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 10/17/13:  Until such time as Microsoft releases a touch-optimized version of Office for the iPad, there’s only one solution.  Microsoft released (free) software for iOS and Android which allows them to connect via Remote Desktop Client, so that tablets and phones can connect to desktop computers using MS Office.  It’s a good bet that, since Win 8 is already touch-optimized, Microsoft may eventually make the move to a full MS Office for both Microsoft and other tablets.

 9/18/13:  iOS 7 tips & featuresCaller block (go to contact entry, scroll to bottom, select “block this caller”); Use Compass app as a level (swipe to left, it turns green when its level); Gesture to right or left in Safari to move pages, among other new gestures; To access Spotlight search, swipe from the middle of the screen downwards; There’s more weather info than before, and for even more just tap the temperature; The new Control Panel, found by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, provides quick access to frequently used settings; Flashlight is built-in now (tap the icon in the lower left corner of the screen); Siri can now be used to toggle settings, create iTunes radio stations and search sites; Siri can also be changed to a man’s voice through Settings>general>Siri>gender; Face Time Audio now works with other iOS 7 users in Wi-Fi mode; Swiping to the right in Messages reveals the time stamp; iOS 7 folders can now hold an unlimited number of apps, not just 16; You can make the new Helvitica Neue font easier to read by going to Settings>accessibility>toggle bold text option; Burst Mode in camera will take 10 photos in quick succession if you hold down the shutter, great for taking night photos, as well as the new slo-mo and other features; To restrict apps which use up battery and air time, there’s a built-in setting to adjust this at Settings>Cellular, then toggle the apps on or off.  And lots more.  These are just the fun things. There are supposed to be over 200 changes to iOS 6.  And don’t forget the introduction of iBeacon technology, tracking you to within 3 feet to send you advertisements on your cell phone.

 12/3/12:  iTunes 11 is available for download. It’s a complete rewrite from previous versions, an effort to reduce the complexity of previous versions.

 9/12/12:  Apple rolled out it’s updated iPod today.  (Yes, they still make them.)  The Touch will look more like the larger iPhone, and will be thinner (6.1mm thick) and lighter (3.1 ozs.).  It will also include Siri commands and will run OS 6.  Finally, it will have a 5 megapixel camera, complete with rear facing camera, auto-focus and flash.  The Nano has been updated as well, slimmed down to 5mm thick, and with a larger 2.5 inch touchscreen display.  It will have new features, such as a built-in pedometer and an FM radio (including a feature that allows you to pause and resume music).  All will have newly designed earbuds (rounder, and with two sound grilles each), but will also use the new smaller input plug introduced with the iPhone5. The Touch will be priced at $299 (32Gb) and $399 (64Gb) and the Nano at $149 (16Gb), both to be available in October.

 9/12/12:  Apple introduced the iPhone5, featuring a larger display (3.5” to 4”, room for another row of icons; but the resolution remains at 326 ppi), thinner profile by 18% (20% lighter!) and faster chip (the A6 is 2x faster than the A5), a third microphone, and finally moving up to 4G LTE.  The breakable plastic back is now made of metal.  Camera remains essentially the same.  Google Maps is replaced with Apple’s own rather buggy version.  Also, the new iOS6 operating system, which introduces some 200 “new features” including navigation, FaceTime calling, Siri updates (like launching apps to use with your car).  As predicted (see below), Apple also eliminated the standard 30 pin dock connector used on some six thousand Apple devices since 2003 in favor of a smaller one dubbed “lightning” because of its faster speed.  A $30 adapter will be available; why they couldn’t just go to the micro-USB like everyone else is questionable. Same question for not including NFC or USB 3; also it won’t support iPod dock controls or video output.  Moreover, both the Verizon and Sprint networks won’t allow simultaneous call and data activity as Apple designed (AT&T’s can, although it really rolls back to it’s 3G network for voice).  All this is because current 4G networks can only handle data, not calls. Finally, Apple is also expected to introduce a new smaller version of the iPad just before the holiday season.  It’ll go on sale September 21st.

