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Securing High Sierra

With the latest security blunder in High Sierra 10.13.1 had a bug that allowed anyone with local access to your Mac the ability to authenticate using the root account. The key is they need local access, but once enabled they could install software to spy on you, and we read some reports that users with remote desktop or screen sharing turned on could have commands sent to modify your Mac without your knowledge.

If you aren’t savvy with tech lingo, then just think of root as your behind the scenes system administrator account. Normally, this account is disabled from logging in and hidden from your view as a user. In smart phones, you may have heard of folks “rooting” their phone to customize it or put special software that the manufacture doesn’t allow. This shows you the power of this system account that IT people rely on to help you.

Of course not everyone was effected to the same degree by this bug, but security professionals are recommending everyone running the latest OS update via the App Store or install the patch made available today: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208315

This should sound scary in today’s day and age of constant and escalating attacks, but more importantly it should get you thinking about how to secure your Mac. All of our clients were patched early this morning after we were alerted to the issue last evening and we were able to test the fix. That’s what is so great about our plans! We can be actively securing high sierra for those who upgraded before it becomes a security breach. If you are looking for more ways to lock down your Mac, we suggest enabling FileVault, considering a Firmware password, and installing software to scan for malware such as our favorite BitDefender.

 

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Updates 10.13.1 and 11.1

PSA: Updates are important.

We just wanted to do a quick public service announcement on these critical updates, MacOS 10.13.1 and iOS 11.1, released on Halloween for devices we support. Too often it’s very easy to ignore these because we are using our device, but as each year progresses the challenges of keeping devices secure intensifies. You can see all major tech firms security updates have increased in frequency, and if you like to read release notes like I do — you’d notice they are getting longer and longer. You can read more about these specific Apple updates here for 10.13.1, here for 11.1, and about the security specific changes here.

My personal favorite and somewhat recently famous.

My favorite and the most popular recent exploit was regarding Wi-Fi. You know, that magical RF fairy dust that connects us all and has become downright critical in today’s age. If you haven’t seen in the news, there has been some critical flaws unearthed in Wi-Fi authentication and published by KU Leuven students. Basically, when your device asks to join your network that you already have saved in your collection then it usually has no problem remembering and giving the password to connect on your behalf. What you might not know is that each time you reconnect again to that Wi-Fi network it does this super cool 4-way handshake each time to make sure all is tight in the wireless neighborhood. The students who published, Mathy Vanhoef and Frank Piessens, found out how this 14 year old handshake is super out of style and letting in some bad stuff in between you and your device. Using this flaw someone can start taking small pieces of your data and figure out how to gain access to even more that you may not want getting out such as passwords.

What you can do to protect.

Hackers love a good fight, so be sure to update to keep your device clean. Taking a few moments to backup your device and do the upgrade can give you device separation anxiety. However, the piece of mind is well worth it. All our clients’ respective devices that we manage have already been updated, and we’ve prompted them to restart and install by the time you are reading this post. That’s the really cool feature of our service offering for businesses, so please reach out to us for how you can better manage your Wi-Fi and updates:

[contact-form to=”[email protected]” subject=”Updates Post 11/2″][contact-field label=”Name” type=”name” required=”1″][contact-field label=”Email” type=”email” required=”1″][contact-field label=”Message” type=”textarea”][/contact-form]

Apple, iOS, and MacOS are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc.
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Notes on the Apple Special Event September 2017

Many of our friends, family, and customers alike were effected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Consider what you can do to help. You can learn more at Hand in Hand 2017. Since many don’t have power or internet we decided to put together our notes to share our excitement:

Steve Jobs Tribute

Welcoming with an inspiring quote from Steve Jobs to officially open the Steve Jobs Theatre. Tim takes the stage to reflect on Steve. His greatest gift being his company founding and ability to unlock others abilities. Apple Park was Steve’s vision for the future. It’s fitting the master of showmanship and design gets recognition.

