Posts Tagged ‘updates’

I was in OS upgrade/update hell.  Okay, maybe not hell, but hell adjacent.

I am of course referring to the latest Mac operating system, OS X Mavericks.  The actual download was not so bad, if you don’t mind waiting for a 5.3 GB download that is, but the related app updates afterward got to be a little tedious and time-consuming. Especially when you get one that you’ve already done showing up again like the persistent iMovie 10.0 update.  I’ve already installed the latest version, but for some reason the App Store wants me to install it again since it seems to be showing up with a different date even though the release number is the same.  sigh.  All in all, if you are doing the update, make sure you set aside a large block of time and LOTS of bandwidth/data.  Maybe find someone with unlimited data from their ISP.
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mavericks-06Speaking of updates, I lost track of the number of them and the size, but suffice to say the first time I connected my Time Machine backup to the updated MBA running Mavericks, there were over 65 GB of changes to be backed up.  Thanks to a rather speedy Thunderbolt drive, it only took a couple of hours.
mavericks-04There were a few strange glitches after the Mavericks install. The first time I connected my iPad and synced it, the “finishing sync” lasted for an hour before I gave up and ejected it. Thankfully no harm done.  Another was the mail app that didn’t want to fetch new mail, even though it was set to “automatically” retrieve it seems to be on it’s own schedule.  I changed it to “every minute” and its working fine now.

mavericks-05I haven’t had much time to play with it yet, but the install went smooth for me (it’s always a crapshoot on a x.0 release so you may want to wait for the x.1) and speed seems to be good for opening programs.  I’ve noticed that my fan on my MBA is not running as often, which makes me think they’ve done some nice behind the scenes work on power usage.  To that end, in the battery indicator located in the menu bar, the “No apps using significant energy” is kinda cool.  I’ll have to try to bring my little laptop to its knees with some graphic and memory intense apps and see what that readout changes to.

If you were already running the last version of OS X you may not notice a lot of changes on the surface, aside from some new icons for a few apps.  Seems most of the big changes are behind the scenes.  Maybe they are running low on major changes to the operating system, after all its been a decade now since OS X debuted.

old iPhoto

old iPhoto, new Maps & iBooks

new iPhoto icon

new iPhoto icon

Speaking of changes, I have to say, bringing the Maps App from iOS to the OS X version has made it much nicer to find and adjust your route on a larger screen and then have it automatically appear in your recent’s on the iPhone and iPad. Sweet.  Also a welcome change was moving iBooks out of iTunes to become its own app and allowing it to be synced across all devices.  Sometimes I like to read on my Mac, not just my iPad or iPhone, so for me it is a good thing.  Depending upon your setup, you may not be as excited, but picking up where i left of on any device makes reading more accessible.

mavericks-08One thing that hit the news after the update was the fact people were seeing the latest iWork apps for free on some computers.  Turns out if you had a trial version of certain Apple software on your Mac, the trial allowed you to update to the full version after installing Mavericks.  I read a little about the issue and wondered if it still worked after the install was already done.  As a proof of concept – you know, purely for scientific reasons – I tracked down an installer for the trial version of iWork ’09.  It is still out there on a number of mirror sites if you hurry.

I installed the trial from the nearly half GB dmg file, and as soon as I opened Pages on my Mac I was greeted with the window telling me there was an update and asking if i’d like to install it.  No “purchase now” tab, just “update” in the App Store.  To ensure it worked, I of course installed it and yes, in fact, it is a full-blown version of Pages.  Same thing happened with Numbers and Keynote.

mavericks-07As was reported from an Apple source on MacTrast’s website… “Rather than maintain separate updates for these in addition to the Mac App Store versions of each app, Apple has decided to eliminate their legacy software update system for apps entirely. Instead, when Mavericks discovers legacy apps installed on your Mac, it provisions them as a Mac App Store purchase using your Apple ID. It saves us a lot of time, effort, and bandwidth. After the provision is complete, it will appear in your Mac App Store history as though you have purchased the Mac App Store version of the app.”  

Apple knows about the “glitch” and seems to be fine with it, figuring most people are honest and won’t abuse it.  They are probably also hoping that not many sites will continue to host the iWork ’09 Trial, but I personally expect a resurgence in the popularity of that particular download.

There will always be small problems with any major update to an OS and if you are using your Mac for business you may want to wait a week or so until the 10.9.1 update comes out, but I for one am happy so far, especially with having a few new free iWork apps to play with.  You know just to ensure they work.

barkerp

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…that is the question

The most common computer question I get after “Does this seem like a virus to you?” is “Should I replace my computer or not?
This may be a rambling reply, so get comfy, in the end there is an answer.

