delete the videos, they can consume a lot of space. This option shows them to you and lets you swipe left on any one to delete it.

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  • Review Large Attachments: Photos, videos, and other files sent to you in Messages can take up a lot of space. This recommendation reveals them and lets you swipe left to delete those you don’t need to keep.

  • “Recently Deleted” Album: When you delete photos in the Photos app, they go into the Recently Deleted album, where they’ll be deleted automatically after up to 40 days. This recommendation lets you remove those images right away.

  • Review Personal Videos: Shooting videos with your iPhone or iPad can guzzle storage, so this recommendation shows you the videos you’ve taken in case you don’t want to keep them.

iOS’s recommendations are quite good and may be all you need to clear space quickly. However, if you need to dig deeper, you can look at the usage of individual apps.

Individual App Usage

The third and final section of the iPhone/iPad Storage screen lists every app on your device, sorted by how much space it takes up. Along with the app’s name and how much space it consumes, iOS helpfully tells you the last time you used the app. You may even see “Never Used” for older apps that you’ve carried over from previous devices but haven’t opened on this one.

When you tap an app, iOS shows more information about how much space the app and its documents occupy, and lets you tap Offload App or Delete App to recover its space. For some apps, mostly those from Apple, like Music and Podcasts, iOS also shows the data stored by the app and lets you delete any individual item (swipe left).

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Focus on the apps at the top of the list—the list is sorted by size—since it will be a lot easier to realize, for instance, that you’ve never used GarageBand and recover its 1.59 GB of space than to sort through a long list of apps and their data.

With all these the tools from Apple, you should have no trouble making space on your device for more photos, videos, and apps that you actually want to use.

Gone Phishing: Five Signs That Identify Scam Email Messages

A significant danger to businesses today is phishing—the act of forging email to fool someone into revealing login credentials, credit card numbers, or other sensitive information. Of course, phishing is a problem for individuals too, but attackers more frequently target businesses for the same reason as bank robber Willie Sutton’s apocryphal quote about why he robbed banks: “Because that’s where the money is.”

The other reason that businesses are hit more often is that they have multiple points of entry—an attacker doesn’t need to go after a technically savvy CEO when they can get in by fooling a low-level employee in accounting. So company-wide training in identifying phishing attempts is absolutely essential.

Here are some tips you can share about how to identify fraudulent email messages. If you’d like us to put together a comprehensive training plan for your company’s employees, get in touch.

Beware of email asking you to reveal information, click a link, or sign a document

The number one thing to watch out for is any email that asks you to do something that could reveal personal information, expose your login credentials, get you to sign a document online, or open an attachment that could install malware. Anytime you receive such a message out of the blue, get suspicious.

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If you think the message might be legitimate, confirm the request “out of band,” which means using another form of communication. For instance, if an email message asks you to log in to your bank account “for verification,” call the bank using a phone number you get from its Web site, not one that’s in the email message, and ask to speak to an account manager or someone in security.

Beware of email from a sender you’ve never heard of before

This is the email equivalent of “stranger danger.” If you don’t know the sender of an email that’s asking you do something out of the ordinary, treat it with suspicion (and don’t do whatever it’s asking!). Of course, that doesn’t mean you should be entirely paranoid—business involves contact with unknown people who might become customers or partners, after all—but people who are new to you shouldn’t be asking for anything unusual.

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Beware of email from large companies for whom you’re an anonymous customer

Attackers often forge email so it appears to come from a big company like Apple, Google, or PayPal. These companies are fully aware of the problem, and they never send email asking you to log in to your account, update your credit card information, or the like. (If a company did need you to do something along these lines, it would provide manual instructions so you could be sure you weren’t working on a forged Web site designed to steal your password.)

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Since sample email from large companies is easy to come by, these phishing attacks can look a lot like legitimate email. Aside from the unusual call to action, though, they often aren’t quite right. If something seems off in an email from a big company, it probably is.

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Beware of email from a trusted source that asks for sensitive information

The most dangerous form of this sort of attack is spear phishing, where an attacker targets you personally. A spear phishing attack involves email forged to look like it’s from a trusted source—your boss, a co-worker, your bank, or a big customer. (The attacker might even have taken over the sender’s account.) The email then requests that you do something that reveals sensitive information or worse. In one famous spear-phishing incident, employees of networking firm Ubiquiti Networks were fooled into wiring $46.7 million to accounts controlled by the attackers.