Apple Store: redux

Continuing to open stores, now town squares, to and for communities around the globe. Of course centered around the products, yet inviting to fill their walls. With many people finding themselves inside an Apple Store at some point it always has been a natural place to get help, learn together, and connect. Go learn what a Creative Pro does or

Sneak peeks about 5th Avenue, building restoration in Paris, a theatre in Milan, and restoring Carnegie Library in DC. Chicago’s Michigan Avenue gets a new location too. Find your local store for an enriching experience.

Series iii

Apple Watch gets the features we all have been waiting to do on our wrists. Meanwhile with new heart sensor technology and studies will help all watch users be informed.

i) LTE unleashes you from the phone. Stream music, read chats, or take a call all from the Apple Watch.

ii) Same size as before with a dual-core processor on your wrist. Swimmers can rejoice on the water proofing while climbers can measure their altitude.

iii) Siri can talk with you via the watch. Just like Star Trek had hoped for us.

4K all the way

Apple TV gets a boost by adding 4K and A10X chip, same as the iPad Pro, in two model 32GB and 64GB. Content to follow in the app store at the same price as HD content. Now adding Live Sports for fans out there and news to stay informed.

8; 8 Plus

iPhone 8 & Plus announced with the most durable glass with microscopic seal. Inside you’ll find an A11 Bionic six-core machine learning chip. All new sensors in the 12 MP camera paired with the new IPS take more portraits with new lighting features. These phones are built for Augmented Reality right from the factory.

X at XLI

10 is a milestone for the 41 year old company and a reference to Steve’s legacy and obviously the iPhone. This strikes a heart cord with all fan boys, former & current employees, die-hard customers and anyone who studied marketing. Before this phone was even a thought the rumor sites had been guessing at it so long they got some facts right. Yet, it shows how important it was for Apple to be settling into their new home, new products, and reflecting on their achievements. Instead of infinity screens, a more realistic device with an improved screen emerged. Hard to believe they can keep making better technology in small water and dust tight packages with an OLED HDR 5.8″ screen that covers edge to edge. Forcing a bunch of sensors to gather and shrink into the TrueDepth camera system gives it a futurist edge. With words like neural engine this A11 Bionic chip brings six-cores to power machine learning. All this happening behind the scene gives a new unlock feature using your beautiful face as the key. If you don’t believe you are in the future you can now you can take better selfies and send animated Emoji’s with your face. If you still don’t, wait for AR to prove it.

Wireless forever

Wireless charging based on Qi standard, demoed via AirPower charging pad (to be released next year). That’s all we know on that item for now.

Apple, Apple Store, iPhone, Apple TV, and Apple Watch are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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Hurricane Preparedness for Electronics

hurricane-preparedness

With Irma barreling towards Florida we’ve been getting calls from clients on what they should do. Here are our professional tips and tricks to best prepare anyone. Hurricane preparedness for electronics shouldn’t ever be placed before your own safety. However, protecting your assets and thinking ahead can help in the aftermath. Here are our suggestions:

  • Make a plan to power down and unplug your electronic assets before the storm.
  • Check your backups and consider Backblaze for offsite backups in case your local ones get damaged.
  • Move equipment to a safe place away from windows.
  • Consider covering electronics with plastic after they are powered down.
  • Charge all battery packs while the power is still on.
  • Move any battery backups to higher ground and unplug if not needed.
  • Copy critical data to an external drive and take it with you if evacuating.
  • Customize your phone system to forward to cell phones.
  • Consider having a walkie-talkie app in case cell towers go down.
  • Seal important physical documents in a waterproof case.
  • Get a battery-powered radio for updates during the storm.
  • Don’t return until given the all clear and be safe.

Hopefully these tips can help you stay prepared. Have a disaster plan in place and never risk your personal safety to save your devices.

