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How to Update Backblaze

We are big fans of Backblaze offsite backup. It’s a great emergency backup for if something catastrophic happens to your Mac or your files.

The only thing is–sometimes you have to run a manual update to keep the software up to date! Since a lot of our customers have this, I made a short video to show you exactly how to run this update yourself in just about 3 minutes.

Don’t worry, your backup won’t stop working, but it is best to always have the latest version. If you’re a Backblaze subscriber, check out the video below to do this update now! (If you are interested in having an unlimited offsite backup for your Mac, check out Backblaze here.)

It’s Time to Upgrade your WiFi Network!

Are you still using Apple’s Airport Extreme, Airport Express, Time Capsule, or ‘stock’ routers from Comcast or Centurylink to get WiFi in your home? If so, you may have noticed that your Internet speed may be slower than you expect from your Internet Service Provider which may be the fault of your WiFi router. (You may also be paying dearly for that router you’re renting.)

Until 2016, we would have recommended one of Apple’s Airport solutions to create a strong WiFi network in your home. However according to several reliable sources online, Apple has discontinued development of these units, and we are no longer recommending purchasing them. The problem with the older style WiFi routers such as Apple Airport is that they interfere with other nearby WiFi networks, resulting in slow speeds and small coverage areas. WiFi network speed and coverage area is becoming increasingly important with the growing number of WiFi devices we rely upon within our homes. As this technology fades, performance will be lacking.

The next generation of WiFi routers use a technology called Mesh, which meld together several base stations into a continuous strong and consistent network. Mesh WiFi networks are ‘smart’, in that they automatically adjust their radio frequencies according to local conditions, such as competing WiFi networks and which devices on the network need the most bandwidth. This technology is not new, but has formerly only been available to large corporations, and/or very expensive.

While Apple is not expected to enter the Mesh WiFi marketplace, several other companies have created excellent Mesh base stations that are fully compatible with Apple products and include accompanying iPhone Apps for setting up and monitoring your WiFi network. We at The MacSpa have been using a Mesh system in our office without issue for several months and have assisted setting up these systems in many clients’ homes. Now that there are more affordable options on the market, more and more people are upgrading their home networks.

Listed below are the Mesh WiFi router brands with which we have experience and are currently recommending for regular home use. Both have easy-to-use accompanying iPhone Apps and charge around $100 per WiFi base station unit, with each unit providing approximately 1500 square footage of coverage:

Google WiFi – https://madeby.google.com/wifi/ – This is the Mesh WiFi system we use at The MacSpa. The base stations are clean and simple and setup via the iPhone App is fast and easy with a Google account.

Ubiquiti Amplifi https://amplifi.com/ -We have set up this excellent system in several client homes.  The app makes setup and monitoring simple and a convenient display on the main base station monitors network speed.

Small businesses may be interested in the enterprise-class Cisco Meraki or Aerohive products.

Please contact us at The MacSpa for more information on Mesh WiFi routers and to schedule an installation and training appointment!

Your iPhone (or iPad) makes Travel Easier and Cheaper!

The height of the busy Summer Travel Season is upon us and if you’re like me, you’re just counting the days until your next big trip! When you travel, your iPhone or iPad can be an invaluable travel tool for communication, photos and videos, and using incredible apps to make travel experiences easier, faster and cheaper.

Starting in July, The MacSpa’s Class Series will focus on how to take full advantage of using your iPhone or iPad when you travel.

On July 18, we’ll be offering a new class at The MacSpa entitled ‘Travel Apps and Deals’. Whether or not you’ve already made plans, you’ll learn how to use your iPhone or iPad with some great travel Apps and strategies for making travel better and cheaper (or even free). (Sign up for classes here.)

Do you still travel with a dedicated still or video camera, then copy photos and videos to your Mac when you get home? Did you know that your iPhone or iPad can have all of the functionality of a professional camera, combined with the editing (still and video) capabilities of a Mac? July 21st’s class will teach you all about the Apps that make this possible.