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Beware of email that has numerous spelling and grammar mistakes

Many phishing attacks come from overseas, and attackers from other countries seldom write English correctly. So no matter who a message purports to come from, or what it’s asking you to do, if its spelling, grammar, and capitalization are atrocious, it’s probably fraudulent. (This is yet another reason why it’s important to write carefully when sending important email—if you’re sloppy, the recipient might think the message is fake.)

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One of the best ways to train employees about the dangers of phishing is with security awareness testing, which involves sending your own phishing messages to employees and seeing who, if anyone, falls for it. Again, if you need help doing this, let us know.



Ever Wanted to Get a Custom Email Address? Here’s How (and Why)

Some facts about ourselves are difficult or impossible to change, but your email address doesn’t have to be one of them. Switching to a custom email address might seem overwhelming, and it will take some time, but it’s not that hard or expensive (and we’re always happy to help if you get stuck).

Why Consider Switching to a Custom Address?

Why would you want to take on such a task? Independence. If you’re using the email address that came from your Internet service provider, you could end up in an awkward situation if you have to move and switch ISPs. Any address that ends in @comcast.net, @anything.rr.com, @verizon.net, @earthlink.net, or the like could be problematic. You also don’t want to rely entirely on a work email address—there’s no guarantee that your employer will forward email for you indefinitely if you take a different job.

Also, an email address says something about you, much as a postal address does—there’s a difference between an address on Central Park versus one in the Bronx. If you’re not happy with what your email address implies, you might want to switch.

What can an email address reveal? Those with a free Juno, Hotmail, or Yahoo account likely signed up years ago and don’t take email very seriously. People who use an @icloud.com, @me.com, or @mac.com address are clearly Apple users, and those with an address ending in @live.com, @msn.com, or @outlook.com are probably Windows users. .edu addresses identify students, teachers, and school employees—but if you’re not one anymore, your email looks like you’re wearing a varsity jacket in your 40s. The big kahuna of email is Gmail, which boasts about 1.5 billion users worldwide now—as a result, using a Gmail address is fairly generic.

The ultimate in independence comes when you register your own domain name, which usually costs less than $20 per year at sites like 1&1 IonosDomain.comeasyDNSDirectnic, and Register.com. Then your address can be anything you want at your new custom domain, and you never again have to worry about being tied to your ISP or associated with a free email host.

How to Change to a Custom Address

Step 1: Register a new domain name. The hard part here is thinking of a name that hasn’t already been taken. It’s best to stick with the traditional top-level domains like .com, .net, and .org—if you get into the new ones like .beer (yes, that’s available), your email is a bit more likely to be marked as spam. Most domain registrars will also host your email for you, and if you go this route, you can skip Step 2.

Step 2: If you’re already using Gmail or another independent email provider that isn’t tied to your ISP, log in to your account at your domain registrar and configure it to forward all email to your existing email address. In this case, you can skip Steps 3 and 4.

However, if you aren’t happy with your current email provider, you’ll need to set up an account with a new one. There are lots, but many people use a paid email provider like FastMail or easyMail that usually charges less than $50 per year and supports multiple mailboxes. When you set up the account, you’ll need to create one or more new email addresses at the provider and configure MX (mail exchange) records with your domain registrar—the service will provide instructions for this.

Step 3: If you’re changing email providers as part of this process, you’ll need to configure Mail—or whatever email client you’re using—to connect to your new email account with the login credentials you set up. That’s not hard, but being able to send email that comes from your custom address can require some effort with the free email providers. Gmail provides instructions, and others that support this feature will as well. Unfortunately, iCloud won’t let you send email using a custom address.

Step 4: If you’re moving to a new email provider, you’ll need to forward your mail from your old provider to your new custom address. Most email providers and ISPs have a screen somewhere in the account settings of their Web sites that lets you enter a forwarding address.

Step 5: Tell your family, friends, and colleagues about your new email address, and update mailing lists and accounts at sites like Amazon that send you email. The forwarding you set up in the previous step will ensure you don’t miss anything during the transition, but remember that if you cancel your old ISP account, that forwarding may end immediately, so it’s important to start the process well in advance.

