Drive-in WiFi hotspot finder

Washington State has been working on improving access to the Internet, in part as an incentive to growing the local economy and, more recently, as a means of helping residents work, shop, and attend school remotely during the pandemic. One key initiative is adding more public WiFi hotspots.

The state now has an interactive map for finding WiFi hotspots:

Clallam public WiFi hotspots, from the Washington State interactive hotspot location finder.

On the one hand, Clallam County, in particular, is not heavily covered by WiFi hotspots. On the other, it has more than one might expect, given that the county is decidedly not urban.

Sorry, no WiFi hotspots at Lake Crescent or Hurricane Ridge or Dungeness Spit. The eagles and elk and seagulls need to do more lobbying.

Apple special event: speed

Apple sent out an invitation today to a special event on October 13, 2020, 10 a.m. Pacific Time.

This is the sum total of what they are revealing at this time:

Possibilities:

  • Apple will announce its long-awaited hovercar.
  • Apple will announce the launch of its own space venture, competing with Space X, and Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic.
  • Apple will announce its surprise entry into competitive bicycle racing.
  • Apple will announce its own gigabit-per-second Internet service.
  • Apple will announce a really fast computer using Apple Silicon.
  • Apple will announce it has purchased the rights to a 1994 film featuring Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, and Dennis Hopper.
  • Apple will do something else.

You should be able to watch the event on any Internet-connected Apple device, but if you have an Apple TV, I highly recommend watching it on your big screen TV.

July 2020: WWDC 2020

Notes by Kathleen Charters

In July, we had a quick review of Apple’s Keynote address at WWDC 2020 (World Wide Developer Conference 2020). But first,

Question and Answer (Q&A) session

Will you demonstrate the Big Sur developer release?

Non-disclosure agreements govern what can be said, and shown; can only repeat what Apple has said in public (with some speculation on things not yet known.)

Should I install the public beta test of Big Sur?

Best Practice: Use a Mac not used for anything important; an expendable machine should be used for Beta testing so testing will not disrupt anything; debugging code slows things down, some of the code functionality is not complete yet. Sometimes, you may have to erase a beta test machine and start over. If you aren’t willing to erase your computer, don’t install the beta test.

What about beta test of iOS?

Public Beta OS is available on the Apple site for each device (Mac, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, Apple TV). Only install beta software on a device that you can afford not to use. Keep in mind that you must complete a beta test agreement in order to be a tester, and submit bug reports to Apple.

When will these new operating systems be out?

Apple didn’t say. Traditionally, new releases come out in September-October. COVID-19 has limited developer development and interactions. New OS features may be incompatible with existing virtual conference software, for example; other developers will see a tester disappear and not know what it was that caused the crash. Not clear at all if Apple will be able to complete development, testing and certification of all platforms in time for usual fall rollout.

I did not receive a meeting announcement.

Announcements for the meeting were sent out via E-mail; if you did not receive an email and have signed up, please send an e-mail to Lawrence. Also, check your spam folder, as mail systems give a higher “spam” score for mass messages sent with addresses listed as BCC (blind carbon copies). Also also, we may not have your correct email address, as we’ve had trouble reading some things written on the sign-in sheets. Kris Eklund also posts announcements on Next Door, https://nextdoor.com/.

My Apple Watch is missing some apps after an operating system upgrade.

The Apple Watch needs memory on the computer to do an upgrade. If there isn’t enough memory to complete an upgrade properly, the operating system will delete apps from the watch. This is not really a problem, since the apps are still on your phone. Just use the Watch app on your phone to add the apps back after the OS upgrade.

When looking at Apple Mail vs Gmail on iPad or iPhone, how do I get a list of contacts?

Google is a Web services company and Gmail is Web-based, so open Gmail from a web browser on your desktop computer. In the upper right-hand corner, there is an icon of a cluster of squares, indicating other applications. Click on it, and you wil see one is for Contacts. Google’s Contacts service is shared among all Google services, including Google Docs. Google has online documentation on how to export Apple contacts and import them into Google Contacts. You can also use Apple Mail to view Gmail, in which case Apple Mail will use Apple Contacts for Gmail. On my Mac, I prefer to use Kiwi for reading Gmail, as it allows me to open and view multiple Gmail accounts at once. Kiwi is on the Apple Mac App Store.

Meeting Begins

President Sabrina Davis welcomed everyone to the meeting. Sabrina was overseas for several months, leaving before the pandemic and then getting caught up in mandatory quarantine measures.

SMUG Treasurer Annalis Schutzmann was asked: how do members pay dues when we do not meet in person? You can mail checks to Annalis; use the Contact form on the website, https://strait-mac.org/contact/ — to write to her for the mailing address.

Annalis is working with Lawrence on an online database with the dates of when dues were paid. Lawrence is going to add some logic to flag when dues should be renewed; the treasurer will then send an e-mail to tell where to send checks to join or renew.

SMUG did spend money on a Zoom subscription for the virtual meetings so we can host meetings longer than 40 minutes. Members can attend for free no matter how long the meeting lasts; you do not need to pay for an individual subscription. Lawrence was critical of Zoom’s privacy and security, but Zoom does a good job with controls for running a meeting. Zoom can also be used for troubleshooting by sharing the desktop and for teaching people how to use programs, such as how to use Zoom.

We did consider FaceTime, but while it has superb privacy and security controls, it just isn’t suited for groups of more than three or four at once.

SMUG treasury balance as of last meeting was $752; this meeting the balance was $651.08 after paying for a Zoom subscription.