After travelling with an iPad as your sole computer, you may wonder why you even need your Mac when you get home. On July 17th, we’ll teach you how to make the transition from Mac to iPad. Apple’s newest operating system for iPad, iOS 11, makes iPad feel more Mac-like and we’ll give you a preview of this system on July 10.

So before you travel this year, join us at The MacSpa to learn how to get the most out of your device. The small investment in this class will more than pay for itself with all the time- and money-saving tips you’ll take away. And don’t forget to share your photos with us when you return!

WWDC 2017 Review

On Monday, June 5 in San Jose, California, Apple kicked off its annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) with several exciting hardware and software announcements for 2017. In case you missed Tim Cook’s Keynote, here’s a summary of what’s coming this year from Apple.

Software:
macOS High Sierra
:
We expect that the next version of the Mac Operating System will be released around September, 2017. Most of the changes in this system are under-the-hood for greatly improved security, reliability and responsiveness but it will offer some additional tools in Photos, Safari and Mail. The system requirements remain the same as Sierra. Don’t get too excited, though! As always, we recommend checking all your software and hardware requirements before automatically upgrading. We’ll have more information as we see things develop…


iOS 11
:
We also expect that the next version of the iPhone/iPad Operating system will be released around September, 2017 alongside a dramatically updated ‘10th Anniversary iPhone’. The biggest changes in iOS 11 will be apparent on iPad, making the device more ‘Mac-like’ with the Finder-like ‘Files’ App, the Dock, Mission-Control-like Multitasking and Drag and Drop capabilities. If you’re consdering transitioning to an iPad as a Mac replacement, these features will make your transition much easier. The system requirements remain the same as iOS 10.

iOS Apps:
In addition to Apple making iOS 11 for iPad more ‘Mac-like’, App developers are creating iPad Apps with capabilities previously only possible on Mac. An amazing Photoshop-like photo editor for iPad called Affinity Photo (only $19.99 for a limited time) was demonstrated during the Keynote, virtually negating the need for subscribing to Adobe Creative Cloud for Photoshop on Mac. Also demonstrated during the Keynote were some impressive Augmented Reality games for iPad, allowing the ability to create and edit entire virtual worlds within your own real world. With these and other recent App additions, iOS now offers full-featured software every bit as powerful as their Mac counterparts.

* Coming soon to The MacSpa: new classes on High Sierra, iOS 11 and new Mac-Like iPad Apps for Productivity, Photo & Video Editing.

 

Hardware:
iPad Pro:
Combining iOS 11 with a new iPad Pro makes replacing your Mac or PC with an iPad easier than ever. These devices have new high resolution, bright and responsive bigger displays in 10.5” and 12.9.” They are equipped with a new 12MP back camera and 7MP front camera and the new A10X Fusion chip. (See our class calendar for “Making the Switch from Computer to iPad”)

Macs:
The MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and iMac all received minor updates, mainly with new processors. (Unfortunately, all Mac laptops remain largely non-upgradeable, with non-replaceable batteries.) Prices remain unchanged.

The biggest news about Macs is the announcement of the iMac Pro, an iMac designed specifically for video, graphics and photography professionals. The most powerful iMac ever, with a 27” Retina Display, up to 18 processing cores and a never-seen-before Vega graphics card will start at nearly $5000 when it’s released in December 2017.

HomePod:
Coming in December 2017, Apple is releasing HomePod, a brand-new device to rival the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Like Echo and Home, HomePod will understand your voice commands (via Siri), but during the Keynote Apple didn’t detail its capabilities beyond playing music. Unlike Echo and Home, the sound quality from HomePod will be exceptional, and the device–with an A8 chip–intelligently adapts sound quality to the space it’s placed in.

Not mentioned during the Keynote:
AppleTV:
We don’t expect changes to these devices this year.

Airport:
Although Apple’s Airport Express, Airport Extreme and Time Capsule are currently available, news outlets are reporting that these devices will be entirely discontinued soon, and there have been no major updates since 2013. If you are considering upgrading your home WiFi network, we are looking to Mesh-based devices from Google, Eero, Ubiquiti and Cisco. These devices provide next-generation WiFi coverage and smartly position wifi frequency according to their spatial positioning.

