Compel Capitan

Compel Capitan

THAT’S MY PET NAME for the newly-arrived Mac OS X 10.11 (aka “El Capitan”), given how one is virtually bludgeoned into upgrading with incessant App Store notifications. Even as cautious an early adopter as I took the plunge the day 10.11 was released, but only because 1) I was curious to test Apple’s assessment of this upgrade being a straightforward “tune-up” and unlikely to cause any serious heartache for those choosing to live on the bleeding edge of Mac OSs, and 2) I was fully Time-Machined in the event of disaster.

To my surprise, life after Yosemite has been markedly uneventful, to the point where I’ve had to set my desktop to the default El Capitan image to remind me that I’m no longer working in Yosemite. Then again, the new features are so underwhelming this time around that your everyday computing experience will be little changed; the most compelling new feature could be the ability to locate a “lost” cursor by shaking your mouse to temporarily enlarge the pointer. Seriously.

Yes, the Notes app has been upgraded with to-do lists and the ability to attach an image or link, and Safari now has pinned tabs, although its implementation is somewhat flawed when compared to the Chrome browser, which has had this feature for ages (in computer terms, anyway). Beyond that, toss in some increased performance and stability, a few Spotlight improvements and the ability to sort albums in Photos by something other than the title of the image, and that pretty much covers it.

NOW WE KNOW why Apple kept virtually mum about El Capitan at their September 9 event. Fact is, I had planned on devoting a lot of keystrokes to the OS X 10.11 experience, but I think that about covers it. Other than, of course, whether you should take the plunge yourself at this point.

Here’s my advice, for what it’s worth. If you have not already done so, wait for OS X 10.11.1, which should be arriving in a month or so. That will give Microsoft and Apple time to work out the Office 2011/2016 crashing issues, in particular with the Outlook mail app (which hopefully none of you are forced to use), and address the most egregious bugs that a few users have reported.

Now, on to more compelling stuff:

Only a few feathers short (for now)

There’s no danger anyone’s going to make a verb out of using it (“just DuckDuckGo it”?), but even Google might be more than a little concerned about the upstart search engine DuckDuckGo, The Search Engine That Doesn’t Track You, as its landing page proclaims proudly.

Right from the get-go, DDG was on a mission to not profile its users, and prides itself on not altering its search results based on what it knows about the searcher, practices in which Google has been actively engaged since at least 2009.

DuckDuckGo uses data from Wikipedia and from other search engines like Yahoo! and Bing (with their consent), so it’s not as thorough or accurate as Google, and lacks some of the higher-end features like the search giant’s Knowledge Graph, currency conversions and other calculations, flight info, etc. It can, however, perform a few nifty tricks that Google can’t.

But the real lure of DDG is that it provides uniform results to all; in fact, that’s all it can do because it doesn’t track your browsing history, and therefore has nothing to go on when it comes to custom-tailoring your search results. Should you find yourself so inclined to Google “how can I stop Google from tracking me on the web,” you’ll notice more than a few references to DuckDuckGo.

Thanks to its emphasis on personal privacy, DDG suddenly found itself on a relatively level playing field last year when Apple added DuckDuckGo to Safari (and Mobile Safari) as an optional search engine in September 2014. Mozilla (Firefox) followed suit soon after. Tip: Don’t hold your breath waiting for the Google Chrome browser to add DDG (although a Chrome extension for DuckDuckGo does exist).

Is it worth taking a flyer on this upstart search site? I’ll let you folks decide. On your Mac, go to Safari–>Preferences–>Search to set DuckDuckGo as the default search engine; for your iDevice(s) it’s Settings–>Safari–>Search Engine. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find that Google just isn’t all it’s quacked up to be, and should that be the case, DuckDuckGo might just… fit the bill.

More, more, more

DID ANDREA TRUE’S 1976 disco classic predict Apple’s own October surprise of last week, what with the wizards of Cupertino announcing more, more, more new gizmos only a month after September’s iPhones, iPads, Pencils and Smart Keyboard?

