Strait Macintosh User Group

Tuesday, September 20: Siri and New Stuff

For September, we will talk about things we don’t really know much about (yet), divided into two clumps.

Clump One: Siri.

Siri is Apple’s personal electronic assistant. If you don’t know what Siri is, ask your iPhone, iPad, Mac, etc., “What are you?” and Siri will say “I’m your personal assistant.” But like many of our personal assistants (Roomba for cleaning rooms, Google Maps or Apple Maps for navigation, Alfred the Butler for Batman), what you want Siri to do and what Siri will do or can do are not the same thing. And if you’ve ever thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a book about Siri?,” the good news is: yes, there is a book! https://www.takecontrolbooks.com/siri/

Take Control of Siri, 2nd ed.
Take Control of Siri, 2nd Ed. It is an electronic book; you can buy it, read it, and experiment with Siri all in the privacy of your own home, office, or anywhere else you can get an Internet connection.

Clump Two: Apple Watches, Phones, and Other Things

Apple introduced a bunch of security updates and new watches and phones in September. Apple is probably going to introduce more software updates and possibly Macs and iPads in October. We will talk about what has been released and speculate about what is coming next month.

Clump Three: Computer Literacy – Privacy and Security for Seniors

Yes, the meeting will be divided into only two clumps, but the third clump: we are planning on an in-person event on Saturday, October 1, on Computer Literacy – Privacy and Security for Seniors. This is scheduled to be held at Trinity United Methodist Church in Sequim. We will (briefly) talk about this at the meeting.

The September 20 meeting will be a virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working and conduct our usual interactive Q&A (Question and Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Sunday or Monday, September 18 or 19, to people on our mailing list. If you are not on the mailing list, send us a message via the Contact Page.



August 16, 2022: iCloud

This month’s topic will be iCloud, Apple’s suite of cloud-based services. “Cloud-based services” both correctly describes the services, and also clouds understanding of those services, since many people don’t understand what a computer “cloud” means.

As a quick summary: iCloud provides email (Apple Mail), contacts (Apple Contacts), calendar (Apple Calendar), photos (Apple Photos), file storage (iCloud Drive), notes (Apple Notes), reminders and lists (Apple Reminders), word processing (Apple Pages), spreadsheets (Apple Numbers), slides (Apple Keynote), news (Apple News), and location services (Find iPhone) across all your Macs, iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and the web, via almost any web browser on almost any device.

Apple iCloud as seen in a web browser.
Apple iCloud as seen in a web browser.

Assuming you have everything properly set up, these services allow you to view photos, send email, create word processing documents, and sync passwords from almost any Apple device to any other Apple device. You can also combine family member iCloud accounts into a Family Plan, expand the storage used by iCloud, and generally make life easier with iCloud services.

The August 16 meeting will be a virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working and conduct our usual interactive Q&A (Question and Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Sunday or Monday, August 14 or 15, to people on our mailing list. If you are not on the mailing list, send us a message via the Contact Page.

July 2022: General Cleanup

At last month’s meeting, several individuals suggested they wanted to talk about getting rid of clutter in their downloads folder, Desktop, and various other places. This is a splendid idea. Here we have a cluttered desktop:

A cluttered desktop. Really cluttered. Cluttered to the point of being unusable.
A cluttered desktop. Really cluttered. Cluttered to the point of being unusable.

Clutter on your computer has a number of bad side effects:

  • You can’t find anything.
  • You run out of disk space. This is bad. Very, very bad.
  • It slows your computer. Sometimes to the point of being either unstable or unusable.
  • You can’t do anything.
  • Did we mention you can’t find anything?

So: on July 19, we will talk about getting rid of clutter on your desktop. In your trash. In your downloads folder. In your Documents, Movie, Music, and Pictures folder. In your Applications folder. Web browser cache folders. Dust bunnies, everywhere.

As a point of information, the worst example of desktop clutter ever witnessed by the SMUG Vice President had 42,891 items (files, folders, aliases) on the desktop. It was a relatively modern Macintosh, and it took 11 minutes to boot and draw the desktop. It took the better part of two days to clean it up, and also free up around 350 gigabytes of disk space.