SMUG elections will will be in October, with all offices open for nominations: President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer.

SMUG is now properly listed on the Apple User Group Resources website, https://appleusergroupresources.com/find-a-group/.

Presentation: World Wide Developer Conference 2020 (WWDC 2020)

This year, you can attend the World Wide Developers Conference for free. The Keynote can be streamed from Apple’s site, and is also available as an Apple TV application. It is two hours long, and is chiefly aimed at software developers. The SMUG presentation will touch on several topics, and add some opinions. You can download the meeting slides from here:

The presentation (sorta) follows the slides.

Apple Safari is the most popular web browser in the world because it runs on iPhones, iPads, and Macs. Until recently, the underlying technology for Safari, WebKit, was also the foundation for Google’s Chrome browser.

Safari – Apple is planning some fundamental changes to Safari’s security and privacy capabilities. You can download the beta now; you don’t need to wait until Big Sur is released.

Apple Silicon – Apple is planning to finish converting all their devices from Intel and other processors to Apple processors. Apple has been using Intel processor chips for 20 years, but the architecture has run into performance bottlenecks that limit improved effectiveness. Also, last year some researchers found a (complex, hard to trigger) zero-day security flaw in all Intel processor chips — all of them — that allow machines using these processors to be compromised.

iPhones, iPads, Apple TV, and Apple Watch already run on Apple Silicon processors, and Apple Silicon Processors are in some recent iMacs and MacBooks, used as security processors for encryption and filtering things coming in from the outside. That means Apple has successfully “tested” Apple Silicon in close to two billion devices; the Mac lineup is the only thing left that is still Intel-based.

Aside from security and performance, Apple can also customize Apple Silicon processors to more closely meet their needs. For example, adding video and sound processors, and video memory to the Apple Silicon processor eliminates the need for separate chips and plumbing to do these functions.

As demonstrated by the iPhone and iPad, Apple can also control power use and heat better through their custom processors. This should result in longer battery life, and less need for noisy fans for cooling.

Apple Silicon is considered a System on a Chip (SoC) processor, allowing support for 64-bit operations, graphics acceleration, WiFi, BlueTooth, control of heat, management of battery consumption, and increase speed, all on one chip.

Also in the new operating systems: new emoji, 171 of them. Personally looking forward to the dodo and ninja icons. The bubble tea icon, which looks to me more like a chocolate milkshake, will also be handy.

macOS 11 Big Sur: this will be a big change. As a clue: this is Apple’s first operating system in 20 years that isn’t named macOS 10.something.

Control Center: Control panel similar to iPad/iPhone for most common changes people make.

macOS 11 Dock – icons in Dock will look the same as in Finder, and on iOS; more consistent is better for accessibility.

Notification Center – will group items, will add control of the most useful to Control Center, and use same icons on macOS and iOS.

Safari startup: the Safari start page will have the sites you most often visit, plus any customizations. You can also customize the background image used by Safari.

Sarai tabs: hover over a tab and get a preview of the page without opening the page.

One-button web privacy report – see who is tracking you on a given site, with the ability to turn off one or all trackers so businesses cannot track you.

Safari translation – not as extensive as Google, but easy to use for selected languages. The translation takes place on your machine; if additional help is required, an anonymous packet is sent off so Apple does not know who requested the information (Google, in contrast, tracks translation requests).

Messages – able to customize Memoji (previously limited just to iOS); group member Memoji make it easier to know who is in a group conversation.

macOS Big Sur: Will support Apple Silicon-based Macs and Intel-based Macs; will run on both. Developers can translate iOS apps to the Mac; this will be a huge gain for game players on the Mac as they can move their games to the desktop with just a recompiling, and converting touch gestures to mouse gestures.

Privacy: Every app, on every Apple app store (Mac, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, Apple TV) will have a new privacy policy. You can check to see if developer uses your location pr other information in one easy to read page.

iPhone – iOS Library – if you select it, iOS will automatically group your apps into “Libraries” of similar apps such as Games, Productivity, Navigation, etc. No longer will you have to swipe through pages of stuff to find what you want.

Picture in Picture (PiP) – will allow you to continue to be in a conversation (e.g., FaceTime) and can do other things, or watch a video and write about it.

Groups in Messages – you can set up groups and easily see who is in the group by viewing their Memoji.

Incoming call – you can see who is calling and decide what you want to do about it.

The Home app, previously available only on iPhone and iPad, is coming to the Mac.

New Home screen for HomePod allows you to see what a specific device is doing and control it. The current Home screen is utterly useless…

Apple Translation is coming to iPhone and iPad, in addition to Mac.

Watch OS7 – you will be able to track and check on sleep health; sleep cycle based on personal sleep goal; tracks heart rate and .

Automatic hand washing to make sure wash hands for long enough, complete with an animation and countdown, and feedback on whether you spend adequate time washing hands; a boon for COVID-19 prevention.

These are just a small subset of the topics covered in just the keynote. A huge amount of information was provided – this covers the most useful changes for the SMUG population.

Questions:

Will these new operating systems support my device?

If you have a device with the most current OS, you should be able to run the new one, if no incompatibilities are found during beta testing.

Are older operating systems less secure?

Apple provided Security updates to everything last week going back to High Sierra; you are encouraged to install the updates; protect yourself from being hacked, do not get too far behind – invest in a new machine if cannot run Catalina.

When a new OS comes out, Apple no longer offers the old one so get up to date now.

But how do I handle my 32-bit apps?