The details will vary depending on your choice of domain registrar and email provider, so again, if you would like additional recommendations or assistance in setting all this up, just let us know.



Here’s How to Capture a Full-Screen Screenshot of a Web Page

You know that Command-Shift-3 takes a screenshot of the entire screen and Command-Shift-4 lets you pick a window, menu, or arbitrary selection for your screenshot. And Mojave introduced Command-Shift-5 to give you an interface to screenshots and screen recordings. But how would you capture a screenshot of a long Web page that requires scrolling? Rather than stitching multiple screenshots together, try this trick in the Google Chrome Web browser. Control-click anywhere on a page you want to capture and choose Inspect. Press Command-Shift-P to open Chrome’s Developer Tools command menu. Type “capture” and then click “Capture full size screenshot” to download a screenshot of the page as a PNG file. (When you’re done, close the Developer Tools by clicking the X in the upper-right corner.)



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Too chilly to charge?

When it’s cold out, you can always throw on a sweater to stay warm. But your electronics are more reptilian—they can get sluggish or even fail to work in freezing weather. (No, that’s not what iPod Socks were designed to fix.) Worse, charging batteries at low temperatures or moving tech gear between extreme temperature ranges can cause damage.

There’s a difference between temperatures your devices can withstand when you’re actively using them and when they’re just being stored. Manufacturers usually publish the environmental requirements for devices, though it may take a little searching to find the details. Here are the ranges for the devices you’re most likely to care about:

  • iPhone/iPad: Operating temperatures from 32° to 95° F (0° to 35° C) and nonoperating temperatures from −4° to 113° F (−20° to 45° C)

  • MacBook (Air/Pro): Operating temperatures from 50° to 95° F (10° to 35° C) and storage temperatures from −13° to 113° F (−25° to 45° C)

It’s easy to imagine wanting to use an iPhone in temperatures below freezing or a MacBook outdoors on a crisp autumn day. And in fact, they probably won’t stop working entirely. After all, putting your iPhone in your pocket next to your body will keep it warmer than the outside air, and it will take a while to cool down. But you shouldn’t be surprised by crashes, shutdowns, or other unusual behavior if you do use your device below its recommended operating temperature for a while.

Batteries Hate Working in the Cold

The main problem is that batteries prefer to be used in moderate temperatures (they hate heat even more than cold). When batteries get cold, they appear to discharge more quickly. That’s because the chemical reactions that generate electricity proceed more slowly at lower temperatures, and thus produce less current. The weak discharge fools the device’s power management circuitry into thinking that the battery is nearly dead; hence the shutdowns. Once your device has had a chance to warm up, the battery should revive.

However, don’t charge batteries when it’s very cold, as in −4° F (−20° C). Doing so can cause plating of the graphite anode in the battery, which will reduce battery performance.

Other Technologies That Dislike Cold

Two other standard bits of technology don’t like operating in the cold either: hard drives and LCD screens.

Hard drives aren’t nearly as common as they used to be, particularly in laptops that are likely to be left outside in cold cars. Most have a minimum operating temperature of 32° F (0° C), and you’re unlikely to want to use a laptop in temperatures lower than that. In very cold temperatures, the lubricant inside the drive can become too viscous to allow the motor to spin up the platters. Although solid-state drives have no moving parts, most are rated for the same minimum operating temperature, oddly enough.

LCD screens can also have problems. Extreme cold can slow their response times, leading to slow or jerky screen drawing. OLED displays, such as in the iPhone X, XS, and XS Max, withstand cold significantly better—some OLED displays are rated for temperatures as low as −40º (which—trivia tip!—is the same in Fahrenheit and Celsius).

Avoid Temperature Swings

Regardless of whether you want to use your devices in cold weather, you’ll extend their lifespans if you don’t regularly expose them to significant temperature swings. There are two reasons for this: condensation and thermal expansion.

Those who wear glasses know that when you come into a warm house from the cold, your glasses immediately fog up with condensation. That’s true even though most houses are quite dry in the winter. Wait a few minutes, and the condensation evaporates back into the air. The same can happen with any electronic device that’s open to the air, and moisture inside electronics is never good. It’s thus best to let electronics warm up slowly (and in their cases or boxes) to reduce the impact of condensation.

