Katie's Week in Review: October 23, 2016

At long last, Apple appears to be updating the Mac lineup. We have news of an upcoming Apple event and other links of note for the week ending October 23, 2016:

  • Apple Announces Oct. 27 Event to End Mac Update Drought - Hello again. Apple will hold a special event on their Cupertino campus on Thursday, October 27th at 10am Pacific. Mark Gurman writing for Bloomberg says we can expects new MacBook Pro and a 13" MacBook Air replacement. I’m really hoping Apple gives me the opportunity to buy a new Cinema Display with that new Mac but the odds of that seem less certain.
  • iOS 10.0.3 Fixes Cellular Connectivity Issues - If you have an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus, make sure you check for updates. The latest update fixes an issue for Verizon customers who would get stuck on 3G speeds instead of LTE.
  • Angela Ahrendts Talks Concepts Behind Next-Generation Apple Stores at Most Powerful Women Summit - Apple Senior Vice President Angela Ahrendts was the opening speaker at Fortune’s annual Most Powerful Women Summit. Husain Sumra of MacRumors links to a video of the interview and summary. In the interview Angela talks about her upbringing, how technology changed Burberry and her plans for evolving Apple’s retail strategy.
  • iCloud Family Sharing Users Can Remotely Wipe Each Other’s Devices (Kinda) - I’ve received a couple of emails from Mac Power Users listeners recently about a feature that appears to allow family sharing users to wipe the other’s devices. Jeff Gamet of The Mac Observer dug in and found out there’s a bit more to the story. Turns out yes, there is an option in Family Sharing for other family members to use Find My iPhone to locate and even initiate a remote wipe of other family devices. However, you must enter the Apple ID and Password associated with the device. So, if you’re worried about your kids getting upset and wiping your devices, choose time to up your Password game.
  • More than 90% of ‘genuine’ Apple chargers & cables sold on Amazon are fake, says Apple - Bought an Apple Product off Amazon recently? Take precautions to make sure you’re getting the genuine article. According to an Apple investigation, more than 90% of the cables purchased from Amazon and marketed as genuine were, in fact, counterfeit. Ben Lovejoy from 9to5 Mac has more details on this story, including a response from Amazon.
  • Amazon launches “Family Vault,” a way for families to share Prime Photos’ free storage - Amazon is stepping up its game in the photo sharing and storage arena. Sarah Perez at TechCrunch explains, Prime members already receive a benefit of free photo storage. Now they can invite up to five family members to join a “Family Vault” where they can share videos and photos. Amazon also announced a new low-cost photo printing service with free shipping for Prime members.
  • Sponsor: My thanks to MailButler for their continued sponsorship of KatieFloyd.com. If you have a product or service you’re interested in promoting on this website you can learn more details on the sponsorship page.
  • 15 years ago Steve Jobs introduced the iPod and revolutionized the way we all listen to Stephen Hackett made a little video, and I’d love to show it to you...

Mac Power Users #345: Cloud Wars: iCloud and Dropbox

This week on Mac Power Users, David and I are joined by David Chartier to discuss whether or not Dropbox and iCloud are up to the task of cloud-based file storage.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • TextExpander from Smile Type more with less effort! Expand short abbreviations into longer bits of text, even fill-ins, with TextExpander from Smile.
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  • Casper: Because everyone deserves a great night sleep. Get $50 off with the code ‘MPU’
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Katie's Week in Review: October 16, 2016

Lots of criticism of Siri this week and a new Star Wars Trailer. Here are a few links of note for the week ending October 16, 2016:

  • Apple Launches Red Cross Donation Program For Hurricane Matthew Relief via iTunes - I was very fortunate that Hurricane Matthew skirted my area with no damage, others were not so fortunate. As they have done in the past, Apple is offering a way to easily donate to the Red Cross through iTunes.
  • Mossberg: Why does Siri seem so dumb? -  We’ve all been feeling it, technology columnist Walt Mossberg said it. Despite years of working with the technology Siri still can’t seem to comprehend or perform many basic tasks and is at risk of being leapfrogged by competition from Amazon and Google. When Walt talks, Apple generally listens. Hopefully they take this criticism to heart and have improvements for Siri in mind in the coming year.
  • The Inward-Looking Siri - Stephen Hackett wrote a follow-up piece on why Apple may choose to focus Siri more on inward looking features but acknowledges that Apple is quickly getting left behind in the AI race.
  • Amazon launches Music Unlimited service, including Echo-only plan - Speaking of Siri competitors, Amazon just launched it’s own Unlimited Music service, including a low-cost Echo-only plan. Dan Moren at Six Colors has the details. The full service costs $8 a month for prime subscribers or $79 a year. If you’re an Echo owner you can pay just $4 a month to stream music to the Echo-only. While the Echo isn’t the best bluetooth speaker, the low price may be enough to entice a few skeptics.
  • iPhone 7: Computer from the Future - Federico Viticci of MacStories shares his review of the iPhone 7 along with his review of new wireless headphones from Beats featuring the W1 chip.
  • Evernote Admits Bug Caused Data Loss for Some Mac Users - Seems like news just keeps getting worse for Evernote. As reported by Juli Clover from MacRumors some Evernote users received an email this week that “a small number of users” were hit by a serious bug in their Mac App that can cause images and other attachments to be deleted when using Evernote for Mac. The bug was apparently fixed in version 6.9.1 of the App and later which has been available through direct download and the Mac App store as of October 2nd.
  • Samsung Kills Off Note 7 After Second Round of Battery Fires - In what seems like the inevitable end to this saga, Yoolim Lee and Sohee Kim of Bloomberg report that Samsung has decided to halt sales of the Galaxy Note 7 after reports that the replacement phones were also susceptible to battery fires.
  • Sponsor: My thanks to TableFlip, the Markdown table editor, for their sponsorship of KatieFloyd.com this week. If you have a product or service you're interested in promoting on this website you can learn more details on the sponsorship page.
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Trailer #2 - While Star Trek is my first love, Star Wars is probably my second. I can’t wait for Rogue One to hist theaters on December 16th. This story takes place immediately before the events of A New Hope and tells the story of the mission to steal the plans to the Death Star. The second trailer hit this week and it looks fantastic.

Lawyerist: Starting a Solo Practice, with Mac Power Users Podcaster Katie Floyd

I had the pleasure of joining Sam Glover on Episode 89 of the Lawyerist Podcast. We discuss the process of setting up my own solo law practice as well as tips for Mac and iOS users. Even if you’re not a Lawyer, I suspect small business owners and entrepreneurs will likely find some tips of note in this episode.

You can listen to the episode, as well as read a transcript of the show on the Lawyerist website, or download the show in iTunes, Overcast, or in your Podcast App or choice via RSS.

Mac Power Users #344: MPU+: Hello, Computer - Relay FM

This week on Mac Power Users, David and I discuss what to do with Macs that Sierra has left behind, the problem with "free" software, Network vs. Direct Attached storage, listeners share their feedback on Amazon and tips for using Ulysses and Scrivener. We also learn how to print to PDF from Apple Mail and much more.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

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  • Automatic The connected car company that improves your driving and integrates your car into yoru digital life. Use this link or enter code MACPOWER to get $20 off your purchase.

Review: Eero, a new type of wireless networking

In 2001, I bought the Titanium PowerBook G4 and setup my first home Wi-Fi network. It was ridiculously expensive, and often flakey, but it was also magical. I could sit on the couch and check email.

Wi-Fi has come a long way since that original “flying saucer” Airport Base Station was released. But there are still a lot of pain points. In my own (fairly modest) home I have trouble with Wi-Fi reception dropping out in certain edge locations and have opted for wired connections for optimum speed. My parents have a much larger brick home with a split floorpan and I’ve gone to great lengths, including adding additional ethernet drops and installing range extenders, to ensure a basic level of coverage in all their living areas.

