What You Missed December 2017

Leftover Halloween candy joined the Christmas cookies and treats on the snack table tonight. Since I wasn’t here for the last meeting, I don’t know if this was their second appearance or first. But it was fun to choose one. The raffle prizes were all lined up on the raffle table in the back — seven $25 iTunes gift cards ready to bring holiday cheer to the lucky members who take them home. Ticket sales, as usual, were brisk, thanks to the enthusiasm of our ticket sellers. Ken Spencer was busy at the front of the room setting up Safari with all the Tech Things he was going to show us.

Ken started the meeting with a reminder that that we should have a Time Machine backup of our computers and an iCloud backup of our iOS devices. He asked how many people had an iPhone X. A few people raised their hands. Ken noted he had two; one purchased from Apple when they first came available and one he had picked up in Singapore. That one had an interesting story to go along with the fact that is was not an actual iPhone X but an android phone that looked a lot like an iPhone X. Ken was on a trip to Thailand with an earlier stop in Bali. While he was waiting to get to the plane leaving Singapore, a man came up and asked him if he wanted to buy an iPhone X (256GB,black) for $850. He declined but the man showed him the iPhone with a box and the original receipt for the phone from Hong Kong. The serial number on the receipt matched the serial number on the iPhone, the box was an Apple Box and the receipt was an Apple receipt. Ken even had a spare SIM which he put in the iPhone and sent a text message to himself. All seemed to be legit, Ken talked the man down to $250 as long as the box and receipt were part of the deal. At first the man wanted an extra $100 for the box and receipt but Ken talked him out of it. The man put the iPhone in the box and Ken went on his way to get through security. When he got there, he took the iPhone out of the box only to discover that he did not have the iPhone he had been looking at and testing originally. It was, of course, too late to find the man, but someone else approached Ken offering the iPhone 8 Plus. He declined. Ken passed the fake iPhone X around the room to show how it had the same look as a X, but actually was an Android phone. Ken has convinced himself that $250 for an unlocked smartphone isn’t that bad a price.

News and Rumors, Ken showed us the latest drone flyby of the Apple Campus. The campus is now complete, with a visitor center, Apple Store and all the landscaping. They are planning to have a Grand Opening someday in the future. There was a shortage trees in the Bay Area as the Apple Campus has so many big trees. The campus has the software engineers and business people needed to run the company. The Research and Development people are in separate buildings with high security.

Ken’s mailing list for discount iTune gift cards (usually around 15% off) is on the MacNexus website. He sends out emails only when there are deals in iTune gift cards.

The General Meeting in the months of February, March, and April will be on the third Wednesday of the month not Tuesday. The website has the correct dates on it calendar. The Third Saturday of the Month Workshops have a new home in Folsom starting in January. Check the website for the map to the location. The location has good wifi and room for the classes. We may even get some new attendees from the location. Ken showed us a chart that demonstrated Apple makes $1,445/second — almost twice as much as the next company, JP Morgan Chase. Apples retail stores still produce the most dollars per square foot of any store.

The iMac Pro has started shipping. If you think you need it, you probably don’t. But many people people like Ken, are trying to justify a need for one. It can come with a CPU with 8 to 18 cores, up to 128 GB of RAM and has four USB C ports and four USBC/Thunderbolt ports. The Thunderbolt ports are important for pro users as they can hook up external video cards to help with intense video processing. Ken said he just wants to look at one if anyone in the club gets one. The base model is $4999 and Ken priced out a maxed out version at $13,199. AppleCare for the iMac Pro is the same as it is for a regular iMac $169. As we do every meeting Ken had his iPhone pick a random number so one of the MacNexus volunteers could be awarded a $25 iTunes gift card. The club has decided to do to recognize the hard work volunteers do for the club. Richard Applebaum was tonight’s winner.

A note to any members using a macnexus.org email address as a forwarding tool. As of January 31st, those email addresses will not work.If you are one of these members, you will need to notify correspondents of your real email address. If your bank or other company is using the macnexus.org email for you, you will need to let them know what your new email address is.

In Q&A tonight, a member who was using was looking for a possible replacement for QuickBooks as it was not working well on the Mac. Quicken had suggested using the web based version of QuickBooks but that didn’t work well for the member. Ken suggested going to the Apple store and speaking to a business software person there for possible alternatives. Ken asked if the member was using High Sierra the latest version of MacOS, as it has been causing problems. Ken does not now recommend upgrading to High Sierra and opines that Sierra will be fine for most members. (Editor note: This is his opinion; most users are working just fine with High Sierra.) There is not an easy way to make Apple’s persistent dialog boxes that remind you to upgrade to High Sierra, other than clicking on the details button and stopping the installer.

Another member who was using Mac Mail was having a problem. When they clicked on a URL in an email, it would open new tab in the browser but did not go to the page from the URL. Ken suggested trying a different browser by dragging the URL in question to the desktop and doing Command I on it to change “Open With” to a different browser. (Editor notes: The displayed URL might just be text, so…. Before clicking a link, hover over it and a popup will reveal the URL it is being directed to. If suspicious, don’t click. Going to another browser would still take you to the wrong place.)

