Springing Into Summer

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Whew! I'm not sure how but this Spring has just flown by. We are now basically done with all the work to our home and I have unpacked the boxes that were packed during October's evacuation - it feels amazing. I am still in a state of wonder that our home and neighborhood are here. Yes, it's still hard to drive around but seeing all the homes under construction is life affirming. We are also grateful to be able to help our clients who have had major losses get back up and running. All of these things help me to stay in a state of profound gratitude each day as I wander this amazing road called life. 

It also seems hard to believe that it has been two months since I reached out to you - my amazing clients! However I am now ready to once again begin regular communication via my newsletter. This newsletter will be for June and July, then in August I will begin to send out regular monthly news and and important updates I feel can benefit you. This newsletter has lots(!!!) of information so feel free to use the links at the side to jump to what interests you the most. 

Apple's World Wide Developer Conference happened in early June and Tim Cook and his team talked about all the upgrades coming later this year - thoughts and recommendations are below. There has been an uptick in scams via web browsers, robocalls and email so once again security is at the forefront of our minds. Another area that is taking off is home automation - look for more on this topic as we move through the year. We have also been helping many of you migrate to new computers so I will talk a bit about that and why it's important to keep your technology upgraded (both hardware and software).

Ronnie

Holiday hours: Phones are closed on the July 4th Holiday - you are welcome to leave a message that will be returned on Thursday July 5th. 


POLICY REMINDERS

At least once a year I like to publish our basic policies related to both home/office visits and phone/remote support appointments. 

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1. Home and Office visits require a one hour minimum charge and then are billed in 15 minute increments for the remaining time. 
2. There is a flat $25 travel charge for all service outside of Santa Rosa city limits. Distances of over 45 minutes one way drive time may have an increased travel charge. 
3. Tech support phone calls / remote support appointments are billed as follows:

  • 5-15 minutes: $25 flat fee
  • 16 to 30 minutes: $50 flat fee
  • Anything over 30 minutes will be charged at the regular hourly rate. To serve you best we prefer to schedule these calls in advance unless it is an emergency. 

4. We request that you honor our 24 hour cancellation/reschedule policy. If you do miss a scheduled appointment we will invoice you for one hour's time.

5. Payment is due at time of service* and we accept personal checks and all major credit cards. Our credit card processing is done through Square. 

*IF you do need to be invoiced for payment later, please let the office know when scheduling the appointment. 


APPLE WORLDWIDE DEVELOPERS CONFERENCE (WWDC)

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Apple's WWDC happened in early June and they showed off the upcoming software upgrades in the pipeline for later this year. Mainly, they introduced macOS 10.14 MojaveiOS 12, and for those of you with an Apple watch, watchOS 5. Each of these updates are focusing on a better user experience and are seriously focused on security and privacy - especially via Apple's Safari and watch OS. There are too many individual updates to talk about in a single newsletter but here are some of my favorites:

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  • Desktop stacks, which group together related icons into piles, auto-tidying your desktop, and expand with a tap. You can also scrub through a stack with gestures to scroll to an individual file that you're seeking out. 
  • Your desktop image can be set to change over the course of a day too. New Apple-designed options of, say, a desert panorama, will change from morning through to noon, evening, and the dead of night as time in your local location changes. (Note: in a much older OS, there was software that did this and I loved it!)
  • Safari is getting some major privacy features - unsurprisingly, given the year's Facebook scandal and Europe's newly introduced GDPR requirements. They will be shutting down cookies that track you across websites, making sure Safari asks permission before it allows the cookies any kind of access to your browsing data. These Safari features will carry over into iOS 12, too.
  • macOS will ask for permission for more features, now including the camera and microphone. It will also provide more robust protection to your file system.

iOS 12
 

iOS 12's main focus is on improved performance (especially for older iPhones/iPads -  hurray!) There will also be some tweaks to the Photos app and a more robust Siri integrated with the ability to build 'shortcuts' to group a series of commands. 

If you are interested you can watch a repeat broadcast of the keynote from WWDC here OR just read through the announcements. 


Of course for both OS's all these features are in the current BETA developers releases and we won't know for sure until the actual release what features made it to the final release. Apple hasn't given us a firm release date for any of this software but we expect it to be this fall.  

See below for how to prepare now.


OPERATING SYSTEM STATUS
(iOS and Mac OS)

In my April newsletter I sent out Mac and iOS recommendations and I have updated the information and recommendations based on the announcement of both a new macOS and iOS. Please read below to see what you should do now!

Mac OS
See below for hardware recommendations before considering upgrading your software.

