My iCloud doesn’t seem to be syncing any more…

imgresHere’s a problem that a number of people have seen since upgrading their Mac or iOS device.

Have you ever wondered if your iCloud information is truly syncing? Sometimes you add a new contact, or a new bookmark, and can’t seem to get it to move to your other devices. ICloud is supposed to sync automatically and normally it does. But once in a while, particularly after an update, I find that parts of iCloud seem to stop syncing. So what’s a person to do.

The easiest way to get iCloud to sync again is to simply toggle off the offending item, such as contacts or bookmarks in the iCloud settings on either your phone or computer. By simply turning it off, and then turning it back on, often times the sync resumes normally. Generally, when you turn the sync back on for the particular item such as bookmarks, iCloud will ask if it’s okay to merge the information from your device with the information in the cloud. Since most of the information is the same, merging will accomplish the sync that you’re looking for and put all of the information on your device. So when asked, Tell it that it’s okay to merge.

While we all realize, we shouldn’t have to go through this process, this is certainly a simple method to get all of your information in iCloud back in sync on all your devices.

Links to Home Control Products I Use

X-20090119111603625-1Lighting – Lutron and Wemo

Video Cameras – DLink and IP Cam Viewer Pro

Bose SoundTouch Wireless Music System

Thermostat – Nest

Smoke Alarm and CO Detection

Craftsman AssureLink Garage Door Opener

AdwareMedic Mac Malware Remover is now Malwarebytes

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.25.33 PMI have talked a number of times before about how Malwarebytes was the primary tool I used to remove  malware on a PC.  It is always been a great tool and always had a free version that allows me to use it on clients computers.  I’ve also mentioned that malware, or more accurately, Adware,  is now becoming a problem on the Mac and that I use a tool called Adwaremedic to remove malware on it.

Today, I updated Adwaremedic and found that Adwaremedic is now called Malwarebytes Mac.  I think this is a terrific change!  Malwarebytes on the PC has been dependable for years and is really the go to product for PC malware.  To have this company now cleaning malware on the Mac will be a good think.  They definitely have the expertise to do malware removal and Mac users should be able to depend on them too.

The next time you have Adware or popups on the mac, go to Malwarebytes to get your malware cleaner on yourMac.  You can’t go wrong with them.


Problems with Free Wi-Fi Hotspots

imageQ: I have had increasing issues connecting to WiFi with my phone from free access locations at airports and motels. I get messages like “server not available” or “cannot connect to server”. So far, I have gotten around the problem by turning off WiFi and relying on cellular connection. However, I want to solve the problem, because once we are traveling to Canada we will rely on WiFi to send emails. Any explanation or suggested remedy?

A: I often times see the same thing coming from free wireless connections. In many cases you have to chalk it up to you get what you pay for. These free Wi-Fi connections are many times not very good and even more often don’t work. I find this to be very prevalent in airports.

But there are a couple of other things to consider when you connect to the free Wi-Fi hotspot. I’m finding more more often that these hotspots require you to open the Safari browser after you make connection to them and agree to some hold harmless agreement. I think the lawyers have gotten involved and people who offer free Wi-Fi are afraid someone will use the Wi-Fi for illegal purposes.  They allow you to connect, but unless you immediately go to Safari and agree to their license agreement, which often comes up automatically if you run Safari immediately after connection, you don’t actually have any Internet access.

The other possibility is that some of these are not truly free Wi-Fi sites. They may be connections other people are offering from their computers in the hopes of someone connects  Then, once connected, they are able to scan their computer for private information. It’s very hard to do this on the Mac, and nearly impossible on an iPhone or iPad, but on a Windows machine if you connect to one of these fake hotspots, and don’t have your firewall turned on, a thief can scan your computer for all kinds of private personal information. People create these fake access points hoping to get unsuspecting individuals to connect to them.  Nothing to really worry about with a Mac or an iPhone, but frustrating because they act exactly as your are describing when you try to connect to the Internet.

Finally, many free wireless hotspots, particularly at hotels, will not allow you to send email. They block the email ports in the Internet connection to keep you from using their systems to send out spam. I found this happen a lot in nicer hotels.  In fact, when I was traveling for business, it almost went without saying that if you paid for Wi-Fi at a hotel, it would always have mail blocked.

