What You Missed
It was a very small crowd tonight. This seems to be the trend for our Wednesday meetings. But tonight is the last one. Next month, we are back to Tuesdays. Our raffle sellers were entertaining all who were there with lively bits of song and entertaining conversation. We had a Brother printer (with extra ink), a Wyze camera and a $25 iTunes gift card in the raffle. The printer uses after market ink cartridges (10 cartridges for $18.95 on Amazon) which were included tonight. It is not a photo printer but it does do both sides of the paper printing and has WiFi printing available. Ken did suggest leaving your ink jet printer on all the time. It does not use much power and the cartridges will last longer. The coffee, tea and snack table was busy; the chocolate chip cookies were especially good tonight.
“Good evening, good evening” Ken greeted us. “It is a sparse crowd tonight, only the hardcore members.” Member attendance has been dropping at the general meetings and Ken was looking for suggestions on how to make them more interesting (other than offering five MacBook Pros in the raffle). He did realize that some members aren’t driving at night any more and the Wednesday meeting generated some conflicts for people. One member suggested having more speakers like Jason Snell. Another member said she had some friends that usually attend on Tuesdays that could not make it on Wednesdays. A member suggested having someone from Apple come talk to us about what Apple was doing with things like health and the Apple Watch. Ken noted that usually Apple employees can’t talk about what Apple is doing. Ken was thinking that recording the meetings and posting them might be one option to make them available to more members.
In news tonight, we will be back to Tuesday night meetings starting next month. Apple had an education event in Chicago where they introduced a new iPad for $329 that can be used with an Apple pencil. It is aimed at the education market in hopes of displacing Chromebooks. Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference happens in San Jose on June 4th through 8th. Chances are there will be a new version of the OS announced. Ken is still not a fan of High Sierra on older Macs. About 10% of his customers have had problems and 1-2% of them have had deal breaking problems, most of which take a lot of work to correct. Ken once again suggested strongly that all members should have at least a Time Machine backup. It is a slow news month for Apple. In the fall there will probably be new iPhones, a new X and X plus and a new iPhone with face ID but no OLED screen. We had no new members but did have a visitor who was checking us out.
There were no questions in the “Question Mac” tonight but Ken asked for any questions from the members. One member asked how long Apple TV’s should last. Apple is on the 5th generation Apple TV now and offers a 4K version. Most of the older versions still work and allow you to Airplay content from your Apple device your TV. The member was asking because her Apple TV had stopped working in less than a year. As it was under warranty, Apple replaced it. A member was having audio problems with the latest iOS update. Ken had had another customer with similar problems but did not know of a solution. Apple may be coming out with an update to address the problem.
For fun, Ken showed us a picture of a 5 MB drive from IBM in the 1960’s. It took three people to load it on to a truck. Ken asked if anyone had been to the Computer Museum in Mountain View. He highly suggested that people go; they have everything from an abacus to modern computers. My wife, my son and I visited it and it was a terrific outing. We got to enter our names on a punch card and saw some familiar computers from our past. Another member said that the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art had a California Design exhibit and about half the room was Apple products.
Ken was up to talk about Siri and other voice control programs. Siri records what you say and sends it to Apple servers which figure out what you want and send the answer back to you. Siri does need an Internet connection to work. Dag Kittlaus was the creator of Siri. Siri is the name he planned for the baby that he and his wife were expecting. They were expecting a daughter but ended up having a son, so he used the name for his company. Apple purchased Siri and has further developed it. The Amazon Echo Alexa is another voice controlled program. Anker makes the Eufy which uses Alexa software also. You can also get Alexa in your car with the Roav plug in device. Ken demonstrated some of the things Alexa can do. Then he showed us pages and pages of Siri commands. You can find them at lhaug.org under the information tab. Siri on the Mac can do things like launch programs, indent paragraphs in Pages, etc. With the help of the Wyze camera, Ken showed how he controls the ceiling fans in his home with a Bond Smart Home Automation unit. He can do it with Siri at home but he had to use the Bond app from the meeting. Next, Ken showed us dictation, which is available on any app that uses the keyboard. In iOS, tap on the microphone icon to start dictation. On the Mac, hit the command key twice (Needs to be turned on in Settings first.) Think in phrases and speak in words. You can add punctuation just by saying it. Try to avoid ums and ahhs as you speak. Check the results of your dictation for spelling errors. Siri is not always good at distinguishing between words, for example, like to, two and too. Dictation does not learn to recognize your voice, there are other programs that can if dictation has a hard time understanding you. You can pause while you are dictating and the program will wait for you to start again. You can say one hundred and twenty seven dollars and dictation will put in $127. Saying “new paragraph” will start a new paragraph.
With Siri you can say “Hey Siri I’m Drunk” and Siri will display a button that will let you get an Uber, Lyft or a cab. Hey Siri can also launch apps on your iOS device once it is unlocked.
Using Siri Ken sends texts and emails while he is driving without touching his iPhone. You tell Siri you want to send a text and who you want to send it to and then dictate the text. If you have CarPlay active, Siri will read your text to you and ask if you want to send it. (If you say “No,” with a snide tone, Siri will ask what you want to say and you re-dictate.) Ken suggests playing with Siri and have some fun with it. People that talk fast may feel that it takes a little while to get answers back. You can have Siri show you all your pictures of mountains, for example, without having to tag them or otherwise label them. You can be as general or specific as you want in your search. Ken asked Siri what is zero divided by zero and got a fun answer involving cookies and the cookie monster.
A member said she had had a problem where Siri would stop writing a text after just one word. She was outside when doing it and Ken suggested that background noise might be interfering. Using the headphone that came with the iPhone could help solve the problem. iPhones have two microphones that are used to offset the ambient noise when using the iPhone. The other problem could be an interrupted Internet connection as Siri requires the Internet to work. You can try using dictation to see if you may have a sound problem.
Remember that next month’s meeting is on Tuesday again. I look forward to seeing you there and invite someone to come check us out. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.