Every Apple device will be 64-bit only; they will not run 32-bit software going forward. If you positively can’t live without a 32-bit app, find an older Mac or iPhone or iPad and use it just to run the 32-bit apps; run new apps on current OS.

Moving from Catalina to Big Sur will be a huge step – wait a week or two before downloading it when it comes out; will be released in fall (around October).

You really do what a machine capable of running Catalina right now. If you want a reliable source for older machines (with guarantees ranging from 90 days to 1 year); OWC sells older machines, and Apple sells refurbished older machines.

Apple store in University Village – how are they operating under COVID-19 rules?

Don’t know. Apple stores in Tacoma and West Seattle are the closest, but haven’t been across the Sound in months.

Costco for Apple products – does not always have the best price, only have one version and it may not be the version you want/need; may not be able to upgrade it; recommend at least 16GB memory, check on size of storage – recommend at least 500 GB or more; new machines have USB-C connections so can attach external storage; do cost comparison. Caution: Best Buy clerks and Costco clerks may not be as knowledgeable you might want them to be. When it comes to storage, keep in mind that movies and photos take up a lot of space, messages with images attached can take up a lot of space. Average mac person keeps a machine 7 years – think about the future for memory and storage.

Will the new machines require more memory?

New Macs with RISC chips – does not require more memory (outdated concept – was an issue early on but no longer a limiting factor); video audio photos use memory.

Chrome browser wants 8-10 GB memory for caching pages so runs faster, this takes memory.

Should I wait for the new computers? My current one is old.

If in need of a computer now – buy one, it will take time to have Apple Silicon Macs designed, built, and distributed, in past it took 2 years to transition to new chips.

I’m hesitant to go to Catalina – need to upgrade 32-bit to 64-bit before upgrade OS.

If you are already running in 64-bit, the app will run on Catalina; currently there is no way to safely run 32-bit programs; MS Office 2011 32 bit will not run under Catalina. Numbers is free if Excel no longer runs; if purchase MS Office 365 subscription can put it on up to 5 devices; Office Home is $69.95 – look around for best deal, comes with 1 TB cloud storage. And KeyNote is better than PowerPoint.

Will the new watchOS work on older watches?

Apple only talked about the new operating systems, and not hardware. Unless some feature uses something not on your watch, if your current watch is running the latest watchOS, it will probably work with watchOS 7.

Random comments:

Developers can purchase MacMini for development platform. The Mac mini comes with an Apple Silicon CPU, rather than an Intel CPU.

Movie on Apple TV+: Greyhound is a World War II movie with Tom Hanks; very highly recommended.

Expect first Apple machine with Apple Silicon to be a laptop since a laptop would be an obvious beneficiary from improved battery life and heat management.

Apple demonstrated some very impressive text recognition capability, which should serve as a preview for what the new iPadOS offers.

LIDAR facial recognition for iPad and iPhone may be next.

Next month

Next month: digital photography: taking photos

Future topic: Time Machine Back-ups.

World Backup Day

March 31 is World Backup Day. While not an officially recognized holiday or commemoration, the date should serve as a reminder that you would be very, very unhappy if your Macintosh crashed, or you lost your iPhone or iPad.

While there are lots of statistics on the importance of backing up your data, here are some of the more sobering:

  • 20% of computer users have never backed up their data.
  • 10% of smartphone users have had their phone stolen.
  • Almost 100% of computer and smartphone users have been targeted by malware designed to either steal your data or corrupt it.

Fortunately, it is very easy to backup a Macintosh. Time Machine, the backup software included with every version of macOS since MacOS 10.6, requires nothing more than a spare disk, attached to your machine via FireWire, Thunderbolt, or USB 3.0. (USB 2.0 works, too, just more slowly.) You can get an external drive, inexpensively, from Other World Computing, Office Depot, Best Buy, Amazon, or even Apple’s website.

If you’ve never used Time Machine, Apple has clear instructions if you need help: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201250

Backing up your iPhone, iPad, or (if you still have one) iPod is possibly even easier, and again, Apple has clear instructions: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203977

Keep in mind that your iPhone probably has your most complete list of names, addresses and phone numbers of your relatives, friends, coworkers, hair dressers and barbers, and other important contacts. Your iPhone probably has thousands of photos on it, many of them located nowhere else. Backing up all of this information to your Mac or to the cloud is — easy.

Similarly, your Macintosh probably has financial records (including income tax records), movies, photos, songs, your unfinished novel, and tens of thousands of other documents that you’d find very depressing if they disappeared.

While you are sheltering in place and observing social distancing, shelter your data: back up your iPhone, iPad, and Macintosh.

Working from home temporarily

Jay Inslee, Governor of the State of Washington, today issued an emergency proclamation mandating an immediate two-week shutdown of all bars, restaurants, entertainment and recreation facilities. Many businesses that have not shut down have told employees to work from home.

But what is involved in “working from home?” Take Control Books has an answer: today they issued a new book, Take Control of Working from Home Temporarily, by Glenn Fleishman. Best of all, it is free.

Even if you are retired, or a student, you should find this book of value. There are tips on the care and feeding of your computer, furniture you should use, the merits of an external monitor (if you have a laptop), and many other nice tips.

You might want to check out their other books, too. They are not free, but you can download them electronically; no need to leave home.

Books about Macs Black Friday sale

In recent meetings, we’ve mentioned Take Control Books. Originally done as an offshoot of one of the first Macintosh mailing lists (established in 1984), Take Control Books are electronic books dealing with mostly Mac-centric topics, such as macOS, Photos, Pages, etc.