Our office will be closed September 7th and 8th in addition to the weekend. We’ll remain closed until given the all clear by authorities. We’ll be fielding calls as long as possible and once reopened we can help get you running again.

Stay safe!

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Prepare your Macs for Hurricane Matthew

Best Practices

Since we’ve been busy advising clients today, we figured we would share our best practices for businesses to protect your electronics during a storm like Hurricane Matthew:

  • Check your backups, and if you use external drives or media store it in a safe, dry place.
  • If you haven’t started using offsite, cloud backups you can start for free using our recommended solution.
  • Move all power strips and battery backups up from the floor in case of water rise.
  • Shutdown all devices you won’t be expecting to access remotely. Those devices should be attached to a battery backup with auto-shutdown configured. We’ve shutdown/unplugged all our devices and highly suggest you do exactly the same.
  • Unplug all devices from AC power before the storm starts. Power down and unplug the battery backups if equipped.
  • If possible move critical equipment to a safe location and waterproof it.

Safety First!

Never risk yourself or others to save a device, don’t use any devices in or near water, and remember with standing water in a house or office may mean risk of electronic shock. Remember to be safe out there and use common sense!

Consider Battery Power

If you haven’t invested in a battery backup of some kind, hindsight is 20/20 at this point, you should strongly consider it. During storms having a battery to power devices a little longer could be used to stay in communication with loved ones, stay current on the storm situation, and contact emergencies services could give you a critical option. Plus during normal conditions these battery backups can help condition your power to avoid drops in power that can damage electronics.

Stay safe out there!

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iOS 10

ios-10

ios-10

Today Apple released the latest version of iOS (10) to the public. It’s a free upgrade for compatible devices. This article will reveal which devices, what’s new in iOS 10, and how to upgrade. This major upgrade to the software will be available for the following devices iPod Touch 6th generation and the following:

iPhone iPad
iPhone 6s iPad Pro 12.9 inch
iPhone 6s Plus iPad Pro 9.7 inch
iPhone 6 iPad Air 2
iPhone 6 Plus iPad Air
iPhone SE iPad 4th generation
iPhone 5s iPad mini 4
iPhone 5c iPad mini 3/td>
iPhone 5 iPad mini 2

What’s new in iOS 10

Now you can finally delete built-in apps you don’t use. That seems to be one of the most requested items of the past.

You can hand write messages, change how messages look, send “hidden” messages, add animations for things worth celebrating, tapback quick responses, send stickers, tap to replace words with emojis, leverage message apps without leaving iMessage, and customize your video messages.

Siri can do more heavy lifting with 3rd party apps such as booking a ride with Lyft or sending money via Square Cash. Maps can book reservations, search along your route to the restaurant, and make suggestions to get there faster than before. Music and News get a whole new look with iOS 10.

The new Home app gives you a centralize place to control your home automation. This can help automate common behaviors, have Siri assist, and even share access to friends and family. All the home automation you need in one place.

Raise your iPhone to wake it up then on compatible devices leverage touch and go functionality to get a quick glance. Notifications on the lock screen now include a new rich view along with the ability to respond without opening an app. Your iPhone is also getting even better with predicting your text and handling multilingual typing.

Video Source: https://www.apple.com/ios/ios-10/

How to upgrade to iOS 10

  1. Make sure all your current apps have updated for compatibility.
  2. Backup your device using iCloud or iTunes!
  3. Plug into your Mac or PC and use iTunes to download and upgrade (recommended). You can also join Wifi and got to Settings > General > Software update, but some folks had issues with over-the-air updates.
  4. If you aren’t prompted to upgrade in iTunes make sure it is updated to at least version 12.5.1, or try selecting your device and clicking update.
  5. Enter your passcode if prompted and sit back and wait.
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Electronics Recycling for Earth Day 2016

electronics-recycling

At Start On Technology we value how delicate our environment is on earth and how important it is to protect it. That’s why we are sure to recycle all our electronic waste produced by the services we provide. We are proud to be responsible agents of mother earth who make sure to use electronics recycling. The responsibility to reuse and recycle by Apple is one of the main reasons we prefer their equipment over others. It’s important that we all do what we can to be responsible for our mother earth. In honor of Earth Day we’d like to help provide information on the best ways to get rid of our old electronic junk.

