Upsetting the Apple Cart Once Again...

While some of you may read this week’s note and just shrug your shoulders.  This is actually a big deal for the long term.

Apple may be dumping Intel Processors.

There has been a long pause in regards to Apple releasing Macs at the usual frequency as in the past.  Yes, Apple did release a new MacBook fairly recently but the whole line of “Pro” Apple machines…. The ones with the most memory, the fastest processors and video cards.

Those of us who recommend machines to professionals have been nervously tapping our feet, wondering what Apple has been up to.  Why ALL the focus on the iPad and iPhone but nothing on the Mac?  Was the Mac going away?  It’s been several years since a MacPro was released and it was the publishing standard of the graphics industry and Apple just let it “rot on the vine.”

I was around for the switch from Motorola Processors to Intel ones.  Everyone was stunned.  Apple had spent millions of dollars putting down Intel processors and rightly so.  Motorola was faster and didn’t get as hot.  

But then Motorola stumbled.  They hit a technical roadblock and Apple couldn’t pretend to be in the lead any longer.

One of the issues that kept some people from switching over to the Mac was that certain software packages were “Windows only.”  And Windows only ran on an Intel based chip.  Since the industry “geeks” were Windows only, they would choose Windows software ad if you wanted a Mac, you’d have to jump through hoops to run that particular software.

The term “Virtual environment” means that you are running your software in a non-native “space.”    You were pretending to run windows and the Windows software, as long as it “thought” that it was running on Windows, didn’t care what processor it was using.  The issue with this type of environment is that since it’s passing all of it’s connections to the “pretend” Intel processor, it ran much more slowly.

When Apple switched to Intel processors, many of the hurdles went away.  The layer of “translation” between the Windows software and through the Mac Operating System didn’t take nearly the effort that it once did.

You could even run Windows DIRECTLY on the Mac instead of the Mac Operating System if you wanted to!

Today, Apple manufacturers it’s own processors for the iPhone and iPad lines.  And to be genuine, they are much more efficient than the processors from companies who have been doing this for a much longer history.

Today if you walk into an Apple Store, you’ll notice that the focus on on sales.  And while Apple is making a fortune, the focus of helping customers has taken a back seat.  

This week, my fellow Consultants highlighted a change where the “Genius Bar” staff will no longer be flown to California for training.  They will be provided training videos to watch and no “hands on” contact with the new machines being released.  So, the people who are supposed to be the top tiered minds in the stores will have to watch “take apart” video just like I do.

I still believe that the Mac Operating System is above Windows in functionality or I wouldn’t be in business “doing what I do.”  But the myriad of reasons for choosing Apple is dwindling quite quickly.

So, the *strong* rumor is that Apple will be putting it’s iPhone and iPad processors in Macs.  And that is the reason that there has been a delay in Apple releasing new machines.

Apple firmly believes that they can do a better job of creating speedy processors better than Intel can.  

So those of you who want to run Windows on your upcoming iMac purchase, may not be able to do so.  Or, it will be in a virtual environment and won’t run ad quickly as before.

This also may signal another need to upgrade software for the new platform.

At this point, everything I’ve written is speculation.  I only have past experiences to draw and extrapolate on.  But if this rumor ends up being true, the "Apple Cart” will be upset once again.  ;)

Jerry — MacSolutions

MacDefender — Very, Very Bad!

I’ve written to you what I believe to be three times now, about “MacDefender.”  If you don’t remember, the software sometimes shows up from a website saying something like “Your Mac is not protected!  Download this and you’ll be safe!”

A lot of people have fallen for this and the company was sued out of business.  But as soon as the lawsuit was over, the software was obtained by a Chinese firm and the process started all over again.

Up to now, the software was just annoying and slowed down your machines.  But now there is a real threat from “MacDefender.”

Hackers have found a flaw *
IN* “MacDefender” and once it’s installed, the hackers can use it to install their own software.  (This is the same hackers who got into the Democratic Party’s servers during the election.)

We REALLY need to get this off your machines sooner than later just to be safe.

The strip of icons at the very top of your screen is called the “Menubar.”  Somewhere near the clock, there may be a little "robot looking face" with a helmet on.  If you see that on your menubar, please contact me.  I can tell you how to remove it yourself.

If not, the process of removing it will only take 15 minutes before you see my “backside” going back out the door.  It’s a fairly easy process.

Jerry — MacSolutions

Software / Hardware Rental

Recently, Microsoft announced that it will no longer support any version of Microsoft Office from year 2011 and older; effective October of 2017. 

