It was a small but dedicated crowd on this rainy evening. It was busy at the raffle table with Thomas using his best sales talk to sell tickets. The raffle had three iPads and three iTunes gift cards tonight.
Ken welcomed all of us who braved the weather. He had a busy day coming from another user group to ours. Fortunately, he had remembered he had not purchased any raffle items before he arrived and took time to go by BestBuy to pick up tonight’s prizes. Pete Lozzi will be our speaker next month and Ken and Pete will be going to the Apple Shareholder meeting in Cupertino. He asked if anyone had something for him to tell Tim Cook, with a smile on his face.
The big Apple rumors: There may be a 16” or 17” MacBook Pro. Also rumored is a 31” display to go with a new Mac Pro. The Mac Pro is rumored to be modular allowing for hardware updates, an important factor for professionals who would use a Mac Pro. Ken’s suggestion was to buy a MacPro now and when the warranty period is up, the new MacPro would be out. Someone from the crowd suggested he do it, but he politely declined. Another rumor is that there may be a long awaited new iPad Mini coming. Many people, including Ken, love their iPad Mini. Ken asked how many people were on Mojave; most were. Did they had had any problems; only a few members said yes. We had no new members tonight.
In Q&A: First, a member had been included in a group text that was spam. Many people in the group were responding “reply all” asking others to stop, using “reply all” with the same request. Ken thought you could open the group text and click on the pictures/icons at the top of the message and choose “Leave Conversation” in the resulting page. He discovered that he wasn’t able to do that in the group text he was in. He then suggested that you could click on the picture/icon at the top and block the people there to end the conversation for you. (Editor note: Further research discovered that “Leave conversation” is available as a choice only if all members of the group are using iMessage. To block, use the same instructions except you choose Mute Alerts. For more info on blocking, see Apple Support Memo HT201229.)
Second, that brought up the topic of spam phone calls. Typically, they look like they are from a number close to yours and are from outside of the USA. Since they are from outside the US, US laws to stop the calls don’t apply. Ken’s suggestion was to let the calls go to voice mail. He noted that most of us need to overcome our lifelong training of always answer a ringing phone. You can use the Do Not Disturb function on your phone to block calls for an hour, until tomorrow or until you leave a location or event (if it is in your calendar). People who call twice can get through if you set it up in your contact list. All other calls just go straight to voicemail. You can have your iPhone announce who is calling by going to Settings > Phone and choosing Announce Calls. Do Not Disturb is in the control panel with a half moon icon.
The next question was”when do you think we will get a new iMac? Ken thought it might not be soon and the iMac Pro had come out late last year (a computer Ken wished he could justify getting). Apple is also facing a shortage of Intel chips for new iMacs.
A member asked about how to remove an Album in Photos on the computer. You can Control Click on the album and the menu that opens will have Delete Album as one of the options. Ken reminded everyone that this would just delete the album; all the pictures in the album would still be in your Photo Library. A member with an iPhone XR had two Apple Apps that said they had an update, but wouldn’t update. Ken suggested restarting the iPhone first and if that didn’t work, delete the apps and re-download them from the app store. (Ed. note: Sometimes an update stalls. Reboot the App Store by quitting then opening the App Store app. Try the update again. This solves the problem nearly all of the time.)
I asked a question about email sent with my @mac.com account that was showing up as junk or spam in several of our friends email. One friend had sent us the warning that Gmail had given them about our email not matching Apple authentication factors. I noted this was frustrating in that we were trying to shift from our surewest.net mail to mac.com. That gave Ken a hint and he asked if we had sent out an email to all our friends asking them to use our @mac.com address. One fix for people we had sent to that use Gmail was for them to log in to their Gmail account and find one of our emails and mark it as not spam to clear the spam notification. Ken suggested using Mailchimp ( https://mailchimp.com) if you do have to send out email to a lot of people. He uses it for his iTunes Gift Card mailing list.
A question was asked if it was a good idea to delete mail in your junk folder. It is OK to do that, but you should check the folder to make sure an email you want hasn’t ended up in junk by mistake. Gmail and “dot.mac” email automatically delete junk after 30 days.Most major email services also do this. Thus, it is a good idea to check it to make sure it is all junk before then.
There are apps which will help filter out spam and fraud calls.A good one is Hiya (https://hiya.com) The best thing to do if you get a call from a number you don’t recognize is to let it go to voicemail. If it is someone you know, they should leave you a voicemail. Most robocalls will not. If you want to see if there is any information about a number, try Googling the number. Often times there will be reports on spam numbers.