Photo by Matthew Pearce. Rights reserved under Creative Commons 2.0. Retried via Flickr.com
Photo by Matthew Pearce. Rights reserved under Creative Commons 2.0. Retried via Flickr.com

One way and probably the best way to get rid of older Macs is to sell them. You can do this on your favorite an internet bidding site, directly with Apple’s Renew and Recycling Program, or other providers. Just be sure to do some research to find out the exact model you have now using a program like MacTracker. For the other providers do some research into the company and their policies to make sure they are legitimate. We help all our clients make the right decisions, so please if you are unsure just get in touch. We’d be happy to help point you in the right direction.

Sometimes these electronics are low-valued or simply too old to provide enough value, but that doesn’t mean you should drop your old electronics on the curb or in the trash can. Do the right thing by finding a local recycling agent such as the your local Apple Store or using the nationwide search below. You will probably be surprised how many others you find. If for whatever reason you have trouble there are many nationwide vendors such as SIMS Recycling Solutions that would gladly help you properly recycle your equipment

 

If you are living in South Florida then you can also take your electronic waste to special county centers in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach. You can also find many private companies that can arrange pickup of this equipment for free or a small convenience fee too. If you are a client of ours then you will have piece of mind that we recycle for all our clients.

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iOS 9 New Feature Roundup

iOS9-6s-5Up

On September 16th iOS 9 was sent into the wild via over-the-air or iTunes update. Right away users started to notice the update size is much smaller than iOS 8 by around 3.5 times. This made the update process fairly easy for everyone who was prepared. Of course if you haven’t updated yet we always recommend a backup to iCloud or iTunes before getting started. Let’s get started with the roundup by exploring what’s really new in iOS 9 instead of finding out there is no emoji for flipping the bird.

The most obvious thing folks have noticed is the new San Francisco font that Apple switched to with iOS 9. The biggest response on Twitter #iOS9 seems to be related to Siri’s beep no longer is heard during accidental presses during inappropriate times. Of course with the new comes the new bugs, yet  the outcries haven’t been so bad.

New & Improved Apps at your disposal.

Where do you go to get news on what’s new? Apple has added a new app for that called Neios-9-newsws built for your device. You can pick from multiple sources and the app will funnel everything to you in a sleek interface. The more you use it the better it understands your likes and updates your feed to reflect it over time.

iCloud Drive is finally navigable across all devices with it’s new file system update and app you can add to the home screen to help. Meanwhile Wallet is getting fatter with plenty of new cards coming.

Make a note of it in the improved Notes app that now allows checklists, photos, and even a sketch with your finger. You can attach things to your notes and find them all in a special browser. Of course you can sync with iCloud to get your devices on the same page with those new checklists.

While out and about checking those boxes you can now use Maps for transit, what’s nearby, and even give you a faster route if it becomes available if you are driving. An overdue overhaul that finally brings the features everyone expects from mobile directions.

Power struggles and selfies are different now.

ios-9-powerYour iOS device is even more responsive with the addition of Metal. In addition Apple states user can benefit with 1 more additional hour of battery life. This was accomplished by streamlining key components of iOS 9 and adding a new feature to enable a low power mode. With this new power users can take even more selfies with new album dedicated for it.

Security in an unsafe world.

Now you can strengthen the already locked down iOS by moving from a 4 to 6 digit passcode. Making the encryption even harder to break for those who are trying to access your device. A good idea in this day and age along with two-factor authentication to keep prying eyes out of your cloud and devices.