June 2022: How to get help

The Tuesday, June 21 meeting was all about getting help. Getting help is one of the main reasons people join computer user groups: they have a computer, or smartphone, or smart watch, and want to do more with it. Or they tried doing something, and ran into a dead end. Or they know how to do something, but have this nagging feeling there is a better way to do it.

Once upon a time, computers came with extensive printed documentation. Microsoft Office for Macintosh 4.2, released in 1994, came with an entire box of documentation that weighed more than some Macintosh computers. After years of use, many users still had shrink-wrapped copies of the thick, printed manuals. The users never read the manuals, never used the built-in documentation, and never learned much about the programs, either.

Boxed copy of Microsoft Office 4.2.1, offered for sale on an Australian auction site, almost 30 years after it was released.
Boxed copy of Microsoft Office 4.2.1, offered for sale on an Australian auction site, almost 30 years after it was released.

Today, users can get advice (good and bad) from blogs, YouTube, online help forums, consultants, and documentation built-in to the operating system and applications. There are a wealth of sources, but — how do you distinguish good help from bad?

We also talked about Apple’s keynote offered at WWDC22 (World Wide Developers Conference 2022). Apple introduced some new products, and gave previews of forthcoming versions of macOS, iOS, iPadOS, and watchOS.

The June 21 meeting was a virtual meeting using Zoom.

May 2022: Passwords and password managers

We didn’t have a meeting in April because someone wasn’t here. Where they were is something of a mystery, with the only clue being the photo posted down there ⬇︎ as the April 2022 entry.

We (we?) had been planning to talk about accessibility, but this will require more planning. Accessibility is one of those topics where most people think they don’t care about the subject.

“Accessibility? What do I care about accessibility?” they say, as they squint at the fine print through glasses, raise the volume on their iPhone, and accidentally drop their cane into a mud puddle.

But these same people don’t think of headlights, tail lights, horns, brakes, seatbelts, electric ignitions, heated seats, tinted windows, sun visors, electric windows, etc., as “accessibility” accommodations. We use accessibility accommodations all the time, but call them conveniences, or safety measures, or just common sense. We (we?) need to give this topic more time, and one of us (us?) will be too busy over the next month.

So: we talked about passwords and password managers. Most people (yes, most) have terrible passwords and terrible password management. Password managers are designed to do exactly what the name suggests: keep track of your passwords. Newer ones go beyond this basic task to also critique your passwords (“Sorry, but ‘password’ is a terrible password”), tell you when you’ve reused passwords (“You’ve used ‘Yevette’s Secret’ six times already!”), and tell you when passwords have been compromised (“Every password you’ve ever used on Yahoo has been hacked”).

Because we (we?) are cheap and don’t want to buy a password manager just for demonstration, or show off our own passwords (nope), most of the presentation will be on the password manager that comes with your Mac, Keychain Access, plus the password manager built-in to Safari.

The May 17 meeting was a virtual meeting using Zoom.

Meanwhile, this is your homework: study this cartoon carefully. It was posted on xkcd in August 20111,

From xkcd, August 2011

April 2022: No meeting

No meeting, but did you know that Emperor Constantine was declared Emperor in 306 CE while he was in England?

Emperor Constantine the Great, outside of York Minster. Photo by Lawrence Charters

March 15, 2022: SMUG Discussion Board

Our March program was an introduction to our new web-based discussion board. SMUG used to have a discussion board in the past, based on a technology called phpBB. For a variety of reasons, we can’t use the old forum site, and have moved to something that uses our WordPress site as both the website and the forum site, all in one space, using WP Discussion Board.

The discussion boards is limited to SMUG members and meeting attendees, and they must register (and be approved) to have access. This is not done out of a desire to stifle conversation but, rather, out of a desire to keep the forums from being filled with the kind of vile stuff you see in comments sections of newspapers and other web forums. We want civil discussions, focused on Macs, iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, Apple TVs, computer security and privacy, and similar topics.

The meeting showed how to register to use the forums, how to post things, and general tips for getting the most out of what the software has to offer. If you are a current SMUG member or recent meeting attendee, feel free to register right now (see the SMUG Discussion Boards link in the right sidebar). Do note that your registration needs to be approved to gain entry, and you might have to wait a day or two.

We also talked about Apple’s Peek Performance Special Event. Added: a blog entry about Apple Peek Performance Special Event.