Finally, as you remember from high school science, objects expand when heated and contract when cooled. The amount they expand and contract may be very small, but the tolerances inside electronics are often extremely tight, and even the tiniest changes can cause mechanical failures, particularly with repeated cycles of expanding and contracting. Try to avoid subjecting devices to significant temperature swings on a regular basis or you may find yourself replacing them more frequently than you’d like.

In the end, our advice is to keep your gear warm whenever possible, and if you must use it in temperatures below freezing, be aware that battery life and screen responsiveness may be reduced.

STOP THE PRESSES!!! Breaking news about Facetime!!

Apple Has Disabled Group FaceTime to Prevent Pre-call Eavesdropping


A serious bug has been discovered in Apple’s Group FaceTime multi-person video chat technology. It allows someone to call you via FaceTime and then, with just a few simple steps, listen in on audio from your iPhone, iPad, or Mac while the call is ringing, before you have accepted or rejected it. To prevent the problem from being exploited, Apple says it has disabled Group FaceTime and promises a fix “later this week.”

In the meantime, if you’re still concerned (there were some reports of people being able to invoke the bug even after Apple disabled Group FaceTime), we recommend turning off FaceTime entirely in Settings > FaceTime in iOS and by launching the FaceTime app in macOS and then choosing FaceTime > Turn FaceTime Off. (Or just be quiet when a FaceTime call comes in.) Apple may be able to fix the problem without requiring users to update software; if iOS and macOS updates do prove to be necessary, we recommend that you install them sooner rather than later.

Don’t Use Rules in Apple’s Mail to Send “Out of Office” Replies

It’s helpful to unplug occasionally and ignore email while on vacation or otherwise away from your work routine. And it’s a good idea to set up a vacation auto-responder to tell correspondents what to do in your absence. It might be tempting to create such an auto-reply with a rule in Mail on the Mac, but resist the temptation! It’s way too easy to end up sending replies to every message from a mailing list or to addresses that will themselves reply back, causing a mail loop where each message generates another reply, ad infinitum. Instead, always set up such auto-responders in the server settings for your email provider, which are better about avoiding mail loops. Here are instructions for GmailiCloudOutlook.comSpectrumXfinity/Comcast, and Yahoo. If you use a different email provider, the instructions will likely be similar; check with your provider for details.

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Spam..Not Just a tasty treat.

We’ve all been there. Well I hope not. 

Rephrase. 

We have all seen the clutter in our inbox. (Yes, that’s better.) We want it to STOP! With all the tools out there, it still gets through. We need to do our part to identify what is malicious and what to avoid.

Where does spam come from? 

There’s no one place that we get all these unsolicited emails from. The real question is WHY? The answer for most, MONEY. I have a great crawfish boil recipe, as stated in newsletters in the past. Let’s say I wanted to sell my recipe for $5 (Sorry, I won’t). I could go online and buy a list of emails for $0.10/ea and just send thousands for the hope I could easily make my money back from a few purchases. This is just a small example of a minor spam operation. The major ones get more devious.

Email Phishing – This kind of email scam generally continues onto our next section. You will receive an email from someone asking you to view an invoice, document, etc. To view this, you may be directed to a sign in site with Office, Google, or Exchange sign in screens. Once you enter your credentials, which will error out, they have access to your account and your contact list to begin spamming your contacts, create email rules to delete email coming in, and possibly gaining admin access to the email account as a whole. How can you prevent this? Your email provider will never ask for your password. If you do click on a link that takes you to a website, take a look at the address bar. This is generally not filled with legitimate Microsoft or Google addresses. 

Email Spoofing- This is where it can become scary. We see an email from someone we know asking for a gift card, wire transfer, or anything related to a payment. The spammer also states they are not available to talk. This can cause unauthorized access to bank accounts or transactions.

Can it be stopped? Most spammers keep their email and servers active for very short periods of time. This makes the filtering of this email very difficult. If you do receive something out of the ordinary, contact your IT support and the individual that email is getting spoofed by phone. This will immediately let you know it is a scam. Are you at your desktop or laptop? Most emails will show you the actual address when you place your cursor over the name. This is a telltale sign the individual isn’t who they say they are. In the end, we must stay vigilant as end users to keep ourselves and the individuals we interact with, safe. Want to find out more and how to stay safe? Contact us at info@macitsolutions.com

 

 

 

Beep..Beep..Backups.