Take Control Books is having a “Black Friday” sale on some of their most important books, including several mentioned in recent meetings. While I haven’t read most of these, I do have quite a few of their books, and highly recommend them. They cover critical Mac topics quite well.

Here is the announcement of their sale, with links:

✩✩✩

The sale is on! From now through next Monday, December 2, we’re having a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale—50% off on our most recent releases. No coupon or special links are required.

Here are the books that are on sale:

Connect and Secure Your iPhone and iPad
Take Control of Automating Your Mac
Take Control of Calendar and Reminders
Take Control of Catalina
Take Control of iOS 13 and iPadOS 13
Take Control of macOS Media Apps
Take Control of Notes
Take Control of Photos
Take Control of Upgrading to Catalina
Take Control of Wi-Fi Networking and Security
Take Control of Your Apple ID
Take Control of Your Browser
Take Control of Your Digital Photos

The sale ends promptly at midnight on Monday, December 2 (Pacific time).

✩✩✩

They have a large number of books available, covering almost any Mac or iOS topic you can imagine: https://www.takecontrolbooks.com/catalog/

The nice thing about their books: because they are electronic, you can find a book you want, buy it, download it, and be reading it almost immediately. Books are available in ePub (iPad and iPhone), Mobi (Kindle), and PDF (Acrobat) format.

macOS Catalina 10.5 configuration

At the October 2019, Strait Macintosh User Group had a brief demonstration of how to securely configure macOS Catalina. However, as the meeting was only an hour long, and there were lots of questions, most of those in attendance emerged dazed and confused. This included the person giving the presentation, but Lawrence Charters promised to publish a guide to the major points covered. He implied it would be published soon. He was wrong.

But the configuration document is now complete, and can be found at this link:

Securely Configuring macOS Catalina 10.15

October 2019: Configuring macOS Catalina 10.15

The October 15, 2019 meeting of Strait Macintosh User Group focused on macOS Catalina 10.15. The meeting was held at the Sequim Library, 630 N. Sequim Ave., Sequim, WA. Notes by Secretary Kathleen Charters.

Business Meeting

Meeting called to order at 7 p.m. by President Sabrina Davis. Sabrina welcomed three new visitors. Treasurer Annalis Schutzmann reported the treasury stood at $386.75. In response to a question, Annalis said dues are $24 for 12 months, per family.

The November meeting will be November 19, and the December meeting will be December 17, both at the Sequim Public Library.

Before the meeting started, Vice President Lawrence Charters explained the confusion over the email meeting announcement. Sabrina asked him to repeat the story…

Wave Broadband and Google Mail in conflict

Wave Broadband, the leading Internet Service Provider (ISP) on the Olympic Peninsula, had a surplus of problems in October. Lawrence has a Fingbox which, among other things, performs network security functions, and also checks for Internet slowdowns and outages. In the first two weeks, his Fingbox recorded six complete outages of an hour or more, and dozens of slowdowns and mini-outages.

One of these outages occurred late Friday, October 12, just as he sent off a message to the 293 addresses in the Strait Mac mailing list. This one message did make it to Wave Broadband, where it was expanded into 293 messages — which were held for four hours. When they were eventually delivered to Google (the straitmac.vicepresident account is on Google Mail), Google generated a bunch of cryptic error messages and bounced them back because they were suspiciously delayed. Google Mail only allows 500 messages in a 24 hour period, and the 293 outgoing messages and 293 incoming messages effectively shut down the account for a day.

Unaware of the problem, Lawrence was surprised to get a message from Sabrina on Monday, October 14, asking about the meeting. Lawrence did some research, found out about the 500 messages a day limit, and decided to send out a second message — just as Wave had a six-hour outage. The 293 outgoing messages and 293 bounces again shut down the account.

On Tuesday, October 15 (the day of the meeting), Lawrence sent out a message from his personal (not SMUG) account, and that one, thankfully, did reach everyone.

This story prompted a number of questions about Internet connectivity on the Olympic Peninsula, none of which have particularly encouraging answers. Except: do not have your only mail account on Wave, or Olypen, or any other local ISP (Internet Service Provider).

And now for the presentation —

Securely installing macOS Catalina

Security professionals recommend the following steps to securely install an operating system:

  • Do a full backup of your system.
  • Erase your hard drive — completely.
  • Do a “clean install” of your operating system (i.e., do a full install by downloading macOS Catalina directly from Apple, without any remains of a previous operating system, data, preferences, or anything else).
  • Do a “clean install” of all your applications.
  • Restore your data from your backup.

Except in government and corporate environments, hardly anyone ever does this. It is a lot of work.

macOS Catalina for Real People

Most living, breathing people should do this. It is less work. It is also less secure, but not that much less.

Preparation

Before anything else, run Disk Utility (you can find it in Applications > Utilities) and use First Aid to check the health of your hard drive. If your hard drive displays any problems, correct them before upgrading.

Press the First Aid button to check the health of your drive. You should get in the habit of doing this regularly, but especially before a major upgrade of the operating system.
Press the First Aid button to check the health of your drive. You should get in the habit of doing this regularly, but especially before a major upgrade of the operating system.