The March 15 was a virtual meeting via Zoom.

February 15, 2022: Housecleaning!

Our poll of possible meeting topics had a clear winner: how to clean up your Mac.

This was popular a couple years ago, too,

Note that, for obvious reasons, you should be connecting to the meeting with a Mac, not a phone, and probably not an iPad. I will be using macOS Monterey for the demo.

The February 15 meeting was a virtual meeting using Zoom.

January 18, 2022: What and when and how to upgrade

Our January program was devoted to trying to remember it is 2022. On the one hand, we aren’t writing checks dated “2021” anymore because we don’t write checks. On the other hand, we still don’t know what year it is. Surely it can’t be 2022…

After asking for suggestions for programs, we got suggestions! Lots of them. The most common one was: what should you upgrade, and when, and how. Upgrading your devices is in many respects quite easy, but given how computers now can talk to your appliances, your phone, your TV, and many other things, it is somewhat daunting. On the other hand, not upgrading can invite evil-minded individuals to attack your computer, appliances, phone, TV, and much of your life.

Our topic, then: What and when and how to upgrade. This may take more than one (or even two) meetings, but it will also touch on several other topics offered for discussion.

The January 18 meeting was a virtual meeting via Zoom.

December 2021: No Program

At the November meeting, it was the collective wisdom that we skip a December meeting, as visions of sugarplum fairies were dancing in everyone’s head.

November 16, 2021: macOS 12 Monterey

Apple updated almost every operating system in September and October, sometimes multiple times. The Apple TV and Apple Watch got upgrades, the iPhone got upgrades, Macs got upgrades, iPads got upgrades — there were even some updates to Apple’s software for Windows. Many of the updates and upgrades (there is a difference between an “update” and an “upgrade”) were focused on privacy or security, but there were a number of feature additions, too. It was a busy month.

Possibly the most significant upgrade was macOS 12 Monterey. Named for the picturesque peninsula and bay of the same name, Monterey is the second version of macOS designed to run on Apple Silicon chips as well as Intel chips, and adds a number of privacy, security, and function changes. Many of these changes will be invisible to the user, as Monterey will work in the background to protect your identity and security without asking anything of you. Some, such as more advanced integration with the iPhone and iPad, are only notable if you have both a Mac and an iPad or iPhone. Still other features require a paid (as opposed to free) iCloud account.

Possibly the most important “feature,” however, is: Monterey runs on Apple Silicon as well as Intel. It will run on Macs dating back almost a decade (here is a list of Monterey-compatible machines) as well as the Apple Silicon M1-equipped MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, and M1 Pro and M1 Max-equipped MacBook Pros. It should be clear that Apple’s experiment with “Apple Silicon” is a success, and Monterey is both a confirmation of that success as well as a bridge between the Intel past and the Apple Silicon future.

The November 16 meeting was a virtual meeting via Zoom.

October 19, 2021: Yet more about email

As predicted, we ran out of time last month before we ran out of things to say about email. So we talked more about email!

It should not come as a shock that the focus will be on privacy, security, and sanity.

Also: on October 18, at 10 a.m. PT, Apple will have a “Special Event.” Details are scant, but the title of the event is “Unleashed.” It could be an announcement of new Macs. Or the release of the next version of macOS. Or possibly an announcement that Apple’s project to create robotic gerbils was a complete success, and they were unleashed into the wild, where they promptly reproduced and are busy terrifying cats throughout the San Francisco Bay area. Whatever it is, we will probably talk about it.

The October 19 meeting was a virtual meeting via Zoom.

September 21, 2021: We talk about email

Email is one of those subjects you can talk about all day, every day, and not cover everything. Starting with how to write it: is it e-mail, email, E-mail (patterned after V-mail of World War II fame), or electronic mail? The Associated Press Style Manual says “email,” which is lazy, but lazy often wins over formal.