Contact The MacSpa if you’d like to book a consultation or appointment for assistance with purchasing or in-home setup on your new–or not-so-new–technologies. 🙂

To watch the official Apple Keynote presentation and learn more about what’s new, visit apple.com.

Spring into Cloud Storage (The Right Way!)

While we’ve all been using Cloud Computing in some way or another for many years, many of us unwittingly ‘Sprung’ into using iCloud Drive Storage for the first time when we upgraded to Apple’s latest MacOS, Sierra. If this happened to you, all of the files that you previously had stored in your Mac’s Desktop and Documents folders were automatically moved to iCloud and can now be accessed from other Apple devices logged into the same iCloud account.

How did this happen? After upgrading to Sierra and entering your iCloud information, a small checkbox appeared (pre-checked for your “convenience”) which offered the ability to store Documents and Desktop items in iCloud. Most of us don’t read (or understand) all (or any) of the prompts that appear after a software upgrade, so we assumed that the default settings were correct. If the files in these folders exceed 5GB in size, you’ll be prompted to upgrade your iCloud Storage Plan.

You may think that making your documents accessible from any Apple device seems like a good idea, and it is. However Apple’s iCloud Drive doesn’t work nearly as well as many of the other available cloud storage services available for your Apple devices (and it’s relatively more expensive). You may have seen the endless online discussions by confused and frustrated users that look similar to this Apple forum. This common problem has also sparked helpful articles like this one on MacObserver.

Check out our brand-new Online Class, ‘Using the Cloud with your Apple Devices on Udemy and/or attend our in-person class, ‘Demystifying the Cloud to learn all about all of the cloud storage options available for your Apple Device.

In the meantime, you may be wondering how to remove your files from iCloud. This requires disabling the Desktop & Documents Folders option under iCloud Drive Options in System Preferences. Then these files can be located in Finder under iCloud Drive and moved to another location (either on the Hard Drive or another cloud storage service).

As always, The MacSpa is here to help you navigate. If you need personal assistance this Spring, you get 20% off your first training session after signing up for one of the two classes listed above. We’ll help you find the best way to ‘Spring into the Cloud!’

Dirty Macs

This is the hall of fame of the most dirty, corroded, damaged, and sad Macs we have seen in our shop. All but a couple were cleaned up, fixed up, and resurrected! Dirt happens to everyone, and we’ve seen these little guys handle their fair share. But excess dust can be damaging to your Mac, so try to keep the environment clean. Use a keyboard cover, don’t smoke or burn candles and incense near your machine, don’t eat or drink over your keyboard, and keep a little duster, clean paintbrush, or vacuum handy to brush away crumbs and pet hair. When you get a service done at The MacSpa, your Mac always comes back to you cleaner than when you brought it in. A clean Mac is a happy Mac!

Featured Art: “On the Wings of Valkarie”

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“On The Wings Of Valkarie”
Valkarie Gallery 
Satellite Art Show

THE MACSPA & Curator Eric Matelski present a collection of artwork from Valkarie Gallery artists: Sharon EisleyValerie Savarie, and Karrie York on display now through the end of March, 2017 at The MacSpa 1738 Wynkoop, Suite 103, Denver, CO 80202.

Contact: Eric Matelski at ArtPimpInfo@mac.com

Sharon Eisley’s pieces, not always painted on old objects, uses repurposing in a different way. Typically her oil and watercolor paintings are of humans with animal heads. The idea of taking something that is normal and familiar to us (the human body) and then adding a proportionately sized head from another creature makes the viewer question what is it that makes us human and just as important, what makes me, me.

For Valerie Savarie, when selecting books, it is important that they be published before 1972 (or, is at least as old as she). Sometimes the book instantly creates a visual concept and other times, she seeks out a book that will echo her mental vision. Taking the written story within, Savarie reinterprets it into a three-dimensional piece by cutting, sewing and painting (all done by hand without the use of power tools), thus creating a multidimensional collage while still leaving the majority of the book intact. Every page is kept as bound as it is important that her pieces retain their intrinsic book characteristics. Each page that is visible is purposely selected to be seen – whether it be specific words, lack of words, images or a combination there of. Words are as important as the visuals she create when making my book sculptures.