What does First Aid check? For one computer called Portacray, it checked a whole bunch of things. An “exit code” of 0 (zero) means everything was normal:

Started file system verification on disk1s5 Portacray
Verifying file system
Volume could not be unmounted
Using live mode
Performing fsck_apfs -n -l -x /dev/rdisk1s5
Checking the container superblock
Checking the EFI jumpstart record
Checking the space manager
Checking the space manager free queue trees
Checking the object map
Checking volume
Checking the APFS volume superblock
The volume Portacray was formatted by diskmanagemen (1412.0.28.171.1) and last modified by apfs_kext (1412.11.7)
Checking the object map
Checking the snapshot metadata tree
Checking the snapshot metadata
Checking snapshot 1 of 2 (com.apple.TimeMachine.2019-10-19-074436.local)
Checking snapshot 2 of 2 (com.apple.TimeMachine.2019-10-27-120314.local)
Checking the extent ref tree
Checking the fsroot tree
Verifying allocated space
The volume /dev/rdisk1s5 appears to be OK
File system check exit code is 0
Restoring the original state found as mounted
Finished file system verification on disk1s5 Portacray

After confirming the disk drive is in good shape:

  • Do a full backup of your computer. The easiest, cheapest, most thorough way to do this is through Time Machine. It comes with your Mac, it is easy to use, and as long as you don’t futz with it, it does an excellent job.
  • Make sure your computer is compatible with Catalina: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT210222 (But do this after the backup, since you should do a backup even if you aren’t upgrading.)
  • Update or remove all applications that are not 64-bit.
    • It doesn’t hurt to leave them as-is, but since they won’t work with Catalina, you might as well clear them out.
    • Got to Apple menu > About This Mac > System Report
    • Scroll down to Software > Applications
    • [Wait for the list to build then] Go to the extreme right column, 64-Bit (Intel) and sort the list by clicking on the heading. Update or remove anything important listed as “No.”
    • A good way to remove applications, plus their preference files: Appcleaner from FreeMacSoft. It is free.
    • If using the System Report is too much trouble (and it is awkward), an alternative: go to St. Clair Software, https://www.stclairsoft.com/Go64/ and download Go64. It produces a nice, annotated report, and yes, it is free.
Go64 report showing non-64 bit applications.
Go64 report showing non-64 bit applications. Worth noting: the Apple applications will be taken care of automagically by Apple. Most of the flagged Adobe applications are old, obsolete utilities. Adobe has a bad habit of not cleaning up after itself when updates are installed, and some of these leftovers are a decade old or more.
  • Empty the Trash.
  • Clean out everything from your Downloads folder.
  • Empty the cache from your browsers. All of them (Safari, Firefox, Chrome, whatever).
  • Clean up everything from your Desktop.
  • Update any existing applications that need updates.

Upgrading to Catalina is relatively simple

  • Make sure your computer is plugged into power, your Internet connection is solid, and the weather isn’t going to futz with power or Internet access.
  • Download macOS Catalina directly from Apple. Under Mojave, you would do this through System Preferences > Software Update.
  • Once downloaded, it should take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to install Catalina, answer all the startup questions, and log in again.

After you are finished and log in, you may see a curiously named folder on your desktop, Relocated Items.

Following a MacOS Catalina installation, you may notice a folder on your desktop called Relocated Items. In this screenshot, "Portacray" is the name of the computer's hard drive, complete with a custom icon. That's irrelevant to the Relocated Items, but some have asked if it has any special meaning. Nope; it is just a nerd joke.
Following a MacOS Catalina installation, you may notice a folder on your desktop called Relocated Items. In this screenshot, “Portacray” is the name of the computer’s hard drive, complete with a custom icon. That’s irrelevant to the Relocated Items, but some have asked if it has any special meaning. Nope; it is just a nerd joke.

This folder is really an alias (a pointer) to information that used to be in your System folder (operating system directory), but is not allowed under Catalina. In years past, developers (Adobe, Microsoft, zillions of small developers you don’t remember, and even Apple) stuck things in the System folder, but under Catalina’s vastly expanded security, this stuff is no longer allowed there. Nothing in the folder is active or useful; Apple stuck it there in case you recognize something, and want to ask the program’s developer for an update, or advice on what to do with it. Or (most likely), you find it is no longer useful, and you just toss it.

The folder, if it is produced, has a PDF file that (sorta) explains why it exists:

During the last macOS upgrade or file migration, some of your files couldn’t be moved to their new locations. This folder contains these files.

Configuration files

These configuration files were modified or customized by you, by another user, or by an app. The modifications are incompatible with the recent macOS upgrade. The modified files are in the Configuration folder, organized in subfolders named for their original locations.

To restore any of the custom configurations, compare your modifications with the configuration changes made during the macOS upgrade and combine them when possible.

You can delete the alias from your desktop; it doesn’t need to be there, and deleting it doesn’t delete anything else.

Securing macOS Catalina

This isn’t very difficult, but the process requires quite a few screenshots and has been moved to a stand-alone page. Most of the material applies to previous versions of macOS, too, though the screenshots used are from Catalina. Click the link below:

Securely configuring MacOS Catalina

Questions and Answers

Q: You mentioned you use 1Password for storing passwords. Does that mean I can get rid of Keychain?

A: 1Password is a commercial password manager for Macs, iPhones, and iPads. It has a much more user-friendly interface than Keychain Manager, or the Keychain Access management utility (located in Applications > Utilities). No, you can’t get rid of Keychain; it is the part of the Mac and iPhone and iPad operating systems that handles passwords. 1Password is essentially an easier to use editor for Keychain than Keychain Access.

Q: When you tell your browser to automatically log into a website, is that safe?