 7/25/12:  Apple releases the Mountain Lion version of it’s operating system.  It will offer features borrowed from mobile devices, making Mac personal computers work more like iPhones and iPads (much like Windows 8 will for PCs on October 26).  It will also have tighter integration with social networks and online file storage through iCloud. It will have better dictation software and a new Messages app, copied from the mobile O/S, will replace iChat. It will cost $20 and will only be available as a download, but Macs purchased after June 11 can be upgraded for free.

 7/12:  Word is that Apple is seriously considering a major redesign of the connector at the bottom of iPhones, iPads and iPods that syncs with iTunes.  The original ubiquitous 30 pin connector may be reduced to a 19 pin connector, a change facilitated by eliminating the older Firewire technology and merging dual pins into single ones.  This has already started with the MacBook Pro back in June, 2012 (an adaptor was available for the old connector), and will probably gradually continue with the rollout of the new iPhones later this year.  This means that mobile accessory and dock makers will have to adjust their manufacturing. Users probably won’t be happy either.

 7/10/12:  Apple experienced a glitch that caused apps downloaded from its online store to crash.  GoodReader posted a 24 step procedure to work around the problem, which involved DRM problems, effecting such programs as Angry Birds &, Huffington.  Apple fixed the problem in a couple of days, however, and there have been no further problems.

 6/11/12:  Apple announces that it has extended its “retina display” to the new line of MacBook Pros, also adding up to 16Gb of RAM and 768Gb of flash memory.  Still a hefty price, starting at $2199.  Also, the new Mountain Lion O/S (iOS 6), containing “over 2,000 new features” (including iMessages, speech-to-text dictation and predictive smart search in Safari) will be available in July.

 6/12:  Don’t forget that on June 30, 2012 MobileMe will cease to exist, ceding some of its apps to iCloud.  For some history and alternatives to those apps which will be discontinued or curtailed, click on the MobileMe definition.

 4/12:  If you’re looking for Mac anti-virus software, there are lots out there.  More popular among them are the donationware ClamXav and free Sophos.

 4/12:  I hear that, for those of you that want to view Flash files on your iPad or iPhone, you can install an app named “iSwifter” which is an alternative browser to Safari with Flash built in.  I haven’t tried it, but hear it works well.

 4/12:  Over 600,000 Macs have been infected with the Flashback Trojan virus.  See the Mashable Tech article with fixes at this link.  Either way, don’t forget to install the latest Apple updates to allow Java to fix the vulnerability that allowed the virus in the first place.  You might also consider a security suite like Avast, Sophos or Kaspersky, lock down your administrative privileges, remove or disable Java or Flash unless required and reinforcing your passwords. Click HERE for the Flashback removal tool for OSX and HERE for earlier versions.

 2/12:  Apple has announced that it will update its Mac operating systems once a year now, starting this year with 10.8, dubbed “Mountain Lion”.  ML will bring even more of the iPhone/iPad features to the Mac. Most notable will be the suite of Mac apps like Reminders, Notes, Messages and Game Center. Through your free iCloud account, all of these apps are synced instantly and smoothly across all your Apple gadgets. On the Mac, you type a reminder to yourself; it appears simultaneously on your iPhone.  Twitter is built into many of the Internet apps; the new Notification Center lets you know what’s going on in all the apps; and Game Center is new, as is Gatekeeper, a new security app that controls what can be installed.

Steve Jobs Headstone

 11/11:  Apple’s iOS 5 requires an Apple device running OS X Lion, or a PC running Windows Vista or later to access iCloud.  Just so you know.

 10/11:  Even if you have Apple’s rudimentary XProtect anti-virus software, you may not be well protected.  For example, the Flashback backdoor Trojan (one which poses as an update to Adobe Flash) will first disable XProtect, then infect your computer.  Things are getting worse for Macs.