The best thing I can tell you, is to only connect to the  hotspots that your sure are legitimate. If a business says they offer a hotspot, it’s usually a good one to connect to. But if you see one named something similar to “Free public Wi-Fi” I find 90% of the time these are scams so only connect to one that you’re familiar with.  Also keep in mind that the only benefit of providing a free Wi-Fi connection to a business is marketing, so restaurants, and hotels, tend to put their names in the Wi-Fi connection. If you see an unlocked connection with an odd name you’re not familiar with it’s probably not one you want to connect to.

Those are just some of my thoughts.  Rest of shared, it’s not you or your devices that are having the problem, Everybody sees the same thing and has the same problems.


Windows 10: Lets give it a chance

IMG_0415If you’re a Windows user you probably know it’s that time again. Microsoft is about ready to release its latest version of windows, Windows 10. How you feel about this may be directly be related to what version of Windows you’re using today.

If you’ve purchased a computer in the last few years, particularly from a retail outlet, you’re likely running Windows 8, or Windows 8.1. Microsoft’s release of Windows 8 was nothing short of a disaster. in their wisdom, or at least the wisdom of the people running the show at the time ( who are nearly all now gone) , Windows was ready for a complete facelift. Brand-new interface, out with the old in with the new, and a consistent look and feel across all devices. So basically your tablet, computer, and phone what all look alike. That’s what the people in charge thought customers wanted. But what they found out was that nobody wantIMG_0416 (1)ed that. In my experience, working with people using Windows 8, at least 10 to 1 they absolutely hate and despise the change. Nobody wants to learn new things, but this much radical change at once makes absolutely no sense. So if you’re running Windows 8 you’re probably looking forward to Windows 10. I mean the thought is, it can’t get any worse, can it? To you, I completely agree.

Windows 10 is setting itself up to be a pretty good release. Beta testers are saying there are few bugs at this point in the interface change, in a lot of ways, it’s back to Windows 7, and it is a welcome relief. in many peoples mind, they’re ready for the change. As always, with any new operating system, I want to caution you that you may not want to be the first person you know to install windows 10. I would say it’s going to be harder for a lot of people to resist since Microsoft is providing the update for free to windows 7 and 8 users. But with any release, it makes some sense to wait a little while and let other people get a feel for how well the operating system really works in the real world. So Windows 8 users, while I share your enthusiasm, I also hope you don’t jump to soon and end up sorry that you did.

IMG_0417 (1)The next group of people are folks who run Windows 7. If you’re using windows in business, this is likely the version you’re using today. Windows 7 was a terrific release. it was solid, clean, and had a few bugs once the first initial patches were released. In fact if you’re a Windows 7 user you may be dreading windows 10. You were fortunate enough not to be forced into Windows 8 and the debacle that it brought. So windows 10 is probably something you won’t want to jump on right away. And I completely agree with you too. Windows 7 has been such a stellar release, and software developers have continued to develop suffer for it, but putting off the windows 10 update for a while is probably a good idea. If Windows 10 turns out to be as good as it looks like it could be, holding off a little while certainly won’t hurt anything. So to you Windows 7 users, I’m thinking about six months of waiting might be in the cards. Let’s let Microsoft get the operating system out, all of the initial bugs fixed, and hardware developers time for drivers to be updated before we make a big job and move forward.

Now if you’re in the third group of Windows users, those running obsolete system such as Windows Vista, or Windows XP, you have a much harder decision. Both of these operating systems are not being supported by both Microsoft IMG_0418 (1)and third-party developers. If you’re an XP user Microsoft is not even patching bugs or security holes. That’s a very tenuous place to be and you know better than anyone that it’s probably time for an update. But if you’re using these older operating systems, you’re probably going to need to update your computer too. So purchasing a new machine with Windows 10 already installed is probably your best choice. Having hardware built for Windows 10 will likely make it run better and give you a much better experience. but since you’ve waited so long to do an update, you need to be aware that you’re going to have pain. It’s quite likely some of the hardware you have won’t work, many of your software programs may need to be updated and cost you additional money, and some software may no longer be compatible at all. To you I say, it’s always a good idea to prepare for the update by making a list of all of your software, checking with vendors to ensure that they’re compatible, listing the hardware that you will retain after buying the new computer, and making sure they’ll be windows 10 drivers for this hardware. From what Microsoft is telling us nearly everything that runs in Windows 8 will run in Windows 10. So if you want to begin your preparation by checking for software updates available for Windows 8 you’re probably going to get a good idea of where you stand.