What’s that Siri, you finally made friends with Cortana?ios-9-siri-cortana

Siri got even more useful with a tighter integration with suggestions that a personal assistant would make or know. She has some new flare to share with end users such as color waves, snappy new lines, and new sources of information. Now she can help with unknown callers before you even ask her or help you pickup on your favorite playlist. Want to pick this up later? Just tell Siri she’s got your back. She’s even proactive about it just looking at a flight email unlocks easy access to details to even add it to your calendar. Siri has been upgraded to rockstar status.

iPad users rejoice then split down the middle.

Multitasking is here with picture in picture, split screen, and slide overs. Reference a page while typing up a synopsis, pop your messages over to quickly respond to a text, and watch the ball game when your suppose to be reading your email. Just mix and match the possibilities that work for you then speed things up even more with shortcuts with QuickType on the keyboard.

iTunes Update

Of course an iTunes update is needed to suppose iOS 9 and tacks on some fixes to address minor bugs. Those security enhancements we discussed earlier also come in to play with this update.

Ditch the Droid

Now switchers can easily move information from their Android device to the iPhone. Very similar ios-9-appto how Apple’s migration assistant transferred terabytes and terabytes of user data from Windows. Need a nudge? Let’s make it easier to move devices.

iOS 9 isn’t OS X

Overall the update primarily seems to be cosmetic, but peeling back reveals it’s more systematic. Polishing the face, enhancing the use, and streamlining the flow of information is exciting; however, there does seem to be a lot of the same. With new products like iPad Pro and iPhone 6s leading the way I expect the gap will narrow further between iOS and OS. It’s still okay that iOS 9 feels familiar when the experience remains positive. I expect the naysayers will be in full force, but so far 24 hours into it I am not one of them. Go backup and download iOS 9 now it’s worth it.

iCloud, iOS, iPad, Siri, iTunes, and QuickType are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc. All Right Reserved.
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Numerous

numerous

After nearly a decade of working in the tech business I’ve seen my fair share of apps come and go. It’s not very often that an app brings something so valuable while maintaining simplicity. Living in our data driven society it’s valuable to have what’s important to you available at a glance. Numerous is able to provide this feature by integrating with many data feeds, and by them adding limitless APIs through IFTTT and Zapier the possibilities are vast. Let’s take a look at some of my favorite tiles.

Numerous

Working from left to right and top to bottom these are my main focus tiles at the moment. You can easily move them around as you see fit, and setup is a snap. My most difficult tile is the top left mileage tracking which utilizes my Automatic and IFTTT that was pre-existing. I simply just had to create my own tile and point IFTTT to Numerous to use that square. I changed the background to reflect the tile for a clear message. Clicking on the tile shows the history and a quick rotate of your device gives you a historic graph. You can change views and share the data via message, air drop, email, social media, and more.

numerous

Some more tiles I choose were related to gaining insight into my business, Start On Technology help me stay on top of our web traffic. It addition it helps with our social media presence and personal details like weather and stocks. Feel free to browse their channels on the numerous site for ideas.

If you need help getting started with Numerous, IFTTT, or are interested in Automatic for your business we can help automate your world. Just contact us for details.

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Mac Spring Cleaning

mac-spring-cleaning

Spring is here! Celebrate the vernal equinox with us by taking some time to clean up your Mac. Our guide will provide some places to start your Mac spring cleaning along with some great, free and paid tools. Typically the Mac handles optimization on-the-fly and most maintenance is done in the background. You have probably noticed during installation of new software a point where it is “Optimizing” during the end of the installation. Still from time to time Applications can not operate as expected, so try some quick solutions first.

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

The ol’ trusty restart can in some cases be a good place to start when an application isn’t performing up-to-par. Sometimes it’s as easy as quitting and re-opening the problem application. It’s always a good idea to do a backup and save work before trying any troubleshooting. Rarely but in some circumstances, shutting down or restarting can make matters worse, especially if you’re not prepared with a backup. Typically this only emerges when your Mac is running slow as molasses signaling a possible drive failure or file system problem.