In this society where we tend to always want the latest best new thing, we often forget that we don’t always need to replace, sometimes an upgrade of key components can breathe new life into a computer.  Replacing the hard drive for instance.  If you have the option, then an SSD can make your computer run that much faster.  Especially when paired with bumping up the ram.  Max it out if possible.  If you are running a current Operating System (OS) then you shouldn’t have any software limitations to how much you can access and use.  Check with the technical specs for your specific computer and it will tell you what the max RAM is.  In the case of an Apple computer, check with Mactracker to confirm.  (http://mactracker.ca) Sometimes the Apple maximum is not the real maximum the device will support.

I mentioned “current OS”.  That is because older versions of Windows had maximum accessible ram caps, but that was changed with vista and Win7 and if you are not running one of those, then that is a good indication it may be time to check and see if your current PC is even capable of running a newer OS.  The latest Mac operating system has minimum system requirements to run smoothly and quickly and won’t install on older hardware, same with Windows.  You can check easily if your system will allow you to upgrade to the latest OS, which if it can’t then yes, it may be time to upgrade or replace.  For Mac, again, Mactracker is a great tool, as is the Apple website under support, in the Technical Specs for the OS you are thinking about.  Mountain Lion for instance is here… http://support.apple.com/kb/SP654.  Similarly with Win7 you can check here… http://windows.microsoft.com/is-IS/windows7/products/system-requirements. The Microsoft site above will also allow you to check your PCs compatibility from the site if you allow it.

Bare in mind, these are the MINIMUM requirements.  Some things may work, but slowly, so take it with a grain of salt.  If you are close to the low-end of what is required, tweaking the graphics will help to speed things up a little.  By that I mean turning off the fancy visual effects such as the “genie effect” in Mac OS dock, or disable Aero effects in Win7.

If you are already running a current version, or in some case, current enough, then another thing to do is keep it clean – both the hardware and the software. By clean I mean getting the dust and crumbs out of it as well as by removing unneeded software/apps/programs/files.  A full hard drive takes longer to access files and also causes havoc with programs looking for temporary space.  Any OS will try to allocate a chunk of space from your hard drive for file swapping and temp storage while you work, and some programs require more than other depending upon their undo files, etc.  It surprising how a little spring cleaning can help speed up your computer.  Getting back to the dust issue, a good rule of thumb for desktop computers is to open the case once a year and carefully blow out the innards with canned compressed air.  I typically do this with a vacuum running next to it to catch all the dust before letting it back into the house/office.

If you are having the hard drive replaced or adding extra ram to speed things up, the shop/person doing it for you will typically physically clean out the inside of the computer.  Ask them to check the operation of the system fans and power supply fan while in there too.  A system not properly being cooled will also have troubles and can cause slow downs or in severe cases, system failure, shutdowns or damage.

If you’ve tried speeding up what you have, have updated it as much as you can and still aren’t happy with the speeds, then at least you have a good clean system as a spare, or a hand-me-down, or better yet maybe a hand-me-up.  Once you’ve got your new computer and transferred all your files/data/programs, why not give your old one to your parents or grandparents, odds are it is better than they already have and they will appreciate the gesture of finally paying them back for all the things they gave you growing up.  It may be better than giving it to your kids, who if they are like mine, want the newest toys on the market anyway.  Also, it is nice you are familiar with the system, so that way when they ask you questions about how it works, you’ll be able to help them out easily.  One last perk is you are keeping it out of the landfill, and giving it a little extra life, which always feels good to me when I’m justifying buying the latest and greatest for myself.

Use the tech-shuffle to your advantage, there is usually someone who will be thankful for your hand-me-down/up devices.

barkerp

p.s. –  for all your Shakespeare nuts, yes I know the image of the hand holding the skull doesn’t go with the “to be or not to be” scene in Hamlet, but I’m taking artistic license, Horatio.

I’ve tried over the years to start my blog drafts on my iPhone and then do the final tweaking on a PC simply because its hard to see what the finished result is going to be on the small screen. That and the fact the older version of the app was always a pain to get photos where I wanted them on the post I was working on. Well, i’ve got to say, with the latest updates to the iPhone WordPress app, that is no longer the case. I decided to try and do entire posts from my iPhone without ever even checking to see what they look like on the big screen, which thankfully seems to be working quite well (as you can see in the screen grab- the one with Preview at the top)

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There are a few things you need to know when using the app, mainly what the little symbols across the bottom do, especially if you just want to save your post as a draft and not accidentally post it instead.

