Katie's Week in Review: September 25, 2016

This week saw the release of macOS Sierra and a small update to iOS 10. Here are the links of note for the week ending September 25, 2016:

  • macOS Sierra Review: Hey Siri, where did my files go? - Jason Snell at Six Colors reviews the latest macOS. While Sierra isn’t a major update to macOS, brings some nice enhancements, but some of the new storage optimization features aren’t without some issues.
  • Which Macs can run macOS Sierra? - Wondering if your Mac can run Sierra? For the first time in several years, a few older Macs will be left behind. Roman Loyola at Macworld has the breakdown of which Macs will run the OS and the system requirements for the various features.
  • How to create a bootable macOS Sierra installer drive - I like to create a bootable installer drive for installing (or reinstalling) the OS on my machines in the future. Macworld has updated their annual guide with instructions.
  • 6 Photos features that are worth the upgrade to macOS Sierra - One of the major updates to macOS Sierra are updates within the Photos.app itself. Jason Snell writing for Macworld has a list of major updates to Photos
  • iOS 10.0.2 - Apple released a minor but important update to iOS 10. This update fixes a problem that would cause headphone controls on lighting headphones (or those connected using the lighting to 3.5mm adapter) to time out after a period of non-use. It also addresses other minor issues.
  • First impressions of Portrait Mode on the iPhone 7 Plus - Apple released a developer beta of iOS 10.1 that includes the touted “extra credit project” Apple was working on but not ready to release yet for the iPhone 7 Plus. Portrait mode will produce a depth effect by blurring the background of certain photos to simulate depth of field. Jason Snell had an opportunity to test the feature, which is still in an early beta.
  • iPhone Upgrade Program: The ultimate guide - As someone who has traditionally upgraded their iPhone every two years but would certainly like a new iPhone every year, I’m intrigued by Apple’s iPhone upgrade program. The team at iMore have written a few comprehensive guides to how the program works. For me, the major downside right now is that it requires showing up in person at an Apple Store. My closest Apple Store is 60+ miles away. For now, I’ve upgraded through my carrier but will keep my eye on the upgrade program as Apple seems to be learning more about this process and making refinements each year.
  • If you’ve ever created a Yahoo account, take these steps immediately to protect your data - Another day, another massive data breach. This one’s pretty scary. As reported by April Glaser at Recode, Yahoo has confirmed that its entire database of users was breached in 2014 resulting in over 500 million user records including names, email addresses and some phone numbers and additional information being breached and now sold on the blackmarket. I have a Yahoo account from years ago, I went back and checked, thankfully I was using a unique and randomly generated password from 1Password that I was able to quickly change, so no big deal. But many people probably aren’t that lucky. In addition to changing your now compromised Yahoo password, you also need look at other services that use the same password as well as services that are connected to that email address. It’s probably a good idea to go ahead and change any “mission critical” passwords such as financial accounts that are associated with the compromised email address. You might also want to consider switching to an email provider that offers two-factor authentication.
  • Although I’m not a big fan of Apple Music, apple did release a new ad on their YouTube channel promoting the service. It’s hysterical and I loved seeing Bozoma Saint John again. Enjoy.

Mac Power Users #341: iOS 10 - Relay FM

This week on Mac Power Users, David and I dive deep on the new iOS 10 update for iPhone and iPad.

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Katie's Week In Review: September 18, 2016

This week saw the release of iOS 10 and watchOS 3, and new iPhones being delivered. Here are the links of note from around the web for the week ending September 18, 2016:

  • iOS 10: The MacStories Review iOS 10 was released to the world this week and Federico Viticci has released his epic review. This 10,000+ word review covers soup to nuts everything you could possibly want to know about the new operating system and in-depth analysis of what the new features mean for iOS users. Snuggle up in a comfy chair with a nice beverage and check it out.
  • The iPhone 7 reviews were also released this week, here are a look at a few of my favorites:
  • iPhone 7 Plus Teardown - The folks at iFixit quickly went to work tearing apart a new iPhone 7 Plus. (They also tore down an Apple Watch Series 2) Overall iFixit gives the iPhone a 7 out of 10 on the repairability scale (with 10 being easiest to repair). They say the battery is straightforward to access and the new solid state home button eliminates a common point of failure. They also praise the iPhone for improved water and dust protection which eliminates the need for repairs associated with accidental spills. However, with the additional waterproofing, the removal of the display assembly is more difficult.
  • tvOS 10 is missing its best feature, but this show ain’t over yet - Writing for Macworld, Dan Moren that tvOS 10 was released this week, however it’s landmark feature, single sign-in didn’t make the cut. Instead Apple has updated their tvOS page to ay the feature is “coming soon.”
  • PSA: iOS 10 No Longer Supports 3rd-Gen Apple TV as HomeKit Hub - Speaking of the Apple TV, Jim Tanous at The Mac Observer points out that with iOS 10, the 3rd Generation Apple TV appears to have actually lost a feature, the ability to act as a HomeKit hub. As a partial compromise, iOS 10 does introduces the ability to use an iPad as your Hub instead, which is helpful if you have an iPad you keep primarily at home.
  • Can’t access iMessage effects in iOS 10? Here’s the culprit. Admittedly, I’ve been a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to some of the new features of Messages in iOS 10. I have a certain friend who shall remain nameless who insists on sending me messages with ridiculous effects an animations. As Dan Moren writing for Six Colors notes, if you turn on the Reduce Motion option in Accessibility it prevents you from sending, or receiving some of the new iMessage effects. Some call this an annoyance. Some may call this a feature.
  • Switch your Apple Watch to a new iPhone - Every time I have to swap out my iPhone I mess up my Apple Watch. I feel like Apple should give an explicit warning about his. Before you make the same mistake I did, here’s an article from Apple on the steps to properly switch your Apple Watch to a new iPhone.
  • Tim Cook went on Good Morning America to talk about the new iPhone 7 and AirPods. 

Mac Power Users #340: GTD Workflows with Mike Williams - Relay FM

This week on Mac Power Users, David and I chat with Mike Williams, President and CEO of the David Allen Company. We talk about the GTD methodology, the tech he uses to get things done, implementing the 5 steps and common pitfalls and solutions.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • The Omni Group We're passionate about productivity for Mac, iPhone and iPad. 
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Katie's Week In Review: September 11, 2016

Our long lull of Apple news is finally over. This post is jam-packed with links and information from Apple’s September 7th event. Without further delay, here are the links of note for the week ending September 11, 2016:

  • Apple Special Event September 7, 2016 - if you haven’t had an opportunity to see the keynote, Apple has now posted the full keynote to their website and YouTube channel.
  • Thoughts and Observations on This Week’s iPhone 7 / Apple Watch Series 2 Special Event - John Gruber was on hand at the special event and has detailed his early thoughts and impressions. Gruber focused a lot of attention on the Apple Watch noting the branding has been cleaned up and Apple is putting a strong emphasis on fitness.
  • Mossberg: Apple, the king of tech taste and daring, takes a breather - Similarly, Walt Mossberg, writing for Recode called the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus impressive, but thinks Apple is taking some risks by keeping the form factor of the phones the same for a third year in a row and removing the standard headphone jack.
  • Why the headphone jack must die - Taking a different approach, David Pogue of Yahoo Tech spells out the reasons why it’s time for the headphone jack to die.
  • Apple warns new glossy Jet Black iPhone 7 finish will scratch easily, recommends using case - Apple’s new “Jet Black” finish on the iPhone 7 is clearly the new darling of the product line, it’s featured prominently in all of Apple’s promotional materials. However, as Jordan Kahn of 9to5 Mac points out, Apple has a warning in the fine print that indicates due to the high-gloss finish it may show “fine micro-abrasions” with use. Apple suggests if this is a concern, you should pickup a case. That’s disappointing as almost all cases will completely cover the fancy new finish.
  • Apple to Sell Standalone Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter for $9, Lightning EarPods for $29 - Prior to the event there was lots of speculation whether Apple would or wouldn’t include a Lightning to 3.5mm headphone adapter in the box with the iPhone 7 and what the adapter would cost. Turns out, Apple has taken he high road here. As pointed out by Juli Clover of MacRumors the 3.5mm Headphone Jack Adapter sells on Apple’s website for $9 while an additional set of Lightning EarPods will cost $29. Apple includes one of each in the box.
  • Belkin Lightning Adapter Solves iPhone 7 Listen While Charging Problem - One common complaint I’ve heard about the lack of a headphone jack is that people can no longer listen to headphones while charging their iPhone. While this is something I don’t do often, I can see it being an issue. Have no fear, third party vendors to the rescue. Jeff Gamet of the Mac Observer has details on a $40 adapter from Belkin that is effectively a lighting port splitter. I’m sure we’ll see other options from vendors in the future.
  • Apple introduces new $29 screen repair tier to AppleCare+, raises fee for other repairs to $99 - Apple sells $99 AppleCare plus for iPhones and iPads. However, for accidental damage, there is a repair fee. Apple has continually raised the repair fee, presumably due to the higher cost of repair as the devices become more complex. As reported by Chance Miler of 9to5 Mac, Apple has announced there is now a flat $99 charge for all incidental repairs under AppleCare+. Interestingly, there is now an option to replace a screen for $29. Note that the $29 screen repair fee applies only if the glass is broken and there is no other damage. If there is damage to the digitizer or components under the screen (which is common) the full $99 fee will apply.
  • AirPods hands-on: They stayed in my ears and sounded awesome - One of the announcements I’m most excited about is the new AirPods. At $160 they’re a little pricy, and I’m terrified I’m going to lose one, but the technology is so cool. Susie Ochs of Macworld seems to really like the new AirPods too. In her hands-on she said despite her best efforts to dislodge them, the EarPods stayed in her ear and and the sound was impressive.
  • The Magic of AirPods - Jason Snell of Six Colors also had high praise for AirPods. Although Jason only had a few minutes of hands on time with the AirPods, he was impressed and like Susie was pleasantly surprised at how well the AirPods stayed in his ears where traditional Apple EarPods did not.
  • Tim Cook Says Apple is ‘Very Committed’ to the Mac and to ‘Stay Tuned’ - One thing we didn’t hear about at this event was the Mac. As reported by Joe Rossingnol at Mac Rumors, Cook supposedly responded to a MacRumors reader’s email about the lack of the MacBook Pro refresh saying that he “loves the mac” and that Apple is “very committed” to it and urging the writer to “stay tuned.” I’m waiting.
  • Apple Drops Prices, Bumps Storage on iPad Line - One surprise that apparently didn’t even warrant a press release, Apple has quietly dripped the prices on several iPad models while bumping storage. As Jeff Gamet of The Mac observer explains, the 16GB storage option is gone across the line and a new 256 storage option is now available on several models.
  • iPhone Preorder Lessons Learned - While it may be a bit late for this year, save this page for reference next year. Casey Liss details best practices for pre-ordering your new Apple device to make sure that you can get in and out as quickly as possible and with minimal hassle to ensure your new toy ships as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t Blink - For years websites have been making parody videos of Apple Keynotes shortening them down to just a few minutes. Apple decided to get ahead of the game and introduce their own this year. They posted this video to their YouTube Channel:

Adding to my Smart Home: The Chamberlin MyQ Garage Door Opener

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I love the dream of the smart home. Sadly, the dream of the smart home of the future is still probably a few years off, but things are getting better. Over the last couple years I’ve added a couple of smart technologies to my home:

I first learned about the Chamberlin MyQ from Casey Liss. I was immediately intrigued and added the MyQ to my Amazon watchlist using the PriceRadar price tracking App and kept my eye open for a good deal. Last month a deal came up on an open box unit from Amazon’s Warehouse Deals and I jumped on it.

Following Allison Sheridan’s lead, I’ll first tell you the problem to be solved. I’ll regularly be driving to work in the morning and have this nagging suspicion that I forgot to close the garage door. More often than not, I turn around and swing back by the house to check. (For what it’s worth, I’ve never found the door open - but if I don’t check it will nag me all day.)

About a year ago I had the bright idea to install an inexpensive D-Link webcam in my garage. While this won’t help me in the event I actually leave the door open, it does allow me to check whether or not the door is open or closed without having to turn around and drive back home. For under $50 (depending on the model you buy) this was a pretty good solution and worth the peace of mind.