My friend said permission repairs fix everything.

Another great thing about your Mac is it comes with tools built-in called Utilities to help you out. Seasoned Mac users know about these tools found under the Go menu in Finder. One gem application in particular is Disk Utility.

It gives you details about the health and space of your hard drives and allows you to fix application access issues and check your file structure. Sometimes an application doesn’t work correctly because it’s trying to access something that the operating system (OS) is prohibiting due to access issues. That’s what choosing your boot drive, typically named “Macintosh HD,” on the left side and choosing Repair Permissions can do. It only really helps when your apps aren’t working as expected. It’s far from a magic fix-all, but it can help troubleshoot an issue. Don’t be surprised if running the permission repair multiple times yields the same messages. It’s almost never something to be alarmed about, but informative to developers to update their app. Verification of the Disk can warn you about a more serious issue, and it will take a chunk of time suspending use of the Mac.

Some others worth checking out in the utility folder are Console, Activity Monitor, and Keychain. Activity Monitor and Console can give you insight into what is happening in the moment. Sometimes you can see what app is messing up, but often it’s hard for even professionals to decode. The Keychain can help with password issues, but be warned you could end up resetting a ton of passwords if you mess up the keychain. It’s better to check it’s health in preferences and make a backup before touching the individual items listed.

I’ll try a PRAM reset after I clear Cache. That always seems to fix it.

Cache lives on your Mac to help speed things up. Sometimes an application is reading the cache instead of what you want it to do. Clearing this forces everything from the application down to the kernel (lowest-level) to stop relying on bad information found in the cache. Clearing your cache folder found in ~/Library/ and /Library/ can help ( The “~” means your home folder in which the hidden Library lives). The system folder also has it’s own version, but wiping any of  these out can cause problems (This is why it’s hidden). There are programs that can help out which you can read about in the next section.

Another classic recommendation is resetting the PRAM. Typically this does nothing more than make your Mac chime twice during boot, but even seasoned professionals try this one almost immediately out of habit. However, newer Macs don’t rely on this as heavily as before. You could lose important log files and make unintended changes by doing this action and clearing your NVRAM (non-volatile RAM). This only seems to help with booting issues and devices plugged into your post, so please learn more about this on Apple’s support site before jumping the gun: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204063

Automate it with the __________ application.

These days most home users and professionals have an endless amount of Mac apps available via the App Store or online, which is where the uneducated user can fubar everything with only a few clicks and a password. Anytime you give your password while installing or running an application you better either know what the app is or why it needs that password. Otherwise you could be willingly installing malware (bad stuff that can spy on you and/or infect your Mac). You may be thinking your saving yourself a trip to the Apple Store or to your local Apple Consultant or Apple Service Provider, but you could end up shooting yourself in the foot. That’s why when my tooth hurts I don’t get a hammer, screwdriver, and pliers to fix it myself, but instead I call my Dental Professional. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying some floss in this example couldn’t save me a trip, but I need to exhaust what I know to do before getting help. Below are some great free applications to help give you ideas, but use with caution and understand these programs can wreck everything and ruin your day if not used properly (like using a knife incorrectly):

  • Time Machine (built-in) can help create a backup for you beforehand. If you proceed in life without a backup, you will loose data at some point in life I promise. Alternatively you can pay us for a great inexpensive, easy solution called Backblaze.  Not bad to have two backups running just in case.
  • Disk Inventory X can give you a nice graph showing how much data you filled up on your Mac. Always good to keep at a minimum 10% of your total space free and available.
  • Onyx can help force maintenance and automate some of the items we discussed. It’s important to get the correct version and use a beta version with caution.
  • Hazel can help you manage your downloads folder if it’s out of control.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment your own suggestions or contact us for help.

Apple, Apple Store, and Macintosh are registered trademarks of Apple, Inc. All Rights Reserved.