You can guess at the first one,the pencil, it is where you write, the second , the cog, is for settings. This is the one I screwed up on and didn’t change a post I was working on to draft so it published it when I hit update. Oops. (the third screengrab shows the setting I forgot to change. As you can see it clearly shows draft now) The third icon, the eye, is for previewing what your post will look like on your blog. After that is the paperclip, the movie symbol and the photo symbol. Each of which is pretty much self-explanatory as to their purpose.

The only thing that is a little goofy is the previewing of the saved post since it scales everything to fit your iPhone screen instead of my typical LCD laptop or desktop screen.

Another item of note, is the “update” in the top corner of the screen whenever you make a change, it doesn’t mean update the app, it means update the post – basically it saves it. You need to “update” your post to save it which allows it to be previewed properly, otherwise you get a message telling you “Sorry the post has changed, or its is not published. A simple preview is shown below.”

Aside from a few little glitches that were basically just me not knowing how things worked, the app is a great way to get your message out there as long as you don’t mind the occasional goofy-looking layout that may occur when viewed full screen on a larger display.

tcg

ps – this entire blog post including screen grabs was done using the WordPress app on my iPhone.

Routines.  In day-to-day life they can be good. Taking away some of the stresses by getting into routines can make life easier.  I always put my wallet, iPhone and keys in the same place at night for instance, that way they are easy to find in the always-in-a-rush-why-didn’t-i-get-up-earlier mornings.

But routines can also be dangerous in that we sometimes become lazy when it comes to our maintenance of our computers and devices when it comes to security.  Which can be especially bad this time of year as we find ourselves with a bit more time on our hands to spend with family and friends, the last thing you want is to find your trusty computer bogged down with nasty malware, adware, or the latest threat, Scareware.

What is scareware you may ask.  It’s those popups and emails you get telling you that you may already be infected and need to update or install a new program to protect yourself.  Always with a cost involved.  These warnings are coming at you from every side now it seems, social networking sites warning you, emails, website popups, etc. all trying to get you to drop your guard and install the problem that you are being warned you already have.  Another strain of these is fake antivirus.  Fake antivirus is fake security software which pretends to find dangerous security threats—such as viruses—on your computer. The initial scan is free, but if you want to clean up the fraudulently- reported “threats,” you need to pay.  Don’t be thinking if you run a Mac you are free of this threat either.  Its a growing market and Macs are becoming a lucrative part of it, possibly because most Mac users have gotten used to thinking they are immune.

Many times these scareware programs take you to fake scanning pages, which then give you fake results in an attempt to scare you into purchasing their software to remove the threats.  More often than not these threats are fake and you end up causing more problems if you download and install the supposed fix.

These scams can be found in numerous formats and flavors lately ranging from fake movie download pages prompting you to download a supposed codec you need to play the video, or Email Account suspension scams telling you that you need to provide information in order to remove the suspension.  I’ve seen a bunch of these of late, each time slightly different from the last, but regardless all fake.  Even some supposed “ecard” sites telling you that you received an electronic greeting card from someone.  Make sure you check the sending address of any ecard  you receive, because this is an especially effective way to get you to download a virus.

These tricky little buggers also like to hide in temporary areas on your Pc once installed and have the ability to create random file names, and recreate the infection if you don’t clear it out completely by hiding its own installer in another spot on your computer (typically  C:Documents and Settings<user>Local Settings Application Data, or c:windowstemp).

Sure, windows users are more easily targeted and have been the most widely affected, but don’t think because you use a Mac you are immune, that’s just not true anymore.  The more of us there are out there, the bigger a target market for the nerdowells who would rather take your money than make their own legitimately. It’s not going to go away, there is too much money being made from the unsuspecting, so it is best to protect yourself by keeping your antivirus updated, some of which have anti-spam built-in.  If yours doesn’t you should find a solution that does.

As it is often said, the best defense is a good offense.  Or an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Either way, what it boils down to is think before you click.  It only takes a second or two to check and make sure you are not just opening up a can or worms that is going to ruin your day, or your week & potentially destroy your personal data.

As Robert Bateman so aptly put it… “Creation is long and difficult, destruction is quick.”  So protect yourself and your data.  Scareware is one of those things that once you’ve made that one quick wrong click it can seem like forever undoing it.

tcg

You may have heard of MacKeeper, but have no idea what it does, or how it works, or if it’s right for you.  I’ll try to answer all that and also fill you in on a great way to use portions of it without shelling out the bucks if you are on a tight budget.