 I would say that most of you don’t use Microsoft Office any more.  Most businesses still do.  It’s anchored itself in the business world and try as they might, corporations can’t brake free of Office’s grasp.

What does this mean for those of you who are using Microsoft Office?  It means that you will need to upgrade to “Office 365,”  the newest version of Office which is sold as a subscription rather than a one-time purchase.

As deep as my distaste for Microsoft is, they’re simply following the trend in the computer and software industry and I can’t be too upset at them. Adobe has already moved to this business model and other companies see their success and want to emulate it.

A “rental” or “subscription” of software does wonderful things for a company.  It keeps a constant flow of predictable money coming into the “register,” it also pushes all users of the product to upgrade to the latest version, therefore eliminating the cost of supporting older software support.  No longer are there years of documentation for older versions that the support teams need to reference.  Once software is retired, you can no longer call and get help for it.

So, as a customer who purchased a copy of a program and used it for 10 years on the same computer you also purchased at that time, your time is running out.  Once the software stops being updated, you will have to upgrade to the new version.  And that might not be possible with the “old” Operating System that you’re using on the “old” computer.

It gets worse…

There are strong rumors that this might be happening with Apple Computers as well in the near future.  Much like iPhones, Apple would love to charge you a monthly fee for your shiny, new iMac instead of an upfront purchase.  You would “lease” the machine for a few years and once it’s "obsoleted,” you would return the old machine for a newer that is "automagically" shipped to you to keep you current.

This would do the same for Apple as it does for the software vendors that I mentioned above.  It keeps money coming in the door but it also provides "brand loyalty.”  If you’re going to automatically get a new machine every couple of years, you’ll probably not want to switch to another brand or Operating System.

This is still speculation at this point.  But the rumors are strong about this and I honestly see it happening in the not too distant future.

If you’re running a business, I would keep this "top of mind.” 

I’m going to have to take one more vacation day
this Friday.  My mom is going to be interred that day.

Things should be back to “normal” for me from next week forward.

Thank You again for all of the kind words.  I had hundreds of people respond with sympathy and support to the point that it brought tears to my eyes.  I really am a lucky guy to have so many friends.

Jerry — MacSolutions

Please accept my sincere wishes for a pleasant and peaceful holiday season!

As we wind down 2016, I try to reflect on the happenings of the year.  It was much easier to remember exactly what happened in the past year when I was a younger man.  That last thing I remember, I was getting the papers together to do my taxes and “poof!”, the year is gone again.

Please accept my sincere wishes for a pleasant and peaceful holiday season!  

The older I get, the more I understand the holiday signs that people put outside that say “Peace” and “Joy.”  I find them escaping me most of the time.  ;)

Because time seems to be going so quickly, I forget how long it’s been between the time I last saw you and when you contact me again.  Sometimes I’m shocked at the space in between.

One individual “popped" in my head the other day.  I realized that it had been a while since we had talked and I decided to make the call out of the blue.  Someone else answered.  I went back into my records and yes, that was the correct number I had recorded back in 2007.  I sent an email also, just in case and got no reply.  I started to fear the worst.  

And yes, I found that she had passed TWO YEARS AGO.

Ann was a librarian by trade.  When her kids got married and got “real” jobs, they had moved to California and Washington State.  One worked for Microsoft but Ann whispered to me one day “She prefers her Mac over Windows.”  We both giggled.  We talked about her kids and how well that they were doing and how often they bought her airplane tickets to fly up and visit the grandkids.  And one day, she showed my some tickets that she had for South Carolina.  Teasingly I said, “Ann, do you have more than the two kids that should I know about?” thinking that she was visiting another.  “No, she said.”, with a twinkle in her eye, “That trip is just for me.”

Another day some years ago, I received another call.  Someone had gotten my name for Mac support and was getting references.  I immediately thought of Ann and inquired if she would mind speaking with someone about me and what I do.  There was no hesitation in saying “Sure!  Give them my number.”  I passed the name and number on that morning.

In the afternoon, that gentleman called me back and asked if he could set up an appointment.  I asked if he had called the two references that I had given him and he said, “Well, I only needed to call one.  I spoke to Ann and she told me that she would adopt you if she could.  That was enough reference for me.”  

Both the man that called, and Ann, have passed now.  I find it so hard to just move-on knowing what a loss to the world these people are.  Wonderful, happy caring people that I was so privileged to know for such a short time.  I drive past their houses on my way to help others and it brings back such great memories of past discussions and how “warm” they were to me.