OK, probably not, although given that the history of this tune involves a porn actress, former Jamaican prime minister (and Castro sympathizer) Michael Manley, and a 2011 Honey Bunches of Oats commercial, I couldn’t resist conjuring one of my usual tortured references here. But honestly, I suspect “more, more, more” most appropriately describes the amount of cash you’ll need to get your hands on any of these gadgets:

PeripheralMagic Mouse–>
Magic Mouse 2
Wireless Keyboard–>
Magic Keyboard
Magic Trackpad–>
Magic Trackpad 2
Which is…More, More, More…

The Magic Trackpad has Apple’s new Force Touch and a larger surface area, the Magic Mouse 2 is lighter with fewer moving parts, and the Magic Keyboard is… well, it’s the Magic Keyboard and not the Magic Keyboard 2, because the previous model was technically known as the Apple Wireless Keyboard, as opposed to the Magic Keyboard. This new one has, uh, keys and a spacebar and stuff. And now, it’s officially magic.

These pricey new peripherals finally(!) do away with the need to keep a stockpile of AAs at the ready, since all three use lithium-ion batteries that reportedly charge fully in just a few hours via a Lightning to USB cable (included), while squeezing about a month of average use from a single charge.

Before you decide to experience all this magic for yourself, you should know all three of these doodads require you to be running the brand spanking new OS X 10.11 El Capitan operating system on your Mac of choice. Furthermore, that Mac must be Bluetooth 4.0 capable (meaning 2012 or newer models, give or take a few months).

What’s that, you say? You’re saddled with the virtually prehistoric “mid-2011” iMac? Or perhaps an Industrial Revolution-era “late 2011” MacBook Pro? No worries, Apple’s got your back with—what else—more iMacs, with more pixels, for more money! The new 21.5” 4K “Retina” iMac, at $1499 ($400 more than the previous model) has four times more pixels (~9.4 million; 4096 x 2304) than its $1099 cousin (a paltry 2 million or so).

Still not enough pixels for you? The $1799 27” 5K iMac’s display offers a staggering 14.7 million pixels (5120 x 2880), which, at a mere $0.0012 per pixel, just might qualify as the bargain of the century. To say nothing of the fact that you get a “free” Magic Mouse 2, Magic Keyboard and Lightning to USB charging cable in the box!

Need I say more… more… more?

The password is… not?

AND NOW, HERE’S some wonderful news for those of us whose “things I really, really hate a lot” lists read something like this:

Things I Really, Really Hate A Lot

  1. Passwords
  2. Stuff that needs passwords
  3. Password managers
  4. Password managers that need passwords
  5. The 1-877-KARS-4-KIDS jingle
  6. Squirrels
  7. Anything that seems even vaguely French

Assuming your #1-#4 are similar if not identical to mine, Yahoo! is coming to your rescue here, with a radical new authentication option for Yahoo! Mail they call Yahoo! Account Key. I’ll spare you the technological mumbo-jumbo about two-factor authentication and get right down to the nitty gritty: Account Key enables you to log into your Yahoo! email in a Web browser just by receiving a notification on your mobile phone and touching “OK.” No fuss, no muss—and no password!

Is it secure? Yes. Is it easy to set up? Yes. Does it work for anything else besides Yahoo? No. Not yet, anyway. But the hope is that others (Apple, Google, etc.) will soon follow suit. The predecessor of Yahoo Account Key, the aforementioned two-factor authentication (2FA), requires that you enter a password and a temporary PIN code, typically supplied by a notification or SMS (text) message on your cellphone.

YOU CAN USE 2FA right now with your Apple ID, Gmail and a host of other services, but most of us would prefer to make it easier to access our online properties, as opposed to harder—even if setting up and using 2FA does make things quite a bit more secure than passwords alone. And if you don’t have a mobile phone, well, then it’s time to start learning the ins and outs of your password manager of choice.

For more info, check out Glenn Fleishman’s take on Yahoo Account Key at, as well as the official announcement from Yahoo.

October surprise

NO, I’M NOT REFERRING to that kind of October surprise; we’ll have to wait a year or so to see what may be lying in wait—and for whom—in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election. I’m talking about a very gratifying surprise for me personally, which just happened to occur on October 10 when I completed a 60-mile bike ride from Piscataway to Ortley Beach with relative ease, and with no ill effects.

