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Archive for February, 2014

by Tom Nelson

This weekend’s Mac DIY project may not seem very exciting. Some of you may shy away from it, because you just don’t like to clean. And who knows what cleaning your Mac might lead to? You might end up cleaning your desk, your office, the family room, or the basement. You might even (heaven forbid!) break out the vacuum cleaner.

Weekend DIY - Keeping Your Mac Clean Helps Keep It Trouble-freeCourtesy of Apple

While it’s possible that you might go on a cleaning binge, it’s well worth the risk. Keeping your Mac clean can help ensure a longer, more trouble-free life. So, unless you’re looking for an excuse to buy a new Mac, and having your current one keel over from neglect would fit right into your plans, let’s get started.

Our cleaning guide focuses on the basics: the monitor, keyboard, and mouse or trackpad.

I suggest starting with your Mac’s display, since it’s something you look at every time you use your Mac. If you haven’t cleaned the display in a long time, you may be surprised at what a difference it makes. Yes, there really is a Mac under all that dust.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Apple has posted an SMC firmware update for the late 2013 Mac Pro that allows the cylindrical Mac to enter a Power Nap state without running its fan.

New Mac Pro Receives SMC 2.0 Update

Courtesy of Apple

There are restrictions on the no-fan state during Power Nap, so it’s still possible that a Power Nap activity could cause the fan to spin up. Apple hasn’t yet listed what the restrictions are, so if you have a new Mac Pro, let us know what you’re doing that causes the fans to spin up during a Power Nap.

In addition, the SMC update fixes a problem that sometimes caused a low-speed USB (USB 2.0 or slower) device from being detected at boot-up. This update should get those older USB 2 external devices working correctly.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Recently, I was perusing the Mac App Store looking for a new game or two to play. This, of course, was all in the line of duty in my job as a Mac pundit. It’s hard work writing about the Mac, and games are as important a topic as security or how to install software (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, Bob’s your uncle).

How I Re-download Apps From the Mac App Store; You Can, Too
Courtesy of Apple

Anyway, while downloading a Mac game, my wireless connection shut down. We have an ongoing issue with one of our wireless routers; from time to time, it just stops sending data to a client, causing the client to eventually time out. We’ll replace the wireless router at some point, but for now we manage the problem by issuing a remote reset command. The router then starts to work again, at least for a while.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Apple today released security updates for OS X Lion and Mountain Lion that address the SSL security bugwe highlighted earlier this week.

Apple Releases OS X Mavericks 10.9.2 Along With Security Updates to Fix SSL Flaw 

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc

Apple also released OS X Mavericks 10.9.2, which incorporates the same security update needed to address the SSL bug mentioned above. In addition to the security update, 10.9.2 includes new FaceTime Audio support, new Messages and FaceTime features that let you block others from sending you requests, and Mail fixes that finally bring Gmail compatibility to Mail and also fix a few remaining bugs. The Mavericks update also improves Safari’s AutoFill feature and further enhances support for SMB2 file sharing protocols.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

On February 21, Apple released a security update for iOS 7 and iOS 6 that fixed an issue that could allow someone to monitor and save data being sent between an iOS device and a server on the Internet.

The problem occurs because of a flaw in the SSL (Secure Socket Layer) implementation in iOS devices that could lead to a “man-in-middle” attack on any iOS device.

Turns out the same SSL flaw is also present in OS X. Using Safari, Mail, Messages, or any other app that uses Apple’s SSL library could leave you vulnerable to having your data captured and used by a third party.

While the faulty SSL libraries have the potential for loss of personal data, it’s important to know that if you’re using your Mac on a trusted network, such as your home or work connections, the possibility of the SSL security breach occurring becomes extremely low. The SSL problem has the highest chance of being exploited when using your Mac on a public Wi-Fi network, such as connecting to an open network at a coffee shop or an airport.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

The refurb store is currently well stocked with Mac portables, but the only desktop Macs available are iMacs. You may think the stock is a bit thin this week, but the refurb store is still full of deals.

AppleRefurb

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Best Deals of the Week **

This week we’re highlighting a pair of Macs that provide a good value in the Apple refurb store:

  • 2012 13.3 inch MacBook Air priced at $849, a 29% price reduction over its original $1,199 cost.
  • 2012 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display priced at $1,659, a 24% price drop from its original $2,199 cost.

 Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

Trim Enabler from Cindori Software provides an easy way to enable Trim on third-party SSDs you’re using with your Mac.

Trim Enabler Pro: Tom's Mac Software Pick

Image courtesy of Cindori Software

Trim is a housekeeping chore performed by SSDs to release blocks of data that are no longer in use. Unlike standard mechanical drives, which can simply write new data directly to any data block that is considered to be free space, SSDs must erase a data block before new data can be written to it. This can cause a decrease in write performance because the SSD needs to write an entire block in order to erase it, and then rewrite the block’s data from a cached copy, along with the new data that is to be saved. The result is excessive writes and a decrease in performance.

Trim helps performance by erasing a block of data in the background, instead of when data needs to be written to the SSD. Trim also organizes the erase process so that fewer write cycles are used, thereby increasing expected SSD longevity.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

This weekend’s DIY project is a blast from the past. When I started writing for About, one of the first projects I put together was instructions on how to create a weather widget, which allows you to view your local weather radar right on your Mac.

Weekend DIY - Create Your Own Weather Widget

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

In late 2007, that was pretty amazing. It was made possible by the then-new feature of Safari that supported web clippings, and OS X Leopard’s ability to allow web clippings to run within the Dashboard environment.

This capability still exists in OS X after all these years, so I thought it would be fun to go back in time to the winter of 2007/2008, when viewing weather radar on a Mac was pretty thrilling stuff.

Read more on about: Macs.

 

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by Tom Nelson

Aperture is one of the many professional image management apps available. While you may often see the word “professional” in articles about Aperture, it is by no means only for professionals. Aperture is a great photography app for those who find iPhoto a bit too limiting.

Aperture Troubleshooting Guides

Image courtesy of Apple

Aperture is easy to use, but because it supports huge image libraries, it’s not uncommon for a problem to occur with the image database, especially if you’re using a single, huge image library.

Read more on About: Macs.

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by Tom Nelson

The old HP facility in Cupertino has been razed in preparation for Apple Campus 2, affectionately known as the Spaceship.

ALT TEXT

Image courtesy of Apple

With all of the necessary permits signed off, Apple was quick to start the construction process by removing the old HP office buildings that occupied the site.

The new Apple Campus 2 will house 13,000 employees; it will also be home to more than 4,500 new trees to be planted.

Read more on About: Macs.

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