Dear Clients & Friends,
As you may have heard, Apple held an event in Cupertino today to talk about the future of the Mac platform and announce some new hardware. Some of this news is quite interesting, and we wanted to share our thoughts about it with you.
First up is the next release of Mac OS X, called Mavericks. The new OS (10.9) was released to the public today, and in a move that caught many of us by surprise, they’re releasing it free to anyone with a machine that can run it. If you have a machine running 10.6.8 that meets the requirements (iMac from Mid 2007 or later, Laptops from 2008 or later, Mac Pros from 2008 or later), you can download and install Mavericks for free.
Mavericks is mainly an update that provides performance increases. I’m seeing about 90 minutes more battery life per charge under the last pre-release edition, which is substantial, and there are some significant improvements in the Finder (file tagging) and general OS, including how it handles multiple-monitor setups.
The free release of Mavericks has some wide-ranging effects that we’ll be talking with in the near future, but for the moment we would recommend holding off on upgrading. With the upgrade, Apple’s servers will be deluged with users rushing to download, and there may be claim and activation issues in downloading it right away.
We would recommend waiting a week at least to let the dust settle, and we can help you make sure that Mavericks can be deployed across your entire office without wrecking your bandwidth, and without wrecking anyone’s working environment.
Second up is the release of new MacBooks Pro. Apple upgraded the MacBook Pro with Retina Display with new, faster processors, as well as faster onboard solid state storage to make for significant increases in battery life, operating speed, and overall performance. If you’ve been holding on to an older generation of MacBook Pro, this would be the time to buy. The new hardware has been released to the purchasing channels today, and we’re happy to help you identify which MacBook Pro is right for you. The best part of the upgrades? They’ve dropped the price on the new MacBook Pro with Retina display. 13” models start at $1299, and 15” models start at $1999, a drop of $200 per machine.
Apple will still ship an old-style MacBook Pro, but with these new Retina machines at their current prices, I can’t fathom wanting to buy one.
Third up is the new announcement of a release date for new Mac Pros. If you’ve been waiting on bated breath for a new desktop workstation with proper power, December is your month, as Apple releases the new Mac Pro. It comes in 4, 6, 8 and 12-core models, is as quiet as the current Mac mini, and comes with dual GPUs, six Thunderbolt 2 ports for expansion, and supports up to 3 full-resolution 4K displays. It will start at $2999, with the 4 and 6 core versions arriving in December, and the rest shipping in 2014.
Fourth is the upgrade of Apple’s iWork and iLife suites. They will have new versions in the App Store for iOS and Mac OS today, and if you have purchased a new Mac or iPhone, those upgrades are free. In addition, they will be free on all new Macs, while existing Macs will have an upgrade option through the Mac App Store.
Lastly, Apple refreshed the iPad line today. At the top of the line is the iPad Air, a thinner, lighter version of the iPad you’ve come to know and love, at the same pricepoint ($499 with WiFi/$629 with WiFi + LTE) as before. It is 20% thinner, and about 30% lighter, weighing in at just one pound. In the middle of the line is the new Retina version of the iPad mini, which will stay at the same at $399/$529. It features a new Retina display, which is double the resolution of the old version. At the bottom of the line, Apple is keeping the iPad 2 ($399) and the iPad mini ($299) available for those who want budget tablets.
Happy iOS 7 Day!
Sometime today, Apple will release iOS 7 to the masses. There’s a lot of great new features in iOS 7, from better Maps, to new enhanced quality ringtones, as well as a lot of “fit & finish” updates to the functionality of the phone. My personal favorite is the re-do of the Calendar application which dramatically enhances the usefulness of the application. You can read about all the changes at Apple.
If you have an iPhone 4, 4S or 5, an iPad 2 or later, or a 5th generation iPod touch, you can run iOS 7.
For those who want to leap right into the new OS, there are a couple of things you should do this morning to get ready:
1) Download the newest version of iTunes and make sure all your software is up to date.
On the computer that you plug your iPhone into, make sure your iTunes is at the most recent version, and that you have applied all the system software updates. The best way to do this is to use the AppStore (if you’re on on OS X 10.8), or by choosing Software Update… from the Apple menu. This may require you to reboot your computer.
2) Do a full encrypted backup of your iOS device using iTunes.
That means plugging your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch into your computer, opening iTunes and then selecting your device at the top of the screen, then under the Backups section of the Summary screen, you can check the box for Encrypt iPhone backup, then click Back Up Now.
Making an encrypted backup of your phone is the ONLY way to make sure that all your network passwords, email passwords, and other secure storage is kept on the when you upgrade between versions.
You will be prompted to choose a password when making an encrypted backup. You MUST remember this password when restoring all that data to your phone tomorrow during iOS 7 install, so you might want to consider writing that one down.