I’d done this annual “Tour de Shore” ride at least a dozen times since the 1990s, but was forced to place myself firmly within the “maybe next year” category ever since a July surprise of 2011, when a routine blood test showed I had virtually no platelets. That was followed by a diagnosis of acute myeloblastic leukemia one year later, and finally by a Halloween 2012 stem cell transplant.

Due to the aftereffects of the chemo regimens, and the chronic graft vs. host issues that followed the transplant, I had become pretty much resigned to the idea that I should feel blessed merely to be able to make it from the bedroom to the living room without passing out, and set aside even the slightest notion whatsoever of engaging in any long-distance cycling activity.

BUT MODERN MEDICINE seems to have no shortage of miracles these days, and I’m happy to report that since then my overall health and vigor have gradually returned, particularly over the past year, defying my own assumptions that I’d “plateau” at the point where I could perhaps manage a walk around the block, but little more. Cycling, on the other hand, would be an activity heretofore banished to the “things I used to do before the transplant” category.

That’s why completing this year’s ride really did come as a surprise to me, especially given that I truly was not physically capable of completing it only a year ago. This time around, in spite of being a full year older, I felt I could have endured even a few more miles at the end of the ride.

What’s also been surprising to me—though it probably shouldn’t be—is the degree of support and good wishes I’ve received from so many of you since this whole ordeal began. So thanks again to family, friends and all of you out there for your positive thoughts and your encouragement along the way.

It’s been quite a ride.

Pencil me in

Pencil me in

IT’S BEEN nearly a week since last Wednesday’s announcements, and despite all the attention the media is lavishing on new iPhones w/3D touch, gigantic iPads and a pretty remarkable upgrade to the Apple TV, I remain enthralled by the introduction of a $99 iPad accessory whose appearance truly came as a complete surprise to everybody (more on the surprising aspect later).

I refer of course to the new Apple Pencil which, though it assumes the moniker of its patently analog ancestor, shares precious little with its wood and graphite counterparts beyond their dimensions. Unlike other tablet stylii, Apple’s version approximates the size and weight of an actual pencil, making it quite comfortable and natural to hold and to use.

Of course, at a $99 price point, we’re not seriously comparing Apple’s device to a $1.79 12-pack of yellow No. 2s from Staples. No, the real, er, point of the Apple Pencil is that it harbors powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal fingers when it comes to interacting with the new 12.9˘ iPad Pro. And there are quite a few compelling arguments the new Pencil makes in that regard.

FOR ONE, it’s incredibly precise when stacked up against our own comparatively clumsy digits. How precise? According to Apple’s specs, it can select an individual pixel on the Pro’s display (as in one discrete pixel out of the new iPad Pro’s 5.6 million). And since the iPad itself scans the Pencil’s tip 240 times per second, you can be sure it’s going to be pretty accurate in terms of your input.

As with many third-party iPad stylii, pressing down firmly on the Pencil draws thicker lines, while a lighter touch gives you thinner strokes. But unlike those others, Apple’s offering sports two tilt sensors within the tip which, along with the iPad Pro’s multi-touch display, calculate its precise angle and position. That means you can create shading effects simply by tilting the Apple Pencil sideways, just as you could with old-school charcoal pencils, chalk or pastels.

And yes, there are other high-end graphics tablets out there (the Wacom Cintiq comes to mind) offering similar capabilities, but for me what sets the Apple Pencil/iPad Pro combo apart from the pack is that instead of rejecting accidental input from your palm, it graciously invites you to use your fingers at the same time. This opens up entirely new vistas of options, like repositioning or rotating your workspace with your left thumb and forefinger, while drawing/sketching with your right.

THAT’S ALL well and good, I hear you saying, but this “Pencil” needs to be charged up in order to let me do all this amazing stuff, whereas my $6.99 Amazon Basics stylus will never run out of juice. Well, Apple has addressed this concern by enabling the Pencil—courtesy of the magnetically-capped Lightning connector on its “eraser” end—to be jacked directly into the iPad for high-speed charging.

And by “high-speed,” how does 15 seconds of charging in exchange for 30 minutes of use sound? I think it’s safe to say that would probably exceed even the most jaded tablet user’s definition of “high-speed.” Apple claims you’ll get approximately 12 hours of tapping, sketching and/or pointing on a full charge.