Several members wanted to know if there was a way to stop persistent calls from unknown numbers on the iPhone. Ken didn’t have a way but suggested if you don’t recognize the number hit the wake/sleep button to stop the ringing. If someone wants to talk to you they should be leaving a voicemail if they don’t get through. Most of the calls will be from spoofed number that look like a local number but are not. If you do answer a call like this don’t say “Yes”, scammers can use your recorded “yes” to show that they were requested to send you something you don’t want. Bob White suggested that if you don’t know the person or you are suspicious, just don’t answer.

Other member was having problems with sending mail to people with AOL addresses. The emails usually went through with no problem but now they were being returned as undeliverable. Ken had had the same problem with another mailing list that had several people with AOL addresses. The most probable cause is a problem at AOL as it was not happening to just one person. (Editor note: Later research revealed that AOL shut down accounts for former ALTO email users on Dec 10, 2017. ALTO was a long ago email service of Engadget when it was a subsidiary of AOL. This could be the source of the problem if the user did not convert to normal AOL email by that date.)

Someone in the group asked about doing the iOS update to 11.2.1. Ken said yes go ahead but make sure you have your Apple ID information with you and don’t do it just before going on a trip. If you don’t have you Apple ID when the update asks for it, your phone can be “bricked” (unusable) and restoring it is not an easy process

A question was asked about a GPS app that could tell you your speed and what the speed limit was. Ken suggested Waze. If you have CarPlay in your car, Apple Maps can give you that information also. Ken noted that Apple Maps, if your iPhone is connected to the car, will remember where you parked your cart and guide you to it. Helpful in busy shopping mall parking lots after hours of shopping. Beware, if someone other than you moves the car, Apple maps will not be able to show where the new location is.

A member asked about turning off data on his iPhone since he was getting messages that he had used up most of his data allotment. Ken first suggested that he check with his carrier to see if he could get more data at a lower cost Also, you can go into Settings, Cellular and turn off Cellular Data or you can scroll down once you are there to turn off cellular data for individual apps. The list of Apps will show you how much data each app has used in your current billing period.

After the break, Ken was up front to talk about “Tech Things”. He first showed us some photos from an event he had been part of where a man who only had a few months to live got his wish of getting his Tesla S car to drive. Some Tesla employees had heard about the man and had worked it out that he got his car in time. Ken had been there to help out and got an insider tour of the plant where the Tesla S is built. He also showed us a picture he had taken in Bali of a volcano that was putting off steam. That volcano erupted a few days after Ken left Bali and has caused some problems with the ash it is putting out.

Ken pointed out that if you get the LTE version the Apple Watch, you can call 911 even if you don’t have a plan for the watch with your carrier. Ken carries around a device from AliveCor that is a portable EKG. It can alert you if you have atrial fibrillation and can send its readings to your doctor. They now have a version built into an Apple watch watchband. He showed us the website for the Motiv ring which can monitor your fitness, heart and track how well you sleep. It charges quickly to help ensure you keep it on. Ken then showed us his current camera, a Sony RX 10 Mark IV which can zoom form 24 — 600. It is the camera Ken takes with him when he travels as it is relatively light and the lens allows him to get a wide variety of shots. But even when he has the Sony with him, he will typically take around 25% of the pictures on his iPhone. Toyota has announced they will have many models of electric cars available by 2030.

Ken showed us the website of Hyperloop One (where my son works) which is developing “trains’ that will ultimately be able to go around 700 MPH inside a tube that has had most of the air removed to reduce the drag. Trips from San Francisco to LA could be around 30 minutes. The video shows the “pod” going 240 MPH a new record.

Blink has announced a new video doorbell at $129 which is less than most of the other video doorbells available now. Ken really likes his, he was able to see his neighbor try to deliver a package that had come to her house, while he was on his trip. He does suggest getting the ability to save recording on the web so you can review them later. They should act a deterrent to package thieves who will find themselves on camera if they take a package from your doorstep. Amazon is proposing a combination of a camera inside your house looking at the front door and an electronic lock that would allow the delivery person to put packages inside your house. Many people at the meeting were skeptical about this plan.

TV is really changing with video streaming becoming more prevalent. Disney has increased its share of Hulu to 66% ownership and it looks like they may be planning to use Hulu as a distribution source for Disney content. The Apple TV can now get Amazon Prime Video although the interface for it is not that great. As we had run long and Ken wanted to make sure there was time for the raffle our “Tech Things” talk was at an end.

Ken drew all the winning tickets at once (all seven them) and got us all on our feet. The plan was to have us sit down once our ticket number stops match the winning number, but with seven tickets all with the same first five numbers that didn’t work. But we all stayed on our feet as the winning numbers were called out. All gift cards went to happy members.

I look forward to seeing you at the next meeting and remember to invite someone to come check us out. I can be reached at donob.macnexus@gmail.com.

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