Most of what we will discuss is: safety. How do you handle email in a safe, private fashion, with high confidence the person or entity you are engaged in is the person or entity you think they are? Much of this comes down to a few simple elements:

  • Limit your email volume. Don’t sign up for mailing lists, donation lists, sales lists, etc., unless you have a definite need. Most of us get way, way more email than we take the trouble to read.
  • Verify your correspondents. Take the trouble to find out if Harold’s Rocket Parts is really sent by your favorite supplier of rocket engines and fuselages, and not someone pretending to be Harold. This is obviously easier to do if you limit your total email volume.
  • Mark junk mail as junk. Don’t just delete it, mark it. The process of marking it as junk mail “teaches” your mail client and host to look for certain characteristics and filter them out of your inbox.
  • Delete old mail. Once you no longer need it, delete it. If you want to keep something as reference, don’t do it by leaving it in email.
  • Delete your trash. If you are throwing it away, periodically empty the trash.
  • Similarly, delete junk mail. If it is junk mail, don’t let it consume your hard disk space and mail server space.
  • Keep your address book up to date. Your mail client assumes that messages from entities in your address book are not sources of spam. Delete old email addresses and contacts that are no longer relevant.
  • Don’t open suspect messages. If you have doubts, don’t even open the message. Among other things, opening a message can verify that you are a valid target for spamming.
  • Don’t open any attachment unless you are absolutely sure it is legitimate.

Most of the time will be spent on that second item, verifying who is sending you mail. This is not always easy to do, and how to do it varies with how you read your mail.

Homework for the meeting

While we don’t generally assign homework for a meeting, please check out this page and think about watching the two videos before the meeting.

The September 21 meeting was a virtual meeting via Zoom.

August 17, 2021: macOS Monterey and other things

For August, we looked into the (near) future and talked about macOS 12 Monterey, Apple’s next operating system for the Macintosh. We may have a (brief) demo, though I may abandon that idea as it is Really Complicated to run a beta operating system and present it via Zoom at the same time. But if we don’t have a demo, we will at least have a presentation on what it can do that is new, different, and spiffy.

If time allows, we will also start a discussion of email. Email is not a simple topic, even though it is about as old as the Internet. We may, in fact, just discuss the differences between chat, Messages, SMS messages, and email. To some degree, these are all alike, in as much as they use written words and phrases (and symbols) to pass ideas back and forth, but they are not, and it is worth exploring the differences.

We could talk about email at every meeting from now through the end of the year, and if we do get beyond macOS 12 Monterey, it will be just a toe-dip.

Slides and additional information about the meeting can be found on the macOS Monterey and other things page.

July 20, 2021: Summer Questions and Answers

At the June meeting, there was no clear consensus on the July meeting topic. So that will be the topic: nothing in particular!

We will devote the meeting to Questions and Answers, only with an added twist: you have to submit the questions in advance. Send your questions (for the July meeting, not about your garden mole problem or where to get a burrito) to: straitmac.vicepresident@gmail.com.

There are some parameters:

  • The question should be something that can be answered in five minutes or less, and it should be relevant to Macs or iPhones or iPads or Apple TV or something of that order. It should also be of general interest to the average Mac or iPhone or iPad user.
    • Bad: “Which is the best Star Wars film?” (Wars have been fought over that question)
    • Good: “What Mac-based image rendering technology was used in Star Wars for special effects?” (Answer: RenderMan)
    • Bad: “How long does it take for light from the Sun to reach Pluto?” (About 5 1/2 hours, but not Mac relevant)
    • Good: “How far will an iPad on the International Space Station travel in 5 1/2 hours?” (94,500 miles)
  • The question should not require the meeting host to vanish:
    • Bad: “Can you demonstrate how to put a Mac in Target Disk Mode?” (Zoom crashes as host reboots computer)
    • Bad: “Can you demonstrate CarPlay?” (Host leaves computer running but drives off somewhere)

Some suggestions offered so far:

  • What are the Macs built-in networking tools? And what can you do with them?
  • Are some of these networking tools available for iPads or iPhones?
  • How can you see who really sent an email message? (Essential for tracking down spammers)
  • How do you tag files on the Mac? (And what are “tags?”)
  • What third party (i.e., non-Apple) diagnostic tools do you recommend?

Like most of our demonstrations, this will be highly visual, and using your Mac or iPad is much preferred to an iPhone or just audio. When you log into the Zoom meeting, please make sure you use your full name, as “Sue’s iPad” or “Jeff” just don’t quite offer the same friendly vibe.

The July 20 meeting will be a virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working, and conduct our usual interactive Q&A (Question & Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Sunday or Monday, July 18 or 19, to people on our mailing list. If you are not on the mailing list, send us a message via the Contact page.