The underlying problem with Wi-Fi seems to be that one wireless router isn’t enough to cover many homes with a strong Wi-Fi signal. In smaller spaces, like apartments or condos, though one router may have enough reach to cover the square footage, a problem arises with multiple routers in and area interference created from neighbor’s access points.

Along comes Eero. Eero is a new Wi-Fi system that promises to solve these problems and simplify things. Eero is a system consisting of three wireless routers that work together to form a mesh network to blanket your house in Wi-Fi. I first heard about Eero when Walt Mossberg reviewed it for The Verge, but Clayton Morris really brought it to my attention when he sang its praises on a recent episode of Mac Power Users.

Eero three-pack

Eero three-pack

The Eero device is very sleek, it looks like something that would come out of Cupertino. The device itself is a 4.75“ square white box with rounded corners and a curved top. There are ports on the back for power, USB and two ethernet connectors. One Eero must be connected to your modem. That ”master" Eero will then share its network connection wirelessly with the other Eeros that make up your network. The secondary Eeros all act as access points, thus creating the mesh network and can be connected wirelessly (except for the power cable). If your house happens to be wired (like mine) you can connect multiple Eeros to a wired network and it will figure out what makes the most sense to use.

Eero setup was very simple and all done through a companion iOS App. The App walks you through naming your network, setting up a password, creating a guest network if you like and then finding optimal placement and adding your additional Eeros as access points. The Eero App includes advanced configuration options for setting up things like DNS, port forwarding, family profiles (parental controls) and even includes a speed test function built-in. I’ve always praised Apple’s Airport routers for their ease of setup and configuration, but Eero may have them beat.

Simple setup via iOS App

Simple setup via iOS App

Network at a glance.

Network at a glance.

However the real question is does Eero deliver in the network stability and speed? It did. Candidly, in my 1,800 square foot house, I didn’t really expect Eero to make much of a difference. I had a current generation 802.11ac Apple Airport Extreme centrally located and really never had problems with my Wi-Fi network - or so I thought. I installed one Eero centrally in my living room (replacing my Airport Extreme) and the others on opposite sides of my house, on in my bedroom, another in my home office. After using Eero for a few weeks, it has solved problems I didn’t know I had.

At any given time, I have more than 25 devices connected to my network. Don’t laugh, they’re easy to collect when you think about all the Internet connected devices we have in modern homes. Heck, even some of my lightbulbs and electrical outlets are Wi-Fi connected. But all of these devices can take a toll on network performance. Particularly, I had several smart home devices that were on the outer edges of my home, lights that were outside or outlets that were connected to far walls that were never particularly reliable. I chalked it up to the devices themselves being flakey or the technology being new. But since installing the Eeros those devices have been rock solid. I’m convinced now it’s because they weren’t getting great Wi-Fi reception. With Eero, they are.

Eero is still a new technology and there is room for improvement. The biggest objection most people will have to Eero is the price. The starter set of Eeros, which includes 3 units, costs $499. That’s a heck of a lot more expensive than most wireless routers. You can extend the system by adding additional individual units at $199 each if you have a particularly large home or want to extend coverage into a yard or an exterior building . By comparison, an Airport extreme costs $199 and most wireless routers cost a good bit less. However, for most people a single wireless router may not solve all their wireless needs. So, if you take into account buying multiple devices and time involved in solving common Wi-Fi problems, the cost of the Eero starts to seem a little more reasonable.

Eero was designed for wireless networking, thus it is light on Ethernet ports. Your primary Eero will only have one port available, and secondary Eeros will only have one or two depending on if they are connected via Ethernet or Wi-Fi. This means if you plan on connecting wired devices to your network you’ll probably need a couple of wired routers. Also, the USB port on the Eero is reserved for support and diagnostics. However, in my talks with Eero’s executives they’ve hinted at future functionality.

Overall, I’ve been very happy with Eero in my home and I have no plans to go back to my Airport. In fact, since I wrote the initial version of this review I’ve pulled the Apple hardware out of my parent’s home and replaced it with an Eero system as well. They’ve had no trouble and no complaints. Eero is expensive, but if you’ve had Wi-Fi trouble, it’s worth a look.