 10/11:  A Trojan that masquerades as a PDF file about the Diaoyu or Senkaku islands (in China) is a virus that attacks Macs, according to the Mac Malware blog, which predicts that this was just a test to see what could be detected.  The Trojan uses an old Windows trick of “double extension” files, using a second extension to hide the fact that it is an executable file.

 Beware so-called “free” apps for your smart phone or pad.  While many start out free, there may be disclaimers that there may be a paid component.  So, when downloading apps like Smurf Village or TapPetHotel, be aware that althought the initial app is free, you or your kids may be prompted to pay for accessories for that “free” virtual pet, and this could add hundreds of dollars to your bills.

 7/6/11:  Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security has warned citizens that there is a bug in JailbreakMe 3.0, released last week, that could be used by criminals to hijack iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches.  The malicious exploit is infected through PDF documents and links throughout the Internet.  The exploit is similar to the situation when JailbreakMe 2.0 was released in August 2010.  Apple will no doubt patch this vulnerability quickly, as it did with the previous version.

 5/11:  Scareware has hit Apple.  Hundreds of thousands of Mac users have been subjected to fake anti-virus software going by the names Mac Defender, Mac Security, MacProtector and MacGuard. The primary purpose of the malicious software is to get the user’s credit card information, ultimately to use for fraudulent purposes.  It does this by taking advantage of Google image search results to trick users into installing the fake anti-virus software.  In response, Apple has rolled out a tool in its recent Mac OSX security update to spot and remove the malware, which includes an automatic malicious software tool.  But this is one area that Microsoft is, through experience, better than Apple, which has more lax administrator rights and accessability to the root directory.  Apple may have to include new security in its OS updates.  Also, don’t forget to download the Java update (SE 6.6.6.0_26) for protection.

 1/11:  Apple has released iOS 4.2.1.1, the latest update to it’s mobile operating system.  It’s a major upgrade for the iPhone, iPod and especially the iPad, as this marks the first time that iPad users have had access to core iOS 4 features.  Among the features are the “Find My iPhone” app, allowing you to locate, lock or wipe a missing device; also AirPrint, a wireless printing feature, as well as AirPlay, a media streaming feature.  Unfortunately, at the last minute, Apple pulled some AirPrint functions, limiting its ability to print to many Mac and Windows printers.

 You want to get your kids or grandkids an Apple device, but don’t want to be on the  hook for extra charges for texting and phoning.  Here’s an idea:  Get ‘em, say, an iPod Touch, which is pretty reasonable.  And it has Wi-Fi capability.  Then they can download, for free, TextFree for texting and Line2 for phoning, all of which is unlimited and free so long as they’re connected to any Wi-Fi network!  Problem solved.

 On October 26, 2010, Microsoft released Office 2011 for Mac.  All reviews agree that this was a huge improvement for Office for Mac, not only upgrading to the ribbon interface (as a supplement, not a replacement), but also bringing web access to the applications.  Since we service both platforms, we’re particularly happy to see better support for Outlook, allowing transfer of .pst files from PCs to Macs without the need for outside software and jumping through hoops!

 To see the Dictionary program that comes  with Mac OS X 10.5 and 10.6 display definitions, press the command key  and the space bar and then type a word into the Spotlight search bar;  you can also open the program from the Applications folder. But like its paper counterpart (the New Oxford American Dictionary), the Dictionary  program does much more than word definitions, even without an Internet  connection.

With Dictionary open on your screen, visit the Go menu at the top of  the screen and choose Front/Back Matter. Just like the front and back  pages of a standard dictionary, the app has all sorts of helpful  information, including a conversion table for weights and measures, a  list of chemical elements and their abbreviations, a chart depicting  proofreader’s marks, a grammar guide, a history of the English language  and the full text of the Declaration of Independence and the United  States Constitution.

 If you’re a user of LogMeIn software to access your home or office computer while you’re away from it, you may be glad to learn that LogMeIn has introduced Ignition, an app for the iPhone allowing you to access your Mac or PC from your iPhone.  It’s available from your iTunes store.