So why was this announcement so surprising? For one thing—unlike the iPhone 6s/6s+, the iPad Pro and the overhauled Apple TV—it was very low on the list of predicted product announcements, with only a smattering of prognosticators (KGI Securities’ Ming Chi-Kuo was one of the feweven bothering to afford it a mention. 

THERE’S A good reason for that, of course, given that Apple—and by “Apple” I mean Steve Jobs personally—made it pointedly clear that a stylus was not even on the radar when it came to Apple’s iDevices. As in:

“Who wants a stylus? You have to get ‘em, put ‘em away. You lose them. Yuck.”


“If you see a stylus, they blew it.”

But here’s the thing. Steve was specifically referring to devices that require stylii for everyday functionality, whereas Apple’s iDevices—and in particular the new iPad Pro—have always been remarkably functional and versatile sans stylus. In the case of the Pro, the Pencil just sets it that much further above and beyond the competition.

And speaking of competition, Microsoft—makers of the “iPad killer” Surface 3 tablet— were enthusiastic participants in the iPad Pro segment of the event, showing off their latest updates to Word, Excel and PowerPoint that enable them to integrate seamlessly with the Pencil. Apple’s Pages/Numbers/Keynote triumvirate were nowhere to be seen, perhaps so as not to steal any thunder from Microsoft’s demo.

OR FROM Adobe, who introduced three brand-new, iPad-only apps that all take unique advantage of the iPad Pro/Apple Pencil’s capabilities: Adobe Comp CC, Adobe Photoshop Sketch, and Photoshop Fix. Fix in particular is worth a look, if only for its wow factor in terms of how far we’ve come in the realm of image retouching; you can judge for yourself whether the demo was “sexist” on Adobe and Apple’s parts.

In any case, I think I’ve made my point about the Pencil, even at the risk of giving short shrift to the remainder of the announcements. So let’s address them briefly here while space permits:

New iPhones—As predicted, the 6s/6s+ offer faster processors and “3D touch,” which provides added/alternate functionality based on how hard you tap or press on the screen. Oh, and a 12MP camera along with 4K video capture. 

New Apple TV—Looks just like the current model, albeit a shade taller. But with a dedicated App Store, a new Siri remote that allows you to voice-search content across multiple providers (Netflix, Hulu, iTunes Store, HBO & Showtime), plus Wii-like gameplay, it’s anything but the incremental 2nd to 3rd gen Apple TV upgrade we saw in early 2012.

iOS 9—Coming September 16 to an iDevice near you. Enough said (for now, anyway).

Mac OS X 10.11, aka “El Capitan”: Apple managed to make a molehill out of this mountain by completely ignoring it throughout the course of the proceedings. We only learned from a press release issued later in the day that El Capitan’s scheduled release date is September 30.

WHILE I freely concede that OS X 10.11 may represent the most underwhelming upgrade to an operating system since OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard was released back in 2009, I thought it merited at least a few moments of attention, given that it will be upon us in just over two weeks.

But if Mohammed won’t come to the mountain… well, then I’ll just have to blog about it next time around 😉

Playing catch-up

Playing catch-up

LOOKS AS IF we’re both playing catch-up lately—Apple and I, that is. For me, it’s just another long-overdue blog entry that’s finally been posted to a site that still sports a collection of wintry imagery up top (working on that too, I promise). Hey, it’s been a very busy summer so far, and helping all of you folks out comes first 😉

That’s my excuse, anyway. Like me, Apple’s been playing catch-up as well, at least when it comes to their iDevices. iOS 9 is due to arrive in early September, and though there are a handful of innovative new features that are arguably Apple-specific (the ability to make room for updates by automatically removing and then restoring data on the device, for example), the lion’s share of the update appears intent on addressing those capabilities that have have been the sole province of Android and/or Windows devices up until now.

These improvements include a split-screen/multitasking mode, so you can not only see two apps at once, but actually operate them concurrently (iPads only, sorry), comprehensive and very precise mass transit info/directions all baked into the Maps app, a much more proactive Siri, low-power mode to bail you out when your battery dips below the 10% threshold, keyboard shortcut icons (cut/copy/paste, attach a file, etc.) and last but not least, picture-in-picture mode for watching a video while you finally respond to those last few messages in your Inbox.