But, the webcam really didn’t solve the problem if I actually left the door open. While I do have keypad outside my garage to allow someone entry, it would be nice to be able to let someone into my garage or house without actually being home or giving them a code. And, truth is, I really liked the idea of being able to remotely open and close my garage door from my cell phone. So I decided to give the MyQ a try.

The beauty of the MyQ is that it works with most garage door openers. Mine’s a basic Genie model that was installed by the builder. The MyQ is two pieces, one is a sensor that mounts to the garage door to detect if it is open, closed or in motion. The other piece is the base station mounted in your garage and acts as a remote that will will relay a signal to open or close the door. Note that for this setup to work you have to have reasonable Wi-Fi reception in your garage.

Once the two pieces are mounted in your garage you are walked through the process of downloading the companion App and connecting the MyQ to your home network. If you’ve ever setup any connected home product you’re probably pretty familiar with this setup. You either share your iPhone’s network settings over bluetooth, or temporary join a Wi-Fi network created by the MyQ to provide the credentials to connect to your network. You also have to create an account with Chamberlin.

Once you have your account setup and the MyQ connected to your Wi-Fi, you finish the setup by configuring the MyQ basestation to control your garage door. If you’ve ever programed a new remote to control your opener you should be able to do this. Press a button on the box connected to your garage door, give the MyQ some information about the type of door you have, then put your Garage door in pairing mode.

Total setup time, including mounting the various pieces in the garage, took less than 15 minutes. Chamberlin provided fairly detailed instructions and I’m confident any geek should be able to accomplish this setup with no problem. Just make sure you follow all the steps in order and don’t jump ahead.

In my two months using the MyQ I’ve been pretty happy. I can open and close my garage door from the companion App on my iPhone. I’ve also setup a few custom rules to alert me immediately if my garage door opens or closes during certain times of the day (like times when normally there’s no activity at my home) and I’ve setup a notification to let me know if my door has been open for more than 15 and 30 minutes. These are great features if you have a family and want to know when people are coming and going.

There are a few things that could be improved. First, the Chamberlin MyQ is not currently compatible with HomeKit, IFTTT or Amazon’s Alexa. So for now, I have to open and close my garage door from their App on my iPhone. (Like an animal!) As a safety feature, the MyQ will implement a short delay and will make a loud noise and flash a light if you’re closing the garage door using the App. This is to provide someone at the home warning the door is about to be closed remotely. While this is probably a good idea, it can get old. (Damn lawyers!) Finally (and probably my only legitimate complaint) have had 2–3 false positives in the 2 months I’ve been using the MyQ where it has reported the garage door has been open when it was really closed. While this is not a high failure rate, it’s enough to make me keep my backup D-Link camera system in place.

As with any home automation product I suggest that you use a strong and unique password that you change frequently and connect the MyQ to a secure network.

List price on the Chamberlin MyQ is $130, though you can usually find it for just under $100 on Amazon. If you’re willing to buy an open box or refurb, you can get it for even less. Overall I’ve been happy to have the MyQ as an addition to my smart home, I just wish these all these smart home devices would work interoperate with each other so I didn’t have to keep so many different apps from different companies on my home screen to control my house.

This article first appeared in the July 2016 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 via Newsstand on the iPad. You can find out more at https://www.screencastsonline.com/membership_benefits/

MacVoices: MacJury Deliberations On The "See On The 7th" Apple Event

If you want to hear (and see) me talk more about Apple's September 7th event, here's you're opportunity.

I was pleased to Join Chuck Joiner, Charles Edge and Don McAllister on the MacJury to analyze and examine the announcements of Apple’s “See You On The 7th” event. Discussing the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7S, The Apple Watch Series 2, Apple Watch Nike+, new Beats headphones, new camera technology, the loss of the earphone jack, the introduction of AirPods, the arrival of Mario, and much more.

Mac Power Users #339: iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2 - Relay FM

David and I recorded a special edition of Mac Power Users last night. We broke down Apple's announcements at its September 7 Keynote including iPhone 7, Apple Watch Series 2.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

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