I try to remember that it *IS* a privilege to do what I do and meet people in this way.  I could work in a cubicle as I used to at my previous jobs in that large beer company or the accounting firm.  And that way I wouldn’t actually meet people and have these relationships.

One last thing I’d like to point out.  Librarians probably aren’t credited like others in the business world.  But my experiences have proven these folks very, highly intelligent.  While their job is making sure that the rest of us have reading and learning materials, it seems that they absorb it all as well and seem to be some of the most educated people I’ve met.  I don’t get into libraries very often but I do read as much as I can online.

For example, I was reading an article about eyes.  My mom has an auto-immune disease where her body is attacking the moisture producing glands in her body.  Therefore, mom always has "dry eyes.”  The eye doctor put tiny plugs in her tear ducts to keep the fluid in her eyes.  In reading, I found that when you cry, the reason that your nose starts running is that the little holes below your eyes empty directly into your nasal cavity.  We call them “tear ducts.”  I always thought that tear ducts produced the tears however, they are more like little pipes helping us to clear the fluid.

That explains why I now need a tissue.

I’ll miss you Ann.

Jerry — MacSolutions

Password Problems?

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I get contacted at least once a day about password problems.  People complain to me that they "have to change their password too much” and then lose track of which password that they have changed it to.

In the past, I’ve described to some of you *my* method of creating passwords and how I make sure that I’m able to remember them very easily.  

However, your real issue is that you’re changing passwords when you really don’t need to.

Quite often, *I* am still amazed at how forward thinking software has become, trying to answer questions that you’re “going to have” before you even think of them.  Most of us humans think similarly most of the time.  Our “wiring” or learning process causes us to ask pretty much the same questions, no matter your background or age.  We just react the same and I guess that’s why psychology and sociology are fields of study!

But there’s one thing that for some reason, programmers have not paid much attention to.  And I really can’t tell you why.  The fact that connections to and from your website or email server MUST be secure. They must have a conversation in a particular order or they assume that someone is trying to break into the conversation to spy on you. There’s all kinds of “checks and balances” that are there so that you don’t lose your connection and therefore data.

I’ve asked that you not “text” me unless it’s an emergency because texting doesn’t require the same secure connection and therefore, it loses messages.  Or the messages come out of order and it looks like you’re drunk and texting me gibberish at times when they’re "long winded" texts.  It was developed in a way that only one end really needs to respond and doesn’t guarantee that a message gets to its target.

Email and other secure communication is VERY picky about the conversations with either end and that’s where most of the problem with passwords lies.

Ninety nine percent of the times that your computer tells you that your password is wrong, it’s because the connection to your computer or to the other end of the conversation has dropped… NOT because your password is actually wrong.  the computer simply doesn’t know ay better than that the secure connection is no longer in place so… that password must be wrong!

Your internet connection may have switched I.P. Addresses, someone might be working on equipment, the email or web server might be too busy at the other end of things… All will cause your computer to pop up a message stating “Wrong password.”

And then human nature kicks in.  

You start to question what your password really is.  You think to yourself, “Well, I did change it recently… Perhaps I didn’t do something properly and it wants to old Password?  Or perhaps I put a capital letter in the name or maybe I forgot to?”

Once your computer asks to store a password, it’s not going to change it unless something major happened with your account.

Many or you have told me that you have to change your iCloud password "all the time!”  I changed mine recently.. But before that, hadn’t touched it in FIVE YEARS.  It’s mostly the issue that I spoke of above.  The connection probably got severed in some manner and it gave you an error because it doesn’t know what happened and ASSUMES that the password is bad.

So, repeat after me…  

  • Jerry said to take a breath, relax and resist the urge to change anything.
  • Be patient.. the situation will probably rectify itself without my intervention.
  • And when I’m presented with a place to type in my password because the computer says that my password is wrong, I’m going to click on the “cancel” button and just restart my software.
Just following those steps will save you so much aggravation.

And I’m going to add one last suggestion.  When you write down your passwords, add the date that you changed it next to the new password.  People like to use notebooks for passwords and eventually, it looks like a wall of graffiti and you can’t possibly read your own writing.  but putting that date next to the password will let your eye find the right one on the morass of letter and numbers.

I’m hoping that this will resonate with you and you’ll remember these suggestions from here on.

Jerry — MacSolutions