Meltdown & Spectre

Jan05

We want to make you aware of two bugs that affect nearly every device made in the last 20 years.

Simply put, these security flaws put your information at risk. The best course of action (as it has always been) is do two things:

1) Keep all your devices (Macs, iPhones, iPads and Apple TVs) and software up-to-date with the latest updates and patches.
2) Do not install software or click on links from untrusted sources.


For more detailed information, please see the links below:

Think you’re getting the best deal on Amazon?

Jan13

Jason Del Rey over at Re/code has an article about a study from a company that helps clients keep track of competitors’ prices.

The study of Amazon’s pricing uncovered some interesting tactics. First, Amazon doesn’t have the lowest prices across the board, which may not surprise industry insiders but might surprise Amazon shoppers…Amazon identifies the most popular products on its site and consistently prices them under the competition…But when it comes to the HD cables that customers often buy with a new TV, Amazon actually pushed up the price by 33 percent ahead of the holidays. One reason is that the cables weren’t among the most popular in their category, meaning that they have little impact on price perception among shoppers. Secondly, Amazon most likely figures (or knows) it can make a profit on these cables because customers won’t price-compare on them as carefully as they would on more expensive products.

“Amazon may not actually be the lowest-priced seller of a particular product in any given season,” the report reads, “but its consistently low prices on the highest-viewed and best-selling items drive a perception among consumers that Amazon has the best prices overall — even better than Walmart.”

You still need to price-compare while shopping at Amazon. Aside from looking at other stores, looking at the price history of an item can also be helpful. CamelCamelCamel.com offers the price history on items sold by Amazon by using the URL or the ASIN of a product. You can create an account with CamelCamelCamel and set price watches for items. When the item goes below your set price, you will get an email telling you what the current price is. They also have a Chrome browser extension that will display the price history when you are looking at an item on Amazon. Here’s an example of what CamelCamelCamel can show you. It’s a handy tool.

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Where’s your Recovery Key to your AppleID with two-factor authentication?

Dec09

If you have enabled two-factor authentication for your Apple ID (and you really should if you haven’t), you were given a Recovery Key. It was 14 characters, all capital letters, and probably something you didn’t think much about. You need to find it right now and save it in a safe location such as 1Password or, if it’s on paper, somewhere not near your computer. If someone tries to get into your account and locks it, the only way for you to get back in is to use that Recovery Key. You read that correctly, the only way to get back into your account is to enter your Recovery Key. You can read the experience of Owen Williams at TNW who thought he had lost his recovery key after someone tried to get into his Apple account.

If everything is ok with your AppleID, you can login and generate a new Recovery key. You can go to Apple’s site, https://appleid.apple.com, go to “Manage your Apple ID” and after entering your ID, password, and code, you can select “Replace your Recovery Key” which will generate a new code for you.

appleid image

 

Other services use similar Recovery Keys as well, such as GMail, and you will want to make sure you have those Recovery Keys as well.

OS X History

Oct15

With a new version OS X 10.10 named Yosemite soon upon us, I remembered back to the first version that was released in March of 2001. Actually there was a server version in 1999 that I never used. Yosemite is 11th version for the desktop since the first was 10.0.  I still have a copy of OS X 10.0, code named Cheetah though the box did not have the cat name on it. That version cost me $129.

In version 10.1 Apple formally used the name Puma. They continued with big cat names until 10.9 which they named Mavericks. I have copies of all and actually run 10.3 Panther, 10.4 Tiger, 10.5 Leopard and 10.6 Snow Leopard on various old Macs in my collection. Tiger supports OS 9 in Classic mode as well. You can read about all versions of the Mac OS at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Mac_OS

I am also in the process os scanning all old Mini’app’les newsletters to add to our web site. It appears that the first substantial mention of OS X was in the May 2001 issue where an article from Tidbits was included. Since an OCR of the scan copy required cleanup, I looked on the Tidbits site to find the original. Not finding it, I emailed Adam Engst, the author, who provided the following link: http://tidbits.com/article/6372 .  This article still has good advice as to who should install a new version of Mac OS X and when.

If you plan to upgrade to Yosemite, the following is a good resource though there are plenty of other free articles being published.
http://www.takecontrolbooks.com/yosemite-upgrading?pt=TB1239&cp=CPN016640904PRE

iPhone Buyer beware: Check the Activation Lock status

Oct02

Buyers of used equipment are often concerned about purchasing hot goods. Moral questions aside, when it comes to iPhones you want to be certain that the device isn’t Activation Locked—this prevents it from being used until it’s unlocked with the rightful owner’s Apple ID credentials. Apple now provides an iCloud portal where you can you enter a device’s serial number or IMEI to check its lock status.

I entered my iPhone’s Serial Number here…

…and confirmed that my phone is locked.

You’ll have to use a desktop browser, Mobile Safari won’t work. At this time the tool is targeted at desktop browsers. If you want to access the site using Mobile Safari (iOS 8) you’ll need to jump through extra hoops:

Go to icloud.com and use the Request Desktop Site feature:

To access this, give a gentle pull down on the menubar to see two new choices: Add to Favorites and Request Desktop Site. Tap the latter and the page will reformat, usually presenting itself in desktop glory.

ᔥ Macworld | Get to know iOS 8: Five convenient new tricks in Safari

Once you’re viewing the desktop version, type icloud.com/activationlock into the URL bar.

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