Backups. Cloud? Local? Differential? Offsite Replication?

Now that I have you thoroughly confused, let’s ask the big question. “Am I backed up?”

We have all been there at least once. We have an accident. Our phones are left on the car as we drive away. A bookshelf makes its way down to the floor and catching our laptop on the way down. Thanks Newton! Where is my data now? How can I get to it? I have had to come to the realization that sometimes a fresh start is what was needed. Other times we have our businesses on our devices and can’t afford for this to happen. If we take it one step further and your business is held hostage by ransomware, now what? Are you willing to pay 1000 Bitcoins to get your data back? (I did the conversion, it’s a lot) The answer to these questions and incidents is backups. 

Definition - What does Backup mean?

Backup refers to the process of making copies of data or data files to use in the event the original data or data files are lost or destroyed. Secondarily, a backup may refer to making copies for historical purposes, such as for longitudinal studies, statistics or for historical records or to meet the requirements of a data retention policy.

How do backups work?

Depending on your environment, there can be one or combinations of tools as your backup solution. 

            Full and Incremental Backups – This starts with a full backup of all information followed by only modified files backed up to the storage destination. A backup like this allows the search and recovery of file versions. Was there information on that file that was there Monday but deleted Thursday? We can go find that Monday file. 

            Differential Backups – These backups begin with a full backup then anything that has changed since the full backup. This is similar to the Incremental backups but there is no archive record when the backups were done or how data was changed. This tool is used for many large medical databases to backup important PHI onsite and offsite for disaster recovery purposes. 

            Full System Clone – These backups are full copies of your system. These copies are also bootable. This means in the event of an internal hardware failure, the system can run from external media like an external hard drive. 

There are many other options to make sure your personal data is secure and backed up as well as your business data. We offer the appropriate solution for your need. Contact us to find out more about the custom backup solution we can tailor for you needs. 

Find Out More

            

 

Can you get hacked? Yes.

Our lives live online. We hope that that combination of 8-10 characters, an upper and lower case letter, and numbers are enough to keep our important info safe. 

  This is going to serve as an initial guide to protecting yourself in this connected world. I am here to take you through a journey of tips and best practices to understand how to get the most out of your internet security.

Step 1 – Updates

  Developers update their apps for all sorts of reasons. Some of the main reasons they update are bugs and security vulnerabilities. Do you have a smart phone? Are you up to date? There are very few reasons you should still have that little red number on your App Store or Settings App. Take some time and run those updates. 

  This applies to your computers as well. Attackers exploit old browsers, old operating systems that are not supported anymore, PDF readers, Office applications, etc. Hackers are looking for the easies route. Don’t give that to them. 

 

Step 2 – Passwords

  What makes a good password? We have all of the stipulations and password requirements but as stated previously, we end up using the same combinations. We are creatures of habit. We have the tendency to come up with that one password and change it just enough to get by the “password expired” messages. We are lucky to live in a world of Apps for this. Password managers help develop complex passwords that can be kept under a figurative lock and key. You need to make that key complex as well. A best practice is making your master password a memorable passphrase with spaces and periods. Your available options for password managers are numerous but LastPass and 1Password are some of the more popular. 

 

Step 3 – Two Factor Authentication

  While a complex password is a great first step to security we can go one step further. Two Factor Authentication requires a numeric code that is sent to a second device, usually a smart phone, to allow you to login. If your site allows 2FA, use it, especially if it is important to you. There are sites that will give you the 2FA tool if the current site does not have it. Twofactorauth.org does a good job at integrating into some, not all sites, to secure your login.

 

This is just a snippet of information you can do to make yourself more secure. Don’t make it easy to get compromised. Want to find out more? info@macitsolutions.com

PSA: Be on the Look Out for Phishing Emails

One of the most important things you can do to stay safe on the Internet, especially this time of year is to be very careful while reading email. That’s because online criminals know that we’re all busy, and we often don’t pay enough attention to the details of what we’re reading or where we’re clicking. 

 

To take advantage of our inattention, these Internet information thieves forge email messages to look like they come from the likes of Apple, Office365, and Amazon, along with well-known banks, payment services, retailers, and even government agencies.