June 15, 2021: Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, etc.

We will still be doing things virtually in June. Right this second, the Sequim Library has exceedingly limited access, on certain days, for certain purposes, and meetings are not possible. Please wear a mask, practice social distancing, get vaccinated, and help everybody return to “normal” as quickly as possible.

For June, we will be looking at Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Photos, Calendar, Maps, etc. Google has a massive collection of on-line applications, and while they aren’t as well integrated as Apple’s, they are more widely used, and better supported by non-Apple devices. Just as the iCloud applications can do things you simply can’t do with other devices, Google has some clever tricks that it does shockingly well.

We will also probably discuss whatever they talk about at the Apple World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC21) on Monday, June 7. As a guess, they will say something interesting.

Like most of our demonstrations, this will be highly visual, and using your Mac or iPad is much preferred to an iPhone or just audio. When you log into the Zoom meeting, please make sure you use your full name, as “Sue’s iPad” or “Jeff” just don’t quite offer the same friendly vibe.

The June 15 meeting will be a virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working, and conduct our usual Q&A (Question & Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Sunday or Monday, June 13 or 14, to people on our mailing list. Maybe we’ll remember to have a sign-in sheet for the meeting, too…

May 18, 2021: Files, Clipboard, Reminders, AirDrop, and other mysteries

For May, we will turn from the critical but somewhat opaque world of security to the critical but sometimes confusing world of moving things around and making useful lists of things. Since the very beginning, macOS has made it easy to “physically” move files around in the Finder (so named because you could find files). This was much harder to do on an iPad or iPhone, so Apple introduced Files, an app that allows you to click on files and move them around. But it definitely does not work the same way as Finder.

Similarly, from the very beginning, macOS has supported Cut, Copy, and Paste. But do these critical features work on an iPad or iPhone? Yes. But not necessarily the same way.

And if you want to move something from your iPhone to your Mac, do you just email it to yourself? Or is AirDrop a better way of moving files. Hint: yes, AirDrop is a better way, but not always.

Finally, Reminders. Reminders is a really useful way to remind you of things on your iPhone or iPad. But it is now also available in macOS. That’s splendid. But did you know you can use Reminders for shopping?

The topics were suggested by someone with an iPad, but Files, Clipboard, Reminders and AirDrop are now “cross-platform,” of value to Mac users, iPhone users, iPad users, and users of various combinations of these devices. In fact, having two or more of these devices makes life easier and more flexible.

The May 18 meeting will be a virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working, and conduct our usual Q&A (Question & Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Sunday, May 16, or possibly Monday, May 17, to people on our mailing list. Maybe we’ll remember to have a sign-in sheet for the meeting, too…

April 26, 2021: Security on the Mac – Beyond the basics

If at first you don’t succeed, reschedule

Ahem: the April 20 meeting was cut short just as the presentation was supposed to begin. We were finishing up the last question in the Q&A (Question & Answer) session when the Zoom session collapsed. A quick diagnostic survey showed that the lights and power were on, but the TV, telephone, and Internet were out. Sigh. Rumor has it that the participants in the Zoom meeting chatted amongst themselves for a bit, wondering when the Vice President would return with the presentation. The host wondered about that, too…

On the bright side, we have posted the Q&A session.

So we are rescheduling this meeting for Monday, April 26, 6:30-8 p.m. Same topics.

And what are those topics? We will probably entertain a few more questions about Apple’s Spring Loaded event where they introduced a bunch of new stuff, and then proceed with talking about beyond the ordinary macOS security.

When you install or update macOS, it is very secure, right out of the box. (Assuming operating systems come in boxes, which they no longer do.) But what if you want to go beyond the basics to make things even more secure?

This is a complicated subject, especially since “beyond the basics” implies that users have done the basics — which many have not. But we’ll do our best to cover things you can do to make things more secure and see how far we can get in 60 minutes. If you want to get a head start, go to Take Control books and buy — and download — Take Control of Securing Your Mac.

The April 26 meeting will be a virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working, and conduct our usual Q&A (Question & Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Sunday, April 25, to people on our mailing list.

Speaking of which: if you were purged from the mailing list and wish to be reinstated, go to the Contact menu item, and send us a note. We are friendly.

