The raffle sellers were their usual lively selves, pushing tickets for the iPad, Apple Watch and three $25 iTune gift cards in the raffle tonight. It seemed that most members had remembered that we have changed the meeting day to the fourth Wednesday of the month. Pete Lozzi was our speaker tonight and noted, as the meeting opened, that there was no Apple news, so we would be skipping the usual Mac Rumors part of the meeting. We did have one new member tonight, Karen Owen — Welcome Karen!
In tonight’s Q&A, we had the following questions: A member’s 32 GB thumb drive was telling them that it was not formatted for a 19 GB file. You can format a drive like this with Drive Utility which is under Utilities in you Application folder. If you are only using it with a Mac, you can use Mac OS Extended Journaled format. If you think you may use the drive with a PC and a Mac, you will want to use Fat32 or ExFat format. ExFat can handle larger single file sizes. Another question was about using a Thunderbolt 1 external drive with a new Mac with Thunderbolt 3. They do make adapters for the different cable ends.
A member asked if they could use the little wall charger that comes with an iPhone to charge an iPad. The iPhone charger will barely charge an iPad, but you can use the iPad charger to charge an iPhone. There are third party chargers available. Ken and Pete have had good luck with ones made by Anker. A member had noticed as they turn up their MacBookPro, when listening to Skype calls or other programs, the sound was buzzy and vibrated. Since the speakers are small in a 13” MacBookPro, having the sound turned up all the way may be driving them beyond their limits. Pete also suggested using Facetime if you could to see if the sound was any better. This discussion lead to a brief debate between Pete and Ken about using old software that still works vs. always using the latest version of software.
A member wanted comments on buying a new computer; the member was trying to decide between a MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air. If your need is for portability, they both suggested the MacBook Air. Pete commented that, if you needed a lot of computer power for editing 4K video or other heavy duty work, the MacBook Pro would be the choice. Pete always has a customer justify the need for a MacBook Pro before he will agree they need one. There was a comment from the audience that there used to be a lot of graphic programs for the Mac and they were wondering what Pete might suggest. Pete suggested Pixelmator Pro for working with bitmap images. Affinity publishes a program Photo for bit mapped images and Designer for vector based images.
A question was asked about using your computer while it is doing a Time Machine backup (which Ken always recommends). The answer is yes you can work on your computer while a Time Machine backup is running. Another question was about using Microsoft products on an iPad. They are available as paid apps on an iPad, but they may not be able to do all that the computer can do. Someone asked what would be a good Apple product for a 93 year old technophobic person. Ken said that his mother has gotten comfortable using an iPad. Someone noted that it can be hard to see the cursor sometimes on a Mac. Ken showed how you can use settings for the mouse so that if you shake the mouse from side to side the cursor gets bigger. You can do a similar thing on your iPhone/iPad by going to Settings, Accessibility to change the cursor size. The iPhone 8, X, XS and XS Max can be wirelessly charged, where you just put your iPhone on a charging pad. You can find Qi wireless charging pads on Amazon. Apple has promised one but it is not out yet. After all the questions, it was time for the volunteer raffle, which Dick Warner won again for the fourth time.
Pete Lozzi’s talk tonight was “Real talk about your personal info” — a talk on security and technology. Pete talked some about his background before he got into his talk. His affinity for Apple took him to working for Apple as a field consultant but he was then chosen to deliver technology to celebrities. He would get in a car that would take him to an estate. Once he was at the estate, he would find out whose estate it was. Then, he would go in and set up the Apple equipment that had been delivered earlier. One of his clients was Sheryl Crowe. Pete was not supposed to give out his personal contact information once he had set up the equipment. Sheryl Crowe was very persuasive and convinced Pete that she would only talk to him for tech support. This went on until Pete’s boss found out and told him he had to cut off the contact. Pete said it was hard to break up with Sheryl Crowe and one night he was with some friends and Sheryl was texting him which meant he wasn’t paying attention to his friends. They gave him a hard time and he ended up having Sheryl sing to his friends to prove it really was her. He also helped several other celebrities before he left Apple. He was offered a job in Cupertino, but the commute from Vacaville was more than what he wanted to do at the time. He was also offered a job to manage the Apple store in downtown San Francisco, but turned it down for a manager position with Staples — near his home. He is now a customer consultant with HP working with PCs but he is also an expert with Macs. He said he is obsessed with technology.
Passwords, whether you like it or not are are a necessary part of today’s world. Almost everything about you is available online and what protects it are passwords. People trying to find out your passwords are the biggest threats in today’s life. Many companies now offer two factor authentication as another layer of protection. You enter you password and then you get another temporary code on your phone or other device which you have to enter in order to login or make changes. If it is turned on, you will get notifications when someone tries to login to your account.