Mac OS High Sierra (10.13.5)
YES, with CAUTION

I am recommending upgrading to High Sierra now BUT please read the cautions below. IF you have already upgraded, intentionally or not, OR you have a new computer that shipped with High Sierra, please be sure to install any security updates offered by Apple immediately and be sure that your OS is at 10.13.5 (released recently). NOTE: if you are updating to 10.13.5 you will be asked to 'store documents and data in iCloud" - just uncheck this option. 
 

IF you haven't installed or had us install High Sierra, I am recommending a 'cautious' upgrade. By this I mean that the OS is pretty solid now for most users BUT - and this is a big one - IF you have a lot of older software that needs to keep running DO NOT upgrade. With each new OS, Apple is dropping support for more and more older software.  

HARDWARE RECOMMENDATIONS
Even though Apple's requirements allow both Sierra and High Sierra to be installed on machines from 2010 (in some cases 2009) and later, we do not recommend doing so!! These upgrades will drastically tax older hardware and you will not be happy with the results. We are recommending computers have at least 8 GB of ram, ideally an SSD (solid state drive) and be no older than 2013. Please see the article below about why it's important to keep your hardware current. 

As always - Please call us for assistance with your upgrade if you have questions or concerns. We are seeing a few issues with the install of High Sierra - it is a slow upgrade and requires some patience. Please plan to let the upgrade process proceed uninterrupted. Also - BE SURE TO HAVE A CURRENT BACKUP before you start.

You can check which version of the Mac OS you are running by clicking on the Apple Menu and selecting 'About This Mac'.

COMPLETELY SAFE AND RECOMMENDED Mac OS: 

Mac OS Sierra (10.12.6)

Sierra is very stable OS for your computer. It has been updated enough to have the majority of the bugs/glitches out and third-party support is very widespread. BUT you can only obtain it through us - it is no longer available through the Mac Apps store. 

Mac OS El Capitan (10.11.6)

Apple will most likely stop supporting this OS in the next few months. BUT in the meantime they just released an important security and Safari updates to address the Intel vulnerability. Please be sure to install it!!! We are already seeing issues with web compatibility under 10.11. This means that web browsers and email in 10.11 or earlier are now vulnerable to all that nasty stuff out there.
 

iOS for iPhones and iPads
 

iOS 11.4

YES!  Assuming your device is either new(er) OR IF your device is older (iPhone 6, 6s, or iPhone SE) and you have taken advantage of Apple's battery replacement program, be sure to update to 11.4 to get the most important security update addressing the Intel issue and give you more control of your battery life and encompasses several bug fixes.


HOW LONG SHOULD MY COMPUTER LAST?

First a basic term clarification: 

  • Upgrade refers to a major system (software) or hardware change. 
  • Updates are the ongoing patches, versions, security updates, etc. That are offered throughout the year for all your software. 

Many people consider buying a new computer a pretty large financial outlay and expect their purchase to last a long time.  

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The reality is the average lifespan of a desktop computer is about three to five years. Laptops slightly less if they are used as designed and truly mobile - if your laptop sits at your home/office most of the time then the three to five year rule applies. There are many variables that can reduce the life span though, such as how much you use it and how hard you push it, environmental heat and humidity and dust. So while you might have had, or know someone who has, a computer that has been working longer, this is the exception not the rule. For most of us, two things drive the need to replace a computer - it fails in some way and repair does not make financial sense OR more often we need new software or hardware to be able to do what we want/need to do.

 
Hardware is pretty basic.

If you treat your computer well by keeping it and the plugs and the area around it dust free, having the hardware work for more than three years is pretty typical. IF however you allow dust (enemy number one) to build up, your computer will slow down and potentially fail sooner. If your environment is unusually hot, cold or very damp you will also see issues with a computer before the four to five year mark. Hard drives (where your files are stored) - can fail or can get full but this is often a repair that is worth the few hundred dollars it costs. However this upgrade is much harder and often not an option for the newest Apple computers. Most computers can have the RAM - memory upgraded after a few years for a reasonable cost - BUT this too has changed with Apple's latest product releases. IF you are buying new, be sure to check and buy as much RAM and storage as you can afford because many new machines cannot be upgraded later. 


A note about hard drives: Also it is important to note that all iMacs today offer a choice of a standard HDD (spinning) hard drive, a Fusion drive (combines standard and SSD drive) or an SSD (solid state, doesn't spin) drive. The newest laptops only offer SSD drives. Why do you care? Simply put: SSD is faster. HDD (spinning drive) is bigger and "may" fail sooner because is spins. Fusion Drive uses both, and gives you a mix of speed and size. Apple's current OS's all run much better on an SSD drive BUT SSD drives are still somewhat more expensive so if you need a lot of storage and still want speed go with a Fusion drive. 
 

Software is more of a moving target with every developer, including Apple, having different requirements.  