WHILE THESE FEATURES are all very welcome, they’re also very… overdue. Fact is, Android phones/tablets have had these options for quite a while now—some for 2-3 years or more—and because of that, many of them are more refined and advanced in their capabilities than even those to which Apple plans to introduce us in September.

For example, Samsung introduced Pop-Up Play, its version of picture-in-picture, to Android users way back in 2012; Microsoft’s personal assistant Cortana (which debuted on Windows phones well over a year ago) and Google Now on Android devices are both more advanced than the current iteration of Siri. Sure, Apple is beefing up Siri’s powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men in iOS 9, but it’s still playing catch-up with both Microsoft and Google’s proactive personal assistants. 

Nonetheless, it’s reassuring to know that the latest iOS update isn’t too proud to, let’s say appropriate a few items here and there from its distinguished competition. Or, as Steve Jobs himself famously noted, “Good artists copy; great artists steal”—a quote he attributed to Picasso, but which incidentally has a fascinating history of its own if you’re up for a little exploration on the side.

BUT AS IS my wont, I digress. There are some notable additions in iOS 9 that were not “stolen” outright from Google or Microsoft, among them a dedicated iCloud Drive app for those of us using Apple’s cloud storage for Keynote, Pages, or other Apple-centric apps, along with a much welcome change to the onscreen keyboard such that each key appears in upper- or lower-case based on the status of the shift/caps lock key. For those of us who too often find ourselves typing an entire line of uppercase characters before realizing the caps lock is on, or worse, not even sure whether the shift key is active or not, this one is a godsend.

The Notes app has also gained superpowers with this latest update (a new toolbar with drawing tools, camera/photos access, “to-do” checklists and more), and now rivals dedicated note-taking/scrapbook apps like OneNote and Evernote. A dedicated “back” arrow in the upper left corner of the screen now enables you to return to the previous app you were using, and if you find yourself unable to manage the sheer volume of selfies you just can’t resist capturing, the Photos app will now graciously offer to auto-organize them into a new Selfies album for your viewing pleasure.

Finally, in the unlikely event that the aforementioned thefts/additions to iOS 9 have persuaded any of you Android users to come over from the Dark Side, Apple’s got your back with a new “Move to iOS” app. Coming soon to Google’s Android Marketplace, it eases the transition to an iDevice by wirelessly importing your contacts, messages, photos/videos, bookmarks, mail accounts, calendars, and more.

iOS 9 WILL BE arriving on an iDevice near you somewhere in the neighborhood of Sept. 9 and, as is customary with Apple, will be accompanied by new iPhone 6s and 6s+ models along with a few other goodies. If your iDevice is running iOS 8 now, it will be fully capable of using this new system. In fact, I’ve even heard whispers about iOS 9 improving performance on older models like the 4s and 5 as well as the iPad Mini—all of which seem to have grown slower with each successive update from iOS 6 on. 

As always, your mileage may vary, so I’ll be very interested in hearing from all of you on your experiences with the new iOS once it appears on your iPhone or iPad over the next month or so. There’s also a new Mac OS X on the way, but that’s a subject for my next missive; for now, suffice to say that Apple’s also indulged in some petty larceny for OS X 10.11 “El Capitan” as well.

Major Insecurities

I’D LIKE TO pass along some recent news on the online security/password front, given that this has become a topic we really can’t afford to ignore these days. First off, the online password management system known as LastPass experienced a breach back in June in which subscribers’ information, including (encrypted) master passwords, was acquired by hackers. While I am a huge proponent of password management—as I have doubtless pointed out ad nauseum to most of you—I am not a fan of services that store your data online (Daahlane, LastPass, etc.) for this very reason, regardless of whether or not the data is encrypted.

Unfortunately, that’s a fairly benign revelation when compared to the recent experience of a writer whose Comcast email account was hacked—not in any unique or heretofore unseen strategy—but merely by calling Comcast and asking for the password. What information did the Comcast rep need in order to give the “hacker” control of the account? The current street address and the last four digits of the writer’s SSN; information that could be gleaned about virtually anyone without great difficulty, as many legal documents posted online contain SSNs. I’d love nothing more than to spend the next 3-4 paragraphs skewering Comcast over gross negligence and dereliction of duty, but I suspect they are by no means the only company guilty of this type of malfeasance.