March 16. 2021: Preview and TextEdit – Mac superheroes

A year ago, the March 2020 meeting was canceled due to the pandemic, officially declared just a few days earlier. Since then, SMUG has boldly gone where it had never been before: into the virtual world of Zoom.

And — for March 2021, we continued on virtually, discussing two utility programs for the Mac that are often overlooked: Preview and TextEdit. Preview is positively ancient, dating back to 1989, and TextEdit is almost as old, dating back to 1996. Both programs have their own Wikipedia entries. Preview also has a Take Control book, which is recommended.

February 16, 2021: iMovie by a non-expert, for non-experts

For the second meeting of 2021, we will have a presentation on iMovie. We couldn’t find anyone willing to admit to being an iMovie expert, so a non-expert was volunteered. (Note: was volunteered by someone else.) The presentation will be a demo of how to make a video with iMovie, from start to finish, using tools everyone should have on their Mac: Keynote, Preview, QuickTime Player, and iMovie. Note: the presentation will be done on a Macintosh. You can also create iMovies right on your iPhone or iPad, but those won’t be covered.

The February 16 meeting will be a virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working, and conduct our usual Q&A (Question & Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Sunday or Monday, February 14 or 15, to people on our mailing list.

Speaking of the mailing list, anyone who hasn’t attended a meeting or paid dues since October 2018 will be purged from the mailing list in late February 2021. You can avoid being purged by going to the Contact page, https://strait-mac.org/contact/ and writing to tell us you don’t want to be purged.

January 19, 2021: macOS 11 Big Sur and Apple Silicon

We plan to open the year with what we would have closed the previous year: we will have a demonstration of macOS 11 Big Sur and of a computer running Apple Silicon, both at the same time (because we are lazy). Apple claims Big Sur is a “major advance” in macOS, and we believe them, as this is the first version of their operating system since 2000 that hasn’t been named some variation of 10 or X. Big Sur was bumped up to 11.†

October saw the release of the first three Macintosh computers (MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac mini) using Apple Silicon CPUs (central processing units). This is a massive change from Intel CPUs, used in Apple’s desktop, laptop and server computers since 2006. It isn’t the first time Apple has made a CPU change, as the company started with MOS Technology 6502 CPUs in 1976 before moving to Motorola processors, and then IBM processors, and then to Intel processors. Each evolutionary step has been challenged as a risky move, yet Apple remains the oldest and the most valuable personal computer company in history.

The January 19 meeting will be a virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working, and conduct our usual Q&A (Question & Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Sunday or Monday, January 17 or 18, to people on our mailing list.

We will also talk about (if someone remembers) Apple’s Exposure Notifications on iPhones, recently activated in Washington State.

† To the great joy and happiness of Spinal Tap fans everywhere. Yes, this description was cut and pasted from December, with modest changes.

Canceled: December 15: macOS 11 Big Sur and Apple Silicon

The December 15 meeting was canceled literally at the last couple of hours (“literally at the last minute plus 120 other minutes”). Stay tuned for 2021.

November 17, 2020: Apple Watch and Health

Health is a world-wide obsession in 2020, and the Apple Watch is all about health. Yes, it can tell time, act as a walkie-talkie, and (in some models) phone, and do countless other things, but the most popular non-time function is: health. You can use the Apple Watch to not only time your exercise (and a wide variety of exercises, too), but also, in many cases, use it to draw a map of your activities. It can help you wash your hands, remind you to take breaks, assist in meditation, and track your sleep. No, it can’t cure COVID-19, but it can help you stay healthier and, as a result, more capable of withstanding the disease.

The November 17 meeting will be all about the Apple Watch — and health. Bring your questions, bring your discoveries, and — if you are a skeptic — bring an open mind.

We will also talk about whatever it is that Apple will announce at their November 10 special event, One More Thing…

This will be another virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working, and conduct our usual Q&A (Question & Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Monday, November 16.

October 20, 2020: Word Processing

Our meeting on Tuesday, October 20, will be about word processing. This is a vast subject that, in one way or another, encompasses the entire history of microcomputers. Lawrence Charters, Strait-Mac Vice President, purchased his first microcomputer to turn it into a word processor. No word processing programs existed, so he wrote his own. (It was terrible, but he had a word processor!) We will probably also cover, at least briefly, whatever Apple brings up at their Special Event on October 13.