A: If the website is not something that handles your identity or reputation, or financial records, sure. But if a site deals with your reputation (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) or finances (IRS, Social Security, credit unions, banks, credit card companies, etc.), no, you don’t want your browser to automatically log in. Anyone sitting down at your computer, or anyone who steals your computer, could automatically log into any of those websites.

Q: If upgrading to Catalina is a hassle, why should I?

A: It isn’t that much of a hassle. If you have a bunch of out-of-date applications that can’t be upgraded, it means they are already security threats to your machine. Current and future software vendors will not support anything except 64-bit applications, and not upgrading won’t really do you any good.

For a variety of technical reasons, 64-bit applications are genuinely more secure, as well as faster. They will also take up less space on your hard drive, since the software companies will no longer have to wedge both 32-bit code and 64-bit code into their applications.

Q: Is Avast antivirus software good for scanning for malware?

A: Yes, but keep in mind that the way it works, it is scanning for malware constantly, even though your Mac may have never run into a piece of malware. Government agencies, teachers, accountants, lawyers, and certain other professionals should use an always-on malware scanner, but I prefer on-demand malware scanning. The one I use is called Bitdefender, available through Apple’s App Store, and it runs only when I tell it to run. I have a calendar entry to tell me to run it once a month.

Lawrence also showed the hidden, zippered pocket that he has in his polo shirt for holding his iPhone. The shirt was made by ScotteVest, which has a wide range of vests, coats, sweaters, shirts, skirts, shorts, etc., with “invisible” pockets for holding electronics. Lawrence explained that when he goes to the airport, he puts everything he wants into various pockets of a ScotteVest vest (watch, keys, wallet, passport, earphones, etc.) and, when he gets to the TSA screening area, takes the vest off and puts it in a bin. Then he picks it up on the other side of X-ray. Some of the men’s and women’s coats and vests have pockets large enough to hold a 10″ iPad.

November meeting: files

The November 19, 2019 meeting will have as the topic: organizing files. Apple tries hard to make organizing files easy, but life doesn’t necessarily easily separate things into Documents, Downloads, Movies, Music, Pictures, etc.

Other topics for future meetings mentioned were: Introduction to Google Drive (Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Forms, Google Maps, Google Sites, Google Photos, Google Keep, etc.), iPadOS (and integration with macOS), health care devices and apps, WordPress, and support alpacas. (It is possible that support alpacas don’t exist, and only Lawrence seems interested, and they probably have nothing to do with Macs or iPhones or iPads.)

June 2019: Web browsers, continued

Web browsers continued as the meeting topic at the June 18, 2019 Strait Macintosh User Group meeting. In a change from the past, the meeting was held at the Sequim Library, 630 N. Sequim Ave., Sequim, WA.

While President Sabrina Davis and others set up the room for the meeting, Vice President Lawrence Charters hosted a Q&A (Question and Answer) session. The overarching rule: the question had to be about Apple devices, and the question had to be something that could be asked and answered in three minutes or less.

Q&A

Q: I have a new iPhone, and am having trouble moving photos from my old phone to my Mac to my new phone.

A: Once upon a time, you used iPhotos or iTunes or some combination of the two to move photos. Today, by far the best solution is to use iCloud. Every Apple ID account offers 5 gigabytes of space in iCloud for photos, messages, email, and documents. This is not enough for most people, so buy some more space (it is inexpensive, and you can do that through the iClouds pane in macOS System Preferences or through Settings > Apple ID (click on your name at the top) > iCloud > Manage Storage in iOS). This will allow you to move photos around between your iPhone, iPad, and Mac seamlessly, as long as you have an Internet connection.

Q: What do you think of the new Mac [introduced at the June World Wide Developers Conference].

A: The new Mac Pro coming out in Fall 2019 will have a minimum of 8 Xeon W core processors, 32 gigabytes of memory, and 256 gigabytes of solid state disk (SSD) storage. If this is too little, you can configure it with up to 28 Xeon W core processors, 1.5 terabytes of memory, and 4 terabytes of SSD storage. It will start at around $6000, The accompanying Apple Pro Display XDR for the machine (optional) will cost $5000 or $6000, not including the $1000 stand. One person mentioned that it justified getting a bumper sticker that said, “My other car is a Mac.” Highly configurable, very powerful, and not intended for the average user.

Q: I have not upgraded since Sierra; and am reluctant to upgrade. How vulnerable am I to security issues?

A: macOS Mojave, the current operating system, is faster and more secure on your existing hardware. It is like getting a rebuilt engine for an old car, for free, with new tires, airbags and seat belts. You may have to upgrade some software, but you gain a currently supported, secure operating system, much more capable of protecting your computer and your data.

Every time Apple patches their software, they release notes on what was patched and why. Hackers use these notes to discover and exploit weaknesses in machines that have not been patched so: upgrade your system, and stay current. Don’t delay.

Q: Do I need Flash?

A: Flash is a security vulnerability and Mojave tries to keep you from using this; it is not installed by default. Adobe stopped development of Flash in 2017, and will completely abandon it in 2020. If you use something that requires Flash, stop using it. Find an alternative.

Q: My computer is warning me that an application is not optimized for my system. What does that mean?

A: macOS is warning you that the application is not a 32-bit native application, and will not work with future versions of macOS. Apple, and Microsoft with Windows, is pushing 64-bit operating systems and applications as the standard, for security reasons. (iOS has been 64-bit only since iOS 11.) The next version of macOS, macOS Catalina, will not run 32-bit applications.