Lastly, this posting just wouldn’t be complete with my harping on the only subject to which I devote more syllables than password management—and that is, of course, backup. Rather than my lecturing you any further on the hazards of incomplete, unverified or outright non-existent backups for all your devices, I’ll let the title of this piece from TidBITS writer Joe Kissell say it all:

11 Stupid Backup Strategies

THAT ABOUT WRAPS it up for this go-round, folks. I’ll be back next week with a preview of OS X 10.11 “El Capitan,” which is scheduled to arrive alongside iOS 9 and the latest iPhone models (and just maybe, a whole new Apple TV too). While you’re waiting, why not avail yourself of the latest Yosemite update (10.10.5) which, among other bug fixes, allegedly cleans up some long-standing issues with Gmail/IMAP mail. In the meantime, I’ll get some seasonally-appropriate imagery on this site—just in time for…autumn ;-(

Picture perfect(?)

Picture perfect(?)

In which we hail the recent unveiling of the new Photos app, and the imminent demise of Apple’s heretofore dysfunctional photo-management ecosystem

THE END is near. Finally. The end of the current sorry state of photo management on our Macs and iDevices, that is. All thanks to iOS 8’s iCloud Photo Library and the unveiling of the new Photos app for Macs.

Taken together, these two technologies herald the end of the bewildering Photo Stream/iCloud Photo Sharing/iPhoto boondoggle, a scenario so singularly complex that–although I’ve developed a pretty firm grasp on how it all works–I’ve found it nigh impossible to explain in a way that makes sense to anyone but me.

iCloud Photo Library, by contrast, requires no explanation. Just turn it on in Settings–>Photos & Camera, and every picture taken on every iDevice you own will be uploaded to the Apple cloud. From that point forward, each iDevice will have the same exact set of pics and videos. That’s it!

YOU CAN also tell each iDevice whether you want it to keep resolution-optimized versions (meaning perfectly sized to your device to save space) or full quality versions. Either way, the cloud will maintain your original shots in all their 3264 × 2448 pixel glory. Even better, any edits you make to your photo library will be replicated instantly across all devices without your having to lift a virtual finger.

Granted, you may require a bit more space than iCloud’s default 5GB to handle all those fab pix and videos, but Apple has drastically reduced iCloud storage pricing in honor of this new revelation. For less than a buck a month you can avail yourself of 20GB of storage, enough for approximately 10,000 photos. If your storage needs go beyond that, for $3.99/mo you can upgrade to 200GB, and there are even 500GB ($9.99/mo.) and 1TB ($19.99/mo.) plans available.

BUT WHAT ABOUT all those images in the iPhoto library on your Mac? Alas, even the most recent version of iPhoto was conceived well before iCloud Photo Library was but a gleam in the collective eye of Apple’s iLife programming team. That’s just one reason why Apple elected to scrap iPhoto (and Aperture) in favor of the new Photos app, which is fully iCloud-aware, yet retains all of the functionality of iPhoto (including Books and all other project types) and will happily import all your photos, albums, and keywords.

The only things it won’t import are star ratings and Events, which nobody seemed to care for anyway. It will instead auto-organize everything into Moments, Years and Collections, just as iDevices do now.

FOLLOWING THE initial import from iPhoto, Photos will then upload those images to the cloud, where they can finally be seen by all your other devices. Unless–for whatever reason–you don’t want to utilize that feature, in which case you can instruct Photos to maintain the images strictly on your Mac. What’s really remarkable about the import process is that you can continue to use iPhoto and Photos simultaneously; the only hitch being that, going forward, edits you make in either app will appear in that app only, and not in the other.

So what’s not to like about all this? Well, there is one relatively minor disclaimer I am bound to note at this juncture: Photos will require that you upgrade to Yosemite if you haven’t done so already, and because the app is still in beta, it won’t be available to any of us until sometime this spring when Apple releases the latest version of Yosemite (10.10.3). Nevertheless, the reviews to date are universally positive (here’s David Pogue’s take) and we’ve only another few months at most to wait.

