Ken Spencer was back tonight, looking fit and healthy, to do the presentation he had prepared for last month’s meeting. It was a modest size crowd tonight; maybe the Olympics were a temptation or maybe it was the fact that our meeting was on Wednesday night this month (as it will be in March and April). The raffle sales were lively even with a small crowd. We had an Apple HomePod as the grand prize. We also had a Wyze camera, an official Apple pen (the kind you write with) and a $25 iTunes gift card. Ken had a variety of things set up on the podium most of which looked camera related.
Ken greeted us all saying it was good to be back. He thanked the MacNexus volunteers for filling in when he had to have his appendix out unexpectedly right before last month’s meeting. He had been feeling bloated and a little chill. He checked his temperature and it was up a little but he turned up the heat at home and felt better. He started Googling symptoms and found he was either dying or everything was probably OK. But he still felt bad and remembered he had a relative who had had their appendix out later in life. They had said that pressing the area didn’t hurt that much until they stopped pressing and then “Wow.” He checked and his “lower right quadrant and it did feel that way. So, after packing up his Scottie Vest with all the necessary electronics and chargers, it was in the car with a bowl — just in case. When he got to the emergency room they checked him out and said it was probably his appendix. And when they checked they said it looked a little angry. It was flu season and the ER waiting room was packed. They scheduled surgery and told Ken they would be moving him to the Mother and Child area of the hospital. They had an opening and took him in to surgery at 12:00 midnight, he was done by 4:00 am and was on his way out of the hospital by 2:00 pm.
Ken reminded us that we should have a Time Machine backup. It had saved some of his customers just this week from a lot of data loss. A member had told Ken he was getting phone calls saying he had a computer security issue. This was probably a phishing call — a scam to get credit card information. Unfortunately, there is no way to stop these calls as most are from overseas where our laws don’t apply. If you notice the call has the same area code and prefix as your phone number and it is a number you don’t recognize, just let it go to voice mail. If it is a friend, they should leave you a voice mail.
A note for everyone in the 916 area code. There is now a new area code in the Sacramento area that is being added as an overlay. This means all calls require the area code when dialing in the 916 area. For your land line, you will need to dial 1-916. On your cellphone, you only need the 916 (unless you have a real old flip phone). You can go into your Contacts and add 916 to all your “916 area code” contacts. While you can do this on your phone, it is more efficient to us your Mac.
Ken asked how many members had High Sierra installed and had problems with it. Several members raised their hands. Ken is still not a fan of High Sierra. He has had several clients with problems once High Sierra was installed on their computers. (Editor note: Most users have little or no problems.) He did say if you have it go ahead and install the updates. iOS, macOS, tvOS and watchOS all had updates this week. There was a bug where if someone sent you a text message using the Telugo in it, it could cause your iPhone to stop working. This week’s updates dealt mainly with that issue. If you think your iPhone battery may need replacement, Apple is offing a $29 replacement until December 31, 2018. Since so many people are doing it, you need to make an appointment at the Apple store to have your battery checked, and if it does need replacement they will order the battery and contact you when it is ready. Ken suggested verifying that the battery was actually at the store before you go. It can take a couple of hours to change the battery so be prepared. But it is a good deal as the former price was $79.
Apple’s shareholder meeting took place last Tuesday, February 13th. As a shareholder, Ken wanted to go. About a month ago, he got on his computer, entered his information and keep hitting refresh until he got a notice that he was awarded a ticket to attend. He showed some photos from the meeting starting with the visitors center which is open to the public. It features an model of the entire Apple Campus and has iPads that using Virtual Reality to show the inside of the buildings on the campus as you pan over the model. Ken had a photo the iMacPro which he very much wants but can’t justify. The event was in the Steve Jobs Theater — a building with the world’s largest one piece carbon fiber roof suspended over curved glass walls. The event was held downstairs. Ken tried to get in early by using the downstairs restrooms. He was not successful. The theater holds about 1,000 people and has very nice leather seats. Ken enjoyed the presentation and actually found time to go to the old campus at One Infinite Way where he got the pen in tonight’s raffle. Ken was wearing a Apple T-shirt he had picked up with a color rendering of the circular main building at the new campus.
We had one new member tonight. Don’t forget to invite someone to check us out at the General meeting or any of the workshops. Jim Bean was the volunteer winner tonight in the drawing to reward volunteers in the club. It was a quiet month for Apple news and rumors.
Tech Questions and Answers. A member noted that the screen on their iPhone would go dark when making a phone call. It is a function that has been part of the iPhone since its introduction. The iPhone has a proximity sensor that turns off the screen when you lift the phone to your ear. This saves battery life (more important in the earlier iPhones) and makes sure your cheeks don’t touch any of the buttons on the screen. Another member had a problem when using dictation with Facebook messenger. Ken noted that Facebook and Facebook Messenger are programs that use a lot of processing power and that might be interfering with the dictation. You don’t need to force quit apps like Facebook when using your iPhone. When it is in the background, it is using nearly zero iPhone processing power. He also noted that, based on his experience, the Series III Apple Watch even with LTE has a much better battery life than the original Apple Watch.