To help protect yourself from fraud, Ken suggested freezing your credit. Clark.com has a guide on how to do it (https://clark.com/personal-finance-credit/credit-freeze-and-thaw-guide/). It is free and Ken sleeps better at night having his credit frozen. He suggested going to Credit Karma first (https://www.creditkarma.com) and signing up then follow the procedure. When he needs to, it is very easy to unfreeze your credit. You will get notices if someone tries to open a credit card in your name.
Ken began his talk on photo extensions by showing us photos he had taken on his recent trip to Yosemite. His photos showed the snowy roads (up to six feet in some places) and snowy peaks. He had both panoramic shots from his iPhone and other shots he had taken with his “regular” cameras. He asked how many in the group tonight had seen the original fireball at Yosemite. A fair number of us raised our hands. From Wikipedia: The Yosemite Firefall was a summer time event that began in 1872 and continued for almost a century, in which burning hot embers were spilled from the top of Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park to the valley 3,000 feet below. The Firefall ended in January 1968, when the National Park Service ordered it to stop because the overwhelming number of visitors that it attracted trampled the meadows, and because it was not a natural event. NPS wanted to preserve the Valley, returning it to its natural state. The Glacier Point Hotel was destroyed by fire 18 months later and was not rebuilt.
A photographer had noticed that Horsetail Falls, during February, could be illuminated by the setting sun to glow in red and orange — looking like the man made Firefall. Ken has been there several times and has been able to photograph it. Some years the weather does not cooperate. The falls are only fed by a small meadow and that does not supply a lot of water to flow over the cliff. So, not only does the weather have to cooperate for the lighting to be right, but the falls themselves are dependent on the weather too. This year, the dates were February 15th to the 25th. Of course, Ken was there.
Ken loaded up some of his favorite shots to show us what could be done with extensions to Photos. You get to extensions by going to Edit in Photos and clicking on the icon with three dots. You can set what extensions are there by going to System Preferences, Extensions and checking on the extensions you have that can be added to Photos. Ken wants his photos to be the best they can be before any changes and uses the extensions to do corrections. He does not like to add things to his photos that weren’t there when he took the shot.
Ken first goes into edit and selects a tool and just uses the sliders to see how things change in the picture. Sometimes the “Magic Wand” can be enough. Command Z returns sliders to the neutral position. The first extension Ken showed us was Photolemur 3 (https://photolemur.com) which acts like magic Wand on steroids. It allows you to slide from side to side on your picture to see what the effect will be. Aurora HDR (https://skylum.com/aurorahdr-3 ) is another extension Ken uses. It has presets which display along the bottom of the program. You click on a preset to see the effect which you can adjust with a slider in the preset. Snapheal is a program that lets you eliminate items in the photo you don’t want. It is similar to the retouch tool in the Photo tool bar but does a better job of blending the background to cover what you have eliminated. When you are in Edit in Photos you can click the “Revert to Original” to get your original picture back if you don’t like the edits you have done. For iPads, Affinity Photo (https://affinity.serif.com/en-us/photo/ipad/ ) offers many functions some controlled by touch which can give you greater control.
Ken ended showing us his natural Firefall photos. Some of the best ones were taken with his iPhone, which he mounts on a bar on his tripod, along with his Canon and Sony mirrorless cameras. In one case, the iPhone captured the best photo because it could show more of the overall scene. Ken has been lucky enough to be there several times to capture the effect. It can take several days for the weather to cooperate and you do have to set up early as many photographers will be there. But since everyone is shooting up at the cliff you can be behind someone and still get a good shot. This presentation was a preview of the class Ken will be giving at the Saturday workshop where he will have an extra hour or two to go into more depth.
Ending the presentation Ken noted several apps and a website he uses to check weather and road conditions, especially this time of year, They were Carr (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/california-road-report/id366746980?mt=8) The CalTrans QuickMap (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/caltrans-quickmap/id1193696577?mt=8 ) and the website oss.weathershare.org which shows road conditions, road cameras, chain requirements and other things like fires and weather forecasts for the Western States. The site works best on an iPad; it is very small on an iPhone. All of them are free and Ken recommended all of them as he does a lot of driving in the area. Another site he checks is the CHP dispatch site cad.chp.ca.gov, which is a little more difficult to decipher, but is up to date.
The raffle was up next. As Ken had purchased 30 tickets, he asked for a volunteer to select the tickets. One of my seat mates went up to help out. Ken spun the barrel around several times and three tickets were picked out for the iTunes gift cards. When the numbers were read off, our volunteer was lucky enough to have winning numbers for two of three gift cards. He did have a long string of tickets so his odds were pretty good. After that, he sat down and someone else picked the tickets.
Remember the meetings are on the fourth Wednesday of the month this year (except December). I look forward to seeing you at next month’s meeting with Pete Lozzi as our speaker. Remember to invite someone to check us out either at the General Meeting or the Saturday Workshop. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.