 Macs get patched the same as PCs these days.  Be sure to download the latest MAC monster update (10/09) that plugs 58 separate holes in the O/S.

 April, 2010:  For the past two years, Adobe Reader has led the pack in exploit vulnerabilities.  In 2008, Adobe Reader attacks comprised 28.61% of targeted attacks; in 2009, that number jumped to 49.5%; so far in 2010, it is 61.2%!  By contrast, Microsoft’s key products have dropped significantly - Word is at 24.3%, Excel 7.1% and Powerpoint 7.4%.  This is according to security company F-Secure.  It is key to your protection that you install Adobe Reader updates when prompted - the most recent one patched a major vulnerability.  Starting on April 13th, Adobe will be experimenting with automatic patch installs, no prompting to install the updates.  Same for Flash, Java and Acrobat.  Don’t be too smug if you’re running the Apple or Linux operating systems - these exploits will compromise these systems as well.  Be sure to patch and upgrade Adobe Reader, Acrobat, Flash and JavaScript promptly.  [Go to the Apple Support Downloads page.]

 While Macs certainly don’t get infected with as many malware and viruses as PCs, there are still lots of threats that have, in fact, infected Macs.  For an excellent recap of these threats, click HERE to see the Sophos article summarizing them.  Also, remember that the earliest known malware to spread by removable media, the Elk Cloner virus, was released in 1982 and attacked the Apple II OS.

Mac vs. PCWe’re all familiar with the Mac vs. PC ads on TV, featuring John Hodgman and Justin Long.  That Mac guy sure is full of himself.  So, it seems, are many who use Apple computers.  A survey by Internet ad outfit Mindset Media of 7,500 computer users showed that Mac-heads are generally more self-assured and less modest than PC-heads, reports the January 28 ‘09 Advertising Age.  They’re also more apt to be creative, perfectionist, and liberal in social mores and politics.  A Hunch 2011 survey found Mac users to be younger, more liberal, more fashion conscious and more likely to live in cities than PCs.  They found that while PC users' tastes trend towards casual clothes, tunafish sandwiches, white wine, Hollywood movies, USA Today and Pepsi, the Mac users generally prefer designer or vintage duds, hummus, red wine, indie films, The New York Times and (we're not making this up) San Pellegrino Limonata.

On August 28, 2009 Apple introduced it’s latest version of the Mac OS (V. 10.6), dubbed Snow Leopard.  There’s very little in the way of flashy features, but there are major changes under the hood, most of which will appeal to corporate users.  Foremost among them is built in support for Microsoft Exchange Mail (extremely important to corporate users and, strangely enough, an extra for Windows but included on the Mac), a new technology called Grand Central Dispatch (making it easier to take advantage of computers running (Intel) multiple processors), an advance in the O/S called OpenCL that enables programs to take better advantage of the more powerful graphic adapters on current computers, and a complete transition from 32-bit to 64-bit computing.  Mainly, the benefit is that it is smaller (7Gb, about 50% less) and faster and more polished than the previous version. There are, however, some noticeable enhancements:  Mac laptops now adjust their own clocks when you cross time zones; the wireless hot-spot menu now shows the signal strength for each; there’s a slider to make the desktop icons bigger or smaller; when you click on a folder icon on the dock, you can now see what’s in the folder and scroll through it, all without opening it; web plug-ins no longer shut down the entire browser, just leave a placeholder where the plug-in should be; and movies open up in full window mode with easy to use controls and a “Send to YouTube” option.  For the increase in speed along, it’s worth the $29 to $49 if your qualify for the upgrade, even if you don’t need the new features right now.

Leopard updates have caused some problems. the MacFixIt Web site (some parts require subscription) reports several problems, including incredibly slow load times when opening Office 2008 documents.  In addition, the site reports video issues, along with general sluggishness after the recent Leopard graphics update.  Remember, if you want to roll back to a previous OS X version (there are several ways to do so) and you’re running the Leopard platform, be sure to enable the Time Machine backup software so you can do this.  (Of course, note that MacFixIt says that the 10.5.2 update sometimes derails the Time Machine!)