I’ve done some testing with Windows 10 and so far I’m quite optimistic. I believe it’s going to be a good release for Microsoft, and after Windows 8 it better be. But like most windows updates, it’s never good to be the first guy doing the installation. So let’s give it a little time before we make the decision to do the update. Hopefully, after we read enough good reviews, we will all be excited about updating all of our computers to Microsoft’s new version of Windows.

And if not, I’d always be happy to help you make the move to the Mac!

Migrate or Clean load your Mac: The Digital Cleanse

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 1.05.46 PMMacs are not Windows computers. With Windows machines, after about 24 months of use, if you can go that long without a virus, the computer just seems to slow down and often the only solution is to reload fresh. A Macintosh can go much longer before starting to feel slow and lethargic.  Performance degradation on a Mac is often times related to how much software you install on the computer. If you’re one of those people that tries out new software often, a digital cleanse will sometimes make a big difference in the performance of your machine.

By and large the best time to make the decision is when you change computers. Built into the Mac operating system is the ability to migrate from one computer to another. That migration process brings along all of your settings and configuration making the new machine look and feel just like the old one. Typically, a new computer is going to be faster and may mask the fact that there’s lots of leftover software and settings from old applications you no longer use. So often times making the decision to clean reload the computer rather than migrate will provide much better performance in the end.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 1.24.18 PMSo let’s say you made that decision that it’s time to do a clean reload. What are some of the things that you need to be aware of and prepare for when you begin that process. I’ve decided to compile the top 10 list of things to think about as you prepare to do a clean Macintosh reload.

10.  Before you start make sure you have two backups. Every Mac User should have a single back up at least. Most users will use Time Machine to back up your computer and I highly recommend that. But if you’re going to do a clean reload or migrate your computer by hand, you need to have a second backup. Time Machine is great for recovering individual files or recovering your entire computer. What you need in this case is a backup that you can go in and look at the files. I recommend using Carbon Copy Cloner for this purpose. You could also use Superduper or even the restore functionality of disk utility if you choose. You’ll also need an additional hard drive to make an exact copy of your main hard disk before you begin any process of doing the reload. This becomes very important when you’re copying files back to your new cleanly loaded machine. If you have to pull files out of a Time Machine backup the odds of missing something or inadvertently copying things that are going to again slow your machine down is very high.

9.  Make a list of your applications.  You want to make sure you don’t miss anything. Look in your applications folder and make a list of all the applications that you use. This is a great opportunity to decide what applications you don’t use and not install them on the new machine or reload.

8.  Round up all your software install disks, or identify where you’re going to get your software from.  Don’t forget license keys. You’ll also need the license keys for any software you reinstall that has a key. One benefit of downloading your software from Apple’s App Store is that you can easily reinstall it back on your computer at any time without having to remember license keys. But not all software is available that way.

If you use Adobe applications such as Creative Cloud, you need to be sure that you deactivate them on the old computer before beginning the process. Otherwise you’ll have difficulty activating them on the new machine.

7.  Passwords. Make absolutely sure you have passwords written down, or better yet stored in a password manager such as 1Password so that you can  re-login to websites, re-authenticate your mail, and have access to all of your files in cloud-based file services.

6.  Clean reloads take time. Be sure you allow yourself enough time to be able to complete this. It’s always best to do it in one setting so that you don’t miss anything. If you reinstall the operating system, from the recovery partition, you’ll need to be prepared for the long download that could take as much as three or four hours.

5.  Don’t forget to apply all the updates. Overtime your software applications have been updated. If you reinstall them from the original disk that you purchased them on, be prepared for updating those applications too. A product like Microsoft Office Will sometimes have to be updated four or five times so continue to run the updater until it tells you no more updates are available.

4.  Install up-to-date software versions were possible. Sometimes an application may need to be updated to run on the latest operating system. We often see this happen when you’re moving from an older computer to a newer computer. Some of your most important software that you use every day may not be run on the  new version of the operating system causing you to have to purchase an update. Do your research first after you make your application list to see what you might have to purchase to run on the new operating system.

7ae57ab93.  Use iCloud to your advantage. iCloud has the ability to store contacts calendars bookmarks etc. Be sure iCloud is turned on and is syncing those items on your computer before you start. More  importantly, be sure you log into the same Apple ID on the new computer to get that information pulled back out of the cloud easily.