Karrie York had always loved art but as a child, it was deemed too messy for her to create at home. As she got older, her passion for art renewed itself and an opportunity to get some instruction presented its self. She met a local artist, whom she also found attractive (and single), so she asked for painting lessons.

Today they remain friends, but art-making has taken a real meaningful place in life.

Her half animal/half child acrylic paintings cross the boundaries of realism and whimsy and came about as she struggled to paint them separately. “I couldn’t get a child sitting atop a lamb to work,” she says. “So I cut them apart, put them back together and that seemed to gel!” Karrie continues to take this sense of whimsy into her other paintings  styles where bears have tea parties and fruit and vegetables are compiled to create people.

 

Public Reception will be held Sunday, February 26th, 2-5pm.

The Future of Apple and Integrating Google’s Services

While it’s always difficult to predict the future direction of Apple, some recent company developments seem a bit curious. Here’s my take:

photo credit: AppleInsider

In my Technology Blog from August 9, 2016, I posed the question: ‘Do you really need a Mac?‘. Since that time, Apple has released an all-new line of MacBook Pros that are:
1. non-upgradable (neither the RAM nor Solid State Device storage can ever be replaced),
2. non-recyclable (the battery is firmly glued into the computer making recycling impossible),
3. necessitate the need for adapters (they ONLY come with the new Thunderbolt 3 ports, which requires an adapter for any legacy USB, Thunderbolt and Ethernet connectors), and
4. are significantly more expensive than their predecessors. Apple also has determined that its entry-level laptop, the MacBook Air will no longer be upgraded. All of this solidifies my belief that the days of the traditional Apple laptop (likely desktops as well) are numbered.

Additionally, Apple has already abandoned their monitor (Cinema Display) business and a recent report from Bloomberg suggests that Apple will be abandoning their WiFi (Airport) business very soon. As Apple enthusiasts, where do we go from here?

Apple (and their competition) certainly understand that the future of computing is in portable devices and online services. However, Apple has some ‘catching up’ to do in these areas – primarily with Google. Google’s world of online services and devices is rapidly expanding, but still integrate well with Apple’s portable devices.

Photo Credit: The USB Port

This month, we’ll be introducing the first of many workshops to introduce you to the world of Google and how to best leverage Google’s services with the Apple devices you already own. In this first workshop, you’ll learn how to use Gmail; Google Photos to supplement (or replace) Apple Photos; Google Drive and Google’s productivity suite; Google Maps and other useful Google services. In upcoming workshops, we’ll discuss other topics related to Google like their business services, their new line of portable devices (Google Wifi, Home etc.) etc.
Sign up for the first workshop, Friday, February 17th, 3:30pm!

The MacSpa’s Mission is: ‘to empower people through the magic of technology’. As the world of technology continues to evolve, we want to educate you on the latest tools available – whether or not they can be found on Apple’s website. 😉

What is this port for on my Mac?

Apple seems to be steering people further and further away from multiple ports for their new devices.

usbcThe New Macbook and the MacBook Pro have USB-C/Thunderbolt ports and look very different from Macs you may have used in the past. So let’s go over all the Mac Ports so you’ll know what adapters you may need!

 

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-5-15-00-pm

USB-A and USB-B
You probably use USB-A the most. Usually, for hard drives, your iPhone, etc, USB-A is most common. USB-B you may recognize from a printer hook up. (Macbook Pros have never had a USB-B port so you won’t need an adapter for it.)  If you have devices that need USB-A (thumb drives, hard drives etc.) you will need a USB-C to USB-A adapter. I’ll outline the adapters in the next blog article.

 

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-5-18-51-pm

FireWire
Firewire was/is much faster than USB and some believe was the key for Macs to enter the video editing market. Your older machine may have a FW 800 port or a FW 400 port so you will need an adapter. Those will be discussed below.