Mac OS - Apple releases a new operating system about once every 12-14 months. Once they release a new OS they typically drop support for an older OS - i.e. Last year Apple stopped releasing Security updates for Mac OS 10.10 (Yosemite) and we expect them to drop support for 10.11. (ElCapitan) soon. We are already seeing issues with web compatibility under 10.11.  This means that web browsers and email in 10.11 or earlier are now vulnerable to all that nasty stuff out there. 


Apple has not really changed the hardware requirements since the  release of Sierra in 2016. BUT this does not mean you should install 10.12 - Sierra OR 10.13 High Sierra on a five +  year old machine. In fact attempting to can cause all kinds of issues, none of which are easy to fix!! If you have a computer that is five years old or older it is truly time to consider new equipment. 

Third Party Software

As you would expect, third party software ranges from software that runs on many generations of hardware and versions of the Mac OS - think Microsoft Office, Firefox, Flash, Adobe Reader to software that often requires a relatively new computer OR at least the latest Mac OS - most often this is financial software / web sites or the Adobe Creative Suite type software. Apple is dropping support for 32 bit apps with the release of Mojave this year. This means that users of Microsoft Office will need to be running Office Mac 2016 or Office Mac 265 (subscription.) Users of Quickbooks need to upgrade to 2016 in preparation for a new version next year. Quicken 2007 is also showing some issues under High Sierra - please let us know if you have questions about alternatives. 

So how to think long term?

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The time to make a decision about how long to keep a computer is when you buy a new  one. When we help a clients decide what computer to buy, we ask many questions  about how they use the computer, how long they like/plan to keep a computer and what is on their wish list of how they might use the computer in the future. Then we look at options, factoring in budget, total storage, RAM (memory), and processor (speed) and I make the best recommendation. However, we always say that planning for a three to five year life is the best - think ahead like this and you will avoid many issues that crop up when using an older computer and have the budget in place to replace your computer in a timely fashion. A bonus? Moving from a three to five year-old computer running a relatively current OS is MUCH, MUCH easier and LESS EXPENSIVE than moving from a five + year old computer that has never been upgraded.
 

Another way to ensure the longevity of your computer is good maintenance -- We are once again offering our Tune Up Special! (Read on for details.) 

During your tuneup we can offer advice on how to get your computers running Mac OS 10.12 (Sierra) or Mac OS 10.13 (High Sierra) or advise on a new purchase. 


SUMMER TUNE UP SPECIAL!! 

$30 off a 90 MINUTES TUNE UP*      

Your Summer Tune-Up includes:  

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  • Basic verification and repair (as possible) of your Mac OS operating system and hard drive. Updates to the same.
  • Updating any third-party software you run. Removal of any questionable / outdated software.
  • Verification and  consultation about your backups.
  • Verification of syncing your iOS devices.
  • We are also happy to discuss software upgrades or new computer options
  • Each appointment includes approximately 30 - 45 minutes of time for questions and/or training. 

Call Today
707.573.9649
to book an appointment with John, our Technology Simplified Tech/Trainer. 

  * Offer does not apply to troubleshooting / diagnostics or major Mac OS upgrades. Appointments must be booked by 7/21/2018 and completed by 7/31/2018. Limited to the first 20 appointments.


UPGRADE SPECIAL

15% OFF YOUR MAC OS UPGRADE TO SIERRA OR HIGH SIERRA    

Your appointment includes:  

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  • Verification your backup is current and complete
  • Verification your hardware meets upgrade system requirements
  • Quick computer diagnostic / verification 
  • Upgrade installation
    (NOTE: you will have time during installation to ask questions about your other devices - iPhone, iPad, etc.)
  • Post-upgrade verification of everyday software: e-mail, printing, web browser, word processing, etc. 

NOTE: If you have software specific concerns please have a list of questionable software ready for John before the upgrade.  

 

Call Today 707.573.9649

to book an appointment with John,
our Technology Simplified Tech / Trainer. 

    

*Offer is good through end of July. Discount applies only to major OS upgrades and requires a two-hour minimum appointment.


PRIVACY, SHARING, AND MORE

What does GRDP and the European Union have to do with you?

You may have recently been inundated with a flurry of email requests to confirm your desire to continue to receiving communication from various businesses. This is due to new regulations - GRDP - for any entity doing business in Europe. 

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (EU) 2016/679 is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA). It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU and EEA areas. The GDPR aims primarily to give control to citizens and residents over their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulation within the EU.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Data_Protection_Regulation

The US hasn't made moves towards any requirements such as this yet but at some point don't be surprised to see discussions about this. In the meantime IF you are getting requests to stay on a mailing list from a company you know and do business with, it is okay to go ahead and say yes, keep me on your list. OR if you do not want continued contact with the company just use the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email. I am honestly still undecided on how I will handle this and we are researching the best / easiest way -  but please know we have always valued your privacy and we do not share any information with outside companies and never will.