Rejoice and be glad. The end of this confusing mess is quickly coming into focus.

CAN’T YOU JUST… picture it?

In brief:

Apple’s been very busy lately. In addition to expanding Apple Pay across the entire U.S. National Parks system, pre-ordering upwards of six million Apple watches for their expected April debut, selling 39 iPhones per second, and adding Touch ID to the next generation of MacBook Airs and mice/trackpads, they’ve allegedly begun work on a self-driving electric car. It is a $500 billion market, after all…

Using the new Office apps on your iDevices? You should be–they’re free and amazingly full-featured. With the latest versions (released today) you can now choose from among DropBox, Google Drive and/or iCloud to store your files.

OK, so you really want to upgrade to Yosemite, but just can’t abide the new system font and icons? Fear not–there’s an app for that too.

And finally, speaking of apps, it appears that those Top Ten rankings on the App Store may not be 100% legit 😉

May You Always…

May You Always…

Recycling a holiday classic

HOLIDAY TRADITIONS come and go, and one that has certainly come and gone is the annual airing of “May You Always,” a two minute, forty-two second spoken holiday greeting performed by legendary DJ Harry “The Morning Mayor” Harrison and broadcast regularly on New York’s WCBS-FM 101.1 oldies station.

Although it hasn’t graced the airwaves in a good twenty years or so, in its day “May You Always” garnered a cult following among those who snickered at its shameless sentimentality, as well as those who waited eagerly for its first airing each year to bask in the glow of Harry’s genuinely warm and heartfelt delivery. A user by the name of “Sock Hop Saturday Night” even went so far as to post a recording of “the original Amy 45 (the non-politically correct version)” to YouTube in 2009.

AS YOU MAY HAVE surmised from last week’s songfest, we here at AltiM@c are powerless to leave a perfectly good holiday message unsullied by the spirit of parodies present. In fact, I went so far as to pen and even record my own Apple-flavored version of “May You Always” way back in 2005. But since precious few of you have known me for that long, I feel justified in recycling it for 2014–with a few updated tech references to make it seem all shiny and new. So here’s take #2 on this long-lost holiday classic. Enjoy!

May You Always (MYA_2014.mp3, 3.92MB 192kbps MP3 file)

As holiday bells ring out the old year, and sweethearts kiss,
And Mac users struggle through the Yosemite and iOS 8 updates
May I wish you not the biggest and best technology has to offer
But the small victories that make owning all these gizmos worthwhile.

Sometime during the New Year, just to prove you can do it,
May you manage to update Adobe Flash Player without calling anyone for help.
May you find a little island of time to actually read that “Read Me” file,
Or to delete all those duplicate pictures from your iPhoto Library.

May you be able to explain the difference between POP and IMAP without Googling it
May you go through an entire day without once looking up a password
May you know the correct answers to all three of your online banking security questions
May all those people who told you to back up refrain from saying, “I told you to back up.”

May your iPhone enjoy an entire year without being dropped into a public toilet
May that expensive AppleCare support contract rescue your MacBook Pro from an untimely death.
In a time of rampant viruses and spyware, may your Mac be rampant-virus-and-spyware free.
May you be able to pass your old Macbook on to your kids, so they quit screwing up your new iMac.

For a change, on a day when your Mac seems to be working as advertised
May a friend or colleague call on you for help with their computer!
When you zap your PRAM, may it stay zapped!
And, if you happen to mistakenly delete an important file
May you be able to restore it from a Time Machine backup–without calling me to walk you through the process.

May that long and lonely night be brightened by a visit from a FiOS repair technician.
When buying that new iPhone, may you discover that your old one is worth hundreds on eBay–or $10 on
When you crash in a 28-page Word document without saving, may there be no one watching to laugh at you–or feel sorry for you.

And sometime soon, may you
Post a video to YouTube successfully
Hold less than five minutes for Comcast tech support
Be told by your grandson that your Internet is “wicked fast”
And be mentioned by Tim Cook in a keynote address.

More than this, no one can wish you.

Happy New Year from the employees and staff of AltiM@c Consulting!