The goal? To get you to click a link in the message and visit a malicious Web site. That site usually continues to masquerade as being run by a company or organization you trust. Its aim is to sucker you into revealing confidential information by asking you to log in to "verify your identity" or to "prevent unauthorized access". The site—or an attachment in the email message—might also try to install malware. Although macOS is quite secure, if you approve security prompts, it can still be infected.

Although phishing is a huge problem that costs businesses hundreds of millions of dollars every year, you can easily identify phishing messages by looking for telltale signs:

1.  Be suspicious of email messages, particularly from people you don’t know or from well-known companies, that ask you to click a link and do something with an online account.

2.  Look closely at email addresses and URLs (hover the pointer over a link to see the underlying URL). Phishing messages don’t use official domains, so instead of paypal.com, the addresses and links might use paypa1.com—close enough to pass a quick glance, but clearly a fake.

3.  Watch out for highly emotional or urgent requests. They’re designed to make you act without thinking. Take any such messages with a grain of salt.

4. Channel your inner English teacher and look for poor grammar or odd phrasing, which are red flags for phishing messages. Email from real companies may not be perfect, but it won’t have multiple egregious errors.

So what do you do if you get a message that may be phishing for sensitive information? Most of the time you can just ignore it. If you’re worried that it might be legit, instead of clicking any links in the message, navigate to the site in question manually by typing the organization’s URL into your browser—use a URL that you know to be correct, not the one in the email message. Whatever you do, do not open attachments that you aren’t expecting and never send confidential information via email.

If you think you’ve fallen prey to a phishing attack and given away a password, you’ll want to change passwords on any affected accounts. If you’ve opened any attachments or approved any installs, run anti-malware software to determine whether your Mac has been infected. Please feel free to contact us if you need any help or have questions. And remember, regular backups protect you from a multitude of sins.

Be safe and smart.

Don't do it! Just say no to the Fusion Drive!

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There are two basic types of storage devices available on the market today: traditional platter style or hard disk drives and solid-state drives.

For the lowest cost per gigabyte, you can’t go wrong with a hard drive, and they come in truly massive sizes—up to a whopping 8 terabytes. However, they’re slow and their performance is lacking especially with the technological demands we place on computers todays.

For speed and reliability, you want a solid-state drive, also known as an SSD. Because SSDs rely on flash storage, a type of non-volatile memory whose chips retain data without power, they’re lightning fast. But chips are more expensive than hard disk platters and read/write heads, so the $250–$300 that will get you an 8 TB hard drive is enough for only a 1 TB SSD.

So in 2012, Apple came up with an ill begotten compromise: the Fusion Drive. As its name suggests, a Fusion Drive is meant to provide the best of both worlds by providing much of the speed of an SSD along with the capacity of a hard drive. However, in reality it is a Frankenstein monstrosity that should never enter a business office.

While it is true that you might be able to get away with a Fusion Drive in a machine intended for home use – it will never be able to handle a substantial work load.

To make matters worse, many Apple stores' only stock options for the iMac and Mac mini have  Fusion Drives. This means that you have to special order a machine to avoid getting stuck with the curse of rainbow wheel which will be your inevitable fate as the Fusion Drive gets stuck switching between the two sides of itself.

One final note. As of this writing, macOS 10.13 High Sierra will not convert a Fusion Drive to Apple’s new APFS file system. We anticipate that will change at some point in the next year, and it is true that APFS might make Fusion Drives a little bit faster though not necessarily anymore reliable.

All that said, if you want the best performance and can afford the cost you should get an SSD. Should you need more space than an SSD can provide, consider using the SSD internally and adding an external hard drive connected via USB 3 or Thunderbolt 3. With today’s technological demands, we cannot in good faith recommend purchasing a computer with a hard disk drive as the primary storage for a Mac unless low cost is absolutely paramount. A hard disk drive's performance just won’t cut it anymore. Which is partly why the Fusion Drive fails to deliver.

PSA: Beware Tech Support Scams

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Apple does a great job with Macs, iPhones, and iPads, but stuff goes wrong all the time—as real professional providers of technical support we know that better than anyone.

So, tech support scams that try to defraud unsuspecting users in the name of fixing problems that don’t exist really, really, really get under our skin. Therefore, we’ve put together some helpful tips on how to protect yourself.