While some companies, chiefly game companies, have sent out messages warning users that their software will stop running if using macOS Catalina, the real problem is that the game companies aren’t upgrading to their software. If you really think life will end without some obsolete software package, buy a used Mac, put the game or other application on it, and don’t let that machine ever touch the Internet.

Think of that warning message as: “I am a piece of obsolete software on your computer. I’m making your computer vulnerable.”

Note that the move to 64-bit-only is not unique to macOS; iOS moved to 64-bit-only several years ago, and Windows 10 is now moving to 64-bit-only. Intego has a nice blog entry on why 64-bit is better.

Fire Fox, Chrome, Safari, Edge popular Web browsers; 2B androids in use but may not have working browser, 70-80 malicious software per device; iOS does not have malicious software because can upgrade devices; 1 Android (Pixel) gets Google updates but not many devices; may see warnings that an app not optimized for new OS; game manufactures warn if upgrade to OS Catalina games may not work anymore; 64bit processors since 2003/4; can move more data at one time so more efficient, better memory management; 32bit vulnerable to hacker code but 64bit makes memory not used as reserved so hackers cannot exploit; a 32bit OS is less secure; the programs will not run; if run without Internet can use older machines with older OS

Officers, equipment and funds

President Sabrina Davis gave a brief overview of some changes in Strait Macintosh User Group, starting with: equipment and funs.

Sabrina was elected President in October 2018, with Lawrence Charters elected Vice President. They presided over the December 2018 meeting, and had planned out a meeting for February 2019, which was canceled due to a major snow storm.

Sometime in March 2019, some former members discussed, via an email exchange, dissolving the group. As far as we know, none of these individuals attended the October or December meetings, or had standing as officers, but they decided Strait Macintosh User Group was no longer functioning, and gave the treasury (roughly $2,800) and all equipment to Shipley Center, in Sequim. They did this without the President or Vice President calling a meeting, or a vote of the membership attending a meeting. Shipley informed us the funds and equipment are not recoverable.

The June 2019 meeting was moved to the Library because, without funds, we could not pay the room rental at the previous location. One limitation: we can’t book a room more than three months in advance, and can’t guarantee a date. We also do not have control over the old web site or forum, so created this new site, https://straitmac.wordpress.com. For a list of the current officers, see https://straitmac.wordpress.com/contact/.

Restarting SMUG

Our membership list is three years old, and needs to be updated. If you receive a message from us, and don’t want to, please just use the contact page to request we stop. We will be sending out notices to our mailing list of meetings and any other interesting events, and a volunteer will also post announcements on NextDoor.

We will be hosting monthly meetings for a while, to regain momentum. The next meeting will be the third Tuesday in July, July 16, 2019, at 7 p.m., at at the Sequim Library, 630 N. Sequim Ave., Sequim, WA. We can only reserve a room at the library a few months in advance; we can’t have a standing meeting for the entire year.

Several people were asked what do we do for money, since the treasury is empty. If we wish to have a custom domain for this website (straitmac.org or something that does not include “wordpress.com” in the name), and get rid of the advertising, we need $130-150 per year. If we wish to use another meeting space, and have a projector for presentations, we need considerably more. We will talk about options at future meetings.

Presentation: web browsers, continued

If it seems that much of the talk about web browsers involves security, there is a good reason: it does involve security.

The major current web browsers, in order, are Safari (on a billion and a half iOS devices, plus Macs), Chrome (on iOS devices, Android devices, Macs, and Windows), Firefox (on Macs, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS devices), Microsoft Edge (on Windows and, now in beta, on Macs), and Internet Explorer (completely abandoned by Microsoft, but still used on almost a billion compromised machines).

HTTPS Everywhere, a free browser extension for Chrome (but not Safari) puts up a giant warning screen when you attempt to visit an insecure website.

Almost all Mac and iOS compromises involve something download over the web, so it is important to keep all your iOS and Mac devices running the current operating system and a current browser. If your device is too old to support a current operating system, don’t connect it to the Internet.

Your day-to-day account on your Mac should be a non-admin account. Why? An admin account can accidentally authorize a piece of malware to be installed by simply clicking an “OK” box in your browser. Non-admin accounts cannot install software and, therefore, are far more secure from accidental compromise.

The big reason over a billion Windows machines are infected with malware: they are running obsolete versions of Windows, and the user account is an admin account. In the U.S., the government is as guilty as this as anyone else; the U.S. Navy, for example, is still in the process of retiring thousands of machines running Windows XP and Windows 7, instead of the current Windows 10.

If you think you, the “average user,” are not vulnerable — you most definitely are a target, and are vulnerable. Thieves are attacking not only adults and teens, but even taking out credit and home loans in the names of one year olds, confident that it will be a decade or more before the child learns their credit has been ruined. Even if they scam you out of only a couple hundred dollars, this is still a tempting target for thieves, as they can attack hundreds or thousand of accounts a day.

Visiting straitmac.org with Safari is flagged as “Not secure.”

To protect yourself, avoid unencrypted sites. The old Strait Macintosh User Group Site, straitmac.org, is unencrypted. If you visit with Safari, Chrome or Microsoft Edge for Mac (now in beta), the location bar will flag the site as “Not Secure” because it does not have a valid security certificate. The SMUG Forum is also not encrypted, which means that user names and passwords entered on the site are sent in clear text and can be intercepted and exploited. This is, by the way, why you should use unique passwords for every account, as otherwise, all a hacker has to do is compromise one site and they can use that password on any and every site that you’ve reused that password.

Visiting straitmac.org with Chrome is flagged as “Not secure.”