There is a group of “Hackers” who have a list of 4 million of the most common passwords that are used. People can purchase the list and use it to try to break into your accounts. They just need to get your email account and they can point a program using the passwords at your account until one of them works and chances are that one of them will work. Pete has a method for making passwords that he has confidence in. He then played Journey’s “Wheel in the Sky” which is one of his favorite songs, which is part of his method of generating passwords. He takes the first letters of each word in the chorus of the song, adds a few numbers and symbols as required and uses that to generate the password. He only has to remember his favorite song, the first letters of the chorus are not one of the common passwords or even an English word. By changing the numbers and symbols, he can update the password as needed. He changes his passwords about every six months or so to be extra safe.
A member mentioned getting a “phishing” email (one that pretends to be your bank, a friend, etc..). Pete noted that it is OK to open the email when you get one but don’t click on any URL link in the email. One way to check the address of an offered link is to hover your cursor over the address; this will show the real address the email that you will go to if you make the mistake of clicking on the link. (Ed. note re: another way: In mail.app, if you choose View > Message > All Headers, the top section of the email will expand to show you all routing information.)
A member asked why Pete changes his passwords so often. Pete said there are security breaches (like Target or Equifax) where bad guys get valid user ID and passwords directly from the company involved. Remember not to put your passwords on a Post-it note on your computer. Pete’s mom had done that (against his advice) and Pete had found a photo of his Mom’s book club, on Facebook, that showed her computer in the background. Pete was able to zoom in and read Mom’s passwords. People have even been able to make copies of keys just from pictures of keys. Keychain, which is on every current Mac, will suggest strong passwords which is fine as long as you have access to the Internet so it can get to the database that has all the passwords, otherwise it will not autofill the password for you.
More on email scams, Pete has built a website that looked exactly like the front page of Wells Fargo Bank — in about 17 minutes. The scammers build websites like this so when you click on a link in a phishing email, you think you are going to the actual site of the institution. If you get a scam email that says it is from Apple, you can forward it to email@example.com so Apple can learn what the scammers are doing.
When you are browsing, remember to log out of the websites you log into — closing the tab does not log you out. Many secure sites often will log you out after a predetermined period of inactivity, but you should log out. A member mentioned programs like 1Password or LastPass, which manage your passwords for you — securing them with one master password. Pete has 171 user accounts. iCloud password integrates with Apple products and does a similar thing to 1Password or Lastpass. Your computer login password protects it. Pete was asked about virus protection. Viruses have gone way down and Macs and iOS have not been vulnerable to viruses due to the way the operating system is written.
“Being hacked” People can’t break into your computer and grab stuff if you have a strong password with two factor authentication (if available). Third party applications love subscriptions because they know that you may forget you have a subscription and keep paying them. When Pete noted that you can check what subscriptions you have through iTunes. Many people wanted him the show how you do it, but said he would do it after the meeting. You can go to your iTunes account in iTunes and click on View Account, enter your iTunes password when prompted and look for subscriptions near the bottom of the window. Click on Manage and you will see what subscriptions you have, when they expire and there will be a place to clink to cancel subscriptions.
Entering credit card information into a reputable site is not a problem as banks are aware of fraud and will usually recognize a misuse of your card. Apple Pay if available is very safe as it generates a one time use number for you so the site you are buying from doesn’t get your actual card number. Touch ID and Face recognition are convenient features for unlocking your device. The passcode you enter is the security feature. Whenever you use Apple Pay, you are telling banks that you want fraud proof transactions.
Home automation — Petes home is very automated. He showed the video that demonstrated almost all of the home automation he uses. His automation is attached to the Internet and he uses devices from Apple, Amazon and Google. Pete noted that Ken Spencer can check your router to make sure that it has the proper settings be secure. A member asked Pete why he set both Siri and Alexa. Alexa has an app store so you can add more features, something that Siri doesn’t offer now. They are not connected together and control different things in Pete’s house. There are some concerns that people might be listening in to these kinds of devices but the companies know what a PR disaster it would be if this could actually happen. The last question Pete got was about his electric bill with all the automation, he said it is reasonable and that many of the lighting fixtures he uses are LED and don’t use much electricity.
It was then raffle time. Pete had his daughter draw the tickets and then once the three iTune gift cards were gone, she had us stand up as the winning numbers for the Apple Watch and iPad were drawn. The last of those prizes ended up going to one of two people who were standing right next to each other as the winning number was announced.
I look forward to seeing you at the next General Meeting and remember to invite a friend or relative to come check us out. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org