This will be another virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working, and conduct our usual Q&A (Question & Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Monday, October 19.

Bring your questions! Also, bring your answers!

September 15, 2020: Backups, Time Machines, and Archives

Our meeting on Tuesday, September 15, will be about Time Machine, Backups, and Archives. The original suggestion was just about Time Machine, but the other topics are intimately related. We will probably also cover, at least briefly, whatever Apple brings up at their Special Event earlier in the day.

This will be another virtual meeting via Zoom. The meeting will start at 7 p.m., but we will activate Zoom at 6:30 p.m. in order to get video and sound working, and conduct our usual Q&A (Question & Answer) session. The Zoom meeting invitation will be sent out Monday, September 14.

Note: this will not be just a boring monologue about backups. There will be props! Audio-video demonstrations! Questions! Answers!

August 18, 2020: Basic digital photography, part 1

August will see a return to a topic we touched on in June: digital photography. In June, we started with the most basic question: what the heck do you do with all those digital photos pouring in from Apple Mail, Messages, Gmail, the web, and who knows where else? But while organizing photos (and then using the organization to find and use the photos) is a critical skill, it isn’t the only critical skill you might need. Also of use: knowing how to take a photo.

There are lots of ways to take digital photos. In fact, you can take photos with a traditional film camera, then scan them and turn them into digital photos — but that’s a lot of work. We’ll skip that, and stick with the easy methods: using an iPhone, iPad, or (shocking idea) a digital camera to take a photo.

At least, it seems easy. Until it isn’t.


July 21, 2020: WWDC

Apple’s June 22 World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) was the main topic of the SMUG meeting in July. We discussed Apple’s forthcoming releases of new iPhone, iPad, and macOS operating systems, as well as their surprise announcement that all Macs are going to be moving to new CPUs, designed and built by Apple. It was a lively meeting.


June 16, 2020: Basic digital photography, part 0

(This event took place on June 16, as scheduled.)

More photographs are taken with iPhones than with any other camera in history. In fact, more photographs are taken with iPhones each day than were taken by all cameras, everywhere, between the first photograph in 1826 and the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. Of the 7.5 billion people on earth at the moment, 3.5 billion of them have a smartphone, and the most widely used feature on a smartphone is: the camera.

Which leads to a very obvious question: what do you do with the 1.5 trillion (1,500,000,000,000) photos that will be taken in 2020?

In Part Zero of a zillion part possible series, we will look at photo storage and organization. We know you’ve taken selfies and pictures of your dinner and pictures of a cat (yours or someone else’s) and things you want to buy at the grocery store or clothing store, or a funny sign or what you thought was a coyote but was actually a paper sack. What do you do with all those photos?

Previous meetings

May 19, 2020: Staying Together Using Macs, iPhones and iPads in a Time of Social Distancing

March 2020: meeting canceled due to pandemic outbreak.

January 2020: Setting up iCloud services

November 2019: Macintosh file management

October 2019: Securing macOS Catalina

September 2019: Preview of macOS Catalina

August 2019: crickets.

July 2019: Questions and Answers

June 2019: Web browsers, continued

April 2019: Web browsers

December 2018: Troubleshooting your Mac

In the meantime, here are some resources on COVID-19:


Strait Macintosh User Group (SMUG) is open to owners and users of Macintosh, iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod), HomePod, Apple TV, Apple Watch [etc.] devices. Our goal is to spread computer literacy and technical savviness to residents of the Olympic Peninsula.

Located in the upper left-hand corner of the United States, the Olympic Peninsula is rich in natural beauty but isolated from the services commonly found in metropolitan areas. There are no computer stores, no electronics stores, no television stations, and limited broadband connectivity. On the other hand, we do have elk, deer, a floating bridge, volcanoes (though not that close), and a fair number of computer wizards willing to teach, and learn.

Meetings are (generally) at 7 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month, at the Library in Sequim, Washington. [Map] Since the library is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual meetings are being held at the same time and date. Check here before meetings for the latest information.

To keep up with SMUG, enter your email address in the box to the right below Follow Strait Macintosh User Group, and you will be notified of new posts via email.

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