Most people have tons of programs on their Macs that are constantly being updated, and while some of them let you know when you start them up if they have updates available, not all do.  This is the reason other apps like MacKeeper have come into being. We all need an easy way to check and see what programs have updates available without having to open every program in our applications folder.

I used to use a dashboard widget but found the results to be more incorrect than anything.  Mostly to do with application names it seems.  It would report back available update for programs where there were none, and it got rather annoying.  So far from my limited usage of MacKeeper this has not been as much of a problem.  But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit.

3,700% installed? hmmm, that seems a little off.

MacKeeper is a program whose intention is to help keep your Mac clean, up to date and problem free.  For more info check out their website  http://mackeeper.zeobit.com/index  It’s a small download and simple install, only taking up about 17.3 meg of space.  The scanning however can take a little while longer – full scan on my MBP took about 20 mins.

It’s touted as being a fully functional download, which I suppose is correct as long as you don’t include actually fixing any problems as part of the functionality.  I had the program installed and running and getting test results before any mention of needing to pay for the program to actually do any cleaning or housekeeping.  When I went to fix a couple of errors automatically, thats when I was taken to the website and shown the cost of the program.  I toyed with buying it to see the full results of the automatic cleaning and the full functionality but I’m always looking for cheap or even Free ways to get things done for those people who are on a tight budget, so I decided to see if the info reported back could be used without buying the app.   Short answer: Yes.  Longer answer:  Read on.

(edit: as I was about to post this entry, I checked the MacKeeper webpage and see that they are now stating it is a fully functioning 15 day trial, although my install tells me my trial is up without me ever getting a chance to use any of the features)

scanning in progress

results have easy to see sizes for each problem

programs in need of updating. maybe.

there is a lot of power packed in there

If you are wondering if the app is worth the money, that’s been dealt with numerous times by numerous people (as a matter of fact as I was writing this post i saw MacLife posted a story about the app) and I’m not going to regurgitate their comments, my take on this app is how can someone with a few problems fix it for themselves without shelling out the big bucks because lets face it, sometimes the easiest solution is not financially viable. (students read that as more beer money remaining in your pocket)

One thing to note.  As mentioned earlier, some of what it reports as outdated is incorrect.  I had this same problem with version tracker.  It used to drive me nuts so I stopped using it.  It would appear to be just par for the course with this type of program, for instance, with MacKeeper  I’m told Skype is outdated.  Not so.  Ran Skype, checked for updates, and was told I have the most current.  Same thing happened with a few other apps, so take the results with a grain of salt, sometimes the updates are just available Betas.

Little things like “Cache Cleaning” are easy for you to do yourself with freeware programs you may already have, or even restarting your Mac will clean out a lot of that clutter.

Languages” is one area I’m a little hesitant to start messing with so do so at your own peril.  I used another app a few years back to “localize” my install and it ended up screwing up a few of my programs and had to restore a number of files from my Time Machine backup.

Logs” are another great way to clean up some space fairly easily since the app reports back the locations of all of them for you if you want to hunt and delete on your own.

Duplicate Finder” is another great list that may be helpful to you, but again, use it with a grain of salt.  Not all of the duplicates found are necessarily ones you want to delete.  Email attachments show up as duplicates for instance, and for me blowing them away out of folders would mean I’d have a bugger of a time finding them again buried in those emails if I needed them.  Like most of the components in MacKeeper – this is a very powerful and should be used carefully.  Which is why I’m always hesitant to let apps do any quick cleaning themselves.

I’ve only touched on a couple of the features of this program, as you can see from the screenshot above, there are many parts to this app that allow the average user to control and view all sorts of information.  As always, be prepared before you start tweaking anything and ensure you have a fully functioning backup of everything.

As to whether you should buy the full-blown app, I’d say if you are having any issues beyond the updating of software then it might be a good way to consolidate all your maintenance into one place.  You can do much of the same fixing and tweaking using other freeware programs (search “cache cleaner for mac” in google for instance and see how many free programs there are) or by doing them manually by yourself using the tools already installed on your Mac, but sometimes it is easier to get help and save yourself the headaches.  Especially when it comes to antivirus on a Mac.  If you are one of those people who doesn’t check embedded web links before proceeding to them, or sometimes opens zip files without first checking to see who or where they are from, then you probably need an antivirus program (there are even free antivirus programs out there for Mac OS X if you feel so inclined).

Sometimes just seeing what all the clutter and mess is, is enough and you can deal with it yourself .  Other times you need some help cleaning it out.  If the latter is true, then MacKeeper could be your virtual housekeeper, just be careful not to give it the keys to the house without watching over what it’s doing or you could find your silverware missing.

tcg