Let’s Break Down How These Scams Work

Step 1 of being a horrible human being trying to trick innocent computer users is trying to get you on the phone. You might see an alarming pop-up message informing you of some problem—possibly even that you’ve contracted a virus or your identity has been compromised-and then helpfully providing a number to call for help. Or possibly you end up on a Web site that offers a free “security scan” that claims it will help you find problems and urges you with scary language to call. Heck, now a days you may   even receive a direct call from someone claiming to be from Apple, Google, or Microsoft—Doug gets these all the time.

Now once they get you on the line, the sleaze balls’ next objective is to convince you to pay them to solve your “problem.”

They do this by throwing around technical terms and having you look at low-level files that, they’ll say, show evidence of issues like malware infection or file corruption. They may even ask for remote access to your Mac using legitimate software like TeamViewer and use it to show you log messages that look like concerning errors.

If you fall for this tech talk, the scammers close in for the kill. They may ask for your credit card number to pay for the “services” they’ve rendered, enroll you in a fake maintenance or warranty program, sell you software that is normally available as a free download, or install malware that will give them continued access to your computer. No bueno.

 

Here is How to Protect Yourself from These Scam-holes

- First, never ever call a phone number that appears in a pop-up dialog, no matter what it says. Legitimate messages will never ask you to do that.

- If you get an unexpected call from someone you don’t know claiming to be tech support, hang up immediately. Don’t be fooled by caller ID, since it can be spoofed to look like the call is coming from a legitimate company, like Apple.

- Don’t give your passwords to anyone who contacts you on the phone, and never allow anyone you haven’t met in person (and trust!) to control your Mac remotely.

- Lastly, if you are even remotely unsure about whether a pop-up or phone call is legitimate or a scam artist—CALL US! We’d be happy to talk with the supposed tech support or check your machine to see if there really is anything wrong with. That is what we are here for.

Now, the awkward part here is that, if we do provide tech support for you and particularly if we’re providing you with proactive notification of problems, we may need to call you and even ask for remote control of your Mac. However, we will always identify ourselves clearly, and if you’re at all concerned, you can call us back at a contact number you already have or ask us for some piece of information no scammer could know. Its always better to be safe than sorry.

 

If You Do Get Con’ed, Here Are the Next Steps

First, we’re here to help you for real. So, please feel free to contact us for assistance. That said, there are three main things to focus on:

- Change any passwords that you shared to something completely different. Do NOT add numbers or symbols to the password you currently use. Do NOT use a simplar password. Do NOT pass go—its’s a bummer but its gotta be completely differently (side note: the longer the password the better, think passpharses). Plus, if you use the same passwords on any Web sites, change those passwords too.

- If you have legitimate anti-malware software, run it to make sure the scammer didn’t install anything evil on your Mac—or call us and we will do that for you. If you don’t have up-to-date anti-malware software, contact us to see what we recommend.

- If you paid for any bogus services, call your credit card company as soon as possible and reverse the charges. You can also report the incident to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.

Finally, you need to beware of the “refund scam.” Several months after you’ve been scammed, you might get a call asking if you were satisfied with the service and offering a refund if you weren’t happy, or saying that the company is filing for bankruptcy and providing refunds. Either way, the scammer will then ask for your bank account or credit card number to process the refund, but instead of depositing money, the heathens will steal more. Yes, unfortunately people actually do this. If you get a call like this, hang up immediately.

Does your company have a Mobile Device Management policy?

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Workplace mobility has become one of the highly sought-after characteristics of many job-seekers.  A list of the 100 top companies with work from home jobs was recently published by www.flexjobs.com (https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/100-top-companies-with-work-from-home-jobs-in-2016) The list includes companies like Dell, Amazon, Humana, American Express, and, of course, Apple. Why has this trend increased year over year?

 

The ability to work remotely has unique advantages recognized by many employers. According to www.remotenation.co, when an employer offers a flexible work arrangement, employees are happier, leading to increased morale and higher retention rates. In addition to this, workplace mobility hits the bottom line by saving money that would have been used for more workspace. 

Years ago, workplace mobility meant company-issued laptops, Blackberries, and modems. Palm pilots were all the fad and email was the “in” thing. In 2007, that all changed with the introduction of the iPhone. Today, the remote office has become the “Bring-Your-Own-Device” (BYOD) phenomenon. In fact, BYOD is becoming CYOD (“Choose-Your-Own-Device). And today, the “Internet of Things” (IOT) is working its way into all aspects of life thanks to the Apple Watch and other wearables.

