July 2019: Questions and Answers

Questions were the topic of the evening for the July 16, 2019, Strait Macintosh User Group meeting. The meeting was held at the Sequim Library, 630 N. Sequim Ave., Sequim, WA. Notes by Secretary Kathleen Charters.

Business meeting

The meeting started off with President Sabrina Davis answering questions about recent history, covering such topics as “What happened to our treasury?” [Some former members donated it to Shipley Center, without participation by the current SMUG members or officers, and without holding a meeting.] “What happened to our equipment?”[Donated to Shipley.] and “What do we want to do going forward?”

Going forward, the group decided to hold meetings more or less monthly to get back on track, with the next meeting Tuesday, September 17, at 7 p.m. at the Sequim Public Library. Yes, this means “monthly” doesn’t include August, due to schedule conflicts.

Some members expressed concerns about meeting during the winter months, when it gets dark early and the weather might be unpleasant. This will be discussed some more, as the group is not committed to meeting Tuesday evenings; there are other perfectly good days of the week, and we could meet during daylight hours. We’ll discuss this again in September.

Funds were also an issue. There have been complaints that the new website has advertisements (as some said, “obnoxious ads”) which is a consequence of the free hosting available on WordPress.com. Fixing this, and coming up with a SMUG-specific domain name, would cost money. If we rented space somewhere, that would also cost money; the Library is an excellent location, but the meeting space is quite small (technically, we are supposed to be using only half the space we’ve occupied at the last two meetings).

It was moved, and passed, that dues be set at $24 per year. Treasurer Annalis Schutzmann collected dues from most of those in attendance. [Subsequently, Annalis and Secretary Kathleen Charters set up a SMUG bank account.]

Open Question and Answer (Q&A) session

There were two rules:

  1. The questions had to be about Apple products (hardware or software), and
  2. The questions and responses should take no more than three to four minutes to answer.

Anything more complex will have to be deferred.

Vice President Lawrence Charters conducted the Q&A session.

My Laptop can’t download mojave

Just from looking at the laptop from across the room, it is clear the MacBook Pro has an optical disc drive, which means it is fairly old, as Apple hasn’t shipped a laptop with an optical drive since 2012. As for why Mojave is not supported: Mojave (macOS 10.14) is a 64-bit operating system, and older Macs do not have CPUs (the main “computer”) capable of supporting 64-bit operations. Mojave also uses the video card as if it was another CPU, speeding up not only video but file compression, among other things, and older video cards do not support such operations. Since virtually all Macs, laptop and desktop, have a single circuit board holding the CPU, the video card, and all the supporting chips and circuitry, it isn’t economically or technologically feasible to replace the pieces; a newer machine is the only option.

Incidentally, a “newer” machine does not necessarily mean “brand new.” Apple sells refurbished machines from their websites (with new warranties).

As for why a 64-bit operating system is important: not only are these faster (allowing you to get more speed and efficiency on supported hardware), but they are also much more secure. This is true not only for Macs; iPhones and iPads have been 64-bit-only for several years, and Microsoft is now strongly pushing Windows 10 users to use 64-bit versions of Windows 10. In the Windows world, this has created massive problems, as literally a billion Windows machines are running insecure versions of Windows.

is it wise to beta-test new Mac OS?

Running beta (pre-release) versions of operating systems on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac is only a good idea if a) you have another perfectly useful machine to do important work and b) you are prepared to erase everything on the machine you use for beta-testing. And “erase” means everything: all data, all applications, and the operating system itself. Beta versions of operating systems are intended to test things to see if they break, and, if they do, how they break; they are not designed for you to test drive.

Note, too, that it takes time to download beta versions of operating systems, time to install the software, and sometimes time to reinstall the software, as one of the things being tested is the installer itself. Also, Apple recommends erasing all beta versions of an operating system (which requires erasing the entire drive) before installing the release version. If you do decide to try the beta versions of an operating system, make sure you have an iCloud account with enough room on it to hold everything on your machine — all data, and all applications — as it gives you some chance to recover in case something goes horribly wrong. “Going horribly wrong” is the whole purpose of beta testing.

what about running another operating system from another drive?