2.  Don’t run the included Apple applications until you copy your data back. Many of Apples applications use data files such as an iTunes library, or a photos library. If you run these applications before you copy your data back it will create a new blank library causing you problems when you finally move your stuff back. Avoid running any of these until all your data files have been copied back and be sure to test those applications and verify your photos, music, movies, etc. are all still there.

And finally, the most important thing to verify…….

1. Since you’ll be copying all your files back from the carbon copy cloner disk by hand, make absolutely sure everything copies correctly. If your are storing your files correctly, they will be within your user folder on the backup and can be copied a folder at a time to the new or reloaded machine.  Sometimes if you’re copying lots of files at one time the file copy may crash and not finish. In those cases, it leaves some of the files off of the new machine. Check folder by folder to make sure you have everything back on your newly loaded computer.
if you follow all of these tips, doing a clean reload or a digital cleanse maybe able to improve your performance of your existing computer or make your new computer run even better.


Newer Technology Mini Stack Drive – A Nice addition to a Mac Mini

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 2.24.11 PMWhen I purchased my Mac Mini, I was excited about the fact that I was going to have much more space on my desk. And for a time, I was able to do that. But, over time when I needed additional disk space, I needed to add external hard drives to give me that space. I’ve always been one to purchase external hard drives based upon price.

I typically buy whatever is on sale locally. Unfortunately, that has allowed me to have a number of dissimilar drives that all take up space on my desk. I was excited to see NewerTech’s miniStack drive because the form factor of this drive was the exact size of the current Mac Mini. This allows me to place the drive under my Mac Mini and an additional space without using up more disk space.

I was fortunate enough to be able to tryout one of these units with a 1 TB hard drive built-in to see how it performs and how looked when set up with my system.

NewerTech’s miniStack has a number of ports on the back that allow you to be able toScreen Shot 2015-07-02 at 2.24.19 PM connected with either FireWire 800, eSATA (which doesn’t make a lot of sense in the Mac world), or by the common USB3 port that comes on the current model Mac Mini. Since USB3 is faster than Firewire 800, I chose to make the connection with the included USB3 cable.

If you were using Firewire 800, NewerTechnologies was thoughtful enough to include an additional passthrough port for other Firewire devices. Unfortunately, to get additional USB3 ports you need to move up to NewerTechnology’s miniStack Max unit that provides additional USB3 ports and an SD card reader. This unit also allows for a DVD or Blue-ray drive to be included inside.

After placing the drive unit under my Mac Mini, I plugged in the power adapter and the included USB3 cable. Unfortunately, the power adapter included was a large brick type of adapter that required a wide plug to be plugged in. It would’ve been slightly better had a power adapter been built-in internally so the plug-in would only require a standard spaced plug.

After the initial setup, I was presented with an icon for the new drive software to be installed. I ran the installer and selected the recommended easy-setup option. Having to run software to install a drive was somewhat foreign to me, but running the utility, I accepted the defaults and was presented with an icon for the drive on my desktop. For users who do not install a drive very often, this method of setup is quick and easy. Other options in the process would allow for multiple partitions to be setup if the user wants them.

On the drive was a bundled package of Speedtools OEM version and Prosofts Data Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 3.06.05 PMBackup 3. In general, these utilities are a little dated. but still functional if you’re using the correct operating system. Windows utilities were also included. For my use, I chose to use Carbon Copy Cloner to do my backup since I already owned it and was familiar with it.

The miniStack drive is available in drive sizes up to 5TB or as a bare unit without a drive. If you really want fast storage, you can also get it with a Solid State Drive SSD in 120GB to 960GB sizes.

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 2.25.16 PMOnce the drive was setup and formatted, it was easiest to use just as any other drive on a Macintosh. I set up a Carbon Copy Clone task and copied my main drive due this new drive as a backup. That all without a hitch. Speed was as good as any USB3 drive that I’ve used before. The fan in the drive proved to be very quiet. It did not add much noise to my working environment. While there is a switch on the back of the drive, I doubt that I will use it as I will allow the Mac to continue to run almost all the time.

If you’re looking for a small footprint drive for your Mac Mini, NewerTechnologies many stack is a great solution. The footprint is exactly the same as the Mac Mini and by having a USB3 port it complements the drive internal to the Mac Mini. If you have an older Mac with a FireWire 800 port, and you’re looking for a drive to be able to use it with, the miniStack is also a good choice.

Price varies from $79 to $693 depending on Drive size and type.
For more information check out the Other World Computing website.