3) Make sure you have a good iCloud backup, too
Belt and Suspenders is a great way to think about backup. You never want to be caught with your pants down.
If your phone is set to make an iCloud backup, it will do that automatically when the phone is locked, plugged into a power source, and connected to a WiFi network. Usually this happens when you plug it in at night, but you can force the issue at any time from the phone itself. Go to Settings App > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Back Up Now
Now you’re ready for the update.
iOS 7 will be released at some point during the day, and you can plug your phone in to install it. For those of you who already use Find My iPhone (Which you all should!) you will have to turn that off before you can install iOS 7 on the phone. This is a new security measure built into iOS 7 that will strengthen the ability of the phone to be found after being stolen or lost.
Once you have iOS 7 installed, you can then restore from your encrypted backup (with all the passwords, and done over USB) or from your iCloud backup (you’ll need to re-enter account passwords). Remember to make sure to re-activate your Find my iPhone!
Happy New iPhone Day!
Today, Apple held a press event at their Cupertino offices to announce new phones and the release date for iOS 7, the next iteration of the OS that powers iPads and iPhones. We’ve now seen the keynote, which you can watch in its entirety at Apple.com, or via the Apple Events channel on AppleTV or on your iOS device.
We’re going to handle this in the form of some quick Q&A.
Q: What’s the lay of the land for new iPhones?
A: Starting next week, there are three iPhone models for sale: iPhone 4S, iPhone 5C, and iPhone 5S. The 4S is the new “cheapy/free” phone for most cell contracts. The iPhone 5C is a re-imagined iPhone 5, and the iPhone 5S is the brand new model.
Q: How much do they cost?
A: With an upgrade available on your wireless plan, the 4S will be free (or $0.01, legalities apply), the 5C will be $99 or $199 (16 or 32GB), the 5S will be $199, $299 or $399. (16, 32 or 64GB)
Q: And there’s colors?
A: Yep, there’s colors. The 4S is white & black, the 5C is White, Yellow, Green, Blue or Pink. The 5S is Space Gray (think black), Silver (think white), or Gold (white with gold metal backing). You can see all of this at Apple.com.
**Q: So what’s the difference between the 5C and 5S? **
A: The 5S has all the fanciest new technologies: 64-bit A7 processor, M7 motion coprocessor, fingerprint scanner, enhanced 8 megapixel camera. The phone is supposed to be about twice as fast for CPU and GPU tasks than the current iPhone 5, which will make it feel snappier. The new M7 coprocessor will work with new motion-based applications, like a forthcoming Nike app, to better show off how much you move around. The new Fingerprint Scanner makes it possible to unlock your phone by on your fingers, as well as buy things with just a tap, instead of typing in a long password.
The new Camera has a sensor that’s 15% larger, which means more light comes into the sensor, which means better pictures. It also does 120 frames-per-second slow-motion video. It also supports the ability to take bursts of photos, for action shots, and it can do auto-exposure within a panorama.
It’s better, trust me.
The 5C is no slouch, but it’s still carrying a 32-bit A6 processor. If you just have a 5, unless you really, really want colors, there’s no compelling reason to upgrade to a 5C. If you have an iPhone 3GS or 4 still, though, the 5C will feel like driving a new Ferrari.
Q: So, the 5C. It’s still pretty good?
A: Yeah, it’s essentially the current iPhone 5, but with a new lease on life. They rethought the casing so that it’s now a single piece of heavy-duty plastic with a steel-reinforced frame, and then a glass touchscreen front. The plastic is grippy, which means fewer dropped phones, which many should like. In addition, Apple has cases for the new phones, for those who may want to accessorize with a complementary color, or a similar one.
It also has a slightly larger battery than the 5. The 5S has the same battery capacity, we’re told.
Q: What are you going to buy?
A: The camera put me over the edge to buy a 5S, but I have to say I was really tempted by an electric blue 5C. Especially at that pricepoint.
Q: And if I don’t have an upgrade available?
A: Check with your carrier for pricing. Unlocked phones are going to be super expensive (starting at $600.) so be ready for a bit of sticker shock. Or, consider one of the plans that allows you to upgrade your phone more frequently. They’re more expensive per month, but include more frequent upgrades.
Q: Anything else?
A: iOS 7 comes out on the 18th. It’s a pretty drastic change in aesthetic for Apple, and there’s some good and some bad that goes with that. The new Notification Center and Control Center are major steps forward, and AirDrop will be a massive step forward for sharing stuff. It will work on most iOS devices still ticking today, starting with the iPhone 4, the iPad 2, the iPad mini, and iPod touch 5th generation and later. Siri gets a big boost, and multi-tasking will get a lot more productive, as well. We’ll have a follow-up email next week about that.