You should never try and have two different operating systems installed on the same machine, even if they are on different drives, as this can corrupt the operating systems and your data. When a Mac boots, it scans all connected drives and based on what it finds, it makes changes in memory to accommodate what it thinks is appropriate for the operating system — and these changes could cause damage when you switch back and forth between the two operating systems. It may make changes to whatever drive is not the boot drive — changes in initial boot parameters, changes in which drive is booted first, changes in preferences for applications, etc. — and those changes can corrupt your data, your applications, and either or both operating systems.

After upgrading to high sierra, not able to access files

High Sierra (macOS 10.13) is much more strict about how applications perform, and if an application does things in an insecure fashion, it simply won’t allow the application to launch. High Sierra also changes the file system on the internal drive (on machines with solid-state drives), which also makes all previous disk analysis and disk management utilities obsolete. Most of the changes in High Sierra are focused on speed, efficiency, and particularly security. If your application doesn’t run anymore, you need to upgrade to a later, supported, more secure version.

I’m getting a warning my application is not optimized for operating system

I’ve run this: the scanner software for my Fujitsu scanner is flagged by my Mac as “[This app] is not optimized for your Mac and needs to be updated.” It is essentially a warning that it is a 32-bit application and absolutely will not run under macOS Catalina 10.15, the next version of the Mac operating system. You need to either get the vendor to update the software, or buy a new version, or find a replacement.

[Fortunately, Fujitsu did come out with a free update the next day.]

Is it important to upgrade? Are Macs really vulnerable?

Yes, you should upgrade, and yes, Macs are vulnerable. The biggest reason they are vulnerable: the Mac user “invites” malware onto their machine.

In the past, the largest source of malware (malignant software) on the Mac was Adobe Flash. Adobe has abandoned Flash (in 2017), and because it is no longer supported, it continues to be a problem. Today the most common vulnerability comes through PDFs, (another Adobe product). A PDF document is essentially a program and hackers “tag” PDF documents with programs that can compromise your Mac.

Apple operating system upgrades are free; the alternative is to never connect a device without upgrades to the Internet.

Is there something we can use to protect ourselves?

Generally don’t recommend installing anti-virus software unless you are a teacher, a lawyer, or someone else who gets a constant stream of documents from strangers. The anti-virus packages for Macs are quite good, but generally, the only things they find are Windows viruses, which your Mac ignores.

The best defense is to install the operating system and application updates as they become available. Among other things, this ensures that Gatekeeper is updated. Gatekeeper is Apple’s background technology that automatically (if you keep the operating system updated) downloads profiles of malware and malicious websites. If you try and visit a suspicious website with Safari, Safari will pop up a warning telling you to go away. If you attempt to download a malicious software package, Gatekeeper will put up a warning.

Does gatekeeper only work with Safari?

Yes, Gatekeeper only works with Safari. Chrome, however, has similar technology, and Chrome tests for updates every time you launch it. Speaking of browsers, Microsoft has released a beta version of Microsoft Edge, their browser. Like Chrome, the new Microsoft Edge is based on Chromium, which is Google’s browser technology. Chromium, in turn, was originally based on WebKit, which is Apple’s technology.

If you are interested in the Microsoft Edge beta for the Mac, visit: https://www.microsoftedgeinsider.com/en-us/ Note: this is a beta, so don’t use it for anything critical.

Should I use MacKeeper?