 

 

Thunderbolt & Mini DisplayPort (MDP) (They look the same, but they aren’t!)all-about-ports

Thunderbolt is the latest in the series. If you have an older Mac, you may have a mini DisplayPort on your mac. You would’ve used this to plug in an external monitor. Thunderbolt came along around 2011, and can do everything that the MDP can do, but it can also transmit data really fast! The Thunderbolt ports are more versatile, and usually used for data transfer instead of a monitor, because these later Macs also had HDMI ports to serve that purpose.

untitled-image1HDMI
HDMI is a video and audio cable, the same one you may be using now for your TV! There’s an adapter for that.

 

 

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Ethernet
Your older computer may have an ethernet port. This connection allowed people to hard-wire to modems and routers. This is becoming more and more rare and most connections are wireless now (wi-fi). Yep, there’s an adapter for that too!

 

untitled-image

Mini DVI
This is an older port. This is just for video only, no audio or data transmission. You would see this on some older Macs between about 2004-2009. These adapters are harder to find these days, but they still exist! In fact, they used to come free in the box when you bought a new Mac back in the early days, imagine that!

 

Macs have been through many different transitions over the years.

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If you need to plug something into your Mac, chances are it can be done with the right adapter. Contact us if you need help figuring out what you need!

Why you should buy AppleCare for your new Mac

First of all, DISCLAIMER: I do NOT work for Apple! There is no reason I would tell you to buy something unless I’d do it myself. We are an independent business helping people who own Apple products to get the most out of their investment. That includes upgrading older Macs–the Genius Bar won’t see you if your Mac is older than 5, by the way–and helping our clients master all kinds of technology challenges in their Apple world. So, why would I suggest buying AppleCare? Isn’t that like an extended warranty for suckers?

1. The number one reason is, Apple products are becoming more and more difficult to work on. Some components on newer Macs are impossible to replace, while others are extremely labor intensive. This means, in some cases, you will spend more trying to fix something than to replace the computer! Can you imagine if you had to replace your car if you got a flat tire? It’s like that.

This sounds outrageous, but take the example of the MacBook Pro. Up until 2012 it has been relatively easy to upgrade memory, hard drive, and battery. Even the display can be replaced without too much sweat. But around 2013-2014 and later, the SSDs and RAM started becoming soldered onto the board so those parts are no longer upgradable. So if something goes wrong, that’s a Logic Board replacement, and those get into the high 3-4 digit costs when you factor in labor! Not to mention all the time you lose. And, the batteries are glued into the case with extra-strong adhesive, so you risk damaging your computer should you attempt to replace a battery. This has already come up a few times in our shop. If they had AppleCare–boom–it would’ve been covered. Now, instead of a $99 battery replacement, they are looking at a very costly replacement of the entire top case.

2. If you plan on keeping your computer for at least 3-5 years–and most Macs run for a good 7-10 years–it’s a good investment to guarantee you’re covered for at least the first 3 years.

Many headaches can be avoided if you have AppleCare and can simply get a replacement computer within warranty. Now…with all that being said, AppleCare is NOT for everyone!

When you should NOT buy AppleCare
1. If you plan on replacing your computer within 1-3 years anyway. In some high-productivity and professional environments, computers are replaced frequently. In this case, having a 3 year warranty probably won’t serve you–although it does help the value if you resell it.

2. If you are “bad with technology,” reckless, or accident-prone. If this describes you, whether you like it or not, it is likely you will void your warranty by spilling something on the keyboard, dropping the computer, or some freak accident. Spending the extra money on AppleCare will not help you because accidental damage is not covered!

In short, protect that fancy piece of equipment you’re investing in, and it just might save you down the road!

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Classes and Workshops at The MacSpa are a great and affordable way to get an overview of the software and features on your Mac, iPad, or iPhone in a small group setting that encourages participation and discussion.

Download October 2017 Schedule


Can’t be here in person? Check out our latest online courses at Udemy!

Once you purchase a course, you own it for life, and can watch it anywhere, at your own pace, and on your own schedule. We are adding more courses all the time.

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