This is just a quick note to point your attention toward a vulnerability in the iPhone that was released at Black Hat 2013. It uses an unlikely source: a compromised charger. Phones plugged into this charger can have their current apps replaced with malicious copies that can be used to raid your contacts, calendar, email and other applications, which makes this a pretty serious vulnerability.
For the time being, we would recommend against plugging into public USB chargers, like those found in Airports, and in other restaurant and bar-type situations. We’re available for questions and concerns if you have them.
We believe that Apple will patch this in the near future, and we’ll be sure to let you know when this has been properly addressed.
In the meantime, if you wanted to read more about this hack, there’s a good story at ZDNet about this.
Here’s my list of wild guesses for WWDC today:
- New Mac Pros, MacBook Airs (Pro comes with an SSD by default)
- New AppleTV partners with content agreements. One major cable network with a co-broadcast agreement.
- New AppleTV SDK for Developers for selling Apps via new AppleTV Store.
- Siri Improvements and API in iOS 7
- Better Backgrounding for iOS Apps
- New non-password authentication for OS X
- Functional iCloud Syncing (hahahahah, just kidding)
- Something Wonderful (said like Dave Bowman)
So! how’d I do?
Let’s call this 3.5 out of 8? Not bad.
If you’re anything like most people we know, you probably have been holding on to some old hard drives or computers not sure what to do with them before you get rid of them. Here’s what we recommend:
Then, take the whole thing to your neighborhood ecycler. Most communities these days have free options for ecycling old electronics. Check with your neighborhood waste disposal group for options.
Other methods of destruction that will work include:
But really: just don’t burn it. Too many toxic chemicals that you don’t want to breath. That includes microwaving it, folks.
This afternoon I, and many others, received an alarming email from Twitter.
It said, in short, we’ve been compromised at least in part, and we’ve reset your password as a security measure.
The details of the hack are on Twitter’s blog and basically seem to say that Twitter lost a bunch of credentialing information.
What’s that mean?
Twitter may have given up a bunch of information related to your account.
I have a twitter account (@tbridge) that has an email address attached, a password attached, and some server-side security stuff like session tokens attached. This information, it seems, was compromised at Twitter.
This doesn’t mean that my plaintext password was compromised, because they don’t store my plaintext password anywhere. My password is mathematically altered by a “salt” which then results in a value that they store. Think of this like a secondary security measure that means if they DO get this information, it’s only useful insofar as they have an email they can target for a password reset (that’s what got Mat Honan), and it’s a way to link users to accounts.
So. What should you do now.
Well, if you got an email from Twitter - or someone claiming to be them - I would read it carefully, and then don’t click on anything in it. It’s not a good plan to be alarmist, but this is also a good time now for spearphishing. Instead, go to twitter.com, and use their site to reset your password.
Picking good passwords is simple if you do one of two things. Option 1 is my preference, and that’s using a password generator/rememberer like 1Password which stores secure information securely. Option 2 is to use techniques like correct horse battery staple from XKCD.
Either are good.
The recommendation this week from people who know is that 16 characters is a good place to start passwords, and 20-24 characters is a good place to be. If you need to write these down do just that but then store those like you’d store your passport, a stack of cash, or those pictures you told your high school sweetheart that you destroyed: in a box with metal walls and a lock on the front.
This whole thing has me wanting better technology than passwords, but I’m not sure that’s ready yet.
This is a security update concerning your Macs and PCs, and you should stop and read the following and take action if necessary.
This week, security researchers have identified a Zero Day Exploit (meaning, a security flaw that was released into the wild without notification) that affects Java. This security problem is severe and should be treated with the utmost caution. Apple has taken the precaution of blacklisting Java Applets within Safari for those running Mac OS X 10.7 and 10.8, but those running 10.6.8 or earlier should take some precautions to ensure their safety for the time being. These steps are also necessary for those running 10.7 and 10.8 and using Firefox or Chrome as your web browser:
Note: Alternatively, you can access the Plug-ins settings by typing about:plugins in the browser address bar.
There is a planned update to Java to fix this issue, but it is not currently available. We will provide a second update once it’s available.
Please share this information widely.
Note, if you do have a critical application that requires the Java plugin in your web browser to be functional, contact us for details on how you can use Java with reduced risk.
Dear Clients & Friends,
If you haven’t heard, a confluence of 2 major storms (A Nor’easter and Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy) is expected to hit our area possibly as early as Sunday. They’ve even given it a catchy name, Frankenstorm. Washington Post coverage is here http://tinyurl.com/8n7y99s
We hope it fizzles out and we just get a little wind and rain. However, now is a good time to think about what you will do in the event of loss of power, loss of internet and phone services (including cellular) and possible flooding or physical damage to your facilities. It’s possible your business operations could be affected for several days.