MacKeeper is not something you should have on your Mac. It is heavily advertised, and many people have installed it accidentally. If you have it, get rid of it. MacKeeper does not tell you how to uninstall it; it is complicated and annoying, and once installed, it slows your machine down and constantly prompts you to upgrade to a paid version. Many people have to pay a consultant to remove it. Here are two different sets of instructions for removing it. Pick one or the other, and don’t skip any steps:

https://www.lifewire.com/remove-mackeeper-4150011

https://www.macworld.com/article/2861435/how-to-uninstall-mackeeper-from-your-mac.html

Free software training

The Sequim Library, as part of NOLS (North Olympic Library System), has as part of its service free access to Lynda.com. Lynda.com has some of the best online software courses on how to do everything from using Microsoft Word to how to write code in PHP for building a website. Ask the library for more information; normally, Lynda.com courses are $60 or more apiece.

Have had problems uploading movies from iPhone 5s

The iPhone takes great movies — but movies are much larger than photos. To upload them, you have to spend a lot of time waiting for them to upload. If you are trying to sync them to iCloud, it can also take a long time. You also have to make sure you have enough space in iCloud to hold them.

To check your available space on the iPhone, go to Settings > General > About, and scroll down to Capacity. Just below that is Available, which displays the available space left on the phone.

To check your iCloud space, go to Settings, and right at the top, press on your name, which opens up the Apple ID and iCloud settings. Scroll down to iCloud, press on the link, and you will see the storage capacity at the top. If you only have the free 5 GB account, and it is all in use, you won’t be able to sync video to iCloud.

When uploading video or syncing to iCloud, it is best to do this from home, using your home Wi-Fi, and the iPhone plugged into power. If you try to do this over a cellular connection, you will use up bandwidth in a hurry, and the sync process is slower. Or sometimes not even available as an option.

Speaking of cloud storage, everyone should consider getting a Google Photos account. You can save “unlimited” photos at high resolution, and up to 15 GB of data, for free. Not as well integrated as iCloud, but there is no reason not to sync to both iCloud and Google Photos.

Do you use offsite storage?

There are lots of “cloud backup” vendors. The one Lawrence uses is Backblaze, https://www.backblaze.com

BackBlaze runs a daemon (a Unix background process) that scans for new files and uploads them automatically; Lawrence has 10.5 TB in BackBlaze. It is perfect for disaster planning, protecting your data in case of a local power outage, or theft, or fire, or some other kind of loss.

Since Backblaze is in the cloud, it is not subject to any household or office or even any regional disaster; you can access the backup files from anywhere on the planet that has Internet access. You can restore files from anywhere, even onto a brand-new machine. If you have a lot of data [Lawrence has a lot of data], you can pay Backblaze a deposit and they will ship a hard drive (or multiple hard drives) to you for restoring files to your machine

why is cloud backup a good idea?

iCloud, and other “true” cloud services (Amazon, Google, Microsoft Azure, etc.) replicates data across millions of drives. If one hard drive fails, it automatically re-creates the data on another drive. The big cloud services are also replicated between regions. You can back up your Mac from your home in Sequim, and the cloud service will make copies of the data in other regions, so not even a regional outage will lose data.

While Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google don’t publish any figures on how their infrastructures are built, a 2016 report estimated that Google has 2.5 million servers worldwide. That is a lot of redundancy. Other estimates put the figure at closer to 10 million.

Encryption is another benefit. Apple iCloud is encrypted by default, as is Google Drive (which includes Google Photos). The encryption ensures that you are the only one with access to your data, even in the cloud. In fact, since most people don’t encrypt their laptop or desktop machines, your data may be more secure in the cloud than at home.

Next meeting

The next meeting will be Tuesday, September 17, 2019, at 7 p.m. at the Sequim Library. The topic: A preview of what is coming with macOS Catalina, and if time, information on the new iOS 13 and iPadOS.

One thought on “July 2019: Questions and Answers

  1. Kathleen, Thank you SO much for your eel lent notes from the Q&A. (I was unable to attend because of short notice out of town visitors, so I’m especially grateful.) Looking forward to the next meeting on Sept 17th! Best to you and the team, Maggie

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

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