To keep track of all the unique passwords, use a password vault, such as 1Password. The iPhone and the Mac versions of 1Password sync, allowing you to use 1Password on your iPhone when away from Mac. 1Password can do more than store passwords; you can also use it to store credit cards, your license plate number your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), or anything else that is associated with you as an individual and is difficult to remember.

Someone asked if 1Password was different from Keychain, Apple’s built-in technology for storing and syncing passwords. The short answer is that they accomplish the same goals, but Keychain tends to confuse most users, whereas most users have no trouble at all properly using 1Password. Take Control Books, by the way, has electronic books on how to use 1Password, specifically, and how to manage Your Passwords, generally.

Visiting straitmac.org with Microsoft Edge for Macintosh (beta) is flagged as “Not Secure.”

straitmac.wordpress.com– shows a lock; secure site; has valid certificate from a 3rd party; has been audited; Browsers recognize this as a legitimate site; the machine has a valid certificate for the site so can encrypt the information exchanged; Chrome shows green icon if very secure e.g., banks; 

Safari, Chrome, and Firefox were briefly demonstrated, with brought up two interesting questions:

Why would you need more than one browser? The answer is: there are sites that might not work with Safari that will work with Chrome, or Firefox. Since the browsers are free, there is no “cost” to having all three. Another important consideration: Apple tends to update Safari, on the Mac and in iOS, with new operating system releases; Chrome checks to see if it needs to be updated every time it launches, and doesn’t bother to even ask you about updates. Firefox is somewhat in the middle; it checks every time, but asks you before updating.

The second question: is it possible for a site to be secure with one browser and not secure with another? The literal answer is: no. A properly secure site should be secure with all browsers, and if it is insecure with any browser it should be considered insecure with all. However, it is possible for a site to be secure and not work properly with a given browser. Again, this is a good reason to have Safari, Chrome and Firefox.

July meeting, third Tuesday, July 16, 7 p.m.

The July meeting topic will be an open-ended Q&A (Question and Answer) meeting. There are simple rules: the question must be about an Apple product, or something that runs on an Apple product, and the answer must be something that can be reasonably handled in a three to five minute answer. Questions do not need to be answered by a SMUG officer; if you know the answer to a question, feel free to chime right in.

Coming soon

Coming soon

Apple WWDC19 was full of wonders

Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) was held earlier today, and Apple made a number of announcements:

New Mac Pro is a highly customizable box.
The new Mac Pro is endlessly customizable, offering huge amounts of memory, storage, video power, etc. There is even a rack-mounted version, in case you want a small herd of these for crunching vast herds of bits and bytes.
  • iOS 13 is aimed at being much faster, even on existing hardware, and is bringing Dark Mode to the small screen, along with outstanding security and privacy;
  • iPad software is being split off from the iPhone to a new iPadOS, with features that take advantage of the vastly larger screen;
  • the Mac Pro returns, in a powerful 28-core monster;
  • Apple returns to the display business with an exotic Pro Display XDR;
  • watchOS 6 will add new health and fitness metrics and capabilities, and new watch faces;
  • tvOS 13 will allow multiple user profiles, so you can watch what you want, and listen to what you want;
  • macOS Catalina returns to the California coast, and splits iTunes apart with separate apps for Apple Music, podcasts, and Apple TV;
  • another huge change to macOS Catalina is Sidecar, a built-in capability to use your iPad as an additional screen of your Mac, and use iPad capabilities — such as the pen — with your Mac;
  • accessibility changes, to macOS, iOS, and iPadOS, promise to vastly expand what can be done by those with vision, hearing, or mobility limitations, including both the very young and the very old.
iPadOS showing Dark Mode and something more than apps on the home screen.
New iPadOS showing Dark Mode and the ability to display information on the home screen.

You can watch the keynote (a bit more than two hours) here.

Tapping the Apple Watch face will soon allow you to record a voice memo.
Soon you will be able to record a voice memo on your Apple Watch with just a tap.

Most people will never own a Mac Pro; fully equipped with the new Pro Display XDR, you could buy a decent car — a new car — for the same price, or less. But almost everyone with an Apple device will benefit from iOS 13, iPadOS, tvOS 13, watchOS 6, and macOS Catalina. In particular, the accessibility features, and the vastly expanded iPad capabilities, are worth a long, thoughtful look. And the security and privacy features built into the new operating systems — all the operating systems — are extraordinary.

The programming tools will roll out immediately, with the finished iPhone, iPad, watch, TV, and Mac operating systems coming out in the fall. The Mac Pro and Pro Monitor will be out “this fall,” but you can sign up to be notified when they are getting close.

An iPhone Note in Dark Mode, with an option to send an email notification directly from the Note.
iPhone Notes in Dark Mode, with the option of sending an email notification directly from the note.

Since this is the World Wide Developers conference, there was also a presentation on coding, and it was impressive. While GUI (Graphical User Interface) programming has been touted for a couple decades, the reality is that complex programming is almost entirely based on thousands, or millions, of lines of text-only code. But with the forthcoming Xcode 11, you really can drag-and-drop large chunks of graphical elements, and large chunks of code, into your application code. And Apple has vastly reduced the code barriers between macOS and iOS apps with new technology that lets you very quickly, and fairly painlessly, transform an iOS app into a Macintosh application in just a few days.

Xcode 11 will offer drag-and-drop programming, and you can code for a Watch, Apple TV, Mac, iPad or iPhone by just selecting an option at the start of the project -- and little more.
Code on the left, with a live preview of the result on the right, compliments of the new Xcode 11.