In the event of a data, power, or telephony outage, we’re available on call throughout the storm to assist.
We’ll be tracking the storm and will issue additional updates as warranted. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.
Today, Apple released iOS 6 for the public. Generally speaking, while we think it works pretty well, we recommend that you hold off on updating for a few days to let the crush subside, and any showstopper bugs that made it through extensive testing in Cupertino get squashed. Apple has a good "What’s New?" page, but don’t take their word for it, here’s a few of the highlights of iOS 6:
Turn by Turn Directions
One of the most glaring faults in the native iOS Maps app had been its lack of good turn-by-turn directions. While there was a vibrant third party market, nothing ever quite felt right to me in terms of the UI. The new Maps app in iOS 6 is a huge leap forward. The new Map tiles are quite attractive, and that’s all well and good, but really what I am excited about is the pervasiveness of the turn by turn directions, and the extensibility of maps.
Maps in iOS 6 can be extended for different routing instructions, for transit directions, for course running, for cycling, and we should see a fair number of expansion packs in the App Store.
Do Not Disturb
The only thing that’s ever made me miss a Blackberry was the lack of a good Do Not Disturb mode on the iPhone, and thankfully that’s been fixed in software.
Do Not Disturb mode in iOS 6 shuts out all warnings, reminders, and sounds. It can be set on a timer, so that your phone doesn’t bother you at night, or at lunch, or during your workout. Like a good assistant, though, you can tell it when it’s okay to bother you. You can specify a group of contacts in your address book that can make it through, or set it so that if you get two calls from the same number in less than three minutes, it can make it through.
Reminders from other apps
The Reminders app that debuted with iOS 5 has gotten a big boost from Apple in iOS 6, in that other apps on your phone can now add reminders to your lists. That means that third party apps will be able to set Reminders in the future, including geofencing and timing of reminders. Pretty slick.
Siri on your iPad
Yes, those of you with the most recent iPads will also have Siri starting in iOS 6. Siri has new features, also, allowing you to get directions to anyone in your Find My Friends app, as well as access to sports scores, Open Table restaurant reservations, and more.
iMessage on your iPad now gets your iMessages to your phone number
This has been one of those things so long in the process that I could’ve sworn it had happened by now, but starting with iOS 6, iMessages sent to your iPhone number can also be read at your iPad.
A Better Phone App
Not taking calls? Send someone a text message back, “Hey, I’m on the phone right now, call you in a few” or “what’s up?” or other custom messages of your choosing. You can also set a reminder from their call screen to call them back after you’re off the phone, which is pretty great.
Email isn’t all equal. Those forwards from your second cousin, and the latest sale warning from that shop you went to once on vacation in 2007 just don’t rate the same attention as your spouse, significant other, or favorite coworkers. Now, you can setup contacts as deserving of VIP status and they get their own inbox on your phone. Messages here can be read and responded to without wading into the fray of the rest of your email. Think of this like a priority inbox, but for your phone.
If you have an iPhone 4S or an iPhone 5, the camera application got a sweet new feature to create a Panorama. Start the Panorama, then just move your camera smoothly to the right. Follow the on-screen arrow, and it will generate a panorama photo right from within the app. Impressive.
Photo Streams upgrade
For those of you with iCloud accounts, you can now share parts of your Photo Stream with other users on the fly and automatically. Take a photo, add it to a shared stream, and it just arrives on the other person’s devices like magic.
Some Questions and Answers
When’s it out?
It’s out now!
What’s it cost?
It’s free. Yes, really.
How can I install it?
We’re still sussing out if it will be an over-the-air update (I don’t think it will be) or if it will be done through iTunes, but it’s a safe bet that iTunes is the easiest way. That means you’ll plugin your device, open iTunes, and handle it through iTunes. We really, really recommend doing it this way instead of over the air. If you want a very detailed guide, our friends at Macworld have written a beauty on how to do it.
Anything I should do before I install it?
Backup your phone or iPad before you do. If you use iCloud backup for your device, plug it into power, and then go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Back Up Now. If you sync with your computer for backup, make sure that you sync before you upgrade.
How long will it take to do the upgrade?
Leave at least an hour to do the upgrade, including the time to backup your phone or iPad before starting. Once complete, you must sync with your phone to have all the data re-transferred back to your iPad, so if you have a large iTunes database on your iPad, it may take longer to transfer.
Which devices can run iOS 6?
iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 on the handheld side, as well as the iPod touch 4th generation, and then iPad 2 and iPad 3 devices. Not all features will be available on iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 handhelds.