FileMaker, a division of Apple, has introduced a simple, easy to use database for about $50.  Named Bento, it is intended for use with Leopard, the program refers to a database as a “library” and subsets of data as “collections”.  Apple makes the program easy to use by emulating the format for Apple’s popular iTunes.  Intended for individuals and small to medium sized businesses, it includes pre-created libraries for address book, events and tasks.  Bento is automatically connected to Apple’s built in calendar and contact programs and can be synched with Entourage and some other programs and using available third party software.   All in all, Bento can make a relatively daunting task quite easy.  Need something more?  Use Filemaker, pro or advanced versions.

The downside of success: Apple’s Macs have finally caught the eye of the evildoers, from ruthless file deleters to a host of macro viruses, who view this as a new, lucrative target market.  This growing concern has led Trend Micro to team up with Intego, a leading publisher of Internet security and privacy software for Macintosh, to provide comprehensive security solutions.  Click HERE for more information...

1/15/08:  Microsoft Office is so closely associated with Windows that few people realize that the first version, in 1989, was made for the Apple.  The newest upgrade, Office:mac 2008, is for the first time not a clone or watered version of the Windows Office suite.  It doesn’t sport the ribbon bar, instead offering the Elements Gallery, runs Exchange mail much more easily, and with the use of ligatures (special characters that combine two or more characters) provides a much more professional printed page.  You will need either Tiger or Leopard to upgrade.  Cost is $150 - $400. (Business Week, Tech & You, 1/7/08)

10/25/07:  Apple released its latest version of OS X, OS 10.5, dubbed Leopard (starting at $129 for single user upgrade).  There are many substantial improvements, and Windows and MAC users can still debate who came out with each of them first.  Prominent additions:  Quick Look (full size preview of contents of files), Stacks (columns of icons representing the contents of a dock icon), a redesigned Finder (again more graphically showing contents) with Cover Flow (a flip-type display borrowed from iTunes) and Time Machine (simplified file backup).  Unfortunately, Apple still doesn’t have System Restore, like PCs do.  Apple has tried to position 10.5 as a viable option for small and midsize enterprises, sporting a beefed-up mail server, group calendar and scheduler, integration with Active Directory and web hosting.  And, of course media creation, Apple’s forte.  Don’t try to install on older Macs, like the G3, ‘cause it won’t.

We’re all familiar with the Mac vs. PC ads on TV.  That Mac guy sure is full of himself.  So, it seems, are many who use Apple computers.  A survey by Internet ad outfit Mindset Media of 7,500 computer users showed that Mac-heads are generally more self-assured and less modest than PC-heads, reports the January 28 ‘09 Advertising Age.  They’re also more apt to be creative, perfectionist, and liberal in social mores and politics.

Check out the Latest Mac Additions, many free software downloads, as well as recent Mac news at softpedia.

Don’t forget that CNET has lots of excellent Mac downloads.

See the Rant page of this site for a discussion of Apple’s Boot Camp software, Parallels Desktop for Macintosh 4.0 (also there is a Parallels Desktop Switch to Mac Edition, with training DVD) and VMWare Fusion 2.0 which offer alternatives for running Windows programs and desktops on (Intel) Macintosh machines.  [These programs will also work well with Windows 7 I am told.]  Both are quite impressive, and useful for offices or homes with networks which have both PC and Mac machines on them.  A no-cost but more difficult alternative would be Sun’s Virtual Box for OS IX Hosts.

Yes, it’s true.  According to a Forrester Research 2008 survey pf 4500 consumers in its consumer experience index, Apple came in at number 23 overall with an 80% rating (good), while Dell was at 58% (very poor) and Gateway, HP and Compaq came in at 66%, 64% and 63% respectively.

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