Ken then showed us some of the items he had at the podium. First up was the WyzeCam — a $20 camera that has motion detection, a speaker and microphone and will store your videos for 14 days in the cloud for free. Ken has several set up around his house and gets a notification when the sense motion. It is indoor only but Ken has one set up in his unheated garage and it seems to be working fine there. It can do 1080P HD video and has night vision, but Ken noted that you can’t use night vision through glass so pointing out the window would not work to see the goings on in your yard. It has a slot for a Micro SD card where it can store videos until the card is full. Setup is very quick and easy and requires using the WyzeCam app on your iPhone.. You can adjust the sensitivity of the motion sensing if you have pets. It comes with a magnetic base and adhesive mounting pads for the base so you can mount it where you need it.
Ken was asked when he was going to send his Tesla into space like Elon Musk did. Ken noted that the one that was sent up was one off the early models and was worth a lot.
The next item Ken showed us was a gimbal for an iPhone — the Zhiyun Smooth-Q 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal for Smartphone. It costs $99 at Amazon. You attach your iPhone to it, connect the iPhone via Bluetooth to the gimbal and then the gimbal turns your iPhone into a steady cam. You can point the camera at an object or person, draw a rectangle around them and the gimbal will track the movement of the person or object automatically. It can be set up to do 360 degree time lapse video. You can get a remote control for it so you can take photos with it remotely (within 30 feet or so). It seemed to operate really smoothly and comes with a tripod mount. It was pretty cool watching it track Ken as he walked around the front of the room.
Another iPhone accessory that Ken had brought was a set of add on lenses, the BC Master iPhone Camera lens kit HD Pro — about $25 at Amazon. It comes with real glass lenses in aluminum mounting which clips on to your iPhone. The kit has a Macro lens and a wide angle lens both of which seemed very clear with little distortion. Ken had no problem using them with the case he had on his iPhone. If you have an iPhone 7 plus or a iPhone X, there are two lenses. The top one is the one you want to use with the clip-on lens. The iPhone X has a built in optical zoom when you need it. Ken noted that you can use the camera app on your Apple Watch to control the camera in your iPhone. You may need to open the camera app on the iPhone first.
If you use your iPhone as the primary navigation for your car, you have several options: Apple Maps, Google maps or Waze. Ken recommends Waze. It now has “OK Waze” for voice control of the app so you use it hands free in the car. “OK Waze” will let you note road hazards verbally also. You can use Siri with Apple Maps to request a route and if you have an Apple Watch it will vibrate when it is time to turn right or left (two different vibration patterns). If you have Bluetooth in your car, Apple Maps will remember where you left your car. If someone moves your car, Apple Maps will not know where it went, it just knows where it last disconnected from the car Bluetooth.
If you are listening to music, you can ask Siri “What song is this” and Siri will search for the answer. Apple will be integrating Shazam (which they just bought) to make this function even better. Ken uses Siri to add events to his calendar, set reminders and for timers. Reminders can be both time and location related. You can tell Siri, remind me when I leave home to pick up the dry cleaning. Siri will display a reminder when you leave home. The reminder will have options to mark as completed, remind me in an hour or remind me tomorrow. Most of the time, you will want to mark them as completed to prevent repeating. Ken asked the members attending tonight if setting an appointment for next Friday would mean the next Friday (two days away) or the Friday that occurs in the following week. We were about evenly split. Siri assumes you mean the Friday in the following week — something Ken discovered when he missed an appointment. While Siri can set repeating items in the calendar, Siri can only remove one item at a time.
Ken asked if we had Medical ID set up on our iPhones. On your iPhone, there is an Apple installed app called Health. If you open it one option is Medical ID. You fill out the information, your medicines, allergies (Ken had his down as Bullets and Bombs) and emergency contact information. This information can be accessed from the lock screen of your phone by emergency personnel. It gives the medical information to a doctor or emergency personnel when you are not be able to. If you hold the power button and the top volume button on the phone, you will get three choices “Slide to power off”, “Call emergency contact” and “Call 911”. The Series III with LTE offers a similar ability to call 911 even if you do not have a cellular plan for the Apple Watch
Lastly, it was time for the raffle. The three smaller prizes went first, with our new member pulling the tickets as Ken had bought 30 tickets and didn’t want any question in case he won. Ken won the Apple pen. The HomePod went last with Ken having us stand up until our number was eliminated. The HomePod went home with a happy member. Ken is planning to have some more Wyze cameras in the raffle next month. I look forward to seeing you at next month’s meeting (on Wednesday night) and remember to invite someone to come with you. I can be reached at email@example.com. My recent columns are now available on the MacNexus website as an item on the home page.