Disclosure: the Eero public relations heard the MPU podcast with Clayton Morris and sent David and I units to try for ourselves and that is the basis of this review. Since I originally wrote this review for ScreenCastsOnline (mid-July of 2016), Eero has sponsored one episode of Mac Power Users.

This article first appeared in the August Issue of ScreencastsOnline Monthly Magazine. ScreenCastsOnline monthly magazine is packed with hints, tips, articles and links to streamable versions of ScreenCastsOnline tutorials and delivered monthly on the iPad. You can find out more at [https://www.screencastsonline.com/membership_benefits/)

Katie's Week in Review: October 9, 2016

Isn’t it about time for an “October Surprise” from Apple? I sure hope so. But no word yet. Until then, here are the links of note for the week ending October 9, 2016:

  • Yahoo Secretly Scanned Millions of Customer Emails for U.S. Authorities- Because things just weren’t bad enough for Yahoo - Reuters broke the news this week that in compliance with a classified U.S. government demand, Yahoo scanned hundreds of million of Yahoo Mail accounts for the NSA of FBI. Tim Hardwick for MacRumors has a good breakdown of the story from various sources, including statements from Facebook, Google and Microsoft deniying conducting similar searches. Apple spokesperson said: “We have never received a request of this type, and if we were to receive one, we would oppose it in court.”
  • Apple Bumps Q4 Earnings Announcement and Call to Tuesday, October 25th - Apple has rescheduled its quarterly results call by one day due to a “scheduling conflict.” While not necessarily a big deal, it’s a rare move for Apple to reschedule these calls and people are already speculating that the reason for the reschedule may be due to forthcoming product announcements.
  • Major macOS updates can now download in the background - If you haven’t upgraded to macOS Sierra yet, Apple’s making that process a little easier for you. Starting this week, Apple is starting to download Sierra in the background of Macs that are compatible if they’ve got the “Download newly available updates in the background” option checked in System Preferences. While this might be technically within the realm of the preference dialog, previously Apple never automatically downloaded new operating systems in the background. As Jason Snell of Six Colors reports, the OS is not automatically installed, and the installer can be deleted. But some may see this as a little overly aggressive.
  • Samsung Has to Pay $120M for Apple’s Unlock Patent After All - As reported by Jeff Gamet at The Mac Observer, a new ruling handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday reinstates a $119.6 million fine for infringement on patents related to slide to unlock and autocorrect. As Jeff reports, the two are still fighting out a $548 million patent infringement case from 2011 that is currently on appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court. My guess is we haven’t heard the last of this.
  • 5 GB is the new 16 - Stephen Hackett at lays out the case for why it’s time for the 5GB iCloud free storage tier to go. Funny thing, I just got a call from my brother this weekend asking for help because his wife’s Mac ran out of space. Turns out she she hasn’t backed up her Mac or her iPhone for over a year because everything is paralyzed by her 60 GB photo library. Apple could fix this problem - now I have to unravel this mess.
  • When free space isn’t free: Purgeable storage in macOS Sierra - Speaking of messes I don’t want to clean up - I have not turned on Apple’s documents and desktop sync feature because that just sounds like messing with a swarm of bees. Jason Snell tries to sort out some of the confusion and explain exactly what “purgeable space” means in macOS Sierra.
  • iOS 10: How to Secure Your Lock Screen - With iOS 10 the lock screen provides a lot more information, but also can quickly become cluttered and an avenue to inadvertently share information with others. Dave Chartier, writing for The Mac observer, provides tips on how to tame your notifications and secure your screen.
  • New Mac Candle - I thought I was the only one who noticed, much less loved that “New Mac” smell. Turns out, I’m not. In fact the folks at Twelve South have figured out how to bottle up that smell and sell it - as a candle. I’m so temped to buy this. But that’s crazy right? Must not be, it’s sold out.
  • This week marks the 5th anniversary of Steve Jobs death. To commemorate, Recode put together some of the best moments of his appearance at their D conference.