Think about this. If your company offers a flex job situation, your employees are not only taking work home, but they can be potentially, if not inadvertently, sharing this information with 3rd parties. Does your business have an effective Mobile Device Management (MDM) policy? What is MDM anyway?

MDM is the policy set forth by your company to manage all devices linked to your business. This policy includes the software, deployment, and execution that will be used in conjunction with your business’s workplace mobility standards. Without an MDM policy in place, your employee-owned iPhone or Apple Watch is a disaster waiting to happen. There are inherent risks when your business offers employees a remote work/BYOD/CYOD opportunity. Consider the following:

  • Insecure work data
  • Lack of control parameters
  • A lost or stolen device

With those risks and many more, your company needs to have an effective MDM policy that will present a unified strategy with strategic controls in place. MDM can help to ensure that your company’s information is kept safe, both on company and employee provided devices.

Mac IT Solutions offers MDM support so that you can focus on the day to day dealings of your business without worrying about the security of your data. Let Mac IT Solutions partner with you and assist with a customized MDM policy that will meet your business goals and ensure that the information you need to be kept secure will not fall into the wrong hands. 

Call us today for a free consultation. We can be reached at (210) 767-3303 or email info@macitsolutions.com to schedule an appointment. 

For further reading:

http://www.itworld.com/article/2742154/mobile/how-mobile-device-management-works.html

http://betanews.com/2016/01/27/what-you-need-to-know-about-mobile-device-management/

http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/01/how-the-smartphone-changed-everything-or-the-rise-of-byod-in-the-workplace/

http://remotenation.co/blog/remote-working-on-the-rise-creating-happier-employees/

http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-ways-byod-will-evolve-in-2016/

Malware - Can you trust a Mac?

It’s been an experience that many people have endured: a PC starts slowing down; an annoying ad consistently pops up every other click; the dreaded black screen of death. Does this sound familiar? If it doesn’t, you’re probably on a Mac. Congratulations!

With the attention given to computer viruses lately, many Mac users have had the same question: Can my Mac be infected by malware? What is Malware anyway?

Malware (AKA “malicious” software) is software created by scrupulous individuals or groups who want to either harm your computer or gain access to the information stored in your computer.  I’m happy to tell you that malware on a Mac is an extremely rare occurrence. There are a few reasons for this.

First, your Mac is built on the UNIX Operating System. UNIX is a trusted brand in the industry and it is known for its stability and longevity. Developed in the 1970s, UNIX has been around for over 40 years (www.unix.org). 

Next, many viruses and malware are designed for the Microsoft Windows OS. Since virus-makers are most familiar with Microsoft Windows, it very easy for them to create those nasty little bugs and worms that creep into many Windows-based machines. 

On the contrary, your Mac OS X is not only easy to use and beautiful to look at, it comes with top notch security features. Go here for more information: http://www.apple.com/osx/what-is/security/

Now, for all the fun, coolness, and unsurpassed stability our beloved Macs offer us, we can’t throw caution out the window (no pun intended). As a business, and as an individual Mac owner, you will want to take steps for protection. Here are a few:

  1. Make sure the latest Apple security updates are installed

Mac OS X will typically be set up for any automatic updates. You can also initiate an update from the App Store by selecting the “Updates” icon. To view or modify your Mac’s update preferences, just go to the Apple menu then select System Preferences. Next, click App Store.

  1. Don’t use your Administrator account for your general use.

The Administrator account allows many changes to take place in your system. Create a separate standard account that will be the “front line” of defense. To do this, go to System Preferences and select Users & Groups. If your Mac is subject to a Malware attack, using a standard account will isolate the attack to that account only. 

  1. Only open files from known sources

If you ever receive an unsolicited pop-up asking you for your Administrator password, your first instinct should be to decline unless it is from a known source (such as a legitimately installed program).

Mac IT Solutions can detect and remove viruses as well as provide security layers on your network that shield against malware attacks on your Mac. To safeguard your business or, if you have any questions, please contact us at (210) 767-3303 or email info@macitsolutions.com to schedule an appointment.